Yoga Teacher

Observing the most powerful of all relationships - the one with your Self

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I have been pondering an interesting concept this week, one which is really helping my physical and emotional wellbeing resulting in more control over my reactions and emotions. 

I took my usual yoga class last Saturday morning and the Sankalpa; or intention, we worked with was around creating and observing the relationship with the Self. The class was lead by the inspirational yoga teacher with the biggest smile and warmest soul, Lisa Ball. She mentioned the words “sitting down and having a relationship with your Self”. Just read those words again. “Sitting down and having a relationship with your Self”. Have you ever done this? Have you ever been the observer of that relationship? That one relationship that is perhaps the most important of all? How do you talk to your Self? How do you perceive your own thoughts, your own inner voice and your own actions? Do you fully accept yourself and trust your intuition?

These words stayed with me and intrigued me. It wasn’t until a few days later that I actually thought about the relationship that I have with my own Self. A few realisations washed over me as I noticed that this relationship needed some attention. Being a mum, wife, friend, daughter, sister, aunt, employee; most of my thoughts and energy are poured into my relationships with others. I haven’t dedicated much energy into nurturing my own Self. And when I do, I feel like I am being selfish and self-absorbed. When observing how I perceive myself in my own inner world, I find this often comes from a place of harsh judgment rather than love and care. This is very much the polar opposite to my relationship with others.

Here is the lifestyle curator I have been using to plan my self-care from  Saint Belford . It is specifically for this self-care purpose and has space to encourage daily wellness activities, meal planning, idea generation, habit trackers, empowering statements and daily to-do lists. 

Here is the lifestyle curator I have been using to plan my self-care from Saint Belford. It is specifically for this self-care purpose and has space to encourage daily wellness activities, meal planning, idea generation, habit trackers, empowering statements and daily to-do lists. 

So this week I have been trying to build a stronger connection to my Self. As the saying goes “You can’t pour from an empty cup”. This is so apt. How can I give my all to others when my own self is depleted? I must put on my own oxygen mask before helping others.

So how am I giving myself an oxygen mask this week? Treating myself that little bit kinder. Being gentle with myself. (I sound like I am talking to my 3-year-old!). Talking to myself with less judgment and more leniency. Restarting a meditation practice but instead of rigidly practicing every day and feeling guilty if I haven’t, doing it when I can and not worrying that I haven’t done it for 5 days. Buying a fancy water bottle to encourage myself to drink more. But the thing that has had the most profound effect was finding one way, each day, to do something just for Me. I have actually started scheduling these activities into each day. With the first day doing exactly that. Planning. Planning in what I will do and when I can fit in my daily self-care for the week. It doesn’t have to be extravagant or expensive. For me, most of the time it is just sitting down for 5 minutes, putting on chillout music, essential oils in the diffuser and having a cuppa with no phone or computer while the kids are asleep. The main thing is to find ways that refuel your own wellbeing. It might be exercise, socialising or personal development, it is different for everyone.

This thing is a god-send! Check out the  Daily Wellness Activity Planner  to make self-care a #1 priority.

This thing is a god-send! Check out the Daily Wellness Activity Planner to make self-care a #1 priority.

And what have I noticed?

  • I am laughing more.
  • I am more patient with the kids.
  • My shoulders have relaxed.
  • Some things that seemed a big deal are now not.
  • Life seems a little smoother.

 

I highly recommend taking an honest look at your relationship with your own Self. Not judging or resisting. Just noticing. Observe your own thought patterns, prioritise yourself and perhaps recognise any areas that need a little TLC.

Why I am embarrassed to call myself a yoga teacher at the moment

Why I am embarrassed to call myself a yoga teacher at the moment? Babies, that is why. With minimal physical activity and conversation topics mostly involving sleep and nipples, I am now finally restarting my physical yoga practice. It feels great but; to be honest, I feel like a bit of a yogi fraud.

