Monday, September 01, 2008

Moving house!

This blog is moving!

Please join me at my new home,

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Review: Bala Yoga and Interview: Jodi Boyd

Bala was one of the first studios I visited when I arrived in Melbourne. Despite the fact that it took me a hour and a half to get there, I just kept going back, until work got in the way! Jodi Boyd's classes, although vigorous, helped me start to rehabilitate from my sacro-iliac injury, and were completely safe, even for the likes of me. Also, the studio is beautiful and smells nice. I am always keen on the sweet-scented spots!

Jodi practising bakasana in the studio at Bala

Glamour shots of the studio...

And. Did I mention that there is a boutique? Prana yoga gear, mat bags, eye bags in delicious silks, and assorted natural goodies and books. A great way to pass the time before or after class!

They have an online store, for those of you who can't make it down to Beaumaris.

So, without further ado, read on to find out more about Jodi...

1. How long have you been practicing yoga, and how did you start?

My first class was about 18 years ago in high school, I was told it would help my asthma and my performance in the different sports I was competing in at the time (Surf Life Saving and Triathlons). I was pretty random in my practice - once a month, before or after an event - more stretching than the true sense of 'Yoga'.
Yoga became an essential part of my life a little over 10 years ago when I found two Yoga videos by Louisa Sear & Rachel Zinman. I practiced those videos morning and night until I knew them of by heart and that's when my journey really began.

2. How has yoga changed your life?

I am not sure how much of my changes have come from having Yoga in my life or have just come with age ('older and wiser') I know I put a lot down to yoga but I have 4 sisters who don't have yoga in their lives and they have had similar experiences - so a lot of my changes are inevitable - yoga or not. I know I am much kinder to myself and my body than I was in my teens/early twenties mostly due to yoga. I am very conscious and in tune with my surroundings, and my feelings, as well as what I want and what I actually need in/from life.
I know I was pretty sad and empty for some time and now I am the opposite. I lead a very happy and full life but my husband has a lot to do with that so it's not all Yoga.
And of course, it aided in changing my career path from Television Editor (which was not a bad job either!) to yoga teacher and studio/boutique owner.

3. You have been a triathlete, beauty queen, surf lifesaver, and TV editor. How did you come to add yoga teacher to the list?

My husband's job took us to Taiwan, and editing TV was not an option (I don't speak Mandarin). I had a pretty strong personal
practice then and one of the friends I made over there asked if I would teach some to her. I was nervous about teaching her things wrong so with my husbands encouragement (and my teacher at the time - Joy Armstrong) I did a teachers training course and I then started with teaching her at my house. 1 friend grew to 2, 2 friends grew to 4 then 8 and before long I was teaching 2 -3 classes a day all over Taipei some private some with 20+ students attending. People were telling me how I was changing their lives. I know it's the yoga not me, I am not disillusioned, I know I am not some kind of yoga Guru, it is just a great feeling to know you are helping to bring some happiness to other peoples lives, so there - a Yoga Teacher was born!

4. What kind of teacher do you strive to be?

Compassionate, approachable and understanding of my student's needs.

5. Lastly, tell us about the studio that you and your husband, Roger, own.

Hard at work behind the reception desk

It is a wonderful place for me to spend my days and hopefully an environment my students look forward to coming to, not just for the yoga but also for the comfort and calm they feel in being here.
My husband and I put it together, painted, scrubbed and assembled with a bit of help from a few friends and some tradesmen.My husband came up with the initial design, focused on a resort feeling with a Zen flow. We tried to create a spacious feeling with fresh flowing air, as well as being a quiet, calm and clean oasis with an Asian influence. Because the style of yoga I teach is very modern and not so traditional it was important to me that the studio reflected this.
The ambiance was very important to us also, dimmable lights, candles and oil burners with our unique bala scented oil. We are both into the minimalist style featuring large open spaces with the occasional piece (e.g - the Buddha's head) to add to the feel. Plus, I am an artist and I wanted my oil paintings surrounding me, they inject some colour along with our colourful students. I think your state of mind and the quality of your practice is effected by your environment, this is why I wanted to create something calming, open and uncluttered.

We called it 'BALA', it's a Sanskrit word associated with the meanings 'Strength, Energy and Power' reflecting the style of yoga I teach (a blend of the various different types of yoga practices I have tried over the years). I also like how the word 'BALA' implies balance.
With all the smiles on faces after a class and the lovely illustrated notes I receive from my Bambini (4-7yrs) and Nava(8 - 12yrs) students - 'I Love Jodi' and 'I Love Yoga', life can't be more rewarding! The Bala studio is a beautiful place to be.

Review: Studio Cirq and Interview: Lindsay van Niekerk

This post should have appeared much earlier in the week, but, dear readers, I have been busy!

Studio Cirq is tucked away in a side street in the centre of Melbourne, owned and run by a gracious woman called Lindsay van Niekerk. Yes, she hails from South Africa originally! A long time ago though. Lindsay has created a lovely space for people to go before or after work, and at lunch, and get their yoga fix. The studio also offers pilates classes, meditation, and shiatsu.

I have been attending the lunchtime Dynamic Yoga sessions, which are taught in the Sakshin Ghatasha style, and I love them! Just vigorous enough to keep you interested, not so vigorous that you need to shower before continuing with your day.

Image from a workshop held at Studio Cirq. See more on their Flickr

The studio is filled with interesting things; hand made stools from a local Melbourne designer, piles and piles of interesting magazines - yoga mags, health mags, Vogue. And then, of course, Lindsay herself is very interesting. Read on to find out...

1. How long have you been practicing yoga, and how did you start?
I think I started when I moved to Australia. It would be in the early 90s I dabbled in the odd Iyengar class at a school in Fremantle with a teacher called Kale Leaf (!) who was a wise and witty man who I believe is still teaching. I remember those classes fondly though I’m sure I hadn’t a clue what I was doing. The school was next to a strip club and I remember a Friday evening pranayama class where it took supreme mental strength not to be distracted by the amplified commentary coming from next door. It was a memorable experience and helps when I get stressed about the noise here at night with so many bars and restaurants around me. And now I am very drawn to Yin Yoga which emphasises working the joints by holding a pose for up to five minutes.

2. How has yoga changed your life?
The change has been a gradual process of changing the way I think about things. Trying not to be too dogmatic or believing their is one solution to things. Also being aware of the instinct to push oneself physically may be appropriate in many other activities, but in yoga we can rise above that and listen and learn instead of impose.

3.How did you come to open a yoga studio? What are the challenges? What keeps you at it?
I opened the Studio because I had lost interest in what I was doing (twenty years of film and television starting in Johannesburg) and wanted to do something that combined my skills in production management with my love of Pilates and yoga. My concept was very clear from the start and I researched it thoroughly, spending 8 months on a business plan. I love having my own business, making decisions every minute of the day that are all mine to make. Running a business can be a very creative process and I thrive on the human contact, particularly as it is something people want to do and the Studio is a place that is a great escape from the office.

4. What other things excite you?
Many things excite me. I read voraciously on many topics. I am also a huge user of the web, in particular blogs on topics ranging from architecture to politics. There is so much good stuff out there – I could spend hours on the web though I do restrict myself. I’m a bit of an early adopter and will research topics that interest me. Right now I am becoming more interested in growing things and have been messing around with making terrariums at home. Its something that will take a while as it is very much trial and error. Also I’ve discovered martial arts – and I do something called Swimming Dragon which is just the best thing as it is very expressive and beautiful to do. I’ve always been interested in design, music (my first job was at a record library in Johannesburg), cooking and I love animals, particularly my two large and noisy Siamese cats.

