In-person yoga from May 17

It’s been a long time since we’ve been in the room together my friends, and many of you have been coming along to Zoom yoga in the meantime – it’s been a privilege to share the journey with you.

So it’s with great excitement that I’ll be seeing some of you from tomorrow, Monday May 17, in person again. You can see the full timetable including details of how to book here. Monday night at the Hanover Centre is now fully booked but there are spaces for Saturday morning’s class and Monday morning at Brighton Natural Health Centre.

Many of you have really enjoyed the convenience, the privacy and being able to drift off – either into deeper meditation or to sleep! – in savasana, so I am also continuing Thursday early evening class, 6-7.15pm on Zoom, link here.

Pregnancy yoga and Mama and Baby yoga will be continuing both on Zoom and in person.

Get in touch to book in-person classes.
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You will need your own mat and if you can, bring a blanket or something warm for Savasana

Easter Bank Holiday

No classes on Easter bank Holiday 2021! Hope you’re all finding peaceful space to connect inwardly and outwardly as we transition into the new season and towards a new post-lockdown social landscape. Hopefully in-person classes will resume from May 17, I will update times and venues as soon as I have confirmation. Until then, it’s all on Zoom, full timetable resumes from Tuesday 6 April.

I’m booking now for therapeutic Thai massages from April 20th to help ease physical and mental states. Get in touch to book your session.
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In the wake of Sarah Everard’s murder, it’s hard not to be reactionary. This feels like an assault on all of us: our feelings of safety, our trust in the world as a kind and just place, protected by the systems of law and governance. It follows close in the wake of the broader post-George Floyd uprising of consciousness around systemic racial inequality. All against the backdrop of a global pandemic, post-Trump, post-Brexit, post-austerity… a series of destabilizing events that have been simultaneously divisive and unifying.

I’m working my way through Adam Curtis’s sprawling and intense Can’t Get You Out of my Head: An Emotional History of The World (Feb 2021, BBC iPlayer) which weaves a narrative through topics such as populism, the rise of individualism, collectivism, conspiracy theories and the corruption of money and power across the globe, from Nazi Germany through to Communist China. The outlook is unsurprisingly bleak and cringe-worthy for white liberals and radicals, shown throughout history to have little effect on the larger powers. It documents too the rise of surveillance technologies and the abuse of power, the layers of which are mind achingly labyrinthine.

Watching the series unfold offers a lens through which to try and make sense of our feelings about Sarah Everard. Illy Morrison writes insightfully at @mixing.up.motherhood (and she writes this compassionately, with the utmost care for Sarah’s grieving family, as do I) that this is how women of colour feel all the time. Under threat. Their children in danger from rather than protected by the police. We might all know Breonna Taylor’s name now but we have not all experienced how this is to exist in a constant state of adrenal arousal, the fear of real harm from the systems allegedly in place for our safety and wellbeing.

Illy explains: ‘Sarah was a cis white middle-class woman and I send all of my condolences to her family because this should never have happened to her, but I have to make it clear that for many Black women, we know that we couldn’t be Sarah because not even a year ago, police stood over the bodies of women like us and took photos to send to their friends, not even a year ago police ignored the suspicious death of a girl found dead on a beach that looked just like us
For many of us, this is why all of this cuts deeper.’

The UK government’s reaction to this is to impose tighter controls, following on from the heavy-handed policing of peaceful (and socially-distancing) women on vigils for Sarah around the country, BLM marches and Extinction Rebellion protests preceding and throughout lockdown. The news this morning includes plans for increased surveillance to ‘increase women’s safety’. What this means, in reality, is greater control, the demise of our civil rights and our ability to protest or defend them publicly.

