Will you show up in 2015?

by Rosanna on June 25, 2015, no comments

RoYoga Keeping it up

photo credit: Stuart F Taylor, Writer & Illustrator, London UK

“Erm, Rosanna, it’s June already. Summer Solstice was last week and we’re halfway through the year. Isn’t this the sort of question people ask in January, at New Year’s?”

Yes. And often it is. Followed by a string of add-on questions, like:

and…

be the best version of you?”

get super fit and achieve that dream bod you’ve always wanted?”

stay motivated DAILY, keeping to all your deadlines?”

We ask ourselves (and let others tell us) to be on top, wonderful, perfect all day long. The stakes go high, and it’s no surprise we fall.

Motivational when the comfort of Winter has it’s grip? Yes, up to a point. Pressurising and a tad unrealistic? A little too.

Just be you – warts and all

Well, I want to take the pressure off. Back track a little, and just ask you the first question, because chances are your humanness got in the way of your wild hopes and plans for 2015, and the rocket you intended to zoom through the year on got a wing tear. So, my question is, simply: Will you show up in 2015? And then my pen goes down. I’m asking you to join us as you are, in knowing that’s OK; you’re wonderful right now and before you aim into the night for super toned arms and rock solid abs. I’m asking you to join us when you feel less than, as well as on top; cranky as well as chirpy; heavy as well as light.

Let’s take the pressure down a notch, and forget about that “glow” you see on the models in the magazines. Let yourself off the hook a bit, and roll your mat out on rainy days as well as bright ones. It can hold you, you know, warts and all.

Question: Will you give yourself a softer time and let yourself (and all versions of) be seen?

Because it’s easy to love ourselves when we’re achieving our goals, in shape and the “us” we’re happy for our friends to know. But what about when we’re not? When we’re in overwhelm, sadness or breaking down. Society might say we need to keep things together, but that’s in forgetting or masking all parts of ourselves, which there really is nothing wrong with. Our angry, just coping and down days – these are times to show our faces too, and in order to receive the extra care and attention we need to remind us we’re whole. Something or someone to hold us and whisper in our ear we’re still beautiful.

We live in a time of many pressures, right? And yoga can be something to help us, and take the pressure off. Let’s not walk past this golden opportunity, in seeing it as something that it’s not. Let’s do our best to keep the integrity of yoga, as a practice for peace and calm, energy and freedom.

So, next time you find yourself with a long list of “shoulds” and “should nots” for the yoga room – stop and think. No need to go into debt buying all the latest trendy outfits or hit the treadmill in order to lose a few pounds before arriving in class. Sweetie, you’re perfect as you are – and it’s time to have an adventure.

Just put your comfy gear on and come as you are, right now – whatever that may be. And when you get here, you’ll reliase we’re all the same anyway – some just hide their warts better than others.

Dear Dee (Depression)

by Rosanna on May 19, 2015, 2 comments

Dear Dee

photo credit: Stuart F Taylor, Writer & Illustrator, London UK

Life with a mental illness by yoga teacher Rosanna Gordon

There’s been a lot in the media lately around the topic of mental health. More and more people are coming out of the closet and opening up about this condition. It’s good for us to develop a better understanding and have a strong dialogue on this subject, since 1 in 4 of us will suffer a mental health condition at some point in our lives. So let’s stay informed and connected.

There seems to be a certain amount of ‘shame’ attached to yoga teachers who admit suffering from depression, as well as other mental illnesses. Perhaps because they should be ‘sorted’ and well. I am one of those yoga teachers, who is suffering and I too have felt shame.

Dear Dee,

It’s been a while, huh? You and me together. I first felt your presence when I was 15, like a darkness had come over me. I was anorexic and deeply saddened by things going on around and inside me. You were very real.

At times, you left. I was ‘normal’ again. Able to have fun with friends and laugh without feeling trapped in my own head, overcome with negative thoughts and extreme emotions that I just didn’t know how to handle. Where did you go?

You’re a crafty one! Making me run and swim so fast I couldn’t see you for the trees! Or the bright light, the joy. I thought I had shaken you off, you’d gone and left me. I thought this was possible, to ditch you and do it alone, be strong.

