Adventure, Self-esteem, Uncategorized, Wellbeing

I am Fearless

Today I feel fearless. I saw this photo below of me surfing in Indonesia in 2010. I got a helping push onto the wave but I said ‘yes’ to it, paddled for it, saw the mound coming towards me and I went for it. Over the years my fear of taking bigger waves on my own has just grown and grown rendering me unable to just ‘go’. My mind has built up a block that feels impossible to push beyond.
surf
Today I had a conversation about regretting giving up gymnastics as a child. I left because I felt inferior, not good enough and jealous of those around me who performed better in the competitions. Back flips, handstands and the splits became distant memories of the past.

Today I practiced handstands in the park. I lent that little bit further over my shoulders and I felt more air time than ever before. That little fear point lingering close! But I’m not fearful of falling backwards. Maybe it’s the fear of actually holding it, of being suspended in air for a moment with one way or the other to go.

Today I went to calisthenics and instead of thinking ‘I can’t’ I thought ‘I can’. I can do this. If I can’t quite get there I will damn well try. I will try and just see what happens. Because I am here and I am strong and I am fearless.

Today I spent time with my partner and enjoyed every moment of it. We drank tea and ate cake and kissed and connected. I used to feel fear, fear of the ‘what if’ and the questioning myself, him and us. Then I realised that I didn’t have to feel this way. Over years I had become conditioned to ignore my feelings and push them away. Now I know I have a choice to embrace this man and everything we have. That we are a partnership and it’s ok to be vulnerable together. That we learn from each other. That nothing is perfect. That relationships ebb and flow. But that we have love and each other and the space to grow together.

I’ve allowed myself to feel inadequate, never quite good enough. Any success always lined with a thin layer or anxiety. Sometimes feeling like my own worst enemy and critic. In jobs where I looked to others to hold responsibility. To think I couldn’t do something. It’s incredibly exhausting and demoralising. The constant loop of challenge, lack of attempt, feelings of failure wore me down. I’ve always noticed improvements in others before recognising my own.

These fears don’t disappear over night. But jeez Alice you can do it. You are more than capable. You are fearless. Small steps, however minute are so much more motivating than taking the ‘safe’, comfortable option. Appreciate how far you have come, and inch by inch just try, you will never know how it feels otherwise.

So thank you for today. Right now I feel fearless.

 

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Love, Uncategorized, Wellbeing, Yoga

Exhale 2015 – A Tale of Community

As the sun shone on our faces and kissed our shoulders we settled in to begin welcoming the yogis and yoginis to Exhale 2015.  Wristbands on, schedule in hand the guests were ready to take on the weekend that was.

The festival opened with a grounding class from co-founder Carl who brought everyone together in a strong dynamic vinyasa practice.  Friday afternoon was then a plethora of yoga to suit all tastes from high energy partner work in acro to chilled restorative via the soft tones of Roberto.  No good festival would be complete without a campfire and the man to take on the melodies was Michael, a musical maestro who lulled us all with his joyful tunes.  As the party came alive we danced, shaked, hugged and grooved to Charlie Dark and Warrior One late into the night.

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Photo – Ana Cuba

Left feeling a little creaky after a night’s sleep in a tent?  Well it’s no problem at a yoga festival because after one session of yoga or a massage and you’re ready to roll again (quite literally in some cases!).  Carl helped us to open the wings of our hearts in a fun and uplifting practice, including a partner plank off and working with trust in balancing postures.

After refuelling on Pip & Nut nut butters, sourdough bread and an array of delicious cereals the troops were ready to bring on Saturday.  For those seeking the sweat-life there was Hot Pod yoga set inside a barn and Run Dem Crew’s version of a trail run around our neighbouring campsites.  The families received an unexpected sight as 20 lycra clad runners bounced past them!

With Friday’s theme of ‘togetherness’ running through the festival air, Saturday sought to strengthen the bonds being made between old friends and new.  The main barn was packed to receive a multi-teacher led class from the Boys of Yoga.  Whilst Chloe Brotheridge worked to hypnotise a room full of 50 people open to exploring new ways of thinking.

