Satya, the second Yama is intimately connected with Ahimsa, because it builds on the premise that dishonesty is a form of harm. Satya teaches us not to lie – to others or to ourselves. We know instinctively that lying doesn’t lead to anything good – it destroys relationships, trust, makes us anxious and uncomfortable. And yet we turn to lies because of the pressure we often believe we’re under – to be perceived more successful, to appear better, to pretend we have more. Part of Satya is about letting go of those expectations and finding acceptance in your heart towards where you are now. Accepting the things we like about ourselves and those we don’t. The beautiful truths and those not so pretty. Yoga teaches us that we need to accept where we are even when we’re trying to change.
Satya is also about finding your truth – your goal, your purpose in life, your calling, whatever you want to call it, it is that thing that makes you you, that drives you forwards, that leaves the mark in the world.
So much in yoga is about listening to that inner voice, connecting with that internal wisdom. We work towards quietening our minds to hear that voice and open up to its guidance. If your mind is busy chattering, it’s as if you were in a room full of people speaking loudly – it is impossible to distinguish one voice form another, let alone hear the soft, subtle whisper of your internal truth. The more you go out of the thinking and focus inwards, the more sensitive you will become to that guiding voice, to its advice that comes from the place of love and oneness.
As in our asana practice, the practice of Satya may initially feel uncomfortable, difficult and even unachievable. But yoga gives us tools. We have our breath, we have the focus. Living your truth can be extremely liberating, but getting to that point is rarely easy. And as in asana, sometimes we may fall, but it doesn’t mean we don’t try again. And again. And again, until it feels comfortable and easy and light. Full of space and joy. And then you know it was worth it.
Because once you have experienced that truth, that oneness, that connections to the source, everything changes. The priorities shift. You have seen the light. It cannot be unseen.
You become aware of your true calling, of your purpose in life, whatever it may be. And you know you can safely let go of the past. You’ve connected to your truth and now it’s time to start living it.
This month I have dedicated most of my classes to exploring Ahimsa – Non Violence.
In Yoga Sutras by Patanjali he guides us through different elements or ways to live a yogic life – he called it 8 Limbs Of Yoga, and surprisingly for some, the physical asana practice doesn’t come first on that list.
Patanjali started with Yamas and Niyamas – a yogic code of conduct, ethical and moral guidelines on how we should live our lives to achieve the true yogic strength, power, and transformation, on and off the mat.
Ahimsa – the first of 5 yamas (and the most important one) is often translated as non-violence or non-harm.
Do no harm. It is in fact the most important practice of yoga and everything else stems from it.
It guides our attention to more mindful choices in our life – looking at our actions, words and thoughts – from our ways of interacting with others, the way we speak to ourselves internally, the way we treat our environment etc. And while we don’t tend to think of ourselves as violent, causing harm doesn’t end at physical offences…
Do you remember the last time you were stuck in traffic? Or driving behind someone who most likely got their licence by pure luck? Or when you were trying some clothes on and they didn’t fit properly – what words did you use in your thought looking at your own reflection in the mirror? Think about all those choices and how easy it is to fall into negative behaviour patterns.
And while we cannot eliminate all harm from the world (life is rarely black and white, sometimes we need to chose between two evils), Ahimsa teaches us to consider the impact of our actions, words and thoughts and chose the way that is causing the least amount of harm and suffering.
This month I encourage my students to be kinder to themselves and others. To cause less harm and create more compassion. To practice Ahimsa as they would a yoga pose or a transition. It may not work out every time you try, but it doesn’t stop you to try it again.
Some of my students have asked me to write about my favourite yoga leggings brands here.
With well over 100 pairs (I know, I know… really bad!) I actually don’t have one favourite brand. Instead there are a few brands that I am loyal to – they have never failed me. I’m always on the lookout for new brands too.
The most important features for me of best yoga pants are:
- Not see through – so many times you try the most amazing looking yoga pants, you bend forward, look in the mirror between your legs and see your underwear. So disappointing.
- Comfortable – 4-ways stretch, limited stitching (and if there is stitching it needs to stretch well too)
- High waist – being a fan of inversions, I like to keep the tummy covered, also when upside down! 🙂
- Breathable & fast drying
- Being able to stand the test of time without stretching or going see through.
