Multi-style Yoga Retreat Confirmed!

yoko yoga

I am super excited to collaborating with my good friend and acro yoga partner Yoko Swami on the first week of this year’s Morocco retreats.

Together we’ll be offering a unique opportunity to experience several different styles of yoga in one transformational week in beautiful Morocco this September. Whether you are a beginner looking to try out different classes to find a practice you really resonate with, or an advanced practitioner who wants to expand your yoga repertoire, you’ll enjoy the expert tuition of not one, but two teachers, delicious gourmet veggie cuisine and lots of free time to soak up the culture, surf or simply chill out at our stunning mountain riad.

Regular yoga retreats usually focus on one or two styles of yoga, but with so many classes on offer in studios all over the world, we recognise the need for students to have the opportunity to experiment with different styles to find the one that really fits their individual needs. In this 8 day retreat we’ll explore the very best of ashtanga, vinyasa flow, hatha, slow flow, meditation and pranayama (yogic breathing). There will be plenty of time to relax and explore the local area and of course both teachers will be available to advise you on your practice and yoga journey.

Yoko’s yoga journey began in India in 1998. He has since spent many years exploring life and spirituality in India, a country he feels deeply connected to. Yoko has experimented with various types of yoga and meditation techniques over the years, with a special interest in the work of Osho. However, he has always returned to the traditional teachings of ashtanga and hatha yoga, where he finds discipline and structure. Yoko enjoys embedding these values into his teaching, guiding students to explore and master this beautiful practice and helping them to link breath, asanas, and mind, so that their practice becomes a meditation in movement. As a teacher, Yoko specialises in physical adjustments to ensure a safe practice where students’ can improve and deepen their understanding of the postures. As an experienced assistant in yoga teacher trainings, Yoko is able to adjust students of all levels intuitively and mindfully to help them deepen their practice while honouring their physical limitations.

For full details of pricing and schedule please visit http://www.artandsoulyogaspace.com/morocco-retreats

We look forward to welcoming you in beautiful Morocco!

Have you practiced yoga today?

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As a teacher, I’m often asked how much yoga I ‘do’. When people ask this they’re usually referring to how much time I spend on my mat, and although yes, this is a vital part of any teacher’s day, my yoga is so much more than my physical practice. My answer is that I try to practice yoga all the time, in everything I do.

‘Yoga’ in its simplest form means ‘union’… to unite ourselves with the universe around us. Our ‘yoga’ can be the loving kindness we show to others, the compassion we develop for ourselves, looking after the environment and being grateful for the awesomeness of every day.

So if you don’t feel like banging out some sun salutations today, that’s perfectly fine 🙂 go spend some quality time with your family or with yourself instead. Rest, nurture, love, appreciate, respect, LIVE!! Now you’re practicing yoga!

https://www.facebook.com/events/365244797005277/

Morocco Retreats Announced!

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Happy Tuesday ❤️ Exciting news – I’ve been speaking to my friend Sam who owns a beautiful riad in Morocco about running a retreat there in September. Just putting the feelers out before I firm everything up. Please share this post with friends!!

Potential dates are …

Sat 19th – Sat 26th sept
or
Sat 26th sept – Sat 3rd oct

7 nights in a beautiful Moroccan riad, gourmet veggie food (menu looks so yummy!), 1 meditation and 2 yoga classes a day with me and lots of free time to explore amazing Morocco – souks, surfing, hammams, massages, a trip to Essoueira or just chilling and taking some well needed time for yourself. I spent 10 months working in Morocco in 2013/2014 and can honestly say it’s an amazing place! I’m so excited about going back 🙂

The price would be around £450-£550 for the week including accommodation, transfers, all yoga & meditation classes and 3 meals a day. Check out pictures of Sam’s beautiful venue at
https://www.facebook.com/TaghazoutlMountainRiad

Who’s interested in coming along?

Goodbye beautiful Morocco

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After 9 months teaching yoga in beautiful Morocco, its time to say goodbye.  I’ve had the most amazing time, met some truly wonderful people and learnt so much.  Above all I’ve come to realise just how little I need to be happy.  Having left most of my worldly possessions at home I’ve discovered that I miss none of it … all I need is beautiful people, a (not necessarily) comfy bed and my yoga mat of course… although the spectacular Moroccan coastline helps!

