Tag Archives: OM Yoga Magazine

How to Be a Yoga Rockstar

How to Be a Yoga Rockstar

Each month on my U Can Yoga website I have been featuring yoga related books that I’ve really enjoyed and want to share with you guys reading out there. For anyone who has missed the titles featured so far, I am including some my previous ‘Books of the Month’ here. I hope you enjoy:

Yogarockstars coverHow To Be A Yoga Rockstar – The Ultimate Guide to Making A Living Teaching Yoga by Martin D. Clark

Why I like this book:

I wish this book had been around when I was starting out!

Fun, practical, useful and essential reading whether you’re already teaching yoga, thinking about teacher training or aspiring to pursue a career in holistic health and wellbeing (therapists, Pilates, meditation, coaching, beauty, nutrition).

How to Be a Yoga Rockstar has been written by Martin D. Clark the founding editor of OM Yoga & Lifestyle Magazine*, from a passion to see more people succeed and build their dream career successfully.

With lots of case-studies from teachers all over the world at varying stages of their teaching journeys inside this book you’ll find real-life insights on what to expect as you follow your teaching path, how to identify your inner strengths and know how to best use them, tips on how to market yourself and your business without breaking the bank, how to know if you’re genuinely ready to lead a retreat, how to take the fear out of getting started on social media and much, much more.

I’m very humbled to be included among the teachers featured in the book, plus many well-known teachers tell how they ‘made it happen’ including Ana Forest, Maya Fiennes, Kathryn Budig, Faith Hunter, Tara Stiles and more.

*NB – Since 2012 I’ve been writing OM Yoga & Lifestyle Magazine’s monthly ‘Carry on Teacher’ and ‘Teacher’s Tales’ columns respectively. To read a few of my past columns for free, plus a preview of the current issue of OM, please click here.

365 Savasana So Far

365 Savasana So Far
365 Savasana So Far

Quarterly Check-in

In September 2014 I embarked on the 365 Savasana Project – the decision to practice Savasana for 20 minutes a day for 365 days. As we are about to embark on a new year, I also I find myself a quarter of the way through my year of daily Savasana and it feels like an ideal time to reflect on how it’s been so far. So, how has it been…?

HARD!

(I bet you didn’t expect that from a yoga teacher :) ) I did not expect it to be easy but so far it certainly has been much harder than I envisaged.

The actual act of lying down is simple. It is getting there every day, regardless of what is going on that has not been easy. And that’s coming from someone who loves Savasana and Restorative Yoga. In that case, why has it been so hard?

Resistance.

This has been (and continues to be) the biggest challenge. But I refuse to throw in the towel because I know that the more I feel resistance to practising Savasana, the more I need Savasana. I always, without exception, feel better afterwards.

The busier things get, the easier it becomes to neglect self-care. Yet, that’s when we most need to take care of ourselves. That’s been my personal experience, at least. Do you relate? Do you too find that you put your own self-care on the back burner as the pace of life picks up speed? Maybe you are taking care of others or have a demanding job, or you’re running your own business? There are a multitude of reasons why self-care may inadvertently fall by the wayside, especially during periods of chronic stress.

I’ve often prided myself on how much I can achieve in a day. Getting lots done and ticking items off my to-do list (the same list that somehow continues to grow as fast as I tick things off) can bring me great satisfaction. However, I’ve learned that being busy is not all it’s cracked up to be. Slowing down and practising Savasana reminds me just how powerful doing less can be. We do not have to worship at the altar of busy. For me, the past year has brought many ups and downs, as I’m sure it has for you too. My default, when the going gets tough is to, albeit unconsciously, let my own needs slide.

Let 2015 be different.

If you haven’t started your 365 Savasana but would like to, then why not begin today? You can find more details on how to get started by clicking here. I began my 365 days in September, but there is no official start or end date and it doesn’t cost anything apart from the time you allow yourself to practise. It is not a competition. It’s really about getting into the habit of taking some time for yourself each day so that not only can you give your best, you can be at your best. So, far from being selfish, you’ll be helping those close to you too. It is a simple and wonderful way to practice self-care.

