To meditate or not to meditate… that is the question (Part 2)

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My struggles with meditation

While as a child (See: To meditate or not to meditate…Part 1) and whilst in hospital I found meditating easy (See: Road to Dhyana), I never really knew that I was doing it- I just did it. So surprisingly, when I was formally introduced to the practice of meditation through my yoga classes I must admit, I found it quite difficult to sit and clear away all my ‘head chatter’ so that I could focus all my energy on being open and present. I used to be able to find a million excuses for not taking even 5 minutes a day to sit and be quiet.

The ray of light through the clouds

That was until I went to a yoga retreat with Antonia Pont who read the following piece while we were meditating which she called sitting. It resonated with me so profoundly that it changed the way I thought and felt about meditating and practicing meditation. I hope you enjoy my condensed version of it and get as much as I did out of this insightful piece of writing:

As quoted in the book The heart of Practice- Understanding yoga from inside written by Orit Sen-Gupta, Uchiyama said that “people are living beings that have a head, and that in this head, thoughts and emotions are running about, arising and disappearing. That’s why it’s totally normal to think while sitting [meditating]. Just like there are secretions of hormones flowing in our organs, one can view thoughts as secretions of the consciousness. It’s just that at times, if we’re not careful, and sometimes even if we are, these secretions influence us and activate us too much.” (p.26).

The book continues to say “The most important thing in the practice of sitting is simply to let go, or relax. When we do this, we can see anything that comes up in our mind as the general landscape of our life.” (p.26).

Uchiyama is then quoted as saying “the deep skies never disturb the white clouds that are flowing in them.” (p.26).

There is no need for the sky to get rid of the clouds and there is no need for you to get rid of or get frustrated by your reoccurring thoughts during meditation. Instead, simply think of your thoughts as fluffy white clouds that gently float in and out of your mind, don’t hold onto them, just notice them and let them glide on by.

What does meditation mean to me now?

Meditation is…

… the transformation of the mind

… feeling fresh and alive

… a state of serenity, peace and clarity

… pleasure minus excitement

… a thrill without anxiety

… love without hatred

… absolute joy and happiness

Mediation is a lifelong gift, something you can call on at any time.

So when asked: Should I try meditating? I say: Why not!

Why not give it a try today?

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Namaste, Natalie

Road to Dhyana

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If you haven’t already read my previous Blogs: “The 8 limbs of Yoga” & “To meditate or not to meditate… that is the question (Part 1)”, I suggest you read them before continuing this post.

Dhyana, meditation or contemplation is the 7th limb of the 8 limbs of yoga. This post is called ‘Road to Dhyana’ because meditation is hard to achieve; it is a long and arduous journey. Sometimes, I can fully meditate and other times I am just practicing Dharana (concentrating) which is the step that comes before Dhyana.

I started meditating before I even knew I was meditating. As a young child I would sit in the sun in my mum’s beautiful garden with my back against the garage wall and… just sit and observe my thoughts without getting caught up in it. Sometimes I would get distracted by surrounding noises or a particularly interesting cloud, but for the most part I would just sit and observe. Then somewhere along the way- around my teenage years, I lost my ability to just sit and meditate. I had to always be doing something; with school, work and a busy social life there was little time to just sit.

But like everything else in my life, I found meditation again in my time of need. Whilst laying in a hospital bed in Honduras my ability to temporarily ‘slip away’ provided me with some relief from the terrifying situation that I was in and the pain that I should have been experiencing.

You see, after my accident I was taken first to a public hospital and then to a private hospital and finally to another private hospital. While the public hospital was beyond comprehension, it did not cause me too much trauma as I was there for only a few hours. However the second hospital was one hell of a traumatic experience, one in which I needed to escape from.

I lay in the hospital bed for 4 days in a foreign country with the only person who could speak English constantly telling me that I needed to give them money before I lost my leg. They refused me antibiotics for any infections and no pain killers were administered. My ankle and lower leg were a big as my thigh as my bones in my leg had bowed. I was scared, lonely and at first, in a lot of pain.

Luckily, I had meditation. Meditation provided me with temporary relief through diverting my attention and distracted me from the source of my pain by allowing me to focus on something else. My real pain and suffering thoughts and emotions were held in abeyance. I had learnt how to not give them any attention- to tune them out. My attention was elsewhere, and the relief was palpable.

Of course this isn’t a forever­‐state; it’s temporary. Relief is lovely but, by its very nature, it’s short­‐lived. I am in no way endorsing anyone to use meditation to escape their pain or suffering. For me I was able to use meditation to provide me with temporary relief from a certain situation that I knew would not last forever.

