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Yoga & Meditation

Yoga & Meditation

If the waters are too wild outside, we can’t get on with our inner work

July 27, 2020 • By

One of the most challenging aspects of a good mediation practice is your own self. You trip yourself up before you even get going. Your body gets uncomfortable and your mind is all over the place and how the hell is this suppose to make me feel good?

So you stop.

And you carry on ‘living’, all entangled in every little stress and emotion. It didn’t work for you, right?

I speak from experience. I wanted to be a meditator so bad when I first started. I wanted that enlightenment everyone is always raving about. I took pictures of myself in lotus pose with my eyes closed because maybe if I looked like I was meditating I would eventually, one day, be meditating.

As soon as I sat to practice my mind was all over the place. I’d spend 30 minutes or more, sitting on the floor looking like a meditator but thinking about; food, work, men, friends, family, health, that dream I had when I was 12, my body shape, my hair, the trees, the planet, how planes fly, if my dog could understand me, what death felt like, why I was so shit at meditating, why was I so shit at everything. You get the jist.

But I didn’t give up. I sat every day I thought the exact same messed up mind thoughts.

And then my life fell apart. Out of my control. I lost everything I’d once loved and felt the kind of pain that made me howl uncontrollably.

And the first thing I turned to?

Mediation? Nope.

I chose wine. I got so fucking plastered to forget. I drank bottle after bottle. I wanted to feel anything but pain, so I chose to feel drunk, then sick.

But that is obviously not a permanent solution to pain.

I knew my next meditation attempt would be like sitting on shards of glass whilst swallowing acid. I was so scared to feel.

Ultimately though we have no choice but the feel, eventually.

So I sat. On my bed this time, no floor, no alter, no candles or malas. Just me, in pyjamas, wrapped in fear.

I waited for the pain. And you want me to tell you it didn’t come and I found some kind of peace?

Nope.

Pain came. That kind of pain that makes your throat close up and your breath become short and stomach burn. Tears flooded till my face stung and eye swelled. Everything was hot, fire, burning pain.

But in that very first painful meditation after grief I discovered something. I watched myself experience everything during that seated practice. And that person doing the watching (me) is what I needed to tap into in every meditation moving forward.

I became the observer. The observer is your true self. The experiencer (the one with the noisy mind) is who you perceive yourself to be in this world (ego).

Now when I sit I can separate. I can tap into me, not who I perceive myself to be (and no doubt who you perceive me to be too). I sit like ‘oh here comes fear, let’s deal with that’, ‘here’s sadness, the tears are rolling but I can’t feel them’, ‘here’s pleasure, arousal, temptations, desire. Let’s watch them till they are done and gone’

It’s a trip really.

I used suffering as a vehicle to elevate my spiritual path.

And if you want to know if it was worth it?

In truth, I don’t know yet.

Would I want to go through it again? Absofuckinglutely not.

Will I go through it all again. Definitely.

I’m not writing this so you’ll start meditating. That’s none of my business. But if you’re trying to meditate and finding it difficult maybe you can find comfort in the thought that you’re practicing something that will one day become your source of air when your suffering become suffocating. Keep going. Real You and ego You will meet eventually. In pain or not.
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Yoga & Meditation

Today Felt Like The Right Day To Write You

October 10, 2019 • By

Yoga for anxiety | Northern Yogi

 

For You,

Today felt like the right day to write you. I’m unprepared and still scared of what may fill these pages, scared of discovering something I’ve buried deep inside, an acidic wound that burns to touch. But today felt like the right day to write you.

I wanted to tell you I’ve noticed you this year. I’ve noticed every time you’ve disguised the heaviness in your eyes with a smile, I’ve noticed your fear of silence each time you’ve burdened yourself with busyness and I’ve been there in the cold hours of the morning as you lay awake, mind whirling.

I’ve bared witness to all you’ve had to deal with this year. The soul shattering grief and the heart fracturing loss. I walked beside you as you carried the boxes of clothes and the boxes of ashes. I was there when you locked the door for the final time on that lifestyle you once lived.

