Body and Soul Yoga



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All about the shopping ....

Posted on October 31, 2015 at 2:50 PM Comments comments (17)

I loved International Yoga Day this summer at Alexandra Palace. With a whole day of yoga led by greats like David Sye, Robert Milletti and Leah Bracknell what’s not to like. But, if I’m honest – and in the spirit of Satya (one of the Yamas as defined by Patanjali) I have to be honest – I missed the shopping that comes with the main event in October.

I have no trouble resisting designer shoes or handbags but one whiff of yoga goodies and I turn into Carrie Bradshaw of Sex in the City fame. So it was with eager anticipation and a bulging purse that I made my way to Alexandra Palace, which was the new location this year for the annual London Om Yoga Show. I wasn’t disappointed. The show this year was bigger and better than ever. My only problem was that I kept getting lost and realised eventually that if I didn’t buy things when I first saw them I might never get back to the same stall again! That was even after two whole days at the show.

Top marks for the friendliest retailer has to go to Saz from Yoga United. He always gives me a friendly smile and actually remembers me from one year to the next. Over the years I’ve bought a 6mm aubergine mat which provides much needed extra padding for my dodgy knees and bags; an elephant decorated mat bag (roomy enough for extra stuff like a blanket and blocks and various other yoga essentials. This year it was a sticky travel mat that caught my eye. Finally a mat I can squeeze into my bag even on a bargain “hand luggage” only flight. It is also ideal to take to the gym to cover their mats and much better than the cloth “over mats” a lot of people use as it is a sticky version. At £12 was a good price too so I snapped it up. I recommend Yoga United for all your yoga needs – their online service is also very good. I bought a bolster from them earlier in the year and it arrived quickly and in perfect condition. Check out their website for yourself.

Continuing with the mat theme, I finally tracked down a mat cleaner to provide my trustee yoga friend with a much needed spruce up. Containing essential oils including Energising Ginger the small aerosol spray is proving its worth. At just £4 it was also good value. I recommend you give it a go.

I couldn’t resist the Magic Yoga Dot. I’m not sure about its “magical” properties but the dot (it’s actually a chunky circular shaped block) has proved surprisingly comfortable to sit on. I sit on the dot in a half kneeling pose as preparation for Hero. You can do this while relaxing and watching TV. It’s brilliant for the digestion and posture as well as being much better than crashing out on the sofa at night. Apparently the dot has many other uses including helping you get into the splits but I haven’t tried it yet!

I always renew my subscription to Om Yoga Magazine at the Yoga Show. The subscription is amazing value at £27.50 for 10 issues (a saving of £15 on the bookstall price) and subscribing at the show entitles you to a bag with all sorts of yoga goodies inside. I got two books (10 Day Green Smoothie Cleanse and an inspirational book “Treasure Yourself” by Miranda Kerr), a DVD which promises to slim my butt (well, I certainly need some help in that area!), a 1kg pack of Epsom Salts, a bottle of designer water, two cartons of drinks, drinking chocolate and sticky yoga socks with open toes. Phew! My only problem was carrying that lot home on the train.

A chat with the friendly and very approachable editor of Om Yoga (Martin Clark) convinced me to buy his recently published book “How to be a Yoga Rockstar”. Filled with practical and inspirational ideas of how to take your yoga journey to the next stage, it is an interesting read for anyone serious about yoga whether they want to earn their living from yoga or not. The book is £16 on Amazon but it was only £10 at the Yoga Show and I got a packet of herbal tea and some yummy pure chocolate thrown in. Wow! Interestingly, I discovered that Martin comes Romford and knows Raphael Park and the bandstand well.

With food samples everywhere at the show I was easily persuaded to fill up my cupboards with Chia seeds (a superfood supplying all sorts of health benefits). I’m looking forward to sprinkling the tasty and nutritious seeds on my yoghurt and cereals. A large packet set me back £8 but that is very reasonable considering the price in Holland and Barrett is much more.

My favourite purchase has to be the Tibetan chimes. I’ve been looking for something like this to start and end my yoga classes. These have the perfect sound with the chime resonating for several seconds. I’m really looking forward to using them in classes and I may even give them a go with my ESOL students. They cost £15 which I thought was a good deal especially as they also gave me a lovely bag to keep them in.

