Tuesday, 25 September 2007

Yoga Course feedback & website progress

September 25th 2007


After last weekend's yoga course, I had promised Elena, our course director, that I would write her a detailed review of what I have thought of everything so far. There is always a risk with such actions as you never know whether the person really wants feedback to the sort of level that I might go and so I could be really annoying her - which may not be the best idea on such a course.

And as I worked through my points I became more and more convinced that what was needed was a re-edit of the basic syllabus document just to bring out the key features of the course a little more clearly. So I have spent some time on that in the last couple of days and sent off my thoughts a day or so ago. No response back yet. Hope I haven't made a big mistake!

My daily yoga practice is going ok but I do really need to get out to a few classes. I missed Bikram on Sunday and Iyengar of Monday this week and tomorrow's ashtanga class is already in doubt. I am hopeful that I will focus more on this next week after our daughter Emma has been dropped off at college.

Most WBB work is focused on the website and other marketing. The website must be up and running perfectly in less than four weeks. We have finished working through the "internal logic" of the booking process and are now trying to fix page formatting issues. Once these are set, pages should come streaming out - I hope. The three pages we have done so far look great though. Only another 50 or 60 to go!

We are also drafting our first press ads - slated for the December issue of Psychologies magazine, out in early November. There is the listing for January's Yoga Journal Directory to sort out - compressing everything about us into 50 words. And finally we are hoping to list on the Retreat Company's website in a few weeks time and need to work out what we want to say there.

Finally we are in discussions with a person linked to one of the properties we've booked who would like to set up what he calls an "a la carte" list of other activities people could sign up for when they stay with us. These might include vineyard visits, or trips to see olive oil manufacturing, days out on art themes (e.g. a Cezanne tour in Aix-en-Provence of his local haunts), maybe a day long cooking course. We wouldn't gain financially from this but it would boost the look of our product and we are willing to try this at one of our locations with him.

I feel we are entering a crucial period for our project now. A good few months and everything could fall into place very nicely - or not, as the case may be.

Monday, 17 September 2007

Yoga Teacher Training and more

Sunday September 16th 2007

Yoga Teacher Training Course - Victoria, London

Back in London for the next weekend of my yoga teacher training course. No surprises this time in respect of content as I had studied my timetable a bit better than last time!

I am just beginning to get to know a few more people now and can sit and chat before we start on the day. Most people are more or less up to date with the homeworks and everyone is saying they are doing very little actual yoga at the moment. One person I spoke to hadn't realised that we have our anatomy exam in November and that has set me thinking about the course in general. Overall I think the course is very good, after all I did quite a lot of research on such courses before I signed up to this one. But some aspects of it are quite unclear. I have studied all the paper work in great detail and feel happy I know what's what, but it does seem apparent to me that several other people don't have this degree of understanding.

Most of our day was spent on lectures. The morning covered the anatomy of muscles and circulation with Ivor - favourite quote "yoga only cures not doing yoga". I like Ivor a lot as a lecturer. Apparently Elena used to do virtually all the course herself in the past and Ivor is relatively new. I'm sure it's better to have a range of people involved. Myself and Claudia have our backs compared - apparently I have quite a lot of muscle surrounding my vertebrae, which is a bit of a surprise.

Lots more discussion of the course over lunchtime and I began to wonder whether it might be worthwhile for me to actually prepare some feedback for Elena on what I think of it so far. This might help me check I have everything straight as well.

The early afternoon session is on Vinyasa and Bhandas with Elena. I feel I know a reasonable amount about this subject and tried to contribute lots to the discussions. This was followed by another body-awakening session which I continue to find very difficult - the absence of structure and the playful nature of the practice just not suiting me at all. Still my notes were much better this time and I am working on finding a better understanding that suits me more for each type of practice.

At the end of the day, I stayed for a quarter of an hour with Elena chatting about a few of the points that I'd thought of during the day - that people don't know when the first exam is, my theory that not everyone has read the syllabus properly yet, etc. I was thinking more and more about proposing something more formally to Elena giving her feedback.

A quiet evening at Passfield Hall in Bloomsbury - the LSE hall of residency that I stayed in when I was a student in 1981/82. It has been completly refurbished since I was there but the room I have is tiny. It is narrower than my arm span and, oddly enough, higher than it is wide which looked kind of odd. If Emma had a room this size at college she would probably only be able to get about a third of her stuff in it.

