Beginner’s intro to yoga – video

As a yoga teacher people often tell me they want to do yoga, but are nervous of going to a class having never done it before. This video is a very gentle introduction to yoga that you can do at home with no one watching. It introduces you to breathing with your movements, gentle stretching and a deep relaxation at the end. 

Even though I’m a yoga teacher I still find it difficult sometimes to get on my mat to practice. Sometimes I’m uninspired, or don’t want to be alone and so incredibly present with myself and my feelings. Bringing my interrupted awareness to my breath and my body, as we do in yoga, can feel raw and challenging as the emotions and thoughts I’ve been ignoring come up to the surface. This may not feel comfortable in the moment but is so essential and cleansing – to move the energy of those thoughts and emotions through and eventually out of my body. 

That’s one of the many reasons I love following yoga videos at home – I feel like I’m not doing it alone and the teacher on the screen is supporting and guiding me. I hope you have a similar experience. 

 

(1)0 ways to cope with a break up 


I’ve been wanting to write about this for a long time because I’ve read so many lists of usual suspects on how to cope with grief, pain, loss and myriad of emotions that comes with a relationship ending. By the usual suspects I mean…

‘Do exercise, don’t drink alcohol, don’t isolate, get therapy, sleep, make sure you’re looking & feeling as good as possible…’ 

While they are all good suggestions on paper, at the time they can make you want to punch someone or collapse into a heap. Now this is probably a little controversial; these contrived ‘positive thinking and doing’ lists are mostly what we all know to do anyway – most people are not great at taking awesome care of themselves in the good times – so this can make you feel even worse when you’re not holding it together in the bad times. And this brings up what I feel is one of the most important subjects – shame. These ’10 ways to get through a break up’ articles, listing some of the above, can be a real shame trigger. Because when you’re barely getting out of bed or have swapped your tea at bedtime for tequila, the list is yet another thing you’re failing at. 

Shame is insidious and deeply damaging. Going through the break down of a marriage can bring up bucket loads of shame and talking about that is, I feel, much more useful. You may well have heard of Brene Brown, one of my favourite authors and shame & vulnerability researcher, she has uncovered for us that shame is feeling that we are somehow bad, rather than we did a bad thing, which would be a feeling of guilt. She explains how nothing good ever comes from feeling shame, there is nothing motivating about it or useful in it. Brene describes shame as ‘the instensely painful feeling that we are unworthy of love and belonging’. And it’s one of the most human and primitive emotions there is. She also calls it lethal. 

My list of ‘how to deal with break ups’ has only one crucial point – do everything you can to avoid shame. When our lives get turned upside down and inside out there will very likely be mistakes, bad behaviour, harsh words, drinking too much, eating too much, skipping the gym for weeks… I’m not saying those are good things and they’ll help you, they won’t, but we’re human and we’re messy. I’m saying it’s ok and you’re ok and whatever you, or others, do and say it doesn’t mean you are bad and deserve to feel shame. In fact quite the opposite. It means you’re in pain and need to be loved, not judged, by yourself and others. 

I am all for self love and self care, taking a long bath or going for a massage are wonderful ways to take care of yourself. But what’s even more important is when you’ve fucked up, and trust me I have, to reject the shame you and/or others pour on you. This is warrior self love. Loving yourself in the midst of the battle. 

How do you do this? In my experience having just a few close people in your life who can be your champion, even in the darkness, is the most healing. Having someone empathise and reflect back to you your messy humanness and your beautiful spirit – and telling you that it’s all ok and you’re loved no matter what. I have been lucky enough to experience this both through professional support and family and friends. If you don’t currently have someone to be your champion, go find one. 

Do all the good things on the lists as much you can, and when you don’t or do the opposite, know that you’re doing the best you can. If anyone tries to shame you, keep your distance for a while. If you’re shaming yourself reach out to your champion and get vulnerable, share your good, bad and ugly feelings and know that you’re not alone. Brene says there are three things that shame needs to keep growing; secrecy, silence and judgment. Being human means being messy and imperfect. I’m holding your hand and you’re not alone. 

Do you believe in angels? 


I was listening to Sonia Choquette, one of my favourite teachers, on Hay House radio today and she was talking about experiences with angels. Have you ever had an interaction or experience that felt heaven sent? Something or someone showed up just at the right time or said just the right thing? I want to share the most poignant angelic experience I’ve had. 

