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A Well Spent Sunday

brings a week of content.

Quite so!

Actually I had a lovely time on Saturday as well so I’m in for a fortnight of wonderfulness. How grand would it be if each day we spent well gave us a credit for the week ahead? Like a sort of happiness coupon.

The more pragmatic of us would point out that we could alternatively just live each day well and forget the coupons already. Yes. Of course. That would be an easier way wouldn’t it? So how many of us do that?

Hmm.

If I had to say what exactly it was I did over the weekend that filled me with such bliss and contentment, I’d struggle to mention anything super exciting. It’s always been those tiny little moments that sort of creep up on me. Which is such a relief because that means during the weekdays I can just keep myself open to more of such treasures.

The heroine of a favourite book of mine had a ritual with her best friend called “White pebble or black pebble”. Each day they would fill an imaginary jar with white pebbles for anything wonderful that happened and black pebbles for anything not so. At the end of the day the women would ring each other and announce whether it was a white pebble type of day or a black pebble one. Ever since reading that book I keep a jar in my mind, a tad dusty as I don’t tend to it all the time, but I take it out more and more these days and check how many white pebbles I found during the day. The occasional black pebble shows up but I try to be less diligent with those.

Here are some of my white pebbles this weekend.

Usually I teach during the weekends, which I adore, but it was nice for a change to have my entire morning to myself to awaken very lazily with a coffee. After a huge yawn whilst shuffling these cards I drew (I kid you not) the Awakening card. Do you believe in coincidences? Or destiny? Can we have both?

Awakening
It’s important to be yourself!

I’ve gotten really fascinated with geometry, I’m always seeing these fancy circles and squares showing up on weheartit and so on. So I gave it a go this weekend. Let me tell you, there’s more than one way to join the dots. Like a zillion ways. Figuratively and literally. Aside from getting a little cross eyed at certain points it was really absorbing. An interesting way to meditate if you can’t stand not doing anything at all. I think there are still more dots to join.

More than one way to connect the dots

The power went out in our building, so we were trapped for a while. Luckily I had already made a coffee so fine by me. No harm at all. Until I felt ready for a second coffee. But then we figured out that the power inside the bedroom worked. We’re problem solving people. Hehe.

No I did not care to check if the washing machine had any power. Priorities.

Would you believe I have not had rice crackers until now since I was at uni?  The first time around? If you want the math for it, that would be almost 15 years ago. Far out. And after I merrily ignored the serving suggestion and made my way through just about the entire packet I realised why I didn’t buy rice crackers anymore when I wouldn’t stop bouncing off the walls afterwards. And then I was insanely thirsty for hours. No original flavour for me thank you very much. Gimme the BBQ. It weirded B out to see snacks in the house AND to see me eating them. I don’t buy snacks because that was how I was brought up. We only got them if we were having a party. I think I will revert to that rule. But it was a nice treat x 4 serving sizes.

Serving suggestions are not serving rules.

Oh, and I also had a visitor drop by during the afternoon to see how my drawing was going. Birds drop by from time to time and I always feel like it’s a good sign. My mood always lifts when I see the flutter of wings even for the briefest instant.

Eventually the power came back on and we watched a bit of The Other Woman. More than anything I think we like Leslie Mann’s voice. And I like the expressions Kate Upton makes, she seems so goofy. Oh and I felt really happy about the dinner I threw together. To counter ALL the rice crackers I ate. When everything is really fresh, not a lot needs to be done to make a delicious meal. And a cool salad is so good for balmy nights. And minimal clean up!

It’s pretty straightforward you just need to mix together a dressing, tear up some leaves, and add anything else you want to make it a filling meal.

Teevee Dinner
“What is up with your hot brother?” Yeah, Leslie, tell us.

So how was your weekend? I hope you had a wonderful weekend and a week ahead filled with magical white pebbles. xx

 

Before You Begin – CAN You Do It? The Requirements of Yoga

Before You Begin – CAN You Do It? The Requirements of Yoga

Alright, alright, I hear you. Time to talk about yoga.

Let’s start from the top and talk about the REQUIREMENTS. Whaddya need and whaddya need to do. 

You need your body. Check.

And just enough space to swing your arms around you.  Check.

That’s it! You’re golden. Good to go.

There are no true requirements or criteria. Anyone can do it. You, me, Dupree, anyone.

People who learn that I teach yoga will usually say one of two things.

One: “Can you teach me? I’ve always wanted to learn yoga.

Two: “Oh… I have always wanted to learn yoga. But you know, I’m just not flexible enough,” sometimes with an added “and now it’s too late.”

Somewhere along the line, as yoga has become more known, this criteria of possessing existing flexibility has fluttered into existence. But is there such a requirement?

No, of course not!

You won’t be turned away at the doorsteps of a yoga class if you can’t bend over and touch your toes with your legs kept straight. There’s no secret handshake to gain entry. There is no audition to become a student of yoga. A teacher won’t ever say to you, “I’m sorry. There’s just nothing we can do here.

