Simple things that I KNOW help me... But I forget to do!

 
 

I’ve been struggling to write lately. I don’t know what that’s about? I’ve been finding myself getting caught up in the busy work of business that I’m not taking time out for just…me. Whilst my morning yoga ritual is a given, there is something profoundly special about journaling or blogging. I tend to get so wound up in my head at times that this space offers me an avenue of letting everything out. Whatever comes to mind. That’s exactly what I’m doing write now. I don’t plan these blogs. Rather, they come as I feel ready to explore whatever is going on for me. And following a busy week and reflecting on why I’m feeling a little more tired than normal, I’ve come to realize a big part of that has been due to not journaling as I regularly do.

I began journaling as a little girl. Before bed each night I would write in the journal that I placed on the bookshelf above my head. I wanted to keep a record of my days and how I felt that day. What I did that day. I dabbled with journaling on and off as I grew up, but I use to get so frustrated when I felt forced to write about my day. I placed pressure on myself to note every single detail of my day because I feared forgetting these memories. Turns out, this is not the most effective way of journaling or blogging. It wasn’t until I gave myself the freedom to just write absolutely anything that popped into my mind - coherent or not, legible or the artwork equivalent of a two year old – that I began to experience the true power and joy of journaling. When I gave myself this freedom, journaling became not too dissimilar to meditation. I was giving my mind a chance to let it all out. The to-do lists, the conversations, the worries, the joys, the what-the-hell-do-I-do-next dead end thoughts… All of it was flowing out onto the page (my preference is a hand written journal), freeing my mind from the mental chatter that it’s so good at holding onto. It is often through this approach to journaling and blogging that I have my most profound realisations – about myself, my relationships, my business… It’s like a thick fog gets lifted every single time I put pen to paper.

So as I write this now, I’m working out (as I go) why I’m feeling a little run down this weekend and I now realize a huge part of this is because I didn’t commit to my regular ritual of journaling every morning. It’s not helpful to get frustrated with myself for this, but I often stop and wonder why I choose not to do the things that I know helps me most – journaling being one of them? I guess we all do this right? With what we eat, drink, when we go to bed, how much exercise we do. I guess this is part of our journey. We just need to make sure we don’t beat ourselves up when we fall off the wagon and instead dust ourselves off and jump back on.

I don’t have any special way of trying to end this post. Whilst proper writing would require a summary or conclusion of some sort – as you all know by now, I’m not a proper writer. Just an honest one who is sharing insights into my life that may or may not interest you. That you may or may not resonate with. If you do – great. If you don’t, oh well. Nothing lost.

I don’t pretend to have all the answers. I’m not sure how to help people out of different ruts we’re get ourselves into. My only suggestion could be to try what I try – and that is to stop, sit, be still and think. Extend the pause and then when you feel ready, write. Anything and everything that comes to mind. There is knowledge from this place.

Turning Yoga From Obligation To Necessity

 
Jessica Dewar Yoga_Svasana
 

If there was one word to describe my practice this morning… lazy. My alarm went off at the usual 3.30am and I grudgingly got up and into my clothes pre-laid out at the end of my bed. I was so annoyed with my practice this morning. My back has been playing up due to the cold, I got to bed late due to no ones fault but my own and I knew I had a busy morning ahead – 6 back to back classes and all before 1.00pm. But, being as strict as I am with my practice, I know it’s important to at least get on my mat. From there, movement will inevitably follow.

I lit my single candle that sits at the feet of Ganesha (the Elephant God) and burned sandlewood incense, which I bring home from Mysore, India each year. My morning ritual had begun. But my usual motivation to move was lacking. As I sat on my mat, I felt a little sorry for myself. I wanted to crawl back into bed and snuggle up to my pillow for a few more hours. I closed my eyes and convinced myself I was meditating but in actual fact I was just falling asleep sitting upright. After a good ten minutes suspended in a state of deep meditation, or deep sleep, I chanted my morning prayer and then stumbled to my feet. Standing at the top of my mat, preparing to take my first inhalation and stretch my arms to the sky in honour of the sun, I felt a sense of dread wash over me. My body was aching for no good reason, my eyes were itchy from being overtired and my mind was far from steady. But whilst everything in my being was drawing me back to my bed, as soon as I began to move, a sense of peace washed over me. A feeling of total safety in the vulnerability of my practice.

The reality is, despite the discomfort of an early practice, every time I step onto my mat I feel like I’ve returned home. The spiritual experience is like no other and every day it looks a little different.

Yoga use to be a practice that I felt obligated to do, and truth be told, I still have those moments of feeling this way – this morning was one of them. But following many existential crisis throughout my life, I’ve become acutely aware of my limited time here which fuels my desire to live a full and meaningful life. So what do I consider to be a full and meaningful life? Simple. It is a life chosen by me, not for me.