Although I staggered home with more shopping than I could comfortably carry I’m very pleased with my purchases. I will definitely use everything I bought and I’m looking forward to next year’s Yoga Show for another dose of retail therapy.


Laughter Yoga

Posted on October 10, 2015 at 2:20 PM Comments comments (620)

I love yoga in almost all its forms – even those I can’t do – but Laughter Yoga is one aspect I’ve never been much interested in. I’ve experienced it a few times, but usually only as a small part of the class and it’s always struck me as forced and gimmicky. I put it in much the same box as Dog Yoga and Surfboard Yoga as “yogas” I’m unlikely to be taking part in myself. It takes a lot to make me laugh out loud. I would be pretty useless in one of those comedy audiences where they need everyone laughing uproariously. A discreet and dignified chuckle is usually the best I can manage.

So it was with a large dose of cynicism that I found myself researching Laughter Yoga for a Carer’s Session at HAD (a local community centre for people with disabilities). Apparently Laughter Yoga was what they wanted so Laughter Yoga was what they were going to get.

Naturally Google was my first point of call and I quickly discovered with accompanying photos of happy, laughing people who meet regularly all over the world to share laughter sessions. Apparently it all began in the early 90s when Dr Madan Kataria noticed growing scientific evidence that laughter is beneficial to both mental and physical health. He started a Laughter Club with just five people in a Mumbai public park. The numbers grew quickly to more than 50 and a good time was had by all mostly, I gather, sharing jokes and funny stories.

The problem with jokes, of course, is that what is funny to one person isn’t to another. In fact, there was a risk of some people being offended by the material used. It was at this point that Dr Kataria wondered if laughter could be produced artificially. He discovered that the body can’t tell the difference between real and pretend laughter – the same happy chemistry results from both. And best of all, pretend laughter eventually transforms into genuine laughter anyway – with no jokes necessary.

The Laughter Yoga website contains basic exercises to start off with. I incorporated these with the Pranayama techniques learnt on my teacher training courses at Yoga Professionals and Dru Yoga. I also added some of the “sillier” asanas like Lion. Once you’ve got a group sticking their tongue out at each other, a few rounds of pretend laughter doesn’t seem so silly.

The website also has a “Find your LQ (Laughter Quotient)” test to get you thinking. Despite my cynicism I scored over 78 which means I’m good at laughing but could do better. The questions have a serious side to get people thinking about their general attitude to life. None of the participants in my workshop have had easy lives and some carry very heavy burdens caring for loved ones with very serious disabilities. Others have lost family members suddenly and tragically. I was very conscious of my responsibility to their emotional and physical wellbeing. One lady was in a wheelchair and others clearly had health and mobility difficulties. Although I encouraged everyone who could to get up and moving I planned for the session to start and ended in chairs. I kept the initial discussion brief and moved quickly onto the Pawanmuktasana series of movements to warm up, gradually intensifying the mood to a point where everyone was comfortable Ha, Ha, Ha-ing and Ho, Ho, Ho-ing moving their hands from their chest to their belly. It was a bit like an out of season group audition for Shopping Centre Santa Clauses!

Having enjoyed the release of a good belly laugh with Manipura Chakra well and truly activated I took care to gradually bring the group down to earth. Holding on to the happy feeling I led them through a seated yoga nidra. The whole session lasted 90 minutes with everyone keen for a return workshop sometime soon.

I’d thoroughly recommend Laughter Yoga now. We all really did feel good afterwards and it was much easier than I thought to do. If you get a chance, why not give it a go? You’ve got nothing to lose other than a bit of dignity!

For more information check out


Moving indoors

Posted on September 26, 2015 at 12:20 AM Comments comments (342)

Feeling fantastic having taught two whole classes indoors at my new venue in Hornchurch.  My first fear was that no-one would come, my second was that I wouldn't be able to open the door and we'd end up doing yoga in the car park!  When I arrived my third fear was that too many people had turned up and I was about to be yoga mobbed.  Somehow the normally empty HAD carpark was full of cars coming and going.  Fortunately they were for the chippie across the road and the cars came and went quickly so parking wasn't a problem for my yogis at they arrived.

