Teaching Schedule, May and June (+ Workshops and Covers)

Summertime is upon us! And with it, some upcoming changes to the schedule. But first, let us enjoy the glorious spring! Hope to see you on the mat soon.

with Lizzie Reumont at Indaba Yoga Studio

Our bodies were designed by a master architect to house the most precious creation: the soul! Nonetheless, life can be complicated mentally and physically, and too often we end up living without an awareness of what it means to be in the body, without knowing how to use the resources that we have to enrich our day to day existence and to deepen our asana practice. This three – part workshop aims to shine a light on the body’s function and potential so that we may re-integrate the parts in a meaningful way. After all, a yogi is an embodied being: aware, confident and purposeful…integrated and balanced in the world.

Sunday, June 8th, 1.30-4:30pm
Finding Foundation: the feet. The structure of one’s physical architecture is rooted in the feet and connects via the legs to the spine. This 3 hour workshop will explore the anatomical phenomenon of the feet and how it relates to the legs, hips and spine in asana practice. We will look at the ankles, knees and hip joints in particular as they relate to standing postures.

Sunday, July 6th, 1.30-4.30pm
The Centre Column: the viscera and spine. The core body not only has a boney casing of spine on the back and rib cage in the front, but it has top and bottom boney landmarks in the girdles of the shoulders and hips. These hard surfaces offer containment for the vast and oceanic underlying visceral world. In this 3 hour workshop we will explore the dimensionality of the spine in conjunction with opening of the lateral body to create space. Asanas will include side-bending, twisting and back bending (front extensions).

Sunday, September 7th, 1.30-4.30pm
The Cupola: the neck and head. An awareness of the head, jaw and neck in asana practice is crucial to being balanced in body and mind; after all, it houses all of the nerves that help us to function physically and mentally. This three hour workshop will focus on the cranium and neck and their relationship in key asanas and pranayama. We will also explore techniques for releasing tension and emotional holding patterns.

(To book email Indaba Yoga Studio, or book on their website)

Cover Classes:
Monday, May 19th 6pm Indaba
Tuesday, June 3rd 4-5:30pm Indaba
Wednesday, June 4th 6-7:30pm Indaba
Thursday, June 5th 7:45-9:15pm Indaba

Weekly Classes in May 2014:
Mondays 2-3:30pm Indaba

Tuesdays 6:45-8pm The Life Centre, Notting Hill

Wednesdays 10-11:30am Indaba Yoga Studio

Wednesdays 2-3:30PM Triyoga Primrose Hill

Fridays 11:15-12:45pmThe Life Centre, Notting Hill 3 month cover for Molly Harrigan

Saturdays 10-11:30am Indaba Yoga Studio

Day Twelve and Thirteen, Lizzie’s Yoga Challenge: Self-practice, and Restorative Yoga with Anna Blackmore

After a weekend of social activity and yoga, Monday’s theme was ‘Back to Work’, and entailed teaching several yoga classes, parental time with my son, and a short but meaningful self practice of thirty minutes. Since returning to work from the transplant, I have started to become far more realistic about how much energy I have, and just what spending it means. More and more I feel the time I have is precious, and I can’t force myself to participate in activities when I’m not feeling able to participate meaningfully.

Hence yesterday’s restorative class with Anna Blackmore at The Life Centre, Notting Hill. There were four students for the 4:30pm class in the centre’s ‘loft’, the cosy pure floor studio, where we were skillfully and quietly taken through eight to ten restorative yoga postures, including legs up the wall, supported headstand and downward dog with a creatively made makeshift rope support. Anna’s calm and quiet demeanour meant that she almost disappeared from the room along with everyone else, which was a wonderful feeling as we all deepened into our own bodies and explored each pose.

At the end of class she gave us the mantra ‘So Hum’, meaning ‘I am That;’ I am not this body or this mind, but something far greater.

I asked her specifically about someone I know recently diagnosed with cancer, and Anna told me about the Yoga Therapy clinic at The Life Centre in Islington, where students are supported by advisors including herself, which is helpful to know. I thoroughly enjoyed the class and on those Tuesdays after my transplant clinic when I’m feeling low, I now know where to go to get nourished and restored. Moreover, as I meet more and more people who are either ill or in recovery of some sort (funny how life works), I now know where to send them. Here’s to hoping our home internet is finally fixed soon. I woke up this morning feeling restored!

Day Nine, Lizzie’s Yoga Challenge: Vinyasa Yoga with Leone Roberts

Having no internet at home has been a blessing in disguise. It has been down since last Wednesday, and have been more productive at home than I have been in years! As far as the yoga challenge goes, it means a bit of a back log, and learning to live with a condition I hate, the feeling of falling behind. With the bad comes the good, however, and the flip side is that I can spend a little time reflecting on the practice rather than typing something up straight away, before I know how the practice has made me feel had what it has led me to think about in the time after the class.

I have attempted to write about Friday evening’s practice at the Life Centre Notting Hill with Leone Roberts several times, and to be honest I am having a bit of difficulty knowing how to report on it. The truth is, there was not a great deal of clarity to the class, and because of this, it was a very mediocre class experience for me. In all fairness, Leone was subbing the class, and this may have accounted for her not taking a better control of the class structure and environment, but when subbing the class there are certain steps a teacher can take to neutralize and create a good foundation for the class. For example, I find it reassuring when a substitute teacher takes the time to introduce him or her self and to ask if anyone is new to the practice or has injuries, particularly when it is a ‘level 1/2 class’, as this class was billed. When people come in late and mats are not well organized, if the teacher is going to take the time to say something about it, clarity is helpful in establishing a plan. In this case, Leone said something to the effect of ‘I think we may want to sort out the mats a bit’, which left everyone looking around at each other as there was no suggested method for better organizing the room.

