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Last Class Of 2017 - Sat 16th 7.30am - Pause. Breath . Move . Play . Connect

Yoga Diary

A Wanderlust first-timer... 30th of August, 2016

Wanderlust: The irresistible desire to travel, practice yoga, eat well, be green, appreciate art & create community around mindful living.

Let’s do it!

 

I head in as an individual soul, seeking little explosions of understanding, an affirming experience, and a smile from the universe. Wanderlust Sunshine Coast, what will I learn and uncover here? Here are 4 things I learnt as a Wanderlust first-timer.


1. Being a yogi means realising that we are not all the same; but wanting to hang out anyway.

First thing I notice, Wanderlust is not the set of ‘Clueless’ circa 1995 or any other American teen movie based on stereotypical cliques ie. If we don’t all look the same, dress the same and like the same things: we simply cannot be friends. We all have our own style, ideas, views and experiences both on and off the mat. I met many yogis over the 4 days, unique yet somehow in the crazy mosh pit, all strongly connected.

To name a few:

Me- 30, Yoga teacher & business owner from Perth, AUS. Vegan, bendy, loves a bit of yogi bling, recognises her obsession with yoga apparel and devours strong vinyasa classes with intricate anatomical cues.

Tom- Late 20’s worked in rural Victoria as a ‘bush track landscaper’. He practiced yoga irregularly but ended up at Wanderlust as his wife (the keen yogi) decided to pass on her ticket and lay by the pool. The poor girl broke her ankle a week out from the festival. Tom is tall, slender and dresses like a casual ‘Aussie’ bloke would. He likes to talk about his outdoor adventures, drinks beer on the weekends and looks like he has a metal rod running parallel to his spine in any type of back bend.

Lisa- Mid 30’s, mother to 2, living a family life on the Sunshine Coast, AUS. She has been a yogi for 10 + years, is gentle, kind, shy and eager to please.

Sandra- 19, Brazil dancer. In the midst of her yoga TT she asks lots of questions, has a stand out handstand practice and no fear.

JT-  30, Musician from NZ. He is a free loving, hug giving, without prejudice, tattooed guy. Tall, gentle and relaxed.

~

Five places to call home, five ages, five jobs, five experiences; One clique, one tribe, one family, one Wanderlust.
Lesson - Wanderlust Festival = A kindred clan, not an American school yard.

 

2. Committing to a simple structure serves me.

First, wake up then follow with any combination of the following actions; walk on the beach, enjoy a green smoothie, attend a rad yoga class, lay in the sun, listen to a swami speak, dance till your legs tire, meditate, hula hoop.

Once the day is complete, sleep. Wake and repeat x4 days.

Lesson - No car, no lists, no set-in-stone plans, no watch, no phone = Bliss

 

3. I really like being on my yoga mat.

So, none of the promotional material stated that at almost every yoga class on offer you would be asked to leave your mat! I loved moving like a unicorn in the sand, feeling the grass between my toes, dancing to the beat of my breath in circles, hugging the stranger across from me and being blindfolded and asked to crawl to the centre of a ginormous room.

However, by the end of the 4 days all I really craved were the words of my fiery teacher at home, “10 rounds of salutes, go, breath, press your hands down into the mat”.

Lesson - Don’t be fooled by the ‘normal’ sounding blurb in your wanderlust passport! Make space for your own salutes if it serves you, as it's unlikely you will get this ‘comfort zone’ practice in otherwise.

 

4. I am on the right path. I know just the right amount to be right here, now.

The first few moments in a new environment with brand new companions almost always invites questions,self-judgement, and perhaps fear. It was when the comparisons started in my head as I rolled out my mat for my first session that I decided, enough. I am here, as I am, right now. Worthy and vulnerable. I kept this mantra pinned to my heart during every offering thereafter.

This seemed to be a personal boundary that once set, allowed me to move effortlessly in and out of moments. Each class, connection, experience, flowed and felt spacious. I felt liberated by my current knowledge and excited by the potential understandings to come.

Lesson - Full and empty are both valuable. Feel your capability and vulnerability equally, from here you will grow.

--

Wanderlust is a community. A group of amazing people coming together, in common unity!

2016 Summer Festival season heats up in AUS with the Perth 108, one-day event, and Sunshine Coast, four-day festival Sept and Oct respectively. Join me at both!

