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back2basicsliving

How important is the space you live in to your health & happiness?

We absolutely love our apartment. It’s our little haven from the outside world. To many it would not seem like much, it’s small, old, the floorboards creak, the bathroom is 1970’s pink, the kitchen is the size of a wardrobe & we can hear our neighbours’ conversations through the paper-thin walls. Lol!!

So how could we possibly love a place where there seem to be so many faults? Easy, we have made it our own, keep it tidy & have worked darn hard to get it. When we arrived in Vancouver 9 years ago, we had nothing, only the bags we brought on our backs. A true immigrant story. All the clothing we had was inappropriate for a Vancouver winter which was unusually cold that year, it took us between 8 weeks & 3 months to find work in our fields. We had very little money left by the time we got work. We lived on a shoestring budget for years. We quickly learned the value of our money & how hard we had to work to get the money we needed for rent, food, transport & life.

Going through the above experience was very difficult at times & extremely frustrating as we moved to Canada for a better standard of living than at home and we didn’t see it. Now 9 years later we are finally getting there. My Aunt Kathleen, who lives in California once told me that it takes 10 years at least to set established in a new country. At the time I thought she was mad but now I agree.

We went through career changes, we got married, we had a baby, we lost family members, we went back to school, we took on new courses…. all of these events affected us financially which meant we had to sacrifice in other areas. Where we saved money was rent on our home. We live in a one-bedroom apartment in Kitsilano, a seaside area in Vancouver, which has the feeling of a small town.

Location was an important factor when it came to deciding where we were going to live. We are 2 blocks from the most beautiful seaside with mountain views. We can walk to the beach every day for fresh air, this is what we wanted, nature & beauty on our doorstep.

We absolutely love the location of our home & truly believe it has a massive positive effect on our health. Last night was a restless night with the baby, a nice cold fresh walk down by the beach for an hour really helps with lack of sleep & puts everything in perspective very quickly.

Besides the location of our apartment, I believe the interior of the home can have a huge impact on your health & wellbeing. For us, a clean & tidy home is essential for clarity and relaxation. Recently we have sold furniture we simply didn’t need so we could create more space. We love our less cluttered apartment now. We also have cleared out everything we don’t need or want; we are surrounded by the things we love & need. There are no “junk” drawers or cupboards. Honestly having organised cupboards, wardrobes, closets, drawers & files is so rewarding. In addition, everything remains tidy because we have a place for everything & at the end of the day things are placed where they should be, nothing can get lost this way which avoids time spent looking for things!

We find our home to have a calming effect when we walk in the front door. We have decorated it to our taste & style which works for us. Knowing how hard we had to work to get our apartment & have the luxury to live where we do, its easy to focus on all the positives of our place and ignore the items listed in the first paragraph.

Nowhere will ever be perfect but by keeping your home clean & tidy and surrounding yourself with what you love will definitely have a positive effect on your mental health.

Take a look around each room and see what you love and don’t love. Take your time to remove/replace the unloved items to create space, we need space for creativity & a focused, calm mind.

Create your own little oasis which doesn’t have to cost much, maybe a good clean & purge is all you need to do……it worked for us;-) Oh and brilliant white walls did wonders for our small space. So bright & uplifting.

In Summary, the space where you live doesn’t have to be a mansion or penthouse suite, it can be a 1970’s one-bedroom apartment which you adore by having only what you need & love. Surrounding yourself with love, space & the essentials creates clarity, calmness and relaxation. Therefore, I truly believe your space has a massive effect on your mental health & happiness.

Wishing you all the best.

Chat soon,

Theresa xxx

Preparing To Teach A Yoga Class: What I Have Learned Since Completing YTT

I would like to start with a caveat, I am a yoga teacher, not a yoga teacher trainer and I am still relatively new to teaching (18 months) but I would like to offer what works for me.

I completed my 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training (YTT) at Semperviva in Vancouver in 2018 and since then added a 16-hour module with Julia Doty and a 40-hour Vinyasa module with Clara Roberts Oss. I highly recommend Sempervivas YYT program.

