Why Mysore Self Practice?

(following written by Jo, student at Bayoga Studio)

The sun was a red ball in a hazy sky as I made my drive through the glorious Ashridge woods on a  cold Spring morning today, at the early time of 6.00am.  I could see movement in the trees, and sure enough there were my friends, the deer, all twenty of them waitingdeer_edited-1 for the right moment to cross the road. Their timing is always perfect, just as I get to within a metre of them, across they go; forcing me to slam on my breaks and stop to admire their beauty. It is like they are playing a deer form of dare; seeing how close they can get to the redhead in a knackered silver car without hurting themselves, or me.

It is a lovely group in the morning Mysore class and we always greet each other with a massive smile; especially now the mornings are lighter. With such a glorious start to the morning, it came as a shock to me that as I bent down into the first forward bend of my practice, my feet were further away from my waist; a good foot I would say. I’m 42, surely I cannot have grown during my sleep and yet I am certain they were closer the last time I got on my mat. This is the beauty and one of the many challenges of an early morning practice. Your body is very different first thing in the morning than later in the day, the muscles have yet to wake up, making the opening sun salutations interesting. Yet, this is what I love about Ashtanga and self-practice; the sequence is the same every time I get on my mat and yet my body is different each time.

My first introduction to a self- practice yoga class was in a conversation with an old school friend and neighbour Sarah. After losing contact for several years, the wonders of social media  got us back into contact 2ed55eb52ade16ecb33e9f6df7ee2c83and we were overjoyed to discover that we both practiced yoga. We had sat with our mums’ 1970s yoga book when we were little performing the lion pose with much jollity.
At the time I was practicing Hatha in various church halls and gyms in my local area, Sarah talked of Ashtanga and in particular a self practice class. My only experience of yoga had been with an instructor telling me which pose to attempt next, from their mat in the front of the class. The idea of a self-practice class sounded bizarre; what did they do turn up and throw some shapes before going home? I really had no idea, however, I nodded wisely and hid my ignorance. It was at least a year later until I encountered an Ashtanga practice and about another 6 months before I threw my own shapes in a Mysore self-practice class! I can safely say it was love at first down dog.

What does it bring? Why repeat the same sequence practice after practice? Doesn’t it get boring? These are some of the questions that get asked and indeed are ones that I asked Sarah when I realised she wasn’t just rocking up in a church hall and striking a pose of her choice.

A common misconception is that a Mysore self-practice class is only for the regular ashtanga practitioner with an established pratice, when actually it is the perfect place for a beginner to learn. The primary series is taught a posture (asana) at a time, with the new student only moving on when they are familiar with what they have learned so far. Yes it is physically demanding but because the body is learning the sequence and the movements are made with the ujjayi breath, after time it becomes a moving meditation; a connection between body and breath. Although each student is at a different place in thier practice during a Mysore class, unity is found in the sound of the breath which can be heard as a background note to the class. You can turn up knackered, grumpy, shaky (having narrowly missing a deer on your journey there) place your mat down to someone deep in their practice and before you know it, your mind is calm and your body is moving. The energy from the people on mats around you carries you through; you ride  the wave of breath and movement.

I loved the Hatha classes I attented in various church halls, all yoga is marvellous and beneficial. However, the fact that I have to follow the same sequence of asanas each time I get on my mat with ashtanga means there is no hiding from the ones I find challanging. Bakasana (crow pose) was one where I would catch my breath in other classes. Because I was  convinced I would never achieve it, I watched the other yogis in awe as they balanced seeming effortlessly, waiting patiently on my mat for an asana I could do.  Now, i face this pose everytime I practice and  after 4 years (FOUR YEARS), I can kind of do it – if you close one eye and squint through the other.

We face our fears on the mat, whether that be turning upside down or twisting our spines. All that has happened in our lives until this point, is stored in our bodies and in turn our body will reflect any tension we are holding physically as well as mentally. As Sarah puts it, repeating the same poses every day gives you a good insight in to where your body/mind is at that particular moment in time; some days you’re tight, tired, loose, scared, teary, happy, brave, whatever. Every practice is different and reflects what is going on in your life.

So if the opportunity to attend a Mysore class comes your way give it a go. Then you will soon realise why we all fall in love with this particular style of practice.

As Lucy Crawford Scott stated in a recent workshop I attended, the good energy created in the yoga studio flows out into the rest of the world; so not only are we making changes to our own lives but spreading that feeling to others.



