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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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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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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Being a Yoga Teacher, Being Me

English: Vrksasana, the tree position, a Yoga ...

Vrksasana, the tree posture. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am inspired to write this blog post after reading this article on the Yoga Journal web site.

Like the author of the article, I’ve been practicing yoga for over a decade.  Each teacher you come across has their own, unique teaching style.  Some have been better for me than others.

Years ago I used to attend a class where the teacher would sweep in about 30 seconds before the class was due to start.  If the teacher was in a bad mood, the whole dynamic of the class was skewed.  The teacher also used to exude a holier-than-thou-I’m-the-guru attitude.  It was actually a bit scary.  I was definitely hooked on the yoga, not the teacher.

I’ve met other teachers like this too.  They are inaccessible; preaching from a pedestal at the front of the class.  You can’t ask them anything because there is an unspoken rule that they are not to be approached.  Sometimes I’ve felt like I’ve been looked down on by a teacher because I am not as ‘enlightened’ as they are.

Then there are the classes where you are not allowed to speak.  You go in, do your asanas and leave again.  There is no interaction between you and anyone else in the class.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think classes should be a huge social event, but silent solemnity can be extremely off-putting for people.

Now that I’m a teacher too I am very conscious of how I interact with my students.  To that end, here are a few things I’ve learned in my very short time as a teacher:

1. Stay present.  You can’t teach a class if your mind is elsewhere.

2. Laugh.  It is very difficult to hold a balancing pose whilst trying to instruct a class.  I have fallen out of tree pose a number of times, especially when explaining that you can’t balance properly unless your mind is clear!

3. Be normal and approachable.  Students need to be able to relate to you.  They can’t relate to you if you are removed from the reality of daily life.  They don’t want an ethereal-kaftan-wearing-patchouli-smelling-someone-who-thinks-they-are-a-goddess.  Make your students welcome.  Give them that warm, fuzzy feeling.  They are loved and cared for and you are happy they come to your class.

4. Teach what your pupils need to learn.  Don’t start demonstrating your yoga prowess by jumping into Bird of Paradise in a beginners class.  The class is about the students and their needs.  It’s not about you.  Similarly, most yoga students attend class for the physical exercise.  Don’t get straight in there and start talking about Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras until you have a good understanding of your students and how receptive (or not) they might be to learning about the more spiritual and philosophical aspects of yoga.

5.  Leave your own crap outside.  Don’t walk into a class and announce to everyone what a rubbish day you are having.  The students are paying you to teach them.  They are not paying to listen to your problems.  If it’s a small class, take five minutes at the beginning and end of the class to let the students talk about their day, if that’s what they want to do… of course, not everyone wants to share and that’s ok.  Some people seem to be able to concentrate better if they can shed some of their baggage before the class begins in earnest.

6. Be prepared to adapt.  It is allowed to move away from your meticulously-planned class structure if you feel you need to, or if it becomes apparent the class you’ve planned is too easy or hard… use your instincts, use your eyes and ears.  You have to be able to improvise and modify depending on the needs of your students or even the dynamic of the class that day.

Last year I went to a small, local class for about six weeks whilst I was between jobs.  The teacher is absolutely lovely.  Very attentive, very creative, very caring.  A real, genuine person who uses her life experience to try to understand and make a connection with her pupils.

I’m just starting out on my journey, but I want to make sure that I am becoming the very best teacher I can be without losing any of myself along the way!


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Top 10 Reasons I Love Yoga

I appear to have inherited a love of lists from my dear husband.  His love of lists results in him being hyper-organised.  My love of lists results in me having a handbag full of pieces of paper.

Nevertheless… here are the Top 10 Reasons I Love Yoga:

1. Bendiness

I did a lot of gymnastics and dancing as a child.  As a result my body adores bending itself into crazy shapes.  You don’t have to be bendy to do yoga though.  In fact, it’s probably better that you aren’t.  I have to be really careful that I don’t overbend and injure myself.  As Iyengar says, “Begin where you are”.  That’s the beauty of yoga, it’s your practice, it’s all about you!

