October 2018 LGY newsletter: On Intention

Today, 7am from 22 October 2018

Intention is everything, in life and in yoga. Intention focuses attention, brings to the practice the right attitude and, in turn fosters awareness. But setting the right intentions (compassionate, realistic, kind, achievable) is an art in itself. I have found that the simpler the intention, the more effective it is. My body likes to listen to clear instruction such as, to breathe deeply, from the pelvis, throughout my practice; or to find stillness in the poses rather than to fidget; or to not strive, to stay right where I am today. My intention is my midline: the place to return to, what tells me I am veering away or forgetting the kernel of my work. Every time I go back to it during my practice I am so grateful to have noticed. After all, intentions train the mind.

Like postures, setting and following intention is something I practice. It does not come as a given and every day is different, but I find that my focus increases if I am constant. Intentions also motivate me, keep me coming back.  What is your intention? Why do you practice yoga? What do you need to pay attention to today?

Laura x


What I have been watching
My friend Penny shared with me this video of Diane Bruni, her Toronto teacher. Diana is very experienced and generous. Here she shares how she became addicted to Ashtanga Yoga and the consequences of that, resulting in injuries. Injuries are great teachers, I find. While one would not want to encounter them often, they remind me that what we practice is not always that important. It is how we practice, what we bring to the postures, or whatever else we do. It is the intention that matters. How many times have I witnessed students who don’t bind in Marichyasana but are fully present, fold when they need to fold, twist when they need to twist. That is yoga right there. They are in the posture. The rest is decoration.

Being addicted to a practice, good as yoga is, is unhealthy. It is striving when we should be practicing non-attachment (vairagya) and not grasping (aparigraha). Striving takes you away from the present moment, from the relation between yourself and nowness that you are building through the yoga. For Ashtangis, it is easy to get carried away, though, which is why I learned very much from Diane’s video. To let go of grasping and to return to the present moment, have been my intentions ever since I watched it.


What I have been practicing
I love mantra signing, recitation and kirtan. Through my yin training, I have learned to recite the Gayatri Mantra, a very ancient song from the Rig Veda, in which the sun is honoured and asked to guide us. Mantra helps to calm my mind and my breath, to focus my intention, especially when repeated (11, 33, 108 times, as many as you want!). Singing brings about what is important to yoga: the diaphragmatic breath, slowing down and listening to the body, being more than doing, and sharing with others. It is very powerful.

I mainly do kirtan with my yoga philosophy teacher James Boag when he is in Glasgow. He has recently set up a youtube channel and he has some lovely lessons and mantras, which I am practicing. Sometimes, I am very grateful for technology! I have heard very good things about Dan Gronan’s kirtan in Glasgow too, and my friend Maureen is hosting him at the Old Barn on Sunday 25 November. A good opportunity to feel the beautiful vibrations of mantra!


What I have been reading
I am part of a regular meditation reading group (Club Med, we call it) and this month, we have been reading the first three chapters of Culadasa’s The Mind Illuminated. It is a lucid, comprehensive, clearly written book which outlines the meditative path, taking you step by step on this journey. It is not for the faint hearted because it is very detailed (500+ pages!) and takes you towards the spiritual more than the health side of meditation. Yet, it is exquisite in its simplicity. This is how he explains the power of intention (It is a long quote, but so worth it):

While it may not be obvious, all our achievements originate from intentions. Consider learning to play catch. As a child, you may have wanted to play catch, but at first your arm and hand just didn’t move in quite the right way. However, by sustaining the intention to catch the ball, after much practice, your arm and hand eventually performed the task whenever you wanted. “You” don’t play catch. Instead, you just intend to catch the ball, and the rest follows. “You” intend, and the body acts.

