From Suffering to Bliss – a yoga journey for self-healing

When I notice I am suffering or struggling, I check in to see what is happening, what I am not getting or what wants to change.

How are you with change and uncertainly?

For many years I resisted and resented undesired change. It was painful and not something I had planned. I did all I could to avoid it! I would get busy, grumpy, or resentful. So many more important things to do!  Or times there were long periods in inertia, resentment and feeling trapped. All completely subconscious.

Finding yoga and spiritual development gave me the tools to reflect and broaden my understanding. I came to understand that there was something bigger at play. My ego is not in control. The pain drove me to change. The result exactly what I needed.  The pain led to change. I was being guided to a better place.

The act of regularly showing up on the mat is a huge opportunity to be present with what is, to feel those things that are so easy to avoid. I found yoga postures a way into reflective practices. They also gave me time to get to know my body, and feel! Some tightness wouldn’t shift no matter how many classes I did. It was in healing and personal development that they moved. I was then able to explore and access deeper wisdom in the yoga classes.

I studied a whole lot and understood at a cognitive level. Over time I was really able to understand. This was when I felt the knowing and understanding physically and at a more subtle, energetic level.

Now I feel and know with my physical body and beyond that change and the suffering it often brings are the one certainty in life! It is not wrong or a punishment, rather a catalyst to take us to a new, more evolved place. The idea is to move through the suffering rather than get stuck. Now it’s not easy or quick but the reality of life.

Life continues to bring me opportunities to leap forward and I find the support and connection of my practice means the process is easier and quicker. And I still notice sub-conscious activities taking me the scenic route! Ultimately it will take as long as is needed.

Yoga for change and reducing suffering

Are you ready for change? Looking for support navigating change? Trying to understand and make sense of uncertainty.

Email me to book a free 20 minute consultation to see how working together can support you.

The most effective YOGA pose for fatigue, stress & reducing pain

When I am in the midst of admin or had a long day I so need to do this pose and want to share with you. I find a few minutes a day is life changing ! What are the triggers or times when you really need a quick pick me up? This one pose can:

  • Energy levels increase
  • Calmness develops
  • Digestion improves
  • Immune system is supported
  • Clarity and decision making become easier
  • Pain is often reduced or eliminated
  • Relaxation replaces tensions throughout the body
  • Breath settles supporting all body systems
  • Creates a sense of well-being

Drum roll…. Ta dah! The most effective YOGA pose for fatigue, stress & reducing pain is a modified savasana – semi supine – lying with knees bent and feet on the floor!

The most effective YOGA pose for fatigue, stress & reducing pain - semi-supine savasana - calm - relax - flexibility - core strengthTips:

  • If you are not comfortable getting up/down from the floor, practice on your bed or in a chair.
  • If it is more comfortable lie on your side and experiment with a cushion between your knees – in 2nd or 3rd trimester of pregnancy lie on left side.
  • Place a small book or cushion under your head to lengthen the back of the neck. You want the ear to be parallel to the floor.

Frequency:

Regular practice results gives fastest results. Your body will associate this pose with all the positive benefits.

  • Start with 3-5 minutes once a day
  • Build to 5 minutes twice a day
  • Longer if experiencing fatigue, anxiety, aches and pains, try 20 minutes 2 or 3 times daily.

What to do/think about:

  • Stay present and awake if possible
  • Notice – without judgement
  • What sensations are in your body?
  • How is your breath?
  • Where does your mind want to go?

The practice will be just as it is meant to be:

  • You may notice nothing or many things
  • There may be resistance
  • You may want to zone out or sleep
  • Keep returning to the ‘now’ your body on the mat

The more you return to the present moment the deeper the practice. It’s about being real with whatever shows up. I would love to hear how you get on please contact me.

 

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Creating your own sanctuary

Whatever your home situation you can create an area dedicated to reflection and rest. For quiet time away from the turmoil and unpredictability of life.

