Monday, 18 June 2018

HAPPY SUMMER SOLSTICE


I can’t believe it’s the summer solstice week already! Now that summer is in full swing don’t you wish it could go on forever?  Well we can’t promise that, so it’s important to get out & celebrate the bright, the light, the warmth & the extra energy that this time of the year brings us while it’s here. 

Summer solstice


If, like us you like to spend as much time as possible outdoors, enjoying the sunshine, good company & wonderful scenery, we have plenty to look forward to in the late summer, autumn & winter months ahead.  Who wouldn’t want to prolong their love of summer & the way it makes us feel so good, long after the summer solstice has gone?

Let's enjoy the sun together!

To boost our sense of wellbeing, to enjoy the outdoors & our love of sharing yoga practices with others, we have plenty planned. Aside from my London yoga classes, we have a number of one day yoga retreats both in the countryside & the city, a yoga & walking weekend in the fabulous Brecon Beacons in Wales.












In our quest to follow the sun, we also have three week long overseas yoga retreats lined up. These are in Sicily, Southern Turkey & a return visit to our beloved beach resort in North Kerala in Southern India.

Chosen for their idyllic locations, the guarantee of sunshine, healing sea air, great food & a warm welcome, we hope that some of you will be able to join us on one of these laid back yoga breaks.

We welcome everyone, including beginners & non yoga participating partners.

Elisa Williams teaches yoga in West London and runs yoga retreats with her sailor husband Dominic in the UK & abroad.

Visit my website via this link:

 www.elisawilliamsyoga.com

To find me on Social Media visit the following links:

Facebook








Tuesday, 15 May 2018

WHAT'S MORE IMPORTANT THAN HAPPINESS?

How many people do you know that spend all the hours God sends striving to earn money, to build status, to feel a sense of accomplishment in their lives, bring up families, live in the perfect home? How many times have you yourself felt far too busy to exercise, practice self-care whether it be yoga, taking a walk, going for a swim. How many of you really spend enough time on your own personal health & mental wellbeing?  


I was guilty of exactly this. I was too busy, too stressed, too strapped for time. Working in a a demanding competitive environment in Central London,  then bringing up five kids, it was hardly a big surprise to find myself suffering constant pain from a chronically bad back & increasingly finding myself living under the dark cloud of depression.  I gradually began to read the writing that had been written on the wall for years. Despite earlier forays into various exercise regimes, pilates & yoga, I had never really appreciated that I needed these things not simply for physical reasons but for emotional ones. Not just for my sake but also for the other people in my life upon which my actions & mood were having an effect.



Slowly it began to dawn of me what my priorities were. I started to identify what was important to me & what wasn't. My own health, peace of mind & happiness, finding more time to simply be there for others, had not been high on this list for a very long time. Yes of course I had been bringing up my children, it was exhausting. But I realised that I couldn't ever truly be there for them & for others when I couldn't even be fully there for myself.

I realised & not before time that it was tremendously important for me to re-evaluate my priorities. I began to find the time to cultivate my mind & body, to practice self-care, in other words to simply turn up for myself & my mental & physical wellbeing. For so long I had been ignoring myself.

Yoga helps us to work on our minds, bodies & our souls. It helps us to realise our true nature, our true self & yoga helps us to eventually come to appreciate that we are all part of something that is so much greater then ourselves.  Something far more important than our own busy little worlds. Whether we believe in a higher power or not, yoga helps us to learn that we all have the potential for holding a divine light within us. Our own unique light is our personal gift to the world & Lord knows, this broken world could really do with some more love & light being shared around!

As a youngster at school we would sing a song that was always a favourite, maybe you know it - 'This Little Light of Mine'?  We would sing it in morning assembly at the top of our voices. 

"This little light of mine, I'm going to let it shine, 
This little light of mine, I'm going to let it shine,
This little light of mine, I'm going to let it shine,
let it shine, let it shine, let it shine all the time!" 

