Archive for June, 2017

At The Bluebarn with Lucy Scott- Day 5 Finishing Friday

June 30, 2017


Last day of a fab week with Lucy. We started once Bijou the Siamese cat had vacated my mat, cats always seem to know which human will be willing to play, belly rub and generally make them purr.

Today was the pinnacle for me, a few days have been a struggle, today was the longest, hardest, but also the strongest, bindiest (is that a word?) and bendiest.

I had asked Lucy a question about the dizziness I get when I come up from Prasarita C, having to wait for the world to stop moving before I can move on. She deduced that for me, it’s a combo of low blood pressure and the neck crushing tendency I have on the left side, a protective pattern I have introduced since the accident, so particularly when I’m adjusted in C the left shoulder is higher cutting off blood flow. The answer is thinking of spreading the shoulders more and even while being adjusted to think of sending the shoulders downwards. She then had us do some really interesting exercises with the clavicle bones to show us how they move when we do different movements. Anatomy taught like this is fascinating.

We have done so much this week, some of it aimed at all of us, but mostly it’s been individual assessment and assistance to help each particular body in the room. I need to write down a list of the postures,then try and remember what Lucy has told me about each one, because I have no doubt when I see her in August she will be looking at how I’ve got on.

We did 2 lots of Pranayama , the extending the breath and then the alternate nostril breathing, though alternating the side on each breath, rather than the 5 one side, then swap as H taught us.

And on to practice, more reminders to spread my non spreading sacrum. Wider stance in Parsva B, though it makes me feel unstable. Then when I get to Prasarita C a fantastic adjustment trying to iron out the dizzy ness inducing tendencies of neck scrunching and left shoulder hunching and protecting. A deeper squat in Utkatasana .

The Marichyasana’s have all got deeper this week, finding space in the twist before going for the bind, doing them on my own then repeating them with assistance, it’s physically hard, with all the repeating of postures, it’s like doing 1 & 1/2 practices.

Supta K Lucy waited for me to get bound on my own, then bound my foot cross tighter and got me up in to Dwi Pada, then Titibhasana and Bakhasana , phew wheeh, Gemma opposite actually clapped, not a phenomenon I get at AYL or from the Peanut Gallery at the local Shala!

Garbha I’d got my arms through far enough to keep them on my head as Lucy spun me around, telling me to keep my hands on my head, don’t let go!

Supta Padang, as with UHP I need to keep the stretched leg straighter.

My bum balance entry method no longer comes up to Lucy’s expectations, so it’s lay down flat then come up and over with straight legs, find the toes or feet, inhale up, point toes.

A few of Lucy’s additions I can do at home, get away with at the local Shala, but AYL doesn’t have a toy cupboard and will be the true test of what benefit the playing around has brought to those postures. Salabhasana with a block, Bhekasana and Dhanurasana with the bolster.

Today’s lesson in Parsva Dhanurasana, trying to counter intuitively straighten the legs to get a better bend. Lucy like Dena is technically excellent, helping you find ways of doing postures that you would think are the complete opposite of what you need to do.

Ustrasana my feet are coming in too much and touching, they need to stay hip width as do the hips which have the opposite tendency to the feet and like to spread as I go back. 3 goes at Ustrasana later and it’s time for her new Laghu Vaj addition. Like yesterday I tried on my own then Lucy took me to the floor and back, as I got back to the top she had to tell me to breathe!

It’s at points like that where I usually stop for a few breaths, but Lucy said I need to do the Vinyasa, even if it’s slow, but to keep moving.

The one surprise this week has been backbends, all about Urdva Dhanurasana and not a dropback all week, though after all the extra UD work that included using the window sill today I’m spent, I don’t think my legs would be capable of controlling a dropback after all that.

Only 2 of us still going by this point, Lucy assists my final closing postures and produces one final miracle, in Baddha Padmasana somehow she manages to get me to grab both sets of toes at the same time, I’ve never come close to that before.

Savasana isn’t hurried, after a very long physical practice, over 2.5hrs, Lucy talks us in to relaxation then brings us back to the present to chant one final time, I still can’t remember verse two, well apart from the 3rd line “Loksha Kalyana samriri rasdu”.

What a great week, so much assistance and information, so much to work on. We all struggled with something and came through together, we all had little break throughs. We all left smiling and happy, I just hope someone in next weeks group is another buddy for Bijou the cat.


