what’s your way?

I would like to encourage you today to pause for a moment and think of how you support your body to stay healthy and strong. Can I share with you what I do to support mine? My priority is:
– a good quality 8h sleep in a cool, well ventilated room
– hydration as I have the tendency to forget to drink liquids
– regular homemade meals, I try to eat healthy, but will never say ‘no’ to a good portion of chips 🙂
– morning meditation, if I’m busy it could be as little as 10min, but this is my daily mental and emotional check-in
– regular movement that supports my lifestyle, past injuries, my age etc, the yoga practice is my main activity, but I also love cycling, nordic walking and spending time out in the countryside

What is your way to stay healthy? Is yoga a part of it?
If you’d like to come back on the mat or try it for the first time, it may be easier to do it in a group environment. It may be easier to book a full 6 weeks course, this way you commit to 6 sessions and create a momentum that will turn into a healthy habit. It’s easier and much safer when you’re guided through a practice with clear, useful instructions coming from the experience of the teacher rather than following random videos on YT.
Check the current calendar to join the next beginners course.

Deep sleep

There are many things we can do to keep our body healthy, our mind calm, rested and our immune system doing it’s job. Sleep is so often overlooked but it’s so, so important. Somehow in our culture not needing much sleep is considered an advantage by some. How did this happen I’m asking? Very often we don’t realise that our afternoon and evening habits may not be actually supporting a good, nourishing sleep. Here’s what may help with healthy, restorative sleep…

1. Avoid eating heavy meals in the evening. If you can, switch to eating your main meal at lunch time, when your agni (Ayurvedic term for digestive fire) is at it’s strongest, and having something lighter in the evening.

2. Tea, coffee, energy drinks, even hot chocolate contain caffeine, a stimulant that keeps your mind active. Instead, drink a warming Ayurvedic of warm milk (cow’s or plant based) mixed with a pinch of nutmeg. Nutmeg contains magnesium helping to quiet the nervous system and prepare us for sleep. Herbal tea like chamomile or lavender is a good option too.

3. Create a habit of oil massaging your hands and feet before sleep. Your hands and feet both contain balancing pressure points, that when stimulated, help relieve stress and promote calmness.

4. Get into a good daily routine that you can stick to, like going to bed and waking up at roughly the same time each day, eating at regular meal times, even at the weekend.

I hope these few tips will help and you enjoy a restful sleep my friends 🙂

Why do we meditate?

How to advertise meditation? How to show on visually focused social media what meditation is if everything happens inside? How to encourage others to try it without promising some incredible out of body experiences, enlightenment or other ‘spiritual fireworks’? I can do it by sharing my experiences. And why do I meditate? Why do I spend every morning doing nothing with my eyes closed?

Imagine a house that’s never been cleaned, never ever, for years. Well this is what I found within me when I turned my focus inwards. So I started cleaning, removing dirt and dust, step by step, layer after layer. It’s not a sprint, rather a marathon. And the further I go the cleaner the house gets, the more space I feel, the more understanding I have and the more I love my life?

Polish Yoga :)

Picking wild mushrooms is a kind of Polish yoga. It’s very popular in my home country, many people practise it and most have at least a general knowledge of the most popular edible species.There is a whole culture, rituals, do’s and don’ts around it. I was never into it although I love eating mushrooms, cooked, fried, marinated. How did it happen that I was never interested??? We learn a lot about plants and animals, but not much attention goes to fungi. Our last trip to Scotland completely blew me away with the wild mushroom abundance. By being more aware of them, noticing them, recognising them I feel like I’m opening to a whole different world that was invisible before. Now I definitely want to know more….

Level 1 or Level 2? What’s the difference?

I usually offer these two yoga courses for beginners, level 1 on Mondays and level 2 on Wednesdays.
What is the difference between them, you may be wondering 🙂

Lev1 course is great for complete beginners not only in yoga but in general if you haven’t been moving your body much recently. It will introduce you to how your body moves, how it feels in different shapes, many of them may be completely new to the body. So there is lots of space during the course to explore different options, we’re learning how the blocks, straps, blankets (yes, we start finally using the yoga equipment again !!!) can help us and support the body in the yoga practice. We learn to observe how we’re breathing, naturally and some simple breathing techniques helping to stimulate or calm our body depending on the current need. In 6 1h sessions you are introduced to some basic movements and postures, but what we’re able to cover in 6hours is just the beginning. There is so much more, so many other movements and poses that we do not have time to try in our lev1 course. This is where lev2 comes in. It’s still for beginners, we’re still learning, experimenting with props and different options but having the additional 6 hours simply allows us to explore more. If you feel like you’d like to try one or both, check the calendar and book your space.