I walked down to Victoria from Bloomsbury on the Sunday morning - about 3 miles and a nice route. I had a quick chat to Elena to see if she would be interested in me preparing some feedback more formally, which she is. She is quite right that if people don't read the material they won't know what is going on, but the fact that so many don't know is also a sign that perhaps more needs to be done to communicate this to them. For instance, my brief sample of four people this morning revealed three of them who didn't know that the anatomy exam was in November. Elena did cover a few of my points at various times later in the day, but I'd quite like to look at it all myself over the next week or so. I can see how annoyed she must be by this

Sunday was mostly spent with Elena. First up was a model for building up the teaching of sun salutations over a 10 week class. From what Elena say, I am sure she believes that we should already know this but when I asked a few people at break about it, they too are sure we haven't covered it so far. Elena's detailed teaching of this was one of the best sessions we've had so far as it gave a great structure for developing teaching over a 10 week programme.

Later that morning Elena took us through our first "hands on" session. I was her guinea pig for her demo and she showed us a few "inappropriate" methods before we were paired up to try it for ourselves. We had to do various hand placements and encourage our partners in savasana to breath into the hands. I was paired with Christina who seemed incredibly relaxed when I had my hands on her - indeed she suggested she might well have fallen asleep if it had lasted much longer. Oddly enough, she was really light when doing one of the placements on me and really firm the next time. This was the first tiny bit of adjustment we have done and will be one of the hardest things to learn I think. After all, Linda doesn't like doing them and she had taught over 1,200 classes!

Lunch outside sitting with Sarah. She is South-African and hopes to return there in a year or two after her wedding. I wonder if Yoga is big in South Africa? Like everyone on the course that I have spoken to so far, she is really nice. We are joined by Tracy, who lives quite close to me near Oxford and who I think is a massage therapist. I am continuing to ask people about the course and keep getting some interesting comments back.

Late afternoon we have a two hour lecture on Sanskrit from a lady who was involved in one of Iyengar's earliest ashrams in India. I am hopeless with languages and find the whole section on the various consonent and vowel sounds to be very confusing. Several people on the course - Christina, Claudia, Romana, Suzanne - are from overseas and already have the challenge of understanding the English. Maybe they find another language to be ok. Later we go through our list of asanas and our teacher explains the various parts of the name and how it all fits together. This is very interesting and few people are bothered when we overrun our finishing time - so now I know why Parsvottanasana is a side-stretch posture. I was also really surprised by the discussion of the posture svatikasana - which I discovered is the the origin of the word swastika in German. So one of the most interesting sessions so far despite my almost total lack of understanding of the rules of pronunciation.

So that was our third weekend - loads of stuff I now need to do. Try to get the next homeworks out the way quickly, sort out my notes on the various body awakening sequences, think about anatomy revision (maybe do that when we are in Spain at the end of October), write up some of the other notes I've accumulated. And so on.

Friday September 14th 2007


An interesting development first thing when I have a call from Tim, who is the property agent dealing with the replacement property I found in Provence after our first choice wouldn't let us use their place. He had spoken with the owner and had a look at Linda's website and they both seem very excited about what we are trying to do. We talk for about 45 minutes on all sorts of ideas that we could explore together.

For instance, there is the recurring point about food provision for such big groups. Tim said he would be able to find a chef who could come and cook on one or two nights each week something more authentic than I can do. Or he could also sort out a local restaurant we could all go to for a night. He has someone he knows who does "off the beaten track" trips in the area we are in and maybe we could hire them to take people out. And all the other activities like cycling, walking, horses, water sports, etc are things he could also help us with. He even asked if we would be happy for them to use us in their own marketing.

So that was another very promising development I thought. Funny how quickly I can swing from feeling disappointed by one development to feeling really fired up again as another opportunity presents itself.

Thursday, 13 September 2007

More properties and our first advert

Thursday September 13th 2007


Even though it is still six weeks or so before the website goes live I have decided to test some blogging ideas that I have been collecting for the last few months. So this blog is my test blog ready for the real thing later.

