Simply Divine TV Interview

Simply Divine TV asked me to talk about how Yoga and my other spiritual practices have helped me cope, survive and thrive through some of the challenges I’ve experienced in my life. It’s tough to expose your vulnerable side! But, I hope that by sharing my stories publicly I will serve to inspire and guide people to seek help, support and healing. To view full interview click here.

Simply Divine – Yoga from Sandy Lane Productions on Vimeo.

Yoga with Zephyr Wildman 

The Life Centre Notting Hill, London

Yogacampus London

Sunday 29th January Breath-centric Kriya Practice Workshop at The Life Centre Notting Hill to book click here

18 & 19 February Anatomy Centred Approach to Alignment at Yogacampus to book click here

Luxury Moroccan Yoga Retreat 15-21st May to book click here

Greek Island Yoga Retreat 15-22nd July to book click here

Movement for Modern Life online Yoga classes with Zephyr

Conscious2 online Yoga classes with Zephyr

Helpful Resources

Alanon Family Groups support groups for those who’s lives have been affected by addiction.

Alateen Groups for 12-17 year old’s who’s lives have been affected by addiction

Alcoholics Anonymous & Narcotics Anonymous

The Recovery Centre in London

Oasis Addictions Treatment Centre and Drug Rehab Facility South Africa

All that is 🕉️

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I am not an academic nor a scholar. I am a practitioner, a student of Yoga. I seek greater awareness in mastering self-understanding on this path of self-realisation through my body, my mind, my feelings, and my breath. My Yoga practice is an intimate relationship between my human condition and my soul seeking to experience that which is beyond words and is known as the source of all knowledge. What am I? I use my body as a vehicle to feel it’s warmth, to sense it’s presence, to know it’s truth as my practice is one of seeking spiritual experiences of this true essence of what I really am. The practice of faith, trust and discipline of the body, mind and breath, takes a personal awakening to it. The Divine within us, as us and which is working for us to wake us up to it’s presence in everything.

What would it be like to live without fear, self-doubt, anger or resentment. What would it be like to break the cycle of suffering? What would it feel like to be content, free, fulfilled, joyous, serene, trusting and still? I love studying this cycle and habit we as humans face in viewing our inner and outer battle. This irregular, clouded, fear-based vail pulls us into attraction and repulsion to desirable and undesirable thoughts, feelings that arise due to the actions we take. I find that all this does is mask what is always there, the state of Yoga; this light, serenity and calmness as a result of stilling the thoughts and feelings within.

As I sit on my mat, I get honest with myself. I create awareness of how controlled I am by my senses, my memories, my habits, my ego, my default of conditioned genetic inheritance. I realise that I spend a lot of my time unconsciously taking action in my day.  I am unaware of which side of the mouth I started brushing my teeth this morning, which foot I started with getting dressed, the route in which to get to my first client. The mental loop of insecurity I take to keep me trapped in this negative bias of life is overwhelming, heavy and stressful. Forgetting this current of awakened perception behind this sleeping untrained mind. All of this colours the choices in my day, how I take action. I am a sum total of all my choices. Everything that has lead me to this moment is due to all my previous choices. It is impossible to not take action in life. Babies desire to crawl, our bodies desire food, we seek purpose. What guides and motivates my choices or actions? Desire. And desire causes Karma, more action.

Fundamentally all humans have four essential desires to fulfil.

Dharma, the desire to know our purpose in this lifetime, filled with our moral and ethical virtues and unique path to serve our duties.

Artha, the means and tools to financially support the activities of our dharma.

Kama, to honour our sensuality, sexuality and enjoyment in creating art, being touched by beauty and relationships in the form of sex and procreation.

Moksha, the personal journey to thy sacred seat of serenity, contentment, liberation and freedom. To be self-realised, to be whole, complete, at peace.

Our desires become distorted by our ignorance, greed and addictive clinging to external objects in which we start this destructive cycle of mis-identifying with our ego. Who am I? I am my status. I am my property. I am my body. I am my thoughts. I am my conditioned beliefs. These all influence our unconscious daily activities and our future choices, our karma.

How do we choose differently? Self-Awareness is the first step. Change the momentum of consciousness to stop and observe. This then gives room for self-study and understanding ourselves as we walk this path. To give us a greater chance, the methodology of Yoga helps point us in certain directions to gather this awakened contemplation in practicing to find our own conclusions to this experience of what we truly are and how to live by it.

