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On going nowhere…

As someone who has been crossing continents alone since the age of 19, I’ve always found delight in movement; but since returning to Brisbane following 8 months of intense travel, there’s a sense of contentment in knowing that, at least for a while, I’ll be going nowhere…

On recent travels I have seen some incredible locations throughout the world, met wonderful people and both taught and attended life-changing workshops and retreats; But in rushing from one experience to the next without a pause, the potency of these experiences hasn’t had a chance to sink into my being.

So, these past two weeks, I have been still. I have taken time to reflect and ruminate on these adventures and in sitting still, the experience has acquired meaning and grown deeper. I’ve begun to convert the sights I have seen into lasting insights.

Going nowhere… in other words choosing to sit still long enough to turn inward, is the ultimate adventure that makes sense of everything else.

The idea of being in stillness has been around as long as humans have; the poets of East Asia, the philosophers of Ancient Greece and Rome, regularly made stillness the centre of their lives. But has the need for being in one place ever been as vital as it is right now? After a thirty-year study of time diaries, two sociologists found that Americans were actually working fewer hours than they did in the 1960s, but were feeling as if they were working more. I’m sure the feeling is the same throughout much of the western world. There is a sense, too often, of running at top speed and never being able to catch up.

Know the feeling?

I’m offering one last Restorative experience this year to help you slow down and find peace and calm in the stillness…

Restorative Yoga Afternoon Retreat
Sunday 15th December, 2-4pm
SoHo Yoga Ascot
$43 per person
Bookings essential.
Email to reserve your spot
(online booking isn’t yet available as I really have been sitting in stillness, free from technology)

I’d love to see you there!
Kirsty x

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What are YOU saying YES to?

“It takes courage to say yes to rest and play in a culture where exhaustion is seen as a status symbol.” ~ Brene Brown 

I love how a new year holds so much possibility. It’s a clean slate, a fresh start, a new chapter to be filled with whatever we choose. Yes, there will always be responsibilities and routines in life, but that doesn’t mean we have to keep doing things in the same old way.

In our Rest.Restore.Renew: Yoga & Actualisation workshop last week, participants were offered an opportunity to co-create the script for 2019. We took time to acknowledge what was learnt in 2018 in order to step into the new year with awareness and intention – a powerful combination!

When tuning into how they’d like this fresh new year to feel, these wonderful women shared:

“This year I will nourish myself by spending quality time with each of my family members.”
“I will recharge my batteries by enjoying regular walks in nature.”
“I will release my attachment to being busy!”
“I will say yes to rest.”

How often rest beckons yet we resist! It seems that now, more than ever, we need gentle reminders that we are human beings, not human doings.

This year, I too am making a personal commitment to slowing down and un-filling my life in order to create space for rest, spontaneity and play.

27 days into the new year, this has meant:

  • several visits to Mount Glorious and other beautiful nature parks around Brisbane – sharing precious time with friends and family members.
  • I’ve finally(!) downloaded Spotify and rediscovered the joy of soul-nourishing tunes and spontaneous lounge room dance sessions.
  • an extra-long restorative savasana to end each day.
  • a renewed sense of joy in the every day!

So, tell me

  • how will you nourish yourself?
  • how will you recharge your batteries?
  • what will you say YES to? What will you say NO to?

I’d love to hear your responses over on Instagram.

Scroll down to find my upcoming offerings to nourish and recharge your batteries as we move into February and beyond.

Upcoming Offerings:

  • I’m offering just three more Restorative Yoga Afternoon Retreats in Brisbane before my UK & Europe Tour. These sessions will be held at the brand new SoHo Yoga, Grange studio. Choose your date (or dates) and book online early to avoid disappointment.
    Sunday 3rd February, 2-4pm *FULLY BOOKED – email to join wait list*
    Sunday 3rd March, 2-4pm *filling fast*
    Sunday 31st March, 2-4pm
  • I’m teaming up with Yoga-NRG Founder, Tammy Williams, to offer Mindfulness-based Restorative Yoga Teacher Training Module on the Sunshine Coast, 8th-10th February, 2019. This is an opportunity for those wishing to dive deeper into the practice of restorative yoga or learn the skills and techniques to share it with others. *FULLY BOOKED – email to join wait list*
  • a truly nourishing Yoga + Walking Retreat in the stunning Scottish Highlands.
  • private therapeutic yoga sessions.

I hope you find something here that aligns with what you’re creating for yourself in 2019.

Have a wonderful rest of the month and I look forward to seeing you on (or off) the mat soon.

Kirsty x

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Relax . Restore . Renew: Yoga & Actualisation Workshop

In this reflective & interactive workshop, Kirsty Innes will guide you through some powerful yet gentle yoga and meditation-based processes to help you gain clarity on why you aren’t getting what you want in your life and help shift the mental patterns & beliefs that are blocking your path to success. You’ll identify the many blessings already present around you, then start to connect with your deepest desires in all areas of your life. By the end of the workshop, you’ll feel nourished in body, mind and spirit and have a clearer picture of what you want in life, as well as some practical and simple steps to help you achieve the success you desire.

