Top 5 Tips for selecting your perfect retreat

Relax

Taking time to find your perfect retreat is well worth the effort, here are a few tips about how to go about it.

1. Location

Choose an area that will enhance your experience of a self discovery retreat, a quiet, tranquil area instead of a bustling holiday resort where you will be tempted to stay in the hectic, chaotic pace of modern life. Pick a location you’d really like to visit, maybe somewhere on your bucket list or somewhere different than you would normally holiday. Search for retreats in these areas and do some research into the local area, it’s customs and traditions, find some places you might want to explore while you’re there.

2. Accommodation

Research the accommodation, does it look like a tranquil place with clean rooms? Ask your retreat organizer if the center, hotel or location has it’s own website and check it out, look up the address on Google Earth or Street View at the location. Do they have other facilities like a spa or massage therapist, a pool, other facilities that you would make use of during your stay? If there’s no picture of the rooms or location to be found, or the pictures look dated, there might be something they are not saying. If you can’t find anything about the location anywhere, ask for some recent pictures to be sent to you by email.

3. Teacher

Many people go on retreat with their own regular teacher, but if your teacher is not organising a retreat or not at a time convenient to you, or you just want to try something different; be open to looking for retreats with other teachers. Check out the teacher of the retreat you are researching; their schedule, teaching background, where they are from, etc. Check out their social media links; if there are a lots of pictures of him or her in advanced acrobatic postures, then it’s a safe bet the retreat may be focused on the gymnastics on the mat. What other things do they post about, do they live a yoga lifestyle or is there a feeling of contraditction in their posts? If you are unsure, contact the teacher direct and ask questions. Read the testimonials on the retreat website, but also about the teacher if you can find some, there can be quite a bit of info in these testimonials and they may give you a better idea of what people enjoyed about their stay at the retreat.

4. Style & Activities

There are many types and styles of yoga, and each teacher is different, but it’s worth thing about whether you are looking for a more rigorous physical retreat or a more restorative, meditational experience. Some retreats combine yoga with other complimentary practices such as Mindfulness or Reiki; you might discover a retreat that combines the style of yoga you want with a complimentary practice that you have always wanted to try or find out more about. Check out the rules and programme of the retreat, some retreats can be strict about their schedule, others more flexible; choose which type works well for you to be able to reach the goals of your retreat, whether that be to progress your practice or just to take time out to remember who you are! Participants often start out buzzing with nervous energy, asking for details on the schedule for the week, where the nearest town is, if there are extra activities, what to do during “freetime”….. they want to stay active at all times and keep the stressed pace of life they are used to… be open to doing less, taking time to pause from your usual pace of life and be flexible about what you’re going to do in your “freetime”.

5. Pricing & Timings

Think about what time of year is best to visit the area, peak season may not be the best time to go on retreat with the beaches or local sights packed with people, and off season there may not be anything open. Research about the best time of year to visit and what the weather will be like; if you usually live in a really cold climate and then go to a retreat that is really hot, will your body be able to cope with the heat and the physical demands of daily yoga classes? Retreat weeks can be costly, but if you plan ahead you can sometimes find great deals during off-season or end of season months. And remember the cheapest retreat may not always be the best choice for you, don’t make any decision just based on the price. Check out flight prices for the different retreat dates. Don’t forget to think about travelling to and from the retreat, some may offer transfers, but you might also want the independence of hiring a car or bike so you can get about and explore the area at your leisure.

Regain your balance

Regain your balance

A Yoga Retreat can be hugely beneficial to your physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing, it has the potential to connect you with like-minded people who share similar passions, beliefs and outlook on life; a friend made on a yoga retreat can become a friend for life. It gives you the opportunity to make some space for yourself, quiet your mind, and find inspiration that can benefit your relationships, work and many other areas of your life. So start researching for your perfect retreat today and have a great time, learn things and relax!

