Many years ago (many? errr it was long enough!), I accompanied some of the people I knew to a photo shoot for a book on yoga.
They needed some photos for back bends and asked me if I could do the modelling. I said sure! I thought I had a flexible back, (cue narrator voice, “she did not have that flexible a back“) no worries, what do you need. I thought I was helping. Helping who?
Can you guess how this ends?
I got into wheel pose, fresh, not very warmed up as practice was already a few hours ago. All fine, do this do that, ok we got the pictures. Man did I feel twingey that night! And I never had back problems so it was pretty alarming.
Pride comes before a fall but also before a backbend before you are properly warmed up. A little wordy but it gets the message across.
To this day, I don’t even know if the book ended up getting published and if the photos were really used.
I’ve learned since that jumping to attention and trying to people please is not the wisest move. You can pause and work up to it.
Something for me to laugh about.
Have you had this type of lesson?
I burst out laughing yesterday afternoon when I saw my phone alert. I have a meditation app as do many of us these days (an app for everything, no?!) and on the dot at 3pm it pinged me.
There are two mistakes along the way to mastery: Not starting and not going all the way.Buddha
I wasn’t laughing at the quote, more that I had just seen another video from Shaolin Temple about discipleship, quite a funny video in which the proposed disciple was constantly evading his master (Sifu) and his upcoming haircut. I had been thinking about how when it is time to practice, just practice don’t think about excuses and I had confirmed with myself that 3pm was afternoon practice time. That was when my phone pinged me and I saw the quote which is the same one used by Sifu too. It just all seemed very … oh never mind, stop thinking just go practice.
(Do you know what I mean though?)
Here is something I am working on in my yoga practice. Trying to improve my flexibility, if you intend to try, please warm up first with sun salutations or something similar. The aim in this is to keep the upper body in the middle, and to creep the hand holding the strap down the strap to the ankle. Honestly I find manouvering my hand down in this fashion quite confusing because up is down and left is right and where am I who am I hahaha. But it’s a pretty groovy experience all the same, I kind of… enjoyed the strangeness? Give it a try!
What are you doing this weekend? Something? Nothing? Everything? Haha, here are some suggestions, let me know what you enjoyed!
I felt the surge of jealousy the other day. It’s not a feeling I experience very often anymore but this time, oooooooh, I was so envious. I was jealous of a woman walking down the street hugging a yoga mat because she was off to a yoga class, I’m guessing. I managed to add a “Enjoy!” to the “Ahhhhh so lucky!” but there is no getting away from the fact I was jealous.
I haven’t been to a class since having my baby. I’ve done some home practice and teaching but I haven’t been to a class and felt that sensation of being surrounded with other people breathing, moving, sun saluting, chanting and so on in such a long time. The excitement of clutching your mat and padding over to the studio, flip flops slapping at the ground as you walked. Being tapped on the shoulder to be stronger in a posture. Being adjusted. I miss it a lot. Especially an adjustment. That would be so nice!
I’ve been teaching yoga for a few years but I still love going to class as a student. I think it’s really important.
I’m sure I am not the only parent who has missed something from before life changed for a long time. For the most part, I am fine with keeping up my yoga studies on my own but once in a while I feel off. Full moon, new moon, teething (the baby, not me), mercury retrograde, sleep schedule changes (everyone), jet-lag, any of the above could come into play and suddenly I find myself feeling out of sorts.
I think The Child sensed this because whenever we have been playing with our crystals I keep winding up with them being planted all over me hahaha.
Mama, check yo chakras.
Yoga, Pilates and meditation are what I always rely on to maintain myself and I loved attending a class when I needed an extra boost of encouragement so it’s tricky when I haven’t got the chance to go to a class. Most of the year we live overseas and there isn’t any kind of creche at the gym. Unless the gym has changed, I don’t know, I haven’t seen the inside of that place since having my baby hahaha.
