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  1. yoga

    There are ten yamas and niyamas. One for every finger. They are a bit like ten commandments but because yoga is not religeous they are provide us more with guidelines or mental supports.

    The yamas are referred to as restraints and are called ahimsa - non harming, satya - truthfulness, asteya - non stealing, bramacharya - non over indulgence of the senses, aparigraha - non greed.

    The niyamas are referred to as observances and include: sauca - purity of body and mind, santosha - contentedness , tapas - a firy ambition to apply oneself, svadhyaya - self enquiry and ishvarapranidharna - surrendering everything to something higher than ourselves.

    These are very lofty and ambitious qialities to apply to eveyday life. When you look at them you may well say well, yes I think I might be close to achieving some of them but not sure about the others.

    To try and apply them to daily living with ourselves and interactions with others can be daunting and as they appear at the start of Patanjalies 8 Limbs of the yoga process it can seem like we have to master them before we get down to postures or asanas. Good luck with that. Come back in a few years I hear you say.

    In another reality it may be more sensible to use them in our daily yoga practice as supports to tht practice and this way we cna begin to merge them into our thinking and in time they can trnaslate into daily like.

    So how might this happen.

    Well, ahimsa can be chunked down from restraining from non hurting, harming or injuring ourselves or other in our thought, words and actions to something more accessible such as simply be caring with yourself in pratice. Satya can simply be being truthful with yourself. Asteya can be not "stealing" from yourself that which you intuitively don't want to give such as energy etc. bramacharya can be wise use of energy and aparigraha simply avoiding greed ( eg don't over pratice)

    Sauca can be simply clean in body and mind and practice area. Santosha seek to be content with your current situation even if you still want to improve. Tapas practice regulalrly even if only 10 minutes a day. Svadhyaya self enquire or learn as much as you can about yourself and ishvara pranidharana can be simply trusting the power inside you (intuition).

    This approach is more accessible and it will still have a subtle effect over time and if you keep looking back at the mening behind the concepts you will likely find that you are getting stronger with them as the months and years go by.

    Remember, most importantly that like all the techniques in the 8 limbs of yoga the yamas and niyamas are tools for your use as practitioners and you are not meant to be slaves to them.

    Barry Todd

  2. guitar
     
    Are Parlour music evening the thing of the future? They certainly are in Australia  as people are getting fed up with paying wage packet prices to see their fav. bands - Initimate events are now the main attraction.
    The benefits of an intimate lounge/parlour type event is that you are close up and friendly  getting the full impact of the performance. Watching from a tiered arena is one step better than a BIG tv screen. Admittedly you won't get Cold Play or U2 performing in a lounge but they all started somewhere. When you've been priviledged to see a band in it's formative years it's always thrilling to reflect back during their success.  

    After all what is live  music all about?  It's not about watching someone famous, it's about listening to some serious talent and letting the vibrations get into your soul.  Being close enough to feel almost at one with them as they perform and listen to their often very personal stories behind some of the music they have chosen to share with you for the evening.

    Andrea Lowe,  Zen Lounge

  3.  P1000452

    Yoga is often a science of misconception. What I thought yoga was about when I started practising many years ago has changed many times over the years and in fact the whole idea of yoga is open to interpretation. Having said that everyone can find something they need in yoga whether it is toning and flexibility, a calm mind or stronger mind, undestanding thoughts an feelings, a complement to their sporting regime, better mental health, focus and concentration, physical and emotional balance, spiritual fulfilment etc etc. or they may want all of these things.

    I started when I was preparing for my GCE's at school when a fellow pupil told me a friend of theirs  only needed 2 hours sleep and had amazing concentration skills because of yoga. I was impressed and curious and wondered if yoga could do the same for me. I wasn't totally sure whether to believe the sleep thing but some adults at the time said it definitley had a connection with calmness and relieving nervous tension which I had loads of! I just had to try it. I must say that very early on I felt a bit special knowing that I was now a "yogi" practising this ancient mystical discipline and revealed it only to those very close to me. They thought it was just a phase I was going through. Well, many years later I'm still with it.

