A gift of yoga – to people in prison

prisoner savasanaFor the last couple of months I’ve been teaching a weekly yoga class to men coming towards the end of long prison sentences. Some were introduced to yoga in prison – for others this lunchtime session in probation service hostel is their first yoga experience.

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Turning 50 – my autumn years?

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Aged 20, around 1985/6

I turn 50 tomorrow. I can’t quite believe it. I feel more like 15: still a bit nervous when I meet new people, uncomfortable with figures of authority, curious about the world, full of awe for its beauty, and longing for connection with my fellow human beings.

But I have to face it; I am now in my autumn years. The high energy and excitability of youth has gone; the decade or two of focused intent on work, marriage and children is passing and I am entering a new phase. Continue reading

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Midsummer Reflection: turning points

Dorset 2015This reflection – or meditation – was conceived on 20 June, Midsummer’s Eve 2015, with 19 of my yoga friends forming a sunny circle in a grassy Dorset meadow.

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A tribute to our mother Frances Holt, 1932-2015

o elliotThe tribute my sister and I made to our mother, who has died of cancer, at her funeral last week. Continue reading

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10 ways to beat the December frazzled feeling

Christmas-StressAt this time of year we can sometimes find ourselves overwhelmed by demands on our time and energy. Even if you’re not trying to live up to self-imposed expectations of making perfect home-made Christmas cards (no way) and home-cooked Christmas pud or cake (guilty!), there are huge lists of things that “have to be done by Christmas” – at work and at home.

The kids have all sorts of extra seasonal school events and performances to attend; the dreaded Christmas shopping won’t do itself; and friends will insist of throwing parties or inviting your out for Christmas drinks! It’s tempting to say, “Bah humbug”” to the lot of it. But before I do, here are my top tips for beating the December frazzled feeling in 10 minutes or less: Continue reading

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How to make yoga a habit for life

Aristotle_Altemps_Inv8575“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle

We’re nearing that time of year when we think about kicking our bad habits – and adopting some good ones. If yoga is going to be one of your New Year’s resolutions, how can you give yourself a reasonable chance of keeping it? Continue reading

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What silence did to my mind

Kneeling meditationEarlier this month I spent a weekend in complete silence. From Friday evening through to Sunday afternoon I spoke to no one. No catch-ups with friends or family; no shouting at the TV, or the kids; no embarrassed small-talk with strangers; not even any hellos or thank-yous.

And it wasn’t just real chat I abstained from; the virtual stuff went too: no Facebook, phone or computer; no newspapers or books. I spent the whole weekend alone with my own mind. And I did this alongside 20 others taking part in a silent meditation retreat run by the Prison Phoenix Trust (PPT). Continue reading

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