Prescription for Joy: Radiate Love and Light – 40 Day Practice

Prescription for Joy: Radiate Love and Light – 40 Day Practice

B and I started a 40 day practice this month. Usually we have our own activities we like to do in order to feel good: mine would be yoga, Pilates, watching old TV shows, and his would be basketball (REAL and XBOX). This month we decided that the New Moon would be the perfect time to start a shared daily practice for 40 days to boost our energy and spirit levels.

We are STILL doing our favourite activities, naturally!

Everyday we practice a set sequence of yoga postures, followed by mantra meditation and we drink a green drink that I labelled our ‘Elixir’. This last part is major because B has never been on board with drinking anything green although I feel like that’s being very picky since he is slightly colour blind anyway? For all he knows it could be pink? SUDDENLY he can tell it’s green. I mean.

Anyway.

The mantra we chant is personal to each of us but I’ll share mine with you below. We chant out loud and with confidence, 11 times and then we sit quietly and let things marinate.

Somedays we do our practice in the evening like last night when we came home from a wedding party. We showered, changed and stepped on our mats. Then we had our green drink. We slept like babies even with both of us recovering from the flu.

It feels wonderful!

To go along with our 40 day practice we also cut out coffee. I typically drink a lot of coffee, alarming amounts even, but I’ve never had any issue with stopping. I never even get headaches if I go without coffee but it’s that comfort factor that I like. I love comfort! So when I want a warm drink I’ll make myself a Coconut Maca drink. I’m having one righttttttt now. 

 
I’m very lucky I’ve never enjoyed soft drinks and I drink a lot of room temperature water. Even warm water in a mug can be comforting. I make a ritual out of heating the water up, choosing a favourite mug (B and I both like to hog the same mugs) and then enjoying the steam puff up. It’s all about the ritual and process! Aren’t humans funny?

We started out as a very small community of just two, but in just over a week a few of our friends have started to join in. One of my girlfriends asked for a shopping list so she could run out and grab all the ingredients for the ‘elixir’ the very next morning.

Which is great! The more the merrier, and slowly little by little we generate more good vibes. If you would like to join us (we’d love to have you!) feel free to come up with your own mantra, or use mine:

RADIATE

Be well and be radiant! xoxo

Video

Yoga to Move into Stillness

So legend has it that when you can’t sleep at night it is because you are awake in someone else’s dream.

Please stop dreaming about me whoever you are.

Aaaaaaaahahahahaha allow me to cackle away merrily whilst you take the time to roll your eyes.

I’ve been struggling to sleep properly and it seems to be some sort of excess nervous energy from prepping to go home for the holidays. This time next week I will be back home and ohmigoshonlyafewmoresleepstogoooooooooooooosomanythingstodosolittletimetodoitin.

You know those jitters? 

Verrrrrry similar to the kind a kid gets the night before Christmas. Who could possibly sleep?! It’s just all too exciting. TOO being the keyword. Too much going on. Around us and inside our heads. Without an outlet to channel all the excitement into, those sensations spill over everywhere and amplify existing feelings. 

There is a lot happening during holiday season and all that change can be stressful on a body. 

Resisting the change causes friction which leaves me restless and kinda twitchy. Then as I lose sleep I become tired and cranky. The cycle continues on a loop. When I was younger I couldn’t figure out how to settle myself down and found myself buffeted along by the things that kept happening TO me no matter how hard I tried to avoid them or take full control. I felt so resentful and frustrated. Did I have a target on my back?

Now I kind of understand it is up to me to decide if I want to struggle and kick my way along or flow through change. But the way is always THROUGH the obstacles or the change. And whilst I can control some aspects there are many others that I can’t. Discerning what I can and can’t change, much like the serenity prayer, are key to giving me the space I need to regain a sense of calm.

Try reading the next two paragraphs out loud slowly and with intent:

I remember that I can control my breathing. I can inhale fully and exhale completely. I can move my body as I breath slowly and deeply. I can give complete attention to moving my body with my breath. 

And with that I feel my heart rate calm down, my stomach ceases to twist into knots, my eyebrows unfurrow and my mind quietens and I move into stillness. Then I can sleep soundly and deeply. I wake up feeling joyful and excited about my days. I will nourish my body with fuel so I have energy to go about my day. I will move my body because it feels good to be active. I look forward to anything that comes my way. I feel content with the present moment because it is perfect. 

I hope following along to this short video helps equip you with a sense of calm as you go about preparing yourself for this holiday season. Please practice safely and take good care of yourself. 

Processed with Rookie Cam

Namaste. 