And finally, if your idea of a perfect location is a stunning, mostly undiscovered area of an Italian island situated in the middle of the Mediterranean with clear, turquoise seas and stunning mountain scenery, and you are looking for a Hatha Yoga, Mindfulness or Reiki Training retreat, then please check out our own range of retreats in Ogliastra, Sardinia.

To find inner peace…

“To find inner peace, have full attention and interest in everything you do …
To find inner peace, live fully in the present, the past and the future are dissolved in cycles of eternity …
To find inner peace, be inwardly relaxed: in the body, emotions, mind and spirit …
To find inner peace, practice non attachment: be aware that nothing and nobody really belongs to you …
To find inner peace, consciously cultivate joyful thoughts…
To find inner peace, have no desires; realize that happiness is inside you, not in external conditions or things …
To find inner peace, realise that you can’t change the world, but you can change yourself …
To find inner peace, project peace externally, in the environment that surrounds you …
To find inner peace, live simply, reduce what you “must have” …
To find inner peace, lead a healthy life: exercise regularly, eat healthily, breathe deeply …
To find inner peace, act freely from your inner Centre, without being a slave to what the world asks of you …
To find inner peace, accept the truth as your guide in all circumstances…
To find inner peace, do not covet what have others, but know that what it is yours will find ways to reach you …
To find inner peace, don’t complain, but acknowledge that what life gives you depends on what you, first, give yourself …
To find inner peace, accept the responsibility of your failures and realise that only you can turn them into accomplishments …
To find inner peace, conquer yourself, don’t just cease hostilities …
To find inner peace, smile in the heart even when others are looking at you wrongly …
To find inner peace, give joy rather than taking from others …
To find inner peace, work with others, never against them …
To find inner peace, meditate and draw from the sources of peace from the soul …
To find inner peace, accept yourself: do not be blind to your faults, but do not hate yourself for them …
To find inner peace, love others selflessly, without selfish motives.”
(Swami Kriyananda)

Salamba Sirsasana

“Put the attention into the luminous connections
between each of the centers throughout the body.
The base of the spine and the top of the skull,
The genitals and the heart!
The heart and the throat,
the throat and the forehead,
the forehead to the top of the head . . .

Attend to the current of relationship
electrifying, ever-pulsating, richly textured,
between each of these and every other.

Then attend simultaneously to resonance of all with all.

Enter that glowing net of light
with the focus born of awe
and even your bones will know enlightenment.”

Infinity dancing everywhere..

“Experience the substance of the body and the world
as made up of vibrating particles,
and these particles made up of
even finer energy particles.

Drifting more deeply,
feel into each particle
as it condenses from infinity
and dissolves back into it
continuously.

Noticing this, breathe easily
with infinity dancing everywhere.”

Perfection?

This is not an advanced. perfect or difficult yoga posture, this is not a fit, perfect body, but this IS yoga and it does feel perfectly blissful!
Cobra posture, Cea Beach, Ogliastra
There are so many photos and videos out there of perfect bodies doing perfect (and advanced) poses. They feel wrong to me for 2 reasons; the first: they are just another example of modern society’s obsession with sex, perfection and beauty which places pressure on everyone to reach these unrealistic goals and promotes, self loathing, inadequacy and a desire to be something other than what we are. The second: I worry that it puts many people off trying yoga, because the postures we see are advanced postures and are not achievable for many, even after years of practice, not every body is the same and not every body is capable of some of these advanced postures. So many people who are curious about yoga have said to me “I can’t do yoga, I am not flexible enough”; these pictures and videos do nothing to encourage these people and it is a shame because so many could benefit from a yoga practice.
I understand that for some these pictures are incentive and goals and I am not saying there is no place for them at all, but I do feel the balance with videos and photos showing more subtle and gentle practice is totally off.I long for the day when we will be encouraged to embrace and love ourselves for who we are and where we are on our journey and when we can learn to see and accept others for who they are, with all their imperfections!

It starts with you…..