5. Lastly, tell us about your ultimate indulgence.
I’m not one for over the top luxury, though if you had to offer me a weekend at the Peninsula Hotel in Tokyo with unlimited spending, I may say yes please!!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

It's a circle of love!

Remember the interview of BlissChick I posted?

Well, if you click here, you can read the one she did of me: It makes me sound super-special, and now I love the BlissChick even more than I did before - it's a circle of love!

I think there are grammatical errors in this post, bear with me, late-tired-incoherent.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Just Breathe...Out!

I was so grateful to receive this email from Nischala Joy Devi:

1:34 Slow, Easeful Exhalations can be used to Restore and Preserve Balance

Rhythmical breathing allows the mind and emotions to return to their natural state of equilibrium.

This is her interpretation of the Yoga Sutra 1.34. I wasn't breathing so well, having just spent 15 very uncomfortable minutes with a guy at the laundromat* who insisted on telling me about all the women and girls in the area who had been raped and assaulted. In fact, he said the word rape so many times, I was starting to feel quite twitchy. I would have left, but had to wait for my laundry to finish. Needless to say, I had to stop and take a few deep breaths, and a few more deep exhales, once I escaped!

Thank you for the reminder, Ms Devi!

*Still waiting for my furniture to arrive, and with it, my beloved washing machine. Sigh. Soon.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Melbourne Yoga Expo!

How exciting! A big, YJ-style yoga expo, in Melbourne. It has been running for several years in Sydney, but this year is the first in Melbourne.

Here is the official schpiel:

Come as one, bring two.
Share happiness. Introduce your friends to yoga.

The essence of yoga is union. Practicing yoga gives rise to a sense of being connected with all others - in effect to become ‘at one’ with them. The main aim of Yoga Expo is to help bring about this sense of oneness within the yoga community and within the community as a whole.

When we are ‘at one’ we can connect with ourselves and our natural reaction is to share the joy of this connection with others. Therefore, the Yoga Expo’s theme this year is for all yoga practitioners to come in a mood of oneness, of unity, but to bring along other friends to share in the joyful experience. In other words to ‘come as one and bring two’, to ‘share happiness and introduce your friends to yoga’. For more info see:

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Interview with BlissChick

Have you chanced upon the BlissChick blog? If not, you are missing out!

When Christine Reed, the eponymous BlissChick, approached me to do an interview for her blog, I asked her to answer her own questions for mine. She is a fascintating woman, an inspiration for living right, a lyrical writer. Read on to find out more about her, and also, admire this magnificent portrait of her, painted by her partner Marcy Hall. I love Marcy's work, especially her animal portaits. If I was certain I wasn't infringing copyright, I would have posted those here too!

1. Describe the PrimaryBliss of your life. How did you come to know that this was your PrimaryBliss?
My PrimaryBliss is centered around story. Thinking back, it's been like this since I was a small child. We moved a lot, so books became my best friends. I ate them, one after another. And at night, to put myself to sleep, I would make up stories, imagine different lives, faraway places, all of that. So I've always found some of my greatest joys in reading. And now I write stories; I am rewriting a very long novel, actually. Which has been a surprise to me -- to be writing a novel. It has taken me a long time to realize that I'm not "just" an essay writer or a poet but a storyteller. It seems like that should have been obvious to me from the beginning but I've taken a long and circuitous route to my PrimaryBliss! I also collect stories. When I meet a new person, it's the first thing I do -- try to get their story, the overall narrative arc of their life. And I teach other people about finding their stories. Whatever I am teaching -- whether it's creative writing or communications -- and wherever -- in a traditional setting or a nontraditional setting -- I realize that I am essentially trying to teach people that their lives are comprised of stories and that this is important, that their stories are important.

2. What types of choices and sacrifices did you make to be able to craft this bliss-filled life?
My partner and I realized a long time ago that having bliss-filled lives, for us, meant having time. Time to read and write and for her, to paint and write, and time to garden and be at home and with each other and our animals. So we bought a smaller house than the bank thought we should. We gave up our car seven years ago -- for reasons that started out as personal and then after 9/11 became more political. We simplify every chance we get. We don't travel -- again, also for environmental reasons. Now, we live on basically one full-time salary. But this means, yes, that we have fewer things, but that's totally okay because we have time. We are on our paths and our hearts are fulfilled and we are stimulated and challenged and invigorated. Living bliss-filled life is about making choices, choices based on your purpose here, purpose beyond accumulating things and planning for a retirement that none of us are guaranteed to get.

3. How does your PrimaryBliss radiate out into the rest of your life?
My PrimaryBliss and the resulting choices touch every aspect of my life. Once you make choices, the next important step, I think, is always keeping them in mind. Not just reacting miscellaneously to life but acting from your center. So when a full time job opportunity came up that sounded momentarily interesting to me, I had to work through that and realize that it didn't fit. That it would just end up being a distraction from what I say is most important to me. Changing your mind is one thing, but it can't happen every other day. Commitment to your choices is vital. Otherwise, we are like little boats on wild oceans, not ever really navigating for ourselves.

4. What are some other activities that also give you this sense of bliss? Things that make you lose track of time?
Gardening. Even just weeding takes me out of my head. Which is good. I have to do things to get out of my head and into my body. So yoga is so necessary. I would say that yoga works in tandem with writing for me to keep me balanced. Kundalini yoga specifically. I love riding my bike and being at the water. Bird watching was one of the first activities that I encountered where I could totally just lose myself and be in sync with nature (I've been such a city girl for most of my life). Music is crucial and films and sitting with friends and trying new wines. And food -- I love to eat good food.

5. What is your daily or weekly spiritual practice?
I have a real eclectic approach to my spiritual life. I turn 40 later this year and I am finally accepting the fact that I have a need for a variety. (I come from a family that was very into specialization -- we'll put it that way.) Anyway, I would say that I am a Reluctant Catholic Yogi. I find a beauty in the mystical aspects of Catholicism and there's an emotional and visceral reaction to the Mass, when done well, that I can't get away from (as hard as I may try!). And I am very attracted to Mary -- the idea that she is really the last vestige of feminine divinity in any Western religion. The rosary beads helped me through some deaths. Of course, I do yoga almost every day. And I'm a big candle person -- and I try to make intentions with the lighting of any candle. And finally, I find it's important to me on every level, especially spiritual, to be outside every day. To walk. Especially in the winter, when we can get so cozy inside that we forget there is more outside our four walls.

6. What music is your bliss?
Music is one of my blisses overall. I love to listen to music, live and at home, all the time. And thanks to Kundalini yoga, in which there is a lot of chanting, I rediscovered my love of singing. Something I used to do spontaneously when I was little. I would just make up songs about whatever. My partner and I now do this, so our house can seem a bit like a musical sometimes. But I love everything, from Frank Sinatra to Azam Ali to Vampire Weekend to Yo-Yo Ma, everything. I am a child of the 80's so I have a particular soft spot for U2 and INXS and Duran Duran.

