S&A – Know what you’re got.

Stress and anxiety are one of the most common reasons people come to yoga and meditation. It effects around about 75% of us in one way or another. Culturally and collectively we seem to suffer from both of these conditions.

Close-up of a sad and depressed woman deep in though outdoors.Yet, stress and anxiety are not the same thing. Nor if you have one do you necessarily have the other. Stress is caused by a particular situation or event that is happening in your life.  Like a heavy work load, a relationship breakup, moving house, changing jobs or organising an event etc. It is actually happening in real time. (Apart from PTSD, which is a past event). Once the event or situation is over, so too should the stress.

Anxiety is a fear or a feeling of apprehension, worry or unease usually about a future event. That event maybe real or imaginary, the brain won’t know the difference! It maybe a particular event, such as a job interview or an exam, where it is natural to feel anxious. In actual fact, it can be helpful in motivating you to prepare appropriately. It may have been caused by a stressful situation, fearing a negative outcome, which is also normal. The problem happens if the event or situation passes and the anxiety doesn’t. However, when we think about someone have anxiety we think more about this general unease about life, its direction and all the smalls things that may or may not be of any real concern.

This type of anxiety is more insidious. It may even just slowly develop without you really noticing. This can be called low grade anxiety can go undetected or misunderstood for years. Anxiety can be unreasonable, worrying about things that don’t even exist and produce debilitating phobias and harrowing panic attacks.

So there are different levels to anxiety as there is to stress. Acute stress occurs when a short term situation arises. Maybe a near accident or a situation where something had to be done quickly like someone choking. The body responds and reacts but once the situation is resolved then the stress too dissolves. There is stress that goes on for longer periods, maybe weeks or months (sometimes years) like a sick member of the family, on-going pressures at work or an unhappy relationship. This is called Chronic stress.

Chronic stress is the one that will cause problems if you don’t find ways to address it. If you can’t solve the situation then measures need to be taken to manage the stress. Both stress and anxiety can lead to depression or other physical or mental ailments.

They can cause high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, weight issues, skin problem and menstrual problems , as well as depression, relationship difficulties, addictions and phobias.

So what do you do to release stress and control anxiety?

Many people use what are called distraction techniques. Things like drinking, collapsing in front of the  TV, playing computer games, socialising or even sleeping. Naturally these are not all bad, just that they need limited as they don’t really address the problem or rest the body thoroughly. These techniques should be taken in moderation.

Here are some other healthier ways to handle stress and anxiety and should be considered the foundation practices for cultivating your on-going health and wellness:

  • Spend some quiet time in meditation
  • Spend some time in nature
  • Do some activities that bring you joy
  • Take time out to get some body work like a massage, spa or even just a bath
  • Do a regular program of exercise, weather that is simply walking, jogging or doing some yoga
  • Eat well and go to bed early
  • Come to the breath and body regularly throughout the day
  • Spend time with people who make you feel good

It does’t sound sexy or exciting, but rhythm, routine and commitment is what will ultimately help you stay on track and keep things in check!

All the best. And let me know if I can help you in anyway.

Walking with Mystery

What turbulent times we are living in. It seems it doesn’t matter what part of the world you are in, there are changes, uncertainty and the unknown lurking.

imagesThere is no question that this effects us. As an individual your life might be very smooth and going in the right direction, but collectively there is a lot shifting. Humanity is standing on the precipice of change and it seems fractions are fighting it out to see which way we go forward. These are unnerving times to say the least and we can’t help but to feel unsettled.

So how do we stay centred in all this upheaval? With this universal push for change you are probably finding uncertainly in your own life. I personally have battled with relaxing into change and the unknown for years. I like to call this unknown The Mystery.

Naming the unknown as mystery somehow softens the edges for me. There is something almost romantic about mystery and it certainly can arouse our curiosity. Though naturally the renaming of it doesn’t necessarily hold us in a place of comfort for long.

Whether you wondering if you should take that trip, change your job or end a relationship or whether you are anxious about what the future holds for our forests, oceans and animals or if we are capable of feeding our population in 20 years time, its important to have something that keeps the deeply embedded worrying at bay. This sort of anxiety can be held in the body without us being even aware of it.

The only way to free ourselves from this is always an within journey. Coming back to the body experience is the first place to start. The vehicle that takes us there is the Breath. Try it now. Just sit back in your chair, take a deep slow and gentle breath in and as you exhale let your attention rest in your body. Watch your breath’s flow. Feel into your body; notice the earthiness of it. Let it ground you back into the known. Feel better?

