Good for your ears…

There’s something satisfying about undertaking a monotonous job (like driving long distances, maintenance work around the home, making school lunches – just to name a few) and injecting a bit of extra sensory joy to the occasion by listening to a podcast.

There are so many out there to choose from, but here’s what we are listening to at the moment. So, pop-in those headphones and let these podcasts expand your mind and your thinking.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The breath – our life force

“Pranayama” – a word that you would have heard quite regularly during your yoga classes. Here, Celia Roberts offers some very practical tips of some Pranayama breathing techniques.

Celia Roberts is a very knowledgeable, experienced yogi from Brisbane (she has even trained some of the Kaizen yoga teachers!!) – let’s learn from some local wisdom and have a deeper understanding of our breathing, in and out of the yoga studio.

http://celiaroberts.com.au/pranayama-practice/

Yoga & Matt

If you’d told me a couple of years ago, that I’d regularly practice yoga, let alone be an owner of a studio, I would have laughed myself silly. It’s not exactly how I’d imagined things would work out. But here we are!

 

To introduce myself, I’m a husband, a father to two girls, and I’m about to turn 40. And I love soccer. I love my wife and kids, but I love soccer. Love may not be a strong enough word. My love for soccer is the kind of love that will make you wake up at 2.30am on a Monday morning to watch your favourite team (Liverpool) play somewhere in Europe, and probably lose, so that you are too worked up to go back to sleep, and then you are grumpy for the rest of day. And then you do it again next week. It’s an irrational, obsessive, compulsive kind of love. But it’s love. I can’t help it.

 

My love of soccer has also traditionally extended to attempting to play the sport. At least it did until around 6 years ago, when I “slipped a disk” in my lower back (L5 for my long suffering back injured brothers and sisters out there). It all started with a lazy lift and twist (and before you criticise me, it’s not easy to get a lawn mower into the back of a Corolla singlehandedly OK), and resulted in many months of fairly intense pain. This was followed by continual pins and needles in my right foot, a loss of reflexes in my right knee and ankle, and the constant feeling of a “dead right leg”. I’ll be honest, there are far bigger problems in the world, but constant back pain isn’t that great.

 

I found that regular visits to my physiotherapist and a chiropractor for several months was working well to manage my pain levels but it became apparent that unless I could visit 1-2 times per week, my body couldn’t retain the benefits of each visit. And I couldn’t afford to do that. So, after some MRIs, X-rays and multiple discussions with a surgeon or two, my options boiled down to considering surgical intervention or radically improving my core strength. I thought I’d start with the core strength. So, on a recommendation, I tried yoga. Kaizen Yoga was close to home and my wife (Vanessa) had started attending, so that’s what I tried.

 

By nature, I’m quite an analytical person. Some might say even a little sceptical. I wouldn’t have considered myself a great believer in natural therapies of any kind, and trying yoga was potentially getting into some “weird” territory for me. I saw a chiropractor out of desperation, and yoga was a step further down the path toward some sort of hippy nirvana in my former eyes. I had no idea at all what to expect, and in hindsight I knew so little of yoga that in my mind I’d actually confused and combined it with tai chi. But I was desperate enough to try to get my back right to resume my glorious amateur soccer career that I bought a one week pass and tried a couple of different classes.

 

My first surprise was how different the classes that I attended were. From memory, I attended a Hot Flow class, a 26&2 class and a standard (unheated) Flow class. I had just assumed that yoga was one type of activity. I remember I talked a friend into attending the 26&2 class with me, and he wore a Fitbit. We checked out the heart rate reading after the class, and discovered that he was in the territory of some pretty reasonable cardiac exercise for a fair portion of the class. I loved the challenge.  It certainly wasn’t just waving your hands in the air and wiggling your hips a little (which is what I think I’d expected).

 

After a couple of weeks, I found I was looking forward to the classes. I loved the challenge of 26&2. I loved that each flow class was slightly different. I loved that each class reflected the skills and personality of the teacher. The teachers were so accommodating and enthusiastic, you could feel their passion for what they were teaching.

 

After six months, I was attending yoga 3-4 times a week and it was one of my favourite parts of the week. Interestingly, my back pain had decreased significantly. I still had good days and bad days, but the pins and needles in my right foot and “dead leg” feeling had stopped. I’d gotten stronger, and a little more flexible. But the biggest surprise is what was happening in my head.

