Stress Less with Nutrition and Yoga

I have been working hard with my good friend Michelle to bring you a workshop combining yoga practices and nutritional advice to relieve stress and create a calmer and happier lifestyle.

We are excited to be offering this workshop at SunYoga, 21a SunCrescent Sunshine between 1-4pm on Sunday 11th November.

The afternoon will include a presentation by Michelle on how what you eat can increase or decrease your levels of stress, a healthy and delicious afternoon tea, a workshop style yoga practice exploring the best stress busting postures and breath practices and a long and luxurious relaxation to have you floating out the door in a blissfull, stress free state.

All of this for only $50, bookings essential and payment required to secure your place. To book in email me belinda@yogatogrow.com.au.

Hope to see you there.

Love and light,

Belinda

xxx

Uttanasana with a little support

Uttanasana can be a wonderful, restorative posture or it can be a very uncomfortable struggle. A memory I have from one of my first ever yoga classes involves my teacher guiding me into the pose then telling me to relax in it. What? Relax while the back of my legs are screaming, I don’t know where to put my head and I’m upside down and everything feels strange and awkward? Really? How?

Since then I have come to love uttanasana, I’ve learnt how to soften the legs, release the spine, embrace the opportunity it gives me to be upside down and relax, just like I was asked to do all those years ago.

This pose gives the opportunity to release the weight of the head, bringing it down below the heart, easing the load on the neck and lengthening the spine, bringing the whole body into a state of awareness and relaxation. It also opens up the calves and hamstrings and releases the shoulders and arms.

The trick to enjoying uttanasana is in soft knees, the more you bend your knees the less strain there is on the spine. Once you are there if you want to work the legs you can go towards straightening them without locking them in but that is an option, not a necessity. It depends on what you want from your practice where you go with it.

So here goes with some instructions:

Stand in tadasana, feet hip distance apart. Inhale and stretch the spine as you lift the arms up then exhale and fold forwards, bending the knees as you do so. Once you are there take a little rain check. Is there lower back discomfort? If yes, bend the knees further or come up into ardha uttanasana, half forward hanging bend, with the spine parallel to the floor placing the hands on support (you can use a chair, a bolster, the wall or anything else which it stable and a comfortable height for you). Are your head, face and neck relaxed? Try to really release the weight of the head and feel its weight lengthening the neck and spine. Is there discomfort anywhere? See what you can do to relieve this, ask your yoga teacher if you are not sure.

In my classes last night we practiced uttanasana at the wall which makes it even easier to access the gifts this pose offers without the challenges it brings. To try this stand with your back to the wall, place the feet a little away from the wall, lean the pelvis back into the wall and come into uttanasana as instructed above. With added support behind the pelvis you can really release even further into the lovely lengthening through the spine. Bliss.

Enjoy.

Love and light,

Belinda

xxx

New beginnings

I am still buzzing with joyful energy following my first yoga retreat at Clearview on the weekend.

I was blessed with lovely weather, wonderful students, nurturing hosts and overall a smooth, easy weekend. All of these combined to make a memorable and wonderful experience.

So much I could share with you for todays post, in order for me not to flit from one topic to another I have decided to share this picture I took on Sunday morning.

The sky was getting gradually lighter in the east as I arranged the yoga mats for our first class of the day then I had to stop and watch in wonder as the sun made its way up over the horizon. This happened so quickly it was as though I could feel the Earth turning beneath me as a tiny sliver of light grew and grew into the beautiful, fiery sun you see in the picture. Needless to say my sun salutes has an extra element of gratitude that morning, thankful not only for the light and warmth but also the beauty the sun had gifted me.

