Introducing Naama Zusman


Naama Zusman will begin teaching ashtanga yoga on Saturday mornings at Kula. Below we talk to her about all things yoga.


How did you get into yoga?

I’ve been practicing yoga since 2004, when I joined my very first hatha yoga class.

When did yoga become a priority?

A few years after my first class I discovered the practice of ashtanga yoga and I was immediately hooked. It didn’t take long before I became fully devoted to the traditional ashtanga method and it became a way of life.

Where did you study to become a yoga teacher?

I completed my Yoga Alliance Intensive Training with Kino MacGregor and Tim Feldman at the Miami Life Centre in 2014 and have been teaching ever since.

Who’s your biggest inspiration?

My grandmother! She became a vegan in the 70’s and she’s such a warrior. She passed down a lot of knowledge about healthy living that came from my great grandfather—who was a raw vegan naturopath.

What’s your favourite healthy snack?

Avocado.

What’s your favourite yoga pose?

Any pose that gets me out of my comfort zone and stretches my limiting beliefs.

If you could study with any yogi, past or present, who would it be?

Sri K. Pattabhi Jois.

Mysore or Bihar?

Mysore–I first travelled to Mysore in 2016 to practice ashtanga under the guidance of R.Sharath Jois, and returned this year to carry on my practice with Sharath.


Fuerteventura: Yoga, and So Much More

Where do I even begin when trying to convey what a wonderful trip this was? I didn’t even know that Fuerteventura existed before Yoga Kula posted this retreat onto their website, but now I will never ever forget it, and I am just waiting for an opportunity to get myself back out there!

Let’s start with the Villa. It is a modern, minimalist, heaven. Think meditation gardens, think lava rock walls, think mountain views and beautiful sunsets. Not at all what I expected. We had a gorgeous pool, multiple chill-out spaces and all our yoga was outside—an amazing luxury for us Brits!

SHARE THIS ARTICLE

But forget the accommodation and the yoga for a second, because this trip was so much more than that. Angela and the team couldn’t have planned a better experience for all of us. We had the opportunity to go on a sunset boat trip, surfing, paddle boarding, eating out, volcano walks and sunrise meditations, visits to the local market and town, beach hang outs and ice-cream, Clare Kerrigan even put on a night-time Nidra for us under the starry sky (with our pillows and duvets!!). It felt more like a luxury summer camp for adults, but with more freedom and lots of Honey Rum (possibly the best reason to get yourself over to Fuerteventura).

Being immersed in the beautiful practice of yoga, as well as wonderful people, food and experiences made for one of the best holidays I have ever been on – and that is what I see it as, a holiday. To call it a yoga retreat almost does it an injustice, though the yoga was obviously top notch (I wouldn’t expect anything less from any of the teachers here at Kula). No one thing was left to chance; Angela made sure we had Pukka Tea a-plenty, snacks galore and so many activities to choose from that it has set a high standard in what I expect a retreat to be – you could say she spoils her yogis and yoginis!

I know I will be on the look-out for the next time I can make this trip, I get a small pang of jealousy whenever I hear the next group talking about heading out there again! But to be honest, a blog post cannot put across the feeling of that trip. It was so full of laughter, good people and wonderful memories that you would have to experience it for yourself to truly understand the magic of Fuerteventura.

Here’s to next time…

Beliz x.


Introducing Sian Grayson

Sian Grayson recently started teaching Postnatal Yoga on Mondays at 11:30am, here we find out a little bit more about Sian.

How did you get into yoga?

I discovered yoga as a teenager, while suffering from M.E which left me unable to do much at all let alone any exercise! I found yoga and meditation totally restorative and it helped me recover and manage life’s challenges in a positive way.

What forms of yoga have you studied?

I’ve studied many different forms of yoga including hatha, vinyasa flow, jivamutki and ashtanga. The more I practiced the more I was able to do and this inspired me to train as a teacher to help others reap the many benefits that yoga can give.

You’ve just started teaching postnatal yoga on Monday mornings, what do children bring to your practice?

Now that I’m on the crazy journey that is being a parent of two boys, it means that I like to focus on being strong and fitting in as much practice as I can around the busy job of parenting— this usually involves being on my mat with the kids climbing all over me and the dog trying to steal my spot.

