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

Tuesday, 28 July 2020

Being 'stuck'

Lockdown. Social distancing. Travel bans. The same people, every day, all day. No wonder we're in the state that we're in (depression and suicide stats?). And it's not just physical confinement. Extra laws, fear-mongering, fake news, sheeple, the utterly staggering degree of selfishness and greed of many country leaders. And the mask non-compliant. The psychological strain has been immense; limiting your options or making you think three times before leaving the house. It's no wonder we're rates of depression are soaring. We're physically stuck.

I love to translate life things into yoga, or yoga into every day life. Maybe just because that feeds into my own opinion of why I do what I do (helping people to help themselves, basically), or because it's a way for me to make sense of this physical body in a physical world with so many deeper and higher layers and meanings. #existentialism. But it's been true in my life since I started yoga. I've noticed many links between my practice and my life, usually in hindsight (does that make it more or less prone to being a 'grasping at straws to make things make sense' kind of thing?)

In yoga we often come across the term, or at least the feeling of being 'stuck'. Usually in the hips (because so much of the asana practice focuses on and requires hip flexibility), but also in the hamstrings, the shoulders, and in pretzel poses where you're not sure exactly how to undo yourself without breaking... (#pushingtoohard?)

What I've learned though, is that practice is key. If you're stuck - with a pose, with hips, with life - just... keep going. Make small adjustments or improvements every day, if you can. Or just whenever you can. Alwys be open to the possibilities. And be gentle on yourself.

I threw myself into work (and inadvertently, doing yoga asana regularly) during the beginnings of Covid, and, unintentionally, I did a lot of practicing on areas that I hadn't focused on much (because it's good to teach what you're not good at) as well as areas that I was already strong in (because teaching your strengths is nice too!). As a result, my asana practice got unstuck. And as a bonus (I guess I should've expected this) I've started feeling a lot less physically confined. So while we're still in lock-down, and probably will be for a long time still, I've managed to make a massive shift.

And it feels glorious.

But you know the absolute bestest part of all of this?? I've seen shifts in my clients, too. Some small, some huge. But undeniable. And some of them have noticed it too, which is an added bonus (because yay mindfulness and being aware of ones own body and mind and stuff!).

Just keep on keeping on. You've got this.

Be FREEEE!
(ah, the good old days of doing yoga outdoors at the Da Vinci hotel)


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Onward & Upward

With everything Covid going on, Move Me has moved all classes online. This has had its own bunch of issues - technical, spacial, logisticial; and in terms of scheduling, advertising and communicating. It's been scary, and exciting, and definitely not what I saw this year bringing! Many things that I was looking forward to, now won't come to fruition, and I've taken some time to process and deal with that. But there have been some amazing things that have come from it, too. I get to see and talk to my mom and my sister every (week) day now! I've been able to assist people in staying sane, getting strong (or stronger), and starting on their (long-overdue!) journeys of reconnecting with their bodies. I'd dare to say that many of these things wouldn't have happened, or wouldn't have been possible had it not been for the whirlwind that 2020 has brought us.

On a personal level, lock-down for me started with some unpleasant health issues that turned decidedly more unpleasant before it finally healed up. That was a journey that I'd prefer to never repeat... Interestingly enough, my body still starts shivering and shaking when I recount the memories. I was given no option but to back down from my physical practice (which was a serious bummer, because I was the strongest that I had ever been, and I had finally gotten to a point where I was completely happy with my body. I was a bit annoyed, to say the least. But also grateful to be alive 😁 #cognitivedissonace

For two solid weeks I did nothing physical. I felt like my strength was withering away. And it was being replaced with cravings for anything and everything unhealthy and delicious! (I'm by no means saying that those two are synonymous - please don't misinterpret that!) I had been in a position before, a few years ago, where I had to stop doing anything and everything physical for a while - I took a month off doing anything in order to assess if what I was doing was the cause, or even an agitator, of my chronic lower back pain. What I recall so vividly from that experience was that when I started doing yoga again (because doing nothing made the pain worse, thankfully!) I was stronger than I had been when I stopped in the first place. Don't ask how. I don't question things like that! For the very first time I was able to get seamlessly into Eka pada bakasana! Whoohoo!

Anyway, so I clung to that memory in slight desperation, hoping and wondering if a similar thing would happen when I eventually got back on the mat. (On a side note, teaching online without demonstrating was really difficult, but I learned a lot there too!)

After three weeks of not doing anything, I could feel that I had lost some strength. I'd lost some of the control that I had gained over the movements of my body. My flexibility wasn't as good either. But, you know what, at least I practice again. There was no miraculous moment of "ooh I can do something I wasn't able to do before!" or even a "thank goodness I can still do this!". But you know what else? Patience.

