10 Ways Yoga Can Help Your Relationship

  “Yoga” translates as “union.” The tradition teaches that the union we’re seeking begins with ourselves and ultimately extends to all beings and to the universe itself. Marriage – or any solid relationship – is also a union, a union of two persons committed to sharing their lives in a loving partnership. 
Here are 10 ways yoga can help your relationship:

1.Yoga is about connection.  

Practicing yoga makes you more connected to yourself. The process of slowing down and connecting to your breath makes you more aware of how you’re feeling and what you’re thinking. When you’re better able to understand yourself, it’s easier to be more understanding of others, which leads to feeling more connected. 

2.Yoga makes you more compassionate. 

Yoga teaches you to love and accept yourself. It teaches you to have compassion for yourself. When you can forgive yourself for not being perfect, it’s much easier to be compassionate with the imperfections of others. 

3.Yoga brings clarity and teaches you to take responsibility.

When you get clearer about your own stuff – your reactive tendencies, head trips, projections, and desires, you can take responsibility for your behavior. Taking responsibility for your part in a dynamic is an important step in shifting things. 

4.Yoga helps you process.

The very process of tuning in to your breath allows you to sift through your feelings and gain insight into whatever the issue is. From this more lucid place you can figure out if it’s something you need to discuss with your spouse, or if it’s better for you to process on your own. 

5.Yoga is about softening and letting go.

The physical practice is a great teacher; at some point you run into your own stuck places and there’s nowhere to run. Yoga teaches you to back off and go easy when you encounter a tight place in your body. Breathe deep. Soften. Let go. 

6.Yoga breeds tenacity. 

Of course you could come out of the pose (just like you could leave your relationship), but then what? That tightness will be waiting for you next time you do the pose (or when you get into a similar situation in your next relationship). With both yoga and a partnership, progress requires commitment and quiet determination coupled with non-attachment. You have show up, do the work and let go of the outcome. 

7.Yoga is confrontational. 

So is being in a relationship. There’s no clearer mirror than the one your partner holds up to you. 

You can try and blame your partner for your stuff, you can make him/her responsible for your happiness, but at the end of the day, it comes down to you. Who are you being in this relationship? What are you committed to? How are you willing to grow and expand your integrity? Your relationship will push you to face these questions. But yoga will too. 

8.Yoga teaches you to respond, not react.

Reaction is instantaneous; there’s no choice involved. X happens; Y follows. The space between reactivity and responsiveness is freedom: when we become less reactive we can rest in our equanimity. We reclaim our freedom slowly one breath at a time.

9.Yoga teaches you to have a sense of humor. 

Having a sense of humor really helps. It’s okay; it’s just yoga. Tomorrow will be better, or the next day, or the day after that. When you practice over the long term, you get a sense of the bigger picture. Not everyday will be the greatest, not every practice will feel complete. Sometimes you’ll be grumpy, tired, sore, whatever. But you know it’ll change and come round to feeling good again. You can relax and trust the process.

10.Yoga makes you a better lover.

Mmm hmm. Oh yes, it does. 

Yoga teaches you about restraint and abandon. It summons fearlessness and bolsters compassion. It shows you how to move with your breath, and synchronize it with others. 

It’s about sex as a vehicle for connection and for increasing intimacy. 

Yoga makes you a better lover because it makes you more in touch with yourself, and when you’re more in touch with yourself it’s easier to connect more deeply with someone else. When you show up and give generously to yourself, you can show up and give generously to another. 

I rest my case.

Thanks to Dearbhla Kelly, yoga teacher and writer for Huffington Post for the basis of this post. 

One For The Brides-To-Be

Since our very own dancing yoga teacher, Sandi Visser, got engaged last weekend, it seemed only polite to do a little post on yoga for weddings.  We love nothing more than a good cause for celebration and this certainly qualifies – we are so excited for you, Sandi!

How is this for an idea for your photos, Sandi?

The moment that you say “I do”.

Look, they even have our lights in the background? Love this pic.

We love this. The flowers, the light, the trust!

And finally, finishing off with this lovely Warrior 2 for two… A beautifully grounding asana, to keep you steady and remind you to use your practice when the madness of setting up for the big day kicks in, and to keep you balanced and strong.

Here is a Native American blessing that you may wish to keep close to your heart:

“May the sun bring you new energy by day.
May the moon softly restore you by night.

May the rain wash away your worries.

May the breeze blow new strength into your beings

And all the days of your lives may you walk gently through the world and know its beauty.

Treat yourselves and each other with respect.

And remind yourselves often of what brought you together.

Give the highest priority to the tenderness, gentleness and kindness that your connection deserves.

When frustration, difficulty and fear assail your relationship, as they threaten all relationships at one time or another,

remember to focus on what is right between you, not only on the part that seems wrong.

In this way you can ride out the storms

when clouds hide the face of the sun in your lives,

remembering that even if you lose sight of it for a moment the sun is still there.

