Your Shining Vulnerability

Last month I attended a wonderful seven day iRest Yoga Nidra retreat in Melbourne with Anne Douglas and Fuyuko Toyota. They are such wonderful teachers indeed – a beautiful experience. About half way through there was rich discussion on being vulnerable. It stirred up a lot of emotions for me and I spent much of the next 24 hours writing and journaling. Eventually, a poem arrived … I thought I’d share it …

Your Shining Vulnerability

Your being vulnerable is a gift
Offering me a world of compassion.
Warm gratitude indeed,
For your willingness to reveal and open yourself.
Your heart transparent and clear;
True, strong, resilient and natural.

And there is a kindness here arising for myself,
Who for countless lost years has suppressed vulnerability;
Closed off, fearful of judgment, rejection and abandonment.
Now I see – this is no fault of mine,
Just another story visiting.

Your being vulnerable is a shining, generous light.
Now trust begins to blossom,
And a permission is quietly arising
To open to what I have hidden for so long.

Ah … this light … is a lover of love!
And the silence inside is magnified a thousand times.
With humility, awe, and a tender presence,
I am with you.

PRESS RELEASE: Introducing Our New Yoga Teacher Training

Yoga Teacher Trainig websiteFour highly experienced yoga teachers have joined together to create the Centre for Contemporary Yoga Studies, based in Remuera. With over 80 years of yoga practice and teaching experience between them, Dyana, Karla, Neal and Vincent co-founded the centre with one key aim – to deliver excellence in all their classes, workshops and courses.

First Training Course Starts 26th September!

Together they designed, developed and presented 12 yoga teacher training courses over the past three years, a combination of 200-Hour and 300-Hour programs with Yoga Alliance accreditation. The 130 trainees from those courses have provided glowing testimonials, and the teachers are now known throughout the yoga community for these highly regarded programs.

Dyana Wells
Vincent Bolletta
Karla Brodie
Neal Ghoshal

Dyana Wells explains, “We have the same teachers with the same unique style of training, plus a new dedicated studio space. The centre enables us to provide a ‘whole school’ approach, which we were unable to do when the trainings were run in other locations. We now take responsibility for the quality, direction and vision of all aspects of the trainings.”

New initiatives run alongside the training courses, including year-long mentoring, professional development workshops, private tuition and up to 15 yoga classes each week.

Young professionals in the 25-45 year-old demographic are strongly represented in the yoga teacher training courses, while everyone from 16 to 60 is welcome alongside them.

Karla and Neal regularly teach with Donna Farhi, including training spells across the Tasman. Dyana has a long association with Wellpark College, and is well known for disappearing on month-long retreats in places like Canada. Vincent is a frequent traveller too, a regular at conferences and yoga therapy workshops overseas, which includes tutoring 200-hour training in China.

Neal Ghoshal says, “I feel incredibly privileged to be part of the Yoga teacher training courses. These indepth and inspiring courses are designed to grow not only students’ skills in teaching Yoga but also to develope a deep and life-long love of the practice. I feel honoured to be part of such an experienced and professional teaching team. These are the courses I wish I had taken when I first embarked on my Yoga Teacher journey.”

Vincent Bolletta adds that the Centre’s collective philosophy is “to establish a professionally run educational facility that offers both excellence in learning as well as providing a supportive environment that assists the journey of all students.”

The ‘whole school’ approach also extends to ‘whole person yoga’, a step on from the recent mind-body emphasis.

Karla Brodie explains: “Studying with my current mentor and teacher Donna Farhi has attuned me into practice that is nourishing, embodied and steeped in kindness. That kindness extends to my self, to all of my body systems, and to all of my cells. It’s a joy to share yoga practice that is kind, nourishing and eternally interesting.”

If you’re interested in getting right down to the DNA of yoga, perhaps the Centre is the place for you.

Emma, from Adelaide, had this to say:

Recently, I had the honour of being taught and guided by Neal Ghoshal on a teacher training program. His gentle manner was only eclipsed by his breadth of experience and knowledge in the art of being a Yogi.

Full Info & Bookings >>

The Eight Essentials of Restorative Yoga

Supported Reclined Bound Angale Pose - Salamba Supta Baddha KonasanaA few years ago I enrolled on my second Yoga Teacher Training course for a year at the Yoga Academy Auckland – I was on a mission to learn more about this practice and to equip myself with as much knowledge as I could. If I was going to teach Yoga, then I wanted to be good at it.

About half way through the year, course tutor Jude Hynes gave us a new practice, brought out some Yoga bolsters from the cupboard and introduced us to the wonderful world of Restorative Yoga.

In the first pose Jude gave us – Supported Bridge Pose, I was lying back over the length of the bolster so that most of my body was on the bolster, but my head and shoulders on the floor. An effortless bridge pose. I can still remember this experience: the exact moment when I felt a true relaxation response* deep within me. Tension melting, my body softening, a delicious sort of resting – along with an insight that something very important for me had just occurred.

It was clear right then that Restorative Yoga was most definitely a practice I wanted to explore further. Luckily at the Yoga Academy there was already a teacher specialising in Restorative Yoga – Karla Brodie, and I spent many sessions learning from her, studying with her and we became wonderful friends. We now work together regularly on teacher training programs and retreats. Karla, like our teacher and mentor Donna Farhi, is always developing her approach, enquiring and learning.

