Home.

Our gruelling journey home consisted of a taxi ride, 3 flights and a 13 hour wait in Delhi airport. All combined with emotions running increasingly higher, as we waited to be reunited with family, friends and England. With my emotions through the roof, catching a glimpse of my dad patiently waiting for us at Manchester airport triggered tears that flowed all day. Saying goodbye (for all of a couple of day’s) to James felt bizzare. After going through 6 months of amazing adventures together, it was as if I could only relate to him, like my back up was gone. 

It’s my second day here now and I’m still feeling in a complete daze, naturally! I am however, staying in a most excellent 5 star accommodation – all credit to my incredible mum. As I sit with my family listening to “normal” conversations, it gives me an alien like comforting feeling. I can’t relate to any of it but I enjoy it. Everything looks different but the same. Almost as if I’m recognising everything around me but I’m seeing it differently.Drinking water from the tap has never tasted so good and don’t even get me started on my mum’s cooking.

I haven’t practiced yoga for 3 days now. My mind isn’t here so it would be utterly pointless, plus I’m still suffering a little from my old friend, Delhi belly. I have a brand new beauty of a mat waiting for me though, courtesy of eco mats. My old one actually melted while I was away! Seona, the woman who I was emailing about it has been a real saviour. Not only did she without question send me a new mat out, it also came with a very comforting and personal note.

So I’ve been doing a lot of this since I’ve been back – Shavasana or corpse pose.

It feels nice on my sore tummy and busy brain. My busy brain which I can’t seem to slow down at the moment. Earlier i called the doctor, explaining about my tummy and travelling, I was asked for no money or insurance and have an appointment this afternoon. They’ll ask me questions, probably take bloods and in a few days I’ll be bending myself into funny shapes again. A few years ago I wouldn’t have thought anything of it, now I can’t stop thinking about it. 

So here’s my short “save the world hippie rant”. Do you ever stop and think how lucky you were to just be born here? I never used to. To have people that can make you better in a few days. To have teachers that educate you, even when sometimes you didn’t want it. To have a bed that you don’t share with 10 other people, to be a woman and have equal rights. And it’s all just … luck, chance, a blessing, whatever you want to call it. So easily could I have been born in India or Syria! So as my mind swirls around processing everything, I finally realise that once you have stretched your mind by travelling, you can never go back. The fact that I have very little money, my mind instantly tell me ” you have mountains more than that kid in Burma”.  The realisation that I’m not returning to a full time stable job, my mind takes over ” you’re not begging in the middle of a motorway in India”. Perspective Grace, but I’ve seen it all now and it’s there in my mind and I’m lucky. 

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not recommending at the end of your practice you lay in Shavasana, and think about poverty in third world countries. It’s more along the lines of just laying and feeling content with what you have.

Love a very delirious and jet lagged Grace. Xxx 

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Stretch your mind – travel.

I come from a family full of teacher’s, seriously everyone around me teaches or did teach. All that said, I didn’t particularly enjoy school. You could say I’m not very intelligent. Maths makes no sense at all to me, spelling and grammar feels like such a challenge and the idea even now of sitting and listening to someone for over 30 minutes makes me anxious. But then I found travel, which I now believe to be the richest form of education.

We’re back in India right now, in Delhi. This place both educates and tests your patience. We visited an inspiring temple yesterday called the “lotus temple”, which invites all religions to come together in silence to pray or meditate. There are no pictures or symbols in the temple and they ask all people to stay quiet (even new born babies). The point of the lotus temple is to represent humanity in its purest form, yet you would be amazed by the amount of people who just couldn’t sit still and silent for even 10 seconds. Coming from the west we often think that we need to stop and take time out more than the east, that they’re somehow more in tune with life and find meditation easier, but the truth is we’re all just the same.

Sure there has been some blatant differences between cultures as we’ve travelled through countries. Everywhere we go a product called “snail white” is sold, to whiten women’s skin, all the time I’m laying, sprouting like broccoli, for the “sun kissed” look. Spitting and just generally using the street as a toilet is a clear difference. Women’s rights has such a long way to go, chivalry is non existent along with women baring skin being seen as distasteful. However, with recent events happening in the world at the moment (brexit, ahem!), this is not a topic I’m going to spend time on. Instead I’m going to list some things I’ve learnt throughout this adventure, that I feel ties us together as one race, the Human race. I’ll apologise in advance for offending anyone, these are purely my own views.

