Tag Archives: yogalife

Meditation. Art or Science?

Its clear that meditation and mindfulness have, over the last few years become a major area of scientific investigation.

On the whole this is a good thing because it has taken this very ancient practice back into the main stream. And if there ever was time we needed to reconnect with essentially human practice –  its NOW!

However go to any mindfulness conference these days and almost all presenters will show you a picture of a working brain, a Buddhist monk sitting in a scanner and a set of graphs showing something or other…

There is lots of talk on how meditation practice changes brain structure and mass. How it repairs and builds neural pathways. There is also lots of talk about emotional intelligence, kindness and compassion.

This is all good stuff but the concluding analysis is limited staying very much on the surface. Many scientists have trouble with the C words – There are two of them:

Creativity

 Consciousness

From where I am sitting they are pretty much the same thing.

But much scientific analysis on meditation resists defining these essential forces, which makes for a bland definition and shallow analysis of what is happening in meditation and why we do it.

It’s all a question of what consciousness and creativity are and where they come from? Many scientists will tell you they are functions of the brain. Others will tell you it’s the other way around. The brain is a manifestation of creative consciousness. That’s the whole point of meditation. To open up to deeper level of being and know that unitive experience.

By just assuming from the start, that everything happens in brain and that its the source of consciousness and creativity limits a really profound analysis of what is really happening and cuts across what is the experience on many long term meditators, artists, designers etc… Its a little like looking for the source of your favourite radio station inside you radio.

Its not there!

Science tells how the world works. Art tells us why the world works.

Now think about the question?

Real Yoga + Real Food = Real Life

This weekend we hosted our very first food based yoga workshop with Hannah Patterson from Make it Healthy.

Three hours just flew by as Mick gave a talk on the gunnas and led a  posture and breathing based routine focused on prana flow emphasising twists and abdominal body work.

Hannah demonstrated the making of a powerful green juice, ginger balls and a very tasty carob smoothie. We finished with a wonderful pumpkin pie made by Hannah in honour of Halloween.

All in all a fantastic workshop designed to show how yoga practice can be taken off the mat and into day-to-day life with the choices we make on how and what we eat.

Thank you everyone for making the event a big success. You can visit Hannah’s web site here for the recipes…

 

You are Now…

Last night

In our Ready for the Week class we looked at what union means in yoga practice.  We know that the purpose of yoga  is ultimately ‘unitive’ experience of our inner centre of consciousness. But on the way to that goal there are many other smaller ‘unitive’ experiences that point towards the bigger picture.

A deeper connection

Through practice we begin to feel more connected to what we do, to who we are, towards others and what they are doing and how they feel. We begin to notice a deeper connection to the world, to its nourishment,  to its livelihood as we begin to notice more and more those events, actions and attitudes that get in the way of connection. When our sense of connection develops and grows we notice other ‘unitive’ moments. We begin to feel ‘present’. We begin to notice that somehow that feeling of being present is connected to how we perceive,  how we take notice, pay attention – how we connect attention to experience.  Not seeing things as we think they should or shouldn’t be. Just as they are…

We know ourselves

When that happens it will take your breath away as our sense of being present in the now opens us up to a whole multi-verse of possibilities. The body relaxes, the breath softens, the mind hums with creative clarity and potential. We see the world as it is,  as if for the first time. We know ourselves, if only for a moment. We intuitively know that somehow the very content, purpose and form of the moment is directly linked with how we perceive and inhabit it. Once we are receptive to this unitive experience we know, as Eckert Tolle tells us  we are not just in the now. We are the Now

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New ways to invest in your yoga…

After talking to many of our regular YogaLifers we are changing the way you can purchase your YogaLife Project classes.

We will run three classes a week each with its own focus:

Starting from September 1st 2015 we will offer three ways for you to pay for your YogaLife Project classes:

 Option 1: YLP 8 Class Pass:

Any 8 classes – to be used within two months. Valid from the date of your first class.

£64.00 (works out at £8 /class)

Option 2: YLP 16 Class Pass:

Any 16 classes – to be used within 4 months. Valid from the date of your first class.

£112.00 (works out at £7/class)

Option 3: YLP Drop –In Classes:

Pay as you go. £9.00 per class. Or you can use your YLP Class Pass.

