What this site’s about

I teach Yoga in Erris, Co Mayo. I’ve been teaching Yoga for a long time now and I hope I’m getting better at it.

If you just want to stretch, strengthen and relax, you’re welcome to come along. I want to deepen your experience but I’m never going to judge you. If you want to know more, read on.

A lot of what I teach relates to my attempts to understand how to live, through philosophical investigation and practice. I’m finishing off a PhD in Philosophy and this heavily influences how I think and what I say. Above all, I seek to elicit compassion and humility so we can be kinder in our dealings with one another and more considerate in how we relate to the world.

We are living in an increasing emergency, ecologically, and this affects everything. None of us knows how fast this emergency will unfold: the future is hard to predict! But there are various things we can do to mitigate its impact: exercise compassion and humility in our dealings with one another, take as much responsibility as possible for our own health and well-being, adapt our lives to recognise the kind of limits that exist in the world, and reduce the suffering of ourselves and others by noticing, defending ourselves against, and watching the burning out of the violence and aggression we are enmeshed in.

It’s never perfect but if you’re prepared to make the effort, an integrated life is beyond riches.

For current times and types of class, please contact me. This is how April/May is looking:

Mon 21 April – new Hatha Yoga class (tbc)

Tues 22 April – new Beginner’s Hatha Yoga class 8-9pm six weeks

Tues day class 11-12noon ongoing

Wed 23 April – Hatha Yoga with emphasis on the Tha (or Yin) – holding poses longer, slower stretches, warmer room 8-9pm four weeks left

Thurs 24 April – Hatha Yoga with emphasis on the Ha (or Yang) – vinyasa flow class – stronger, faster sequences 8-9pm four weeks left

All courses 45 euro for six weeks; 10 euro drop in (but please text or email to book a space first – classes can get overfull otherwise!)

Mon and Tues classes suitable for all, Wed and Thurs need some experience

You need a Yoga mat: I have a couple of spares but if you need to borrow, please check that they’re available (and it’s healthier for you to have your own). You practice Yoga asanas in bare feet, wearing clothing you can stretch in. You might want to bring a rug for the relaxation section of the class.

Awaken stillness

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Workshops, CPD, pessimism

This is a kind of rant. A shout – a scream – for space for those who are marginalised by mainstream narratives. The context is that I’m feeling pretty pessimistic about Yoga at the moment. I mean, I still love practicing asanas and pranayama techniques are really useful, meditation is realisation in action, mindful movement gives me insights into my relationships within and beyond my skin, and Yoga Nidra is a wonderous system of interconnections that allow things to reorganise and integrate. But the last three workshops I have attended have been real eye openers, and not in a way that benefits tolerance and compassion: it’s all been a bit judgmental, a bit holier than thou. It’s maddening and constricting and saps my energy so I thought I’d let it out, and then let it go.

I’m keen to recall the Buddhist aphorism, be fierce with yourself, be gentle with others, so with that in mind, I don’t think names are important, and I also don’t think naming styles is important. What I do think matters is that Yoga is taught, and workshops are conducted, with some key thoughts in mind.

My own take on Yoga is a bit weird, a bit non mainstream. I’m not a Buddhist. I’m not a Hindu. I’m not a socialist or a Marxist. Nor am I strictly vegetarian, organic wearing, or always calm. I’m working on compassion. I don’t go for the Atman bit: for me, there is no inner soul awaiting awakening, no inner beauty waiting to be revealed if we can only slip into the shapes shown to us by the old teachers. Nor is there any other state than the state we are in right now, so there’s no improvement, no getting better, no progress, no journey. There is just this, just as it is, right here, right now, with all the impermanence and imperfection that implies. We can add layers of judgement but it will be what it is, though we may find it harder to accept. We can add layers of compassion and that may make it easier to accept and so to shift in it, or see loopholes, or feedback into systems that are more flexible, more ready to change.

For me, there’s no mind separate from body, no soul separate from mind, no you, no me, nothing but the experience, and the experience will end. Humans are not at the top of any evolutionary tree. We just happen to be able to reflect, to be conscious, and this is what changes things, and it’s also what gives us responsibility, the ability to respond, although that ability is confined to the realm of realisation. It’s realisation, all the way down. For me, the reality is the perception of this impermanent, imperfectable moment by moment movement that is the soul, the body, the mind, and all the other names we might decide to call it.

