Finding balance, on and off the mat

trust-the-processEverything was going so well – till it wasn’t. I was really beginning to find my groove as a yoga teacher. I was getting regular students to my classes and I was really starting to let my guard down and be myself, which felt rewarding and I was grateful. But in life, as we know, things change without warning and the past two weeks my teaching has been completely off.  I felt like I was back a square one, I felt I had no idea what I was saying and to top it off, a fellow yogi from my teacher training course came along to class and it couldn’t have gone worse (except it always can, believe me). We had a good talk and laugh about it afterwards, she knows all too well how teaching can change from one class to the next, how one moment you’re feeling as if: “Yes! I am a yoga teacher!” and the next minute you’re all, “What the f*#% was that? I am the worst teacher ever!”

For a few days I let my thoughts wallow in self-pity. Which I knew was the worst thing I could do, so I was beating myself up about that too. I just couldn’t help myself. I felt very much like I was drowning in my own negative thoughts and I was beginning to question everything about my life  – (insert verbal dribble here about my life – not going to actually do that because I don’t want to bore you!)

Then the full moon happened, I got sick, and serendipitously I got to spend an hour in deep conversation with a yoga and dance teacher who is also a single mum. Result? Boom! Clarity! Oh I love how the universe works! The answer of course is surrender, in yoga we know it as the fifth niyama – Ishvara Pranidhana. “Surrendering ourselves to something bigger than us – whether we call it God, nature, or the universe – is at the heart of ishvara pranidhana. We spend so much of the day in our own heads, listening to the endless chatter of our thoughts, and flitting from one worry the next. This pattern is so ingrained in us, but it’s almost always in an effort to control our circumstances and gauge how we’re doing. But relinquishing this control (or, as some would say, our false sense of control) to something bigger than ourselves is the goal.” Alice G. Walton, PhD (source).

318be6c1c25cf73faa5d09f930873aedOf course, I knew what I had to do all along – I just refused to see it. How easy it is to allow the drama of life to take control of our thoughts. Let that shit go Heidi! Isn’t that the mantra I’m always banging on about? Why yes it is!! Nothing stays the same forever, life is in a constant state of flux is it not? The key is to notice when we’re holding on too tight, to let go and breathe through it.

love & light xo

(images from Pinterest)

Badda bing badda boom

Where do I begin? Since graduating from yoga teacher training earlier this month, so much has happened!

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I’ve been teaching a class at a local studio once a week, which is going great. I started teaching a friend in the park on Friday mornings before work too. It gives me the opportunity to work on my alignment cues and my friend gets a yoga class in that she wouldn’t otherwise have time to go to. We meet at our local park at 6am and an hour later we part and get ready to go to work. This week though hubby and I are off to Byron Bay for a long weekend! It’s been too many years to count between romantic weekends for us, and to say I’m excited is an understatement. We checked the weather this morning and decided it didn’t matter what the weather decided to do – we are on holiday, who cares?!

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So other news is I’ve found a fabulous new job and so I finally (FINALLY!) have quit the day job I’ve been slogging my ass off at for the past couple of years and I now get to sit in air conditioned comfort, I get a lunch break (what the ** is a lunch break?) and it’s only ten short minutes from home – woot! The universe works quickly, it all happened so fast, when change happens, it doesn’t mess about. I’ve got six delicious days off until I begin my new day job and until then, I get to hang out on one of the world’s best beaches in Byron Bay, potter about local farmer’s markets in and around the area, sleep-in, go to yoga classes and laze around with my man and all with absolutely no feelings of guilt whatsoever!

In the mean time I’ve been working on a business name and logo for my yoga business, getting registered with Yoga Australia, insured and all the other paper work that goes along with teaching yoga. Phew! Next is a website and who know’s what will happen. It’s a matter of trust. Let go, and see what happens!

love & light xo

 

It’s time…

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I’ve just logged onto my blog for the first time in too long. Obviously you know I’ve been focusing on the final weeks of yoga teacher training and it is with excitement (and maybe a little anxiety) that I tell you I have just one week of training to go before graduation! A year has passed and we are now ready to be unleashed to share the joy of yoga with the world. This Sunday I get to teach a class and then on Tuesday night I start a regular teaching gig at a studio close to home. I am so excited! My plan is to simply teach, wherever and whenever I can pick up a class and eventually to start my own classes. I’m keen to teach raw beginners and prenatal to expectant mums. Maybe kids too, we’ll see how it goes. It feels a little strange, that is to say, I am a beginner again, a new teacher ready to make my mark. Basically I just want to help people find yoga and teach it to them. That’s it really, pretty simple.

