Yoga Diary

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.

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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
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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
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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
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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?

Share your practice 6th of November, 2015
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If you are new to this studio, if you brought your friend, your mum, your lover or your kid along to Satsang week at Camelot there’s every chance you’ve mentally short cut the formula as Satsang = Me + 1.  It is that.  And it’s so much more.  The formula is actually Satsang = All + Truth

Traditionally Satsang is a gathering of devotees in the company of a guru or teacher to receive, share and experience the highest truth.  Satsang is not worship per se rather “giving” without attachment to “getting”.  It is giving for the joy of creating, extending and nurturing a community of likeminded/hearted people.  

Even if we take the term Satsang literally there will be multiple ways of interpreting it.  This is often the case with ancient and traditional rituals or teachings.  We must be able to evolve and interpret the original without losing its authenticity, yet at the same time make it accessible to our current experiences and needs.  

Let’s face it, if you came along this week as the plus one, and had experienced a gathering of chanting enthusiasts, listening to a loin clothed guru with a plaited beard wax on about spiritual enlightenment, well there’s every chance you’d consider it odd. In fact you might even reconsider your relationship to the person who brought you along in the first place.  Perhaps “cult” would run through your mind.  This form of Satsang is practiced in many cultures and communities; we could say all religions practice a form of Satsang: Sunday Mass (anyone?), if we see it simply as a gathering of people to receive the highest truth.  

So how does this Satsang relate to you and your experience coming to yoga as the + 1 or the inviter?  Consider this quote from the book Value Based Wellness by S. Srinivasan (2005)

“…. strong individuals associate only with those who have acquired and cultivated positive mindsets and energy fields around them.  This is the essence of the Indian concept "satsang"…… an act of synergizing with others in order to fortify and multiply 'sattvic' and positive traits"

Compare to this excerpt/translation from a poem by Shri Adi Shankaracharya an 8 Century philosopher.

"Good and virtuous company gives rise to non-attachment.  From non-attachment comes freedom from delusion.  With freedom from delusion, one feels the changeless reality.  Experiencing that changeless reality, one feels, 'I am not the body and mind, although I have a body and mind'. "

We can see how despite being written in settings more than a thousand years apart, these quotes have threads of similarity in the truths they offer.  

Thus Satsang week at Camelot is an opportunity to grow our community, to share in the joy and truth we find in yoga.  We come together (gather) in our studio to take part in a practice that helps us access our inner truth.  During our practice we move inward but our energy is shared and exchanged with our community.  The teacher (guru) leads us through the practice with their knowledge and wisdom.  We are therefore gathering in a sacred space to share and extend our community, to access and assimilate the highest truth through the practice of yoga.

And you thought it was just + 1 week.  

Namaste Rhy xx 

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Note: the following texts were helpful in writing this post, for further reading check out these links:

http://jivamuktiyoga.com/teachings/focus-of-the-month/p/satsang

Value Based Wellness - For The Service Sector Executive By S Srinivasan (p.63)

Endless Satsang


 

Ganesha: such a popular deity.  We see his image everywhere in trinkets and on t-shirts, replicated on impressive (but not always) tattoos and posters.  Many of us are probably aware that this cute elephant with one tusk and a big belly is the lord destroyer or remover of obstacles. And likely many of us are happy to leave it at that. Ganesha’s image lends itself well to vibrant colours making it a go to choice for lovers of kitschy pop art and easy to grasp spiritualism.  Naturally the pre Vedic scriptures where Ganesha first shows up tell a story detailing trials and tribulations layered with symbolism and moral dilemma.  Stories that end up summarised in a tiny nutshell: you want to get past something that’s standing in your way? Ganesha.  

But have you ever wondered what meaning is behind this delightful looking character?  The next time you’re tempted to buy into him as just another lucky charm consider this; in parts of the world where Hinduism is the practiced religion, no building is built, no business is conducted and no praying at the temple is begun without an invocation or offering to Ganesha first.

Ganesha being part elephant has large ears. Ears for listening carefully to all the requests that come his way. 

He only has one tusk the other one was broken off as an act of sacrifice symbolic of not holding onto what’s not needed.

The big belly?  Aside from making him look so cute and cuddly it actually represents the digesting or processing of life’s experiences.  We must take the good with the bad.

He has four arms each holding a different tool. 

In his upper right hand he carries an axe or a sword… To cut away the obstacles which lie on our path.

His upper left hand usually holds a rope or a noose of some sort.  He uses this to capture those who are struggling or falling off their path and to pull them in the right direction.  

In his lower left hand he holds a sweet literally representing the sweetness of a spiritual life and the rewards available to us when we continue along our spiritual journey.

His lower right hand is almost always extended the mudra (gesture) of blessing.  An act of benevolence. 

Just at his feet is a little mouse.  It’s said that this mouse is Ganesha’s chariot but obviously there’s some metaphor at play there because impossible right?  The little mouse represents desire.  When desire is out of control it becomes a ‘pest’.  To keep the ‘pest’ under control it needs to be ‘reined’.  In other words we must keep our worldly desires under control. Doing so will mean less obstacles in our lives.

I love how this can relate to our practice of yoga and also how we can carry all the rich symbolism off the mat and into everyday life.  Here are just three ways:

1.    Listen more.  By listening to all the instructions given during class instead of letting your mind wander off on its own story you might find something clicks that never clicked before.  One minute adjustment cue could be the difference between getting over an obstacle holding you back in a particular pose and just hitting the same wall again.  Off the mat try listening more to the people in your life.  What are they telling you? Can you really hear them without adding your own bit in?

2.    Use the tools Ganesha has to overcome fear and stagnation in your practice.  Fear is not unique, but you are.  Therefore you only have yourself to get over.  Cut through that ego, lasso the struggling part of yourself and haul it back to the path.  Be kind to yourself, add sweetness to your practice enjoy its rewards.  Accept all the blessings that come to you through hardship and ease.  Off the mat it’s pretty much the same; your fears and worries are not unique to you.  The whole world has similar fears and worries.  Only you can get past the shit that holds you back.  There’s no need to punish yourself for perceived failure, remember all things are ultimately blessings.  

3.    The Desire Mouse. Yes, we all have desires.  We want longer legs, stronger abs, more money, less stress and to experience never ending happiness.  But like all emotions happiness is transient.  And the desire to constantly seek it is destructive.  Don’t let your Desire Mouse give you the run around.  Harness it.  Guide it.  Enjoy the happiness when it comes up embrace the frustration, sadness and apathy as they come up.  The class will end soon enough and you can take what you’ve learned on the mat and practice it off as well!

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I would love to hear your thoughts on this post.  Are there any obstacles you need to boot out the way? Open up in the comments below!

Namaste. Rhy xx
 

You, a warrior 19th of September, 2015
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Whether you’re a seasoned yogi or just starting out on your yoga journey there’s no doubt you’ve cut the shape of a “Warrior” every time you’ve stepped onto your mat.  The warrior poses a.k.a. Virabhadrasana I, II and III are the cornerstone asanas in many a practice across all styles of yoga.  But what do they mean?  Why do we have fighting associated postures in our peaceful practice?  Who is Virabhadra and why does he show up all the time?

