Happy? Go do some yoga!

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When I first wrote a blog a while back about how we feel about ourselves when we look in a mirror, I never expected I would write a Part 2, but there were a couple of moments that compelled me to write a follow up after another reflective time I experienced at yoga recently.

Again like the blog before, I felt the need to do some yoga after feeling a bit down and disjointed. So, I scrambled around in the bottom of my wardrobe for some appropriate gear, got in the car and started to drive, switching on the radio to break the silence as I headed to the yoga studio. I began to listen to BBC Radio London.

They were talking about what people do to feel happy when things are not going right in your life, in other words;

What’s your go-to when you need a pep-up? Some people drink, some people eat and some people go to the gym or do other things to get to that go-to.

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When I go to the gym it helps a lot to get to a kind of go-to, but when I really need to feel seriously clicked into a good mood, nothing for me beats a spot of hot yoga.

It’s taken a while for me to realise that this is my go-to. But going always helps to give my mind the mental gym it so needs and is almost instant in lifting my mood and spirits.

This is also what happened while looking in the mirror in the yoga studio. I felt awesome and strong, as if I’d found a new type of religion. It felt comforting, soothing and enlightening. Almost like an epiphany type of experience.

I could see a reflection of myself who was someone totally different to the person I saw in the mirror a while back. This time I happily found myself smiling when I fell out of postures and when I struggled to do anything, I dug deep inside to find a strength I never knew I had.

Falling out of postures and the difficulty I have been encountering with this recently in yoga has really tested my resilience of late, but in this session I didn’t stress too much. I rested when I needed to and for the first time in ages it felt absolutely fine just to do that.

With over a year of doing Hot Bikram yoga under my belt, I’m at the stage where at times the sessions feels like I’ve hit the proverbial wall. Indeed my mojo often keeps parking itself in despondent city.

But during this session I kept on telling myself, ‘You can do this’.

Then it happened … The click I needed got me to the end of the class without too much stress or calamity. In other words; the serotonin levels kicked in and the good vibes began to flow.

Afterwards my yoga teacher applauded and hugged me and was in extreme praise of how hard I had worked. It all felt amazing! https://bebrainfit.com/mental-health-benefits-yoga

Perhaps I’m exaggerating when I compare yoga to a type of religion, but I’m glad I had a bit more of fulfilling time than my mother’s experiences at the local church she attended recently, the one that she goes to on a regular basis.

Unfortunately she didn’t feel remotely near to any of the feelings I’ve just described. This is despite going here for over ten years, saying hello to people and adapting a friendly  and open approach when there. She still rarely finds they are reciprocal in her approach. Indeed after the service, she left feeling isolated, lonely and sad at a time when she was hoping divine intervention would have lifted her mood.

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I guess what I’m trying to say is that whatever makes you happy, do it. Whatever your ‘go-to‘ is, use it to help you get through the down times.

However, if your goto doesn’t work every time, try something else as well. You need a back up. My mother has discovered that she uses going for regular walks as her back up go-to when she needs a mood lift. 

I’m also encouraging her to get up go and find a new church for her go-to. The current one she attends is quite clearly failing in its doctrine of welcoming everyone with kindness and love.

So enjoy your journey to happiness and wherever you may find it, get going to your goto fast!

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Namaste    

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Yoga:What’s your mirror image saying?

 

mirror-983427_1280It’s hard to look at yourself; I mean REALLY look at yourself. However twice a week this is what I do when I pitch up to do some Hot Bikram Yoga.

Sometimes the mirror image I see under these circumstances is really difficult to face. I often scrutinise the big belly I have, or even in a yoga studio full of men and women, I’m always convinced I stand out as being the only one who isn’t flexible enough; or even if I match up to the other yogis and their brilliant yoga poses.

Last week was one of those moments. Everything I did in the class felt wrong. I was hard on myself and it hurt. No; it wasn’t so much a physical hurt, it was a mental hurt. I went into the class feeling really disjointed and emotional.

It was no big surprise as I couldn’t kick away the dark moment I was feeling when I woke up that morning. I didn’t know what to do for the best or how to feel better, so I ended up going to do some yoga.

My negative inner voice in the class just wouldn’t shut up though. It kept going into overdrive;

“What the hell are you doing? Go home, you shouldn’t be here. There’s no point, YOU’RE USELESS!”

It was hard but I managed to stay right to the very end. I was determined to see it through.

My yoga teacher could see my inner turmoil messing with my head and her voice was comforting, soothing and nurturing.

