Look Deeply…

Look Deeply…

I love the sound of divinely inspired music and angelic voices…especially when chanting my favourite mantras. One such mantra I love is OM ASATOMA. This mantra, to me, sums up the why of Yoga. I practice Yoga to learn to recognize the truth in myself and all things. I practice Yoga in order to understand myself and others. I practice Yoga to be able to deal better with ‘life’ – its ups and downs. Yoga has taught me to see things more clearly, hear things correctly and feel honestly. Yoga is something for everyone; however, not everyone will explore the depths of their own being…which is indeed the real practice of Yoga. There is a quote that was popularised back in the late 1600’s-early 1700’s by a minister by the name of Matthew Henry. This quote has some original ties to the Book of Jeremiah in the Bible, and even farther reaching ties to the Om Asatoma mantra of the Upanishads (700BCE). Yoga asks us to look and to listen. It encourages us to look deeply and clearly, and to listen acutely to what is. Yoga is the process of excavating our Soul – digging deep, removing layers, filters and shifting our perception so that we can see into our own blind spots. Facing how we have shown up in life in the face of our own imperfect behaviour can be confronting, especially if our fall from grace has been far. Many people refuse to take account of their actions and words. Instead, they remain comfortable in their own narcissistic bubble and continue to only ever look out and...
Which mat is for me?

Which mat is for me?

WHAT MAT DO YOU USE? I often get asked “What mat do you use?” For the last two years I have used a Mukha Mat…a green one, of course, as green is my favourite colour. I like this mat because it is 5mm thick, so it is easy on the knees. It does make it heavy. Weighing in at 3kg…it is not a great mat to travel with if you want to travel light. But worth ditching a couple of kilos out of your luggage to accommodate it, if you can. It is made of natural fibres. PVC free…yes to that! And, 100% biodegradable to boot…for those of us who are environmentally conscious. They are made of rubber with 1% latex…so if you have an extreme latex allergy it may not be the mat for you. They are durable. On my first use I gauged a huge chunk out of it with my toe nail…even with this missing chunk it held up with no increase to said chunk size, until the next faux-pas of poor cleaning technique!  I did not heed the cleaning instructions and did exactly what you are not supposed to do…hose it down (yikes!)…and…leave it in direct sunlight (opps!)….but it still held up well for over 6 months (and is still fine) with more than an hours’ worth of rugged daily use. I have had mine for over two and a half years…well worth the $88 investment. I have just placed an order for a new one, mainly because one of my lovely students thinks I deserve to treat myself to a new one…and I like...
COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS

COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS

COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS It’s better than counting your troubles! We don’t have to literally keep a score card, although a Gratitude Journal is certainly one popular way to get into the habit of looking for the things in our lives that we are grateful for. Studies are showing that having an outlook of gratitude has emotional and interpersonal benefits. A study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology co-authored by Robert Emmons confirmed that ‘counting blessings heightens wellbeing’. Having a thankful appreciation and acknowledging things that come into our lives is an act of graciousness. Being grateful is a virtue. A real, heartfelt “Thank you” can go a long way. The impact of your gratefulness towards someone who serves you or works with you or shows you their love should not be underestimated. In the practice of Yoga we have a simple Eight Limb (Ashtanga) Path to follow. One of the Limbs gives us guidelines for living well with others (Yamas). Aparigraha – is the Yama that speaks to us to have gratitude for that which we already have. It translates as non-grasping or non-greed and reminds us to ‘live simply so that others may simply live’, as my teacher, John Ogilvie of Byron Yoga, is fond of saying. We can ask ourselves “Do I really need this?” If not, let it go. When we appreciate the tangible and intangible things in life we are practicing gratitude and the consistent practice of gratitude has benefits, such as; stronger immune systems, lower blood pressure, more joy, optimism and happiness, and a feeling of greater connection. In short, according to...
THE ART OF SELF-CARE

