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Showing posts with label mindfulness. Show all posts
Showing posts with label mindfulness. Show all posts

Sunday, 14 October 2018

Treasures

I've been lucky, in a way, to not have had much of a run in with death and losing loved ones. Yes I'd lost grandparents, teachers, and uncles and aunts, but no one whom I was particularly close with. (My English teacher was probably the closest, but I was out of school already when she passed away.)

But that changed this year. And fairly drastically. In January, the absolute best grandmother in the whole world passed away. Even though I wasn't as close to her as I had wanted to be, we'd had a connection that is difficult to explain. She was always there for me. If ever I needed advice or to talk, she'd be there. Even though I didn't make much use of it, just knowing that I could if I wanted to made a massive difference. And that's not even mentioning that she was the kindest most loving most forgiving and most accepting person I've ever known.

Her death changed my life quite a bit. For one, I got more into my gardening :) and I fully believe that it's her spirit that's making my garden bloom so incredibly. (Almost) more importantly, it had a drastic effect on my outlook on life. On where I was at, and how I was dealing with things. The previous year had been particularly rough for me and my reaction wasn't entirely healthy or sustainable. The change was difficult, but essential, and amazing. Her death was the push that turned me from a bud to a rose. So, thank you, Oumies.

That same transformation, as good as it was, was equally challenging. There were tough decisions, hard changes, a lot of psychological work. Apart from my awesome psychologist, I had the unending, non judgemental support of a great friend. Our friendship had been a bit of a roller-coaster ride, mainly because both our lives were a roller-coaster ride at the time. But our rhythms matched and we were perfectly suited to helping each other deal with the mountains and hills of our lives. In many ways we were mirrors to each other.

In the weeks before he died, though, our friendship reached a new level. Its difficult to explain, but it's like we hadn't realised before just how supportive we had been to each other. For two weeks I consciously had this pillar of support. He'd always be there to help or encourage or advise, or just listen. Always. As was I for him. So when he died... He was suddenly just not there. Yes, that's generally what happens when people die, but... like... it was so much more than a physical loss, or an emotional loss even. A little piece of who I had become was shattered. If soul mates were a thing, then this was it. And it was gone.

If my gran helped to transform me from a bud to a rose, Cuen helped to make me bloom into a stellar rose, to start standing tall (even though I'm actually really short), to shine my brilliant colour out to the world, whilst protecting myself from... The aphids of life? 😬



I strongly believe that my gran is in my garden, and similarly that Cuen is in every bird that sings. Always there, in the background. And when you pay attention, they're the absolute beauty of the world. The birthing, growing, blooming beauty, death and re-cycling of life. A constant reminder of death, and a perpetual reminder of beauty, love, kindness, giving and caring.

Sometimes I just stop to smell the flowers (I haven't been able to keep roses alive yet) and listen to the birds. And it makes the world of difference to my day.

It may not have the same meaning to you at all, but I'd still suggest that you give it a try every now and then. It can't do any harm, but perhaps it freshens your day, or cheers you up just a tiny bit.

And hopefully this is my last somber post on death 😬

blog mindfulness new beginnings pain spring stillness

Thursday, 11 October 2018

It never rains, it pours

In my head I’ve written this blog a thousand times. Each one has been slightly different, but they've all had the same gist. The same topic. The same everything, just phrased or sorted differently.

Each one was about how “it never rains, it pours”, and how, (somehow; I can’t think about it right now for some reason) it relates to yoga, and letting go of the excess, and how the two intertwine so magnificently.

But then, in my head, I started making this blog post so much bigger, and bolder, and more detailed than it needed to be, that I started to loathe the idea of having to write this post... I always had an excuse, or an alternative time to do it, or any reason to avoid writing it.

Yes, I was away on holiday at that time, too, and that could easily be a legitimate reason to postpone thinking about ‘work’ stuff. But still, my head continued birthing ridiculous comments. This time about how I was being so lazy, procrastinating again and falling back into bad habits, being so selfish and self-absorbed, a disgrace to humanity.