In the Bhagavad Gita, the character of Arjuna is a great archer, warrior and devoted student of Yoga facing a war on the Kurukshera, the field of action. He is advised by Krishna, God, educating him on fulfilling his desires to serve the Universal desire for him to win this battle by means of skilful actions.

The image of an archer serves us in understanding ourselves with greater clarity. The archer is seen holding a bow and arrow which are being shot. The quiver is full of arrows and there are arrows on the ground waiting to be formed for future use. The targets are infinite, however each arrow thrown whether or not hitting the target has a consequence, reaction and a karmic fallout.

To simplify understanding for ourselves and the actions we take, there are three types of Karma described in the Bhagavad Gita:

Prarabhda Karma.

The active karma that is destiny, fate and actions that are in play now. These are the arrows in the bow aiming for a target, the arrows in flight and the arrows that have landed whether or not they make the target. This represents all our infinite number of choices that we take at any given time. The choice to entertain a thought, a feeling, a habit, an identification, how we relate, ultimately how we choose to engage with life and the consequences of these choices already playing themselves out creating more karma.

Sanchita Karma.

This is the vault of stored experiences, memories, habits, routines, tendencies, all known and unknown impressions that colour our perception of life. For example if we are in love, all we see is targets through rose coloured glasses. If we are depressed, all we see is dark, heavy and overwhelming targets. If we are anxious, all we see is stress, uncertainty and fearful targets. What we think and feel based on previous experiences and current mood state of mind. (gunas)

Kriyamana Karma.

These are the potential choices as these have been assembled. We manufacture these arrows depending on how we aim the arrow, the motive behind choosing the target and if we hit or miss the target. We have a choice of freewill to shape, pick and shoot which arrows will be most effective in attaining our desires.

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Again what motivates and guides us? Our desires. Becoming clearer on what is motivating us is key. Through Asana, Pranayama, contemplation, prayer, mantra and meditation we become more skilful in understanding what is driving us. We empower the ability to see, be awake, be aware of our conditioned reactions and learn to delay this impulse to see how to respond. This is called Viveka, or a keen discernment, non-judgemental awareness, discriminating awareness lead by this essence of the truest part of you. It is the source of all knowledge that is illuminated by pure conscious awareness. To be able to master this ability to see with clarity, we must practice, Abhyasa. This is a regular focused practice, dedicated to the path of self-study and contemplation in search for this inner truth. This practice is only completed by the ability to willingly and lovingly surrenderer what is found, Viaragya. The goal for the Yogi is to stay in the detached witnessing awareness, bespoking one’s practices for regular and consistent dedication in facing challenging situations remaining awake in the known essence of what we are and taking skilful action in fulfilling our four desires.

So, we practice with meditation to gain understanding and knowledge of the accumulated impressions and choices we hold in our quiver. We strive to recognise and be ready to remove the arrows that don’t serve us, our community and our ultimate desires. We also take responsibility for the arrows that missed targets. We become accountable for our actions and make amends to those we have harmed due to our ignorant and mislead choices. As we become humbled by accepting our part in this story of life we improve our aim. We become a better archer which then reduces karma as we hit the desired target with clarity of mind, heart and spirit.

It is suggested that the archer can take paths to this freedom or Moksha revealed in the Bhagavad Gita. The four paths are:

The path of Karma Yoga, yoga of action.

The path of Jnana Yoga, the yoga of knowledge.

The path of Raja Yoga, the yoga of meditation.

The path of Bhakti Yoga, the yoga of devotion.

Just being a good skilful archer doesn’t itself bring enlightenment. The archer is a student who embraces three techniques to perfect this skill in hopes of gaining self-awareness, mastery of self-knowledge and experiencing self-actualisation:

Tapas: Austerity, the heat of self-practice, discipline and patience in sitting with the causes of suffering to experience self-realisation. The stamina and willpower to skilfully master the path of Karma Yoga.

Svadhyaya: Self-study, the inquiry inwards by education in all forms, spiritual scripture, teachings by others that have come before you to gain insight into the truth of things by the means of Jnana Yoga.

Ishvara Pranidhana: Self-surrender, the letting go of oneself and actions to the source of all knowledge and higher reality. The act of handing one’s own will and life over to the care of a power greater within devoting all fruits received from tapas and svadhyaya to serve the universal dharma. Bhakti and Raja Yoga.

