Day 5- 3/10: Dovan to ABC (21.75 kms)

Breaking your Comfort Zone.

A lot of the books that I have been reading lately have been talking about doing something outside your comfort zone. And if I am being perfectly honest with you I would have to say that trekking to Annapurna Base Camp (See my travel blog: Dovan to ABC) is about as far out of my comfort zone as me travelling to the moon. With no training we decided that it would be a good idea to engage in a 10-day trek from Nayapul to Poon Hill and then all the way up to Annapurna Base Camp and back down again. It was difficult and tiring and draining… but we made it.

This got me thinking, what was it that we required in order to ‘take the leap of faith’ and just go ahead and try it anyway. Apart from wanting to try something new, we also had trust. Trust in ourselves, trust in our bodies, minds and spirits to get us there and back.

That led me to wonder about what this means for your yoga practice. Do you stay within your comfort zone and never break out? Do you trust and listen to your body?

In order to step outside our comfort zone, you need to have trust. You need to trust yourself and in particular, your body. You must trust your decisions and your ability to know what is right for you.

In that self-trust, you are acknowledging not only your strengths, but also your weaknesses or limitations. I myself have many limitations since my accident that fractured my ankle and partially tore my ACL (See: How did I find yoga? If you are interest in the back story to how I got here today). But despite my limitations I always find a way do to the things I want to do. Maybe some of my poses are not always perfect and I often take longer to do things like walking uphill or mastering a new pose but I get there with perseverance and trust. With trust we realise that we not only have the ability to succeed and thrive, but there is also the possibility that we may fail. But when you think about it, both are ok because when we trust ourselves, we are listening to our bodies and when we listen to our bodies, we can never push ourselves beyond our limits.

If we had been too scared to take the plunge and decide to do the complete trek, we would never have known just what we were made of and would have missed out on so many beautiful experiences.

So, we need to take the plunge, to jump, to try and succeed or fail, and if we do fail, to get back up and try again. We need to get out of our comfort zone and try something new.

So, getting back to the questions I posed earlier, do you stay within your comfort zone and never break out? Do you trust and listen to your body? Do you try new or difficult yoga poses or do you say to yourself that it is too difficult?

One pose that I know a lot of people are freaked out by are handstands so today I wanted to dedicate the rest of this piece to the humble asana- The handstand (Adho Mukha Vrksasana).

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Sometimes, just like in real life, we need to flip our perspectives and get outside our comfort zone (or in this case get ourselves upside down)- even if it freaks us out.

Katie from Honeystuck- Learning to fall talks a bit about handstands but the most pertinent to this post is:

“Handstand takes a lot–strength, alignment, breath. But most of all it takes trust. Trust in your own strength, yes, but also trust that your weaknesses will not kill you.”

 

So, why not step outside your comfort zone and try something new whether it be attempting a handstand, going skydiving, or trekking for 10 days in Nepal.  🙂

 

Namaste,

Natalie

 

 

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Day 4- 2/10: Siprong to Dovan (27.62 kms)

Disconnection.

Disconnection. Just like a coin, there are two sides to everything.

One can be a positive: disconnecting from work and technology in order to enjoy spending time with the people we love and doing the things we enjoy doing. The negative is the opposite: feeling disconnected from the people around us, because we are in a constant state of ‘busyness’; finding ourselves becoming more insular and separate. Day 4 into our trek (if you would like to follow my travel blog, please click on this hyperlink: Siprong to Dovan) and with no access to the internet, we are feeling disconnected not only from technology but our family and friends back home. Today I am going to talk about the positives of disconnecting.

Sometimes back in Australia I find myself permanently in a state of being ‘switched on’; available night and day to answer emails, chat to online friends, and working way too many hours a week. Worst of all, this is often to the detriment of my real-life relationships.

Just like my yoga practice brings me back to my mat, back to myself, and back to re-connect with the real-life people around me; trekking in Nepal has also had the same effect. Without access to and the distraction of technology, I found myself deep in my own thoughts, enjoying the sounds of nature and absorbed in meaningful conversations.

Trekking has been an imposed ‘switch off’ both mentally and metaphorically, from the digital clutter that fills a lot of my life. I have found that apart from the mind-blowing scenery in Nepal, the thing that I have enjoyed the most about my 10-day trek through Nepal was being with myself; both being alone with my thoughts and the quietness.

If you are reading this and wondering what does this have to do with yoga or thinking “I’m not keen to go on a 10-day trek through Nepal so that, I too, can practise being with myself”, never fear I have got a solution for you!

