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

 

 

To try something new…

Spring is bursting forth around me even though technically it is still winter. I feel the spring energy stirring deep within the earth and awakening the plants, the animals and the people. Days gradually lengthen, temperatures gradually rise and moods generally lift.

In my little corner of the world our blue tongue lizard has gone for a walk – the first since winter descended and sent him into semi-hibernation. The beginnings of leaves are forming on the branches of my goji berry bush and blossoms have broken out on the cherry trees up and down our little street.

I feel much like Ben, the blue tongue lizard, at this time of year, like I’ve been just managing to get things done with the slower, cooler winter energy and now I want to jump and run and stretch out all of the stagnation that has set in. Shake off those winter blues and playfully engage with the warmer springtime energy. Burst forth like the blossoms and new leaves, sing like the birds, engage with the new beginnings all around me.

Spring is a great time to try something new, to go along to your first yoga class, or if you are already regularly practicing to attend a different type of class, explore new practices, new ways of doing familiar poses, new places to practice.  You might like to book into a yoga retreat or workshop to immerse yourself in yoga for a longer time than a class offers. The possibilities are endless.

In my teaching things are getting busier as well…we are about to begin a new 5 week block of Mums & Bubs yoga, I am busily planning for my Spring into Action workshop on September 18th at Harvest Yoga and looking forward to my Release Stress, Embrace Rest retreat at the end of September.

I hope to see you in class or at one of these upcoming events, may your Springtime energy take you to amazing new places and experiences.

Love and light,

Belinda

xxx

 

 

Guilt free confessions

I have been meaning to write a new post for weeks, even months!, but have somehow not managed to do so. I have even got as far as sitting down and logging on once or only to be interrupted by one thing or another and not managed to get back to it.

If anyone has been really missing my posts, please accept my apologies however also take some inspiration from the fact that we all get caught up like this. Whether it is your weekly yoga class, time set aside for a task or pleasure, one of those lingering jobs which you know need to be done but they are not quite high enough priority to get to the top of your list.

Setting aside a time each week to get to these things can make all the difference but, as we discussed on the retreat I led over the past weekend, there is some freedom to be gained from not tying yourself down to a schedule – being more open to living in the moment and dealing with whatever is arising then and there. Of course we all need to be in certain places at certain times and there are things that need to be done daily, weekly, monthly. Having some kind of system in place that works for you and allows all of that to happen is a necessity – for me it is a two calendar system – one old fashioned one that hangs on the wall and contains all of the families appointments and activities. Then there is my phone calendar which I enter all of the same info onto but which travels with me everywhere I go so I can refer to it. Beyond that my time tends to be spent doing what needs to be done as it comes up, there are days and times that are more productive and days and times that are set aside for rest and yoga practice but there is a lot of flexibility to shuffle these things around. Obviously my blog posts have dropped out of the system in the new year but not that I am here tapping away at my keyboard they are coming back!

It is hard not to feel guilty when this does happen but after much practice I have mastered the art of accepting that I do what I can and I can’t do more than that. Guilt free, though I do need to remind myself sometimes!

We had a wonderful time at Clearview Retreat, a beautiful group of students, beautiful bushland surroundings and a great topic rather relevant to this post – Slowing Down – Tuning In. It is always a pleasure to be there and share the joys of yoga in such lovely surroundings. I have another retreat coming up in May titled Mother Nature – Mother Nurture, details can be found at www.clearviewretreat.org.au.

Can’t resist sharing a couple of photos including the cutest little echidna I came across and spent some time with during one of my walks…

Echidna

Echidna

Love and light,

Belinda

xxx

IMG_2851

Winding up and wind down

It’s that time of year, some things are finishing off like my beginners course which ended last week and my Braybrook classes which wind up this Thursday while other things get busy, busy, busy in the rush to prepare for Christmas or other festivities, go to all of the social gatherings and events and see all of the different people for Christmas and just get on with the day to day stuff.

I sometimes look at my calendar for the week ahead and feel a little alarmed when there are no empty days, not even empty afternoons or mornings. I feel the need to brace myself to get through all of the events. Not that I don’t enjoy all of the catching up and socialising, quite the opposite in fact – I love this time of year and the opportunities it presents to share time with family and friends.  It’s more that I also need some time to myself, time to slow down, reflect on events, time to be alone, particularly when life is busy.

It’s taken me a while to realise this, I used to feel bad about not wanting to go to every party, every dinner, every event. I’ve arrived at the realisation of why I sometimes dread these things after much soul searching and self observation. What I’ve learnt about myself is this:

  • I love spending time with those close to me
  • I don’t feel comfortable in large groups of people
  • I need time to myself in between time spent with others
  • If I don’t honour these things I end up feeling frail, exhausted and on edge
The good news is that now that I know all of the above I can manage my calendar and social gatherings to suit which makes this time of year much more enjoyable. I prefer small gatherings to large groups, so try to visit people individually or go out for a meal rather than going to big get togethers. When I do go to the occasional larger gatherings I make sure I am aware of how I’m going and move out for some space if things start getting overwhelming.
Other ways I avoid the rush is by getting all of the Christmas shopping done as early as possible. Shopping centres, particularly busy ones, count as large groups of people and leave me exhausted so I limit my visits to them, try to get there during quiet times and, where possible, do my shopping at markets and smaller local businesses.
I keep track of that calendar and if it starts looking too crowded I start saying no to events or seeing what can be left off or moved to a quieter time. With three kids it can fill up very quickly so this one is important.
Finally I keep my yoga tinted glasses nearby, taking every opportunity between the busyness for a few deep breaths, a brief meditation, a short practice or even some mindful awareness of where I am and what’s going on. Winding down after a crazy day with my legs up the wall and some three part breathing helps me to reenergise and arrive refreshed and renewed to the next event…
May your festive season be restful and include a good balance of winding up and winding down…
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