7. Name books or authors/poets or people who are your bliss, who influenced your bliss.
Obviously, books have been a significant part of my path. I have an MA in English so for a long time, I only read dead people. I return again and again to Virginia Woolf and have recently fallen in love with Proust. But I've been trying to branch out into the land of the living... I adore anything by Joanne Harris, Neil Gaiman, Barbara Kingsolver, Jonathan Carroll, Jennifer Egan. I read a lot in mythology/theology/philosophy. In poetry, I seem to have a thing for Latin men, like Neruda and Lorca.

8. What advice would you give to someone who feels they have not yet discovered their PrimaryBliss?
Journal. I think writing through all your "stuff" is really powerful, and if you don't know your bliss, I'm guessing you have "stuff" to unpack. Think back especially to your childhood and to what you spent your time doing -- when you had free choice in the matter -- and think about what your wildest dreams were, what you fantasized about, what you thought was out of reach. The journaling process can go on for a long time, but if you stick with it, I guarantee it will work. Also, I think people can take this all way too seriously sometimes, so remember to play and laugh and have fun. And look at this with, as some indigenous cultures would say, "soft eyes." When we look too hard, we can scare away the clues and the helpers.

9. Do you have a favorite quote you would like to share?
My current one is "all shall be well, all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well" by Julian of Norwich. I think that contains all the theology/philosophy any of us ever really need.

Friday, June 27, 2008


This is a fantastic piece, republished with permission from the author, Christine over at Yoga Every Day. I had not thought of brahmacharya in quite this way before!

Brahmacharya is one of the Yamas, or Suggestions for a firm foundation for practice. Brahmacharya means conserving your life force. As I was listening to folks discussing our current gas prices and “Energy Independence” on the radio, I realized that this is another application of Brahmacharya.

When we are aware of where and how we expend our life force - our precious time, energy and resources - we can make choices that reflect our deepest values.
Energy Independence begins with not using our life force carelessly. So if we’re sitting in front of the TV it’s because we mean to, and we’ve chosen the images we’re taking in. Or, if we realize mid-activity we are involved in something that doesn’t reflect our deepest truth, knowing we can choose differently any time.

The other part of Energy Independence is choosing the most efficient methods for moving through the world. On the mat this might mean being aware of whether we’re gripping in a pose, and releasing areas of unnecessary effort. A good rule of thumb is not to reach out further or with more vigor than we are reaching in.

In relationships, everyday interactions and helping others, our practice on the mat is really practice for respecting our own life force and the energy of everyone we meet. That’s why, though yoga makes us more flexible, healthier, thinner and happier, we have so many more reasons to find our feet on the mat.

And now, if you feel so inclined, you can do an asana session themed on this yama, from Kelly at SamadhiRUSH!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

I'm ba-ack!

Yay! Finally got home email sorted. Phew.

So now I can blog on a (hopefully) more regular basis; also, visit the blogs I love and have been missing (see sidebar) and actually respond to the lovely comments you leave. Instead of the deadening silence that has been meeting emails and comments.

Now for a little fizzle:
I got a rather nice email the other day. It appears I was 'blogged':

Just Breathe at Blogged

Stay tuned for the next few weeks: I plan a scintillating round of interviews and Melbourne studio reviews!

Now if you will excuse me, I am skipping off to waste time at Ravelry.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Settling in

I still don't have home internet access. If anything, the Australian state telecoms provider are slower than the South African! The home-phone saga has been going on for three weeks now...

So, still visiting the library whenever I can to check email, blog a teeny bit, and so on. Mostly, though, my days are filled with yoga. Lots and lots of yoga; partly in the interests of getting to know the yoga community, partly in the interests of getting the community to know me!

In general, I have been overwhelmed by the generosity of the yoga folks in Melbourne. This is a recurring them, since I have already said how wonderful most Melburnians are, but even more so the yogis. One teacher runs by-donation classes - just like in the old days, you pay only what you can afford, into a little tin. Two studios have offered me yoga classes for FREE. Why? Well, it seems, mostly because I have just arrived. Can you imagine that? Loads of free yoga just because I am a cash-strapped migrant? That is insanely generous behaviour, if you ask me.

So I have been going to lots of classes, and it seems there is a wider variety of yoga on offer here than in JHB - Jo'burg has a more polarised scene - either very vigorous yoga or very gentle. Melbourne seems to have more in-between stuff. Well-trained teachers, kind, safe. Safe being a big issue since I am just dipping my toe back into the world of non-therapeutic yoga after my back injury.

That said, I did attend a class last week where the teacher didn't ask about injuries at the beginning of the class and then gave me an adjustment which caused my injury to flare up again. I think I am going to have to find a chiropractor, actually. When I told my husband the story, he was furious with me. He wanted to know why I had let this happen when I so obviously know better. I said I really hadn't wanted to make a huge scene in the middle of the class: I moved away the first time the teacher tried to adjust me (non-verbal cue) and the second time, said something about my injury (verbal cue). Then I just gave up and took the adjustment.

My hubby is right though. I shouldn't have, since I was in so much pain that night I didn't really sleep. Bah!

Note to self: stick to the SAFE teachers.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Oh Dear

How did that happen?
What, you ask?

Well, it seems I am (clears throat) an endorphin junkie. Wow. I had no idea. I have been super-stressed and injured for so long, I had forgotten what it felt like to inhabit my 'real' body. Good, as it happens.

It also happens that I get cranky on days when I haven't done some heart-rate raising activity - brisk walk or fairly vigorous yoga practice, for example. This is how I know I am addicted to exercise. How did this happen to me? The kid who had to do cross-country because she was so bad at all other school activities? Who was quite sure that lying in bed reading was an Olympic sport?

It must be nature's way of inducing me to do what's healthy. Exercise, move, etc. Strangely enough, it seems that on days when I walk a lot (most of them, at the moment) my back hurts less. Although it hurts less in general these days. I can almost pretend no injury ever happened. But I won't. I promise to keep trotting it out on this blog for as long as I possibly can...

Now, limited internet access, must trot along and try to deal with my email.
Take care, all of you!


Thursday, June 05, 2008

Good for You: Yoga

little yogini, originally uploaded by hlkljgk.

Soooo, I've been rather quiet lately. Sorry. No internet access. Once my home phone is sorted I will be back in action, but for today's post, we have a guest post from Danielle Grilli. She is the content director of, and contacted me asking to do a guest post. Hell yeah, I said, I am not up to much, so go for it! I like that RVita quotes actual studies, not hearsay, so I can use the info from their site to offer my students proven benefits.

Read on...Publish Post

If I tried to count all the reasons why I’ve been doing yoga for 15-plus years, I think I’d probably lose track around about a thousand. I mean, yoga makes us FEEL good right? It makes our bodies feel tall and strong; it’s great exercise, and there’s no denying the small pride we all feel when manage to pull off some incredible feat of balance or strength or movement. It’s an evolution that, once you embrace, unfolds and unfolds before you in a seemingly endless journey towards…I’m not sure where, but it’s got to be good.

Any long-time lover of yoga knows well enough that yoga is curative inside and out. With roots in an ancient system of healing, an Indian philosophy borne from the desire to unify the body, mind, and spirit; yoga lays a path toward physical and emotional well-being. But how effective is yoga really? What do the scientific trials say? What can those who have never experienced yoga first hand expect from the practice and how can it be used as a treatment for various physical and emotional conditions?