Grumpy teenager’s are global.

Language is truly incredible.

Women are amazing at gossiping.

Everybody is learning, nobody has it all figured out.

Even the poorest people seem to own mobile phones.

Ignorance is bliss, but severely dangerous.

Candy crush!!!!

Unconditional love for our children.

Epilating never gets less painful.

Education is key in our world, but you can’t force it.

Flying is convenient, but nowhere near as much fun as Indian trains.

James is the greatest biker ever, accompanied with having the most patience a human can have.

Religion could potentially and singlehandedly destroy the human race.
Family and friends are more important than I can express.

Music can make me laugh, cry, meditate, think I’m Beyonce or Dave Grohl.

The world is so small, but holds so much to explore.

Your opinions and views are based on your own life experience – don’t exclude others, even if you don’t agree.

Money isn’t the most important thing, but it sure makes the world go round.

Finally, have one focus in life. Be content.

If you’re just starting out in meditation don’t force yourself to sit awkwardly. It’s hard enough to just sit without being uncomfortable. However if you’re aiming to meditate in Lotus pose or Ardha Padmasana watch your knees! Try just sitting cross legged with books stacked beneath both of your knees, removing them one at a time the looser you get. Then start bringing one leg in to Lotus, until you can bring both legs into the pose. Focus on bringing the knees down to the ground, resting the hands wherever is comfy. Hold for a few seconds or a few minutes. As long as your breathing is steady, and you’re not focusing on any pain in your body, this posture has no time limit.

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Stretch your mind – meditate.

Grace x

Nepal/Narnia

Touch down in Nepal!

It’s actually rather cool, as in we’re not immediately covered in sweat and diving for the first air conditioned place we can see, in fact, we don’t even need aircon! Refreshing start.

So we started with a couple of days in Kathmandu before starting our 7 day trek up in the Langtang Valley. I’m going to be honest here, Kathmandu is very much like any other city – crowded, loud, polluted, dirty, exasperating, then throw in a natural disaster, that feels like it only happened yesterday. The April 2015 earthquake that shook Nepal to ruins, a massive 7.8 on the scale i believe, and man you can tell.

We decided on the 7 day Langtang Valley trek primarily because it’s meant to be the easiest, remember that word, easy! As a yogi I’ll admit I’m more used to building and lengthening all of my muscles gradually. Trekking felt more like i was asking a lot of my legs rather quickly. As we walked they seemed confused as to why I wasn’t landing in the splits. However as the days went on my legs gave in, as did my nose with the altitude.

As we climbed higher the living grew simpler and it became clear that somewhere along the journey from Kathmandu we had stepped through a very large wardrobe. Small tea houses welcoming you with Nepalese tea and momos. They offer no electricity, no WiFi and what’s even better no knowlege or understanding about what’s happening outside their valley. I watched in awe as two very young Nepalese children played together with their father. No clue about politics or racism, terrorism or crime, I doubt they even knew who David Beckham was. For that brief moment I was almost envious.

The terrain on the trek was horrendous. Landslides are still a big problem but what’s so clear to see is just how severe the earthquake damaged mountain life. Langtang was actually the village most affected, once a thriving little village busting with trekkers, you now walk straight over a pile of rocks that covers it. I’m a real believer and lover of mother nature and these people do nothing but treat her with respect, live in peace and only take what they need. I had moments of frustration and anger, thinking of how so many people exploit this amazing planet, how can these people be the ones who pay the price?

Then I sat with a woman who mediated and prayed morning and night, we watched men carrying 50kg + up and down the mountains everyday. We watched the entire community pull together and rebuild. Without questioning it and, even more amazing, without any bitterness.

Please add trekking in Nepal to your bucket list, it really does clear your mind and cleanse your soul. At the same time please do a little yoga after each day if you want to move the next morning. 

