Categories
Grace's Blog

What’s your super-power?

How often do we rely on external factors to bring us joy?

Think about your 5 senses and how often we are stimulated by them. After all, it’s how we obtain information – through our eyes, ears, tongue, skin and nose.

Now what if you removed as much stimulation of your senses as possible – like sitting alone, closing the eyes, in silence, no music, no guided words spoken.

Just you alone, with your breath.

What happens?

We have to face our thoughts. The ebb and flow of what makes us happy, uncomfortable, at ease, angry… whatever it is. We must face ourselves. As we are.

We delve deep into calm and the storm of our mind.
Connecting to the internal world, helps us rely less on the external world.

We begin to find joy and contentment deep within us that can’t help but radiate to those around us.

And when asked “what’s your super power?”, you can’t help but reply “I have found my sixth sense”.

Categories
Grace's Blog

Hardships make us grow in compassion

Hardships make us grow in compassion.

When we experience difficult times, we come out of them with greater compassion for others.

I was raised in a home where we didn’t take our life for granted.

Family in Lebanon were living underground due to war. We would exchange videos via VHS and I would watch in awe at how happy everyone was despite such challenging living conditions.

I would talk to cousins, uncles and aunties whom I had never met before.

But there was a sense of knowing who they were. My parents instilled in me and my siblings the importance of showing love for our family even though all we knew of them were their names.

I never understood it then; why my parents enforced this kinship.

But now as the years pass me, I realise how profound this was.

Building strong connection with family is our lifeline.

Protecting each other was all they had and all they knew.

Living a daily life based on survival instincts made them stronger as a family and relationships were more important than material possessions.

In modern times, we have more than we need or can accommodate for.

We build bigger houses to put more things in.

We hire storage spaces just to store more stuff that we don’t use or need.

We shop, shop and shop to try and satiate the craving within us for connection.

Connection to love.

If all we have is within us, then why do we seek it outside ourselves?

When we look around our home, do we think “wow look at all that I have. I have far too much!”

Or do we have a sense of dissatisfaction with the way things are?

We desire more because we don’t feel satisfied with the present reality. So we think we need something else to fill us up.

We continue to try and fill a void that no material object will ever fulfill.

My parents grew up in Lebanon before migrating to Australia.

They lived each day with unspoken gratitude. Gratitude to be alive.

They were grateful for every meal on their plate, no matter how simple.

My mum shared one bed between her other 4 siblings and the bedroom was the living room and the kitchen. It was one room. That was their life as children. They had few possessions.

But damn did they love each other.

My dad lost his mother at a young age and so early in life he and his older brother assumed responsibility for their younger siblings to help provide food and shelter to them.

Siblings were closer than they ever – seeking to protect, love and look out for the other.

No material possessions can buy this.

Perhaps that’s why my parents are so compassionate. My parents were always the first to give and still are.

If they saw a random person on the street who appeared in need of help, they would help them.

This is the kind of generosity I grew up seeing in my household.

The generosity and compassion my parents have, comes from a heart that has seen and lived difficult times.

They know what it’s like to live on very little. What it’s like to have almost nothing except cling to life itself.

Knowing what my parents went through makes me appreciate my life and all the things that I can so easily take for granted.

Compassion means to “feel with” and it’s so easy to feel with someone else’s hardship when you have experienced hardship yourself.

It is a gift growing older, as we have the privilege and opportunity to grow in compassionate wisdom.

 

Categories
Grace's Blog

Practice, Practice, All is Here

Practice, Practice, All is Here..

Practice Practice

We often hear the famous yoga directive, “practice, practice, all is coming..” 

What is it exactly that is coming? 

Or is it already here?

We often see our lives as very goal-directed.

We plan future short term and long term goals (which of course are very good to do) and our yoga practice can often reflect this.

Do we come onto the mat to enjoy the present moment, our posture, our body, our breath…right here.

Or are we always thinking about how “I will be better at this after more practice” or “I can’t wait to do the next pose…”

Always thinking forward.

In the Ashtanga world, it’s what pose are you up to? Which pose is next? Constantly driven by what is coming next.

But in fact, the practice is right here.

It is what it is, right now.

So do we practice to get somewhere?

Or do we practice to be here.