If you struggle to detach from life and take time out having a special place or Sanctuary will help. You can create a space to support you to relax, meditate, reflex, and be with yourself. Have you tried sitting in the kitchen with all the comings and goings of the family or in the living room with the TV playing? There are times and places in your home where there are many obstacles to being still and others that help the process, aiding you to settle and be open to insights and inspiration. 

You may need you to get creative, but it is possible to create a harmonious space to connect with yourself, your calm centre and intuition. Be realistic, how much space do you have? For most of us a dedicated room is not realistic but if you have one great. If not how about a temporary space where you can place a chair, mat or blanket when you use it.?

If you are living in a busy household, choose times to visit your sanctuary when you are least likely to be disturbed. Negotiate quiet time with others or consider headphones with white noise.

Make an intention for this space to be your sanctuary – when you set it up and every time go there. The energy will build and you will associate it with positive qualities.

Choose an object to evoke a the quality of sacred, whatever that means for you – a photo of a deity, or teacher – a crystal -something from nature – anything of special significance. These may need to be portable and put in place every time you use the space or you may have a shelf, window ledge, a small table etc.

I have something to represent the elements, water, fire/candle, air/feather and earth/crystal. You may like to focus on the senses and play gentle music, use aromas, a soft cushion. Be guided by what you have and your intuition.

I would love to see a picture of your sanctuary, please post it on my Facebook page or email me.

Yoga Healing Aylesbury

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5 Ways to help you stay calm, sane and connected!

1. Routine
Create a daily routine, plan times to start and finish activities. This will give you some predictability, control/power and help keep you grounded in the present rather than with thoughts of what might, should, or should not happen. New habits can take a while to become established and you may benefit from the support of a friend to help create your time table and keep you on track, celebrate success, and support you through any challenges.

2. Connection
Connection is especially important if you live alone. Plan time every day to speak with a colleague, friend, family member or support group. Online communication with visual as well as audio gives a deeper connection than phoning, Facetime, Whatsapp, Skype, Zoom etc are all free and pretty good. I have been having a monthly online lunch date with a friend for a couple of years and it’s great! Join me at one of the tea break or tea & chat sessions (see above).

3. Nature
Where possible spend some time daily in nature. Walking barefoot is a my favourite. If you can’t get out at all or as often as you would like, bring nature into your home with flowers, plants, perhaps try sprouting, planting a container or window box. Open windows and doors to clear the air regularly.

4. Exercise and diet
Exercise regularly, daily if possible, anything to move your body, feel the strength you have. Walk, dance or your guessed it do some yoga :). My Yoga classes are now online and the new term starts 20th April. If you would like to book and/or to receive a short yoga practice to do on your own email me.

Eat nutritious food, as fresh and unprocessed as possible. Treats are fine, too much sugar and starchy foods may feel good initially but are followed by an energy dip and put extra strain on the body to process and digest, so be as moderate as you can. If you deviate from the plan be kind to yourself and get back on track as soon as you can.

5. Create a Sanctuary
You may need you to get creative, but it is possible to create a harmonious space to connect with yourself, your calm centre and intuition. Be realistic, how much space do you have? For most of us a dedicated room is not realistic but if you have one great. If not how about a temporary space where you can place a chair, mat or blanket when you use it.?

If you are living in a busy household, choose times to visit your sanctuary when you are least likely to be disturbed. Negotiate quiet time with others or consider headphones with white noise.

Make an intention for this space to be your sanctuary – when you set it up and every time go there. The energy will build and you will associate it with positive qualities.

Choose an object to evoke a the quality of sacred, whatever that means for you – a photo of a deity, or teacher – a crystal -something from nature – anything of special significance. These may need to be portable and put in place every time you use the space or you may have a shelf, window ledge, a small table etc.

I have something to represent the elements, water, fire/candle, air/feather and earth/crystal. You may like to focus on the senses and play gentle music, use aromas, a soft cushion. Be guided by what you have and your intuition.

I would love to see a picture of your sanctuary, please post it on my Facebook page or email me.

