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December 2020: classes, workshops and a Yoga Nidra for…

I hope you’re doing OK.  For some, right now may feel like a bit of a struggle.  There’s not much sunlight around and perhaps your Christmas plans won’t be quite what you hoped for this year.

But we’ve come a long way and brighter times are in sight.  We’ve adapted, we’ve had to deal with change, which probably felt a bit uncomfortable at the time, but as a result maybe we’ve all grown a little…

During this unusual year I’m finding it essential to make time for the things that ground me and also give me a lift…getting into the great outdoors, connecting with others, nurturing seeds of ideas for the future and of course yoga!

Usually I take a break from teaching over Christmas, but this year I’ve had a few requests to run some extra Zoom classes to keep us all moving and connected. 😊

If you’d like to join me, here’s the schedule:

December classes

Last class at The Space: Tuesday, 22nd December

Last class at Tree of Life: Wednesday, 23rd December – you can also join this class on Zoom

Christmas Zoom class: Wednesday, 30th December

The normal schedule resumes on Tuesday, 5th January.

To book please visit: joshawyoga.com/classes

January yoga afternoon – Saturday, 9th January

In the New Year I’ll be running a yoga afternoon on Saturday, 9th January, 2pm to 5pm at Beeding and Bramber Village Hall.  It’s a lovely hall with plenty of space (social distancing will be a breeze!), plenty of parking and only a 15 minute drive from Hove.

During the afternoon we’ll be exploring how our practice – asana (postures), pranayama (breathwork), mantra (sound) and yoga nidra (yoga sleep) – can be a source of vitality for the whole body.  There are many unseen benefits – for our nervous system, respiratory system and digestive system to name a few.  The health of our internal systems underpins our sense of vitality.  As you’ll know if you’ve been coming to my classes, yoga is not just about stretching!

Each time we come to the mat we notice where we’re at – physically, energetically, emotionally and mentally – and this is our starting point.  As we begin to tune in, we can notice that yoga brings about a shift in these states.  We become aware that we have the tools to change our experience of the present moment.

If you’d like to join me, you can book via my website.  Gift vouchers are also (please email me at joshawyoga@gmail.com).

A Yoga Nidra for a winter’s evening

If you’re interested in finding out more about Yoga Nidra, or trying it yourself at home, I’ve uploaded a new recording to my website.  I hope you enjoy it.

I hope you all have a restful Christmas break,

Stay well and warm and I hope to see you soon,

Namaste,

Jo x

Autumn Yoga Mornings: riding life’s ups and downs with…

I took this picture just before lockdown, at a yoga exhibition at SOAS University of London (School of Oriental and African studies).  It’s amazing to think that the roots of yoga reach back all the way to texts called the Vedas, which were written 1500 – 1000 BCE.  And yet the practice of yoga is still as relevant as its always been – because the human condition remains the same.

Our experience of being human is ruled by our senses, which are hungry for stimulation and often overwhelm us.  We mistake passing thoughts, feelings, emotions and sensations for who we are.  We get caught up in our experience and our body and our mind get tied up in knots.

The word Yoga comes from the Sanskrit word “Yuj” meaning to yoke, join or unite.  We can think of yoga as a way to ‘yoke’ and control the senses when they overwhelm us and draw us out of ourselves.

Modern yoga asana (postures) are varied and complex, while early yoga asanas were predominantly seated postures.  The definition of asana in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali (4th Century CE) is simply ‘a steady and comfortable posture’.  How appealing that sounds in an increasingly fast and complex world!

I’m running three yoga mornings this Autumn, exploring how the practice of yoga can help us cultivate equanimity, ‘calmness and composure, especially in a difficult situation’.  We can’t control what happens to us, but our yoga practice can help us find new ways to respond.

News

Class Update Autumn 2020

Hello friends,

I hope you’re in good health and you’ve found ways to enjoy this unusual Summer.

2020 has asked us all to become more inventive and adaptable…little did we know a year ago that we’d be meeting on Zoom or in parks or gardens to practice yoga.  I’m very grateful that our yoga community has held together through the pandemic, at a time when we’ve needed our practice to ground us and keep us well.

Yoga class update

I have lots of news.  I’m pleased to say that I’ll be returning to teaching in studios in September.  My outdoor classes will continue until the end of the month (weather permitting) and my Thursday Zoom class will continue indefinitely.

Studio classes

Sadly, James and Sam Pickard will be closing The Healthy Living Company at the end of Summer.  I wish them luck for the future.

Happily, the studio on Northease Drive will be opening under new management and I will be running a class on Tuesday mornings, 9.30am to 11.00am (start date to be confirmed).

In addition, I’m very happy to say that I’ll be teaching at The Tree of Life Centre on Portland Road in Hove on Wednesday mornings, 9.30am – 11.00am and Thursday evenings, 7.30pm – 9.00pm.  The Tree of Life is a lovely venue – you can find out more at https://www.tolcentre.com/

Classes at Tree of Life will be starting on Wednesday, 9th September.

