Griffins Hill Retreat yoga and food blog

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

Lift your heart up

Lift your heart up

 By Kimina Lyall 

I hate backbends. They make me anxious. I feel like I can’t breathe, and that something bad is going to happen while I am completely vulnerable and unable to quickly move out of the way. So for many years I have done what any sensible person would do faced with that scenario: grimaced through them in class and avoided them altogether in private practice.

Forward bends, on the other hand, are my friend. I love stretching my body out along my legs, and feel completely at peace and ease in any of the standing poses that involve hanging over my hips.

My favouring can be traced back to my pre-teen life as an aspiring ballerina. In ballet, forward bends are prized, almost as much (but not quite) as turnouts (rotating the leg from the hips to make the knee and foot turn outward).

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Adho Mukha Svanasana – downward facing dog pose

Adho Mukha Svanasana – downward facing dog pose
By Frank Jesse Adho Mukha Svanasana is an incredibly versatile asana. Not only is it an important pose in its own right, it can be used throughout a sequence to link poses or as a preparatory pose. Adho means down, Mukha is face and Svana is dog. The name Adho Mukha Svanasana arises from the pose’s similarity to a dog stretching to wake itself up after a nap. We generally do downward facing dog before inversions because the pose helps prepare the shoulders and arms. As a semi - inversion, the pose also prepares the mind and nervous system for full inversions like Adho Mukha Vrksasana (handstand), Pinca Mayurasana (forearm balance) and Salamba Sirsasana (headstand). Downward facing dog pose provides some of the benefits of a full inversion. Because the head is lower than the heart the brain is flushed with fresh oxygenated blood, reducing mental fatigue. Adho Mukha Svanasana also releases...
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Downward facing dog and spatchcocked dog!
Wednesday, 26 March 2014 21:55
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Why I love these under-rated vegetables.

By Jane Gibb One of my favourite herbs is the celery plant (Apium Graveolens). Celery plant is a flowering biennial plant that pre-dates the commonly available cultivated stringless celery varieties.  It makes my life happier in two ways: firstly, I avoid buying commercially produced vegetable stock, which I hate; and secondly I do not have to buy plastic-wrapped celery from the supermarket! In Griffins Hill garden, our celery is a striking plant growing about one metre high with large pinnate leaves (feather-like) similar to Italian parsley and thick green stems that are somewhat thinner that those of the supermarket varieties.  The outer stems can be continuously harvested providing a year-round supply of fresh healthy celery. Because the celery plant is biennial it forms a seed head and dies every two years, but in my garden a new plant grows from the base of the old plant. All I need to do...
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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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BKS Iyengar presented with high award by President of India

BKS Iyengar presented with high award by President of India
BKS Iyengar was recently honoured with the Padma Vibhushan award, the second highest civilian award given by the Republic of India. The award, which was presented by the Indian President, Pranab Kumar Mukherjee, is awarded to recognize exceptional and distinguished service to the nation in any field, including government service. Mr Iyengar, who is 95, founded the Iyengar school of yoga that has millions of followers across the globe. He was once named by TIME magazine as one of the 100 most influential persons in the world. Mr Iyengar has received 20 awards, honours and titles over the decades, the first in 1948.   Join over 2,000 of your peers and get fortnightly articles delivered to your in box. Subscribe Here    
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How I tricked myself into daily practice

How I tricked myself into daily practice
By Kimina Lyall What is it about home-alone yoga? I’m a grown-up, right? There are lots of things I can do every day, all by myself. I can eat. Shower. Brush my teeth. Check my emails. Even cuddle the friendly next door cat. These little daily tasks come easily, effortlessly almost, and I achieve them no matter what else is distracting me. But get on my yoga mat? Now there’s a tall order. It seems to be not an unusual one. Lots of my friends, who have been regularly attending yoga classes for many years, admit they still fail in their aim for daily practice. For me, there’s been the usual excuses: I’m so busy, I’m so tired, I wouldn’t know what to practice (after all, there’s so many asanas to choose from!), I don’t have all the props … Every now and then I have managed to get myself into...
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Guest
What a fabulously simple idea! I also find it difficult to get on my mat, despite having a yoga room in my house! But once I'm on ... Read More
Tuesday, 18 February 2014 22:47
Guest
What a fantastically simple tip! Despite having a yoga room in my house I find it difficult to make myself get on my mat regularly... Read More
Thursday, 20 February 2014 01:56
Guest
Thanks Kimina, This is a great tip for my students - even students who attend classes twice each week, are really consistent and h... Read More
Wednesday, 09 July 2014 18:22
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How to choose a yoga teacher and avoid injury (or worse)

