The Earths Deep Winter

The Earths Deep Winter

Quite recently, I hosted an online womens circle. In a womens circle a group of women gather together and open up, share, discuss and heal together.  In my experience of a variety of different, circles, ceremonies, activations, meditations and yoga classes, I always find the energy to be most potent when a group of women come together. Within this circle, we discussed the inner seasons, conscious menstruation and the importance of understanding our cycle during a time like this.  Life is extremely cyclical, though often we look at it in a linear way.  There are cycles within cycles.

To give you a quick understanding of how we as women flow through these cycles that we call inner seasons, I will briefly explain. As women our hormones change quite naturally and normally throughout the month, the purpose of this cycle is the release of a mature egg, waiting to be fertilised, if left unfertilised we shed the lining of our womb, for what is commonly known as our ‘period’.  In order for this cycle to happen, effectively and efficiently our hormones must change, and as you can imagine as our hormones change so do we.

Going on a 28 day average cycle those hormonal and seasonal changes can look something like this:

  • The  inner winter is approximately day 27 to day 5
  • The inner spring is approximately day 6 to day 11
  • The inner summer is approximately day 12 to day 19
  • The inner autumn approximately day 20 to day 26

However, do not get too hung up on exact days. The important thing is to sense and follow your own cycle experience, and discover the season changing moments for yourself.

Each phase of the cycle, has similarities to the seasons in the year. For example our inner winter is a time to rest, to retreat inwards, to be cosy and comfortable, to socialise less. As women what can tend to happen when we are less aware of our cycle, or we have no space or time to honour it, we spend the whole time trying to be in a more ‘summer’ energy, always ‘do, do, do’ which eventually leads us to burn out, and so we inevitably are forced into a deep winter.

Which brings me to our current global state of affairs, this pandemic has forced Mother Earth back into a deep rest.  She has been overworking for too long, we have mistreated and abused her, always demanded from her and never allowed her a rest.

There is a holiday celebrated in Bali called Nyepi, on this day the Balinese people turn everything off – even the airport is closed, it is a day to give rest and give back to nature because nature gives so much to the Bainese people. Imagine if the whole world did that just once in a while.  We can see already the benefits, less pollution in the air, more desire to connect to our family and friends.

So as the earth is being pushed into her deep winter, take some time for yourself too, I know many people are still working or have children and loved ones to care for. Nonetheless, take at least some time for you.

Lets release tension, reconnect, rest and remember who we are. Surrender is the greatest gift of the inner winter, so surrender to what is, let life wash over you. For soon it will be spring, and the Earth will have her rest. Lets hope we learn from this, and let her and ourselves rest more often.

As she heals. We heal.

Rebecca x

Yoga poses to undo the damage of sitting at a desk or long commutes. 

Yoga poses to undo the damage of sitting at a desk or long commutes. 

We are all aware, that as human beings we live a much more sedentary lifestyle today than what our bodies were designed to. You might even be a person who has experienced the negative effects of sitting at a desk all day or driving for long periods of time, even spending long hours on your phone, each of these things causes us to have the same hunched over body posture.  Leading to stiffness in the neck, tight shoulders, back pain and hip problems.  

For many people these things cannot be avoided, but one proven way of counterbalancing these effects is by implementing a simple yoga practice, yoga postures when practiced properly and safely can help to realign the body and release not only muscular tension, but also release and combat any stress related hormones.  

Cant make it to a yoga class ? Don’t worry I have you covered! I have an online yoga course coming up on the 1st March that I have designed with people who don’t have much time in mind.  Pop me an email for more details! 

And if you cant make that I have put together some useful postures, movements, breathing techniques and stretches below that will help to get your body feeling better. 

Diaphragmatic breathing:

Begin by lying onto your back with knees bent (note this can also be done seated or in a chair for example at your desk)

Place one of your hands onto your chest and one of your hands onto your upper abdomen.

Begin to tune into your breath inhaling through the nose and exhaling through the nose, notice if you are breathing more into your chest or more into your abdominal area.

With conscious awareness see if you send the breath into the abdomen as the belly begins to rise, as you exhale let the belly fall.

Once you have established the breath, begin to inhale for a count of 4 and exhale for a count of 4.

Repeat about 10 rounds.

