Ashtanga Yoga: What's the Story with Moon Days?

Moon-Cycles
Many of us know through experience or through hearing the rumours that Ashtanga Yoga is a strong practice, both physically and mentally. The practice (when adhered to properly) requires intense dedication from its students which is one of the reasons this practice can be so incredible transforming.

When I first began to practice I didn't adhere to all these 'rules' such as practicing 6 days per week, taking rest when I was menstruating, respecting the full and new moon as rest days. But after a year or so they seemed to make sense and I naturally wanted to respect and follow this tradition in its tried and tested form.

When I explain to friends, family (and sometimes students) the reasons why we take rest on new and full moon I am often met with a rolling of the eyes, like what I am saying has no substance. And maybe it does appear that way, but I can say in honesty that since I have started respecting the moon cycles my whole body seems more in sync with the natural cycles of the planet and universe. Taking rest on the moon isn't just a requirement, by the time the moon day comes along, I can actually feel it in my body.

Here is a good description from the Jois Ashtanga Yoga Centres


"It has always been the tradition in Ashtanga Yoga to rest from asana practice on new and full moon days (tithis). When asked why we shouldn’t practice on these days, Guruji was fond of saying, “Two ‘plantets’ [grahas] one place, very dangerous.” What is meant by this is that on these days, the sun and the moon are in a line relative to the position of the earth. Consequently, their gravitational forces are all combined, and thus the effect of the ‘plantets’ more pronounced. One definitive effect of this is that the ocean’s tides are higher and lower on these days. When āsana practice is done daily, rest days are important for regeneration; and the extra biweekly ‘moon day’ comes as a welcomed respite."

So we are now respecting the rest days in our Ashtanga Yoga program here at Yoga Village. All other classes will take place as usual, but Ashtanga Yoga Mysore Style, Intro to Ashtanga Yoga and Ashtanga Led Classes will not take place on the following days.

Moon Days 2015

  • Jan 5 Monday (FULL)
  • Jan 20 Tuesday (NEW)
  • Feb 4 Wednesday (FULL)
  • Feb 19 Thursday
  • Mar 5 Thursday (FULL)
  • Mar 20 Friday (NEW)
  • Apr 3 Friday (FULL)
  • Apr 19 Sunday (NEW)
  • May 4 Monday (FULL)
  • May 18 Monday (NEW)
  • Jun 3 Wednesday (FULL)
  • Jun 17 Wednesday (NEW)
  • Jul 2 Thursday (FULL)
  • Jul 16 Thursday (NEW)
  • Aug 1 Saturday (FULL)
  • Aug 15 Saturday (NEW)
  • Aug 30 Sunday (FULL)
  • Sep 13 Sunday (NEW)
  • Sep 28 Monday (FULL)
  • Oct 13 Tuesday (NEW)
  • Oct 28 Wednesday (FULL)
  • Nov 12 Thursday (NEW)
  • Nov 26 Thursday (FULL)
  • Dec 12 Saturday (NEW)
  • Dec 26 Saturday (FULL

MOON DAYS 2016
  • January 10 Sunday (NEW)
  • January 24th Sunday (FULL)
  • February 9th Tuesday (NEW) 
  • February 23 Tuesday (FULL) 
  • March 9 Wednesday (NEW)
  • March 23 Wednesday (FULL)
  • April 7 Thursday (NEW)
  • April 22 Friday (FULL) 
  • May 7 Saturday (NEW) 
  • May 22 Sunday (FULL)
  • June 5 Sunday (NEW)
  • June 20 Monday (FULL)
  • July 4 Monday (NEW)
  • July 20 Wednesday (FULL)
  • August 3 Wednesday (NEW) 
  • August 18 Thursday (FULL)
  • September 1 Thursday (NEW)
  • September 17 Saturday (FULL)
  • October 1 Saturday (NEW)
  • October 16 Sunday (FULL)
  • October 31 Monday (NEW)
  • November 15 Tuesday (FULL)
  • November 30 Wednesday (NEW)
  • December 14 Wednesday (FULL)
  • December 29 Thursday (NEW)
Please don't use those days to go running or do another yoga class. Instead give your body a chance to rest, sleep in a little, meditate, stretch lightly at home or go for a stroll in the park. And enjoy!!

