Changes

 

Sri Lankan trains are amazing. They get you where you want to go( although you might have to take that only one at 5am in the morning ), they sell food on them and you can meet interesting people from the sweetest to the weirdos.


You might have to forget about your western comfort zone, personal space and just embrace the sweat. I realised that the Hungarian train rides of my student years and my London travels on the tube in peak time were preparing me for this experience.
I found myself on a 5 am train this morning from Kandy to Weligama as I decided to trade the hill country for the ocean and found a new opportunity to teach yoga. It was kind of a spur of a moment decision, but sometimes the pieces just don’t fit together and you either feel bad about it or change. I ( thanks to some friendly support) decided to change, and took my second train ride on this beautiful island.( the epic one between Ella and Kandy is still awaits).
Now I’m sitting with salty-coconut oily hair in Mirissa, swam in the Indian ocean and felt that completeness that I feel every time when I’m in any kind of water and excited about my classes tomorrow, see who will turn up and how will everything be this time. In Kandy I had some amazing one to one sessions with a fellow yogini, and that inspired me so many ways… but it was time to move on..for both of us.
It’s like when you hold an asana with awareness of breath control and you feel it when it’s time to change.


My week in Kandy was fun, I explored the city a little bit, tried some yummy food and drinks , visited the temples and the botanical gardens

and had some arty chill time at the hostel. Plus I got to spend time with one if the most amazing dogs I’ve ever met(💛).

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Will continue this tomorrow, now it’s time to sleep 😴😴😴
Update:
In the past two days I taught 4 classes, my favourite is the rooftop with the rising Sun in the morning ( if the clouds allow us to see it🙂) and finishing by starlight in the evening. I look forward to classes in the next week and a half, meeting new people, bringing them some yoga magic.

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I will be back😊🙏🏼

 

Transit

So I’m at Mumbai airport waiting for my connection to Colombo. Here I am again, Mother India, you welcomed me with the really high humidity of the monsoon, almost felt like a warm and sweaty hug. Although I’m not even permitted to cross your borders and will take off in a few hours, you still have an effect on me. This is where it all started, my journey of becoming a yoga teacher , the smell of the street food( even the airport one), taste of the chai brings back so many memories, many faces now all spread around the world, sharing light. Hope you all doing what you planned to do..
I remember my first official class.. prior to that I had some brave friends in Hungary and London kindly helping me practice on them and of course the unforgettable volunteer experience with Crisis at Christmas 😊..
But my first official class in the Community Centre, small room in a cozy victorian building with green lino floor and lots of character. I feel like I came a long way.. from that slight nervousness, a lot of notes( I guess we all start like that..) . It is almost like climbing on a ladder , discovering new and new floors in a building, a different point of view every time. I’m very curious how will this change with experience, I’m still very green as a yoga teacher, so much more to learn.
I feel honoured that I got to teach a few people’s first ever yoga class. It’s always exciting, but it also feels like it comes with responsibility( especially with all the assumptions and expectations of yoga today). Well, most of them returned, some of them became regulars😊🙏🏼
I am grateful for all the ups( simply people’s faces after class, the feedback and reviews received ) and downs( those couple of occasions when no one showed and I questioned myself) of these 6 months, I learned so much about yoga, so much about myself , every class adds a thin layer to my yoga teacher identity, brings on new ideas, new perspectives. I like my little yoga crew, a great bunch if people, our end of the season class in the park was truly special..They did so well, kept focus even in a not so ideal situation.
I am grateful for all the support I received from friends, from sharing Facebook posts to taking photos or just simply being there, I couldn’t have done without them, without you.
And I am grateful to you, reading this post , listening to my thoughts.
In a few hours I will arrive to Sri Lanka, where a new chapter begins, yoga teaching almost every day for a month, new layers, new people, new connections. I can’t wait!
Will keep you guys posted😉
Namaste😊🙏🏼

Thoughts on International Yoga Day

 

 

“Nobody is superior, nobody is inferior, but nobody is equal either. people are simply unique, incomparable. You are you, I am I. I have to contribute my potential to life; you have to contribute your potential to life.I have to discover my own being; you have to discover your own being. ”

