Ten things you may not know about me

July 28, 2014

Rachel Zinman Yoga

The following post is inspired by Brook McCarthy’s recent blog on Yoga Reach I thought it was so cool to find out more about Brook and thought it would be a fun exercise for me to go outside the box and expose myself a little more. Let me know what you think and don’t be shy I’d love to hear something new about you too.

I am a real Dutch girl
I was born and spent the first 7 years of my life in Holland and yes I speak dutch – the equivalent of a seven year old. Another fun fact from my dutch days; apparently in kindergarten on the Queen’s birthday I swallowed a small whistle.

I’m kinda sporty
In my formative years I played tennis, was on the gymnastics team, loved cross country skiing, the odd downhill ski, was an obsessive biker and used to jog daily.

I trained to be a Waldorf Educator
While my son was young I enrolled in a foundation year at our local Waldorf school and really enjoyed learning about the process of education. For my practical I taught in all the grades and honed my skills in story telling, craft and singing. I was actually considering applying for a job at the school but Yoga won out in the end.

I built my own Loo
When I bought my first property in Goonengerry, NSW my boyfriend insisted that the most important item to have was a composting loo. In those days you had to build one. So that’s what I did. I got mighty handy with a hammer, saw, wood and nails and built my loo next to a spectacular view.

I ran a sweat lodge for a Women’s retreat
Back in my 30’s I was employed as an activities coordinator at the Cape Retreat in Byron Bay. I introduced the women to ritual through the cleansing effects of a Native American Sweat Lodge ceremony. I spent most of the time shovelling rocks and generally sweating to death but it was pretty fun all the same.

I had a home birth in the water
I still can’t believe how lucky I was to have a lay midwife with 1000 births under her belt and the encouragement to birth at home in the water. It took me 36 hrs, I had no medical intervention and was able to pull my son out of the water and watch him take his first breath.

I really don’t like amusement parks
When I was little my parents took me to Disneyland. Everything was going swell until we went on the “ Tomorrowland” ride. I happened to see a model of tiny people emerging from the tunnel we were about to enter and was convinced I would shrink too. I had a tantrum right there and then and refused to get on the cart and have avoided amusement parks ever since.

I’m a freak for water
I’ve never particularly craved hot drinks and can’t make a good cup of tea or coffee. Juice is too sweet and soft drinks make me burp. If I come over for a visit I am happy with a glass of water but if you think I’m easy to please forget it.  I’m as fussy as an expert tea drinker. I like my water filtered or enjoy spring water’s many top name brands.

My Ballet career peaked at age 10
Most people know I was a professional modern dancer and choreographer. However Ballet was my first love. I was lucky enough to star as Clara in the Nutcracker with the Boston Ballet at the age of ten. My parents still wax lyrical about the moment I sat on the shoulders of the transformed Nutcracker and commanded the christmas tree to rise to towering heights.

I’m pretty spontaneous when it come to creativity
Whether its writing, dancing, singing, painting, photography or amateur film making, I like to dive in quick and get the job done. Some people like to nut out every word in a sentence or work through a painting with incredible detail. I don’t really have the patience or the tenacity. I like to be spontaneous when I create and don’t really bother about it being perfect. If I like it thats good enough for me

So now its your turn tell me something new about you :).

 

 

Rachel Zinman Yoga’s top 10 Facebook Pages

June 28, 2014

Rachel Zinman Yoga

With the onslaught of invites to like pages on Facebook I thought it might be fun to share with you the pages I visit the most for all sorts of tips on yoga and wellbeing. This list includes dear friends who I feel really share the best of themselves and brilliant resources for teaching and nourishing yourself.

Urb@n Vedanta
Do you remember when you loved to push yourself to the edge in your yoga practice? Well this Facebook page takes you to the edge and asks you to dive off. Far from an intellectual exercise Urb@n Vedanta explores the TRUTH of who you are as a human being challenging everyone of your beliefs taking you to the true and real meaning of yoga hidden in the ancient texts. Edgy and provocative its a great place to look at how you approach every aspect of your practice and life.


