Posted by: assuntina | December 16, 2015

Christmas break- see you in 2016

Both my classes have now finished for 2015.  The last Wednesday morning class was today.  In honour of it being the last class and the busy season, we did some gentle restorative relaxation for the final 25 minutes using bolsters, blocks, blankets and eye covers to create a totally restful and peaceful space.  My students lay in supported cobbler pose focusing on the outbreath and allowing their bodies to melt into the support.  Sometimes,  deep relaxation of only 20 minutes can keep you going for hours after.  If you feel yourself getting stressed during the next couple of weeks, stick on a relaxation CD or find something you like on your phone, put your ear plugs in, cover up your eyes and lock the door for 10 minutes.  Or if you find that stillness doesn’t help, do a few gentle rounds of Sun Salute then sit quietly for 3 minutes watching your breath.

January’s classes start on Wednesday 6th. 

A reminder that the Monday evening class has now moved to Wednesday evenings, times still 6pm til 7.15pm.  Various students have moved out the area or transferred to my day time class so we have lots of spaces.

If you’d like to come along to this class, please let me know.  And do let other people know too.

In the meantime, feel the ground under your feet and the chair under your bottom moving upwards to support you.  Let gravity help you.

Many thanks and here’s hoping you all have a lovely Christmas break and get some good rest amongst all the festivities.

Posted by: assuntina | December 2, 2015

Christmas is on it’s way

And unless I practise regularly at this time of year, I can feel my joints starting to stiffen, especially my hips.  I started going to yoga classes in my late 20s on my doctor’s advice: I had problem hips and would sometimes be trapped in a cross legged position.  Not sure what that was all about, but one of life’s irritating gifts in my genes somewhere.  As long as I maintain a regular yoga practice, my hips are generally fine but as soon as I stop, I will find myself getting up from a chair or the floor and hobbling like an old lady for a few moments until they settle down again.  Winter is obviously much worse for me in this respect, and so there is a great focus on hip openers both in my personal practice and also in my teaching.  So in class we are doing among others, seated twists, cow face, and the preparation for king pigeon pose regularly. The last pose in particular is felt deep in the glutes/hips and although can be tough, it is also surprisingly satisfying to stretch and let go into.  It’s one of those poses where you have to surrender into the discomfort, stop fighting it, and gently let it wash over you.  A bit like Christmas in a way.

Posted by: assuntina | April 8, 2011

Easter break

All classes have now stopped for the Easter break and will resume the week immediately after:

Wed 27th April Hollingbury Community Centre,

Ffriday 6th April Patcham Community Centre

Monday 9th Dharma School

Posted by: assuntina | December 10, 2010


I am just about to start a new job.  I’m not giving up the yoga teaching, it’s more that Ill be incorporating back into my life, the community work that I used to do before I became a yoga teacher.  I gave it up when my boy started school and I turned to yoga as a profession as I knew it would give me flexibility not just in my mind and body but also in my family life.  It meant I could stay at home more and look after my family.  But now my son is in secondary school and I miss the community work despite how much I love yoga. 

To get myself back into the field, I started volunteering recently and as part of that just today I was in my local park where a group of mums came together to fundraise to do up the park which had become grotty and unloved.  These women are inspirational; with support from a community worker they found nearly one hundred thousand pounds and the park is slowly transforming into something with life and zest.  Today we were planting tiny trees, over a hundred of them, donated to us by the Woodland Trust, another inspirational body who promote the planting and loving of trees.  The weather was vile, pouring rain, and our hands were covered with mud; somehow even my face was covered in mud by the time we got home, but there were plenty of us there and we did it within a couple of hours. Despite the weather, the feeling was of satisfaction and achievement, and making a difference.  These are gloomy times, but days like today remind me that there is much to be inspired by if only I can be bothered to think that way.

My life is going to become busier with a new job and I’ll need to maintain balance in it so that I don’t end up driving myself crazy with the juggling of it all.  At this point though, all I feel is excited about the new possibilities opening up in front of me.

Posted by: assuntina | October 28, 2010

playful yoga

Here’s a lovely short clip I found a while back and emailed round to students.  This yogini has a playful style of practising which is fun and inspiring to watch, showing us that it’s possible to practise postures without becoming tense and rigid, which is what we tend to do when we feel uncomfortable and weak.  Take a quick look here and be inspired.

Posted by: assuntina | February 17, 2010

Shoulder Stand and the Lymphatic System

Last Thursday in the Patcham class I realised that although I’m aware of the general benefits of Sarvangasana or the Shoulder Stand, there is one of them that I don’t fully understand.  In particular I had read a few months ago how this posture aids lymphatic drainage, which I know is good for supporting the immune system (and therefore a good pose to practice at this time of year when lots of colds and flu are still going round) but I don’t really understand why.  So I said I would email round the article where I had read about this.  Of course, the internet being the maze it is, now I can’t find the article, but it has prompted me to look it up properly and research it a bit more.