 

Probably like many of us, I find my job involves a reasonable degree of pressure. I help to manage a small business of 30 staff, and I am also a project manager responsible for delivering building projects. My work is very performance focused, and it has its challenges. The biggest surprise I found was that yoga allowed me to centre myself. My sleep improved. It’s hard to measure these types of things, but I believe my overall feeling of wellbeing has increased quite significantly. “Joy” and “peace” are words with a lot of connotations, but from my experience yoga is a pathway to both. I’ve since learned that (unsurprisingly), there is some interesting research that talks about the links between yoga and physical and mental wellbeing (https://www.yogaaustralia.org.au/about-us/research-studies/).

 

Over the past 18 months I’ve gone from not knowing a thing about yoga and being very sceptical, to being convinced enough of the benefits of yoga that I’d attempt to run a yoga studio. And what’s most interesting is that I’m not very “good” at yoga. I’m sure my down dog is all wonky and I bend my knees too much in plank and I know I cheat a bit in triangle pose by resting my elbow on my thigh when the teachers aren’t looking. But what is cool is that yoga does its thing on me anyway.

 

So, that’s my story in a nutshell. I now expect I’ll practice yoga until I’m so old that I can’t get out of bed. I still love soccer, and I hope to actually play this year (fingers crossed). But whether I can or can’t, I know yoga is something I’ll be doing until I’m so old my Zimmer frame can’t get me up the stairs to the studio.

 

If you are curious, give yoga a try. I’d say give it 3 months of regular practice, and then assess if it has helped you. And that’s not just an advert for Kaizen Yoga. We’d love to have you practice with us, but I think yoga will help you wherever you practice under experienced and caring instruction. Give it a go!

 

So, there’s a little bit about me! If you made it this far into the blog you’re a legend. Make sure you say hi when you see me in class at Kaizen.  I’ll be the guy cheating a bit in triangle pose.

 

Matt

 

Re-inspire and Reconnect with Your Practice

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Sometimes, no matter how much we love yoga or how experienced we are, it can be hard to get ourselves on the mat to practice. This may be so for a number of reasons; being uninspired, feeling stale, not having motivation and feeling lazy, having soreness or an injury, not having the right space, not making the time, etc. The more we feel like this and avoid our mats, the worse these feelings will get. Negativity breeds negativity. But the good news is that there are things you can do to combat such issues.

Minimalism

Aparigraha is the last of the 5 yamas of yogic philosophy, which you can read more about here. It translates to ‘non-greed’ or ‘non-attachment’. In daily life it can be applied by practicing minimalism; in our possessions, relationships, and activities or commitments.

What is minimalism?

Minimalism can mean different things to different people. The way I like to see it is that minimalism is a way of living that cuts down on clutter and things that don’t serve you, leaving room and making time for meaningful activities that make you happy and your life fuller. Basically just cutting out anything or anyone that doesn’t add value to your life.

Yogic Philosophy

Phil

To many people, yoga appears to simply be a physical practice that helps achieve and maintain fitness, assists in the healing of injuries, or aids in stress management. And it is all that, but there is also a lot more to it. Yoga is a combination of physical, spiritual and mental practices that unite the mind, body and spirit. Sure, yoga can start off being physical, working on your strength and flexibility and learning about the poses and sequences. But if you want to advance deeper into the lifestyle of yoga, you cannot avoid the spiritual and philosophical side, which are both interesting and practical.

A time to reflect & nurture

Here we are, in July; onto the second half of the year. This is the perfect time to do some reflecting on how the first half of the year went, and how we are feeling.

Unlike the beginning of the year when we tend to take stock and set resolutions and goals, around this time of year sometimes we have gotten so caught up in everything that’s going on in our lives – work, family, friendships, relationships, education – that we forget to look after ourselves. 

Vipassana Meditation

An issue that’s common to all mankind is that we often have harmony and peace lacking in our lives. This alone is damaging enough, but the worst part is that we so easily – and sometimes even unconsciously – pass this imbalance onto others by being angry, hurtful and miserable. This is not a wholesome way of living and no one benefits from this environment and behaviour.