YK Summer Sale

Flash Sale on Yoga Gifts

Flash Sale on Yoga Gifts

Welcome to our summer sale with 40% off everything!  This is the perfect time to refresh your yoga wardrobe and treat yourself or a loved one to some new self-care accessories. Please support Yoga Kula by purchasing your yoga props, books and gifts by shopping local.

We will be offering safe, contactless collection from the Yoga Kula Studio from Monday-Wednesday, 10:30-5:30pm. Please get in touch if you are in need of an alternative collection time.

To make a purchase, please email info@yogakulaleeds.co.uk with your order, and a member of the YK team will be in touch.

 

Yoga Mats Sale

 

Yoga Equipment

It’s the perfect time to update your yoga equipment ready for our in-studio classes to return in the not too distant future. What have you been missing from your yoga kit during lockdown? We have mats, bolsters, straps, bricks and much more to make your practice easier.

How about a gift for Father’s Day on Sunday 21st June alongside some online yoga classes? We also offer gift vouchers which can be used for online classes or studio classes once we reopen.

Gift Vouchers

Chapter Organics
Self Care

MOA, Chapter Organics, and Blasta Henriet are just a few of our super indulgent self care brands on offer. We have room sprays, candles, eye pillows, facial oils and so much more to help create a cosy environment to enhance your home.

View Self Care + Yoga Equipment Sale

YK Clothing Sale

Clothing

We have a wide range of yoga clothing available in various sizes from both Danish activewear brand Yogamii and British-made Jilla including leggings, comfy jumpers and yoga vests.

View Clothing Sale

How to purchase

To make a purchase, please contact the YK Team at info@yogakulaleeds.co.uk with your order details, including product name, size, and quantity. All purchases must be made via bank transfer or Paypal – details will be provided within order confirmation.  Items are not reserved until payment is made.

* All items are sold as seen, and are non-refundable unless faulty * 


Online Yoga Classes

Online Yoga Classes

In the past few months, we’ve seen a drastic change in the way we access yoga sessions, as a direct response to the UK Covid-19 lockdown. We are no longer able to come to the studio to practice alongside our fellow yogi’s, but here at Yoga Kula whilst we may be distanced, our community has never been stronger. We have come together to practice online yoga classes, with students in Leeds, elsewhere in the UK and further afield.

And so, we created YK LIVE!

“Yoga Kula’s online classes have been wonderful– just as warm and welcoming as those in studio, and exactly what I need to keep my grounded during this chaotic time”

During these unusual times, we find ourselves working at home, away from the office and so for many of us our sanctuary has become our workspace. It’s really important to reclaim that space and energy to allow us to release and relax. Without the daily commute there is very little separation between work and home life, so it’s likely we’re not moving as much as we used to, and anxieties surrounding the current situation might feel overwhelming at times.

We’ve seen so many people in our classes who may otherwise not have been able to attend. Those who’ve moved away from Leeds, children, partners and other family members.

Practicing online yoga means we are able to continue our practice without travelling to the studio. We’ve been experiencing classes from teachers worldwide – including Kula teachers who have moved abroad such as Miz DeShannon and Isabel Slingerland, both of whom were able to rejoin the Yoga Kula community to share some very special practices with us.

“Fantastic classes and lovely teachers which are making lockdown so much more bearable.”

We have classes available 7 days a week, suitable for all levels of experience. Whether you’re completely new to your yoga practice or you’re a seasoned yogi, there’s something for you on our online yoga class timetable.

Continuing your yoga practice throughout this time can help to give you a sense of normality. Being able to join in your regularly scheduled classes and really taking time to notice how our body feels, what we need at a time when we’re likely to be holding tension in ways we aren’t used to. A regular yoga practice can have a range of effects on the body, including

  • bringing your mind into the present moment – something that is key for reducing stress.
  • alleviate anxiety
  • reduce back pain – this is something we’ve heard a lot of our students have been struggling with as a result of working in makeshift office spaces
  • improving sleep
  • relieving constipation
  • strengthening muscles and bones
  • cultivating a calm, steady and focussed mind.