Problems with the lymphatic system make it harder for the body to fight infection and defend itself against germs like viruses, bacteria, and fungi that can cause illnesses. Those germs get filtered out in the lymph nodes, which is tissue along the network of lymph vessels where you find lymphocytes, a white blood cell. Some of those lymphocytes make antibodies that fight off germs and stop infections from spreading by trapping and destroying them.  I read somewhere that the lymphatic system is a bit like a sewage system, but I’m not keen on that analogy myself!  However you get the picture. At the end of the process, the veins under the collar bones take up whatever is left, so you can see how being upside down would help that along.

Lymph, like the blood returning to your heart via the veins, needs muscular movement and gravity to facilitate its return. Because the lymphatic system is a closed pressure system and has one-way valves that keep lymph moving towards the heart, when you turn upside down, the entire lymphatic system is stimulated, so strengthening your immune system.

 We’ve been working on shoulder stands in the Patcham class on Thursdays on and off since the beginning of autumn.  Shoulder stands or upside down poses (properly known as inversions) consist of head stands, shoulder stands, handstands etc and also anything where your head is lower than your heart.  We do plenty of downward dogs and standing forward bends in my classes and these also constitute inverted postures, but are not quite as powerful for giving the full benefits of an inversion. 

However, a full shoulder stand is not suitable for everyone *, and there is the alternative Legs up the Wall pose, or by its proper name Viparita Karani, a gentle and easy inversion that anyone can enjoy with no stress on the body at all.  Even better, at the Patcham community centre we have now acquired fabulous new velvet padded seats which are perfect for Viparita Karani or Legs on the Chair as we should now be calling it. This transforms the pose into a totally relaxing and blissful restorative pose, which as far as I’m concerned is perfect for this time of year.

*Not for you if you have unmedicated high blood pressure, neck problems, are pregnant or menstruating.

Posted by: assuntina | February 2, 2010

The beginning of the end of winter

Today, 2nd February is Imbolc, a very old and  pre-Christian festival celebrating the beginning of the end of the long winter and in rural days gone by, the first day the ewes would be milked again after their winter break.  In fact the word Imbolc is a derivation of ‘ewe’s milk’.  It’s also known as Candlemas or St Bridget’s day in the Christian church.  It is the time when new lambs start to appear, (well they are on The Archers), any minute now the snowdrops will appear, and pretty soon the crocuses pop up.  It’s a time of hope.

I like the idea of this festival, and I love the quality of Hope.  I used to find winter such a trial to get through, it  lasted endlessly and was  dreadfully dreary and downright depressing.  Especially hard as I used to get Seasonal Affective Disorder or winter depression. I think I’ve knocked my SAD on the head though now; what with yoga and the Buteyko breathing practise I do, my energy levels are pretty much ok now during winter.  However, it is still such a joy to know that winter is coming to an end and  seeing the light lingering a bit longer so that it’s daytime at 5pm is exciting, a fantastic sign of the spring to come.  It makes me feel more hopeful about life. 

Even though we can’t see it, under the ground the plants are getting ready to do their thing and the shoots on the trees are preparing to burst forth. Yet it’s still bitterly cold and often is at this time of year.  Imbolc gives us more light which is what triggers off plant and animal activity, but not more warmth so we still need to be on our guard a little. In some parts February used to be known as Wolf’s month, or the dead month because it was such an incredibly tough month to get through physically.  Whilst the worst we might be facing is the worry and tedium of Christmas debts and little to look forward to, (unless you’re a teenager in love and you can bank on a Valentine in the post), it’s still a tough time to get through emotionally.  In ancient times, people would still need to conserve their food for awhile longer until they could start to grow more, and the persistant cold could still carry off a few of the more vulnerable folk.  So it was important to have hope and the knowledge of something better to come.

To mark the occasion, I went for a cold walk with my good friend Sharon up to Hollingbury Fort where the gorse is already starting its nubbly little yellow flowers. We found a beautiful oak tree to commune with while some boisterous dogs ran round our legs curious as to what we were doing and the cold wind blew over the tops of the bare branches.  The oak tree was damp to the touch but still had a bit of inner warmth when I hugged it (yes, I admit it, I am a tree hugger) and it felt good to know that sooner or later that tree would put out vibrant green leaves.  I did a private meditation on Hope and Gratitude standing there feeling my feet on the ground in Mountain pose, my hand lightly resting on the tree trunk, feeling grateful to have got through another winter, and appreciating, despite everything,  just how much there is to appreciate in our beautiful world.

Posted by: assuntina | January 29, 2010

restorative yoga in Patcham

Restorative yoga mornings for 2010

These are predominantly restorative yoga sessions during which you will be given the chance to relax deeply using props and supports for your body. 

Restorative yoga is absolutely lovely and delicious, and  once you’ve experienced a class you will want to come back again and again for more.  If you find relaxing difficult then this is for you, and if you love to relax then this is also for you.  Most of all if you think relaxing involves tv and alcohol or chocolate this is definitely for you! 

Yoga relaxation is a real art and not what we normally associate as relaxing i.e. vegging  out in front of the telly (which I’m all for by the way) and what is does most helpfully is evoke the Relaxation Response and a state of deep rest, to counteract  the negative effects of stress and the ‘fight or flight’ response.

