Comfort and Ease

Finding comfort and ease, in yoga and in life, a yoga retreat to remember.

18th – 20th October

Patanjali, one of the most recognised ancient writers of yogic philosophy, wrote that we should seek sthira – comfort, and sukha – ease in our asana. These two qualities allow us to find the right balance of effort and surrender required to allow us to achieve the maximum benefits from our practice.

As well as being a wonderful guide to working effectively on the yoga mat, these qualities allow us to manage our lives beyond our practice. Finding them in yoga teaches us to find them in work, family, health, leisure and all other areas of our lives.

Over this weekend we will explore the concepts of sthira and sukha through asana, pranayama and meditation practices as well as recognising them in the natural surroundings of Clearview Retreat and reflecting on how they could be applied in other aspects of our living and being.

For bookings or enquiries go to Clearview Retreat

Hello

It has been a long time since I last posted here, the longest break I’ve had since starting my blog all those years ago.

This wasn’t a planned break – there have been some things going on in my life on many different levels which have brought about some personal development and, being a rather private person, I’ve been focusing on my own growth and the discoveries I’ve made about myself . There have been a few times that I’ve set myself up to write a post only to find that I just didn’t feel anything I wrote was coming out as intended so I’ve put it off.

Although I am still in many ways feeling like I am in a transition it seems to be taking a new turn with lots of opportunities opening up, others things winding down and me just going along for the ride. I tend to trust the universe and when I got a message saying I had a comment to moderate I logged on to my website to do so and find myself writing again…

So this post is just hello, checking in, letting you know I’m still here, teaching, learning, exploring and sharing. I haven’t forgotten about you all – I just needed some to to follow my own advice and connect to myself in a nurturing way.

I hope to post more regularly now – perhaps monthly to begin with but you never know what might evolve. Feel free to comment on anything you’d like me to post on – whatever it may be.

Love and light,

Belinda

xxx

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

 

Mums & Bubs Yoga and Baby Massage

My yoga journey began as a mum, although I’d been a bit curious about yoga for quite some time there was never the motivation to seek it out. It was on my “I’ll get there one day” list. Then while taking my son to his toddler gym class I saw fliers for new yoga classes starting at the rec centre, they were on in the morning on Thursdays, which were my husbands day off at the time, so I could actually go. That might sound dramatic but the life of many a mother of young children is very much tied into her children’s routines, activities and needs. Thinking about it even though now my kids are much older my life still pretty much runs around their commitments. It is nowhere near as intense now as it was then though. When I read that flier for yoga I was exhausted, stressed, run down and unable to go anywhere without taking my baby girl with me. She didn’t sleep much, which was familiar as neither did her older brother, but she was very much Mummy’s girl, she’d never settle for anyone else, she screamed at a pitch that pierced your very heart. My maternal instinct was to give her what she needed – the reassurance that I was there and loved her. I felt she really needed this as she’d had a rough start to life, been born 8 weeks early and was in the special care nursery for nearly a month before we were able to take her home. I think she was just making up for lost time, not wanting to be separated from me again.

So, long story short, I was barely functioning, getting by just making it through the day and trying my hardest to provide what my family needed. The problem was I didn’t have the time, energy or opportunity to look after myself which is not sustainable for anybody. Those Thursday morning yoga classes offered me both the opportunity to have a break from the demands of mothering and the gift of yoga, which I sometimes think could have been designed to meet the needs of mothers with babies or young children.

So all these years later, after a long and winding road exploring, studying and eventually teaching yoga, I find myself offering other mothers the same gift of yoga in my mums & bubs classes. These classes are places you can bring your babies to, classes that offer practices tailored to fit into the busy routines of a mother. We work gently yet effectively to tone, stretch and connect with our bodies. We work with the breath to share ways to restore energy, overcome fatigue and bring a sense of calm into the often tumultuous days of parenting.

They are amongst my favourite classes to teach as I remember all too clearly how helpful yoga was in my early parenting days. Plus I sometimes get to have a cuddle with the beautiful babies!

I teach alternating 5 week  Mums & Bubs Yoga Courses and Baby Massage Courses on Thursdays, 10:30-11:30am at Harvest Yoga in Kensington, where I also offer private Baby Massage tuition to parents. 5 week blocks cost only $110, for bookings please email info@harvestyoga.com.au

The next courses are as follows:

Mums & Bubs Yoga  02/03/17 – 30/03/17

Baby Massage 06/04/17 – 04/05/17

I’ll finish with the news that my daughter did eventually let me out of her sight and is now an amazing, confident, independent, responsible 15 year old who continues to amaze me with her insightful and caring personality. She does still sometimes cling to me when we have a cuddle and not let me go though, and she’s much stronger now!

