Tag Archives: seasonal yoga academy

Meditation

I know the idea of meditation scares a lot of people.  The idea of being alone with your thoughts when there is so much going on in your head.  It can be an overwhelming concept.  I also hear people saying to me that they can’t meditate as their minds are just too active and they can’t quieten it down enough to meditate.  Trying to meditate and not being able to quiet the mind can be another stick to beat ourselves with!

The practice of meditation though is just that – a practice.  The more you practice the more you can train your mind to become quiet.  Some days it happens, you get moments of peace, calm, serenity.  Other days the mind flits from one thing to another, to another, to another, to another…………

When you practice meditation you become the witness, and when you can rein the mind back in you can observe the thoughts.  From this position of neutral observer you can be objective about the thoughts and notice whether they are of use to you or not.   You can let go of anger, judgement, resentment, shame, inferiority and much more when, from this place of neutral observer, you see that the thoughts are only causing you suffering.  Only you can hold on to these thoughts, and you also have the power to let them go if you choose.

There are many different forms of meditation and the ultimate aim of meditation is finding bliss.  Sat Chit Ananda – truth, consciousness, bliss, as the yoga sutras say.  Ultimate awareness of reality, resting in our true nature.  The act of meditation is not the same as achieving sat chit ananda. Through meditation we might have glimpses of this blissful state.  If we practice long enough and become skilled enough we might achieve samadhi, that place of truth, consciousness & bliss.

But how to meditate?  Withdrawal of the senses and single pointed focus (pratyahara and dharana, respectively,  in the 8 limbs of yoga) help us.  Having a point of focus such as the breath, a candle to gaze at, or focussing on the pressure of the feet on the ground in a walking meditation.  These allow us to transcend the mind and become the witness, to see things as they truly are, dive deep into meditation and maybe attain Samadhi – the state of pure bliss.  You don’t need to be able to site in lotus pose or even cross legged!  There are many different way to bring that focus.

It is not a scary place to be – it is quite the opposite.  Allow yourself to be curious and to explore.

If you’re interested in learning more about mediation join me for my Finding Stillness Workshop 28th April or 26th May.  We’ll be exploring different forms of meditation alongside yoga practice and pranayama techniques to help support the meditations.

Both sessions take place 3-6pm at Seasonal Yoga Academy, Glasgow

You can book here or contact me for further detail fi@fishepherd.com

 

Reset Your Body Clock

Spring has arrived and with it the clocks have sprung forward.  We are moving  into the more yang, higher energy seasons and leaving the reflective yin seasons behind for now.  It’s a time when we should feel like we have more energy.  The Spring and Summer months are the time when we should be at our most productive and active.   But are you feeling like your energy isn’t quite there?

The Body Clock, our bodies natural rhythm runs in a daily cycle.  Energy moving from one organ to the next in a set sequence so that our bodies can operate at their optimum.  Each organ carrying out it’s functions at a set time each day – the most appropriate time – and resting and restoring in between.  But all too easily in our busy lives our body clock can become out of sync.

The stomach has most energy in the morning, the best time to digest a nutritious breakfast to set you up for the day, whereas energy goes to the liver and gall bladder overnight when we are resting so that the body can process all the toxins from the body so that they can be expelled by the body.  Following the liver and gall bladders active time, energy passes onto the lungs and large intestine so that they can then eliminate all the waste from the previous day.

Do you ever experience that 3pm slump – this is when the energy passes to the kidneys to recharge.  The kidney’s, home to the adrenal glands, act as a battery pack and as the energy moves here we can feel that slump as they recharge.

Late nights/early mornings, little sleep, shift working, eating late, skipping meals, eating the wrong foods, alcohol, drugs, medication, travelling to different timezones, external pollutants & toxins……..all take their toll on the body.  Our bodies get confused and don’t work so efficiently and the organs have to work harder, depleting the energy reserves.  We can then get into a vicious cycle  – using caffeine, sugar, alcohol, drugs to keep us going, which the liver then needs to work harder to process, reducing the energy even more.  The cycle continues.

But you can get your body back on track…..

  • Make sure you get enough sleep
  • Drink plenty of water to help flush out toxins from the body
  • Cut down on sugar, alcohol, caffeine
  • Don’t eat too late at night
  • Eat a nutritious breakfast to set you up for the day ahead
  • Take walks into nature – breathe in the freash air, absorb vitamin D from the natural light

In addition, you can use yoga to reset the body clock – by using poses that stimulate the meridians of each organ in sequence we can get the body back on track.  With the clocks having changed its the ideal tie to reset your body clock.  Join me on Sunday 7th April, 3pm,  at Seasonal Yoga Academy where I’ll be leading an energising body clock sequence followed by a guided relaxation.  A great way to set yourself up for the coming months.

Book Here

Spring – Detoxing & Energising

Spring has Sprung

Spring has finally sprung and with the clocks going forward last weekend we now see the lighter nights.

