Showing posts with label gong bath. Show all posts
Showing posts with label gong bath. Show all posts

Monday, 12 December 2016

Resonant Solstice ~ Dec mini retreat


I have been hearing from many of my students: 'I want to tuck myself away, get quiet, eat well', yet its not the easiest time of year to do so! Hopefully our Resonant Retreat (18th Dec) offers a chance to introspect as the year - which has felt, collectively, highly transformative - draws towards its conclusion. 

Turning within doesn't mean we are wallowing (or boring), but honouring the natural twists and turns of the season; prakriti, the nature around and within us. When we honour rather than resist the cyclical nature of life we appreciate each of its stages all the more; all the seasons, each breath and movement, every thought and conversation. 

It is easy to forget who we are at this time of year, to lose our sense of ground (EARTH) as our obligations shift towards the needs of others, towards the material side of life. Emotions can run high (WATER) as we are drawn into family dynamics that show us where we still have work to do, and where daily routines, like practise and diet, are disrupted; depleting our vital energy. The need to breathe, be, witness, digest and re-charge is greater than ever.

As winter solstice approaches we can look forward to the next shift, moving towards the light again. In the emptiness left by autumn and winter there is an opportunity to make space for what we wish to create on our future path. 

Our last retreat for 6 months or so...The resonant solstice mini retreat takes place Sunday 18th Dec at The Well Garden 9.30am - 2pm. Chanting, yin yoga, sacred sound bath and delicious cuisine by Moody Mango. Bookings piriamvadayogaetc@gmail.com





Monday, 6 June 2016

Raga flow ~ live music & yoga unite

You may have remember my post a while ago about experiencing raga meditation in India. Well its such an pleasure to be linking up with Daisy Watkins to produce our own take on the blissful union of music and yoga this summer...

Raga Flow ~ live music & yoga 
Sunday 3rd July @ The Well Garden

Welcome to a new moon collaboration between musician & composer Daisy Watkins and yoga teacher & gong practitioner Ali Gunning. Inspired by the Indian roots of classical music and classical yoga, we have created an uplifting Sunday afternoon of live music & yoga.

Both raga and yoga inspire us towards a 'bhava' of divine bliss. Ali leads us through the yoga sequence, flowing from the heart to the crown, while Daisy's live soundtrack of viola and tampura guides and echoes our movement - until breath, sound and body are flowing as one.

We lead you into a deeply nourishing shavasana with a fusion of gong, voice and viola. And close our afternoon together with chai and nibbles.

Sunday 3rd July 2016
2-5pm
At The Well Garden, Hackney Downs Studios, Amhurst Terrace E8 2BT
£30 early bird (before13th June)/ concession, £35 thereafter
Suitable all levels
Bookings: piriamvadayogaetc@gmail.com/ 07855402837



About Daisy

Enamoured with the romanticism of carnatic raga music, Daisy embarked upon her journey into exploring and discovering the beauty and creativity that can be conjured with this tradition.

Carnatic ragas are particularly appropriate to yoga as their origins are also found in India. There are unique characteristics given to each raga which Daisy carefully selects and builds upon to create intriguing settings and enthralling scenes. Combining this storytelling craft with the philosophy and lifestyle of yoga, Daisy found herself creating subtle, flowing and grounding music.

Influenced by her western classical background, the live score is composed for tanpura and viola. Whereas a traditional raga may be more rhythmical with tabblah and sitar, this music features the soothing, lyrical tones of the viola which add to the flow of the yoga class.

Daisy performs the music live with the intention of it being sympathetic to its environment and audience. She believes live music is much more enjoyable, personal and ‘in the present’.

Daisy has performed for many guided meditations, mindfulness classes and yoga workshops in and around London.

Multi-instrumentalist and composer Daisy Watkins trained at the Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester. She performs regularly throughout the UK in various ensembles and is a passionate music educator.










Thursday, 21 April 2016

If the shoe doesn't fit...

If I meet one more beautiful being going through a massive transformation I'll have to write a book rather than a blog post. I wanted to write a blog post but almost as soon as words were formed they were redundant to say what I meant. They are mainly women, in all corners of my life; kicking down the walls that have contained them in some way; or watching a storm rip through their house, if they had been hesitating with that sledge hammer. 

It seems to be the time in which situations that we might have ambled along with, not quite satisfied but not yet ready to change, simply won't fit anymore: whether relationships, friendships, finances, careers or living arrangements. There is one thing that unites us and that is a search for authenticity. Its everywhere! And as the old protective structures come down, our hearts and fears are equally, authentically exposed. Not being good enough/ being good enough; letting go/ letting in; surviving, losing our power and many more. 

