Our bi-monthly focus for July and August is Rest.
In the fast moving world we live in today we all too often find ourselves putting far too much emphasis on constant ‘doing’
We get caught up in the push to go, go, go and do, do, do and can find ourselves stressed out, anxious, exhausted and so depleted that we are incapable of being the best we can be.
It is easy to forget the importance of rest and of taking time to recharge in the busy ebb and flow of life, but it is so vital that we do.
Rest enables us to come back to our life duties and relationships in a more engaged, enhanced and joyful way.
But resting doesn’t just have to mean ‘doing nothing.’ So what do I mean when I say rest?
I think it’s important to note that rest can take on many different forms.
Finding rest is about finding some stillness or silence in your life - and practicing rest is one of the most basic and fundamental needs of human beings.
It’s about allowing yourself the time and space to get off the tread mill of life, to unplug, to breathe, to tune in to your internal world of emotions, feelings, thoughts as well as your physical sensations and sensitivities.
Yoga is this inward journey of Self-Enquiry - and yoga along with meditation, breathe work, mindfulness and silence are some of my favourite forms of rest and ways to recharge.
But rest can also be discovered in many other forms such as journalling, painting, taking mindful walks, massage and even daydreaming.
Sometimes we find a gentle form rest calling us, at other times a more active rest and recovery feels right.
It is important to find what works best for you, for your lifestyle, for your body, for your mind and for your soul in any given moment of your life.
So, over the coming month and going forward I encourage us all to remind each other to “Take Rest, Take Rest, Take Rest”
I look forward to sharing space, having fun and taking time to enjoy restful, sunny summer vibes together!
With Love & Blessings
The bi-monthly focus for May and June is Change.
With Spring in the air and Summer around the corner, it seems like everything is turning a new leaf this time of year.
Even with the cooler weather we are having here in Ireland at the moment – May and June still feel like months of change!
And it certainly is a good time of year to embrace change, to try new things, dust off the old routines, reignite and shake things up a little.
Change and growth ultimately starts from within – and through our practices we can learn to navigate the ever-changing ebb and flow of life with more ease and joy.
When we practice yoga and meditation (as well as other mindful techniques) we connect to a deeper inner awareness and invite internal enquiry.
We cultivate sensitivity, honesty, openness, focus and generosity.
And we become more resilient enabling us to allow, to accept and to embrace change.
Tantric yoga describes change as the ever-changing nature of Shakti, or the deep-rooted, dynamic power and divine energy at the heart of life.
Shakti continually manifests things into being, fuels them for a while and then dissolves them.
Every cell, every moment, is part of this continuous flow of creation, sustenance, and dissolution.
Buddhists refer to change as Anitya or impermanence and tell us that change is inevitable, continuous, and unavoidable.
So in other words, Everything changes!
But we all know this already through our own experiences of life – and we also know that change is not always easy!
We feel change externally in our environment as the flow of seasons, as cycles in nature and in diversity of cultures.
We feel change internally within ourselves, in physical and mental states as we experiences the ups and downs of life and flow through thoughts, emotions, sensations and the many movements in our mind.
Connecting, acknowledging and recognising the divine nature of the process of change and impermanence can bring ease and enable us to greet change with more acceptance, honour and surrender.
More so, we empower ourselves to partner and to co-create with change as we continue on our journey – and hopefully we find ourselves feeling refreshed, rejuvenated, and feeling positive toward CHANGE in our lives!
I look forward to sharing space, having fun and embracing change together!
With Love & Blessings
PS: Don’t forget you can join me on 17 May for and evening workshop! FRIDAY FEEL GOOD: Full Moon practice and feel good flow - 7:30pm to 9:30pm - @YogaDublin Ranelagh, Dublin 6
Our bi-monthly focus for March and April 2019 is Connection
Connection to ourselves, to others and to our environment is an important part of our human experience. It gives life real depth and real meaning.
And everything is connected by ‘prana’ (life-force), or what we often refer to as ‘energy.’