 

Quote

Choose Joy, Always

Gold Foil Learn to be happy quote

Making happy faces at you from behind the screen. *Waves*

Currently editing a video which I described as for lazy bones (bonses?!) on my Instagram but maybe we should reframe that? What do you reckon? Lemme know?

Meanwhile this lazy bones hardworker is going to have some lunch (leftovers from a recipe I will also be sharing with you) and then will post those up.

See you later! xx

P.S. how has your week been? I want to know!

Video

Learning to Fly: Quick Tips – Yoga Arm Balance Workshopping

How was your cyber weekend? I tried to get into the sale action but I found myself overwhelmed by all the sale windows popping up on my ‘puter. And also we had some major blackouts so that just felt like a sign from the universe.

No shopping for you, specifically, you. You means Dominique.

I didn’t have anything I needed or simply wanted but tried to pass of as needed anyway. And I found myself thinking why don’t we just have everything 20% or 30% or 35% or whatever% off year round and we will buy it when we want to. The sort of “I’ll call you” type of response to an invitation to tender. You too? Yeah.

A girlfriend and I were chatting and figured if groceries had a cyber Monday though, different story. But groceries being groceries and economics working the way they do, that didn’t happen. So instead I saved my pennies and worked on editing a video I filmed just before my trip to Bali.

Oh yeah, haha, I went to Bali for a few days. And all I came back with was a lovely time, great memories, a full tummy and a tan. Tell you all about it another time, I really want to post this video first, if it ever finishes uploading though. A little tricky with all the power blackouts we have been having.

This will just take 1000 minutes
Be with you in 142 minutes. I kid you not five minutes later the little bar said it would take another 183 minutes. What’s with the strange math? hahaha

So let’s chat a bit more about what we’re doing in today’s video whilst this baby loads.

Itty Bitty Baby Pigeon

This is a preparatory posture. Some people will know the full version of this pose as Flying Pigeon Pose or One Legged Pigeon Balance. In Sanskrit this pose  is called Eka Pada Galavasana. People tend to drop the Eka Pada when referring to the posture and just say Galavasana although B.K.S. Iyengar listed Galavasana and Eka Pada Galavasana as two different postures with the latter being the one we will prep for here.

Gimme a second to squint and count, yep, got the right number of vowels in there. Sometimes one needs to check, you know?

Some Sanskrit here: Eka means one and Pada means leg… soo far so got it. Galavasana is the pose named after the sage Galava. The word for pigeon is Kapota. I know, I know, confusing! When I first started paying attention to the names of postures a lot of them just sounded like Something Something Blah Asana. I just couldn’t get a handle on the front part. And I got a whole lot worse before I got anywhere near better by the time I went for training.

Every second sentence out of me was, “Whaddjyamacallthis?” As soon as I managed to remember one name I’d promptly forget the previous one I had learned.

But a lot of people will know what you are talking about if you happen to mention flying pigeon. But you’d both need to be talking about yoga postures otherwise things just get really confusing obvs. The shape of that front bent leg leaning against your arms is the same as the one-legged version of the posture performed on the floor. Just know that the pose goes by more than one name. 

I am calling this version we are attempting Itty Bitty Pigeon Pose because that back leg is not yet stretched out as in the full expression of the posture, it’s still tucked in close to the body. This makes it a little easier to focus on locating that exact tipping point you need to get the balance going. And here we thought we’d never see the likes of Physics again after high school.

The video is pretty straight forward, but make sure you are warmed up before you launch. For example you can go for a 20 minute march around the block, or you can do a few rounds of Sun Salutations, or a few cycles of my easy to do 2 minute yoga sequence (here).

Yoga is all about expressing curiosity and learning new things. So once you are up, try stretching out that floating leg and see what happens! Fly, birdie, fly!

[gasp] I’m flying, Jack!

C’mon, if I didn’t say it someone else would have. What a line. And they totally could have both fit on that door. Move over Rose, blimey.

IMPORTANT: Please be aware that if you are not yet comfortable in a plank position, you may still need a little more time before you visit this. Don’t rush! In the Ashtanga practice for instance, this posture is in the third series. THIRD! There are people (cough, me included) who may or may not just stay in Primary for the rest of our lives. B.K.S. Iyengar rated the intensity of this posture as 21, the most difficult posture being 60. So take it easy, slow and steady. Taking the time now to develop a strong foundation, smelling the roses along the way, will save you the heartache of hurrying before you are ready and perhaps even hurting yourself. You need to be careful and practice safely. Be kind! Enjoy the scenic route! How often do we get the luxury of taking things slow?

Happy workshopping! 

Questions? Holla! Feel free to discuss down below any of the following:

Who B.K.S. Iyengar?

What Ashtanga?

