Since the start of Syria’s civil war, more than 11,000 children have been killed. Two million Syrian children are now refugees, forced from their homes by fighting, surviving in overstretched camps, cramped temporary accommodation or on the move.
On Sunday I was part of the team organising a charity workshop at Whitespace Yoga Studio in support of the work of Save The Children in Syria. So far the event has raised over £950. This will help Save The Children who has teams on the ground inside Syria right now delivering food, clean water and life-saving medicine to children who desperately need it. If you would like to read more about Save The Children’s work in Syria, there is information about the Syria Crisis Appeal on the Save The Children website.
If you would still like to donate, you can via JustGiving: https://www.justgiving.com/whitespace-studio
A huge thank you to the other teachers, all the wonderful people who donated and took part in the workshop, and to the people behind the scenes who made it possible. If you’d like, you can see more photos of the event on Whitespace’s Facebook page:
In November 2015, I was able to spend a weekend training with Kate Ellis on the Art of Teaching One-To-One organised by Whitespace Yoga Studio. Kate currently teaches on the triyoga Teacher Training and the Yoga Therapy Diploma course run by Yoga Campus.
Kate’s perspective is that teaching one-to-one is the traditional form of learning Yoga asana, and she describes how teaching one-to-one allows the teacher to follow the flow and energy of the student, be more student-led, individually attuned and focused — highlighting the relational aspect of the work and how rich the experience can be for both student and teacher. Although I expect Kate wouldn’t describe herself as a teacher of Ashtanga Yoga, for me her approach resonates strongly with how teaching is done within an Ashtanga Yoga assisted self-practice class, where teaching is one-to-one within a group setting. In Geraldine Beirne’s 2014 article in The Guardian, Geraldine writes:
[…] self-practice is the traditional way of practising ashtanga yoga and offers a highly personalised approach without the price tag attached to one-to-ones, and with all of the group energy of a conventional class. Here, you will be addressed by name, the teacher will know your practice inside out, and best of all, for me at least, this “class” is quiet – there’s very little talking and no new age music.
During the weekend with Kate, we worked through a range of poses in detail. Close attention was paid to what is it that we’re actually asking the human body to do when taking each pose, looking to simplify, and to develop patterns that can inform moving into more complex poses. A lot of the work was done in pairs, practising assessing the stability of the structure formed by the body, and working with some simple assists that support the student without taking them out of awareness or doing the work for them.
You can read more about Kate and her work at http://kateellisyoga.co.uk/, and there are more photos from the workshop on the Whitespace page on Facebook.
(Photographs from workshop © Whitespace Yoga & Wellbeing Studio 2015)
In November 2015, I was fortunate to attend a weekend of Ashtanga Yoga workshops with John Scott in Oxford, organised by Ian Macdonald (who has been organising Ashtanga Yoga workshops in Oxford for over 25 years). I did teacher training with John in 2012–13 but first met John in 2009, the first time he taught at Stillpoint Yoga London.
On Friday evening and Sunday morning John led a counted Primary Series practice. When John guides a led practice class he holds the group with a clarity of focus that is amazing. For me, it really lets the simplicity of the Ashtanga Yoga method shine through and creates a space for the group to practice together with one breath, one body, one thought.
On Saturday afternoon and Sunday afternoon there was technique work including counting the vinyasa movements in the Primary Series, with the group counting the vinyasa together out loud, practicing counting twelve breaths, looking at the movement and anatomical patterns in some of the primary and intermediate series asana, breath work and chanting, and plenty of philosophy and stories from John’s time with Pattabhi Jois.
September 2014 saw me visit BAYoga Studio in Berkhamsted for the first time for a weekend of assisted Mysore-style morning practice sessions and afternoon workshops with Lucy Crawford.
It was a warm weekend, the last real flush of summer, and I felt very at ease with my practice. Lucy’s adjustments and teaching are always very specific and that was just what I needed. In the afternoon workshops we explored foundations in asana practice, in various different forms.
In August 2014 at Stillpoint Yoga London, I attended a teacher training workshop presented by Brigid Godwin on integrating pregnant students into a yoga class.
The assisted self-practice ‘Mysore style’ method of teaching Ashtanga Yoga makes the practice very accessible to pregnant students — allowing for asana sequences and breathing practices to be adapted for each individual.
July 2014 saw me at Stillpoint Yoga London spending a week with David Keil for Mysore self practice, followed by a weekend workshop looking at hands-on adjustment techniques. Great to spend more time with David after teacher training.
David being assisted in trikonasana
Thank you to Ness Sherry for the photos!