May _ Mental Health Month

I might of mentioned a few times that I’m going to be 50 this year and as part of those celebrations I have started a year of fundraising. Supporting 12 charities over 12 months. So far, I have run, walked, cycled and now I’m going to do what I’m good at…Yoga

May is Mental Health Month and charity I have chosen to support is Mental Health Foundation Scotland

What is Mental health?

Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.

MentalHealth.gov

Mental health impacts everyone. When our mental health is good life is easier. When our mental health is under strain /stress life can feel overwhelming in many different ways such as mood swings, Insomnia, Anxiety, Depression etc if left unaddressed it can manifest in more extreme ways.

I am not an expert so I’m not going to go into much detail however I am going to come at this from my own experiences of mental health as something that I used to feel uncomfortable speaking about but now hope that by sharing it may help someone else.

As a small child I used to take most things in my stride but as I started school I became anxious about daily life. School, friendships, games, going places, meeting people all became overwhelming. Home also changed at this time and became a place that I did not understand and where I could not talk or express how I felt. So I spent a lot of time alone as this was easier than dealing with feelings and emotions that arose. These feelings have traveled through life with me. There have been periods of time being ok and points where I really should of asked for help. It is only in the last 10 years that I have begun to address them, while still finding talking about myself and how I feel a difficult thing to do.

But talking about is what we need to do.

We need to take a big step away from the Victorian ideal that feeling insecure or scared is a weakness,that to ask for help, support, advice, love makes you less of a person.

If you are having feelings or emotions that overwhelm, if you are insecure or unsure, please talk to someone. If the first person doesn’t understand try again and again. If you cant talk to friends or family there are many groups you can contact online or in person. Really asking for help is the hardest part but there is someone out there who understands.

Over the next month I will post links to various groups, websites, resources etc if you have any questions please ask.

This years theme for Mental Health Awareness week (10th – 16th May) is ‘Nature’

I love this because nature and being outdoors has always been a safe place for me. It is so resilient it can be found everywhere even in the busiest city. Nature somehow makes us feel better. Whether we are bird watching, walking, gardening for veggies or flowers, hugging trees or simply sitting in the sun, nature has a way of soothing our emotions.

Over the week of 10th – 16th May I will do a live daily outdoors yoga practice to share via Instagram and Facebook. I will also be posting sessions on mindfulness and meditation. You are welcome to join me live or you will be able to access the videos later in your own time

All classes will be free however if you feel inspired please donate and help with research and fight the stigma of Mental Health.

It’s March already!

Time is flying fast this year. Snowdrops and daffodils are blooming, the sun is trying to shine but its still pretty cold out there. I have been outside most days for my yoga practice but there are still some days where I enjoy the comfort of the central heating! Plus I am spending a lot of other time outdoors.

As I mentioned in my last blog I am 50 this year and to celebrate I challenged myself to do 12 charity fundraisers over 12 months. In January I walked/ran 56 miles for Maggie’s Fife. In February I walked 10,000 steps a day for ‘Scottish Families Affected by Alcohol & Drugs’. This month I am cycling 250 miles for Sands. The rest of the year is still in planning(excited).

All of these challenges have been brilliant so far. I have loved doing them.

Due to Covid-19 the last year has been hard for everyone, emotionally and spiritually, and I know I am not alone in saying I have felt a complete lack of focus and interest in my work and life. So to be able to put myself out there to support something else, something worthy has really helped get me through the beginning of this year and I am looking forward to seeing how the 12 months pans out.

The support and sponsorship I have had from family and friends has been amazing but I do realise not everyone is in position to give, especially not to 12 different charities over a year, when they are furloughed, on less pay, less hours or not working at all. Am mostly grateful of the awareness that is being brought to each of these worthy causes. Some smaller charities literally rely on 3 or 4 members of staff who are trying to do their work and fundraise which during Lockdown has been made impossible.

