Disclaimer – the following photos were taken on my iPhone, not my pro camera!! 😉
A load of old mumbo jumbo?
Downward facing dog…
If these words are making sense to you, then it is likely that you are a Yogi! And this post is for you my friend. Last year, I had the most A~MAZING morning, doing outside yoga with my instructor and 5 other ladies at the stunning Sussex Prairie Gardens in Henfield. It was so peaceful, energising and humbling – really quite emotional.
(If you’re local, I’m hoping Jo will do more this year!! BOOK WITH JO NOW!!!! You won’t regret it. Contact details at the bottom of this post).
Also, SPOILER ALERT: just a hint of some extremely exciting news at the end of this post for any of you boho / yoga types!!!!
Why I Love Yoga
I thought I would extoll the virtues of my favourite exercise obsession with a personal post. It is hard to express how much I love my yoga. Ok, so in my twenties, I certainly did NOT love yoga, declaring it to be too boring and slow; why are people breathing so loudly; put my leg where????? – yoga is not for me! My older, wiser (and perhaps, more enlightened) self LOVES the practice now. And even through this strange pandemic, we have been able to meet over Zoom to practice with beautiful Jo from YogaJo. (She literally lives 8 doors down from me so I can wave to her from my Warrior pose!)
I am literally counting down the days until May, when Covid willing, we are going for a yoga retreat in sunny Marbella, Spain for FOUR days!!!
But what is Yoga?
Yoga is essentially a spiritual discipline based on an extremely subtle science, which focuses on bringing harmony between mind and body. It is an art and science of healthy living. The word Yoga is derived from the Sanskrit root ‘Yuj’, meaning ‘to join‘, ‘to yoke‘ or ‘to unite‘.
Yoga demands not only balance, stretching and proper breathing, but calmness of mind and high concentration levels as well. It is based on an ancient Indian philosophy and has numerous variations. Yoga does not only include physical load or using postures of different complexity levels, but also incorporates different breathing techniques and meditation. Therefore, it benefits not only your physical health but your mental health as well. Many experts recognize this practice as mind-body medicine. It is more than just a workout routine. It improves not only your fitness level (strength, balance, and endurance), but also helps you to find inner balance, peace, and harmony.
“Yoga focuses on bringing harmony between mind and body“
Yoga’s origins can be traced to northern India over 5,000 years ago. The word yoga was first mentioned in ancient sacred texts called the Rig Veda. The Vedas are a set of four ancient sacred texts written in Sanskrit. The Rig Veda is the earliest amongst the vedas and is a collection of over a thousand hymns and mantras in ten chapters known as mandalas, which were used by Vedic age priests. Yoga was refined and developed by Rishis (sages) who documented their practices and beliefs in the Upanishads, a huge work containing over 200 scriptures.
Yoga plays a role in Hinduism and Buddhism and its meditation practices.
“Yoga can help us to have a positive relationship with our bodies,
to gain strength and flexibility both on the mat and in all aspects of life.”Yoga Jo
What Yoga does for me!
I lead a very busy, chaotic life, running my own photography business, shuttling two kids to different schools on different timetables in different towns, juggling parenting, money, life, love, pets and friendships. These are the things that, like most people, dominate my day to day life. But that one hour on a Tuesday or Thursday evening (or morning when in the gardens) is my sacred time.
Time for me to shut off all the sounds and stresses of the day; switch off the mummy / business brain; time to connect my mind, body and soul through the healing power of yoga. And man, does it make me feel grateful for the little things.
Practise, practise, practise…
Through constant direction from Jo, I ensure that I am holding the poses correctly, using the right muscles, strengthening and lengthening different areas of my body, opening up the heart space and welcoming in all the lovely, healing energy. Sometimes, my hands feel like they’re burning after practice, like I’m holding a searing hot ball of energy in the palms of my hand.
Healing energy & connection
But it’s this feeling that I love. Connection with nature, my body, my energy, myself, chasing away any stresses or anxiety and allowing me to gain control over my own thoughts. I actually suffer from an acutely sore back and sometimes, I don’t have the strength to sit up straight at the beginning of a session. But in just one hour, I feel lighter, taller, stronger, more flexible and loose. Not bad for a bit of mumbo jumbo slow nonsense eh?
There’s no such thing as ‘can’t’
I love that Yoga is for everyone; young or old, short or tall, muscly or lean; large or small. And there is zero pressure to ‘nail’ each pose, each time ~ as much as I’d love to be that girl. As Jo always says, just do what is comfortable to you today. One week, my Eagle pose was fabulous – I only lost balance 5 times!!! – and other weeks, I wouldn’t be able to keep upright if someone paid me in Crunchie bars! But thats’ ok. No pressure – totally chilled remember.