I know you’re scared of being lonely and yet aloneness is all you seek. That’s why you’ve devoured the words of others who have walked your path before, as crutches to stop you from stumbling. Reading poetry by salt lamp as some kind of ancient medicine. Letting the thick words coat your painful wounds like some kind of patented blister plaster. But we both know what is unexposed will never heal.

You need air. I sense every time you want to run away; flow like water, eroding everything in your path, never stopping until you’ve reached a greater ocean to drown in. It’s your nature to run when what you truly need is air.

I will act as your Earth, grounding you to every possible moment, but it’s up to you to take in the air.

Breathe as I anchor you.

Breathe as it frees you.

I’ve seen what you’re capable of. Through all the heaviness you’ve ever carried you have always managed to hold on to your lightness. Though the weight of darkness bore down upon your shoulders I’ve seen you able to carry such burdens for others.

Do you see what you are capable of too?

The strength you’ve always managed to muster, for yourself and for others. The space you have allowed yourself as the howls of pain left your body, the comfort you have given yourself as you wiped yet another tear from your now painful skin. Your vulnerability became your strength, goodness like yours cannot exist without ever knowing the bad, light like yours can never exist without the shadows of the dark.

Today felt like the right day to write to you and tell you your aloneness can never be lonely when I have always been right here by your side.

I will anchor you to every moment, good and bad, as you breathe the air you are so desperately gasping for.

As the wind calms, the waters will still. As the waters still the wounds will dry. Scars you can carry as war wounds to guide others who will inevitably walk the path you’ve now cleared the way for.

I can see you healing. I can see your shadows fade. I can feel the lightness in every step you choose to take.

You now need to see it too.

With love, light, gratitude and grace,

From You.


Yoga, Yoga & Meditation

Lululemon X The Refuge Manchester

July 4, 2019 • By

Lululemon Yoga Event | Northern Yogi

This past month has been a difficult one for me personally. I’ve had a lot going on in my private life (more on that at a later date) and I’ve been spending a lot of time trying to heal some hurts. As a dedicated yoga practitioner I know my yoga practice is my anchor when I’m feeling unsettled so I was really pleased when Lululemon invited me to attend their Bank Holiday Yoga event at The Winter Garden in The Refuge.

The class was held in the Winter Garden, an amazing, bright space for a yoga class. Lululemon rolled out their sticky mats, which looked great against the contact tiled flooring. The room is filled with greenery and trees so you really feel a calm aura as you soak in the environment.

Yoga Event Manchester | Northern Yogin

The class was taught by a wonderful teacher, Jen Possamai. She taught a beautiful Indian inspired yoga flow that focused on our Agni, our fire. We started with some calming breath work and gradually built up heat flowing through Vinyasa, warriors, balances and even grasshopper pose!

Refuge Manchester X Lululemon | Northern Yogi

I’m a great believer in messages from the universe and with all  the difficulty I’ve been managing lately I was very surprised to find a little quote left at the end of my yoga mat as I rose from Savasana, it read:

“Inner peace begins the moment you choose not to allow another to control your emotions” 

Let us sit with that for a moment.

If you are interested in attending a free Lululemon event you can find them here: CLICK


Yoga, Yoga & Meditation

How to Block Any External Distractions In Yoga

March 17, 2019 • By

If our yoga practice was in a film it would be you, alone in a hilltop log studio, overlooking a picturesque rain-forest. Birds and crickets the only sounds you can hear, the temperature is perfect and the surroundings are breathtaking. Your body moves effortlessly to the sounds of nature and your mind transcends the mortal, sending you into a deep medative state.

 

Snap back to reality, Eminem style.

You’re at home. You’ve got a ‘to-do’ list as long as your arm, a full time job, children, partner and a dog. On top of the struggle juggle you’re trying to better your health and bring a sense of calm into your life by doing yoga. You roll out your yoga mat whenever and wherever you can and this often this means there will be a little, or a lot, of distractions. Interesting, however, this can really enhance your yoga life.

How?

