Tuesday, 26 November 2013

beginners mind

We had someone new joining us in our little intimate late session last night. She was not new to yoga but new to class as she has been practicing through DVD's at home. We played with a few vinyasa krama's, getting into Bakasana, Salamba Sirsasana 2 (tripod headstand) and Urdhva Dhanurasana. After trying each pose, she would look up, wide eyed and say 'wow!!'
It wasn't a "wow, that pose is great" but more a "wow, I am fab! I can still do that!"
We have all been there- 
when we realise we could still do something- or do it at all.
If only we continue to remember how 'wow' we are, long after those things become 'easy' or 'normal' to us.

Remember, you are 'wow'! 

Friday, 22 November 2013

Latest Class News

December News

last one for 2013

dear friends,

The energy has been explosive at the studio and it has been a joy and a privilege to have been a part of your practice. Your practice has been so inspiring and keeps my own practice, both physical and mental, incredibly motivated. I also feel such deep gratitude to be allowed to share these times with you because I know myself, how personal practice can be; a time when you are working through your battles, internally, or externally. I understand how vulnerable it can feel at times. It is really a "big" thing for me to be allowed to be a part of all that and I thank you from my heart for this trust.

Thank you for another amazing year!

Keep playing & live life fully


Closing / Opening

My last class for 2013 will run on the 6th December. I will be run a list round for cover classes for the two weeks in December and will update everyone on whether there will be class cover or not before i leave. You can check on my website for updates or facebook group.

Classes will resume on the 6th January 2014

Yoga Gives Back & Kirtan

The third Yoga Gives Back event will be running on the 30th November at the studio. The class will run from 15:00 - 16:30 and cost £10, all of which will go towards the charity, Yoga Gives Back. Please let me know if you are able to come along as at the moment, only a handful of people have responded.

Following the class will be a kirtan lead by Lou & I, to welcome Lou's little Lila to the kula and also as a little closing for the year. This will run from 17:00 and all are welcome to join us! Kids too!

Yoga Gives Back link here or check it out on my website

5 Day Immersion 

The 5 morning immersion will be running from the 2nd - 6th December. We will begin each morning at 06:45 and it is recommended that you stay till 07:45 at least. Otherwise, we run till 08:00. There are a few spaces left if you would like to join in.
This year the immersion will be about sequencing for your practice. Immersions are a way to help you develop your home practice and is open to everyone except complete beginners.  No drop in's so please email to book a space if you would like to come along.


Here are some dates for your 2014 calendar if you are thinking about workshops or holidays next year:

4th January

Opening class- Sankalpa
10:00 - 12:00

16th February

Forrest Yoga Workshop with Jambo Truong
10:00-12:00 and 14:00-16:30
(book early to avoid disappointment)

12th - 17th May

Bali Yoga Holiday

1st - 3rd August (tbc)

Camping Yoga Weekend in North Norfolk
more like glamping - limited spaces

14th - 16th November

Autumn Spa & Retreat, Sweden

Please check for update on the website here

Last but not least, I wish you and your family, a Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year.
May all beings have a peaceful and joyful year.
May all beings everywhere be happy and free.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

super strength

Every time I stop to hear someone's story, it touches me so deeply how strong some of us have to be in life. Super strength is in fact, human strength. the strength of the heart and soul. 

One theme run throughout these stories though...
We all have our battles, great and small but we also all have our victories, great & small. Our yoga practice illuminates this each time we step onto our mats. We come with expectations, struggles, insecurities, love for our body, hate for our body, envy, admiration, ego, humbleness, hope, fears.... All of life's battle in one practice :-) My practice reminds me every time, to notice and celebrate each little victory; as i feel my body in a new way, find a pose in a new way, defeat a defeating thought or feel a pose for the first time! And it also shows me how each "rubbish" practice (or each "battle" lost) just reveals to me more strength, more determination and more wisdom to try again with sturdy equanimity. It has definitely taught me to notice the finer details of life- not just see a moment as having won or lost, but as many little processes, all victorious! 

