Griffins Hill Retreat yoga and food blog

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

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

Early morning view of Mount Abrupt

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, but it feels more urgent than ever before. And all the guidance we need to take is contained in the Yoga Sutra, written by the sage Patanjali at least 1700 years ago.

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Guest — Jan watson
Beautifully written. I have lived on organic fruit farm for 17 years, have solar power and love how you have related the sutras to... Read More
Wednesday, 28 August 2019 08:56
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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 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 real purpose of yoga: awareness or mindfulness. When we favour a particular pose of type of asana, we create an imbalance in our bodies and minds.
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Home Practice: The benefits of not doing

Frank-Jesse-demonstrating-a-backbend-using-blocks.-

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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Rest, restore & receive...This sequence is an instant energy tonic...OM OM OM...
Wednesday, 15 January 2014 22:46
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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

The tricky question of the shoulder blades By Frank Jesse

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. 

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Are you ready to do a handstand?

Frank-Jesse-the-foundation-of-handstand

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

Asana: A seat for our minds Padmasana

By Frank Jesse

 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. 

The news went viral last year, which isn’t surprising; it’s an extraordinary idea when you think about it. 

It caught my attention because there is a strong relationship between yoga and sitting. The Sanskrit word, asana, means seat, for example.  

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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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Yoga props an Iyengar yoga inovation

Backbends-in-the-ropes

By Frank Jesse

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.

Some students, especially those used to flowing styles of yoga, believe that props are hindrance to their practices. However Mr Iyengar developed their use to help students Yoga-props-blocks-chair-blankets-foam-pad-sandbags-benches-and-ropes move more carefully into the pose without undue risk.

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Guest
I have the opportunity to use props in my practice and in my classes. What a wonderful way to be supported on the journey to self ... Read More
Thursday, 26 February 2015 16:15
Guest
Thought I better turn Ustrasana photo right way up - till I realised ! Going to the studio to practice it now
Thursday, 14 May 2015 21:47
Guest
Thought I better turn Ustrasana photo right way up - till I realised ! Going to the studio to practice it now
Thursday, 14 May 2015 21:47
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Miles the emu

Miles_baby Photo by Andrea Hylands

As you know, I am a kangaroo advocate, and several of these wonderful creatures seek refuge on my property from the local shooters. But who knew the word was spreading through the emu population that I love all animals and not just kangas.

One of our guests, Andrea*, popped outside early one morning in June to take photos. Standing with the camera glued to her eye, she was astonished to see an emu loom large in the picture frame. She snapped off a couple of frames and then came inside to tell me.

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Yoga asanas -- Starting a home practice -- a step along your Yoga Sadhana (yoga path)

Adho-Mukha-Svanasana

By Frank Jesse

Over 1700 years ago, the ancient Indian sage, Patanjali, listed the obstacles or impediments to developing a regular yoga practice in the yoga sutras, sutra 1.28: "disease, inertia, doubt, heedlessness, laziness, indiscipline of the senses, erroneous views, lack of perseverance and backsliding."

Not much has changed. For a beginner student, and even some more experienced students, starting a home practice can be a challenge -- not knowing where or how to begin.

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What is Iyengar Yoga? by Kimina Lyall

Yoga-blankets-and-props Yoga-blankets-and-prop

What is Iyengar Yoga?

You know you are in an Iyengar Yoga studio by the blankets. There is a pile of them. They are stacked in the studio on a shelf that is the precise size the shelf needs to be to hold the stack of blankets. Each blanket is folded the same way, neat side out. Usually, there is a small sign or notice near the stack explaining the right way to fold the blankets and politely asking you to comply. 

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The return of the dancing brolgas to our Western plains wetlands By Jane Gibb

Brolgas

Brolgas once danced on the wetlands of Western Victoria. But agriculturalists drained the swamps to open land for farming decades ago. As the wetlands were lost, so were the enormous flocks of brolgas and other migratory and local birds that once graced our western plains.

Now, a community-driven project is underway to remediate Walker Swamp, seven kilometres north of Dunkeld on the Wannon River. It's a remarkable story of our community's determination to rebuild the wetlands, for so long a lost and misunderstood local treasure.

A big task gets community support

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Kookaburras nest in our old gum tree By Jane Gibb

P819195_20181224-050501_1 Classic kookaburra sitting

Down in the lower northern end of our retreat is a very old gum tree, probably 400 years old, according to local environmentalists! It's rare to see such an old gum tree away from the banks of the rivers, so she's a tough old girl.

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