What do you aim to pass onto new mothers in your class?

I help new mamas regain their strength and heal themselves while being able to include their babies. I am far from Instagram ready and love to provide a comfortable and fun environment for my students to thrive, if my class hasn’t involved some laughter then its been a rubbish one.

What else can you tell us about your postnatal class?

So my class has a basic formula of being all about the mums. I try to get as much actual yoga in as I can but focus the poses on the usual gripes that come with being a mother—neck and shoulders from carrying and feeding their babies, as well as strengthening the core and the whole body. I also include pelvic floor exercises and special exercises specifically for diastasis recti (split abdominal muscles).
After giving birth you feel like a fucking tiger warrior but then quickly start to feel broken and tired, so I try to get the mamas to work slowly back to that tiger feeling.


Yoga and Hygge Luxury Escape—what to look forward to

Hygge (pronounced hue-guh) is a Danish word used when acknowledging a feeling or moment, whether ordinary or extraordinary, as cosy, charming or special.

Hygge is all about atmosphere, presence, pleasure, equality, gratitude, harmony, comfort, truce, togetherness and shelter. Which are all qualities that are already found in yoga and fit perfectly within the setting of a yoga retreat.

On Thursday 16th November we set off for our three day Yoga and Hygge Luxury Escape, and with only one double room left (could you be the lucky yogi, couple or friends joining us on this luxury escape?), we wanted to let you know what we will be getting up to during our time away.

Thursday: Students arrive and Angela and Lara will be on hand to show everyone to their atmospheric rooms — think fresh flowers and Scandinavian style wood burners — or to one of our hygge style sleep nests to catch some zzz’s. There will be freshly baked snacks and warming drinks served on arrival. Dinner will be a warming, tasty veggie meal with an emphasis on Scandinavian flavours. We will wrap up the first evening with a candle lit Hygge inspired Yoga Nidra with NEOM products to prepare you for a good nights sleep.

Friday morning: Soothing Flow class followed by breakfast and some time to yourself to explore the surrounding area — perhaps one of our recommended walks? — treat yourself to a sauna, use the outdoor hot tub (yoga kula are on hand to supply you with face packs and scrubs to sooth and nourish winter skin) or simply relax in your room or in one of hygge style sleep nests. Later on there’ll be Restorative Yoga and the chance for a warm oil massage or Mizen therapy (when pre-booked). Dinner on Friday evening will be followed by chatting, yogic stories and kirtan around the fire pit with warm wine, hot chocolate and cosy blankets — hygge style.

Saturday morning: a Dynamic Hatha and Hygge Yin class will be followed by breakfast and some time to yourself for walks, one on one yoga classes, therapies (please pre-book both of these in advance) or even a game of tennis. Saturday afternoon will consist of lunch and Somatic Yoga. In the evening we’ll sit down for a gorgeous vegetarian dinner with organic wine and local cheeses before we end the evening with a cacao ceremony, meditation and deep relaxation.

We’ll begin Sunday with a cosy Hatha Yoga class followed by a green smoothie boost. There will then be time to mindfully pack and say our goodbyes before we check out late on Sunday morning. For anyone who wants to prolong the escape we’ll be heading to the stylish Stydd Garden Centre, Ribchester for an early lunch before heading home feeling refreshed.

We are incredibly excited about our first luxury escape, it’s going to be a great experience for all of us to take deep rest, self inquiry and spend time with like minded people. At Kula we love to create, innovate and delight, and we hope you enjoy this weekend!

Hurry the final room won’t be available for long!


Yoga and Pregnancy

Some women thrive and breeze through the pregnancy as though they had done it one hundred times before. Others struggle as their body changes shape to accommodate this new growing person. Pregnancy is a long journey and women must honour and nurture their body, both before and after birth. Pregnancy Yoga and Postnatal Yoga are the classes to do in order to look after your body, prepare you for the birth and build your strength post birth.

There are so many benefits to both Pregnancy Yoga and Postnatal Yoga, such as to improve sleep, reduce stress and anxiety, increase the strength, flexibility and endurance of muscles needed for childbirth. Post-labour the benefits include improving posture, repairing the body with pelvic floor building strength postures and to rebuild flexibility.

