No mud, no lotus. Avoiding spiritual bypass.

This month I shared a yogic myth in class. Before I retell that myth here I’d like to point out that all the stories from this tradition are there to highlight the challenges we face as human beings. They are keys to the human psyche and symbolise how we can move through misperceptions that cause us suffering. I mention this in case the terms ‘Gods’ and ‘Demons’ may be triggering — here they simply represent frequencies of consciousness and are not to be taken literally. Also important to note, the Demons in the stories are not considered to be evil, but rather represent the darkness (or ignorance) in our world and in ourselves. The Gods represent the light. So they are both mentioned here in order to acknowledge the duality of human experience. 

With that settled, here is the story… 

One day all the Gods and Demons decided to come together and use their collective power to churn the milky ocean of Consciousness. Their desire was to discover the knowledge (and who knows what else) that lay within its depths. (Below is a picture to go with our story… And yes, they did use a huge serpent for the churning. The Gods and Demons were nothing if not resourceful)

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So they began to churn and churn and churn and to their surprise the first thing to spring from the depths of the ocean was a huge blob of poison! It shot up and out and was heading to a large group of celestial beings who were cowering in fear. But Shiva, in his brilliance and power, jumped up and swallowed the poison and it neutralised in his throat. 

Shaken but undeterred they continued to churn and churn and the next thing that came out was the silvery moon! Very happy with this outcome they proceeded again to churn and churn and out sprung some beautiful jewels! Realising that the deeper they go the better it gets, they churned faster and faster and faster and finally, out from the very bottom of the milky ocean, emerged Goddess Lakshmi. So incredibly beautiful and radiant was this Goddess that they all stopped and basked in her presence. Lakshmi held within her being the frequencies of abundance, beauty, fertility and, most importantly, LOVE. The Gods and Demons felt great satisfaction with their work as the world would now be a more beautiful and rich place with Lakshmi in it.

The end.

The moral of this myth is that most of us step into a spiritual practice like yoga and meditation because we are suffering on some level and want to get to the good stuff. We want Lakshmi; the radiance, abundance and love that will make us feel better in our skin. BUT what inevitably comes up first is… the poison. In contemplative practices like yoga and meditation we are churning the ocean of our own consciousness and the first thing we often meet is that which is unpleasant. We meet the very roots of what drives our pain and this can be overwhelmingly uncomfortable. The teaching here is to not stop at this point. The rest of the story tells us that through persistence we will come to a place of healing and great, great joy.

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Lakshmi is often referred to as Padme. The lotus. And the lotus flower grows in some pretty stenchy and muddy water. So what we learn through our consistent practice of life and yoga, is; no mud, no lotus. Or another way to say it would be —no challenges and pain, no growth and removal of suffering. 

It’s an important teaching in our present world climate because what has become popular is the tendency to do what’s called a ‘spiritual bypass’. Which is the using of our image as ‘spiritual’ to not go deeper into the stuff that is being projected back to us through our relationships and situations. Simply put, we try and skip around it. And we do that for one reason, and one reason only… To avoid PAIN. However, if we don’t go into our stuff and acknowledge, digest and heal it, then it will create even more pain. It will always be the driver of our life because what we resist, will persist. 

Spiritual bypassing is big in the modern world of yoga. The rich teachings of this ancient practice are being lost in the world of fancy asana, getting a shredded body, and practices that serve the ego. We must remember — the postures are a map, not the destination. And if we get stuck going round and around on the map, we get nowhere. 

We step onto the mat for so much more than twisting our bodies into poses. We step onto it to see and heal our stuff. We go through the uncomfortable rites of passage that come up in our practice in order to connect with Source and awaken to who we truly are.

Namaste,

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Emotions with Eckhart Tolle

Expressing emotions. Love this 6 minute discussion on emotions with Eckhart Tolle.

Recognising it as energy - and watch!

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When things fall apart



This short 3 minute clip is inspiring in reminding us how we can turn a break up/challenge/difficulty into an opportunity to get stronger. How yoga philosophy can help us cope when things fall apart.
Namaste,

6 ways to SLOW DOWN

Slowing down is radical in this day and age. An age where…

…we burn with frustration if a website doesn’t load instantly.
…we think taking a nap is a sign of laziness.
…we check our email, facebook, twitter 15 times a day.
…we eat instant oatmeal for breakfast, frozen meals for lunch, and order takeout for dinner.
…we lose sleep over an upcoming deadline.
…we even take our own lives because the pressure to perform is too much to handle.

Breaking these habits can be difficult. But why is that?

We fear that something bad will happen if things don’t get done. To calm that fear we work harder, and longer, and harder, and longer only to realize that there’s more to do.

It never ends.

If you’re tired of the grind, let me suggest you step back and take an honest assessment of what needs to be done. Letting go of the compulsion to do all things can be an awesomely liberating high. Simply choose what’s most important, and do that. Even simpler, choose to do the things you are passionate about, and drop the rest.

If life in the slow lane appeals to you, here are some easy steps to escape the rat race and enjoy a slower, simpler, happier life:

#1 – Breathe

Breathing involves a set of metabolic reactions that are required for the cells in our body to convert energy into ATP and then release the byproducts through exhaled air.

Proper breathing is necessary from a physical perspective, as it dictates the quality of life that you live. It’s the most essential part of human survival and the brain is consuming 20% of your supply of oxygen by consuming 20% of the supply of blood in your body.

Anything that negatively affects breathing, should be eliminated from your life. Things like smoking, over-eating, and stress all have a negative impact on our ability to optimize breathing.

There are a variety of breathing techniques that you could use to help you slow down and enjoy your life. All you have to do is focus on your breath – breathe in through the nose, hold that breath, then breathe out through the mouth.

#2 – Be Present

It’s hard to slow down and enjoy life when we’re constantly living in the past or worrying about the future. We have to be present if we want to get any joy out of life. While being present might be hard for some, there are a few simple techniques that you can use to achieve this.

First and foremost is gratitude. By having a profound appreciation for your life and everything in it, no matter what the problems might be, you can reap far more enjoyment out of simple pleasures. Problems will never disappear.

Waiting for problems to disappear before we slow down and enjoy life is akin to waiting until we die. The only time we’ll lack any problems is when we’re buried six feet under. But it’s gratitude in the here-and-now that allows us to appreciate what we do have rather than what we don’t have.

Being present can also be achieved through things like exercise, yoga, and meditation. Physical activity has a way of jolting you into the present moment. It also helps you take back control of your health and fitness, resulting in a happier and healthier you.

#3 – Less is More

Life can become cluttered with too many things. With so many things going on in our lives, and with the accumulation of so much “stuff,” how are we ever expected to slow down? When we’re racing from one transaction to another, never really reaping the benefits of happiness, how can we ever enjoy life?

Simplify. Declutter. Organize.

Purge the “things” from your home, your office, and your life. Get back down to the basics. Create a set of goals and a mission statement for what you want to achieve out of life. Every morning, recite those to yourself and in the evening before you go to sleep, ask yourself if you came any closer to attaining it.

Dwindle your to-do list down to the items that really matter. Take pleasure from the things in life that really matter: family, relationships, and connectedness. We’re only here for a very brief time. We mustn’t clutter that time with too many things.

#4 – Drive Slower

Our minds are constantly racing and we’re distracted by our 24/7 interconnectedness. Because of it, we do everything else quickly, including driving our cars too fast. We’re always rushing to get from one place to the next with no end in sight. My recent speeding ticket was a reminder of this for me!

According to studies, 1.3 million people die in car accidents every year and another 20-50 million people become injured or disabled because of it. While not all accidents are avoidable, we can do our part to slow down and pay more attention to our surroundings.

When we’re distracted, we become more careless. There’s a reason why texting while driving is illegal in most places now. Slow down and drive slower, even when no one else is looking. Enjoy your surroundings and appreciate the world that you live in.

#5 – Avoid Multi-Tasking

We’re notorious for our ability to multi-task. We love to do several things at once as opposed to one thing at a time. But, in order to slow down and enjoy life, we have to focus on doing one thing at a time and doing it the right way.

This means that we have to go above and beyond the call of duty, even when no one is watching. The general consensus is to try to get things done quickly and “efficiently,” even if that sometimes means sacrificing quality.

When you find the desire to do many things at once, pause and breathe for a moment. Take a mental step backwards and refocus your efforts. Hone your skill and commit to doing and completing that one task to the best of your ability.

#6 – Eliminate Distractions

When was the last time you disconnected from the Web? When was the last time you sat and enjoyed a conversation over a meal without a device blaring somewhere in your reach? I would argue that it’s been a while.

Yet, if we’re to slow down and enjoy life, we have to eliminate distractions. We have to cancel the noise. We have to disconnect all of our devices. This doesn’t mean you have to go offline for good; it just means you have to block off some personal time.

Whether you engage in a hobby or have an in-person chat with a friend, cancel out all the noise surrounding you. Turn off the TV, disconnect the Internet, power down the tablet, and turn off the smartphone. Did I miss anything?

You’ll be far happier when you do this for a short period in your day. Take an hour or even two hours to just disconnect and eliminate distractions.

Namaste,

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In praise of slowness – TED talk

Journalist Carl Honore believes the Western world's emphasis on speed erodes health, productivity and quality of life. But there's a backlash brewing, as everyday people start putting the brakes on their all-too-modern lives.
We all know faster is not always better. Being Slow means doing everything at the correct speed: quickly, slowly or whatever pace works best. Slow means being present, living each moment fully, putting quality before quantity in everything from work and sex to food and parenting. Hope you find it insightful.

Namaste,

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Embracing Change

“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don't resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”, says the renowned Chinese Philosopher, Lao Tzu.

Change is hard and most of us resist any change. Even though change may be beneficial, many of us struggle to change - to change careers, cities, old and unhealthy habits, to leave a bad relationship, to go back to school. Feeling anxious and stressed during the time of change is very common.

Ironically, it is only through changing ourselves that we can remain grounded through life’s transitions.

Autumn is the season of transitioning and change

If we observe and spend time with nature during this beautiful season, it can teach us life-transforming lessons of acceptance, balance, letting go and surrender, that we can adopt in difficult times of change.

Yoga is the journey of the self. If we connect our heart and soul to our practice, it can help us to learn these life lessons and to embrace changes in the workplace or elsewhere with a lot more ease.

Accept change and know its impermance

Every autumn we revel in the beauty of the fall colors. The changing fall foliage leaves us wonderstruck, reminding us that change is the nature of life and change is beautiful.  Admiring the changing leaves helps us be open to the surprises of nature and and the inevitable twists and turns in our life. It also means having faith that some supreme power always protects us in all the transitions of life.

Autumn, with its falling leaves and bare branches, remind us of the fleeting nature of all things. When we contemplate fall's changes, we grow more appreciative of the beauty that surround us. How gracefully the trees accept the changes that they undergo in the natural cycle of life... “When you can appreciate beauty in every inch of the creation, that is yoga.”– quotes Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, leading contemporary spiritual master.

The good news is that embracing change is not a difficult skill to learn. And once you start looking at change as a good thing, you’ll be amazed at some of the benefits that can follow. Here are seven reasons why embracing change can be a very good habit to adopt.

1.    Change helps you grow

Changes often force us to adapt in ways we’ve never experienced, which can be a major driver of personal (and even professional) growth and development.

2.    Change teaches you to be flexible

Try to think of change as something that gets you out of your rut. By embracing change and meeting it head-on with excitement, you can learn not to be so set in your ways—which can help you maintain a more positive attitude.

3.    Change can challenge your values and beliefs

Reacting to change often involves re-evaluating your belief system. That’s not a bad thing—if you’re devoutly religious, for example, you don’t need to turn your faith on its head.

But if you’re open to learning new ways of approaching problems, you may find you learn something. Alternately, change may simply reinforce your trust in the belief system you already have. Either way, you become stronger.

4.    Change reveals your strengths

Without being forced to accept changes, you might never learn the true measure of your own strength—including your ability to adapt in new (and often interesting) ways.

5.    Change makes you more compassionate

When you become “too comfortable” in your own situation, it can be much more difficult to understand what others might be going through. Change reminds you to be kind when you’re considering the choices other people may make.

6.    Change breaks up routines

Some routines, like brushing and flossing your teeth, are good to maintain. (Ask the people around you!) But other routines can leave you in a rut—and possibly even contribute to depression and stress.

By breaking up your routine, change keeps your mind active, refocusing your thoughts so your mind stays active and doesn’t become fixated on negative thought patterns.

7.    Change offers opportunities

By altering the way you live your life, even in a small way, change can present opportunities that can have a domino effect, providing you with more choices than you ever dreamed possible—so you can create a more fulfilling and authentic life.

Like any new habit, embracing change takes some practice. Keep this list handy, though—the next time you’re presented with a change that seems a little intimidating, you can refer to it. Use it to remind yourself of all the positive impacts that change could—not only on your own life, but on the lives of those around you as well.

Namate,

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The law of impermanence with S.N. Goenka


Some of you know S.N. Goenka he is a great teacher who bought Vipasana Meditation to the world. This is an extract from the evening discourse of the 10 Day Vipassana Meditation Course on the law of impermanence. His story is on the two rings.
The external, as well as the internal are forever changing, no matter what we do, say, or try to actively control on a daily basis. Nothing is static, everything is in constant motion, fluctuating, growing, evolving, dying; turning into something that it was not just months, weeks, days, seconds, or even moments before. This constant change, that nothing lasts forever, is the law of impermanence, which is defined as the state or fact of lasting for only a limited period of time.

Namaste,

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Setting Boundaries

Madeline always prided herself in being "a nice girl." As a child, she was taught that being kind to others was a virtue; she grew up paying special attention to the positive feedback she received for being nice and pleasing others. She derived much of her self-worth from putting the feelings and needs of other people well above her own.

At 31, Madeline could not understand why her co-workers dumped extra work on her; why her family constantly intruded on her personal space; and why men who she had dated years ago continued trying to be part of her life, even after she told them she had started seeing someone else. Stressed and burned out, Madeline finally reached her wit's end after her boyfriend of two years ended their relationship because she couldn't stop responding to suitors out of kindness. Madeline knew it was time for a change—she needed stronger boundaries.

Boundaries can be defined as the limits we set with other people, which indicate what we find acceptable and unacceptable in their behavior towards us. The ability to know our boundaries generally comes from a healthy sense of self-worth, or valuing yourself in a way that is not contingent on other people or the feelings they have toward you. Unlike self-esteem (which some research has found to be strongly related to the relatively fixed personality dimensions of high extraversion and low neuroticism), self-worth is finding intrinsic value in who you are, so that you can be aware of your:

  • intellectual worth and boundaries (you are entitled to your own thoughts and opinions, as are others)
  • emotional worth and boundaries (you are entitled to your own feelings to a given situation, as are others)
  • physical worth and boundaries (you are entitled to your space, however wide it may be, as are others)
  • social worth and boundaries (you are entitled to your own friends and to pursuing your own social activities, as are others)
  • spiritual worth and boundaries (you are entitled to your own spiritual beliefs, as are others)

Knowing our boundaries and setting them are two very different hurdles to overcome. Setting boundaries does not always come easily. It's often a skill that needs to be learned. As renowned psychologist Albert Bandura noted, much of human social learning comes from modeling behavior, so if we do not have adequate role models whose behavior we can encode through observation and later imitate, we are at a loss, often left fumbling and frustrated.  

In Madeline's case, although she had high self-esteem, she derived her feelings of self-worth from people-pleasing, which was unhealthy and, if unchanged, would cost her the relationships and future she wanted. In addition to finding a strong sense of self-worth that existed apart from the value judgements of others, she also needed to learn how to set boundaries.

To start setting your boundaries straight, try these four things. 

1. Know your limits.

Clearly define what your intellectual, emotional, physical, and spiritual boundaries are with strangers, work colleagues, friends, family, and intimate partners. Examine past experiences where you felt discomfort, anger, resentment or frustration with an individual. It may have been because your limits had been crossed. Create a 'Boundary Chart' which outlines each boundary per each relationship category and fill it in with the boundary criteria you feel comfortable and safe with, and vice versa (I don't feel comfortable when work colleagues ask me about my childhoodillness/dating life/parentsdivorce).

By creating this sort of template you have a benchmark to assess when someone may be overstepping your boundaries. Your boundary criteria will evolve over time, so be sure to continuously update your chart with your growing experience and resulting needs.article continues after advertisement

2.  Be assertive.

Creating and stating boundaries is great, but it's the follow-through that counts. The only way to truly alert others that your boundaries have been crossed is to be direct with them. Being assertive, particularly if you are unaccustomed to doing so, can be scary. So start small with something manageable and build up your assertive skill to larger tasks like these:

  • Did the waitress get your order wrong? Ask her for what you actually ordered.
  • Did the cashier over-charge you? Ask for a correction to be made.
  • Are unwanted romantic suitors messaging you? Explain that you are not interested and would appreciate it if he or she stops.
  • Is a distant cousin intruding on your dating life? Say that you'd rather talk about something else.
  • Is a work colleague pushing his or her work onto you? Remind them that it isn't within your scope, you are busy with your own work, and direct them to someone who will be of better service.
  • Did a friend do something to hurt you? Ask them to meet you for lunch and explain why their words or actions hurt you. 

3. Practice makes perfect.

When you first start acting assertively, if it is a departure from your habitual state, you may be afraid that others will perceive you as mean or rude. But affirming your boundaries means that you value yourself, your needs, and your feelings more than the thoughts and opinions of others. Being assertive does not mean that you are unkind, it only means that you are being fair and honest with them (and, thus, kind to them in the long run), while maintaining your peace, dignity, and self-respect.article continues after advertisement

After all, not informing someone that they have crossed a line only leads to resentment on your end and confusion on theirs. The only way to set better boundaries is by practicing how to tell someone that they've crossed yours.

4. If all else fails, delete and ignore.

Voice your boundaries first, then follow with action. As long as you have tied up loose ends and given family members/friends/ex-partners or whoever it may be closure from any promises you may have made, you no longer owe them anything. If you have asserted yourself and made it clear to another person that he or she is not respecting your boundaries, it is okay to ignore correspondence from that point forward. Remind yourself of your own worth, and that no one has the right to make you feel uncomfortable or take your self-defined space away from you.

Boundaries with Brene Brown



Brené Brown defines boundaries as “simply our lists of what’s okay and what’s not okay.”
It’s so straightforward and it makes sense for all ages in all situations. When we combine the courage to make clear what works for us and what doesn’t with the compassion to assume people are doing their best, our lives change. Yes, there will be people who violate our boundaries, and this will require that we continue to hold those people accountable. But when we’re living in our integrity, we’re strengthened by the self-respect that comes from the honoring of our boundaries, rather than being flattened by disappointment and resentment.
On the other hand, “When we fail to set boundaries and hold people accountable, we feel used and mistreated. This is why we sometimes attack who they are, which is far more hurtful than addressing a behavior or a choice”
Another pertinent quote “Compassionate people ask for what they need. They say no when they need to, and when they say yes, they mean it. They’re compassionate because their boundaries keep them out of resentment.”
If you’d like to know more about how to set boundaries, Brown gives three useful tips on Oprah.com (all directly quoted):
 Make a mantra. I need something to hold on to—literally—during those awkward moments when an ask hangs in the air. So I bought a silver ring that I spin while silently repeating, “Choose discomfort over resentment.” My mantra reminds me that I’m making a choice that’s critical for my well-being—even if it’s not easy.
• Keep a resentment journal. Whenever I’m marching around muttering cuss words under my breath, I grab what I lovingly refer to as my Damn It! Diary and write down what’s going on. I’ve noticed that I’m most resentful when I’m tired and overwhelmed—i.e., not setting boundaries.
• Rehearse. I’ll often say, to no one in particular, “I can’t take that on” or “My plate is full.” Like many worthwhile endeavors, boundary setting is a practice.