[…] Setting and holding the right intentions is what’s essential. If your intention is strong, the appropriate responses will occur, and the practice will unfold in a very natural and predictable way. […] Intentions lead to mental actions, and repeated mental actions become mental habits. […] Water these intentions with the diligence of regular practice, and protect them from the destructive pests of procrastination, doubt, desire, aversion, and agitation. These intentions will naturally flower into a specific series of mental events that mature to produce the fruits of our practice. Will a seed sprout more quickly if you keep digging it up and replanting it? No. Therefore, don’t let impatience or frustration stop you from practicing or convince you that you need to seek out a “better” or “easier” practice. Getting annoyed with every instance of mind-wandering or sleepiness is like tearing up the garden to get rid of the weeds. Attempting to force attention to remain stable is like trying to make a sapling grow taller by stretching it. Chasing after physical pliancy and meditative joy is like prying open a bud so it will blossom more quickly. Impatience and striving won’t make anything grow faster. Be patient and trust in the process. Care for the mind like a skilled gardener, and everything will flower and fruit in due time.


Open Classes
Until 13 December 2018
at the Arlington Baths, 61 Arlington Street Glasgow G3 6DT, as part of Rosina Bonsu’s programme:

Tuesdays, 18.15 – 20.30: Assisted Self-Practice (Mysore), £11 full price | £9 concession or included in the 8 class and unlimited cards.

Thursdays, 7.45 – 9.30: Assisted Self-Practice (Mysore), £11 full price | £9 concession or included in the 8 class and unlimited cards.

Short Courses
Friday 9 November, 18.00 – 19.30, Saturday 10 November, 12.00 – 13.30: Deepening your Breath (for yoga & life). Booking required. £40-£35 Arlington members, concessions / £30-£25 if you booked the previous course. +10% discount if you come to Assisted Self-Practice (Mysore) classes!

Royal Conservatoire of Scotland Classes
Wednesdays 18.00 – 19.00, Wallace Studios RS6: Ashtanga Yoga (Yin on new and full moon days), £3 or £10 for 4 classes.
Fridays 13.00 – 14.00, Renfrew Street M1: Ashtanga Yoga (Yin on new and full moon days), £3 or £10 for 4 classes.


September 2018 LGY Newsletter: On Expansion and Contraction

Today, 7am from 12 September 2018

In yoga, no two mornings are same, even if we do a series of poses day in day out. It is a practice of expansion and contraction, as my teacher Radha (who is coming to Glasgow in November) once said. Sometimes you get things, sometimes you lose them. And some times, they also return. This, in my experience, happens without warning, you don’t get up one day and say: ‘today is the day I will bind’ and then it happens. Although intention is extremely important (after all, yoga is a practice for the mind), this quality of expansion and contraction is there for us to keep practicing and to remain equanimous. As the famous saying goes, before enlightenment, chop wood; after enlightenment, chop wood. Whether you bind or not, it does not matter. What is important is staying present in all the facets of the journey, feeling that primordial pulsation, found in heartbeat and breath, and common to every thing. Pure expansion and contraction.
Now that the summer is gone (certainly in Glasgow) and the season is changing, I feel this expansion and contraction even more: adapting to the new rhythms and new patterns, letting go of what has been and not worrying about what is to come. I feel it all on my mat and I know that this, just this, is the work of yoga.

Laura x


What I have been watching
The Evolution of Yoga is a beautiful short film by Danny Paradise, where he explains why yoga is expanding, why more people are practicing, what it gives to the world. He also expands on the themes of this video for a longer podcast here. I like Danny a lot because, while rigorous and traditional, his practice is expansive, including elements of shamanism, and spiritual practices from other cultures. I met him briefly in Crete once, as he was teaching along the bay from us and came to say hello to Yoga Plus practitioners. 


What I have been practicing
Earlier in the month, I went to a backbend workshop with Kino McGregor at Sacred Heart Yoga in Edinburgh. Kino’s youtube channel has always helped me on the mat and, in person, she did not disappoint. She is very knowledgeable, clear and kind. In her workshop, she gave us 4 principles for backbends and I think they apply to everyone in every pose, all of the time: (1) Set appropriate goals. These can be simply to straighten the arms in urdhva dhanurasana, rather than backflip (2) Have positive internal dialogue and check yourself when you slip into negative chat. Yoga is an opportunity to befriend yourself. (3) Visualise what you are trying to achieve; keep the whole pose in your mind’s eye. (4) Constantly be aware of your breath as it is the window to your nervous system.

What is interesting about Kino’s approach to backbends, you will notice, is that the physical ability is not there in the principles. Of course, it is implied and needs to be built on, but for her it was not about turning the feet, lifting the ribs, relaxing the psoas etc (although she did instruct that too) but an opportunity to see how mind and body are connected. This really expanded my awareness of practice.


