Midwinter yoga

for the season of deep rest and festive dreamings

Of all the reasons to include yoga in your life, I think learning to listen is the most impactful. It helps you recognise when you’re off balance (emotionally, energetically, as well physically) and provides the tools to bring yourself back to equilibrium.

A yoga practice teaches us to slow down and notice what is often missed in the busyness of life. Even the simplest weekly practice helps us become more patient, towards others and ourselves: maybe just a bit more compassionate and willing to give time to ourselves and to others, whatever is going on in life. 

When we move in a conscious and intelligent way on the yoga mat, we learn to listen to what our body needs, what it loves and what it doesn’t. That level of attention flows out into the rest of life.

You may have seen in the media recently a study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine linking a person’s ability to balance on one leg with their anticipated longevity. Over a period of ten years, the study group of 51-75 year olds were tested on their capacity to hold a steady balance for 10 seconds. The inference being that lack of balance, stability and proprioceptive awareness contributes significantly to risk of falls and injury as we age. As you know, a good yoga practice works on all those skills, building awareness and confidence, whatever our starting point or our physical limitations. If you want to read more, I found the Guardian article really interesting. 

We’re in the season of slowing down. I’ve come to love this period of darkening days between Samhain and the Winter Solstice as a time to deepen my listening. Reducing commitments and enjoying the excuse to hunker down and get cosy of an evening helps me become still and to rest. And from that rest, I can more easily hear my own thoughts and respond to the subtle needs of my whole being. 

How is it for you? Do you love or loathe the dark nights? 

I firmly believe that the more I drop down into the darkness and embrace the expanding nighttime, the more excited I am about Christmas and the return of the light. There’s good reason why nearly every culture around the world has a midwinter festival to mark the gently increasing hours of daylight at the end of December. We celebrate what we need, the return of the light, for the health of mind, body and spirit! And to really enjoy it, we need its opposite – to know and respect the value of sitting and listening in the darkness.

The weekly yoga classes over the midwinter period will reflect this pivotal point in the seasons – dropping down into hibernation as the nights continue to draw in, before celebrating the re-emergence for Solstice and Christmas, and then the fresh new feel of a new year. 

All the dates and details are here. 

I’m now recording the online classes and anyone who signs up for the block, but misses a class, will be able to access the recording for up to seven days afterwards. Also useful if you have lots of parties on the run up to Christmas and don’t want to miss your yoga practice!

Email me for more info and to book your place.

Yoga is for every season of life

What does it mean to be strong, at this time of your life? Where do you need to strengthen up?

As a post-menopausal yoga teacher, I’m re-evaluating my practice and pondering how acceptance, determination, humour and compassion relate to my experience of physical and emotional strength.

Whatever our age, our ability and our needs, finding the right rhythm and flow of movement in every season helps us to find ease and calm. Yoga is a comprehensive mind-body-spirit practice that can take us on that journey through every season of life.

If this is interesting to you, some spaces have become available in my weekly yoga classes. Friday morning in Minehead, and online on Tuesday morning and Thursday evening.

I suggest that people come along and experience how I teach before making a commitment. Get in touch for a chat.

Keeping a Cool Head

As we enter yet another hot spell, I thought I’d remind you about Sitali pranayama – the cooling breath.

It can really help to cool the head and bring a feeling of calm to the mind. It’s also the breathing practice that comes in very useful for menopausal hot flushes, and also if you get flushes because of hormone-based medications. 

Trying adding it to your daily practice to help regulate body temperature, and use it for immediate relief too. 

Why do it?
Sitali is an unusual breathing technique in that we inhale through the mouth and exhale through the nose. Normally, best practice is to inhale nasally, as the first line of our immune defence is a combination of the nasal hairs and mucus that capture the ‘alien invaders’ before they can enter the body (pollen and dust, other microscopic particles and germs). So it’s a practice to do indoors, in a space that isn’t dusty or contaminated. 

The benefits are many-fold. The incoming air is cooled by the saliva in the mouth as it passes over the tongue and this has a pleasingly cooling effect in the mouth.

On an energetic level, the yogic texts say that sitali cools the higher chakras without extingushing the digestive fire. Basically, it brings a calmness into the upper regions of the pranic/energy body (head and heart area), without diminishing the fire in our belly. It helps us to get on and do things. 