Bella and Bhakti
I love this page for its colourful pictures, great recipes and inspirational quotes. Kelly Fielding is a  writer, yogi and raw food expert. You will love her whimsical and sweet approach to health and wellbeing.


Love Yoga Anatomy
Created by my friend Stu Girling this page is an awesome resource for interviews and articles on all things to do with the physical components of yoga. safe alignment, adjusting, interviews with senior teachers and so much more


The Holistic Chef Australia
Another great page for Foodies and lovers of good health. Shakti has created a  Super Food Blend. I just love Shaktis’ positive attitude, raw honesty and good vibes which overflows from this page


Sacred Women’s Business
A great page for motivation and inspiration for women. Lisa Fitzpatrick has a way of helping women to see their gifts and talents and shares effective tools for placing themselves in today’s marketplace


Mind Body Green
As far as I’m concerned most articles from these guys rock. Short clear and honest messages from people working on their health and wellbeing. A great resource when you need to go deeper into any subject related to health


Eat Live Life
Another special spot to find out more about Yoga, Heath and Wellbeing. Merwyn Davies adds his personal touch sharing his own experiences with yoga and explores relevant topics for todays modern Yogi

The Global Yogi
Want to travel the world and share Yoga? Looking for a great Teacher’s Training, Retreat, or more info on your passion for Yoga? You’ll love this page.

Inhale life by Romina
Romina is such a lovely teacher and really gives back to the community. She’s spearheaded several projects and somehow manages to teach, parent and update her page with positive messages  each and every day.

Dr. Lauren Tober
Founder of Capturing Gratitude, Lauren is always offering and sharing more ways for us to relax, commune and enjoy the little things in life

Who wants to be a Yogi?

June 16, 2014

 

Rachel Zinman YogaIt’s frantic out there in the Yoga world. Just recently, while teaching a dedicated group in Zurich, one of the participants shared that there are more yoga teachers in Zurich than any other city in Europe. It seems everyone wants to do a teacher training to get to know more about yoga.

I remember a time not too long ago where undertaking Yoga Teacher Training was a novel idea. Our first group at Be Yoga (Alan Finger’s Ishta Yoga Studio) was comprised of twenty-five eager students – each one personally vetted and encouraged to join. We were pioneering a new program and these guys were our guinea pigs. People came from all walks of life and were drawn to the course because yoga had hit them so hard they wanted more. They were hungry for it, and as teachers we couldn’t wait to feed them. Nine months later our fledgling group took flight. That first training spawned subsequent groups with trainees who now lead major trainings worldwide.  In just 14 years Yoga has boomed, but sometimes the baby does run away with the bath water, and the senior teachers who spawned the movement get left behind. 

I was shockeRachel Zinman Yoga, Byron Yoga teacher Trainingd when one long time yogi and wonderful teacher told me she was thinking of changing vocations, and not because she didn’t love yoga, but because no one seemed to have the interest in seniority or tradition anymore.

I never wanted to make a career out of yoga. I wanted to be a Yogi and all that I thought that meant. I imagined myself meditating in caves, practicing on mountain tops and generally attaining a state of perfection. Well here I am far from my “ idea ” of perfect, with the understanding that perfection is not a state to be attained, rather it’s something right here right now – “already gained” as they say in the Upanishadic texts.

What revolutionised my thinking? Why am I still passionate regardless of the twists and turns that have happened in the yoga community? Why do I keep plugging the importance of finding the roots of yoga rather then skimming the surface? 