What I have been reading
I have been reading about the emotional effects of yin yoga, and trying to adapt my practice of this form to my needs in order to experience this more subtle aspect. Sarah Powers’ Insight Yoga offers a very useful matrix, I have been experimenting with on the mat.

– A Wood element practice, focusing on the liver and gallbladder, would balance anger and compassion;
– The Fire element in the heart and small intestine would work on hate and love;
– The Earth quality in the spleen and stomach would address the axis between anxiety and equanimity;
– The lungs and large intestine, which belong to the Metal element, levels sorrow and courage;
– The Water element in the kidneys and urinary bladder stabilises fear and wisdom.

As we find ourselves in the late summer season, it is the time for the Earth element, for grounding and foundation, for reflecting and taking things in (and yoga can help enormously with that). Sarah Powers also relates the elements to tastes and the one associated with this particular time is sweet so, what more is there to say? Enjoy all the season brings!


Until 13 December 2018
at the Arlington Baths, 61 Arlington Street Glasgow G3 6DT, as part of Rosina Bonsu’s programme:

Tuesdays, 18.15 – 20.30: Assisted Self-Practice (Mysore), £11 full price | £9 concession or included in the 8 class and unlimited cards.

Thursdays, 7.45 – 9.30: Assisted Self-Practice (Mysore), £11 full price | £9 concession or included in the 8 class and unlimited cards.

Fridays, 12, 19 October 16.30 – 18.00: Fundamentals of the Breath. Booking required. £40/£35 Arlington members, concessions / £70/£60 for both courses.

Friday 9, 16.30 – 18.00, Saturday 10 November, 12.00 – 13.30: Deepening your Breath (for yoga & life). Booking required. £40/£35 Arlington members, concessions / £70/£60 for both courses.


Ashtanga Yoga Opening chant

Vande Gurunam Caranaravinde
Sandarsita Svatma Sukhava Bodhe
Nih Sreyase Jangalikayamane
Samsara Halahala Mohasantyai
Abahu Purusakaram
Sankhacakrasi Dharinam
Sahasra Sirasam Svetam
Pranamami Patanjalim

I bow to the lotus feet of the Gurus,
The awakening happiness of one’s own Self revealed, Beyond better, acting like the jungle physician, Pacifying delusion, the poison of Samsara.
Taking the form of a man to the shoulders,
Holding a conch, a discus, and a sword,
One thousand heads, white,
To Patanjali, I salute.

Read about the meaning of this chant here.

Learn to recite it with Joey Miles here.

Ashtanga Yoga Closing Mantra

Swasthi-praja bhyah
Pari parla yantam
Nya-yena margena mahi-mahishasha
Lokaa-samastha sukhino bhavanthu

May prosperity be glorified.
May administrators rule the world with law and justice.
May all things that are sacred be protected.
And may the people of the world be happy and prosperous.

Learn to recite it with Joey Miles here.

Teaching Mantra

Saha Naav[au]-Avatu
Saha Nau Bhunaktu
Saha Viiryam Karavaavahai
Tejasvi Naav[au]-Adhiitam-Astu Maa Vidvissaavahai
OM Shaantih Shaantih Shaantih

May we be protected together
May we be nourished together
May we work together with energy and vigour
May our study be enlightening and luminous
and not giving rise to hostility or conflict of interest between us
May there be peace within us. May there be peace between us. May there be peace around us

Listen to Deva Premal singing it here.

Moon Days

The tradition says that Ashtanga yoga practitioners should not practice on the days of the new or full moon. The day you rest is the day of your regular practice time (morning or afternoon) nearest the new or full moon. I have taken the schedule from the lovely Ashtanga Yoga London.

My studios will not be closing but I will be offering a softer Mysore class or teaching Yin instead of Ashtanga on these days.


