One wheel, many spokes

Last Sunday a fellow yoga friend and I went to the British Wheel of Yoga All-Wales Yoga Gathering in Trefeglwys, Powys. This was the fourth one we’d been to and like previous gatherings featured sessions by different teachers, the regional AGM (attendance optional), stalls, and time to chat to other yoga people from Wales.

BWY logo

It was the turn of South Glamorgan area to arrange the day (each year a different area of Wales is responsible for the annual All-Wales gathering) and this group of yogis was easy to spot as they were all wearing bright orange t-shirts with the BWY logo on the front and then the slogan ‘One wheel, many spokes’ on the back. This was their own idea and by the end of the day they wished they’d printed more as several of the participants wanted to buy them! Maybe the BWY should look into this!

The programme for the day started with two parallel sessions: the BWY Wales Region AGM, or a yin and yang session led by Danielle Nicholls. Because I wanted to raise some issues I went to the AGM whilst my friend went to the yoga session and really enjoyed the difference between the yin focus followed by the more dynamic yang flow. Sounds like I missed a treat! The minutes from the AGM will be available on the BWY Wales website in the future for BWY members.

After a tea break we then had three half-hour sessions taught by three different teachers. Jason Riseborough led a whistle-stop ‘pawanmuktasana’ joint releasing session, the basis of which he uses a lot with people with physical disabilities. I had come across some of the exercises before and use a few of them in my classes as they seem to be effective ways to work the joints, so it was good to learn some more of these useful exercises. (They are described here, but are also in the Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha book published by the Bihar school of yoga). Jane Aggleton then taught an enjoyable session which used ‘grounding’ principles in various poses, aiming to avoid strain in the postures. I recognised the Scaravelli-inspired approach which I’ve experienced and enjoyed with Peter Blackaby and Lisa McRory. We then enjoyed a pranayama session with Margaret Hudson and I enjoyed the ‘virtual’ alternate nostril breath variation which involved turning the palms of the hands up or down accordingly.

We were able to enjoy lunch outside as it was a beautiful sunny day and there was lots of chatting and catching up with familiar and new faces. There was also time to look at the stalls, and for those who are less good at practising non-attachment and aparigraha (without possessions, belongings, non-greed) a chance to buy printed t-shirts, hoodies or bags from Yoga Yamas or cards and moon calendars from Gaia Lifestyle (designed by Gwen Davies). I succumbed to several items!

Wheel by buggi - CC on Open ClipArt

Margaret started the afternoon off with a meditation session and then Natasha Marchant led a lively, fun and creative ‘shakti bhakti yoga’ session. Taking inspiration from belly dancing and bollywood dance moods she integrated this with yoga asansa and then taught us a short dance sequence put to music. I really enjoyed the session and have already taught a couple of the moves in some of my classes this week! With the energy levels high the final session went straight into laughter yoga. Teacher Carol Young explained the background to this ‘yoga’, outlining how Dr Madan Kataria in India came to realise that getting patients to laugh, releasing tension, fear, anger and negativity, worked the manipura chakra and significantly increased their prospects of returning to health. Carol taught us a variety of different laughing exercises (I can remember the lawn mower one and greeting a friend) and we ended by lying down in a circle, shoulders touching, and still laughing. Someone piped up that we looked like a wheel with many spokes. A great way to round off the day.

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