As the class ended, I lay on my mat in Savasana and that was when the tears started to fall. I hid my head behind my towel and cried. No wonder they say this is one of the hardest postures to do! All you need to do is just lie still and do nothing. It’s not as easy as it seems.

The studio eventually became empty and I lay there sobbing. That was when my yoga teacher spotted me.

“I knew I shouldn’t have come; a friend of mine passed away recently and I went to her funeral just a few days ago. I’m feeling far too raw. I thought that if I came here I’d be able to sort my head out, but I’ve made myself feel worse.”

I tried to explain myself to her through the tears that were now refusing to stop falling. I sounded ridiculous and pathetic.

She gave me a hug, held my hand and said;

“I’m so sorry for your loss. Sometimes yoga is just what you need. The fact that you turned up and didn’t leave meant you were supposed to be here. The warmth that you get from the studio is a literal and healing thing.”

I’m often a real cynic about the yoga I do. When I look in the mirror I see someone who is chubby, clumsy and awkward. I fall out of postures often and at times I wonder what benefit I am getting out of it all.

But for the first time someone saw me in a different way in comparison to the person I saw in the mirror. My yoga teacher saw that I needed to be there in the studio and the yoga I had just completed aided me to arrive at a crucial stage in my day. It gave me the ability to really let go, cry and begin to grieve for my friend.

I have in the past experienced some yoga teachers who can come across as being disconnected from their students. They are quick to give you sarcastic comments when you rush into a class late; or decide to give you some soul destroying comment when they think you’re not trying hard enough. It’s hard for them to realise that we all come into the studio with differing issues we’re trying to leave at the door.

I am truly blessed that my yoga teacher on that day wasn’t like that. She saw way beyond the postures I was doing and helped me through the tears. She was intuitive, kind and incredibly understanding. Yoga teachers like her can truly reach out to you in ways that are far more beneficial to your body and mind than perfecting a particular posture or breathing in a certain way.

Every now and then THEY WILL give you a hug and REALLY see the person staring back at you in the mirror. THEY WILL SEE YOU as someone of real worth and value. They can give you the reassurance that to just turn up to a class is enough and when the class ends, they don’t mind if you have a cry afterwards because they will sometimes comfort you when you really need it!

So, who do you really see staring back at you in a yoga studio? Are you being too hard on yourself when you can’t do a particular posture? If this is the case, you need to remember;

It’s only Yoga … but you never know what you might experience in a class.

 

 

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65731-yogacartoon

Namaste!

(Copyright: Steph Js 2017)

This Blog is dedicated VP who passed away on the 22nd January 2017. RIP my friend. x 

A Treat after Netball (A Short Story)

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A Treat after Netball (A Short Story)

The first time I was offered up what I felt at the time was a plate of vomit, I must have been around twelve or thirteen years old.

The experience began when I came home from school one day after a netball tournament. Mum had promised that I could have sausages and mash for dinner as a treat if we won. As I bounced happily down the street, thinking of our victory and how we had won the against the local school by a whopping 6-0. I was filled with a huge feeling of euphoria and looking forward to my big teatime treat.

When I opened the door to our house that evening, I unleashed a horror that I shall never forget. I was hit by a stench so powerfully pungent and rancid. It caused the saliva in my mouth to instantly create a mold of foamy bitter juices. I put my hand over my mouth and found it hard to suppress the gagging reflexes forcing the urge my body now had to retch. My eyes prickled and filled with tears that felt bulbous, ready to explode out of their sockets.

It was obvious she was in a mood. Dad hadn’t come home again. He was probably out gambling again. I was too scared to say anything and just sat down. I gawped and felt awkward as I shifted in my chair, looking at the offering in front of me; horrified and in disbelief. This wasn’t supposed to be my treat!

She banged down the plate on the table. There was such a force behind her actions that some of the putrid, rank lumps of muck splattered across the table. I felt my whole body recoil in disgust and I froze, not daring to wipe away the blob of flesh that had caught my face. I was contaminated.

I looked down at the pretty pink and chintz flowered plate that had been tainted with something so vile, my first immediate thoughts were that it was something the devil would force down your throat, if you had the misfortune to wind up in the deepest depths of hell. My second thoughts were that I must be in hell.

“What are you waiting for…Christmas? EAT!”

That day was the first time I tried a traditional West Indian specialty; Pigs Trotters served up with soggy rice and limp over-boiled cabbage on the side

A Treat after Netball (A Short Story)

COPYRIGHT: SJS 2016

Transformation: Have you recently gone through ONE?