Luckily I managed, somewhat, to capture this train of thought at that point. I took a deep breath. I realised that it was self-sabotaging. I realised that it was a toxic thought path. A dead end. And it was only a week later, while lying in bed trying (admittedly, not very hard) to fall asleep, that I realised that I had just lived out the message of my blog post. The excess noise that our thoughts make needs to be let go of. It doesn't always have to be pouring.

But even if it IS pouring, and it isn't just your head making little mole hills into huge-ass mountains, we still can calm the mind down. We can still make it less pour-y and more rain-y, in our heads. And by doing so, perhaps alter our perception of where we're at. Similarly, in yoga, we need to let go of where we were yesterday, or where we want to be, and we need to stop putting ourselves down for not being somewhere further, or somewhere else. We do have the power to calm the storm in ourselves.



Sometimes I feel that my cat always thinks that it's pouring. Like, if she has only two bowls of food available to her around the house, rather than three, her world might end. But it is all about perspective, Elsie, it's all about perspective.
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Monday, 1 October 2018

Knowing when to let go

I refrained from putting a question mark at the end of the title, in the hopes that I may become more confident in doing what the title suggests. As it turns out, I may be one of the worst candidates for "letting go". Or, more accurately, knowing when to do so. The how is a different, but equally important question, and journey. But, baby steps.

So, I'm going to go on the assumption that everyone has had to let go of something somewhere in their lives. Whether it's a grudge, a relationship, a promotion, a holiday, or an emotion, I assume that everyone has gotten to a stage where they realise that holding on is only making matters worse. Or where you realise that holding on is the root cause of a vast majority of your current misery. One aspect of this assumption also stems from the hope that, if you've experienced that sort of misery, that you have also experienced its opposite - a free, unbounded joy and mirth that makes you feel light and peaceful and completely content. Besides, we cannot see the light if there was no dark to distinguish it from, and vice versa.

So, if letting go can lead to such lightness, then why do we hold on in the first place? Is it fear? Of the unknown? Or of making the wrong decision? Or fear of losing what we have come to know so well, despite the misery? Can the grass really be greener on the other side of this clinging to what we know, to what we're comfortable with? Is it doubt?

Personally, I think that one knows when it's time to let go when you've been so preoccupied with something that you feel the urge to write a nonsensical blog about it. When you start to struggle to see anything else, despite knowing that there is so much more to life, that there are still so many roses to smell, or when you forget not to take it all for granted (Or, like me, forget to add the "not" into that phrase).

This all suggests that there is a place and time (or a reason) for holding on, and I can agree with that. As long as the learning and the growing and the appreciating is still happening, or still noticed, then hold on. Learn from it. Explore the misery. But don't go to a point where you struggle to see the light, the good.

Of course, the how can be done through yoga :) Whenever you realise that you (or your ego) have latched onto getting into a certain pose, despite your body, or your heart, or your mind screaming for you to stop, stop. Meditate, if that works for you. Or just listen. Be still, tune in, and listen to yourself. If you stop trying so hard now, it doesn't mean that you will lose all hope of getting into the pose some other time, but it isn't now. In fact, pushing for it at the wrong time is usually more likely to prevent you from ever reaching it.

Just saying.

K, so, I'm gonna go do some yoga now and try to let go a bit. And in letting go of balancing in a handstand, I will attempt to translate the lesson into other matters of my life. Wish me luck!

Sometimes you gotta just let loose a bit. Do
yoga in the snow. Lift a leg in downward dog.
Go crazy.
Thanks to Daven for the photo :)

blog mindfulness new beginnings yoga

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Planting seeds

So, I love gardening. I'm actually currently in the middle of packing up my current home to move to a place with an actual garden (an actual garden as opposed to the garden of pot plants that I have foresting on my balconies).

And I recently planted a bunch of bulbs in little pots, along with lots of help from my dad who had the idea to sell little plants that are, in one way or another, related to yoga - combining two of my passions!

