Strength through stillness

The holiday season is but a distant memory, we’re not sure whether Summer really is on the horizon, and we’re only just re-remembering that Spring always dances a merry dance of sunshine and cold, cold rain. At this time of year, we are yearning for stability in our lives even more than usual, and with a grounding Transformational Yoga practice we can find our strength through stillness.

The term grounding means connecting to the earth, and is associated with feelings of balance, centeredness and connection.

For many of us it requires a shift in our thinking mind, as we’ve become used to leading goal-oriented lives: going forward, moving up, growing up, waking up…which we can still be and do, though it’s also important to have strong foundations, healthy roots.

According to the chakra system (energy centres linked to our endocrine system) and in Ayurveda (traditional Indian medicine), “root” issues (like family, security, boundaries and new beginnings) often manifest physically (for instance in the back, legs, feet and bones). To counter these root issues, let’s go outside and relax into nature…

A simple practice

Either standing or sitting, take a minute to ground yourself. Feel the strength and security in your feet, up through your legs and up and outwards across your hips. You are a part of the earth, you are fully supported. Breathe in, grow upwards; breathe out, ground downwards.

Grounding through asanas

Maha Yoga Tadasana 1Maha Yoga Tadasana 2 Tadasana, or mountain pose, is one of the most balancing poses in yoga. Tada means mountain, and in the pose, your feet are firmly rooted to the ground while the crown of your head acknowledges the sky. While in tadasana, imagine your feet sprouting roots that draw deeply down into the ground.
Benefits: Improves posture // Strengthens thighs, knees, and ankles // Firms abdomen and buttocks // Relieves sciatica // Reduces flat feet
Virabhadrasana II (Virabhadra = the name of a fierce warrior, an incarnation of Shiva, described as having a thousand heads, a thousand eyes, and a thousand feet, wielding a thousand clubs, and wearing a tiger’s skin), or Warrior II requires concentration and core strength. With an unbalanced muladhara (root) chakra, your fight or flight instinct is activated. Virabhadrasana gives you the strength to face your fears.
Benefits: Strengthens and stretches the legs and ankles // Stretches the groins, chest and lungs, shoulders // Stimulates abdominal organs // Increases stamina // Relieves backaches, especially through second trimester of pregnancy // Therapeutic for carpal tunnel syndrome, flat feet, infertility, osteoporosis, and sciatica
Maha Yoga virabhadrasana ii
Maha Yoga uttanasana Uttanasana, or standing forward bend, helps soothe the mind from “monkey mind” or anxious thoughts. Stress and anxiety are hallmarks of unbalanced muladhara (root) chakra. Coupling uttanasana with deep breathing stabilizes and focuses the mind.
Benefits: Calms the brain and helps relieve stress and mild depression // Stimulates the liver and kidneys // Stretches the hamstrings, calves, and hips // Strengthens the thighs and knees // Improves digestion // Helps relieve the symptoms of menopause // Reduces fatigue and anxiety // Relieves headache and insomnia // Therapeutic for asthma, high blood pressure, infertility, osteoporosis, and sinusitis
Setu Bandha Sarvangasana is bridge pose, another grounding pose that stabilizes the core and deepens as the feet become more firmly rooted in the floor. Setu bandha sarvangasana lifts the spirit with the heart, establishing a bond between our physical, emotional, mental and spiritual bodies.
Benefits: Stretches the chest, neck, and spine // Calms the brain and helps alleviate stress and mild depression // Stimulates abdominal organs, lungs, and thyroid // Rejuvenates tired legs // Improves digestion // Helps relieve the symptoms of menopause // Relieves menstrual discomfort when done supported // Reduces anxiety, fatigue, backache, headache, and insomnia // Therapeutic for asthma, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, and sinusitis
Maha Yoga setu bandha sarvangasana 1Maha Yoga setu bandha sarvangasana 2

Hug a tree

Whether with yoga asanas, a tree visualisation, getting back to nature or by hugging a tree, we can treat our “nature deficit disorder”.

Hug a tree – it’s science, don’t you know?! (Yes you can, no one’s looking. And if they were, they might just want to join in!)

We will be focusing on these grounding asanas in our Transformational Yoga practice, every Wednesday morning and Sunday evening at Brixton BASS.  Book onto a new block of 6 classes beginning April 2nd. 

Capturing the divine light

I have a friend.  A multi-dimensional friend.  He has many gifts.

I may not recall them all here, but I’ll give it a go:


While we were teaching, studying and learning at the SriMa International School of Transformational Yoga in Auroville this January – a special place to deepen our knowledge and connect with the divine mother energy – he took the time, while being all of these things, to capture some fantastic images of the students, teachers and masters.  

Thank you Uttar Kashi, Bombay Yogi.


Here I’m practicing the first asana set of our Transformational Yoga practice – the Chakra Set.  I hope you find these images of the sequence useful.

What does Maha Yoga mean?

In Sanskrit Maha means Great and Yoga means Unity. The Sanskrit term Maha is used to describe Yoga that includes the combination of the four main yogic paths:

Bhakti Yoga – Devotion   The devotional practices of Bhakti Yoga help to open ones heart and channel our emotions to a higher level of consciousness by appreciating the divine in all aspects of nature.

Jnana Yoga – Knowledge or Wisdom   With a solid foundation of the other three paths of Yoga, the Jnana Yogi emabarks on the advanced path of deep enquiry into the true nature of the self. Through study of the scriptures and meditation on what is real and what is unreal the Jnana Yogi strives to rest in the true nature of the self.

Karma Yoga – Action   Karma Yoga is selfless service without attachment to the fruits of ones actions. By serving others we are able to purify by burning the ego and developing compassion.

Raja Yoga – Physical and Mental Control   Raja Yoga is formed of the eight limbs also known as Ashtanga Yoga. They are a systematic process of purification and concentration techniques gaining control of the body and mind, leading to meditation. Raja Yoga is therefore known as the Royal Path.

Swami Sivananda recognised that every Yogi, or human being for that matter, possesses and identifies with each of these elements: intellect, heart, body and mind. He therefore advocated everyone to practice certain techniques from each path. This came to be known as the Yoga of Synthesis.

Transformational Yoga – a truly integral yogic system

Transformational Yoga goes far beyond just physical exercise.  While offering a complete approach to wellbeing, Transformational Yoga takes into account physical, emotional, mental and spiritual aspects of health, giving you the tools you need in order to make a difference in your everyday life.

Transformational Yoga combines different yogic systems and techniques:

  • Hatha yoga asanas / physical postures
  • Pranayama breathing exercises
  • Mantra for relaxation and meditation

This in depth focus gives you the knowledge you need to purify your body, stabilise your emotions, focus your mind, and increase your spiritual wellbeing.  

Transformational Yoga is is based on the teachings of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, and is based on the premise that every individual harbours in the core of his or her being, the capacity to continuously experience pure consciousness – characteristics of which are good health, emotional balance and mental and spiritual clarity.  It functions on a deeper level to stimulate kundalini energy to move up through the chakras – the key energy centres in the body – purifying and awakening the pure spiritual body.

Transformational Yoga is a powerful system that activates these inner resources that allow students to live in a state of inner wellbeing that lightens the pressures of contemporary living.

“Transformational Yoga is a means to relax, clean and awaken all seven chakras through yogasana, pranayama and mantra.”  Swami Vidyanand, founder of the Transformational Yoga system