How do we know we aren't just running away? Fears are faced and transformed, not side stepped. The need for authenticity suddenly outweighs attachment to the known. Some part of us feels lighter after being stripped away. Of course as we embrace the vibration of transformation we attract others riding a similar wave. And this sisterhood can be the biggest blessing, inspiring us on when we are leaving others in our wake. That's not to say transformation may not inspire others, but that cannot be our motivation. 

Goddess Kali has been knocking on my awareness in various forms. We often hear and read that, sigh, we languish in a dark age (Kali Yuga). But, perhaps if we are awake to it, this is the real moment of Kali, when she flattens the lot in order to make space for rebirth? Her destruction is ever paired with compassion, bringing us through the dark to take a peek at the new light. But, if you do not wish to let go, all you will see is her fierceness; teeth, skulls an all. Transformation can be tough, painful, drawn out and unexpected. As she reminds us, this ain't permanent and it ain't yours. 

We all have our catalysts and for me India is it; time to be, time to question yet again, what feel authentic for me right now? As the search becomes more subtle, so do the layers of attachment. Ok I may have less things but what about clinging to the way others see me, or to spiritual ideals? The closer we get to how we once imagined out lives to look, the tighter the urge may be - who would want to let go of this, which we strived for? Patanjali wisely said that clinging to life exists even for the wise! But clinging always stifles our potential. Even our perfect ideal of yoga teacher life or whatever is not permanent. While we hang on to how it's supposed to be, we contract and we block the way for others who are expanding around us. 

As I sat barefooted in a blast of sunlight on the Downs last night I felt: 'transformation does not mean losing everything/ someone, but letting go...and the gain or loss is irrelevant.' And everything felt just perfect after a stormy few days.  Finally with the full moon overhead there is an air of completion as we take a breath and await the next cycle. 


Monday, 18 April 2016

introducing AcuGong...

A while ago I wrote that collaboration is the way forward, and at the time several exciting partnerships were bubbling under. Fresh from trialling the treatment with groups and one to ones, we are now delighted to be offering 'AcuGong' sessions in Hackney, Blackheath & Devon. 

Who we are


Myself, Ali, yoga teacher, yoga therapist & sacred sound practitioner. Sarah Pritchard, acupuncturist and Tui Na specialist: Sarah has been a big inspiration for me as she flows through life manifesting her dreams with a huge depth of knowledge and infectious enthusiasm. And Chinese medicine practitioner Isabel Milner who adds an intuitive and compassionate touch to the body work.


What is AcuGong?

AcuGong is and does as it sounds; we combine acupuncture with the guiding vibrations of a gong bath, 
plus hands on energy/ body work. Acu and gong each work to balance the physical, subtle and causal flow of life force energy - for increased wellbeing and consciousness. 

Life is a flow of chi - flow with it...

When working with this combination we've found the effect to be greater than the sum of its parts. We (and our clients) often have the feeling that we are unearthing and reviving some ancient art of our feminine ancestors. Much like sound, colour & smell there seems a collective conscious shift towards time-honoured technologies in our healing modalities.

Both acupuncture and gong work along the bodies meridian energy lines, discovered in ancient Chinese medicine and verified by science today. AcuGong is about more than stimulating the liver or balancing the spleen, it is a journey that takes you deep inside your body to uncover its wisdom and understand the mental patterns which are both imprinted there and released through the flow of chi. 

Vibrational medicine not only has huge potential to bring body and mind back into harmony, but to protect our immunity in the first place. As physical wellbeing manifests from imbalance through the energy system, it would seem to make sense to work with practises which clear us of the daily onslaught of disharmonious vibration. A great resource for info on this is 'Vibrational Medicine' by Dr Richard Gerber. 

Intention...and awareness

More and more in my own practise and work I'm reminded of the power of intention, both group and personal. In each and every yoga practise, in each and every step of self healing, intention is the vehicle which gathers and guides the energy created to its destination. Thats not to say we only have to make an intention and its all fixed. We must continue to have awareness of what brought us here, what it taught us and what patterns we need to address. 

How does a treatment work as a group: 

Actually the work begins before the session as we begin to set our minds towards that which we wish to shift...

The afternoon opens with guided meditation, intention setting and mantra, moving into the treatment space for 1.5 hours approx. Where you'll receive needles by Sarah, in specific energy points relevant to your intention and current health, while I build up steady waves of gong and circulate with singing bowls & tuning forks. 

During the treatment Sarah and Isabel provide hands on bodywork to stimulate and balance the flow of chi where needed. After the session we allow for grounding, sharing (optional) and finally we burn and release the intentions to the universe.

One to ones: 

In a similar way but without the sharing, a treatment lasts around 1 hour and can be applied to any health condition. 

