Start with a Smile :-)

Start with a Smile :-)

karma

I have never really believed in Karma. I previously had the closed minded belief that our paths are already set out for us and there was very little we could do to take a detour. Now that I recognise that I had this mind set I can see that I had been fumbling through life rather selfishly. Little regard for people outside of my immediate circle, working to earn money so I could be surrounded by materialistic things and completely focusing on the end goal I believed I had set out for me.

Now this is not a terrible way to live. I was doing no harm strictly speaking. Although prioritising my own needs above others – I wasn’t directly hurting anyone but I wasn’t in any way experiencing the feelings that come with random acts of kindness and making others feel good. I was known as ‘Bette Davies’ or the girl that ‘kills people with her eyes’ for no reason other than they might have gotten in my way whilst I was rushing from one place to the next….

Working to earn money in order to buy nice things also isn’t a crime. A strong work ethic is not a weakness but lack of balance is. What is the point of breaking your back forty plus hours a week to buy nice things and save for something special if you’re too tired to enjoy it and you are miserable for eight hours a day? It just isn’t worth it.

As for focusing on the end goal….guilty as charged. The best thing that has ever happened to me is to realise that life is a journey and not a destination. I have previously missed wonderful moments happening around me because I’ve had my head down and been too focused on the future. Now I realise that we must remember that the future is not a certain. Only one thing is guaranteed in life and that is here and now. You may as well make it as beautiful and happy as you can.

How I have gotten to all of this is a culmination of things:

Age…I’m growing every day and feel so grateful for my years. They have given me perspective and I’m very excited at the thought of many more to come. I’m glad of every experience in my life – good and bad. Each of these has got me to the most peaceful and happy headspace I’ve ever been at.

old lady

Yoga: I know I go on about this (seriously – the clue is in the blog name!!) but Yoga has taught me that it is ok not to be perfect. It has calmed my busy mind and shown me the joy in the journey. When I very first started practising Yoga I used to get so frustrated at not being able to achieve what seemed to be simple poses. Over the past year I have learnt to let what I would previously have labelled a ‘failure’ go. I accept what I cannot do and I keep working on it. For me I could always do a fancy pants headstand. I gained more joy when I did my first bind in Marichasana because it took me so long and I’d really committed to the progress.

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Kindness: I have always been a kind person. But it was an exclusive club and you had to be on the VIP list to receive my kindness. Now it’s a free for all. As I discovered yoga, forgiven my past mistakes and allowed happiness to creep in – I started wanting to be kinder. I am not talking about checking into the local Nunnery and giving up everything I own in the name of God or anything. It began very subtly…. Instead of looking like I was permanently furious that the bloke who just got on the bus had dared to sit next to me, I smiled at him. He smiled back…it felt good. Instead of mumbling ‘thank you’ to the driver and rushing on, I looked him in the eye and meant it. The ‘You’re welcome have a wonderful day love’ I got back set my day up. That is just it with kindness – it is infectious. I genuinely care how I have made people feel now. If I have brightened a tiny bit of someone’s day then I am happy.

kindness

So this year has been different – I have been different and now I truly believe that you get back what you give out. Since I have felt content and begun being kinder – I have had a wonderful sense of contentment and peace. I have started helping others and taking time to ensure people are ok. Aside from stopping the mass murder with my eyes – I have started fundraising and found an enormous sense of joy from this. The people I am fundraising for are old friends but not close friends. They live many miles away and people have asked why I am doing it….I don’t know if I’m honest but I know it makes me feel good and it helps them immensely…so why not!

The happiness I’m getting back from being kind and giving is absolutely worth it. We can create happiness…start with a smile and you will be amazed at what you get back!

Namaste X

P.S. I still have severe road rage…estimating at least another ten years of yoga until I start making a dent in that!!!!

Why Ashtanga?

Why Ashtanga?

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Why did I choose Ashtanga yoga? Well – the answer to that completely lacks any thought, wisdom or guided decision making….quite simply there was a voucher on Living Social for 10 yoga classes for a ridiculous £10. At that time I wasn’t having a very good time of things and needed something new to distract me from life being generally a bit rubbish!

I knew I liked yoga – I had been spending a lot of my hard earned cash at the local hot yoga studio. I enjoyed this but to be honest, looking back I was spending each and every class just aiming to survive the heat and counting the calories I was hoping to burn. In that kind of heat I don’t believe you can truly engage in the postures in a safe and meaningful way as a beginner and I would not recommend anyone starting their yoga journey in the hot room. You won’t get very far!

So I decided that I’d take up this offer. My expectations were low – For the cost I expected a newly qualified teacher who needed bargain hunting, naïve guinea pigs. The class was held in a church hall so I expected to be in my downward dog with The Vicar of Dibley to my left and Rita from Coronation Street to my right. I hadn’t even considered what type of yoga it was…in all honesty I didn’t know that there were different types!

