The Heart of Yoga
“The principle means of yoga is relationship.” (Whitwell, p.82)
Imagine the perfectionist trying to find the perfect place to do the perfect yoga teacher training? Yup, that was me. Deliberating over the perfect type of training but also trying to find a moment of stillness from doing a PhD to make doing yoga teacher training possible. “Just go do it!” was the advice of many, however, with the limited amount of time, it wasn’t that easy. Fortunately, I had built up a great amount of experience teaching yoga and had a wonderful mentor, Lou. She empowered me, believed in me, and provided me with opportunity to teach before I was actually a “yoga teacher”. Fortunately, I was encouraged and supported financially by Lou which made the step to becoming qualified a little easier.
Once I handed in my PhD, I waited to find out the date of my PhD Viva. I would love to say I used the principles of yoga and practiced patience but I didn’t. I called numerous people at the university demanding to know the date so I knew when I could “go away to India and do my teacher training”. Finally, with much persistence, I was presented with a date which gave me a short window of three weeks between conferences and presentations where I could fit in teacher training. I found one in Costa Rica which fit the bill: Yoga Revolution Academy with Anabel Miranda. At that point, I had less than 2 weeks to book the course, book flights, and get cover for my regular classes.
Fast forward two weeks:
I land in Costa Rica, spend an evening in the big city, San Jose, at a quirky hostel after being conned in a taxi as the driver charged me about 10 times the going rate. The next day I ran around San Jose to take in the “sights” (i.e., I bought all sorts of yoga inspired jewellery from local artists and did handstands in any park I could find). Then my large backpack, yoga mat and I embarked on the public bus to Jaco, the surf town. I had a day before everyone arrived for the course so I got acquainted with the area (stumbled across a surf competition, and spent time doing yoga by the pool.) I had dinner at a local restaurant and ate the local cuisine. Bliss.
Yoga Revolution Academy 2019
I don’t really know how or where to start to describe my experience. It is difficult to explain what this training gave me, but as I think of my experience as a whole, I feel my eyes well up and my heart grow bigger and lighter. What it gave me was a place to be myself, love myself, and be loved by eight beautiful women. To me, this experience was not really about the yoga but about letting go, becoming lighter, and learning to be okay with being me.
The course leader, Anabel, is a wonderful spirit, who held a space for us to share, cry, learn, and grow. My goal at the beginning was to learn all the Sanskrit names for poses. By the end, I realised this was my ego, and that, although it may make me a better teacher, many “normal people” doing yoga do not need the teacher to introduce poses using the Sanskrit name. For some, it actually puts them off. My goal at the end was to continue to be me and reflect this in my approach to yoga.
Of course, two weeks away, it wasn’t all sunshine and roses. The first day I got really bad sunburn (I am Scottish) and couldn’t sit in lotus at the start of the course because the tops of my thighs were red raw. I got ill (verging on the flu), but instead of taking my usual route (i.e., ploughing on and trying to fight it), I rested while the girls went into town. Also, I didn’t realise that Senna tea was a laxative so after a couple of days, I had…well…issues. The most amazing part of these “not so pleasant” experiences was that I let my yogi sisters care for me when I needed it and cared for them when they needed it. Whether it was my room-mate Sydney sitting in her underwear playing the ukulele to me, or Laura providing me with charcoal tablets and collecting aloe vera plants to soothe my sunburn. The experience was one in which eight women from different areas of the world came together and cared for each other. Emotionally, there were many tears, and many stories shared.
There were many highs. Most mornings I would get up to do my own practice at the studio and be greeted by monkeys in the trees or brightly coloured toucans. Alternatively, I would go a run with the lovely Mary and do handstands on the beach. As a group, we hiked in the hills, saw macaws flying together in the sky, and practiced yoga overlooking the beach and ocean. We watched surf competitions, practiced yoga on the beach, and watched the sun set. We ate the most incredible vegan food. Emphasis: the food was AMAZING. Meal time was when I would be silent (yes I know, it does happen), enjoying every bite, and then by the end of the course, I was Trashcan Tracy scooping up any leftovers! We went for half-price sushi, ate a quirky vegan café, and learned how to make dosas. We learned about different postures, adjustments, body alignment and anatomy. We each had to teach breathing techniques, part of a class, and a full class. We chanted, sang, and I experienced my first “ommmmmmm” while teaching. We learned about principles of yoga, the Gods, and chakras. We read, we wrote, and we reflected. We learned to love ourselves, be ourselves, and love each other. I can pretty much guarantee that every person left this training feeling lighter and fuller of love with a sisterhood for life.
