Yoga and Poetry

For those who attend my regular yoga classes, you will know that my favourite poet is Danna Faulds. Her words so often marry beautifully with my intention or theme for the week’s teachings. For me, richness of experience is deepened when the many aspects or layers of who I am are touched in the practice.  Movement and breath liberate held tension and energy in the body, which gives rise to feelings and emotions. When we give space for these feelings and emotions to be met and accepted as they are (without trying to fix or change anything) new levels of freedom become available to us.  Listening to poetry as part of a yoga class, gives us space to simply BE, to rest quietly and listen. As the words meet us, something awakens, stirs and moves through the body and mind. This is my experience…..may it also be yours. X

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Whatever Doesn’t Serve by Danna Faulds

What weight can you put down right now, willingly relinquishing the pointed quills of guilt or judgement?

What burden of the heart can lift, what dark corner can be lit, the candle flickering at first, then burning bright?

With the next breath, let it go, that old story you’ve told yourself a million times.

Whatever doesn’t serve you on this path of truth, leave it behind.

Offer this one gift: the simple sacrifice that in the giving sets you free to fully live.

 

 

Out of the fog

Five months ago today I said goodbye to a dear friend: my beloved dog, Buffy. It was an excruciatingly decision to have her put down; she was in pain, stumbling and had not eaten or taken any water for 2 days. My beautiful sweet girl was 14 years old and it was time for her to rest.

 

From that moment on, everything changed: I couldn’t bear to walk along the river without her, coming home to any empty house was avoided, the end of my bed was cold and I couldn’t face my morning meditation practice. Something I did notice through the grief, was my ability to meet the moment as it was. I didn’t suppress the tears, the ache in my heart – I opened to it all. Through my training and practice in meditation (especially iRest meditation), I had learned to meet the moment as it arises, to not deny or suppress what is present, even when difficult or painful.

What I noticed (even though my daily meditation had slipped) was that the 2 years I had put into establishing my practice had provided me with the necessary tools to navigate this time with presence and grace. As we learn to meet what arises, welcoming life as it is, rather than how we would like it to be, be can move more easily through emotions rather than getting “stuck”. When we truly meet and sit with whatever is present, we experience the transitory nature of our thoughts, emotions and of life itself. iRest meditation, has provided me with the tools to navigate the ups and down of life with more grace, acceptance and ease.

Through the commitment to a  regular practice over time, we can establish the inner resources that help us navigate the most challenging of circumstances. I have found this to be true time and time again.

We have adopted two rescue dogs, Boz and Bindi, 10 year old Whippets and they bring us so much joy. I am feeling more myself each day and look forward to re-establishing my meditation practice in the near future.

I welcome my commitment to practice  (abhyasa) AND the time to let it go (vairagya). It’s the ebb and flow of life. I trust in the process, I trust in life.

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Oasis of Stillness

I recently attended a wonderful restorative workshop with yoga teacher and friend Ingrid Jolley. At some point in the session, while resting in a beautiful heart opening posture she led a guided visualisation of a lake with the group. Inspired by this meditation, I decided to share it in my own yoga classes over the past week and have recorded it to share here as well. I have naturally used my own words and included some pranayama as well. Enjoy!

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“It is worth doing nothing and having a rest”.

I remember the first time I heard this wonderful piece from The Curly Pyjama Letters by Michael Leunig. I was enjoying relaxation at the beginning of a yoga class with my dear teacher Lyn Colenso and she read the letter (see below) to us like a bedtime story; the sentiment stayed with me for a long time after. The Curly Pyjama Letters is a collection of correspondence between lone voyager Vasco Pyjama and his friend and mentor Mr Curly of Curly Flat.

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Dear Vasco,

What is worth doing and what is worth having?

I would like to say simply this. It is worth doing nothing and having a rest; in spite of all the difficulty it may cause you must rest Vasco –otherwise you will become restless!

I believe the world is sick with exhaustion and dying of restlessness. While it is true that periods of weariness help the spirit to grow, the prolonged ongoing state of fatigue to which our world seems to be rapidly adopting is ultimately soul destroying as well as earth destroying. The ecology of evil flourishes and love cannot take root in this sad situation. Tiredness is one of our strongest, most noble and instructive feelings. It is an important aspect of our conscience and must be heeded or else we will not survive. When you are tired you must act upon it sensibly – you must rest like the trees and animals do.

Yet tiredness has become a matter of shame! This is a dangerous development.

Tiredness has become the most suppressed feeling in the world. Everywhere we see people overcoming their exhaustion and pushing on with intensity—cultivating the great mass mania which all around is making life so hard and ugly—so cruel and meaningless—so utterly graceless—and being congratulated for overcoming it and pushing it deep down inside themselves as if it were a virtue to do this.

