Not a creative person? Meditation will change that

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.”  – Pablo Picasso.

Creative people. They’re the rock stars, authors, and artists of the world. They’re the ones we look up to for their imagination and their talent.

They’re special, aren’t they? Those creative artists who create the music, books, and art we turn to when we want to dream.

People flock to La Louvre in Paris, one of the most impressive art galleries in the world, oggling the works of artists like Gericault and Da Vinci. They were people born to create works of creative genius. Many dream that one day they may create works that would be one hundredth the creative brilliance of those paintings adorning the walls of France’s most important gallery.

Yet many think that only those alike to Da Vinci and Gericault were born for creative brilliance,  the rest of us are not. Right? If we were born with creative talent we would surely know about it, wouldn’t we? Talent like that couldn’t be hiding somewhere, unbeknownst to us. Could it?

But what if creative talent isn’t reserved for just the lucky few? What if creative talent is actually inside us all?

Pablo Picasso famously said, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.”

Sure enough, every child is indeed an artist. Give a two-year-old a crayon and they’ll draw you a picture. True, it might be a mangled mess completely uninterpretable until said child tells you it’s a cat, but they will grab that crayon and they will draw to their heart’s content; they will have a go.

Trouble is, most adults will not have a go. Give an adult a crayon and they’ll probably just put it right back in the box and tell you to grow up. It’s like the mere idea of being creative seems absurd to them.

We lose our creativity as we grow old. And no wonder. “Stress is a well-known creativity killer,” says psychologist Robert Epstein, PhD. “Time constraints are another.” As we age we are gradually exposed to both increasing levels of stress and tightening time constraints, and our creativity is stifled.

Stress and time-constraints kill creativity in many ways:

  • Stress prevents the mind from being playful, which is essential to creativity.
  • Stress makes us obsess over worries rather than thinking about possibilities.
  • Stress prevents us from living in the moment, cutting off our main source of inspiration.
  • Stress is tiring, sapping our creative energy.
  • Time constraints mean we’re forced to do things the way we know rather than looking for alternatives.
  • Both time constraints and stress make us hyper-focused on action and results, preventing us from looking outside the box, from considering alternative options, and, ultimately, from being creative.

Put all these factors together and it’s easy to see why the modern world is custom designed to kill the average adult’s creativity.

But that doesn’t mean adults cannot be creative. It just means we have to make a concerted effort to actually use our creative powers.

The key to reclaiming our creativity, perhaps surprisingly, is this: We need to chill out.

Sounds jovial. It’s actually both vital and incredibly accurate.

If we want to be creative we have to let our minds play. We have to stop being so darned focused on the time and on productivity and results. “Chilling out” truly is the answer.

To say we need to “chill out” really means we have to let go of stress so we can be more mentally flexible.

We can liken this to yoga.

Physical stress kills a yoga practice like mental stress kills creativity, and for precisely the same reason.

When we are tense (in other words, physically stressed) our muscles are cramped in one position, making it impossible for them to take up an asana.

Similarly, when we are mentally tense (stressed) the mind is too forced in one position, too focused on one way of looking at things, making it impossible to be creative.

We can solve both these problems in the same way.

When we are tense in yoga we don’t immediately stretch out into full expression of standing bow. We begin by helping the body to relax. Only once the body is relaxed we can then move with more ease and grace into the posture.

It’s the same with creativity.

When we’re mentally stressed we don’t pen A Tale Of Two Cities.  Rather, we have to take steps to relax the mind so that we can start to be more creative.

To relax the mind, we meditate. But in a specific way.

The majority of meditation techniques are focused. These are techniques in which we focus the mind on one thing, such as the breath. This, however, is not conducive to creativity because creativity is not about focusing on one view. It’s about being open to myriad different views.

The opposite of focused meditations is Open Monitoring.

These are meditations in which we do not focus on one thing, but rather we extend awareness to the entirety of our environment. It’s as though consciousness were butter in a warm pan. The butter expands evenly to cover the whole pan. Same with open monitoring meditation. Consciousness spreads evenly so we are aware of our whole environment.