Landing back in the body helps to ground us back into Earth time, the time of NOW. There is so much less to worry about when we focus on one breath at a time. To take it into daily life we only need to focus on one step at a time. When there is deep upheaval or uncertainty the best thing to do is just put one foot in front of the other. This is the wisest path. This helps slow things down and can simplify the process. This allows for better consolidation and decision making.

When we couple this with a regular meditation practice as well as some yoga stretches, these simple steps can be very effective in keeping us at ease. When working with The Mystery meditation is our greatest gift. Sit in meditation with the attitude that whatever arises is ok. Turn away from nothing, hold all that arises in your awareness if you can, with heart-felt compassion. Tuning into the bigger prospective is also helpful. Feeling into the space that holds everything together. Call it the Source, the Divine, the Earth, the Universe, God or whatever resinates for you. Tune in and once again allow whatever arises in this space to be ok, there is nothing to fear. Tuning into the felt sense of Mystery helps us to understand the friendly nature of its presence.

Mystery is Possibility! And learning to walk happily alongside it is the art of Joyful living.

Joy Yoga is holding a short Meditation Course in August and Yoga Beginner’s Course in July, both held in Moe.

 

 

Go with Gut

Do you feel the push of evolutionary growth being forced upon you or people you know? Have there been big changes and decisions being made in your live, your job, your health or relationships. If not you, perhaps your friends or in your family? images

When change is thrust upon us decisions need to be made. So how do we know how to make a good decision? How do we know which decision is right? Not only do we have a make the right decision for ourselves, even a good decision acted upon at the wrong time can lead us to difficulty, challenge and distress.

Learning to navigate change in a way that brings the best results with the most ease is really down to our intuition! Now, this may sound flaky to some of you and make total sense to others. Never underestimate the power of your intuition.

I know all of you, even the most cynical of you have had an experience where you just knew you had to do this now. We are all gifted with intuition. It is our birthright. However, we don’t always listen and many of us don’t cultivate it in a way that can really bring a sense of ease and flow into our life.

So, how do we cultivate intuition? There are many avenues to this. Take what makes sense to you and work with that. You may get several ideas from several places. Mix it to suit you. THIS is using your intuition!!

Making decisions on the big stuff in life is not necessarily easy. We are very influenced by our emotions and often by other people’s expectations of us. So lets look at the intellectual centres we have available to us for decision making.

The Head

Well known for it’s ability to problem solve and logically work out what needs to be done next. This is the Pros and Cons list approach to decision making. The problem with relying of the head is that it can be a little too clinical. It can also see problems (which is sort of its main job, to problem search and solve!!) which aren’t actually there or may never happen. The mind can play the fear card as well and doesn’t always take into account the ‘magic’ of life!

The Heart

There is scientific evidence that the heart has a brain of it’s own and it’s electromagnetic field is 5000s times stronger than that of the brain. So this is a powerful place for making intuitive decisions. The heart is wonderful at helping us choose things that we are passionate about, the things that give us joy. It is very important to take these into considerations when it comes to love, relationships, work, lifestyle choices etc.  However, even here, the emotions of the heart can lead us astray. The heart can get us into trouble and have us hold onto things (because we still love them) for longer than they are good for us.

The Gut

The last centre (or is it our first!?) of intelligence is our belly! Often referred to as the ‘second brain’ because of the 100s of millions of neurones connecting the brain to the digestive tract. This place is our most primordial centre, a place of true survival. I believe there is no better place to put all your trust into leading you to the best and safest place for a life of abundance and happiness. We have ALL experienced that feeling in the belly. That sinking feeling where you know something is just not right, or the butterflies in the belly as you meet someone special. In these first few moments we truly know something to be true.

Learning to listen to all three of these intellectual centres is helpful. But when there is conflict and or uncertainly, there is no question with which centre to lay your bets on. Always go with Gut!

Press Pause

Phew, that was a fast one! Mid March ……. Easter ……. Autumn all coming at once!

This year has been super fast, super busy and super duper! But as life picks up its pace and offers you all you could want and more and some of want you don’t want, this March is calling for time out.

Though it has been beautifully warm, there is no denying the change of the season and the distinct feeling that Autumn is on its way. Perfect. Now is the time to press the pause button.Unknown

Pressing the pause button at this time of the year is vital for a healthy, cold/flu free winter. Even better is if you can press the reset button as well!

Easter has come at the perfect time to step out of my busy schedule and to give myself some nourishing Self Care time, as well as hanging out at home soaking in the love vibes here. And I am encouraging you to do the same. If not this Easter break, then find some time during March or April to step back, reflect and realign your year.

Autumn, being a season of change, means its a good time for us to make changes too. What do you need to change in your daily habits and routines to sync in better with what’s going on in your life just now and to the inevitable change of the weather?

