Monday, 27 February 2017

Epping at the Movies

When I'm not teaching, practising or studying yoga, one of the other activities that is currently absorbing a lot of my time is the new not for profit, Epping at the Movies project.

I heard about this on social media last autumn and through one of my students, got in touch with Suzie who is running the project.

My hubby and I are both film lovers and watching a movie or three is one of the things we both like to do together (especially if it's too cold or wet to get up the allotment).   I offered our services and Suzie made us a welcome part of the group planning the Sunday 5 March Launch Day at the Epping Hall on St Johns Road.

As a result, hubby and I have been busily sorting out ticket agents (you can buy tickets from me at any of my classes and at the Epping Golf Club, Theydon Oak Pub and at the Epping Library), testing out the screening equipment (him not me!), and generally spreading the word to our local Epping Community.

I've also been happy to sponsor the matinee, which will be Some Like It Hot (with Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon) .

The tickets are £5 for adults and £2 children, so please spread the word with anyone you know in the Epping area so we can make the launch day a big success and provide a foundation for lots more, regular screenings in the future.

Many of you know that I'm a big believer in the benefits of community and I'm hoping this project will be another opportunity for neighbours to get together and enjoy a movie (and food from The Little Kitchen) and to get to know one another in a new and different setting.

After the first screening, the project will be looking for more volunteers to help with future events, so if you'd like to volunteer and get involved, just email and let us know you're keen to help.

Yoga Brunch, Book Club and Bolster Sessions

Last Saturday, I hosted our very first Brunch, Book Club and Bolster session at the Bantham and Ongar Bowls Club in North Weald.

The idea for a yoga book club has been in my sights for a long time now and sprung out of the Friday Night Yoga Club sessions that I ran a couple of years ago.

As part of my plan to keep my Friday nights free for me and my hubby to catch up on our weeks together, I thought that this year, I'd launch a series of four Saturday lunchtime sessions instead  and see how they went.

The first session sold out completely and I think it was a huge success.

We had 15 ladies at the session (we would love some men to join us too if possible) and we all sat down after the 09:00 weekly class to discuss the first 3 chapters of Living Your Yoga by Judith Hanson Lasater.  Whilst chatting, we enjoyed cereal, fruit, yoghurt, a few hot cross buns and tea and juice and everyone had a chance to share their thoughts about what they had read.

The book is great book for this sort of get together.  It's really easy to read and accessible but the ideas and suggestions in there can also provide plenty to think about and discuss.

After our brunch and chat, our group settled down for just under 90 minutes of restorative yoga, with bolsters and blankets before setting off home to enjoy the rest of their weekends.

If you would like to come along to the next session on Saturday 27 May, please get in touch to book your place.

Sunday Day Retreat - Earth

One lady's beautifully set up
 practice space
Yesterday, we held our first of four Elements Day Retreats at the Bantham and Ongar Bowls Club in North Weald.
Time to chat and 

In the morning we explored and discussed the things in life that enable us to feel grounded, such as getting outdoors, nature, our yoga practice and many other ideas.

As our theme was Earth, we explored a grounding, stabilising practice, including the pawanmuktasana joint freeing series, some chair versions of a sun salutation and a series of standing postures.

There was also time for chanting and yoga nidra.

For this workshop Heidi from Heidi's Kitchen in Hoddesdon provided our lunch.  This worked brilliantly as Heidi also stayed for the day to enjoy the workshop which meant that she was on hand to share lots of info on her delicious vegetarian and vegan salads, sweet treats and juices, with several people asking for recipes at the end of the day.

In fact she's even agreed to type up some of the most popular ones for everyone who came along.

In the afternoon, our 24 yogis enjoyed a restorative yoga practice for a couple of hours before closing the session with everyone heading of home, relaxed and grounded and ready to begin the week ahead.
Delicious Sweet Treats from Heidi

The next of the Elements themed Day Retreats is in June.  Hope over to the workshops page for all info and let me know if you'd like to join us.

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Nourishment not Punishment - Yoga Retreat Weekend at West Lexham in Norfolk

The luxurious rooms at West Lexham Barns
A couple of weeks ago, I got back from our third ever yoga retreat weekend with 19 other ladies and gents. The weekend was held at the West Lexham Barn and Barn Rooms in Norfolk, a beautiful estate in North West Norfolk, just outside Swaffham.

