We have all had to step outside our realm of normal during this time of physical distancing. We are navigating new ways to stay connected, healthy and happy.
I have set up a Youtube channel so you can do some practice with me at home on your own schedule. This is my first attempt, so the lighting and sound are not perfect but I hope to improve as i go along, I am new at this!
Take some time out for you - when you are ready grab your mat, a cushion and a blanket and come and join me.
CLICK HERE to go to my YouTube Channel
As I’m trying to adapt to the impact the situation of COVID 19 is having on our lives, I keep being reminded of the ultimate goal of yoga. “Yoga Citta Vritti Nirodha” translated to “yoga ceases the fluctuations of the mind”. Life has many ups and downs, many cycles and phases. The goal is to respond to those fluctuations in a more balanced and measured way, rather than coming from a place where we are overly reactive.
This is the practice.
It is challenging.
How can we remain calm and peaceful in the midst of a world wide crisis?
It is easy to get swept along with the wave of panic and fear. How can we return to a place of love, trust and acceptance?
Yoga asks that we return to this moment. For this moment is all that we have. This breath. Each and every breath. In returning to this moment, we sometimes find a way back to our true nature which is unchanging and steady, peaceful and calm.
This does not mean we cannot feel the many colours of emotions that arise, it just means that with a regular practice we become less reactive to them. All emotions are welcome, but let them rise and fall much like a wave on the ocean. We aim to not let our emotions completely overtake us. And if they do, return to this moment, this breath. This helps to create some space around our thoughts and emotions, so maybe we can gain a new perspective.
One of the difficulties of this time is maintaining our normal routines and connections. In many ways this is a blessing. Again this creates space around our idea of normal and forces us to step outside our comfort zone. From this place we can create new ways of being. We are being given time to reevaluate. I’m finding that in being asked to stay at home at this time, life is starting to take on a slower pace. The constant pressures and demands are starting to diminish. Instead my focus is returning to my loved ones and the simplicity of being together.
I am grateful for this opportunity to step back and take care of what I need to at home. Everyday, no matter what is happening in the world, I try to find gratitude. This is also the practice.
I hope this time is bringing you some unexpected blessings and that together we can forge a new way of being that better serves our planet and each other.
As we come into a New Year I hope we can forge a new way forward and not accept the status quo. It is time to challenge our very way of life. It is easy to deflect responsibility onto our politicians and leaders, but we all have the power to make choices that are better for our planet. It is easy to give in to a sense of powerlessness, but when we stand together for the country and planet we love we can be very powerful.
This has been evident in the response of communities, indviduals and organisations to this catastrophe.
Like many of us, I feel deep grief and a sense of anger at this terrible unfolding of events. These unrelenting bushfires that are wiping out billions of animals, an unfathomable amount of land, peoples live and homes. I feel paralysed. However, I will not give up. It has inspired me to consider the choices I make even more carefully.
I have written a piece about this, hopefully there is something in there to inspire you too.
Our planet does not need us, it has never needed us.
It is us that so desperately needs our planet,
depending on her for our survival.
Yet recklessly, selfishly, we destroy her.
Our planet has survived for billions of years,
slowly spinning through space and time.
Through infinite cycles of birth, life and death.
Our lives have been a whisper of time, a heart beat.
Yet we roar.
Desperate to make our mark, marvelling at our cleverness.
Yet not too clever,
we haven’t learned the greatest lesson of all.
To respect our planet, our home.
To work with her, not against her.
To share the many fruits she provides.
Like tiny spoilt children, "I want, it is mine, give me more".
Endless desires, placing our needs above all
in an attempt to fill the void. The emptiness.
When we recognise that we are one,
one with all that is, each of us an expression of the infinite,
there is a shift.
Where we were hollow, we are filled.
There is a comfort.
We are not alone, we are all connected.
Connected to each other and to all that is.
Our oneness is our enduring strength, our power.
The great power of drawing together as community.
We are large, not small.
As one our actions become a reflection of love, kindness and hope.
And we can roar, loud and clear,
to pave a way for a better future.
I often meet with people who feel guilty taking time for themselves and to do things that bring them joy.
How often do you do take time out just for you? What do you do to support your health and wellbeing? It is imperative to take care of ourselves, so we can go on with the "busyness" of our lives.
It is not selfish to find time for self care. Emergency procedures on a flight tell us to apply our own oxygen mask before attending to others. You need to take care of you, or you have nothing to give to anyone else. How you treat yourself informs the way that you treat others.
Often we are operating on auto-pilot. We mindlessly make the same choices, have the same default reactions and sometimes they are not the best choices for our health.
A Yoga retreat can be a means of escaping from our routine and connecting back to what is meaningful. It gives us an opportunity to be able to press the reset button so we may view the happenings in our lives with fresh eyes. A retreat will help you to appreciate the blessing in your life and find joy in living in a way that supports your health.
A retreat will guide you to:
I recently had the opportunity to experience a silent meditation retreat. Known as “Sesshin” translating to “touching the heart mind” this involves taking a period of silence and is from the Zen Buddhist tradition. Many non-buddhists take part in Sesshin to experience the benefits of mindfulness and a removal from their everyday lives.
After our group hellos we had an introduction with Hamid, a Zen Buddhist Monk and our facilitator. It was in this moment I felt a sinking sensation from the realization that from that moment on, there would be no talking, no music and no laughter. I was looking forward to the experience but I could feel the resistance building. Three days felt like a long time.