“The class was AMAZING!! I am loving the virtual yoga classes. My anxiety sometimes stops me from makes the journey to the studio difficult for me but this has been overcome by being able to practice in my own home!”

For those newer to their yoga practice, we are also running our FREE beginners online yoga class every Monday at 8pm.

A 30 minute class packed full of the ‘yoga basics’. Senior Yoga Teacher Angela Sykes will guide you through simple poses, breathing techniques and simple meditation which will leave you feel uplifted, inspired, energised and connected.

After the session there will be an opportunity ask any questions about yoga, the different styles of yoga, how you feel about staring your yoga journey and which style would be best for you.

Why we love yoga?

At Yoga Kula we believe yoga is about much more than taking a class. When we are calm and healthy we show up in the word with a different energy, we take action from a wiser stand point, our self-belief and confidence grows meaning we can have a positive impact not just on our own lives but on those around us and our communities.

Book a class with YK LIVE

 

#seeyouonthemat


Adam + Richard // Yoga for Men

Student Stories // Yoga for Men

Meet Adam and Richard, two of our loyal and dedicated yogi’s who took some time to chat to us after a mid-morning class with Senior Yoga Teacher Angela Sykes. We learnt more about their yoga journeys, their experience as men who practice yoga, and the impact that this practice has had on their lives.

How long have you been practicing yoga, and was yoga a part of your life before joining Yoga Kula?

Adam: Only for a few months now.  In the past I had been to one/two yoga classes many years ago but it has never been a consistent part of my life, like it is now.  I first started coming to Kula in September 2019, whilst going through quite a stressful period in my life.  Now I have a yoga mat at home and I use it regularly.

Richard: Well… I started my yoga journey 20 years ago, when I was aged 20 (I’ll let you do the maths!). I used to train and compete in Taekwondo at university, so yoga really helped with strength / flexibility, and mindset.

Which classes do you attend – and why?

Adam: My favourite classes to attend are: yin, hatha and hot yoga.  I first developed a liking for yin yoga in Amanda’s classes.  I liked how postures were held for prolonged periods of time, sometimes with significant discomfort.  After deciding that you’re going to stick with the discomfort and breathe through it, it becomes quite liberating and empowering.  I often don’t think I can stick with it but then a few minutes later I realise I could and I love that feeling.  Hatha for similar reasons, there’s more time to get into a posture and really feel it, more so than the more flowing types of yoga.

Richard: I attend Angela’s Hatha class on Wednesday mornings. After a long break from practising Yoga I feel it’s a great reintroduction. I find the gentle physical postures, breathing focus and the mindful nature of the class a nice balance, which seems to be just right, for me.

What first attracted you to practicing yoga?

A: I was going through a really tough time in my personal life with work stresses and a family bereavement, so I was looking for a little escape and some spiritual calm.  I definitely got both, and much more!

R: Initially… aching muscles and the need to stretch them I guess!

What do you think is the biggest misconception men have about taking a yoga class? Do you feel we’ve changed this at Yoga Kula?

A: I have been surprised by the all-round physical-psychological approach that is taken by many teachers at Kula.  It seems that classes are not just about your physical body but your mind-set in tackling everyday problems in life too.  This has been a major learning point for me.

R: That it’s all about getting into extreme and uncomfortable positions… which I find it’s actually the opposite!  I can say that Yoga Kula has definitely challenged and changed that point of view.

Flow + Breathe

What impact do you feel your yoga practice has had on your life?

