Yoga has been growing in popularity over the past decade. As soon as you open Instagram you see these pictures of beautiful fit girls doing all sorts of acrobatics which are like candy for our eyes. They wear the tightest most beautiful outfits from “Alo Yoga”.
An immediate thought creeps into our mind. “OMG yoga looks so nice and relaxing, but I’m totally not flexible enough, as if I could ever touch the floor with my hands while keeping my legs straight”. Good news is, have you ever heard about this fantastic part of the body called knees? I’m sure if you bend them you will be able to touch the ground!
What is Yoga really about?
Where am I going with this? Yoga is defined by breathing and learning more about yourself. It is about closing your eyes and being able to deal with all the noise inside your head. Its about relieving any tensions or pain with every exhale. It’s about knowing and discovering more about each corner of your body. Yoga is energy, that cosmic energy you and I share, which connects us to this wonderful place we call earth. Yoga is compassion, loving yourself, your neighbour and the world. Yoga is Ahimsa, principle of not killing. Yoga is postures, accepting your body’s limitations and working with them. Yoga is being gentle and enjoying the journey of your practice. Yoga is patience. Yoga is consistency. Yoga is not some weird cult, or a hippie lifestyle. Yoga is you, me and us. Yoga is the air we breath and the relationships we create.
So, you finally understand what yoga is? Of course not. You cannot understand what yoga is simply by reading about it on a magazine or by staring at an “influencer’s” photo. To understand yoga, you must be yoga. You must practice what you preach. You need to put your body and soul into it. Yoga is accepting to surrender, giving in to your weaknesses and being able to accept and improve upon them.
Is Yoga for Everyone?
Don’t get me wrong, I do not mean to insult or offend anyone who posts pictures of “cool yoga poses” or considers themselves a “yogi” because they attended that weekly yoga class. I think that the fact that yoga is becoming so popular is amazing. It means the world is changing for better. My objective however, is to make you aware of what yoga is, to maintain its essence and prevent it from becoming marginalized, from becoming a marketing tool.
I encourage everyone to try yoga, and please do not hesitate to contact me if you feel lost as to where to start. But if you do decide to enter the world of yoga, understand what it means, don’t be afraid. Yoga is a wonderful thing but to harvest its crops you need to plant all your seeds.
Interview with Petri Räisänen
The well-known Ashtanga master Petri Räisänen will be conducting a 4-day workshop at Yoga Center Madrid in September. This is a great opportunity to learn from the most traditional source an to flow with a dynamic and flowy yoga. With Petri, we will dive into Ashtanga and Vinyasa styles with a gentle and sensitive perspective, we will go deep into our self and search for mental peace.
Question.- What are we going to learn with your worshop at Yoga Center Madrid?
Answer.- In Madrid we will focus on the Nadi Sodhana (Intermediate series) techniques. I will talk about my Nadi Sodhana book project with Pattabhi Jois and Sharath Jois, and I will teach the Vinyasa method, adjustments and tips for the personal practice. On Sunday afternoon we will go through dharana (concentration) techniques for the better mind focus and balance.
Q.- Can any yoga practitioner attend to your workshop or it is necessary to be an ashtangi?
A.- All the classes are meant for everyone who is interested about Ashtanga Yoga, beginners, intermediate and advanced students.
Q.- Twenty-seven years teaching yoga... How have your teachings changed or evolved throughout the years?
A.- My teaching has become much gentler and more tolerant. I start to see every student as an individual who needs their individual techniques according to their body type, age and condition.
Q.- Why Ashtanga? What is Ashtanga Yoga for you?
A.- I guess it was a matter of good luck (or destiny) that I found Ashtanga. It was the right timing and there was a good teacher who could inspire enough my young mind. Ashtanga is a complete yoga system. It doesn’t mean an asana sequence anymore. It is a mind practice even more than it is for the body.
Q.- How was it to learn from Sri K. Pattabhi Jois?
A.- He was always good with me. He became almost a grandfather for me (in my mind). He was tough but had a big heart. He really made people believe in the power of yoga and in themselves.
Q.- What is the most important teaching that Sri K. Pattabhi Jois taught you?
A.- He taught me the Vinyasa system, which is about the clarity of the mind. Also humour and yogic psychology (practical).
Q.- What does Yoga makes you feel? How is it present in your daily life?
A.- It makes me feel balance and quietness from inside. It is present all the time. Discipline (in a gentle way) became a big part of my life. Do not give up!
Q.- How has your own practice evolved throughout the years?