Age is no barrier


It makes me laugh when people tell me that they couldn’t possibly practice yoga because they can’t touch their toes. As we all know yoga offers far more than flexibility and is the one thing that is suitable for all ages, all capabilities with no exceptions. A yoga practice offers  more than exercise it influences how you live your life and how you interact with other people. After time, the mat becomes your place of solace and a place where everything makes sense.

As our 74 year old student explains in the following clip it is also never too late to start practicing.

Banana Ice-cream – dairy free and flavour abundant

Ice-cream is such a decadent treat especially on a hot day, but still lovely on a cold evening snuggled under a blanket. However, as its predominant ingredients are cream and sugar it isn’t the healthiest of options, especially if you are lactose intolerant. However, it is possible to make the tastiest of ice-creams without either of those ingredients, in fact the only ingredient you will need is a banana. I kid you not! Bonkers I know but bananas contain natural fats which when treated correctly can produce the most creamy, tastiest ice-cream within 90 minutes.


Banana ( 1 large per person )


plate, freezer, blender / hand blender


Simply slice the banana and place it on a plate in the freezer.IMG_5287

Leave between 60 and 90 minutes – any longer and blending becomes a tad tricky. Then blend, I use a hand blender. It can take a while to get it going but you will get there.


Then serve. It really is that easy. To jazz it up a bit a spoonful of peanut butter or dark chocolate chips at the end is wonderful.

Let me know if you try it and what you thought. If you have any healthy, nutritious tasty recipes that you swear by please share on our Facebook page and I will post here as it would be lovely to have a bank of recipes that everyone can dip into when they want.

Shiatsu at Bayoga Studio.

Bayoga is pleased to announce a new therapist to our expanding studio. Jan Murphy is a  Shiatsu Massage and Japanese Bodywork Practitioner and will be available at the studio on Fridays from 1-5pm. Below Jan explains what Shiatsu Massage is and how it can benefit everybody plus details of an opening offer which can be found at the end of the article.

What is Shiatsu Massage & Japanese Bodywork?

Shiatsu Massage works with the body showing how it can be – without pain and without discomfort. Being aware of the body is the first, very important step that you take away from just one session with me.

Oriental medicine studies the flow of Ki(Chi). Meridians are the channels through which Ki moves. Ki is in constant movement, and pain and disease are understood to result from blockages in the movement of ki. When these blockages are released, ki is able to move freely and the symptoms are relieved.

Frequently I am asked, “What is Ki?” How can something that has no form be explained?
It’s much like being asked, “What is heart or spirit?” or “What is life?” Ki might be described as vital life energy, created by the underlying unity of heart and body.

Shiatsu translates literally to ‘finger pressure’ so during a treatment you will experience this via many different techniques that I have learnt/acquired over the many years I have studied – ones that I have seen big results with.

Shiatsu Massage works very deeply and as it works supporting the nervous system, many dynamic changes may occur for the receiver of Shiatsu Massage & Japanese bodywork.

Patterns of behaviour which are stored in our systems for years, possibly all our lives may have awareness brought to them. First we identify them and then work out ways of releasing them from our system/body.

Shiatsu is not the therapist ‘fixing’ you, it is very much a two-way process. The Shiatsu Practitioner shows the body a way of achieving natural balance within and then you take that information away with you to work with (on a conscious or sub-conscious level).


  Women’s healthcare
 and complementary medicine

According to Shiatsu Therapist and Bodyworker, Jan Murphy, simple steps – including gentle complementary therapies – can be of positive help in treating problems such as impotence, pre-menstrual syndrome and menopausal symptoms.

We all know that improving our diet, giving up smoking and taking moderate exercise is good for us. All these can have a substantial impact on common women’s health problems. The trouble is, most of us are too busy, too wound up and too stressed out to stick to good resolutions – even when our doctors tell us that would improve our health.

What’s more, stress itself can cause these miserable conditions. So stress leads to the very problems we get stressed about. It’s Catch 22.

At BAYoga Studio Jan Murphy offers her clients a combination of Shiatsu, Japanese Bodywork, Ear & Facial Acupuncture, Nutritional advice, self-help and free advice.

Shiatsu Massage has been demonstrated to improve endometrial circulation – a factor in infertility – while supplements such as vitamin B6 and magnesium can have a positive effect on PMS. Techniques like yoga, meditation and visualization can even help prevent the typical hot flushes suffered by many women going through the menopause.

‘Complementary therapies, such as these have several benefits.

‘Of themselves, they can improve general fitness and well-being. They also make it easier for patients to do the hard things, like change their diet, give up coffee or alcohol, and stop smoking.

