Tuesday, 3 January 2017

NEW website Yoga East

We have changed over to a new website. Come and have a look...

Yoga East

Details about classes, intensives and retreats, my yoga garden and my new blogs are at the new website.


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Om shanti,

Margot XX

Sunday, 4 September 2016

Yoga: a way to being calm and steady or just a good stretch?


What is yoga? 

My explanation - yoga is a way of being, a way of life, an art form if you like, a holistic system of self transformation, a way to connect deeply with ourselves, others and understand via experience that we are the universe. Yet many people believe yoga is firstly, just physical exercise and secondly, a way to have good stretch. 

A key text the yoga sutras of Patanjali's tells us in the second sutra that "yoga is the ability to direct the mind exclusively towards an object and sustain that direction without any distractions" (Desikachar, T.K.V., 1995) and yet in this crazy modern world here in the West it appears that despite yoga's popularity it is still largely misunderstood.

And here is my evidence - whenever, I am asked what I do for a living and I say I'm a yoga teacher I get a few common responses - "Oh I have always wanted to try yoga', 'Great! I should stretch more', and my personal favourite just 'oh' and then quickly look at the floor or change the subject. Even after 6 years of teaching and suggesting yoga is about being calm and steady I still have students thanking me for a class that gave them a good stretch or sometimes the opposite demanding they feel a stretch 'I'm not getting a stretch!' they cry.

If I had  a dollar for every time I have heard that yoga is all about flexibility, about stretching then I would be wealthy indeed no need to teach I could just be. Now everyone learns at a different speed and as a teacher once said to me they will learn when they need to - when the time is right. Patience. And that often teachers teach what they themselves need to learn...in my case to relax more and slow down. 

Inverloch Australia Photo M. Porter

So where does that leave us?

Traditionally, yoga was transmitted between a teacher and their student (one-on-one). This gave the teacher a real opportunity to get to know their student and tailor a practice just for them. However, today where yoga is taught in group classes and often large group classes where it would be impossible for the teacher even an amazingly good one to get around and ensure the practice was made safe for each person let alone individually appropriate. Interestingly, yoga was also seen as a therapeutic practice - not a stretching competition or a good work out - designed by a guru to suit the physical/mental/emotional/spiritual needs of their student. Perhaps it is no wonder that many people - around 50% - try a yoga class and never return.

My understanding of yoga is that you should be able to be at ease and calm in a pose, that you could have a normal conversation and that stretching/tensing is not really involved. One of my favourite teachers Simon Borg-Olivier repeats: "Bend less, stretch less, tense less, think less, eat less."

And my friends, it gets more curious when you consult the ancient sutras for there is not a single word about increasing/improving your flexibility or stretching. Surprised!

Immmmmm so what does, for example, Patanjali’s yoga sutras say about asanas

Sutra 2.46 Sthira sukham asanam
A yoga posture must possess the qualities of stability and ease.

Sutra 2.47 Prayatna saithilya ananta samapattibhyam
Practice asana by applying appropriate effort and contemplating the Infinite.
And as a result

Sutra 2.48 Tatah dvanda anabhighata
Then you become undisturbed by life’s challenges.

I love this translation for this is such different approach to what most yoga appears to be in classes, workshops, retreats and online. In fact, if we judged yoga from instagram yoga would be about  trying to achieve the deepest form of a pose all the time. Perhaps ask yourself this the next time you consider moving physically deeper into a pose seeking out that elusive stretch am I doing yoga? Or am I simply stretching?

Ask yourself?

Does the deepest form of the pose make me feel stable, quiet and at ease? 
How much and what kind of effort am I putting into the pose
What am I thinking while I am doing the pose?
What is my ultimate goal?

Perhaps another way of saying this is are you doing yoga or is yoga doing you? Increasingly, I am seeing my yoga friends fall by the wayside as they succumb to injuries quite possibly bought on by forcing their bodies to open in ways that may not be healthy. And indeed, ponder me,  miss bendy wendy have I been simply flopping into poses because I can without considering the concept of stability and will I too be a car crash on the yoga highway.

