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.

Am I too unfit for yoga?

by Rosanna on March 5, 2014, no comments

As a Yoga Teacher, one of the most common reasons I hear why people can’t do yoga is because they’re too unfit (also too fat, inflexible and male).

A fear of being seen, judged or not accepted stops you from making it to class.

Whilst yoga can help improve fitness, flexibility and… well no it won’t make you a female! There are more reasons to come: to relax, de-stress, help reduce pain and build self-compassion and love, which you cannot experience if you don’t give it a go.

There’s nothing you need to do to prepare for a yoga class, except get your doctor’s permission and be willing. No designer outfits to buy, treadmills to hit or weight to lose. It’s OK that you can’t touch your toes.

Come as you are! That’s great. Allow yourself the chance and space to really see this.

Simplify your Yoga Practice in 2014

by Rosanna on December 29, 2013, no comments

In 2013, I stopped blogging. For a few reasons. One being: that I had overcomplicated it.

I met with a friend recently who’s a regular blogger. He writes well, in an engaging and authentic way. I asked him how long he spent on each one. “Around an hour” he told me. Smiling and relaxed. I was impressed.    

And then in my current job, I noticed the company website had short, simple blogs. Several per day! I liked reading them. They were easy to digest. And I realised I didn’t want or need to spend hours writing each one, perfecting and stressing. I could free up a little, and write in a simpler way. 

A weight had been lifted!

My aim is to still channel my creative energy and ideas into writing, to help people to feel good through yoga. Just, I’ll do it in a less time-consuming, more energy-gaining way.

So, now I want to turn it around – how can you simplify your approach to Yoga?

Are your current expectations too high for your time on the mat? Is your regular group class that little bit too long? Do you have an unhelpful, preconceived idea of what a Yogi should be?

Simplify, simplify. Whilst it’s understandable that you want a lot from yourself and your practice. Overcomplicating Yoga could be the very thing holding you back from reaping the benefits.

I challenge you in 2014, to start practising Yoga, in a way that suits you. Simple enough to fit in with your life as it is. Enjoyable enough that you’ll want to do it!

Whether that’s a few rounds of Sun Salutations to kickstart the week. Following a basic Yoga DVD in the comfort of your home. Or perhaps trying out that half hour lunch-time class at work.

It doesn’t need to be perfect. It doesn’t need to overwhelm you.

Enjoy a simplified practice, and let us know how you get on 🙂

 

 

Confessions of a Lion Yoga Teacher

by Rosanna on May 6, 2012, no comments

 Stand tall, get real

Inspired by fellow Cambridge based Yoga Teacher Rachel Hawes (Fusion – Massage and Movement)’s post: Confessions of a Yoga Blogger.

I eat meat.

I can’t do the splits.

I hide my eyes during gruesome scenes on TV.

I swear a lot.

My favourite part of sixth form was going to the local pub on a Friday night, drinking and dancing on the tables.

I’m very impatient.

I love Made in Chelsea. My unguilty pleasure.

I practise yoga to kiss radio.

I’ve been able to do the Wheel and Lotus poses all my life. Not just “over yoga years”.

I don’t know many fiction authors.

I’m afraid of dying.

What a relief

Ah, that feels good. Being honest. And sharing openly.

When you have nothing to hide, you can relax in your own skin. No stress or struggle to be someone you’re not.

Too often we cover ourselves up and deny that certain parts of us exist. Afraid of how the “real us” will be perceived. ‘Too rebellious, too out there, too big for our boots…’ And in doing so, we lose our strength and confidence.

But, there’s nothing wrong with doing things differently. Setting a unique standard. Skipping to an individual beat. The world needs more people owning their power and truth.

Stand tall, get real 

Know that you don’t need to act in any particular way to fit in. It’s OK to be you, in all your richness and essence. Catch yourself in times when you tell a white lie, pretend to know something you don’t or act in a way that doesn’t sit right for you. And if it’s because you’re afraid to just be you, challenge yourself to step up, in true authenticity.

Covering up who you are can lead to feelings of deep insecurity and depression. Because you lose yourself, and block your flow. And things come apart from their natural rhythm.

It’s important that you own yourself. All of you. To save yourself from feeling lost, and down. The good, the bad and the ugly must come out!

