I have been doing Qi Gong everyday following the videos uploaded on the channel I mentioned in the last post, by Master Shi Heng Yi. I noticed that the video I linked in my last post is not available now, hopefully not gone forever. In the meantime here is an alternative one you can use. I do this when I am very short on time many things to do, at least 20 minutes were for my practice, then I go take care of my tasks, practice some more later in the day and evening. There are many minutes in 24 hours!
Please try and let me know what you think. How wonderful if we are all practising qigong, yoga and meditation around the world.
So what is a good meditator? The one who meditates.” – Allan Lokos
Just start! Even one minute of meditation is better than nothing. If even one minute seems like forever start slow, try counting to ten, next time to twenty, slowly increasing the time you spend in meditation. You are a good meditator the moment you start to meditate!
“perhaps just get more kind to yourself and those around you”
— apt words from my June horoscope
Once in a while I’ll stumble upon a horoscope, article, instagram and marvel at how perfectly these small happenings are timed to lessons and themes I am currently working on. For instance, the last few months have been really focused on the concept of kindness and softness. They’re NOT easy! It has taken so long for me to break down my need to never show softness and never backdown to really embrace how being soft can be a different kind of strength. Life isn’t just about how good a smackdown you can give or how feisty you can be. It’s terrifying and exhilarating to find that within all that being gentle, deep down there is a reservoir of true strength to withstand all outside forces as well as all the inner crazy. The best defence may be a good offence in sports but in life the best defence is inner strength.
Continuously working on the ability to stay perfectly gracefully still despite everything going on will build up your strength reserves mentally as well as physically. You’ll only get stronger this way and you’ll always feel centered, because your center is strong! Today’s drill is the perfect physical illustration of that wonderful kooky circular logic. You’re staying as still as you can, whilst working on strengthening your core and you won’t need to do a single crunch, hurray! It works for me and I hope it will for you too. Try it and let me know!
Enough chit-chat from me, let’s do this.
THE STAY STILL [Working title I’m sticking with this – besides aren’t we over ‘labels’ already?]
Repeat this exercise 3 to 5 times, several times a week and you’ll definitely feel stronger physically and hopefully get closer to experiencing grace under pressure, even if it’s merely during the course of a yoga class. It will be worth it – eventually that grace will translate to beyond your physical class!
Start in a kneeling position
Place your hands either side of your knees
Lean your weight into your hands and press strongly into the ground as you exhale
Breathe your belly button in and up towards your spine
On your next exhalation squeeze your knees towards your chest
Hold as you breathe in and out for 5 rounds of breathing (something like the picture above)
Inhale and squeeze your knees in a little more then
Lower down on your next exhalation. (Finally!)
Advance this by squeezing one heel off the floor and hold.
Super advance this by squeezing both heels off the floor. You’re basically ready to levitate.
If it feels horrible for the front of your feet then you can start off kneeling with your toes tucked under. As you press up you will come high up onto your toes. When you’re stronger you can try again with your feet flat.
Your back will naturally round — go with that instinct.
Use your midsection to pull your knees into the curve of your body. Squeezing your inner thighs together will help activate your core just that extra more. As much of your weight is off the floor, not just dangling into the fronts of your feet.
Even though your back is rounded, don’t hunch your shoulders into your ears! And don’t scrunch your face! All the work is deep, deep down in your core. The rest of you is to resemble the surface of still water.
What it do?
I’m glad you asked. This will work your entire core as well as your ability to maintain your straight-arm strength. With your knees sucked in as close to your body as you can you’ll notice how hard your belly is working to keep that knees to chest connection going. The back gets a great stretch too.
Alternatives for wrist issues
Just do the same thing but laying on your back and imagine your pressing your hands into the ceiling and pushing it away. You’ll still get all the benefits and you’ll have a great time curling your body away from the floor. NOT EASY. You’ll know you’re doing it right because you’ll just know.
You can build up as you get stronger by doing the alternative in addition. Make the two versions part of your regular strength exercise.
B and I started a 40 day practice this month. Usually we have our own activities we like to do in order to feel good: mine would be yoga, Pilates, watching old TV shows, and his would be basketball (REAL and XBOX). This month we decided that the New Moon would be the perfect time to start a shared daily practice for 40 days to boost our energy and spirit levels.
