Mini Yoga Retreats in St Germain en Laye

I wanted to tell you about my weekend because it was just so nice.

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I, along with my friend and fellow wellness colleague, cook book author and health coach Annamaria Formentini, held a mini retreat at Life Space.

We called our retreat: Nourish and Flourish to represent a Sunday afternoon of Yoga and healthy eating with snacks from Annamarias newly published book.

Our lovely 10 participants made their way to St Germain en Laye and were introduced to Life Space. We had a great mix of nationalities, ages, genders and backgrounds. A really sweet group. We started with some herbal tea and a little introduction before grabbing our mats and heading for the park.

The weather was utterly lovely. On days where the sun shines, the park becomes a hive of activity – dog walkers, sunbathers, frizbee players and the like. We picked a sweet spot with a great view of Paris to set up our mats. The breeze was just enough to keep us feeling fresh and the sun was shining on our faces – a sensation we have all really been missing here in Paris!

The class was a sweet mix of long holds and gentle flows. It was a Sunday after all. The theme of the class was just to feel really, really good. We had a range of levels and backgrounds in the class, so options were given and everyone really seemed to enjoy themselves. It looked like the passersby were jealous all of the high vibes 😉

After the class, we strolled back to Life Space for “gouter” – afternoon tea. Annamaria had prepared a few surprises for us! We had banana and tahini muffins, a savoury carrot bread and the most surprisingly delicious beetroot chocolate squares. Annamaria answered our food related questions, like how we can happily cut down on sugar and what alternatives to add to our food to make it better for us. I think we all left with some really great tips to try. For me, I’m swapping out my white sugar for coconut sugar (who knew?!) and adding beets to anything chocolate related!

The afternoon flew by – We all left feeling lighter, taller, happier and with a little sun kissed glow on our faces.

I’m already excited for the next one 🙂

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A little tale about bread

On Friday mornings I teach Yoga. Its my favourite start to the day. After class (in pursuit of balance after all) I like to trot over to one of the many Boulangerie’s in town for a cheeky croissant or pain au chocolate. The perks of life in France.

This particular Friday, I popped across to the navy blue shop front, on the street opposite. I eyed off the pain au chocolate – i had made my choice. “Je prends un pain au chocolate SVP”.

The Boulanger, a tough looking Breton, apron wrapped around his waist, confronted me with a “MADAME! Ce n’est pas un pain au chocolat, c’est beaucoup mieux! C’est une chocolatine!” He went on to rant about all the high quality ingredients in this innocent little pastry, about the process to make it, about how it needs to be given the correct name as it is not just a simple chocolate croissant but so much more.

I was shocked! A little insulted, I took my pastry back to the Yoga studio and I had a little whinge to the girls. What was that guys problem?!

Ok, admittedly the chocolatine was really good. Excellent, actually. Damn, how was I going to be proud and not return? My ego was hurt and i wanted to show him!

Worse than this, I complained to a couple more people about my experience, friends and neighbours. Hilariously, each person I picked to complain to, they too were huge fans of this Boulanger’s bread. So much so, that they practically gave me the same spiel! They told me “but, Rebecca, don’t you know that only the best restaurants in St Germain use Cedrics bread?!” and “He goes to the flour mill to choose his own flour and grinds it himself!”, “He is a purist”, “there is no better”… etc etc.

My ego and pride was quickly deflating.

And then, I got it. Cedric the Boulanger, he doesn’t care if I don’t love him, but he does care that I respect his job and that I respect his product. This man is the definition of passionate. He wasn’t there to make friends. He was there to make truly great bread.

And now, ego aside, I respect Cedric completely. What was me vowing to never return, has become respect for the man that cares THAT much about his bread.

To live with such conviction, to let the results speak for themselves and to give your absolute all, regardless of what people think – thats courage. I admire that, and will take the lesson to be a little more like my favourite baker.