In both cases its important to note the AcuGong may be the start of bringing to light certain patterns, rather than an immediate fix all. Collectively our journey continues...

AcuGong recent feedback:

"I am speechless, more powerful than plant medicine!"

"Something profound has shifted since the treatment, I notice myself handling life in a different way."



AcuGong is coming up at The Well Garden 28th May, Blackheath Complementary Health Centre 5th June & in Lyme Regis on 7th Aug. Contact me for info! 


Thursday, 18 February 2016

Intend it loud and proudly

1 year ago, exactly to the day I received the keys, I voiced out loud, in a powerful circle of goddesses (aka yin training), an intention which had been bubbling away subconsciously, even since starting a blog called 'yoga adrift': to open a floating yoga and gong space. 

A space surrounded by nature; with no speedy turnovers between classes, where people could drink tea and chat after class; for friends to host weird workshops that wouldn't be 'commercial' enough for big spaces. In my dream I would live in a boatman's cabin on this floating ashram and my living room would be a yoga studio (a bigger version of what I have now basically...). It almost happened with a potential Belgian barge swap. Then things got busy, the cruising logistics (and bank balance) didn't quite work out. 

But it seems the wheels were turning on a divine plan, its outcome only slightly different to mine! So, later than expected, but with the same delight and pride, I can now introduce 'the shepherds hut at south mill lock'. Crafted from salvaged bits and pieces of trucks and houses, it fell into my path with the support of some generous-hearted and creative souls. And perhaps a divine wink that I still had some lessons to learn about patience. 

A mini yoga & gong space by, if not on, the river. On wheels (it couldn't be entirely stationary could it?) in a field next to my boat. But the intention remains the same. 

Now available for mini retreats and private gong baths for up to 4 people - and for use by other practitioners and teachers! 

What I learned? Keep intending out loud, surrendering the results and waiting patiently for what will be. LOVE from the river x








Saturday, 19 December 2015

Still adrift, but putting down roots

5 winters (the river measure of time and hardiness) ago I returned from India broke and in pieces, and moved into a cold and unfamiliar world. 

Making a shaky start (broken gear boxes, chimneys lost under low bridges) and frozen in at Hertford I soon toughened up, scooping snow off the roof to boil for tea (and sneaking round to my best mates for washing and warmth). Then it was off to london to join the world of continuous cruising; whereby nomadic boaters move every two weeks, a 'reasonable' distance, sporadically policed by the questionable authority of canal and river trust. A sign of the times is that since then the liveaboard community on the canals has increased by 70-80 percent. Most people will claim crazy rents and inability to buy in london have fuelled this change but I like to see the wish to get outside the machine in some way as just as much a factor. That's certainly why I and many of my friends did it; craving a more sustainable lifestyle in all ways, not just monetary. 

In deciding to buy a boat I ummed and awwed for weeks about the philosophy of it - pretending to 'own' something and buying into the need for security. A wise owl (that same Hertford rock of a friend) said to me - this will be the beginnings of good things for you, and besides your home moves and you have no address it's hardly 'settling down'! She was, as often, right. 

The healing power of water had drawn me: water which signifies the life giving essence expressing in different forms; the emotions; acceptance and flow. Having this floating 'cave' and being able to step away from the popularity contest of london life, I began to expand anew. Savouring aloneness, I began to attract new friends and collaborators. 

It has been with the support of amazing family and friends that I've slowly transformed my boat into a simple but joyful home, reflecting my inner journey. Re painting and re naming her after the celtic goddess of horses this autumn I realise the subconscious power of symbolism. A friend asked me 'did you go for trad colours or does she reflect your personality?' I let the pictures speak to that : ) 

And now I move into the second stage of settling, with lesser resistance. Making a full circle back to Hertfordshire, we've moved onto a mooring on the beautiful river stort. It manifested almost instantly after stating with surprise to the universe what I would like in my life now: grounding. Nourished by water and ready for the steady base of earth. What once would have implied stuck-ness and distance from spirit now feels it's very container. Both earth in which to plant sunflowers, broccoli and herbs - and roots from which to welcome the wonderful opportunities opening up to teach and play sound. I am finding new community, including bunnies and squirrels, and soon there'll be a yoga space to invite you to. Of course, again, I can move anytime but there isn't a need to know that. 






Here she is post transformation - thank you so much to Ben Smith 'Mr Blue' boat painter. 

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Gong, gong and yet more gong @the well garden


It seems Hackney can't get enough of gong, so we've upped our offering at The Well Garden to Monday, Tuesday and Friday evening, plus a 'mini gong' for little un's and their parents every Friday at 11.15am. 