And of course Vasco, you know what happens when such strong and natural feelings are denied—they turn into the most powerful and bitter poisons with dreadful consequences. We live in a world of these consequences and then wonder why we are so unhappy.

So I gently urge you Vasco, do as we do in Curly Flat—learn to curl up and rest—feel your noble tiredness—learn about it and make a generous place for it in your life and enjoyment will surely follow.

I repeat it’s worth doing nothing and having a rest.

Yours Sleepily,
Mr. Curly XXX

As we learn to witness and welcome whatever arises within and around us, we gain insight and understanding into what is required to live harmoniously with ourselves, others and life around us.

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Looking for Happiness

I often come across images, poetry and stories that inspire me in the work I am doing (and I have one below to share with you). They can be gentle reminders of what we already know, or ignite a new spark of knowing or curiosity. In a world that pulls us in different directions with so much stimulation and on offer, it can be really helpful to come back to what is simple and grounds us in present moment reality. For me, spending time with family, friends and animals, being in nature and connecting to beauty, all bring me deep peace and happiness.

Here are eight ways to connect with happiness –

1. Express Gratitude

Never let the things you WANT make you forget about the things you HAVE.

2. Savour life’s joys

The real beauty of life is in each precious moment. Stop and smell the roses.

3. Commit to your goals

Most people who fail at reaching their dream, fail not from lack of ability but from lack of commitment.

4. Cultivate optimism

Stay Positive. When it rains look for Rainbows. When it’s dark look for stars.

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5. Stop over thinking.

Thinking too much only complicates your life and creates a problem that wasn’t even there in the first place.

6. Avoid social comparison

Most of our insecurities come from comparing our behind the scenes life with other people’s highlight reel.

7. Increase flow experiences

Flow is a state where you are so focused if feels like time stands still. Doing what you love and challenging yourself is how you get there.

8. Nurture your relationships

The happiest people have deep, meaningful relationships. Nurture them and watch them grow.

 

hugs

 

 

There is nothing I want but your Presence. In friendship, time dissolves” ~ Rumi

 

If this resonates with you, perhaps choose one area to focus on each week then use this focus to form an intention. Set your intention at the beginning of the day; for example….today I am grateful for……..OR ……today I will have lunch with ……….

with love, Gabrielle

 

 

 

 

 

Yoga: Opening from the inside out

I recently attending a session on Yoga and Body Image presented by Janet Lowndes and Sarah Harry, community partners for the Yoga and Body Image Coalition. I have always taught yoga from the perspective of connecting inwardly (thanks to my wonderful teachers), and this presentation affirmed the importance of this approach. When we consider body image in terms of a yoga practice, this may include body weight, shape, gender, age, flexibility and strength. For many, the way we view ourselves will stop us from ever entering a yoga class.

I love this quote from Rachel Brathen, a New York times best seller, motivational speaker and international yoga teacher.

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Yoga should be a practice that invites us to look inwardly, connecting with how we feel rather than how we look. “What’s happening inside my body”? There are many benefits to developing this interoceptive awareness: self compassion, a positive mental outlook, emotional coping, attention to self care and wellbeing.

In yoga, the process of turning our attention inwardly is called pratyahara. We naturally explore pratyahara in relaxation and meditation, but do we turn our attention inwards as part of our physical practice too. Do we listen to the constant messages from our body (whether to deepen or relax into a pose), are we guided by the quality of our breath and a steadiness of mind?

Here are some ways to bring more inner reflection and peace into our practice.

  1. Radical Acceptance – seeing things clearly as they are, in a way that is self-compassionate and non-judging. “I am already enough”.
  2. Meditate.
    • Learn to be at peace with ourselves and the world around us.
    • Discover we are more than our thoughts, emotions and life experiences.
    • Learn to respond, rather than react to life.
  3. Learning to listen to our bodies rather than fighting against them. Be kind and gentle with yourself.
  4. LOVE YOUR BODY. Love it, nurture it, respect it, be kind to it, be grateful for it, celebrate it’s strengths, and befriend it.

For more details on the wonderful work Janet is doing in terms of  Yoga and Body Image, visit her website www.mindbodywell.com.au 

Peace is This Moment without Judgement

At times when we are challenged to find peace within ourselves, with others and the world we live in, I choose to turn towards beauty, nature and the wisdom of others.

Enjoy this beautiful poem by Dorothy Hunt.

Peace is This Moment Without Judgment

Do you think peace requires an end to war?
Or tigers eating only vegetables?
Does peace require an absence from
your boss, your spouse, yourself? …
Do you think peace will come some other place than here?
Some other time than Now?
In some other heart than yours?

Peace is this moment without judgment.
That is all. This moment in the Heart-space
where everything that is is welcome.
Peace is this moment without thinking
that it should be some other way,
that you should feel some other thing,
that your life should unfold according to your plans.

Peace is this moment without judgment,
this moment in the heart-space where
everything that is is welcome.