Share your wonderful Self 

Let your truth flow into everything you do; your words, your interactions, your work. Don’t allow fear or embarrassment to hold you back. It’d be a shame for you, as well as the rest of the world.

Tap into your fierce

And begin to tap into your strength. Live in your power, with honesty and a sense of openness. If you do this, then depression will find it hard to manifest itself. No false or fearful place to sink itself into.

Get confessing 

So, it’s your turn. Write some Confessions. Things you’ve been holding back, or pretending don’t exist for you. And share them with us, your friends, the world. You don’t need to be anyone but who you are. Know this. Live it. And your mood will improve as you get more comfy with it.

I’d love to hear how you get on. Leave a comment below sharing your experiences and Confessions. What fears come up as you write your list? What’s it like being more honest and open? What affect does this have on your mood and well-being? How do people react to the truthful you? 

Need some help owning your power?

If you’re struggling to tap into your strength and feeling underconfident, then reach out. I’d love to help you access your power, and feel more Lion like. Check out my Mouse to Lion programme here: http://www.rosannagordon.com/services/one-to-one/ It’d be awesome to share the exciting journey together.

Too Fat for Yoga?

by Rosanna on April 18, 2012, no comments

Tiina Veer, Founder of Yoga for Round Bodies

Too often, when I tell people I teach yoga, I receive responses like this:

“Ah, I’d love to do yoga, but I’m not very flexible.” “I’ll have to hit the gym for a good few months before coming to class. I’m not in great shape.” “I wish I’d practised when I was younger, but I’m too old now.”

And when I hear these things, it breaks my heart. It breaks my heart because I know that yoga is for anybody. And it’s a shame to see so many people miss out on receiving the benefits.

So, what’s going on?

There are a lot of preconceptions floating around about ‘what yoga is’, and ‘who can do it’. You see images in the media of svelte and toned women in their 20’s and 30’s hitting the mat, all smiles and no sweat.  And from there, you come to think that you’re not flexible, young, slim, fit, (fill in the gap)… basically “good” enough to practise.

All kinds of fears and insecurities can surface when considering going to a class. You want to feel good, strong and fit. But what if you’re judged on your appearance by your teacher? What if everyone else in the room can touch their toes and you can’t? What if everybody is just better than you!?

The underlying point – you don’t want to be embarrassed or look silly.

So much so, that you don’t go. You stay at home, feeling just as you did before. Sadly compromising any benefits you could gain.

“But I can’t go!”

It’s perfectly normal to feel like this. A lot of people do. It can be scary to step out into an unknown place, full of complete strangers, bending and breathing in all kinds of odd ways. But you’re not alone. And what you need to know – is that there is nothing wrong with you. You and your fears are accepted. And you “can” start yoga from this place. Here and now. No matter your age, gender, body size, level of flexibility… or how much of a mess you think you are.

Hear this loud and clear – you are good enough! Just as you are. 

But to help this sink in (it won’t happen over night), it’s important you find a class that suits you. A teacher that believes in you and your strength. A space in which you feel welcome and cared for.

Tiina Veer is a great example of a Yoga Teacher who makes her students feel safe and welcome. She is the Founder of Yoga for Round Bodies, living in Toronto, Ontario, and similarly to myself wants people to know that yoga is for everybody. She says:

“I too am motivated to get the word out to all people who “think” they can’t do yoga. They just need to find the right teacher! Yoga is for anybody.”

Inspired by her own experience living and practising yoga in a round body, Tiina shares her passion and knowledge with others. “There’s a growing plus-size movement!” Tiina points out, and for whom she compassionately offers her services. (For more info on Tiina, her classes and training, visit www.tiinaveer.com)

And Tiina is not the only one standing out and offering support for a certain group of people. There are many great teachers out there wanting to share their skills with you to help you feel well and comfortable in your skin, both on and off the mat. Teachers that won’t judge you, or want you to change. But appreciate you as you are, and are willing to support you on your journey.

There really is no need to stay stuck or feeling like your spark has gone out, when there is good help out there. Look for yoga teachers who, like Tiina, work with a specific group of people (plus-sized people) or myself (low moods sufferers). Or any teacher who offers you warmth, compassion and an open heart. And…

Start where you are

Whatever mental, physical or emotional state you’re in. Don’t allow your fears and worries to get the better of you. You are good enough. You are welcome.