When we practice yoga our aim is to bring our mind, body and breath into unison. To do this you must learn to block out any external distractions. It’s why we have a Drishti (focused gaze) and why we tune in to our Ujjayi breath. Now imagine the conditions of your daily yoga practice are consistently perfect. Would you tune is to yourself as much?

 

Practitioners that occasionally have to practice when the conditions aren’t ideal will built up a stronger resilience to external distractions. This means they have a stronger ability to block out anything that might distract them from their focus in life, be that a career challenge or relationship issue. Anything that throw you off course from achieving your desired goal.

So the next time the neighbours upstairs are banging around during your yoga practice think, ‘ah, this serves me’. Then breath a big, loud breath and continue to focus on your practice. The more often you do this the stronger your resilience will become.

And remember, it’s called a practice for a reason! We are all practising strength, practising focus, practising determination.

All is coming.

 


Yoga & Meditation

Trying Something Different: Cork Space Yoga Mat Review

June 18, 2018 • By

Corkspace Yoga Mat

Finding the right yoga mat can be such a challenge for both new and existing yoga practitioners. The market is saturated with every style of mat imaginable; eco, patterned, round, travel, cushioned, hot yoga mats, cold yoga mats, yoga mats that mop your brow after class (I wish!).

So, how do we find the one that’s right for us?

Yoga Mat Review

Once you have been practicing yoga for as long as I have (trying not to age myself but it’s been over ten years), you will have tried every style of yoga mat possible, and you will come to know what you like and what you don’t.

Generally you want something that is durable, can take a lot of sweat, is easy to take from class to class, kind to the planet and, most importantly, is not slippy!

In all the years I’ve been practising I have never had a mat that didn’t need ‘breaking in‘. Meaning many slippy yoga practices before my mat finds its grip.

That is, until now.

Yoga Mat | Northern Yogi

I was recently sent a new style of yoga mat, this time made of cork! I have to admit I was sceptical at first. Was this a marketing gimmick? How can one safely practice yoga on something that keeps wine fresh?

Oh how wrong my sceptical self was. When I unwrapped the packaging and peeled out the beautifully smooth, stylishly branded cork yoga mat (that comes with a carry strap!) I thought ‘hmm I kinda like this’.

Then I stepped on it. I placed my yoga feet on my new yoga mat and I took a big yoga breath. And it felt good. From my head, all the way down to my yoga soles it felt good.

I lifted my arms and exhaled as I placed my hands onto the smooth cork. And they stayed there, exactly where I had placed them. They didn’t slide forwards or backwards.

So I stepped my feet back, gently, just in case.

 

Corkspace Yoga Mat | Northern Yogi

Ardo Mukha Svanasana. I’m in downward facing dog and my hands are still in that same position. This is definitely the time when the feet begin to slide. It’s a brand new yoga mat, this is always when the feet begin to slide.

So I waited.

And they didn’t move.

So I took a breath. Then another. Then three more.

Five big breaths is downward facing dog with my hands and feet firmly gripped into this cork yoga mat. Still.

 

Yoga Practice | Northern Yogi

I got through a full practice on the Cork Space yoga mat with no slips and no slides. I felt rooted in my standing sequence and supported in my seated sequence. It was beautiful, both the practice and the yoga mat.

Yoga Blog Manchester | Northern Yogi

The Cork Space yoga mat is eco friendly and made from sustainable cork and naturally sourced rubber. It’s not just good for you but for the planet too!

You can find out more about this wonderful mat here: Cork Yoga Mat UK

Save yourself 10% off this amazing yoga mat here or add northernyogi at checkout.


Yoga & Meditation

Finding the Perfect Yoga Mat

May 1, 2018 • By

Yoga Mat | Northern Yogi

The yoga mat is a yogis prized possession. We become so attached, emotionally, to our favourite mat that we end up keeping it for longer than we probably should.

I am prime example of this. I’ve had my beloved yoga mat for almost a decade, it’s seen daily practices, train journeys, plane journeys, a teacher training, sandy beaches, dusty floors and buckets and buckets of sweat!