And if each of you takes responsibility for the quality of your life together, it will be marked with abundance and delight”.



The Glory of Viparita Karani (Legs-Up-The-Wall pose

We all need survival strategies to help us maneuver through life’s difficult days with some measure of sanity and grace. When the world threatens to overwhelm us, we need a way to hold ourselves together until the stormy weather passes—or perhaps simply a way to let everything fall apart without losing our faith completely.
Here’s my favorite survival strategy: I close the door, tune in to my favorite track on Savasana by Wah, hit the repeat button, and slide into Viparita Karani (Legs-up-the-Wall Pose). I drape a lavender-scented eye bag across my brow, exhale as soulfully as possible, and then invite the posture’s quiet softness to sink into every cell of my body.

I breathe. I surrender. I melt. As my legs drain, my mind empties and my belly warms and softens. I linger here for 10 minutes, 20 minutes, sometimes a half an hour or more, until the pose has drawn every last drop of angst and agitation from my soul. And when I can bear to pull myself back to reality, I roll over and slowly sit up, refreshed and renewed. Invariably, I feel better able to manage life’s challenges with clarity and balance.

I’d wager that Viparita Karani can do the same for you. This soothing, restorative posture calms the nervous system, eases muscle fatigue, and helps restore healthy, restful breathing. Many yoga instructors offer it as an antidote to exhaustion, illness, and weakened immunity. In addition, it invites us todrop beneath the surface of life into quieter and more introspective realms.

About The Chakras: A Bit More Detail 

  In my previous post, we looked at a very basic overview of what the chakras are and what their significance is in our lives and yoga practice. With those issues hopefully answered, here is some more detail on the chakras and their influence on our energetic balance. 

The chakras are formed at the junction of three connected energy shafts that ascend the spine, one on each side of the central channel, the Shushumna. The two lesser channels of energy — the Pingala on the right and Ida on the left — run parallel to the spinal cord. Chakras both take up and collect prana (life force energy) and transform and pass on energy. Our material bodies could not exist without them for they serve as gateways for the flow of energy and life into our physical bodies.

Each chakra is associated with a certain part of the body and a certain organ which it provides with the energy it needs to function. Additionally, just as every organ in the human body has its equivalent on the mental and spiritual level, so too every chakra corresponds to a specific aspect of human behavior and development. 

Our circular spirals of energy differ in size and activity from person to person. They vibrate at different levels relative to the awareness of the individual and their ability to integrate the characteristics of each into their life. 

The lower chakras are associated with fundamental emotions and needs, for the energy here vibrates at a lower frequency and is therefore denser in nature. The finer energies of the upper chakras corresponds to our higher mental and spiritual aspirations and faculties.

The openness and flow of energy through our chakras determines our state of health and balance. Knowledge of our more subtle energy system empowers us to maintain balance and harmony on the physical, mental and spiritual level. All meditation and yoga systems seek to balance out the energy of the chakras by purifying the lower energies and guiding them upwards. Through the use of grounding, creating “internal space,” and living consciously with an awareness of how we acquire and spend our energy we become capable of balancing our life force with our mental, physical and spiritual selves.

My next post will look at the primary qualities of each chakra, its corresponding location in the body, colour and mantra, physical and emotional realms of influence, and its greater significance in our practice. 

Questions? Opinions? I’d love to hear from you. 

Chakras 101


In anticipation of the 5 class series on chakra alignment that I’m offering in November, my next few posts will be about the sometimes mysterious chakras: what they are, why they are important, how to bring them into alignment, and more specifially to answer any questions that you may have about them.

The ancient yogis understood that in order to experience a more satisfying life—one that feels more stable, more sublime, and more connected to others—we have to effect change from within. And one of the key ways to alter the inner reality is working with the chakras, the body’s energetic centers.

Chakra literally means “spinning wheel.” According to the yogic view, chakras are a convergence of energy, thoughts/feelings, and the physical body. Our consciousness (mind) gets projected through these wheels, and this largely determines how we experience reality from our emotional reactions, our desires or aversions, our level of confidence or fear, even the manifestation of physical symptoms.

By working with these centers in yoga practice, we can begin to unravel any blocks that may prevent the unfolding into our highest potential. 

That’s all you need to know for now if you are just wanting a basic explanation. If you want to take your understanding a bit deeper, please come back for tomorrow’s post which will get a little more technical. 

Any questions? Any thoughts? 

Chakra Balancing Series

You’re invited: A 5 Week Class Series to Balance The Chakras

Yoga With Nicci Chakra Series

Starting on Saturday 7th November, I will be offering a five week series focused on bringing the chakras into alignment.

Classes will be repeated on Monday evenings during my 6pm class slot. They can be attended as stand-alone classes but you will experience maximum benefit from attending all five in sequence.

Regular rates apply unless you book for the series in which case you pay 10% less. Full details on the pic. Excited!