If you have ever found yourself fully absorbed in beautiful scenery you will have experienced open monitoring meditation. It’s the state in which we feel one with our environment, when we seem to breathe with the world, when we are calm and yet aware of the fullness of our environment.

Scientific research proves that open monitoring is an incredibly powerful technique for creativity.

Cognitive psychologist Loenza Colzato studied the affect that open monitoring meditation has on divergent and convergent thinking. These are mental processes that enable us to come up with new ideas and bring those ideas together into one cohesive unit (such as when we conceptualise a story, first brainstorming ideas and then bringing them together into one story).

Colazato’s study showed that open monitoring meditation significantly improved these mental processes. This, Colzato said, showed that open monitoring meditation is an incredibly powerful tool for creativity.

The reason open monitoring meditation boosts creativity is, essentially, because it is freeing. It undoes the damage that too much stress and time constraints do to us.

As adults, it is far too easy to become hyper-focused on productivity and results, always choosing the trusted way rather than being free to experiment. It’s a self-imposed cage in which we cannot see the infinite possibilities that are always within us.

Open monitoring meditation opens the mind, limbering us up like those warm-up moves in yoga. It creates mental flexibility and freedom with which we can realise our creative potential.

Why not try open monitoring meditation today. It’s easy.

To do open monitoring meditation:

  1. Go somewhere quiet and relaxing, a place you would want to be one with (such as a beautiful countryside).
  2. Sit or lie down.
  3. Count your breaths up to 50 just to relax.
  4. Be aware of your senses. Listen, feel, smell, taste, and see the environment around you.
  5. Let your consciousness rhttp://dailycupofyoga.com/wp-admin/index.phpeach out so that you are aware of everything.
  6. If thoughts and feelings arise, let them come and go while still paying attention to the environment.
  7. Continue for 20 minutes.
  8. Notice how you feel more open, more relaxed, and freer.

Practice this technique whenever you want to get in touch with your creativity. It will open your mind and give you the mental freedom and flexibility with which to be creative.

Yin Yoga: A Yoga Practice Every Athlete Should Adopt

Sore muscles, injuries, over-extension of the body…if you’re an athlete then you’re no stranger to these. From running track to weight lifting, chances are you’ve experienced some type of injury or strain throughout your life. Injuries may be inevitable at one point or another, but what if I told you there is a practice even the most trained of athletes could adopt to prolong and minimize injury?

Enter Yin Yoga. A gentle, yet challenging, yoga practice that allows you to drop into your own body, listen, and be present with anything and everything that comes up, both physically and mentally. Yin is a seated, grounding practice, within which poses are held for 3-5 minutes in order to bring mobility to the joints and ligaments. By practicing this style of yoga, athletes are able to work deeper into the muscles to transform the way the body moves.

In most classes you see in Western yoga, students are working with their yang muscles, or powermuscles, which can be similar to an athlete’s normal routine. When practicing yin yoga, students are asked to relax into postures, taking on a more passive approach to working through deep connective tissue and fascia in the body. Fascia, oh, juicy fascia, connects every part of our body together and by caring for your fascia, you are maximizing athletic performance and muscle flexibility.

Yin Yoga offers athletes a chance to find stillness in the mind and body. Given that poses are being held much longer than a yang-style yoga class, a student will notice everything under the sun come up in their mind and body. From sensation in the hips to thoughts about past experiences, yin allows these physical and mental emotions to rise and be released through the power of passive movement. When intimately working with the body by breaking through connective tissue, students will find themselves breaking through old emotional patterns and coming out of class stronger. Not only in the body, but in the mind as well.

Yin can be practiced at home or in a formal class setting, although it is recommended to start in a class where a teacher can hold space for your body and all that arises. We offer Yin every friday night at North Lakes, at 6:30pm, and every Sunday at Nundah, 6pm.

Carnival Month

Brazil is a place famous for soccer, samba and carnival, a place where joy and energy pervade the air. It’s also a country rich with natural beauty. Brazilians are warm, open people, and they have a unique and powerful connection to the earth. So it’s no surprise that yoga has taken hold in Brazil, and the yoga community is growing strong.