The image below symbolises the mastery of karma by directing the arrow from the earthly form up the central channel, sushumna nadi, merging with the causal form of pure consciousness. Then one can be ultimately free from the cycle of birth, life and death.

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I haven’t reached enlightenment. I am a daughter, wife, mother, friend, a teacher amongst my titles and all of these roles are teachers that help point me to the truth that I choose; to be a student of Yoga and Meditation. I seek to experience more moments where I am aware-ful and awake-ful of the essence of my own being, to open myself to receive those teachings that reveal the light of knowledge within me, ultimately to allow that light to guide my actions as I navigate down this path of mine practicing these principles of Yoga in all of my affairs.

OM TAT SAT “all that is,” is supreme absolute truth. That this truth is within us, as us, and all around us, working for us to wake us up to its presence in everything. We are whole, complete, free, joyous, serene, and fulfilled now. This moment, when all thoughts and feelings are stilled, experiencing the essence of who we really are, now the teachings of Yoga can begin.

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Upcoming workshops & retreats with Zephyr Wildman:

Sunday 29th January Breath-centric Kriya Practice Workshop at The Life Centre Notting Hill to book click here

18 & 19 February Anatomy Centred Approach to Alignment at Yogacampus to book click here

Luxury Moroccan Yoga Retreat 15-21st May to book click here

Greek Island Yoga Retreat 15-22nd July to book click here

Free Flow Fulfilment

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I had an experience the weekend before last in which I saw the beautiful example of me being very human and the influence of my practices of Yoga unfold. To set the scene; last Friday night I found myself in discomfort after a full week of teaching a sequence inspired by the Bhagavad Gita. The practice was not the cause of my discomfort but the timing of the dis-ease and the subject matter for the week was a remarkable concurrence that would trigger a bit of reflection during a long day at the A&E and a few days of recovery afterward.

By Saturday morning the discomfort increased into upper abdominal spasms which were as intense as birthing labour and came in waves like contractions. Every 2-3 minutes my stomach would roll in a wave of sharp intensity which would double me over into the foetal position for the next 24 hours. Finally, my husband convinced me to go to the hospital and be seen by doctors who assessed from an X-ray that the probable cause of my dis-ease was a narrowing of my small intestine in two places. This, possible twisted gut, had caused blockages in my bowels resulting in a spastic stomach. It also gave my husband, Christian, more fuel for his persistent teasing on the subjects of my Yogic lectures often lovingly accusing me of being “full of shit.” However, as I reflect and experience a deeper insight into the weird synchronistic ways our lives weave and try to teach us deeper lessons that point to the universal answer, this experience became more and more apropos.

A little over five years ago I was at the same hospital. My late husband, Adam, was diagnosed with cancer at this hospital, he had chemotherapy at this hospital and this past Sunday, the 8th of January, was the 5th anniversary of his death. Five years ago to the day I was in that hospital, doubled over in excruciating pain, slowly becoming aware of parallels and relevance to this week’s subject matter in yoga class (not so full of shit after all!) Instead of the planned day with the children, helping my girls process the loss of their daddy on this anniversary I was in the A&E facing my humanness, physical vulnerability, and projection of suffering that my girls would face if I wasn’t okay. I was processing thoughts and questions: What if I die? What if there is more pain? What if my life changes dramatically? What did Adam face during his experience, just as many other people who are in the hospital now? However, behind this ripple of thought and emotional disturbance was a peaceful content, knowing that whatever happened, that it will be okay.

I didn’t share this with Christian, however I know he was aware of the strange correlation of timing. I had an urge to share this with the nurse who wheeled me to the x-ray department, I didn’t. What stopped me was that clarity I had and understanding that it was my ego wanting validation, attention and identification. I sat with my humanness as a student of this Yoga practice and studied myself. I was curled up in a little ball observing a familiar detached awareness I have practiced with during my asana. With each physical wave of pain, I sensed myself saying “I am the one witnessing my body experience the stomach spasm.” Even as I fell into a sleep (almost like yoga nidra) I was still aware in a lucid way of the physical sensations and mental thought that was woven with the emotional thoughts, and the questions that arose. As I acknowledged those questions and acknowledged my lack of answers a wave of deep compassion for all of us swelled in me, I was aware that we will all face the inevitable; change, ageing, disease, illness and death. These experiences in life hold a mirror up for us to see how vulnerable and ignorant we are in masking the reality. No amount of money, clothes, friends, validation, pain, bliss, numbing of feeling or corrective surgery is going to save us from the inevitable. Distracting ourselves with the pursuit of these things nurtures that ignorance.