Now as a grown adult I have at long last come to learn how important it is for myself & for others to really truly try & let my little light shine! Come join me for meditation, yoga & mindfulness classes, on a yoga retreat at home or abroad or on a walking & yoga weekend in beautiful nature. I'd love to help you get your little light to shine brightly!


Wishing everyone Peace, Love & Light

Namaste 
Elisa


STOP STRIVING START LIVING

Why is it that so many of us are so obsessed with idea of achievement in our lives? From a young age we are encouraged to set ourselves goals & ambitions. Indeed when someone seems to lack personal ambition it is often viewed by society, family, friends as a massive failing on their part.

Then when I started to practice yoga, one of the first things the teacher said was that it was not about achieving goals & that yoga is completely non-competitive.Well that's all very well for him to say, I thought to myself as he executed a gravity defying arm balance, an impossible looking backbend before wrapping his feet behind his ears & reciting an incomprehensible mantra in a foreign tongue. 



Surely we wouldn't be human if we weren't constantly competing with ourselves? Always striving for self improvement. I can recall the buzz I felt when I performed my first unaided handstand away from the wall.  We just love to see ourselves make progress & many yogis, myself included at the time, measure our progress as we accomplish more challenging & spectacular looking asana. Indeed the practice of Ashtanga yoga, which I discovered later on my yoga journey, seemed to be pretty much all about moving on to the next series of impossible looking body contortions as far as I could see. The students not permitted by their teachers to move on to the next phase until they achieve perfection in the primary series.

It was this feeling of never being good enough, never achieving that perfection, that almost led me to abandon my teacher's training course before I'd even begun. It seemed that so many of the other students in my intake of trainee teachers seemed to effortlessly slip into all sorts of contorted knots & dare devil arm balances. 

However as I began to study yoga in more depth & with maturity, I began to understand that impressive though such poses are to look at, achieving them was not what the practice of yoga asana was all about. Some bodies will never perform such poses & nor should they ever be expected or forced to.

I came to understand that the practice of yoga asana is simply about moving with our breath, in a quiet quest to become more united & deeply connected to ourselves, each other & the world. The most advanced yogis are not necessarily the gymnasts, athletes, acrobats or the whippet thin asana junkies posing for their Instagram feeds. The most advanced yogis are those who sit quietly in meditation & who can delve deeply into yin. 

The most advanced yogis know that the practice of yoga is all about self-love & self-care. Taking time out of the day not to pursue far off goals & achievements, but to revel in the glory that is already waiting to be discovered deep within each & every one of us. This prize is not just for the bendy, the skinny, the strong & the young but it is there to be enjoyed by the creaky, the old, the tubby & the weak!

So celebrate what your body can do. Liberate yourself from the idea that we always have to be getting somewhere in our lives & spend time enjoying doing less rather than striving to achieve more. Nowadays my practice is still about keeping my body healthy, strong & supple, ironing out the kinks & creases. However it is much more than focusing on what I can attain with my physical body, for me, my yoga practice is the opportunity to tune in to myself. To turn up for myself & acknowledge how I'm feeling. It's the chance to connect to my breath, to recharge my energy levels & reboot my emotional batteries. I know that after my yoga practice, no matter how much time I've been able to spare, I will always feel better, emotionally, physically, mentally & spiritually. 

Elisa Williams runs yoga classes in Notting Hill, teaches privately in West London & with her sailor husband Dominic, runs yoga retreats & activity breaks overseas & in the UK.

Visit www.elisawilliamsyoga.com








Tuesday, 24 April 2018

YOGA FOR YOUR FEET & ANKLES

Our feet are so often overlooked & ignored until something goes wrong. However our feet really do deserve far more attention & I'm not referring to getting a pedicure!