This is especially true in major cities like Rio de Janeiro. Cariocas (people from Rio) live a super-relaxed beach lifestyle, and love outdoor health and fitness. I mean, who wouldn’t want to hop into a handstand on Ipanema Beach, or paddle out for some SUP yoga next to Sugarloaf Mountain? Rio de Janeiro is one giant outdoor playground — or to us, a giant outdoor yoga studio.

When visit Brasil, you’ll understand why. The breathtaking scenery in Brazil is absolutely crying for you to sun-salute it. This month being Carnival, we decided to dedicate our Instagram account to to all things yoga in Brasil! Head over to our page and check it out!

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Is Bikram Yoga The Cure For What Ails You?

Does your yoga practice help you deal with a physical disability or other health issue? Sharis’ does. She has a moderate hearing loss and tinnitus (ringing in the ears). It can be very frustrating and physically exhausting. When the tinnitus really flares up, it can be quite debilitating, making it hard to think, and her balance can suffer. It can sometimes lead to feelings of vertigo or extreme dizziness.

Through out her struggle, she turned to the Bikram yoga practice for routine, for solace and for strength. Now, she recommends yoga and meditation to all her friends with an injury or ailment as a way to deal with the frustration, but also to give the body and mind the strength it needs to survive and thrive despite the challenges we face every day. I think this is the case for many people battling physical ailments and infirmities.

One of the things about Bikram yoga is that it is accessible to people of all physical abilities. I have been in classes with people who suffer from Lyme disease and Parkinson’s, people who are recovering from cancer, people who are recuperating from serious knee or back injuries, and students who are dealing with more invisible ailments such as depression or mental illness. In all cases, the yoga practice seems to provide a physical release along with a jolt of mental strength to tackle whatever challenges they have to face that particular day. For me, I know it helps me to blow off the steam of frustration or confusion, teaches me to persevere in the face of discomfort, and to find stillness and calm when things get tough.

Shari’s hearing loss was not something she talked about for many years – trying rather to hide it and ignore it. However, in the past year, she has “come out of her hearing loss closet” and become a hearing health advocate. Check out her blog –  Living With Hearing Loss, where she discusses the challenges and issues related to hearing loss and tinnitus. Her goal for the blog was to share her story in hopes of helping others to live more peacefully with their own hearing loss and tinnitus. She believes the Bikram yoga practice is in part responsible for giving her the personal strength and resilience to acknowledge her disability and to become comfortable in the face of this discomfort.

Readers, does your yoga practice help you cope with a physical or mental challenge?

5 Ways Yoga Transforms a Woman into a Goddess

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Deep down, we all feel that we are goddesses in our own way.

Sometimes we take breaks from our yoga practice –  change of city or job, getting married and next a baby, lots of things to adapt to – yet there is a sense of missing something. 

I believe that each of us carries the powers of Athena (Greek Goddess of reason, intelligent activity, arts and literature) and Rati (Hindu Goddess of love, lust and sensuality) locked away in all those beautifully strong and feminine parts of ourselves. Nowadays, we are so quick to forget this as we go through our lives, worrying about groceries, money and rushing to work and caring for others.

When we take the time to come to our mats, a lot can happen in those short moments of solitude and practice. Yoga is so much more than just the postures themselves. It is a powerful and subtle practice that can change our whole perspective on the world.

“When we feel pain, fear or discontent with our self, we feel separated from our self and from our own body, we feel disconnected. In yoga, we’re uncovering what exists inside of us and we learn to see that what’s there is already whole and complete.”

The identification with wholeness and completion that yoga heralds is not only a result of connection to breath and movement of the body, but it dates back to Vedic philosophy and the foundations of yoga. The ancient Sanskrit mantra “Sohum,” or “I am that,” is the affirmation that the individual self can identify with the essence of the universe. The yoga practice brings us closer to this notion and thereby rewires our own perceptions of fear: It’s about becoming aware of our patterns and reworking them.