This was an experience that I will cherish for the rest of my life.
It’s already coming up to the end of November, it’s darker and colder, and I am definitely feeling the need to hibernate!
We celebrated Yogabomb’s 3rd birthday at the start of November as well as opening up the new chill out space. We have had a crash course in coffee making and retail, but seem to be getting the hang of it - if slightly wired from testing our coffee a bit too often!
Our 3rd birthday celebrations were awesome. 3 beautiful yogis, Joanna, Helen and Katie, from Edinburgh’s Yoga Got Hot came along and took over the studio, delivering amazing workshops and a lot of love and laughter. We BELIEVED….. we glowed, flowed, danced, laughed, cried, saluted the sun (108 times at least), opened our hips and hearts, balanced in ways we never thought possible and had our very own Yogabomber Jules as our live DJ.
So much love filled the studio all weekend, thank you to everyone who made it possible and who participated in the workshops.
I cannot believe that Yogabomb has been around for 3 years. Over 3000 yogis have attended the studio over this time - Gail and Jo have probably attended 3000 classes too! I am so fortunate to have such an amazing crew of teachers who share their love and expertise with our yogis 7 days a week. Each one having their own speciality, bringing something different to the mat. I love and thank you all from the bottom of my heart - Namaste Y’all
A big shout out to each and everyone of you…….
Alli Feehan - Reiki Master, Andrea Brook, Bruno Richard, Caitlin Pollock, Clare Plunkett, Clare Burgon, Claire Maguire - Kundalini, Eleanor Coles, Ellie Culhane, Emel Duff, Emma Leaf, Freida Nipples - Burlesque, Grace Young, Ilaria Grando, Joanne Merlini - Transformational Yoga, Julie Cooper - Gong, Katherine Griffin - Reiki, Kate Wiggins, Laura Bough, Marci Stuchlikova, Matt Yates - circus & handstands, Tracy Donachie, Yoga Got Hot crew, Lexie Wrightson, Lucy Cook, Katy Simpson, Paulene Scott-Dyson, Harrie Quarrie, Helen Cottingham - Pilates…..
if I have missed anyone I do apologise, you are all AWESOME
HERE’S TO THE NEXT 3 YEARS AT LEAST - ONWARDS YOGABOMBERS!
As I sit here updating my website (long overdue), I suddenly realised that I haven't done a blog for flipping ages!
I'm not very good at writing things down, i'm much better at talking at people, I'd say I'm an expert at talking... So what to write about?
My last blog - which I didn't actually write - was in March.... so maybe I should write about what has happened since then. But March was such a long time ago, so much has happened since then, both in the studio and in my life.
So I'll start by talking about an event that happened over the last 6 months that has impacted me the most....... Here goes.....
Possibly the greatest life changer started on the last day of February. I decided that it was time to go sober, to give up my daily wine habit.
As a studio owner most people think that you live the yogi lifestyle, eat green things and do lots of yoga. Some studio owners probably do, but that certainly wasn't the case for me. I was stuck in a rut of running around like a mad woman trying to hold together my family, run a business, organise 3 children, 2 dogs, 2 cats, fit in some exercise (as teaching yoga doesn't count) and keep myself sane at the same time. To be honest it didn't really work. I would arrive home after various children's activities or work, then start on household stuff. This normally involved me losing my temper and getting frustrated with anyone/thing in close range of me, and I would inevitably reach for the bottle to calm my frazzled mind.
Half a bottle of a full bodied red seemed to do the trick, but by that time I didn't want to stop. Half a bottle turned into a bottle, then a bottle turned into a bottle and a half...... you get the picture. Full bodied reds go really well with chocolate so that became part of the process too. I was drinking on average 10-12 bottles of wine a week - to myself
When I read it out loud now I am amazed and shocked that I was still able to function on a daily basis. So many people have asked me why I have stopped drinking rather than just cutting down, the problem was - I couldn't cut down, I'm an all or nothing kind of girl! Honestly, I was a highly functioning alcoholic. I was able to still function as a mum, I got the children organised and to school on time with the correct equipment. I still got to the studio to teach my classes - the first down dog was an absolute killer. Any excuse to start drinking and I would be the first one ordering the wine and nominating Greg to drive us home, it didn't matter which night of the week it was, I was always up for a bottle or 2.
What people didn't see was me fast asleep on the studio floor after finishing the morning classes, or me staring at my reflection in the studio mirror, vowing not to drink again, or the amount of times that I passed out on the sofa at home by 9pm, too drunk to get upstairs. What people did see was the front that I put on every day, the fake Lou that I presented to the outside world. I only let a very few people in to see the truth, as my shame and self-loathing were through the roof!
