Sunday Stretch & Flow Yoga
Do you feel the need to let go of fear and take back your power from difficult situations?
This mornings class combined elements of EBR1 and 2 to warm up the body before moving into the Tree of Transformation. This beautiful sequence awakens the potential that lies dormant within us and enables us to express our full power. We have all experienced the symptoms of moments in our lives when we have given our power away. We can feel less confident, a loss of motivation, or a lack of clarity about our way forward and begin to doubt our ability to succeed.
January is a difficult month for most people and never more so than this year in the midst of a pandemic that leaves us feeling powerless and, maybe, even hopeless.
The Tree of Transformation sequence is designed to allow us to reclaim inner harmony and achieve wholeness at every level of our being.
When you have learnt the sequence, the recommendation is to practice it every day for 21 days for it to have the most effect.
Task and Affirmation
January Theme: Awareness
moving into February’s theme of Exploration
“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.”
Albert Einstein (1879-1955), German Physicist
This week’s Task:
Attend to your environment: One of the most effective ways to cultivate more awareness is to get outside and take a good look around. This week, schedule at least 30 minutes to sit outside and take notice of what’s happening. Use your five senses – sight, sound, smell, touch, and (if appropriate!) taste. Notice how many different kinds of nature – animals, insects, flowers, leaves and so on – you’re able to observe in only 30 minutes.
Taken from Every Day Matters Diary by Dani DiPirro
It was our first meeting of the year last Friday (22nd January) and, as the moon is going to be our next theme, we were especially excited to meet our guest speaker, Ingvild Skodvin Prestegard, all the way from her home in Norway.
Ingvild is a fellow Dru Yoga teacher as well as being a Social Anthropologist and writer of the Moon Journal so she really knows her stuff.
Ingvild outlined how she came to produce the Moon Journal, told us a bit about her relationship with the moon and why it has always fascinated her so much and kindly stayed for Q&A afterwards. Ingvild explained how the Moon Journal began as a way to theme her own yoga classes and provide her students with materials to follow outside her class.
She spoke a lot about light affects us and how we have lost that awareness living, as we do in a constant blaze of artificial light. What struck me the most was her assertion that "sensitivity is our super power". Having thought of sensitivity as a negative quality as in "don't be over-sensitive" thinking of sensitivity as a super power sets that completely on its head! But with sensitivity to the light we start to notice things and we become present in the moment rather than constantly living in the past or the future. She urged us to become more aware of the seasons and to accept, rather than struggle against, the seasons - especially important now as we are in the depths of winter.
It was also interesting to think of the moon and its relationship to the sun. While we can't look directly at the sun we can look at the moon. In that sense it is the sacred made visible! There was a discussion about whether the moon is male or female. I was surprised that in Norse mythology the moon is seen as masculine rather than feminine.
I have been using the Moon Journal in my class theme setting for some time. The journal focuses on the moon cycles and the different seasons. Each moon phase has a meditation and an affirmation in the journal and there is space to write personal experience and reflections. The idea is to use the journal as a record you can look back on and reflect on how the moon has affected you. Ingvild has a website and Facebook Community with additional resources to be used with the journal.
This year the journal AND the resources are all available for free download from her website. This actually makes them even more interactive because you can print them as and when you want them and build your own journal into a year of personal reflections powerfully connecting you to the moon cycles.
We decided to use the resources this month and discuss our experiences at our next meeting on 19th February.
Join Ingvild's Facebook group for regular moon updates:
Download the 2021 Moon Journal and additional resources from:
Next Book Club Meeting: 19th February 7.00 to 8.30pm (UK Time)
Please use Yoga Book Club facebook group or the comments section here to share your reflections and experiences of using the Moon Journal.
As the snow fell outside this morning, we moved through Chandra Namaskar, the Moon Salutation. We continued with Flowing Tree, turned into a meditation if you close the eyes and move with your breath and finished with Boat pose, great for strengthening the core.
This is the fourth week of memberships and I'm excited to have a growing group of enthusiastic yogis trying the different classes I offer each week and motivating me to add more.
I've moved the Family Class intended for Over 6s and their adults (plus anyone with or without children wanting a fun class) to Tuesday afternoon at 5pm, which hopefully fits better into home-schooling timetables.