Why not try Easy Pose? In my opinion, it is the perfect a way to reconnect with that inner self and disconnect from all of life’s stresses (if only for a little while- I can’t imagine anyone sitting in Easy Pose for 10 days).

Easy Pose (Sukhasana):

  1. Come to a seated position, back straight, and your legs gently crossed in front of the body. If you struggle to maintain a straight back, either sit against a wall, or on a raised cushion/ Yoga block.
  2. Your eyes can be open or closed, but closing them often helps us to focus.
  3. Rest your hands either palms up, facing the sky, or down (if you need to feel more grounded), touching the knees.
  4. Begin to concentrate simply on breathing, inhalations and exhalations through the nose. If it helps, breathe in for a mental count of four, hold the breath for one second at the top, then out again through the nose for four. The moment when the breath is held at the top is thought to represent bliss, peace, the ultimate release.
  5. Alternatively, if yo are more experienced at deep breathing you could try inhale for 4 counts, hold for 4 counts, exhale for 4 counts, hold for 4 counts.

Try to aim to do this for a few minutes each day, to simply ‘be’ with yourself, allowing thoughts to come and go. And of course, ensure you remove any digital distractions before beginning your practice. 🙂

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Easy Pose (Sukhasana)

Disclaimer: While I am a certified yoga teacher, if you have any issues or concerns, please check with your doctor before performing the above pose. As always, listen to your body and modify as necessary.

 

Namaste,

Natalie

Day 1- 29/9: Nayapul to Ulleri (12.21 kms)

Wabi-sabi

The Japanese have a marvellous word, wabi-sabi which celebrates the humble, hidden beauty of incomplete and imperfect things.

In nature we see Wabi-Sabi all the time: a jagged cliff’s edge, eroded rocks jutting out of a mountain face or gnarled branches in an untamed forest. As I walked from Nayapul to Ulleri, (See my blog entitled Nayapul to Ulleri for a traveller’s point of view of this leg of our journey), I realised just how many examples of imperfection we find in nature that we deem to be beautiful.

Everywhere nature’s imperfections were being ‘Ohhhed’ and ‘Ahhhed’ over and the best travel pictures always highlight the way the light hits the tangle of the trees or the asymmetry of the mountains.

Nature, as is life, is imperfect. And so are we.

“Wabi-sabi reminds us that we are all transient beings on this planet- that our bodies, as well as the material world around us, are in the process of returning to dust. Nature’s cycles of growth, decay, and erosion are embodied in frayed edges, rust, liver spots. Through wabi-sabi, we learn to embrace both the glory and the melancholy found in these marks of passing time.” (Source: http://www.utne.com/mind-and-body/wabi-sabi).

So, my advice to you is stop and enjoy the imperfections in nature, try not to take yourself too seriously, look beyond what’s on the outside and try to see the beauty (or the wabi-sabi-ness) in everyone and everything.

With that been said, today I’d like to introduce you to a fun and a little kooky pose called Alternative Cactus Pose. Despite looking imperfect, asymmetrical and TBH a little strange, this pose is guaranteed to make you smile, and to love that imperfection that your body is creating. It is a good pose to practise after the traditional Tree pose, which is a more graceful, symmetrical standing balance. 

Disclaimer: While I am a certified yoga teacher, if you have any issues or concerns, please check with your doctor before performing the pose below. As always, listen to your body and modify as necessary.

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Alternative Cactus Pose

Alternative Cactus Pose (above):

  1. Come out of Tree Pose [optional].
  2. Stand tall, raising and bending the right leg and taking hold of it just below the knee with the right hand.
  3. Balancing on the strong, left leg, use the right hand to open the right leg out to the right side slightly.
  4. Bend the left arm and raise it slightly, opening out the left palm and fingers.
  5. Breathe into the balance.
  6. Then repeat on the opposite side.
  7. Finish with traditional Cactus Pose (below) [optional].
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Cactus Pose

 

Namaste,

Natalie

 

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The 12 Laws of Karma that will blow your mind

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Karma is the law of cause and effect– an unbreakable law of the cosmos. Your actions create your future. The reason your fate is never sealed is because you have free will. Therefore, your future cannot already be written. That would not be fair. Life gives you chances. This is one of them.

