Malvern Wells Yoga

Smile, it's yoga! Yoga classes in the Malvern area.


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Curved Balls!

Sometimes life throws you curved balls.

Why did I decide to look for a yoga studio? Way back in February when the Severn was flooded, something told me to look for somewhere better to hold my yoga classes. I was sick of smelly church hall carpets, spiders, glitter on the floor, the burlesque class in the next room…. As it happened I found my yoga studio. And it’s perfect. I knew I wanted it as soon as I saw it. My aim was to create a haven of peace, two storeys above Church Street in Great Malvern.

I never imagined that 2 years after qualifying as a yoga teacher, I would be opening my own space in Great Malvern. My heart is totally centred in this town. I never thought I would put down roots in any place other than my home town, but we’ve been here for 17 years now, and I can’t think of anywhere else I would rather be. I feel like I belong. Like part of the furniture. This is my home, I love the place, and nothing makes me happier than to be able to create my yoga studio in the very heart of it.

Lots of hard work later, me, Chris, my Mum & Dad, Sharon & Spence, lovely Sue and the gorgeous Miranda, (but mainly me & Chris) have created an amazing space for yoga and all things mindful. Everyone who has been so far has declared it to be peaceful and beautiful. What more could I ask for after all this hard work? I ruined my Converse when I was cleaning the front steps…. All in the name of my love for yoga, for this space, and you guys.

Sometimes life throws you other curved balls.

My HS (hidrandenitis suppurativa) does not like change. Neither does this sciatica that I seem to have developed. Whenever my right piriformis is compressed for any length of time, it starts to complain, butt goes numb, eventually whole leg, even foot goes numb…. And the HS just protests every time something changes in my life, new job, new yoga studio… god forbid I take a holiday or anything, then it’s even worse! The pain is the pain, is the pain. It’s so constant that I barely even notice it any more. Obviously sometimes it’s horrendous and you can’t continue to live a normal life, but while ever it’s just the day to day leakages and general hot spots, you can continue being a normal person. Just about. Don’t wear white trousers though when you have HS. It’s just not worth the constant paranoia!

Sometimes life throws you other curved balls.

It’s my birthday on Thursday. 37….. ahem!!!! It’s a whole year since I did 36 sun salutations on top of the Worcestershire Beacon to raise money for the HS Trust. This year I’m hosting a donation-based yoga class in my new studio. Thursday 14th August – 6pm. Let me know if you are coming. Expect sweaty flow, based on gratitude, expect some curved balls and postures you’ve never done before… but most of all expect cake!

Yogis & yoginis, I am eternally grateful for the love and support you are showing me in this new venture. I am humbled. Going forwards, it’s just so exciting as I add new classes and new teachers, new styles of yoga, mindfulness, meditation…. Great Malvern Yoga is underway. And I’ll be importing this blog to the new website. Keep y’all posted!

Namaste. Kxxx

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Farting and other stories (6 funnies from the yoga mat)

I am by no means a seasoned, veteran yoga teacher.  However, I’ve seen and heard some pretty funny stuff in my 15 months of teaching and I would like to share some of it with you.

1. Farting

Yup, if you are a frequenter of yoga classes, chances are either you or someone else in the class has farted.  What do you do?  Where do you look?  Do you pretend you’ve not heard?  What if it smells?  Luckily the folks over at DoYouYoga have made a helpful video to tell you what to do (funny).

Unfortunately what the video doesn’t tell you is how to hold in a fart if you are the teacher, or what happens when you hold in a fart for 90 minutes and then you sit down in your car and try to drive home…

2. The Fanny Fart

That’s right, the fanny fart.  This happens to me on rare occasions during shoulder stand or headstand.  It has never happened to me in Warrior 2 or Side Angle Pose.  In this particular instance, a lovely lady in my Tuesday class was in Warrior 2 when she let out what we all assumed was a bottom burp.  When it happened again and louder this time, she told us that it was what she believed is “commonly known as a fanny fart”!  Where do you put your face when this happens?  How do you rearrange your face into something resembling a composed Yoga teacher?  Perhaps the nice people at DoYouYoga will make another video…

3, The woman whose arms didn’t work

Sometimes at the beginning of class I like to do wrist warm ups.  Beginner students get tired wrists quite easily and I think it’s important to get the blood pumping into them before you start doing anything weight-bearing like downward dog.  Anyway, generally we do a few flexes of the wrist and some circles with the arms stretched out in front of us so that it works the deltoids as well.  One particular lady, fairly early on in my teaching experience, tried about two rotations, then said she couldn’t do it because it hurt her arms.  She then bent her elbows into her sides and proceeded to do the exercise like that.  It just looked incredibly funny… maybe you had to be there.