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In Sanskrit the word yoga means “to yoke”, to join the small individual self with the divine Self. The premise being that each of us is already divine in our own right, having forgotten this through our identification with our body and individuality.

The more attached we become to our lives, our “can’s” and our “can’ts”, the easier it is forget that we are actually all divine beings capable of anything. For most of us, it is only in those rare moments when we really watch our breath or move into a pose that we thought we couldn’t do that we catch a glimpse of her, that goddess that resides within.

Over time those rare glimpses will become more frequent. Over time your yoga practice will make you into even more of a goddess than you ever thought possible.

Here are 5 ways that your yoga practice makes you into a goddess:

1. It creates confidence.

We all started out in the same point: a regular yoga mat, black leggings and an old T-shirt, wondering why we have to pose like a rabbit and why we are the only ones in the class confused when the teacher started speaking in the ‘Yoga language’.

That is where the beautiful journey usually begins…And over time as you start to feel more physical strength, flexibility and balance in the body, more clarity and determination in the mind, and more light and love in your heart… you realise you can take on the world and you’re more ready to try. Confidence continually builds from the inside out.

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2. It makes you more beautiful.

It’s one thing to look fabulous, but the real beauty comes from the inside, from your energy.

All yoga practices, whether they are based in asana (poses), pranayama (breath) or meditation, teach us something about ourselves. The practice is an avenue towards self-awareness, and true self-awareness is one of the most gorgeous things you can drape onto your body.

When we practice, we can tap into our feminine energies, our masculine energies and our divine light. We can listen to ourselves more fully and appreciate that there is beauty in even our most disliked “flaws” and imperfections.

3. It allows you to drop your labels.

The world has become very tough when it comes to labeling.

Society has no shortage of labels to put on us, and we carry the weight of those labels along with us each day. Just think about how many of these labels have been applied to you: sister, mother, wife, daughter, playful, stoic, selfish, caring, fat, skinny, weak, strong, sexy, tired, bitchy, confident, overactive, shy, cute, … we could go on for pages.

When we take the time to step on our mats, we allow ourselves to leave those labels at the door. We create a safe space for that time, and we tap into that part of ourselves that is divine and unchanging, the part of ourselves that is always beautiful, confident and capable no matter what the world is telling us.

4. It gives you that “glow”.  

Yes, sometimes that glow is most obviously felt as it drips off your chin in second set triangle, but that is not the glow I mean here. I am talking about that “wow” factor, that energy that precedes you as you walk into a room. It is that unidentifiable element that causes people to turn their heads, to smile at you or to listen more intently to what you have to say.

If you been to a great yoga class or been truly inspired by a great speaker, you know what I mean. It is that moment when you’re perfectly balanced and peaceful, ready for anything the world can throw at you. You are confident and beautifully full. At that moment you are unmovable and the goddess within shines forth a light that is intoxicating.

 

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5. It inspires you to sing, dance and move your body.

It has happened to all of us. You’re walking down the footpath, washing dishes or cooking and realize you’re humming. This is a continuation of the ‘energetic melody’ you created in the yoga class – the movement or transformation of dull energy to fresh, continuing to pulse through you.

These positive vibrations feel like joy and bliss in your body! Every goddess is joyful and enjoys immeasurable moments of bliss – sure Durga (Hindu Goddess of motherhood and creation) may find her joy in different ways than Aphrodite (Greek goddess of love, beauty and pleasure), but they live fully, embracing those parts of themselves that are the strongest and most awe-inspiring.

 

Keep up the practice. Trust in yourself and remember that each of those goddesses already resides within you too.

 

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namaste

 

Robins 30 Day Challenge

Robin decided to do a 30-Day Challenge early in the summer. We saw her every day, the highs, the lows (there were way more highs) and she had such an enthusiastic attitude the whole 30 days!! We couldn’t help but ask if she would contribute to our blog, Robin wrote an amazingly honest account of her challenge, check it out!

photoWhy did you decide to do a 30-Day Challenge?