The lunge or Anjaneyasana 

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This posture with save your little leggies from seizing up. Try to make sure the front leg is at a right angle, any further over and you’re putting too much pressure on your shin, which is bad news when trekking. To begin with keep your back leg down, maybe a cushion under your knee if it’s sore. Keep the body centered as you allow the hips to sink down, still checking that 90 degree angle on your leading leg. To make the posture deeper try drawing the back foot up towards your sitting bones. After a long day trekking however, really take this easy. Your muscles will have tightened so you could very easily damage them. Go gentle.

Next up, everybodys favourite, split downward facing dog or Eka Pada Adho Mukha Svanasana in our little round tea house.

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So when trekking it’s not just your legs that suffer, so does your spine from all the pounding on your heels coming up through your spine. Have a look at my post on “keeping a healthy spine” for some gentle back openers. Remember in split down dog to keep your neck and head heavy. Spread your finger tips wide and feel every part of your palms on the ground. Visualise your chest drawing down to the ground and your shoulder blades opening. Don’t concentrate on how high your leg goes. Instead concentrate on the foot that remains on the ground, keep that heel heavy. Repeat on the other side and hold for as many breaths as the altitude allows you. 

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Trek. Nepal. Breathe. Cleanse. Respite.

Love me xxxx

I’m a yogi who drinks beer!

As I’m sure you’re aware now, especially if you follow me on social media, I’m in Bali. To be more specific a beautiful place called Ubud. Not only does Ubud have breathtaking rice paddies, cascading waterfalls buried in dense jungle like surroundings, it also holds an excellent reputation for some of the worlds best yoga. Whether that be going to a retreat to detox, gain your teaching qualification or just attend a class. Naturally I wanted to attend at least one class, even as a teacher I still have a lot to learn. I splashed out on one of the more “well known” yoga studios, excited and raring to go. I’ll skim over this very loosely – to say that yoga is my comfortable zone, I did not feel comfortable or at ease. The way yoga seems to be going for some, not all, feels very self obsessed and vain. Let me expand a little on what seems to allow you into the official “yogi club”. This was very much the “vibe” in the class I went to. Just to add, I now hate the word vibe. 

  • Vegan or at least vegetarian ( yay for me ) 
  • Little amount of clothing for the class as possible or skin tight.
  • Less than 5% body fat
  • Alcohol no, detox juice yes. 
  • Never get stressed, angry or overly excited about anything. Unless you held a hand stand, then go wild. 
  • Have the loudest and longest “om”
  • You must be able to wrap your legs around your head
  • Finally, no outsiders allowed

After my “vibey” experience I decided to ask around on social media, what people think of when I say “yogi”. I got some great answers, mainly referring to the flexibility associated with people who do yoga, naturally! Many answers were to do with yogis being spiritual, calm, strong, focused and disciplined. Which I agree with, those were exactly my thoughts before I started my practice. The truth is, to attend a yoga class and become a yogi you need one thing, yourself. You can be a yogi and wear whatever the hell you want, you don’t have to be able to touch your toes, you are allowed to have a higher body fat percentage than 5%, it’s not just for women! You can be super inflexible, stressed to the max and not have a clue what downward facing dog is. You can panic when someone says meditate, then immediately have no way to “clear your mind”. Guess what, you can even choose not to chant “Om”, if you think it’s weird or makes you feel uncomfortable. 

I am a yogi, I drink beer and very much enjoy it. I’ve even had the odd cigarette on my travels. Some days I get on my mat and just cannot be bothered. I don’t meditate everyday and when I do I find it very challenging. I get angry, especially when I’m driving. I get excited about everything, I think I’d explode if you put me in a room full of puppies. I’m very much a loner, I find big groups very intimidating, even daunting. 

