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Yoga and your body


What do you think or feel towards your own body?

Do you have a good relationship with your body?

Do you look after and nourish  your body?

Are you grateful for what your body does for you?

Recently I have been doing a lot of working on gratitude. I has helped me redirect how I think about myself, life and the world around me.

Today during yoga practice with that gratitude process on my mind it popped into my head that despite everything my body does for me I am pretty mean to it.Even before looking at how I judge my body aesthetically, I work my body hard through yoga, walking, occasionally running, staying up late, not giving it enough rest and recently it has not been nourished as my food consumption has not only been poor but excessive.

And despite this it keeps going, achieving all of the above as well as all the little things I take for granted.

Do you take your body for granted?

Think about it what do our bodies do on a daily basis?

We all are more aware of important body functions such as heart, lungs, kidney, bowel, bladder liver function but are we grateful for it? Do you think about it?

The same can be said of our bones, muscles, tendons and ligaments? Perhaps not as intrinsically important as your inner workings but you can’t drink a cup of tea without needing to lift your arm and when broken down the mind to muscle movement is complex… are you grateful for that?

My thoughts during yoga this morning were that my arms will never be long enough to do certain poses. Blessed with the arms of a T-rex sometimes I find it frustrating at not achieving certain poses however instead of judging myself I turned it on its head and began to think what do my awesome T-rex arms do for me?

My arms are strong, so much stronger now than when I started yoga and as a result there are many yoga poses I can do and do well. My arms help me keep balance, they can lift, push, pull, reach. They help me play ukulele, do gardening, crafting, read a book, type, cuddle, climb, cook, eat and as I said earlier and very importantly let me drink tea! The list is endless. I am grateful for my arms.

Now that I applied my gratitude to my arms I considered this thought about the rest of my body, about all bodies. About how we treat ourselves. About how we think about ourselves. How we judge ourselves.

Big, small, short or tall, are you happy with what you have as a body?

Do you judge your body on how it looks or on what it does for you?

If you broke down what your whole body does for you on a physical level everyday and were grateful for that, do you think you would start to see your body and therefore yourself differently?

Do you think if you were grateful for your body you would start to treat it differently?

Could you hydrate it more? Nourish it more? Rest it more? Stretch it with kindness more?

what would happen if we said thing like

Hey body we just worked a 12 hr shift and you never failed me once!! Thank you

or

Great yoga practice, I know you were tired but I could really feel what you needed and we did it!!

or

Thank you for getting me up out of bed and making me my breakfast!!

What happens if we apply the same care to our bodies that we are beginning to use in our minds. Gratitude and gentle awareness

Anyway those were my morning yoga thoughts!

Do I have a conclusion to these thoughts?

Maybe, sort of and kinda… We are all (hopefully)getting better at looking after our minds with meditation and mindfulness. Yet we still very much take our physicality for granted. No matter how hard our bodies work through exercise or as a normal part of our daily lives there is very little acknowledgement, it is expected. And then we are mean, we call it names like fat or scrawny, we fill it with unhealthy food and we ignore it. Why? Our bodies never stop working for us day and night so what happens when we start saying positive things and begin loving our physical selves? What if we stop saying I will love my body WHEN……. and instead choose to love it NOW for what it can do/did do today.

Try to be grateful to your body today even if it is for the amazing muscle motion that makes you a cup of tea!

yoga retreat

Yes it’s happening! This year allnewyogalife will be investing time and energy into its first ever Retreat. For me this is very exciting. I love teaching, sharing knowledge and supporting my clients, so loving having the opportunity to do this on a much bigger scale, in a beautiful location, giving comprehensive care. It will be fantastic.

What is a Retreat?

One definition of the word Retreat is ‘the act of moving back, withdrawing’.

No matter what your lifestyle, fitting in self-care or me-time around family or work obligations can be hard.  So ‘moving back’ from that busy life, ‘withdrawing’ to a place where there are no obligations will give you the space to breathe and be yourself.

Even as a yoga teacher with a daily practice of yoga and meditation I struggle switching off to the world’s chaos. That is why I decided to organise a retreat.

It’s been interesting researching the world of retreats and advertising, picking a venue, putting together all the yoga and mindfulness classes, looking at vegan and vegetarian menus, setting dates and building a website. Setting up a retreat has been hard work and is not very “yoga” but I have enjoyed the challenge. Respect to all those others on the same journey!!

