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Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Slow Down Turbo! Yoga for Stress Relief

Sometimes you can't always make it to a Yoga Studio. I get it.
Below is a simple easy yoga practice you can do at home to help you relax, re-set your nervous system and release tension during stressful times. It is not fancy, strenuous or complicated. Simple. Easy. Relaxing. It might take you 20min tops. But your body and nervous system will respond to this little bit of loving attention you give to yourself and wonderful things will begin to happen!

Take. The. Time. It's better than fretting, worrying, ruminating or feeling awful. This is easy and you CAN do this. No one else will/can truly do it for you. The only way to deal with your suffering, your discontent, your to go straight into it...and then through to the other side.

Sooooo - turn your phone off! Dim the lights. Maybe play music you like. Create an uninterrupted space for yourself to relax, breathe and focus inward. This is short. It's simple. It's sweet.
Move with intention and breath.

Hold each posture for a minimum of 5 breaths before moving on to the next.
Breathe smoothly and evenly, through the nose, throughout your practice and let the breath lengthen...especially your exhalations. Use your exhales to soften and settle into each posture.

 Vaparita Karani (legs up the wall)
This is a great place to start. You may wish to place a pillow under your hips to elevate the lower body even more and help release pressure from the lower back.
Hold for 3 - 5 min.

Roll to one side to release. Take your time and move to your hands and knees.

Childs Pose - Balasana
Shift your hips back to your heels and rest forehead on the floor in Child's Pose.
Arms either overhead or at your sides.
Breathe 5 full breaths and settle the hips down with each exhale.

Come back onto hands and knees.
Wrists under shoulders, knees under hips.

 Cat/Cow Pose
 Start to move with your breath.
1 - Inhale: lift tailbone twd ceiling, draw shoulders back, look up
2 - Exhale: tuck tailbone under (twd floor), push into hands and drop head to really round spine.
Continue with the breath - 5-6 breaths 

Come up onto the knees in a kneeling position.
Gate Pose
Extend one leg. Reach up with opposite arm. Lean over your extended leg. Look up. Reach, breathe, lengthen your Side Body.
Hold 3-5 breaths - extending and lengthening.
Repeat on opposite side.

Downward Dog
Return to hands and knees. (hands a bit forward of shoulders now, fingers spread wide)
Lift hips toward ceiling. Press firmly into both palms. Let your head relax.
Bend your knees slightly if the legs are tight.
Press the chest back toward the front of your thighs.
Hold 5 full breaths.

 Return to Child's Pose for a few breaths.
Then transition onto your back.
Reclining Twist
Bring your knees (together) into your chest.
Open both arms on the floor at shoulder level.
Take a deep breath. When you exhale let your knees move to one side...hovering over the floor. 
Inhale - knees come back through center.
Exhale - knees flow to other side, hovering over floor.
Repeat, moving with the breath, 4-5 times on each side.
Perhaps hold the last one by letting the knees fall all the way to the floor and taking a few breaths there.

 Baddha Konasana - Bound Angle Pose
Bring the soles of your feet together. Let your knees open to the sides.
You might place pillows or folded blankets under your knees for support.
Relax your shoulders, close you eyes. Breathe and let your belly rise and fall with the breath.
Sink into gravity.
5-10 breaths

Relax onto your back and let yourself settle...
Savasana. The pose of sweet surrender.
Perhaps place a pillow under your thighs for supporting the lower back.
Relax and breathe here. 
Let your mind drift.
Let gravity pull your body into the Earth.
Spend a few minutes here simply observing what arises. 
Extend compassion towards yourself. Extend forgiveness to those who have wronged you.
Contemplate the notion that the Universe is ON YOUR SIDE. It WANTS to bring you positive wonderful experiences and people. The more you relax into that notion, and the easier it becomes to focus on what you want....beautiful things begin to come.
Release everything.


Friday, 13 June 2014

Who Cares? The reality of Grief & Depression.

The strangest part of Right Now is that I have come to the very real and very interesting realization that Grief is a very lonely place. Truly desolate - like what I imagine the desert somewhere in the Middle East to be like.(And I don't mean the beautiful Israel where you are Roxi Stolk). I mean the windy sand-storm desert where there is one.

Yet there are so many lovely people surrounding me. Some of them offering knowing smiles and gentle winks, others venturing in close enough for a quick, back patting hug. All of these small gestures mean so much to me right now. Sometimes they are what actually get me through the day. But I have never been more aware than I am right now that 98% of the time people are repulsed, afraid even, of depression. There truly is such a stigma associated with going through difficult times.

People just absolutely love to say things like~ "Hey if you EVER need ANYTHING don't hesitate to gimme a call." But then, when you actually do - you're often ignored or given a myriad of excuses why people are just far too busy with their own lives to really give you even a few moments of their time. I actually had one of my closest and dearest friends tell me, straight faced & emotionless, that my mood was "Reminding her of her ex husband" and that she was so happy right now that she "just can't be a part of it." I felt as if I had been punched in the stomach. I was appalled. And ashamed. Ashamed of my sadness. Ashamed that I wasn't "stronger" or "better" or something, anything, other than what I was in that moment.

I went home, alone, that evening feeling like I had done something wrong. Feeling like it was somehow unacceptable for me to be upset and unwarranted that I still miss my father and am trying desperately to adjust to a life without one of my best friends. And yet, totally unaware of how to "fix" this "problem" for myself. The confusion and loneliness that followed were excruciating. How is one supposed to pick themselves up from rock bottom when they are made to feel embarrassed about being there in the first place?! When did it become unacceptable to FEEL?!

Every morning when I scroll through Facebook I become increasingly infuriated at the endless posts of positivity and how life is just apparently so peachy keen for everyone. It perpetuates this shame that MY life isn't peachy right now. It's painful. Things aren't inspiring right now. They're terrifying. I barely recognize myself when I look in the mirror. Yet the impression I get is that I sure as hell better keep that to myself because nobody wants to have to "deal" with any negativity.

I watch as my friends drink and smoke themselves into oblivion every single day and make some of the stupidest decisions I've ever seen adults make - carrying on like the most important thing in their whole day is getting high and numbing every last sensation they may actually be feeling. Because - life is just one big party right? "Life is short" so you better get on board and numb your pain a.s.a.p before it affects anyone else.

I'm disgusted by how little support there is for  people who are truly struggling. Sure, I've been offered a host of anti depressant drugs that make me vomit every time I eat, dull my senses to the point of total numbness and make me pack on weight like I've never experienced. But is that all there is? Is that really the answer?

My yoga practice tells me to "be in the moment" and accept all that is happening. So - as I'm doing that what happens when I break down or get choked up while teaching a class?! It's been made perfectly clear to me that no one needs that or wants to witness it. Seems like a bit of a catch-22 doesn't it? We are all on our own journeys. Each of us grappling with so much of our own shit. Shit that we, and we alone, must wade through. And yet so much of what we are all dealing with is similar to each other. Every single one of us will experience the emptiness of loss and the cavernous vacuum of loneliness. No one is immune to it. So - why are we so reluctant to support each other? My yoga practice also is about Union. We are all ultimately in this together.

Good ol' Karma and the Law of Attraction are always endlessly at work, mixing up the perfect ingredients to feed us what we truly need for growth, expansion and the ultimate fulfillment of our Soul's destiny. So the next time a friend or associate comes to you with a heavy heart - be careful. Don't be so quick to judge and dismiss. Just because you can't handle, or better yet REFUSE TO ACKNOWLEDGE, your own emotions doesn't give you the right to shame someone else. Mark my words - you, too, will be there one day. No one is immune.