Yoga Blog

Yoga and Greco/Roman contrapposto

One of my students, Helen Edwards is currently studying for an MA in Teaching and Art at Brookes University. Part of the course is to develop her own practice as an artist to become a better or more informed teacher.

Her practice is focused on developing a discipline in drawing, in particular understanding the origins and use of contrapposto*  in Greco/Roman figures.
She wishes to further the practice by looking into Yoga poses and the twists and turns that the human form takes in yoga poses.
She’s using photographs of our practitioners to develop her work.

Greco/Roman figures

The Borghese Warrior: Musée du Louvre, Paris
The Borghese Warrior: Musée du Louvre, Paris

This statue is known as the Borghese Warrior, it is probably a version of an original of the 3rd century BC and is signed by the copyist Agasias in lettering of about 100 BC, it was found at Antium and the original is now in Paris, Musée du Louvre. (notes by Helen)


Belvedere Torso: Pio Clementine Museum, Vatican City.  Greek

The original is a marble sculpture of a male nude torso signed by the Athenian sculptor Apollonius and was long thought to be a1st century B.C.E. original. It is now believed that Apollonius coped a 2nd-century original.  The torso had much influence on the late Renaissance, early baroque sculptors and was much studied by the likes of Michaelangelo.  (notes by Helen)





Yoga poses + drawings by Helen

Yoga Blog

The Importance of Relaxation

The other day, a lady told me she couldn’t take on Yoga as relaxation makes her even more anxious. We didn’t have time to discuss it further. I wanted to reassure her by telling her asanas (postures) generally involve hard work and one is more than happy to release (collapse …) for a few moments at the end of the session.

There is one book I often refer to when I’m looking into the effects of Yoga on body and mind.
This book is written by H. David Coulter: Anatomy of Hatha Yoga: A Manual for Students, Teachers and Practitioners

“Quieting the mind is just as important to relaxation as quieting the body.”
Quote 2
“Relaxation and meditation ususally work better after a session of hatha yoga postures.”
Quote 3
Hatha Yoga postures pull the mind inward , and physical exercises (aerobic or heavy musculoskeletal workouts) tend to scatter it.”

Coulter’s Tips

For self- guided savasana shavasana_image_550_w ( most famous pose for relaxation), Coulter recommends focussing on:

Rise and the fall of the abdomen: concentrate on the movements of the abdomen, make breath as even as possible and watch its pace gradually diminish.

Sixty-one points exercise: at the beginning of each exhalation, lock your attention onto a specific point on the body, hold it there throughout exhalation and the ensuing inhalation and then move on to the next point.

These 61 points are

Between the eyebrows, pit of the throat, right soulder – elbow-wrist and  each finger of the right hand; back to right wrist- elbow-shoulder, pit of the throat. Move on to left shoulder- elbow-wrist and each finger of the left hand. Back to left wrist-elbow- shoulder and pit of the throat.

Move down to heart center (between the nipples), navel center, pelvic center, right hip-knee-ankle and each toe of the right foot; back to right ankle-knee- hip, pelvic center. Move on to left hip-knee-ankle and each toe of the left foot. Back to left ankle-knee-hip, pelvic center, navel center, heart center, pit of the throat and point between the eyebrows..

Always prepare for relaxation

Stretch the body out before settling down. Thrust the hips down from the shoulders, the hands down from the shoulder , the heels dowwn from the hips and lift the head away from the body stretching the neck (you can use a pillow or a folded blanket to support the head and the neck.) AND LET GO!

Come back slowly

When you are ready to come out, bring the arms overhead and stretch from the tips of the fingers to the tips of the toes. Or you can first wriggle the fingers and toes, roll over to one side and sit up slowly.

Yoga and menstruations Yoga Blog

Yoga and Menstruations

Why shouldn’t we do inversions (viparita sthitti) during the period?


During menstruation if one does inversions the blood flow will be arrested. Those who tried to do out of enthusiasm or callousness will have noticed that the flow stops abruptly. This is certainly not good for health since it may lead to fibroids, cysts, endometriosis and cancer, damaging the system.

According to ayurveda, whatever has to be thrown out should be thrown out and not retained or held in. You cannot hold urine, faeces, phlegm, mucus etc, inside as they are substances that have to be thrown out. These are called as mala – the waste, which need to be excreted.


If they are retained within they invite all diseases. During menstruation one has to lessen physical exertion including walking, dancing or heavy house-hold work. The body demands rest and relaxation and one needs to provide that.

If this background, as far as the effects of inversions are concerned are known, one need not doubt about their omission during the periods. Still, due to obstinacy and rigidity, if one forces oneself to do one may have to pay heavily later if not immediately. The flow has to stop completely before one can resume the practice of inversion. The question is not of three days or four days. As soon as the flow stops, begin with the practise of inversions. Do not go suddenly for standing poses, back-bendings, balancings etc,. Remember that you have just delivered the unborn baby, since the menstruation is called as the funeral of the unborn baby.
Geeta S. Iyengar (Pune Feb 2003)

Astanga Inspiring Body Works Yoga Blog

Kids and Backbends with Liz Lark

I knew Liz Lark from a book. One of my students once brought me Yoga for Kids in Dutch and I later bought it in English to read it. The book describes Yoga postures you can try with children.

It’s well illustrated and I used it a few times with my own children. It never really worked, not because of the book, but because some kids choose a different path from their parents to build their identity.

On Sunday (October 11th), I tried one of Liz Lark’s adult workshops in Oxford. I made the mistake of choosing backbends one morning session on backbends, instead of the two-days workshop. It’s always a bad idea to buy a quarter or half a workshop.

I missed shavasana_image_550_w the Yoganidra session in the afternoon, and felt much too energised for the rest of the day.

Students Comments

Become Addicted

Addiction to Yoga
Addiction to Yoga

When I started taking Laurence’s yoga classes two years ago, I thought it was mainly breathing and stretching. Believe me, I was wrong. It is hard work, and I love it. The classes were always different, a mixture of dynamic movements and static postures finishing by a timely relaxation at the end. Laurence is very precise and careful with her students. She will find postures that you feel comfortable with. You will quickly become addicted to it!

Isabelle C., Strasbourg, 2009