How do we balance being very human (with our imperfect bodies, thoughts and emotions) and being a seeker of this Yogic state of pure being? The answer: practice. Coincidentally, as I have been lying  in bed for the past few days, I have been revising a text from Patanjali sutras for an upcoming workshop and the first 4 sutras were experienced in perfect performance.

1.4 vrttisarupyamitaratra:

If I don’t practice getting myself into the state of Yoga, I become identified by the mental-emotional fluctuations of all my experiences. That I am my pain, I am my fearful thoughts, I am my fearful emotions, I am the projected suffering of my children and husband. This becomes my reality, the delusional sense of who I am. Identified by things that are changing all the time; thoughts, moods, physical sensations and social identities.

1.3 tada drastuh svarupe vasthanam:

The next skill is to then choose to turn to the Perceiver within, that experiences abiding in the state of fundamentally what I am; pure awareness. Which I experience as a felt sense of joy, contentment, serenity and liberation from this humanness.

1.2 yogascittavrttinirodhah:

I found moments of stillness during my ordeal at the hospital as I have done before in practice. Through years of cultivating self-awareness and understanding my conditioned mind-stuff-filter, I learned how to create clarity in that filter. I can just be held in a state of intimacy, of is-ness or being. Words I find minimise this experience and cheapen it as it is a personal awakening to this spontaneous revelation. Yoga is the result of practice, not the practice itself. And only when experienced, this unsurpassed stillness state of consciousness, that the traditional teachings of yoga, (1.1) atha yoganusasanam (the final sutra) can begin.

A week after my ordeal, I am relieved, I am no longer (literally or figuratively) full of shit, my bowels are finding their normal rhythm and a beautiful insight has been learned from this shitty experience.

Those who know me will find amusement at how ironic this is as I am the one who will laugh far too loud at any bodily function or topic of toilet humour. I offer my story of a stuck poo to teach the deeper meaning of why we practice Yoga and to remind us all that it is the path and the experiences that make us, not so much what we are full of rather how we have reacted to that fulfilment. Happy New Year and here’s to free flowing bowels!

Yoga Retreats 2017

For the past few years my time has been filled with some amazing experiences at yoga retreats around the world. I have been very fortunate to have visited some incredible locations with some wonderful, generous-spirited people from all over practicing yoga, laughing and connecting with new friends as well as the new places I have visited. Embracing the start of 2017 I am extending an invitation to you to open yourself to new adventures, visiting new places and traveling down new paths together. Come join me on a yoga retreat this year!
I want to share with you (as well as anyone you may know who might want to come along) a path of self-discovery, healing and practice in the most beautiful surroundings I have found yet. There are two opportunities this year to go on retreat with me, the first to exotic Morocco and the second to historical Greece.
Going on Yoga Retreats gives us the space to practice in beautiful, nurturing places, filled with wholesome food, sun and like-minded people to share the wisdom of yoga and meditation. I will be offering, on both retreats, a deeper experience in breath-centric yoga asana. This is the healing approach of weaving movement, breath-work and intention into a holistic practice. We will explore Kriya and Mudra techniques, which are the yogic way of purification and concentration of life force to facilitate meditation.
Azaren in Morocco is a unique jewel, a private residence filled with aesthetically pleasing art from all over the world. The rooms in our private retreat for the week are distinctly eccentric in decor. 4 bedrooms/ensuite in the main house and 5 villas on premises as well as a pool, gym, tennis court, spa/hammam, 3 fresh meals a day, and Yoga! All of this embraced by the Atlas Mountains and Moroccan sun. Azaren is located 35 mins away from Marrakech Menara Airport. Click here for more information or to book.
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Itha108 located on the island of Ithaca, Greece is a historic oasis. This destination is a purpose built Yoga Centre with  three yoga platforms depending on the time of day and mood of group in which to practice on. High up in the hills with a constant warm mediterranean breeze it has a sea-view and the fresh locally grown and harvested food. Peaceful and beautiful, Itha108 is the perfect location for us to lose ourselves in our practice and discover a new path to serenity. Accommodation is immaculate, simple and comfortable. Click here for more information or to book.
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I hope you will join me. Please contact me if you have any questions or would like to book. And please pass this to anyone you know who would be interested in joining our adventures!
Blessings and BIG LOVE!
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