Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Yoga Gives Motivation And Energy - I am living Proof!

I go to a beginner's Hatha Yoga class each Tuesday, thanks to the recommendation of a friend.

As mentioned before in this blog, I find the yoga teacher to be inspirational.  Indeed,  from talking to the other students, some have attended her classes for ten years. Even after that length of time, they say they come away learning something new from her.

I can understand this because every week I too come away with something  that I can use in my everyday life.  It may be an affirmation, a snippet of anatomy and physiology information, a spiritual idea or just plain motivation! I have found that since I have been attending yoga classes and doing a little practice at home, my motivation and energy levels have risen.  I am writing my blog more regularly and brimming with creative ideas.  It is certainly stimulating both my mind and my body. Both of these have become more open and more flexible.  I have less pain in my body and in my mind.  That can only be a good thing!  I am also slowly losing weight and eating more healthily.  I am more aware of the internal workings of my body and the hard work it sometimes has to do when I feed it badly.

Yesterday the teacher reminded us that the time that our mind tells us we are too tired and can't bother to practice, is the time we need to do it.  If we can just override the part of the mind that is lazy and just do it, we will instantly feel better.So too with blogging and most other  things in life!

This morning I actually came up against this, took the teachers advice and so far have had a busy but fun filled and productive day.  I will be doing a short practice at home each day but I really look forward to my Tuesday class.

Sadly, the last class before summer vacation is next week so I will have to rely on myself and my own yoga practice to keep me all fired up!


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Inspirational Yogis and Yoginis Over The Age of Seventy

The first Yogini I want to mention here is my own Yoga Teacher. She is seventy three years old and has been teaching Yoga for the past thirty years.

She is my main inspiration as she started yoga at around the same age as me.  When I look at her and compare her to some other women I know of her age, I know which I aspire to be like.  I am aware that I should not compare people and it's something that I don't like to do as we all have things to offer. I don't even compare myself to anyone else in the way that I used to, which is a huge achievement for me.

However, if it's a choice between having an inflexible, sickly mind and body, or be in the mental and physical condition that she is in, my choice is already made!

While researching older Yogis and Yoginis, I came across quite a few inspirational people.  Most are still practicing and even teaching right up into their nineties. Imagine not having to depend on others or be considered useless and practically dead. To have few health problems, all our faculties and be flexible in our later years should be something we all aspire to.

On that note, the first Yogini that I came across is Bette Calman who was 83 in this video made around 2009.  As far as I am aware, she is still practicing.  Watch this video and be inspired!

The next Yogini is Tao Porchon Lynch who was 87 when this interview was conducted in 2006.  She not only teaches yoga but is a dancer too. Fantastic.
This latest video shows her at 92 in 2011, still doing yoga and dancing! There are no words to describe my admiration for this lady!

Now we have Barbara Lyon who was 89 when this film was uploaded in 2009

And here is an article about Bernice Bates who is 91! There are no excuses when you look at this phenomenal woman

Monday, May 23, 2011

Loved this Blog Post by Marina Calado

How Yoga Might Endanger My Laziness Issues

By Marina Calado (posted here with permission of Marina Calado)
The other day I was talking to two friends of mine about yoga. They thought yoga classes were something like boot camp. You get that leg straight. Straight means straight. Needless to say, they are guys. They looked very shocked when I said it was nothing like that; a yoga teacher does not make you do anything you don't feel comfortable with or that your body is not prepared for. You are always welcome to rest on your yoga mat. At this, one of them asked me "Why go then?"

For me that question has an easy answer: I love the practice. I love what yoga teaches me about myself and the tools it provides me with to better handle the world around me. But it also raises an issue: what happens when I don't feel like practicing? When do I know when it's time to rest and when it's time to push myself anyway? I do not know the answers to these questions, but one thing I learned after practicing yoga, even though I wasn't up for it in the first place, is this: I never understand why I choose not to practice, because after the practice my body is always filled with light and softness. Still I choose not to practice sometimes. It usually goes like this: in the morning I think that I would love a nice night practice, but come the night and I feel tired and sleepy. I opt to read or relax and eventually go to bed and sleep like a rock. The truth is I am very lazy.

And the dualism laziness vs. respect (in a way I believe it is ahimsa) is something I usually struggle with. I know that yoga teaches about our limits, through a regular practice we learn when enough is enough and when we can go just a tiny bit further. I also know that sometimes not to practice is my most gentle act towards myself. So the question is: what about when I'm being just plain lazy (human?) and I decide to practice "sleepasana"?

For this one I have an answer. It took me a while to get there, to understand how this process works - at least the theoretical part. And I have nailed it down to two main aspects.

1. Sometimes I really do need to rest. Some weeks I work a lot, I barely have decent meals because there's so much to do and my body does need its rest. My body feels sore, I get grumpy and only ask for two things: my bed and silence. And that's OK. Sometimes it really is OK for me to respect what I believe is best for me. This is also where ahimsa comes into play. Ahimsa is usually translated as non-harming, not causing pain. And this is what happens when I respect my body.