In yogic terms, rooted in Buddhist philosophy, division is a cause of suffering. Identifying with a self or even a group, characterized by and separated from others, keeps us in a state of fear, anxiety and confusion. We cannot find peace when we are in this aroused state. Biologically the brain resorts to simplified mechanisms, primed for survival. We become more knee-jerk, reactionary.
We feel attacked by, suspicious of and fearful of others. We can feel lost in a sea of information, unable to find or trust any truth. This is characterised by the rise of individualism at the expense of collectivism that Curtis documents.

“The great big shift, which is the root of our age, is that somewhere in the late 1960s, the radical left who talked in terms of power, society, overthrowing the power structure – all that rhetoric – gave up. And instead, encouraged by radical psychotherapy, they went for an alternative idea which said, ‘Okay, if you can’t change the world, in terms of power structure, what you do is change yourself.’”

This reflects Carl Jung’s belief that world change would evolve through individual journeys of self-reflection and improvement. But surely we have to bring the individual experience back to the collective? We all have glimpses of this. From the murders of Sarah Evarard or Diamond ‘Kyree’ Sanders, the 23-year-old black trans woman murdered in Cincinnati on March 3, we are reminded of our collective field, we feel empathy. The same ripples of shock, horror, grief, sadness resonate through us all. When we witness emotion, the same signals fire within our own brains, we feel each other’s experience.

We can feel the same with positive emotions. The collective exhale when we are told we will be able to see our loved ones again after lockdown. The feeling we get when we practise yoga together as a group. Mudita is sympathetic joy, one of the Brahmaviharas, qualities to develop that lead to enlightenment on the Buddhist path.

John Stirk writes in Deeper Still: ‘A group with a unitive focus creates a local field of consciousness… Individual minds contribute to a group mind and collective mentality.’

In practice, the seeds of light – self-improvement, calming of the mind, relaxation, the care and acceptance of the body, the strengthening of the physical and emotional aspects of our being that we may experience on the mat – need to be brought to fruition through attitude and action. Bringing attention to our potential, our power to effect real-world change. This is the message from Curtis’s docu too – that rather than operating like a Google search, simply amassing and reacting to random date, that we take time to listen deeply and respond intelligently.

The documentary ends with a quote from anarchist anthropologist David Graeber: “The ultimate hidden truth of the world is that it is something we make and could just as easily make differently”.

The stories we construct, or are constructed for us through our conditioning, are just that: stories. We can observe their narratives unfold without attaching to them as absolute truth, knowing that there are innumerable intersecting truths at any one moment. Coming back, again and again, to the heart, the breath, a calmer, less dualistic state, through our meditative practises, that allow us to be more reponsive.

Right to Protest Action:
The government’s new Police Crime Bill will criminalise nearly all forms of effective protest. The second reading of the Bill is happening today.
The RIGHT TO PROTEST is the backbone of British democracy and it needs ? protecting ? now ?
ACTIONS YOU CAN TAKE TODAY:
? Contact/ email/ tweet your MP today and ask them to speak out and vote against the bill.
– Find your MP here: https://www.parliament.uk/…/contact-an…/contact-your-mp/
– Example template letter: http://bit.ly/EmailTemplatePCSCBill
– If emailing, ensure to include your name and postcode so you can demonstrate you are one of their constituents
? You may also want to share Liberty’s briefing on the bill and its implications: https://www.libertyhumanrights.org.uk/…/protest…/
? Sign this petition to protect your freedom to protest: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/…/protect-the-freedom-to…
? Educate yourself about what is happening. More information is available here:
– Government website: https://www.gov.uk/…/police-crime-sentencing-and-courts…
– Guardian article: https://www.theguardian.com/…/new-anti-protest-bill…David Graeber

