Being a yogi may not mean you're always blissful. In your life journey there will be dark moments, when old emotions are triggered, let them come. Don't ignore them as what you resist persists. Acknowledge what is happening, give yourself permission to be vulnerable, to cry or laugh... express your emotions and allow yourself to just sit with this experience. At the same time you don't want to judge how you feel, you don't want to comment on your emotions, just let them be.
I heard recently someone saying that we live in emotional dark age, we're expected to hide emotions so we put a mask and get so used to pretending that after a while we completely disconnect from feeling.
-How are you?
-Good, thank you.
Why do we even bother asking?
Be honest with yourself as much as you can. This is the most intimate relation you have. Your emotions are always there to tell you something, so listen to them, they are like compass in your life :)
So... find space and time to pause and turn your gaze inwards, ask yourself how you feel.... enjoy the conversation, enjoy this space :)
Have a look at these amazing yoga pics taken in our studio @The Boathouse in Barking.
Chosing black and white was an excellent choice Mr Shamack :)
Perfect balance between darkness and light... warm and cold... Sun and Moon, active and passive... it all comes down to YOGA :)
Check the whole photo-session HERE.
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This is a hard time of year for me, always has been. Christmas fever is over, New Year has started and lots of expectations, plans came with it. It would be perfect if they all came true, wouldn't it? I'm good in talking about plans but not in bringing them to life. Because what's coming with all the great plans I have is usually lots of fear and doubts. So at some point I start procrastinating, postponing the actions, finding excuses, distractions for the mind.
BE A WARRIOR NOT A WORRIER..... I read it once printed on a yoga top.
You could say easier said than done. And it's true, it feels so hard sometimes to be strong, we worry so much about so many things, about our health, our family, our job or about not having it. Mass media feeding us regularly with bad news (who wants to listen to the good news, right?), local or global, economic, political, national or religious conflicts. All this slowly sinking into out mind which is then analysing all the data and creating certain conclusions.
And we are also bombarded with the solutions to our problems, lots of informations about how this medicine or that equipment can help us achieve what we want or help us with a problem we have. Don't you think it would be wise first to use the tools and techniques that are free and we all have access to? To see if it makes any difference in the quality of our lives, to see if we can learn how to control our fears and insecurities and eventually to live a peaceful life. I don't see why it shouldn't be possible, it is possible. But it requires some work from us. So if you have enough of being a worrier give it a go.
It all comes down to controlling our mind to use it the way we want it. Our mind is just one of our tools as a human beings, we want to be able to use it wisely and not letting it control us.
We also have to stop running away from what we think and say, how we act and react to the world around us. Once you start noticing your thinking process, then ( and this is the hard part :) you need to reprogram your mind and stop judging and rating everything. Have you actually noticed that we put labels on everything and everyone? Including ourselves, our looks, our thoughts and actions. If you want a peaceful mind you simply need to stop. So see if you can notice what your mind is doing but not giving it any comment or judgement. There is no right or wrong, it just is and you decide if it's serving you or not.
Once you have all the above in mind find a spot where you can comfortably sit, in a chair or on a floor, mat or blanket in a cross-legged position. Make sure your lower back is supported and neck and shoulders relaxed, you may need a wall.
If you're busy it may take as little as 5-10min. But to be honest if you think you don't have even these 5 min to spend, you probably need more :)
Rest your hands on your knees, gently lengthen the spine up creating a bit more space in your ribcage.
Close your eyes and bring your attention to your breath. Let your breath be as natural as possible, don't force it, don't manipulate, just let the air come in and out in the rhythm comfortable for your body.
After one or two breaths your mind may start creating a story or comment or picture. And you may not notice it for a while, letting it take you somewhere as usual. But at some point you will notice and then without any judgement bring your attention back to your breath. Don't force your mind to do anything, it won't work. Just acknowledge what your mind is doing and come back to your breath.
Your mind will be wandering many times and every time you realise you're not fully present bring your attention back to your breath.
This is one of the simplest ways to start meditating. And why am I linking it to being warrior not a worrier you may ask? Well, once you start using this quick technique regularly you will see that your mind is mostly analysing the past or projecting the future. Being constantly in the past is not going to change it, the past is gone. Worrying so much about the future doesn't make much sense either as nobody knows what will happen, we may predict but we don't know.
Practising awareness and being in the present moment helps to take all the chatter in the head away. And once there's no noise in the head, we don't worry so much and have space to start living the present moment fully. This is the only thing we have... the present moment.
It may be a long way, boring process of repetitions, but I don't want to be terrorised by my own mind. Do you?
I probably shouldn't be saying that Christmas is round the corner yet, but I feel that time runs faster and faster every year.
So before our life gets really hectic in December let's see if we can do something to prepare for all the stress that sometimes comes with Christmas preparations, shopping, the busyness and overindulgence.
Before we start giving and sharing we need to find the energy and balance within ourselves. We need a strong, happy body and a calm and clear mind.
I think that the beginners course we've been running for nearly two years is a perfect way to learn how to stay grounded and enjoy what you love about Christmas the most instead of stressing about it.
Let's learn how to breathe through it, stay calm and keep our body in a good shape.
Yes.... yoga tools and techniques we learn in this course can help with that :)
And this is going to be our last beginners course this year !!!
