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Yoga, Right Effort & Kicking Your Sh*t to the Curb.

Yoga, Right Effort & Kicking Your Sh*t to the Curb.

We talk a lot about “right effort” in yoga, but it took me a long time to really get what it means.

Did you know In the Yoga sutras of Patanjali there are 3 verses about asana (physical shapes)?

Lets dive into what right effort means in the physical shapes in yoga. How that relates to us in the real world we live in, not on our cosy yoga mat.

Also a short sequence you can explore too…

 Sthira-sukham asanam — Yoga Sutras 2.24

Steady comfortable posture. 

This well-known yoga sutra points out two naturally opposing but equally powerful forces; sthira and sukhaSthira means steady and alert—active and strong. Sukha means comfortable and soft—joyful and open. It benefits us to notice the amount of effort and ease in asana practice and daily life. Too much sthira, and over gripping and tension are present. Too much sukha, and there is lack of stability and grounding. When both forces are in harmony, equanimity is born. This has a similar ethos to the DAO, more commonly known as the Yin Yang image in ancient Chinese philosophy.

At first in my early yoga classes I was like a limp fish and certainly had not enough effort, I remember my first yoga teacher saying “feel the pose before you get into it,” and I couldn’t get to grips with this? feel what? I imagined myself getting into the pose but I felt nothing physically. The subtle body was something i’d never felt before, I now know its easier in the beginning to feel a big movement for example rather than the subtle pulse of my cardiovascular flow. Fear not, it may be a 10 yr project, or maybe a lifetime, but we gotta be cool with this.

Sukha means ease and calm

SUKHA(ease)
Sukha involves gentleness and calm. A posture will feel joyful, open, and light. Sukha is more subtle, though equally powerful. Through conscious surrender and smooth calm breathing, time on the mat becomes sacred. Practice shifts further inward and becomes more of a moving meditation. Notice the amount of ease as you practice.

Too much ease in practice? Try these tips to add more stability:
• Deepen, and increase the sound, of your breathing
• Engage bandhas (specifically uddhiyana and mula bandhas)
• Focus your drishti like a laser beam
• Engage and activate muscles, e.g. lifting your toes to engage your quads

Then several years later that flipped and I was too aggressive on myself and resulted in injuring my back to the point where I would hobble out of bed and still do 3 hrs of yoga practice daily not taking care of my back because I didn’t know how to. I was driven by my own ego and fear.

It mirrored the way that we are taught to be successful. It certainly mirrored how I was at that point in my career.

Sthira means steady and alert 

STHIRA(effort)
Sthira refers to steadiness, firmness, and stability. Yoga postures require it. A posture needs to be steady and strong to maintain a safe practice. Though too much sthira leads to gripping and unnecessary struggle. Too much effort can also be present in the mind. Most often we think "struggle" before we feel "struggle". Notice how much sthira is present when you practice.

Too much effort in practice?

I Now realise its a negotiable thing pose by pose . I’m checking in with myself when I’m in each shape moment by moment.

Try these tips to add more ease:
• Slow down and smooth your breathing
• Relax your jaw, tongue and face
• Soften your drishti (gaze) and forehead
• Have an easy and lighthearted attitude

But all too often, we “unseat” our inner ease with a lack of bodily awareness and an untrained mind. This constricts our inner space and makes us small-minded. On the physical level, we experience this as an inability to breathe and to move freely. Tension settles in our shoulders, neck, pelvis, lower back, and deeper in the organs—and the mind recoils from the discomfort.

Yoga is the middle way. It means neither acquisition nor denial, neither ego-inflation nor meekness, neither domination nor submission. So how do we, as yoga practitioners,  find the elusive balance of the middle way in our in our lives?

STHIRA AND SUKHA IN DAILY LIFE
As a society we tend toward too much sthira. Days are often in a constant state of doing. How can we counterbalance and incorporate more sukha into our daily life? Give these a try:

—Limit Use of Media
TV, ipad, smart phone and social media all quickly become over-stimulating. Set a time limit. When time is up, turn screens off.

