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ParkoLife | 5 Hatha Yoga most challenging poses

40 degrees Greek summer in Kithira, 7 o’clock Yoga class starts, day 5 of I Love Yoga retreat. Hundred of questions asked and a challenging pose arrives. My fear- “Nobody can do it”. Their fear- “After so many hours of intensive practice, I might can’t do this”. Many times during classes I saw/see people struggling with asanas. The borderline between challenge and failure is narrow, there are many ways to make peace with a difficult asana and (for sure) to feel great about your practice, in whatever level you are in.

On today blog post I want to share with you what are, in a yogi mind, the 5 most challenging Hatha yoga poses and why they are considered so. And, how to create softness around each of them.

1-Bakasana (Crow pose). Probably the most challenging one considering that it is all about shoulder strength.

2-Setu Bandhasana (Bridge pose). This is a deep, no-kind-inversion.

3-Sirsasana (Supported Headstand). Shoulder and core strength, inversion and neck pressure, all in one. This is “the” asana that in a Hatha yoga class can divide the group in advance or not.

4-Utthita Hasta Padangustasana Extended Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose (Extended Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose).

Balance and flexibility pose usually beginners tends to do it by imitations, not caring of the-day-after consequences...

5 Ardha Matsyendrasana (Half Spinal Twist ). Yes, it a spinal twist as its Sankrit name says, but it can be very challenging for hips and knees. The challenge of this pose comes from the way it is explained.

And now the solution.

How can you turn a difficult asana into a successful one, considering your entry level and your capacity?

A.Ask teacher for variation and preparation exercises. Usually it is a set of gentle (or not) fitness exercises to wake up energy and muscles.

B.Squeeze everything in. If you wonder the real meaning of this sentence just think at this “tight is light”. Internal organs, abdominals and mind have to be focused all in one point.

C.Don’t carry all the challenge yourself, ask the teacher the benefits and contraindications of each asana. And if you feel it is not right for you, then repeat point A to get customized.

Tune to yourself, as the first step forward for a great class. Surrened to your Yoga journey.

Did you learn something new? If yes, sign up with a lovely "Like" up here.


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ParkoLife | Yoga Wish List

After a full month of window-shopping, now it’s time to refresh your Yoga wardrobe. I am in Italy, and while pushing the pram I came across some fantastic outfits. Buying all of them will turn my wallet green...

Save time (and money)-Sophia Kinsela would agree- and check here what I did for you....

The question is: “Where can I find great Yoga clothes without sacrificing the next SPA treat?” .

On line or not, now you can really find smart stuff and good quality fabrics, not always Made in Italy but for sure 100% craftly and whiz.

Usually I go for white but for this winter I go back to black, and my imperative is to be comfortable. .

This is my wish list:

-For your Ashtanga yoga class: seamless leggings and workout top.

-For you easy comfy Hatha yoga session: here you have my favourite seasonal leggings matching a loose 3/4 arm length blouse.

-AcroYoga and Aerial session: create your style with singlet and top and slinky leggings all available in different (dark) colours.

And if you really can’t fear to feel the freeze, here you go: some tosty oversize.. here and here!.

Let me hear your voice. If this post helped you drive your wallet syndrome, drop me a like.

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ParkoLife | What's AcroYoga?

On my last Yoga blog I selected the 3 most famous Yoga teachers alive at this very moment. Now, I focus on something different, keeping the attention on Yoga philosophy and lifestyle.

Funny enough, last Friday at the beginning of the first AcroYoga class of the season, the youngest student ask me:

WHAT'S ACROYOGA? It is pretty obvious that in a yoga world bombarded with new yoga styles and contemporary yoga models, young students (she is 13 years old) feel ungrounded and honest enough to go back to the root. I perfectly understand from where this question came from.

I reply to you as I replied to Sara’s quench for the truth. As European born, I can’t talk about a topic without mentioning its history. In this way, let’s set a easy comparison between Yoga and the world map.