A.- My practice has changed a lot since I have a quite busy teaching schedule, and I have two young children (1 and 4) with my wife. There is less time for a long and advanced practice, but the practice has still a good quality. I’m not as hungry for the next poses and for a physical progress. Now it is more about peace of mind.
Q.- How do you prepare your classes, workshops and retreats?
A.- I prepare my classes by calming down my mind and by meditating or visualizing a healing environment. For workshops I make a schedule and prepare different subjects that we look through in a few days. The retreats require longer plans for the classes, like going through the vinyasa system in one or two weeks and focusing on the healing aspects of the practice.
Q.- What is the most important element in your classes?
A.- Healing environment! Quietness and gentleness!
Q.- How do you integrate Yoga in your daily life, beyond your classes and workshops?
A.- I always try to educate myself, stay calm and have time for relaxation.
Q.- Has your relationship with Yoga changed over the years? How?
A.- As I gain more information about Yoga, I’m getting more tolerant and I see Yoga in a bigger picture. More than a physical practice, Yoga is a path to peace of mind. All actions have to be focused on the sattvic mind.
Q.- What would you recommend to any Yoga practitioner?
A.- Practice, practice, practice!
Q.- How does Naturopathy helps with your yoga classes?
A.- Naturopathy doesn’t help so much, but I learned some other techniques that have more benefits, like different body therapies and energy healing.
Q.- Apart from Sri K Pattabhi Jois, you have studied with many yoga teachers in your yogic path. What is the most significant experience you have had with them? Could you explain a little more about what each teacher has taught you?
A.- It would be a long list of teachers and stories! From all of my teachers I learned a yogic discipline, spirituality and happiness.
Q.- How does it feel that Sri K Pattabhi Jois blessed the school you own? Do you still feel “his influence” in some way nowadays?
A.- I always feel Pattabhi’s presence. Especially in the Yoga shala. Part of his prana is withing all of his students!
Q.- You study Indian Philosophy and Sanskrit. How does it help you in your daily life? And with Yoga?
A.- I have tried to study Sanskrit many times, but I have never had enough time and interest to go deeply into it. The little I learnt helps with Sanskrit pronunciation and understanding the sound vibration. Philosophy helps me to understand the human behaviour and to avoid bigger bondages.
Q.- You have also studied “Jäsenkorjaus” or Bone setting. I guess it must be a great help to understand the anatomy of the human body and thus practice yoga more efficiently. How does it help you as a teacher? And as a yogi?
A.- My teacher didn’t allow his students to study anatomy from the books. We had to learn to sense the body and much more. We had to learn to sense the muscles and bodily and mental tensions through touching the body and also without touching, through “seeing” the body and the energy of the body. That has had a huge effect on my teachings and helps me to understand the different body types and issues. I learnt to look for a source of the tension or pain and to relax it from the source. Through the Finnish healing method, I learnt to recognize prana, I didn’t learn it from Yoga, but it is a great help in the Yoga practice.
Yoga Center How to Teach Yoga for Children - Interview with Christine Curtis
How did your interest in yoga for children start?
Helping children reach their full potential, whatever their starting point, has always been one of my prime goals as a primary school head teacher.
Children with learning challenges particularly concerned me, especially those with attention deficit disorders or high anxiety. As a yoga practitioner I knew how grounding and calming yoga could be and wondered if yoga could offer similar benefits to children.
The results were almost immediate for those children. Over time, yoga and mindful activities were gradually introduced throughout the whole school and included all children.
It was one of the most popular and productive initiatives I had ever introduced into a school setting and every child benefitted in their own particular way, according to their individual needs.
Did anything in particular take you by surprise?
Yes! Absolutely! How children need to stop and just be! They look forward to it, ask for it! All of them – even the most unlikely, hyperactive children!
Why do you think yoga is so popular with children?
That’s a good question and is often not apparent. Parents say, “My child loves yoga – what is it you do in class?” I believe it is the atmosphere they appreciate rather than any activity in particular. Subconsciously they feel they are in a safe, judgement-free zone, away from expectations from parents, teachers, peers and society in general. They can experience being their true selves in a space that is free from the stresses of constantly being assessed and judged and the fear of possible failure.
This belief is supported by their typical responses when asked why they enjoy yoga:-“Yoga makes me feel calm/peaceful/free/loved/happy/relaxed…..” What more could we wish for them?
What is your joy when teaching yoga to children?
All children are perfect beings. They all have a good heart but aren’t always provided with the conditions needed for them to express this. It is lovely and truly gratifying to see children releasing tension, opening up and spontaneously showing kindness and support to each other, themselves and in general to the world around them.
My joy is bearing witness to this and having the privilege of holding the keys which unlock the world of yoga for them.