It was a couple of years ago and I didn’t realise it at the time but I was on the very verge of an emotional breakdown. I was in the midst of the early stages of separation from my husband and feeling so much pain and loss. I was alone at a huge summer event with thousands of people, I had arrived before my family, who I was meeting there. I was just holding on by a thread and had spent the earlier part of that day driving to the event, chain smoking and drinking just enough beer to numb out a little but not so much I couldn’t drive. Yep it was bad. 

So I get there by myself and it’s so overwhelming. I was standing in a short queue to get my ticket and find out where to park. There was a man and his teenage son standing behind me. The man said a friendly ‘hello’ – the absolute last thing I wanted was to talk to anyone! So I tried to mumble a reply and shut down the conversation. He kept on talking to me until eventually I couldn’t avoid eye contact anymore. When he looked at me he immediately he said ‘are you ok?’ looking very concerned. I couldn’t hold it in anymore so I started crying and told him I wasn’t ok at all. 

He took me to the side with his son and asked me what was wrong. I explained my husband’s father had recently died and the following months had been chaos and disaster leading up to my leaving my home and my husband. I told him I was a mess and all I wanted was to work out my marriage but my husband didn’t want to. By this time I was full on weeping so he held me then he told me he was a pastor and had a lot of experience with death and loss and would I be open to hearing some of his thoughts? 

I said yes, he was so warm and wise and comforting. He explained to me what the death of a father can do to a relatively young man and he assured me that it wasn’t because of me that my husband didn’t want to work on our marriage. It was his own experience and feelings that he was facing. That it was totally understandable for me to completely blame myself, because that’s what we do when something bad happens to us, we take on the blame. I won’t go into all the details as it’s not just my story, it’s my husbands too, and I don’t have permission to share. 

Pastor Jeremy in that moment was my angel sent from God to hold me and talk to me when I was all alone and broken. I wrote down his words and re-read them nearly everyday in the following months for comfort. I remember after that meeting I sat in my car waiting for my family and in the middle of all the mess and pain I felt so blessed. I knew God was there for me and he had sent one of his angels to take care of me. His words still mean so much to me, I will never forget those moments. 

So yes I do believe wholeheartedly in angels and I’m so grateful to be connected to them, not just in the most extreme times but day-to-day too. Finding a feather or a penny to me are signs my angels are with me. 

If you have an angel experience to share I’d love to hear it. Sending you love ❤️ 
Photo credit: Pinterest 

Phoenix rising from the ashes – so where the f**k is my Phoenix? 

Have you been through a life stopping, world changing experience and have been told and read that after the flames have swallowed you up you’ll rise stronger & better than ever before – but in reality you still feel shitty, are waiting for the Phoenix and it’s no where to be seen? 

I’m totally with you. This is where I am right now. After a marriage ending, swiftly followed by an autoimmune illness, life felt like it stopped and I was in pieces. So now I’m moving to the other side of getting back to life and myself and I’m waiting for the beautiful Phoenix to rise from my ashes and if anything I feel more anxious and vulnerable than I before this all happened. WTF?! 

It’s so easy to worry that I’ll never be as strong and feel as capable as I was before. Will I reach my potential? Do I have what it takes to make my dreams come true? Right now these questions feel very real and raw and terrifying. What if every time something terrible happens (as it inevitably will in life) I just get weaker? What if I’m not one of those people who comes back stronger? What if I have no Phoenix? Thinking like this makes the future feel very hard and overwhelming. 

I’m choosing to believe that it takes time. That I do have what it takes, we all do, and to build back up takes time and patience and faith. And a lot of love – from others but mainly for myself. I’m finding that doing things I love and that feel like part of my life purpose helps so much. For me that’s yoga, creativity, healthy living and spending time with soulful people. 

Maybe the Phoenix starts out as a little baby bird in the ashes, which are still hot from the fire. Maybe our job is to treat ourselves like that baby bird, keep it safe, healthy and loved while it grows getting bigger and stronger. And one day you spread your wings, feeling powerful and magical, to rise up from your ashes into the beautiful, limitless sky. 

This is my hope for you and for me. We can love our way through. We can love each other through. We got this. 

Enjoy yourself

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I had a huge aha moment this week that I’d love to share with you.

