♥ Here are 3 of my favourite short practices to help you feel grounded and stable in an embodied way. Enjoy!
♥ Here are 3 of my favourite short practices to help you feel grounded and stable in an embodied way. Enjoy!
Autumn is happening all around us…
Last Saturday I was outside of Canterbury in a little village in the middle of the fields. It was raining and the hills looked misty. The leaves on the trees started turning red and yellow. It was a great Autumn day.
And I was with a group of lovely women in a cosy yurt, with a wood burner throwing a warm and soothing light, a soft music playing and a little altar with candles, gift pouches and healing cards in the middle of the room.
We were gathered for Sacred Pause Day Yoga Retreat. A second one I hosted at the same place. But last time it was summer time and very hot and sunny outside. A completely different experience.
> we created a circle with our mats and bolsters and got comfortable with blankets and many cushions
> we practiced gentle embodied mindful yoga in the morning and yin/restorative yoga in the afternoon
> we took time to meditate and breath deeply
> we took time to reconnect with our bodies and our inner experience
> we practiced listening deeply to our body’s wisdom
> we practiced with curiosity and kindness
> we connected with each other with compassion
> we did a yin ritual
> we had lots of warm Yogi and Pukka teas
> we had nutritious vegan lunch and chatted happily
And it was a perfect Autumn day – a day of Yin season.
Autumn is a perfect time to embrace more YIN
Following our Sacred Pause Day Retreat one of the participants send me this note:
‘Interesting Saturday made me connect with how tired I was, … then in the evening I felt really relaxed and revived! The last 2 nights I have slept really well and started the week refreshed rather than exhausted! So a good start, plus got up 10 mins earlier to do stretches!’
And that’s what Yin offers you when you embrace it..
… when you just let go of constant striving and doing….
… and you lean into the support of Mother Earth and support available around you.
Yin is a heart medicine
It’s a feminine soothing energy that heals deeply. Especially in our constantly busy society.
It allows us to re-connect deeply and find our own rhythm. And live in line with Natures’s rhythm. Just like we are build to do.
>> SO WHAT CAN YOU DO OVER THE NEXT FEW DAYS TO EMBRACE YIN IN YOUR LIFE?
I’d love to know!
Do you know that VITALITY is another byproduct of responding skilfully to your needs?
…maybe we need to start with defining what vitality is.
What I see is that in our society vitality is being portrayed as jumping out of bed in the morning and welcoming your day with open arms and a big smile on your face, being ready to conquer the world!
In my eyes that’s a really bad way of looking at vitality.
Yes, sometimes you can wake up and jump out of bed full of joy and wonder.
But life is not like that all the time…
Sometimes you might struggle with your business/work, or be very tired from a busy period of work or looking after children, or have a disagreement with someone, or a loved one is ill or dying.
In those times I doubt that you will jump out of bed full of beans!
Does it mean that you have to loose your vitality and wellbeing? Does it mean we can only be ok when life is ‘rosy’?
If that’s your belief then I’m sorry to say but you’re screwed…
Because life is life and those challenges are part of it.
And there is another way…
A way that allows us to be real in our lives and the same time stay fully engaged.
A way to bring more pragmatic wisdom and skilful action into our lives. ☝️
A way that can help us stay connected and responsive to our needs within challenging circumstances.
It’s simply about showing up for yourself, acknowledging your feelings and responses, honouring your needs and above all responding to those needs with compassion.
It will look different for each one of us.
You might need:
> more time on your own
> more time with loved ones
> journal about your feelings and inner processes
> talk with others
> seek professional support
> move your body more
> seek more stillness
> change your job
> cut things out in your business
> shift your focus more into whatever nourishes your soul
It’s just so personal and individual. There is no cookie cutter approach. It’s just your inner wisdom guiding you to what you need.
And so vitality might mean eating well and taking rest so you don’t exhaust yourself and keep your energy levels steady.
It might mean going to your regular yoga sessions and have a movement practice that is right for you right now.
It might mean taking any other skilful action to nurture your vitality.
Because even in those challenging times we can still act with self-compassion and loving-kindness towards ourselves and relate to others and the world from this space. ❤️
>> SO WHAT DO YOU NEED TO NURTURE YOUR VITALITY?
And if you’d like to have some help to work it out – reach out and let’s chat. This is exactly what I help my clients with in Thrive with Body Wisdom – 3-month coaching programme. I offer FREE 30 mins consultation so let’s chat.
Going beyond old ways of looking at body
“Your body is not a machine,
rather a wonderfully intricate interaction with everything around you,
Which is why it ‘knows’ so much just in being.”
Over the past two decades I’ve done a lot of courses and read a lot of books. If you know me even a little then you know that I’ve been on a search for the truth. I’ve been searching for a way to practice that would allow me to be at ease with myself. I remember having therapy many years ago and my therapist saying that I was ‘tormented’, which reflected quite well my inner state at the time.