More to consider...

Does the way I practice enhance my life?
Or am I simply chasing increasingly difficult body contortions even though I know yoga is not a competition?

Go on answer those questions - honestly!

If you are truly following the yoga path to profound and deep connection with oneness, God, spirit, nature whatever you wish to call the mighty life force, then now is the time to really instill, ingrain those powerful sutras into your skin, muscles, bone, into your  marrow and deep into your consciousness.
A few years ago I went to weekend workshop where we chanted the actual sutras as we were practising (I apologise for my dreadful sanskrit). And then we chanted them mentally to ourselves through meditation.

 sutra 2.46 Sthira sukham asanam 

May you be calm and steady as the waves of life dance and cascade around you.

Om shanti,
Margot xx

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Afternoon Spring Yoga Retreat October 2nd 2016

Afternoon Spring Yoga Retreat

Flow into Spring
Sold Out!

October 2nd, 2016
Sunday 12.30pm - 5pm
Suits all levels
Limited places
Light afternoon tea provided

Yoga East
Upstairs 206 a Main street, Bairnsdale

Payment secures your spot on the mat

Direct Bank Transfer details contact Margot

With absolute joy, I welcome my beloved friend and fellow pranic traveller Embodied Flow™ teacher Katy Carter (RYT500) from New Zealand to Yoga East.

Katy has studied and practised yoga in London, India, Bali, Australia and New Zealand. A senior qualified yoga teacher in the School of Embodied Flow™, Katy has practiced yoga in various styles for over 19 years. Katy continues to creatively develop her teaching in line with her own evolving life skills, awakening consciousness and curiosities. A natural communicator and connector, Katy takes you on a journey beyond the everyday ordinariness of being human, into the extraordinary qualities of being. Katy is a freelance yoga teacher in Auckland NZ, and creates and holds popular retreats in New Zealand.

Together we are whipping up a yoga celebration of spring for you to immerse yourself in as we open up to the possibilities of a new season, a new moment, a new you. Come along shed your winter skin and explore your deep connection to the world around us.

Embodied Flow with Katy
12.30 - 2.30pm
Expansion and Contraction: Sukha and Dukkha

The circadian rhythms of the universe are forever in motion. These are intimately reflected within the nature of our bodies. We are Nature. As we emerge from winter and step into spring, how do we shed the contracted state of the body-mind, and find our flow again? Exploring kinespheres of our body-mind in space, we will tap into awareness of the energies inside us, and the macrocosm of energies surrounding us to bring ourselves into a greater state of harmony with nature and initiate a deep appreciation of joy. We will breathe, stretch, dance, play and rest in stillness.

This Embodied Flow Yoga workshop will take you on an investigatory voyage through inner and outer space, journeying in and into the incredible vessel of your body. As captains of our own ships, we will skilfully and playfully navigate our selves into unchartered territory, prepared with a spirit of adventurous enquiry and equipped with a toolbox of Hatha Yoga, Somatic Movement, Meditation, Breath - in a nutshell: Embodied Flow TM.
Come with curiosity!

A little indulgence - a light yet slightly naughty afternoon tea. The goodies will be dairy/gluten/sugar free suitable for vegetarians and vegans.

Spring Yin with Margot
3 - 5pm
Surrender and devotion - Ishvara Prandihana 

Yin Yoga is a wonderful way to truly ground and surrender our bodies to stillness, to meditation,  to the earth. When we allow ourselves to soften and be held by the earth we recognise or (re)member our interconnectedness to this infinite timeline and amazingly complex ecosystem. Deepen your connection with yourself, with others, with the universe as you release into yoga shapes feeling the rebound from  the earth and embracing the moment as an awakening tool to remember your interconnectedness to everything.
will guide you through a series of poses primarily targeting legs and pelvis to lengthen and soften deep tissue layers, to create space in the joints, and to open up the fascia matrix allowing chi and fluids to flow just like a river flows to the sea. While there is an emphasis on massaging and stimulating spring meridians (liver and gall bladder) a sprinkling of poses for the spine will melt away winter contraction by hydrating  the body garden as we give space to let the seeds of intention flourish. Hydrate the whole body matrix through stillness and mindfulness. Surrender to the earth that holds and supports us, to the earth that is us.
Surrender. Let go and let life unfold. Trust.