THE ART OF SELF-CARE

The Art of Self Care Taking care of our self can sometimes take a backseat to our ‘to do’ list. And, no doubt the things on that list probably are necessary (ditch the ones that aren’t) – at some point we need to fill our own tank so we can keep going and get them done. Self-care is not selfish. In fact being selfish is the antithesis of self-care. I’ve seen numerous personal development ‘experts’ out there promote the idea that being selfish is a good thing. No! It is not! Being so concerned with yourself that you have little regard or concern for others ultimately will see you ending up as that lonely, bitter person no-one wants to be friends with. We require just enough concern for ourselves so that we maintain our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual wellbeing. In fact doing this is crucial so that we do not become a burden to others through our own neglect of self. For most of us life is not always smooth sailing. In fact sometimes we have to navigate through long and arduous storms. Learning how to remain even-keeled in the face of life’s crazy ups and downs is what self-care is all about. I have found no better system for self-care than the practice of Yoga. Yoga is bigger than most people are aware of. It is not just exercise! It is a whole system that leads you towards a more peaceful life. One of the principles of Yoga is Svadhyaya – self-study or self-observance. This is the starting point for self-care. Self-observance is the practice – and...

The Practice of Yoga Is Simple

The Practice of Yoga Is Simple To me Yoga is beautiful because it is simple. This does not mean that it is easy, but the practice in and of itself is simple. The doing of, or getting of oneself to do, the practice is the hardest part, but once done the practice itself compels us to do more practice. Or at least…this is my experience. You don’t have to be a genius to work out how to practice Yoga. You don’t have to be a genius to experience its benefits…you just have to start with some very simple practices. And then…keep practicing! The perpetuation of the myth that Yoga requires a Guru to teach you, years of study and practice to master, or that there are secrets to Yoga success…are just that, in my opinion, myths. Yoga is ancient. Thousands of years old and, from my research, I believe its roots to predate the written word. In its essence I believe it to be of Tantric origin, that being said, my studies continue and will always continue into the history of and philosophy of Yoga. As my study evolves so does my practice, and as my practice evolves so does my study. I am a perennial student. As much as I continue to study and learn, practice and experience, the complexities of the philosophy of Yoga are there only to pander to the mind, while in actuality, I believe the practice to be one of simplicity. The Yoga Sutras compiled by Patanjali in about 150BCE (~300BCE -300CE) state in Sutra 1.2 yoga?-citta-v?tti-nirodha?. A translation of this that resonates with...

LEARN TO MEDITATE

Come along for a Sunday Session of MEDITATION.15th February 2015 at the Lake Cathie Community Hall. 1pm – 4pm. Learn how to meditate. Experience the power of MANTRA Meditation. Bring your own cushions or pillows to sit on, a wrap or blanket, eye-pillow (if you like), water bottle and Japa Mala Beads if you have some. We will explore BREATH and mindfulness based techniques. You will feel INSPIRED to make meditation a regular practice in your life. Scrumptious Raw Cake and teas will be provided. To BOOK Call Rebel 0413 110 339...

Every Day is New

Every Day is New Last year was the year of the Gayatri Mantra for me. This mantra is an ancient Vedic prayer for the enlightenment of all beings. I made a commitment to repeat it 108 times everyday. Although, having missed some days here and there, all days of 2014 were accounted for, by making up for the missed days on other days. Being a rather long mantra, 108 repetitions typically took me 20 minutes, longer if I sung it in the beautiful Deva Premal and Miten version. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oiavgqEz1Zo  Said to be one of the most powerful of mantras and purifying to the person chanting it, I certainly felt the effects of this mantra. My meditations were deeper sooner with a lasting calm. 2015 I am dedicating to HAPPINESS. As such this is my mantra for the year: Om Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words, and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all. This mantra is a reminder to create mutually beneficial relationships with all beings and things. KARMA means ‘action’. This mantra reminds us to think, speak and do all things with compassion and with the intent to benefit not only self, but others and the planet as well. This requires us to be accountable for our behaviours. Yoga gives us the guidelines for ‘right’ action – the Yamas and Niyamas. Yamas – Non-violence, truth, non-stealing, moderation and appropriateness. Niyamas – Cleanliness, contentedness, motivation, self-study and connectedness. These things are love in action – compassion  – and teach...

