• Kathy Ran

Let’s talk about the importance of a good yoga mat. Even though we use them everyday in our yoga classes and workshops. I have always looked for a good yoga mat and I have tried plenty and sliped and slid my way around my mat – until now. That’s why I want to share with you the importance of a good yoga mat. And trust me, once you have a good mat, you’ll know it. It took me many years and a lot of money that made me realise the fidderence a good quality yoga mat could make.

Best Grippy Mat made of PU
Black Lotus Yoga Mat

Feel secure in any position

Another feature of a good mat is having a good anti-slip material. If you practice yoga you’ll know a slippy mat when practicing is not only frustrating but highly distracting. Having a good anti-slip mat will help you to focus on the more important parts of your practice. With a good mat you will feel securely in place in any pose you are taking including moving through your vinyasa.

Kind to you and kind to the planet

Did you know that normal PVC yoga mats can take over a hundred years to biodegrade and are often made out of materials with lots of chemicals? When we know better, we can all do better and that is why buying a A PVC free mat is essential and will biodegrade in just 1-2yrs. A good quality mat will be made with non-toxic, planet friendly material which means they are both kind to you, and to the planet.

Why we made our own mats

So the more I read and the more knowledge I gained around yoga mats, the more passionate I felt about Black Lotus Yoga developing our own mats out of PU. What is PU? Pu is the natural rubber- Pu yoga mat meaning is polyurethane material. This material is an excellent material for making mats. It is non-toxic, tasteless, and non-slip, not easy to rot, there is an environment-friendly material and with it, we were be able to create a perfect yoga experience for our teachers and students. These mats really help to reduce the impact on the joints such as knees, shoulders and writs. We now stock BLY PU mats in our studio and want our community to reap the rewards that these mats have to offer.

We understand that buying one of these mats is a big commitment, and I wouldn’t take it lightly. So if you are wanting to make a genuine, long-term commitment to yoga, then a BLY mat could be a great investment for you. These mats last for many years and have great wearability and is worth every penny when balancing with your yoga practice.

Find the right mat for you

We also want to say that there are other great mats out there if these don’t fit your budget. We’ve tried many over the years so why not have a chat with us about what you are looking for in a mat and we will try to find the best one for you! However, if you do decide that a BLY mat is for you we have them in stock in the studio, so let us know and we’ll keep one aside for you. There is an amazing range of colours on offer including: green, pink, black and slate blue. They have an amazing design with a lotus flower in the middle and alignment dots to help throughout your practice. All mats are priced at £89 and come with a beautiful carry bag. *payment plans are available.

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  • May Tan

Updated: Sep 10, 2020

Chanda is our lovely resident yoga teacher, you will often find her in the studio on Thursdays and Fridays teaching dharma yoga, and a chilled flow to usher in the weekend. She is currently undertaking her 500hr Dharma Yoga Teacher Training and the entire process requires determination, hard work and plenty dedication. Chanda very kindly shared with us an insight into her thoughts, what goes on as part of her daily routine and also some advice if you’re planning to undergo dharma yoga training.

Chanda doing lotus headstand

By Chanda Patel

Dharma yoga training is so much more than just a typical asana practise. The strict schedule was designed to show sadhaka – a person who is learning to follow a particular practise – the importance of routine and dedication.

What does a typical day of practising dharma yoga look like?

A typical day starts at 6 am and finishes at 10 pm. At 6 am, we perform Karma Yoga. Karma Yoga is one of Sri Dharma Mittra’s’ fundamental teachings and requirement, inspiring the sadhaka to understand the importance of selfless action. The goal of Dharma yoga is to become one with the supreme source. Our actions, good or bad – otherwise known as Karma – tie us into the bondage of Maya, the illusion of this world that we live in. Through Karma yoga or selfless action, we begin to develop a humble heart and an understanding of what is truly important. With this knowledge, we are able to cut the ties that bind us to this material world, ultimately leading us to liberation. Karma Yoga and Bhakti Yoga is the fastest way to reach the ultimate goal.

Moving on, at 7 am we then perform 2 hours of Pranayama, otherwise more commonly known as a breathing exercise. Pranayama is something that should be done daily and as part of the training, we are required to perform daily breathing exercises and reflect on how it makes us feel, and if we notice any subtle changes in our body, mind or breath. The pranayama kosha is the second subtle body or sheath. It is the invisible force behind every atom, cell and organ in the body. Any imbalances within this sheath affect the physical body arising in various illness or disease. It also directly affects the third sheath, manomaya kosha influencing the state of mind. This is why a daily practice of pranayama is obligatory and must be practised under the supervision of a trained practitioner.

Dharma mittra explaining

Sri Dharma Mittra explaining to us the values and teachings on dharma yoga

…and then comes spiritual discourse.

What is spiritual discourse? Spiritual Discourse is where Sri Dharma Mittra dissects and delves into the philosophy of yoga and meaning of life through spiritual scriptures. His way of explaining complex esoteric topics in a simple, humour and thought-provoking way had the whole group enraptured. Being able to ask questions to a living yoga master was an amazing and humbling experience.

How many hours of asanas did I practice daily?

There were roughly 9 hours of asana that I practised daily. Sri Dharma would say “You must take your practice seriously…”. To say I was physically exhausted was an understatement, but Dharma had one of the best-kept secrets up his sleeves to combat this. Yoga Nidra.

Yoga Nidra is a powerful deep healing meditative practice. It is said that 1 hour of yoga nidra is equivalent to 4 hours of sleep! The sadhaka lays in savasana as they are guided into a deep relaxation – the mind transcends the body, entering the astral world. This is a mixture of dharana – one-pointed concentration (6th limb in yoga) and dhyana – meditation (7th limb in yoga). The energy you receive after a yoga nidra is unexplainable, you’d just have to try it and experience it yourself. There was no way to put how I felt into words that could justify how at peace I was.