If you are into fantastical tales of magic and mayhem you must read the story of Shiva turning one of his dreadlocks into a fierce warrior (Virabhadra) with flaming eyes and wrath like no tomorrow.  There’s romance, plot twists, murders and revenge.  There’s sorrow, forgiveness and something for everyone whether you like “Days of our Lives” or “Game of Thrones” Hindu Mythology caters for all.  Read the story here….

As with all mythology, questions and answers of morality are at the heart.  We know that yoga is a multilayered practice of which the physical is just one small aspect.  Yet, with the physical we can express many of the deeper layers and tap into the psyche of yoga and the myths that build the practice.  We can become Warriors both on and off the mat when we find our personal representation of Virabhadra who is really the slayer of ego, and all the “stuff” we seek to cut free from.

The biggest physical challenge with the warrior poses is often alignment.  You’ll hear so many cues, directions and miniscule adjustments to make in each pose.  This can make the practice frustrating, destabilising and sometimes annoying.  But here lies the magic.  When you notice what comes up for you in each challenge, particularly in these fierce and strong standing postures you are getting information about what stands in your way.  Your duty then is to be courageous.  Like a Warrior standing ready to strike his opponent.  There may be fear but there is focus.  The ego must drop away.  The stories we tell ourselves about what we can and can’t do must disappear and we must be grounded in our truth.

Whether you read the full story or not the following 3 points will give you insight into these postures so that you may experience them in a new way, separate from any emotional issue that may arise during the practice.  Virabhadrasana I – Here (complete with vintage image of the late and great Iyengar) the Warrior rises up through the ground.  Building from the base, feet, legs, hips, torso: ACTIVE. Chest pushing forward, shoulders back, arms raised. There is nothing loose, or slack. This form spells “R-E-A-D-Y”.  You are ready and you are strong enough.

Virabhadrasana II – The Warrior, opens out, drawing a sword.  The base is as grounded and strong as before, no wavering, no retreating.  The gaze over the front hand marks its target. And in the back hand is the metaphorical weapon. (Be aware that it is not dropping down towards the ground but holding horizontal, in place.)  Look your “opponent”: your ego, your drama, your story, your fear, dead on.  Here our inner warrior stands for tensity of “F-O-C-U-S” .

Virabhadrasana III – As the Warrior steps up to balance on the front leg he slices the “sword” forward through the air to strike his target.  Cutting through our darkness, the stuff we do and say that keeps us playing small requires balance, skill and strength of character.  We cannot cut through the crap if we don’t acknowledge it exists.  So the most challenging of the 3 postures is also the most rewarding.  Despite the terminology, it doesn’t have to represent violence or anger, striking out or cutting through are courageous acts. As we balance out there on one leg, unwavering we can experience gratitude that our readiness, our aim and our focus have enabled us to “S-T-R-I-K-E” down what holds us back.

Can you see now how the terminology can affect our interpretation and experience?  Warrior I, II and III with all their variations produce a base for meaningful sequences.  All of yoga is entwined with all of life and this is how the light you find in your practice will follow you throughout your journey.

Namaste. Rhy xx

 

Further reading:

http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-4046/Warrior-Pose-Understanding-the-Spiritual-Warrior.html

http://www.yogajournal.com/article/practice-section/ways-of-the-warrior/

http://www.ekhartyoga.com/blog/why-we-practice-the-warrior-poses

The renewal of spring 11th of September, 2015
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The end of winter brings about a renewal. We turn off the heat, throw open the windows and breathe in those first scents of spring. Early mornings become bearable as the darkness withdraws and the chatter of birds breaks the silence.

Soon our layered clothes will make room for bright tights, shorts, light tops and eventually bathers! You may find an urge to clean, discard and organize all the clutter that winter seems to collect, allowing for the freshness and growth that spring promises. As a good spring clean creates a harmonious home why not amplify these actions and pursue the purification process with your body and mind?

Enjoy your 'inner spring clean' by following my top 4 replenishing yoga go-to’s:

1. Salute the sun
In many cultures light has long been a symbol of consciousness and self-illumination. ‘The world begins with the coming of light,’ wrote Jungian analyst Erich Neumann

One of the means of honouring the sun is through the dynamic asana sequence Surya Namaskar (sun salutation). Each sun salutation begins and ends with the joined-hands mudra (gesture) touched to the heart. Aside from this there are variations aplenty that have evolved over the years. Because of the sequences malleability, it’s easy enough to cook up a few of your own. 

Go with what feels good for you on the day, start slowly with 3-5 rounds and then quicken the pace to 15 if you can.

2. Twist it up
Twisting poses we practice in yoga massage the abdominal organs, helping to facilitate the elimination process of toxins and waste, perfect for that spring revival that we are looking for! Try seated and standing variations and be sure to breathe. Notice the space you feel as you exit the pose. The word 'twist' also gives permission to zig zag along your path. Take a moment to experience any newness and relish it!

Quick tips:
-  Try a new class or teacher
-  Attempt an exotic pose
-  Place your mat in uncharted territory when you next enter the studio

3. Do a headstand #everydamnday 
Headstand (Sirsasana) is often referred to as the king of all yoga poses. And with soo many benefits it is obvious why! As part of our resurrection from the lows of winter a headstand each day can allow the adrenal glands to flush thus creating more positive thought. Another key benefit is a decrease in feelings of depression and being upside down will almost always put a smile on your face!

4. Get outside
Take your practice outdoors and take some time to appreciate the beauty of the natural world. As the winter chill recoils be sure to step out into nature. Notice the squishy grass between your toes. Breathe in the aroma of the freshly blossoming spring flowers. Touch the crisp but ‘promising of warmth’ air. Sync in with the cyclic nature of the big wide world. Let the season of rebirth spur on your inner awakening.

 

It's a time to renew your energy, refresh your desires and reset your intentions to live out your dreams. Get to it!


Namaste. Rhy xx

 

Where to next:
-  Tomorrow (Sept 12) will feature a 1 hour PLAY session after class that will have you getting upside down and taking your practice outside.
-  My regular weekly classes at the Mosman Park studio always include sun salutations. Refer to my class schedule.

And let go of what you don't.

We don’t have to be prime candidates for the casting of Season 6 “Hoarders” to have an issue with keeping shit we don’t need.  Holding on to and accumulating unnecessary stuff is really the symptomatic manifestation of hoarding.  In fact health professionals, treating those who hoard, begin by addressing the defective thoughts and emotions that trigger the compulsions to hold onto “stuff” before they tackle the obvious symptom: the piles and piles of god knows what.

With these images of chaos and disorder sifting through our minds let’s take a moment to consider Aparigraha – the fifth yama – non-grasping/ non-hoarding/ non-accumulation.   Not sure about the yamas?  Haven’t got a clue what they are?  No problem.  A couple of posts back we touched on this subject and included some super handy links for extra reading.  Head there now before you read on.

