New class ~ Surfers' stretch!

Tuesdays 6.30-7.30pm

A short sweet yoga session suitable for beginners and surfers or athletes looking to improve mobility. 

Ease out tight shoulders and neck, and improve hip and back flexibility. Move with ease and protect yourself against injuries. The class will include gentle warm up poses and beginner ashtanga sequence. The pace is slow and modifications are offered for all abilities. It's a great way to learn the fundamentals and improve your overall strength and flexibility. 

daily practice challenge

The Daily Practice challenge has raised some interesting questions…


2/Does another type of yoga class ‘count’ as a practice?

3/How much do I have to do?

So i’ll try to answer all 3 (from my point of view)

Ashtanga yoga as a method has some defining ingredients that when combined “work”…

Firstly, what do I mean by “work”? I mean the practitioner starts to feel a sense of depth or increased understanding or benefit, eg changes in their body such as increased flexibility or strength, greater comfort in some poses, relaxed state of mind or new perspective, emotional release, personal contentment. All kinds of things are noticed.

One of these main ingredients is daily practice. Sometimes new changes/benefits are noticeable after practicing just once per week, but they quickly disappear and the thread is somewhat broken by the next week. The more we practice the more we are aware or can observe the changes growing. It’s pretty simple. That is the “why?” in a nutshell.

How much practice do I need to do each day? In short - not much! Even just sun salutes can offer a lot of opportunity for observing change. 10-15 mins? I’m actually starting to think “less is more” (and more often). Better focus and slower movement with the breath can be more beneficial than a quick sprint through the primary series.

And as for the second question “Does another type of yoga class ‘count’ as a practice?” - for the challenge I created the sub rule : ) that all the practices need to be ashtanga because I was really interested in people diving into their personal practice not another teachers sequence or information. But I think in general, YES, all yoga is good! It’s good to try other classes and especially here in Gisborne there are a lot of great quality teachers!

The elephant in the room...

The Pattabhi Jois scandal, as part of the wider reaching #metoo movement, is a delicate issue but an important one. Within the nz ashtanga community there does seem to be a general silence; disbelief or denial I'm not sure. We prefer to sit on the fence rather than create a divisive situation and possibly offend people close to us. Usually it is non-ashtanga yoga people who will raise the issue and ask me what I think about the allegations about Pattabhi Jois' misconduct and when I am really on the spot I realise there is no neutral position to take. Reactions online seem to range from one extreme to the other.

"Nope, didn't/couldn't happen; he is my guru; I was there and that never happened to me"

"I wasn't there so I cannot say"

"Yep definitely some unwanted and inappropriate 'adjustments' happened"

"Shit I was there, I knew that was happening but I didn't think about it like that and I'm so sorry"

"Prosecute somebody, sue someone..."

I met Pattabhi Jois in Mysore in 2001, I practiced with him for a couple of months, he was less active when I went back in 2004. I thought he was happy and strict, and kinda cute but scary. I wanted his praise and I never experienced anything that seemed creepy. I heard stories from other people (that sometimes they seemed oddly pleased to mention) about his hands in wrong places and odd adjustments that for example you wouldn't typically receive in a NZ yoga studio. Our truth usually relies on the combination of our perception and experience but damn the video footage is hard to argue with. I only watched it once and I don't want to see it again. My initial reaction was absolute disbelief, photoshop I naively hoped! But now there are so many accounts and varied subjective reactions that I don't think we can reasonably argue that it was all ok or never occurred. I would like to find a reason, an excuse, an explanation, because as ashtangis we believed in him as a guru. But now there's a slow splatter of realisations that means we have to get past the initial disbelief and start to unbelieve in him. The guru has really crashed down off the pedestal and the real dilemma is that we then start to doubt the entire method. At the end of the day though I realised my belief in the 'practice' actually comes from the real experience of doing it and is quite separate from the human teaching it. No teacher is perfect, all yoga teachers are flawed humans as capable of mistakes as anyone else. This is not an excuse for KPJ or anyone that abuses their position of power but I see this shift in understanding as one of the positive changes in the current evolution of ashtanga.