Cat cow:

How to:

  1. Come to your hands and knees with your wrists under your shoulders and your knees under your hips (if you have any problems with the knees you can put a blanket underneath), have your knees hip width distance apart and your hands shoulder distance apart, head is in a neutral position.
  2. Begin by moving into Cow Pose: Inhale as you drop your belly towards the mat. Lift your chin and chest, and slightly gaze up toward the ceiling keeping the back of your neck long.
  3. Broaden across your shoulder blades and draw your shoulders away from your ears.
  4. Next, move into Cat Pose: As you exhale, draw your belly to your spine and round your back toward the ceiling. The pose should look like a cat stretching its back.
  5. Relax the crown of your head toward the floor, but don’t force your chin to your chest.
  6. Inhale, coming back into Cow Pose, and then exhale as you return to Cat Pose.
  7. Repeat 10-20 times, and then rest by sitting back on your heels with your torso upright.

Cobra

  1. Come to lying onto your abdomen
  2. Place your hands underneath your shoulders with your fingertips in line with the top of your shoulders
  3. draw your shoulder blades back and down your spine
  4. keeping the back of your neck long and using only your back muscles not hands on an inhale begin to lift your chest
  5. hold for a couple of breaths
  6. on an exhale lower down relax completely turning your chest to one side
  7. repeat 3 x

Neck Rolls

  1. Begin with your head facing forward
  2. Start to slowly drop your chin towards your chest
  3. In a half moon shape begin to take your chin over towards your right shoulder
  4. Move your right ear towards your shoulder with out lifting your shoulder up
  5. Replicating the half moon shape begin to drop your head back as if you were trying to look to back of the room
  6. Complete the rotation, repeat again on the opposite side

 

Seated twist: 

How to:

  1. From a seated position with your legs extending in front, draw your knees into your chest with your feet flat
  2. Wrap your right arm around legs and place your left hand flat behind your back
  3. press down into your left hand to find length in your spine on an inhale
  4. On an exhalation twist to the left
  5. Stay for a coupe of breaths
  6. Repeat opposite side

Banana asana 

  1. Lying on your back with your legs together and straight on the floor, reach the arms overhead and clasp your hands or elbows.
  2. With your buttocks firmly glued to the earth, move your feet and upper body to the right.
  3. Arch like a nice, ripe banana.
  4. Be careful not to twist or roll your hips off the floor.
  5. When your body opens more, move both feet further to the right and pull your upper body further to the right.
  6. Hold for 1-5 minutes
  7. Repeat on opposite time

Complete with a full savasana and relaxation.

Please don’t hesitate to send me a message if you have any further questions! 

Happy healing

Rebecca

Why ‘traditional’ yoga doesn’t really accommodate the bleeding lady and how to adapt your practice according to your cycle.

Why ‘traditional’ yoga doesn’t really accommodate for the bleeding lady and how you can adapt your practice according to your cycle

Whether you attend yoga classes or not, you will probably be savvy to the demographic of people that attends yoga and will be aware that it is saturated with women. Before I divulge further, I must note that yoga is also for men, and many men do attend.  Though as a teacher and student of yoga and a regular attendee at yoga studios I cannot help but continuously think of how it is probably the activity that has the highest female domination with a rapid growing rate. Yet many of the practices where designed for the male body and the male hormonal system.  Things are changing I must say, but there are some practices that might actually be dangerous for a woman at different phases of her life, and some different practices that can support her best health. 

The yoga practices I have previously studied and practiced have been intense, 6 days per week practices with one day off per week and the new moon and the full moon days off.  The full and new moon are widely respected in India and when I asked why we take those days off from practice I was told that the moon effects the body and makes you more flexible on these days so it is much more dangerous for the body.  However something tells me that maybe these days off where put in place as women often bleed around the new moon or the full moon, so maybe some consideration has been taken in regards to the female cycle.  Mostly though, other than inversions not being advised, in my personal opinion, the menstrual cycle is not discussed enough in yoga classes and we need to open up the conversation.  I mean, it is not discussed enough in the world, though I’m speaking on yoga here so I will stay on topic.

Given the fact that female hormones change on a weekly basis, and our energy levels rise and fall, you would think we should most likely adapt our physical practices accordingly, rather than repeating the same physical practice every day with no break.  