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Photo – Ana Cuba

The inquisitively titled “What the f**k is yoga” proved to be a beautifully bonding session on bhakti yoga; yoga of devotion and the heart.  A lot of happy, smiling yogis came out of the two hour workshop with Jim.

As light turned to dark the steady buzz that had been growing throughout the day erupted into a dazzling array of day-glow neon!  Yes that’s right, Black & Light yoga.  Part yoga, part rave this class had the barn shaking and the tunes pumping.  It was quite the spectacle for those partial to a bit of neon!  The rave set the scene for the rest of the night as Warrior One took to the decks.  Yoga, like life, is all about balance.  And rightfully so there was a well-stocked bar serving up craft beers and wine.  For those looking for a headache free wake-up there was the most incredible café, aptly named Inhale with probably the best range of Pukka teas a tea lover could ask for.

Early birds were treated to a festival version of the ever popular Morning Gloryville on Sunday.  Those of us still chilling in the campsite could feel the pulsation of a heavy bassline and watch in delight as people danced in and out of the barn creating a colour haze to the morning.

Still riding high on the energy from Friday and Saturday the camp were treated to a chilled Sunday of, of course more yoga, a ‘tug of love’ and a ‘switched on’ session with Nick Jankel, inviting us to explore the head, heart and mind.

Keeping in the tone of unity and comradery we snuggled up into the main barn as night fell, ready for the gong bath.  If you ever had the pleasure of singing mantras with 65 other people you will know what it’s like to have goosebumps all over and feel the reverberations resounding in your chest.  To round off what was truly an epic weekend the whole festival were treated to live traditional Indian music.  People cuddled and hot chocolate was consumed as eyes and ears were fixated on the two musicians.

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Photo – Ana Cuba 

We were lucky enough to witness a full moon on Saturday which illuminated the whole site.  It’s positive energy could be felt throughout as it shone down on us.

As Monday rolled in there were hugs all round as people made their way home.  Eyes shined a little brighter than before, hearts felt fuller and smiles were aplenty.  Building a sense of community in a festival is no easy task, yet Exhale held the space and those within it so well, it’s certainly something special to remember.

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Photo – Ana Cuba

If this little tale of Exhale 2015 tickled your fancy then guess what? Exhale 2016 isn’t far off! To check out the line up and nab yourself an early bird ticket head to www.exhalefestival.com. I will see you there!

 

 

 

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Uncategorized, Wellbeing, Yoga

Yoga Practice

Practicing yoga this morning. Slow, steady, considered movements. Sunshine streaming into the studio. In moments of upside down I can fully appreciate the warmth and light of the sun. Movements creating space in my body and length in my sides. Full appreciation for the bolster provided to take a restorative twist. Let go, even if just a fraction, let go, stop holding, succumb.

This is the physical practice but it transcends the mat. I feel happy, longer and more grounded.

Yoga.

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Astavakrasana
Love, Wellbeing, Yoga

Balance

As with Astavakrasana (8 limbed angle pose) my life at the moment is increasingly about balance.  Too little throttle and things don’t move forward, too much boldness and things are rushed and can fall apart.  To appreciate the good I need to have the harder times too.  A stressful moment is soon forgotten with a bike ride and the sun beating down on my skin.  I’ve been thinking about balance a lot recently.  Sometimes in the literal sense, like in yoga class when I’m trying one-legged Bakasana or attempting Pincha Mayurasana.  If I never give these postures a go then how do I expect to improve?  Yet it I over do them then it’s a face plant territory.

So much of this sentiment can be applied to life.  I can sometimes throw myself into things so forcefully that I lose touch of other parts of myself.  Practising yoga has become ingrained in my day-to-day, I crave it and I love it.  But I also need to listen to my body and pay attention when it’s tired, again not overdoing things and ignoring aches and pains.  The same can be said for spending time with loved ones.  The past two months have been incredible, deciding to do the YTT was the best decision I ever made.  Whilst absorbing all this information and learning I sometimes have to remind myself to take things slowly and graciously.  And spend time with those who I love, catch up with them, share with them and be grateful for laughter shared, hugs given and kisses on cheeks.

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Body Image, Health, Self-esteem, Wellbeing

What is right for YOUR body?