Whats it all about?

Grand gong master Don Conreaux coined the phrase 'holistic resonance'. The gong sound represents AUM, the universal sound of creation, and has been described by our students as beautiful, dark, angelic, primal, avante garde, industrial, watery, whale-like and much more. No experience is the same. 

With the widest spectrum of tones and overtones of any instrument we've come across, there is something for us all as the room is enveloped in sound and our relaxed bodies and minds absorb that vibration down to a cellular level. Put more simply, it sounds good and feels even better! 

We are energetic beings - our bodies, thoughts and actions vibrating within a universe of vibration. And sometimes the frenetic pace of life gets us a bit out of balance - disharmony leads to dis-ease. 

The gong is our pied piper to lead us to stillness in a noisy world. Here we can access self healing; re-set ourselves to face the week ahead; perhaps know ourselves a little better away from the distractions of who we have to be on a daily basis. 

In gong we are all equal, laying snugly on the floor, held in a space of love, drifting towards one-ness once again. 

See timetable here.


***

Your turn to play gong! And all night gong bath. 

This Autumn Equinox we have a special treat for those who wish to understand more abut the gong and pick up the mallets for themselves! 

On Sat 19th Sept gong master, author, musician and teacher Sheila Whittaker is hosting a one day intro workshop (10am-5pm) followed by an all night gong 'puja' (10pm Sat - 7am Sunday). A whole day and night of being gonged and gonging! 

Sheila brings a wealth of knowledge and experience in working with sound healing, which she shares with insight, lightness and compassion. Not to be missed if you've been enjoying our gongs baths so far - there are just a few paces remaining. 

Click here for full details or contact me with any queries (piriamvadayogaetc@gmail.com). 




Monday, 20 July 2015

Connection & community

I have always been a bit of a loner, typical Sagittarius - living by myself, travelling solo and, although obviously surrounded by people in classes, working very much by myself. The idea of community and collaboration can get brushed to the side when we get super busy. Cycling between classes and working evenings I often felt that fellow yoga teachers were whizzing past each other, rarely having time to meet. 

When I graduated as a yoga teacher I didn't really know anyone else who was doing this, and most of my class mates were in other corners of the world. I kind of scrambled through the transition into contacting studios, setting up my own classes, creating lesson plans - with a lot of trial and error. 

Recently I've been asked to mentor several of my students in making the transition into teaching. And this has been such a gift, to reflect on and share some of those learnings. To feel proud of their journeys as well as my own. 

Embarking on my second teacher training I gained much more of a sense of community - our Akhanda yoga family has branches throughout the world and is now growing strong roots in the UK, through brilliant trainings offered by Yog Sundari. 

Community is so vital, to share knowledge and to express what we are teaching - that external differences are just labels and we are all the same underneath. It is easy to be equanimous in lone practise but real practise is to challenge it in interaction. 

Of course community doesn't mean just sticking to 'our kind', and I have learned most in recent years from collaborating with practitioners in other fields - acupuncture, homeopathy, massage, music. What a wonderful 'job' this is to meet with others who open our minds in new ways and to offer treatment exchanges to work on our own healing and progress. 

Returning from GMT in Poland I have a new family, created around the magic circle of the gong. As the gong is relatively new I feel the opportunity to create this community in a truly open and positive way which is about collaboration rather than picking over differences or competition. There are more than enough gong-ees to go around and the more gong is out there the more people will come. 

If we are open minded, collaboration might be a single meeting which we learn so much from or it can be a long term partnership which takes us in a whole new direction. Collaboration teaches us that we don't have to do it all ourselves (despite being super yogis who are of course possible of it) and allows us to focus on what we are most connected to in this moment. 

I feel a new direction calling me as I bring together learnings from all these connections over the years. Launching 'Resonant Retreats' is an attempt to create conscious connections through yoga, gong, wholesome eating and community - to uplift the vibration of our lives. Fran is the raw food genius who is also my hairdresser, dear friend and ex yoga student. We talk for hours about juicing and cleaning up the rivers but we also have a great laugh and we hope a sense of fun, love and lightness will come through in our offerings. See retreats page for info. 

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Space & soma - a midsummer workshop in Blackheath - 28th June

Delighted to be invited to host a midsummer workshop at the gorgeous Blackheath Complementary Health Centre in SE London....

'This body is an instrument, you will hear the tune it is meant to play.' Anandamayi Ma (the 'bliss-permeated mother')

In this half day workshop ('space & soma') we will create the space, which is often missing in our lives, bodies and heads, to uplift our vibration - through yin yoga, pranayama, chanting and gong meditation.