If you have ever spent any time in Mysore, India then you will have heard the conversation amongst many women that they haven’t had their cycle. *note* if you haven’t spent time in Mysore it is the home of Ashtanga Vinyasa - a popular yoga system made famous in the 1980s.   Last time I was in India completing a 2 month TTC I didn’t get a period for the full amount of time I was there, when I asked the teacher why his response was “we have this feedback often from many women, we are not sure why it happens maybe too much heat in the body”.  In India a lot of reference is made to Ayurveda and the elements so for reference that is what the ‘too much heat in the body’ meant.  My question was though, why is this really happening to so many women and why is nobody concerned about it?

One of the main reasons I think many women are not concerned about it is because of the language and experiences we have always had around our bleed, periods are considered an ‘inconvenience’, especially in a practice such as the ones described, if you can avoid having a bleed then thats great isn’t it? We can remain disciplined.  We can remain focused.  We can continue to wake up at 5 am each day, we can fast throughout the day, we don’t require water.  

When you get a bleed though, you’re tired, you require food and rest, your external focus isn’t as strong, you want to internalise and move in.  Which doesn’t really fit into the narrative of doing more is better.  So when your period suddenly dries up - great right? You can practice everyday with no problem, inversions too! 

I had this view, I was so delighted when I didn’t bleed for 2 months, yes I had questions about why but nonetheless, I was ecstatic with my ‘Superwoman’ status that my fellow students had given me, I practiced yoga 5 hours a day and ate only one meal per day.  When I arrived back home, my cycle was extremely erratic, sometimes I would not bleed for three months at a time.  Eventually I was concerned, I became increasingly aware of how my cycle was a marker for my health, if I wasn’t bleeding then I wasn’t ovulating and if I wasn’t ovulating then I wasn’t fertile and that was a concern to me.  I decided I needed to do something about it, so I began to investigate further, I found the book Wild Power which opened me up to the wisdom of the menstrual cycle and the different phases, naturally I began to adapt my practice, I then discovered Uma Dinsmore-Tulis book Yoni Shakti and went on to complete her Well woman Yoga Therapy course. 

A healthy reproductive system is indicative of overall health, so our lifestyle and yoga practice should honour the natural cyclical phases that we experience in our monthly cycle.  Yet, most popular yogic practices are focused onto upward energy.  

In yoga there are many concepts and understandings and we have what is described the 5 Prana Vayus, these are Prana, Apana, Samana, Udana, Vyana.  These are the 5 functions of Prana as defined in the traditional Hatha system.  They each govern different parts of the body and different subtle activities.  The full functioning of all the vayus assures health and vitality of the body and mind.  They are the five major currents in the body of vital energy.

To give you a brief understanding of each of the 5 Pranic Vayus I have included this chart below. 

Most yoga classes are focused onto the upward flow of energy, menstruation of course is the downward flow of energy, so Apana is responsible for menstruation. For this reason when we are bleeding we need to focus onto the downward flow of energy, practices such as Ashtanga Vinyasya that put a lot of emphasis onto Mula Bandha, restrict the flow of Apana and it is in my belief this reason why many women who practice in Mysore lose their cycle for a while, especially during intensive practices.  Due to our hormonal changes our flexibility also changes throughout the month, and energy levels, so when you wonder why you killed that hot vinyasa class last week and this week you feel like you might collapse, thats because your body is asking for a different type of practice during this time.  

Its not to say that the intensive practices should be totally disregarded, at different times of my cycle I can really reap the benefits of particular breathing techniques that involve the use of Mula bhanda and encourage upward flow, but I now have the tools, skills and knowledge to know when to adapt my practice and exactly how to adapt it.  I also know how to support my students in what ever stage of their cycle they are in, or what ever phase of their female life they are in. 

It can be overwhelming, when I started to open up deeper to the deep feminine and how many yogic systems take no consideration for our innate cyclical wisdom, it shattered a few worlds for me, and a few spiritual beliefs.  That is though, all that they are, spiritual belief systems, that you have to be, or say, or do certain things in order to achieve the most high state.  Let me tell you a little secret its already lying within you, and as women we have very natural yogic altered states of consciousness that occur throughout our life, without us having to sit in mediation for hours and hours, we merely have to surrender to the deep feminine wisdom of our menstrual cycle. 

Anyway, let me give you some constructive information. 

