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yoga – back2basicsliving

Exploring what it means to have a soul & how to take care of it

Over the past few years, I have been reading a lot more books on spirituality. Exploring the areas of looking inward, being mindful, finding joy in the every day, expressing gratitude, living simply, & more recently praying. The soul is often mentioned in my readings & it is an area I’m looking to expand my knowledge & understanding. Below is my understanding of what the soul is and how we can do small things every day to take care of it. My understanding comes from all my readings & the practices I do every day to help care for my soul.

The word soul is often combined with the mind & body to make up the entirety of a person. The soul is a part of us. But what is it? The mind and body are easy to recognise, the soul, however, is surrounded by mystery. The soul seems mythical, we cannot prove it is there. When I think about my soul, I have to use my imagination to help create visions of what I believe it is. The soul for me is the absolute good in everyone. The light that burns inside each one of us. This light can be shown in the love we have for our family, friends, pets, art, & work. It is the hope that drives us through hard times. It’s the belief in the greater good. It’s the trust we have in humanity & ourselves to eventually do the right thing. It’s the strength & grace that helps us through grief. It is our love for our environment & all the creatures in it. The soul shines in many different ways. It is eternally with us and lives on when we die. Where it goes is a mystery.

Our souls are all connected, unifying every being and making us one. Our actions have a direct impact on others & our environment around us. If you smile at a person, 99% of the time the person will smile back. Our actions & inactions don’t just affect us, they affect everyone. It is said that when a butterfly beats its wings in Japan it can cause a storm somewhere else. Care for our soul is vital as it has an effect on everyone else. We need to look internally and see who we can become, we need to work on ourselves to uproot the weeds of greed, anger, jealously, & fear. We need to plant the seeds of gratitude, hope, care, compassion & kindness. This involves personal reflection, mediation & action.

It is hard to prove the soul exists as it cannot be proven by science, there are no facts to describe the soul. Feelings & emotions are how we describe the presence of the soul. We can tell if a person has a soul by looking into their eyes, there is where you will see zest for life. The eyes are often described as the windows to our soul. A statement we often hear in the music industry is when an artist has a soul. For me, when I hear this, I think this person is authentic, living & breathing their art their way while being a kind & unassuming person. Soul food is wholesome simple food prepared & cooked with love. A meal prepared with love requires the presence of mind and attention to detail which exudes through the meal and fills the bellies of the guests with joy, comfort & appreciation.

The soul is the part of us that feels all the emotions, good and the bad. It may seem like sometimes it feels like we have no soul. We feel down & depressed, devoid of hope & happiness. However, the soul is always with us. It always remains we just have to care for it. Going through hard times is normal & a good challenge for the soul. It is natural for us to go through tough times in our lives, the soul needs to experience the downs as well as the ups. We appreciate the good times all the better because of our daily little struggles. So how do we care for the soul?

It’s very simple, care for it every day by small gestures, practices & rituals to make your day a more fulfilled & pleasurable experience. Think about how you start your day, do you give thanks for a new day, the gift of life for another 24 hours? How about listing 3 things you are grateful for in your life every morning. Do you love a cup of tea or a mug of coffee in the morning? How about drinking your favourite warm drink from a beautiful cup, waking 10 minutes earlier than everyone to enjoy it alone in silence. Look around your home are you surrounded by simplicity & beauty or do things look a little chaotic? Start by arranging your home in a way that generates happiness. For me it is simply having clean floors by the end of the night, everything in their place and the lights low so I can relax. Taking pride in your home, keeping it clean and welcoming creates a space that is both inviting & warm.

Take the daily chores of everyday life and turn them into a ritual which you know will make you & your family feel better, food for the soul. Don’t underestimate the power of a clean & well-kept home.

Another area we can care for our soul is exercise. A simple walk is great for our health, however, a walk in the park among trees or by the beach is so much better for your soul than walking in the shopping mall. Skip the mall and go outside. Feed the soul.

Take time every day to meditate for 10 minutes, sit and breath & do nothing else. This will eventually lead to a greater understanding of who you are & who you want to become.

