Welcoming the light and shadow

Does a snowflake, flung from an angel’s wing, trust the fall, 

not yet knowing the grand design or what it will become?

There is patience, a whisper of natural order,

as it follows it’s innate path, anchoring light to Earth.

~ Transformation by Myra Dutton

In the depths of winter I find myself moving between emotions; loving the gentle sun as it shines on my face, enjoying the layers of clothes that keep me cosy and warm, then feeling flat and demotivated when faced with overcast skies, grey and drab, or frustrated I can’t walk the dog as it’s raining.

Here are some recent pictures I took as I walked by the local creek; it captures both the shadow and light.

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There is peace to be found in acceptance; the inevitable change of seasons and to notice how our own natural rhythms and cycles are connected to those of the earth. We learn to value sunshine and shadow, light and darkness, activity and rest, work and play – to explore the balance; the yin and yang.  

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Yin characteristics are cool, wet, feminine and quiet, whereas the yang is the opposite: warm, dry, fast, masculine and extroverted. Winter is a yin season, a time for storing and conserving our energy in the way a bear retains fat by hibernating , or a farmer stores food for the cold months ahead.

 

The yin and yang symbol reminds us that both sunlight and shadow contain within themselves the potential or seed of their opposite quality. At the darkest part of the symbol is a small dot (bindu or seed) of light; at the lightest part, is a small dot of darkness. The challenge can be to accept the value of both the light and the dark.

yin yang symbol

At a time of the year when there is less light, we benefit from embracing the value the darkness. Think of a baby developing and growing within the darkness of the womb, or a seed in the darkness of the soil. The dark is good. It is a place for rest and renewal, a place of healing, wisdom and inner knowing.  We can use quiet, reflective and mindfulness practices such as yoga nidra (deep relaxation) and meditation to get in touch with this place within. Here we may find understanding, inspiration and insight into who we are and discover our heart felt desire, that which we want more than anything in life, for health, wealth or healing.

Here are some questions you may like to reflect on at this time of the year.

1. What aspect of yourself or life have you kept in darkness? What have you avoided, repelled or ignored?

2. Which aspect of yourself or life could benefit from warmth, compassion and light?

3. As the sun’s light strengthens over these next few months, what aspects of your life would you like to cultivate and strengthen?

I am running a 6 week iRest® yoga nidra course beginning Friday 9th August @ 6pm. If you are interested in exploring this practice of deep relaxation and self enquiry, please contact me or click here for more details.

Words matter

 

 

We express ourselves to others and the world around us through communication: who we are, what we believe in, our attachments and aversions. Much of this communication is through gesture, posture and facial expressions, while spoken communication gives voice to our thoughts and feelings. Each “word” is a creative union of thought and energy. Ideas become thoughts, concepts, language and your plans take on the energy to manifest in the world as the actual results of your intent and skill.

Do you honour your own beliefs and speak out when you should? 

Do you talk over others, or not listen well?  

Do you feel shy and afraid to extend your energy into communication?

Talking consumes a huge amount of energy, so choose your words carefully. At times it is appropriate to be quiet, to listen.

When you next speak, T H I N K :

T – Is this Truthful?
H – Is this Helpful?
I – Is this Inspiring?
N – Is this Necessary?
K – Is this Kind?

In yoga, the throat centre, vishuddhi chakra, represents our ability to communicate verbally. A well balanced Throat Chakra will allow you to communicate and express yourself more freely. You will realize that you can trust your inner voice and speak your truths.

Here is a simple hasta mudra (hand gesture) for balancing the energy at the throat. Bring the pads of the thumbs and middle fingers of both hands gentle together forming Akash mudra. As you sit comfortably, spend a few moments to follow the natural rise and fall of the breathe; to feel the body breathing itself easily and naturally. When ready, repeat silently the following affirmations:

akash mudra

 

 

I express my unique qualities each day

I transmit a unique frequency, my voice is heard

My communication is open, clear and harmonious

 

Spend a little time sitting with each and feel when it’s time to move to the next. You may like to simply work with one affirmation, see what resonates with you in the moment. Recording yourself saying the affirmations can be helpful and very powerful; make sure you leave enough time to centre at the beginning and in between each affirmation for the words can “land”.

Namaste

It’s hard to say goodbye

After more than 9 years of getting up early on a Saturday morning to teach yoga, I have recently said goodbye to my wonderful weekend classes. The decision did not come easily: I LOVE these guys. My Saturday morning ladies are dedicated, open minded yogis; willing to explore the yoga in all its forms; asana, pranayama, meditation, creative visualisation and chanting.

