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Sharing the yoga student journey


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Prenatal yoga

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(Trying to find my ever changing centre of gravity in Tree Pose while taking a break from packing house last month!)

This time last week I was a little nervous and excited – we were finally being assessed for the practical component of our yoga teacher training! I had needed to modify my program significantly given I’m 24 weeks pregnant, and it was going to be interesting teaching a prenatal program to women that weren’t pregnant! But after receiving positive feedback from the assessor and classmates, there had been no reason to worry – prenatal yoga practices are nurturing for everyone, including men!

Finding the right prenatal yoga class is so important. I don’t want a strong practice and have it modified slightly for pregnancy…this does not serve me right now. I want something nourishing and supportive. A class that is gentle, focuses on the aches and pains that pregnancy brings, and includes a lot of breath work.

I have been blessed to find Nina at www.mamashanti.com.au at this critical time. Nina is a prenatal yoga teacher that integrates her knowledge and experience of working as a doula and childbirth educator to provide delicious prenatal yoga classes and beautiful workshops for pregnancy and birth. Her classes are not only beneficial to pregnant women but anyone considering the next step of becoming a prenatal yoga teacher.


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Does my yoga practice serve me in this moment?

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I feel like I’m still ‘recovering’ from a 5 day intensive (above) with one of the most sought after guest yoga teachers in the world, Donna Farhi. I am blessed for having the opportunity to attend one of Donna’s workshops especially given I am not a qualified yoga teacher (yet!).

The question, ‘Does my yoga practice serve me in this moment?’ came up during the intensive. My practice has changed considerably over the last couple of years and this question not only allowed me the opportunity to reflect on this, but more importantly, it now slows me down to see what comes up for me in ‘this’ moment. I may have planned to do an energetic practice but ‘in this moment’…this may have changed.

Donna suggests that “if our everyday life feels very stable and is less challenging, this may be a time to be more daring and to push our limits” in our formal practice but that “if our life is hectic and erratic, this is a time to make practice a comfort rather than a challenge” (Bringing Yoga To Life, 2004).

I have found that by asking this question it has opened up a space to feel what my body and soul needs while being pregnant. I may need to practice specific postures for my yoga teacher training but my time is spent on doing what I need to do to nourish myself ‘in this moment’. If my lower back is aching due to the ligaments from the uterus pulling on my sacral spine, my practice may involve restorative postures (bolster bliss!). Whereas if I am feeling lethargic I might lie down on my left side, right leg over a bolster with my neck supported, to relax and regenerate by listening to yoga nidra.

As you step onto your mat, make sure you ask yourself whether or not this yoga practice will serve you in this moment…for it is an opportunity to listen to how yoga can support you in your life.


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Yoga teacher training and pregnant!

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It’s going to be a challenging few months in the lead up to completing my diploma of yoga teacher training. Knowing that the training is almost over is exciting and daunting…there is still so much to learn…because yoga is a journey that is endless, and this qualification is merely the beginning.

AND being 18 weeks pregnant adds an entirely different perspective to my experience in teacher training and as a yoga practitioner! If there was ever the need for me to withdraw from the ‘external’ and become more aware of my ‘internal environment’…the moment is now.


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Yoga nidra – no need for special gear & you can do it anywhere!

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Yoga nidra, also called ‘divine sleep’ by Jennifer Reis, is a beautiful way to start your day. All that is required of you is to lie down (or sit in a comfortable position), close your eyes and listen.

There is no need to attend a yoga class or a meditation centre. It can be done in the privacy of your own home where you can truly relax. Sometimes I’ll do it sitting on a tram with my sunglasses on – whose to know? And do I really care? I feel so fabulous after yoga nidra that I take the opportunity to do it wherever I can.

Yoga nidra will revitalise you during your lunch break and you don’t have to get all sweaty in a gym (see photo above). I feel so blessed to have yoga nidra in my life and I’ll often practice yoga nidra alone rather than an asana practice.

Check out Jennifer’s MP3s for short yoga nidra sessions you can do while waiting for the train, or longer sessions you can do at home.

 


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The Nutrition Guru and the Chef

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I’m a firm believer of putting yourself in situations that MAKE you happy. I don’t believe that happiness just comes to us, or that we ‘deserve to be happy’. We have to seek it.

Let me tell you the story of how I came to learn this.

Years ago, I had a hip reconstruction. I was in pain for a long time, unable to exercise. I had constant dark circles under my eyes, to the point where people would say ‘are you ok, what’s wrong with your eyes?’

I developed a friendship and mentorship at this time with my treating doctor, Dr June Canavan, a leading Sports Medicine practitioner in Australia and highly sought after overseas.