I decided to do a 30-day challenge as a birthday gift to myself. I talked about it at dinner one night with my family and with their support, I decided to start on my birthday! What better gift than the gift of health. The reason I did the challenge was to test myself, could I really do yoga everyday for thirty days and live to tell about it??!! Also, to see if hot yoga every day would help my back feel better – and no big surprise – not only did it help my back I’m pretty much pain free, I feel amazing. I’ve been dealing with low back pain for two years, had I known all I had to do was thirty days of Bikram Yoga I would have done this two years ago!  I have learned that I can be very strong one day and very weak the next but it is okay as long as I just keep showing up, that is what really matters. I feel like this is something I can do for the rest of my life, I can’t imagine my life not doing hot yoga. I guess I’m an addict, haha!

What were some of the challenges you faced?

One of the challenges I faced were evening dinners. We take turns cooking and I definitely needed a helping hand there. We also eat at 6:00 most nights and now we are pushing it till 7:00.

On day thirteen I’m not sure what was going on. I felt like I was never going to make it to thirty and was just tired and sore, I literally felt like I was dragging myself through the 90 minutes but I made it and just didn’t look back.

So why did you come back then after Day 13 what keeps you coming back?

What keeps me coming back, I guess is all the people I’ve talked to about pain and how hot yoga has helped them. How it’s helping me!

What are you struggling with currently in your practice?

I’m currently struggling with depth and strength. In my mind, I think I should be able to go deeper and hold myself stronger. And then I have to remind myself to just relax and be patient. We hear that all the time from the instructors but it’s so hard to implement it.

What is your favorite pose right now and why?
I’m really loving the camel pose when I come out and lay down I feel just awesome, like I’m on a cloud and my body is being supported in all the right spots. It’s kinda weird, but I like it.

What pose is challenging for you right now?

One pose I feel like I’ll never get is Eagle my leg just will not go around to hook my calf maybe one day!

What would you tell someone who is considering a personal challenge for themselves?

If someone is considering a challenge I would say really anyone can do it. Set a goal, then just stick with it –  don’t let anything get in your way. It also helps to look at your personal 10, 20, 30 day calendar to see if any major events are going to happen. I wanted to do a challenge but knew July would never work because we are going on a family vacation, although I’m already thinking of ways to find yoga while away!

Congratulations Robin, a 30-Day Challenge is no easy feat! Thank you for your strong example of strength, courage, and determination! You are an inspiration to all of us!

 

10 Benefits of Prenatal Yoga

Set aside time in your day and honour where your body is at and the beautiful changes occurring with your pregnancy. Practice loving compassion for yourself and baby. Prenatal yoga is one of the best things that you can do for yourself, as well as your growing baby.

We are looking forward to introducing regular prenatal classes at our studios in Nundah and North Lakes. Classes will go for 60 minutes, in a non-heated room, and will help you to maintain your peace, vitality, flexibility and breath during your pregnancy. However, as always, listen to your body while you practice and do as much as what feels right to you.

Some of the benefits of practicing yoga during pregnancy include:

1. Develops stamina and strength

As baby grows within our body, more energy and strength is needed to be able to carry the weight.  Yoga poses strengthen our hips, back, arms and shoulders.

2. Balance

Our balance is challenged physically as the fetus grows within our body. Emotionally we are drained due to the increases in progesterone and estrogen. As we try to focus on holding and breathing through each yoga pose, we are able to fine tune our balance, physically and emotionally.

3. Relieves tension of lower back, hips, chest, upper back, neck and shoulders

As baby grows, more stress is put upon these specific muscle groups in our bodies.  We tend to have more of a lordotic/lower back curve due to the increased size of our bellies. Our hips get tighter due to the added pressure of baby’s weight in our bellies. As our breasts increase in size, our upper back and chest have more tension, along with our neck and shoulders.

4. Calms the nervous system

Through deep breathing, the nervous system goes into parasympathetic mode, which is responsible for relaxation.  When our bodies are in that mode, our digestions operate properly, we tend to sleep better, and our immune system is at its optimal.