Rachel Zinman Yoga, Byron Yoga Teacher TrainingBecause Yoga literally saved my life, and more importantly the TRADITION of yoga saved my life. I wanted to go deep, but it seemed like the harder I looked – the more I questioned, and the shallower everything became.  I was convinced that yoga existed in an “out there vibrating phenomenon ” that could only be tamed through endless practices. I was trying to placate something to find myself, all the while losing myself in practices. I didn’t know any better. No one does. Authentic teachers are hard to find, even rarer are authentic teachings. We think we can get stuff from a book but the truth is the books exist because truth exists. Yoga is an unbroken oral tradition.http://www.rachelzinmanyoga.com/BYRON-YOGA-TRAINING

So where does a sincere seeker find something authentic? An ashram in India? I wish it was that simple. These days it seems like the ashrams are rife with as much sexual scandal and corruption as politicians.  The Indian Gurus have found western followers and have grown fat on the lamb of popularity. Looking good on the outside, saying all the right things while harbouring a few Daikinis in the bedroom. I don’t think sex or money is really something to gawk at. We all do it and get away with it. Yet somehow we expect our spiritual teachers to be twice removed from something intrinsically human.

DSC02551And where is this tradition? Way before Patanjali put his name to the sutras, the revivalist Adi Shankara used sound logic and reasoning in his debates to defeat and remove Buddhism from India, re-establishing Aidvaita Vedanta. These days its hip to know all about Tantra, but the purest Tantra is Vedanta. Vedanta means the end of knowledge. And where does knowledge end? In the Knowledge of the knower. Tantra expounds the tenet that everything is divine – Vedanta goes one step further and explains through a timeless methodology what Self (divinity) is. There are many teachers sharing Vedanta but a rare few are in the lineage of Adi Shankara. 

Recently on a field trip in India I visited the spot where Shankara did his sadhana. The atmosphere at the temple moved me to tears, not because of any particular vibration, but more in the simplicity of its existence. It was my first experience of something that has been around for over 3000 years. A place where people offered themselves and their hearts on the altar of knowledge.

SHIVA PARVATI AND GANESH IN GOA

I used to think I didn’t need a teacher and that I could figure it all out by myself, be my own guru so to speak. But the truth is no matter how hard I practiced, no matter how many paths I explored, I still felt like I was stumbling in the dark. I was still emotional, confused, full of crisis and conflict and nowhere nearer to the state of perfection I associated with Yoga. Sound familiar? 

It was in my deepest crisis that I found the teachings of Adi Shankara. Through words and a learned teacher versed in shastra (scripture) my rebellious mind was led step by step to the truth. Each argument presented with irrefutable logic until there was nowhere to hide.

The technique subtly takes away every idea one has of one’s self until SELF is revealed.

Knowing Self is no big deal, just like eating pizza is no big deal. Once you taste pizza, you have knowledge of pizza. 

Just before I finished my course I had a private meeting with my teacher. After some small talk he said “Soon people will be as hungry for traditional teachings as they are for yoga now.”

Goa Shoot (10 of 18)Since my immersion in India my teaching and practice has been stripped down to the barebones. Once having been exposed to the teachings one can never go back. It’s like being exposed to the sun – once you lay back and bask in the light you’re whole being feels nourished and replenished. It’s the same with Tradition. Once you have been exposed to the knowledge you bask in the eternal nature of your Self.Knowing yourself as that Presence in which everything is present means you can never be absent to yourself again.

So who wants to be a Yogi? I do! 

Want to immerse yourself in the tradition of Yoga? Why not join John Weddepohl and Rachel Zinman in Workshops Retreats and Trainings in 2014

 

 

7 Ways To Keep Your Yoga Practice Alive

May 18, 2014

 

This postRachel Zinman Yoga was originally published on eatlivelife.com

When I was in high school my english teacher insisted that if if we were bored in class it was because we were boring. “A creative mind is never bored”, he emphasised, “it’s always stretching and reaching into unchartered territory.” As a long time practitioner, Yoga is still fresh and endlessly inspiring, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t had slip ups and challenges along the way. It’s never easy to hit the mat day after day, but I can honestly say I’ve never been bored. So what’s the secret to keeping a yoga practice alive ?

1. Think of it like chocolate, ice cream or a spa visit. It’s a treat to take time for yourself. Every breath in each posture is a delicious massage ironing out the tension. Take your time and hold the postures, let your thoughts flow without needing to identify with them. Don’t rush through any aspect of your practice and give yourself a nice long relaxation. Slowing down and seeing your practice as a gift rather then a thing on your “ to do ” list engenders a feeling of harmony and balance. Remember how you feel after a really good massage and how you look forward to the next one? If you approach your practice with the right attitude you’ll be longing to hit the mat each and every day.

