Category Archives: Teachers

Stretching is as much about unwinding at it is about stretching

Standard

Lancashire Yogi has just returned from the brilliant Kit Hartley’s class. It’s always on a monday. It starts at 6pm at the Inn on the Wharf, in Burnley, Lancashire.  You can get to her class by just turning up.  If mondays don’t work for you, Kit does a class in Nelson on wednesdays at Marsden School from 7pm. Kit’s classes are a really good value session of yoga with one of the best yoga teachers Lancashire Yogi knows.  They are usually fun as well as hard work. It’s a pleasant mixture : and a good antidote to the bisy backsons and their world.

What Lancashire Yogi likes about Kit’s lessons is that she puts the students through their paces. She particularly likes to get the students stretching – upwards, outwards, opening up and reaching down. It’s all safe and careful, and my goodness, it certainly feels good.  

Lancashire Yogi thinks that stretching up or down, or outwards opens up the body, and somehow relaxes the body and the mind. So, stretching is as much about unwinding the mind as it is about unwinding the body. 

After a long busy day that’s a great way to end the day, for the body and the mind.

Namaste

Yoga : good for your physical and mental health AND your creativity

Standard

Lancashire Yogi has just come back from a wonderful and invigorating yoga class with the ever brilliant Kit Hartley in Burnley.  After a lot of travel in some difficult terrain and environments, and having had his mind opened up more by his Sufi and Dervish friends  – Lancashire Yogi desperately needed to open up his body and re-awaken his spine.  So he was delighted to experience a yoga class with spine awakening firmly on the agenda.  Awakening the spine is also, the title of  Vanda Scaravelli’s wonderful book .  If you are a person who suffers from back aches and pains – its well worth a read – and is infused with insight and love, as well as practical advice and tips for yogis and everyone.  Little do most people know but Kit is also a very creative individual and today Lancashire Yogi saw yet more of her creativity in action. Kit creates mobiles.  Lancashire Yogi is honoured to have one of these. It’s called ‘Spine’ by Kit, and here you can see it outside blowing in the wind.  Lancashire Yogi thinks that you can’t really appreciate Kit’s creations unless you see them in action, refracting and reflecting the light, and spinning in the wind.

To help you appreciate the mobile, and the creativity, Lancashire Yogi has taken a little film of it and you can see it here on thinkadelics vimeo page.

One of the great things about Yoga is that by practising it – Lancashire Yogi thinks that you not only open up your body and create space – but some how you also open up your mind to creativity.  Kit’s creations are just one example of that.  There is such creativity out there amongst the yoga fraternity that you can’t help feeling that the ability to be creative is made easier through the practice of yoga.  Lancashire Yogi is probably biased but he thinks that a lot of the time folks tend to promote yoga because of physical and mental health benefits, and to this you can add another benefit which is creativity in all of its guises.

Physically and mentally healthier, and a tad more creative.  What could be better than that? Time to get on the mat and open up that body and that mind.

Namaste

Learning from the donkey

Standard

Lancashire Yogi has had a lovely time with his Aikido master, Sensei Ariana Masayume. Lancashire Yogi has had some brilliant Aikido teachers. Most notably the extraordinary Sensei Wasyl Kolesnikov in Oldham .  However Sensei Ariana Masayume has been a consistent influence throughout Lancashire Yogi’s life.  She taught Lancashire Yogi archery, and they have shared haiku across the world. Infact she introduced Lancashire Yogi to the haiku of Basho:

Breaking the silence
Of an ancient pond,
A frog jumped into water-
A deep resonance

Lancashire has a deep affinity with the poetry of Ryokan whose famous haiku is :

The thief left it behind:
the moon
at my window.