Let’s pretend that the world is divided into Yoga continents. You have the oldest continents - Europe and Asia represented by Hatha and Ashtanga Yoga. America is represented by Vinyasa and Vinyasa flow Yoga. Africa contains all these kinds of Yoga such as: Bikram, Power, Hot, Kundalini, Schiavarelli and Forrest. And finally the newborn Australia is a nest for contemporary yoga styles, where AcroYoga, Aerial, Yoga on Sup, YogaDance (and many more) coexist in peace and love.

Australia was discovered later than America, but it doesn’t’ mean that it didn’t exist before. In the same way, the root of AcroYoga was found hundred of years ago, when Krishnamacharya- the father of modern yoga- was flying a student in 1938..

Then in 2006 Jason Namer and Jenny Klein made AcroYoga accessible by deconstructing its part into acrobatic, fitness and partner training. They founded and since then it became a success!

By now AcroYoga It is a young discipline that combines acrobatics and sequences of Yoga Vinyasa or Hatha to form figures, balance and harmony between two or more people. One of the elements that differentiates AcroYoga from traditional Yoga is precisely on the will to work together, to synchronize body and mind and to create team spirit. Sometimes it is this aspect that drives an amateur to go further, the desire to be part of a group. Personally it is my favourite bit! Obviously the acrobatic part is fundamental and as the practice extends, it becomes more pronounced. AcroYoga is now a method to know oneself in relation to others and to define personal will and determination.

AcroYoga is practiced by over one million people internationally, this tradition and social innovation is shared through movement, connection and play.

The more we move, the more we take this practice to the places that is needed the most. The more we connect , the more we understand each other. The more we all play, the more we are in the present moment"

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post as much as I did, and if you like to share knowledge this is your opportunity to drop a like on my blog page. See you in two weeks!

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ParkoLife | The 3 most famous yoga teachers in the world

Recently I came across this question “Who are the most famous Yoga Teachers in the world?” This question buzzes my mind few times, as I always refer to ancient gurus lived on last century, and not to contemporary teachers.

When I ask this question to yogi friends the answer is vague. Some of them choose gurus and Swamis, others Instagram yogi stars or celebrities.

But let’s make same order here.

This is why I want to share my point of you, considering the practice, the social media influences and the accessibility. Accessibility is a key aspect, by it I mean their ability to share their job to a wider audience, to spread the Love for Yoga. In fact, there are many excellent yoga teachers that you can Like and Trust, but if you don’t know they exist, well, there is not much to do. Can you relate?

For ParkoLife the winners are:

Kino Mc Gregor. Despite her intense day to day schedule around the world (she can travel between Singapore and New York twice in ten days ), her Ashtanga practice is always LIVE on Instagram twice a week. With more than 18 years of experience in Ashtanga Yoga, she is one of a select group of people to receive the Certification to teach Ashtanga yoga by its founder Sri K. Pattabhi Jois in Mysore, India and practice into the Fifth Series of Ashtanga Yoga. Kino not only is an excellent Yoga teacher to inspire and guide all student levels but also a contemporary Yoga Star for her popularity among social media. Well done Kino! You can find her on

The second place goes to Dylan Werner. His formal practice is Vinyasa Flow. Dylan is famous for his movements and arm balancing asanas, he is relatively new to “the most wanted yoga teachers” as he started his career in 2011. Inspiring for his range of motion, Dylan yoga practice is for advance students who wish for new challenges and are seeking for hard core classes. I consider his figure as a turning point inside the world of yoga as he blends the borders between Yoga and Fitness. You can partecipate to his next workshop in Milan by checking his website at

I know her face-to-face and she is as magical as she appears on the web. Her name is Gloria Latham. Greek-Canadian (her family is from Kithira, the same island where I live) she re-launch the Kundalini yoga as no one ever did before. In people mind Kundalini belongs to the 70’, the yoga of the Hippies. It was very hard after that to remark Kundalini as contemporary and modern. Eventually she did it! Gloria teacher training’s, events and workshops praised great sequences, mindset meditation and positive thinking. Furthermore her followers just adore her, as a real Guru. You can find her on

I wish to share with you more about the contemporary yoga trend and teachers, I just love the topic! If you did it too, just share this post on your favourite social, or just drop a like on my blog page!

