Pilates in Tornagrain: New class for the new year

I’m delighted to be able to tell you I’m starting a new Pilates class at the bespoke Pilates studio in Tornagrain this month.

The class will have a maximum of 10 participants and is on from 11.30-12.30 on Thursday mornings, starting 16th January. There are currently only a few spaces left. The cost for the six week block is £54.

Before attending a block of general classes, it is studio policy that you need to come to a one-to-one or very small group introductory session. A Pilates introductory session goes over important principles of technique and alignment. It allows the teacher to get to know the individual student in a one-to-one or very small group setting, and gives the student the opportunity to assess whether they wish to go on to a full block of classes. I ran two introductory sessions on Thursday 9th in Tornagrain. If you weren’t able to attend these, you are very welcome to book a private introductory session at my home studio in Nairn (£30/hour one-to-one. If 2 or 3 people wish to come at the same time, that £30 investment is divided equally between them). Please contact me to arrange a mutually convenient time.

Full block: Thursdays 11.30am-12.30pm 16/1, 23/1, 30/1, 6/2, 13/2, 20/2. Max 10 participants. £54. As explained above, it is only possible to come to the block if you’ve completed an introductory session.  Booking a session or booking the whole block is done by transferring your payment – places cannot be reserved without payment. Please contact me for payment details.

The venue for the six week block is Sarah Hunt’s beautiful bespoke Pilates studio in Tornagrain. You can find out much more about the studio by clicking on that hyperlink, but here’s a photo of its loveliness:

Pilatesintorngrain - Studio 6.jpg

A final word for Skye folk: Pilates teachers/studios tend to run block booking systems. While this is great for class participants (and teachers) in terms of continuity and progression, and also encouraging committed regular attendance, I used to find it a bit frustrating when I lived on Skye and couldn’t drop in on city classes on the rare occasions I was there. SO – if you regularly did Pilates with me on Skye, happen to be over on the east coast and would like to join my class – please email and let me know. The studio has 12 spaces but I have capped my class at 10, so there is space for the occasional Skye Pilates person to join us!

Take Five: Home practice sessions for people who come to my yoga classes

In the last six years, I’ve often been asked by people coming to my yoga classes if I could provide them with a resource for home practice – not a recommendation of books or DVDs from other yoga teachers, but something developed by me, based on the content of the yoga classes they have done with me. I started working on a booklet called ‘Take Five’ about three years ago, working as and when possible since then to develop five varied home practice sequences, trial them, type them up, add drawings, ask a trusty guinea-pig to try them out, make revisions, and try them all again myself. Even the process of getting quotes for printing and binding has been surprisingly time-consuming. It has been an interesting learning experience for me, and I’m delighted I’ve finally managed to complete a the booklet and it will soon be available to folk – some of whom have been waiting patiently for a long time for it!

I wanted the booklet to be A4, with large enough print to read easily from a bit of a distance, and for it to ‘open flat’… because I’ve spent a lot of time trying to use others’ books as a resource, wedging them open with a heavy wooden block or whatever else I could find to hand, or standing in a pose whilst peering unsuccessfully at the small print down by my mat.

50 copies of my ‘Take Five’ booklet have been printed by Nairn printers Piccolo Press, with card covers and spiral binding. ‘Take Five’ will be available for £10 per booklet – a price I’ve chosen to cover printing costs and the time taken to draw the stick yogis and to arrange quotes/printing… This cost doesn’t pay me in any way for the hours spent developing and typing up the sequences. If I wanted to pay myself minimum wage for that, each booklet would cost around £150, which is obviously not viable!

Please note the booklet is specifically intended for people who have regularly come to my classes. As a rough guide, I reckon it should make complete sense to you, if you’ve done 6 months or more of weekly classes with me anytime in the last several years (or the equivalent, i.e. 25 classes+, spread out over a few years). It is NOT suitable to buy as a gift for those who have never done yoga with me, and it is probably not suitable for some who have only done a couple of months’ classes with me. But for some people also in that category, it’d be fine. So if in doubt, please email to ask me, and I’ll be able and happy to advise – I have a very good memory for how often individuals have been to classes with me, and how they got on while there!

