It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas!

 
Jessica Dewar Yoga_7 Days of Christmas Giveaways
 

As I write this I’ve just received even more emails from local businesses who are putting their hands up to help contribute to our end of year Christmas Charity Yoga Event.

There have been key sponsors that have supported us from the beginning and it is with a grateful heart that I thank each and every one of those businesses / those people who have believed in us and our cause.

I’m in my office with a snoring Lola beside me, trying to get myself organized for the end of year and start of 2018. Looking at the table I just drafted, I am overwhelmingly excited to share that not only is our Christmas Charity Event raising money for Animals Australia (a charity very dear to my heart), but we have some incredibly awesome prizes to give away that morning!

Here is the list of prizes that our students can win!!!

  • 2XU Camberwell are giving one lucky winner a pair of their premium compression leggings.
  • Elevation Floatation are giving away a luxury 4-Float Pack as well as two blissful single Float Sessions.
  • The Petal Provedore are giving away one of their signature flower arrangements.
  • Village Cinemas are giving away 2 x Gold Class tickets and 2 x regular cinema movie tickets.
  • The Source Bulk Foods Camberwell is giving away a Vegan Hamper packed with all sorts of goodies!
  • Coltivare is giving away a gift voucher to use in their gourmet fruit and veg shop at The Well.
  • Stretch Now are giving two lucky winners a organic cotton yoga bolster to inspire practice at home.

That's over $1000 in prizes to give away!!!

I’m absolutely blown away by how supportive these businesses have been of our little studio and dreams for a kinder world.

For students to win these prizes we have decided to create the 7 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS GIVEAWAY!

In the 7 days leading up to our Yoga @ The Theatre: A Christmas Charity Event, students have the chance to win a prize every day!

All students will need to do is:

1)   Register for the Yoga @ the Theatre: A Christmas Charity Event

2)   Tag 3 friends

Entries will close at 11.00pm each day and winners will be announced the following morning at 8.00am. One entry per person per day. All prizes will be given out at the event.

Our first day of Christmas will start this Friday, December 8th, 2017. Be sure to keep a look out on both Instagram and Facebook!

Sending big, excited hugs to you all,

Jessica xxx

Be responsible. It's not that hard.

 
Jessica Dewar Yoga_Lola Eye Operation_28 Nov 2017 (1)
 

I’m having one of those really angry and disappointed at humanity days. I try not to have them too often, and generally always look for the good in people, but today has gotten the best of me.

As I write this post my little girl, Lola, a rescue pug, is undergoing yet another operation to try and improve her eyesight. Whilst this is a good thing, and we are praying for a good outcome, I just feel so angry that she has to go through this awfulness. That she has spent her life in pain because she was failed repeatedly by humans. Lola’s vision loss was avoidable. Had she been cared for the way she, and every other animal on the planet deserves to be cared for, this would not of happened. But instead, Lola has been used up as a puppy mill dog until ditched to the kerb because her breeding days we over. She has since been palmed off from person to person – none of whom actually cared enough to notice she was suffering.

I get so frustrated when people look at Lola and comment on how cute she is, that they too want a pug, a puppy, a rescue etc. I think to myself – is an animal just a toy to you? A toy until it suddenly has needs and then it becomes a burden, left to fend for itself? Do you have any idea how much care animals need? From basic care such as good food, clean water and affection, to exercising and vet bills? I read a study recently that said the average dog costs about $25K in their lifetime and I think – do you have this money to put towards your dog? Little Lola has cost us almost half this in just nine months – but we were prepared to take on the health costs if it meant helping Lola to have a happier and healthier future. This is a lot of money! Money we certainly didn’t plan on spending, or have for that matter, but the reality is, as responsible dog owners, we were prepared to find the money because she is our responsibility. And we will do whatever it takes to help her (or any animal).

Having spent a lot of time with vets these past few months, the collective agreement has been that no person should own a pet if they cannot adequately care for it. Vets have shared horror stories with me, stories that keep me awake at night wondering how people can be so downright thoughtless, careless and detached. Stories that are rarely shared in public because, lets face it, who wants to own up that they’re a terrible pet owner?