At The Bluebarn with Lucy Scott- Day 4 Flying Thursday

June 29, 2017


Something different today, instead of philosophy Lucy started with talking to us about Sacral cranial “Midlines”, she touched on it the other day in the short Dharana, but today she expanded on it. How all the Midlines are encased and enclose each other.

1st Midline is the Quantum or yogic midline, akin to Shushumna. Guruji said no weight in the head in headstand until the end of 2nd series, until this nadi is clear and can take the pressure.

2nd Midline is the Embryological or Primal midline, the fountain spray of life. Both of the first 2 Midlines are ever present.

3rd Midline is the CNS midline – the brain and spinal cord, supported by spinal fluid which is renewed every day.

4th Midline is the spine and the cranium. There to support, nourish and protect.

I have to admit I find this quite hard to get my head round, but it’s a fascinating way to think of the body in terms more than skin, blood and bone.

We then did a short Pranayama extending the breath from a 5 count inhale and exhale to 10, I find exhaling much easier to regulate, but it’s a nice way to bring energy in to the body after sitting for a while.


My practice has definitely come along this week, my lazy postures are being spotted. As well as the extra curricular stuff Lucy is tidying up my postures, every day another little layer of work has been added. Today it’s jumping up and back in the vinyasas rather than stepping. Having me work much harder in the Marichyasana’s, not only how I enter them to make them deeper, but today Lucy started me on trying to jump back out of them, rather than untangle my legs before I jump back. She said it will help to even up my shoulders and make me engage Bandha more. All these little extras that perhaps I should have already been doing add up to quite a lot of extra work.

Pasasana has definitely improved this week, especially the first side where I’ve gone from on a good day being able to grab one finger and hang on, to today finding 3 fingers and finding some lift in my calf muscles. She had me do all the Marichyasana’s and Pasasana on my own today, then had me do all of them again with her assisting. The 2nd series help has been so good, Dhanurasana and Ustrasana today, much deeper with her assists. And just when I think Ustrasana is my last pose, she says “do Laghu Vajrasana”. She did deeply assist it to allow me to go all the way back. But I was truly a spent force after that.

(Photo Laura) stool and wheel combo.

Of course all that was followed by the backbends, UD off the floor, over wheels, over wheels on stools, but it does open the upper back so that when you eventually do another UD off the ground it feels a lot easier.

That’s 4 days gone already, one more to go. If I can remember half of this once I’m back to home alone practice. I can’t remember ever learning so much about the practice I already thought I had.

Alas the weather is abysmal, it’s been raining solidly for 2 days, though I did manage to have a rainy wander around Mousehole.


At The Bluebarn with Lucy Scott- Day 3 Wicked Wednesday!

June 28, 2017


At The Bluebarn with Lucy Scott- Day 3 Wicked Wednesday!

Ha ha wicked Wednesday, the half way point. At least I get to play with Lucy’s lovely Siamese cats before we head upstairs. It’s another day of Yamas beginning with Asteya-non stealing. Usually in Yoga we think of non stealing in the literal term of taking something from someone else or perhaps stealing or adding a posture that we haven’t been given. But Lucy took a deeper meaning of why we would steal, in that it comes from an emptiness within, of insecurity, of not being good enough. Not being kind to ourselves.

Lucy talked about Raga, being the clinging to pleasurable experiences, not accepting that one day you may be able to do a posture (relatively) easily and some days it’s not happening. Dvesa, the aversion or avoidance of suffering. She described Brahmacharya as the right use of energy, to use energy to try and get closer to Brahma or god.

Aprarigraha – Non hoarding, not taking or having too much that another person may need. In a yoga context doing the actions or asana without being attached to the result, do the practice, it is what it is.

Paranamavada – Everything in the universe is in a constant state of flux.

Before we began the physical practice Lucy led a kind of somatic meditation, listening to the cells in our body, trying to imagine the fluid moving through the spine from it’s reservoir near the sacrum. This is new for me at least and is a different kind of Dharana practice to any I’ve done before.

Practice was one of those days, my body was tighter than yesterday and felt heavy, on a day when I was hoping to plod through Lucy suddenly wanted my practice to be more dynamic, jumping instead of stepping, thud…no Bandha , no sense of lightness. She is giving my left arm a wonderful stretching every day in Trikonasana, working around my shoulder to help the stuckness.

