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Beginners yoga Archives - Peacock Tree Yoga

Finding my Yoga Kula

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When Peacock Tree Yoga teacher and student, Rob Milner, took up yoga in March 2012, he couldn’t have anticipated the world it would open up for him – the yoga kula, or community, he was about to enter. In this guest blog, written after his second trip to an Austrian Sivananda Yoga ashram, he recalls how it all began…

PTY rob yoga kula blog photo 6

The Peacock Tree Yoga kula, where my world opened up…

Yoga was something I’d been curious about for a while, but I hadn’t really looked for a class. In fact, it was my mum who found the advert and suggested we both give it a try.

From the moment I started it just felt like the right place to be. I remember distinctly how Lilley had set up the environment, with incense, the right kind of music and a well-balanced class, and it was a spiritual experience. I wasn’t familiar with spirituality that much at the time, but looking back, that sense of connection to the peace within appealed to me on some level. Yoga was the thing I was looking for, though I didn’t even know I was looking for it. You can say it was fate, or the universal order, or just luck, but the yoga found me when it was the right time.

chloe mckay and rob milner

Who knew yogis love to party?!

I started with the beginners’ class, once a week. Initially I couldn’t even touch my toes, but yoga allows you to steadily improve your flexibility, focus and strength. Sometimes the results are quick, sometimes they are more gradual, but you can see your progress, and that’s wonderful motivation.

After finishing the beginners’ course I moved into the intermediates: giving the body and mind the extra level of challenge allows it to rise and adapt to the situation. It’s important to build up to it though, always finding that relaxation within the postures, where the breath can be even and steady. A lot of the practice is in the mind and it’s the meditative aspect that really connects us with the true practice of yoga.

 

A seed takes root…

PTY rob blog swiss chalet

Sivananda Yoga Ashram, Austria

Once I’d done intermediates for a while I needed to get deeper into the yoga, so I started going several times per week. I gradually invested more time in it and improved my practice. I did some yoga at home too and started assisting with some of the classes. One evening after class, Lilley mentioned the Teacher Training Course to me and this piqued my interest. It was the next step that I was seeking on my yoga journey.

With a year to go before doing the teacher training, I began preparing and started counting the days. The training itself was a month-long intensive in a Sivananda ashram in the Austrian Tyrol, among the forests and mountains and provided a true retreat experience.

PTY rob blog shrine

Diving deeper in Austria…

A major revelation I had when doing the course was that there was so much more to yoga than I had been aware of. I’d been practising the postures (asanas) and the breathing (pranayama), but had really only scratched the surface. I was introduced to Vedanta, which is the philosophical backbone of yoga and started practising meditation twice a day.

The schedule was intensive and not always easy, but yoga is also about applying the calm, peaceful state of mind to more stressful situations, so that we don’t get so emotionally involved in every little thing, but learn to approach all of life’s events with a balanced outlook. Good things happen and bad things happen. Everything can be a lesson for us, and sometimes it’s important to go through bad things in order to develop our character and grow stronger and wiser.

Connecting with my yoga kula

Acro Yoga Kula

Our Acro Yoga Kula in York!

A very important aspect of my teacher training, and one of the main reasons I practise in a class, is that you get to meet and connect with a lot of really wonderful people. I’ve made some really deep connections with people I’ve met through yoga and they will always be special to me and remain my lifelong friends.

Maybe it’s the type of people who are drawn to yoga, but I find yogis to have an inspiring attitude, looking for self-improvement and a more peaceful existence, sitting a level above the stresses and strains of everyday life.

I love the fact that yoga is open to everyone, it’s never too late to practise and you will always gain some benefit. There are so many variations that all bodies can find the yoga, you don’t have to be super fit, but just have a little discipline and go to a class.

Catching up with fellow TT's Anju and Elizabeth at London's Sivananda Centre

Catching up with fellow TT’s Anju and Alice in London

Through yoga I’ve made friends all over the world, and love to visit them and reconnect with them. It’s great catching up with my fellow TTCs (what we call the people who did the Teacher Training Course) and seeing how they’re getting on. Some are teaching, some are practising, but they have a deeper understanding of yoga from doing the course, as do I. It was a pivotal point for me, and I think of my life before and life after the TTC as two different things, almost a rebirth.

