18 Jun 2013 Leave a Comment
A few years ago I had no idea what Scleroderma was. This is fairly common as there is not much awareness out there about this illness, what it is, what it does or how it is treated.
Then one day Nia came to my yoga class and I have taught her on and off over the past five years or so. As that time has passed I have learnt more about scleroderma both through research and through working with Nia.
For those of you who might not know about scleroderma here is a simplified explanation of the illness and how it affects those who suffer from it.
Scleroderma is an auto-immune disorder, along with type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis and many others. The immune systems job is to protect us by eliminating threats, attacking viruses and bacteria with special defence cells and chemicals. Auto-immune disorders occur when our body wrongly misreads our own cells as enemies and so attacks them.
In scleroderma the connective tissue is affected, excess collagen being deposited into it so that it thickens and hardens. Connective tissue makes up much of our bodies- our skin, joints, organs are all made up of or contain connective tissue. It is like the mesh that holds us all together, fills the spaces in between organs, joints and skin. Scleroderma can therefore affect the whole body, multiple organs and joints.
It is an illness which can manifest in many different ways and at it’s own pace so different people will have different symptoms and rates of progression. Most commonly the skin and joints are affected becoming swollen and thickened. This is the most visible sign of the condition but less visible are the internal organs which also may be affected.
One of the symptoms of scleroderma is feeling the cold, particularly in the extremities so as an awareness and fundraising campaign this World Sclerodrema Day, June 29th you are invited to Snuggle Up for Scleroderma. Have a sleep in, stay in bed all day if you like, tell your friends and ask for sponsorship.
This brings me back to Nia, who is snuggling up herself, to sponsor her all day sleep in or arrange your own just click here.
I am supporting Nia both through sponsoring her and writing this post for so many reasons. Over the time I have known her she has taught me so much about this illness and about how people deal with lifes challenges. She is a wonderful person, sincere, honest and down to earth. There have been good times and bad times, ups and downs. Nia has struggled, she has fought, she has suffered, she has surrendered, she has been on a very difficult journey which continues to this day. Most of all for me Nia has inspired. We have had some wonderful conversations both in person and through writing about yoga, meditation and life.
I hope you now have a little more awareness about scleroderma, a little inspiration from the lovely Nia and an excuse for a nice snuggly sleep in on a cold wintery morning.
Love and light,
14 Jun 2013 Leave a Comment
We practiced ujjayi breathing in last nights meditation and relaxation class. This has always been one of my favorite pranayama practices for many reasons.
1. It translated and the victorious breath, helping you to overcome and obstacles in life – who wouldn’t love a pracitce that offers that?
2. I am asthmatic and whenever I feel myself getting tight in the chest or in any way having my breath restricted a few rounds of ujjayi slow and deepen my breathing and most of the time I do not need to use medication. I still always have it in hand just in case but honestly can’t remember the last time I needed it!
3. Whether you have a blocked or runny nose, chest infection or any other respiratory ailment this breath seems to bypass blockages allowing full breath without any feelings of shortness.
4. It is a meditation in itself, listening to the sound of the ujjayi breathing slows and calms a busy distracted mind.
5. It switches the nervous system into parasympathetic mode, the rebuilding, proactive phase as opposed to the sympathetic mode which is draining and reactive.
I could go on however then I wouldn’t get around to sharing the how to so lets cut straight to that important part.
This breath is easier when practiced on the exhalation so to begin with start there. With practice and over time you can maintain the breath for both the inhalation and exhalation.
1. Make sure you are comfortable, this practice can be done either seated or lying down but in either position you need to feel the chest is open and you are warm and at rest.
2. Whisper a long slow Haaaaa sound and take note of what happens in the back of your throat as you do so. There is a little muscle there which narrows and tightens to slow the flow of air. Repeat a few times until you are confident you can feel that action at the back of the throat.
3. Now repeat this but with the mouth closed so you are, in effect, whispering through the nose. The sound of the breath is a whispering sound. At the start you can exaggerate the sound but with practice and over time let it soften so it is quite subtle.
