Posts tagged yoga
The 8 limbs of yoga... and how I've been doing it all along!

This is a bit of a run-on post from this post a few days ago.  I've had a lot of time to reflect so far during this trip to the ISKON temple near Madrid. The quiet nature of the temple grounds itself, the lifestyle of the devotees who live here, the nature surrounding me... and probably the fact it's suddenly rained so much over the past two days, meaning I've spent a lot of time inside on my own, reading writing and thinking... 

A few days ago I wrote a few words about 'yoga', including these lines:

"The Inward kind of yoga, where I focus on feeling and connecting with every aspect of my body, every fibre of muscle. The kind where I observe my focus shift from head to heart, where movements are subtle but significant- each a step to a deeper level of oneness with myself".

My coaching friend and fellow volunteer here with me on this trip, has provided me with much wisdom and fascinating observations of his own. In fact he is currently studying yoga and we have touched on numerous occasions it's meaning in our lives. Many of the devotees at the ISKON temple also talk of yogic principles, and I have had the privilege of seeing first hand how they embody this philosophy in subtle ways days to day.

It occurred to me this morning, that I have been more consciously cultivating the 'inward' kind of yoga along a similar timespan (roughly 2.5 years) to that which I have been more consciously practicing the 'bendy' kind of yoga. However these paths had never consciously crossed.

The deep inner work was going on in relation to my work as a nutrition and mindset coach, my commitment to overcoming the anxiety and overwhelm that I was experiencing, my curiosity with the world and my part within it.

At around the same time, I had added 'yoga' to my schedule of weekly fitness classes, I began to attend yoga events and subscribed to a yoga magazine. I more simply saw this as a form of exercise... something of a compliment to my HIIT training and weight lifting. 

It makes me smile to think of it now, it seems so obvious and plain to see. How my mindfulness work and physical yoga training were components of one and the same path...  how did I not see these parallels?

This morning I had a sudden urge, a rush of energy, a eyes-wide moment of clarity. I wanted to understand yoga. Immerse myself in yogic principles on a spiritual level, understand the theory behind the practice, the 8 limbs of yoga- more than the Asanas that many do not see beyond.

I wanted to begin to embody yoga in all that it could be, and all the empowerment (dare I say, enlightenment) it could bring to my life. 

(Source as noted in image)

When I looked at the 'eight limbs', it felt so right. All the practices, tools and tricks I've played around with in my own life to date are all here waiting, laid out for me as a perfect story. A progression of life long learning ad commitment to self.

I'm not a fan of labels... for example, I don't particularly like labelling myself as 'vegan' and when someone asks me "what do you do?" I struggle to find the words to describe my work... BUT labels aside, this feels so right. The yogic journey offers a structure and a community, a reference point and a source of comfort in knowing that I am not walking this path alone.  

Over the next year and beyond I want to take my work more deeply into the realms of creating experiences, incredibly powerful experiences to share with others, through retreats and workshops and who knows what else that has yet to be revealed to me. In writing these words, this already feels like magic rippling through my body. 

I have no idea where this fire, the energy of this moment will take me. I don't simply want to jump on the bandwagon and go off abroad somewhere beautiful to do yoga training as I have seen so many others in my arena do. Or maybe that's exactly what i'll ultimately end up doing. 

In this moment I have no idea where I go from here. All I know is that I have been on the yogic path all along without even knowing it. That awareness now creates a powerful opportunity and whilst don't plan to rush any decisions (I tend to have 'shiny new thing syndrome and jump at new ideas'!) It's an opportunity of awareness I will nourish to see where it grows.

I'd love to hear you thoughts and ideas of all things 'yoga'. Let's have a discussions... my mind is wide open! :-)

 

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What does yoga mean for you?
 

I absolute love these words that I originally saw shared on Facebook by my wonderful friend and coach Katie Hedges. It's actually something I've been thinking about a lot recently and was actually discussing with a friend at length yesterday as we sat together under the trees in the grounds of the Hare Krishna temple near Madrid where we are both currently volunteering. More on my time here at the temple another time... but now a moment to focus on yoga.

For me personally the practice of yoga takes two forms...

