Pistoia - Uva San Giovese

Tuscan Sunshine

[Image © Fototeca ENIT / Gino Cianci]

 

September sunshine in Italy…

Gentle morning meditation to ease you into the day…

Restorative, nurturing and nourishing yoga practices to bring a deep sense of ease and relaxation…

But that’s not all – the retreat that I’ve been invited to teach – Unplug & Unwind – at the beautifully restored Watermill in Posara, offers so much more.

As well as the fully inclusive offering, (yoga, meditation, food and drink), wine tasting is also included.

The programme has been created to satisfy the needs of all who attend – those taking the yoga and meditation, and non-participating partners too! Something for everyone!

To find out more on the itinerary and the venue itself, please take a moment to visit: Unplug & Unwind

Read More

shutterstock_78083881

Integration & Touch

Today was the day I earmarked for some much-needed self-care. We read about it and we understand that ultimately, if this vehicle we call our body, is to continue to serve us, we need to pay it attention from time-to-time.

 

Yoga and meditation are two ways that I engage in self-care and have done for more than half a lifetime now. But I also schedule regular ‘maintenance’ with a brilliant chiropractor / cranio-sacral / magic wand kind of stuff.

 

Today I needed something different. There was this small, yet persistent voice within which was saying “what about me.” Much of our focus tends to be on fixing – this isn’t working the way it was / should / ought to…I know someone that can help me fix it. And that creates a fragmented approach mentally as well as emotionally towards our bodies.

 

Aspects of our being get ‘left out’. Hence the little voice wanting to be nourished.

 

It’s well-known amongst my groups that I have a long-term pelvis misalignment coupled with chronic pain, and yet my back consists of more than simply my pelvis and it was this that needed to feel some sense of integration again.

 

Here’s the beauty of having the likes of Kate Codrington on hand. No ordinary woman with magical massage hands, no. She can take the abstract descriptions of explaining little cells with inner voices and lack of integration coupled with inner conflict with the feminine and draw all the threads together to bring about a wonderful bio-dynamic massage that enabled my body to feel heard as well as held.

Often (in my experience), massage is something that is ‘imposed’ upon the body. The therapist has generally learned a routine and can focus on ‘problem areas’ with a lesser or greater degree of skill.

But that’s just it…it’s an imposition. There’s no room for choice.

 

Don’t get me wrong – there’s a time and a place for this approach and on the whole it tends to serve those who are in need of a generalised body treatment.

 

Those of us who are going through transitions (and this encompasses the whole process of physical, emotional, mental and spiritual), there’s a point where something more is required.

 

I am very blessed to have the likes of Kate to call upon with a willing ear which is every bit as important as capable hands.

 

“Touch is the chronological and psychological Mother of the Senses. In the evolution of sensation, it was undoubtedly the first to come into being. It is, for instance, rather well developed in the ancient single cell amoebae. All the other special senses are actually exquisite sensitizations of particular neural cells to particular kinds of touch: compressions of air upon the ear drums, chemicals on the nasal membrane and taste buds, photons on the retina…Touch, more than any other mode of sensation, defines for us our sense of reality.”

[Deane Juhan]

 

Kate also combines her magical skills with those of Leora Leboff and together they offer workshops for women – Love Your Belly. They have their next one scheduled for Sunday 10 July.

 

Click the image below to find out more.

 

Love-your-Belly-1024x325

Read More

toast

Buttered Side Down

“Two friends are making breakfast. One of them, while buttering his toast, says, “Have you ever noticed that when you drop your toast on the floor it always lands butter-side down?” The other replies, “I don’t think that’s true. I think it probably just seems that way because you remember the mess.” The first one then says, “Okay – watch this,” and lets the toast fall. When it lands butter-side up, the second one says, “See, I told you it doesn’t always happen.” The first one responds, “No, I know what happened, I just buttered the wrong side.”

This may sound silly, but is it really any sillier than the more serious thoughts we entertain and often believe wholeheartedly as the truth? While this man’s belief about dropping toast doesn’t cause any harm, many of the thoughts we cling to do – both to ourselves and to others. In fact, what blocks genuine happiness the most is being caught in the thinking mind – lamenting about the past or worrying about the future. Or, as in the man’s belief about the buttered toast, we can see how our beliefs act like radar; what we perceive is determined by what we’re believing and looking for. Living in our heads, the ground of all our judgments, fears, and limiting beliefs, creates a self-centered narrowness and is a prescription for unhappiness.”

[Beyond Happiness – The Zen Way to True Contentment / Ezra Bayda / Shambhala 2010]

I shared this reading in this week’s Women’s Wisdom class. Often, in both the yoga and meditation sessions, I invite an awareness of the thoughts we are having – in the present moment. Not to only notice them, but to be aware of whether they are focused more on past events or if they are pulling you into speculating about the future.

