I’m so passionate about Home Yoga as it has honestly transformed my life! Knowing that you don’t have to go somewhere to practice, that you can do it in the comfort of your own home, in the fresh air outdoors, even while your waiting at the traffic lights on your way to work. Yoga is a tool, a way of life, a practice which can support you through everyday life, not only what you do on the mat but how you think, feel and act.

Here is a collection of some tips and inspiration for your home yoga practice …

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,

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,

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

winter yoga

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,

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,

 

 

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,

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,

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,

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,

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,

Plan Your Practice

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'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,

Be honest and be real

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'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!
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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

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.

Be inspired, hear my home yoga practice

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Be inspired, hear my home yoga practice

Is your home yoga practice on a bit of a lull?
Are you finding it a challenge to get and stay motivated?
Do you want to enhance your practice & revive your love affair with yoga?
If so, this audio is for you!

In this audio Kate Connell from You and the Yoga Mat, interviews me on my home yoga practice. I cover -

ॐ my love story with yoga
ॐ  a-ha moments as a result of my at-home yoga 
 who my greatest teachers are 
ॐ what my practice consist of and how has it changed over time 
 what inspires me to get on the mat 
ॐ the practices + modalities that enhance my practice 
ॐ the techniques and tricks I use in periods of turmoil, change and chaos
And much MORE!

To listen in click here.

Enjoy your practice.

Namaste,

Love Yourself! [MUST SEE Video by Erin Janus]

How to love yourself

An awesome inspirational video from Erin Janus to re-program the organic computer in your head so you can be your best self. Trust yourself. Learn to love yourself. Teach yourself to love yourself. You've got nothing to lose... except what holds you back.

Namaste

One Month Old Today!

One Month Old Today!1 month
In the last month we have used 1 disposable nappy, 18 eco-disposable inserts, washed 326 cloth nappies ... and Kailash still prefers to go nude!

I'm someone who likes to be organised, focused and on time! I knew that I'd need to let go of these ideals as a new mum and embrace the chaos and unpredictability of this next chapter in life.
Thank goodness for yoga! Today I had plans to go to a meeting in the city and do my fruit and veggie shopping at the local markets. After a virtually sleepless night and morning of a restless baby, I could see leaving the house would be like trying to get water out of a rock. Instead of pushing upstream and holding onto my determined nature, I took a few breaths, smiled and realised how much easier it is to go with the flow. For years I've been teaching this in classes and practicing it in daily life yet I still forget! This is why I believe yoga isn't just something we do for 90 minutes a week on a mat, it's a practice to live by.

How quickly my pride has me wondering 'why is this not working the way it should be?!' Let me correct … 'why is this not working the way I think it should be?!' I get caught up into thinking I know how things should be and then complain to myself when they don't go to plan. It reminds me of the saying – 'I plan and God laughs!' God, Universe, Divine, Higher Power, whatever you choose to call it, when I'm trying to be the Director and manage this game of life, I'm bound to be resentful and unhappy.

The more and more I practice 'going with the flow,' accepting things as they come and truly trusting it will be as it's meant to be, I find myself in a state of peace and freedom. It's no longer a battle. There is no-one to fight. I can let go and BE.

Each time I change a nappy and 2 minutes later it's dirty again, I think to myself, this is exactly what I need to be doing right now. Being in this precious moment, with the most important person in my day, my beautiful one month old, Kailash Ananda Carroll.

Wishing you a day of ease and effortless flow,

Namaste

Yoga with my 18 day old

Yoga with my 18 day old

My yoga practice has changed dramatically over the past month. Kailash adores lying on the mat while I practice. It's just beautiful. Hope you like it.

Namaste

Summer Solstice

Jai summer!sun

Today, in the Southern Hemisphere, we celebrate the Summer Solstice. It is the height of the summer—the longest day and shortest night of Earth’s solar year.
Solstice literally means “standing of the sun” so the easiest way to connect to this stellar turning point in the Earth’s yearly cycle is by reflecting on our own personal journeys, how far we have come, since the Winter Solstice.
From this point until the winter solstice everything on Earth will be turning within. Using this time to focus on what we wish to develop and sustain in ourselves during the coming months is a great way to utilize the energizing paths that lead within that are prevalent this time of year.

So questions you can ask yourself in meditation or during asana are -

What do I want to encourage in my life?
How do I balance the light and dark within myself?
What lights my fire, what turns me on and what do I desire?
How do I celebrate, nurture and nourish my body, mind and spirit?