So whether you feel like sponsoring me or are just liking my posts both are amazing and I am very grateful for your encouragement and support.

Yoga in 2021

Its 2021! Im sitting here late on a freezing Friday afternoon having just finished my 200 hrs Yin Yoga Teacher Training. Hurrah!!! I was unsure how it would be learning online but as always Dhugal Meachem, my teacher for Hatha and Yin, prepared an amazing class. Am so excited, happy and grateful to have completed the course given the circumstances at the moment. Not only was it interesting and fun but have met so many beautiful amazing people also on the course. Feeling more confident in all aspects of teaching I am now looking forward and planning how to bring this to my clients. Not so easy when no-one really knows what is happening with Covid and social-distancing.

However it is important to look forward enough to see the world returning to some kind of normality. My main goal is to continue teaching outdoors and am looking forward to having classes at the beach, in the woods and at park. Also returning to a regular class the local Scout Hut when we can.

My other goals this year include furthering my Yoga education with a teacher training course in Prenatal & Postnatal Yoga. Another anatomy based course which means I will as always be teaching from the view point that everyone is different physically in our proportions, in our bone structure and this makes a huge difference in understanding why we all can’t do all the poses….its good to be different.

One of my other interests has been my allnewgreenlife work as much as there never seems to be enough time for two projects it is becoming more and more important that we all do our bit to protect the environment. This website/blog is a work in progress with my own green journey and some hints and tips to on how to make make a difference. You may find the greeness slipping into this website and social media as the two lifestyles are not so far apart. Any green ideas to share? message here or on allnewgreenlife.

This year I turn 50! so have challenged myself to do something for a different charity each month. This month I am doing the Maggies 50 Mile Challenge which has been amazing at motivating me to exercise and inspiring me with stories and updates from other participants. With 29 miles done and 21 to go am thinking I will try go further than 50 miles in the hope of maybe raising a little more money!

And thats it, its not a huge plan for this year but as I said we are not sure where the world is going so right now I just need to have some hopes and dreams but not get stuck in the logistics. Other than this I will be baking, drawing and painting while looking forward to Spring where hopefully we can all spend time with family and friends.

What are your plans for 2021? What are you looking forward to? Hopes, dreams, holidays? Whatever it is have faith that we will all get there one day at a time.

What have I been doing!

Today I finished my third week of Yin training. The first two weeks were pre covid and in person so it was interesting to see how it would work via Zoom. Surprisingly for me (not so tech minded) it was great. Quite simple to use the online format and just as informative, educational and supportive as the previous training. 

It was also really nice to focus on one thing over a few days. Studying anatomy, philosophy, meditation and practicing Yin yoga has been blissful. Plus I got to meet a whole new lovely Yoga Tribe.

The only downside was being indoors.

As you will have noticed since Covid began I have meandered into the background. With very few blogs and FB posts. The last few months could have been a perfect opportunity for me to push forward with my online presence but (despite my enthusiasm towards my training online) teaching via Zoom didn’t feel right.  

What I have been doing is building on my outdoors practice. 

It’s been a daily experience of beaches, hills, woods, sunrises and sunsets. (check out my Instagram). Come rain or shine I have been outside. 

The difference between yoga indoors and yoga outdoors is profound. Yoga is always lovely, studios can be beautiful and relaxing but outdoors removes all boundaries while being physically connected to the natural elements and the natural world.

To feel the earth between your toes, 

the rain on your face, 

the heat of the sun on your back, 

a warm breeze or a cold wind.

To gently watch the seasons pass. 

Practicing with a chorus of Blackbirds, Robins, Wrens, Thrushes.

Being laughed at by Crows and whistled to by Buzzards,

To watch Deer graze, Squirrels play and hear Foxes bark. 

While moving through sunrise sun salutations and moonlit lunar flows. 

It’s not all glamorous, I have been soaked by rain, slipped in mud and even been sunburned through Factor 50 but it is all part of the joy.