I arrived to class in a foul mood. Work had been terrible that day; my love life was in tatters, my bank balance even worse. In fact the only thing I could pin point as going well in my life at that point was my divorce (ha!) and boy was I wallowing in it all. The class was rammed, full of young things, middle aged women, the odd scared looking man and me!

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This was my first Ashtanga class and my first encounter with the woman who has given me the gift of healthy body healthy mind. I can only describe my teacher as an Amazonian like yoga goddess. She is nearing 50 but has the body of a strong twenty year old. She has a permanent  smile and air of kindness that I was not familiar with. At first I was uncomfortable with her positivity, kindness and enthusiasm but by the end of the class I felt the first signs of calmness.

I didn’t take water with me to class because I naively thought I was going to be chilling out in a church hall…..wrong. Ashtanga is not slow and you don’t spend your time lying down in a state of relaxation. It is fast and dynamic and I was amazed at how some of the ‘middle aged women’ were stronger and more able than twenty seven year old me!  Someone once described Ashtanga as the rock and roll of yoga… I couldn’t put it better myself. It is all about building strength and the postures are challenging yet bring calm at the same time. It allows for every level of yogi and is led by a sequence that arms you with invaluable home practice without needing to rely on a DVD or YouTube clip. It uses the breath with each and every move and teaches you to glide calmly and strongly through the sequence.

So, why Ashtanga?? For me as a result of it I am no longer fumbling erratically through life and focusing on my weaknesses. I am taking my practice off the mat and also beginning to move through my everyday life with grace, patience and strength. Try an Ashtanga class – you won’t regret it!

For anyone wondering about different types of yoga…

http://yoga.about.com/od/typesofyoga/a/yogatypes.htm

Namaste!

X

ashtanga 2

Little Red Who??

Little Red Who??

How did I get here? I have to say that the path that has lead me to the amazing journey that I am just starting out on now has been a little rocky and I’ve gone down some roads I wish I never had. But then everything happens for a reason and without my dead ends I may never have gotten strong enough to acknowledge where I went wrong and get my arse back on the right path.

Where am I now? On a road that seems to be getting happier the further I walk. I’ve discovered yoga – first as a way to not sit at home alone indulging in feelings of regret and depression for where I had found myself. Now however, yoga is my therapy, anti-depressant, source of self-belief and my strength both physically and mentally. I am not just merely placing the puzzle pieces of yoga and happiness together and finding that they fit by sheer coincidence….The connection is anything but coincidental. My life is not perfect – I have a long way to go before I get where I want to be but yoga has taught me to be content with everything I have at this very moment and to be excited for everything I am going to have.

I’m not going to bore you with my pre yoga life too much or come over all ‘woe was me!’ I know there are many people who have been through a lot worse than I have and in the most part I can blame my darkest days on my own decisions but nether-the-less the problems were mine. I lived with them and at times they consumed me and I could not see past them. I have always struggled with the death of my Dad when I was just eleven. He was my best friend and watching him die so suddenly and unexpectedly on a normal Sunday afternoon changed everything in my innocent little life. I struggled through teen years – nothing worth harping on about just usual teen angst along with a constant sense of loss for my Dad that consumed me.

I had ups and downs and I didn’t know how to manage them. I put it down to teenage years and bereavement and ignored their importance or the possibility that I may just be prone to depression. I took myself off to work at a camp in America and to travel at age 18 and felt a beautiful sense of freedom – lightly wrapped in sadness for something I could never quite identify – so something that got pushed aside . I loved my time in the Pocono Mountains and my taste of travel but I never relaxed. I remained uptight and with an inability to throw caution to the wind and live in the moment. I had never had a boyfriend as I moved into my twenties; just men I had become fixated on but the type who would never commit to a date let alone a relationship. Then I went to University and met a boy. A boy who adored me it seemed and wanted all the things I wanted – love, marriage, happiness…. No feelings of angst waiting for a text back or wondering what he was thinking and where he was going. That uncertainty that I had been cursed with was gone and here was my new boyfriend as everything I imagined. Only it wasn’t. It was merely what I thought I wanted because he knew all the right things to say.

Things moved very quickly…he moved into my flat. We graduated. He proposed. We got married…..eight weeks later I left him and there I was again – In the depths of my despair again but now with a failed fairy tale and a mountain of debt to match. As soon as I was back there I realised that I’d never really gotten rid of the feeling. I’d just masked it with the idea of falling in love and being cured of sadness. Sadness it seems cannot be cured. It must be managed and slowly but surely I have realised that.

It has now been nearly three years since I walked out on my short lived ‘marriage’ and my divorce has now been signed sealed and delivered.. The past three years have been quite a time for me. Starting off being the lowest I have felt in a long time and sometimes not wanting to be here anymore. But where I am now – I am happy. I appreciate everything. I don’t indulge in my sadness anymore – I acknowledge it and then I focus on the good things – the positivity in my life and the beautiful possibilities of the future. How you might ask? It’s simple and if you had told me a few years ago I would have laughed in your face….Yoga.

 

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