4. Five minutes is a good length of time to feel the effects though the longer you practice the more benefits you will gain. Even a few of these breaths in a challenging moment will help you to slow and calm your body and mind.
5. When you feel comfortable you can maintain the narrowed airway on the inhalation as well as the exhalation. Explore the effects of this.
While this is one of the safest breath practices yoga offers with no contraindications always be aware of what is going on for you and how you are feeling. If at any time you become uncomfortable physically, mentally or emotionally release the practice.
Enjoy the victorious breath and may you have a victorious day (can you tell I just love the word victorious!).
Love and light,
07 Jun 2013 Leave a Comment
Sometimes I find myself thinking into the future and saying to myself, “Once we get past this or that then I’ll catch up and get on top of things”. The problem with this way of thinking being that there are always new “this or that”s coming up. Sometimes it is part of our renovation, others general busyness or family stuff or a school term or a month or a job to be done or the car being repaired or the house guests arrive or leave or the weather to change and so on and so on and so on.
Life gets busy, things come up and I try to avoid wishing away my time by hanging out for some golden future where I’m caught up and on top of everything. The John Lennon lyric “Life is just what happens to you while your busy making other plans” really hits home here and I try to remember it when I find myself going into that way of thinking.
Of course sometimes it is great to look to the future and imagine what it will be like when our renovations are finished or the kids are on holidays (we love the holidays!) or a busy time calms down or a goal is achieved. Just so long as I don’t lose touch with the present and what I can learn and experience along the way and don’t get too attached to a future that may never happen.
A lovely meditation to do this is to spend 5 to 10 minutes becoming completely present to whatever is going on for you right now. Without judgement tuning in to your inner world, emotions, thoughts, body and your outer world, work, family, home, activities. Whatever you find, meet it with acceptance and openness to each experience, emotion, thought, sensation. Imagine taking a snapshot of this moment in time that you can then look back on in the future to reflect on any changes that have occurred, and challenges you have met and what else might have come up for you in between now and then.
Love and light,
03 Jun 2013 Leave a Comment
In two days I have had two discussions with students about how changes in your body can creep up on you. One was with my prenatal students about how the changes pregnancy brings seem to go in spurts rather than gradually, the other was about how when you stop doing yoga or other physical exercises you don’t notice your loss of flexibility, strength or stamina until one day you try to do something and you find you can’t.
What I love about yoga is that it brings positive changes which also creep up on you. Time and again I have found myself able to achieve a pose which was previously unobtainable to me and surprise, I can do it. Even though I haven’t practiced it in while my other practices have built up the strength or opened up the flexibility needed.
These advantages are not limited to the physical body either, I find myself remembering when I suffered with anxiety regularly or breathed through my mouth due to childhood asthma. These and other habits have gradually dissolved with regular yoga practice.
Life with yoga becomes increasingly easier so that even when challenges arise. as they inevitabily will, I am more able to stay centered and deal with them.
Love and light,
31 May 2013 Leave a Comment
Our renovations are progressing which is great but the latest stage has been a scary one. We have removed the remaining tiles from our roof in preparation for building the second storey. This means we are now completely dependant on tarps to keep us dry in the wet weather which they do well. The problem with them is they also blow around lots in the wind which is noisy and stressful.
Taking the tiles off was a big job. It only took us a few hours, up on the roof removing the tiles then carrying them to the edge and throwing them down into a skip to take them away. At the time I felt like I was working hard but it wasn’t until the next day that I realised just how hard I had worked. My thighs were aching and very painful when I woke up in the morning and though they did loosen up over the day they were almost as sore again the following morning when I awoke.
Luckily they are now just a little sore thanks to lots of movement, walking, yoga, playing tennis and keeping them moving and active. Often when we have an ache or pain the temptation to just sit still and rest is great. While this is sometimes appropriate often moving around is the best thing to do to encourage a fast recovery. The trick is in finding a balanced way of moving so no further harm is done but the muscles can gradually regain their full movement and recover.
