Why I love, love, love Down Dogs

Adho Mukha Svanasana – otherwise known as Downward Facing Dog.

I just love, love, love Down Dogs, and if you are reading this and have attended any of my classes in the past or present you are nodding your head and chanting YES, I KNOW!
I incorporate the asana in all of my classes to link and to create fluidity in our practise. A centredness is sealed. A moment to be on your own. It’s a soothing place, because you can either keep the posture, or you are in a perfect position to surrender to Child.
Where would we be without Sun Salutations in Yoga?
Down Dog creates a bridge in linking so many beautiful combinations of postures and shapes. It’s a link of strength and stability.
Down Dog makes me feel secure and when I want my own internal space, that’s what I do. Those moments where I feel overwhelmed or at times disheartened, my soothing place is upside down.
If you are a yogi who can’t do Down Dogs due to any contraindications, I recommend that the same shift of length and space can be experienced by standing facing the wall, palms outstretched above the shoulders, and extending and lengthening without pressure on the wrists or shoulders. A few of my students will also perform Dolphin Pose on the forearms, as a great variation.
Here are the three most common challenges for students when it comes to Down Dog (and I will be brief!):
1- Holding the weight on the upper body, rather then lengthening
2- Not spreading the fingertips of each hand, not utilising the web of the Hand between the thumb and index finger
3- Not being mindful of the continuous focus of breath and attention to the moment. Mental focus is key.
If you think any of these challenges apply to you, or if you have any further questions about your Down Dog, please approach me before or after class.
Also if injuries are prevalent, do get medical clearance and support from your doctor, physiotherapist, chiropractor, osteopath etc. It’s a long term investment to your health.
I know exactly what it’s like. I experienced a shoulder tear injury 11 months ago and have only recently started feeling  less pain and have better utilisation of my right arm. UUUGHHHH I can still remember that Wednesday afternoon when my dog Jedda took a swipe with her mouth at a small white dog in the park. I did manage to save the dog by pulling on Jedda’s collar – but that meant all 40kg of her wrenched my shoulder. My rehabilitation incorporated physiotherapy, rest, homeopathic remedies, supplements, acupuncture and of course my own Yoga practise. I’m still mindful of what I can and can’t do with my right arm, so please, please, please don’t think that one yoga class a week or fortnight is enough support for healing and strength.
The benefits of inverting our body in Down Dog are skeletal, (hello spinal column), muscular (legs of steel), so rejuvenating for our abdominal organs, and soothing for our nervous system. You can still smile when you’re upside down!!!
See you on your mat, fabulous yogis.
xxxxxxxxxx

NATURE, BREATHING AND YOGA: A call to practicing outdoors

As a summer lover – (regardless of my painful experience getting bitten by a blue bottle this weekend while swimming. This blue bottle had such power, it made my arm burn and double in pain for 24 hours. I loved the ambulance staff that attended to me. So helpful and reassuring. Deep gratitude) – I feel that yoga and meditation should be taught and practiced outdoors as often as possible, not just on random weekends, retreats or holidays.

I love yoga due to the freedom of movement and the beautiful relationship that it has with mother Earth. When I teach, I try to describe the postures from the fundamentals of nature’s creations: Earth, Sky, Sun, Moon, Animals and Plants.

That’s why I love standing postures so much. I stand and watch from above. I stand and feel as one. I breathe with deep consciousness of the Life Force to soothe, restore, calm and relax me. Breathing and meditation is most effective outdoors, especially by the beach (my ultimate passion) or amongst trees and plants.

It’s our human calling to practice yoga and meditation outdoors, to feel the prana, to step on the earth without shoes, to sit and move without the limits of walls. Yoga and movement outdoors has the ability to filter away our overexposure to chemicals, environmental pollution, internal stress and resentment, over reliance on technology, fatigue and our daily imbalances.

Yoga allows us to improve our sense of self and inner connection which expands to our community and the world.

I started teaching “Yoga at the Beach” nine years ago and I always feel such power watching the water move and the constant evolving change. It has such a magnet-like feeling.

It taught me not too be too hard on myself if my plans did not succeed, especially as a teacher. I can’t count the amount of classes that have been interrupted, changed or cancelled by rain, thunder, strong winds, mosquitoes, ants. We need to flow, like the tides that rise and fall.

My proposal is for more sessions outdoors. My yoga fitness classes have been conducted all throughout Bardwell Park, Marrickville and all its reserves. I would love to get more of us out and about.