That is not to say that I live each day victoriously! Haha! Don't i wish?! But learning to be mindful moment to moment, and not beating myself up when i loose the plot, has definitely been the greatest gift of yoga. I hope you find your gifts too. 

I salut you all super humans! For your resilience, your tenacity and your spirit. 

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

comfort zones

Comfort zones just creep into our lives without invitation and without prejudice. It takes a hold of us and starts to build this fear fence around us! It's gripping! 

I've noticed in the last couple of years how I seem to have developed more concrete ideas about what I like & dislike and find myself in these gripping comfort zones! I find myself reluctant to try new things or explore workshops that offer new perspectives especially! And I know now that it is out of fear. And anyone who knows me will tell you that this is completely out of character of me!! 

Recently, I attended Ana Forrest's workshop. I signed up for it because my friends were going to be there (to cut a long story short) I had signed up for her firts visit to the u.k. but it did not run as she had become ill. So it wasn't something I had not considered before. I did not read anything about it; just signed up. A couple of days before the retreat, I received a email inviting me to choose the workshops I had wanted to do. How peculiar that those words caused me to cringe & contract! I thought "oh my word! What is this?? But...I had paid, so let's just get on with it and if I really hate it, I can skip the second day" Even writing this makes me laugh & makes me quite annoyed that I should have even thought those things! At this workshop, I received wisdom that was new to me, wisdom that had been forgotten to me & an experience that blew my heart open. Imagine if I had missed it because some words made me insecure! Because it was something unfamiliar to me! Imagine what I would have lost out on! It would have also been lost to all whom I had shared this with immediately after. Wow...
The irony of it all is that in the previous year, I felt the same about another teacher, Rod Stryker's workshop, that turned out to be one of the most powerful yoga intensive I had ever experienced!

I've come to realise this:
In the last couple of years, I have developed comfort zones that I feel really uncomfortable, or unwilling to get outside of. I don't want to say stuck - this is all new so I am still working it out. It's as if when I turned 40, a crazy switch got turned on and now I have to be so aware of this crazy space that I am in. 

I am in Crete on a retreat at the moment- writing this. I am still not afraid to come to yoga retreats alone at least. But..phht yoga retreats are the best places to go on holiday if you have no one to travel with. You always meet great people and you will always feel included and safe. I recommend yoga rocks here in Crete. So anyway. What I did have to do is drive myself from the airport here. Left hand drive and all. Let me tell you, I get lost even following a sat nav! And of course, I got lost....& broke my side view mirror! Aaarrrggghhhh!! But- I got here I could have taken a cab but the idea of driving on my own got me so scared I just had to do it. It never used to scare me, so it had to be done. I'm glad I did it. Whatever. The point is, it sounds so silly- but it is exactly these silly things that easily builds up into bothersome big things. 

How mad that as I purportedly gain wisdom, I lose courage? That as I seemingly gain knowledge, my mind should narrow! That with all this amazing life experiences, I should choose not to experience anything new!? Thank you yoga for giving me the insight to at least be aware of this so that I may work on it. And here I am bathing in beauty, nurtured by the sounds of crashing waves as i share this with you. Something unlikely if this fear fence just got too big! 


Thursday, 11 April 2013

Shine! Click Click!

I am sat here waiting for my friend, who will be my photographer today...
My hands are sweaty and my stomach is turning..
Last year, during my 'Four Desires' training with my teacher Rod Stryker, it came up in my work that I would make every effort to be in the background so I made a sankalpa to 'shine like a bright star'. I am not sure if I have been doing much shinning since then, but I have definitely become more conscious of my background hiding..

