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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Namaste!

(Copyright: Steph Js 2017)

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

Am I Dreaming?

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Dreams have a funny way of bouncing around your body, rattling your mind and launching you into a feeling of discombobulation and mass hysteria. Just a few moments of extremely lucid dreams at night can cause you to become All shook up. Just like the proverbial Elvis Presley track; it can play havoc with your mind.

Wes Craven had an interpretation of what a really bad dream can actually do to you. They’d come into your life under the guise of Freddy Krueger and the A Nightmare on Elm Street film franchisee.

Imagine some dodgy looking bloke with a serious skin complaint, an Indiana Jones hat on his head and in desperate need of a manicure haunting your dreams? It’s enough to put you in therapy for the rest of your life!

There is of course the flip side to the bloody slasher movie of the 80’s filling your nightime slumber; and that is the Disney Fairy type of dream. This is when everything you visualise in the land of nod is terrifically peachy and all things fabulous come knocking on your door.

If you have one of these types of dreams at night, you are a rare breed of person and long may your reign of pretty, sleepy time visuals last forever and ever.

I’ve never had dreams like that before. Ever since I was in my late teens I have no idea why, but my dreams have taken on some really violent, macabre tones. My nightmares might not begin on Elm Street, but they have been the catalyst for some terrible dreams where I have encountered some really dreadful things. When I have woken up from these dreams, it has often taken me the best part of a day to completely erase the visuals that have haunted me that night. However, I’m always hoping for some brighter pictures to crowd my nocturnal dreams.

I was even more anxious about this way back in 2001 when my sister suddenly passed away. Every time I visited her grave, I’d utter the words to urge her to;

Come and visit me in my dreams for a chat and make me smile once more.

I really believed that she would; but it never happened. My sister was gone. I will never forget her and I think about her every day. I sorely miss seeing her smile and the joy of her. She was my best friend and would help me to anchor onto a secure and more comforting place that I once knew.

And then something happened …

It was an ordinary night.  Nothing in particular brought on a moment of deep contemplation before going to bed. But before I knew it, I found myself fully immersed in a dream.

In the dream I was preparing to go out somewhere, but every time I tried to leave the house a force so immense kept drawing me back. I wondered if it was my memory; had I forgotten something?

No… that wasn’t it.

My other half and my daughter were waiting for me outside in the car. They were surprisingly patient and calm when I explained that I couldn’t leave until I had sorted this out.

My head was all a jumble. I just couldn’t understand why I felt so lost and trapped in a situation that was making me feel deep anxiety. Still I continued to search for something that kept dragging me back like a magnet to find this important thing; but what it was I couldn’t say.

Dejected at not having solved the mystery, I proceeded to leave. I was defeated when I went over to our spare bedroom ready to close the door and leave.

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And there she was…my sister.

I was delightfully shocked! ELATED and DAZED by the vision of her.

“Where have you been all this time? I’ve missed you so much.”

As the words tripped out of my mouth. I began blubbering uncontrollably, unable to believe the miracle of seeing my sister once more.

“What are you talking about stupid; I’ve been here all along!”

We both smiled and hugged each other… and then I woke up.

Yes, dreams really do have a funny way of tipping you into an abyss of nastiness. But occasionally, they are very telling as to where the life compass is directing you to be right now.

In my case it pointed me to a realisation and a belief that I had lost sight of for a while. That no matter how much time has passed; the people you have lost never leave you. They are always there, waiting for you to find them once more and comfort you when you’re least expecting it.

As for the ones who are there for you every day; they are ever patient at giving you their unconditional love, warmth and understanding. They will LITERALLY wait for you when you need them to be there and hold your hand when the nightmares cause chaos and mess with your mind in your waking life.

So … enjoy your dreams in whatever guise they may come in. Fully embrace the subliminal messages they may bring.

You never know, what they might be trying to tell you and here’s hoping that it’s someone you truly need to see again.

BTW: This Blog is dedicated to my darling sister Suzette, who passed away on 24th July 2001. She was a MASSIVE Elvis Presley fan, thanks for the memories my love x

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Namaste

Copyright: SjS 2017

 

A Hot Yoga Poem

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Forgive me Inner hot Yogi Self, for I have sinned…

It is three months since I graced the presence of your company and felt the warmth of the forty degree ray of heat healing my body.

I long to feel my joints stretch into submission and relax once more; rather than the stiffness of my knees, cracking like twigs in sympathy with the coldness of the weather.

I miss the 26 postures and even the familiar way that the yoga teachers describe the postures in strange and funny ways.

Like the teacher who says “Time to get rid of your wind!” or the one who dares you to smile and not take it all so seriously.

I want to go back. To a time when I slept like a baby at bedtime and woke only when daybreak came; entering a new challenge, a new day or a life centered and with purpose.

It seems like such a long time ago when I was in a crowded room in what seems like a million sweaty bodies, all working to find the pinnacle of enlightenment in a ninety minute meltdown.

But I don’t miss the sweaty bodies though, just the camaraderie of it all!

Will I be forgiven when I go back?

For I have given into the laziness of winter. It is constantly luring me to sit and vegetate in front of the television.

I find myself watching it hypnotically, as my thighs and stomach spread largely due to the overexertion of eating…

And will I receive a critical eye from the yoga teacher as I slip into the back of the room, hoping that no one can feel the guilt I feel at having left you for what seems an eternity?

The answer dear hot yogi self is no.

All thoughts of negativity are left at the door.
Just come back quickly, get there when you can.

Roll out your mat with PRIDE and take your place WITH confidence.
For in the yoga world, there is no judgement or noise, or song and dance because you didn’t come back sooner…

Just a warm enveloping heat, with plenty of smiles.

And some peace and harmony once more.

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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…

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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