As this was my first yoga retreat it was a new beginning for me, one that I truly cherish as a wonderful experience. The beautiful sunrise reminded me that every day is a new beginning, every moment is a new beginning, every breath is a new beginning. The clouds with their ever changing colours made me think of the ever changing life we lead, different colours, shapes and sizes. Sometimes life is light and breezy, others dark and stormy but – like Melbourne weather, you can always be sure whatever it is will change given a little time. The rolling mountains before me made me reflect on lifes ups and downs, sometimes it feels like you are on top of the world and others it seems like the light will never reach you in the deepest, darkest valleys. Often you are somewhere in between like the stair in A.A.Milnes ‘ poem Halfway Down which I loved as a child and love still. Particularly the last part:

And all sorts of funny thoughts run round my head: “It isn’t really anywhere! It’s somewhere else instead!”

I’d like to finish with a big thank you to Jocelyn and Paul at Clearview retreat for their hospitality and support without which the retreat would not have happened and an equally big thank you to each and every student who shared the weekend with me. You are all very special and wonderful people and I will treasure my memories of the weekend always.

Love and light.

Belinda

xxx

 

Embrace Rest

With much excitement I am packing my bags, preparing my family for my absence and getting ready to head off tomorrow to the beautiful King Parrot Valley and teach my first yoga retreat. As we have had such a busy lead up to the event I am very aware of my need to rest as part of my preparation. So I am treating myself to some restorative yoga, which will be included over the weekend, in order to recharge my energy and come back to centre before embarking on my big teaching weekend.

Restorative yoga generally includes forward bends, longer holds and extended exhalations, all of which move the body into parasymathetic nervous mode – the putting back rather than using up phase of the nervous system.

Today I’d like share one of the weekends planned postures – salamba janu sirsasana or supported head to knee pose, as a teaser for those who are coming along and a little embracing of rest for those who won’t be joining us.

We will be practicing a variation of this on the weekend with bolsters however, as many people don’t have bolsters at home I’m going to share how to use a chair instead.

You will need a chair and a few cushions or blankets. Place one cushion or blanket on floor in front of the chair and another on the seat (you might need more so keep them nearby) as shown in the picture.

Now sit on the one on floor facing the seat, place your right foot into your left thigh and stretch the left leg out. Your thighs should be making a V shape with the chair at the centre. Hold on to your elbows and rest the arms on the chair seat, the rest your forehead on your arms. This should feel lovely and supported, if it doesn’t you can add more cushions in either spot or adjust how close you are to the chair.

Once you are comfortable release into the support, take a few big deep breaths, sighing out through the mouth then just relax. Relax the body, the breath and the mind and stay for at least three minutes, the longer the better. When you are ready breathe in, come up and swap the legs around, place the opposite arm on top and repeat for an equal length of time on the other side.

This practice is wonderful for coming into a calm, restful state of mind – perfect after a busy day before you go to bed.

Hope you enjoy the practice and have a wonderful weekend!

Love and light,

Belinda.

xxx

Finding peace in busyness

Wow, what a hectic week it has been –  I missed my Friday post as we were just too busy and feel like I have been going full speed ahead for a few days straight with more to come. It would be easy to be overwhelmed by the long to do list I have before me however I am feeling calm and centered in amongst the busyness. It has taken me some time to be able to do this but I can now mostly find that calm place in most situations. The secret is to break down big tasks into small parts and celebrate each and every achievement, no matter how small.

It has been a week of big achievements with our renovations, thanks to some help from friends and family four of the heavy steel beams are now in place in our roofspace which means we can begin the second storey floor.

It has been a big week with my yoga teaching as I prepare for this weekends retreat and plan for my upcoming Yoga and Nutrition workshop with Michelle Kleiner.

It has been a big week with my family, having renovation helpers staying in the crowded lounge room and my oldest son has been unwell.

When you break down everything you have been doing and have to do into smaller parts it has three main benefits.

1. It makes the “to do” list more manageable, although it gets longer you have the satisfaction of crossing off more things as you achieve them.

2. It makes the “have done” list look better, what a long list of things you have managed over that time.

3. It gives you more opportunities in between tasks to stop, breathe, relax and reward yourself with a pat on the back.

So, back to my “to do” list now, where I can cross off Blog Post.