It might seem dramatic to draw similarities between having a severe anxiety disorder that results in “hoarding” with the concept of Aparigraha or “non-grasping” but if you remove all the illusions that separate “you” from “that” and simply ask: Do I take, keep or want more than my own reasonable share [of anything]?   I’m pretty sure we’ll all say YES.  Bear in mind your answer is not meant to incite any judgement only highlight a cultural norm, where we in the Western World, have way more than what we need. 

This is not to say we must chuck on turmeric dyed cloaks, shave our heads and receive alms.  It’s completely ok to enjoy the comfort and abundance afforded to us here and now.  It’s more a question of how attached we are to things.  All the things.  Just understand we are blessed with so much more than material security here.  

Yet we constantly grasp and snatch at ideas of wanting and needing more.  If we practice Aparigraha – we’ll notice it’s the ego that wants more.  The ego operates from fear.  From the place where there is not enough, from neediness and comparison.  Our ego will tell us to keep the thing we no longer need because it may be useful “one day”.  But our heart knows what is enough and is burdened by the unnecessary weight of hanging on.  Those who hoard “things” (whatever they may be: emotional/physical/mental) are driven by attachment.  And the insecurity that creates attachment to stuff is the same insecurity that creates attachment to ideas, labels, relationships even grudges.  

Can we find a way to bring Aparigraha to the mat and trust all that happens on the mat will simultaneously flow into our lives at large?  

Of course!  Here are 3 ideas for you to entertain when the moment seems right:

1. Take only what you need.  Not less, not more.   Consider the most challenging part of class – the peak pose.  Where can your body reasonably go?  What option will you take?  Can you let go of the expectations?  Have integrity and detach from the thoughts that tell you where you “should” be.

2. Receive what you need.  Do you have a lot of questions about yoga?  Your body?  Your limitations within the practice?  These are important issues to address.  Instead of trying to squeeze a few distracted minutes in after class why not book a one on one session and allow yourself to receive the right amount of attention.

3. Detach from labels and associations.  You may be physically a certain way: thin, tall, short, strong, flexible, bald, vegetarian, mother, brother, video game addict - whatever (you get the drill).  When you come to the mat can you drop the labels and separate from the stories you tell and were told about who you are.  Just let go.  And be.  Here lies delicious freedom.

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Are you interested in reading about simplifying life?  Becoming Minimalist recommends 8 different blogs inspired by simple living.  There’s a lot of focus on having only what you need in these…

Over to you now: what have you let go of lately?  How was your experience of letting go?  I really look forward to you sharing in the comments below.

Namaste. Rhy xx

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How often have you thought about how interconnected we all are with everything that exists?  Don’t resist the idea, just imagine that you are one with all that is: the good, the bad, the ugly, the beautiful, the strong, the weak, the light and the dark.  You are all that.  We all are.  There is no separation.  Yet in our day-to-day lives we charge around with all sorts of stories attached to the idea of separation.  The exclusion of “bad” and inclusion of “good” is how the ego splits our experience of life into little compartments.  

As yogis we are seekers of truth and the truth is there are ALWAYS two sides to the same coin.  That means without darkness we have no concept of light.  Without frustration, anger and apathy we have no understanding of peace, equanimity and action.  Opposing forces are in everything and understanding this is only part of the whole.  We have to feel into opposition, know and befriend it so that we can get closer to the truth.  

In Hindu mythology, Shakti (The goddess - symbolises the feminine principle, the activating power and energy) and Shiva (The god - symbolises consciousness, the masculine principle), with their sacred union can be used as inspiration both on and off the mat.  By embracing these opposing energies we allow so much of the ego storytelling crap to dissipate so we can get on with the business of being complete.

Consider this quote:

“Only when Shiva and Shakti combine can action, movement and creation arise. Until energy is impregnated with consciousness it is ignorant, disordered, aimless and “blind”. Energy alone can produce nothing; consciousness bestows upon it content, form and direction. Conversely,  consciousness without energy is dormant power, sleeping energy, and on its own is unable to be the cause of anything.”   Read the full article.

But, how does this relate to our asana practice?  More importantly can you find personal connection to these words and relate it back to all the parts of you?  Have you ever come to class feeling like you don’t really want to be there, you know it’s good for you but you can’t be bothered? Maybe that’s the essence of Shakti alone – blind action with no conscious awareness. What about being consciously engaged in the idea of going to class, so much so that thinking about it is all you do?  There’s the element of Shiva at play in that.  Without unifying the two we act out of separation.  Opposing forces create the whole.  The whole is necessary for truth to emerge.

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Ways you can embrace opposing forces in your practice:

Be willing to feel both strength and softness required in each posture.  There should always be the power and integrity of alignment (action/Shakti) combined with the peace of relaxation  (consciousness/Shiva) in even the toughest poses.  Ask yourself: Do I need to clench my jaw to hold my arms straight right now?  Do I need to hold my breath to balance on one leg?  Inevitably the answer is no.

Competition is the same as judgement and judgement holds us separate.  Separation keeps us from the truth.  Thus, maintain an inward focus during your practice.  Be aware of your own body and not the body next to you.  As with all things there will be others both “more” capable and “less” capable than you.  It does not matter.  It matters that you are practicing together.  One coin.  Remember.  Two sides.

Allow your shadow to have a voice.  It’s ok to feel “not that into it” sometimes.  Bring all parts of you onto the mat and let the practice do it’s job.  Staying connected to what is, rather than separate from what is not reveals the truth.

I invite you to share your thoughts and experiences or shoot me questions if you’re not sure about something.  Feel free to comment below and let’s start a meaningful discussion!

Namaste. Rhy xx

Image via rebloggy.com

Most of us are familiar with yoga as a form of physical practice, sometimes a painful one but a good workout nevertheless.  In fact the physical practice of yoga (the asana) that we do in class and in our home is only one small limb of yoga.  There are eight limbs as prescribed by Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras, Asana is the third rung on this ladder.  Want to read more about the Eight Limbs? Yoga Journal has a couple of great articles check them out here

The first limb comprises of 5 Yamas relating to ethical conduct.  The second limb has 5 Niyamas relating to self-discipline and spiritual observance and ideally we’d have a good grasp on the first two limbs prior to engaging in the third, Asana.  These limbs do their job by laying strong foundations to lead us toward and through the other five limbs where ultimately we land our minds and bodies at the door to enlightenment.  There’s a lot to take in so for today the lens will focus in on the 3rd Yama, Asteya, the principle of non-stealing.

“To one established in non-stealing, all wealth comes.” – The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, Sutra II.37

It’s obvious right?  Stealing: bad.  Not stealing: good.  We can be the Kings of Oversimplification if it means we don’t have to look at how we might possibly be engaging in the less overt acts of stealing but the truth is energetic stealing happens all the time.  Theft, like a stealth mental Ninja, seeks out opportunities to snatch at ideas, thoughts, judgements and time before we even know what’s  happening.  When we want or desire something that is not ours we are engaging in a form of stealing.  How so?  Surely we should be able to want without guilt.  Have goals and aspirations to achieve and fly high in business, relationships, finance, health and wellbeing?  Of course all these things are valid desires but if we focus on the things we don’t yet have, we are stealing value from the things we already do have.