Love and light,

Belinda

xxx

 

 

Summer days

Loving spending time relaxing in the Summer heat, though when it gets too intense it’s not so much relaxing as sweating it out! We’ve got the gift of some less extreme Summer warmth this week which is lovely in the lead up to my Beat the Heat Summer workshop coming up on Sunday 15th January, 10am-1pm at Harvest Yoga in Kensington.

I love exploring the seasons and how they affect me mood, energy levels, yoga practice and outlook on life in general. Summer is a time of things coming to fruition and taking time to enjoy the fruits of your labours. Less busy than Spring with all of its planting and planning and new beginnings, a time of plenty and abundance.

Bee on Sunflower

Bee on Sunflower

We will be exploring these aspects of Summer as well as yoga practices and methods to help maintain equilibrium on those hot Summer days, meditation practices to revel in the abundance surrounding us and a shared morning tea of fresh fruits and yummy treats.

If you’d like to join us the cost is only $75, bookings can be made by emailing Rick at info@harvestyoga.com.au. Spaces are limited so book as soon as possible to avoid disappointment.

In the meantime, if you are unable to make it or would like a practice to tide you through until Sunday try the following simple cooling breath when you feel a bit hot and bothered…

You will need a drinking straw, I prefer the wider paper straws however if you only have plastic ones they work as well. Place the straw between your lips as you would to take a drink but instead of drinking, inhale slowly and deeply through the straw. Exhale through the nostrils, comfortably slowly and deeply as well.

This is an easy accessible variation of sitali pranayama, it works like evaporative cooling – by funnelling the air over your tongue slowly it is cooled through the moisture in your mouth and brings that coolness with it into your body. As the straw also slows the breath you also tend to slow down physically, mentally and emotionally leaving you feeling calmer all over.

Hope you enjoy the practice,

Love and light,

Belinda

xxx

 

 

 

Couples Pregnancy Yoga Workshop

I love teaching prenatal and mums & bubs yoga classes, sharing a part of that wonderful journey with women as babies grow within, arrive earthside, and then continue to grow and thrive is a very special privilege. It is an amazing journey, not just for the women but for their partners and support people as well.

A few years ago I trialed inviting partners along to one of my prenatal classes and it was wonderful! The opportunity to meet them, practice some partner yoga and support tips for the big day when baby arrives, connect with the whole family unit was great and the feedback from those who attended was all positive. I always fully intended to do it again more formally but with one thing and another that hasn’t happened. Until now that is…

Harvest Yoga & Yoga to Grow

are delighted to present
 
COUPLES PREGNANCY YOGA CLASS
Due to popular demand Harvest Yoga and Yoga to Grow are running a Couples Pregnancy Yoga Class
Sunday 8th November
1-2.30pm
with Belinda Blackburn
This will be a specialised class for prenatal students and their partners or support people.
Practices will include partner work, preparation for labour, massage and relaxation.
Open to couples at all stages of pregnancy
COST
$50 per couple for regular Harvest Yoga Pre Natal Yoga students
$60 per couple for others & for students who have attended classes casually
__________________________________________________________________
spaces strictly limited
book early to avoid missing out
please note
This will be the first in a regular series of these events
Because there is going to be more demand than supply for this
  • your payment confirms your place
  • no refunds (unless we are able to find a replacement for you – often difficult at the last moment)
__________________________________________________________________
PAYMENT OPTIONS AND BANK DETAILS
PLEASE NOTE
FUNDS TRANSFERS is our preference for payments
Please write your name onto transfer memo
AND let us know via RETURN email:
Ø  date of payment
Ø  amount paid
Ø  receipt number
Ø  what exactly you are booking
Your assistance in this is greatly appreciated.
ACCOUNT DETAILS
RICK HARVEST
Credit Union Australia
BSB 814 282
ACCOUNT NO 1016 9185 
So here I am, years after the initial seed was sown, excitedly planning for the first of what will become a regular event, Couples Yoga Classes at Harvest Yoga. I often have these marvelous plans and often feel a little discouraged when they don’t happen immediately. Life gets so busy and energy needs to be prioritised so these grand plans get put onto the back burner. As long as they are still there, bubbling away and popping up in my mind every now and then it is only a matter of time before the opportunity arises, as it has here and now for the Couples Classes, for them to surface and bloom.
Love and light,
Belinda
xxx

Bring on Spring…

I love springtime, I know everything needs to be balanced and that all of the other seasons have their benefits but this is my favorite time of year. Hands down.

More daylight, flowers blooming and blossoming, birds singing and building nests, the warmth gradually sneaking back into the days (though here in Melbourne that’s always a two steps forward, one step back process!) and just the general energy of awakening after winter – its like coming out of a long relaxation.