Here are my top 5 brands:
- Dharma Bums
- First of all this brand is all about being ethical – Dharma Bums insists on an ethical code of conduct from the companies that make the product. Each Dharma Bum garment is made onshore in Australia and has the stamp of approval from Ethical Australia.
- They have several lengths available, but I always go for full length (27 inches inside leg, long enough for the tallest of yogis).
- Most beautiful prints ever 🙂
- They are made from a thin (great for a sweaty class), high performance fabric that feels really soft and nice against the skin.
- They have a four way stretch which means pants move with the body.
- The seams have a flat lock detailing for extra durability and comfort.
- They are moisture wicking, breathable and quick drying.
- High waistband for extra support.
- Yoga Leggs
- UK based brand – you buy from lovely ladies – Amanda and Bekki 🙂
- Those pants are made of high quality and very soft, supportive fabric (bit thicker than DB)
- Breathable, moisture-wicking and antibacterial fabric
- Yogaleggs are lightweight, silky soft and super comfortable.
- Made of stretch fabric which is drying super quick.
- Only£45 and for a 20% off use code thanks20 at the checkout
- I love their Salar pants – the fabric is quite thick, so may not be best for your super sweaty practice.
- Offer great support and quite strong comression
- Little hidden pocket but no zips (common in running pants, but for yoga best avoided)
- 4 way stretch – move with you through asanas!
- Great for wearing outside of the yoga studio 🙂
Enjoy the shopping 🙂
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In August and September you can find me at the following venues:
Downdog + Crow Yoga Studio http://www.downdogcrow.co.uk/ 5 Park Street, Woodstock, OX20 1SJ T: 01993 810 011 M: 07980 623 925
Mondays 7.30-8.30 pm (60 min) – Vinyasa Flow
Sundays 10.00-11.00 am (60 min) – Chakra Vinyasa Flow
(Booking required: here)
The Yoga Barn http://www.theyogabarnstudio.co.uk/ Rainsborough Barns, Charlton, Banbury, Oxfordshire OX17 3DT, Call to book: 07714248177 or use Mind Body App
Thursdays 19.00-20.00 pm (60 min)
Additional classes in August and September 2017:
19.08.2017 Saturday Downdog + Crow Woodstock 10.00-11.00am (Vinyasa Yoga)
20.08.2017 Sunday Champneys Tring SPA 5.00-6.00pm- with Dash Fitness
22.08.2017 Tuesday Eynsham Hall Hotel, North Leigh, Witney 7.00-8.30pm (Vinyasa Yoga)
26.08.2017 Saturday David Lloyds Oxford 9.00-9.50am (Vinyasa Yoga)
29.08.2017 Saturday David Lloyds Oxford 5.05-6.00pm (Vinyasa Yoga)
29.08.2017 Tuesday Eynsham Hall Hotel, North Leigh, Witney 7.00-8.30pm (Vinyasa Yoga)
12.08.2017 Tuesday Eynsham Hall Hotel, North Leigh, Witney 7.00-8.30pm (Vinyasa Yoga)
19.08.2017 Tuesday Eynsham Hall Hotel, North Leigh, Witney 7.00-8.30pm (Vinyasa Yoga)
Private classes available at clients’ location – from only £45 per 60 min class!
Any questions? Email: email@example.com
I spent a lot of time researching and trying out different yoga mats before I have found the perfect one!
I currently have 5 favourite models, I use them for different practices and occasions, as listed below. Each and every of the mats listed below have been tried in different conditions and below is my honest summary:
- Phantai (£80) – I use this mat for my everyday vinyasa practice at the studio and can honestly say this is the best mat I have EVER practiced on.
- It is super grippy – in both the regular and hot yoga practice – no need to use a towel! With this mat you won’t experience any sliding hands and feet in your Downward Facing Dog 🙂
- It is bigger than most mats available,
- Jade Harmony (£65) – I use this mat for my regular vinyasa practice at the studio.
- It can get pretty sweaty in the room, but this mat gives me a great grip even in a sweaty practice.
- The mat is quite small (173 cm long, 61 cm wide) and light enough to carry it around, if you cannot leave your mat at the studio. However, if you are very tall, there is a longer version available.