Winter always seems so long, just when you start to notice the longer hours of daylight and think spring is finally here – bam, a deluge of snow, a beast from the east!  But finally, some lovely sunshine over the last few days, spring bulbs sprouting up from the earth, new leaves forming on the trees.

Spring is a time for growth, rising energy pushing up from the ground.  The organs associated with Spring are the Liver and Gallbladder – the liver removes toxins from our bodies so it’s a great time to be thinking about spring cleaning – home, body and mind.  The gallbladder is our decision maker so it’s a time for getting clear on your goals for the year, setting some objectives and starting to take action move you forwards.

Cleansing and Detoxing

Greens are great for the cleansing the liver.  Try vibrant green juices with spinach or kale or make simple stir-fired greens.  The liver works hard to process toxins from the body, processing alcohol, drugs, excess hormones etc.  If the liver becomes overloaded the toxins build up in the body so it’s important we give the liver some TLC and ensure it’s in tip top condition.

Detox your environment too.  Spring clean your home, car, office space.  Get rid of things you don’t need and also consider the quality of your environment – get some plants to improve your air quality.  Have a look at the cleaning products you use – are they creating more toxins in your home environment and the environment as a whole?  Have a look at switching to eco-friendly products.

Detox your self-care routines – have a look at what you are putting on your body as well as in your body.  Your skin absorbs products you put on the skin so make sure they are full of natural ingredients and not leading to more toxins in your body.

Detox your mind – how toxic are your thoughts?  Take some time to cultivate a positive mind set, maybe keep a gratitude journal, have a digital detox and step away from social media, meditate.

Goal Setting

Over the winter months we’ve had time to reflect on what we want and don’t want so now is the time to start putting some thought into setting goals.  What do you want to achieve this year?  How are you going to get there?  Big goals can be overwhelming but when we start to break them down into smaller goals they start to seem possible.  Set some clear visions, create a clear and vibrant picture of that vision in your mind, see it through all five senses so it becomes so compelling your unconscious mind starts looking for ways to make it a reality.  Create a vision board that you see everyday to remind you of what you want to achieve.  Then start taking positive action to achieve your goals.  It’s only through taking action that your goals will materialise.

Seasonal Yoga – Winter

Winter is a time for relaxing, restoring and recharging your batteries.  The kidneys and bladder are the organs associated with the season of winter according to traditional Chinese medicine and the kidneys can be thought of as our own battery pack.  We need to ensure they are recharged to support us through the year.

It is a time for reflecting – contemplating what continues to serve us and what no longer serves us.  But this is not a time for taking drastic action or making radical changes.  It is a time to reflect and contemplate, building a bigger picture so that we can start planting seedlings in spring that we can nurture and grow.

Water is the element associated with winter.  It reminds us to go with the flow or to be still and reflect.  When the kidneys are out of balance we tend to feel fear – the adrenal glands are paired with the kidneys and are involved in our ‘fight or flight’ stress response so if you are feeling a bit stressed or fearful practice some gentle flowing yoga or find stillness in meditation to calm the body and mind.

With the start of a new year many people choose this time of year to go on a diet but this is the time when the body is seeking warming hearty meals such as soups and stews.  That doesn’t mean you have an excuse to be unhealthy at this time of year!  Fill up on healthy vegetable with warming spices – curried parsnip soup or cumin spiced roasted root vegetable.  Check out @seasonaleats for some weekly inspiration.

Winter Recipe: Spice Roasted Winter Vegetables

  • Onions
  • Carrots
  • Parsnips
  • Sweet potato
  • 2 cloves garlic – peeled
  • 1tsp cumin seeds
  • Olive oil

Wash & peel the vegetables & cut into large chunks/wedges.  Combine in an ovenproof dish with the garlic and cumin seeds.  Drizzle with olive oil and roast in the oven (180C) for 30-40 mins or until the vegetables are tender.

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Watery Winter Moon Flow

This lovely practice is great for easing out tension and gently moving the body.  Moving between child’s pose, upward dog & downward dog. Flowing through the spine, closing your eyes and taking your attention inwards.  Listen to what your body is asking you for, spending a few breaths in one particular posture, perhaps swaying the hips from side to side in updog or down dog.  Keep the focus on the watery, fluidity of the movement.

Child’s Pose – Up Dog – Down Dog – Up Dog – Child’s Pose

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There are still some spaces left at my Mini Retreat this Sunday (14th January) at Prana Yoga Hamilton.  Give yourself some time and space to relax and recharge.

Or join my weekly Restorative or Yin Yoga classes at Seasonal Yoga Academy Glasgow

I’m also starting a monthly meditation workshop which kicks off on 11th February.  This monthly workshop is suitable for beginners and those with a regular meditation practice.  It will offer a supportive space to learn more about meditation, develop a regular practice and dive deeper

Restorative Yoga – What is it?

On Tuesday 9th January I’ll be starting a new restorative yoga class at Seasonal Yoga Academy.  But what is restorative yoga and how can it benefit you?