Harmonising and making space in body & mind - the yoga session
Life is a balance of yin and yang - around us, within us and pervading the whole universe. In modern life, and even yoga practise, our balance can tip towards excess yang, the fast paced active, solar energy - depleting our receptive, lunar and nurturing yin. Yin yoga involves surrendering to poses, in stillness, for long periods of time; listening to the body, watching the breath, waiting for release and opening.
Whereas dynamic yoga moves chi, yin yoga builds chi - the life force which runs through our meridians and chakras, bringing harmony to immune system, vital organs and glands. Yin yoga builds physical flexibility and emotional resilience - acceptance and awakening to inner wisdom.
Pranayama means not only controlling the breath but expanding the vital life force within it. We will explore the blissful Brahmari breath.
Through mantra we create space between true self and an overload of information and thought. Chanting as a group creates a powerful healing vibration for the well-being of ourselves and all.

Filling that space with blissful vibration - the gong
Bathing in the sound of gong is believed to work along the same meridian lines as acupuncture and yin yoga. Having opened up and wound down in the yoga session you are free to lay back and receive the vibrations of gong, deep into the body, energy system and mind. The gracious gong has a broader range of tones and harmonics than any other healing instrument so its potential to lead us towards self healing is vast and inclusive.
Each session is different, depending on your own needs and energy in that moment. Many people experience profound relaxation and physical release, the movement of blocked energies. Others see images and colours. You may slip into deep meditation, tap into intuition or leave with greater mental clarity. Probably the most common result is the best night's sleep in years!
Feedback from recent gong & yin workshops:
'I'm buzzing with energy after the yin, in a really lovely way. And I feel very clear in my head!'



'The gong session helped very much in a moment of intense external stress and worry. I found the resonance and vibration to support, encourage and expand the breath, so there is a constant dialogue between both. The body starts to open up on its own time, effortlessly, as if each organ, chakra, muscle, body and mind structure awakens like a flower in the right moment. There is no forcing, no pushing, the sound is the conduit for change. It is a very beautiful, poetic experience that makes you connect fully with life.'


Further details:

Saturday 28th June 2015
10am - 1pm
£30 early bird offer when booked and paid before 30th May
£35 thereafter
At Blackheath Complementary Health Centre 184-186 Westcombe Hill, London SE3 7DH 
The workshop is suitable for all, regardless of yoga experience. Please contact us if you have any specific health conditions or injuries which require extra support.
A short break with herbal teas and snacks will be provided. Please ensure you leave 2-3 hours between breakfast and the yoga session at 10am.
Please bring blankets, warm layers and drinking water – yoga mats and equipment provided.
Contact: 
For queries and bookings: Ali / 07855 402 837 / piriamvadayogaetc@gmail.com / www.yoga-adrift.com


Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Chai & chat with...Sheila Whittaker, gong master, musician, teacher & sound healer

I have noticed a huge surge in interest in the gong recently, with many people asking me where they can learn to play. So... we are delighted to welcoming such an authority on sound healing and gong, Sheila Whittaker, to host an introductory workshop and ALL-night gong puja at the well garden this Sept 19th. Sheila's was the first gong workshop I attended and has provided much inspiration for my personal and playing journey with the gong! Over to Sheila to tell you more...

What got you into working with the gong?
I was already working as a Sound Healer when I discovered the gong, about ten years ago - a series of synchronicities led me to discover it. I quickly realised it is the most powerful Sound Healing instrument and did the necessary training. Since then I  have specialised in working with large high quality gongs.

How many gongs do you own?
About 28 I think

...Which is the most essential/ dear to you and why?
I love my 60" gong and it is an amazing healing instrument. But my 38" symphonic gong is my favourite - it's sound is like coming home to me.. it has everything and really moulds to the person it is treating, giving exactly what is needed. 

You are a classically trained musician - does/ how does that influence your gong playing? 
It doesn't really influence my gong playing - it's not necessary to be musically trained to play the gong as it's a spontaneous thing - we play intuitively. But I guess my musical training does come in sometimes as I often find myself playing rhythms or hearing certain harmonies. The musical training definitely helps with my teaching though - it's very useful in that arena.

What are the benefits of a 'gong bath'?
Stress relief, relaxation, increased ability to cope with life's every day challenges, feeling more chilled out and tolerant, plus a myriad of other possible effects such as pain relief, and help for conditions such as insomnia, migraines, fibromyalgia, kidney stones, and other conditions.

What is the difference between a gong meditation and gong/ sound healing?
A gong meditation would probably be for a number of people, who may be either sitting or lying down, like a group gongbath. A gong healing would usually be a treatment session on a one-to-one basis for one recipient, with the Gong Practitioner just focusing on that person.

