Yoga at FOYD (Friends of the Young Disabled), Gordon Moore Centre

The entrance to the Gordon Moore Centre is at the rear of the building, through the Cwmfelin medical centre carpark.

Please be aware that the Centre is used by groups of vulnerable children and adults and the door may be locked. So please text or email me to book your place and ensure you can get in.  From May 2016 there will be two classes in the Chapel:  Monday evenings from 5.15-6.30 and Tuesdays from 6-7.15 p.m.  I am happy to run chair yoga sessions in the Chapel on an ad-hoc basis. Classes are 75 minutes long and cost £5.


At FOYD we now have a wonderful music therapy room and sensory room and I have the possibility to use these for on-demand classes for one-to-one therapeutic gentle yoga, yoga for chronic pain and for sessions of yoga nidra (a unique form of deep relaxation). Again, I’m happy to do this on an ad hoc basis.

I’m on the Board of Trustees of FOYD, and I donate a proportion of my takings to the charity.

Om shanti xxx


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New times and venue for Beacons Yoga

From May 2016 I am moving all my yoga classes to Friends of the Young Disabled (FOYD), Gordon Moore Centre, 300 Carmarthen Road, Cwmbwrla, Swansea SA5 8NJ.  They will be on Monday evenings from 5.15-6.30 and Tuesday evenings 6-7.15. Others possible, subject to demand.


No Tuesday class at Swansea Vale Resource Centre.

No daytime classes at The Sanctuary in Mansel Street.

The Chapel at FOYD is quite small, so please text me on 07730 487472 to book a place.  The Monday evening class is already running there.


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Therapeutic Gentle Yoga

I am studying therapeutic gentle yoga with Rev. Padma Devi at the Special Yoga Foundation in London.  The course is spread over 100 hours at weekends throughout the year. To date it has been a revelation….

The first weekend I arrived with my notebook and pen to hear Padma say, ‘If you’re expecting to get a list of ailments with a corresponding list of yoga postures – think again’. I realised that’s exactly what I was expecting, but that’s not how Padma works.


The course notes she supplies cover only a fraction of what we discuss together in class. Thanks to Padma I have been introduced to the work of Bruce Lipton and Rob Williams, the fantastic programme for overcoming heart disease by Dr Dean Ornish,Reversing Heart Disease

and the truly horrendous statistics that you discover if you Google bisphenol A.  I come away with a reading list that will require at least 2 more lifetimes.  I have a book pile entitled ‘READ ME NOW!’ that includes work by John Stirk, Candace Pert, Nischala Joy Devi, and Fiona Agombar. At the top of the pile is a little book on self healing using tuning fork sound therapy entitled, ‘How to Fork Yourself’ (by Debbi Walker).

Padma has taught me that less is always more in yoga, especially when teaching people with chronic pain.  I have learned how big an impact toxic and emotional overload have on our health. For example, it’s enormously hard to help yourself if you suffer from fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome.  If you just fight back from a place of anger and fear, you are feeding the pain.  There has to be a moment of acceptance and surrender before any healing can take place and even then it requires enormous commitment and strength of will to make a change.  I have deep admiration for people who, faced with all this, still manage to get on with their lives. Acceptance and surrender are things we know about in yoga.  Other things we can offer are being inside our bodies rather than outside (and learning to listen to them), breathing well and practicing yoga nidra.  I am beginning to think that Yoga Nidra (and Tamla Motown, but then I’m old) could save the world.

When we looked at problems of heart disease and blood pressure, we were privileged to have two volunteers so Padma could show us how she works. ‘Can you see where the breath is?’, she asked us when working with a man who’d had a triple heart by-pass.  And we could – way up in the top of the chest.  We also noticed his reluctance to perform any movements that involved opening at the heart centre.  Unsurprisingly he was very protective of that space and Padma scaled down the movements to a point at which he felt comfortable.

Our other volunteer was in charge of a station on a major transport network, coping with an average of two suicides a week. Needless to say, they suffered from high blood pressure! Just a brief introduction to abdominal breathing proved to be mind-blowing and was followed by a request for someone to organise a yoga class for people working at the station..

It’s an exciting time to practice yoga.  The scientists are just beginning to catch up with us, and we are perfectly placed to really help people in this difficult and isolating age we live in.

Om shanti. xxx




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Special Yoga for Special People

This is an article I wrote for the British Wheel of Yoga Wales Region newsletter.

syf-highres-3cms  I’m a bit in love with the Special Yoga Foundation and its people.  For a while I thought I might keep them as my little secret because they are precious to me….  But then, Gollum never did yoga, did he – otherwise he might have been saved?

In September I went to London for a three day intensive workshop, entitled “Yoga for Adults with Special Needs” at the Special Yoga studio in Kilburn Lane.  Thirty years ago I had a boyfriend who bought a house near Queens Park (just down the road).  If he hung on to it, good luck to him, they now sell for £3,000,000!

Special Yoga 4.

The workshop was open to people like me, i.e. yoga teachers with no expertise in teaching special needs students, people who already worked with the special needs population but with little or no knowledge of how yoga might fit in, and finally people who already did both but wanted a deeper understanding.

The course leader was Richard Kravetz.  Like me, Richard is a member of the British Wheel of Yoga– he used to be a County Rep.  In 1988 his second son, Matthew, was born with global development delay.  Looking after Matthew, and meeting other parents of special children like Matthew, fired Richard’s passion for bringing the benefits of yoga to this very diverse population.  You might have read his article in the current issue of Spectrum on the BWY initiative on dementia – Richard is interested in all aspects of special yoga – from children to the elderly, and I warn you now that he is seriously inspiring.