Namaste,


Yin and Yang

A 5 minute clip to explain a little about yin and yang.

The Taoists define yin yang as polar energies that fluctuate and interact in constant motion. If you observe the symbol of two curved teardrops, you will see the black (yin) side descending and the white (yang) side ascending. There is an inner circle within each of the opposite color. There is a movement within the symbol to convey that whenever yin and yang come together, they separate only to reconnect as one.

Namaste,



What does LOVE look like?

In looking at my love for Maya I asked myself what does LOVE look like. This is a lovely 2 minute clip on what love looks like.

Hope it fills you up.

Namaste,

Bawley Bush Retreat was a blast!

Last month's weekend retreat was incredible. Words cannot explain the utter joy I get from seeing people connect within, create a sense of ease and have so much fun. The yoga, practices, activities, food, accommodation and setting, it was perfect.

So perfect in fact, the group suggested I don't advertise the August 2019 retreat as they are all rebooking!

Below are a few snaps from the retreat. John and I have already been planning the next one - you can find out more here!

Community Support

When John and I moved here 3 years ago we never imagined the incredible support we would have from the community. We are often in awe of the encouragement we are given and have such loyal customers and yoga students. This month we did the local market - which was a special one for Braidwood Festival and the annual Quilt Festival and it was our best market ever! We sold 250 tomato/herb pots, 10 bags of muesli, 6 chai, 8 moisturiser bars, 12 shampoo bars, 36 beeswax wraps, soap, 2 jars of bliss balls and we sold out of veggies by 10.30am!

Our amazing community is backing us all the way, we feel very blessed. Prana Produce is not only filled with our Prana, but the Prana of many!

Namaste,

Ease into sthira and sukha

In Patanjali's Yoga SutrasSantosha (संतोष) is second of the five Niyamas (self-discipline’s or observances). It refers to a sense of acceptance of how things are. Like these two simple words, it points to a space of contentment.

You can also call this ‘home’. It’s our natural habitat.
So why does it feel like a challenge much of the time to land back here?

Any given day, an incredible amount of information is thrown at us. It is difficult to take this all on board; our bodies and brains are simply not evolved to deal with so much stimulus at once.

We can easily slide into a fear-based mode of processing the world. FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) and FOF (Fear of Failure) are just two examples - once things become acronymised you know it’s a ‘thing’!

Acting from a place of fear leads to feelings of instability, increased anxiety, and increased pressure to fit into some preemptive shape. Your  cells know. Your muscles tense, your organs react through hyper-activity. It leads to a spiral of stress.

Stress, in all its manifestations of bodily symptoms and mind-numbness, is almost becoming the normative state in our stimulus-saturated culture.

This is certainly not home, and cannot not be the way we continue to live! So how can our choices support a connection to this more centred, easeful place?

Buddhist teacher Arjahn Cha tells the a story that vividly demonstrates the impact of our choices.

As a teacher and his students take a walk on the mountain, he points at a large boulder, and asks: ‘Do you believe this boulder is heavy?’

There are nods and replies of ‘Yes’ all round. Arjahn Cha looks at the boulder and answers, matter-of-factly: ‘Not if you don’t pick it up.’

And so it is with our own choices.

You can choose to respond, rather than react. The first is action from within, the latter is re-action upon habit, or the less conscious guidance of a noisy world of ‘should’s.

Give yourself space to pause.

Take the time to ask: ‘Do I need to pick this up? Will this strengthen me along my path, or add burden to my journey?’

 Mel Steer Photography

When we move from within, our world moves with us. Practice getting quiet. Being still enough to listen inward.

Centre into the vastness that resides below the flurry of waves and thought. It is here that you can, over time, recognise that FOMO and FOF are ghosts that haunt the anxious mind.

This is what yoga is about : the ability to ease into sthira and sukha, steadiness and ease, regardless of our internal or external circumstances. 

Underneath the waves lies the truth: you are already enough. This very moment, if you truly wish to centre into it, is enough. And in this enough-ness, there is centre. Ease. Santosha.

Coming home is an active, imperfect, yet rewarding practice. Let's keep practicing.

Namaste,

Taming Your Wandering Mind

Amishi Jha studies how we pay attention: the process by which our brain decides what's important out of the constant stream of information it receives. Both external distractions (like stress) and internal ones (like mind-wandering) diminish our attention's power, Jha says -- but some simple techniques can boost it. "Pay attention to your attention," Jha says.

Namaste,

10 Ways To Raise Your Vibration

1) Go outside: Go to the ocean, take a walk in the woods, sit under a tree, have a cup of coffee on the patio. Take in some nature and breathe the air.
2) Laugh!
 Sharing a big laugh is like an energy shower. A hearty laugh relieves physical tension and triggers endorphin release (chemicals in the brain associated with pleasure).
3) Follow through on a task you have been avoiding:
 What a relief it is when we get something done! We may not even realize the underlying stress it causes when we have something hanging over our heads. 
4) Play Music:
 Singing, listening to, and playing uplifting music are fast and easy ways to raise your vibration. Music directly influences your mood. Listening to moving music also causes the brain to release dopamine, which generates feelings of happiness. 
5) Exercise:
 Walk, do yoga, move your body and get the blood flowing. (Another endorphin releaser)
6) Be aware of your thoughts:
 Thoughts carry vibrations. When you catch yourself with negative, complaining thoughts decide to make a shift and focus on beauty and thankfulness. Leave yourself little positive notes to remind you to ‘check in’ with your thought life.
7) Nourish your body: 
Take in food and drink that are organic, fresh, and nourish you. Alcohol and drugs carry low vibrations. 
8) Watch less TV:
 Many shows and commercials lower our vibration with violence, negativity, and consumerism. Try to make some small adjustments to the amount and quality of your TV time.
9) Meditate:
 Consistent meditation practice, even for short times, clears the mind and allows you to connect with your higher power (the highest frequency of love).
10) Practice kindness:
 Helping and blessing others raises your vibration
and spreads the affect to those around you. Give without expecting anything in return.

Namaste,

Hens Party Fun (content warning)

I was recently invited to a hens party and I wanted to take an unforgettable gift. We were going out for dinner so I thought, 'I could make a cake.' In alignment with the theme of 'fun' I could make a cake shaped like a penis. I was sure there were pecker cake tins around, I looked on line and sure enough I could get them in at 'Adam and Eve' in Canberra. I generally drive to Canberra twice a week for appointments with the children. Every so often when I have appointments overlap so John comes along. It was my lucky day, as a family we were heading into Canberra. I phoned the sex shop and asked if they had any in store, $35 was the price. I thought, seeing as I will probably only use the tin once, (even if it was similarly shaped to a sword for a children's cake) it wasn't worth the investment and let's face it, I didn't want to go into the sex shop alone and couldn't take the children in with me and even if it would make the newspaper 'Children Trapped inside car outside sex shop,' I wasn't going to leave them.

So I asked John and somehow persuaded him to make me a cake. Oh my gosh did we laugh in the process. The jokes were harmless but sooo funny. What flavour do we make the cake? what size? Is it the right colour? Do we need whipped cream? I'm sure you get the drift!

The end result - scrumptious!

Whilst this may not seem yogic, laughter is the best medicine. It lowers blood pressure, reduces stress hormones, and increases muscle flexion. It increases the circulation of antibodies in the blood stream and makes us more resistant to infection. I don't imagine anyone will be making this cake just for a laugh but I hope you can get a little chuckle at it.

Namaste,

Laughter Yoga

If you want to learn how to cultivate happiness, try laugher yoga!

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It's out there, seems a little silly but if you let yourself go with it you can have some fun!

Namaste,

Easy Dhal

John made dhal at a recent yoga retreat and everyone loved it. So here is the recipe -

ingredients
1 cup (210g) red lentils, rinsed well
3cm fresh ginger, sliced
2 tbs (40g) ghee or oil
Star anise
2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cumin seed
½ tsp fennel seed
½ tsp corriander seed
½ - 1tsp salt
1 tbs chopped coriander leaves
Juice of one lime

Method

Place lentils, star anise and tumeric in a large saucepan with 3 cups of cold water. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat to medium and simmer, stirring to prevent sticking for 10-12 minutes. Make chaunk - Heat the ghee in a large frying pan over a medium high heat. Add the seeds, cook until light brown. Add chaunk to lentils and stir well to infuse. Season to taste with salt. Cook for a further 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat. Stir in coriander and lime juice and serve hot with rice or pappadums.
Namaste,

Sthira & Sukha of the Spine

Leslie Kaminoff, world-renowned Yoga Educator, brings Yoga Anatomy to life and in this short video he explains Sthira & Sukha of the Spine.

Reminds me how everything is in balance. Effort and Ease has to work together in harmony. When it isn't it create dukha, or suffering.

Hope you enjoy it.

Namaste,

Life is one big yoga pose: Equal parts effort and ease

Yoga is balance. A fine and tricky balance, to say the least. This balance can provide both calming and grounding energy in addition to giving way to enlightening inspiration and positive change. In order to get to this neutral place, one must play with the delicate dance of opposites… hard and soft, dark and light, rough and smooth.

How can we navigate our way to this sweet nectar in the middle where bliss lives? How can we find our own sense of peace and calm amidst the the back and forth see-saw of lows and highs that is life? In a word… yoga.

One of the greatest gifts we receive from our yoga practice is that irreplaceable feeling of pure bliss that we are afforded after practice. And in practice, what we are truly doing is balancing out effort and ease, the well-known yoga concept of sthira and sukha.

In Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, he gives us the following aphorism (from sutra 2.46): “sthira-sukham asanam.” This sutra is most commonly translated as “asana (postures) should be stable {sthira} and comfortable {sukha}. Being established in a good place- that is, getting grounded, finding proper alignment, diligent focus, engaging the right muscles, and harnessing energy correctly coupled with maintaining a healthy prana (breath/life force) is what this sutra is all about.

We aren’t looking to feel exhausted after a yoga class… in fact, many teachers would argue we’re doing something wrong if we feel this degree of depletion after practice. Instead, we should feel alive yet relaxed at the same time. We should be practicing in a way that regenerates our energy, not in a way that depletes it. To achieve this, we need to be checking in with our breathing often (is prana moving freely?) and we can also do a post class check to see how we are feeling as a whole (are we feeling balanced?). In the words of T.K.V. Desikachar, we are looking to find and maintain sthira, “alertness without tension” while also finding and maintaining sukha, “relaxation without dullness.”

Hard to both attain and maintain, balance is really the key to one’s yoga practice and if we’re
thinking about yoga in it’s entirety, this translates to balance being the key to living blissfully.

Sure, we need to find both steadiness and ease in downward dog and warrior II, but we also need this delicate balance of embodying enthusiasm and liveliness while at the same time staying focused and keeping our feet firmly planted in our everyday lives. This is where the yoga practice becomes a life practice. Striving for that sweet nectar in the middle will bring us toward our perfect happy medium… our own personal bliss. That nectar of bliss only becomes attainable to us when we are living a life in balance, a life of yoga.

Namaste,

Making this retreat the best one EVER!


As many of you know yoga retreats make my heart sing. I love everything about them and I mean everything! I currently run mini yoga retreats in Braidwood once a month - where we explore different topics and delve deeper into practices. John does the cooking, we use as much of our own produce as we can then buy locally and organic for the remainder. Everyone comments on how they wonderful the retreats are and the energy of the room is blissful, honestly I can't explain in words how amazing it feels.

Well before our children, John and I lived at Mangrove Yoga Ashram. There our job was to run yoga retreats, which we did for two years. Some retreats had 10 people some 200. John oversaw the cooking and I the practices. To say it was incredible is an understatement.

I then taught in Armidale, NSW and sparked up my passion for retreats. After some time John and I moved to the Mornington Peninsula and I continued my love of monthly retreats. I later took some groups to Bali and then to Thailand. In a word BLISS.

As the children are quite young we haven't been able to facilitate lengthy retreats. After being asked (literally begged) we are finally doing another weekend retreat at Bawley Point Bush 9-11th Nov 18.

I can't begin to tell you how excited I am! I want it to be the best ever! I am gathering the best of the best from our previous retreats to create an unforgettable experience. Here's how -

The setting - it's gorgeous, the best of both worlds, bush meets the coast. Tranquil, serene and stunning.

The practices - asana in a creative and inspired way, pranayama, meditation, yoga nidra. There will be mantra, a fire ceremony and or candle gazing (depending on fire restrictions), yin yoga, yoga philosophy, hand outs and specific techniques to enhance your practice. It's all catered to your needs and accommodating all ailments.

The meals - all cooked by John, a chef of 25 years. Using our own fresh produce, local and organic. We can cater to any dietary requirements and the food will be vegetarian, vibrant, healthy and wholesome. John will also do a cooking demo or two.

Activities - these always bring lots of fun to a retreat. We will have an acupuncturist of 30+ years deliver a session, we will make beeswax wraps and soap - best sellers from our business Prana Produce and for fun newspaper pots!

There will be time to chill out, go for walks, sit in nature.

There will be welcome gifts and lots of take home treats.

We will transport people traveling interstate up from Canberra airport.

The crux of it is, John and I are thrilled to combine our passions of yoga, good food, loving practices and holistic activities. We want to share this with you and create heartfelt connections in the best retreat ever!

Namaste,

It’s radical and it works

It has taken me many hours to write this blog post - I have had lots of interruptions. Frustration has been bubbling … if I could just have an hour to myself I would finish it!

The Universe had other plans, which on reflection, I can see the beneficial lessons. When I am trying to run the show and things don't go my way, my pattern is to fight/push. 'I just need to try harder.' Or, I go into the mindset of 'if only.' 'If only' I wasn't called into daycare to pick up Maya early. 'If only' Kailash would talk. 'If only' the dog was better trained. 'If only' ... (fill in the blank).

If only, is not reality and fighting reality only creates suffering. No one wants to suffer! So how does one break this pattern of non-acceptance and work through emotions more skilfully? Through radical acceptance.

Radical Acceptance is not about giving up or checking out, it’s about finding peace in the chaos. Acceptance invites you to bring more of your SELF, to the present moment.

Before you can accept what’s going on within you, you have to develop self-awareness to see the thought and emotional processes. This is the essence of yoga. The base of mindfulness. By enhancing our awareness we can then accept it, as it is. This in itself is empowering. Through the empowerment we are often gifted the ability to change and improve the situation itself.

So the crux of it is, life isn't always how I'd like it to be. The house isn't as clean as I would like. My children don't eat as healthily as I plan and the garden isn't as full as it could be. Right now it is the way it is. And that is OK. It is honestly OK. By accepting life as it is, rather than as I want it to be, I experience ease. There's no fight, no struggle. It is just as it is.

Blessings for freedom and ease from accepting life in this moment, as it is.

Namaste,

Radical Acceptance with Marsha Linehan

It is an empowering discussion about radical acceptance, by the founder herself, hope you enjoy it.

What is Radical Acceptance?
Radical means all the way, complete and total.
It is accepting in your mind, your heart, and your body.
It’s when you stop fighting reality, stop throwing tantrums because reality is not the way you want it, and let go of bitterness.
What has to be Accepted?
Reality is as it is (the facts about the past and the present are the facts, even if you don’t like them).
There are limitations on the future for everyone (but only realistic limitations need to be accepted).
Everything has a cause (including events and situations that cause you pain and suffering).
Life can be worth living even with painful events in it.
Why Accept Reality?
Rejecting reality does not change reality.
Changing reality requires first accepting reality.
Pain can’t be avoided; it is nature’s way of signaling that something is wrong.
Rejecting reality turns pain into suffering.
Refusing to accept reality can keep you stuck in unhappiness, bitterness, anger, sadness, shame, or other painful emotions.
Acceptance may lead to sadness, but deep calmness usually follows.

Namaste,

Fake it till you make it sutra.

Yoga Sutra 2.33

“Words Don’t Teach, but the Application of Words in Everyday Life Does”

Yoga sutra 2.33 (vitarka badhane pratipaksha bhavanam)*

  • vitarka = uncertainty, doubt, questionable
  • badhane = opposing, removal, suspended, annulment
  • pratipaksha = opposition, opposite, adversary
  • bhavanam = thought, manifesting, producing, imagining

This is the “Fake it till you make it sutra.” This sutra helps us get rid of our inauthentic personalities, ironically, by suggesting (more or less) to fake it. To think the opposite of. It’s a way for us to recondition our negative beliefs and thought patterns.

This month I have had moments of overwhelm, I have cried and at times felt utterly defeated. Just like with everyone, life throws curve balls. What is one to do?! I often think of Dick Van Dyke's song … put on a happy face.

Now I'm not talking about denying feelings or suppressing emotions. I am saying to be mindful of your thoughts and rather than being ruled by them, choosing them.

What begins as “faking it”—or simply taking another perspective—soon becomes an embodiment of who we really are. Rather than faking anything it is an unpacking of our shit! Just like we have toxins build in our body, we have toxic thoughts that build up in the mind.

This is the most challenging part of our practice. Exposing oneself in order to develop inner peace and contentment. Learning to be extremely self-aware and when the mind lures you into negative thinking guiding your mind elsewhere.

For today, put on a happy face and know that through your practice you have the power to choose your thoughts and thus, your happiness.

Fake it til you become it

Body language affects how others see us, but it may also change how we see ourselves.

Social psychologist Amy Cuddy argues that "power posing" -- standing in a posture of confidence, even when we don't feel confident -- can boost feelings of confidence, and might have an impact on our chances for success.

It is an empowering discussion about faking it til you become it, hope you enjoy it.

Namaste,

Fake It ‘Til You Make It

For me, authenticity is one of the most important goals of yoga. After all, we come to our mats time and time again to better understand ourselves and learn to accept and love ourselves exactly as we are. Being authentic means you stop trying to hide your faults. You stop trying to change yourself to please others. You accept yourself without judgement and you wear all your strengths and weaknesses like a badge of honor--no apologies.

But as awesome as authenticity is, there's an important tool that I've found to be quite helpful: Faking it! While faking it might seem like the opposite of authenticity, I notice that, certain ways, faking it can actually lead me closer to my authentic self.

Fake Cheerfulness. Somedays it's really challenging to manage Kailash's behaviors - trying to understand a non-verbal 3.5 year old who is wired totally differently from John and myself. Last week I was getting ready for one of my weekly yoga classes. Kailash was overwhelmed, obsessed with hurting Maya, smashing plates, throwing books off the shelf - it was not pretty! I left in a huff, my nostrils flaring, so angry at the fact I seem to have no control yet can't tolerate this behaviour. Definitely not an energy you want to bring with you into a yoga space--especially if you're teaching! But as students trickled in, I greeted them with a cheerful smile and asked how their day had been. Initially, my cheerfulness was forced, not authentic at all. But within 5 minutes, I forgot all about the fight and realized that I really did feel cheerful and happy.