I find it really interesting that people often struggle to distinguish between mild discomfort and pain… but what do I know (see point 4)?

4. Being accused of being so bendy that yoga must be really easy for me

The only thing I can do is laugh when people say this to me… and it happens quite a lot.  Let’s get this straight, yoga is not easy for anyone.  The reason I am so flexible is I worked hard as a gymnast and a dancer when I was a kid and then later on as a yoga practitioner.  I have maintained my childhood flexibility BY WORKING HARD AND KEEPING MY BODY MOVING!  Being bendy is more of a curse than it is a blessing.  It is easy to over pronate and hurt myself really badly.  I work hard to develop my muscles in order to protect my flexible tendons and ligaments.  Injury is not funny.

5. The hardcore know-it-all Ashtangi

Again, this was fairly early on in my teaching career.  She put her mat right at the front of the class, scowled at me as I described ujayii pranayama as sounding a bit like Darth Vader (I had two blokes in the class, I thought it would appeal to them), her chaturanga was better than mine, she ignored my instructions and did her own things and her headstand was a perfect straight-leg lift.  At the time I was mortified.  I wanted to throw a diva strop and ask her to come to the front and teach the class instead of me.  She’s never been back to one of my classes since.  I don’t really care about that.  She taught me a very valuable lesson, not to let my ego get in the way of delivering a good, safe class for my students.  I think (I hope) that I now teach with a lot more grace and humility and I am confident in what I am doing.  My classes, taught my way.

6. Flower power pants

One of my lovely students wears black leggings that are somewhat transparent, especially in downward dog.  I have seen her flower power knickers quite often.  It always seems to be the same pair… maybe they’re her favourite pair for doing yoga.  Either way, it makes me smile!  I know some people have a problem with it (I’ve read enough blog posts about lululemon pants to have picked up that some people consider totally opaque leggings essential).  Who cares?  As long as you show up and do your practice, who gives a f*ck what you wear.  I do it in my pyjamas on Sunday mornings.


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One of the best things that ever happened to me

One of the best things that ever happened to me was getting made redundant.

Yes, I know – shock horror – being told that you are going to be made redundant feels like the worst thing in the world at the time. It felt like I had been punched in the stomach. It felt like my heart was being ripped from my chest. I felt let down, like I’d done something wrong. It felt like I was being victimised. One takes it very personally.

But, y’know what? Almost two years later, to the day, I can quite honestly say that I would probably still be sitting there at my desk listening to the gossip and the whining and wishing I was somewhere else. Getting on planes, getting off planes, waking up in a hotel room and thinking you’re in Lyon, but actually you’re in Milan, spending an obscene amount of money at a Clinique counter in Brussels airport because my flight was delayed and I was bored (Heathrow T5, also a favourite). Sitting in meetings wishing I was somewhere else, being so stressed the only thing you can do is cry. Standing for hours in killer heels being nice to people on exhibition booths, again you’re in so much pain you just want to cry.

I remember driving through Zaventem with my colleague one morning and I told him that I was going to be a yoga teacher. This was before I knew I was going to be made redundant. This was what I sat at my desk and dreamt about whilst I was supposed to be devising lead generation strategies. Dunno if he remembers, but I’m sure he didn’t believe me at the time.

Now I’m doing something I love. Yes, I still have a day job, in marketing and it’s just down the road. Don’t get me wrong – I am VERY grateful for this job. The people I work with are tremendous and you couldn’t ask for nicer colleagues. The job is challenging and stressful, but it’s so much more tolerable because at 5pm I can take off my marketing hat and put on my yoga pants.

If I hadn’t been made redundant I would never have been able to afford to train to be a yoga teacher. I never saved anything, I would just fritter it away on designer clothes and killer heels so that I could stand on more exhibition booths knowing that I was one of the best dressed there. Yet one of the first lights at the end of the tunnel upon knowing that I was going to be made redundant, was the fact that I knew with complete clarity that I would be spending some of my redundancy money on yoga teacher training.

This weekend I’ve taught on a retreat for The Clover Mill. I teach there every Monday, but this weekend Julie asked if I would be willing to teach the whole weekend. I was honoured to be asked. To me, it means I’ve come a long way in my teaching that Julie had enough faith in me to let me teach her weekend retreaters. What an experience! I’ve gone from knee-quaking experiences during my teacher training to trying to build up two evening classes per week (sometimes only teaching to one person, or none), to two successful evening classes, plus another one at The Clover Mill, and now this retreat.