As Rhyanna VL Yoga rolls out its first mentorship programmes the principle of Asteya is being held at the forefront of ethical conduct.  Engaging as both recipient and giver of mentorship really brings home the essence of non-stealing. By giving guidance to new teachers the programme aims to give tools to the recipients so that they can find their own voice/style/method/structure of teaching.  

Rather than just the rote receiving information, regurgitating it and reproducing a replica of what’s already being done.  By the same token, the mentor must stay open to learning too, as everyone has some unique gift to bring to the experience.  If a mentor takes on a role of complete authority by shutting off external suggestions and information it defeats the purpose of an equally shared learning environment.

Here are some other ways that we can engage Asteya during our practice and stop that Ninja in their tracks: 

  1. Be cautious of comparison, concerning yourself with others abilities or lack thereof on the mat is stealing from your own practice.  Do what YOU can to YOUR best ability.
  2. Stay as present as you can while in your practice by following instructions and guidance given, you can get back to your stories and dramas after class. Wandering off mentally takes away or literally steals from the present moment. 
  3. Try to give yourself enough time to get to class.  Arriving on time for your own time is a way to honour the value of that time.  To always be rushing or running late actually steals from it.

 

Helpful links:

http://www.yogajournal.com/article/beginners/the-eight-limbs/

http://www.healthy.net/Health/Article/The_Ten_Living_Principles_Yamas_and_Niyamas/2410

http://yogisurprise.com/the-five-yamas-of-yoga

Practice 21st of October, 2014
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I have been rather quiet with my blog posts of late but here is a little snippet of some private practice that is always in go. Consistency of practice seems like everything is the same until it isn't. Then you see how far you have come!

This is as much for me as a record of my yoga progress. I hope you enjoy!

Monday 8th Sep, 6pm. Camelot Theatre.
All levels vinyasa class followed by a selection of evening teas to celebrate my birthday and mingle with your fellow yogis!

For this special class I hope you will join me so I may say thanks for being on this journey with me. A playful, fun and creative class with all my favourite things... sweet backbends, challenging arm balances, partner work and lots of sweat! Come along with an open mind, a friend perhaps and whatever you can donate.

Class by donation.
This is a fundraising event to grow funds for the RVL yogis team entered in the 2014 Yoga Marathon. If you can't join me for this special birthday practice please show your support here: Rhyanna VL Yogis Fundraising pageAll proceeds benefit Circus WA and DADAA (Disability in the Arts, Disadvantage in the Arts WA)

Once again, thanks for allowing me to teach and share what I love. 
See you on the mat soon!

Making videos 17th of July, 2014
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Let me just say now, instructing for an online video is hard work!

While there is less work to be done via verbal corrections and hands on adjustments there is a whole lot more missing when producing a video than the obvious lack of yogis in a room. Namely:

  • bad habits to cue corrections off,
  • the energy of the room to rally from,
  • my seasoned front row students to keep my sequences symmetrical,
  • graceful stacks to watch as new poses are attempted,
  • those deep exhales and rhythmic breaths that fuel our practice,
  • being able to demonstrate on another body to clearly articulate what I am meaning, and
  • a room full of willing chanters as we bring a class to a close.

Making my first full length class via film was somewhat challenging I must say. I love the idea that many people the world over can practice with me and learn. This is the type of ‘think big’ one of my teachers spoke about when I first trained with him in Singapore. He said to me there will come a point where you will realise that teaching classes day-in-day-out will become the same as any other job and that monotonous bell will start ringing in my ear. "This is when you have to do new things, extend your reach, learn more, teach differently, and challenge yourself" he said. I guess this filming is one of those ‘new things’ he was speaking of?

As with everything that seems a little overwhelming at first, once we come out the other side the mountain no longer appears as big, and we find a little piece of gratitude for the day to day ‘grind’.

To all the yogis that show up every week, thank you. I love hearing you breathe, watching you fall, seeing you fly and feeling you experience the pain and the pleasure of it all. It really is a humbling existence.

I must admit, this time of year is my least favourite... when it starts to get cold. The morning crispness, while initially a refreshing change, digs its heals in and refuses to leave.

It was just this week that I noticed how dark it now was when I saluted the (still sleeping) sun during my morning practice, how cold my feet were during savasana, and how much extra motivation I appeared to need to do anything at all.

Ok, so I live in Perth. Winter really doesn't get that cold. There is no chance of snow and no skating on the river, open fires are rare and the need for cloak rooms is minimal. However, life is about the little things and my bubble of summertime bliss is burst! No longer can I jump out of bed and practice in my lululemon boogie shorts and it seems not the time to jump on the scooter with my man. The beach lacks allure with it's choppy waters and slightly grey sand, my bathers lay beyond layers of clothing, and my freezing toes ask of me to wear shoes!

Over my time living back in the real world where this thing called 'winter' exists, I have come up with a few key components to get me through. Here we go -

 

1. Drink tea, lots of it.
Buy an array of flavours, a big mug to wrap your hands around and refill all day long. My faves: Pukka teas. Three Ginger is a winner! And don't forget the faithful Prana Chai available from my store. Here is a guide to making chai at home (albeit with a rather serious host).

 

2. A bit of yogic breathing!
Kapalbhati can generate heat within the body. Aside from the instant core warmth it helps rid the body of harmful toxins in mind and body and prevent illnesses, improves immunity and  purges negative thoughts, a winner for winter!
Check out this quick vid for a kapalbhati walkthru.

* Aside from seated I like to practice Kapalbhati in both Downward Dog and Plank poses to generate extra warmth.

 

3. Savasana socks.
lululemon think of everything, check them out. I personally love these and they may make a class appearance soon. Bringing back the 80's!

 

4. Moroccan food, exotic grains and lots of spices.
In summer I skip out of cooking a lot. With smoothies and salads making up 90% of my diet. Much to the pleasure of my man in the cooler months I crave a little more 'body' in my daily menu. My favourite winter warmers hail from Morocco.
This one I love  Eats well with others. Check out her other recipes, lots of great ideas to be had!

The final pieces that keep me smiling in this time of change... My practice (once I get out of bed and take my socks off), snuggling in bed, and the certainty of the summer warmth and it's return.

'What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.'

Healthy start 15th of April, 2014
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Most mornings I grab a green smoothie after my practice and then set about my day. Sunday however is a day to change the pace...a little sleep in, a leisurely walk with my man and then a nutritious muesli feast by the pool. 