5.  Preparation for Labor

You are working with conscious breathing during each yoga pose, which may sometimes be challenging. This transfers into the time of labor, allowing one to practice being “comfortable with the uncomfortable” through our breathwork.  As you inhale, you acknowledge the tension that is felt.  As you deeply exhale, you let go of it more and more with each breath.

6.  Connection with baby

A prenatal yoga practice allows us to slow down and focus attention on what is going on within our bodies. Through working with our breath and doing each pose, you become more aware of what is going on within.

7. Increases circulation

Circulation is enhanced within our joints and our muscles are elongated during practice.  Upon circulation of the blood within our bodies, swelling is decreased and our immunity is enhanced, creating a healthy environment for a thriving baby.

8. Breathwork practice

This is a good tool for labor during contractions.  If we are consciously breathing, our blood pressure and heart rate is regulated keeping us in parasympathetic/relaxation mode.  Calm mama equals calm baby.

9. Sense of community/sisterhood

It can be very comforting to be with a group of women who understand what we are going through.

10. Nurturing time

This time allows us to stop and slow down from our busy days.  Through the practice of yoga, you are setting intention in taking care of not only yourself, but of baby.

Five reasons to give Bikram Yoga another chance

1 – Healing – Bikram Hot Yoga has been used by many practitioners and teachers alike to help with and often alleviate back pain, knee pain, arthritis, and so much more. The raised temperature of the yoga room combined with the specific series of postures (done twice) & Savasanas help to realign your body. Through realigning yourself and learning to work the correct muscle groups, not only can you alleviate existing issues, but also ward off future problems. The yoga promotes the movement of fresh oxygenated blood around the body, assisting and promoting healing . If you have an injury, it is imperative to speak to your doctor/pyhsio/ chiropractor/ therapist etc., to confirm they believe you are in a fit state to participate in this form of strenuous exercise. We would then ask that you arrive at least 20 mins prior to the start of class to fully discuss your injury with BYC staff and your teacher. The yoga can help, but only if we listen to our body and our teachers. Never push into anything that is painful & never alter the postures to suit you. Even if we can only do 1% of the posture, but we are doing it correctly, in the correct alignment, we will see the benefit. A study in 2013, on the effect of heat & cold on the human knee, concluded ” Heat is beneficial in increasing muscle and ligament flexibility and may help reduce athletic injuries”. (Effect of heat and cold on tendon flexibility and force to flex the human knee Jerrold Scott Petrofsky, Michael Laymonand  Haneul Lee)
2 – Stress Relief –  You wouldn’t often associate sweating for 90 minutes in a room heated to 40C with relaxation, but we are here to tell you Bikram Hot Yoga is a wonderful stress buster! This may not have been your experience from your first class – it was not ours – but we promise, give it a few classes and you will understand what we are talking about!
3 – Improved Flexability – Research has shown that heating our muscles improves their flexibility, safely. The heat of a Hot Bikram Yoga Class allows practitioners to safely move deeper into posturers. If we listen to the feedback of our body and take  ourselves to the edge of our personal range, each and every class, our muscles listen and this range improves, improving our flexibility.

4 – Strength & Toning – All weight bearing exercise, when done regularly and correctly, tone and strengthen. Each and every posture in the Hot Bikram yoga serious is specifically designed to use your own body weight, to help build the strength and tone in your muscles. As you are using your own body weight, it is safe to practise everyday (should you so wish). In Bikram Hot Yoga, as with most forms of exercise, you only get out what you put in.  Moving into the postures alone will not magically transform your body. It is your effort level, combined with the design of the postures, that will create the results you want.

5 – Weight Loss – The cardiovascular nature of some of the class, combined with the strengthening effect of all of the postures, can lead to weight loss. However, exercise is only part of the weight loss story, combined with a health balanced diet, and this is where the real results are shown. Warning, if you are a ‘scale addict’: muscle weighs more than fat, so, as you are melting away your fat and building lovely lean muscles, the scales may not change, or they may even go up! However, the results will be obvious in how you feel (and in your clothes!). On this weighty note, we feel it is important to let you know that we believe that being healthy is what is truly important.