(and, Tomorrow is Friday 🙂 Chocolatine day – YES!! )

Since when did Retreats get cool?

I went to an all girls Catholic school in Sydney. We had uniforms, nuns and daily special intentions after our prayers. We had special masses and flower crowns. There were singing and dancing competitions, sports and theatre, careers events, and debating. Every opportunity to grow and shine. I loved school.

One of the rights of passage when we were around 16 years old was ‘Retreat’.

With all the great activities that our school provided, Retreat seemed kind of daggy. A little uncool. Even the name didn’t inspire us. In earlier years we had camps with ropes courses and canoeing. But this, this was more religious, more passive. We knew we were going to have to do bonding games, write prayers and talk about morals.

Like most things in life where you have limited expectations, it turned out to be wonderful.

Time out to think. Time out to connect. Time out to grow.

 

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Life moves so fast now (or maybe it always did). We don’t even properly look people in the eyes. Crying is looked down on. We don’t express our emotions unless we are safe behind the wheel of our cars and then it can be a little extreme. What I like about a Retreat is that it calls stop on all this.

Retreat encourages you to regard the present. To take stock and reenergize for whats to come next. To have real, in depth conversations about about what truly matter to you.

Have you been to a retreat? What did you think?

Unfortunately week long breaks in a beautiful natural location is not always achievable. So instead, here are a few tips to bring that retreat feeling into your everyday life:

  1. Start Journalling – Writing down your thoughts and feelings, drawing little pictures or scribbling yourself notes can give you the space and time needed to reflect. A moment to check in with your feelings can help you to know when to stop, when to rest, when to speak up and when to let your hair down.
  2. Turn out the lights and light a candle as you get ready for bed – A small ritual like dimming the lights and reflecting on a flame can help you to unwind and relax, making deep sleep come easier.
  3. Bicarb soda bath – Move over Epsom salts! Bicarb soda in the bath will help your muscles to relax and your body to heal. It feels amazing.
  4. Write a prayer – It doesn’t have to be religious or meant for anyone but yourself. Instead it will act as an intention. Describe what you are grateful for and then ask for what you want. Write it down and keep it in a safe place. Bonus points for doing this on or around the new moon.
  5. Connect with like minded people – Maybe you want to join a soul circle or create one yourselves. A soul circle is a simple meeting of people, seated in a circle, maybe lighting a candle or creating a little alter, and then having a chat together. You can chose a topic you wish to discuss, give your own tales of times you have overcome difficulty, discuss goals and wishes for the future, or simply hold space for each other and meditate collectively. Try to really see each other by maintaining eye contact. Be vulnerable and let people really see you – warts and all.

 

Have you got your own ways of being a retreat like feeling into your everyday? I would love to hear all about it!

R x

 

 

 

 

Being courageous is hard for a people pleaser like me

I have admitted it before and I’ll admit it again. I love pleasing people. I’m a total people pleaser. I want everyone to feel good, all of the time. I don’t want to rock the boat. My mum taught me that…But its a habit that I’m really trying to grow out of.

I guess I like being a People Pleaser because it makes me feel warm and fuzzy. But as time passes and I mature a little more into who I truly am, I realise that being a people pleaser is not only a little lame, but, at times, dishonest.

Let me explain my current predicament.

For the past few months I have offered my Yoga class at a very low price. Like half of the going rate. It suited me to not ask for the full amount – I wanted students to come. I wanted to make people feel comfortable. I was afraid that if I asked for more, they would say no. They would challenge me. Well, I have reached a point now where students are coming and the class is growing. Which is great!

But I have to tell you, arriving at this point always terrified me…. because if people start coming and my room becomes full, then I will have to put my price up.

Welcome to my current predicament – undoubtedly a great problem to have. The Studio has expanded and we are now offering an incredible unlimited class pass to yoga, meditation and wellness workshops – its an amazing deal. Students want this. The market is there. But, of course, it is not free. Investment in wellness is an investment in living your best life. Money creates the bond – the deal with yourself that THIS is truly important. So, a price had to be set.