/Osho/

 

Yoga is like everything else. Everybody has their own interpretation, beliefs and priorities. On international yoga day I am thinking about all the people I got to know through yoga , the diversity of them, different age groups, nationalities , background and attitude. Everybody’s yoga is different from dedicated ashtangis to yoga therapists , the ones practicing for decades and the ones just started.
They all have different preferences for pace, difficulty, the amount of spirituality and beyond the mat stuff they bring in, their favourite poses or the exact opposite, those ones we find challenging
( and very often grow to love them).
But one thing is common: these people once moved out of their comfort zone and attended to a class/started practicing for whatever reason. And most of them continued to practice, discovered new things( or thousand year traditions) and they all know how does it feel to step on a mat( grass, sand etc) with your bare feet, breath in and then…

I would like to think the world will became a place where we accept and celebrate the beautiful uniqueness of individuals.

 

Love. Peace. Respect.

Happy international yoga day!

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Connections

Practising yoga makes you more conscious about connections. You connect movement with breath, intentions to practice, your body to the ground and yourself to the universe. You connect and disconnect yourself at the same time, trying to enter the “yoga zone”. Interesting how a disconnection creates space to other connections. Digital detox can be great sometimes( I think I’m lucky because I grew up before mobile phones became a thing not to mention smartphones..)
I’m thinking of this topic for a while now, and I decided to put it in words, as I’m visiting Hungary and seeing my old friends always makes me a little bit emotional and reminds me how grateful I am to have them.

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But how do I get to friendship from yoga?
Connections are important to everybody, whether it is connections to other people, places, sometimes objects and most importantly to ourselves. I had a few classes when we were offered to dedicate our practice to someone and these experiences were really special, not to mention partner yoga or working together in certain poses. I never forget when I taught a class for a bunch of homeless guys and some volunteers and in the beginning I was very careful to enter their space at all but they looked ( and expressed) they feel very safe in class so we ended up in a circle of warrior III-s, gently connecting to each other, without weighing each other down but giving everybody the support they needed. Sometimes your yoga bubble is expandable and you let other people in:)
Beyond the mat, how you relate to people is part of your practice( Beyond the mat-the 8 limbs of yoga ). Friendships and social connections are very interesting, the intensity or length of connections can vary depending on many things. I think most of us have at least one person in their lives who would finish a sentence they just started and who could pick up a conversation where you left it even if it was a long time ago. The reason why I’m very grateful to life is because I have more than one of these people, and even though we might reside in different countries and our paths are not the same( probably the exact opposite in most cases) but the connections are there, solid and strong.
Imagine yourself in a middle of this network like flexible ropes connecting you together. Sometimes the ropes dissolve as you have temporary connections, they might not be forever but they bring you/ teach you something or simply experience something with you. And that’s okay, you can’t be best friends with everyone, people travel through each other’s lives all the time. Someone might come along with you when you grow up, someone might be there for a few months, years and the connections terminate..suddenly or just slowly fade away. Stepping away from a connection can be as important as creating a new one. Distance and solitude can teach you many of things.IMG_2002
As I said, connections are important but I also think that you shouldn’t let them sole define you. Yoga can be an amazing tool to self discovery, and expanding your practice beyond the mat can develop the connection to your own beautiful self and through this to other people. As an example, I have a very fiery temper, and sometimes this fire burns other people around me without them being the cause of it. Since I practice yoga,I am more careful about how I handle this, I might choose to have a very powerful asana practice followed by meditation ( if I have the chance) or more consciously choose a time when I can talk to people about problems instead of letting the volcano erupt. Being self-aware and self-connected can give you a different view of the outside world.

Supporting others and feeling supported is also important. How to support someone can be a complicated thing. I think we all have those people in our lives( and certain cultures encourage this as well) who would try to outbid your problems thinking that would make you feel okay.IMG_1998

Let’s say, you fall into a 5 m deep hole , and you only have a 2 m ladder and no torch just a lighter, you share this with someone looking for support who replies ‘oh, that’s nothing, I’m in a 10m deep hole with no ladder’. Should this get you out of the hole? No. Would this make you feel better? No.