Many pet owners seem to have this mentality of – out of sight, out of mind. But whilst this type of person is trying to alleviate their own guilt for having harmed an animal (if they are in any way empathic and not a complete sociopath), the animal is quietly suffering and possibly dying.

People get sucked in by the cuteness of a baby animal that they see in the window of a pet shop (these pups are almost guaranteed to be from puppy mills), then make unintelligent, rash decisions to have a pet. Then all too quickly they lose interest. But don’t worry - the human wont suffer with this loss of interest. But the animal sure as hell will.

So as I sit here anxiously, hoping Lola is OK as they operate on her fragile, damaged eyes, praying she makes it through (recent liver failure makes this a more precarious operation), I’m hoping that this post will hit home for a few people who care to read it and be honest about their intentions for getting / planning to get a pet. It is too late in Lola’s case, and all we can do now is pick up the pieces. But it is not too late for people to make smarter decisions about where their pets come from (puppy mill? registered breeder aka puppy mills? pet shops aka puppy mill supporters? Rescue organization?), if that pet is absolutely right for them and their living situation, and if they’re in this for the long haul.

 
Jessica Dewar Yoga_Lola Eye Operation_28 Nov 2017 (2)
 

Animals should never be a spare of the moment decision. Bringing an animal into our lives should be well thought out, ensuring owners can dedicate the time, energy and money this pet will need over its lifetime.

Ok – enough of a rant from me. I just feel so sad that little Lola is going through this awful procedure which should never have needed to happen if she’d had the right thing done by her in the first place.

Sending prayers to Lola and all the other animals who just need love and kindness.

Love, Jessica xx

P.S. I'll keep you all posted with how Lola goes.

Because we can all do with a little more self compassion

 
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I went to write this blog thinking – “I really should write this about our upcoming Yoga in the Park event as an opportunity to promote these classes. I could write about how I started teaching in a park and the wonderful experience this was.” But then I thought – stuff it. That’s not what I want to talk about today. I want to share with people some of the deeper things I think about. The deeper joys and sadness I feel for humanity and myself. The real stuff that we tend to think about, get angry at ourselves about and feel ashamed to share because by confessing it, it will confirm we are in fact flawed.

So, if you would like to know more about the Yoga In The Park classes we are holding for the month of November – click HERE. We’d love to see you there!

So with that out of the way..

Why is it that we all seem to feel so implicitly flawed? That we are broken in some way? Not good enough. Not skinny enough. Not rich enough. Not popular enough. How is it that we have become so preoccupied with what we look like or who we associate with or what trinkets we possess that we have come to resent who we are? That we have forgotten, or never even got to know, the beautiful souls we are.

I’ve been doing a lot of work on self-compassion these past few weeks. With LOTS of things happening within the business, family dramas – exciting and melodramatic all at once (one can expect nothing less of my family), and personal health matters to address, I’ve been consciously making an effort to slow down and observe. To be a witness to my natural tendencies and those of others and to the language myself and other people use day to day. We can tell so much about a person by they way they hold themselves. How they talk, what they say. How they engage in eye contact, or look away. To practice self-compassion, I have become a more keen observer of myself.

When I look honestly at the areas of my life I would love to change if I had a magic wand, it would be to remove physical pain. I’ve never said to anyone that yoga heals pain. For some, it absolutely does. In my case, it is about pain management. But what I’ve come to notice is when I’m thinking my most negative thoughts, my pain is a hundred times worse. Why? Because I then eat like crap. I get lazy with my practice, how I stand, how I walk. I also fixate on the pain, which will make anything worse. Even if you’re someone without pain, you can create pain if you choose to think about it enough! The reality is, we can manifest whatever we choose to manifest in our lives when enough thought and energy is put into it. This means I need to get a hold of the negative thinking around pain that can be crippling at times. To do this, requires discipline and self-compassion – both of which do not come naturally to someone like me who has grown up with a feeling I am inherently flawed and not worthy.