Fake Calmness. You know when you're upset about something and someone tells you take a deep breath? Yoga practitioners know that when you lengthen the breath, you can sort of trick your nervous system into believing you are calm and peaceful even if you're feeling stressed out and overwhelmed. By faking out your nervous system you actually start to feel calmer, which I think is one of reasons yoga is such an amazing stress reliever in the first place.

Fake Meditation. I admit it. I am a fake meditator. I sit up on my meditation pillow nearly every day, close my eyes, and pretend to meditate. I think to myself: OK. I'm going to meditate now... Here I go! Breathe in. Breathe out. But did I hear Maya stirring? What am I going to cook for dinner? When am I going to pack orders, reply to emails, etc. Maybe I should be doing that now! Oops… I'm distracted. Better get back to meditating! Breathe in. Breathe out.

Sometimes I go through a dialogue like this and only have moments of awareness. When my timer goes off, I wonder if what I've just done counts as meditation at all. But even pretend meditating sometimes leads to real connection to Truth. The more I sit on a regular basis (fake or not), the more quickly I can find that mindfulness.

Namaste,

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction

A dear friend of mine, Sue Fisher, is running an 8 week participatory, supportive and structured group program for cultivating resilience and easeful well being. As mindfulness and yoga go hand in hand with one another, it is a great opportunity for those local to Braidwood to attend.

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction

This is the certified MBSR program as developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn

Who is it for?

* Anyone who feels stuck in cycles of stress, reactivity, and exhaustion.
* Anyone wanting to learn new ways of being with the difficulties and challenges in their lives, whether they be at home, at work, or out in the community.
* Anyone interested in getting to know their own mind and body better, and exploring ways that help calm us and bring in peace of mind, along with more stability, self-regard, clarity and choices.
For people being treated for medical or psychological conditions, the MBSR program is a complement to, not a substitute for, the professional care of their doctor or psychologist.

What does the course entail?

* exploration of patterns of unhelpful thinking, feeling and action and how to transform them
* educational components of stress physiology
* group discussions and individual support
* gentle yoga-based movement and body awareness training
* intensive training in meditative practices

What is involved?

* A weekly 2.5 hour class, Tuesdays 4pm to 6.30, starting 14th August and finishing 2nd October
* A one day retreat, Sunday 23rd September
* Daily home practice of up to 45 minutes.

We know change takes time, and a most important component in learning any skill is practice. MBSR doesn’t offer a quick fix, but in a user-friendly way provides the opportunity for cognitive, emotional, neurological and behavioural changes to get embedded.

Background and Benefits of MBSR

Having found incredible value in his own yoga and meditation practice Dr Jon Kabat-Zinn, a molecular biologist working at the University of Massachusetts Medical Centre, developed the program in 1979 in response to helping patients with chronic conditions who were ‘falling through the cracks’ of the health care system.

Since then many thousands of people around the world have completed the program, with 35 years of research demonstrating anecdotal and measureable lasting benefits including:

* a greater capacity to deal with stress
* increased energy, sense of well being and engagement with life
* decreased physical and psychological symptoms, including those relating to depression and anxiety
* reductions in pain levels and an enhanced ability to cope with chronic pain
* a stronger immune system
* increased levels of concentration, and creative problem solving. For a summary of research outcomes see: www.bemindful.co.uk & www.umassmed.edu/cfm

Course Facilitator: Sue Fisher

Cost: $450 includes handouts and practise audio links. Discounts available for anyone in financial hardship.

Where: Braidwood Regional Arts Group (back room), 43 Wallace Street, Braidwood.

When: 4-6.30pm. 8 weeks starting 14th August to 2nd October, 2018.

To register, express interest, or find out more, phone Sue on 0428 525541 or email - [email protected]

Put on a happy face

This song comes to mind when thinking of Yoga Sutra 2.33

Vitarka badhane pratipaksha bhavanam.
When disturbed by negative thoughts, opposite ones should be thought of.

Gray skies are gonna clear up,
Put on a happy face;
Brush off the clouds and cheer up,
Put on a happy face.
Take off the gloomy mask of tragedy,
It's not your style;
You'll look so good that you'll be glad
Ya' decide to smile!
Pick out a pleasant outlook,
Stick out that noble chin;
Wipe off that "full of doubt" look,
Slap on a happy grin!
And spread sunshine all over the place,
Just put on a happy face!
Put on a happy face
Put on a happy face
And if you're feeling cross and bickerish
Don't sit and whine
Think of banana splits and licorice
And you'll feel fine
I knew a girl so gloomy
She'd never laugh or sing
She wouldn't listen to me
Now she's a mean old thing
So spread sunshine all over the place
Just put on a happy face
So, put on a happy face

Namaste,

Mothers Day

Sending my love and blessings for you to be present to what is ...
Mothers Day can bring up many emotions -
Mothers who have lost children, those who have lost mothers, those with strained mother relationships, mothers with strained child relationships, those who have chosen not to be mothers, those yearning to be mothers.

To be connected with my emotions on Mothers Day I went swimming in the ocean with my angel Samsara. It was 10 degrees outside and the water was a lot warmer. I felt liberated and connected to the elements and life itself.

Parenting can be a real challenge, I am learning the hardest challenge is to parent myself. Treating myself with love, compassion, kindness. Going to bed when I am tired, eating when I am hungry, having fun when I am stressed out - simple things it seems but I struggle when there are many more things to do and people to look after.

Wishing you a day of being as you are, treating yourself as you would treat a loved one.

Namaste,

Getting stuck in the negatives (and how to get unstuck)

Did you know that our minds occupy negative thinking on average around 60-70% of the time?
This 10 minute TED talk by psychologist Alison Ledgerwood will explain why we get stuck in negatives and how to get unstuck. The first 6 minutes she shares research but from the 6:21 mark she says that “our view of the world tilts towards the negative”. She goes on to say “that it is very easy to go from good to bad, but we have to work far harder to go from bad to good with our perspective.”

The good news is there is a way to overcome this, although admittedly it will require some daily work. Check this short clip out to find out how to think more positively and as a result, live a more positive life.

Namaste,

Prioritise Self-care

By practicing self-care, and learning to extend love toward yourself, you begin to cultivate feelings of self-worth, strength, and resiliency, leaving behind self-abuse and harmful coping mechanisms used to mask negative feelings you’ve had about yourself.

Loving yourself does not mean you are selfish or self-centred. On the contrary, loving yourself deepens your ability to care for others and broadens your capacity to love. Pointing your compassion inwards fosters increased empathy for those around you. Simply put, you can’t care for others well if you don’t care for yourself first.

Self-care includes caring for your whole being, including:

  • Living a balanced lifestyle (being mindful of sleep, nutrition, and exercise)
  • Exerting healthy boundaries for yourself and others
  • Practicing self-acceptance
  • Becoming more mindful and aware of your thoughts, behaviors, and actions

Here are six forms of self-care that will nourish your entire being.

Physical

Physical self-care means caring for your body internally and externally. Your physical self-care could be ensuring you get eight hours of rest every night, taking a long walk, or preparing a healthy and wholesome meal. By prioritizing things like sleep and nutrition, you can optimize your energy levels, which results in having more energy for yourself and loved ones.

Small steps to take care of your body:

  • Commit to light exercise, yoga, three times per week
  • Go to sleep 15 minutes before your normal bed time
  • Prepare and enjoy at least two dinners at home
  • Take mental note of what types of food you are eating and assess if you need to change your eating patterns

Emotional

Emotional self-care is important for your overall health. You can take care of your emotional well-being by processing and verbalizing feelings with trusted friends, family members, or a therapist. You can also release negative emotions through an expressive art form such as:

  • Listening to music
  • Singing
  • Drawing
  • Dancing

It also helps to avoid situations and people that cause you undue emotional distress. Practice setting boundaries and learn to be in touch with your thoughts and feelings. By releasing your emotions rather than bottling them in, you can move through painful experiences that may otherwise cause you to suffer.

Mental

You can practice mental self-care by trying new activities that challenge and stimulate you mentally. It’s common to get caught in stagnation traps and stick to what’s familiar, so trying a new activity or hobby can help shake off mental cobwebs.

  • Engage in a meaningful conversation with a friend
  • Try a puzzle
  • Delve into a new book
  • Explore a different philosophy from your own
  • Listen to inspiring and thought-provoking podcasts

Spiritual

Your spirituality is personal to you and only you. This aspect of self-care can assist in feelings of connectedness, oneness, and universality, helping diminish feelings of isolation and loneliness. Spiritual self-care might be achieved through:

  • Meditation
  • Yoga
  • Donating your time to a worthy cause
  • Spending time in solitude in nature
  • Reading books

Social

Relationships are important, and social self-care means taking time to nurture the relationships you have. Practice social self-care by spending quality time with individuals who uplift and support you, such as friends, family, and trusted confidants.

If you’re trying to escape negative social circles that don’t support your well-being, social self-care might mean looking outwards to create new, meaningful friendships and connections. A few ways to do this may be to join a like-minded group, volunteer at special events, or sign up for new activities.

Practical

Practical self-care involves caring for routine aspects of your life that support you, including:

  • Housework
  • Groceries
  • Logistics
  • Finances

These tasks may feel like chores, but these to-do’s can motivate you and instill a sense of responsibility and accomplishment. You may choose to de-clutter your home, create a calming space for yourself, or set up a routine to pay your bills on auto-pay. Sometimes things like financial matters can feel like a burden, especially if you’ve been dealing with emotional issues and negative self-talk, but having control over practical areas of your life can be incredibly empowering and rewarding.

Practicing self-care in all aspects of your life can help nurture you as a whole being and leave no area of your life unattended. When you feel as though you’re being cared and loved for, you can give more to others—and this positive energy comes back to you tenfold.

Namaste,

Emotions – Back Pain

In this short video Leslie Kaminoff, world-renowned Yoga Educator, explains in simple terms how emotions and back pain are connected.

Namaste,

Exploring emotions – grief

What I know to be true is that emotions once explored, experienced and expressed pass. The word emotion originated from the Latin word 'emovere,' e- (variant of ex-) ‘out’ + movere ‘move’. Broken down e+motion, literally meaning energy in motion.

At Samsara's funeral I committed that I would speak to her and about her in honor of her life. In order to do this I continue to explore the myriad of emotional variations that arise. This process can lead to edgy, unknown, intense places, a labyrinth of emotions, revealing intricate layers of meaning. I find there is a natural flowing cycle, moving between emotional expression, witnessing, gaining perspective and receiving insights.

So tools that I have been using to feel and explore my emotions of grief are in the photo above -

Molly Bears - Molly Bears is a non-profit organization that creates weighted teddy bears for all stages of pregnancy loss and infant loss up to 12 months of age. The bear is made to the weight of the baby so that the family can have a tactile memory of the child.

Wish U Were Here Dolls - I really wanted to experience breast feeding twins. Having both my girls in my arms to feed was a longing desire. I had the photos of my girls printed onto these dolls - Samsara at birth and Maya at 4 months. The intention was to recreate the experience of holding them together in my arms. Whilst I will never feed the twins together there is something powerful about holding them side by side in this doll form.

Photo books - I put together a collection of photos, quotes, sayings and memories into a photo book to remember my angel. It was challenging at first as I had a limited number of photos and had to fill 40 pages but this gave an opportunity to get creative. This book sits on top of our fridge and can be seen from many rooms in the house.

For some this may seem really weird and a little crazy to have a tear bear, some dolls and a photo book as tools to understand, accept and come to terms with grief but for me they are working. At the end of the day, that is what is important - finding what works for you and going with it!

Best wishes of your journey with emotions.

Namaste,

 

Yoga and emotions

“Emotions are our faithful guides, like owls that guide us through the dark night, back home.”

Yoga is a conscious path of inner exploration. It is a journey of returning, again and again, to our wholeness. Along the way we meet, again and again, our conditioned self. This is the part of us that is reactive, wounded or struggling in some way. There is always, consciously or unconsciously, an emotional aspect to this conditioning. The emotion may be buried, surfacing or expressing freely. We will explore here how to trust in the guidance of our emotions as an essential part of an authentic journey to wholeness.

Let’s pause here and contemplate some questions: What is your current relationship with your emotional self? Do you spend time with emotions? Do your avoid emotions or act them out in conditioned behaviour? Do you separate emotions from your spiritual practice or your daily life? Do you have a way of regularly connecting with your emotions so you receive the gifts that witnessed emotions bring?

This is an invitation to courageously embrace all of our emotions as an essential part of authentic spiritual growth. To do this may require a personal paradigm shift. Culturally, we tend to suppress, avoid, pathologise, denigrate or, at least, underestimate the power of emotional exploration. Within spiritual circles, emotions can be regarded as mere signs of separateness that should be transcended. Yet, for our journey to wholeness to be absolutely real and authentic, we need to see our wounding, our conditioning, exactly as it is. This includes acknowledging the emotional impact of our conditioning. The way is through, not around, emotions. Rather than seeing emotions as a hindrance to our spiritual life, we can see them as wonderful messengers. Emotions are our faithful guides, like owls that guide us through the dark night, back home. These owls bear their gift: a message. Through emotions, our wounded self speaks what needs to be spoken, to heal the wound and return us to wholeness.

How do we receive the messages that our emotions convey? The answer is utterly simple, yet opens up a profound way of living: we listen to our emotions. So simple, yet humans habitually run away from this simple act of being with our emotions. What does it really mean to listen to our emotions? Listening is a balance, a dance, of both witnessing and expressing emotion.

Witnessing an emotion means to simply ‘be with’ the physical sensations, thoughts and beliefs of an emotion, in the present moment. The practice of being the witness is a common undertaking for yoga and meditation practitioners, but perhaps less commonly applied to emotions. Can we simply witness emotions in the same way we listen to sounds, or follow the breath or watch sensations? In fact our practice of witnessing sensations, the breath and so on gives us the foundation to witness the sometimes intense realm of emotions. The witness does not react against, suppress or avoid the emotion. Nor does the witness get caught in the habit of intellectualising or repetitive story-telling that circles around, but never penetrates, the emotion.

The capacity to witness is a function of our pure awareness or consciousness, which may also be recognised as our deepest essence or self. The witness provides a stable centre in the midst of even intense sensations. The witness watches what arises and yet, at the same time, the witness is intrinsically connected with consciousness itself. We can use an analogy here: the emotions are like clouds moving through a vast sky, the sky of consciousness. The clouds move, even stormy emotions may come, yet the sky remains clear, open and accepting. The witness can see both the storm of emotions and consciousness at the same time. In this way, the witness gives a resting place and a larger perspective to allow emotions to be, just as they are. Just as we don’t mistake the clouds for the sky, the witness does not mistake our emotions or thoughts for our deepest self. At the same time, emotions are deeply respected as sacred messengers from our deepest self. The emotions are witnessed from the viewpoint and larger perspective of our deepest self.

The capacity to witness emotions paradoxically gives me a safe place to allow the full and often intense expression of many emotions. Currently I am seeing anger and aggression in my son Kailash. It scares me. It takes me back to feelings of fear I experienced as a child. When Kailash is kicking and screaming, or strangling and scratching me as I carry him away from the road. I notice anger and aggression arise in me. I am starting to see this as a gift. I learning how to be fearlessly present with all emotions, even anger, which has always been my most challenging emotion. I am learning to connect with myself and this connects me to the precious inner guide. Anger remains the most insightful guide of all the emotions that have come my way.

Through a dance of witnessing and expressing, we welcome all emotions: anger, fear, sadness, happiness and the myriad of emotional variations on these core emotions. We welcome all emotions as inherently positive as they all communicate messages. This process can lead us to edgy, unknown, intense places, a labyrinth of emotions, revealing intricate layers of meaning. I find there is a natural flowing cycle, moving between emotional expression, witnessing, gaining perspective and receiving insights.

The greatest paradox, and the most wonderful gift of emotions, is that when we express the emotion and listen to our conditioned experience, that layer of conditioning seems to purge and we reconnect again with our deepest consciousness, our wholeness. Perhaps we are afraid that meeting our wounded self will take over the show, but in fact any emotion that is fully expressed and witnessed, then melts. This cycle repeats until there is a very natural and authentic feeling of completion.

Of course, at times we need the support of an excellent listener to help create a safe and steady witnessing container for this emotional exploration. Over time we can progressively learn to listen to ourselves and gradually build our emotional stamina and emotional maturity.

The emotional journey is a journey of entering vulnerability that paradoxically strengthens and empowers us. By witnessing and expressing emotions, we develop a powerful life skill that can help us navigate our way through all of life’s events. May we all trust our emotions. May we give our emotions space and time so that we will hear their important messages as they guide us back home.

Namaste,

6 steps to Befriending your Emotions

  1. Recognize, acknowledge, name itAs soon as you feel a change in your feeling state recognize and acknowledge it. Name it (See the e-motion and feeling scale above).
  2. Process itAnalyze what affected the change in your feeling state. What was the trigger? Did you gain or lose energy? Take note. If the catalyst for a negative emotional response was external to you, address it – this may mean speaking up, perhaps it's removing yourself from your surroundings maybe you need to write it out or go for a walk to understand what is going on for you.
  3. Consider your optionsEmbrace the feeling – go into it. I know this is easier said than done. It can help to consider your goal - do you wish to gain or lose energy? What is the appropriate response, if any? Choose your next thought and watch the impact on your feeling state (is it up or down on the E-motion and Feeling Guidance Scale). What e-motion did you experience? What feeling state resulted?
  4. RespondPrepare and deliver your response with outcomes in mind. Monitor your barometer. Pay attention to what feels right for you and respect and honor yourself. You can invite a challenge when you’re ready, on your terms. Be mindful of your affect on others and how their response impacts you.
  5. Assess OutcomeWhere are you on the emotional guidance scale? Higher or lower? Notice that regardless, it has changed. Why? because e-motion is energy in motion. If you have acknowledged, processed, considered and responded the energy would have moved in some way or another, as a result, you have shifted the emotion!
  6. Plan your next moveThe emotional guidance scale can be a useful framework to help you to enhance your emotional intelligence (EI) and in coping with emotions.

Yoga, pranayama, meditation and youga nidra helps to develop self awareness, self knowledge and your emotional intelligence quotient empowering you to make the choices you need to live passionate lives and have the impact you want to have in your world. Here's to practicing more yoga and embracing energy in motion!

Namaste,

Vibration of Emotions

When we feel an emotion, what we are really sensing is the vibration of a particular energy. Think of emotion as the movement of energy – energy in motion. Each emotion has its own vibratory signature.

Science and medicine had long been convinced that thoughts and emotions originate in the brain. However, modern research is proving that thoughts and emotions are energy vibrations that occur in our body, specifically in the matrix of connective tissue which interconnects all cells, tissues and organs.

These energy vibrations are then perceived by our brain, where they are processed and verbalised according to our acquired expectations and beliefs. The brain’s function is to assign meaning and to create narratives around these emotions. It is therefore becoming evident that an emotional sensation and the meaning ascribed to it by our brain can be separate from each other.