I am coming to Skye with copies at the start of October. I’m offering a 2 hour workshop in the Church of Scotland Hall, York Drive, Portree, starting at 10.30am, on Saturday 5th October. In the workshop, we’ll run through the booklet content (approximately – obviously, we won’t be doing the exact routines including five Savasanas in 2hrs!). Those booked in to the workshop will be charged £20 including the booklet, i.e. they will be getting the yoga teaching at the bargainous price of £5 per hr. People who can’t or don’t want to come to the workshop can also pick up their booklet from me at the Isle of Skye Bakery in Portree between 1.30 & 2.30pm on Friday 4th October, or arrange to get it the next time I am in Skye. Payment only when you actually collect the booklet/attend the workshop, please – for ease of administration, there will be NO advance payments/bank transfers this time.

Many of you saw the penultimate draft of ‘Take Five’ at my Skye yoga workshops in June. For those who didn’t, here’s a bit more info about the ‘Take Five’ booklet to help you make up your mind whether it might be useful to you.


The booklet consists of a title page, an introductory page, and a total of 21 pages for the five yoga routines.

From the introductory page:

The five sessions are in no particular order and there is no need to rotate through them in turn. No time lengths are given, because you can do more or fewer repetitions, longer or shorter holds, and add more time to relax or meditate as you wish. Remember there is no ‘One Right Way’ to do yoga – these are simply variations, and cues I use in class which many people seem to find helpful. Make it your own! Listen to your body and your breathing. Feel free to add in extra poses which feel right, or otherwise modify the routines as you get to know them better. I suggest you try all of the sessions a few times through, so you are familiar with them. After that, choose whichever feels most appropriate on any given day, depending on factors such as your energy level, mood, time of day, how warm/cold you or the room you’re in feels, and how much time you have. You’ll probably develop a favourite session or two, and that’s fine. But bear in mind self-study/self-awareness is important in yoga, so if you notice you keep doing the same session, or avoiding a particular session, ask yourself why!

Please note this booklet is designed for those who have regularly attended my classes and as such are familiar with the content, and with additional teaching points I cover during classes. Please do not pass this booklet on to others or allow them to photocopy it.

As I always emphasise: take responsibility for your own yoga practice and wellbeing, ensure you are ‘comfortable and steady’ and breathing easily as you practise…and enjoy yourself!

Two random sample pages of the format/content:

Take 5 p5

Take 5 p7


June yoga workshops on Skye

This one’s for the Skye folk…

I am happy to say I can offer two yoga sessions in Edinbane Hall at the start of June. Both are open to anyone who is able to do a mat-based class, i.e. can do poses from standing, lying, sitting and kneeling positions. However, the Saturday session might be a bit overwhelming for a beginner who has not done any yoga with me previously. Here’s the details:

Saturday 1st June, 10.15am-12.15pm. £14. This is the promised two-hour version of the session I edited down to fit into 90 minutes in York Drive Hall the last time I was back on Skye! It would be nice to do it full justice…I called it “No ‘one right way'” on my plan, and we will basically (after doing a gentle dynamic warm-up) be exploring different variations of classic poses: Trikonasana/Triangle; Uttanasana/Standing forward fold; Virabhadrasana 2/Warrior 2; Parsvakonasana/Side angle; Adho Mukha Svanasana/Downward dog; Balasana/Child. Within the session there is additionally quite a bit of focus on shoulder and mid-back mobility.

Sunday 2nd June, 3.30-5pm. £10. A 90 minute general level session. Content still to be decided, so feel free to make requests via email!

Booking options for these two sessions are the same as they were when I was living on Skye. It’s been a while, so if you need to refresh your memory, please click on the ‘Booking’ tab on this website and read the info about the booking options and process before emailing me.