Actions to take today

Here are 3 things you can do “right now” to get the ball rolling.

1) Take a look in the mirror, and as hard as it may be, list all the things you like about yourself. Your appearance; body, face, hair, smile. Your personality. Your unique quirks. Your skills… All of you. Remember you’re lovely as you are, here and now.

2) Find a space and sit down comfortably. Close your eyes or soften your gaze and bring your focus onto your breath. As you breathe in, long and slow breaths from the belly, say to yourself “I am good enough.” And as you breathe out “Just as I am.” Repeat as many times as needed to really relax and feel into it.

3) Book, or go along to a yoga class. It can be enough to just email a teacher or put the date in your diary. You can explain any fears or concerns you might have, and see what response you get from them. Consider it a journey that starts today.

Leave a message below sharing your fears and insecurities about going to a yoga class. What’s stopping you from going? How could your teacher help you feel welcome? Remember we all feel them, so don’t be shy or embarrassed. And tell us what actions you are taking today to feel good, starting where you are. 

—– Live in Cambridge, UK? I’d love to have you in one of my Group Yoga classes (for anybody) or help you to lift your mood and tap into your strength with the One-to-One programme (for low moods sufferers). Take a look at the services pages on this site, and know that I don’t mind where you’re at, if you come along with messy hair, some extra weight or even if you’re a smoker! You are perfectly welcome and accepted 🙂

Why Suffering From Depression Can Be Worse On a Snow Day

by Rosanna on February 5, 2012, no comments

“Gorgeous. A snow day! Let’s go have some fun!”

These will be the words and thoughts of a lot of people in Britain today. As curtains are eagerly drawn and doors are flung open, laughter and happiness will spread the streets.

And whilst being a truly magical day for many, with the snow providing great opportunity for family and friends to get-together and have fun sledding and making snow angels, for those suffering from depression, it can bring about a whole other kind of feelings, such as guilt, loneliness and overwhelm. Yes, some sufferers will be able to feel a lift in mood from playing outdoors and being in good company. But, for others, even the thought of leaving the house and putting on their snow clothes will be too much for them.

When you are depressed, you often don’t have the energy or desire to do fun or exciting things. The kinds of things you once enjoyed, or do still enjoy when your mood is balanced. It’s no surprise a snow day like today doesn’t inspire you if you are feeling down. In fact, snow days can actually cause ‘more’ stress and worry to somebody who’s experiencing a low mood, because similarly to other ‘bright occasions’, such as Christmas, New Year’s and birthdays, you’re only forced to see how awful you feel in comparison to the cheeriness of those around you.

So, when the texts come in inviting you out to play and build snowmen and have a big social affair, you feel sick and afraid. You know you don’t want, ‘can’t’ participate, at least not in any genuinely enjoyable way.  You feel guilty for choosing to stay in and be on your own. Angry for being in this sucky mood.

“It’s not fair. Why do I have to feel depressed, when everyone else is out there having fun?” you say.

And back to bed you go, or the fridge, or whatever in that moment makes you feel better. But one thing you know is, you’re not going out there. No matter how thick the snow gets.

When you’re depressed, you often don’t want to see people. You don’t want to do the things people tell you are good for you, because you don’t see the worth. All you want to do is wrap yourself up in the comfort and solitude of your personal space and just be left alone.

It’s not easy suffering from depression. I know this, because I have, and I am today. I’m inside on a snow day, and I feel down. I have cancelled plans with family, things I was looking forward to, because I just need some ‘me time’, peace and comfort.

Why am I depressed? you ask. Aren’t I a yoga teacher, who is positive and uplifting? Don’t I promote health? I like to think so, yes! But, I am also a girl with the ‘seed of depression.’ A normal person, like you, who is genetically pre-disposed to this debilitating illness. And on Friday evening, I went above my alcohol quota. I had three, rather than one or two (which I have learnt is my personal limit) glasses of wine. And, therefore as a consequence I’ve been suffering this weekend. Somewhat to myself, which is something a lot of sufferers will do, until we bring depression further into the light and out of the closet. You see, as someone with the seed of depression, I have to do that bit extra to handle myself, and prevent/escape the bouts. As I’m sure you’ll understand, if you suffer too.