We spoke to two of our Yoga Kula students Lyndsey and Lucy who both attended Yoga Kula’s Pregnancy Yoga and Postnatal classes to find out more about their pregnancy yoga journey.

Hi ladies,

Why did you choose to do pregnancy yoga and postnatal at Yoga Kula?

Lyndsey: I chose to do pregnancy yoga primarily to learn breathing techniques to utilise whilst in labour, but also to relax and release tension throughout my body as my pregnancy progressed. Postnatal yoga was really helpful to get my body moving again and to meet other Mummies.

Lucy: I wanted to be as mobile as possible throughout my pregnancy. The idea of doing Pregnancy Yoga was to take an hour out of each week to help me focus on me and the baby. I hoped that Pregnancy Yoga would help with flexibility and breathing.

Did you find the Pregnancy Yoga classes helpful during your pregnancy and labour?

Lyndsey: Absolutely, by attending the Pregnancy Yoga classes I learnt relaxation techniques and practiced them weekly whilst pregnant. I always felt relaxed and energised after class and did the breathing throughout my labour to help focus my mind and relax during my contractions (surges).

Lucy: I found the Pregnancy Yoga classes very helpful in giving me time during a busy working week to focus on my baby. It was ‘time out’ to remember what an amazing thing my body was doing. The most helpful aspect of the classes was learning about breathing techniques – the class reminded me to breathe. Such a silly idea but I realised I had been rushing around and not really breathing deeply and with intention. I took this thought with me into labour. Each breath I tried to focus on what my body was doing and what the baby was telling me.

What was your favourite part of the Pregnancy Yoga and Postnatal Yoga classes?

Lyndsey: The Pregnancy Yoga classes were great for stretching out, bonding with the baby, relaxation, learning birthing positions and meeting other mums. And similarly, Postnatal Yoga classes are fantastic for moving slowly and carefully again after birth, relaxing (when the baby is quiet) and meeting other mums.

Lucy: During Pregnancy Yoga I enjoyed being pushed more than I thought I could be. I had put myself into cotton wool, especially towards the end of the pregnancy, but Lara encouraged me to really stretch and move and afterward I felt so much better, like I had done a real work out.

Did you do any other classes during your pregnancy?

Lyndsey: Yes, I carried on with a Restorative Yoga practice, which was just heavenly whilst I was pregnant. It was a very relaxing class with lots of props to enable me to get comfortable and relax with my bump. Catharine and Lara both also recommended Yoga Nidra, which I managed to do 3-4 times a week in addition to 1-2 pregnancy classes. I also did the Birth Preparation workshop, which is coming up again in December. This was such a fantastic workshop to do and my partner was also able to attend.

Lucy: I did swimming and pre-natal Pilates, but stuck to Pregnancy yoga.

Would you recommend the Yoga Kula classes to other Mummies?

Lyndsey: Yes, Pregnancy Yoga is a must. The Yoga Kula Pregnancy Yoga classes were by far the best pre-natal class I did and the best labour preparation out these. Postnatal was amazing because like with Pregnancy Yoga classes you focus on the pelvic floor and building strength in your body again. If other Mummies have the time to get to both classes before and after birth, then the results will certainly show.

Lucy: Definitely. Pregnancy Yoga was a time in the week for me and my baby to spend some time together. I enjoyed the time to focus positive energy towards the baby. It was such a relaxed class where you would chat before the class with whoever was sitting next to you. Lara was informed and helped me to get ready for the birth by channeling my thoughts towards the amazing thing that my body was going to do. Postnatal is the same, everyone is in the same situation so you can relate to everyone in the room.

———

Yoga Kula run two classes per week; Tuesday at 6:30pm and Saturday at 12:30pm. Postnatal classes also run every Monday at 11:30am and Friday at 2pm.

Lara and Catharine both run the pregnancy classes. Catharine and Sian run the Postnatal classes.

Our next Birth Preparation workshop takes place on 25th November 2017.
Once you have finished the Pregnancy Yoga classes and you have had your baby, we would like to give you the opportunity to try your first Postnatal yoga class for free. All you need to do is email us to let us know you have had the baby and we will add a free class to your Yoga Kula Mind Body account.