Although many CAM (Complementary and Alternative Medicine) treatments have the disadvantage of being “clinically neglected”, yoga is an exception to the rule. In fact, over there years there have been hundreds and hundreds of reputable scientific trials which have touted the benefits of yoga. As a result, cumulative data tells us that there is “good scientific evidence” that yoga can be effective in the treatment of anxiety, stress, asthma, depression, heart disease, high blood pressure, OCD, schizophrenia, epilepsy and ADHD. Additionally, it has been suggested that yoga might be beneficial to those who suffer from fatigue, diabetes and reduced lung function among other chronic health conditions. To date, I don’t believe that there have been any scientific trials that have shown that yoga is a BAD thing to do although, as we all know, it’s important to watch yourself to prevent injury.

In the end it appears that yoga doesn’t just makes us FEEL better, it actually makes us better, healthier and stronger - inside and out.

Monday, May 26, 2008

One step at a time

I like maps. And guidebooks. And, you know, books of instructions.
They make me feel like the world is a safer place because it has been documented.

We have a ridiculous number of photos of me consulting maps - in Paris, in London, in Melbourne. In the Melbourne Aquarium. I mean, really. A map? To navigate the aquarium? Yes. I did. And I made my poor, long-suffering husband do it too.

Another thing I keep reminding myself of right now: how many migrants have come to these shores before me. And survived. And prospered. There is even a flashy monument with the numbers of people who have come from Eritrea, Macedonia, everywhere. And a museum. I have visited the monument, but not the museum yet. Soon.

It's like Mr Desikachar says in his translation of the Yoga Sutra (yes, the one I almost always consult):

When we are confronted with problems, the counsel of someone who has mastered similar problems can be a great help.
YS 1.37

Such counsel can come directly from a living person or from the study of someone alive or dead.

It's all yoga. Even the difficult stuff. Especially the difficult stuff, actually.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Lost in Translation

South African Flag, originally uploaded by afromusing. Australian Flag, originally uploaded by pookado.

Haha, taking advantage of the internet access while I have it.

So, although I speak English, it is not quite the same language as that spoken in my new country.
Some examples:

Did you want? = Would you like
See you later = Goodbye, because chances are you aren't going to see the person later. Or maybe ever again.
How you going? = Hello, or in SA we would say Howzit?
Singlet = vest or tank top
That's alright = It's a pleasure

That said, most everyone I have met so far has been as foreign as me, if not more so (not distance wise, but certainly language and culture wise.) So I actually don't know what Authentic Australianese is. Maybe it's to be found at my new favourite sushi bar where you can get lunch for $4 (R30) - so cheap! So friendly, so kind. Oh, wait, that's everyone in Melbourne.

Monday, May 19, 2008


Oh wow, one week in Melbourne today! People here are very very friendly, very very helpful. I have lost count of how many maps people have drawn for us, and restaurants recommended, kindnesses offered. AND. We walk around at night. After dark.

This utter lack of xenophobia makes me sad about what is going on in my erstwhile nation. It's such a stark contrast.

Anyway, I always find it hard to write about things while I am living them, so here are some photos instead!

See the originals here! And nothing will be said about all the cupcakes and coffee. Mmmm.

PS yes, I did knit that green hoodie. Love it.
PPS Thank you for all the emails and comments. Your support means so much! xxx

Sunday, May 04, 2008

See you on the other side!

It's a week until we go to Melbourne; the cat goes into quarantine tomorrow, the movers come on Tuesday, and on Sunday evening, we fly!

Things are crazy here right now, and the phone and ADSL will be cut off tomorrow(ish), so this is me, signing out until I get to Australia and internet access there!

Sorry if I haven't responded to your comments and emails - I will get to it, eventually.


Friday, April 25, 2008

A Yogini by any other name...

I was flipping through one of my old Vogues (yes, again!) and noticed for the first time a Saks Fifth Avenue advert, featuring 'actress and yogini' Fernanda Torres wearing this Carolina Herrera cropped jacket.

Now, I checked it out, and the cuffs on that? Fox fur. Not fake. Real.

As I understand the word yogi, or for women, yogini, it means 'one who has attained yoga'. That's why I have taken to saying yoga practitioner!

If you have attained yoga, you are by definition enlightened, and therefore have practiced and mastered all the limbs of yoga, including ahimsa - non-harming. Which precludes wearing fur. This actress is not a yogini. She is just some chick who does yoga poses to stay buff.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Yoga Butt

My friend Anna tells me there is a technical term for what ails me: yoga butt. Don't laugh, it's a technical term!
And no, it doesn't mean the beach-ready, hot pants wearing type of yoga butt we are all told we are aspiring to, but rather, as she puts it:

SI inflammation/instability often confused with sciatica

Yup, that's what I got. That's what a whole bunch of yoga practitioners I know have, too. Let me tell you how I think it all started with me...

I did a lot of Ashtanga. A Lot. Every day, primary series, with all vinyasas, for several years. Then I started to get hurt - sore wrists, sore hamstrings, sore knees, sore lower back, sore neck. It got to the point where I would dread getting on my mat in the morning. But, you know, yoga makes you feel better, right? So the more yoga I do the better I will feel, right?

Hmm. The end result seems to be that I have overstretched some ligaments deep in my hips, so my whole pelvic area is not as stable as it should be. (Yes, I have talked about this at length before, I know!)
A word of warning: if your hip structure doesn't want to do supta kurmasana, or any of those other pretzel poses, don't. Otherwise you will end up like me...

That's why I went looking for a kinder way to practice and teach yoga, and, thank goodness, I found it. But the legacy of my silly, joint-compromising past lives on.

Visiting the chiropractor has helped a lot. In fact I am thinking of recommending him for canonization. But. He wants me to do asymmetrical strengthening with more attention to the weaker side - and the first time I did that, I dislocated again and had to go trotting back for another adjustment.

So I am sticking to really simple stuff - the fab sacrum sequence from Yoga for Wellness by Gary Kraftsow - he has a dvd of this out now too!
I toss in a few other poses, almost all symmetrical, no one leg forward one leg back stuff, and definitely definitely no pigeon. That pose, much as I love it, is lethal to my current condition.

In fact, I am finding that the poses which feel 'right' are strength builders, mostly with my back at least a little supported - like locust (and variations), boat (and variations), bridge, gentle versions of urdvha prasarita padasana, and of course, the not cat-cow, chakravakasana.

On the recommendation of my mom-in-law, who is a naturopath, I am also taking the supplement MSM which is hopefully going to help with healing.

It appears that my yoga butt is just going to take time to heal. And patience. And we all know how well-endowed I am with patience. Maybe I should get some hot pants to tide me over?

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Divine Sunset

Yesterday was one of those hot, bright, dusty Jo'Burg Autumn days that make you want to hide in the shade until things cool off. Needless to say, dusk was welcome: the temperature dropped, a fragrant little breeze arose, and the sunset. Ah, the sunset. I stood on my balcony and watched the pinks and indigo's play across the sky until they faded to grey.

It was the kind of sunset you only get in Africa, the kind of sunset that had to come from Something Greater.

The kind of sunset that makes you feel blessed.

Nature is the greatest cathedral in existence.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Fashion First Aid

Vogue Cover Dec 1965, originally uploaded by Rootje.

I have a confession: I have been reading Vogue. You should see the looks on people's faces when I tell them this - like I am a yoga teacher with a drug habit or something! Thing is, the pictures are pretty, and it distracts me from daily life. This is what I want. Daily life is hard at the moment; Vogue is fluffy and somewhat vacuous. I love it! Yes, I am aware of the problems with women's magazines. But Vogue is what I need right now. And you know what? I can vindicate my habit...

