Yoga in practice

Today would have been my last 2 scheduled studio classes before taking a break from teaching in the run up to baby’s birth. I decided to cancel the class- something I don’t do lightly because I know today I do not have the energy to give.

This process of pregnancy so far has been an amazing opportunity to practice yoga, as it manifests in living, and to reflect on the challenges of just that.

Immediately I felt out of control of my body. I trust it totally- it seems to know what it’s doing- but I have had very little say once the innate processes of pregnancy were put in motion. Apart from the obvious foundation of support I can offer my body- looking after myself- I have had to practice letting go, surrendering, daily. I thought I practiced this on my yoga mat, but it is one thing to sit with yourself as you are, or to be in savasana/ corpse pose, (a practice designed to prepare us for the ultimate surrendering of the body) it is another thing to accept yourself fully as you navigate through life adapting and accommodating change. Of course the first is preparation for the second.

It is in the nature of accommodating and accepting that I decided to significantly decrease my teaching and will take my last class for a while at the beginning of December. I am very happy with my decision and so grateful for the fact that I am able to adjust the energy I am expending in this way, I know many women don’t have that luxury when it comes to work. Despite the knowledge and sense behind these changes I have found my ego popping up more frequently (perhaps it’s all the extra time on my hands!) Ego is frustrated by the opportunities that I am not able to pursue, concerned by the effect that a break in teaching  now may have on the future. Ego looks at other non pregnant teachers and feels jealous of their brimming schedules, ego looks at pregnant teachers and feels inadequate in comparison.  Observing and quietening the ego has been a large part of my practice of late, in a strange way I have enjoyed the sense of conflict arising, it makes me think of a definition of Hatha- forceful- as if in the heat of this point of conflict resolution and balance can be obtained.

By practicing kindness to myself (ahimsa) and non grasping/greed (aparigraha) I feel as though I am strengthening not muscle but mind, not movement patterns but patterns of behavior. I hope that this will make not only my pregnancy a more positive experience but also deepen my formal and informal practice of yoga- and eventually when I’m ready again my teaching.

 

 

Learning Curve

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My latest learning curve has come in the form of a round eminence slowly taking hold of my midriff. A baby bump. For the past 5 months I have been practicing for 2. One of us has had more demands than the other.

I am a big thinker and the thought of becoming a parent is not something I haven’t masticated endlessly over in my mind. How to keep a child safe yet not stifled, how to teach ethical and moral values and raise a person that is both strong and sensitive. Yet for all the forethought I never considered this 9 months in transition and how change and concession would occur immediately. The learning starts now.

It turns out pregnancy can be really hard- (and I am lucky to say that I am healthy and low risk.) And I refer to my own unique experience SO FAR aware that the next few months may be totally distinct. I know at some point these sensations that seem so potent now will lose there potency and pregnancy will seem like a brief spell in a hazy waiting room.

Before our baby was the size of an almond I was aware I was not on my own any more. My practice, which I knew would certainly change once baby is born, was already not just mine. Vomiting and nausea struck through out the day worsened by any slight movement meaning asana was out of the question. Even meditation made (and still does) make me feel queasy. And so my practice became totally mental, as the significance of the Yamas and Niyamas took precedence, keeping strength of mind was vital when I physically felt weak and out of control. My yoga practice became a way to observe and ease the sense of guilt I was experiencing over not being able to work, to cook, to clean, to shop, to reply to emails, to get out of bed. My yoga practice became a way to cultivate patience and a sense of gratitude that I knew I was not ill, this was simply a waiting game. My yoga practice encouraged me to be kind to myself during this wait. I read, I practiced yoga nidra regularly and took restorative yoga poses to maintain a sense of spaciousness in my body. And I waited. I googled for other yoga teachers advice on continuing teaching throughout pregnancy and was disheartened by how easy it seemed other people managed. I ignored instagram for weeks, baby bumps in complex yoga postures seemed so laughable I could have cried. Guilt, observe, ease, patience, gratitude, kindness. I stopped teaching completely, rested, waited.

And thankfully I now feel so much better. I am teaching, I feel I have something to offer again and the capacity with which to offer it. I am able to practice some kind of asana daily though it is not just my practice any more. I am enjoying learning what feels good, healthy and sustainable. I often say to my students that each time we come onto our yoga mat we have a slightly different body, a slightly different set of conditions. I am practicing what I preach.