It really did have to stop, or I would lose everything. I read a quote once...
Why keep one thing and lose everything when you can lose one thing and keep everything?
This rang so true with me and along with lots of other reasons (which I won't go into now at the risk of you never speaking to me again) I decided it was time to change
So i quit drinking..... cold turkey...... 168 days ago and according to my handy app, that is around
- 1022 glasses of wine
- 204 bottles of wine
- £5100 saved - expensive taste!
- 127800 calories not consumed
That is shocking! And the same as when I quit smoking (15 years ago), I now can't believe that I did it.
I still have a long way to go with my headspace and finding self-love but i am getting there and becoming the best version of myself possible is now actually looking possible!
I am starting to become comfortable in my own skin, I actually don't mind seeing myself in a mirror or a photograph. Probably because my skin is now so clean and healthy looking and full of colour. My eyes seem to sparkle again and I have energy - all day!
It hasn't been easy at all. The wine witch is always close by, ready to give me a 'fuck it' ticket and pour me a glass of wine. But I am staying strong and so far have had the strength to say no
I didn't intend on sitting down and writing this tonight. I was just updating the staff profiles on the website. But obviously it was the right time to share part of my story with whoever chooses to read this.
Yogabomb has been fundamental in getting me through the last 6 months. The studio itself, the energy it has, the teachers, the people that turn up on their mats. I wanted to create a space for normal people to practice yoga - hence the "yoga for normal people" tag line - I am a normal person, affected by normal problems. I'm not a typical yogi or an instagram yogi. But I am a wife, a mum, a daughter, a sister, a studio owner, a yoga teacher, a friend. I am grieving the death of my dad last August. I also wanted to create a space where normal people would feel safe and included, where they would find compassion or quiet time, where they could push their boundaries and step out of their comfort zone if they wanted to. Normal people.... I'm not actually sure what that means now. I guess my point is that I am just like the next person, and at times you have absolutely no idea what is going on in other people's lives. So the next time you attend a yoga class, or go to the gym, or sit in a cafe, don't judge the person next to you......you have no clue what is going on for them at that moment in time.
Thanks for taking the time to read this, it means a lot. xx
This blog is a ‘welcome back to the studio Clare’ with a poem about Hot Yang written by my good friend Naomi Good. Naomi has recently been on an “urban retreat” in York in which she attended three classes a day. I asked her if I could share her poem and she said yes.
Brought my ego to the mat.
Looked in the mirror and seen my fat.
Compared myself to others 26 times in 1.5 hours.
I struggled to remove my self doubt.
I hid in a corner to keep me safe.
As tears and sweat ran down my face.
6 breaths in & out to set you up for the day.
Anxiety - you take my breath away.
Push, pull, stand up straight.
I'm leaving this one up to fate.
“Look backwards - you won't fall”.
A loving voice, I heard you call.
Some days this is hard to do.
I stay on the mat as I have faith in you.
Awkward pose you ignite anger within, but I'm learning to take it on the chin.
Twist like ropes, line everything up
Squeeze it in, suck it up.
The only party where it's socially acceptable to drink H20.
Forget all your worries just breathe and let go.
You challenge me the most as I am forced to lock my knee and face my eyes in the mirror.
As I catch a glimpse around "we’re in this together"
If I don't kick hard (just like in life), I will lose my balance and fall out...
I must try again and remove my inner doubt...
Couldn't touch my ankles, now I can grab my feet
Yoga you are my spiritual treat.
Capital T not a broken umbrella
You brighten up my life like the summer weather.
It’s hard to breath and keep my arms up straight
But you opened me up to the possibilities of strength over hate.
DANDAYAMANA-BIBHAKTAPADA-JANUSHIRASANA - standing head to knee
Good for the immune system and taking care of me...
Life's continuous battle to rise from my knees...
Who knew the answer was to stand like trees...
Toe stand develops mental strength, brings calmness and peace to my head...
As I lay down and pretend to play dead...
2 minutes of nothingness my time to be grateful for my body and health..
Dropping the ego and getting rid of self...
Pull my knee down with all of my might
Life is a journey, not a fight...
Outside this room, it feels lonely and grey.
Savasana seems to keep that feeling at bay
The energy in the room keeps you going..
You do your sit up and realise you're not alone.
Cobra before I was introduced to you I didn't have a spine..
Now you help me with the strengthening series, my body, and my mind...
When I'm on my back and breathing nothing else matters,
My life suddenly becomes clearer and my body is not in tatters...
