Beating Exam Stress

It may be half term and a long bank holiday weekend, but many young students, including my own daughter will be stressing over exams as they prepare for final A-levels when they return to school in early June.
My 18-year old had been hunched over the table all day, mentally exhausted and feeling completely stiff! At 8pm this evening I asked her to move away from her books and join me on the mat.
We did a few rounds of Sun Salutation and worked through a series of standing/balancing postures which required much focus and concentration on her part. Moving into inversions towards the end of our practice, allowing oxygen to flow to the brain and the heart to rest as gravity aids venous return (flow of de-oxygenated blood back to the heart) my daughter felt suitably calmer and re-energised.
It is always advisable to seal the practice with a final relaxation (at least 5 minutes) and a pranayama exercise to enable the mind to connect with the body, instilling a sense of inner calm and overall contentment.
I wish all students taking A-levels exams the very best and wish you every success for the future.

5th April

Practice time: 10-10.30 (30 mins)

The enormity of yesterday hasn’t quite yet sunk in…My last (level 3) exam was completed just before 7pm at the Central YMCA Club in London and I am now holding my breath for the official result (because it means I can finally teach as a professional)!

I stopped working in January and locked myself away at home, studying day and night, a slave to the so called “books”. I can no longer wait to see the fruits of my labour. Please, please, please let me pass with flying colours and allow me to spread my little ray of light…

A new life begins here as I plan to roll out new classes in the upcoming weeks. Too excited to sleep 😱



15th March

Practice time: 7.40-8.40 (60 mins)

Practiced an online class this morning including Kapalabhati to finish off the session. 40, 60, 80 stomach pumps is really quite a challenge. My abdominal muscles were very tired by the time I started the third round of 80 and had to stop once I reached 60. Practice, practice, practice…Nevertheless, feeling completely worked out from head to toe and mentally charged to now get on and complete another chapter of my studies.

Promising prospects on the horizon which really excite me and I am just waiting for the good news until I can share, hopefully…

Meanwhile, further powered by fruit and of course, my desi cardamon chai, let’s get cracking and see what this day has in store!

14th March

Practice time: 7.30-8.15am (45 mins)

The compulsion to share today is overwhelming…

My asanas this morning felt strong and fluid. Everyday is different. Some days my shoulders are so tight that the first few Uttanasana postures with shoulder stretches actually verge on the painful! On other days my opening sequence flows beautifully into the main practice as it did today. I felt the hips open deeply in Pigeon and the back felt incredibly supple in Dhanurasana. Binding in my twists also seemed almost effortless.

So looking forward to teaching class again this morning. Last Monday’s feedback served to fuel my passion to teach even more! Each participant felt the practice was beneficial to them and they were keen to return, some expressing interest in joining my Friday class as well.

The Friday session is growing with 12 attending last week. I cannot even begin to describe the satisfaction felt when I see how individuals have progressed over the nine weeks I have been teaching. Some have gone out and bought yoga mats and yoga socks which shows a real commitment to practice, which as a teacher, is most rewarding.

For the moment though, it’s back to the books with the hope of completing my Diploma by mid April when I can roll out daily classes and live and breathe yoga 🙂

26th February

Practice time: 6.50-7.30am (40 mins)

It’s been a while since my last entry. I have since passed my second exam (the first theory paper) and now have one more to go before I am a fully certified Yoga Teacher!Vrkshasana.png

Meanwhile, I have also begun teaching as a part-qualified Hatha Yoga teacher. I am now into my 7th week of teaching and have an amazingly loyal following which seems to be growing by the week…The majority of my students are complete beginners and just working with them and watching their confidence grow over the last few weeks has been the most rewarding experience which words would only fail to describe.

It is a free open class offering those in the local community an opportunity to experience the benefits of yoga without any commitment whatsoever, other than the willingness to learn. As a teacher, it enables me to practice outside of my learning realm and to engage with individuals, sharing my knowledge and experience and receiving invaluable feedback which helps me grow as a teacher each day.

Incorporating yoga into our daily lives need  not be a lifestyle change. As human beings we are so embroiled in our routine lives that the thought of change is often a daunting one. The uncertainty it presents is a deterrent in itself. However, the practice of yoga is more akin to a shift in the mind that empowers us to address the self and harmonise the mind and body resulting in an overall well-being which perhaps was not missed before, but will certainly make a difference once discovered!

As I continue to grow in my self-practice, I sense there is much opportunity awaiting post exam, as a qualified teacher. It makes me incredibly happy when I see those who came to my first class without a mat have since made the conscious effort to go out and buy one. That’s when I know my teaching has touched a life.