A: Empowerment.  Those great feelings that empower you on the mat (sticking with a deep and uncomfortable yin pose) have helped build my confidence off the mat too.  It shows you that you can bear uncomfortable situations elsewhere, even if part of you thought you couldn’t. My flexibility and balance is better than it ever has been.  I’ve done martial arts all my life but never been so supple as I am now after practising yoga for a few months.  This makes me physically more capable, mentally more at ease, and I’m sure is improving my progression in other aspects of life, and then the connection with my own feelings.  Many men are probably similar to me, but I sometimes struggle to connect with my feelings and succumb to thought instead.  Yoga has been great in tackling this.  It has given me greater awareness of physical sensations inside my own body, and this is powerful because I think physical sensations are often linked to our underlying psychological issues.

R: Let’s just say it’s positively impacted me a physical level and I’ve never left a yoga class in a bad mood!

What advice would you give to other men considering starting their yoga journey?

A: If you want to be stronger, more supple, happier, more authentic to yourself, more relaxed then get started as soon as possible! It’s definitely a practice more men need in their lives.

R: Try a few different classes and types of yoga to get a balance (excuse the pun!) and see which ones you like best.

How do you spend your time off the yoga mat?

A: I spend lots of time on another type of mat: the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu mat.  BJJ can leave you with tight hips and shoulders due to the flexing of the core that is inherent in many of the techniques.  Yoga is a fantastic counter-balance to this, for example up dog, cobra, superman and heart/chest opening moves.  I feel more physically well-balanced with yoga in my life, rather than becoming tense and tight in certain areas.  I also like bouldering, running and play guitar.  Yoga has honestly enhanced all of these other aspects of my life in ways I didn’t expect.  It’s interesting what you can achieve when you feel more and you’re at ease.

R: Well for some reason I seem to be attracted to physical activities which involve wearing some kind of head/ body protection and/ or a helmet! I also like reading books, watching films, salsa dancing and learning to play the piano, so that balances things out a bit.

How was your class with Angela on Wednesday morning? You’re both regulars at this class, and we’d love to share your experience with our community!

A: Angela’s classes are always great, she’s a very skilled teacher and manages to communicate the nature of each posture clearly.  I always feel that I understand what I’m doing a little bit more after her classes.  What I also quite like about Angela’s classes is how she explains the anatomy of each pose, as human anatomy is one of my interests!

R: Angela’s class was really enjoyable. There was quiet relaxation, purposeful movement, and also some nice incense and music. I always leave feeling happy!

What would your dream yoga class involve?

A: My dream class would involve lots of deep/uncomfortable postures held for longer periods of time with a nice Shavasana and relaxing music/scents to wrap things up.  Then the obligatory chocolate and tea!

R:  Some mobility exercises, deep stretches, balance work a mindfulness exercise, and some relaxation.

If you could sum up your experience at Yoga Kula in 3 words, what would they be?

A: Calming, empowering, challenging.

R: Authentic Welcoming Experience


Yoga Retreats

Thrive Online Yoga Summer Retreat

YK Thrive // An Online Summer Retreat

When? Sunday 26th July, 10:30am-1:45pm

Where? The comfort of your home! Streamed via YK LIVE.

YK Live is bringing together three specialists to bring you this uplifting online summer retreat, in the sanctuary of your own home. Join Claire, Jeni and Mel for a blend of yoga, massage, breathwork, meditation and nutrition designed to help you THRIVE in the second half of 2020.

Yoga for clarity and energy Claire Dambawinna

Join YK LIVE Yoga Teacher Claire Dambawinna for a Hatha session to bring clarity and energy. During times of challenge yoga can help us to find calm, space and ease which supports us to move forward with clarity, positivity and to be able to thrive and grow. Rediscover inner resilience and power as Claire guides you through a LIVE expansive Hatha sequence to free your body and lift your spirits, blended with nourishing Restorative yoga to help you connect deeply to your breath and calm the mind.

Bodywork, Breathwork and Meditation

Join bodywork specialist Jeni Matthewman (Breathe Body Therapies) to deeply relax, restore and revitalise your body, mind and spirit in this bodywork, breath, and meditation self-care session.

