Resource Yourself

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It must be around five years ago when I tried to have a bath. I had the set-up nailed down. Fragrant candles lit, soothing products laid out, book to one side, little hand towel to wipe my hands so as not to wet the pages of my carefully selected reading material. I’d been in the bath for a few minutes when my dear friend and roomie, Roxy, came to witness this landmark achievement. She was greeted by me, sat bolt upright in the bath, surrounded by bathing paraphernalia and doing my very best to relax. Doing my very best to get it right. Just like everything else in my life. Desperately wanting to get it right. We laughed at this sorry state of affairs, as she held up her Roxstar-shaped mirror and taught me something new about myself.

Back in those days my resources were coffee, cigarettes, pretty good vegetarian food, great friends, eternal parties, sweet Mary Jane and a lot of wine. And beer. Lots of beer. Oh and tequila. We had a good time too. And Prince. Maybe there was some other stuff, but you get the picture. I used to work 7 days in 5, getting up at dawn to fit in a half day before 9am, driving to London and Edinburgh to generate as much business as possible, desperately trying to pay the taxman and hit outlandish targets I’d invented for myself. Trying to be all things to all men, women and children in a bid to prove my worth. To prove that I could earn lots of money, run a house, be ‘responsible’, be a grown up. All of which is utterly ridiculous for a girl who believes in unicorns and fairies.

To fuel my high-flying lifestyle, I used these tools to switch off, fire up, go the distance, numb out, cope, survive. And, don’t get me wrong, these were solid resources for me. They served me in pursuing my design. They got me jacked up on hyperlife and I could get all kinds of shit done. But then my vision started to change and I recognized that those everyday acts of disembodiment were putting my systems through all kinds of hell. All so I could earn more, do more, feel less, go harder, faster, longer. Man, I used to think I was invincible. I never got hangovers. I was strong and lean and still able to run half marathons with patella tendonitis and a packet of Marlboro lights in my back pocket. I probably still could but i’ve since found some alternative forms of magic and medicine that mean I can not only resource myself in ways that are actually in service of my wellbeing, but I can heal at the same time. And the best part is that they go against the grain of Western consumerism, are utterly radical in their rejection of our societal norms, don’t cost me loads of money, allow me to work less, make me feel freaking awesome and lead me to my own conclusion that I’m a bad ass ninja with secret super yogi powers.

Before I go into a list of said super powers, it’s good to know that’s it’s taken a number of years to make them part of my daily life. It started with yoga asana and nutrition. That led me to breath and meditation. Which led to mantra. Which led to space. And in that space, I started to understand the value of boundaries. I learnt to say no. I discovered that taking a bath and having a nap was really an ok thing to do – that I couldn’t be doing something ‘better’ with that time. I was empowering myself, caring for myself and acknowledging my own worth. I was listening to my body and supercharging my cells so I could do more and be more, but in a conscious and connected way. In a way that was on my own terms. In a way that didn’t lead to burnout and came from a place of deep intention and self-realisation.

I also didn’t switch from one set of tools to another on my own. I’m a big believer in building a team of experts around you, so I have my yoga teachers and scholars. I have meditation teachers, healers, massage therapists, psychotherapists, nutritionists. Sure, I have friends and family but these aren’t my ‘resources’ and I think it’s important to make that distinction. Sometimes we can place too much expectation on what our loved ones should do for us and it’s not always their job to help us solve our problems. Allowing someone to hold space for you, like a healer or a therapist, can lead to all kinds of remarkable transformations in your relationship to self and others.

One of the many things I do get from my friends and family is cuddles. This is a top resource for me. I need to hold and be held. Some of my other resources are lying in bed all day on a Saturday, organic dark chocolate, cooking really amazing food. In fact, here’s a list of my top resources, what they cost and why I use them. Yours will be different, maybe you want to bring more of these guys into play, maybe you’re really feeling like you need some extra support right now. Try these out and see what works for you. Any questions you can get in touch any time. Either through facebook or instagram or here.

 

Meditation

It’s free. Like, totally doesn’t cost you anything and you can do 5 minutes or 5 hours. It can be shrouded in ancient mystery but it’s really very simple. Sit with yourself in silence each day and see what rises up. Don’t try and control your thoughts. Just watch your breath and be present to the sounds, sensations, thoughts, memories, feelings. The more you sit, the clearer you will become. And maybe journal your experience afterwards, if you have time. Guided meditation is a great way to start and we have a couple here for you to try.

Mantra

This can be a challenge. Chanting might make you feel like you’ve gone full-hippy but drop the judgements, expectations and societal norms and go with the experience. Trust me, you will not look back. The healing sound of your own voice vibrating through your body can have all kinds of magical effects. Depending on the mantra, or vibration, you might feel calm, dreamy, regal, high. It’s all for the taking and definitely up there on the secret super powers list. Try it. What have you got to lose?

