Monday, June 29, 2009


I'm coming to the end of the course for this year and my students have asked for yogic "homework" to do during the holidays to keep them strong and flexible (and zen!) whilst  away from their  usual weekly yoga classes- so here it is. 

Unfortunately sun salutation doesn't cover everything - there is no twisting or balancing nor an inverted position, and to ensure a "complete" yoga session it would be great to include these too. So I am proposing here a more complex salutation than one is probably used to, which includes a balancing and inverted asana (together). It would be enough to do this version plus a twisting position at the end of the sequence for the session to be more complete.

This version was taught to me by my yoga maestra Beatrice Calcagno. 

Big thanks to Gianluca for the photos.

1. Stand at the front end of your mat and allow your shoulders to fall forward completely relaxed, your back will become open and round . Your head drops down, chin towards throat. Backs of hands against your bum. Breath slowly, fully.

2. Bring your hands back behind you, finger tips together, slide your little fingers together so the outside edges are touching, then slide your hands, your little fingers  apart bringing your palms flat against your back (fingers pointing upwards), elbows close together. Take a full in breath (or two), lift your sternum, keep your thighs tight, drop your head back and arch your back backward. Remain like that for a few breaths. 

3.Bring yourself forward slowly, breathing in bring your arms out by your sides and up over your head (with a semi- circular movement).


4.With your knees slightly bent bring yourself down, directing your abdomen towards your thighs whilst trying to keep your arms above the line of your ears for as long as you can while you come down. 

5.Place your palms by your feet on the mat. Try to keep your back straight  - if necessary bend at the knee a little more.

6.Bring your left leg back,bring your upper body up and abdomen away from your thigh, if you'd like to intensify lift your left knee slightly  from the floor . Bring your arms away from you, hands down  palms facing outward. 

7.Come back down placing palms by your feet again. Bring right leg back and come into plank position. 

These side balancing postions may be left out if you wish to try something a little less demanding. Simply go straight on to step 9. 

8.Turn yourself over so you are balancing on your right hand and on your right foot. Your hand should not be directly under your shoulder but pushed forward. Come back into plank and turn over to the other side (if you'd like to "turn up the volume"  instead of trying to push  your rib cage upwards the ceiling - which makes the whole position lighter- try to keep your body perfectly straight and aligned from your shoulder to your feet). Come back into plank. 

9.Breathing in come into downward-facing dog.

10.Bring knees and elbows down and slide your chest forward towards the mat, when your shoulders are above your wrists push your upper-body forward and up,  your elbows remain in line with your wrists without opening out to the sides. 

11.Bring   your hands with fingers interlocked behind you, forehead to the ground and lift your head and chest up.

12.Place your hands under your shoulders and lift your entire body into the plank position. 

13.Breath in,  come into downward-facing  dog.


14.Lift your right leg up towards the ceiling and swing your right leg forward through your arms (without lifting your palms from the mat!)  foot lands in line with your hands. 

15.Bring your upper body up and away from your leg, open arms, head back. 

16. Place palms back down by feet. Ease the weight of your body forward to lift left leg up towards the ceiling - bring both hands to your ankle and stay there for a couple of breaths. Try to ease your chest downward and your abdomen to your thigh.

Gently bring your left leg down, roll your body back up (head comes up last) so you are standing and start again from the first position - making sure you "swap legs" so your left leginstead of the right, comes forward during  the sequence. 

Do the whole sequence at least once on both sides.

This is a fanatastic sequence to do just as you get up in the morning (preferably facing the sun). It gives you a huge energy boost (in fact I would avoid doing this before sleeping)and really sharpens the mind, brings the body's flexibility back after staying relatively immobile for several hours during the night, it gets you focused, makes you feel strong - it's wonderful for the heart and the edocrine system (thyroid, adrenal and  pancreatic glands to name but a few). It influences hormones produced increasing serotonin levels (feel-good hormone) and reducing hormones released during stress. 

I will try to do a short home-video of this too - so keep posted!

