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MAY 2019

Inspiration Of The Month - May 2019

"Mindfulness is a way of befriending ourselves and our experience" - Jon Kabbat Zinn

May has become the month of mindfulness. It seems it started with Dr. Elise Bialeylew.

"Elise Bialylew is a coach, meditation teacher and social entrepreneur who trained as a doctor and psychiatrist. She left the hospital wards to pursue a deeper calling to start a global mindfulness meditation movement and founded Mindful in May in 2012. The campaign has taught thousands of people from around the world the skills of mindfulness and raised funds to bring clean safe drinking water to developing countries."

So we decided to join her in May and focus on Mindfulness. The simple and yet one of the hardest practices of all; Living in the present moment with absolute attention to what IS.

We live in times and in a society with little mindfulness. It is up to us to remind ourselves to pause, to value and appreciate that which we have.

When was the last time you just ate your food without doing or thinking one or five or even ten other things?
Without checking your phone, emails, Instagram, Facebook or the news? Without reading the paper? Without even listening to music or having a conversation with someone? Just eating your food? One bite at a time? Appreciating the flavors. The texture. The colours.


 I was lucky to become aware of Mindfulness meditation and of Jon Kabat-Zinn quite early in my Yoga days and interest. It is a practice I felt drawn to. That made sense to me. One of the first books I bought as I started getting more interested in Yoga is "A path with heart", by Jack Kornfield, and I have read quotes from ti in many of my classes through the years.

A couple of years ago I finally took a formal Mindfulness meditation course with Timothea Goddard from Open Learning, and I can say it is one of the best courses I have ever done.

This is taken from Open Ground website:

"Put simply, mindfulness is the practice of paying attention, on purpose, and with open-hearted curiosity, to the present moment – to what is happening in your body, your mind and in the world around you.

Mindfulness is all about living in the present - being aware of what is happening right now, instead of dwelling in the past or focusing on the future. Cultivating this ability to observe, without judgement, can help us to respond to our experiences with clarity and focus, rather than reacting out of old habits and patterns.

Cultivating a regular mindfulness practice can help us move towards greater balance, choice and participation in our lives. It can give us the capacity to feel more curious, to live with greater acceptance, and to accept our thoughts, emotions, physical sensations and situation, without judging them as good or bad.

Mindfulness opens up the possibility of living with more authority and working wisely and compassionately with life’s challenges, so we can choose what is most nourishing, for ourselves and others.

Mindfulness is an ancient practice of meditation that comes from the Buddhist tradition. At its core, mindfulness is really concerned with learning how to reduce suffering, for ourselves and others. It’s about the awareness that arises when we pay attention, on purpose, in the present moment, with curiosity and interest."

So join us in the studio during the month of May and we will explore different elements and practices of Mindfulness.

You can check out the link here to join a Mindfulness in May challenge. 

Just 10 minutes a day can transform you and the world around you.


We will also be focusing on practicing backbends mindfully and breath awareness. 

Jump to Inspiration of the month:






Because these postures (backbends) are so impressive, it's easy to get caught up in the trying to do deeper and more difficult back bends, casting caution to the breeze. So rather than measure your progress by how much you can bend your back, judge with your progress in terms of how much easier it is to sit, stand, and walk with your back firmly and easily upright throughout the day. This erect carriage will impart an elegance and dignity to your entire bearing.

- Donna Farhi 


back bends

Camel Pose - Ustrasana

As told by B.K.S Iyengar, backbends address fear. In a backbend all the vulnerable parts of the body are exposed and the heart is open. By opening the heart chakra it can also awaken qualities within us such as compassion, love and happiness. 


  • Stretches the front of the body, particularly the chest, abdomen, quadriceps, and hip flexors

  • Improves spinal flexibility

  • Strengthens the back muscles and improves posture

  • Stimulates the kidneys, improves digestion

  • Energises the body & helps to reduce anxiety & fatigue

Contraindications for this pose:


  • High or low blood pressure

  • Migraine

  • Insomnia

  • Serious low back or neck injury



Ustrasana can be a very difficult pose for the neck, especially if your shoulders are tight. You can use a wall as a prop to protect your neck. 

You can also use two blocks at the outer edges of your ankles to avoid straining the back or neck. Position the blocks just outside each heel, and stand them at their highest height. Then lean back and bring your hands to the blocks. 





1. Begin by kneeling upright with your knees hip-distance apart. Rotate your thighs inward and press your shins and the tops of your feet into the floor. 


2. Rest your hands on the back of your pelvis, with your fingers pointing to the floor. Lengthen your tailbone down toward the floor and widen the back of your pelvis.


