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On Retreat in Mexico

21 Apr

I’m off the grid for a couple of weeks, teaching two retreats in Sayulita in Mexico.

This week..?
Haramara Retreat Centre.

(Yes. I am pinching myself.)
Haramara Pool

Haramara 4Haramara 1haramaraIMG_7301IMG_7292

“If  you have a true relationship with nature, then you have a relationship with mankind.”

-J. Krishnamurti

Yoga Body: The Backlash

17 Jan

I loved this piece.
It’s such a great reminder that yoga is for EVERY BODY.

Also great to remember that “yoga” is many things: breath, balance, meditation, awareness…

Never just the poses.

body divine yoga

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Two years ago I wrote a popular post titled Yoga Body: The Conspiracy. At the time it was very warmly received, generating thousands of hits, hundreds of shares and loads of positive comments. But lately the commentary hasn’t been very affirmative. In fact, its been making people pretty angry. One yoga teacher was enraged enough to call me an ignorant, lazy, pissed off “fat chick”. Nice. So what I wondered, was suddenly getting people so upset?

A lot of commentators disagreed with my claim that the ‘perfect’ yoga body used to sell yoga mats, clothes, DVDs, books, workshops, festivals, retreats, studio memberships, etc. was not a healthy ideal, that it was a body overworked and underfed. They saw it as a glowing icon of inspiration, the natural outcome of a wholesome yogic lifestyle (i.e. self-discipline and dietary control). And as one person pointed out, if I didn’t have a yoga…

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Resilience

14 Jan

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life.
And that is why I succeed…
Obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.”
– Michael Jordan

Sometimes, you have those days, those weeks, when it feels like you’re running in the same place. In mud.

The faster you try to run, the more you fall, the dirtier you get.

There are days when you just sit in that mud puddle and wallow.

But maybe, while you’re sitting there, you notice there is another way. A different way you never saw before.

Star gazing is good for the soul...

Star gazing is good for the soul…

I caught up with a dear friend yesterday. The past 12 months have been challenging for him. Finding his feet again, reestablishing his purpose. One of the things I noticed about him is his language.

He never says “but”, as in “I really loved that piece in the paper, but it wasn’t very long…”

He uses “and” instead: “I really loved that piece in the paper, and it wasn’t very long…”

Suddenly, something that might have been a criticism becomes a part of the positive. “But” is so often used to diminish or kill an idea, or make an excuse.  How many times have I said “I’d love to, but…”?

Imagine if you removed that excuse?

I don’t know why it makes such a difference, but it did to me. I left our meeting grinning from ear to ear and feeling like anything was possible. I caught his enthusiasm.

There is a great series on the American Network PBS called This Emotional Life that examines our reactions to our circumstances.

One study they refer to, lead by Psychologist Barbara Fredrickson, shows that positive emotions are the “fuel” for resilience:

“They help people find meaning in ordinary and difficult events. Finding meaning in life events leads to more positive emotions, which in turn leads to a greater ability to find meaning and purpose. Fredrickson calls this an “upward spiral” of greater well-being. They also found that resilient people still felt as many negative emotions as less happy people, often very intense ones.
But they felt more positive emotions, and it was the positive emotions that accounted for “their better ability to rebound from adversity and stress, ward off depression, and continue to grow.”

“Their increase in happiness came from feeling good; not from avoiding feeling bad.”

If At First You Dont Succeed

This year IS going to be different.

Because I said so…

Yoga Retreat Thailand Dates Announced!

22 Oct

It’s happening!

We’re returning to the Bay Of Love…

The Sanctuary Beach.

..for the Shiny Happy Healthy Retreat 2014!

30th March to 5th of April, 2014. 

7 days, 6 nights of yoga…

This could be you...

This could be you…

Fresh, healthy food & juices…

Why, yes, that is the view...

Why, yes, that is the view…

Meditation…

And how to, if you never have before...

And how to, if you never have before…

And workshops…

How to be Shiny 101

How to be Shiny 101

Oh, and did we mention
“Tropical Island Paradise”?

Thailand Retreat

The Bay

The Bay 3

Find out more on our RETREATS page…

Places are limited and our earlybird offer expires on November 30th, 2013

So book now!

Setbacks

29 May

We-would-never-learn-to-be-brave-and-patient-if-there-were-only-joy-in-the-world

Oh, the delicious irony that I wrote yesterday about finding contentment with your circumstances as they are.