We are STILL doing our favourite activities, naturally!
Everyday we practice a set sequence of yoga postures, followed by mantra meditation and we drink a green drink that I labelled our ‘Elixir’. This last part is major because B has never been on board with drinking anything green although I feel like that’s being very picky since he is slightly colour blind anyway? For all he knows it could be pink? SUDDENLY he can tell it’s green. I mean.
The mantra we chant is personal to each of us but I’ll share mine with you below. We chant out loud and with confidence, 11 times and then we sit quietly and let things marinate.
Somedays we do our practice in the evening like last night when we came home from a wedding party. We showered, changed and stepped on our mats. Then we had our green drink. We slept like babies even with both of us recovering from the flu.
It feels wonderful!
To go along with our 40 day practice we also cut out coffee. I typically drink a lot of coffee, alarming amounts even, but I’ve never had any issue with stopping. I never even get headaches if I go without coffee but it’s that comfort factor that I like. I love comfort! So when I want a warm drink I’ll make myself a Coconut Maca drink. I’m having one righttttttt now.
I’m very lucky I’ve never enjoyed soft drinks and I drink a lot of room temperature water. Even warm water in a mug can be comforting. I make a ritual out of heating the water up, choosing a favourite mug (B and I both like to hog the same mugs) and then enjoying the steam puff up. It’s all about the ritual and process! Aren’t humans funny?
We started out as a very small community of just two, but in just over a week a few of our friends have started to join in. One of my girlfriends asked for a shopping list so she could run out and grab all the ingredients for the ‘elixir’ the very next morning.
Which is great! The more the merrier, and slowly little by little we generate more good vibes. If you would like to join us (we’d love to have you!) feel free to come up with your own mantra, or use mine:
B goes through these phases of having a current word that he loves to use. His current one is ’empower’. Not a bad one to have. He uses it in a work context, empowering this associate, that manager, this director, etc.
We all know that I love myself some weheartit action. Whaddya know, there is an inspiration gallery on weheartit called ‘Empowerment’! Hello, this is Synchronicity calling. Oh, it’s for us! So, this gallery on weheartit is girl-power focused but there’s some stuff in there to support all genders as well. The images that caught my eye the most were the ones that remind me that girls need to support other girls. You know the ones:
One of my favourite comedians is Dylan Moran and he made an observation about women in one of his standups saying we will never have the rights we keep demanding because we keep bitching about each other. You could hear the sucked in breath of the audience, the outright guffaws of everyone, all the head nodding and people going, “Haha! So true!”.
I laughed too but on the inside, I was all, “Dammit, Team!”
A very good friend of mine once told me something when I expressed hurt feelings after discovering that someone I thought of as a very close friend had been talking about me behind my back. He said, “Dom, one of these days you’ll learn that not everyone likes everyone and not everyone will like you.”
Stranger things, hey. What are you gunna do.
I was like “Waaaaaaahhhh I don’t wanna learn” (The sound of me experiencing history repeating.)
Flashback to trying to introduce my different best friends in junior school to each other which felt like walking face on into a brick wall. Very painful. They all hated each other. For no reason that I could see. I liked them, we seemed to like similar things hence the bff-ness, so why didn’t they like each other? At least one of them explicitly stated, “If she’s coming, I’m not coming.” Tea parties and movie outings got very tricky.
My squads were more like Noah’s ark passengers and only came in sets of two. No chance of starting a girl band which is a shame because one of my bffs and I had this great dance routine down ahahahaha cue my #squadgoals gallery.
It was actually a killer routine, ok.
“This could have been us but you hatin’.“
Another odd thing that I observed over time was the refusal of women to accept each other.
Have you ever heard someone say, “Yes but she’s ugly.” as a means to downplay that person’s competence or worth? Or if someone is being praised for an accomplishment, another person says, “Too bad she’s fat.” Or about someone who has the figure of someone who works out alot, “She’s probably bulimic.” Or about someone who is beautifully dressed, “She’s a bimbo.” Or about someone who is just generally a lovely person, well off, doing well in her chosen field, beautiful inside and out, you might hear, “But she’s still single hey.”
This hating thing seems to be something that has really picked up over the last couple of years. I’ve been the subject of some hate too: I have been fat-shamed AND thin-shamed, but then hello, who hasn’t had a little shade thrown at them by this point? There’s so much of it to go around.
