4 WAYS TO PRACTICE MINDFULNESS (IN YOUR EVERYDAY LIFE)

Try and remember the last time you were really present. 100% in-the-moment. Perhaps it was a blissful moment playing with your child. Maybe it was a few minutes during a run in the park or a flow on your yoga mat. It could have been while you were lovingly preparing dinner for your family, or simply sitting the train watching the world go by.
That, my friends, is what we call mindfulness.
The practice of mindfulness is a way of recognising the joy and happiness that surrounds us in our everyday lives. To experience this, we must be fully present and avoid focusing our thoughts on the past or in future — basically the moments that no longer exist (also known as memorising or futurising, as my teacher Norman Blair calls it).
While it’s impossible to completely block out thoughts and emotions, the practice of mindfulness invitues us to be fully present with how we are feeling while training our “monkey mind” by focusing on one thing, and one thing only — Judith Lasater calls this Uni-Tasking.
Practicing mindfulness is not always easy (it’s called a practice for a reason!), but here are some of my favourite, very simple steps to becoming more mindful in your daily life:

Bring awareness to your breathing
This isn’t something that’s reserved for your yoga mat or sat in meditation. You can incorporate mindfulness of the breath in your daily life, whether you’re standing in line at the grocery store or sitting on the bus.
When you breathe, bring your awareness to your inhale and your exhale. Fully experience what it feels like to fill your lungs with oxygen, and pay close attention to the sensation of breathing out. Eventually, once observing your breathe becomes easier and more natural, you may notice that you start bringing that same quality of awareness to your body, your feelings, your mind, your environment and those around you.

Focus on one thing (with intention)
Pick a thing. Any thing. Then focus on it. It could be a beautiful flower, a cloud or a sunset. Perhaps it’s your child playing in the grass, or water flowing in a river. Notice how that object makes you feel. Does it trigger an emotional response? Take time to on that experience. TOP TIP: Keep your phone far, far away — or on Airplane Mode!

Chew slowly
The next time you sit at the dinner table (not in front of the television or at your desk), eat slowly and in a considered way, paying close attention to the movement of your mouth, teeth and tongue, really observing the texture of your food — how it feels, tastes, smells, sounds. Observe how the flavours evolve over time, and even what feelings those flavours evoke. Nostalgia? Joy? Disgust? Guilt? Be present with every bite, and do your best to chew your food until it’s nearly liquid, about 20 chews. As the famous saying goes, “Chew your drink, and drink your food.”

Practice Silence
Silence is a rare gift these days, which is why it’s more important than ever to enjoy moments of silence. Practice this by spending a set amount of time in complete silence — perhaps start with 20 minutes and build up to an hour. Avoid speaking to anyone, even to yourself! Turn off your phone and all other electronic items. TOP TIP: If you’re living in a noisy city, ear plugs can really help!

I hope these simple tips help you on your journey through your personal mindfulness practice. Have you tried any of these tips? And what are your favourite mindfulness tips? I would love to hear about your experiences in the comments below.
Join my 15-minute ‘Mindfulness & Meditation’ class on www.yogaia.com

My Curvy Yoga Story

I have always been a curvy girl, some would say chubby – I personally prefer the word voluptuous. Even at the age of 13 I remember hating my batwing arms, and despite all my progress in other areas I still don’t ‘love’ them. Throughout my life I have always battled somewhat with my weight and my perception of myself.

Yoga found me when I was 21, I remember my first yoga class, walking in and being the biggest girl in the room (by that I mean waist size, as I am only 4’11” tall) – I was massively self conscious, wearing baggy clothes to cover everything which, seemed to make me stand out even more over the other women in the room who were wearing little sports tops and leggings to show off slim figures. When I eventually managed to mentally get out of my own way, I loved the class, it was a dynamic class ‘power yoga’ – I loved the challenge of it, I found it tough but it appealed to my need for exercise. I felt great after the class, and started going on a weekly basis. I soon realised I had a natural flexibility and my strength and stamina began to increase as time passed, my awareness of my size however did not, every time I walked into the room I was faced with the fact that, I felt huge – it didn’t help that it was a mirrored studio and the teacher had us facing our reflections. I hid at the back but couldn’t avoid seeing myself in contrast to the other women, I remember thinking one day that ‘I looked like an olive surrounded by toothpicks!’.