The sequence of postures included a mix of standing and seated poses with a few low backbends, and a lot of downward dog. Leone did quite a bit of demonstrating, and times was turned towards the wall which made it difficult to see and hear her. Other times there was a demonstration without words to explain the posture and because of her placement, it was very challenging to see what she was doing. The class was level 1/2, but despite this several times she called for students to get into postures rather than explaining how to get into the pose. In most cases the pose was held for several breaths, and often the instruction given was to hold three or four additional breaths, which felt a little vague as an instruction. During the class, Leone walked around the room adjusting students or demonstrating the pose herself, and in general, the room was quiet, which can wonderful when a practitioner knows what to do in a posture and is enjoying exploring being in the body. For beginners, however, it can be confusing when there is not a lot of instruction given, and leads them to looking around the room to see what others are doing. Overall, the sequence was balanced and appropriate for a level 1/2 class with plenty of options in each posture, but after the class I did not leave feeling energized or inspired.

As always, these insights or opinions are from my perspective and are not meant to offend, be taken personally, or to assume that I would teach the class any better or worse. Differently, perhaps. And therein lies one of the most challenging parts of The Challenge; to be honest, kind and objective. I do the best I can to document honestly from my limited perch in the world, and continue to learn.

Day Eight, Lizzie’s Yoga Challenge: Feldenkrais for Yoga with Daniel Gelblum

For better and for worse, internet connections don’t always work, and rooms are only built a certain size. My home internet connection has been down the past few days making reporting on life and The Challenge fall by the wayside; and the room of yesterday’s class with Daniel was only so big, limiting the exercises and class size. Both are different aspects of containment, the elements that limit and define. Ironically, this is one aspect of the Feldenkrais method.

Without going into too many details of what Feldenkrais is, Moshe Feldenkrais was an Israeli physicist who was interest in improving human functioning by building self-awareness through movement. He was a contemporary of Ida Rolf in the mid-twentieth century, and while their styles of teaching and interacting with clients were very different, both were pioneers in understanding how the body moves in space and facilitating beneficial change to overall human functioning.

The class I went to with Daniel Gelblum at the Life Centre Notting Hill was my first Feldenkrais class, though from what I have read on the subject, it followed the classical rules of a Feldenkrais class. We spent about 85% of the class on our mats, either engaged in a small experiment of movement or lying on our backs to feel the results. Each exercise was meant to explore the range of movement in a given territory of the body, the interrelationships between other territories of the body, and the level of freedom and containment to facilitate the movement. The class was full, with an equal mix of seniors and those of us in our 30 and 40s. While the room was so full that during several exercises bodies were bumping into one another, Daniel offered us excellent instruction and had a good sense of humour. He took us through several basic movements involving the legs, pelvis, spine, shoulder girdle and head. Each exercise started off with a very basic movement that was then added to and experienced in several variations. All of this culminated at the end of class when we engaged in walking and testing our balance, seeing how the legs felt lighter or heavier than prior to the class. Along the way, Daniel posed questions and offered support where necessary in an engaging, friendly and funny way. Actually, Daniel’s enthusiasm and love for the subject matter was contagious, and I believe it would be fair to say every person in the class walked away with a new experience of being in their body. While there were no yoga poses, Daniel mentioned a few different postures during the movement implying that we would remember the movements done in the class when we next practiced yoga. I would have loved even more of this type of relational information.

As a body worker and someone on the eve of becoming a Rolfer, I am fascinated with embodiment exercises and how they may relate and aid one’s yoga practice, so I was in an explorative bubble of heaven throughout the class. A day later, I get the sense that pockets of my spine were awakened yesterday, and would definitely return to the class. If, however, you are one who feels the need to move vigorously in a class to feel anything in your body, you may become bored in this environment. This class is for movement and space explorers, those who are interested in how the body fits together and functions, not for those who want to turn off and be told what to do and get a workout.

Next up, yoga with Leone Roberts at The Life Centre, Notting Hill from 17:45-19:00.

Back to the challenge: a week later, day seven with Kate Walker

Although this hasn’t been my first yoga class in a week, up until now it has either been self practice, test classes or Rolfing school, not accounting for much time or material to report on. I surprised myself by honoring my intentions to attend Kate Walker’s class today when I actually made it to Triyoga on time, even without a lot of energy to spare.

Kate is a wonderful, well-established and reliable teacher, apparent by her full class in the middle of the day in Primrose Hill. It had been many months since I had attended her class, but it felt very much like a Kate Walker class; steady with ample time for meditation, warm up, basic standing, seated, back bending and inversion asana work with lots of choice given to the practioner. There was music, set a quiet mood, more than anything else, and there was a good space at the end for a dreamy savasana. I have always liked Kate’s classes and today was no exception. For the practitioner who knows what to expect and doesn’t like to be pushed too much by the teacher, I can’t recommend Kate highly enough. Her class balances effort with ease, and similarly there is a balance in her personality. She has an angelic vibrancy to her personality without affect or ego. What’s more, she just back from five weeks of holiday overseas and is rejuvenated and tanned! Lucky Kate.

Tomorrow my class plan has changed. Luckily Louis’ knee is no longer bothering him so he’s off to Belgium with papa, but I have been nominated chauffeur to the train station during the time of Alaric’s class. I will instead check out Feldenkrais for Yoga with Daniel Gelblum at 12:45pm, the Life Centre Notting Hill. I’m a little bit fascinated with Feldenkrais as I gave understood it to be a related work to that of Rolfing. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s entry!

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