 “A man is but the product of his thoughts. What he thinks, he becomes.” – Ghandi

 

 

  1. The Great Law/ Law of Cause and Effect: “As you sow, so shall you reap.”
  • The simple explanation of the Great Law is: our thought and actions have consequences- good or bad.
  • Energy (thought, action) that we put into the world has a consequence, immediate or not.
  • To receive happiness, peace, love, and friendship, one must BE happy, peaceful, loving, and a true friend.
  • Whatever one puts out into the Universe will come back to them.
  1. The Law of Creation: “What we desire comes through participation.”
  • Life requires our participation to happen. It does not happen by itself.
  • We are one with the Universe, both inside and out.
  • Whatever surrounds us gives us clues to our inner state.
  • Surround yourself with what you want to have in your life and be yourself.
  1. The Law of Humility: “Refusal to accept what is, will still be what is.”
  • One must accept something in order to change it.
  • We must first accept the present circumstances in order to change them.
  • In focusing on the negative instead of making changes to address the negative, we’re committing to a zero-sum result.
  1. The Law of Growth: “Our own growth is above any circumstance.”
  • “Wherever you go, there you are.”
  • The only thing we have control over is ourselves.
  • True change only occurs if we make the commitment to change what is in our heart.
  • It is we who must change and not the people, places or things around us if we want to grow spiritually.
  • When we change who and what we are within our hearts, our lives follow suit and changes too.
  1. The Law of Responsibility: “Our lives are of our own doing, nothing else.”
  • When there is turbulence in one’s own life, there is often turbulence internally. If we’re to change our life, we must change our frame of mind and surroundings.
  • We mirror what surrounds us, and what surrounds us mirrors us; this is a Universal Truth.
  • One must take responsibility for what is in one’s life.
  1. The Law of Connection: “Everything in the Universe is connected, both large and small.”
  • Our past, present and future are all connected. As such, we must put in the work to change these connections if we desire something different.
  • The smallest or seemingly least important of things must be done because everything in the Universe is connected.
  • No step- first, intermediate or last- is more important in the accomplishment of a task. All are required.
  • Each step leads to the next step, and so forth and so on.
  1. The Law of Focus: “One cannot direct attention beyond a single task.”
  • We cannot have negative thoughts or actions and expect to grow spiritually. We must direct full attention to achieve any desired task.
  • One cannot think of two things at the same time.
  • Always think thoughts of love.
  • If our focus is on Spiritual Values, it is not possible for us to have lower thoughts like greed or anger.
  1. The Law of Hospitality and Giving: “Demonstrating our selflessness shows true intentions.”
  • What we claim to believe must manifest into our actions. Selflessness is a virtue only if we’re accommodating something other than ourselves.
  • Without a selfless nature, true spiritual growth is nearly impossible.
  • If one believes something to be true, then sometime in their life they will be called upon to demonstrate that truth.
  • Here is where one puts what they claim to have learned into practice.
  1. The Law of Change: “History repeats itself unless changed.”
  • Conscious commitment to change is the only method of influencing the past. History will continue along an unconstructive path until positive energies direct it elsewhere.
  • One cannot be in the here and now if they are looking backward to examine what was or forward to worry about the future.
  • Old thoughts, old patterns of behaviour, and old dreams prevent us from having new ones.
  1. The Law of Here and Now: “The Present is all we have.”
  • History repeats itself until we learn the lessons that we need to change our path.
  • Looking back regretfully and forward pointlessly robs oneself of a present opportunity. Old thoughts and patterns of behaviour negate the present chance to advance ourselves.
  • Live in the here and now. Practice Mindfulness.
  1. The Law of Patience and Reward: “Nothing of value is created without a patient mindset.”
  • All Rewards require initial toil.
  • Toiling away cannot be circumvented through wishful thinking. Rewards of lasting value require patient and persistent toil, nothing else.
  • Rewards are not the end-result. True joy comes from doing what one is supposed to be doing, and knowing that the reward will come in its own time.
  1. The Law of Significance and Inspiration: “The best reward is one that contributes to the Whole.”
  • One gets back from something whatever they put into it.
  • The true value of something is a direct result of the energy and intent that is put into it.
  • Every personal contribution is also a contribution to the Whole.
  • The end result is of little value if it leaves little or nothing behind. These lesser contributions have no impact on the Whole, nor do they work to diminish it.
  • Loving contributions bring life to and inspire the Whole.
  • Energy and intentions are vital components that determine the significance of an end-result. Ideally, love and passion embody the motives of one that resolves to leave a lasting impression on the Whole.

 

Namaste,

Natalie

 

P.S. This list was adapted from several websites. The words above are not my original thoughts or words. For further reference you can visit the following websites where I obtained this information:

https://www.davidwolfe.com/12-laws-of-karma-change-life/

https://www.stevenaitchison.co.uk/12-little-known-laws-of-karma-that-will-change-your-life/

https://www.powerofpositivity.com/12-laws-of-karma-that-will-change-your-life/