In the Yoga Sutra, it says:

Any inquiry of interest can calm the mind
YS 1.39, translated by TKV Desikachar

A wise yoga teacher I know once referred to this, and its neighboring sutras, as first aid measures. Basically, when nothing else is working, do what you need to do to get your mind off the negative track and back into a more neutral one.

I remember reading a while ago, in the magazine I am trying justify, about Norris Church Mailer, wife of the more notorious Norman. She had been very ill and had undergone several surgeries, leaving her health tenuous and her body very thin. So thin, in fact, that she could wear couture, bought vintage at auction from the wives of New York's wealthy. Now that, I say, is making lemonade out of lemons! Why not find some enjoyment in life despite ailing health?

So, any enquiry of interest can calm the mind. Why not Vogue, why not fashion, why not pinup art or motorbikes for that matter?

Just as long as we bear in mind what Desikachar goes on to say in The Heart of Yoga:

But such enquiries should not replace the main goal, which remains to change our state of mind gradually from distraction to direction.

Bring on the mind candy!

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Democracy in Zimbabwe

I received this email from today. Some action is better than none!

Dear friends,

Zimbabwe is on a knife's edge between democracy and chaos. Results still have not been released from the 29 March elections--and fears are rising that Mugabe will resort to violence and fraud to hold on to power. South African president Thabo Mbeki said today that "it's time to wait"--but time has run out.

Observers, NGOs, and the opposition have appealed for international support. To respond, we're launching a new campaign to all Avaaz members throughout Africa. Click below to add your name to a petition calling for the results to be released, verified, and peacefully honored. We will send the petition to Mugabe's government, and to leaders and media organizations throughout Southern Africa and the world:

Every day brings new developments, and the more time passes, the greater the danger grows that the will of Zimbabwe's people will be ignored. The faster we can grow this petition, the more powerfully we can show that the people of Africa and the world are looking to Mugabe to honour the choice of Zimbabweans.

In a crisis like this, a petition is just a small step--but it's something all of us can do, to raise our voices and call for what's right. And as history shows, international solidarity can be a powerful thing.

With hope,

Ben, Graziela, Ricken, Galit, Paul, Iain, Pascal, Milena, and Esra'a--the team

PS: Here are some updates on the situation in Zimbabwe: PPS: A year ago, in one of the first Avaaz campaigns, we called together for Mugabe and his government to end their brutal attacks on opposition leaders. More than 45,000 people around the world took part. Now, there's a hope for much more substantial change--a new hope for the 12 million Zimbabweans struggling with hyperinflation, starvation, and HIV/AIDS. Please do sign the petition, and forward this email to friends and family--they can sign at

ABOUT AVAAZ is an independent, not-for-profit global campaigning organization that works to ensure that the views and values of the world's people inform global decision-making. (Avaaz means "voice" in many languages.) Avaaz receives no money from governments or corporations, and is staffed by a global team based in London, Rio de Janeiro, New York, Paris, Washington DC, and Geneva.

Don't forget to check out our Facebook and Myspace pages!

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Eating Real Good Food

I loved this piece from Holistic Girl. It reminds of what Mireille Guiliano says in her French Women books. Real food is better than that ghastly processed health 'food'.

And yes, good chocolate is a health food. I knew it!

Chocolate Stash, originally uploaded by anikarenina.

Check out this recipe for Chocolate Madeleines. J'adore toutes les choses Francais!

Take note: you can do yoga and live a pleasurable life. In fact, you should!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Good Necklace

I am tired of posting about my ailments! We may come back to them, we may not (and won't everyone be relieved if we don't?)

To enliven things around here, I have an interesting post originally published at Textiles and Bicycles, by the lovely Monica Bansal. She is a knitter, sewer, Iyengar yoga practitioner, and really passionate about doing what's right in the world. At some point, don't we as the yoga community (and indeed as humans) all need to think more about our influence on the world?

This is what Monica says in the intro to her blog:

Here I share my projects, thoughts, and rants on two of my greatest interests: art & craft and urbanism. Both are intertwined by underlying principles of environmentalism and respect for life–in all forms.

I knit and sew because it’s amazing. It’s fulfilling. It makes me a part of the group of people I respect the most: the artisan, the maker of the necessary.

I ride my bicycle everywhere because it’s fast, healthy, and it hurts no one (except possible me) by doing so.

I feel really strongly about these two aspects of my life because they carry with them ideas that have the potential to transform our culture with a real ethical shift: buy less and make more, drive less and bike (or walk) more, waste less and share more, sit less and move more, and this could go on (and will)….

I enjoy the rigour of her thinking and she gave me permission to share this with you:

I like the idea of seeing something in a catalogue and figuring out how to make it instead of buying the thing, which in this case is almost definitely made in China. The China thing is even more important to me these days as the Chinese government trashes the Dalai Lama. It seems shocking that this would be an advisable political move for them considering the worldwide, deserved adoration for him, but apparently invoking the strong nationalist identity of the Chinese is working among the domestic populace and they do in fact seem to agree with the government. That a group of people can be condemned for peaceful protest in the face of persistent human rights abuses against them is something I simply cannot understand.

Unfortunately as a normal American without much political power my identity is little more than consumer, so the power of the purse will be my vehicle for expressing myself.

I have never really made a “nice” necklace so this kind of proves it’s more possible for most (if not all) of us to substitute our ready-made purchases with home- and handmade stuff (not to mention I saved more than $50). And I learned from a coworker the other day that fabrics sold in the US are almost always made in the US because of tariff laws, which do not apply to ready-made clothing. I haven’t checked this statement out, but it sounds like I’ll be sewing a lot more than I have been.

The necklace in question? See it here.

Edited: The China/Dalai Lama issue? IF you feel strongly, add your name to the growing list of objectors here.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Today is OK

Change is scary. Big Change is Big Scary. I am very very tired right now, and I feel like a bad yogi. I am anything but calm and centered, and to add insult to...injury, I can't even really do asana since my back is in such a bad way. Sigh.

So I thought I would share words from those wiser than me today. This is from the lovely Stella at Shiny Yoga:

In my teacher training a few years back, my teacher shared with us a story about how another teacher she knew, who was a smoker. She told us about the struggle this teacher would have - espousing all healthiness and light and love to her students on the mat, but then she'd leave class and light up a cigarette and feel completely torn.

It brings up the question, how 'yogi' is 'yogi'? And truth be told, it's something I struggle with a lot - and I'm sure a lot of you do too. Case in point, I am currently on my first holiday in 2 years. Yes - 2 years! So of course I've got the flu as I'm run down, my depression has flared up as I've not been giving myself enough time and love, and I've had lots of injuries over the last 2 months. But I'm always sharing stories of rest and listening to your bodies when I'm leading a yoga class. So now - I'm a wee bit torn.

But I'm turning a new leaf and in the new year, my mantra is from the lovely and ever-inspiring Pema Chodron and it is to : Start Where You Are.

You can get bogged down in wishing your life was this way or another. You can look back at the end of the year and beat yourself up because your resolutions didn't occur. Or you can start where you are - take lessons from what you know, realise you did what you could, and dust off your battered heart, give it some love and begin again.

