2021 Interview

WELL Interview



Om Yoga Magazine - 2021

Man on the Mat

Om Yoga Magazine 2021

The Five Koshas


Annamaya Kosha
We should probably start with the physical body, Annamaya Kosha. Our bodies, of course, define all of us in very real ways. This is the first of the five selfs.
Some people barely inhabit their own skin. As James Joyce wrote: “Mr Duffy lived a short distance from his body” — and we all know someone like that! At the same time, some people perhaps over inhabit their physicality with obsessions such as physical training, diet or facial and bodily reconstruction. Some of the contestants in Love Island might fall into this category! Others carry their emotions or identity with their bodies — depressed, aggressive, confident - we can recognise all of these.

To truly get into this first kosha we need to learn again to listen to the whispered messages from our physical bodies — which we have forgotten to do. Asana is a perfect way to find this awareness. Once you start tuning into the body with yoga postures you will quickly learn to feel grounded, more present, and to listen again to the body. You may recognise your own strengths and weaknesses and how other factors really affect the physical body, such as good nutrition and quality sleep.


Pranamaya Kosha
The first of the three more subtle bodies is the energy body or Pranamaya Kosha. Yogis talk of prana or energy, which is similar to Chi in Chinese medicine or Ki in Japanese martial arts. This energy is often translated as ‘vital force’ but in fact is seen as more than this, like the original creative force which is said to exist in animate and inanimate objects.

While the energy body can have a powerful effect on the physical and mental bodies, it is helpful to first understand how our energy is intrinsically linked to our breath. On a simple level, slowing down the rate of breathing , using the abdomen and inhaling and exhaling through the nose can have very positive affects on all the major systems of the body. This is validated by simple bio-feedback devices, like decreases in heart rate or blood pressure; the mind becomes calmer too with better, more regulated breathing. Dedicated breathing practices in yoga form one of the eight limbs and are known as pranayama. You can increase your levels of prana simply by using the breath.


Manomaya Kosha
Next we have the thought body or mental body, the Manomaya Kosha. Einstein famously said that if you have one of two great thoughts in your lifetime you’ve done well! What he was probably really trying to say was that so many of the thoughts inside our heads are just noise, or chatter — often unhelpful or critical. The ancient yogis knew this, of course, and in Yoga Sutra #2, Patanjali advises us that yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations and modifications of the mind (‘Yogash citta vritti nirodha’|). Overactive minds can affect emotions and the nervous system, and often not in a good way.

At the same time we need the thought body to perceive the world, to function and to make sense of all that is around us. The scriptures tell us that there are different layers to the mental body — passing and cursory thoughts or emotions, and then more powerful deeper thought patterns that you may have acquired through your upbringing or culture, such as beliefs and opinions or just accumulated mental patterns that become habitual. Known as Samaras in Sanskrit these deeper thought grooves can dominate our thinking often in a negative way, so paying attention to the stories inside our heads is an effective way of tuning in properly to the thought body.


Vijnanamaya Kosha
After that comes the wisdom body, the Vijnanamaya Kosha. The last of the three subtle bodies, this body may take a bit more time to cultivate. While the physical practices of yoga help us to step into the first three bodies, the wisdom body may require a bit more work and can be more easily accessed through meditation. The Vijnanamaya Kosha is quite different from the thought body and can be understood as an inner knowing, intuition or insight. It exists beneath the constant stream of thoughts we experience (reckoned to be about 60,000 per day) as a higher intelligence. When we try to access the higher self, or the wisdom body, we want the thinking mind to quieten so we are almost witnessing what is going on and not getting attached to prevalent thought patterns.

A lot of creatives, whether artists, writers or musicians, talk about using the wisdom body or tapping into an inner knowing when they need to get the creative juices flowing. Words, images or melodies may feel better than others and this can be a direct highway to the wisdom body. When you next practice yoga you might try with a specific pose to really sense what you are feeling beneath the pose; this can be a way to access the wisdom body.


Anandamaya Kosha
Finally there is the bliss body, or Anandamaya Kosha. Admittedly, today, happiness seems to be on sale and commoditised by every life coach or personal development guru (“Sign on to my online course today to tap into your unlimited true happiness!”). But the bliss body is accessible to us all and in more moments than we might think. Although some say it is the most hidden part of us, the great sages rightly believed that life was joyful and it was a gift to be alive. Accepting that love is the deepest reality separate from our own expectations lies at the heart of it.

When you are truly in the flow and doing something you love you may have experienced the bliss body. Or perhaps totally engrossed in a magical sunset, a beautiful piece of music or an uplifting moment in a film, you dip in for a fleeting few seconds to just experience the goodness of life. Contact with the bliss body can be developed through mantra, meditation and prayer, through ecstatic dance, asana or deep relaxation practices like yoga nidra, or even through walks in nature.


