Now What?

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Another weekend with our amazing training group has been and gone, and for me it was a more challenging one.  Teachers and content fabulous as usual, but for me some stuff arose, and I guess that’s what makes us who we are.  Stuff comes up, we look at it, react, and deal with it as best we know how and move on.  Or if not move on completely, try not to sit with it for too long, and then keep moving.  Because when it comes to it – we face things the way we know how – and I know very few people who do anything with bad, or deliberate intent to hurt or injure either themselves or anyone else.  And, once you begin stepping onto the mat, your body not only thanks you for the physical, it welcomes the experiential and the awakening mind.  You change; slightly, dramatically, lovingly, but you do change.  That is why I feel better stepping off the mat after a practice (whatever form that may have taken), than when I stepped on.

Intention begets action begets joy in the doing.

I truly believe we are all fine but that we may, over the course of our lives, pick up a bit, or a lot of luggage along the way.  At times I’ve felt like I’m carrying a suite of Louis Vuitton and lots of it; some of it pretty, some of it ugly, but most of it unnecessary for me to travel with.  And I’ve spent decades offloading it, unpacking it, repacking it, tossing some to the side, carrying some in my bones and just leaving some by the side of the road.  It’s exhausting – as my son would say “too much admin Mum” … yep, too much admin.  So what’s the answer?

I don’t have one – other than to say – we’re ok, we’re human, we try, we fail, we look for answers to questions, we learn, we practice, we love, we live, we continue.  It’s a hell of a journey… and thankfully the majority of us continue to see a tomorrow coming that has so much potential to bring joy, love and purpose.

Balance, I’ve been thinking about this also, and what that would look like in both Yoga, and in our general daily lives.  In Yoga there are poses that require a degree of balance to sustain them, Tree Pose for example.  But trees are never completely stationary or balanced, they don’t stand solidly unmoving, stoically standing sentry over the forest.  They arise from strong roots, build a sturdy trunk, but move in the wind; they bend, wave their branches, react to their environment.  But still they stand, a strong, living, breathing, dynamic, moving thing of beauty.  Just like us.


How Flexible is Flexible?


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Recently I worked out that I’ve been ‘doing’ Yoga for around 30 odd years.  When you state that number I’m pretty sure a lot of people think – wow, she must be able to bend like a pretzel.  Well it doesn’t really work like that.  I’ve also been an avid book reader for over 50 years and I haven’t read all the books in the world, nor learnt everything there is to learn about anything. So, it’s all about perspective and relevance really.

There’s a woman on our YTT (Yoga Teacher Training) who can bend like a pretzel – just fold beautifully into postures and do it with seeming ease and comfort.  She’s also around my age.  I cannot always fold with ease and comfort.  Some days I can barely crease let alone fold.  Other days it all comes with apparent ease.  Funny old things our bodies.  They intuitively know where they’re at, at any given time and let us know.  They whisper to us before they scream and we all need to become aware of the whispers and adjust, stop, or slow down.  Our bodies KNOW.

Our bodies are all so different as well, which is the greatest thing to remember.  They all contain about the same number of bones etc., and the structure and framework is seemingly the same – however, it’s not.  We all have slight differences and those differences can be the one thing that means we can’t fold our chest to our knees, we can’t raise our legs behind our head (though why you’d even want to I’m not really sure) and we can’t lower our heels completely to the floor in Downward Dog.

Does that then mean we’re not doing Yoga?  No.  If your personal focus is purely on the physical aspects of Yoga (the postures/asanas) then a modified/adjusted pose is still most definitely Yoga.   The multitudinous benefits are all there because your body is still receiving the benefits of the physical, and whether you realise it or not, the total body/elemental benefits as well.  The ability to go into a pose that you feel should match something you saw on Instagram or the cover of Yoga Journal is totally meaningless, and quite unhelpful.

So, two days ago when I did my own practice, I felt great, my body moved in and out of asana with ease and I was comfortable.  My head was in a good place, I felt wonderful.  Today, my little autoimmune issue has kicked in, I’m feeling tired, achy, am having trouble with my hips and wondering what sort of practice I can do today.  So that whisper has gotten a bit louder and I’ll adjust, modify and be kinder to myself.  My body will thank me and we’ll move on.

Yoga is a whole body practice, and why I’ve called my business Elemental, it covers all the elements that make us who we are – cellular, muscular, mental etc.

A chiropractor in Sydney told me over 30 years ago – ‘use it or lose it’ – so there you go.  Listen to your body, use it and move it as it needs for the space it’s in today, and you won’t lose it.


Half way : apprehension and fear

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Strange title.  But yes, once this coming weekend is done and dusted we’ll all be just over half way through our Yoga Teacher Training (YTT).  To say I’m loving the journey would be quite the understatement, to say I’m incredibly apprehensive about the ‘what next’ would not.

