Transform your Mind, Body and Spirit

Yogas chitta vritti nirodha

(Yoga is the silencing of the fluctuations of the mind)

Though many people think of yoga as a fitness regime, it actually is a comprehensive way of life/ life philosophy that originated more than 5,000 years ago in India. The word “yoga” means ‘union’ or ‘connection’, which refers to union of the body, mind and spirit. Conscious connection to something allows us to feel and experience that thing, person, or experience. The experience of connection is a state of yoga, a joyful, blissful, fulfilling experience. Patanjali begins the yoga sutras by defining yoga as “citta vrtti nirodaha” (YS 1.2) which is often translated simply as ‘Yoga is the ability to silence/calm/direct/restrain the fluctuations of the consciousness/mind’. Patanjali goes on to say that when in this state of yoga, the practitioner then abides in his or her own/true nature.

In my last post I mentioned the sense of mind, body and spirit connection that Savasana provides but the truth of the matter is that the practice of yoga fuses the body, mind and spirit through meditation, breathing and physical postures. The postures, also called asanas, belong to a branch of yoga called Hatha yoga and were developed to strengthen the body, improve health and prepare for meditation. In a modern yoga practice the postures may serve any or all of these purposes but in my opinion for best results, attending a yoga class that focuses on meditation, breathing and physical postures yields the best results.

According to Yoga Journal and my yoga teacher trainers, there are numerous benefits for taking up yoga. If you have been reading my Blog or practicing yoga regularly, I probably don’t need to convince you that yoga improves the body, mind and spirit but I have put together a list just in case 😉

Body:

  • Improves flexibility
  • Builds muscle strength and tone
  • Improves respiration, energy and vitality
  • Perfects posture
  • Prevents cartilage and joint breakdown
  • Protects your spine
  • Improves bone health
  • Increases blood flow
  • Drains lymphs and boosts immunity
  • Ups your heart rate
  • Reduces blood pressure
  • Regulates the adrenal glands
  • Lowers blood sugar
  • Improves balance
  • Maintains the nervous system
  • Maintains a balanced metabolism
  • Releases tension in the limbs
  • Boosts immune system functionality
  • Gives your lungs room to breathe
  • Prevents IBS and other digestive problems
  • Eases pain
  • Helps keep you drug free
  • Employs sounds to soothe your sinuses
  • Keeps allergies and viruses at bay
  • Supports connective tissue
  • Assists with weight reduction
  • Improves cardio and circulatory health
  • Improves athletic performance
  • Boosts sexual performance
  • Protects from injury
  • Lessens chronic pain, such as lower back pain, arthritis, headaches and carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Reduces insomnia
  • Increases body awareness

Mind:

  • Makes you happier
  • Initiates a healthy lifestyle
  • Helps you focus
  • Relaxes your system
  • Helps you sleep deeper
  • Creates peace of mind
  • Increases self-esteem
  • Builds awareness for transformation
  • Guides your body’s healing in your mind’s eye
  • Affects change
  • Encourages self care
  • Helps manage stress
  • Helps develop coping skills
  • Builds a more positive outlook on life
  • Creates mental clarity and calmness
  • Improves mental well-being
  • Relieves chronic stress patterns
  • Relaxes the mind
  • Centers attention
  • Sharpens concentration
  • Creates self-awareness
  • Fights food cravings

Spirit:

  • Provides inner strength
  • Connects you with guidance
  • Benefits your relationships
  • Helps you serve others

Although many people come to yoga for the physical practice, I believe that people keep coming back for all the other wonderful benefits that yoga provides. If you have never given yoga a chance, I encourage you to try it today!

I hope you enjoyed reading my Blog post. Keep on reading my next post to find out more about my take on meditation.

 

Namaste, Natalie

Why Inspire?