Being outdoors has helped me cope through 2020.

If there was any doubt about where my practice and classes were going for 2021 the last 5 days ‘online training indoors’ has made me realise it will be outdoors all the way, with some exceptions in extreme weather.

Hopefully by the New Year there will be the opportunity for you to come join me outdoors in small personal classes. If you’re interested please feel free to message about group or private sessions.

Below is a photograph from my online training with Dhugal Meachem. If you are interested in learning either Hatha or Yin yoga I would highly recommend his trainings

Connection

It’s been a while since I last wrote a blog, or should I say published a blog. I have written many but they haven’t seemed appropriate or right in light of everything that’s going on. 

Humanity is really in a big mess at the moment Covid19 has impacted every country in the world to varying degrees. On a political level some countries have handled the situation in a very considered and careful way and others are recklessly still clattering through it without much consideration to the health and wellbeing of their citizens, their focal point being economy and profit. 

On a human level it has been hard. Lockdown is hard, fear is hard, loneliness and separation are hard. There will be few people who have not been emotionally impacted by the last few months. We are human and no matter how introverted, reclusive or shy some of us are, all humans are social animals. 

This has been made apparent to me in my own experience of ‘stay home stay safe’. Initially I found it easy staying home opening up to my more creative side, drawing, painting, gardening (started a veggie patch) spending more time with my husband and youngest daughter. In my heart I am happy in my own space, going at my own pace. Looking back in the beginning it felt more like a holiday but as weeks began to pass I felt each day differently with emotions moving between happy, sad, anger, confusion and frustration. In these last two weeks I have cried everyday with no rhyme, no reason. Just like the rest of the world I am overwhelmed and missing the rest of my family and missing friends.

Even though I am a Yoga Teacher I am not particularly sociable and even when I did socialise it was mostly small occasions, in fact I have always considered myself to be anti-social. So when it came to my classes I thought it was only my love of teaching yoga that gave me the drive and confidence to teach. It wasn’t easy (still isn’t) sharing a passion was exciting but also horribly nerve-wracking for me but that  intention to help others see and feel the benefits of yoga felt like a guiding light. No matter how scared I felt teaching it was worth it because I wanted to make a difference.

So when public classes became a non option on top of everything else that was happening I felt a little lost and empty with regard to my work. Thinking it was the lack of teaching that was causing the emptiness I started free live classes on Facebook.  Again a terrifying prospect, teaching in a new mode. By no means am I an expert in the technological or social skills required but I felt I had to teach and also in all of the anxiety surrounding Covid19 I wanted to do something that could help in some small way. FB live felt like the best option to give access to everyone.

I have been posting 3 live online classes 3 x a week for a month now. Classes go between comical and awkward, some better than others but after I still feel empty and lost. Of course there are so many greater things going on in all of this socially and politically other than my teaching that will aggravate this melancholy but what I have realised is that it is not just the teaching that I love and miss, it is the connection that comes from teaching. In a real class I get chat, anecdotes and stories, I get to hear how everyone is and I get a feel for how everyone is. The room has a mood and energy. This is what I miss, not just in class but in life. 

There is simply no pill that can replace human connection. There is no pharmacy that can fill the need for compassionate interaction with others. There is no panacea. The answer to human suffering is both within us and between us

Dr Joanne Cacciatore

Maybe it sounds silly but I can’t believe how ground-breaking this is for me. As a self declared anti socialite to realise that physical and energetic human connection is what I miss, is what I am empty of. I am not missing shopping or cinema or the pub, I am missing humans.

Connection is why we’re here. We are hardwired to connect with others, it’s what gives purpose and meaning to our lives and without it there is suffering.

Brene Brown

What to do with this thought and feeling right now I don’t know, it seems there is still some time to sit on this emotional roller-coaster and think before we all get to become socially interactive again. Maybe we should consider the importance of connection with others on any level, a smile, a hello, taking more time for each other and respecting the individuality of each person we meet. I’m not sure I will become more sociable after but I will be most grateful for all the people I interact with even if its just a smile.