O.K... so he has come and gone!
It has been a good experience for me on a few levels; getting over myself, not really believing I can look anything special, trusting someone with my vulnerabilities, trusting myself?! I thought it was going to be harder doing this with a friend who is also a yogi, but it turned out great as we were completely honest with each other and had the same idea where this was going. You will soon see that I still did a lot of hiding but it was a great big first step for me and I am really so happy I did it. I am also so grateful to my friend for this experience and especially, for making GREAT compositions! I felt comfortable once I saw the first shot. It was no longer about me but about our expression of a combination of things that we both loved - yoga, colours, photography, alignment...The pictures are beautiful and I feel good about them. But... whilst I love them, it was a lot about the experience! I was thinking throughout, i can do this!! I am doing it! I did it!! :-)))))

At the end of the session, we tried to shoot a portrait and I have to say... epic fail on my part. Ultimately... when it is just about me, the challenge continues. Frustrating!
But I am on it.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Narayanan Krishnan

I am full of awe for those who understand their role in dharma so clearly! I personally know a handful of people like that and it is through interacting with them that I have a clearer understanding of the meaning "that without which nothing can stand (dharma)"
It is always a humbling and inspiring experience to be around them. They do not try to be anyone special, but you feel the magic of their presence; it touches you, softens you and fills you with a sense of love, that comes from the kindness of their heart...    

The CNN Heroes page is a great great source of inspiration if you ever are in need of one. I came across it in 2009 when some friends were rallying around Budi Soehardi but I had not been following it since, until last week, and came across this guy Narayanan Krishnan. I don't really need to say more. Click on the link below and check it out. You can also read about his work here and follow his work at Akshaya Trust

narayanan at CNN
I am very aware of how lucky I am to have access to food 24 hours a day, every single day. And grateful as well that I can stroll into the supermarket and pick up any food I like. I can even buy food that has been organically grown in Costa Rica and a variety of ingredients from all over the world- just five minutes walk from my door! Lucky me!

Not all of us feel dharma so strongly. And respect to those who do not claim to know it! We should not feel guilty if we are not out there saving the world. It is not for everyone, which is why these guys who do do this, are so amazing. Some of us are placed in the right place, at the right time to do the work necessary. And some of us are placed elsewhere so that we may help them. Money is an exchange of energy and one of the ways we can reach out to help. Although giving money is "easy", it should not be seen as something soulless or simple. Every penny comes about from an exchange of energy- the energy you have put in to keep society going, that in turn enables these guys to expand good their work. It is all necessary and all equally important.

Please reach out. 
On his site, it shows that US$400 (around £265) can feed 425 people 3 meals a day!

Tuesday, 26 March 2013


I am completely in love with this at the moment. 
I love epics and stuff of the past - Mahabrata, Ramayana, Bhagavad Gita, The Purana's, The Crusades, The Illiad, Odyssey, stories of the Greek and Roman Gods and my favourite of favourite Chinese epic stories on film! Crazy for it, my friends will tell you :-)

This retelling is BRILLIANT! It is easy to read despite the many sanskrit words used- but this, i love too. So maybe in the first few pages, you will have to keep referring to the glossary for their meaning but you get a hang of the words after awhile and will start enjoying the language itself. I love this retelling because he tells it like a fairy tale- you can really get into it- and you will!

Best part about it is that I have not even had to reflect too hard on the philosophy of the story. It just stirs me and i just FEEL the whole essence of the story. Dharma has never been clearer! The Bhagavad Gita gave me that as well but this- i felt in my heart. 

Please excuse my enthusiasm- I hope not to raise the expectation too high- I have read other versions but for me- this is just awesome! It has made me cry from being heart broken to being elated, to being inspired and humbled, and to being "enlightened" (ie: eyes / heart opened!) 

For epic lovers... enjoy :-)

Monday, 25 March 2013


Often, I would cross someone thoughtlessly throwing their rubbish on the ground. I wonder.... do they believe that someone will pick it up? I know in some countries, that is the general belief! I reckon they just don't care. 

How sad that some of us fail to see the great earth as our home? 

How sad that we can only see the things that we can hold and keep... 

How sad to have such limited sight..

Earth is like the body..

& we are just a cell within that body..
why do we pollute our own body? 
We know that one bad cell can make us quite sick...