2.Have a simple daily home practice that is repetitive and easy to do. We can easily come up with a million excuses at to why this is not an option. We might have young children, a small apartment, a lack of confidence without a teacher, or even find it hard to get motivated. No matter what the excuse a home practice should be akin to brushing your teeth or having your daily cup of tea. We thrive on routine and our bodies crave it.  Where would we be with out our 7 hours of sleep and 3 square meals a day. As much as we might think that repetition is boring. It’s how creation works. Think of a sunrise, even though it’s the same sun rising each day, the sky, the colours and the clouds go through a kaleidoscope of changes. It’s the same with a simple daily practice. Each time you approach Down Dog, your breath, body and mental state are different. Learn to tune to the subtleties and enjoy watching the play of movement and stillness.

Rachelzinmanyoga in Goa3. Mix and Match your postures. I’m definitely a bit of a fashionista when it comes to taste in clothes. I’ve never liked one colour ensembles, or a conventional cut. Instead I like to mix and match in wild colours and floral patterns. It’s the same with practice. Throwing in a wild card, like a handstand during sun salutations, a series of backbends or legs behind the head in an unexpected place in a sequence takes the body out of its complacency. Breaking the rhythm reminds the body it’s not a fixed system and that variety is the spice of life.

4.Get inspired! Attend a workshop, retreat or class with a new teacher. You most likely can’t wait for your weekly fix with your beloved teacher. You know them so well that you can preempt their next move in class. As students we feel a loyalty to the teachers that inspired us forgetting that a different teacher may have a tip to get up into that tricky arm balance or inspire a way to stay in a forward bend. Attending a workshop with a visiting senior teacher or even diving into a week long retreat in a beautiful place can bring so much to your regular classes. New horizons and new teachers widen your sense of possibility and community in yoga.

Rachel Zinman Yoga writes for eatlivelife5. Go Outside and Get Natural. Take your practice to the park, beach or forest. Workout in bare feet and leave your mat at home. Feel the ground, the soft earth in your hands. Let the sand tickle your toes and the sound of the surf sooth your being. Breathe in the forest smells and let the birdsong be your music. Our bodies are inseparably part of nature. It’s easy to forget that when we do our practice in an air-conditioned studio in a fast paced city. Studies show that even a short walk in natural surroundings enhances brain function. Imagine what an hour of Yoga in nature will do.

6. Break All the Rules. If you’ve had a really good teacher you will have a clear set of parameters for how, where and when you should practice. Safety is important as is the order in which you practice. But sometimes you just have to break yourself out of Jail. Imagine approaching Down Dog in a different way, start with a posture that’s completely new or even dance through your routine. If you usually use a zen yoga playlist try practicing to heavy metal. Switch up your practice space. Take it to the roof top terrace or your breakfast room. Practice at an odd time of the day. Allowing yourself to be spontaneous and unconventional gives you permission to come alive again in your practice.

Rachel zinman yoga

7. When in Doubt Dive Deeper. We might be shy to explore breathing practices or meditation. Diving deep is not a spiritual or esoteric exercise. Breathing in our asana practice helps us to open and stretch further in the postures. Learning to work the breath on its own through pranayama actually manages the energy system that is the body. The goal in a breathing practice is to refine the breath, the more subtle the breath, the more relaxed the mind. The mind craves a focus taking it out of its preoccupation with thought. We think our thoughts rule us but actually it’s the opposite. We choose to get wrapped up in a thought. A yogi learns to concentrate the mind through practices like pranayama, this in turn tranquillises the mind. We often confuse meditation with concentration. The first step in meditation is learning how to concentrate. Once you can hold your mind on a point for an extended period of time you move into a phase of effortless concentration. Meditation is not a practice, it’s who you are. We complicate yoga by thinking of it as a spiritual practice.  Put simply, Yoga and its deeper practices are there to lead you to the effortlessness that is your Self. It doesn’t get any deeper than that.