A tortoise lives so long perhaps because they take their time,
it's not a race, it’s to heal the body and the mind...
Camel challenges me to find comfort in the uncomfortable when my face is red,
It gives me clarity in my busy head.
With practice I'm certain I can deal with any situation,
Hot Yang, you are my moving meditation...
In rabbit pose, I cry secretly from emotions which arrive at the surface,
I cry into mat and question my purpose.
I reflect that I would run as fast as a rabbit when I couldn't cope,
Yoga, you have helped me and restored my hope...
When I arrived, i couldn't reach my feet but you made my arms seem longer
Yoga, you’ve made my ambition stronger...
I sit up tall, twist, look behind at my past, I acknowledge where I've been...
Another breath and stretch into the unknown and unseen...
KAPALBHATI IN VAJRASANA
I feel overwhelming courage, love and compassion.
I've even grow in size which helps me 'hang up the washin'
A final lie down to reflect and be grateful for the teachers from all over the world who encourage me to change and grow.
A special shout out to the yoga teachers, for your continued effort and the love that you show.
Clare will soon be teaching Hot Yang on Wednesday 730-845pm and Friday 7-8am. If you would prefer some Yin in your life, she will also be back teaching the more restorative type of yoga on Thursdays 715-815am!
Tracy's blog on International Women's Day was so full of emotion and honesty, it moved me to tears..... Then there was a response from Naomi Good, one of Tracy's good friends which completely finished me off! I have posted it below for you all to read.
Ladies like this are why Yogabomb exists and why we should all celebrate International Women's Day. Having a strong group of women around you is absolutely priceless. Not all of them are strong at the same time, but by taking it in turns to support each other, the bond just gets bigger, better and stronger.
If you are free on Thursday lunchtime at 12.30pm come and join us for a fierce women's circle at Yogabomb and celebrate with us. Just sign up online or text me and i'll book you on, it doesn't cost anything, just come and spend some time with other fierce women!
I can’t put into words what this girl has and does for my mental health and well-being. A gift from God, one might say, but then again, in Yoga we are working on that ego, so let’s just say, a gift “).
I remember visiting York when, Tracy started looking into Yogabomb. She’s done weird and wonderful things in her lifetime, but perhaps searching for a way to make the world a nicer place for humanity. I admire this, but I often wondered when my friend would put the breaks on. Does her bike even have breaks?
Since Yogabomb I’ve noticed a dramatic change in Tracy. It’s like she’s found peace and purpose for herself whilst looking to fix the world.
Her passion and desire to help other people become the best version of themselves is more powerful than ever, as she is taking the time to focus on what ‘Tracy needs’. I’m really glad, because, I she was an inspiration before and since allowing herself some handstand and freaky yoga postures, she has found a deeper and more meaningful connection with the universe.
Tracy’s effect on the world is very evident, when you see the way people communicate with her, they are happy, relaxed and there is a sense of warmth and acceptance. Isn’t that what everyone wants, to be accepted?
I came to Yogabomb for a Yoga blast last year and again this year whilst visiting and I was dragged to classes with Tracy, often 3 times a day, but I didn’t complain because I trust in her, I trusted her judgement of all the amazing teachers at Yogabomb and at a trying time of my life, it helped me get over a hurdle.
Lou, is an absolutely lovely and genuine girl. I haven’t had a chance to get to know her, but the place she has created is something really remarkable.
I search always for something, to fill the dark space in time and it's in that room.
Thank you for taking care of my friend. She is in safe hands and I don’t ever have to worry, maybe a little concerned that she will run off to the circus to become a bendy performer but other than that.
Great place full of great people.
Well done Tracy. You have found your calling. Yogi for life
Down with the dogs x
You are more than welcome Naomi, we will look after her. Tracy is an absolute diamond and it is her time to shine
Namaste Yoga Bitches
Happy International Women's Day to all of the fierce, amazing women out there!
International Women’s Day takes place on Thursday 8th March and is an opportunity to celebrate women and their achievements. You can celebrate the day by spending time on your mat alongside any woman of your choice. Yogabomb are offering you the opportunity to bring a fellow (wonder) women to attend class with you for free. All you have to do is text their details to 07960011617.
Additionally, we are hosting a Fierce Women Circle, which is also free . All you have to do is sign up online through the Mindbody app or text07960011617 to reserve your spot!
Let's celebrate everything about being a woman. Yogabomb is the perfect place to do this.