In addition to blogging, today has been spent on sorting out another selection of properties in Provence that we might try and rent. I have one new favourite and have sent off my enquiries noting all the Well Being stuff that we want to get permission to do. I have also pencilled in an extra two weeks at the Chateau if I can't find something in Provence and we finally heard again from one of the earlier French enquiries who seems happy to allow us to do our breaks (this could be "France 2" but is not that far from the Chateau)

I have also drafted the first print ad for use in the December issue of Psychologies magazine to be published on November 5th. I wonder what I will have decided on by the time of the magazine deadline in 3 weeks

And Emma has been wondering why there aren't any pictures of her on the blog so far, so here is one of her on holiday in Italy a few weeks ago

First entry - everything since June

Wednesday September 12th 2007


A quick response from a couple of the properties we tried to book. We get our first choice for the later break in Italy and the owner seems very keen to have us. He lives nearby and has already said he would be delighted to organise tours of his vineyards for us and help us with catering or restaurant booking. So a big thumbs up there. We then get our second choice property for the earlier Italian break, the first choice simply saying the villa isn’t available the weeks we wanted it.

A bit of disappointing news as the owner of the property we were looking at in Provence is not keen for us to use the property for the planned breaks, citing insurance issues as the main problem. His conditions for going ahead are too difficult to meet so we can’t do that one. A shame as it looked a really nice place. I should have thought about this issue before as I could have said to the owners that we do have our own insurance in place already, so they would have no risk from this. But I also discovered that this particular villa booking firm has a general restriction on using its properties for commercial ventures which I hadn’t noticed before.

Also the owner of the first French property has taken ages to get back to us and has loads of queries. So we have looked again at France and found a really interesting Chateau in the Lot – a huge stone fortress with loads of land. I have been looking at the area this is in and it seems fine. I may go and visit here in December when Linda and Emma are going to Boston and I did, at least, book the flights for this.

So maybe we should be thinking of extending the booking on the French Chateau for a further two weeks rather than find another property in Provence. It would be a nice variation to stay at just one place for the entire break in one country. Or I could go back and make the point about our existing insurance cover.

Sunday September 9th 2007


A flurry of activity linked to booking property for 2008. We had already booked the two properties for Spain and were now seeking two for France and two for Italy. We have a wide range of possible sources for them and have soon got a short list of five or six for each country. But already some of them are booked for next summer so the list is soon whittled down. We also need to outline our plans for Well Being to each owner so we can ensure that they are happy with us running these events in their property. Just like the vicar in the paper the other day who opposed yoga classes in his church hall, there may be owners who oppose yoga in their properties.

We had a visit this weekend from Eve, who will be running some of our themes next year. We had lunch out in Oxford, a quick trip to our village fete and then a few hours going through some details of the weeks planned. Then we cooked her one of the meals we have planned for the breaks. She has a number of foods she doesn’t eat and proved a bit of a challenge. But good practice for us when we have other people staying with us.

Sunday September 2nd 2007


Linda’s classes for the autumn have now nearly sold out, which is excellent news (but is creating more admin that we are used to). We have also started to get some good feedback on her website which is nice as it matches the style of the planned Well Being site

My Bikram yoga classes started again in Oxford this morning and it was all quite a shock to the system after a couple of months off. I haven’t looked when Ashtanga restarts but it can’t be far away. I do need to get back to doing classes as my home practice is proving hard to keep to.

I have spent much of the week working on the “learn to relax” course and have sketched out the first two days contents. This basically covers the introduction to the practicalities of meditation and the first couple of guided meditations. It looks promising in draft but still needs a lot of work

Tuesday August 28th 2007


A few days spent reviewing in detail where we are with everything related to WBB. Looking through all the press, magazine articles and other material that we have accumulated over the last six months – the big questions; are we making something that people will want to try? What will actually happen when we launch ourselves on the world in November?

Of course we are still months away from the first holiday and we will have progressed things well by then I would hope. But just a little wobble this week as we realise just how much still has to be got right.

One area that has given us some encouragement has been the results of the marketing push for the UK Pilates classes that we run. We created a website for this as a dummy run for WBB’s website and the result is pretty good. We have also made up a small brochure which Linda will start to give out at the classes next week. This mentions WBB but provides little detail though we are hopeful that we might get some expressions of interest early on – which would give us a boost we feel.