When a crisis hits, you have to dig deep. I tried everything and did absolutely everything to learn to walk again but the one thing that had drastic long term effects on my entire being was yoga. Yoga helped me tap into reserves of inner strength to find new hope, resilience, and happiness. My teachers guided me to recovery, provided me with motivation when times were tough, helped me ‘shut down’ my overactive mind and just relax, taught me how to deal with and manage stress levels, provided me with inner strength and resilience but most of all they INSPIRED me to be the best me that I can be. Like all of my yoga teachers, past and present, I would also like to INSPIRE others.

As I have alluded to in other posts, yoga is more than just poses. In fact, the asanas (poses/postures) comprise just a small part of the overall Eight Limbs of Yoga, as spelled out in the Yoga Sutras and it was through the introduction and exploration of the asanas, pranayama (breath work) and meditation that created the greatest transformations in my life.

The two greatest realisations that I made through the exploration of the asanas, pranayama (breath work) and meditation that have changed my life can be summed up in the following two inspirational quotes:

“When you find peace within yourself, you become the kind of person who can live at peace with others.” ~ Peace Pilgrim

It’s only human to get upset, to get mad, to be sad, stressed out, etc. but there has to be balance. If you stay for too long in these states, they will eventually take over.

If you allow these emotions to take over you, to take over your life, they will eventually control you and you will then be at their mercy. At the mercy of your feelings and emotions, at the mercy of your moods, and the one in charge of your life will no longer be you, but them. Instead the thing in charge of your life and your well being will be your moods, your emotions and your feelings.

Yoga has helped me learn how to work with these emotions to make my life easier, happier, and better. My teachers have taught me how to take time to observe myself, my thoughts and feelings, and to try to understand what it is that really bothers me so much, and choose to do something about it. They have helped me release and relieve stress and have introduced me to strategies that can be used outside the yoga studio. Through this practice I have found greater inner peace and in return feel greater peace with others.

Yoga reminds us that you are the one in control; it’s always up to you. Your happiness and your unhappiness are just choices you make.

Negativity can only feed with negativity; anger can only feed with more anger. When you choose to step back from the dark, things will change for you, and you will find inner peace. Your relationships will improve, you will be happier, and you will find peace. Yoga can guide you to get back to being true to yourself; back to being you.

As a Yoga teacher, I would like to INSPIRE others to guide people back to being in control of themselves instead of letting their moods,  emotions and feelings rule their lives.

“I have been a seeker and I still am, but I stopped asking the books and the stars. I started listening to the teaching of my Soul.” ~ by Rumi

Through yoga and my yoga journey I have started to listen to myself and ask myself ‘What do you really need?’ and when faced with a tough decision ‘What would a person who truly loved themself do?’

Yoga has taught me is that I need to develop the habit of checking in with myself; taking ownership of my thoughts and feelings, trusting my body and my senses, allowing all of my complexity, all of my sensitivity, and all of my uncertainty, owning and aligning with my natural strengths and seeing a set back as a challenge that I can overcome through hard work and patience. In other words, getting more clearly connected to myself!

Yoga has inspired me to eat better, be more active, continue to enjoy my life and travel, be more adventurous, face my fears (except spiders LOL), speak my truth, listen to my intuition, seek out challenges, accept failure as part of the learning process, take care of myself, get out in nature as much as possible, and, most importantly, love myself just the way I am because I am perfect… and in case you weren’t already aware, so are you!

I have a strong desire to contribute to the uplifting of people, circumstances, and even the planet- to INSPIRE people and bring meaning and possibility to where it is P1120962needed. 

May you be WELL

May you be HAPPY

May you be PEACEFUL

May you be LOVED

May you be INSPIRED!

I hope you enjoyed reading my Blog posts so far. Keep on reading my next post to find out more about the mind, body and spirit connection and benefits of yoga.

Love yourself, love your day, love your life!