Much Love
Nadia

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2015 - New Classes & Changes

Happy New Year Everyone!


I hope you have settled in to 2015 and have a positive outlook for the year ahead.

In 2015 I have resolved to be 100% authentic in all my decisions and actions. Over the last few years I have made professional and personal decisions based on fear which I can has held me back from my true calling. Towards the end of last year I began taking actions that were based around facing my fears, and following my heart and have seen so many positive changes in all areas of my life. Everything just feels easier when I trust my instincts rather than trusting other peoples expectations and experiences.

As many of you know I recently returned from my three month study trip to India that was spent studying with my teacher Sharath Jois in Mysore. I return year after year to continue my studies in the Ashtanga Vinyasa tradition and this year was honoured to be Authorised by my teacher to teach the Ashtanga Tradition – which is something only a select number of people in Australia have been given.

The Ashtanga Yoga tradition involves teaching (and practicing) a Six Day per week Mysore program, in which students of all levels come together to practice their personal sequences as taught by the teacher.

I am delighted to be started a Mysore Program in Potts Point from next week. It will be running mornings from 6am to 9am, and evenings Monday, Tuesday and Thursday from 5:30pm to 7:30pm. Students are welcome to arrive anytime within that window and should allow 60 to 75 minutes for their daily practice. Each person will finish at different times depending on how long their practice is taking. If you have a busy day ahead you are welcome to come in at 6 and finish at 7, so the times can change depending on your life schedule.

There is no expectation for students to have knowledge of the sequence before they start and it can take some time to learn whole of primary series as practitioners only move on to the next pose when they are comfortable in the one before. Those who come along should not feel discouraged or embarrassed not to know the sequence. I will soon be starting Ashtanga for Beginners on Wednesday evenings in Potts Point which will be a good opportunity to get to know the sequence with a group of beginners. Despite its reputation for being suitable only for the young and flexible, this powerful practice is for all ages and abilities; and has the power to transform body and mind more than any practice I have found before. If you find that you “plateau” in another style of yoga then you won’t have that same problem in Ashtanga. This is a practice that will definitely challenge you and will grow with you through life. Please don’t rule it out before giving it a go! I would love for you to join me in the mornings or evenings for Mysore practice. For any questions about Ashtanga please feel free to email me.

We will still be holding the 6:45am Hatha Vinyasa classes Monday to Friday in Potts Point and 6:30am Hatha Vinyasa Tuesday to Thursday in Double Bay. In February we will be adding a handful of new classes to the schedules in both Potts Point and in Double Bay.

Please note that as a part of the Ashtanga Tradition there will be no Ashtanga classes held on New and Full Moon days. These days will be advertised around the studio and also on the website. For more information about why we take rest on moon days please refer to this explanation.


I hope to see you on the mat soon.


Love Nadia


PS - Here is a photo of me just after receiving my Level 2 authorisation - proud as punch outside the Ashtanga Institute

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Finding Confidence: On & Off the Yoga Mat


I am writing to you from Mysore, India where I on my annual study trip at The Ashtanga Institute. I find this trip so beneficial. not only do I have the chance to study with one of the most amazing teachers in the world but it also gives me a chance to reflect on myself and what this practice means to me on a deeper level.

I spend so much time on my own here. I live on my own, eat most meals on my own, make all decisions on my own, find my own house, scooter etc. In this place I need to be completely confident in myself in order to get things done. So often things go wrong - in fact, in india I am almost guaranteed that things won’t go to plan! I need to trust that everything that is meant to be happening is happening and be confident and relaxed with that.