I hope you can join me! I’m looking forward to doing yoga with you again 🙂 Catherine

Hands-on help, or hands off? Your choice and consent in yoga

Have you ever had a yoga teacher ‘help’ you in a way that was uncomfortable, embarrassing or painful? Have teachers touched or moved you physically without asking you first? And when they do ask first, often by saying something like ‘is it okay if I just…[whatever]?’ would you feel confident, or simply have enough time, to say “no, it’s not okay” before you were touched?


This year I am trialling the use of markers known by various names such as ‘assist chips’ and ‘consent tokens’. I began using these with my regular, longstanding yoga class members on Skye in January. From April, I will be using them in my new home town on the east coast, in a brand new class with people who have mostly not met me before. I’m writing this post partly for any of these students – longterm or new – who would like to know more about what we’ve talked about in class. I’ll be delighted to have feedback from class participants, and also from any others reading this post, about their opinions and experience of assist chips (via the comments box, email or in person) .

Read on for more info!



As a yoga teacher with a career background in the social sciences (in ethnography and in research with children, both fields in which ethics and informed consent are discussed and written about extensively), I think about these things rather a lot. I reflect on issues of consent, choice, group dynamics, and the fact that whether we teachers like to recognise it or not, the teacher/student relationship has a dimension of power imbalance to it.  I try to be mindful of the fact I can’t possibly know how individuals would feel about me moving their arm slightly – it may be helpful, or no big deal, or they may be averse to it due to having had a bad previous experience with a yoga teacher pushing them forcefully into a position, or they may have a past trauma which could be triggered by something which seems innocuous to me. I try to be tactful, and of course I would never want to hurt anyone or make them feel foolish, or scared. Even so, in years of teaching, I’ve surely at some point unsettled or maybe even upset someone by doing something I assumed was clear, accepted and unthreatening – when it wasn’t, from their point of view – or simply chosen my words badly and made them feel uncomfortable or hurt.

In my classes on Skye over the last several years, I’ve repeatedly emphasised that ‘good’ yoga involves practising in a way that feels right for you, as an individual, on this particular day. That it’s about paying attention to how things feel for you, and doing what’s right for you, and never feeling you have to do something because the person on the next mat is doing it, or because a teacher says so. Regularly but much less frequently, I’ve let people know there is debate and differing opinion amongst teachers about whether and when it’s appropriate to give individual assistance in a class setting – physical or even verbal. I’ve explained that I personally find gentle physical assists very helpful, from a teacher I trust, and that I find it can be helpful to give them too, but I’m aware not everyone likes or wants this – and they should feel free to tell me so, at any point, whether in class, privately in person, or by email.

However, I felt I could probably be dealing with these issues better, and that I was not having to work out a way of doing so, because I was teaching small classes, in a rural community where I was well known in general.  I was also mainly teaching ‘regulars’ who I knew pretty well – and I knew they wouldn’t still be coming to my classes if they didn’t like my approach. So, I’ve been watching the growth of debate about consent and touch in the yoga teaching community with interest, including the development of physical tokens which all the people in a class have and use to show whether they wish to be assisted or not – ever, or that day, or at particular times within the class.

Several months ago, when our (protracted) move from the west coast to the east began, it occurred to me now was the time to make some changes, because at some point in 2019 I would be starting from scratch, teaching yoga in a new community where I know and am known by very few people. My initial infants teacher impulse (yes, another past career!) was to make big tiddlywinks-style tokens which were green for go on one side and red for stop on the other. Then I realised it might be wise to read up on it a bit more. I came across two short posts by Theo Wildcroft which I found particularly helpful. You can read them here: More Chips Please! and here: Trauma Sensitive.

I really liked the sound of the ethos behind the chips developed by Eunice Laurel which are pictured above. They were designed in collaboration with survivors of sexual violence, who chose the colours in preference to that less than subtle green/red traffic light imagery I nearly went for. The chips have been thoughtfully designed and made, and all proceeds from their sale goes to Movement for Healing (making yoga available to women in London’s rape crisis centres). And the chips look great and are nice to handle, too.

