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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

yoga and illness


If you read my last post, you would have heard all about my plans for cool, calm, happy holidays. Christmas and New Year were going to be a great time for me to get on with my own yoga practice as well as catching up with and having fun with family and friends. Fulfilling my daily yoga asana to help me through it all and how in the end everything would be ok!

Well that kind of worked.

The run up to Christmas was hectic but everything was done, wrapped, delivered and ready. Food was ordered. All plans put in place. Even organised and advertised my new year classes. Excited and hopeful for 2019.

Even Christmas Day everyone was happy with only a couple of tiredness tantrums and not even by me!

So, what went wrong?

On Boxing Day, I woke up with the flu. The actual Flu, aches and pain, freezing and boiling, coughing and choking, nausea and stomach cramps. If there was a flu symptom, I had it BAD!

The last 2 weeks have been a physical and emotional washout with 4 days pretty much a blur. No friends, no family, no visiting, no food, no fun, no Yoga, no meditation, no training, no study.

This is not what I planned.

As much as I am gutted at how awful I felt and to have missed all the beautiful food, company and game, I missed my yoga most.

Is this sad? I hope not, I hope it’s a sign of my commitment and love of a practice that has changed my life.

The longest I have gone without yoga practice in the last 4 years was 2 days and for these last 2 weeks I have been barely able to stand. At the beginning there was no option but now as I improve it is getting frustrating.

For someone that believed themselves to be strong, fit and healthy, I have no strength, no energy, no stamina. Walking is a struggle. Tadasana is exhausting. Having had to cancel my classes that I teach and attend, I feel completely lost. My favourite life-changing thing is beyond my grasp.

What do I do?

There is a temptation to be miserable, to feel sorry for myself but what will that achieve?

Instead I will be grateful. Be grateful that I am getting better. Be grateful that my body helped me fight the flu. Be grateful that there was help at home. Be grateful that yoga has already helped me once and that it will again.
Maybe tomorrow will be that new beginning!? but for now I will keep comfy cosy.


yoga at christmas

Its that time of year again…love it or hate it…its Christmas…and its not like its a surprise its an  ANNUAL experience!

Tinsel everywhere, baubles’ and trinkets hanging from every hook. The Christmas tree has taken up half the living room!.The house is festively over-flowing!!

Yes I love it but also find it completely over-whelming. There is so much going on right now. Christmas Shows, Christmas Parties, Christmas Fairs, Christmas Shopping, Christmas Clothes, Christmas Food etc etc etc. Our expectations are thrown, what we expect of others and of ourselves is often too much. What we want and what we need do not mirror each other and then we wonder why it all gets too much!

It doesn’t need to be this way.

Think about it, what do you want, what is important to you at Christmas?

For me this Christmas is about being with the people I love, taking time out to sit down, watch a movie, cuddling up with a blanket, keeping cosy, reading a book, drawing a picture, playing a game. Taking time to enjoy the longer darker night by slowing down.

It has taken the pressure off the presents, the food, the crazy perfectionism. Don’t get me wrong there will be food and there will be presents but the importance will be togetherness even with the awkward ones!

If this all sounds a little perfect then you should know that previous Christmases’, for various reasons, have seen me sobbing in the bathroom, screaming in the kitchen and heartbroken on my own. We are all human and I’m sure that this year and all the following Christmases’ to come will have their ups and downs but Yoga has taught me so much about patience and understanding and a realisation that,

It is not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters’ . Epictetus   

My Yoga routine will have to be squeezed in beside the Christmas tree and if the weather allows out on the hill but it will continue. Even 10 minutes quiets my mind and that peace will maintain my blissful Christmas. We will still have all the family dramas but my calm response only became possible by my love of Yoga.

Maybe Yoga is not your thing or you can’t fit it into your Christmas schedule however here are some easy and quick stress relieving poses.

Legs up the Wall (Viparita Karani)

Lie on your back with your legs up the wall. Try to get your bottom as close to the wall as possible. You can use a pillow for your neck and shoulders and a pillow or block for your lower back if there is any discomfort here.
Close your eyes. Listen to your breath. Inhale and exhale slowly. Stay here as long as you need to.

Childs Pose (Balasana)

Kneel on the floor. Knees and shins can be together or knees can be wide with toes touching. Push your bottom back toward your heels. Relax your upper body down to the floor. You can use a block or a pillow for your head. You can also support your upper body over some cushions for more comfort. Close your eyes. Listen to your breath. Inhale and exhale slowly. Stay here for as long as is comfortable.

Wide-Legged Forward Fold (Prasarita Padottanasana)

Standing with your legs wide apart and your feet parallel. Straighten up through spine. Bend forward from hips. Hands can be placed on floor directly below shoulders or in line with your feet. if this is not open to you hands can be on thighs. it is important that the spine is straight so find a hand position that is most comfortable for you. Close your eyes.
Listen to your breath. Inhale and exhale slowly for 10 breaths. Slowly come back up to standing