2. I give it a try anyway. I don't feel like practicing but I still unroll my mat and see what happens. If my body really isn't up for it, I'll know and I'll also know when it's time for me to stop and to congratulate myself for at least trying. But I might be surprised. I might actually do a complete class. Maybe I won't have great balance or strength, but I might push myself to the point of transformation and be able to go beyond the obstacles my mind has created. For me, it means I have reached that phase where I can move out of my well-known and cosy comfort zone and exceed my expectations. My ego does not wish me to follow the path of transformation because it means I'll pay less attention to it, so it plays powerful mind games with me. But I shall persevere. And it will happen as I start paying attention to the signs my body gives me. It happens if I am mindful.

Yoga endangers my laziness issues because it allows me not to practice, given that I choose from a place of kindness and self-respect. So why do I go to yoga classes if I can just lay down and rest? Because I practice yoga for its many benefits, I choose to be healthy, both in my body and mind. I choose to have a strong and pain-free body and a mind that I like to think is getting rid of old patterns and moving forward. I choose to practice yoga not because it makes me a better person but simply because it helps to uncover who I truly am.Published 05.23.11 at 10:45 AM
About Marina Calado
When Marina discovered Yoga in 2003, she knew she was home. Nowadays, she works as a translator, and since such profession is very stressful and time-consuming, devouring books, listening to music and practicing Yoga are the activities that she chooses to occupy her time with. She has tried different Yoga styles and finally met Anusara Yoga in 2010. It was love at first practice. Anusara Yoga has been helping her discover her potential and how she can express it in this life. It?s no wonder Marina wishes one day to teach Yoga so she can spread the joys of Yoga.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


I just love this video involving two of my favourite things, Yoga and cats!  I love following the Yogatic DVDs of the teacher in the video, Esther Ekhart.  She gives some terrific tips on getting the postures right. I recently purchased her beginners and improvers DVDs and I am making good progress. I'll post the link here for anyone who is interested and no... I am NOT on commission.  I just want to share with you anything I find helpful on my new yoga journey!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

I like it!

Sport Clip Art Image

I discovered yoga properly last summer and, after my very first class my first thought was 'I like it!'

I had dabbled with yoga many moons before but it just didn't have the same impact on me.  The teacher had a lot to do with it and the old saying that 'when the student is ready, the teacher will appear' really rang true here.

I had decided that since I was in my forties, with a three-year-old son to run after, and newly acquired back problems that I needed to do something.  I knew that the stretching would help my back and the breathing would help my stress.  I also knew that yoga could help with the spiritual questions that inevitably  become stronger in midlife. However,  I was worried about finding the right class. Then, in a moment of synchronicity, my  friend mentioned to me a beginners hatha yoga class that she attended whenever she could. I went along with her and was immediately hooked!

As I mentioned before, the teacher had a lot to do with it and still has.  She is an inspirational woman in her seventies who simply oozes with compassion and serenity. I could not believe and still cannot, that she could possibly be in her seventies, as she looks ten years younger than that. Her mother is still alive and is ninety-nine! She told me that she only started yoga when she was forty-three and when I asked if her body had ever been as inflexible as mine, she said it had been worse!  That statement certainly gave me hope, since there I was beginning yoga at the age of forty-four.

Believe it or not, I had such bad sciatica that I did my first few classes on a chair. Students thirty years older than me were not in that position and there was even an eighty one year old man in the class. But I didn't feel embarrassed; such was the atmosphere there. The teacher showed me some remedial yoga exercises that would help with my pain. We also learned some breathing and meditative techniques to help with any anxiety arising from that pain.

Now 9 months later, although I am still pretty stiff compared to others in my class, much of my back pain has simply gone. It twinges every now and then but nothing like the excruciating regular bouts I had before, when I couldn't even put my foot to the ground without crying.

I have also lost around 16lbs in weight just practicing a little yoga every other day and incorporating poses into everyday life. I find that because yoga also works on the internal organs and the teacher explains about the anatomy and physiology of the body and how the Asanas (postures/poses) work that I am less inclined to binge on junk foods. I still do that now and again but it tends to be on healthier foods. Where I would have scoffed whole packets of biscuits before, I now might have a tray of flavoured frozen ice cubes! A lot less calories and hydration into the bargain.  The yoga poses have made me think more about the work my body has to do internally to digest the types of food that I consume.

People tell me I am a little different since I became a newbie Yogini.  My husband is impressed with my sticking at something and with my weight loss.  My mother says I don't lose my patience as easily and my three-year-old son is thrilled that I can actually bend down to him again.

I hope to share here some of my journey as a forty something first time Yogini, along with interesting snippets of news, videos, articles and discoveries I make along the way!


Claire xx