Purchase your new YogaLife Project Class Pass card here… 

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YLP Special offers:

Membership Discounts:

You can enjoy 10% reduction to the cost of any YLP workshop if you are in possession of a valid YLP Class Pass Card at the time of booking the workshop.

Introduce a friend or colleague:

The YLP is really grateful that many of you are spreading the word about the YLP and encouraging others to sign up to the Project. So from now on if you introduce a friend or colleague to the YLP and they purchase a card you can receive one free extra class to your YLP Class Pass.

YLP Good karma:

As usual free classes/cards are available to anyone who contributes their skills, creativity and time to help the YLP in marketing, workshops, events, projects etc…

Terms & Conditions.

Lovely people…

We have just completed our latest YLP Yoga Basics Course. The course is organised over eight, 1.5 hour classes and is designed to introduce basic yoga practice, science and philosophy. Over the 12 hours we learn how to complete the Solar Salutation, the 12 core postures, yogic breathing, relaxation and just be…

As with all YLP classes and workshops its all designed to be inclusive, encouraging, fun and engaging. No one gets left behind… You can find out about our Yoga Basics Course here…

In the meantime here is a picture of the lovely people who took part in our last Yoga Basics Course…

YLP YogaBasics

 

Changing things…

You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.

-R. Buckminster Fuller

So many of the problems we face in life and in our world are rooted in us having a limited experience of who we really are.

If we could change our view and recognise ourselves not just as separate physical individuals, but part of a larger interconnected whole we may find ourselves leading a different life towards a more thriving, purposeful, sustainable world. Imagine what that new world would be like. Its starting to take hold in some places but there is a lot of work to do if this new model, as Bucky says, makes the current world obsolete.

The current model is clearly not working anymore. We are beginning to see that the existing paradigm – more of the same, will ultimately be self-digesting. We may need to move fast before it’s too late. Going to the odd yoga class may seem pointless, but the new model starts with you and your yoga practice- providing you with the tools to design and inhabit that world.

We now live in an age of conformity and control. Many of our institutions have succumbed to the idea that being rational, left brained, materialistic, economic, target driven survival of the fittest is the most important and that everything else is secondary. Just witness how education, health, environment, energy, transport, business, entertainment and building homes have all just been sucked dry by a market first, ‘survival of the fittest’ mentality. The world may appear to be bright, colourful, full of vitality and opportunity, but this is just maya (illusion).

None of the old paradigm is designed to help you regain or even realise an authentic, integration with your personal life and purpose. As soon you find that deeper awareness, the ‘unitive’ inner reality you will notice a softening of maya. It becomes translucent, allowing you to see and know a little more. When the world ‘everywhere’ seems a little brighter, more colourful, more purposeful, you know you have started to empower your inner architect towards designing and building the better model.  And then you start to explore that vital inner knowing of who you really are, what the cause of your ‘aliveness’ really is and how it shapes the world.

So choose the art and science of yoga to help you and others, your community, workplace and home thrive, adapt, change and grow. We all take small steps, but even these will bring profound change and expanded awareness in what you do and who you are – everyday.

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Richard Buckminster “Bucky” Fuller was an American architect, systems theorist, author, designer, and inventor. Fuller published more than 30 books, coining or popularising terms such as “Spaceship Earth”

A Natural Unfolding…

 

Many people are completely ‘wrapped up’ in themselves. You can see these wrapped people everywhere – in the way they dress, talk, act, think…..they are sometimes on the Six O’clock news. They live in your street, work in your office. They are everywhere!

They are wrapped up so tightly that you can’t see what’s inside. They also can’t see out, so neither of you get to know what is really there. The wrapped people often don’t know they are wrapped until its too late and the wrapping gets so tight, so overwhelming they they can’t breathe. They can’t see, they cant feel….

Yoga is the key to loosening and eventually removing the wrapping. To practice yoga in all its forms is to know and experience a gentle, natural unfolding of the wrapping. And instead a feeling exposed, the feeling is of freedom. The unfolding reveals a lightness, a confidence and creative momentum of purpose which previously went by un-noticed.

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Drawing without purpose…

Last month we hosted an amazing Happy Spontaneous Me workshop as part of Chorlton’s famous Arts Festival. We are pleased to showcase a little piece from yogi Hannah Patterson who took part. We love the pictures from Hannah’s little shrine…

The combination of yoga and drawing is surprisingly beautiful. Not only will you express yourself from a deeper place, you create something to display that is a reminder of how perfect the present moment actually is, no matter how you’re feeling.

