Acorns and Autumn

So we are in March, the first month of Autumn here in Melbourne. Although mother nature doesn’t always check the calendar so we are experiencing some lingering warm Summer days. Despite this the signs are afoot that Autumn is on its way. One of the first signs I have noticed is the acorns have begun falling form the oak trees in the park. Most people don’t notice this type of thing so much but we have two pet bunnies who absolutely love to nibble on acorns so I am always checking in on when they’re available.

Spring and Autumn are transitional seasons, times for changing, adjusting, adapting in preparation for the more extreme Summer and Winter weather. They offer us the opportunity to take stock, check in with where we are, what we are happy with, what we would like to change.  So I’ve decided to share a Autumn meditation on todays post, hope you enjoy it.

Autumn Meditation by Belinda Blackburn

Take some time to get comfortable, sitting with whatever support you need, spine elongated, shoulders relaxed and breath flowing freely. Bring your awareness to your breath and notice how it relates to this time of year, Autumn is a time for storing energy in preparation for Winter when there is less to be found. Many animals gather food stores at this time, we are working with that same method by taking in our breath and feeling the energy flowing in with it being stored away. Stored in the hands, the feet, the arms, the legs. Feel your torso filling with prana, the energy flowing with and beyond your breath, let it rise all the way up through your neck to you face and head, Now your whole body is full of energy, imagine absorbing that energy, storing it away in every cell. So that when a time comes that you need it you can find it here, waiting for you.

As well as storing energy at this time mother nature lets go of excess demands for that energy. Knowing that there will be less available in the shorter, colder, days of winter many trees release their leaves which require a lot of maintenance and can drain them of their energy reserves. In the same way our exhalation gives us the opportunity to reflect on how we are spending our energy, where it is going and whether there are some activities or commitments which are draining our resources. Become aware of what you could let go of, release – perhaps temporarily, perhaps permanently. Think of that release with each exhalation, letting go of expectations and honouring where you are right now in your life and where your energy is best directed to.

Each breath helping us to take in and store energy and let go of the need to waste that energy, each breath helping us to become more efficient, more discerning about where our energy goes. Energy in the forms of physical activities, emotions and thoughts.

After some time allow yourself to gently withdraw from the practice and go into the rest of your day energised and more aware of where that energy is going.

To celebrate and explore these and other aspects of Autumn through yoga, breathwork and light discussion I am running an Autumn Workshop at Harvest Yoga on the 9th of April. We will take a leisurely three hours to practice yoga, meditation, discussion and relaxation as well as sharing a home made morning tea.

Investment only $60, $50 concession, spaces are limited, for bookings contact rick@harvestyoga.com.au

Enjoy the Autumn colours,

Love and light,

Belinda

xxx

 

Blooming forth

Spring has now truly arrived in Melbourne, we are being blessed with longer and warmer days, more sunshine, flowers and blossoms, bees and butterflies, birds singing and that wonderful feeling that spring brings.

People seem happier, lighter, more carefree as the springtime energy takes over. While winter gave us time to hibernate and withdraw spring invites us to become more active, more energised and, like the bees, more busy. To catch up on jobs that need doing, to spring clean, to bloom and blossom just as the flowers and trees do.

In your yoga practice spring is a great time to try something new, to explore a different practice or just a new way of doing something familiar and comfortable. It is also a lovely time to meditate on the changes happening both within and beyond yourself. Take some time to get out into nature, a park or your backyard or wherever else you have the opportunity. Close your eyes and think of breathing in the energy of spring, the new beginnings, the stirrings of new life, new opportunities, warmth and sunshine and rain, everything that is needed for things to grow and thrive. If there is anything within your life which you would like to blossom and bloom then take that energy into that space, it might be an idea, a project, something work related or a relationship, anything important to you and your personal journey. Bring the spring energy to whatever it is and feel it absorbing the springtime energy of growth, bursting forth, expanding and when the time is right, blooming in all of its glory.

Love and light,

Belinda

xxx

Inspired by animals…

We have a new addition to our family, a ten month old border collie cross staffy. His name is Rex and he has been with us for just over a month now. He quickly became part of the family along with our two cats, two rabbits and blue tongued lizard.

Black and white dog sitting on a rock

 

Many yoga poses are named after animals, I think because they are wonderful at moving in the way their bodies need to. When animals stretch and move they do so instinctively, feeling into what their body needs rather than thinking about what they should do. Something I repeat time and again in my yoga teaching is to let the mind take a back seat and the body take control, move in your yoga postures the way your body feels good.

When Rex wakes up in the morning he always practices up facing into down facing dog, and he looks like he enjoys it so much I want to join him. I imagine ancient yogis watching and admiring a stretching dog many years ago in much the same way that I do every morning and coming up with the postures we practice today.

Watch a cat settling down for a nap, the care they take in making sure everything is perfect for them to completely enjoy their rest. We humans quite often laugh at this attention to detail but we can also copy it as we lay down to sleep at the end of the day, taking the time to perfect the conditions we need to rest well.