#seeyouonthemat


Introducing Ella Young

Ella Young will begin teaching weekly vinyasa flow classes at Kula this week, below we talk to her about all things yoga.

How did you get into Yoga?

I had my first encounter with yoga at the age of 16, this slowly progressed until I was taking regular classes when I was at university.

When did yoga become a priority?

It was when I graduated that I made yoga a priority—I decided to move to Australia for a few months to travel and immerse myself in the practice, but little did I know quite how powerful, rewarding and fulfilling this ancient system was and what was supposed to be a 5 month trip turned into two years!

Where did you study to become a yoga teacher?

After practicing and studying with Power Living in Sydney I moved to Byron Bay where I spent a year studying at the Byron Yoga Centre and gained my level 1, 2, 3 & Cert 4 (800hr) in Yoga Teacher Training.

Who's your biggest inspiration?

My friend Kate Nelson aka @plasticfreemermaid is a huge inspiration to me. We met whilst living in Bondi Beach and both moved to Byron Bay around the same time. She is an activist working to reduce single use plastic waste and both the awareness she has raised plus the progress she has made is incredible. She herself has 100% quit plastics, which means she forgoes any food, beverage, item of clothing, cosmetic etc if it comes wrapped in plastic. She spreads her message in a feminine and fun way, with luxury retreats, team surfs/beach clean ups, topless tea parties and DIY pamper parties—teaching how fun it can be to create your own cosmetics! Kate has become the change she wishes to see in the world and her actions are making a huge impact on our planet.

What's your favourite yoga pose?

This changes regularly but right now I'd have to say Janu Sirsasana: it's an inward focussing pose and I love the feeling I get in my back, it's the perfect balance between effort and ease.

If you could train with any yogi, past or present, who would it be?

Donna Farhi. Her book 'bringing yoga to life' is my favourite book, I've read it over and over and there's always a new lesson to be learned and ideas to ponder.

Mysore or Bihar?

Bihar. I am a huge believer in yoga nidra and master Swami Sayananda, the creator of Bihar yoga, has written an amazing book that I us in my teachings.

What's your favourite healthy snack?

Organic medjool dates with almond butter. I love food and prepare all sorts. I write a food blog: Wellness Wins, and have an Instagram account where I share all my favourite food creations: @wellnesswins

And finally, what does Yoga mean to you?

I believe yoga to be a life skill that enriches every single experience; the breath tastes like the most thirst quenching drink, movement becomes a dance and yoga empowers us to embrace the choices and opportunities that are present in each moment.

Join Ella on Satudays at 11am for Vinyasa Flow.

 


Hello Himalayas—by Angela Sykes

Part 2 of Kula's Indian Adventure.

We left our Delhi hotel at Sunrise and headed for the train station. When we arrived it was quiet, almost peaceful, but it didn’t take long for the hustle and bustle to begin. We were in Dehli after all. A five hour train journey took us to the base of the Himalayan mountain range. It was a lovely way to travel. We were served chai and snacks regularly, we got to know each other a little more, and watching life outside the train was entertainment enough—the locals sat squatting by the side of the tracks drinking steaming sweet chai, bright saris hanging from the trees, chilli’s drying in the sun, lush green fields and make shift shacks which seemed to house whole families. We were beginning to get a taste of this beautiful country.

In no time, we were off the train and met by our mountain guides with jeeps which would take us high up into the Himalayas. After securing our luggage on top of the cars (there was quite a lot as we were mostly women who hadn’t packed light) we set off on our adventure into the mountains. On the drive we saw temples galore, the most breathing taking views and mountain villages. Stopping regularly for Chai we ate more amazing Indian food and it became apparent that we wouldn’t go hungry on this trip.

Arriving at the Dunagiri Eco Retreat we were greeted by our hosts chanting the Vedas, a conch shell being blown, and our foreheads marked with red and orange powders representing Solar and Lunar qualities. What an amazing welcome! All the locals knew we were arriving so there was a real excitement in the air. We spent the evening exploring out new home, settling into our lovely rooms and taking a well-deserved goddess bath in water from melted glacier ice caps.

Not only is Dunagiri a beautiful place to visit and practice yoga but it also has a strong social purpose. The money we pay for the retreat helps local families, employs local people and is tackling alcoholism in the local area. A school is also run within the retreat—teaching children about the old mountain ways and local traditions which could otherwise start to die out.