Mothers’ Day

Beyond the saccharine of the marketing. A day to celebrate humanity. Because, whatever our stories (and I’m guessing most of you, like me, have some complicated issues going back through time surrounding motherhood, as well as perhaps your own hang ups about your own status of motherhood) it’s a universal. We all came from a womb, a mother, who evolved from a mother, from a mother, and so on, back through time. At this point in time, we will only evolve forwards through time through mothers.
Regardless of the stories. The behaviours. The doubts. The ‘success’ or ‘failure’ of mothering styles, choices, means, techniques.
So yes, mothers should be celebrated, in all their diversity. Explicitly this includes mothers of children not alive, trans mothers, non-binary mothers who have not birthed their children, mothers of all colours, sizes, physical and mental states, single mothers, surrogate mothers, adoptive mothers, mothers who have birthed in all ways, mothers who have fed their babies, carried their babies, raised their babies in all possible ways. Mothers who have not raised their babies. Childless mothers who bring their love and nurture into the world in ways beyond birth. Mothers who have been victims of their own traumas, who have and who have not worked through this in their own lifetimes. All mothers.
Because without all mothers, none of us would be here.
Celebrate the incredible miracle of motherhood that is creation.
Free of the individual stories, the universality of motherhood.

Find a space to sit and connect with your breath. Visualise behind you your ancestral mothers, going back to the beginning of humanity. Regardless of any stories you know (you might notice in your tissues or the patterning of your breath, the reactivity to these stories, notice them arise and allow them to pass. Notice too and judgement, positive or negative, that arises and allow this too to drop away; Know rather that each of these women was a vital conduit of the universal energy, the life that brought you to this moment).

You might visualise any descendants you have sitting in front of you in the same way, again free from the stories or judgements based on behaviour, known or projected, free from desire or fear.

Feel the connection, like light or colour, pulsing back and forwards through time, connecting you.

Expand this outwards to everyone you know, each connected back and forwards through time to ancestors and descendents.

The same for every sentient being.

All connected.

Like an endless tunnel of light, interwoven webs of connectivity, every being like a star in and endless constellation of life.
Just as every cell in every being is connected in an ever-shifting patterning of form, the group field of energy expanding in all directions, infinitely. From, to and beyond Mother Earth.

Know that all your personal stories, thoughts, feelings and emotions, however consuming they may feel: ‘Am I a good enough mother?’, ‘I am…’, ‘my mother is/was…’, are not a definition of truth, rather a brief snapshot in an infinite sea of passing experiences.

So reacting to is a distraction. Rather listen, observe and allow to pass. Responsiveness arises when we allow in this way. Expansive as the time you may take for yourself today to simply be. Mother. Mothered. Part of a unifying whole, drawing on the energy of this wholeness and therefore not alone in your experience right now, whatever it is.

Wherever you are on your mothering journey, we see each other. We feel each other. Every single one of us connected with love ?

Lift in Lockdown

BOOK NOW: Jan 24th

2pm – 5pm on Zoom

£30 p/p waged, £25 non-waged

Allow us to hold a safe space where you can be cosy, comfortable, and deeply relaxed.

Our theme ‘Lift in Lockdown’, welcomes the release of that which does not serve us and encourage and sustain inner beauty and peace.

Embracing uncertainty, we can build capacity to adapt, thrive and help shape our changing societal landscape.

We have designed this deeply nourishing Sunday workshop for you – an afternoon includes calming and healing meditation, pranayama, mantra, self-enquiry writing, sound and gentle releasing and resilience-building asana.

We will include some Self Thai Yoga Massage techniques which you can also practice on your loved ones. You may choose to come with and share the event with a loved one in your household or come as you are; able to enjoy practising together as a community.

Our desire is to build capacity for Conscious loving Awareness and to Observe ourselves with loving Kindness.

You are asked to please bring a notebook and pen, a yoga mat, blankets and cushions for lots of comfort.

If you are challenged financially and would like to join us, please get in touch.

Boulder Brighton 5 Comp Day

unnamed-1Warm ups, Thai yoga massage tasters and partner yoga session

I will be on hand during the Boulder Brighton FIVE event, an exciting day of competitions, to help with warm-ups, thai yoga massage tasters and a partner yoga session before the finals.