Movement

Dancing, yoga, mindful movement. A form of physical expression that allows you to connect with your body and get out of your head. Your body wants to move and asana helps us to get deeper and deeper into the experience of being embodied. If you want to develop a home practice then I offer up some ideas here or you can practice with me online

Sleep

Afternoon napping is something I actually do now. If I’m tired. I rest. And my schedule is pretty busy and often means I’ve worked over the weekend or I’ve been up at 5am so I make the time to catch up. I don’t just drink more coffee and push through, which was how I would usually operate. I stop. That’s free too.

Conscious cooking and eating

I love an abundance of vegetables and grains and seeds and all the fruits of this fair planet but I can be completely absent when I eat. It’s such a shame to forget about where the food has come from, what each mouthful feels and tastes like. To notice the colours, smells, tastes and sensations and how my body responds. I suffer from bad digestion, and have done for years, so need to really chew and start the breaking down process in my mouth. When I’m in the UK, I spend around £140 on store cupboard items at the start of the year (grains, flour, legumes, oils, lotions, potions and powders) and I around £20 per week on my fruit and veg and top the store cupboard up by about £30 per month. Pete is much better at the shopping and cooking than me though and we find that dal and rice is the cheapest, tastiest and most soothing nourishment you can find and Pete is always posting new recipes here. He’s really good at eating well for not much money.

Touch

It’s free. And it’s essential. Cuddles from friends and family, cuddles at conscious events, cuddles from people you trust and feel safe with. Real cuddles to get the cuddle hormones all alive and activated. Massage. Conscious sex. It’s all good.

Healing therapies

This is a non-negotiable for me. I see someone every week for some kind of healing therapy and this is where I’m willing to spend money. It’s anything from £30 for a sports massage to £50 for psychotherapy to £80 for a good two hour Thai massage. If you’re not buying lots of booze, smoking fags or ordering takeaways then you’ll find you have plenty of money for this kind of work.

Chocolate

I can sometimes have too much of this but I stick to dark, organic and, if I can get it, raw. The better it is, the less of it I want but that sugar still calls to me so this is a resource I have to be mindful of.

Healthy boundaries

Boundaries. What are they then? I didn’t know till a few years ago. Seriously. I was always open to all things from all people and would often find myself in situations where I was overstretched or asking too much of myself. Learning how to create healthy boundaries and communicate them from a position of clarity, strength and truth has been an invaluable resource. And it can be cheaper than going to all the parties and doing all the things all of the time. If you want to learn more about boundaries then I really recommend Boundaries and Protection by Pixie Lighthorse. It’s an incredible book and a short guide that you can keep close to you and read again and again to support you in making better choices that serve you.

 

Ganesh, otherwise known as big lugs

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Today is February 10th. It is the 41st day of my 40 day Ganesha Saddhana and I haven’t practiced so far. I’ve been hosting a tone of voice workshop for a Telecoms company in Cheltenham so I was up at 4.30am and I won’t get home till after 10pm. I feel relieved that my commitment is over, my Saddhana complete, and I don’t need to find a toilet cubicle to chant in – although the roomy WC on the Cross-Country to Glasgow Central feels remarkably private. But, mostly, I want to keep on going, busting those obstacles out of my way with my big bad trunk and my giant swishy ears.

I committed to Big Lugs on the 1st of January before I taught a Ganesha workshop on the 3rd. I wanted to bring more mantra, mudra and pranayama into my daily life and more myth into my teaching. Inspired by Sianna Sherman and our kick ass Rasa yoga 300hr Teacher Training in Berlin, I was all about removing obstacles. As is Ganesh.

Since the start of my Saddhana I have become acutely aware of the range of paltry disincentives and absurd stories I place in the way of myself. I hate the phone and avoid answering it. I’m not very good at Skype. I’m shy about my writing. I can draw pretty well but I’ve never unlocked any potential. I love to dance but I’m too scared of being new and getting it wrong. I’ve suffered with IBS for five years because it would be really hard to not eat pizza with Pete and I do love a beer. I didn’t go to yoga classes for three years because I surely had everything I needed from Yogaglo. I don’t call my mum or dad very often because I’m afraid of my mum’s illness and my dad’s judgement.

So, things have changed since January 1st. Here I am, writing this blog for a start. I’ve written about brands for years but all I really want to write about is yoga so why, i ask myself, have i not been. I’m currently on an elimination diet and it feels so good to be listening to my body and giving it what it really wants. So what if I can’t eat pizza and drink beer? Who cares? I go to yoga classes every week because it’s the most obvious, logical and reasonable thing to do. I’ve made the leap and started answering the phone – I’ve even made a few calls. I’m still a bit unsure of Skype – I’m always too busy (obstacle identified) and I’m never sure if we’re voice or video calling (this is one of my favourite storylines). I signed up for an experimental drawing course but got there a little late so I’m on the waiting list. And I haven’t yet made it to dancing – still need to break down the door of fear for that one (please come with me).

