Uncategorized, Yoga

Being Present

To be present. What does it actually mean? I am trying to figure my way through it at the moment. Should I have to try to be more ‘present’? I think so, sometimes. When I arrive on my mat I sit still and breathe, I am present. When I start to move the mind often wanders into a narrative of “oh that’s tight still” or “will I balance this time”. Often I am making judgments on myself or layering on a few expectations.

What I love about this practice is how much it teaches me. I learn humility, patience (sometimes), aprigraha (non grasping) and that I need to just sit in my stuff. I don’t actually have to run away from it, rather accept it and lessen the grip of judgments on myself. In class this morning Calli said ‘just feel’ and I felt something let go inside. I moved away from the judgments to just being there, feeling my way into whatever I was doing.

I notice the lack of being in the moment off the mat even more so. Walking out of class earlier I’m straight away on my phone checking Instagram, the sun shines down on me, I hear my boyfriend’s voice “be more present Alice” and put the phone away. I need to remind myself regularly to stop multi-tasking. To commit my attention to the task in hand. That’s one of the things I love about teaching. I am fully absorbed in the moment, nothing else enters my consciousness apart from what is happening in front of me, the students moving & breathing together.

So I’m making a commitment to myself to ‘just be’ a little more. Starting with bringing more meditation into my practice. The physical asanas are one small part of the wonder that is yoga. I feel the time is right more than ever for me to explore the others limbs of this amazing path. The time is now.

Standard
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.

ana010915000002_000026

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.

ana010915000001_000008

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.

ana010915000002_000009

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.

000000020006_2

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!

 

 

 

Standard
Adventure, Love, Poetry, Yoga

Increasing Observations

There can be so much focus that the bigger mass of who we are is temporarily lost. Sometimes my eyes are down and fixed and I unwillingly ignore the magic around me.

Be open and switch off to tune in. Be open to new things and follow your passions because otherwise what are we doing?

Do your work with love and offer gratitude for the pleasant in equal measure for the things that challenge us.

I wrote this musing yesterday after my second day of prenatal yoga teacher training. There was a moment of deep realisation today during day three. We were given a task in groups of three to be the talker, listener and observer. With each person taking it in turns to be one of the three. The topic was ‘yoga mother’. In between each person talking we sat for an equal amount of time to absorb. 35 women sitting in silence. Except it wasn’t silent because the hum of vibrations was all around us. The peacefulness, the understanding and appreciation was almost tangible.

We had to pick which postion we felt most comfortable with and which least comfortable. I loved listening. I found the position of observer difficult. Then that magic moment, CLICK. I turned the pages and there was the musing above. I NEED to observe more. Maybe in the sense of my yoga classes; getting off the mat, demoing less, looking more. Or perhaps observing more prenatal classes. Or maybe it’s just being more present in each moment. Putting the phone down. Looking up because there is so much beauty to see.

Life has changed so so much in the past year, especially in the past five months. Times have been hugely rewarding and challenging. Ultimately I have grown more than ever before. I have been consciously making an effort to appreciate everything. From the hot shower in the morning to the mattress bought for me. I am so lucky to have my support network, food in my belly and money in my bank account. I offer up gratitude for the smallest of things and I feel so much happier for it. Never take for granted the small things yet always look to the bigger landscape.

Standard
Uncategorized, Yoga

Absorbed.

Magic moments where the body is fizzing, buzzing, alive and flowing.

The room moves as one. I am lost between being absorbed in the united flow and absorbed in my own body.

This tingling feel of euphoria, sensation and aliveness. This is real. This is movement. This is space. This is yoga.

Standard
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.

Standard
Love, Poetry, Yoga

Sublime Moments 

Diary entry – dated 28th March 2015.  The day I left Suryalila and a week into my YTT training.  Sat on a bench outside the airport in Seville.

“Just know that in this moment everything is sublime.  I sit alone, perfectly alone in my own company.  I sit on green grass, sun beating on me, music through my headphones.  Appreciative of everything I have right now.

The two feet I stand on, the New Balance I bought, jeans that cost £9, an old tank top and my Senheisers.  The fact that all I need right in this moment is here. Everything I need is here.  

I’m about to fly to Barcelona, the trip continues.  I’ve just been paid the most money I’ve ever been paid in one month.  All the fruits of my labour are beginning to pay off.

From within the gentle appreaciation of all brings great pleasure in the smallest of actions.  Be grateful for what we have, for it is so rich and wonderful.  The grass, the light, the shadows and the trees.  The flows my heart wants to make.  Energy follows thought.  In each sweet encounter be glad for all that encapsulates it”.

Words that flowed so naturally from me that I had to capture them.

Standard
Uncategorized, Yoga

Go Where Feels Good

I’ve just had one of those self practices where you get on the mat, shut your eyes and just see what happens.  I can highly recommend it.  No leggings, no sports bra, just jeans and a vest and just a good dose of ‘needing to move’ without my self imposed routine.  I’ve felt a little ‘out of sorts’ recently, my body just doesn’t feel as ‘strong’ and vibrant as usual and my shoulders are tense*.  I’m putting it down to a few things; busy with work and teaching, a bit stressed, trying to balance an incredible man in my life coupled with associated feelings of guilt that i’m never spending enough time on just one thing.

It’s hard to just be though isn’t it?  Isn’t it?  I mean at the start of the yoga classes I teach I try to create a space for the practitioners to just ‘be’, to connect with their breath and their body.  Yet sometimes I have to remind myself that I need that time too.  I need to move around on my mat like no one is watching (mainly cause they’re not), put some melodic music on and just swirl around, going where feels good.

I recently went to an ‘Ode to the Moon’ workshop led by Eleonora Zampatti.  A former sufferer of domestic violence, Eleonora created this sequence in harmony with a musician to create a space for those to feel and to let go of hurt.  Her workshop encouraged us to be vulnerable on the mat, to listen to what our bodies said, to move slowly and with care and to ultimately be kind and nurturing to ourselves.   It definitely touched me, I felt calmer, more tuned in and inspired by how gentle her teaching was.  Check her out, she is quite an inspirational woman.

After so many years of being out of touch with my body, of wanting to punish it for letting me down I need to remember to be kind to it.  My body actually IS getting stronger all the time.  Sometimes it might not feel that obvious but it is.  The body and mind, although one, can occasionally feel like two, I know that all too well.  That’s why it’s such a beautiful experience to get on the mat and just try, because right now something might feel hard physically, but soon both mentally and physically it will feel a little easier, or maybe it might take longer than you want, and that is just fine.  Just go where feels good.  Close your eyes during your practice,  close off a little, move into the space, invite in what comes to you.

*The shoulders and my mind feel happier after that practice!

Standard