Destination Sensation

 

bw saddle web

Yoga is an inward journey, I fear this is increasingly forgotten. In the yoga studios and gyms lined with mirrors, I’m almost certain it IS being forgotten. It’s true that this is where we go, these studios, for motivation, or for convenience, for a certain teacher or style, an adjustment or two, to be a part of something, for a community of sorts, for a reliable heat source or a mat sized flat space to call your own for an hour or two. Or for a regular pay check without the frustration of self promotion. 🙂

But yoga is also solitary. Actually, yoga is primarily solitary. A solitary, inward journey. Every student coming to class regularly should ALSO be devoting time to self practice. Turning up on your own mat to your own time and doing something ( it doesn’t matter so much what, as long as there is breath and focus).

I hear, over and over, that you don’t have the motivation for self practice.. the discipline — but I beg to differ. If you can come to class you have that drive in you, already. You say you don’t know what asanas to practice. I say you’d be surprised by your kinaesthetic memory even if you’ve only been to a handful of classes.

( Sequencing poses is quite intuitive. In can be ‘pose and counter pose’…. ‘compressive followed by expansive’. And/or a series of poses working one group of muscles on one side of the body, perhaps building up in depth or strength or hold, followed by the other side. Breathing is even more intuitive. Upward movements ask for an inhale, downward for an exhale. The breath wants to be smooth and fluid by nature, not ragged and jittery. Not forced in. Certainly not forced out. Not usually held, but sometimes so quiet it drops away. Focus is all that is needed here. If in doubt just breathe naturally! )

Then, here is where the concept of a quiet practice comes in. A practice doesn’t always have to be based on the constant chatter of a teacher and her generalised ‘blanket’ cues ( as experienced as she is, she can’t feasibly speak for everyone).  Or paced with the prescriptive mantra of the breath of your fellow class attendees. Yoga doesn’t require an external noise source ( your teacher’s playlist ),  defining a choreographed plot line with a musical peak pose moment.

A silent, solitary, inward practice.

Self motivated. Without mirrors or selfie sticks.  Without the internet or a podcast. Without music. Without that hottie on the mat next to you. Without a teacher or his instruction. Without that ‘advanced’ student to follow along, in front of you. Without the back-drop of a rack synthetic hot pants for sale at the studio, or boxes of packaged vegan bars / trendy ( ok, delicious) cold pressed juices, the free coconut water that calls you to rush out of your savasana before it runs out.

Can I ask you to practice alone, in old, not particularly flattering but just comfortable clothes, on a no frills mat from Target rolled out in a little bit of space somewhere, with your eyes half closed?

A silent, solitary practice is where yoga takes flight. For here, without external reflection, the mind is drawn inward and you start to notice, and in time observe, sensation. The feelings of being in a physical body. The feeling of the muscles, bones, sinews, skin. The stretch of the fascia, the rebound. The sensation of the breath moving in and out of the body. And more subtly, the sensation of energetic movement and pattern. Each pose has an attendant sensation. Perhaps a little -or a great deal- different for every body. Perhaps changing every day. The actual quality of the sensation is not what matters. Noticing the quality, with curiosity,  without judgement or categorisation, is what matters.

This is the present moment. This is the gift we are given whilst placed in a physical body. Sensation which always already brings you to the present moment. The start and the end of the journey, sensation is forever present, woven through all experience.

 

 

 

 

Yin yoga, Myofascial release & Yoga for the Face!

Yin Yoga, Myo-Fascial Release and Face Yoga workshop:  A self-care workshop:

savasana
I’m holding an afternoon workshop on these three delicious gems of self care on Sunday May 22nd at Hummingbird Eco Retreat, Red Hill, on the Mornington Peninsula in the beautiful Yoga space there. 

EXPERIENCE Yin Yoga , a slow and mindful form of yoga designed to wipe your stress away physically and mentally and bring you to an altered state of being. Yin yoga is a beautiful adjunct to a busy life or indeed a more yang style yoga practice. In Yin yoga we concentrate on sensation in the present moment. It is literally the anti-thesis of multi-tasking, and at the same time it is a powerful physical practice, working on deep connective tissue to relieve the body of stagnant energies.