  
 Now let me explain how yoga helps me – not with beer, I’d never stop that, it’s too tasty and in my opinion good for you. In yoga we study something called pranayama, which translates to “breath control “. This allowed me to feel and hear the effect that one cigarette can have. The days I can’t be bothered to tie myself in knots I just sit and have a think. When I do manage to meditate, I feel unbelievably balanced and calm. After a yoga class, attending or teaching, people cutting me up either on my bike or in my car just doesn’t bother me. Finally teaching yoga to a group of sometimes over 30 people makes me feel liberated. Now you can label any of this what you want. Call it spiritual if you like. I haven’t decided what to call it, but it makes me feel very very good, both inside and out. So for me that’s all yoga is. Sure, the actual word means to unite, but we are all individuals. Some of us will never do the splits or be able to meditate. Some won’t be able to breathe because they smoke 20 a day. Some might think they’re  surrounded by nutters when everyone chants a loud “Om” and talks about channeling energies. Dare I say it, some might even eat steak!

I’m excited to get home and teach yoga, which for me, is to help you feel good, inside and out. If you leave my class feeling better than when you walked in, then you are already growing as a yogi. Grace x

   

Expectation V Reality

So we’re here, on the island I’ve been dreaming of for years and years, Bali. Well actually, we moved to a little island next to Bali called Lembongan island. Having that image in your head, of how somewhere is going to look or feel, is a dangerous thing I’ve come to realise. A little bit like when you expect to effortlessly and gracefully contour your body into a specific posture, but the reality is very different!

I feel a little bit like I’m chasing that picture in my head, and Bali just isn’t it, yet. We are getting closer to it, especially on this little island. It’s much quieter with a calmer atmosphere. The beaches have that beautiful turquoise glow with lots of tropical fish. We still have nearly two more weeks to explore here, back on the island of Bali though, so I’m still holding out for my dream of paradise to become a reality.

Grasshopper pose or Parsva Bhuja Dandasana, was a posture that I remember expecting to be achievable, however reality knocked me straight back down, literally. It knocked me down many many times, on to my face, bottom and hips. In my opinion it’s a very difficult posture which requires strength, flexibility, balance and a steady breath. To help me achieve this asana I used to practice “baby grasshopper”. This allows your body to get ready for the full pose.

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For baby grasshopper, start by sitting down with straight legs. Bending the right leg, bring the foot to the outside of the left leg, the closer to your body the better. As you take an inhale, twist the upper half of your body out. You should now have a nice open chest. On your exhale, bring your right arm in front of your right leg, reaching for the big toe of your left foot. Hook your two first fingers around it to create a nice anchor. Try to keep the chest open and a lengthened spine. You can stay here and take a few breaths, or to take it further, plant your left hand down in front of the top of your left thigh. Inhale, squeeze your tummy muscles, push the ground away with your left hand, pull on your left toe and try to lift the body off the ground. The gaze can go directly down your floating left leg, or wherever is comfortable for you. Remember to repeat on both sides, and usually one side will be easier than the other. It’s the same for everyone I’m sure.

Once you feel ready for the full pose, here’s my guidance on how I find to be the easiest way to enter this pose. Start standing, bend your left leg deeply, sitting into the heel. Bending your right leg, place the outer side on top of your left leg, just above the knee. I also don’t like to have my foot hanging over my left leg too much. The sole of my right foot usually lines up with my outer left thigh. Bring your palms together at your chest, breathing steadily and deeply. Slowly draw your chest down whilst twisting your torso out to the left. Keep deepening this until the sole of your right foot comes in contact with the tricep (back) of your right arm – the higher up your arm the better. Next you need to place both palms down on the ground, fingers spread. Bring the weight over your hands until the right foot is almost standing on the back of your right arm. Push the energy through the heel of your left leg until it floats up off the ground. Again, like in baby grasshopper, the gaze can look down your left leg. This is a tough pose so don’t be too hard on yourself. I remember the back of my arms getting very sore from my foot slipping off. It’s entirely your choice of course, but I don’t include this in my daily practice. Try lots of hip openers before, then you might have a nice surprise when you come to trying this pose. Expectation and reality might just merge into one!