As a wise friend once said to me, silent has the same letters as listen. Listening is an element of that flexible rope connecting us together, alongside with many other things( personal to everyone:) .

And to widen this, writing or reading a blog could connect people from different parts of the world, without knowing each other in person. You open a window to your thoughts( or get access to someone’s) to bring on new connections regardless of location. Read, write , be open minded and non-judgemental..and don’t forget to listen😊🙏🏼

How did yoga affect my life?

If you practice yoga, you know this feeling. It starts when you step on the mat and fully forms after shavasana. When all the tension melts, the world seems to be a better place to be ayou have that “yoga glow”.

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But if I reflect on the whole process, from my first yoga class until today, I can see the bigger picture( at least the part that’s revealed by now). Sitting at the airport in Budapest( I spent last week in Hungary visiting family and friends) , and thinking about tomorrow’s class I realise how my life is strongly influenced by yoga. I’m pretty sure some people find this annoying 🙂, but yoga pops up pretty much everywhere. It changed the way I think, the way I speak, the way I think about my body, how I feel my body ( like when I’m sitting here subconsciously correcting my posture pulling my shoulders back and down ,engaging my core) and how I relate to other people. ( the 8 limbs ey? Beyond the mat-the 8 limbs of yoga )

But how did this start.. and when?

Breathing
After a few yoga classes I became really aware of my breathing. I am using it more purposefully in daily life, and I am rarely out of breath( even after climbing stairs etc) any more. Being more aware of your breathing influences a lot of things, I found that it’s easier to calm myself down in stressful situations or just simply “keeping it it together” at all.
Sports
I do love sports, I enjoy swimming and cycling, dancing ( I was taking ballet classes for a while) and look:yoga, like a little fairy figure sitting on my shoulder is always there. It changed the way how I relate to my body in these activities, I’m more aware of certain muscle groups( you know, the ones you didn’t even know they existed before your first class😉), it tells me not to injure myself , to look after my body and to respect it as (like everybody else) I only given one..

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Walking
I have a typical walk( my boss would describe it as marching:) ), since me and this yoga fairy are closely acquainted the way how I walk changed as well, I probably seem taller and my posture is much better. The energy is the same but I don’t “‘march” with my head down any more, my back is straighter and I feel the ground with my feet in a different way, my balance is better, I feel more connected to the Earth.

 

Body

Obviously yoga changed my body a big deal. I wasn’t flexible at all, and I had body image issues to an almost unhealthy extent. Then I learned that with regular practice I can develop( slowly but surely), and I started to feel really empowered by the fact that I am actually able to do certain things.( don’t think big, just reaching an inch more forward or bending slightly deeper, balancing a little bit longer:). Also love and respect came along with that towards myself and my body. Even now and then those negative thoughts still come up, however after acknowledgement I just let them go. This is a really important part and I emphasise positive body image  a lot in my classes as well , our bodies are not the same, and no one should compare themselves to others during practice. Every body is beautifully complex , individual on its own, and we should be aware of that. Self love and self respect is essential in your luggage through our yoga journey☺️.img_1593

Gratitude, peace and change

Regular yoga, pranayama ( breathing) and meditation taught me peace. I am a fiery person( pitta-kapha ayurveda-wise), I can be really passionate about certain things and I used to be quite impatient and short tempered. I’m not saying yoga completely changed my character, I still have the same passion , I just channel it differently. I’m learning to let things go and accept those I cannot change. But I also developed an attitude towards things I don’t like, I don’t just suffer in silence or moan about them, I change ( either my thoughts about them or the situation) as that’s the natural way of life. Evolve, observe and learn… 
This doesn’t mean I take everything with a peaceful smile on my face, oh no.. but how I perceive situations ( including my own or other people’s emotions towards them) is different.