I have a few suggestions that follow the guidelines of Ayurveda, the sister science to Yoga and the art of good health and longlivity. Ayurveda asks us to live in rhythm with nature and  follow the seasons and cycle that the ancient mother follows.

Autumn is a drying season; the season of Vata. Vata is one of the 3 doshas of which governs all things that make up who we are. These doshas are made up of the pairing of the 5 elements. Vata is made up of the elements air and ether and this has the effect of drying out, not just the plant life, but us as well!

So in order to keep vital during this season and walk into winter strong, we need to keep juicy! How do we do that? I have 5 easy tips for you to consider.

Start by drinking more warm water! First thing in the morning even before your tea or coffee. Even better if you add some spices to it like fresh ginger, cardamon or fennel.

Eat warmer foods – soups, stew and curries. Root vegetables are great for autumn or any in-season veg available. And add more good fats and oils to your diet too.

Try going to bed a little earlier, especially if you are having sleep issues. Have yourself tucked up by 10pm!

Practice Self Care. Taking baths, doing facials, getting a massage and giving yourself a massage regularly.  In Ayurveda this self massage is call Abhyanga – and it is THE best self care routine you can do! Especially important during the drying Vata season of Autumn.

STOP! Press the pause button! Take a couple of days out to reflect, identify and adjust anything that isn’t working out for you just now.

A regular practice of Yoga and Meditation is naturally apart of this. Start finding pauses in your week where you can slip in a 10 – 15 minute practice of either or both. (This isn’t one of the 5 tips, just an on-going routine to consider and strengthen!!)

You only get one life to live in this body, so look after it well. When we look after our body, we also look after our mind. When we look after our mind we look after everything else in our life better too.

Pause.     Reflect.     Identify.     Adjust.     Continue.

 

Containing Energy

Here in the Southern Hemisphere not only has a new year began, but we are in the height of our summer. This is a season when energy is high. It’s the season of doing, of producing, of ripening. We see this reflected through nature with our trees dripping with sweet fruit and our veggie patche giving generously. c0aa117dd8c6fbb37961739ec4f10ae3

This year also has the energy of ‘doing’, of producing. Do you feel its pull?

So when the energy is high, the question does need to be asked, how do you control it? Often when we get excited things don’t always go to plan. I wrote a blog a few months ago Excitement runs Wild on how excitement can actually derail you. When the energy is high, it lifts into the head. We think fast, we breath fast and move fast. Personally, I find this unhelpful, especially if left unchecked.

This might play out by you starting a number of projects or ideas at the same time, only to find you finish none of them or don’t do any of them very well.

I want to give you some tips in channeling or containing your energy. If we are going to be effective, if we are going to ride that wave well, we need to contain and channel the energy so we actually get things done. We meet our goals and desires without taking the long way or exhausting ourselves in the process.

We might like to first experiment with channeling energy on the mat, in our practice. Listening first, noticing second and responding third. This is the art of a personal practice. And the way that we train ourselves to then bring this into our lives. If you would like to learn a little more about experiencing the currents of Prana, or life-force in your practice, you could come along to a workshop with Delamay Devi on Saturaday 5th March, Vinyasa & the Vayus. 

Channelling energy in our lives is very similar. I’ve come up with 3 simple steps to help you get an idea on how this can be done in daily life. The A – B – C of containment. Containment to me is about narrowing and narrowing the boundaries of your energy so you can land things in the real world.

First we have a thought, then we might visualise the thought, then we start talking or writing about it, then we need to start taking action. From there the thoughts, ideas and actions need to become more and more concise, more and more contained, in order for the end product to be completed. Make sense? So the boundaries become narrower and narrower. This is containment.

A is for Awareness. We need to know how we are, how much energy we have, what the quality of energy is and weather it needs containing or up-lifting.

B is for Breath. Breath is always key to any form of Awareness. If the energy is too high, then the breath lifts up into our body and we start shallow breathing. This can/will cause anxiety, fatigue and tension. If the energy is too low, we may not be inhaling enough! Coming back to the breath and consciously changing our patterns can reset our breathing and improve our headspace.

C is for Connection. Staying connected to our body. This connects back to Awareness & Breath! Know where you are holding tension or leaking out energy. Connect to the Earth for our Grounding. It’s important to keep grounded, especially during times of change or high excitement. Exhaling your energy to the Earth is a simple and effective method for instance Grounding. And, lastly, staying connected to your goal, to your bigger picture. This helps us to keep a prospective on things and keep the focus on what it needs to stay on. 