Eunice was lovely to communicate with and order from, so if I’m ever in London I’ll certainly try to get to one of her classes! When her parcel arrived it felt like it was my birthday – it was beautifully packaged, with little extras and a personally written card explaining a bit more about Movement for Healing.


I used the chips during my final week’s teaching in Skye, and I’d like to say a big thank you here to all the regulars in those three yoga sessions, who listened to me explaining what it was all about, discussed with me what they thought of the chips (and the issues in general), and helped me learn how to use them, by flipping them over when I wasn’t looking! Yes, I did ask them to do that, because I was particularly concerned that I might not notice a chip had been changed to ‘no thanks’ and assist anyway – not a problem in this particular situation, but potentially very serious in another. Mostly, I saw the change in colour straight way, but one time I didn’t notice it – so that’s something I’ll have to be very careful about, when I use them in classes with people I don’t know so well.

These particular chips are not too light, but even so they moved around on the mats a fair bit during the class, so I’m glad I didn’t make card ones. Currently I’m thinking that when I do start a new class, I’ll put a chip on every mat with ‘no thanks’ face up, say only a little about it initially (because there’s always so much that could be said at the start of a brand new class, and who wants their yoga teacher to give them an hour-long lecture instead of allowing them to begin to move?!) but provide my cards too, so they have a link to this post for more info. And not do any assists initially until we’ve had time to chat about it more. I hope that will work.  I’ve always been cautious, when people are new to yoga or new to me, about approaching them even with individual verbal assistance, because I know so many are quite anxious in their first classes that they may ‘do it wrong’ or ‘hold up the class’ – so unless they look at me with a plea for help with something, or indeed ask, I give them time and space to get accustomed to the atmosphere of the class and get to know me. Once the class is more established, the chips are a way to keep up an ongoing dialogue about issues around consent, choice and assistance in classes, and a reminder that it’s in every individual’s power to make as many choices as they need about it within a session. On a practical level, though, I’m wondering if some or many people will find them a faff – will the chips get accidentally kicked about the room? Will people inadvertently lie down on top of them?! Time will tell…

I’ve never been to a class where assist chips were used – so I’ve never had the experience of using one myself, or seeing how a teacher introduces them. If you have had that experience, or are a teacher who already uses them (or tried them, then decided you weren’t going to keep using them), I’d be really interested to hear from you. Either in the comments box below, or by personal/private communication. Thank you!


Exercising with persistent pain

This started out as a short Facebook post but got quite long, so I thought I’d also share it here for those who don’t view the Facebook page. I often share others’ articles, posts, film clips, websites, etc. on the Catherine McCabe Yoga Facebook page. You don’t have to be a Facebook user to check this page – it’s a public one, and I have several regular students who aren’t on Facebook, who simply go and have a look at the page every week or two to check whether there are any resources they want to follow up. If you ARE a Facebook user, you can ‘like/follow’ the Facebook page via the link here on this website. Please be aware, though, that Facebook is structured such that even if you’re ‘following’ a page, you won’t see all that’s posted on it, unless you actually go to the page itself (my posts certainly WON’T all show up on your own page’s Newsfeed, especially if you don’t tend to comment on anything I post on Facebook).


Here’s a good summary of advice on exercising when you have persistent pain. I don’t know this clinic, but the article was recommended by Shelly Prosko, a Canadian physical therapist and yoga teacher whose work I respect. On a personal level, when I was much younger and first had bouts of severe back pain, I was terrified to move. I felt I should do as little as possible in case I caused myself more pain, or lasting damage. It took many years for me to discover my back pain diminished far more quickly – sometimes disappearing altogether in a few days – if I kept moving. I might have to modify what I was doing in various ways depending on the pain, but it was *always* better for me to do some yoga & walking than none. As a teacher in more recent years, I have often had people say to me they will have to miss yoga because of X, Y or Z pain related issue. Nowadays, I ask people if they’ve discussed what exercise or movements they could do, or should avoid, with their doctor or physio (or other relevant health professional such as consultant, midwife, etc.). If they have been given the go ahead to do what they can manage, I encourage people to come to class, and do what they feel able to do, at any point doing alternatives or resting out altogether if that feels better. Obviously, it depends what the issue is – but in many cases, there’s plenty yoga you can do without aggravating the sore area. If you’ve paid for the class already, why not come along, even if you’re mainly resting in a restorative pose and practising awareness of breathing, or (as my teacher Margy used to remind us can be a powerful practice) lying still whilst visualising in detail yourself doing the pose with ease?! I never mind if people want or need to choose these options during a class – in fact, I’m pleased when people feel safe and confident enough within our group to make their own good yoga choices – and I’ve never heard anyone else IN the class objecting to someone doing something different to them. So never feel you’ll be ‘a nuisance’ if your best yoga that day turns out to be taking lots of rests. The only times I don’t want to see you in class are if you’ve been told by a health professional not to come, or if you are infectious (e.g. you’ve had norovirus and it’s less than 48hrs since you’ve thrown up) and could make others around you ill!