Discipline

Did you know the Latin origin of ‘Discipline’ means to ‘impart knowledge’ or to ‘enlighten’
🙏

I recently dedicated a space (a few floor tiles) to my yoga practice. I arranged a small altar, a candle for focus, a little bit of nature for inspiration and perspective and a jolly fat Buddha that my dad gave me years ago, because it makes me smile.
I can’t believe the difference this has made for my self practice. Since I created this space and began the ritual of lighting a candle I haven’t missed a morning’s practice.
The effects of regular and disciplined practice are really amazing. It helps keep you grounded, balanced and centred. A constant amongst all the inconsistency. As a bit of a free spirit, chuck the mat down any where any time, kind of girl, my eyes have been opened by this kind of routine. 🙉

HAPPY YOGA DAY

It is the second International Yoga Day!

I am reflecting on the essence of yoga, and how I can truly live my practice.

How a physical practice creates ripples that ebb their way into all aspects of life. How practice cannot be contained by a mat or a pair of leggings, or even a physical body.

Yoga is amazing, it feels good, it feels good to touch your toes, to breathe deeply, when your body is strong and fit and your mind is steady, stretching can feel profound but there are times when you can’t move so well, when energy levels change, when moods turn. How can your practice remain consistent through those times. Pause, step away from your narrative and find a sense of presence, observing whatever arises, a sense of awareness of the physical body, sensations, small movements. Above all practice kindness and compassion- Ahimsa. Thank yourself for your efforts, respect yourself when you face challenges, be kind to yourself always.

Remove expectations of what a yoga practice ‘should’ be or ‘should’ look like, remove guilt and judgement. Awareness, kindness and compassion, acceptance are the essential ingredients to a yoga practice.

 

Namaste

 

A GIFT OF BEING PRESENT

WHERE IS MY MIND

WHERE IS MY MIND

WHERE IS MY MIND

WAY OUT IN THE WATER, SEE IT SWIMMING.

As a child familiar with seemingly ever lasting car journeys I was often exclaimed at to ‘wake up and look at the view’.  I couldn’t care less, it was like the view wasn’t real, like it was a picture of a view and I could see a picture of a view any time. When we arrived to our destination, usually southern Spain, I didn’t believe I was really anywhere different. I hadn’t processed the journey, I wasn’t really there, the whole time I had been in my mind. I would be thinking about my narrative, my story, what my friends and all the other characters would be doing without me. What it would be like when I returned. When I engaged with my present experience it was only through inner narration of what I would tell people about so and so, this and that when I returned. I was totally Self absorbed, lost in my own mind, convinced that was the control centre for the whole world unfolding in front of my eyes, convinced that what was behind my eyes was real, what was in front was just for me. A trained mind can be positively powerful, an untrained mind can be very vulnerable.

When I would face something I didn’t want to face and suffered anxiety for a disproportionate time in advance of whatever event, I came up with a clever mechanism.. I would try and turn my mind off, decide I was going to coast through said event and wake myself when it was all over, only thinking forward to that moment when it would all be in the past. Retrospectively I realise this did little to salve my anxiety and rather left me numb through various significant times in my life. I missed opportunities to engage with challenges, to learn and come out stronger. I gave up valuable moments of living.

As I got older I found myself miserable at work. I had such high hopes and expectations growing up and the reality of how boring life could be for such a large proportion of the week shocked me. I switched off. Off for the week days, up as late as possible to bathe in my own time, alert and fully engaged for Saturday and then drenched in dread on Sunday when the week ahead loomed. With little daylight during the week I began to train myself to be totally present as I waited for my train in the morning. I fed my eyes with greenery looking up at Crouch Hill’s treetops. I basked in Vitamin D. The more aware and appreciative  I became of every little moment of pleasure and joy, the more I truly engaged and was present in these moments, the more bearable the rest of the week could be. I stopped coasting and really evaluated what was going on. It didn’t mean I loved my job and eventually I left. In complete consciousness. I changed direction to find something I could enjoy in the moment.

I notice how disproportionately time moved. A moment is a moment yet some would occupy my mind for months, others would be over and never even noticed. There is a negative bias and we need to actively work to even this out. What if we valued each moment equally. No moment is more than any other.