To ensure that classes are Covid compliant:

  • Class sizes will be limited to 6 students
  • Please bring along your own mat and blanket (and any other props you have)
  • I’ll bring along some additional equipment and then take it home with me again so I can clean it regularly.

How studio classes will work

Please book your space via my website (joshawyoga.com).  Tree of Life classes can also be booked via the Tree of Life website https://www.tolcentre.com/.

You have the option to book blocks of Tree of Life studio classes:

  • £12 drop in
  • £55 for 5 classes (£11 a class)
  • £100 for 10 classes (£10 a class)

Blocks of classes booked through the current system are for Tree of Life classes only.  However all payments come direct to me (rather than being held by the studio) and are valid for a year from the date of purchase.  I’ll update everyone on how payment for Hangleton classes will work in due course.

Anyone who is new to my classes is welcome to attend their first class for free and if you bring a friend, you and your friend receive a free class.  Please spread the word!

You can either contact me directly to claim this offer before you book a class via my website (and I will book spaces manually without payment) or I can refund payment to those claiming this offer after the class.

New Yoga Timetable from September

Monday or Tuesday in September (weather permitting)

9.30am – 10.45am: outdoor class (£8 – variable dates and venues) Book here

Tuesday (start date to be confirmed)

9.30am – 11.00am: Northease Drive, Hangleton

Wednesday (from Wednesday, 9th September) Book here

9.30am – 11.00am: Tree of Life Centre, Portland Road, Hove

Thursday

10.00am – 11.15am: Zoom Class (£8) Book here

(From Thursday, 10th September)

7.30pm – 9.00pm: Tree of Life Centre, Portland Road, Hove Book here

A yoga practice gives us an opportunity to step off the hamster wheel, to release tension in the body, to find freedom in the breath.  To sink beneath the distractions of our habitual thought patterns to a quieter place.  I hope you’ll be able to join me over the coming months.

Namaste,

Jo x

News

An update on plans for outdoor yoga classes

Hello friends,

I enjoyed teaching my first outdoor classes this week and happily the sun shone for us.

I plan to continue outdoor classes through the Summer (usually on a Monday or Tuesday, or both) depending on the weather and on family commitments.

Each Thursday I’ll have a look at the weather and add any new outdoor classes for the following week onto the website joshawyoga.com.

The venue will vary – next week we’ll be at Portslade Old Village Green (Locks Hill/South Street) on Monday and on Tuesday a student who lives in Portslade Old Village has kindly offered to host a class in her garden.  Anyone is welcome to book for either class.

If you have a good-sized garden and you’d like to host a class, please get in touch!

It’s so nice to finally see some of you in person.  And just to mention that my Thursday morning Zoom class continues every week, so even if it rains, we can practice together.  If you’re unable to join us live, you’re welcome to book and receive a recording of the class to watch at a time that works for you.

Namaste,

Jo xx

News

Letting go and embracing uncertainty

I thought it was time to get in touch with some of my thoughts on yoga, an update on my online classes and a link to a recording of one of my previous online classes.  If you haven’t tried an online class yet, you might like to take a look.
Letting go and embracing uncertainty

I hope you’re riding the ups and downs of lockdown in good shape.

Personally, the ups and downs have become less dramatic in recent weeks, but I must admit that this feeling of being in limbo is unsettling.  But I’ve been asking myself, what’s the struggle?

I feel that my freedom has been limited, but when I think about pre-lockdown times I’m aware that I was trapped in a web of habits (called samkaras in the yoga tradition) – a series of actions and thoughts that I carried out unconsciously, without reflection.  In lockdown I’ve felt a freedom and expansiveness that’s arisen from breaking free of these routines.

Can I set aside these habits for good and remain empty of expectation?

The answer is often no!  I want the kids back to school, I want our foreign holiday to go ahead and I want my indoor yoga classes back again!

But this is the practice…noticing that I have a strong attachment to things I think will make me happy and an aversion to letting go, surrendering to the unknown.  Noticing the freedom that arises from knowing that the future will unfold as it wishes, regardless of my thoughts or desires.

Looking after our nervous system
Yoga has so much to offer us in times like this, not least in terms of the effect our practice has on our nervous system.

The Government is telling us to ‘stay alert’.  Being vigilant requires us to be in a ‘fight or flight’ mode in our nervous system, ready to fight the invisible enemy.  When our body is ready for action our heart rate increases, our blood pressure rises, our breathing becomes faster and shallower and we release the stress hormones adrenalin and cortisol.  This can be very useful in the short term if we need to respond quickly to danger, but we’re not designed to remain in this state for long periods of time.   If we do so, our health is detrimentally affected.

The nervous system is governed by the vagus nerve and the health of our nervous system is referred to as our ‘vagal tone’.  Yoga helps to settle the nervous system.  When we’re in ‘rest and digest’ mode, the body performs activities such as digesting, detoxifying and building immunity.  This is when healing and regeneration occurs.  Yoga helps us to develop a high vagal tone, enabling us to be resilient in stressful situations, maintain a strong immune system as well as general physical and psychological wellbeing. Things that are vital right now.