And of course, doing this Sun Yoga practice, maybe even in the sun if you’re feeling frisky, is a great way to welcome this new time in our lives:

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The Practice of Others

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The Practice of Others

Just goes to show a Home Yoga Practice can be so vast and versatile!

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Namaste,

Success in your practice

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Success in your practice

Success in your home yoga practice really depends upon your state of mind. It's easy to get hard on ourselves and think we are not doing enough, not practicing 'good' enough or 'should' be doing something else.
What we focus on gets bigger! So by focusing on the lack or the things that we aren't happy with we'll see more of them.

For today focus on your yoga success! Congratulate and reinforce the things you are doing to enhance your health and well-being.

Namaste,

Unique Home Yoga Practice

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Unique Home Yoga Practice

Everyone's home yoga practice will be different. There are innumerable styles, techniques, times, places, props etc.

Finding your unique practice, one that suits you, is apart of the explorational journey of yoga.

 

On the quest to find uniqueness and inspiration, I was fortunate to interview Robin to find out how her practice works for her.

Listen in and prepare to be inspired and perhaps pick up some tips for your practice!

Namaste,

Procrastination in your practice

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Procrastination in your practice

There is no 'right' time to practice. Procrastination can often stand in the way.

Rather than to and fro about when, where, what etc. just do it! Getting really clear on the benefits practice gives and what you are consciously choosing to do in it's place, helps us to define your priorities and overcome procrastination once and for all!

Namaste,

Distractions in your practice

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Distractions in your practice

Distractions are inevitable. To set ourselves up for success we need to know the distractions that arise and how to work with them.

Get honest, observe your patterns and become aware of all the obstacles that limit you, so you can overcome the distractions and enjoy the benefits of yoga on a more regular basis.

Namaste,

Yoga in everyday life

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Yoga in everyday life

Take your practice off the mat and into everyday life by using the innumerable tools of yoga!
By applying the ancient techniques and systems that yoga offers you can live your life with more ease and liberation.

For today, make your practice work for you!

Namaste,

Reflecting on what works

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Reflecting on what works

Learning from our past to see what works for us and what we enjoy can really help to shape and sculpt your home yoga practice practice.

For today, empower yourself by making some time to reflect.

Namaste,

The next Home Yoga Summit

The next Home Yoga Summit!

www.satyaliveyoga.com.au/summit/

I'm super excited to be launching the next Home Yoga Summit on October the 6th and would love you to join me. I've interviewed some of the best yoga teachers from around the world to find out their tips, tools and motivations to inspire you in your home practice and over the duration of the summit I'll send you an interview each day for you to watch and be empowered!

All you need to do to sign up for this free online event is click on the link below and enter in your name and email address.
www.satyaliveyoga.com.au/summit/

I can't wait to share this with you,

Namaste,

Aware of your Habits

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Aware of your Habits

We are all creatures of habits and our habits and routines serve a purpose, they help us throughout the day. By doing things the same way over and over again we don't have to think or be so engaged in the task at hand, at times this can be very beneficial.

 

To bring more yoga, connection and union, into our lives by simply noticing these patterns and making small changes to them, we draw our attention into the present moment. We help to create new neural pathways in the brain and begin to change deeply rooted impressions (samskaras) from our psyches.

For today, take your practice off the mat and into everyday life by switching off autopilot and bringing your awareness into the moment!

 

Namaste,

Chanting Practices

The Sanskrit word ‘mantra,’ means sacred syllable(s) or sacred word(s). Across the literature, mantras are described as vibrational formulas that are recited silently within, spoken, or sung outwardly. The sound vibrations of mantras permeate every cell of your being and allow your mind to dissolve and repose.

For thousands of years, yogis have stressed the value of chanting mantra in stabilizing and clearing the mind, leading one to deeper spiritual awakening and awareness.

Modern neuroscience is now beginning to discover the relationship between the way words are used and the impact on the functioning of the mind. When we hear, speak, chant or even think a mantra, the frontal lobes of our brain “light up” and the nerve endings fire up. There is increased flow of oxygen and blood. These frontal lobes are responsible for thought, learning, perception, and emotion.

The sound vibration produced by mantras go beyond the cognition of the mind. When the mind is unable to cognize, it simply dissolves and moves into a meditative space. As a result different patterns of the mind re-arrange themselves to become tranquil and in turn our mind can become more clam, centered and we can go within to our Truth.

Gayatri Mantra

Gayatri Mantra

Durga Path

Durga Path

Mahamrityunjaya Mantra

Mahamrityunjaya Mantra

Shanti Path

Shanti Path

Full Shanti Path

Full Shanti Path

Create a sacred space

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Create a sacred space

Rituals are what create the sacred space. People can get confused and think you have to go somewhere to experience that sense of ease. That you have to go somewhere to do your yoga practice.
This isn't true. You can practice yoga in your own home, in the office, in your car, on the bus, it is limitless as to where you can practice.