I don’t know if it has always been this way and I can’t speak to what guys talk about amongst themselves because I’m not a guy. But it feels horrible to me. This should not be the norm. Where have the compliments gone? I’m not interested in lip service and saying nice things that we don’t mean. But the more I see this sort of behaviour — and I know other people must be seeing this hence all the “Women empower each other” inspiration images — the more I think there seems to be this mindset that there is only a limited amount of beauty, brains, health, wealth, best friends, compliments, success, and other great things and it’s every woman for herself. We need to clear this misunderstanding up. There may be underlying issues like a feeling of lack (self-esteem, worth, value) and we need to deal with that too. Not that having issues is an excuse. We may not even be aware of any underlying issues. Although what kind of perfectly happy issue-free person walks around espousing hate? Happy people don’t kill people as Elle Woods puts it.
Hey girl, what lies beneath?
Dunno, but that won’t stop me from hating on other people.
And “she started it” is definitely not a valid reason, either.
The idea that a person may be deeply unhappy without even knowing suggests a general lack of awareness or cloudiness of mind. One of the Yoga Sutras talks about how to attain clarity of mind. It says, “Clarity of mind is produced by meditating on friendliness towards the happy, compassion toward the miserable, joy toward the virtuous, and indifference toward the wicked.” [1.33]
I think of this as one of several keys to ultimate freedom.
What better freedom can there be than to have total peace of mind? To not experience jealousy when one witnesses the success of another but to feel happy? Rather than tearing each other down and belittling the hard work of another we can feel inspired to do more and be more. No, we don’t need to do the old “Girls rule, boys suck” chant either. There is no need for us to put down another gender to feel better about our own. We don’t need to belittle someone else’s life to feel better about our own. True strength doesn’t depend on highlighting the weaknesses of others and we need to be stronger.
True strength NOT brute strength.
All of us are in this together and we have our own challenges to get through. My approach? Well, basically:
For those of us who have been bullied and pushed around: hey, you need to know that you’re a valuable person.
For those of us who have not made the best choice, let’s stop being so shady. I think kindness is a nicer shade on you.
So, if we really want world peace and universal love, let’s give ourselves permission to show each other kindness and find some peace. There are really important things happening out there, tearing each other down simply cannot be the way forward. This behaviour has become a bad habit but habits can be unlearned. It’s never too late to learn new tricks and bring about change. Change your thoughts, change your life.
Is there anything better than waking up to rain against the window pane at the end of a busy week? Not only a rainy day but a rest day for me. I still woke up hella early as usual but gosh, it felt like luxury to have all those hours. Today is a Moon Day and I am looking forward to taking rest from my usual morning yoga practice.
The constantly changing weather seems to be wreaking havoc on my body and after croaking my way through teaching this week, I could feel my voice leaving me for a well-earned vacation. Somewhere warm, I imagine. There was an ad years ago that showed a couple discussing where they would go for a holiday. The woman decided she would go to Phuket or somewhere like that and then the man promptly said he would go to Bali. Kind of reminded of that right now. Plenty of warm water and an early night seem to have done me the world of good today. Rest is always the crucial thing for me. If I don’t get enough of it, my body reminds me soon enough and then it will MAKE me have to take rest. I made some goals for myself this year and my body seems to have come up with a goal of its own for me – to take more time to rest.
What do you do when you get the day off?
I like to shower and get into my comfy home clothes, make a simple brekkie, perhaps apply a face mask, laze around reading books, think about a late lunch, more lazing, perhaps even take a nap?! Already I feel so much better than I have in days! It is so important to find time to rest. Later on I will do a little light stretching, some Pilates exercises. It’s still important to get the body moving! If it is to be a rest day like today, then I won’t do much in the way of chores, but I will wash any dishes and the towels. It feels better to know that the kitchen is clean and tidy. And later on I will be glad when we have fresh towels. Food will be the really simple kind. That seems to suit me best. Here’s what I ate so far:
Breakfast: Avocado on multi grain bread. I like to smear what is left in the shell on my face which as it dries seems to tighten my skin. Such an easy face mask, and afterwards when I finally remember to rinse it off my skin feels incredibly silky. I walked around with a green face for an hour before I remembered to go splash the avocado off. But not before I took the rubbish out and said hi to my neighbours. Nice.