During our 3 hours together we will:
• enjoy restorative yoga poses and guided meditations to uncover your deepest desires and release blockages
• plan for success and abundance in all aspects of your life
• learn tips for working towards achieving your goals
• gather tools to keep you focused, balanced and nurtured throughout the year ahead

Relax, Restore & Renew: Yoga & Actualisation Workshop
Saturday 19th January, 9:30am-12:30pm
Venue: Home Studio. Bardot Street, McDowall 4053
Investment: $60

Suitable for all levels. No previous yoga experience necessary.

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Newmains United Football Club Do Yoga!

How does your yoga practice support you in your every day life?

One of the greatest gifts of yoga is that it can can be adapted to suit any body and used for so many different purposes!

When working with clients, whether individuals or groups, my aim is to help them build a toolbox of practices which will support them through the physical and mental demands of their every day life.

For the the guys at Newmains United Football Club this meant developing acute body awareness and mental focus for those intense moments on the field. Their unique program worked on building strength and stability in all of the muscle groups while finding softness in areas of tightness, such as the hips which can often become tight through players repetitive end-range movements.

Watch the video to hear what the players had to say about their yoga program.

Film work: Jack Hunter and Elizabeth j brown photography
Editing: Jack Hunter

Newmains United Football Club

Kirsty Innes Yoga & Wellbeing
Instagram @kirstyinnesyoga

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Restorative Yoga vs. Yin Yoga – What’s the difference?

If you’ve been practicing at yoga studios for any length of time, you might have noticed a recent trend that’s gently sweeping over studio timetables… Yin Yoga and Restorative Yoga.  So… what are they all about? How are they different to ‘normal’ yoga? Are Yin Yoga and Restorative Yoga essentially the same thing? Well no, and yes. Let me explain…

The term “yin” comes from the Taoist tradition. A yin activity is based on finding stillness and cooling the body. The opposite of yin is yang. Yang relates to movement, often repetitive movement, creating heat in the body. And, the theory goes, we need both to come into balance in order to stay in optimum condition. Yang activities include running, cycling and some vigorous forms of yoga, such as ashtanga vinyasa and Bikram yoga (the hot one!). If we do ONLY yang activities over a prolonged period, our body can suffer fatigue and burnout.

A yin style of yoga is practiced without much exertion, usually sitting or lying on the floor. There are no planks, no warriors, no core work. No dynamic sun salutations or standing poses. In Yin, the pace is slow. Another main difference between a Yin and Yang yoga practice is that Yin postures are done with the muscles relaxed and held for a long time.

Restorative Yoga is a very slow-paced style of yoga involving the use of props (sometimes lots of props) to allow the body to feel totally supported so that the physical, mental and visceral bodies can begin to relax and release. Restorative yoga is often prescribed to students who are injured, stressed or ill and who need a very gentle practice to regain their strength. In theory, this sounds very yin compared to many yang Hatha yoga practices that include strong dynamic movements to energising tunes.  So, in many ways, restorative yoga is
yin but is it, Yin Yoga?

Yin Yoga, as a style of yoga, was popularised (and, in a sense, branded) by Paul Grilley and Sarah Powers, and is very different from Restorative Yoga. Yin Yoga encompasses long held, static stresses of the deep connective tissues, allowing them to be remodelled. It may include props and it does include long holds and mindfully reducing stress but it is not intended to renew ailing bodies in the way that Restorative Yoga does. In fact, Yin Yoga can still involve a lot of hard work. Like in Restorative, Yin Yoga also involves long holds of relaxed muscles, but the focus is on effectuating long, passive stretches on joints and ligaments. It is specifically
designed to access the meridians flowing through the body’s deep connective tissues.

Yoga teacher, Annette Knopp, gives a great example of how the same pose can be approached differently in the different styles of yoga. Let’s take the example of a Seated Forward Bend, or Pachimottanasana.  In more Yang Yoga styles, you activate your leg muscles, you engage bhandas and the muscles along the spine to lengthen your torso, and then tilt forward from your hip. In the same pose in Restorative Yoga we would place big bolsters and pillows under the torso, so we would lean forward, but resting and supported by the bolsters.

In Yin Yoga we also lean over our extended legs, but with the spine round and the muscles of spine, neck and head relaxed.  We don’t stretch and engage muscles or energetic locks to get deeper into the pose, nor would we support our torso up like in Restorative Yoga. While initially appearing easy, like lying around Restorative Yoga may actually be seen as an advanced form of
yoga, more akin to meditation, where we have the time to observe sensations, our breath, our emotions and mind, and where we may welcome all of these experiences. This is not necessarily easy at all. Through this practice, we may come face to face with aspects of ourselves which are not comfortable to be with. In more active Yoga we may be so busy with our we don’t give ourselves the time and space to notice these deeper levels. (ref: Neal Ghoshal)

It is sometimes questioned whether we need as many props as we do in a Restorative Yoga practice. The answer is yes. Whatever posture we practice, whether it’s a forward bend or backward bend, inversion or supine, we set ourselves up so that every joint in our body is supported and we can allow gravity itself to work its magic and release held tension. Every posture should feel sustainable and incredibly comfortable. New Zealand-based Yoga teacher, Neal Ghoshal, suggests that without the distraction of an uncomfortable body, we have the freedom to soften and release deeply, to ease through layers of tension, into profound relaxation, quietness and stillness. Why stillness? The simple answer is to quote a much-loved teacher who now resides in the USA – Baba Hari Das: When the mind is silent, the heart speaks. The language of the heart is love, compassion and peace.

