Posts in Q&A
A Q&A with Ali Cellini
 

Name:  Ali Cellini

Hometown:  this should be a short answer question but it never is for me! I grew up in Kenya – a small town called Malindi, though now my family is all in Nairobi. That is home, but England has also always felt like home as I grew up partially (on and off) here!

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Training background:  I trained at a school called Purusha Yoga in San Francisco, where we studied in the Raja Yoga tradition – focused on Hatha, stemming into versions like Vinyasa, Yin, Restorative. Studying at Purusha was amazing as Joy Ravelli, the head instructor and owner of the studio, has been training teachers for more than 20 years, and the breadth of her experience, and that of the other teachers there, gave us a really in-depth well-rounded view on teaching, anatomy and the history and philosophy of yoga – enough to know that we were only scratching the surface and there is always so much more to learn!

What is your favourite yoga pose and why:  Downward dog. Well there are a few... but I'm going to stick with downward dog. I love it. It is essential. It is place where you don't have a reason to forget any part of the body – in it I can be aware of all things, and the connection between all things, and simultaneously it is a place of great surrender. I can feel the ground. I can feel my spine's length. It is hard work and then also shifts into almost feeling restorative at times. In those moments it feels like home. The place to return to and feel like everything is right in the world. 

What is your least favourite yoga pose and why:  Hmmm, well I'd say that I actually kind of love my least favourite poses! For example, gomukhasana – cow face pose – is so very uncomfortable in my body, but it offers me the special practice of finding ease in a place of difficulty... and afterwards I always feel better for it. It's also part of becoming more self-aware, and noticing the things you really need (sometimes not what you're naturally drawn to). It's not about feeling good right now, but about the health and benefits (and perhaps good feelings in those) that come over time.

What is one of your mantras?  Something like "Let what comes, come." I think often , in some form, about releasing the hold on things and the idea of control. And letting what is going to be, be. We do what we can, but we cannot control everything. It's about being decisive and also flexible – committed, but fluid. Being here with what is right now.

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Do you have a go-to practice to get you through busy or challenging times?  Music. In any form. I sing, so singing really helps me. But listening to music, being surrounded and engulfed by it, and singing – besides yoga, that has helped me through the most difficult moments and feelings. I could sit and do that for hours in times of sadness. I put the music on and am driven by it in times of busyness. With the right music on, I feel like I can do anything. And tea. And long showers. I find that anything that is a "pause," or that helps to slow down time, helps you in the long run because you realise that everything that needs to get done will, and everything else won't matter.

What can students expect from your yoga classes?  In yoga, I found the ability to clear the space, to not feel surrounded, to release – I strive to channel this experience to others. To me yoga is like a dance; it is an expressive bodily language, and in it we move and search for the "sweet spots". My practice and my classes exist around this opportunity for clarity and expression – they are focused, challenging but accessible to all, but above all they are fun and inclusive. You will hear a lot of music – mostly unexpected! – and you will be provided with a place where you can come as you are (intentional Nirvana reference...). I believe in hard work and creating heat (tapas) where it counts and has purpose, but balancing this with softness and ease.

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Where did you last go on holiday? Did you take your mat? My last holiday was in December and was actually my honeymoon! It was in Malta, was barely planned and was a beautiful, unexpected surprise of a place. I admit I did not take my mat as I was specifically there to have a break from EVERYTHING – we walked, ate, explored, and slept 10 hours every night! My practice in that period was to fully restore, and I'd say it was a massive success!

Something we may not know about you…   Well, there are so many things... I am a big Trekkie. A Star Trek fan. Very big. I love stories in general, fantasy and science fiction above all. And I do not watch TV. But Star Trek is something I will always watch. Next Generation is my number 1. But is followed very closely by the Original Series and DS9. And yes, I have related many, many things from Star Trek to yoga ...and used them in classes.

Live long and prosper.


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Catch Ali teaching at CAMYOGA:

Monday nights 20.00 at Mitcham's Corner. Click here to book.

 

Find out more about Ali on her website here.


 
Q&A with Liz Smith

Name:  Liz Smith

Hometown: Cambridge

Training Background:

I have over 21 years experience in the fitness industry. I first qualified as a YMCA group exercise instructor in 1994. This led to a diploma in personal in training as well as many other group exercise and fitness qualifications. I began teaching yoga in 2001. I am a Viniyoga practitioner and therapist, a Vinyasa Krama Yoga teacher and most recently a Broga® teacher.

Occupation:

I’ve been involved in teacher training since 2002. As well as teaching yoga classes in Cambridge, I am a cYs Introductory Yoga Studies tutor and a YMCA Awards Diploma in Teaching Yoga tutor and assessor. I’m also a freelance internal course verifier.

What is your favourite yoga pose and why?

For the cooling and releasing effects of the posture, it has to be flank forward bend – I’d be happy to stay for a long time in this posture! To be energised and empowered, my favourite’s a handstand.

What is your least favourite yoga pose and why?

I love them all.

What is Broga®?

Broga® is designed for a male sensibility (women are ALWAYS welcome!). It's a strong, intense and physically challenging workout with accessible postures that challenge the body to increase performance and capability. 