How to choose a yoga teacher and avoid injury (or worse)
With the founder of hot yoga, Brikram Choudhury facing six lawsuits for alleged rape and sexual assault and the American peak yoga body, the Yoga Alliance, fending off accusations of lax standards, yoga is at a reputational turning point. Should yoga students trust the claims that yoga teachers make about themselves? If not, what are the right questions to ask to make the necessary checks? In years gone by, when there were fewer types of yoga and fewer teachers, imposters were quickly ousted by accredited and long-term yoga teachers. Today, there are 75 different types of yoga represented among the peak body Yoga Australia’s 2,500 members. In addition to the traditions of Iyengar yoga (taught at Griffins Hill) and Hatha yoga, many new arms of yoga have emerged in recent years including Dru, Bikram, anti-gravity, shadow, Gita, Ashtanga, vinyasa, pre-natal yoga, Kundalini, Anusara to name just a few. One of the latest entries, Power Living, offers an online yoga option, capitalising on a...
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Hi Frank, My name is Jess Morrison and I am in Year 11 in Adelaide. As a subject this year we are doing Research Project where w... Read More
Tuesday, 01 April 2014 15:55
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The flexible farmer

The flexible farmer
By Kath Walters Three years ago, sheep farmer Colin Agar started coming to yoga classes. The family has owned a property near Penshurst, about 30 kms from Dunkeld, for 150 years, which Colin runs with his two brothers, his daughter, his niece and her husband Colin was starting to feel the tough, physical work of sheep farming more and more.   The Agar’s run between 15,000 and 18,000 head of sheep. “The work fluctuates through the year from heavy to very light,” Colin says. “The heavy work is during the shearing, crutching and lamb “marking” times. By end of the day, you feel like you have been hit by a semi-trailer.” He felt so stiff and sore in the mornings, he was struggling to get dressed. “When you were 30 you didn’t notice the work,” he says. “But I was feeling stiff and my joints were starting to ache. I couldn’t...
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Guest
What a great read. Thank you. And good on you Colin.
Thursday, 13 February 2014 20:00
Guest
An encouraging story. Good on you, Colin! The more flexible farmers we have the better!
Saturday, 05 April 2014 11:27
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The silver bullet: Taking ownership of your health

The silver bullet: Taking ownership of your health
0 0 1 487 2778 Griffins Hill Retreat 23 6 3259 14.0 Normal 0 false false false EN-IN JA X-NONE /* Style Definitions */table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0cm; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:EN-IN;} Dr Greta Prozesky Even after 15 years as a general medical practitioner, it still amazes me that people seem so ready to give up “ownership” of their health. Patients are all too ready to believe and do whatever their doctor says, without question. Or, alternatively these days, they are too ready to demand that their doctor prescribe a pill and to believe that is all that is needed make them feel well. I have practiced medicine in several different countries, and this attitude seems to be very widespread and getting worse, rather than improving. My recipe for health is to breathe, smile, quieten your mind and move your...
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An inspiring story. I have found that finding a community of supportive friends is an important part of making major life changes.... Read More
Tuesday, 14 January 2014 08:13
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Dealing with an apricot glut: Why bottling apricots is worth the effort