Before joining one of my outdoor classes, please checklist the following:

  • For walking / running / bushwalking activities, wear reliable, comfortable and appropriate shoes.
  • If you’re feeling sick or weak don’t attempt a two-hour session in the great outdoors!!!!
  • Bring sunscreen, water, snacks and sometimes a change of clothes.
  • Bring an extra bag (biodegradable if possible) to dispose of rubbish as well as cleaning up rubbish when we can. We are using Mother Earth, so we need to give back. A fair exchange I think.

Share an outdoor yoga class with someone you care, love and celebrate.

Thank you and Happy Summer everyone.

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Persian Yoga Introductory Workshop 31st January

Book now for this special session on 31st January!

Join an amazing introductory yoga workshop taught by Kasha Azad for:

  • An introduction to fundamental Persian Yoga and Circular Strength Training principles
  • An introduction to the use of Meel (Clubs) and Shena (Push-up board)
  • A guided group training session
  • The option to buy equipment on the day and save on shipping and handling costs ($50 value!)

Introductory Workshop Program – 90 minutes

  • Introduction to Persian Yoga & Circular Strength Training

The secret conditioning system of Iranian wrestlers and the physical arts of ancient Persian warriors! A time tested, battle-field proven, integrated approach to multi-skill and multi-planar movement and circular strength training. Developed millenia ago as a complete, yet simple, physical arts conditioning system to forge warriors out of ordinary people.

  • Fundamentals of Meel

Meel, the grandfather of the Clubbell and Indian Clubs! The Original and Authentic Persian Meel, made from one piece of timber for exceptional balance, symmetry and swing performance. Used for millenia by ancient warriors and modern martial artists to develop great strength, endurance, mobility, stability and synchronicity of the shoulders.

  • Fundamentals of Shena

The essential, and most ancient, calisthenics tool! The Shena is time tested to deliver results like no other similar device. Used by Persian warriors and modern day Olympic gold medal wrestlers. Enables a wider variety of push-ups, improves ROM, strength, flexibility of shoulders and hips for safer push-ups.

The session will be held outdoors, commencing at 8am. Please pre-book and pay by 29th January 2016. 

Health, yoga and fitness advice and my self-exploring and enquiring: Part #2

Summer is finally here. A season of pulsating energy and vibration. There’s movement as we all try to spend as much time outdoors. Following Part #1, this is a continuation of health advice that I adhere to myself and hopefully you, awesome reader, can gain some inspiration.
It’s not too make you feel overwhelmed or that you are not enough.
1 Hydration
Consistency of water throughout the day is imperative, for adults as well as kids. If water gets boring (and many of my yogis roll their eyes when I remind them to drink after a class), you could add some of the following: Fresh mint, slivers of lemon, grapefruit, coconut water and pormegranate juice.
I love coconut water but the quality of what is sold is a mixed bag. Check that there’s no added sugar, preservatives or stabilisers. Another option which I love is to use all the herbal teas that have been stashed aside in winter. They can be made to a great iced tea and if I need some sweetness I simply add some agave syrup or honey.
It’s also a great time of the year to invest in renewable water bottles. Plastic sucks on all levels. It’s destructive for your body, the environment and your budget.
2 Swimming
Swimming is MAGIC in Summer. If you swim laps and love rockpools, be mindful of keeping trend with the tides. You do not want to swim with hundreds of people in old ocean water – yuck!!!! Swimming is amazing for yogis who want to support their mediation practise. It’s such a mindful movement of gliding through the water and correct breathing will have you swimming for longer then 30 minutes.
I have made a deal with myself over the years that if I want to keep high energy levels, my prescription is exercising (such as running) then swimming a minimum of twice a week.
If you are an adult who is not confident in the swimming department, please, please get some swimming lessons. You will LOVE it!!! Do not leave it for another year to go by. Ocean water is also very cleansing for our aura and a great mood stabiliser.
3 Salads
For the yogis who claim that  they can’t cook, salads in Summer are your best friends. Pimp them with yummy produce, your own home-grown herbs or do some bartering with a home gardener. Nuts, seeds, flavoursome vinegars, tamari, olives, olive oil and the best salt and pepper will have you glowing inside and out.
4 Outdoors
Moving your yoga and meditation practice outdoors is easier in Summer than in winter and much more accessible!!! Come and participate in some of the outdoor classes that I teach and present. Mother Nature provides such beauty and allows us to appreciate and stop the busy-ness that can sometimes engulf our lives. Practising yoga in the outdoor elements is divine. Head to a park or just before you get your midday coffee and sit on a park bench and breathe. You can do it!! It’s a blessing for our heart space.
May we all have a peaceful Christmas, safe holidays and a magnificent 2016.
Thank you for all of the support it has been such a blast.
Thank you for funding my yoga dream.
I adore Yoga, teaching and my magnificent students.
Love to all of us.
xx Eleni

Health, yoga and fitness advice and my self-exploring and enquiring: Part #1

After having been around the block with health, fitness and yoga in a full-time or part-time capacity since the age of 19, I have learned and experienced some beautiful “a-ha” moments and breakthroughs that I have blended into my current lifestyle. As well as some things that left me “ughhhhh” in a disarray.