It is with a heavy heart that I leave the wonderful team at Surf Maroc but with excitement that I arrive back in the UK to start the next chapter of my journey.  Keep checking back for news of the official launch of ‘dance yoga’ at a major festival this year and details of local classes and pop-up workshops all over the UK

Happy summer with love x

Salute the Sun!

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NEWS: Sunrise classes have landed at Taghazout Villa, Surf Maroc!

Much respect for the 11 die-hard yogis who joined me this morning to salute the sun, it was great to share the practice with you 🙂

Join us to say hello to the day and wake up your body …

Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays (7am-8am) Taghazout Villa Roof Terrace

… The best way to start the day ❤

Disco Shala

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The end of another amazing retreat here at Villa Mandala with some truly awesome guests who really brought the shala to life! Personal highlight was rocking out in downward dog to Missy Elliot’s ‘Get Your Freak On’  at 7.30am this morning- you guys rule! Special thanks to Jess for finally helping get the dance yoga video online … Check out the video page (it works this time. Promise!)

Secret life of a yoga teacher

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So it’s been a pretty challenging week … Last Thursday I was involved in an accident resulting in second degree burns to my face, neck and throat and have been housebound for a week meaning no yoga, no working, no anything! I’m now thankfully on the mend although I’m still signed off work for another week.

All this time off has made me realise how much I miss teaching yoga and how lucky I am to have this as a career. I can’t wait to get back into teaching and practicing.

I’d like to share with you a beautiful article written by Chris Courtney which sums up how special it is to be a yoga teacher …

Teaching yoga may seem glamorous and exciting to some. It appears we have boundless energy, that we just do yoga all day long, stretching and relaxing.

We wish this was true. Teaching yoga is a job. A pleasure of course, but a job nonetheless. Here are some little known facts about what it’s like to teach:

We consider it a complete honor to teach you.

Guiding a group of people through a practice is such a humbling and moving experience that we’re sometimes on the verge of tears as the class ends—that’s the kind of impact it has on us.

Seeing the sincerity and vulnerability you bring to your practice, your courage in the face of fear, and experiencing your playfulness and sense of adventure when we show you something new is simply amazing.

Please realize that we’re human too.

Some days we’re tired, our body hurts, and we’d rather be kicking back on a lounge chair with a drink in our hand having our feet rubbed while someone fans us with palm fronds.

Yes, there are days when we’re not always feeling all charged up and ready to teach but we dig deep and bring our best anyway. Just like you, we have bills to pay, children to care for, and all of the usual “stuff” to deal with. So sometimes we may seem not quite as cheery when class begins but the beautiful thing is that just a few minutes into teaching you, everything shifts and we’re getting just a yoga stoned as you are.

We’re not perfect (far from it) and sometimes our best efforts will fall short but let’s make a deal; you bring your best each time and so will we!

Do you have any idea how thrilling it is for us to watch you progress?

Our favorite classes are the ones when we see one or more of you break through a barrier or progress in an asana—and we’re still grinning about it the next day. We all remember the milestones in our practice (including back when we couldn’t even touch our toes) so seeing you progress and grow is one of the non-monetary ways we get paid.

We still remember your first headstand like a proud parent and we especially love it when you do something we can’t do anymore (or never could). So, please keep coming to class and keep practicing!

Teaching beginners, people with debilitating injuries, and special populations is a much bigger challenge for us since it requires more training, patience, and attention.

Some teachers avoid these classes altogether and we think they are missing out.

The easiest thing in the world is to teach a bunch of young, fit, and bendy people in an intermediate or advanced asana class. It’s like teaching a bunch of birds to fly—they already know how!

Recently we interacted with an up and coming celebri-yogi who claimed that all they want to do is teach young and healthy people. Well, of course! You don’t need to modify poses, make adjustments, or even pay a lot of attention when teaching young, healthy, and fit yogis. They more or less know the poses, they are less likely to get hurt (and if they do, they can just walk it off), and they progress rapidly.

