I have just been reading my latest edition of OM Yoga magazine. This past few weeks have simply flown by and I realised June was well and truly with us.

Paula Hines writes regularly for the magazine and this month she talks about her recent training and her pleasure at being a student again…this time on a pregnancy yoga course with Sally Parkes.

I have just spent the weekend being taught by Sandra Sabatini in London. I have had the pleasure of being with Sandra several times, both in London and in India. She and her co-teacher Michal Havkin teach a week-long retreat at Basunti, Himchal Pradesh. 

Paula mentions how good it is to be immersed in being a student again and I absolutely agree. I really enjoy being told what to do and how to do it. I love learning and being part of a group. 

I spend quite a lot of time being the responsible adult whether it be in my therapy room or whilst teaching. I am the person who holds the space and ensures it is safe for all involved. I measure carefully what words I speak…most of the time! I gently mull things over in my brain….what theme for this class? how much pain is this person in and how does massage fit with their body today? I have chosen this path through life and do not regret anything but I do become depleted. I simply run out of steam.

We all have responsibilities which can feel easier or harder depending on our energies and passion for what is occurring. We all need time out….there has to be space to simply rest and feel.

This weekend was my perfect space. I was the student, I was held safely throughout and I felt able to let go, breathe and feel exactly how things are.

Sandra quietly encourages us to breathe, placing much emphasis on our exhalations. We pause so gently and then joyfully the body invites the inhalation. At the end of every exhale there is that tiny moment when the pelvis, hips and legs drop towards the earth with gravity and then the spine can spiral up and away to the heavens. Inhale sweetly, with ease and delight. So simple and yet so tricky!

Sandra Sabatini at Basunti.

I am more used to a very intense self-practice. My Forrest Yoga is strong and can be very demanding but it fits very well with my way of being and then occasionally I stop and realise that today I need something different and Sandra’s voice gently echoes in my brain, “Slowly, slowly Gill, gently, gently. Take your time and breathe.”

Sandra was taught by Vanda Scaravelli and after reading Vanda’s book, ‘Awakening the Spine’ I felt a brightness inside me. I had only known Iyengar and Astanga yoga, but felt there was so much more for me to experience. So imagine my delight on discovering Sandra. 

To say I was confused at my first workshop would be an understatement but I hung on in there. I remember walking down to Tufnell Park Tube station yawning and yawning. The day had, by my normal standards been easy, even lazy. We lay on the floor a lot, we breathed and we moved slowly and yet I felt truly open and yawned with delight. The next morning I ached everywhere!

Each time I meet Sandra I learn something new about me, about my body and how I breathe. This weekend I realised how sleepy my left foot is, especially my fourth and fifth toes. We massaged and worked on our feet, skull, armpits and shoulders. We, again spent much time lying on our mats with our knees bent. The amazing part is that as I listened and followed Sandra’s suggestions my feet and hands did indeed begin to open like petals. I could feel the tingle deep inside my soles and palms and then something occurred in my heart…it softened, my breath flowed and up I went into Urdhva Dhanurasana. This is a pose I do often and delight in but I normally need to do a lot of other backbends to get there…yesterday it just happened with the breath and with a smile.

Sandra delights me, I laugh a lot when with her and she encourages us to smile, to enjoy and not be so serious. When I was in Basunti Sandra suggested I do Wheel very regularly as she felt it would be a very inspiring way for me to practice and she has been proved correct, not that I needed proof! 


I have learnt so much over the years by returning to pupil-mode. I was never academic and school was a trial to me but I then found my way. I am literally, as well as metephorically a hands-on person. I feel it is so important to remain open to learning no matter where you are up to. 

It will not surprise you then, to know I am off to a workshop with Jenny Beeken later this month. My Pregnancy Yoga training is in August and I hope to attend some workshops with Ana Forrest in July. Breathe Gill and slowly, slowly smile.

Here is a link to Basunti, where you can make enquiries about Sandra’s Retreat in April 2015.
Paula Hines can be found 
There are loads of good things to read in OM YOGA magazine this month. Always worth a look!

Sandra’s Workshop was held at The Active Birth Centre, Archway, London., which is a beautiful, peaceful yoga space.

Sandra and Michal will be at Lendrick Lodge this July.

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