I’m back from India !

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I’ve been a little absent from writing recently but I feel inspired once again! I’m just back from India, having completed some more teacher training, and that country sure knows how to light up your soul.

i don’t know if it’s the pastel sunsets that sink into the Arabian Sea, all the tumeric and ginger I consumed, the kundalini yoga practices or the amazing group I was with, but I’m feeling better than ever!

I’m still trying to process the experience and I plan to write much more about it in the coming week or so.

Until then, I want to leave you with a favourite quote from my teacher Dr Gaurav Malik :

why live logically when you can live magically?

With love,

 

 

 

Smudging

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Find the energy of your room a little stagnant? Need to change the air and lift your vibes? Try a smudge stick.

I like smudging pre-yoga class in our studio. I find that it purifies the room, cleansing the energy of the space. I realise just how woowoo that sounds! But really, it’s a nice practice. It’s also something that many traditions have done for thousands of years.

I simply take sage, wrap it up in string and dry it, then when ready to smudge, I light the end of the bundle and let the smoke swirl. I take a few turns around the room, then put it out. Simple and super effective.

You can try any herbs you like, but sage, cedar, lavender or rosemary are pretty good choices.

Give it a go and let me know what you think ūüėČ

 

 

 

Why are yoga teachers always telling me to “surrender”?

You know this one. You’ve lost something and you are looking for it EVERYWHERE! You can’t understand why you cannot find it. “It’s got to be here somewhere!” you repeat to yourself, but alas, it’s gone. So after hours of searching, you give up. Maybe you even say a little prayer (not like a drop to your knees, dramatic rosary, but a casual “oh please let me find it” type thing)….

and then, it turns up. Out of the blue. In front of your nose. Here the whole time.

Whats going on?

The power of Surrender. 

In Yoga, I’m always instructing students to “Let Go” – I’m saying, “don’t push, don’t fight, it’s not about tension and pulling yourself down into a forward fold so you can kiss your knees for a second and then ping back up”. No, instead, in yoga, we use gravity and we relax. We let the body return to how it should be. We unlearn. We, yep you guessed it, surrender.

To surrender sounds very dramatic but there is no white flag waving wildly. It also shouldn’t be associated with giving in or quitting. Because it’s not that. Neither is it¬†a sudden disinterest or apathy. It is actually just the coming to the realisation that maybe your controlling and fighting and forcing isn’t working. It’s just another way forward.

When we relinquish control, we are sort of saying that we realise there is a power bigger than us. That we don’t have to do everything alone and that our own strength might not be enough. We start to trust in a bigger plan and a different outcome, knowing that maybe it is better for us.

When that object is lost and you say that little prayer and stop searching like a crazy person, the object, it appears. The control, it rarely works.

Of course, this is not to be confused with laziness – taking action, following your dreams, working hard – all of this is necessary and important. But if you find yourself forcing, try to find the fun in it all again. Relax and let go. The outcome will be even better than you imagined.

Whos seen that wonderfully cheesy film Under the Tuscan Sun? I love the line where the extravagant woman in her fancy hat explains that as a child she would search and search for lady beetles in the garden. Eventually, having found none, she would get tired and fall asleep in the grass… and when she woke up, those pesky Lady beetles would be climbing all over her. It’s really a beautiful analogy.

So, what are you fighting and struggling for? Is there anything you are trying to control the outcome of?

Surrender it up. Let it go. Pray to whatever or whoever you believe in. And watch what you want be found.

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Your life design

When you look at people you admire, (or maybe are jealous of), do you believe they got that life by chance? Did it just fall in their laps? Are they way luckier than you?

Nope. They designed it that way. 

The people that work cool jobs, travel the world, have an amazing group of friends, look really happy all the time, get offered amazing opportunities… they are actively choosing it. All of it.

And you can too.

It’s called taking responsibility. Your happiness is your problem. You get to make life awesome. Actually, YOU are the only one that can.

This is not to say that awful things don’t happen – they do. Some people hurt others, things go wrong, shit happens and maybe it’s unavoidable.. ¬†But, what you do next, how you bounce back, the choices you make and your view of the world – that is all up to you.

You can decide to be the most enthusiastic person in the room. You can decide to be your most vibrant self. You can decide to smile and not let anyone dampen that. You can choose to say yes to opportunities and trust that the universe has got your back.