My first tip is; start tracking your cycle, it is the most empowering thing you could start to do for making changes in life according to your cycle.  Day one will be the first day of your cycle, and on each day you will write a couple of words about how you were feeling that day. If you want more details on the different stages of the cycle, please send me an email and I will send you my FREE ebook on conscious menstruation and FREE menstruation chart. 

Questions to start considering and reflecting on: 

What is your body saying and how well are you listening? 

Does your practice and daily life activities take into consideration the circulating hormones and their effect on your overall health? 

How to adapt your practice, I have given some further information on each phase below the chart but this chart has been created by Uma and is a great resource especially if you are a teacher.

During menstruation(inner winter), both progesterone and oestrogen drop at this time, as the uterine inner lining begins to shed. this is a time for compete rest and renewal, I personally do not perform any physical activity during the first couple of days of my bleed, out side of some restorative postures to relieve cramps and breathing techniques to support to blood flow moving down. Sadly, most cultures favour pushing women to continue to keep doing, doing, doing and though you might have the choice to refrain from your gym class or favourite vinyasa class, you might not be able to avoid the daily chores that come with being a human being, however eliminating as much of the tough physical practice as you can is going to help you maintain some vital energy, and taking what ever time you can to yourself, even if it is just five minutes, make sure to prioritise yourself during this phase. 

Try this breathing technique: Inhale through the nose with soft open lips and visualise a circle expanding as you breath in, exhale out from the mouth and imagine an upside down triangle opening up, and focus onto releasing completely.  The visualisation helps me a lot.  If you must go to class, think yin, restorative, gentle non hot classes, try a yoga Nidra online too! 

After menstruation (inner spring), your oestrogen starts to rise during this time, which facilitates the development of a follicle into an egg.  This is a time in your cycle when you might feel you want to explore your creativity a bit more in your practice, it is a good time to learn new things and embrace more energetic classes. 

Ovulation ( inner summer), LSH and FS spike during this time to release the developed egg.  Inner summer is when your outward energy will be at its most high, perfect time to work on your strength and inversions, personally I find I’m naturally more inclined to move more and attempt more strenuous things in this time, my energy feels almost endless.

Pre Menstruation (inner autumn), after all the excitement and energy pike of summer, progesterone starts to prepare the uterine lining to potentially receive a fertilised egg (of course when this doesn’t happen you will get your period).  This is a time for deep inner reflection, look for sequences that support calm, and be gentle with your body, you might find you tire more easily or get more muscle soreness, I really start to slow down my practices during this time and focus onto releasing and a lot of journalling. 

Wow if you have made it to the end then thank you! 

I hope this information supports you in your yoga practice, as always on and off the mat! 

If you are looking to start your own yoga practice then please send me an email or catch me on instagram or facebook as I have an online beginners course starting on the 1st March! 

Happy Healing 

Rebecca 

The Divine Union : Finding balance in a same sex relationship

The Divine Union: Finding balance in a same sex relationship

I was informed quite recently that a plug and its socket are sometimes known as male and female, the plug being the male and the socket being the female.  In electrical trades, each pair is assigned as the gender of male or female, the female connection is the indented chamber, her duty as a mechanical appliance to graciously “receive” and hold the male connector in its penetrative being.  To connect the two is ‘to mate’.  The analogy of course is in reference to male and female genitalia and the act of sexual intercourse, the penetrated being female, the penetrator being male, the giver being male, the receiver being female.  

Of course naturally, being a in a same sex relationship, you imagine the absurdity of trying to press to sockets together to create and energy flow.  Electrically and mechanically speaking it just wouldn’t work. 

 

 

The correspondence of trying to relate myself or the female species as a socket, of course is a disservice to all that is feminine, in real life terms, we are much more complex than a compartment created only to be filled. Though, I imagine many women could relate to the feeling of being almost worthless until, their life is penetrated with a male energy. I have definitely subscribed to those feelings in the past. That my ability to obtain the other masculine half of myself defines me, that if I could not find my male counterpart to complete me, then I was not worthy. 

Know what I mean?

My partner now though is a female, turns out I was looking on the wrong team for my captain the whole time, and through weird metaphors and electrician talk, I would like to share some of the psychological difficulties that come with the identification of being “gay” and how our energies naturally find ways to balance themselves, no matter what our gender. 