I am degree level qualified in beating myself up! As I’m sure many of you can relate to, I’ve developed a habit of being harsh to myself and berating myself when I feel I should be doing better. We do this as a means of self motivation and also to keep ourselves safe, as I’ve been learning in Kristen Neff’s book Self Compassion Step by Step. However usually the result is feeling bad, not good enough and guilty. If you’re a fan of Abraham Hicks and know about the Law of Attraction you’ll remember that feeling good, especially about ourselves, is such an important part of drawing to you what it is you desire. With that in mind making myself feel bad in the hopes that I do better was clearly very counter productive.

You may have heard people say ‘talk to yourself as if you’re talking to a good friend’. Which is a great idea, but for me it didn’t resonate so much. So I came up with the idea of ‘treat yourself and talk to yourself as if you are your own baby or child’. Now this creates a whole new level of love, tenderness and wanting the very best. I started trying it out; if I was feeling guilty or negative about myself I would stop and reframe the moment as if I was my child, what would I say & do to support and make her feel better?

For example if I didn’t achieve as many tasks as I had planned that day I would catch myself telling myself, “you failed today, you probably wasted time, if you can’t do these tasks how are you ever going to achieve more?”. Then I stop and reframe it as if I were my child and then say “it’s ok, you tried your best and did more than yesterday. We both know you were very tired and the down time was just as important as the tasks. Relax and start again tomorrow”. Can you feel how wildly different the energy is in those two self talk examples? One is harsh and agitating and lowers the vibration, the other is soothing and calm and uplifting.

Changing my self talk whenever I notice the harsh critic has totally changed my week and I’ve felt so much better about myself and happier with myself than I have for weeks & weeks. Once I’d had this realisation I started listening to Kristen Neff’s book and she suggests exactly the same idea of treating yourself as your own child. This synchronicity, along with many others during the week, confirmed that this practice is spot on and to keep it up.

So how does the title ‘Enjoy yourself’ relate? It’s such a common phrase we offer to people if they’re going to a party with lots of people, staying in and watching TV or going for a long walk on their own. It means enjoy YOURSELF! Not necessarily enjoy the other people, the music, the view or whatever it is you are surrounded by. The key is to enjoy YOURSELF. Take pleasure in yourself, wherever you are and whatever you do YOU are always there so the better you can feel about yourself, the kinder you can be to yourself, the more enjoyable everything else will be. And as the Law of Attraction teaches, feeling good is the key to creating your dreams. 

Connection in relationships

I’ve had a number of experiences recently which have got me thinking about how people connect to each other, or don’t connect as the case may be. 

There are times when people only seem to be able understand me from their current experience. When I share my feelings or my deep truths they take them, put them in the lens of their current life view and judge it to be right or wrong on that basis. This leaves me feeling not heard, not seen and judged. It makes me feel like I wish I hadn’t been so vulnerable, it makes me feel bad, it makes me cry and it makes me want to spend less time with that person. 

Is it possible for us to be open others (those who we deeply care about rather than just everyone with all the random energy they may bring) without projecting our own patterns on their experience? Maybe so but maybe it takes digging deeper, being more present and using more energy than simply listening. Perhaps holding space and being a witness for another takes effort and a willingness to ‘be’ with what is unfamiliar and uncomfortable. 

There have also been times when people have validated me not by just agreeing, but by seeing into me and hearing the truth of my experience, unrelated to their own. That feels like a huge relief, a precious gift and makes me value those people much more. 

I want to be someone who validates and sees people, sees their spirit and their truth. This is my practice. 

Peace

Feeling peaceful, connected to nature, the colours in the sky, the skip hop and jump of a crow in the park, the deep pain and extreme joy of classical music, the love of a pet, at ease alone and in stillness. 

The emptiness of the mind allowing for sensory experience to be at the fore, not trying to work something out or do anything other than just be. The beauty of random desires and appreciation of cool sheets getting into bed, the warm glow of a candle, the wind on your face, the smell of freshly washed hair.

The acceptance of thoughts and feelings without judgment. Being honest without explanation. Feeling the sharp cut of pain and not feeling the fear that it may never end because in the pain itself is beauty and love and meaning. 

The simple amusement of seeing a bald man as the only client in a barbers shop. The silence broken by sounds of the city. Living in an ongoing meditation. The voice of a wise woman. No need to feel happy or sad or lonely or comforted, just being good with just being. 

Space. Time. Stillness. Movement. God. Energy. Mind. Heart. Whatever the moment holds is essential for that moment and they are all equal. The soul. 

Peace; to be luxuriated in like bathing in exquisite champagne while hearing choruses of angels sing.