It's obvious to us all that we need to prioritise down time, every day. I recorded this in 2014 but it's even more relevant today. The body naturally wants to heal, we just have to give it the space to return to that state of equilibrium. Balance all systems of the body and by doing this, the mind gets to release its grip of thinking. Over time. It's a practice, I invite you to practice this for one week and notice the difference.
The flubber of lips as a horse snorts,
The steadiness of cattle as they wait for feed,
The drone of cars in the distance, why are you there? I listen again, it’s more like the huge surge of an ever rolling wave, that’s better.
The bird of prey catching the thermal - he spends some time over me, my shadow long in the morning sun. He seems wonders about me then leaves to continue his search.
The muddy acorn leaves covered, wet, brown yet when you look, you see the different shades. You see the beauty in everything when you look again. The green of leaves with a shimmer of silver grey. Mystical.
The fallen tree creating a cave of magic at it’s base, uprooted, fallen, glorious. I soak up the strands of sun through the trees as I stand facing her in all her majesty.
The babbling brook racing water over pebbles, stones and creating soap like suds at the edge, a bottle caught between the rocks - the remnants of some irresponsible act or maybe the wind, either way it looks so out of place.
Then, suddenly something comes over me, this place, a rustle of leaves as the wind breezes through - magic is afoot here - nature in all her wonder sharing her wise ways with no need for us to interfere - adjusting and swaying, growing and dying, rejuvenating and regenerating when all around seems dead.
The cycles she knows oh so well and we have - in the main - chosen to forget. In this moment, there is a remembering.
Life for me has always been about travel. I was lucky enough to spend lots of my childhood moving between the UK, South America and Bangladesh. When my mum died last year I made a promise to do as much travel as possible. Grabbing life with both hands as the grief bought me even closer to the reality that life is short and that procrastinating is a wasted action. The shock of losing her so quickly and so young really hit me hard. It hit us all hard. From that powerful set of emotions though, I had a choice, to let it overtake me or to sit up and pay attention. I chose the latter.
I've been spending a lot of this year getting my sh*t together. I've been doing some very powerful life coaching which has been transformational in how I feel about myself, defining what my dreams and goals are and cleaning up any mess.
I've stopped drinking alcohol on a regular basis. I went to my first drug/drink free festival in June and it was my favourite so far.
I don't want to be evangelical about this but the changes this journey has made in my life are beyond measure. I feel great.
The most important part of this process so far has been self-compassion and care. I've fallen in love with me, not in a selfish way but to really listen to my soul and knowing what I want and then being able to communicate it.
Honouring our promises to ourselves makes us proud, we believe in ourselves and that has a power that shines through.
This isn't a sales pitch but I do want to thank Handel Life coaching, specifically Elena Brower and Danielle Tridenti for guiding me, teaching me and supporting me as I move through this process. I am so happy to be me, my dreams are coming true, I'm healing on so many levels. What a great gift that is in itself.
What changes can you make in your life today, start with a small one, to help you feel proud of yourself?
This article was first published by elephant journal.Check it out here.
I wrote this article one Sunday morning when I was lying in bed and thinking about how most people I speak to think they have to be flexible when I mention I teach yoga. It occurred to me that...
Yoga needs a new identity.
It’s something that’s been on my mind for a while now. It sounds shocking to us converted yogis, but I’m talking about a way to introduce more people to the incredible benefits of yoga.
Whenever someone finds out I’m a yoga teacher, I often hear similar responses, along the lines of: “oh I’d be no good at that, I can’t even touch my toes.”
What a shame. Before they’ve even tried it, they’ve dismissed it.
The fact is, there seems to be so many preconceived ideas that I want to relaunch the brand. (Relax, I’m being a bit tongue-in-cheek).
There seems to be this impression that you need to be skinny and flexible, eat pure foods, or act in a certain way.
No, no, no.
The message is “come as we are”—whatever our flexibility, whether we’re party animals or quiet mice, whether we are 100 pounds or 250 pounds.
If we can breathe, we can do yoga and feel the incredible effects.
Becoming more flexible is definitely a by-product of doing yoga, but there are deeper and more beneficial aspects to the practice that I want to bring to the masses.
Effectively what yoga asana practice does is shift the blockages in the body. Physically, the poses help us stretch our muscular and fascial systems. The breathing helps lengthen these systems and make space in the physical body.
In terms of our nervous system, calm breathing helps soothe it and tells the muscles to relax. Blending your poses with the breathing helps improve your digestive system and boosts your immunity.
In yoga we talk about “prana,” simply put: our life force, our energy.
Just like how in Chinese medicine there is the concept of chi, in yoga there is prana. It stokes our vitality, dissolving blockages whether they are mental, physical or emotional. That’s why after a yoga retreat we look so much brighter and feel so amazing—we’ve been shifting things and letting go of the ‘stuff’ we don’t need, bringing more prana into the body.
From my understanding, when we are living in a fast-paced and busy state, our bodies respond by producing chemicals that tell the body to be ready for anything.
This means the body is in a “fight or flight” mode ready to respond to any threatening situation. This is really useful if we’re in the middle of a road and a bus is coming at us and we can quickly react.
However, if we’re living in this state day to day because we are stressed, the chemicals build up and our systems get exhausted. No doubt we’ll feel tired, possibly even have anxiety and we are in this loop of constantly living on the edge.
Yoga helps break this feedback loop between the brain and the body.
Your calm breathing soothes the parasympathetic nervous system, which then tells the brain that it’s safe. The brain then stops sending out the chemicals that put the body into overdrive.
The practice of yoga helps to counter balance our modern day, fast-paced living.
If the word yoga conjures up fancy poses and balancing on our heads, then we should scrap that and start exactly where we are. With the breath.
This is such a powerful tool of yoga. It is said that pranayama is to the mind what asana is to the body. You will feel stronger, clearer, lighter and frankly much better!
When I teach one on one, more often than not I’m really teaching people how to relax and how to be okay with breathing deeply and fully. I love seeing how their eyes soften and their shoulders drop as they realise they’re in a safe, held space where they can let go.
One of the teachings I pass on is is that less time we have for relaxation, the more we need it.
Yoga doesn’t have to be fast paced, it doesn’t mean we have to touch our toes. We can get the essence of what yoga has to open up in ourselves with some simple breathing and relaxation.
Please don’t get caught up in this idea that we have to be a certain way.
If you’re feeling on edge all the time, have no time to relax and are in need of some calm, as you’ve lost yourself in the midst of life, then your answer is right here: yoga.
Okay, so I don’t really want to change its identity, I just want people to be better educated in how transformative and life-changing it can be. Big words but true.
When are you coming to a class?
Kirsty Norton is a self-professed yoga passionista. She lives by the the seaside in the UK, living her dream of teaching yoga and travelling when she can. She is mum to Lyra who keeps her on her toes—her most challenging yoga teacher so far. Kirsty blogs for fun and enjoys quiet moments whenever she can. Feel free to connect with Kirsty via her website, Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter.