Teacher Review: Graham Burns – “Samana Yoga”

Graham Burns

Graham teaches lovely fluid, gentle and expressive classes where everyone leaves feeling warm, comforted and sometimes energised. He is a very approachable teacher which means that you can get a lot out of the classes, making sure that you practice in the right way for you.

Style

My yoga teaching is non-dogmatic and reflects the variety of styles which I have studied over the years. My earliest teachers included well known UK teachers Simon Low and Liz Lark, and my relaxed, flowing asana style draws extensively both on their influence and on my studies of the Ashtanga Vinyasa tradition with Richard Freeman and other leading teachers, including John Scott and Dena Kingsberg.

I try to keep classes creatively and imaginatively sequenced, with an eye on their energetic as well as physical effects. Pranayama (breathing) and meditation are integral parts of my yoga practice and most of my classes include these as well as asana (postures). I am also an experienced teacher of gentle yoga and have been recognised by the London Evening Standard as a top teacher of yoga nidra (a deep guided relaxation practice).

Read more about Graham’s yoga journy, inspiration and style on his website http://www.samanayoga.com/

Classes in London with Graham Burns

TRIYOGA
6 Erskine Road, Primrose Hill, London NW3
Sunday 9.00 to 10.15 am, level 1-2
Sunday 10.30 to 11.45 am, yoga gently for all levels
Wednesday 9.30 to 10.45 am, level 1
Friday 9.45 to 11.00 am, level 1-2
www.triyoga.co.uk

THE LIFE CENTRE
15 Edge Street, Notting Hill, London W8
Tuesday 7.30 to 9.00 pm, level 1-2 with meditation
Friday 2.30 to 3.45 pm, dynamic level 2
Saturday 1.45 to 3.15 pm, level 2 
www.thelifecentre.com

THE LIFE CENTRE
1 Britannia Row, Islington, London N1
Thursday 11.00 am to 12.15 pm, gentle yoga with meditation
www.thelifecentre.com

THE THURLEIGH ROAD PRACTICE
88a Thurleigh Road, London SW12
Saturday 10.30 am to 12.00 noon, all levels
www.thurleighroadpractice.co.uk

Graham is also available to teach individuals and groups privately; please call or e-mail for more information.

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Centre: Central London – “Triyoga Centres in Covent Garden, Soho and Primrose Hill”

 

Triyoga

 

This is one of the most established and still one of the most exciting yoga centres in London. It has three locations – Primrose Hill, Covent Garden and Soho. All very convenient. It was started by a man called Jonathan Sattin in 2000 who gave up umpteen coffees and cigarettes a day in the pursuit of a more balanced lifestyle. He has a great yoga story to tell

Practising yoga (on the mat) and in a broader way, increased my awareness + instincts across my life; from the way it improved my football (without losing any of my highly competitive streak) to the way I now practiced law with a difference – trusting my instinct as much as knowledge + experience. Read more

Triyoga combines Yoga, Pilates and Treatments to give everyone access to a healthier lifestyle choice. But they are not preachy about it, it’s more about exploring yourself and having fun. They have excellent workshops (e.g. “Where yoga meets Neuroscience” or “Reviving the Spine”) and teachers. If you haven’t tried it yet, get yourself down there in your lunchbreak or after work.

A word of warning, evening and weekend classes can get busy and a packed studio can be intimidating if you are new and find it hard to follow the instructions. So make sure you choose a class that is right for you. If in any doubt, call them or contact us for advice.

Great yoga teachers

Triyoga must have the largest list of yoga teachers connected to their centres, including some of Yogi London’s favourite teachers – Graham Burns (also teaches at the Life Centre), Lisa Sanfilippo, Mark Hill (also teaches Ashtanga at Special Yoga, Kensal Rise), Mimi Kuo Deemer (also teaches at Special Yoga, Kensal Rise),

Keep up to date with their news and events (workshops get  booked up FAST!) on Triyoga Twitter

primrose hill

6 erskine road, primrose hill, London, nw3 3aj

Nearest Tube: chalk farm

Telephone: 0207 483 3344

google map
tfl.gov.uk

 

soho

2nd floor, kingly court, soho, london, w1b 5pw

Nearest Tube: oxford street

Telephone: 0207 483 3344

google map
tfl.gov.uk

 

covent garden

wallacespace, 2 dryden street, covent garden, london, wc2e 9na

Nearest Tube: covent garden

Telephone: 0207 483 3344

google map
tfl.gov.uk

 

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Teacher Review: Yoga Dance – “Nicky McGinty”

 

Introducing Yoga Dance teacher in Covent Garden and Woking, Nicky McGinty…

Yoga Dance

 

I worked as a dancer/choreographer and performer for a long time before becoming a yoga teacher. I have, therefore,  been working on this amalgamation for a while.