The same applies in the practice. Always in my first week I feel a lack of confidence in my practice. I always worry that my teacher will not think I am good enough, that other people in  the room might be better than me, and then of course, I feel fear when my teacher gives me new poses that I cannot do them. I start to question myself.

Of course, these thoughts are just a reflection of how I see myself. How we all see ourselves. We all have fears. Someone in the room must be looking at my practice and having the same doubts about their own.

The only thing we have to remember is that everything that is meant to be happening, on and off the mat is meant to be happening and will, in some way, strengthen our confidence.

Until next time...


Peace, Love & Yoga

Nadia


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Yoga on a plane?

yoga_plane2
Crammed in between two strangers in a Jetstar seat for 9 hours is no one’s idea of travelling comfortably, least of all mine, as I reaffirmed yesterday. Although lucky in the ability to fold myself up in to various positions whilst seated, I noticed that after two hours on the plane my hips and back were already screaming out for some love. Not only do our muscles start to cramp from inactivity, but the massive dehydration project that aeroplanes put on your body only assist in making your muscles tighter and thus our ability to relax fully is jeopardized. So what can you do to help the situation without blowing all your frequent flyers points on an upgrade to premium economy or business class?

Start by drinking lots of water. This not only helps minimise dehydration but also gives you more reasons to get up and stretch your legs. I drink enough water that I need to get up around every 90 minutes or so.

Each time you get up to use the bathroom walk to the end of the plane and then back again (unless meal service is in place and then you’ll get stuck behind the trolley where all you’ll get are constant wafts of the Roast beef and gravy meals being dished up for 40 minutes).

After you’ve used the bathroom head to the very back of the plane where there is normally a bit more space (where, as I yesterday found out there is a deposit of uncomfortable passengers using the spare square metre to stretch out). There are a few stretched you can do that won’t require you to put your hands on the floor and are also a little more plane-acceptable that the Chaturanga-Updog-Downdog favourite of hotels rooms.

1) Stand with feet hip distance apart and facing a wall. Press your palms against the wall at shoulder height and shoulder distance apart. Keep your gaze just slight above the space between your hands and on an inhale press your chest towards the wall. On an exhale keep looking forward but push the wall away from you as you push your spine and shoulder blades back. Repeat 5 times (NB – when the person in the chair in front of your goes to the bathroom you can use the opportunity to do this again, seated, with your hands on the back of their headrest).

yoga_plane1

2) Turn your back to the wall and lean your bottom against it, with your feet slightly forward and hip distance apart. Bend your knees a little and fold yourself over your legs, taking your hands to your elbows. As a variation you can interlace your hands behind your back and move them behind your head.

yogapose2

3) Keep standing with your back towards the wall and lift one leg in to tree pose (foot on the inner thigh or inner calf muscle). Use one hand on the wall for balance and with the other hand apply some light pressure on to the inside of your raised leg to open the hip.(Repeat other side)

yogapose3

4)      Again with the back towards the wall, lift one leg and hug the knee as high in to your chest as you can. Strongly activate your standing thigh by lifting it up and push forward through your hips to work in to the psoas (which gets really tight when we spend so long seated).
yogapose4
When you return to your seat try to move around as much as possible (without causing too much irritation to your neighbour). I often sit with my legs crossed or one foot on the inner thigh, and then change sides. Your hips will thank you for it!

If all else fails then this is an opportunity to practice withdrawl of the senses – and a practice in being able to simply sit.
yogapose5
What are your tips for getting through a long plane trip?

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How Non-Attachment improved (and became) my Yoga Practice

yoga2_copy1
As many of you know, I am leaving for India in only 3 days and won’t be back until just before Christmas. Whilst I have been super excited to travel I have discovered in the last 2 weeks, through preparing for my travels that I am suffering from some severe cases of attachment! Attachment to my practice, attachment to my classes and mostly, a huge attachment to Yoga Village.