This energy flows within us and around us, it is literally the pulsation, the vitality, the breathe and power that flows through our life!
Understanding this sense of connection, and knowing that we all have an energetic effect through words, actions, and even thoughts reminds us to treat ourselves, others and our environment with kindness, love and respect.
As we flow and move together in yoga posture practice on the mat, we connect between breath, mind and body which leads to greater connection off the mat with friends, family, partners, colleagues, strangers and our environment.
Positive Psychology researcher Barbara Fredrickson states, “What we’ve learned is that when people move together as one orchestrated unit, they later report that they experienced an embodied sense of rapport with each other—they say they felt alive, connected, with a mutual sense of warmth and trust as they converse. Other studies concur. When synchrony is surreptitiously produced in experimental studies—by having people walk, tap, sing, sway, or rock together in time—it breeds liking, cooperation, and compassion as well as success in joint action.”
Other research shows that yoga posture practice can improve the function of the vagus nerve, a key nerve in resilience and connection.
People with low vagal tone tend to have more trouble recovering from stressful events, while people with higher vagal tone tend to recover with greater ease. And, in addition to indicating one’s level of resilience, vagal tone is also correlated with feelings of social connection. The greater your vagal tone, the greater your perceived sense of connection.
Additional studies on Loving-kindness and compassion based meditation, in which you actively send good wishes to yourself and others, has also been shown to improve both vagal tone and feelings of social connection.
Meditation is a key yoga practice to facilitate intuitive connection and connection to innate wisdom. When the mind moves from a place of doing to non-doing, a space is created for intuition, wisdom, insight, clarity and connection to arise.
Connecting with nature can also be incredibly invigorating and leave us feeling deeply connected to our immediate environment. There are so many simple ways to do this; practicing outdoors, taking a walk, cycling, sitting out in the garden, having picnic in the park or whatever it is you choose. That same energetic connection and prana we experience with each other also extends to our environment.
This all means that we have an abundance of ways to cultivate and nurture connection in our lives!
I firmly believe that the more connected we are in life, the happier we are, the kinder we are, the better we feel and the more fun we have!
I look forward to sharing space, having fun and cultivating connection together!
With Love & Blessings
PS: Join me for FRIDAY EVENING WORKSHOPS, 7:30pm to 9:30pm on 1 March, 22 March, 5 April, 17 May @YogaDublin Ranelagh. We will connect with the specific moon cycle, the elements of Yoga, with each other, have fun and feel good!
Our bi-monthly focus to start 2019 in January and in February is Kindness.
That’s right Kindness.
Are you a little surprised?! Were you expecting me to go on about making Resolutions?
To tell you to write up your goals list? Or maybe to you thought I’d say things like… “time to yoga, yoga, yoga… meditate, meditate… diet, diet, diet … be more productive… be a certain way… don’t do this… do this…” and that I would lay the pressure on and spout all of these instructions under a guise of supporting our well-being?
Well, surprise! I am not going to suggest that you to do any of that, nor will I be putting that pressure on myself.
So, let’s all take a deep breathe, slow down and ease into 2019 with Kindness!
Be kind to yourself and be kind to others.
And as always, I encourage our focus on kindness to inspire and fuel our yoga, meditation and mindfulness practices, to come into our classes, workshops and sessions, and I am personally excited to start the year keeping this in mind in my practices and in my life in the coming months.
Ahhhh, now that feels good, doesn’t it! But why No to New Year resolutions?
Don’t get me wrong, the start of each year can be a useful time to reflect, review and tune soulfully inwards. But this is more in line with discovering our “aspirations” and revealing “intentions” – and these words have a much softer, lighter feel than “New Year Resolutions”, don’t they?
And while, we certainly benefit in taking personal responsibility and an active role in our lives - New Year resolutions do not offer the most effective, positive way to invite and move towards that. They really are not a vehicle to nurture and uplift ourselves, especially at this time of year, and in fact they often have an opposite effect leaving us feeling discouraged, overwhelmed and disempowered.