More details and booking here.
The course will cover the below sequence of postures called Sun Salutation, the most popular sequence (vinyasa) in any vinyasa yoga class. We learn how to come into the pose, how to hold it and how to move to the next one, which muscles to contract, which parts of the body to relax, where to gaze and how to breathe.
And how to find stillness in the movement :)
This is a short yoga sequence focusing on the core. Rectus abdominus, transverse abdominus, external and internal obliques serve a very important purpose in all types of movements. Strong core also means healthy spine. So hop on the mat, move with awareness and connect with your breath. Enjoy your practice, enjoy your body :)
'Yoga is a dance between control and surrender - between pushing and letting go - and when to push and when to let go becomes part of the creative process, part of the open-ended exploration of your being.' Joel Kramer
Do you feel that you've tried everything and it's still not working?
I feel like this in my yoga practice sometimes. I know the technique, I prepare properly but the pose is still not available to me.
And then I say to myself: ok, maybe not yet, maybe my body is not ready. I take the step back and stop pushing.
When I give my body time to digest all the work it's done in preparation for the pose then my mind is not so fixed on the pose anymore.
Only letting go of expectations allows me to go deeper in my yoga practice. And this works every time I'm stuck.
Pushing and trying creates more tension in the body, frustration and self-doubt in the head. There's no space, no energy, no subtlety and we're so exhausted with trying.
If we can let go and our mind is not in charge anymore then things start happening in more natural rhythm and life becomes an enjoyable experience.
In the world where everything needs to be improved to perfection, where we're expected to be constantly better and achieve more, instead of finding space and freedom we may get ourselves into uncomfortable and tight place where it's hard to breathe and move with ease.
So think about it for a moment and see where you need to push and where you can let go.
When the time is right whatever you've been preparing yourself for, will come.
And if it will not......well..... then apparently it wasn't meant to be... just let go :)
Since I started discovering yoga I've been constantly looking for guidance and some inspiration to keep me motivated and on track.
I've noticed certain benefits of yoga after few weeks or months of practice, such as less pain in my lower back, deeper breathing and calmer mind. It was the best motivation to keep going.
But at some point your mind may get bored with your body doing the same over and over again. And you may think your body will never be able to do this or that pose. It may be true, may be not.
Some of the yoga poses will feel easier in your body than others, some of them really challenging and some absolutely out of reach... at least this's what we may be telling ourselves.
For me if the pose required more upper body strength or being upside down I'd do anything to avoid even trying it :)
One side of me was so inspired by hundreds of photos of advanced yoga poses on social media and the other was saying: you're gonna break your neck if you try this.
Over time I started training my mind to stop criticizing all the time and training my body to be steady, mobile and ready for more advanced poses.
Taking small steps and repeating until you feel your body gets stronger, lighter and ready to go further is the key to go deeper into your yoga practice. Persistence and patience does pay off.
Sometimes I'm recording my own yoga practice, mainly to see what I'm doing, how I'm moving my body.
And I put this video together as a reminder that sometimes things don't look perfect, sometimes we may be disappointed with our body, with what it looks like, with what it can or cannot do. It's important to remember that sometimes it takes more than one try for things to work. And it takes some determination and patience.
So don't give up on your body. It's a wonderful vehicle that should carry you through this life with joy and courage.
Stay with your practice,
Keep consciously moving your body with the breath,
Look for inspirations,
Help your body reach beyond the point your mind thinks is the limit,
it's been 18 years last weekend since my first date with my life companion :)
to celebrate this impressive number we spend a long weekend in nature, camping, enjoying the Sun, picturesque mountains, cold rivers... which is what we both love...
I feel privileged to have this long relationship experience, I feel lucky to see us change so much over these years and at the same time being the same us, to see our relationship going through thick and thin, troubles and joys and each single experience making the relationship only richer and stronger,
it made me also think how very often we take things for granted and only on occasions like this we stop and appreciate things we have and experience,
I practise yoga to be grateful for and appreciate every moment of my life, every relationship with other people... yes, even the difficult one :)
because every experience, every relation with the family or friends is a lesson, it's meant to teach us something...
pay attention when you're with other people,
really be with them,
enjoy their happiness,
accept their decisions, even if you don't agree with them,
see that nobody is trying to hurt you, everyone is trying to find their own way to be happy and it's just that some people may not know how to find peace within themselves,
and enjoy every moment of being together
Flexibility or strength? Which is your main challenge on a yoga mat?
For me it was always the second. I remember my first few months of yoga practice when I couldn't understand how people were able to come to chaturanga dandasana (four-limbed staff pose) without collapsing on their faces. I wish I'd recorded my whole journey with this pose because I honestly thought at some point that I'd never be able to do it.
It's an integral part of my everyday practice now and it simply feels good to have a stronger body. I'm using and challenging the muscles that have been neglected for a while and it's a good feeling to find more strength and feel my upper body really active :)
If this pose is a challenge for your body as well, try this simple exercise..... and enjoy your journey !
Benita has been a dedicated yoga practitioner for 10 years, received her yoga teacher certificate in Sri Lanka (YogaArts School, Australia), accredited by Yoga Alliance UK. Her classes are a creative and joyful experience with strong connection of mind and body, resulting in feeling energised but also balanced and calm. Suitable for all levels. read more