I got through the door OK and Brian, my other half, was on hand anyway to help.  We decided it might be good for him to come along every week to help move tables and chairs etc.  With ten in the group the first week we needed the space.  The room at HAD is a nice size and shape but it's not enormous and I will have to limit numbers.  I've estimated that twelve would be the absolute limit.  I don't want to squash people in and, as long as people pay in advance for the course there's no reason not to limit numbers.  That way everyone gets a fair deal and good value for money.

I admit to being nervous but everyone was lovely.  I am so blessed with such lovely participants.  Not everyone wanted to book for the course which is understandable with timings, families and travel to consider.  I will allow dropins at a higher price if there's space but it's better for everyone to go for the course if they can.  With the rent paid from the first night I'm looking forward to relaxing and really getting to know the students that I've got.

Yoga journey - here I come .....

Please let me know if you're reading this.  What do you want from the course?  These early sessions are based on the chakras starting at the base with mooladhara and moving upwards week by week.  In this way, I'm hoping people will get more from my classes than they ever could from a gym class while still enjoying all the stretching and relaxing benefits of a regular class.  At the end of last week's class I gave out a chakra sheet for a colouring meditation - something to do this week (25th September) which I'm taking off for my wedding anniversary (33 years today !!!)

Happy colouring and please let me see the results next week .....


What are your thoughts on the course so far?

What do you like best / least?

What would you like for the next theme?

Looking forward to hearing from students and blog readers.

The end or the beginning of a journey?

Posted on September 8, 2015 at 11:15 AM Comments comments (22)

This Sunday (8th September) marked the official end of Body and Soul Charity classes in Raphael Park, at least for the summer. It really has been a wonderful 12 weeks and I’ve been so lucky to be joined in the Bandstand by lots of wonderful yogis. Several have actually been yoga teachers themselves and this Sunday, Rachel, who I met on the Dru course in London came along to lead the activation/warm up section. It was lovely to enjoy being a participant for a change and also to experience Rachel’s interpretation of Dru. One of the wonderful things about Dru is that it allows (and positively encourages) every teacher to express themselves while providing a model and tradition to structure their teaching around – so while the benefits of Dru yoga underpin every session no two teachers are exactly alike.

I’d promised Goody Bags to all participants but I was a little worried I wouldn’t have enough. Amazingly I had ten bags and ten participants – just the right number. Despite the posters, social media and newsletters I’d scattered around it was my regulars who came – which was actually lovely in itself. As a teacher I was able to relax knowing my students and what they needed rather than having to assess new people and worry about their needs.

I’ve tried to keep the yoga itself simple over these weeks – blending Dru sequences and techniques with classic Hatha. For the final week I decided to use three Salutation sequences: Earth, Sun and Moon as well as the Flowing Tree. I wouldn’t usually do this in a yoga class (especially in just an hour) but I think it worked on Sunday and gave everyone a taste of each Salutation. Being outside in nature it seemed particularly appropriate to honour these three aspects of our world and minutes into Surya (Sun) Namaskar the sun rose into the sky and bathed our lovely bandstand in sunlight.

A few of us wandered over to Raphaels Restaurant afterwards for coffee which was an opportunity for a proper chat and get to know each other time. Michelle from First Step also joined us and added her thanks for the donations which have now topped £400 (well over my original £300 target).

When something ends, the question always is what next? The bandstand classes have been wonderful experience for me and I'm very proud of the money raised in aid of First Step.  However, my Friday evening class is due to start this week at HAD in Hornchurch and I'm already busy planning the class and themes.  I’m really looking forward to having a permanent location and class. Several of my bandstand students are coming as well as others who maybe felt less enthusiastic about doing yoga outside and in public! The room is a small one but should take a reasonable number of people.

Come along and join us on Friday evening in Hornchurch. Or keep reading my blog to find out what happens next .....

I will be doing classes in the bandstand over the autumn and winter but they will be stand alone sessions rather than a weekly event. At the moment, there are no dates but keep checking the website for details. I promise yoga outdoors is even better in winter – wear the right clothes and what’s to stop you?