Rex has no problems with this, as well as being a champion at both up facing and down facing dog he is a master of savasana, his favorite position is on his bed with his head hanging off the side and resting on the floor.

Dog lying on bed fast asleep

The first time he did this I got quite alarmed and checked that he was breathing, yes he was, just very deeply in a state of complete relaxation.

Hope you get to rest as deeply!

Love and light,

Belinda

xxx

What lies beneath

I am back from my cruise having seen many wonderful things, experienced many magical events and enjoyed many delicious meals.

It is difficult to pick a favorite moment from my top 3 or 4 but when I think about it there is one that stands out above all others.

Cruising was new to me and I very much enjoyed it as a way of travelling and hope to do it again. I spent lots of time gazing out at the ocean, there is nothing quite like it. It stretches from horizon to horizon in every direction many times unbroken by land. Most days it was choppy and one day it was so smooth it looked like a mirror, overall we were lucky to have smooth sailing (or should I say cruising?) so it was never very rough.

IMG_1404

One afternoon towards the end of the cruise my husband, Richard, and I were on a balcony gazing out over the water when someone from a balcony above us called out that there was a whale. We looked in the direction they pointed and saw ahead of the ship a spout rising out of the water. It was a way off but very exciting, luckily the ship was moving in that direction so we tried to keep track of where we were in relation to the whale as we approached it. Just as we thought it had dived below it breached right in front of us, around 20 metres away. I was completely overwhelmed, the luck of being there at just the right time, the beauty of this huge creature so close to me in its natural environment, the impressive size of it (we only saw the top of its back but that was enough). I felt truly blessed to have witnessed this at such close range. It must have only been seconds but it felt like much longer, then it sank below once more. We saw it surface twice more in the wake of the ship as we moved away, one time there were two spouts at the same time so we are pretty sure our whale friend was not alone.

There is something very special about seeing wild animals in their own environment and this has to be one of the most special of those experiences I’ve ever had. It was made more special that besides us and the couple on the balcony above no one else saw the whales.

We did see one other whale, further out, and a pod of dolphins at other times during the cruise. Every time I looked out over the water I would wonder what lay beneath, not just whales and dolphins but the myriad of other sea creatures. I began reflecting on how many hidden wonders there might be just below those waves, or deeper down far below.

Like the ocean we all have wonders hidden beneath our surfaces, sometimes we are aware of them and work hard to keep them hidden but others they can surprise even us with their appearances just like the whale surprised me.  I like to meditate on what lies beneath for me, below the face I show to the world, behind the eyes I see with, beyond my self awareness. To reflect on what has arisen during my life, what paths I have found myself on and what roles I have played and what led me to these places. To wonder what might surface next…

Every time I meet someone new I do my best to see all of them, not to judge by appearances or go with first impressions but to look beyond to what lies beneath. To give it time and space and await the opportunity to be surprised by something as wonderful as the whale. We all have this potential within us.

Love and light,

Belinda

xxx

Winter chills, yoga remedies

Winter is well and truly here in Melbourne, the icy winds seem to lower the temperature even more as they howl through the streets.

While it is tempting to stay home on those cold winter evenings there are many benefits to rugging up and making the effort to get to your yoga class despite the cold.

Here are a few:

– muscles shorten during colder weather so benefit greatly from a good stretch.

– joints become stiffer and less mobile, particularly if there is scar tissue or arthritis present, a gentle yoga practice can be wonderful in maintaining mobility and easing that cold winter achiness.

-yoga warms you up! Sun salutations, flowing vinyasas, core work and snuggling under blankets all help you to feel warm and cosy.

– pranayama (breath) practices are very effective in warming the whole body, most pranayams are warming breaths and the few exceptions are unlikely to be included in a winter yoga practice.

– during winter most of us tend to be more solitary, the sangha, or yoga community is a great way to have a chat with friendly people. this can help to reduce depression caused by Seasonal Affective Disorder, commonly referred to as the winter blues.

– winter is a time to lower your activity levels and rest, savasana and a guided relaxation help to rest and restore the body, mind and heart. Like a mini hibernation in each and every yoga class.

Bare tree branches against a grey sky

We are having a Yoga to Grow Winter Warmer dinner next Friday 11th July, 7pm at Aangan in West Footscray. Past and present students are invited, please let Belinda know if you can come along 0414 702 854 or belinda@yogatogrow.com.au.

Stay warm!

Love and light,

Belinda

xxx

 

Tasmania

I am fresh back from my family holiday in Tasmania feeling wonderfully renewed and invigorated. Todays post is short but I will share some of my photos from the trip.

Fairy toadstools

We had a wonderful time visiting relatives, seeing the sights and, everyone in my family’s favorite, bushwalking.

It is so healing and refreshing to just get out there, into nature, and soak up the freshness of the air, the sounds and sights of the trees, rocks, wildlife and landscape. The warmth of the sun which we appreciated even more after the chilly nights and foggy mornings and the touch of the breeze on our faces.

