Griffins Hill Retreat yoga and food blog

A blog about Iyengar yoga, organic food, and cooking.

Exploring the other side of yourself with backbends By Frank Jesse

Frank-Jesse- King Pigeon Pose Frank Jesse : Eka Pada Rajakapotasana

As a group of poses, backbends seem to stir strong emotions. Some people absolutely love them. For others, a class focusing on backbends triggers fear and uncertainty. With preparation and guidance, backbends are uplifting and energising. They give us back the energy we put into them, leaving us feeling invigorated and happy. " ….. emotionally ther...

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Why every yogi must take care of the environment By Frank Jesse

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Like most people, I became a yoga teacher because I love the practice. I love its impact on my physical and mental health and the way it benefits my students. I still love that. However, I have become more and more aware of the need to include care of the environment in the way we manage our retreat here at Griffins Hill. We have always done that, ...

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Discovering our true nature 
through mindful yoga practice

Padmasana---Mount-Abrupt-min

We all have our favourite yoga poses, don't we? But how many of us make a favourite of a particularly challenging posture, one that makes us feel uncomfortable, uncertain and, well, not very good at yoga?Making friends with the postures that are difficult for us to do is an integral part of yoga because it delivers us straight to the heart of the r...

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Home Practice: The benefits of not doing

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By Frank Jesse

A lot of people tell me they dislike pranayama (breathing) and restorative classes. They’d rather be doing active classes full of dynamic poses. But there are a lot of benefits to not doing, and just being. We do so much in our busy lives! I’m not quite sure why people want their yoga classes to be always actively challenging as well. Of course, when we are doing poses actively, it can be easier to focus and to still the mind, which is the primary purpose of yoga.

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Between Asanas (yoga poses)

Between Asanas (yoga poses)

By Frank Jesse Asanas (Yoga poses) began centuries ago as a practice to prepare the mind and body for meditation. Keeping this in mind can help yoga students to overcome a common problem in the early years of their practice – maintaining focus during the transition in and out of yoga asanas. When we start yoga, many of us are unused to focusing on anything for a long period of time – we face many distractions in our day-to-day lives.  Even keeping ourselves focused during a yoga pose can be difficult. However, the teacher’s instructions and the challenge of aligning the body in unfamiliar ways help keep us in the present moment. The instant the teacher says ‘release’, however, students tend to collapse both physically and mentally – the action is over, and so we slump back into our usual distracted state! But yoga is both action and reflection; without reflection,...

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The tricky question of the shoulder blades

Shoulder-blades

A question that regularly comes up in class regards where to position the shoulder blades when the arms are raised over the head. Students are often unclear what to do with their shoulder blades and mistakenly believe that they should pull them down to free up the neck. As a teacher, I observe that the common instruction to pull the shoulder blades...

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Are you ready to do a handstand?

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By Frank Jesse

The handstand, or Adho Mukha Vrksasana (downward-facing tree pose), can be quite a scary and challenging pose for an inexperienced student. But this pose is also exhilarating and has many health benefits if approached and learned with thorough preparation and attention. Among the many benefits are improved circulation, respiration, concentration, and mental clarity. Through weight-bearing, it helps to strengthen the bones of the wrists, fingers, elbows, arms, and shoulders

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Asana: A seat for our minds

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In 2015, the net was abuzz with the news: sitting too much is as bad for our health as smoking. A study conducted at Queen’s University Belfast and published last year found prolonged sitting is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, obesity, diabetes and early death. 

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Standing up for Tadasana

Tadasana Mountain pose

"Asana is perfect firmness of body, steadiness of intelligence and benevolence of spirit," wrote B.K.S Iyengar in his interpretation of the yoga sutras (Sthiram sukham asanam—Yoga Sutras II:46)  Tadasana is a posture that encourages us to be steady, and to learn and experience these qualities.  The value of neutral Our society values speed – we are engaged, in the fast lane, in gear.  In Tadasana our body brought into a neutral position, not moving, not overdoing but engaged and lifted to its full height.  Remarkably, however, I have found few students can perceive their own misalignment in Tadasana. Until they use a wall to build their awareness of standing straight, they slump, tilt or bend backwards when they assume this basic posture.  Tadasana reveals to us the value of understanding neutrality.  Can a mountain balance on a pinhead?  A mountain has a strong, solid base. We would never climb a mountain...

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Hello Happy Hips

Hello Happy Hips

By Frank Jesse Let me start with an upfront declaration – you are not about to read “9 Poses Your Hips Need Now” or “The 5 best  poses to open up tight hips”. In fact, when my students suggest to me that I need to teach “a whole class on hips”, I am completely perplexed. Why? Because every class I teach is a whole class on hips! Hips are right there in the middle of our bodies; every pose, from Tadasana (Mountain Pose) to Trikonasana (Triangle Pose), is a hip pose. Of course, I understand what people mean when they ask me for a class dedicated to hips – they are thinking of leg stretches, cross legs, Padmasama (Lotus), Supta Padangustasana (reclining big toe pose),Virabhadrasana I (Warrior I) and Virabhadrasana II (Warrior Pose II). Many people believe that they have stiff hips and that their hips restrict them from making progress...

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Practicing yoga through the blues

Practicing yoga through the blues

It’s when the chips are down – emotionally or physically – that we can truly start to understand all that Iyengar yoga has to offer.

Practicing yoga when we feel exhilarated, relaxed and on top of life’s demands is a great feeling. It enhances all that is good in our lives.

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Yoga props an Iyengar yoga inovation

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It’s not surprising that Iyengar yoga is known for its use of props such as blankets, block and bolsters. Using such props was one of many innovations Mr Iyengar bought to yoga practice. Using props is intrinsic to this system of yoga. However, the reasons for their use are often misunderstood.

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Iyengar Yoga: Beyond the physical

Iyengar Yoga: Beyond the physical

By Frank Jesse

Iyengar yoga is very much a physical practice, and Mr Iyengar was sometimes accused of his approach to yoga being “only physical”. Critics of Mr Iyengar wanted him to include more meditation.

I believe it is important to address this question, as did Mr Iyengar, and to look more deeply into the possibilities and limitations, if any, of the practice of Iyengar yoga.

Mr Iyengar was very clear that in his view: yoga is meditation, he says, if we apply ourselves correctly. In other words, the spiritual side of yoga is inseparable from the physical postures.

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Viparita Dandasana: inverted staff pose

Viparita Dandasana: inverted staff pose

By frank Jesse

Some poses, such as Viparita Dandasana (inverted staff pose), can seem very hard to achieve. This week, Franks shows you how to take it step by step, starting with a supported version until you have the strength and flexibility to achieve the full pose.

The goal of yoga is not beyond anyone’s reach.

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Savasana: a much misunderstood yoga pose

Savasana: a much misunderstood yoga pose

By Frank Jesse

 

Savasana (corpse pose) is a much misunderstood yoga pose. It is usually the last pose in our Iyengar yoga practice or class and, while many students look forward to lying down and relaxing their muscles in Savasana, especially after a demanding asana session, others don’t understand its purpose. Some prefer to skip Savasana, or make it as short as possible. 

While Savasana requires no physical effort it can be one of the most difficult yoga poses to master. Students will find that they either fall asleep, go into a dreamy state or otherwise find their mind thinking and planning for such mundane things as the grocery shopping, or worrying about work.

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