 

We’re on the road again

April 20, 2014

It’s been such a joy for me to create the above film reflecting the feelings and inspirations gained from participants on our workshops, retreats and trainings. We feel so fortunate to be able to share yoga in so many beautiful places and share with some incredible beings.

In the coming weeks and months we’ll be in Brisbane at One family Yoga and Fitness, Darwin at Mukti Yoga and then head to Europe for workshops in Switzerland, Holland, Italy and Germany. It’s also the first year we will be offering an 8 day Yoga Retreat in Australia. We have chosen the Sanctuary Retreat in Mission Beach which we feel is the perfect place to immerse oneself in the teachings of Yoga and Self Knowledge.  We  absolutely love what we do and know you will too. Why not take the leap and deepen your practice with us in 2013

Rachel Zinman Yoga

The Rise of the ECO Yogi

April 12, 2014

 

Rachel Zinman YogaIt’s been building for a while now. This feeling that something needs to be done. I can’t ignore the signposts. My friends are camping out at CSG blockades, marching against outrageous political policies or heading off to save endangered Orangutang’s in Borneo. 

I’ve liked a whole bunch of vegan, environmentally, socially minded pages, signed numerous petitions and donated funds to enable others to stand at the front lines. AND still I feel there’s more to do. 

I’ve been carrying that thought around for a while now. Its a habit. I come from a  family of doers, donators and progressive thinkers. My grandmothers were communists and pantheists. My grandfathers bankers and merchants. While half of me is socially minded and a nature lover the other half wants to offer products in the marketplace that facilitate change.

ecowarriors rise filmLast night we went to see THE RISE OF THE ECO WARRIORS. The director and writer of the film Cathy Henkel, a dear friend, spied us in the audience and insisted we get a decent seat. “This is an important film and I want you guys to be able to see it,” She was right. This is a film everybody should see.

From the outset I was drawn into the subject because the characters-eco warriors from all over the world-are absolutely determined to make a difference to the eco system of the planet. They’re colourful young people, who care and are willing to go into the jungle, face fears and work hard to bring awareness to issues that affect each and every one of us. 

And what are the issues? The deforestation of indigenous forests, the endangerment of a way of life for native cultures and the plight of Orangutang’s who have nowhere to live once their forests are destroyed.

Orangutang's in BorneoThe film exposes how insanely fast our forests are disappearing, how hard it is to raise awareness and get funding, and how hard the native people are fighting for their land. 

And why ? So I can keep my house clean, wash my body and eat my snacks. I had no idea how many things contain palm oil. And I’m supposed to be a socially minded eco conscious yogi.

We passed Cathy on the way out congratulating her on the film. “ I made this film to raise awareness, if even 10 people call their local Coles or Woolworth’s and ask them to stop stocking a particular product containing palm oil. they will listen.”  It was a heartening thought

Later that night a the years of living dangerouslypost from 350.0rg came on my Facebook feed. The first episode of a new series on Showtime was being released “ The Years of Living Dangerously” In the series, produced by Arnold Schwarzanegger, socially minded actors like Harrison Ford and Don Cheadle head out into the world to speak with leading scientists and local communities to see the effect that Climate Change is having on their every day lives. It’s easy for us to see it as happening over there rather then right here. 

But none of us can really turn a blind eye as over there is definitely encroaching on right here by the second.

Instead of watching another Pharrel Williams cover for “Happy” on YouTube I’ve decided to turn my Facebook scrolling into a conscious practice-clicking through to the suggested websites at the end of both films and raising my awareness of the products that don’t really help me to be cleaner fresher and happier. 

There’s a saying out there; “Happiness is an inside job.” But really it’s so much more then that. Happiness is who we are. It’s not something we can get or have. If anything was the source of happiness we’d all be lining up around the planet for it. We’ve been lead to believe that happiness is personal. What appears to make me happy can’t make you happy and visa versa, thats why we feel the need for so many different things.