It starts with you…..
Governments cannot change the world, neither can churches, society nor any other authority.  Nobody can be forced to show compassion, tolerance, respect and nobody can be forced to change.
Gandhi said “be the change you want to see in the world”.
The world will only be more peaceful, compassionate, tolerant and safe if we each individually commit, every day, to being the best we can be; to show respect, to be compassionate, to help others, to choose how we react to challenges and differences, to show by example that there is a better way.
Can you imagine the revolution that would occur across the whole planet if each and every person on the planet, on this very day chose compassion instead of selfishness, chose generosity instead of greed, chose to think of us all being interconnected and sharing resources and knowledge in a fair way instead of the protecting the needs and greed of individual countries, religions & cultures, chose to give without thought of receiving, chose to be tolerant and respectful of others’ differences in ideas, beliefs, colour and culture instead of prejudiced and intolerant, chose forgiveness over anger and hate?
Peace in a bubble by John Taylor 
It can happen, but we must stop expecting someone else to do it for us, we have to do this ourselves. So why are we waiting for something or someone else to save the human race, to save our world?
Begin today; be the best you can be; allow your tranquility, compassion and generosity to be the example to everyone you meet. Choose to react and think differently today, see the change it brings about within your own heart, your own well-being; allow the change to spread from you like a bubble, show others how things can be different; if your change in attitude makes just one person feel a bit more positive or a bit happier, wouldn’t it have been worth it??
And if you slip up and make a mistake, don’t beat yourself up, we all make mistakes and we all have bad days; show yourself compassion and forgiveness and begin again…never give up…always “be the change you want to see in the world.”
Let’s start the revolution together….

Emotional pain, acceptance; Yoga

I was mooching around the internet last week, just generally looking at yoga stuff and I saw a picture of a yoga pose; one of those yoga pictures with a perfectly formed, young, attractive body in an advanced posture, and when I clicked onto the site it had come from I was taken to the blog of an anorexic lady, with lots of posts expressing self hate, self loathing and even a few about self harming. I felt a huge amount of compassion towards this person who appears to be in a very dark place, and I do really hope that she does get to a yoga and/or meditation class with an experienced yoga teacher who can help her on the path to self acceptance and in time maybe even a place where she can learn to understand that she does deserve love and is beautiful.

What occurred to me after (and I looked at a lot more links from pictures of these beautiful, advanced yoga postures with young, attractive, slim people) was how many people out there are striving to be the image the media and modern western culture is holding up as perfection, and how far this representation is of what yoga really means. I saw images of yoga postures with slogans attached to them about striving to be the best, to be slim, to be more competitive, to be more than you are today; it was represented as a fitness practice –  something people do to make themselves something else….and I felt sad. Why??

For me, yoga is totally not about being competitive; it is about self acceptance, a feeling of being connected and alive, being completely joined with the present, enjoying the here and now, experiencing this moment totally….whatever it is presenting to me. For me yoga is not something that I do, it is something that I am……it is my breath, my body, my feelings, my total experience (whether it be happy, sad, painful, pleasurable, etc) in this moment and so much more.

Yes; it also helps me to move beyond my current limitations, but with patience and with compassion for myself, without the feeling that I am not good enough now and need to be something else – something more; instead just with the ongoing experience of being with my body and breath I move beyond my past limitations and, yes, there are days when things are different in my body, but with a connection with yoga I see them now only as “different”, and I can see things as they are instead of judging my body, things, people, experiences as “worse” or “better”.

I have been in some dark places during my own life and I know intimately some of these feelings of self loathing, feelings of lack of self worth, grief, pain, separation and sorrow that I saw reflected in many people’s blogs and websites and I hope, with all my heart, that anyone out there who feels inadequate, ashamed, hurt and unloved will find a way to know that they can be happy, they can experience peace, stability and love. And to anyone who is reading this and feels in a dark place right now: please try yoga and/or a meditation, preferably with an experienced teacher who can demonstrate and guide you beyond just the physical exercises, it may not be an overnight fix, but with the right guidance it really can change your experience of life for the better.