Happy to be back, close to you-Chiara

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ParkoLife | Why you don't need a guru to practice Yoga

For many years the practice of yoga was learned by dedicated students taught by their guru. Students learned yoga from one teacher or lineage and then either taught those same teachings or continued to study and live life.

Today, when we read texts about how to learn yoga, you will always find a statement about the importance of finding a teacher. Presented as fact, this statement leads aspiring yoga practitioners to believe they indeed need to find their “guru.” An ideal of the guru is romanticized and categorized in the minds of many as an “if-then” statement — if I find a guru, then I will become enlightened. The problem with this dichotomy is that the student becomes disempowered by the notion that she can never find success on her own. Students are unable to progress in the true practice of yoga when this idea of the guru guiding practice becomes all-encompassing.

At one time, following different lineages meant the equivalent of believing in completely different religions. Today the many lineages of yoga are based on the same, or similar, foundations. How the teaching is delivered has become disputed and controversial, resulting in “gurus” and their students insisting that there is only one RIGHT way to do a posture or a practice. This way of teaching leads to confusion for the students.

The context, history, culture, and life experience of person will drastically affect what and how they teach. All of those variables mix together to create a certain kind of resonance that either jives with your understanding of the world or not. This is why we can have so many yoga teachers in the world AND we can all prosper. What we have to offer is uniquely our own even though we’re all teaching pretty much the same thing. That does not mean that there is only one RIGHT way to teach or learn. There is only one right way for you, which may or may not match the right way for me.

A true guru or teacher empowers students to find their own right way. Often times that means finding a new teacher or doing something completely different. Really good yoga teachers are in the business of constantly putting themselves out of business. For this reason, yoga and business aren’t great matches. A teacher that creates dependency is not doing his or her students any favors.

Experience lots of styles of yoga, lots of ways of teaching, lots of teachers, and find someone who really speaks to you. When they no longer excite you, find someone else. It’s the greatest complement to a teacher when a student strikes out on her own. That means you really get it.

Study many perspectives. Experiment. Contemplate. Synthesize. And then go out in the world and be unapologetically you. Keep changing, smiling, thinking, and being.

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ParkoLife | Cultivate your focus

Hello world!!! This week-end intention assignment is all about cultivating focus and discipline. Is there something that you have been wanting to do for a long time, but has been procrastinating or putting it aside simply because it’s not the “right time” for it yet? By honing your discipline and focus, you become just one more step closer to making your goals into reality. Here are some tips to help you get started in cultivating a little bit more focus and discipline both on and off the mat.

1. Start small

Taking that first step does not have to be a well thought-out, elaborated grand scheme of plans that will span for the entire week, month, or year. Often times we are too caught up in planning that when it comes to execution, we no longer have the time nor energy to make them happen. Taking the first step, however small or insignificant it may seem, is always half the battle won. As you take your first step, you will often find your next step becoming a little clearer. Whenever you let your intuition take over in this case, knowing that you set out to improve yourself both physically and mentally in a mindful and healthful manner, you often find that one step leads to another.

Starting the journey with little to no expectations and planning can be a lot less disastrous than you envision it to be. It also allows you to enjoy the process a lot better without having to worry about reaching the end goal within a certain time frame.

2. Avoid creating excuses

Whenever the going gets tough, we often find that our minds are wired to find excuses to skip that workout or to sleep in just a little bit more, even though that particular action or activity does not really serve us. Sometimes sleeping in makes us even more lethargic, and we just want to laze around for no particular reason, causing us to fall into the vicious cycle of procrastination, laziness, and lethargy.