Strawberries in the Bandstand

Posted on September 8, 2015 at 11:15 AM Comments comments (22)

I arrived in the bandstand for the penultimate session to find strawberries strewn everywhere. It could have been something worse so I couldn’t complain and fortunately I had my broom with me. However, with strawberries ground into the concrete it was difficult to clear completely. These are some of the “problems” doing yoga in a public place. I find myself wishing I could lock the bandstand and keep it all for myself and fellow yogis, clean and ready for our Sunday sessions. Yet another part of me thinks that wouldn’t be right. What attracted me to the bandstand originally was it’s open access.

The strawberries certainly didn’t stop us. The bandstand has been a brilliant location for our yoga sessions and even kept us dry on the rainy days. It’s a shame that some people want to spoil things that have been made nice for them. I don’t know, but I’m pretty sure more strawberries were squashed and wasted than eaten in the bandstand. The sign I left to promote the classes has been pulled down (a fate suffered by other notices put up by the council apparently) and the walls are gradually acquiring graffiti and not in a positive, Banksy kind of way.

The session, however, was lovely and the park, as always, was stunning. With only one week left my classes will be heading indoors soon for the winter. As a teacher I’m looking forward to practising in a more controllable environment but I realise that much will be lost too.


A smaller group this week - 16th August

Posted on August 16, 2015 at 8:25 PM Comments comments (0)

As August gets established numbers have dropped slightly.  This week there were just three of us to start with in the bandstand.  Then Carol passed by and joined us.  It's the second week a passer by has joined in and really lovely that they spare the time to stay around and do a complete session.  Imagine going for a walk in the park and ending up taking part in an entire yoga class!  Along with the different weather we've experienced, changes in numbers and participants have been the challenge and the joy of bandstand classes.  Inside in controlled conditions you may not be aware of the weather at all but outside my teaching has to adapt to whatever is going on around us.  I think it keeps the class "real" and connected to changing conditions around us which is what we have to do in our personal lives.

The other joy of these classes has to be the people I've met.  For me it is the joy of teaching generally.  Whatever challenges are thrown at me I never fail to be amazed and blessed by the lovely people who come to my classes - whether that has been Basic IT, Basic Skills (Literacy/Numeracy), Job Hunting Skills, ESOL and now Yoga - with very few exceptions (and I'm sure those few had their own reasons for being "difficult" and actually taught me so much I should be grateful for them too) all my students have been wonderful.  This has been even more so with yoga in the bandstand.  Large classes create their own energy but small groups are more focused and, as a teacher, it is nice to concentrate on each person more closely.  In some ways this is a challenge in itself.  However, today was lovely with first of all my two lovely ladies who have both become regulars in the bandstand.  Meeting Carol was also wonderful and I hope that she will continue coming.

I'm really excited about my Friday evening class starting in September.  I have a lovely location in Hornchurch lined up (subject to final agreements) with it's own car park and a light, airy room which is not too large so a small group can feel comfortable without getting lost in a big, draughty space.  More details will follow on the website but I only need six people to pay in advance for it to go ahead.  There will be big discounts for block bookings and the prices will be very affordable as I am looking to cover my costs (not to make a personal fortune).

Why charge?

Posted on August 14, 2015 at 6:30 PM Comments comments (18)

When I graduated with a Dru Teaching Diploma in January my next step was to start teaching. The problem was who to teach and where. During term time it proved to be impossible – my plan to teach other teachers at the college where I work (my “real” job is teaching ESOL to adults in Ilford) never happened because no-one, myself included, had enough time. There was plenty of enthusiasm and good intentions but quite honestly, with OFSTED breathing down our necks, we were all too knackered to make time.

However, the Bandstand at Raphael Park on Sunday mornings has turned out to be a winner. The Bandstand is a perfect location and Sunday mornings work for me, especially during the summer when I don’t have ESOL classes to plan. My first instinct was to do the classes for nothing. I’m just grateful if people can spare time to join me and although the extra income would be nice – did I mention I don’t get paid in the summer months? – the thought of setting up a proper business and the admin nightmares that go with it isn’t something I’m ready for yet.

But mindful of my yoga teachings stopped me. Free classes might sound like a win/win no-brainer but could there be karmic repercussions? Yoga isn’t just an exercise, it’s a way of life and the reason I decided to call my “business” Body and Soul Yoga. Yoga is wonderful for the body but the soul aspect is much more important. We are, as I’ve got on my homepage, souls with bodies, rather than bodies with souls.