Kapota what?

Is this still yoga?

What does Galavasana look like then?

What does it take to rate a 60?

Who Jack? (Where have you been…)

What door? (See above re: Jack)

Does anyone else feel terrified when they see flying pigeons IRL?

Gallery

A Well Spent Sunday

brings a week of content.

Quite so!

Actually I had a lovely time on Saturday as well so I’m in for a fortnight of wonderfulness. How grand would it be if each day we spent well gave us a credit for the week ahead? Like a sort of happiness coupon.

The more pragmatic of us would point out that we could alternatively just live each day well and forget the coupons already. Yes. Of course. That would be an easier way wouldn’t it? So how many of us do that?

Hmm.

If I had to say what exactly it was I did over the weekend that filled me with such bliss and contentment, I’d struggle to mention anything super exciting. It’s always been those tiny little moments that sort of creep up on me. Which is such a relief because that means during the weekdays I can just keep myself open to more of such treasures.

The heroine of a favourite book of mine had a ritual with her best friend called “White pebble or black pebble”. Each day they would fill an imaginary jar with white pebbles for anything wonderful that happened and black pebbles for anything not so. At the end of the day the women would ring each other and announce whether it was a white pebble type of day or a black pebble one. Ever since reading that book I keep a jar in my mind, a tad dusty as I don’t tend to it all the time, but I take it out more and more these days and check how many white pebbles I found during the day. The occasional black pebble shows up but I try to be less diligent with those.

Here are some of my white pebbles this weekend.

Usually I teach during the weekends, which I adore, but it was nice for a change to have my entire morning to myself to awaken very lazily with a coffee. After a huge yawn whilst shuffling these cards I drew (I kid you not) the Awakening card. Do you believe in coincidences? Or destiny? Can we have both?

Awakening
It’s important to be yourself!

I’ve gotten really fascinated with geometry, I’m always seeing these fancy circles and squares showing up on weheartit and so on. So I gave it a go this weekend. Let me tell you, there’s more than one way to join the dots. Like a zillion ways. Figuratively and literally. Aside from getting a little cross eyed at certain points it was really absorbing. An interesting way to meditate if you can’t stand not doing anything at all. I think there are still more dots to join.

More than one way to connect the dots

The power went out in our building, so we were trapped for a while. Luckily I had already made a coffee so fine by me. No harm at all. Until I felt ready for a second coffee. But then we figured out that the power inside the bedroom worked. We’re problem solving people. Hehe.

No I did not care to check if the washing machine had any power. Priorities.

Would you believe I have not had rice crackers until now since I was at uni?  The first time around? If you want the math for it, that would be almost 15 years ago. Far out. And after I merrily ignored the serving suggestion and made my way through just about the entire packet I realised why I didn’t buy rice crackers anymore when I wouldn’t stop bouncing off the walls afterwards. And then I was insanely thirsty for hours. No original flavour for me thank you very much. Gimme the BBQ. It weirded B out to see snacks in the house AND to see me eating them. I don’t buy snacks because that was how I was brought up. We only got them if we were having a party. I think I will revert to that rule. But it was a nice treat x 4 serving sizes.

Serving suggestions are not serving rules.

Oh, and I also had a visitor drop by during the afternoon to see how my drawing was going. Birds drop by from time to time and I always feel like it’s a good sign. My mood always lifts when I see the flutter of wings even for the briefest instant.

Eventually the power came back on and we watched a bit of The Other Woman. More than anything I think we like Leslie Mann’s voice. And I like the expressions Kate Upton makes, she seems so goofy. Oh and I felt really happy about the dinner I threw together. To counter ALL the rice crackers I ate. When everything is really fresh, not a lot needs to be done to make a delicious meal. And a cool salad is so good for balmy nights. And minimal clean up!

It’s pretty straightforward you just need to mix together a dressing, tear up some leaves, and add anything else you want to make it a filling meal.

Teevee Dinner
“What is up with your hot brother?” Yeah, Leslie, tell us.

So how was your weekend? I hope you had a wonderful weekend and a week ahead filled with magical white pebbles. xx

 

Video

Meditation for Beginners (Breathing) and a Zen Story

Good morning!

And I’m getting through that pile of videos to edit. *pow pow* If you had read what I wrote last week about procrastinating you would nod and be like *high fives screen* and then I would high-five you back and be like, “Thanks!”.

So there is an old story about a rich man who goes to the zen master asking how to become enlightened. He’s got the money, no sum is too big, how much. 

Hmm, free. Plus two years, if you meditate everyday for one hour so says the master. 

Whuuuuuuuuuuuuut. Okay, okay. How about if I meditate everyday for five hours? How long then, huh? 