So as I step onto my cold mat, still wrapped in my bathrobe as I prepare to raise my arms in salutation to the sun, I take a moment to feel gratitude for choosing to live a meaningful life. For choosing to deepen my connection with myself on every level – spiritual, physical, emotional. I’ve always considered my practice to reflect the sort of person I endeavour to be. Disciplined, sensitive, powerful, and human.

And so whilst my practice may demand of my physical body and of my mind, which can result in a lazy morning practice once in a while, I know to stick with it as it equally nurtures both.

Remaining Inspired - Because We All Need A Little Encouragement

 
Jessica Dewar Yoga Lotus Posture Padmasana
 

I’ve never been precious about the fact that not all students will resonate with me as a teacher. Some people will come to a class of mine and love it, feel connected and that they’re exactly where they need to be whilst others will feel completely out of sorts, uncomfortable and never want to set foot in another class with me again. From the perspective of a student – I get it. I’ve travelled near and far to find my teacher(s). I’m particular about who I practice with and I must feel connected with them and their philosophy toward the practice. Over the years, as I delved deeper into the practice I’ve come to understand that all teachers are different. We tend to expect that going into any yoga class should result in a sensation of complete bliss, connection and calm. Whilst this can be the case, should we not trust or feel connected with our teacher then the experience can be quite the opposite. One of frustration, worry and inadequacy. The reality is, the relationship between a teacher and student will never be egalitarian and so it is crucial we feel this positive connection to ensure we feel supported in our practice and safe to be vulnerable. For it is only when this has been achieved, that we can experience the true benefits of our practice, hence why I’m so particular and why I encourage others to be particular also.

If you’ve ever walked into an Ashtanga Shala/studio, you would know it can be a little intimidating at first. The discipline possessed by these students is admirable and I thrive on being surrounded by it. This morning I was introduced to one of the most wonderful Ashtanga teachers who too practices in Mysore. I connected with her immediately and felt right at home in her presence. Tick!

Her calm, soft demeanor makes her so approachable and yet there is a strictness that one would never question or disobey. I respond well to this type of teacher as it forces me to remain focused. There is no time for my mind to wander. I am here, in the moment and connecting with each and every breath. Considering I teach most 6.00am classes at the Jessica Dewar Yoga studio, I am restricted with my ability to train with other teachers. Recently I have been granted this freedom and since training under the guidance of an expert, my personal practice has been revitalized. As I maintain a self-practice at home 6 days a week, it can be difficult to progress without the guidance of another. It is also very challenging to maintain motivation to continue with a strong practice. And I know I’m not alone when it comes to motivation. Whilst I have my morning rituals, that I would never neglect, I’ve recognized that I’m becoming stagnant in my practice. That I’m not moving forward as I would like – and I know this is because I don’t have someone assessing how I move and helping me to push the boundaries.

Well – this morning those boundaries were pushed. Full body-to-body adjustments, forcing my hips open, my spine to lengthen and my breath to come under control – I came out of my practice feeling reinvigorated. Excited to learn the new boundaries I’ve just reached. I can only be with my new teacher once weekly, but I achieved more today that I have in the past two months since returning from India.

Many new students come to our studio with similar concerns around motivation and a lack of progression. As I maintain with each of them, I believe two things to be true:

  1. Making time to come into a sacred space once a week, and really dedicate that time to themselves without other distractions is important for mental clarity, inspiration and learning.

  2. Maintaining a personal practice where the principals learned in class are then applied at home is key to progression.

I do not believe anyone should feel tied to a Shala/studio, but rather know that our space is there to support students as they deepen their self-study and to reinvigorate their practice also – just as I know my teacher’s space will be there for me when I can be with her. At the end of the day, we are all human and sometimes motivation does dwindle. So make some time in your diary to step into a class and/or get on your mat, be present in the moment and just Be. There is only good that can come from this place.

Sending big, positive and invigorated hugs to you all,

Jessica xx

Committing Without Commitment

 
 

We run a pretty incredible operation if you ask me. Sure I might be biased, but when I look at the people who come to our space and the incredible teachers we are fortunate enough to have teaching with us; I know we have something pretty special going on…So what are we missing?

What is it about a donation-based studio that keeps some  people from a consistent practice regime? I can’t help but wonder if this type of model actually does the opposite of what I have hoped. My making yoga accessible to everyone, with little to no monetary commitment and no contractual obligations, does it in fact keep people from maintaining a regular practice as it’s “always there when I want it”.

When there is a monetary commitment, we notice a trend with attendance: Students attend more regularly. Why is this?

Is it because they have psychologically committed to their practice through making a financial commitment and so they follow through with the commitment of actually attending classes? Is the incentive to keep coming back to get their ‘moneys worth’? Yet on the flipside if we have the option of only paying a donation when and if we attend a class then it’s easier to just ‘book in’ and not attend. The drive to keep consistent appears to be less.

I’m an Ashtanga practitioner and so my practice demands that I practice daily. To attend my Shala in India, I must also pay a hefty lump sum in cash prior to commencing my month or more of practice. There is strictly no ‘drop-in’ classes. You commit and that is that.