It’s for Children too!
Check out Tatty Bumpkin, for children inspired by yoga. What an incredible idea. They are one of the longest established children’s yoga companies in the UK with more than 16 years’ experience. A unique multi-sensory yoga concept for children, created by specialist yoga teachers, educationalists & paediatric physiotherapists and designed by creative designers and musicians to inspire children with specially composed music and design-led supporting materials. Everything they do aims to have a positive social and environmental impact
Why do you love Yoga?
I asked some of my yoga loving friends why they do yoga – here is a selection of their responses…
“This practice is right up my street. I’ve practiced on and off for years. I made the commitment to really give myself this time and space for my inner and external welfare.”Latoya
“Gives you the time to stop, slow and just breathe.”Sophie
“I do it so I can walk straight and lift things again.”Chrissy
“Gets me out of my head and tuned into my body. Also love being flexible and strong!”Brigitta
“Flexibility and fitness when I’m needing a more chilled workout.”Judy
“Vinyasa Yoga. Helps with body awareness and flexibility…which helps greatly in my profession…Golf.”Vlad
“Feel it strengthens my body immensely and after a few sessions the changes in flexibility are amazing… Right …where’s my mat!!!!”SarahJane
“I do it 6/7 times a week for anything from 20mins to an hour. I love how it helps clear my head, calm me down and helps me refocus. From a physical perspective it helps keep me fitter and more flexible for climbing and running. I believe I enjoy my running far more because I do it with a clear calm head.”Stuart
It seems everyone has a similar view – strengthening, posture, calmness, flexibility. Yoga is a skill for life. It helps grow physical strength and balance whilst enhancing focus and concentration. What’s not to love?
Think you know Yoga? Try this fun quiz to see how well you really know all about this ancient practice:
Over to you…
So tell me, what is your favourite yoga pose? Me, I LOVE Child’s Pose after a good session. It really stretches out my poor old back and I feel about 9ft tall after.
If you have never tried yoga, I urge you to find a local practitioner and try it today (and learn it safely). You don’t even HAVE to wear stretchy leggings! You just need to take an hour out of your busy life, a willingness to open up your mind, listen to your body and ditch the negative thoughts. Your mind, body and soul will thank you for it.
Suggested further reading
Jo has suggested these books if you would like to learn more…
Super exciting news…!
Before I go, I just wanted to hint at something super exciting that I have in the pipeline, with Jo. Think mediation, yoga, facials…I can’t say anymore just yet but I cannot wait to reveal all – this is going to be HUGE! Particularly for bohemian and free spirited brides… visit my wedding website for more on my Boho weddings.
Peace and love Yoginis.
A Personal Practice
Having practiced yoga for over 20 years, Jo’s goal is to share the benefits she has gained from her practice with others, incorporating a variety of traditional practices in movement, breath and meditation to help each student practice their own unique form of yoga.
Jo is qualified through the Yoga Alliance Professionals to teach and is certified through the Complimentary Medical Association.
Jo offers group sessions, 1-2-1s, sessions in schools and children’s holiday clubs. She also offers packages for corporate clients.
Jo trained as an executive coach in 2012 with the Academy of Executive Coaches and absolutely loves working with people to assist in the journey of self potential realisation and fulfilment in all areas of life, career, health, relationships, self discovery and balance.
Read more: Yogo Jo
About Sussex Prairie Gardens
The Perfect Place to Escape for an afternoon.
Surrounded by mature oak trees, the eight acre garden consists of a series of interlocking arcs of large planted borders in a naturalistic style. The borders encourage exploration and adventure and visitors are welcome to roam in amongst the mighty plants to further enjoy the experience.
The plantings consist of large groupings of each variety, planted in a free flowing style, which contrasts leaf forms, stems, stalks, flower shapes and textures. Colours are soft and muted, and complement the natural landscape.
Both Paul and Pauline are keen to emphasise the beauty and wonder of perennial planting and to demonstrate the longer season benefits of perennials and grasses in dream combinations.
The borders , planted in the shape of a spiralling nautilus shell were planted in May 2008 with 40 of their friends and family who were totally behind them and supporting them with this amazing project.
Why not join come and join them on a garden tour and they can tell you the story of how and why they planted the garden and what naturalistic planting can do for you in your garden!
Read more: Sussex Prairie Gardens