Such a shame how we treat the organism that supports us...

the mother that provides us with all that we need to survive..

But shame on me!

Most of the time, I pass and say nothing..

Monday, 18 March 2013

not so early yogi

early birds

he he he
o.k. maybe I gave that impression, so I apologise if I did.
I do not wake up at the crack of dawn to practice. I am a terrible morning person! It has always been so. I wake up at 7:30 and if not, get woken up at 7:45. It takes me some time to get out of bed- a bit like my dog... it takes a few stretches and some dialogue with my brain before I roll out of bed. I also like getting up when my husband has gone. He is a morning person and is very hyper in the morning. His quick movements in the morning disturbs me LOL. I am on my mat at around 8 and do a few sun salutations and stretch out my hips and back; they normally feel tight in the morning (actually, everything feels tight in the morning for me- like wood!) . I don't stay long- breakfast beckons. Practice for me really happens in the afternoon. Most days, at 3pm. If I have clients scheduled, then practice happens at 8 in the morning and I only get the one session in. 

I am often asked how long I practice. The thing is, I have stopped imposing time on my practice. Some days, I can go on for 2 hours or so and some days, barely make one. There used to be a time when my time on my mat was all about how much time I spend on it and what I achieve on it physically. I would set targets and will push at a pose every day until I get it or it gets me! Then inevitably, there came a time when I did not enjoy my practice anymore and did less and less of it. I have managed now to let go of that kind of gripping and reaching. Practice is much more about space now and can report that I look forward to be on my mat every day. If you want to take anything from this experience, I would say to you, 'enjoy your practice'. To sustain a regular self practice and more importantly, to be able to receive the beautiful gifts of the practice, you have to enjoy it. Surrender the reaching and gripping, trust the practice, and all will come eventually. 

Having said all that, I go on about morning practice because I love getting up at the crack of dawn to practice. When I am on holiday, I look forward to this. It feels great and the whole day that follows is just great. It is a wee bit challenging on a work day for me to do this. I get back at 9:30pm at the earliest and it would take me some time to wind down. It all sounds like an excuse really because this week, I have had to get to bed early and have been waking up at a glorious 05:30 to get some practice time in before heading out to the wonderful yogi's at 07:00. I miss my night time reading but I love it! It feels great! Even the dog has been delighted to see me this early (and I can tell you, he is no morning bird either!) There is always a way if there is a will...

So anyway....my dear yogin friends, no, I do not wake up at dawn to practice. Maybe I will keep at this now that it is also getting light quite early. I really recommend it ;-)

we love zzzzz's in the morning

Thursday, 28 February 2013

A&E moment

I have lost count how many times I have restarted this post, struggling to articulate my thoughts that are abundant, right now...

I have just spent an 'eventful' night at the A&E of the Norwich & Norfolk Hospital. About five hours to be precise. As I was not the one who was ill, I had ample opportunity to observe the activity around us. There were a lot of unwell people in one little space and plenty of real life human drama. 

At one point, we had our own drama. It is surreal watching someone's heart beat drop, alarms going off and a sense of 'oh..'. In that moment, there is a kind of calm... and everything, all of life, seemed to just wrap into one bubble and everything else outside is just a blur. It is like a one pointed focus... like some meditation experience. It is ironic, because this is also how i describe the day I met my husband.

Lately, there have been much sad news around my circle of friends. Just a month ago, a young friend died suddenly and without reason and we had just received news of a friend and a family member with terminal cancer. When these things happen, you recognise your mortality and become more aware of the fragility of life and start to say things like "life is short. don't waste it unnecessarily" etc. And then you forget and go back to the crazy cycle of stressing over little things, procrastinating, over thinking things, etc... until it happens again.

Perhaps it is different when it happens to you, or so close to you. 

Because there is definitely a different air in the house this evening. 
It is one of quiet contemplation but also, deep gratitude and appreciation...
That every day is a gift of possibilities- small and big.
Both equally magnificent, when seen through the eyes of appreciation..
Live... and love

I just want to add... 