 

I cannot say I have faced any obvious adversity in my ‘coming out’ if you can call it that, it was not quite the show Philip Schofield had, but I am sure some people were pretty shocked. Myself included I must say. My Mum was a little bit shaken at first, but that was mainly due to my deficient decision to inform her the typical fairytale life wasn’t happening – through a text. I know it was an awful decision, I am a little separated at times from what is the right way of doing things, I knew she had her suspicions so my text was just a confirmation.  Anyway after the initial shock, she came around and voiced that it would explain a lot of my melancholic nature and disobedient behaviour growing up, she didn’t use those words, I am trying to poetic.  It resonated though to be honest, maybe my denial of my true sexuality had led me to a life of feeling unsettled, of not knowing who I was, of not understanding myself, so I reacted as any normal human being would, by searching for all that was external to me to bring me happiness, inevitably of course, it gave me the spade to dig a deeper hole into desperation and searching. 

 

My Mum and Dad both said, they always knew.  I was astonished, I suppose they do say your parents know you better than you know yourself, but I cannot say the same for myself that I had “always known”.  It had crossed my mind, but I am a daydreamer, I had thought it nothing more than my imagination speculating the potential of finding my other socket.  I obviously pushed it to the back of my mind, to the “thats not normal” section of my brain.  And thats what I want to bring some awareness to, the normal-ness or apparent lack thereof of pressing to sockets together.  It is not the done thing. Right? Because everything and everywhere you look, inclusive of the electrical world, the “Divine Union” is a male and a female.  

Yin and yang fit so perfectly together in their masculine and feminine bisections. Shiva and Shakti in their divine dance.  So what happens when you don’t want to dance with Shiva, but Shakti is looking quite appetising.  Are you less divine? If you don’t want your socket to be filled, but instead are curious as to what might happen if you stuck your tongue in the socket. What happens when you are searching for more of an electrical shock, looking outside of the ‘norm’. 

You face an internal struggle. 

#loveislove hash tagged all over the internet and rainbows on street signs really help to emphasis the “normalness” of your relationship. *que eye roll*. I understand in its entirety the relevance and significance of this, but I cant help but wince from the inside when I see young straight people head to toe in rainbow colours, hash tagging love is love and letting everybody know its okay to be gay.  The magnitude of fuss made, somehow has the opposite effect of normalising and makes you feel somewhat strange. Do not misunderstand me in that, I truly understand and respect the significance of the gay rights movement and I know that without it I would not even be able to write this blog post, but something about it glorifies your relationship, in a way that makes you feel everything less than normal.  

There is a sense of homophobia in the collective consciousness, same way there is sexism and  racism, there is a sense of feeling like ‘something isn’t quite right’ when a person is gay.  Everybody wants to work out why this person is gay, maybe they just haven’t found the right person of the opposite sex yet, maybe its daddy issues. It was only in 2005 when same sex couples were granted the right to enter a civil partnership and only 6 years ago in 2014 was same sex marriage legalised in the UK.  It is still not legal in many countries of the world.  Naturally the history of misconduct towards men and women who identified as homosexual/bisexual is ingrained into our DNA. So on a subconscious level, there is a fight going on, though not one ounce of your conscious mind thinks your relationship is wrong, small messages and indicators that surround you somehow imply that it is. At present we are in Bali, before we came here I had to google ‘is it legal to be gay in Bali?’ my google search results informed me it was legal but it was also ‘frowned upon’ now I am an open minded and understanding person, I appreciate how societies have been developed and constructed and even appreciate that a person might not have the capacity to understand how to people of the same sex could ever fall in love, because once again social norms and religious beliefs have taught us only of the male and female union.  Therefor I do respect that it might come as quite a shock to a 70 year old hindu balinese woman to see two young white girls kissing in the middle of the street, it is within my nature to ‘respect’ peoples feelings towards it.  We always joke if we kiss in public and hold hands and say ‘dont its “frowned upon”’ it is half a joke, but half of you is wondering if people are onlooking in dismay at your poor decision to engage in this unorthodox behaviour.  

 

What is noticeable throughout history and these behaviours and understandings toward same sex relationships is the lack of understanding of energies, of how the energy works beyond the plug and socket.  How energy existed even before the plug and socket. Nature has a a beautiful way of restoring equilibrium, in any relationship gay or straight what you will usually see is a more masculine dominant energy and a more feminine dominant energy.  And thats what it is all about really energies. And I want to share with you the beautiful and majestic way that Emma and myself have found our own divine dance between Shiva and Shakti. 