According to the Yoga Sutras, Practice (abhyasa) and non-attachment (vairagya) are the two core principles on which the entire system of Yoga rests. But what happens when we grow so attached to our practice that we can’t step away from it?

Over the last couple of weeks I have had some niggles in my knees; there wasn’t a particular pose or fall that set it off; dealing with the stress of leaving my baby (Yoga Village) for the first time since she was born had begun to present itself to me through physical injury.  It was then that I started to see the huge attachment that I have to the practice of yoga asana and therefore stepping back from my practice in order to allow my knees to rest has been an interesting process for me to go through.

I had already tried to hold back in poses that aggravated the problem further and it helped a little but I could see that two days off the mat was what was needed to complete the recovery. There was one major problem though; the concept of not practicing brought up all sorts of fears and questions for me. My thought trail went something like this ‘what if my practice goes downhill?’, ‘what if this means I won’t be as strong when I get to India?’, ‘Will my teacher think I am not committed?’ One of my friends, Kylie, bore the brunt of this mild yoga separation and told me, simply put that I had to just 'let it go'. It was then that I realised that for me, in this instance the mere act of stepping away from the mat in order to be mindful of what my body needed was to be my practice for a few days. Trusting in the universe and stepping away was incredible difficult but in actual fact it was exactly what I needed. I was surprised to find that this practice was just as much physical as it was mental, as my body longed to stretch, twist and tangle itself in to knots, my mind had to disciplinary. And it worked, within 2 days my pain had reduced so significantly that along with a modified practice it completely healed within the week. When I first stepped back on the mat it was difficult and I didn’t feel as strong,, after a few days my practice was back to normal and all was forgotten!

This became most significant when I began to apply the idea of letting go to some other areas in my life. Stepping away from my email was a big one. I had intended to be doing lots of email checking and running the business remotely whilst in India, even though Jess and some of the other teachers had offered to help out. I knew they were more than capable of keeping it going and the problem most certainly wasn't them; it was me. One by one I started to let go of things and therefore created the space in my life to be completely ready and relaxed when I arrive in India and it feels truly liberating!

What do you need to let go of?

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Yippee! Here comes Spring!

trees Gosh I love this time of year. The days are heating up, the flowers are starting to bloom and there is certainly a spring in my step as I excitedly look forward to summer. Spring is a time of new beginnings, of rebirth and of cleansing. It is the time to undo all the habits we created over winter and prepare ourselves by harnessing all the energy we need in preparation for the high activity of summer. Spring, the season of action is the ultimate time for a detox - Here are my top five tips for a healthy transition in to Spring - try them - they really do work!

1) Yoga of course! Create a daily routine starting with five rounds of Sun Salutations followed by these detoxing poses. Laying down twists which are wonderfully detoxing and cleansing for the organs. Happy Baby Pose helps encourage the outward flow of waste and acid in the body.  Bow Pose encourages elimination and also  puts pressure on the liver which encourages blood flow and cleansing, Finally, a shoulder stand or legs up the wall; inversions flush the blood and organs (and as an added bonus they are said to make you look younger too!)

2) Keep your fluids high. Start each day with a big glass of warm water and lemon and keep it up through the day to flush the system.  Where possible give your digestive system a break by eating soups or drinking smoothies for breakfast, lunch or dinner.  Even better than this would be to take 1-3 days out for you to do a Juice Cleanse. When your body doesn’t have to work so hard to digest it uses the energy for other things such as detoxing the skin and liver.

3) Body Brushing. Brushing the skin with a natural body brush before you shower encourages circulation through your largest organ – The Skin. This creates the space for your toxins to leave the body and will help you gain that summer glow!

4) Ditch the coffee and drink Green Tea instead. As someone who doesn’t enjoy the taste of green tea I would recommend combining one tea spoon of Green Tea with one tea spoon of Peppermint Tea (or of each tea bags in to a pot) to make it more drinkable. You’ll still get the caffeine so won’t suffer withdrawal symptoms and the caffeine will last longer because it is slow release instead of the ‘hit’. Green Tea is also said to detox free radicals and slow the aging process (yay for that!).