“What would happen if you let everything to be exactly as it is.” Adyashanti

Sunday, 26 June 2016

Wake up in Bali Yoga Retreat June 4 - 11 2017

 Coming up...

June 4 - 11th, 2017
Bali Yoga Retreat

12 spaces only will be available on this unique yoga retreat in a handpicked location in Bali. 7 nights at an exclusive secret location away from the crowds. Pure blissful time out in stunning exotic nature on the north coast. Led by two experienced teachers Margot Porter (AUS) and Katy Carter (NZ).
Ever since they reconnected by chance in Bali a year ago

Margot and Katy have been dreaming up the ultimate nourishing soul-filled yoga retreat. A retreat is a yoga 'holiday' designed to Wake you out of your normal daily routine to dive deep into yoga (awakening) practices, to inspire, develop, and nurture your practice, as well as allow you to rest and recharge in the beauty and tranquility of breathtaking natural surroundings. 

We chose Bali by design, or rather Bali chose us: for the sacred and spiritual atmosphere, visually and energetically rich creative and devotional culture, warm, friendly, welcoming people, tropical and dramatic land and seascape; perfect conditions to experience that which Yoga is ultimately designed to do: awaken us, bring us closer to connecting with Self / Universe / Source (God, Divine , Nature , Spirit Soul , Oneness , Love – whichever word you prefer to call it ). 
What a place to Wake Up! 
 Our Yoga Retreat is held at the exclusive Jeda Villas ~ Pemuteran ~ North West Bali

Wake Up in a beautiful luxury villa, surrounded by lush tropical nature and stunning mountain 
views, just minutes from the beaches of North Bali. Let your body delight in unwinding with a fluid morning yoga practice. Nourish your senses and appetite with a bountiful tropical breakfast, before 
a refreshing dip in your private pool. And that’s just the start of your day…

The Retreat
On a yoga retreat, time seems to slow down and amplify, as we drop into the steady 
discipline of refining presence and attention with daily practice: nourishing body, heart, 
mind and soul. There will be plenty of time for both peaceful solitude and like-hearted connection, 
idyllic stillness and rejuvenating movement, activity and rest. All of the 
practices will be suitable for all levels of experience, and the limited group number (12 participants) 
will allow for plenty of personal attention in classes. There will also be 
plenty of time to relax, by the pool, at the beach, whatever your heart desires.

The Practice
We offer twice daily sessions of yoga, meditation and other awakening explorations or movement practices. Every day will begin with a delicious flowing asana sequence, 
pranayama and simple meditation to greet the new day. Afternoons will vary from day 
to day, and will include: restorative yoga, somatic and creative workshops, choice of 
free time activities; evenings may include yoga nidra and meditation. There will be 
opportunity for one personal yoga session with either of the teachers.
Sample daily schedule will be sent when you register.

See more on my retreat page or ask for an information pack. 

Register your interest with  Margot at Yoga East at margotporteryoga@hotmail.com and receive your information sheet and registration form.