However, if 365 days of Savasana is not for you, then I still encourage you to find healthy ways to look after yourself when you feel out of balance. Having your own personalised self-care toolkit at your disposal when you most need it will serve you very well.

Let’s all make self-care a priority in 2015.

The glorification of “Busy”

The glorification of “Busy”

Stop the glorification of busy No matter how hold I get, September is always associated with ‘Back to School’. The move into Autumn symbolises a time when many of us feel we need to get our heads down and get back to work after the summer. And before we know it, our daily calendars are full to bursting (if they weren’t already, that is).

I have an admission. I don’t like being busy. I like to be productive, to be effective and actually get things done. But, busy? To me, it’s overrated. I’ve increasingly noticed that whenever I say that I am busy the response is usually “that’s good”. And for a long time that was my response too. But why is that?

We have more time-saving technology and services at our fingertips than at any other time in history, yet we all seem to be busier than ever. Some of us wear our Busyness like a badge of honour. But is there a problem here? Are we confusing busyness with effectiveness?

Yoga teachers are certainly not immune from this. In London, where I live and work I see exhausted, scheduled to the hilt yoga teachers regularly. And I have fallen into this routine before too. For every class or client you guide through their yoga practice, you are giving your energy. So, there’s no surprise really that if you don’t take steps to replenish, it’s just a matter of time until you’ll burn out. However you spend your days, whether you teach yoga, work in an office, are a stay-a-home parent or anything and everything in-between, we can all work to burnout. But whom is that serving? From the point of view of teaching yoga, it’s tough to give your best in this state.

The busier we are, the less time we have. Time is arguably our most valuable commodity and it’s irreplaceable. It’s a significant thing to lose.

I think it’s time to stop worshipping at the altar of busy. Being busy for busyness sake or to attain more ‘stuff’ isn’t all its cracked up to be. What if we took another look and scrutinised what we are actually busy with? Try it and you might find there are things you can take off your to-do lists and lighten your mood and improve your wellbeing at the same time. Give it a go and notice the relief this brings.

This was originally published in OM Yoga & Lifestyle Magazine. You can read a selection of my past columns and a FREE preview of the current issue of the magazine by clicking here.

Click here to learn more about The 365 Savasana Project.

There’s no such thing as a perfect yoga pose

There’s no such thing as a perfect yoga pose

Each month I write for OM Yoga Magazine - here is my column from November 2012

Since 2012 I’ve written a monthly column and the odd feature for OM Yoga Magazine. This column was originally published in the November 2012 issue:

A mild thoracic curve means my chaturanga can look slightly lopsided. However, I only noticed this after observation in a mirror and working one-to-one with a teacher. X-rays and scans confirmed mild scoliosis
as well as spondylolisthesis, so the wonky chaturanga then made sense. Not long ago I had the experience of being in a workshop where an advanced teacher tried to (literally) wrench my shoulder up and back in chaturanga to straighten me out, despite my explanation of my physical imbalances. Instead of listening, he stared at me blankly and said, “You’re not doing it right”.

These experiences greatly inform how I approach teaching. They also remind me what an honour and privilege and responsibility it is. If I were less confident, that experience with the advanced teacher would have upset me. (Let’s save the ‘what is advanced?’ discussion for another time!) I like to remember the words of Judith Lasater who I studied with earlier this year. During training, one of the many things she said that stuck with me in regard to yoga asana is that there is no right or wrong – there is only safe. It’s important that we do our best to be safe in our postures.

