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 ♡
This November allnewyogalife is offering it’s second retreat at Cambo House.
This restful retreat will focus on slowing down and letting go. Working with mindfulness, meditation and yoga to find peace as the northern hemisphere prepares for Winter.
The natural world around us is winding down to recharge for Spring and we will too. Taking time for ourselves to breathe, journal and pamper as part of this retreat.
Our all inclusive 4 night stay in this beautiful Victorian Historic House is set in the beautiful countryside of Fife just south of St Andrews. With many traditional features still in place coming to Cambo is like a step back in time.
For our daily Hatha and Yin Yoga practice we will have use of the Ballroom with its magnificent fireplace and bold blue paintwork.
As guests we will be staying in the East/West wing with Double, Twin or Triple shared accommodation.
Food will be homecooked everyday and made from the best locally sourced produce. (If you have any dietary requirements please get in touch)
There will be some free time in the afternoons to explore the area
Wow…that was a crazy Five days! Cant believe how slow it felt yet how quickly it passed. I am exhausted and my head is bursting with information. So I’m going to share some of that with you and hope it makes sense. Here is an explanation on the simplest level.
Yin Yoga is a Chinese Yoga based on Daoist Philosophy. Some of the poses bare similarities to the more traditional Indian Yoga but the theory behind it is completely different. Yin Yoga is the opposite of all other yogas.
You have heard of Yin & Yang? Opposites like cold/hot, slow/fast, down/up, moon/sun, female/male? The list in endless and most this in life are one or the other!
Most style of yoga such as Hatha, Iyengar, Ashtanga, Bikram would be considered Yang as they are about stretching and strengthening muscle through strong repetitive movement. Engaging muscle and mind. Even the most relaxed class is usually based on a strong practice with every pose working the whole body.
Yin Yoga is the opposite. Yes we find a pose however within that pose there will be a target area that we are trying to stress, not dynamically. So in the pose we find that target area, stress the relevant muscle and then soften down around that. We are relaxed, almost meditative and we will stay in this pose for a length of time. Beginners could start at 2 to 3 minutes in each pose. As you become more accustomed to the feeling in your body you can lengthen the time in the pose 5 to 10 minutes. Apparently some people like to go for longer.
Now I know I have made this sound easy but its not. You are not moving at all, not itching your nose, not looking at the room around you, not speaking. The urge to move is hard because its so natural for us to be busy all the time. What is harder is settling the mind because when we are quiet and still this is when the mind goes into overtime because it too likes to be busy.
So its not easy physically or mentally and after five days you will feel it.
Outwith the phyisical practice of learning Yin we spent the last 5 days learning anatomy because in yin yoga we are looking to stress a particular muscle in each pose it is important to know our skeletal muscular anatomy and that was the basis of this first intensive training.
As I said above this is the simplest interpretation I can give because there is so much more to this beautiful gentle yoga. Over the next 6 months I have 3 further trainings in Yin focusing more on the Anatomy, Philosophy and Science. Despite the tiredness and brain overload I can’t wait!
Many thanks to all the other lovely humans on the Yin Yoga course with me for making it friendly and fun. And of course gratitude to our teacher Dhughal Meachem.
This week I am off to Edinburgh to start a new yoga training.
At the moment I am qualified with 200 hr Hatha Yoga training. This is the yoga I love and am passionate about its history, spirituality and physicality however it is important for me to keep learning especially about anatomy to keep students and clients safe.
My new yoga training is Yin Yoga which focuses on more on strengthening tendon, ligament and fascia. In order to do this well there is going to be loads of anatomy training. I am very excited about this. Does that make me a Yoga Geek…I hope so!
Anyway that means no yoga classes until next Thursday however when I return there will be new knowledge to share and new yoga to try!
Everybody knows that I love yoga, everyday, everywhere, everyway but what happens when the practice you love becomes your livelihood?
The reason I became a yoga teacher was to share my love of yoga. To teach a class to people like me. To create a space for those that are uncertain and unconfident. In this so far I believe I am doing well. With a couple of classes and some very lovely clients teaching is a pleasure!
However I guess I did not anticipate the other side of that, with the need to make money (it is a job), advertise, promote, sell and make myself public. This side can be quite overwhelming and is definitely not very yogi.
Recently it has been hard to find a balance. Finding myself more and more on a computer and not a yoga mat. Trying to promote Yoga Events instead of enjoying my time as a teacher. Feeling disconnected from what I love. Yoga in my mind is mostly about being my best self and doing what is right for me and those around me in each yoga position, in class and in life. However right now I am caught up within what is right for my clients and what I think I should be doing to financially support my business and family. How do I promote my business and not feel like I am selling out? How do I stay affordable and pay the bills?
Its a sad state of affairs and I imagine I am not alone. Many small businesses are made up of people living a dream, doing what they love but getting stuck making it professional because they don’t want to lose the passion.
Not sure I have a conclusion to this blog, not yet, maybe only time will tell!
What I do know is my ethos is still the same….. to help and support others through teaching and practicing Yoga.
For now I am grateful to have gotten this far, to have friends and family that support me and clients that trust me. Hopefully the rest will fall into place.
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
Great yoga practice, I know you were tired but I could really feel what you needed and we did it!!
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!
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.