The focus for May 2018 is CONNECTION TO THE POWER & WISDOM OF THE BREATHE OF LIFE, and will inspire our yoga and meditation classes, workshops, sessions, and my own personal practices.
With Spring in the air and Summer around the corner (hopefully here in Ireland too!), it seems like everything is on the move and turning a new leaf this time of year.
This time of year often feels uplifting, but can also find us putting pressure on ourselves to go, go, go and do, do, do!
And while a spirit of self-motivation, embracing change and taking action can definitely be positive, the feeling that "I should do" and/or "I have to" can prevent us from taking pause to Just Be!
By connecting to the power of the breathe, we can take pause and foster connection to support ourselves through the spring/summer transition and change of season.
In the Yoga Sutras, Pantanjali refers to the 'dimensions of the breathe' or 'Pranayama' as one of the limbs of Yoga and a key foundation.
Pantanjali guide us, saying that by cultivating a solid foundation of breathe, we will lead ourselves to the experience of the steady, continuous 'flow of energy' (or 'prana'), which is beyond or underneath exhalation, inhalation, and the transitions between them.
We already know that our breathe communicates with us and that it reveals our inner energetic, physical and emotional states.
... when we feel sad or down we sigh, when angry we breathe rapidly, in the grip of fear or nervousness our breathing is shallow from the top of the lungs, when we are tired we yawn... you get the gist!
Even knowing this and that the breathe is key, when I am on the go or in the middle of life's ebb and flow, I sometimes need to be reminded to take a moment to listen, to observe and recognise that my breathe is in fact a tool for empowerment (and I'm guessing that I'm not the only one?!)
It is our breathe that supports our whole-life experience, our vitality, energy and steadiness; it is a key aspect that enables us to be present with ourselves and with others and it supports us as we move through and navigate the journey of life.
This month, I invite us all slow down a little bit, to take pause and bring attention to the power of the breathe, as we connect inwards to our wisdom, our life-force, and to breathe our way to feeling good!
With Love & Blessings
The focus for April 2018 is NURTURING THE INNER FIRE, and will inspire our yoga and meditation classes, workshops, sessions, and my own personal practices.
What I am calling the Inner Fire refers to one of the yogic personal observances (or Niyamas), called ‘Tapas’ – and it is present within all of us!
These fiery, passionate seeds have long been planted within and their fruits are available to us in this present moment.
B.K.S. Iyengar described ‘Tapas’ as cultivating a passion for ‘yoga in action’ that is a determined dedication, and a feeling of aliveness.
He stated “Life without tapas is like a Heart without love.”
This approach feels positive and helps to inspire and motivate me.
I hope that it resonates with you, and also rings true that passion and enthusiasm bring joy, meaning and fun into our lives!
It is our Inner Fire that supports self-esteem, self-worth and confidence; it is a key aspect that enables us to accept others and embrace new experiences and it supports our evolution and growth as we move through the journey of life.
So, this month, I invite us all to connect, to bring focus and attention to our Inner Fire, or Tapas.
Through mindfully awakening core passion, let's release and allow the ‘burning away’ of that which does not serve, and connect to our internal light, to our creative nature and energise body, mind, spirit and soul... and Shine Bright!
With Love & Blessings
The focus for March 2018 is PLANTING INNER SEEDS for growth, acceptance, release and resilience and will inspire our yoga and meditation classes, workshops, sessions with private clients, and my own personal practices.
The month of March marks the beginning of Spring, a season of freshness and planting seeds.
The days can be crisp, but begin to become brighter and Springtime sunshine breathes life back into the flowers, trees and wildlife that surround us.
We often feel an internal sense of renewal during this time as well, and welcome the brightness and lightheartedness of Spring.
This is the ideal time to bring focus internally and dig a little deeper into ourselves.
The energy at this time of year presents the opportunity for taking pause to look inwards and to embrace our authentic Self with appreciation for the journey that has brought us to where we are in this moment.
Taking time to look within and acknowledge the diverse, beautiful, unique and colourful tapestry that make us who we truly are, connects us to our internal workings and inner environment, and to the very centre of ourselves.
When we are willing to dig deeper and reflect past superficial levels of how we define ourselves, we can let go of any inner talk that does not serve and allow ourselves and others to bloom freely!
By connecting mindfully with focus and awareness to Planting Inner Seeds we enable personal evolution, we invite ease and we develop our resilience in the ever-changing ebb and flow of life.
Our March focus will see have us looking inwards to connect, root & ground and breathe, while inviting release and gently awakening into the central energy and very sense of our being.
So, I invite us all to journey, to practice and to live with a spirit of gratitude, appreciation and celebration.
And to be supportive and kind to yourself and to others... and enjoy blooming along the way!
With Love & Blessings
The focus for February 2018 is LOVE, and will inspire yoga and meditation classes, workshops, sessions with private clients and my own personal practices.
The word Love itself brings up so many feelings, images emotions and notions.
