Happy New Year to you!
I hope you've had a nice break in that period between Christmas and New Year, its a funny little pocket of time don't you think? I can't ever remember what day it is, what we have on, or much else really.
Thank you for being part of my Yoga community. Teaching, practising and writing about Yoga makes me feel so much joy.
Speaking of Joy, I hope this year brings you this feeling. As we sit or make a pocket of time to get clear on what we would like to get up to/do/complete/start this year, I think of a couple of things.
1. Contentment leads to unsurpassed Joy - from Yoga Sutra 2.42.
2. Comparison is the thief of Joy - this was a quote from Theodore Roosevelt.
This ties in very nicely with YOU (wishing here JOY was YOU back to front or something clever!).
So back onto the point. When you are happy and content with who you are, where you are, there's an opportunity to feel joyous. I'm not just writing this, try it, its a great practice and a real balm for our busy lives that are full of ways to improve/change/upgrade/uplevel our lives.
Next is comparison. Oh my gosh, how many ways do we compare our lives with others!! With such an information based culture, there's really no shortage of inspiration .... but watch it .... as it can be sneaky and turn into comparison. And that's not fun for anyone, as it takes away feelings of joy and happiness.
So, maybe if your looking for some inspiration for this year just take some time and turn INWARD. Yup, IN. Because only you know what truly lights you up, only you can say what feels right to you, and only you are responsible for you.
Here's a little practice for you if you'd like:
Take 10 mins to sit quietly, ideally in nature or your favourite seat.
Spine tall, hips heavy and just the teeniest smile, with palms down on your thighs.
Begin to notice your breath, because by turning your attention inward and focusing on your breath you begin to calm your mind (don't take my word, have a go!!)
And begin to turn your imagination toward JOY.
What brings you joy?
How can you do more of that?
Where are you when you feel joy?
And to complete this ask yourself:
What robs me of joy?
Maybe who robs you of joy?
And think about things like: rushing?
Too much socialising (yes from me here, feeling delightfully fried!!)
And then perhaps make an intention to turn toward joy more in 2018.
You might like to journal after this if anything came up, or write notes in your phone, or reminders even. Up to you.
See you soon.
In a couple of weeks I'm launching a Yin Yoga Class, at the Dee Why School of Yoga. Yippeeeeee!
Quite a few of my students and some friends have asked what Yin Yoga is, so I thought I'd write about this and how I found it.... or as is usually the case .... how it found me!
In 2013 I went to the Bondi Yoga Festival and said yes to a class called "Gratitude". I really didn't even notice that the style of class was called Yin. I'd heard of it but not practiced it. So I turned up, rolled out my mat, and was transfixed & transformed. The theme of Gratitude was most certainly felt, but the real gratitude was for the day magically unfolding leading me to this new style of practice, Yin Yoga.
I felt so good. Like REALLY GOOD!
Its hard to put into words but I'll try. I sensed a feeling of spaciousness in my body, and a deep sense of calm in my breath and my headspace. I enjoyed the slow and intentional practice of dialing it right back. Most of the practice was either lying down or floor based, so there was that too, no standing, no vinyasa, no balancing. Yes, nice!!!!
Fast forward to 2016, I decided that after some self-study (in Sanskrit: Svadhyaya) that I would like to study this style of Yoga. I needed to know more, because it was becoming my "home practice". So, I said a big mighty YES to my teacher Cora from www.slowyoga.com.au and enrolled in her Yin Teacher Training, a cool 50 hours dedicated to learning all about this glorious practice.
So, what to expect when you come to one of my Yin classes?
For your body, my aim is to help you "unwind". It creates some space in places there may be been tension and tightness. Its also more of a practice of surrender, its the letting go and being led by the body and its messages.... "ah my dear enough here or Ohhhh I think I found some space here, etc". Yin gets deep, it gets into the connective tissue, bones, joints, ligaments and tendons due to the long holds. We will hold poses from 3 to 5 minutes! Yes, juicccccccccy.