Each weekend we spend at our training is intense; full-on, restful, gratitude inducing and magical.  I leave each Sunday night for the 3-hour drive home just meditating (eyes open – I’m driving folks) and ruminating on the events of the past 2 days.  That drive is quite a good thing to do, I’m alone with my thoughts, heading home to my safe place, and able to just think quietly on what we’ve all just covered.  And we cover a lot.  It’s one thing to say “I love Yoga and I want to share it with the world” in a vaguely egoistic way, and completely another to gain the insight, intuitiveness, humility and knowledge to be able to do so.  Thankfully I chose a great YTT to begin the teaching journey with.  And I am becoming increasingly aware that this is just the start, the beginning of what has already been a decades long process for me.  Truly a life journey this thing.

Currently my biggest struggle has been with learning the anatomy and structure of the body and its movement patterns; why, how, and what bits do what to other bits to make this beautiful structure of ours move, heal and just Be.  Science is continuing to prove links with our enteric nervous system (our gut/intestines), the brain and the rest of our body.  Yoga has been banging on about this for centuries.  Apologies for sudden lack of humility there 😊.   And the latest buzz word – fascia – love that word.  My Pilates teacher (one of the best on the planet in my opinion) loves fascia, at the last YTT weekend we spent a solid couple of hours on recent discoveries re: fascia and its importance.  I attended an exercise conference this week and a part of that was on fascia and our need to move it, treat it and generally be mindful of it.  So once again Yoga – ahead of if not bang on the game, and that is just the physical side (asana) of Yoga as well.  By introducing the other limbs of Yoga into your life you can realistically move to a more rounded, fulfilled, joyful life.

So – am learning a lot and starting to teach some classes to friends and whanau (family) members who are willing to let me practice on them.  Apprehension and fear?  Yes that is there, but as I stumble through this I really, really hope I can eventually guide people to their own realisation that by doing this wee thing we call Yoga, even if it is initially just the physical side of it, you will feel infinitely better within yourself.  Enough to maybe get into your own home practice and find your own path to take.  Naturally with a little ongoing input and support from your soon to be (fingers crossed) certified Yoga teacher over here.


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Try to be like the turtle – at ease in your own shell – Bill Copeland

Currently I am a third of my way through Yoga Teacher Training.  Yup, I said it, have now come clean, and regardless of the outcome of all this – I have found my happy place.  Well, I think I have at least, because pessimists such as myself are terrified of feeling good, secure and certain about much at all.

It can be quite remarkable to have been searching for much of your adult life for something that truly felt good and the right thing for you to do, (and that you could turn into an income – however modest) to find you’ve actually been participating in it for over 30 years.

I have known for a lot of years that helping people navigate their way through ‘stuff’ is something I have always wanted to do.  Psychology studies, Lifeline Counselling, volunteering, all these were leading towards … Yoga teaching?  Possibly a long bow to draw but one that for me now makes complete sense.  When I was undertaking my Lifeline training over 20 years ago – someone asked me “but why would you want to do that?”.  My answer was then and still is, “Because everyone deserves to have someone really listen to them”.  Simple.  This one thing had been missing from my life for a long, long time, and sometimes the path to health and wellness begins with someone just listening to you – not fixing – just listening.  And caring.  My mat and my practice gave me the confidence to know that I’m more resilient than I think I am … and I can do this thing called Yoga, even if I’m not as ‘good’ at it as some.  Thinking of the earlier covers of Yoga Journal here.

It was in my 20’s that I started going to Yoga classes.  They were part of my local high school’s night classes program.   Over the years I studied Italian language, Italian Cooking, Art, Creative Writing etc., etc.  And the one thing I continued when I moved to Oz?  Yoga.  Why?  Because for me it works.  I have always felt better physically and mentally when I step off the mat, then when I step on it – and the practice in between those two steps is medicine.  I also started looking into the why’s and wherefores of the whole Yoga experience – not just the asana’s which are a small part of Yoga – but the holistic, spiritual, experiential side of Yoga.  But I never, ever believed I could be in a position where I might be able to share some of that with other people.

And I am grateful.  So grateful to have the opportunity to learn with people who live and breathe Yoga.  I am very aware how little I know about it.  I am also very aware this is going to be a lifelong learning opportunity and one too that I will never truly master (hopefully I have a long life – I’m getting up there in the numbers now).  But if I become adept enough to share what I do learn, and more importantly through that encourage others to start their own journey into the wholeness of Yoga – then I’m good.


When Intention goes out the window

At the end of 2018 I was embarking, so I thought, on a new direction.  I had been out of work (voluntarily) for a few months and was beginning a new phase of my life.  I had decided to retrain as a Life Coach (see first blog) and was embarking on this in a positive and enthusastic way.

I had reconnected with someone who had done the training and was working as a Life Coach herself, until life got in the way.  She now works full time – corporate training within an organisation – mindfulness and life coaching related courses.  When I say life got in the way I mean – making a living and being able to manage those responsibilities with what you feel is your right path.  Sometimes the two just don’t gel.  Or not immediately.  And so life gets in the way.

But it doesn’t need to completely.  What I’ve found is that, for me personally, I get distracted very easily.  I have ‘things’ that need to happen in the course of my day and as a result I don’t allocate my time effectively.    I’ve boldened that wee line because that is the issue – I just don’t allocate my time effectively.