Yoga Healing Aylesbury

Yoga – a Path to Peace & Self-awareness

YOGA 2 no website

Yoga is a path to self-discovery, the ancient wisdom of sages including Patanjali are as relevant today as thousands of years ago. Yoga offers a wealth of philosophy and psychology which dates back thousands of years. Postures as we know them today are a very recent addition. Yoga was taught individually, to men only. It was a way of life. The student would have to work hard to be accepted by his teacher. Training would involve living with the teacher, often for many years.

Krishnamacharya started teaching yoga to women. In 1937 Indra Devi became known as “The First Lady of Yoga.” when she was admitted into his school. Now yoga is often associated with complex acrobatic postures, often with young, very bendy and attractive women. However the postures are only one of many tools to journey to a state of yoga. They can in fact become a distraction when that is our only focus. It is important to maintain strength in the body, especially the spine and a flexibility. From a yoga perspective this is to support our meditation practice.

A mindful yoga practice supports the body and creates a space to become aware of what really going on. Underneath the busy mind, and aches and pains there is often an emotional issue. Awareness can be enough to start or complete moving this energy from your system.

Y – YOU – the only person who you can change is yourself – you are responsible only for your reaction.

O – OBSERVE – your thoughts, actions, and reactions – are there patterns you have outgrown or are not serving you? Are you ready for change?

G – GRATITUDE – spend time focusing on all you are grateful for, the more you do this the more you will find and the more positive and calm you will feel.

A – ACCEPTANCE – allow whatever is happening to be okay and remember that change is the only certainty. Much angst and energy is spent on things over which we have not control.

Is it time for you to take the next step? Please email me if you would like support or guidance.

My Yoga Journey

I discovered yoga in my 20’s and life got in the way. Fast forward 20 years I realised I was at breaking point. I had put diesel in my petrol car. I was a single mum living in the intense stress as my son entered his teenage years. I joined the local gym and I discovered yoga.

Yoga is so much more than tying yourself in knots or getting into a perfect posture. It has tools to support well-being on all levels. The texts give a path for moving out of suffering.

Yoga means to unite the various aspects of ourselves, physical, emotional etc. as well as the wounded child, inner warrior etc. Healing means wholeness. I see yoga as one of the oldest healing modalities. It’s sister ayurveda gives a wealth of knowledge on diet and lifestyle.

I trained with the Yoga for Health Foundation in Group Classes and Remedial Yoga and followed this with Viniyoga teacher training in group classes and yoga therapy.  My training included in depth study of yoga texts, psychology and philosophy of yoga.  I hold a British Wheel of Yoga accredited certificate and have trained extensively with cutting edge yoga teachers in the UK and at the Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram in Chennai, India.

My specialty is working with the health and well being of the whole person.  An issue in the body will most likely have an emotional connection. There may also be ancestral links which are impacting the client. I use ancient techniques of hatha yoga and cutting edge teachings to restore balance and harmony.

I firmly believe in the power of yoga to transform at all levels.  It has a tremendous amount of wisdom to offer whether we are mainly interested in the physical aspect or using yoga as a spiritual journey.

This is a holistic approach. It is not a substitute for a 12-step program and not intended as, or a substitute for, medical or psychiatric advice. Nor is it intended to diagnose, describe, treat, or cure any disease – physical or mental.

Yoga and Spirituality

TKV Desikachar was in Narbonne, in the South of France, for a symposium on “Yoga and the XXIst Century” during May 1999. The purpose of the symposium was to consider the role of yoga for the coming century in the three fields of Health, Psychology and Spirituality.

Question: How do you define spirituality from the point of view of yoga? Desikachar: What are we seeking ? Within every intelligent human being there are deep, searching questions – “Who am I? Where do I come from? Why do I sometimes feel so well, and not at other times? Where is the origin of my habits? What is it that will give me permanent happiness?”

Many people are looking for perfection in life situations – to have an ideal wife or an ideal husband and so on. Searching for happiness in external circumstances often leads to disappointment. We all know that wealth will not give us happiness, and we will not find it either in external freedom – doing what we want.