I promise I will post a Frock Friday blog today too! I can feel the creativity beginning to flow freely again now that my exams are over and with only one student teaching flow left to teach next week at our final class! Woo hoo!

love & light xo

From the mat… Yoga Rejuvenates

tumblr_narysxhHQ71rz5ibwo1_500If you practice yoga regularly then you will already know the powerful rejuvenating effect yoga has on your body, mind and spirit. Even now I am still astounded by its power. Most of us come home after work feeling physically and mentally drained. We go through the motions of making dinner (or ordering in), crashing on the couch and zoning out to the tv. My day job often leaves me feeling utterly exhausted, after which I get to be Mama to my girls and do what most Mamas do, and if I’m lucky, once a week I get to drive 30 minutes into the sunset to the yoga temple to attend class with my amazing teacher Adam. It is also where I am currently doing my yoga teacher training. You know when you’ve had a huge day, week, whatever and you know you really want to go to yoga but you’re so tired, you just want to curl up on the couch because it will feel so good… I know, I’ve been there. So you tell yourself some lame excuse, let’s face it, it’s pretty easy to talk ourselves out of doing what’s good for us, we are only human after all. But if you can just visualise how amazing you will feel if you actually go to yoga, remember how you feel inside and out during and most especially after class, you will make the effort. Because when you roll up your mat at the end of those 90 minutes, you will feel completely transformed. The effects of the prana radiating through your body is why you make the journey every week. It’s why you roll your mat out at home when you can’t get to the class, it’s why you practice at home when ever you can because it feels so freaking good! One minute you’re so tired you can’t think straight, your muscles and bones are aching and your head is full of thoughts of work and the week that was or is going to be. But, step onto that mat and you know you will be transformed back into your whole self again. You will come away with more energy, your mind will be clearer, you will feel calmer, centred and more present. Total bliss!

b06bd3acab0dc5993fac3a301e85d204So don’t give me that I’m too tired crap because you know if you want to feel good, feel better, feel awake and ready, then step onto the mat and let the healing begin!

Happy hump-day!

love & light xo

 

From the mat… restorative yoga

5afff377bc5887639c5d51f955125e52Lately I’ve been struggling with my at-home yoga practice. It’s winter here, and while I’m famous in my house for not being that fabulous in the morning, my daily yoga and meditation practice had helped me to be much brighter in the mornings. We can all relate to waking up when it’s still dark, it isn’t easy, and even though the sun has been rising earlier as the days get longer, all I want to do is roll over and sleep some more. This has been going on for about two weeks now and I was beginning to worry. I asked myself, “What’s going on with you girl? You were doing so well with your practice Heidi, what’s happened to you?” I thought, well, my day job has been been kicking my ass lately and I know this has a lot to do with how tired I am, so it’s not just the winter. There has been an upside to all this though and it’s that I’ve been spending more time on my meditation cushion in place of my time on the mat. Even through all this I have still made it to evening classes with my teacher once or twice a week, but at home, still my body only wants to do relaxing and restorative poses like supine twists, inversions and lots and lots of savasana.

restoreI decided to seek help, and so after class on Tuesday night I spoke to my teacher and asked his advice. His answer was gloriously simple. He said I should listen to my body and go with the restorative poses, and that our practice moves in cycles and if this is what my body needs, then I should let go and give in to it. Of course, so obvious right?!  As a result I’ve kicked those pesky negative thought patterns to the curb and decided to listen to my body’s needs and those feelings of guilt have completely gone!

