Over the summer I took a trip to Peterborough Cathedral (well actually 2 because the first time we got the date wrong!) to see an installation of a model of the Earth, “Gaia”. It was a fantastic sight especially as the light faded. The 7 meter diameter model gently rotated and was a view of the Earth from space using detailed imagery provided by NASA.
I know we have all seen this stuff on the TV, but to be in the presence of our planet looking up at it and down on it was an incredible experience. Just to see how much water we have on the Earth’s surface was a surprise to me and how tiny the UK actually is.
The model is awe inspiring – it was wonderful to spend time sitting quietly and reflecting on the natural wonders of our world. It made me feel very humble.
On Saturday 14th September 2019 I joined in the 2nd Moonlight Walk of 10 k around Stamford. This was in aid of St Barnabas Hospice in Lincoln. St Barnabas is a very worthwhile charity giving care to people with life limiting or terminal conditions. Besides their palliative care they give vital support to families and those suffering from dementia.
I walked in remembrance of my Dad who died shortly after being diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour a couple of years ago. He lived in France where they have no such hospice availability and my Mum looked after him at home. It was extremely traumatic. I now value the support that the hospice charities give so much. Should the need arise any support you can get at such a dreadful time is worth it’s weight in gold. If you feel able to donate even just £1, please follow the link to my JustGiving page.
I didn’t realise that they are so beneficial to us being high in vitamins C and K and also containing magnesium, potassium and manganese. These contribute to making our bones and heart healthy and to metabolise our food.
Well I always thought they were pretty much all water – in fact they are 96% water – which is still great for us – helping to hydrate us control our weight and regulate our elimination systems.
But besides all this they contain antioxidants, including flavonoids and tannins, which prevent the accumulation of harmful stuff like free radicals which are responsible for things like cancer ad various chronic diseases.
To get the most from eating cucumbers leave the skin on and eat the seeds in the middle.
I’ve grown a bumper crop this year – so we have been merrily tucking in. V healthy indeed. I found this funny rap to remind me of all the possible uses of the humble cucumber…
The focus for our yoga practice this year will be the Elements –
Earth, Fire & Wind
There are actually 5 elements that we experience in all matter and in our bodies – the three above plus Water and Ether – we will save these for next year.
Up to Christmas we’ll have a think about the Earth Element – how it affects our yoga practice and our life in general. Firstly thinking about the earth as a solid and stable base, with a physical practice strengthening the legs, hips and core. We’ll use lunges, wide legged poses and make our bodies into triangles – wide at the base and narrow at the top like the mountains we see naturally occurring (well not in Rutland! but you know what I mean!). We’ll send our thoughts out to the 4 different directions improving our sense of place and connection. We will use the affect of gravity – lifting parts of our body in different ways to challenge the muscles and gain strength.
And we’ll consider how we can apply these stable poses when we feel adrift in our lives – as if someone has turned off gravity and things have gone haywire… We will come to stillness next to the Earth – our ‘Bedrock’, listening quietly for our heartbeat and reflect at how simple ‘Down to Earth’ things can bring us much joy and clarity.
After the half term we’ll apply the strength gained to test our Balance and try out some fancy footwork to enable us to be nimble and tread lightly on our Planet in all our efforts and endeavours.
Our Pranayama will work with the Stepped breath improving the capacity of our lungs and developing subtlety. Working in the 2nd half term towards Savitri Pranayama – the Square breath.
After a very enjoyable break I’m really looking forward to seeing you and getting stuck in with our yoga practice together. See you next week, Deb
A professor stood before his philosophy class with a few items in front of him. When the class began, he wordlessly picked up a very large, empty jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.
The professor then picked up a box of small pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly and the pebbles rolled into the spaces between the golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed it was.
Next the professor picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked again if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous ‘yes’.
The professor then produced two bottles of beer from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar – effectively filling the space between the sand. The students laughed…
‘Now’, said the professor as the laughter subsided, ‘I want you to recognise that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things – your family, your children, your health, your friends and your favourite passions – and if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full. The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house and your car. The sand is everything else – all the small stuff.’
‘If you put the sand into the jar first,’ he continued, ‘there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for your life.’
‘If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you.’
‘Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness.’
‘Spend time with your children. Spend time with your parents. Visit your grandparents. Take your spouse out to dinner. Play another 18 holes. There will always be time to clean the house and mow the lawn.’
‘Take care of the golf balls first – the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.’
One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the beer represented. The professor smiled and said, ‘I’m glad you asked that – the beer just shows you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of beers with a friend.’
Do you get anxious or angry when things don’t go just as you want them to? Do you feel you have to take charge of ‘everything’ or nothing would get done?
Feelings such as these really do cloud our enjoyment of life. They are often termed as ‘control issues’. Sometimes the simplest things make you irritated – say going for a coffee with a friend and the service being a bit slow or on a walk with a loved one and the moment being spoilt by a one-sided diatribe of complaining. These experiences feel like they are so far from the ‘perfect’ idea that you had in mind. But this is life.