Health, generosity, kindness, enthusiasm, warmth: these are the qualities that make a person a beautiful and should make you feel beautiful! It is easy to say it, but not as easy to live it!
How about we change our perspective together?
Connect with yourself in the mirror and realise that you are beautiful. Beauty is a feeling that comes from within.  Cheesy as it may sound, try it!
We have one life and one body, in which to live. Treat it well.
Let’s build our body confidence together, in the room, on the mat. Build your strength, build your health, build your focus, feel the power that is you and your body. Work together to share your energy. You are beautiful. We are beautiful. Together we are all beautiful.

New Year, New Yoga Resolutions

At this time of year, I always find myself contemplating resolutions. Fast forward a month, another year and I find myself contemplating the fact I didn’t stick to any of my resolutions, and thus resolving not to have any resolutions in the future… and yet the cycle continues.

But 2016 is going to be different for me. I can feel it. Because now… (drum roll please) I am a yogi. Well… kind of. I want to be a yogi. I fancy becoming a yogi. I want 2016 to be the year of the accidental yogi. Let me share with you my new year, new yogi resolutions – and then check back in with me in a month or a year to see if – wait, I mean HOW – I follow through on them all.

1. To touch my toes

OK, OK, I know that’s not a really legit resolution, but I wanted to ease into my resolutions…

2. To do more yoga

So far this year, I have managed to practice sporadically. I wouldn’t exactly say it was a regular practice. I have been known to make excuses to get out of class from time to time. When I get stressed, I prioritise my work, or when I’m tired I still choose to sleep over practicing yoga. I KNOW this is not good for me. And I want to get to the point where I prioritise my yoga, because I know how good it feels. It’s not about losing weight or getting flexy (aside from resolution number one) or getting toned and looking good (though I will admit that would be nice… see resolution three!) – it’s about being strong, healthy, happy and calm in my day to day life.

3. To invest in some lovely new yoga gear

Oops – the old non-yogi me demanded to take control of at least one resolution so let’s indulge her for a minute. The way I see it, if I have a dedicated yoga wardrobe – you know, those quick dry patterned yoga pants that feel like a second skin, non-slip Bikram mats, soft fluffy towels for wrapping up after class, sweet smelling organic shower products and a luxe oversized slouch bag to stash them all in – I am more likely to go to class and achieve the above point! And hey – I did switch to organic rather than commercial products that pollute our water! And with all the laundry I’m going to need to do to accommodate all these clothes after all these classes, I need to be conscious of the environment however I can be!

4. To learn more about yoga

With all things in my life, I tend to do them best when I appreciate the reasoning behind it – whether it’s a language, a skill, a dish I can cook, a movie I know all the behind the scenes trivia about (hello Star Wars!) or a piece of electronic equipment I use. And so it stands to reason that yoga would be the same. I’ve discovered our teachers are a font of knowledge on the subject of yoga, and I have learnt a lot from them already, and don’t get me started on good old Google. From technique and philosophy to anatomy and spirituality (and let’s not forget Sanskrit!), there is just so much to absorb, to learn, to embrace, and I can’t wait to know more.

5. If I can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all

We learn this as children, but I have found as I grow older, it is easy to become cynical. It’s easy to use sarcasm as a form of wit. It’s all too easy to complain about things that don’t make you happy. It’s easy to moan and groan when things don’t go your way. But the more ‘yoga people’ I am surrounded by, the more yoga websites and blogs I read and the more yogic my life becomes, I realise life doesn’t have to be surrounded by negativity. In reality, it should be just as easy to gush when we love something, to smile when we’re happy and to compliment someone when they’ve done a good job. So for me, I’m going to think before I speak from now on. If it isn’t positive, why put it out there in the world?