Oh yes, that will be very good. Twenty years. 

HUH!$*&%#@$?! 

That isn’t exactly how the story goes, there are a few variations. That’s my take on it.

And how about this expression:

“You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes each day. If you are too busy then sit for an hour.”

I love the humour in these stories and sayings. A person can interpret these stories in so many different ways. I’ll have to share with you some of the comments a few people made about one particular zen story I came across sometime, remind me? 

In the meantime, I have  a meditation video for you! It is thirteen minutes long but if you want you can skip through the introduction and chat straight into the practice portion. But it’ll take you twenty years.

Kidding!!!

I’m a big fan of the two minute format. Here’s the link to my two minute yoga video Hurrah for Yoga in Pyjamas. Big fan of anything I can do in pyjamas too.

If you’re all “Nah, I got time to hang” then stay tuned for the outtakes. There are many. I was waiting for my washing machine to finish before I started recording and it kept whirring promisingly as though it was wrapping up. And then I’d hit record and the washing machine was all “Haha no.” But it ended eventually. 

Ready? Here we go: 

Here is a quick starting point for people who want to get into meditation and have been meaning to but always say they don’t have enough time. One day, I will get around to meditating. Ha! Today is that day!! After my washing machine finished spinning hahaha.

If you’re anything like me, your daily to do list can stretch as long as your arm and then some. When it comes to actually tackling things you start to wonder where exactly to start. Too much happening so many feelings! This is the BEST time to meditate so that you can resume (or start) work feeling focused and calm.

A lot of us think we need hours set aside to get meditation right but sometimes a minute here a minute there and just quiet breathing is all we need to notice a huge difference. This is where we start today, the breathing, which is the most important part. If we can turn all our attention to our breathing, there is nothing else for our mind to do and everything becomes oh so still.

You can repeat this short breathing exercise as many times as you like, be sure to keep the body and face as relaxed and tension free as possible to really get the benefits. Anytime you feel as though things are getting too much during the course of your day, you can turn to this breathing exercise. I hope this makes a difference!

The exercise starts at 5:32 if you want to jump ahead, please do so. We finish with a very light bit of self massage to our brow area. When we first wake up the area can often feel quite heavy and puffy. This is also an area that often remains tense throughout the day without our realising. If you’ve been worrying about something this will be especially helpful in helping you to feel energised and ready to face the day. 

Thanks so much for watching. Please let me know if you enjoyed that and if you have any special requests, comment down below. X

Quote

YOGA ALL DAY

Why am I shouting the title at you?

Sorry, I’m a little deaf these days, there’s constant hammering away in the apartment above my head since we last chatted. They’re doing it to drive me crazy renovating.

float

Hence why, I still haven’t uploaded that video I have been promising! I need to construct a sound proof room first which reminds me of the old music room at my school. I would go there every lunchtime for piano lessons. The entire room was wall-papered with egg cartons and painted blue to accord with the school colour. The effect was, uh, very crafty and three-dimensional. But aside from being quite visually effective the egg cartons really didn’t work very well.

Which brings me back to where I am seated right now. It sounds like the people upstairs are diligently tinkering away with teeny tiny hammers and chisels at the ceiling above my head. Which makes me imagine they are either chiseling a statue or they are trying to tunnel their way into my apartment.

Am I annoyed? Sort of, I guess I’m half laughing at the imagery and half wishing the noise would stop. I am distracted by the incessant tunnelling hammering. That’s what is getting me, that I am allowing myself to be distracted and affected by this external activity. It is beyond my environment so why is it having such a huge impact on me?

It is just like in yoga classes, if you have had the fortune to experience, when a person, perhaps on a mat next to you is a REALLY LOUD BREATHER. Really, really, really loud. There is silence all around, except a sort of hum of coordinated movements and breathing… then this fantastically pervasive rasping sound emanating from the person next to you. Has that ever bothered you?

Or how about if the lady next to you in her struggle to do any postures is blustering and swearing away. “Oh geez. Oh !@#$%^&*#@#@***” on and on and on she goes for the entire ninety minutes. She hangs in there for the full class. She has paid her entry fee and by *&$#@ is she gonna get every last #$@&* minute out of that @#$%^&* session.

What about the self-appointed class joker (hey, why did you look at me for?) on the other side of the room, who takes it upon himself, everytime the teacher claims says “One more breath here” to do a countdown “Five, four, three, two aaaaaaaaaand ONEEEEEEEEEE!!!”

EVERY. TIME. No one laughs after the first time. But he persists.

Or what about the person who is just too sweaty? Or the showoff? Or the two ladies who won’t stop talking in the back? Or the person who doesn’t smell nice? Or the person who is wearing hardly anything and you can see right up their bandha?