All the Marichyasana poses got assisted today, not that it ever feels too much with Lucy, finding my wrist in C and D is not something that happens often, but it appears that when it doesn’t happen it’s because the arm that goes round the knee isn’t high enough on the leg.

Supta K first go on my own bound and ok exit, just when you think you are safe to move on it’s “Kevin do that again from Sapta“, as in don’t spend time forward bending and wriggling before sitting down, but jump the legs round the arms and go down, “Ashto” do the pose, um ye right in my dreams, so I’m in it and she’s laughing about it being my favourite pose, well ye ok I do enjoy it, so now it’s time to exit, lift up in to Titibhasana , but instead of attempting to move one leg at a time in to Bakhasana she wants me to do both legs at the same time, this is harder mentally than physically, brain won’t compute, computer says no. But when I don’t have to do the thinking, ie when Lucy instructs me to do it, suddenly I can do it, she’s taken over my minds control of my body. It certainly adds an extra fun dimension to Supta K.

Apart from Pasasana and having me use a block for Krounchasana, less 2nd series assistance today, still doing Dhanurasana three times with the bolster.

I managed a quick 5 Urdva Dhanurasana before I catch the stool and wheel come in to view. If I can get the wheel in the right place it feels nice, though I need to come up really slowly. Then another version with the bolster on the stool and a really deeply assisted backbend trying to ground the feet and hands in an Urdva Dhanurasana. Man did I need that squashing!

Closing without mishaps, probably because I didn’t actually do Sirsasana. One point she made was that Guruji used to make them lay down, but still engaging the body before rising up in to shoulderstand, it makes a difference, but this seems to be missing now from the way practice is now taught. However long the practice and however late we finish, Lucy insists on us taking a good Savasana.

The weather was dire today, I was hoping for some of last weeks sunshine, but it’s not to be. No sightseeing today, instead a wicked Wednesday sports therapy massage. With luck a flying Thursday.


At The Bluewater Barn with Lucy Scott – Day 2

June 27, 2017


Lucy began today with what ended up being a long talk and discussion about the 8 limbs starting with Ahimsa in the Yamas. It’s a wide subject encompassing non violence to others, which really begins with non violence to ourselves and leads in to vegetarianism etc. she then moved on to the 2nd Yama, Satya, Truth, being true to ourselves in the practice, true to others off the mat, but also learning when to know that telling a truth to another may be harmful.

Following the talk it was time to practice, which turned out to be a very long practice. Padahastasana again being told to spread my sacrum to give my lower back space, but how do you “spread” your sacrum, you kind of send the message more in hope than expectation, then Lucy comes along and adjusts and suddenly from somewhere there is space and movement.

The practice is long because at Lucy Land she has extra curricular ways of opening you up! In UHP she has my foot on the window sill like in a ballet class, I had no idea my leg could get that high.

When 5 is a perfect number

She makes me repeat Paschimottanasana so she can adjust it and the same with Mari C, then again the first side of D to stop my bum raising, lifting, twisting binding manoeuvre. There is no way I could bind fully sitting without help on the first side.
Supta K assist today, though she leaves me to exit without raising my feet, I’m so used to a teacher lifting my feet it took a few seconds to realise she had gone and that she expected me to do it on my own, Titibhasana was ok but lost, crashed the Bakhasana today.

For those who can do Gharba she makes you get the arms way further through with the aid of washing up liquid in the water spray bottle, zip zip and your hands easily reach your head. Makes me laugh when I remember a Russian girl who used to have a quick swig of water from the bottle in Gharba, now that would be funny!

My little bit of 2nd series has never had this much attention. Pasasana and Krounchasana, though Krounch is still a bit difficult on the 2nd side with the knee issue. Salabhasana on my own, then assisted Bhekasana over a Bolster to make the chest lift, followed by 3 goes at Dhanurasana over the Bolster at legs and ribs level and finally on the mat. It’s no wonder it’s a long practice, though at Lucy Land there is no rush, there is no 2nd group waiting for the spaces. Parsva Dhanuarasana and Ustrasana on my own, suddenly rolling over on to the second side of Parsva has got easier, having lateral space does help.