Where would we be without our feet?  They carry us around throughout our day, they provide us with support as we go about our daily tasks & they are are our connection to the earth.  It's when we begin to walk as toddlers & that we begin to have a sense of ourselves as individuals. We begin to develop our own independence. In fact its the way we contact the earth through our feet that says a great deal about how we live our lives & relate to others.
I invite you to take a look at your feet.  Do your toes all cluster together? If so try separating your  toes & give them some independence. Start to stretch the skin between your toes by pushing your fingers in between them.  This also stimulates the sensory connections around the toes & it helps you to wake up your feet & to sensitise them.
Now I invite you to notice how much movement you have around your heel.  Try pulling your heel back & notice whether the heel bone itself will move in relation to the other bones at the centre of you foot.  Then press gently into the sole of your foot, massage it & rub along the length of your foot.  This will also help you to wake up your feet.  Try to pull your toes backwards, in the direction of your ankles.  If you have bunions pay particular attention to your big toe. Try to stretch it away from your other toes, turn it so that the nail of your big toe faces upwards rather than twisting towards the others.
Now notice how your feet feel.  Do they feel any more alive? Gently begin to stretch them by coming down on to all fours.  Tuck the toes of one foot under & gradually drag that foot backwards away from you, stretching out the toes, the sole of the foot & eventually create more length in the ankle & your Achilles tendon.
When you’ve done that, tuck your toes under & stretch the front of the ankle & the top of your foot. The front of the ankle often becomes quite tight & its movement as we age becomes more restricted. 

Stiff ankles are often the cause of falls

This area is related to our reflex reactions & when tight & stiff , it leads to a lack of balance & increases the potential for falls.  Its very important to keep our ankles soft & supple. Daily routines - even  stretching them out while in bed will help to maintain the flexibility of our very important shock absorber joints!
Now find a step, or use a foam block or a large heavy book & lean them against a wall.  Place your toes on the the edge & begin to gradually, sink the ball of your foot down on to the floor until your toes are bent up, & the rest of the foot is on the floor.  Put all your weight in to this leg.  If possible, now begin to gently bend your knee.  Try to create a strong stretch through your ankle, calf, Achilles & sole of your foot.  Softly bend & straighten a few times, being careful not to collapse the inner arch of your foot to the floor.
When you’ve done both sides, take a short walk around the room, just noticing any differences in your feet.  They may feel more awake, more sensitive, more grounded.

                             

For information about Elisa Williams West London yoga classes &  upcoming yoga retreats in Wales, India, Sicily & Turkey visit : www.elisawilliamsyoga.com


THE BENEFITS OF YOGA



Yoga is helping me to slow things down

The patience that yoga teaches has helped me to appreciate life, to be more present, to take things more slowly, to live one moment at a time. Yoga is a reminder to me that I’m not just a body,  nobody is just a body. We all have bodies but we are so much more than just that.

For an hour or so it quietens my over active brain


A massive benefit. Yoga helps me to notice my mind & to all the constant chitter chatter. Wherever my mind goes, I catch it. It wriggles away again & again & I catch it. It's like I'm trying to train a wayward puppy,  a constant game going on inside my skull.

I practice deep breathing.

My breath during my yoga practice helps to settle my mind. Deep breathing relieves my levels of stress & allows me to see my problems in perspective instead of being overwhelmed by them all the time.


It teaches me to be less competitive


With yoga, I'm learning to stop competing all the time & to keep my focus on my mat & my practice. I don't have to be the strongest, the bendiest, the best. I just have to show up for myself


It helps my body to feel better


Yoga’s taught me the value of feeling great physically not just trying to look good.  Its taught me the importance of what goes on inside my body & not to worry about the superficial, cosmetic stuff.

You too can reap the benefits of yoga join me at a yoga class in West London or on one of our upcoming retreats in India, Turkey, Sicily or Wales

Yoga classes and retreats with Elisa WIllams



WHY WE DO YOGA

How many people do you know that spend all the hours God sends each week striving to earn money, to build status, to feel a sense of accomplishment in their lives, bring up families, live in the perfect home? How many times have you yourself felt far too busy to exercise, practice yoga, spend time on your own personal health & mental wellbeing?  
I was guilty of exactly this. I was too busy, too stressed, too strapped for time. Working in a a demanding competitive environment in Central London,  then bringing up five kids, it was hardly a big surprise to find myself suffering constant pain from a chronically bad back & increasingly finding myself living under the dark cloud of depression.  I gradually began to read the writing that had been written on the wall for years. Despite earlier forays into various exercise regimes, pilates & yoga, I had never really appreciated that I needed these things not simply for physical reasons but for emotional ones. Not just for my sake but also for the other people in my life upon which my actions & mood were having an effect.