To reduce pain, my mind needs to focus on and practice activities that will strengthen my body and mind. I must commit to and maintain various daily rituals that will help me to achieve this goal – rituals that are all examples of self-compassion and that I maintain regardless of what others think of me. To name a few:

- Maintain my daily practice but at a slower pace. In an effort to keep up, feel stronger or prove something (to who Jessica?), I tend to push myself a little too hard. So step one here is to pull back.

- To clean up my diet. Lets just say it’s been a bit shit lately and if I continue down this path, weight gain is the least of my worries.

- To stop hyper extending my knees when I stand – this hurts my back, whether I realize it or not. I do this when I’m being lazy. “Don’t be lazy Jessica.”

- To use a trolley for even some of the smallest shopping purchases at the supermarket to take the load of my back carrying uneven weights on either arm.

- To carry less in my handbag.

- To drink more herbal teas.

- To teach fewer classes. This gives me more time to breathe, plan, and relax a little (I’m not the best at relaxing. Thank goodness for yoga!)

- To think more lovingly about my body and my back specifically (this is the toughest one of all for me). To accept my body just as it is – pain, cellulite, freckles and all!

As I get older (and hopefully a little wiser) I’m becoming less and less affected by other people’s opinions of me and more aware that the only opinion that actually matters about myself is my own. So much of my life was dictated by trying to appear as though I had it all together.  No insecurities, no health problems, no financial strains. That I should always have the latest designer handbag, newest car, can dead lift 100kg at the gym because other gym junkies can so I should be able to too… (hello broken back!) That typical keeping up with the Jones’ routine. What a crock! Step one to a more self-compassionate life – LET THAT SHIT GO!

So with that said, I encourage you to have a think about different ways you could be a little more compassionate toward yourself. Life is about you and your life. Maybe write a list like I have, regardless of how insignificant the act may seem. Remember, using a trolley to carry my groceries instead of lugging my groceries to the car is on my list for self-compassion! (I even have my own mini trolley in the car!). And then to really commit to this new, self-loving you, I would love for you to share any items from your list with me in the comments below.

Sharing big, warm, loving hugs with you all.

Jessica xx

My experience with Peter Sanson

 
Peter Sanson _ Jessica Dewar Yoga
 

Today was the final day of a weeklong intensive Mysore Style training with Peter Sanson. One of the original Ashtangis here in the west who lives in New Zealand, it was an honour to be guided by this man.

Training with Peter has been very confronting for me. It has raised many questions – all of which I have no definite answers for – and it has left me with a far deeper expression of compassion toward myself than I’ve ever experienced.

Peter has been practicing in Ashtanga yoga since 1985, so we can confidently assume this man has some phenomenal knowledge. To be in the presence of such a devoted practitioner is something else. We are surrounded by teachers who have completed weeklong teacher trainings and now call themselves yoga teachers – but the reality is, these people could not possibly know what it means to practice let alone teach yoga. And unfortunately yoga centers pumping out these courses are not helping the epidemic of missed opportunity. With back pockets and reputation commonly at the forefront of most teacher training courses (lets not beat around the bush here), these generic courses have sadly become more about the business of yoga. No student can possibly know themselves or what it means to practice yoga in a week, or a month, or even a year. What is yoga to these people? Any fool can get a teacher training certificate in yoga, but it takes something special to actually practice and experience the art of yoga. This man, Peter Sanson, is the epitome of yoga and what it means to live the life of a yogi. Humble, present, skilled, compassionate, genuinely non-judgmental, and excited about the possibilities the practice of yoga can bring each and every day. And this has not been achieved through an express course, I can assure you.

To be under Peter’s skilled eye, over the past week I've felt things I’ve never felt before. Some things good, others not so good. And each day I’ve spent quite some time pondering why I felt a certain way, what it meant, what did I do differently, what could I do differently next time, how does this translate into my life? As you all know, I’ve always considered yoga to be symbolic of how we live our lives and let’s just say my Type A personality was far from concealed from this man. Our first encounter is with Peter’s hands around my waist in preparation for drop backs. The only words spoken are by him and they are cues to guide me through the next posture - “inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale, inhale, drop hands to the floor…. one, two, three, four…. inhale, come up”. Peter told me I was on a mission – he could feel the tension, determination and pride I was holding in my physical and emotional body. It was like I was unconsciously wanting to prove something to him about my capabilities to the point where he almost knew more about me through this single touch than I knew about myself. He could feel the strain I was inevitably causing myself, not so much in my physical body, but in my mind.