I got back into my work and into my practice. I took it one day at a time. I think there was so much else going on that I kinda forgot to set goals for myself? Or something. Two months later, I was playing around with some gliders with my sister and lo and behold I was sooooooo close to doing a straddle press. Like, millimetres away. I tried it again an hour or so later, against a cupboard because I am terrified of unsupported handstands. And it happened. Just like that.

And now I can do a straddle press 😊 and also I can bind my toe in pigeon pose on the one side.

Just like that.

So, long story short, do not EVER give up. Setbacks are temporary if you listen to your body, and persist - slowly, mindfully and with a smile.


Eka pada bakasana on the beach. I miss the beach.
Mermaids pose, a prep step towards pigeon pose where you hold onto the toe with your hands (instead of the elbow) and you have your chest facing straight forward (instead of twisted like I am here)



Also, I should learn at some stage to record myself attempting new poses. Maybe in 2021.




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Wednesday, 26 February 2020

Where to from here?

I won't lie, I've been feeling a bit lost. There have been several changes in my life, vast majority of them great. But with change comes some instability, I guess. Readjusting to, playing around with, getting used to, and seeing the ripple effects of change.

In a yoga practice (and in life) you want change. That's what we strive for. Without change we'd be stagnant, stuck, with no growth. Change is something that we'd usually celebrate. Being able to hold a handstand when you were never previously able to, for example, would be a fantastic feeling! ("would be", because I still haven't gotten that right yet. Ugh.)

On the flip side though, not being able to do a back bend anymore when that was one of your best poses is also change, but more a change that needs to be dealt with and accepted (been there, done that). It can be seen as a 'negative' change. Or you could choose to see the lesson in it.

So where is the lesson in this instability and fear that I'm feeling? But also, why am I struggling with it when the changes themselves were so positive?

Staying grateful for the positivity is definitely something that I needed to learn (as is each little bit of progress on my handstand). Trusting that the change will lead to better things (and that it's not just the change itself that was good) requires a leap of faith. It also requires persistent effort to making the best of each new thing that arises. So, I guess I'm saying that I need to listen and look out for the positive more? Just keep on keeping on. Keep practicing. Keep doing the yoga.

So, with one foot in front of the other, slowly and steadily, I keep moving. Perhaps this week I'll teach more flow, to just keep going, quietly and mindfully.

Or something like that.


Almost sorta' got it... I mean, I can get up there, against a wall, but I'm still way off from actually holding it away from the wall...
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Friday, 24 January 2020

Hello to new beginnings

If you've been following the website or our Facebook page, or you're a new or existing client, you'll have seen that things have changed a bit... We have a spectacular new studio in the most amazing setting.

I have had the immense privilege of partnering up and working with amazingly amazing women to help me on this new venture. I won't mention names, but you guys (should) know who you are! You all rock!

This whole turn around has also made me very much aware of how awesome many of my clients are. The support and understanding that I've gotten has been tremendous. I am absolutely sure that it will all be worth it once you see and start sessions in the new space. But thank you to you lovely people!

...this is sounding a bit like an Oscars thank you speech...

*music starts playing*

Come check out the incredible new space and the new extended timetable! And also our open day on the 7th of March... save the date so long, details will follow soon!





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Monday, 6 January 2020

Trust

ANOTHER BLOG POST?? ALREADY?
What can I say, when inspiration hits, it hits hard.

So, I was just having a chat with my sister and she’s trying to encourage me to write more, or at least trying to convince me that my posts really aren’t that bad and that people actually like reading them - or at least that’s what the stats say? I find myself in a position of needing to just let go and trust her.

But this isn’t the only time that this kind of trust thing has come up for me recently. I had to let go of some crappy stuff that I was terrified of ‘losing’ (inverted commas because it turned out that I gained so much more from letting go that ‘loss’ hardly played a role) and that took a lot of trust that other, and hopefully better things would come along.

I’m really modest, often to my own detriment. But the message has been coming across pretty persistently that I’m actually not that bad at what I do, and that perhaps, maybe, I’m actually really good at it. Maybe I really do have a knack for helping people and seeing things and knowing how to go about shifting things. But just to type that has taken so much (letting go and) trusting people (and their results, too) that I’m wondering if perhaps I don’t have major trust issues… *jots down notes for next therapy appointment*

I’m also wondering now how trust can play into your yoga practice, and I guess there it would be all to do with trusting your body, trusting the process, listening and being kind to yourself (more on this here).

My sister and me. She looks trustworthy, right? 

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Wednesday, 11 December 2019

It’s back. And wrists and ankles and hips.

I had a period of about three months where my pain was all but gone. It happened after a break up that seems had been perpetuating issues and patterns from my childhood. He’s not a bad guy, he just wasn’t great for me. Or, he was, in terms of how much I learned about myself while we were together. I digress.