Yoga Magazine - 2020

Its all about sleep, or is it? - Yoga Nidra: By Stephen Marks


Om Yoga Magazine  - Oct 2019

Stephen Marks is the MAN on the MAT:

As the healthy building movement gains traction, critical questions regarding the connection between hard and soft data are being investigated by leading industry figures. Such questions formed the premise of a GWI roundtable, held 9th July, 2019.


Supported by HKS, an international design firm, and moderated by Stephen Marks, CEO of Mind Body Building Limited, the specialist panel engaged in lively conversation about the trajectory and challenges of the $3.7 trillion wellness industry.


Stephen Marks makes the connection between light and wellbeing - July 2019

There is a tendency for recent publications and reports on healthy buildings to focus predominately on air quality:

It’s almost as if Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) particularly is sucking the oxygen out of the room! Perhaps we should look more at the topic of light and on how many levels this is critical to our health and understanding of how buildings can best enhance and support us.


Natural light is the most sought-after feature that employees want in the workplace


Boutique Hotel Lifestyle News - July 2019

GWI Roundtable review: Hard Data behind the Soft Data – The Value of Wellness in Real Estate and Hospitality Projects:

As the healthy building movement gains traction, critical questions regarding the connection between hard and soft data are being investigated by leading industry figures. Such questions formed the premise of a GWI roundtable, held 9th July, 2019.


Supported by HKS, an international design firm, and moderated by Stephen Marks, CEO of Mind Body Building Limited, the specialist panel engaged in lively conversation about the trajectory and challenges of the $3.7 trillion wellness industry.


Yoga Magazine - April 2018

Technology - Friend or Foe for Health and Wellness?:

If you look to the world of films then the question of whether computers, robots or artificial intelligence will ultimately save or destroy the world has already been well covered!


Films like 2001 Space Odyssey, I Robot, Terminator and more recently Blade Runner 2049 all deal with this question. While these glimpses of the future may seem dramatic, we are already seeing technology change the way we live at an accelerating rate. But how do we decide today whether technology actually enhances our health or causes it to suffer?


Well Buildings - February 2018

All shall be WELL when it comes to leases:

Property and wellness may seem like surprising bedfellows but the healthy building movement looks like it

is here to stay. The WELL Building Standard is probably the most globally recognised metric encapsulating how to incorporate health-driven standards.


While there is some overlap with the green movement and the environment and sustainability agenda (think LEED and BREEAM), WELL is the first standard to deal exclusively with human health and buildings. As the landscape changes, landlords and tenants need to be mindful of what questions should be covered at the due diligence stage, and then what additional obligations need to be imposed in leases. This is clearly new territory for all concerned.


Om Magazine - March 2018

4 Yogic Tools for Sleep:

After a common cold, the second most popular reason to visit the doctor is for insomnia or bad sleeping patterns. While it may not be immediately obvious, there are numerous practices within yoga which can really assist with a good night’s sleep.


We all know how difficult it is to survive without proper sleep and there is more and more research coming out all the time which suggests that premature ageing and illness can result where we become sleep deprived. However, by practicing breathing, special meditative techniques and a couple of specific yoga postur es, a good night’s sleep can be within your reach.


Cambridge University Land Society - December 2017

Well Buildings:

Winston Churchill said "we shape our buildings and afterwards they shape us". Standing back and seeing how far we have developed our buildings' relationship with the environment and energy saving technologies (think LEED and BREEAM), now the focus is on human health - the interplay between man and building. To put it more accurately, how buildings best interact with us to enhance our wellbeing and wellness. The World Green Building Council produced a report in September 2014 (updated 2016) which concluded the the design of a building has a material impact on the wellbeing and productivity of its occupants. So is it really time for the property industry to stand up and take note of all this? Here are five areas to consider in answering this question.


Om Spirit - November 2017

Yoga Nidra and the Brain:

If you look around today you will see that Yoga Nidra is growing in popularity. While some yogis seek more active and dynamic physical forms others are increasingly drawn to more relaxation-based yoga and meditative practices.


Let us simply see Nidra as a two-fold process involving deep relaxation and leading in some cases to a deep yet conscious sleep.


While the ancient yogis and sages used Yoga Nidra on a spiritual level to purify their Samskara - the scars of their former lives - today there is much more emphasis on the deep relaxation benefits of Yoga Nidra. This distinction or two-fold process is also important in demonstrating how the different brain states work during Nidra.


Inspired Wellbeing - September 2017

The rise of healthy buildings:


As the wellness revolution continues even buildings are learning now to be healthy. This is not as far-fetched as it seems and the Global Wellness Institute listed wellness architecture as one of its key wellness trends for 2017. Can buildings really ever be healthy? If we are truly entering the era of well buildings what does this look like?


