Thursday, March 26, 2015

Student guest blog: Sunshine after the Storm

by Chantal Capes, Zuna Yoga 200 hour teacher trainee

Why Zuna Yoga? I wanted to become a yoga teacher. I liked yoga and it had a calming influence on me - so important, considering the heavy responsibilities I carry at work. The Zuna Yoga 200 hour program was the right timing, just far enough away (19 hours flying) from my daily life to create the needed separation, and had lots of great reviews. I also had a personal referral from a friend who had already done a Zuna Yoga teacher training.

Boom! I made a bold choice and booked my training. My journey started in London... a busy lifestyle full of stress, a lack of sleep and a general fear. A fear of what people thought of me, was I performing well enough, was I making the right choices, body image issues, etc. Most of us experience a fear of losing what we're attached to. I stepped away from it, into the unknown. And there I was, on the remote Indonesian island of Gili Meno, near Bali and Lombok.

Bang! The thunder roared in timing with lightning that burnt your retinas whilst eyes were closed. The ground trembled and my heart stopped each time. Our first day started during a terrific thunderstorm. It was a truly incredible and powerful asana practice and meditation. The weather terrified me. I had never experienced anything like it, not in the UK or on any of my travels. After a couple days, I was able to stop worrying and surrender to the power of nature. Then the sun shined brightly, continually for the remaining two weeks.
My new bff's

The accommodation was raw, organic and set in the jungle. No walls, no doors and a safe environment ... other than the sneaky handful of mosquitoes that managed to get me.

The bonding amongst the group was amazing... the friendships I've gained will last a lifetime. It's a 19 strong, unique family with 4 trainers who were like our elders.

The course consisted of 18 girls and one guy, such a fabulous group of Kiwis, Aussies, Swedish, Swiss, Canadian, American, Portugese, Scottish, Indonesian and moi, the only Londoner.
The backgrounds varied from singers, models, scientist, designers, New Scotland Yard Detective (me) etc. Every night someone had a great story to tell.

The asana and meditation practices were incredible, changing my daily mood and outlook on my own life. I was able to let go of my fear of what people thought of me, and now when that voice creeps in, I ignore it and do what I want to do. The effect already has been so positive. I am the boss of my mind and body. No more wasted energy.

The depth of knowledge you gain and the understanding what yoga really is. I never truly appreciated how the heart of yoga began, where it started, how it developed, who used it, communities that developed since about 4000BC, the history, architecture, founders of the many forms, ashtanga (not the branding since 1950 - originally purely spiritual), then the asanas, breathing techniques, health benefits (body and mind).... the list is endless!

Hands-on learning
The trainers: yoga masters sharing their personal journeys and not judging any of us or predetermining the path we should take. It was refreshing to learn and be able decide for myself what I wanted to achieve and take from the 200 hours.

My main concern when I looked for a yoga teacher training course was the quality of training and to avoid a company with no knowledge of the level of their instructors other than their certificates. You will not be disappointed should you be lucky enough to study with Zuna Yoga... an intimate team, all incredibly knowledgeable. 

Zuna Yoga has been the perfect choice and a great compliment to my recent certification as a Remedial Sports therapist with the North London School of Sports Massage. It's expanding my knowledge, not only of anatomy, but also in creating a recipe of recovery exercises to strengthen and lengthen muscle groups and create space in the body and mind. All requirements for a healthy lifestyle.

This has been an incredible journey. Not only I have I learnt the necessary skills to become a yoga teacher, but I have also learnt so much more about myself.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Prepping for your destination yoga teacher training

by Hannah Liot, Zuna Yoga 200 hour yoga teacher training student

Traveling is a wonderful experience, especially when you can combine it with an amazing yoga event. However, the travel part doesn’t come without some stress. To ease any anxiety, we put together a few yogi reminders and tips to help you prepare for your next trip. Keep these things in mind whether you’re getting ready for the teacher training in Gili Meno, dreaming of your training program later in the spring or tossing around the idea of signing up for a 200, 300 or 500 Zuna Yoga teacher training.

The first and probably most stressful part of traveling is actually getting there. Whether you are traveling for 24 hours or 4 hours, flights can be tough on the body and leave you feeling cramped and stiff. Deep vein thrombosis is also a major side effect of flying. It’s a serious, potentially life-threatening medical condition where the circulation in the body decreases and the blood clots. It can occur from a combination of sitting for long periods of time and air pressure change. However, doing a few simple Yoga poses and stretches before, during and after your flight can stimulate your blood flow, ease jet lag and help reenergize your whole system. 

Three amazing poses to try while you are seated: 

Seated twist

Simply hold onto the seats around you and twist your torso. This pose helps to create a deep stretch in the back and also gives your organs a soothing massage, helping your body to re-energize. 

Gomukhasana (cow face pose)

For this posture position your arms so that your hands meet between your shoulder blades and lean back slightly, feeling the stretch in your arms, upper shoulders and back. This pose also opens your chest, which will balance your body from the concave position the airplane chairs naturally put us in.