And as we come out of January, it is natural to reflect on our well intended new year starts - however, in this process Love can often get lost.
The internal critical voice can arise as we review and assess what has been done and what hasn't been done and often we judge ourselves and others harshly.
So this month I encourage to focus and consider...
Love is an Action! (rather than a feeling or emotion)
Take thoughts, words and actions that foster a strong warmth and affection for yourself and towards others.
This can be tricky; some habits and internal scripts are hard to shift.
The Narada Bhakti Sutra suggests that before you say something, to yourself or to another ask yourself: Is it True? Is it Kind? Is it Necessary?
This pause for thought takes just one mindful moment and can be practiced in yoga posture practice, in meditation, on social media, in our exchanges with others and in all aspects daily life! (And I truly love this simple practice)
It feels good to be loving, considerate and kind, and by cultivating openness we let go of judgements that ultimately do not serve.
By connecting mindfully to Love in action we are attracting and allowing positive energy and experiences to flow into our lives - and we share that possibility with others as well.
So let's awaken our Spiritual Warrior and Open our Hearts with gratitude, with appreciation and with celebration to support and fuel us all along the journey.
With Love & Blessings
PS: Give yourself a little more love this year and join me for a YOGAHEDON transformational holiday & retreat? Soul Journey on the Secret Side of Ibiza 26 May to 1 June 2018 - It is going to be absolutley magical, Just say yes :)
The focus for January 2018 is INTENTION, and will inspire yoga and meditation classes, workshops, sessions with private clients and my own personal pratices.
Intention comes from the Latin intentio(n- ) meaning ‘stretching, purpose’
This purpose and the power of intention enables us to live our best life, to take action, to manifest in the physical; prosperity, opportunities, creativity, spirituality...
Intention supports us and anchors us along our journey.
While we navigate the the ebb and flow of life, intention roots and grounds us into being present and it reminds us to celebrate being here.
So never mind those pesky resolutions in which we often speak to ourselves in negative scripts and set ourselves up for self-criticism and self-judgement.
Let's remember we are all perfect in this moment.
Let's focus our energy and speak to ourselves in an affirmative, positive voice.
Let's root and ground into our purpose and our intention so we can empower ourselves to take actions and to manifest dreams and aspirations into being.
Happy New Year!
With Love & Blessings
“The Core” in Yoga is considered to be both a physical and energetic space.
It is literally the centre of our balance and our strength, on and off the mat. It is a key foundation and aspect of yoga practice that is accesible to everyone, and benefits practitioners of all levels and abilties.
On a physical level, core posture practice focuses on the entire abdonimal region, the waist and the belly, through what I refer to as engaging the external dynamic.
Cultivating the external dynamic, and dynamic activation, in core posture (asana), practice, with focused breathe work (pranayama) and specific core sequences (ullola) builds strength, tones the belly, flattens abdominals, supports the lower back, protects the sacrial joint, and has many other potential physical benefits including improving posture, increasing metabolism and aiding digestion.
But if nothing else, flowing gently through a core practice with some belly busting movements certainly awakens focus, internal awareness and connects us to the inherit intelligence that we already have in body and in mind.
This core connection brings us to an energetic space, through what I refer to as engaging the internal dynamic.
Through this internal dynamic, with mindful movement, we relax the mind bringing ease and effortlessness into our practice and into ourselves.
By awakening the internal dynamic, and internal activation, we also become aware of our core energy. We feel the power of the yogic core as it cultivates resilience, uplifts and energises – and as our practice becomes a little more juicy and delicious!
The issue of the moon and its effects has long been discussed in both science and yoga communities – and I have to admit I am one of those people who loves the moon!
Science tells us that the moon affects tidal rhythms - influencing the rise and fall of sea water levels with an increase in movement from the gravitaional attraction and pull of the Full Moon. (And if you’re wondering if the new moon also affects tides? It does, but I’ll write more about yoga and the new moon another time.)
Midwifes and childbirth professionals often swear that there is a surge in births during the Full Moon. My friend, an experienced midwife and labour & delivery nurse, says she never wants to work on a Full Moon because “it’s so intense” with expectant mother’s waters breaking and a ridiculously high number of deliveries. Ironically, she was born on a Full Moon herself!
On a Full Moon, you will also often hear people comment that their sleep was disrupted, and some studies have shown a Full Moon does affect the level of melatonin (sleep hormone) we produce, so it seems that the moon may indeed affect our sleep.
Some people feel the Full Moon alters their mood or behaviour saying “they went a bit mad.” The word “lunacy”, meaning madness, does come from the ancient Latin word “luna”, meaning moon. And I have found myself and others on a spontaneous night out in unusually ‘top galavanting form’ on more than one Full Moon night, so maybe there’s something in that too!
The moon is said to have a similar effect on us as it has on the sea, causing movement in our internal tides, thus impacting energy levels, joints, muscles, physical and even our emotional life.
