Passed on some of the information and exercises that were covered in the Pranayama workshop. Students were interested to learn that the Ujjayi/Ocean breath, often touted as the breath to use in posture work, is no longer recommended for that purpose.

Also known as the psychic breath, it is primarily a meditative breath which leads to altered states of consciousness.

We focused this week on the 3-part yogic breath, simply locating and familiarising ourselves with the different sections and names used when describing basic breathing techniques. Always useful to go right back to basics and check you haven’t slipped into bad habits or misunderstandings!

Pranayama workshop

There was no Yoga 4 Faces this month as I was attending a Pranayama taster workshop led by Philip Xerri.

It was a whistle-stop tour through various breathing practices. The three-part yogic breath was likened to practising scales on the piano – preparation for the tunes/more advanced pranayama exercises.

I particularly liked the Polarity Breath which is meant to harmonize the Koshas or the different levels of the body – the physical body, energy body, mental body, intellectual body and the bliss body. This was performed as a relaxation practice, supposed to realign the body at a cellular level.

Another interesting exercise was Surya Pranayama Mudra. A simple breath and movement exercise acknowledging the sun (surya) as the nourishing centre of our lives. As we stretched our arms forward we visualised the sun resting between our thumbs and then drew its energy into our hearts.

Smiles in unexpected places No.16

Or perhaps unexpected smiles in daily places…

Yesterday on the train there was an announcement that it was the train driver’s birthday and could we all give him a smile and a wave as we got off. Most people did!!


Time to reflect on some other events over the past month.


On 29th September Radio 3 did a great programme based on Holst’s Planets suite with Brian Cox introducing each piece of music with science and facts pertaining to that particular planet. It was a really meditative way of listening to Holst’s music.

It inspired me to dig out a newspaper cutting about the image of Earth taken as the Cassini telescope passed by the rings of Saturn. This iconic image is titled, for obvious reasons, The Pale Blue Dot. I showed it to my students that week and they agreed it could put a different perspective on how we view ourselves, our lives, our problems.

I hadn’t realised that NASA had organised people to go out and wave as the camera took the shot!!

The obvious relaxation for that week was the one where we zoom out through the solar system to the outer reaches of the universe…


10th October was Mental Health Awareness day and I delivered a yoga session at Arup Architect’s office in Newcastle. I encouraged participants to consider the concept that less is more; that while it might seem like time-wasting to stop work and do yoga when feeling stressed and overwhelmed, it can actually leave you feeling mentally refreshed and physically recharged.



The monthly session on 6th October had a topical feel. I got the group singing Dancing Queen in laughter language, complete with Theresa May jazz hands. However, in my excitement, I forgot the opening chords, started at the chorus and everyone sang out of sync and out of tune for the duration of the song. No one laughed at the time, but in hindsight it was hysterically bad!!!










A very successful laughter session today as part of Newcastle University’s MBA programme. It came on the heels of a lecture about reflexivity/self-reflection – important tools in the business world.

The group of 28 international students were willing participants and their obvious enjoyment was infectious!

There was some interesting feedback in the debrief afterwards. It was unanimously agreed that they had experienced spontaneous laughter during the session.

One participant said she could feel the endorphins released.

Another, who had experienced laughter groups in India, said today’s session was ‘very professional’.

A great point was made that the students could use what they learnt today to help them recognise stress building up in themselves and others and perhaps just start the ‘ho ho’ chant to remind each other to step back and breathe.

I did my own bit of self reflection post-class, observing that I was actually amused today by the Halloween ‘Spooky Voice’ self-service till in Poundland.

Ahh, the power of laughter endorphins!!



Horse to Hyperloop, Cooper’s Studios, Newcastle

Great former horse auction mart, now a grade 2 listed building (it being the last of its kind in the country). There’s a brief history of transport, and a chance to send a canister through a spaghetti junction of clear Plexiglas tubing. Awesome fun!

Can’t for the life of me make a link with yoga out of this one though…unless we start talking about the Siddhis…the yogic powers…