In the past week my social feeds have been awash with this brilliant response from two bloggers towards the PW advert.  I wholeheartedly appreciated their message of actually “my body is already bikini ready (see image)”.  Yep, any body is bikini ready because you know what, we all have bodies.   The sentiment of the advert is the issue, not the model.  Then I read an article which really made me annoyed.  A brave and brilliant woman, Juliette Burton tweeted to PW about how their advert played on her anxiety of her body image issues.  Their response was nothing short of disgusting and cruel,  the responses came from the CEO and MD.  Wow guys you really know how to empower someone and make them feel good about themselves don’t you?   Two men in a position of power being purposely unkind.  Funnily enough the cowards deleted their tweets, shame for you that snipping tools exist chaps!

Anyway it got me thinking, and it got me juiced up to write this blog post.  As a body confidence campaigner and someone who has struggled with body image issues I just think we need to stop shaming and start appreciating what is right for OUR body.  Because frankly who knows your body better than you?  I just finished a circuits class and i’m so glad that I feel fit and strong.  My friend Laura took this image of me before yoga and one of the first things I saw was the roll on my tummy.

Bloody happy right now

Bloody happy right now

Why?  Because I have been conditioned to believe that I should have no rolls, be perfect.  Um reality check, i’m not perfect.  I have fat, it keeps me warm and it keeps me alive.  I live in this body and I respect it and I don’t care what others say about it.  I just cannot fathom saying cruel things to people about their bodies, what do they get out of it?  Does it help people sleep better at night knowing they’ve made someone feel crappy.  I sure hope not!  So mean people keep your thoughts to yourselves?   Instead of saying mean things why don’t you use that energy for something useful and donate to help those affected by the earthquake in Nepal?

 

 

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Wellbeing, Yoga

Building Strength


With each class I take at Stretch I feel more awareness coming into my practice.  Even after only seven classes my body feels stronger and my mind more focused.  With each deep lunge I feel my hips opening and better engagement of my breath to the asanas.

Stretch has wonderful teachers and just my kind of vibes.  We are giving cues for our alignment and guided through each pose.  The scent of lemongrass fills the room, softly lit by candles and a soundtrack that includes Bonobo and Banks – heaven.

I love feeling this strength in my body, I love feeling the focus and I love that one hour on the mat improves my outlook for the day.

Namaste.

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Wellbeing, Yoga

And So it Evolves

For the past year I’ve been thinking about starting Yoga Teacher Training.  Finally I’ve stopped the deliberating and started the doing by booking my course with Stretch & Frog Lotus Yoga International.  Next month I fly to Spain to begin my YTT followed by intensive weekends in London.  I cannot wait.

For me this isn’t just about becoming a qualified teacher it’s about deepening my understanding of yoga as a whole.  Yoga has so many facets, of which I have only just started to understand.  I will be learning the practice of flow yoga.  I’ve chosen this style because I enjoy the pace and the awareness it brings to my body.  Vinyasa flow can be incredibly challenging but in the same sense so incredibly rewarding.  The physical asanas (postures) are so varied, I’ve found myself in positions I never thought I could do.  Also the power I feel during a class is something I want to share with others.  My body is constantly changing, the daily grind gives me aches.  Yet yoga gives me the time to reconnect with myself and open up tired joints and still my whirring mind.

I actually found Stretch through the wonders of Instagram.  I’m a geek and it excites me how this powerful social media tool can bring worlds together.  I knew I wanted to do YTT but when I saw the guys at Stretch I had a good feeling about them.  After putting in the enquiry a few weeks ago I’ve had this weird nervous/excited energy about me.  I hadn’t been sleeping properly (yep dreaming of yoga) and now it’s booked my mind has settled again.  I’m currently teaching myself the Sanskrit names for postures, it feels exciting and a little daunting all at once, there is so much to learn.  YTT isn’t just learning then off you go, there is so much more to truly understand.

So I guess this is the beginning of my YTT journey, a leap into something that hopefully will enrich my life so much.  For the moment it’s time to study and kiss my mat as much as possible in the lead up to Spain and the beginning of a beautiful adventure.

Namaste

Building Strength

Building Strength

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