We had arrived in the home of the yogis—India as it was 100 years ago.

Part 3 coming soon—Living among yogis.


The Adventure of a Lifetime—by The Yorkshire Yogi

I'm about to embark on the biggest adventure I have ever been on—a 4 week teacher training course (TTC) in Aruba with the wonderful Rachel Brathen, also known as @yoga_girl on Instagram, followed by an 18 month programme at my favourite space: Yoga Kula here in Leeds. How did I get here? Well if you want to read more about how I started my yoga journey, please read my original blog post that I wrote for Kula here.
If I look back three years ago when I first toyed with the idea of yoga I never would have guessed that I would make the choices that have lead me to do a TTC… let alone two! But, here I am! Little old inflexible, stubborn, antisocial me! A girl who hated anything that involved body strength, sweating or flexibility, let alone being confronted with things I am not good at – I tend to stick to stuff I know I can do and yoga did not fall under that category in my mind. Even when I realised that yoga was accessible to all bodies I was still under the impression that those who did their teacher training were way wiser than I am, way more flexible and basically part-enlightened contortionists who made up a small minority of society.
But, as I have delved further into my practice I have realised that was a very naïve view-point and that teacher training is not just for those who can balance on their heads or fold their body in two – you don’t even need to be able to touch your toes. It is simply for those of us that want to deepen our practice and awareness of all that yoga has to offer! I first found myself realising how much I loved the practice of yoga when I went on a retreat with Kula to the Lake District where we started to deepen the focus on meditation and reflection. That spurred me on to attend a week-long retreat in Fuerteventura (you can read my review of that experience here) and when I was in the airport on my way back from that trip thinking ‘I’m not ready to go home, like, really not ready,’ I knew that the TTC would be for me! What better excuse do I need to spend just under two years doing what I love?
It is no secret that yoga has become such a huge part of my life, and I love bringing people to the practice (bullying them into it with love may be a better description). However, though selfish, I am not training to be a teacher for others. I am training primarily for myself. I want to deepen my understanding and my own personal practice, of the history of yoga. I want to aid myself and then, if I feel that I have enough to offer, I will reach out to the community and share all I have learnt and continue to learn!
I think what I am trying to say is that, for me, the TTC is an opportunity for me to work towards self-understanding and self-betterment, not just a means to an end to teach something to others. For me, the teaching side is more of a bi-product of the course! Regardless of what the outcome is, this part of my journey is one that I am eager to start! So, here is to the next 20 months and all that it will bring!
As always, you can follow my journey on Instagram by following @the_yorkshire_yogi, where I will try my best to put into pictures and words how my practice unfolds.
Beliz
x

Yoga Kula is still taking applications for its TTC starting in January 2018, to find out more or to apply click here.


The Only Man—by Andy Scott

I agreed to go on the Yoga Kula retreat to India for two reasons:

1. Obligation—my wife Deb has supported me all over Europe doing my hobby, racing Ironman Triathlon, and she’s always wanted to go to India, so it only seemed fair that I supported her this time.

2. The Himalayas—as soon as Deb mentioned 'the Himalayas' when reading out the ad for the trip, I was going! I wasn’t going to miss out on that.
You may have noticed that Yoga didn’t feature in making my decision. I’d tried it before, once as a taster session in the 80’s when training to be a fitness instructor and again a couple of years ago with the Triathlon club. It didn’t suit me. I’m an endurance athlete, stiff by nature, and like any good endurance athlete, when asked 'how often do you stretch?' the answer is always 'not as often as I should'—which is short for never unless a muscle gets a bit too tight.
'There'll be other men going' Deb said. I think she knew it would be all women and she was worried for me. 
Sure enough, the Facebook group was formed and it's all women and then we have a social get together, so that everyone can meet before the trip, and yes 13 women and me, plus Angela and Claire from Kula. We all introduced ourselves then they all sat there nattering for two hours and I thought 'It’s a good job I like my own company or this two weeks in the remote mountains could feel like an eternity.' Now I realize it’s just another form of yoga–nattering that is.