Emotions are expressed over a short period of minutes to an hour or two. When a person says they are some particular emotion e.g. “I am an angry person” and they’re not expressing that emotion – there is no energy in motion. When a person is thinking an emotion instead of expressing it, there can be no chance for them to use the energy of their emotion (in this example, anger) to bring about change.

Our emotional state is created by the amount of energy we have in motion. When energy is blocked (lack of motion) we tend towards apathy and depression. Note that exercise i.e. movement of the body, can be effective in relief of depression. Too much energy in motion can cause us to feel anxious or over emotional.

Normal levels of emotions facilitate an energy flow that can help us break unconscious patterns of thinking and acting.

They are the impetus for action and change in our lives for the better.

Your body cannot tell the difference between an actual experience that triggers an emotional response, and an emotion fabricated by a thought process or narrative. Worrying about a disaster that might potentially occur can generate a negative emotion. You can have a thought that generates emotion in your body which is then returned to your brain in a never ending cycle.

We are protected from becoming overwhelmed by our body’s ability to hold the energy of an emotion in the connective tissue matrix. This “held” energy can become lodged anywhere in your body and is stuck there until something facilitates its release. The stuck energy negatively affects the normal energetic flow, and therefore can impact upon the health of your body at all levels; cells, tissues and organs.

Yoga helps us to access areas of stuck energy. It is an efficient process that gradually delves down through the layers, safely freeing up stuck energy which manifests as thoughts and emotions. Gradually, as energy is released, we can feel more in control of our emotions and have more energy to do the things that are important in their lives.

The body maps in the diagram at the top of the page show regions whose activation increased (warm colors) or decreased (cool colors) when feeling each emotion. From “Bodily Maps of Emotions” http://www.pnas.org/content/111/2/646.full.pdf.

Namaste,

The lady stripped bare

Tracey Spicer strips back her daily routine and challenges us all to use our time more productively. Tracey is a respected journalist who has worked for many years in radio, print and television.

Tracey ask the question: Why do we do this to ourselves?"

Indeed, why? Women spend, on average, a year and three months of their lives applying make-up alone. Add all the extras Spicer lists, and you're looking at a big chunk of time.

Putting her money where her mouth is, Spicer proceeded to wipe her make-up off onstage, before whipping off her cobalt-blue dress to reveal a plain white singlet and some ordinary black shorts.

I love her way with words, hope you do too!

Namaste,

Braidwood Times Article

The Braidwood Times recently wrote this article ...

Long Locks Get the Chop

Christina Jagusiak has spent the past five years waiting for her hair to get long enough to cut off.

On Saturday, she plans to shave her head completely.

It’s not the first time she’s done this, so Ms Jagusiak knows exactly what to expect – she will feel freed.

Since shaving her head approximately five years ago for the same cause, she has been waiting for her hair to grow long enough to do it again.

“There’s so much attachment to hair… it’s quite liberating when you do shave your hair, because you realise there’s more to you than your hair,” she said.

Being lucky enough to have hair, she’s glad to be able to help less fortunate children.

This time round, it’s especially meaningful for her.

While spending several months in hospital with her premature daughter, she saw first hand other children in the pediatric ward going through things like hair loss, and just how traumatic it is for them.

Hair is a defining feature for children and teenagers, Ms Jagusiak says, and she’s glad have healthy hair to help those without.

“So many people in the world don’t have a choice, their hair falls out, or they're made to have their hair removed,” Ms Jagusiak said.

“I’m in a position I’m so lucky that I can choose to have my hair removed, and the hair can go to someone who didn’t have a choice.”

https://www.braidwoodtimes.com.au/story/5243992/long-locks-get-the-chop/

First time I ever shaved my head

Many moons ago I was working in finance. Each day I woke up straightened my hair, put on make up, went for a run, had breakfast, showered, redid my hair and make up, put on stylish clothes, high heels and drove to work. Throughout the day I would retouch my hair and make up … you get the drift, image was important.

Fast forward a few years, I had a pivotal health scare (read more here) and my world changed. I could no longer use my brain the way I had been so I perused a career using my body.

I started out in personal training which didn't really resonate with me, so I did a 200 hour yoga teacher training course. On completion I didn't feel qualified to teach so I underwent a 2 year full time dipolma of yogic studies at Satyananda Yoga Academy. I loved it and wanted to immerse myself in the teachings so I quit my job, sold my car and went to live in the Rocklyn yoga ashram.

Whilst there it became evident how unimportant image was. I spent so much time, energy (and money) trying to portray a certain look so I would be accepted and approved by others and myself. The head swami of the ashram, someone I admired and aspired to was travelling to visit ashrams in India and invited me to join her. I jumped at the opportunity and organised time away from my responsibilities and studies at Rocklyn.

When in India I met a well regarded Guru who gave me a spiritual name and practices to do to help me connect with my Truth. I saw some others who were also meeting with this Guru having their head shaved as a part of the initiation and purification, I felt inspired to join them.

When the clippers switched on and I saw my locks falling beside me a sense of liberation arose. I had been so consumed by my hair, it's style, colour and volume and now all of that meant nothing. I realised for the first time that I was beautiful without superficial beauty. I had a sense of being more woman that I had ever felt even though I looked less woman. The notion that I was who I was – whole and complete regardless of what society may tell us.

I cherish this liberating experience and often remember today, if the children get my clothes dirty when we are out, or I walk around with pen scribbled on my face … it's all ok. We are whole and complete regardless of appearance.

Namaste,

Maya’s first steps

It's happening! She is off. Maya has taken her first steps and now there is no stopping her. Thought you'd enjoy to see how proud she is. I am so proud too.

Namaste,

‘Why The “I’ll Be Happy When…” Syndrome Is An Impossible Dream’

The “I’ll be happy when…” syndrome has taught us that we need to consume in order to feel happy. Meditation expert Emily Fletcher disagrees — here’s why.

“Your happiness exists in one place, and that is inside of you;
and it exists in one time, and that is right now.”

– Emily Fletcher

Namaste,

Our newest family member

Welcome home Emma! We applied a few months ago for a therapy dog for Kailash and there's a 3 year wait! More and more we are noticing how important early intervention is with children on the spectrum but there seems to be many obstacles and delays in the way.

So instead of waiting to try this type of therapy (we are trying so many), we decided we would buy a labradoodle puppy and train her ourselves. We were fortunate to buy her from a family who breads them for autisic children, as they have one themselves and so far it has been fantastic. We have started training with 2 trainers. It's challenging but so rewarding.

Some of the heartmelting moments we have experienced -

Kailash is making more sounds, we are encouraging him to call 'Emma' and say 'sit, good girl, stroke, play, come, down, eat,' etc. Whilst Kailash doesn't say anything but 'naaa' in demonstrating these things over and over, fingers crossed more sounds and possibility words will come.

Kailash is interacting more and more. It's incredible, he really struggles to interact and never initiates it. Emma is pulling him out of his shell and teaching him to engage.

He's aggression has lessened. Seeing Kailash's frustration build to aggression has been a real challenge for me. I am vigilante about Kailash never seeing anger, fights, raised voices or aggression in any form, so when I saw it in him I was heartbroken. He would bite, push, pull, throw, pinch, bang and thrash things and people. So much so we had to keep him separated 24/7 from Maya. We had OT's and child psychologists giving us strategies that worked for a day then stopped. I was so frazzled at one stage I said to a specialist - 'does Maya have to be in hospital from being hurt before this will be taken seriously?' We videoed the behavior to send it off to professionals for help and managed the best we could. When Emma first arrived it was hectic. I thought that the aggression could worsen as I saw Kailash was matching Emma's energy with violence. Doubt swept over me but we continued persisting. Then something transformational happened ... first there was no biting, then no pinching, then no thrashing and banging ceased. The pushing and pulling has been minimal and manageable. We are amazed and in awe of Emma.

Kailash's face lights up when he sees Emma wanting to play with him! Because he doesn't talk, often children don't interact so Kailash spends lots of time with children but alone. Emma runs to him and plays, this is giving Kailash confidence, love and security, it fills our heart.

Personal space. Emma is all over Kailash. This has taught Kailash it is ok and safe to have people touch him. Maya has been having some baths with him and when she touches him, he no longer has meltdowns. The same thing has happened in shops, if someone brushes past him it's no longer a catastrophe.

Distraction. When Kailash is overwhelmed by sensory overload Emma calms him and acts as a big distraction reducing the length and stress on Kailash and all around him.

 

It is amazing that in the 3 weeks we have had Emma, who is now 12 weeks old, has made a life changing difference. Thank you for giving me the space to share this journey with you. Fury children bring so much love.

Namaste,

Transition with Awareness & Grace

Here are 6 ways to transition with awareness and grace on your mat and in your life.

1. Get clear. Be Still. You won’t always know where you are going. That’s okay. Too often we forge ahead aimlessly, then wonder why we are letting the wind carry us every which way. So be still. Meditate. Journal. Sit quietly even if it is just for one minute each day. Over time you will create space in your mind and space in your body. Your intuitive direction will become clear.

2. Notice the spaces in between. Treat the time in between postures or destinations with the same awareness and regard as you would each yoga pose or life role. Notice the spaces in between your thoughts. Notice the spaces in between your inhales and exhales. If you reflect on past transitions you will likely remember the journey filled with pauses with as much gratitude as the goal. One is not possible without the other.

3. Let go of struggle. One of my favorite cues in yoga both as a student and teacher is let go of struggle. If you feel resistance during a transition ask yourself if it is fear based or intuitive. Where are you wasting unnecessary energy? Let go of fear based reasoning and release anything you know in your heart does not serve you in the moment. Intuition will sound when you are headed somewhere your body is not ready to be. Returning to step 1 will help here.

4. Practice loving kindness. Ahimsa in yoga means non-violence. Remember to practice this with yourself. Notice your idle mind chatter. Catch yourself in any self-sabotaging dialogue. Speak to yourself with as much love and compassion as you would a dear friend.

5. Lose where you think you need to be. Find where you are. Body wisdom develops on your yoga mat when you listen inwardly. Life wisdom develops when you do the same. It is one thing to look to others for inspiration but let go of judgement and comparison. Truly honor your personal path.

6. The prize is in the process. Yoga classes don't usually start with yoga nidra. Your life doesn't start at the end. The prize truly is in the process. Remind yourself this with as many playful examples as you can. Over time your faith in transitions will grow and your discomfort in them will hopefully wane.

How you transition, changes your life

 

We transition dozens if not hundreds of times a day - from the house to outside, home to work, one yoga pose to the next, waking to sleeping etc. Most transitions go unnoticed, but it's the ones we intentionally create and the ones thrust upon us, that are often the most difficult to navigate.

I've been thinking about transitions alot recently as Kailash finds them challenging. This is a real blessing as it's forcing me to pay as much attention on moving from one task to the next, as the task itself.

It's so easy to mindlessly transition through life, but in doing so we miss out on all sorts of "in between" moments. As we cultivate presence and attention in transitions we can bring our focus back to the journey instead of the destination.

For today, for this moment, breathe consciously and savour the beauty around and within. Blessings for a present transition into 2018.

Happy Birthday Maya!

Happy Birthday Maya!

On 8th November it was Maya Moksha's first birthday.

We feel so incredibly blessed to have Maya in our lives. Born at 800 grams and dropping to 713 grams there were many times we feared the worst. This strong and determined little munchkin continued to  Maya spent over 4 months in hospital, had 8 blood transfusions, was fed through a tube some times less than 1mil of breastmilk at a time and has seen more doctors in her life than one could imagine!

We started the day with present opening. She adored playing with balloons. Her birthday cake 'the hungry caterpilliar' she devoured.

To acknowledge her identical sister, Samsara Moksha, we spread her ashes in the ocean and the children each sent her a balloon in heaven. Feeling so fortunate to have Samsara forever in our hearts. Even the smallest of feet have the power to leave everlasting footprints.

Here's a little poem I wrote when I left the hospital ...

The doctors they tell you, prepare for the worst
Your world tears apart your dreams are immersed
She is far too small, she has a battle ahead
You search for some hope in the eyes of the Ped.

The day turns to night and the team goes away
A doctor and nurse are the only to stay
The clock goes so slowly yet the hours still pass
Your try to reach out to that face behind the glass

Your life is the monitor you watch every beat
You watch every breath; you don’t leave your seat

As night starts to deepen you start to reflect
You start to question what to expect
You try to reason you try to make sense
You feel joy yet your pain is intense

The longest night in history draws to a close
The day that stood still, the day where time froze
The smallest human you have ever seen
So tough, so hard, courage unseen.

Hours become days and days become weeks
Weeks become months, with falls and peaks
The road is long the journey is hard
The climb is tough your mind is scarred.

But your family and friends are there, you’re not alone
You soldier on regardless as NICU becomes your home
Those brilliant doctors and staff are there on your ride
With those Angels of mercy there at your side

How can one so little be so tough and brave
And defy all the odds that once looked so grave
A heart the size of the MCG in a body built so small
She took on every challenge and answered every call

Sometimes when she is sleeping, I sit there at her side
And appreciate every second and watch her with such pride
Our girl came home, her battle was hard, the lucky we were among
As her sister stayed there forever, forever she is young.
Welcome beautiful Maya Moksha Carroll.

Sourdough

Our favourite sourdough

Ingredients - for two loaves
200 grams starter
800 grams bakers flour
200 grams wholemeal flour
700 mls luke warm water
20 grams salt mixed with 50 mls water
hand full semolina/polenta
1 cup ice cubes

Method

Combine Ingredients (except salt)
Combine luke warm water and starter in a bowl. Add flour and mix until no dry flour is visible. Let sit for 25-40 mins. Add the salt and water mix and then mix through the dough. Fold the dough a few times back on itself and transfer into a plastic container covered and leave the dough at room temperature (suggest 20-26C). Turn the dough every half hour for the first two hours, then every hour for three the next hours. Place dough on a lightly floured bench, divide mix into two and preshape loaf. On a bench cover with a tea towel and let relax for 20-30 minutes. Make the final shape and place into a bread basket, banneton, or something the like. Place covered with glad wrap in a refrigerator for up to 12 hours or over night . Preheat oven to 230C. Put some ice cubes on a separate baking tray as they need to go in with your bread to create a moist environment for you bread .Heat bread baking tray in oven until hot. Remove from oven and place some semolina or polenta on the base of the tray.. Put your bread ontop of the semolina/polenta, score bread place in oven. Then place tray with ice cubes in as well they should steam up and evaporate within 20 min Bake for 40/45mins. ENJOY!

Distress Tolerance

‘Distress Tolerance: The Great Mental Health Experiment’

Everyone has those moments when you feel out of control. It's how you deal with it that counts.

In this video 'Your Beth Friend' explores things that can help with mental health by testing out some legit ways to focus your mind when you’re freaking out.

The fancy word for this distress tolerance - matching our intense feelings with intense experiences in safe, controlled ways. This helps give your brain a break from your emotions so it can do its job and get us back to balance. These skills are especially helpful if you want to do something unhelpful, like self harm or punch someone.

Hope you enjoy it!

Namaste,

Bringing Harmony to Body, Mind & Spirit

‘Bringing Harmony to Body, Mind & Spirit’

In this video, Sri Sri Ravishankarji, discusses about the seven layers of existence, which are Body, Mind, Breath, Intellect, Memory, Ego and Self and how we can keep them in harmony and healthy by practicing Sudarshan Kriya and Yoga. Gurudev throws light on how we can assure rejuvenation and restoration of optimal health by attending to the four source of energy, our food habits, sleep and breath pattern and meditation. Various techniques of yoga and meditation taught in the Art of Living courses help Eliminate Stress, Restore Health and Create Positivity in our life and the lives of our loved ones.

Namaste,

Stripping away negative body image

‘Stripping away negative body image’

I love this short clip, I hope you do too ...

Studies have shown that the media’s portrayal of women’s bodies has a severely negative impact on the self-image of women and girls. But what about seeing positive images of women? Actor and Burlesque performer Lillian Bustle grew up battling body shame and harassment that colored her view of the world and her own worth. This performer’s immersion in the New York Burlesque scene and her resulting paradigm shift inspired her to delve into ways women can experience their own bodies in new and affirming ways. In this talk, Lillian discusses self-esteem, risk-taking, and diversity, and offers practical techniques for destroying self-negativity

Lillian Bustle is an actor, singer, burlesque performer, and gleeful loudmouth about body love. Although her first burlesque performance was in 2012, she made her nightclub debut at the age of 14 as a singer in a drag show. She’s been covered in glitter and boas ever since. Influenced by body-positive activists like Jes Baker and bodacious women like Bette Midler, Lillian busts through societal boundaries about size and beauty. She hopes to help people of all shapes and sizes celebrate in their own skin.

Namaste,

What we focus on gets bigger

what-you-focus-on

We have all heard about the law of attraction, and often in classes I will say, "What we focus on gets bigger," but how does this actually work?

Every time we have an experience, the corresponding neurons are activated. Every time they are activated, they are elevated a little in the order of importance. Repeating or prolonging an experience will keep the connections between neurons strong and ensure that they stay. This is why, for example, we can recite the alphabet without thinking. It’s not because we were born baby geniuses with a cute alphabet jingle imprinted into our brains. It’s because throughout our childhood, we sing the alphabet song and have it sung to us so many times, that the relevant neurons are repeatedly activated enough to eventually form rock solid connections.

Experience doesn’t just effect change by creating new connections and strengthening existing ones. It also seems to reach into our genes (the tiny atoms in the DNA inside the nuclei of neurons) and change the way they function. A regular practice of mindfulness and meditation, for example, will increase the activity of genes that have the capacity to soothe a stress reaction in the heat of a moment, ultimately making you more able to deal with stress.

Everything you experience will alter the physical structure of your brain in some way. The things you do, the people you spend time with, every feeling, thought, and automatic experience will influence the wiring of your brain to make you who you are and to influence who you can become.

Experiences matter. They matter in the moment and in the way they can change the brain beyond the immediate moment.

Your brain will build and change whether you like it or not.  It’s so important to build it in the direction you want it to build it. Think of it as a mark on a page. At first, the mark might be so faint as to not even be noticeable, but keep going over the mark, even with the slightest of pressure, and that mark will get more defined and more permanent. Your attention and focus will always be somewhere – maybe many places – which means there are wirings and firings happening all the time, strengthening what’s there or creating something new.

If you aren’t deliberate and conscious in shaping your brain, other people and experiences will do this for you. Experiences, situations and people – positive or negative – will leave lasting traces on your brain by way of strengthened neural pathways.

By being purposeful about your experience, and the experiences you repeat or spend longer doing, you can have a direct influence over how your brain strengthens and grows and the pathways that are most likely to endure – but it does take a deliberate and conscious effort.

What you focus on will determine the parts of your brain that fire, wire and strengthen. Then, as those parts of the brain switch on and the neurons start firing, lasting connections will be made, strengthening memories and influencing what the brain will attend to in the future (positive or negative).

If you let your mind settle on self-criticism, self-loathing, pain, distress, stress, worry, fear, regret, guilt, these feelings and thoughts will shape your brain. You will be more vulnerable to worry, depression, anxiety, and be more likely to notice the negatives of a situation, frame things in a negative way, and be barrelled off track by what you could have or should have done.

On the other hand, if you focus on positive feelings and frame situations with a tilt towards the positive, eventually your brain will take on a shape that reflects this, hardwiring and strengthening connections around resilience, optimism, gratitude, positive emotion and self-esteem.

