Yoga Sutras : Book Two # 33

 

flight landscape nature sky

Vitarka badhane pratipaksa bhavanam*

“when disturbed by negative thoughts, opposite (positive) ones should be thought of.  This is pratipaksa bhavana” *

It’s been quite a while since I wrote anything in this blog – and with good reason.  I went straight from my 200hr Teacher Training into the online training with TeenYoga based in the UK.  This entailed a further 100hrs of training – all online; via webinars, tutorials and lots of reading, writing, planning and thinking.  My brain is full. Good full, but it’s full.

The TeenYoga training (created by Charlotta Martinus http://www.teenyoga.com) is fantastic, and I have been so blessed to have found teachers and mentors this year who through just being who they are, inspire, motivate and ensure you have an ongoing desire to learn.

Now it’s time to plan and enter the fray.  I need to find ways to get this teaching out there; grow myself as a teacher, and hopefully inspire students to want to grow their own practice – keeping me as part of that growth.  Bit of an ask.

And this week I felt a bit down about it all.  Most of my friends and family have been incredibly supportive of this journey I’m on, but some less so.  Conversations have been around – “Yoga not really being as good as other modalities of ‘exercise’.  Maybe I now even believe I’m too clever.  (“If they knew how the cogs churned and whirred they’d realise that is definitely NOT the case).  And – this is the doozy – “I’m not really that qualified though am I, and anyone can teach it can’t they?”

So regardless of how many people support you and remind you that you’ve had a full on, heavy learning, great year – that lone voice who tries to put you down always hits home.

This year I have worked incredibly hard at something I love and truly believe is worthwhile.  I have done it because I want to share this with other people, so they get, and feel, the benefits I have.  I have done this with a desire to inspire others to start their own journey with Yoga, and discover all the benefits a mindful practice can give them.  This for my adult students, and hopefully as time moves on, more and more adolescents.  That is all.

We live in a world where so many people are truly burdened with their own insecurities, anxieties and self- doubt.  However for a few it seems when they see someone else trying to move beyond their own anxieties and fears, take control of their lives and livelihoods and move forward, well, they probably need a knock back don’t they?  No, actually, they don’t.   We all need to start cheering people on who take initiatives, who try something new, put themselves in vulnerable positions, and who want to keep learning and growing.  And just maybe those people can act as an inspiration, motivation or banner that shows there is a path that leads beyond insecurity and self doubt to greater self-enrichment.

I had a phone call with one of my teachers this week as well (post other conversations) and I came away with a list of things to do, focus on, get moving towards, a little jolt to the system – that put the negativity to rest.

So, I guess the takeaway from this blog is – What (or who) Inspires You?

This year for me it’s simple – my teachers.

Namaste x

*The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali – translated by Sri Swami Satchidananda

 

 

The End of the Beginning

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It’s done.  We’ve all had our first full week away from training, first weekend home and are looking towards having a second weekend without training as the end game.

It feels weird.  That last weekend of training was quite emotional for a lot of us (myself included) – it’s been a real journey and man we were blessed with the group we had.  The core of us were quite diverse; age wise, career wise, Yoga knowledge wise, character wise – the whole shebang.  But we were accepting of all and truly did back each other to do well.

And now it’s done.  We are cast loose to continue in whichever way we choose.  Some of us are already planning how to get teaching – I’m enrolled in a Teen Yoga/Mindfulness course which will take me through to the end of the year.  Some are uncertain if they will teach at all at this stage but know that this course has opened the door to more learning and appreciation of what Yoga offers.

The training really does inspire and I believe that’s what it’s about.  Yes, we need to ensure we have anatomy, physiology and asana knowledge (which we got).   Yes, we need to cover the philosophy, history and teachings of Yoga (which we did).  But when the training covers all the necessary and leaves you feeling that you want/need to learn more, to keep going, keep learning – that I think is the definition of good teaching.

