Aug 01 2016

Yoga @ The Fringe

Welcome to the Edinburgh Fringe 2016! Another year of hope and hustle. Keep your cool, re-energise, hide away and close your eyes for an hour a day….Yoga @ The Fringe offers a daily morning class 9-10am during August 6-25 at Venue 201, T (Tank) Bar, 235 Cowgate. Right in the heart of the city! Breathe to banish stage fright, stretch to re-engergise and release tension with a deep relaxation; all giving you the stamina to last the month of August. Mats are provided. Please book beforehand, but drop ins welcome if there’s space. Call Lisa on 07429 540849 or through                         Take an hour to smell the flowers   Come and try some Sivananda Yoga postures to re-energise and give yourself some stamina and peace

Oct 11 2013

Feel the fear and come to class anyway

I’m really looking forward to welcoming some new, curious students at my upcoming beginners’ workshops over the next two weekends. St.Margaret’s House in Meadowbank is having an Open Week from the 12-21 October and it’s great fun to be part of all the amazing activities including art exhibitions,  crafts, music and dance that are going to be on display to the general public. I am always amazed how a forbidding ugly looking building like this hides a buzzing hub of colour and creativity on the inside. 6 floors of artists’ studios, art exhibitions, theatre, Zumba, belly dance, burlesque, judo, massage, self-help groups,  craft workshops etc. etc. The variety of activities on offer seem to be growing all the time. I’m happy to be getting enquiries from people who openly admit to being nervous and intimidated by coming to a class. When I first went to meditation lessons in a group I felt exactly the same way but wouldn’t dream of admitting it to anyone. I wanted to do everything perfectly, and was ashamed about not being able to relax! Needless to say, it didn’t help much. I almost quit as the anxiety I felt about ‘not being able to relax fully’ was getting too much for me. I’d created this whole idea about who I thought I ‘should’ be, and be able to do and it took an honest conversation with a friend to let go of the idea and give it another go. Learning to accept whatever I felt meant that I wasn’t ashamed of it, or fighting it, or wanting it to be any different from exploring and noticing what was there, without any judgement. It took a few years to really start to understand how this works. Accepting it is not the same as not wanting to progress or to give up trying. You hear this again and again from spiritual teachers – it is only by accepting where you are at that you can begin to change it. It is a seeming paradox that I struggled with for a long time. What on earth were they talking about? Acceptance can only happen when you extend a sense of kindness and compassion to yourself. When you accept something – a feeling, a thought that you have – then you can allow yourself to experience it without creating a wall of resistance, denial or avoidance. And then it goes away. As one of my first meditation teachers used to say, likening your endless stream of ever so important thoughts, one incessantly leading to another, to noisy cats; ‘don’t feed the cats just because they are miaowing, as they will just come around and miaow some more. That is not the way to quieten them down. Ignore them enough and they will learn to go away’. So it is in this spirit that I welcome all newcomers to my beginners’ workshops this and next weekend in Studio 6.17 at 12-1 on both Saturdays and Sundays. I welcome you to an atmosphere that is free of judgement, competitiveness or stress. This is about learning to manage your stress as we all get stressed. This is about treating yourself well, as we all need to treat ourselves well. This is about starting to understand your habits and your self-concepts. This is about quietening down enough to notice what is there inside your mind and body. And if you find your body doesn’t do what you want it to do, or what you think it should do, and if during relaxation your mind is like a busy intersection of thoughts with horns blaring and drivers with road rage, or a very very long, frustrating traffic jam, that’s OK too. We’ve all been there. Or your thoughts might seem like miaows from a cute but annoying little cat that is begging for attention, because every time it miaows you reward it with attention or food. It will live if you ignore it for a bit. And become much less annoying. If you don’t know what on earth I’m talking about now, trust me. Just show up on the mat enough times, and you will. Eventually. How ever long that takes.

Feb 09 2013

Return of the Light – a toast to Imbolc!