I feel anxious sometimes, but much less fequently. I don’t bury it, I can better watch it now. I am older and I know the whole world isn’t there just for me, just for my eyes. When I see something beautiful now I really sense it. I use my senses a lot more. When I see vast mountain ranges in southern Spain I don’t feel like I am looking at a picture. I feel a part of the mountains, I feel like I have come home to myself.

Someone I met in Dubai who I respect grately said when she got into Yoga she woke up to a life within her life.

If we are not present, there is nothing. If we are present there is everything.

Happy International Women’s Day!

Maybe now more than ever there are many different ways to be a woman. Many different experiences of womanhood depending on where you have been born, the unique circumstances- people and views that surround you, the opportunities available, the messages you are exposed to, your passions and desires and the choices they lead you to. There are so many ways to be a woman, there are so many different experiences of womanhood.

Language creates duality, opposites and separation. We take away the intimacy of the experience of womanhood when we try to describe it linguistically or even anatomically.

Today is International Women’s Day. There are so many ways to celebrate- so many individual women who add value intimately within my experience of life and those who on a distant social and cultural horizon have become an inspiration. There is an other way to celebrate. To meditate on all that is Woman, without words, without social and cultural context. In pure energetic form. Something that is in every woman and every man and throughout nature itself. A dynamic CREATIVE ENERGY, the act of NURTURE, inherent INSTINCT. The FEMININE GOD SHAKTI represents and embodies these essential qualities that intertwine and complement seamlessly with those qualities of the male God Shiva.

Gender is being explored now more than ever with increasing openness. Maybe Woman isn’t opposite to Man, Man isn’t opposite to Woman but rather a combination of complementary energies exist within to create our self as a unique individualIMG_20160308_101840

YOGA BRUNCH/ FRIDAY 18TH MARCH

I am so pleased to get the yoga mats back out at XVA!!

Join me for a nourishing morning practice on the newly renovated and delightfully picturesque rooftop at XVA Hotel/Gallery/Cafe in the heart of Dubai’s cultural quarter.

We will begin with an hour long mindfully flowing yoga class open to all levels, finding a sense of balance within the body, breath and mind, building strength and flexibility and discovering a spaciousness within.

Class will be followed by a relaxed, healthy but hearty XVA special breakfast including delicious fresh juice, eggs cooked to order, pancakes, fresh fruit, a choice of bread and tea or coffee.

Whether you are a seasoned yogi or new to the practice welcome in the weekend with some meditative movements to leave you feeling physically and mentally nourished.

Class starts at 10am, please arrive a little early, especially if you are new to XVA as it is set in the middle of a charming but maze like web of alleyways! Breakfast will be served after and can be enjoyed at your leisure! After which why not feed the eyes in the XVA gallery and take a wonder around the Al Fahidi cultural quarter and a long the creek, an area full of little treats!!

The total cost is 120AED (Cash Only) and please bring your own mat if you have one. Spaces are limited so make sure you save yours by emailing me at yogawithyas@gmail.com and if you would like any more information please feel free to drop me an email. 🙂

See more on the lovely XVA HERE

-NAMASTE-

-THE DIVINE IN ME, BOWS TO THE DIVINE IN YOU-

 

 

 

 

Happy Valentines Day

Happy valentines day! I am not anti valentines day but I am anti auto pilot. Anti action without consideration.

Why not have a day dedicated to honouring relationships? ALL RELATIONSHIPS. But shall we really think about it. Shall we not just buy into roses and chocolates (both of which bring me joy) without understanding that all relationships are valuable, full of opportunity to exchange and increase love, opportunity to offer support and compassion.

My first teacher once told the class to value each interaction you have and to consider every interaction a relationship. How much richer would life be if we did that. Every interaction is a relationship. It was the first nugget of yoga gold I experienced outside of Asana practice and I think about it a lot even 12 years on. We can’t expect one person to save us, to complete us, to solve all of our problems but if we can nurture our relationship with our self, if we can nurture every single interaction then if there is one significant other how much pressure does that take off from THAT relationship- making you lighter and more free to love and enjoy and support each other.

So let’s honour all relationships through symbols today but let us honour them through practice and commitment to each and every interaction each day of the year.