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Before you all start behaving like grasshoppers, how lovely is the door of our little homestay! These beautiful wooden carved doors are very traditional in Balinese culture. They’re not great at keeping the bugs out, but make up for it by being a cool yoga backdrop. Grace xxx

Willy the cat

I was in my final year of junior school, so about 11, when we were asked to write our own autobiography. Ridiculous at such an age, however looking back, it was more a case of “tell us about your family and hobbies so we can mark just how bad your spelling is”. I remember so vividly the final part was to write about where you would like to go in the future. Without hesitation I drew a picture of the beach, with me chilling in a bikini, titled “Bali”. Looking back I don’t even remember how I’d come to know about the island. My parent’s had never been or really talked about it and neither had my brothers. Nevertheless here I am sat on the beach of my final page in my autobiography, 16 years ago! Which in a way I never thought would happen. So I guess what I’m saying is dream big, dream outrageous, dream the dreams that when you tell people, they give you that “they’re mental” look, because even though Bali is an island so easily accessible now, for me 16 years ago it was just a really big dream.

Sometimes though, when dreams become unmanageable such as “saving the world”, we can become deterred, even depressed. For example when you’ve spent your entire life recycling, then watch someone put their milk carton in the normal bin, or people just generally littering. Cycling and sweating before your yoga class, to arrive and see a car with its engine on, and no one inside! Sound familiar? Yoga is excellent to help get your dreams back on track.

Upward facing dog  (Urdhvamukhasvanasana) or a similar variation are always included in a sun salutation which takes part in most yoga classes – for good reason. The benefits of this asana are endless, here’s just a handful:

Stretches out the stomach, shoulders, chest and arms.

Helps to improve lower back pain.

Lifts the heart, therefore lifting your mood.

Opens the chest, so helps clear the respiratory system, and can even help asthma sufferers.

Firms lower half of the body.

Soothes sciatica.

I could go on, but I won’t.

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Upward facing dog is so great to flow into, however if you’re looking at deepening your practice, you can use it as a seperate pose and take more time in it. Starting on your belly, palms underneath your shoulders with the fingers spread wide. As you inhale push the floor away from you and press the tops of your feet into the floor, lifting your legs and hips. Open your chest, sink your hips low without touching the ground. Peel your earlobes away from your shoulders, then try to take the gaze behind you.

A slightly less intense variation, which also works great when flowing through postures, is cobra pose or  Bhujangasana. Very similar to upward facing dog, however for this pose, keep your legs on the ground. The hips can sink all the way down to your mat and have your gaze above you instead of behind. Also, don’t worry if your arms aren’t completely straight, this will come over time.

If you’re new to yoga, a great way to work towards these postures is sphinx pose or Salamba Bhujangasana. Laying on your tummy take an inhale and come up onto your forearms. Spread the fingers wide, keeping your gaze between them. Legs together with the tops of the feet on the ground, start to open your chest and shoulders by pulling the shoulder blades together. Sink the hips and the belly down. Start to feel your lower back open. Rest and repeat as you please.

I named the cat in the picture Willy. He only had one eye. I don’t know how it happened nor do I want to. He was awesome at yoga and super friendly. I hope his dreams come true too.

Grace xxx

The coolness of KL

We only have a few days in the seriously cool city that is Kuala Lumpur. Which is a shame, but in this heat cities aren’t great for the body or mind. Strolling through the striking skyscrapers that soared up to the clouds (on a cloudy day!) was mesmerising, so much so that occasionally we’d forget to look down and around us, at the smiling and eager to help locals. Coming from Vietnam it feels so different. Drivers stopping whenever and however to allow you to safely cross the road. It’s incredibly clean and pushing eco friendly everything. English seems to be spoken everywhere, which I have to admit, although we do love the challenge of learning different languages, has been a nice relief.

Finally the variety of race, culture and religious beliefs is incredible. Walking down the street and stumbling across embellished mosques, colourful temples, and beautiful churches, all lined up only a few metres from one and other. The smell of food coming from Chinatown assaults your senses. Noodles then curry, meat then fish. Roasted chestnuts to fresh fruit and finally the all American cheeseburger. Whatever you need, I’m telling you, Kuala Lumpur has it! We even found Asia’s best climbing wall – it had to be done. One thing I should let you know about this city however is… Western toilets are rare! You really need to master the squat toilet.