I decided to look at the Yamas and Niyamas which form the first and second limbs of the eight limbs of yoga. The Yamas are guidelines for ethical standards and moral restraints listed by Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras. The Niyamas are observances and disciplines. Both the Yamas and the Niyamas are divided into five different sections. To put it simply in terms of Western culture there are parallels with the Ten Commandments so, in fact, they are not as complicated or confusing as they sound. So how do they fit in with my decision not to make the classes free?


The first of the Yamas is Ahimsa – non-violence, non-injury: consideration and compassion for all living beings including yourself. Gandhi is particularly well known for this Yama but Ahimsa is not just about non-violence. It needs to be interpreted more widely than that. A free class would be great for the participants but what if it stopped them from paying another yoga teacher? That teacher might be relying on her classes for an income and my free classes would harm his or her business. And what about myself? Giving my services, which I have trained and studied hard for, free would be not considering my own value. If we do not value ourselves how can we expect others to? I have practised yoga for many, many years (40 years in fact!), paid for gym membership and additional yoga classes, completed the British Wheel Foundation Course and then teacher training at Yoga Professionals and Dru Yoga. I pay for insurance and membership of both the British Wheel and Dru Professional Network. I spend many hours planning and promoting my classes. Surely all this must have a value and to give it away free would be under-valuing my own worth as a qualified teacher.

Having considered all this (yes I spent many hours awake at night struggling with the Yoga Sutras and the Bhagavad Gita to get to these conclusions) I decided that I should charge but that the money should go to charity. So which charity to choose ...



I decided on First Step Opportunity Group. This is where the second of the Yamas, Satya: truthfulness, non-telling of lies: living with honesty in behaviour, thought and intention, comes into play. The fact is that First Step is a brilliant charity. It is local and small so I feel that the money won’t get lost within some giant and complex organisation. It helps normal, everyday families cope when they have a disabled child to care for. As a mother myself I can only begin to imagine how difficult it must be to accept the extra challenges a child with disabilities bring. I have a friend who has struggled all her severely autistic son’s life to get the support and help that he needs. Without organisations like First Step I know her life and many others would have been even more difficult. So yes, I do feel that First Step is a worthy charity for me to help but truthfully helping them is a win/win for me. They very kindly helped me with the legal aspects explaining how to set up my Just Giving site, pointing out the finer points of my risk assessment (I thought about people maybe slipping on the steps but forgot that collecting money in the park could put me at personal risk (Adhimsa again). By choosing First Step I was assured that everything put in place was done correctly and quite honestly (Satya) that’s very important to me. I like to do things properly, legally and safely. First Step helped me with all that.


Asteya is third of the Yamas – no stealing, no jealousy; cultivating a less materialistic view. Stop desiring what we may not have. So how does that fit in with my classes? For me to give classes free would be, in a sense, to “steal” from other teachers who need to charge. But what if people come and don’t pay ie donate to the charity? This is something I have very little control over. It really has to be up to their conscience. At the end of the day, it’s their karma and not mine. However, I believe I should do my best to explain why donating is so important and make it as easy as possible for them to donate. If I do the classes free I’m stealing from other teachers, if people accept the classes free they are actually stealing from First Step and also from me because they are not valuing my worth. The classes are not “free” I am simply asking participants to donate my fee to First Step on my behalf.


This is moderation, chasitity; non indulgence of the senses. Not using sexuality and flirtatiousness for self reward, ego and/or gain. This is less easy to see in the context of my classes. However, accepting a free class might involve indulgence of the senses. For me to have lots of learners will certainly flatter my ego (teachers have a lot of ego, believe me!) but if they’re not paying then really it’s just self indulgence for me.


This is the final Yama and concerns non attachment, non accepting of gifts; judge your success by who you are, not by what you have. Appreciate all that you have such as health, happiness, family, time, love etc. I am fortunate to have time to give on Sundays (especially, as I said, during the holidays). I appreciate all those who join me on Sundays and spare their time. I know that we are all busy people and it is difficult to take even an hour or two out of our hectic routines.