Have a wonderful summer and hope to see you all on the 7th of September when Lotus Pocus re-opens!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

MEDITAZIONE 13 -A cura di Lia Camporesi

Ancora sul silenzio come condizione essenziale per entrare dentro di noi e per ritrovarci: il silenzio, il respiro consapevole ed il giusto atteggiamento mentale di apertura sono i presupposti per prepararsi alla meditazione. La prima forma del silenzio è l'immobilità fisica, dei pensieri e la non volontà di emozioni. Bisogna ascoltare il silenzio, anche se niente ci parla o risponde, anche se tutto sembrera in sè inerte e stupido perchè il silenzio è sempre fecondo, ma il suo frutto si rivela spesso al di fuori del tempo di meditazione, nei momenti più inattesi. Isha Schwallwer De Lubicz dice: "Il silenzio è il vuoto che attira lo spirito. Ma la coscienza risvegliata in questi momenti può restare oscura per qualche tempo: la Conoscenza che ne risulta in fondo al Cuore aspetta la sua ora per risalire in superficie e durante questa attesa le preoccupazioni futili rischiano di soffocarla. Bisogna imparare a "covare" questo tesoro. Sarebbe esorbitante esigere la comprensione immediata di ciò che si è conosciuto durante il breve momento strappato alle preoccupazioni giornaliere. Però una sorda prescienza di qualche verità sarà il primo risultato. Accoglietela con riconoscenza perchè il dubbio e l'ingratitudine arrestano i progressi. Attendete pazientemente che le conoscenze confuse diventino delle evidenze: non cercate di precisare con delle conclusioni cerebrali affrettate ciò che presentite perchè ostacolereste lo sviluppo dell'intuizione...Bisogna esercitare l'orecchio interiore ad ascoltare con neutralità e una docile impersonalità le correzioni apportate dalla Conoscenza del Cuore. Gli ostacoli a questa conoscenza intuitiva sono: la fretta del risultato, l'immaginazione cerebrale ed emotiva, l'intrusione di pensieri nella consentrazione meditativa, l'ingratitudine ed il dubbio e la ripugnanza a riconoscere i propri errori." Poi abbiamo praticato il rilassamento meditativo al fine di allineare la nostra personalità con gli stadi più profondi di noi stessi.
Ciao e grazie, Lia.

Friday, June 5, 2009

MY TAKE ON: Using props

Belts, cushions, bricks and blocks, wedges, walls, chairs and bolsters.....use whatever it takes. I'm not a yoga purist (in case anyone could have assumed otherwise) hence I fully condone the use of all the above.  I believe getting the most out of a position using any which way you can. 

Props in yoga are simply "tools" which enable you to align your body , reach little further or to use as support (for example a block placed beneath your shoulder blades when lying down - legs crossed - enables you to open much more than you would otherwise). They allow a position to become more accessible and often safer. It's about aiding not about CHEATING.  Many people loath to use props as they feel they are somehow inferior to those who don't need them. Please remember that we do not all have the same body structure. Proportionally you may be very different from the tall lanky girl on the mat next to you.  You may have tighter muscles, shorter legs, less mobility around your joints, this does not make you less of a "yogi"! However long or short , tall, skinny, plump, stocky, old or young  one may be,  one should be able to hold a position and feel challenged yet comfortable. This means that your breathing during the process remains soft, slow and silent. Pain is to be avoided so you may find that often by using a yoga belt for example, you are able to remain in a position comfortably which, without would render the asana an exercise in physical suffering or simply completely impossible (think of cowface for example). 

There are great benefits to be reaped from holding a position over an extended period of time - props can help make you comfortable enough to hold for longer. It makes the whole experience more interesting and enjoyable.

If you need to sit on a cushion in order to avoid hunching/rounding your back when  your legs are out in front of you (or crossed) - then great, don't be shy. I'm more interested in correct alignment than the fact that you can hold a position without props yet wincing. Yoga should not be an endurance test. 

SO feel free to use props if and where necessary, if at home invent! Anything from your granny's dressing gown belt, a pair of stockings to Heinz Baked Bean cans can be used.

And don't forget....advanced yoga practitioners and instructors use props too - me included. 

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


Hi to everyone,

Just wanted to let you  all know that I shall be holding a week's course of  yoga from the 12th to the 18th of July. Please read below for the details and contact me asap if you are interested.

Yoga Week in Umbria - 2009

This mini course of hatha yoga will be held between the 12th  (day of arrival – try and get here for dinner!) and 18th  (departure on this day after the morning yoga session and breakfast) of July  2009 at Casa Garuda, a beautiful villa set in the hills between Tuscany and Umbria, exactly half way between Rome and Florence. 

Casa Garuda

Casa Garuda is owned and run by Lama Brian and his partner Antonella and is used both as a countryside bed and breakfast and as a place of “Dharma” where those interested in meditation can come and practice. 