My body seems prone to side effects of medications, and I’ve had some of those get worse over the course of this year. Since my pain had started dissipating and stressors had changed, the doc and I made a change to my meds. Aaaand the pain started coming back. I now seem to have tendonitis in my wrists, ankles, knees and hips, and from today, in my SIJ. The link with the medication is my (and my physio’s) guess. It may also be because I haven’t been using the same cannabis treatment. I’ll keep you posted. It may be in five months time when the blog urge peaks again, or it may be in four weeks time once I’ve, a) Started on CBD tablets again, and, b) Gone back onto old meds if the CBD doesn’t help.

In the meantime, I’m staying positive, because CBT (Cognitive behavioural therapy - read here) does have its place, and because I’ve attained two new clients who are/ have been going through the same autoimmune/ chronic pain ordeal that I slogged through, and I cannot tell you what a massive difference it makes to have people around you who understand. Me for them, but so much them for me, too. If you guys are reading this, thank you :)

Fibromyalgia Treatment (2)
JUST FOUND THIS AMAZING ARTICLE ON FIBROMYALGIA!! And it has a cool picture, too.

Also this picture from here about fibromyalgia. It isn't just one thing.
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New concepts

So, turned out that LETTING GO of some of the 'baggage' that I was holding on to actually had a massive impact on my pain levels. A LOT of therapy had gotten me to start realising and dealing with childhood stuff, and then some alternative healing sessions got me to a space of actually letting go of said issues, and then my pain all but vanished. For a while (but more on that here).Image result for yoga quotes
(update to New words)

So, turned out that LETTING GO of some of the ‘baggage’ that I was holding on to actually had a massive impact on my pain levels. A LOT of therapy had gotten me to start realising and dealing with childhood stuff, and then some alternative healing sessions got me to a space of actually letting go of said issues, and then my pain all but vanished. For a while (but more on that here).

Insert new word:



Well, not new, really. Just a very necessary clarification.

Psychosomatic means that there is a link between mind and body (I love my ‘business’s’ name), but it doesn’t mean that any pain experienced as a result of stress is in the person’s head. It is, in the sense that all pain is an interpretation of stimuli by the brain, but it isn’t in the sense of being ‘made up’. I struggled with that for YEARS. I had specialists (the ones who charge R1600 for half an hour ‘consultations’) tell me to go to therapy for my lower back pain. Yes, CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) has its place in pain management, especially in learning to cope with chronic pain, but it isn’t going to heal your pain, because the pain isn’t all in your head, it isn’t made up. And only if you’ve been in that situation would you understand how frustrating and infuriating it is to be told that. And to have to pay that much to be told that crap.



This can all sound contradictory, I know. And it took me a long time (about four years from the first real ‘sign’) to admit and acknowledge just how strong the link between mind (in this case mainly chronic stress) and body (chronic lower back pain) is. It seems that having dealt with past stress and having let go of situations that were perpetuating that helped my brain let go of the overwhelming pain stimuli. I still have degeneration in my lumbar spine. I still have arthritis in several joints. The autoimmune stuff is still there. Stress had a physical effect on my body. The physical effects were triggered by psychological issues, but I have not made up the pain, I did not consciously decide or choose to be in pain, and I cannot just ‘let it go’ or ‘get over it’.

*deep breath*

Years of CBT has helped me get up in the mornings, and years of psychotherapy has gotten me to a point where I can acknowledge and let go of shit. And that has helped me to retrain my brain to not over react to pain stimuli. It took YEARS of work. As for the psychosomatic side, stress caused physical harm to my body*.

So if you come across someone who’s experiencing chronic pain, be nice to them, k? Thanks.



*derived from a process of elimination, with no other possible explanation besides, perhaps, an unknown/ undiagnosed autoimmune disease (most of which are still impossible to diagnose properly, and the etiology of which is vastly unknown


Image result for yoga quotes
Dunno who said this initially, but it rings too true
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Monday, 9 December 2019

(Actually) Letting go



So, again it’s been ages. Maybe this writing stuff down thing just isn’t for me? Even though I love it when I do manage to get into it… Or perhaps it’s just that too much happens that I want to write about that I just get overwhelmed. Or the fatigue from having an autoimmune icky-thing. Or just that it’s been a really busy period in my life. Who knows. Who really cares, and quite frankly, what does it even matter? Like, be in the present moment and stuff already.

So here I am with half an hour or so before my client arrives.


And letting go has been a big theme for me this year, but especially in the last few months. While letting go can be difficult and painful, hindsight reveals that it’s really well worth it, specifically in the sense of creating space for better things and people.

