Tag Archives: yoga

Finding Time

So many people say to me that they really want to do something but don’t have the time.  My response is always the same – if you really want to do it you’ll find the time.  The question is how much do you really want to do this thing?

Whether it’s getting to an exercise class, eating healthily, making time for friends or family, learning a new skill, finding time for yourself.  Work takes up so much of our time and so our “free time” is extremely precious.  But do we act as if it is as precious as it is?  Do we fritter the time away – wonder where the weekend’s gone when we’ve binged on the latest boxset and then we beat ourselves up because we really wanted to get to the gym/out for a walk in the fresh air/spend time with a friend……

Let’s put things into perspective:

There are 168 hours in a week

  • If you sleep for 8 hours per night that leaves you with 112 hours
  • You might work for 40 hours a week, deducting this leaves you with 72 hours.

72 hours of free time, that’s more than the hours you work in the week!!  It’s 3 whole days!!  What could you do with all that time?

Okay, so you might work more than a 40hour week, you might have a long commute which eats into your non-work time, you might need more than 8 hours sleep a night (and you might need less giving you some more free time!) and you need to eat within some of that time.  Sit down and work out how much free time you actually have, then consider how you spend it.  Do you spend it wisely?  Take 5 minutes out of your day to figure out how you spend your time and how you could use it more wisely.

I’ve spent the last year changing my life around to work more flexibly so I have time to do the things that matter to me.  But that still means getting up early and doing meditation, sometimes going to an early morning yoga classes at 6:30am, studying late into the evening.  My yoga practice matters to me because it helps me develop for both my teaching and for my self-development.  Learning is also important to me, again for my teaching and for my self-development, so I’d rather spend time learning than watching TV.

Where can you make changes in your life to fit in the things you really want to do?  Can you get up 20 minutes earlier to get in some exercise?  Can you utilise a train commute for learning something new?  Is your life working for you or are you working for your life?  How committed are you to doing the things that you say matter to you?  Will you look back on your life wishing you’d watched more netflix?

I’m not suggesting that you need to fill all your time but if there are things you want to do you have to make time for them.  That might mean saying “No” to some things and prioritising.  I believe whole-heartedly that if you really want to do something you will make the time for it.  Do you keep putting things off saying “when I have more time”,  “when the kids are older”.  Yes, we need to consider events in our lives, but where can you make even the smallest bit of time to do the things that matter to you.  Even if it’s small steps that start you on the path.

What could you do with 3 whole days?  What will you do with that time?

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.

Time to Roar

I always feel that new moons are a great time for stating afresh, setting some new intentions.  Yesterday saw the new moon in Leo which is said to be a very fiery time – “stoking the flames of our potential …..Courage to be our true selves, To find strength in our vulnerabilities , our truth and our rawness and to live from the inside out……….ultimately it is up to us to tend to our own heart flame by kindling it with what will bring it expansion and illumination” (Mysticmamma.com)

i am certainly feeling that this is a week for getting stuff done.  i woke up this morning with more energy than i’ve had in ages and even after a productive day i’m writing this blog at 10pm.  It could also be that it has been a scorcher of a day – Glasgow seems to have found the memo that it is summer!  Hurrah!  Whatever the reason, when these waves of productivity arise they have to be put to good use and not wasted.  SO….. more productivity for the rest of the week to bring some exciting new projects to life.

I’ve been manifesting these projects for a while now, they just started with a little seed of intention and have been growing slowly with a lot of nurturing and care.  I love this process of setting intentions, developing them and seeing them grow.  Taking my life in the new direction that i have planned.

What will you be doing over this new moon cycle?  It’s time to roar!!

Sign up for my newsletter to keep up to date with these new projects as they unfold.

There’s also spaces still available on my Arran retreat 21st & 22nd August – treat yourself to some time dedicated to you.

Although we don’t want to think about summer coming to an end I’ll be back at Prana Yoga in Hamilton on 2nd September for a Later Summer Mini Retreat.  Late Summer is a time of returning to the earth, harvesting all the good things we  planted earlier in the year. Reflecting on what we have achieved & building up our sense of self worth.  It is a time to nourish yourself both physically & mentally so give yourself this time to slow down, go inwards & rediscover your self.

Self-Esteem

Today I’m talking about self-esteem………

Self Esteem is defined as confidence in our own worth or abilities.  Like many things though it’s not something we have or don’t have but something that fluctuates throughout our life and on a daily basis.  We might remember periods of our life when our self-esteem was particularly high or low but also within those periods our level of self-esteem could vary.  I’m sure we’ve all had times when we’ve been feeling great and then someone makes a comment.  Suddenly our self-esteem plummets through the floor and we need the help of a JCB to unearth it.  Other times we feel invincible and can just brush off comments – water off a duck’s back.  Why is this?

Usually when we feel good about ourselves we are more likely to be able to brush off comments easily. Positivity breeds positivity and our brain ignores the negative.  The conscious mind can only process a limited amount of information and yet it is bombarded with millions of pieces of information from all five senses – sight, sound, smell, taste and touch.  The conscious mind has to decide what information to take in and will use past experience to help decide what is important and what is not so important at that moment.  If we are in a positive mood the mind will pay more attention to positive things around us and so we can see when things have been said in jest or just let something wash over us.

