Today I had a quick chat live on BBC Radio Oxford and Berkshire with Bill Buckley; it was a lot of fun. Bill was asking me about the benefits of yoga and how yoga entered my life, the training process, and how practicing in the Parks makes a difference.

He talked about the way he used to practice in London (not keeping his drishti!) and we talked about some of the different types of yoga I teach at The Yoga Beat and the retreats we teach in spring and autumn.

This evening we are practicing vinyasa again in the University Parks 6-7pm and remember kundalini Wednesdays 6-7pm also in the Parks near Keble Gate.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p05b7zdg

Rejuvenating Retreat in Italy 23-30 September

With Chris Leuenberger & Stella Shakerchi

VINYASA / KUNDALINI / YOGA NIDRA / CELESTIAL COMMUNICATION

 

23-30 September at Locanda della Quercia Calante, Umbria

A week of yoga and cleansing in the in the Umbrian hills. Relax, consolidate and strengthen at Locanda with tranquil gardens and magical sunsets.

2 yoga classes each day, after dinner mantras, swimming, free to roam the woodland walks, one to one sessions, massages and spa available, beautiful accommodation and three fresh healthy meals every day at Locanda della Quercia Calante, near Orvieto.

 

Treat yourself to 7 days of yoga and relaxation on this natural retreat in the hills of verdant Umbria, Central Italy. Fill up on inner strength and peace of mind in the beautiful grounds of a renovated old farm surrounded by a green park with spring water pools and century-old oaks. Whether you are a beginner or a well-practiced yogi, our retreat will be a safe environment in which you can explore, grow your practice, cleanse and achieve long lasting health benefits. Locanda has beautiful gardens where you can relax and natural pools. All meals and comforts are provided, and any extra yoga tuition all included.

– 2 yoga classes a day (Vinyasa, Kundalini) 

– pranayama, meditation, chakras & mantras

– free use of all facilities including natural spa with energizing properties

– 3 healthy vegetarian meals per day (local cuisine, natural ingredients)

– lovely accommodation in quadruple, triple, double or single room

Chris Leuenberger (chrisleuenberger.com) is a dancer and Stella Shakerchi is a KYTA certified Level 1 kundalini yoga teacher. Both are 500hr Vinyasa RYT Yoga Alliance certified. 

4 SHARE: EUR 675

3 SHARE: EUR 745

DOUBLE: EUR 815

SINGLE: EUR 1025 

You may wish to share a room with a friend or partner, or we can place you with other yogis who are attending.

To book your place on the retreat, contact Stella: stella@theyogabeat.co.uk or text on (+44) 740 212 6826. We ask a 50% deposit to secure the place, the balance payable 60 days  before the start of the retreat.

 

for more information email stella@theyogabeat.co.uk or text (+44) 740 212 6826

 

It is an intriguing subject, fascia – some of which is what you may know as connective tissue – runs throughout the body and is a substance released by the cells that support tensional movement and strengthens areas of movement. There are always new discoveries being made on this mysterious subject. This video is great for revealing how involved fascia is in the anatomy of body and mind.

Nutrition and the yogic lifestyle

This evening I attended a book launch at the headquarters of the wonderful Modern Baker. The Modern Baker A New Way to Bake has some great recipes such as sourdough chocolate cake and maple sugar and blueberry scones. You can find out about the health benefits of sourdough on the Modern Baker blog written by Melissa Sharp who also collaborated with Leo and Lindsay to write the Cookbook. Sourdough can be helpful for celiacs. But also consider that you may be intolerant to wheat, sugar or dairy without even realising it. Sometimes we think we are running on normal when we have nothing better to compare it with. Twenty, thirty or forty years on habitual diet may be hiding your potential energy levels, possibly much higher, much more consistent, and everything much easier.