She asked me if I wanted to scrub in with her the following day on 5 knee surgeries. I was over the moon. She also prescribed me a different medication for the pain. One…

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To the lady at the tram stop…

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To the lady I met at the tram stop on Sunday…I want to say thank you.

You approached me as I was reading my notes from the Divine Sleep Yoga Nidra course I was attending being run by Jennifer Reis. I have never met a person I did not know that was so excited to hear I was studying yoga and yoga nidra! Your words of encouragement were beautiful and timely. Being in your presence created a sense of calm, a strong knowing that I am travelling on the right path.

I had only just finished meditating and had given everything ‘over to the universe’ before you came up to me at the tram stop. Your presence and words were a message that could not have been clearer. It has taken me many years to finally be on this path. Dharma has many meanings and it can mean duty, which is why I led the life I did previously, but Donna Farhi highlights that dharma can “also speak of a soul purpose that we alone can accomplish” and that “our dharma is almost always the option we choose last because it is the most challenging”. It is very good to finally be on the path that my soul has been waiting for.

 


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Pain as a motivator

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Many people begin practicing yoga for pain relief and healing…myself included. On our first day of yoga teacher training back in July last year, I was surprised by the number of us there that had come to yoga through pain and injury. To heal ourselves.

I had spent years (and a lot of money) visiting doctors, chiropractors, osteopaths, physiotherapists, myofascial release therapists, acupuncturists, and massage therapists for my pain. And they all assisted in relieving my pain when it was most acute…for a short period of time.

But it was the move to Melbourne and a session with an honest physiotherapist who told me I needed to start taking yoga classes for any type of long-term change to occur. I wasn’t entirely convinced that yoga could provide the type of relief and healing I was looking for but it wasn’t long before I started to notice positive changes in my body and mind. Not only was I taught yoga positions that could relieve and prevent the pain, I was taught the process of listening to my own body. This awareness of what my body needs on a specific day is invaluable and continues to guide my yoga practice.

Ganga White’s book ‘Yoga Beyond Belief – Insights to Awaken and Deepen Your Practice’ includes a chapter on Injury, Pain and Healing for all yoga practitioners and for those that are still unsure if yoga is suitable for them because of their injury or illness.

 

What if…

What if our religion was each other

If our practice was our life

If prayer, our words

 

What if the temple was the earth

If forests were our church

If holy water – the rivers, lakes, and oceans

 

What if meditation was our relationships

If the Teacher was life

If wisdom was self-knowledge

If love was the centre of our being.

– Ganga White

 


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My love of yoga nidra

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I am forever grateful that my art teacher, Rudrashanti, introduced me to yoga nidra. In moments when my physical and emotional body has needed rest and healing, yoga nidra has left me with a sense of lightness and calm.

On a day like today when my anxiety is high and results in chest pain, I know I only need to tap into 15 minutes of yoga nidra to feel the effects. My muscles relax, tension releases, I breathe freely, my mind clears and my heart stops racing. Yoga nidra brings me into a state of deep relaxation…and quickly. Life is too beautiful to waste the moments being bound up by stress.

I feel blessed to be attending the upcoming yoga nidra workshop by Jennifer Reis from the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health. I cannot wait to share what I have learned from the yoga nidra teacher training course being run by Jennifer at Ohana Yoga


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Surrender

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I was so excited to finally find myself in a workshop by Insight Yoga founder Sarah Powers this week. I had booked into her workshop months ago when I first heard that she was coming to Australia. In addition to an asana practice based in yin yoga, a delicious balance to the popular ‘yang’ yoga styles (e.g. ashtanga), we were privileged to hear Sarah share her insights into the practices of yoga, Buddhism, Taoism and psychology.

 

There were many moments when I found myself sitting on my mat, pen in hand, and scribbling furiously to capture the wisdom Sarah was able to share with us after years of studying and experiencing these practices and ancient traditions. One such pearl was the concept of surrendering. That we must learn to surrender in our practice. That we must find ourselves “surrendering into the flow rather than trying to control it…” and that “results are not our business, practice the method”.

 

We constantly experience pressure to produce results in our daily lives; both from society and the expectations we put on ourselves. We even do this in our yoga practice, our time spent in meditation. We attempt to do this by trying to control our environment even though life would be so much easier if we just ‘surrendered into the flow’.

 

(For those that are interested in attending a yin yoga class, the talented Jen Crescenzo teaches at a variety of studios around Melbourne. If you have been encouraging your partner to prevent and reduce sporting injuries by attending a yoga class, yin yoga may be the solution! Poses are held for long periods of time and targets the connective tissues of the hips, pelvis, lower spine and more – great for runners!)