Perception is the key word. Perception of myself, others, the universe we live in. If I have to put it in one sentence, yoga changed my perception. And I do hope it will keep changing me, helping to reveal that bigger picture…

Namaste ☺️🙏🏼❤️

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Beyond the mat-the 8 limbs of yoga

Patanjali was the scholar who recorded the long existing theories and practices of yoga in his yoga sutras around 200BC. He talked yoga being a system based on 8 practices, and asnas(physical poses ) is just one of these 8 practices.

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Patanjali himself is a quite mysterious figure, we don’ know much about him. Here is my imaginative drawing after our beloved philosophy teacher made the joke :Yama, not Yamaha 😀 )and I instantly pictured Patanjali on a motorbike(this would be a great book title btw).

But back to the 8 limbs ..

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The 8 limbs describe the practices one should follow.

Yamas:  is the attitude towards the World around you, practices and disciplines towards others. There are 5 yamas: Ahimsa(non-violence), Satya (truthfulness), Astea (non-stealing) Bramacharya(conservation and mastery of energies) and Aparigraha (non-possessiveness)kind

Following the 5 yamas means to me means how I generally react to the outside World and other living creatures. Being kind, saying the truth(or don’t say something if it serves no-one!), respecting other’s possessions(including confidential information), living  a moderate life and use/take what I need in the moment and learn to let go… This can be difficult sometimes, especially with the values being culturally  promoted this era.  But I try my best and I think it’s easier than one would think, start with small steps..and the rest will follow.

Niyamas: is how you treat yourself, the attitude towards yourself, to create a positive environment that would let you grow. The five niyamas: Sauca(purification, inner/outer cleanliness), Santosha (contentment), Tapas(spiritual austerity, internal fire, self discipline), Svadhyaya (self -study), Isvara Pranidhana(devotion, dedication, awareness of the divine, surrender)selflove-dylanglynn

I think to practice Yamas you have to get your Niyamas sorted:) It is really important, how you treat yourself, starting with rethinking  words to yourself such as “Oh, I’m so stupid..” etc.  Looking after yourself, living your life with gratitude and compassion and awareness can lead to a happier, healthier life which would provide the soil for your higher spiritual practices to grow. It is really nice to incorporate these into your asana practice as well(e.g. poses about compassion and gratitude or  detoxing and purifying techniques) 

Asana:is to perform a yoga pose, this according to Patanjali should be steady and comfortable.

I think it is amazing when a yogi(ni) puts a lot of hard work into their self practice and perform advanced poses. Truly is.
However asana practice should be available to everybody and people should’t feel like they can’t practice yoga because they can’t do advanced poses. Or they never done yoga before and/or they are not flexible.. Bio-individuality should be a common knowledge, learning to respect and love our bodies and accepting it’s limitations should be a really important part of asana practice. Diversity is beautiful:)

Pranayama: controlling breath and through that controlling life force
Dhyana:meditation

About these two see my post about breathing and meditation:

The art of breathing and meditation

Pratyahara: is sense withdrawal -it’s all about changing the state of mind

This can be practised through actually withdrawing senses (tip: try to eat a meal with your eyes closed), or just being able to block certain things out and focus on aempowerednother( I used to practice yoga on Sunday mornings at a studio very close to a local market. Chatter, smell of kebab, children playing , all you can imagine. On days when I was really focused, none of that mattered …some days when my focus shifted I had delicious falafel wraps floating in my mind during meditation:) )

Dharana: is focused concentration

This goes hand in hand with the previous limb, once you withdrawn your senses you can intensely focus on your gaze, on your breath, on your body.

Samadhi: is the final stop of a yogi(ni)’s journey, it refers to enlightenment, realisation, being one with the Universe.

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So these are the 8 limbs, it is interesting to observe how many of them you are applying already.

Bring on the yogi(ni) life:)

Namaste😊🙏🏼

The art of breathing and meditation

When someone says mediation, people generally think of somebody sitting in lotus pose with a serene facial expression surrounded by a beautiful landscape, like these ones:

However if you live in a Western country with information overflow , pollution,everyday stress and people simply culturally not designed to just sit down and let go, meditation can be challenging.

