Redeem yoga against your health insurance!

Brilliant news for Irish Life Health Insurance policy holders; you can now redeem classes with me and any other Yoga Therapy Ireland qualified teacher against your premium!

This is a fantastic recognition by Irish Life of the many proven health benefits of yoga for people of all ages. All you have to do is let me know you’re intending to to claim your yoga classes and I will issue you a receipt to say how many you attended with me. Once you have that you can claim your yoga classes back as a health expense. How handy is that?

For further details check out the handbook issued by Irish Life Health. Hit Ctrl + F and search for “yoga” to spot the relevant details.

http://www.irishlifehealth.ie/site-files/documents/brochures-and-handbooks/Membership-Handbook-Tailored-Health-Plans-1-Dec-2016.pdf?ts=1519404859768

Yoga and Animal Wisdom

Down Dog, Up Dog, Cat, Cow, Hare, RABBIT. 🐶🐱🐮🐰
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Did you ever wonder why the majority of Asana/yoga poses are named after animals?
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Animals are more connected to their bodies than humans. Animals also LIVE IN THE NOW. 
An animal never pauses to rest without stretching before and after. Instinctively they know that they must move their bodies in certain ways to maintain their health and mobility. Humans have forgotten this because we’re so busy projecting into the future we leave our bodies behind. The Medieval Nath order of Yogis, who cultivated many of the asana practices we use today, observed and imitated the movement and rest of animals to inform their yoga practice. The wisdom and symbol of animals is captured in the pose and they are honored with the name.
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3 Most Common Worries for New Yoga Students

It’s so nice to have such a big bright space to teach in – even if I keep the lights off! In my Gentle Hatha Yoga class in @purelight_dance_and_yoga I’m always aiming to create a safe, calm environment for you to explore your body’s range of movement. The key themes in mind for the classes are comfort and pleasure in movement – because yoga is supposed to feel nice!! Top 3 questions I get from new students is:
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Is it suitable for beginners/if I’ve never done yoga?
YES. And it’s suitable for more advanced students who want a meditative led class. Everything i teach is carefully explained and I’m keeping an eye out all the time to make sure you’re alright with everything (without singling anyone out!)
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I’m this age/this body type/this gender, will I make a show of myself? NO. Yoga is for every-body. No one is looking at anyone else in my class. Everything is set up so everyone can concentrate just on themselves. A significant part of the class is spent lying down. Plus (!) my classes tend to have a wide age range and gender mix and the atmosphere is super chill and supportive.
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I’m stiff/can’t touch my toes/not flexible, will i be able to do it? YES. You would be AMAZED by how much progress we see in clients with general stiffness week to week even in a gentle class. A regular gentle class is enough to notice improvement in your flexibility after just a few weeks. Besides yoga is not about flexibility or impressive poses – it’s about showing up and being present with yourself!

Ground.

GROUND. ❤️ After a lovely weekend with lots of people who give me big soppy affectionate feels and time with myself I’m feeling more grounded again. I went for a pedicure with my newly qualified reflexologist pal Aoife and decided to match my Jade mat. Red is the colour of the base chakra and keeps you rooted and secure in your physical body.
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Did you realise your feet are a map of your entire body? Makes taking care of them even more important. I go to Cathy @holisticvillage (who is just amazing!) for reflexology regularly to have any tense spots worked out of my feet and the effect it has is so noticeable.
Working on your feet has the double bonus of restoring full body vitality and grounding you in your physical body. On the rare occasions I can’t get on my mat or need to boost my physical practice I make sure to give my feet some attention by rubbing them with oil or stretching out the tight spots. Try it for yourself the next time you’re feeling tense.

‘Elma is a Yoga Warrior at 64’

I was very proud to see my wonderful teacher trainer, Elma Toland in the Irish Independent this week.
Elma and another warm and inspiring teacher and therapist, Jakki Reid spent 2 years training myself and ten others to teach with the Yoga Therapy Ireland ethos. The focus of that training was solely and consistently fixed on training safe, sensitive and sensible teachers. Forget about publicity and instagram, we barely took a photo for the entire two years while half the class didn’t have social media accounts. (Just as well, I showed up knackered from a week’s work wearing my pajamas most weeks). So it’s particularly nice to see Elma’s teaching being celebrated as it deserves in a national newspaper. You can read the article where Elma (and her husband Patsy!) describe how yoga is for EVERYONE here

James Higgins Yoga Immersion Pt 2

This day last week we finished the James Higgins Immersion at Fumbally! No exaggeration, it was a magical week working through James’s asana alchemy. Finished off nicely by course after course of exquisite Indian food from the Fumbally.
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People often ask why you would continue to go to classes when you have a personal practice. It’s because there is no substitute for having a space held for you and handing over your control to the guidance of a teacher. When someone is a real master of their practice, sitting in silence with them can be enough. The more I practice and the more classes and workshops I attend, I think more and more that what separates a good class from a great class is the sincerity of the teacher’s own practice.