We’ve all read books and articles, listened to podcasts, etc., etc.  Reminding us that there’s 24 hours in a day and what we do with those is our choice.  Well, choice is a bit bold because quite frankly I know women (& men) who have most of their time allocated to just getting through the day.   And any free time they have is taken up with even more external duties eg: spending time with our kids, walking/feeding the pets, trying to juggle the mental list we’ve created for the ‘downtime’ after work AND just getting s**t done.  And then when we finally collapse either on the sofa or in bed – we are mentally and physically spent.

So what happened to that extra hour or two to do what we wanted?  Exercise, meditate, study for our future career?  Well we allowed it to be eaten up by things that maybe just maybe we can delegate, or just stop worrying about.

Some people, bless their cotton socks, are able to do just that.  Delegate some of the things we overburden ourselves with, say NO to the kids constant demands for time and attention, and just shut ourselves away to nurture ourselves both mentally and physically.  So why do so many of us feel guilty doing that?  I think it’s because we are raised to feel that unless we are ‘doing for the rest’ all the time we are therefore selfish and self absorbed.  Granted there are a few of them around and I’m sure we can name some, however, it is proven in numerous academic studies that unless we nurture and care for ourselves, then we ain’t gonna truly be any good for anyone else.

So little steps folks.  How about you revisit what makes you happy?  Do you even know what really makes you happy?  or if not happy – a bit contented?  Something that takes you out of yourself and into a plane of contentment and relaxation – even if there is madness around you – the ONE thing that can allow you to distance yourself from that.

Physical exercise?  We all need it and it’s proven that we now can get our physical exercise in smaller doses – it need not take an hour and a half.  We can exercise in blocks of 10 minutes a few times a day and that goes a long way to improving our health.

Sleep? One of the most important things we can do for ourselves is dedicate time to sleep.  We should as adults get an absolute minimum of 7 hours a night.  So, if you need to be up at 6am – then off to bedfordshire by 10 or 11pm … that allows for the downloading of busyness from our brains so we can start to relax.

Reading? Well if you need to read a few pages before bed – try and make it something light – not something horrifically violent or disturbing, and definitely not the report you need to finish before you head to work the next day.  Light, refreshing and easeful.  That will not leave you thinking about it long after you should be falling into a restful snooze.

Try a few things to make the bedroom, the relaxing room, and ease on in to a good nights sleep.






To Finish … Begin

“I don’t see how he can ever finish, if he doesn’t begin”                                                                     The Mock Turtles Story from Alice in Wonderland

Beginnings are always fraught – with questions, anxieties, doubts, and fear.  For me that’s how they’ve always been, but what if we approached beginnings from a slightly different angle?

Some years ago I trained as a Lifeline Counsellor, and years later again started studying Psychology at university (as a mature student).  This was all done with the idea I had that 1) everyone should have someone to talk to, and 2) what really makes us think and behave the way we do? 

Lifeline taught me to listen, and encourage others to open up.  Studying Psych taught me that there is a lot to learn about #2 and it would become a lifelong journey to find an answer.

A few months back I quit my job, with the support of my partner, and asked myself what next.  I mulled this over, but not for too long, and decided to retrain as a Life Coach.  So what qualified me to think I could even do that?  Well, over the years I have always been the ‘go to’ person when colleagues and friends have had questions, doubts, wanted to ‘chew the fat’ or ‘spitball’ any worries or concerns.  That either makes me a good listener, or the office gossip.  I’ll go with the former, as I also learnt that discretion is the better part of valour and the sanctity of the confessional (my office or cafe stop) is never broken.  Which, on that hamster wheel of life, means people kept returning to my office and new people came in regularly.

A lot of what I heard revolved around people not achieving their full potential, or not reaching the goals they thought they had set themselves.  Personal relationship issues came into it as well, but mostly these chats revolved around people feeling ‘stuck’ and unable to move forward.  When I say people weren’t achieving goals they ‘thought they had set themselves’ I come back again to that stuck feeling, that, I’M GOING TO DO THIS … and then it never quite happens.  That; I am going to get fitter, healthier, become a better me, slow down, speed up, GET STUFF DONE mantra we have but many of us can’t deliver on.

There starts the Life Coach training – another arrow to put in the quiver in order to truly be able to help guide someone on their own journey.  Not provide answers, not tell you what you’re doing to slow your progress or self sabotage, you probably know a lot of that already – but to be the one that enables you to move forward, confidently.

So how to deliver on your own mantra?  How to better define and agree what that mantra or goal even is?  That’s where I hope I or someone like me steps in.  A coach can help you to; define your goals, work out your strategy to suit your own needs, and hold the mirror up so you can fully realise your potential and ability to make change happen. 

This is a journey for me as well, as I find my way, set and achieve my goals, stumble, get up, start over and hopefully provide some inspiration for you along the way. 

Via ElementalU I want to look at the whole person; holistically, realistically, totally – all the elements that make you, you.  

I’ll be blogging regularly and will share links, readings, books, and inspirational people and organisations I come into contact with that will help you and me get our stuff done.

In the meantime check out … just do it … she’s inspiring and had her own share of ups and downs…