I’ve taken care of it, I’ve cleaned it religiously and I’ve really really loved it. But now it has this Sarah shaped print in the middle and it quite obviously time for a change.

But your perfect yoga mat it a challenging thing to find, like Goldilocks we are all looking for one that is just right. Not to bouncy, not too slippy, not too heavy.

I recently got to try the new Manduka Prolite Yoga mat and I can honestly say it’s a dream. Retailing at around £70, which is about average for a decent yoga mat, this beautiful mat is my new favourite thing to practice on, ticking all of my must haves when it comes to a yoga mat.

Some tips for ‘breaking in’ a new yoga mat (so it’s not too slippy)

  1. Cover it in salt, leave on for 24hours
  2. Wipe salt away it damp cloth
  3. Always roll your mat top side out so the ends lay flat when you practice
  4. buy some chalk for Amazon, talc won’t work the same as it’s diluted for softness

The Best Yoga Mats | Northern Yogi

It helps to clean your mat after each practice so your sweat doesn’t damage the material. You can buy a ready mat spray or make one yourself out of your favourite essential oils. I like to mix tea tree with peppermint and water to clean mine.

Invest in a mat bag to keep your mat protected whilst travelling from class to class. This is the place where you create magic, transform yourself, learn more about yourself and grow. Keep your yoga mat special and sacred so your yoga journey can be even more beautiful.

 


Yoga & Meditation

The Best Apps for Yoga Students & Yoga Teachers

March 28, 2018 • By

Best Yoga Apps | Northern Yogi

Everyone loves spending time on their phone nowadays. If we were honest, we probably spend a little too much time on our phones, don’t we? That 5 minute scroll when you’re bored somehow turns into 60 minutes and before you know if you’re watching videos of people testing out induction hobs (yes, yes I’ve done this) or caught up in a meme vortex.
Fear not though yogis, there are ways were can spend time on our phone and make it productive, make it benefit our mind!
As you probably know I love a good meditation practice. I swear the only way to get the perfect night sleep is to do a little meditation before bed. You will wake refreshed, calm and happy.
We all know the benefits of meditation, but we also know how challenging it can be, especially for beginners. I’ve been trying out these 3 lovely little apps for many months now and I have to say they have all, in one way or another, had a positive impact on my life. Get downloading them now to make your phone time good for you!

 

1. Calm (Free for limited package, £35.99 annually)

Calm App | Northern Yogi

Calm won 2017 app of the year and there is a very good reason for this, there is so much content on this app! Calm is the app that aims to bring clarity, joy and peace to your daily life, and used correctly it might just do that.

When you sign up for free you can begin to customise the app to meet your individual needs and what you hope to achieve i.e. reduce anxiety, sleep better, find focus, reduce stress etc.

Once inside you can explore and find what you need at that present moment; meditations, sleep stories, masterclasses and calming music.

It’s a great little app for people looking to bring a sense of calm into their lives but would like some guidance. If you struggle getting to sleep at night, if your mind is whirling, then the sleep stories really help. You can also download everything on the app so you can turn your flight onto aeroplane mode whilst enjoying the app without any interruptions.

Calm also gives you the option to set a daily reminder to be calm, to meditate or just zen out for a minute or so. Never miss a meditation again!

2. Breathing App (Free)

Breathing App| Northern Yogi

The breathing app does exactly what it says on the tin, it teaches you how to breathe!

Brilliantly devised by Deepak Chopra and Eddie Stern, two of the most well respected people in the yoga community and beyond. It’s almost guaranteed that an app created by these two is going to be beneficial for your health and wellbeing.

The Breathing App is inspired by resonance, a term used to describe what happens when our heart rate, blood pressure and brainwave function come into a coherent frequency. Practising resonance (or heart coherence as its also known) is said to:

• Increases pulmonary function
• Lowers blood pressure
• Has positive applications for anxiety and depression
• Improves baroreflex gain
• Improves heart rate variability
• Tones the vagus nerve
• Increases resiliency
• Increases the ability to handle stress
• Leads towards emotional balance
• Clinical improvements in asthma

The Breathing App is a nice way to start practising this breathing technique, helping to improve your overall health and wellbeing. It is simple to use and completely free.