BUT. This week I’m back in Sydney and my mum sweetly said she would take the baby whilst I ducked into class, tomorrow. I am SO EXCITED. And nervous. ???? Hahaha. Does it count as an opportunity I created? Well, I thought so hard about wanting to go experience being in a class that mum heard my brain. She’s a huge mind reader and the creator this time around. But I think the next opportunity will be created by my ASKING FOR HELP. I know I am not the only parent who has to practice that move more. Not everyone is a mind reader like my mum. We need to speak up!
I hope you give yourself the opportunity to realign when you need to. xx
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!
Here comes a Moon Day.
I love reading what this app tells me I am. Focussed! Alright! Yes! I’m ready! But also practical! I like that. Ambitious. Yes. Yup. I’m with you.
(I love that anyone anywhere in the world would likely read this description and think, yes this is soooooo me.)
Speaking of ambitious, are you a big list writer? I have huge lists of things I want to get done and buy and posts I would like to write. I have an embarrassingly long list of partially done drafts I need want to get through to finally post them. But as can happen wife gets in the way. That’s right, I get in my own way – I’m working on my follow through. One of my biggest stumbling blocks is those darn danging lists! They get longer and longer until I just feel totally overwhelmed. On other days I get in the “that’s it! today is the day I tackle everything I wanted done” mood and tadaaah 9.3/10 times* that is the very same day that nothing goes according to plan. Time to just breathe and go with the flow. Easier said than done when you’ve been looking forward to crossing things off a list.
As if I needed any more lists, I made a new list called My Contingency List. When it turns out nothing is going to plan I pull this out.
My Contingency List
- Yoga – any kind, any duration
- Meditation – any kind, any duration, with intention to remove obstacles and blocks
That is the list. I can add anything else to it but the only things I MUST MUST MUSTTTTTTT do is these two. Once I do the first two items I find I’m not so attached to anything else I previously thought had to be done. Life feels a whole lot easier and happier after that.
Even just thinking about a yoga posture can have a calming effect.
Something interesting often happens too – what I thought was stopping me from getting to whatever else I wanted to do suddenly dissolves. I end up getting more things done. For example, The Child (TC) usually has a nap around midday and I think of that time as my run around in a frenzy trying to tidy things away, shower, shave my legs, prepare lunch, prep dinner, read, relax and a million other things to be squeezed in if possible. All this requires the nap be LONGISH. But on a day like today I was out running errands and the nap was 30 minutes. Our window of time had closed for the day. Not the end of the world, I can do some things just not all the things and not to the extent I would if I were on my own. I think a lot of mums understand.
I was talking to my mum about this whole trying to let go of expectations business and THE LIST. What am I even doing? Living in the shadow of these things I need to get done or else I can’t be happy?! Again I totally think a lot of mums and just everyone in general understands this idea.
Out came the contingency list. I did some yoga for spine health with TC doing downward facing dogs that turned into roly-polys (I know, WHAT A SHOWOFF). I like this yoga set because I can do it seated haha. How quickly I go from a productive mood to lazy mood! If you have never done this set of exercises be warned, you can get a little sore afterwards!
After that I did a short meditation to clear subconscious blocks. To do this, I pick a happy song, set my intention to clear any obstacles and infuse everything with positivity, and then I sit, smiling and clapping my hands to the song. The hand clapping is partly to keep TC engaged but also it feels hard not to be cheerful when you are clapping away. I also played this track I really like for humming Om to.
After this I just felt really good about going where the day took me.
The day took me on a walk to brunch.
And later it turned out TC wanted an afternoon nap so I even got to chop loads of veggies to stir fry when TC woke up. We make our dinner together as part of our evening routine. It is just as well because one evening I was so flat out trying to do everything that after washing the rice I was about to walk off without pushing the lever to start the rice cooker. If TC hadn’t been gesturing at the rice cooker we would have been riceless. Riceless! *shudder*
I tried out my Joseph Joseph noodle maker thingy again and again it was a just the most disappointing thing ever. Totally does not work for me. It’s just a really expensive container now.
I’ve been really into eating as many colour vegetables as possible. I keep calling my veggie stir fries “chakra stir fries”. Technically they are.
I’m pretty happy with how the day turned out.