LEARN Myofascial self release techniques ( MFR ) to shift stubborn tightness in the fascia (the connective tissue ) and muscles, helping to release habitual muscular patterns and chronic pain and enhancing everyday mobility. We use tennis balls on trigger points and along acupuncture meridians to ease blocked energies, built up pain responses and chronic tension.


TRY out Yoga for the Face- a yoga facelift method to tone the face via its muscles – a workout we never think of doing but one that is just as important as all the muscles below the neck. Everyone knows that toned muscles don’t sag, and this is just as true for the face. Yoga for the Face also enhances circulation to help with clear smooth skin. On a less superficial note,  Yoga for the Face also helps with tension in the head, face and neck, bringing relief from headaches and jaw tension. 


RELAX with a guided Yoga Nidra meditation, deep relaxation through a mindful rotation of awareness.

The workshop includes notes on Myofascial techniques and tennis balls and sock for the MFR therapy, plus chai tea and a healthy gluten free/ dairy free snack.

1.30 – 4.30pm Sunday 22nd May

( this workshop would make a great early Mother’s day gift- vouchers available! )


Investment: $65
Couples/friends: $120 for two
Early bird price ( book & pay before May 8th ): $55,
$100 for two.

Suits all levels including absolute beginner and the established yoga student- and this includes most bodies!

Check out the lovely accommodation at Hummingbird if you want to make a weekend of it. http://hummingbirdeco.com.au/sleep/accommodation

Bookings for the workshop can be made via email :
heidi@yogaguerilla.com
or call/ text Heidi on 0403560850

The Habit of Yoga

My family and I recently packed up our lives and moved them elsewhere, from our lovely spacious home in a lonely part of the world to a smaller, kinda crummy rental home in a thriving community. For me, the most important thing, was to claim a mat sized space to call my own in which to practice my daily habit. Without that, I’d be lost.
Having moved from a place with a mini yoga studio to call my own, to a small and grubby room in which I also must have my writing desk and film making stuff and an increasing pile of bills, it seemed a bit of a bum deal at first. But once I rolled out that mat on the first morning, and did my practice, I claimed the little space and I was happy.
How lucky to have a space to call my own, with no lego to step on or under couch dustballs to ponder over in headstand. How lucky to have a daily practice, a damn serious habit… something that is a given, like brushing the teeth. Second nature.
Habit is a powerful thing, sometimes selfish, sometimes obtuse. Always there. Even when travelling, camping, sick, tired, busy, broke, distracted, upset- however we find ourselves.
Without it, we all are lost.
And of all the habits in the world, a self practice of yoga and meditation are the ones I have chosen. What a blessing.

Here is a quote from the illustrious Mary Oliver on Habit:
What some might call the restrictions of the daily office they find to be an opportunity to foster the inner life. The hours are appointed and named… Life’s fretfulness is transcended. The different and the novel are sweet, but regularity and repetition are also teachers… And if you have no ceremony, no habits, which may be opulent or may be simple but are exact and rigorous and familiar, how can you reach toward the actuality of faith, or even a moral life, except vaguely? The patterns of our lives reveal us. Our habits measure us. Our battles with our habits speak of dreams yet to become real.

On the way to the Outback we camped at the Showgrounds at Burra and found the perfect open air shed to practice in.

On the way to the Outback we camped at the Showgrounds at Burra and found the perfect open air shed to practice in.

Yogi food: Pumpkin Buckwheat Almond Bread….. a recipe!

A nourishing, protein rich, yeast-free, gluten-free breakfast or lunch bread.

This is my first recipe post on yogaguerilla’s blog.
I think I’ll be doing more as healthy, nourishing food is a major interest of mine.