Through our practice and deepening our awareness we can observe the thoughts and sculpt them to where we would like them to be. This gives us the power to choose whether we view the world through a lens that is sad or happy, optimistic or hopeless, whether we are open to love or are quick to close it down. What we pay attention to will shape our brains, which in turn will shape our experiences, our relationships and in essence our life.

Namaste,

The Vrittis: Patanjali’s Five Fluctuations of the Mind

1438988300764Patanjali begins the yoga sutras by defining yoga as “citta vrtti nirodaha”(YS 1.2) which is often translated simply as ‘Yoga is the ability to calm/direct/restrain the fluctuations of the consciousness/mind’. Patanjali then says that when in this state of yoga, the perceiver (person) then abides in his or her own/true nature. So the question then becomes – HOW do we calm or restrain the mind to achieve this desired state of yoga?

Well the simple answer is: do your yoga practice. Simple. Just keep doing a regular and sustained yoga practice and all will come – as the late Sri. K. Patthabhi Jois would say. But we are creatures of wanting to know everything and sometimes the simple answer just doesn’t cut it!

Patanjali actually describes the five fluctuations (functions) of the mind (or five vrittis) to help us better understand the workings of the mind. He says these five vrittis can be painful or non-painful. They are:

  1. Valid Cognition (Pramana)
  2. Misconception (Viparyaya)
  3. Imagination (Vikalpa)
  4. Sleep (Nidra)
  5. Memory (Smriti)

Let’s look at these in more detail.

1.  Valid Cognition (Pramana)

What determines whether knowledge is valid and correct? Well, we know something is valid if we ourselves have experienced something and can use that knowledge, right? For example, using our 5 senses, we can say that we know what water is, because we have touched it and experienced it before and we have practical applications of water because we use it to clean ourselves and to hydrate our bodies. So in this case, we know the knowledge of water is valid because it is revealed to be water based on our experiences and it has a practical application to us in life. So Patanjali says, for knowledge to be valid it needs to:

  1. Reveal the thing as it really is
  2. Be useful – have a practical application

It is true to say that we can often be deceived by our 5 senses. Think of a mirage. You may believe to see water in the distance – it appears to be water, however the water does not actually exist. The perception is real, but the outcome is incorrect or impractical. So Patanjali says that in order for knowledge to be valid it needs to be perceived not only by the five senses, but it also needs to have a practical application. For example, a bookkeeper’s knowledge is completely invalid or impractical to the knowledge of a doctor or vice versa.

So how is it that we acquire knowledge?

  1. Direct Experience (pratyaksha): using our five senses (acquiring knowledge directly through the environment)
  2. Inference (anumana): our ability to apply logic and reason to figure things out for ourselves. For example, you may see smoke in the distance coming out of a mountain so you may infer that there is a fire.
  3. Trustworthy Testimony (agamah): trusting in the knowledge and experience of someone else. For example, I know factually that oxygen and hydrogen create water although I cannot personally figure this out for myself scientifically and it is not something I would have known if I had not have been told. However I can experience water and I trust my teachers in the subject (scientists) and their motives and so based on this, I believe their knowledge is valid.

It is important here to note the importance of something called anubhava in the process of acquiring knowledge. Anubhava refers to the assessing of knowledge to your personal experience. So although someone can verbally pass knowledge onto you, anubhava is about experiencing this knowledge for yourself in some way that brings life to this knowledge. For example, someone may say to you “You should do yoga, it’s so good for you!” and this is knowledge you may acquire but really this knowledge is lifeless and empty unless you experience first-hand that yoga is good for you by attending yoga classes for yourself! So as I mentioned earlier about valid cognition (pramana) – knowledge is valid IF it is valid to your personal experience too!

2.  Misconception (viparyaya)

The second function of the mind (vritti) is misconception. Misconception is false knowledge based on the deceptive appearance of that object. We may like to think that we go through life seeing things objectively but in fact, we see the world that we want to see.   The Sanskrit word for ‘the world’ is prapanchapancha meaning five senses and pra meaning perceiving through – so basically the world is what we see through our perception of the five senses. An example would be a group of people looking at the same tree. What do they see? Based on their own likes, dislikes, interests etc, they will see different things. For example, an artist will see a potential painting, a carpenter sees potential crafty possibilities, an environmentalist will contemplate the environmental benefits of the tree and a child will see it as something to climb and explore! So a tree is not simply what we see with our five senses – we see what is relevant to us which is conditioned by our own biases.

So our thoughts (vrittis) can be knowledge that is misconceived… the goal of yoga is to calm these vrittis; so when they are calm we can start to see things for what they truly are instead of what we perceive them to be.

3.  Imagination (vikalpa)

Our imagination function operates on a more subtle level than the previous two functions of valid cognition and misconception. Imagination is an idea that we create in our minds. We actually can convince ourselves of a truth when in fact it is not true at all! Other translations of vikalpa are: doubt, indecision, daydreaming. To explain this further, if we tell ourselves that we are wonderful, amazing, capable etc… then we live our life believing this about ourselves. However if we tell ourselves that we are failures, useless worthless and unsuccessful, then our mind believes this and your life will be a reflection of this! So this function of vikalpa or imagination can heavily influence you – causing happiness or suffering in your life.

We can create an imagined world for ourselves based on our way of thinking. We can create an imagined world without contemplation of the facts. This ‘power of positive thinking’ may appear new age, however the yoga sutras has been teaching for thousands of years the importance of controlling the mind! Through this control, we can liberate ourselves from suffering.

4.  Deep Sleep (Nidra)

Nidra is commonly translated as “deep sleep” or “state of emptiness”. In nidra, the mind is directed inward, operating at a very subtle level. We all know how important sleep is to our overall health. You only need to have one poor night’s sleep, suffer from insomnia or have a newborn baby in the house to appreciate how important deep, restful sleep is for our mental and physical well-being! So how do you feel after a good night sleep? Refreshed and ready for the day. What about a poor, disturbed or simply, not enough sleep? This can negatively impact your mood and ability to concentrate during the day. Observing how well the mind operates after a good or poor night sleep helps you make choices that are more beneficial to your health around your sleep habits. For example, do you watch TV to help you fall asleep? Play games on your phone? Read a book? Listen to music? It’s a good idea to assess your own sleep habits and reflect on the kind of sleep you have when you use certain stimulus to aid in the sleeping process.

In the yoga sutras, Patanjali says that “deep sleep is when the mind is overcome by heaviness and no other activities are present” (YS 1.10). So basically when the mind is not in the first three virttis (valid cognition, misconception and imagination), then it goes to sleep. Sleep is a common activity for the mind and there are optimal times for sleep such as when the sun goes down. But this heaviness can occur due to boredom or exhaustion, stress or other reasons may result in the mind going to sleep! Some people sleep to ‘escape the world’ due to their worries and anxieties.

B.K.S Iyengar says that “sleep is the non-deliberate absence of thought-waves or knowledge”. The Yoga Sutra 1.10 has also been translated as “deep sleep is the absence of reasoning, the absence of other thoughts and all other modifications of mind are suspended” or simply “sleep is a process based upon the absence of cognition”. So in nidra, or deep sleep, the mind is not conscious at all. Due to it being an unconscious state of mind, we cannot explain this experience of ‘dreamless sleep’ as we never experience it. We can only guess that we had a good or bad sleep but there is no awareness of deep sleep itself. Nidra is actually noted as the activity defined by non-activity!

Using ancient yogic meditation techniques called ‘yoga nidra’, it is possible to experience deep sleep consciousness… this is often described as a ‘conscious deep sleep state’. If you haven’t tried yoga nidra, be sure to come to a yoga class or download some yoga nidra tracks and listen to them while lying down in relaxation. It really is a consciously relaxing experience!

5.  Memory (Smriti)

The Yoga Sutra 1.11 is translated as “Memory is the mental retention of a conscious experience” or “memory is a recollection of experienced objects”. All conscious experiences leave an impression on the individual and are stored as memory. It is not possible to tell if a memory is true, false, incomplete or imaginary. Just think about the retelling of a past event – different people will recall different ‘facts’ and sometimes you may disagree on the details based on your own recollection.

On the most obvious level, memories can bring you pleasure or can stir you up to feel angry, sad or agitated. But on a deeper level, memory can influence your present situation more than you might realise. For example, the memory of a bad experience may keep you from starting a new relationship, taking risks or living fully in the present moment. Memory’s influence also shows up in some of our closest relationships. Have you ever caught yourself saying things about someone like “he is untrustworthy”, “She is always late”, “She is able to handle anything” and this is all based on the memory of your experience with that person.

Memory at times can prevent forgiveness. We may hold onto some painful memories which prevent us from letting go and in a way, our memories can ‘steal our present moment’. By holding onto certain impressions, this can prevent us from experiencing the now…without bias, judgement or criticism.

We are the sum total of all our experiences. So the vrittis (mind functions) including smriti (memory) are considered memory because all thoughts create lasting impressions. So it can be said that smriti is memory of memory! Every memory creates an impression in the mind and these impressions, whether they lead to suffering or freedom need to be controlled in order to abide in our own true nature- in the state of yoga.

So what does this all mean?

Basically, Patanjali describes the five functions of the mind to ultimately help us reduce our suffering. By being able to recognise these functions and learning how the mind works, this is the foundation to seeing your true nature as separate from the mind. Almost like stepping out of yourself and observing the functions of the mind, without being attached, upset or frustrated…just simply becoming an observer. Once you are able to observe without reaction, you will be able to more easily differentiate the mind and all of its fluctuations from your true nature. Patanjali says that “through sustained practice and the cultivation of dispassion, these fluctuations of mind can be stilled” (YS 1.12). So as I said at the beginning of this post, the simple answer to calming the mind and achieving a state of yoga is through regular and sustained practice! Do your practice… and your life will unfold the way it is meant to!

Namaste,

Navigate Change

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I am currently going through some big changes. So I wanted to offer some yogic ways that I am using and you to may find helpful to navigate radical change.

1. Know That Change is Inevitable
The Buddhist Doctrine of Impermanence, annica, tells us that change is inevitable, continuous, and unavoidable. Everything changes. Just realizing that fact can protect you from turning to that most disempowering of reactions to change: “Why me?”

What the Buddhists call impermanence, a Tantric yogi would ascribe to the ever-changing nature of shakti—the intrinsic, dynamic power at the heart of life. Shakti is the cosmic, divine feminine energy that continually brings things into manifest being, keeps them going for a while, then dissolves them. Every moment, every enterprise, every cell, is part of this flow of creation, sustenance, and dissolution. This flow is happening on a macrocosmic level—as the flow of seasons, tides, and cultures—and on a microcosmic level, through the various shifts in your physical states, the ups and downs of your life, and the flow of thoughts and emotions in your mind. If you understand the divine nature of the process of change, it becomes easier to greet change with honor, surrender to it, and even partner with it as you continue on your path.

2. View the Change as an Initiation
In traditional societies, every phase of life was regarded as an initiation into a new way of being and was marked with a ceremony that often asked the initiates to step into the unknown in some way, whether it was observing a prayer vigil, spending the night in darkness, or answering questions that tested their skills. Nowadays, we don’t always do a ceremony, but we still undergo initiations. Changing careers, moving to a new city, deciding to go back to school, are all initiatory experiences, because they ask you to step outside your habits, test your skills, and, for a time, inhabit the unknown. More, each of these changes will subtly or even dramatically redefine you. You won’t be quite the same person after you step out of the old situation and into the new. The change itself, if you go through it consciously, is the doorway into the next stage of growth—one that propels you into a deeper relationship with yourself and the world.

An example: Twenty-four-year-old Frances accepted a job offer to teach English in Seoul, then freaked out when she got there, overwhelmed by loneliness and culture shock. What persuaded her to stay was recognizing the ways in which being a foreigner freed her from old self-descriptions and helped her find a new way of being herself. Similarly, when your life is changing, consider the ways in which the change will expand you, teach you about yourself, show you both your limits and your capacity to move beyond them. The more you can accept this as an initiation process, the easier it is to discover the gifts of change.

3. Meditate Through Uncertainty
The deep uncertainty that arises during processes of change is perhaps the most daunting part of the experience. Why? Because a true change process will involve surprises, reversals, false starts, and periods of coming to a dead halt. In these moments, you’re likely to experience fear, anxiety, anger, irritability, sadness, grief, and the physical and psychological contraction that often goes along with feeling uncertain and unclear. Your gut tightens, and your mind begins spinning one of your victim stories: your worst-case-scenario story, or your “I just don’t have what it takes” story, or your “I’ll never get what I need” story. And your next move is nearly always some form of escape. You turn on the TV, or eat something, or call a friend to complain.

But the real antidote to the discomfort of uncertainty is to move into it rather than away from it. You connect to the way the discomfort feels in your body. You let yourself feel it. You let go of the story that inevitably accompanies feelings of discomfort. And you just stay present with yourself and with your feelings, without resistance or expectation. The more you can be present with uncertainty, the more you can let the change process take place naturally and effectively.

It’s much easier to stay steady through a life-change process when you have a meditation practice, because meditation teaches you how to keep going back into your center, the core awareness that is your contact point with the Self and that aligns your individual consciousness with the heart of the universe. Your meditation practice can be as simple as attending to the breath or repeating a mantra, or as subtle as tuning in to the awareness that knows what you’re thinking, or as physically centering as breathing into the heart. The important thing is that it connects you to your innate sense of being, to the Presence inside you.

4. Uncover Your Truest Desire
Self-inquiry, or atma vichara, is the core yogic process for navigating change. It’s a simple but effective process of asking yourself core questions such as, “What is my true desire in this situation?” or “What outcome would be the best for everyone?” As answers surface, write them down.

Next, sit for a moment in meditation, following your breath, until you feel a sense of connection to Presence. Say to yourself, “May my deeper Self, the teacher inside me, tell me what is the right thing to do.” Then ask yourself the self-inquiry questions again and write down whatever responses come up, even if some of them seem irrelevant.

Now, look at what you’ve written and look for common threads that should give you a sense of what your deeper Self wants for you. Getting in touch with your deepest, truest desire will help you organize the entire change process.

5. Set a Strong Intention
The next step is to make a sankalpa—a clearly articulated, affirmative statement about what you intend to do. When you make a true sankalpa, you call on the power of your personal will and align your personal will with the cosmic will. If you have gone through the self-inquiry process and have a sense of what your true desire is, you should be able to make a sankalpa that is in line with your truest wish. The deeper the alignment between your core desire and your intention, the more likely you are to successfully initiate a life change that supports that alignment.

That said, it’s important to recognize that your sankalpa will change according to the time and the circumstance. At one point, the sankalpa may be, “I have a job that I love and that allows me to spend time with my children.” At another time it may be, “I am skillfully creating steppingstones to finding a new home.” At another time it may be, “I am healing my body and my spirit.”

Notice that each of these sankalpas is stated in the present tense. That’s because a sankalpa is not merely a wish, or even a statement of purpose. It’s an articulation of direction that brings your goal into the present moment. What gives a sankalpa its strength is that it assumes that the outcome you intend to manifest is not just certain but has already occurred.

6. Take Action, One Step at a Time
The very heart of the practice of yoga is abhyasa—steady effort in the direction you want to go. So when you are initiating a life change, consider the steps you need to take to make it happen, again using the technique of self-inquiry. Rita, for example, has to consider steppingstones to a different life. She asks herself, “Where will I live? Who will be my friends and support group? How will we help our daughter cope with the changes? What other sources of income do I have besides the studio? How will I pay the studio rent if my husband can’t or won’t?” Thinking through her options and possibilities helps Rita settle her fears and devise a plan, even though she doesn’t have all the answers to her questions yet.

Once you’ve thought things through, it’s crucial to take action. Effective abhyasa, in the yoga of life change, is to take things one step at a time so you avoid feeling overwhelmed. Consider Rita’s plan for gaining financial independence from her husband, for example. Her first step is to increase her workload with private yoga clients. Her second step is to take a course in conflict resolution, an area in which she has worked in the past. These actions give her the sense of financial stability and the confidence to begin talking to her husband about a divorce. Like Rita, as you take your first small steps, you’ll usually find that each step leads to another and that opportunities begin to show up in response.

7. Practice Letting Go
One of the positive byproducts of making a life change, from a yogic perspective, is the opportunity that it gives you to practice vairagya, which is usually translated as “detachment,” or letting go. That means letting go of the past; letting go of the way that things used to be; letting go of your fear, your grief, your old relationship, your old job.

But you don’t want to let go in a “hard” way, forcing yourself to be a samurai of change. Instead, let yourself grieve the losses or feel the anxiety. Then breathe out and imagine that whatever you’re holding on to is flowing out with the breath. Or offer it to the universe with a prayer—something simple like, “I offer this change and everything associated with it. May the results be of benefit to all beings.” You do this again and again, until you experience the feeling of freedom that comes with real vairagya.

In my experience, just remembering to let go—moment by moment—can by itself be the inner key to navigating positive and radical change. In fact, if all you learn from your change process is a little bit of letting go, you’ll have received one of the great gifts of change—and you’ll be one giant leap closer to living the life of your dreams.

Namaste,

Dealing with Difficult Times in Life

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‘Dealing with Difficult Times in Life’

I have been enjoying Brendon Burchard's insights in this freestyle way through videos. To summarize this clip here are some notes -

1. Set Small, Simple Daily Goals. When times are difficult, it’s easy to feel we’ve lost all personal power. So, a simple way to insert agency and progress in our lives is to set three small goals every day and work to achieve them. These can be as simple as taking a shower, going for a walk, or calling a friend. It’s not about taking over the world, it’s about directing just a tiny bit of our day until we can find our footing again.

2. Keep Perspective. Draw some strength from the truth that there have been positive, good, happy times in life and that those moments and memories can return and are with you. And remember that part of keeping perspective is realizing you are not on an island alone - there are people out there who can help you through this. Finally, remember, you are the miracle - the fact that you can choose your attention and breath and choices each day is a profound blessing. Not all is lost or negative - there is always hope and you can make new choices.

3. Ask, “What should I be learning here?” When times are tough, we often feel that we can’t understand or handle things, that we lack competence or capability. So, to shore up those feelings, be strategic and ask, “What could I learn now to better handle this stage of my life?” Develop a learning curriculum for yourself and start studying things that can help or advance your life.

4. Be Your Best Self Despite the Difficulties. When I had a brain injury, I couldn’t control my emotions and actions for a while. I felt out of control. All I could do is set the intention to be my best. I forced myself to ask, “How would my best self interact with this situation? How would I view this, go through this, support others, and grow despite it all?” Sometimes, a simple and positive intention can expand our consciousness and connection with life (and ourselves).

5. Keep Gratitude Alive. This is the time to get grateful for the choices and blessings you do have, for the people you have supporting you, for who you are and who you can become. The surest route from suffering begins at the path of gratitude.

Namaste,

Obstacles

While obstacles are generally perceived to be outside of us, Patanjali explains in Sutras 1.30 and 1.31 that the only real obstacles lie within us. It’s much easier to look outside of ourselves and find problems with the people, places and things outside of us. Wouldn’t you prefer to find fault in another and avoid looking within? But until we honestly begin to look within and gently remove the weeds of separation (thoughts of doubt, anger, betrayal, jealousy, fear, attack, etc...) we each remain on a treadmill of disillusionment while constantly seeking yet never really finding.We think we advance through blame and projection, but in reality we are going nowhere.