 
Peter Sanson _Jessica Dewar Yoga Blog
 

As I drove home from that initial class, my clothes soaked in sweat, my eyes heavy and my body tired, I thought over and over about the comment that I was on a mission. What was I on a mission for? Where was I going? Why did he feel this?

It took asking myself some uncomfortable questions before I came to a possible answer. Whilst I can never know his true intention behind the comment, I chose to seek my own conclusion about what this means for me. That for as long as I can remember I’ve always felt broken, lesser than or not good enough. Chronic pain in my back coupled with sciatica leaves me feeling frustrated and disappointed in my body – on most days. I work hard to feel differently and that is a huge part of my journey, and the reality of it. So when I had the opportunity to be in the presence of such a master of yoga, I felt the need to not only prove to him that I can “do it”, but also prove to myself that I am worthy of being in his presence by “doing it”. Now that was some heavy, neurotic stuff right there! And I’m going to need to sit with this for much longer than a week – more likely the rest of my life – to try and unravel and let go of these feelings. But this is the reality of it. This is what yoga is teaching me, is showing me. These darker parts of myself that I must accept, befriend and keep under control. 

As my week continued with Peter, I worked hard to practice compassion toward myself more and more. I set very high standards for myself and I really need to let that shit go. Because the reality is, yoga is not about how we look in a posture, or achieving a posture. It is about how we feel in a posture. How we experience it and what we clear out of the physical and emotional body in doing so. This is yoga. And I am so grateful to this wonderful man for reminding me of this.

Next time you step onto your mat – let go of the idea of what yoga should be, and just let it Be.

Big hugs and so much love,

Jessica xx

Photos courtesy of @AshtangaYogaMelbourne, @tinainserra, Peter Sanson

Looking Up

 
Jessica Dewar Yoga
 

I spend as much time as I possibly can outdoors. Even if it’s the middle of winter, I like to sit outside, rugged up and admire the environment that surrounds me. About ten years ago, around about the time I was massively struggling with anxiety, a dear friend pointed out that I walked with my head down. That I never looked up. He was right. It wasn’t that I was intentionally trying to avoid my surroundings, I just didn’t realize my natural tendency had become to look down. I was shying away from the world. For whatever reason, I consciously or unconsciously felt the need to make myself small.

Ever since that day, I have always made a conscious effort to look up when I walk. To admire the birds that sit on the branches above me, to appreciate the sheer enormity of the trees and the cloudy or crystal blue skies that are their backdrop. I will never forget on that very day when I began to lift my gaze high rather than keep it low, how immediate my appreciation for life became. How grateful I was for the beauty I was surrounded by yet for years had failed to truly see. My perspective on life shifted in an instant. It is for this very reason, I have become a lover of the outdoors. I work outdoors when I can (I’m writing this blog in my back garden), I exercise outdoors and I will often meditate outdoors. To be among nature relaxes my mind and lifts the worries from my shoulders because it reminds me that the possibilities of life are endless. I just need to have the courage to be open to them.

Because of my love for the outdoors, and as the weather is just so lovely and is only going to get better, I thought it would be wonderful to practice yoga outdoors. To give all the students of Jessica Dewar Yoga an opportunity to relax among the trees. As such, I’m super excited to announce we will be hosting a weekly Yoga in the Park class at two separate locations throughout the month of November.

Barkly Gardens, Richmond

&

Edinburgh Gardens, North Fitzroy

Classes will all run simultaneously (including our regular studio classes) at 9.30am from 4 November – 25 November.  Should you like to get involved, be sure to sign up via the timetable page. There is no limit to the number of students who can attend but we do ask students register just like any other class.

If there is anything I have learned over the years, it is how important it is to take time to just be present with nature. We can learn so much from these experiences when we do.

Big hugs to you all and I hope to see you all at Yoga in the Park next month!

Jessica xx