The Yogabomb studio is like no other. In many studios, you will find yogis in isolation, everyone clinging onto their own space, in their own bubble. You may observe the silence in the room, bodies lying with eyes closed in savasana or buried heads in child pose waiting for the class to begin. You may notice minimal interaction between yogis, perhaps only quiet whispers among friends who are attending together. You may notice the teacher enters the studio when class is scheduled to start.
This is not what you will find at Yogabomb.
What you will see at Yogabomb is nattering amongst yogis, people helping each other with their mats, or even supporting each other in poses. You will observe women tidying up the shelves and helping newbies get acquainted. You will notice energy in the room which is hard to describe with words. You may see the teacher interacting with yogis, either asking them about their day or telling them stories about the last Yogabomb night out or the funny things they have said during class (or maybe that’s just me!) You will, without a doubt, observe friendships blooming. You may notice people staying for double classes and sharing coffee in the break in between. You will notice women lending other women props or simply sharing stories about their sourdough bread baking. Mainly, you will find a place where most women are struggling with something but have found a place where they can either share their struggles or simply be silent on the mat in their own bubble in a room full of other amazing women (and sometimes men). If you are part of the Yogabomb community, I suspect you will know exactly what I mean and know that the uniqueness of Yogabomb is very hard to describe.
Thank you to Lou for creating such an amazing environment and for the female fleet of teachers for creating a supportive and empowering space.
After I wrote the above part of the blog, I turned to working on my PhD (or at least I tried to). With every minute, I questioned my ability. My mind became discoloured with self-doubt. I was struggling to keep information in my head and formulate paragraphs. As the time drew closer to my yoga session, my anxiety and anger towards myself, my PhD, and anyone in sight was reaching a peak. I contemplated missing yoga. Then in trying to do too many things at once - speaking on my phone, saving work, packing a bag - in a manic state, I scurried out of the office onto my bike. I got half way to yoga and realised I forgot my yoga kit. I looked at my watch and I was already later than my desired arrival time. I contemplated just going back to the office and continuing to work. Instead, I turned my bike around and pedalled as fast I could to retrieve my leggings from under my desk. As I pedalled quickly back to studio, my mind was swirling “should I just go home and work?”. My anxiety was at it's peak. My chest was pounding. I arrived to park my bike. I knew I had made the right decision. Yoga was where I needed to be.
What I observed was three newbie yogis exchanging telephone numbers so they could attend a class together. I smiled. I entered the packed room in a frenzy and a fellow yogi waved to a spot beside her. I was greeted with smiles and friendly faces. I smiled. The yogi, Rachelle, gave me some calming oils to put on my wrists and we chatted. I smiled. My heart rate started to slow down. “I am here”.
We started to flow and with every pose I felt calmer. I observed my breath and made my inhales and exhales as long as I could. I focused on every posture. When it came to bridge and wheel, I gave my usual internal reaction “oh no”. At this point, Rachelle and I were facing the back of the room. Therefore, when I pushed myself into wheel, I was now facing the front of the studio and glaring at another yogi. We laughed, we smiled and I said “peekaboo!” I was happy.
It came to the final wheel and Kate suggested lifting a leg. Usually my response is “No chance!” However, I tried. My right foot made off the floor. I brought it down. My left foot made it a tiny bit of the floor. Kate praised my attempt. I realised that the poses that are difficult are the ones that teach us the most about ourselves. Do we give up or keep trying? I looked up to the door in the studio where all the ‘angels’ that people had created were. I observed one I had written for my grandad, one for my niece who was a stillborn and one for my gran. My gran was my rock. A tear came to my eye and I thought “I will finish my PhD for you, gran” I felt an overwhelming gratitude, that despite no longer having my gran to turn to, I have yoga and the Yogabomb community. I have wonderful women in my life who continue to support me, care for me and make me smile.
I smiled and left Yogabomb feeling lighter.
AT YOGABOMB, WE BELIEVE THAT INSPIRING PEOPLE ARE WHAT MAKE A GREAT YOGA STUDIO.
In November 2018, we introduced “Yogi of the Month”.
You may count the months since then… November, December, and January..... and expect us to introduce you to about 3 yogis. Instead, thanks to Lou’s generosity (and an abundance of inspirational people attending Yogabomb making it difficult to choose), 20 people have received a month of free yoga, worth £90 each in the last 3 months.
Let’s meet them…
Voted by the Yogabomb Yogis
- How long have you been practicing yoga and how has yoga at Yogabomb improved your life?
