Soulsong Yoga Therapy Berkshire

personal yoga practice, yoga studies, walking with my dogs, cycling and vegan ayurveda studies

Raw Porridge

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I can’t remember where I got the recipe for raw porridge, but I have modified it, think most of us do that tho.

This is my second breakfast of the day, around about 9.30am.

All ingredients are organic and put into a blender.

Lemon water (I always save a few drops from my morning lemon brew)
1 apple, quartered. Everything goes in.
1 Banana
2 tbsps. ground flaxseed
1 tbsp. hemp seed
1/2 tbsp. cinnamon

and to nibble with my raw porridge I like to have a handful of almonds. The herbal brew you see there is liquorice.

This breakfast sets me up and keeps me going till lunch time, without bloating me out or making me feel sluggish.

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Morning Veggie Smoothie

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I have this smoothie every morning, after my yoga practice and before I take my dogs out. Fills me up for the trek without being heavy in the belly and is what my body needs to start the day.

All ingredients are organic;

1 pint of cooled green tea (loose tea)
2 carrots
2 sticks of celery
Generous handful of spinach
1 pear
2 tbsp. Chai Seeds

Makes 2 pints of smoothie, which I neck as quickly as I can and then we’re off out the door.

Love peace & happiness

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Where To Start A Good Day

I’m no expert on yoga, know basic nutrition and I’m far from being a chef, putting food together is always a hit and a miss, but I am savvy. Knowing full well what healthy choices are and that if I don’t make those healthy choices, then my past continues to be in the present and I’ve learnt nothing, I’m not being responsible for myself and somewhere along the line I can expect my body to be unwell.

One day it dawned on me, fnar fnar fnar, that those healthy choices need to be made first thing in the morning. How I start the day has a high probability, of how I cause the rest of my day to unfold. So I set about making changes, which totally rocked my world and are now my morning ritual.

The first to change was my morning body clock and to get up earlier, ideal time for what I was aiming to achieve was 5.30am but that wasn’t going to happen over night and if I tried getting up that early from the start, the likelihood was, it would fail. So I started by going to bed earlier and getting up 15 minutes earlier than my regular time, slowly introducing earlier times until 5.30am felt easy to do, everyday. I now love getting up early, it’s so quiet and there isn’t much that’s gunna disturb me and is perfect for a mindful yoga session. Anyway, getting up, I don’t use an alarm clock instead I wake up to a Lumie light clock, which simulates the rising of the sun. One of the problems with today’s society, is that it wakes up unnaturally and this is the first blockage in the body’s natural rhythm. The harsh continuous tones of a regular alarm clock set of the fear and fight hormone, adrenaline, which of course creates stress and tension, and that’s before you even start your day. The Lumie switches on a very dim glow half an hour before the required time set. The glow, like the sun, gradually gets brighter n brighter and as it does, so the body reacts and begins to wake, gradually the eyes open and its light. My body is now reacting to the light earlier in the process and so I get to wake up slowly, no need for the harsh continuous tones of a regular alarm clock.

The second change, which I combined with the getting up earlier change, was to introduce a yoga session first thing in the morning. As I had decided to change my lifestyle to that of a yogi, I needed to start with the fundamentals, that’s not exercise using postures, but sitting in meditation. The sitting is a lot tougher than I thought, in fact I’d go as far as to say it’s tougher than postures. Sitting for meditation, my mind didn’t like being ignored, it would throw all it could at me to try and get my attention, and 5 minutes in, I was either bored or frustrated. So instead of causing myself psychological torture, I set about doing breathing exercises of about 10 minutes and built this up over the weeks, into a full 30 minutes. I then found meditation easier and started with 5 minutes and since have increased to now 25 minutes. After a couple of weeks of these first two changes I began to feel different, feeling a sense of calm in my day, my attention to matters had clarity and wasn’t distracted so easily, and because I was doing something so positive at the start of the day, I could feel that positivity staying with me through the rest of my day. Some weeks later I started to explore the postures and when I did, I was so surprised to find out how stiff my body was first thing in the morning, in comparison to what I am familiar with later in the day. From the morning sessions, I noticed later in the day, how more subtle my body was in comparison to what I was already familier with. Days into adding some postures to my yoga session, the morning stiffness in my body got less and less and the subtlety in the afternoon practice got more and more …. See where I’m going with this?