I realise that for many people this non dualistic approach to Yoga is heretical and does not sum up what for them are important feelings of being able to see Yoga as a path. However, when their statements of their ideologies alienates and oppresses mine, when their reiteration of their idea of a Divine light shining in all our hearts makes me feel vacuous, then I think they are less aware of the compassionate nature of the practice than they are pretending to be. It’s not as though I pull the wings off flies. But I want to be allowed to express and realise my own understanding during workshops, not feel like I’ve been swept out on their tide of self conviction.

You’re not right. I’m not wrong. What this perhaps might show me is that when I present my philosophy during Yoga classes, I must be careful not to bang on about non-dualism. I want people to be able to understand Yoga in their own terms, physiologically. I want it to shift narratives but not because I’m imposing my ideas on them; because they reach their own moment of self awareness. They deserve – I deserve – to be able to lie in Savasana without being told that this is a time to let my soul flower and become what it always has been – that’s your ideology, that’s your attempt to understand the wisdom that you have interpreted. It’s not mine. And you shut me out when you talk like that and I’d be lying if I said it didn’t hurt.

Now, the other thing that really strikes me about going to Yoga workshops is the tension I feel when there’s a push to make a lot of money out of the process. Sure, I understand and appreciate making a living. I’m making a living too. But saying that there’s a finite number of places and then squeezing so many people into the room that you can’t actually find a space for everyone against the wall, or carry out the facilitator’s instructions because you’ll put your foot through a window – that’s not OK.

The only thing I can do is bring this back to my own classes. Limit numbers to a group I know I can fit into the space available and if it’s a very full class, make sure that the asana practice I choose is feasible.

And that brings me to the final thought for today. Why are so many very popular workshops still conducted by men and attended by women, almost exclusively? This is a really uncomfortable power dynamic and I think we need to question it. Or maybe I need to question it because everyone else is OK with it. I’m going to make a concerted effort to attend workshops run by women, or attended by a mix of men and women, in the future.

I’m fine with women wearing make up – I do it myself sometimes! I’m fine with vanity – I’m as vain as the next person – and I’m certainly fine with feeling sexy under the right conditions. But a Yoga workshop is for developing your practice, not for flirting with the instructor, or for the instructor to play with boundaries around what’s OK to touch and what is not.

So, for the record, I’m going to see if I can shift my relationship with my CDP for a while. I won’t be travelling great distances any more – west of the country only, from now on; teachers will be female, or I’ll make sure the group’s mixed so we don’t have that patriarchical dynamic that is just retrograde, and, get this, sometimes I might even just train myself, go down to the hut for half a day and (so long as I reciprocate and take over from him in equal measure) with the support of my husband, spend time retreating at home. Of course I believe I can learn a lot from other people. But I’ve got a few unexplored resources of my own and when other people impose their views from the top of the room, I’m inclined to think I’ll be more enlightened by spending time learning from my own experiences than trying to dodge the ideological bullets hammering at me from over there.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Questions, Comments, Observations, Constructive Criticisms…

This form is for all those who came to my Yoga classes over the last eight or four weeks (depending on which ones you came to!) I meant to give you a questionnaire so you could give me feedback on what worked for you. I didn’t get a chance, because I’ve got other deadlines and pressures (!) so I’m putting a  form on here, and a link to Facebook and I’ll send some links out via email.

What I’ve found increasingly beneficial is to have a clear idea of what we’ll cover in the different classes over the course. I’ve been giving hand-outs of the asanas that we will cover so you have an idea. This has felt like a good development to me. How has it been for you?

Also, I’ve started introducing pranayama again. I steered away from this for a while (this is the focus on breathing techniques) because it is a bit more technical and because it can have quite a profound effect for some people. I’m still in two minds about this. Have you found it useful? Do you want more focus on specific yoga breathing techniques (alternate nostril breathing is one example)?

Thirdly, I’m keen that you get the benefits of a relaxation/ Yoga nidra-like experience and that means dedicating 15 minutes at the end of the class to this, which shortens asana time. I’ve sometimes shortened the relaxation period in the more dynamic class. How do you feel about this?

Fourthly, I’m thinking of offering an absolute beginner’s class on Mondays, instead of the Hatha Yoga class. I know that this means that people with more experience aren’t going to come on a Monday, but I want to give people who are new to Yoga a chance to start somewhere without feeling they have to know anything. What do you think of this idea? I offer a day class already on Tuesday – I could, possibly, offer a class on Friday in addition.