So on that note, here’s half moon pose or Ardha Chandrasana. Such a great pose for improving your squatting technique. On a more serious note, half moon pose is great for your digestive system. It also strengthens your ankles, thighs and bottom, as well as opening your shoulders and back.

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Not that I’m a real promotor of props, purely because I’ve never used them, but a block or pile of books can come in handy for this asana. If you’re more comfortable with this posture you can flow into it from triangle pose or warrior 2. Alternatively come to the front of your mat keeping the left foot facing forwards. Start with the leg bent (or straight if your hamstrings are more open). Begin to lower your left hand down to your block, books or floor just a little in front of your left foot. Next, physically, with your right hand, turn your right hip out. Imagine your hips stacking on top of one another. Pull your left thigh up and anchor your heel down to the ground to give you stability.

To start with try not to focus on how high your right leg is going. Focus on your chest being open, as you spread the fingers of your right hand and imagine it being pulled to the sky. Keep the right shoulder away from the ear. Lift the right leg whilst avoiding the chest collapsing in. Keep the strength and energy in your right leg, moving all the way from the top of your thigh through to your heel.

Depending on how your balance is doing and how your neck is, keep the gaze down on the floor. Next you can bring the gaze forward. Finally, and a little tricky in my opinion, bring your gaze up to your right hand. Hold for a few breaths. Always repeat on the opposite side.

A little personal “tip” which helped me to achieve this pose, which is a personal thing and wouldn’t advise if you have weak or sore knees. I struggled to find my balance for a while in half moon pose, however I found that bringing my weight further over on to the ball of my left foot (or whichever foot is grounded) helped a lot. I do however, think this can affect the knees if it’s a vulnerable area, so be careful and keep your grounded leg slightly bent if knees are an issue.

I wish there was an asana called total eclipse for me to follow with. There isn’t. Sorry. Enjoy this though! Grace xxx

Core off!

So we arrived on Jurassic park or should I say Cat Ba island in Vietnam. Seriously though, I felt like any second a T-Rex was going to gobble up one of the little mountain goats, or a pterodactyl was going to glide down over the ocean.

The town itself of Cat Ba felt a little odd. Every morning we would see the locals chugging back the local beer, becoming drunk at 9am. It was strange to see as we’d become so accustomed to the traditional Vietnamese iced coffee for breakfast. Traditional food also seemed hard to find. Cooked breakfasts, pizza or chips no problem but could we find a bowl of Pho!

Luckily if you drive a motorbike, or have a partner who does you can escape all of this, discovering the real beauty of the island. Weaving through the jungle infested limestone karsts, that protrude as far as the eye can see, we saw just how beautiful the Vietnamese landscape is. Stumbling upon cave after cave, the final one proved to be the most interesting. A cave used in the war as a secret hospital, I wasn’t sure if there were more people or ghosts. However I wasn’t staying long enough to find out! On leaving the cave, the most epic thunderstorm started. As the clouds blackened and got thicker, along with the thunder roaring, I realised there was only one thing for it – so I filmed you guys a short core strengthing yoga flow. I know I sound like a broken record, but once WiFi improves I will be able to upload this.

I wonder how many times somebody has told me to ” engage my core “, basically translating in my head to squeeze my stomach. Actually your core runs through the entire centre of your body and there are many ways to strengthen it; building the muscles in the stomach, however, is a great foundation. When you practice any “core strengthening” flow, remember you should only ever feel the fire in your belly. If your back, especially the lower, starts to take any of the heat you need to stop or take a rest. All asanas need a certain level of stability through the core, some more than others. For example when I’m practicing my hand stands, I always warm up my core before hand.

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I can’t give you a specific guide on how to achieve this pose, as it still requires so much of my concentration. However I can tell you some tips I found helpful to move me away from the wall.

– If you’re just starting out use a wall! A sturdy one with no pictures hanging up!
– Warm up your spine, it helps with the fear of going over (slightly!).
– Have your hands slightly further apart than usual.
– Point your toes like a ballerina.
– Keep the gaze between your palms and visualize your chest going there too.