Because there is no where else to be except where we are right now.

In this very moment.

Categories
Grace's Blog

How do we still the mind in meditation?


Meditation is often referred to as the stilling of the mind.  But what does that mean? How do you make your mind still?  When I describe meditation, I often liken it to a moving train.  Our thoughts are our thoughts – they will always be there. Coming and going, doing their thing.  To cultivate a calm or still mind, think of your thoughts like a passing train.  The train (thought) travels along. It stops at a station to allow passengers to enter or exit. Then without hesitation, it journeys on to the next stop.  When a thought enters your mind, allow it to enter. Then just like it stops at a station and lets passengers off, allow your thought to exit. And then move on.  Another thought will arise… and then do the same.  Allow it to exist just as quickly as it entered.  You see, when we hold onto a thought, we start building associations with it, to do lists and emotions all come along for the ride… we can begin with one thought and then get completely lost in it and not even remember what the initial thought was! But if we see ourselves as observers and watch the thought just pass us by, we avoid getting caught up in it.  The mind stays focused and calm and we allow the next thought to enter and exit once again… Meditation is a practice. It is a discipline.  It takes patience and perseverance to become better skilled at it.  And no meditation is the same – one session will be different to the next. Also, teaching us to avoid attachment to a feeling or outcome.  Can you sit still for 5 minutes and practice observing your thoughts – coming and going like a train passing by a station?  What has your meditation experience been like?

Categories
Grace's Blog

A Proven Yoga Technique for Better Sleep

A common complaint that I hear as a yoga teacher from my students is that they have trouble sleeping.

I am going to show you a proven yoga technique that has helped so many improve their ability to fall asleep as well as improve their quality of sleep.  Keep reading to find out more.

Often the biggest reason for lack of sleep is that the mind struggles to rest.  A mind that is busy or anxious can keep us awake and the physical body struggles to rest.

Sleep is particularly challenging during pregnancy.  Not only are there physical challenges to sleeping well due to a growing belly and the common aches and pains around the body increase; the mind can often be busy working over-time processing the life change that lies ahead.

There are yoga techniques that can assist you to fall asleep quicker and have better quality sleep.  Before I share these, firstly, have a think about your current bedtime routine.

Do you have a sleep routine that you follow every night?

Here are some healthy sleeping tips to consider:
1.  Find a sleep schedule that works for you where you sleep and wake up at a similar time each day that helps to regulate your body clock

2.  Find a relaxing bedtime ritual away from screen time, bright lights, stimulants like caffeine and energising activities.

3.  Move your body daily (energising yoga sequences in the morning and then relaxing yoga postures at night to help induce deep sleep).  A yoga pose to aid sleep will be explored below.

4.   Ensure your bedroom is an optimal environment for sleep (comfortable temperature, no lights, no distracting sounds or noises)

So now think of your own bedtime routine…

  • What do you currently do that works/isn’t working?
  • What can you change to help improve your sleep?

Now that you have considered some habits around your sleep routine, let me share with you this simple, yet highly effective yoga posture that helps calm the mind and can allow you to drift off to sleep as well as improve the quality of your sleep.

The posture is called Viparita Karani which is translated as ‘Legs up the Wall’ pose and it helps reverse the blood flow towards the heart by raising the legs as a way to calm the nervous system.

To find out step by step details of this pose, watch the video here.

This video is of me explaining how to adopt a simple yoga ritual that can help calm the mind to rest and settle into deep sleep.

Legs up the wall pose increases blood circulation in the legs, as well as lymph circulation, and helps improve thyroid function. 

It is important to note that lying flat on your back for long periods of time is contraindicated in pregnancy therefore it is important to elevate the hips with a cushion or pillow (as shown in the video) and it is also important not to stay in this pose for too long if you are more than 30 weeks pregnant (more than 5 minutes).

However, if your baby is in the breech position, this can be a great pose to encourage your baby to move to an optimal birth position; you may therefore like to do it a few times for short periods during the day.

This pose can be very beneficial during pregnancy as it can help with swollen feet and varicose veins.  Elevating the legs allows blood to flow away from the legs and relieve swollen and tired feet.

Be sure to watch the video so you can safely get into the pose and hear all my useful tips.