*Tickets and details here- www.wanderlust.com

New Year's Res. 21st of January, 2016

No doubt this time of year sparks up a little bit of reflection and some forward thinking. Did I achieve what I set out to achieve? Am I moving forward? It is when we look back, we ask ourselves where to from here? 

Which leads to…New Year’s resolutions. Yup, we’ve all heard of them. We’ve probably all made them at some point…and probably all broken them at some point too. Quite possibly this year’s resolves are long forgotten already.

So are they worth it?
Are they useful?
And what’s yoga got to do with it?

Firstly, yoga teaches us we’re enough. That we’re not defined by what we achieve, by our weight, by our wealth – the unchanging Divine within us is always everything that we need to be. The closer we can align ourselves with that truth, the more we realise that resolutions like I want to lose xxkg or I want to be in xxxx position in the company or even I want to achieve xxxx pose in yoga this year really hold no place in our thinking. We kind of have to make an ‘un-resolution’…instead of entering 2016 to be ‘better’, or to change ourselves, we change our thinking and find a resolve to be more authentically ourselves.

But we can still have goals right? After all, tapas (our discipline) and abhyasa (our consistent practice) is what keeps us going and what keeps us focused on the mat…how do we bring that to our lives?

It lies in embracing impermanence – understanding that our world is continuously cycling through the three phases of creation, preservation and destruction. It’s through this flow that we can allow ourselves to let go of what no longer serves and welcome the opportunity for new possibilities.

We can think about how impermanence exists in our lives a little bit like traffic lights. The obvious: RED means stop, YELLOW means slow down (yes, yellow means slow down and not put the foot on the accelerator and gun it…), and GREEN means go. As inconvenient as traffic lights can feel at times, they get us to our destination. The changes that occur in our lives unfold in a similar fashion. There are moments in our lives that force us slow down. Sometimes we’re stopped completely – opportunities to find clarity and ask where am I actually going? And then there are the times we get the green light to move forward with momentum.

If we think about what traffic lights are actually designed to do, they’re there to keep everyone flowing smoothly, getting them where they need to go. When we truly understand impermanence, we see that everything we’re currently experiencing is moving us to the direction we need to be. Even when it may not feel like it at the time, everything is moving at the proper speed. Sure we can cheat it, try to race ahead and run the yellow light (or the red one…)…but ultimately life catches up with us at the next red light. We just gotta let it play out.

So let’s bring it back to the mat, because that’s where it starts. It’s not about changing ourselves, or about being better, about being this or being  that, but about finding a firm resolve that honours the incredible being that is Self. The universe is always going to throw at us what we need, when we need it (even when it reeeeeeeeeally doesn’t feel like it at the time). What we can choose to do is stay consistent in our efforts. Choose to keep showing up. Choose to embrace all the changes we experience along the way (the stop’s, the slow down’s and the go’s)…let them be the opportunities that await us in this exciting year ahead.

Namaste. Rhy xx
 

Image credit: Gemma Correll via Society6

Tap into the 'flow' 14th of December, 2015

We’ve all heard and certainly used the expression “go with the flow” - it’s synonymous with the idea of being happy go lucky, feeling chilled, being flexible with change, open to challenge and just generally having an altogether cool with life vibe. But... Did you know this concept of “FLOW” is a scientifically studied experience that’s been well documented by positive psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi? (Ok –this is how you say his name MI-HIGH CHIK-SENT-MI-HIGH). And as a side note: this awesome guy accidently or serendipitously developed a fascination with psychology when he was a broke teenager in Switzerland, having no money to go to a movie he took himself to a free lecture in the town hall. The speaker that evening was none other than Carl Jung. Minor digressions aside, this is going somewhere – I promise. Stay with me.

In developing his interest in psychology Csíkszentmihályi studied people who were heavily involved in art, philosophy, religion and music. He interviewed them and discovered that all them had one thing in common. They were most happy when immersed in the subject of their choice. They all noted that when totally absorbed and focused on their chosen task time slipped by, they felt no pangs of normal biological needs such as hunger, thirst or needing to wee. They could in fact go for hours or days without noticing anything but pure engagement with the task at hand. Language accompanying such experience included “being in the zone”, “finding a groove” and “everything just flows effortlessly”. Csíkszentmihályi then went on to write a thesis on “The Flow Experience” for his doctorate back in 1972. You can read more about Flow Psychology here and here.