Monday, 13 June 2016

Winter yoga wonder

 A Yogic Winter Guide
Wrap up  for winter
Winter is approaching and the natural world is withdrawing, becoming dormant and preparing to embrace the long, dark, cold season of slumber. There is a particular softness and stillness that characterizes winter, and with it comes an opportunity to redirect our energies. The winter season is the time to balance out the dynamic and outward focused activities of summer and the slower yet still busy season of autumn. Winter is our time to rest, reflect, hold space, hibernate and redirect our energy inwards.
Each season ushers in a unique set of qualities that can either pacify or aggravate the inner workings of each individual. Further, the same season can affect two different people in dramatically different ways, depending on their unique nature. This explains why some people love the heat of the summer while others enjoy the coldness of winter and would rather play in cold snow. Your local climate is a key player in your overall state of balance and an understanding of your natural seasonal preferences. This is precisely why a seasonal routine is so important and so helpful. By adapting your diet and lifestyle to better accommodate the changing seasons, you can dramatically reduce the likelihood of any seasonally-induced imbalances and, should they arise, the same strategies will gently bring your body back toward its natural state of equilibrium. 

 Icy grass...first frost this winter!

Winter: A Kapha Season with Strong Vata Undertones

Winter is characterized by cold weather, increased moisture usually in the form of rain or snow, cloud-covered days. This season has a sense of heaviness, with a grounded, slow feeling that are all qualities shared by kapha dosha and this is why winter is generally considered a Kapha season. However, if your climate is exceptionally cold and dry, or if you tend to feel more isolated during the winter month then vata will also be a strong component of your winter season, and you will want to actively keep vata stable as well.

Suggestions for a Delightful and Invigorating Winter

The information that follows is a general guide for your winter routine that of course you will need to adjust to suit your individual constitution. It may well be useful for you to find out about your Ayurvedic body type as well as the common signs of kapha or vata imbalance so you can address them as they arise. Ayurveda teaches us that like increases like and that opposites balance.
 Let’s explore!
A Supportive Winter Lifestyle

Overall, cultivate a light the heart with a sharp sense of purpose to counter the cold, grey weather and the seasonal inclination towards melancholy and loneliness. Invite warmth into your mind, body and spirit by creating frequent opportunities to have fun, laugh, socialise and engage in meaningful relationships. Remember though to balance your outward focused activities with some quiet time, reflection, and stillness. Retreat and check in with yourself.
Maintain your dinacharya or natural routine with a predictable daily schedule. Routine helps keep vata in balance, whereas kapha benefits from keeping things fresh and a little unpredictable – strike an appropriate balance for you.  

·      Start your day with a short but invigorating morning routine. 
·      It is generally appropriate to sleep a little later in the winter, but be up by about 7 a.m.
·      Brush your teeth, scrape your tongue, swish warm sesame (vata) or coconut (kapha) in your mouth and massage it into your gums.
·      Treat your skin to an almond or sesame oil massage, and either leave the oil or rinse it off with a warm shower.
·      Drink some warm water to cleanse and awaken the digestive system. 
·      Apply sesame oil to the nasal passages and ears.
·      Shake off any sluggishness with some morning exercise or yo
 Dress in bright, warm colours like reds and oranges and always cover your ears, neck, and head with a scarf or hat, if you are outside in the cold.
·               Plan on retiring around 10 p.m. and, before bed, apply some sesame oil your scalp and to the soles of your feet to facilitate restful sleep.

 Break the ice move!

Winter Exercise

Exercise is one of the best ways to support optimal physical and mental health through the winter months. If vata is predominant in the atmosphere—with dry, cold weather, and increased isolation—you will want to favuor a slow, gentle, and strengthening exercise routine. 
If on the other hand, kapha is the more influential force at any given time—with heavy, cloudy weather, and rain or snow—you will want to push yourself physically, increasing both the duration and intensity of your work-out. It’s important to listen to your body this winter.
If you’re feeling overextended and stretched, favuor vata-pacifying types of exercise like walking, tai chi, or gentle yoga. If you’re feeling sluggish and heavy, give kapha a bit of a push with a more vigorous workout—perhaps a bike ride, a jog, or a challenging hike, snowshoe, or ski. 

Winter Yoga
An expansive and invigorating yoga practice in winter can really support your well-being. Suggested yoga practice: start with sun or moon salutes or the golden seed to warm up, include the warrior pose and finish with the sequence below. If you are short of time just do the practice below. Enjoy!