You came back though. Again and again, in a cyclical pattern. That familiar, melancholic feeling returned year after year. You were there with me right through university, my yoga training and the setting up of my yoga business. You stalled me, remember? I had to take considerable chunks of time out of work and life, just to try and make sense of you and your incessant hold on me – why were you in my life? Was it down to my early exposure to mental illness? My genes? Or plain living in an imperfect world? The CBT and Counselling I’ve had has been wonderful in helping to understand where you came from and your purpose in my life. I don’t have the answer as to ‘why’ you’re here exactly, but I’ve learnt to accept you – let you stay. You can kip on my shoulder, and we’ll do things together.

You know, when I went to CBT, it took me until the third session (out of six) to tell my therapist that I was a yoga teacher. Crazy! You had your hold, big time. It was that day I couldn’t leave the house and had to call instead, knowing I needed to reach out. “I’m a yoga teacher” I cried down the phone, feeling shame and alone. I should be sorted, I thought. This depression has been going on for too long! I’ve done everything under the sun to shake it (you) off and I’m in a position of responsibility. You had your grip right, Dee? And I felt weak, like I wasn’t doing my best. I didn’t want people to see you.

I know now that there’s no shame in you being here. Whether you join me on the mat or on the road, I really let you in. I’m one of the four sufferers who has a mental health condition. Label me up! ‘Recurrent depression’ is what they’ve named you, did you know that? Did you know that’s what they call you Dee and why you leave? I’m happy for people to catch a glimpse of you and know your name. I’m not afraid anymore. And maybe you’re not so bad after all… I mean, you’ve taught me great amounts of empathy and compassion for others who suffer similarly. You make me look for the light in things, and in fact, I’m not sure I want you to go.

This isn’t the end Dee. You and me. We’ll travel the road longer together. Only now, I have better insight and more strength. I’m going to help others with “Dee’s” too! I wonder what they call you, I mean ‘their’ Dee… I’ll train in yoga therapy for mental health – and help others who are learning to live with Dee’s too. Yeah, that feels good.

Rosanna Gordon is a British Wheel of Yoga (BWY) Teacher & Freelance Writer. She runs group & one-to-one yoga classes in Liverpool UK & plans to specialise in yoga for depression. For info, visit rosannagordon.com

Make Yoga Yours, Not Hers

by Rosanna on April 15, 2015, no comments

Yogagal

photo credit: Stuart F Taylor, Illustrator & Writer, London UK

‘What is yoga?’

Such a good question! And for everyone, it’s something slightly different.

“A place to breathe, time out of a busy day, a good workout, sweaty fun, my calm and spiritual practice…”

Everyone’s got a unique interpretation of this ancient practice, and you can find just about every version imaginable of yoga these days: Traditional Yoga, Yoga for Runners, SUP (Standup Paddleboard) Yoga, Snowga, Club Yoga, Flowmotion Yoga… You name it, it’s there!

Now really is the perfect time to explore what’s on offer, and find a suitable style for you. And I’m thinking, your style just mightn’t be the same as your

…Friend Whether she’s an Ashtangi or likes it hot – Bikram style, you and your best pal might not have the exact yoga style in common. Perhaps you could go to a few classes together, then branch out and do it solo, choosing a class that really appeals to you personally. It’ll invite great discussion topics: prop central vs mat only, what the chants actually mean and finding your unique position on vegetarianism in yoga. Plus, who knows – you might meet some new yoga buds in that Antigravity Yoga class you’ve always wanted to try!

…Teacher Teacher’s word is gospel, right? Well, not always. Instructions and teachings are there to guide you, keep you safe and offer you a point of reference along the yoga journey, but there will be times you disagree with what your teacher is saying. Maybe their interpretation of the yamas and niyamas is a bit old school for you, you would prefer silence in the class instead of ‘atmospheric’ hippy music or perhaps you just don’t think your back will arch any more once letting go of limiting beliefs! You never know, your teacher might actually want you to question their position on things, stimulating interesting conversation.

…Inspirer How wonderful is it when you find someone you really resonate with? Their personality shines, and offering suits you down to a tee. With this Yogi, you wait on their every word and asana, wanting to shout “yes” to the rooftops each time they speak! Amazing – but it’s also important not to get too carried away with seeing their brilliance that it casts a shadow over yours. Find time to tap into your own strength and energy, allowing space for your unique voice and yoga to emerge. Inspire you, yes. Replace you and your yoga, no.