Why using Sanskrit?

If you have ever tried speaking another language you probably noticed how different you sound, maybe even hold or move your body as you speak different languages? I’m amazed by how different I sound and even feel using different languages. Each language has its own sounds, structure, its own melody and rhythm. Sanskrit is kind of special 🙂

Being one of the oldest languages, in the beginning it would not be written down, only chanted because the key element is the pronunciation. It is sometimes called a language of vibration, it’s power lies in the soft and resonant sound. If we think about it, everything around us is nothing but a vibration of atoms and molecules, modern science confirms that. Coming in contact with the language of vibration gives the opportunity to bring us closer to experiencing the world around us and what we are essentially. We can feel it through vibrations. Why wouldn’t we use a powerful tool like that in our yoga practice?

Sciences like Yoga and Ayurveda developed over many centuries and the accumulated knowledge was recorded in Sanskrit, both orally and in writing, describing concepts, tools or states of being that are not described by other, more modern languages that we use today to communicate. Let’s take for example the word ‘Namaste’ or ‘Namaskar’, it can be loosely translated as ‘I bow to you’ or ‘the light/divine in me recognises and bows to the light/divine in you’. Isn’t it beautiful? Do you know one word in your language that carries the same or similar meaning? One word that includes the acknowledgement of another person, their divinity, the light within them? I don’t and maybe this is why I love greeting my students in the class with ‘Namaste’.
See you on  the mat my friends 🙂

Booking Is Now Open – Studio Yoga Classes Return

Yoga with Benita in Barking East London - Spring 2021 Reopening

I know that many of you have been waiting for this moment for weeks now.

We are back in The Boathouse Barking Studios from 17th of May!!! We will have limited spaces to keep the safe distance between the mats therefore all bookings need to be done online.For now I’m planning to do both online zoom classes and in person classes at the same time. Eventually however I’d like to do them separately so changes in days and times will come in a couple of weeks.

You will see some minor changes on my website to allow you to book in-person classes, including monthly access and 6 class pack, online classes and new 6 weeks course for beginners that is starting in June. I hope you’re as excited as I am or maybe even more 🙂

Can you practice Yoga purely as a form of sport, without believing in its system of values?

Yoga is not a belief system, yogi is not a believer, yogi is a seeker. We start our yoga journey at different points and circumstances in our life, very often interested in purely physical results. But this is where the power of yoga is, it is a path of seeking and discovering. When you’re constantly encouraged to listen to your breath, observe your body in every yoga class, sooner or later you will notice that there is more to this ancient science than just stretching and toning the body. I remember my first yoga class, the only reason I went there was my back pain that was getting worse and worse. I didn’t know anything about yoga and my colleague said it might help. I remember confusion, frustration as my body was so out of balance. I cried in savasana hearing words: let go, let go of everything…. what a relief for this stressed corporate worker that I was back then. I didn’t expect that reaction, these emotions. It wasn’t comfortable, nobody else cried, what would they think about me. But there was a part of me that didn’t actually care and wanted to learn more.
And if you told me back then that one day I’d be meditating for 11hours a day, I would think you’re mad. And yet, here I am, over a decade later seeing my own practice and what I want to teach from a very different perspective. We have our own time and pace to experience and understand certain aspects of yoga. And if you want to just stretch and relax, that’s fine. But yoga is more like a marathon, rather than a 100m sprint so you may get bored pretty quickly when focusing on just stretching 😉

From a perspective of a teacher I’ll add that this is our, yoga teachers’ big responsibility to continue communicating all the potential of this practice, as best as we understand and experience it and the students we meet will walk their own path of self discovery and take what resonates with them, what and when they are ready to understand and embrace in their practice. This superficial layer of yoga advertised in the media as exercise with catchy titles like- sixpack in 20min power yoga class, calm mind in 5mins etc will continue to be there but it’s up to us, yoga practitioners, both teachers and students to make sure we do not stupefy yoga. And at the end of the day it’s better to ‘do some yoga’ than not moving at all, right?