Sunday 06th ● new moon
Monday 21st ○ full moon

Monday 04th ● new moon
Tuesday 19th ○ full moon

Wednesday 06th ● new moon
Thursday 21st ○ full moon

Friday 05th ● new moon
Friday 19th ○ full moon

Saturday 04th ● new moon
Saturday 18th ○ full moon

Monday 03rd ● new moon
Monday 17th ○ full moon

Tuesday 02nd ● new moon
Tuesday 16th ○ full moon

Thursday 01st ● new moon
Thursday 15th ○ full moon
Friday 30th ● new moon

Saturday 14th ○ full moon
Saturday 28th ● new moon

Sunday 13th ○ full moon
Monday 28th ● new moon

Tuesday 12th ○ full moon
Tuesday 26th ● new moon

Thursday 12th ○ full moon
Thursday 26th ● new moon

August 2018 LGY Newsletter: On Clarity

Today, 6am from 28 August 2018

When I was in the Spanish Mountains with Kia, we discussed the concept of citta prasadanam, which she translated as sensory mindfulness. The Sanskrit term means, literally, ‘a mind with a sweet disposition’ and it is a state yogis aspire to.

Patanjali refers to it in Sutra 1.33: Maitri karuna muditopekshanam sukha duhkha punya-apunya vishayanam bhavanatash citta prasadanam. Those of you who have done my Sutras course know that this is one of my favourite sutras. It is very practical. Cultivating citta prasadanam does not need you to put your legs behind the head. Instead, Patanjali recommends an ‘attitude of friendship toward those who are happy, compassion toward those in distress; joy toward those who are virtuous, and equanimity toward those who are non-virtuous’ (to take Edwin Bryant’s translation). Then lucidity and clarity arise in the mind.

I am finishing my stay in south Crete, where I come every year to study with Radha and Pierre. It has been an amazing couple of weeks, full of learning and stability. I love coming here, enjoying the landscape, replenishing my energy, working with my teachers and doing the life audit Yoga Plus always invites me to do. I gain so much clarity in my practice, my view of life and yoga while here. I cannot wait to share it with you when my classes start next week. It has also been marvellous to spend time with my husband Neil, my friends, Rosina, and with Kia and her beautiful family, as well as meet new (and very interesting) yogis. I love expanding my yoga family! Rosina starts her classes on Monday, Kia is coming to Glasgow at the end of September, and Radha and Pierre will visit us in November. We are very lucky to host such dedicated and nurturing teachers and I hope some of you can join us at the Arlington Baths. Clarity will come!

Laura x


What I have been listening
Nature! Crete is my personal paradise on earth. Every time I come here (and it is my fourth year), I am surprised at how healthy it is to strip my life right back, to have and to do less. So I have been listening to the sea: the calmness of Agios Pavlos beach, the more risky sound of middle beach, the expansiveness of Akoumia beach. Simple sounds of nature. The cyclical nature of this makes me connect to my body, grounds me and allows my dreams to just happen. It is so important to be able to connect to oneself and the world, though listening, before Autumn comes.


What I have been thinking about
Yogis consider all sensory input part of their diet. For a while, I have been moving towards veganism but now I am also considering what I read, what websites I visit, what and whom I listen to. Before I thought of these as consumption, transactions that involved an exchange, but thinking of them as diet is deeper: you put them inside you and they change the chemistry of your body. Just as a vegan diet changed my health for the better, I feel considering digital consumption will also change my biochemistry and help men towards that clarity I mentioned above.


What I have been reading
Instead of reading (or perhaps as well as), this month I have compiled a list of books on my website. I often get asked, at the end of courses and sessions, what students could read to support them outside class. I have chosen only a few, the very best and the most helpful to me, and have organised them in sections on scriptures (essential, don’t be scared!), general books on yoga, asana manuals and pranayama. I will keep adding as I find more worthy titles. If there is a book or a website that has changed your yoga practice, I’d love to hear about it!


4 September – 13 December 2018
at the Arlington Baths, 61 Arlington Street Glasgow G3 6DT, as part of Rosina Bonsu’s programme:

Tuesdays, 18.15 – 20.30: Assisted Self-Practice (Mysore), £11 full price | £9 concession or included in the 8 class and unlimited cards.

Thursdays, 7.45 – 9.30: Assisted Self-Practice (Mysore), £11 full price | £9 concession or included in the 8 class and unlimited cards.

Fridays, 12, 19 October 16.30 – 17.45: Fundamentals of the Breath. Booking required. £26/£23 Arlington members, concessions / £45/£40 for both courses.