Where I’m really going with this ramble is that my studio space is moving to a bigger space that is also awesome and beautiful and wonderful! I’m going to be working closely with someone else who is also awesome and fabulous and will take some of the workload off, which might even make more space for me to type up my random thoughts! Perhaps then they will be more coherent and ordered :) It also means that I get to have a lounge again!!

In conclusion, if you happen to be reading this, and you happen to be in a place where you’re unsure of letting go of something that you’ve realised may not be great for you, stop hesitating and cut it loose. Besides, you never know what you might get in its place unless you go for it.

Namaste, peeps.
Namaste

(Hahahahaha, I just saw and read my old blog post about knowing when to let go. Guess I finally decided to actually do it, albeit several months after the fact… all in good time, I guess!)

Image result for namaste
A definition, because meaning is important

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The death of me

In retrospect, the past two years have been horrendous. And as I type this, I realise that it's pretty much exactly two years ago that things started changing. Details are not important, but suffice it to say my mental and physical wellbeing were put to the test. There were times that I couldn’t see a way out, there were times when I almost gave up completely. Actually, there were times when I did give up. That resigning, letting go, surrendering.

It was my sister, and a fantastic friend who were always there to remind me that there was good, that I was good. Cuen was a pillar of support, completely unjudgmental, and always there if I needed to talk or vent or cry or find out how to go about admitting myself to a special hospital… Yes, times were rough. No, I didn’t actually go. Because I had support, all around me were caring and loving friends whom I could and did speak to. About everything. …I’m almost embarrassed to admit that there are some almost complete strangers that know my whole life story… Over share was not on my list of cares.

But looking back on it now, it was because of that openness and (over)-communication that I came through it all. Talking was the therapy that I needed to put things into perspective, and to move on. It was the support of good people that kept reminding me where I was headed, and where I needed to let go.

Now I totally get that talking isn’t the optimal choice for everyone, but I’ve also seen the absolute horror that can come from complete silence. We need people around us, to bounce ideas off of, to get different opinions, for support and care, a shoulder to cry on, or just someone to vent to. Friends or strangers or psychologists. Your choice. But choose one.

I think I’ve come through the darkness. I’m hesitant to say it out loud for fear of being smited by the good ol’ universe… But who I am now is so vastly different from who I was, and I am so much stronger, so much more confident, and so much more focused on my own life. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger is such a clichΓ©, but it’s true.

(And in my modesty) It feels like I’m a phoenix, risen from the ashes. The death of who I was, was a necessary step to becoming who I am meant to be.

At least I hope that’s what it was.

Reaching for the stars.
Vasistasana is a great pose, and a strong pose. And the slipping sand makes it harder. Just like life. 

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Friday, 6 December 2019

About Celeste

My fascination with the human body started in high school when I developed and recovered from an eating disorder. I did my undergraduate degree in Dietetics at Pretoria University where I then started to develop an interest in the psychology behind eating. As I started with my postgraduate Masters degree at University of Cape Town I was introduced to Yoga (thanks, Mom!) and my passion for movement took off. I was immediately hooked, and delved into the connections between the body, the mind, and movement. I did both my 200-hour and 500-hour advanced teacher training courses at the Wellness Connection in Hout Bay, under the incredible guidance of Catherine Wilkinson. 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.

My fascination with the human body started in high school when I developed and recovered from an eating disorder. I did my undergraduate degree in Dietetics at Pretoria University where I then started to develop an interest in the psychology behind eating. As I started with my postgraduate Masters degree at University of Cape Town I was introduced to Yoga (thanks, Mom!) and my passion for movement took off. I was immediately hooked, and delved into the connections between the body, the mind, and movement. I did both my 200-hour and 500-hour advanced teacher training courses at the Wellness Connection in Hout Bay, under the incredible guidance of Catherine Wilkinson. 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.

The balance, peace, and harmony that comes with a regular yoga practise has been invaluable in my own life

I approach yoga with quite a bit of playfulness and lightness, with the aim 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. Not just for myself, but also in terms of how I approach and see other bodies, and my capability of understanding and guiding people through whatever it is that they are going through – be it good or bad.

The knowledge, experience and talents that I have to offer makes me greatly suited to guiding and educating any body to a better, more balanced body, mind and lifestyle.

Qualifications & experience

  • B Dietetics (TUKS)
  • MSc (Med) specialising in Dietetics (UCT)
  • Trained in Nutrition counselling for disordered eating
  • Advanced 200 and Advanced 500-hour Yoga Alliance certified yoga instructor (10 years of practice and 6 years teaching experience)
  • Certified 200-hour Yoga Teacher Trainer (5 years of teacher training experience)
  • Certified Pilates Mat instructor (6 years teaching experience)
  • Movement rehabilitation (4 years experience)
  • Certified Aerial Yoga instructor
  • Certified Yin Yoga instructor
  • Massage therapist (5 years experience

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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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 😬

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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 :)

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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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