Yogi food

Yogi food

I made this bread this morning before the heat of the day, and it baked while we were doing our practice. It was a perfect breakfast, delicious topped with yellow butter, high in protein and pleasantly filling. Eating your vegetables for breakfast is a wonderful thing. I had some for lunch, toasted, and it toasts beautifully, too.

I am not sure how long this would last on the counter, especially when it is hot like today, so perhaps pop it in the fridge after a day, if there is any left.
I am in no way a gluten free yogi, as I make my own rye based sourdough, wholegrain bread several times a week for my family. We tolerate gluten containing grains prepared properly (ie- fermented). However, several times a year I choose to take a few days to a week off from gluten (and often dairy) to give my system a break.

Be sure to use free range, pastured eggs. Anything else is just not fair on the chickens. No excuses. I have 6 out of my 8 chickens laying currently, so using up excess eggs is always a good thing.

Pumpkin is a good source of beta carotene, antioxidants, omega 3 (anti-inflammatory) and grounding, natural sweetness. Sweet potato would also work here, or a mix of the two.

Almonds are full of protein, plus omegas, vitamin E, calcium and fibre. In Ayurvedic medicine, almonds are said to promote ojas (essential life energy), and nourish the nervous system.

Eggs have recently become my best friend- a great source of protein, fats and vitamins and a quick easy filler, bringing you down to earth after a strong practice. I was vegan for years but find adding eggs and a little cultured dairy to my diet brings a much needed balance and nourishment when working the body so intently.

Buckwheat brings a rich supply of flavonoids- rutin being the key one- providing a lipid lowering effect, protecting against heart disease and blood clots. Buckwheat is a good source of manganese, copper and magnesium, which relaxes blood vessels and muscles, improving blood flow and nutrient delivery- that’s just what we yogi’s need after practice- and lowering blood pressure.

Ingredients:

450 g ( 3 cups) grated raw pumpkin ( I blitzed mine in the thermomix which left a few bigger chunks, they cooked through easily )

4 whole large free-range eggs (or 5 bantam eggs if you have smaller feathered friends )

1/2 tsp sea salt/ himalayan pink salt

1/4 cup (60 ml) cold pressed macadamia nut oil (olive oil works too, but coconut oil would be too dense and make for a constricted batter and a bread that is only good whilst warm. Cultured butter- melted and cooled- would also be delicious)

2 teaspoons gluten free baking powder- make sure it is fresh.

1 cup/100 gm almond meal- with or without skins ( I use whole activated -soaked and dried- almonds, ground to a flour in my thermomix )

1 cup/100 gm buckwheat flour

1/2 cup sorghum flour- or is you don’t have that, perhaps brown rice flour or another gluten free option.

1/2 cup true arrowroot- or perhaps sub’ in up to a tablespoon of coconut flour if you have a bag of it and are wondering how to use it ( ie- sparingly )

Note: You can experiment with the grain flours, to make up 200 gm/ 2 cups. Or use more almond meal, less grain flours if you like. I threw in some teff grain here ( 1/8 cup ) for the additional iron. If I had any chia on hand I would have used a bit of that, too. The batter should be thick but still move easily when you tip the bowl.
2 teaspoons molasses or rice syrup ( I did one of each) or not, if you are reducing sugars. The pumpkin provides sweetness as it is.
Seeds- sesame, sunflower, flax or pumpkin seeds to sprinkle on top

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 180 C , or 150 to 160 C if fan forced.
Mix the pumpkin, eggs, salt and oil in a bowl.
 Add the almond meal, grain flours and baking powder to bowl, and mix with a spoon so that no powder remains. 
Scrunch up a piece of baking/parchment paper and smooth out, and use it to line a large loaf tin.
 Dollop the mixture evenly into tin. Sprinkle the top with your chosen seeds.
Bake for approximately 1 hour if fan forced, up to 30 minutes longer if not. Test to see that no stickiness is left on a skewer. Ovens are so variable, so check after 1 hour and keep checking every 15 minutes if not cooked through.
 Remove from the oven and allow to rest in the tin for 15 minutes before pulling out in the baking paper and putting on a rack to cool.
Slice with a serrated knife.