And now read this article from Be Three about swaha - so be it, or I offer it up. It's ok to be with the bad stuff, these wise people say - and the teachings do tell us that difficult feelings are not the cause of suffering, our aversion to them is. All the same, is it too much to ask that the difficult feelings go away for a while? Little trip to Hawai for them perhaps?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


The chiropractor has forbidden me to do anything except lie around with my legs raised and visit him, so I am flat on my back with laptop on lap. More on my injury and What I Have Learned at some future time, but for now, look what I found via YogaGumbo:

Humorous Pictures

I Duz Yoga Ta Relax

More at

Monday, March 17, 2008

Sore Back and a Someone

My body, mind and soul are not One at the moment. In fact, the derangement is so bad that I dropped my wallet in a shopping mall on Friday morning. Silly thing to do, especially in South Africa. As a result, I had to cancel all my appointments for the day, and rush back to the mall to see if I could find it (ha!) or failing that, cancel all my cards.

Do you know, an Anonymous Someone had found my wallet, and handed it to security. Untampered-with. In crime-ridden Johannesburg! Amazing. Thank you, Anonymous Someone. I wish I knew who you were, so I could thank you properly.

And my back hurts. Well, my sacro-iliac joint on the right side hurts, actually. Right about the same place as this elephant's muladhara (root) chakra:

Chakra 1 - Muladhara, originally uploaded by venenum..

Is this not an awesome picture? Anyway, I am off to the chiropractor tomorrow to be put to rights, but thought I would share with you what this article on has to say about root chakra deficiency (it's actually worth reading the whole article):

Circumstances that pull up our roots and cause a first chakra deficiency ... include traveling, relocation, feeling fearful, and big changes in our body, family, finances, and business. Some people, often those with busy minds and active imaginations, don't need special challenges to become deficient in this chakra; they feel ungrounded most of the time, living more in the head than in the body.

We experience deficiencies in this chakra as "survival crises." However mild or severe—whether you've been evicted, gone bankrupt, or just have the flu-these crises usually demand a lot of immediate attention. On the other hand, signs of excessiveness in the first chakra include greed, hoarding of possessions or money, or attempting to ground yourself by gaining a lot of excess weight.

Hmmm. Wonder why my back hurts? Good thing I know a little about how to go about correcting it. Yes, bring on the standing poses. And the standing balances: if you haven't already, check out the results of the balance pose poll here.

Monday, March 03, 2008

What's your favourite?

Ah, it seems there are some among us who like eagle pose (yes Shula, garudhasana!) The 'back breathers' among us,seem to have no problem compressing the front of their lungs, while those of use who only breathe into the front of our lungs, well, we like Other Poses more.

As the ever erudite Katnip says,
We can’t see the back of the body. Its harder to feel. Its like the dark side of the moon. Is it really there? From the symbolic perspective, its our shadow side. Kind of scary to breathe into the shadow side -huh?

Now I am really curious: since the March theme for WoYoPracMo is Grounding, standing balances seem rather appropriate. For me anyway. I know what my faves are, but what are yours?

To quote YogaMum:

For March, I invite you to think about the theme of "Grounding" and apply it to your yoga practice. In late winter, plants send down roots, to establish a deep foundation that will support blossoming and growth in the spring. We can do this kind of grounding in our yoga practices as well -- whether by concentrating on the rooting aspects of the physical asanas (working on the foundation of standing poses, for example) or by thinking about what we might need in our lives to "ground" and stabilize our practice. For myself, February was a bit of an unsettled month, and I look forward to spending some time reestablishing the roots of my practice.

I feel the same: this move to Melbourne has me feeling like the rug has been pulled out from under my feet. In a good way, but bumpy and unbalanced nonetheless.

I'm looking forward to the poll results - some ideas for my practice and teaching! As always, I love hearing what you think, most especially if you think differently to me: it reminds me why there are so many permutations of yoga - because everyone requires their own uniques solution!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Help me BREATHE!

I am having Some Trouble breathing right now. I mean, obviously I am breathing. I'm still alive. But I'm not breathing, y'know?

In class today, I asked people to choose three standing balances; two they liked, one they didn't. Everyone chose tree as one of the poses they like, everyone chose eagle as the one they don't like. Odd, don't you think? So I asked why they didn't like eagle. The responses were all along the lines of:
'I feel I can't breathe'

Haha! People have all figure out for themselves what I have noticed in my practice, and from what gets taught at KYM: some poses facilitate comfortable, easy breathing, some don't. I personally don't really see the point of regularly doing the poses that don't!

This does:

boof yoga tree pose bw, originally uploaded by lastbeats.

This does:

Debbie in Virabhadrasana III, originally uploaded by LORatliff.

This does:

Debbie in Half-Moon, originally uploaded by LORatliff.

This doesn't:

Tara in Garudasana, originally uploaded by LORatliff.

They make quite a nice sequence: do the first three as a flow, then rest, and do the last one. Try for yourself, let me know what you think! Just remember to do a few squats or gentle forward bends after the balances, to counterpose.

Now, perhaps I should go stand on one leg & breathe. Just Breathe, Nadine, Just Breathe!

PS: Thank you all for your comments and emails. You support means so much! I will do my best to keep up with my blogging, but if you notice my absence, bear with me while I dismantle my life and re-assemble it on the other side of the sea!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Moving to Melbourne!

That would be me, moving to Melbourne. At the end of April! Eek! How exciting! How scary!

1. The 'Yve' Building - Melbourne, 2. Webb Bridge - Melbourne Docklands, 3. Neon Lobby - Bourke Street Melbourne, 4. Brighton Beach, Melbourne 2003, 5. melbourne at night, 6. Melbourne Royal Botanic Gardens, 7. m-m-m-Melbourne, 8. Tram,Melbourne,Australia, 9. Rialto Towers, Winfield & Rialto Buildings - Melbourne, 10. Melbourne's elegant details..., 11. Melbourne & The Yarra River, 12. Ol' Melbourne Town

Why, you ask, would I do something so extreme? Well, the short answer is that I have lost faith. I have lost faith in the future in South Africa: every day the news tells us more horror stories of violence, crime, mayhem and corruption. The politicians I thought were trustworthy turn out to be just as bad as all the rest, and our infrastructure is crumbling. Worst of all, I have lost faith that my vote will actually make any difference to all of this.

I want to live somewhere with (fairly) honest politicians, where murder is not something that happened to your neighbor last week. I wish I felt able to be an activist about this, but I am honestly just spending all my energy trying to survive. Not the best situation, and hopefully, when I feel safer and more stable, I will be able to raise some awareness and get some action going about the sorry state of a nation that could have been something so much more; we have Nelson Mandela, for heaven's sake. Maybe this is the first step? If any of you international readers are interested, visit IOL to read our daily news.

And of course Melbourne is so beautiful! So to paraphrase The Avett Brothers' song, The Weight of Lies:

Wherever you run, make sure you run
To something and not away from
Because the weight of lies don't need an aeroplane to chase you down.

(I've been listening to that album a lot lately)

I am running (?) to something great, I hope. The truth is, we all want to believe in a better future, and for me, this is the only way. If you live in South Africa, the questions need asking: Are things OK? If not, am I willing to do something about it? I answered these questions for myself and discovered that I am in some ways less than I thought, and in other ways more.

So, onward, to something (and away from), at the end of April!
I will miss, most of all, the amazing yoga community I am leaving behind. Thank you all, so much. For all I have learnt, for everything.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Paris la Belle (and some good eatin')

It is really too late to post about my visit to Paris, since it was in September last year, but I am going to do it anyway, prompted by all the talk of eating properly in the new year, diets to get rid of festive flab, and the like.