In Restorative Yoga we use props such as blankets, bolsters, chairs, sandbags, eye bags and more to support us in our practice. We spend time and care setting up these props so that when we practice they support us fully and we may profoundly relax. Restorative Yoga has it’s background in the work of BKS Iyengar who has pioneered the use of props to help support the body in Yoga postures. Other Iyengar style teachers such as Judith Lasater have evolved the practice and written extensively on Restorative Yoga. Judith Lasater’s Relax and Renew is an indispensable resource for anyone wishing to know more (see resources below).

Whilst our culture promotes a never ending amount of doing, Restorative Yoga is the radical, counter-cultural experience of simply being.

Legs Up The Wall - Viparita KaraniIt’s no surprise then that my Restorative Yoga sessions are my most popular classes. I regularly run “The Big Relax”, 2½ hours of Restorative bliss – it always books out and the only reason I don’t take more people is because floor space is limited. In regular classes, a Restorative posture or two as an ease down towards Savasana is always greeted with wonderful enthusiasm by students. And in my daily life I have found that practicing just one Restorative pose each day, even if it’s just for ten minutes, brings a valuable balance to my busy life (Legs Up The Wall, Viparita Karani, is a favourite).

Restorative Yoga is Counter Cultural

Our culture is built on how productive we can be, how much we can achieve and keep achieving. It can feel as if nothing is ever enough. We can even observe this within the Yoga community itself. As a teacher I often witness the striving for a bigger practice, a more “advanced” practice, the strain to push the body towards extreme positions, and students ignoring the pain that comes with such a practice. I’ve been there myself – in the first few years of my Yoga I pushed my body into postures I saw in books (which had titles such as ‘Learn Yoga In A Weekend’), demonstrated by yogis with an alarming degree of flexibility.

Whilst our culture promotes a never ending amount of doing, Restorative Yoga is the radical, counter-cultural experience of simply being. Yes – there is the effort required to turn up for the practice, to engage in practice, but essentially it is a process of surrendering, an active letting go, of yielding. Which leads us to our first essential point:

1. Yielding

To yield is to surrender. In Restorative Yoga we actively (i.e. consciously) surrender our tension to the force of gravity. We keep relaxing and softening throughout the practice. It is, in fact, a delightful process because for most of us letting go of tension brings great relief to our body and mind. Due to this yielding being an active process, Restorative Yoga is not about collapsing into each posture, as we might slump into an old armchair. Instead, yielding allows us to be in a clear and dynamic relationship with our environment, so that we are very present to this softening of stress and tension, present to what may be revealed from letting go. Indeed, Yoga may be seen as a practice of revelation – by practicing Yoga we reveal what is obscured by our stress – a lighter, softer, more energised, clearer, heart-centered Self. [Read more…]

Moving Towards Our True Nature

Neal GhoshalI have been studying the the iRest approach to Yoga Nidra recently and in the teaching manual, founder and teacher Richard Miller talks about the qualities of our true nature:

Loving, Kindness, Presence, Unconditional, Peaceful, Friendliness, Unattached, Happy, Joyfulness, Faith, Trusting, Transparency, Mindfulness, Responsive, Purity, Truthfulness, Contentment, Luminous, Powerful, Knowing, Full, Empty, Tender, Spontaneous, Authentic, Creative, Intimate, Complete, Aware (and more).

Who would not want these qualities to fill our lives? In fact, they are already present with us (we are always whole) – we can witness kind acts, friendliness, ease, creativity etc. as everyday happenings. We are not so separate from our true nature as we may sometimes believe.

[Read more…]

Chinese Symbol For Presence

The Chinese symbol for presenceI recently took an early morning private group for yoga here on Waiheke at the Marae. It was a very beautiful start to a few days … practicing as the sun was rising, casting a beautiful light on the ocean shore just down from where we were. We’re blessed on Waiheke to have a lovely Marae right on the beach!

One of the students, Eileen was inspired to give me a Chinese symbol which beautifully represents the senses, the heart and presence. I thought I would post it up here … hope you enjoy it!

Blessings (and thank you Eileen),

Neal

Feeding and looking after India’s homeless and destitute … inspirational

Narayanan Krishnan brings hot meals daily to India’s homeless and destitute. Since 2002, the chef has served more than 1.2 million meals through his nonprofit organization, Akshaya Trust.

For me, this is an example of yoga in action … enjoy and be inspired …

Tapas – The Fire For Your Practice

In the Yoga Sutras, the sage Patanjali gave us the eight limbs of  yoga – practices which support us in our spiritual development. The second limb, called The Niyamas, guide us in ways to look after our personal well-being. They are – Saucha (purity), Santosha (Contentment), Tapas (The Fire Of Your Practice), Svadhyaya (Self Sudy) and Ishvara Pranidhana (Surrender To Spirit).

Tapas - generating the fire for your practiceTapas (Yoga Sutra 2.43) – may be literally translated as Heat, but I like to think of it as The Fire For Your Practice. It is the effort, the spiritual fire needed for practice, to step on to your yoga mat, every day (or week, or into some form of formal spiritual practice, whatever that is). One cannot truly be in practice without the necessary endeavour to turn up to it. In this sense it is the discipline to practice. Here are a couple of interesting quotes:

“It has been said that if you do not have discipline, it is like trying to walk without legs. You cannot obtain liberation without discipline.” Chogyam Trunpa

“The discipline to be a free spirit.” Gabrielle Roth

[Read more…]

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