Dharma Mittra advanced headstand

Sri Dharma Mittra demonstrating a more advanced version of a headstand

Are there any other factors I must take into consideration if I want to undergo dharma training?

Diet was another one of the major factors that encapsulates Dharma yoga. The first Yama on the 8 limbs of yoga is Ahimsa – which practically means non-violence. This can be literal; no killing to more subtle; no negative thoughts. The word ahimsa covers a large spectrum. It encourages love and compassion for all things, all beings everywhere. Sri Dharma insists that all sadhakas should be vegetarian leading into veganism. This was a favourite line that stuck with me throughout the training, ‘Loka Samastha Sukhino Bhavantu’. – May all beings everywhere be happy and free from suffering.

However, just being a vegan isn’t enough…

In the Hatha Pradipika and Gheranda Samhitia, there are guidelines on how to purify the body and the mind through dhauti and kriyas. Though times have changed, and these may seem quite extreme, we still are required to ‘cleanse’ the body depending on what we eat. During the internship we were given a strict Sattvic Diet; this consisted of morning warm water and lemon, followed by a green juice. No artificial sugar and no fried foods. Lots of fresh fruit and vegetables are encouraged and last but by certainly no means, no solid food after 6 pm.

There is more to the training such as mantras, spiritual scriptures, colouring and journaling, so stay tuned for a part 2.

partner yoga

If you’re looking to undergo dharma yoga training with SDM, just know…

that it is truly a life of a yogi training. You will be fully immersed in a study that goes deeper beyond the physical poses. It's for that person who has been coming to yoga regularly and is thinking about what is beyond the asana.

I’d really urge you to have an open mind and be prepared to take on a mental and physical challenge.

Push your body and mind beyond what you think is possible and last but definitely not least…eat when you can sleep as much as you can and pack lots of China gel and Epsom salt because your body will ache!!! 😂🙈

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Updated: Sep 10, 2020

black lotus festival 2019

We're so ecstatic to be back for the second year in a row - our Black Lotus Yoga Festival. Come on down to our studios this Saturday (24th of August) and try out all our classes for FREE!

Where: Black Lotus Yoga Studios, 2D Hale Lane, Mill Hill, London. NW7 3NX When: 24th August 2019, 9am-2pm

What do I need: Yoga mat, water, towel (if you're doing hot yoga) and an open mind Not only will there be free taster classes all day, the first 50 customers will walk away with goodie bags with our amazing Yoga Bum towels. We will also be having a HUGE bargain sale on selected yoga clothings, a raffle sponsored by Kuki Candles, Tales of Wolves, Clever Yoga Mats and Canvas Warriors plus loads of other fun activities and vendors joining in. So bring your crew and head to our studios this Saturday, cause this is where it's at!

Not sure which classes to join or new to yoga? See our itinerary below - make sure you book your spot in advance on our website or on the MindBody app as spaces are limited!

hot yoga fusion

9am - 9.30am: Hot Yoga Fusion

with Luisa-Marie Quinn

Start your day with Luisa as she guides you through a 30-minute hot yoga session as she fuses her militant style which stems from her professional personal trainer expertise into this hot yoga session. Bring a towel and a bottle of water, and get ready to combat and challenge yourself through this vigorous practice. All levels welcome.

hot yoga with clara

9.45am - 10.15am: Hot Yoga Fusion

with Clara Prats

If 9am is too early for you and you've been out all night on Friday (this is probably me) - we've got another hot yoga slot by popular demand. Let Clara guide you through each pose as she focuses on the alignment against every breath and have her soothing but firm teaching style clear your head space and challenge yourself on the mat physically and mentally. Bring an open mind, a bottle of water and a towel - you will need it. All levels welcome.

rocket yoga with kyle

10.30am - 11.00am: Rocket Reggae

with Kyle Anderson

Move to the groove of Jamaica as our dancer-turned-yogi Kyle soulfully guide us through this vigorous ashtanga practice. With reggae music playing in the background, we'll playfully move through our practice and who knows, maybe have the courage to attempt a crow or a handstand here? Must have basic knowledge of yoga.

funky vinyasa with emma

11.15am - 11.45am: Funky Vinyasa Yoga

with Emma Tuvera

Get your funk on with Emma, our newly graduated yoga teacher. She's our resident instructor for our Beginner's yoga class, but in this class, she'll guide us through our salutations, linking each movement with the breath alongside some funky poses paired with a series of groovy tunes. All levels welcome, so bring your whole clique.

therapeutic yoga with simone

12.00pm - 12.30pm: Therapeutic Yoga

with Simone Venner

As if you've just gone and done all the classes earlier in the morning, it's time to recuperate with Simone. This restorative class will help clear the mind guided by some pranayama breathing and restorative poses to heal the body. Bring a blanket if you wish or an eye mask, and just relax for the next half an hour.

flash mob yoga with kathy

1.00pm - 1.45pm: FLASH MOB YOGA!

with Kathy Ran

End the festival by joining in on our flash mob yoga led by the owner of Black Lotus Yoga herself, queen Kathy Ran!

We do this on the patio of El Vaquero restaurant, just right by the studio. The objective here is to have as much fun as possible, and as we're facing the main road, we'll definitely turn a few heads here as drivers drive by...

yogi team photo

We can't wait to see all of you there this Saturday. Let me, Kathy or Remmie know if you have any questions and we'll get back to you asap. Alternatively, you can reach me on my instagram @thefifthmonth_yoga

Don't forget to follow Black Lotus Yoga on Facebook and Instagram for any changes or last minute updates. Last but not least, spread the word to all your family and friends and see you all there!

Namaste May x

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