I enjoy one-to-one yoga sessions a lot. Each person I guide through practice teaches me something. Every body is different. There is no perfect yoga pose. One of the things I love about working one-to-one is being able to guide someone to finding the expression of a posture that works best for them. Together we can take more time to get back to basics, break down poses and tailor their practice. My hope is that within this the yogi comes to experience that the practice they are developing is about more than touching their toes. When a client told me she had practised a couple of poses on her own at home because she liked how they made her feel afterwards I was delighted. Delighted that she felt confident enough to do some asana practice on her own and that she was finding her own unique experience of yoga that went beyond where to place her feet in trikonasana. Even better that this was for her self-care and not to please the teacher.

Paula Hines is a London-based yoga teacher (www.ucanyoga.co.uk) – if you are in London and interested in 1-2-1 or Small Group Private Yoga, please click here for details.

If you’d like to read a selection of my past OM Yoga Magazine columns and a FREE 24 page preview of the latest issue at my U Can Yoga website, please click here.

*NEW CLASS* – Yoga Flow at Evolve, South Kensington

*NEW CLASS* – Yoga Flow at Evolve, South Kensington

Evolve Wellness, 10 Kendrick Mews, SW7

Evolve Wellness, 10 Kendrick Mews, SW7

NEW Yoga Flow, Thursdays 7.30-8.30am.

I’ve been a fan of this beautiful oasis of calm in South Kensington for some time and was even inspired to write about my experience of their bi-weekly gong baths in OM Yoga Magazine back in October 2012. So, I’m excited to announce that from Thursday 10th April I will be teaching a new early morning Yoga Flow class at Evolve. Join me each week for an energising start to your Thursday. I look forward to seeing you there! For the class timetable and booking details please click here to visit the Evolve website. Evolve

The Perfect Yoga Pose

The Perfect Yoga Pose

Originally published in OM Yoga & Lifestyle Magazine.

There is no such thing as a perfect yoga pose.

A mild thoracic curve means that my chaturanga can look slightly lopsided. However, I only noticed this after observation in a mirror and working one-to-one with a teacher. X-rays and scans confirmed mild scoliosis as well as spondylolisthesis, so the wonky chaturanga then made sense. Not long ago I had the experience of being in a workshop where an advanced teacher tried to (literally) wrench my shoulder up and back in chaturanga to straighten me out, despite my explanation of my physical imbalances. Instead of listening he stared at me blankly and said, “You’re not doing it right”.

These experiences greatly inform how I approach teaching. They also remind me what an honour and privilege and responsibility it is. If I were less confident, that experience with the advanced teacher would have upset me. (Let’s save the ‘what is advanced?’ discussion for another time, but really like Michael Taylor’s take on “advanced” yoga in his great Mind Body Green blog post here)

I like to remember the words of Judith Hanson Lasater who I studied with earlier this year. During training, one of the many things she said that stuck with me in regard to yoga asana is that there is no right or wrong – there is only safe. It’s important that we do our best to be safe in our postures.

I enjoy one-to-one yoga sessions a lot. Each person I guide through practice teaches me something. Every Body is different. There is no perfect yoga pose.

One of the things I love about working one-to-one is being able to guide someone to finding the expression of a posture that works best for them. Together we can take more time to get back to basics, break down poses and tailor their practice. My hope is that within this the yogi comes to experience that the practice they are developing is about more than touching their toes. When a client told me she had practiced a couple of poses on her own at home because she liked how they made her feel afterwards I was delighted. Delighted that she felt confident enough to do some asana practice on her own and that she was finding her own unique experience of yoga that went beyond where to place her feet in trikonasana. Even better that this was for her self-care and not to please the teacher.

New Year, New Column

New Year, New Column
New Year, New Column

It’s been a bit of a whirlwind start to 2012 so far. In some ways I can’t quite believe we’re only just past halfway through January.  I feel as though I’ve easily crammed at least a month’s worth of work into the last 17 days!

One of my new writing experiences for 2012 is being a columnist for OM Yoga & Lifestyle Magazine.

I will still be charting my experiences here on the blog. But now once a month I will also be writing about the realities of getting started with teaching and finding my way, post YTT, in a new column following the first year of a new teacher.