Over time with practice, one will start to see improvement in flexibility. But one does not need to be anything in particular to begin with. One just has to want to.

I remember when I was in primary school and failing miserably at a fitness test. Alright, timeout for a bit so everyone can have a good laugh. But no, seriously, I was really terrible at this test.

One component was the flexibility measure, and you had to plant your feet flat against a wall, and reach your hands along the floor towards feet whilst keeping your legs straight. I was truly a sorry sight. I will never forget it. I could not get my fingertips beyond my knees. I had the P.E. teacher trying to help me along, just about climbing onto my back to sort of wedge me closer to my feet. No one had ever seen anyone so hopeless. I mystified the entire staff. So young. So stiff. How is this possible? What does this mean? She is CLEARLY not trying.

Thinking about it now has me laughing so hard. The look on the teachers faces.

Some of us are born naturally flexible. I was not one of those. I have a reasonably bendy back but I still have those days when I reach for my toes and I feel like I have a metre extra of leg length that I could really have used in my torso area. So if we’re talking about candidates for yoga, I would not be what the general populace would consider ‘yoga material’. Have heart, friend.

Have you ever seen that cartoon of Batman and Robin? It pops up from time to time on social media. The one where Robin starts to say, “But I’m not flexible enough…” and before he completes his sentence Batman has slapped Robin so hard across the face his head must be spinning, yelling, “That’s why you do yoga!” It’s obviously a joke and completely not appropriate for any of us to walk around town responding to people Batman-style. We’ll talk about yoga and the practice of non-violence another time. Baby steps, hey.

I think it is great to encourage people to find what is good for their bodies but one needs to walk the line and not transform into a vigilante in the process. Health vigilantes can be especially tiresome. Especially when they have just made the transition into health-lover. Probably because they have all that extra newfound energy. Quite often, a person who has just discovered how incredible they feel after modifying their lifestyle to include working out, eating well, yoga-ing and so on, will then start to hound everyone in their circle to do the same. No one is safe. NO ONE. Everyone will be forced to listen to the benefits of spinning and kale smoothies.

If I had a dollar for everytime a pal of mine would bemoan their partner constantly nagging them to do whatever life-changing activity they have discovered, I’d have a quite a bit of money.

He loses 5 kg and now all day long he keeps telling me I should start running. UGH.

If she mentions the gym one more time…” (voice fades to ominous silence)

He just isn’t listening to me! I don’t want to!

That last one is especially telling. It’s about choice.

I learnt a long time ago that people will do what they will do when they want to and when they are ready to. And not a single microsecond before that. I’ve been blessed to have some incredible students, all of whom have heard some variation of the “You can’t make people do what they don’t want to do, no matter how good it is for them” speech. But it’s hard, I know, in the aftermath of a practice session, all those lovely endorphins and whatnot floating around. Sometimes one just can’t help wanting to share this little secret under the tip of their nose.

If only they knew!” I can just about read the thought bubble over their head.

That’s usually when I find myself wedged in that awkward conversational space between two people, one of whom is a student of mine, feeling glorious after Savasana (it’s the one where you lie down and look like you’re asleep) and the other, a friend of theirs and not a student of mine. Student will pipe up, apropos of nothing, “You should learn yoga from Dom!

By the way, my name is Dominique. Hi.

Non-student will look extremely apologetic and say,”Oh…. I would. I really would. But I’m not flexible enough.

Before I can open my mouth to express understanding and try to turn the conversation to some other topic, Student will exclaim, “That’s why you should do yoga!” Student then turns to me for confirmation. “Am I right? Right?!”

I can just about see the Batman light glowing in the distant skyline. We just need a cape, and a poor disguise and we’re there.

(Who is Batman even kidding by the way? I’ll just cover my eyebrows, and wear this pointy eared thing and I will look totally different. Him and Superman with the glasses. We are not fooled. We are just being polite and going with it.)

Where was I? Awkwardland, yes. Gah.

What my student heard was, “I have been given to understand that one must be flexible to practice yoga. I am not flexible enough, therefore, I cannot do yoga. Such is my life.

What I heard was, “I don’t want to. I’m trying to be polite and not offend anyone. Here is a reason so we can all move on. Away from yoga. Please. Let me live my life.

That’s what I heard. Should I take what the person has said at face-value? Possibly. But what I have learnt is that a person who has been wanting to do yoga, but felt they were not flexible enough, would have immediately turned to me and asked for themselves, “Can you still teach me? I’m not flexible.

If that question had been posed to me, then I would say this:

You do not need to be young, flexible or physically able. It is fine if you do not have a background in gymnastics or ballet. Perfectly ok.

It doesn’t even matter what shape or size you come in either. An acquaintance of B’s once turned to him, after meeting me, and exclaimed with relief, “I’m so glad she isn’t thin! I thought I was too fat to do yoga.”

So if you were thinking something similar, I hope that answers that.