So, why did I drink too much when I know it’s not good for me? Well, we all make mistakes. We mess up, and fall into holes we knew existed. That’s just a part of life. Even us yoga teachers make health mistakes, you know? I guess, one of the reasons I drank a little more than I should was because I wanted to feel normal. I wanted to kick back with my friends and enjoy myself. I wanted for that evening to pretend I didn’t have the seed of depression. I wanted to believe that I wouldn’t be down for the rest of the weekend as a consequence. I wanted to by a normal, fun-time 21st century girl.

But, as always, and has been the case for the past decade, I can’t handle it. I can’t go beyond my limits without paying the price, and this is why I am now, on this gloriously miserable snow day, indoors feeling under the weather.

Why am I writing this? Not waiting until tomorrow and putting my smile back on? Since I know what to do to lift myself up (I’ve been working on healthy life habits for quite some time), why don’t I just do that tomorrow and pretend away today? Well, yes, I could do that. I do like to spread a positive word about health and possibility. I also like to encourage others, as well as myself, to eat lots of healthy food and get exercise and practice yoga. But, I’m not going to do that today. No. Today I won’t talk about my approach to depression, or my feelings about anti-depressants, or green smoothies or the benefits of yoga.

Today, I just want to hold out my hand to you, from a place of true authenticity and heartful empathy and compassion. I know what it’s like to be depressed. Just hang on in there, you’re dong a wonderful job. Don’t worry about not making the best out of the snow day, if that’s not your inclination. Curl up in bed if that’s what you feel like doing. There’s always tomorrow…

And you can feel comfort in knowing, I’m doing the same. I’m indoors too, just being with myself. I’m not trying to change how I feel, or deny that I feel it. No, today is not a fun snow day for me either.

Let’s allow ourselves to be with, and accept wherever we are today. And if you are depressed, that’s OK.

A warm hug from me.

X


When Inspiration Hits, Take Action

by Rosanna on June 6, 2011, no comments

Don’t let the fire burn out before you’ve taken action.

 

Do you ever have an idea so strong, so compelling you just know you have to do something with it?

The kind of idea that fills you with great passion and energy? Stops time and draws you in?

Ideas like these tend to show up when we’re deeply engaged in something, such as an exciting conversation with a friend, an inspiring book, an uplifting film, a walk in nature, yoga, meditation…

We’ll be lost in track, so tuned in to what we’re doing, saying or thinking, when suddenly an idea hits us! – causing an electrical charge in our body, grabbing our attention and insisting that we listen.

I call these inspired ideas.

And I believe they show up for good reason. There’s no coincidence in the timing or the receiver, because they’re coming from the all powerful – Universal Source.

All we need to do is show up and connect to source, by allowing inspiring material, people, events, places and experiences into our lives and we begin to receive more and more inspired ideas. Each one offering us a stepping stone to live our highest expression.

Inspired ideas are the Universe’s way of guiding us towards our true potential.

A great example for me was a couple of years back. I was having dinner with my parents, talking very excitedly about my love for yoga and how passionately I wanted to share it with the world. There I was getting all fired up, when an idea sparked – to write an article for a yoga magazine! It was the perfect means to channel my energy and make a valuable contribution.

At the time I had the idea, I’d never done this before; write for a publication, other than my blog. But I was so determined I knew I had to go for it.

With nothing to lose, everything to gain

I decided to ask for some help. It was my Mum who suggested the idea for the article: Haven’t Got Time. She was a busy, hard-working teacher and felt that a lot of people in her shoes would benefit from reading something on making time for a yoga practice. I thought this was a brilliant idea. I then asked my ever-acting-on-inspired ideas sister Corrina (You Inspire Me) if I could borrow her pitch template. An already established writer herself, she had a strong list of writing credits and the know-how I needed.

And so I was ready to go.

That evening I sat in front of my computer, feeling fire in the belly, as I sent off a pitch to the editor of Yoga Magazine. The email read:

 

September 9th 2009

Dear Dr Malik,

Article Proposal: Haven’t Got The Time!

A young and enthusiastic woman shares her ideas and experiences on how to keep a yoga practice going and drop the excuses.