How important is intention when offering or receiving sound healing? 
I think it is very important. My intention is always to be a clear and pure channel for healing sound to flow through me for the Highest good of all present. Then there is always a positive intention, and that can only lead to a good outcome.

Where is the most unusual place you've held a gong bath?
I suppose that would have to be a huge basketball court in Perth, Australia, about 8 years ago when we took the on tour. Many people attended the group gongbath - it was an awesome occasion. I've also played at several garden parties, and it's nice to play the gongs outside - birds join in and animals tend to come and want to listen. 

What are some of the common ailments/ conditions you use gong to treat?
As above - insomnia, pain relief, fibromyalgia, migraines and headaches, stress relief, energy imbalances of all types, both physical and emotional, blocks in the subtle energy system, moving people on spiritually by clearing old energy. 

...And some of the more surprising/ unusual?
Yes, we've had results with kidney stones - scans showed there was one, then after a gongbath it had gone. We seem to be able to clear blockages to conception too - I and my students have successfully treated several ladies who wanted to get pregnant, and conceived following one or more gong treatments.

How do the benefits differ when playing rather than receiving a gong bath?
When you receive a gongbath you're able to just relax and receive. So the client may feel more relaxed than the therapist afterwards. However, I do feel that the benefits are more or less the same for giver and receiver - as Gong Practitioners we are so close to the gongs when giving treatments and gongbaths that we are bound to benefit from the vibes just as much as the client we are treating. We're not free to allow ourselves to go fully into Theta state and have visions and "journey", but we still get the effects. That's my feeling anyway, and my experience.

Why is the gong becoming so popular?
Because it has the broadest range of tones of any Sound Healing instrument. It works so well for relaxation, wellbeing and relief of stress, and people seem to be drawn to it somehow, when they are ready to grow spiritually.

As a healer how do you balance the need for technology with connection to nature?
Not easily! I use technology when necessary, and it is necessary to be able to utilise the latest technology for our work, while recognising that our connection to nature is of primary importance. Nature is our earth - our mother, and we need to be connected with her above all else. There are some destructive technologies today that I feel are not necessary or advantageous. We need to put nature first, not technology!

Who or what have been your greatest teachers?
Many! My parents; my first spiritual teacher Sri Vasudeva; the gong work and the gongs; certain relationships have been some of the greatest teachers! Mooji; James Eaton; Eckhart Tolle. My own self observation and intuition.

What keeps you in balance (gong and other treatments or practises)?
The gongs, chanting, listening to music, meditation of all types, playing the violin and performing, eating lightly and nutritiously, mixing with like-minded people, doing things which keep my energy vibration high.

What is the importance of honouring the equinoxes and solstices?
I feel we need to honour the natural cycles of the earth and celebrate the passing of the seasons. It is good to mark these times with rituals, as our ancestors did in times past - an opportunity for people to come together in celebration. The gong Puja is an ideal event to celebrate these special times.


Sheila's first introductory gong workshop takes places at the well garden, hackney on Sat 19th Sept - you can attend the daytime workshop 10am-5pm to learn more about the gong's history as well as how to play - plus participate (play and receive gong) in a sacred gong puja ceremony, running all night until Sunday 20th (breakfast provided)! 






 

Monday, 6 April 2015

'Dig a hole for your pond without waiting for the moon. When the pond is finished the moon will come by itself'...

These words by Dogen Kenji just sum up the practise of yin yoga for me. Recently I was lucky enough to take a yin yoga training with Gayatri Gayle Poapst a Canadian anatomy and yoga teacher who trained with Sarah Powers, one of yin's pioneers.

Yin, also known as Taoist yoga, is all about resistance and surrender. We surrender the to the pose, we surrender the mind's resistance into breath or mantra, we surrender (rather than resist) what is right now. We wait. This might sound unpalatable, especially for us pitta types! Yet, as is often the case, what we 'dislike' can often be just what we need - a welcome release in a world of striving and flitting.

The environment many of us live, work and play in is YANG. To keep up with it we eat, move, think in a very yang way. And why not? No one wants to be seen to slow down, step back, ' lose their edge' - right (including, perhaps, on the mat)? As nature around us plays out as a balance of yin and yang, so do we require both the 'sunny and shady sides of the mountain' to be healthy and whole. Yin and yang exist together, within one another, within each of us.

Coming home from the first day of training, via the buzz and tension of the tube, I cycled down the river feeling the shivers of chi in my body. I looked at the reflection of the full moon in the water and thought: this is what yin yoga brings to the mat (and this is what london needs more of!).

Why yin?