You may remember last week I had a little run in with a car while riding my bike. Unfortunately, it’s caused a bit more damage than I originally thought.  It’s certainly thrown a spanner in my plans and I’ve had to push back the Melbourne workshop series until July.

It’s so easy to immediately react negatively and blame everyone else for this situation:

“But you don’t understand! Someone ELSE ran over MY foot! Now I am not getting to teach what I LOVE when I want to! I’ve had to change my plans! It’s inconvenient! I have to change flights! And dinner dates! Life is not going how I want!!! WOE IS MEEEEEE!”

Oh, life.

Can't Stop Waves…Learn to SurfI’ve also had set backs enough to realise that when things like this happen, there’s golddust in the experience. (Is this the getting of wisdom? I certainly hope so…)

Whether it’s noticing how I react under difficult circumstances to considering that I’m just not supposed to be in this place at this time. Who knows? Think of something that empowers you and trust that it’s all going to work out, however it happens.

I notice when I let go of the disappointment or anger at things not going the way I wanted, it frees me.

More lightness rushes in. I stop straining against what ISN’T and surrender to what IS.

That’s not to say I can’t change my circumstances again. But in this moment? I surrender. My foot is hurt. I’m not coming to Melbourne. I’m not going to see people I love and have been missing and looking forward to seeing.

What’s the expression? No grit, No pearl?

Man, it’s going to be worth it when I get there!

Patience

Moral of the story? Don’t be attached to outcomes.

Stop trying to control everything.

And always get the details of someone who hits you with their car.

Shiny Song #8

23 May

Bike Mark TwainI had a run-in with a car this morning.

Or more accurately, a car had a run-in with me. The driver was slowing down for the red light and didn’t see me on my bike, already stopped at that red light.

Aside from a bruised leg and a run over foot, I’m fine and feeling very lucky that I am. Today on the radio we had dozens of calls from people who have broken bones and been hospitalised after run ins with aggressive drivers or drivers who simply aren’t aware that cyclists share the road with them.

Bike Hemingway

Here’s to sharing space with love and respect – from drivers AND cyclists. Hopefully this tune helps us all lighten up.

Mark Ronson – The Bike Song from Kairos Mosaïque on Vimeo.

Keep Calm and Bike On

Walk & Be Happy

23 May

A friend of mine recently came out of a very long relationship.

They had been together the better part of a decade, and she’s struggling.
“All the little things feel so hard…” she wrote to me this week. “I just can’t seem to get over this.”

It’s so hard to know what to say to someone in these situations. I just want her to feel better, but I don’t want to be flippant.
Telling someone in pain, “there, there, plenty more fish in the sea,” – it’s almost cruel.

I remember a time, several years ago now, when a long relationship I was in ended. It coincided with several other life upheavals and was compounded by reporting on some particularly traumatic events at work.

I remember my housemate at the time telling me that one day I would wake up and I would feel ok. I remember thinking, I would be carrying this anvil around in my chest forever. That the weight of it would prevent me from ever being able to love or taste food or feel anything ever again.

Walk Feet

“The sum of the whole is this: walk and be happy; walk and be healthy. The best way to lengthen out our days is to walk steadily and with a purpose.”
Charles Dickens

I started walking home from work, mainly because I couldn’t bear the thought of arriving home quickly to spend yet another evening occupying the couch with my tears.

I started taking detours: down back roads, through parks, circling the lake. My walks started getting longer. They became the kind of aimless wandering that allows your feet to take you in any direction while your mind climbs whichever hills it needs to.

I would rug up against the wind and put sad songs in my ears and trudge, despondently, until I found myself back home.

Somehow, it just got me out of my head. Sometimes, I found a song that I could hum along to. Sometimes it was a song that made me cry. Sometimes I would wrap my scarf high around my mouth and sob into it and the wind. I would grip my arms around myself, pretending it was the weather that made me feel so cold.

All the while, one foot in front of the other.

RoadWalkingQuoteUnknown

I discovered some amazing albums, during that time. Music I had loved and forgotten, new albums I thought would lift me out of my funk, sad songs I used to indulge my misery. Even now, when I buy a new album, I go walking  to hear it through for the first time. It’s my gift to myself, to my feet and my mind and my ears.

It was over a year later that I remembered what my housemate had told me and realised that she was right.
I did feel better.
Happier; more myself and more centered than I had ever been. The mended cracks had made me stronger than before.