Comp yoga warm-ups
13:15-13:45 Open Comp warm up
14:15-14.45 Fun Comp warm up

Fun, fast-flowing, strengthening yoga sessions to prepare body and mind for the comps, we’ll look at ways to warm up muscles, open the joints and explore balance (adaptable for all levels of experience, every body welcome).
Upstairs in the yoga room

Thai yoga massage
17:00-18:00 Shoulder & foot Thai Yoga massage clinic

10mins slots, downstairs by Traverse, book on the day

Partner Yoga & Massage Session
18:00-19:00 Partner Yoga & Massage Session
The perfect warm down after the comp! Stretch out and relax together, learn some simple and accessible yoga and massage techniques to use after climbing with friends.
Upstairs in the yoga room

Book your slot/spot for any of the yoga/massage sessions, email leonie@centredspace.net.

All Yoga & Massage sessions will be run on a donation basis, collecting for the Dorset Bolt Fund, a volunteer run organisation that maintains the safety equipment in our local sea crags (https://dorsetboltfund.co.uk/)

A female space

leojanie15

Throughout time, women have come together, from prehistoric times around the fire to raising consciousness in the 1960s, or in online groups on the internet… the congregation of women sharing, healing, caring, grieving, connecting in community has always been powerful.

From teenagers transitioning through puberty to women transforming through conception and childbearing, to the wise women moving through and beyond menopause; creating space for women of all ages to connect and hold space for themselves and each other can be incredibly enriching and enlightening.

In women’s yoga classes, we will explore the uniqueness of our own bodies, creating space to listen, respond and respectfully move with consciousness, encouraging self care and self-acceptance. Asanas will be facilitated in an entirely adaptive way, empowering each woman in the class, whatever her experience or physical abilities. We will use props and support where appropriate to allow unfolding of deep held tensions as they arise, noticing habits – physical and emotional – and allowing space to be curious, open and compassionate. Meditation, mantra, pranayama and nidra techniques will further allow quietening, to improve a sense of wellbeing and connectivity to our intuitive wisdom.

Women’s yoga classes will begin in the new year:
Tuesdays 1-2pm from January 3 2017 at Unity Studios, Lewes Road
Fridays 1-2pm from January 13 2017 at the Phoenix Community Centre, Phoenix Place.
Classes are drop in.
£10 per session/8 concessions, £90/70 for 10 sessions

REST, nourishing yoga day retreat for Mamas are also booking now, January 28 and February 18 2017. Read more…

Compassion and lasagne

58d0cf4813e442201eb26cc341fcf704539034f4Today I made a veggie lasagne.
This is both unremarkable and totally remarkable.
I came into the house earlier, with 20 minutes ‘between things’ and a quiche set out to make… ingredients ready… pastry out of date and mouldy beyond use.

Hell!

Projection of impossible equation:
washing to hang out
+ dishwasher to unpack
+ swimming kit to pack
+ Skype meeting to stick to
+ admin
+ two children to collect from school
+ two swimming lessons
+ 20 mins at home later with hungry post swimmers to feed before dance class for older child
+ a partridge in a pear tree
= AAARRGGGGGGHHHHHH! + chaos.
Take a breath.
What is in my cupboard? Both literally and metaphorically.
What can I NOT do right now?
What can I?

20 minutes later a veggie lasagne made, the cheese sauce possibly a little runny.
Swimming kit packed.
Ready for Skype meeting, more or less.
Maybe you’re congratulating me at this point, recognising the juggle of seemingly ‘trivial’ tasks. But that’s not the point.
Maybe you’re not judging me for the mess in my kitchen. But that’s not the point.
Maybe my partner doesn’t mind that there’s wet washing to hang and my ‘job’ is not complete. But that’s not the point.
Maybe my kids would be just as happy with beans on toast. But that’s not the point.
The point is, I have done what I can, in the time I have, with the resources I have available to me right now.
My expectations may have been unrealistic.
Any self criticism is unnecessary.
All that in 20 minutes, a microcosm of the everyday… with kindness.