Namaste

Beginners guide to Yoga

Yoga is an ancient practice, developed in India, and is thought to have it’s roots in a civilization called the Harappan. Yoga has been recorded in texts called “Vedas” dating back 4 to 5 thousand years ago. It has roots in Hinduism and Brahmanism, however it’s practices can be used to enhance any spiritual belief or it can be used as a purely physical practice to enhance physical and mental health and wellbeing.
Yoga has many different forms of practice and is traditionally a way of life and not just the physical postures that we associate it with in the West. The practice of yoga is dedicated to creating union between body, mind and spirit. In fact, the Sanskrit word yoga has the literal meaning of “yoke”, from a root yuj meaning to join or to unite. Its objective is to assist the practitioner in using the breath and body to foster an awareness of ourselves as individual beings intimately connected to the whole of creation.
In approximately 200 AD Patanjali wrote down the guide to living a yogic lifestyle in a text called The Yoga Sutra of Patanjali. This sacred text describes the inner workings of the mind and sets out an 8 point guide for controlling the restlessness of the mind enabling us to enjoy a meaningful and peaceful life and, ultimately, attain enlightenment.
The eight-fold path of Yoga begins with the preliminary practices of yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, and pratyahara which build the foundation of spiritual life and deal with the health and control of the physical and emotional body. The last three practices of dharana, dhyana and Samadhi, which are not possible to achieve without the previous practices, deal with reconditioning and training of the mind and working towards attaining enlightenment.

1.       Yama

Yama refers to social behaviour and moral principles, how we treat others and the world around us. There are five yamas:
  • Ahimsa – Nonviolence & compassion for all living things. The word ahimsa means to not injure or behave cruelly to any creature or any person. However, Ahimsa is more than just lack of violence; it means kindness, friendliness, and showing consideration to other people and things. It also refers to our duties and responsibilities; Ahimsa implies that in every situation we should adopt a compassionate attitude and do no harm.
  • Satya – Commitment to being truthful and honest. Satya means to speak the truth, however it is not always desirable to speak the truth because it could cause harm to someone unnecessarily. We also have to consider Ahimsa in what we say and how we say it. If speaking the truth has negative consequences for another, then it may be better to say nothing. Satya should never come into conflict ahimsa. This principle is based on the understanding that honest communication and action form the foundations of healthy relationships, communities and governments, and that lying, dishonesty, exaggerations, and mistruths harm others and ultimately ourselves.
  • Asteya – Not stealing . Steya means to steal; asteya means to take nothing that does not belong to us. Non-stealing includes not only taking what belongs to another without permission, but also using something for a different purpose to what was intended, or beyond the boundaries it was offered by its owner.  The practice of asteya refers to not taking anything that has not been freely given. This includes having consideration for how we seek another’s time or attention; when we demand time or attention that is not freely given it is, in effect, stealing.
  • Brahmacharya – Sense control. Brahmacharya indicates that we should form relationships that foster our understanding of spiritual truth. The person who practices brahmacharya avoids meaningless, harmful or abusive sexual encounters and uses their sexual energy to regenerate the connection to the spiritual self.
  • Aparigraha – Controlling the desire to acquire and hoard wealth. Aparigraha suggests we take only what is necessary, and we do not to take advantage of a situation or behave greedily. Do you really need more shoes, another car, or to be the centre of the conversation when you see your friends? Aparigraha also encourages releasing our attachments to things and an understanding that change is the only certainty in life.