Unaware of the schedule prior to the retreat, I soon learned we would experience seated meditation in two hour blocks, four times a day (consisting of 30 minutes seated meditation punctuated with ten minute walking meditations) or eight hours a day. Yes, eight hours! Currently having trouble with bursitis in my hip, sitting for such long periods was not a comforting thought.
The first session I experienced a lot of discomfort and found it hard to take my awareness away from the aches and pains in my body. As each session went by it became a little easier, however I did seek whispered permission after a couple of days to take a break and lay down to relieve my hip, but only did this for part of the three or four of the 30 minute sessions overall. The walking meditation gave you time to stretch your legs, I loved this part of the process. Walking very slowly with your breath and your hands at your heart.
One of things I was finding it difficult to acclimatise to was silent meals. And the first one was strange. I noticed every little sound, the cutlery on the plates, my chewing, the shuffling of chairs. But I also noticed how good the food tasted and how appreciative I felt to be sharing such beautiful food. Without the need to engage in conversation my other senses were firing.
Have you heard this before: "I'm not flexible enough to do yoga!"???
Like one of my wise teachers once said to me, that is like saying, "I am too dirty to have a bath".
The great thing about yoga is that it transforms. You begin to notice changes in your body very soon after you begin to practice. The more often you practice the sooner you will feel the benefits.
You don't need to practice for an hour, if you can roll out your mat for 10-20 minutes a day, you will feel amazing. The frequency of your practice is important than the length.
Design a home practice for you!
Let me help you build a home practice tailored for you.....
In ancient yogic philosophy we find tools that are very relevant in today's world. The Yamas are considered to guidelines for living and the first Yama is Ahimsa.
Ahimsa translates as non-violence. It is the practice of kindness and compassion to oneself and others. When we think of kindness in relation to how we treat ourselves and others we rarely think of our thoughts. However, many of us have a tendancy towards automatic negative thoughts. Our words or thoughts can impact how we feel about ourselves and other people. What you think is what you project.
Watch your thoughts, your thoughts become your words.
Watch your words your words become your actions,
Watch your actions your actions become your habits
Watch your habits, your habits become your character
Watch your character, your character becomes your destiny
~ proverb, author unknown.
In yoga we use a "Sankalpa" in our practice or a positive statement or resolution made with conviction, usually an "I am" statement. Such as "I am worthy", "I am calm". You let your inner voice be your guide and allow it to help you take a step towards the person you are. Honour what is true to you and what you need in this moment.
So we must be mindful of our thoughts. In order for me to be the best version of me I honour myself, respect myself and love myself. By doing so I feel more abundant and more energised.
Feeling more abundant allows you to give more generously to others. Be compassionate to yourself first. Treat yourself with loving kindness, then watch it spread to those around you.
Yoga makes you feel good from the inside out. It is holistic in that it works on improving the health of all of the physiological systems in the body. The main ones that improve immune function include the circulatory, respiratory, digestive, nervous and endocrine systems.
Breathing techniques (or pranayama) used in yoga increase the lungs capacity by strengthening all of the muscles involved in breathing. This is particularly important for people who tend to get bronchial conditions such as asthma. Better lung function has the added benefit of increasing the supply of fresh oxygenated blood to all of your cells, flushing out and supplying fresh nutrients to every cell in your body.
Circulation is also improved with our Asana (physical) practice, which not only increases the blood flow around the body it also helps to stretch the major blood vessels, improving their elasticity. Improved circulation means that your brain will receive more oxygen, improving alertness, memory, and mood. Vital organs receive a steady supply of the nutrients they need for optimal functioning.
Every system, every organ, every cell is guided in its functioning by hormones. The proper growth and functioning of the various parts of the body is possible when there is a balanced secretion of all these hormones. Any imbalance results in disease. Asanas balance the hormonal secretions from the various glands. The twisting and bending positions of the asanas, held for periods of time, place pressure on the various glands of the body, stimulating them and regulating their secretions.
Yoga is one of the only forms of exercise that triggers the para-sympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for the relaxation (or rest, digest and renew) response in the body lowering stress, a major cause of compromised immunity. This helps to balance our nervous system, improves our sleep our ability to respond to stress and our digestion.
Up to 80% of our immune system is located in the digestive tract, so having a healthy gut is crucial to a good immune system. Many yoga poses stimulate the digestive system, promoting better digestion. However, diet and exercise are not the only factors to contribute to a healthy digestive system. Stress can be a major cause of digestive issues. Which is why activating the para-sympathetic nervous system is extremely important for digestive health.
Unless I cleverly hide the green vegies it can be hard to get the kids to eat them. I am sure I am not alone!
However I have success with soup. I think soup is one of the best ways to help the body to fight off winter bugs. We rarely get sick in our house (touch wood) and if we do we fight it off quickly. I am a big believer in food as medicine and also eating seasonally. I think the fruit and vegies that are in season are what your body requires for good health at that time of the year. Check this guide from the Victorian Farmers Market Association.
The benefits of eating these vegies are many: they contain many important nutrients such as iron, folate, zinc, potassium, vitamin C, calcium and anti-oxidants..... read more and find my recipe for give 'em greens soup.
Sharing the wisdom of yoga