Rachy-107Happiness isn’t complicated and neither are we. We are given the gift of awareness. If you practice yoga you would have had it drummed into you by now to become aware of your thoughts. To focus and harness the mind which in turn relieves stress. We might not understand exactly how this formula works, but we definitely feel the benefits. 

In the same way social awareness needs to become a finely crafted tool.

What do you do with a tool once its perfected? Do you stick it in the garage and forget about it? Absolutely not. You use it to shape and craft beautiful things. And you and me and our planet and its eco systems with its life giving water and air are creation’s masterpiece. 

Wouldn’t it be amazing if we all used our awareness to keep it so.

To find out more about what you can do to inform yourself visit the following sites

Off the Mat into the World

March 18, 2014

rachelzinmanyoga

The first time I really felt strongly about something was just after 9/11. I was living in NYC at the time and will never forget the terror I felt at finding out that the trade towers had been hit. In the weeks that followed the government took the opportunity to go to war, curb our civil liberties and establish, “ homeland security.” Even though I wanted to turn a blind eye and just do my Yoga I felt I had to take a stand. I’ll never forget my teacher Alan Finger sharing that we shouldn’t hate the people who had done this. It would be like hating your own arm.

As part of a global peace demonstration I was moved to write a piece for The Nation, an online and in print magazine that offered alternative and meaningful news. 

peacevigil too

“My husband and I met [author and prayer leader] James Twyman and joined his e-mail list. He wrote that he was going to be doing a major peace vigil on the 9th of February with a mix of Israelis and Palestinians. He wrote, “Rather than pushing for peace, we’re going to bepeace. We’re going to bend the world toward peace.” He asked for everyone to gather, so I started, two months before, sending e-mails: “If you’d like to join me in spirit or physically, please do.” On the day, I had invited a lot of people to be with me. I said, “At 12 noon, I’m going to lead this meditation.” There were forty-five of us there. A lot of people sat with us, and a lot of people joined us in spirit. They e-mailed me afterward and said, “We could feel it.” I had felt ineffective. I had thought, “How can my voice be heard?” For me, to be able to share this is a way to take action. We were being grateful for the peace that already exists on this earth.”

Back then I felt that joining together and demonstrating peace was enough. Now, 11 years later I have learned that there is no need to “ demonstrate peace” all that is needed is to know oneself then we discover that in the creation there is never anything but peace.  

Rachel Zinman YogaMoving off the mat, being open to dialogue and taking a stand for what you feel is right is important. At the same time the real issues run deeper then climate change and collapsed economies. Do we ever stop to question ourselves? Do we ask who is creating the mess in the first place? and what does this messer upper hope to gain? In the end it all comes down to thinking we have to do something to get something. Why can’t we just get that being is enough. In fact we can’t help being- it’s happening effortlessly whether we know it or not.

As a society we think that someone or something has the power to bring us happiness? Why? Because through our conditioning; our education and up-bringing has made us feel powerless, empty, wrong, incomplete in some way and that there is some hole that we have to fill and when we fill it we will feel complete. We have all become excellent hole diggers. We dig the hole and we get in.

Rachel Zinman YogaOf course this is a yoga blog, a blog that people read to find out more about yoga, its not a place to talk about politics. Or is it? If you practice yoga then there’s something you want to change in your life. Maybe you want to be fitter, able to stand stress better or perhaps as a yoga teacher you want to help others change their lives. When I was a kid growing up in America we were taught all about our founding forefathers and how they wanted to make a difference “ freedom, justice and liberty for all” was their catch cry. Isn’t that also why we do Yoga? To be free?

