Playfulness Archives - Peacock Tree Yoga

The Spirit of Halloween Yoga

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Peacock Tree Yoga students are always encouraged (nay, forced!) to don a cape, some fangs or a pair of pointy ears for classes that fall on Halloween, and this year is no exception. But more than anything, we want our students to try on a few asana ‘costumes’, at home and in our classes – with the intention to experience the stories, the symbols and the qualities associated with each.

A Halloween yoga practice

Peacock Tree teachers leading by example!

Peacock Tree teachers leading by example!

If you aren’t sure what qualities are associated with different poses, you can go with intuition, your experience, and your imagination. What does a boat pose mean to you – the ability to go on new journeys, and greet change and with an adventurous heart? The ability to stay afloat during difficult times? What does plank pose mean to you – the qualities of a strong foundation: steadiness, the ability to withstand pressure, the readiness to be used in the service of a great plan?

We can take the theme of Halloween to the very end of our yoga practice. In Savasana (which, aptly, translates as corpse pose), take a moment to focus on people from the past who you admire – it can renew your sense of purpose in life and give your motivation a tremendous boost. This, after all, is what Halloween started out as.

In memory of…

pumpkin with om symbol


Traditionally, the eve before All Saints Day – an active one in the Spirit Realm – involved dressing up in period clothes of ancestors whose admirable characteristics remained in their descendants’ memories, long after their physical bodies dissolved into the earth.

The ancient Celts believed the border between this world and the spirit world became thin on Samhain, allowing ‘ghosts’ (both harmless and harmful) to pass through. The family’s ancestors were honoured and invited home, while harmful spirits were warded off. It is believed that the need to ward off harmful spirits led to the wearing of costumes and masks celebrating the lives of the more favourable ones.

Good or bad, it’s up to you

halloween yoga costume

Trick or treat?

By using the theme of Halloween to steer our yoga practice, we are able to retain a sense of what Halloween was traditionally about. By all means, go to a party, drink ‘blood’ punch and do the Time Warp (again). But make time, too, to bring the special quality of this time of year, and its inherent traditions, to your mat.

It is true that the celebrations of All Hallows Eve, or as we call it now, Halloween, has become quite different from its origins and can be the subject of debate and controversy. But by applying the teachings of yoga – to strive to reach a place in our minds and our hearts that causes us to radiate peace, happiness, and every kind of positive energy – the traditions of Halloween can help bring about good physical and emotional health, which affects everyone and everything around us.

Imagination in life is our most powerful tool.


Halloween waits . . . (a poem about Halloween by Lilley Harvey)

The night before November 5th, I spied a wretched Halloween,

Half fall, half flight, her step was swift

Her time was echoes, thin as wind

then midnight chimed

and brilliant, vermillion, Fire grinned.

“I waited,” she smiled.

They kissed with lips aflame and then she died.

Everybody loves the sunshine…

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Have you ever considered why it is that we wait with such eager anticipation for the Summer sun to arrive? Why you find yourself checking the long-range forecast, in the hope of finding evidence that Britain will actually be bathed in sunshine at some point?

everybody loves the sunshine

The fire element inspires play…

The sun feels nice, we can wear our lightest clothes (or nothing at all!), feel free and easy… We can eat outside, even if it’s late in the evening. The light has a magical quality. And when the threat of rain doesn’t loom, we’re more inclined to play – by ourselves, with our families and friends, and even strangers.

These are all good reasons for anticipating the arrival of summer, but there’s another reason, too; Summer, and the element of fire it brings, plays an important part in our spiritual wellbeing and evolution…

Everybody needs the sunshine…

“The Fire element expresses itself as joy and manifests within us as love, laughter, and enthusiasm. During summer, the season of maximum expansion, we can become aware of ourselves at our fullest.” – Neil Gumenick

According to Chinese medicine, Summer delivers the promises of Spring. It’s the time when the plans and intentions we set in Spring blossom fully, giving us the opportunity and power to present our truest and most impressive selves to the world. And because we are part of nature, this is a natural thing for us to do each year. So much so, that when we lack fire at this time of year, everything just feels wrong – or, as Neil Gumenick puts it in one of his articles on the Five Elements , “we can feel isolated and spiritually cut off, uninspired, fearful, empty, and disconnected from life”.

How to fire up your summer (with or without the sun!)

"During summer, we can become aware of ourselves at our fullest."

“During summer, we can become aware of ourselves at our fullest.”

If you do happen to encounter some sun at some point during the Summer, capitalise on it! Get outside, socialise, live your passions! Dance naked on the beach! Swim naked in the sea – even for 5 minutes, it takes a decade off you!  And tap into the self-sustaining power of the sun by taking your yoga practice outside, into nature, each time our biggest star extends even a finger of light from the sky.

And on those days (or during those weeks!) when the sun doesn’t seem to shine at all, when you don’t feel warmed to the core, and just generally seem to have lost your mojo?

Light your own fire!

Chinese Medicine suggests working on the heart meridian, to “re-establish our connection to the Divine and … awaken us to the security provided by the current of love that permeates existence.” What we’re being told, in a nutshell, is that focusing on the heart can help us to really feel universal love – great big flames of the stuff! We can find our own blistering Summer – right there inside us. And, happily for us yoga folk, our practice can aid us in doing so…

Firing up your yoga practice

Over the coming weeks, we’ll be working on the anahata, or heart chakra, in Peacock Tree Yoga’s classes – exploring backbends and other postures which assist us on our path to an open heart. You can begin at home simply by focusing on love and the unity of all things, as you move through your sun salutations. Even if the sun doesn’t light up the room as a result, the fire in your heart and soul most definitely will.

The video below was filmed during our recent holiday in Turkey. A deep backbend just seemed like the right thing to do in all that sun – and it felt lovely, even if I couldn’t see much with my cap covering my eyes!

We are Six – and it’s brilliant!

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Take your mind back for a moment and try to recapture how it was to be six years old. Do you remember  doing  cartwheels and handstands against the wall with your best friend? Can you recall the way in which a normal day could be transformed into one of magic, secret tunnels and other worlds?

As Peacock Tree Yoga turns six, we are reminded to reconnect with our child selves. Young minds are so clean, so unpolluted – free of the ideas society has about the way we should look or behave. When we are six, the veil has not yet been drawn over our pure awareness of being, of living in the moment. As six year olds, we’re more curious about, and impressed with, the world around us – things many of us strive for as adults.

Peacock Tree Yoga friends

Peacock Tree friends enjoying a post-workshop natter and munch!

Playful Peacocks

At Peacock Tree Yoga, we’re proud to encourage these ‘childlike’ qualities, with our fun and inspiring classes. Enjoying the feeling of being back in our body again. We aim to ensure that every student feels connected and appreciated, and is able to escape the grown up world of demands and expectations.

Visit our Facebook page to see more photos of us in action!

The best part is, our students play along – and this is what makes our school so special, a fact noted by a visiting  teacher at last weekend’s powerful Yin Yang workshop, Jude Claybourne. Our yoga community mightily impressed Jude, who told me afterwards that she’s never encountered one like ours, where people who have become true friends share stories about their practice and development in a loving, gentle, kind and happy atmosphere. We all hang out after workshops drinking herbal tea and fabulous cakes and raw food treats.

This is the stuff of a six-year old yoga school’s dreams, and we can’t thank our students enough for the part they play in making it such a success. Here’s to the next twenty six years of growing and playing together!

Happy 6th birthday, everyone!

Peacock Tree Yoga in York - Scorpion pose