Made famous by the fabulous Joni Mitchell

Sensei Ariana told Lancashire Yogi an interesting story. She told him that she was in Italy exploring Yantra Yoga and was staying at a farmhouse in Tuscany.  They were doing a lot of building work and a new barn was being built for some prize farm animals.  The builders were transporting the rock and sand for the building from a nearby quarry.  They were using Gianni the donkey to carry the sand from the quarry to the building site.  The owner of the farmhouse had gone on holiday, with the express instructions that the job was to be completed on his return. The builders were panicking a bit. Gianni the donkey was working double time and extra ferrying materials and most of the physical building work was nearly complete.  The night before the owner was due back, Gianni had managed to fall down the well.  Lancashire Yogi thinks that it must have been either a small donkey or a big well.  Anyhow the next morning, the builders could hear the donkey braying away, and finally spotted it stuck down the well.  They were caught – they needed time to finish the building work, and yet, the donkey needed to be rescued. After some debate, they decided to sacrifice the donkey because it would take too much time and effort to rescue it, and they needed time to complete the work. As they started back on the job, all they could hear was the donkey braying.  Their consciences were plaguing them, but then one of them had a bright idea. They would fill the well up with sand and cement, burying the donkey, stopping its pitiful noise and hiding the evidence.  Lancashire Yogi stopped Ariana when she got to this part of the story because he was horrified that an animal was about to be killed, but Ariana laughed and told him to stick with the programme. Anyhow, the builders start tipping sand and cement down the well, and the donkey’s braying gets less and more infrequent, until finally it stops.  The chief builder congratulates the men and they turn to get on with the building work, but then one of them hears a strange sound, so they look in the well, and see the Donkey – Gianni – staring at them. They are all taken aback by this and a bit confused. Until one of them surmises that every time sand and cement has been tipped over the donkey, he has dodged it, trampled it down hard under his hooves and compacted it. He has done this throughout the efforts of the builders, so that eventually he has managed to rise up the inside of the well, on a platform of compacted sand and cement.  Finally, the builders tip more sand down, and watch as Gianni the donkey tramples it down, and rises close to the top of the well. With a light jump, the donkey clambers over the well edge and skitters off into the fields beyond.  Relieved the builders get back to work and just about manage to finish the job.

Sensei Ariana Masayume enjoys telling Lancashire Yogi this story.  As they pause over a cup of magnolia tea, she laughs, and says luckily the owner didnt know about the trauma that his donkey went through. And the builders finished on time. But, she says, for her the real story is that the donkey taught her how to deal with the rubbish that life throws you. You know, Lancashire Yogi, she says, you would think that the donkey might be seeing that its end was in sight. It was trapped in a well, the builders were going to kill it, and they were trying to bury it alive. However the donkey used the very materials that were being used to bury it alive, to rise to the top of the well and escape. 

Lancashire Yogi likes this – he thinks that life may well throw all sorts of difficulties at you as you journey through – but the trick is to turn whatever negativity or difficulties there are into opportunities and solutions.

Sensei Ariana Masayume spent most of her time with Lancashire Yogi reminding him about his Aikido and Ki practices.  Aikido means “harmony, energy way” and alot of their practices were about how you use the energy of the moment to bring about harmony.  Sensei Ariana doesn’t practice yoga, but she does practice Ki work – and the power of Ki is like the power of prana – and the energy that is generated by yoga practices. 

The donkey in the well is a good example of both disciplines in action.

Clearing Clutter helps the spirit

Standard

Lancashire Yogi has been clearing clutter. You may be experiencing a similar situation: where a boot is hidden under a chair, a yoga mat is on the window sill, some blocks are propping open a door,  a couple of books stacked on the floor, clothes all over the place. Tools from some gardening escapades stacked by the door. Papers from some research splayed across the sofa. CDs scattered around the table and floor.  He’s a chaotic chap is Lancashire Yogi. Everywhere he goes he leaves a trail and a pile of books,  or papers or CDs or clothes or yoga stuff.  And that’s just Lancashire Yogi. He shares his space with half a dozen others and there are regular comers and goers, dropper inners who leave their own trails and gifts. Mrs Lancashire Yogi is a world class specialist in living in the moment with a trail or pile or two of stuff that follows her round the house too. It’s never a bone of contention, except when Lancashire Yogi falls down the stairs or trips over shoes….

