Kula Yoga Open Day

It was a day to be remembered last Sunday at Kula Yoga Studio, with the 30 day challengers completing their Nourish, Nurture and Navigate challenge, it being Kula’s first birthday and heaps of new people coming in to check out the studio and give the classes a go.

We started out with an Intro to Flow class taken by the lovely Colin, in which newbies to both yoga and the studio got to experience the dynamic pace of Vinyasa flow.

From 2pm-4pm we had some beautiful girls from Pressed Juices and Rawsome organic chocolates come in to give everyone a try of their delicious products. The coconut- smoothie style juice was definitely a favourite, alongside the coffee crunch gluten and dairy free chocolate. I am sure everyone is now addicted to both!

The second round of guests then arrived for an Intro to Hot class lead by the wonderful Lauren. It’s safe to say everyone had their A-game on, enthusiasm and sweat levels were high, and everyone was keen to give all the poses a try.

There were prizes drawn at the conclusion of each of the classes, with yogis winning amazing LuluLemon yoga towels and osteo consults.

Without a doubt the Kula Open Day was a massive hit and owner Kacey should be so incredibly proud of what she managed to put together. Super impressive and no one could have asked for a more beautiful atmosphere in the studio that day.


Kula Yin Yoga Masterclass

On Sunday the 18th of August, Kula held it’s first ever Master Class and after such amazing success we can all be sure it will not be the last.
My Mum and I were of course the last ones to show up and were running around like crazy people trying to organise ourselves, but as soon as we got into the packed room there was this sort of relaxing but eager buzz about everyone.
The incredible Mysan Sidbo lead us through two hours of Yin Yoga, a practice that a lot of people in the room had never tried. It was an eye (and hip) opener as it is of course very different from the Yang practices that many of us yogis are used to.
We were all assured by Mysan that it is normal sometimes when you come out of holding a long Yin stretch to feel like a 102 year old woman, and that it helps you to sympathise when you do see elderly ladies walking extremely slowly down the street. Most importantly this means that you have worked into your fascia and ligaments- something many of us forget to do.
You realise the importance of working deep into the joints in Yin yoga, as it is hard to understand how much emotion and pressure is held in them until you try to release it.

Walking out of the studio at the end of the class- after almost falling asleep to Mysan’s soothing voice in relaxation, I was sure that I was going to be struggling to walk the next day, however I was not sore in the slightest and felt more open than I ever have before.
Through the laughs, the pain, the long poses, the bolsters and blankets, everyone learnt a lot about not only Mysan’s Yin Yoga but also about their own bodies.
Kula will be starting regular Yin Yoga classes at 8.30am on a Sunday morning and I can’t think of a better way to release and compliment other activities at the end of the week.

The Eight Limbs of Yoga

Not knowing anything about the eight limbs of yoga, the first things I thought of when I heard the phrase were my arms and legs. However upon typing it into Google I found that I wasn’t quite correct and that the eight limbs of yoga have a much more spiritual meaning than my literal translation.

The eight limbs of yoga represent a metaphorical eight-limbed path that basically forms the framework for yoga. Upon exploring each limb of the path, one will find that no one path is more important than another. There is no hierarchy controlling the order in which to say that one is more important than another; they rely on each other.

To summarise the eight limbs we have:

  1. Yama – universal morality
  2. Niyama- personal observances
  3. Asanas- body postures
  4. Pranayama- control of breathing
  5. Pratyahara- control of senses
  6. Dharana- concentration and cultivating inner perceptual awareness
  7. Dhyana- devotion, meditation on the divine
  8. Samadhi- union with the divine

The first limb of the path deals with integrity and ethics in everyday life. It relates on a level to the rule we all know as ‘do only to others what you would have them do to you’, and includes the likes of being truthful, non-violent and non-stealing.

The second limb, Niyama, relates to self-discipline and spiritual observances. It is about developing your own personal meditation process- whatever works for you. It could be going to church or making a habit of taking long thoughtful walks.

Asanas are the postures practiced in yoga. The body is a temple of spirit and by practicing the yoga postures (asanas) we allow ourselves to become more meditative and concentrative.

Pranayama is a word that you may have heard during your practices as we often partake in ‘Pranayama breathing’ at the beginning of a hot class. Pranayama generally translates to breath control and so implies mastering the respiratory system and the ability to recognize the connection between breath, the mind and emotions.

The fifth limb, Pratyahara means withdrawal or sensory transcendence. In this fifth limb we make a conscious effort to draw our awareness away from external stimuli, and focus internally. It gives us an opportunity to step back and take a look at ourselves.