What is your advice to anyone thinking about teaching yoga to children?
It is a very different experience to teaching adults so it is important to be flexible with no pre-conceived expectations. Children are great teachers and when we can accept this with an open mind we regain that simpler, purer perspective on life which has often been misplaced as we pursue our busy, modern day, adult lives.
If you have ever, even fleetingly, thought about teaching yoga to children, then my advice is to give it a go! Children’s yoga teachers are sowing the seeds for a more positive future for all. What an amazing mission – and the way is fun, enlightening and fulfilling!
Liz's Workshop March 2014
Liz enchanted and challenged us all once more. She engaged the group with a continuous series of sequences that charmed everyone while getting them to do more than they imagined possible. At the same time Liz mesmerized the participants with her art, her music, her songs, and her inspirational quotes taken from the poets and mystics of the world and the ages.
Liz's Growing Collaboration
Liz has agreed to participate in our new Advanced Diploma course that completes the 500 hours of our Hatha Yoga Teacher Training certification. We will soon be announcing the content of her contribution to the advanced course. She will train the graduates in 'creative sequencing'.
First Advanced Course Presentation
We will be offering our new 100 hour Advanced Diploma course this summer in Aldeaduero. As soon a s we have Liz's curriculum we will include in the course description.
Liz Lark's Workshop
We had a great weekend with LIz again. She always comes ready to inspire us with her 'go for it' way of life. She brings new ways to sequence the asana practice.
We want to thank her for her creativity and integrity. We look forward to more ways to collaborate with Liz. Perhaps we will have her with us this summer. Thanks Liz. Lots of love.
Yoga Teacher Training Graduates
We are proud of our new Yoga Teacher graduates. We have just completed 3 of our Yoga Training courses. This year for the first time the 3 training programs concluded on the same weekend. Congratulations to all of you for your outstanding effort and well deserved results.
Hatha Yoga Instructor Training
Iyengar* Yoga Postgrads
Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga Instructors
Don't panic Meditate
If you have ever had an anxiety crisis you may find this recent article that appeared in the Los Angeles Times interesting.
As someone who treats individuals for Panic Disorder, I can highly recommend learning and practicing mindfulness meditation.
grab a pencil.
When I was in college, i read an article on Dr. James Pennebaker, psychology professor at the University of Texas, who claims that writing 20 minutes a day can improve your health. Since reading the article almost 6 years ago, I have been writing off and on as Pennebaker instructed. Writing helps clear my mind, organize my thoughts, and allows me see how I handle situations. A lot of times if we are thinking about something excessively we have the same exact thought over and over. (I call it broken record thinking). Writing about that 'something' can allow you to find a way to change your habitual, 'broken record' thoughts. It moves the mind forward constructively allowing more space for new, positive thoughts. Click here for the article.
discover your dosha.
Dosha: (dosh'ah) according to the principle of constitution of the physical body in ayurveda, one of the three vital bioenergies (vata, pitta, kapha) condensed from the five elements, the doshas are respondible for the physical and emotional tendencies in the mind and body, and along with the seven dhatus (tissues) and three malas (waste products) make up the human body. The attributes of the doshas and their specific combination within each individual help determine the individual's physical and mental characteristics, while imbalance among the doshas is the cause of disease.
Dorland's Medical Dictionary for Health Consumers. © 2007 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier, Inc. All rights reserved.
What's your dosha? Click here to take the quiz.
"Yoga is the perfect opportunity to be curious about who you are."
Pick a pose and progress.
Viewing our yoga practice in a different way can extend the possibility to see more of who we are. By simply focusing on a particular posture, we can consciously and meticulously take note of our mental and physical progression. Asking questions like, "Where was I when I first did this posture?", "How has it changed for me today?", "Why has it changed?", and "Where can I take this posture next?", can all give you insight on how you process things in general. Examine everything that goes on in the body, from the breath to where you find your focus.
Welcome to the first entry of my new blog.
First, I would like to introduce myself and give you an insight of my life, thus far, involving yoga.
My name is Erin Lane, I'm 26 years old, and I grew up in the United States in a town called San Angelo (Texas). I moved to Madrid on January 1, 2011 and have nothing but great things to say about the city, the country, the people, etc. I have enjoyed exploring everything about my new home and am elated to have found such a terrific yoga community.
Growing up in San Angelo, for me, consisted mostly of getting through school and developing a discipline with dance, specifically ballet.I began practicing yoga in my living room following DVDs (Rodney Yee AM/PM yoga) as a way to gain flexibility for dance. After a few weeks of 30 minute yoga every morning, I realized there was much more to offer than stretched hamstrings and longer quadricep muscles. I saw that yoga was a discipline itself, much like ballet, and the more you practiced, the more "in tune" you could become with your body.