Over the years I have become quite protective of this group and when on holidays, will think of them and hope they enjoy and learn from the teacher I have organised in my absence. We have grown together: the student learning from the teacher, the teacher learning from the student.

As a teacher there is nothing more rewarding then knowing the message you most wanted to convey has not only been heard but also understood and integrated.  I encourage the idea of “Less is More’ and finding the balance between ease and effort. “The yoga is not about how you look, it’s about how you feel. How does your body feel, the quality of your breath and your state of mind”.

This year I have decided to undertake a Graduate Certificate in Yoga Therapy. I have been interested in this course for many years and now the time feels right.  I know I will grow as a teacher and look forward to integrating my new knowledge into many aspects of my life. My thirst for knowledge is at its peak and it seems the more I know about this amazing body and mind we humans have, the more I want to know.

Onward and upward……

My wonderfully dedicated students at Mitcham

Just for now…

Just for now, without asking how, let yourself sink into stillness. Just for now, lay down the weight you so patiently bare upon your shoulders. Feel the earth receive you, and the infinite expanse of the sky grow even wider as your awareness reaches up to meet it. Just for now, allow a wave of breath to enliven your experience. Breath out whatever blocks you from the truth. Just for now be boundless, free, with awakened energy tingling in your hands and your fee. Drink in the possibility of being who and what you are – so fully alive that the world looks different, newly born and vibrant, just for now

~ a poem by Donna Faulds

Where Blue meets Blue

I was fortunate to spend a few days down by the beach recently which has inspired this voice recording. There is a real sense of space  at the beach; distant horizons, boats moored off the shore, seabirds in flight and endless stretches of sand. It’s a wonderful place to open yourself to space; between each breath, between your thoughts. As you step slowly and mindfully along the shore, you are drawn into the present through your senses. This heightened awareness of ‘now’ creates mental calm and quiet which is reflected in your body and your breath. This is the union of yoga.

In practice I find patience and peace

More than a physical practice

When people think of yoga, it is often the postures that comes to mind – the physical practice (or Hatha yoga).  For me, yes of course the physical work is important, it helps us feel strong and supple, vibrant and at ease with our bodies.

Yoga, too is a practice of awareness. It is this mindfulness that transcends the physical into a spiritual practice. A teacher of mine often referred to yoga as “Your Own Growing Awareness”. I like that. The wonderful thing is that the discipline we learn on the mat begins to permeate all aspects of our life. We “tune’ into our bodies and mind with a heightened sense of observation and from here anything is possible.

When we navigate the waves of our emotions and the chatter of the mind with increased awareness, we sail an ocean of grace as master of our own ship.

A beautiful poem by Roger Keyes titled ‘Hokusai Says’

Hokusai says Look carefully.
He says pay attention, notice.
He says keep looking, stay curious.
He says there is no end to seeing.
He says Look Forward to getting old.
He says keep changing, you just get more who you really are.
He says get stuck, accept it, repeat yourself as long as it’s interesting.
He says keep doing what you love.
He says keep praying.
He says every one of us is a child, every one of us is ancient, every one of us has a body.
He says every one of us is frightened.
He says every one of us has to find a way to live with fear.
He says everything is alive – shells, buildings, people, fish, mountains, trees.
Wood is alive.
Water is alive
Everything has its own life.
Everything lives inside us.
He says live with the world inside you.
He says it doesn’t matter if you draw, or write books.
It doesn’t matter if you saw wood, or catch fish.
It doesn’t matter if you sit at home and stare at the ants on your verandah or the shadows of the trees and grasses in your garden.
It matters that you care.
It matters that you feel.
It matters that you notice.
It matters that life lives through you.
Contentment is Life living through you.
Joy is life living through you.
Satisfaction and strength is life living through you.
Peace is life living through you.
He says don’t be afraid.
Don’t be afraid.
Look, feel, let life take you by the hand.
Let life live through you.

An inspiration to me

Over the weekend I have been enjoying reading articles from Elena Brower’s website , Art of Attention. Elena is a much loved and respected yoga teacher in New York who explores the depths of herself and encourages others to do the same. At a time where I am seeking mentors, her words are timely and inspiring. Much of what she is exploring sits true in my heart and I want to share and spread the love.

Love can be expressed and experienced in many ways. This week I choose to hold love in the form of KINDNESS.

If you are interested in Elena’s website, here is the link  : The Art of Attention

 

Happy exploring,