Within the workshop, we were guided through meditation and simple yoga postures and then asked to put pen/crayon to paper with some specific techniques. These techniques weren’t to teach you how to draw properly. Quite the opposite. You experienced how to draw without purpose, perfection or judgement. We were encouraged to draw with feeling, allowing our hand to wander across the blank page aimlessly. Very therapeutic.

The reason I love yoga so much is because it allows me to let go of the need to be perfect and achieve. I find peace in the postures and zone out from the people around me and I give up my urge to compete. In fact, I am merely comforted by the closeness of others. Happy Spontaneous Me gave me an opportunity to experience this two fold. After the yoga postures, we’d turn to the page to again connect with our inner world as well as having the closeness of those next to us – knowing that they too were connecting with their own self.

I’d really recommend attending one of Mick’s workshops or classes. If you’re new to yoga, it’ll be a beautiful introduction to your journey. If you’re a regular practitioner, you’ll experience an authentic class and gain a little more wisdom to add to your tool kit.

Here are some pictures of one of my drawings from the workshop – it is part of my shrine at home as I genuinely think it is a brilliant expression of myself at the time. It may look totally arbitrary but to me it’s a reminder of my happy spontaneous self.

hannahp_2You get in touch with Hannah here and find out about her inspiring work with healthy foods and healthy living…

Getting into the flow….

On Wednesday 20th May Mick is leading the special yoga in action YLP workshop Happy Spontaneous Me, as part of the Chorlton Arts Festival.

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Happy Spontaneous Me, combines ancient yoga science and practice with the latest thinking on ‘flow’, creativity and happiness. The workshop takes the form of an active meditation, merging being and doing into one – a favourite theme at the YogaLife Project. Using simple techniques such as repetitive and free mark making on large sheets of paper, using chalks, pastels, pens etc, we begin by utilising a yoga mind set to connect, moment-to-moment with what we are doing. You can chose any action to be a flow creating activity. What is key is your relationship to the activity. Its not what you do its how you do it that’s important, and this is where yoga science comes in.

Being and Doing…

This is yoga practice, which can be taken off the mat and into the realm of where everybody lives and works. It teaches you to take notice, observe and find harmony with what ever you are doing. This experience is sometimes defined as autotelic awareness, or ‘flow’ when we are fully and consciously immersed into, and with whatever you are doing purely for its own sake. The term autotelic derives from the Greek, ‘auto’ meaning, self, and ‘telos’ meaning goal or task. When we are in the flow, action is effortless and smooth. The moment fully lived.

Happy Spontaneous Me, points to a deeper form of yoga practice called Karma Yoga or the yoga of action. At the YLP we call this ‘Being and doing’, where work is done without some future expectation of reward in mind but just for the sheer joy of doing it. When we pay attention to the activity for its own sake, not thinking about future results or past mistakes we become centred, we stay present. We are in our own yoga state or ‘union’ – the goal of yoga.

To get into the flow experience we have to change our mode of thought from trying to exert force over what we are doing towards an imagined result, to aligning our action with an inner harmony and intuition. This is an essential and fundamental yoga teaching that leads towards a happier more creative and fulfilling life. We are in a world now of image, appearance and desire. Most people are fooled into confining themselves this world placing themselves onto never ending treadmill of expectation, desires, and rewards. We know this causes frustration, anger and unhappiness. But its possible to step off the treadmill, still be in the world, but free, once we realise where real happiness and creative contentment can be found.

But I am not creative…

Yes you are! If you breathe, you are creating yourself everyday moment-by-moment. Imagine if you could harness that amazing, powerful creativity and direct it with purpose into the heart of your everyday.

Everyone is creative – that’s the whole point. The fact is that when you are in your yoga flow, self created expectations, desires or limiting feelings about oneself are stilled. They simply do not matter. You will feel in total control, present and fulfilled. In the workshop, emphasis is on letting go, stepping outside your comfort zone and learning to get out of the way.