This is why I studied so many different approaches: psychology and counselling, social sciences, NLP, life coaching, Wellness Coaching, energy healing, Reiki, mindfulness, yoga, embodiment, somatic movement and now Focusing.
And in my search I learned so much. I discovered so much about who I am, my conditioning, my inner and outer processes and our shared human condition.
And I’ve worked with hundreds of clients in various settings – people who like me were on a search and I learned so much from them, for which I am so grateful.
3 ways of working with body
And what I realised is that there different ways of working with our body and our whole experience – leading to different levels of connection.
1. Traditional (old school) approach – where we treat body as a mechanical object.
We look at body’s alignment and the difference between right and left sides as well as top and bottom, analyse the posture and decide on how to correct it.
There is a real separation between body and mind – physical and mental/emotional issues and treatments.
Some of the best known corrective approaches to body are based on this principle: allopathic medicine, osteopathy, physio, fitness and exercise, fitness-focused yoga.
Many of us like this approach and find it useful – we want our body to be fixed and sorted, especially when in a lot of pain or discomfort. We want to feel stronger, more in control and fitter.
2. Newer somatic approach – where we treat body as a space containing passing sensations.
We recognise the power of impact of the Vagus Nerve and a healing power of deep abdominal breath. We acknowledge that body can self-regulate and heal with the right conditions.
We understand that body affects mind and mind affects body and we acknowledge power of emotions.
Some of the best known practices are:
Mindfulness practices especially body scan, somatic movement and Mindful Yoga, Yin Yoga and all breathing practices. Energetic healing touch practices such as Thai Yoga Massage.
3. This last approach is very new – it treats body as flowing and living sensation wanting life-forward movement.
We acknowledge and accept that body is one whole living system that communicates through felt-senses – meaningful body sensations.
The sense of wholeness and integration comes by itself from deep listening and acknowledging of those felt-senses. There is no separation between body and mind – just like the old wisdom of yoga teaches us.
Best known practices are:
Focusing and Wholebody Focusing, Somatic Experiencing (for trauma work) and Embodied Mindful breath-led Yoga.
This last approach for me comes under SACRED PAUSE practice – taking a pause to notice, acknowledge and be with our body, our whole experience – with kindness and curiosity. Allowing yourself to rest within. Understanding that integration comes from creating harmony and inclusion within (no ‘show it who’s the boss’ BS).
This is what I teach my clients – especially in private sessions as they allow us to explore the individual needs.
I’ve spend the last year learning Focusing practice for myself and to hold in Presence my body with its felt-senses. And I have to say this way of being completely changed how I am with myself, other people and the world. This practice allowed me to go beyond mindfulness and awareness into a real inner dialog and a sense of deep integration and wholeness.
All of the above approaches to body are valuable and useful but you will get different results from each one.
Why does it matter?
Because understanding the distinctions is helpful in helping you achieve your goals.
Because if you want to create a deeper sense of wholeness, integration, self-trust and ease then learning to be with your felt-senses is the way forward.
This September I have last 3 spaces available in my private practice schedule for my signature programme Thrive with Ease – 3-month Body Wisdom Coaching Programme, which is designed for you to learn those life-changing practices.
I offer 30 mins free consultation call and you can book it directly on the website or you can simply send me a message and we can arrange the call.
Building your self-trust
I woke up today at 2am. Second night in a row.
But today I was unable to go back to sleep.
Something was pulling on my attention. Something that I could not name yet but very distinct nevertheless. Demanding attention and acknowledgement.
So I got up, made some tea and settled down under my orange blanket. I love that blanket, its colour and warmth brings me so much comfort.
And I started journaling – just writing all the thoughts and stories my mind has been bringing up over the past few days. And there’s been a lot going on. So much change and growth.
I started from the level of my mind to clear some space and to settle down. Too many things pulling on my attention at the same time.
And once I wrote many pages in my journal (and had another cup of tea) I felt more settled, like all those parts within me felt more heard.
This allowed me to drop within my body and notice what else needed my attention.
And here it was… the thing yet unknown and vague but clearly present. A felt-sense.
A heaviness in my chest, like a heavy stone.
I said hello to it.
There was an emotional quality to it.
And a image came with it too.
Yes, it’s clearly related to a current life situation.
I sat with it, listened to it, felt it in my body, with curiosity and kindness. It had a lot to say.
But a different thing to the story my mind said earlier. And I acknowledged it with kindness and compassion.
Ohhhh… that’s what’s it’s really about.
I asked it what it needed. And listened again.
And then I felt a distinct shift in my body, like a relief and release. It felt heard.
The beauty of showing up for yourself regularly is that you build a sense of inner trust.
How does it translate to your daily life?
You notice what’s really going on for you and you start making decisions and choices from this more grounded and present space.
You stop sacrificing your peace of mind and integrity just so you can be accepted by others and belong.