Unfortunately most of us are worn out because our bodies are constantly in a state of stress: all the running around we do, jobs, families, social lives and so so many choices putting us under a lot of pressure.  Or maybe I’m just speaking for myself but I don’t think so.

The relaxation response brings your system back into balance: deepening your breathing, reducing stress hormones, slowing down your heart rate and blood pressure, and relaxing your muscles.

In addition to its calming physical effects, research shows that the relaxation response also increases energy and focus, combats illness, relieves aches and pains, heightens problem-solving abilities, and boosts motivation and productivity. Best of all – with a little practice – anyone can reap these benefits.

But it won’t be all relaxing, we will also be doing some active posture work to prepare the body and warm it up, and there will be some meditation thrown in.  All in all, as one student once said, you’ll feel like you’ve been on a week’s holiday afterwards. If you’ve been coming regularly, or just tried it once and loved it, please give us a comment about it.

 The sessions are suitable for anyone of any ability including total beginners.  Here are the details:

Venue: Patcham Community Centre, Ladies Mile Road, BN1.

Times:  10am-1pm.

Cost: £15 for one session booked and paid for at a time; £14 each for two sessions booked and paid for at a time; £13 each for a three or more sessions booked and paid for at a time.

The mornings fill up fast and there are limited spaces so get in as soon as possible.

Sunday 31st January

Sunday 21st March

Sunday 25th April

Saturday 12th June

Saturday 25th September

Saturday 30th October

Saturday 27thth November

Posted by: assuntina | August 28, 2008

Good, bad, and the way it is

Looking out of my window onto the misty downs overlooking Patcham, I’m thinking, yes the summer is over and there’s that autumnal feeling just around the corner again…. 

Despite the weather, I’ve had a good summer. I went camping a couple of times, in the rain; had another phase of separation from my angel child when he went abroad for the first time without me; read some great books (Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert being my fave), listened to some wonderfully inspiring music (especially the new Coldplay cd), and had a fantastic blast of meditation helping me get back on track with that aspect of my journey. 

Having just come back from the wonderful Amaravati Thai Forest Monastery near Hemel Hempstead that’s what’s uppermost for me.  This is an annual family camp run jointly by the monks/nuns and family members, some of whom have seen their kids grow from babes to adults coming back with their own kids in tow. It was an experience to savour: singing, dancing, meditating (or trying to to while Ian rolled into my back) sitting in the beautiful silent shrine room with the golden buddha emanting peace and healing. 

But groups are hard work aren’t they?  They are for me.  Whether it’s office politics or group holidays reminding us (whether we’re aware of it or not), of our families of origin and all the great stuff that took place there!  Conflict is inevitable, it’s how we deal with it that counts.  And at Amaravati I saw great examples of dealing with issues with sensitivity and lack of judgement or blame.  As always coming back to Awareness.  The theme of the week was ‘good bad and the way it is’ reminding us to let go of needing things to be a certain way.  How refreshing is it when I can actually do it.  And that’s when I start to understand that pain is inevitable and normal but suffering doesn’t have to be. Having gone on and on in classes about the need to be in the present moment, I find that this summer I’ve actually managed to do it myself.  So please listen to me and do it too, it really helps!  If only in dealing with the crummy weather at least.

Posted by: assuntina | July 29, 2008

summer yoga in Patcham

Summer holidays are here, yippee!  Time to wear sandals and dresses, and raincoats of course, given it’s lush and verdant England.  I will be away for some of August so read on to find out what classes you can go to.

Ok, so most of the classes I teach have stopped now it’s the summer holidays, and won’t be up and running again til September.  However, I am still teaching the Thursday morning drop in at Patcham Community Centre right through the summer except for Thursday August 7th when I’ll be away and will have nobody to cover for me.  Whichever of the classes you usually go to, you’re welcome to come along to this instead.  See the Yoga Classes page for details.

The Monday evening group marked the end of the term by having dinner at the wonderful Preston Park Tavern in Havelock Road.  We’ve done this several years in a row now, and it’s a great opportunity to catch up on how people are getting on in their practise.  The food is some of the best I’ve eaten in Brighton, or anywhere come to that, and the atmosphere is as they say, convivial, and it’s interesting to see people off their mats and in their civvies.  Interesting too for me is the adjustment I make from being teacher to just being one of the gals.  In the course of the evening we talked about how the yoga practise has helped one of the students sort out her frozen shoulder, and how it has helped the rest of the class feel sane and relaxed.  Aside from yoga conversations we talked about our kids, grandchildren, pets, partners, what shoes to wear and where to buy the latest pink high heels at a bargain price, and who of us has style and who of us sadly doesn’t.  I came into the second category unfortunately.  I had the wrong shoes on.  My favourite DM sandals.  Clodhoppers our glamourous student called them.

Anyway, I’m off camping this weekend to Buddhafields in Devon where stylish shoes will be the least of my problems as I expect to spend the entire week in wellies (actually they are quite stylish and have big pink flowers on them…).  I’m looking forward to spending longer times meditating than I usually do, and generally being in a retreat type situation, my batteries will get recharged and I can’t wait.

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