OPEN YOUR HEART

OPEN YOUR HEART One of the 8 Limbs of Yoga as noted by the Yoga Sutras, is Svadhyaya – self-study. The practice of yoga provides an opportunity to observe ourselves. We start with observing our breath and we notice how our physical body is doing as we practice poses (asanas). The physical practice of asanas is a great way to stay in tune with our body. The simple act of taking the time to feel how our body feels brings awareness to that which we may not have noticed. We can learn where there is tightness and then bring attention and breath to that area and create relaxation. Savasana is the final resting pose, at the end of our physical practice. The real challenge in this pose is not for the body, although to lie still can be a challenge for some, it is for the mind to be still. Is getting your mind to be quiet a challenge for you? If thoughts come, just let them go and bring your attention back to your breath. As we reflect on our asana and meditation practice, we can observe not only our body but also our mind and emotions. Just as the body can reflect to us tightness in certain parts, the mind reflects to us our tightness of mind and emotions, our clinging to certain thoughts. This shows us something about ourselves. After our practice we can then reflect on what arises during our practice. This self-reflection allows us to see ourselves more clearly. This opens us to look at ourselves as we show up in our lives. Where...

Do Your Practice And All Is Coming

“DO YOUR PRACTICE AND ALL IS COMING” Sri. K. Pattabhi Jois, (1915-2009) is famous for being the creator of The Ashtanga Yoga Series.  A disciplined system of Yoga, Ashtanga is practiced worldwide. One of the most remembered of his is sayings is “Do your practice and all is coming”. What practice and what is ‘all’? No matter what system, series or style of yoga you practice, true yoga encompasses more than just the physical practice that most people are familiar with. The postures (asanas) are one component of yoga, alongside breathing, focus, meditation, detoxification processes, chanting, mantras, mudras, acts of service, and living according to the Yamas and Niyamas (right conduct, ethical rules). So, “do your practice” is an invitation or a reminder to practice yoga in its entirety. And when we do, not only does our practice evolve – in that our body grows stronger and more flexible and able to accomplish more difficult asanas – we, in and of ourselves, evolve. We grow and our lives evolve. As we learn to calm our mind we are implementing Yoga as defined in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali (compiled circa 400CE). Sutra 1.4 “yogas chitta vritti nirodha” has been translated to mean – yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind. Daily adherence to the Yamas requires us to do no harm (Ahimsa), be truthful (Satya), to not steal (Asteya), to practice moderation in all things (Brahmacharya) and to practice non-attachment (Aparigraha). Respect of the Niyamas means that every day we keep ourselves clean (Saucha), that we find contentment in our lives as they are (Santosha), that...

Yoga Is For Every ‘Body’

Yoga Is For Every ‘Body’ Whether you can do the splits or think you’ll split in half if you try. Whether you can balance on one leg with your other leg wrapped around your head or fall over at the thought of balancing. Whether you can still your mind, sit like a Buddha and meditate or your thoughts run wild like a tap left on full blast. Whether you are lean or have a belly. Whether you are young or old, man or woman. It’s okay! Yoga truly is for every ‘body’. You don’t have to be flexible or strong to start. If your body is creaky and stiff, feels broken and twisted or just tired and stressed…yoga is there to help. Yoga is something that can be tailored to suit you and your needs. After all, the practice of yoga is about getting to know your body. It teaches you to work with your body rather than against it. It is about learning to listen to your body and finding ways to practice that support you in developing flexibility, strength and reducing the traffic noise in your head. Yes, a little bit of peace of mind is often found during yoga…sometimes even that much sought after good night’s sleep is a nice benefit. Calmer, stronger, stretchier and relaxed and healthier…good stuff!  ...