So my friends, if you’re feeling run-down or in need of a little self-nurturing, you might like to try some restorative poses. Some of the poses I have been enjoying are viparita kirani, supported child’s pose (using a bolster), supta baddha konasana, supta padangusthasana, upavishta konasana, setu bandasana and of course, savasana. Do you have any other restorative poses you like to practice, I’d love to know if you do, please share them with me.

love & light xo

Meditation and Mantra

a819ceb12db31c8fd1b43991aebc83b1When I use a mantra in meditation, I find it helps me to stay focused, especially if my thoughts are really distracting. I noticed the other day that I was rushing my mantra. I think subconsciously I thought that I if repeated the mantra quickly, it would stop my thoughts from taking over. The truth of it was it was actually making my thoughts come faster. There I was sitting on my cushion, all comfortable ready to meditate, yet there was so much noise in my head! So I took some more conscious deep breaths and simply began again, this time repeating my mantra slowly. The difference to my meditation was instantaneous. The thoughts went silent and I went deep. Amazing!

I wonder, what is it about the mind and focus? What is it that causes our mind to kick into high thought rotation the moment we try to find silence?

Did any of you join in the Global Meditation for Peace last Saturday? Meditating with Deepak Chopra, Gabrielle Bernstein and 100, 000 people from around the world was pretty incredible. Well worth the 2am wake up call my husband and I had to make to join everyone online who was getting their meditation on!

Have a wonderful week!

love & light xo

From the Mat… Replacing Fear with Joy!

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It’s been nonstop teaching lately and last week I experienced teaching yoga to real people!  Not my fellow student teachers, not my family and not my best friend, actual students! Three of us volunteered to take over a fellow second year student’s class for her while she’s away on holiday.  We decided to break the class into three parts so we could take turns teaching for 30 minutes each. I was first up teaching the invocation, warm ups and warriors I and II with Sun Salutations. I was nervous, nothing new there, but excited too because I knew this was going to be a very different experience from teaching in front of my peers and teachers. Sitting there on my mat at the front of the class, as I began to speak I couldn’t know if would remember everything I had to say, I had no idea if I was making sense at all, and in the back of my mind I wondered if I might fall flat on my face!  A little while later I was in Downward dog I think, and I looked up to see how everyone was doing and suddenly I felt a rush of joy! Finally! Joy was taking the place of fear! Wow! I was so happy I couldn’t stop smiling!  I have struggled so much with anxiety while teaching these past six months. I was putting so much pressure on myself to be perfect, even though I tried not to – it’s not easy to change your nature overnight. I told myself again and again to let it go.  Now I know that one day I will step on to the mat to teach and there will be no fear. Only confidence and joy – and yoga!

Meditation is definitely helping because the anxiety is transforming each time I teach and I can now manage to keep any panic attacks under control by breathing through them, so things are definitely improving, and that’s ok. Because now I’ve found the joy, the elusive joy that I knew was there, I had seen it in my fellow student teachers.  I know that if I continue to step out side my comfort zone and onto the mat to teach, I am staring my fear down, I am completely and utterly present with myself and while it still freaks me out, I am loving it just the same.

I get to do it all again this week!

love & light xo

From the mat… Letting go

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Teaching yesterday was… interesting. When it was over, I felt excited but also relieved because something really bugged me. It never turns out in class the same as it does at home when I practice. At home I have the image of a room full of my fellow student-teachers in my mind. Sometimes I also have my dog, my kids, my husband or my best friend to teach to, but mostly it’s my imaginary class.  The first part of my teaching assignment was to teach the inversion Viparita Karani and on the whole it went well. I began strong and I felt more comfortable than on previous teaching assignments. Then about thirty seconds into teaching I got hit by a huge adrenalin rush. It completely took over my body leaving me feeling helpless and I might add, also slightly annoyed. There I am, up there doing my best to convey the essence of a confident and relaxed teacher when all of sudden – WHAM! I started to shake, my voice quivered and I lost track of my thoughts which caused me to forget elements to the sequence I was trying to teach. My mind went completely blank! Really? I’m doing YOGA and my body decides to send me through what can only be described as a freaking panic attack? I mean, WTF? So the second part of my teaching yesterday was to take the class through relaxation, also known as Savasana. Again I was overwhelmed with adrenalin at about the one minute mark but this time I was prepared for it. I  focused on my breath and while I was talking about relaxing and letting go to the class, I mentally told myself to do the same. By the time everyone was all tucked up in the little blankies and savasana-ing away, I was sitting on my mat at the front of the room feeling pretty good about how it all went. I won’t go into my mental battle with deciding on how long to let everyone relax for, but suffice to say, in the end, I was speaking straight from the heart, I felt like I had been teaching shavasana for years, not for the first time. I did have a little moment of feeling proud of myself.