Aginstambhasana, Ankle to knee Pose or Fire Log Pose

For this posture place your foot on your knee. You can do this with one leg at a time or with both legs simultaneously. To feel a little more, you can deepen the stretch by leaning forward. This posture is great for creating circulation in the legs and creating space in your hips, which can become very tight and stiff after sitting for a few hours. 

If you’re up for it, there is also a small and easy standing sequence to try. You can do it in the aisle, or find a peaceful space in the back of the plane. The sequence helps stretch and soften the body, stimulate blood flow and calm the mind. 

Start in Tadasana, Mountain Pose. Take a moment for yourself and connect with your breath. With your breath, move to Uttanasana, forward bend. Exhale to Ardha Uttanasana, half forward bend, with your back straight and head looking forward. On your next breath move to Utthita Trikonasana, Extended Triangle Pose. Take a few breaths here and repeat on the other side. With the next breath, move into Vrksasana, treepose. While here, practice some equalized breathing techniques. Inhale for a count of 4 or 5 and exhale for the same amount of time. Finally, relax back into your chair. For the sake of helping you to relax, lets call it seated savasana. Let your thoughts peacefully drift away and fall into a deep sleep for the rest of the flight. 

The other challenging aspect of traveling is packing. You have to make sure you have all the essentials, without overdoing it. We put together a short list of items that are fundamentals when you do an exotic destination yoga teacher training or retreat. 

Things to check off your packing list: 
  • Lightweight Yoga Clothes 
  • Yoga Mat & Cleaner (we love Herbal Essentials yoga wipes)
  • Sunscreen & hat, you don’t want to be sunburned while doing downward dog!
  • Mosquito repellent. Bug bites are the worst!
  • Swimwear and a beach towel. Even though the main focus is yoga ,there will always be a time to jump in the ocean, waterfall or river nearby. 
  • Sarong. They can be used for anything from a beach cover up to blanket during savasana.  
  • Refillable water bottle. Stay hydrated and help the environment!
  • Adapter for electronics. You’ll want a charger so you can upload those exciting photos of you finally mastering that challenging yoga pose!
  • Notebook & Pen. To study and takes notes with or to keep a personal journal with. 
  • Required Reading for your yoga teacher training
Lastly, when you are traveling it can be difficult to find the unique and special places to visit. Even choosing which sights to see with limited time can be overwhelming. Since you are taking the time and energy to go to a destination yoga teacher training or retreat, it’s nice if you can maximize your time abroad and explore the surrounding area. Always contact Zuna Yoga for suggestions, were happy to help! As for the Zuna Yogis who will be coming to Gili Meno and Bali, we wanted to share some of our favorite places around Indonesia!
  • Borobodur, the largest Buddhist temple in the world, located in central Java. Just an hour's flight from Denpasar, Bali.
  • Air Panas Banjar natural hot springs in the tropical Balinese forest next to a beautiful Buddhist monastery. 
  • Balinese hot springs
  • Visiting the Yogi community in Ubud and going to see the stunning Tegenungan waterfall just outside of the town. 
Traveling is a wonderful experience that should involve a limited amount of stress. As you prepare for your next big adventure, connect to your inner yogi and keep these tips in mind. You will have an unforgettable trip! 

Friday, February 27, 2015

Cambodia yoga teacher training contest

Need a reason to book your Cambodia yoga teacher training this year?  How about a chance to win $500 OFF!?

Engage with us through all of our Social media channels for a chance to win $500 off your 200, 300 or 500 hour Yoga Teacher training in Cambodia at the Vine Retreat in December 2015 and January 2016. 

 Here's how it works: 

Angkor Wat
1) Go to our website:, and sign up for our newsletter. 

2) Follow us on Facebook & Instagram. Watch all week (February 28 - March 7)  for our Cambodia pics, and comment, telling us you want to win $500 to join the #zunatribe in Cambodia for #zunayogateachertraining. 

3) Get a bonus entry every time you tag a friend on Facebook, Share the post, or @ a friend in comments on Instagram. 

The Vine Retreat
4) Also get bonus entries for following us on Pinterest, following us and Tweeting @zunayoga, following us on Google+, or LinkingIn with us. 

Entries will be pulled out of a hat, so get those numbers up! Have fun and watch for fun posts about Cambodia every day! 

Good luck everyone!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

The yogic diet: ancient nutrition for modern living

by Hannah Liot, Zuna Yoga 200 hour student

Between the genetically modified and processed foods we're offered and the various diet advertisements pushed on us, it is hard to know in what direction to take your diet. While there are new diet ideas rotating around the Internet and in health magazines, the Yogic and Ayurvedic diets have been around for thousands of years. They have been developed and accessed by many great yogis to balance the body and stimulate the mind. Whether you are a strict yogi dietitian, or simply interested in a healthy lifestyle, learning about this ancient diet draws the connection between Yoga and our food.