James Higgins Yoga Immersion Pt 1

This week I’m on the James Higgins Yoga Immersion in Fumbally Stables. The word honored is a bit corny, but that’s how I feel in the class. The focus in that room is like nothing you’ve ever experienced, under James lead everyone practices internally but together in perfect concentration and harmony for 4 hours.
I have always been a gentle yogini. My practice is for healing – fitness, flexibility… that’s just a by product. So I (ignorantly) avoided strong practice over 5 years. Then I went to a class with Keith Tracey at a YTI retreat and I realised that, taught well and sincerely, strong practice is healing and a transformative lesson in trust. I travelled an hour each way for 10 weeks to attend Keith’s class and with that help built so much confidence and a stronger practice.
At the same time, I signed up for a workshop with James. I was mortified when I had to sit 6 inches from him. I was rigid with the fear I would not be able to keep up. But I did, because in that space James holds doubt falls away and strength takes its place. At the end James asked me if Ashtanga was my practice (one of the strongest styles of yoga) and I laughed my head off. I hadn’t realised it yet but my body was healed.

 

Juggle, Balance, Sleep, Repeat – Meditation in real-life!

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Photo by Alan Rowlette a representation of me balancing my hectic life and serenely rising above all drama and obstacles… NATTTT. I am starting to realise that from the outside it looks like I am a bit of a little miss productivity. To be honest, it’s very difficult to keep up with everything all the time and I relish occasional moments when film work dries up and i have time to myself. I get TOTALLY OVERWHELLLLLLMMMMMMED now and again and then I remind myself, or my teachers remind me, do one. thing. at. a. time. Then just keep going!
It seems mad to most people that with a very long day ahead of me I voluntarily get up early to practice yoga and meditation every morning. But it’s what makes everything possible.
Taking that time to connect with myself and my higher purpose before I do anything else helps me in so many ways and I’m still learning!
1) Time to notice physical needs and imbalances and adjust accordingly – food, exercise, sleep, water, tense areas, breathing patterns.
2) Consistent refreshing sleep – meditation and yoga develops your ability to consciously put yourself to sleep.
3) Better boundaries – when I’m practicing and strongly connected to myself it’s much easier (although still challenging!) to say “that’s not me, that’s you” and accept that I don’t have to please *everybody* and that’s ok.
4) Better concentration – meditation and yoga give you more space in your brain box to concentrate on the task at hand and stay in the present moment, that way it’s easier to complete tasks efficiently.

Cultivating the enjoyment in your body

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Oh my legs… for so many years they took such a beating from my negativity, too fat, too white… ugh, gasp, cringe they even grow hair!!! I thought that was really normal but it just became another reason to disconnect from my body. The greatest gift I have gotten out of all of this… was just to feel what it was like to live in my body. To come down out of my head and just feel. At first it felt horrible, heavy, uncomfortable, of course it was so neglected. But I stuck with it and stuck with it and now I wake up most mornings and just feel the softness and the strength and the just being of my legs and it’s magic. They’re no skinnier or more tan, they’re definitely still growing hair but when you can enjoy them from the inside none of that matters. I want so much for other people to get that. I want so much for everyone to leave my class thinking how cool and lovely and soft and strong their body is.

Looking at these photos from shooting today with Alan Rowlette while stuffing my face with alpro ice cream straight out of the tub is a bit surreal! Ugly duckling me is like “who is that?!?!” Had the best time shooting with Alan in Killruddery, we had a great time collaborating on research, scouting and styling the shoot and I’m so happy with the results!
What’s even more surreal than my ice cream eating habits is to look at these photos of myself and remember that I went to my first yoga classes asking “can I sit at the back? Is it dark in the room? Will anyone be looking at me?” I was so not myself at that time, I wore these horrible baggy (corduroy?) leggings and one of my dad’s thick jumpers. The only way I could get out of my head was to be in that class as anonymous as possible, lying in my back in the dark, with all the people who were recovering from hip operations and arthritis. I was so wound up, so freaked out, I couldn’t bare for my vulnerability to be seen. In my wildest dreams I would not have set foot in a Dublin yoga studio wearing a sports bra because I was so ashamed of this shell of a person I had become all of a sudden. And now here I am. That experience of yoga has made me the most compassionate teacher I am capable of being because I actually get it. I completely get it. And I know first hand how to get back to being the person you were before all that bullshit happened to you. That to me is more valuable than getting anyone into a handstand.

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