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

 

 

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

Winter is here

We’ve had a cold start to winter here in Melbourne, the coldest start in living memory. The winter solstice on June 22nd is fast approaching and the days are short, chilly and for many of us a little bleak. Even when the sun shines its light seems weaker and its warmth doesn’t seem able to reach us. It is the time of year during which we are invited to slow down, rest more, huddle up and withdraw a little. It is also the time when many of us succumb to chills and colds, winter blues and lethargy, immunity is weaker after the change of seasons and the cold and darkness can seem to seep into our bodies and minds.

Yoga offers many practices which can help us to get through these winter months, even to embrace and enjoy what they bring – the opportunity to slow down, take stock, rest and restore. Here are a few suggestions you might like to try…

1. Meditate- imagine you are like a tree, losing your leaves which might drain th energy you need to sustain you during winter. Reflect on your day to day life, what can you let go of? It isn’t forever, trees sprout new leaves in Spring, it is just for now, for the next few months. You might release actual activities, taking a break or rethinking commitments, it might be thoughts in your mind, unrealistic expectations, deadlines you have set for yourself, search through where your energy is going, keeping what feels right and reassessing what doesn’t quite fit anymore with where you want to be and the energy level you currently have.

2. Hibernate – like a bear in a cave, find a warm, snug little hidey hole away from it all where you won’t be disturbed. Find at least an hour or so (preferably without a fixed end time) and put yourself to bed or curl up on the couch with plenty of blankets and cushions . The purpose of this is to rest deeply, to fully accept winters invitation to slow right down.  Turn off mobile phones, computers and other possible distractions, if you live with other people let them know you are not to be interrupted, close your eyes and listen to your breath. During hibernation animals slow down their entire systems, digestive, circulatory, everything. Think of slowing down, breath moving at a slow, comfortable pace, body following by releasing tensions and slowly relaxing, mind joining in by letting the thoughts slow right down. Rest, restore and release, when you feel ready to come back do so gently and notice how different you feel.

3. Energise – Though we would like to spend the winter months hibernating for most of us life goes on, we still need to work, to get to places, to live our daily lives. Sun salutations are a lovely way to honour and connect to the warmth, light and energy we receive from the sun – even when it is at it’s furthest point from us. Practice your favorite sun salutes in the morning to give you the energy you need to get through your day. If you have a mid afternoon energy slump practice some helicopter pose to bring in a little more warmth and energy.

Cloud with silver lining

The darkness is as important as the light, this time of year allows us to tune into what is unseen, to do some soul searching, uncover hidden depths within ourselves, embrace both the light and the dark with equal acceptance and gratitude. Winters cloud of cold and darkness has a silver lining of rest and self study. I hope you enjoy the opportunity to do just that.

Stay warm. Love and light,

Belinda

xxx

A yoga teachers reflection…

It seems to be something in the air at the moment, I have been asked a few times in recent months in different places and by different people about being a yoga teacher, about whether it is what I will do with the rest of my life. There are many who assume that yoga teaching is something of a hobby, something I do to keep myself occupied, as a temporary thing while my children are growing or in addition to other paid work. There are many teachers who do manage to juggle yoga teaching with other careers while others, myself included, teach full time. Yes folks, this is what I do for a living and what I hope to continue to do.

I consider myself very lucky to be able to do what I love, the actual teaching of yoga, sharing the ease that it has brought into my own life with others is wonderful. Seeing the changes in students from when they walk in to when they leave is very rewarding, hearing their positive feedback is also lovely. My favorite part I think is when my students are lying in savasana during relaxation at the end of the class and I look around the room and feel the sense of peace that fills the whole space. The calm and stillness and softness is almost tangible. Then I regretfully have to bring them back into the room and into their day which is very hard indeed!

It isn’t however, an easy path. My teacher training was a wonderful hurly burly experience involving unearthing emotions and aspects of myself that I didn’t know were there, and that process has continued since I graduated in 2008. Much of what I love about yoga is that the more you explore and uncover and discover, the less you think you know.  The layers and layers of rich wisdom and self exploration just keep revealing themselves. At first I was quite overwhelmed, all of my study up to this point had been a matter of learning the material, passing the exam or test and moving on. There, done, I know that now. Yoga was so completely different but what it taught me was that it is okay not to know it all, it is okay to keep exploring, graduating from teacher training was not the end of my learning but the beginning. I have a very vivid memory of the first class after I had passed my teaching exam when Leigh Blashki, one of my very inspiring teachers who had assessed my exam, saw me and said “Hello yoga teacher.” My reaction was very strong resistance, no, no, I am a trainee, I can’t call myself a yoga teacher yet, I had been calling myself a trainee for two years and the very idea that I was now a teacher had not entered my mind up to that point. I almost objected but I didn’t, not out loud anyway. Those voices in my head started a riotous argument about the fact that if Leigh called me a yoga teacher I was, whether I was ready or not but I wasn’t, there was still too much I didn’t know! That argument went on for a long time during which I felt very uncomfortable calling myself a yoga teacher, but I did it. After a while it began to be more comfortable, now I can say that that’s what I do without a single objection from those voices in my head.

I am a yoga teacher, it is what I do. Hope to see you in class someday!

Love and light,

Belinda

xxx

Previous Older Entries