Eat warm, cool or toasted. Tastes great with nut butter, soft butter, ghee, goats cheese or avocado. I’m thinking it would be nice with cinnamon or even ginger for a sweeter bread in winter,
Please share with your gluten free and yogi friends- and if you try it, let me know what you think.

YOGA, ACHES and PAIN- and what to do about them.

This is the first in a series of posts about the aches and pains that may arise from a regular or daily, physical yoga practice.

Like any other activity where you use your body- sport, working out at the gym, gardening, housework- aches and pains and injury may result. Lack of activity will also cause aches and pains ( think how you feel when you get off a plane, do some long distance driving or after a long day of sitting meditation )

It’s a part of living with a body.

Over the many years of my yoga practice, I have had various aches and pains move about my body as areas opened up, or strength was developed, or indeed if I performed an asana incorrectly or without mindful attention- so I have had much experience experimenting with what works to alleviate these pains.

Yoga is designed to balance the body, and this certainly means that it aims to create balance in flexibility and strength. Areas of the body that are flexible- especially over flexible, need support from muscle and bone strength. Areas of the body that are strong can be tight or blocked, and require flexibility to be efficient and comfortable. Keeping this in mind- and applying it to your own body specifics in a mindful way, can help prevent injury and even everyday aches and pains to a certain extent. Simply put, flexible people coming to yoga needs to work on strength, strong people- especially those with strong or ‘built’ muscles need to work on flexibility. But thats getting off topic a bit…

There are a lot of great things you can do to alleviate aches and pains and minor injuries, so I have split them into various categories over several posts:

Please note that I have only included what has worked for me personally- or my partner ( a tradesman, sportsman and long term yogi himself ) .. so while there are many studies out there, and I have read countless articles ( some shown in the links ) this is largely an anecdotal post.

I would love to hear from you if you have other tips apart from these… please make a comment below.

Supplements, tonics and foods that heal- Internal.

Magnesium– is a vital mineral in which so many people are deficient. Magnesium helps the body repair the muscles, essentially feeding them, so they grow larger and stronger. Magnesium eases muscle cramps and helps you relax, is additionally great for stress relief (which in turn relaxes the muscles) and encourages a good nights sleep. It helps keep the integrity of the bones with a synergy with calcium and Vitamin D, and it suppresses the parathyroid hormone which increases blood calcium levels ( not a good thing ) which will break down bone if in excess.
It is a vital nutrient for the functioning of the heart. It is alkalizing and helps hydrate in its use as an electrolyte.
Magnesium can be found in the diet in nuts- especially almonds, in seaweeds, buckwheat, and whole-grains prepared properly for digestion ( soaked overnight in water with a little yoghurt or lemon juice to help break down the phytates ) and leafy green vegetables.
HOWEVER magnesium is such an important mineral that it is the one nutrient I take as a supplement several times a week to ensure I am getting enough, especially if my muscles are aching.

Vitamin C is essential for the restoration of collagen, which helps to rebuild muscle tissue that has been broken down. This can happens when muscles are not used, or when muscle fibres tear, which happens when muscles ARE used ( strengthening muscles actually requires the muscles to have minute tears which heal, forming a denser stronger muscle).
Citrus fruits, tomatoes, berries, especially super berries like kiwi, goji, goldenberry and amla are high in C, as are many leafy greens and broccoli. Raw milk has vitamin C to some extent.
I tend not to take C as a supplement as it is so easy to find in the diet, and much easier on the stomach when taken as food.

Glucosamine,Chondroitin and Collagen ( Bone Broth or Stock )
Strict vegetarian yogi’s need to be aware this is not vegetarian, though I have heard that vegetarian supplements have been developed. Glucosamine and Chondroitin and Collagen are used for joint pain relief.

Glucosamine and Chondroitin supplements are expensive, however. Making your own stock from organic, free range animal bones is a cheap and highly bioavailable way of including these substances in your diet.
Happy, pastured chicken, cow, lamb or wild game animals (I wont partake of the mammals, personally, but I make them for my family ) OR wild caught fish bones from a non oily fish are all good things in which to make bone broth.

