Setting an Intention for 2019….Better Relationship(s)

How easy is it to set an intention for your practice?  Find strength and flexibility; develop appreciation; be present; find inner peace; don’t categorise yourself, love everyone.  An intention is different from a goal.  A goal is achieved or it isn’t.  An intention has the aim of improvement.  My intention:  I need to be better at the relationship stuff……

I love Ashtanga Yoga and everything related to it.  It equates to my daily life, personality and my pitta dosha.  I love structure, operations, discipline, knowing what comes next, familiarity, challenge, longevity, sustainability, labels.  Ultimately, Ashtanga Yoga has always suited me as I like everything to be ‘just so.’  Anyone close to me will know me and my ‘just so-ness’ and how difficult I can be with spontaneity and not knowing what comes next or deviating from the plan; my need for control, the desire to manage.  Right or wrong, no in-between.  We’re long term or we’re nothing.  My way, or the highway, jog on!!!

I don’t need or want to be like this anymore.

When I started practicing Vinyasa Flow, it was challenging but it was what I needed.  I had set the intention of losing frame and structure, the need for familiarity, the need to know what comes next, the labels.  I have developed a keen sense of awareness as to what I need to do to my body to get into postures that had never featured in my Ashtanga Yoga practice, postures and shapes that had no names or labels.  I was out of my comfort zone.

Just as I have let go of that set sequence of postures, I am doing my best to let go of routine and structure.  I try to be more spontaneous, I eat lunch late and skip breakfast, I work when I choose to and rest when I feel like it.  I try to live life intuitively rather than to schedule.  Sometimes, I practice in the afternoon, there’s a thing.  It doesn’t matter to me if I am working or not; teaching or practicing; vegie, vegan or eating fish/meat.  Julia Gavin Yoga or Kranti Yoga; Nicaragua or Goa; east or west.  There are less labels for sure.  That’s pretty yogi, right?  So why do I need to put a label on my relationship status or the person I am with.  Why do I still need to do that?

I am still miles away from being where I want to be.  I have made significant progress with spontaneity but I am still far from the free spirit that I would like to be, contrary to being perceived as the freest of spirits.  I think it’s affecting my relationships.

A beautiful, yet far from perfect, relationship has just come to an end (for now!)  I am living with the regret that I tried to label and define it, we both did.  We both tried to put labels and boundaries on each other that weren’t necessary, ironically against the ethos of what we both believe in.  I looked too far into the future instead of enjoying the here and now.  He put labels on it that weren’t agreeable to me and I tried to do the same to him.  Fundamentally, we wanted the same things out of it: no commitment to a ‘regular’ relationship, being in the moment, having time together when it suited us both, enjoying that unquestionable chemistry.  Had we not have had those conversations about commitment, the future and trying to define ‘us,’ I believe that we could have continued, even from opposite sides of the globe, knowing that it was never going to be forever.  It was not like I was going to move in with him…I’m a free spirit, I live out of a bag and I don’t do winters.

What happened to my intention in this area of my life?  Why did we try to label each other?  It was what it was yet we made it so difficult.  We ended it pretty poorly.

So, it’s possibly done and all I can do is learn, let go and move on.  I don’t aspire to have a relationship that is fuelled by future plans and labels, but that is how it seemed.  I just want to flow in the company of someone who ignites a special chemistry and see what it flows into.  Maybe 2019 will provide the opportunity and maybe it won’t.  It won’t matter as I will not label it as ‘mattering.’

So, as I flow into 2019, regarding relationship stuff, my mantra is this:
What will be will be and it doesn’t matter what it is called and how long it is going to last.  It doesn’t matter whether we are friends or more than friends.  Just accept who is close and appreciate what they bring for however long that may be, at whatever distance.

Love and light to everyone out there, I hope this resonates with some you and I am not alone here!!  Yes, I have opted for an alternative lifestyle and there are pros and cons, in general it is great but I need to stick to my intention, aim for improvement, especially where relationships are concerned.

Have a great year and I hope paths cross soon.
Julia xxx

Upcoming dates for 2019
5th January:  200 hrs YTTC in Vinyasa Flow and Ashtanga Yoga, Nicaragua
3rd February:  300 hrs YTTC in Vinyasa Flow, Ashtanga Yoga and Yin, Goa
5th March:  300 hrs YTTC in Vinyasa Flow, Ashtanga Yoga and Yin, Goa
4th April: 300 hrs YTTC in Vinyasa Flow, Ashtanga Yoga and Yin, Goa
8th June: 200 hrs YTTC in Vinyasa Flow and Ashtanga Yoga, Nicaragua
November: 200 hrs YTTC in Vinyasa Flow and Ashtanga Yoga, Nicaragua


What is Ashtanga Yoga?

Whether you are in India or Nicaragua, Ashtanga Yoga is a set sequence of postures that links breath with movement.  There are 6 series to work through.  It was developed in the 50s in Mysore, India by Sri K. Patthabi Jois and is now taught worldwide (yes, even in Nicaragua) with very little deviation from how the practice was intended.

Ashtanga Yoga has 4 features that are applicable to each of the 6 series.