…Former Self There’ll be changes along the yoga journey. What you’re drawn to today might not resemble the same as it did 5 or 10 years ago. A daily practice may have become more now and again, or even time out to gain a new perspective. Notice if you’re keen for a strong or gentle practice, morning or evening. Staying open is key, and being able to go with the flow – especially if things seem a little stagnant or same-old.

Let time and exploration lead you to your style, or many! Whether you choose to Om, eat vegan or opt for a more restorative practice… put your own flavour on yoga, so that it brings you, as an individual, alive, more peace, balance…. whatever you’re looking for in yoga, I guess.

Feeling down? Why Yoga Can Help

by Rosanna on March 26, 2015, no comments

Down

photo credit: Stuart F Taylor, Illustrator & Writer, London UK

Has a dark cloud come over you? Your mood fallen low, and it feels impossible to break free?

Maybe you’re able to get on with everyday things; life and work – only the meaning has gone, and there’s a sinking feeling in your stomach. Or perhaps it’s a struggle just getting out of bed in the morning, and any hope of a bright future is slowly slipping from your fingertips.

1 in 4 of us will experience a mental health problem at some point in our lives, depression and anxiety being the most common. Things (life) can become hard to handle, even unbearable at times, and it sometimes feels like nothing will ever lift us up.

What can be done?

It’s important to know you’re not alone, when you feel this way. Whilst symptoms vary hugely from person to person, many others are in a similar boat. Feeling trapped, struggling mentally and wanting a solution. With help from your family and doctor, you can create a “feel-good” path to suit you – which will look different for everyone, and include a unique selection of therapies, lifestyle factors and perhaps medication to help balance and lift your mood.

It’s important to be kind to yourself as you get going again, especially if motivation has drawn to a halt. One step at a time, being compassionate all the way.

Yoga can be a very beneficial tool for helping to improve your mood, bring better quality of life, and see away the darker days. Here are 3 ways it can help:

How Yoga Can Help

Community

A wonderful aspect of yoga is the community feel you get in practising in a group environment. There’s a sense of belonging with like-minded people, doing something positive for your well-being. And this contact can help take you away from your own head and thinking, and bring in new perspectives. Look for a group class, where you feel inspired and uplifted by the presence of others. Or book a series of one-to-one sessions/a workshop where you can benefit emotionally, as well as mentally from speaking with others.

Focus

Feeling down for any length of time is pretty miserable, and often all-consuming. Sometimes you need something “else” to come in and break this attachment. Doing yoga can be a welcome break from the goings on in your mind. By coming into your body, the stretches and breathing exercises have the power to instantly draw you into the present moment, making you aware of how you feel physically and what/where you’re stretching, opening, releasing etc.

Strength

Whilst having depression is not a sign of weakness, it can often feel so. You can get overcome with self-blame and attack for feeling this way. So it’s a good idea to do something to remind yourself of your strength and confidence. In Warrior 2, really feel the strength and tone of your legs and arms. Take a moment to truly notice the sensation in your core in Spinal Twists and be entirely present to your whole body strength in Downward Dog.

Next time you feel down, and your mood begins to spiral – take a moment to acknowledge this to yourself. Let it in – and then do something positive to help yourself feel better. In time, your mood will shift and the light will start to come back in. Stay hopeful.

What do you couple your yoga with to feel good?

by Rosanna on March 11, 2015, no comments

Yoga Activ

photo credit: Stuart F Taylor, Illustrator & Writer, London UK

Often times when you’re feeling down, flat, achy… or in some way in pain or uncomfortable, yoga can help you feel better. Many of us have experienced this ‘change’ yoga brings from the start of the class when you arrive to the end when you relax. Taller, happier, more aligned.

Whether it’s the space to breathe, the “me time” or the physical stretches you need – yoga has got the goods.

“Ahh I feel great. Looser in my body and calmer in my mind.”