Lunch: I’m avoiding anything oily or too salty so as not to upset my throat. And I am just crazy about turmeric in all my food so I steamed some rice with turmeric and garlic. After the rice was perfectly cooked, I lifted up the lid, threw in some green vegetables, cracked an egg, and tossed in some white mushrooms. I’m so chill right now I can’t recall what they are called exactly, possibly oyster mushrooms? Anyway, I close the lid so the steam doesn’t billow out and instead stays inside and perfectly cooks all those toppings. This is one of my favourite ways to make a meal and I’m glad my body seems to love this type of food too.
A few years ago I was working as a lawyer for a construction company, and all of us, and I truly mean the entire legal department, went through a phase of being obsessed with the hot chips from the cafe downstairs. They were so delicious we couldn’t get enough! Of course we completely overdid it one afternoon and I went home with the most terrible headache. I was so thirsty and all I wanted was steamed broccoli. When I went back the next day I found out I wasn’t the only one with a hot chip hangover. Yikes!
Back to my lunch. So, after a few minutes of gentle steaming the white of the egg is glossy and opaque, that’s when I know it is perfect. You may like your egg a little more firm but I like the yolk to be slightly oozy. My grandma used to make me gooey eggs like this and she would tell me it was my mum’s favourite way to eat eggs, and she called it “suo suo dan“; “dan” being the word for egg and “suo suo” being the action you make when you try to slurp up the goo. I still describe my eggs like that to this day. As to flavour, I just dash a very small amount of light soy sauce and sesame oil over the top. You can add white pepper, chopped chillies, coriander, but I’m happy with this and so is my tummy. Can there be anything better than having a warm feeling in the belly when it’s raining outside?
What nice things will you make for yourself to eat this weekend? xx
So legend has it that when you can’t sleep at night it is because you are awake in someone else’s dream.
Please stop dreaming about me whoever you are.
Aaaaaaaahahahahaha allow me to cackle away merrily whilst you take the time to roll your eyes.
I’ve been struggling to sleep properly and it seems to be some sort of excess nervous energy from prepping to go home for the holidays. This time next week I will be back home and ohmigoshonlyafewmoresleepstogoooooooooooooosomanythingstodosolittletimetodoitin.
You know those jitters?
Verrrrrry similar to the kind a kid gets the night before Christmas. Who could possibly sleep?! It’s just all too exciting. TOO being the keyword. Too much going on. Around us and inside our heads. Without an outlet to channel all the excitement into, those sensations spill over everywhere and amplify existing feelings.
There is a lot happening during holiday season and all that change can be stressful on a body.
Resisting the change causes friction which leaves me restless and kinda twitchy. Then as I lose sleep I become tired and cranky. The cycle continues on a loop. When I was younger I couldn’t figure out how to settle myself down and found myself buffeted along by the things that kept happening TO me no matter how hard I tried to avoid them or take full control. I felt so resentful and frustrated. Did I have a target on my back?
Now I kind of understand it is up to me to decide if I want to struggle and kick my way along or flow through change. But the way is always THROUGH the obstacles or the change. And whilst I can control some aspects there are many others that I can’t. Discerning what I can and can’t change, much like the serenity prayer, are key to giving me the space I need to regain a sense of calm.
Try reading the next two paragraphs out loud slowly and with intent:
I remember that I can control my breathing. I can inhale fully and exhale completely. I can move my body as I breath slowly and deeply. I can give complete attention to moving my body with my breath.
And with that I feel my heart rate calm down, my stomach ceases to twist into knots, my eyebrows unfurrow and my mind quietens and I move into stillness. Then I can sleep soundly and deeply. I wake up feeling joyful and excited about my days. I will nourish my body with fuel so I have energy to go about my day. I will move my body because it feels good to be active. I look forward to anything that comes my way. I feel content with the present moment because it is perfect.
I hope following along to this short video helps equip you with a sense of calm as you go about preparing yourself for this holiday season. Please practice safely and take good care of yourself.
How was your cyber weekend? I tried to get into the sale action but I found myself overwhelmed by all the sale windows popping up on my ‘puter. And also we had some major blackouts so that just felt like a sign from the universe.