My back thing was happier today, Urdva Dhanuarasana alone before Lucy adds in a new opener, wheel on top of stool, the wheel is blocked to stop it moving, first she presses down on my legs, then has me interlock my thumbs over head and stretches me over the wheel. Then she removes the stool and it’s Kapotasana over the wheel, though my left hand has trouble reaching to grip, so I’m a bit uneven, but it works. Just when you think it’s over she takes the wheel away and has you do a other UD, which suddenly feels much deeper and more comfortable than the first one.

Closing was um, how can I put this, um “interesting”, it was fine until I got to headstand, where I tried to repeat what she had me do yesterday, which was to go up and use the slope of the ceiling, pushing with my toes. Well up I went and whoooomph over I flew straight in to the wooden window blinds, breaking 3 with somehow not managing to go through the glass window or shred my foot, just when you think it’s going well.

I didn’t know my foot could get that high! UHP

Apart from the headstand mishap it had been a nice practice. Lucy insists on everyone taking a decent rest, none of this 5mins and outta there, so when we finally came out of our cocoon blankets it was 2pm. I had no idea just how long practice had taken.

Lovely unexpected trip to St Michaels Mount.

I’d had a plan to visit Lands End on the open top bus today after practice, but the late finish and rainy weather made me abandon that plan. Instead I was wandering vaguely towards town when Gemma , one of the 5 yogis pulled up and asked if I wanted a lift anywhere, as we headed in to town she suggested she drop me at Marazion so I could visit St Michaels Mount. Thanks Gemma that was a wonderful plan and I spent a lovely afternoon having lunch and exploring the castle, making sure to cross back over the causeway to the mainland before the tide came in.


Knowledge is a rumour!

June 26, 2017

“Knowledge is a rumour” was one of the first things Lucy told us this morning, our first morning of practice at her Barn in deepest Cornwall. It’s a rumour until it becomes a fact, when you body knows and feels it to be true.

“Asana” she said, is the relationship between your body, space and the ground.

The practice room is compact and cosy, you could probably get 8 mats in there, but 5 of us seems a perfect number, room to move, space for the fun poses without having to worry about what the neighbours are doing.

Her memory of people body’s is amazing and with so few students she is able to work more on those places where we have pain, restrictions , tightness. My “thing” in the left side of my lower back that drives me nuts, she’s on a mission that began in Padahastasana trying to get me to think of spreading the sacrum and Illium to give length and space in my lower back, followed by Trikonasana to level up my hips. As she adjusts she explains why she’s doing something, I had no idea my hips are so un level, maybe L sees it and corrects it as she adjusts it on a Sunday, but nobody has ever actually told me.

Out of the 5 of us, 2 people were new to Lucy, she watched them more than adjusted, which meant the 3 of us she has worked with before got a LOT of attention, must have been why her husband shouted out “good luck” as we ascended the stairs! As Lucy said developing trust between a teacher and student takes time, to be confident in going with an adjustment, rather than tense against it, Lucy’s adjustments can be deeeeeeep, but like with Louise I trust Lucy implicitly.

With so much physical help and verbal advice and instruction I find it hard to keep the flow and my mind is more active trying to take in what she tells me, I’m not in my own fuzzy zone of plodding through in relative silence contemplating croissants, oh and there’s no Pret in Penzance by the way. đŸ˜¦

I knew she would be on me again for my lift up Marichy D entry on the first side, she wants my bum to stay on the floor, once I’m bound I can lower down anyway, but my left shoulder finds it impossible to get round the knee without lifting. Supta K is always fun, I heard Lucy say something about “this is a nice posture” without realising she was referring to me as she lifted my feet for the Titibhasana exit, then counted me in to Bakhasana, I almost made the count until my legs slid off, but someone clapped!

I was putting a half thick block under my heals for Pasasana, I usually roll up my mat a-la AYL, but she said the block was too high, so Lucy rolled up my mat saying that was half the thickness of the block. Back to Plan A tomorrow.

Dhanurasana is where my back painfully gave in back in February when I last practised with Lucy, she remembered and had me do it 3 times, twice with a bolster, first under my legs, then under my Ribs and then a proper one on the floor. Parsva D and Ustrasana left alone, though she was pleased I had been given these last 2, Ustrasana is still quite new, but I can feel it helping my upper back.

