Yoga and Resilience

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Happy 2019!

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own backyard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

- Maya Angelou

Resilience how well a person can adapt to the events in their life. A person with good resilience has the ability to bounce back more quickly and with less stress than someone whose resilience is less developed.

We all have resilience. It’s just a question of how much and how well you put it to good use in your life. We still feel the intensity of the event or problem. But instead of letting it get the better of us, it just means that find a good way of dealing with it more quickly than someone who has lower resilience.

2019 will no doubt bring with it its trials and tribulations, so it can only help us to develop our resilience muscle.  Like any human skill, we just need to have the willingness to do so.

So, here are some tips on what we can do …

  1. Cultivate good, positive relationships that will provide us with reassurance and encouragement when times get tough
  2. Develop a positive view of ourselves and confidence in our strengths and abilities
  3. Make realistic plans, and then carry out our plans
  4. Learn to effectively manage our feelings and impulses
  5. Actively work to improving our communication skills
  6. Actively work to improving our problem solving skills
  7. Practice conscious movement, because when we rush through the practice we skip important details, lose connection to breath and perpetuate this “go, go, go!” pace that already plagues our lives
  8. Meditate on an image, or a phrase that will help us through any challenging time
  9. Breathe!

Building better resilience takes time, effort, commitment, and focus. Use your yoga practice to take time: time to breathe, time to move with the breath, time to feel the pose, time to acknowledge where we are and who we are. The pauses in between the Poses are important here, as they allow us the opportunity to reflect, and then decide on a path and means to move forwards to the next Pose or Sequence.

Know also that these times will pass and we will rise, stronger in spirit and in heart. Adversity is alchemy. When we surrender to the fires of adversity, we start to sense a deeper purpose behind our troubles. When we live our lives from the inside out, we will realise a force within ourselves that will transform our sense of self.

 

Yoga Christmas Re-Treat

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It’s December and 2018 is coming to a close.

How does December make you feel? I love this time of the year, as it is always a time of enforced rest for most people, and I use this time to re-treat, to hibernate, and to give my body, mind and spirit breathing space.  Whether you run your own business or not, I feel that most of us, these days, are moving at full speed; and whilst it great and needed if you are moving towards a goal, we can also do so with less speed and also take time out every so often to re-charge.

Most of us tend to be naturally forward facing. We are future-oriented, always moving on to the next task, event, or responsibility. Seldom do we take enough time to think about why we succeeded at something, never mind celebrate. We also struggle to evaluate our mistakes and failures because it is hard. It forces us to take a look at ourselves and face things that we might not like. We need to realise that both sides are equal parts challenging, frustrating, motivating and rewarding but are vital to goal setting.

So, as the year draws to a close,

  • Look back through the calendar for the year
  • Look back through your social media accounts
  • Scroll through your emails for any projects that you have been working on
  • List any major life events that happened over the year, any notable challenges or mistakes, and any notable successes
  • Evaluate why each of these was relevant to you and what, if anything, you learned from them

Without looking back and reflecting on what has been, it is easy to make the same mistakes. Reflection is an important part of self-awareness, which is at the heart of self-improvement.

Take some time to reflect on the last year so you can set goals for the new year ahead.

Yoga For Wellness

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Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

It is the time of the year when people start sniffing and feeling under the weather.  Kids are coming home from school with runny noses and coughing all over the dinner table, and any forward bends in a yoga class is unbearable as it feels like you are drowning in your own mucus.

It’s interesting because I’m following a documentary series at the moment, Transcendence, and it refers to the fact that at least 90% of diseases right now are due to lifestyle factors.  This was pretty much the statistic when I was lecturing over 25 years ago.  What I wonder is whether the flu, the winter sniffles is also down to lifestyle.

The common thread is the word Stress. I honestly feel that most people are in a constant state of overwhelm and stress, without realising that they are.  In fact, they probably feel that it’s normal.  Stress in itself is a good thing.  Stress is needed for growth.  What is detrimental is our perception of stress, and of the situation that we find ourselves in.

Stress hormones compromise our immune system, thereby impacting on the various organs and affecting them on functioning at optimal levels.  There is also the long-term effect on our nervous and cardiovascular systems.  And so, we can really benefit from changing our perspective on what is stress.

In the Chinese language, there is no specific character for Stress.  Instead, it is made up of two characters, one indicating Opportunity, and the other, Threat.  Think about it.  When you are confronted with a situation, you will assess the situation very quickly in your mind on whether it is an opportunity, or a threat.  Usain Bolt will see the 100m race an an opportunity.  Pink will see going on stage to perform as an opportunity.  For someone else, those situations could be perceived as threats.  In either case, the physiological responses are the same.  Heart rate increases, respiration quickens, sweaty palms, feeling on edge.  Depending on how we read these signs, we can use them to help us perform or run.

So, here are some tips I hope you find useful in helping you feel well and boost your immune system:

  1. Change your perception of stress by re-framing the situation and asking yourself if it is an opportunity or threat. If it is an opportunity, embrace it wholeheartedly.  If it is a threat, say “no” and let it go.
  2. Eat whole foods and move away from processed foods.  Nourish your body well so that it is able to fight off any viruses. If you’re considering going plant based, there is a free new app that can help you on your journey. The free VeGuide app is now available on Android and iOS devices.
  3. Spend a few minutes each morning doing some deep breathing.  Take deep, full, luxurious breaths to oxygenate your body.  Give this breath ratio a go … 1:1:2:0.  As an example, breathe in for 5 seconds, hold your breath for 5 seconds, exhale for 10 seconds. Do this 10 times per day.
  4. Meditate or have some quiet time. A simple thing to do is sit comfortably, as you inhale, silently repeat in your mind, “I am breathing in.” On the exhalation, silently repeat, “I am breathing out.” Do this for 5-10 minutes a couple of times a day.
  5. Yoga therapy suggests that colds and flu result from poor digestion or an energy imbalance originating in the digestive tract. Poses that gently compress, twist, or extend the belly can help a host of digestive ailments.

I really believe that you do not know what “well” feels like, until you actually feel well.

Give your wellness a chance this month and let me know how you get on.