You hear so much news about how bad the NHS is. Our experience last night was far from that. It was amazing. Maybe it is the NNH, and if so, lucky us for living in the right city. I was being quite nosy as well and can tell you that it is really amazing what goes on in there. It is not just that they were efficient and tireless. They were also kind and receptive. They were really thorough with us and we have left today feeling quite overwhelmed by the generosity of the staff and service. And again... maybe it is just the NNH, and we are definitely not taking for granted how lucky we are for all this. 

I also want to say that all is safe and well. 

Tuesday, 26 February 2013


pretending not to hear me
winning the mat space

Had to share this! 
This is the dogs favourite thing to do of late..... interrupt my practice!
I wonder if something has changed...
He loves being in the room when I am on the mat- even if his dad is in, he will join me.
Usually, he sleeps through the whole thing but lately, he will jump onto the mat whilst i am still on it and start to bug me. It takes quite a bit of telling off before he gets off it. 
I am sure some of you are thinking that it is because I have not been paying him enough attention. I assure you, he gets so much attention that he has to hide away for some quiet time. I am definitely getting him his own mat. Maybe not a Manduka! I bet he is going to want mine and not any o'l mat! Stay tuned... 

ps: i LOVE him
he can have whatever..

Bad Seeds Good Seeds

Ever experience how when someone plants an idea in your head- even if you did not agree with it, this idea starts to take shape in your thoughts?? For example, if someone, says something not-so-nice about another person whom you thought was quite lovely to begin with. Soon, you find yourself starting to notice things that were not there to begin with (and to be honest, not there at all, just made up in the mind)

Unfortunately for me, it happens. The problem with me is that I love the people I love in a mad and crazy way and get a bit protective. Nothing wrong with this, but I tend to forget that some times, friends just need to rant and they don't mean to plant any awful seeds in your thoughts. I know this because sometimes, I do the same. In the heat of some not so ideal moment, I might rant about someone and then on some occassion, hear those opinions repeated and feel awful that I had gone and done that and then get into conflict with my friend since I am the one who had first said it and am now protecting them - ooops! My bad! 

spot the man in my blurry picture
I noticed another thing this week that came with the Oscar Pistouris' news. He has been such a champion in every way to me and this seed of hope and triumph had been so strongly planted in me that when he had that outburst when he lost the 100m, I defended him in my head despite disliking bad sportsmanship. And right now, feel so sorry for him. What I am saying is that equally, once the good seed has been planted, all you see is goodness. 

अहिंसा Ahimsa
The Yoga Sutra chapter 2.35 tells us to practice non harming. This is training our thoughts, words and actions not to cause any physical or mental harm. 

I guess this is about practicing loving kindness. If you practice loving kindness towards all beings, it would be difficult for anyone to plant any unwanted seeds in your thoughts. And even if they did, it would not cause you to react. And you are probably unlikely to plant any horrible seeds yourself.

This applies equally to ourselves. I thought i had written about 'matrika shakti' but I can't seem to find it anywhere. Basically, 'matrika shakti' (energy) stirs in our bodies. It is what vibrates with the energy of seeds that you plant over your life time - this could be from self criticism, low self esteem, etc, or of the opposites. So the words stirs the vibration, the vibration starts to come together and manifest as our thoughts and this then opens us up to the consequences of those words.

It is always helpful to start with ourselves. I heard this somewhere- "who else is more interested in you than you yourself?" So who else can help you best? We work on loving kindness towards ourselves. It is pointless to just eat well and exercise. We have to stop harming ourselves with our own words too. This is challenging. But from my experience (which is on going) when we can do this for ourselves, it is so much easier to do this for those around us.   

