Keeping cool

Well the first really hot day has hit yesterday, over 38 degrees, it is going to be a long hot summer which can lower energy levels and overheat our systems.

On hot days we can take advantage of the warmer weather and the increased flexibility it offers to our bodies in our yoga practice. Less warming up is required and you might find yourself moving a little deeper into your stretching postures due to the openness of warm muscles.

We can also use yoga breath practices to cool down, a little like evaporative cooling for our insides, using sitali ot sitkali pranayama techniques. These two practices provide relief when you are feeling overheated, help you to sleep on those hot nights and generally cool down your entire system.

Sitali breath can only be done by those who can curl their tongue, to practice roll your tongue and inhale through it feeling the incoming air being cooled by the moisture on the tongue.

Sitkari offers the same cooling benefits to those who cannot curl their tongue, for this practice you bare your teeth keeping them together but drawing the lips back and inhale through the teeth.

For both practices the mouth can become quite dry so on the exhalation breathe through the nose and close the mouth to moisten it before the next in breath. It might help to  move the tongue around to stimulate saliva production as you breathe out.

Even two or three of these breaths can provide relief, you can increase the amount you practice to ten breaths or so over time depending on your own comfort levels, if you feel short of breath or experience brain freeze or other discomfort then stop for a while and repeat again with less breaths when needed.

Hope these help you to stay cool, calm and collected on those hot summer days.

Love and light,

Belinda.

xxx

Here comes the rain again…

What a wet and stormy night we have just had. I woke at 1am to the rolling thunder, closely followed by a downpour which has barely subsided since. I love storms and rain, I feel the electricity in the air, it heightens my awareness of everything around me.

Living under a tarp as we currently are due to renovations makes it a little less enjoyable however. We arose to find a few leaky spots and had to mop up a few places and put buckets in them to catch the still constant rain that dripped through. We also had to do the trip to school in between the heavier downpours, rushing when the rain subsided a little to get there with the kids dry and warm instead of wet and cold.

All part of the journey however, on the weekend I attended a workshop with the wonderful Paul Wooden on Befriending the Unknown where we talked about how we never really know what is coming next. This is a good example of that, last night when I went to bed I didn’t have any idea whay would be happening when I woke up. The challenge is to go with it instead of against it – the rain has just stopped and there is a quiet stillness following the storms, the garden has had a thorough watering, the streets are washed clean and despite the minor dramas we are all safe and dry. I don’t know if the storms are over for the day or just taking a break but will endeavour to go with whatever happens.

Love and light,

Belinda

xxx

 

Cow face pose, gormukhasana

I love cows! When I was younger I used to spend school holidays at a good friends farmlet in Kyabram. They had calves which grew into cows and I clearly remember falling in love with those big round eyes. Driving home after a weekend in the country on Sunday I watched with pleasure the cows peacefully grazing in the fields while the springtime calves romped and played joyfully.

They have inspired my to share gormukhasana, cow face pose with you for todays post. This is a great shoulder opening pose with variations accesible to just about everyone. It can be practiced standing or seated. The full pose does include a position for the legs but we will begin with the arms.

Start by finding a comfortable, stable base, seated or standing then raise your left arm and reach high out of the shoulder joint. Turn the palm to face behind you then bend the elbow and reach for between the shoulder blades with the fingers – palm to your back. Take your right hand to the left elbow and, without forcing, guide the stretch to a comfortable place. Give the head a little sideways movement to ensure you are not holding through the face and /or neck.

You can stop there if it’s enough or to go further take the right  hand down by your side, bring the back of the hand to the lower back and slide it up towards the left hand. If they reach then you can take hold of the fingers or hook them into eachother. If they don’t reach you can simply work them towards eachother or try with a strap in the left hand which you can they grab with the right.

Hold for a few deep breaths, feeling open through the chest and relaxed in your face. To release simply let it all unravel, shake out your shoulders and repeat for the same length of time on the other side.

This pose really demonstrates how unsymmetrical the shoulders are for many people, myself included, so don’t be surprised if you find a big difference between the two sides.