This is a continual process and therefore becomes a theme from time-to-time in my teaching.

 

FullSizeRender (1)

Whilst on the subject of teaching, the picture above shows the semi-inflated pilates balls I used in Tuesday’s yoga class. I love the support and gentleness that they offer. This week we were concerned with freeing up around the backs of the shoulders and mid-spine, as well as getting playful in finding freedom within the pelvis too.

It has been remarked that my yoga sessions are different. This would ordinarily have spiked a dialogue in my head as to whether different meant good-different or bad-different. I’m no longer concerned with working that one out. What I am concerned with is offering ways of finding liberation within the body, as after all, that’s what the practice of yoga (and meditation) is about.

Which leads me on to reminding you of upcoming classes and a workshop that’s planned:

Women’s Wisdom: Next course begins Tuesday 17 May and you can secure your place here

Meditation & More: We are meeting on Saturday 14 May at 10.00am. We will shortly be starting a new group book and this would be an ideal time to join us.

Being Stillness: A deeply nourishing and supportive morning of yoga and meditation combined – the perfect blend. Full details and booking can be found here

 

 

[Main image: Google / www.dailymail.co.uk]

Read More

Being Stillness 2016

The Perfect Blend

Being Stillness is the ultimate blend that I created, combining deep, restorative yoga combined with meditation throughout the session.

“The calm slow pace. The delicious stretches. The meditation.”

This session is the ultimate opportunity to simply let go and be from everything and to immerse yourself into the embrace of the postures, stillness and silence.

“Absolutely love these workshops, medicine for mind, body and spirit, and you are a generous, holding and knowledgeable host. Thank you.”

Your experience is aided by the use of yoga props…quite a few in fact, which really allows you to release, relax and restore.

“After the workshop, I felt that I had a lot of space around me, and also felt calm and relaxed – that does not happen often. Thank you Claire.”

With minimum dialogue from me, the experience is one of sheer presence, both within the body and the mind.

Spaces are limited for this workshop to allow for maximum support from me throughout in assisting you find the ‘sweet spot’ within the postures.

Being Stillness is scheduled for Saturday 21 May from 10.00 until 12.30 and you can book your place here

Read More

shutterstock_65233756

The Secrets of the Spiritual Heart

“Very few people understand the heart. In truth, your heart is one of the masterpieces of creation. It is a phenomenal instrument. It has the potential to create vibrations and harmonies that are far beyond the beauty of pianos, strings or flutes. You can hear an instrument, but you feel your heart. And if you think that you feel an instrument, it’s only because it touched your heart. Your heart is an instrument made of extremely subtle energy that few people come to appreciate”

[The Untethered Soul – Michael A Singer p49 / Noetic Books]

 

The above is a quote from the new group book we shall be using as a guide in our Meditation & More sessions, probably from June onwards (once we’ve finished our current one!)

 

So why are we reading in a meditation session? The simple reason is that there are so many wonderful books out there which help to bring awareness to many of the issues we face once we’re sat on our cushion.

 

The chosen writings are to assist us draw on a wider knowledge base and also encourages dialogue and discussion within our monthly meditation sessions. All of which makes for a variety of approaches to creating and establishing a meditation practice – hence the name of the group: Meditation & More…

 

If you wish to read a little more of this book, here’s an excerpt of Chapter 15

 

The meditation sessions are held once-a-month in Watford and offers a lively, friendly group who are exploring what meditation means to them alongside the understanding of a calm abiding (Shamatha) practice, together with the delights of some mind training (Lojong) too!

 

Hope to see you on the cushion soon!

 

 

[Image credit: Shutterstock used under licence]

 

 

Read More

text neck

Modern neck problems

Modern technology can be really beneficial and has helped us create and connect so much faster than before. However, there’s usually a price to pay and in this case, it’s our bodies – our necks in particular.

 

Yoga helps address many issues within the human anatomy, but cannot eradicate problems entirely. Look across any busy railway platform or whilst on the bus, and you will see any number of people, stooped necks, gazing into their mobile phones. Yoga cannot possibly hope to correct his, but it can bring relief and awareness, which can go a long way in educating us about good posture and body mechanics.

 

In next week’s Women’s Wisdom Yoga I shall be taking the group through a series of gentle, somatic movements to reintroduce range of motion within the back and neck.

 

For those who will not have the fortune of attending, here’s a link to a rather lovely, FREE course being offered by the wonderful peeps over at Yoga U Online: Yoga for Text Neck

 

 

[Image credit: http://www.spine-health.com/blog/modern-spine-ailment-text-neck]

Read More