If we are already feeling low, however, already telling ourselves negative things the mind will pay more attention to the pieces of information that reinforce this negative state.  The more we do this the more evidence and experience the mind builds to seek out negativity.  Our mind is clever and trying to protect us and keep us safe but it is doing so in a not particularly helpful way.

So how can we build and maintain our self-esteem?

We can use Positive Affirmations. Short positive sentences or mantras repeated a number of times to build or reinforce a positive state.  The mind has to buy into the affirmation though and believe it.  It’s no use repeatedly saying “I am amazing, I can do anything” when the first thought that pops into your head after saying it is “No you’re not, you completely messed up that exam last week”!  In those instances adjust the message slightly to get the buy in from your mind. If you are in a low state of self-esteem it might simply need to be “I am doing the best I can”.

Accept Compliments.  Don’t brush compliments off.  The people around you want to be around you and so if they pay you a compliment accept it, they mean it! This might feel a bit difficult and strange at first so just start with saying “thank you”.  When we accept the positive compliments the conscious mind is actively taking in that positive information.  When we hear negative comments the mind will consider these against our past experience – if that experience is hearing compliments and positive comments it will be able to dismiss negative comments more easily as they don’t fit with our experience.

Drop Negative Self Talk.  If you can’t say anything nice don’t say anything at all.  This goes for speaking to yourself as well as speaking to others.  We all bombard ourselves with negative self-talk, about our bodies, our abilities and a whole myriad of subjects.  That drip, drip, drip into the mind provides a reference point which the mind will go to when evaluating the information coming in from external sources.  If the external information aligns to the internal representation it reinforces that message.  Look out for when you are utilising negative self-talk and flip it into something positive.  A bit like the positive affirmations, make sure it is something that you can believe.  It might take a bit of practice.

Surround yourself with people who raise you up.  Make sure you have plenty of people around you that make you feel good about yourself.  As with the positive affirmations and accepting compliments the more your mind has positive reference points to compare external information to the more it can ignore negative comments and more easily put negative experiences behind it.  It would be great to live in a bubble of positivity but there will always be challenging situations and people that we do not to interact with that don’t bring out the best in us.  But by taking steps to build and maintain our self-esteem these situations will not affect us so deeply.

Don’t keep these tips to yourself – remember Your Vibe Attracts Your Tribe.  Help to lift up others, pay them compliments and help build their self-esteem.  Use your positivity to breed more positivity around you.

 

Having Fun with Aerial Yoga

This week I’m talking about “Having Fun”

I was going to dive a little bit deeper into meditation and its wonderful benefits in this weeks blog but after a fun  aerial yoga class this week I changed my mind – let’s talk about having fun instead!  I’m not suggesting that meditation isn’t fun, it’s all about having the right tools in your toolbox for every situation and this week we are putting fun and laughter in the toolbox.

Aerial yoga utilises suspended hammocks to support the body during the practice.  I’ve been to a few aerial yoga classes before and know the benefits – the effects of gravity and the support of the hammock allow you to get deeper into postures providing a great stretch and challenge to the body.  I’d forgotten though just how much fun it is and therefore the psychological and physiological benefits that come from simply having fun and letting go.  It all ties in neatly to my previous blog where I was talking about relaxation and how we’ve forgotten how to relax.  Similarly, as adults, we forget to have fun – everything is so serious. It’s good to have some childish silly fun every now and again!

In the aerial yoga class we were sitting in our hammocks as if on a swing in the park, utilising our core abdominals gently to get us moving but once we got going we were all aiming our toes up towards the ceiling, leaning back, remembering how it was to swing in the park, going higher and higher.  Feeling a breeze across our faces as we reached higher and higher, willing our toes to touch the ceiling (I’ll just add that no ceilings were harmed during this practice!).  We laughed at how if we’d been in the park the children would be giving us a stare to get off their swings!

We worked our abdominal muscles through the postures as well as through laughing.  Releasing endorphins, the happy hormones that bring about the feel good factor and which counteract the stress hormones.  And in aerial yoga you don’t just get to swing back and forth – there’s also the opportunity to hang upside down, lengthening & decompressing the spine, a wonderful feeling if you spend a significant proportion of your day standing or sitting.  Utilising gravity you can find yourself in postures you didn’t think were possible.  A session generally works into all of the major muscles – as well as some muscles that you might forget you have on a day to day basis!

You don’t need to practice aerial yoga to release the endorphins but find something you enjoy which brings about a sense of fun and laughter.  But I can strongly recommend an aerial yoga class to connect to your inner child! It’s great not to take ourselves too seriously from time to time.

If you are interested to find out more about aerial yoga check out these wonderful teachers who run aerial yoga classes, workshops (and some also do aerial yoga teacher training) in and around Glasgow:

Some of them will also be teaching taster aerial yoga sessions at the Om Yoga Show Glasgow (25th/26th March)  so pop along and find out more http://www.omyogashow.com/glasgow/