This was the biggest group I had "retreated" with so far, (we had 12 at Potash Barns in January 2016 and there were 17 at the West Lexham Village Hall and Cottages in September 2016).  
The HUGE dining table at West Lexham Barns

Many of the students had also been on my first ever yoga retreat 12 months earlier which had gone so well so I was a little nervous of how we could match or improve upon their previous experiences!

I choose the theme for the weekend (Nourishment not Punishment) about a year ago and I'd been developing it ever since.  Nourishment was something that came up several times over the weekend in Potash Barns last year and it seemed like a natural evolution, as I knew a lot of the same people were planning to come along again.  

This theme was further embedded whilst I was on my restorative yoga training with Judith Hanson Lasater last spring, when she invited us to explore "does what I'm doing involve taking care of myself?".  
Lots of time for Yoga Nidra and Restorative Yoga 
A simple and nourishing breakfast
before everyone else woke up!
Free time to read, colour,chat..

The particular phrase "nourishment not punishment" however came from my lovely Nan.  It's a comment that she often makes and which always makes me smile.  She's been in my thoughts more than usual of late too, as she has recently had to move out of her home into assisted living and so I liked the way of honouring her during the weekend.

We approached the theme of nourishment in relation to the koshas, something which we looked at in class late last year.  We explored how we can nourish ourselves not just physically with food, movement and stillness but also how we can nourish ourselves energetically, mentally and emotionally and how we can connect to our own wisdom and inner bliss.

To help us, we explored some simple but dynamic yoga practices, lots of yin yoga and restorative yoga (of course!).  We had a storyteller (Tilly the Talespinner) on the Saturday night and we ate lots of simple, vegetarian food.

On the Sunday afternoon there was a yoga nidra practice before time to make nourishment calendars, eat cake and close down the weekend before heading off home.

The two remaining weekend retreats for this year are currently full (although you are welcome to be added to the waiting list as spaces often come up nearer the time).  If you'd like to join me at West Lexham next year in January, (at the time of writing there are currently four places available), then just drop me a line or give me a call to reserve your space.

Saturday, 31 December 2016

Epping Christmas Tree Festival

This year, for the first time, I booked and decorated a tree as part of the Epping Christmas Tree Festival.

The festival takes place every year and I always think of it as the beginning of the festive season when it opens and the Christmas Market comes to town.

For our first ever "Amy Bramble Yoga" tree, I asked lots of my students of all ages (from aged 10 upwards) to decorate a luggage label with words that best sum up what yoga means to them.  There were so many lovely words written that I thought I'd pop them up here for you all to see.....

They're in no particular order by the way....