This is not a relaxing chill out class. You will work and sweat hard as well as make significant strides in opening up traditionally tight areas such as the shoulders, chest, hamstrings and hips. It’s a seriously tough but VERY fun class that will push you to your limits.

What can someone expect from a Broga® class?

There are 6 main classes. Each class focuses on a specific body part, starting with the chest, and then working towards the back, legs, arms, shoulders and inversions. The “sizzle” workout is a full body extravaganza!

What are the benefits from attending Broga®?

It’s the perfect complement to other sport or exercise training. It increases performance and capability in sport and reduces the possibility of injury. It develops strength, power, flexibility, mobility and cardio fitness from the very first class.

Does you have to be super fit to come to Broga®?

Being an athlete is not a requirement, just the mindset to be one!

Are women welcome?

Yes! While Broga® is a yoga practice engineered for the male athlete, it's also a killer workout for women!

 

You can catch Liz teaching Broga®  on Tuesday evenings, 17.00 at our Cambridge Central Studio.

Check out our schedule to book.

Q&A, YogaHannah EllisComment
5 minutes with Pete Blackaby

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This November, we welcome Pete Blackaby, author of Intelligent Yoga, back to Camyoga for Taking Yoga into the 21st Century - two days of practical workshops. To give you some background on Pete's extensive body of work, here's a potted history of his life in yoga:

"I started practicing yoga seriously in 1978 as a student of the Iyengar system of yoga, after six years I took their two year teacher training programme and qualified in 1986. I continued in this system for a further four years.

From 1987 -1993 I studied Osteopathy at the college of osteopaths at Regents college London, qualifying in 1994. In 1995 I co-ran a two year teacher training course with John Stirk and Sophy Hoare, and ran a second one in 1997. I also taught anatomy and physiology at the Chiron Centre for Body centred psychotherapy in Ealing between 1995 and 1997.

In 2002 I became involved in the British Wheel of Yoga, (the governing  body in England) and ran a two year teacher training programme for them. I no longer train teachers, but have been running courses for teachers since then. My interest in the last 15yrs has been to put some scientific underpinning to the practice of yoga both in the bio-mechanical sense and in the mind /body relationship.

Currently I teach functional anatomy on the London yoga teacher training course and have input in two other local courses. I also teach the anatomy module at the Esther Myers yoga studio in Toronto. I am regularly invited to teach throughout England Wales and Scotland. The current project I am involved in is a two year course for teachers called 'Grounded Yoga'. There are five faculty, myself teaching bio mechanics, Professor Peter Connolly teaching philosophy, Dr Christine McHugh teaching homeostatic regulation through yoga, Diane Farrell teaching the psychology of the body, and Taravajra, teaching mindfulness. Our aim is to help students understand how yoga can bring productive change to the body, the mind, and the breath and improve our sense of relationship to the environment in which we find ourselves.

What I hope students will gain is a clear and reasonable synthesis of the salient points of yoga practice. What is important to consider in practice and what is less so. These understandings will be based on recent research findings. Whilst recognising that there is no such thing as certainty when dealing with human beings it is useful to know the main perspectives that are out there when dealing with bio-mechanics and the body/mind relationship. At the very least I hope to clarify what the debates are, and more particularly help students navigate some of the ideas with confidence."

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Join Pete Blackaby for Taking Yoga Into the 21st Century at Camyoga Shelford, 13-14 November, 10.00-17.00. Camyoga graduates receive 10% off when booking the weekend. Click here for full details or to book online.

 

Interview with Yoga Sports Expert Hayley Winter
Hhayleyayley Winter, New York based founder of Yoga Sports Science, and a member of the Camyoga Teacher Training faculty, took some time out of her busy schedule this week to answer a few quick questions about the benefits of yoga for sports people.
I believe that sport-specific yoga is the new marginal gain and will be at the heart of future training for any sports person wanting to go further, faster, stronger and for longer.
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How long have you been practising yoga and how did you discover it was an incredibly effective tool for sports people?
I have been practicing yoga for 30 years and teaching for 20. My first experience of introducing yoga into sport was through a colleague who worked for the English Institute of Sport. He wanted me to introduce a few mobility techniques to a track and field athlete. It was during that session that I began to question why yoga wasn't being used by every athlete as part of their strength and conditioning training.
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In a nutshell, could you tell us a little bit about the benefits of a yoga practice for sports people?

Most people in sport recognise that yoga can help improve flexibility, but there are many other benefits. Some of the benefits of sports-specific yoga are:

  •  Prevention of Injury  Introducing yoga as part of an active recovery session, or as a cool down, can help the athlete to reduce the build up of lactic acid and reduce muscle soreness, which means they feel more energised and refreshed for the next day's training or event.
  • Improved Breathing Specific breathing techniques can be given to the athlete to either increase respiratory strength, or to introduce a breathing strategy which is particularly useful for long distance events. Breathing can also help athletes with their concentration, focus and with performance nerves.
  • Improved Movement Efficiency Specific yoga techniques which consider the movement patterns and demands of the sport, can enable an athlete to expend less energy and become more economical in how they perform.
  • Improving Awareness By helping an athlete develop an awareness of self can help them develop an awareness of others. This is particularly essential in team sports where the need for proprioceptive awareness is key. Initially for the athlete the development of self awareness begins with a sense of awareness of joint position and motion in space, through sensory feedback from the body. What occurs overtime is that the athlete starts to deepen their awareness of self and begin to explore aspects of their own nature. This opens up a whole new area of discovery for the individual, offering opportunities to integrate this level of awareness, not just into their performance, but also into their life.
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Is yoga a useful tool for those practising any sport? Who might benefit from this the most?