Whilst I’m mindful we don’t live in a society that facilitates this type of practice, I wonder if the act of payment in advance is actually far more powerful than that of leaving the contribution amount up to the individual. As a new business owner, who has never professed to know all the answers, I’m taking time each and every day to assess what is working and what isn’t. What strategies to maintain and which to modify or remove completely. Whilst I have no intention of suddenly transforming our studio into a regular full-fee studio, it certainly does create some food for thought. Would people respect their practice more, or be more motivated, to attend class if they have a set fee to pay in advance? Do we need those sorts of restrictions to minimize the options in a world where too much choice can be overwhelming and even paralyzing?

I would love for any readers and students to comment on this blog post about whether the donation model encourages you to attend class or deters you. Perhaps it something you may not have even thought about? Leave any comments below! :)

Thank you in advance everyone for your support and encouragement. We are all most grateful.

Sending hugs,

Jessica xx

Just What Do You See?

 
Jessica Dewar Yoga_Urdhva Mukha Svanasana_Blog Post April 2017
 

If it weren’t for my daily practice, then it’s highly likely the partially sane person I am would not exist. My life is go, go, go. And to be clear this is only because I choose it to be and so being a go, go, go kind of person doesn’t phase me. Plus, let’s face it - it’s very unlike Jessica to make life a little simpler for myself… But this is how I like it, this is the state where I do my best work and this is also a byproduct of my Type-A personality.

But as of late I’ve been feeling a little unsettled. A little out of sorts if you will. I haven’t been able to put my finger on it but I’ve known it’s there. Sitting down to work during the day has been an effort as my mind has been scattered. I’m usually pretty good at latching onto a particular task and getting it done but for whatever reason, I’ve been unable to find this clarity of focus.

My practice has also been off in the morning. Getting up has been extra difficult, my back has been playing up and my mind has been lazy. When my mind is lazy, my practice (and my life) gets lazy too. And whilst I notice this about myself, it doesn’t always mean I take active steps to change it. As a fellow human being, I too (on occasion) like to bask in the lazy way of living. And although this does nothing to help propel my life in the trajectory I desire, for whatever reason I tend to indulge these unhelpful, scattered, can’t work it out so don’t try, ways of thinking. In all fairness to myself, this generally lasts for maybe a lunch hour or at worst an afternoon, but it’s still not the best mindset to get caught up in for any length of time.

So today, whilst in that mindset, I decided it was time to step away from my computer and take the pooches for a walk. They were looking at me with their puggy guilt ridden eyes and I gave in. Plus, I needed the fresh air as I’d been teaching back-to-back classes for the past 6 hours. The trouble I have with days like today is I finally get home to a mountain of work to be done and emails to reply to so I tend to feel drowned in work. And then in a poor attempt to get ontop of my work, I inefficiently begin ploughing through my to-do list. I bog myself down, feel stressed that I can’t be all people at once and then transition into either the can’t work it out so don’t try mindset or the I can’t move from this desk until everything is done mindset. None of which are helpful. (Wow – that was tiring just reading that back to myself! Point demonstrated).

As I harnessed up Tyrone and Lola I decided to leave my phone at home. This phone is normally glued to me and I’m forever on it. If it’s not a phone call its checking emails or Facebook updates. This phone has become somewhat of a miracle and equally a burden in my life. Whatever it means to me and for my business, for my state of mind I decided it needed to stay home. I needed to just Be. To walk without the distraction of calls or the temptations to check emails. I needed to just unplug for an hour. Whilst there is literally a small level of anxiety around being without this portable tracking device, as I reached the end of my driveway I suddenly felt light. I felt free. That I could completely relax and absorb my surroundings without the constant niggle that my phone would go off at any moment. The volume of the world, of life, was immediately turned down. I began to notice the simple but beautiful things that surrounded me. The leaves falling on the green grass as winter nears, the dew on the roses, the sun shining through tree branches. My dogs also seem happier when I’m without my phone. It’s as though they know they have my complete attention and whilst this may sound silly, I believe this to be true. We played with leaves, explored new paths and sniffed (well, not me) every tree we passed. We were truly present to the complete experience we shared, and I realized this is something I’ve been missing lately. Being constantly plugged in is not a healthy way of being and I need to distance myself from it a little more, for if I don’t then who knows what precious moments I could miss.

As I sit here now, writing this entry, I can’t help but feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude for the day I’ve had. For the special moments I only noticed because I decided to slow down. These are reminders that I need to do this more often for not only does it bring clarity in what might otherwise have seemed impossible situations, but it brings me back to myself. This is the place where I do, not only my best work, but where I can be the best version of me.

Sending present hugs to you all,

Jessica xx

P.S. I've been slack with my blog lately as I've not been inspired to write. Turns out unplugging is necessary for maintaining and nourishing many areas of my life, including the realisations I'm always eager to share.