Yoga class news
Zoom classes

You’re probably aware that from the beginning of April to the end of June I’ve been asking for donations to my Justgiving page for Hangleton and West Blatchington Food Bank in lieu of payment for classes.  I’m thrilled to update you that at the time of writing I’ve raised just over £1,500!  Thank you for your generosity.

The Trustees of the Food Bank are incredibly grateful.  They’ll be spending the money on Asda deliveries, topping up food donations from the public with essential items that they run low on.

Thinking of trying an online class?

If you’re curious to try one of my online classes, why not give it a go: https://youtu.be/RGnjgttYkSs *  For this class you’ll need a sturdy chair (no arms), a couple of blankets and a folded towel or firm cushion.  Using Zoom is a surprisingly effective way of practicing yoga, in the comfort of your own home, at a time that suits you.

*If you have an injury or an ongoing condition that may affect you’re ability to participate in an online class, please get in touch with me at joshawyoga@gmail.com before trying the class.

Starting with the class on Thursday, 2nd July, I’m changing the way you book and attend online classes.

This is how it’ll work:

  • You’ll be able to book and pay for the class via my website, joshawyoga.com.
  • The cost of each class will be £8.  You’ll be able to pay by card via the website.  Once you’ve paid, you’ll be emailed a link to the class.
  • To make life easier, you’ll be able to book more than one class at a time if you wish.
  • After the class you’ll also receive a recording of the class, which will be available for a week (until I upload the next recording).
  • If you’re unable to attend the live class you’re still welcome to book and you’ll receive the recording after the class.
A couple of other things to mention:

I’ve added some extra information onto my website, such as Terms of Service and a Privacy Policy.   After listening to a few podcasts about teaching yoga online I thought this would be a good idea.

I also have a new email address – ‘joshawyoga@gmail.com’ – though you’ll still be able to reach me on my current address, ‘joshawsteps@gmail.com’.

Studio classes and Mid Summer Yoga Day Retreat at Daylands Farm

We still have no idea when indoor classes will be permitted, so sadly I’m not going to be able to run my Yoga Day Retreat at Daylands Farm.  I like to think of this as a postponement rather than a cancellation, somehow that feels less disappointing!  I’ll be in touch with a new date at some point in the future.

On a positive note, it’s my intention, weather permitting, to run a few outdoor yoga classes in Greenleas, the recreation ground close to The Healthy Living Company.  I’m waiting until more than six of us are able to meet outside before I arrange this. 

Final thoughts
I think each phase of lockdown has had its own challenges.  Right now we’ve been in lockdown for what feels like a long time, which no definite end in sight.

But the only thing we can rely on is change. Things will shift and we’ll find ourselves in a different place, mentally if not geographically!

In the meantime, my intention is to live in the now – with gratitude, an open mind and an open heart, as the future unfolds.

Namaste,

Jo x

News

Spring Equinox

Hi everyone,

I hope you’re all doing OK. 

Today is the Spring Equinox and I’d like to share a Spring Equinox Meditation with you.  It’s on Insight Timer, which has loads of fantastic resources you can access. You can download the app onto your phone in minutes and it’s free.

When I first sat quietly I was aware of all the Adrenalin flooding my nervous system.  It felt intense to be sitting and allowing my thoughts, feelings and emotions to flow.   But as we do in class, I imagined my breath (along with tension and anxiety) flowing out into the ground beneath me.

This is a very gentle guided meditation, but if sitting quietly feels overwhelming, stop, take a deep breath open your eyes or even come back to it another time.  Take the same approach with meditation as you do with your physical practice – approach strong sensations/emotions, explore the edges and soften off if you need to. 

It can be helpful to notice how an emotion manifests as a physical sensation.  Notice where it’s located in the body and send your breath there.  See if you can be present with the sensation and notice as it starts to subside.

Online classes

Moving from face-to-face classes to online classes is a steep learning curve and I’m currently working out the best way to do it.  I’ll be home schooling the boys from Monday, so I also need to see how that unfolds.  It’s tempting to rush ahead but I’m trying to follow my own advice – breathe, be present and let the best way forward reveal itself!  No doubt you’re all trying to do the same.

Sending love – may we all be happy, healthy and at peace.

Jo xx

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Postponing all my classes

Hi everyone,

I’m getting in touch to let you know that in the light of the Government announcement last night I’ve decided to postpone all my classes until we’re the other side of this pandemic.

Please check my new website joshawyoga.com for updates – the website’s a work in progress so please bear with me!

I’m going to explore uploading some online classes onto my website, so we can all keep moving and take care of ourselves at home.  I’ll send you an update on my progress with the world of technology in the next week or so.

In the meantime, I’m personally limiting my exposure to the media and trying to settle into the new ‘normal’.  I’m reminding myself that this time will pass.  Stress compromises your immune system, so it’s really important to do things that you find relaxing.  10 ‘who breaths’ – breathing in through the nose and out through pursed lips – is a great practice to help ground you, slow down your heart rate and bring your nervous system into ‘rest, heal and digest’ mode.

Sending love to all – stay well and I’ll be in touch soon,

Jo  xx