Categories
Grace's Blog

Which Guna are you in your workplace?

This is Tuan, Luuly and their daughter Olivia.

Tuan and his wife run a gorgeous little vegan Vietnamese cafe in Melbourne, Olivia Spring.  It is my absolute favourite place to eat lunch when I have some child-free time.

Sometimes when you go to a busy café or restaurant, the people working there are rushing around attending to the needs of their customers and often rushing around the place.

Not Tuan and Luuly.

They both have an incredibly calming presence.  An energy around them that is balanced and mindful around each other, their staff and customers.

They do everything mindfully.

I watch Tuan make coffees, serving food, opening and closing cupboard doors… always calm, always mindful with his posture, the way he carries things and puts them down.  The way he speaks is never too quiet or too loud.  Always calm and present.

I watch Luuly and she is never rushed and never slow.

She works at a calm, perfect speed and is able to keep everyone happy.

I watch how they talk to their daughter Olivia while she hangs around and they’re always so patient and calm with her.

I watch them in awe.

Tuan and Luuly are sattva personified.

In yogic terms, sattva means a state of harmony or balance.

It is said that the world is made up of three main qualities that are found in nature.

  1. Sattva – balance, harmony
  2. Tamas – inertia, inactivity
  3. Rajas – energy, action, change, movement

All three of these gunas are important and sometimes we may need one guna more than the other.

If we have a deadline to meet at work, we may be full of rajas.

If we have just had a big weekend, we may require more tamas.

Finding a healthy tension between the three gunas achieves a state of equilibrium and balance.

Tuan and Tuuly, to me, epitomise the definition of sattva.
They have a harmonious presence – balanced and calm.
It is not often you see someone in their place of work in this calm and balanced state.

Visualise yourself in your workplace.  What do you think your energy is like?

Are you more tamasic? – lacking motivation, activity and initiative…

Are you more rajastic? – always on the move, running from one thing to the other, constantly working, planning and desiring more…

Are you more sattvic? – a balanced presence that works hard but remains calm in adversity and mindful when working with others…

I know for me, I have a tendency to be rajasic…always planning and organising one thing after another with a million ideas in my head that I want to take action on immediately.  I use my yoga practice and meditation to help keep me in balance so I find a sense of sattva and tamas to help balance out the fire within me!

How about you?

Which guna do you think you are more of by nature?

Categories
Grace's Blog

It’s Growing on me, mum

A few months ago, we started our kids on Taekwondo lessons. My son wasn’t overly keen, but obliged. After a couple weeks, he started complaining and said he no longer wanted to go.

He said that Taekwondo lessons were his least favourite thing to do in the entire week (probably because it required the most discipline!). He was pretty firm about it and wanted to quit. 

I told him that I respected his feelings about it but we won’t be quitting so soon. We will try it for a couple months and if he still hated it, we can find a different sport he would enjoy instead.

He reluctantly agreed.

So last weekend, out of the blue, my son says to me “Mum, I love Taekwondo. It’s growing on me.”

He didn’t say “like Taekwondo”. He said he “loves” it. Amazing!

We had a chat about how we may not instantly enjoy something and that the benefits may not seem evident right away but it’s always worth giving our best effort before deciding that this may not be for us.

He agreed and said he was glad that he stayed.

I couldn’t help but relate this to yoga (because hey, everything relates to yoga in my head 😄).

Some people come to their first yoga class and either love it or aren’t so sure about it. Some even really dislike it.

The ones who love it always come back.

The ones who aren’t so sure about it, either return to another class to work through their doubts or they’re never to be seen again.

I had a student a few months ago attend her first yoga class in my pregnancy yoga class. I could see she was struggling through it and it wasn’t quite what she expected.

She said she wasn’t sure about it but her gut told her that it’s good for her so she wants to give it an honest go.

She returned and continued to practice pregnancy yoga for months to follow.

Her posture changed.
Her attitude changed.
Her mindset about her upcoming birth experience changed.

She told me that the most powerful thing about the classes were the mindset challenges and topics that prepared her for birth.

I’m always so pleased when someone like this student persists even when the first class wasn’t exactly what she thought it would be.

Truth me told – I didn’t love my first yoga class!
But something inside me told me that I needed to return.