Years passed and as I continued my physical practice of yoga, I became increasingly more interested in the wider aspects of the discipline. I had always been a deep thinker and had ideas which aligned with more esoteric beliefs – having trained in healing and energy medicine, I had knowledge in the energetic body and the way of the universe, the teachings of Vedanta (yoga philosophy) seemed to fit in so well for me, filling in the gaps of what I felt was missing. Meditation became a strong daily practice and I started to understand what yoga was really about. It wasn’t about having a slim body that could bend into any shape, in fact, yoga isn’t really about making shapes with the body, and looking ‘good’ in those shapes – otherwise it would be a making shapes class! (not denying that to some people, that is what it is!). Sri Pattabhi Jois says, “Yoga is an internal practice. The rest is just a circus.” The postures are a way of getting you connected to your body, as Bernie Clarke encourages the mantra “we don’t use our body to get into a pose, we use the pose to get into our body.” How you feel in the pose is much more important than how it looks. “When you come into the pose, drop your expectations of how you should look or be. There is a destructive myth buried deep inside the Western yoga practice – that we should achieve a model shape in each pose.” (Bernie Clarke).

After 8 years self-practicing I decided to undertake the Sivananda TTC (Integral Hatha yoga teacher training), with the intention to enhance my own knowledge. I had become fascinated by this ancient science that had transformed so much in my life. I NEVER had the intention to teach, and even now I don’t really know how it happened, covering classes for friends on an ad hoc basis and teaching at the Sivananda centre in London. My practice continued to develop as I studied other practices of Yoga; Yin, Kundalini, Vinyasa, Dharma Mittra etc.

After I started teaching, I returned to India to teach at a friends retreat centre in Kerala and have a break myself, I was participating in an all levels, dynamic Hatha yoga class taught by a local Indian man. It was a great class, strong for the body and mind with a lot of advanced postures. There were a number of participants who seemed less familiar with the postures and were cautious or perhaps anxious moving into some of the inversions. After the class, the teacher came over to me and said, in a very kind voice with pidgin English, “it is very nice to see someone so fat be flexible and strong in the postures, it was good for the other students to see, thank you for coming”. It’s one thing to call yourself fat and know deep down that you are, but hearing other people say it, is another matter, hurtful and TRUE. With that in mind, as I am sure you can imagine, my usual reaction to hearing the dreaded word fat would be to bristle and get upset internally, or maybe even externally. Thankfully, before I had chance to respond, my initial shock at the bluntness of his comment actually made me take a breath, step back for a moment and reflect on the intention behind the comment, I realised, this wasn’t delivered as an offensive comment or judgement about my size, in fact, the teacher was complimenting me and making the valid point that: anyone can do yoga, no matter what size, shape, age, physicality, colour, religion…etc.

Not long after I returned from this trip to India, I was back in London and teaching the advanced class at the Sivananda London centre – I had a shocking interaction with one of the Swami’s (Monk following the yogic path of renunciation), he asked me what it was like for me being a fat yoga teacher and asked me how it is possible that I can do many of the advanced postures when a lot of the ‘fit’ women cannot. I was both shocked and upset by this, as he was supposedly living by the teachings that Yoga is not purely a physical practice and that the body does not have to limit you. Your mind is the limitation. Swami Vishnu Devananda teaches ‘Unity in Diversity’, and that was a teaching I held dear, as I felt like I could somehow fit in to this world of yoga, even when I did not seem to fit the media image of a svelte bodied yogi. It took me some months to really process this, but made me more determined to get out there as a curvy yoga teacher, who is strong and flexible to show and inspire people of all shapes and sizes that, YOU CAN DO IT. Yoga is for EVERYONE (and I am glad to say that Swami, is no longer a Swami.)

Sometimes we lose sight of the fact that we are all individuals and we are ALL perfect, we get caught up in the idea that yoga is a function of beauty, when yoga is an expression of beauty, discipline, sacrifice and love. Yoga teaches us to feel within our hearts and experience with our bodies. Remember everyone can do yoga. We breathe, we feel, we stretch, and we connect fully to ourselves, even if we don’t look like a supermodel.” (Dianne Bondy)_DSC9724

Oil Pulling – what is it and why do it?

So I heard about oil pulling for the first time about one month ago when a women in the changing rooms started telling me about it. I googled it, but thought on my first research it wasn’t something I fancied doing. About a week later, a friend posted on Facebook about Oil Pulling, at which point I took notice and did a bit more research. As lent was fast approaching I thought I would give it a go for 6 weeks.

So first what is oil pulling?

Oil Pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic technique, using either Organic Coconut (my preference), sesame, sunflower or olive oil to draw toxins and bacteria through the mouth by swishing it around in your mouth for 20 minutes. You can use a teaspoon to a tablespoon of oil (I prefer a teaspoon). For 20 minutes swish the oil around in your mouth, pull it through your teeth but DO NOT SWALLOW. When you finish spit out into a plastic bag and dispose in the bin otherwise it will clog the drains.

Why do it?