BUT! For those long time teachers, with years of experience teaching, that have experienced injuries and illnesses, and the limitations that come with age, it is a joy! Teaching those that need yoga (and those with physical limitations and illnesses really need yoga!) is so much more satisfying. Watching the progress of someone struggling to walk again, or alleviating chronic pain is more satisfying than seeing you do a flawless handstand, or sitting on your head.

Sometimes when certain students show up, we get excited and know it’s going to be a great class because of the amazing energy they bring with them.

Sometimes we’ll even encourage them to place their mat in a certain spot where their radiant energy can infect more students in the class. Yes, dear yoga student, sometimes your teacher needs a little extra boost and we’re blessed when you cannot just take energy from the class, but to bring and share it as well.

A class is a group experience, and the energy you bring with you affects the entire room! So, put aside your stinkin’ thinkin’ as you lay out your mat, and be open to change your mood and your mind. Yoga affects the most subtle aspects of our selves. Bring your best to every class, even if it’s the worst day of your life. There is solace and love to be found in our practice and our communities!

As we often say, a yoga class is like energetic stone soup, we all bring what we have with us to class, and make it a sincere offering which is mixed together. What is then served back to us is greater than what we gave, and exactly what we need!

Okay, it’s no secret, but we do this because we love it—really.

We sure aren’t doing it for the money! Sometimes we’re only getting $2-3 of that $15 drop in fee you paid and if you’re attending a yoga festival, we’re usually not getting paid at all. Oh yeah, and we paid $4 to park there too and you’ll notice our car is not a Lexus but a beat up old Datsun with 230,000 miles on it. At a lot of studios, the yoga teacher is the poorest person in the room—something to remember.

We spend many years and thousands of dollars training to develop these skills and techniques to serve you and most teachers will never recoup materially what they’ve put into that. We do it because we want to share the beautiful gift of this practice, even when it means that doing so requires a sacrifice on our part. So please, respect this.

Also, keep in mind that keeping us after class for 10, 15, or 30 minutes is taking away our time, as well as studio time. Most classes are back to back. This can delay the next class from beginning, and steals time from the teacher of the next class, as well as all the students waiting for the space to be clear.

When our day is done, we want nothing more than to get home, eat, and, perform our necessary chores….maybe even practice ourselves! If you need that much time and have so many questions, book your teacher for a private lesson or consultation. Yes, it costs more. But, the information and personal attention you get in one session can transform your entire practice!

We really wish we could be more helpful when you ask us for advice on medical conditions and psychiatric issues but we are not trained and equipped to deal with them, nor would it be ethical for us to do so.

C’mon, our 200 or 500 hour training certificates (and many of us do spend a lot of extra time studying anatomy and physiology) do not come close to the years of study that goes into medical school and residency!

If there is a kink in your body, our training and experience can help to determine if there is something in your practice causing it or an asana to help it. If you are feeling down and confused, we have enormous supplies of compassion to share. Want some advice on your love life? Oh, we can always give you our opinion (which is exactly worth what you pay for it)! But beyond that, you need to go see a doctor, physical therapist, psychiatrist, therapist, or marriage counselor for anything else.

We don’t practice asana that often.

It’s true. And sad. But so much of our energy goes into your practice! Most of us have a full-time job and teach part-time. That means a full day working at a desk (where our bodies can get stiffer than yours), followed by a mad dash to get to class so we can teach. Some of us teach full-time. That means 3-5 classes a day. If we’re lucky, they are at the same place. If not, we spend more time in transit than teaching.

Would we rather be practicing? Of course! The more we practice, the more we have to offer. But, it takes a lot more effort for us to find the time and energy to practice than you’d expect.

The secret: long time teachers are the ones that have found a way to teach and maintain their personal practice. So if you want the best possible class, find a long-time teacher/practitioner. Hint: They’re probably going to be older, have some gray hair, and not wearing the sexiest yoga clothes.

Just because we can do it, doesn’t mean we can teach it! Or, Just because we can’t do, doesn’t mean we can’t teach it.