Sometimes things aren’t love at first sight.
Sometimes things aren’t easy to begin with and require work and discipline.

Do you quit something because it’s too hard or you don’t enjoy it first go?

Or do you give it a good honest attempt to see if it grows on you?

Meditation can be like that.
You most possibly may hate it at first.

But with practice it can certainly become something that you completely fall in love with!

Have you persisted in something in life that you didn’t enjoy at first but then turned out to love it?

Categories
Grace's Blog

Having fun in the day to day…

I went ice skating the other day. I haven’t skated since I was probably a teenager.
It brought back some fond memories of my childhood!

I couldn’t believe the fun I was having. I felt this lightness in my body that I haven’t felt in a long time. I realised that this overwhelming feeling I was experiencing was FUN!

I can be so serious sometimes with all my jobs and responsibilities that I feel overwhelmed with in my daily life.
The wife hat.
The mother hat.
The teacher hat.

I practice yoga because I love it, but I wouldn’t always consider it to be “fun” necessarily. Although it’s my outlet and I can’t imagine life without it, I find it can be quite a serious practice.

It’s also a very disciplined practice.

Perhaps that’s why I love handstands and challenging arm balances so much, as I feel I can have some fun with them.

After the ice skating session, I realised how good it felt to do something that wasn’t so structured.

Something that took me away from the work of managing the household.

Gosh, I was just having fun!

Since that day, I have made a commitment to myself to try and let loose and have fun in my daily life more.

I don’t need to go skating to do this of course. I can find opportunities in the day to day to find enjoyment.

Whether it’s making jokes with the kids, singing songs or dancing with them.

Dancing is such a great way to increase endorphins (feel good hormones) and just have fun!

Your body can express itself through movement and not worry about being so structured or disciplined.

Do you make time to dance?

Did you have fun today?

What do you do for fun? 🙂

Categories
Grace's Blog

Silence the mind to hear the voice within

Silence.

Have you tried it?

I mean, really tried it?

You’d be surprised how much we fill our days up with noise.

Music or radio in the car.

Podcasts or audio books to stimulate us while commuting or cooking.

Phone calls or text messages to catch up with friends when we have some space in our day.

Social media checks throughout the day.

Instead of all this, have you tried taking time to relish in the silence?

Perhaps when you’re driving, you could just drive in silence (if you don’t have kids yelling in the back seat .

Or when you’re cooking or commuting to work, enjoy the time with your mind instead of trying to fill it up with more ‘stuff’.

Silence is an internal cleanse.

It allows us to hear what is within us more clearly.
It allows us to resolve things on our own and tap into our inner wisdom.

When silent, you can hear the ebb and flow of the thoughts.

You may also pay more attention to the activity you’re doing.

If driving, you can hear the indicator clicks…
If cooking, you can hear the sounds arise as you shuffle things around or chop veggies on your board….

I really enjoy working on my computer with no background music or TV playing.

When I vacuum or mop the house, or fold the washing, I like there to be silence. It give me an opportunity to hear my thoughts and what is going on for me internally.

Our lives are filled with so much noise, that I relish in these opportunities to give my mind the rest that it needs.

And I always feel much clearer and lighter for it.

What are your experiences?
Do you resonate with this?

Categories
Grace's Blog

A small amount of gratitude… changes your world

Do you ever find yourself getting into a habit of self-talk that is not beneficial to you and what you want your life to be?

It can be so easy to fall into the trap of complaining about things that we don’t have, that we want more of, or complaining about things not going to plan.

It is easy to complain but it is also easy to change that behaviour and find greater joy in daily life.

How?

Change your self-talk.

Instead of hearing your inner voice complain about expectations or lack there of, convert that inner voice to be a voice of gratitude.

As soon as you hear yourself getting upset, annoyed, angry…ask your self the question, “why am I feeling this way?”

Usually it is related to an expectation not being met. Or a situation or someone acting in a way that goes against your personal values.

We can try and avoid getting heated up, frustrated and upset by converting that expectation into appreciation.

Look at the situation…

Stop and ask yourself – how can I find something to be grateful for in this moment?

Daily gratitude is such a powerful practice for a healthy, happy mind.

Can you relate to this?