The Yogic diet is referred to as the Sattvic diet, a regime that supports peace, love and awareness. The first and most important aspect of the Yogic diet is how the food is raised and prepared. Whether it's vegetable or animal products, it's important to be mindful of where your food is coming from. Poor food originates from bad soil and animal mistreatment. The use of chemical fertilizers or insecticides, premature picking, artificial ripening and preservatives all deprive the beautiful fruits and vegetables of their energetic and nutritional value. To engage in a yogic diet, we must reduce the amount of "bad" food that we consume and to consciously choose foods that have been farmed with awareness and love. Eating foods that are grown in harmony with the environment and are cooked with awareness carry Prana and high vibrations, which transition into our bodies and our minds. Try visiting your local farm stands or look for local, fresh vegetables in your grocery stores. Often the best option is to grow your own vegetables. Not only does it benefit your whole being, but it is a fun and beautiful experience! 

Great and experienced yogis have been known to sustain themselves on minimal, simplistic diets, consisting of raw foods, water, fruit, milk, ghee and fasts. Yogis in retreat often live off of wild foods as part of their spiritual path and to deepen their connection with nature. The ultimate goal of the yogic diet is to use food as an aid in spiritual development. When used in combination with Pranayama, asana and meditation, these particular foods are recognized by yogis to deepen the connection with the mind and to reduce physical awareness, while increasing detachment. While the great yogis are able to benefit from this form of eating, developing yogis require a wholesome diet, more aligned to the ayurvedic diet. 

The energy in our food

Incorporated into the yogic diet, of course, is the spiritual science and connection between the elements, foods and your body. 

Pranic foods have high vibrational energy and consist of food such as leafy greens, and sprouts. Vegetables that grow fast and in the spring, when pranic energy is as its fullest. These types of foods have a stimulating, cooling and purifying influence on the body and are best paired with herbs such as ginger, coriander or mint. 

Apanic foods promote earth elements in the body and consist of root vegetables such as, mushrooms, potatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes and herbs like ginseng and tonic. These foods support strength and endurance. 

Samana foods have a balancing effect on the body’s system and consist of whole grains, rice and pre-digested foods such as dairy, honey and raw sugars. These foods are nourishing and easy to digest but must be taken in small amounts. 

Vyana foods strengthen and stimulate our bodies energy system, helping our minds to expand. These kinds of foods grow and expand on the ground. They consist of vegetables and fruit such as squash, melons, strawberries, tomatoes and beans. 

Udana is food that grows in the air and contains the ether element. These foods consist of mainly nuts and fruits and are known to nourish the mind and heart. 

To cook or not to cook, that is the question

The Yogic & Ayurvedic diet consists of mainly a vegetarian diet. While many people are drawn to raw food, traditionally yogic and ayurvedic diets promote cooking vegetables and using raw food for only small periods of time and for detox purposes only. Raw foods increase the air elements, are difficult to digest and can easily imbalance the digestive system. Cooked foods promote earth, water and fire elements in the body, which help the digestive track and strengthen the body. The yogic, Ayurvedic diet suggests that the best path is to maintain an equilibrium by having a plate with 10 to 20 percent raw foods such as cucumbers, radishes, carrots, tomatoes and herbs, with 80 to 90 percent cooked vegetables, beans or grains in your diet. 

Detox and Cleansing

There is also a wide range of new cleanses and detoxes that have been brought to the attention of the health oriented community. The Yogic & Ayurvedic diet does support detoxes. However, it is important to be mindful of your body’s digestive limitations and plan a minimal detox period accordingly. While trying a detox or raw food diet, make sure to incorporate foods and herbs that support fire elements, such as cayenne pepper, ginger, cinnamon and basil, which will promote digestive power and protect the balance in your body. 

Veganism, Paleo and Blood diet

If you haven’t heard already, Paleo is a new and widely accepted diet based on the caveman diet our ancestors supposedly ate. It consists of raw foods, nuts, fruits, and meats. There is also the blood diet, which is based on your blood type. Many O blood types need meat, while AB blood types can sustain themselves on vegetarian diets. Alternatively there is veganism, which removes all meat and animal by-products from the diet, consisting of vegetables, fruits and grains. 

The Ayurvedic & Yogic diet finds a beautiful balance between them all. The yogic diet is based in mindfulness, which usually generates a diet of vegetables, fruits, nuts, grains and dairy. Traditionally the yogic diet does not support eating of meat, because it goes against the principle of ahimsa or non-violence, which is the first of the Yamas in Pantajanli’s Yoga Sutras. However, if meat is to be consumed, it is considered better to eat fish or chicken, over red meat. Dairy is also often a controversial subject in the health and nutrition field, however the yogic diet consists of many dairy products and is used in Ayurveda as a healing modality. As long as the dairy is fresh and produced through mindful efforts, it can be beneficial to the body and spirit. One traditional and delicious yogic meal is boiled milk with spices such as ginger, cinnamon and cardamom. Try it the next time you get your hands on fresh whole milk!

Of course, diets are always about the individual, their personal beliefs and nutritional needs. However, what is unique about the Yogic diet is that the main focus is not simply food, but rather the awareness and love connected to it.  Whether you choose to eat meat, dairy or vegetables as your main sustenance, you can incorporate Yoga into your diet. This traditional diet focuses on enlightening, balancing and nourishing not only your physical body but your mind and spirit as well. As you move towards a deeper yoga practice stay mindful of what you eat and where your food comes from. 

References to David Frawley's Yoga and Ayurveda, required reading for the Zuna Yoga 200 hour yoga teacher training.