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This weeks alluring muesli mix:

  • 1 cup Organic rolled grains (a bend of organic rolled oats, triticale, spelt, quinoa and barley)
  • 3 tablespoons raw nut mix, chopped fine (almonds, brazil nuts, walnuts)
  • 2 teaspoons pepitas/ sunflower seeds
  • 1 tablespoon organic sultanas & gogi berries 
  • 1 teaspoon chia seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon 
  • 1/2 cup Fresh blueberries/ & strawberries
  • 1/2 banana 

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Ways to serve to please everyone:

  • Grain mix can be soaked overnight in coconut water or fresh orange juice then trimmings added.
  • Completed muesli can be served dry with yogurt ( coconut yogurt or plain organic yogurt)
  • You may choose to add soy, almond, or rice milk to serve.
  • The pool is optional ;)

Try it out and enjoy!
Let me know any favourite breakfast dishes you have, I am keen to try something new!

There are a few words in Sanskrit that I just love. Satsang is one of them. A word that means "gathering together for the truth" or more simply, "being with the truth."

Truth is what is real and what exists. So all there is essentially, is 'Truth'. Whenever something increases your experience of the Truth, it opens your heart and quiets your mind. Sharing yoga together then is Satsung.

To explore this idea further and to allow the pursuit of truth to continue, strengthen and expand, Satsung +1 week was born. What resulted was 1 week, 5 classes, 30+ newbies, my mother and a lot of love.

Each class during the week was open for students to bring along a +1 complimentary. Be it a friend, a partner, a parent, a sibling, a colleague, a house mate or in one case a loose acquaintance. Watching larger than average numbers of newbies in each class was incredible. Seeing uncertainty grow into laughter, later transforming into commitment, and finally pulling up in savasana as love.

The week was about sharing yoga with others and therefore allowing our practice to move beyond the mat and into the world where we encounter our +1's on a day-to-day basis. Being able to create  Satsung everywhere we are, always. 

The specific week was chosen as I had a very special +1 in town...my mother. Since I have been a practising yogi I have not lived in my hometown of Newcastle. So while my life here in Perth finds me surrounded by people who know me as a yogi, my family on the East Coast truthfully have not even grazed the surface of what this means to me! 

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My life 7 years ago was very different to the one I lead now. My mum played a huge roll in supporting me through some tough times to make the changes that started me on this path. While she was there at the very beginning of my practice and my teaching, my life is something that since then she has watched from afar. A few classes attended together, viewings of my morning practices on the back deck while on Christmas break, adjusting to my vegan ways at family dinners, endless pictures, and even some basic pointers on the kitchen floor; these are the snippets of me that I had shared. What was to come was altogether new.

The final class of Satsung week was Saturday morning 7.30am. Mum and Dad were over visiting for the weekend, and Mum was about to join my class for the first time.

I was excited and nervous at the same time. I wanted so much to make her proud, to show her how far that I have come and most importantly to share Satsung with her. The room filled with 30+ yogis and we all began to breath, and move, and play.

The time passed quickly and then as the silence fell and a sea of bodies lay sprawled in front of me, I drew my hands together in Anjali Mudra where I said my final words. A tear dribbled down my cheek, it caught me by surprise. Mum cried too. There were no words to be said. She knew I was in a good place, she was proud of me and I also was proud of her.

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*As a result of the first Satsung +1 week followed by the Basic Blitz workshop being an overwhelming success, I have decided to make these a regular event on the calendar. The next upcoming dates will be as follows:

Satsung +1 week - Monday June 2nd - Saturday June 7th 
Basic Blitz workshop - Saturday June 14th, 9.30am - 11.00am

After my morning practice I go searching for a quick bang of nutrients. 

Each week my ingredients vary as I try to find a bit of variety and also try to stay local and seasonal as much as possible.

 

This week's morning smoothie

  • 1/2 mango
  • Handful blueberries
  • 3 florets broccoli
  • 2 cups kale
  • 1 cup Raw C coconut water
  • 1/2 lime juiced
  • 1 table spoon grated ginger
  • Maca*
  • Chia **

*Use Maca for energy and stamina (and maybe a little something extra in the bedroom). **Get your omega-3s using chia

 

Some mornings when I am relying on my smoothie to fuel me through a few classes, I add a vegan protein powder into the mix. Juice Plus complete;

https://www.juiceplus.com.au/nsa/content/OtherProducts.soa?site=rv10544

How many people have you had ask “What do you do?”. This question riles me in so many ways. The reply we give almost always evokes some kind of judgement, be it good or bad, whilst never really providing the questioner any insight into who you truly are. So why do we ask the question? Habit, our need for labels or perhaps an intention of finding similar ground.

Let me change the question. Who are you?
I am a yogi, lover, sister, daughter, friend, teacher, guide and a great listener.
I love fresh produce, the ocean, flowers, music, tea, warm weather, routine, candles and high heels.

When you practice yoga on the mat you can allow it to be something you do. You can physically tick  the box and wipe your hands of the task before you even roll up your mat. OR, you can use the mat as a starting point to answer the question, who are you?

Over the years of practising yoga I find myself in a place where my mat is the one thing I attach to. Once I spread my fingers wide and reach back through my heals in my first downward dog, I am not only doing yoga, I am being yoga. I am soft and strong. I commit and surrender. I am aware.

With this as my starting point each day the qualities spill out into the rest of my world. I easily draw comparisons between my asana practice and the way I teach, the way I love, communicate and function. Eventually the comparisons are not needed and instead it just is. I just am. My yoga is me. That is what I do and who I am.

There is no right and wrong, no good and bad, no should and should not. No labels to evoke ego.
All yoga is yours. You are a yogi. This body that you have is a laboratory for life, a field of experimentation and perpetual research. Learn. Play. Grow

This post comes from my ongoing commitment to share all facets of yoga and my understandings with students. With all the changes over the past few years I feel like the flow has drawn me to a place to now share more. 

My intention, to create a space of satsang. Satsung is a Sanskrit word that means 'gathering together for the truth' or more simply, 'being with the truth'. Over the coming months there will be opportunities to widen our community of yogis, bringing travelling senior teachers into the mix, encouraging friends and family to join us, full weekends of all things wellness to create awareness in many sectors of our lives, the introduction of yoga for the kids and month long commitments to kick start change with juice cleansing, mediation and yoga components.

Let the Satsung begin!

Rxx

3. ASTEYA = MIDDLE FINGER
Non stealing

This one has very obvious, self explanatory morals but there are many subtle ways to appropriate what does not belong to us also. Speaking on another’s behalf steals their opportunity to express themselves. Being knowingly late presumes that our time is more valuable than others and therefore steals their time. As a teacher, teaching only what we know and that which we have personally experienced and understood, is practising Asteya. If a teacher teaches only what they have read, heard or seen with no true understanding then they are stealing this information and misguiding students to believe it is their own.

Desire or want is the root cause for all stealing. Freeing ourselves from the desire to have something that we have not earned is Asteya. Practicing on our mats with this in mind guides us to let go of any ideas of inadequacy and judgement, as holding on to these robs us of our opportunity to shine. Gandhi emphasized that ‘wealth without work’ is wrong. To highlight this idea with students, I ask them to practice without desire or nto not rush, they must,’be disciplined and do the work’ on the mat before expecting to be rewarded by the juicy fruits of the practice.