It was not until I stopped having dairy products that I realised I was naturally much more clear headed, energetic and positive than I had been for forty years of my life. Now at 47 from what I see on YouTube real videos of the ways animals are treated in dairy farms I understand there are many good reasons to decline dairy products, and I am glad my body told me “no” before I saw the horrid truth. 

Apart from my distaste for dairy and refined sugar, I share something else with Melissa: we were both diagnosed with cancer in the same year. I didn’t know Melissa then. I only knew I wanted to survive, and from the books and research I read I knew that green leafy vegetables, broccoli and garlic were the best way to go in terms of a daily bolster against cancer cells thriving. Surgery, chemo, and yoga training later, teaching and living in Summertown I was excited to see that a new healthy bakers was due to open. I used to work at a bakers, getting up at dawn and baking early, I ate a lot of wheat working there and did not feel too well on it, so I wanted to know what the Modern Baker would have to offer. I watched keenly and on the morning of opening I took in a bunch of flowers, met Melissa, and immediately it was evident that the Modern Baker would be a valued element in the neighbourhood. 

It wasn’t just Melissa’s gorgeous dogs Bo Bo and Silla that kept me returning to the Modern Baker – nicknamed Posh Baker by some, Mobo by others – It was the healthy products, satisfying and nutritious. I learnt to make some of my favourites and now I am delighted to be able to try out the new recipes in the book. I have been teaching regular yoga classes, retreats and workshops for six years now, and I am sure the tasty sourdough loaves, cakes and salads have helped me stay well.

          

In the yogic approach to nutrition, food is defined in three main types: Sun foods, Ground foods and Earth foods. Ayurvedic tradition talks about the need for balance between Vata, Pitta and Kapha to have a healthy system and different types of food reflect these qualities. Sattvic, Rajastic and Tamasic.

Food is categorised as nutritious which gives energy and strength; and sustaining which heals the body and maintains health. Raw foods are required for the fibre and enzymes that help us absorb vitamins and some foods require cooking as then minerals are released and become easier for us to absorb – tomatoes for example.

There are six main flavours: sweet; sour; salty; pungent; bitter and astringent. Each have their own qualities: sweet foods can nourish but can cause mucus and obesity (refined sugar inhibits the chemical in our bodies that signals to us that we are full, and it causes inflammation forming dangerous free radicals in the body); sour foods stimulate appetite; salty foods aid digestion.

Alkaline diet is important for the body which is naturally 75% alkaline. Alkaline foods build nerves, organs, glands and keep them toned. Calm us. Leafy vegetables, fruit, pulses, legumes and lemons are alkaline. Acid foods give bursts of energy, but can cause chronic illness and ageing. Meat, eggs, butter and sweets are acidic, as well as coffee and alcohol.

Trinity roots: garlic can be used to heal gastric, septic, typhus, cholera, bacterial infections and cancer. Stimulates semen production. Onion for earache, colds, fever, laryngitis, cancer, purify blood, balance blood sugar. Ginger digestion, menstrual cramps, nausea, nourishes nerves and helps them carry more energy. Keeps spine and cerebrospinal fluid healthy.

Yogi Bhajan reminds us of the importance of preparing food with love and gratitude, eating in a pleasant environment and eating consciously. To eat when hungry only and not snack, stop before full and rest the digestion once a week. 

Sugar, salt, nicotine,white flour, alcohol and caffeine are not recommended.

Good foods for women are: Ginger, sesame oil, mangoes, aubergine, almond oil, turmeric. For men are: figs, banyan tree milk, nutmeg, saffron, pistachios, pears, plums, ghee, garlic and onions.

That was a quick low-down about how yogis use food. If you would like to know more you can always email me.

A wise Greek* once said “Let your food be your medicine and your medicine be your food” I couldn’t agree more.

*Hippocrates, of course!

Hippocrates also said “The soul is the same in all living creatures, although the body of each is different.”