The Trip.
How much luggage can one person possibly need? Half the coach to the airport was full of suitcases. Although it later transpired half of each person’s bags were full of Imodium, just like ours (thankfully never needed)! I think there’s a mountain of Imodium somewhere near the airport in Delhi, all discarded by British tourists before returning home.
 The flights were long but the excitement kept everyone going. We arrived in Delhi, and immediately it was hot and humid. Claire, the master of organisation, had transfers to the hotel waiting for us, while the rest of Delhi seemed a mass of chaos.
In the evening we had a trip to a craft market, and another discipline of yoga was revealed to me 'Yogic Shopping'—this is where you must buy as many shiny things as you can in two hours, regardless of having to transport it to the Himalayas and back, and finally another 4000 miles to Leeds. 
Some of our groups dedication to this practice was astounding, they put the locals to shame, and this dedication was maintained throughout the trip by a select few.

The People.

Seeing rural India and how people lived—from the planes to the foothills was inspiring and seeing the snowcapped Himalayas was magnificent. 
But the real beauty of the trip for me, and I think I can speak for the whole group here, was the relationships we made throughout our journey. 
We all bonded as a group from the start, we shared and cared for each other and had some real laughs along the way. 
The people we met, are the real memories I’ll treasure, from our hosts and the staff at the retreat to other travelers and pilgrims we met along the way.
The Yoga.
Yoga wasn’t a part of the trip I was particularly looking forward to, but I was prepared to give it a go. Now, less than a month after our first session, yoga isn’t what I thought it was. 
I now do my own practice most mornings and miss it if I don’t and that’s all thanks to the quality of teaching we received from Angela and Claire.
I think, if anyone tries yoga and comes away saying 'it’s not for me', just as I did years ago, they probably didn’t have the right teacher, so it’s well worth persevering and finding someone who communicates to you.
I still can’t say what yoga is, my definition of it changes and grows each day. I never thought I’d say this, but I’m excited about yoga! 
Yoga’s a journey, it’s challenging, it’s physical, it’s spiritual, it’s being present and mindful. It’s every kind of self-development rolled into one, yet it’s a caring community at the same time.

Coming Home.
I’ll continue practicing yoga all my life now, it’s become a part of me, like riding my bike and running is. But what we'll all bring home from this trip is the friendships formed and the experiences shared. I’m looking forward to meeting up with everyone again soon, to share stories and have a laugh.

Andy Scott.


An Indian Adventure—by Angela Sykes

I've been asked so many questions this week about India—How was it? What did you do? Who did you meet? To answer these questions and so that you can all share in this adventure with us I’ve written a series of blogs.

Part One—Making our way to the Motherland

Four weeks ago sixteen Kulis set off on an adventure into the Himalayan mountains where we bonded as a team of yoga warrior leopards (more on this name later!) and created many stories to tell. So let’s begin…

We met in Manchester airport, some of the group had said hello in the studio but most were more or less strangers – who would have thought we’d have so many adventures in India, the birth place of yoga, and come back as such firm friends?

We set off to India giddy and excited and arrived in Dehli around 12 hours later a little weary, only to be greeted by the lovely Clare waiting with fizzing lime drinks to boost our spirits.
In Delhi we checked into our rooms and rested for a few hours, we were then served our first Indian meal of the holiday which was amazing—a vast array of curries, rice dishes and Indian dessert. We took rickshaws in pairs for a tour around the busiest parts of Dehli, such a sensory experience! So many beeping horns, people, shops, stalls, chai sellers, jewellery stalls, sari shops—it was mayhem but it just seemed to work! And under that mayhem was the magical peace of India.

India is a very spiritually rich country with a deep belief in karma and the power of deities. Most people have a temple in their home and perform ‘puja’ each day – I think it is this richness in devotion which makes this place feel so peaceful even in the most hectic of cities.

During our first adventure around Delhi we stopped off at the most amazing market which has the best masala chai I have ever tasted as well as many shops selling shawls, scarfs, shoes, blankets, ornaments, bags and so much more—we had some real shoppers with us this time and let’s just say they were in heaven!

Here’s a tip for those coming with us next time—leave loads of room in your suitcase for all of the Indian trinkets you will want to take home, particularly if you’re thinking of turning your spare bedroom/office into a yoga room.

Part 2 coming soon – Hello Himalayas