Now, mostly I escape the festive fat, but then winter arrives and it gets harder to stay on the straight and narrow. My parents, both of whom have been slim all their lives, taught us very good, moderate eating habits. But for some reason I tend to stray from that path with alarming regularity. One of the reasons I came to yoga in the first place was that I had a great deal of weight to lose. I lost it. Then the extreme eating espoused during my teacher training left me more than a little confused, and over the past few years I have found it difficult to balance enjoyment, moderation and guiltlessness in my eating. So my weight tends to oscillate. Before our two-month world trip, my jeans were tight. By the end, they barely fastened.

Thank goodness Paris was the last stop. Had it been a less beautiful city, after two months, my overstimulated senses would just have shut down completely. And then there was the food. I think about the food in Paris a lot. Wistfully. Strangely, a lot of the people carrying baguettes under their arms (yes, gasp, white bread!) looked thin and healthy. How could this be? Well, a clue came when I overheard our hotel manager ordering his lunch: a tarte aux fruit rouges. And a salade. Aha! He was balancing the naughty pastry with the saintly salad. Clever. And just so you know, he breakfasted in the hotel dining room on pain au chocolat and coffee.

Somewhere in the dim recesses of my memory I remembered a book called French Women Don't Get Fat. Couldn't find it anywhere, but my favourite scond-hand bookstore did have a copy of the sequel, French Women for All Seasons. The author, Mireille Guiliano, is a Frenchwoman who struggled briefly with her weight when she move to the US. Returning to the eating principles of her youth sorted that out rather quickly!

She gives great advice, most of which is common sense, but we all need to be reminded. Well, I do anyway. Eat slowly. Savour your food. Stop when you are full. Eat the best you can afford. Carbs are not the enemy. Get a bit of exercise every day; she favours walking, cycling and, yes, yoga!

It was such a liberating read, lifting so much of the guilt I carry around food and eating. And since reading it, I have got rid of the extra eight kilograms I lugged around India and Europe. With no guilt, no hunger, and quite a lot of chocolate. The book is now with my best friend. I hope it does for her what it did for me!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day!

Someone left a lovely comment on the post I did for Valentine's Day last year, and when I read through it I was pleasantly surprised: it was coherent, no spelling mistakes or anything! Not like my recent posts at all....

So here it is, picked up and dusted off, straight from the archives to you.

Valentine's Day is a festival where people show their love for one another, and if you have time for yoga practice today, you might want to do some heart-opening back bends, opening to giving and receiving love.

How about a quick little sequence like this:

Dynamic Tadasana -
Stand in Tadasana. Become aware of your breath, of your heart beating, of your whole system working in unity.
When you are ready, inhale to raise your arms out to the sides and up, rising on to tiptoes, bring your palms to meet overhead. Exhale to bring hands to your sides and heels to the mat.
Repeat 6 times

Warrior 1/Warrior 2 Vinyasa -
Step your left foot forward, your right foot back, aligning the feet through the midline of the body if you can.
Inhale to come into Virabadrasana 1 (Warrior 1), exhale to straighten the front leg and draw your hands to your heart in namaste.
Then inhale to come into Virabadrasana 2 (Warrior 2), exhale to straighten the front leg and draw your hands to your heart in namaste.
Cycle through this vinyasa 6 times on each side.

Sun Salutes -
As many as you want, spend extra time in your lunges and upward dogs.

Then lie down in a comfortable supported backbend like Supta Baddha Konasana, sometimes known as Reclining Goddess Pose. In this position, let your breath become smooth and even, matching inhale to exhale. When you feel centred, and your breath feels steady and comfortable, imagine that you are sending love to those who need it with every exhalation, and receiving love with every inhalation. Notice who comes to mind when you think of giving love, and who comes to mind when you think of receiving love. Spend as long as you want with this imagery.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Seane Corn in South Africa

Seane Corn & me!, originally uploaded by Danura.

Seane Corn is coming to SA in March! (Seen in this pic with the lovely Danura at the Asia Yoga Conference last year.

Here is the schpiel:

Dates: 7-9 March 2008

A Vinyasa Flow Workshop

Workshop Theme
Using intuition, mysticism and the yogic journey to cultivate inner awareness and initiate global change.

In this Vinyasa flow workshop taught by one of America’s most sought after yoga teachers, we will explore the three realms of consciousness: the physical/ mental, the energetic/emotional and the psychic/symbolic. These three realms create a holistic pathway for Self-investigation - the key for personnel transcendence. In these three realms: asana, chakra exploration, meditation, reflection and prayer create a ritualistic journey initiating the mystical into to the practical - bonding body, mind and Spirit. Learn how Self-confidence is the necessary tool for intuitive work, how to use your body to create a cosmic relationship with Spirit, and how, through prayer, we can become of service to Spirit and to the world around us. The intention of this workshop is to reconnect to our bodies, gain emotional insight, explore our individual Soul’s purpose and cultivate skills - both physically and psychically - to Spiritually assist each other, our students, and the planet we inhabit. (It is recommended that those attending have at least 6 months yoga asana practice.)

About Seane Corn
Seane has been motivated by yoga and Spiritual self-reflection since the late eighties. Her style is evident in her unique self –expression, and as an inspired communicator, her vinyasa classes are an eclectic fusion of various healing and Spiritual modalities making them challenging, intuitive, insightful and uplifting. Selected by Nike to represent yoga she has been featured in commercials, print and various articles and been seen on the cover of numerous magazines including Yoga Journal and Fit Yoga. Seane has been invited by acclaimed author and Spiritualist Caroline Myss to be on her “Experts Forum” where she answers questions on spirituality and yoga. She also created the yoga program at Children of the Night, a shelter that houses and educates adolescent prostitutes and is an activist for YouthAIDS. Seane teaches group classes in Los Angeles and leads workshops and retreats internationally.

Workshop Session Times
7th Friday 18h00-21h00
8th Saturday 09h30-12h30 & 14h30-17h30
9th Sunday 09h30-12h30

The investment fee for those who register before the 22nd February is R 1200, thereafter R 1350. A 50% deposit is required to reserve a space in the workshop. Full refunds, less a R50 admin fee are given for cancellations prior to the 29th February. There after, for cancellations prior to the 7th March, 50% of the deposit will be returned; no refunds after the 7th March. Full payment is required prior to the commencement of the workshop.

To register for the workshop please complete a registration form and fax or email a copy of the form and deposit slip to the number/email address listed below. Banking details are included on the form.

Workshop Organiser
For any queries or a copy of the registration form please contact Ashleigh on the following:

Cell: 073 525-9610
Fax: 031 573-2287

Pay it Forward (and the circle of love)

At high school, the popular kids hung out by the entrance to the tuck shop. I was decidedly not one of them. I was so not one of them that I tended to avoid visiting the tuck shop altogether. I was happier down by the art classes with the geeks, losers, smokers, skaters and bikers. I have never smoked, but have certainly been classed as geek and loser, and dated my fair share of skaters, if not bikers!

So imagine my surprise when not one, but five, lovely bloggers named my blog as one of their faves! It just shows how far blogland is from high school, thank Gawd.

Julia, the stylish, cat loving, knitting yogini from Knitteroo said my blog made her day! Right back at ya, Miss Muffy!

Then four yoga gals offered me an excellent blog award, wow! Thank you, Brenda (Grounding Thru the Sit Bones), Yogamama, Linda (Linda's Yoga Journey), and Nona( Everyday Yogini)! I love all you blogs too, and yogamama, I am looking forward to getting to know yours!