Intercontinental Finance & Law Magazine - June 2017


At first glance the worlds of work and mindfulness may not have much in common.


However the practice of a few simple techniques could help you get through the day from hell and just may assist with that Holy Grail we like to call Work/Life balance?


FIRST THINGS FIRST. To the uninitiated the difference between meditation and mindfulness may not be clear. Meditation is an umbrella term that encompasses achieving concentration, consciousness and self-regulation of the mind. Mindfulness is the act of focussing on being present in the moment. Mindfulness can actually be a form of meditation. So they are actually two sides of the same coin and overlap and complement each other.


 Yoga Alliance - 25th February 2017

6 Areas to watch in studio teaching contracts:

What have yoga teachers and lawyers got in common?The answer might be more than you think ! It is not just stressed out lawyers who need yoga teachers to help alleviate aches and pains from years spent hunched over a desk.


As some yoga studios become bigger and more powerful has anyone stopped to ask whether the contracts yoga teachers are asked to sign are fair or not? READ MORE...

 Ohmme Yoga - five reasons to start a self practice - 19th January 2017

There comes a time in everyone’s yoga journey where we decide to practice a bit of yoga on our own outside of the comfort zone of the studio.


There are in fact some really good reasons why you should be encouraged to take this step sooner than you think.


Here’s 5…



 Bad Yogi - teaching yoga at festivals - 23rd February 2017

Festivals are certainly all the rage these days and for those looking to broaden their teaching horizon this can be the perfect opportunity to test yourself out, try some new teaching methods or simply have some fun with a slightly different crowd.


But for those new to the game I would offer five tips after a summer of teaching yoga and meditation at music festivals throughout the UK. You may have to be as flexible in your approach as in your practice but I promise you it will always be worth it!



 Yogalife Dubai - Five Wellness Trends for 2017 - 6th March 2017

Winston Churchill was quoted as saying " We shape our buildings and then they shape us."  While the focus over the last 10-15 years has been on buildings and the environment we are now seeing a new focus on man and building.


There is real momentum in currently analysing how buildings best interact with human health and a new metric has been carefully put together and endorsed in America known as the WELL Building certification.

This deals with obvious areas such as air quality, exposure to light, water quality and sound insulation but also deals with effects on the human mind of the design of buildings, approaches to food served in buildings, promotion of physical exercise and policies geared towards activity such as standing desks.



 London Bisnow - Healthy  Buildings - 6th March 2017

Beyond Sustainability: How Modern Offices Are Actually Making You Healthier


Absenteeism costs UK companies £16B per year, and most of those absences were due to mental and muscular problems rooted in work habits. The body was not meant to sit for nine hours a day hunched over a workstation, breathing recycled air, blinking in overhead fluorescent lights and a too-bright monitor.



 Sivana Spirit - November 2016

Yoga is primarily aimed towards meditation.


That’s right – it is not just about handstands and bendy bodies!


The yoga sutras tell us that there are 8 limbs of yoga (only one of which is physical practice) which are essentially dedicated toward getting the mind ready for ultimate self-knowledge through meditation.



 Yoga magazine - October 2016

When was the last time you had a really good sleep?


Now there’s a question that resonates with most of us! But could the answer to better sleep and deeper relaxation lie in the practice of yoga nidra?


For, as modern sleep technology in the form of watches, apps, medication and beds tries to convince us it has the answers, if we turn our attention to yoga nidra we may achieve what we are looking for on a deeper level.


But what exactly do we mean by yoga nidra and where did it come from? And how does it sit within the eight limbs of yoga? I will explore these issues and also give a whistle-stop tour of the main nidra schools and what links them all together.



 Inspired Wellbeing - October 2016

5 reasons why men should do yoga.


It's not your imagination. Yoga really does appear to be taking over the world.


Up until recently it has been largely women who have been doing yoga and benefiting from it. Yet there are many reasons why men should engage with this powerful and ancient practice.


Click Image for larger view.

 Yogalife Dubai - July 2016

If you practice yoga you may well have heard of yoga nidra.


This ancient practice really came to prominence first in the West in the 1970’s. It has become increasingly popular in the last five years-but how and ultimately why? The answer lies in the many benefits of yoga nidra. But before we look at five reasons why you

should try it, first let us get a better understanding of what yoga nidra is and what it involves...



Sivana Spirit - May 2016

Meditation – it’s not just that boring bit at the end or beginning of the class!


There are some very persuasive reasons to incorporate it into your yoga practice.




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I will be regularly  posting on my blog and providing updates on my Twitter and Instagram feeds.

Thanks Steve

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Stephen Marks Yoga,

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