1) 'The Bendy' kind of yoga where I focus of increasing flexibility, of movement and breath, of rhythm, routine, beauty, and strength. A powerful form of exercise after which I feel tired and energised. The 'Lulu Lemon' kind of yoga where I put on my fabulous leggings and try and master the next big move.

But then there's...

2) 'The Inward' kind of yoga, where I focus on feeling and connecting with every aspect of my body, every fibre of muscle. The kind where I observe my focus shift from head to heart, where movements are subtle but significant- each a step to a deeper level of oneness with myself.

I love both forms of yoga.

Both serve me powerfully at different times of day or week, an intuitive response to what my body and mind craves.

But in moments of quiet I find myself pulled towards the latter kind. The kind which for so long I didn't understand or appreciate, and for so long denied myself when always on the go, go go. Always up in my head with little time to make the heart heard.

This 'yoga' is the nurturing of self love and acceptance of everything I am in each moment.

What does yoga mean to you?

I am running two retreats before the end of this year... yoga in all it's beautiful forms will be a key company of each. I'd love for you to join me... you can find out more here.

P.s see also this related post written a few days later!!

 

 

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Green beans, radishes... and Soul Circus!

Last weekend I had the privileged of working at Soul Circus, as taken from their website...

"Let your body dance and your soul run free. Soul Circus is about shedding the constraints of your adult life and rediscovering the world through the eyes of your inner child. Fun. Fantastical. Free. We invite you to participate in a weekend of celebrating and rediscovering your true self."

After a week of beautiful weather, it rained almost all weekend. I'm not going to lie... it would have been amazing if we could have enjoyed sunshine, chilling out on the hay bales, soaking up the sun, sipping green juices, chatting, jamming, playing... but instead we spend most of it ducking under cover! The sun did make an appearance in Sunday and so we all made the most of that!

Luckily, all the yoga sessions were held under cover the paver of beautiful tents, and I went to as many sessions as I could... plus a sound bath (cos I love them!) and a pineal light therapy session. My favourite by far was the handstand yogis session led by these guys. 

The attention to detail at this festival was incredible, maybe it's my years as an architect but I have an eye for that kind of thing and it did not go unappreciated. The bright colours of the ribbons and bunting brought such life, colour and beauty to the rainy greyness that prevailed.

On two evenings I helped out back of house in the kitchens, on the first night we prepared six course vegan dinner for 40 guests led by Jay Halford at The Core Cheltenham and then on the second evening I assisted a dinner for 12 VIP's in a makeshift back stage kitchen! Chris the chef, gifted me lots of lovely organic veg that was leftover... I received a bag of cobnuts, beautiful red and golden beets and a bunch of radishes and fresh herbs.

I have only even eaten radishes raw before and so I was intrigued to pan fry them. I had loads of green beans ready in the garden so this simply dish came together nice and easily.

If you haven't tried cooking radishes before, I highly recommend it... lovely mellow and almost buttery flavour. I used coconut oil but you could use an alternative favourite.

Recipe: Green beans and radishes

Recipe: Green beans and radishes

Ingredients:

  • 2 handfuls green beans- ends trimmed and beans cut in half
  • 1 small red onion (or 2 shallots)- sliced thinly
  • 1 handful radishes- halved or quartered
  • 2 tbs coconut oil
  • 2 garlic clives- crushed
  • 1 tsp mixed Italian herbs
  • small handful of fresh parsley or rosemary- chopped
  • red chilli pepper flakes to serve- optional

Method: 

Boil the green beans for 5 mins.

Meanwhile prepare remaining ingredients and add to a large frying pan with the coconut oil.

Drain and add the green beans. Pan fry all together until the radishes are lightly golden. Add the fresh herbs and stir through to serve. Sprinkle a few red pepper flakes over the top if desired and add salt and pepper to taste.

Recipe: Green beans and radishes

P.s There is an early bird rate coming soon for next years Soul Circus festival... so keep an eye their website for more details.


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Yoga Connects!

After 36 hours of digital detox with my phone turned off...

15+ hours of yoga practice 

15 hours of volunteering 

A gong bath

Inspiring talks 

A an epic soul revival dance party 

And a yoga rave

...I return home with a weekend of experiences with some of the most passionate and compassionate people this world has to offer.