That leaves me available on Thursday mornings for younger children (and their adults too). I don't know if there will be any takers yet but I really want to give it a go. If you have, or know anyone with, under fives interested in yoga please let me know and I'll book the zoom session especially for them. It's not on the online calendar yet because I don't know if anyone wants it! If you're a Gold member (or thinking about becoming one) this could be the perfect opportunity to share your membership. It'll cost you nothing and could really help someone else enjoy the benefits of yoga. This week the Gold membership reduces again (to reflect the fewer weeks up to 31st March) to just £44. That gives you (and a friend if you nominate them) 10 whole weeks of yoga with Body and Soul! What's not to love about that???
Is your friend new to yoga? Maybe they've never used zoom before and don't know what to expect? Or do you have a question you'd like to ask me privately? I'm offering One-to-One tutorials on Thursday evenings at 6.15pm. Email to book on a first come, first served basis. It's all included in your Gold Membership and I'd love to see you or take time to reassure your friend about yoga or how to use zoom.
Week 4: Task and Affirmation
January Theme: Awareness
“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.” Aristotle, Greek Philosopher
This week’s Task:
Identify your best attributes: Improved awareness of our best bits helps us see our own positive influence on the world. Make a list of “Things I love about me”. Consider how those attributes improve your life. For example, if you are loyal, think how loyalty deepens your relationships. Good in a crisis? Think how your skills tackle life’s obstacles – for yourself and others.
The sun came out this morning after a week of gloomy, dismal days (and I'm not just talking about the weather). It's amazing the difference a bit of sunshine can make to how we feel. I decided to embrace the sun with Surya Namaskar which takes in the elements of Forward Fold, Runner, Plank, Child, 4 Stage Cobra and Down Dog all in one beautiful sequence. Even better you can practise it slowly, as we did this morning, or fast to make it an aerobic exercise - the choice is always yours!
We followed up with Dancer using the wall for extra support. While the sun shines let's celebrate it and dance!
This week's Quote:
“The soul becomes dyed with the colour of its thoughts.” Marcus Aurelius, Roman Emperor
This week’s Task:
Pay attention to your thoughts: Our thoughts can influence our experience. Pick two events this week (say a meeting at work, whether zoom or in person, a zoom get together with friends or a family meal at home) and job down how you imagine each will unfold. How do you imagine you will feel? Later, consider what actually happened and how you actually felt. How might expectation have influenced reality? Did anything surprise you? What do your findings teach you about yourself.
Taken from Every Day Matters Diary by Dani DiPirro
Sunday Stretch and Flow kicks off the second week of Body and Soul membership, building on EBR4 & 5 as we harness the Dru Mudra Energisation sequence for inner strength and self-esteem. You are invited to choose a quality you most want to embody this year and use it for affirmations. For example: I am STRONG, I am CONFIDENT, I am MOTIVATED. The quality is up to you! Insert as appropriate after as I repeat “I am … , I am … , I am … . Believe it and you will be it. This is your San Kalpa!
EBR5 clears your pathway for change. Creating a natural flow and rhythm with the movements will help you let go of the deeply entrenched emotional patterns that so often prevent us from moving forward.
Affirmation of the week
“One must ask children and birds how cherries and strawberries taste.”
J.W. Von Goethe, German Writer
Task of the week
Experience the everyday anew: Being more aware means tuning in to the things we take for granted. This week, pick a familiar walk (from your home to the shop, say) and try to imagine it from the perspective of a bird, a dog and a child. Think about the different heights and use your senses. How would the breeze feel on a bird’s wings or the ground on bare paws? What sounds can you hear that a child might experience with wonder and awe?
Taken from Every Day Matters Diary by Dani DiPirro
Not a member yet? No worries - you are welcome to join and, as we're now in Week 2, the price has reduced to £47. This will give you 11 weeks unlimited access (zoom, recordings AND outdoor sessions if and when they are allowed to restart) as well as the opportunity to share your membership with a friend or relative. The idea is to encourage as many people as possible to give yoga a go. You can choose to make it a gift or share the cost with them - it's completely up to you. There will be extra benefits for you as the main member (I haven't decided what they will be yet but I promise they will be worthwhile!).
Prefer to pay monthly OR for individual classes (pay as you go)? No problem! Both those options are available if you still want them.
“And now we welcome the new year, full of things that have never been.”
Rainer Maria Rilke, Austrian Poet
The first Body and Soul class of 2021 (on Sunday 3rd January) introduced this month’s theme: Awareness.
We practised the Dru sequence to clear the pathway for change. Energy Block Release 5 is designed to help establish a clear vision so that we can see our goal in life. By creating a natural flow and rhythm the movements can help us to let go of deeply entrenched emotional patterns that so often prevent us from moving forwards. With three distinct sections we were able to expand the subtle body, clear the chakras and embrace change – especially appropriate after 2020’s roller coaster ride.