5) Attend Mark Obrien’s Spring Masterclass on September. Mark will guide your through a yoga asana and pranayama sequence designed to help balance out the sluggish Kapha nature of winter by stimulating your Udana Vayu (up lifting energy) through specially designed Yoga Asana and Pranayama. Book Here 

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How to Commit to your Yoga practice

outdooryoga
Thanks for yet another wonderful month at Darlinghurst's Yoga Village – can you believe that August marks 11 months since we opened our doors?!! Thinking back over the last year it is incredible how much I have learned from all of you. Running a business has really tested my inner yogi and has taught me a lot about patience, believing in yourself and the power of a daily yoga practice.

For some years now my daily practice has been a priority and a big part of my life. I am thankful that I created the routine of a daily practice before the taking on the pressures of opening Yoga Village  because in so many ways it has been a saving grace. Whilst I always loved the practice (even though some days are better than others) since opening my own business it has helped me in so many other ways.  I have learned that getting on the mat each day really does allow me to tune in to myself, my energy and gives me an opportunity to put things in to perspective in my personal and professional life. Like everyone, sometimes getting on to the mat can be a struggle, sometimes my mind starts telling me to sleep in or do something else, sometimes my practice only consists of 5 sun salutations and a long inversion but it is the practice of getting on the mat and prioritizing this time for myself daily that has allowed me to grow Yoga Village from a seed of an idea in to a beautiful, flourishing yoga school, all the while keeping myself in check!

Many of you say that you struggle committing to the practice so I wanted to share with you my top four tips for getting on the mat, regularly, even when times are tough.

1) Be Prepared

If you are practicing in the morning then pack your bag and get your yoga clothes ready the night before, so that all you need to do it get up, get changed and go. If you are practicing after work then bring your things with you. Tell your colleagues that you are leaving on time to go to yoga so they are prepared for it. Structure your day so that you don’t end up with lots to do at 5pm, get through the big things first so you know that you won’t be too swamped that you need to work late.

2) Make the time

Block the time out in your diary so that no one books meetings with you, don’t make plans for brunch on Saturday morning unless they come after your practice. Allow yourself the time to do something for you and don’t feel guilty about it.

3) Have a Fall Back Plan

Inevitably there will be a day where something will interrupt your practice time. You might be sick, stuck at work or didn’t hear your alarm. Don’t ride the day off! All you need is 10 minutes and a little bit of space. Do some rounds of sun salutes, a couple of standing poses that you know well, a seated forward bend and then lay on your back with your legs up the wall. You don’t always need to do a full class, and a short home practice is always better than no practice at all.

4) Remember how good you feel when you finish your practice

One of the things that keeps me getting out of bed before the sun comes up is the knowledge that if I go to yoga I will feel better than if I don’t go. If your mind starts creating excuses remember this ‘I have often regretted not practising, but have never, ever regretting practicing.’

Commit to a 4 Week Transformation & Win A Free 3 Month Membership! To help you commit to your practice we have created a 4 Week Yoga Transformation! You’re invited to take part in the transformation which will run for 28 days (September 1st to September 28th 2012). Over the four weeks we encourage you to practice as much as you can and recommend 20 classes (5 per week). If you take part your name will be displayed on a chart in the studio and for each class you attend in September a stamp will appear next to your name. Every participant who has attended a minimum of 20 classes will go in the running to win a Free Three Month Membership to Yoga Village. The winners name will be drawn out of a hat at the celebration party on September 29 (this will be a celebration of the end of the Transformation and also our First Birthday Party!). The cost of the month is only $99 and if you already have a pass or membership then please email me as soon as you sign up and I am happy to put your membership on hold or add more time to your class pass so that it goes on hold for September.

For more details please feel free to email me . You can pre-purchase your pass here.