Write down your life goals. Don’t let life slip by, have a purpose & work on that purpose every day in a small way.

Read a great book while drinking your favourite tea, or hot chocolate. Get up for sunrise, watch the sunset. Listen to the birds for 1 minute, cuddle your pet, call a friend. Play with your children, be present with them. Learn from your children, be patient.

There are so many small things we can do every day to care for our soul. It doesn’t take much, be present in your life, don’t let it slip by & the soul will be happy. Start with smiling at a stranger every day & see how it makes you feel, gradually add more to your list & I guarantee you will feel so happy……these everyday rituals work but we must do the work. Do the work for you, do it for the planet & do it for all living beings.

 

Thanks for reading,

 

Theresa xxx

 

 

 

Yoga – You Can Achieve More Than You Think

Some of you may know that I’m not the typical yogi. I’m not shredded and the only six-pack I’ve ever had was a six-pack of Guinness or another reputable alcoholic beverage. You won’t see me with a man bun or wearing flowy pants……though I used to have long hair and do wear a poncho on occasion so maybe……

Anyway, I have been practising yoga for about nine years now and teaching yoga for two years.

I love a tough vinyasa class, a class where I will sweat like Christy Moore giving it loads on the Bodhran, if you know what I mean, but I stayed away from crazy intense poses like handstand, headstand, inversions in general. To be honest, I was scared of them. I was scared that I couldn’t do them and that I would fail or hurt myself. Scared of lots of things.

My preference as a teacher is to teach Vinyasa Yoga. That was my goal since I took YTT with Semperviva two years ago. Last year I took a 40-hour Vinyasa add on and landed a regular teaching slot at Just Yoga shortly after that.

I feel I can give a tough class without necessarily having a very challenging peak pose or any peak pose at all for that matter. In my opinion, I have no business teaching a pose unless I can take that shape myself.

Six or eight months ago I had a niggling feeling that I would love to be able to do tripod headstand. This was partly my ego when I saw other men in classes with strong practices but also partly my sense of responsibility nudging at me. I thought that if I want to be a Vinyasa teacher maybe I should be able to offer some inversions in my classes.

The same feeling came over me with handstand about six or seven weeks ago.

If you asked me even a year ago after having taught yoga for a year and having practised for many years if I would ever be able to get into headstand or handstand the answer would have been a solid no.

A wise man once said that hitting the bullseye is the result of a thousand misses, so for tripod I found a really intense but short sequence to build up to it and I practised every day. I definitely missed the bullseye…a lot.

The same was true for handstand. I was always amazed at people able to take a handstand in a yoga class and after I had signed up for Alo moves (an online yoga studio) I found a 31-day handstand routine and thought I’d give it a go.

I remember there were times in both the tripod practise and the handstand practise that I was utterly convinced that I was going nowhere and making no progress with either posture but we don’t call it practicese for nothing.

Practise:

Perform (an activity) or exercise (a skill) repeatedly or regularly in order to improve or maintain one’s proficiency.

For Tripod, it happened by accident. It was winding down time in the office on a Friday and I thought I’d give it a try. What had been agonizing core work for me for a long time – raising my legs to the air with my head on the ground, happened like magic with absolute ease.

With Handstand, even 2 weeks ago, I thought I would never get there but on day 30, when the instructers had been gliding into handstand many days in a row with complete ease,  I managed to get there and hold it for a moment.

Now only a week later, I can get there with little effort. I’m still working with the wall but one step at a time.

“For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them.”
 – Aristotle, The Nicomachean Ethics

The Moral of the story is not that I’m great because I learned to do a handstand, the moral of the story is that I wanted to do a handstand. I doubted myself but tried anyway.

The person who says it is impossible should not interrupt the one doing it

Honestly, the belief did not come until I actually got to where I wanted to go but I did not give up. If you can’t break through the doubt you can ignore it. Keep going, you will get there, no matter what it is, push through, work, practise, every day.

Every time you miss that bullseye it is taking you a step closer to your goal. Every time you miss it is one less time you will miss. It’s one more practise round crossed off your list and one step closer to your destination.

Why do we fall?