A fresh and inspiring feature, written by a woman who makes time for yoga. The reader gains motivation to make the time for a steady yoga practice, no matter how busy she is. A burst of energy to compel her to put yoga on the agenda everyday.

Rosanna Gordon is a trainee British Wheel of Yoga teacher. Her blog, Wake Up To Health, can be found at www.wakeuptohealth.co.uk

– Suggested title: Haven’t Got The Time!

– Key concepts: the value of a yoga practice, maintaining momentum, dropping the excuses, common time wasters, taking responsibility for one’s own health, the value of a proactive approach

– approx. 500 words

– 1 photo attached (others available)

Contact details

Rosanna Gordon, rosanna@wakeuptohealth.co.uk

 

Two days later, I received the following email back:

 

Hi Rosanna,

Thanks for your email.

Your idea for an article sounds very good.

However, we could be interested in running 2 or 3 columns on this topic, of around 500-750 words each.

Is this something you would be interested in? In return we could promote your website etc in the magazine.

Let me know your thoughts.

Regards,

Martin Gill, Editorial

YOGA Magazine

 

I couldn’t believe the response! Not only had my idea been approved, but I’d been offered more than I’d imagined. Amazing!

And in that moment I knew how important it was that we make things happen for ourselves, we take our lives in our own hands and cease opportunity, that –

when inspiration hits, we take action.

Because if we don’t – and if we allow our fears, doubts and small thinking to run the show, we’ll deny ourselves – and others our greatest gifts.

Since the series I wrote for Yoga Magazine in 2009, I’ve had five other articles published in leading yoga and health magazines. And I’ll continue to write, for both my love of it and how it serves, via any means I can.

A recent example

Early on in my Yoga Teacher Training Course, I met somebody I shared a similar ambition with. My good friend Katrin Heuser (yoga gestalten) and I both had a vision to run our own yoga businesses. After just a few enthusiastic conversations on the subject, we decided we’d run a yoga workshop together.

No clear plans were made initially. We relied simply on an inspired idea and exciting vision. But we both knew we’d carry it through. And I’m now so happy to say that we’ve been running a very popular and successful series of seasonal yoga days since the new year, helping others to tap into source and happiness! Our upcoming Summer Yoga Day takes place in London this July.

I’d love to hear from you.

Please do share what inspired ideas have shown up in your life? by leaving a comment below. Let us know how you react to the fire in the belly? What it feels like for you when you’re filled with creative energy? And perhaps, for one reason or another, why you haven’t followed an idea through?

Leave a comment below letting us know.

 

– ***Still time to grab the Early bird offer – £40 for Summer Yoga Day! Want to join us? Book your place here.

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© Rosanna Gordon, 2011


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Yoga and Diet

by Rosanna on May 5, 2011, 2 comments

How do yoga and food influence one another?


We often hear yoga and food discussed in the same topic of conversation. We see images of svelte bodied yogis, grinning blissfully whilst eating healthy food, and we hear that to be a true yoga practitioner, you had ought to give vegetarianism a go. But what exactly is the relationship between the two? Why do yoga and healthy food, or ‘food awareness’, go hand in hand?

I’ve asked three fellow yoga teachers/enthusiasts to share a bit about their diets, how it suits them and their yoga practice…

 

About 80% of my diet is made up of delicious, sexy and energising raw food. The remainder is yummy vegan food that has been heated over 40 C. I LOVE this way of eating as it really does make me feel amazing, and is very supportive of my exercise and yoga routines. Since eating more raw food, I have become more flexible, which, obviously, is great for asanas. I also have more energy which motivates me to exercise and practice yoga regularly. Raw food gives me a wonderful clear mind; this helps me make better decisions in all areas of my life, and also supports meditation.

I really love food. I really love feeling great. I really love using my body and mind. Finding a way of eating that doesn’t feel a chore, but instead opens a door to a world of delicious dishes that boost my energy and supports my aim to love life, yet feel fantastic at the same time, is a true gift! When you feel amazing, you just want more! Raw food + yoga = true love forever!