Exercising with persistent pain article from Unity Physiotherapy. It’s short and easily readable, I promise! Even if you’ve never yet experienced persistent pain, it’s worth reading these clear guidelines, so you’re better informed, before it does happen to you someday!

Shelly Prosko’s website PhysioYoga – I recommend subscribing to her email newsletter if you want to keep up with interesting current developments in her fields of interest (including physiotherapy, yoga therapy, pelvic floor health, chronic pain).


Final fling of yoga in Borve!

I will be on Skye for the next ten days or so and I’d love to do some final yoga sessions with you in the Borve studio. If the packing is going really well, I’d like also to do some additional workshops during the last weekend in January, but I’ll have to wait till nearer the time to see if I can squeeze that in!

Meantime, I’m offering three sessions, all starting at 2pm, all lasting at least 90mins (probably more like an hour & three quarters, if everyone looks like they’re enjoying their relaxation…). These will be pay-on-the-day sessions, partly in case we get a lot of snow and I need to cancel, and partly because I won’t have my usual computer/booking set up in Borve this week, so it’s easier to administer pay-on-the-day. Cost £10. Dates: Tues 22nd, Wed 23rd, Thurs 24th.  [Update: Tues and Wed are now fully booked but there is still 1 space on Thurs. If you’d like to book Thurs or be ‘on reserve’ for Tues or Wed, email to let me know!]

Please book your place by emailing me. I will email back confirming you have a space – so make sure you have received that confirmation – if you don’t get a reply from me within about 24hrs, it means I have not received your booking email.

Remember you will need to bring your own mat, blanket and any other gear you like to have – my yoga equipment for borrowing is all packed up and most of it is in Nairn!

All three sessions are general – I will decide what we’re doing on the basis of who has booked in. So feel free to make any special requests for particular asanas, pranayama, etc. when you are booking.

For the benefit of all, can I request the following:

  • Please arrive in time to pay your £10 and get settled before the class starts at 2pm. The door will be unlocked from 1.50pm.
  • In the first instance, please only book 1 or perhaps 2 of the sessions. If you are wanting to come to all 3, by all means tell me you’d like to in your email – and if there are extra spaces I’ll let you know. But I’d like everyone who wants to come this week to get a chance to come to at least one session.
  • Check your diary/other commitments carefully before you send me the booking email – it can inconvenience others if you book then pull out at short notice. If something happens on the day which means you can’t come, please try if at all possible to let me know, by email or text, because I often have people waiting for spaces.
  • Remember to check your email during the morning of the class in case I decide to cancel. (I will only cancel in the unlikely event I’m ill, or if the road is so snowy Borve residents are not driving on it in their normal cars).

If you’re not able to come to any yoga this week, thanks again for your support of ‘yoga in Borve’ and all the very best for 2019. I’ll hope to see you at some point in the not-too-distant future: I’m thinking it would be nice to have some kind of yoga session with the option of lunch or coffee afterwards, in Edinbane during the spring. Let me know if you’d be up for that!

Best wishes, Catherine


Festive season news & class programme

Thank you to all the regulars who have made pop-up sessions during the last two months fun and fully booked.

