Yoga lesson plan – awareness to the hip girdle

Here is a Yoga lesson plan which will bring awareness to the hip girdle.  It is suitable for Yoga practitioners who have been practising Yoga regularly for at least one year.  It is best followed under the supervision of a trained and qualified Yoga teacher – nothing replaces the observant eye of an experienced teacher.

You can see the lesson plan here: yoga-lesson-plan-on-the-hip-girdle

Introduction to Focusing – two day course in Canterbury Kent

I am so pleased to be offering a two-day introduction to Focusing in Canterbury Kent.  You can find more details here: introduction-to-focusing

Please contact me if you are interested in coming and want to reserve your place, or if you have any questions.


Life is better with Focusing

three-sisters-blue-mountains-australiaI’ve had quite a bit of time away from home this summer, and have not been available for my Focusing partner as much as usual.  When we were Focusing together again soon after my return, she said (and I agreed), “Life is better with Focusing”.

We can use Focusing for the smaller decisions of life – shall I have cake with my coffee at the cafe today?; would my friend prefer a book as a gift or perfume?  And we can use it for much deeper learning, getting to the fundamentals of why we are how we are.

Many of us have acquired habits that we repeat in our lives, including some that we enjoy and some that bedevil us.  These latter might include: watching the next television programme when we promised ourselves that we would go for a walk this evening; overeating or drinking too much; smoking; blaming someone else for things that we know might not be their fault.  And, of course, there are other aspects of our lives that we berate ourselves for.

We know inside that we don’t want to continue a certain behaviour, but still we do it.  It’s almost as though someone else has taken over a part of us, and taunts us – ‘I told you would wouldn’t keep off the alcohol/cigarettes/cakes for a week – but your didn’t listen’.  Or ‘I knew you couldn’t keep up the exercise – two measly weeks, that’s all you did’.

In many, many ways we tell ourselves that we should be different, better, perfect even.  This might be because of pressures we perceive from different aspects of society, or the workplace perhaps, even if they are not true.  Or things that happened earlier in our lives – in childhood, relationships, and other areas.

Horrible, isn’t it?  Would we talk to a good friend this way?  Yet this is often how we talk to ourselves.

Let me explain how Focusing can help us here, how we can move towards our own sense of wholeness again.

There are two aspects to the misbelief:

The first misbelief is that there actually is a life ‘shape’ that we should fit.

And the second misbelief is that we should be a different ‘shape’ to that which we are – that we should behave differently.

Imagine you are a small exuberant child playing with your toys when you are told off for being noisy because your mother is lying in bed with a headache.  Or maybe at school, you were told off by your teacher for gazing out of the window instead of paying attention in class.

The message you received at the time may be that you are not good enough – you are the cause of your mother’s headache – you will never be good enough if you don’t pay attention in class.  So you make up your feelings and thoughts so that the adults can see you are doing what they are asking.  ‘I am a quiet child because my mother likes me best that way’.  ‘I am looking and listening to the teacher because that way I will pass my tests and the teacher and my parents will be pleased with me’.

We learn that just being ourselves is not good enough.

So there then become two parts to us.  

The first is the ‘bad child’ who misbehaves according to someone else’s rules.  

The second is the ‘false child’ – the one who behaves well, but is bewildered when it all goes wrong.  ‘My mother shouts at me even when I am quiet’, or ‘I fail the maths test even when I pay attention to the teacher’.

This is hard for us to understand, let alone live with.  We do our best, we cope, we modify our behaviour without realising it.  We aim to please someone else to fit their view of what ‘shape’ we should be.

Our bodies then try to protect us from going to these painful places again – the places of bewilderment and falseness.  We bury them and get on with life, while our bodies are longing to relax, let go, and be peaceful.  We ignore the parts of us that were affected by these experiences, but that doesn’t take away their power – they just become buried and hidden.

But we can Focus.  And as we Focus we bring to these places kindness and acceptance.  We let them be as they truly are – parts of ourselves that want the best for us, and so we come back to our wholeness – our original shape, our free-flowing energy.

