Happy Spring time! ☀️
As I return from my travels, where I was sharing and teaching the art of Rest and Stillness in Seoul, I have been giving myself some time and space to reset.
These past few years have been a time where I was observing and assessing how to manage my energy, time, resources, therefore interactions and relationship with self and others. Travelling to teach on workshops and retreats takes me out of my typical London schedule, and more often out of my familiar environment. There are changes and adaptations needed along the way. Am aware that I will be away from my London-based students, family and friends, whilst potentially meeting new students and acquaintances. It's a joy to me when there is balance of regularity and adventures! 😊
Personally, it has been in the noticing and allowing the smallest shifts that supported my growth and sustainability. Where I would check in with myself, and notice my energy level each day in each moment. Where I negotiate and protect my boundaries as to where I prioritise my time. Where I commit to self care and nourishment, through movement, Rest and silence. Where I allow myself to kindly say 'No' when I feel depletion setting in.
' 'No' is a complete sentence. ' once said by my teacher, Judith H. Lasater.
This is a balancing act with intention. It is commitment without being compromised. It is a continuing recalibration for equilibrium with sensitivity. A small step in the direction of health and joy is enough. This is a process, a quiet reflective process of observing and noticing, a practice of being aware and Awareness itself.
Questions for Reflection:
Hope this inspire your reflection on where and how you prioritise towards health and joy in life! See you on the mat soon. 🙏🏼
Restorative yoga has been invaluable in my life and I belief in many of yours too. We agree that deep rest is not an option, it is what is required for balance living, health and peace.
Though as much as we want to get on to the mat, to practice at home, some times we just needed some motivation, inspiration, and support to move along. Many whom I have met shared with me that they would put on youtube or an online yoga channel to practice, which is a good start. Therefore over the past year, I set myself a project to offer more quality online content directly to you.
So in supporting you to develop a self-practice and further understanding of self-care through this practice, I have carefully designed the content and presented it in a 6-week online course. (hosted by Yogacampus)
The intention is to offer a step-by-step guide to understanding and practising Restorative Yoga, a great start to integrating Relaxation and Rest into one’s home practice as well as into general yoga classes for those who teach public or private classes.
Through lectures, practice videos, quizzes and live forums, I invite you to join me in the comfort of your home on this journey to deep rest, health and peaceful living.
I have been, and I am sure you may have often been asked this question over a conversation about yoga. 'What style of yoga do you practice (or teach)?'
The intention for my movement practice is in restoring healthy functioning of the whole, an integrated expression of the being through physical exploration, the therapeutic aspects to promote well-being and vitality at every level. An inquiry-based somatic exploration practice that continues to unfold from moment to moment.
Some guiding principles of my practice are:
The above video clip is one of my morning practice this week, with the intention to restore and recalibrate breath-led movement patterns.
There is much observation, trust, intuition, openness, without pre-conceptual ideas or self-limiting beliefs. The breath and body synchronises movements through the energetic expression from one moment to the next. The state of mind is meditative, a deep self-inquiry.
Question for Reflection:
What 'style' of yoga do you practice?
What is your relationship with your practice?
My Self Practice (sadhana)
As I was preparing the content for my workshop 'Guide to Self-practice', I sat and reflected upon my personal practice over the past 20 years. It has been a humbling journey. I have experienced moments of pain and joy, disappointment and celebration, self-limiting beliefs and self-sovereignty, vulnerability and stability. It is a learning which keeps me curious and interested... the effort and sweetness of growth.
Developing a self-practice is a gradual establishing of TRUST and ACCEPTANCE. It is most satisfying and joyful to feel empowered to choose from moment to moment, to know that I could nurture me through self practice.
It has been, and still is a rich and humbling experience. It is often not the victory and triumph in achieving ten minutes headstand, or being able to sit an hour for meditation, rather it is the feeling of high and low, ebbs and flows, that supported my learning and resilience. At ease and balance, the middle path, the 'Dao' of practising, living and being. Balance in the online dictionary states 'a situation in which different elementsare equal or in the correct proportions'. Balance is not a static, rigid form or state of being. It is not only about the high and the winnings.
This is a work in progress, and we all at some point, start somewhere. I started to learn more intimately about myself on the mat some years ago, I started with a focused determination (Abhyasa), and sustained perseverance on my sadhana(practice). I am happy to share in honesty what has worked for me, which has allowed me to begin trusting myself day by day.