I recently met a friend who twisted his back a few weeks ago. He’s still stiff, and hunched over because he’s walking with a zimmer. He asked me about stretching exercises to straighten his back, and also about relieving sciatica, which he’d been told he might develop. As it happens, conversation then turned to somebody we know who has arthritis. The 17th Century writer and historian Anthony à Wood observed in his diary one January that:
 
Beginning of this month colds became very frequent, many sick and keep up, colds without coughing or running at the nose, only a languidness, and faintness, certainly Oxford’s no good air.
 
And indeed, Oxford lies in a river valley, has suburbs and roads whose names derive from “marsh” and “ferry”, has a region in the University Parks named Mesopotamia — “between the rivers” — and is cursed with perpetual damp. It must be one of the worst places for arthritis in the UK.
 
So how can yoga help? One of my specialities is aerial yoga, a class I teach on Saturday mornings and Tuesday evenings in the Beat Studio in Summertown. Look at my photos, and in the Aerial Yoga section, you will see people suspended on aerial yoga hammocks. It might look like an activity from the Oxford University Dangerous Sports Society warm-up book; but in fact, it is excellent for making the spine more flexible with supported stretches. It encourages space between the vertebrae with suspended inversions. It increases upper body and core strength with weight bearing exercises, and lifts mood and strengthens the immune system with stimulation of the upper glands – pineal, pituitary, and hypothalamus.
 
You might give it a go and feel the benefits!

You might know someone who raises the vibration of everyone with whom they come into contact (see the picture of Viktoria above). I have met such people and aspire to be like them. One way to move closer to that state is Sadhana. It is a daily spiritual practice. It doesn’t have to be yoga or exercise, it might be that you would paint, write, play music, walk, watch the trees or play with an animal for example. Something where you connect with your Truth.

Sadhana can be done alone or in a group. As a daily personal practice it disciplines the mind and body to let the infinite express itself in the soul. Morning sadhana will cleanse the subconscious. It builds up the inner resources to tap into when needed, it brings us closer to the Infinite. 

Teachers need a regular sadhana for radiance and impact. Also occasionally doing a long term 40-day, 90 or 120 day sadhana will develop specific areas both physically and mentally. Sadhana allows a teacher to go much deeper into practice than when they are demonstrating. 

For strong projection as a teacher, Sadhana gives a light that overcomes inner shadow and a steady level of consciousness which students respond to.

Sadhana alone is a deep personal experience, but group sadhana magnifies the experience. Yogi Bhajan recommends we imagine a million other people chanting alongside us if we practice alone. Group sadhana develops group consciousness. All the auras merge, and if one person tunes into the Infinite all the others present are lifted too. Everyone tunes in more easily to each other during the day.

 

Sadhana, aradhana and prabupati are discipline, attitude and mastery.

Once sadhana becomes an attitude it starts to connect self with Universal Self. So resistance to the constricts of sadhana have gone and it becomes a natural enjoyable activity, so there is more energy for subconscious clearing to speed up.

Prabupati then is the state of neutrality where subconscious has been cleared and there is no block to the link with Source. We can act in the highest consciousness moment by moment with freedom and creativity.

Andalucia

Santillan Retreat 7th – 14th May Prices / Booking / FAQ

 

Prices include all yoga, full catering, accommodation and use of all facilities

Shared Room EURO 975

Single Room EURO 1,220

Junior Suite EURO 1,325

Grand Suite EURO 1,535

(Or GBP equivalent)

Cancellation policy 

The deposit will be refunded only for cancellation made until 30 days before the
date of arrival. The balance is due 10 days prior to the date of arrival.

Arrival

Santillan is about 36 km from Malaga international airport. We will be happy to arrange a taxi transfer your you free of charge; please let us know if you require one.

Check-in

Check-in after 3.30pm. They will need to register your name and passport number, take a swipe of your credit card and give you two room entry swipe cards. No charges will be added to your credit card without your signed approval. 

Check-out

On your departure, please check out of your room by 12.00 noon, and settle all Honesty Bar and extra payments.