3. Daily Yoga (Free with in app purchases)

 

Daily Yoga App| Northern Yogi

So, as yogis we know we should be rolling out our mat and practising some kind of physical yoga every day. However, some days we may need a little more assistance than others. That’s where Daily Yoga comes in. Admittedly I’m not a huge fan of yoga asana apps, how do you follow a yoga practise of a screen the size of a phone?! If like me you sometimes need that extra kick up the backside that a yoga asana app is for you.
With Daily Yoga you can choose your yoga level; beginner, intermediate or advanced. From there you are exposed to an array of yoga videos, from ‘Getting Toned’ to the ‘Health Enhanced’ and all that’s in between. There is even an ‘Office Yoga’ section that you can do at your desk! Perfect for the busy yogi on the go.

These 3 apps are definitely a must for every modern day yogi. Download and using these is a great way to make your digital lifestyle benefit your health and wellbeing. So next time someone say’s you’re ‘always on your phone’ you can exclaim ‘I’m learning to mediate!’


Yoga & Meditation

Yoga Playlist – Feel Good Vinyasa Flow

February 2, 2018 • By

Yoga is such a personal practise. Some people like to practice at the crack of dawn in complete silence. Some people like to roll around on their mat with the music on blast. There is no right or wrong environment to practice yoga. It is whatever feels right for you at that given time.

Some days I like to practice in silence, listening to my breath. Other days I choose one of my favourite playlists (mood dependant) and flow to the feel good vibes!

Here is one of my most popular playlists. It’ll help take your daily yoga practice on an adventure of your soul.

Enjoy.

 


Yoga & Meditation

David Swenson Yoga Workshop

November 21, 2017 • By

Yoga Weekend London

Wearing:
KINDFOLK YOGA MAT BACKPACK WITH TWO STRAPS (JUBILEE)

I spent this past weekend in London at a yoga workshop with David Swenson (the world renowned Ashtanga yoga teacher for those that don’t know). It’s a workshop I’ve wanted to do for many, many months now but David travels the globe sharing yoga so it’s a challenge practice with him here in the UK.

Fortunately for me he visited Triyoga in London this weekend, which is only about 200 miles from my house (accessible, right!), so I was able to attend this not to be missed workshop!

Saturday kicked off bright and early with a full primary series practise. There were 100 people moving, flowing and breathing in unison and it was magical, and very sweaty. David has this way of teaching that brings a sense of calm to the most challenging of postures. He is relaxed, and in turn makes you more relaxed. He makes this fiery practice kind and accessible. He makes you become even more aware of the breath than ever before and he believes every student is able to achieve their yoga goals.

After morning practise we moved on to ‘flying, floating and jumping through. A workshop that taught us balance, control, patience, strength and how to jump back and through. We spend a lot of time on our hands throughout the entire weekend and David shared his years of yoga knowledge with us, giving us all his tips and tricks to enable us to achieve what we once though was impossible.

We spend the next few sessions looking intensely at inversion, headstands, lifted headstands, arm balances and handstands. Every inversion possible! David believe everyone should be given the opportunity to give 2nd and 3rd series a try because it’s fun and yoga should be fun!

He tells incredible stories of Sri K Pattabhi Jois, Mysore, how Ashtanga has changed over the years and what he has learned during his 30+ years of practice. He is approachable and you can ask him the silliest of questions which he will answer with sincerity. He makes the Ashtanga Vinyasa sequence approachable too, not matter which series you practice.

I highly recommend every yoga student take one of David’s workshops, even if you are really new to the practice or don’t practise Ashtanga at all you will still benefit from his teachings. He is hilarious, sincere, kind, and knowledgeable plus knows every yoga trick in the book.

David Swenson Yoga Workshop

David Swenson Yoga Workshop

Thank you to David for sharing his wisdom.