Yin and the physical body

When we move in and out of asana in dynamic or 'yang' practise we rarely hold a pose longer than 1 minute and even where we do we are engaging, activating and generally working against gravity, which both stretches muscles and strengthens them. This is great and totally necessary, but doesn't scratch the surface of the structures which connect bones, joints and muscles. It takes over 3 mins to stretch out these ligaments, tendons and fascia - with a like-attracts-like approach, ie holding for a long time in a relaxed way...a yin approach to yin tissues.

Lines of fascia connect the body from head to toe and spiralling within, for example from the psoas through the diaphragm to the tongue. The body is interconnected by its web and wherever we tense or tug a strand we affect seemingly unconnected regions. A microcosm of the universe itself. Imagine how as we spend hours at the laptop, forehead tensed, this ripples through the body.

As for the joints, as we age they become drier, more vata - yin practise keeps them lubricated and infused with prana.

Yin in balance

Fascia gives us our shape and sometimes even yoga practise doesn't seem to be shifting that whole body stiffness we come up against at certain times of life or circumstance. So try yin... But don't give up your yang practise just yet! The two balance each other. Yin may make our yang praise more open and flexible but yang does a vital job of strengthening and stabilising our joints to complement their openness.

As someone drawn to contemplative practise I absolutely savour yin but with high mobility I recognize the absolute need to keep on strengthening. Actually it's an interesting practise for 'bendy ones' as we can often flop easily into a (physically) deep expression of a pose without much to challenge our awareness - as yin focuses on sensation we may have to step back to find it, and focus even deeper to be sure we are safe.

Yin versus restorative

Although both may use multiple props, restorative yoga is more designed to release the body into support and comfort, ideal for recovery from illness or injury, with yin more aligned to exploring our edges of comfort and going beyond the body into the deeper Koshas.

If anyone tells you either style of yoga is the 'easy option' I invite them to spend 10 minutes in dragon!!

Yin and the energy body

Many of us groan at the idea of hip openers as we know that not only our stiffness is highlighted. The hips, land of the swadisthana chakra, stir up emotions and here in yin we are holding them for an, at first, excruciating 3/5/10 or more minutes (yes, each side!). Fascia it seems is the gateway to the meridians or Nadis and the chakras and provides access to stored emotions and tendencies.

Chinese medicine and yogic anatomy overlap in mapping out how our organs, glands and nervous system are supplied with the subtle force which makes them tick. Lines of chi or prana move through water rich channels, governing our state of health. This chi must move (yang practise) but also be replenished (yin).

Of course the breath is the vehicle of prana and the stillness of the poses offers us a real opportunity to study, feel and guide the breath.

Mindfulness

Mindfulness tunes us into how we feel through the messages of sensations - the body whispering, talking and eventually shouting at us for what we need. Yoga practised with a desire for the body to be different and a list of shoulds and musts can reinforce our disconnection.

Once we find our comfortable edge in a yin pose we commit to stillness, breathe and observe. W
e 'dig our pond' and we wait!..becoming the witness. This, of course, is easier said than done, but hugely rewarding (as the tons of mindfulness research that have emerged in recent years reflects) in life off the mat. The poses increase the potential for us to feel our body while coming back to the witness challenges the egos grip on our consciousness as we stay, in stillness, and drop through the body into deeper layers of mind.

Yin and meditation

'Yogas chitta vritti nirodah' yoga is stilling the fluctuations of consciousness (patanjali)

How many of us stay still for more then 5 minutes in the waking day without distracting ourselves in some way - book, iPhone, TV, conversation etc etc?. Amazing how we think 'I just want to be still and quiet yet' when that is offered we will do anything we can to escape it, to wriggle away from the discomfort of what appears in the space or just the space itself - the mind throwing us resistance in the form of itches and excuses - 'I don't need this', 'how boring' etc.

In yin, after establishing ourselves as the witness, we are in a ripe space to face the underlying patterns which everyday life allows us to dodge. Being still and quiet is not about swinging from a rajasic mind to a dull one - we face it's ripples and let them go, often adding the positive vibration of mantra or brahmaree breath (or welcoming in the luscious tones of gong).

Yin is meditation in partial motion itself but if you find the act of sitting tricky it will also give you some much needed openess in the hips to fold into that 'steady comfortable seat'... And all that unfolds from there.

I start a weekly yin class every Thursday 6.30pm at the well garden from April 9th
As yin works along the same meridian lines as gong I invite you to try them both together for some powerful release and rejuvenation...
6.30pm - 8.30pm, £16/18




Friday, 28 November 2014

gong gone weekly!

Exciting times: the monthly gong meditation is going weekly. We have a new home at The Well Garden, in Hackney Downs Studios, every Friday from 5th Dec, which happens to be the next shiny bright full moon to grace London's skyline. 