Setting resolutions and listing goals, goals, goals at a time of year when we are traditionally still hibernating here the northern hemisphere (or are only beginning to flow into summer in the southern hemisphere) is out of sync with the natural rhythm of the seasons. It is a time of transition when we are meant to go gently with ourselves.
Additionally, in making New Year resolutions we often put unrealistic, unsustainable demands on ourselves that come from listening to that critical voice within that reinforces self-doubt, feeds false beliefs that we are not enough and leaves us feeling deflated and unmotivated.
Instead of self-criticism, if we try to focus on kindness as we reflect, review and look inwards we create healthy self-talk that positively moves us towards putting intentions into action that enable us to realise aspirations that support personal growth, life learning, health, wellness and allow positive changes that enrich our experience of life.
But, where and how do we start to make the kindness shift?
Here’s one simple way:
1.) Start by asking and answering questions that focus on our gifts.
What qualities/characteristics do I love about myself?
What do I love about my body?
What makes me feel good (body/mind/spirit)?
Who uplifts my me and leaves me smiling?
2.) Write it down. There is benefit in writing the answers down – it can be a brainstorm, a list, phrases, whatever works for you – but by writing it down we reinforce kindness and give ourselves recognition for all the beautiful, amazing, perfect things about ourselves!
3.) Finally, coming from that place a of self-love, set the intention to do more of what supports and feeds the positive aspects that are already present in you and your life.
Again, write down your ideas of what you might like to do – you’ll be more likely to do more of those things if you write them down and this can us help identify what they are.
As part of your kindness shift - be sure to surround yourself with people who nurture you and who you nurture. Take time on your own too – and do whatever, however, with whoever, feeds positive thought, words and actions in your life.
Know that in fostering that kindness to ourselves not only makes us happier, healthier and feels good; it gives us the energy to share and spread kindness to others.
“Be Sensitive, Be Honest, Be Open, Cultivate Intimacy and Generosity”
You might recognise those words, it is a phrase that I share and repeat when guiding you in our practices. It is a positive translation of the Yamas, which is the first limb of Yoga that refers to external yogic guidelines.
In Sanskrit the Yamas are “Ahimsa, Satya, Asteya, Brahmacharya, Aparigraha”
I hope that with that you might feel the Yamas resonate that bit more and have you diving deeper in your practice on and off the mat – with Kindness.
Happy 2019! I look forward to sharing space and Kindness over the coming months.
With Love & Blessings
PS: Reminder that I will be doing 3 special Friday evening workshops on 18 Jan, 25 Jan and 1 Feb, 7:30pm to 9:30pm @YogaDublin Ranelagh. Hope you can Join me and start our 2019 feeling good!
Wishing you all a very Happy New Year!
With Love & Blessings, Rani x
Happy Christmas & Happy Season of Giving!
Hope you are enjoying time to relax, refresh, rejuvenate, be merry and have fun!
Sending Gratitude & Appreciation to you beautiful Souls!
Thank you for sharing your time and energy.
Thank you for your wisdom.
Thank you for the chats, requests and the questions.
Thank you for your commitment.
Thank you for your smiles, laughter and hugs.
Thank you for being a never ending source of inspiration.
Thank you for the privilege and the trust that you have given by allowing me to teach, to guide and to share.
Thank you for the gift of your presence.
Thank you for being a part of my life journey.
You are magic!
Our bi-monthly focus for November + December is the Gift and Spirit of Giving.
As always, I encourage this to inspire and fuel our yoga, meditation and mindfulness practices, to come into our classes, workshops and sessions, and I will certainly keep this focus in mind over the coming months for my own personal practices and life.
Happy November, Happy December – the last two months of 2018 are upon us!
As the end of the year and the holiday season approaches we can often feel the pressure mounting - Christmas (here in Dublin) seems to come earlier and earlier each year!
Each of us has our own traditions and unique ways of celebrating or marking this time of year (whether practicing a specific religion or not).