The gelatin found in bone broth is hydrophilic- which means it attracts and holds liquids, including digestive juices in the gut, thereby supporting proper digestion and absorption of the food it is cooked with (such as grains, soups etc) . It also helps with longer term hydration, holding liquid internally for longer. The gelatin in stock has the anti-inflammatory amino acids arginine, glycine and proline. It helps to heal the gut, and of course, the gut and digestion is the centre of all health.

Here is a link on how to make and use bone broth.
http://nourishedkitchen.com/bone-broth/

Kombucha

Kombucha has much anecdotal evidence supporting its use as a tonic for the body and a liver detox aid. Kombucha is also great for recovery IF you are used to caffeine and sugars, as it does still contain some of both after fermenting. I suggest having water first however, than going straight for the hard stuff, and not relying on Kombucha for energy as some people do with coffee. I find it very useful in relaxing over-used muscles, and give me a pleasant buzz- but I find it too over stimulating if taken after mid afternoon.
Many people have had success drinking kombucha- especially that brewed at home- for muscle pain, joint pain and arthritis, even fibromyalgia symptoms.
Kombucha can contain glucoric acid ( this has both been proven and disproven.. some say it has precursors to help the body produce its own glucoric acid) which is a great liver cleanser and helps with rebuilding the joints. It is full of probiotics, another way help make for a healthy gut.
Here a couple of sites to peruse about the use of Kombucha
http://www.cajunernie.com/arthritis.php
http://www.kombuchakamp.com/2011/04/kombucha-glucosamine-glucuronic-acid-athletes-healthy-connection.html

MSM is a natural nutrient that needs to be taken as a supplement as it occurs in small amounts in food. It is a type of sulfur, which is a vital building block of joints and cartilage ( as well as skin, hair and nails) and is also a methyl compound- which supports many vital biochemical processes in the body, including production of energy.
It is often taken with glucosamine and chondroitin for joint health.
Here is a link about MSM from a company that produces the stuff and as far as I can tell it is vegan, or vegan options are around.
http://www.msmguide.com/jointpain/sportsjointpain/

Coconut water… a glass of coconut water supplies you with the salts, sugars and electrolytes required for hydration. Make sure your choice of coconut water is not from concentrate… better still drink it straight from the nut. Coconut water can hydrate quickly and help prevent muscles from seizing up after use or over use. Remember, dehydration can be the main cause of headaches and muscle aches!

Green foods are seen as anti inflammatory, as they are alkaline forming, not acidifying.
An acidic body- one that has high levels of acid ( in the blood) will have high levels of calcium being leached into the blood from the bones, the teeth and bones will weaken.
I tend to think our diets should be based around vegetables, with a lot of them leafy green vegetables, slightly cooked for better absorption and digestion.
Warm foods tend to be much gentler on the yogi’s body and hence nourishing to the muscles, joints and bones than raw foods… raw foods are best in summer and in the middle of the day- but that is another post altogether. ( yoga and food )
Green food powders are widely available, and often used for their alkalising properties. While I have bought them many times, I have never been able to incorporate them in my daily life, and they end up lurking- far past their use by date- in the back of the fridge. I suppose I’m just more into eating green veggies, personally, than powdered green foods.

Ghee– over the years I have had several Indian Master teachers tell me to ‘Eat more ghee’- usually in a stern and commanding tone. Ghee is a pure oil made from cow butter which has been heated and strained to clarify, removing the milk solids and lactose.
Ghee contains vitamins D, E, K and Omegas 3 and 9- but should always be sourced or made from grass fed butter in order to have good levels of the above.
Ghee is used in Ayurvedic medicine to lubricate the joints and nourish the muscles, amongst many other uses and is highly regarded for its ability to facilitate the absorption of the beneficial substances present in the foods with which it is prepared or served.
The reason yoga and pranayama teachers often recommend eating more ghee is for recovery after strong yoga practices ( and exercise, including childbirth ), building strength and for muscle repair. It also does a great deal towards calming the vata dosha and soothing pitta dosha. I’ve been prescribed 4 tablespoons a day! And although I love the stuff and use it instead of butter on everything, 4 TB’s is quite a feat.
Make ghee yourself! It is a lovely process, and costs far less to buy organic butter to make your own, than to buy the ghee pre-made.
Ghee can also be used externally as a body rub (but that’s for the next post, where I go into detail on the remedies and practices taken externally)

