Monthly Archives: August 2013

Practising Detachment

photo (92)

Spending some time in Milford-on-Sea this week, my home town.

Quite simply when we are attached to something being a certain way we create fear and the potential to experience pain in our lives.

Our human mind, if not careful, will natural create ideas of how things should be & how our lives will be incomplete with out what ever it is we are attached to.

We place importance of things, that are external to us, going a certain way which are impossible to control. Life is constantly evolving, the only thing we can be certain of is change.

I am also a life coach and one thing I always make sure to stress to my clients are that goals must be flexible. A goal is great to have to give you a focus, to align your thoughts and actions towards what you want but there must be a degree of flexibility there as well. Often I find people end up achieving their goals in a completely different way to how they imagined at the start, and sometimes they completely change through out the life coaching process, What we start off thinking we want can turn into something that was  unimaginable at the start.

Another example is relationships, when we become attached to a relationship we are placing the other person higher than ourselves, it can be as if we wouldn’t survive with out them. This level of attachment places a huge pressure on a relationship and high expectation on the other person, which can in fact lead to pushing them away.

How does this relate to yoga?

As with everything yoga can show you how you are in life whilst you practice on your mat, it can help you to learn and practice new ways of being in an explorative manner. Attachment breeds rigidity, being attached to being in a pose in a certain way can lead to you forcing your body into something it’s not ready for. This will in turn lead to tension and tightness which is the opposite of what you are after in yoga.

When you let go, practice detachment, your body softens naturally into the pose and over time you will easily find yourself going deeper. Or maybe you wont, maybe you body is just not made for that particular pose, we all have areas that we are good at and some not so good. You might be amazing at back bends but really struggle to touch your toes, this is perfect. You are perfect, just as you are.

As you move through your practice notice where your mind goes, catch yourself thinking how “things should be”. Notice where you start to apply force.

Allow yourself to feel natural, do what feels good to you and just breathe in each pose. Allow it to evolve and flow over time.

Personally I have found my yoga practice over the years has really evolved through exploring different types of yoga and doing what feels good for me right now. Over the past year I have suffered with some back problems which has lead me to not be able to do the dynamic yoga I was enjoying and instead replace it with slower restorative yoga.

This has been a lesson itself as I have always liked to push myself physically but instead now I am focusing on nurturing myself. It has not been an easy lesson, resistance has naturally come up but this is the wonder of yoga……self awareness leads to self mastery in the end.

This week start to notice where you place your attachments? What has to be a certain way?

Then practice letting go. Trusting that where you are at right now is perfect and is all happening in perfect time.




The 8 Limbs of Yoga Explained

India 2011 162When I started to get into yoga it really was to give my body a good stretch, tone up and also to feel lovely and floaty by the end of the class. I’d often heard people say that yoga is a way of life, it’s a philosophy but I didn’t really know what they meant.

Five years later I get it now. I am not expert in it all, I am only still a novice, but I know it’s shaped who I am today, how I think and act. One of the main “guides” if you like to call it for yoga philosophy is Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra. A sutra is a verse full of words of wisdom.  In his sutra he describes yoga as having an  8 fold path which are guidelines to the way of living your life. These are the 8 limbs of yoga.

Astanga yoga is derived from this 8 fold path, ashtanga literally means 8 limbs.

So what are these 8 limbs of yoga?

1) Yamas

These are rules for social conduct;

  • Non violence – in action, thought and deed
  • Truthfulness
  • Non stealing – including taking credit for something you didn’t do!
  • Celebacy – or at least moderation of sensual pleasures
  • Non possessiveness – being aware of not accumulating unnesscessary things

2) Niyamas

These are more personal observances and self discipline;

  • Cleanliness of body and purity of mind
  • Contentment/ satisfaction
  • Austerities, the self disciplines we put upon ourselves for example giving up chocolate/ having a day in silence
  • Self study – of scriptures and Self
  • Total surrender to God

3) Asana

Asana is the physical practice that you experience in a yoga class. Asana literally means any posture that is stable and comfortable. The aim is to get in the pose and then be able to meditate comfortably in it.

4) Pranayama

Yogic breathing, prana is life force energy. Through pranayama practice you control the breath, the life force, it shows you how your breath impacts your mind and emotions.

5) Pratyahara

With drawl of your sense organs, this is where we go within. Shutting our the external world and taking your focus internally.

6) Dharana

Having gone with in then there comes mind fixed concentration. This is the practice of meditating on one object. Our minds are like monkeys jumping around all over the place so rather than trying to switch off thoughts altogether it can help to have one point of focus, like a mantra to repeat for example.

7) Dhyana

Once you have gone within, narrowed your focus to one point then you are meditating. This is Dhyana.

8) Samadhi

This is the final stage, the point where you have transcended your Self and are in a state of bliss. When you loose yourself completely in an object, and that object is revealing itself fully. Kind of like reading a great book, to begin with you focus on reading it but before long you become so immersed in it you are not even aware of the book or your Self just the story going into your mind.

That was a very basic run down of the 8 limbs. It’s so much more complex and to be able to follow it all requires a huge amount of discipline but it can be good to pick just one aspect and focus on that for a bit.


Fear v Love

heartMany great teachers say that we are only ever in two states, fear or love. Fear is connected with our ego, our mind, and is not who we truly are. It is formed through our past experiences and our worries about the future. Love on the other hand is our true state of being, it comes naturally to us unless of course fear gets in the way.

Yoga is a great practice to notice our fears and turn them into love instead, here are a few ways how;

1. Meditation. As we begin to settle and quieten our mind all sorts of thoughts can come up and if there is something you have been feeling fearful about it’s sure to dominate everything. Rather than trying to force it aside, notice it and say to your self “I forgive this fearful thought, it is not real, I choose love instead”. Just notice the subtle shift this creates.

2. There will always be asana (yoga pose) that challenges you, that you feel you can not do. Back bends are a perfect example. In camel pose where you are kneeling and extending backwards, fear of stretching into the unknown, loosing control, can often arise. Notice where fear arises, support your body where needed rather than using force and bring a sense of exploration to it instead. By loving yourself to do what feels good for you instead of force you can quieten the fear.

3. Breaking through fears will raise your self confidence and faith in yourself. Headstands can be scary things, the fear of falling back and hurting yourself can be the very thing that stops you even trying them. However, when you love yourself enough to not let fear get in the way, to ask for support in helping you get up there and to practice safely with out force you will love the gifts it rewards you with.

4. A yogic diet is a way of being loving to your body. So often fear can rule our eating patterns, fear of putting on weight, fear of getting cancer or some other disease, fear of not having enough food and so on. A yogic diet is fresh, clean and naturally healthy, but also it is made with love. We are taught to cook our meals slowly, making it into a meditation, bringing gratitude and love to the food we have to prepare. It makes it taste even better and just bringing yourself into the moment like that is coming back to love.

I’d love to hear how you have experienced yoga over coming your fears?

Namaste x