Accepting Yourself

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In a world that thrives on telling you that you are not enough, do you have the strength to embrace self-acceptance?

Self-acceptance is the first step towards self-improvement.  In yoga, we recognise that if we cannot accept ourselves first, then we cannot hope to accept others. Similarly, if we cannot love ourselves, how can we expect anyone else to love us?

The practice of yoga has allowed me to grow, to change, to transform.  On the mat I learned to love myself, and that overflows off the mat in to my life.  So, here are some tips to help you on your way:

  1. Let go of your need to be perfect.  We have so many expectations of ourselves, particularly women.  “Perfection is the absolute lowest standard you can have for yourself because it’s impossible to attain,” Tony Robbins. Every blossom is perfect.  In fact, it’s their imperfections that make them unique and beautiful in their own right.
  2. Find yoga that works for you.  In fact, I am of the belief that the yoga should always fit the individual, rather than the other way around.  So, if that is not your experience, I encourage you to look for a teacher that works for you. The same in life.  Why struggle to get a square to fit a round hole?
  3. Approach your yoga practice as a conversation.  So often movement, including yoga, gets wrapped around the axle of competition and achievement. As you may have experienced yourself, that is usually a path to discouragement and burn-out. I encourage you instead to approach yoga, or any movement practice, as a conversation. Ask yourself what do you need in this moment in time, and how can you meet that need?
  4. Listen. Actively listen to your body and your self.  With your own body, after asking yourself a question, show yourself you’re listening by responding to the need you identified, or at least telling yourself why you’re not or finding a different way.

The key, I believe to self-acceptance, is learning to truly listen to that quiet voice in your heart.  Instead of living in your head and trying to figure out what your foot was doing in a pose, learn to have a conversation with your body and yourself because that conversation is the root of acceptance.

From there, make self-acceptance part of your actual life and it becomes something lasting and sustainable that can adapt and grow with you over time. It’s here that we move towards creating the lives we want.

Love Your Hips!

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Hips!!!

Most people have a love-hate relationship with them.

I love them!

The pelvis is a complicated piece of engineering, with bone, muscles, ligaments, tendons and fascia helping both stabilise the body and allow for motion. Several muscles, the iliacus and psoas major, make up the group everyone commonly refers to as hip flexors. These are big muscles, and tend to be tight, as most of us tend to sit too much; at our desks, in front of the television, and in our cars.  We rarely let our hips explore a full range of movement, and more often than not, lower back pain often stems from tight hips and buttocks muscles.

Whilst modern scientific research is still trying to figure out the impact of emotions on the body, one study tried to portray how we experience emotions in the body.  The bodily experience of emotion is nearly instantaneous, and our hips are like a bowl, catching and holding the residue of a trauma or prolonged period of stress.

What has become apparent to me, after teaching yoga for nearly 30 years now, is that tightness in hips are not just physical.  The hips are the seat of our emotions, and more is written about this these days.

  • Tight hips can mean that we fear living up to our own expectations and those laid out by others.
  • The hips are located at the second chakra, and when the second chakra is blocked, it hinders our ability to let go and let it flow. During deep hip openers, there could be a tendency to hold on because you simply cannot fully open up to the Pose.
  • One of the most important relationships you will have, is the one you have with yourself. Tight hips may indicate an inability to fully love yourself.

If you’ve been following my writing over the years, you will know that I am all about taking yoga “off the mat”, and if you adopt the view of yoga “on the mat” as a metaphor for life, then you can use some of these tips to help you cope with the emotional roller coaster of life.

So, when your hips, and life, gets tight …

Learn to sit with the discomfort; it will pass.

And, breathe deeply, especially breathing into the source of discomfort in your body.

Melting Forwards

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Unless you are in the southern hemisphere, July leads us into the peak of summer.  Here in the United Kingdom, it has been rather hot.  Temperature records are being broken throughout Europe, and I am surprised that the road tarmac in the UK has not melted yet?!

So what of our yoga practice?  When life heats up around us, what we should look to do is cool things down, rather than provoke the heat.  Too often I see people ploughing through their fitness workouts, driving forcefully ahead with their work, keep moving through a demanding yoga practice.

There is a time and season for everything.  There was a time when we used to respect the change in the seasons, and life, and danced with those changes.  We woke up when at sunrise and went to bed when the sun went down.

With technological changes, we seem to have lost touch with our deep rooted connection with nature.  Ultimately, we are still part of the animal kingdom and we do have the animal part of our brain.  Yet, we just ignore it.

What is the use of plundering through life?

What are you chasing?

Why are you pounding your body?

Yes, I am a driven individual, and there I have goals that I wish to attain; and that requires work.  I have also always realised that there is a time to move and a time to rest.  In my twenties, I refused to listen to my body and chose to listen to my ego; and I paid dearly for it.  Since then, I keep in flow with the life and my energy levels. That does not mean that I completely back off from what I am doing. I still keep “touching” the different aspects of our businesses, but I also rest.

So this month, I invite you to melt forwards.  On the yoga mat this month, we are focusing on gentle forward bends, with the use of the cooling breath, mindful salutation and cooling meditation.  Off the mat, we are still moving forwards in life, …. gently.  Live compassionately and in tune with Mother Nature, and notice how she will still guide you to where you are suppose to go.

Have a lovely month x