Fridays, 2, 9 November 16.30 – 17.45: Deepening your Breath (for yoga & life). Booking required. £26/£23 Arlington members, concessions / £45/£40 for both courses.

Saturday 15 September 14.00 – 16.00. Merchant City Yoga, £30. Booking essential!

Reading and Resources

I often get asked about readings and resources to support my students in their yoga journeys. Here are a few suggestions:


The Yoga Sutras
This would be my most essential read for any yogi. Sutra means thread, or threading, so don’t be dispirited if these short statements don’t reveal themselves to you instantly. They are meant to be thought about, practiced and discussed. Sometimes, you can get versions with helpful commentaries. My favourites are:

  • ‘The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali’ by Swami Satchidananda (it is very accessible and quite funny)
  • ‘The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali’ by Edwin Bryant (this one is very erudite, with lots of references)
  • ‘The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali’ by Chip Hartranft (this is a beautiful translation and commentary, brief and memorable, but it does not have the Sanskrit original, which I like)
  • My philosophy teacher also recommends:

  • ‘Patanjali Yoga Sutras’ by Rama Prasada
  • ‘Yoga Sutras of Patanjali’ by Mukunda Stiles
  • The Bhagavad Gita
    A must read for any yogi, this book goes deep into what yoga is (although not into how it is practiced).

  • ‘The Bhagavad Gita’ by Eknath Easwaran is very easy to read and has commentary at the beginning of each chapter.
  • ‘Srimad Bhagavad Gita’ by Ramesh Menon has the original Sankrit (useful if you chant or want to learn) and a nice, vivid translation.
  • Hatha Yoga Pradipika
    This is the classic technical manuals of yoga .Not an easy book, though! The versions I prefer are:

  • ‘Hatha Yoga Pradipika’ by Swami Muktibodhananda
  • ‘Hatha Yoga Pradipika: Translation with Notes from Krishnamacharya’ by A. G. Mohan and Ganesh Mohan.
  • Gheranda Samhita
    Another beautiful practical manual on asana and pranayama. David Garrigues recommends this translation (in which you also get the Hatha Yoga Pradipika and the Shiva Samhita):

  • ‘The Forceful Yoga: Being the translation of Hathayoga-Pradipika, Gheranda-Samhita and Siva-Samhita’ by Pancham Sinh, Rai Bahadur Shrisha Chandra Vasu.
  • Books about yoga

  • ‘The Great Work Of Your Life’ by Stephen Cope
  • ‘Bringing Yoga to Life: The Everyday Practice of Enlightened Living’ by Donna Farhi
  • Ashtanga Yoga asana manuals

  • ‘Ashtanga Yoga – The Practice Manual’ by David Swenson: my favourite! It has a ring binder format, so it is easy to practice with and it also contains David’s short forms, for when you only have 15, 30 or 45 minutes.
  • ‘Ashtanga Yoga Practice and Philosophy’ by Gregor Maehle: This is a more detailed, very well instructed and for those who want to delve deeper. It also contains a very commentary on the Sutras.
  • ‘Ashtanga Yoga – The Intermediate Series: Anatomy and Mythology’ (Ashtanga Yoga Intermediate Series)by Gregor Maehle: If you are exploring second series, the extensive detail in this manual will help. The commentary goes onto the reasons for the names of the poses and what we are meant to embody. I love it.
  • Books about pranayama

  • ‘Science of Breath: A Practical Guide’by Swami Rama Rudolph Ballentine & Alan Hymes: A short, powerful introduction, detailing the benefits of pranayama from a scientific and yogis point of view.
  • ‘Pranayama: the Breath of Yoga’ by Gregor Maehle is extraordinarily clear but I would not recommend it unless you practice regularly with a teacher.
  • July 2018 LGY newsletter: On support

