Malvern Wells Yoga

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


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Things I like

When I was a kid I used to write lists of things I liked.  Even though I’m an adult, I still think writing lists of stuff (as opposed to your work tasks or what you need from the supermarket) can be very cathartic.  A list like this can remind you to practice a little gratitude and it can conjure up happy memories of people or places.  When you’ve got the grumps, you can whip out your list and smile… so why not try it?  Make yourself a cup of tea, maybe get some chocolate, find a nice notebook and a pencil (no, the back of an envelope will not suffice) and write your list of things you like.  I have a couple of rules though:

1)  Don’t include individual people on your list.  So don’t name all 17 of your cats!

2) Don’t put music tracks you like.  This is a whole separate list!  Same goes for films.

3) Do put things you like doing, places you like, situations you like, foods you like, stuff you like reading about…

Here’s mine (in no particular order) and I’ve added in some helpful links!

  • Yoga
  • Birds of prey
  • Pizza (gluten free of course) – I have these babies on repeat order!
  • Cats (and all the cuddling opportunities therein!)
  • Big cats
  • Garden birds
  • Sunsets
  • Kissing in the rain
  • Wearing my pyjamas all day
  • Taking a bath
  • Washing my hair
  • Getting my nails done
  • Beautiful shoes
  • Beautiful views
  • Great conversation
  • Dinner with friends
  • Cooking
  • Cake (making and eating)
  • Watching the entire BBC version of Pride & Prejudice in one go
  • Reading yoga books
  • Reading trashy novels
  • Waking up late (not lounging around in bed, just waking up late)
  • Real genuine belly laughs (mine or anyone else)
  • Knitting
  • Little boxes
  • That smell when you walk into a hippy-type shop like Aquarius in Malvern, or Huckleberry Willow in Chesterfield (is that even still there?  Yup, apparently so!)
  • Hugs
  • Americano – black
  • Peppermint tea (it’s an obsession)
  • Flowers in my garden (the more colour, the better – honeysuckle, hydrangea and roses)
  • Trees (big ones, small ones – it doesn’t matter)
  • Midwinter Stonehenge Strawberry pottery (again, it’s an obsession)
  • Baking bread
  • Geocaching
  • Feeling the warmth of the sun on my face
  • Swimming in the sea
  • Riding my mountain bike
  • Walking on the Malvern Hills
  • The Peak District
  • The Lake District
  • Lyon
  • Playing in Newent Orchestra and feeling just a tiny part of that huge, powerful sound and almost being reduced to tears by it… thinking particularly of the time we played in Gloucester Cathedral
  • The Bran Tub in Malvern.  It’s like Mecca.
  • Coming home
  • Cuddling up in bed when it’s absolutely freezing outside
  • Proper traditional quilts
  • Autumn leaves
  • Beer
  • Growing our own vegetables
  • Bees
  • Getting ready to go out
  • Dancing like a demon
  • Cranking up the music in my car… or house
  • Speaking French
  • Hats

Now I’ve started, I could go on for hours.  I guess it’s a way for my readers to get to know me a bit more… but at the same time I urge you to write a list like this.  It’s fun!  Feel free to share yours.

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Whisperings

I’ve been having some treatment in the form of Cosmic Alignment Technique with my friend Sharon Richards who owns Power Blue Holistics.  Sharon is an amazing alternative and holistic health practitioner.  She has a great way of making you feel relaxed as soon as you walk through the door of her gorgeous little healing room.

Cosmic Alignment Technique is an energy healing system designed to nourish, calm, heal and relax you.  It’s a bit like Reiki, except that it’s not.  To me it seems to be a lot more powerful.  The treatment does a whole lot more than just provide relaxation.  If you want to know more about it, click on the link at the top of the page.

I wasn’t at all skeptical about the treatment, but I never expected it to be so profound either.  For example, I love all things holistic, but I’ve never been into angels.  Never seen one, never felt a presence.  Yet last Thursday, angels were whispering to me during my treatment.  No, I’m not schizo!  I was offered guidance, affirmations and reassurance about my true purpose.  To that end, on Friday I bought a pack of angel oracle cards.  Something told me to.  I did my first reading on Friday night when I came in from work.  More affirmations,  more help being offered.  It was scarily accurate.  The way is being pointed out to me, lit up with fairy lights and candles.  Fooook!!

Wheels have started turning.  Cogs are whirring.  Things are afoot.  Something big is about to happen for me.  Not only can I feel it, but I also know it.  Watch this space!!

Forest Path

This is the way!

(Image from dreamstime)


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One of those days

I’m having one of those days. I wasn’t having one of those days this morning, but now I am and it’s really getting on my nerves.

I knew it. As soon as I stepped on my yoga mat and started to move, my whole body felt tight and tired. It probably didn’t help that I decided to do a Tiffany Cruickshank core flow on YogaGlo when really what I wanted to do was a nice restorative practice. I didn’t listen to my body and instead I told myself that I needed a good core workout. So I just pushed on through… and now I’m exhausted.