Sometimes things don’t go as we planned – but it doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy it. I’ve been learning ballroom dancing over the past couple of years – and it is the most fun when we learn something new and make a few mistakes in the process.
When we complain and are dis-satisfied about ‘inferiority’ or ‘mediocrity’ then we are only letting ourselves down and allowing our perception to cloak a situation in a pessimistic way.
Isn’t every aspect of our lives a matter of perspective? “Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy.” ANNE FRANK, Diary of a Young Girl
We can alter our perspective on situations if we want to –
Don’t think MESSY – think LIVED IN/RELAXED
Don’t think SLOW SERVICE – think CAREFUL LOVING PREPARATION
I read Pollyanna (Eleanor H. Porter) recently – if you haven’t read it, well worth a look – and that has the thread of finding something positive about every situation you face. In fact Pollyanna makes it into a game – which is sometimes fun and often a challenge. Why not give it a go next time you feel like moaning?
LETTING GO OF CONTROL – A MEDITATION PRACTICE
1 Write about 3 recent occasions where you felt anxiety and wanted to take control of a situation or someone else’s behaviour.
2 Now come to a meditation space – seated on a cushion or in a chair. Take a moment to be still and watch the breath for about 5 minutes.
3 Chose one of the situations that you listed. Recall it in detail – especially the feelings. Perhaps a family member moved some cushions and didn’t replace them exactly as you wanted (small things can really get our goat) – what were your feelings?
4 Ask yourself why having things the way you want them is so important… Are you afraid of something? Do you feel that if you lose control you may become powerless? Alone? Abandoned?
There is no right answer – explore the feelings, even if you feel a bit silly now looking at them like this.
5 Let those thoughts go and commit to yourself to ‘letting go’ just a little bit at a time. See that by relaxing your grip (usually) nothing terrible happens. Look for a positive outcome when things are different from your expectations. Be kind and patient with yourself. Most people will have these thoughts at one time or another – you are not alone.
One final thought…
“All that we are is a result of what we have thought.” Buddha
If you are missing your weekly yoga class, why not sign up for the Side Plank Challenge?
I’ve created 3 short video yoga practices to strengthen the arms and the core ready for the Side Plank posture. The first was released yesterday – to get the next 2 please subscribe to the YouTube channel using the red button below the video. You will then get notifications as soon as they are uploaded!
More will be released over the next term… so get signed up!
Nurturing yourself is time well spent – we feel so much better and can spread some of that happiness to our loved ones. Not nurturing ourselves brings the exact opposite…
“Many people have sacrificed themselves for others, thinking when they sacrifice themselves they are being a good person. Wrong! To sacrifice yourself can only come from thoughts of absolute lack, because it is saying, “There is not enough for everyone, so I will go without.” Those feelings do not feel good and will eventually lead to resentment. There is abundance for everybody and it is each person’s responsibility to summon their own desires. You cannot summon for another person because you cannot think and feel for another. Your job is You. When you make feeling good a priority, that magnificent frequency will radiate and touch everyone close to you.”
Taken from ‘The Secret’ by Rhonda Byrne
If you are looking to spend a bit of time on yourself, why not book in for a wonderful morning of yoga on October 19th? We will be at Tinwell Village Hall just outside Stamford for a 21/2 hour workshop based on the theme of Finding the Goddess Within which will be a combination of fitness, fun and reflection.
There’s nothing like a nice smile to set you on your way in the morning or off into a peaceful sleep at night. Why not try this short meditation which focuses on the feeling of a smile…
Settle into a comfortable seated position.
Relax any tension in your jaw, let the lips part and separate the upper and lower teeth.
Without changing your facial expression, imagine the feeling of a smile.
After a few moments, bring that feeling of a smile to your heart and linger there.
Now feel the smile in both lungs and the space in your back between the shoulder blades.
From there, bring that feeling of a smile to your abdominal organs, digestive system and pelvis.
Allow the smile to flow down both legs, through the knees, calves down to your toes.
Allow the smile to spread across the shoulders down the arms, through the elbows, wrists and finger tips.
Feel your whole body as one large, open, radiant, beautiful smile. Resonate with that glow. Feel yourself as the embodiment of a smile, your whole being renewed, reverberating with the presence of a smile. Every single cell is smiling.
Now you can go about your day bringing that lightness and positivity to every situation.
Yoga breathing practices aren’t just for relaxation and helping us to feel calm…
You can literally alter the temperature of your body so that you feel a little more chilled – try it for yourself – it’s easy and may help you to keep your cool in this heat!
If you are able curl up the sides of your tongue to form a tube. Inhale through the mouth – well through you tongue – a feeling of chilled air will hit your mouth and throat. If you find it difficult to roll the tongue then inhale through the teeth – the same effect can be felt.
Draw the breath in nice and slowly, then close the mouth and hold the breath in slightly before breathing out through the nose. Do it 9 times and feel the coolness of the chest.
This practice is known as Sheetali Pranayama – Chill Out and enjoy!