(Please note, I didn’t have time with all this to photo, upload, edit my own lasagne pic so this is someone else’s less messy version 😉 )

Don’t miss now missing your ‘self’

Reading this article this morning (Dear Motherhood, I miss me), it strikes me how painful this idea is, of ourselves, the ‘me’ being a person that was in the past, ‘before motherhood’ or the feeling that we will ‘get back to…’ feeling or being a certain way, or perhaps in time we might evolve to be… whatever.
For me, this is where yoga and mindfulness are so important: letting go of the past and not projecting into the future. Sure, motherhood can be all these things, described in the article – isolating, hard, thankless, joyful, overwhelming… – and it’s vital we talk about it with frankness and compassion (this is why I et up UMEmamas as a support network for parents) but if you hang on to a sense of identity that is based on where you have been, a feeling of being defined by your career, say, or being seen as a certain kind of person (parent or not), there is an inevitable sense of suffering, of loss.
We can feel this with age, too, that sense of ‘missing’ our youth, perhaps feeling regretful for the passage of time, opportunities now past, bodies changed, friends lost… but all this is futile because we can’t go back. Just as the teenager who tries to appear older, or the toddler who tantrums at their inability to perform some physical task or control what’s for dinner, cannot speed up time.
It is not that that this sense of loss isn’t very real and that we can’t experience these feelings, more that if we attach to this fixed identity, we can’t see or be what is present. Why is the ‘me’ as a mother, in my pyjamas with unbrushed hair and milk sick down my back, listening and responding to my child at three in the morning, less valid than the ‘me’ on the mat, engaged and present, listening to the gradual opening of my shoulder or feeling my feet settling, my breath flowing; or the me in a business meeting, dazzling a room full of people with my intellect and ideas?
This is a constant, whether we are parents or not, the practise of letting go of our attachments to being perceived in a particular way we prefer or like less, to our anxieties, to our sense of a fixed self.
At this time, interestingly, I am coming to this feeling of shifting identity as a mother at the point where my youngest has started school: as I leave her, my last child, and walk back through world with no small hand to hold, no clear indicator to the outside world that this very important aspect of ‘me’ even exists, I find myself noticing the sadness, the feeling of loss at no longer being part of this world, but at the same point recognising that this isn’t more or less ‘me’, just different, time and context evolving, experience moving with time and space.
Life is painful, sad, tiring, boring, frustrating, beautiful, inspiring, frightening… (add in every/any adjective), and we all have the full spectrum of physical and emotional experiences. The art to peace, just being, self-acceptance, comes in recognising all this, holding it equally, and quietly observing that, just as the breath flow, the sea follows the tides, or the clouds move through the sky, it is all equal, all held, and all loved.

Read The myth of ‘me time’

Number Four

Meditation on impermanence as my last ‘Baby’ starts school!

Number Four

You were my last, the accumulation of a body stretched and practised enough for ease, for romance, for oxytocin, for peace in the living room… Instantly absorbed into the chaos of your big family, easy going, suck, suck, suck, slung around in the sling baby. Yoga baby.

Up at one… two… three… four… baby, but just breathed in, every stroke of your duckling hair the last, because I knew you would grow, I knew we would never be like this… like this… like this… like this… again, Baby.

The last one to breastfeed; no rush to stop, nothing to do but this, nowhere to be. You not even drinking but sucking, sucking, sucking, sucking… me drinking in the exquisite, ephemeral, exhausting nature of being needed by you, by anyone, like this… for the last time.

Four years, number Four: my little companion. No rush. Dreams, plans, practicalities… all at arms length, not waiting for but knowing they’d come, being with you in the ever shifting here and now. Each first – smiles, giggles, steps, words… the last time. Savoured.

School, the first day. The last time: the end of being Mama, like that. Not sure what like this feels like. What I am shifting again.

Breathing, tears on the surface, letting go.