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Free yoga

I’m off to Perth today to look after the publicity for the start of Sting’s national tour. I can’t wait for the first concert as he kicks off at the gorgeous Sandalford Winery in Perth’s Swan Valley and plays with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra – it will be sublime. Anyway, it was thinking about the legendary singer’s yoga prowess (who says his wife Trudie Styler is “far better than I am”), combined with an early morning revelation I recently had, that’s inspired this article.

The sun was rising as I was running through beautiful Centennial Park the other morning, when I came to a clearing.

Set back from the edge of a pond was a large, brick BBQ with a perfectly level square of grass around it. Resting on top of the BBQ hotplate was an open laptop (the hotplate obviously wasn’t turned on). On that perfect patch of grass, as good as any gym studio or dance-floor, was a Lycra clad woman, dancing, prancing and shaking her booty as she followed an aerobics video from her computer.

Jogging past, my eyes wide, I stopped behind a tree where I wouldn’t offend and bent over laughing until I cried. It was so unexpected and brilliant. I peeked out from my hiding place, smiling and impressed as I watched her total, abandoned joy to be working out in the fresh air at sunrise.

Which brings me, in a very round about way, to exercising by yourself, away from a gym, studio or class.

And if you’re travelling (or, like Sting, touring around the world with your band and a symphony orchestra), yoga is one of the best and most practical ways to keep fit and healthy. Just ask Sting’s friend Chris Botti, a super talented (and incredibly handsome and charismatic) trumpeter. Chris made his debut solo trip down under in 2010 and there are very strong rumours that he’ll return this year with his insanely clever band. What’s the one thing that he does every single day, apart from practice his trumpet? Why, yoga of course.

And you can too, even without going to a class.

And even better than that, for FREE!

If you live in a city or major town, chances are there’s a yoga class being offered nearby.

But want to do yoga for free? Just hit www.yogajournal.com

And if you have a laptop, you can take it to the park or beach and enjoy the great outdoors, just like our above-mentioned alfresco aerobics friend.

Yogajournal.com is tagged as “your online retreat for yoga poses, classes, meditation, and life – on and off the mat” and is an excellent base-camp for all things yoga but, being a commercial site, you will need to battle with the ads.

The pose explanations appeal to me most of all – they’re laid out in the different categories i.e. seated and twists, standing, core, backbends, arm balances, forward bends, restorative etc. Then you click through on a particular category (all with pictures) and you can choose a particular pose. This pose is explained (again, with a detailed photograph of someone doing it) and written step by step explanations on how to reach that pose.

Want to go beyond this? Just one more click will lead you through to understanding what the anatomical focus is for this particular pose, its therapeutic benefits, tips for beginners, cautions, variations, suggested poses to do before and after and how you can then deepen that pose. Basically, more info than you’d ever hope to get in a single group lesson!

You can even go on to create your very own sequence of poses with their brilliant sequence builder.

Pictures not enough and need more 3D instructionals? www.yogajournal.com/video takes you through a variety of poses and sequences in straight forward, easily understood videos.

This site also gives plenty of other information across yoga practice, the philospohy behind it and practical, calming health and lifestyle tips.

Need some more inspiration to give yoga a go this year?

Yoga may be an age-old form of movement, but one of its students took no time at all to master the art form: Shruti Pandey, at just six years old, has already been teaching the discipline to adults for two years.

The little girl from Jhunsi, India became interested in yoga after witnessing her older brother, Harsh Kumar, master all 84 positions. “I tried picking it up myself but it was too hard,” she told the UK’s Daily Mail. “So I asked my parents to send me to yoga classes.”

Shruti began taking lessons at four years old, and within mere months, she had mastered the entire repertoire of yoga moves – even the most difficult moves, such as supporting her entire body horizontally with her hands.

When her teachers saw how well she knew the moves, they allowed to begin teaching her own classes. For two years now, she’s offered lessons at 5:30am at an ashram.

She generally teaches around 30 adult students, including Businessman Lokendra Pal Singh, 48. “I have noticed a positive change in my life,” he said. “I used to be short-tempered, but now I’m able to control my anger to quite an extent and it’s all thanks to a little six-year old.”

See some of Shruti’s moves at the Daily Mail.

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