Tag Archives: yoga

Courage

Three years ago today I handed in my notice at work in order to follow a dream that lit me up.  Giving up a well-paid corporate job to start my own Wellness business as a Life Coach and Yoga Teacher. This wasn’t a decision made lightly – I’d agonised for months over whether this was viable or not but there was one thing that spurred me on…..whether it turned out to be viable or not I knew I would regret not giving it a go.  The thought of looking back later in life and wondering “what if….” was far too painful.  Similarly continuing to do my job was becoming more and more difficult when I really wanted to be doing something else.

When word got around that I was leaving to go and do something completely different and to be self-employed people told me I was brave and courageous.  I didn’t feel particularly brave and courageous it was more the pain of potential regret that was driving me forwards!

Courage is not the absence of fear.  Courage is rising up in the face of fear – Mark Twain

Courage to shine your light, courage to be you, courage to speak up and speak your truth.  Courage to go for what you want, to ask for what you want.  Courage to say “No” or even to say “Yes”!

Courage makes us vulnerable, rising up in the face of fear.  What if it goes wrong?  What is the worst that could happen?

Rebecca Campbell, in Light Is The New Black, highlights that often what we fear most is the place where we are right now.  We just don’t realise it.  The thing that stops most people taking the leap into doing something that they love is fear that it’s not going to work and they’ll end up back doing what they are doing right now.  So the worst that could happen is you are back to doing the same thing you are doing right now.  You are in that place right now, doing what you are doing, so if that’s the worst that can happen what are you waiting for?

The last 3 years have gone by in a flash.  It’s been 3 years of significant self-development but amazing opportunities.  Alongside working I’ve been studying for a degree in psychology and philosophy – this wasn’t even on the radar when I gave up my previous job and I’m about to enter my final year! My yoga teaching has grown and developed, my coaching practice is building.  I don’t know exactly where this will take me and that doesn’t matter – the journey is amazing!

What lights you up?  Can you find the courage within you to take a step forward in doing what you love?

You don’t need to go hand your notice in right now!  You can start by taking small steps to doing what you love.  Just make a start now and don’t put it off until tomorrow.

5 Steps to Happiness

The many faces of emotion

Emotions – we all experience them. Some people share their emotions, they don’t try to hide them. They make it known exactly how they are feeling. Other people hide their emotions and you never quite know what they are feeling. What’s right? There is no right or wrong way, but what we must ensure if that we are not ruled by our emotions. They are fleeting sensations and experiences that we give a label to, give meaning to. Sometimes we cling to those emotions and become identified with them, sadness, anger, fear, shame, disgust. It is when we cling to those emotions that there is suffering. It is ok to feel anger if a situation warrants it but when that anger is uncontrolled, unwarranted or held on to for excessive periods then then it becomes destructive and leads to suffering. It is ok to feel fear in situations, it drives us to take action, but if we constantly live in fear then it prevents us from taking any action at all. Similarly, with sadness and grief – it is ok to mourn the loss of a loved one, but we also need to remember the joy and happiness that person brought into our life. Emotions are energy, they carry a vibration. Negative emotions really draw us down to the root chakra and our sense of survival. Positive emotions lift us up but we also need to be careful that we don’t get too attached to positive emotions. All emotions cloud the way we see the world around us.

Our main aim in life is to be happy, but that happiness has to come from within. It is not the responsibility of anyone else to make us happy or for an object to make us happy – as once that person or object is gone then so is our happiness. Take control of your own happiness.