Cultural appropriation of Yoga

Can we use the yoga practice here in the west, meaning western, white culture in a way that respects the tradition, the deep meaning and roots of yoga? I guess cultural appropriation is inevitable in today’s world, it times of free and easy travel, free and instant exchange of information. There is so much variety in the world but at the same time not enough time to look deeper into the actual meaning of the symbol, gesture, word or custom. When we’re constantly encouraged to buy more, earn more we may not have time or energy to pause to understand the true meaning and context of what we do or use. But the beauty of the yoga practice is that we do exactly that, we pause and listen. And where do we start our yoga practice? With yamas and niyamas, giving us a guide on how to behave inwardly towards ourselves and outwardly in the world. It’s crucial to know yamas and niyamas, it’s a very concrete place to start to avoid bringing old patterns, beliefs and potentially bad habits onto the mat as much as possible. My yoga practice is teaching me to be humble, there is more and more that I experience and understand, but at the same time the more I learn the more I know how little I know, how much more there is in the tradition of yoga to learn. Constant learning and self-study is so, so important.
But hey…. we’re all on this journey, individually and collectively, so let’s be kind to ourselves and acknowledge that we’re probably all guilty of cultural appropriation whether it applies to yoga or any other aspect, after all we drink Italian coffees, Chinese teas, eat Japanese sushi etc, right? Mixing of cultures is inevitable and it’s beautiful.
I was born in eastern Europe in times of communism and now live in a free western European country. This experience gives a great perspective on nuances and differences between countries, cultures, languages. I’ve seen and experienced many misunderstandings over the years. But I love and deeply appreciate them, I love being exposed to differences as this allows me to understand, become more sensitive and eventually grow. If we look back at let’s say European history, cultures, languages, different customs have been mixing right from the beginning.
I’m very mindful of symbols that I’d use or wear while teaching or promoting yoga. I would do it with the best understanding I can have and only if the symbol or tool really resonates with me. Does it mean that wearing my Ganesh yoga top is a cultural appropriation? If it is offending any Ganesha devotee, I do apologise. But I studied and learned about Ganesha and when wearing it I’m aware of the meaning of this deity.
But there is another side to this. Would applying yoga to our lifestyles and problems, which may require modifications, adaptations, some changes, would it be a cultural appropriation? I feel it’s necessary to modify how we practice yoga in the west. We have different bodies, an average yoga practitioner in the west is 30yrs old woman. We have different lifestyles, an average yoga practitioner in the west is finding squatting a challenge. We sit at the desk a lot, having problems with spine, hips, knees, even wrists nowadays, problems with blood pressure, obesity, diabetes and so on. We definitely need to change the way we move on the mat. When yoga came to the west we took what was created just over 100 years ago by few Indian men for young Indian boys and incorporated it as a practice for western female bodies. And as a result of following fixed rules without deeper connection and understanding, women practising ashtanga yoga since 60s or 70s are having hip replacements now in their 70s and 80s. This is not what yoga is about, it’s misunderstanding of the essence of yoga. There is a term in Sanskrit: Anitya, meaning change, impermanence of everything, one of the basic laws of nature. Yoga has been, is and will be changing.
So coming back to the original question: how do we know we’re appropriating yoga? When we use the tools of yoga without studying and learning what they are, where they come from and how to apply them to our modern western busy lives.

This is a part of the conversation with @ola_dalek. Check her on Instagram for more.

Online Live Yoga Sessions

Current situation is quite unusual and will be affecting more and more of us this way or another.
I truly believe we need to have a practice, rituals that help us to stay sane in times of challenges and uncertainty.
As I continue my own yoga and meditation practice daily, I’m also doing what I can to encourage and support you in practising too, with whatever tools I have available. Practices like yoga and meditation with their calming and balancing effects are needed now more than ever.

Therefore we’re going online with our yoga classes and sound relaxation.
I know that online session are not the same as face to face classes in our lovely studio, also some of us may start worrying about the financial situation therefore I’m reducing the pricing of all the classes.

Reduced prices for online sessions:
– drop-in single class – £8
– block of 6 classes (2 months expiry from purchase date) – £45
– monthly – unlimited access to all classes for a month – £40
*these prices do not apply to special events, like Gong Baths, workshops etc

If you’re interested in joining, please follow these steps:
-please make a payment up to 30 min before the start of the class. This will give me enough time to send you the link to access the class. Classes will shows different payment options, choose the. You can pay via PayPal or credit/debit card. You’ll receive a link 10-15 min before the start
-if you purchase a block of 6, please let me know on the day that you’re joining so I can send you the link to the class you’re interested
-if you’re on a monthly option, you’ll be sent the link automatically to each open class for a month. Monthly members additionally receive the recordings of the sessions so they can practice again on their own.

We meet via ZOOM platform – if you use the desktop/ ZOOM app – on the phone so please make sure you have the app installed on your phone and you’re logged in to start the class. The use of this platform is very simple.

You will need space to move during the session, you may ventilate the room before the session.
You may want to use the yoga mat but please do not panic if you don’t have one. Any cotton rug, blanket or carpet will do ? You may also want to prepare a blanket or cushion to sit on or cover the body in savasana – your final relaxation.

I hope you’ll join me so we continue practising together, stay connected and support each other even if we’re not able to meet at the studio.

Hugs to you all , Benita