Jeni Matthewman // Online RetreatWe’ll begin with embodied movement and a grounding self-massage for your legs.

This will be followed by a beautiful extended breathwork meditation designed to unlock the power of your breath, access inner healing and transport you into a state of deep bliss.

Nutrition for Vitality

Join inspirational Chef and Nutritionist Mel Hadida (Spice & Green) for a LIVE food and elixir preparation. Mel knows more than anyone else that good food allows you to THRIVE. You can either work with Mel to create quick and easy slaw and tonic or you can simply relax, take some notes and make it yourself another day!

There will be time to ask Mel questions about healthy eating and nutrition. She lives and breathes healthy cooking and eating!

YK Thrive Online Retreat

Take a look what is on the menu:

  • Kosambri: A vibrant South Indian spiced slaw, with a bright citrus dressing, seeds & nuts
  • Sunshine Tonic: An immune boosting tonic with Tusli tea and citrus (non-alcoholic cocktail!)

An ingredients list and any utensils required, will be sent to you 1 week before the event. If you book later we will send through upon booking.

Retreat Outline

10:30 – 11.30am – LIVE: Uplifting Hatha and Nourishing Restorative with Claire Dambawinna

11:45 – 12.45pm – LIVE: Self-Massage Masterclass, soothing breathwork and meditation with Jeni Matthewman

1 – 2.15pm – LIVE: Food and Elixir preparation class with Mel Hadida


Flow for Justice // Black Lives Matter

Flow for Justice

Flow for Justice // Black Lives Matter

Dear Kulis,

This has been a tough and painful few days. As a British woman of colour, it has been my privilege to lead the Yoga Kula community for 8 amazing years and my plan is to continue to do so with energy, passion and an intention to share the teachings of yoga as far and wide as possible.

At Yoga Kula we are here to serve our community which is built on truth, non-violence and compassion. This week we have all been shocked and shaken by what is taking place in the US and have all been tasked to listen to the stories of black Americans, educate ourselves and challenge racism both within ourselves and in our daily lives.

Never be afraid to speak up

We should never be afraid to speak up against racism, never look down, look away or change the subject, because if we do, we become part of the problems we are seeing unfolding in front of our horrified eyes.

The death of George Floyd on 25 May 2020 that has sent shock waves around the globe and has woken many many people up to the hostility and violence faced by black Americans on a daily basis from the slave ships to right now in this very moment – an unbroken and ongoing line of brutality, violence, intimidation and horror.

We don’t have answers but we must do something and stand up for what is right. At Yoga Kula we stand alongside all of those who are marginalised and disadvantaged in any society simply because of the colour of their skin and we all commit to challenging racism in ourselves and others but we want to do more.

We invite you – our Kulis – to stand with us because Black Lives Matter. Join us on International Yoga Day as we aim to raise £1500.00 for Black Lives Matter. To do this we need 100 people practising with us in the charity class. Please forward this mailer as widely as you can. We cannot be on the front line with our black brothers and sisters on the streets in the US but we can empower organisations which fight for the rights of black Americans. Will you stand with us?

When?

Sunday 21st June 9:00am – 10:00am
Flow for Justice with Angela Sykes

£15.00

If you want to donate more please buy more than one space or click here to donate an extra £5 or more.

Angela x


online yoga retreats

Soul Beauty // YK LIVE Retreat

Soul Beauty // A Day Retreat

We bring together three experts, for a bespoke collaboration of yoga, facial massage, yoga nidra and nutrition for that perfect self-love Sunday.

We all know that deep, real and lasting beauty comes from within. During this morning retreat take time to focus on our inner world as well as taking care of the outside cultivating a deep inner to outer glow. A well moved, rested, nourished, reflective and cared for body and mind makes our soul beautiful.

How will we find our glow and discover soul beauty?