 

What creates the space and gives it more meaning is the rituals ... the things that you are doing before the practice, during and after the practice. This is what creates the sacred container for your practice.

Go ahead and make your own rituals, I wouldn't be surprised if you become aware of rituals you are already doing!

 

Namaste,

DIY Yoga Props For Your Home Practice

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DIY Yoga Props For Your Home Practice

Props are common in yoga classes nowadays and if you are familiar using them in the studio, it can feel a little odd practicing at home without them.
The great news is ... "You don't have to go out and spend a mini fortune on yoga props to assist your home practice. You can recreate your own using things around the home!"
In today's video I share with you a few of my favourite homemade yoga props for bolsters, blocks, eye pillows and yoga straps.
There you have it. Simple ways you can make yoga props from everyday household items.

Get creative! Experiment and enjoy your home yoga practice.

Namaste,

Yoga while traveling

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Yoga while traveling

Tips in practicing when you're on the road -

Be flexible
During travels your asana practice on the mat changes daily, sometimes you won’t have enough space in your room to actually unroll the mat or the towel so you might have to improvise and explore different postures on the bed or perhaps practice a few moves in the shower!

Adjust your expectations
Whether you’re traveling for business, pleasure or both, travel changes your daily schedule. When your schedule changes you may be inclined to throw in the towel and skip practicing all together. Consider your practice while on the road to simply be maintenance. You don’t skip brushing your teeth while you’re traveling even though you may be using a lousy toothbrush. And, it’s still worth it, right? We’ll the same goes for your practice.

Do What You Can, With What You Have, Where You Are
I unapologetically did some arm and side stretches while waiting in the queue for the airplane bathroom. And I thoroughly enjoyed a nice restorative yoga pose (legs up the wall with pillows instead of bolsters) while reading in my room. It didn't take much time, but I was so much more comfortable afterward.

Go beyond asana
Like discussed in the video, there are so many ways you can practice yoga without even moving! Explore pranayama, yoga nidra, meditation, chanting, kirtan, reading spiritual texts ... there is an endless supply of practices you can draw upon to center, ground and connect.

Remember All the Amazing Benefits
There may be days when you just don’t feel like it, but I promise you won’t regret making time for yoga while travelling. Here is a list of the benefits I noticed on these trips…decreased anxiety about travelling, feeling less jetlagged and more relaxed, better digestion and overall wellness when I was eating new/different food.

To sum it up ... traveling provides an opportunity for you to explore your body, breath and mind in a different environment. It gives you the ability to deepen your awareness and enhance your experience, enabling you to enjoy each moment to its fullest.

Whether you're at home, at work, in a traffic jam, on a plane or abroad, you can have a yoga practice to suit you.

Namaste,

Self-knowledge through the Chakras

Understanding the chakras, or vital energy centers, gives us self-knowledge at every level of our being...

The word chakra literally means a “spinning wheel”—an apt metaphor, as spirit uses the chakras to weave the fabric of life. The chakras govern our behavior, shape our emotional life, give expression to our deepest desires, and build the structure of our physical body and personality.

Understanding the chakras gives us self-knowledge at every level of our being.Chakras

Luckily for us, the chakras also map out the journey to fulfillment and enlightenment. Yoga is designed to use the energy of the chakras to accelerate that journey.

The chakra model describes how the life force, prana, circulates between two poles, one in the physical world of the body and the other in the realm of pure consciousness. We humans, strung out between them with all our longings, joys, doubts, and desires, embody both the gross physical reality and the infinite potential of consciousness. Prana nurtures and sustains every aspect of our body and mind through the six energy centers arranged on an axis through the core of the body between the top pole, infinity at the crown (the seventh chakra), and the bottom one, at the pelvic floor (the first chakra). For easy reference, you can view the chakras in respect to their position along the spine, but keep in mind they are not physical structures; rather, they are the loci of subtle energy, which manifests on many different levels, not just the physical.

To find out more about each energy centre, click on the below...

Sahasrara Cimages (2)hakra  

Ajna Chakra

Vishuddhi Chakra

Anahata Chakra

Manipura Chakra 

Swadhishthana Chakra

Mooladhara Chakra 
Namaste,

Mindfulness

My dear friend Melli, also known as Mrs. Mindfulness, has created this awesome video on mindfulness. What is Mindfulness ... And What Does it Mean to You? This is particularly beneficial for taking your yoga practice off the mat and into everyday life!