I continued practicing when I moved to Austin, Texas where I attended the University of Texas seeking a B.F.A. in Dance. There, i was able to take yoga outside of the living room and inside an enormous university gym. All the same, I found the energy to be different, solid, and in the moment as opposed to my still quite beneficial AM/PM home yoga routine. The energy of others that surrounded me during class was inspiring--- athletes, professors, and students alike formed a community that I felt the need to be a part of.
Continuing to follow a career in dance in various parts of the US and Mexico, I always found a way to integrate my yoga practice no matter where I was at the time. This eventually led me to yoga studios of all different styles and in turn, to my 200 hour RYS Yoga Certification. Yes, another perspective gained and still so much to learn.
My love for being a guide and sharing my knowledge of yoga has brought me to Yoga Center Madrid and now to having a blog. On this blog, I not only want to share the knowledge and perspectives I have gained through my experiences, but hope to receive a flow of yoga information from readers, along with their yoga experiences.That being said, I open this blog up for comments and a flow of communication, a conversation on anything I post.
This blog will be a reflection, a resource, and above all, a collective process.
"Brain Mechanisms Supporting the Modulation of Pain by Mindfulness" The Journal of Neuroscience, April 6, 2011
Mindfulness reduces the Experience of Pain
The Journal of Neuroscience has just published research which gives evidence the practice of mindfulness meditation can help to reduce the experience of pain. For centuries those practicing meditation have claimed that the nonevaluative representation of sensory events such as pain, influenced the very experience itself. The current study claims that 4 days of mindfulness meditation training reduced "pain unpleasantness by 57%" of "the noxious stimulation" and the "pain intensity ratings" were reduced by 40%. The study noted that meditation reduced the activation of the "contralateral primary somatosensory cortex" which affects one's pain related experience.
Mindfulness affects Multiple Brain Mechanisms
The effect of Meditation in pain intensity ratings were associated with greater activity in the "anterior cingulate cortex and anterior insula" that influence our "cognitive regulation of nociceptive processing". The resultant reductions in the experience of pain were associated with orbitofrontal cortex activation. This area of the brain influences one's contextual evaluation of sensory events. Such reductions in pain were also associated with "thalamic deactivation, which may reflect a limbic gating mechanism" that modifies interactions with the "executive-order brain areas". All of these observation associated with the practice of mindfulness meditation, suggest that meditation affects multiple brain mechanisms that alter the subjective experience of pain.
Mindfulness Programs at 'Yoga Center' Madrid, 'Yoga Sananda' Vigo and Hotel Spa Balneario****
I would like to remind my readers that we offer regular meditation classes, meditation instructor courses, mindfulness for stress reduction courses and mindfulness based psychotherapy in our 'Yoga Center' Madrid and 'Yoga Sananda' Vigo as well as our summer intensives offered at the Hotel Spa Balneario**** in Mondariz-Balneario in August.
The New C/ Serrano
The C/ Serrano construction has finally ended and we can now enjoy walking along a very broad pedestrian avenue. It is lined with new Plane trees, interspersed with benches and includes a bicycle pathway.
The construction of the underground parking is about to finish. More than half of the underground parking is already open. Last Saturday I saw more people enjoying Serrano than in the last 12 years.
The Miracle of Christmas
The underground parking at the height of our center will open in a few weeks. It will be a comfortable feature for our students because the pedestrian entrance to the parking is right at our entrance. A small miracle of Christmas after 2 years of public works at our door step.
Questions I have spent a lifetime trying to answer
I am in the throws of choosing a topic to research for my doctorate in Psychology. i personally am interested in a number of areas. One interest regards the Oriental and Western mystical notions of elevated states of consciousness or mystical states. Such states are clearly referred to in Patanjali's Sutras and in the Cloud of Unknowing. Some Psychologists in the humanistic tradition, from William James to Maslow and more recently Robert Kegan claim that adults are capable of higher orders of consciousness. I would especially like to research the following two questions: Is there any empirical evidence for higher order consciousness besides anecdotal evidence?; is there any evidence that higher order consciousness can be taught?
Your thoughts and suggestions
First I would like to ask what your opinions are regarding my two principal questions. Have you or anyone you know exprienced higher order states or something similar. If so how did you or they do it? How doe you know that it wasn't just siggestion and wish fulfillment fantasy? I would also appreciate your comments and suggestions regarding any books, essays, journal atricles etc that you feel could help answer my 2 questions.