Not every time, of course. There are times the mat just holds you (your emotions and feelings) and offers you a break. Not to be in any particular way, but that that you are. I’ve also heard students say:

“I don’t feel good, just a bit better.” or “Well, I’m not disappointed…”

And that’s OK too. It’s OK not to feel great after every yoga session! This cannot be the expectation. Sometimes you will, and sometimes you won’t. Yoga (or anything for that matter) is not a ‘cure all’ or a remedy for all of our aches and pains, illnesses and dis-ease. However, that said, it’s no lie that yoga can help a darn lot of people. I’ve seen it, I’ve felt it and more and more studies are emerging offering us proof.

Feel good tool box

So, yoga can be one way to help you feel better. It may be a go-to tool that you use to lift your spirit or take away the soreness in your back. It’s nice to have a tool kit. A mix of things you can do to boost feel-good, and therefore the quality of your life. Everyone’s tool box will look a bit different.

And I’m curious – what do you couple your yoga with to help you feel good? What else contributes to your mental, physical and emotional health?

I asked my students this question, and here’s what they said:

“Apart from yoga, I dance tango (not very well!) and sometimes salsa (also not very well!). For me, dancing is a form of mindfulness. It’s the one thing that takes my mind off everything. A regular dose is more about keeping a healthy mind than a healthy body. It always makes me feel good.” Yoga Student

“In addition to my yoga, I attend outdoor exercise classes on Jesus Green – as well as being physically challenging, I get a simple child-like pleasure from running around in a park getting covered in mud! I also enjoy rock-climbing. I find the feeling of moving over rock meditative and mentally all-consuming – when mind and body are flowing together, there’s nothing like it to clear the head and make me feel good.” Claire Davey, Business Support Officer, OCR, Cambridge

and fellow yoga teacher Nadia Cowlan (Ananda Bliss) too:

“Alongside Yoga, I generally seem to do a lot of gigging and enjoying the little things in life, yep very cliche! I love long walks with my dog ‘Bear’, and also spend time composing. I’m working towards an album of Yoga inspired music at present.” Nadia Cowlan, Yoga Teacher & Compulsive Giggler

Lovely! A real combination. As for me, I like walking and attend a weekly counseling session. Both activities offer a space for me to breathe and process how I feel in a healthy way. The fresh air, I find soothing and talking things through in a contained environment, very therapeutic. Without a doubt, these practices lead to a clearer, calmer mind.

Yoga and … (fill in the gap)

Now, over to you. What practices/activities do you do alongside your yoga that help you feel good? Do share so we can inspire each other in offering our suggestions, as well as acknowledge to ourselves the things that we do in contribution to our health and well-being.

I can’t bend that way!

by Rosanna on February 26, 2015, no comments

Forward Foldphoto credit: Stuart F Taylor, Illustrator & Writer, London UK

Ever find yourself in a yoga class, struggling with a certain posture? Looking around the room, observing other students move more gracefully into what can only be described as ‘perfect poses’? Backs completely flat in Seated Forward Bend, noses to knees, beautiful arches in Camel pose, gazes on the wall behind, and legs neatly crossed in Lotus pose, knees to the floor. The icing on the cake is when your yoga teacher leads a demo, and it just stops you in your tracks. Jaw dropped, you utter to yourself:

“I can’t bend that way!”

Maybe you’re new to the group, and know there’s a little way to go. More ‘stretch’ and attention to be had, which in time will release tense muscles, surely? Or perhaps you’ve been coming to yoga for a while now, and… there just seems to be some things/poses your body won’t be able to do! Either way, the ability others have is starting to perplex you and fill you with a nasty heavy feeling in your stomach, which before long leaves you standing in a well of inadequacy.

“Why doesn’t my Cobra/Downward Dog/Wheel pose… look that way?” “Is there something wrong with me?”

You’re not alone

Firstly, it’s important to know that you’re not alone. You may think so when you’re stuck in the well, and you can’t see out. But rest assured, there are countless others who experience the same thing as you do and feel similarly. It’s normal to be restricted, and not meet a particular ‘standard’.

We all have our personal limitations in yoga, and it’s good to have an idea of ‘what can be improved or worked on’ and ‘what just ain’t gonna change’, due to our make-up and the way we’re born. And maybe – we’re holding too tightly to the idea of perfect poses anyway, and it’s time to loosen our grip, so the definition of yoga isn’t skewed by our attachment to beauty and physical form.