For those people out there reading this and thinking “Great! I can meditate my problems away” think again! These problems, issues, emotions, or pain keep on arising because they need your attention. They show up to be healed, blessed, and transformed but when you’re using spiritual practice to seek relief you’re doing the exact opposite. Meditation­‐as‐relief is an escape strategy and not a healthy way to deal with you problems. When you seek to escape thoughts and emotions you’re not dealing with them and instead you’re denying them what they need to transform.

Instead I suggest that you use meditation to help understand it, come to terms with it and perhaps find ways in which you can begin heal it. Dr Ian Gawler of the Ian Gawler Foundation states that “No matter where in your life you want to see improvement, meditation can help. It does not matter what age you are, your culture or beliefs; meditation is for everyone and can provide you with great benefits, many of which have been scientifically confirmed. This simple, yet powerful mind training tool, can bring long-term improvement to your health, well-being, relationships and career.” Mindbody Mastery. I can certainly testify that meditation has brought long-term improvement to my health and well-being and I am starting to use it for personal growth and to improve my relationships and career.

 

Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu

(May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words, and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all).

Om, Shanti.

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To meditate or not to meditate… that is the question (Part 1)

“Meditation brings wisdom; lack of mediation leaves ignorance. Know well what leads you forward and what holds you back, and choose the path that leads to wisdom.” Buddha

What is meditation?

By dictionary definition, “meditation” means to reflect upon, ponder, or contemplate. Meditation is immemorial: it was first recorded in written texts around seven thousand years ago in China. According to Dr. Ian Gawler the earliest written records of meditation being practised come from China around 5000 BC. They next appeared in Indian written records (Hindu Vedantism) around 1500 BC, and in the Greece around 750 BC.

In the yogic context, meditation, (Dhyana), is defined more specifically as a state of pure consciousness. It is the seventh stage, or limb, of the yogic path and follows Dharana, the art of concentration.

To me, meditation is cultivating awareness and learning to observe your thoughts (and mental activity) without getting caught up in it.

Meditation- A rich and extensive history

Have you ever asked yourself the question, “Where did meditation originate?” If you have, then you are asking the same question that has puzzled researchers, scientists, archaeologists and millions of others for centuries.

The briefest research will reward you with the insight that meditation is an ancient art. While written evidence of meditation has been around for thousands of years in countless forms, it is very likely that formalised practice existed even before then. Meditation has been practiced continuously in virtually all cultures and is integral to the core of all major religions and most spiritual paths in some form or another. In fact, many researchers believe that the practice of meditation comes from an instinctive and primal need to connect to the universe and to oneself. Some even suggest that if recorded history went back much further there would definitely be proof that meditation existed as long as human existence.

Meditation practices of various cultures

While this practice is often associated primarily with Eastern cultures and religions, it is apparent that meditation is a widespread and long-lasting phenomenon that is not solely limited to religions or Eastern cultures. The following are examples compiled by Terry Hurley of cultural variations of meditation:

  • Native Americans sweat lodge ceremonies where they offer contemplation, prayers and offerings to the Great Spirit.
  • Christian monks practice contemplation and prayer in monasteries
  • “Lecto Divina” is the practice of early Christian monks method of reading the Bible. It was read very slowly as the meaning of each verse was carefully contemplated and considered.
  • The Sufi religion’s dancing meditations known as Whirling Dervishes.
  • The sound rituals of the Aborigines where they used dancing, singing and playing didgeridoos to keep the world in existence.
  • The Islamic practice of morning prayers and meditations.   

Is Dharana (concentration) and Dhyana (meditation) important?

The short answer is yes, absolutely!

Meditation is important for every human being. Humans are guided by their wants and needs- Hunger drives us toward food, thirst pulls us toward water, in the same way, the soul yearns for meditation and this tendency is in everyone. Meditation is sustenance for the soul.

Why practise concentration and meditation?

For thousands of years people have used meditation to move beyond the mind’s stress-inducing thoughts and emotional upsets into the peace and clarity of present moment awareness.

Meditation practices are techniques that encourage and develop concentration, clarity, emotional positivity, and create a sense of calm. By engaging in the practice of meditation you learn the patterns and habits of your mind, and the practice offers a means to cultivate new, more positive ways of being. With regular work and patience these nourishing, focused states of mind can deepen into profoundly peaceful and energised states of mind. Such experiences can have a transformative effect and can lead to a new understanding of life.