When Lancashire Yogi hasn’t practiced, he notices that there is an inordinate amount of clutter in his living space. When he doesnt practice his system feels sludged up and he feels stodgy. That for him is one of the reasons why he practices yoga – to clear the pipes from sludge…. He’s noticed that whenever he feels sludge and stodge inside – its highly likely that there is clutter outside too.  Interestingly in ‘How Yoga Works’ by Geshe Michael Roach, and Lama Christie McNally,  the authors refer to clutter. In a refreshing take on ‘a cluttered life, shows a cluttered mind’, they highlight pretty much what Lancashire Yogi thinks – although he sees the clutter as a symptom of one’s clutter internally, rather than a cause!

Anyway, he’s having a bit of a clear out. And it seems to be working. He’s feeling less cluttered and that is helping.

More importantly,  he has his old sensei coming to visit tomorrow, and  Sensei Ariana Masayume is very strict and likes order and strictly no clutter. More about Sensei Masayume in due course : however,  she is skilled in Aikido and archery, writes lovely haiku and through her eloquent teachings has to be one of Lancashire Yogi’s favourite martial artists.  He will be at Kit Hartley’s class on Monday night and wanted Sensei Masayume to join him there – but Sensei Masayume will be arriving late at night following a series of international  flights – so they will catch up in the morning, as they both get up early to practice their various disciplines. 

Sensei Masayume says that the most important thing about archery is not the target but the love and grace with which you release the arrow from the bow. This sounds a bit like the words of Krishna to Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita – and which Lancashire Yogi has described here.  He is sure that he and Sensei Masayume will be discussing this further. 

 “De-cluttering” seems to be a 21st century thing, driven by TV celebrities who go into people’s houses and who clear the house out into a big skip outside.  But actually de-cluttering seems to be part of ‘right living’ – creating a space where people, and energy can flow, and freeing up the mind and the spirit to be.

Namaste

Lancashire Yogi is privileged to have two superb teachers

Standard

Lancashire Yogi has just come back from Rose Mary Board’s Yoga class at St Mary’s Parish in Langho, Ribble Valley. And they just get better and better. Tonight we did some superb vinyasas – yoga postures in motion from one posture to another.  Rose Mary’s instruction is clear, concise, and easy to follow. She teaches with compassion and firmness which makes the class a delight.  If you want to learn yoga, Lancashire Yogi can’t think of a better teacher in the Ribble Valley area.  If you want join her classes you can contact her on 01254 823003.

Lancashire Yogi is privileged to have two superb teachers. Rose Mary is one of these; the other is the incredibly brilliant and ecletic Kit Hartley. Kit teaches in Burnley – at the Inn on the Wharf on Monday’s at 6pm, and on a wednesday in Colne. Kit can be contacted on 07854 207701 or emailed at m.j.c.hartley@btinternet.com

With either teacher you are guaranteed a very insightful and powerful lesson in yoga asana; and if you are an experienced yoga practitioner – you will discover more depths to the asana too.

Namaste

What are you here for?

Standard

One of Lancashire Yogi’s favourite heart people says she doesn’t want to come back to earth when she is reincarnated. She wants to go to Pluto. Lancashire Yogi thinks she is divine, and her purpose,  mostly fulfilled for many already,  is to help people come to self realisation and enlightenment. This heart teacher does this hourly.  Lancashire Yogi thinks, if she chooses to comes back she should come back doing more of what  she does now. She’s the perfect heart teacher for many.

But thinking and hoping for your future incarnation is one thing. And relies on a lot of practices and good karma. So rather than thinking about a possible future incarnation or something like that – now you are here: a good starting thought is ‘what are you here for’? 

Lancashire Yogi likes the Bodhisattva vows. These are summed up as vows stating that the practitioner doesn’t seek awakening or enlightenment purely for his or herself: but for the sake of helping to free all living, sentient beings from the sea of samara to the bliss of nirvana.   Lancashire Yogi thinks this is fairly noble and worthwhile.