The concept of the flow experience has infiltrated many levels of society today, from big companies such as Microsoft to small businesses and the personal development industry. We often use the language of flow experience within our own lives without even knowing its origins because it feels so natural. And that’s the key. This is an experience gifted to all of us when we find our passion. Our drive.  It’s The Holy Grail in a sense. Now, the thing is flow doesn’t just land in our lap like a little present from the angels. It actually takes effort and challenge. In a nutshell it is the intercept of challenge and skill. There is a fine balance hanging there where challenge can be too great and it creates stress and worry, or challenge can be too low and it creates boredom and apathy. Flow happens when the challenge of the task pushes us to the point of heightened awareness but not beyond our actual capabilities. 

So, getting to the nitty gritty of Flow and Yoga: How can we apply or tap into the flow experience on the mat? Here are 4 ways:

1.    Get real about your reasons for doing yoga. We hear this all the time “Yoga is so much more than good stretch” but if you do yoga just because it makes your body feel really great then own it, it’s the best start! Pretending to be or experience more isn’t authentic and you will automatically resist “flow”.

2.    If you have to force anything in your practice, you will not be able to experience flow. Challenge good. Force not good. Be honest with yourself, no one feels peaceful or happy if there is pain and struggle. Let challenge meet your skill level – from there you can progress.

3.    Boredom is a teacher. If you find yourself thinking- F... this, I just want it to be done. Don’t judge. Notice. Why? Are you feeling underwhelmed or over stressed? Being bored is the antithesis of flow. Being bored means your skills have increased and therefore your challenge must increase. It’s actually a GOOD thing. 

4.    Revisit what feels too hard. Sitting still or lying in savasana is the hardest thing to do.  Our monkey minds just want to chatter all-the-day-long. We have lists and conversations and stories and problems that constantly compete for attention. Eventually though, through the effort of coming back time and time again, meditation and savasana will provide the ultimate flow experience. Practice it. Honour it. And your internal world will be lit up, free of ego and timeless.
 

Now join me for your next 'flow' on the mat!

Namaste. Rhy xx

In the name of love 23rd of November, 2015

In a traditional sense the practice of devotion seems to lie inextricably with the concepts of religious spirituality. Bhakti yoga also has its roots embedded in religion and worshipping of “the guru” or God. But don’t worry, there’s nothing hocus pocus about it. Quite the opposite in fact, Bhakti is devotion, but more than that it is connection with the Divine within. However you personally interpret this Divine is completely and totally up to you. Divine can be anything: Nature, Source, Universe, One Love, Self, you get the picture. The important thing is that we have something to reach into, be devoted to, to love.

If you are interested in more structured yogic ways of including Bhakti yoga into your experience and spiritual evolution there are practices to help you do this. 

One way is through chanting, Kirtan (translates to “praise”) is the call and response pattern of chanting and is thought to be a way to literally sing yourself into enlightenment. Another option is good old prayer, but not the bedtime ritual of prayer from childhood, nor the “I’m in a crisis, please fix this God” kind of prayer but rather the classical Hindu style of japa – which is the repetition of a Mantra. If singing, banging a tambourine or repeating the same word over and over again isn’t your thing, that’s ok. Some of this stuff can bring up all sorts of resistance, it’s not about judging yourself or others it’s about finding your own personal way to feel the power and joy of devotion.

In fact one of the best ways to begin your practice of Bhakti is to devote time to self-care, self-acceptance and self-love. When we give ourselves over to this practice our hearts can soften. We can eliminate jealousy, mistrust, judgement and unkindness. We can actually connect with the Divine just through speaking kind words to ourselves, by being grateful for the opportunities we have, for living in a country where we are free to express ourselves. For this to be Bhakti it must become a dedicated daily practice, devoting time everyday to filling our own spiritual cup with love, gratitude and praise.

As with any practice discipline is required. For Bhakti to really feed your soul and for the effects of love and devotion to shine through you, it’s important to create a sacred time aside from the hustle of everyday life. If you are a yogi with regular home practice set up then it’s ideal to tag a bit of extra time onto the beginning or the end to practice Bhakti. If you are yet to establish home practice but still want to include Bhakti then first thing in the morning as you wake up or last thing at night just before you fall asleep is just fine too.  

Creating a ritual of devotion needn’t be a huge event. Simply stating an affirmation such as this one everyday could bring about enormous positive change.

I am grateful that I receive the wisdom of the Universe, knowing that I am guided to my highest good in every moment. – Excerpt from the Enneagram prayer of Gratitude

So, over to you now, how do you practice devotion? What rituals do you already have in place to set you up for the day, or settle you down at night?

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