Miss Best, Raw Energy Coach for Busy Professional Women www.miss-best.com

 

When I first found myself upon a yoga mat, I knew instinctively that I had found something that I had been seeking for a long time; mentally, physically and spiritually it felt like a homecoming but I could not have predicted just how transformational my practice would be. I had never been very good at looking after myself and my diet when I began my yoga journey was pretty appalling; an anorexic teenager, I still had the tendency to under-eat and, being busy and single, I seldom took the time to cook myself a ‘proper’ meal. I also smoked heavily and drank huge amounts of heavily caffeinated ‘diet’ drinks. Thankfully, this lack of self-love was completely incompatible with an increasingly committed asana and meditation practice – yoga revealed itself to be so much about compassion ( for me, for others, for the world ) that it was impossible to continue treating my body with such distain – the unkind habits fell away and a hunger for good fuel grew. Now, more than a decade later, I take great delight in preparing fresh – often raw – foods and try to nurture my body with love and gratitude. The better I eat, the better I feel!

Janet Lockwood, Cambridge based Yoga Teacher.


Prana, Qi, Chi, Ki – all are terms meaning vital life force energy.  We all know we are made of Qi and in order to function at our optimal level we need vitality.  Our body harnesses Qi via certain movements (such as QiYoga®) as well as sleep, meditation and diet.

Our diets need to be nutritious (meaning ‘nutrient rich’) and to fuel the body with what it needs by eating with the seasons.

To be nutrient rich, I make sure my food is as whole, fresh and organic whenever possible.  I avoid all processed food (except chocolate – I am a passionate chocoholic).  I try to eat my food within 20 mins of cutting it, to maintain maximum nutrients.  Also, I try to eat at least 15 portions of whole food per day: a handful of nuts = 1 portion, a piece of fruit or vegetable is another.

Avoiding “whites” is an important key to maximizing my vitality – no pasta, things made with white flour, white rice, white sugar, milk etc whenever possible.

Eating with the season is something I educate all my teacher trainers about.  When it is a hot dry day (ie Yang) then eat cool moist foods that are yin (such as cucumber etc).  On cold and damp (Yin) days I eat warm spicy foods, therefore balancing my body with a yang  internal environment when my body is experiencing a Yin external environment.

Fiona Kaczmarczyk, QiYoga® Founder www.QiYoga.org

 

And as for me…

Currently you can find me eating all sorts; meat, fish, dairy, bread, fruits and vegetables… even chocolate! I’m at an ‘eat what I fancy’ stage of life, and it feels good. I like a mix of discipline and freedom. Perhaps saying I won’t have any sugar today, but on Friday I’ll treat myself to a delicious patisserie! – and really enjoying it, guilt free 🙂

And as for tomorrow? Who knows. Maybe I’ll be a vegan, a vegetarian or a Frenchie again? Or something entirely new and inventive. You see, for me, one of the joys of life is flowing with change, being able to reinvent myself and shake things up whenever suits – my diet included.

The truth is that in allowing myself the space and openness to eat what I fancy, I seem to quite naturally create the balance of everything I need: strength and lightness, vitality and grounding, nutrition and pleasure. In throwing out ‘too many rules’, but still keeping some discipline, I can listen to what my body, mind and soul truly need.

Since starting yoga, I can definitely say that I’ve gained greater awareness towards the foods I choose to eat and how different kinds of foods make me feel. I value the quality of food and I notice more when I’m full, meaning I tend not to overeat.  I know how good it feels to eat lots of healthy food: fruits, vegetables, wholegrains, salads… and the positive effect it has on me – especially after hitting the mat.

 

I think many of us are on a ‘food journey’, exploring different avenues and seeing what ‘fits’. We want to feel good, look good and have lasting energy – and we’re more and more making the connection between practices, such as yoga and good diet, and both our physical and mental well-being.

Where are you on your food journey?

I’d love to hear a bit about your diet! What foods/recipes make you feel good, open up and provide you with good energy levels, and how your approach to eating has been influenced by yoga? Let us know by leaving a comment below, and happy munching!

 

 


Yoga is…

by Rosanna on April 14, 2011, one comment

What is yoga?

A selection of quotes from various top yoga teachers and students. What ‘yoga is’ to them, offering you a little inspiration. Enjoy!

 

Yoga is…

 

finding inner peace and harmony through discipline and freedom.

