Category Archives: India

International Day of Yoga June 21st

international-yoga-day-logo-210x236Celebrate the 2nd International Day of Yoga and the Summer Solstice all on the same day!

June 21st is of course the summer solstice, the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. In India, the first full moon after the Summer Solstice is known as Guru Purnima where the Guru or teacher is honored. According to yoga legend, the first transmission of yoga by Shiva (the first Guru) is said to have begun on this day.

The United Nations General Assembly declared June 21st as the International Day of Yoga. The Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said at the United Nations: “Yoga is an invaluable gift of India’s ancient tradition. It embodies unity of mind and body; thought and action; restraint and fulfillment; harmony between man and nature; a holistic approach to health and well-being. It is not about exercise but to discover the sense of oneness with yourself, the world and the nature.”

International Day of Yoga is celebrated all over the world.

Swati Chanchani’s visit next weekend…

Swati Chanchani is on her way!

Swati_2014Swati tells us she has now left Delhi and is on her way to Bristol!

We thought you might like to know in advance that Swati has let us know a few more details about the upcoming weekend. In particular, she has prepared a talk for us on the history of yoga (entitled Strange & Wondrous) which we think will be excellent.


The timings for both days will be as follows:

10am–12:15pm  asana & pranayama

Two hours break

2:15pm–2:45pm  presentation
STRANGE and WONDROUS:  An Illustrated of History of Yoga from Alexander to Iyengar.

2:45–5pm  asana & pranayama

Don’t miss this weekend…

There are still places available for this event, and we’d love to have a few more of you there. Swati is a brilliant teacher, and whether you are a teacher, an experienced student or more general level practitioner*, Swati will ensure a marvellous weekend for all that attend.

* Two years recommended


Whole weekend £140, single days £80.
It will be most beneficial to attend both days with Swati if you can.

Note: we are happy for you to use your Yogacard stamps towards this workshop if you wish.

Concession offer

A few of you have told us you’d love to come to the weekend with Swati but feel the cost is prohibitive. It’s true: this is more expensive than some of our weekends, and the reason is – apart from the fact that she is a world-renowned teacher! – that we are flying Swati to Bristol from India especially for this weekend. We think she is worth it (and are sure you will agree).

However, if you can’t afford to come otherwise, we are offering a few places at a concessionary rate of 20% off. This makes the weekend cost £112 and a single day would be £64. Email Jon or call him on 0117 924 3330 to arrange your place at this lower cost.


Book here or call us on 0117 924 3330 to secure your place.

A word from Zoë

Zoë Reason, who has been teaching at Yogawest over the summer while she’s been in Bristol, is a long term student of Swati’s. We asked her to say a few things about Swati’s teaching:

” I first worked with Swati in 2003 – and I had just one class with her and I remember she taught trikonasana and I can still manifest the feeling of how she adjusted me in it. But it wasn’t till 2007 that I started working regularly with her.

She structures these seemingly incredibly simple classes – and, at the time, they feel straightforward and accessible.  Yes you work hard for her – but it never feels like you’re being overly challenged (until the following day).  And then you come to write your notes and you realise how many layers of teaching she’s introduced you to.  And then you practice a class she’s taught and you realise the layers are in your body and your psyche and at some very deep cellular level.  She teaches principles in asana work – unlike some teachers where there’s a new technique or trick to something – so you come away with an understanding that can be applied across all asanas – from the simple poses to the complicated ones. So she really inspires and feeds one’s personal practice.

She has extraordinarily strong group skills (all those years of teaching school children) and she works fast but profoundly.  I often come away from her classes so impressed with her cleverness – in the way she sequences or gets me to understand the links between one asana and another.  The thing that I have come to appreciate more and more about her is how she weaves really subtle philosophical teaching into the straightforwardness of her asana teaching.

One of the things that I first loved about her is how often she would start a class with a story.  And the stories contextualise the why of doing yoga. In the last year many of her stories have been about BKS Iyengar – she was very young when she first met him and she became a dedicated student very quickly.  And in her stories about him I can hear not just how very very sad she is that he’s not with us anymore, but more importantly how much joy there is in that she had such gifts from him over such an extended amount of time.  In her telling of the stories what I think she does it to connect you to your own story about why it is that you do yoga and what yoga really could be about.  She’s an emotional teacher – not in the sense that she behaves emotionally – but because she sees yoga as being an emotional endeavour.  So her teaching is full of heart. “

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International Day of Yoga June 21

international-yoga-day-logo-210x236June 21st is the summer solstice, the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. In India, the first full moon after the Summer Solstice is known as Guru Purnima where the Guru or teacher is honored. According to yoga legend, the first transmission of yoga by Shiva (the first Guru) is said to have begun on this day.

The United Nations has declared June 21st as International Day of Yoga, following a proposal by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi who said “Yoga embodies unity of mind and body; thought and action; It is not about exercise but to discover the sense of oneness with yourself, the world and with nature.

Yogawest is open as usual on Sunday (and as it’s also Fathers Day, we are expecting a bumper crowd of Dads coming to classes during the day!). Sam is teaching her 10am general class and her 11.45am intermediate class; Diana is teaching the Sunday evening general class at 6pm.