When we come to yoga, we begin to discover how the mind functions, and find that there is a lot of “junk” in it, which we try to remove.

Slowly the mind becomes more and more like a mirror that tells us : “Look here, there is something that I can show you”. This something was already there, but is now revealed to us. There is “something” in us which is beyond the mind – I do not know what we can call it.

When we begin to feel this, it is spirituality. The role of yoga in spirituality is to give us awareness of this feeling.

Question: Do you think that yoga can help a person in his or her religious practices? Desikachar: The moment there is a search, an enquiry, we need some help and start looking for it. Then what happens?

We all have roots – we did not appear spontaneously! We came from our parents, and they came from their parents. We are a part of a society, with a culture. We begin to look at our past, discover aspects we may have ignored, and some of these are religious. One discovery leads naturally to another…

I strongly believe that a serious aspirant of life, who goes into yoga, will find his or her roots, and these roots are often linked to religion.

Question: Some religious groups see yoga as being incompatible with their beliefs. Do you think this is simply a question of mis-information? Desikachar: Absolutely. We have to communicate more with them. This was lacking in the past, but things have improved. Many years ago, people thought that doing yoga would make a person crazy!

Earlier, it was also thought that yoga was anti-social, that it isolated people from society. It was perhaps considered potentially dangerous because it came from a different culture. Today, I don’t think this opinion is widespread.

All my friends live normally – they have children, a husband or wife and have responsibilities within the society. They work, have fun, watch football matches…

We, in the field of yoga, have a duty to explain better the true nature of what we are doing and how we live.

On the other side, unfortunately, some religious groups are very rigid. There is also some anxiety in certain religious circles – they feel they are losing their numbers and give mis-information to try to avoid this. Perhaps there is also some ignorance – but this method will not succeed.

There is also a little fanatism in certain religious groups. They provoke basic instincts, unfair to religion as a whole, so that their followers look at everything else negatively. Unfortunately, there can be an element of cult in religion.

So, on our side, we have not given the right information ; on their side, there can be some nervousness.

Question: It would seem that the relationship between the teacher and the student, in the traditional Indian context, is the important factor in change for the student – health-wise, psychologically or spiritually. In the western context, for the coming century, do you see this aspect as feasible or should we be looking to emphasize other aspects? Desikachar: It is not only going to be feasible, it is going to be more and more dominant. We are losing touch with relationship. We have no husband, no wife, no father, no mother, no religion… At the same time we cannot live alone.

A human being likes to be with others. I have heard that there are some “psychological clubs” in France where people meet and share over a cup of coffee, because they have nowhere else to meet and talk. We are becoming lonely, because we wanted a certain freedom, and this is the price we have paid.

Relationships are going to be very important. This means that a teacher has to be very careful, because the moment a student likes a teacher, there is a risk that the teacher will be considered as their husband or wife, or father, or guru, or whatever.

Without a doubt there will be an increasing demand for relationships. Depending on how we handle it this will be for good or for bad… Today, technology has created a big wall between human beings. No need to go to the bank to get money, nor to a travel agent to buy a ticket. Everything is done through technology. We are always focusing on machines.

I observe this when I walk in the streets of any big city in the west – people are not looking at each other, they are looking at machines or talking on their telephones. Even when I go to the counter, the lady is not looking at me, she is looking at the computer!

Technology is great, but it can separate human beings. Therefore, we will certainly be looking for relationships in the future.

Question: And where does yoga fit in? Desikachar: Yoga is relationship. The word yoga means to relate.

TKV Desikachar was in Narbonne, in the South of France, for a symposium on “Yoga and the XXIst Century” during May 1999. The purpose of the symposium was to consider the role of yoga for the coming century in the three fields of Health, Psychology and Spirituality.

With thanks to Paul Harvey – see also Relevance of Traditional Teaching, Yoga & Psycology

Download PDF of Interview with TKV Desikachar on Yoga in 
the
 
fields 
of 
Health,
 Psychology 
and
 Spirituality.