If only you could sense how important you are to the lives of those you meet; how important you can be to people you may never even dream of. There is something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person

Fred Rogers

So while social media doesn’t replace the gift we have as humans for connection I will keep teaching on FB live. Please feel free to message, ask questions, and tell me about what you’re doing to pass the time. We can still connect this way as best and as safely as possible.

Until we meet again, be kind & stay safe.

Namaste

photograph by photosbyzoe

Yoga & Meditation

Last year I set myself a 30 day Challenge of Handstands not because I loved them but because they were a challenge for me. They still are! but that is the point its not about doing something easy.

This year my challenge is to meditate everyday for 30 days. Doesn’t sound difficult and as a yoga teacher that has been practicing for a few years now it should be easy but it isn’t. Within a class or with a private client it is easier as my goal is to help others but as part of my own practice I am so easily distracted ans so undisciplined it is ridiculous. So this challenge is about practicing what I preach.

Meditation is good for you.

It is an ancient practice with historic recordings from many cultures across the world. In fact it is often mistaken that meditation is a by-product of yoga but yoga was the exercise that the original yogis used to make their bodies strong and resilient enough so they could meditate for hours without pain.

However only recently have scientists started looking at its benefits.

What are its benefits?

  • Meditation reduces stress
  • Meditation can help improve anxiety and depression
  • Meditation can improve your memory
  • Meditation can lower blood pressure
  • Meditation can help reduce pain
  • Meditation can improve your attention span
  • Meditation can slow aging
  • Meditation can help you concentrate

All of this has been proven in some way within scientific studies. Some aspects will be influenced by the lifestyle around the meditation and there are always outlying factors. There are some scientists that disagree and say that there is no proof or that the studies were not scientific enough. However to err on the side of positivity lets say it does work, look at this amazing potential to self-care and heal that could move society away from its reliance on pharmaceuticals. Meditation research has only just scratched the tip of the iceberg.

Whatever the research says though the work and the experience is down to the individual.

I love to research as part of my blogging because just having an opinion is not helpful. Facts are helpful and when I decided to write this blog I thought it would be easy. A little bit of research mixed with my own experience, a couple of hours writing and Ta-Dah! But when you get into it Meditation is not clear cut. Different religious connotations, different ways to practice, a lot of ‘he said, she said’ and more of ‘I’m right and your wrong’ attitudes. So I am going to avoid that all together and simply say two things.

  1. Meditation is not a religion. It is a part of many religious practices but you are not committing to anything religious by meditating.
  2. There are a lot of different ways to meditate and like anything in life its important to find what is right for you.

Already on day 6 and I have posted several different techniques to try and find what suits me best. As a general rule it is suggested that you meditate the same way everyday however that does not suit me. I meditate to how I feel on the day. So if you choose to meditate don’t feel you have to stick with one way. Try alternatives to see what fits.

Also dont be dismayed if its not an instant fit or if there are days where it is hard, it is hard.

We are now all programmed to be busy whether it is work or home there is very little down time in our modern lifestyles so switching off or even trying to switch of is a challenge. however that is where and why meditation is so good, when you meditate it is like a mini brain reboot or when an electrical appliance is not working and you switch it off at the wall, count to ten and switch it back on and Hey Presto! it works. Meditation is like switching yourself off at the wall!!

So whether its 10 breaths or 10 minutes give it a go.

Yoga & 2019

This has been an amazing year for allnewyogalife. If you had asked me 5 years ago what I would be doing in life I would never of guessed at being a yoga teacher. But here I am!

A year of regular Hatha classes, already started a new training in Yin Yoga. Held a beautiful retreat and been on the most amazing photoshoot. Life is busy and fun.