  • Yoga = Self love
  • Yoga brings me peace of mind
  • Namaste
  • Yoga gives my whole body inner peace
  • Clarity
  • The loveliest part of Amy's yoga is relaxing in the sunshine at the end of a lesson
  • Yoga always makes me feel at ease in my body and more importantly my mind
  • Relaxation
  • Moments of bliss in my week - love and positive energy
  • Yoga is... the first step to inner peace
  • Yoga - peace and tranquility
  • Yoga Connection Love Self Care
  • Yoga calms my mind and energises my body
  • I do yoga because it relaxes me, challenges me and it is fun.  It also improves my flexibility and my posture
  • Yoga for me is the oasis in my busy world
  • I am strong
  • I am yoga
  • I come to yoga because it is relaxing and calming
  • Yoga - peace, calm, mindful, stillness, bliss, love
  • Yoga helps me feel balanced, relaxed and stretched - Happy Christmas x
  • Yoga brings me peace
  • Peace
  • Relax and just be
  • Humble, grateful, thankful, love and kindness, mindful, respectful
  • Yoga, strength, softness, fun
  • Keep calm and do yoga
  • A sense of space
  • Yoga takes me to a place where I am living in the moment. A moment of being at peace
  • Relaxing and calm
  • Yoga gives me strength and flexibility both physically and mentally and emotionally
  • Yoga makes me calm and strong
  • I do yoga because it is fun, flexible and creative.  Amy is a great yoga teacher full of ideas
  • Yoga to me means peace and tranquility
  • One of the best things I have ever done
  • Yoga reminds me of what is real - that I'm good enough exactly as I am
  • Yoga is a way of living
  • Yoga makes me feel like I've had a relaxing weekend in an hour and a half! - Merry Christmas!
  • Om Shanti Shanti Shanti
  • Yoga is love for self and others
  • Yoga makes me feel calm and peaceful.  I love that feeling
  • Yoga makes me calm and joyful
  • Deep breathing, mind stretching, body relaxing, relaxation
  • May peace and joy be yours now Christmas time is here
  • Yoga is love and friendship
  • One-ness
  • The one place in my busy life that is just for me.  Where I can nourish my body and my mind
  • Yoga for me means a calming of the mind and an opening of the heart
  • Yoga gives me an hour of relaxation and bliss
  • Take family and friends into consideration at Christmas
  • Keep calm and do yoga
  • Yoga creates calmness and peace
  • I am worry free
  • Friends
  • Strength, peacefulness, oneness
  • Worry less, yoga more
  • Yoga is good for me, I always feel better afterwards
  • Calm
  • Yoga - time for myself
  • Achievement in the physical and contentment for the mind
  • Yoga Leggs
  • I am happy, I am strong, I am powerful, I am worry free
  • Breathe in breathe out, brings peace
  • Yoga gives me time on my own to think, also to learn something new
  • Yoga is a chance to unwind, chill and be calm.... bliss! x
  • Merry Christmas! xxx
  • Be calm on Christmas
  • A quiet time to be and not do in a busy world
  • Love peace happiness
  • Focuses my mind on being still - I love it
  • I do yoga because it is .... fun relaxing peaceful calm quiet challenging
  • Peace love harmony
  • Makes you feel good - less stress
  • Relax and just be
  • Connection

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

#10thingsthatmademesmile Part 3

I'm rather enjoying my little initiative to look and log #10thingsthatmademesmile every few weeks.  This is the third part in the series and you can see the first and second from a few weeks ago if you wish.

I love this time of year because, for me, life starts to get a little slower and more gentle.  My classes are often a little quieter, I run less workshops and I use the time to reflect on the last year and explore ideas and dreams for the coming months.  I love this day dreaming phase.

Christmas in our household is also rather simple and straight forward, so I try to make sure that I enjoy (rather than hurry) the few errands that are required in advance of Christmas Day (more on that later..)

So here's my recent favourites, do join in if you'd like and let me know the things that have made you smile either on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram (or even just face to face in the old fashioned way!).

Decorating my Amy Bramble Yoga tree for the Epping Christmas Tree Festival
This year I decorated a tree for the Epping Tree Festival at St John's Church in Epping.  Hubby and I only went to the festival for the first time about three years ago and nowadays, going each December is something that really marks the beginning of the season for us both.  

On the day that I needed to decorate the tree, I also had to fit in my self practice, teach 3 classes, feed and water our chickens, cook a couple of meals and do some yoga therapy study and teaching paperwork. 

I was however, determined not to hurry the tree decoration and when Denise who comes to my classes offered to help it was a perfect reminder to enjoy, rather the rush, the process.

We spent an hour adorning the tree with luggage labels covered with words, poems and quotes about what yoga means to the adults and children who attend my classes.  Some creative students had even gone off piste and made models, written in beautiful calligraphy and decorated baubles.  We even had a fimo clay model of a reindeer doing tree pose to go on the top!  (I've posted a list of the words on each of the labels here for those of you who were unable to get the the show).

Receiving my first ever healing from a friend and neighbour
A friend and neighbour has been offering me a healing treatment for ages now and we finally got around to arranging a date for a session.  Part of my practice of late (inspired by reading Judith Hanson Lasater's What We Say Matters) has been becoming comfortable in asking for what I want and need in order that those around me are better able to offer it.  What I love about this practice is that it also enables those around me to better ask me for that they want too.

I have often found that in the past, that when someone does something for me, that I immediately need to do something back for them in order to "redress the balance".  It was a really good experience to just be able to receive some kindness from someone without having an immediately to "play it back". 

Running my Love Love Love Day Retreat
My last Day Retreat of the year, really was a joy to run.  For me, the effects of the day lasted for about a week afterwards and I can only hope that those of you who attended, felt the same way.