So I thought I would pay it forward by naming my favourites other than the ones listed above, since there are soooo many great blogs that I read, and it is hard to pick just ten!

Here goes:
Creating Ms Perfect
Cupcakes & Yoga
Rand(Om) Bites
Shiny Yoga
Holistic Girl
YogaGumbo - by yogamum, creator of woyopracmo!

Some have already elected their top ten blogs, but for the rest, I am looking forward to finding great new blogs from your lists!

Thursday, February 07, 2008


I don't usually make political commentary, but I though I may as well join the blog-wide trend.

For those of you who don't know what is happening in South Africa, click here , here and here to get some idea.

Now for the rest of us:Edited: I have the feeling the other image danced too close to the edge of libel, so I have replaced it with something a little more innocuous!

Monday, February 04, 2008

Happy Hamstrings

That backbending post sparked some really interesting conversation and comments! Below is an abridged version of email correspondence between me and Laura of Yogachi. She is very knowledgeable about anamtomy and movement, intimidatingly so! You can learn more about her at her blogs - for yogis, and also one specially for teachers. Thanks for all the awesome advice, Laura!

This does get a little long winded, but it is really worth the read I promise!

Nadine, did you try the dandasana on a block pose? We need to chat -- one hamstring injury to another!

Ooh, tell me more....
Does dandasana on a block help build stability? My main problem is that my hips have become so flexible in the forward direction, that my sitbones tend to flick up and my lower back overarch, unless I am really concentrating on my alignment, and of course, I am not always, especially when demonstrating! I just want people to get the gist quickly, so bad. So the injury heals, it flares up, heals flares up. I will take any and all advice! It works best for me so far to do a lot of work on strength and stability in the hips - esp the hamstrings, loose bastards, so I do a lot of locust etc.

I would LOVE to hear your thoughts Laura!



Interestingly, our problems are similar, yet not. I have hamstrings
that are very tight (yogically speaking, that is. I went to a doctor
about my pull and he brought my leg easily to 90 degrees and
proclaimed me healed. He walked out before I even had a chance to say,
“uuhhh....”). The reason I ask is we can exchange notes. I can share what I have learned for my self and I would love to hear what you do.

Here is a list of what I do:

1. I learned how to hold the attachment of my hamstring. I contract
at the tendon right at the sit bone. I do that while lengthening
the rest of the hamstring. If you stand in Tadasana and
isometrically push one leg back, you can feel the necessary
contraction. (Sometimes I put a strap a the top of my thigh to
remind myself to contract.)
2. I do the dandasana I shared on my blog. REALLY helpful for
learning how to ground through the errant sit bone. Yes, I think
it does help build stability. As I mentioned in the post, you
feel the bones so you can tap into keeping them aligned. It
isn’t about the soft tissue anymore. You won’t flick the
sitbones either if you are in the bones.
3. I do seated forward fold with the extended leg heal up on a
block (and sitbones on a blanket). I can’t explain it, it just
4. I also ground well when I forward fold in seated positions to
not do what you mentioned doing in your email – flick those
babies up. Teaching is tricky. Not only do I do moves quickly, I
often exaggerate the movement so students can really see what I
am doing.
5. I also do LOTS of strengthening. I love bridge, too for
strengthening “that” area.

Okay, any ideas for me? Thanks for sharing!!

Have a spectacular evening.


Hey Laura!

You have pretty much covered all bases, I think. This is just about what
I do: I can elaborate a bit, but there is nothing you aren't doing, that
I know about! I really appreciate the reminder to be present even when
teaching, since this is my problemo...

The reason that propping your foot up on a block helps, is that it
'locks' the femur into the pelvis and prevents over-rotation. I didn't
figure this out for myself, read about it in Yoga for Wellness by Gary
Kraftsow! Funny, most of the time we are trying to get people to move
their pelvis around the thighbone more, not less.
As to strength: I also love bridge, moving dynamically in and out of it,
then holding the pose. I do the same with baby locust, lifting chest,
arms, head and alternate legs, in and out with the breath, then both
legs together.
I have found that getting stronger in my core - lower back and belly -
has helped a lot with the 'floppiness' so I also practice urdvha
prasarita padasana (leg lifts) every day.
Since I am tight in the front of my hips, I have found also that regular
and assiduous stretching of the hip flexors and quads helps balance the
hips - basically mine are overstretched and weak at the back and the
opposite at the front. My favourites for this are warrior 1, warrior 3
(also really good for contracting the hamstrings) and some pigeon
variations. Moving in and out of pigeon forward fold is another good
back strengthener, I find.

My last thing is this: it seems that the injury shows up in the
hamstring but sometimes comes from over stretching the entire hip area -
including aggressive hip openers, and if you do less of this, it helps.
I have found this for people whose knees trouble them too, actually!

I am reluctantly coming to the conclusion that most yogis spend too much
time on flexibility and not enough on strength...

Thanks for all the help!


Hi, Nadine.

Fabulous! Thanks for explaining why foot on a block works. I love knowing why I am doing something — especially the physiology behind it. Thank you for that info. (I was going to call it a “tidbit” but it is so much more for me.)

I was thinking about your comment about getting our students to move their pelvis around the thighbones more, not less. You know, as I understand it, the injury occurs over time because the femur is not rotating tight within the socket, being “locked” in, but protruding out ever so slightly to be out of alignment. Apparently, many Iyengar practitioners are suffering from hip joint problems. I think it has to do with exaggerating the movement and the femur coming out a bit. (Hence what you telling me makes perfect sense.) It was part of my problem too. I thought the pain was from stretching the scar tissue in my hamstring, but it was pain in my joint from using it incorrectly for years.

As for your hip flexor, also add releasing the psoas. Are you familiar with Liz Brock’s book, The Psoas Book? She also had an article in Yoga Journal a few years back that is available on the YJ website. The psoas needs releasing first before stretching and it can drastically shift your hip flexor tension. Strengthening it will also transform your Urdhva Prasarita Padasana. (Everyday? You are amazing!! And I am inspired...) I have a YJ article written by Richard Rosen on that pose in which he talks about the psoas too. It was written in 1995 so I would guess it didn’t make it to the website but you can check. It is excellent for describing how to use the psoas and not the abdominals for the lifts.

Do you move in and out of pigeon forward fold with your arms overhead? Or just with out using your arms? I am curious how to do it to use it for strengthening the back. I do Salabhasana (locust) with arms overhead. Wow is that one amazing! It really helps get into the lower trapezius.

Ooohh...I am just moving through your entire email and responding as I go and just got to the part about too many hip openers. That is what I was talking about with the hip injury! Another recommendation to help “bring in” the femur is to do a practice with a strap running through your mid hip — just across the top of the femurs — the greater trochanter. Use the strap to draw the femurs in (it is subtle. It is easy to contract in the buttocks, but the action is lower, at the top of the thighs.) This action is especially important for seated forward folds and standing poses like Parsvottanasana and Parivrtta Trikonasana. And, yes, the issue affects the knee as well.

Peace and miracles of the hip joint...


And to finish, this comment which Kathy of KnittingSutra (great name huh?) left on the original post:

Due to injuries I wasn't able to do forward bends for over a year. I feel your pain. In the beginning it really bugged me, but then you learn how to be real creative with your practice. You then begin to realize that yoga is real flexible, but I was the one with the rigid mind.

Food for thought!