The list could go on and on ad nauseum.

Well? Do you recognise these people? Do you think to yourself, “What classes do you attend, and why haven’t these people been thrown out?!”

Well, these people don’t just go to yoga classes. They also show up in your life. They’re in the supermarket, at your workplace, at uni, they’re on the bus with you, the train. Yep, sometimes they’re in the guise of your boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, wife, best friend, mum, dad, or child or brother, whatever.

And they’re doing something and it just bothers the bejeezers out of you.

What is a ‘bejeezer’? You don’t even know. You’re just so annoyed right now you’re creating new words. Oxford Dictionary look out, coming soon your way, get ready to take notes.  

Oh, and of course you’re not being nitpicky. It’s them. Right? It’s always them.

Do they have to do that? And in that way?*

YES THEY HAVE TO. And the more that it bothers you, the more they have to do that.

If you have ever experienced this then my suggestion is below. It seems to snap me out of my egg-cartoned mindset quick-smart. What works for me, might work for you. If you have never experienced this, well done, I guess you can carry on reading for entertainment?

Here’s the solution: Change your mind. Leave the world alone. Your world will evolve with time to fit the shape of your mind. You can make it as easy or as hard as you like, as I like to tell my students about our yoga practice. The choice is yours. You can struggle, or you can float. You do get to choose. You always have a choice.

Take a good look at these supposed ‘challengers’ and be glad they exist. They’re your true teachers. You will learn more from them than a workshop with a ‘celebrity’ yoga instructor. These are the teachers that teach you how to live. And they do it so effortlessly.

“Look at

all your fellow

humans and name

them accurately.

‘Brother.’

‘Sister.'”

– Erich Schiffman

I have met all sorts of teachers in yoga classes and I have to say over the years I still catch myself feeling exasperated and yes, distracted! It happens less and less but it still happens sometimes! Sometimes it’s the small, seemingly insignificant things that trip me up the hardest. I forget and think, “I am beyond that point. I love life. I love everyone. I’m fine.”

And then bang! I totally walk on my floaty cloud feelings into that trap my mind has set for me. I’m no longer practising yoga when that happens. I’m in somethingsomething-asana but it’s just a shape my body happens to be in. Because at that point, I have chosen to be more important than anyone else, more deserving to be there than anyone else and have decided that my comfort is more important than the comfort of anyone else, there in that class room. How egotistical does that sound when said out loud?

Instead of saying, “Oh, they’re so ANNOYING” but instead to phrase that as “I’m more important than they are.”

Yeesh! No, we have left yoga at that point. We’re just sweating and bending and stretching.

No yoga there. Just ego.

Oh, beware the ego trap! It is there all day everyday. There will never be a day when you reach nirvana and the trap is no longer set for you. You need to be on alert at all times. Be present in the moment. Live mindfully and completely in each moment. Question yourself.

And so, this is what I mean by

YOGA ALL DAY.

You do have to shout that a little at yourself, to get it through, past that ego trap. It has egg cartons painted in a hideous colour to distract you to the point of rage from realising that you have fallen deep inside. You can hear the sounds of life around you, but all you can see are those cartons. You are blind to the lesson in front of you.

There is far more to yoga than just yoga as I say. Our ability to do the splits, to touch our toes with our legs straight, or to stick one leg behind our head or stand on our head will not insulate us from the lessons of life. The ability to do any of those things are just acrobatic.

The goal of yoga is to cultivate an attitude of equanimity and one of compassion.

We’re all in this together, some of us swearing away, some of us panting loudly, some of us excitedly talking, some of us silently and we’re all chiseling away at this unshaped rock to make sense of our life purpose and find our way. When we look to our left and right and see we’re all trying in our different ways to do the same thing, live our lives any which way we can, the scales fall from our eyes, and the sounds and activities of life become what they always have been. Just a soundtrack of life.

Don’t get distracted by the soundtrack to your life.

Breathe. Practice your yoga all day. Know your fellow humans by name. Thank your teachers.

And between you and me, I don’t know what it is, maybe the renovations have finished upstairs, but I can’t hear any noise anymore. It is perfectly silent. All I can hear is the sound of my breathing and the sound of my fingers tapping on the keyboard.

Thank you thank you thank you. x

*Sometimes we are those very same people. We may not think it, but someone somewhere may be looking at us with disdain and think, “Oh go somewhere else, will ya?” How hurt would we feel if someone said to us that what we were doing was supremely irritating to them? Did we even aim our actions at them? Nope! We were just doing our own thing, right? Funny, that. Hmm.