So that we can learn to pick ourselves back up

– Batman Begins

Whatever it is you are working on it, keep going.

Peace,

George

Finding Your Passion

Are you one of those people who knew what they wanted to do from the age of 5 and pursued it? Have you always known that one day your passion would become your work or vice versa? I always admired people who knew very early on what they were born to do. For the majority of my life, I had no clue, I wanted to be & do everything. I could imagine myself in every job but just couldn’t figure out that one job that I would LOVE to work at for the rest of my life.

Up until recently (30ish years old) I had no clue but now after many years of study, working and travel I believe I have found my calling. Practising yoga has changed both myself & my husband’s lives. If we could teach full time and earn a living from it this would be our full-time careers but alas that is not possible for us right now. I am not saying we will never do it, it’s just we need to put those dreams & aspirations a little further forward in the future.

Why do I say this? Because we are practical people. We both have steady jobs, a daughter and a lovely lifestyle which we are happy with. We need to invest more time, money and education into our dream before getting there. We are on the path but just at the beginning, we are determined to make our dream a reality but slow & steady wins the race.

We both love teaching & are passionate about the yoga practice. We love the physical aspect of the practice but more so the study & personal reflections it involves. To us, yoga is a way of life, a set of guidelines to live our most authentic & happiest of lives. It has helped us simplify our life and in turn, has created a life which we both feel content & happy no matter what stage we are at. We love the idea of aiming to be the best versions of ourselves & to not let negative emotional or mental boundaries get in our way. We are realists and know that to get to work in an area you are passionate about requires hard work & planning. We are still at this stage but each day we work towards our long-term goal.

Finding our passions didn’t just come to us, we had to search, reflect and work damn hard to be able to find our passions. George had always thought of writing but never thought it was feasible or even possible to ever do that until one day he decided he would write. He made time to write each day. Starting with short stories, which lead to larger stories which lead to a novel…. then another novel. He didn’t give up his day job or run away to some fancy retreat to write, he got up earlier in the morning, he stopped watching TV and he wrote instead. His first novel was accepted by a publishing house in NY city and goes to print this month. Even if it doesn’t sell it’s a huge achievement regardless.

I always wanted to know how to cook but never truly gave myself the time to do so. Then one day I decided to start a blog about cooking (private account), I cooked about 2-3 meals each week at the beginning and documented how they went on my personal blog. I took a vegan cooking course; I began posting meals on Instagram & Facebook. I love cooking and baking and have made time to work on this passion. Hopefully, someday I can combine yoga & cooking and live the dream. Every day gets us closer.

We may not have known our true passions when we were young but now, we do. It took us several years of trying lots of different interests, self-exploration & reflection to find our passions. So if you are thinking “I have no passion”, or you don’t know what you would love to do in your spare time, I say go try anything and keep trying different activities, crafts, courses etc. until you find something you want to work on. Who knows eventually that something may lead to a passion you may never want to stop. Go out there and try.

 

Thanks so much,

Chat soon,

Theresa xxx

Belief Allows Us To Achieve Everything

We often set our sights on a task, something that we want to achieve in life, for example, to take yoga teacher training and teach regular classes. This was certainly not an insurmountable goal but it was not possible without believing it could be done. I am a civil engineer. What business does a civil engineer working in the construction industry have in teaching yoga? That was my thought process but that had to change. I had to believe I would teach yoga.

External circumstances do not dictate the ultimate direction of our lives. We have the power to go where we want to go. We have the power to steer our lives in the direction we want to steer it, we just have to realize that. We can achieve whatever we want to achieve, once we believe it.

Ask yourself. What do you know to be true about yourself? What are your limitations? What holds you back?

Now go back to those questions again. What holds you back? Nothing. There are no limitations. What are you reaching for? If it’s out of reach and you can’t grasp it, then build a ladder.

In other words, do the work.

The material is there for you to build a bridge, build a ladder and climb up and reach for the stars.

You just have to realise it and believe in yourself. The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease for ever to be able to do it.