I am very grateful to have the opportunity in my life to not only find yoga as a personal life practice but also to teach yoga to others. It is such a fulfilling experience. Whether its when someone says they have noticed a physical or emotional difference in themselves or just when you see all the relaxed faces coming out of Savasana. Yoga makes a difference.

For 2020 I will be making some changes. There will be no more Monday morning classes as I am hoping to move toward teaching more private clients. This is where I would like to focus my skills. Creating a safe comfortable one to one environment for those that do not want to attend a public class. Private teaching will be based in the comfort of the clients home or outdoors.

However with the completion of my Yin Training in 2020 I will be looking to have a regular Yin Class. If you have any interest or want more information on this please get in touch. It is important that there is enough interest to make this class work.

My Friday class will continue as is. It is my preference not to teach big classes. However at the moment there are a couple of spaces if you would like to come along and try in the New Year. Class starts back on 9.30 January 3rd 2020.As the days become longer and lighter it is my hope to have some impromptu outdoors classes. These will be posted on allnewyogalife FaceBook and Instagram. However I look forward to some planned outdoors events too so keep checking in with the events page.

Wishing you all a Very Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year. Let 2020 be an extraordinary year that brings you everything you hope for and more.

Namaste

yoga and savasana

There is no denying Savasana is everyones favourite in yoga class! but is it a pose or is it just the lying down part at the end of every class?

Lets break it down!

Savasana, Sava meaning corpse and asana meaning pose. Its definitly a pose!

The pose of a corpse where you are literally giving into the weight and relaxation of your body as though you were dead. The pose itself is described as lying flat on your back, on your mat, feet as wide as your mat, arms by your sides, palms facing up, keep the head and neck central so the spine is straight, gently tuck the chin and relax.

Doesn’t sound difficult? All you have to do is allow the whole body to soften and let go. You can cover your eyes and wrap yourself in a blanket. Variations are available for example if you have lower back pain you can put a bolster under your knees or perhaps support the head or neck with a folded blanket.

So why do some of the more well known yoga teachers such as BKS Iyengar describe this as the most difficult pose?

It’s to do with your mind. In savansana you are meant to release mental chatter and focus on the present moment. You are not meant to fall asleep, you are not meant to think, you are meant to let go of daily life and its worries and stresses. As you would in death. This is the part that is the struggle. How many of us find it easy or even comfortable to switch off from home, family, work? We are so used to our minds and bodies being busy! That is why savasana is so hard but so good because at least we are trying to switch off and by giving ourselves permission to try it becomes easier.

Try is the important word here. As I said its not easy and sometimes it will work better than othertimes. Sometimes you will fall asleep and sometimes you will not switch off and that is ok. However if your getting frustrated there are techniques to help you. For instance you can focus on slowing the breath, listening for your heartbeat, try a slow body scan or my favourite, focus on a single point inside your head but as with any yoga pose it is with regular practice of savasana that makes the difference.

But why should you let go of everyday life in this way?

It is a deeply important part of your practice because when you shut down the body and mind after yoga it allows your physical and emotional self to process the poses and the energy used in your practice before returning back to daily life. Like a reset button savasana can give clarity and renewed energy and not just after yoga!

By teaching ourselves how to stay awake while completely resting our bodies we are calming the nervous system. When stressed the nervous system is responsible for anxiety, fatigue, depression and more. So not only can savasana can be a sweet and gentle lie down but it is also a helpful tool in soothing the stressed mind in our chaotic busy lives and an integral pose that should be part of any yoga practice or class.

The recommendation is that you have 5 minutes of savasana per 30 minutes of yoga. So per class you should have at least a full ten minutes in savasana. As a big believer of its processes I don’t think anything less will give you the deep relaxation required.

Savasana is the point that makes my classes so worthwhile to me. Simply knowing that someone/everyone is taking 10 full minutes of quiet for themselves and then at the end, once class comes back up into a comfortable seated position the results of yoga with savasana are real and obvious.