The higher practice of yoga is the ongoing process of identifying the obstacles within and holding them to the light of truth. It is a process of realizing how destructive we can be to ourselves (and often to those around us). The ego identifies with problems and obstacles because they uphold a separate sense of self. Without them, “I” might disappear—but isn’t that the goal? Ask yourself, “Who would “I” be without my problems?”

As an ego, we need our problems, but the seed for a better way has already been planted. The healing unification of yoga is an inner journey of discovering that seed of Wholeness. It wants to grow and it will do so on its own. Nourish the process by identifying and removing the weeds.

This winter, do just as the season calls for and go within. Take the time to reflect and nourish your inner garden.

Living beyond limits

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‘Living beyond limits’

Amy Purdy talks about the power of imagination. She explains how our lives are not determined by what happens to us, but by the choices we make. Imagination allows us to break down borders, to move beyond our circumstances, to create and constantly progress.
I hope you enjoy it.

Namaste,

A Pep Talk from Kid President to You

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‘A Pep Talk from Kid President to You’

We all need a little encouragement every now and then. Kid President, knowing this, has put together this short clip that you can play or share with a friend to give you a kick in the right direction. Take a moment and spread some encouragement. "It's everybody's duty to give the world a reason to dance."

I hope you enjoy it.

Namaste,

4 nourishing poses for winter

The following four yoga postures are gentle and nourishing for the cold winter months ahead and will help to support your immune system, gently squeezing toxins from internal organs and lowering stress hormones in the body. With these supportive poses in your pocket, old man winter can bring it on.

Recommended props:

  • 1 bolster
  • 1 blanket
  • 1 yoga block

Uttanasana – Standing Forward Bend hand

Why Uttanasana? This posture lengthens the spine, increases flexibility, and reduces pain in the lower back. It also helps to open the shoulder joints, stimulates the pituitary and pineal glands, and exercises the colon, pancreas, and kidneys.

How to do it: Stand with feet hips-width apart. On an exhale, fold at the waist, bending knees slightly if needed. Clasp opposite elbows and straighten the legs, if possible. Hold for 5 to 10 breath cycles.

Supported Setu Bandha Sarvangasana – Bridge Pose

Why Setu Bandha Sarvangasana? This pose stretches the neck, the chest, and the spine. It helps to stimulate abdominal organs, improving digestion. It also stimulates the thyroid and lungs and is rejuvenating to tired legs. This posture is calming to the mind and helps to relieve mild depression as well as insomnia.

How to do it: Lying supine, with knees bent, place your feet on the mat. Press into the feet, lifting the hips and the thighs; place a yoga block at the desired height under your sacrum. The head, shoulders, and arms remain on the mat. You can clasp your hands under your body around the block if you want a nice shoulder opener. Hold for 5 to 10 breath cycles or longer.

Matsyasana Variation – Fish PoseFish Pose

Why Matsyasana? This pose stretches the neck, the chest, and the spine but the focus is more on opening the chest and the heart center. Matsyasana also stretches the thoracic and cervical spine and helps to correct rounded shoulders—a serious epidemic in the computer age.

How to do it: Place a yoga block at its desired height and lie back over it. You can also place a pillow or another block under your head if the stretch is too intense. Extend your legs and open your arms out from the shoulder. Hold the pose for 10 to 20 breath cycles or longer, up to five minutes.

Supta Baddha Konasana – Reclining Bound Angle Pose

Why Supta Baddha Konasana? This is the vacation pose of yoga, providing a deep sense of rest. This pose calms the nervous system, provides blood flow to the lower abdomen, stretches the inner thighs, and helps to open the hips.

How to do it: Use a yoga bolster or a firm couch cushion. If your hips are tight, fold two blankets to place under each knee. Sit with the support behind you—in line with your lower back. Lie back over the bolster or pillow and bring the soles of your feet together. Extend arms out from the shoulders. Hold for 10 to 20 breath cycles or longer, up to 10 minutes. Enjoy!

Namaste,

Benefits of winter yoga

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Cold, dark mornings and winter nights are not particularly conducive to encouraging you to roll out your mat and get to your regular yoga class; however, it is perhaps the single most important decision you could make to support your mind and body as you move through the coldest season of the year.

Yoga for chronic joint pain management in winter
Research consistently highlights that symptoms of chronic joint pain are exacerbated in winter. This is of particular relevance to yoga practitioners who have an existing medically diagnosed condition that further intensifies joint pain in cold weather – such as Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, osteo and rheumatoid arthritis, to name a few.

In general, practising asana (postures) in a Vinyasa (flowing form) style maintains joint mobility and increases circulation while loosening stiffness within the joints. An essential part of easing pain during this time is to ensure that the body stays warm, as heat also helps muscles to relax and, therefore, asana as a therapy is a soothing way of decreasing joint pain.

Cold weather may not necessarily be the only contributing factor to joint pain in winter. The barometric pressure changes during colder weather can also increase joint pain. Barometric pressure is the weight of the atmosphere that surrounds us and this pressure drops just prior to a decrease in weather conditions, which subsequently lowers air pressure. This allows tissues in the joints to expand, increasing pressure and subsequently increasing pain in the joints. In the presence of a high-inflammatory response, a gentle, more restorative therapeutic practice should be favoured in order to increase joint mobility without increasing inflammation.

Yoga and pranayama 
for the lungs
One of the most natural ways that asana protects the lower respiratory system is to consistently breath via the nose, through the practice of ujjayi (victorious) pranayama (breathing practices), and this is for two main reasons. Firstly, the lungs constrict when the air coming into the body is cool, and inhaling through the nose warms the air before it enters the lungs, caused by air passing over blood capillaries underneath the mucous membranes. Secondly, the groove-like passage of the turbinates in the nasal airway swirl and filter air, thus protecting the respiratory system from potential allergens that may irritate the lungs. Stronger pranayama practices also benefit the lungs and strengthen the relationship between the nervous and respiratory systems – such as kapalabhati (skull shining breath) and bhastrika (bellows breath) – as they both aim to support, strengthen and protect both the upper and lower respiratory while increasing the tonicity and integrity of lung function and respiration.

The winter yoga glow – 
skin renewal
The skin is the largest organ of the body and contributes significantly to the detoxifying process in conjunction with other internal organs, including the liver, bowel, kidneys, lungs, lymph and immune systems. In winter, a combination of central heating, lack of ventilation, low humidity, less atmospheric moisture, cooler air and wind tend to cause the skin to become dry and dehydrated. The benefits of sweating during a strong, heated vinyasa yoga practice is the body’s natural way of cleansing the pores of the skin, maintaining skin hydration while increasing the texture and suppleness of the skin. It also means that as you sweat more, your body has to work harder to cater for these changes and therefore increasing cardiovascular and respiratory function, thus maintaining a healthy body weight that can tend to increase during this time of year.

Seasonal affective disorder – elevate the mood
The pineal gland in the brain produces a hormone called melatonin, responsible for balancing the sleep/wake cycles during seasonal changes and stimulated by darkness, and may lead to a condition known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD). This condition is also known as the winter blues and carries symptoms specific to winter, such as low mood, tiredness not alleviated by rest, need for more sleep, low energy and a significantly increased appetite. SAD has been directly linked with a deficiency of melatonin due to the increased dim light during the winter months. An effective way that yoga may help to alleviate these symptoms is to incorporate the practice of surya namaskar (sun salutations) variations into your morning practice; not only will they build heat and increase cardiorespiratory integrity, they will also elevate the mood, provide a greater feeling of energy and endurance as well as contribute to rebalancing the circadian rhythms.

Yoga, stress and immunity
Research consistently identifies exactly how chronic stress contributes significantly to disease. During times of stress, the hypothalamus (the master gland of the endocrine system) releases a stress hormone known as cortisol, responsible for both alerting the body during stressful situations and regulating the immune system. High levels of cortisol present in the blood over a prolonged period of time suppress the immune system, thereby compromising the body’s natural ability to ward off disease.

Although a strong, heated vinyasa practice is an essential part of the limbering process and a crucial part of working synergistically with the systems of the body during winter, it is also important to recognise that the slower, more relaxing aspect of yoga supports immunity, particularly where high levels of stress are a factor in day-to-day life. When the nervous system is relaxed, the immune system has a greater chance of attacking bacteria and viruses.

Yoga postures, such as forward bends and inversions, practised in a supported and relaxed way aim to relax the nervous system through the parasympathetic nervous system (rest, relax, digest) and boost the body’s innate ability to heal itself through the immune response.

Conversely, heated back bends such as setu bandha sarvangasana (supported bridge pose), bhujangasana (cobra pose), urdhva dhanurasana (upward bow pose) and salabhasana (locust pose) all aim to compress the thymus gland, an essential part of the endocrine system that produces T-lymphocytes (white blood cells) – an integral part of immune defence.

The spleen is also activated during asana practice; it is located in the upper left part of the abdomen, between the stomach and the diaphragm, and its main function is to filter red blood cells and fight off infection. Almost all asana massage the spleen in some way; purely because of its location, however, spine twists (left side), forward bends, lateral flexion (left side), back bends and inversions have a therapeutic action, thus increasing blood supply to the spleen as well as increasing its overall function.

It is evident here that a balance between a strong, heating asana practice followed by a gentle, more restorative closing sequence incorporating pranayama practices ensures integrity of the systems of the body, working synergistically during winter. Nothing will ever replace our own inner barometer of health, and through the practice of yoga – as our awareness of this ever-changing, ever-evolving body deepens – we can become empowered to make the lifestyle and nutritional changes and commitment to our practice and provide the body the space to heal itself and maintain health – because, after all, yoga practice is one of the best preventative medicines you could ask for.

Namaste,

Kailash helped me break eggshells

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‘Kailash Walking on eggshells’

I love getting creative with the photos for my monthly newsletter. This month I saved eggshells for the photo Autumn can bring with it instability and the feeling as though you are walking on egg shells. Kailash started walking a month ago and helped me crush the eggshells!

Namaste,

Stop walking on eggshells

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To my dear friends on the path,

I love Autumn. The leaves changing colour, the waves getting bigger, winds stronger, it truly is the season of transformation. As wonderful as this is, this time of year can bring with it the feeling of restlessness and indecisiveness.

According to Ayurveda (sister of yoga), the Vata dosha is most prevailing in autumn. Vata qualities are dynamic, dry, cold, light, irregular and changing, which can bring with it instability and the feeling as though you are walking on egg shells.

To counterbalance the dominating Vata energy in nature we can use yoga, routines and nutritional choices to regain our inner harmony. Check out my latest newsletter for some of my suggestions for this season.

Namaste,

 

 

Walking on Eggshells Experiment

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‘Walking on Eggshells’

Can you walk across eggs without cracking them?

The phrase “walking on eggshells” is an idiom that is often used to describe a situation in which people must tread lightly around a sensitive topic for fear of offending someone or creating a volatile situation. Literally walking on eggshells would require exceptional caution, incredible skill, and a sense of self-control that would be nothing short of amazing. Wait just a second . . . what if eggs were really much stronger than most of us imagine? What if nature’s design of the incredible edible egg was so perfect that the thin, white outer coating of an egg was strong enough to withstand the weight of your body? Wake the kids! Phone the neighbors! It’s time for the Walking on Eggshells challenge.
Give it a go!

Namaste,

Why I taught yoga on my 30th Birthday

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As you know I love yoga. It's my passion, devotion, in essence, my life. Yoga brings me great joy and connects me to my Truth. If I could do anything I wanted on my birthday it would be yoga, so of course I ran a half day yoga retreat!

I was fortunate to be surrounded by 24 students, many I would call dear friends, all ages and stages in their practice.

My birthday, being on the 20th of March, is the last day in the zodiac calendar (ending of Pisces, beginning of Aries). Astrological, this day marks the ending of a cycle before embarking on a new one. Funnily enough, I think this is why I have spent all my life wanting to feel whole and complete. For many years I searched for that through food, drugs, alcohol, people, money, you name it ... anything outside of me to fill within me, until I finally learnt that nothing external will give lasting internal fullness. Hence, again, yoga, being the answer.

This year, the 20th of March also fell on the Autumn Equinox. The equinox is traditionally known as a point of union and balance between the Light and the Dark, Fire and Water and between the Yang and the Yin. It is a reminder to get a little closer to the core of life, balancing all parts of ourselves, the active and the passive, the known and the unknown, the outer journey and the inner journey.

On the retreat as well as practicing balance (on all levels), we looked at embracing the season as a time to let go of what no longer serves so one can nurture what does. Just as the trees begin to shed their leaves, to maintain warmth for their roots, we explored and released that which has come to it’s fruition so we can cultivate our hearts desire and the teacher within.

Words cannot express my sincere gratitude to all who joined me for my 30th. I'm excited to see how the next 30 years unfold!

Namaste,

 

 

Embrace Awkwardness

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‘Embrace Awkwardness’

Great short click on embracing awkwardness. Some of my favourite lines are -
"I am awkward."
"The truth is there is a stigma around awkwardness. We avoid it, we counteract it. It challenges what we see to be acceptable. But it’s one of the most human conditions; awkwardness tells us that we are human."
"It is our true self showing through when we don’t mean to—on the other side of awkwardness is connection."
"On the other side of awkward is awesome!"

I hope you enjoy it.

Namaste,

All it takes is 10 mindful minutes

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‘All it takes is 10 mindful minutes’

When is the last time you did absolutely nothing for 10 whole minutes? Not texting, talking or even thinking? Mindfulness expert Andy Puddicombe describes the transformative power of doing just that: Refreshing your mind for 10 minutes a day, simply by being mindful and experiencing the present moment. (No need for incense or sitting in strange positions.) I hope you enjoy it.

Namaste,

Four practical ways to make space for rest. 

1. Give yourself a 24-hour break from talking.

With so much collective wounding in people—around holding back, not taking up enough space or playing small there, is an insurgence of self-expression occurring for many of us, myself included! We live in a day and age where there are infinite platforms and channels through which to write, speak, make videos and share our thoughts, feelings and experiences.

This is beautiful and I am in full support, yet no one is designed to produce indefinitely.

Many spiritual traditions, including yoga, honor and recognize the important role of silence for preserving creativity, increasing consciousness and restoring balance.

Commit to a 24-hour period without talking.

Depending on your work situation and/or if you are a parent, it may definitely require a bit of extra planning or you many only get a few hours, but either way, take the time, you will be amazed at what you find in the silence.

2. Take a full day off and spend it being.putting-feet-up-rest

So often, when we have a vacation or a break from work, the mind immediately starts crafting up brilliant plans for places we want to travel, things we want to get done, people we want to see and personal projects to knock of the to-do list.

While this is all wonderful and important, it keeps our bodies and our minds in a state of perpetual doing.

Operating at this pace keeps the softer, subtler and more intuitive parts of our awareness at bay and ultimately this limits our overall capacity as human beings.

Being is the key word here.

How can you set yourself up for being?

Perhaps it is sitting outside on the grass as you savor a delicious meal and watching the birds, or maybe it is lying down in bed and watching the trees outside the window. Whatever it is, I invite you to do less and to pay close attention to what emerges in your mind, body and soul.

3. Give yourself a tech detox.

I will be one of the first to raise my hand with gratitude, appreciation and love for my technology.

And yet, too much tech can quickly tip any one over the edge. There are an infinite number of apps, ideas, articles, websites and inspirations to plug into, yet constantly turning our attention outwards means that we are missing an entire universe of experience within ourselves.

The inner world is our most fertile soil. It is from here where all original insight arises. So, give yourself the gift of turning off the cell phone, closing the computer and attuning to your inner world. You will be amazed at the colorful and complex world that is waiting for you.

4. Notice the spaces between.

Commit to noticing the pauses before the actions for an entire day. Feel the gap before the key unlocks the door or starts the car. Feel the space before food enters your mouth or the stillness before your finger hits the computer key.

We go through thousands of tiny transitions each day, see if you can be more conscious of what is happening before each new action.

The symphony of life can easily create the illusion that something is only happening when the tempo is fast and the beats are audible. And yet, there would be no symphony without the silence, there would be no beauty to the sound without the gaps in between.

From the ripe and pregnant pause is the very origin point of life itself. From emptiness emerges form, from stillness arises inspiration and from the void brilliance ascends.

Unplug the phone, close the laptop, walk outside or find your way to the bed.

Namaste,

The Science of Happiness

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‘The Science of Happiness - If You're Happy and You Know It’

We've all heard it - the more successful you are, the happier you are. But what if it was the opposite? What if being happier, actually made you more successful? Very interesting and worth watching. I hope you enjoy it.

Namaste,

Yoga and Happiness

It is almost everyone’s dream to be healthy and happy. However very few people actually achieve this dream. The key to complete happiness is internal.

If you think you’re having a bad day try missing one!

We are living in a time where so much attention, energy, time, and money is invested into the total attention of disaster, war, misfortune, crime, and violence of one kind or another? The Media bombards us with all kinds of "baddies" and tensions and most people talk all day about them with their friends and colleges.

news_happiness

It seems that the majority of the population is intent on bombarding each other with bad news. It keeps the adrenaline going, and we do tend to confuse stress with aliveness.

Then one day you may ask yourself

"Am I happy, Doing what I’m doing?"

The simple fact of the matter is that if you have to actually stop and think about this question then the chances are very high that you are not!

You may be even have all the positions of the collective dream, and yet you may be still totally unfulfilled. Why? Most people don’t have an answer for their distress. So they go looking everywhere but inside themselves.

The more actively you seek out happiness,
the less likely you are to find it.

The reason for this is that all forms of seeking are an exercise of the ego, whereas true, permanent happiness is the unconditional inner self, which transcends the ego. Ego is external and true happiness is internal, it is a state of attitude.

To live in an attitude of gratitude.

You cannot become happy
you can only be happy.

Most people have experienced moments of joy or delight at one time or another in their lives. So you know what happiness feels like, that feeling when the whole body radiates with joyous energy and you feel like embracing everyone and everything.

In those precious moments, you are in touch with something more real than your ordinary external self.

The ego is temporarily suspended, and your consciousness and energy rise. You have an overwhelming feeling of happiness, total blissfulness, which has the devine quality of love. The opportunity to experience these feelings on a regular basis are available by choice and perspective. No one else but yourself can do this for you.

When you center yourself and you are totally present as the whole body, you can get in touch with the larger reality that is your internal self in which you are immersed. Then your energy starts to flow more freely, and you feel that deep sense of security, intuiting that true identity that is you untouched by any conflict or pain.

To be present as the body is a skill that can be learned through yoga, for yoga means "to union." Be presently happy rather than seek to become happy is an open option for anyone. We can either chose to lose ourselves in fear, anger, despair and all those other negative states, or you can chose to feel the total bliss that lies beyond them.

Happiness is your birthright, so claim it, be one of the people that decides to become all they can be, enjoy everyday, make the most out of life and live it don’t just exist within it.

Namaste,

New Year filled with Yoga

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‘New Year filled with Yoga’

In this video Kino shares some great ways on how you can embrace the New Year with Yoga. I hope you enjoy it.