I’ve practiced yoga regularly since September 2016, when I joined Yogabomb. The main reason I practice yoga is for emotional and mental wellbeing. But it also benefits me physically and I quit the gym shortly after joining Yogabomb as I realised this was the kind of movement that suited me best. It’s not just the practice that helps but also the teachers and the other yogis – it’s a very welcoming and supportive environment. It has helped me to cope with some challenging times and is a place of healing and positivity. I’ve gained confidence through challenging my body to move into different postures. At first it felt weird getting upside down but now it’s my favourite place to be! During the classes (and workshops) at Yogabomb I’m able to shift my focus from my health issues to appreciating more what my body can do and its potential for healing.
- Fun fact about you:
I’ve lived in and played semi-professional football on three continents.
- What’s your intention for your yoga practice?
My personal intention for yoga practice is to help me physically, mentally and emotionally. I also strive to continually learn so I can best serve the people I teach.
- What’s your favourite yoga pose?
Handstand (I think that might be quite obvious to anyone who follows me on Instagram/has ever been to yogabomb!)
Voted by the Yogabomb Yogis and the public
Yogi of the Month was awarded to 17 people. Let’s meet four of them:
I’m relatively new to yoga, starting in September. My close friend Mike, a fellow yogi, dragged me along to a class, to help me deal with a few curve balls life had thrown me. I have to say the welcome and kindness from the community in Yogabomb along with the benefits of learning yoga and starting to form a practice have help me greatly and Im so grateful for finding my mat and meeting so many wonderful individuals - i m looking forward to this continued journey which I hope is for life.
- When not on your mat, where can you be found?
I would like to say that when I'm not on my mat I could be found behind my camera taking amazing landscape photos but the truth is I'll be driving my taxi around York.
- How has yoga at Yogabomb improved your life?
Coming to Yogabomb has been a lovely, relaxing experience. I definitely work harder than I would have done at home or without the heat which although is hot is by no means unpleasant. I have already, after 4 sessions, seen an improvement in my flexibility and balance and feel that yoga is right for my body now and in the future.
- What is/are your intention/intentions for yoga practice?
Openness and fun
- What song should be on every yoga playlist?
Sia- Breathe Me
- How has yoga at Yogabomb improved your life?
Yogabomb has helped me get to places other yoga classes haven’t reached!
- Fun fact about you
I started a dinner party club for friends called The FEW Club, few standing for Fantastically Exotic Wines.
- What are your intentions for yoga practice?
To maintain a healthy mind and body, to practice patience and listening
- What is your favorite yoga pose?
The wheel, Chakrasana, because it's a pose I'm trying to master fully
Voted by Marci
Marci voted for Mary because:
"Mary has been with me from the start of the studio. Once, at the very beginning, actually teaching only her as she was the only person in my class one night. She rarely misses a class, I like her dedication and I enjoyed seeing her yogi powers grow. She is an inspiration, humble and always making time for her Tuesday practice regardless of the weather. Makes me happy to see her every Tuesday in her regular sport! So I will "share her" with other others by giving her the opportunity to go to any class at Yogabomb in one month."
Keep your eyes peeled for
February 2018 Yogi of the Month
to be announced soon, Namaste y'all
For those who visit Yogabomb regularly, you may assume that all I do with my day is teach yoga and attend yoga classes. This is partly true; however, the rest of the day is dedicated to science, research, and education. My PhD involves examining the relationship between perfectionism, overthinking and emotions. I also teach at York St John University where I try to instil a passion for research, psychology and physical activity in students. Therefore, I am fascinated in the science behind helping people feel good about themselves and gaining more fulfilment. For me, yoga is the answer. In the spirit of International Day of Women and Girls in Science, I will aim to give you a snap shot of the scientific evidence supporting the suggestion that yoga is the answer to a better life.
In examining the scientific evidence relevant to my argument that yoga is the answer to a better life, it is quite clear that research in the area is rather weak (e.g. a number of poorly designed studies) and I question some of the validity of the findings. Many studies have small sample sizes, do not have a control group, or do not compare yoga to other forms of physical activity. However, the evidence does seem to suggest that yoga has many physical and emotional benefits. Yoga can help alleviate lower back pain, improve strength, flexibility and balance, and reduce inflammation in the body. Furthermore, research shows that yoga reduces cortisol, cholesterol and blood pressure, compared to active control (Pascoe et al, 2017). Hot yoga, in particular, was found to improve lower back and hamstring flexibility. Compared to non-heated yoga, heart rate and sweat rate is increasingly higher for those taking part in hot yoga (Campbell, 2015). Yoga also increases creativity, improves mood, and decreases anxiety. Yoga assists relaxation and promotes quality of sleep.