In philosophy the understanding is that we all strive towards “ Moksha” (Freedom) But see how crazy this is; already free, already whole and complete-we just don’t know it. The only thing standing in our way is conditioning born of ignorance. It is conditioning and ignorance that prevents us from knowing who we truly are. And this is not the fault of the society. If we were not born ignorant and knew everything then what fun would it be? But if only our politicians and leaders, heads of corporations could start questioning themselves, and see past their own conditioning and ignorance and know the truth of who they are, then the world we live in would be a far safer and better place.

rachelzinmanyoga

Seeing things as they are and yourself as you are is to step to freedom. Eliminating our own self ignorance fills us with absolute empathy and compassion for one another. Knowing that we are inseparably part of the Whole – That Consciousness – which alone exists, makes even death and dying a joke. The practices of yoga by lifting our conditioning momentarily of course bring us peace, happiness, and completeness BECAUSE THIS IS ALL THERE IS. Yoga helps prepare us for this understanding momentarily removing our normal and habitual preoccupations. But yoga too can become another form of conditioning. So watch out! 

But if for a split second – we are able remember ourselves as the yoga-the Consciousness itself-then what happens as you step off the mat can only be filled with Love and Compassion. Empathy-spreading Joy, Happiness, Peace, Love.  

So what does it mean to step off the mat and into the world? 

I’ll let you decide.

Want to hear more ? Join Rachel Zinman and John Weddepohl for Intensives in Sydney, Berry, Wollongong, Byron Bay, Brisbane and Darwin throughout March , April and May 2014

Thanks to John Weddepohl for contributing  to this blog

What does it mean to “take your practice to the next level?”

March 12, 2014

Yoga and Self Knowledge early morning intensive Barefoot YogaYou’ve started Yoga and you love it. It doesn’t take rocket science to immediately feel the benefits. You’re sleeping better, feeling more emotionally balanced and enjoying the community that Yoga brings. Your family and friends notice the difference too. You seem happier, more settled and able to cope better with the stresses of life. So whats next?

Your yoga teacher encourages you to come at least three times a week to keep up your strength and fitness levels. Some weeks you make it and some you don’t. Life does gets in the way in an all too short work week. Yoga isn’t about being competitive but you can’t help sneaking a glance at your fellow Yogi holding Down Dog that little bit longer or the svelte Yogini lightly kicking up into handstand while you struggle with just being able to hold yourself up in the plank pose.

You might wonder. What makes Miss Yogini any different then you? You assume its her size, her age or that she went to India last year, but make no mistake. Those things have nothing to do with why someone can achieve a seemingly difficult posture.

Early morning Yoga in Sydney

What really makes the difference is time, effort and consistency of practice and a willingness to take one’s practice to the next level. So what does taking your practice to the next level really mean? Is it about being adept in the poses we see in the Yoga magazines? Or is something more mysterious and other worldly? Or both? For me as a practitioner of over 29 years my practice changed when I made the commitment to move out of my comfort zone. My first 5 day early morning intensive was in a small Australian coastal town in the late 80’s. I loved sliding out of bed at 5.30 am to stretch and shape my body like a pretzel . The air at that time was moist and rich and the world was still quiet and rare. When asked to sit quietly and watch my breath before beginning the asanas I could literally eat the silence.

early morning intensive Rachel Zinman Yoga

I was 23 at the time, with hardly any flexibility or strength, but I loved my teacher and was intrigued by Yoga and couldn’t help thinking there was more to it then met the eye. 

After that first week long immersion I  was convinced this was the secret formula I’d been looking for.  By the end of the week I could stay in Down dog for over 2 minutes, hold an arm balance without crashing onto my nose and push up into full wheel all on my own. I was more flexible and strong then I could ever remember and the rest of my day seemed to float past like a fluffy cloud. It was like being in love or something way better which I couldn’t quite put my finger on. 

early morning Yoga intensive sydney

That something I couldn’t quite grasp was what led me to the next part of “ taking my practice to the next level” I had so many questions about why I felt so good after Yoga  and what was actually happening when I stepped onto the mat. Having started Yoga so young purely for physical reasons it was a while before I even knew there was anything more. I have my experienced teachers and mentors to thank for guiding me to deeper and deeper levels. It was their encouragement to do more that took my practice and understanding to the next level. 