What restricts us?

We’re all unique – and so is our yoga

One thing we can say is we’re all different. We come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Our bone structures and proportions are unique. Such a blessing, eh? Part of the yoga journey is understanding and seeing the way you are, on a physical, mental and emotional level. When you get on the mat and focus in, you notice your right side moves and feels differently to your left, you may be tighter or stronger in one muscles group to another… Things become clearer through yoga.

Gaining peace of mind

Whether or not you can go further in a pose can be put down to a few things. In his popular DVD, The “Anatomy for Yoga” Yoga Teacher Paul Grilley explains how different we all are in our skeletons, anatomically. He shares his wisdom and knowledge about how and why we move differently in yoga:

“There’s a real need in the yoga community to have a deeper understanding how anatomical differences affect our yoga practices” Grilley

Through demonstrations, Grilley highlights the point that no two people are the same. Due to our different anatomical structures, we move uniquely. Two key concepts Grilley introduces are ‘Tension’ and ‘Compression’. When working in yoga postures, you can be met with either tensile or compressive stress. Tensile: something that can be stretched more or is tight, compressive: when two bones hit each other, and there’s no way further to go.

Tension or Compression?

For example, in Cat Stretch, Grilley shows that the arch of your lower back moving towards the floor will depend on your skeleton. A large arch (inward curve) in your lower back means your belly will dip further to the ground as you breathe in. Whereas, if there’s a far smaller inward curve, the arch will be less obvious. Everyone’s Cat pose will look a bit different, due to when compression occurs and how the muscles are being worked.

A second example he gives, and one I’m personally familiar with, is how far towards the ground your heels come in Downward Dog. For me, it’s always been a challenge to place them down, despite spending some time in this pose and stretching the leg muscles. My gut feeling, that they weren’t going to come down, was first confirmed by my Tutor Mary Mackie during Teacher Training, who, on analysis, explained that it was due to compression in my ankle joint. This was recently supported too by fellow Cambridge-based Yoga Teacher Sally Lander:

“When you, Rosanna, do a Lunge pose, you can see that in trying to move the front knee as far over your toes as possible, the angle remains close to 90 degrees. The shape of the bones and the way your foot meets the shin causes the angle to be too large for the heel to be down in Downward Dog. This will also occur in poses such as Squat and is due to compression in the ankle joint.” Sally Lander

When Compression occurs, bones meet bones, and you’ve already stretched your muscles fully, what you end up with is your yoga pose. Kinda nice, huh? Having it’s own shape and appearance.

The next example refers to another one of Grilley’s key concepts: ‘Proportion’. Something else that plays a role in our yoga practice. Our bodies have different proportions, eg ‘femur (thigh bone) to torso’ or ‘arm to torso’. In Triangle pose, you may need the aid of a block if even at full tilt of your pelvis and maximum lateral flexion of your spine, your arm still won’t meet the ground! If it’s not a tensile or compressive matter, it could be down to the comparative length of your arm in relation to your torso/legs. Block, anyone?

The final example is of a yoga pose which is commonly met with difficulty and self-critical dialogue: Seated Forward Bend (see image above). There are several factors which could restrict you here to create pose perfect: tight hamstrings, lower back or hips, short arms and long legs to name a few! Yoga Teacher Rachel Hawes explains:

“Over the last decade of teaching yoga, I’ve noticed every body is unique. Some hamstrings have the ability to stretch, and with a little practice, forward folding will be a breeze. Some people, not so much and after years of practice our heads may still be nowhere near our knees. It’s all about our personal physiology. That’s OK though. Reaching Nirvana isn’t dependent on where you put your head but rather by letting go of the pre-existing thoughts and conditioning you keep inside there.” Rachel Hawes

So, next time you find yourself scrunching up your face, muttering the oh-so-common phrase: “I can’t bend that way!” – know that it’s OK. And if you look around you, clearly, you’ll see we’re all in the same boat. We don’t need to achieve ‘perfect poses’. Or rather, what we need to do is work on changing the definition.

My One Yoga Regret

by Rosanna on February 5, 2015, no comments

You’ve started doing yoga recently, coming along to group classes, and you’re feeling good! More energy, less back pain, generally happier. Yoga is a new part of your life and one you’re proud of.

