Tag Archives: spontaneous

Learning to cycle…

Apologies for not being here for a while….Its been quite a busy week at YL. On Tuesday Mick gave a talk and led some mindfulness exercise to 100 Lower Sixth form students at Manchester High School for Girls. – a big thanks to Penny for organising it. Next week it’s the Upper Sixth.

On Tuesday Mick and Emma found themselves in the wilds of Preston looking for some high quality yoga mats with limited success although we found some good yoga blocks. We also had two busy yoga classes too on Wednesday and Thursday at our new base at Chorlton Central.

Many of you know that our plan is to make yoga, real yoga, including relaxation, breathing and positive thinking, relevant to everyday life. Some Mindfulness techniques help with this. Obvious, really when you think the current work in Mindfulness is yoga by another name. The usual definition of Mindfulness is…

‘Non judgmental awareness of both inner outer and experiences’ 

In other words:

 The ability to pay total attention to the present moment through what you are doping without thinking or judging whether its good or bad or what you will personally gain…

Or going with the Flow…

Mick featured a nice diagram in his talk illustrating the thinking and doing process as defined by Mindfulness science. Imagine the whole thing as a cycle at the centre of which is the event or situation your involved with. Out of the event will emerge thoughts, which in turn promote certain sensations or feelings which will influent behaviour which in turn shapes how we react physically. This all happens very quickly and mostly unconsciously. The point of Mindfulness is to be conscious of this cycle . Watching and observing this process detaching ourselves from making any judgment  about what the cycle is creating or what’s in it for you.  Once we simply observe we can see the impact and decide for ourselves not to be caught up in the cycle. In other words we stay in the centre….right in the middle of the cycle where being and doing are one and the same thing…simple really.

Pages from Mindfulness MHSG

Stillness in Motion.

How to be in action while being perfectly still…

Last weekend we took our yoga practice to another level.  To a level some would say is the whole essence of yoga practice, which is – Self –observation without judgment’ or non-judgmental- awareness’.

At YogaLife our ambition is to ‘bring yoga to life’. Remember yoga is not in end itself. Its overall purpose is a way into experiencing a different way of being and doing of performing ‘skillful action’. Our workshop, ‘Stillness in Motion’, was built around guided meditations, breathing and postures with a few mindful techniques, which will combine action and stillness.

Mindfulness in Yoga.

Mindfulness is a big deal these days but its routes are in yoga and Buddhist meditation. Mindfulness is the ability to pay total attention to the present moment with a non-judgmental awareness of our inner and outer experiences. To move beyond or outside of what the mind assumes is pleasant (which it wants to grasp) or painful  (which it wants to push away). In other words to be in a flowing state of awareness, not defined and just do and be. This, ‘Being and Doing’ of course is essentially Karma Yoga. The yoga of action, doing and being. Defined in the Bhagavad-Gita as:

‘Yogastah kuri karmani’

This little piece is worth remembering and roughly translates as, ‘established in being (yoga) perform action (also yoga), which is the secret of living a life of real achievement…

The verses state:

47 ‘The ideal is to be intensely active and at the same time have no selfish motives, no thoughts of personal gain or loss. Duty uncontaminated by desire leads to inner peacefulness and increased effectiveness. This is the secret art of living a life of real achievement. 

49. work performed without anxiety about results is far inferior to work done in a state of calmness.  Equanimity – the serene mental state free from likes and dislikes, attractions and repulsions – is truly the ideal attitude in which to live your life’.

 The yoga science bit. 

The Bhagavad-Gita tells us we are essentially constantly moving conscious energy. (Chit-Shakti). The body is simply an outer wrapping (sheath) beyond which there is so much more happening in, though and around us. Knowing this yogis assume and experience a different relationship to everyday activities…. they feel different. They do them differently…They get into the flow…

Remember the cause of your body or ‘sheath’ is nature…’Prakriti’. Which is shaped and defined by the gunna strands. Their constant interaction is responsible for change in nature, which also underpins all the flux we experience around us. That’s the motion part and is sometimes called the field. We can never ever, escape being in motion, being in action. That’s how the universe works even when resting or sleeping we are still in motion but in the heart of that constant motion there is a profound stillness.