Accommodation

All rooms have an ensuite bathroom, with a bath tub and shower, work desk and a balcony or patio with sea or garden/mountain views.

Catering and special diets

Santillan offer breakfast, lunch and dinner. Meals are usually served buffet style.

 The cooks at Santillán enjoy sharing their popular Spanish and Italian influenced healthy cuisine, yet are also able to cater for gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan, dairy-free. They keep free-range chickens, so fresh eggs are available daily.

 Please inform us of any dietary requirements, within reason, well in advance so that we can let Santillan know of your needs.

 Beverages

Still water, caffeinated and non-caffeinated coffee and teas are available 24 hours and are free of charge. There are complimentary soft drinks, wine and beer at dinner on the arrival day and last day of the retreat.

Internet and telephones

There is wifi Internet in all common areas and in most rooms, and dedicated areas for the best cell-phone signal strength and privacy.

Things to bring

Yoga mat and yoga mat towel – Santillan has a state-of-the-art equipped yoga studio, but you may want to bring your own mat towel.

• Beach towel – towels for showers and pool are provided, but you might want your beach towel.

• Swimming things – there is a salt-water pool large enough for comfortable laps and leisure swimming.

• Sunblock

• Walking shoes – or strong sandals are recommended if you want to take advantage of the walks around Molino de Santillan.

• Water bottle – to fill from the water fountains.

Extra Payments

Extras you may need to pay for include any excursions, massage sessions, bar bills, laundry charges and purchases from the boutique.

 There is a self-service ‘Honesty Book’ for soft drinks, beer and wine. Log your purchase in the book and settle at the end of your stay.

To confirm we kindly ask you to pay a deposit of 50% please email for bank details.
 Payments are in EUR (or GBP equivalent) by bank transfer. 

Travel insurance

It is a condition of booking that you take out full travel insurance to cover cancellation, travel costs and other eventualities.

Book now: Stella@theyogabeat.co.uk

                                

A mantra is the creative expression of the mind through sound. ‘Man’ means mind and ‘trang’ means wave.

‘Naam’ means what we vibrate we become. Our identity is formed of our frequency. And ‘Naad’ is the essence, or the centre of all sound. The Naad is the vibrational harmony through which the infinite is experienced, and Naad Yoga is the science of the Naad, how sound vibrations affect the body, mind and spirit through moving the mouth, stimulating the pressure points in the roof of the mouth with the tongue, which affects the chemicals in the brain. There are 84 pressure points in the mouth and they stimulate the pituitary which is connected by blood vessels to the hypothalamus where the chemicals are released that regulate basic functions of hunger, thirst, sleep, temperature, moods and sexuality.

‘Shabd’ means sound current that dissolves ego (ego that creates duality which obscures truth)

‘Shabd Guru’ is the quantum technology of sound that alters our consciousness through the power of Naad, i.e. sound as teacher. The intrinsic wisdom of the sound current.

A Bij mantra is a seed mantra, a seed planted in the unconscious, and within that seed all knowledge of the fully grown tree is contained. Here are some bij mantras:

‘Sat Naam’, Truth is my identity, this balances the five tattvas, it also awakens your soul and gives you your destiny.

‘Aum’, is the sound at the sixth chakra, for intuition and awareness

‘Ham’ is the bij mantra of the fifth chakra at the throat for truth and communication

An Astang mantra has eight parts. The rhythm of the kundalini responds well to the Astang, because kundalini is based on 8 chakra system and the astanga mantra stimulates each of the energy centres as they cover the spectrum of the qualities of the consciousness:

‘God and me, me and god are one’, aligns self with Source

‘Ek Ong Kaar Sat Naam Siri Wahe Guru’, The Creator and all creation are one. This is our true identity. The ecstasy of this wisdom is great beyond words. The first mantra Yogi Bhajan taught us, it is a direct line between you and creation. Awakens kundalini energy and suspends the mind in bliss.

