Before I was a mother, birthdays for me were about me, myself and I.
Since being a mother, it has taken on a different meaning.
When one of my children has their birthday, I literally remember the day(s) or night(s) of their birth. I remember where I was when my contractions began and I remember the intensity of the day/s leading up to welcoming my child into the world, earth side.
I remembered the overwhelming excitement to meet my child for the first time; the anxiety around the challenges of birth and the increasing need to surrender to the journey that lay ahead of me.
Today is my birthday.
And my attention is drawn to my own mother.
What was she doing when her contractions began?
What was care like for her at the time and where was she while she was labouring?
Was she supported in her birth?
What was her reaction when she birthed me, her first daughter?
Birthdays now have so much more depth to them than when I was a child and it was all about balloons, gifts and party cake.
I think of what it means to bring a human into this world. The meaning of that experience and the journey that awaits that child.
The transformation of a women to a mother.
The man to a father.
Without our parents, we wouldn’t be here.
It is our mother who births us.
What a great gift she has given us!
So although it is my birthday today, and the attention is drawn to me as a human.
I’m grateful to my parents.
I’m grateful to my mother for birthing me and the hardship she went through to welcome a new human into the world.
Practice, practice… enjoy the journey 🙂
The month of April, 2018 marks exactly 15 years since my first Ashtanga yoga class when I started practicing yoga seriously.
It feels quote surreal to me and I often feel like my life is divided in two parts – before I found yoga and after I found yoga.
My first Ashtanga yoga class challenged me in more ways than just my physical limitations. I could barely touch my toes and had a tight back. My body was shaking the entire class and I remember thinking “if I seriously have to do one more downward dog, I am going to scream!”
It also challenged my ego. I thought I was reasonably fit and flexible but my first Ashtanga yoga class challenged my definition of that and made me realise I wasn’t even close to being fit!
After that class, I battled with my ego and decided I must return for another class. I had to start somewhere.
My yoga journey had to begin at a first class. A second class…. and some form of dedication to really give it a go.
There was no way I could do this posture pictured (astavakrasana) in the first few months of practicing yoga.
It takes dedication and daily practice to shift things in the body and mind.
My body changed, my habits changed for the better and this all affected my life choices and then the direction my life has taken…
I love this quote by Picasso ‘I am always doing that which I can not do, in order that I may learn how to do it” because it reminds me that with discipline, things can change.
It’s not about perfecting a posture… don’t get me wrong, it’s pretty exciting when you can do some cool postures….
but yoga is more than perfecting the posture…
It’s about perfecting the person
And practice makes progress towards that ideal of perfection.
Patricia, a dear friend of mine and an old colleague who I was privileged to have worked with in Sydney would often use the phrase:
Patricia’s faith in these words taught me so much about acceptance and relinquishing control.
Letting go sounds all good and well. But what does that mean exactly?
Let go of what?
And how exactly do we let go of something?
Do we need to let go of control?
How much do you want to be in control? Of future events or the way you want your life to be?
Or how you want your relationships to be or how you expect them to be?
It means letting go of the need to control our lives.
It means letting go of fear, anxiety, ego…
It means accepting the here and now for what it is. Removing this desire to constantly control situations.
Letting go also means being open to the possibility of something greater than yourself at work. The possibility of God. Or the divine.
Let God do what exactly?
Regardless of what God you believe in or if you don’t believe in God at all…. letting God simply means being open to the possibility that something greater than you is at work.
It means creating space for something to change…
And creating that space often means removing the need to control.
The first step, “Let go” simply means to remove yourself from having the need to control your future. Control every decision of every day.
“Let God” adds the layer of allowing something greater at work to show you the way.
Being receptive to the possibilities of the path you may need to take. The alternative choices you may need to make. Hearing the voice within when you give yourself room to hear that voice.
Letting God means that you’re open.
It means you’re receptive to something greater at work.
This is truly liberating!
Let go of control.
And let God do the work.
Sometimes we need to sit back and take a breather and listen to that inner voice. Is that God speaking to you?