"How do I know...?"
Some years ago, this has been one of the most frequent thought I had in my practice (or possibly in life). 'How do I know if I am doing this pose correctly?', 'How do I know that this movement is healthy for my scoliosis?', 'How do I know if I should work through this pain?', 'How do I know if this is enough?'... and it goes on.
I soon realised this occurrence is very much a mental narration when there is a lack of TRUST, and that this inability to Trust comes from a place of disbelief, of fear, of insecurity. When this is present in one's practice, it may likely be reflected in one's life. It is very disconcerting at times, and diminishes one from experiencing what truly is in the moment. There is so much information gathered from our sensory perception every minute every second every breath.
The truth is we don't know, and I don't have a conclusive answer when a student approached me with these questions either. What I do know from my experience is that we can learn through exploration without prejudice or judgement, realise that there are always choices in every situation, curiously asking questions without criticism... and with persistence will lead us back to confidence and gaining Trust.
This is the basis of my practice and my teaching since.
Happy New Year!
My New Year resolution is... to serve!
Teaching and sharing yoga is an act of service. I continue to practice, to study, to train and self-develop in yoga, to live yoga, and to serve all sentient beings (me included).
In supporting you on and off the mat, we'll start the year with a series of Back Care workshops in London, from Upper Back, Neck and Shoulder, to Lower Back Care, and a day long Yoga for Scoliosis Introductory workshop.
Happy to be returning in February to support the sangha in Belgium in offering a weekend of workshops, themes include scoliosis, tension release, rest and sleep, followed by the Relax and Restore Immersion (30 hrs). London Relax and Restore Immersion in June.
For those awaiting the Yoga for Scoliosis Fundamentals, which is designed to support those living with scoliosis, come and explore first hand a 30 hours intensive study and practice this March.
Finally, it is my believe that only we ourselves are responsible to make a commitment and take action! I have booked my retreat months ago. Don't wait. Plan your annual yoga retreat, an important and essential me-time, to be extracted from our daily responsibilities and commitments for a week. Lizzie Lasater and I welcome you to join us on our annual Moving Into Stillness Retreat this Spring May in magical Santillan, Andalusia Spain.
See you on the mat!
Gratitude, Celebration, Anew
It's December! 2018 officially arrives in less than three weeks.
As the festivity draws near, Christmas round the corner, I reminded myself and my students to keep up the practice, be it attending classes or home practice, to finish strong!
During this time, I sat and reflected upon my yoga over the passed years. It has been a humbling journey, a deep dive and reconnection to 'home'. A lot of times, I learned the hard way. There was pain and joy, there was disappointment and celebration, there was self-limiting beliefs and great sense of empowerment, there was vulnerability and stability.
Reminiscing on my practice journey, there were choices that have supported my growth, and some less so. I would love to share some of my learnings, experiences and pitfalls.
By sharing this, my wish is to first connect with you, and for you to know that you are not alone on the mat. I am on the mat with you right now. A world of yoga practitioners are on the journey with you today. Secondly, I hope this may inspire and reignite the fire in your yoga and self-care. Finally, by sharing this openly and honestly, I allow myself to express my truth and vulnerability. With Gratitude.
Questions for reflection:
How and what is your support structure for your yoga? Do share by replying.
India... Journey to the East
My visit to India is life affirming.
I am most attracted to the culture and spirituality as I travelled from one town to another village, by road, train, tuk tuk and boat. These 15 days in the land of India, I visited Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, met people from all walks of life, tasted the local cuisine (spicy, very spicy, too spicy for me!), took pilgrimage to over a dozen temples, witnessed celebrations, grievances, good fortune, deprivation, luxury and hardship. Much of life's experiences unfolded in front of my eyes in a flash.
The undertone of the caste system is very much alive in India. Where in the west, equal opportunities and human rights are respected. Children as young as age 6 touting in tourist areas and on streets. Thousands from all parts of India make their pilgrimage to various temples each day. Spirituality is respected, practised and very much alive in every person I met. Everyday I would witness wedding celebration, grief and bereavement. Observing rituals performed by Brahmins by the river for the death in a family, to rituals for those hoping to bear a child in the temple. Over 74,000 birth and under 28,000 death per day on average. A meal would cost as little as 30 pence, and as much as over £40 shows the vast inequality in the distribution of wealth. There are those who never work a day in their lives, and those working few jobs to support and sustain another day.