As part of our final assessment during YTT we were required to prepare a full class which was the first class I thought in a public setting at YMCA in Downtown Vancouver. I have since joined the team at Just Yoga on Broadway instructing Power Flo every Saturday morning at 10:45.

For me, the key is keeping it simple (hence the name of our website). I never teach complicated classes which are difficult to memorise or talk students through.

For the first year or so I would never teach a class without having a flashcard close by for reference, I have since moved away from that as my confidence grew but I recommend having your sequence on a flashcard and placing it somewhere you that you can refer to it at a glance until you are completely comfortable with what you are teaching. It has happened to me many times where I had to discreetly look at my written sequence while the class was in a resting pose. Nobody noticed, and nobody cares if they do notice.

I teach the same overall structure in every class. The poses vary but the overall structure is the same. Two or three waves (check out Clara Roberts Oss Vinyasa module if you are interested in learning more on wave theory), each wave consists of lunge poses, core / neutral poses and warrior poses. It is repeated to a total of two or three waves with a warm-up before, maybe a peak pose and a cool down.

If I have included a peak pose I break it down in different ways. What muscles are going to be working? I look at the pose from different angles, literally just turning an image of the pose sideways and upside down to see what poses are similar. I make sure the sequence builds up to this peak pose, working towards it, preparing the body.

I don’t always include a peak pose, sometimes I will give a rounded class, other times I will focus on a particular muscle group.

One of the greatest tools I have found for preparing a yoga class is Tummee. It costs $69.95 / year but is worth every penny. Tummee allows you to put together a class by placing an image tile for each pose. You can see a summary of your class and browse through thousands of poses and save your classes. It also makes it easy to revise your classes beforehand. I don’t think I’ll ever be the teacher who wings a Yoga class, many do I am sure and if that works for you, great.

I usually use one of two playlists I have. I enjoy classes with no music sometimes but I think I am in the minority of people who prefer that. I will change up the playlists every few months. YTT instructors recommend songs with no lyrics as it can trigger an emotional response. Some of my songs have lyrics but they are in Irish and I am teaching in Canada so I don’t think it is an issue. Just be careful with your music choice and the potential response it can evoke.

When I have my class created I revise it in a few different ways. I have each stage written on a flashcard and recall each pose as I draw the flashcards in order at first then I mix it up. I also sometimes use an app called Quizlet which is free and works the same way as flashcards.

My final prep method which works great is to recite each stage and pose into the voice recorder on my phone and listen to it as I drive or cycle to work. The only challenge is getting past my incredibly boring voice. I leave a space of a few seconds before each pose giving me a chance to recall and actively listen rather than passively listening and zoning out. We learn much quicker and retain more information when we are forced to recall rather than just actively listen to something.

I have probably thought 70 or 80 pubic classes now and I have never gotten lost or messed up without being able to easily recover for two reasons. I keep it simple and I practise. I repeat the sequence over and over until I know my class inside out. You can never be over-prepared and you will reach a comfort level where you know how much prep time is enough.

Every time I create a new sequence I practise it myself to make sure it flows nicely and to make sure the level of challenge is appropriate. The one thing I find difficult when I practise myself is the timing, I am always quicker than I teach when I practise solo, much quicker. I got used to the timing and am at the point where I can slow things down, speed things up or take a pose out of the class if I need to.

I really enjoy teaching and I hope that the people who take my classes enjoy it too. I want to take yoga to people who think it is not for them (Me 10 years ago). I hope that this helps some of you out there who are thinking of taking YTT or who have recently taken it to spread the goodness of yoga.

It’s not just about the postures, it is a way of life.

Peace,

George

 

Useful Links:

Semperviva Yoga

Julia Doty Profile

Clara Roberts Oss Website

Blog on the first public class I thought

Rob Lee YMCA Website

Just Yoga Website

Just Yoga Class Schedule.

Tummee Website

Quizlet App

40 Hour Vinyasa Module blog

 

My Current Yoga & Meditation Routine: How it has Changed Since Baby

Before our pregnancy I had a regular yoga practice, averaging between 3-4 classes per week. Mornings would always begin with a meditation session and some light stretches before breakfast. How does this compare to my current routine? It simply doesn’t. I have not been attending any yoga classes and a regular meditation time in the morning is not possible at this stage of my baby’s life. Do I miss yoga and a regular meditation practice, yes, so much.