In Love & light,

Nadia

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Guru Purnima

moon_copy
We are right in the thick of winter now! There is something magical about practicing yoga in this cold weather – the body is just so ready to move, and the mind so ready to move inwards! Although waking up in the dark is more difficult, in winter it seems to come with a burst of energy which I can feel as soon as you all walk in the room. So thank you for sharing that energy with me.

Today is Full Moon, which in many traditions is a rest day from yoga. There are varied reasons and opinions behind this. Some believe that the lunar cycle leaves you vulnerable to injury; another theory is that because the body consists mainly of water, we are affected by full moon like the ocean tides. Whether you subscribe to these ideas or not it is always nice to bring ourselves back to a restful and grounding practice once a month.

But today isn’t just any full moon, today is Guru Purnima, or ‘The Guru’s Moon’. This is the time to look back at our year so far, review our progress, renew our intentions and determination on the path, as well as Honour the Guru! So today, why not think back to the intentions you might have set at the start of the year, reconsider them and set yourself back on track. Pay respects to all those who have shared wisdom with you and whilst setting your intentions try to link them in with the messages your teachers or guru’s have offered you.

I have been lucky enough to have many wonderful teachers, and although my yoga teachers have taught me so much, one of my favourite pieces of wisdom came from my year 6 teacher, Miss Elliot. I remember her telling the class one day to ‘Look out the window while you are on the bus on your way to school. Look at the people standing at the bus stop frowning. Whatever you do, make sure that you aren’t frowning about where you are headed each day. If you are going to do something daily, make sure it is something to smile about. If it isn’t making you smile then either change what you do or change your approach to what you are doing”. Though I didn't think any thing of it at the time, these wonderfully wise words that have stuck with me for twenty years.

Happy Guru Purnima!

In Love & light,

Nadia

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The Importance of Practicing Yoga in Winter

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I would first like to say how happy I am to see so many of you continuing your yoga practice even though the temperature is dropping. When the weather turns colder it can be an automatic reaction to skip out any physical activity that you do in your life but there are so many reasons why this is the best time of year to really develop a daily practice of yoga.

Here are my top 6:

Winter is traditionally a time where we hibernate and spend more time on our own. It is therefore a wonderful time to create some introspective and to really develop a personal connection with your yoga practice and the energy and feelings it creates in your body. For the same reason it is also a wonderful time to start meditation.

As the temperature outside drops we need the temperature inside to stay warm in order to ward off illness. Practising Ujayi breath while you move is great to help with this.

Ever feel cold fingers and toes and wonder if you have poor circulation? Yoga encourages circulation through your entire body which helps you stay warm when you leave your gloves at home.

Many people suffer from joint pain which is increased in winter. A dynamic yoga practice keeps your joints active and well lubricated to minimise this pain.

Minimised contact with sunlight and natural light can bring about feelings of depression and sadness. Yoga helps increase positive energy so you stay happy and uplifted in winter. Pranayama techniques such as alternate nostril breathing help keep your sinuses healthy and clear. Even if you cannot attend a class daily I would highly recommend including 5 minutes of alternate nostril breathing in to your day.

Lastly, it is toasty warm in here, it smells nice and you'll feel good for having done something other than sit down all day!!

In Love & Light,

Nadia

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How to Approach Change

change Change is a wonderful reminder of one of one of the most important yoga principles, Vairagya (lit. non-attachment). Yogi’s are encouraged to practise non-attachment in relation to material items, and people. The practice of Vairagya involves learning to let go of the many attachments, aversions, fears, and false identities that are clouding the true self. This is can be applied to anything in life, including our yoga asana practice. Detaching oneself from fears allows us to move forward and challenge the mental limitations that we place on ourselves. The asana and non-attachment practices work hand in hand; practice leads you in the right direction, while non-attachment allows you to continue the inner journey without getting sidetracked into the pains and pleasures along the way. I encourage you all to focus on this throughout your yoga classes and make a sincere effort to dissolve fears and rediscover your abilities.

In Love & light,

Nadia

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