Marriotts Falls

Often in the middle of a walk we would just stop, be quiet and soak it all in for a moment or three or stop to hug one of the beautiful, gigantic trees though with all of us together we’d struggle to get our arms around some of them.

tall tree

It is wonderful to go on a holiday and enjoy these things but as that is not always possible we can do the same to a lesser degree in our own back yard or local park. In Melbourne we are very lucky to have trees and gardens almost everywhere. You don’t have to go far to find a park with a good walking track or two.

See you out there sometime!

Love and light,

Belinda

xxx

* Don’t forget to give yourself a little holiday, a yoga workshop is a great way to do this and my Beat those Winter Blues workshop is coming up. Earlybird discounts apply if you book and pay by the end of May, more details here.

On being forty

As mentioned in my post a couple of weeks ago, I have recently turned 40.

We often tend to think of these big “0” birthdays, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70 and so on as milestones or turning points in our life and it is nice to take the opportunity to reflect on where we’ve been, where we are and where we’re headed when they come around. Looking back ten years to my 30th birthday I can see how much I have grown and changed over that time. These past ten years have included the birth of my youngest son, my yoga teacher training, saying my final farewell to my beloved Pa, renovating our house, my older two children starting high school and many other life changing events. Each one of these experiences has helped me to learn more about myself and the world around me. The good times and the bad, the struggles and the highlights, each has its own gifts to offer which make me feel much wiser and more in touch with myself and my world at forty than I was at thirty. Who knows what the next ten years may bring and where fifty will find me? I look forward to finding out!

40th Birthday 307

I celebrated my birthday with my close family with a weekend away and thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it. I love to get back to nature, to spend time with family, to take time out to relax and step away from the busyness of life and our weekend at Clearview Retreat gave us all of the above and more. Above is just one of the beautiful views we took in and below are some of the companions we met over the weekend.

40th Birthday 326

Love and light,

 

Belinda

xxx

A close encounter

My weekend retreat at Clearview Retreat went wonderfully. A lovely group of students who shared in silence, discussion, yoga, walks, delicious vegetarian food and each others company. Together we explored our chakras and our beautiful surroundings.

A highlight for me was a close encounter with a wombat at 6am on Sunday morning while I was on a solitary walk. There is something very special about seeing a wild animal in their natural surroundings, I always feel very blessed when this happens. This particular wombat was heading off to bed and if I had happened to be passing 30 seconds later I would have been oblivious to his or her presence. As it was, I was walking slowly listening to the beautiful dawn chorus when I heard another noise and looked down to see two curious eyes looking up at me warily from a broad face. We regarded each other for a few minutes, me breathless with pleasure and trying to appear as unthreatening as possible and the wombat taking this time to decide that I meant no harm. After a while he or she moved towards me and disappeared into a burrow beneath a nearby tree.

As well as the wombat I was lucky enough to see some of the resident kangaroos and a variety of beautiful birds not to mention the trees, ferns and forests.

Clearview Kangaroo

Getting back to nature and seeing her wonders up close is a lovely way to spend the weekend. If you would like to visit Clearview Retreat I will be teaching another retreat there from the 21sr-23rd of February 2014. Details and booking details on the Clearview website.

Love and light,

Belinda

xxx

 

Easter

Easter has come and gone, in our culture this usually means lots of chocolate.

If you think about rabbits and eggs however their original relation to Easter is to do with fertility and renewal so this is a great time to bring about changes in your live and make new beginnings. We are also in the midst of Autumn here in Melbourne which is a time of letting go. Combining these two energies this week I am reflecting on what I need to release and what I would like to bring about in my life.

You can do the same with a simple exercise where you write two lists, one of what you’d like to increase and another of what you’d like to release. Once you put everything in writing you can prioritise them and begin to work out how to go about bringing these changes into your life.

Enjoy some chocolate as well!

Love and light,

Belinda

xxx

Companionship

Yoga is often seen as something you do alone, even in a class it is an internal practice in many ways. We close our eyes or move our bodies, exploring our own feelings, sensations, thoughts and awareness. This is all important and valid work and helps us each to become aware of and deal with whatever it is we are carrying at each particular moment in time.

There is however, definitely something to be gained from companionship, talking and sharing our joys and sorrows or even just being with another person or living creature can help us feel less alone on our journey and at peace. I was inspired to write this post by the lovely Ada, my cat, who saw me sitting down at the keyboard and leapt into my lap where she proceeded to purr loudly. It is nice just to hear her purring, feel the warmth and weight of her petite little body in my lap and experience the pleasure of her company. (With cats that is always a privilege!)

Before yoga classes commence we often have a little conversation while the students come in, sharing the events of the day and sometimes I need to chime the singing bowl to remind everyone why we are there. Then there is partner work – a wonderful way to share the joys of yoga with someone else, supporting each other, breathing together and experiencing yoga in a whole new way.

Whoever your companions are take a little time to appreciate them and what they offer you, bask in each others company and enjoy being together. Perhaps for a lifetime or a day or even just a minute.

Love and light,

Belinda

xxx

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