The curriculum for the workshop looked at working with both ambulatory and non-ambulatory groups, and for people in high and low arousal.  The course looked at providing yoga for people with autism, add and adhd, Downs syndrome, cerebral palsy, depression, sensory impairment and dementia.

We were privileged to watch a live class, and view two of Richard’s classes on video.  We became his students for one session of chair yoga and we also had a session of touch and simple massage (Tui Na) techniques to support the yoga, taught by another Special Yoga tutor, Christine Godwin.

Special Yoga 5

Richard explains that adults with learning difficulties are trapped in their bodies, have shallow breathing habits and disorganised mental patterns. He says, ‘The effect of medication, accidents and past trauma often results in a heightened state of stress and reactivity, where the individual is trapped in a state resistant to change, and they exist in survival mode to cope with their fear …. The person can become anxious about minor matters and is unable to listen or respond to stimulus’.

So how does yoga help? There are eleven strategic areas:-

  • Improved motor planning and control
  • Improved self-awareness – body and mind
  • Develop ability to self-regulate across environment and demands
  • Develop a sense of balance and perspective
  • Develop ability to relax and release tension, fear and frustration
  • Reduce stress reaction and improve resilience
  • Improve immune function
  • Improve quality and quantity of sleep
  • Enhance respiratory ability and capacity
  • Enhance a sense of wellbeing, calm and peace
  • Enhance a sense of emotional balance

Richard stresses the importance of chanting when teaching a special group. It’s good for regulating the breath and improving lung function, but it also promotes connection and integration.  We sang the ‘Om Song’, together with hand movements and combined with group members’ names.  Chanting someone’s name improves concentration and self-esteem.  Not all chants are appropriate, but Hari Om, Om, Om Shanti and Namaste can all be freely used.

Positive affirmations are another good way of removing negative energy and promoting self-esteem. I AM HEALTHY!  I AM STRONG! I AM FULL OF ENERGY! I AM HAPPY! I AM SAFE.  Building flowing sequences can tap into group dynamics, especially when used with counting out loud and sounding the breath.  A sense of fun is obligatory.

A yoga teacher teaching a special group needs the gravitas to hold the space. Richard emphasised again and again the importance of our own personal practice. ‘The importance of self-practice is crucial for the practitioner.  A regular practice of Yoga, Pranayama and Meditation is advocated as it helps the teacher to be physically and emotionally stable and in an optimal state to teach.  From a solid and grounded base the teacher is in a position to help others effectively with the intention of supporting the healing of their student using composure, respect, love and compassion.’

Here we all are with our course certificates:

Special yoga people

I have borrowed heavily from the Course Workbook – as you can see. Yes, I will share them with you:-  Special Yoga is at Moberly Studio, 101 Kilburn Lane
London W10 4AH

Phone: 0208 968 1900

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Filed under ADD, ADHD, autism, British Wheel of Yoga, Cerebral Palsy, Dementia, Depression, Downs Syndrome, learning difficulties, Sensory Impairment, special needs, special yoga, special yoga foundation

New Beginners’ Class

I’m starting a new Beginners’ Class from 9th September.  Here’s the poster.


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An introduction to chanting

I don’t know much about chanting – but I enjoy doing it.  In September, when my class starts up again, I thought I would invite my students to learn something about chanting with me.  I know many people are self conscious about doing this in a class, so I propose that we all do it at home and one day, if we are feeling big and brave, we can try it together.  I’ve written a hand-out for my class.  Here it is:-

MANTRAS – Words of Power!

I have some mantras for you to try at home.  We’ll go over the pronunciation together, and you can practise in private.  Eventually, if you feel brave, we can chant it in class.

The first mantra is for the removal of obstacles in your life and it’s


The thing about mantras is not to get hung up about what they mean.  (This one is an invocation to Lord Ganesh – also called Ganapata. He’s an elephant god.  If you want to remove obstacles, send in an elephant). A mantra is ‘a mystical energy encased in a sound structure.  Its vibrations directly affect the chakras, or energy centers of the body.  It steadies the mind and leads to the stillness of meditation.’[1]

It’s the sound of the language (Sanskrit is exceptionally sonorous) and the effect of the sound on your mind and body.  Sound makes your cells do the boogie-woogie, you learn to control your breathing, and getting your teeth round a Sanskrit mantra 108 times concentrates the mind.

Ah yes … I forgot to mention the 108 times.  108 is a very significant number: I was taught that 1 = Supreme Energy (or God, if you are religious); 0 = completeness and 8 = the sign for infinity.  However, I’ve attached something by Swami J (I recommend Swami J) – so you can see there are all sorts of reasons for 108.  (I should say, it is permissible to build up to 108 in chunks.  27 rising to 54 is usually do-able when you are beginning).

Lastly, I’m going to give you a link to a YouTube video – nothing happens on it, but it is the wonderful Deva Premal performing this chant 108 times. I sing along with Deva every morning.

There is also the late, but wonderful, Thomas Ashley Farrand (you may have to buy him from Amazon or Sounds True, as I can’t find him on YouTube at the moment).

If it turns out you enjoy chanting, you can invest in a string of Mala beads. There are 108 beads on a string, plus one bead called Mount Meru.  You count your chants with the beads, and when you reach Mount Meru, you turn the beads round and go the other way.

Here’s the link to Swami J explaining the reasons for 108 Mala beads.

Chant and be happy. xxx

[1] Meditation and Mantras, by  Swami Vishnu-Devananda

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Swansea Vale Resource Centre Open Day – 14th August 2015, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.

I’ll be here on 14th August.  Come and try yoga if you’ve never done it before.  Come and give a demonstration if you’re an experienced Yogi!  I’m looking forward to meeting you.

Open Day poster

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