I fondly refer to Ganesha as Big Lugs because of my dear friend, Cookie. She has also done the Saddhana and she’s been bashing obstacles out of the way ever since. She kept referring to Big Lugs and it took me a while to click. For those not familiar with Northern parlance – lugs are ears and our big-eared friend has helped us to listen and meet ourselves in the place of challenge. The Saddhana gave me time and space to get still and my 108 Ganesha mantra planted the seeds of intention in my every cell, as bowing to the remover of obstacles vibrated through my being.

And so I shall continue with Ganesha while considering a new 40 day Saddhana.

Watch the space.

Facing your nemesis

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There are loads of poses I can’t do. And I know that you’re not supposed to get hooked on the poses but I still want to be able to do them. All of them. Like Meghan Currie or Sianna or Kino or that amazing Ashtangi lady who’s name I forget. And that’s ok. It’s great to be inspired and want to take our practice to new heights. I want to go deeper into my body and my consciousness, venturing further along the path. But I also want to be able to bust out Pincha Mayurasana because it’s a total bitch that makes my shoulders turn into question marks.

And yeah, I probably do want to capture it on camera and post it on my Instagram. I want people to see that I did it. That I can do it. That I am strong and capable and graceful and balanced. Because that is what I’ve always done. Present a version of myself, to myself and others. I didn’t realise that was what I was doing. I just thought I was supposed to be successful by everyone else’s standards and admitting that I couldn’t do something would make me lesser, somehow.

And so this, of course, is my yoga. My yoga is to recognise the portrait that I paint. We are all responsible for painting our own canvas in this life and I want mine to be authentic. I don’t need to be strong anymore and my perception of what strong is has completely changed anyway. I want to be strong by being vulnerable. I want to offer up my falls and failures and frustrations and fuck ups. My nemesis isn’t a forearm stand. It’s my superhero self who thinks she has to work hard at everything all the time to prove that she’s a good person.

We all have different versions of ourselves and all we can do is build our awareness, learn to disidentify with this small self – or these small selves – and tap deeper into something much more powerful. Something that has nothing to prove because it’s already perfect.

Purnoham. I am full.

Hats off to the Sun

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Being dedicated to the study of yoga means that sometimes you find yourself watching Yogaglo classes in the bath at 11.30 at night. This was me yesterday. I was evolving my theme for the week and getting inspired by some old skool Anusara classes. Marc Holzman was my master of choice and I marveled at his skillful delivery and layering of the principles of alignment into the body. His theme was discipline and devotion, inspired by a talk with his teacher, the venerable Paul Muller Ortega, who had explained that discipline is love.

When we start to walk a path we have to work. Hard. It’s all new and something is driving us to that work but eventually it stops becoming work. Soon enough, a shift happens and we start to find ourselves on our mat, at our desk, at our easel, with the kids – whatever your calling may be – and it feels right. We want to be there. Eventually, some kind of magic occurs and you want to get up and meditate in the morning. You want to come to yoga more than once a week. You want to develop a home practice. You want to know more about your body, how it moves, why it feels so damn good when you do yoga. You fall in love with your practice and it moves from discipline to devotion. And then you find yourself watching yoga classes in the bath at 11.30 at night.

So what’s all this got to do with sun salutations? Well that’s where it all begins. Those foundational asanas and vinyasas are the first steps towards a dedicated practice and mastering sun salutations takes loving discipline. It takes time to lower down through Chaturanga Dandasana in a straight line without dropping your shoulders or your hips. It takes patience to understand what the hell your teacher means when she tells you to move your ears back or outer rotate your upper arms. It takes dedication to keep coming back so you can get clearer and stronger. It takes discipline but soon enough that will all melt into something like devotion.

I’ve been doing sun salutations for many years and I’m still learning. Every time I hinge at my hips, I’m thinking about the inner rotation of my thighs and the engagement of my core. When I halfway lift, my awareness rests in my shoulderblades. One day I will be able to float from Uttanasana to Chaturanga Dandasana without a sound and, as I shine my heart forward into Urdvha Mukha Svanasana, it’s my little toe and the sides of my neck that hold my attention.

It’s not hard to become devoted to a practice that focuses on the tiniest details, while reminding us of the biggest possible picture. One that connects you to your highest self and reminds you to look up at the sky and bow down to the sun. One that gets you reconnected, realigned and reunited with your body, helping you to build strength, focus and flexibility. Yoga is the practice of empowerment and it is the dedicated practice to your own unfolding. Every time you step on to that mat, you grow. And every creature on this planet is here to do that one thing. Grow. Who wouldn’t be devoted to that?!

Come and step up your sun salutations with me at Yoga Hero and join me afterwards for a soulful candlelit flow. With love and devotion, Collette.