“No shopping for you, specifically, you. You means Dominique.“
I didn’t have anything I needed or simply wanted but tried to pass of as needed anyway. And I found myself thinking why don’t we just have everything 20% or 30% or 35% or whatever% off year round and we will buy it when we want to. The sort of “I’ll call you” type of response to an invitation to tender. You too? Yeah.
A girlfriend and I were chatting and figured if groceries had a cyber Monday though, different story. But groceries being groceries and economics working the way they do, that didn’t happen. So instead I saved my pennies and worked on editing a video I filmed just before my trip to Bali.
Oh yeah, haha, I went to Bali for a few days. And all I came back with was a lovely time, great memories, a full tummy and a tan. Tell you all about it another time, I really want to post this video first, if it ever finishes uploading though. A little tricky with all the power blackouts we have been having.
So let’s chat a bit more about what we’re doing in today’s video whilst this baby loads.
This is a preparatory posture. Some people will know the full version of this pose as Flying Pigeon Pose or One Legged Pigeon Balance. In Sanskrit this pose is called Eka Pada Galavasana. People tend to drop the Eka Pada when referring to the posture and just say Galavasana although B.K.S. Iyengar listed Galavasana and Eka Pada Galavasana as two different postures with the latter being the one we will prep for here.
Gimme a second to squint and count, yep, got the right number of vowels in there. Sometimes one needs to check, you know?
Some Sanskrit here: Eka means one and Pada means leg… soo far so got it. Galavasana is the pose named after the sage Galava. The word for pigeon is Kapota. I know, I know, confusing! When I first started paying attention to the names of postures a lot of them just sounded like Something Something Blah Asana. I just couldn’t get a handle on the front part. And I got a whole lot worse before I got anywhere near better by the time I went for training.
Every second sentence out of me was, “Whaddjyamacallthis?” As soon as I managed to remember one name I’d promptly forget the previous one I had learned.
But a lot of people will know what you are talking about if you happen to mention flying pigeon. But you’d both need to be talking about yoga postures otherwise things just get really confusing obvs. The shape of that front bent leg leaning against your arms is the same as the one-legged version of the posture performed on the floor. Just know that the pose goes by more than one name.
I am calling this version we are attempting Itty Bitty Pigeon Pose because that back leg is not yet stretched out as in the full expression of the posture, it’s still tucked in close to the body. This makes it a little easier to focus on locating that exact tipping point you need to get the balance going. And here we thought we’d never see the likes of Physics again after high school.
The video is pretty straight forward, but make sure you are warmed up before you launch. For example you can go for a 20 minute march around the block, or you can do a few rounds of Sun Salutations, or a few cycles of my easy to do 2 minute yoga sequence (here).
Yoga is all about expressing curiosity and learning new things. So once you are up, try stretching out that floating leg and see what happens! Fly, birdie, fly!
[gasp] I’m flying, Jack!
C’mon, if I didn’t say it someone else would have. What a line. And they totally could have both fit on that door. Move over Rose, blimey.
IMPORTANT: Please be aware that if you are not yet comfortable in a plank position, you may still need a little more time before you visit this. Don’t rush! In the Ashtanga practice for instance, this posture is in the third series. THIRD! There are people (cough, me included) who may or may not just stay in Primary for the rest of our lives. B.K.S. Iyengar rated the intensity of this posture as 21, the most difficult posture being 60. So take it easy, slow and steady. Taking the time now to develop a strong foundation, smelling the roses along the way, will save you the heartache of hurrying before you are ready and perhaps even hurting yourself. You need to be careful and practice safely. Be kind! Enjoy the scenic route! How often do we get the luxury of taking things slow?
Questions? Holla! Feel free to discuss down below any of the following:
Who B.K.S. Iyengar?
Is this still yoga?
What does Galavasana look like then?
What does it take to rate a 60?
Who Jack? (Where have you been…)
What door? (See above re: Jack)
Does anyone else feel terrified when they see flying pigeons IRL?
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?
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.
It’s important to be yourself!
Serving suggestions are not serving rules.
“What is up with your hot brother?”
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?
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.
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.
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.
So how was your weekend? I hope you had a wonderful weekend and a week ahead filled with magical white pebbles. xx