2.       Niyama

Niyama refers to self-discipline and responsibility, how we treat ourselves. There are five niyamas:
  • Shauca – Purity and cleanliness. Purity refers to keeping yourself, your clothing, and your surroundings clean. Eating fresh and healthy food. Shauce also refers to the cleansing of the mind of its negative and disturbing emotions like hatred, passion, anger, lust, greed, delusion and pride.
  • Santosha – Contentment and gratitude. Santosha refers to the cultivation of contentment and tranquility by finding happiness with what you have and who you are, rather than focusing on what you don’t have or what you would rather be. To be at peace and content with our lifestyle even while experiencing life’s challenges and difficulties becomes a process of personal and spiritual growth.
  • Tapas – Austerity and self-control. Tapas refers to showing discipline of body, speech, and mind. The purpose of developing self-discipline is to control and overcome the short term distractions and desires, in order to stay focused and direct the mind and body for spiritual growth and purpose.
  • Svadhyaya – Self-reflection and study.  This refers to the study of sacred texts, which are whatever books are relevant to your spiritual practice and inspire and guide you on your spiritual path. It also refers to any activity that cultivates self-reflection and to intentionally develop self-awareness in all our activities and practices, to respect and accept our limitations and to recognise our less positive traits with a view to compassionately and patiently working to grow beyond them.
  • Ishvara-Pranidhana – Celebration of the Spiritual. The final Niyama refers to the recognition that the spiritual or Divine suffuses everything and through our awareness of this we can embrace our role as part of the Divine energy.

3.       Asana

The postures of yoga are used to prepare the body for meditation. In the West we often consider the practice of asana or postures as an exercise regimen or a way to stay fit, however, in order to sit for any period of time in meditation, it requires a supple and healthy body. If you are free of physical distractions it is easier to control the mind and internalise the senses for the advanced practices of meditation.

4.       Pranayama

Prana refers to the life force or energy that exists everywhere and flows through each of us and is generally best understood through the breath. Pranayama is the control and extension of breath and prana within the body. The practices of pranayama purify the body and removes distractions from the mind making it easier to concentrate and meditate.

5.       Pratyahara

Pratyahara refers to the withdrawal of the senses from conscious awareness. Pratyahara can occur during meditation, pranayama, or when performing yoga asana; any time when you are focusing your attention inward.  

6.       Dharana

Dharana means concentration or one-pointedness of mind and is often practiced with a focus such as a candle flame. In dharana, concentration is effortless; you know the mind is concentrating when there is no sense of time passing.

7.       Dhyana

Concentration without an object is called dhyana, this leads to the state of meditation. The practice of meditation is not unconsciousness or lack of awareness, but rather is a state of heightened awareness and a feeling of connection with the universe. The calm achieved in meditation spreads to all aspects of your life.

8.       Samadhi

The ultimate goal of yoga is Samadhi or absolute bliss. This is superconsciousness, in which you and the Divine become one. Those who have achieved samadhi have attained enlightenment.
There are many different styles and approaches to yoga and although all of the styles are based on the same physical postures each has a particular emphasis; this can be baffling to a beginner to yoga, however it does mean that people of all personalities and abilities should be able to find a style that suits them.
Types of Yoga:
Hatha – Yoga postures, breathing, cleansing practices and relaxation
Raja – Meditation
Bhakti – Devotion
Karma – Selfless service
Jnana – Study
Japa – Mantra
Major styles of yoga:
Traditional Styles developed by Indian Gurus
Hatha – slow-paced and gentle and provide a good introduction to the basic yoga poses, pranayama and meditation.
Integral – gentle, accessible and non competitive style of practice incorporating physical, spiritual, intellectual and interpersonal relationships.
Iyengar – strong focus on alignment and balance in the postures, often with use of props with postures held for longer durations.
Ashtanga – vigorous, athletic and flowing style of practice
Kundalini – one of the more spiritual types of yoga with an emphasis on breathing, meditation, mudras, kriyas and chanting
Sivananda – Slow and gentle practice with a focus on 12 key postures.
Viniyoga – adaptable and usually gentle practice which includes postures, chanting, breathing and meditation
Kripalu – Gentle and individualised practice with an emphasis on meditation and spiritual transformation
Contemporary styles developed in the West
Bikram – vigorous yoga postures in a heated room between 95-100 degrees.
Anusara – light-hearted, flowing style practice with the use of props.
Forrest – strong physical and emotional practice with an emphasis on healing and transformation
Jivamukti – vigorous flowing practice with themes on philosophy and chanting at each class
Restorative – very relaxing practice with the use of props to open the body through passive stretching with postures held for up to 20 minutes at a time
Yin – postures are held for extended periods of time to stretch the connective tissues like tendons and ligaments.