So until the next big job my muscles will be resting sometimes, moving others and looking after themselves while I am listening to them and giving them just the right amount of TLC and challenges.
Love and light.
24 May 2013 Leave a Comment
This blog has been going for over a year now and as everything does it has evolved and changed over that time. My intention in beginning to blog my yoga journey was to share knowledge, practices and inspiration with my students and subscribers. Of late there has been so much change happening in my teaching that it seems to have almost taken over Yoga Tinted Glasses, sharing my new classes and venues and the exciting new happenings has been wonderful but for todays post I thought it was time to get back to basics and share a yoga practice with you.
So where to begin? Asana, pranayama, meditation, relaxation, philosophy? Yoga offers so much it is difficult to choose.
Looking out my window I can see blue sky and sunshine after a crisp cold morning.
So I will take my inspiration from the sun and share sun wheel breathing, a practice which combines movement, breath and meditation so gives a little bit of everything. During this practice it is helpful to think of letting go as you breathe out and push the hands away and taking in as you inhale and draw them into your heartspace again. You can make it relevant to your life by releasing anything you feel it’s time to let go of and bringing in whatever you need most right now.
SUN WHEEL BREATHING
Begin standing comfortably with your feet hip distance apart and your hands in your heart space.
Inhale fully and as you exhale let your hands move down in front of your body towards the floor, palms away.
Inhale and turn the palms in and bring the hands back to your heartspace.
Repeat the exhalation but this time let the hands move out to the sides a little more on the out breth, returning to the heartspace on the inhalation.
Each exhalation move the hands a little further out so you are making a circle like the sun, moving out level with the shoulders then eventually up above your head. Then return with the same breathing making your way back down through the circle.
When your hands come back to the heart after moving through the whole circle close your eyes and rest them there for a few breaths to seal your practice.
This practice is lovely anytime of day, very energising and cleansing.
It is inspired by a practice from Yoga for Pregnancy by Doriel Hill and Francoise Barbira Freedman and has evolved a little over the years as I have taught and practiced it.
Hope you enjoy the sunshine and this practice.
Love and light,
22 May 2013 Leave a Comment
I am excited to be teaching in a new space in June, Dance habit in West Footscray.
We’ll be starting with Monday morning classes 9:30-10:30am. At these classes you can start your week in a wonderful yogic way. Let go of the weekend and any busyness it contained, take some time for yourself and energise for the week ahead. As a busy mum who found yoga at a morning class very similar to this one over ten tears ago and from there went on to train as a teacher I loved it so much I am looking forward to teaching these classes.
Also coming to Dance habit in June are preschool kids classes, Wednesday afternoons, 2-2:40pm. 3-6year olds can come along and have fun, move, sing, laugh and rest in these classes. Kids are some of my most enthusiastic and inspiring students.
“Love the way you move” is the tag line from Dance habit and I have borrowed it to title my post as I just love it. I love the philosophy of joy in movement rather than striving for some unachievable perfection. It aligns very well with my personal and teaching philosophy, the journey is everything. Letting go of the need to reach any destination and experiencing and enjoying what you have right here and now, loving yourself, the way you look, the way you move, the way you feel and accepting all of the above rather than judging them has for me been the path to happiness. I share this with my existing yoga students and am looking forward to sharing it with my new students at Dance Habit.
Love and light,
14 May 2013 Leave a Comment
Last night was my last SunYoga class followed by a farewell dinner with the wonderful Claire who has been such a pleasure to work with over the past five years as well as some of our lovely students.
In some ways I still don’t quite believe that it’s all over, funny how things like this seem to sink in slowly or hit you all at once or something in between. When I arrived last night to teach I shed some tears as Claire had left me a few bits and pieces of SunYoga as a parting gift. These treasures will take pride of place in my own yoga room once the renovations are finished and always remind me of the many classes I taught, the special people I met, the good times we all had at SunYoga studio.