― J. M. Barrie, Peter Pan

Have you heard of the difference between a fixed mindset and a growth mindset? Fixed mindsets are limited, an example being, “I can’t do this,” whereas you could counter that with a growth mindset by telling yourself, “I can’t do this….yet.” The difference is in the belief that the inability is not permanent. It can be changed and you are in control.

When we praise a child for being smart we are working with a fixed mindset.

We do not succeed because we are good at something, we succeed because we have worked hard to be good at something. The belief that we can and will succeed encourages us to put in the work to eventually get where we want to be. Not because we are good at it but because we have worked hard to become good at it.

Our thoughts control us. We are what we believe we are. If we believe we are kind we will be kind, if we believe we are strong we will be strong. If we believe we can win we will win….eventually.

We need to dig deep to find that inner strength. There are so many layers that we can peel away to access what is buried within ourselves, within our soul, close to where our true selves lie. That is where our true intentions, our true beliefs, our true personality can be found.

There is no fooling that true self. There is no denial and no way to lie to our true selves. That aspect of ourselves will see right through the bullshit because it is sitting there at the back of it all watching.

We can dig deep physically to find that belief in ourselves, but we can also dig deep into thoughts and mind by sitting with ourselves and exploring the silence, looking inward and really seeing where we are at and what we are capable of.

We can achieve what we want to achieve.

We can look deep inside, like searching in a black well of nothingness to find a treasure deep within us which will guide us. That is the true self, it is belief and knowledge in our capabilities.

We want to work, we love to work. We want to sweat and fight and work through the back-breaking, painstaking labour to get to our destination, but why do we do that work? We do it because we believe. We know we can get there.

Peace,

George

 

 

 

Reference:

Useful videos:

The Power of belief — mindset and success | Eduardo Briceno | TEDxManhattanBeach

Related blogs:

Photo Credits:

Photo by Ran Berkovich on Unsplash

Photo by Clark Tibbs on Unsplash

 

My Mindset When I Am Guiding A Yoga Class

I’ve been teaching yoga for a couple of years now. It is only in the last few weeks that I notice my head goes to a different place when I teach.

Maybe it’s like when someone gets in the zone, I don’t know, I’m not sure I’ve ever been in “the zone.”

I find as I walk through the pillars of people as they take the postures I offer, I look, really look at them. The judgement disappears from my mind. It is just me and the practice. There are no assumptions, no background chatter, no fluff spinning around my mind.

It’s a very meditative experience, there is no room for anything else. It is the one chance in the week I get to really focus.

I am fully there, with strength. A different commitment takes over and I am filled with a determination, a drive to give this class my best.

There is neither time nor space for nerves, nor is it necessary if I am properly prepared. I am doing an injustice to those who have shown up if I am not prepared. They have shown up, expecting to have a qualified teacher who can lead them through the class with confidence and purpose.

There is only the now. No past regret, no future indecision, just now. That now is filled with the breath. I stop and ask all of us to listen to the breath. The breath is the most beautiful thing when you teach a yoga class.

There is also great strength in the moment, the strength of the people who have come to class, mental strength which is being carved through a tough rock of turmoil with a blade of calm as I wander through the students standing strong in a balance posture like a great statue in tribute to a long-gone hero.

I don’t really agree with the term “yoga teacher”. We are not actually teaching anything. Yes, we ensure our students are safe and will not harm their bodies but I like to think that we are guides rather than teachers. I don’t have any great wisdom to offer, in fact, I learn through the wisdom and humility of those who I guide through the yoga practice.

If I am the one guiding the class, all that means is that it’s my voice in the room. I have to remind myself that it is not my class, the class is for those who attend. I need to drop the ego and put out what is needed, not what I want to put out.

It is my responsibility as the voice in the room to put out positive energy, even when I struggle. I need to offer a class that serves the people who attend and let go of how I like to practise and serve those who come to be served.

I find it difficult at the end of class to really and truly express the gratitude I feel towards those who attend. It is truly humbling to be given the chance to offer something that helps others and to be enabled to express myself through a practice that has helped me so much through life.

Thank you.

Peace,

George

PS. Theresa and Naoise return from the old country today so we will try to get back to weekly log posts.

Thank you all for reading.