During the workshop we will learn to:

  • Understand how to make any activity into a flow or yoga experience.
  • Unlock your creative flow and liberate your inner joy
  • Develop a sense of meaning, effortless control and involvement in what you are doing.
  • Discover a deeper a sense of self and your purpose.
  • Feel what it means to be totally present and not lost in an imagined future or past.
Life flows through you…

When we practice this technique correctly and with an open heart you will sense a new type of reality different to what you feel in your day. A world of effortless, creative being where your sense of self and purpose is there to be felt and acted upon. A richer, rewarding more creative life that flows from and through you and not determined by the imagined expectations but being right here, right now.

At Happy Spontaneous Me we use mark making and drawing as a way of supplying a simple creative flow producing action. We use timed exercises, combined with breathing and drawing, fast mark making, flowing and mindful action techniques combined with guided relaxation and special pranayama. The main technique is karma yoga combined with jappa (simple repetitive) action. Mick will guide you through all of these techniques to get you into the flow…You will not need any art or yoga experience.

You can book you place at Happy Spontaneous Me here.

All material is provided

Empowering your inner architect:

How Cognitive Hypnotherapy and yoga can share the same space.

A very special guest post from Sally Heady. Lawyer, Cognitive Hypnotherapist and Yogi...
A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending Mick’s expertly led workshop ‘Be the architect of your own world’. Three hours sped by as we were guided through the expected (gentle yoga postures, deep relaxation, breathing exercises) to the slightly less-travelled terrain of conscious introspection where we were taught key principles to leading a happier, fulfilled life.

As a lawyer and Cognitive Hypnotherapist I am a pragmatist at heart which is why this workshop appealed to me. I am always on the lookout for practical tools for change, as simply telling myself not to worry doesn’t tend to get me, or my clients, very far.

On leaving the workshop I was struck by the similarities between Mick’s work and the messages I try to convey to clients as a Cognitive Hypnotherapist:

We make up our own reality

This is an idea that is sometimes met with a raised eyebrow. But it is absolutely true. We only experience reality through information that is filtered in through our five senses. Interpretation of our reality is constructed by our brain, based on experiences and memories that are created over our lifetime and are stored unconsciously.

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Why is it that some people can just stand up in front of a room of people and confidently deliver a presentation, cracking jokes without even breaking a sweat? And for others the mere thought of standing up in front people leaves them feeling sick, pale, shaking and sprint in the opposite direction?

The difference lies in the perceiver, normally as a result of the unconscious patterns the brain has created based on past events. If you were routinely humiliated by an evil Mrs Trunchbull-esque character when you stood up in front of class, you are more likely to develop a fear of public speaking. Either way, both presenters will experience an identical situation in completely different ways which will feel equally ‘real’ to them.

Tools for change

The good news is that there is such a thing as ‘neuroplasticity’; the structure of our brains can be changed and unhelpful memories or emotions don’t have to hold us back the way they used to. Whilst I use a range of techniques to resolve specific problems or achieve certain goals, I utilise some key principles shared with yoga that can enhance anyone’s general well-being. Here are just a couple of examples of how we can shift our perception:

  1. Utilising the power of the mind/body connection– many negative emotions are accompanied by physical sensations. Common examples are feeling sick, fatigued, increased heart rate, sweating or blushing. As emotions can create a physical response in the body, we can use the body to calm the mind. In yoga deep, mindful breathing is used to gently and easily calm the body and slow the mind down. I am a huge advocate of the 7/11 breath (in for 7 seconds, out for 10), which has brought great results for clients in interviews and driving tests.
  2. The power of kindness – studies in positive psychology have shown that kindness makes us feel good. When we give to others and look outside of ourselves our stress levels decrease, we tend to feel more optimistic and we gain an increased sense of gratitude even when we are doing the giving. Thousands of years before these studies were conceived, Yoga tradition has promoted the power of love, kindness and compassion for a greater sense of well-being.

random-act-of-kindness-1000x666If you want to learn more about how Cognitive Hypnotherapy can empower you in relation to specific issues or goals in your life then feel free to visit my website.

 

About Sally: I love working with clients to help them achieve their goal, in a way that works for them. If you are interested in working with me then please contact me for a free initial consultation and we can talk about how Cognitive Hypnotherapy could benefit you.

My sessions take place in Deansgate, Manchester.

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Click here to see Mick’s next workshop. Happy Spontaneous Me. A special creative flow workshop as part of the the Chorlton Arts Festival.

Happy Spontaneous Me workshop
Happy Spontaneous Me workshop