I have been feeling a lot lately. Quite what I've been feeling I'm not sure. If I could put it into a word, overwhelmed might sum it up. It is as if I have reached this point in my life where once I saw a horizon and now I see fog and it seems I'm not the only soul wandering out here. There seems to be this point for women post kids, pre/during menopause that resembles some kind of emotional and physical wasteland. A place not pinpointable on any map, yet when you speak to other women they've all been there. This last year I've been walking through this wasteland looking for the exit. Treading this path has filled me with uncertainty, unrest but also a strange and welcome sense of freedom.
Society’s 'rules' for women seem clear around youth, pregnancy, work and what it wants/expects/demands of us and it’s up to us whether we buy into that or not. However middle age is the unspoken landscape it appears, where women move from maidens or mothers into...
Christmas is supposed to be a time of peace and joy but for so many of us it is a time of anxiety and difficulty. If the latter better describes you at this time of year firstly know that you are not alone. Amidst all the smiles and tinsel I can guarantee you that there are many others out there feeling a similar way. Secondly trust there is something you can do about it to feel less anxious and overwhelmed.
In this blog I've listed some useful practices I have used to help alleviate symptoms of anxiety. They are simple, free and you can do them anywhere.
How do we know if what we're feeling is anxiety?
Anxiety can be described as difficulty sensations in the body; tight chest, tense shoulders, fidgeting, headaches or difficult feelings and thoughts that ruminate and create worry, anger even fear. You may have the thoughts before the feelings or visa versa, or you may just experience one or the other. Although there are common traits the individual has their own unique expression...
I was reminded during a conversation today of a statement I heard at art college 'What you leave out is just as important as what you put in'. I realise now that this principle can and should be applied to all of my life, not just art.
A wonderful women Toni Roberts talked at a training I was on last year and she said 'Yoga is insight'. I was captured by this and sat with it for a while and then added a bit on 'Yoga is insight into space'. Insight into our own space, space in the physical body, mind and heart. But also insight into how we relate and conduct ourselves in the physical space around us, our environment, our world.
It seems to me that today the pursuit of most people is to fill their lives. Fill them with relationships, things for their house, tasks, knowledge, people, lists of things to do. It appears that we have ended up thinking that a full life equates to a successful one. How did we wind up here?
Looking back gives us perspective. We can see how we've changed. The process of pregnancy and motherhood changed my perspective forever. It shifted it in a way that I'd never imagined possible. Now getting older I notice my perspective is changing again. Not due to the kids but due to something else I don't think I'll fully understand until I get to look back at it.
Whatever the reason I'm finding it liberating and scary at the same time. The biggest shift I'm noticing at the moment is in my yoga teaching. When I started teaching I realise now all I was after was the answer. What is yoga? What's the real definition? What is the safest way to teach? What is the correct anatomy? I think the need came from my conscientious self who wanted to offer the very best I could and from my own OCD about being correct. Lately I've felt a move away from the need to know, to be right. Now I find myself in the unfamiliar territory of 'it depends' and 'well how does it feel'. It's liberating....
We all have a dark side. The side of us that we aren't proud of, the bit we don't like, the part we try to hide as best we can. We all have this side. It's normal. If we can learn to meet this side of ourselves with curiosity and compassion we can go some way to finding true kindness towards ourselves. We aren't perfect, we don't need to be.
In the autumn I spent a lot of time in the company of women discussing, learning and sharing experiences as women, friends and as yogis. The focus of the conversations were around pregnancy, motherhood and parenting. We talked about what it meant to move from maiden to mother and our feelings and thoughts that come to life during these times.
When a women has a baby she leaves behind the life she had and starts a new one. She becomes a mum. And no matter how much joy arrives there can also be a grieving process for the life lost. No matter how you welcome this new life, it's going to turn everything upside down and inside ou...
When does your yoga practice start? When you make the decision to go? When you step on your mat? And what does it mean to be a dedicated yogi/yogini?
I set off to class this morning and the sun was bright and the air cold. I went by bike for the first time in a long time. Half way there I realised I didn't want to be indoors. I felt a bit of an internal struggle about loosing that practice time as it's hard to come by, what with juggling life, kids, social life and work.
As I turned my bike around and decided to cycle along the seafront to Rottingdean I came to the understanding that actually my bike ride was my practice. No mat needed. The movement of my body, legs circling, back straight and my arms gently bent to capture the bumps like shock absorbers. I could feel my heart beating in my chest and my breath speeding up. My breath was full, deep, needed. As I found my rhythm I realised that this was the perfect practice for me in that moment.
Everyone I've spoken to this last week is tired, energy less and ready for a break. With Christmas looming the chances of a break for most of us are slim. It's more likely we'll end up getting run down under the shear amount of physical, mental and emotion work that needs to be done before the 24.
If you're like me you've probably placed yourself at the end of your list of Christmas priorities. That ache or pain you've had for months can wait, that hair cut you've been meaning to get has been rolled over again to next week so that you can source some xmas presents for your kids teachers. It's all too familiar.
Well this week I'm revolutionising my priority list. I'm at the top. It feels weird. Luxurious even and comes with a side order of guilt. Well this week I'm facing my fear of guilt, I'm looking it right in the eye and smiling at it. Guilt is just my conditioning and I don't have to play along with my conditioning. I've decided to change the rules.
Let's be honest there are some days when the school run gives us the fear and we hate it. Today was not one of those days. As I was walked my son to school this morning I noticed what a good mood he was in and how responsive he was to me and the idea of going to school. This doesn't happen every morning. The novelty of having his own rucksack had played a large part in his positivity, so I took advantage of it. I saw an opportunity to practice some mindfulness with him and I took it.
As we walked I asked him what noises he could hear and he answered, ‘The birds. The cars’ and I said, ‘I hear the wind in the trees and the leaves rustling under my feet, can you hear those too?’ He agreed and shuffled his feet through them.
Then I asked ‘What can you smell?’ he answered, ‘Cream on toast with jam’ (his version of a cream tea) and smiled. I said, ‘Can you smell the leaves? They smell wet and soggy to me?’ He replied ‘I can smell the air’. I said ‘Can you f...
Over the course of the last two weeks I have spent six days in the company of nine, sometimes more amazing women. Why? I've been teaching and assisting on the Lusthtums Post-Natal Yoga training course in Brighton.
For the first time in almost a whole year I felt I was once again in a real space with women. A space of honesty and love. At the beginning on the first day we spent three hours listening to and talking about some incredible stories Clare Maddelana had returned with from her recent Healthy Birth, Healthy Earth conference at Findehorn in Scotland.
Don't get me wrong there is a place for gentle every day chat with women you meet, other women colleagues, good friends and family members. But there is something very different about being in the company of women when we talk about our womenhood, our joy, our suffering, our rights of passage.
Only a handful of times in my life I have felt that sense of communion with other women. Have I truly allowed mys...
After a 5am start and 3 hour drive to Lisbon airport on Saturday, dread filled my heart when we were greeted by an enormous queue to get through security.
When I say enormous there is no exaggeration. I've travelled a fair bit and I'd never seen anything like it in my life. It snaked the whole of the check in area from the front door, through, round and under every available space. It was at least three people deep and was totally un policed or instructed by airport staff.
I have two small boys, 4 and 6yrs old. Queuing is never easy for kids but for my youngest near impossible. Panic began to set in. As a mum I tend to read situations ahead of schedule because I think I know my kids well enough to be able to predict behaviour. So in my mind I leapt ahead into the screaming, flaying, chaos that would unfold when my youngest got bored and wanted to run around like any normal 4yr old chap. I felt deep anxiety spread through me and my temperature went up.