My new classes start this Thursday at Pennell Hall and my mums and bubs and prenatal classes start at Soulshine Studio the following week. As things move on I will find a new routine, still see some of my regular students and meet new ones. Wherever my yoga road takes me I will always look back on SunYoga and the wonderful people I worked with and taught there with a smile and a glow in my heart.
Life is a series of beginnings and endings.
Love and light,
09 May 2013 Leave a Comment
It is with great excitement that I announce the details of my new prenatal classes starting on Sunday May 26th at Soulshine Studio in Yarraville.
Prenatal yoga has long been a passion of mine. Through my own experience and the many stories I’ve heard over the years from my prenatal students I know just how much yoga can improve health and wellbeing during pregnancy, labour and beyond. In specialised prenatal classes we are able to work specifically towards preparing for giving birth and being a parent as well as connecting with our changing bodies and growing babies throughout the miraculous process that is pregnancy.
Also coming soon to Soulshine Studio are Mums & Bubs classes where we continue to meet the challenges, experience the joys and stop to connect to the mothering journey. These classes include baby massage and yoga to relieve common ailments such as colic, reflux and settling problems as well as targeted yoga practices for parents to release tension, cope with fatigue and enjoy those challenging early months of parenting.
If you or someone you know are interested in either prenatal or mums & bubs classes please see the Soulshine Studio website for more information or to book in. This would make a great gift as well – imagine giving someone special the opportunity to have a smoother, more aware and empowered pregnancy and birth! What better gift could you give?
Love and light,
07 May 2013 Leave a Comment
Last night I taught my final Yoga for the Mind class at SunYoga.
This class has been one of my favorites, I personally love the meditation and relaxation practices yoga offers and feel in this day and age so many of us can benefit from them. Life is busy and being able to stop and take time out to tune in, rest and restore can make so much difference to our overall wellbeing.
I began teaching Yoga for the Mind in 2011 to a few dedicated students, they kept coming back every week but the numbers didn’t increase and after 3 months or so it was looking like we’d have to let it go as it wasn’t viable. I was very disappointed but knew that the bills had to be paid so prepared to let it go.
As soon as that decision was made a new student turned up, then another and another. Another discussion with Claire and we agreed to keep it going and see what happened. Since then there have been busy times and quiet times but never again have we had to consider cutting the class. Those original students have continued to come and a few more regulars have joined them while others have come and gone along the way. I have had lots of wonderful feedback from my students as they drift down the stairs in a relaxed daze.
The good news is that this class is continuing at a new time and location, Thursday nights, 7:45-8:45pm at Pennell Hall, Burke St Braybrook starting on May 16th.
Even though it will continue I felt a pang of clinging to SunYoga studio, the birthplace of this class. Ultimatley however, we need to let go and there is a lovely but simple breath practice which helps us to do just that.
LETTING GO BREATH
Before you do any breath practice make sure you are comfortable, warm and preferably unlikely to be disturbed. Always keep the breath within a comfortable range, not forcing but gently guiding the breath.
Close your eyes and become aware of your breath coming and going.
Begin to focus on the exhalation, the letting go part of your breath.
Gradually extend the exhalation over a few rounds of breath until it is about twice as long as the inhalation.
Continue to breathe in this way for 2-5 minutes, longer if you like.
When you feel ready release the practice but remain sitting and observing the flow of breath for a minute or two longer.
Open your eyes and go on with your day.
This practice helps our body to slow down so is lovely before bed. You can personalise it in many ways, for example if you suffer from anxiety you can think of letting go of those anxious thoughts or if you are nervous before a job interview you can let go of the nerves. If you find yourself holding a lot of physical tension you can think of letting that melt away with each exhalation. The possibilities are endless…
So Farewell Yoga for the Mind at SunYoga and Welcome Meditation and Relaxation at Pennell Hall. Every ending brings a new beginning…When you let go of something with complete surrender it can be a beautiful thing as seen in the lovely colours of the Autumn leaves in the picture above.
Love and light,