    Yoga definitely helped me through my GCE's then later A Levels and subsequent examinations by practising the postures, the breathing, relaxation and meditation. If not at the time, I probably came to realize much later how it all worked. How the postures began to make me feel physically more comfortable. The relaxation putting me on better terms with my feelings and emotions and the meditation bringing the incredible benefits of sitting in stillness. That also impoved my patience! The breathing sort of glued everything together.

    The greatest thing of all at that time when under the control of a structured school and later college regime and still at home under parental house rules so to speak,  was that yoga began to give me a growing sense of self empowerment. When I was in a tight corner in class, in the exam room or with the occasional family or friend confrontation I could just connect with my breath and find that calm abiding that all the great yoga sages talk about. It takes daily practice over time but it gets stronger. Cultivating that growong sense of physical awareness and the subtle power of the breath and stillness can help your own yoga practice evolve in a personal and individual way.

    You get on better terms with feelings and emotions and the continuous self enquiry improves the relationship you have with yourself and this translates onto relationshigps with others. You see things coming that bit quicker than the next person, you become less reationary and you begin to get over those day to day mini traumas more quickly so you can get on with your life in a more positive and creative way.

    So try yoga. By all means try it to get more toned, flexible and strong. To get calmer and more focused. To improve concentration. As a psycholigical buttress. But always remember that thread that runs through all practice that thread of self empowerment. Yoga can be that life long friend and rock from hereon in. The one nobody else sees but can sense it in your demeanour and the way you deal with life.

    Barry Todd

     

  4. fearThe use of fear

    Who would want to use fear you might ask.  It would seems strange to purposefully create a fear in another human being.  Yet it is something that, at least in our culture, we are brought up with.
     
    Think of parenting, using fear as a way to protect a child from harm, yet embedding in them an uncertainty as their very foundation and all they know, their base is put under threat. 'Mind you don't fall; don't go to near the edge, don't burn your fingers, even though not meant to be, are all suggestions of the danger that is waiting to harm safety.  If you read the 'Continuum Concept' by
    Jean Liedoff, you will discover that in some cultures trust rather than caution is used to keep the children safe, still maintaining that wonderful feeling of safeness and security whilst exploring and discovering.  So phrases like 'this is where you balance really well; you know how far to go; its good how you know fire can burn' for instance are much more positive, not taking away their individuality and self preservation instincts. The examples in the continuum concept are even less prescriptive and much more trusting.
     
    So is it any wonder that as a culture and as individuals we are open to being influenced and made fearful by predicted failures insecurities and disasters?
    The worried parent who is fearful that you will not achieve the status they think you deserve, telling you what you have to do or else you will never amount to anything! But it's too late you already are 'something. and the person that you may become might not be everyone's idea of successful but if you are happy ....? or That not very nice husband or boyfriend who has worn you down with predictions of your helplessness and worse if you leave him. His fear of losing what he wants is influencing him to intimidate you.
     
    On a less personal level and prevalent right now politicians who spread fear in the hope of encouraging the masses to listen to them and get them what they want, when the fear is simply based on their opinion and exaggerated at that. 
    They are unable to trust the populace to make their own informed opinion  Difficult when the facts have been so warped from political fear.
     
    We have been brought up to move away from perceived fear and run to protect ourselves.  Yet deep down we know this is not the way.  Look at all the super-heroes that we love to watch.  They go into real danger only, face it and sort it out.  They don't sit wondering what might happen and imagining dangers..
     
    Franklin Roosevelt famously said 
    'The only thing we have to fear is fear itself' 
    Quite right it sabotages and freezes, limits emotions and opportunities.
     
    Makebe this avoidence of fear is why we often like to experience fear in entertainment, watch feaful things happening to others and feel the horror or take part in scary activities that you know are safe and controlled.
    Because our natural instinct before all the indoctrination is to face fear and overcome it - enhileratingly satisfying!
     