So, with all this green stuff happening around me (that's not to mention the new promo from Checkers where you get a little plant kit for every R150 that you spend there), I was tickled by the analogy coming up in one of the teacher training courses. A student referred to one of her favourite teachers 'planting seeds' in terms of where an easier yoga pose may be leading to. And I have fallen in love with said analogy (thank you, Sean, whose classes I am yet to go try out). The idea that your yoga practice is a young sapling, and little bud, or a very fresh new flower, or even just the sprouting roots of a newly planted clove of garlic! It has so much potential, as long as it is cared for, nurtured, and nourished. The plant doesn't rush ahead of itself to become a tree, or a gorgeous blooming flower. It takes its time. It feeds off of the nutrients around it. It struggles when it doesn't get enough light, or soil, or water. But it also thrives again when it does receive what it needs. But it takes time. Like any good and long-lasting yoga practice. It takes time, and care, and attention.
My cabbage seedlings from Checkers!! No idea
where I'm going to plant them when they get bigger....
A plant from my gran's garden that's FINALLY
started growing it's own little leaves!!


Lots of little seedlings making their way into
the big world!
Awwww, little heart-shaped leaves budding
from little bulbs under the soil :)
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Thursday, 8 February 2018

A new year, a new... me?

A very happy (and very much belated) new year to everyone! =)

In the build up to the start of the new year, I spent a lot of time reflecting back on the events of 2017. It was a pretty spectacular year. Spectacularly awful, as well as spectacularly awe-full. But through all the ups and downs, I do feel like a very, very different person starting 2018, compared to when I unsuspectingly, and happily entered into 2017.

But I've sort of found, perhaps, maybe, that the less prepared you feel for a lesson, the greater that lesson is? Or the more you grow during it? Or just the more completely it catches you off guard and knocks you down. But the only really bad thing about being knocked down is if you don't get back up again, isn't it?

So, like, in that sense it's very similar to standing balances in yoga (or arm balances, too, I guess; but let's stick with the slightly simpler analogy for now...). If you're frowning with intense concentration, I bet you you'd be more likely to not be able to keep a balance like Vrksasana. At the very least, you probably wouldn't be able to keep your balance for as long as if you were smiling merrily and allowing your body's natural balance mechanisms to do their thing *. I always encourage taking balances lightly, and taking oneself less seriously in balance poses. Yes, you need to engage muscles and focus, have proper drishti and so on. But more importantly, I think, is laughing at yourself when you fall over. And then getting back up and trying it again. After all, yoga is about the journey, not the destination.

So, without further rambling... go make 2018 the year for you. Your growth. Your discovery. Your love. Fall down, learn lessons, hard lessons, easy lessons. But get back up again. And keep smiling.

What the heck is going on with my shoulder??! And my hands are skew.
But either way, this is Vrksasana in a pretty tunnel


* No, I'm not saying that balance is all about your body taking over and you can just be blissfully unaware. You need to have your standing leg engaged. Engaging abdominals can help in some situations, too. I'm speaking more of the over concentration that takes over and makes your body rigid. 


There's much more to balance
Source

Also, check out this link for more on the muscles that are used in Vrksasana



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Tuesday, 5 December 2017

The bright side of pain

Sigh. The past two weeks have been horrid. Or, at least, the pain has been horrid. Which kind of makes the day horrid. Which makes a week horrid. I'm sure you get the picture.

I am, once again, on the verge of being diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylosis (Ooh! I found out: spondylosis refers to the disease state, while spondylitis refers to the inflammatory flare, or specifically to the inflammation of the joints). My most recent scan shows severe inflammation in my lumbar spine, and, to a lesser degree, in my cervical spine, hips, SI joints, and knees. On top of that, I've been in a wrist brace to immobilise my wrist, so that it hopefully heals from an injury that I sustained two months ago, whilst ice skating. Or, more accurately, whilst falling, while ice skating :-p



On meeting a new client, I explained to her about my injuries (I had the brace on and she asked), and I also explained to her that, while several of my injuries are yoga related, I feel that that has contributed to making me a better teacher. My non-yoga related injuries have done the same in the sense that I know very well what to look out for, how to modify, and when to back down. I realised, while explaining this to my client, that being a chronic pain sufferer myself, puts me in a unique position to relate to people in similar situations. I know from experience that no amount of explaining or empathy can fully reveal what someone in chronic pain is experiencing, so it's super useful to have an instructor who already knows first-hand what you're likely experiencing.

