Mindfulness, Meditation, Gratitude

Dear Yogis

Last weekend I was teaching yoga in the beautiful Sharpham Trust house, Totnes, with Deborah Smith on her Complete Wellbeing Retreat. It was a whole weekend based on mindfulness… a very yogic word but did you know there’s a definition? Jon Kabat-Zinn who was the founder of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) in the 1970s, took the idea from the spiritual sphere into a secular setting and gave mindfulness this definition: doing something on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally.

This is how we practice in a yoga class: we stand at the front of the mat and (knowingly or unknowingly) set an intention; maybe to practice with focus or kindness or with vitality. We enter the zone! When we bring the attention to the breath we tune in to the present moment. And we should try to practice without judgment but I can see how difficult this is; sometimes we have a good practice, sometimes it isn’t so good but there seems to be so much need to ‘achieve’ in a yoga class. Let it go; that’s not the point. Accept and celebrate your practice as it is.

Gratitude will help with this; it’s another definition we looked at over the weekend: “a felt sense of wonder, thankfulness and appreciation for life”. Bring that into your yoga practice too; set your intention to practice with gratitude. Gratitude has been studied since the 1970s and it is shown that people with a grateful outlook feel happier and are more energetic, hopeful, optimistic, positive and are more satisfied with their lives. Gratitude neutralises negative emotions and reduces physical ailments such as headaches.

Meditation was a major part of the weekend. Here is Deborah’s website page with You Tubes on meditation from 2 minutes to 20 minutes plus a compassion meditation. I really recommend starting with the first offering on the page – a four-minute Ted Talk on stress and how it changes the structure of the brain.

Home Studio

Final call for anyone interested in the Thursday 6.00pm Ashtanga-based class. It doesn’t seem to be a time that suits anyone but let me know if I’m wrong and I’ll keep it on the little timetable. You can see what’s available on my website.


It’s that time of year again, the Om Yoga Show at Alexandra Palace. I love it! It’s the cattle market of the yoga world. I’ve paid up for Yoga Cross Training with Adam Husler tonight, Friday, at 16.45; Deeper & Higher Backbends with Craig Blake (Iyengar Yoga) on Sunday at 10.30; and OF COURSE, The Infamous Yogabeats Revolution with David Sye on Sunday at 14.00. That’s my birthday present to myself!

Sarah Ramsden, the yogi who teaches footballers, sportspeople and other inflexibles will be there and holding these free 30-minute classes: Friday 16:45 in the ‘Tea India’ area; Saturday 12:00 in the Pukka area and Sunday 11:15 in the Hero Open area.

Yoga in the news

The Scotsman has a fun article called: Yoga makes me feel the way I want to be on my deathbed. “For many of us, the thought of yoga turns our stomachs. It’s all just flower power and ringing bells, while sitting in a knee-crushing pose with our eyes closed humming “Ommmm”… But forget all that clap-trap and myth. Yoga is far from this mystical “marketeered” picture and a lot more like you and me – ordinary people with muffin tops and bingo wings. Not to mention the odd varicose vein and beer belly. And not a lotus pose in sight”.

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