This is a great practice after too long in front of a computer to ease shoulder stiffness, reduce the tightness in the shoulder region and deepen the breath by opening the chest.

When you have finished take some time to chill like these cows are doing near my recent Clearview Retreat. Another one is fast approaching, Release Stress, Embrace Rest from 29/11/12 – 02/12/12. For further details or to book go to the Clearview Retreat website.

Love and light,

Belinda

xxx

Just Keep Swimming

We are still working hard on the renovations, each day produces some changes and progress. Sometimes the changes are big, easily noticed and make you feel you are really getting there and others they work is more preparation, behind the scenes or less obvious changes so it seems like you worked hard all day for very little obvious gain.

Like many things in life they are not moving as fast as we had originally planned but they are getting there slowly but surely. It is tempting to lose patience and motivation when you work steadily at a long term project like this and it takes longer than you thought. When those feelings arise I take some inspiration from Dory, the character from Finding Nemo who sings, “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming.” when she and Marlin are on their search for Nemo. All you can do is just keep going and eventually you will arrive somewhere. It might not be the destination or time that you had in mind but at least you got there in the end.

I can use the same philosophy for my yoga journey, sometimes progress is in leaps and bounds while others it seems to plateau but eventually I look back and see how far I have come and look forward to wherever my destination on that path may be.

So whatever road you are on, just keep swimming, or walking, or practicing yoga, or building, or whatever it is you’re doing and never give up. Your destination awaits…

Love and light,

Belinda

xxx

Renovation updates…

I missed writing my Tuesday blog post this week as my lovely hubbie is on holidays and we have been working very hard on the renovations. Taking out ceilings to create space for second storey joists has been the job of the week, the dust is beyond description! We prepared by removing as much furniture and other stuff as possible from each room then covered what remained with dust sheets and blocked all of the doorways to reduce the damage. Then we  set to it and took down the ceilings followed by a huge clean up.

Hard work but good progress, moving up towards the second storey becoming a reality rather than a plan on a piece of paper is exciting. With such a huge job it is easy to become overwhelmed by how much needs to be done but by breaking it down into more manageable tasks it looks much more achievable.

Next step, putting up the joists then the actual flooring. One step at a time we are getting there.

I did intend to write my post on Tuesday night but by the end of the day I was too exhausted so I chose instead to honour my body and minds need for rest and went to bed.

Love and light,

Belinda

xxx

Eternal student

Yesterday I completed my final day of prenatal yoga teacher training. I have been teaching prenatal yoga for a few years now but am a firm believer in remaining an eternal student when it comes to yoga. The reason why was proven by the four days of training giving me new knowledge, practices and experiences to share with my students – pregnant and otherwise. Giving birth is such a life changing experience and sadly in our society many women experience it as traumatic rather than the wonderful, amazingly positive event it is meant to be. I think there is much work to be done to turn that around and am now feeling enthusiastic and empowered to help to make that happen.

What the workshop also offered was the opportunity to connect with a wonderful group of yoga teachers who all had so much to share including the very lovely Anahata Giri who ran the training with wisdom, passion, sensitivity, generosity and love for the topic and her students. I am honoured to count every member of the group as friends now, over four short days we shared much information, learning, tears and laughter. I went on my own personal journey of self discovery, so much intense talk about babies and birth led me to revisit my own range of experiences and process some of the unresolved emotions relating to them.

In yoga we never stop learning, both about the infinite number of practices, texts, methods and wisdom yoga offers and the complex, complicated workings of our own bodies and minds. I often find when I seek knowledge externally I end up going through the process of learning through experience rather than just reading about it. Such was the case with this training, my own experiences have taught me so much and revisiting them has brought home to me the importance a good support team and preparation for the intense and wonderful experience of giving birth.

To finish I’d like to thank Anahata and all of the ladies who trained with me for their support and sharing on my journey and share a photo of my last baby, Rhys, (now 8 years old) whose birth was a positive and wonderful experience. 

Love and light,

Belinda

xxx