and last, but never least…WATER

The very first thing you should do after practice is drink water- every time, no exceptions.
Quality, purified, alkaline water, served room temperature and drunk in abundance.
Yoga practice releases toxins, and if you are not well hydrated after (and before) your practice you are doing yourself a real disservice. Not only from not allowing the body to flush out the toxins – and built up lactic acid- through the kidneys, but robbing your muscles of the water they need to recover. Fascia needs water to function properly, as does skin- to stretch and remain elastic.

If you find that water sits uncomfortably in your gut, seeming to not be absorbed and leaving you feeling bloated, you need to find better water. It’s quite possible that the water you are drinking is lifeless, and not hydrating to the body- being chlorinated, acidic or stale, or full of impurities such as VOC’s ( volatile organic compounds found in paints, chemicals, plastics and always major components of modern air and water pollution )

I have had many water filters over the years, but the one I have stuck with for the past 10 years is the Nikken PiMag water system. The PiMag filter removes impurities, toxins and chlorines out and, mimicking a natural waterfall, negatively ionises, alkalises and remineralises the water, with silver stones for anti bacterial purposes. Plus it is magnetised on the way out of the spigot. I have heard it referred to as a ‘structured water’ – which is highly absorbable, just like water flowing in a stream ( but in this day and age, quite likely a lot cleaner)

It is sweet and delicious and when you own a PiMag water system you find that you finally begin to drink the amount of water you should ( I also use it in all my cooking ) – and it’s then you begin to notice the benefits of a well hydrated body.
Many yoga and pilates studios and gyms are choosing the Nikken PiMag water filter to provide the best water for their students and themselves, and can write the cost off in their taxes!

PiMag waterfall water filter

PiMag waterfall water filter

One more point about water- it should be room temperature, or warm, never cold or chilled. Cold water on an empty stomach, or for that matter on a belly with digesting food, is not good for anyone, it literally freezes the guts, slowing down absorption and digestion.

To find out about PiMag water click here : http://www.nikken.com/product/technology/piMag-water/

I do sell these water systems ( available to 40 countries ) at a discount for followers of this blog, so if you are interested please contact me on heidi (at sign) yogaguerilla (dot) com

I have no affiliation with any of the products I use above EXCEPT the Nikken magnets (next post) and the PiMag Water filters- which I love and believe in, and have seen so many positive effects through- I decided to sell myself!
Please be sure to follow this blog for the next post on this topic Yoga, Aches and Pain- External and share it with fellow yogi’s and friends.

A comment- or if you have another tip that you favour yourself- is always appreciated.

Om
Heidi – yogaguerillagrrl

Finding presence. Yoga as Meditation.

In the first year or two of a solid, committed YOGA practice you are learning the asanas (yoga poses). Your body responds by cleaning out, your strength and flexibility increase, your energy begins to flow clearly and your muscles and joints re-calibrate. Your system is able to detoxify more easily and your metabolism increases. You may discover the breath and how very deep and wide- and how very shallow and still- it can be.

Over more years, more practice, more attention, you discover how the breath and the body and indeed the pose are all one and the same, simultaneously. You begin to find some acceptance of the body- as within the exploration of breath you realise the body is far bigger than you ever imagined. Without borders. You feel the breath as the ocean, swelling and subsiding, beyond the physical limits of the body.
You begin to know a pose as a path of energy encompassing the body mind and breath- often changing in nature from day to day. No longer a collection of arms and legs, muscles and bones- with the breath thrown in from the outside.