Yoga can be a valuable addition to any athlete, in any sport and at any age. You are never too late to start and can begin to feel immediate benefits within both your sport and life.  Communicating and delivering the benefits of yoga is both an art and a science, and the challenge in the world today is that because yoga is now widely accepted in the mainstream, yoga teachers are under more pressure to understand how and why yoga works.

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We've heard that even the German football team are using yoga now! Is yoga for sports becoming more widespread?

Over 12 years ago when I first introduced yoga to footballers, it was mainly the older players who were trying it as a last resort to achieving longevity in their careers. But what started to happen was the older players were getting less injured and with the wisdom of their experience, matched with a renewed fitness meant that they were enjoying opportunites to demonstrate their talents. In all of the clubs I worked in, yoga was integrated into both academy and first team squads to great effect.

A number of years ago I was invited to meet Sir Dave Brailsford who was the Performance Director for British Olympic Cycling. He talked about how the training methods of the future would be looking to help athletes achieve the performance advantage by increasing the marginal gain. I believe that sport-specific yoga is the new marginal gain and will be at the heart of future training for any sports person wanting to go further, faster, stronger and for longer.
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How has your personal yoga practice helped you in your life?
Yoga has been one of the most rewarding and essential tools in my own life. When life has thrown me a curve ball and presented situations that I thought I would never be strong enough to handle, I was able to access the resources within me. Each time I have been faced with something new, I have been able to find an internal way to navigate life's external challenges.
 
I am often asked how many times a week I practice, the truth is I practice all the time, but it is not necessarily the physical asana practice, but the practice of the other many wonderful aspects that yoga has given me to help me enhance my own performance.
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Interested in Yoga for Sports People? Click here to find out more about Hayley Winter's forthcoming 2 day Introduction to Yoga for Sports People course at Camyoga, open to all. If you're already a yoga teacher or fitness professional, and would like to undertake the Hayley Winter Sports Foundation course at Camyoga this August, you can find out more here.
Three Questions: Rachael Moore

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What yoga teacher has had the most influence on you?

RACHAEL: I have been lucky enough to have met and been taught by some really amazing teachers over the last 16 years . Each one in their own way has had an impact not only in my own evolving practice but the way I develop as a teacher myself. I really do believe you are drawn to particular teachers/styles of yoga at certain times in your life that will enrich and evolve your practice as well as yourself as an individual. My very first yoga teacher was Camyoga's Iyengar teacher Karen Stamper. Karen had a huge impact on me as she was responsible for igniting this little flame in me that has lead me to where I am today. My first pregnancy teacher Francoise Freedman was also hugely influential in demonstrating to me just how powerful and transformative the practice of yoga could truly be. More recently, vinyasa flow teacher Claire Missingham and Beverley Nolan have continued to inspire me with their knowledge and passion for this beautiful, ever constant but evolving practice.

Which is your least favourite yoga pose?

RACHAEL: Hmmm, tricky! I think that actually depends on whats going on for me at the time and as cliche as it sounds, the ones you don't particularly enjoy are usually the ones that can offer you the most ! Core strengthening poses are always challenging for me, as are arm balances for the simple reason that they are hard work and extremely humbling!! However, the flip side of that is that there is always somewhere to be aiming for, to keep you interested and switched on to the sensations in your body as they arise. It is a constant voyage of discovery so whats not to like!

What is the best way to build up strength for chaturanga? I find lowering down slowly really difficult as my arms are quite weak.?

RACHAEL: Chaturanga is a really strong demanding pose and although visited frequently in a flow class is often not 'taught' in a step by step way. To avoid injury, Chaturanga demands huge core and upper body strength as well as careful attention to alignment. Whilst building up towards the full pose, there are a few ways of building the upper body strength required. One way is to practice against the wall. Stand a few feet away, arms level with the chest. Slowly lower toward the wall, bending the elbows so the forearms are at a right angle and the forehead comes to the wall. Hold for a breath (or two!) and then slowly press back. Gradually build up the number of times you can comfortably repeat this. Other ways to build the necessary strength is to come to plank and before lowering, lower the knees to the ground before lowering your body or come to the knees, chest and chin variation both of which develop your strength and awareness of alignment. Dolphin (forearm dog) and forearm plank are also great for building core and upper body strength. In terms of your alignment, always ensure your wrists are in line with your shoulders and never 'behind' as this can cause huge stress in the wrist joint.

Rachael Moore teaches Yoga Flow, Pregnancy Yoga, and Active Birth at Camyoga. Click here to view her weekly classes and here for details of her next Active Birth Workshop.