- 4.7mm thickness gives a nice solid support for knees and wrists, without making it unstable to balance on (but go for something thicker if you have serious knees / wrists aches!).
- Additional benefit is that Jade Yoga mats are made sustainably with natural rubber tapped from rubber trees, a renewable resource and unlike other mats does not contain PVC, EVA or other synthetic rubber.
- The rubber is made with open-cell technology and it absorbs moisture really well – but use a towel on top in your hot practice, otherwise the mat may take forever to dry!
- It is not cheap (£65), but it is cheaper than some of my other favourites 🙂
- The only downside I can think of is that using this mat several times per week in the past 12 months it began to show some signs of wear – especially in the feet area – while the durability is still good when compared to many other brands, this mat doesn’t last a life time.
- Manduka Pro (£85) – Another of my favourite mats. I use it for teaching and my home practice.
- It has the best durability ever. This mat will last you a lifetime (or two). After a year of daily practice it hardly shows any signs of wear. Its technology ensures high the mat will not peel, flake or fade. In fact this mat gets better with use over time.
- The durability comes at a price though – you will need to spend £85 – but it is once a lifetime cost, so overall a good value for money
- It is wonderfully thick, yet supportive (very dense and not spongy) – 6mm is perfect for the comfort of knees and wrists.
- This mat is also longer (180 cm) and wider (66 cm) than some of the others.
- The thickness and size also comes at a price – the mat is super heavy (3.4kg), so best to leave it at the studio, if you can 🙂
- It has closed-cell surface to keep moisture and sweat from seeping into the mat and breeding bacteria, but it means that it can be a bit slippery in a hot room.
- 100% latex free.
- YogaMad Warrior Plus (£25) – This was my first yoga mat and is a perfect entry to mid level mat:
- It is super thick, soft, yet supportive – 6mm thickness is absolutely perfect for those with painful wrists, knees or bony backs 🙂
- It has a decent grip in the dry room (I personally wouldn’t recommend it for hot practice) and nice, soft surface,
- It is very light (1.1kg) and perfect to carry around with you.
- It is also very affordable – you can buy it online for ~£25 – and it will be £25 well spend.
- It comes in beautiful sky blue or fiery orange patterns
- Liforme (£100) – very beautiful, great grip
- The mat provides a nice cushioned (4.2mm) and yet solid and stable practising surface (but again if you have knees / wrists issues go for 6mm).
- It is one of the grippiest mat on the market, by far (at least considering the dy grip, as I have not used it for hot yoga).
- This mat is water-absorbent and dries fairly quickly.
- The Liforme yoga mat is a few inches wider and longer than other yoga mats, which comes in handy especially if you are tall! Despite the size it is still fairly light (2.5kg)
- It comes with the unique asana alignment guide etched into the surface – can be helpful for home practice,
- Liforme Yoga Mat is also planet friendly.
- It comes with its own carry-bag (but it is more expensive than other mats, so for the difference in price you could probably get a bag for the others).
I hope you find this guide helpful.
Please do let me know if you have any questions or would like to discuss which mat will be the best to get for your practice.
In case if you need more info, here is another great review (ant the results are very aligned with my observations) http://www.reviews.com/best-yoga-mat/
Each of us perceives reality through the filter of a personal self, an “I” that is unique in the world, thanks to the unique experiences we’ve had since birth. We rely on “I” to be able to navigate through everyday situations, not realizing how limiting “I” actually is. It’s fair to say that few people realize how unstable and distorted their sense of self is. To begin with, each of us filters out an enormous portion of the input we receive at a given moment.
Part of the filtering is unavoidable–human eyesight is limited to the visible wavelengths between ultraviolet and infrared, human hearing between the frequencies of 20 and 20,000 Hz (vibrations per second). In cosmic terms the visible universe, along with the universe detectable with scientific instruments, is a fraction of the total matter and energy in creation–perhaps as little as 1% to 4% depending on how “dark” matter and energy are computed, along with invisible interstellar dust.
On the personal level, the human brain has all kinds of limitations, including its dependence of a macro level of space, time, matter, and energy. At other levels of nature, including the quantum, ordinary clock time, the familiar three dimensions of space, the solidity of physical matter, and so on change entirely and at a certain point disappear. The fact that “something came out of nothing” during the big bang destabilizes common sense reality in radical ways.