So what's the gong experience all about? 

There is nothing to do...except undo with gong. You lie in a snuggly shavasana for an hour enjoying sound "bath" (literally like bathing in an ocean of gong, singing bowls and natural sounds).  

Sometimes sounding like a UFO crashing into the core of the earth; at times industrial; other sounds coming as if from the depth of the ocean, the gong leads us like an AUM-ing pied piper into states of healing and bliss that our everyday rational mind clouds. Many people who 'can't do meditation' get a little window into its world. 


It can be a powerful cleansing experience, washing away physical, energetic and mental stuck-ness. 

I really don't want to say more... expect come and experience it, without any expectations, but maybe a little bit of background is useful. 

The beauty of the gong sound is one thing (gong legend Don Conreaux believes it takes less than a minute to hook ANY listener), but the vibration does the inner work - and for long after the mallets are hung up - shaking through the spaces and watery contents of our body. The brain is also re-patterned - its left side gives up, the right blooms; alpha waves slow and harmonise to states akin to deep sleep or trance. Scientists are even showing the effect of sound work on DNA structure. The possibilities are endless with sound, it seems like we are rediscovering the power of vibration which is so primordial and so essential to our daily sensory lives. 

My first experience of gong was with a sound healer friend and it blew my mind, a few months later he had me playing and the collecting of these mysterious instruments began. Gong originated in Persia over 3500 years ago and has been used in Tibet and China for ceremony and healing for centuries. Like a singing bowl they are crafted from a special alloy of metals - the modern day gong meditation phenomena is largely due to master cymbal maker Paiste who cottoned onto the healing effects of gong and started making ranges based on the planets and elements, plus the orchestral sounding symphonics. 

It can be a mystical and magical experience playing or receiving gong. Or it can bring you a few moments peace in a stressful time. No one experience is better or more special than anothers'. No matter how we look on the outside or feel inside, gong is a leveller - eyes closed, all laying on our backs there is no comparison or competition (which can creep up in even the most practised yogi right?). 

Gong affects us on many levels depending what we need at the time. It is the gong that is the energy channel rather than the player, a fact confirmed by gong teacher and author Sheila Whitaker to me on a training weekend (2 incredible days of either gonging or being gonged). We step aside from ego and it's notions of technique and just play what's needed for the group energy presenting itself. Gong is perhaps the most powerful instrument for sound work as it offers so many different overtones that a broad range people's needs can be accessed in one session. 

Speaking to my own experience, gong connects me to my intuition. It also connects me to simplicity and love, where sometimes I can get carried away with this philosophy and that, to endless wondering and watching my self (this is obviously key but sometimes we just need to say less and hug more people). It makes me feel grounded and expanded all at once, but has also helped me release physical blocks. And sometimes we need tangible proof. It's not like teacher or healer emerges from the gong to provide the answers, simply that following it's merry journey strips back my layers, thoughts and defences so much that I can experience that all are within. 

Gong meditation 
Every Friday 7.30pm
£10 in advance by paypal or BACS (email me for details)/ £12 on the night
The Well Garden 

The Village Green 
Hackney Downs Studios 
17 Amhurst Terrace 
E82TB





From the beaches of southern portugal, back to hackney this full moon. OM : ) 

Monday, 17 December 2012

Lighter days ahead


One of my dad's signature phrases, actually I think a lot of dad's use it, when we were growing up, was 'the nights are fair drawing in' - usually said, depressingly, about May! Well, this week, I'd like to proclaim the opposite! 

This morning definitely felt lighter, I even managed a practise outdoors watching the sun rise over the river from the roof of Bokissa. Blissful.

This Friday is winter solstice, the mid point of winter, when the days start to lengthen and we can perhaps get a sense of spring being (somewhere) around the corner. 

I'm celebrating the winter sun with a gong meditation at stretch this Friday. Anyone who hasn't escaped out of London already is more than welcome. 

As I've explained before a gong-bath requires you to do very little - in fact as little as possible, just laying still and allowing the waves of sound to get into the energy pathways of the body; to cleanse, release and relax.

Here are the details:

Winter solstice gong-bath

Friday 21st December 8-9pm
stretch, 206 Netil House, One Westgate Street, E8 6RL.

The midway point in winter, December solstice is known as a time for rebirth; tipping the balance towards positive energies, with longer days and shorter nights... 

Join me for an hour of gong-meditation: bathe in the shimmering sounds of the sun gong; bringing deep release and relaxation, and perhaps setting some intentions for a brighter year ahead.

Suitable for all levels.

by Ali (Piriamvada) Gunning - I teach Akhanda and Classical Kundalini Yoga in North and East London - home is Bokissa & the river Lea.