– Catie Gordon, discovered yoga aged 14

being able to listen, to pay attention, to your body, to your breath, to other people.

– Michael Hutchinson www.twobirdsyoga.com

a series of exercises that will reveal to you your highest and greatest self.

– Dina Prioste www.getexercised.com

pressing pause on a busy life and making space to breathe in new energy.

– Beck Collins, PhD student

time for me to be totally with myself, my body, my breath. Stretching into new territory, finding my edges, exploring what’s next. Ahhhhh.

– Corrina Gordon-Barnes www.youinspireme.co.uk

the future, now. As the new world questions the relevance of old religions, yoga comes forward as an ancient spiritual art form, from the eternal offerings of India. Its humble task is to define the non-sectarian way forward for each individual to find Truth, Love and God in the sanctuary of the their own blossoming soul!

– Neil Patel, Director of Chi Kri Yoga and Hip Hop Yoga in the UK www.chikri.com

the place where I come to reconnect with source energy. When I don’t have the “space” to meditate, I get on the mat and start the simple breath in and out. It never fails to bring me back to myself and the greater possibilities in life.

– Denise Duffield-Thomas, Life Coach and Motivational Speaker

www.deniseduffieldthomas.com

clarity in action.

– Lesley Isaacson www.yogajourney.org.uk


my best friend–it supports me throughout my day and constantly reminds me to be happy and thankful for all that I have. And, how amazing it is to be alive, to breathe, to move, to live, to love, to laugh and to learn. I can’t imagine my life without yoga!

– Kristin McGee www.kristinmcgee.com

a way to create space inside me: inside my body so that it can relax and take a lovely deep breath; inside my mind to stop her fretting and inside my heart so that it can be filled with love and hope.

– Blanka Priddle www.gracefullyraw.com

an oasis of calm amid the desert of chaos, a place where I can be me and a big fat sprinkling of fairy dust in an otherwise ordinary day!

– Rachel Hawes, Cambridge based yoga teacher and massage therapist www.exploringyoga.co.uk

peace of mind.

– Suzanne Thompson, Founder Director & Principal Teacher of Fontmell Magna Yoga Sanctuary & Retreat, Dorset www.magnayoga.co.uk

connecting my mind, body and spirit.

– Andre Daley www.whollyyoga.com

the simple wisdom of life.

– Katrin Heuser www.yoga-gestalten.co.uk

 

In my experience, the Physical Yoga Practice is a simple system to Get out of My Head and into My Breath. This sneaks me into what I call a State of Yoga, or Complete Presence.

– Michael Gannon, Yoga Dealer www.michaelgannonyoga.com


Be the goal, the union, the love of all loves.

– David Sye www.yogabeats.com

 

Woah, pretty cool huh? Yoga really can mean so many different things, depending on who is experiencing it. Our life’s circumstances, our influences and where we are at on our personal journey can all affect our perception of and our connection to this fabulous ancient practice.

What is yoga to you?

For me, at this time in my life, yoga is…

my inner child reminding me who I am.

This just seems to resonate with me the most, as I find myself in a place where I’m exploring my playful side, embracing my whole self and reflecting on my younger days. I feel called up to take things less seriously, let go more and really have fun with life.

I’d love to hear what yoga is… to you! Take a minute or two to close your eyes and see what comes up. No push or shove, just allow it to flow from source. Perhaps it’ll come to you later, during your next time on the mat or out on a walk in nature. And please do share by leaving your Yoga is… quote as a comment below.


Bipolar, My Teacher

by Rosanna on April 8, 2011, 7 comments

Bipolar, My Teacher

 

My dad has bipolar.

Since he was my age (25), he’s had extreme fluctuations between being high or ‘manic’ and being low or severely depressed. He now takes Lithium, a mood stabilizing drug, which works to balance these moods.

As his daughter, and since bipolar can have hereditary implications, I’ve also been affected by the illness.

Do I have bipolar? I don’t believe so, no. What I think I have is the tendency towards it and its extreme moods.

Growing up, I saw my dad suffer his highs and lows. I saw the terrible sadness it brought him as well as the impact it had on my family. I used to swallow back tears at my dad’s bedside during his hospital stays, too scared to feel my emotions. I remember me and my siblings writing lists of all the things my dad was good at, which were stuck up in the dining room for him to look at whenever he felt low. I wanted to make him happy.