—Take a Media Break
Unplug from technology for a day, or more if you can. Reset in nature. Enjoy a walk or hike outdoors.

—Take Time and Care While Eating
What we eat is equally important to how we eat. Slow down and enjoy meals uninterrupted. Pause a moment in gratitude before enjoying food.

—Breathe
When stressed, the breath is irregular. Calm your breath and mind-body will follow. Elongate exhales. When anxious, inhalations are emphasized and exhalations are short.

—Conscious Rest
Prioritize time to rest. Create space to soften. An ideal time is before bed. Enjoy a calming treat; warm bath, cup of tea, meditation, yoga nidra, or simply close your eyes and follow your breath.

—Set a Morning Intension
Begin your day with gratitude. Set your mind on the good in your life. Make a decision at the start of the day to keep an easy going attitude... smiling also works. :) Start Feeling

In my sessions I guide students toward your own subtle body where life is lived according to feelings inside, this is called interoception.  Before my yoga training I can surely say I have lived almost half a lifetime of not feeling what was going on inside me!

Feeling takes us into ourselves, forcing takes us away.

When we want results, we push to make them happen. The moment we start to push, we are no longer aware of the effect this action is having on us or on our nervous system. Force is the opposite of feeling. When we force, we cannot feel. When we feel, we cannot force.   See if you can try to be attuned to your thoughts, words, and deeds, making them all come from feeling. Forcing is yang—it raises blood pressure, makes a person angry, and creates heart problems. Feeling is yin—it makes a person reflective, calm, and able to understand life.

If you wish to explore right effort in yoga join me in my sessions.

You can also practice this short sequence focusing on your breath and any feelings that you may sense inside.

What Taking Responsibility Of Your Shit Looks Like

What Taking Responsibility Of Your Shit Looks Like

So this is my birthday month and for the first time, I’ve gifted myself my health. This time wholeheartedly, none of these half measures I’ve dabbled with through the years.

Many of you know I have suffered from endometriosis since my teens and actually that’s how I found yoga.

It certainly hasn’t been an easy ride as pain has often been really bad. I sometimes refer myself to the exorcist rithing around in pain and projectile all over the place. You get the idea?

So, as everything in life ebbs and flows, I’ve had years of being up and down. I was recently having a dreadful few months of continuous bad pain, almost to the point of passing out. Well even sometimes passing out!

So finally I made a pact with myself that I needed to prioritise my health, not just a bit more but a whole lot more.

My body is screaming here! Quite literally it was!!


To cut a long story short I’ve been to see a herbalist who does Maya Abdominal Massage.

She has recommended some changes and additions to my daily ritual.

Today I’m determined. 

This is what I’ve got up to in the last few weeks and the results are mind blowing.

  • Meditation every morn 5-10mins

  • Yoga (even if its 5mins on the mat, makes me feel great even when it’s at 3:45 am!!!) 

  • Monthly Maya abdominal massage

  • Daily self abdominal massage

  • Herbal medicine

  • 28 day liver cleanse

  • Taking supplements 

  •  Really spending the time and money it costs to buy good quality, organic foods

  • Taking the time to prepare my nutritious breakfasts and lunches

  • Reducing stress 

  • Keeping a daily diary where I give gratitude, track my progress on new healthy habits and do little things for others.

  • Instead of filling my cup with more tasks, which has been pretty standard in my life, I’ve realised I need to do this stuff with compassion and not come down too heavy on myself. 70% most of the time is good enough!

  • I allow times of ‘nothingness’, of noticing the birds whilst I’m cooking a special meal with new yummy things.


I suspect I’m not alone when I say i’m always busying around the place, always working on five projects at once and reading four books.

Sounds familiar?

I know I need to slow it down sometimes and I am working on it.

When was the last time you told yourself to slow down?


What I’ve got out of this

  • Periods that are manageable, where I’m not taking painkillers, just a herbal mix to take the edge off.

     I’m over the moon!!!

