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