2. Inner and Outer Strength

Ok, so this is kind of two.  The yoga practice fosters calm and poise.  Anyone who knows me will tell you I’m a complete nutcase and stress-head, but my yoga practice allows me to maintain perspective and to not sweat about the little things in life.  Physically, I’ve always had an incredibly weak upper body, but over the last 6 months I’ve been focusing on strength and I’m starting to see some results.  I find Chaturanga stupidly difficult, but perseverance is the key!

3. Balance

In order to balance gracefully your mind needs to be completely free of chitta, or thoughts, or chatter.  There’s something wonderful about achieving a beautiful Tree Pose (Vrksasana)… letting your hands stretch up towards the sky and shooting all of your energy out of the crown of your head, honoring the nature around you.

4. Breathing

Most people have forgotten how to breathe.  Yoga enables us to reconnect with the simple pattern of breathing, of properly filling the lungs and emptying the lungs.  The breath is so powerful and knowing how to control it can transform your life.

5. Grace, poise and inner beauty

Hmm… this is more than one again!  Take the time to really connect with yourself in the Virabhadrasana (Warrior) poses.  Open the chest, reach for the sun or shoot the energy through your fingertips.  Find the beauty and grace in the poses… you may not be the most poised person in real life, but take the time to explore the Warriors and you will feel A-mazing.

6. Diet

At some point in the dim and distant past I owned a pair of UK size 20 Jasper Conran jeans.  I am not exactly a double-00 now, but I do know that I don’t want to fill my body with crap from McDonald’s and Greggs anymore.  Yoga makes you choose a different way of life, it happens almost naturally.  You stop thinking that ready-meals are food.  You want to take better care of yourself and those around you.  You begin to think about where your food comes from, where your laundry detergent ends up… how the smallest actions can make a difference.  It’s not just about diet, it’s about living ethically.

7. Time for Me

I know only too well that what I have to do on a daily basis is NOTHING compared to the things that the people around me have to do.  HAVE to.  It’s not like you have a choice.  You HAVE to, otherwise the wheels fall off and everything starts running downhill, very fast.  A regular yoga class gives you 1 hour and 30 minutes per week (or more if you attend more than one class) of pure Me Time.  Seriously, ask yourself, how much Me Time do you actually have?  Do the cats try to break down the door every time you go in the bath?  Does the simple act of painting your nails evolve into ‘Art Time’ for various children and\or furry beings?  That’s kind of how it is in my house.

Taking time out for you means that you are stronger, more relaxed and better equipped to face the daily HAVE TO tasks.  Yoga is amazingly powerful for your mental as well as your physical health.

8. Savasana

Be honest with yourself, when was the last time you laid on the floor and allowed yourself to think about nothing?  That’s right, nothing!  Have you ever tried not thinking?  It’s not easy.  Savasana is probably THE most powerful pose for the 21st century being.  Surrender is not something that enters our vocabulary.  In my classes there is always a long, relaxing Savasana at the end.

9. Meeting new and like-minded people

I was once driven to a Sunday morning meditation by the vice-president of the company I then worked for.  It was about -10 degrees C and we discussed upper body strengthening poses and he introduced me to what Dolphin is all about.  Once at the venue he strummed his guitar whilst we were guided through a wonderful, profound meditation.  I was as moved by this guy’s tender, holistic side as I was by the wonderful meditation experience that reduced me to tears.

I met some amazing ladies and one gentleman  on my yoga teaching course… from all walks of life.  Every single one of them was inspirational in their own way.  Hopefully I’ve made some friends for life.

10. Life

Ok, so hippy moment – I feel like yoga has given me the gift of life.  Life seems more techni-colour.  I appreciate the Canadian geese flying overhead on my way to work. I appreciate the sunrise through my bedroom window.  Yoga teaches you to be mindful, to savour every bite of life.  It’s yours for the taking and only you can make it happen.  Yoga can help you reconnect with yourself and with the world around you.

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