Finding the venue was the easy part, Cambo Estate, just outside St Andrews is simply magical and a place dear to my heart. Having had the pleasure to work here as part of the wedding events team (yes it does weddings!) I could see how it would be best and most beautiful location. My favourite way to do yoga is outdoors, no walls, no boundaries just the sky above us, connecting with nature through breath, yoga and meditation. Cambo is perfect for this. With seven classes over the four days, hopefully the weather will allow us to be outdoors for most of them. The classes will be based around my regular Hatha Practice, using the gentle slow flowing sessions to connect body and mind to the natural world around us.

The Retreat will be fully catered for with delicious fresh home-cooked foods everyday. Using my experience as a cafe manager and cook, it’s given me great pleasure to come up with a menu for all tastes that can be adapted for various dietary requirements.

Again…..so very excited that this is happening!

So the date is set July 1st – July 5th 2019.


Yoga and Photography

The Yoga world and photography seem to go hand in hand, perfect poses in luxurious locations. This is not always the reality. Until now for all of allnewyogalife blogs, facebook and instagram posts I have taken and used all my own photos. This has involved setting up my mobile on a wobbly stand in random places at home and outside while getting into pose, staying in pose while randomly shouting PHOTO! in the hope my phone hears me, then focuses, then takes a half decent picture. Despite this am not a shoddy photographer and thus far it has served its purpose, however there comes a point where you need to get the professionals in.

So I Did.

Yesterday I had the best time working with Zoe from photos by Zoe.

Zoe is a fantastic photographer with a beautiful way of looking at the world through her lense. Her eye for detail and gift for capturing light, space and subject makes her work sensitive and personal. This was why I chose her. I wanted someone to capture how the combination of yoga and nature makes me feel.

Believe it or not as a yoga instructor I still get pretty tense especially when getting my picture taken even in a yoga pose.

Why do I feel like this?

Why do so many people feel like this?

We love to capture life around us but to are unable to capture ourselves. Is that bare-ing too much? Never in my life have I looked at someone and thought they should never get their photo taken but am happy to think that of myself?

Thankfully Zoe has a way of making you feel at ease, safe and comfortable in front of the camera.

So we took Zoes’ people skills and photo skills and my love of outdoors yoga and put them together. All we needed was a venue.

Cambo House is a dramatic Victorian mansion set in the East Neuk of Fife. Surrounded by green lawns, walled gardens and wild woods. It sets a magical scene for any occasion. Mostly for weddings, festivals and snowdrops but today it was the location for our photoshoot.

Luckily it was a glorious day. We explored the grounds, walked through the woods, trip-trapped over bridges, clambered over rocks and paddled in the stream (which was freezing but refreshing). All the time trying out yoga poses and laughing. Even relaxing enough for some portrait shots.

It was a very life changing day.

Seeing images of myself taken by a professional made me see myself differently. Not that I was different or looked different, I was myself but I was doing what I love best, yoga while outdoors, connecting with nature. In all the fun I lost the fear of what I might look like, enjoying the moments before the photograph, not focusing on the click of the camera.

How yoga is that!?

Why did I decide on a professional photography?

Right now I am content with teaching classes, hanging out in fields and posting blogs. It is the best life. My own photos are fun for me and a very good visual diary so I will keep sharing them on Instagram and Facebook but they are not enough.

It is important to me to keep pushing my business forward in a professional way to give the best service for my clients. Providing clear information and a feel for what yoga is and what yoga means to me is a huge part of this.

Yoga is about being myself, the best of myself. Being happy within my body whether I can achieve a pose or not.  Finding peace when the world around me is busy. Being able to look at myself and not be judgemental.

My hope is that Zoe and I have captured that.

And by capturing it, it can be shared and if it can be shared it can be taught. Personal compassion and peace is what I want for my students. This is what I would love to help my students to find for themselves.

Below is one of my favourite photographs from yesterday. Its not a yoga pose but it is most definitely yoga…. More coming soon!

Photography byphotos by Zoe

Leggings byWildemode

yoga and affirmations

Its a New Moon today and not only does that give me an excuse to do some gentle moon salutations (Chandra Namaskar). It lets me set a new intention and affirmation for the coming few weeks. Clearly you can set an intention or affirmation anytime but for me the New Moon is best.

Since the beginning of time the moon has inspired humans. It has set the scene for romance, magic and horror within literature and art.

