Category: Yoga in Durban


So… it’s taken me a long time to try and put this into words… about 11 years actually (and I have had this saved in my drafts folder for about 2 months…)!  I have recently started seeing a Psychologist and she is really helping me understand and unpack all this.

How it is…

I like to call it – my Big Black Spider (BBS for short). A traumatic event that happpened to me 11 years ago. There is no need to discuss the details or explain what it actually is (especially since I am sharing this with the rest of blogville), because we have all faced a traumatic situation in our lives. Why Blig Black Spider? Because it is sneaky and nasty. It is a memory that hides behind the bookcase or picture where you can’t see it, and then when you think everything is fine and dandy it comes crawling out and scares the living daylights out of you! There is no ignoring it, supressing it, or avoiding it. No amount of ‘positive thinking’ will make that spider dissapear. It is real and it has influenced who I am (and btw I quite like who I am now).

What is so difficult is understanding that it is not part of me. I realised the other day that I am terrified of letting my BBS go. I am so attached to it that I feel like if it was no longer important – I would no longer be important… (when I put it like that  – JEEPERS! that is scarey!)

How it can be...

When I first started practicing Yoga and Mindfulness 4 years ago, I thought I was over all this. I had a good life, great friends and a lovely family.  Mindfulness and yoga especially have this incredible ability to remove all the book cases, pictures, sofas (whatever) that your BBS is hiding behind. It really cracks that nut right open revealing who you really are and how you are actually feeling (not the smiley face you put on to make others happy).

And so, here I am. Embracing my Big Black Spider. Sharing it with you, and hopefully providing insight into how to manage and care for your Spider without it ruling over you and jumping out to scare you!

Fifty trillion molecular geniuses!Jill botle Taylor says in her book ‘My Stroke of Insight‘, “Your body is the life force power of some fifty trillion molecular geniuses!”  How empowering would it be to become aware of these geniuses!  For me I gain a some insight into this when I am able to drop awareness into my body and be in the present moment.

I find that when I practice Yoga, go running, gardening or swing a Kettlebell around I am able to really inhabit my body in the present. I feel it from the insde out. My lungs expanding and contracting like bellows nurturing a fire. My muscles feeding off that oxygen and the nutrients in my blood. My heart pumping (almost out of my chest!) blood through my veins like a river feeding the surrounding fields. I AM ALIVE! (said in a crazy Robin Williams kinda voice)

When I find myself in front of the computer (like I am now), this sense of grounding, of being in my body is shifted. I am lost in my ‘head’ or maybe my left hempisphere? I feel disconnected from the world around me, and often I feel a little lonely…

So I urge you, if you can – get up out of that seat, stretch, stomp around, connect to the ground, whatever it takes for you to conncet to those fifty trillion molecular geniuses! Be alive!

The poem below is such a beautiful description of grounding your Self  in the present and inspired the above!

I Said to the Waiting Creature Inside Me
I said to the wanting creature inside me;
What is this river you want to cross?
Do you see anyone moving about on that bank or resting?
There is no river at all, no boat and no boatman.
There is no towrope either, and no-one to pull it.
There is no ground, no sky, no time, no bank, no fjord!

And there is no body, no mind!
Do you believe there is some place that will make the soul less thirsty?
In that great absence you will find nothing.

Be strong then and enter into your own body;
There you have a solid place for your feet.
Think about it carefully!
Don’t go off somewhere else!
Kabir says this: just throw away all thoughts of imaginary things, and stand firm in that which you are.

Kabir

My Occupation

oc·cu·py

tr.v. oc·cu·pied, oc·cu·py·ing, oc·cu·pies

1. To fill up (time or space): a lecture that occupied three hours.
2. To dwell or reside in.
3. To hold or fill (an office or position).
4. To seize possession of and maintain control over by or as if by conquest.
5. To engage or employ the attention or concentration of: occupied the children with coloring books.
As defined by The Free Dictionary.
Occupy Hawaii

Here is my Occupation:
“To engage or employ the attention or concentration of” others
I will Occupy –
I will Occupy my mind with peaceful, caring thoughts.
I will Occupy my body with healthy food and use it wisely.
I will Occupy my heart with LOVE.
I will Occupy my words with love.
I will dedicate my actions to creating a more sustainable world where I rely less on the capitalist society I live in and more on the Earth I come from.
I will Occupy everyday, in  every way to re-mind others to do the same.