So here is a little warts and all review - what I am struggling with, where I am going to start and how I am slowly going to rebuild my strength and physical practice.

Confession of Meditating #2 - DIFFERENT TYPES OF MEDITATION

My beautiful set of Mala Beads that were gifted to me at my Yoga Training graduation

My beautiful set of Mala Beads that were gifted to me at my Yoga Training graduation

Ideal: Closed eye seated meditation
Reality: There are many different ways to meditate

There are many ways to meditate. Of course, not all of these techniques follow the idealism of meditation and do not all achieve the same benefits but; again, just the notion of being consciously aware and practising mindfulness has its own merits in itself. Here are some styles that I tend to sway towards:

Guided Meditations:

I love a good guided meditation, especially if you are prone to falling asleep during meditation (which I do A LOT) or your mind tends to get immersed in your thoughts. I use guided meditations for the times when I am working through something in particular (ie. anger, disappointment, positivity, gratitude, stress, sleep). I find that both the conscious mind is listening to the words but the unconscious mind is really working to alter those reoccurring and underlying thought patterns. For example, at the moment I am 34 weeks pregnant, and I am using the CalmBirth guided meditations to prepare my mind and my body for labour and birth. When I was in labour with Master N, my external world completely shut down, I was in my own little bubble and hence I really only remember bits and pieces of the birth process. I found I really relied on this unconscious mind and the work I had put into CalmBirth and making sure I unconsciously believed in my body and the power of staying calm to really get me through. 

There are a few good apps that I use: Insight Timer, Headspace, Happify and Buddhify.

Walking Meditation:

A great alternative for those who are time poor. This focuses more on mindfulness and being completely aware in the present moment rather than zoning everything out and drawing the focus within as you do in a sitting meditation (yes that would be quite dangerous). I use walking meditations when I walk Master N in the pram up the road in the mornings to get a coffee and used this a lot if I miss a morning meditation.

Group Meditation:

Many yoga and wellness studios offer meditation classes. These are commonly a guided meditation but also introduce different types of meditation for you to try out in a safe environment. For example, Moksha Yoga Studio in Bentleigh includes pranayama (breathing) techniques and sometimes mantra and chanting. Its a great way for those new to meditation to experience different types and also help to overcome feelings of self-consciousness or nervousness around meditation. Science states that practising yoga in a group setting boosts the oxytocin levels in the body (one of our feel-good hormones), and this is part of the reason why you sometimes end up leaving on such a high.

Japa Mala Bead Meditation:

So this involves a set of Mala beads. Mala Beads are 108 beads strung together with a junction bead in the middle. The idea with this is: repetition of a meditation technique 108 times, touching each bead until you reach the junction bead again. Some common techniques of repetition are breath work or pranayama (one round of breath per bead) or one repetition of a mantra per bead (either in your mind or out loud). Some common mantras are “So hum” or “Om”. I also find this method of meditation really useful for those who have a tendency to fall asleep or engage in thoughts. Its helps to give the mind something to focus on.

My prenatal practice at 20 weeks pregnant

Here is my first attempt at a video - my Surya Namaskar A practice at 20 weeks pregnant, complete with prenatal modifications. I recorded this for anyone that is pregnant but feels attending a prenatal yoga class is a little premature. If you are comfortable practising in a vinyasa flow class, these are the modifications I make to my Surya Namaskar (a.k.a Sun Salutation).

We were recently in the Gold Coast, Queensland which I thought would be a beautiful backdrop (which it is!) but didn’t really think through attempting a Surya Namaskar on a short towel, on the uneven sand whilst trying not to engage my core too much. It was also a little off-putting having my 2.5-year-old shouting “MUMMYYYYYYY, WHAT ARE YOU DOING!!!!!” in the background but hey, that’s a mum life for you. (Don’t worry, he’s been dubbed over with some pleasant music for your enjoyment)

It was an enlightening experience actually watching myself do yoga, one of those ones you cringe as you peep between the fingers covering your eyes - much like a horror movie. So many things I would change if I was to do it again however Original Silence is all about authenticity so this is it! Enjoy.