We know that biologically humans are made up of mainly water. In adults the percentage of water in our body ranges from aprox. 60% to 70%, and in infants it’s even higher.
Simply put, on a Full Moon there is motion in the ocean, and in ourselves!
So what does any of this have to do with Yoga?
This Full Moon motion happening within our bodies and in ourselves, whether it is felt physically, emotionally or in some other way offers us a rich opportunity.
Yoga posture practice (asana) invites the balance between ‘opposites’, sun and moon, male and female, right and left, and so on. This is expressed in the Sanskrit word “hatha.” All physical aspects of yoga, or yoga posture practice, is a form of ‘ha-tha.’ Translated from Sanskrit, ‘ha’ means “sun”, and ‘tha’ means “moon.” This alone gives us an indication on the yogic connection to the moon, to our environment, as well as the relevance of and our relationship to the movement in the sky.
The Full Moon, and moon cycles, create different energetic experiences that can be compared to the breathe cycle. The Full Moon energy corresponds to the end of inhalation when the energy or life-force (prana) is greatest. We can tap into this energy in our practice to deepen our understanding of the dimensions of the breathe (pranayama) and of our experience of life – after all ‘Breathe is Life!’
A Full Moon naturally occurs during a specific month, time of year and season. So, each moon also holds an individual energy that is in synchronicity with one or more of the five yogic elements of earth, water, air, fire and space. We can reap more benefits from a Full Moon yoga practice that includes consideration and focus on this elemental resonance.
In my own life, I feel a personal influence and connection with the cycles of the moon, both on and off the mat. I have enjoyed cultivating, sharing and guiding practices and techniques that empower a direct experience and embodiment of the benefits of doing moon practices – and it is something that has become a valuable tool and useful part of my own life rhythm.
With Full Moon Yoga practices we can understand and honour each moon and its corresponding, unique energy so that we can connect, deepen and invigorate ourselves in body, in mind and in spirit to feel good, to be present and ultimately enrich our experience, our resilience and our openness to the ever-changing rhythms of life.
Moon-ing never felt so good!
NOTE: There are some practices that would not be suitable to do on moon days (such as ashtanga yoga, power yoga and some pranayama practices.) If practicing on your own, I would advise you choose to not to do these stronger physical practices on Full Moon & New Moon days. If in doubt ask an experienced yoga teacher for their advice or you can always just take the moon day off.
* This article was first published in Positive Life Magazine in 2012. It shares my memories of the first yoga retreat I attended back in 1998-ish, as well as some thoughts I had at the time on the benefits of retreat.
Full of nerves, I sent the email and booked myself into my very first yoga retreat.
I had no idea what to expect, I was excited but to be honest had my moments of wanting to back out as well. I was committed. I was going to head off to study yoga and to take time retreating, offering myself a different holiday experience.
When I arrived at the centre, I was greeted by a friendly reassuring smile, I felt like a child on the very first day of school, brimming over with curiosity and a belly full of butterflies.
I had heard many people say how beneficial going on a yoga retreat was- though I hadn’t really completely understood what they meant- but I was here now.
I unpacked and then went out to meet my fellow retreatees. Some were seasoned, many newbies, some solo and others coming with friends but everyone finding the lay of the land, like myself, before going to the yoga room for our first class together.
The first class was a perfect initiation, I was most pleased that I felt that I had done well, for a novice anyway, and was ready for the delicious meal that awaited us.
Over dinner, the same friendly face that welcomed me reviewed the weekly programme with the group. We also went through the retreat ‘rules’ which were really just a few things to remind us to be considerate, as we would all be sharing each others space…and amidst the chats and laughter…I knew I had arrived to a nurturing, positive and fun environment.
I was beginning to realise that I had truly embarked on a unique experience and as the weeks flew by the daily schedule was relaxed - while somehow supporting each of our own personal journeys - through yoga sessions, meditation, discussions, sharing meals while making new friends, with plenty of time for relaxing on my own as well.
Some days it felt easy and care free, while others were more challenging for me. By the end of the two weeks I was wishing I could stay longer and understood that the time I had taken on retreat would give me long-term benefits.
So what are the benefits of retreat?
- Simply put, Yoga retreats give you the fun and adventure of a holiday; while at the same time ensure you feel refreshed and fully revitalized.
- Retreat enables you to not only benefit for the months to follow but potentially for the rest of your life. You will, surprisingly, discover your optimum vitality, learn to relax, reduce stress levels and experience rich relationships in life through Yoga retreat.
- Retreats are normally off the beaten path or in unique locations. Most retreats are in locations where there is hardly any traffic or noise but for the sounds of the birds and of nature.
- In an environment of harmony, you get a real chance to relax, meditate and experience the benefits of Yoga.
- You will surely experience new dimensions of yourself that you may never before known existed; It was through retreat that I came to understand that to go on an inward journey of self-enquiry, within the exploration which is Yoga, is truly the greatest adventure of them all!