Dealing with an apricot glut: Why bottling apricots is worth the effort
By Jane Gibb I love finding the first beautiful orange-coloured apricots that appear in my garden each December for a very brief period. Apricots have been cultivated for thousands of years and are thought to have originated in Armenia, the mountainous country bordered by Turkey on the one side and Georgia on the other. The delicate flavour of apricots is intensified by cooking them, which makes them an ideal fruit for squirrelling away in bottles. I remember as a child watching my parents lugging boxes of apricots into our family home, on a farm in foothills of the Victorian Alps, near Mansfield, marking the beginning of the bottling season. It was an exciting time as our kitchen filled with the scrumptious perfume of the stewing fruit, and my mouth was already watering at the thought of eating preserved apricots with my breakfast or after dinner with a dollop of cream or ice cream. At...
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Hi Jane I have never preserved anything before (my parents did) but I am going to give it a go, as i LOVE apricots & ho... Read More
Sunday, 26 January 2014 15:28
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Song of the soul : I am neither ego nor reason

Song of the soul : I am neither ego nor reason

Song of the Soul, by Shankaracharya

I am neither ego nor reason, I am neither mind nor thought,
I cannot be heard nor cast into words, nor by smell nor sight ever
caught:
In light and wind I am not found, nor yet in earth and sky -
Consciousness and joy incarnate, Bliss of the Blissful am I.

I have no name, I have no life, I breathe no vital air,
No elements have molded me, no bodily sheath is my lair:
I have no speech, no hands and feet, nor means of evolution -
Consciousness and joy am I, and Bliss in dissolution.

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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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Healthy kangaroos at Griffins Hill Retreat

Healthy kangaroos at Griffins Hill Retreat
0 0 1 325 1857 Griffins Hill Retreat 15 4 2178 14.0 Normal 0 false false false EN-AU JA X-NONE /* Style Definitions */table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0cm; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-fareast-language:JA;} The good thing about gardening is that there is always next year to try again – that’s how I felt after last summer, one of the most challenging I’ve face in term of crop production here in my organic kitchen garden. In January, Dunkeld was listed as the driest place in Victoria, which is amazing when you think if the usual contenders like the wind-blown Malley Wimmera region. Basically there was no meaningful rain between September 2012 and June 2013 – typically we would have had a good soaking month or so of rain in that time, with a nice downpour in January to quell the dust. This year,...
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The power of patience : How a yoga retreat proved the sceptics wrong

0 0 1 544 3107 Griffins Hill Retreat 25 7 3644 14.0 Normal 0 false false false EN-IN JA X-NONE /* Style Definitions */table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt; mso-para-margin-top:0cm; mso-para-margin-right:0cm; mso-para-margin-bottom:10.0pt; mso-para-margin-left:0cm; line-height:115%; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:11.0pt; font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-ansi-language:EN-IN;} Many people expressed their doubts when Frank Jesse and Jane Gibb started their yoga retreat in Dunkeld, at the base of the Grampian mountain range in western Victoria. Dunkeld is over three hours’ drive from Melbourne – too far the sceptics told the Jesse and Gibb for a retreat to succeed. Five successful years later, Griffins Hill yoga retreat is flourishing. Business leaders and content marketers – those publishing e-newsletters and writing blogs, for example -- could learn a lot from the patient, steady approach to business building that characterises Jesse and Gibb. Both have built successful businesses before. Gibb ran a plant...
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Eating and sharing with like-minded people: Why I love Griffins Hill

Eating and sharing with like-minded people: Why I love Griffins Hill
  0 0 1 405 2315 Griffins Hill Retreat 19 5 2715 14.0 Ok, we know this customer review below is kinda glowing and we are chuffed (mwah, Cecelia). But we think Cecelia Morris is well qualified to give us compliments. She and her husband, Ian Choppock, treat themselves to an annual yoga retreat, travelling far and wide in their goal to nail the ideal experience. Griffins Hill was among the first they tried, and now they are regulars. Here's why. By Cecilia Morris Sometimes, in our search for a retreat that combines yoga, beautiful setting and wonderful food, we come away disappointed.  But there is one place that my husband, Ian, and I have continued to return to over the past several years.   This is the wonderful restorative retreat that Frank Jesse, a senior yoga teacher, and Jane Gibb, chef and landscape gardener, provide in the setting of their...
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