So how can participants make their donations? For legal and safety reasons I am not allowed to accept money. There might also be moral implications – if I take money could I be accused of keeping any for myself? First Step advised using the Just Giving website. Unfortunately, it seems to suggest very large donations by default. There’s nothing I can do about this and I think it’s very wrong that they set it up like that. I want to make it clear I don’t expect large donations. Initially I suggested £5 a class because that’s average at the lowest end of commercial classes. £3 could be more realistic (after all we’re in the park and I don’t have the overheads hiring a hall involves). £2 is the lowest amount JustGiving accepts but that’s fine by me. The amount of the donation is entirely up to individuals and they should give whatever they feel the class is worth and they can afford.

Texting might be easier for some and should only take a second. You don’t need to give card details – it goes on your mobile provider bill. The Just Giving site is actually very easy once your card details have been recorded. Really just clicking a button once a week.

Should it be weekly? I think it should. I want payments to mirror real classes as much as possible. In September I may start to charge and then I will ask money in advance (for a discount) or weekly. Payment at the end of courses isn’t usually acceptable so I don’t think it’s a good idea in this case either.

I hope no-one is put off or offended by this article. I really wanted to explain my thinking regarding donations. Thanks to everyone who has donated so far – 31 of you have (many of you have been donating weekly and very generously) and I am extremely grateful. It looks like I’ll easily reach my £300 target. In addition, it’s boosted by the tax reclaim option. By agreeing for the tax to be reclaimed, tax payers actually donate an additional 28p for each £1 at no cost to themselves whatsoever!

Does it matter how much each person donates? Of course not! Every donation is important and helps First Step. Some people might be able to spare more than others but that doesn’t make their donation any more worthy. Being grateful for what you have (Aparigraha) comes into play here. There’s no need for the amount to appear on the website (although it can be displayed if you want). Personally, I’d prefer people to hide the amount however much or little they give but type in their name or initial – just so that it’s clear that everyone is contributing but there are no judgements on how much.

Remember, yoga is non-competitive and it is for the Soul as much as the Body.

With grateful thanks for all donations to First Step.


OR Text YOGA85 £__ to 70070



Sunshine on the Rockery 9th August

Posted on August 14, 2015 at 5:55 PM Comments comments (25)

Being outside really gets you in tune with the weather.  And of course English weather is anything but boring!  Having sheltered just last week in the bandstand while it rained all around us - this week dawned sunny and bright.  My concern now was possible heat stroke.  In the bandstand that would have been fine but I'd decided to venture out and try our luck on the rockery.  Fortunately, everyone agreed it was a good idea and the "noisiest tree in the world" was there to provide shade for those who wanted it.  The good thing about the rockery is the mix of sun and shade to keep just about everyone happy - and where-ever you are there's the stunning view of the lake.  What more could you ask for?  Why is it a "noisy tree"?  Well, this is where every year for the past half century Shakespeare in the Park has been performed.  My son, Mark Griffiths, is one of the actors (recently, that is, not for the whole 50 years) and apparently they've sound checked the tree and it really is extra "noisy".  As with yoga, performing Shakespeare outdoors also has its problems.

The group was slightly smaller than recently, down to the August effect I'm guessing with holidays in foreign locations proving slightly more attractive even than yoga in Raphael Park - but I now have a group of trusty regulars which is lovely because I can plan the class around the participants.  Maureen and Maddie from HAD came along this week and also Linda (a yoga teacher) who was passing and asked to join in.  Meeting so many different people and sharing yoga with them has definitely been one of the joys of running this class.

I had a private yoga party at home in the afternoon with girls from 18+.  Admittedly we now have quite a few plusses to add to the 18 but despite being closer to Saga age than 18-30s they were all brilliant.  If anyone else would like me to run a yoga party for them I'd be happy to do so.  I think it made for an entertaining and different afternoon. The men went to the pub but next time maybe I'll get them to join in too.

This really has been a wonderful summer for me.  Body and Soul Yoga has reached its target for First Step (£300 and rising).  Hopefully, I will raise even more over the next four weeks.  I've had loads of fantastic teaching experience from one to one Restorative Yoga, a Yoga party to big groups in the bandstand and the rockery.  Thanks too to the wonderful people at HASWA - you are my dream students every one of you.  I can't believe how quickly 90 minute classes go there.  Every second of teaching is pure joy!