Covent Garden Class

A Vinyasa style class with various dance forms put together in sequences to music to allow students to get a workout whilst releasing stress, expressing themselves and also learning yoga and dance technique.
 
The Yoga Dance class I run in Covent Garden is tailored to participants there.  It is a mixture of Contemporary, Jazz, Yoga and predominantly Ballet!  Very different but also great. Find out more on Facebook page Yoga Dance

Where?

Oasis Fitness Centre , 32 Endell St

Nearest Tube: Acess on High Holborn.  Nearest tubes: Covent Garden, Tottenham Court Road & Holborn

Membership: No Membership required at the gym in order to attend my classes

When?

Tuesdays 5.30-6.30pm

How much?

Price:5/10 x Class Pass £40/£80       Drop in £10

Woking Classes

The peak fitness class on a Monday is a classical vinyasa class with lots of Ashtanga influence and the wednesday Class is still forming its yoga dance participants at the moment.  I am hoping this will become a performance class- to i can take the yoga dance we create in class into site specific venues in the summer!

 

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Events: Workshop – “The Energy Anatomy of Home Practice, Triyoga, Primrose Hill in North London”

“Spring is nearly upon us. London gives us the peek-a-boo of sun and rain, warm and cool, and continually reminds us of the play of complementary opposites that we learn, through our yoga practice, to navigate skilfully and gracefully….”

Join Lisa Sanfilipo and the kula for a Home Practice workshop focused on physical/ mental/ energetic and organic balance tomorrow (10th March) at 7.30pm @ Triyoga to hear more on this!

Where: Primrose Hill, 6 Erskine Road, London, NW3 3AJ

Telephone: 020 7483 3344

Underground: Chalk Farm

“As yogis, we become artists of balance, consummate paradox-holders, and able to dive into what Carolyn Myss calls ‘the world behind our eyes’ and see how ‘what is outside is inside, and what is inside is outside’. That last bit is a favourite quote that encapsulates deep psychological truth and the Tantric vision, often used by my dear teacher Dr Douglas Brooks”

The Energy Anatomy of Home Practice- Tomorrow! 
 For Deep Sleep + Vibrant Days   Friday 11 March 2011   7.30pm – 9.30pm triyoga primrose hill   Explore the art of deep self-care and attentiveness through your yoga practice. Listen to the needs of your body, mind and soul with practices that fine-tune the mechanics of your body and attune to your energetic needs.You’ll do contrasting practice sequences with asana, pranayama, meditation and mantra that embody different methods of self-care, easy to incorporate into your daily life. We’ll delve into both practices, deep sleep and vibrant days, from perspectives that empower self-awareness:the bio-mechanical: muscles and bones, alleviating back pain, stuck shoulders or restless, tight hips and legs. the organic: supporting hormonal, digestive and other functions, including yoga for insomnia. the psychological: surfacing and releasing negative emotions (fear, anger, sadness, guilt, criticism and judgment) to spend more time in positive states of acceptance, joy, compassion, and gratitude.
the energetic: improving circulation, energy and vitality (called Prana) directing its flow through your body with movement, attention and intention.
Lisa credits the energy anatomy work of Caroline Myss and Anodea Judith and the practice of Anusara yoga through John Friend, Sianna Sherman + Elena Brower for their inspiration. More here

Yogi Lifestyle: Personal Experience – “Diaries of a Developing Yogi Londoner – The Long Road to Enlightenment….”

Ask an Western Ashtangi how they got hooked on yoga and generally they will say it was ‘the physical exertion of the practice’, had it been the stillness of Iyengar or the mystic chanting of mantras and strange pranayamic breathing involved in Kundalini, they would have walked away saying it was stupid hippy shit.

For me however, it was quite the other way round, my first yoga class was a Kundallini one that my mother dragged me to in Clapham aged 15. I remembering finding the experience quite cathartic and very sublime, though when the teacher in her heavy Italian accent said ‘flex your anal sex organ’…I do recall having to hold back immense amounts of laughter. Perhaps explaining – in less graphic terms – where the region was and what the chakra was called, the purposing of doing so etc,..and asking us to hold the ‘Mula Bandha’ might have been more beneficial.

So, though a little perplexed by the whole experience it certainly did not put me off when it was suggested to have yoga lessons at school. Not one who has ever liked intense amounts of exercise, I used to relish the hour and half with Anne a tiny Iyengar teacher, though rather top heavy teacher – who always completely dumbfounded us how she would be able to contort herself into such poses when some of us could barely touch our toes and she in every other respect looked like someone’s Granny. There were 3 of us in the class so it is the nearest to one to one yoga I personally have ever experienced, and since it was Iyengar for 3 stressed out A-level students, it was basically an hour and half of completely relaxation a week without the horror of a drop of sweat.