So I’ve decided to share some of these – because if you know me, you know I share about myself a lot!!

    • If any class involving movement does not make you feel good and throughout the session you are thinking “when will it end?” – then it’s not for you.
      Don’t waste your time and money. Try something else.
    • Don’t be afraid of meditation, you can experience a beautiful peaceful state that focuses on your spirit and mental welfare.
      We all need it from the youngest child to the elderly. Don’t feel “ohhhh, I cant meditate”. Yes you can. If you are breathing, you can meditate.
      Attend one of my meditation classes or Breathing and Mindfulness Sunday sessions, read a book about exploring meditation, listen to a guided relaxation CD, download a meditation sequence. Just don’t wait!!! Sit with your kids, an elderly parent, a friend, with your dog, cat, baby, plants or on your own. Daily stress and anxiety can build up daily and we need to let it go.
    • On the theme of Don’t Wait:
      Don’t wait to lose weight to start yoga
      Don’t wait to get more flexible
      Don’t wait for your friend to come with you
      Don’t wait for more $$$ – if there’s ever an issue of finances which may restrict your ability to pay for classes, talk to your teacher so a system can be arranged and you don’t have to miss out on something you love.
    • Sport Bras are a must for young girls and women who do high impact exercise. It does not matter about your breast size or if you have had a breast enlargement or reduction. Strap them and care for them well – gravity sucks, sagging sucks, end of story.
    • If you have battled with eating disorders or are currently in the realm of one, ask for help. Support is magic. Don’t give up and do not be afraid to ask for help. For me, acknowledgement that I couldn’t continue in that daily living hell (once I passed the denial stage that ohhh yes there is something wrong here) my mums help, yoga and homeopathy were my trifecta.
    • Organic , natural food will never go out of fashion and creates the foundation of your daily health and optimum function.  And I will tie that in with body therapies. I have loved, persevered with, tried out, discovered or ditched some of the following (some of you could guess which is which): wheatgrass juice, green smoothies, biodynamic, macrobiotic, high protein, no fruit, no fats, no nuts , no oils, auyervedic diet, sprouting, raw, no food (no kidding),  gluten free, no additives and numbers, no food sources with plastic packaging (that’s why I have given up on Chlorophyll, used to be in glass has converted to plastic as well as some brands of vinegar have gone plastic, booooo!!!!), vegan, vegetarian, salt therapy rooms, acupuncture, shiatsu, herbs, iridology, colonics, shirodhara, counselling, auyevedic , chinese massage, cupping, infrared therapy,  pranayama, crystal meditation, massage, physiotherapy, chiropractic, weight training, yoga, homeopathy, outdoor running, bushwalking, trapeze, silks, pole dancing, pole gymnastics, swimming, SUP, persian yoga, acro yoga, meditation, walking, adult beginner ballet classes, jazz, funk and hip hop, pilates reformer machines, burlesque.

With all health regimes its about enhancing your health, and existing medical and health conditions. With promises of a permanent cure and extreme fat loss or extreme changes to the way you look? All I can say is watch out for fake promises.

My daily need? A bucket full of self-belief and trust, and living without fear.

What is your daily need and support? What have you tried, ditched or keep coming back for more? Drop me a line. I would love to read.
xxx

Eleni

Celebrating 10 years of yoga at Eleni’s

On Sunday 27th of September I united past, present and future students for the 10 year anniversary celebration of Eleni’s Yoga and Movement Studio.