 

4. BRAMACHARYA = RING FINGER
The control of the senses, the right use of energy

The essence of bramacharya is honouring yourself and others in intimate relationships. In yoga the process is one of channelling and managing energy. In day to day life often this prana (life force energy) cultivated goes to waste once we step away from our mats. The thought of sex and the force of the sex drive takes with it a lot of this energy, to practice bramacharys is to harness this energy and power of our senses and direct it instead to greater personal understanding.

At first this yama confused me, labeled as celibacy in many texts, I could not see how this could become a relevant part of my world on or off the mat. When I did my initial training in Singapore my teacher said to me, "Rhyanna, it’s about turning your sexual energy into a creative force", at the time I was still unsure really how this would be a ‘real life’ part of my yoga.

Years on and I have been able to explore this energy use and have learnt how it becomes part of my relationships with others.
I have begun to approach my own sexuality and its intersection with others with a spirit of compassion, non- violence and honesty. Bringing bramacharya into a loving relationship has allowed me to experience a heightened connection with another person. The lesson to be learnt here is to experience the exchange of two sexual energies as a sacred experience. Be completely engaged, enjoy, share and most importantly respect your partner. If we completely engage and find equality in our intimate relations the prana is shared equally and a glimpse of infinite bliss can be found.

 

5. APARIGRAHA = PINKY
Non covetousness, non hoarding & non attachment

Aparigraha asks us to let go of greed. It’s about living with generosity of spirit and giving without expecting in return. In the yoga studio I discovered that the more patience I had with myself and my students, the more I gave openly with no attachment to results and student retention, and the more I encouraged a focus on the integrity of the breathe and ease rather than the final pose, the more trust I had in the world. My whole way of thinking, practicing, teaching and living changed. Using what I have to its maximum potential without any desire for more. Ultimately both on and off the mat aparigraha has shown me to loose fear. I live my life letting go of attachments to people, ideas, houses, clothes, shoes, jobs and students. In the end, I trust in myself and the world, smiling at a sense of inner knowing, even when the ‘shit hits the fan’.

For a long time yoga to me was just an exercise and then a simple form of meditation, however once I began to practice with a little more awareness I realised the potential this ‘creature’ had to change my life. Each student is my teacher bringing new light to my practice and my teaching. To share my understanding and watch people develop, understand and grow is where the joy lies. 

Take this chance to let yoga into your life, and perhaps you too can utilise the real life value of its lessons. 

Rhy xx

Yoga is, and can be so many things.

“This experience we call ‘yoga’ is a way to calm the fluctuations of the mind”  writes Pantanjali – ‘Ch’itta Vritti Nirodaha.

We are therefore doing yoga to achieve a stillness and clarity of mind. In essence the question is no longer what is yoga but what does yoga do and how can it become such an infectious life practice.

Yoga gives us a way to cultivate our own path to ‘Samadhi’, a blissful state of oneness, by releasing the ego and liberating our own inner truth. In Pantanjali’s sutras; a book on yoga philosophy composed around 200 years ago; an 8 limbed path is put forward using sequential stages in an individual’s life journey to finally experience the full fruits of yoga,

In my life each and every one of these limbs; similar to the parts of my body; have played a part in my yoga practice, teaching and personal growth.

If yoga had no real life value I guess I wouldn’t be practicing it, living it, or sharing it. It’s a perpetual journey in which the 8 limbs have already begun to shape my mind, body and soul. Who knows, with dash of practice and a pinch of awareness yoga just might get under your skin one day too.

 

 

Limb 1 = Yamas; codes of restraint, abstinences, self regulations

1 HAND - 5 FINGERS

This first limb, or hand, consists of a set of ethics which assures that we interact in a harmonious way with our surrounding community. These, I have found are wise characteristics to hold. I don’t see them as dos and don’ts or shoulds and should nots with clear boundaries and obvious meanings. The yamas are suggestions on universal morality which can help us deal with both the people around us and ourselves.

Exploring the 5 yamas and reflecting on both their obvious and subtle appearances in my life has bought me back to a place of contentment, understanding and knowing.

5 yamas = 5 restraints = 5 fingers

 

1. AHIMSA = THUMB

Non violence, non hurting

This yama begins with respecting one's own body and extending that respect to all other beings.

This non-injury is not simply a way not to hurt a living being physically, it’s more comprehensive then that, as are all the limbs once we take a closer look. It means an abstinence from causing any pain or harm whatsoever to any living creature, either by thought, word or deed. Ahimsa requires us to have a harmless mind, mouth and hand. Not as easy as one might initially think.

In my asana (posture practice) I learned to practice ahimsa by controlling and restraining my physical body first, respecting it and listening when it said, “enough”, “ouch”, or “ I am tired”. Preventing harm to our physical body is a huge lesson to learn in yoga - hence the common saying, "my body is my temple" was coined.

Slowly, as we learn to respect our body by physically controlling our actions it becomes easier to suppress negative words and feelings.

Practising ahimsa was my first step to recovery from an eating disorder over 5 years ago; firstly letting go of the harm of ‘not eating’ and learning to fuel my body well. Once through this physical phase the real work began. As in one's asana practice, we must follow our physical actions with the release of negative words to oneself and a refusal to engage with feelings that harm our soul.

After finding ahimsa within your self we are then invited to turn our attention to our actions, words and thoughts towards other people; firstly letting go of judgements, jealousy and hatred; secondly taking the negative energy and replacing it with love.

 

2. SATYA = INDEX FINGER

Truthfulness

To speak the truth, being honest with ourselves and with others.

Satya invites us to be open to truth in our asana (posture) practice on the mat, in our relationships and in our circumstances.

In my experience yoga gave me clarity of mind, body and soul and created a space in which I could feel the truth. My true feelings, emotions and energy then began to lead my life. Speaking this truth is daunting and most definitely changes relationships and situations. The only thing satya asks of us is to be mindful of what we say, how we say it and in what way it could affect others.

In my understanding of satya we can create honest communication and actions which then form the foundation of any healthy relationship, family or community.

Teaching has given me a window to watch satya come into students practice and begin changing their lives. I ask students to find truth in their practice by acknowledging their ‘tight’ or ‘weak’ areas and to then move with integrity in each pose at all times. Guiding students to look at their entire practice and feel their growth and strength once they begin pulling back and working with honesty has been my intention over the last few years. "A pose is too expensive if it is bought about by selling satya."

A young female student whom I have been working with for about eight months highlighted satya for me when she emailed me after class one Wednesday morning and said, “I had an epiphany. I am quitting my job and becoming a yoga teacher. This feels so good and I have to follow that”. My heart warmed and my smile shone. "She got it," I thought. My role to pass knowledge and experience had been fulfilled. She booked in to a course to complete her Level 1 teacher training with my teacher Master Paalu, that same year.

 

To be continued......

Published in Tasmanian Life magazine 

Yoga Vid's 11th of February, 2014
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So I'm going online with my yoga so you can get more of me at home or wherever it is that you find yourself with a laptop.

Subscribe to my YouTube channel and watch as I learn the fine art of digital yoga!