 

What TRANSFORMATION have you recently gone through? 

A transformation can happen when one puts on a mask, make-up or some other type of costume to disguise or beguile. Equally the metamorphosis of this act can mean that we change in nature or character.

Recently I have the good fortune (or some would say misfortune!) to wear some of the most spectacularly, ghoulishly hideous, but brilliant make-up & costumes over Halloween I have ever seen.

Every year anyone that knows me well always hears me carp on about how Halloween is just for children. I don’t really believe in almost grown men and women of seventeen (or older!) knocking on my door with their mates shouting in their near to broken voices ‘Trick or treat! and expecting me to give them sweets or money for some ciggies.

I kid you not; the “children” that have knocked on my door on Halloween, are old enough to know better and have asked me for treat money to buy cigarettes!

Somewhat bemused, I often slam the door in their faces. When I hear them laughing and walking away, I’m always relieved that they haven’t pelted my windows with eggs or that they do something even more sinister for my trick.

But this year, I wished that if they had knocked on my door, I would have greeted them like this:

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After all the kids who have seen me in this get-up when working, have been really tentative, secretly peering at me from behind their parents back and wondering if the woman they were seeing in front of them is really as nasty in personality as she looked. Then they seem puzzled when I have been charming, smiley and congenial towards them; instead of the angry looking, scarred individual.

However as we approach the end of the year, I have to REFLECT on the difficult times I’ve experienced that has transformed me into someone completely altered to how I was before the year began.

This person is someone who has had to take a cathartic, liberating and deep look at myself and I’ve emerged more resilient, ready to face those who dare to try and besmirch me and all I value and love.

I have seen people that I thought I knew; try to transform me through their lies into a person that was evil, ugly and not me all…

But…

“I KNEW MYSELF TO BE TRUE…”  

… And when I started to feel the knives in my back and certain people ganging up on me, I felt completely powerless to stop them. It was hard to stay strong. I became more and more despondent and depressed, wondering who to trust. I trusted no one.

My family and loved ones have continued to hold me up through this time (both physically and mentally) and believe in me as one by one, so called friends stopped calling and texting. I realised that WHATEVER HAPPENS my family were never going to let me down or forsake me, turn their back on me or leave me to suffer.

My life now has been completely transformed again into someone who is more closely guarded and less trusting of others. I am slowly getting through the quagmire that has been at times like a real life horror film.

As well as my family, I am relying on my muse to get me through the dark moments; the late great Maya Angelou, whose wisdom always continues to transform me into a much more stronger person worthy of holding her head up high. Reading her quotes and books is the uplift I have needed right now.

I’ve also started to take pictures of things that spark my inspiration. I’m enjoying being the creative person I once was before the ugliness began to seep into my life. I am beginning to find a strength and confidence in myself once more.

When I passed this board at Leicester Square station in London recently…

People must have thought I was weird as I literally stopped dead in my tracks and smiled while staring at it for a good few minutes!

The words were perfect for just right now! It seemed apt that the word ‘FUTURE’ in the sign was partially faded because I don’t know how long this feeling of euphoria will last or even what the future holds…

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Don’t get me wrong, although I have since learnt that those who conspired to hurt me, had indeed lied. I still feel ANGER about it all and SOMETIMES I feel myself TRANSFORMING once again into a monster, riling at the injustice of it all!

However with Dr. Maya Angelou‘s words and legacy, I am learning to turn my anger into much better things.

Here’s what she says about being angry:

“You should be angry. You must not be bitter. Bitterness is like cancer. It eats upon the host. It doesn’t do anything to the object of its displeasure. So use that anger. You write it. You paint it. You dance it. You march it. You vote it. You do everything about it. You talk it. Never stop talking it.” Maya Angelou

 EVERYDAY I TRY TO RISE ABOVE IT…

http://quotesgram.com/what-goes-around-comes-around-quotes-and-sayings/

So this is a picture of me … SMILING and TRANSFORMED into a person that feels a bit more OK (ish) about things and someone who my sister Suzette (RIP) once said to…

“Go out and conquer the world”.

(Suzette C.S, 24th July 2001)

Well I’m not too sure about whether I’ll be able to do that, but I feel in a much more relaxed, stronger and confident place to be able to conquer all the nasties that may come my way. (for now!!)

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Here’s hoping that whatever TRANSFORMATION you may have to go through, becomes one that TRANSFORMS you into a  wonderful person and a better place in your life full of much love and happiness! 

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Namaste

Copyright: SJS 2016