Wednesday, 20 February 2013


I am having one of those days on my mat. Everything feels crap. I am disconnected and am unable to reconnect in any pose, not even meditation. It is not that my mind is troubled. Nothing is up! I fell on my face twice. I tried to force through the crap but I have done an hour of.... battle..and have lost today.. oh well...
see you tomorrow, mat.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Sthira - Sukham

sthira (strong, steady, stable) sukham (comfortable, easeful, joyful) asanam (asana, posture)
The practice of yoga should be steady, stable as well as comfortable
-Patanjali, Yoga Sutra 2.46
I remember a time when not much of my practice was sthira or sukham! When i first stepped onto a yoga mat, i could barely sit upright, and my ego and competitiveness would just push and push and push. I think sukham was missing for many years of it. I loved it even then, in all it's un-sukham-ness! But wow! Once it had found me, how incredible did it feel??

It took some time for me to realise that this practice is a journey of un-determined, if not indefinite, time. So it is expected that it will take time to find sthira, sukham. I notice often how frustrated people get with themselves and even how discouraged they become when they try a pose and fall, or wobble or just did not get it. I have been there myself. When i demonstrate* poses in class sometimes and maybe it looks so sthira and sukham, I hope they hear my words that it took years to get here and many years to come in transforming my yoga practice- in my body and in my mind. And really...not finding this (sthira, sukham) right away is a great gift of the practice. When the body is wobbly, the mind becomes so much more focused and starts to understand that the sthira and sukham actually starts from within, not from the physical body, from from deep inside.

* This is also why I hardly demonstrate in class unless necessary. 
I hope it does not come across as laziness hahaha. 

So anyway... never be discouraged. If the person next to you is stable as a statue, remember that they too once flapped their arms, fell on their faces and their bottoms and struggled with all the internal dialogue, and that one day, you will also get there, to a place that feels sthira and sukham.

Enjoy your journey! <3

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Star Dust!

So I was watching the last episode of Africa last night. David Attenborough is a legend of course. He even made his producer shed a tear or two. I certainly did. Some bits were heart breaking; freak draught that killed att the baby elephants in 2009, how our advancing population is pushing animals into smaller and smaller spaces that are not great for their survival, this one Masai warrior who had killed his first lion only to find out that she was pregnant...
And then some bits just gave you so much hope - more tears, but this time, tears of joy!
For example, how this Masai then had a change of heart about killing lions and how now the Masai work on avoiding conflict with lions. Whereas before, they would take the name of the lion they had killed, now, the lions were named after the Masai that protects it. 
What also touched me were all these other warriors out there championing giant efforts to help and protect wildlife. I love the idea of building an underpassage tunnel for the elephants so they can continue roaming (under the road that cut through their park) and more importantly, how they got it right away!

Sorry, i am giving you the whole synopsis of the program.

Anyway, a of couple of hours later, there was Professor Brian Cox show presenting 'The Wonders of Life'. He is the new love of my life LOL. Reinforcing the science that shows how every single living thing on the planet comes from the same source, share the same beginnings, through the explanation of the formation of carbon. The most beautiful science! When the stars within the big bang exploded, carbon was released and this began the building blocks of all living things. We came from start dust!!!!! How much more awesome can it be???
And there were all sorts of lovely tales that followed- watch! watch!

Unfortunately, the morning after was not so great. Stories about this fox that had severed a baby's finger, lots of angry people calling for fox culling, even heard a angry man went on to say we should also cull dogs (i am sure he meant dangerous dogs).
So sad...
I understand that the problem not simple. It is not that I love animals more than people. I love people too. It is sad that we keep seeing animals as the problem when really, we are part of the problem in a big way. But people who work with animals know that it is possible to live together somewhat harmoniously. Animals do it. If they can do it, surely we can too. They have as much right to be here as we do. 

It got me thinking... imagine if one day, all these amazing creatures are gone. I guess we would just be left with "food" and us (& the all important bugs) The problem is, so few of us are in any close contact with these animals that if they were gone, it would not create a vast impact in our lives. We are just too far removed from them. That is why if you ask most people in the city about global warming, they laugh- because they don't feel the impact- they are not polar bears, or Inuits. They are not in Africa, and these small changes do not capture anyone's attention. And as far as environmental impact is concerned, because we have not experienced anything quite like that, it is difficult for people to understand it or believe it, even though it has happened before- just too long ago. Or maybe we have just gotten so used to someone else taking care of "these things".  