But whilst it’s easy adding all the benefits together, there’s one small niggle. Something that’s been playing on your mind and just won’t seem to shift. What were you doing before? Why is it only now that you’ve started doing yoga? Despite your best efforts not to, you find yourself peering around the room at other students and concluding that you’re, by far, the oldest one there – and you’re not too happy about it.

Often when we start something new, it can prompt us to look at the past. We compare the new feeling or way of living with what we experienced previously. And, because we’re doing it now (disregarding the significant factors which got us there), we can’t understand what stopped us before! Students often say to me a variation of this:

“My only regret is that I didn’t start yoga sooner.”

Then followed by a string of ‘should have, would have, could have’ sentences. “I should’ve practised yoga as a teenager – I wouldn’t have been so highly strung.”, “I would’ve been happier and less emotional had I gone to class at University.”, “I could’ve experienced a lot less anguish in relationships if I discovered yoga before.”

You’re not alone

Perhaps it’s comforting to know many of us feel this way. We look at opportunity lost and judge ourselves for our past choices. We spend time feeling bad and comparing ourselves to what we see in others. We plain ol’ wish the feel-good (better moods, improved confidence, more calm) could have started earlier! That way, we would have missed out on a lot of pain suffering, and everything just would have been alright.

But it’s important not to get too carried away with this idea. To not let the “X have” thoughts cloud the feel-good you’re experiencing right now. We all ‘could have, should have, would have’ if circumstances were different, and we were different. But they weren’t and we weren’t. And maybe that’s not such a bad thing.

Stay present

So, let’s flip your focus. Coming into the breath and this moment here and now. What’s going on right now? Well, for one, you’ve started doing yoga! Something you love and enjoy, and the benefits are aplenty. Let’s revel in that for a moment…

Congratulations

Take time to congratulate yourself for making it to the mat. So, it wasn’t 10 years ago, but never mind! You’re doing it now and it’s OK to be feeling wonderful.

And each time your mind starts to wander, you slip into the comparison game and your stomach sinks, remember – you’re doing perfectly. Just what you’re meant to be doing. So, let’s not allow our regrets to detract from our happiness today. How about this for a turn around:

“I’m doing yoga today and it’s wonderful.”

So, I’d love to hear from you. Have you started doing yoga recently? Do you struggle with the age-thing, and give yourself grief for not arriving earlier? Or have you found a way to stay present, and feel contentment with wherever you’re at on your yoga journey? Do share by leaving a comment below.

Will my yoga teacher adjust me?

by Rosanna on January 21, 2015, no comments

yoga class

We go to yoga for all kinds of reasons: to get fit, relax, de-stress, strengthen our muscles… We don’t necessarily go to have physical contact with anyone. But should we expect it?

Many yoga teachers across the country adjust their students, helping to correct alignment and deepen practice. This might be quite gentle, such as realigning your head with the spine in Relaxation or moving a hanging arm/hand back over the shoulder in Triangle pose. But sometimes, more force is applied, like pressing hips back and down in Child’s pose or guiding the sacrum upward in downward dog. It can feel nice and believably prevent injury.

Last week, articles came out in The Times and Daily Mail reporting that Pippa Middleton, sister of the Duchess of Cambridge has found a new and very “hands-on” London-based Yoga Teacher, Stewart Gilchrist. He has been described as the ‘Marmite of yoga’, since his unique approach is not welcomed by all. Full article here.

So, what is acceptable? Is it up to your yoga teacher to decide when to adjust? Or should you have more say? One idea suggested is having “consent cards” where you can simply place a ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ card next to your mat, indicating whether or not you give permission to the teacher to touch. This way, people can feel safe and no-one has to compromise. But should you give the green light, where’s the limit? And at what point can you change your mind?

I probably have a less conventional approach in that I don’t adjust my students. Apart from the odd palms on shoulders to induce relaxation or a turning of a twisted wrist, I stay clear. Perhaps being the other extreme to Gilchrist! I rely on co-performance, verbal instructions and some demo to teach. And I do this, so my students can truly come into their bodies and space, and build strength and confidence from there. It’s intuitive for me NOT to touch, and so I pay particular attention to how I deliver verbal cues, keeping the class safe and comfortable.