Is it your inner wisdom?
What do you like to call that wise voice inside you?
Is it God?
Is it your inner wisdom?
Are we all sparks of the divine?
Or is God out there somewhere and removed from us? Or is God within you?
Some food for thought.
What are your thoughts?
My kids were playing around the yard today and were pretending to “save” each other from being stuck somewhere. It was all fun and games and they love taking turns to rescue each other.
This particular time, my daughter yelled out “Mummy, I saved myself!” and released herself from her “emergency”. She was so pleased with herself that she repeatedly “saved herself”, much to my son’s frustration 😀
It got me thinking how we all too often look to outside sources to help “save us” when we might be going through a rough time or seeking answers to a problem.
We may speak to a friend or family member for advice, jump on line and read other people’s experiences or we may seek counselling to help us through a challenging period. Whilst I definitely believe there is value in these avenues and would never suggest removing these networks from your life; I do think that in today’s times, we are too quick to do this before even looking within ourselves.
I am referring to tapping into our inner wisdom. The process of how we can, in fact, “save ourselves”.
In our modern-day technology and social media culture, we expect results instantly. And we all seem to be in a big hurry to resolve things quickly.
I all too often hear the phrase, “let it go” or “move on” when someone is talking about an issue they’re having. This kind of response often builds a culture of brushing things off and not dealing with the issue.
I have walked with dear friends who have experienced grief – the loss of a loved one, or a baby… real deep, traumatic stuff. And if you have experienced any kind of loss, you would know that it is tremendously difficult to see joy in life when you are grieving.
The griever can sometimes feel pressure to “move on” and feel normal again. But this is completely unrealistic.
It is much more beneficial to accept that grief is part of the process of healing. And there is no rush to actually “get over it” or move on.
The biggest thing though is that no one can “save us” from this grief, pain or circumstance. In fact, the healing needs to come from within…
How do you tap into this inner wisdom?
Through a regular yoga and meditation practice.
Through faith in something greater than yourself whether it is an understanding of God or simply an acute awareness that there is something greater than yourself at work in the universe (this is a whole other topic!).
We can continue to heal our daily hurts and our long-term hurts through a regular internal clean out. Yoga is called a practice for this reason. It is an ongoing process – an internal workout for the mind and soul.
By giving the mind time and space through the practice of focused silence, it has the opportunity to process what is happening on the inside. An opportunity to connect to something greater than yourself.
This process of daily internal-reflection is extremely powerful in transforming our lives.
Create room in your life for things to change. Take one step every day to create space in your life for silence, stillness…quiet.
We can “save ourselves” – heal our wounds, repair what feels broken, find what feels lost… we just need to hear what is inside of us.
Once the mind is silent… you can hear the voice within…
And yes, save yourself.
My little baby Raya sits on my lap in the early morning while I’m still trying to wake myself up. Who needs an alarm clock when you have a little bubba to do the trick every morning?
And this little alarm clock comes with a beautiful smile that lights up the soul.
While I was bouncing her on my lap, she was beaming with joy and her face lit up like there was absolutely nothing more amazing than just simply being present on my lap.
When I stopped, she gazed outside the window and seemed mesmerized by something out there. She stared for a long time. Just curious and content. I think it was the movement of the branches. She was completely in awe of them.
Not long after, I called her name and she looked back at me, beaming with joy again. Like she was seeing me for the first time. A type of joy that comes from within. Deep down into the soul.
A type of joy that exuberates contentment and peace. An inner sense of love that we see so often in babies.
What happens after that? We grow up…. and that inner light seems to slowly wane and sometimes diminish. We find ourselves in low moments… sometimes even in a web of depression…. and this inner joy seems like a distant memory we have no idea how to reignite.
That’s what happened to me. I was such a happy child. But as I grew up and became so much more aware of suffering in the world, it ate away at me. I began to feel my inner light extinguish and I was losing that child-like joy.
It was in my early twenties that I discovered yoga. I was looking for an alternative to dancing, something I had done up until that point in my life but was no longer pursuing. I wanted to stay fit and so I took up yoga.