I personally think that a lot of its benefit is purely in making us stop for a moment and focus simply on breathing. When the going gets hot, our minds can begin to jump ahead and catastrophise, making the whole situation even more uncomfortable. Sitali brings a cooling of the mind, which is why it’s a lifesaver during hot flushes, and can be equally as useful to intersperse through your asana practice on a warm day. It might also help you survive a heatwave!

How to do it
Curl up your tongue into a tube, like a straw, and breathe in slowly. Close your mouth and breathe out softly through your nose. 

Five or six slow breaths should do the trick to cool you down, but repeat until you feel the benefit. 

If you can’t curl your tongue it’s your parents’ fault! – it’s genetic and some people just can’t do it. Instead, smile with your teeth showing and breathe across the tongue with it almost touching the roof of your mouth. Works just as well!

I hope it’s helpful over the coming days. Let me know how you get on!!

Online Yoga – free taster session

Come and try out Tracey’s accessible approach to yoga, get comfortable using Zoom, and start reaping the benefits to your health and wellbeing

Join me on Tuesday 16th August at 10am for an hour’s introduction to yoga, with some time afterwards to ask questions and find out about the weekly classes on Tuesday mornings and Thursday evenings starting in September.

This is NOT a yoga class where you watch me and follow along with what I’m doing! (I’ve seen plenty of that and it’s not my idea of teaching an accessible yoga practice).

I teach online in the same way I do in-person. I will be keeping an eye on you whilst I’m guiding you into yoga movements and postures. I’ll demonstrate some things and practice alongside you if I think that’s helpful, but most of the time you’ll be focused inwards and not watching the screen. You’ll be listening to my invitations to follow your own sensations and inclinations.

It’s perfect for beginners, as well as those of you with experience who maybe haven’t found quite the right class amongst the vast array of online yoga offerings.

My approach is not at all unique (and I am indebted to all my wonderful teachers) but I know many of you are hesitant about doing yoga via the internet. The proliferation of pre-recorded ‘lock-down’ yoga classes has put a lot of people off and I want to reassure you that online yoga is not all about youthful bodies doing relentless sun salutations and complicated vinyasa flow sequences.

In my classes we take our time. Everyone works at their own pace – that’s one of the rules! And we interact and have fun. It’s like being in a room together AND you are also in the wonderful comfort and security of your own home. No travelling (with rising petrol costs!); no interruptions from the person snoring through the relaxation on the mat next to you; you can focus all your attention on your practice and your experience; and your cat/dog is more than welcome to join in. What’s not to like!

If you can move with reasonable ease from standing to kneeling to lying down, then you’ll manage very well in my classes. Most of the people who come are wanting to retain strength and mobility as they age – and some of them are over 80 years old, so it must be working! That’s not to say that we shy away from flowing sequences or a strong plank pose. But the focus is on individually-appropriate movements, done in a fully embodied way and in a spirit of curiosity.

In this free class, we’ll do some movements, you’ll get a lovely relaxation, and we can also address any practical issues or tech questions you might have. I want to make it easy and enjoyable for you to benefit from online yoga. And everyone CAN benefit from it, I promise you!

Ready to have a go?

Email me to register your name and to receive the Zoom link. If you have any health issues going on at the moment, it would be good to know so I can offer adaptations and alternatives as needed. Let me know in your email.

Any questions?email me and I’ll do my best to help.

One last thing… If you are interested but unable to attend a daytime class, please get in touch. If there is demand for it, I’ll run a taster class on an eveningtime and you’ll be welcome to join the regular Thursday evening session in September.

Knowing What’s Good for You

A nourishing day of yoga for World Meditation Day – Saturday 21st May 2022

Through a seasonally-themed yoga practice and lots of playful inquiry, this is a day to delve deeply into what’s good for you and return back into the world feeling relaxed and refreshed. 

I’m really excited about doing workshop days again, especially after such a long break, and I hope you’ll be able to join me.

I think you’ll enjoy this day if….

  • You yearn for a space to deeply relax and reconnect to yourself in uncertain times
  • You want more depth in your practice than happens in a weekly class
  • You like the idea of meditating, but haven’t found an approach that suits you
  • You’re curious about why you do and say the things you do
  • You find yourself saying ‘yes’ when you really mean ‘no’ (and vice versa!)
  • The last two years have somehow left you wondering what it is you really do want in life
  • You simply love spending a whole day enjoying your yoga and being in good company!

The day will run from 9.45am – 4pm. To keep it affordable, we’ll bring packed lunches and I’ll provide tea and coffee. 

