Yoga practice – "Towards Inversion"

I am feeling generous tonight, and shall give away a lovely yoga practice that I designed last year and have taught a number of times to my dear students.
Notice that “B” or “R” means breath or respiración.
When it says “6x”, it means do the vinyasa six times.
When it says “6B”, it means hold the pose for six breaths.
Respect any contraindications and check with your primary care provider should you have any doubts about the suitably of this practice for you, at this given time.

viniyoga hatha yoga sequence
Viniyoga practice “towards inversion”

Up in the early morning

Up in the early morning on Saturday, I chanced to spy the alignment of the heavenly bodies. Sun, moon and star traced a straight line in the dawn sky, casting their reflections on the calm surface of the sea.  As the heavens sang their coloured glory and the birds their joyful chorus, I was given a reminder of my own insignificance.  It felt great.
When I see the planets align, feel the Earth turn upon its axis, watch the days break and then later fade away, I realise that I matter little, if at all.  I am a speck upon a speck, hurtling through space and time infinite.  
In childhood, we believe the world revolves around us. Much of our long-lasting angst arises in childhood when we somehow think that we are responsible for everything that happens around us.  Parents divorce, must be because I didn’t put my socks on that morning.  Vacuum cleaner broken, must be because I left that dirty little candy paper on the floor.   Etc etc ad nauseum.
Growth, maturity, is reached, I believe, when we lose our sense of self-importance.  When we realise that we won’t save the world, that our scope is limited, we see that our only duty is to be as good as we possibly can be within the tiny scope of our lives.  This is actually much easier, isn’t it? I mean, it’s not that difficult to decide to walk in the door of your house with a smile on your face despite your soul-destroying day at work, now is it?
We are all specks upon a speck, hurtling through space.  We don’t know what we don’t know.  Life is a huge mystery and probably none of it matters.
Yoga taught me all this.  Yoga taught me to be still, quiet, and find that quiet place within myself.  I often close my classes with a discourse that goes along the lines of “that stillness that you feel inside, right now, was always there.  It’s just that you didn’t know how to reach it.  Yoga gives us the tools to reach that still point, that quiet place, and to do so repeatedly and reliably.  That is what yoga is, a series of ancient and well-tested tools that help us find our true selves, our quiet, calm, detached peaceful centre.”
We are specks upon and speck, hurtling through space.  We probably matter not at all.  And that’s ok.
Happy Monday, dear souls.  Be joyful.

The sun will come out, tomorrow….Yoga before the sea and the big blue sky

Yesterday morning dawned rainy and grey.  Around these parts, precipitation is a present, a gift.  The chill in the air was invigorating, and the light reflecting on the wet cobblestones a portend of danger, for they are slippery when wet.
Sophie and Laurence and I warmed up with a white tea before class, then ventured upstairs to el Cielo, which means “Heaven” in Spanish, for yoga class.
There was a chill in the room, so we doubled up the yoga mats, and distributed nice, warm, hot pink wool blankets.   When we reached the floor phase of the practice, I noticed that the chill was starting to bite.  Feeling protective of my students, I hoped and prayed for some warming rays.
As we began to practice dvipada-pitâm (“the two-legged table pose”), the sun burst through!  Suddenly our little greenhouse of a room warmed up!  Joy!  We finished the sequence with Dolphins and headstand prep…energies were moved, smiles dawned upon faces and yet again, yoga worked its magic.
Thanks to everyone who came to class, it is a honour and privilege to be allowed to teach even a little bit of this ancient system.  Thanks to all the yogis and sages who kept this oral tradition alive for us to employ now, in 2018.  Thanks to my teachers, Claude and Carmen, for dedicating your lives to teaching teachers.  Namasté.

Authenticity in teaching yoga: Why it took me so long to teach.

authentically ok
authentically ok

The first time I ever practised yoga was in January, 1999.  That is 19 years ago.  How time flies.  I knew from the very first class that I wanted to teach yoga, that it was my path.  So, why did it take me so long to start teaching?  One word:  Authenticity.
I had for the longest time the feeling of being an imposter.  Imposter syndrome is the persistent feeling that you are a fraud.  In the five types that are listed there, I would say I am a Natural Genius and a Rugged Individualist.  Oh, with a bit of Perfectionist thrown in, for good measure.  It’s a high bar I have set for myself.
In yoga, the stakes are high.  You are not playing with people.  You are doing serious work.  And lest we forget, you can only teach what you know, so the most serious work you are actually doing is on yourself.
It is not easy to start off with the Yamas and Niyamas, the codes of ethics that underpin all serious yoga practice.  Non-harming, purity, self-study, contention…it is a long list, and very hard to adhere to 100% of the time.  Add that to six-days-a-week practice, and an evolving practice at that, not stagnating, bringing new things to the mat.  Phew.
It is easy to fall into the idea that you are never good enough to teach yoga.  Or rather, for me it is.  Evidently, for others it is not so difficult.  There are plenty of people out there who, a year after discovering yogâsana are on a 200-hr course and then teaching a few months later.  This is not a criticism of such people, it is a reflection on my inner process, my evolution.
I could not allow myself to do such a thing.  Maybe it is simple enough to say that my baggage was too heavy, my inner world too murky, my compass skewed.  Who was I to teach anyone how to live happily?
And yet, slowly, progressively, I oriented myself, I shed my baggage, I shone my light.  The interesting thing was discovering that we don’t have to be 100% perfect and clean.  But, we need to love our own flaws, our own pain.  When you learn to love your pain, you become whole and when you are whole you can hold space for your students to learn to love themselves, in their entirety.  When I got that,  I started to teach in earnest.  Now, it is my passion, my absolute passion!
A lot of marketing in the holistic world centres on authenticity.  How can we tell the real from the false.  I dunno, I don’t have a simple answer.  I think it’s intuition, I think it’s a feeling.  All I can say is that I think I am authentically ok now, I think I am.  I hope I am cos goddarn I am not going back to that place where I was before!   So, if you feel like checking out my classes, meeting me to ask about how I teach, having a conversation, you’re already here on the blog.  Take the next step and get in touch.
Love, Rachel