Planning to spend Christmas with my mum
As I mentioned in my last post in this series.  I'm really pleased that my mum is able to visit this year and spend Christmas Day with us.  The day will still be an uncomplicated affair and I'm hoping to get around to writing a post on just how simple our festivities are in the new year.

2 (yes 2!) monthly massages from Sam and Jo
I'm rather lucky in that the more I become immersed in the world of yoga, the more healers, therapists and other special people cross my path.  In the last month, I've been lucky enough to have rather lengthy and indulgent treatments from Jo ( 07931 813633) and Sam (07889 396458) who both come to my classes.

It may sound rather indulgent to receive two massages on such a regular basis.  But after many years of practice, I have realised how important it is to take care of myself in order that I can the best teacher, wife, daughter, granddaughter and friend that I can possibly be.

These sessions now come without a shred of guilt along with my (almost) daily home practice and the time I take to feed myself proper, wholesome food and schedule in plenty of rest into each week.

7 weeks with no takeaway or restaurant food
As a result of a couple of unavoidable situations this summer, hubby and I have certainly not maintained the balanced diet that we these days (normally) manage to adhere to.  In fact there had certainly been a fair few more takeaways and restaurant meals of late.

A few weeks back however we decided that we'd have a temporary "ban" for 7 weeks on all restaurant meals and takeaways which, as we complete the seventh week, we've managed to to stick with.

In fact, it's actually been really nice.  Instead of calling up a delivery service on Friday when we're both ready to relax after a busy week, we've been taking it in turns to make something homemade for the other.  We've also had a fair few nights when fellow Strictly fans have popped round on a Saturday evening to watch the show and join us for supper.  In the past, friends round for dinner would have been a momentous event which required tidying the whole house, cooking at least 3 courses, stocking up on loads of booze and pulling out all the stops.  These days, I love the fact that we're now comfortable in inviting friends over for a bowl of pasta or homemade soup with a glass of wine or even just a slice of cake and a cup of tea..

Receiving a Yogi Tea Hamper 
For the last few years, I've been sent a lovely Christmas hamper from Yogi Tea (which is genuinely my absolutely favourite brand of tea).  This year, another parcel arrived on the doorstep and the Heartwarming tea is certainly my favourite so far this winter.

Watching Strictly
This year's Strictly has definitely been my favourite so far and I've loved all of contestants this year.  Each Sunday, I've been happy with the results and it's looking as if it's going to be a great final this year*.  I've also enjoyed that, as I mentioned above, we've had several nights watching the show with friends.  In fact we even baby sat for some neighbours one weekend and enjoyed using playing cards as score cards, allocated ourselves as judges (I was Bruno) and made the whole experience even more participative than usual.

Second Epping at the Movies meeting
A couple of weekends ago, we had our second planning meeting for Epping at the Movies, the new community cinema which is launching in the spring.  We're now beginning to look at plans for ticket sales next year, seating options for the viewings and most exciting, we're beginning to discuss the films that will be shown.  We've now come up with a theme for all three showings (more on that later too) and it's been been confirmed that Amy Bramble Yoga will be sponsoring the matinee showing on Sunday March 5th. 

Making Kindess Calendars in Tween/ Teen class
This really was a highlight for me in the last few weeks.  I was inspired by the Kindness Advent calendar by Make Today Happy which came up on my Facebook feed and so I decided to make them in my teen/tween class.  Everyone in the class had a blank calendar which they filled with acts of kindness for the month.  Unfortunately, I made a typo and ended up calling them "kindess calendars" instead.  To save wastage of card, we instead made up a new word: 

Kindess - definition: a young girl, woman or goddess who spreads kindness wherever she goes (particularly at Christmas time!).

Since making the calendars, the feedback that I've had from the girls and from their parents has been so inspiring that it's actually given me an idea for something which I'll be making in my own practice and sharing at our weekend retreat in January.

