Friday, July 7, 2017

Om Namah Sivaya

OM Namah Sivaya - I see the divine within you and honor the divine within you, that is the same as the divine within me, we are one, all life is one.  Wake up and feel your breath, honor each inhalation and each exhalation and start to become mindful of the very life that you are and all the life that you are part of, the dew on the morning grass, the ray of light through the clouds the songs of the birds.  Yoga is a means to bring that sense of greater awareness to feel that you are part of something bigger and know that something bigger is within you.  If we can become aware then we start to experience life on a larger dimension - why be limited?  Yoga is for you no matter who you are, yoga is your right, peace is your right, happiness is your right an abiding mind is your right.  Yoga can be many things from simply observing a tap drip and concentrating to following your breath, to yogic postures, to placing a flower in a special place, to listening to your heart, to singing with devotion, to giving selflessly.  Yoga is for you and yoga shows the way to contentment.  I am taking a 6 week break from teaching and withdrawing for a while into my own deeper practices, looking after myself and going walkabout! The last two years have been huge - teaching at Butabika hospital,  Kampala and introducing yoga as an integral part of healing and wellbeing within the hospital.  Taking two lovely souls James and Elizabeth through teacher training and sharing the journey.  They will be around to continue classes whilst I am out - please contact them to find out when they are teaching - James: and Elizabeth:  classes will continue at the hospital but kindly check with them their current schedule.  They now are both working hard to raise the funds to journey to India where Swami Govindananda will continue their teacher training on scholarship.  All our work at the hospital is voluntary so they are finding ways to raise money for their flights, visas etc.  We are asking for donations for a professional recording of a Yoga Nidra session by me.  Please do contact them for details, and selling beautiful mat bags made in gorgeous African colours.  Below for inspiration for anyone thinking of yoga and maybe even teacher training here is James Story - I have not edited it - they are his words.     OM Namah Sivaya - I bow to the divine that you are  and the divine that we all have the right to be. I will be back in Kampala by 20th August -
for now have beautiful days - shanti shanti shanti 
mangala / nicky

"Yoga is a practice of the mind, body and spirit. It is a practice that has the power to change, heal and transform us. I began yoga 2 years ago when I was already volunteering in Butabika mental hospital working with children. I faced a number of inner life-threatening issues like chest pain and cardiovascular blockage that caused me night sweats, breathing difficulty and lost hope toward retrieval of myself. 
I was later introduced to yoga at a perfect time and then all the pieces in my life began to fall in place. Basically, it was the perfect "yoga storm" in which I fell in love, so hard and so quickly with the practice of yoga. I was one of those persons that began yoga through a friend now co-teacher Elizabeth who introduced me to Nicky my ever best teacher who inspired me to endure for better, specifically by then I would be invited every Thursday afternoon in an international school a few meters away from my home, as well as a training course, she highly dedicated all her space and time for 200 hours Sivananda Teacher Training, for both Elizabeth and myself for purpose of teaching yoga for mental and physical benefits of the community around. That picked up momentum and we created Butabika Hospital Community Yoga for recovery. At least for my generation, meeting with a professional teacher who has been teaching yoga for a long time plays a huge role when it comes to things like self-esteem and self-efficacy. I want to express my life in a more positive manner and inspire others along the way, and I was led to deep realization roles as I had been contemplating to sit back as I felt I had really nothing special to offer to the mental patients but instead started to commit to my practice while offering this gift to those that would have it for change.
At first, it began as a way to boost my ego, an extravagant demonstration of pride and arrogance. However, as I began delving into books and other resources during my study, I soon learned that yoga is much more than the physical practice of asana (comfortable pose) as my teacher says, ‘That is only one limb of yoga.’ I started to connect asana with the breath, or pranayama, and my practice drastically changed, especially after going to my first yoga class. It then led to making changes in my own life. I allowed yoga to change me from within in order to shape, mold, and create my life into a more accurate depiction of the true me. People began witnessing a new me and asked why I was a happier, more grateful, and a more open person. Naturally, I share my yoga journey with them. I encourage them to at least give thought into doing yoga, not only the physical practice but also the mental, emotional, and spiritual practice of it as well. In Sanskrit, yoga literally means "to join, “to Yolk” or “to unite." That's what yoga has done and continues to do for me: to unite all parts of my being in the formation of the real me, a "me" I genuinely love, a "me" I can express freely, a "me" I can use to connect with others and share light and truth and pure joy, a "me" I can utilize to inspire others, a "me" that works towards unity in our world. I now have a great yogic aim.
Therefore, I am working hard to raise funds for the upcoming Sivananda 200 Hour Teacher Training Course (T.T.C) in September, under the guidance of Swami Govindananda director of The Sivananda Yoga Vidya Peetham School in India, for classical Hatha teachings that provide the opportunity to study yoga anatomy, nutrition, yoga philosophy and teaching methodology. It addresses all the topics that I need to work with people of various shapes and ailments and hence start their journey of healing. It will help me teach with more impact, and a balanced and sustainable way.  Raising funds of this magnitude for the trip is a challenge- which I embrace wholeheartedly but with which I could use a little assistance."    James Akol


Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Yogic Postures to relieve a heartache.

Somebody recently wrote to me asking for a sequence that helps in times of emotional distress.  Well in response to that I would encourage the whole of the Sivananda system of yoga will help to regain a sense of balance and contentment, not only practicing the asana and pranayama’s but especially bhakti yoga, devotional practices, chanting can especially help to ease a hardened or painful heart and uplift the whole self.  But a good sequence of heart opening asana also will bring a great sense of relief if practice frequently and with the right intention.  Dharana is that which flows, or otherwise concentration and in times of trauma or emotional stress the dharana will seem lost, maybe the thought of sitting still for meditation is daunting.  The mind will be flipping from this to that and a disturbed mind will also bring a disturbed body.  This sequence will help to re-establish the concentration and open into the heart space, feeling a greater sense of nurturing from the universal consciousness and space to feel compassion and contentment and again regain a sense of calmness.
1.    lie in Savasana – tense and release each body part to bring instant relaxation.  Start at the feet and work up through the body.
2.    Sit in easy cross legged pose and chant AUM or make your own prayer.
3.    Begin with gentle tension releasers for the neck dropping the right ear toward the right shoulder and breathe there, then change to the otherside.  Then drop the chin down to the chest and as you inhale raise the chin up to the sky.  Repeat this several times.
4.    Stand up for ardha chakrasana, as in the image above, hold for a few breath and repeat 3 times.
1.    Practice surya namaskar the sun salutations up to 6 rounds.
Setubandasana – bridge pose, practice holding for some time or 3 shorter rounds
1.    Chakrasana – the wheel pose, only attempt this if you are a more advanced practitioner.
1.    Matsyasana – the fish pose, try to hold for a minute and breath directly into the heart space.
1.    Rest again in savasana.
Dharnuasana – the bow pose, find the mid belly and rest there for as long as is comfortable and slowly increase the time. Do not practice if you are pregnant or have any sever back issues.
1.    Ustrasana – the camel pose, again breath into the heart space here.  You can lighten this pose by keeping your hands supporting your lower back, fingers to the hips thumbs touching each other.
1.    Shashankasan – childs pose.  Hold for as long as feels good to you and listen to the sound of your breath. Take your knees out wide and arms stretched out front if you are pregnant.
1.    Anahatasana- Melt your heart to the earth and release tension in the mid back, hold for as long as comfortable and follow your breath.
1.    Natarajasana – Dancing lord Siva, making sure you focus on a focal point and practice on both legs.
Ardha Chakrasana practice 3 times.
1.    Savasana for final relaxation and consciously relax each body part from the toes all the way through the body to the crown of the head. At least 10 minutes
2.    Sit in cross legged pose and chant AUM or your own prayer.

Always seek the guidance of a suitably qualified teacher.

AUM Lokha Somasta Sukhino Bhavantu
May all beings find harmony and balance

Let us all be well and happy and peaceful
Love from the heart
Mangala / Nicky

Please do contact me at if you would like a word document of this sequence with images of all the postures mentioned. OM shanti OM.