The Pilates classes for this autumn are now nearly full – in fact a couple have decent waiting lists and might result in additional classes at those locations. One or two people are asking about one-on-one sessions including on the Pilates Reformer. So that’s all good stuff that we should take heart from. Maybe this will be the model for WBB’s development?

Also some interesting contacts have appeared from someone involved in the media – maybe the chance of some editorial in the lifestyle section of one of the local newspapers around the end of the year? That would also be very good.

Every so often it is a good idea to really critique what you are doing. We have done that, suffered the deflation that this process can often produce, and now need to push on.

On a totally different subject, one of Linda’s oldest friends died suddenly last week – a heart attack brought on by deep vein thrombosis. Linda was at school with him and his wife. Only 47, which seems incredibly young to us.

Monday August 20th 2007

Green Man Festival - Wales

Off on Friday morning to South Wales for the three days of the Green Man Festival. The weather forecast was pretty poor for the weekend and the land rover is loaded down with spare stuff. But it was quite nice when I got there and I soon have the tent pitched and can go for a wander.

Over the last couple of years we have started attending music festivals again, starting with Big Chill a couple of years ago. Linda and I have been going to Festivals for years – indeed the first place we know we both were at any one time was the Knebworth Festival in 1980 when Led Zeppelin played. This was six years before we actually met, but we were at least in the same field. And the Saturday headliner at Green Man was Robert Plant, which was an odd coincidence.

But I was here to see one person and one person alone – no other performer mattered as much. And this was Joanna Newsom, headlining the Friday night on the main stage. Over the last 12 months there is no one I have listened to as much as Joanna Newsom and I could barely wait to see her show. So I settled in at the front of the stage around 7:30pm as it started to rain and stayed there till she appeared around 11:30pm. A magical hour spent with one of the great musical talents around at the moment!

Joanna Newsom playing “Emily”,
Green Man Festival 2007

I was also at Green Man, in part, in order to assess whether this might be a good venue to hold yoga classes at next year. When we attended Big Chill, there was a substantial “healing” area with all sorts of strange new-age practitioners. One group offering yoga classes were rather swamped with people and I thought that might be something we’d do one year. There was no one offering yoga at Green Man this year, but we also discovered a downside to us offering this. In other words, the rain that started early evening continued for the next 18 hours, turning the entire site to mud and probably dampening anyone’s wish to practice yoga.

One group was doing quite well and this was the tent offering 20 minute Thai massages for £15. Less successful was the tent offering 45 minute gong massages, in which the person lay on a mattress while 4 large gongs were placed around them and hit repeatedly to provide a resonation massage. Never seen that before!

Green Man Gong Therapy

The main festival walkway – Saturday afternoon

One young attendee – wonder if they’ll ever go again?

But after seeing Joanna on Friday, the horrible conditions for the rest of the weekend could be easily ignored

Friday August 17th 2007


Most of this week has had a rather odd feeling as we waited for Emma’s A-level results. She spent much of the week trying to find things to distract her from the wait and so we now have a new laptop for Well Being and Emma has been learning how to use Windows Vista and Office 2007 that came on it, teaching us each day what she has discovered.

And there are no surprises in the exam results – she comfortably gets what she needs and so will be off to her first choice Uni at the end of September.

Monday August 13th 2007

Yoga Teacher Training Course – Victoria, London

Returning from Italy on the Saturday meant that I missed one day of my yoga teacher training course, but I was back in London for the Sunday. I only looked through my class file again on the coach going down and was rather alarmed to discover that we had our first practical teaching sessions today and that it would be mainly on the “awakening of the body”

I have found this bit to be quite hard on the course so far. This is aimed at being a warm up for the class but comes before things like Sun Salutations which have always formed the basis of the warms up I have done in yoga classes. Elena is trying to teach this as a playful sequence that we can just rattle off but I am finding it very hard to get the hang of this idea. So when we were set our task in class, I was certainly feeling pretty nervous about it all.

I was paired up with Rhea and we had to devise our warm up, do a sun salutation and one other main posture. Despite my nervousness about this, I volunteered us to go on early in the class as I thought that would mean we got good feedback. I’m not sure this was a good idea in retrospect and our sequence got rather torn apart by Elena. But I still think that we learnt a lot as a result.