We’ll be working more on the subtle bodies and energy over this month, utilising EBR4 and 5 to release our full potential for the coming year. And also using the Tree of Transformation which is an amazingly powerful but simple sequence enabling you to reclaim your power.
The dawn of a new year is an excellent time to turn our attention to the concept of awareness – to extend our thinking beyond our usual world view and to pay attention to what’s surrounding us, as well as to what’s within us. Just as the stars, planets, moon and sun exert energetic influence over the Earth, so everything that surrounds and interacts with us influences how we think and feel as well as how we respond to experiences. Cultivating an increased capacity for awareness in a busy world is no easy feat, but this month’s insights, activities and words of wisdom will encourage you to remain fully in the moment. Don’t worry if at the moment you struggle to stay aware – it just means January will be a particularly purposeful and eye-opening month for you, giving you strategies to help you practise the art of being present.
Affirmation of the week:
I am aware of what is around and within me.
Task of the week:
Enrich your life: This week, every day for 5-10 minutes, focus your awareness on one key area in your life. On Monday you might think about your family relationships; on Tuesday your professional growth; on Wednesday your love life; on Thursday your health, and so on. Note down what’s working for you and what’s not. With this knowledge, seek out new experiences or find new energy to enrich your whole year.
Taken from Every Day Matters Diary by Dani DiPirro
Unlimited online and outdoor classes until March!
After the strangest and probably most challenging year of all our lives, 2021 has dawned with new opportunities along with less certainty than ever. To say it's unsettling is an understatement, but let's face it, there's no choice other than to go with the flow and hope for the best!
In the words of Reinhold Neibuhr's Serenity Prayer:
Grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change,
the courage to change the things we can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.
In the spirit of accepting the things we cannot change, I'm expecting to continue fully online at least until the end of March and launching the new Body and Soul membership deals tomorrow (Sunday, 3rd January). You can choose between three months unlimited access, monthly or pay as you go. The three monthly option is amazing value and will really help me by simplifying my admin which, frankly, has been a nightmare with people paying in different ways and at different times. Active members will continue to receive the coming week's zoom links via email every Saturday and they can confirm bookings using the online calendar.
Best of all active members who pay for three months can share their membership with friends and family which, hopefully, will encourage them to try out my classes. I know some people are still nervous about online classes so maybe they will feel more confident if someone they know is in the class.
My attitude to the internet has definitely evolved since March. At the beginning of our first lockdown (yes, we're numbering them now!) way back in April I wrote about online classes and my personal take on them. At that point, I'd only just heard of zoom and was dipping my toes into the online world from both sides of the camera (or more accurately my mobile phone which suddenly became my lifeline). There was nothing new about online yoga - but, to be honest, it had never appealed to me. With plenty of classes at the gym, plus coffee and comradeship what was the point? For CPD and inspiration I had regular BWY workshops to attend. I sometimes used Dru's own online studio to remind me of sequences and recap on lectures but recorded classes just didn't feel the same as having a live teacher in front of me.
Then the pandemic hit and suddenly we were all stuck indoors. Gyms and private classes (including my own) were forced to shut. The only option was to go online and the choice was overwhelming. Every time I opened Facebook another teacher was urging me to roll out the mat and join her (or him) from their kitchen or living room. I found my old yoga teacher, Denny Berfield on Facebook Live, and took my phone outside to practice with her every morning. As she led me through the familiar Sivananda and Kundalini sequences I felt my body stretch, my lungs expand and my mind calm. Without Denny I'm not sure I'd have coped with those early bewildering days of lockdown when the whole world seemed to have been turned upside down. There's no doubt that she's a brilliant teacher - I recommend you try her classes, especially if you are looking for a strong and strengthening practice with lots of pranayama (breathing) - but most of all hearing her voice and seeing her online felt like she was holding my hand and leading me through the craziness. It was like being at the gym again when she was my regular teacher and all was well with the world.
I realised then that I needed to take my own classes online and reconnect with my students. My first attempts were not as good as Denny's but I persevered. I chose Facebook Live because it was easy to set up a group which gave me some control over who joined but enabled the classes to be free and open to everyone - subject to answering a few simple health questions and a standard disclaimer.