You begin to sense that – ‘hey… the body is not me. It is something providing sensation.’ You look at sensation and see – ‘hey… these sensations come and go like the wind, the sensation is not me.’
And the thoughts- as much as we believe they are us, and give them such primacy, such value- almost attributing them with substance- we come to realise:
‘hey… my thoughts are not me, they come and go but I can be aware of them’
You feel the flow of breath and you begin to have an idea that indeed, you are being breathed.

The mind, the breath and the body and the energies within are forever in flux- they can not be defined as self.

Within your yoga practice, especially evident in self practice, is the vital task of cultivating awareness of the sensations of the asana, and the movement in and out of each pose. Awareness of the way the breath feels as your lungs fill and your ribs expand. The sensation of the parts of the body that touch the mat, the stretch in the muscles, the skin, the placement of the bones. The shapes of the energy as it moves. The bodily feeling of being in yoga.

Naturally, with practice, with time and with intent, you begin to become aware of certain thought habits that tether you to a limited reality. The grasping towards the idea of singular self, the ‘me’. The ego at work. The self-categorisation ( I’m tired, I’m flexible, I’m strong, I’m hopeless at this, I’m so spiritual etc, etc ).
The self limiting boxes we place ourselves in.

The practice of becoming mindful of habitual thoughts is key to progress in yoga practice. It is an integral step towards going beyond the physical- finding the spiritual- in yoga. As you become familiar with your familiar habits of perception, the conceptualisations that we build and have had built around us, and you see that everything that is perceivable comes and goes in a state of flux- it becomes clear that what goes on in your mind has nothing to do with the Real.

They manifest in myriad ways, these patterns and constructs… it may be the way you are a little averse to poses that deeply flex the ankles ( yep, that’s me right there ), but love a good deep forward bend or could hang out forever in an incorrectly executed headstand.
It may be a habitual, unexplored way of doing a pose, or a stuck-ness in a joint or muscle system. A catching of the breath. A hesitation. The way a pose triggers a thought association that can lead you off your mat even as you continue moving the body…. the way the mind plays extended remixes of high drama, on replay, ad infinitum. These are only a few, but the ones I have personally seen play out, either staying around and playing for a while or slipping away as fast as they arrive- over and over- within the past 25 years of various Yoga practices.

Our awareness of reality is clouded by avoidance and attraction- our minds swing from attachment to aversion, aversion to attachment, grasping in a habitual way.
Once we begin to even notice this vacillation between thoughts of
‘Oooh yes, I like this, I want more of this, I’m holding on to this’ and ‘No, don’t like that, yucko, I’m pushing that one away ‘, we begin to let it go.

Yoga is all about letting go.

Letting go of the grasping, of the pushing, or the fabrications and constructions. Realising that they are not you. Releasing, as they arise, the judgements and the comparisons. The personal and societal perceptions. The false concept that mind and body are split.

The lonely lie of the limited self.

Finding the neutral spaces between the grasping towards and pushing away, is finding yoga, the raw spaces where future thinking and past reflecting are not in attendance.

Yoga is finding and developing- with intentional curiousity and exploration– those moments where you can drop in to the presence that is ALWAYS ALREADY there. Always has been, always will be. Learning and practicing this focus is discovering freedom, for when you let go of boundaries, you find freedom. The presence of being..

Wat Po, Bangkok- Yoga sculputre- utplutihi

Yogis CAN go camping, too!

Lookout meditator

Handy bench, amazing view. The weather changed every few minutes up here on a lookout hill on a private 4WD track at Alpana Station.

So quiet in the middle of everywhere and nothing with incredibly ancient rocks

So quiet in the middle of everywhere and nothing with incredibly ancient rocks

It’s been a long time since we went camping. I grew up camping- the real kind of camping, the find-a-spot-far-out-in-the-bush off the beaten track, far-from-the-maddening-crowds kind of camping. No services, no toilet, no shower, no reception, no nothing. Except everything nature supplies. The bring-everything-you-need kind of camping, including a shovel for when nature calls and plenty of water.