Get the most out of your practice

Do not do anything that doesn’t feel right in the present moment, if the posture is not working for you for any reason, modify it so it feels right for your body, mind and soul or relax out of it and rest. Your body, mind and emotions are constantly changing, what feels right one day may not feel the same way the next day, listen to your experience as it is happening now, be guided by your inner intuition. Never do anything that hurts, listen to your breathing, it is a good indicator for understanding your limits, if it is becoming irregular or difficult, rest and wait for your body to be ready before starting again.
Do not worry about what other people think, or what other people are doing, experience YOUR practice fully and with complete awareness, without being distracted by external influences or by internal dialogue or internal judgements about yourself or others.
Enjoy your strengths, but do not neglect your weaknesses, do not be ashamed of the things that you find difficult or challenging. Your weaknesses and the areas of the practice that you enjoy less are opportunities for learning and growing. These are the experiences that we tend to avoid or reject, and these are often the experiences from which we can learn the most, try staying with the postures you tend to avoid, see if you can find a way of liking them, or at least try to breathe and stay with the experience for a while.
Wear clothes that fit and are comfortable for you, that suit how you feel and suit your personality and make you feel good about yourself and allow you to give your attention fully to your practice without the need to adjust your clothing, wear clothes that do not hinder your movements or emotional freedom to explore your experience of your yoga practice.
Whether in class or at home, follow your intuition in a posture; listen, feel, adjust, listen again. Enjoy your practice!

Ardha Chandrasana – Crescent Moon Pose

Start on your hands and knees, and step forward with your right leg between the hands. Exhale and lean the hips forward and down. The left leg stretched behind; the left knee resting on the ground. Inhale and arch the back and bend the head backwards. You can rest the fingertips on the floor for support or for the final position raise your hands above your head keeping the elbows straight. You can hold the position for 3 to 8 breaths.
Your physical awareness should be on the curving of the spine and the stretch in the hips, chest and throat areas.
Your spiritual awareness should be on swadhisthana and vishuddhi chakras.
This posture is a revitalizing pose, it loosens and strengthens the skeletal structure, particularly the spine and can help to relieve sciatica, it enhances blood circulation, relieves respiratory problems, sore throat and colds through the stretching of the chest and neck and can also be beneficial for disorders related to the ovaries, uterus and urinary tract through the stimulation to the abdominal area and increased blood flow to the region.

Yoga….not interested?