So… with all this Occupation happening – Occupy Wall Street, Occupy London, Occupy Together… the list goes on… my personal opinion (and I must emphasise it is my PERSONAL opinion).

How is this all going to change things? By living in a tent and relying on other people to provide food so that you can get the message out there – how is it changing things?I appreciate that people are fed up – I am too. I do not want to live in a capitalist world where we are constantly bombarded by advertisers and products to solve all our problems and end your suffering, cos lets face it – that’s BS! The only thing that will improve your life is you.
And so – here it is. I was very keen to join the Occupy Durban City Hall movement on Saturday, until I spent time thinking it through. If I go, I carry a banner, I meet some awesome people and probably have some great conversations – but will it change things? If I rather spend more time establishing what is important – compassion, helping others, keeping fit and healthy, creating opportunities for a more sustainable way of living (not just for myself) – will this not make more of an impact in my community? Will this not be an example for others and “engage or employ the attention or concentration of” others to lead more sustainable lives.
A few interesting articles on the occupations and some videos too.
I admire the peaceful stance that has been a grounding factor across the board. I think that if all protests (especially those in SA) could be held peacefully – people might take more notice about the actual reasons behind the protests as opposed to the damaging effects they have on communities.
My opinion may be totally niave and pie in the sky. Maybe you think I am just a whiss or a middle-class white person with nothing better to do (as said in this article: Occupy arrives at JSE. ) Whatever you think or feel, know that I wish for justice, I wish for leaders who lead, I wish for a society who cares for their children, old people and sick, but most of all I wish for peace.

I recently received this from our community watch organiser. While I have received others like it – I thought it appropriate to post now since it is currently Spring in South Africa. With a change in the seasons usually comes a lot of personal upheaval and change. Clearing out the old “weeds” in your life that no longer serve a worthwhile purpose, to make space for new seeds to be planted and flourish in the garden of your heart.

HOW TO PLANT YOUR GARDENPathway at BRC Garden

First, you Come to the garden alone,
while the dew is still on the roses….

PLANT THREE ROWS OF PEAS:

1. Peace of mind
2. Peace of heart
3. Peace of soul

PLANT FOUR ROWS OF SQUASH:

1. Squash gossip
2. Squash indifference
3. Squash grumbling
4. Squash selfishness

PLANT FOUR ROWS OF LETTUCE:

1. Lettuce be faithful
2. Lettuce be kind
3. Lettuce be patient
4. Lettuce really love one another

NO GARDEN IS WITHOUT TURNIPS:

1. Turnip for meetings
2. Turnip for service
3. Turnip to help one another

TO CONCLUDE YOUR GARDEN YOU MUST HAVE THYME:

1. Thyme for each other
2. Thyme for family
3. Thyme for friends

WATER FREELY WITH PATIENCE AND CULTIVATE WITH LOVE.

THERE IS MUCH FRUIT IN YOUR GARDEN BECAUSE YOU REAP WHAT YOU SOW.

When I was younger I was often teased by family and friends as I am sure we all have!  According to the article segmented below, this is not a bad thing and helps us to develop socially (although at the time it felt like having your undies pulled over your head in public!).  Today, as an adult, I am still faced with people (usually ignorant about  my chosen path) passing snide comments, joking about my flexibility, diet or quiet, demeanor.

Gandhi leads by example

Gandhi said "Be the change you want to see in the world" I understand this as the ultimate practice of Leading by Example.

The other evening one of my younger students came up after class, spurred on by his friend, to ask a question: “What do you do when people tease you about practising Yoga?” I must admit I was taken by surprise at first, but the question was a genuine plea for some sort of answer. I also know from my own experience, especially when you are just starting to explore something new,  we question if it is worth while to stick to it, or maybe it’s easier for everyone if you just do things the way you always have.  Three little words I think answers the question:

LEAD BY EXAMPLE

… and remember why. When you live your life from a place of honesty and truth you might find that, while at first people don’t know how to engage with you (or what to cook you for dinner when you visit) and may react by teasing, the more they are exposed (however subtly) to your style of living, and observe the benefits you receive in your life, they start to question their own.   If they start to see a change in you for the better they may start to question the value of what you are doing and try it for themselves!  It is by far one of the best gifts you can offer someone else – leading by example.