It is important to catch ourselves whenever we find ourselves making excuses to skip the yoga practice, or to cancel that particular activity on the eleventh hour. Try not to entertain such thoughts and think about how you often feel after the yoga practice or the particular activity. We often do not regret waking up an extra hour early to get that work out in. Similarly, when we focus on how we feel after the activity (happier, more relaxed, increased productivity), we entertain less of the excuses we make for ourselves. Rewiring the brain to think of more constructive, positive, and productive thoughts can go a long way in eliminating procrastination that we often struggle with in our daily lives.

3. Concentrate on your locus of control

Focus on the things that you can make a difference on, rather than the things that you often cannot control. This allows you to become a more empowered person who is able to make little changes to your lives according to the goals that you want to achieve. For instance, you may not be able to control the time you knock off from work because of circumstances beyond your control, but you are able to make full use of your mornings before work, and evenings / nights after work. Too tired to do an asana practice? Just a simple pranayama exercise before bed can help you sleep better and prepare you for next day’s work. This allows you to approach your goals and habit changes in a more constructive manner, preventing you from beating yourself up over it whenever you fall out of your routine or when unexpected changes happen.

I hope that this Friday evening intention assignment has provided you with a direction in your yoga practice both on and off the mat. Tips to share? Feel free to share them with me via the comments below. Have a great Week-End! x

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ParkoLife | The Art of Surrender

It's Friday. A brand new Week-End has started! I My soul will keep you good company while cultivating the art of surrender – in our asana practice, and in our own mental and spiritual practice off the mat.

Creatures of control

Humans are creatures of control. We are often unable to find comfort in the presence of uncertainty, and seeking control in every single aspect of our lives is akin to looking for that elusive target that will never present itself. The journey to seeking control thus becomes stressful and discouraging.

Whenever we start to covet over control and answers in every single situation, we unknowingly build an obsession over outcomes. We become dominated and controlled by our worries, fears, and disappointments. Life becomes a little more draining and tiring whenever we feel that control is slipping out of our hands.

However, what we do not often realise is that there is a limit in terms of what we can control in our lives. We may be able to make decisions and exert control over our decisions, actions, intentions, emotions, but a huge chunk of our lives also rely on other people’s decisions, actions, intentions, and emotions that are entirely out of our control. Attempting to seek control over something that we have no influence over is just like trudging in thick mud – you exhaust your energy but you don’t really get anywhere.

Letting go

From this evening, let's start seeking surrender on the mat by finding physical relaxation and surrender in poses that you often find a lot of tightness in. In a deep hamstring stretch or hip opener, such as seated forward fold or pigeon pose, tap deep into your body’s physiological awareness and find that space where you can ease your body into. We often hold tightness in parts of our body without actually realising it, even in our asana practice. When we are able to tap into that and find release and space within our bodies, we can more easily able to extrapolate the physical release to our mental, or spiritual release – is there something deep in your consciousness that you are holding on to, unwilling to let go?

Finding motivation in surrender

Finding surrender is not synonymous to letting go of motivation, letting things come and go as they wish. The art of surrender entails working hard, doing your best, doing what is right, but at the same time, letting go of any attachments of the outcome there may be. Understanding that you have tapped into your potential and have done your best, and the process and journey matters more than the outcome itself. Most of the time, we often find that the outcome is always for the better – we are often able to derive valuable life’s lessons and learning points when we stay present in the experience, no matter whether it is a positive or negative outcome.

Surrender is not passivity. It is knowing when and where to put in your best effort, and understanding that at the end of the day, every single thought and action that you take will manifest into greater personal growth no matter what the outcome may be.

I hope this Week-End intention assignment has sparked some inspiration for you both on and off the mat in this coming week. Have a great evening everybody!

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ParkoLife | The art of Self-Love

Happy Monday to you! This is Chiara! Finally I am coming up, leaving some space from motherhood every-day-challenge to reconnect to my Yoga world.