I've exciting plans now for a 90 minute class on Friday evenings starting in September.  The classes will be indoors and the price with be affordable with discounts for block booking.  Keep reading my website for more details.  I need at least four people interested to go ahead with it.

Sunday 26th July in the rain

Posted on July 30, 2015 at 9:05 AM Comments comments (28)

30th July 2015

After the walking meditation last week I was hoping to move out of the Bandstand and take full advantage of the summer sunshine in the beautiful surroundings of the Garden Theatre. Unfortunately heavy rain was forecast and as Sunday dawned it was obviously going to be a wet one. Hey ho! With the bandstand to shelter us at least I don’t have to cancel classes just because of a bit of inclement weather. Wonderfully, eleven hardy yogis turned up to enjoy the class. The bandstand kept us dry and reasonably warm although I was glad I warned people to dress appropriately. The temperature has certainly dropped dramatically and it’s a bit of a shock now we’re used to “normal” July conditions and wearing skimpy summer clothes. Thanks to all who turned up, including Paula and her two lovely twin nieces. They are both brilliant yogis and showed me up, even slipping perfectly into the lotus posture. Oh to be eight again!

There’s no class next week because I’m doing CPD at the YMCA for ante and post natal yoga. I don’t have any plans at the moment to teach pregnancy yoga but I want to be sure that pregnant and new mums can be integrated safely into my classes.

Looking forward to seeing everyone back in the bandstand on the 9th August. I’m hosting a private yoga party at my house in the afternoon and then covering classes at HASWA on the Monday and Wednesday mornings. I’ve got plenty to do studying the YMCA handbook and planning classes – definitely no holiday for me but very enjoyable all the same. I am learning so much and am incredibly grateful to everyone who allows me the privilege of sharing yoga with them. Thanks too to Geraldine who is officially my first private one-to-one student. We enjoyed a lovely 90 minutes of yoga together and you can read her very kind comments on my Testimonial page.

Don’t forget donations to First Step. I’ve nearly reached my £300 target so thanks to all who’ve helped with that. If you’d like me to run a class for your club, office or just for a group of friends (a yoga party maybe?) please let me know. Everything I do this summer is on a donations only basis and it will all help First Step to support local families with children who have disabilities.


Yoga Equipment

Posted on July 24, 2015 at 1:15 PM Comments comments (22)

This article is written mindful of the Yamas which form the first limb of the eight limbs of yoga (Astanga yoga) as found in Chapter 2 of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. The guidelines are subdivided into five different sections but the ones that concern this article are: Asteya – not desiring what we may not have (a Sweaty Betty vest top maybe); Brahmacharya – moderation, non-indulgence of the senses (do I really need a £100 Bodyform yoga mat or will the Primark one do?) and Aparigraha – non-attachment, judge success by who you are rather than what you have (does an elephant decorated yoga bag make me a better yogi than someone with a Primark elastic strap?). I leave the answers for you to consider...

So what do you need to do yoga? Answer: comfortable clothes you can move in and, possibly, a yoga mat. If you’re coming to my Body and Soul classes in the Bandstand on Sunday mornings you will need to wear layers that you can take off as your body heat builds up and put on again as it subsides (particularly for savasana/relaxation at the end). You will also need to bring your own yoga mat. Everything else is optional.

Great news! I found out today that Primark is selling a basic yoga mat for just £2. That’s even cheaper than the listed price of £5. You can buy it in any colour, as long as you it’s pale green. It comes with its own carrying strap and it’s perfect to use in the Bandstand.

Even better, they are also selling a sticky towel (good for hot yoga) at £3, blocks for £1 each and workout clothes are also extremely reasonable at the moment.

If you want something better go to Asda where you can get a sticky mat for £5 (again in any colour you like, as long as it’s pink – yeah I can see the men may have a problem with that!).

I also recommend “Now”, a small, independent clothes shop in Romford next to M&S for cheap leggings, vest tops and layers. They are selling vest tops at the moment for just £1.

For an online yoga supplier go to Their yoga bags are excellent value and great for carrying mats and blocks around. I also recommend the bolsters for restorative yoga and savasana.

If you’re ready for some serious yoga retail therapy don’t miss the annual Om Yoga Show which is being held at Alexandra Palace this year from 23rd to 25th October. Details on their website:

See you there!