How do I start concentrating/ meditating?

You don’t have to follow Patanjali’s eight-limbed path or move away to an ashram to have yoga & meditation benefit your life. You just have to begin to practice it. Simple. Easy. Powerful.

What do I do first? Breathe.

What next? Observe.

And then? Reap the benefits.

 

Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu

(May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words, and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all).

Om, Shanti.

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Ushuaia- Argentina

The 8 limbs of Yoga

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Yoga is not about perfection and while in the West, it has become about coming to your mat one day at a time to learn more about yourself and train the mind to focus, it is also about something that goes past the asanas (poses) and pranayama (breath work). Even when this seems obvious it can be difficult to articulate what that “more” is, well I know it was for me to articulate exactly why yoga made me feel so good and why I kept on coming back to the mat. It is obvious that it was something more than just the physical, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. It wasn’t until I did my Yoga Teacher Training that I discovered what that something more was- it was The 8 Limbs of Yoga that are interwoven into all good yoga classes. The 8 Limbs were written by Patanjali in a sacred text called The Yoga Sutras in around 200 A.D. The 8 limbs help to define yoga and is a common thread in all styles and systems of yoga.

Living your life to the fullest takes time and dedication. Putting in the effort will take a little bit of self-discipline, but the rewards you will gain will be well worth it. The 8 limbs are a comprehensive way of life/ life philosophy that will help guide you to a more fulfilled life. Each of the eight limbs addresses a different aspect of our multifaceted being, and together they act as a road map to what most yogis refer to as “yoga off the mat.”

Here’s a brief overview of each of the eight limbs:

  1. The 8 limbs begin with the Yamas which deals with one’s ethical standards and sense of integrity, focusing on our behaviour and how we conduct ourselves in life. There are 5 Yamas are universal practices and are as follows:
  • Ahimsa (non-violence or non-harming)
  • Satya (truthfulness)
  • Asteya (non-stealing)
  • Bramacharya (sexual restraint)
  • Aparigraha (non-possessiveness)

2. The second limb consists of the Niyamas which are about self-discipline and spiritual observances and include:

  • Saucha (purity)
  • Santosha (contentment)
  • Tapas (discipline or austerity)
  • Svadhyaya (spiritual studies)
  • Ishvarapranidhana (constant devotion to the Divine, God, or whatever you want to call ‘IT’- for me it is nature).

3. Asana refers to yoga postures but in Patanjali’s initial practice, it referred to mastering the body to sit still for meditation. The practice of yoga asanas came about eight centuries later, which helped disciples ready their bodies for meditation.

4. Pranayama is generally translated as breath control and consists of techniques designed to gain mastery over the respiratory process while recognising the connection between the breath, the mind, and the emotions. It is yoga breathing techniques designed to control prana or vital life force. You can practice pranayama as an isolated technique (i.e., simply sitting and performing a number of breathing exercises), or integrate it into your daily hatha yoga routine.

5. Pratyahara means withdrawal of the senses. It is during this stage that we make the conscious effort to draw our awareness away from the external world and outside stimuli. By withdrawing we are able to objectively observe our habits that are perhaps detrimental to our health and which likely interfere with our inner growth.

6. Dharana refers to concentration and it is through Pratyahara that we create the setting for dharana. Once we have relieved ourselves of outside distractions, we are then able to deal with the distractions of the mind itself which, if you have read my previous blogs, is no easy task for most people! We learn how to slow down the thinking process by concentrating on a single object.

7. Dhyana is the practice of meditation or contemplation. It is the uninterrupted flow of concentration. Dhyana is ultimately a state of being keenly aware without focus.

8. Samadhi, the eighth and final limb, is described by Patanjali as a state of ecstasy/ enlightenment/ bliss.

Yoga is a practice that anyone can do, on and off the mat. You don’t have to follow Patanjali’s eight-limbed path, but in my opinion it is when you begin to take yoga ‘off the mat’ that you start seeing the vast benefits of yoga in your everyday life. Keeping in mind these values and striving to aspire to them, even moderately, could be a huge tool in the pursuit of happiness. In addition, I feel like it is nice to understand the roots and foundation of a practice that you love doing for a deeper appreciation of the practice. As long as you remember that yoga is not about forcing, but about embracing the practice and the journey, it will certainly benefit your life.

I truly believe that knowledge is power, so I hope that in sharing this knowledge with you has, in some way, enhanced or empowered you in your life.

 

Namaste, Natalie

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)

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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).