Now to refine my own offerings as a teacher, find venues, students and ways of passing on the message – Yoga is great for your body, mind and soul.  It will enhance your life, help you find peace, help you live in the moment and provide tools to do so.  The science is out on this as well. Enough studies have been done now to conclude that even short meditations have a cumulatively significant impact on your mental and physical health.  Lowering your heart rate, suppressing the flight response and generally easing anxiety.  The article link here (one of many available) https://yogainternational.com/article/view/scientific-research-yoga-aging-and-the-brain articulates well the studies that show Yoga techniques increase the neuroplasticity of our brains, help improve mental and behavioural flexibility, keep our bodies active and aware.

My interest in teaching extends beyond the Teen/Young Adult teaching that I am hoping to kick start in the next few months.  Moving into Yoga Nidra, iRest, Restorative, whole body dynamics, Yoga for your body.  That is where I hope to take and expand my knowledge and teaching.  And I know I’ve signed on with a teaching school and group of teachers and practitioners who live and breath this daily.  It is all good and it is all slowly but surely coming to fruition.

Namaste

https://yogateachertraining.nz/

https://contemporaryyoga.nz/

https://sacredmoves.com/

https://www.karlabrodie.co.nz/

Now What?

flight landscape nature sky
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

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.

https://www.yogajournal.com/meditation/how-to-find-deeper-access-to-joy-start-with-a-peaceful-mind

Namaste

How Flexible is Flexible?

 

Image result for yoga

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.

Namaste

Half way : apprehension and fear

person rolling green gym mat

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.

Namaste

backlit beach dawn dusk

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

altar
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.

Namaste

The End of the Beginning

img_0639

It’s done.  We’ve all had our first full week away from training, first weekend home and are looking towards having a second weekend without training as the end game.

It feels weird.  That last weekend of training was quite emotional for a lot of us (myself included) – it’s been a real journey and man we were blessed with the group we had.  The core of us were quite diverse; age wise, career wise, Yoga knowledge wise, character wise – the whole shebang.  But we were accepting of all and truly did back each other to do well.

And now it’s done.  We are cast loose to continue in whichever way we choose.  Some of us are already planning how to get teaching – I’m enrolled in a Teen Yoga/Mindfulness course which will take me through to the end of the year.  Some are uncertain if they will teach at all at this stage but know that this course has opened the door to more learning and appreciation of what Yoga offers.

The training really does inspire and I believe that’s what it’s about.  Yes, we need to ensure we have anatomy, physiology and asana knowledge (which we got).   Yes, we need to cover the philosophy, history and teachings of Yoga (which we did).  But when the training covers all the necessary and leaves you feeling that you want/need to learn more, to keep going, keep learning – that I think is the definition of good teaching.

Now to refine my own offerings as a teacher, find venues, students and ways of passing on the message – Yoga is great for your body, mind and soul.  It will enhance your life, help you find peace, help you live in the moment and provide tools to do so.  The science is out on this as well. Enough studies have been done now to conclude that even short meditations have a cumulatively significant impact on your mental and physical health.  Lowering your heart rate, suppressing the flight response and generally easing anxiety.  The article link here (one of many available) https://yogainternational.com/article/view/scientific-research-yoga-aging-and-the-brain articulates well the studies that show Yoga techniques increase the neuroplasticity of our brains, help improve mental and behavioural flexibility, keep our bodies active and aware.

My interest in teaching extends beyond the Teen/Young Adult teaching that I am hoping to kick start in the next few months.  Moving into Yoga Nidra, iRest, Restorative, whole body dynamics, Yoga for your body.  That is where I hope to take and expand my knowledge and teaching.  And I know I’ve signed on with a teaching school and group of teachers and practitioners who live and breath this daily.  It is all good and it is all slowly but surely coming to fruition.

Namaste

https://yogateachertraining.nz/

https://contemporaryyoga.nz/

https://sacredmoves.com/

https://www.karlabrodie.co.nz/