This said, with great power comes great responsibilty (Spiderman said it too!).  If you are going to lead by example, don’t compromise your integrity, your honesty, or your self worth. Say what you mean and mean what you say. If you eat fish sometimes – you are not a vegetarian. If you don’t practice meditation daily – don’t say that you do. Don’t be afraid to admit to liking Bryan Adams and Rage Against the Machine in the same breath! It’s the little things that make the difference. None of us are perfect. Regardless of how far along your path you are there are always pot holes! Accept that and don’t be shy to admit it! Make sure the example you lead by is not with an iron fist of “I am always right. Everything I do is the only way.” Let people discover their own way. You are simply opening the door, it’s up to them to choose which way they go from there.

Admittidly my answer to my students question is not a quick fix. It takes guts and balls to stand up for what you believe to be the truth much more than to retort sarcastically, or punch them in the gut. Nobody said that living authentically would be easy – but it’s definitely worth a try!

Teasing vs. Bullying
Teasing is misunderstood because it is often confused with bullying, which has a strictly negative impact. The way to distinguish between the two is by the intent. The goal of teasing is to create closer relationships and make connections. The goal of bullying is to harm. Teasing turns into bullying when kids use it to gain greater social status. David Nelson, associate professor of human development at Brigham Young University, has found that even 4- and 5-year-olds will bully to increase their social power.
Of course, even the most positive teasing turns sour if it goes too far. To determine whether the teasing is positive or not, it’s essential to look at context. For example, if kids joke about a child’s shoes, that’s different from focusing on something much harder to control, such as being overweight. Also, says Keltner, “Teasing a kid behind a gym out of sight is dangerous, whereas teasing in front of a group of friends is less threatening.”
The line between teasing and bullying blurs again when the child being teased doesn’t know how to respond. “Everyone has a different set of personal boundaries,” says Rosalind Wiseman, author of Queen Bees and Wannabes, “and that’s confusing for kids.” But, she says, if a child overreacts or withdraws in response to teasing, she may lose out on important social experiences.”
Taken from http://www2.scholastic.com Just Teasing article.

Yoga at a Casino?

It may sound a little strange… but I have been teaching a Yoga class at Suncoast Casino for just over 2 years now! It is a free, gratis and for nothing class sponsored by Lisa Raleigh and Suncoast Casino. Teaching this class is such a blessing! The class is outside on the grass, overlooking the sea as the sun sets behind the tall buildings. The students are amazing and it is really humbling and inspiring to teach them. All ages, shapes and sizes, strengths and ability. Everyone working together for the greater good of improving their health and overall wellness.

Every now and then some one will come up after the class and chat or ask questions affirming that they really are enjoying the classes and gaining deeper insight and understanding. Once a lady came up and was telling me about how she is using something I said in class as her mantra and how this really helped her in tough times! I don’t know exactly what it is – maybe that the classes are free, maybe that they are outside overlooking the sea – but it is such a pleasure teaching here!

Each person comes of their own volition (even in Winter when it gets chilly and in October when it’s howling a gale on the beach!). Because of this it seems there is no egoism or showing off. There is a focus and concentration amongst the students that makes me tingle sometimes! Their dedication and enthusiasm is electric. I love most of all when I crack a silly joke, or get them to “turn the corners of your mouth up” (try it! I dare you!) and they laugh or smile or fall over… Sometimes we are lucky enough to watch the full moon rising over the sea while the orange ball of fire sets opposite.

It is a very different class.  Out in the open we have to deal with the elements, with people passing by, sand, birds – you name it! I thought when I first started teaching this class, that it would become a burden and a slogg. I can’t teach ‘properly’ and make the same adjustments as I do in a studio class. The students wont appreciate the class because they don’t have to pay to attend. I’ll get drunkards from the Casino joining and messing everything up! NOT TRUE!

Yes, I can’t make the same adjustments and corrections as I can in a studio class, but people are practicing Yoga! They are getting out there and doing something for themselves!

I am truely inspired and filled with joy every Thursday evening. I am grateful to Lisa Raliegh for starting this initiative. She is also taking it a step further! Suncoast and Lisa have begun a SUNFIT initiative offering Zumba, Kettlebells, Bootcamp and Kickboxing every eveing 17h30 – 18h30 FOR FREE!!! No excuses! Be inspired and get moving!