It has even been suggested the physical and psychological benefits of yoga can complement cancer treatment/therapy. Research also shows that yoga can help to reduce in anxiety in infertility patients. In 2000, Domar found that 55 percent of infertility patients became pregnant (and had a baby) within one year of participating in her 10-session yoga, meditation and acupuncture program. In a control group, just 20 percent had babies. According to Domar; "Yoga is really good for patients who are highly anxious, and fertility patients tend to be anxious. A lot of these patients are angry with their bodies for not doing what they want. Yoga gets them back in touch with their bodies."Domar suggests lighter forms of yoga to help with problems conceiving. At Yogabomb, we offer “yin chill” which is a gentler and mindful form of yoga.
Taking away the science, our woman in the studio, Rebecca Grant, ‘Yogi of the Month’, said: “I have to say the welcome and kindness from the community in Yogabomb along with the benefits of learning yoga and starting to form a practice have helped me greatly and I’m so grateful for finding my mat and meeting so many wonderful individuals – I am looking forward to this continued journey which I hope is for life.”
Another 'Yogi of the Month', Carole, said: “Coming to Yogabomb has been a lovely, relaxing experience. I have already, after 4 sessions, seen an improvement in my flexibility and balance and feel that yoga is right for my body now and in the future.”
Benefits of yoga also extend to those teaching it. In 2007, research showed that the brains of yoga practitioners exhibited higher rates of neurotransmitter that acts like an antidepressant. I can vouch for that. As a “Woman in Science”, I do not need a journal article to confirm that teaching yoga makes me extremely happy.
In a nutshell, yoga is the answer to a better life.
Keywords: Yogabomb, York, hot yoga, women in science, yoga, science
Tracy Donachie, MSc, BS (Hons), FHEA
Believe. Positive Psychology.
Follow me on Twitter: @tdona005
Haven't managed to blog for a while, life has taken over and been a little hectic!
The last 6 months at Yogabomb have been amazing, lots of new faces and new teachers coming through the door. Classes are filling up and the vibe around the place is awesome.
It's been lovely to watch friendships developing on and off the mat, creating a lovely sense of community about the studio.
I couldn't have asked for a better start to my business, 18 months in and Yogabomb has surpassed my expectations, and continues to excite, motivate and fill me with pride.
On a personal level I have realised that I need to take my foot off the gas a little. Hence I have passed a few of my classes over to some of the other teachers. I'm finding that my body keeps me going up to a certain extent but I really need to look after myself better and make sure that I allow time to recover from injury rather than just pushing through.
With a persistent hamstring problem (due to a drunken yoga challenge), 2 knees that scream at me every time I sit in easy pose, and a lower back problem that keeps coming back to haunt me, I really need to prioritise my fitness/health more. I often joke about it and put it down to being 'an age thing' but if i keep trying to push through I'm going to do some permanent damage.
I have just finished reading the inspirational book "Rise Sister Rise" by Rebecca Campbell where she talks about 'burning out';
So from this point forward that is what I am going to (try to) do. I'm going to find the stamina to stay in the game, tend to my garden so that it is always fertile. It's not just an age thing, it's acknowledging and accepting that I need to prioritise myself more, I need to ensure that I am functioning efficiently so that I can achieve my goal, be in it for life and not just a season
Whilst on a recent visit to Whistler, Canada with the family for a spot of skiing, I managed to squeeze in a few yoga sessions at a local studio. On my first visit I arrived 10 minutes early to a studio half the size of mine with 3 or 4 yogis already there. As the start time approached there was a last minute flurry of arrivals resulting in 12 yogis laying down their mats for practice in the studio. The studio was cosy and we all had enough mat space with a few centimetres either side of our mats to create a 'personal space'. The practice was a hot one and an awesome flow, the teacher moved efficiently around the room giving adjustments and modifications with ease. At the end of the session I thanked the teacher and left the studio, stepping back out into the snow to retrieve my 'frozen' trainers!
The second class that I visited at that studio started off with a similar vibe, yogis hanging around wishing each other a Happy New Year and discussing their festivities..... but the studio door seemed to be continuously opening and yogi after yogi after yogi came in. When the class started, 21 yogis were squeezed into the space, this time without the couple of centimetres to spare around our mats. The regulars seemed comfortable with this so I went with it and found my breath, soon forgetting the space limitations around me. As the practice went on we were guided through postures which involved sharing each other's mats and even assisting our neighbours by holding legs, feet etc. At first I found this quite awkward but as time progressed I became more relaxed and really got into it. It was actually quite liberating not being precious about personal space or whether someone else's sweat was dripping on my mat or theirs. After all we were all there for the same reason, to practice yoga. Again I left the studio to find my trainers frozen and felt energised and motivated by a new type of practice.