My body is so tight, especially around the neck & shoulders. They are working hard holding the baby and breastfeeding. I miss the regular morning meditation because I love routine and this practice helped ground me every morning before I would start my day. My mornings start very different now and will remain this way for the next few months. I wake at 5:30 am to feed baby and then we get up. I make the bed, open the windows and curtains (even when dark outside), wash my face with a warm face cloth and prepare breakfast. This is the new routine and has been for months. Baby then naps on me for about 2 hours while I read and listen to audiobooks. I have to say the mornings are one of my favourite parts of my day. However, I don’t get time to sit undisturbed in a seated position to meditate or stretch.

Moving forward I want to incorporate meditation in my routine, I plan to fit it in just before I start reading. I am not in a seated position or lying down…my posture is terrible, to be honest. However, I’m still and I won’t be disturbed, I don’t have to worry about baby as she is sleeping on me. I have started a 40-day meditation challenge. I don’t want to use the excuse of not having time for it, which is kind of true. I don’t have time to sit undisturbed on a cushion for 20 minutes ever. However, if I just alter my way of thinking and use my downtime in the morning while baby naps on me it will work just fine.

The above picture is how I meditate now, noise-cancelling headphones, baby & me

When our baby was a couple of months old, I got to go to 6:00 pm yoga on a Wednesday however her schedule has changed and she is going to bed earlier. I cannot make the 6 pm classes anymore. There are no classes that fit my schedule right now. Therefore, I am not attending any yoga classes. Even though I miss my practice so much, I know this is just temporary and I will be back in no time. I’m trying to be easy on myself as there is no rush to have my life back to the way it was, it may never go back but I don’t want to add stress just to say “I’m back to yoga”, my baby needs me more right now.

The one thing I look forward to every day is my walk. Around 11 am each day we go for a walk regardless of the weather. This is my new meditation. I usually walk by myself while babe sleeps in stroller. I find the fresh air & movement so calming. I use this time to think and let my mind wander. It is a stress-free environment once the baby falls asleep. I just love walking under the trees or by the beach. Sometimes I’ll buy a tea and a treat. This is me time. I’m grateful for it every day.

I suppose what I am trying to express is that I realise I am not practising yoga; I miss it but I am giving myself a break and not stressing over it as I know it is temporary. It may be another 6 months or a year before I get my practice back but that’s ok. I believe we can be very hard on ourselves. We try and be everything at once when we should just be. We should slow everything down, free up our schedules as much as possible to have time to ourselves. Go for long walks while baby is asleep in the stroller, when baby naps don’t feel bad you have spent 2 hours reading and resting.

Yoga will be there for me when it is time to go back. In the meantime, to help with my tight body I have booked monthly massages and I want to fit in 10min of stretches a day even if I have to do them with baby on the floor. My meditation will hopefully get back to a daily practice.

 

Thanks, so much for reading,

 

Chat soon,

 

Theresa

 

Reactivity – Don’t Let Your Automatic Actions Control You

In this world of over-stimulation, my nature is reactive. It always has been, even before we had so much visual input and interruptions in our lives my first instinct was always to lash out before I stopped to consider. It begins inside, like a spark which triggers an instant movement, thought or feeling which is usually, immediately followed by an action with no thought. There is no space between the trigger and the reaction.

This space is important. There is great power in this space. Imagine the great tragedies which could have been prevented if people stopped to think instead of reacting immediately?

Quick action does indeed have a place in the world but so does thought and deliberateness.

How do we go from trigger-feeling-reaction to trigger-feeling-pause / think-reaction? We need to create and cultivate space to allow it to expand, grow and develop.

It’s just like decluttering your desk or tidying your home. It can be achieved in different ways but the end goal is to give your mind space to sit down and think about what to do next.

And just like decluttering your home or your desk, take the time to notice the work that needs to be done. Where is the clutter?

Let everything settle and listen to yourself. You will soon see where the issues are, where the cleanup work needs to start. It is like taking all the obsolete information off your computer’s hard drive. What burdens do you need to carry and what can you put to one side or drop completely?