You can be here to just enjoy, or you may wish to exploit and gratify yourself at the expense of others and the planet; but probably the best reason to be here is to be a better person, and help others to realise their better sides too. 

Namaste

Lancashire Yogi visits Athos

Standard

Lancashire Yogi has been away visiting his friend Father Artemis who lives in one of the twenty monastries on an island called Athos in Greece. Lancashire Yogi visits every so often to ask his Monk friend some questions and catch up on some practices of mutual interest. Lancashire Yogi has been chanting mantras for a long while now. When he first met Father Artemis, he was shown the Jesus Prayer. The Jesus Prayer goes “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me”.  Lancashire Yogi read more about this in the nineteenth century Russian spiritual classic The Way of a Pilgrim. Initially Lancashire Yogi was troubled by the notion of ‘sin’, as some versions tend to seek forgiveness for being a sinner.  Over time, and through his visits to Athos and other such places, he has learned that sin as representing not some wickedness or wrongdoing as such, but more a lack of wholeness or completeness. The practice of yoga is the pursuit of union and through this – wholeness. Lancashire Yogi sees it as the art of becoming complete.  He reflects that the Jesus prayer is a wish for this too.

Lancashire Yogi is interested in this is because the Monks repeat the Jesus prayer like a mantram.  The use of a prayer rope or beads, and the co-ordination of breath sound very similar to some of the Yogic practices that Lancashire Yogi uses. Besides the beauty of Mount Athos and the surrounding penninsula and sea; Lancashire Yogi enjoys the meeting of two systems. One of the aspects of both early Christianity and Yoga practices has been the use of mudras. When Lancashire Yogi is on Athos he loves to see the iconography on the murals and paintings which depict various saints and Jesus using mudras such as the prithvi and pran mudras, which are both depicted in buddhist, hindu and yogic illustrations and other representations.  Father Artemis says that the Jesus Prayer opens up the heart. Lancashire Yogi is intrigued by this as he thinks the Tibetan Heart Yoga an ancient tradition promoted by Geshe Michael Roach is very similar. 

Lancashire Yogi enjoys his time on Athos. As well as being a beautiful place, its a place where he can reconnect through reflection and the power of silence.  Mrs Lancashire Yogi finds the place intriguing.  No women are allowed on.  She thinks its a bit of a gents club.  Lancashire Yogi find that his stays there are a brief ‘respite’  from the beauty and energy of women.  No disrespect intended to women – but as previously posted Lancashire Yogi thinks there’s a lot for men to work out. It’s probably why his grandfathers – both expert gardeners – disappeared into the potting shed and greenhouse for hours at a time; and why Lancashire Yogi’s Dad likes mowing the lawn..

Its hardly a gentleman’s club on Athos though,  and after a week of prayer, contemplation, yoga and discussion, Lancashire Yogi is missing the damp and drizzle of his native home.  And of course, Mrs Lancashire Yogi.  Father Artemis has posed a few questions for Lancashire Yogi to reflect on. Lancashire Yogi feels that like a chain reaction, he needs to visit Matt the Greek who lives in Wales. Lancashire Yogi was there at Matt the Greek’s baptism and ordination and they have wandered in many great open and high spaces together. The questions are (1) in the Greek Orthodox tradition they talk of pneuma, is this not prana? (2) being naturally enthusiastic – this comes from “entheos” – which means “in god” or others translate “as god in us”. Is enthusiasm an expression of the divine? (3) are there really no physical practices like yoga asana in the tradition?  A project for Lancashire Yogi with help from others (like Matt the Greek) is to research the mudras across traditions and disciplines. 

As he waits for the ferry at Dafni, Lancashire Yogi looks back and smiles – there are so many journeys, so many traditions that we can take. We are so lucky to live in a time when we can do this. The ferryman is urging me on with a gappy toothed smile, and dark sunbrowned smiley face. Its time to return. Namaste, x

(3)