Yoga This Weekend 

Yoga this weekend: Saturday 24th October Classes; 



As we are knee-deep in protests and exams nerves here in Stellenbosch we invite you to come find your mellow vibes with us this Saturday morning – both classes are for all levels, and aimed to get your heart rate down a knotch and your breath back to normal – we will show you some beautiful breathwork techniques for this! —————————————
Both classes will be lead by Victoria (@northernlights_yoga) who will be guiding you through two sessions of pure bliss – whether you join the first or the second class you will hopefully come out of it feeling lighter and ready to hit the action button again once monday comes. Remember to book by replying to this or directly with Victoria 🙏🏼

Is Yoga Any Good For Countering Osteoporosis?

Yoga poses that strengthen the areas most likely to suffer-the hips, spine, and wrists-can help maintain bone density

Yoga poses that strengthen the areas most likely to suffer-the hips, spine, and wrists-can help maintain bone density

After last night’s class someone asked me about whether yoga is any good for building bone density, and I got all warm and fuzzy inside because the answer is a resounding YES!

We all know that yoga is great for things like reducing stress, but not many people know that it can also be an effective treatment for osteoporosis, either on its own or supplemented by other treatments. Research has shown that yoga can prevent or slow — and in some cases even reverse — the process of bone loss.

It’s well-known that physical activity, weight-bearing and strenuous exercise, will help keep osteoporosis and its precursor, osteopenia, at bay. But much strenuous weight-bearing exercise has serious disadvantages, which must not be underestimated when thinking about your health, while Yoga has unique and wonderful advantages.

Another thing that a lot of people don’t know if that it’s increasingly suggested that high impact aerobic activity can actually lead directly to osteoarthritis. That foot-pounding, hips flexing, knee impacting, spine-jarring activity takes men and women trying to prevent or reduce bone loss out of the frying pan and puts them in the fire of developing painful, crippling hard-to-control osteoarthritis. Older people are confronted by a dilemma: Too much impact exercise and you will help your bones while hurting your joints. Don’t exercise and your osteoporosis will advance. It’s both ends of the bone against the middle.

While yoga is no panacea (I’m not sure one exists – if you know of one, please tell me!), it does provide weight-bearing exercise with none of the dangers that lead to osteoarthritis. Yoga pits one muscle group against another to generate forces far greater than gravity. Yoga is isometric exercise. It is also weight bearing. Both of these types of activity have been proven to improve bone strength. Unlike most forms of “weight-bearing” activity, yoga does not damage cartilage or lead to osteoarthritis, another peril of ageing. Yoga stretches the muscles, increasing the range of motion that osteoarthritis otherwise inexorably narrows. By improving range of motion, yoga counters the chief and sometimes terrible impairment that comes with osteoarthritis.

FYI: Osteoporosis — a disease characterized by weak, thinning bones that can lead to fractures — affects an estimated 200 million women worldwide, and one in three women over 50 experience osteoporotic fractures. Classic risk factors for osteoporosis include being female, age, low body weight and smoking.

Credits to Carolyn Gregoire of The Huffington Post

Apanasana, anyone? 

 As I often do, I ended tonight’s class with a few gentle apanasana (perfect counter pose to an asymmetrical pose) and, as I often am, was tempted to warn the class that this is also called the ‘wind relieving pose’ and to just suggest that they don’t giggle too hard as the pose is named that for a very good reason.

As usual though, I didn’t, and managed to behave. So here is a little bit more about this  magical asana.

A classic yoga posture, Knees-to-Chest Pose has many therapeutic benefits. Because it’s performed on your back, it is sometimes referred to as “Supine Knees-to-Chest Pose.” Though the pose is rarely referred to by its Sanskrit name — Apanasana (ah-pahn-AHS-uh-nuh) — it can be helpful to understand its meaning. It comes from two Sanskrit words: “Apana” (meaning, “downward-flowing life force”) and “asana” (meaning, “pose”). In yoga, apana is a bodily energy that serves as the opposite function of “prana,” which is considered the vital life force.
Prana gives life to the body through breathing and other techniques. Apana, in contrast, is the body’s force of elimination. It flows downward and out of the body, eliminating impurities through the lungs and excretory systems. Practicing Apanasana relieves the pressure of this force of elimination, helping the body to efficiently reduce and expel waste, toxins, and tension.
Benefits of Knees-to-Chest Pose
The benefits of Apanasana are closely related to those of its variation, Wind-Relieving Pose (Pavanamuktasana): Relief from excess digestive air, indigestion, bloating, flatulence, acidity, and constipation. It is often recommended for those suffering from irritable bowel syndrome.

In addition, this pose helps to keep your low back limber. It is often used as a soothing counter-pose to backbends and spinal twists. Because your body is compact in the pose, your thoughts are more easily drawn inward, which is useful for calming the mind and rebalancing your energy.

With thanks to Yoga Outlet for the information.