Little did I know that yoga was far more than stretching and doing some impressive postures. After some months of regular, dedicated yoga practice, I soon discovered the true depth of yoga.
I realised that yoga was a spirituality. A way of life.
It formed a pathway that would lead me to re-discover and experience this child-like inner joy that I had lost in the “growing up” stage of my life.
I discovered how to be happy again – truly happy. A happiness that I could feel inside myself. It was an awakening for me.
And naturally when you find something amazing, you want to share it with others.
After years of dedicated practice, I started teaching yoga classes and loved witnessing the essence of yoga transform people’s lives. From the outside in and the inside out.
The richness of the yoga tradition lends itself to a life of transformation. An ongoing transformation.
Yoga is my greatest teacher. Through yoga, I have re-discovered that inner child-like joy inside me once again.
Just like my little Raya, yoga helps us see things for the first time. It reminds us to see things for their natural beauty and appreciate them.
If you want to experience happiness from within, open your heart to yoga and all it has to offer you. You just need to accept the invitation!
I’m here to support you on this journey and help reveal the jewels of yoga by passing on the teachings that were passed onto me by my teachers and their teachers…. what an incredible lineage I am part of!
Maybe it’s something you want to be part of? Are you seeking inner joy? You’ll also learn some cool yoga moves along the way 🙂
If you’re already a yogi, how has yoga helped you through life’s ups and downs?
One classic common question I get asked is:
Am I too old to take up yoga?
The short answer:
The more thought out answer…
Anyone can practice yoga.
There is only one type of person who can’t practice yoga, says one of my teachers… and that is the lazy person 🙂
In all honestly, I think many are reluctant to take up yoga and it’s not because they’re lazy.
The top 5 reasons I have had people tell me why they’re nervous about taking up yoga are:
1. I’m too old or have an injury and I’m nervous about not being able to move my body in the expected way
2. I’m unsure what type of class would suit me and my needs
3. I’m not flexible enough to do yoga (this one always makes me laugh)
4. What do I wear? 🙂
5. I’m overweight and want to lose weight first before going to a class
Do any of these reasons resonate with you?
No doubt, you have had some level of this kind of self-talk.
We can easily talk ourselves out of trying something new.
It’s completely natural to feel nervous about delving into the unknown. I’m yet to meet a single person who wasn’t a little nervous about attending their first yoga class!
It’s what we do with that self-talk that’s important.
So I’ll address the self-talk points I made above with some re-phrased self-talk in the hope that it helps re-frame your thoughts and encourage you to take the first or next step in your yoga journey 🙂
I’m too old and/or I have an injury and I’m nervous about not being able to move my body in the expected way
My body can benefit from moving through yoga postures that will help keep my mind and body healthy.
🙌 An experienced teacher will offer you many options and modifications to support you in the class when you need it.
I’m unsure what type of class would suit me and my needs.
I can attend a range of different classes until I find the class I enjoy most and a teacher that I like.
🙌 A reasonably local yoga studio will be a good place to start. Read the class descriptions as a starting point or chat to the owner for some advice as to which class could suit you best. Be adventurous and try a few classes until you find your favourite that you can commit to attending regularly. A sustained regular practice is what you’re aiming for!
If your local yoga studio doesn’t feel right for you, branch out until you find a place that feels right and a teacher that you feel is going to help you progress. A little extra travel to the right teacher & space can sometimes be needed in order to meet your needs.
I’m not flexible enough to do yoga
I have to start somewhere. This is where my body is at right now. Practicing yoga will help me gain a stronger and more flexible body.
🙌 A good, regular yoga practice will certainly yield results. A stronger and more flexible body, a healthier mind and an overall calmer state are just some of the obvious benefits.
What do I wear?
I can find something comfortable to wear in my wardrobe. Otherwise I’m taking myself out shopping or jumping online to grab some nice comfy tights. a comfy shirt or tank and a yoga mat.