I had the privilege of working at the incredible Yoga Connects Festival. Spending time in the company and teaching of some of the yoga greats such as Celeste Periera and Dylan Werner, yet also had the grounding reminder that yoga is not about perfection of the skills to perform gravity defying hand balances.... but an ever evolving inner practice of tuning in your true nature. Of loving yourself in this moment.

Practicing yoga in a group space holds an incredible energy. It intensifies, magnifies and reflects our individual energy. I felt this when I was one of a handful in the sunshine on the bus deck at Merkaba, and I felt this again when I was one of many- sometimes 100+ at the yoga classes this weekend.

I also attended a gong bath, I would have loved to have attended more to go even deeper, but there was so much else I wanted to experience and so it was not to be.  This going bath was a particularly reflective experience for me. I had just finished an intense early morning shift of volunteering at the registration desk and my shift also over ran a little meaning I rushed to where the gong bath was being held, tiptoeing my way through the room to find a small space in a sea of yoga mats already filling the room.

I settled down as the teacher began with slow soft words to lead into the session. My mind was full and it wouldn't give up easy! I had a feeling I'd find it hard to get out of my head and into my heart space and relax but this then gave rise to an altogether different experience. With the sounds of the gong in the background creating ripples and crescendoes of sound reverberating around the room, my mind filled with thoughts, questions and scenarios... Random scatterings of thoughts that each powerfully caught my attention for a few moments... But almost as soon as I got caught up in them, I realised I was doing so and simply let them go.

I just let them drift off.

I told myself if it was important then it would come back to me later when I could do something about it, but that right now there was nothing I could do to help those thoughts and there was little point in them hanging around. It worked like magic. Throughout the 1.5 hour gong bath, my mind filled constantly but also gave me endless practice in letting go... again and again and again.

At the end of the session as I wiggled my fingers and toes, opened my eyes and slowly sat up as the leader brought the session to a close, I realised I remembered not a single thought that had crossed my mind so powerfully just a few moments before.

The epic teachers whose classes I attended... including (top right anti-clockwise) Jake & Chetana- acro yoga, Dylan Werner - yoga therapeutics, Luis Valentine- Jivamukti, 47 Soul- awesome musicians, Celeste Periera- Vinyasa flow, Charlotte Welfare- Boom Shanti, Brett Moran- yogi and inspiring speaker.

The epic teachers whose classes I attended... including (top right anti-clockwise) Jake & Chetana- acro yoga, Dylan Werner - yoga therapeutics, Luis Valentine- Jivamukti, 47 Soul- awesome musicians, Celeste Periera- Vinyasa flow, Charlotte Welfare- Boom Shanti, Brett Moran- yogi and inspiring speaker.

Guru is the Sanskrit word for teacher.

Yoga means unity.

We are all own own most powerful teachers when we open our hearts and let the world in to show us the way and allow ourselves to listen to and trust our own inner voice.

When we come together as one energy. Individuals with a common aim, united in physical space, sharing a common bond and a common love. We are one... We are a unity. We are spiritual beings in a physical body.

Hundreds of us sat back to back, bodies pressed together with a partner at the end of the yoga rave at midnight on Saturday, after a full on day of the festival under a huge tent canopy, energy and rhythm still coursing through our souls, coming down from the drug free euphoric high that only love can create. We sat in meditative silence which then closed with my favourite poem..

We are each beacons of light.

This weekend we let out light shine out to the world. I have no doubt it reached beyond the fields of Stanford Hall. I have no doubt it reached beyond the boundaries of the United Kingdom. This weekend we came together from all over the country and the world for one common aim. To share yoga, to share passion, to share learning and ultimately to share deep inner the love that is innate to us all. 

From the book 'Love' by Leo Buscaglia which I have recently been reading, we do not 'fall' in love but we 'grow' in love. It is a constant, consistent practice in much the same way that yoga is also a constant, consistent practice for both body and mind.

This weekend the people of Yoga Connects came together to grow deeper in love.

P.s If you like to join in next year.... keep an eye on their website for 2017 super early bird tickets coming soon!


 

Why not sign up for my newsletter in my sidebar where I feature roundups and special offers plus my FREE ebook. If you are new round here you might like to check out my 'About' tab up top. To buy healthy nibbles you can also find me over at my sister site Wholeplus. 

Day to day you can always find me hanging out in these places:

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