I remembered laughing, almost in relief, at the memory of that sad girl, trudging the lake, tears staining her cheeks.

 Maybe sometimes, that’s what’s needed? To give yourself permission to feel sad or angry or whatever else is coming up?

To be with what’s there but know that this too shall pass.

“You are loved,” I wrote to my friend. “You will love again.”

In the meantime, maybe it’s time to go for a walk.

walking-away

New Workshops, New Retreat!

17 May

I honestly didn’t think I was going to be able to make it to Melbourne this visit to Australia…

But life has a funny way of working out!

I’ve just announced a delicious weekend program for June 1st and 2nd at the truly gorgeous Gertrude Street Yoga studio in Fitzroy.

stay shiny

I adore this space and had a blast teaching a morning intensive series here last year.

You can find all the details on the Workshops page – we’ve designed it as a choose your own adventure weekend, but I recommend you surrender two days to me and come to EVERYTHING. You’ll feel shiny, juicy and delicious with a new sense of purpose by the end of it all!

I also didn’t think I’d be running another retreat this year, but everyone has been asking for it, so WHY NOT?!

We’ve just locked in a week at a gorgeous space in Ubud, Bali, starting the last week of August.

I’ll be announcing all the delicious details for that here very soon, but in the meantime, here’s a little sample of the gorgeous time we had on the Thai retreat earlier this year on the Bay of Love…

Keep it Simple. And Breathe.

16 May
Seriously. Breathe.

Seriously. Breathe.

How to Plug In…

6 May

…and boost your energy levels.

“How do you have so much energy?!” a friend asked the other day. I hadn’t realised I was full of beans until she pointed it out, but it made me think about what was keeping me so buoyant. I had to conclude it’s because I’m feeling pretty happy. That’s not to say I’m ridiculously upbeat all the time, but I am pretty clear on what brings me back to this state. So, I thought I would share some of them with you:

1. Exercising first thing in the morning. 

You get up, fall into your yoga clothes or pull on your trainers and get going. It warms your body, wakes you up and you feel virtuous all day. I always find excuses during the day not to exercise after work – you never know what is going to happen to keep you from it and there are more distractions at the end of the day than at the start – and it alters my food choices during the day. I don’t want to eat a massive muffin and negate my hard work from the morning! Which brings me to my next point…

Get your shoes on and out the door!

Get your shoes on and out the door!

 

 2. Eat less sugar

This is something I know is good for me, but also something I flout if I’m not feeling great, so it’s a healthy practice and an indicator of where I’m at. If I feel like sitting on the couch and scoffing a block of Cadbury, it’s a red flag. What’s going on? Don’t just shove whatever it is back down with the chocolate, take a moment to really look at how you’re feeling and see if there’s something else you can do about it. From a purely physiological standpoint, eating a healthy, balanced meal is going to support your moods better than the wild dips and dives caused by sugar.

3. Meditate

When was the last time you just sat? No phone, no television or music blaring, no demands on your time or distractions in your midst. Let’s face it, there is enough going on in your head to keep you occupied for the five, 10 or 15 minutes you’re going to start with. Meditation is the number one thing people tell me “I should do” but most students admit, they don’t know how to do it or where to start. The lovely release of Savasana at the end of a yoga practice is a good place to feel that surrender, but websites like Headspace  have wonderful tools to kickstart a practice.

And don’t forget, this month, you have the wonderful support and resource of Mindful in May. It’s now closed for registrations, but that’s no reason to put it off. You’d wait 10 minutes for a coffee or a late friend or for something to heat in microwave. Give yourself that time. You’ll be amazed at the clarity and calm that’s possible.

Yoga is for Every Body

Yoga is for Every Body

 

 4. Yoga

I’m talking about asana, the poses, here. There are thousands of variations and styles of practice and teachers: just find one that works for you. I started with Ashtanga, diverted to Iyengar, dabbled in Bikram and shook through Kundalini. I’m a whore for new things and yoga has been a glutton’s delight. I mainly teach Vinyasa Flow but it’s an amalgam of the teachings I’ve accumulated over the years.

The poses have so many physiological benefits: from calming and soothing the body to outright revving it up. Some simple backbending poses in the morning will compress your lower back where your kidneys live, stimulating your adrenals and giving you a lovely wakeup call. Who needs coffee?