The afternoon was a long series of lectures on anatomy and the nervous system, followed by another yoga class which was pretty tiring I thought. Over the next couple of weeks I really need to work through the rest of the study pack and really get myself properly organised.

I wonder how the other students feel things are going so far

Saturday August 11th 2007

Piobbico, Italy

Back from our two week break in Italy today – all very nice and relaxing. We were based in a small village in the Appennine mountains in the Le Marche region of Eastern Italy – lots of sunbathing, nice meals out, towns to visit and loads of reading time.

This gave me some time to think about yoga in more depth than I have been doing recently. I took a couple of books with me along with half a dozen old copies of “Yoga Journal” which I read cover-to-cover. Only when you can read stuff in this way do you realise just how big a field yoga really is. There is so much too it and vast areas that I’m sure I’ll never really ever get to.

Much to my surprise I managed to do my hour or so of daily practice each day, alternating between flowing yoga and sequences in which I concentrated on doing a smaller number of postures, hopefully in an improving manner – so hard to tell though in self-practice. That combined with swimming 50 lengths a day has certainly made me feel physically better.

Much of the holiday was taken up with various Well-Being research projects. Pricing menus and wine, working out what we would suggest as good places to visit in the area and so on. Le Marche is probably just a little too far off the beaten track for us to use for a Well Being Break, unless we really want to push the idea of a low tourist Italy.

We did visit Cortona though on one day – a 90 minute drive over the mountains on winding roads. So I have been here twice in the last six weeks. Cortona is the ideal Tuscan tourist place. Not too large, lots of nice shops and food places – our favourite place on the holiday. Though Fano was also good, as each time we went there, we witnessed huge electrical storms!

I also did quite a lot of the detailed work on one of Well Being’s weekly themes for next year and that material is shaping up well. And I wrote dozens of pages of other Well-Being ideas that I could look at further over the coming weeks

Friday July 20th 2007


Work continues of the two websites – well-being’s and Linda’s. We are just about ready to go live with Linda’s website - www.linda-riley-pilates.co.uk This has been a bit of a trial run for the main site – loads of formatting discussions and re-vamps, dozens of re-drafts, and so on.

We are back thinking about marketing again as well. In particular, some of this week has been spent looking in some detail at a website that lists retreats of various sorts. This looks very interesting and we are likely to do this, though it means even more writing.

Not long till we go away on our main family holiday now. We are off to Le Marche in Italy, partly as a well-being break research trip to see some properties that we might look to holding a break at late next year. And to research the local area in detail – something that always takes far longer than you think, when you have a wide range of things you’d like to review.

Monday July 16th 2007

Yoga Teacher Training Course – Victoria, London

I have completed the first weekend of my yoga teacher training course and it has gone pretty well overall. The course runs over one weekend a month so I am on an early coach from Oxford down to Victoria. There are a few people there when I arrive and, post admin, we all gather in the studio where we are asked to wear silly hats with our names on, so we can get to know each other more easily. There are 14 of us and I am the only male participants. But I am somewhat surprised that there are actually several people of broadly my age, and less of the mid-twenties, ultra-bendy girls that we had expected.

Our first morning is spent on lectures on the broad principles of class teaching – safety, etc – followed by lessons on the anatomy of breathing, with only a very short bit of yoga before lunch. I had expected to be worn out by lunchtime but our day’s yoga practice follows later on. Elena, our course director, is trying to teach us some ideas for class warm-ups, prior to going into things likes sun salutations, and I am rather struggling with the huge variety of things she is suggesting. This seems to be an area that Body Primo particularly emphasise relative to other schools and I am unfamiliar with much of it. So that is a bit tricky.

Then we do our detailed study of four standing postures – half an hour or so on each, looking at the many points of detail in each and the many teaching points that we need to know. Our handouts give huge amounts of info on these. One problem for me may be remembering all the different Sanskrit names!

I stood directly in front of Elena for the class and am trying to contribute lots. I was happy to be a volunteer on one bit Elena wanted to demo, and hopefully I can make a positive impact on the course itself. I always think that on these sorts of courses, it is important to not be the quiet one at the back. Get involved and make a difference – good or bad!

My cheap hotel is actually not too bad, though I don’t have a bath or shower – we share one bathroom to six rooms! It is a sort of backpacker hotel and perfectly fine for the one night I think. A brief walk out to get food and I am asleep by 9:30!