I have heard it said: “yoga doesn’t interest me” and “yoga is a specialised practice” or “yoga is not really exercise” .  I totally respect that everyone has their own thoughts, opinions, likes and dislikes and I would be the last person to take that away from anyone, what I am not sure of, and maybe you can help me out through your comments, is what people think yoga is when they make these sweeping statements and why they think it is not a practice for them. When I mention I am a yoga teacher the response most of the time is pretty much the same; people think it is for relaxing or a form of meditation, lots of people mutter “om” at me or strike a meditational expression. Now yoga can be both of these things, but it is also so much more.
Obviously the relaxation benefits and spiritual aspects of yoga are what most people seem to associate most readily with when we mention yoga, so if you are not interested in relaxation or spirituality, meditation and chanting, why should you try yoga?
Physical health & fitness
Yoga asana (postures) work on the whole body; massaging internal organs, releasing toxins,  increasing flexibility in muscles, ligaments, tendons and joints, strengthening and toning muscles, balancing the nervous system and improving circulation and blood pressure. The asana can be physically demanding and challenging, however they are adapted by the teacher to suit people of all ages and flexibility to make it a fitness practice that is available to everyone. If you are an active athlete in another sport, then the stretching and stamina building aspects of Yoga can help you become a better overall athlete, yoga can be a perfect complement to other sports and activities. Yoga’s holistic health benefits can help to prevent injuries, health conditions and disease and can also help to improve existing conditions.
Just one more thing about starting yoga classes in a physical sense here; the teacher and many of the other students have probably had a lot more practice than you if you are a beginner, they also have a totally different body than yours, don’t think that you can go to your first lesson and be able to do any of the postures with any sort of ease, grace or coordination! The teacher is demonstrating the final posture, and talking about how the breathing should be done, this is what you are working towards and how you should breathe when you have understood what the body is doing….not what you should be achieving now! Don’t approach this with a competitive or a self critical mind, don’t compare yourself to the teacher or anyone else in the room, patience and compassion towards your body is what is required when you practice yoga, this is your experience not the experience of the person stood next to you.
Mental health
Psychologists know that moderate exercise, such as yoga, is good for depression and anxiety. Yoga practice concentrates your mind on the physical sensations of the body and breathing which can work as a helpful tonic people suffering with anxious and obsessive behaviour. Yoga can be a distraction from worry and anxiety as it encourages your mind to focus on the body and the breathing; on your direct experience of the moment. Yoga is a very effective stress reduction and relaxation tool, the various postures require the tensing or stretching and then relaxing of muscle groups and joints, which produces relaxation in much the same way as a massage. Yoga practice draws your attention to the breath, which produces a meditative and soothing state of mind. Yoga also has a physical effect on the nervous system and can also reduce blood pressure. Yoga for stress reduction is generally cheaper than other professional treatments, free of side effects, and more empowering in comparison to medication alternatives and yoga can be used in conjunction with other treatments without any negative impact.
Pain relief & healing
Whether you are experiencing pains, aches or discomfort, yoga may be able to help. When yoga is combined with meditation, it has been shown to have therapeutic benefits for pain control for a variety of health conditions. The increased body awareness, concentration and balance that you develop through regular yoga practice can alter your perception and experience of pain and can also help you to change and release habits, posture, improve alignment and ways of moving to reduce the causes of your pain.
The increased flexibility and strength, the gentle nature of the exercises and increased self awareness that you get from a regular Yoga practice can help you heal old injuries and can even help you prevent new ones. Many people that suffer from pain caused by old injuries and have difficulty finding exercises that they can do comfortably find that Yoga is something they can do without pain or discomfort. 
It is important to tell your teacher what injuries you have or have had so they can adjust your practice to suit your individual needs and make sure you have a teacher who is competent and experienced enough to deal with your injuries.
Some other thoughts about trying yoga...
Try different styles of yoga and different teachers, one style does not suit all, many teachers offer a free trial lesson so it doesn’t have to cost you anything to get a taste of the different styles and teachers, and remember that one teacher may be dramatically different to another, even within the same style of yoga. However, when you find one that suits you, stick to it, there will be times when you think you want to stop or change teachers, this may be because you are close to an emotional or physical blockage and subconsciously you want to avoid it….persevere and you will reap the benefits. Having said that, if you continue to feel you have outgrown what your teacher can offer, move on!
Combine yoga with other sports or activities, if you feel you want or need other physical or mental activity; do it. Yoga is not exclusive, because you do yoga does not mean you cannot also do something else which satisfies your competitive nature or your desire for more aerobic sports or activities or external mental stimulation, it doesn’t have to be one or the other.
Many people comment that yoga is too slow, they cannot stay still, they get irritated because there is not enough going on, their mind wanders, etc.  Our modern lifestyles and perceptions often dictate that we “need to be doing something”, “need to be achieving”, “need to be active”, “need to be successful”, “need more”, “can’t just sit around doing nothing”….and if we are not doing something then we think “we are failing”, “something bad will happen”, “it is impossible  for me to be still”, “I have an active mind”, “I could be getting so much more done somewhere else”. Sound familiar? Stress, lack of self worth, peer pressure, mental health problems are becoming the norm in our modern societies, most of us not even aware we are suffering from these conditions and living in a state of “fight or flight”  response for the majority of our waking moments. 
Inability to be still and be quiet in our mind can be a symptom of something else, and practicing yoga or combining yoga with meditation can help to address the stress that we are being subjected to on a daily basis and to bring our nervous system, which deals with the physical reactions to stress, back into balance, thereby reducing the risk of stress related diseases and help our mind become more calm, focused and improve our ability to concentrate and learn and improve our memory too. And before you say it, no, I am not saying that because you don’t like yoga you must be mentally ill; I (most likely) don’t know you and have no right, no desire and no qualifications to make any form of judgement about you! All I am saying is ask yourself why you feel you cannot be still and be quiet, if you can give yourself an honest answer and it doesn’t involve stress or other emotional turmoil, then that is great, and what I am talking about does not apply to you, but if maybe there is a little bit of truth in what I am saying, why not try it, what is the worst that can happen if you allow yourself to be still for once?
So whether you like yoga or not, if you have any thoughts, feelings, arguments, etc, please comment, I really would love to hear about your reasons for not being interested in or not liking Yoga or how you used to dislike yoga and what changed your mind…..