That stillness is the  cause of your ‘aliveness’ made from unified consciousness….Purusha.

So how do we become aware?

Well that’s our yoga practice. When we practice we start to build up a deeper sense of awareness and deeper feelings of ourselves. We remove the internal obstacles we carry in order to become more conscious or in fact wake up. Karma Yoga is the yoga of action which when practiced links into that deeper awareness which is transforming, creative and deeply liberating. Real and lasting freedom…

How do we get to be non-judgmental? …Well that’s easy too. All you have to do is continue to act, to be in motion, free from attachment because it’s that attachment (your ego) that is causing attachment. We will go beyond fixations, desires want, preferences definitions and labels and go towards a deep silent still awareness of just what is. Right now. Being and doing 

In the workshop we looked briefly at the famous Indian poet Ashvaghosha who described beautifully this yoga of being and doing.

The way of Tranquility. (Being)

 Do not let the mind rest on any of its perceptions, particularizations, discriminations, moods or emotions. All kinds of ideation are to be discarded as fast as they arise; even the notions of controlling and discarding are to be got rid of. Ones mind should become like a mirror, reflecting things, but not judging them or relating to them. Conceptions themselves have no substance. Let them pass away unheeded. Conceptions arising from the lower mind will not take form of themselves, unless they are grasped by the attention. If they are ignored, there will be no appearing or disappearing.’.

 The Way of Wisdom. (Doing)

When one is rising, standing, walking, doing something, stopping, one should constantly concentrate mind on the act of doing it, not on ones relation to the act its character or value. One should think, there is walking, there is stopping, there is realising, not I am walking, I am doing this, it is a good thing, it is disagreeable, I am gaining merit, it is I who am realising how wonderful it is. Thence comes vagrant thoughts, feelings of elation, or of failure and unhappiness. Instead of all this one should simply practice concentration of the mind on the act itself, understanding it to be an expedient means for attaining tranquility of the mind, realisation, insight and wisdom. …after long practice the bondage of habits becomes weakened and disappears, and in its place appear confidence, satisfaction, awareness and tranquility.

So in the workshop we practiced and combined breathing, posture and meditation into one 3 hour mindfulness event of being and doing. We practiced some advanced meditation techniques such as Setting (Space, Event, Time) as well as some meditative walking with and without water bowls.

Here some pictures.

So the conclusion is that we can virtually do anything well and practice yoga everywhere. Even the most mundane and ‘automatic’ events such as walking can become an opportunity to practice yoga at its most profound. Everyday life becomes an opportunity to practice the yoga of just about everything!

5000 years and counting…

Following on from the filming over the weekend Mick was invited to give a talk and workshop at this years Northwest Health and Physical Activity Forum Annual Conference at Lancaster University. The theme was Legacy and Mick’s talk covered why the 5000-year-old practice of yoga is still relevant constantly being shaped into new forms and techniques while staying very close to its core principles.

Starting with some US statistics, according to US Yoga Magazine, Mick highlighted how yoga growth has been a consequence of the collapse of the financial system. For example since 2008 (the start of the banking crisis) American yoga practitioners have grown from 15.8 million people to 20.4 million. An increase of 30% accounting for nearly 9% of all adults.


In parallel with the growth of yoga is the emergence of a new sensibility, expressed through movements like Occupy, which have asked for action on the failure and unfairness of market led capitalism in favour of emphasising what really is important.  There are of course plenty of studies, which show us that growth in GDP, having more things, has nothing to do with feeling happier or better.  As Mick pointed out, its not having the right things that make us happy, but having the right view of things. Non-attachment and karma yoga are the way forward.


In the UK last year we had our first Happiness Survey (with the Western Isles coming top and Blackpool coming bottom). Of particular importance is the New Economics Foundation work on Happiness and well-being. Mick compared their 5 points with five Yamas and Niyamas.

Five Ways to Wellbeing.

Connect… With the people around you.

Be active… Discover a physical activity you enjoy and that suits your level of mobility and fitness.