Up early on Sunday and full of enthusiasm for reading the material we received yesterday. This throws up a number of questions though and I have a brief five minutes with Elena at the start, while she warms up on the (non-STOTT) reformer they have at the studio.

Our morning is spent on a series of lectures on principles of fitness and about lesson planning. They are taught by a dancer called Camille who will also be in charge of marking our homework. She has had a baby four weeks previously but looks amazing. She apparently attending a yoga class while in labour – she hadn’t realised that was what it was! Late morning she takes us through a short yoga flow routine – I would really like to be better at these but don’t really know the postures as well and so remain somewhat clumsy.

Our little group has begun to get to know each other. I have been mainly talking to the other, slightly-older students, but have also spoken to a few of the younger ones as well. Once or twice I have mentioned our Well-being plans and the comments have been very favourable so far.

The afternoon follows yesterday’s plan and we have a “playful” warm up session which I find very confusing with too much going on to really take in, followed by the next four postures. We are interrupted by a huge thunder storm and heavy rain during the afternoon that rattles down on the glass roof of the studio so we can’t hear what Elena is saying.

We finish at 6:00pm and I have the journey back by coach from Victoria. So much to take in from the first weekend, but I do feel it has gone ok. First homework is due in a couple of weeks, so I need to get working!

Wednesday July 11th 2007


Our “home studio” (actually the small lounge) now looks more professional with the addition of a STOTT Pilates reformer. This is a substantial piece of kit but doesn’t dominate the room as much as it might have done. Linda is going to teach me some classes on it as part of her current training and we hope that she’ll be able to attract one or two people for lessons at the house. Long term, one-on-one sessions at home are so much easier that the constant move from one place to another for the next teaching classes.

Linda on her Pilates reformer in her home studio
Friday July 6th 2007


It is only about two weeks till my yoga teacher training course starts and I have managed to pull a muscle in my back lifting (in a non-approved fashion) a heavy box in the garage. I have little idea how hard the yoga course is going to be and whether my back will recover in time, but I have decided to ease back from my regular yoga practice and give it a few days to recover.

The yoga course runs over a weekend each month till next spring. I have booked myself into the cheapest hotel in London (£41 bed and breakfast) for the Saturday night so I don’t have to commute. I am reading loads of yoga related stuff at the moment, and am really looking forward to getting going on it all – back permitting

Wednesday June 27th 2007


There is a three hour Iyengar class in our village this weekend, with a local teacher who I haven’t taken a class with before. She is not keen on me using an Astanga rug-type mat and is all for vetoing its use as it’s her class. The sort of ethical thing that could be considered in Farhi’s Teaching Yoga. The class itself is fine and the time flies by. I’ve never done a class this long before. Once again, I am the only male participant, but this is something I am increasingly used to.

Monday brings my first meeting with Eve, our Life coach for next year. We have a couple of hours chat in a cafĂ© in Covent Garden. She seems very nice and I’m sure we’ll be able to work together well next year. She is going to jot some more ideas down to flesh out her previous course plan. And I have to think about how to market her on our website.

With time to kill before seeing a concert (Magnolia Electric Company at the Scala) I was walking up Charing Cross Road when I came across a Chinese Traditional Medicine shop that did head, neck, shoulder and back massages - £6 for 10 minutes. The lady who did me had the strongest fingers I have ever come across. If ever you were trapped in the coils of a snake and you wanted someone to squeeze the snake until it let go, this is the person. I would love to know how to give a massage like that.

A call from Neil, the creator of Wellbeing Network, a community website for anyone looking for wellbeing products and services. We hope to meet up next week and see what we might do together going forward.

