Cloudy Days

Well. The amazing week passed and I have floundered into a fog of inertia and sadness. Despite this, I did my best with what was on the agenda. Darling and I got our walks in in the morning and it helped; yoga practice was smattered into the nap mix and I even managed the gym a couple times, but I’ve felt rather lacklustre of late. There have been bursts of happiness and optimism, we’re still laughing in our house (how can you not with turd bird?) but truthfully, things are just kind of meh.

I’m not sure if it’s the weather or an underlying shift, more than likely, just a cloudy period mood-wise; maybe the reality of mom’s departure has sunk in. I’m trying to be patient with the funk, not wish it away even though I miss my sprightly side, but rather observe and allow.

I think it’s natural to desire the happy state, we just need to be mindful of where an authentic buoyant feeling comes from. I’ve learned, over time, that a trip to the mall doesn’t make the blech-y feeling go away (well mostly). These moods are a natural part of life’s ebb and flow.

I wish I could write from a place of being on the upswing, but no. In the name of honesty I’m being real about what’s happening, without, I hope, dragging you down along with me! I go through the motions, with the odd inflection of inspiration and lightness. I take each day as a huge victory because I am still doing what needs to get done; still connecting and seeing wonderfulness around me. I’ll get to the other side of this, any day now. I have faith.

I’ve had ample opportunity and little nudges reminding me of how friggin good I really do have it. Intellectually I understand. Emotionally and psychologically, I am stuck in a place that is not doing me any favours. But if I dwell on the slumpy grumps too much I then get mad at myself for wasting time in grouchyland, which then invites the whole scenario to reside longer. So I just keep trying to release, accept, release. I’m in the middle of it.

While I’m down here, shout out and great big love to the girl, because what can make your heart open more than the unfettered energy of a glorious young’n? And even bigger smooch to my man for his patience and goofiness while he waits for my sunny self to return.

So, in the name of our yoga practice, how can we work with these “down” days? If there’s one thing I can’t emphasise enough it’s the importance of moving your body. I know it feels like the last thing you want to do. It was most definitely the last thing I wanted to do Saturday morning; the grey skies were telling me to take it easy and have a curl up on the couch with a cup of coffee and the newspaper while dragon darling napped. Despite the urge I knew if I got my butt out the door and went to yoga class I would be so much better for it. And I was.

Even though I’m in a bit of a blue phase it’s given plenty of inspiration for this Tuesday’s class. We’ll be working with some flow focused on uplifting spirit and opening our hearts before settling into a sweet restorative practice to nurture the soul and finish up with a heart healing meditation. I look forward to seeing you all there and hope you walk out the door with some tools for your own yucky days.

For those of you who catch up on the blog, what’s your go-to when your mood takes a nose-dive? Do share your wisdom so we are all inspired to accept but proactively manage the blahs.

Befriending time

I love the pleasant surprise of receiving a text from someone you haven’t heard from in awhile who you’ve been thinking about. The other day a yogini friend and I were exchanging updates; all was well with us both, I mentioned that things were good and busy. Though I miss mom’s presence around the house we seem to have found our groove. There are interesting projects bubbling in my fundraising work, I’m in the midst of an online course, yoga teaching, writing, domesticating with the hubby, socialising and looking after little turd bird and her kooky antics.

I like to be busy, but I do have a tenuous relationship with the t-word. Mostly, there’s never enough of it. Admittedly sometimes, in the mundane and tedious parenting moments, it slows to a snail’s pace. For the most part, I’m a bit testy with time. And here’s the thing, I know I should really love time so much more, as it’s a privilege to experience the life I have.

So back to my friend: she mentioned how her day started with rushing about, but she swiftly caught her attitude, instead telling herself, I have all the time in the world.

She inspired me, and I’ve worked with this little gem of a mantra all week. Within a few days of telling myself this I woke excited by what lie ahead instead of tabulating the mental checklist of things that needed to get done. I had all the time in the world.