‘What’s more, some, such as Shiatsu, may directly affect how well conventional treatments are going to work.

‘I am convinced that the way forward for women’s healthcare is an integrated approach, looking after the whole person instead of relying on modern technological medicine to do its magic on a totally passive client. I ask the question, how many women want to be passive anyway?”
Jan Murphy MRSS graduated from the British School of Shiatsu-Do after an extensive 4 year course leading to her MRSS accreditation..

Her in-depth training, included specialised aspects, these being: Sports Shiatsu, Shiatsu for Pregnancy & Women’s health, Alignment Techniques and Structural Bodywork, Macrobiotic Nutrition & Cranial Sacral Therapy.

Opening Offer


Jan Murphy MRSS wishes to offer you a 20min taster session for only £25

For those that wish longer, do book 40mins and for those willing to commit.

I recommend my £100 for 100 minutes package – proven to be very popular

The price bundle is payable up front on the first appointment.

** Limited special offer – do email / ring to ask questions **
Do make sure to dress in warm comfortable clothing as Shiatsu is given fully-dressed.

Get in touch to discuss or book: Jan@Zenki.co.uk or call me on 07886 655 705.

Read more about Jan on http://www.Zenki.co.uk

NB. Cash and cheques accepted as payment only – *no credit or debit cards

Telephone Jan Murphy MRSS – 0788 6655 705 to pre-book
Visit Jan @ BAYoga, Berkhamsted (Friday, 1-5pm).


Homeopathic Medicines for severe hip joint pain

Ann Lovatt is one of our Therapists at BAYoga studio


Two Homeopathic Medicines for severe hip joint pain .

My patient was a woman in her late 70’s. She had just been placed on a waiting list for hip replacement surgery and hoped that the first operation might be within the next four months. She came to see me because she did not wish to take large doses of painkillers and yet was suffering greatly with severe joint pain.

I took a full case history over an hour and a quarter.  This revealed, amongst other things, a history of headaches accompanied by sickness and slight IBS which was worse in the mornings. She was a talkative, bright, bubbly person but became quite weepy  when commenting on her present restriction of movement. Her hip pain had started around her 60th birthday after a nasty fall. She described her pain as violent and deep, she moved with difficulty, was very sensitive to touch, and the pain made her constantly physically restless.

Osteoarthritis often occurs after injury or inflammation of a joint and most often affects the weight bearing joints, hips, knees, spine and feet although it can also affect the small joints in the hands. It is a degenerative disease during which the cartilage that cushions the joints begins to break down causing pain when the bones rub together on movement. The joints can become swollen and deformed.

The process of deciding on the correct homeopathic remedy involves careful consideration of the person as a whole, hence I would expect to find a remedy which had the scope not only to focus on the bone disease alone, but also reflected the history of headaches and the irritable bowel.

Another very important aspect of prescribing is the influence of the person’s personality and their energy. This patient displayed restlessness both physically and emotionally, she was a fast talker and her attention flitted from one thing to the next very quickly. I found myself scribbling my notes at high speed as she had so much to say and spoke so quickly. This quick energy would help lead me to the correct remedy as all medicines have an affect on the body which is much more than just the physical.

Two homeopathic medicines immediately sprang to mind; Eupatorium Perfoliatum, a traditional medicine of the Native American Indians, known as ‘boneset’ from the prompt manner in which it alleviates pain in the limbs of the type my patient was experiencing and Hecla Lava, ash from the Icelandic volcano Hekla.

Hecla Lava, where well indicated, is second to none for bone nodosities, hip disease and through the work of Dr A U Ramakrishnan is considered one of the principal homeopathic remedies for sarcomas. Patients needing this remedy would usually exhibit a great sensitivity to touch and their pain would be continuous and severe.

Eupatorium Perfoliatum  was also equally well indicated for my patient as its scope encompassed the violence of her pain, its restless nature, and also covered her history of headaches with sickness and the morning IBS.

I felt that this patient would benefit from both these remedies in alternation in the 200c potency so I prescribed them to be taken in a liquid form and sipped over the course of approximately a ten day period five times daily. First one, then the second after a few days break. When taking remedies in this way the opportunity arises to succuss or shake the remedy at each dose thus re-energising it and in a very subtle way increasing the strength of the medicine so as to continually support the patient.

I also gave some advice on an anti-inflammatory diet, phytonutrients need a good boost and highly refined foods are definitely out of the question!

I felt my patient would benefit greatly from treatment from a cranial osteopath. Gentle mobilising techniques can ease the pressure on the joints and bring additional pain relief.