  • Homeostasis - our systems get out of whack when stressed and not supported by rest, food and nutrients. Stress makes us tired and grumpy. I now have more energy and feel I’m not playing catch up with my sleep. I choose to go out with mates, I have a laugh and that’s truly healing!

  • A new enthusiasm for cooking weird and wonderful new things. New ingredients that taste magical. I close my eyes and really sample their texture and aroma. It’s like being a kid again and trying out new stuff for the first time! Have you ever tried monks beard?!?!

  • Noticing my eating habits and not filling a empty painful gap with food. Really understanding that food is medicine and everything I eat has an impact on my health. Noticing my cravings and connections to it. Whether it be emotional or purely a sugar addiction or both.

  • Times of peace inside. Let’s be clear here, not always but sometimes. It’s a work in progress, as is all of this.


I know I need to keep working on this and sometimes it’ll be easier than others. I’m not saying this is the be all and end all for everyone but it’s working for me. 

If this is what it takes to be heathy and pain free bring it on!


Inspired by this healing experience I’ve created these two nourishing 2 hour sessions for you guys…

Sunday 10 March

Embodying The Feminine

4:30-6:30

HP8

Empowerment, regulating hormones, womb yoga, stress relieving, strengthening & meditation.

SOLD OUT

WAITING LIST AVAILABLE

 Sunday 14 April

Yin & Yang Yoga


4:30-6:30

HP8
Recharge whilst building intensity find stillness & motion with yoga, meditation & yoga nidra.

2 spaces left 

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Don’t compare yourself to others.

Compare yourself with the person you where yesterday

Teeny Trees Yoga Taster Now At Chilterns Walking Fest And MORE! EVENT

Teeny Trees Yoga Taster Now At Chilterns Walking Fest And MORE! EVENT

3 reasons to get your walking boots on!

 

Yoga Atelier has teamed up with Chilterns Walking Fest  and now offering some explosive sessions for all the family... check it out ...

 

Yarrow + Yoga 

Experience a health tour of East & West. 

Introducing wild medicines from our fields, hedgerows & gardens combined with yoga, easy qi gong & meditation. All brought together in collaboration to support your health and wellbeing.

Session is seasonal and topical and bring you take home tips to use in your day to day.

Forage, stretch, drink tea & learn about you.

All within natures finest surroundings. 

Saturday 19 May

10:00am-12:00am

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Adults £35 NOW get 20% discount here

Kids aged 8-16

All tickets include 20% discount at the Cafe yippeee!

 

Walks are easy and leisurely 

Please bring your own yoga mat, an outdoor blanket for the kids will do the trick!

Outdoor clothing and comfortable layers

Where: Sunnyside Rural Trust, Hemel Food Garden, Two Waters Road, Hemel Hempstead, HP3 9BY 

 

Wild Yoga

Hold onto your unicorns, Wild Yoga is back with a bang! The usual hush hush experiential outdoor yoga experience from Yoga Atelier is celebrating its second birthday in a secret location to unplug and this special one off at Hemel Food Garden.

Join us on your Wild Yoga adventure

Saturday 26 May

10:45am-12:15

90mins

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Kids aged 10-16  

Ticket entitles you to 20% discount at the Cafe!!

Where: Sunnyside Rural Trust, Hemel Food Garden, Two Waters Road, Hemel Hempstead, HP3 9BY early

Walks are easy and leisurely 

Please bring your own yoga mat

Outdoor clothing and comfortable layers.

Please arrive 10mins early

Teeny Trees Yoga Taster

Pack your adventure and picnic blanket! We will we move, balance and create fun yoga games and stories together, all in the beautiful outdoors! Come along to this parent and child yoga exploration session for all the family, and wander and wonder at the world around us….  

Saturday 26 May

9:30am-10:15am

45mins

Kids aged 3-10

all tickets includes 20 % discount at Cafe!!! YIPPPPPEEE!!

Children will need to be accompanied by an adult throughout the session

Please bring a blanket.

Where: Sunnyside Rural Trust, Hemel Food Garden, Two Waters Road, Hemel Hempstead, HP3 9BY

Please arrive 10mins early