5 Steps to cultivating happiness within

  1. Gratitude – Spend time each day giving thanks. It might be being grateful for the roof over your head, the food on your plate, the money in your pocket. The more we focus on the things we can be grateful for the more we are training our minds to focus on the positive.
  2. Meditate – Spend time each day meditating. Calming the mind so that you can see the world as it really is. Meditation allows you to witness your thoughts and see those emotions for what they are.
  3. Watch the energy around you – What is the energy around you? Remember that no one is responsible for making you happy and likewise you are not responsible for anyone else’s happiness. Are you surrounding by people that drain your energy? Take time out so that you can refocus your energy. Visualise a protective bubble around you that shields you from negative energy.
  4. Move – When we feel a negative emotion it’s important to move. How we sit or stand has an impact on how we feel. If we always walk with our head down, shoulders hunched we are sending a message to our brain that we are sad. Adopt a more positive position. Stand upright, o for a walk. This can be really hard to do if you are feeling down but make yourself shake off the emotion and you will feel a whole lot better.
  5. Choose to be Happy – Happiness is a choice. If you actively choose to be happy rather than sad, angry, fearful you are also training your brain in happiness. You might have to keep reminding yourself to start with that you choose to be happy but eventually happiness will become the default setting.

Spring Detox Part 4 – Body

This week’s detox focus is what we put on our bodies.

The skin is the largest organ of the body.  It is a semi permeable barrier and offers a line of defence against germs and toxins.  It also allows toxins to be released from the body via sweat.  But what about the products we put onto our bodies willingly?

Some products just penetrate into the layers of the skin, the molecules too big to pass deeper into the body and into the bloodstream.  Other products are able to be absorbed deeper into the body and into the blood stream.  Drugs in the format of HRT patches or nicotine patches show that products can be absorbed directly from the skin deeper into the body and into the bloodstream.

So what about all the various beauty products that you put onto your skin?  Whether it’s in the form of makeup, body wash/lotions, suncare, haircare.  Do you know what’s in them and whether they are harmful to your body?  Have a look through your products and see what’s in the ingredients.  Do you know what those ingredients are?

The body has to deal with toxins that come in via the skin in just the same way as it deals with toxins that we ingest directly.  Ultimately they end up at the liver to be broken down and processed.  So you might unknowingly be giving the liver more work to do

My bathroom used to look like an aisle in Boots but over the years I’ve become a lot more conscious about what products I use on my body.  Where they come from, how they are tested and whether they come from natural sources.

There are now many brands offering natural organic products – ranging in price from reasonable to ridiculously expensive!

I like Neal’s Yard & Korres but I also often just use plain coconut oil or some almond oil mixed with a drop of essential oil instead of body lotion.  Tropic skincare has recently been recommended to me on my search for a decent natural deodorant that works but I’ve yet to try this one.

Whatever your budget though your body is worth looking after.  So take time and look at what you are putting on your body and search for alternatives if needed.  It might take a bit of time and effort but your body, and the environment, will thank you for it.

Spring Detox – Part 1 – Food Focus

Spring is now here, lighter evenings, rising energy.  in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) the liver and gallbladder are associated with Spring and so this is the ideal time to show your liver some love and give it a detox.

The liver performs many functions in the body – it is a temporary energy store, breaks down toxins in the body, breaks down spent hormones and medication and stores vitamins and minerals amongst other functions.  The liver does most of its work over night between 1am and 3am when we are asleep and the body is resting.  Foods rich in chlorophyll are ideal for detoxing the liver – think rich vibrant green foods such as spinach, kale, spring greens,  broccoli, green beans, peas etc.   these foods are rich in vitamins and minerals and the fibre helps eliminate the toxins from the body.

Juicing is great as the weather gets warmer but if you feel it’s not quite warm enough yet for juicing try having some delicious green soups instead – simply cook peas, broccoli and spinach in some vegetable stock and then blend.

Also cut down on processed foods with high levels of salt and sugar.  As the liver is a temporary energy store excess sugar goes to the liver for storage in the short term before being converted to fat if it isn’t utilised.

Get more vegetables into your diet – simple stir-frys are great in Spring when we aren’t quite ready for salads but want to move away from the heavier, comforting foods of Winter.

Plus, drink lots of water to flush the toxins out of the body.

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.

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.