Set on a hill, this villa  has wonderful views of the surrounding countryside including lakes and a peacock farm. It has two big communal swimming pools (which serve the other four or five villas – which at that time of year are normally empty  - on the land as well) at walking distance from the house itself. There are also tennis courts and bikes are available to rent should one wish to tackle the hills. This is a great place to go on hikes from too. 

The house has been given the “seal of approval” by the worldwide Feng Shui expert Eva Wong! 

Places to visit

This  area of Italy between two of its most beautiful regions – Tuscany and Umbria offers a vast  choice  of medieval villages to visit which are set against the most beautiful geographical backdrop and where you will find  great  cafes,  restaurants and shops. Two of the   most important “Must See” towns, both a forty-five minute drive from casa Garuda, include Montepulciano: a wonderful  village littered with artisans shops and Val d'Orcia in Tuscany -  possibly one of the most beautiful places for a day trip in the world. 

The nearest town to Casa Garuda is called “Chiusi” (where you will get off the train), which is a five minute drive and which hosts an Etruscan museum, catacombs and a good pizzaria.

The local Terme (outside natural springs/thermal spas) is a only half hour drive away. You can buy a ticket which includes  a swim in the public pool (which has a waterfall), a hydro massage in another pool followed by saunas  both Turkish and “secco” at the price of 45 Euros. A cheaper version includes a afternoon in the  public pool with waterfall for 8 Euros. (follow this link for more information on this -

The Timetable

7.00 – 10.00 Yoga

10.00  - Breakfast 

1.00-   Lunch

5.00-8.00 Yoga 

8.00- Dinner

(there may be slight variations to this timetable)

Meals will be eaten outside (weather etc. permitting)!

If one wants to go on visits you could easily leave just after breakfast  and be back for 5.00 or for/after dinner. IF you should miss one of the meal times and/or yoga sessions  there will be no discount offered. 

Getting there


The nearest airports include Pisa which has a direct train connection to Chiusi , as does Fiumicino Rome. Ciampino Rome is another option but its  bus
 connection is from Roma Termini. Firenze is even
better than Pisa with a bus connection to the train
station. Go for Florence if you can!!!!

By train: On the Napoli/Milano line, from Rome, Florence, and Pisa, get off at Chiusi/Chianciano station. leave from the station

Once at the train station contact Brian (Mobile: +39 334 319 8603 or home 075 9527286) and he will come and get you for the cost of 15 Euros per trip (four in the car max. or , as he said, five if small!) 

You can find train schedules at

By car: From Autostrada A1 exit at Chiusi, turn right after the toll station, and follow the signs for Perugia (via Chiusi scalo). At Moiano follow the signs for "Le Coste." When you arrive at Tenuta Le Coste follow the signs for "Il Poggio". The exact address is; Localita` Le Torri, 06060 Villastrada (PG) Italy


The cost for six hours of yoga a day (except for the last day which has the three hour morning slot only), three vegetarian meals – breakfast, lunch and dinner (wine is not included) plus accommodation  is 550 Euros a head (to be paid in EUROS!). There will be no reduction for those wanting to skip meals or yoga sessions (frequency is not obligatory! Please feel free to skip as many meals/sessions as you wish – and you may need to if you want to visit further a field.) A deposit of 150 Euros will be needed to insure a place and should be paid no later than the end of May. Maximum of nine places are available in the villa itself and places will be given out on a first come first served basis. If we should exceed the maximum number there are rooms in villas at walking distance from Casa Garuda which rent out rooms – we can organize that for you. If you should change your mind after paying the deposit it will  ONLY be refunded  if you find someone to take your place. 

The cheapest and easiest way to send your deposit would be to put the cash between  a piece of paper in an envelope and to send it RECORDED DELIVERY to my address – T.privett Via Porro Lambertenghi 19, 20159 Milano, Italy. Make sure to write your name and email address (the later so I can confirm its arrival).  You can pay via your bank directly into my account but you will have to pay the transfer fee. Let me know how you prefer to pay.

There are NO single bedrooms (there is one room with three beds and the others are twin) but all have their own bathroom.

What you will need to bring

A NON-SLIP yoga/gym mat and, IF you have one, a yoga strap. I will bring yoga straps and yoga blocks with me. Comfortable clothes will be needed for “class” and a swimming costume for the pool. 

General suggestions

In order to really “recharge” your batteries and obtain the maximum benefit of this week  I suggest (and it is only a suggestion!) that you treat this time   as an opportunity to “de-tox” – hence the vegetarian diet. Alcohol is of course allowed but you may want to refrain at least until the last evening. However you will not be hung drawn or quartered if found with a slice of prosciutto and a glass of Chianti in hand, I promise!