Soul Beauty Day RetreatVinyasa Flow 

Yoga is the ultimate beauty tonic. When we flow, move, stretch and breath we increase our inner fire which translates with immediate effect to an outer glow – bright eyes, bright skin and most importantly a clear and bright mind. Yoga Kula founder and director Angela Sykes will guide you through a LIVE vinyasa session brining a mixture of warming breath exercises, heart opening flows and a soothing meditation all designed to cultivate soul beauty.

 Face massageSoul Beauty Day Retreat

Our faces are so important; we use them to communicate, talk, express emotions, eat and so much more. Everything is connected and often tension in the body can show in our faces. If we have been holding tension and stress the face is often the first place this shows.

In this LIVE session facialist Amera guides you through face and neck massage techniques and exercises that you can easily incorporate into your daily routine. Work on releasing connective tissue that lies under our skin to relax muscles and tension and sculpt the face to its natural contours to help lift and tone. It’s a lovely natural face-lift that will give you an instant glow.

Yoga NidraSoul Beauty Day Retreat

Yoga Nidra deeply calms the mind and settles the body –  when we are calm in the mind and steady in the body we make better choices related to our health and feel better physically, mentally and emotionally. Enjoy a mini Yoga Nidra as a follow up to your nourishing face massage.

Soul Beauty Food and ElixirSoul Beauty Day Retreat

Food and drink are our medicine! We have selected the most potent beauty ingredients and created a quick and easy lunch and beauty elixir which you can then add into your personal soul beauty routine.

For our Soul Beauty retreat join Melanie Hadida to create vegan Summer Beauty Rolls using superfood ingredients mango, spinach & sesame, all known to enhance skin, hair and overall glow. Be guided LIVE to prepare a delicious dipping sauce for the rolls. For a hydration + beauty boost we will also prepare a cool hibiscus green tea infusion.

At the end of the LIVE session there will be time and space to ask questions on healthy seasonal cooking, tea infusions and my top tips for staying, looking and feeling energised.

 

Retreat Outline:

10:30 – 11.30 – LIVE: Glowy Vinyasa Flow and Meditation with Angela Sykes

11:45- 12.30 – LIVE: Circulation boosting Face Massage and Mini Nidra with Amera Stanforth

12:45 – 1.45 – LIVE: Soul Beauty Food/Elixir preparation class with Mel Hadida

 

You will be guided to cultivate Soul Beauty with an experienced team of experts.

 

Yoga: Angela Sykes – Senior Yoga Teacher and Director of Yoga Kula Leeds  

Face massage/Nidra: Amera Stanforth – Yoga Teacher and Facialist

Soul beauty Food/Elixir: Mel Hadida – Chef and Nutritionist 

We will be running FB Live sessions with all our Soul Beauty experts before the session so join our Facebook Community Group so you don’t miss out.

Suitable for all levels, some yoga experience desirable however not essential.


This too shall pass blog

Angela Sykes // This too shall pass

This too shall pass

We hope everyone is well at this unusual and unexpected point in our story.

Right now, things are challenging and anxieties are high – this is not the time to put too much pressure on ourselves or expect too much! Don’t worry if you haven’t mastered making bread or learned to speak Mongolian. The key thing is to cope…to take one day and sometimes even one hour at a time. Looking after our physical and mental health has never been more important that it is right now in order to keep us feeling OK and our immune system resilient.

We’ve been hearing from the Yoga Kula Community that we as a society are experiencing a range of issues, including increased anxiety, struggling with sleep, loss of motivation, a roller coaster of emotions, and more aches and pains as we are perhaps sitting more than we might normally.

Rest assured, here at Yoga Kula we are committed to listening to each and every one of your students, and we are weaving into our classes and free Facebook Live techniques you can use daily to ease the strains and stresses of lockdown life. Please keep sharing your stories with us on our Facebook Community Group so we can keep bringing you what you need in these troubling times.

We’ve recently shared –

Night Night Yoga + Sleep Tips with Angela Sykes

Intention Setting + Meditation with Liz Hurd

Home Practice tips with Helen Ince

Chai making masterclass with Binny Saandal

and many more!