Namaste,

The Power of Words & Positive Thinking

Empower headerBringing awareness to the power of words and positive thinking to inspire you to be mindful to your thoughts. This is where we take our yoga practice off the mat and into everyday life, yes you yoga practice can be apart of your thoughts!

Part One

 

Part Two

 

John Vincent's experiment

Self-care is self-less

Over the years I have had a lot of resistance towards 'SELF-Care' even mentioning the words raised the hairs on my back. I felt guilty. Indulgent. Unworthy...

Believing that I must put my family, my partner, my work, my students, my emails, my calls, my neighborselfcare, my pets, my....(the list continues), above me, sent me to a place of complete exhaustion.
In the end I couldn't be anything for anyone.

When trying to address beliefs around 'self-care', our Western society applauses and actually encourages the idea of pushing yourself to the limit and achieving the most possible. Many religions advocate self sacrifice. Taking time out and looking after oneself can be seen as lazy and slothful.

However self-care is not selfish. Infact, self-care is selfless. Through self-care we can be more to more people. We can be better parents, employees, spouses, friends. We become able to withstand the demands of modern life and respond from a place of balance and ease.

On an airplane, an oxygen mask drops in front of you. What do you do? As we all know, the first rule is to put on your own oxygen mask before you assist anyone else. Only when we first help ourselves can we effectively help others.

Caring for yourself is one of the most important things you can do for yourself. It is also one of the easiest things to forget. Often we stop when it's too late. When we are worn out, stressed out and run down. You do not have to be 'running on empty' to remember to slow down...you can do it right now!

Give yourself permission to re-fuel and lead by example. Treat yourself as a worthwhile person, showing that you are valuable, competent and deserving.

Where to begin? You may wonder...
You don't need to spend hours or hundreds to give yourself some loving. It can be as simple as doing some yoga at home, taking a Bath, nourishing your skin, preparing a healthy nutritious meal you'll love, play some soothing music, go to bed early, have a massage, walk on the beach, listen to the birds, whatever you do, do something to take care of YOU.

Making you time is the secret to maintaining a healthy mind, body and spirit.

Namaste,

Be OK with your MUD

In the yoga tradition, the lotus is rich with metaphor that inspires us to embrace all parts of ourselves - the beautiful flower that is above the surface as well as our roots and origins in the "mud".

Your "flowers" are the parts of yourself that you find most appealing, it's "your good side" and your "best light", it's even the "final form" of the yoga pose.

Your "mud" is the dark times, your unconscious shadow side, all the pain, suffering, and challenge that has inspired you to grow towards the light and even the struggle you go through when working towards a more advanced yoga posture.
Often, we only want to show our "flowers". We want to be impressive and have others think highly of us. However, our "mud" is our depth and what feeds our life's purpose and meaning.

Here is a little mud on me -Be OK with your mud

- Getting comfortable with my feelings is a life mission. From a young age I tried to escape them and 'numb' the feelings with food, cigarettes, alcohol, excessive and compulsive behaviors. I began practicing yoga because I felt a peace with my feelings.

- At 20 I overdosed on water! Unintentionally of course, but it showed me the importance of moderation in EVERYTHING!

- Obviously I hadn't fully learnt this lesson and at 22 I quit my job, sold my car, renounced society, shaved my head and went to live in yoga ashrams for 2 ½ years. There I understood that balance is the key - this is why I love balancing poses.

- Home yoga practice has been a huge struggle in my life. On again, off again. When I was practicing I felt great, when I wasn't I felt guilty. When I let go of the 'good or bad' label, I freed myself up to enjoy and listen to my body, rather than my head. Believe it or not my body loves practicing, it thrives on, so now I enjoy regular home practice effortlessly.

 

Every one of these stories is a little bit of my shadow, my "mud". Sometimes, with teachers or public figures, we only see the "flower" - what's above the surface - however, we all have our mud deep below.
And I want you to know about my "mud" because I believe the sharing of our stories and our "mud" builds compassion, connection, and understanding between us. Not to mention, we get to see that these challenges are rich, fertile soil for personal growth.

I encourage you today to get comfortable with your "mud"?

We live in a culture where we are bombarded by images and ideals of perfection - we're shown just the flower (and often a photo-shopped and digitally enhanced flower at that!) - embracing and expressing our mud will hep us live more authentically and more freely.

Namaste,

Where to practice?

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Where to practice?

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You don't need to have a sacred space to have a sacred practice. You can experience that connection to your body breath and mind anywhere. be creative, innovative and get on your mat no matter what!