Friday June 22nd 2007


I have finished reading Nicole Beland’s Girl seeks Bliss. It would have been easy to dismiss this as a superficial guide to Buddhism for twenty-something girls but actually it was a far deeper work than I had expected and has given me plenty to think about. Among other things, the web resources listed provided a link to a site called buddhanet (http://www.buddhanet.net/) which contains a number of e-books that can be downloaded for free. I have selected Jack Kornfield’s The Eightfold Path for the Householder which Beland specifically recommended

It was my last Iyengar class with Sam this week. He is moving to France where he is involved with some sort of yoga retreat (no details yet it seems). I have only attended a few of his classes, but they have had a big impact as they compliment the Astanga and Bikram classes so well and provide some idea of what my yoga teacher in London will be like. As a result of something Sam said previously, I asked Emma to buy me a book by Iyengar (Light on Life) for Father’s day

Much of the week is taken up with Emma’s remaining exams. Things seem to be going well and she has little doubt that she has done enough to get her place at University. But it will be a relief in August when the actual result is in our hands. There is always the possibility of admin error or something like that coming out of the blue

Last but one Astanga class before the summer break and the impact of the Italian trip is definitely coming through. In particular, forward bends are considerably deeper than normal and some arm bindings are achievable where previously they weren’t. This just shows the impact of regular practice!

Saturday June 16th 2007

Cortona, Italy. Yoga Holiday with Julie Hanson

After a series of last minute changes to the original plans, I departed early on Tuesday to Rome for a short yoga holiday. It is nearly twenty years since I last visited Rome on our honeymoon. I have just enough time to walk from the station to the Coliseum before departing for Cortona

The course is being run by Julie Hanson, a Glasgow-based yoga teacher who I’d come across at last year’s Yoga Show in London. We are staying at a small spa hotel just below the main town, a group of about 10 of us, including Sue, a Tai-Chi teacher.

We start each day with a short silent meditation, followed by an hour or so of Tai-chi, then 90 minutes of yoga. Only then do we pause for brunch. The classes provide a wide variety of styles based on Julie and Sue’s theme for the week, which is a “five element” retreat. As we have more time than usual for these things, we are able to just about complete the Astanga primary series (something that is hard to do within the confines of a normal 90 minute yoga class)

I am also the only male on the course which provides a unique experience!

I have tentatively mentioned our plans for Well Being Breaks next year and have generally had an enthusiastic reception. While talking with Julie, one or two ideas I mentioned seemed to strike a chord with her and she was keen to share the thoughts with Sue. But these were mainly practical considerations, covering things like wine consumption, and whether cars should be hired.

I was particularly interested in Julie’s comment that she and Sue typically based their retreats on an organic model of the week. She could see that with the time I have available, I was working deeply on the plans in a way that they typically don’t. Much of the group dynamic might occur because of this flowing approach, so I need to consider whether I am being much too prescriptive.

On the Thursday afternoon we all visited Cortona and while the girls go shopping, I visited the cathedral and the small museum opposite. I am amazed to discover that the museum contains two masterpieces by Fra Angelico – the Annunciation and a Polyptych of the virgin with child and four saints.

Friday June 15th is my 44th birthday which I spend mainly travelling back home. This is not really the best way to spend one’s birthday but it is an improvement on last year’s when my birthday came just a couple of weeks before my father lost his battle with cancer

The Villa Aurea, Campaccio, Nr Cortona, Italy http://www.villaaurea.it/

Fra Angelico’s The Annuciation and Polyptych of the Virgin with Child and Four Saints, The Museo Diocesano, Cortona

The girls in Cortona – post shopping

Part of the Forum in Rome

The Coliseum

Saturday June 9th 2007


An interesting development towards the end of the week. We have recently had a small mention in Psychologies magazine, which included our email address. Overall, the mention has not generated many enquiries as it refers to 2008 holidays, but we did have an email today from a Life Coach enquiring about whether we might be interested in using her services.

I am only just beginning to sketch out the plans for the courses that we plan to offer as part of the breaks. The meditation course has fallen into place quite well, as has the simple living theme. But the NLP / Life coaching course has proved more tricky. I have still not really got to grips with the material and so only have a very brief outline of what I’d like to do.

So I arranged to have a call to Eve and we chatted for about an hour about her possibly doing a course entitled “Re-invent Yourself”. As a result, we have tentatively agreed to work together on the two Spanish breaks next spring. She has sent a course outline, which looks good, and we have a rough idea of the basis for her participation. I have sent her the current draft of the website covering Spain and she seems very keen.

Moreover, she has put me in touch with a website called the Wellbeing Network which exists to provide an access point for those involved the wellbeing industry. This is another possible source for us to advertise in and so I think Eve has already earned her first week’s money!

And thinking about the courses more, I have decided to re-title them. They are now tentatively called “Relaxation”, “Reinvent Yourself” and “Living Well”