Daffodil with lavender in background.

Spring is a time of new beginnings, new life , new opportunities, new and positive changes. To celebrate these qualities of the season I am offering two springtime promotions for my Thursday night Braybrook classes.

  1. For my existing students – bring a friend for free, absolutely free, no obligation. If they sign up for a term you get a 10% discount on your own next term payment.
  2. For new students two casual classes for the price of one – just $18 for two yoga classes.

These offers only apply to my Braybrook Classes, 6:30-8pm, Thursday evenings, Community Hall, Braybrook Community Hub, 107-136 Churchill Ave, Braybrook and are available for the next 8 weeks so you have plenty of time to spread the word and invite a few friends along (limit of 1 per class). Classes are suitable for beginners and those with yoga experience.

If you would love to get back to nature and really delve into the springtime yoga energy there are still a few places left on my next retreat 9th-11th October in the lovely King Parrot Valley just an hour and a half out of Melbourne. More details can be found at www.clearviewretreat.org.au.

Happy blooming,

Belinda

xxx

 

 

Yoga Foundations

As many of my readers know we are renovating our family home by adding a second storey. This may not in any way seem relevant to my yoga practice or teaching but through yoga tinted glasses everything is relevant to yoga.

 

We have been undergoing these renovations for years now and are at the exciting part of the journey where we can see our destination on the horizon, we haven’t yet moved upstairs but we do now have stairs and a roof and walls! I still very clearly remember the early days when we were putting in foundations and trying to imagine what it would end up like, since then the plans have evolved and a few changes have been made for various reasons.

It was very challenging in those early days, we were working so hard, digging huge holes, (often in very inconvenient places like in the main entrance to our home and besides the kitchen doorway), deconstructing in order to rebuild and improve it often seemed like we were going backwards. All of that was important though, to lay the strong foundations  needed to extend our house and reach the exciting stage we are now at.

In much the same way beginners to yoga can find it challenging, hard to imagine the postures and practices coming easily or smoothly, yoga can feel strange and unfamiliar as I very clearly remember from my own days as a beginner.  As with building a home, building a solid foundation to your yoga practice is important to allow you to fully explore and experience all that yoga has to offer. Even those with more experience can struggle with some postures or practices, for no obvious reason some things just don’t come as easily as others.

One of the many beautiful vistas from Clearview retreat.

One of the many beautiful vistas from Clearview retreat.

My upcoming Yoga Foundation retreat at Clearview Retreat on the 9th-11th of October is designed to delve into to the foundations of yoga, for beginners and experienced students alike. We will share some information about this thing called yoga, where and how and why it evolved, a breakdown of the thousands of postures and practices into some basic tools and methods which can be applied to all of them. Establishing a strong foundation not only of knowledge but also of awareness which can then allow your yoga practice to grow and extend.

The retreat runs from 7pm Friday evening until 3pm Sunday, price includes delicious home cooked vegetarian food, accommodation, yoga and guided walks. $375-$415 depending on accommodation chosen. Numbers are strictly limited so book early by contacting Jocelyn on 5797 0229 or via email diversity@diversity.org.au.

I am looking forward to returning to Clearview in the Springtime, one of my favorite times of the year. I’d love to see you there!

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

Begin again

We had a wonderful conversation in my beginners course last night about how and when you start to feel comfortable or familiar with yoga postures and practices. This is a difficult thing to define as, like many things, everyone does so in their own time and at their own pace.

Sometimes it takes the right instruction or the right teacher or for you to be in the right headspace for something to click, and then you have it. Other times the progress is so slow and sneaky that you don’t even realize it is happening, you just find yourself one day in a pose that has been difficult for you in the past and realise that it isn’t anymore. You try to remember when that happened but can’t pinpoint the moment because there wasn’t one, it was a gradual increase in comfort and familiarity which eventually culminates in feeling ease in that pose.

In my own personal practice, which began over 12 years ago, I have had both experiences and there are some poses which still challenge me, some days they feel okay, others they feel awkward. I’ve tried different methods, different teachers, different times of day but still don’t feel that I have mastered them at all. Perhaps I never will. I try not to feel frustrated about this and I do continue to practice those poses, not letting myself avoid them altogether as they teach me much, about being an eternal beginner, not putting pressure on myself to achieve, finding acceptance with where I am and not giving up entirely.

It is a lovely practice to begin again, even if you have done something a thousand times before to go into it as though for the first time. This helps us to notice our habits, to remain present and to give what we are doing our full attention as we do when we are learning something new. This applies to yoga, to work, to taking a walk, to washing the dishes, anything at all that you find yourself doing.

Happy beginnings.

Love and light,

Belinda

xxx

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