The niggling thing painfully returned for Urdva Dhanurasana, even after Lucy had warmed me up over a long stool. She says the “thing”, whatever it is should have gone by now and has recommended a local Chiropractor whom is said to do amazing things. I think being on a bus for 8 hours didn’t help, I was generally stiff,so hopefully tomorrow will be easier.

The shape of the Barn roof means you can push your toes in to the wooden ceiling in headstand!

I refuse to believe the correlation!

June 18, 2017

I refuse to believe the correlation!

A couple of weeks ago I was munching my Gluten, sugar and salt free Aldi breakfast granola, when I crunched down on a harder than usual cluster and shattered one front tooth completely and broke 25% off the side of it’s neighbour! a clusterfuck if ever I felt one. This has resulted in a massive dental bill and multiple painful visits to Dorota the nice polish Dentist.

Since the dental clusterfuck I’ve desisted, it’s been a struggle, from my favourite cookies and the slabs of white chocolate that usually help get me through the working week, as Dorota said the temporary crown is ” for smiling, not for eating!”, which has resulted in a soft diet, so glad croissants are soft, this healthy eating business is clearly over rated, not to mention bloody expensive.

The upshot of this suddenly enforced diet is a sudden realization that the first side of Pasasana has got much easier to bind, I’ve always been able to bind the 2nd side, so was I carrying extra pounds on the first side, is a cookie and chocolate free diet the secret to Pasasana? It hasn’t made backbends any easier of late, now if it had I would almost be tempted to give up chocolate a while longer, but I won’t be giving up chocolate in the pursuit of Pasasana, that’s for sure!

Along with the teeth issue I stepped back off a step stool while cutting the hedge in the front garden last week and did “something” to my left knee, I couldn’t walk the next day, I actually fell over when I got up and tried to bend it. Slathered in a combo of Rumalaya and Tiger Balm it’s improved, I can walk and do most of practice , though Tiriang Mukha and Krounchasana are impossible and lotus poses are non binding.

Hopefully by the end of this week I’ll have a new tooth crown and a functioning left knee, just in time for my week in Cornwall with Lucy Scott.

AYL conference

June 4, 2017


Today’s conference at AYL came just 12 hours or so after the previous evenings terrorist outrage that took 7 innocent lives and injured many more. London seemed to have a quietness to it this morning and a very understandable underlying tension with the heavy police presence at the nearby station.

It was a good day for the AYL community to come together.

To begin with Hamish asked us to sit in silence for a few minutes, to think of those caught up in last nights events and those further north 10 days ago. He then talked about the Buddhist story of Angulimala, who went around killing people to chop their fingers off to wear as a Mala. The point being that it’s usually impossible to fight fire with fire and that there has to be some kind of alternative engagement, as the Buddha engaged Angulimala and led him away from the road of violence, as H also added he wouldn’t advocate running up to a terrorist ourselves.

Hamish then talked about 3 parts that yoga is about, Intentions, technique and love.

Intentions– you get out as much as you are prepared to put in. Yoga is always on our minds, we arrange our lives around it, we bore our non yoga friends to death about it.

Technique– refinement of your practice, subtle changes you notice and make over years of repeating the same postures day after day.

Love-your natural state. Neither be lazy or push too hard in your practice , find the balance, be happy with where you are. It’s about the connections we have with the yoga community and family beyond.

Part of finding this balance and love is to be able to fill the void in your heart he termed the “hole of unhappiness”. We all have this hole, as he has begun to notice in his own daughter it begins around the age of 10, when children start to understand more about the world around them and see that the world isn’t perfect and start to ask questions about life.

Hamish talked about the visitors who come to AYL for a week, a few days or even a day, how they go away saying they had a great time, enjoyed the energy and being within. He wants them to have something simple to take away to remember the shala by, not a sticker, he laughingly said! Instead he has written Yoga KarunĂ¥
KarunĂ¥ means compassion, this should guide how we practice, how we live and how we teach and he’s planning to make it available. He read it out to us, part if it said

Yoga is a gift

Have compassion
Breath well
Keep it simple

Hamish has a way of lightening the atmosphere, he often tells it like it is with a sense of humour, so when someone asked in the Q&A about how being a yogi may affect our political views he told us he didn’t used to vote, but now feels it’s important to do so, though he puts his “x” where Anna tells him to!