Or, you can be a Debbie downer. Which is easier. That way you can make excuses and be judgemental.. It takes little energy and no courage.

But it’s not going to give you a positive, flourishing life.

So I challenge you, starting today, choose how you want life to look. Choose how you want to feel.

And then be prepared to get it. 

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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

 

 

 

 

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 Рshould 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!

That pesky Ego

I got out the door, baby sleeping and mother in law in place, to a vinyasa yoga class. The second class i have done in almost a year. A year! Its a rare luxury these days with the little man so as soon as my belle-mere told me that she was coming, I booked myself in, ready to feel those happy yoga vibes.

Thirty minutes in and I’m sweaty and shaking. It was great to be back on the mat, but seriously, I chose the freakin’ hardest class! Loads of handstand prep, birds of paradise, chakrasanas and of course chaturangas… Hard core, advanced, power yoga.

And you know what made it worse? The teacher was this beautiful, strong, perfect in every way, Australian beauty. Damn it! My ego was having a field day.

It really didn’t take long for my mind/my ego to flare up with all sorts of comments and excuses. I was there, unable to do another upward facing dog and transition gracefully, telling myself, “well, I’ve had a baby, of course its hard” and “just because you are a teacher doesn’t mean you have to be perfect at every pose…” etc, etc. The voice in my head, the bitchy one, went as far as to say “well the teacher is ex-gymnast, of course she can stand on her hands all day”. “Yoga isn’t just about handstands”. “Well, she is short, and everybody knows its easier for short people”. Yep, super classy stuff.

I got about three quarters of the way through the class before I decided to kick the pity party out. I got to a point where I just started smiling because that mean little voice, it needed to be called out on its BS. The best way i’ve found to do that is to laugh. Who cares that my bird of paradise looked more like an awkward vulture. Because really, does any of it matter?

The more we challenge the body, the more we challenge the mind. I loved the class for kicking my arse and for kicking my egos butt too. Its so important to find the separation between your mind with its crazy, fearful, “I’m not good enough” thoughts and the real, true you.

Because, you are NOT your thoughts. And if we let them, our minds love to run all the best excuses and negative thoughts it can dream up. The mind is basically a bitchy school girl.

So, friends, be aware of what stories your mind/ your ego makes up and remember to do your best to smile at it. You are enough. There is no comparison. Just do your best.

LOVE xxx

“Now is not the time”

Dont you just love this phrase? Its the perfect excuse for pretty much anything. “I’d love to donate money to your amazing cause, but now is not a good time for me”. “I’d love to live overseas, but now is not the time”. “I’d love to get healthy, but now just isn’t the time”. “I’ll do it when….. ” aaaand insert every well laid plan here.

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I distinctly remember using this very phrase before I finally, and a couple of years later, decided to do my yoga teacher training. It was easy to blame finances, relationships and lifestyle. These were perfectly good and socially acceptable reasons for not doing my training. The “now is not the time” was happily suggesting that I was seriously considering doing it, but for the very responsible reasons, I wasn’t able to do it yet. I was waiting to get x,y and z in position first.

The truth? I was scared.

Fear is so often, if not always, the reason for our hesitations. For me, I was afraid that I wasn’t good enough, flexible enough or spiritual enough (don’t you love that one?) to be a Yoga Teacher. I had the “who the hell are you?” talk with myself so many times, that eventually I got bored of it and did the teacher training anyway. Thank goodness I did.

See, heres the thing – ¬†its easy to use the “now is not the time” excuse. But, if not now, then when?

When all we have is now. 

I realize I harp on about Mindfulness. About living in the present. But I do so for one ultimate reason. I believe with every fibre of my being that it is the secret to a happy life. A full life. A satisfied life.

When we are mindful, we dont mourn for the past. We don’t make all the deluded plans to control the future. We appreciate what we have got and we actually acknowledge it as it is happening too.

If there is anything you are putting off, then just stop a second and have a little look into why that is. Maybe you don’t have the finances/time/flexibility etc to do that course/have those kids/start that business etc yet but are you actively working towards it? Or are you using this perfect excuse to cover up your fears?

The only time we have is now. And some how the most daring acts always seem to come off. So be courageous. You got this.