On Monday night I decided to go to my first EVER gymnastics class. I’ve never even step foot into a gym like this so it was truly a first for me. Being a yoga practitioner I assumed I’d be quite good at gymnastics.Read More
There’s yoga. And there’s yoga!
There are days I get on my mat and feel totally disconnected. Frustrated and I’d even go as far to say I get bored. Especially these past few weeks with my back playing up like it has. I’m on my mat. Tick. I’m doing the moves. Tick. But am I really connected? Well, not always. Which is what makes mornings like this morning so vastly different and powerful in comparison.
My first forward fold of my practice is generally a good indicator of how my body is going to go that morning. For weeks now the fold has been excruciating, immediately putting me on the defensive. But not this morning. Like the sun finally showing itself after a month long rainfall, my first forward fold was an immediate forehead to shin. Yes, it was a little tight, but the pain was not there. Something had finally shifted. The tension had finally decided to let go.
In a sealed room with no airflow and only the sound of deep, focused inhalations and exhalations, the sweat quickly began to bead around my temples. And it was not too long before my entire body was soaked in sweat as I flowed through my 90 minute led practice. 72 jump backs and jump throughs. My body was bending, twisting, and lifting as though I had no back trouble at all. My mind was focused, my body strong and my intent pure. By the end of practice I was near slipping off my mat and the challenge then became remaining steady on a slippery surface, forcing me to focus even moreso.
This mornings practice was a welcomed reminder of just how clever our bodies are. I talk about acceptance and loving our body as it is, but I’d be lying if I said this wasn’t a struggle for me at times. When I have flare ups like I do (and they are crippling), I can forget how freely I can move when the inflammation settles. How strong and flexible I can be when I am patient. Mornings like this morning leave me pondering questions like – “What is the lesson I can take from these experiences? From pain? From weeks of relentless pain and then suddenly a release?” Well, I think there are many lessons here. The first for me comes down to trust. Trusting my body will right itself in due time. To also trust I am doing the right thing by maintaining my practice even on my worst days, regardless of how gentle the practice needs to be. The second lesson is ‘yoga’ and the true meaning of the word. I didn’t practice yoga in just this mornings class. Rather, every single day, both on and off the mat, is yoga. Yoga = to yolk. The union between body, breath and mind. Pain is a wonderful teacher and it has forced me to take a big step back, a deep look in and accept it for what it is. A fluctuation that I have. And that it (pain) does not have me. This is yoga.
Remember, every moment of every day holds a lesson. We just need to take the time to pause, witness and reflect.
Sending happy, slightly more enlightened hugs to you all,
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,
Do you know what it feels like to be trapped in your own body? How toxic it can be at times? How hopeless?
This past month has been such an immense challenge for me. The bar has been set higher, mostly in my own mind, which is intense. Choosing not to be a victim to my pain can be a catch-22. Sure it means I go on and challenge self-limiting thoughts, feelings and behaviours. But it can also mean I push too hard too soon. This past month has forced me to take a BIG step back and re-evaluate my boundaries. My personal limits. And more importantly, my ego. I have days when I feel I could run a marathon and my body can fly. The difficulty lies in not taking advantage of those days. Not trying to rush to the finish line just because it is in sight. For it is when I do this that I end up right back near the beginning again.
I have great flexibility in my body but not enough strength, pelvic floor strength especially. This means I am susceptible to injury if I’m not careful. I’ve spent these past two weeks taking it very easy as my back had completely given up. Just the slightest fold forward gave the sensation of a thousand knives stabbing into my lower back and left leg. It’s been confronting, upsetting and to some degree embarrassing. Feeling so trapped in my own body. Like there is a lock that is firmly fastened and holding me back. The moment I try to fold I’m jolted back just as a car seatbelt locks if it’s pulled too quickly.
Yesterday was a wonderful day. I felt amazing. Everything had relaxed, pain still there but a 4/10 compared with the 9/10 it has been this past week. So what does Jessica do? Well, I practice without boundaries, without limitations, only to clearly cross a threshold without realizing and end up virtually crippled again today. Whilst I want to cry – and I did for a brief moment – I always look for the lessons in these experiences. The pain hurts, but it’s the restriction of movement which hurts me more and can be so frustrating. But I need to accept this. I need to accept that these are all lessons, progressions in themselves. That mentally I am becoming stronger, more aware, more accepting. I’m learning limits by pushing them a little. Clearly a little too much in this case. We train for four hours a day six days a week and I’ve not missed a single practice because I will not give up on me. The challenge is not in the hours of practice, but in knowing when to pull back.