The moon has great energy not only symbolically but in reality. What would happen if we did not have a moon?

Scientists have known for centuries that the moon alters Earth’s ecosystems through gravity. As it spins around our planet, warping space-time, the moon contributes to a complex contortion of the oceans, producing twin bulges we call the tides. In turn, the daily marriage and separation of land and sea transforms the topography of numerous species’ homes and the access they have to food, shelter, and each other.

(…)
The moon also stabilizes Earth’s climate. Earth does not have perfect posture; it is tilted along its polar axis, circling the sun at an angle of about 23 degrees. The moon acts as an anchor, preventing the Earth from varying its axial tilt by more than a degree or two. Without the moon, our planet would likely wobble about like a dreidel, tilting a full 10 degrees every 10,000 years, and possibly oscillating the global climate between ice ages and hellish heat the likes of which no species has ever endured.

Excerpt from an article by Ferris Jabr, Hakai Magazine. Read the full article here Smithsonianmag

With all this amazing energy why not use it as inspiration for positive change.

A new moon is the best time to start something new.

Farmers would plant seed on a New Moon seeing the development to Full Moon as a way of bringing their crops to fruition. The use of Harvest Moon being the most significant. So when I set my affirmation at the New Moon I see it as planting a thought seed. An idea that I can work with and develop as the moon grows.

So what is an affirmation?

An affirmation can be anything that you set your mind to believe.

Affirmation –

The act or an instance act or an instance of affirming; state of being affirmed.

Something that is affirmed; a statement or proposition that is affirmed; a statement or proposition that is declared to be true

On a New Moon before my yoga practice I write a note simply stating what I want to believe of myself. Sometimes a simple ‘I am Strong’ other times something more specific. I put it under my yoga mat before and bring it to mind when I need it. I always feel my practice is stronger. When I am finished practice I put the note on my notice board or under my pillow a visual reminder of my affirmation.

Thats as simple as it gets.

Is it strange that I believe that by writing something positive down it can happen? That I can change? Its no more wierd than listening to the voice in our head that says something negative. We all know the damage that we do by talking negatively to ourselves.

What happens if we change that around? What happens if we believe in ourselves?

Some simple affirmations are;

I am Strong

I am Brave

I am Enough

But you can write anything. You can be more specific to personal growth or a life goal.

The world is your oyster

Yoga Pants

Its been 4 weeks since I got my beautiful new yoga pants and top from wildemode and thought it would be appropriate to give an update.

I first met wildemode last year as part of a business training course. I was working on allnewyogalife and she was making beautiful pants as wildemode. Straight away I was inspired by her fresh approach to underwear. Big bright and beautiful pants that were comfortable (I know because I bought & wear some) Even then I thought she could make the most amazing yoga pants and that there was definitley a future for her inspired designs. What was also inspiring was her determination to work for herself, support her family and create something new and cool in an industry that is mostly led by negative body image. Wildemode designs are for everyBODY and reminding me of my ethos that yoga should be for everyBODY. Products are also eco-friendly, fair-trade and supply sustainable.

Unfortunatley at that point and time I didn’t need new yoga pants and chose to make do with my mostly plain black lycra. Dont get me wrong I love black and wear it a lot but for my yoga practice my heart yearned for something fresh and exciting, colourful and supportive.

Then over Christmas and New Year I was poorly and lost a lot of weight. My Yoga practice slipped with a lack of stamina and strength and I generally felt rubbish. When I finally got back to regular practice and teaching my usual yoga pants didn’t fit. Not very professional to keep hitching up your trousers while teaching a class.

However every cloud has a silver lining! I needed new yoga pants and something to help get me back to being 100% yogi again, wildemode had the perfect solution. All it took was one message and one meeting to choose fabrics. Two days later I had perfect bespoke leggings well worth what I paid for them. So colourful, comfy, supportive and made to fit me, my body! And due to a new design at wildemode, two days after that I had a yoga top to match. Clearly they would not actually give me strength but I felt good in them and feeling good is half the battle.

On a practical side the products are wearing well. I practice yoga daily and since my new yoga togs are my favourite I have been wearing them alot. Both items wash well and have not lost colour. They have kept elasticity, no sagging or bagging, the stitching is still strong and they let me move freely in and out of poses.

Conclusion:

Fantastically handmade clothing by an amazing lady I would definitley recommend wildemode to anyone looking for something special as part of their yoga (and pant) wardrobe.