3. Lean back, with your chin slightly tucked toward your chest. Beginners can stay here, keeping the hands on the back pelvis. 

4. To take the pose deeper reach back and hold onto each heel. Your palms should rest on your heels with your fingers pointing toward your toes and your thumbs holding the outside of each foot. Or as shown in the picture bring your palms to two blocks to avoid strain of the neck. 

5. Keep your thighs in line to the floor, with your hips directly over your knees. If it is difficult to grasp your heels without feeling compression in your low back so tuck your toes to elevate your heels.

6. Lift up through your pelvis, keeping your lower spine long. Turn your arms outward without squeezing your shoulder blades. Keep your head in a neutral position, or allow it to drop back without straining or crunching your neck.

7. Hold for 30-60 seconds. To release, bring your hands back to your front hips. Inhale, lead with your heart, and lift your torso by pushing your hips down toward the floor. Your head should come up last. 

8. Rest in Child's Pose or Corpse Pose. 

Ujjayi Breath - Victorious Breath

Ujjayi Breath - Victorious Breath

Ujjayi (pronounced oo-jai) is commonly translated as “victorious breath,” and has been used for thousands of years to enhance hatha yoga practice. Also commonly referred to as the “oceanic breath,” the sound that Ujjayi provides helps us to synchronise breath with movements during yoga, making the entire yoga practice more rhythmic.This powerful breathing technique, is a pranayama that is easy to do, yet can take you through all the stages of your yoga practice.

 Ujjayi Breath Instructions:

The guidance of a teacher is always recommended.

If you ever feel unwell or dizzy - stop the practice immediately. 

These practices are to be done moderately and with much observation, as they are extremely powerful.

  • Seal your lips and start to breath in and out through the nose

  • Take an inhalation through your nose that is slightly deeper than normal. Exhale slowly through your nose while constricting the muscles in the back of your throat.

If you're having trouble getting the right sound for your breath, try this:

  • With your mouth open, try exhaling the sound ’HAAAAH’ - it’s similar to the sound you make when you try to fog up a mirror. Get comfortable with this sound to get the hang of the practice.

  • Close your mouth and attempt a similar sound, feeling the outflow of air through your nasal passages. Once you have mastered this on the outflow, use the same method for the in-flow breath, gently constricting the back of your throat as you inhale.

  • If you’re doing this correctly, you should sound like waves in the ocean - the inhales can be compared to the sound the ocean makes as the water is gathering up to form the wave, the exhales can be compared to the sound of the waves crashing to the shore. Some people compare Ujjayi breathing to Darth Vader from Star Wars, if that’s helpful.​​


Benefits of Ujjayi Breath:

Ujjayi has a balancing influence on the entire cardiorespiratory system, releases feelings of irritation and frustration, and helps calm the mind and body. With Ujjayi, there are so many benefits, providing good value for a simple practice. Here are a few benefits you may enjoy as a result of practicing the Ujjayi breath:

  • Increases the amount of oxygen in the blood

  • Builds internal body heat

  • Relieves tension

  • Encourages free flow of prana

  • Regulates blood pressure

  • Helps yoga practitioner to maintain a rhythm while they practice

  • Builds energy

  • Detoxifies mind and body

  • Increases feelings of presence, self-awareness, and meditative qualities

  • Increases the amount of oxygen in the blood

  • Builds internal body heat

  • Relieves tension

  • Encourages free flow of prana

  • Regulates blood pressure

  • Helps yoga practitioner to maintain a rhythm while they practice

  • Builds energy

  • Detoxifies mind and body

  • Increases feelings of presence, self-awareness, and meditative qualities

When to Use Ujjayi Breath:

When you’re agitated: Since the Ujjayi breath is especially good for settling agitation and stress, and balancing the mind, try shifting into Ujjayi breath whenever you find yourself becoming aggravated or stressed. You should notice a soothing effect promptly.

When you’re practicing hatha yoga: Try focusing on Ujjayi breathing while practicing yoga to help you stay focused and centered as you flow from one posture to the next.

When exercising: Ujjayi is also useful when you’re doing aerobic exercise such as running or cycling. In fact, some Olympic-level athletes have introduced Ujjayi into their training routines to improve their respiratory efficiency. Experiment with this breath technique when you’re working out and see if it reduces wear and tear on your body.

When you’re nervous: The slow and rhythmic nature of the Ujjayi breath is incredibly helpful to calm nerves. Next time you find yourself with a case of the jitters, try some yogic breathing to settle the worries.

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