*I wrote some of this post before last weekend's programmes! - (my 2 favourite dancers were both in the dance off last weekend! :( )

Thursday, 1 December 2016

#10thingsthatmademesmile part 2

So this is my second post as part of my new #10thingsthatmademesmile initiative! (you can read little more about it here in my last post).
A statue at the Life Centre
- Islington

In the last couple of months, there have been loads of things that have made me smile but these are the ones that have particularly stuck out in my mind....:

Uma always creates a
beautiful practice space for us
2 whole days with Uma Dinsmore Tuli - This lady is now officially on my list of "favourite teachers".  I've done short sessions with her in the past and one of the reasons I was so keen to do my Yoga Therapy training with Yoga Campus was because she was one of the many teachers who would be delivering sections of the course.  As part of the foundation training, I spent two days being taught by her and aside from meeting several other beautiful and inspiring yoga teachers, I left feeling more rejuvenated and alive than ever before following a training course.

Receiving my Advanced Certificate in Restorative Yoga from Judith Hanson Lasater - Just a few weeks ago, I was super thrilled to receive my certificate confirming that I am now an Advanced Relax and Renew® teacher.  Many of you know just how much I love to share the practice of restorative yoga and receiving my certificate has really propelled me into feeling even more determined to continue to teach and share this truly fabulous practice.

Practising Restorative Yoga with my Hubbie - After a beautiful day's training with Uma the other weekend, I felt enthused in offering more restorative yoga to my lovely hubbie.  He's always loved the practice but it's been several months since I last took the time to set him up in a pose as beautifully as I could manage.  It's such a joy to be able to offer this practice and to share it with someone I love so deeply is even more precious....
This butterfly visited us almost every
 week last term in the barn classes

Watching Strictly - There was discussion on our retreat recently about whether pleasures should ever be "guilty".  I have however, always joked that my love of Strictly is a slightly guilty pleasure and I love this time of year when we're part way through the season.  For me, it always signifies the beginning of the winter and the start of hunkering down on a Saturday night and getting cosy in front of the TV.

Sitting outside eating my lunch - A few weeks ago it was warm enough to sit outside in a t-shirt and eat my lunch and it felt like such a treat.  We found and bought a beautiful second hand garden table and chairs a few weeks back and sitting outdoors and enjoying the autumnal sunshine felt like a wonderful and precious treat at this time of the year.

Teaching at the Epping Barn - One of my many pleasures this year has been setting up my classes in the Epping Barn this autumn.  We're still only a few weeks in and yet the beginner's yoga classes and Friday afternoon restorative sessions have been hugely popular and teaching in such a special space is an absolute joy.

Filling both retreats in a weekend - I must admit that my ego was rather chuffed when both of my June and November weekend retreats for 2017 filled in a single weekend.  I love offering these weekends and I'm constantly thrilled at the positive responses I've had so far during and after each weekend.  I'm already planning the content for both the June and November 2017 retreats now that I know who's coming.

(Would you believe, because both West Lexham and Potash Barns are so popular, I've already booked January 2018 (at West Lexham), March 2018 (at Potash Barns) and November 2018(at Potash Barns) already?!  I've also managed to book one of the country's leading yoga philosophy teachers for March 2018 to join us for the Saturday evening and share his wisdom.

Meeting up with the "Chicken Gang" - At the time of writing, we have 15 rescue hens in our allotment group.  On Wednesday's it's my job to make sure that they're fed and watered and collect our eggs for the week.  At this time of the year, it can be easy to let this be a reluctant task when it's raining or the weather is cold and so it was great to meet up as a group the other week and re-connect and remind ourselves what a nice community we have created and share our plans for the following months.

1 hour chat with mum - There's been a fair few things going on just lately which have meant that my mum and I have had less time to chat on the phone of late.  The other day however we managed to take some time to sit down and catch up and it was really good to get up to date again with one another's lives. This year, we'll be spending Christmas together and she'll be enjoying the treats that Epping has to offer during the festive season.

Batch cooking soups and stews - Hubby and I had a spare Sunday the other week and took the time to spend the afternoon making tonnes of soups, stews and other goodies for the freezer.  I always feel good when we've done this.  It's a chance for us both to potter around together doing something that we enjoy and it always feels as if we're setting foundations for a well cared for and healthy week as we know that there's plenty of healthy goodies ready to keep us well fed.

Do let me know the things that have made you smile just lately..... I'm planning and third post for a couple of week's time before Christmas.