The A – B – C on containment is like the lining in a dam. It’s not really noticeable but it stops any leakage and allows you to use the (water) energy in a way that sustains growth.

Let me know what you think or any practices that you find helpful in keeping you grounded, sustained and full of ease.

Getting into Habit

So the year has began. There things you want to do this year, to achieve. Maybe you have made some resolutions or decided on some goals.Unknown-1

The thing is, all that sounds well and good but as most of you will know, resolutions are broken, goals often go unrealised and we are left feeling defeated, let down and fall back into old ways of being.

Change isn’t easy. As humans we resist change even when we know it’s want we want and it’s for our own good. We do this because of a sense of security we have around our habits.

Habits define who we are. We have hundreds of habits sprinkled throughout our day and week. All these little habits make up who we are, how we spend our time and what we spend our energy on. They sum up the person we are and the lifestyle we have.

Are you happy with your habits?

Perhaps there are some habits you preferred you didn’t have, while there are some you want to bring into your life. But how do we do that with some success, knowing how much we resist change in the first place?

First, I recommend you recognise a small habit you want bring into your life. Let’s start off small, something you know you can pull off. For me, I’ve decided on getting into the habit of daily Oil Pulling.

Next, I need to find the best routine in which it can work. Here I’m going to look at my daily routine. That is to look at the things I do daily and see which routine I have already developed that I can use as a trigger to remind to do the one I want to create. For example everyday I make lunch. So while I make lunch, I can also oil pull. That’s my routine and that’s my trigger.

Then I need to find the reward. I mean, we do things because we enjoy them or get something out of it right? So here I will notice how much fresher, cleaner and stimulated my mouth will feel and ready to enjoy my lunch more fully.

Of course there is so much more to changing habits than I have written here. But you get the picture. I encourage you to pick one small habit that you want in your life. Make it small and achievable so you can prove to yourself you can change habits. That you have the ability, willpower and focus. You might like to do that with a number of small habits. Make a habit of changing habits! And then you will begin to see yourself as a person who can and does change habits.

Building the personality and mindset of a person who can change habits, is as important as building the habits themselves. 

Set a date. Map your approach. Begin. And if you fail, work out what the obstacle was, refine your approach and start again.  Slowly you will be able to mould yourself into the the person you want to become!

Want to learn more? Why not visit the website of James Clear and download his helpful little booklet.

Gaining Clarity in 2016

Welcome to 2016!!!

The beginning of the year is always a great time to take stock of what’s important to you. Look at the direction in which you are heading and the way in which you are pushing yourself forward. What are your plans for the year? What do you see yourself achieving this year? Who is it you want to become and what are the habit your need to develop in order to achieve these goalsUnknown

I know for me, this year I want to gain Clarity. I want to get clear on the direction I am taking myself and my business based on what is important to me. And then get clear on how to do that and the habits I need to cultivate in order to support and accomplish them. Even the fact that I am writing here, I write now, to get clear.

All my life I have been fumbling around, ‘going with the flow’, letting the river of life take me wherever. And that hasn’t been a bad thing. I mean, I’ve had a pretty good ride. I’ve been adventurous, been to some pretty amazing places, seen a thing or two and experienced a thing or two. Not all good either, but that makes life the rainbow that it is. There’s no rainbow without the rain!

But I have reached a point in my life where I have to start paddling that river with some direction in order to get to where I now want to go. Goal setting and achieving has never been my thing. It’s second nature to some, but not I. I have never been too sure if it is fear of failure or fear of success that has put me off the most. Or maybe I was just young and carefree. But I honestly believe that there is no place for such complacency anymore. The times they are a-changing, to quote a famous song.

Do you feel the pull of life or the push of the Universe nudging you forward? How challenging has life been for you these last few years? Have you felt there is no place to hide, no room for pretending? Have you found yourself standing by the fierce heat of the fire, striped back to the bone with nothing left but your raw, throbbing pain, grief, hurt and desires pulsating loudly through your veins?

Have you been pushed to your limits only to found that you can actually withstand more than you thought? I know all this sounds a little dramatic. But this has been my experience of the last few years. This has been the experience I have heard from many people around me too.

It is time to wake up, to work hard, to stand up and let your greatest Self begin to shine through. So why don’t you join me in making this year your year for Clarity. Lets get clear on what we want, what we are good at and what we are meant to be doing with our lives. Then lets get clear on how we can achieve it.

Let me be clear. The world needs you. The world needs you to step up and be the best version of yourself. The world needs you to start doing what you are here to do. To share your greatest gifts.

In 2016 lets gain Clarity together and become, not just a better version of ourselves but for the world to be a better version of itself. It’s clear to me, for this, Clarity is needed.