Gizzy Yoga July + August

I'm offto Bali to go get my yoga butt kicked oops inspired by Mark Robberds.

While I am away Leigh Hindmarsh will look after the Gizzy classes with a reduced schedule Aug 3- Sept 3

Monday Mysore 5pm + Beginners 5.30-6.30pm

Tuesdays Beginners 6.30-7.30pm

Thursdays Mysore 9am 28 Sirrah St, Okitu

I admire Leigh's yoga practice because she lives and loves ashtanga as a daily practice in a healthy way (it shows!). She is an inspiration to anyone starting their yoga journey later in life. I believe Leigh started at 40. Many people tell themselves that age is a limitation for progression but Leigh continues to grow stronger yet softer, and practices the intermediate ashtanga sequence with a steady consistency and wisdom and will learn Advanced A in her 60's. The learning is obviously more than just physical, it's experiential., and has helped her through a lot of life's challenges. I asked her to tell us a bit about her yoga history. 

KIRI: When and Why did you start Yoga?

LEIGH: I started Ashtanga nearly 20 years ago, when my hair started falling out. I was diagnosed with Alopecia and shaving head and yoga was a suggestion from a natural therapist/friend. I did both and finally found myself in control of this random experience. The physicality, repetition and dancelike movement had me hooked from the first class. We lived 110km from Gisborne so I only managed to come down once a fortnight, but purchased Beryl Benders Power Yoga book to help me at home. I was dedicated and practiced 5 days a week. About 2011-12, a couple of friends wanted to learn Ashtanga from me, that grew  and I found myself taking 3 classes a day 5 day a week. I then found I wanted to keep students and myself safe, adjusting and decided some formal training was needed. Ashtanga teacher training was limited and lengthy, hence the Purna training.

KIRI: What courses etc have you done or influences have you had?

LEIGH: Right the formal stuff. Purna Yoga YA200 2012, Workshops with Mark Robberds, Matthew Sweeney, Dena & Jack, Peter Sanson, Gregor Maehle, John & Lucy Scott,Nicky Knoff, Martina, Steph also did part  teacher training(bailed)Katie Lane (Anusara, but she has her own style now), Maria @ Reset , Aerial silks, golly and many more. 

KIRI: What do you love about yoga? What have been it's biggest benefits for you?

LEIGH: Ashtanga to me, is like breathing a necessity . The series of movements that come with it, a dance which I find (most of the time) stills my mind and I hope makes me a better person. I mentioned earlier I loved the physicality, but I quickly learnt through haste and  injury, that slow, steady and continuity helped my practice. I  have great teachers Peter, who has worked with my injuries , Hep C treatment, and post surgery. I still managed to practice through it all, even if it was just sitting on mat during his workshops. And you Kiri, we are so lucky to have you in our lives. Love your relaxed , but oh so good technical dialogue , which will see me happily practicing for another 20 years++.

KIRI: What advice would you give for anyone on their yoga journey?

LEIGH: Yoga tips!  -just step on the mat and see what happens.


There will Literally Always Be A Reason Not To Do It. (Mel Robbins)

We all have them - excuses or reasons not to practice! ...too hot, too tired, too cold, too much to do, too sore, too stressed... honestly I have less legitimate excuses than most people but I can still find one.  I have self practiced for years though so I have to learnt to ignore myself or it probably would never happen! I make the decision to stand on the mat, and then start to breathe and raise my arms up and then exhale bend forward, it feels pretty shit, the body is resistant, the mind is not convinced it can focus on this and says "you could stop now" but I keep going, the breath lengthens, the muscles start to feel happier, the mind says "oh I quite like this let's keep going" and then "oh yeah I love yoga!" and there's some glitches here and there, things are hard and I want to stop, I fiddle with my toenails and think about checking my phone but I get back into the sequence, inhale move exhale. And after a while i realise it's a privilege to be able to do this, to have an able body, some spare minutes, a moment to myself.  Plus we always feel better, sometimes the more excuses you push aside; the more satisfied you feel afterwards. Sometimes the more pain you have in the beginning; the more relief you feel in the end. Ignore the excuses and hope on the mat!