Yoga as expressed and taught is very much a spiritual practice, which involves the discipline of physical practices. All yoga is therapeutic by nature, with very little importance placed on defining styles. It was an experience to have taken a yoga session at the KYM (Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram), where much emphasis is on the therapeutic relationship and one-to-one focused-practice for the individual. Many in India has not heard of the various styles of yoga as introduced internationally by the west, and that there is no interest in the distinction of YOGA. Having visited Sri Aurobindo Ashram, I felt humbled and inspired by his work, wisdom and courage. I am very touched by my journey to the east. I am grateful to have made this journey, and felt much more connected to myself now than ever.
I am writing this as a reflection of life as it is. Each of us are here on our own journey, not one person has the exact same conditions for living. Competition or comparison is a self-limiting belief with an external reference. I am learning to trust more of my internal references, living through self-reflection, using peace and joy as a measurement for each present moment.
Vulnerability - Fear vs Courage
In my recent retreat in the US, the theme we were discussing and practising was Vulnerability. Many online literature and books reference vulnerability as a feeling or emotion, eg. feel vulnerable. What is your relationship with the word Vulnerability? What experience do you have when you hear this word? [Pause for contemplation]
I have taken much time to contemplate, research, meditate on Vulnerability. My understanding and experience on this big word over years has taken its time to mature. It is my believe that Vulnerability refers to a situation where there is varying level of threat or danger present, where one may often react by raising their guard, being defensive or aggressive, possibly a feeling of aversion and disempowerment in an instant. These experiences may either be met by an emotional reaction of Fear and defeat, or an opportunity to learn and grow, eventually gaining confidence and Courage.
In my opinion, Vulnerability is not a feeling, it is when we attach an emotional reaction towards vulnerability that it brings about feeling of Fear or Courage. Now, whether this is the experience of everyone, maybe or maybe not, but I like how I feel when I conceptualise it this way. There is such fulfilment and empowerment in simply having the choice when faced with uncertainty, changes in life, and vulnerability.
When we take Savasana, it is with courage that we allow for vulnerability. In this moment, we consciously choose to trust, and to be open to possibilities. Savasana is embodied empathy. Thank you for hearing my thoughts, would love to hear yours.
Finally, may I share the story / metaphor presented in the below Huffingtonpost article. Enjoy the read!
The Relationship between Fear, Vulnerability and Courage
Why do we practice yoga?
Do we practice to eradicate pain and discomfort?
Do we practice for health and optimal living?
Do we practice for liberation and to reduce sufferings?
For now, in reflection of my asana and meditation practice, as I observe more attentively, the body response through sensation from moment to moment. When there is absence of unconscious reactiveness to these sensations, the most unpredictable experience often prevail. In each asana and movement exploration, if I sense and feel from dense to sparse, from rigid to malleable, from tight to spacious, from solid to fluid, etc. the vast spectrum of experience was telling of my life, expressed through sensation in my physical body. It's all connected, as we called it, a psychosomatic experience. If this is true, that sensation is impermanent and therefore changes from moment to moment, then how and why does pain becomes 'chronic'. Does it not go away after some time? There maybe a clue to the nature and story of Chronic symptoms.
Let's make this more concrete, when I sense into the skin boundary and the contents of my body, the fluids and blood circulation, the musculature and soft tissues, the bones and organs, part by part, cluster by cluster, I often notice sensation changing and shifting in response to each inhalation or exhalation. Where there is pre-existing distortion and imbalance tension held due to experiences in the past, the body takes account of the slightest disharmony. And where visceral organs are concerned, they may be over-toned or under-toned, tight or flaccid, therefore inhibit optimal function and support for a healthy lifestyle. What and how do we take a more organic approach to practice? (Organic Asana)
This practice and approach requires radical humility, the willingness to step forth into the unknown territory. Are you willing and ready?
Questions for reflection / practice:
Why, when or how does pain becomes 'chronic'? What is the underlying story?
What would your asana practice look like to move through the fluids in the body, and to move from the organs? Try lying down in a comfortable position, and bring your awareness to each organ in your body.
Adelene is happy to share her life and experiences through this blog. May this inspire your practice and living. May this serve to connect us.