I sometimes find it useful to just sit with my thoughts, almost like the opposite of meditation, I set a timer and sit. I do not allow myself to move or interact with anything but let my mind wander. I let it go where it goes and interact with the thoughts as much as I wish. It helps me see where my worries are and where the internal housekeeping is needed. This can show up in the form of unfinished tasks, worries which have been weighing on my mind or someone I need to contact. The best way to clear them away is to act on them, immediately. If that’s not possible, then schedule a time. This will help create the space.

I will not go into meditation on this blog as we have both written on it before but I cannot recommend it enough. It has changed my life and helped create the space I need for calm, consideration and right action. Have a look at the bottom of the post for some blogs we have written on meditation.

Just like the unfinished tasks I mentioned, unhealthy habits will fill space also. Too much screen time, too much artificial stimulation, bad diet. When I talk about filling the space, I do not mean taking up your time, your time is important but what I mean is bad habits taking up space in your mind. Filling your quiet space with additional unimportant information or data which cannot be cleared out without deliberate action.

It is when we reach a point of no capacity that we no longer have the objectivity to stop and analyze.

We all have bad thoughts (at least I hope I’m not the only one) whether it be anger towards a stranger, judgement towards someone we know nothing about based on their appearance, impatience, selfishness or whatever arises at the time.

These thoughts do not define who we are. It is what we do with these thoughts that defines us. It is how we react and act on our thoughts and impulses that shows who we are as people. We can only be judged by our actions. Someone cuts me off in traffic and I have an urge to honk and pull up alongside them to extend the all useful middle finger and wave it in their direction.

The impulse is there, but so is the choice. I have the choice of whether to act on that impulse or not. If I do not have that space or use that space, I will not make that choice, I will simply keep going and do what automatically happens. I will become a slave to my automatic self.

I am still a victim of my own reactivity, I recently tore one of my favourite hoodies apart just because I did not pause and consider. Incidents like this happen much, much less now but what this shows me is that I still have to work on creating, maintaining, seeing and using that space. You can read my blog on my anger issues if you are interested.

Working on creating this space allows me to take the time and pause before I react. The reaction can be intentional rather than automatic. The feeling, impulse or thought will pass quickly, within a couple of minutes then it will be forgotten but if I act on it I will carry it with me.

Here are a few simple tips to cultivate, maintain and use that space. I hope it helps.

  • Spend time with your thoughts. Search for what needs to be cleared out.
  • Meditate daily to cultivate and maintain the space.
  • Use the space: Stop and examine the feeling or impulse. Think.

Let me know if you have any feedback or if you find yourself in a similar situation to me.

Peace,

George

 

Links:

How can we put down the burdens we carry?

meditation-challenge-40-day-sadhana-your-habits-define-you

a-daily-meditation-practice-make-it-work-for-you

meditation-it-takes-two-minutes

how-i-overcame-my-anger-issues

 

 

 

 

Cover photo by Javardh on Unsplash

Photo by Jez Timms on Unsplash

Photo by Samantha Gades on Unsplash

Photo by Simon Migaj on Unsplash

Photo by Keegan Houser on Unsplash

A Review of the Early Purchases for Baby: What we Loved & What didn’t Work for us

Our baby is 4 months old now, officially out of the newborn phase. We have had 4 months to try out all the items we purchased for this stage of our child’s life. Some items we would highly recommend, others we would not. There were also unexpected purchases we made after the baby’s arrival which we couldn’t live without.

In our previous blog, we described & listed the items we bought for babe. We chose minimal items which were nicely designed for apartment living (we live in a 1-bedroom apartment), all the items we chose were based on a blog I had read while pregnant when we were travelling in South America. Our source was from www.600squarefoot.com. We sourced almost everything second-hand on Facebook market place for a fraction of the cost. Go check out our previous blog here.