Finally, I am unfortunately going to have to put up my prices a bit – I have to make a living and at the moment, I’m not, to be blunt! I don’t want to make classes unaccessible, though: I will always offer concessions to students and people on low income or no income. I’d welcome your thoughts on this, and on possibilities for other teaching opportunities (bearing in mind I’m also writing up my thesis this year…)

Many thanks to all who have attended classes. It is highly encouraging to find people interested in looking after themselves. I’ve got an awful lot to learn and make lots of mistakes but I am, slowly, becoming better at communicating and that’s largely down to the feedback I get from you. Thanks. Namaste.

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Rat Race (Pro)

gamanrad:

Great post from CultFit. Thanks! Still in training for Tough Mudder Colorado and very much looking forward to it!

Originally posted on CultFit:

The truth is that everyone is bored, and devotes himself to cultivating habits-

Feel free to file this post under the “Stopped over, liked and promptly forgot what I read ten minutes later” category.

You, me, the dude shaving in the car next to you during the morning commute, we are our own worst enemies. Especially so when we start talking about cultivating and living a “authentic”  life, full of true and unbridled happiness. We make excuses, hourly, as to why we can’t overcome something or we are too busy surfing the webz, checking our work email during a Saturday morning group ride. To stop and realize just how destructive our growth-inhibiting patterns of behavior really are.

What follows is a series of blunt and prickly questions. I suppose we could call them the “Stinging Nettles” series of questions?!? I want these to irritate…

View original 483 more words

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Yoga Workshops over the Summer (June, July, Aug) in Beautiful Erris

DSC_0871 Three workshops over three weeks. Each workshop takes place from 7-9pm in the Irish Wheelchair Centre. Cost: €12 per workshop, 3 workshops for €30 but – Please bring a mat and a blanket!

Workshops can be attended individually but are designed as a series to be taken concurrently so each will build on the previous one.

Yoga for Peace Tuesdays First Course: 25 June, 2, 9 July;

Second Course: 23, 30 July, 6 August

A focus on physical, psychological and breathing space, accepting, extending and exploring resilience for a more peaceful relationship with oneself and the place one is in.

Yoga for Back Pain Wednesdays First Course: 26 June, 3, 10 July

Second Course: 24, 31 July, 7 Aug

A focus on working to relieve the symptoms of lower back pain and shoulder/neck pain. Developing a practice of self-awareness and self-care to explore the physical, psychological and breathing space within which symptoms develop using techniques of asana, pranayama and visualisation/ relaxation practices to work with current conditions.

Yoga for Sport First Course: Thursdays 27 June, 4, 11 July

Second Course: 25 July, 1, 8 Aug

Yoga asana, pranayama, visualisation and relaxation techniques to explore and develop a practice to enhance sports participation, with a focus on building core strength, flexibility and endurance (triathalon/ marathon training), alignments for ‘sided’ sports (tennis, golf) and dealing with the symptoms of some common problems (tight tendons, stiffness, maintaining focus).

If there is an interest, I would also like to offer Yoga for Youth (this would take place on Monday evenings, same time, lower costs to reflect economic status of students), and, separately, Yoga on the Beach (fun practice, surya namaskara and maybe a short run!) for three consecutive Friday mornings in June/July, and three in July/August, although this would be weather dependent – again, express your interest, please!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

New Yoga Classes this and next week – and workshops for the summer!

Yogadressyogaetc 008

Monday Beginners 20th May-24th June 7.30-8.45

Tuesday Power Yoga 14th May – 18th June 7.30-8.45

Wednesday Beginning a Flow Practice 15th May – 19th June 7.30-8.45

Thursday Power Yoga 16th May – 20th June 7.30-8.45

Irish Wheelchair Association

45 euro per course

concessions available – booking essential

looseyoga@gmail.com

09781205

0861286449

Every thought you produce, everything you say, every action, creates your future: take control of one thought, one word, one act, NOW, and you can change the entire course of history!”

Do not think of yourself as a small, compressed, suffering thing. Think of yourself as graceful and expanding, no matter how unlikely it may seem at the time.” –Light on Life by B.K.S. Iyengar

The highest spiritual practice is self-observation without judgment.” –Swami Kripalu

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Humility is endless

Having wanted to be a writer for a lifetime (second, only, to wanting to become a doctor) I now find myself undergoing the crucifying humiliations of re-reading what I publish here (and elsewhere). In that sense, writing is very like meditation, an endless quest to get to the bottom of what it is you’re trying to formulate, what you characterise, where you’re looking from. Only to find that this is the view from nowhere, and not only that, but you got distracted in recording it and let the camera move and now all you’ve done is left a blurred mess behind as evidence, not of your brilliance, but of your fallibility.