Even though I buried it, I was afraid that I too had the illness. I’d close myself off in my room, working on strategies and making endless lists and plans to help keep myself in balance, whilst pretending to the world (and myself) that I didn’t have it at all. No, my depression was different. And bipolar didn’t exist.

As a teenager, I used to dart from one extreme to the other. A friend recently admitted to me: “Yes you did act very bipolar Rosanna. You were manic Friday to Saturday, terribly depressed Sunday to Tuesday and then making your way back up the rest of the week, ready to repeat the cycle.” I was trapped in a whirlwind of extreme behaviour, not sure who I was or what I was doing.

I repeated this pattern for the first part of university too, reveling in the highs and hating the world in the lows. I used to sit on my bed, after a night of ‘the rush’ in my awful depression and not understand how other people could function so well, get their uni work done and not have to battle with themselves. I knew I was experiencing more than a bad hangover.

Holidays were my recovery time. I’d retreat home and shut myself off from the rest of the world on the desperate quest to bring balance back in. In my weakness, I’d depend on my Mum and sister to help my through the mental shit I was suffering, whilst trying to take care of my physical world. I’d go sober, only eat nourishing and healthy food and exercise my ass off. I’d be in bed by 9pm and make sure all things were calm and peaceful around me.

And whilst my strategies worked well and I did rejuvenate myself, the battle came once I stepped out of my safe cocoon and reengaged back in the world. I knew it was my choosing but yet I didn’t have the courage to break away from my limiting patterns of behaviour. I’d tell no-one what I was going through and just give off the impression that I was fine, just like them and up for a laugh, alcohol included.

It wasn’t until I was 20 that I stepped free. I was living in Paris on a placement, away from the influences. Nobody knew me, so it was a lot easier. I made the conscious decision to reinvent myself. I became a Frenchie, quit alcohol and hit the gym. A few of my friends found it hard to accept the change in me. And not really surprisingly since I’d always isolated myself during my depressive bouts and only my Mum and sister had ever really experienced that version of me. “Why the sudden fascination with sober and healthy living?” It made no sense.

But I knew I’d come to a pivotal time in my life. I was on a crossroad.  I could continue to drift further away from my centre or step off the rollercoaster. I often wonder what my life would be if I’d chosen to water the other seed. I know it wouldn’t be pretty and I’d be in a lot of pain. No, that was never going to be my story.

So, I walked a new path. Welcoming in new friends and experiences. I tried on new behaviors and shifted old beliefs. Two steps forward sometimes, and one step back. I allowed my higher self, the one who knew what was really good for me, to scoop me up in its arms.

I started to look true happiness in its face, by doing things which had lasting benefits. I enjoyed balance, rather than rockiness, positivity rather than sarcasm. And on my return to university in fourth year, I fell in love with yoga.

What yoga has brought to my life, I cannot stress enough. All the things that I had craved over the years, I was finally experiencing: the freedom, balance, stability, peace, strength happiness, clarity, authenticity… I could get on with work, undertake projects and hang out with my friends without mental distraction or irritability. Sure I’d taken up exercise before in a big way before, but this was different.

I tapped into my strength and let my higher self in.

And I’d receive comments like “You’re so calm, peaceful and balanced Rosanna” “Have you always been happy” “You were probably a ballerina as a child to be so flexible.”

People often see me as a born peaceful, balanced and positive gal. And for a while, I’d happily go along with this, not wanting to expose my other side. I’d continue to retreat away if ever depression or any kind of imbalance would show up and only let people see the ‘on top’ me. It’s only recently that I’m coming to accept all that I am, my tendency towards bipolar included.

Life is a journey of self-discovery. We find our way through, and it’s not always easy. I know that I’m heading strong and also that I don’t want to tip the boat. Some days I get the urge to live a bit off centre, go wild! And I curse the Universe that I have to try to be balanced. “Life’s not fair!” I’ll cry. But the reason I keep my hat on is because I know strongly what my life purpose is. I’m here to teach yoga and help others find the peace and balance that I know is possible.

So I thank you bipolar for being my teacher, for the gifts that you’ve given me. For without the dark, I would not know the light.