Letting Go.

One way to really let go and relax into what is, is to begin to understand the temporary nature of everything. We are lucky enough to have a direct experience of this in our yoga practice. Just think about being in a yoga pose you find challenging in some way, whether that’s mentally or physically – and we just want to be out of it. At this moment we are offered an opportunity to understand the temporary nature of the universe. If we can just stay a little longer, breathe,  and hold steady we begin to see that things always change, move, and alter. Things will be okay.

Someday soon we will be back in the studio practicing and breathing together and we will cast out attention back to this time and feel gratitude for the simple things we took for granted only a couple of months ago. This too shall pass.

Love, Ange

 

#seeyouonthemat



Angela Sykes // Digestive Rest

Hi Kulis

I hope you are finding a little peace through a daily yoga practice during this lockdown period of our lives. I know it is helping me to feel much more grounded, calm and able to trust that things will work out – and that even some positives will come from this time! It’s lovely to see people appreciating nature and appreciating living a more simple and slower life, doing more home cooking and trying new things. 

One thing I have found is that I am eating really well as there is more time to plan meals and prepare everything fresh. Meals are always a real high point of the day for me (as well as the dog walks and yoga) and I slowly found myself eating much more than I needed to be healthy, well and nourished. I decided to give my digestive system a rest and an opportunity for my body and mind to reset. This is a practice I began around 16 years ago (after extensively researching the area and taking advice from my health practitioner at the time) on a yearly basis as a way to deeply cleanse my body and rest digestive system. 

Important

Any digestive rest must be approached with a mindset of healing. If you are working with a health practitioner either alternative or allopathic ensure you chat with them before embarking upon digestive rest – it’s not the right approach for all of us and we need to ensure it is going to be a truly healing experience for our body, mind and spirit.

5 day fast

Here is how to plan a rest and get started:

– Plan the day (or just a morning) you want to rest your digestion for.

– The night before have a light meal such as a homemade soup with lots of veggies for good nourishment. 

– On the day of the rest wake up at a planned time and have a glass of purified water with a slice of lemon 

– Then prepare an alkaline juice and slowly sip it. If you prefer a warm drink you can have hot apple juice with cinnamon. Here’s a great recipe which I love!

– Plan your day – set a schedule for a walk, gentle yoga class, meditation and rest time.

–  At lunch time you can either have another juice or some home-made healthy broth (warmer things are even more restful for the digestion) 

– At dinner time take something warm like a steeped ginger tea and lemon or broth (something warm is better at this time)

– This is also a good time to scrub the skin, apply oil and a mud pack to clear the skin (coconut is best for summer or if you skin is really dry sesame oil).

– Throughout the day drink plenty of purified water and herbal tea – your body needs PLENTY of fluids – at least 6-8 glasses of water 

– If the sun is shining sit out in the for 30 mins to draw in some nourishing energy from the sun’s rays (don’t forget sun cream and hat if the rays are strong).

– If you have some green space nearby take a walk and spend some time near the trees as you can also draw energy from them – if you don’t feel too silly give a bigger tree a hug for a big pranic boost.

– The next morning have a gentle breakfast – something easy to digest like stewed apples with cinnamon. 

– Plan your nourishing meals for the week ahead to ensure you have a good balance with lots of fresh juices, vegetables, grains, healthy oils and some planned treats to really look forward to!

Angela Sykes // Fast

Benefits of taking a short digestive rest:

– Holiday for the digestive system

– Allows time for the body to heal

– Boosts immunity

– Improves concentration

– Detoxes the body and the mind

– Reduces inflammation

– Speeds up cell renewal in the body

– Lowers stress

– Helps us appreciate our nourishing food and eat more mindfully

Here and here, you can find some really interesting articles around taking the opportunity to rest your digestion.

It is always important to educate ourselves, as well as listening to others personal experiences. We are always interested in your thoughts on any of the conversations we start within our community, so let’s ensure we all keep talking.