6. Be patient

This is a simple one. No more honking the horn when the person in front of me drives at 20 kilometres an hour. Rather, just slow down and enjoy the view. No getting frustrated when a client is late for a meeting. Just use the time to catch up on emails, or Facebook gossip, or whatever your online preference may be. No huffing and puffing when I still can’t get my legs into my armpit and feet off the ground in Crow position. Be patient. It will come…

7. To be more conscious about what I put in my body

Now. This is a classic resolution for many people, however it usually starts as a negative. For example. Having a resolution not to drink. Not to eat chocolate. Not to have a cheeky Mc Drive Thru after yoga, but by starting with this negative ‘not’, I believe you’re setting yourself up to fail. So I’m going to flip it. I have a resolution to eat more fresh vegetables. To drink lots of vibrant, colourful juices. To guzzle water by the gallon (not in class though – it’s just a sip, right Sherry?). To have healthy snacks on hand to avoid splurging. To respect my body by treating it to things that make it feel good, and ultimately contributing to making my practice run smoothly.

8. Be grateful

I am indeed grateful for everything in my life, but sometimes it’s easy to slip into some unconsciously selfish behaviours (hello resolution number three!). So this year I would like to make much more of a conscious effort to be grateful for the many things around me. For starters – I live in Australia! What a beautiful, stunning, breathtaking, magical place. And the nature here – just wow. I get to write about places, people and things that I love, from the comfort of my own home with my beautiful kitty cats on my lap. What a beautiful way to spend my days – and be lucky enough to get paid for it. I feel privileged to practice yoga in a welcoming, non judgemental studio with wonderful teachers. My life is pretty great. But I think it’s important to take stock of that, and just be consciously grateful of that.

9. Breathe.

Because that’s what yoga is all about.

10. To be more yogic

I guess this resolution is a little like the sum of all the parts of the above resolutions (perhaps minus numbers one and three), but I do feel it deserves recognition in it’s own right. I would like to wake up in the morning and be conscious, be aware, be a good person, be grateful, be humble, be strong, be dedicated, be healthy, be helpful, be wise, be caring, be giving, be non-attached and above all, be happy. I am yogi… hear me om!

A yoga teacher’s letter to her first time student

Sweat and Stretch at Bikram Yoga North Brisbane

 

Dear First Timer:

You don’t even realize how amazing you were throughout your first class!  You stayed in that hot, sticky, drippy room the entire time.  You followed instruction.  You took a seat when you needed one.  You even found stillness during Savasana.

I know you are doubting these words right now.  I know that you looked at the folks in the front row and had the thought, “That will never be me.  They must have been born with freakish flexibility or godly strength,” but I’m here to tell you that they started the same way you did, following along, trying their best, and wondering how they had found themselves in this crazy yoga class.  The only thing they did that others sometimes do not, is come back. And not just a couple of times, but again and again and again as they looked for a way to master the class, to master their body, their mind, and their breath.  To master their lives.

I wish that for you.  That you come back.  That you try again.  You might have resistance to this practice.  You might find an excuse why it isn’t for you.  It was too hot.  The teacher was too loud, their voice booming through the microphone, so that you cannot even pretend that you cannot hear them.  And at times they even called out your name to encourage or correct you and you wished with every loud beat of your heart pounding in your ears that they would simply leave you alone.  It was too bright and and the mirrors were too much, as you watched your face get an alarming shade of red you had never witnessed before.  You might even have a headache tonight as your body urges you to drink more water and eat better food after you dripped with what seemed like buckets of sweat throughout the class.

I hear you.  Yoga is not easy.  It is a challenge.  Taking up a regular yoga practice is one of the bravest things you can do in life.  It means you are willing to become better than you are today.  It means you are ready to take responsibility for your own life’s story and face yourself on the soul level for at least an hour, day after day, to see where you are locked up both physically and mentally in order to free yourself from past injury and emotional turmoil.  It is more than a workout.  It is a work in.

I hope I see you in my class again.  For me, there’s nothing better than sharing this yoga and I want to share it with you.  I look forward to the day you look in the mirrors and smile at what you see or maybe even pull your mat up to the front row, so you can really get a good look at you and your practice and where you are in that moment.  For someday, if you stick with it, you will find your own strength and your own flexibility, in and out of the studio and you, my friend, will shine.

Sincerely,

Your Yoga Teacher

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