Item Verdict
Bugaboo Stroller We love this stroller, its compact & perfect for city walks. Especially love the fleece sleeping sack for the colder weather. Babe loves it too & sleeps so well when we go for a walk. We have not gone off-roading with this stroller yet. The real test will be when we go home to Ireland for 6 weeks in December. Lots of different terrains to test it out there. We are hoping to continue using this stroller if we have a second baby.
Luna Leaf Chair Our morning routine is after babe is fed, she will sit in her chair for about 30min chewing on her mini flamingo, Florence;-) She loves that chair and it’s her favourite place to poo. We use it as a safe place to strap her in for a few minutes when we need to prepare lunch etc.…. We love the chair, its heavy, durable & sways.
Monte Bassinette This bassinette is a beautiful design. Its light and can be moved around easily. It rocks which is so great when babe needs a little rock to get back asleep. The edges are soft which works well for our babe as she likes to wiggle her way up to the top of the bassinette all the time! We would definitely purchase another one of these if we have another baby.
Ergo baby carrier with newborn insert The baby carrier I was never a fan of, I preferred placing the baby in the stroller instead when we go walking. My body gets more of a rest when the baby is in the stroller than when I have to carry her. George is the main person who uses the carrier and we really don’t use it that much. Our preference is placing the babe in the stroller when we are out and about. She seems to prefer the stroller too.
Wrap sling We both hated the wrap sling, pain to put on and the baby just didn’t like it. This is something we would not purchase again. Just not our thing…. I’ve been told though to try different types so never say never. Maybe if there is a next time, I would try a sling that avoids wrapping.
Maxi Cosi Car seat This car seat has not been used much as a car seat as our babe HATED going anywhere in the car up until a month ago. So, we primarily used this as her stroller at the beginning. We bought maxi Cosi adaptors for the bugaboo stroller as babe did not like the stroller at the beginning. She preferred sitting in the car seat as it was more supportive. She is now getting too big for the car seat so we have swapped out the car seat for the proper stroller chair. The Maxi Cosi car seat was great, however, we will only get a few more weeks out of it before we need to upgrade. Next time maybe we will try out a car seat that is for all ages……I think there is such a thing?

 The unexpected items which we bought that we couldn’t live without were:

Air-con unit: Our baby was born June 30th and the weather here in Vancouver gets hot during the summer months. Unfortunately, very few residential buildings here have air-con! We are both Irish and do not do well in the heat! Lol! The apartment is south facing so it gets pretty warm. We bought the air-con unit and placed in the bedroom to have a constant temperature for the baby. It was great because then I did not have to worry if the baby was too hot.

Dyson air purifier and fan: The last 3 years in Vancouver we have had bad smoke from forest fires. The air quality was terrible. We invested in a Dyson fan & air purifier if the smoke came this year. Thankfully we had no smoke this year but we used the fan constantly in the living area all summer. It was great.

Deep freeze freezer: This was the most unexpected item we needed to purchase. Our fridge freezer does not have a deep freeze. For the first 3 months, while breastfeeding babe, I had so much milk that both boobs leaked at the same time while feeding. As babe was attached to one boob, I have a suction pump on the other boob collecting the extra milk. We stored all the extra milk in special breastmilk bags and placed in the deep freeze. Now we have lots of extra milk for when I need to go out and about without babe.

Breast suction pump: As mentioned above from day one after babe was born both boobs produced milk while feeding. Our midwife recommended the “Haakaa pump” which collects all the extra milk and no further pumping is required. It was the best $20 we spent. So happy to have a reserve of breastmilk in the freezer. It means I don’t have to pump and gives me more freedom.

Overall, we were extremely happy with the items we bought before the babe arrived. We intentionally bought as little as possible to see if it would be enough. We didn’t feel like we needed anything else. We are now at the stage where babe is getting too big for bassinette & car seat so these will be new upgrades we will have to make; this is why we didn’t buy new as she has grown out of things already. She is sitting up too so a high chair will be needed soon. We will be swapping out the bassinet for a crib, her Luna Chair for a high chair & maxi cosi for a larger car seat. Hoping to source the next phase of stuff second hand also, however, I’m finding it hard to find time to get out and about to shop/collect. The pull of online shopping & delivery is very appealing as it is so convenient. Let’s see what happens.

We hope this was helpful.

Chat soon,

Theresa xxx