I've decided to keep you good company by creating a small post selection called Weekly Intentions.

This week’s intention is all about cultivating the beautiful habit of self-love, in approaching both your asana practice, as well as the practice of the mind.

The power of self-love.

Self-love has been a concept that is constantly talked about especially in the recent years, but yet at the same time, it is something that many of us struggle to practice.

Harnessing the power of self-love will not only transform the relationship with yourself, and also the relationship that you share with other people as well as practicing detachment from the material. Fully believing in your fullest potential, cultivating better understanding of your strengths and weaknesses, and taking mindful and healthful steps to eventually achieve your potential – be it physical, mental, spiritual – can also help you become better versions of yourself.

Here are some ways in which you can get started to cultivating greater self love in your daily lives:

1. Reframe negative self talk.

We often find ourselves engaging in negative self-talk, be it consciously or subconsciously. Sometimes we have the tendency to talk down to ourselves whenever we experience obstacles in our lives, no matter on or off the mat. It is important to reframe the way we speak to ourselves and understand that these negative self-talk go a long way in reducing self-esteem, confidence, and provides a higher tendency for us to give up whenever we are met with difficulties.

Instead of saying, “I am weak, I can’t do this at all”, say “If I continue to work hard, I will be able to achieve this one day”.

Or, instead of saying, “I will never be like him/her”, say “I am inspired by him/her to stay disciplined and one day I will achieve my target.”

That way, reframing negative self talk can help us seek out productive and sustainable ways for us to continue to find self-improvement, without constantly putting ourselves down.

2. Practice acceptance in your life.

While it is easy to practice acceptance whenever life seems fine and dandy, it is often difficult to find acceptance whenever the going gets tough. Being aware that impermanence of both the ups and downs allow us to stay a lot more present in life and stop constantly seeking and living in the future. Accepting that ‘this too, shall pass’ helps us to find contentment even when presented with challenges in life, and allow us to cope even with obstacles in the way.

Instead of constantly wishing that “I could have done this”, or “This would’ve been better”, trust that the path that you have set upon is the path that you are meant to undertake, and the challenges that you are presented with are life’s lessons that you are meant to learn as you grow as an individual.

3. Understand the power of choice in your emotions.

Whenever we are presented with negative situations or people in life, no matter in personal or professional life, we almost always react immediately to the situation and we often find ourselves getting consumed in anger, stress, and negativity. As we cultivate a habit to constantly take a step back and look at the situation in a more rational and less emotional way, we are often able to convince ourselves that our immediate reaction is not always the most healthy one – to our personal well-being at least. Especially in the case of negative situations, whenever we are able to understand that we have the power of choice to react (or not), and how we can react, we are able to stay calmer, more grounded, and a lot less high-strung.

We often create our reality through our own thoughts and emotions, and as a result, we also give out the energy that we have within us to the people around us.

I hope that this week’s intention assignment will provide you greater guidance in setting your intention both on and off the mat, helping you to create a more mindful yoga practice. Do share with me how your week went, and I will be more than happy to hear your thoughts and experiences. Have a beautiful week ahead! x

Photo credit: Leonardo Wong/ Unplash

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ParkoLife | Chiara-My first yoga blog <br /><br />

I feel the urge to write this post mainly for two reasons:

the first is because we need to update and the second is because now that I'm home, at the 9th month of this beautiful pregnancy surfing between internet and a very intense nesting instinct, I want to make sure that everything that has to do with my work is sorted before the baby is born ( If you are a mom you know what I mean).

Here below you will find 3 of the most simple and basic questions that every one starting a yoga practice will ask to him/herself or the teacher.

1)Why to start yoga ?

2)What are the benefits of yoga ?

3)There is so much out there about yoga, how can I realize which style is the best for me?