Well, I read about the benefits being for overall oral hygiene, improvement in teeth whiteness, clearer skin (all of these I have found to be true for me). Other benefits listed in articles I read are; banishes bad breath, prevention of cavities and gingivitis, strengthen teeth and jaw, clear sinuses and relieve headaches and hangovers.

Having done this for 10 days now I have to say I noticed marked difference, I feel like I have a clearer head, my gums no longer bleed when I brush my teeth, I have more energy and generally feel like my teeth are cleaner.

I had to build up to 20 minutes, starting with about 10 and each day increasing the time – now I can’t wait to do it every morning, it has become part of my morning ritual cleansing. Give it a go, give it a week and I am sure you will feel the benefits.

 

 

Our Two Brains

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Why We Shout in Anger….

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“Why We Shout In Anger”A Hindu saint and his disciples were visiting the Ganges river, where they found a group of family members on the banks shouting in anger at each other. Turning to his disciples, the saint smiled and asked, ‘Why do people in anger shout at each other?’

His disciples thought for a while. One of them finally said, ‘Because when we lose our calm, we shout.’’But, why should you shout when the other person is just next to you?’ countered the saint. ‘You can just as well tell him what you have to say in a soft manner.’ His disciples thought about it some more, but could not come up with a satisfactory answer. Finally the saint explained,

‘When two people are angry at each other, their hearts distance a lot. To cover that distance they must shout to be able to hear each other. The angrier they are, the stronger they will have to shout to hear each other, in order to cover that great distance.

But what happens when two people fall in love? They don’t shout at each other but instead talk very softly because their hearts are very close. The distance between them is either nonexistent or very small. And when they love each other even more, what happens? They do not speak, only whisper and they get even closer to each other in their love. Finally they even need not whisper, they only need to look at each other and that’s all. That is how close two people are when they love each other.
So when you argue, do not let your hearts get distant, do not say words that distance each other more, or else there will come a day when the distance is so great that you will not find the path to return.’

Taken from a blog by Pritesh Kalantri

 

http://mbstories.quora.com/“Why-We-Shout-In-Anger”-A-short-story-on-Relationships

 

Control your Voice and Shift your Reality

Energy & Vibration = Matter

Every word has a meaning, the problem is nowadays we are so far removed from the root of our language, and to that end we lose the essence of what our words really mean.

Words mean different things to different people, all shaped by our own personal experiences of those words. Speaking generally, we quite often find ourselves in the kind of situations by which our words have been misconstrued. Is that because our words and thoughts are really misaligned?

Thought is Energy

Seeing is Energy

Talking is Vibration

Speaking is Vibration

Thoughts & Voice = Reality 

You can help your self and others by really connecting to your absolute truth. Meditate and keep thoughts, actions & words positive.  Correct your vocabulary, notice how your talk, not only to others but also, to yourself.

Your voice commands your mind, body & spirit so use words that empower you.  

I CAN, I AM, I BELIEVE, IT IS DONE, I CAN DO IT, I CAN DO ANYTHING

  • Literally promotes growth 
  • Can is a command to self
  • Allows your wants, needs and desires to come true
  • It is unconditional and moves a person forward in life
  • When you know inside you can do it your body needs to hear it
  • Your body reacts to key words

TRY, TRYING, I CAN TRY, I’M TRYING, I WILL TRY 

  • Try and you will do it over and over and over never get to the end
  • Puts a block in your way
  • Try is a commend to self
  • Try and trying is a taught behaviour that is a condition to hold a person back
  • It’s like running a race with no end
  • It is repetitious

I CAN’T, I WON’T, IT’S HARD, I DON’T BELIEVE, I’M A SKEPTIC, I DON’T LIKE IT

  • Will literally stop growth
  • Will literally put a block in your way
  • Can not is a command to self
  • Will literally stop you from achieving anything in your life
  • Is a taught behaviour  that is a conditional to hold a person back
  • Stops a person from learning
  • Stops a person from gaining intellect

So, be mindful of what you say and how you say it.

Your thoughts become your words

Your words become your behaviour

Your behaviour becomes your habits

Your habits become your values

Your values become your destiny 

 – Mahatma Gandhi

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yama and Niyama

niyama & yama

Yoga, much more than being bendy…….

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Story of a Rabbi

“There is a story of a rabbi who asked to be shown the difference between heaven and hell. He was taken to a room with a big table. In the centre if the table was a bowl of food and around it sat a group of starving people. Each one held a spoon. They could reach out to the food, but their spoons were very long. They could not turn them round and put the food into their mouths. They were in hell. then the rabbi was taken to another room. Here again there was a table with a bowl of food and round it a group of people holding long spoons. But these people looked cheerful and well fed. They were in heaven. And the difference? The latter had learned to feed one another, and no one was hungry. ”

 

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All Seeing Eye and the connection to the Thalamus

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