However once we had kids, camping became more of a hassle for these particular Yogi’s, more than we ( ok, I ) could imagine getting excited about. Hassles like sleep deprivation, like kids that liked to wander- but weren’t old enough to safely, like nappies and poo and no baths for days on end. Like the thought of tackling motherhood insomnia/ hyper vigilance on seriously uncomfortable camping mats, whinging kids on a long road trip, etc etc.

But recently the call of the desert returned in an intense way, and I wanted more than anything to take the family to the Outback, away from the easy green of our country home, away from the Thermomix and the I-gadgets and Mine-craft. Away from all comforts including my lovely little warm, flat and dry yoga studio at home.

The thing about a daily self practice in Yoga, if I am quite honest, is that it limits what you do in your life. It is a marvellous, transformational life practice, but limiting all the same.
‘No sorry I can’t have breakfast in bed I have to do my practice ‘…
Getting up at the cracker and rolling out your mat may be hard to make into a habit at first, but after 25 years of doing it, it’s a near impossible habit to break. It defines your life. Truly. So camping was out of the picture for more than a moon day night or two as it all seemed too difficult, and indeed quite selfish, to get the kids to wait around while we did our morning practice.

But then the kids GREW UP a little and started looking after themselves… So, quite spontaneously, we decided to go camping for REAL. With a few concessions from me (like leaving Weet-bix and tinned fruit out for them to serve themselves instead of a hot, nourishing kind breakfast.. oh the horror, the guilt, the shame ) and a shortened practice ( Ashtanga primary series only, often only to Navasana ) the kids were able to look after and entertain themselves in a wonderfully independent way. They were free to roam and wander through the bush as they liked, as long as they were within coo-eee of their parents and stuck together. The kids had fun in their freedom, the parents had respite in our freedom, and our bodies recovered from the rigours of sleeping rough and days crammed into the 4WD. I dropped the need to do all poses, everyday, and it was all good.
Here a some photos of our yoga and meditation on this recent trip to the Flinders ranges and Arkaroola. 12 days of sleeping on hard mats and doing less, gentler but utterly delightful yoga on ancient earth in sacred places.

On the way to the Outback we camped at the Showgrounds at Burra and found the perfect open air shed to practice in.

On the way to the Outback we camped at the Showgrounds at Burra and found the perfect open air shed to practice in.

Burra

Beautiful warm sun, so stiff and sore after the first 1000 kms or so.

salutes

Alpana Station- first morning, sun salutes

standing meditator

Free Ranging Kids

Free Ranging Kids

Roo watching

Alpana

Handy tarp for keeping off the bindi bindi’s ( nasty prickles )

upward

More free range kids- imagine having this many

More free range kids- imagine having this many

second morning- pre practice photo

second morning in Alpana- pre-practice photo. It was so lovely there we stayed longer than planned.

wilpena hike

Always save some energy to hike, (skip the 20 backbends sequence)

at it AGAIN

at it AGAIN

Above the amazing old Blinman Copper mine- fragments of malachite everywhere.

Above the amazing old Blinman Copper mine- fragments of malachite everywhere.

My turn- leave me alone for 10 minutes now, please!

My turn- leave me alone for 10 minutes now, please!

Sandy dry river beds have the perfect flat, firm and shaded ground for practice- Arkaroola.

Sandy dry river beds have the perfect flat, firm and shaded ground for practice- Arkaroola.

Ardha Baddha Padma in Arkaroola

arkaroola pranayama

headstand lift

supine in river bed

Supine in river bed

football heart opener

Football Heart Opener

footy hamstring support

Football hamstring support, shavasana

On the way home- Broken Hill motel. Not ideal but better than nothing- of course being smaller I got the dodgy spot. And a lovely hot shower.

On the way home- Broken Hill motel. Not ideal but better than nothing- of course being smaller I got the dodgy spot. And a lovely hot shower.