Ange x



YK LIVE // Helen Ince

Welcome to YK LIVE!

I remember all too well the feeling of utter terror as I stood in front of my first ever yoga class. Nothing can prepare you for the feeling of fear you experience when standing on your mat at the front of the studio with all eyes on you for the first time. I’ve been teaching for nearly nine years now and though I still feel butterflies in my belly just before I begin my classes (How will this group of students find my style? Can I remember the sequence I’ve planned? Will they enjoy the class?) I never feel confident and calm right before a class. So when we had to (very swiftly!) adapt to teaching live online to accommodate social distancing, I was totally blown away by just how utterly terrified I was!

From Yoga Studio to Home Studio. 

The drive to be a yoga teacher for me is a social one; I want to connect with my community, meet like-minded people and provide a service which is based a lot on reading people’s facial expressions, responding to their needs at that particular time and looking after them both physically and mentally. So when this face-to-face contact was taken away from me, there was a genuine feeling of loss. To begin with, I think I felt what can only be described as a sense of grief and it’s taken me a while to adapt for sure.

Easing in!

I’m so grateful therefore for the super swift and efficient way the fabulous team at Yoga Kula responded to the situation. We began with a few classes live streamed whilst we taught actual real life students in the studio (just before the government requested social distancing) so I got the chance to experience teaching online without being totally alone. It felt a little strange; having to remember to look at the camera and not to wander off my mat was tricky at first. And having to demonstrate every pose and talk at the same time was super hard!  But the second time I did it I felt a little more confident and being able to see some of the familiar faces on screen as they practiced at home made me feel a little more at ease.

Government Lockdown

Then the lockdown came into force and we were no longer allowed to come to the studio to teach. In a matter of days I had to set up a space in my home from which I could deliver my regular classes and prepare to teach with just myself in the room.  The practicalities made my head hurt! Where do you place the camera so the students can see you both when you’re standing up and sitting down? Will it be light enough and can you leave yourself enough room to move? (for my first go at a class the answer to this last one was a resounding ‘no’ but I soon found a new space, thankfully!) Setting up the software was a big worry too, I’m really not a techy(!!) but the Kula team were on hand to help out and this bit was actually quite easy (thanks team!!).

Then there was the actual teaching!

Eek. I don’t think anything can really prepare you for how weird and how different it is to our usual way of teaching. I’m so used to being able to chat and have a giggle with my students as they arrive at the studio, checking in with how they’re feeling and thinking about what they might need from their practice that day. Being in a room on your own waiting for people to log in felt very alien. But then all of a sudden these familiar faces popped up on the screen and there were some new faces smiling at me from their impromptu yoga spaces at home. There were dogs and cats and kids and even a friend or two from far afield and I realised I wasn’t alone at all! My Kula family and the fabulous yoga community were all there reaching out to each other and it felt great.

The unexpected positives.

Being able to make these connections with each other at such a weird time has been a real blessing. I’m loving being able to support the studio and independent yoga teachers by attending online classes and I’m incredibly grateful that I can still teach (and earn). But it’s the sense of community and positivity in the face of adversity that can still be found in this new virtual world that has been the best thing to come out of these difficult times by far.



Ashram

Life in the Ashram // Angela Sykes

 

Hi Kuli’s

I have been lucky enough to spend a good few months of my life in Ashrams in India and Sri Lanka and have found this way of living and approaching spiritual life to be really insightful. As I write this, I am in India right sitting in a café overlooking the sea and wanting to tell you all about my most recent Ashram experience while it is still fresh in my mind!


Angela // AshramWelcome to the Ashram!