Girlie would wake with a grumbly tummy, I’d prepare breakfast and we’d have a leisurely babble, because we had all the time in the world. I’d look at the clock and notice how early we were into the day; we’d enjoy a walk and stop to play at the park, because we had all the time in the world.

During my work days, I’d continue with my “to do” lists, these anchor me with the multiple priorities in my job, but I started to look at them differently. There was still the standard chop and change (stuff always magically comes up doesn’t it?)but I didn’t become annoyed. I had all the time in the world. I’d address the request or task and return to what I was doing. I’d leave the home office at the end of the day satisfied. Never do I manage to tackle everything that I’m trying to get done, as things are continually added to the pile, but I was confident I focused intently and had truly given my best effort. Gone was the guilt that comes from the aimless and inefficient bopping from one half completed activity to another.

The evenings elongated. Anyone with young whippersnappers knows dinner time mayhem: hungry tummies, getting worn out but excited daddy is home, plus mum juggling the odd errand to keep the house organised. Making meals, cleaning the aftermath, baths and bedtime rituals were all a joy. Because….drum roll…. I had all the time in the world! 

This mindset change was liberating not only for me, but remarkably positive for my family and everyone I connected with. Taking a break from what I call my “rush addiction” expanded my entire life. In short, I got so much more done and enjoyed equally the process of being in the middle of a task and completing it. I was more patient, aware, present.

When I felt the familiar tension arise in my body, the frenetic frizzling desire to escape exactly where I was in a given moment, to rush ahead to the next thing, and in particular disconnect not only from what I was doing but more importantly who was there, I reminded myself to slow down. Stop. Breathe.

The secret always, is to be in this moment. To savour this time.

In the class I’m teaching at Sevenergy Yoga on Tuesday evenings from 7pm onwards we’ll explore how we experience time. We’ll have a play with some vinyasa, and intersperse it with more static, yin-inspired postures. Pay attention, and see how your body and mind react, if your thoughts become preoccupied with time. Are you wishing the sequence would slow down? Does your body or mind want time to move faster so you can come out of a certain posture? What happens when you embrace and accept whatever is happening right now?

We’ll continue our mindful examination of time, and how we can befriend it in short relaxation and meditation practices. My sincere wish is that you can take your insights with you and apply them to your life, relationships, work and play.

Please join me, I’d love to hear how the experience is for you. To celebrate the launch of this class I’m offering the first class free until 8 April.

For those of you out in the big beautiful world, I’d be interested to hear how your relationship with time is going these days. Any ideas you can share that help you cope with myriad priorities in life? It would be lovely to hear from you too!

A Yoga Pill?

This morning, while playing with blocks, drinking coffee and enjoying cuddles from my feeling better little girl(hurray), I came across this article which discusses studies that show yoga has little to no impact on peoples’ health, in particular those who might be very unwell, such as cancer and diabetes patients. I’m a bit irate, because I think Brian Palmer misses a pretty big point. Any yoga practitioner with a foundation of common sense would never presume to tell you that yoga is going to cure cancer, or permanently alleviate asthma.

Yoga is more than a class you attend once or twice a week, it is a lifestyle. Deciding to start yoga once your back is up against the wall health-wise is still better than nothing, but I’d prefer we took a long term view and pondered the preventative approach. Besides, what quality of life do you want right now, in this moment? Whether you’re unwell or fit as a fiddle yoga adds a certain joie de vivre.

When I’m with a group of dedicated practicing yogis it’s obvious. They have a glow, a presence, that regular asana, relaxation, breath work and meditation supports. Further to these tangible practices that you learn in the studio and take to your home practice, there are Patangali’s other limbs of yoga, which are all different topics in themselves, that you bring to your life.