The more we can anchor into this ground of silence (and Restorative Yoga gives us the tools for this), the more we may respond to whatever happens in our life from our True Nature, which is love, compassion, peace and kindness.

Kirsty Innes offers regular Restorative Yoga Afternoon Retreats and customised Private Sessions. She is also co-facilitating a wonderful Mindfulness-Based Restorative Yoga Teacher Training in February 2019 on the beautiful Sunshine Coast, Australia.

References and inspiration:
Yin Yoga: Outline of a quiet practice by Paul Grilley
Relax and Renew by Judith Hanson Lasater
Inspiration from teachings and writings of Donna Farhi, Neal Ghoshal and Sarah Powers.

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Restorative Yoga and Mindfulness: Complementary Practices to Promote Relaxation and Optimal Wellbeing

Both mindfulness and restorative yoga have the same desired outcomes: a quieter mind, reduced stress, a sense of calm and an overall improved sense of wellbeing. While both of these practices can lead us to those outcomes, the paths to get there are quite different. Let’s dive a little deeper into these two distinct practices…

The intent of restorative yoga is to provide optimal condition for self healing through deep rest. Marinating for 10-20 minutes in each fully-supported restorative pose allows the nervous system to reset, bringing us out of the flight or fight mode of the sympathetic nervous system and into the parasympathetic system’s functions of rest and digest. An important recalibration for many of us who operate mostly from a place of overstimulation and busy-ness.

There are some contradictory ideas around the ‘best’ way to practice restorative yoga. One school of thought suggest that, the practice is purely physical poses and once in a pose, no further effort is required. While I agree with this in terms of physical body, I know for myself that, when the physical body is given this opportunity to slow down, the mind can often jump in to fill the void. So, while the body rests, the mind wanders. This is where the gift of mindfulness comes in…

Mindfulness is the practice of being present.  It is about noticing and contemplating thoughts and feelings and focusing the mind. One way we might do this in a restorative yoga practice is to bring our awareness to the breath, to use it as an anchor to the present moment. Students time and again report that practicing mindfulness and restorative in combination allows them to go deeper into both, leaving them with an even greater sense of insight, relaxation and renewal.

Of course, the best way to truly understand how these practices weave so perfectly together is to come along and experience it for yourself.

Kirsty Innes runs regular Restorative Yoga Afternoon Retreats in Brisbane. Upcoming Sessions are:
+ Sunday 2nd December 2018, 2-4pm at Soho Yoga, Ascot
+ Sunday 13th January 2019, 2-4pm at SohoYoga, Ascot

For those wishing to dive deeper into the practice or learn the skills and techniques to share it with others, Kirsty Innes is joining with Tammy Williams of Yoga NRG for a very special Mindfulness Based Restorative Yoga Teacher Training module on the Sunshine Coast in February 2019.

Kirsty will also be offering Restorative Yoga Afternoon Retreats and Teacher Training in the UK and Europe on her 2019 tour.


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Donna Farhi: Yoga for Lower Back Pain Mini Video Tutorials

Donna has recorded an introductory ten-part tutorial series to introduce the main concepts in her longer online course Keys to Sacroiliac Stability and Ease and Movement. These 5-12 minute video tutorials will be released one every 2 days from 16 May until 03 June. Click on the link below to learn more, and subscribe now to gain complimentary access to over an hour of teaching, and feel free to share these videos with colleagues and student

This last year gave Donna unique insights into the challenges faced when the sacroiliac joints are unstable. Like many yoga practitioners, she has suffered from intermittent SIJ issues, but she had largely resolved these through the strengthening activities of horse riding for two decades. Last year she had a bad fall which fractured her pelvis in two places leaving her with debilitating hypermobility in her left SIJ. The long process of rehabilitation has proven to her that it is possible to heal and restore sacroiliac stability.

Although this personal perspective is new, instability and discomfort in the sacroiliac joints (SIJ) is commonplace throughout our community and is getting worse with the current emphasis on extreme range-of-motion. Teaching around the world over the last three decades, she has witnessed how frequent SIJ problems are. Varying from chronic low-grade discomfort to debilitating pain without respite, SIJ issues are often resistant to standard interventions. But her experience has renewed her confidence that gentle Yoga therapy can be an effective strategy for recovery.

Earlier this year she designed a course, based on her extensive research and robust evidence, to help Yoga teachers and their students to learn how to prevent sacroiliac problems and also how to restore stability and ease when function has been compromised. She believes we have an obligation as teachers to be better informed and equipped to prevent this unnecessary suffering.

The videos can be accessed here.