Wherever I lay my mat, that’s my home

I recently returned to the ashram in Austria for a yoga vacation, with my mum, and I really enjoyed connecting to a new group of people. I specifically chose to return when the teacher training course was on this year as I love the energy that all the extra people create.

Yoga is a path we can walk with others

Yoga is a path I like walking with others

But one thing I also realised is that though the environment is lovely (it’s really a detox to be in the mountains, away from the busy stimulation of daily life) it’s not necessary to go anywhere to experience the bliss of yoga. The important part is the people you practise with.

Next time you’re in your class, try to become aware of the beautiful people that surround you and the amazing community and sense of connection that’s there. Talk to people, smile at people, be happy with people and look for opportunities. Follow your intuition and say yes to things. You never know where you may end up. I feel so lucky to have had so many opportunities since returning from my course, but they were always there, I just wasn’t aware of them.

Life is beautiful, the world is beautiful, and people are beautiful. Yoga is a way to connect to the blissful self within, but also a way to create unification with those around us too. All you need to do is commit to a practice and give yourself to the yoga, and you might find that it leads you to the place you want to be.


Rob sounds brilliant! Where can we find him?!

PTY rob yoga kula blog photo 4

Rob Milner

Rob has a really strong practice, so you’ll find him teaching some of Peacock Tree Yoga’s more challenging classes, while Lilley is 5000 miles from home:

  • Mon 17th October: Improvers, Acomb, 6.45 – 8.00pm
  • Mon 17th October: Ashtanga, Acomb, 8.00 – 9.30pm
  • Mon 24th October: Improvers, Acomb, 6.45 – 8.00pm
  • Mon 24th October: Ashtanga, Acomb, 8.00 – 9.30pm

The tale of the woodcutter

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There’s a short story about a woodcutter we like to share with our students, which we’re going to share in this blog. It’s a simple reminder of something we all forget to do – something which can make our lives so much more enjoyable and productive. Are you sitting comfortably? Then let’s begin…

PTY woodcutter axe

Woodcutting, like life, can be hard!

Once upon a time, there was a young man with strong arms and a strong work ethic. Fittingly, he found a job as a woodcutter in a forest.

On his first day, he managed to cut down an impressive twenty trees! “Not bad, lad!” exclaimed his boss (who turned the wood into planks).

Determined to maintain his track record, the young woodcutter set out to do the same, if not more, on his second day. But after fifteen trees, he had to stop.

On the third day, the woodcutter rose early, keen to get a head start on the job and bring his total back up to twenty. Alas, he managed to cut down even fewer trees than the day before!

This pattern continued, with the woodcutter leaving work more and more disheartened as the week went on.

Eventually, one of the older woodcutters took him to one side for a chat. “When did you last sharpen your axe?” he asked. The young woodcutter stared at him blankly, for he had not sharpened his axe once since starting his new job – he hadn’t had the time to spare, after all.

However, the next morning, the young woodcutter remembered what his friend had asked him and set aside a few minutes to sharpen his axe, before attempting to cut down more trees.

And do you know what? Despite having less time to chop wood, he managed to bring his total back up to twenty.

Have you sharpened your axe?

PTY festival scene for woodcutter story

Nourish your soul to sharpen your axe

This simple story has an important lesson for those of us who live busy, active lives. It serves to remind us about the need to sharpen our own axe. We’re speaking metaphorically, of course. For us, the axe is three-sided: it has a physical edge, a mental edge and a spiritual edge – and it’s these aspects of ourselves that we have to ‘sharpen’.

When we look at the story from this perspective, the job of chopping down trees is life itself. With a well-maintained ‘axe’ – physical strength, mental clarity and a heart full of love – we become more masterly in our approach to the job of life.

Be the best woodcutter you can be!

As the nights grow longer and the air becomes damp and cold, it can be tempting to hide out in our cosy homes. And yes, this is one way to sharpen your axe. But it’s not the whole story. To maintain energetic balance, a strong and vital body, and a focused mind – to keep all three edges of the axe sharp – we must come back to the mat.

Throughout the Autumn term at Peacock Tree Yoga, we’re inviting you to commit to sharpening your blade not only in our classes, but in two special workshops being held in September and November.