What is more important then happiness, health & peace of mind?

Slowly it began to dawn of me what my priorities were. I started to identify what was important to me & what wasn't. My own health, peace of mind & happiness, finding more time to simply be there for others, had not been high on this list for a very long time. Yes of course I had been bringing up my children, it was exhausting. But I realised that I couldn't ever truly be there for them & for others when I couldn't even be fully there for myself.


I realised & not before time that it was tremendously important for me to re-evaluate my priorities. I began to find the time to cultivate my mind & body, to practice self-care, in other words to simply turn up for myself & my mental & physical wellbeing. For so long I had been ignoring myself.

Yoga helps us to work on our minds, bodies & our souls. It helps us to realise our true nature, our true self & yoga helps us to eventually come to appreciate that we are all part of something that is so much greater then ourselves.  Something far more important than our own busy little worlds. Whether we believe in a higher power or not, yoga helps us to learn that we all have the potential for holding a divine light within us. Our own unique light is our personal gift to the world & Lord knows, this broken world could really do with some more love & light being shared around!

As a youngster at school we would sing a song that was always a favourite, maybe you know it - 'This Little Light of Mine'?  We would sing it in morning assembly at the top of our voices. 

"This little light of mine, I'm going to let it shine, 
This little light of mine, I'm going to let it shine,
This little light of mine, I'm going to let it shine,
let it shine, let it shine, let it shine all the time!" 

Now as a grown adult I have at long last come to learn how important it is for myself & for others to really truly try & let my little light shine! Come join me for meditation, yoga & mindfulness classes, on a yoga retreat at home or abroad or on a walking & yoga weekend in beautiful nature. I'd love to help you get your little light to shine brightly!


Wishing everyone Peace, Love & Light

Namaste 
Elisa




Tuesday, 28 November 2017

NORTH KERALA THE HIDDEN JEWEL IN INDIA'S CROWN

BAREFOOT BEACHSIDE YOGA RETREAT

Yoga Retreat in Kerala with Elisa Williams

Escape the winter blues & join us in a little slice of paradise that keeps calling us back year after year!

Now booking for 2019 our dreamy winter sun yoga retreat on the deserted shores of the blood warm Arabian Sea

 8 starry Nights 9 sunshiny Days 

Saturday 16th February - Sunday 24th February 2019
Prices from £1250 per person in shared room & £1450 single occupancy room.


Stay in beautiful, air conditioned Keralan style bungalows overlooking the deserted beach, swimming pool & tropical gardens 



Short film of our 2017 yoga retreat in North Kerala - see you on the beach!

WARMING WINTER EVENING DAL

We really love our annual winter yoga holidays in Southern India. With its wonderful climate, warm sunshine, sea breezes, deserted sandy beaches & blood warm Arabian Sea - its very hard not to! Nor do we ever  tire of this region's wonderfully flavoursome, nourishing food. Every year we return to the UK armed with lots of delicious new recipe ideas. However nothing is more comforting in the cold winter months than a good old fashioned no nonsense dal.

