#YogaEveryDamnDay

It’s international Yoga day today.  All across the world people are practicing Asana (postures) to celebrate.

*leans over to have another sip of wine*

I’m struggling.  I can’t go to as many Yoga classes as I would like and don’t even mention ‘self practice’ to me! Never mind putting my running shoes on.

BUT… (and currently mine is a large butt)…
every day for the last 22 months I have spent time with my son.  Time that I cherish so much more than a tight bum and thighs that don’t touch.  Time that, for me, is my UNION, my practice, my Yoga.

It’s been difficult to get to this point. There are moments I feel so disconnected from my body I could be a ghost. But when I pause, take a deep breathe, and marvel at the miracle of the little life growing, exploring, creating in front of me, that disconnection seems so trivial. It’s a small moment of dis-chord within the smallness of my ego.

Being a mom brings with it so many sacrifices I have lost count.  We need to take heart.  The sacrifices we make today are the heart-filling memories of time spent with our children that we will recall tomorrow.

Re-mind yourself of this mothers when you read about your friends achieving great things, or feel jealousy over peers succeeding where you have simply just not got the time to make the effort anymore.  Your practice (our practice) is this – be with your children whenever you can and savor every moment.

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The Feels for Reals!

It’s amazing how the simple act  of remembering a moment of kindness can make you feel.

I am in week 2 of running my first solo 8 week Mindfulness Based Living Course and we do this practice to begin to cultivate compassion.  A simple exercise of remembering a moment when someone was kind to you and then allowing yourself to feel the physical sensations of kindness.

As always with Mindfulness practices it’s simple, but not always always easy. It is powerful though!

I still feel the residue of the practice. A warmth. A cosy fuzzy feeling in my belly – almost like I’ve eaten some good chocolate but without the sugar crash after effects.  I feel open and aware – aware that my loving husband needs some attention and conversation…

Try it! Spend a few moments remembering how it physically feels to be kind and to receive kindness.

Power Up Your Yoga

Power Up Your Yoga

As a Yoga teacher one of the most common things I hear is – “I can’t do Yoga. I’m not flexible enough,” or people asking for forgiveness because they can’t touch their toes.

This is, in my opinion, one of the greatest myths about Yoga today. You do not have to touch your toes or put your feet behind your head to practice Yoga.

The postural, or asana, practice that we are exposed to in the gym or even the Yoga studio is only one small part of Yoga. There are eight limbs of yoga and assana is only one of them. Even when we come to practice these poses it is not important how deep you can go into the pose or how strong or steady you are.

In my opinion Yoga postures are used primarily to help us feel. To help us connect with our bodies. To help us become embodied. Continue reading “Power Up Your Yoga”

This World

I recently read an interview on Vox, A Buddhist Monk explains mindfulness for times of conflict, and was reminded about how important it is to look to yourself before judging newspaper-headlines-template-powerpoint_1others.  Actually, a few minutes after reading this article I also read a blog about judgement.

So often we speak of the atrocities of ‘This World’ as if it is something outside of us.  We look to others to blame. Living in our current times of turbulence where nothing seems stable or still, we constantly find reasons ‘out there’ for the disruption.

My husband, Matt, is my best teacher in this. We often have conversations about how terrible the world is. How much violence there is. How much imbalance. It is he who reminds me that it is OUR world – not THE world. I have the ability to be violent, to be despicable  and vile just as much as anyone else.  Matt always tries to side with the villain in a movie (often to the point of exasperation for me!). He reminds me that those that commit acts of atrocity also have the ability to love and be loved.

It is not for us to be judge and juror of others and their behaviours. In the interview the monk is asked: “So let’s say you’re anticipating a conversation with a family member at Thanksgiving who holds a racist view. And you see that as the wrong view. What would you recommend as way to engage with this person?”

His response puts into words (better than my own) what I am trying to put across:
“The way I practice is that you cannot ask people for what they do not have. You only make yourself suffer. So you don’t need to try and convince them. Don’t put stuff in their box they’re not going to want. It’s a waste of saliva.

When there is discrimination, you can use the opportunity to increase understanding. You can concentrate on what makes you happy; there are other elements in this person, not just the prejudice. You have to find also the good qualities in them. Don’t focus on wrong views because that makes you angry.

This is not wishful thinking or deluded thinking. This is taking care of yourself. Only when you can do that — when you can be a good listener and be nonjudgmental — is a dialogue possible.

When I think I am right, I am on a course for a lot of conflict. Because I am stuck with my own views and not open to other people. So I suffer. When I see that in other people, I see they are suffering. Maybe kindness is there. Their viewpoints may not be correct, but their heart may be kind.”

This is SUCH a challenge. How on earth do we begin to see the villains of the world as people with ‘kindness in their hearts’?! When heinous things happen to seemingly good, kind people how do we not judge the perpetrator?

In all honesty – I don’t know! It is something that I struggle with daily. My only hope is that by being aware of these judgments and questioning them, getting curious with how I see OUR world, might begin to provide some insight.

Perhaps it is for us to simply keep offering kindness to both victim and perpetrator. It is not for me to try and change the world – I can only change myself.

 

Evolving

It is fast approaching the end of 2016, and so much has changed in my life! I have a beautiful little boy called Thomas who is almost 18 months old already. It’s true – he has been the birth of all the changes and while I do miss my previous life, this new, evolved life is incredible.

Becoming a mother has been the most challenging thing in my life. It requires surrendering the person you think you are before baby, and, in my opinion, choosing to become the person your child wills you to be.

I have struggled. I have really struggled to be patient, to be kind, and to be mindful!  As a Mindfulness facilitator and coach, as well as Yoga teacher I feel a huge responsibility to ‘live my practice’.  It is so important to me to be kind and patient. So when I find myself lashing out at my (ever supportive and loving) husband Matt; or feeling so full of rage when Thomas is fighting to go to sleep, the guilt sets in.

In Buddhism they speak of the second arrow. That feeling that comes out of a feeling. In mindfulness we use the acronym HIFAWIF to investigate this. How do I Feel About What I’m Feeling. When I ask myself this – GUILT is the answer. And then I repeat using Guilt and the answer is RAGE. And I repeat AGAIN and the answer is GUILT! Stuck in a washing machine.

So to break down my own feelings:
Primary feeling: Anger directed at husband or child
HIFAWIF – Guilt
HIFAWIF – rage
HIFAWIF – guilt
HIFAWIF – more rage!
And as I continue in this way something incredible is revealed.  That rage becomes fear, and it’s a fear of failure. It’s a fear of not being good enough. Not doing justice to my family.

The reality is that we cannot be perfect all the time. Some days are better than others.  When I found myself having more bad days than good I opted to seek medical help and chose to use anti-depressants for a period. You can read more about this in up-coming posts.

One thing my exploration with Mindfulness has taught me is to remember to be kind to MYSELF.  Learning to acknowledge and allow the feelings with which I struggle (rage, guilt, fear) to be felt is, for me, the first step.

And so it is that we begin to evolve in our practice of life – one step a time.