Third change, which I cottoned on to not long after change one and two. I read that in order to practice breathing exercises and postures effectively in the morning, I needed to have a poo before the session, how the hell was I going to manage that? OK, knowing that in order to get the bowels to empty, the digestive system needs to be active and I need to be well rehydrated, so instead of having a quick glass of cold tap water, I introduced drinking fresh but cooled boiled water. The boiled water was very refreshing, pleasant and I felt so much more awake from sipping cooled boiled water, obviously rehydrating, but I didn’t feel the urge to poo. Then, just by chance, I saw a post from a friend on Facebook about lemon water in general, and decided to kick start my day with a fresh lemon brew and yep you guessed it, within minutes I was sat on the loo, cleansing. There are so many more benefits to kick starting your day with a lemon water, vitamins, cleansing, energy, balanced pH levels, etc etc etc, seriously, you really should give it a try! So now, before going to bed, I fill 2 flasks with freshly boiled water, these are then ready for my ritual the next morning, one for lemon water and the second for introducing the neti pot, also into the third change.

The neti pot, I was curious and that’s how I began using one. Before I used a neti pot, I would just blow my nose before the breathing exercises but this always felt harsh on the inside of my nose, so finding the benefits of the neti pot very welcoming! My nasal passages are not just clear for the breathing exercises but they are clear all day, its like I have no restriction to my breath. See, its how you start your day that will reflect how you are for the rest of the day.

Last change, was breakfast following my yoga session. I felt the need to keep the continuity of this ‘good start’ to my day, I didn’t think eating a bowl of cereal so soon after a practice was what my body needed, plus my dogs now at my heels to go out for their morning trek. So what ever I ate had to be quick, I had to get it down my neck, quick and it was best that it wasn’t heavy in my belly. And that’s how I began investigating and exploring vegetable smoothies, not juices, I prefer there to be no waste and a meal rather than just a drink. “So”, I hear you say, “when do you eat a fulfilling breakfast?” I have a second breakfast when I return from taking the dogs out, which is about 2 hours later. I’m hungry then, my body has had some brisk exercise, so metabolic rate is high and will utilise the food I put into it very quickly, rather than it sat inside me for hours and hours.

My ‘good start’ is now 5.30am rise and shine, lemon water, neti pot n a poo. On the mat for an hour and half yoga session, consists of a Viniyoga practice with pranayama (breathing exercises), dhyanam (meditation), a short mantra and shavasana (relaxation). Neck a veggie smoothie and then out into the meadows with my dogs, back home for a second breakfast and so the rest of my day can begin, at about 9.30am, which I then prepare for the day’s work.

So now, I very rarely have a bad day, I feel genuinely content and happy with my life, there is nothing I need to make the days any happier, I make much more informed choices about matters that need my attention and having to spend about 85% of my day with myself, is a pleasant isolation, I don’t feel alone. I sleep better, my body doesn’t feel old and I don’t have a sense of guilt hanging over me about how I live.

My present yoga teacher, reminded us that to over come bad habits we need to make an effort towards healthier changes, and taught us its not just deciding to make a change but to repeat and build on those changes, till they become good habits that are stronger than our bad habits.

Love peace & happiness

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A Plastered Yogi

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Yep up to the knee in resin, a green sticky bandage, graffitied with flower power stickers and co-ordinating nail polish, complete with my new barefoot sandals. The cast has been on for 6 weeks and is being taken off tomorrow YIPPEEEEE!!!! This is the reason why I haven’t been blogging about my trekking adventures with Rosie-Moomoo, why I haven’t been ‘avin it large on my bike and a delay to getting back on the slackline and the wall. Basically, life for me has been at a one leg stand still but I have still managed to practice a floor based yoga session in the morning and a yoga buzz session in the afternoon, if I didn’t do something, I think I would have gone mad with pent-up energy. Still managed to get to all my classes thanks to the love and help of participants and students, who went out of their way to share the lift rota to the classes and home again, I feel so loved.

So lesson learned here, even tho the journey from A to B and back again is just a few yards, and its chucking it down with rain, do not wear crocs as these things cause one to aquaplane, resulting in a fractured left fibula. Still no soft tissue damage, so looking forward to getting back on it pretty dam quick and my first mission is to take my dogs out and enjoy watching them running about free with mother nature. Happy days!

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Don’t You Just Love It When The Penny Drops

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I’m really beginning to understand the true meaning of yoga, in that I see it as detachment of desire, desire being bondage, resulting in disappointment from expectation. Yoga is a practice of dispassion, non-self judgement and is to slow us down so that we can change the mind. Yoga is so much more than a physical practice, and I believe that when one brings their awareness to the journey, rather than a goal, we find freedom from the bitter sweet that the mind manifests as emotions.