Sometimes it can feel hard and difficult: when this happens we stay with it, keeping it company, being kind to these vulnerable parts of ourselves – as we would be to a small child.

We can tend to want to avoid this struggle between the two parts of us.  We give labels to parts of us: lazy, greedy, selfish, shameful, and other negative words.  This is fear talking, and we can move past this if we turn towards our present moment experience as in Focusing.  

Our bodies know what is right, and will allow us to go no further than we can cope with.

Eugene Gendlin says that “your body, with its sense of rightness, knows what would feel right.”  He says our bodies know this, just as we know in which direction to move a crooked picture.  “If the crookedness is pronounced enough for you to notice it at all, there is absolutely no chance that you will move the picture in the wrong direction and make it still more crooked while mistaking it for straight.  The sense of what is wrong carries with it, inseparably, a sense of the direction toward what is right”.

Focusing is a gentle, yet powerful way of looking at this.  

I can support you with Focusing one-to-one or in a small group, face-to-face or by Skype.  Please use the contact page to discuss it with me.

There will be a one-day introduction to Focusing in Canterbury, Kent on Saturday February 4th 2017.  Contact me for more details, or the university directly.

When travelling


I have been away quite a bit this summer, including two long-haul flights.  Travel to different parts of the world is wonderful, but sometimes the getting there can be arduous.

Most Yoga teachers will emphasise to their students not to focus on the final posture; rather enjoy the getting there, being prepared to savour all aspects of the posture, the preparation, the interim postures, the adaptations.  Do not regard as a goal the picture in the book, as demonstrated by a flexible body who has been practising for many hours.  Enjoy all aspects of the journey – even the not getting there.

And the same with holidays and other journeys.  We can focus on our destination, and regard the journey there as something to be endured.  I have been guilty of this myself.  This time I tried to embark the plane with a different attitude.  I always carry plenty of material to enjoy, amuse myself and divert my attention: books, films, podcasts, computer games.  There is discomfort.  There can be tedium.  There might be sleeplessness.  With all of this I tried to be present to it, acknowledging the challenges, appreciating the gifts (like the presence of my young neighbour, excited to be going home for the first time in six months), the kindness of the airline staff, food and drink appearing, a cup of tea in the middle of the time when most people were sleeping.  And there was time to reflect, meditate, make plans.

I didn’t enjoy the whole journey, nevertheless I found a subtle shift within me.  Chance conversations, smiles from strangers, and my own curiosity about my reactions to some of the challenges, indignities even, of modern travel.  It was a better experience for me.

I like these extracts from Toni Packer’s book: The Wonder of Presence.

“Beginning to realise that every incident, every encounter with another person, is instantly interpreted according to ingrained prejudices.  There is constant comparing ourselves and others to ideal standards of good and bad and right and wrong, that have been internalised long ago.

At a moment of insight there arises a new sense of wondering: “Why do we lived bogged down in automatic reactions?  Is it the only way of relating in this world?”  Will we be seduced into explaining or philosophising about it, or can we simply stay with what is going on in the light of the question?”

“How do we live with disturbance when it cannot be changed?  Is it possible to live without getting upset and angry so quickly?  No need to answer yes or no, or think that I would be able to do that if I were more attentive.  Not taking any position, can we simply listen, quietly watching inwardly what else is going on besides the grating sounds around us? … Just an unfolding openness that makes it possible to become aware of inner reactions …  Directly, vulnerably experiencing what is here, together with all the gross and subtle ways that this body-mind has cultivated to brace itself against the pain and agony of disturbance, condemning it, battling it, or even shutting down to avoid feeling it altogether.  It is the miracle of presence that makes our inner processes transparent and light with awareness”

I had intended to write about how Yoga can help us when travelling on a long-haul flight, but somehow this experience of my inner attention wanted to come up first.  The next blog post will be about Hatha Yoga on a plane.