Be curious… Catch sight of the beautiful. Remark on the unusual.

Keep learning… Try something new. Rediscover an old interest.

Give… Do something nice for a friend, or a stranger.

Yoga ways to Wellbeing.

Yamas = how we relate to the world

Niyama = how we relate to ourselves

Ahimsa… Be open, kind, avoid hurting others.

Shaucha… Strengthen and purify the mind and body.

Satya… Take notice, observe, and find what is real and lasting.

Svadhyaya… Look inwards, explore and study.

Ishvarapranidhana… Find what you are good at and give it away.

Mick ended with a quick look at growth on Mindfulness. Again yoga by another name. Here is a definition of Mindfulness from Psychology Today:

Mindfulness meditation is unique in that it

Is not directed toward getting us to be

Different from how we already are. Instead,

it helps us become aware of what is

already true moment by moment. We

could say that it teaches us how to be

unconditionally present; that is, it helps us

be present with whatever is happening, no

matter what it is…

Sound familiar?

So there you are. Yoga’s legacy.


Being prepared…

So many creative people talk about their work in terms of yoga. Here is one of my heroes, Brian Eno (some of you are probably far too young)  talking about where ideas come from. He talks about the ‘prepared mind’ (yoga) which is open to recognising inspiration opportunities when they appear. And they appear all the time.


Having ideas is not about waiting for inspiration to start. The effort required is simply the need to open oneself up to new things…seeing new relationships etc. To do this, Brian says we need to ‘surrender’ to the idea, to the work…. become the work and put any ideas of ownership or ego behind you.

In other transcend any individuality you have a separate person, let go, remove the boundaries and become YOU.

Karma yoga of course …Yoga in Action.

Enthusiasm is the key says Brian.  Its infectious but also helps drive forward ideas and solutions. Of course timing and luck is everything as well as a good dose of talent but if you are open, observant and enthusiastic the timing and luck will fall into place…

You are not what you think you are…

This Sunday we did quite an intensive routine with an emphasis on prana and energy enhancing breathing and postures, as it was such a sunny day in Manchester. We also completed the class with Isha Kriya. This is a little different from what we normally do but worth doing as it points towards a higher yogi science and philosophy that we don’t normally get a chance to practice.

You can find out more by downloading the Isha Kriya here from the Isha Foundation led by Sadhguru.


The internal chant is excellent and can be used as a powerful tool during the day. It’s particularly powerful while working so that you can begin to enjoy that Karma Yoga feeling – being absorbed in the action and not in the result of the action. It’s the only way to work and as Sadhguru says it will bring success, well being and dynamism to your everyday life.

Worth a try…

YogaLife Events 2013…

Over at YogaLife HQ we have been planning out the big Yoga in Action Events for 2013. We started off well with Back On Track when we looked inward and opened our hearts to new possibilities. We all made a conscious cut out and keep Sankalpa. Emma Howard told me hers was going to be laminated and kept close to her heart. Wonderful stuff…. More on that later.

Our objectives this year are to raise and expand our YogaLife project with more classes, workshops and events.  So here are some rough dates for your YogalIfe diary for 2013…







Mid March. Colour Me Chocolate…

Another chance to combine chocolate and yoga. This workshop at Chorlton Central will involve powerful chakra and visualisation work with colour, taste and natural raw chocolate. Fun, but also an opportunity to take your yoga practice beyond your day-to-day class to experience a deeper level of practice and experience…plus there is chocolate!

 Mid April. Happy Spontaneous Me…

Another chance to do our Happy Spontaneous Me, creative mark making yoga workshop. In line with your feedback and support we plan to make it bigger and better. We will holding the workshop in larger space and for longer. This will enable us to keep yoga postures and yoga drawing separate. With more time we can do more too. Like all our YogalIfe workshops time just seems to fly.

Mid June. Stillness in motion…

A new workshop, which will look at mindfulness in Yoga with an emphasis on concentration, visualisation, breathing and meditation. Being still while you and your world is in motion is the essence of mindful yoga practice. In this workshop we will learn to let go and dive into the flow while being fully in control of how we feel and what we do.

