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  1. Tuesday night at the Mind and Body Yoga Studio Bury is Gentle Hatha Night.

    Gentle Hatha means that you wont end the evening in a pool of sweat! So if you are looking for a "physical yoga workout" the Tuesday night is not the session for you. However, it is can be a workout for the mind.

    We start the session in a ten minute Savasana or corpse pose allowing the students to relax and settle the musculature. During this time the students are invited to make a sankalpa or resolve for the session - in other words what they would like the outcome of the session to be for them. This can be physical, psychological or emotional or a mixture of the three. They are invited to come up with a sentence making this resolve and to say it to themselves several times with meaning, and even emotion so it stays with their thinking. They do this without knowing what the postures will be so they can get an emotional spring cleaning if they resolve while at the same time getting a gentle hatha experience.

    Once out of the Savasana students spend a little time warming up with a variety of standing movements that gently coach the energies of the body to come alive ready for the ensuing posture practice.

    In this gentle session the students practice a number of classic poses but often chunking the intensity down allowing for milder bodily sensations that still command their attention.

    In the midst of a gentle pose using the breath in a slow and comfortable way students have a greater opportunity to become more absorbed in their practice leading to a more soothing experience. Yet with this stroking and caressing of the body there comes a greater sense of focus and concentration that makes for a session that is not necessarily passive and pedestrian.

    In many ways the challenge becomes more of a mental than a physical one but can be equally satisfying leaving you feeling that you have definitely had a yoga experience.

    This kind of session is good to adopt occasionally through the week. In contrast when we have stacks of energy we can practice our yoga with more zest going more deeply into the postures and surfing our working edge even going into unknown territory albeit with care.

    On the other hand it is not always a good thing to practice with this intensity all the time. Some students can get addicted to this kind of powerful work and it can lead to a build up of unwanted tensions - the very thing that yoga is trying to eliminate.

    Strong practice can be good but in balance.

    Remember that gentle deliberate posturing can bring many benefits and has that kind of mental caressing effect on the mind which is what most of us want in the end anyway: peace.


    Barry Todd (HathaYoagMan)

  2. yoga classA lot of the yoga we practice in the West is associated with "asana classes" or classes for posturing and this makes it all too easy to slip into the belief that yoga is really a physical thing. On further nvestiagtion we then come to see that yoga is really about the mind and that asana practice is really working with the minds outer reaches or outer cicuitry. In other words the body is quite tuned into the mind and visa versa whether we like it or not. So even if we only spend time working with the body in asana and breathing we will still influence the mind.

    What's amazing is that most postures or asanas while they have a physical form and feeling are almost certain to have a psychological component to them. So for example if you fold or bend forward you are more than likely to close down psychologically and emotionally Alternately, if you practice a string of backbends for a while you are more likely to feel open and energized.

    One of the most neglected groups of yoga asanas are those aimed at core strength largely because they sound like hard work! To be fair they can sometimes feel like hard work if we over do them. Like all asanas however, we would do better to approach them with the same mind set that we apply to all asana. They still need to feel comfortable, almost as comfortable as sitting down.

    Core strength asanas are worth cultivating for a number of reasons.

    If you believe you have strong arms you may think that core strength can be put off but in reality even if your arms are strong a weak core can let you down. A strong and tomed core can act as a useful lever or support mechanism for the upper and lower body. In other words it is a great help when manoeuvring the upper body or the legs. This is bourne out when we look at the two most simple core strength poses: Simple Sit Ups (the core lifting the upper body) and Simple Leg Lifts (core lifts legs). If you practcie these the condition of your core will improve.

    Furthermore, as we have said above there is a psychological component to most asana and a strong core is no exception. When you are stonger on the inside you are stronger on the outside. Your psych and personality is likely to be stronger at the surface because you are stronger inside.

    What's amazing though is that simply crunching the gut will not necessarily lead to this outcome. There is a need to work psychosomatically. Releasing and absorbing into core asanas as you would with any other. Cultivating this by evolving to core asana with a greater degree of difficulty can make that all important psycholgical link - albeit you may require a teachers guidance with this. We can allow the experience of deep sensitivity that focused asana brings to translate psychosomatically into the deeper recesses of the mind. This can often only be experienced with prolonged meaningful practice. Core asanas in particular can bring a deeper sense of absorption as to maintain them we are required to bring together additional mental focus and physical strength.

    It is hardly surprising that this area of the anatomy sits with the Third Chakra behind the navel. This is the Chakra that is associated with power, individualism, energy, fearlessness, confidence, strength of will and intution.

    Never Give Up and Always Let Go!

    Barry Todd (HathaYogaMan)


  3. relaxAs a yoga teacher at the Mind and Body Studio in Bury I teach every day and hardly ever get the chance to attend another class just for me so to speak.

    You might well ask, "Why should a yoga teacher need to attend a class? Surely, if they are a yoga teacher they must be so laid back that they are nearly falling over and don't they meditate more than anyone else anyway!" Well, there may be truth in some of this but teaching yoga is not like doing your own practice where you have the opportunity to absolutely focus on absorbing yourself into every pose and allowing the body to melt down into the serenity of complete stillness!! Meditation can also be hard work or a least feel effortful.

    What's good about being on the receiving end of a class teacher is that they navigate you through a journey and you simply have to let that happen and enjoy the ride.

    This is what happened to me last week but it wasn't a yoga class this time although this can happen in a yoga class.

    I attended one of Andrea's one hour Chill Out sessions on Thursday evening at 6.30pm and she did just what I said above. Her voice navigated me into melting down into serenity of complete stillness, complete calmness. It was just what I neeeded at the end of a full and fractous week. Even though I have practiced yoga for over thirty years I am still human and some weeks when I have perhaps neglected my personal practice I do feel like my nerves have been stretched out like a piano wire!

    Andrea's session dissolved all that and I had a great feeling that lasted over the weekend.The amazing thing is that I didn't really remember much of what she was talking about in the session although I am sure it would have been meaningful. For all I know though she could have been talking gobbledygook for most of the time. All I know is that I felt amazing after that hour.

    The Chill Out session is a great way to wind down your week, why not give it a try and if you book on to the 7.30 Yoga class that follows you get the Chill Out session free!

    Never Give Up and Always Let Go!

    Barry (HathaYogaMan)