The morning session will be an indepth yoga practice, including pranayama and relaxation; and following a coffee break, we’ll explore movement as meditation. 

There’ll be a generous break for lunch so you can go for a walk and get some fresh air (there’s an outdoor gym next to the hall, should you feel inclined to be more active!).

In the afternoon, we’ll delve a little more into what is good for us; exploring our Yes and our No; sitting quietly and listening for the voice inside that knows what we want; and exploring some postures from Embodied Yoga Principles that you can take off the mat and into life. 

The day will end with one of my unique semi-scripted, seasonal yoga nidra journeys, to guide you into a state of relaxed daydreaming and deep-felt replenishment. 

If that sounds delicious, get in touch quickly to book your space.

The day is aimed at people who’ve done at least a little yoga before, but it will also be interesting and accessible to beginners who are reasonably physically fit (able to move comfortably from standing to kneeling and sitting the floor).

Click here for all the details and how to reserve your place.

Autumn Breathing Space

Friday 29th October, 7.30pm – 8.30pm online

Yoga nidra is a beautiful space of receptivity and physical and emotional rest. Through becoming quiet and peaceful, we can listen more attentively to the voice of our intuition. You might have experienced a taste of this in the short relaxation at the end of a yoga class. As your body sinks into softness and your mind becomes more spacious, new ideas bubble up. Problems that were lurking around in the back of your mind suddenly have easy solutions. Inspiration arrives or a decision is made. The receptive state allows deeper knowing to break through the surface noise of everyday thoughts. 

In the Breathing Space, we create the crucible for this transformation to happen. Through simple, breath-based meditation, we dial-down the mental noise. Then we let the body relax completely and through that relaxation we enter a space of conscious self-awareness. And that is where the hands and heart open to receive the gifts of yoga nidra.

Curious? Come and join me on Friday evening for the first of a regular monthly gathering.

We’ll begin with a short, guided seated meditation (sit on the floor or a chair or the sofa), followed by a lovely long relaxation to take you into the state of yoga nidra. Have a cosy nest of cushions and blankets ready for lying down on the floor. 

Get in touch for the zoom link. Entry is by donation.

The Breathing Space is back!

Celebrate the energy of the Autumn Equinox – 7.30pm Friday 24th September

The sun is still warm and the nights are drawing in. It’s time to grab your blankets and get ready for yoga nidra.

Yes, the Breathing Space is back!
This is a regular monthly retreat into a calm headspace. An hour of self-care where I lead you through a centring guided meditation and an inspiring and deeply physically relaxing yoga nidra. 

Come and join me in zoomland on Friday evening and let your body-mind rest and replenish. Let the insights of the lingering season bubble up inside you. This is a liminal, dreamy time as late summer mellows into autumn. A time to celebrate and appreciate what you’ve achieved this year, to harvest the gold of your learning and your wisdom. 

We reach the autumn equinox on Wednesday, when the northern hemisphere begins its gradual tilt into the darker months of the year. Align yourself with the planet and take a moment to integrate summer’s abundance and move confidently towards winter with a deep feeling of gratitude.

Get in touch for more details and the zoom link.

Summer Sanctuary Breathing Space

Meditation and yoga nidra, on Zoom, Friday 18th June 7.30pm-8.30pm

As we approach the solstice and midsummer, it’s time to embrace the fullness of the lovely long days and the balmy evenings…and also to enjoy the quieter moments, when we can retreat into ourselves and just watch the world go by.

Sometimes we need to create that sanctuary of peacefulness and that’s what I offer in the Breathing Space… quite literally a breather from everyday life. An hour to gift to yourself as relaxation and a recharging, so you can go back out into the world feeling more centred and energised. 

We begin with a simple guided meditation that you can do sat on the floor or in a chair. Then I’ll invite you to lie down and get comfortable for the yoga nidra – a deeply relaxing and healing process that stimulates the imagination, brings you into deeper awareness of your body and felt sensations, and settles you ready for a good night’s sleep. 

Email me for the Zoom link, or ask to join my mailing list and you’ll automatically receive the link each month.

A donation is very much appreciated, whatever you are able to at this time. Direct to me (ask for bank details) or via Paypal to traceyrobertsyoga@hotmail.co.uk (if you choose ‘payment to friends or family’ there is no fee taken from your donation). 

I look forward to seeing you in the Breathing Space!