Music credit: The Yoga of Dance by galacticwind

Some exciting news! Part Two: Acceptance, Elation and Change

Master N introducing himself to bub

Master N introducing himself to bub

Following on from my previous post, I am now 23 weeks pregnant and absolutely loving every moment of my pregnancy. As I navigated through the conflicting emotions around excitement of pregnancy yet loss of control of my yoga teaching path in those early weeks, I have found it has opened my path up in new ways. Some would argue, perhaps paths I need to travel to become a more humble and truly authentic yoga teacher? The very foundations of Original Silence.

A reminder of the seed that grew the flower

It has reminded me of the reasoning behind why I originally endeavoured to become a yoga teacher. It was to share my passion for birth and yoga and to become a prenatal yoga teacher. When I was 28 weeks pregnant with Master N, my husband and I took a weekend course in an approach to birthing called “Calm Birth”. This was life changing for us (and I mean us!). It taught us techniques that we could use for the birth but also just dealing with the challenges of life in general. It was an eye-opening experience and one that gave me such a thorough understanding of birth and the how the body works. I had a beautiful birth using these tools and one which has ignited a passion for pregnancy, birth and the mind/body connection. 

Through the techniques I have learnt from Calm Birth as well as the wealth of knowledge from my yoga teacher training, I really feel I can help other mums-to-be through their pregnancy. To help those that are perhaps experiencing fear or anxiety around the birth and labour. To share the wisdom that was shared with me, give them an understanding of the mind-body connection and how powerful this could be. And lastly to give them some practical ways of dealing with the intensity of:

1. the thought of becoming a mother
2. actually becoming a mother, and, 
3. the challenges that may come after becoming a mother

Prenatal teacher in action!

Prenatal teacher in action!

So being pregnant myself now, I have now completed some extra training to be able to teach prenatal classes - my initial dream is becoming a reality! And really, who better to have as your prenatal yoga teacher than one that is actually pregnant! If that’s not dedication to the job, I don't know what is. I have taught a few classes so far and they have been great. I particularly like the long relaxation / guided meditation I lead at the end of the class. It's about 15 - 20 mins of bliss and I usually leave the class feeling just as zen as the lovely ladies in there. There is more training I would like to complete, in particular, post-natal yoga as it differs a lot from prenatal, but that will come later down the track - just one thing at a time Lauren!

It's the motivation behind the OS blog

As I obviously won't be able to start any new teaching gigs for a little while, so it has spurred me on to start writing this blog. For the next 4-5 months, it will be a great way to keep learning and sharing the different aspects of Yoga with the world - just through a different medium. To share how I am using the teachings of Yoga in my life, my pregnancy and beyond - hopefully, my community might learn a new thing or two along the way.

Changes to my teaching style - for the better

I now realise that this is such a great thing for me. It is forcing me out of my comfort zone and I feel like this whole experience will make me a better teacher in the long run.

Our training at Moksha encouraged us to teach as though our students were blind. To rely on language to cue, move and adjust the students rather than visual demonstration. One of my main criticisms during my training was that I demonstrated too much and I still do rely on this a lot when teaching, particularly beginners. When pregnant, there are a lot of yoga poses that shouldn’t be attempted, especially when demonstrating. Not only could it be uncomfortable and disrupt the flow of energy around bub, but it would be difficult to demonstrate correct alignment and positioning in some poses - the cardinal sin of being a yoga teacher.

On realising this, it has caused me to change my teaching style dramatically. It is teaching me to express and guide the class using creative language and also to play around with cues until I find one that resonates with my students. It's proving to be an interesting and mindful process. It is forcing me out of my own head when teaching and to really connect with my students much more. 

Onwards and upwards!

So there you have it, I feel like the background to the how and why of Original Silence is finally established. Now on to sharing more in-depth info on all things YOGA!