Brian and Antonella are dear friends who have kindly allowed me (and you) to spend this week at their home. They are not waiters, cleaners nor chamber maids. They are part of the group. Therefore everyone is expected to “muck in” including helping with laying the tables and clearing away of  plates ect. 

It’s good for your karma ;-)

Don’t worry – there’s a dishwasher. 

Please feel free to contact me with any questions at 

If you'd like to see pics of Casa Garuda go to their website here;

If you'd like to check out my yoga blog it's here; 

(all of it apart from a weekly comment about mediation, is in english)

Or my website; 

MEDITAZIONE 12 -A cura di Lia Camporesi

Qualcuno mi ha chiesto di spiegare perchè usare il mantra come centro di attenzione per distoglierci dalla proliferazione mentale. Il mantra è un pensiero sul quale si ritorna a livello sempre più profondo. La parola detta dalle labbra è esteriore, il pensiero formulato dalla mente è interiore, ma il mantra, che diventa impulso della volontà perchè volontariamente lo si vuole ripetere, è ancora più interiore. E l'interiorizzazione diventa ancora più profonda nel momento in cui dalla parola pensata si passa alla pura consapevolezza. Al di là della parola ci uniamo a ciò cui essa orienta (spirito, amore, libertà, luce, pace, grazie, presenza maranathà, ruah, amen, ecc) Il desiderio di questa unione non è frutto di nostra iniziativa, non dobbiamo andare da nessuna parte perchè lo spirito è già qui, dentro di noi, ci sta già attirando verso di lui, si tratta solo di renderci disponibili ad un'azione che sta già avvenendo dentro di noi, Il mantra è come una freccia che indica la via, infatti, ad un certo punto, sentirai di non avere più bisogno di ripeterla ed allora la lascerai. E la ricupererai solo se ti accorgi che stanno sorgendo ancora pensieri diversi dal "qui ed ora". Ed allora, con gentilezza, ricomincerai con il tuo mantra. Il tempo della meditazione sarà all'inizio un continuo andare e venire, mantra, consapevolezza, distrazione e poi di nuovo mantra, ecc. A volte il tempo passerà velocemente: è segno che ci si è distratti poco, a volte sarà noioso, ma non è vero che sia passato inutilmente perchè in profondità qualcosa è comunque avvenuto, anche malgrado la nostra distrazione. Quando noi ci esercitiamo prepariamo la mente a diventare silenziosa, poi ci vorrà un Maestro per arrivare all'illuminazione. Ma c'è un detto indiano che dice: "quando il discepolo è pronto, il Maestro si presenta spontaneamente".
Un altro pensiero che abbiamo sviluppato è stato quello dell'importanza dell'unione degli opposti. Abbiamo visto che nell'antichità, quando gli uomini erano abituati ai simboli, alle parabole  si riferivano ad alcuni dei che sempre richiamavano l'unione degli opposti: Pallade (Atena) era donna, ma aveva energie maschili. Armonia era figlia di Afrodite ed Ares (Amore e Guerra). Il Tao era l'unione di yan e yin che sono diversi (uno bianco e l'altro nero) ma che vanno sempre presi insieme per indicare la totalità e che poi  in ognuno di essi c'è anche una piccola parte dell'altro (il piccolo puntino bianco nel nero ed il puntino nero nel bianco) Così in un rapporto tra due persone (ad es. marito e moglie o figlio-madre) non ci deve essere fusione o eccessiva dipendenza di uno dall'altro perchè ognuno deve poter mantenere la propria personalità. Va bene essere collegati per formare l'unità, ma non la fusione completa. Ritornando alla meditazione abbiamo meditato sul respiro ricordando che gli ebrei hanno una parola che è ruah che significa respiro, soffio e vento: "che non si sa da dove viene e dove va perchè soffia dove vuole". Ruah è il soffio potente che esce dalla bocca di Dio nella creazione, che vince il caos primordiale, ma è anche il respiro fragile e vacillante che comunica lo spirito all'uomo ed infonde la vita in lui. Finchè rimane nell'uomo gli appartiene e fa della sua carne inerte un essere e un'anima e tutto ciò che tocca l'uomo tocca anche il suo respiro: le emozioni, la paura, la gioia, l'ira, ecc. Di questa ruah però l'uomo non è padrone, pur non potendone fare a meno: muore quando questo soffio gli viene tolto. Ed allora abbiamo praticato ricordando la parola ruah. Abbiamo ripetuto il mantra "Vita vieni, ruah, amen".