I can’t rave enough about the many benefits associated with attending a Yoga intensive. Giving yourself a consistent time period to improve your skills on a physical level and also understanding more about what Yoga is and how it works on the mental level is immensely transformative . The other factor of practicing at dawn means the level of energy available to you is magnified. At dawn the prana or life force is very close to the earth, the heat  of the sun has yet to burn away the delicate natural forces that nourish the earth and us. An early morning practice enables you to cultivate your energy and build your immunity, strengthening all your systems so you come back to your natural resilience.

barefoot Yoga early morning Yoga and Self Knowledge intensive with Rachel Zinman and John WeddepohlThese days it’s not as “ in” to offer an intensive. Everyone is too busy fitting Yoga around their day. However for those people who want to have the skills to attempt more difficult poses like handstand or wheel, who our looking to know, understand and explore more of what Yoga is all about. And especially for those who want to keep the “high”  alive in every day life. A deeper immersion is an absolute must.

Why not dive in right now and Join Rachel Zinman and John Weddepohl for a 5 day early morning Intensive at Barefoot Yoga March 24- 28  

Keeping it ordinary during the Holidays

December 24, 2013

Rachel Zinman YogaIt’s that time of year again, everyone’s madly shopping and hopping to the tune of the holidays. Here in Australia despite the blazing sun and soaring temperatures it’s no different. Christmas comes but once a year and everyone’s got an opinion about it.

Our local radio station reminds me, as I meander through the hills after a shopping foray, that the holiday season is not about commercialism, it’s about giving from the heart. And while friends are “elfing” themselves for a good laugh, sharing viral videos about families in Xmas P.J’s, I wonder what a baby really thinks of his parents clowning around in Santa Hats?

I don’t really have a bone to pick with all the hype but I have been floored by how online advertisers and magazines use yoga to try to cash in on the Christmas craze. I mean who cares whether I have the latest yogi toe mat or lulu lemon see-through pants? One blog goes so far as to suggest I do a Christmas sequence with names like prancer and snow globe. Not even the most advanced practitioner in their right mind could do these postures and come out alive.

Rachel Zinman Yoga

I’m sorry to be sarcastic at Christmas time- especially when we are meant to be focussing on gratitude, reflecting on the year that was, setting intentions for the New Year and making our vegan, gluten free turkey stuffing. But C’mon its ridiculous out there.  

When I speak to other friends who have been doing yoga for a long time they share that the Yoga ” out there”  has nothing to do with Yoga. Since when did Yogi’s practice in crowds? In fact the real Yoga is not readily available and a true teacher doesn’t need to advertise. Googling for authentic yoga just doesn’t work, although nowadays everyone thinks you can.

So whats the solution?  

Rachel Zinman Yoga

For me, the past year has been about keeping it ordinary. Eating well, doing a daily practice, being with family whenever and wherever possible. Watching a sunset, a sunrise and just simply being. I feel grateful to have the capacity to appreciate and enjoy life and I feel lucky to be able to have the time to give to others just for the sheer joy of it. 

I have no desire to sell yoga. Yoga isn’t for sale- just like creation isn’t for sale. When we celebrate the birth of a child we marvel at the perfection of creation. At birth everything is given. A baby has no sense of imperfection. It’s only through conditioning that imperfection appears to exist.

It’s times like these, when we are told that something is missing and that there is something that can fill the gap that living an ordinary life is so potent.

So today like every day- I’ll take a moment to smell a flower, smile at a friend and appreciate the little things..

Happy Holidays to everyone and may it be the best year yet.

Why Practice Yoga?

November 17, 2013

At the start of our Self Knowledge classes we take some time to reflect and contemplate. If you are moved to go deeper into both your practice and understanding of Yoga why not join us in India February 13-23, 2014.

visit http://www.rachelzinmanyoga.com/RETREATS for more details.

The practice enables us to relax. Be calm. Giving the mind a focus. Relaxing the mind you feel peaceful. Calm. Content. Why? Because your nature is peace. Contentment Itself. Your nature is completeness. Stillness but I don’t know that. I look for it in everything, I look for it in these practices too, not realising stillness is the nature of myself. First there is truth. Then everything else.


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