During the breaks between exams I used to practise at a studio near our house in Putney, the classes I suppose where some form of derivative of Sivananda yoga, however, since I used to always take the 11 o’clock class, I soon discovered it was in fact the pregnancy yoga one. So not only did I quickly learn the modifications whilst pregnant, but also enjoyed another very chilled class that was a welcome distraction from my exams….

I should perhaps at this point note, that though I had an absolute aversion to perspiration and basically any anaerobic exercise, since I had done quite a lot of ballet when small I had remained quite flexible (probably a contributing factor to not ), though from a mix of riding with an ill fitting saddle and adolescence had developed terrible posture and a back problem…

My next yogic encounter and probably my most significant was during my gap year when myself and friends were turtle saving on the Island of Koh Phra Thong off the Burmise coast in Thailand. Danny Paradise, who was formerly Madonna’s Ashtanga teacher was doing a retreat there, and since we had meals together he in his chilled out Hawaiian tones invited us to ‘check it out’. This was my first experience of anything that had resulted in more than a blush in my cheeks, we had all seen Geri Halliwell’s ashtanga workout video…but actually doing all the sun salutations and vinyasas was extremely hard work and exhausting. As being like most girls not having much upper body strength at first it seemed to be endless and by surya namaskar B, I was always completely out of breath and very flustered. However, Danny is certainly one of the most encouraging and inspiring teachers, that I have so far on this journey encountered- who did the most fantastic adjustments putting one into binds that as an Ashtanga beginner I never thought possible.

So, with a mixture of the satisfaction of achieving what I thought perviously unattainable and intrigue into the philosophies that went in tangent with this, that seem to align so closely to things which my mother had been saying for years, self awareness, the importance of nourishment of one’s body and soul and not always being reliant on the mass pharmaceuticals so easily in supply in the West, but rather looking to within to heal one-selves really seemed to fascinate me. I also adored the fact we’d have the most enormous breakfasts, of fruits, yoghurts and pancakes afterwards.

Therefore, I continued on mainly doing lead classes mainly at the Life Centre and Triyoga- only once taking a Mysore class in Edinburgh where the teacher in the very traditionalistic view would only allow me to do an hour and half of Surya Namaskas in order for me to get Ujjayi breathing right – an experience so horrendous and repetitive that I vowed never to do Mysore again. I continued on this path of dabbling – going to a few classes a week with months at a time off due to the busy London lifestyle, colds etc,…Until three years ago when missing two steps to the bar in killer heels resulted in a broken foot on New Year day and crutches for 5 months.

Once finally on my feet again, I quickly discovered that in order to gain any sort of balance yoga and lots of physio were the only things that helped. Ironically being on crutches for so long was the only thing that built up enough upper body strength to do my suyra namaskas and all the vinyasas need in the primary series without dropping down in exhaustion.

Thus due to this unforeseen limitation in movement, and in particular, the fact that they had had to put a pin in, I resolved that I wouldn’t spend the following winter in England, but would go instead to India and learn more about the other aspects of yoga – not simply the asana. So in November 2009, I did my 200 hours Yoga Alliance at the Himalayan Yoga Valley School in Goa, unlike some, my aim was not to become a teacher but rather to learn about all eight parts which form Raja yoga (Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyama, Dharana, Dhyana, Samadhi) and to give me a stronger foundation; being a dynamic practise to prepare for Mysore….

Having vowed never to to do Mysore again, I gradually realised that in order to actually improve ones practise in the ashtanga series or in fact any yoga you need to practice 6 days a week, and that the best place to learn Mysore was Mysore, where it had been founded by Sri Krishna Pattabhi Jois (his photo is in most yoga studios).
It wasn’t, however, until I was in Goa learning modifications, adjustments and aspects of hindu philosophy, that one of my teacher’s voiced the concern that unless I was very advanced on my primary series or in fact on series two I wouldn’t get much of a look in at the main shala as there are so many students, that the teachers tend to lean their focus towards the more advanced practioners, rather than improving the correct alignment of asanas in students developing in their practice. It was therefore suggested instead I try the shalas Sthalam 8, or Mandala Mysore.
The instruction at Mandala Mysore was fantastic, and the fact it offered drop in whilst you were deciding which 4-6 weeks courses you wanted to commit to whilst there was brilliant – this and the highly influencing factor that one of the drop-in options being at 3 pm rather than the conventional Mysore 6 am…Whilst there, I in my insanity, decided to undertake 6 week twice a day dynamic vinyasa, pranayama and back opening course with Vinay Kumar….the fact that the sun salutations are more similar to hatha in stepping/lunging back rather than the ashtanga and jiva jumping was a false sense of security and with each movement there was a bandha lock, meaning that you were absolutely exhausted, within 5 minutes in…so I was most relieved that after a week and half in to be struck with dreadful Mysore belly that wouldn’t go and have to make a hasty retreat home….