It’ll be worth making it to class on Sunday if you can: the knowledge that many thousands of yogis around the world will be practising at the same time will lend a special something to the energy of the classes.
IYNAUS1034_YopaDay_poster_F.inddIf you can’t make it, then you may be interested to see the sequence that Geeta Iyengar has suggested… you could choose elements (or all!) of this and practice at home instead. Sunday coincides with the Iyengar convention in Exeter this weekend, and many of our teachers and students will be there following this sequence led by Birjoo Mehta from Mumbai.

Download poster from IYNAUS (US Iyengar Association) showing poses in silhouette: IYNAUS-Intl-Yoga-Day-2015

Download list of  Geeta Iyengar’s suggested sequence


Making Yoga an Exercise in Democracy

JUNE 10, 2015

NEW DELHI — India has persuaded the world to dedicate a day to remember what the world does not wish to forget on other days anyway: that yoga is the gift of an ancient civilization that once lived in India — and in Pakistan, too, if you wish to annoy the Indians.

After Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whose known yogic skill is limited to one elementary pose, nudged the United Nations, most of the world united in marking June 21 as the first International Yoga Day.

Despite India’s claim over yoga, it is not a mainstream household practice here. It probably never was. And its modern resurgence in some niches, like schools and affluent urban quarters, is not a continuation of an ancient legacy, but a part of an escalating global movement. Yoga had to wait until India transformed itself into a more equal society to seep into places it had never been permitted to go.

For a long time, yoga was the preserve of the highest-caste men, and what belonged to them usually did not percolate down. But then, about seven decades ago, one of them chose to commit a heresy. He began to teach not only Indian men who were not Brahmins, but women as well, and, later, foreigners.

A strict teacher, B.K.S. Iyengar sometimes hit his adult students. Once, when a couple brought a dazed boy to him, and the boy said that he was dazed because he had achieved spiritual enlightenment, Mr. Iyengar gave him a tight slap and cured him. When foreign female disciples expressed an interest in him, he wrote in his book “Light on Life,” “My flashing eyebrows and fierce glare came to my rescue.” And, when the Vatican approached him to teach yoga to the pope in secrecy he agreed, but on the condition that if someone asked him whether the news were true, he would not lie. The Vatican withdrew the request.

Mr. Iyengar — who died last year at the age of 95, surprising many with his mortality — was largely responsible for liberating yoga from men like himself and creating the circumstances for it to infect the world and in the process win the adoration of Indians.

When he was learning yoga in the India of the time, he wrote, “I can assure you that spiritual democracy did not exist.” The great gurus were secretive and parsimonious with what they let out. Things got worse for him when he began to teach. In 1954, after returning from his first teaching trip outside India, he stopped by the house of a maternal uncle in Bangalore, but he was not allowed in. A Hindu was forbidden to cross the sea, so he had become impure. And, since he was teaching women, “It was generally assumed I was guilty of immorality.” So he got married.

Yoga is today the preserve of women, and there is an ever-failing campaign to lure men to the exercise. In January, in Goa, I went to meet Patrick Broome, the yoga coach of the German soccer team that won the 2014 World Cup. He told me that many players on the squad were embarrassed to be seen doing yoga, because they thought it was feminine.

“Some liked it, some didn’t care,” he said. “Some needed an excuse to come to the yoga studio. So they made it look like an accident that they had landed in the yoga class, as though they were searching for the gym and had got lost.”

Mr. Broome’s favorite Iyengar quote is: “How can you know God if you don’t know your own big toe?” A great yoga teacher is, inevitably, philosophical, and Mr. Iyengar probed the mind as much he did the body. He defined “action” as “movement with intelligence.” And he believed that ultimate liberation is built on “a thousand little freedoms.” “Freedom,” he wrote, “is gained incrementally and over time.” He often claimed that yoga had nothing to do with Hinduism.

It is also India’s claim as it begins to take charge of International Yoga Day. It is hard to accept or dispute the view and still make sense. What is true, though, is that most of Hinduism has nothing to do with religion, and yoga is a part of that which is not magic.

Follow Manu Joseph, author of the novel “The Illicit Happiness of Other People,” on Twitter at @manujosephsan.

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New T-shirts have arrived

yogawest_2015newshop_0537_newsletterRESJon and Mike spent many happy hours this week unpacking, labelling and displaying our fantastic new range of T-shirts made especially for us by Sudhir and his team in Pune, India. Each one is hand-painted with a stylish take on the familiar Yogawest logo, then hand-dyed in Batik fashion. We are thrilled with them and are delighted with the comments we’ve had so far.

Thanks to the ladies from the Thursday morning women’s class for modelling them for us.

yogawest_2015t-shirts0523Lizzie&Lou_LR yogawest_2015t-shirts0526garden_LR

yogawest_2015t-shirts0517_MaroonBack&Front_LR copy

New Year

Yogawest welcomes in 2015

The new year begins with the return to work and school and some challenging weather but also some great opportunities to keep those New Year’s resolutions.

We have some wonderful new classes up and coming and an exciting schedule of workshops and events planned for the new year.

Although Diana is in India this month, and having a lovely time studying with the Iyengar family, she’s sent us this photo to say she’s thinking of home!

What is Yoga on Radio4?

Yoga has Healing Powers

Thought for the Day

Rajiv Chanchani 2014 visit to Yogawest

Rajiv Chanchani Workshop

Rajiv is coming to Bristol to teach a weekend workshop at Yogawest on the last weekend of August 2014.

Hold the date and details will follow.

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