I’m happy to be able to offer a short and varied programme of teaching in Borve between Christmas and New Year. I hope there’s something for everyone, to tempt you to put down that mince pie, get off the sofa, and leave your relatives behind for an hour or two, while you come to Borve for a lovely stretch, strengthen and relax! All classes are a maximum size of 6 participants.

Image result for christmas yoga copyright freePlease have a careful read of this post then email me if you have any questions or to check there are spaces in any class(es) you want to come to. Don’t send money until I’ve confirmed to you by email there’s space for you and you can go ahead to make a booking payment. If your plans are up in the air, your health is variable, or you are concerned about winter driving conditions, I recommend you don’t advance book – it is absolutely fine to contact me in the 24hrs before any of these sessions to see what ‘last minute’ spaces are available. You can read the full booking & cancellation policy at the ‘Booking’ tab on this website.

Please note that for all classes YOU MUST BRING YOUR OWN MAT – I no longer have a stock of mats to borrow in the Borve studio. 

Festive season programme:

Thursday 27th. Private tuition available by appointment from 2.30pm onwards (see the ‘Private tuition’ tab on this website for more information about this).

Friday 28th. Time: 1-2.30pm. Cost: £10. This session includes an adaptation of Olga Kabel’s sequence ‘Letting go of worry, finding inner peace’, which lends itself well to this time of year, when we are reflecting on how 2018 has gone and our hopes for 2019. A fairly gentle class, in which moves can be easily adapted to make them more or less physically challenging, as is appropriate for individual participants. Feedback from those who have done this session in the past is that it can be profoundly effective – remember, ‘fairly gentle’ definitely doesn’t mean ‘not doing anything’!

Saturday 29th. Time: 2-4pm. Cost: £14. A general level session, inspired by Richard Faulds’ Kripalu Yoga. Potentially more physically demanding than Friday’s class, but modifications/alternatives will be offered throughout. Please note the Saturday and Sunday sessions are not ‘repeats’ of the same class – and you are welcome to come to either or both.

Sunday 30th. Time: 11am-1pm. Cost: £14. A general level session, inspired by Richard Faulds’ Kripalu Yoga. Potentially more physically demanding than Friday’s class, but modifications/alternatives will be offered throughout. Please note the Saturday and Sunday sessions are not ‘repeats’ of the same class – and you are welcome to come to either or both.

Monday 31st. Time: 10.15-11.15am. Cost: £7. Stretch out and gently strengthen. Anyone is welcome in this class, but I’ll try to give booking priority to those who feel the weekend sessions and Monday 11.40am would currently be too much for them.

Monday 31st. Time: 11.40am-12.40pm. Cost: £7. A physically stronger class, adapted from Shiva Rea and Mark Stephens ‘Dancing Warrior’ sequences. Suitable for those with no current joint pain/injury, who enjoy flowing slowly from pose to pose, and getting quite warm in the process!


In other news, our house is currently under offer, and all going well, the new owners will move in on 1st February. Whilst we’re enjoying the exciting changes of our move from west to east coast, I have absolutely loved living and doing yoga here, and am sad that the ‘yoga in Borve’ era is coming to a close. I hope to see as many of you as possible at these December sessions, and I’m planning to offer additional sessions in January. These will be finalised at short notice depending on the circumstances of weather/roads/packing! From February onwards, I hope to offer occasional tuition when I’m back on Skye – perhaps private tuition in people’s own homes, along with workshops in Portree and Edinbane, led by myself and maybe with other Pilates and yoga teachers too. Lots of possibilities! If you’ve not already done so, please make sure you’ve emailed me at catherinemccabeyoga@outlook.com and requested to be on my mailing list, if you’d like to be kept informed of any future yoga/pilates news. You can also click the ‘Follow’ button on this blog if you want to be notified any time I write a new post here (which usually only happens once every month or so at most).

Many thanks to everyone who supported ‘Yoga in Borve’ during 2018. My very best wishes to you and yours for the festive season, however you choose to spend it – and I hope you have a healthy and happy 2019.