  • Bandhas
    These are locks within the body that work with the movement of energy.  Mula Bandha is the root lock and will provide an uplift of energy from the base of your spine.  Uddiyana Bandha is your stomach lock and protects your lower back as well as allowing for deeper access into the postures.
  • Breath
    Ashtanga Yoga is known for its Victorious Breath, Ujjai Breath. This is the hissing sound that is created as you exhale.  If you become familiar to this rhythm, it will allow you to induce a meditative state.  If your breath becomes forced or unsteady, you can use this as a benchmark to say that you have gone too deep into the posture.  We continue to breath in and out of the mouth in order to retain the heat in the body.  This helps us to be more flexible and rid the body of toxins as we sweat.
  • Drishti
    This is simply the focal point of each of the postures. There is a focal point for each and every posture.  This will help to keep the focus on the mat and avoid checking out what is happening around you.  It encourages sense withdrawal which is necessary for meditation.
  • Vinyasa
    The vinyasas link the postures together allowing the sequence to flow fluidly. The Upward and Downward Dog help to reset the body like counter postures. The Chaturanga Dandasana, press up position, will help build strength and shoulder stability.  The vinyasa will undoubtedly help build the necessary heat that you need in your body to complete the backbending part of the series.

The practice should be considered as a Movement Meditation.  This means that there is a point of focus throughout your time on your mat.  This will vary depending on how familiar you are with the sequence.  If you are new to the sequence, your point of concentration will be to remember the order and integrity of each of the postures.  If you are more familiar, you will focus on these 4 things and allow your body to move automatically through the sequence be it the Primary Series or one of the later series.

Ashtanga Yoga is a 6-day practice and should be completed before breakfast, early in the morning.  And yes, whether in India or further afield, in Nicaragua it is always a pleasure to have completed this traditional practice.

Join me in January for 200 hrs YTTC in Ashtanga and Restorative Yoga,
an exploration of strength and flexibility.


Ashtanga Yoga, Nicaragua….What’s In A Name??

I just finished hosting an Ashtanga Yoga Retreat here in Nicaragua titled An Exploration of Stretch and Strength.  It was a huge success and I believe that my guests left with a whole new passion for Ashtanga Yoga that they hadn’t necessarily arrived with.  I suppose it is fair to say that if I can get kids to enthuse about learning algebra (under duress) then it should be pretty easy to share my passion of Ashtanga Yoga with adults who share my love of yoga.

We practised a modified Primary Series each morning.  Afternoon workshops were delivered on release techniques and strengthening exercises, all geared towards the advancement of Ashtanga Yoga.  We released the front, back and side lines and then identified postures that relied on these lines.  We strengthened the glutes and then mapped out the use of the glutes through the Primary Series.  We spent a full session on shoulder stability and the use of the armpit bandha.  It was Ashtanga Yoga at it’s technical best.

And yes, by the end of the week, there was significant progress not just physically but mentally as well……practice became more focused, the mind became stiller.  Students reaped the benefits of practising Ashtanga Yoga with me and yes, they really liked it.  But still I dare not market my product as A Week of Ashtanga Yoga, Nicaragua!!!

So, what is in a name??  Why does a retreat called An Exploration of Stretch and Strength have so much more appeal than Ashtanga Yoga Retreat?  Julia’s Breathe and Release Camp…a great name but the reality is that I would still teach a whole heap of Ashtanga Yoga and all that is related to it.  Why does the mention of Ashtanga Yoga have a similar stigmatism attached to it, a similar stigmatism attached to it as the mere mention of algebra…..I can’t do it; it’s too hard; it doesn’t make sense; I’m going to fail.

So, what to do?  An Exploration of Stretch and Strength, Nicaragua…..I think this just about covers it or is it false advertising.  Your thoughts please!!


My very first Ashtanga Yoga student in Nicaragua!!

Julia and CarolinI just said goodbye to Carolin, my very first Ashtanga Yoga Student in Nicaragua.  Here is a small interview from her about the week:

So, what’s been happening this week at Los Clavos Surf Resort?? 
Julia specialises in Ashtanga Yoga which I hadn’t knowingly done before. We practiced the Primary Series throughout the week, a 90 minute early morning class. Before lunch, we had the Alignment Class during which we focused on Ashtanga Yoga postures in heaps of detail.   This was a one to one class. Later in the afternoon, we had a Restorative Flow or a Release Class with the other guests staying at the resort.

Had you practiced Ashtanga Yoga before coming to Nicaragua?
No. I had done Vinyasa Flow and Power Yoga. These are based on Ashtanga Yoga postures but I never completed the full Primary Series. I was used to freestyle, dynamic sequencing rather than a set series.

What significant differences have you experienced in your yoga practice since coming ti Nicaragua?
I now have much better alignment in  my postures and can bend deeper into them. With Julia’s help, I know how to improve an Ashtanga Yoga practice. Also, she really helped me to bring awareness to my breath.

And how is Los Clavos Surf Resort, Nicaragua?
Fabulous. It’s a super beautiful spot, far away from civilization and directly on the beach. The setting of the yoga space is magnificent and it is easy to focus on your Ashtanga Yoga practice as you can to listen to the birds, the ocean as well as your own breath. It feels like the world stands still.  It really is an amazing spot in Nicaragua.

What are you 5 best things about the week?
Yoga, Eat, Sleep, Repeat (does that count as 4­?)
Feeling the improvement in my practice
Meditation on the beach

If you had to rename the ‘Intensive Yoga Week.’  What would it be?
Julia’s Breathe and Release Camp HAHA

Anything else? 
Los Clavos Surf Camp, Nicaragua is amazing!!!