Having a party was not only to celebrate me – although one of my favourite lines is “it’s all about me” 🙂 – it was to celebrate US!!!!
Yogis – our community, our health, our happiness, our friendships, our love of yoga, our serenity.
The party was a great success and truly a beautiful day. (I was so scared that it would rain, but the clouds glided by and some of the sun’s rays were able to shine through).
I’m totally overwhelmed by everyone’s kindness, assistance and generosity.
I thank you all and most importantly, my Mum, who has the strength of a lion and has given me buckets of courage, confidence and courage. Courage to get my dream become a reality. Advice to never doubt myself.
Gina assisted with all the important elements of a party and her food was so, so delicious. She is a vegetarian, mediterranean cooking machine!!!
The party was a blast and seeing everyone’s interaction  has made me conclude that we all strive to become more accepting and loving.
Yoga teaches us that constantly.
Happy glorious 10 years. Thank you to all who made it happen. I’m truly blessed.
Namaste xx
Eleni

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Food: before yoga, after yoga and in daily life

I’m always surprised, regardless of the volume of students I teach and communicate with daily, at the following statements:

  • I forgot to eat
  • I might not have enough energy for yoga tonight I have not had lunch / a snack / enough food
  • I have not had breakfast
  • Eleni, I ate too much, I’m feeling: nauseous / uncomfortable / please don’t make me do plank
  • Eleni I tried / had too much spirulina / chia seeds / new protein powder in a smoothie and my bowels are too happy

Personally it has taken me a lot of trial and error in regards to what and how much too eat before I teach a yoga class, but this also applies to all forms of movement, running, swimming, dancing etc.

The fundamental rule is one that I practise and is what I was taught by my previous teachers: don’t eat at least two hours prior to a yoga class. The same goes for meditation and pranayama.

Why?? Because you are folding your body, twisting and inverting, even in down dog. The body’s digestive capabilities are hindered. So you are then most likely to feel very uncomfortable in the abdominal area, build up gas and may feel nauseous or even experience cramping.

It takes mindfulness in preparing and eating food, as well as timing.Listening to your body will help with over indulgence or under eating.

Our mind can sabotage us. So stop, take a few deep breaths and feel.
Place your hand on your abdomen.
What do you need?
Observe
Breathe.

Support your health journey.

If trying new foods, add the minimum of quantity suggested. For example, if you’re adding spirulina powder for a Green smoothie, if the recipe says a teaspoon, opt for half of that quantity and see how you feel! (especially for yogis with IBS).

If you’re going to change your foundations of eating (for example, become a vegetarian, vegan, raw food advocate), talk to people, or research associations such as Vegan Australia. They have a range of scheduled activities that will teach you what you need.
Ease yourself into it, and observe how your body responds. Do it with care and give your body time to adjust. Be kind with change and enjoy the transition.

And keep in mind that extreme eating plans are dangerous and can lead to eating disorders.

A variety of foods is a strong foundation for vitality and health. If you do not eat enough you have no energy. Food does not need to be complicated. It’s a blessing, so stop fighting with it!

And remember, what works for one yogi may not be suitable for you.

 

This will be the first of many blogs about food from me.
😉

Namaste,
Eleni

xx

It started with Madonna

Yoga was not an initial love experience for myself. I don’t believe I was too great at it. I tried so hard and I’m sure I pulled a few muscles along the way!
It eventually became my Saturday morning ritual for a solid two year frame at Yoga Synergy. I was 25 years old.
Who influenced me??? (This is prior to Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram)
MADONNA!!!
She was a fit creature that I identified with. At that period of my life I was teaching a gazillion aerobic and step classes as well as running corporate classes at State Parliament on Macquarie Street.
To me, Madonna was talent, beauty, assertiveness, and her image was always shifting. You could never be bored. She was a Yoga Goddess of Flexibility. She looked so serene in so many exquisite postures. An exotic creation.
Once I jumped off the Madonna starting block, I increased my practise, finding yoga nurtured my soul in a whirlwind of major life transitions and challenges: getting divorced, selling my home, moving house, and losing a business that I had established with Mum over 14 years (long story, the airport authorities wanted the space and 14 days notice was given). My anorexia started creeping back and so did my exercise obsessiveness.
Yoga was there.
I became passionate about the practise as well as the philosophy. It spoke to me. It changed my life. It steered me to starting an apprentiship with my late dear teacher Acharya Upendra Roy, and I continued my Yoga Teacher training with him. I have met such amazing teachers along the way, it’s a total discovery of adventure.
Hopefully if you are reading this, you are giving yourself a high five for scheduling your next yoga session. Or to start, or to reengage with your yoga ritual if you have had a brief hiatus.
The best advice i can give you is don’t wait. Don’t wait for the following to happen:
  1. To lose weight before you start yoga
  2. To have more time.
  3. For kids to go to school. Or get older …..
Yoga is for everyone. Now.
You do not need to be fit to do yoga
You do not need to be an ex-athlete or personal trainer
You do not have to be rich.
You do not have to be beautiful.
You do not need expensive workout gear and accessories.
You could be of any ethnic background or religion.
I may be the teacher for you or I may not.
Searching, practising, experience with an open heart, honesty and passion.
See you on your mat somewhere, sometime.
xxx
Eleni