I arrived in the dead of night to a sleeping Ashram – the only sound was the deep roar of the jungle lions. I was tired after a long journey and was asked to sit and wait in the dark reception. As I was hungry and thirsty so I went in search of some drinking water and then sat down and waited. After a while a sleepy looking volunteer came and gave me a sheet and a pillow case and showed me to my dorm – I lugged my massive case along in the rocky ground (why did I bring so much?) up the hill to the shared dorm. My lovely volunteer could only take me so far, as it was the women’s dorm so I wheeled my bag into the pitch black dorm past row after row after row of full beds until I could just make out through the darkness an empty bed.

After a long trip it is really lovely to take a warm shower and settle into a comfy bed isn’t it? Well here was my first lesson – that wasn’t going to happen today! I made my bed in the dark as best I could and tried to put up my mosquito net. I had a toothbrush in my hand luggage and brushed my teeth and splashed my face before getting into bed and falling asleep for a few hours.

Each Ashram has a programme of activities you can take part in such as Yoga, Satsang, silent walks, chanting, classes, talks and meditation. The Ashrams tend to be mainly staffed by volunteers who are dedicated to a yoga path of a particular lineage – in this case Sivananda.


Starting my Ayurvedic DetoxAngela // Ashram

In the morning I went to find the Doctor to start my programme and he asked where I was staying. I explained where I was and he said I was to move to another dorm and then come back and see him. I went to my home for that one night and moved to a smaller dorm nearer the Ayurvedic centre. As I wheeled my bag over I took in the location! The ashram is set in the jungle hills of Neyyar Dam in Kerela and is absolutely stunning. My new dorm – less so. It was very dark and didn’t smell great but hey I can do this!! I have lived in a cave for goodness sake! I unpacked, settled in, and heading to the doctor for my first consultation.

He explained that my VATA dosha was out of balance and that he would design a programme for me which would balance this. As VATA dosha imbalance tends to be the route of disease it is important to get it back into balance. I started right away with a nourishing Ayurvedic meal and once that had settled I went for an oil massage and a steam bath.


Treatment

The next day I started to take detox medicine – twice a day 7.30am and 3.30pm. The medicine tastes very very bitter and unpleasant but I knew it was good for me so down the hatch it went! Each day I had treatments all designed to bring VATA back into balance. I started with an oil massage, followed by power massage and then shirodhara (oil poured onto the third eye).

A few days in my started my oil ingestion which was the most unpleasant part! Each morning I drank a cup of oil which would lubricate my body from the inside out and bring me back into balance. During the 5 days of oil drinking all I could eat was rice soup and boiled vegetables as it is very easy to digest. This first part of the programme is bringing all of the toxins to the colon so they can then be purged out.


The Purgutation

Once the oil ingestion is over you start your purgation – getting it all out! On the morning of my purge I went to the Doctor’s office and was given a huge cup of thick, green oil to drink which wasn’t a fun moment. I was then sent to my room with a big kettle and told to rest for 2 hours. After two hours I was to start drinking the water and then a purge would begin. This process takes a while so I settled into a combination of drinking water, resting and purging. When the whole kettle was finished and the purge had ended I went to the dining area for some rice soup.

 


Enema, and final consultation.

The final stage is to oil the colon and nourish the body with a series of enemas. As VATA collects in the lower back I also has hip and lower back baths. I was coming towards the end of the programme and really excited about the beach! Even though my body was tired I could feel some of the VATA related stiffness had gone. In my final consultation the doctor took my pulse and let me know that my doshas were back in balance. He said I need to come back next year and the year after and then following that every other year.


Rest and Recover!

As I finish writing to you, I am now in Varkala, which is an idyllic beach resort in Kerala, India. I am resting and recovering (and writing!) from a recent Ayurvedic cleanse in the Sivanada Ashram. I am feeling good now but as always India tests you in various ways, and is your mirror to showing you how to step onto your power, get aligned and stay humble.


If you’d like to learn more about Ayurveda, we have books available to purchase in the Yoga Kula Studio, as well as some great workshops coming up which will allow you to deepen your knowledge and balance your doshas through diet, practice and lifestyle.

Love, Angela x

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