Most of our filtering, however, occurs as a result of the experiences we assimilate all our lives. A collection of past wounds, conditioning, and beliefs forces us to go into denial about ourselves and the world around us. The phobic who is deathly afraid of spiders seems extreme, but every strongly held belief shuts out other viewpoints, and in the process the world we don’t want to see becomes invisible. The input we receive as raw information might not be entirely suppressed, but it still gets examined in the process of interpreting what’s happening to us. At a crude level, we interpret every experience as good or bad, hurtful or pleasurable, something we like or dislike, etc. Depending on how judgmental you are, you fall somewhere between extremely close-minded and extremely open-minded. Depending on how empathetic you are, you fall somewhere between compassionate and cruel.
Once we take into account the ways that “I” gets shaped–through filtering, interpretation, beliefs, memories, and all types of social conditioning–it’s inescapable that “I” is a rickety structure that we ourselves didn’t build of our own free will. With most people, “I” reflects forces outside their control since birth. Still, we all defend “I” and go to great lengths to identify with it. But a closer examination reveals that “I” doesn’t have a secure perch on reality, because instead of a stable structure, the self is constantly bounding around. At a minimum we have three versions of “I”:
The outward self: This is the social persona, which you identify with if your focus is on socially-approved things like money, career, the right neighborhood, an impressive house, etc. “I” is attached to labels that relate to those things, so that “WASP surgeon with a Park Avenue practice, a socialite wife, and a major portfolio” defines a very different self than “Latino working-class single mother living on food stamps.”
The private self: This is who you are behind closed doors. The private self identifies with feelings and relationships. The values that matter most include a happy marriage, satisfying sex life, children to love and be proud of, etc. On the downside are the private trials and miseries that come into every life. “I” is attached to the hopes and fears of everyday existence, which for some people means an existence of insecurity, anxiety, depression, and dashed hopes that seem inescapable.
The unconscious self: This is the self we do not know in waking life. It is governed by instincts and drives that most of us don’t want to bring to light. At its most menacing, the unconscious self has been called “the shadow,” where the worst human traits of anger, violence, envy, revenge, and deep-seated existential fear reside. “I” can be attached to two different projects: keeping the dark side of the unconscious self hidden or converting it to the light. Artists, musicians, and poets do the latter. They approach the unconscious self not as a fearful domain but as a source of creativity waiting to be born.
On any given day, that the one thing we cannot live without—a self—is shifting and unreliable. We may not be aware of it, but we are constantly changing our loyalties. The external self claims us at work or enjoying ourselves at a party or buying a new house. The private self claims us in matters of the heart, in moments of depression and anxiety, and in our family life. The unconscious self does whatever it wants to, and hard as we try to keep it at bay, everyone knows the experience of sexual appetite, raging fury, and nightmares—perhaps nightmares are our purest encounters with the dark side of the unconscious.
The world’s wisdom traditions have seen through the illusion of a stable, reliable, realistic “I” and unmasked it as a grossly imperfect guide through life. In its place we need to identify with what is often referred to as a higher self, which is independent of the random forces, inner and outer, that distort reality.
The higher self is the self that aspires to rise above everyday conflicts and confusion. Experience tells us that the other versions of the self—the outward, private, and unconscious self—are constantly in conflict. This is why civilization is so discontented, to use Freud’s term. Eruptions from the unconscious bring war, crime, and violence. Private misery overshadows public success. The arts point to immense possibilities for creativity, but too few people are able to take advantage of them. In the world’s wisdom traditions, the struggle between so many conflicts can’t be won at the level of struggle. “I” must surrender every claim of the ego, whether public or private, to seek a higher state of consciousness.
For most people, this analysis leads to an untenable conclusion, because it seems inconceivable to give up the everyday “I” for a higher self that may be simply a fantasy, a product of mysticism, a religious tenet, or simply wishful thinking. Standing against this doubt and skepticism are centuries of descriptions from seekers, safes, saints, and spiritual teachers who validate that the higher self, far from being alien, is the core or true self, the source of consciousness. The choice to encounter your higher self is always open. At the very least, we need to be clear about the present situation. The “I” we take for granted is deeply flawed, and therefore we don’t really know who we are.