🙌 Yoga is practiced barefoot so it’s always nice to have clean and tidy toes to look at in your forward bends 😄
Most places provide mats but it’s so nice & more hygienic to have your own.
I’m overweight and want to lose weight first before going to a class
This is me now. Nothing will change if I don’t make a change. My body will change with good habits like starting yoga. Yoga is a way to help me get back into shape.
🙌 When we start moving our body, it encourages us to make healthier choices including altering our eating habits. Exercise and eating well go hand in hand.
Ok so that’s it.
No more excuses.
Just get on your yoga mat and see your life unfold.
One posture at a time.
One breath at a time.
One dedicated practice at a time.
When in doubt, remember this – that no one walks into a yoga class and is a perfect yogi. Is there such thing as a perfect yogi anyway?
A good practice takes time and dedication.
Nothing will change if you don’t make a change.
So what are you waiting for?
Have you ever had those days where you wake up and just dread your day job?
You know those days I’m talking about? Where you struggle to drag yourself out of bed and just can’t imagine doing the same thing for yet another day…
Whether it’s a job you commute to each day or it’s being a full time parent. Some times we can go through a stage where we struggle waking up on repeat, doing the same thing over and over again…
Some days are like Groundhog Day. How many times can you do the same thing yet again?
But it’s not easy to just say “ok I quit” because we know our daily role comes with a sense of responsibility.
You know that you have a role that you need to fulfill each day.
You know that if you don’t hold up your end of the job, it affects others and can also have a snowball affect. If one part of the big picture isn’t doing their job well, it affects all the other parts from running smoothly.
It’s this sense of responsibility that often keeps us going instead of just giving up.
However, some days it can all feel too much and you just feel like quitting or breaking the cycle.
I’ve struggled with this from time to time. In many different roles. How many times can I wake up and teach a group of children with a big smile despite any personal struggles I am grappling…
Or teach a yoga class when I’m feeling unwell or just not up for it.
And now, as a mother, I feel like my responsibility is endless. There’s little down time from the mental pressure I feel daily raising 3 little people and running a smooth household.
When I feel this way, I am often called back to this concept of Dharma and it helps me get back on track.
Dharma can be defined as “life path”.
Put simply, it means finding your calling – your life’s purpose.
Dharma is about finding what role in life is meant for you. Something you’re good at. Something that you feel called to and the big ingredient here is – doing it well.
So whether you feel called to be a teacher, cleaner, parent, lawyer, bus driver, manager…. find the joy in this role and do it perfectly. Do it with all your heart.
Seek the joy in being the absolute best teacher you can be. The absolute best barrister. The absolute best cleaner, absolute best mother or father…
Have you met someone who you just know is completely happy living their dharma?
You can tell someone is living their dharma when a person outwardly reflects an inner joy in whatever role it is they’re doing.
When I worked at Kmart many moons ago, we had this incredibly spirited door greeter, Fred. His role was to greet customers and check bags as people entered and exited the store.
To many, this role may sound tedious and quite boring if done all day, every day.
But not for Fred.
I watched him each day greet people with a smile, making small talk, laughing and building rapport with the customers of the store. Fred was always smiling, helpful and did his job better than any other door greeter I have come across. People knew his name and would pop over just to say hello to him.
To me, this man was living his dharma. He had a role in life and he truly did it well. He brought joy to his role and to those around him.
You know you are living your true dharma when it has goodness at its core.
It’s in the service of our dharma that we find joy.
When we serve others, we are actually serving ourselves.
St Francis of Assisi says in his renowned Instrument of Peace prayer, “it is in giving that we receive”.
When we are able to be of service to others, it usually makes us feel great inside and makes us want to continue to do good for others.
In the Bible, it says to find a life worthy of your calling (Ephesians 4:1). In other words, find a role in life that is nurturing to you and that you’re good at. One that you feel called to do. A role that you were designed for. A role that can also nurture others through the service you put into it.
For we know that when one part works well, it makes other parts run smoothly. Like a tree. It grows well when it is planted in good soil, is regularly watered and has regular sunlight. If we remove one of these parts or don’t do it well, it affects the health of the tree. If it doesn’t get enough water, it begins to have dry leaves and eventually will die.