Namaste,

The purpose of asana – What is it for?

The purpose of asana is as varied as the individuals who practice them. Some people wish to improve their health, increase their flexibility and strength etc. Others are looking for a way to obtain grePurpose of asana - Satya Live Yogaater peace, relaxation and harmony in their lives. Some practice to increase their awareness, focus and concentration. Still others use it as their initial preparation to a greater understanding of truth and reality, and ultimately transcendence of the limited self.

All these different reasons have their value and place in asana practice, but it is also important to recognize the purpose(s) for which the practices were originally designed. Depending on one's chosen path in Yoga, the emphasis on asana may vary -

Raja Yoga – Asana is practiced to develop the ability to be able to sit comfortably in one position for an extended period of time.

Hatha Yoga – Uses specific positions to open the energy channels and psychic centres. In this tradition, asana are tools to higher awareness and provide the stable foundation necessary for exploration of body, breath, mind and beyond.

Jnana Yoga – Asana is used to increase concentration and purify the body, so that the mind is free to trace the 'I' thought back to it's source.

Karma Yoga – Poses are practiced to increase one's coordination and balance making action more efficient and harmonious.

Other paths – Whilst asana may not be directly specified as a part of other paths, this is not to say that they don't have value when combined with these approaches. Many of the side benefits from asana greatly contribute to preparing the mind-body for other practices.

Namaste,

Why 108?

Why 108?

In yoga the number 108 is108 considered as a sacred and auspicious number. This always puzzled me, after some research I found many reasons why 108 is significant.....

  • 1, 0, and 8: Some say that 1 stands for God or higher Truth, 0 stands for emptiness or completeness in spiritual practice, and 8 stands for infinity or eternity.
  • Sun and Earth: The diameter of the Sun is 108 times the diameter of the Earth. The distance from the Sun to the Earth is 108 times the diameter of the Sun.
  • Moon and Earth: The average distance of the Moon from the Earth is 108 times the diameter of the Moon.
  • Silver and the moon: In astrology, the metal silver is said to represent the moon. The atomic weight of silver is 108.
  • Numerical scale: The 1 of 108, and the 8 of 108, when added together equals 9, which is the number of the numerical scale, i.e. 1, 2, 3 ... 10, etc., where 0 is not a number.
  • 9 times 12: Both of these numbers have been said to have spiritual significance in many traditions. 9 times 12 is 108. Also, 1 plus 8 equals 9. That 9 times 12 equals 108.
  • Powers of 1, 2, and 3 in math: 1 to 1st power=1; 2 to 2nd power=4 (2x2); 3 to 3rd power=27 (3x3x3). 1x4x27=108
  • Desires: There are said to be 108 earthly desires.
  • Delusions: There are said to be 108 human delusions or forms of ignorance.
  • Heart Chakra: The chakras are the intersections of energy lines, and there are said to be a total of 108 energy lines converging to form the heart chakra.
  • Sanskrit alphabet: There are 54 letters in the Sanskrit alphabet. Each has masculine and feminine, shiva and shakti. 54 times 2 is 108.
  • Upanishads: Some say there are 108 Upanishads, texts of the wisdom of the ancient sages.
  • Pentagon: The angle formed by two adjacent lines in a pentagon equals 108 degrees.
  • Astrology: There are 12 constellations, and 9 arc segments called namshas or chandrakalas. 9 times 12 equals 108. Chandra is moon, and kalas are the divisions within a whole.
  • River Ganga: The sacred River Ganga spans a longitude of 12 degrees (79 to 91), and a latitude of 9 degrees (22 to 31). 12 times 9 equals 108.
  • Planets and Houses: In astrology, there are 12 houses and 9 planets. 12 times 9 equals 108.
  • Goddess names: There are said to be 108 Indian goddess names.

Namaste,

 

Happy Holidays!

Regardless of what you celebrate...

Whether it's Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza or any other holiday, I hope this season is full of joy and love. Be safe, be happy, and I'll see you in the New Year - if not before! :) Big love to you all!

Namaste,

Start a home yoga practice TODAY

In this video we'll explore the 5 steps to start a home yoga practice. I'll help you to overcome any resistance you have to getting to your mat and remind you 'why' regular practice and investing time in yoga is an extraordinary gift to give yourself.

Infuse your life with meaning, health and wellbeing TODAY.

Namaste,

Did you enjoy this video? Then you'll love '21 Days of Yoga!' This online course is filled with daily insights, practices and tools to help you establish your own home yoga practice. And, to make things even better...there's a course to suit your experience, check it out.

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