Some of human endeavours out there really gives us hope- that as the species blessed with consciousness, empathy, great intellect and great abilities, there are those out there who are truly the hero's of life. And the very least we can do is keep informed with what they do and champion them on with our support. 

Monday, 21 January 2013

Sweet Joy

Last week, I have been meditating on all the sweetness in my life. I find this to be incredibly softening as it makes me realise how little I need or want, those things my head are feeding me to want.  I often need reminding! 
And ultimately all this sweetness can only be sweeter, and in many instances, can only be sweet, if all around me share the same. I find little joy in being happy when no one else around me is happy. I am sure this is true for everyone. So wanting / wishing/ helping others to succeed in their life, is no different from pursuing your own happiness.   

And so 'lokah samastha sukhino bhavantu - may all beings everywhere be happy and free' ultimately is what it is; may we all be happy and free, for this is the only way we can truly be happy and free. 

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

On Mat Challenge

This week, the discussion has been centered around why some yoga poses and methods can be so challenging. I decided to bring this up again because this is a frequently asked question, recently being asked again. Some people feel it is gimmicky, or more acrobatic than yoga, or even, just to show off, which would of course be counter yoga, if there was such a thing ;-)

Since the beginning of consciousness or fire or intellect (i am assuming that this is so), the human race have endeavoured to make life easier. We have achieved this beyond our forefathers'  imagination! We have gone from having to hunt and gather food, to food being delivered straight to our door steps, cooked, if you prefer! Computers and machines help make every day living simple (arguable) And information is available for almost anything you would like to know, at a click of a button! Even adventures have gone mainstream, and we have learnt to avert danger and as we gain more knowledge and information, things become less and less difficult or risky. 

* Hang on, I am not saying that challenging yoga is about taking risk.

It is about facing up to our tendencies. There is a famous saying out there there goes something like "you cannot control what others say or do, but you can control your reaction". For example, if you are in a class and you find that it's a theme that your body really struggles with, but you are already on your mat- how do you react? Some of us take a moment, let the irritation / frustration melt and then do our best and enjoy the class anyway. Some of us, go through the motions while we plan our dinners in our mind. Some of us put on a dissatisfied expression in the hope that the teacher gets it that this is not favoured, and hope it never happens again. Some of us make a quick exit. Stick with the yoga and you begin to recognise the repetition of this tendency, and thoughts, and once you do, the yoga begins. 

Challenging practices really show up a lot of our tendencies; how our ego rejoices when we can do our favourite pose, how our insecurities play up when we are faced with the unknown, how brave we are, how scared we are and most of all, how chatty our minds can be! For me, it is not about doing yoga poses, but about how I experience them - although, please, don't get me wrong, i LOVE doing yoga poses and when you can do them, the are fun! But so much work comes in the approach to doing the asana. It is never ending! And some times, you will find that the thing you disliked the most, you now love, because you had put so much work into it (in your body, mind and spirit)

Challenging practices also teaches me how to soften. It taught me (and continues to remind me) that if I decide not to pay attention to my limitations, then I will be rewarded with consequences. It teaches me that some days, the answer is just no! 

For me, challenging practices are also very meditative. Your mind and breath becomes focused. These poses and sequences require deep concentration and it is also a practice of making commitments. Committing to learning a pose. Committing to stick to learning. Committing to the good stuff and the bad stuff that comes with learning it! :-)

You get all of these and more!  

So that is my answer!
A challenging practice is yoga. 
It is not about gimmicky asana. Perhaps at the beginning it will feel like it is all about gimmicky asana. Along the way, you may even start to learn things about yourself without realising it. Not long after, you will start to realise the changes. And eventually, you will realise it is just all about you. And how the impressions from your practice affects your relationship to everything and everyone around you :-)))