A week later I am back in York, in my own studio Yogabomb, teaching the wonderful yogis who come through the studio door each day. Is it because we are 'very British' that we like to have personal space and feel unnerved/violated if someone gets too close? I watch all of the yoga bombers setting up their mat spaces before class and there is generally 50cm or more around each mat creating an invisible shield, stopping anyone else from entering the space. When there is a late arrival, there is sometimes a look of panic as yogis look around to work out where the extra mat will go. What would happen if I increased the numbers allowed into the studio so we were practising mat to mat? Flipping our dogs into wild thing can often include a quick look to ensure there isn't anyone else's mat in the way. Deep standing hip openers can find someone's foot in you face, but is this an invasion of personal space? Is it a British thing?
I really enjoyed practising in a busy, full studio. The sounds of the breath and yogis finding their flow was motivation itself. Also helping a fellow yogi during a practice was rewarding, maybe helping them to get deeper into a posture. And on the odd occasion that the domino effect happened, and 2, 3 or 4 yogis fell over, it created a light hearted feeling, causing laughter and smiles. All of which should be in every yoga class right?
Maybe i'll give it a try one day
So not being the typical 'yogi' shape myself, one of my missions is to make yoga accessible to all.
Hence the tag line 'YOGA FOR NORMAL PEOPLE'
I want people to come to my studio and be able practice yoga to their own level, whatever that may be. I want people to feel comfortable and not pressured to look or bend in a certain way. So many studios, teachers and fellow class participants can make you feel self-conscious and not good enough. Not giving you the feeling of inclusion, self acceptance and self-love that you should feel from a yoga class.
I can't achieve a lot of postures in yoga, my body doesn't bend as much as others, but that doesn't stop me from loving yoga and loving all of the benefits that I get from taking part in or from teaching a class.
Like a lot of ladies out there I have chest 'furniture' that can hinder yoga performance, I also have a well loved 'red wine baby belly' which has taken me years to develop (since first child). These things can get in the way, they can stop you achieving certain postures and binds, they can stop you from breathing properly at times too! But you just have to keep practising..... I often use the excuse that it is my arms that are not long enough or that my hands are slippy, but in truth if I lost a few pounds it would be much easier! But who wants to diet?
I may not be able to bind in twisted lunge or breathe efficiently in plough.... but you know what, I have great strength, I can hold a headstand for ages, my chaturanga rocks and hovers perfectly off the mat, my dolphin is strong and my thighs can sit in that evil chair posture longer than most! We all have our strengths and weaknesses both on and off the mat. It's about finding yours and working with them. Yes your yoga practice will constantly evolve, some days it will be better than others and it is important to turn up to your mat without expectation. As long as you turn up to your mat and keep finding your flow.
Find a studio that fits your vibe. If you feel uncomfortable, judged, or frowned upon then I say it's time to look for another studio. Don't ever feel pressurised into forcing the posture, that normally results in injury. Yogis should not judge or be judged
AHIMSA (non-harming, or non-violence) - As easy as remembering that all beings everywhere have the right to be happy and free.
Ahimsa is mindfulness.
Ahimsa is an idea that can grow into a reality if we will it so
My vibe attracts my tribe
Yogabomb - Hot Yoga in York for NORMAL PEOPLE
Well I've done a year and what a year it has been!
Our first birthday bash was awesome..... 16 wonderful yogis joined me on their mats for a hot yoga flow, a few tears, a fuck it meditation and we even harmonised OMs. Then as promised Jagerbombs at Yogabomb, downward dog (shaped) biscuits courtesy of six pack Sally and lots of prosecco - It was a lot of fun.
860 clients in a year, I'm so pleased with that. I have met some wonderful new friends, we've shared hugs, tears, sweat, laughter, frustration and flows. From complete yoga virgins to yogi gurus, yogis and yoginis of all ability levels have walked through the studio door and rolled out their mats.
The studio has held together pretty well, a few housekeeping issues but on the whole it's still looking good!
So what next.....
More of the same, I absolutely love my job.
Even getting up at 6am to teach the pre-work class after falling into bed at 11pm the previous evening, as soon as the heaters click on, the mind clears, the breath lengthens and the flow starts I completely lose myself in the yogic feeling and what an amazing feeling it is. The ability to share that feeling with so many other people is magical, I am so lucky to have the opportunity to do so.
Long may Yogabomb continue to tick.....
Namaste York Yogis and Yoginis!