Namaste,

Top 10 Resolutions

With the New Year fast approaching, and resolutions floating around, take a moment to clear the mind and focus on setting a new intention. New intentions allow for the setting of attainable and measurable goals, for the mind and body. Here are 5 simple steps that will take you into a happier and healthier New Year.

Make a List of intentions -not wants and needs 

“I desire to . . . Ask yourself are these focused, realistic, positive, and healthy intentions? Ask yourself what I am doing to align myself with these intentions?
Align Yourself with Positive Opportunities
Positive Opportunities allow you to move toward your intentions, goals, and passions. Spend time with positive people who share similar goals. Network in your community and allow yourself to open up to opportunities that facilitate your intentions.
Clear out the Old
Clear out old habits, behaviors, and patterns of thinking. This is a critical step in setting new intentions. The New Year is a perfect time to let go and declutter your life to facilitate change. What negative thoughts are you done with?  What patterns of thinking do you wish to stop? Think of this as streamlining your life, and keeping only what aligns with your intentions, goals, and passions. What environments or people are bogging you down or sucking your energy?
Express Gratitude
Gratitude is often left out of the process of goal setting. However, when you are setting an intention gratitude is a key component. Being kind, thankful, and appreciative, will allow you to move towards your intention.
Be Responsible
You are responsible for yourself and the energy you bring into any environment. Take accountability for yourself and your actions. Contemplate the areas that you do well and examine the areas of your life that you need to improve.

10 steps to relax over Christmas

1. Breathe
On average we breathe 23,040 a day, that equates to 16 breaths a minute. Rarely are we aware of any! Being fully present to your breath is a sure way to relax your mind and bring you out of the christmas chaos.

2. Spend Time in Naturesanta_claus_relaxing-e1323754742164
Even five minutes in nature can help reduce stress and boost your mood, helping you to relax.

3. Participate in Activities You Enjoy
Be sure to leave time for the holiday activities you love most, whether it’s caroling, decorating your Christmas tree, or writing holiday cards.

4. Stay Positive
Those who are optimistic have an easier time dealing with stress, and are more inclined to open themselves up for opportunities to have positive, regenerative experiences.

5. Take a Break or Meditate
Taking even 10 minutes to sit quietly and shut out the chaos around you can trigger your relaxation response. Meditating during your breaks can help you to decrease feelings of stress and anxiety even more.

6. Live in the Present
Turn off your racing mind and simply focus on only the task at hand. Avoid worrying about what you need to do later in the day or tomorrow (if you have trouble shutting out such thoughts, jot them down on a piece of paper to help clear your mind).

7. Nurture Yourself
Try massage, a hot bath, mini-relaxations, or a quick walk to ease tension. Be sure you’re eating right, sleeping well and laughing often.

8. Be Grateful
Focus on what you’re grateful for. Keep a gratitude journal and write down why you’re grateful each day. Focus on what you do have this holiday season instead of what you don’t.

9. Use Visualization
Close your eyes and imagine yourself relaxing on the beach or sitting in front of a cozy fireplace with your family. You can also visualize your “perfect” holiday, which is especially useful if you’re worrying over what might go wrong. (Although, you should let go of the idea that your holiday must be perfect in order to be enjoyable.)

10. Do YOGA!
Last but not least, roll out your mat and practice!

Bake Yourself Happy

dojosWhen I first arrived in Braidwood I began working at Dojo's, a beautiful sourdough bakery. The aroma, warmth and comfort that fresh wholesome bread radiates is divine! Today I feel grateful to enjoy bread, or just food in general, without the attachments and drama.

For many years I used food to manage my emotions. Whether it was to cover, numb, avoid or escape, food gave a temporary relief from reality. It was a distraction from whatever was going on. I could easily become obsessed with intake, calories, diets, fads, exercise, purging, restricting, binging, you name it!

I was searching for something from the food. Happiness ... love ... connection.

Yoga teaches me that nothing external can fill that internal void. You can't 'bake yourself happy.' No amount of food, alcohol, drugs, money, possessions, approval or qualifications you have is ever enough to bring lasting contentment.

It is through feeling, living, experiencing and the embracing all aspects of life (good and bad), that brings the real joy. You are enough. You have enough. It is enough. Right here, right now, as you are.

Blessings for a fulfilled month of festivities. Connecting to the inner Light and the true happiness within.

Namaste,

Yoga’s Ten Commandments for Happiness

The Yoga Sutras is a key yoga text, written in the 2nd century BC by a sage called Patanjali. It’s the corner stone of modern yoga, but it’s far from being a ‘how to’ manual for doing yoga poses. In fact, Patanjali only gives one instruction for how to do the kind of yoga that we 21st century students practice on our sticky mats (he says we need to have a balance of strength and softness in our poses, being neither too forceful nor too cruisey). What the Yoga Sutras is really about is happiness. In fact, it’s kind of an ancient handbook for happiness.

I’ve been studying these sutras for many years now and I’m constantly amazed by how effective they are at providing practical tools for living a happy, contented life. There’s a common theme running through all of them: Be good to yourself, do good for others. I’ve adapted that into the personal mantra: “What can I learn and how can I help?”

Like all good ideas, Patanjali’s wisdom has to be put into practice before it gets you anywhere. So, in my life and classes I am practicing Patanjali’s “10 Commandments.” Here they are simplified -

1. Be considerate
2. Communicate honestly and kindlyYoga-happiness-inside
3. Stop wishing you had what other people have
4. Moderation
5. Don’t be greedy
6. Be clean and tidy
7. Be content
8. Make the effort
9. Never stop learning
10. Let go
Namaste,

The problem with patience

adoptHave you ever encountered a situation in your life where you wanted things to move just a little bit faster? Recently I've noticed that even though I believe and see wisdom in the sayings - "Patience is a virtue." and “All good things come to those who wait." when push comes to shove (i.e. daily life and building a house) these ideas go right out the window!

In our fast-paced society it is easy to turn being productive and efficient into living in a constant rush and needing it all NOW! Results are demands and often met STRAIGHT AWAY - think credit cards, 12 months interest free, instant music & movie downloads, drive through take-away, microwaves, pre-mixed drinks .. the list goes on.

We are impatient generally because we are thinking about the future, expecting something or wanting something to happen exactly in the way we would like it. Longing for this imagined future actually robs us of time.

In contrast patience requires that we stay in the present moment, that we fully experience the ‘right now’. It gives us the gift of time & experience. it lets us taste all the moments of life whether humdrum or extraordinary.

For this month, day and very second, I wish you experience what is, to fully embrace this moment. Know there is no where to 'get,' one will never arrive.' The destination isn't somewhere else, it's here, right now. When we understand this we start to see patience as more than just a virtue, it’s a blessing.

Namaste,

Yoga for Patience

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‘Yoga for Patience’

The second attitude that Jon Kabbit Zin recommends we bring to mindfulness is patience. He states that, "Patience is a form of wisdom, it demonstrates that we understand and accept the fact that sometimes things must unfold in their own time." In our yoga practice we can practice patience towards our own bodies and our own minds. We can accept our body as it is in this moment and practice patience for its unfolding in its own time. Edward Bulwer Lytton says that "Patience is not passive, on the contrary, it is active, it is concentrated strength." In today's yoga practice we will engage this concentrated strength as we direct our patience towards the active unfolding of our hip and hamstring muscles.
Enjoy!

Namaste,

The Farm Yogini

Last month I moved to our 20 acre farm; began living in an abode the size of my old bedroom; started cooking, showering and going to the toilet outside in rain, hail and shine; and traded my lululemon pants for an akubra hat, overalls and bunstones. My new title - Christina the farm yogini! dee943d8-7ce7-4d48-bc05-4330ce31b521

All laughs aside, this month I have been focusing on Osho's famous quote - “Yoga means to encounter the reality as it is.”

It has been challenging to let go of the past. Moving away from family, friends, students, not to mention home comforts. My mind has dappled in the desired to cling to what was familiar and there's been moments where I have thought this is all too much.

On the other spectrum I've noticed myself dreaming about the future. 'It will be great when ...' when the house gets started, when we have running water, when the toilet is undercover, etc.

Living in both the past and future deprives me of what is. What is right now. The moment I actually have. Coming back to the quote - “Yoga means to encounter the reality as it is.”

Instead of turning to the past, or turning to the future, one can turn inwards. Inwards to the Truth. The Truth can only be found in the now and it's yoga that gives this gift. The gift of presence and Reality.

For this month, day and very second, I wish you experience what is, fully embraced by Reality, Truth and Yoga.

Namaste,

Infuse your life with more health and well-being

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‘Infuse your life with more health and well-being’

 

‘Infuse your life with more health and well-being’

More energy, greater focus, increased productivity, heightened creativity … now who wanted want this?! But where does one start and how can one stay motivated and dedicated in their practice? In this empowering interview Kishan shares how!

How you can overcome many of the obstacles to a home yoga practice and infuse your life with more health and well-being.

Delve into some of the metaphysical yogic practices, bring practical meaning to abstract symbolism, reroute old neural pathways and create a sacred space you'll adore!
Enjoy!

Namaste,

‘Why a home yoga practice? – It’s your way of saying Thank You to yourself!’

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‘Why a home yoga practice? - It’s your way of saying Thank You to yourself!’

 

‘Why a home yoga practice? - It’s your way of saying Thank You to yourself!’

In this uplifting interview, Bettina shares how you can dedicate the time and space to give back to you. Why? Because you deserve it!

Let go of the expectations, the guilt, the restrictions … all the barriers that stand in your way and radiate that love for yourself to positively influence the world around you.

Enjoy!

Namaste,

‘When you get the melon right, the body follows!’

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‘When you get the melon right, the body follows!’

 

When you get the melon (mind) right, the body follows!

In today’s modern world, our mind gets so busy. Stillness, quietness, mindfulness … can seem near impossible to achieve, but they can be your reality and in this inspiring interview, Masha tells us how!

Simply by showing up, taking the time and being quiet, magic happens. Magically the mind begins to settle, prana increases in flow and the innate healing power within, unfolds.

Learn how you can reconnect, tune in and meditate in just minutes – now everyone can do that!

Enjoy!

Namaste,

Embracing change

changeLike most people, I can find transitions and change challenging. Saying goodbye to a loved one. Moving to a new city. Quitting a job. Even when we look forward new opportunities, that awkward in between, when we’re still adjusting and trying to find our way, can be tough. Let’s just say there’s a reason the caterpillar’s transition into beautiful butterfly happens behind closed doors.

So how can we slow down, embrace , and welcome transition? By using yoga of course!

Yoga teaches us to be present.
Often with change, we’re thinking about the way things used to be and perhaps worrying about the future implications of the change that’s about to happen. In yoga, our intention is on the right now — what do I feel in this pose, how’s my breath, what’s going on right now…we can take this off the yoga mat by checking in with our reaction to the change…how do I feel about it today? What’s happening today (right now) that I must respond to or address?

Yoga helps us to be more aware.
In beginning to settle around what might be a huge change for my life, I’ve become more aware at how I’m interacting with this potential change. At first, even the mention of it, caused my breathing to become short and my heart to beat faster. After a few months of reflection, prayer and thought, it feels better…while I’m still not rejoicing over this change, I’m more at peace with it…We’ve developed a mutual respect for each other – my big change and me — and I’m thankful that through my yoga practice I’m able to recognize the progress of this. Yoga teaches us to be aware of how our body is feeling but also aware of our thoughts…when we can observe our thoughts and really take a good look at them, we are better able recognize the ones that keep repeating bad habits or the ones that don’t do us any good….

Yoga helps us de-stress.
Change is stressful…even good change like new babies, new jobs, new relationships. A regular yoga practice helps to calm the nervous system; it lowers cortisol levels and improves/deepens our breathing. The physicality of yoga helps us get out of our head (the constant re-thinking or mulling about the change) and present in the body with our breath. Coming back to your yoga mat during a difficult period when you feel that everything is in flux can be comforting, soothing and reassuring…that some things still remain. That you are still You…one breath at a time.

Namaste,

It’s the season!

The season of new beginnings is upon us and regardless of which hemisphere you live, nature is reflecting the process of transformation..

abode

Just as the everything around us is changing, now is a powerful to align and embrace change within.

As you know, big changes are occurring in my life - next week I'm shifting out of my comfort zone and moving beyond many limitations of my mind. I'm embarking on a new chapter, one that will challenge me and initiate growth.

John, Kailash and I are moving to a relative rural area, we won't be connected to water, electricity, internet, we have no job lined up and will be living in a house the size of our last bedroom!

Am I scared? Yes. Do I have doubts? Absolutely. Am I sad to leave my family and so many heart-felt connections? Totally. Are these fears and feelings going to stop me from following my dreams? No way!

Change is inevitable. And in all honesty, the only thing that doesn't change is change itself! Embracing change, big and small, willingly and unwittingly - it's not always easy. Whether you are welcoming change or struggling to deal with it, yoga can help.

Click here to find out how you can embrace and welcome transition through yoga.

Namaste,

Yoga Prank

'Yoga Prank'

 

Imagine that you’re in the middle of a great yoga lesson. Your week has been hectic, you’re worried about the car, your job has been boring for the past couple of months, and things just don’t seem to be going right.

So this yoga lesson, this class was the one thing you were really looking forward to all week, you just wanted a couple of minutes to yourself to clear your mind, stretch out your sore muscles, and listen to the soothing voice of your instructor.

You find yourself breathing in and out, eyes closed, you’ve finally found a peaceful place in your mind. You stretch up to the sky and then slowly bend into a downward dog position. At that moment, you hear a large crunch. You figure the sound is nothing and take another clear breath in. Then you hear another crunch.

You open your eyes and there he is, some man eating out of a stolen can of Pringles, and just when you thought things couldn’t get any worse: they do.

It turns out he’s with his wife, and the class gets weirder and weirder. He begins to make loud noises, steals from more people, eats in class, attempts to teach the class yoga, and finally…at the 7:11 mark, he does the unthinkable.

What would you do if you saw someone doing this in one of your classes? This is just too crazy!

Enjoy!

Namaste,

Stripping to find myself

Step away from everything that is familiar to you like your job, friends and family. Then take yourself out of range of all the electronic noise from computers, mobile phones and the television. Now tell me this: When it is just you standing alone in the quiet of total solitude, who are you?

stripped

A few weeks ago I asked myself this question and realised how attached I am to who I am trying to be. I have shared previously how I sometimes wish I was 'wonder woman,' the desire to be everything for everyone commonly arises. I want to be the best mum, partner, daughter, teacher, colleague … you name it. Why? Because I think that's what makes me me.

This all came about when I had my car stripped of all it's stickers. I had originally branded my car for advertising, establishing my business and to show the world that I am serious about teaching yoga. I had heard to many times that such and such had done a 4 week course and become a yoga teacher only to end up having to quit because it wasn't financially viable. So when I decided that I was going to give teaching yoga my all, I really wanted to give it my all and to be taken seriously.

It was only when I removed the logos from my car that I realised how attached to them and my image, I had become. In a way, I had lost myself.

The phrase “find myself” gets over 5 million searches per month in Google. That shows how common it is for people to feel disconnected from their true self and how interested they are in reestablishing that long lost connection.

I know that I am not my car, I am not my business or the roles I play. Just as you too are not the work you do, the things you accomplish or the image you portray.

It is yoga that reminds us of this. It is yoga that revels our deeply held values, passions, beliefs, and response patterns. It's through the continuous self-inquiry that one discovers the WHY behind thoughts and actions and through this process we shed the layers and peel back to the core of our Inner Self.

For today, make at least 2 minutes to connect. I'm just asking 2 minutes out of the 1,440 minutes in the day. Close your eyes, notice your breath and soften into your being. As you are, nothing to do, no-one to please, no expectation to be met, nowhere else to be,nothing to fear, or achieve. Just be as you are. Prioritise this connection to you. Why? Because it is through knowing who we are that we settle into the deep contentment and fulfillment of being whole and complete.

Namaste,

Is yoga everyday possible?

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'Is yoga everyday possible?'

It sure is! No matter how long your to-do list, no matter how much you work, how many kids you have, or how messy your house is ... practicing yoga everyday is absolutely possible!

In this month's newsletter, blog posts, yoga retreat, online course and on the Satya Live Yoga Facebook Page, I am going to tell you how.

How you can incorporate yoga into your daily life so you can receive the bountiful benefits yoga everyday!

Namaste,

Peaceful Life

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'How to live a more peaceful life, through the spirit of yoga.'

Connect with Kino

kinoyoga.com/

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OM shanti, shanti, shanti. We can chant 'shanti' in our practice but finding that 'peace' in a world of chaos can be a real struggle. In this interview Kino shares with us how she turned to the path of Ashtanga Yoga as a genuine yearning to experience a true state of deep peace and how commitment to practice is the answer to a more peaceful life. Learn the 3 most important actions steps to make a home yoga practice work for you and how steady practice over time will give profound results. Find your discipline, dedication and commitment to embody the whole message and spiritual journey of yoga.

Enjoy!

Namaste,

Let’s Get Stoned!

Last week I said to John “let's get stoned!” He asked me in a joking way if I was serious. “Yes,” I said, “let's get stoned.”

I just wanted to escape, to numb, to loose all my responsibilities - even if it was for a minute. The excitement of getting high and altering my state of consciousness without effort was so appealing. I had gone into the 'stuff it' attitude and wanted out of reality.

I looked at Kailash and then sensibility hit. Marijuana effects breast milk and to think that my actions would impede Kailash and perhaps his brain development was more than enough to bring me to my senses.thumb

For as long as I can remember I have always been drawn to things that distract and exhilarate me. The euphoric feeling of sweet chocolate hitting my lips, getting tipsy downing cowboy shots, spaced out watching TV, impulsive shopping, smoking, adrenalin rushes … you name it, anything that gives a bit of a buzz, just like a moth to bright light, I can be seduced by it.

Too much of one thing is never good. When it comes to 'good' things I don't seem to have an off switch. Once I start with a substance or behaviour that elevates my state of being I want more and more and more.

This got me in to trouble when I was younger, so much so, in my teens I recognised these destructive tendencies were tearing my life apart. I was bought to my knees and joined Alcoholics Anonymous and Overeaters Anonymous. These Twelve Step fellowships along with yoga have been an integral part of my life for over a decade.

Today I am blessed with freedom from addiction and more often than not, when I find myself mesmerised by something out of myself I get suspicious. It's easy to give away ones power. And being lured by the idea that I may get enjoyment out of smoking a joint screams alarm bells in my head.

So whats behind all thiminds? The truth of the matter is, sometimes life feels overwhelming. Sometimes living in the present and trying to be aware of all my thoughts and actions gets all too much. Constantly I'm working to improve my attitude, my beliefs and approach. Whilst this is truly a wonderful way to be and I wouldn't change it even if I could, the fantasy idea of zoning out and having a holiday from myself is enticing.

From experience I've learnt, no matter how tempting it may be to use a substance or behavour to avoid and escape life, it never works. In fact by having the awareness of these tendencies and then acting out in them, only brings suffering. Putting my head in the sand and running away from life is not the person I want to be today. No joint, martini, chocolate bar, or new dress can give the deep sense of self-worth and contentment I crave.

So what works? Firstly acknowledgement, then acceptance and finally action.