Among the feelings of excitement at reaching the milestone of graduating from YTT were all sorts of questions about what to do next.  For instance, is it a good idea to set up your own class or just look for work at studios or gyms when starting out?  Is it normal to still feel nervous before teaching a class?  Various queries about the business aspects of being a teacher, and so much more.  As I talked to other teachers, new and experienced I realised that I was not alone – that these questions and feelings when one is just beginning are completely normal.  With this in mind, I pitched this idea to Martin, the editor and he said yes!

So, if you would like to follow my progress via the column, you can find the first one on p. 114 of the Jan/Feb issue out now.

Things I Never Expected from Yoga – No. 4…

Things I Never Expected from Yoga – No. 4…

That it would teach me about Listening…

I recently went to see a friend’s Mum in hospital who has been very poorly.  I have known her practically all my life and despite numerous health troubles over the years she has remained one of the most kind-hearted, positive and brilliantly witty people I’ve ever had the pleasure to know.  I view her as a being a bit like a second Mum.   Having found out she’d been admitted to hospital I knew I wanted to pop in and see her.  I had in mind that I would probably only be there for about half an hour or so (and it was a weekend and I had stuff to do etc etc…).  As it turned out I didn’t leave until nearly two hours later, just as my friend (her daughter) arrived.

To explain, on top of her other health issues my friend’s Mum has been hard of hearing for a number of years so conversations can be less than straightforward not to mention, at times, amusing in the nicest possible way.  Anyhow, I was sitting by her bed and she was having more difficulty hearing me than usual.  So in the end I stopped talking and just listened. 

Then I really Listened.

And the more she talked, I noticed something which I think is pretty significant.  The way that she was communicating changed.   And she went from sounding incredibly down to laughing and joking and being more like the person I’ve always known.  Even her facial expressions completely changed.  And in that couple of hours I had barely said a word.  In fact, I hadn’t even noticed the time passing.

When I got home I thought about this.  What had happened?  What had changed way the she was communicating so dramatically?  I think it might be because she could feel that she was actually being Listened to.  It reminded me of something I heard from an interviewee via The Dialogue Project.  This interviewee had expressed that he wasn’t very articulate but when the interviewer commented that ‘articulate’ was exactly what he was being, the interviewee paused for while then responded:

“I’m being articulate in a way that I couldn’t be if I wasn’t really being listened to.”

What does all this have to do with yoga?  Well, for me this is about Being Present. This experience with my friend’s Mum showed me that Being Present is the difference between listening and Listening.

Not fully Being Present when someone is talking to me – looking over their shoulder, my mind racing ahead to something I need to later – is something that I know I am all too often guilty of.  I also know that I am not alone in this because when someone gives me their full attention and is truly Listening to me I really notice this generous act.  I’m a pretty quiet person and I’ve always tended to think of myself as not being much of a talker, not that articulate – but that’s not entirely true.  Like my friend’s Mum and the man from The Dialogue Project, the way I communicate seems to change when I can feel that I am being Listened to.  It seems so obvious yet it’s something that has only just dawned on me and I feel this is something that has come to me via my yoga practice.

This theme of Listening seems to be coming up in front of me a lot lately.  Just today I read article in OM Yoga Magazine where Sheila Steptoe writes that truly Listening is:

“…one of the most beautiful gifts you can give to others and to your self.” 

Sheila also writes:

“Children need to be heard especially if they have worries, but too often the moment passes us by.  Are you really always too busy doing other things?  What other things are really that important?

Adults too are often affected when no one will truly listen to them.  It can take a huge amount of courage sometimes for people to share something important if they want your advice or even just to pass comment on something that may have happened to them.”

That all makes sense to me because on some level, isn’t that what we all want?  To be Listened to.  To be acknowledged. To be Heard. 

At the next available opportunity I went back to the hospital and I Listened some more.  I’m so very glad that I did.