A friend recently told us she didn’t want to do yoga anymore because it was too much like “performance art”. That made us sad. But, with yoga festivals having celebri-yogis perform asana “shows” (we used to call those ‘demonstrations’ but there was no rock band or light show), and a barrage of videos and photos on social media, it is no wonder people have that impression.

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But, just because you can do a pose doesn’t mean you can teach it. A gymnast can perform asanas better than a yogi. A monkey can perform them better than a gymnast! While taking a class from a monkey may be interesting (and messy since they like to throw pooh), it may not be the transformative experience you’re looking for.

If we demonstrate a pose, it’s to show that pose and it’s progression, not to show off. If we are in fact showing off, please stop coming! It means we need an ego check and your lack of attendance sends a clear message.

We love seeing you connect and create friendships with other students, being inclusive and welcoming new people into the community.

This is how communities are born, how they grow, and how they thrive.

Community is an important part of the practice. In our communities we can share our joys and sorrows, and find strength when we are weak and share our strength when others need it. We learn more and grow more – together. Our spiritual communities are actually what keep us on our path, keep us teaching even if we are sacrificing financial comfort, weekends, health insurance, and dinners with our families.

It is our community that teaches us our most important lessons. Because it is in our communities that we see ourselves reflected first in students, and gradually, in all things. The biggest truth is that teachers are really just students. We teach to learn from you! And just like you, we are trying, just like you, to improve our practice, master our bodies and minds, and get back to our true Self.

– See more at: http://yoganonymous.com/the-secret-life-of-a-yoga-teacher-10-things-you-might-not-know-chris-courtney-maya-devi-georg/#sthash.6RXeq7Mo.UJ1fWOgA.dpuf

A day in the life of a double yoga retreat

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So we’ve just finished two back to back yoga retreats with our lovely guests and its fair to say we’re absolutely shattered … 4 days off coming up though!!

Just thought I’d share my daily schedule with you …

6am – get up (yes really!)

7am – arrive at Villa Mandala to prep the studio

7.30am – teach a 2 hour dynamic class

9.30am – breakfast with guests

11.00am – surf lesson and yoga practice

4.00pm – arrive back at the villa to do a bit of admin and eat cake 😉

5.00pm – teach either restorative yoga at Villa Mandala or dynamic class at Taghazout Villa

7.30pm – dips and drinks with the guests

8.00pm – host dinner

9.30pm – leave Villa Mandala

10.30pm – home, gin, natter & flop into bed

Repeat until knackered!

The curse of Tamri

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So this is Tamri … Fast, strong, uneven waves … And the bane of my life. So far I’ve surfed this point 4 times and injured myself 3 of those times … currently recovering from a cracked/bruised rib and nursing a newly twisted ankle. As I write this I’m sitting waiting to teach my open yoga class at the surf camp wondering how I can demo the postures without causing more damage and sneezing sea water … Attractive.

My love hate relationship with Tamri (love the bigger faster waves, hate the strong current) has caused me to rethink my attitude to surfing. Being the competitive type I  am I’ve realised it’s not always good to “go big or go home” but to be gentle and patient with yourself. Perhaps it’s time to apply the attitude of a yogi on the surfboard as well as off it.

But I will I be able to pull back and have a rest from sitting out back? Watch this space

Bolster hugging <3

Phew, so made it home without A) falling down one of the huge manholes in the road, B) getting bulldozed by 20 trash eating goats intent on forming a barricade, or C) getting completely lost in the pitch black and ending up halfway to Agadir.
Im now a month into teaching my first yoga retreat and learning to surf – currently trying to ride green waves and can now stand up on my board and ride in – progress!! I’m also now driving in Morocco which is crazy – cars swerving in and out of lanes and groups of pedestrians having conversations in front of your (moving) car … Good skills. Also teaching restorative yoga for the first time which is so different to my ashtanga background. My last class was 90 minutes long and my students wide a total of 6 lovely bolster hugging postures – it’s so lovely seeing people totally relax and the feedback has been awesome 🙂
Off to the souk with our guests tomorrow to try out my bartering skills also heading over to paradise valley to dive into waterfalls 🙂
Namaste 🙂
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