I plan on providing you with both short and longer sequenced routines that will cover much of what I teach in class sessions. If you have suggestions on what you want me to cover then please fire them my way... and thanks for watching!

Watch the latest vid now

Manduka in the house! 31st of January, 2014
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Just a quick note for those that have been holding out for a new mat...wait no more!

I have just taken stock of Manduka mats and have two kinds available, PRO and PROlite with two options for each. They are currently available for class pick-up only however I will start shipping in the coming weeks.

People often ask me what mat I use with the answer being the PROlite, simply because I carry my mat everyday. It has travelled the world with me! I am also road-testing out Manduka's EKO mat before adding these to my store. If you want to see for yourself then check them out at your next class.

Rxx

To cleanse. 30th of January, 2014
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Cleansing is something big in the yoga world. There are breathing techniques, daily rituals, body movements and an ongoing focus on cleaning, renouncing, and stripping back. While I incorporate many of these into my daily practice, I  took my ‘cleaning out’ a little further than my usual last week. 

I already replace one meal a day with a nutrient dense green smoothie but I don't dabble in the fasting or strict juice cleansing arenas often. With minor surgery scheduled to have 4 wisdom teeth pulled I was of the view that the cleanse was well timed and would assist a quick recovery. 

With back to back students and a mountain of admin to fit in before my time off, the fresh food shopping and juice prep approach didn’t look like the easy option so this time I went with a pre-order, deliver to your door cleanse. Perfect to fit in with my busy week before the non optional post op down time.

I put in my order, paid the $$$ and waited for the juices to arrive. This cleanse didn't seem too daunting with 18 labelled and chilled goodness-filled glass jars to knock back. The menu for each day included a green smoothie, 1 nut milk blend and 4 cold pressed juices. This assortment seemed to be ample to fuel me for the next 3 days. 

Day 1.
After my normal morning walk and practice I dived into the first juice, the sunrise elixir. The lemon tang hit me, and I felt a shift into 'I am truly awake' phase! Most of the day I felt fine and just went about things as normal sipping on my liquids inbetween sessions. A slight headache crept up on me around midday but had vanished by the time I headed off to my evening class. Teaching felt a little different, I felt less in my head and more with the students and ‘in’ the practice, a feeling that I would soon revisit as the beverage only diet continued.

Day 2.
Great sleep, energetic start to the day, then a lull of energy towards the afternoon. I noticed a tender spot under my left nostril…. a pimple coming on :-(. By night I am sleepy, but nothing else unusual.

Day 3.
Practice this morning was oh so sweet!! I felt my body light and my mind completely still as I flowed through the familiar sequence. Inversions felt fearless, free and effortless. The meditation to follow was the longest I have held in the last while, I had extra time so I decided to sit with my practice. Peace is the word I found….

As the day carried on I felt a little light headed and at times was caught off balance after joining in on a round of salutes. Later in the day I arrived at my evening class early, I felt a serene sensation (just so you know, ‘serene’ is the last association I would generally make of me before class). As the class progressed I felt I danced along with the students without thinking too much, things seemed to flow and I was in almost the same place that I sat during my own practice earlier that morning….. Apart from taking a few urgent dips to the floor to regain my hazed vision (I got a little carried away during a hand stand demonstration) the class was one of my favourite yet.

The next morning.
After another fab sleep I woke up refreshed. After practice I made a big green smoothie and then felt an overwhelming excitement to eat something crunchy! I grabbed some almonds and cut crisp apple and began to chew. For the rest of the day I didn’t feel hungry at all. When it came to dinner, at which I had arranged a meal out with my partner whom was feeling like he had gone back to his bachelor ways, I still felt no hunger. However, the food smelt amazing. I picked at the flavoursome Moroccan tarjine slowly. Realising not far into the meal that while the spice, warmth and textures were delightful, the fluffy pearl cous cous and final sweet potato falafel would have to be rounded up for take home leftovers.

Overall thoughts.
1.That pimple did come out, and it was sore! Aside from that the rest of my skin felt and looked really fresh and clear.
2. The experience gave me another notch of confidence in my teaching. I can get out of my head and trust enough to feel how things should flow.
And the final BIG one ----
3. Thus far in my practice I have rarely dipped into the cleansing aspect beyond nasal cleansing (Neti), abdominal massage (Nauli) and breath work that clears the mind and lungs (kaphalaphati). The idea of fasting, and even juice only cleansing is something I have been advised and also felt best to steer away from until this point. With my past history of anorexia and my changing relationship with food I have always felt it best to just keep my diet clean and healthy and cleanse in other ways. On taking up this cleanse and then subsequently having my wisdom teeth removed (another few days of liquid and smoothies only) I found something out about myself. I do love food, I do enjoy eating, I enjoy flavours and textures and the intimate times it creates with my partner, and joyous times it opens up with friends and family. I feel like weight is off my shoulders, I do not have to hide behind past situations, or live too far in front of my present one. My life is to be about the moment. About awareness in that moment.

Doing this cleanse helped me create a bit of extra space in my body, my mind, my practice and my relationships. Sometimes all you need is a little space to realise who you really are.

PS. After my wisdom teeth came out I keep up with juices and smoothies of my own. Adding in to diet mix, green tea, turmeric, ginger, kale, beetroot, blueberries, arnica tablets, coconut (water and yoghurt), JuicePlus capsules and loads of water. 5 days in and I have taken no medications (painkillers, anti inflammatories or antibiotics) and feel like my body is healing as it should. Each day gets a little better and with a little bit of rest and love thrown in, by weeks end I will be better than ever. 

---

Deliver to your door cleanse- https://www.facebook.com/pureglowcleanse

Delightful vego friendly Moroccan restaurant- www.meekarestaurant.com.au

Wholefood supplement that supports my body always- www.juiceplus.com.au

With thanks... 10th of January, 2014
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What am I grateful for right now?
The butterfly foundation and the assistance they gave me at my time of need, the generosity of my students, and the practice of yoga. A total of $865 raised at the Gratitude Class was accepted with lots of love by my amazing friends at the Foundation HQ this week.

"This is the most wonderful news and we are thrilled at Butterfly that you were able to raise this amount! We really are so grateful as this money will be able to go directly into assisting with the vital services that we provide. Your support will make an enormous difference to the many lives severely affected by eating disorders and negative body image."  Sarah Spence, National Manager Communications & Fundraising

The holiday period has quickly come to a close for most and as such, we quietly return to the comings and goings of our regular lives. As classes resume, I have felt an overwhelming sense of apprehension, a sort of anxiety; will the stillness, space, attention to detail and freedom I felt (both on and off the mat) during my break fall away as I tackle the new year? Don't get me wrong, I love what I do, but I intend to stop and take in exactly where I am every day. Rather then letting days slip past where my practice becomes motions, my partner a mere flatmate and the shining sun just a thing in the sky, I am stepping up. Each practice is one of freedom and commitment alike, my relationships are cultivated, and I will take moments in the sun to feel its warmth and notice how happy it makes me :-)

Moments of gratitude this week -

  • A huge group of yogis with warm hearts rejoining me on the mat for 2014 ( A blessed start)
  • Taking timeout to dive in the ocean after early morning class with my lover
  • After class taking 5 mins to sit on my mat, breathe then to bang out a handstand with no fear!
  • The way the sun shines through the trees in my street in the late afternoon

To keep me honest with my intention I am asking for your help. I am asking for you to join me in 'stopping to smell the roses' throughout the year.