Love peace & happiness

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The First Relationship ………

breathe

…… Is with the breath and so is the last relationship, and yet when making healthy choices for ourselves, we put the body first.   The body lies, but the breath never lies, one can cheat with the body but one cannot cheat the breath. Our emotions manifest themselves in our breath and the breath reveals whether we are forcing or making an effort.

I’m attending the Centre of Yoga Studies in Bristol which was founded by Paul Harvey, a student of DKV Desikachar of 22 years. I was already aware of the importance of breathing effectively and I knew to be mindful and align the breathing during asana practice, but what I didn’t know was how badly I was breathing despite my years of practicing yoga. In lessons with Paul, we were put to the test, to see if our focus was truly on our breath or on our egos, ie to get the asana perfect. I learned that day that my ego is bigger than I thought and that my focus was more on the incentive of a goal rather than the journey. Doing some very basic dynamic movements and putting the main attention to the quality of the breath, I was puffed out, I cheated with my body to reach the end of each breath and then I cheated some more, and had a quick few breaths in the transition of each movement, I wasn’t practicing yoga at all.

Since that first lesson, I have made changes to how I practice the asana path of yoga and my attention is much more focused on the breath. With inspiration from Paul, I am now using a metronome of 60 beats per minute and counting a designated number of beats for the inhale and a designated number of beats for the exhale. The exhale should be longer than the inhale, (even during relaxed breathing) so when using the counts there are 1.5 x more beats in the exhale than the inhale, a simple example is inhale 4 counts and an exhale is 6 counts. The changes to my practice are very noticeable but the one that sticks out the most, is my ability to detach from the mind and its constant efforts to interrupt my focus. The other is that because I have a clearer mind, I am noticing my physical action much more and able to adjust with clarity and steadiness.

I have two practice sessions six days a week, an early morning and after lunch. The morning practice I have changed completely as a result of what I have discovered and now building this practice according to the teachings inspired to me by Paul Harvey. The morning practice is not about exercise but about reminding the body of it’s natural rhythms, from breathing to circulation, from releasing blocked and restricted energy paths to building a strong foundation to meditate. It’s taken me many years of trying out different yoga styles to find a path that is right for me and I believe I have found it.

Love peace & happiness

 

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How Meditation Helped Me Through Breast Cancer

My choice of and most beneficial experience of meditation that I would like to tell you about, is during the period that I was told I had breast cancer and from that day, through the treatments and what has stayed with me to this present day.  Being told you have cancer is a mind explosion of emotion, you don’t know where to start getting a hold of the mental chaos, and in yoga texts this mental state is called Ksipta.  I had to get control, remain positive and be strong to face what was going to change the course of the rest of my life.

Yoga saved me from myself, not the asanas I’ve been physically fit most of my life, but the mindfulness within the asana practice and the meditation.  I prefer to use vipassana meditation, a path that my first 121 teacher introduced me to some years ago.  I have dabbled with lead meditation but it distracts me.  Self-observation with only the sound of one’s breath flowing in unison with the sound of the cosmos, is what suits me more.

The meditation didn’t switch the thoughts off, to think it would would be unrealistic, but what meditation gave me was the time to slow the mind down.  In yoga texts we are taught that meditation is a path to the mental state known as nirodha; being focused exclusively to one thing without disturbance from other thoughts or external interruption, but to be true to myself, during the fight with breast cancer, my mental state was not going to be able to focus towards that.  What I was able to achieve, was to be between the mental states called Viksipta and Ekagrata.  Viksipta mind state is with obstacles, doubts and uncertainties but also knowing what it needs, wants and has some consistency and some purpose.  Ekagrata mind state has clearance, little distraction, moves forward with direction and can keep attention.

Using vipassana meditation on a daily basis through my diagnosis and treatments, kept my mind feeling positive, I was able to remain confident when choosing healthier changes to my life, especially through the treatment.  I felt well in myself, I felt physically and mentally strong to be able to get through and to the other side, I didn’t need the months that I was told I would need to recover from surgery, I continued to work through the majority of my treatment and not feel exhausted, I was able to keep some of my daily life as routine as I possibly could and I put this all down to the meditation from yoga.   Treat the mind and you’ll treat the body.

Love peace & happiness

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