For your headspace, this is where it gets really good. As Yin is a more inward way of practising Yoga, it encourages a more soft and intuitive way of practice, you get the time, real spaces of time, to investigate and "BE" with your body and see/feel what's going on, you can get the opportunity to come up close and personal with your thoughts, with your breath and your physical structure.
After your Yin practice, you might just begin to feel calm, a sense of trust that things are just okay the way they are which is why Bernie Clark (a founding Yin Teacher) says that the philosophy of Yin is pretty much reflected in the Serenity Prayer:
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change
Grant me the courage to change the things I can change
And grant me the wisdom to know the difference.
Launch details are:
Wednesday February 15th
10am Yin Yoga / Room 2
The Dee Why School of Yoga
673 Pittwater Road, Dee Why
I'm super duper excited to bring this practice to you. Hope to see you there.
This world can be exhausting if we done take time to slow down, take stock, and revitalise ourselves. Because aint nobody going to do it for us. The Yogi's saw this, and noted it down, all those many moons ago!
Our senses draw us out of ourselves. Think about it for a moment; listening, looking, smelling, tasting and feeling. Each day we are pulled by our senses, think of a smell as you walk past a bakery, or what you see as you scroll through your Instagram account, or what you feel as you make your way through your day, what you listen to? (and whom you listen to!), what you eat during the day, just as an example.
No wonder, we are wiped out, exhausted, done, full (yet empty) and tired.
All day this goes on, and if we aren't in the habit or practice of turning out we will probably burn out. This looks different for all of us, but could be: over fatigued, stressed, over it, sleep deprived, cranky, irritated and just plain done.
The antidote to this is the juice of my practice at the moment: Pratyahara! This is one of the Eight Limbs of Yoga and is a balm for this tired but wired feeling we may have.
Pratyahara can be summed up here quite nicely from Osho "go within or go without". Its about drawing the curtain on our senses and drawing inward.
It might looks like this:
Perhaps the first 5 minutes when you get to Yoga, you roll your mat out and lie down and close your eyes. Do you feel that little exhale, the letting go as you relax into the mat, the turning in? Hmmmm, yes.
Coming home to yourself.
Taking a rest from the pull of the world.
Turning down the volume so you can listen to the still quiet voice within.
So good, so necessary.
Lately I've been noticing how this practice for me is reflected in the New Moon. I like that we can't actually see the New Moon. I feel like this is no small coincidence, as its often the time to reveal new intentions, dreams, habits, rituals etc. Making these intentions we begin to bring things unseen into being, matching perhaps their development to the cycle of the moon from darkness to the light of the full moon, from a dream to a plan, from a wish to a form.
I think thats why I feel so drawn to the new moon, even though I can't see it, I can feel it. It feels more calm, more soothing than the full moon, maybe its the thought of the possibility, the dreamy state of just thinking and feeling into intentions.
More on that in another post I think, otherwise this should post should have had a different title!
If we don't go within, how can we ever create the life we dream of, if we don't draw in how can we listen to our souls voice, our intuition, our conscience. All these tools we've been given for creating a skilful life lie within, so in the words of Osho "go within or go without", I recommend going within!
Here's a few things to try on the way to Pratyahara:
- Music // Find a long piece of music, say 10 to 15 mins where you can completely drop into the sounds.
- Incense or candle // Light a stick of incense or a candle, sit, close your eyes, smile & breathe.
- Japa Mantra // With a mala, silently repeat a word or a sound that resonates with you. Work your way around the 108 beads, or seeds on your mala to calm your mind and feel it draw your attention in.
- Asana // Do a slow, relaxed physical practice and really drop into how it feels in your bones, your muscles and your soul.
When we draw in and practice Pratyahara, "We become aware of where our energy is moving or congested, and have an opportunity to feel and sort out through what is bottled up in our emotional or psychological blocks". Great words on this practice from a favourite book of mine called The Yogi's Roadmap by Bhavani Silvia Maki.
Until next time!