I am so grateful to everyone that has stuck with me and supported me over these life-changing two years. I’ve met so many great people, new friends and old have been nothing but encouraging. I am eternally grateful that I was made redundant and I am eternally grateful that I can now share the gift of yoga with the world.


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Karma Yoga

Today we’ve been watching birds for the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch. It takes place several times per year here in the UK.

I love birds. We both do. When we moved to our cottage we were overwhelmed by the number of birds who visited our garden. It was pretty wild and overgrown, but we’ve spent the last two years clearing out the rubbish, chopping down some of the more wild aspects and generally trying to create a wildlife haven, not just for birds but for all manner of other animals too. Not in the least, two squirrels who visit regularly (we think they’re a couple and we’re hopeful that we might see some squirrel babies in the spring).

We keep our bird feeders topped up throughout the year and we make sure that our birdbath is full of clean water too. Trying to keep our three cats away is challenging at times, especially in spring, but we manage ok and casualties are minimal.

So anyway, what does this have to do with Karma Yoga?

Yoga is not just about the asanas (postures). There are different aspects or “Paths” of yoga. One of them is Karma Yoga. Karma Yoga is the path of selfless action and/or service. It is nothing whatsoever to do with the karma sutra… (why is it that when you tell people you’re into yoga, they automatically think that it means bendy or kinky sex?)….

When I first began yoga (many moons ago), I wasn’t massively into serving or helping anyone outside the immediate four walls of my house, or my close family. I definitely think/know that through my yoga practice I’ve become more aware and more compassionate towards other lives around me.

To practice Karma Yoga, you need to remove the “I” from it. Whilst you’re at it, also remove the “ought to” and the “got to”. Don’t be arrogant about what you are doing, don’t sit there and polish your halo. This is not Karma Yoga. Karma Yoga is selfless. Do it out of kindness. By all means, do it because you want to… but not out of a sense of duty.

Think about the Karma Yoga you can practice. Maybe you can visit an elderly neighbour or relative. Perhaps you can offer some of your time to the local dog shelter because they always need people to go in and walk the dogs. Think about how you can use your skills for the good of others. If you’re a cook, why not volunteer at the local soup kitchen? Even buying an extra tin at the supermarket and putting it in the food bank, somebody, somewhere will be thankful of your tin. Or maybe just feed the birds in your garden, help them to grow big and strong to protect themselves against the inevitable bad weather to come, and hope that in spring they’ll be able to have birdy babies to form a new generation.

Think about one thing you can do, would be glad to do, that could help make a difference to someone’s life.


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Yoga websites worth looking at

I like yoga websites. Websites about yoga. In the old days (before I became a yoga teacher), I used to like websites about shoes, and handbags. I still do… but I spend more time reading about yoga than I do buying shoes. How times change! And anyway, I already have way too many pairs of shoes.

For this week’s blog post I thought I would share some of my favourite yoga websites. Please don’t think I agree with every single post on these websites. Sometimes they can be a bit controversial… but worth checking out if you want to read more about yoga, maybe deepen your practice, find the best alignment in a pose, learn about pranayama – honestly, the list is endless.

1. Do You Yoga
I’m actually an Ambassador for Do You Yoga. It’s also the home of the 30-day yoga challenge with Erin Motz. Recently they also launched the most successful yoga-based Kickstarter project ever (more about this at some point). Kino McGregor, deeply cool Ashtanga teacher, is also on there sharing her wisdom about poses. A recent favourite post on there has to be Why Savasana is the Hardest Pose… And How to Master It. It’s a light-hearted website, taking a mainly humorous look at yoga.

2. Elephant Journal
I would say that Elephant Journal is more spiritual, more serious than website number 1. It’s not all about yoga either. Quite a lot of it is not about yoga at all. There’s a wealth of information on there from appreciating your husband to this article about productivity. There is definitely something for everyone. It’s worth noting though that you need to sign up if you want to read more than 5 articles per day.

3. Yoga Journal
The Yoga Journal website has everything. A great blog, recipes, practice videos, hints and tips, explanations of postures… If you are ever confused about any aspect of yoga, just visit the Yoga Journal website and it is guaranteed you will find an answer. It has been my goto resource for a long time. Try this useful guide to chakras on the blog. And check out the Pose Finder database.

There are hundreds of websites about yoga, but these three are a good place to start. There is something for everyone on all of these sites. Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned class attendee, take the time to deepen your practice by reading what other people have to say about it, and indulge yourself in the wisdom.

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