Love and light,

Belinda.

xxx

Excitement of planning…

I am putting the final touches on my planning for my upcoming yoga retreat, Release Stress, Embrace Rest at Clearview Retreat. As this is my first time teaching a retreat it is a leap into the unknown but I leap joyfully, trustingly and with an open heart and mind, just as I did recently when I went to the flying trapeze lesson.

One thing I love about my role as a yoga teacher is the class planning. The opportunity to teach a series of classes, either as an intensive, workshop,  course or retreat such as this one is wonderful as it means I can build layers into the structure, work on and advance through the practices and also get to know the students better so I can adapt and adjust to suit their needs over the time we are together. It also means I can set a goal for our practice and structure the whole set of classes around that goal. So on Friday, 19/10/12 myself and eight students will set out on that journey, releasing stress, embracing rest and sharing yoga, laughter, good food and beautiful surroundings along the way.

If this sounds like something you would like to be a part of but have missed out on this time (it is fully booked) the good news is a second Release Stress, Embrace Rest retreat will be running at Clearview from 30th November to the 2nd December. Visit the website to see details and for bookings.

Back to my planning now…

Love and light,

Belinda

xxx

 

Love your Feet

One of the things I love most about yoga is the grounding it gives me, both physically through asana practice and emotionally through relaxation and meditation. Yoga lets me find the support that is always there for me, right beneath my feet.

Yet feet are very much under appreciated by modern society. Bare feet are not allowed in many public places, if you have bare feet it is considered a sign of poverty or low class. We hide our feet by covering them with shoes – many of which are designed to look good with no regard for the comfort or health of our feet. In fact most fashionable shoes, for women in particular, are damaging to feet – squeezing them into unnatural shapes or having high heels which put pressure on the balls of the feet and ankle joints, shorten the calf muscles and create bad alignment which travels right up through the pelvis and spine and over time can cause ongoing issues.

So today I am encouraging you to appreciate your feet, notice the support they give you throughout the day and give them some loving at the end of it. How? Here are a few ideas…

1. A foot scrub and soak is an easy way to ease tired feet and soften the skin. Put some rolled oats in the food processor and give them a few pulses until they are chopped up but not too finely. Place them in a bowl and stir through a few drops each of  peppermint and lemongrass essential oil then enough water to make a thick paste. Fill a tub with comfortably warm water, put your feet in and lift one out – resting it on the edge rub the oats all over your foot right up to the ankle. Repeat for the other foot the soak them both in the water for  10 minutes or so. Pat them dry and notice how soft the skin feels and how rested your feet are.

2. Go for a bare foot walk in the grass or the sand, any natural surface will do -not concrete. Feel the earth beneath your feet and try to ground evenly through the whole sole, really connecting and enjoying that feeling.

3. Give yourself a foot massage or, even better, team up with a friend or partner and massage each others feet. You don’t need to be an expert to do this, just squeeze, knead and rub the sole and top of the foot. Stretch and jiggle each toe in turn and finish with some sweeping strokes from the ankle off the toes.

Hope you enjoy and appreciate your feet, treat them well and look after them and they will continue to look after you.

Love and light,

Belinda xxx

Back to square 1

We spent yesterday preparing for a big step forward in our renovations which due to a variety of factors didn’t eventuate. This is always frustrating but gives us the opportunity to go back to the beginning and reassess what needs to happen. To learn from our experience – we now know what won’t work and move on to find something that will.

This is easy to say but harder to do. Once your mind is set on an outcome and you put a lot of effort into making it happen it is natural to be disappointed by the fact that it didn’t all go as planned, to rethink it all and try to find something you could have done differently so the result would have been a happier one. Over time and with practice I am getting better at letting go of those thoughts – they serve no purpose but to make you feel worse. Renovating is a good teacher for this kind of thinking – very little actually happens on time or as you thought it would and most jobs take a lot more time than what you expect them to.

This is just one of the lessons I have taught from the process of renovating and overall when I look back at what we have achieved so far it has been a good learning experience despite the many delays and hiccups along the way. Each one has had its own lessons and I’ve managed to find a positive side to them all.

 Hope you are also enjoying your learning and living.

Love and light,

Belinda.

xxx