Natalie

My Philosophy & About Me

Dedicated to my Nanna

I actually began my yoga journey from a very young age when I spent time with my grandma practicing different yoga poses. I have fond memories of her praising my flexibility as I bent and twisted myself into various poses. I cherish these moments dearly in my memories as they helped me build such positive feelings surrounding yoga from such a young age. However, while my yoga journey started long before 2011, I wasn’t really serious about yoga until 2011 when it seemed I had nothing else to lose.

I was initially drawn to the physical aspect to aid my recovery from a serious car accident that left me unable to walk unassisted (see my previous Blog: How did I find yoga?). However over time, with the introduction of pranayama (breathing techniques) and meditation to my yoga regime, I began to experience profound peace, healing, grounding and clarity in my life. It was then that I discovered that there was so much more to yoga than just the physical aspect.

The practice of yoga has become an integral part of my life journey and I have studied and practiced many different styles of yoga. I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge with gratitude the inspiration and wisdom of my teachers: Marina Frei, Amanda Holmström, Tatijana (Tanya Koriander)- from Marina Yoga in Thailand, and Julie Gargano to name a few.

I teach yoga as a tool for growth, healing, self-empowerment and transformation. I teach a Hatha style of yoga with built in meditation and pranayama work designed to strengthen and challenge the body, while teaching the mind to relax and embrace the path of awakening the heart.

My classes weave movement, alignment, breath work and meditation as a path to discovering each person’s unique beauty, inner light and empowering the individual within, drawing inspiration from my continued lessons with teachers at Prana House and other opportunities to practice yoga under others’ instructions.

I am also an avid traveller, animal lover, food lover, and a holistic therapist (Reiki Level I trained), and am passionate about learning more about and discussing eco-conscious living.

I hope you enjoyed reading my Blog post. Keep on reading my next post to find out more about why I chose the name INSPIRE.

 

May your thoughts be of peace, your words of love, and your deed of kindness. – Alexandra Domelle

 

Why Savasana?

In the waning moments of my Yoga practice, I would find myself restless. I would think about everything and anything; what would I have for dinner, emails I had to write, plot lines for Home and Away, I would even mentally run through all of the things that I should be doing instead of lying there doing nothing. I was itching to get out of there and get to work.

Questions would run through my head on a loop: How much longer will we be here? How long has it been? Are we going overtime today? To add to my woes, my body often felt cold, itchy, or unsettled, adding a physical element to my mental distractions.

Sometimes I would even open my eyes and look around the room. Everyone else looked so peaceful and made it look easy. Maybe these people didn’t have anything else to do with their time I’d ask myself, starting another line of questioning.

I was often tempted to skip out early as I was so focused on the many tasks that I had to do (mostly for others). But other than my yoga practice a couple of times a week, what was I really doing for myself?

What is Savasana?

Savasana is perhaps the most important part of any Yoga practice. It is also considered the most difficult pose (and certainly found it extremely difficult). While Savasana might look like a nap at the end of your yoga practice, it’s actually a fully conscious pose aimed at being awake, yet completely relaxed. In Savasana- also known as corpse pose- you lie down on your back, arms and legs are spread out at about 45 degrees, the eyes are closed and the breath deep, practicing eliminating tension from the body. Your whole body and mind are relaxed so you can fully assimilate the benefits of your asana practice. Ideally, this posture lasts anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes depending on the yoga teacher. However, even a few minutes of Savasana is said to have powerful benefits.

The Benefits of Savasana

According to Yoga Journal Savasana helps relieve mild depression, high blood pressure, headaches, fatigue, and insomnia. It can also calm the nervous system and promote equanimity in your entire body. Fatigued muscles get to relax, tense shoulders and jaws soften. It stimulates blood circulation and the eyes quiet down to reflect a quieter state of mind.

Some personal benefits of Savasana include releases stress, relaxes my whole body, improves concentration, relaxes my muscles (especially in my jaw, neck and shoulders) and calms my overactive mind.

What I have learnt about Savasana

I later found out that it’s normal for the mind to try to resist deep relaxation and all of the thoughts, feelings and distractions that I was experiencing were all common challenges of Savasana. It is the ultimate act of conscious surrender. Savasana takes practice and patience to surrender easily- two lessons that I needed to learn.