Yoga…what to expect in a class

I moved to Sardinia just over a year ago now, we moved because my partner wanted to retire abroad and I came along because both my sons were doing well making a life for themselves in the world and the sound of a life more self sustainable, with less rain and more sunshine sounded just fine to me! 
Sardinia is a beautiful island, with stunning beaches and an excellent climate and the roads are comparatively quiet. Where we live we can see the stars in the sky at night without all the light pollution, we have free range chickens for our eggs, we grow our own vegetables and fruit and we have some very special friends who look out for us and are always there to help.
However, when it comes to me being a vegetarian and a yogi, there is definitely a lack of understanding here about these things. So I thought I would write this blog about what yoga is and what it entails for people who are curious and to try to break down some of the barriers.
I will start off by talking about what usually happens during one of my yoga lessons for someone who has no idea about yoga. 
Guidelines before arriving are don’t eat for at least an hour and a half before the class, wear loose, comfortable clothing, bring one or two blankets for relaxation and a yoga mat if you have one.  The most important thing you can bring with you to a lesson is compassion; compassion towards yourself and your body. Yoga should always be approached from how you feel today and your body’s ability today, not what you could do yesterday, or years ago or what you want to be able to do now or in the future. We start yoga from where we are now.

 

Then we move onto some yoga postures (Asanas). We start with beginners with very simple postures, which help to build up strength and flexibility. There are sitting postures (sitting and kneeling), standing postures and supine postures (lying down postures), and balances; far too many to go into individually here but during a normal class you will go through a few of each type of posture.  Each asana has different benefits and works with different muscles and organs of the body. Every asana can be changed for the different ability levels of the individual, as time goes on your flexibility and strength will improve, patience and compassion are the key. This part of the class usually lasts for approximately an hour.
From asana we move onto breathing (pranayama).  These practices can be done sitting or laying down and there are many different exercises, all of which have tremendous benefits for health and emotional wellbeing. In a class this would usually last for 15 to 20 minutes.
After pranayama we close the class with relaxation. In my classes I usually finish the class with Yoga Nidra, which is a deep relaxation practice which can also bring about profound positive changes to your life. Relaxation can vary in duration from 10 minutes to 40 minutes, depending on the time left and the type of relaxation exercise used by your teacher.
After relaxation, it’s back off into the world feeling more calm, refreshed and aware than when you started!
So there it is; a summary of a yoga lesson. Various teachers have differing approaches and may do things in a different order, but I have based this on one of my lessons; for the benefit of this blog. So for those of you living in Ogliastra, Sardinia, if this has made you curious and you would like to try it out, contact me for details of where there are available yoga classes; I hope to see you at a lesson soon!