Acknowledging my thoughts and feelings without judgement and labelling as right and wrong gives me the starting point. How can one change and grow if one doesn't even know what's going on and where they actually are? Simply observing and assessing in an uncensored way can be a challenge, but much freedom and self-discovery comes from it.
The next step is acceptance. What I resist, persists. I will never find ease within if I am fighting the mind. Allowing and giving permission to be as I am automatically brings peace. Accepting that this is where I am at right now doesn't mean I have to like it, or I have to stay here, it simply provides the space to be. In this space comes the power.

The final step is action. What action can I take towards being the person I choose to be today. I love this step. It's exciting and empowering. To know YOU have a choice. YOU have the power. YOU can be however YOU choose to be. Wow, what more can I say.Magnet_empowered

For me, when I'm in a space of wanting to escape it can be helpful to do something that shocks me back to reality. Having a cold (or best I say coldish) shower works a treat. Breath awareness and various pranayama practices are my number one tool to get me out of my head and yoga nidra always relaxes my nervous system and alters my state of consciousness in a healthy way.

So there you have it. I was a little hesitant to write about this as my ego would love me to be beyond wanting to numb and avoid but I am just a human being, being the best person I can be today. I wish you an empowered day, a day of choice, being the person YOU choose to be.

Namaste,

Colour Therapy

Colour Therapy

Have you ever wondered why you chose to wear the green sweater today and not the red? Or have you walked into someone's house which is decorated in blue and felt more relaxed and peaceful than a house painted in yellow or orange colors? The theories of color therapy provide an explanation: colors affect your moods, personality, feelings and your physical energy. Each colour of the rainbow connects to your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well being. Angela gives a great overview on colour and why it’s considered “Food for the Soul”.
The second half of the interview is extremely interesting with Dr. Mostovoy and Laurie-Ann Whitnall discussing thermography. A new technology fantastic for showing imbalances in the physical body.
Enjoy!
Namaste

The power of colour

What is Colour?abstract-rainbow-colors
Energy is the vital force of life. It is the source of every existing thing. It is a natural force of the Universe, which permeates everything from the smallest atoms and molecules to the largest planets and stars. It has the capacity of a system to do work, the ability to change things, and can be converted from one form to another.

Colour is simply light which is made up of different wavelengths and frequencies, together forming the electro-magnetic spectrum, which is energy that is visible to the human eye. Colour Therapy uses this visible spectrum of light and the colour's energies contained within.

The power of Colour ...

Each colour has its own particular vibrational wavelength and frequency, with red having the longest wavelength and slowest vibration, and violet having the shortest wavelength and highest vibration.

The seven colours of the spectrum resonate to that of the seven major Chakras or energy centres of the human body. It is a well know scientific fact that everything has a vibration, so if your vibrations are off-kilter, specific colours are used to treat afflicted parts of your body in order to heal, harmonise and rebalance.

The underlying principle of Colour Therapy is that every cell and organ in the body vibrates at a particular frequency, as do colours. By exposing light and colour to parts of the body, Chakra points or site of injury, one can bring about physical and emotional changes. The therapeutic energy of the colours can be absorbed through the skin, the body, sight and visualisation/through the mind. The attributes and qualities of each colour cause a shift in energy and this aids in restoring the body to good health and therefore alters our state of imbalance.

When we suffer from a disease or disorder, or simply feel 'off colour', it is indicative that parts of our body are not functioning at their proper frequencies - This implies a Chakra is imbalanced or has been blocked. An unhealthy body gives out a distorted and disturbed pattern of vibrations thus displaying a state of energy imbalance.

We need a balance of tchakrahe energy from the seven spectrum colours, so that the colour vibrations can nourish the physical cells and organs and influence our emotional, mental and nervous activity as well as our spiritual well-being. Colours will affect our moods. Some will be uplifting and inspiring while others depressing. Our feelings and emotions are directly affected by the balance or imbalance of hormones in our body.

To find out more join the this month's yoga retreat 'Colour Your Yoga,' at hummingbird!

Namaste

What’s wrong with school lunches

What's wrong with school lunches

Last week I saw a toddler in a pram drinking a bottle of coke. This raised my eyebrows! Whilst I'm not in any position to judge 'good' or 'bad,' 'right' or 'wrong,' it did make me wonder how I'm choosing to raise my little one. Kailash is five months old and has begun eating solids, already the debate, organic, bio/dynamic, locally grown, ethically produced etc. has filled my mind. Where does one draw the line? How does one find the middle path?

 

I came across this interesting Ted talk with Ann Cooper. In this inspiring discussion recorded in 2007, Ann talks about the coming revolution in the way kids eat at school — local, sustainable, seasonal and even educational food.

Enjoy!
Namaste

Plan Your Practice

Empower header

'The science of sequencing'

Helpful Template from Alison

Plan your practice

When people get on the mat, the biggest problem is working out what to do!

In this powerful call, Alison Smith shares her wisdom on how to plan a home yoga practice, so you will know what to do when you get on the mat. Learn how to put the postures together in a safe, effective and inspiring way, so that you can practice with more confidence and clarity.

Enjoy!

Namaste,

A month of self-worth

Each month I explore a different topic in my yoga classes, on the Satya Live Yoga facebook page and in the monthly retreat. For the month of May the topic was self-care/self-worth.worthy

Practicing what I preach, everyday I have stood in front of the mirror (usually in my pjs, like so), put my hand on manipura chakra, the solar plexus, energy center for self-worth and repeated three times out aloud -

'I am worthy, I deserve, I love and approve of myself.'

Then -

'I take care of my needs so I can then take care of the needs of others.'

To begin with, I felt somewhat uncomfortable. I read the words off a blu-tacked sheet of paper that I stuck on the mirror and sounded quite silly (I'm sure my partner would agree)! Regardless of these feelings and thoughts I had about myself or about what I thought others would think of me, I persisted and each day I continued with the practice.

To begin with I would gaze into my eyes and say these words as thoughts of disbelief and criticism entered my mind. 'You need to exercise more, look at the bags under your eyes, you don't have time to do a yoga nidra today.' How cunning, powerful and baffling the mind can be. Sometimes I would get entangled in the thoughts but more often than not, as I practiced, I could distance myself and see the thoughts for what they are - fluctuations of the mind.

Without pushing the thoughts away or pretending that they're not there, I acknowledged them and continued to repeat my affirmations. What I noticed after a week of practice was the old tapes and limiting beliefs of the mind began to lessen. The power of my dis-serving thoughts started to loose their grip. After two weeks of practice I really believed what I was saying and after three weeks these affirmations were Truth. Rather than a mere idea, or words on paper spoken out aloud, these beliefs emanate from within. When I say them I feel my body respond. As though my cells rejoice and my heart sing with joy. It feels good, really good.

This practice has left the bathroom mirror and I now find myself repeating these affirmations throughout the day and when my mind tells me otherwise.

I have been telling myself 'I love myself' when I open the wardrobe and see my jeans that don't fit and saying 'I approve of myself' when I'm seeking validation from another.

To me, this is really what yoga is all about. Connecting to Truth.

By no means is my life a bunch of roses, and I may always have thoughts that judge, criticize and condemn, but today, I can say with confidence and conviction, I am on the path to Knowing Thy Self.

 

I wholeheartedly recommend you give this practice a go. Even if, like me, you think it may be silly, not for you, or even a waste of time. Go beyond the monkey mind and be empowered in getting yourself, your True Self!

Namaste

Be honest and be real

Empower header

'Be honest and be real'

Managing and creating realistic expectations is a must for a successful home yoga practice.

We have to 'be honest and be real' in our approach, establishing a practice that supports us in our life and our current circumstances.

In this powerful interview David shares he's wisdom on how to set practical goals and provide tangible actions, so that you can make home yoga practice a cornerstone in your day, today.

Namaste,

Self Care Plan

The more we love, nurture, and support ourselves, the happier we are and the more health we exude. Through self-care, not only to we ourselves benefit, we the world around us does too. Self-care helps us to feel balanced and strong, and we can then radiate that health out to others and support them on their journey toward balance and a healthy spirit.

Below is a blank slef-care plan for you to plan out your own self-care! Print it out, or use a graphics program to fill it out. When you’re finished, remember to look at it from time to time to remind yourself to take care of you!
self_care_plan_blank

Everyone is a Mother

Everyone is a Mother

Mothers Day is celebrated all around the world but what is the meaning behind it? How did it come about and how can you use your yoga practice to connect to the essence of motherhood?
Watch to find out!
Celebrate YOU!
Namaste

Lessons from a psych ward

Each week I teach three classes in a psych ward. To be honest it feels like a real honor to have this privileged. The patients are filled with gratitude and almost always leave feeling so much better. To be able to brighten ones day brings me such joy and a real sense of purposefulness.

In saying this, it's not always easy. My dad has had a mental illness since my early years, sometimes I wonder if my birth was the cause, but regardless of what triggered it, it's out of my hands. Stories of he's nervous breakdown and admission into hospital brings me sadness. The heartache and pain my mum went through 25 years ago watching him in a padded room and hearing screams from patients down the hall who didn't want to have ECT (electroconvulsive therapy), gives me such an appreciation for my parents and where they've come from.

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Many of the patients at the hospital I teach at are perfectly normal, functioning members of society with jobs, families, friends and a positive future, they just needed a little extra help and a safe, relaxing place to recuperate from their problems.

Problems, something everyone can relate to, obviously there are varying degrees. When I first started teaching there, some years ago, I would drive home in tears. I hadn't learnt how to detach. I could feel the pain, heartache and problems that some were experiencing and I took it on as though it was my own. It was like I identified with the anguish and sorrow that I saw behind glazed eyes and internalised it. Seeing the mental hardship of others provoked mental hardship in myself.

When I realised what was happening I saw that I needed to detach, yet I had fear around this. Detachment to me had meant to cut off and be cold or distant. Yet through self-exploration I learnt that true emotional and mental detachment is not a state of indifference, apathy or lack of energy. One can be loving, happy, helpful and energetic, and at the same time be detached. Detached from worries, fears, negative emotions and taking on board feelings of others.

True detachment manifests as the ability to think clearly, stay balanced, and not get agitated in response to those around you. Practicing it is a life long journey, one that I endeavor to develop each day.

For me, learning the art of detachment is the corner stone of self-care. It is through yoga I learn to observe my state of mind and to connect to the calmness and tranquility within regardless of my external circumstances.

For today, create healthy boundaries, prioritise self-care and remember to breathe!

Namaste

New MacDonald

New MacDonald

In a playful way, this video turns the spotlight on the true costs of conventional farming and the harm it does to environmental health.  Watch as these kids show what makes organic farming the choice for the future in a surprising twist on a classic children’s song.

A bit of background on the video -
In an effort to bring attention to the increase in genetically modified foods grown on farms and the pesticides used to keep them growing, cause group Only Organic, which represents organic food makers and retailers as well as ordinary citizens, launched an awareness campaign based on a mashup of the classic “Old MacDonald Had A Farm” song. Tennessee-based agency Humanaut worked with the group on the effort.

The campaign kicked off with a video in which a group of kids begin performing the song only to then change it up and sing about “a hormone here, a hormone there.” Cue shots of faux, freaked-out parents in the audience. The song goes on to encompass crop spraying, tightly caged chickens and other forms of “bad” farming.

The scene then goes dark, and a lone girl begins singing “New MacDonald Had A Farm.” She’s then joined by other kids who sing about freely roaming animals in open space pastures, chemical-free crops, uncaged chickens and no GMOs. Again, cue shots of faux, delighted parents in the audience.

 

Enjoy!
Namaste

How I Live my Yoga

“Whaa, whaa whaa.” Really?! I ask myself. It's 3.25am and I am getting up for the third time this evening! I feed, change and burp the little one then sit on the couch attempting to soothe Kailash into a peaceful baby slumber before my head explodes!

My eyes are protruding out of of their sockets, I have a cold sore, throbbing headache, it feels like there are daggers in my throat, slimy drool is running down my back, a big wet patch of baby spew covers the sleeve of my pj's, not to mention the overflowing bucket of dirty nappies and my to-do list, pages long!222

The thought 'maybe I'm not cut out for this whole baby thing,' enters my mind. 'This is all to hard, I have it so bad, why won't he sleep, how will I function in the morning, I'm not coping …' My mind is filled with thoughts yet the thoughts are entering and exiting without being all encompassing. There is distance, space and some sense of ease amidst the chaos of my mind.

I know that this challenging time will pass, just like everything in life. One moment moving into the next, constantly changing, flowing.

Still rocking Kailash, he begins to cry. I notice my heart rate and pulse instantly affected. I consciously slow my breath to calm my nervous system and like magic, I feel my body relax. He passes wind then is out like a light. A sigh of relief, I put him in his cot and slide into bed.

After a few more hours sleep, daylight breaks and our backyard chooks start clucking. Before getting out of bed, I repeat my sankalpa (positive affirmation), which puts in me good stead. I get up, feed the chooks and do some awakening yoga poses to release my stiffened neck and tired shoulders.

After a few minutes of Abhyanga - ayurvedic oil massage – and a warm shower, I use my tongue scrapper and practice neti.

Kailash is awake, I go to change his nappy and there is poo just about everywhere! I start to wipe him with a damp cloth and this immediately sets off the fire hydrant (so to speak). Pee squirts over me, the wall and carpet! How does such a little being make such a big mess?

Needing to leave the house by 7.30am to drop him off at my mums so I can teach two yoga classes at the hospital, I realise it's time to get moving! I feed him off one breast while expressing from the other. As I burp him, I steralise the breast pump and bottle, then eat my breakfast. After a quick tidy of the house, I pack his bag, click him in his car seat and set on my journey.

I turn the key and the car doesn't start. I try again. No luck. I want to kick and scream, 'why now? Why today? This shouldn't be happening!' Again my heart rate increases, I can feel the tension carrising ... a few conscious breaths gets me out of the car. I open the garage and find a battery charger. While hooking it up to the car, Kailash begins to cry. Thoughts fill my mind – 'could this get any worse?' What feels like slow motion, step by step, I pick him up, cuddle him close then clip on the leads to recharge the battery. He has an upset tummy and after some burping, my clean black top is now patterned with what looks like cottage cheese. Another change of clothing and some more washing to add to the pile.

Once the car is charged I put Kailash back in his seat, then restate my sankalapa. While driving I listen to my favourite kirtan and as I am singing along I realise this is how I live my yoga.

Yoga for me is not about how to make difficult poses look easy, or knowing every sanskrit term, it's about applying the practices of yoga in every moment - no matter what challenges arise.

There will always be ups and downs, highs and lows, good and bad. Yoga isn't about suppressing, numbing or putting a smile on one's face and being oh so spiritual! Acknowledging feelings, standing up for beliefs, being honest, integral, connected and present – actually present, living LIFE. To me this is yoga.

It is this type of yoga that brings union. It will enhance your life. It will enrich your relationships. It will give inner peace and happiness and I can say this with full confidence as I know it to be True.

To help you apply the practice of yoga on and off the mat, I have joined with Kara-Leah Grant to create the 'How to Live Your Yoga and Rock Your Life' webinar series. So you can truly Live Your Yoga and Rock Your Life! Join us.

I’m no wonder woman!

IMG_4932I want to be the best mother, partner, daughter, sister, entrepreneur, yoga teacher, business associate, cleaner, cook, gardener, waitress, facilitator, you name it ... I just want to be the best at everything!
The reality is I am just one being, doing the best I can. I make mistakes, I get it wrong, I stuff up and you know what? it's all okay. As I write that, part of me cringes. But why? Why can't it be perfect?
Living in the 'if only's,' trying to be perfect and putting unrealistic expectations on myself is not only energy draining, it's living in a world of fantasy.
I have this deep-rooted belief, samskara, that if I do it all 'right,' I'll be ok. If everyone around me is happy, then I am doing my job. Job? My job as a peacemaking wonder woman. Saying this sounds silly, but it's what, for so many years, I have unconsciously strived for.
Firstly I cannot control the emotions, thoughts or actions of others and I am defineatly no mind reading psychic. My biggest challenge is accepting mediocre, or should I say 'normal.' My pride and ego scream 'Nnnoooooo.' Yet when I break through the pressures and ideals, the drive and high standards, that I so naturally put on myself, freedom arises.
Freedom to be just as I am. To allow myself to be. To be a human BE-ing. I'm not a wonder woman DO-ing. I'm apart of the human race. No better, no lesser. No ordinary or extraordinary. This humility brings peace.
For today I am embracing ALL of me. Including the desire to be 'the best.' Instead of trying to be wonder woman, I am happy being superman's mother!

Are you trying to be a super hero?

Namaste

More than chocolate

HAPPY EASTER!choc

Whether you are religious or not, Easter provides a wonderful opportunity to connect and celebrate. Whilst it can be a time for family, holidays, festivals and chocolate, Easter is a time of new beginnings, a 'cleaning of the slate,' and spiritual awakenings. Easter is seen as a season of rebirth, bringing optimism and the feeling of a fresh start.

So this year, reach out to family, express appreciation for friends and remember the more you give, the more you receive, because you will keep the abundance of the universe circulation in your life.

Here are a few suggestions for an Easter themed practice:

1.) Take your asana outside (if you live in a climate where it is warm enough to do so). Fertility and rebirth are important parts of Easter. Touch, smell, taste, hear, see the world around you as though you had never before. Feel the breeze against your skin. Dig your toes into the grass. Connect with nature and the seasons.

2.) Practice Childbunny’s Pose with your arms at your sides, palms up, head turned to one side. (You kind of look like an egg here—and that’s the point!) The egg is a symbol rich in tradition, represents the possibility of new life. Think about any false beliefs or ideas can you ‘crack’ to renew yourself.

3.) Practice a heart healing meditation. Take the attention to your heart space. Visualize the heart center encased in an eggshell. Send your breath to this area. As though the shell was cracking open, picture light illuminating the heart. Rays of brightness begin to spread. Any negative emotions, tensions or injuries are transformed and released as your being is filled with this light. Picture the light spreading from your heart space throughout the body. Bathe in the healing light you have created.

4.) Do some writing on the question, 'What am I ready to let go of?'

5.) Become present to the natural breath - allowing the breath to do what it likes and stepping out of the way.

6.) Before bed, light a candle and practice trataka to clear your mind and cleanse your thoughts.

7.) And most of all, enjoy!

Namaste

Autumn Equinox

The Autumn Equinox is a point of union and balance between the Light and the Dark, between Fire and Water, between the Yang and the Yin. The Autumn Equinox reminds me to balance all parts of myself, the active and the passive, the known and the unknown, the outer journey and the inner journey, the seen and the unseen, the logical and the intuitive, the conscious and unconscious.

Autumn Equinox

As the trees let go of their leaves in preparation for winter’s hibernation and start anew in the spring, now is the time that can align with nature and also begin to turn inward to reevaluate our priorities and let go of what is no longer useful.
Take an honest look at your life (no judgements!) and become aware of anything that is holding you back – people, situations, negative beliefs, fears, and worries. Use the beautiful energies of this Equinox and just LET GO! If you’re in any doubt step outside, breathe in the crisp, clear autumn air and just look around – you never see a tree clinging onto their leaves for fear they won’t come back!

Let go and trust, believe, feel – that’s when the magic really begins to happen!

Happy, happy Autumn Equinox

Namaste