Because you realise that this kind of belonging has a very high price.
And you end the war within.
This is what made a huge difference in my life.
And that’s what I teach my clients.
If you’d like to know more about my Yoga + Coaching programme check: http://www.anetai.co.uk/body-wisdom-coaching/
Have you heard of Ahimsa?
Yoga is a breath-centred practice. It means that breath needs to be our main focus and needs to lead our practice.
But how often do we forget about breath during our yoga practice (and our life)? How often do we sacrifice our breath so we can push our body to do a pose or movement?
That’s where Ahimsa comes in. Ahimsa is the principle of non-harming and it is the essence of all yoga practice.
Buddha was adamant that we should never mistreat or abuse our bodies. That we should always treat our bodies with kindness, friendliness and respect.
And we can use our breath to help us bring the principle of Ahimsa to our practice and our daily life. Breath helps us return to our body so that we can deeply listen to it and therefore learn ways to best care for it.
This is why slowing down in our practice can bring us back to our breath…
There is so much fun doing a faster and challenging practice. I know very well the joy of moving my body and feeling strong and supple. The sense of achievement that comes with it is unmistakable.
And I also know how it feels in my body when I slow down and move my body with focus on following my breath. It becomes a meditation movement and an inner enquiry. I feel strong and present but also very connected within, very calm and at ease.
It’s all about our intention and what we want to focus on. And that choice is very personal.
Life is movement, breath is movement…
When we start bringing Ahimsa into our practice and our whole body and breath – we start living from this space of embodiment. We include our whole body in everything – all our decisions, our relationships, our wellness habits and our work.
With our practice we realise that there is even movement in stillness. And as our awareness deepens further we can also begin to see for ourselves how there is stillness in the midst of movement.
So here is a little meditation on breath and body…
Sit down comfortably.
Bring your awareness to the sensations of support underneath you.
Then bring your awareness to your breath.
Aware of an in-breath as an in-breath, I breathe in.
Aware of an out-breath as an out-breath, I breathe out.
Breathing in a long breath, I am aware of breathing in a long breath.
Breathing out a long breath, I am aware of breathing out a long breath.
Breathing in a short breath, I am aware of breathing in a short breath.
Breathing out a short breath, I am aware of breathing out a short breath.
Breathing in I am aware of my whole body.
Breathing out I am aware of my whole body.
Breathing in, I calm my whole body.
Breathing out, I calm my whole body.
So next time you start your practice…
… set your intention to practice with the principle of Ahimsa. Connect with your breath and allow it to lead you. Include your whole body in your movement and stillness.
And enjoy being alive!
with love and gratitude
‘To relax is not to collapse, but simply to undo tension. This tension has been accumulated in the body and in the mind by years of forceful education. Tension is the result of will, effort and prejudice.’ Vanda Scaravelli
It’s so interesting how we approach yoga and meditation. I often have conversations with students about lack of time in their daily schedule for their practice. I think it comes from a simple misunderstanding of what our practice is.
We were trained to achieve, to struggle daily in the effort of reaching clear goals – in our work, in education and in sports. There is always somebody we are in competition with, even if they are an imaginary person somewhere out there in the world. We are encouraged to ‘give it our best’, to ‘push through our limits’, and to ‘keep going no matter what’. This way of thinking and behaving has become unconscious and automatic for most of us.
Then we show up in a yoga class and we bring that approach to our practice on a mat. After all it works for us in our daily lives so it should work here! Only that it doesn’t work for us. The evidence is in the levels of stress and anxiety we are all struggling with, the tiredness and exhaustion experienced by many, and the high level of anti-depressant medication prescribed by GPs.
For me the strongest evidence is in our yoga sessions where I observe students not able to settle down or relax and feel very disconnected from their breath and body.
But what does it mean to relax? How can we shift from our constant ‘doing’ to relaxing?
In my first job in substance misuse services over 15 years ago I learned a useful abbreviation: HALT, which means STOP in German. It asks you to pause when you feel:
H – hungry
A – angry
L – lonely
T – tired
It’s about coming back to basics and take small steps to self-care. How many of us run around feeling hungry but not taking time to eat? How many of us feel angry or lonely but not able to express those feelings or seek support from others? How many of us are exhausted but keep pushing through?
Of course we can do it for a period of time – push our body and mind and be able to cope with a lot of pressure – and sometimes it’s necessary. But at some point something has got to give – and always it will be our body or mind.
As we are going into the season of giving – let’s start with ourselves. Give yourself a gift of self-care – time to relax and self-soothe, time for your body and mind to re-adjust and nourish, time to rest and let go of tension. Take some time to move your body and connect with your breath. Allow yourself to finish the year with gratitude for your life and enter New Year with a renewed energy in your body and clarity in your mind.
And if you would like some support with making changes in your life in 2017 you might be interested in “90 Days to Re-boot Your Body and Mind’ one-to-one programme I will be running in New Year.