So next time you are at yoga class and its time for savasana, don’t leave before it happens, don’t rush it and even stay down a little longer because its good for you. Taking time for yourself, being patient and relaxing is important because you are important.

Yoga means union, the union of body, mind and spirit and in savasana you are bringing body, mind and spirit together in the most peaceful and calming way. So perhaps savasana is one of the most yogic yoga poses you can get!

Yoga Expectations

Last week a close friend said to me she would come to my classes once she felt less anxious about her size and phyisical ability.

It was a sad moment for me to hear my friends pain and worry. It would never of occured to me she felt this way. In my eyes my friend is a strong, beautiful, capable women, always fun and I thought confident. As her friend how did I not see this? This sadness also impacted me as a yoga teacher. To know my sole purpose in becoming a yoga teacher was failing and failing someone close to me.

I understand my friends fears it was years of home practice before venturing out to try a public yoga class and even then classes were intimidating. It took a lot of trial and error as not all yoga teachers/classes are created equally.

So my goal in becoming a teacher was to create a space where there was no need to feel anxious. Size, shape, phyisical ability none of these should impede a practice of yoga.

Yoga is for everyone.

Perhaps I am not saying this often enough or shouting it loud enough.

Modern conceptions of yoga are still pose based, achieving the extreme? Social Media, Instagram, FB etc all fuel this. Perfect pose, perfect body, perfect location?

This is not real life. It is a stage set, a play, drama with lights, camera, action.

The real yoga, the practice starts with you, on the mat anywhere that is comfortable and safe for you. Breathing in and out. Then using that breath to become aware of your physical self. Moving gently focusing only on what your body CAN do for you.

No expectations.

This could be for 5 minutes or 2 hours.

No expectations

Savasana is always the end goal no matter how long you or hard you practice. Time to soften down and let go.

No expectations

This is what I explained to my friend…in a little less ranting kind of way. Apologising that my focus on business had distracted me firstly from friendship and secondly from my purpose.

Re-evaluation is what comes next. Grateful to friendship for opening my eyes. Allnewyogalife is a business but my intention was not to run a business but to teach a practice of yoga, sharing kindness and holding space.

Balance between the two is crucial, if I am not acheiving my intention my busines is pointless.

So I journey back to my intention with an invitation.

Would you like to try yoga but feel intimidated, overwhelmed and not sure where to start? Contact me. No pressure to come to class, no pressure for private lessons. Just talk to me and lets take it from there ♡

yoga anniversary

Its been a year since I taught my first class and actually looking back am amazed that I ever came this far.

When I first started practicing yoga it was from a difficult place. Depressed and struggling with anxiety, I was physically unfit and unsure of where my life was going. With my body failing me in various ways; back & shoulder pain, pelvic floor problems and hormonal imbalance. Fitness classes were a no go. Socialising on any level went from awkward to intimidating. Thankfully yoga was an exercise that I could do from home in the comfort of my tiny living room.

It didn’t take long for me to find that yoga was more than an exercise and that yoga combined with meditation could make a day go from stressful to calm and it still does! I am still quite an anxious person but daily meditation and yoga give my mind the balance to cope better.

The biggest difference is definitely to my physicality. I am more lean and toned, teaching 5/6 classes a week will do that but its not how I look that impresses me about my yoga but how I move. I used to be stiff, pain does that and I was almost fearful of hurting myself. Yoga has made me strong and flexible, all my physical problems have improved to a point where they do not bother me. Although there are poses I can’t do and might never do I can accept that. Yoga has given me a deeper knowledge of my own body, heart and mind.

There are no photographs of me from before I started yoga. I hated seeing myself. and while I’m still not keen when it comes to yoga I realise that its ok . I have been challenged this week to share more about myself, stories and pictures so while I won’t blog everyday there will be regular instagram and facebook updates. Below is a photograph taken this year by photos by zoe this is me ….Karen the yoga teacher ♡