Yoga and Health

Yoga and the 21st Century – Interview with TKV Desikachar May 1999

Question: How far do you think that yoga can contribute to maintaining good health in the coming century? Desikachar: It is now known that health is not just the absence of diseases coming from infections, etc. There are many illnesses for which medicine has no answer or knowledge of their origins.

People are also turning to other health systems which give them hope. Anything that can offer some solace is now being tried – there is aromatic therapy, hypnosis, magnetic therapy, etc.

In yoga we have this fundamental idea – anything that disturbs a person, including illness and disease, can be helped if we can act on the mind. What is so special about yoga is that it gives us a way to strengthen our mind. When the mind gets stronger, we can face illness and we feel healthier.

It has already been proved that yoga can help. Yoga is not medicine – it is concerned with the quality of life, attitudes to life, personal disciplines, and various other things which any system of medicine can accept. It will certainly have a role to play in every system of health care for times to come.

Question: In this field do you see the most important contribution from yoga being on a preventive or a curative level in the coming century? Desikachar: I think the most important contribution yoga can make in the field of health is the courage it can give to face illness, the strength we can find to cope with our ailments. The moment we have this strength, we have already been cured in a way.

That, I think, is a very significant contribution. This is at least what we see with the many different people who come to our yoga institution in India. Some of them have not received education, others are very cultivated, but whoever they are, when faced with illness, they generally feel discouraged.

After some time they have the courage to smile again, to take a walk, to climb some steps – which can be a big improvement…  This happens because yoga identifies a power within them, a power which they didn’t think they had. It is not medicine, but it works.

Question: Are dietary restrictions a part of yoga? Desikachar: When we start yoga, we begin to look at ourselves. We notice what creates problems and what relieves these problems. Food can do both. If we notice that good food makes us feel better, we will start taking more care about our diet.

People who begin yoga practice start thinking about many things which they hadn’t considered before. Some even reflect on what colour the carpet on which they do their practice should be!

Obviously what we eat is an important consideration, but it is not something that we as yoga teachers insist on.  Each person takes care of his or her own diet. As time goes by yoga makes us more aware of what we are doing and what we should be doing.

Question: Modern medicine has done wonders to improve many ailments, but the contemporary disease which we call stress seems to be difficult to handle for the medical world. Why is yoga practice effective for this field? Do you think it will remain so in the future? Desikachar: Our future life will be stressfull – there is no doubt about that. With all the comforts and conveniences we have, and all the opportunities which modern life gives us, we have more and more ambitions – this can only increase the stress level.

The question is how to cope with it? No outside force can do this for us – we have to look after it from within ourselves, using our own resources.

Yoga cannot prevent stress, but as I said earlier, yoga gives us access to our ressources, which are linked to the mind. In strengthening the mind, yoga enables us to develop a sort of cushion, an increased ability to withstand stress. This is the best way to cope with it. It’s like having a good shock absorber when driving a car on a bumpy road.

Through an understanding of what is at stake, linked to the practice of yoga, the force of our mental ressources are developed and we can handle stress better.

TKV Desikachar was in Narbonne, in the South of France, for a symposium on “Yoga and the XXIst Century” during May 1999. The purpose of the symposium was to consider the role of yoga for the coming century in the three fields of Health, Psychology and Spirituality.

With thanks to Paul Harvey – see also Relevance of Traditional Teaching, Yoga & Psycology

The relevance of Traditional Teaching

Yoga and the 21st Century – Interview with TKV Desikachar May 1999

Question: Do you think that the teaching you received from your father is still relevant today, particularly in the West? Desikachar: It looks like it because, wherever I speak, more and more people come, and from all sorts of different backgrounds. It is relevant, and it is going to be.

Question: You studied the Yoga Sūtra of Patañjali many times with your father. Could you say a few words about this text, and since it is about 2,000 years old, do you think its message is still valid today and for the future? Desikachar: This text is very old, and it deals with the mind. Anything we do, or intend to do, involves this instrument, and all pains and pleasures are rooted here.