You don’t even need to be fit. There is really only one requirement:

You must not, absolutely cannot, be lazy.

You just can’t.

” Every one can do yoga, young, old or sick people. Only lazy people cannot do yoga.”
R. Sharath Jois

And, as long as you aren’t lazy, you can do yoga.

We can even break the idea of laziness down to choice. A person who wants to and chooses to do yoga will never ever be too lazy to do something about it.

It is not so much can you or can’t you, or may you, but will you or won’t you. Do you want to?

If you read this, and thank you by the way, but if you read this, chances are very high that you want to do yoga. Chances are extremely high that you are not lazy. Therefore, you can do yoga. Please never let yourself worry about the need to be flexible enough anymore.

 

Are you still worried about the flexibility thing? Or the not fit thing?

Have no fear, I’m editing, hopefully in time for the weekend, a video of a short yoga practice you can do no matter how inflexible you are.

If I can get the spinning rainbow wheel to stop turning, that is. Talk about will it or won’t it.

Go edit yourself!
Yes, I am now at that point in video editing where I wave my wand and hope this video will edit itself. Maybe I should try the mouse.

 

For starters, here is what you can do. Hop up and walk to your mirror. Look into your reflection and say the following:

“I am clever and capable of doing anything I want to. I want to do yoga.”

By the way, the above works for anything. Not just yoga. You are never not enough for anything. You are just the right amount of you to do whatever it is you want to do.

Have an amazing weekend! We’ll chat soon! xx

 

 

 

Journal Series #1

Journal Series #1

Do you journal? I try to always keep with me something to write in for whenever I see or hear something interesting to me. If I experienced something that makes me laugh out loud. A random stray thought for a possible short story or just something I want to keep, an amusing voice that emerged from my internal monologue. Usually along the lines of what makes me laugh because aren’t those the things that make for the best memories?

A typical diary entry for me looks like this

I don't sneeze as loud as I used to. Still pretty loud though.
I don’t sneeze as loud as I used to. Still pretty loud though. Room to grow, room to grow.

Maybe think about giving it a go.* It’s a new week, why not? No pressure or anything, but you may find it interesting to have a look over the kind of things that catch your attention. Are they mostly positive or negative? Keeping a journal has been really helpful for me as a tool to practice mindfulness. You don’t need to be on best behaviour, just be natural! You don’t need to be cool.

What does ‘be cool’ even mean? I wouldn’t know.

Your scribblings are private, unless you post it on the internets like what I just did here, so you can feel completely safe about voicing and taking ownership of what is going on inside your mind. Observe your thoughts, without judgement, and just practise being a witness. This is step one in approaching stillness and calmness. These journals you keep become a crucible for your thoughts. And then eventually you can start to observe, whether or not, your insides match your outsides.

Journals don’t need to be extensive insightful works of art. This is where I lost focus and used to give up the exercise after a few days. The idea of having to produce fantastically clever essays in tidy journals used to put me off because I essentially gave myself performance anxiety. I was getting all angsty about making the leap from my 9 year old self who wrote things like “Today I had school. It was nice.” to Homer and writing the sequel to Odyssey. The pressure was just TOO MUCH and I was getting self-conscious with myself. I would look back on what I wrote a few weeks back and groannnJust don’t get too worked up the way I did, like most things, getting to know your internal voice takes some getting used to. Practice kindness! Be kind to yourself! Don’t get too serious about it!

(Now I remind me of my neighbour. Yelling words of kind encouragement. You KNOW I mean well.)

You might be able to tell sometimes my internal voice does not take me seriously at all. Sometimes meaning most times.

Oh! Speaking of exciting, something else I did today besides sneeze loudly: I learnt how to really, really get the tarnish off my silver jewellery really, really quick and easy. Because who has time to sit there really, REALLY polishing silver like an extra on Downton Abbey? Not us.

The results are very satisfying. I don’t mean to sound like an infommercialinfomercialinformercial, informmercialI GIVE UP, infommercial. If you’re interested, I’ll be posting the how-to up in the next few days. I’m heading next door to say hello to my neighbour.

My spell check insists that ‘infommercial’ should be spelt ‘informercial’ or ‘infomercial’. Mmm, I don’t know, you guys. I’m experiencing that face a person makes when a word looks wrong even when spell check says otherwise. Help me out?

*Hmm, realised after posting that the rules of grammar would suggest I meant sneezing loudly and then hiding. And then I found the idea that I suggest people sneeze loudly very funny indeed so not bothering. Can we pretend I was using a witty writing device?

Stay Weird

Stay Weird

Did you watch the Oscars this year? One of my favourite parts was when screenwriter Graham Moore gave his acceptance speech  and said the following:

“When I was 16 years old, I tried to kill myself… because I felt like I did not belong. And now I am standing here… for that kid out there, who thinks she’s weird or she’s different.”

You do belong! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vGF8bzeRwcw

YES YOU DO. I PROMISE YOU DO.

And stay weird, we need more people like you. X