Light is returning. As most of us brush off our Christmas and New Year indulgence and sloth, and reluctantly struggle not just to fit into our work clothes, but our slower selves into industrial rhythms again, it’s good to feel even a gentle ray of sunshine on the old face once more. So many people I’ve been speaking to, as well as myself,  look back on 2012 as a year of massive upheaval and change in all sorts of unexpected ways. There’s a lot of hope that 2013 is going to be better. 2012 was quite a roller-coaster for me, to say the least, so this year the focus is on developing inner happiness, stability, acceptance of the good and bad in life and my own being..all of which dedication to a regular yoga practice conveniently helps with! A visitor to Edinburgh from Seattle suggested that 2013 would be a year of cleansing. I need to remember this every day. I arrived back in the UK with just one suitcase, having shed all other possessions, so it’s scary to see how quickly the clutter is accumulating again. One day perhaps, I might be like Gandhi or Einstein and not be like a magpie collecting shiny little objects for my nest, that will just clutter my house and my brain all over again. Cleansing negative and self-sabotaging thoughts and behaviours would be good too, but that takes more patience and persistence..and faith that it’s both possible and worth doing. Cleansing of course, is a natural inclination after the Christmas period. It’s great when you naturally reach for a piece of broccoli because you actually prefer it to some foul radioactive-looking sweet left over from a child’s stocking!   The ancient festival of Imbolc (pr.Imolc)  just came around on February 1st-2nd. Most people have never heard of it – its memory has been overshadowed by the equally ancient festivals of Yule and Hallowe’en. The poor forgotten Imbolc is also a special time, where traditionally people began to welcome the return of the light after the darkness of winter. It’s a time when the cold earth becomes warmer and more pliable. Those of you who’ve seen the movie Groundhog Day with Bill Murray might know that there is a vestige of this celebration left in North America. It may have been influenced by traditions  from Ireland and Scotland, as well as Germany, as the traditions here lasted longer than in most places. In Ireland, Imbolc became incorporated into the Christian celebration of St.Brighid’s Day, where girls made a ‘biddy’, an effigy of St.Brighid to parade around houses in the community, and receive food from families. In the Highlands of Scotland, the young women of the community went around with a figurine, collected food from all the homes with which to hold an all-night extravaganza of feasting, singing and dancing. Exactly what you need to get you through a potentially grim February. Just like with Groundhog Day, Gaelic legend has it that if Imbolc is sunny the winter’s going to last a was a beautiful day, so we’ll see! My son is still longing to play in ‘proper snow’, so maybe he had a quiet word with the Cailleach, the divine hag of Gaelic tradition…who becomes reborn into the young maiden at this time of year, and will try anything to make her winter last as long as possible…to make sure it was sunny on the 2nd February. By this time, hopefully we are all becoming more outward facing, optimistic and productive. Here’s an old Candlemas carol that expresses this tradition: Christmas hath made an end,              Well-a-day! well-a-day!               Which was my dearest friend,               More is the pity!               For with an heavy heart               Must I from thee depart,               To follow plough and cart               All the year after.   The message is “hold on, there is hope…the bitter days of winter are near their end..” A wonderful article in the Huffington Post brings this idea of hope to a personal, psychological issues. Here’s the link: It was the perfect day to hold my first workshop in Scotland, with the help of my yoga student and friend, Marge Mather, who is a long-time mindfulness meditation student and teacher. We had a small group, but, in the way that these things tend to naturally go, there were many points of connection between the participants which boosted the general feeling of well-being. Apparently Imbolc is a traditional ‘women’s day’ amongst Wiccans, and the time for initiations into groups for spiritual practice.  Everyone gracefully excused my slightly croaky voice delivering the opening chant – thanks, ladies – the chant that I never have time to do in a normal class.  Some of you might be glad of the usual time restraint! We could actually feel the rays of sunshine on our skin as we performed the Surya Namaskar (Salute to the Sun). After yoga class, we had a tea break; once we’d shared our Yogi Tea amongst us in delicate china cups we were ready to hear about the importance of mindfulness in our everyday life – from remembering to lock the front door in the morning to noticing our incessant flow of thoughts without judgement. Marge led us through two meditations, which everyone related to in personal ways and found very useful,including me. Thanks, Marge! We just had time to chat briefly about the 8 limbs of yoga, beginning with yamas (the moral restraints of non-violence, truthfulness in word, thought and deed, non-stealing, moderation in all things, and non-possessiveness) and niyamas (the positive qualities of purity, contentment, austerity, study of sacred or inspiring texts, and living with an awareness of the Divine, in what ever personal form that takes) which form the basis of a yogic lifestyle. None of these things are easy to follow to the letter: but rather than letting them seem like a looming set of burdens impossible to achieve; rather remember they’re a result of thousands of years of  trial and error, intuition and accumulated wisdom in facing the perennial human condition. They’ve been handed down to use – like an intricate map of a well-trodden path towards peace and happiness. The joy of it is that any small, sincere effort towards any of them reaps massive rewards. Lunch was delicious – thanks to Jon and Rachel and staff at Just the Ticket. Everything was cooked along yogic nutritional guidelines – vegetarian and well-balanced – to aid one’s yoga practice and physical and emotional equilibrium. We had corn bread with split pea soup, and a wonderful array of rice and salads; topped off with incredibly moist carrot cake with herbal tea. Everyone was slightly reluctant to leave, I think – so we’re going to do it again on the 2nd March. Come along, and bring a friend to add to the amazing mix of personalities and nationalities whom I’ve been privileged to meet and teach since my arrival in Edinburgh… Namaste Lisa