We, as a society, are becoming increasingly fat and stressed. We are not active enough and our children are currently slated to have lower life expectancies than us. How about if less of us were obese and better able to not only cope with stress, but more tuned into when something just wasn’t right for us to begin with? What if we approached each day, each other and our planet from a space of compassion and thoughtfulness not only for ourselves but for future generations? This unending quest for the magic potion to save us from our toxic lifestyles wouldn’t be necessary.

Encompassing yogic principles into life’s trajectory supports health. We are all going to have illness and struggles at some stage in our lives, and we’re all going to die. Mr. Palmer’s article is a symptom of the typical disempowered, and at the risk of sounding trite, consumeristic viewpoint. We don’t want to take responsibility for what got us in our health conundrum in the first place. We want something outside of us to fix it. Immediately and easily. But that’s not how life, or anything for that matter, works. It’s about time, effort and commitment, and saying yes to a yoga class, a run, or healthy meal, when it would be easier to say no. Deciding that you enjoy feeling and being healthy and that you’re willing to put in the work to get and stay there.

Yoga is an interesting paradox of taking control, through focus, right now, in this moment while at the same time accepting it for whatever it is. I believe we would all get a lot more serious about our health if someone were to sit down with us and tell us what we would die from at some mystery date in the future. Complications from diabetes because we refused to give up junk food, cancer from pollutants in our environment or smoking, a heart attack from lack of exercise and too much stress at work.

So get on the mat, at the very least, get off your tushie, breathe, live, move and do something right now! Before the doctor has to have the “talk” with you. Our bodies were beautifully designed to be in motion, and through movement, the positive mindset and healthy body flourishes. That to me, is the magic elixir that no doctor on earth can prescribe.

Sh!t people say about yoga – part 1

Ok, so over the years I’ve heard some gooders. Little things that people say and assume about yoga and and the yoga community that are off track, false or limiting.

One that I hear most frequently when I tell someone I meet for the first time that I teach yoga, that I was reminded of when walking behind a couple at the outdoor market the other day as they contemplated a flyer for beach yoga.

“I can’t do yoga anyways, I’m not flexible enough.”

How do the following sound to you:

“I can’t go the gym, I’m not fit.”
“I can’t be a CEO, I’ve never run an organisation before.”
“I can’t write a novel, I’ve never been published.”

Illogical right? You have to start somewhere. And that is: where you are, right now.
Too often, we view a situation from an end result or condition that we believe has to happen or magically be there before we even begin. We close the doors on the possibility of a new life experience based on prejudices and expectations drawn oftentimes from a murky perspective.

I get it, maybe you think yoga ain’t your thing. But don’t knock it until you try it, and please don’t make the final decision until you’ve explored a few different styles, instructors and spaces. I believe there’s the “just right” for everyone out there as far as yoga is concerned.

Besides, the point of yoga isn’t to get “flexible,” it’s to feel good. To move through life with a bit more buoyancy, freedom and connection. 15 years into my relationship with yoga and I continue to work on hanumanasana (aka, the splits). Do I let the fact that I’ve yet to master this pose hold me back in pursuing my yoga teaching? Hells no! Would I like to do the splits one day – hmmm sure, that would be cool and provide a real sense of accomplishment. But that’s not why I get on the mat, day in and day out.

For me, yoga has awoken a feeling of aliveness and contentedness that I use to inform my life. It does not exist in a vacuum – it pervades everything. Yoga opens my body, alleviates the aches and pains that come with chasing around after a fearless, curious toddler half the time, and seated at a desk for my fundraising job the other half.

It certainly helps to deal with injury as well as prevent it. I’m convinced it’s why I had a pain-free marathon finish ten years ago. It’s opened up a more frank dialogue between my heart and mind, transforming my life in ways I could not have imagined.

Yoga is a modality that almost anyone can benefit from. I don’t teach to make you flexible, I teach to help you love your life. If this sounds like something that appeals to you, please join me at my upcoming classes.

On a closing note, what are some ways right now that you could become more “flexible” right now, get out of your own way before deciding that something isn’t right for you, or take an initially uncomfortable risk in he name of living life more fully?