Tania

The Challenge: Meditate Every Day for Thirty Days As you may be sensing, I’m good at doing something for a short period of time. I like the idea of an end date, to make the focus seem more manageable because you don’t have to do it forever. However, there are some things that I want to build into my life permanently. Meditation is one of those. I know I feel better, clearer, more focused and calmer when I have a regular practice. So I’ve set myself a rather large goal of 365 days of meditation. I’ve made it through the first thirty and wanted to share some of my thoughts with you

1. We make time for that which is important to us. I am so over people saying that they are busy and wearing it like a badge of honour. What does it even mean? That you tried to fit too much into your day and wore yourself out? That you didn’t give your brain anytime to be still and get creative? I can have a packed day and I will find time for a meeting with my boss (or Instagram scrolling). If I can make time for important people (or not so important things), why can’t I make time for myself? For something that is going to help me show up for all of that other stuff as more present, more authentic, more ME.

File_000 (1)2. Making things easy for myself is important. Since I’m not much of a morning person (more to come on that later) I didn’t want to start building a new habit that was going to be a struggle, i.e. no 5.30am meditation alarms. Instead, I decided to make my meditation time late morning. As I started to think about lunch, I would take myself off to our Talanoa Room (Board Room) to sit and meditate for twenty minutes. It fit in well with my schedule, a key component to building a new habit. Don’t make your new habit harder than it has to be.

3. Meditation is not just about those twenty minutes. It spills over into the rest of my life and how I’m showing up. Things that previously would have been an effort are just coming naturally now – like speaking to people that in the past have intimidated me and I would have been lost for words; giving a friend some feedback she didn’t want to hear; having a difficult conversation with someone at work. I feel more like an observer when situations arise so that I’m able to respond rather than react.

In the past, I’ve used the One Giant Mind app and this time around I bought the subscription version of Headspace. I really like both, although they are quite different. If you’re interested in starting a practice, having a look around the app store as there are lots in there. Or go old fashioned and just sit and watch your breath for five, ten or maybe fifteen minutes. I promise that you’ll feel better for it. I know I do.

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Tania
When I was little, I always wanted to be a ballerina. I’m not suXtend-Barre_Studiore that I ever had the determination to make it, but this week I got to relive a little of my dream (I also got to combine it with my more recent love of yoga) at Yoga Dance at Xtend Barre. For a start, the studio is gorgeous – wooden floors, big windows and an open and inviting feel to the space. And the instructor Maria is so lovely. Full of knowledge and grace, she has a clear way of explaining a flowing yoga class that really does make you feel like you’re dancing. Maria broke each Yoga flow down slowly, making sure that we understood the sequence of postures before we picked up the pace a bit. This is where the Dance part comes in. With music playing, you knew where you wanted to go and you could just dance your way through to each posture. Having a knowledge of yoga definitely helps in this class, so you know where your body wants to be in each posture, but you definitely don’t need to be an advanced practitioner as Maria does a great job of talking you through the alignment. The class is a balance of strength and stretching that builds some heat as well as giving you a chance to stretch out any tight muscles you’ve created through some of the other Xtend Barre classes. If you haven’t tried the other classes at Xtend Barre, they are also a great way at bringing out your inner prima ballerina. After attending some great Barre style classes in California, I’m excited that the trend is making its way over to NZ! They’re a great way to work up a sweat and help shape your body into a dancers sleek physique. I would love to hear if anyone has attended classes at Xtend and what you thought!
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Sarah

Urdva Danurasana

 

Today I sat myself down, and I asked myself one simple question:

Why do I practice Ashtanga yoga? You see, I’ve realized that I’ve been through a lot of emotional and physical turmoil since starting this practice almost two years ago. I’ve dabbled on the brink of depression, had a few physical injuries, relived past trauma and I’ve often just felt absolutely exhausted. So, why do I do it? Why do I still make it to my mat five times a week? Why do I still get up when that alarm goes off at 5:30 a.m.? My answer? I don’t actually know. That’s the truth. I don’t know why I still continue to push my body into poses it’s screaming to get out of, why I allow my heart to be cracked open and tears to flow freely at any given moment, why I sometimes reluctantly drag myself through that same physical practice almost every single day. I don’t know why I keep trying to bring my full attention to my breath, to keep my mind focused and present, when most days it feels like an uphill battle. All I do know is that deep down, something inside me is telling me to keep going. That something is what gets me up when all I want to do is roll over and fall back to sleep. That something is what helps me through a particularly tough practice, when my body just wants to melt and disappear into my mat. I don’t know what that something is, but I know it is a lot stronger than my ego, which tries to convince me that maybe another form of yoga would be a lot more fun, and a lot more forgiving. But I’m not there to have fun. I’m there to learn, to grow and to heal. I’m currently attending a weeklong Ashtanga yoga workshop with a teacher visiting from overseas. She has reminded me why I do this, that there is no other path for me but Ashtanga, at least not at this time in my life. She describes the practice as something that isn’t meant to be fun. Fun is for the vinyasa flows, the hot yoga and all the other new styles of yoga that are created every other week. Ashtanga yoga is a healing modality; it is not a form of exercise. It is powerful, we break stuff down, we go deeper and deeper into our own physical bodies, into our emotional landscapes, and we clear it all out. And sometimes, it’s really uncomfortable. But you learn to sit with that discomfort and you realize that, actually, it’s okay. It’s okay to be uncomfortable, it’s okay to cry and it’s okay that you can’t do the pretty poses or the difficult poses just yet. I look back to when I first started this practice at the beginning of 2013. I jumped right into a teacher training, which required me to go from no practices a week to five, 2-hour Mysore style practices a week. It was massive shock to the system, my entire life flipped upside down and it took a while to settle. During this initial detox period I started learning techniques and ways to deal with these emotions. I learnt the importance of my breath, and how it can take me away from feelings of anxiety and panic and into a state of peace and calm. I learnt that my body is capable of some things, and not capable of other things—and to accept that fact. I learnt that this was a process, and that things weren’t just going to start happening over night. That to be able to come into my light, I’ll first have to step into the darkness, and be with my shadows. So, I guess this is the answer to my question. I practice Ashtanga yoga because I can’t imagine doing anything else. Because it communicates with me in a way nothing has ever done before. I practice Ashtanga yoga because I’m ready to face my demons, and I’m ready to let go of my past even if it takes months, years, decades. I practice Ashtanga yoga…just because.   First published here on elephantjournal.com
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