But whilst I can lay here typing away and say it’s good to be positive about the challenges in life – whether that be pain, heartbreak, loss, anything at all – the fact of the matter is, it’s still shit. I don’t enjoy pain. I don’t want to be like this, to be limited like this. To be trapped in my body as I am. But the thing is, I don’t have a lot of choice. I need to work with my body as it is. Through this trial and error I will learn how to strengthen my back, how to maintain a normal life regardless of pain and how to help others through my personal experience. If I don’t, then life stands still and that’s not much of a life.
So to those who feel pain – any pain – play with it. Challenge it. Learn to trust it. For it is when we can accept and observe pain in this way that we can work with it, heal from it and keep moving forward.
Sending big hugs,
P.S. Thank you for all the hugs and supportive messages/emails sent to me last week in response to my blog post. I felt so loved and very comforted hearing from everyone. Certainly much less lonely! I'm so grateful to have such incredible people in my life. Again, thank you.
As we grow up we develop a multitude of neurotic beliefs, many of which tell us we cannot be, do or have what we dream in this lifetime. That a happy life, one that is the product of our own choosing, is for everyone out there, not for ourselves. It’s unfortunate how self-limiting and self-sabotaging these thought patterns can be and I want to challenge you to choose differently. Don’t think for a moment I don’t have them (neuroses). I absolutely do! And my partner will attest to that. I call this, ‘being human’. In an attempt to confront neurotic thoughts, I make daily commitments to cultivating a more positive mindset, one that focuses on what I can do rather than what I can’t. I do this because I’m mindful if I do not take active steps to address negative and unhelpful ways of thinking, then I shall be consumed by such thoughts and this shall become my life. This is not an easy path, and there are days when everything feels impossible, but it’s certainly a very real one.
As a rehabilitation consultant, I witnessed hundreds of my clients give in to the circumstances before them. They handed their power over to the greater forces they believed to be at work, continually operating with a victim mentality. Blaming their employer, family, children, friends, doctors, physio and so on…. for everything that was going wrong in their lives.
Watching people hand over control of their lives like this always saddened me, for I could always see the incredible potential in each and every client, potential they denied existed.
My work was a real eye opener as it challenged me to think differently, to choose my path rather than have it chosen for me. It was upsetting to witness so many wonderful people become mere shells of their former selves following an incident of some sort. Of course there were many factors at play with my typical clientele, and I often worked with the most challenging of cases due to my experience over the years, but the patterns always looked the same.
Life as they knew it, incident occurred, blame others, become consumed by feelings of frustration, resentment, fear, overwhelm, shock, depression, anxiety, denial, then often seeking retribution to make things right. This final stage was quite possibly the saddest and most challenging, for retribution never ends well. Rather it remains as an excuse to keep small and victimized, forcing people to remain stuck in a drama triangle, a loop that is relentless unless faced head on and stopped in its tracks.
I’ve noticed students of yoga generally posses a very different attitude to their lives and how they want to feel each day, making this work (if you could call it that) very inspiring. What I’ve found as a teacher and practitioner of yoga is the vastly different attitudes of the students who walk through the doors. Unlike my clientele from my previous life, my students are often in a mindset that seeks healing. They’re there because they know something needs to change or improve in their lives and they’ve sought yoga as a tool for helping them get there. They may have experienced all of the above feelings of anger, sadness, frustration etc for various reasons, however they’re now in a position where they want to really challenge those negative, unhelpful thought processes. The thoughts that keep them small and in a place of lesser than. Whilst I felt my career in rehabilitation was valuable to my clients, what I’m now very aware of is that I can only help people who want to be helped.
I can show people the door, but it is up to them to walk through it.
In yoga, many students are standing at this door and are looking for that teacher, that support, to be with them as they begin this powerful, confronting and incredible journey. I love this about the practice.
I’ve always looked at asana as a true sign of strength for when I see a student progress with their practice, I see a genuine commitment and devotion to healing. I observe the struggles that people overcome in both body and mind by watching as they get up and try again every time they fall, or hurt themselves or feel weak. This is real strength.
People who are unwell need support during those difficult times, but as professionals, as teachers, we are lying to ourselves and to our clients, if we believe we can fix whatever problem is going on for that person. Not only is this a violent act (as we are not trusting in the strength of the individual to move through this tough time), but it is also impossible to achieve. We are all responsible for the path our life takes. Yes, encouragement and support is wonderful, but it is not everything. We need to find the strength, the motivation, the courage within ourselves to fight for what we believe in. To challenge our minds when we want to give up. To trust in our own intuition when every one else is in doubt.
We are all so much stronger than we believe. We deny this about ourselves because it is easier to stay small. The risk seems lower. But if you ask me, to not follow a life that is determined by myself is the biggest risk of all. We are here but once. If you fall, get up. Don’t give up. Why? Because each and every moment matters. If you want something enough, believe me, it can be yours. Take that first step and go for it.
Sending hugs, Jessica xx