The first of these Yoga Ninja workshops will afford you an opportunity to take stock of where you are now – to take a close-up inspection of your axe. The second workshop, which takes place 9 weeks later, will show you how much sharper your blade has become!

Contact us now to book a place in one or both workshops:

  • Email: info@peacocktreeyoga.com
  • Call: 07772 706 736 / 01904 235932
  • Facebook: PeacockTreeYoga

Back to School?

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Even as adults, we never quite shake off the rhythm of the academic year. September brings a sense of newness – it feels as though the time is right for going ‘back to school’, whether that means taking a course, developing a new hobby, or joining a club of some sort. This is one reason why the Peacock Tree Yoga beginners course is so popular each September. But we know that going ‘back to school’ can be a nerve-wracking experience, so here’s a reassuring lowdown on what you will – and won’t! – encounter at ‘yoga school’…

Pack up yer pencils!

Well, for a start, you won’t be needing a new pencil tin to etch your name into with a compass. Nor will you be required to cover your books with posters of your favourite pop group. In a yoga class, it’s less about pens and rubbers and more about mats and eye pillows (we’ll provide you with these items in your free trial class). We don’t give out grades either; no-one is ever judged on their ability. We only want to help you to reach your highest potential – whatever that may be – and to live a joyful life in a healthy body, free of stress and suffering.

Go back to school with Peacock Tree Yoga!

At Peacock Tree Yoga, we aim to help you reach your goals.

Back to school fears…

However, we completely understand that for many people, joining a new yoga class can be as terrifying as starting primary school at the tender age of four. But we want you to feel confident about going ‘back to school’ this September – because, like these Peacock Tree Yoga students, we know what a positive impact yoga can have on people’s lives! So, with that in mind, we thought we’d unravel a few myths and misunderstandings about yoga.

Already convinced about the benefits of yoga? Then register now for your free trial class!

There’s a rumour going around…

  1. Yoga is for bendy, slim, young people. WRONG: Yoga is for everyone – and every body. You don’t start off being bendy – that comes with time, along with strength and focus. You might become slimmer – many people find that they do, with a regular yoga practice. You can become younger with yoga too – one of our favourite testimonials is “First time I’ve touched my toes in 35 years”!
  2. Yoga is a religion. WRONG: Yoga complements religion beautifully – and when we say religion, we mean any religion. Yes, yoga is integral to the Buddhist and Hindu traditions, which adopted it, but it is, in fact, a science – of the Self. Yoga gives us techniques for uniting mind, body and spirit – including asana (postures), breathing and meditation – to help us achieve optimum wellbeing and experience the ‘oneness’ of everything!
  3. Yoga isn’t challenging enough for sporty people. WRONG: Yoga can be incredibly challenging – especially for sporty people! Have you ever tried stretching a muscle that’s more familiar with being in a state of contraction?! Or using muscles you didn’t even know you had? Well it’s high time you did, especially if you want to enhance your sports performance!
  4. Yoga is about following rules. WRONG: Yoga shows us how to use our own wisdom to make the best of ourselves and the situations in which we find ourselves. Having said that, we do ask our students to observe some Yoga Etiquette!
  5. Yoga is expensive. WRONG: Yoga is cheap when you consider the cost of having a bad back, a sport injury, or a stressful life – all of which can be alleviated or avoided with yoga. Or when you compare the cost of a class to the cost of that takeaway coffee you buy each morning, the bottle of fizz you put in the fridge for Friday night, or any other indulgence… Indulge your mind and body instead – or as well, if you must!
  6. Yoga is boring. WRONG: A good yoga class leaves you feeling invigorated, relaxed, determined, focused and, yes, happy! And at Peacock Tree Yoga, we occasionally take it further – celebrating the likes of Hallowe’en, Bonfire night and Christmas by practising in costume!

So now you know the truth…

Are you feeling a bit more confident about going back to school? Are you ready to make a commitment to your physical and mental wellbeing, and discovering new ways of coping with everything life throws at you? Then head over to our Yoga Essentials page for a complete break-down of what you can expect from our twelve-week course, and to find out how you can register for your FREE trial class.

Still don’t believe it’s for you? Then watch at this time lapse film we made in one of our Yoga Essentials (beginners) classes – what’s not to love?! Hope to see you soon!