Mid September. Going Deeper Staying Longer…

Another chance to explore a depth of yoga practice we don’t normally get the chance to do in class. Together we will explore a little yoga philosophy and science and putting into practice in amore challenging set of postures, breathing and concentration. If you are keen to explore and absorb a deeper level experience than this is the workshop for you.

Mid November. Merry Yoga.

Another chance to do a little yoga chanting before the Christmas holidays. Consider it our very own YogaLife carol service…. lots of fun and very uplifting. Meditation with as much noise as you can make….

We have also gone digital too. You can now book any of the Yoga In Action workshops on line as well any of Mick’s Drop –In classes. As soon as we confirm each of the workshop dates and venues just go to the workshops page and book.

So our yoga adventures continue. Keep the faith everyone…

Om Nema Sivaya

We are all yogis…

Congratulations to everyone starting on their yoga adventures and big welcome back to everyone already on their journey. You are all yogis now. That’s official. According to the Bhagavad-Gita (our seminal yoga text) you are,

 ‘a yogi not only at the end of the path but while you are on the path’.

Remember as a yogi you are naturally , happy, healthy, spontaneous and creative and full of love, all the time, on and off the mat. Yoga is the fastest and surest way to transform your thinking and find peace and calm….which as we know is your natural default setting.

The real magic of a yogi is his or her permanent cheerfulness, boundless energy and success and quality in everything they do. It can be quite annoying for some people.

Young people are stretching, doing a yoga exercise.

Your fellow yogis have spent thousands of years learning how to deal with life’s ups and downs and the pressures of the day that challenge us all. So in your practice you are not only testing out and putting into practice what the ancient yogis discovered but you are also adding to the world through your own practice.

Quite a responsibility then…

For everyone just starting out and as reminder to others we focus on 12 core postures together with breathing , relaxation and concentration. Remember yoga means ‘union’, integration, joining together which means we seek a balanced and unified practice to yoga, using and combining all yoga methods and techniques.  You can download a crib sheet for the 12 core postures and crib sheet on Salute to the Sun here. Both of these routines form the core of an authentic yoga routine.

Dont forget our Back on Track for 2013. Back on Track workshops for 2013 next weekend too. There are some places left in Chrloton and Hazel Grove.

So here we go at the start of 2013. Remember, you are in the right place doing precisely what you are supposed to be doing.

YogaLife is all about how to be a yogi in the world.

Very Happy, Spontaneous You…

Well we did it. Congratulations to everyone who took part in what was our first Yoga in Action workshop. We got messy, we got busy, we got spontaneous and we got in the flow…..the flow of course is where we find our own happiness.

Here are some first pictures…we will do a longer post once we have downloaded all the images.



Stay happy, Stay spontaneous. Stay present!

Act – don’t expect…

Preparing for our next workshop, ‘Happy, Spontaneous, Me’, has been a real challenge. The premise is the realisation that happy people plan for action not for results. This is real yoga in action where the emphasis is being present and productive through a simplicity and concentration on action that is not attached to results or what can be personally gained…A branch of yoga called Karma Yoga which this for me is the real true essence of yoga and of a YogaLife.








Yoga really begins to impact when you feel compelled to take a particular type of action in the world. The sort of action you never knew you thought you would or could do. Yoga happens when our formal practice, our inner work takes shapes and impacts in the world around us. This is something I discovered a long time ago through my own work. As we know yoga removes obstacles to a clearer picture of the world and our role in it. Yoga will eventually orientate us towards a worldview which sees everything connected and linked. Once we get that, everything we do in the world, with the right attitude, seems free flowing, achievable and effortless. I often seek for a ‘productive simplicity in my design and artwork. The result maybe complex but how we get there is straightforward.

So Happy Spontaneous Me will be a wonderful experiment and exploration into a yoga, which we often intuitively feel but don’t really utilise fully. We will learn to ‘switch on’ spontaneity. Spontaneity is when we get into the flow, and flow is when we are truly creative. When we are creative, we are happy. Yes it’s as simple as that. That is why it is better to create than compete….in other words act rather than expect and that way you feel present and here.