For details of our 2018 YOGA RETREAT on the deserted shores of NORTH KERALA, India's hidden gem & more Yogamumma Recipes visit www.elisawilliamsyoga.com




Ingredients


3 tbs high heat oil (eg coconut, olive oil (not extra virgin)
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp  black mustard seeds
1 chopped onion 
2-inches fresh ginger, peeled & minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp ground coriander 
1/4tsp ground cayenne
1 tsp sea salt
1 tin chopped tomatoes, (drained)
125g (1 US cup) red split lentils, soaked in water
875ml (3.5 cups) water
280g spinach leaves, roughly chopped
2 jalapeƱos/red chillies chopped 

Fresh chopped coriander, naan bread or brown or whit basmati rice to serve

Method

In a large pot, warm the oil over medium-high heat. Stand back as the oil may splatter, add the cumin & mustard seeds & cook until they start to crackle & change color. ( 10-15 seconds)
Add chopped onion, deseeded chopped red peppers/jalapenos, fresh ginger, garlic plus the turmeric, coriander, cayenne & sea salt. Stir 
Pour in drained chopped tomatoes & continue to cook over medium-high heat for about 10 minutes & they break down.
Stir in pre-soaked red lentil with 875ml water & bring to the boil. Reduce heat to a low boil & cook until lentils are soft enough to mash, (approx 30 minutes but maybe longer) Add more hot water as needed until they are thoroughly cooked. Use a spoon or a whisk to mash lentils
Add the spinach & cook until it starts to wilt, (5 minutes approx). 
Serve warm with whole grain naan, white or brown basmati rice & fresh chopped coriander

Monday, 6 November 2017

IMMUNE BOOSTING TIPS FOR WINTER



Now that Autumn has well & truly arrived it's time for us to take some cues from nature.
As nature prepares for the harsher climate & the dormant months ahead we too need
to get more rest. In winter it's important to get more sleep as this is the best way to boost
our immune system.

However some of us really struggle to get a good night's sleep. One way to compensate for
this is by practicing Yoga Nidra. This technique of Yogic Sleep is the state in between sleep
& consciousness. Just a 20 minute guided Yoga Nidra practice each afternoon, can
really help to boost energy levels & the immune system.

Your daily yoga and healing practices do just that. They heal your body as they relax your
nervous system. If you’re constantly in that ‘fight or flight’ state of adrenaline caused by so
much of modern life, you really will burn out too soon. Make sure you roll out your mat and
move, even if it’s just for 10 minutes a day. 

     
Make sure you keep up your '5 A Day'. It's more important than ever to include plenty of
fresh vegetables & fruit in our diet. Warming veggie packed stews, soups &curries
are perfect to boost the immune system. Baked apples, stewed fruits, smoothies &
rehydrated dried fruit & nut compotes are perfect on top of a warming porridge for
breakfast

Cut down on a heavy social schedule & enjoy more cosy evenings at home, reading,
doing something creative, cooking for friends. 
everything in moderation. 

For those that can, winter is the best time of year to go on a much needed yoga retreat. It will help to get through the winter to have somewhere warm & sunny to look forward to. I’m running a 7 night yoga retreat by the beach in North Kerala in late February which is one the most beautiful & unspoilt parts of Southern India. However if you can't afford the time or money for a full blown retreat I also have a number of one day yoga retreats scheduled for the winter months to help recharge the batteries.

Even though it's cold outside it's really important to dress up warmly & get outdoors. We run a walking group with a bunch of West London friends & take turns to plan a walk either in the countryside or even in some of the many fascinating or open spaces in London. Take a look at Transport for London's 'Capital Ring Walk' https://tfl.gov.uk/modes/walking/capital-ring  which sets out a series of walk right around the capital with the start and end points all easily accessible by the tube or London overground.

The winter months are a great time to spend happy times with friends &; family. A bit of laughter & banter help us all to lighten up, even on those darkest gloomiest days.

Keep warm, be happy, stay healthy. Find time to check out our upcoming yoga retreats; London classes by visiting www.elisawilliamsyoga.com



Monday, 31 July 2017

YOGA ASANA BY THE POOL

Summer holidays are the perfect opportunity to spend time outdoors, improving our health; wellbeing  and spend time becoming that little bit more self aware. Without the hustle and bustle of normal life we have more time to begin getting into the habit of a daily yoga practice. Even if it's only for 20 minutes why not roll out a mat or towel and nurture yourself!



For details of our upcoming yoga holidays, retreats & London yoga classes visit www.elisawilliamsyoga.com