“As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts to grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love” (Ephesians 4:16).
In the Bhagavad Gita, we are warned that living a life that is at odds with your dharma can cause you a great deal of suffering.
We are encouraged to do something in life that we are drawn to. Something we love. Sometimes this may be in conflict with what we think we should be doing or dream of doing despite it not being your true dharma.
It’s like you have to find a balance between what you’re meant to be doing, what you are doing and the fantasy of what you want to be doing!
Khrisna says not to waste our time on false dharma. And that your true dharma will always have goodness at its core no matter what that role is.
For me, my dharma is teaching.
Regardless of what I teach – I was born to teach.
When I was a child, I was teaching my younger sister to read.
I always knew that I loved leading, teaching and bringing others to a better understanding.
For me, it’s my dharma to teach. I find absolute joy at the very core of teaching and I light up when I feel I’m helping others move to a better understanding of themselves.
Yes, I have groundhog days.
Yes, sometimes I want to quit my day job.
But overall, I know at my core what I am called to.
I’ve heard this saying that you just need to look at what you enjoyed doing as a child to get in touch with your true dharma.
Could this be true?
Is it true for you?
What’s your dharma?
I would love to hear about your dharma….
Perhaps what you are currently doing, your fantasy of what you want to do or perhaps what you know you should be doing!
Have you done this before?
Repeatedly told yourself over and over again the same mantra.
I don’t like pineapple.
I hate running.
I’m not a morning person.
I am scared of heights.
Well when you repeat these things to yourself often enough, you start to create this sense of “this is who I am” and you begin to define yourself under these categories.
In yoga terms, this “I-am-ness” is referred to as Asmita (translated as Egoism).
It is the concept of creating a self-image of ourselves that we believe is us, however these are all false projections of ourselves.
We start to define ourselves within certain categories like “I am bad at singing” or “I am a vegan” or “I’m a meat eater”.
And from these labels, we start to convince ourselves that this is simply “who I am”.
And to add another level to this statement, we believe that we can’t change this about ourselves and before you know it, you’re saying:
“This is who I am. You can’t change me.”
Have you caught yourself saying that phrase before?
We start defining ourselves in this way and we make it part of our identity. And we teach our brain to think that we can never change.
When I first starting practicing Ashtanga yoga almost 15 years ago, I was absolutely convinced I could never attend a 6am yoga class because “I’m sooooo not a morning person”.
But the fact is, I was defining myself in a particular way and it was giving me a false projection of myself.
After believing I could never do a 6am yoga class, I attended my first yoga retreat in the Rocky Mountains of Canada and all the morning sessions were 6am starts.
After a few days of intense early morning practice, I realised how incredible my mind and body felt each morning and for the rest of the day.
From that day on, I was hooked.
I stopped making excuses and instead, I found ways to fit my yoga practice into my daily life.
I stopped defining myself by what I didn’t like or couldn’t do.
Instead, I started creating space in my life to make change. Real change.
When I returned to Sydney and starting full time work again, I travelled to the city each morning for my 6am class and then showered and went to work. I did this every day of the working week then enjoyed a leisurely 8am yoga class on the weekends 🙂
Then I started realising that all these years of telling myself I wasn’t a morning person just simply wasn’t a true projection of myself.
Don’t get me wrong, waking up so early every morning wasn’t always easy, especially in winter, but the change was worth it and it became natural for me and part of my life to start the day this way.
Change isn’t easy.
It won’t come about with little effort.
It can require a change of perspective.
It can cause you to feel uncomfortable. Nervous. Uncertain.
But gosh, it’s so worth it.
So when you catch yourself starting your sentences with “I am” or “I’m not”…. perhaps pause and reflect about how you are defining yourself and if this is really how you want to train your brain to think.
Perhaps there’s another way?
Change is part of life. It is whether we are receptive to this change and willing to accept the invitation to change.
Perhaps today you are ready to make your change.