And now with said increased set price, I have to actually start telling people about it. Argh!  Do you know how long it took me to be able to get the courage up to say I can no longer offer cheapy cheap classes? One month. One whole month! Gab would pep talk me before walking out the door every week. And I’d come back in and say “I couldn’t dooooo it”. He was a little mad with me. I was even a little mad with me. Why is this so hard?

And then finally I got it out. I was nervous. Can you guess what the response was? Did people throw their yoga mats at me in disgrace? Did they tutt and make faces?  Was I berated for the terrible news? Nope. And actually the opposite happened – everybody saw the value in the new program and found the price completely reasonable.

What in the world was I so afraid of?!

I am realizing now that people are happy to pay for what they deem valuable. Health and wellness, is so valuable. And when people find a teacher they appreciate, they will make their best efforts to continue to come along.

I am realizing now that I am not selling dodgy cars or faulty products. I am offering my students something I believe whole heartedly in. I believe in the power of yoga. I believe it can change your life. I know meditation makes people happier. Manifesting what you want works. Im not selling anything. It sells itself. To those that want it.

So guys, I vow to be more courageous. To share what I have to share. To shine my light. Without fear of the backlash. I need to learn to have more faith in people. To speak my truth, even if my voice shakes.

Can you relate? Got any advice for me?

 

Love, R x

http://life-space.fr/infinity-club/

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Its time.

I’m talking to you. Yes, you. That idea you’ve been dreaming about? Might feel like just a little idea right now, but these things can grow.

Its probably about time you let it.

There’s this quote. Its from a baseball movie, but whatever, I like it anyway. Its says “If you build it, they will come” and I am learning that this is true.

Friends, family, loved ones – they might tell you that it’s possible. That you’d be great. None of that matters unless you start trusting yourself. But don’t worry, its the hardest part. Once you realize it, and start, things start happening too. The snowball picks up snow.

Why am I telling you this? Because, because, I have spent too much time doubting and fussing and getting all perfectionist about everything. (#progressnotperfection – try to remember that).

Anyway, this week, I finally realized that after almost two years (and several life events) I finally have a Yoga class that is full and its time to expand. To offer more. To create more and let people come. To promote it. To actually say to people “hey, come to my class!”

You have no idea how hard that was for me. It might be hard for you to?

Don’t let it be hard. Create it and they will come. They have to know about it first, but once they do, they will come.

I tell you what, I have taught my fair share of one or two person classes in these last 2 years. Waiting for other students to arrive, that don’t, so you teach with all the gusto you have but really feel a little sad that nobody wanted to come. And then, one day, they do. They come, enjoy and next time maybe even bring a friend.

Its ok to start at the bottom. In the fine words of Drake “Started from the bottom, now you’re here”. Everybody starts somewhere.

I could give you a list of motivational quotes like “doubt kills more dreams than failure ever does” etc.. But thats not going to do a damn thing, unless you start to realize that your light is worth sharing.

Please, share it.

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Set intentions

My favourite moment of class is the Sankalpa, the intention setting. A moment in time where your awareness drills down on a quality you want more of. A quality like more presence, more patience, more confidence, more love.

A Sankalpa is a wish, but then so much more than that. Its a prayer with grounding, with an earth energy and with steps forward.  Its really a seed, that will grow tall and strong – should you nurture it enough.

The time to set the Sankalpa – well, you know that moment where the mind has been silenced, and the breath becomes king. When your posture is confident and your body is calm – that there – yeah, thats the time.

And it can be as simple as this:

“I choose to stay present”

“I have crazy self love”

“I am courageous”

Then, throughout the class, with prompting or not, you remind yourself. And you cultivate this wish, this prayer, and it begins to come more naturally. It begins to feel so real. The brain/body doesn’t know the difference between something you have created and something that is external, should your internal dialogue be so positive and motivating. Your talk will become your walk.