I still live my life in the fast lane. I cram everything in, I talk quickly, process quickly, and rarely put off things that can be done today for tomorrow (even if it means working 12-14 hour days). However, I now take the time to not only practice Savasana but I also appreciate how wonderful and valuable this time is in taking care of myself.

With the world moving so quickly, cultivating the art of Savasana is more valuable than ever and I have found the benefits invaluable. Our society tends to place greater value on speed and productivity but learning how to do nothing is a skill that has helped me become more productive when I need to be while taking care of myself both mentally and physically. It has helped me learn how to completely surrender, stop fighting the clock, and make space for peace and harmony to fill my soul. Savasana is the one thing that I do to bring mental relaxation and peace in my life. It is like hitting the restart button and rebooting your mind, body and spirit.

Needless to say Savasana is now my favourite part of a Yoga class. I love taking the time to relax my whole body, calm my mind, and release stress, fatigue and tension.

I hope you enjoyed reading my second Blog post. Keep on reading my next post to find out more about me as a Yoga teacher.

Namaste, Natalie

(The light in me respects, honours, loves and bows to the light in you)

How did I find Yoga?

My Personal Story (in a nutshell)

P1120922
Weekend Relaxation

Young, carefree, and cashed up after working in China for 18 months with the world at my feet I began another one of my travel adventures: a year of travel through Central and South America. I arrived in Mexico in June and couldn’t wait to start my next adventure. I had wanted to go to South America for so many years and at long last it was finally a reality. I started to travel down through Mexico, Belize, Guatemala and Honduras. It was in Honduras that my entire world changed overnight and my dreams of South America were put on hold.

On the 28th of August, 2010 I was in a serious taxi accident where I received multiple fractures to my ankle and partially tore my ACL. Somehow my Tibia and Fibula bowed around the ankle area so that my lower leg and ankle was as big as my thigh. My first operation was in Honduras, which was a traumatic experience in itself, whereby the surgeon put a whole heap of metal in my ankle, including a diastasis screw to pull my bones back together again.

Needless to say I had to learn how to walk again. The surgeons were not optimistic about my recovery and said that I would never walk unassisted again. Despite already spending hours a day at the gym in the hydro-pool, ticking over the k’s on the bike and rebuilding my muscles using various weight machines, I must say that this comment was probably the catalyst for me to look for other answers. I sought out another surgeon, had a Reiki session and started doing yoga. The surgeon agreed to do a third operation on my ankle and the yoga… well it changed my life.

Back in 2011, when I began doing yoga seriously I had no balance. I had trouble walking with my one arm crutch and often walked into doorframes. My leg muscles had wasted away from 8 months of hopping about on two crutches and my right leg strength was drastically less than my left leg despite the hard work I was putting in at the gym.

The yoga classes I took were gentle and my teacher was kind and caring, as have been all of my yoga teachers. She gave me options and time to move between poses. I saw improvements in my balance almost every class and I began to regain strength, balance and flexibility but the physical benefits of yoga was just the beginning of my journey and transformation.

I loved going to yoga classes; I just felt so good afterwards. As I continued to recover and returned to a high stress job along with completing my Masters, I continued to go to yoga regularly. I loved moving but found the stillness uncomfortable. I didn’t like being alone with my thoughts and found it hard to relax and just breath. So as you can imagine, for me the worst part of a yoga class in those early years was Savasana. I mean what good is just lying there doing nothing going to do anyway? It wasn’t going to make me fitter, stronger, more flexible, further improve my balance or any of the other reasons I started going to yoga for… but as time went on I found out just how wrong I was!

I hope you enjoyed reading my first Blog post. Keep on reading my next post entitled Why Savasana to find out how yoga transformed me and how it can transform you too!

Namaste, Natalie

(The light in me respects, honours, loves and bows to the light in you).