Dharana, the sixth limb, is prepared for in Pratyahara and involves the element of concentration. Focusing inside, without the distractions of the external world, we can now deal with the distractions of the mind itself. I am sure I am not the only one who has often formulated a ‘to do list’ for the day in a morning yoga class, or debriefed myself on what I have achieved that day during a night class. This is where we need to slow down the thinking process and concentrate on a single point. If this can be achieved for extended periods of time, then a meditative state can be reached.

The seventh stage is Dhyana, which refers to meditation, or the uninterrupted flow of concentration. The distinction between concentration and Dhyana is that Dharana practices one-pointed attention, whereas Dhyana involves being keenly aware without focus. Who knew meditation, something that we all associate with relaxation and peace, could be such a difficult state to reach?

The final stage is a stage of happiness; sounds like something I can work with! Samadhi allows the meditator to realize a profound connection to the Divine and interconnectedness with all living things. It is apparently an experience of bliss at being at one with the Universe. It can even be described as a feeling of ecstasy. I cannot say I have ever managed to reach Samadhi, but after hearing that it is the ultimate stage of enlightenment, let’s just say I might be concentrating a little harder and harnessing a keener focus in order to get there.

Why Do We Salute the Sun?

From a young age we are taught that the sun is our life source, and that it basically makes the world go around. A sun salutation, or Surya Namaskar in Sanskrit, is our opportunity to say thanks to this glowing ball of fire for all it does for our planet. It is an opportunity to show our gratitude.

In almost every yoga class I have undertaken, there have been sun salutations involved. It is probably one of the first things that comes to mind when you think of the word yoga, no matter how much you actually know about them. The idea of a ‘sun salutation’ conjures images of yogis standing in tree pose with the rising sun in the background, but why do we salute the sun?

Light has often been thought of as a representation of self-illumination and in a physical sense; the sun is the world’s number one light source. Not only does it provide life to Earth, but in a less literal sense can be thought of as a symbol of consciousness.

For thousands of years, Hindus have thought of the sun as being sacred as it is the heart of our physical and spiritual world. Each sun salutation will end with one placing their hands, palms joined, on the heart and this is no coincidence. As the practice is a humble adoration of light, it is important to practice a sun salutation with concentration facing inwards, towards the heart. Each movement should be as mindful as possible.

Sun salutations are not just about the spiritual, they also have a lot of physical benefits. As powerful yoga poses have an impact on the heart, liver, intestine, stomach, chest, throat and legs, it is pretty much a whole body workout. A sun salutation will also purify the blood by improving circulation to all the major organs throughout the body, ensure proper functioning of the stomach, bowels and nerve centre. You will also of course find that muscles are strengthened in a sun salutation, particularly in the arms and waist, as many of you will know from doing those challenging chaturangas.

Sun salutations are traditionally performed in the morning to greet the new sun, however can be performed at any time to purvey our constant gratitude. The sun won’t judge us if we can’t wake up at the crack of dawn to salute it, although showing reverence towards it in the morning is a great way to get on karma’s good side for the day. Plus it is also a great way to feel in touch with ancient yogis, our ancestors if you will, as they would have awoken to salute the holy sun rising.

Whenever, wherever it is performed, a sun salutation is a fantastic way to invigorate and connect the mind, body and spirit.




A Short Speculation

In Adrian Miles’ introduction to the Networked Media course, something that resonated with me was this idea of ‘speculation’. He asked us to speculate on the word ‘speculate’, something that at first left me dumbfounded. I am sure many can relate when I say that I understand a concept a lot better when it is put into a context with which I am familiar, and so I decided to relate this idea, somewhat abstractly, to yoga.

The word speculate to me infers delving into an artifact, wondering how it will evolve in the future, even how it has evolved thus far. It could almost relate to meditation in that it suggests deep thought and focus. In saying this I am already beginning to speculate on the word speculate!

When I look back through how far yoga has come, and how many different styles exist in the world today, I wonder if anyone would have speculated such dramatic changes. Whether it be due to technological advancements or people’s desires for things that are new and shiny, there is no denying that yoga has managed to delve into many realms that I am sure very few would have imagined. From Bikram yoga, practiced in a 40 degrees Celsius room, to Antigravity yoga which is practiced in silk hammocks suspended from the ceiling, the once mostly meditative practice has taken on a new meaning.

This then leads me to speculate on what could possibly come next, and due to wandering minds and inspiring ideas floating around our planet, I believe it could be something even more left of centre. Perhaps yoga practiced in a freezing room? Or in a room made of mattresses?

Who knows, we can only speculate.