My teaching style won’t suit everyone. And nor will Gilchrist’s. So, I guess I’m curious – how do you feel about hands-on adjustments? Do you want more, less or perhaps just on certain days? Leave a comment below, letting us know your opinion.

Yoga – what’s your motivation?

by Rosanna on January 7, 2015, no comments

Hello all! And a Happy New Year!

2015

I haven’t written a blog since last January… Fell off that one, didn’t I? But I continuously got very envious of other people’s writing during 2014, which was a big cue for me to start up again. So, here tis: my blog of 2015. Long let it continue!

So, I want to ask you – how are you feeling? Take a moment to check in with your mind and body. What do you notice? I always start my classes this way. 5 minutes not to judge or change anything, but just to “check in”. See how you are in the moment. Such awareness can help draw you into the here and now and give you an account of how you’re doing, which is something we can often skip by and not allow space for.

And it’s not always good, what we notice! We notice discomfort as well as peace. Pain as well as joy. And it’s OK – how we feel is OK. It’s just what it is.

When you step on the mat, you bring with you whatever’s going on in your life. All kinds of emotions and feelings. Information about how you are, your starting point.

So why do we come? What makes us step on the mat in the first place? Yoga – what’s your motivation?

Because, if we don’t know this – why would we bother in the first place! Everyone needs motivation to do something, otherwise we’d just stay at home/work and not do any yoga at all.

And to keep us on track this new year, I want to know a bit about you. What is it that makes you roll your mat out? What is it you’re getting from your practice?

For me, it’s quite simple. I just feel better when I do yoga. If I take the Christmas period for example. Eating mince pies & lots of party food was great! Tasty, and I needed a good break. Spending quality time with family and friends. But with all the tele watching and little movement, I felt my mood sink and I lost a connection with my body. My mood was the big one. For a few days to a week, I was low, slightly depressed. This isn’t the first time either. No. Me and my moods, we go way back, to teenage years! I’d quite openly say this is something I suffer from: low moods/depression, and something I’ve written about a bit previously in blogs and online.

My motivation is that I want to improve my mood. I need to physically distract myself from my otherwise-spiraling thoughts, and take a dose of feel-good. And I know just the thing to do it – my ever-functioning tool: yoga.

So, there’s a bit about my motivation. Now, over to you – what makes you step on the mat in the first place? And, what’s going to persist if you don’t?

5 Ways To Be A Good Yoga Student

by Rosanna on March 12, 2014, no comments

1) Practise yoga every day

2) Eat a vegetarian diet

3) Think positive

4)

“Hang on.” I hear you say. “What if… I don’t want to give up meat? I’ve only got time for one yoga class a week? I keep trying to think more positively, but I can’t seem to get rid of negative thoughts?”

The big question you’re asking is: Is there any wiggle room? Can you do yoga your way?

And the answer is yes.

We see glossy pictures in the magazines (yes yoga ones too) and read dogma-filled articles on the internet which have us thinking we need to do yoga a certain way. We need to be skinny, flexible, vegan, always calm and positive… But what if we’re not, or don’t want to be?

Is it helpful for us to have these yoga stereotypes?

I’ll tell you a secret. A little while back, I made a list similar to this. It wasn’t very wiggle-friendly. There were a lot of rules and pressures to be a certain way: both as a yoga student and teacher. And I ended up feeling rather run down and stressed. I was stuck in a mask I didn’t feel comfortable in and couldn’t take off!

Since then, I’ve freed up a lot. I feel happier and more myself. And it’s my intention to help you find an approach to yoga you’re happy with and that stops you from getting exhausted.

So, realistically, what do you think you can manage? How yoga do you want to go? Remember, there’s no set way or need to transform overnight into an all-bendy, radiant and enlightened being! Or ever.

You might like to try a few simple stretches once or twice a week at home before attending a group class. Or perhaps you just want to be more aware of your breathing or improve your posture. Whatever it is, make it yours. Put your own personal yoga jigsaw together.

And maybe you’ll never want to chant Om’s or go on a yoga retreat or drink a green smoothie. And who said you need to anyway?

I’d love to know how you get on. Do you have a list? Or an idea of what kind of yoga student you want to be? Leave a comment below and let us know.