Finally, breathe! Take control of your inhales and exhales. Even if you’re popping up into the pose for a split second, try not to hold your breath. Every time with hand stands I seem to forget it’s an inversion. Don’t make my mistake by becoming light headed. Rest in child’s pose in between attempts. More importantly, have fun! Its hard not to as it reminds me so much of being a kid! Grace x

Beneficial bunnies

The guest house we are staying in, in Hoi An, is superb. Modern rooms, incredibly helpful owner and rabbits as pets! Even though I find yoga very calming and peaceful, there’s something about animals that can do the same – sometimes even a better job. Maybe it’s the fact that they can’t communicate verbally that gives them a vulnerability. For me it’s the way they look at you; sure it could be the lettuce you’re holding, or the treats, but I like to think its more than that. I’ve found it difficult in Vietnam as a lot of the animals are treated very poorly. Chickens and ducks stuffed into bags, alive! We even saw a woman beating her chickens the other day. I understand the cultural differences but still find it painful to see. Even chickens have feelings. Anyway, I’ll save my animal rights preach for another day.

Rabbits pose or sasangasasana.

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Great for a counter pose to any back opening asanas. Rabbits pose acts as a little inversion too as you should eventually come onto the crown of your head. Start from child’s pose and take hold of your heels, as you inhale round your back. On your exhale come onto the crown of your head, pulling the forehead as close to the knees as possible. Unless you have rabbits on your back and don’t want them to slide off!

As well as teaching yoga full time on my return to the UK, I’m thinking of doing a little dog walking too. It’s a dream for me combing these two together. So if you’ve had a long hard day at work, you can come along to a gemyoga class to sort you out mentally and physically, then go home and eat something delicious while I walk your dog! Hop on board the gemyoga animal loving hippie train! Xxx

Why bind?

I’m going to keep this short for two reasons, firstly I’m tired (we’ve spent the entire day travelling up the coast of Vietnam on a motorbike, stunning). Secondly it’s not complicated or highly spiritual, so don’t worry I’m not going to tell you how binding in yoga connects you to mother earth. Well not for everyone anyway…

In case you’re unsure creating a “bind” in yoga is usually when you bring your hands together to deepen the posture. Sometimes a bind can be created by holding onto both feet, basically your feet and hands should flow through one another, staying in contact.

When you create a bind the technical reason is to deepen the pose and therefore, with certain postures, massage your internal organs. Adding a bind is a perfect way to progress further into your practice. Usually ending in you looking like a tasty little pretzel. A lot of yogis use straps to help them create binds if they’re not quite there. I’ve never used them personally as I feel I become reliant on them. For a lot of people though, they’re key to helping achieve certain postures. It’s just whatever works for you.

So that’s the technical side, now for my hippie view on why I love a good bind. The obvious first reason – falling out of an asana is hilarious, falling out of an asana when you have a bind is even better. Personally for some reason, even when I know the pose isn’t going to happen, my bind stays perfectly connected as my body rolls or collapses to the ground. Binding is a great way to have a laugh at yourself, and laughter is good for the soul!

Secondly, it gives me a visible goal. I never do my practice in front of a mirror, just like I never ask my students to face one. If I can feel or see where my hands or feet need to connect without straining to look in the mirror, it makes the situation much calmer. The situation occasionally turns to excitement when you’re attempting a bind and feel something, then realise its your foot or other hand.  I’m sure a lot of people say that you should watch yourself when you’re practising, to see if your alignment is correct, but for me it doesn’t work. Knowing in my head what the pose looks like, then seeing where my hands or feet need to join provides me with a strong focus. If you are unsure about your alignment, and are practising at home, try recording yourself then play it back. It saves your neck!

Lastly, there’s something very comforting about having your entire body connected physically. No loose ends, no hands or legs waving about. You’ve just created this nice secure cocoon where everything is flowing around continuously. When I deepen my practice by creating a bind I often find that I stay longer in the pose beacause I don’t want to let go. I suppose it’s similar to holding hands with your parents when you were younger, or with your partner. Binds offer a sense of security and stability. If you’re not falling out of them…

Stay connected xxx

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