Restorative yoga is all about bringing the body to relaxation.  We hold so much tension in our bodies – sometimes without realising and it’s not until we try and relax that we suddenly realise how tense we are; sometimes we know just how much tension we are carrying around with us but don’t feel able to do anything to release it. Tension accumulated through stress, poor posture, repetitive movements, injury etc.  And the more the tension builds the more we start to compensate with other areas of the body – an injured knee perhaps leading to more weight being put through the opposite leg or adapting the gait putting more strain on the hip.

Restorative yoga aims to gently stretch the body in a relaxed way.  Using bolsters, bricks, cushions, foam rollers, chi balls (you name it, we have it!) to support the body and ease out the tension.   Postures are typically held for several minutes to allow the body to fully relax into them.

Restorative yoga gets us back into the parasympathetic nervous system – our body’s rest and restore setting.  We live so much of our lives in the sympathetic nervous system – the fight/flight setting – always on, always active and releasing stress hormones (adrenaline, cortisol) into the body.  By switching over to the parasympathetic nervous system we allow the body to clear away all those stress hormones bringing it back into balance.

Restorative yoga is a great complement to more active exercise and sports – allowing the muscles to relax fully and recover from injury and stresses placed on them, gently increasing flexibility and restoring the body’s natural balance.

Whether it’s stress, injury, general aches and pains, long term illness or just space and time for relaxation come and join me on Tuesday evenings 8pm at Seasonal Yoga Academy.

New Years Resolutions

The start of a new year, a blank slate, an opportunity to make changes.  I love the start of a new year, closing the door to the old year and stepping into the unknown: 365 days ahead of opportunities, new challenges, new discoveries and adventures.

I’ve long since given up on setting resolutions though – so many years of setting unattainable resolutions that fall by the wayside by mid-January.  The majority of new year’s resolutions fail within the first 2-3 weeks because people suddenly make drastic changes without getting the mid fully on board – joining the gym/diet groups to be fitter, healthier, lighter, stronger then the initial enthusiasm wears off, it’s winter and you just want to hibernate, eat comforting food and stay at home.  We’ve suddenly pushed ourselves right out of our comfort zone, which is exactly where we need to be to make changes, but if it’s too much too quickly the mind just wants to take the quickest route back to the comfort zone – picking up a takeaway/cake/wine/beer/ etc etc on the way!  And then there’s the feelings of failure kicking in – the negative chatter, the downward spiral, before we know it we’ve eaten more cake, drank more wine, missed the gym sessions, we’re beating ourselves up even more!

Although I don’t set new years resolutions anymore I still love to plan and set goals, but not just yet.  In traditional Chinese medicine winter is considered a time for recharging, restoring and reflecting rather than taking action.  Definitely not the time to be making radical changes to diet or lifestyle.   Instead of resolutions I like to set some intentions for the year ahead that I can then build on as the year progresses.  As winter is a time for reflection it’s the perfect time to ask yourself some searching questions so that when spring comes you’ve got some seedlings to start tending.

As I was reflecting on 2017 a lesson that kept popping up for me was remembering to stay present, enjoy the here and now as the present is all we have.  Last year is now memories, the future unknown. I have to find a balance between setting my intentions and then relaxing and letting the universe take over.  So I set aside some planning time – time specifically dedicated to reflection, daydreaming and manifesting.  An afternoon or an evening, I get cosy, light a candle, make a pot of tea, put on some inspiring music, reflect, dream, & let my imagination run wild.

So grab your notebook and set yourself a bit of dream time.  Some questions to prompt you in reflecting:

  • What did you achieve in the past year?
  • What worked/didn’t work and what you can learn from the experiences?
  • Are there patterns that keep repeating? What needs to change to stop the patterns repeating
  • What would be good to take forward into 2018, what can you let go of?
  • What do you dream of doing? Let your imagination free for a while.  Let go of the ‘buts’ that stop you and let your mind be free to wander.  What steps would you need to take to make some of this a reality?

As you reflect on these you can then start to build up a bigger picture and sense of direction over the winter months so that when spring arrives and the energy starts to increase you can start planting seeds to nurture and grow over the summer months.  You’ll then be reaping the rewards later in the year.

Whatever your intentions you can start making small changes, If it’s to be healthier committing to adding a few more veggies to your diet.  Maybe some gentle exercise – going for a winter walk, some gentle restorative yoga.  By starting small & taking gradual steps you can get the mind on board much more easily, it doesn’t feel like big scary change.  It makes staying on track much easier and as the small changes become habits you can start adding more changes through the year, building and building.

So what intentions are you setting this year?  What about the intention to look after yourself, self-care, nurture and nourish?

Come and join me for some yoga where you’ll have time to relax, restore and reflect:

Tuesdays Restorative 8-9:15pm & Thursdays Yin 8-9:15pm (Starts 18th January) bot at Seasonal Yoga Academy, Darnley Street, Glasgow, G41 2SE

Plus, sign up to my monthly newsletter to be kept up to date with details of my mini retreats, day retreats, yoga holidays and yoga and meditation workshops.