While my pain and awareness of injuries may make me a little hyper cautious, I have overcome so much in the process of dealing with my own pain that I have grown my determination and confidence in my ability to help others with the same problems. Coupled with my thorough understanding of anatomy, I help people get into those show-off-y yoga poses too. Because I'm a pretty awesome yoga instructor, for people on a broad spectrum of levels and abilities.

And that is my bright side of pain!

Laughter is the best medicine. As is movement.



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Friday, 27 October 2017

New words

Some of my clients, and all of my friends, are aware of my ongoing struggle with pain. Again something that I'll probably go into in more detail as time goes by, but, for now, I thought I'd share a little bit of my current frustration with you.

Fibromyalgia: widespread pain that is present for at least three months; must occur on both sides of the body, above and below the waist, and along the length of the spine. There must be pain in at least eleven of eighteen specific points in the body.


I've been diagnosed with fibromyalgia. It's still largely a mystery to  health professionals, and used to be used as a I-don't-know-what-is-wrong-with-you-so-let's-diagnose-you-with-this thing. There have been some advances in the understanding of fibromyalgia, like, they can now prove the brain involvement with special MRI scans which would show that the brain perceives pain differently in someone with, as opposed to without the condition. Essentially your body becomes hypersensitive to pain.

The average person takes five years to be diagnosed. This is seriously painful... in more ways than one; going for that long without knowing what is causing your often constant discomfort, having no treatment for it, and usually being told to just 'get over it', is awful.

Because fibromyalgia is still a relatively new diagnosis, and because it's such a vast disorder (symptoms vary from pain in specific tender points of the body, to IBS, to insomnia, to depression), it is often misdiagnosed (for approximately five years). Similar symptoms appear in Rheumatoid arthritis, polymyalgia Rheumatica, Lyme disease, restless leg syndrome (aka Willis-Ekbom disease 😳), ankylosing spondylitis, chronic fatigue syndrome, systemic lupus erythematosus, major depression, thyroid disorders, myofascial pain syndrome, and multiple chemical sensitivity... If you understood all or most of those names, then you're either a well-trained physician, or you've been through the diagnoses wars.

If you're the latter, then my heart goes out to you. I feel your pain. And I wish you a speedy diagnosis, and a very wonderful and friendly doctor that understands your pain, too.

So far, smiling, laughing, and playing around as much as possible has been my best medicine. Doing (and sometimes teaching) yoga helps me to deal with the constant bugging annoyance of pain. Testing my limits every day, to see where my body is at, and, MOST importantly, listening when my body really just needs to rest, even if I feel like I'm just being a lazy poop, or like I'm over-reacting to the pain.









K, I've had enough of talking and typing about pain for now. So, my leaving message: just be kind to your body, dammit. And smile.



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Wednesday, 16 August 2017

About Celeste


My approach to yoga is one of playfulness and lightness, and of letting go of any seriousness, strain, or competitiveness that hinders the development and evolution of your yoga practise. The balance, peace, and harmony that comes with a regular yoga practise has been invaluable in my own life, and I wish to pass that on to all of those whom I have the pleasure of teaching. I enjoy combining elements of various yoga styles, but emphasise correct placement and posture in each asana, specifically to prevent injury, but also to help each yogi to achieve poses to the very best of their abilities. My interest in alignment emphasis stems from my own injuries, which have, retrospectively, been my greatest teachers.

My yoga journey started in 2010 when I moved to Cape Town. My true passion is incorporating mindfulness into movement and lifestyle. While completing my Masters degree in Dietetics, I also completed my 200-hour yoga teacher training with Catherine Wilkinson in Hout Bay in 2014, and qualified as an advanced registered yoga teacher in 2017 when I completed my 500-hour teacher training course. The strong focus on anatomy and alignment from both of these courses blends perfectly with my Pilates teacher training qualification, which I use to help clients with rehabilitation from injuries, as well as building up appropriate strength to avoid injury in more advanced yoga asana.

If you'd like to hear more of my ramblings about my life with yoga, check out some of my recent blog posts!
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