    Guru Purnima, 2018
    I am sending you this newsletter from the beautiful Sierra Nevada mountains where I am doing an Ashtanga and Pranayama intensive with Kia Naddermier. The community around Kia is so amazing: experienced practitioners sharing insights, working Individually but also together in the presence of one of the most beautiful teachers I know. And today, 27 July, is guru purnima, a festival that celebrates the student-teacher relationship. So grateful to be here with Kia, honouring her with our yoga practice. Come to my classes and courses in the Autumn as I will be sharing all the gifts I am given by her and her assistants Helène and Maura. But, even better, Kia herself is coming to Glasgow 21 to 23 September. Maybe I will see you there?
    When I return early next week, I will be going straight to the final week of preparations for the performance of Warmed Air at The Anatomical Museum in Edinburgh. This promenade work explores levels of perceiving and experiencing the body, from the tangible sensations of one’s own body and the memories that form the stories of our bodies, to the relationship our bodies have with the sun. I am collaborating with wonderful performers: Laura Bradshaw, Paul Michael Henry, Steven Anderson, Ruth Pollitt and John Clark. I am so grateful to be able to create in this company. The work is part of the Edinburgh Art Festival pop up events programme. We are showing this work on Friday 10 August at 12 noon and 3pm only. If you want to come, you can get your tickets here.
    And to end a truly exceptional summer, I will be visiting Radha and Pierre in Crete for two weeks of morning Mysore and Breathing Bones with Rosina. There are, so far, 10 of us from Glasgow going. Thankfully, they are used to us as this is our fourth year.
    I hope you are having a beautiful, nourishing and supportive summer!
    Laura x
    What I have been listening
    I first came across David Garrigues though Peg Mulqueen’s Ashtanga Dispatch podcast and I was impressed by his no-nonsense approach and his insights, as well as his energy. He is not the kind of speaker that calms you down, but one that keeps you awake with questions we should be asking ourselves. Through his newsletter, I found out he was doing his successful Asana Kitchen as a podcast. The episodes are focused on specific topics merging asana with philosophy, classic scriptures and the lifetime experience of a dedicated practitioner. Have a listen while you relax!
    What I have been thinking about
    Buddhists have a beautiful word, sangha, which means community of practice. Kia calls it her extended yoga family. In Sankrit, it is saṃgha, but we do not use it as much.  Yet, every practitioner knows how important the concept is, whether it is due to the support it offers, or because we find ourselves missing it as we work alone. I do what I do so much better with my peers (whether in the actual Mysore room or online, for example, with the very nice Aṣṭāṅga (Ashtanga) Home Practitioners Network facebook group), just their breath and their energy, their presence and their help often carry my practice. Thank you, my saṃgha!
    If you want to do your yoga with someone, a group of us meets at the Arlington Baths in the morning to practice together. We chip in £2 to keep the space open and support each other through our sadhana. Get in touch if you want to join us.
    What I have been reading
    In September, I am going to do a Yin Yoga Teacher Training, so I have been reading a lot about the origins of Yin and its benefits to an Ashtanga practitioner. I am thinking of Yin as a support for my life, to balance my yang tendency and offer a fuller whole to what practice can be. I will also offer it to my practitioners, perhaps on new and full moon days as an alternative to Mysore and a softer way of befriending your body. But first, I must finish Bernie Clark and Sarah Powers’ books on my course reading list. Thankfully, I am getting lots of free time in Spain, resting by the pool. What are you reading this summer?
    I can announce my open classes and courses for Autumn 2018! I even have an ‘Introduction to Pranayama’ workshop at Merchant City Yoga. Join me for this special one-off or at any of my classes!
    4 September – 13 December 2018
    at the Arlington Baths, 61 Arlington Street Glasgow G3 6DT, as part of Rosina Bonsu’s programme:
    Tuesdays, 18.15 – 20.30: Assisted Self-Practice (Mysore), £11 full price | £9 concession or included in the 8 class and unlimited cards.
    Thursdays, 7.45 – 9.30: Assisted Self-Practice (Mysore), £11 full price | £9 concession or included in the 8 class and unlimited cards.
    Fridays, 12, 19 October 16.30 – 17.45: Fundamentals of the Breath. Booking required. £26/£23 Arlington members, concessions / £45/£40 for both courses.
    Fridays, 2, 9 November 16.30 – 17.45: Deepening your Breath (for yoga & life). Booking required. £26/£23 Arlington members, concessions / £45/£40 for both courses.
    Saturday 15 SEPTEMBER 14.00 – 16.00. Merchant City Yoga, £30. Booking essential!
    These classes will keep the summer going a little longer!