So, my post on yoga for mums and babies is less literate than I’d like, and I’ll go back over it sometime. And sometime, too, I’ll organise this so there’s a page of links to practices that might allow you to feel yourself into what’s going on for you right now. Yoga is meditation, really: it’s just that you move to feel what moves and what is still so it’s a kind of dance with stillness, getting the restlessness to manifest itself, shaping it through a series that yearns to be perfectly beautiful but more often ends up being resistance built into a block that then requires a massive effort of disengagement to free itself back into a reflection of the flow. Oh, dear. Humility. I will post, and regret, post, and regret. Yet this will be a practice in itself, showing that the ego need demand nothing more of itself than that it recognises how it winds things into complicated knots when really, things are just as they are.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Mum and baby Yoga

I’m just beginning to develop ideas for a Mum and baby class. Here’s the start (you don’t have to have a baby to practice this!)

Hold your baby or have them on a cushion alongside you. Begin by focusing on your breathing and your baby’s breathing. You can put a hand on baby’s tummy and tune in if you like. Notice how you feel. Things are as bad or as good as they seem. No need to add anything extra. Now see if you can lie back and relax a little, but keep your attention on your baby. Allow yourself to respond and be sensitive – your space, your love can relax into the space.

Bent knees, lie down. Baby is wherever is comfy against your legs, on tummy, wherever. Support with one or both hands. Begin pelvic tilts by tucking tail bone under, really gentle rocking motion for the baby, really nice for toning abs and releasing low back (and also, when you add a ‘lift’ to the pelvic floor, really good for toning up pelvic floor – ‘lift’ is mula bandha (like you need to go to the loo! Squeeze!).

Pelvic lifts – hold baby (or have baby alongside, looking at you, you looking with love and affection) and lift hips off the floor. If your low back feels strong, you can curl into this lift, otherwise just lift the whole unit of the back in one motion, but in either case, as you inhale, squeeze the pelvic floor, as you exhale, relax. See if you can hold this lift for ten breaths. Lift and lower baby if they are restless. Pay attention to your own restlessness. Just keep coming back to an acceptance of whatever is happening right now. Nothing is more or less than it is for you now. Open into it! Feel great compassion reflected between yourself and your baby who wants to be loved, and wants to give, but without ego. More next week (this is an experiment – I’m not charging for these classes, so I’ll upload what works, when we’ve had a few sessions…)

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

What is ‘spirit’?

What if “spirit” just meant “attitude”? As in, “that’s the spirit!” meaning, “that’s the way to do it!”

What yoga practice means to me is just this: get into the habit, the spirit, of realizing what is going on. It’s a physical thing – you realize what position you’re in, literally—but it’s also a psychological and even an environmental thing.

You have an attitude, a way of relating to, the phenomena of the world. This attitude prevails throughout your relationships. You may think you are expressing love in one relationship and expressing indifference or even hatred in another. But both are attachments, and if the attachment holds the pattern of the relationship in a rigid set of expectations, then it becomes inflexiblle, stuck. A spirit of compassionate detachment, on the other hand, recognises that while, of course, being human, we are involved and partial, we also have the capacity to see all our relationships within a broader compass so that we step back from the immediate involvement and see how the particular context of our conditions has brought us to this point. In this spirit, we can allow ourselves to see the patterns and their repetitive demands and sometimes, even, the very act of watching creates new layers of possibility so that what we thought was always so begins to alter and the thing that remains true is that when there is allowance for change and flow to take place, there, the spirit of joie de vivre, or of letting go, or, in Eliot’s words, ‘the dance’, is. May you see that the spirit of the dance is in your attitude, in the way you see yourself seeing. And may you have an extraordinary day!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

errisheadsun24mar2013-002.jpg

Yoga starts again this week. I like to go for a run before doing Yoga asana practice and the weather, even though it’s cold, has been ideal for running lately. You might be able to make out the letters ‘EIRE’ written in white stones on the grass for pilots during WW2 while underneath the parting in the clouds is Eagle Island with the lighthouse.

Image | Posted on by | 1 Comment