Be more dog

No, I’ve not been sponsored by a well-known telecommunications giant. I have however, been spending a lot of time with the dog since I moved back up North. He’s basically the best date – he enjoys long walks in the sun, a snuggle under the blanket watching a film, he never questions me and is always pleased to see me whatever mood I may be in. Alas, he is a meat eater. And a dog. That fact has not escaped me but has, in fact, inspired me.

The teachings of Akhanda yoga focus on finding our true nature, our true self, which is fearless, blissful and playful. It has often struck me when playing with the dog that his life is so simple, and so happy. He just requires company and love, which he is always ready to accept without fear of rejection, and regular feeding and walking. If only our lives were as simple! But if you think about it, there isn’t much else we really need. Yes, we need to work to pay the bills, the mortgage, feed and clothe the kids, but if you strip away the ‘busyness’ of our lives to what we need, to what really makes us happy, I believe it is simply unconditional love and being close to nature.

During my travels I met an inspiring Mexican gal who has a fire in her belly, and a bundle of love in her heart. She had one question for me, and for every traveller who crossed her path – what is your simple happiness? Mine was and is walking. Being out in the open; feeling free; feeling thankful for my feet. Just left foot right foot. Simple. Just like the dog.

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The power of OM

Om is a sacred sound vibration. It is believed to be the sound of the Universe; the first sound. It is pronounced ‘A, U, M’. In every class, every week, I encourage my students to chant Om with me to experience and share this positive vibration.

When I first started yoga a few years ago I used to go to my local gym with the aim of sculpting a six-pack and losing the bingo wings. (The six pack has yet to appear, I think this is mainly due to my love of cheese and red wine… Anyway, I digress.)  Very rarely would a yoga teacher introduce chanting Om and if they did I would sit quietly and uncomfortably on my mat and weakly offer up a half-hearted humming pfft waiting for the real work to begin.   My experience of yoga began to change over the years and in summer 2015 I found myself at Anand Prakash Ashram, Rishikesh, India where I later returned to qualify as a yoga teacher. The teachers at the ashram were warm and supportive and at the start of each class, they would belt out an Om from their boots embracing the sound and creating an encouraging atmosphere to join in. So I did – in each class for 17 days, twice a day. After a few classes I confessed to my fellow ashram dwellers somewhat superficially that ‘I love a good Om’. And I still do. However, my understanding of Om, of the power of chanting only became clearer to me during my yoga teacher training.

I love the feeling of sharing a strong Om in a room of people, the safety and warmth of the environment and the lack of ego involved. My Om often appears in many forms – it can be a rather flat sounding Om or sometimes a wavering wobbly Om which takes a moment to settle on a solid note. Regardless of this I now set it free without embarrassment.   Through this simple sound, this simple practice, I began to connect to the inner sound and the feeling of the vibration of Om from my belly, to my throat, the inside of my mouth with the ‘m’ vibrating through my lips. I realised that each time I chant Om it brings me to the present moment. I also find that a loud full throated Om obliterates any distracting thoughts or feelings lurking within. This ability to still my mind (albeit temporarily) helps me bring my focus inwards rather than glumly checking out the heels of my neighbours in downward-facing dog. (My heels still do not touch the floor some 4 years on. Hari Om!)   Yoga is a personal experience and there is no obligation to chant Om or any mantra for that matter. However, I encourage you to try, to have an open mind, and explore the weird and the wonderful within yoga. As my journey continues, I shall happily continue to chant the sacred syllable of Om with an open heart and a soft smile.

-Om Shanti-

1/2 day workshop – explore your true self and deepen your understanding of yoga.

This workshop is a perfect introduction to yoga for beginners and those completely new to yoga and for intermediate students who wish to explore yoga further and deepen their practice.

WORKSHOP

Our 4 hour workshop will provide you with two yoga classes:

(i) one Akhanda hatha yoga class to open our session – bringing you an authentic and traditional experience of hatha yoga from the Himalayas in India; and

(ii) a relaxing and restorative 75 minute Yin class bringing stillness and balance to your body and mind at the end of our workshop.

In two interactive study sessions learn about ‘the history of yoga’, and ‘what is meditation and mindfulness’.  Find out in more detail what yogis practice on and off the mat and take home tools for easing stress and anxiety in our busy lives.

Fancy learning how to improve your down dog or tree pose? Our session will also include a posture workshop where you can choose which core poses you would like to work on and know more about.

Yoga mats and equipment will be provided. You are welcome to bring a blanket and a pillow to fully settle into your relaxation time with us.

Refreshments and healthy snacks will be provided.

WHERE ARE WE?

We are excited to host this 4 hour event in the beautiful ballroom at the Southport Temperance Institute.

So join Akhanda Yoga Southport and Strimasana Yoga for a ½ day workshop at the Southport Temperance Institute, 65 London Street, Southport, PR9 0TH at 2pm – 6pm on Saturday 12 March 2016!

HOW TO BOOK

Pre-booking is essential with a £10.00 deposit. Tickets are £25.00 with an early bird offer of £20 for the first 5 places booked!

Contact Liz of Renewed You Yoga (Akhanda Yoga Southport) (lgyogasouthport@gmail.com) or Sharon at Strimasana Yoga (strim71@hotmail.co.uk) for bookings and further information.

Namaste