Saturday morning class will see an addition to our studio space, 'The Gratitude box'. Keep it alive with your own grateful moments as time moves on. Come to class with a thought of gratitude to be shared. What will your first moment in the box be?

When I first got shuffled into the theatre room for Saturday morning sessions I felt a little overwhelmed. The space truly is grand; lofty and ornate ceilings, solid timber floors, endless lighting options and perfect reverberant walls.

 

This unexpected move was not unlike the entire year behind me;
- from teaching all hours in a range of studios, 
- living independently and having little time and focus for my own practice, to
- commencing my own fulfilling, challenging and growing business,
- teaching at a rate that I can commit to every class and every student 100%,
- furthering my own yoga by completing my 500 hour training,
- sharing my world, my home and my love with a partner and 
- allowing time everyday for my practice, asana, stillness and awareness. 

 

I am a yogi, a teacher, a lover, a friend, a daughter a sister and an aunt. In this life I am grateful and respectful for all my roles. I notice the foundations have come to firm completion and with this I will construct the walls, grow taller, let go and fly. To all the yogis whom attended the final 2013 practice in the grand theatre on Dec 21, I give thanks; you allowed the space to morph from overwhelming in stature to abundant in energy and warmth.

As another year comes to a close it is definitely the time to call gratitude to the front of house. 2013 has grown into one of my all time favourite years, surely to be surpassed by the years to come. For now, I map out all that I am thankful for and make a clear and conscious commitment to the new year. Just do it, in every possible way that these words can be utilised.

What are you grateful for in the year that has passed, what is the dedication you make to yourself for the year ahead?

Sutra 1.1 Atha yoga anusasanam: Now (commences) the exposition of yoga

 

As I stepped onto my mat this week I felt myself dive immediately into a place of reflection. The end of the year can do that to you. As I sat in silence my mind was far from still; the Asana that I had 'conquered' in the past year and those that still seemed to elude me. I sat for a few moments on a kind of roller-coaster ride as I let my thoughts affect my feelings. 

I stood up, took a few deep breaths and began my first salute. Inhale...arms up...exhale and fold, my body took over, the practice began to flow. Juicy expanding back bends where I felt the breath rush to my chest intertwined with intense forward folds and smooth transitions. The innate nature of the movement and the breath energised me and inwardly focussed my attention concurrently.

As stillness disembarked itself on me I found the insight into the week ahead.

This clip is a short piece of the practice that prepared me for the final week of classes this year. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gy5JepuCIPc

 

“In your light I learn how to love. In your beauty, how to make poems.
You dance inside my chest where no-one sees you, but sometimes I do.
That sight becomes this art.”

As a slightly larger than usual crew filled the gallery at Camelot for the early morning session my game plan started to feel a little silly. 

As everyone took to their mats with their scarves as requested, I noticed some uncertain faces in the group. We started in the usual way, laying with eyes closed, which gave me a few moments to reconsider... 'could I really expect the lovely yogis in front of me to wear a blind fold for the next hour and a bit...no questions?' 

As I settled into my words and the anxieties disappeared, I reclaimed my composure and began to delve into the intention behind taking away the students choice to open their eyes during the entire practice. I asked for trust to be found, surrender to be executed and a focus to move towards letting creativity flourish.I smile now thinking back on the class as all of my above requests were surely met. 

The class consisted of the basics, a sequence of asana that we practice regularly. The lack of uniqueness in postures was surely forgotten as students physical bodies took on very abstract variations of their usually consistent poses. I indeed felt way out of my comfort zone at this point, with no reason to be anywhere near my mat I made my way to the back of the room and watched closely. My usual standard of cueing is already quite intense, but as I watched students hover in uncertainty as I lead them into their first high lunge I realised how much more I needed to give.

As we got into the practice I felt the energy change, the anxiety and frustration that we were all holding on to in the beginning of the practice slowly diminished. For me the present moment was magnified, and students seemed connected to their own practice. External approval was no longer relevant for any of us, the approval and contentment started to arise from within.

Pratyahara, withdrawal of senses, is one of the 8 limbs of yoga. Bringing this into play in our practice we move from the outside in, we find a refined awareness of self. The ability to surrender and tune in to our true feelings engulfs us like a huge wave whether we are inviting or not. At the end of the practice I felt a renewed sense of gratitude for our ability to see. As a teacher for the ease it gives in explanation, as a yogi for the extra stability and confidence in my practice, and as a human the beautiful things, the light and the movement that I am able to experience everyday. 

Thank you to the yogis that joined this class, it was lovely to be trusted to guide you through the darkness. I welcome your feedback and for those that missed it, would you like to see (excuse the pun!) this run again?

Rxx

You(me) Tube 29th of November, 2013
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Ok, I'm pretty new at recording some of my mornings' practice and it goes without saying that I have much to learn when it comes to videography!

It is a great way however to view my practice and assess my transitions and asana's. I am blessed to have the opportunity to start each day this way and the reward for doing so is great.

I hope that these video's provide you with a bit of inspiration for your yoga and you too can create time to hit the mat on a regular basis and reap reward for doing so.

Let me know what yoga sequences you would like featured in a video and I will see what I can do!

“You cannot always control what goes on outside, but you can always control what goes on inside”

Being in a different space for the last week reminded me of how far I have come. East coast Australia is a completely separate world for me; family, old friends, memories of my youth, kids, weddings, more physical space and time on paper, less personal space and time in reality. The abundance of differences in the past week highlighted how much yoga acts as my only stable, my loyal companion.

My time away saw me retrace footprints and surrounded me with people and things that at one point truly unbalanced, confused and affected me.

What I found this time however, was that my sense of harmony didn’t change. Each morning as I took my place on my mat I watched my breath and I felt like me; my body moved as it does at home in Perth, my breathing was guiding my practice and ultimately I felt the same. A deep understanding slowly washed over me.

I understood in that moment on my mat that who I am is so true and strong that a change in surrounds and dynamics doesn’t waiver me. What is just is, we are not to change the people around us or even ourselves we are simply to use yoga as our little tool to find our own truth and to live it every damn day, no option or exemption.

We so often see our lives as labels or commodities, things we are to others and the things we have attained. When we let our yoga practice play out its’ roll, it becomes all that we are and all that we have. In finding this out we also find contentment in the way that we are and the way that the world is.

First class at the New venue! The energy was high as the group of familiar faces joined with a selection of newbies to try out the amazing new space. Such a great space, definitely part of this journey that keeps us all changing and growing! Thank you for the continual love and support!

The mats are laid, Candles lit, music humming, kettle on...... Join me tomorrow for the Saturday morning session 7.30am!