* Not a real statistic but golly it feels that way
** Also: I did not get paid for my opinion on the Full Moon App or Joseph Joseph. I bought that noodle maker thingy with my own money and I downloaded the free version of the Full Moon App for my own use.
I’m also researching how to get yellow poop stains out. So, REALLY busy.
What’s with diapers that don’t do their one job? C’mon diaper, you had ONE thing to do.
This is a simple but really effective exercise to learn how to build strength and understand the movement behind transitioning into a seated position from Downward Facing Dog/Plank.
Add this to your regular practice as part of working towards jumping through.
Let me know how you go and thanks so much for watching!
Have an amazing day!
Rule of thumb in your practice of yoga: Be comfortable so you can be calm.
If you aren’t comfortable when you meditate, you probably won’t come back. So if you aren’t comfortable, review, modify or adjust. A lot of times people seem to fear making adjustments and have to be exactly like the picture in the text book. There seems to be some concern that if you don’t do it like the picture you aren’t doing yoga. I say don’t worry so much, focus on practising SAFELY to get the maximum benefits that you can at any given point in time. Your body is constantly changing so why wouldn’t your practice evolve accordingly?
The idea is to make practice sustainable so you can carry on practising for the rest of your life. Just to be clear, I don’t mean for you to slouch your way through your set of yoga postures! Ahhhh, so comfortable. NO. You’ll need to be actively participating in your chosen posture: think of every fibre of your being as awake and alert but not tense.
As an example, below are some modifications that you can make in Virabhadrasana I (Warrior I), a fundamental posture that is the cause of a lot of worry over alignment for many people and can be challenging to sustain for some. Mr Iyengar writes in Light on Yoga, “All standing poses are strenuous, this pose in particular. It should not be tried by persons with a weak heart. Even people who are fairly strong should not stay long in this asana.”
So let’s look at how we can make you more warrior and less worrier here, ok? Ok.
IMPORTANT: I’ll add here that if you are pregnant, you may find that standing postures are definitely too tiring to attempt in your first trimester. That was the case for me, but towards the end of my first trimester it felt GOOD to be in the posture and I absolutely love it in my third trimester now. Alternatively you may be just dandy hanging out here. Be aware of any signals your body throws your way. Your yoga practice may be altered during pregnancy but that doesn’t make it less yogic. Never force!
Virabhadrasana I, here we come:
Start in standing, arms above the head (palms touching) with the legs about 4 feet apart.
Swivel to the right, turning the right foot to face forwards and the left foot slightly to the right (see below).
Bend the right knee until the thigh is parallel to the floor, knee above the ankle.
Keep the left leg engaged in one long line.
Look up towards the palms, letting the head drop back.
20 to 30 seconds in the posture (each side) with normal breathing is plenty but if you find yourself getting breathless, stay calm and exit a little sooner. This is a tough posture so don’t get discouraged! Start with 5 seconds next time and build up your stamina. I used to find this posture tiring, my arms ached from holding them up and my thighs BURNED. Now I don’t even notice such things and truly enjoy the posture. The key was to practice patiently.
If your shoulders seem to be bunching up around your jaw then keep the palms parallel instead of touching (see below).
(The legs are a little closer together here so that you can see the placement of the both feet. But if you find too intense a stretch in the groin, then by all means have the legs a little closer together like this!)
If you have high blood pressure, keep your arms down (see below) – placing them on your hips is a great way to check the alignment of your hips. In Virabhadrasana I the body faces forwards. Women may experience high blood pressure in pregnancy – be aware of this and modify accordingly.
If you feel dizzy, don’t look up but look straight ahead or down instead (see below).
Or don’t look up so high (see below).
If you have neck issues, don’t look up but look straight ahead or down instead (see below).
If the posture is too strenuous to begin with, have the front thigh a little higher than parallel to the floor (see below). Keep actively engaging the muscles in the leg though!
There you go, I hope that helps you to find more ease and comfort as a Warrior.
Let me know if there is anything else bothering you in your Warrior pose and I’ll be happy to make some suggestions! All the best in your practice! x
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:
Be well and be radiant! xoxo