Often this means time spent gathering with friends and family. This social time can be full of fun, love and laughter – but it can also be stressful, have us feeling on edge and exhausted.
It may mean spending time on your own over the holiday season (and many people do). This solo time can be peaceful, contemplative, and nurturing - but can be also be lonely, have us feeling down and agitated.
I personally have done the holidays many ways (and for me the holidays means celebrating Christmas and New Years’). I have shared this time with loved ones and I have also spent it on my own due to various life circumstances, as well as by my own choice, travel or deciding to go on retreat.
The one thing this season has in common for us all, no matter how it’s spent, is it presents us with both blessings and challenges!
It’s easy to get lost in the fun, frenzy and feelings and to forget the insights that this time of year and the season of giving can offer to us.
It is important to remind ourselves that in giving (to others, as well as to ourselves!) there is a beautiful gift… Giving evokes a spirit of Gratitude.
We naturally express gratitude and thanks when receiving, but there is gratitude in the giving too!
Gratitude for having that person to in our life to give to.
Gratitude when giving to ourself, being thankful for the ability to nurture and care for ourself.
This Gratitude is the Gift of Giving!
An article published by The Greater Good Science Centre at UC Berkley notes the following:
In a 2006 study, Jorge Moll and colleagues at the National Institutes of Health found that when people give, it activates regions of the brain associated with pleasure, social connection, and trust, creating a “warm glow” effect.
Other research has found that gratitude is integral to happiness, health, and social bonds. And I would add that gratitude is also integral to connection to ourselves.
Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough, co-directors of the Research Project on Gratitude and Thankfulness, found that teaching college students to “count their blessings” and cultivate gratitude caused them to exercise more, be more optimistic, and feel better about their lives overall.
A study led by Nathaniel Lambert at Florida State University found that expressing gratitude to a close friend or romantic partner strengthens our sense of connection to that person.
I would propose that it would also come to reason that expressing self-gratitude also strengthens our sense of connection to ourselves.
Barbara Fredrickson, a pioneering happiness researcher, suggests that cultivating gratitude in everyday life is one of the keys to increasing personal happiness. “When you express your gratitude in words or actions, you not only boost your own positivity but [other people’s] as well,” she writes in her book Positivity. “And in the process you reinforce their kindness and strengthen your bond to one another.”
So, it seems that science agrees with what ancient wisdom has said for millennia, The Gift of Giving is Gratitude!
We can look to Pantajali’s Yoga Sutras on how to bring this spirit and gift into our practice and ultimately into our life.
On the yoga mat in our posture practice and in our meditation and mindful practices we can look to one of the five Niyamas (internal observances) of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, called Santosha.
Santosha is considered an essential and fundamental foundation of yogic practice.
Often translated as ‘contentment’- Santosha can also be translated, perhaps in a deeper and more useful way, to mean ‘Equanimity.’
Equanimity is a state of psychological mind/soul stability and composure which is balanced and undisturbed by experience of or exposure to emotions, discomfort, or other phenomena that may cause others to lose the balance of their mind/soul.
In essence, from a yogic perspective, Equanimity is the ability to be with what is.
We can practice Santosha (equanimity) in Yoga posture practice by letting go of the desire to attain the perfect looking pose, by working within our current ability and feeling and accepting the experience of the pose as it is without wanting to force or to change it.
We can apply Santosha (equanimity) in our Mediation and Mindful practices by noticing our thoughts, feelings, emotions in a given moment, by observing without judging, without criticising or analysis and by acknowledging and accepting whatever arises.
Through cultivating Santosha (equanimity) in our practices we become present in our life to what is actually happening, we become aware of what experience is being given and of what we are giving.
This allows us to take space for the beautiful Gift of Giving and for Gratitude.
Wishing you Joy, Fun & Laughter and many moments of Gratitude.
And I look forward to sharing space and cultivating Santosha together over the coming months.
With Love & Blessings
Reminder of our bi-monthly Focus of the Month in case you missed it in or perhaps want to read it again & refresh.