Anyone attempting crow pose that says to themselves “I am courageous” will hold it. High and strong.

At the end of class, I offer my students the option of taking their intention out into the world with them. Yoga on the mat is a practice for life. Being present outside of the class, for example, leads to a more mindful life. Mindful = happiness. Of that I am sure.

So set intentions. Repeat them. Love them. Believe them. They become your reality.

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How to beat financial stress

Happy New Year everyone! What a great year 2017 will be for all of us. I am excited for bigger, better and more beautiful things. I really do believe in the good things coming.

Gab, Ollie and I have started this new year in Australia, road tripping along the east coast. So far its been a great adventure, with many meet ups with friends, plenty of wining and dining and exploring the beautiful coastline. We have been experiencing so much gorgeousness; the countryside, the koalas, the never ending beaches and generally having a great time.

The reason we are enjoying this holiday so much is because of the preparation that went into it. I’m talking months of working, saving, quiet nights at home and compromises to get here. We had our mortgage to think about, bills to pay, a baby to support and tax to plan for. The last thing we wanted for this trip was to think about was how much we were spending, nor whether we could cover the mortgage when we got back. As a yoga teacher and a gardener, we only get paid the hours we work, so no work equals no pay making planning a must! There is nothing worse than those sleepless nights that come when our finances are not in order.

For no particular reason, money is not usually a topic covered on Plume Yoga. However as form of energy, an incredibly grounded one at that, it is important that we understand it and manage it to the best of our abilities. Because when we don’t, the stress that comes can be incredibly destructive. I have recently learnt more about this when contacted by Jenny, a lady who is passionate about helping adults beat financial stress after family related financial issues lead her to discover the power of yoga and meditation.

Jenny explains that financial stress can strike at any time of life however it is common in our thirties and forties due to paying off mortgages and supporting young families. The effects of this stress can be both physical and mental, with symptoms such as insomnia, chest pains and lethargy.

So to combat financial stress, especially after the expenses of the holidays, Jenny gives us her top five tips to manage money related worry.

Meditation:
The aim of meditation is to find inner peace through connection with your own self. Practicing meditation does not have to involve uncomfortable positions such as lotus. Instead, simply find a quiet and comfortable place to sit and close your eyes. By concentrating solely on taking long, slow breaths the body and mind begin to calm down and stress can slip away.

Yoga:
As we go about life, bad experiences, hurt feelings and stressful events can get caught in our physical bodies and never properly released. This in turn can create illness, injury and the suboptimal running of our bodies. Certain poses in our asana practice allow this negativity to exit the body. Camel pose, for example, is a great position to release stress and allow the body to open up. A regular practice encourages a more supple, strong, physical body and a more in tune mind, which helps us to deal with stressful situations, in real time, more effectively.

Seek professional help:
We don’t always have all the answers and at times of stress, seeing the picture clearly can often be even more challenging. Seeing a financial professional, understanding your options and making a plan of attack can reduce stress almost immediately. There are many resources available, like this one.

Eat well:
When we are stressed, we are at a higher risk of disease and injury. Eating a healthy diet allows the body to ward off infections, produce more energy, improves concentration and allows us to feel a higher level of wellbeing. So cut down on the bad fats, eat more fruit and veg and be aware of how much protein your body is receiving.

Exercise:
If you are not already active, ease into regular and gentle exercise, building it up as your body becomes fitter and stronger. Walk several times per week, or try cycling or running. It is great aerobic fitness and an effective way to reduce stress. Gentler activities such as Qi Gong, Tai Chi or dancing can also be very stress relieving.

 

What do you find helps to reduce financial stress? Please leave us a comment below!

 

 

Disclaimer:
Jenny is sharing her own individual advice and views. This is not an advertisement or the opinion of the owner of this site. In saying that, Plume Yoga full supports healthy, active lifestyles with as little stress as possible!