    If you can be a little analytical when you hear someone sprouting fear at you then you can begin to be your own super-hero and move away from fear developing your freedom, potential and emotional intelligence.  Asking yourself why they feel the need to attempt to give you that fear. What is in it for them?
     
    So one last fear to think about: Be brave, be happy, make your own decisions and live your life not the one that other people want you to have. Here comes the fear - otherwise you may never really find out who you are.
     
    Andrea Lowe
    Hypnotherapist and Trainer
    Mind and Body
  5. Barry training

    I have been a yoga teacher for about 15 years and in the early days most of the attendees were women. Well I might as well say, all the attendees were women. I can't really remember any men attending in the earlt 2000's. Then around 2010 there were a few men attending with wives and girlfriends mainly from curiosity or compulsion! 

    It's all strangely surprising when you consider that yoga all started with men, for men despite it's notionally being open to all humans. Still for many years it has appealed to women with men often seeing it as the soft option to exercise. Of course those who practice yoga know it is neither of those things. When you've tried some of the core postures you soon realize its not a soft option. Further more it's not strictly an "exercise". It is physical but with a different agenda. 

    Yoga is really about calming the aggitations of the mind through the body. As we know it's difficult to separate the body from the mind. Humans are somapsychic animals and yoga practice gives us the opportunity via a diverse range of postural positioning to work deeply with our muscles and soft tissue to release knots and tension so allowing us to deal better with pains and discomfort and provide a physical environment that allows us also to be mentally comfortable.

    Even if you wish to avoid all the mental, emotional stuff of yoga there are physical bye products such as greater flexibility, toning and strength and more joint stability. This is great for sports people and sportsmen. Ryan Giggs the great Man United player swore it transformed his game and allowed him to avoid injury more and play into his 40's. There are also many other celebrities now turning to yoga both sports and none sports.

    I said about avoiding the mental stuff and you can decide to do that but in reality your body won't let you. Over time regular yoga practice incorporating correct brathing and relaxation will naturally begin to quieten you down and bring greater calmness enabling you to see tensions and callenges coming earlier so you can deal with them and recovering from stress and emotional attacks more quickly.

    In the last few years I've seen an increase in male attendance at classes. Just yesterday the majority of my students were men. Some come for physical reasons such as a compliment to their sport or sports injury recovery. Others to relieve stress from a pressurized job. Still others who are at a crossroads in their life and are seeking to engage better with their inner self - yoga can be "spiritual" but at the very least it is always self enquiring. The increase in male interest in yoga is great because it begins to signal that yoga is a beneficial practice for everyone and can only bring more harmony into the lives of both women and men. 

    Barry Todd (Yog Teacher/Trainer)

  6. - P1010240so .. as I have already planned some exciting dishes for tomorrow which has been cancelled and bought in a lot of the ingredients I have decided to make it tonight and let you into the secret so that you can enjoy it yourself if you want to.

    I love cauliflower and I love curried cauliflower so I have created a dish that is not cauliflower cheese but is a good substitute with a bit more bite.

    ???? And by the way - if you are putting a lot of effort and care into preparing a dish why not make it organic.

    You will need a cauliflower cooked whole and trimmed

    Here is what I did:
    Gently fry some chopped onions and crushed garlic with a chopped red pepper (mine was donated from my friends garden), a little chopped fresh ginger, curry leaves, cumin seeds, a little powdered fennel (not too much as it is really sweet) any other herbs or spices that you feel right.
    Add cashew nut milk and simmer for a while. Blend smooth. Then add some creamed cashew nuts (or any other kind of nut bearing in mind the milk you have used). At this stage I sprinkled a little tumeric into the pot - hence the colout.  Stir until thickened. Season to taste. 
    Put the cauliflower in a dish and pour over the sauce. If you pour it slowly it gives time for the sauce to soak into the cauliflower. It tastes very yummy. Warm or brown in the oven if you need to.
    Let me know if you try it. And those who were expecting to be eating tomorrow I hope this goes some way to compensating.P1010241