Since returning from my 5 month India experiment, I have tried when possible to get up for Ryan Spielmann’s Mysore at the Life Centre, however, having spent so long in India when you are made so aware of the importance of eating light, and sleeping early for the best practise this is pretty rare. I instead mainly try to go to Jivamukti with Stuart Gilchrist on Monday evenings at the Light Centre in Belgravia, and there after drop in to classes at the wonderful Jivamukti centre in Kensal Rise.

I am still doing Mysore once a week on Saturday’s with the fantastic Michaela Clarke – mainly because of her brilliant adjustments and the fact it starts at 8.15 rather than 6 am. I have moved more towards Jivamukti in the last year as I find it’s an all encompassing practice, I find that many of the drop in classes at other studios are now too easy, and all about the asana, where as Jiva incorporates mantras, and pranayama and also looks at reflection, and setting an intention in your practice. The asanas in Jivamukti are also much more directed toward the physical needs of women as though as intense as ashtanga which was incidentally devised as a distraction for novice monks to suppress their sexual energy, Jivamukti is much more about back openers, therefore holding a focus on emotion and your anahatha charka.

Finally, in consolation to anyone who has read the entirety of this and now thinks the only way to do yoga is 6 times a week, i would like to reassure them that all though this is always my intention I very rarely achieve this. And like the ideal 6 day a week practice there is all the underling veganism intertwined in yoga. It is argued that bar the many other environmental and moral reasons for not eating eggs and meat is because it makes your body more lean, and therefore the practice is made easier. I, however, follow the advice of my philosophy teacher Moorthy G in Goa who said that depending on the environment your in will, very much effects what your body requires to sustain itself and frankly, I find it too cold here, not to have the occasional shepherd’s pie and glass of red wine, where as in India it’s veggie all the way for fear of bugs and poisoning. To achieve my aim of doing yoga 6 times a week, I have started going on retreats a few times a year to really improve my practice, however, even then I am always thrilled to hear when it’s a Moon day (i.e a day off).

Personally, if there is anything I have learned in the last ten years of practice, it is to do the form of yoga that suits you, to meet your current needs in life, and to find a teacher that you like and inspires you. Years ago I once tried Bikram which I thought was horrible with all the heat and sweating and risk of over stretching. I really couldn’t understand the need for the external heat, which one can create with ujjai breath and vinyasa, however, since I am about to undertake a detox, I am thinking of including this once or twice a week for the next few months, to fully purify out the toxins.

Finally, I think Yoga London is the most fantastic forum, as it gives advice and directions in all aspects involved with Yoga, so in some respects avoids the trails and errors I had to go through to get to where I am currently.

I wish you all the happiness in the development of practice.

Nameste,

T

Yogi Lifestyle: Personal Experience – “Three Types of Yoga Teacher”

I have been practicing yoga for a few years now – first in Moscow, now in London. I’ve been to many different classes and have seen lots of different teachers. Here are few yoga teacher ‘types’ that I’ve come across.

ONE: The apologetic convert

She sounds like she’s mixing up religious texts with self help books and every now and then has a faint hint of an american accent when she says ‘It’s so great to be alive right now’. She knows that her elevated words are falling on deaf ears because she wasn’t once like this, ‘I was once like you, don’t hate me for my naive optimism’, her expression begs of you.

However, I find that the apologizing helps to add blandness to the sugariness of her words and makes it much easier to digest. She’s usually supremely intelligent and tries not to get carried away with the loftiness of her words, because she’s aware of the gap in understanding. By the end of the class your head is still screaming, ‘don’t listen to this toss’ but you’re body is loving every soothing and encouraging word. This is my favourite type of teacher.

TWO: The show off

This yoga teacher likes to remind you about how second nature everything is to her now. She’s been doing yoga for much longer than you and she could do the entire thing standing on her head with her eyes closed and her foot behind her head. She walks into the room, tosses her hair back and says with a sigh, ‘right, you pathetic suit wearing sacks of lethargy, try to keep up with my enlightened self’. I imagine that she spends her entire summer on yoga retreats talking about how wonderful she is. Yoga for her is a competition. Expect to feel more aggravated than relaxed at the end of a class.

THREE: The quiet yoga lover

This is similar to the first, but without the ‘supreme intellect’. They are humble in their love of yoga and just want to share it with the class. They have no assumptions of superiority and just want to practice with you and to love the practice. However, because of their lack of confidence as a teacher, they tend to let students just follow and can forget to give proper guidance in posture, alignment, breathing and mind. Although I like these people, I find their classes a bit flat.