Check out http://www.wildemode.com

for perfect pants and get in touch to design your own yoga pants.

My yoga challenge

Today I set myself a challenge. Having been doing Yoga for four years now and enjoying every minute. There are very few poses that I won’t try even though I am far from expert. However I have to be honest and say there are a set of asanas that I have been avoiding.

Inversions

Even the word makes me uncomfortable.

Inversions include Headstand (Sirsasana), Shoulderstand (Sarvangasana), Forearm balance (Pincha Mayurasana) and Handstand (Adho Mukha Vrksasana).

There are many more inversions and variations of each inversion. However not being able to get past these four has left me limited.

When I was doing my YTT we had to do headstands and handstands every day. It was my least favourite part of the course and actually dreaded it.

So why am I pushing myself to do it now?

Because that is what life is for.

Challenging ourselves.

Right back when we were babies we challenged ourselves, sitting up, walking, eating, talking every step a huge goal and totally amazing.

This led us to school where we challenged ourselves through education, exams, joining clubs and social interaction.

Then as grown ups we become a little less eager to push our boundaries, finding comfort in the familiar. The quest to find something new becomes hard work and this can make us blinkered or insecure.

I am blinkered and insecure about Inversions.

Its not because I can’t do them, it is the fear of what happens if it goes wrong, fear of what I look like and fear of not acheiving the perfect pose which is crazy because my yoga ethos is that everyones own pose is perfect for them.

Some Yogis can handstand all day long finding perfect balance with no wall for support. It can be a beautiful and graceful thing. It is good for blood circulation, lymphatic drainage, it helps develop focus & patience and generally can help you feel uplifted!

Sounds great doesn’t it?!

So here starts the challenge. For the next month my personal yoga practice will revolve around inversion prep work and inversions. I will be kind and patient with myself, take time to find my own pose and not worry if it all goes wrong.

For all of you I will post daily on allnewyogalife Facebook & Instagram. And at the end of the month will do a before and after photo.

After 30 days if I still feel the same way then I will know that inversions are not for me.

But at least i can say I tried.

my yoga class


I love yoga…

Yoga provides me with a different way of looking at life, a different way of breathing, different ways to move my body and mind, helping me to switch off or switch on to everyday living. Since beginning yoga, I have become stronger physically and emotionally. Every single practice brings a fresh experience. For a short while this was enough but after helping friends with their practice, it was easy to realise I love yoga more when I share it. Therefore, I teach.

It is important for me to teach yoga the way I love yoga and it is so important for me to get each class right for my clients.  

Yoga is based on the natural world with most poses being named after Flora and Fauna because as yogis we are trying to mimic the physical and emotional strength and resilience that is found in nature. We then use this movement (asana)and breathing (pranayama) to try to balance the mind and body.

Each yoga brand, style or class has its own way of doing this.

So how would I describe my classes?

The goal of my class is to take you back to simple movement and then find strength in that movement. As we get older, we stiffen purely because we restrict ourselves. As babies we moved constantly while learning to sit up, crawl, walk. The floor being our mat. Children still move freely but already restricted by desks at school, dinner at the table, tv watching on the sofa. Nothing wrong with all these things but imagine if we kept as active and as curious as babies all our lives?

Every class begins with a breathing practice and a slow warm up of the spine, neck and hips. These are key points for pain and injury and for me it is important that they are warmed up properly before any further poses are considered. The class will gently pick up from here using a sequence of poses (flow) designed to focus on a specific body area; Back Bends, Hip Opening, Twists, Inversions etc. before coming to a peak pose then winding down towards a blissful ten minute rest in Corpse Pose (Savasana). Corpse Pose is how we close a yoga class. It relaxes the body, mind and nervous system allowing it to process your practice before having to get on with the rest of your day.

So far most of my classes have consisted of beginners. This is brilliant. Beginners are keen to learn and have formed no opinion of how yoga should be done. They are open to find what yoga can do for them.  In class we never assume poses with rigidity, we take time to find our way into them. Everyone has a different body shape because our bones and muscles will have developed differently as we have aged. When we achieve a pose, it is our own personal version of that pose, very rarely will there be an adjustment. working with these ideals provides a safe and comfortable class for everyone.

Come and try for yourself and if my class is not for you I will happily recommend one that will be.

Namaste