The good news? I’m not the only one experiencing these episodes while teaching. I mean, there is a certain safety in numbers. It does ease me somewhat to know that. The thing that bugs me the most is that I am SO prepared for when I get up there to teach. I mean, more than prepared. So why does my body turn on me? The bottom line is that it’s all ego. It’s ego that causes us to panic, it’s ego that wants us to do well and it’s ego that picks apart the whole thing. Stupid, stupid ego!  As yoga teachers we are there to serve, that’s it. It’s not about hearing from our students how awesome our class was or even if we can get into insanely advanced poses. It’s about self-acceptance and letting go. Period.

love & light xo

From the mat… just be yourself

yoga dive inOnly four months in and with eight still to go in yoga teacher training, already the transformation is showing on all of the students in my course. Training has been much harder on me than I expected. Much, much, much harder. The information I take in each week in class is huge, some weeks my brain is bursting with so much new information on anatomy, philosophy and sequences to learn for teaching that I feel like my head is going to explode. I wonder, how am I ever going to remember it all?  Then on top of that, there’s the transformation we are all experiencing as we go through training and the emotional roller coaster that that entails.  You see, there’s this path I desperately want to be on, and yet there seems to be so many obstacles to overcome along the way. On top of which, my body is changing, my brain is changing, my thoughts on life and my understanding of what it is to be a yogi is broadening, and oh, the vulnerability of teaching, did I mention that one? Far harder than anything I have done. It is a far greater responsibility to be a yoga teacher than I imagined.

rumiThe truth? It feels as if teacher training is dragging me over hot coals, and the incredible uncomfortableness of having to face my fears is taking me to a vulnerable place that I have spent my life avoiding. Although I want to run away from the responsibility and self-discipline of it all – and at times I do escape, I am also discovering the pure joy of turning up and meeting my fears head-on. In fact, I’m learning to accept and embrace them. The trick is, and it’s a pretty basic one, is to just to be yourself. At first I was trying to be just like my teachers. But how could I be? I was doomed to fail. Then I realised that all that was required was for me to be me. Of course this made me feel more vulnerable, and for a while I thought I was never going to be able to let go. I still don’t know how I’m going to get through. What I do know is that each time I step on to the mat to teach, I’m going to do my best to connect with the class and eventually, I’m told the nerves will dissipate, and the wisdom of my years on the mat will take over and my voice as a yoga teacher will shine through. That’s the plan anyway!

love & light xo

 

 

 

Why do we return to the Mat?

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Have you ever wondered what draws people to yoga, what keeps them coming back to the mat?

Some of the truths about Yoga acknowledged by the Yogis in this documentary, and in no particular order are:

When you practice yoga for a long time, you’ll eventually become more involved in the spiritual aspects of yoga. It’s unavoidable. 

Yoga is not about finding flaws in ourselves, but to become more conscious of them. It teaches us to be accountable for our lives and allows us to be grateful for what we have. We need to embrace both the good and the bad.

“It forces you to deal with yourself.” Tiffany Cruikshank. She and the other interviewees consistently touch on the idea that yoga is meant to help you understand and accept yourself.

“Yoga has taught me that the key to enlightenment and happiness is embracing each moment as it arrives.” Kathryn Budig.

Whatever shape you’re in, how old you are, how young you are, etc. Yoga does not discriminate. Yoga teaches us to be comfortable in our own skin.

Many people like to give excuses to why they shouldn’t do yoga. These are the people who need it the most.

This documentary shows us how yogis like Kathryn budig, Tiffany Cruikshank and the brothers Chris and John Yax discovered  yoga and what keeps them returning to the mat. I really loved this, I got so much out of it. I hope you do too, and if it encourages you to try yoga for the very first time, even better!

Click here to watch the movie in full. It’s only 50 minutes, so it won’t take up too much time, and it is so worth it.

love & light xo

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