I look forward to bringing you another instalment after the follow up in 6-8 weeks.

Ann Lovatt RSHom

Ashtanga Yoga with David Garrigues in Ulm, Germany

Sitting at Frankfurt airport reflecting on my weeks intensive with David Garrigues in Ulm, Germany. Wow – it was awesome!

Each day started at 7 am with 2 hours Mysore practice, David would say ‘Samastithi’ and we would come to the front of our mats and he would lead the opening chant.  Last year I said to David that he sounded exactly like Guruji when he chanted, this year I noticed that he even stands the way Guruji did!

The Mysore practice was followed by a 15 minute break and then we did pranayama, chanting and study of Patanjali’s yoga sutras.  Each day David focused on a specific chapter/aspect of the sutras in detail.  If I’m honest, whilst I have dabbled with the sutras and studied them when training to become a teacher, I find them hard going/ challenging – until we got to day 6, when I felt that finally ‘I get it!’ I understand why they are SO important to our practice of yoga – call me slow, but regardless, I am now so excited about the possibilities the sutras hold and the knowledge I have yet to acquire.

We then had a 40 minute break followed by ‘asana kitchens’, looking at different aspects of the primary series, what we are looking for in the pose, where we find the strength etc and David addressed people’s questions/challenges they were facing with each pose. These were intense sessions and at the end of them we had 30 – 40 minutes of self study, to reflect on our learnings of the day and re-visit those aspects that we felt needed further investigation.

David on many occasions emphasised how important it was for us to really understand within our own bodies what each pose meant for us and it was this self reflection and understanding that was our true teacher.

This week has revealed to me how important my inner strength is and how my practice helps me find this.  Most of us start yoga with an asana practice and from this we find physical strength and flexibility. By being disciplined with our practice we find our inner strength and that inner strength and understanding can only come by listening and learning ourselves – the answers are within        (look and you will find) but to find these answers we need the strength of the practice and as we progress with the physical practice, with a disciplined daily practice, the inner strength is revealed.

Our day started at 7 and ended at 2pm each day with no opportunity to have anything more than a light snack – we were starving! David’s comment on this – ‘you have all afternoon to eat!’  Initially I was concerned I may keel over without food for that length of time but actually it wasn’t so bad after all.

So here are some of the many things I learnt this week:-
Discipline with my practice
Connect to earth in every pose – use the power of the earth to find our power within
Breathe to the end of each breath, through the whole body/pose – it’s from the breath that we find a strong connection to bandha
Listen not just with our ears, use all our senses
And the most important – I have so much to learn!

Thank you David, for sharing your passion for ashtanga yoga with us, your enthusiasm and energy in delivery are awe inspiring

The weeks workshop with David was hosted by Heidi Jelic in Ulm, Germany, a beautiful shala in a beautiful city.  One of the many wonderful by products of ashtanga intensives is that you get to visit places you may never have thought of going to otherwise.

Musings from a coffee shop

We are delighted to bring you the BAYoga Studio blog. On here Cathy and the team will talk about various explorations into yoga. In this first post, Cathy talks about her thinking behind running back bending workshops…

Why on earth have I decided to do a back bending workshop?!  Well, quite simply because I find them challenging, in fact I’d go so far as to say that they have been my nemesis for many years.

I’d like to share my challenges and how I have worked on developing my back bends so that it no longer overtakes my whole practice.  This used to be one thought:- “Oh no, its backs bends soon, may be I’ll give them a miss today, well my back feels a little tender after all!” Yes, guilty…where is my focus when anticipating back bends?!  Not in the present moment that’s for sure, which means that I am not connected to my body and my brain has taken over – grrr!  Not being in the present moment and anticipating what comes next has often spoilt the enjoyment of my practice, by quieting the monkey brain, (which has a tendency to take over during difficult poses)  along with a thorough search of making back bends approachable, they have become much more enjoyable.

This workshop is the result of a search through various back bending workshops that I have attended, workshops with ashtanga teachers, hatha flow teachers and iyengar teachers, one of whom taught back bends from a wheelchair.  All preparations for back bending have been tried and tested and from these I have prepared a workshop that will be inspirational and fun.  You will have tools to take away and work with, and hopefully back bends will become like a new found friend that lifts your spirits and opens your heart.

Join me on the 30th November 1 – 3 pm at BAYoga studio – How can you resist!

For more information about the workshop, view the workshops page. http://www.bayogastudio.co.uk/courses/index.php