Yoga at GOA Altea, with Rachel – video clip

Hey ladies and gentlemen,
A few months ago, the team down at GOA made a fab little video about the yoga and wellness programs that we run.  I, of course, am the yoga teacher.  That’s me on your right, with the braid.  So, click the link, watch the video and dream of quiet mornings in front of the sea, doing hatha yoga, breathing in the salty air, luxuriating in the silence and the sound of the waves.

Alteayoga @ GOA Altea
Alteayoga @ GOA Altea

Summer 2017 – Yoga Classes at Hotel Altaya

I am thrilled to announce that I will be offering yoga classes every morning throughout the summer of 2017.
From 1 July until 31 August, bright and early, we will practice hatha yoga in front of the sparkling blue Mediterranean Sea.
Scheduled time is 7:30-8:30.  Please get there early and bring a mat, if you have one.  We will be on the very agreeable terrace of the Hotel Altaya.  Here is the Google Maps reference.
Pricing goes like this:  Over the course of a week, there are seven classes.  If you come to one class in any given week, starting from any day, the class costs 7€.  If you return for a second class that same week, the second class costs 6€. If you return for a third time, the third class costs 5€.  And so on, until your seventh and final class for the week costs only 1€.  I do it like this to encourage daily practice, and to reward those who have the gumption to keep turning up.  But, also, because I understand that some people will only be able to come three times, or five, or whatever, and they also need and deserve encouragement.
The maximum cost of a week of  daily yoga is 7+6+5+4+3+2+1 = 28€, IVA included.
We will also be doing a yoga and breakfast smoothie tie-in.  Prices and details to follow soon.
So, if you are planning to spend your summer, or part of it, in Altea, please do come along.

FAIL: juice of the day – FALLO: zumo del día

I know I don’t like chirimoya, so why on Earth I decided to add it to my juice is beyond me.  S’pose I thought it might be just a texture thing…

Juice of the Day / Zumo del día

  • Chard, raddicchio / acelga, radicchio
  • 1/2 mango, very ripe / muy maduro
  • Ginger root / gengibre
  • Chirimoya

Sickly and thick, with a nasty repeat.  1/10.


Manual Lymphatic Drainage

When I’m not studying yoga, or practicing yoga, or writing about yoga (who ever said Geminis flit from one thing to another?), I earn my living as a massage therapist.  I am really and truly grateful to my profession – I am one of the lucky few to do a job I truly love, and which brings more joy to the world.  A little less pain brings a few more smiles and smiles are always contagious!
I work a lot with the Vodder method of Manual Lymphatic Drainage.  MLD is a therapy that is taught and researched mainly in Germany and Austria.  Every two years I renew my license, but other than those 4 training days, I have no contact with other MLD therapists.  The big problem is that there are very few of us.  In Spain, MLD is taught to all physiotherapists, and they will all say that they know the technique.  With all due respect and humility, I beg to differ.  I have seen too many cases of automated compression sleeves, heavy manual pressure, inadequate compression bandaging and simple bad advice to feel confident in the training of most physios in my neck of the woods.  The thing is, MLD is a highly specialised therapy.  Even many people trained correctly can’t master the technique.  It is very subtle, repetitive and quiet.  But, done correctly, MLD works like nothing else for edemas, be they lymphatic or venous in origin.
So, today, I treated a German lady’s legs.  She receives weekly MLD sessions in Germany because of diagnosed medical problems.  Germany is where it’s at with respect to MLD, and the therapists there are highly skilled and highly competent.  And after my treatment, the lady practically jumped off the bed, smiling from ear to ear, hugged me and said that my drainage was very very good!  Can I tell you how proud and happy that made me feel?  YAY!!!!


If we are united by any one thing, it is suffering. Suffering is the most universal of human experiences. It touches us all, rich, poor, young, old, beautiful and plain. We are united by grief and cruelty and random injustice. We are united by our reactions to these things – anguish, guilt, rejection and disbelief. None of us expects anything bad to befall us, and we almost all manifest pure surprise when a loved one dies or a partner mistreats us.
When we take time to listen to others, we hear first the stories of suffering. Aches and pains and deceptions are cast about and compared. It can be tiring to listen to such words. In situations such as these, it is important to remember where your personal boundaries lie. You can protect your energetic field from contamination by practising yoga, meditation t’ai chi or qi gong. You can project compassion through the eyes without offering a word. In fact, silent compassion, true listening, usually helps cease the flow while reassuring the speaker that they have been heard. Remember, most people feel that no one listens to them. This is the gateway to complaint. When we carry our burdens alone, they feel much heavier. When we share them, they weight less. By actively listening, without offering advice or, worse, belittling the complaint (“Oh, that’s terrible, but think of how much worse it could be…”) we give space for grievances while neither accepting them as ours to resolve, nor rejecting them as insignificant.