‘Ra, Ma, Da, Sa, Sa, Say, So, Hung’, combines earth (Ra, Ma, Da) and ether (Sa, Say, So, Hung) Sa is the linking word. It works through shushmuna to stimulate the kundalini flow through the eight chakras for healing.

 

Santillan Yoga and Wellness Centre is a world-class yoga centre in Andalucia, initiated by Simon Low of The Yoga Academy

Santillan Centre                 Santillan Centre

This is a retreat for all levels, beginners are welcome, experienced yogis will be able to take advantage of the well-appointed studio with yoga wall,  props and restorative equipment. Chris and I are happy to offer some extra instruction with these.

Santillan has a salt water pool, two studios and yoga wall, paddle tennis, spa and overlooks the sea. 

Temperatures in May are perfect. It is near Seville, Alhambra, Granada and Málaga.

Up to 3 yoga classes each day taught by Chris Leuenberger and Stella Shakerchi, both 500hr RYT Yoga Alliance.

View of the Mediterranean from Santillan

Please join us on this yoga intensive retreat, relaxed and focused, this will be an incredible journey. Stroll to the sea by day, maybe join in with the mantras after dinner and feel amazing as spring turns to summer in the wonderful Andalusian hills.

 

See Yoga Retreat in Spain, 7th – 14th May for booking and travel info

Yoga is technical know-how to bring equilibrium to the body and enable you to experience your Infinite Self.

The word yoga means union or to yoke, as in the union to Infinite Consciousness, or the awareness that you are Infinite Consciousness.

Its benefits are that by working with the body you can keep your mind on a level of consciousness that you choose; you can change the outlook of your mind; you can have the inner experience of Source; it gives your body flexibility and your mind neutrality.

Kundalini Yoga is the technology of awareness. The Kundalini Energy is life energy latent at the base of the spine, which when moved up the spine towards the brain can bring total consciousness; the whole energy of the cosmos; the energy of consciousness; the creative potential of a human.

Kundalini Yoga compares to other forms of yoga in that they are all ways to unify the Self. 

Of the 22 forms of yoga, Jappa, Shakti, Laya, Bhakti, Raja, Hatha and Mantra go to form Kundalini. This combination and their arrangement in each kriya (a set of precise actions that have specific effects) means that kundalini works faster than other yoga. Yogi Bhajan says twelve years of Hatha, plus six years of Raja, plus three years of Mantra, plus one year of Laya is equal to the effects of just one complete year of Kundalini.

The main difference between kundalini and other yoga is that in one kriya you can reach complete physical, mental and spiritual balance. It is practical enough that householders who lead busy lives can practice it and achieve results immediately. 

Kundalini Yoga requires the spark of awareness passed on through the Golden Link to transfer consciousness from person to person.

Also in Kundalini Yoga the teacher does not initiate, it is the yogi’s responsibility to initiate themselves.

The concept of the Golden Link is that the wisdom is being transmitted directly with no interference. Kundalini Yoga requires a teacher in that it is the psyche of the teacher who teaches it. The Golden Chain is the chain of teachers forming a channel where the energy, wisdom and protection of the tradition flow through to students.

Chanting “Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo” links all the teachers by consciousness. The chanting of this mantra at the start of each class protects students and surroundings.

Ong Namo means I call on the creative consciousness

Guru means from dark to light or infinite teacher, the agent of change or catalyst of transformation that awakens spiritual knowledge.

Dev Namo means I call on the subtle wisdom.unknown-20

The Adi Mantra is an ancient yogic mantra which instantly relates the yogi to the divine teacher within, and was used by Guru Ram Das and Yogi Bhajan. Bhajan said the guardian of the Aquarian Age was Ram Das. The Adi Mantra was how Yogi Bhajan stayed connected with his teacher Guru Ram Das, because Adi Mantra is a call that can penetrate through maya and essentially manifest the presence of Guru Ram Das. That way he could stay humble but strong in the knowledge that he was passing on pure Kundalini Yoga.