Finding Truth

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The poison:

Feeling the pressure of accomplishing and creating the perfect life – not just professionally, but personally too.

Feeling “not enough” because you haven’t hit the milestones … even those milestones that you didn’t want to hit.

Feeling like you’re not keeping up (even though you know you’re on your own right path) because all around you are messages that you’re falling behind, moving too slow, running out of time?

 

The antidote:

Put down the phone, stop scrolling. Forget about the inspirational quotes and the six-pack abs. Quiet the voice of comparison in your mind.

“Know that you are on your own path; only you know what’s right for you.”

“Different milestones happen at different times for everyone; and they don’t always happen – which is good.”

We say these things to ourselves, but do we really feel them in our hearts?

Turn up music you love and let your body move organically, then sit quietly and listen to your own breath.

Place your hands on your heart. Be still. Determine if what you are doing (or not doing) is true and right for you. Your heart knows. Listen only to that.

 

 

 

 

Let’s Get Un-Physical

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I used to think that yoga was about stretching and being flexible.

When I was introduced to Ashtanga and vinyasa flow yoga, I realised that yoga was also about strength.

When I did my yoga teacher training, I realised that yoga is so  much more than a physical practice.

People often say to  me that they can’t do yoga because they’re not flexible. But that’s only a small part of what yoga is really about.

Yoga allows time for self-discovery and provides a moving meditation so that we become aware of our bodies and aware of our thoughts in a way that is connected.

It allows us to simultaneously be in our bodies and aware of our minds. It provides a mirror for our reactions, and offers a safe place to explore uncomfortable feelings.

It offers tools to help us deal with icky stuff on the mat, so that when icky stuff enters our life, we have the resources to cope.

Yoga can permeate all areas of life – it inspires mindful living, conscious choices, a life of intention.

It can help create a beautiful life by allowing us to understand patterns and curate decisions so that we have control over actions, thoughts and reactions.

Which leads us, ultimately, to a life lived, not passively, but cultivated with joy and meaning.

I would be lying if I said I didn’t like the physical benefits – yoga makes my body feel good too.

But it’s what’s beyond the physical that is so much more special to me. And it’s THAT part of yoga that keeps me coming back to my mat.

 

Photo by Paula Sanderson Photography @paula_sandersonphotos

Love a Stranger

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When life is tight and stressed it’s easy to be rude to people who don’t matter to us, aka strangers. With the start of the school year I noticed a shift in energy in London which felt small and tight after the carefree openness of summer. When I notice that energy in the air, I like to take time to spread a little love – it not only makes me feel better, I like to think it makes the world a better place too.

A challenge for September:

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Spread a little joy and love of your own – smile at several strangers and see what happens …

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Hold the door for someone who isn’t expecting it.

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Say thank you to the person serving your coffee.

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Give someone your seat on the train.

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Ask your cashier how their day is going – make a connection, however brief, and give a genuine smile.

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How do you feel? What impact does it have on the rest of your day?

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Let me know in the comments or use #spreadtheloveseptember

Practice when it’s easy … practice when it’s hard.

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I recently went back to Canada to visit friends and family. At the start of the two week trip, I had every intention of a daily yoga practice, but as the trip progressed, the late nights and commitments started to compound, and the first thing I gave up in favour of a few more minutes of sleep – my practice*.

Even as a yoga teacher, sometimes it’s hard. It’s often easier to escape than to show up.

But when I let go of my practice, I feel disconnected with my heart … my body doesn’t feel good (especially during trips when lots of planes, trains and automobiles are involved), and I get cranky and stressed. And on a trip when things are busy, there’s little downtime, and the inevitable family drama eventually pops up, practicing is the perfect antidote to bring me back to a place of calm and feeling good.

Doing yoga or meditation when all is going well is easy. Continuing the practice during times of difficulty – especially mental or physical illness, stress or upheaval … that is where it all gets hard.

 

I’ve developed a few tools to help me maintain my practice, even when times are tough (not just when I’m travelling):

 

  • Practice less. Practice every other day, every two days or just make the practice shorter – 10 mins instead of 30/60/90

 

  • Change the practice. When I have an injury or am feeling less than awesome in my body (tired, run-down, sick, etc), I switch to a less physical practice. Meditation, pranayama (breathing techniques), guided meditation, yoga nidra, yin yoga, going for a walk, sitting in nature. I swap it out a traditional practice for something that feels good on that day.

 

  • Skip the practice and be ok with it. I don’t feel that an everyday physical practice is best for me. Sometimes it works, but sometimes not doing it feels better. On days when any kind of practice feels heavy or like an obligation, I let go of that day, and start again the next … or the next day after that.

 

  • Make one small change. Forget the practice of yoga and focus only on one thing that know will make you feel good. Maybe it’s going to bed half an hour early, or taking time for a luxurious bath. Or focus on only the practice. Take 5 minutes and determine one thing that would make an improvement on the situation. For me, it’s usually food. When things are hard I get lazy and stop cooking, so focusing only on improving what I eat generally gives me the impetus and energy to make other beneficial changes too. But I start with just one small change.

 

  • Prepare in advance. I always prefer to practice first thing in the morning so that I ensure I don’t get distracted as things pop up during the day. Meditation or yoga is easier first thing if I set out any tools the night before (creating space for my mat, laying out clothes, setting up a playlist, putting out yoga props (blocks, strap, etc), my journal … whatever it is I need). Then all I have to do is get up, go to the place and practice. Ease in practice comes when there is little to do beforehand …

 

What tools do you use? Let me know in the comments or use #hardtimeseasypractice

 

*When I say practice, I use the term broadly – to me yoga is not just about physical poses, but also includes meditation, breathing, sitting quietly, taking time in nature … any practice where I am consciously present, connecting with my body or my heart, and making time to connect with and listen to myself. I don’t do physical poses every day, but I aim to practice some form of yoga six out of seven days a week.

 

Photo courtesy of Donald MacKenzie Photography

Self-Practice Yoga Playlist – September 2016

This month’s music inspiration – a bit pop, a bit indulgent … an upbeat hour of music making me want to move my body on my mat in ways that feel good. What inspires you to move your body? What are you listening to on the mat this month? Let me know in the comments or use #selfpracticeseptember

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This playlist is designed with the following type of flow in mind: a short warm-up, a dynamic standing sequence, some seated poses and a lovely long savasana.

 

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