I’ve spent the afternoon curled up on the sofa trying to plan my classes for next week. I usually enjoy this, but today it’s been a chore. I also had in mind that I’d make a cake, do some online banking, write a blog post, do my class emailer…. and what have I done? NOTHING. A big, fat NADA.

And even now, even though I’ve accepted that I’m knackered, I still can’t stop beating myself up that I’m this, that and the other (mainly involving the word “lazy”).

So what to do:
1) Accept that I’m tired
2) Prioritise what needs to be done
3) Do what needs to be done
4) Then do something else that makes me happy, not something that I think I should be doing
5) Give myself a break and stop beating myself up

This is what I go on about in my classes – I talk about listening to your body, tuning in, working within your own limits blah, blah…. All very valid points, except that I am not very good at accepting my own advice!

I can’t expect to feel the same everyday. I have to learn to accept that some days my body will let itself be pushed and then pushed a bit more. Other days, it’s just not going to happen.

So, get off your arse, sit bones and RELAX, Kat. Be kind to yourself, Kat. Finish this post, do your banking and spend what’s left of the day doing something for you! Yes, YOU!!!!


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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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Yoga documentary – Enlighten Up!

This week I’ve watched a documentary about yoga called Enlighten Up!

Kate Churchill is a filmmaker and yoga practitioner who sets out to prove that yoga can transform anyone.  Her test subject is Nick Rosen, skeptical but well up for a challenge.  Kate and Nick travel extensively, meeting plenty of yoga celebrities and some of the godfathers of modern yoga.  I don’t want to spoil it for you because I believe it’s worth dedicating an hour and fifteen minutes of your time to watch it.  You can watch it here on documentarywire with helpful Spanish subtitles!  Needless to say though that it doesn’t go entirely to plan and Kate’s plans start to unravel as Nick begins to question what yoga is truly about and some uncomfortable feelings bubble up to the surface.

Overall I found the documentary very interesting and it made me think a lot about my own yoga practice.  Yoga is not the miraculous answer to all of life’s questions.  It will not transform you overnight into an enlightened, tofu-eating yoga-lebrity, wafting serenely through life in a cloud of patchouli!

However, a regular and dedicated yoga practice keeps you fit, helps alleviate the symptoms of many illnesses, can help with stress, anxiety and depression, improve your posture etc., just Google it and you’ll find hundreds of articles about it. Here‘s a good article on Yoga Journal.

What about enlightenment and inner peace though?  Do I have to travel to an ashram in India and sit in meditation for 10 hours per day?  It’s unlikely that any of us will ever achieve guru-like grace from a once per week practice.  But, you can cultivate a calmer, more peaceful, less tumultuous approach to your life with a regular yoga practice and I guarantee that a some point you’ll have a revelation or two.  Sometimes hitting you between the eyes like a thunderbolt when you are in a posture and sometimes appearing more subtly the day after or week after in the form of feeling more calm about a situation or person.

The important thing is to remember to listen.  Listen to your body and approach your yoga with reverence, moving in and out of each posture with a joyful curiosity.  No two practices are ever the same, your body and mind are different each time you practice.  Take care of your alignment, trust your breath, respect your body and the sensations within it instead of throwing yourself around your yoga mat and pushing yourself to the very limit of your physical abilities.  Enlightenment comes from within, it’s inside you already.  Stay present, stick at it and you’ll find what you need to find inside yourself.


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New Year 2014

It’s a new year.  It’s here: 2014.  It’s pretty much the same as before, you just have to keep remembering to put /14 when you write the date.

Or is it the same?  Is this your opportunity to begin taking fairy steps towards making your life what you want it to be? So that, in January 2015 you can look back and say yes, I’ve made the changes that I want to make and I’m happy to be me.

You can do what you want with 2014.  It’s yours for the taking.

I don’t believe in resolutions, if you want to do something you don’t need to wait for a new year to do it, but I do believe in having a theme, a focus or a word for your year.  My word for 2014 is TRANSFORMATION.  I want to transform the way I live my life and spend my time. 

Anyone who knows me well enough will know that I complain about not having enough time.  Working a full-time job and teaching three classes for week has made me adopted this martyred approach to my week.  Well this year I have pledged to myself that I will use my time more wisely and make time work for me instead of it seemingly working against me.  In short, this means getting out of bed earlier on weekday mornings so that I can meditate and do half an hour of yoga.  I feel so much better when I am practicing daily instead of trying to fit in a couple of half-assed practices per week.

Of course there are other things on my list of transformations too.  Maybe I’ll share some more ways I am transforming my life in future blog posts.  I intend to write at least one blog post per week this year.  I was terribly neglectful of this blog last year and it doesn’t do my SEO any favours whatsoever!  So there, I’ve said it now, it’s here in black & white, so I’ll have to do it!!

Why not think about ways that you can transform your life?  It doesn’t have to be huge, sometimes the seemingly little things are the ones that can make the biggest difference to your life.