Yes, the seeds I planted some years ago have slowly been growing. My trees are beginning to stand tall and I will continue to nourish them until the day they are sturdy enough to stand on their own 🙂

23rd January

Practice time: 8-8.30am (30 mins)

Classic example of wordly matters interfering with the practice of Yoga. No I did not abandon my practice -that is a part of my life – but I have not been able to take ‘time out’ to reflect on my practice and hence no entries in this blog for nearly two weeks!

I have a new job. Sadly, it really doesn’t agree with my body 😦 Sitting at my desk all day and working through my measly 30 minute lunch break appears to have inflicted much bodily harm. And all for the love of the job? What? Seriously? I love running my free yoga classes but working in an office for free? Surely that is akin to slavery. Yes, I haven’t been paid for my labour and all because my boss likes to pile on the work but doesn’t have the time to approve my shifts 😡

My body felt alien to me this morning. There was a stiffness in my back and hamstrings that I had never felt before. Only the power of the mind over matter forced my body to bend and extend my arms further to deepen the shoulder stretch following up with Surya Namaskara with deep synchronised breaths.

As I write this post I must reflect on my teaching class last night. With four students returning from last week and three newbies, I was thrilled with the turnout 🙂 The positive energy in the library space was almost tangible and the feedback received after class left me feeling completely fulfilled, alleviating the frustrations of my day job.

11th January

Practice time: 7-7.30am (30 mins)

21 days to form a habit…

Not having been one for writing a diary or sharing my emotions, my journey as a Yoga Teacher in training has taken me to places I have never been before. Hence, despite having submitted my so called “60-hour journal” yesterday, as part of my practical assessment, I feel compelled to continue with my entries…

Yesterday I was completely overwhelmed and unable to form any kind of sentence. The enormity of passing my exam is yet to hit me. Perhaps when I complete the theory aspect and have  my licence to practice in hand will it seem believable.

Utterly grateful to our amazing group of Yoginis (plus one beautifully spirited yogi) and all friends and family who volunteered as “students” for our individual assessments. This would not have been possible without their efforts.

I begin my first teaching class, as a trainee Yoga Teacher in my local library this Friday. There has been much interest from the local community and I am so looking forward to the moment when I can share my learning as a teacher, as well as the benefits I have gained in both body and mind through my own personal yoga practice over the years.

May love and peace prevail over us all…

4th January

Practice time: 6-6.30am (30 mins) plus 8-8.40pm (40 mins)

Back to early morning practice, which I really do prefer. Worked through my vinyasa flow warming up with 12 Sun Salutations with deep inhales and exhales synchronised with each movement. Felt completely invigorated.

My evening session was a 40 minute teaching practice with  my daughter. We opened with three rounds of Surya Namaskara (1.5 guided demo) followed all seven postures in timed conditions. Some asanas, in particular, Utthita Trikonanasa, Bhujangaasana and Jatthara Parivartasana overran whilst others were completed before time. So overall I managed to complete the practice in 40 mins.

Jasmine’s progress over the last month has been remarkable. I have observed a gradual transformation in her practice which I can only attribute to her ever growing confidence. From her initial slouchy postures, she is now holding her  body in good alignment and responds well to the slight adjustments I offer her. It really is wonderfully rewarding for me to see this, not only as a teacher but also a mother! I feel I must make her my model student on whom I can base the structure for my future classes.

1st January – New Years Day!

Practice time: 8.30-9.00am (30 mins)

Ok, so the late night excesses of sheesha and bad eating on the eve of the new year meant my yoga practice this morning was a bit on the shaky side 😦 Not the best of starts to the new year, but I pushed on as usual and managed a reasonably satisfactory session.

The highlight of the day was my evening session. I held a 55 minute teaching practice (6 postures) with 3 of my family members, one of whom sat through most of it but was able to join the opening and closing. I felt my confidence come through as my “students” showed total focus and dedication. By the end of the class they were completely relaxed and in utter awe of the benefits they felt in  mind and body. The feedback was extremely complimentary with a couple of suggestions for improvement in terms of positioning when demonstrating Trikonasana and speed of instruction during the opening phase. The later was due to the fact that I was working with new “students” in this “Week 5 Class”.  It was my voice which apparently enabled the participants to relax and feel as though it was a recording playing in the backround 🙂 A great feeling for me as a teacher.

29th December

Practice time: 9.30-10.15am (45mins)

At my dad’s for a few days and practicing in the loft room where the balcony door overlooks the golf course is stunning view. Ended up making a video of my triangle sequence for my Instagram page simply because it would otherwise have been a lost opportunity.

Seemed to be in good form today and went into Dhanurasa with straight arms for the first time!
Feeling very anxious as want to get through my worksheets before next week when I should be returning to work and also need to up the teaching practice!