Patañjali was very prophetic, because he spoke not only of yesterday’s mind, but also of tomorrow’s. His message concerns clarity, and it will become more and more pertinent as time goes by, because people are now questioning much more than before.

Earlier there was belief, and so people did not have to question, or even to think. Now, we all want to have more responsibility in what happens to us. Therefore, we need to have a clearer mind, and this is why the yoga sûtra is still valid and will remain so.

I believe that, unless a new religious order comes to the world in which case belief will take over, this text will have a wider and wider impact in times to come.

TKV Desikachar was in Narbonne, in the South of France, for a symposium on “Yoga and the XXIst Century” during May 1999. The purpose of the symposium was to consider the role of yoga for the coming century in the three fields of Health, Psychology and Spirituality.

With thanks to Paul Harvey – see also Yoga & Health, Yoga & Psycology

Yoga & the spine

The emphasis of our yoga asana practice is to keep the spine healthy.  It is of vital importance to our health and well being on a structural and energetic level as well as playing a vital role in the function of the nervous system.

The 33 vertebrae support the head and allow the body to be upright and move as well as protecting the spinal cord, which delivers messages between your brain and the rest of your body.  The S-shape of the spine prevents shock to the head when walking or running

The Anatomy of the Spine

Image of spine

  • 7 cervical vertebrae support the head and neck and allow the head to nod and shake
  • 12 thoracic vertebrae attach to the ribs
  • 5 lumbar vertebrae support most of the weight of the upper body
  • 5 fused vertebrae sacrum make up the back wall of the pelvis
  • 4 fused vertebrae coccyx/ tail

Shock absorbers

Between the vertebrae are pads of tough, fibrous cartilage which cushion and absorb shock. If they become damaged/prolapsed they may put pressure on spinal cord resulting in pain

Flexibility

The spine is supported and stabilised by strong ligaments and muscles around the vertebrae.  The facet joints of the vertebrae give flexibility to the spine allowing backward and forward bending as well as twisting.

Yoga asana/postures use the deep supporting spinal muscles as well as the larger superficial ones to release tension and bringing about optimal alignment and a balance between strength and flexibility, encouraging full use of the diaphragm when breathing

Energy

The spine is linked to the flow of prana/life force energy; the major chakras through which it passes are situated along the spine.  The way the spine is worked affects each of the different types of prana, it can help energise or calm, support digestion/elimination.

Many students report that their back pain has gone or is greatly reduced.

I was really pleased how much better my lower back felt after our session. Jane

I have osteoporosis and suffered from pain in my neck and joints. Since joining Suzan’s yoga class I have become stronger and have a greater range of movement.  I have been able to go hill walking again.  My latest scan showed that my bone density had increased 3% in the spine and 10% in the hips.  I am delighted to have gained so much, usually the best aim is to maintain density and avoid any further reduction Ann

The morning after my first yoga class I got out of bed and for the first time in 3 years had no back pain! JL

I used to suffer regularly with lower back pain, but this is now a rare occurrence.

Suzan’s yoga has worked wonders on my back! I can thoroughly recommend it. Nicola, Aylesbury

My back has been a million times better since I started your class

I look forward to my weekly class with Suzan as she offers a relaxing and non-competitive atmosphere in which to practise yoga.  Her focus on the back, neck and shoulders has helped to free up my upper back and has made me more aware of my posture on a day to day basis. MW

I had a discectomy 6 months ago and was quite concerned about how long my rehabilitation would take. The beauty of Suzan’s yoga classes are that she was able to give slightly easier versions of the exercises in the first few weeks to make sure I didn’t place any undue stress on my recovering back. Now that I am 6 months into my yoga classes, my core strength has increased considerably and I am now able to undertake the more challenging variations of the exercises, whilst always being reminded to listen to my body and make adjustments where necessary if there is too much of a strain. I am a real convert to yoga and would recommend it to anyone. I only wish I had taken it up before I began suffering with a serious back problem! Mark.