I will always be grateful to everyone who supported me during those early, floundering days especially those who used the comments box to let me know when the phone was upside down or I'd frozen. I realised I needed to invest in a proper stand when the phone fell off it's precarious perch on top of the sofa midclass. I experimented outdoors to begin with which was great for me (I loved the fresh air) but turned out to be too hot for my phone which overheated. Turning the living room into a temporary studio wasn't a popular option with my family (no idea why!!????) but I quickly discovered the spare bedroom as the perfect space. It is now my very own home studio and completely taken over by yoga "crap" as my son describes it!
The live aspect of classes made all the difference to me as a student and a teacher. I still very rarely use recordings preferring the "real" connection of live classes even if the timing isn't always as convenient. I find it difficult to teach with out the buzz of knowing my students are sharing the practice with me in real time.
Eventually I found my online teaching voice - following my own classes was an intimidating experience at first (one I've only attempted a few times) but it certainly highlighted verbal twitches. I found out that "so" and "OK" are my go-to discourse markers! I've become less needy over time and trusted that the camera is working and the students are still there. Occasionally they haven't been when the internet froze and I looked up to a sea of confused faces (zoom) and frantic "can you still see her" comments on Facebook. I realised Facebook Live was becoming increasingly unreliable with the slightest fluctuation in power interpreted by Facebook as a complete crash and moved the classes to zoom. Since then it's been much better although there has been the occasional hiccup such as when my son used the internet at the same time which proved too much for our WiFi.
Over the year I've had the opportunity to try various classes with many excellent and inspiring teachers online. Denny has been my saviour and guide for daily practice, along with Just Mimi who put together an amazing timetable with a smorgabord of teachers classes on Facebook Live. I signed up for Swami Sarandananda's Yoga Alliance recognised meditation training in September and qualified just before Christmas. Swami is a strict disciplinarian and her course wasn't an easy ride. Online training, I discovered, is not an easy option but bi-weekly zoom meetings kept me on track in a way that recorded training wouldn't work for me. The British Wheel hosted its winter training online and I enjoyed an amazingly full day with brilliant teachers including their ex-chairman, Paul Fox. Best of all I didn't have to travel anywhere! Dru were quick to move their training online and I'm now in the final stages of their Backcare and Wellness programmes.
Recently I've committed to Chi Ball training - a programme which uses weighted pilates style balls to facilitate movement to music. It uses the elements of Qi Gong, Felkinstrasse, yoga and pilates with energy flowing sequences. In some ways it is very similar to Dru Yoga and I'm really looking forward to incorporating it into my classes.
I've also signed up for 500 Yoga Teacher Training - again online. It means I can access daily live classes with master yogis in India and other parts of the globe. With zoom the world really is our oyster. They are promising additional modules in specialised areas such as Children and Teen Yoga, Chair, Seniors, Pregnancy etc so I can't wait to get into the material they are offering. A lot of it will recap on my previous training while introducing me to other styles like Ashtanga.
What are my plans for 2021? Well, I've decided to work towards the end of March and rethink then. That's why I'm offering the three month membership which finishes on 31st March. After that, maybe in person will be possible again. I'm hoping HASWA will invite me back to teach at their centre in Hornchurch on Monday mornings (bookings and payment would be through them). I am looking at possible venues in Romford and Hornchurch with the focus on space, hygiene and fresh air. The Golden Lion is a possibility for Movement & Mindfulness plus lunch if they are able to have us back.
Raphael Park Bandstand and Lodge Farm outdoor classes will definitely be back for the seventh year running. We may have to wait a while as groups are out of the question in Tier 4 (although I can take bookings for 1-1 tutorials on Tuesdays if people are interested).
But whatever happens I will continue to offer an online programme. There are so many advantages to teaching and practising at home I think we have only just begun to explore the possibilities. It could be that in person classes will be offered online as an alternative or that recordings will be made available afterwards. For the moment, online yoga is the best way to stay connected. I will be opening zoom meetings ten minutes before each class so people can chat and interact with each other and there's always time afterwards for questions if you want to stay on.
I've got exciting plans for the Yoga Book Club which has been meeting every three weeks since September. I will be announcing the next zoom meeting - usually Friday evenings 7.00 to 8.30pm which is free and open to everyone. There is a Facebook group available too. Our first book "How Yoga Works" by Geshe Michael Roach has prompted some interesting discussions and enabled us to explore the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali in a fun, practical and accessible way.
The future is uncertain and it's scary but it's also exciting. I hope you will share the journey with me by joining my yoga community.
Wishing you all good wishes for this very new, new year of 2021.
I qualified to teach in 2015 but my yoga journey started much earlier, way back in the 1970s. Here I share my experiences and passion about everything yoga.