I don’t want to make statements, so I’ll only  speak about my experience , being at the very beginning of this journey myself. I practiced asanas for years without letting the spiritual side of yoga in( little I know back then that I´ll become a yoga teacher and I’ll actually find it very important to include  meditation in my classes). I have a very busy mind, coming from a psychology background just emphasised my analytical skills and I have a very keen interest in understanding EVERYTHING around me. So when it came to the point that I should sit down and calm the flow of thoughts, I failed… At the first few attempts I probably had more thoughts crossing my mind than cars in London peak time traffic.

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My personal path to meditation was (and again this is not ultimate wisdom, just sharing my experience in the hope of it might help others) through pranayama. Pranayama is one of the eight limbs of yoga (Post coming soon  😉 ), and it literally means controlling the breath, hovewer prana also means life force, so through controlling breath one can control the life force, energy within. There are many types of pranayama, combining the four functions : inhale ( puraka) and held in( kumbhaka), exhale (rechaka) and held out(shunyaka). Learning pranayama guided me on the road to meditation, as controlling your breath , observing how your body feels after an intake of fresh oxygen,how you let all the bad stuff go with an exhale really helps to withdraw your focus from the outside word.

Physiologically speaking(nerd alert!) we are  gaining control over our breathing ,the respiratory system , this is a part of our autonomic nervous system that we can consciously control .img_1744Through breath control we can help to activate the parasympathetic branch(this often associated with “rest and digest”and “calm and control”) so our body will achieve a state when we could  let go the constant alertness of the sympathetic nervous system(associated with “fight or flight”).

So pranayama was the first step. It helped me to calm the “traffic” of thoughts. I also learned that restraining my thoughts won’t work, I should let them in, like I’m in an aquarium watching fish floating around, observe them without connecting them to others and let them go. If I’m in touch with my breathing and stop stressing about what I should or shouldn’t do when meditating (like “Oh my God,I´m still thinking of something!”) it will happen. And there’s always place for learning new things.

I benefited from meditation.I am generally calmer and face stressful situations with greater inner strength and stability. I still struggle sometimes with the “traffic”, but then I just laugh at myself and focus on my breath. In and out, right? So I can only recommend it, even if it´s just a little bit, even if you not doing it by the book( what is by the book anyway?) . Meditation is a powerful tool , use it 😊!

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🙏🏼😊🌬

☀️️Sun salutations-a perfect start of your day

Sun salutation-Surya Namaskar

Sun salutation is a sequence of asanas traditionally practiced at sunrise.The name translates “to bow to”or “to adore” the Sun, our primary source of light.

They are beautifully designed to  warm up the body if practiced correctly alongside with controlled breath. The asanas slowly wake up the joints and muscles,energising the body and mind so it’s ready for the day. There are a few variations of Sun salutations depending on yoga style, the image below shows the traditional hatha one.img_1808

Useful tips

1. It is advisable to do a gentle warm up before Sun salutations, especially the wrists and to go VERY GENTLY with the first round (knees bend to protect hamstrings,slow movements and as always:listen to your body !)

2. Focus on your breathing , it should flow easily with the movements, generally inhale when you are opening the chest and exhale when bending forward (to create more space in the body) and don’t worry, it will come with practice naturally 😉 .

3.What you do in the morning can influence your whole day, so don’t forget that beautiful smile, it will have an effect on you. The science behind it is called the facial feedback hypothesis (your brain detects your facial muscles smiling and sends “happy” signals. Yaay.)

4. It is up to you how many times you repeat the sequence, traditionally it could go up to 108 rounds.. If you practice the hatha sun salutations 3-6 rounds on both sides is a very nice start, it can be your warm up or your stand alone morning practice.

5. Traditionally each asana has it’s own mantra (sacred word(s) that create special vibrations/energy in the body). You can chant sanskrit mantras or create your own(I am a big fan of that:), just do whatever is organic and authentic to You, it is your practice after all. Sometimes I like to listen to music, starting with a slower paced song for the first few sets moving into more energetic ones.

6. After you completed the Sun salutations, always give yourself some time to rest, Savasana time:) . Pranayama(breathing) and meditation should follow your morning routine as well to prepare your mind and body for the day.

More about that next time 😉!

Namaste 🙏🏼