First of all I like to make a short introduction:

I am not a yoga teacher, I am a yoga instructor. You can define a Yoga Teacher somebody that is in high consciousness about the practice, as for example, Sri Dharma Mritta, B.K.S Iynegar or Sri Pattabhhi Jois. The yoga teacher is a Master, not just somebody who creates a new yoga style, but somebody that can achieve enlightenment because of his devotion to the practice.

Instead a yoga instructor is someone that simulates the highest teaching from a particular branch or school and make them available to others.

That's why I say I am a yoga instructor. Maybe in ten or fifteen years I will be able to be called yoga teacher but not now….

Before answering the questions above I'd like to make another statement: you need To Be Humble to approach yoga. Seeking for compassion to yourself and to the environment around your life. Keep on reading, and you will find out why I say this...

And now my answers:

1)You don't start practicing yoga. Yoga finds you when the time is right.

It is like a fruit, when you are ready, when you are ripped, then yoga picks you! How funny! Basically you don't need to choose anything, Yoga will approach you when you are ready for it.

2) Please, avoid saying that by doing yoga you will lose weight!

You won't!!!! simple as that.

You will not lose those extra kilos of fat around your belly or your hips, as you will not decrease from size 12 to size 8 in just one month by doing 108 Sun Salutation.

Instead, I'd like to answer in this way:

By practicing yoga you will activate your metabolism, learn how to breathe correctly, eventually to inhale and exhale simultaneously with your lungs, diaphragm and heart beat. This process generates a sense of rest and calmness. And this is the main difference!


When you are calm you're more willing to have a proper digestion and sleep properly. When you feel calm there is no need to hurry into life and every decision comes more smoothly to you.

These are some of the effects of yoga which can make you just more relaxed to take your life to the next level.

So, for some people this means, to lose weight and for others to have a better muscle definition. And of course, this also means to acquire flexibility into ligaments.

Is this what happened to you when you started your own yoga practice? Because it happened to me in the same way!

When I started yoga immediately I slept better. My -forgotten- back pain got reduced and because of some asanas I felt more flexible and immediately I was more confident about my body. And more willing to start a diet! Easy.

But of course I couldn't expect to lose those 5-6 kilos unless I started to eat less calories! Here you go….always at the same point.... to lose weight you have to eat less and probably exercise more but this is another story not to do with yoga now….

3) Read carefully:

“What sport you practice?”

“I practice yoga”

"There are so many different kinds of yoga, which one is yours?"


Unless you become a fan, you will not know the difference between one style of yoga or the other. You will just say I practice yoga. Which is fine. Which is cool. And this represents your entrance ticket to a beautiful yoga Hub- soooo, Welcome Yogi!.

You remember when I said to be humble when you approach yoga? Right, so I'm going back to my first point: doesn't matter what, when you're ready, yoga, any kind of yoga will choose you!

But when you want to go deeper into your practice, that's the moment you need to start taking responsibility for your own body as your enthusiasm can damage your body in the same way you initially started...

Take the highest responsibility for your practice, it doesn’t matter where, if in the group, at the gym, or with a qualified instructor, as long as you really know what you are doing. And be curious. Ask questions. Talk about the answers. Don't be afraid to ask, Why should I do a certain position if it doesn't feel right for me? You have all the rights to take care of yourself! At the end of the day the person knowing your body the most is you not your teacher or your yoga instructor. I've been practicing many different kinds of yoga especially when I was in London, where it was like a supermarket cart, every day at the end of my busy work I usually went to a different yoga studio and experienced a new yoga style or instructor. If where you live is not possible to do so, just make yourself best friend with your laptop/smartphone and google different kinds of yoga on YouTube, Facebook pages or on your favorite social network. I am sure you will find one or two styles that will light you up!.

Taking responsibility for your own body can be an hard task. But if you don't look after it, nobody will.

Be proud of any achievements you can do through the days and the formula is: Try hard and you will succeed.

Avoid to blame the teacher if the class wasn't nice. Look into yourself to find responsibilities and you will find the treasure of Yoga.

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"I Love Yoga Retreat " ParkoLife