Energy; you see, is genderless, though we express as one particular gender, we hold inside of us both energies, masculine and feminine, the divine union is within us.  And most of our problems are rooted in the idea that it is external to us.  Spiritually speaking we are attempting, to get back to that sense and feeling of oneness.  That feeling of oneness does not manifest from your ability to find the most divine being of the opposite sex to complete you it comes from embracing and nurturing your own inner masculine and feminine energies.  

Within my relationship neither of us is especially masculine, there isn’t one set role between either of us, in fact; as is the only constant we are ever changing and transforming from one energy to the next in accordance with each other.  

As women, we have a beautiful divine dance between the masculine and feminine energies that presents itself in our internal cycle, of the 4 weeks of our inner cycle, we interchange between two polar energies, masculine(via positiva) and feminine(via negative).  When we are in our more ‘feminine state’ it is our pre-menstrum (week before bleeding) and bleeding phase, when we are in our ‘masculine state’ is is our pre ovulation and ovulation phase.  If you already have an understanding of these energies and seasons working within your own being, your comprehension of what I am going to explain will be better, if you’d like to better understand these energies and how they unfold in your cycle email me and I will send you out my ebook.  

As a female or even a male observer I am sure you have noticed how women cycles tend to sync up, this is a well known fact amongst women.  The more time you spend with another woman the more likely it is that your cycles will sync up, so you will bleed at the same time.  I am not sure if science has an answer for this, but let us call it a force of nature.  It is quite incredible, even the ladies in my morning yoga classes would sync up with me, most of the women close to me were bleeding at pretty much the same time as me.  

So you would assume right, that me and Emma bleed at the same time? 

Your assumption would be wrong.  Our cycle is completely opposite, when she bleeds I am ovulating when I am ovulating she bleeds.  Incredible right? 

We always pondered this and speculated how bizarre it was that I could be synced up with the women in my yoga class but not with my girlfriend with whom I share almost every moment of my life and share a bed with.  

Then we realised, the two sides of the cycle.  The masculine and the feminine, when I was in receiving mode, Emma was in giving mode and vice verser.  My shiva dances with her shakti. So within our relationship, the energies are finding there own unique way to balance, and its a beautiful thing to be able to see the contrast between the two, as you watch your partner slowly emerge from the inner world of the feminine and moon like energy into the external world and sun energies. It also gives you the opportunity to work on your internal energies in each phase of the cycle, to embrace the pulse between the two.  

Ultimately we have found our own flow, and there are no plugs required. 

Thanks for reading, I hope your can find your own unique dance, free from judgement. 

Happy Healing, 

Rebecca 

Starting all over again: From injury to recovery and all the discoveries in between.

Wow it has been a long time since I have sat down to write a blog, life has been so liberating and busy all at the same time.  Do you ever get that? 

My girlfriend and recently moved to Bali, which has been so exciting and a big dream for us for a long time. Even though we have the whole day to pretty much do as we please, the busyness of your mind turns up the volume when you actually slow down.  I am starting to get past the noise of my mind and piece things together and get back to working on sharing more things. 

Reflecting in Bali

I never thought I would be writing a blog on the other side of this injury and in such a positive life changing manner, but here we are! I have been practicing yoga for coming up to 9 years now, well it was at least 9 years since I first stepped into a class, and of course I was overwhelmed with all the usual concerns of first entering a class, but what I never really struggled with was my flexibility.  I know, *breaking news* a yoga teacher admitting she was flexible before she started practicing yoga.  I never really liked to admit this, as I felt like it took away from all the hard work I had put into practicing, now I realise it doesn’t, not at all I still put in all those hours and dedicated time to my practice each day.  And when I say I was flexible, I mean I could touch my toes with ease, so once I got started practicing, deepening my flexibility became much more accessible.  So what did that mean, in the yoga world where we are all one? Well of course, I was slightly more glorified by some of my teachers, so naturally gaining praise for my flexible body it almost became what defined me.  So I carried on in this search for deeper stretches, more intense feelings, exploring where could my leg go next? I mean where else could it go once it was behind my head? Splits had become easy, so what now: over splits of course.   

Double whammy: splits and leg over the head.

Im speaking literally from the mindset that imposed on me that more flexibility meant I was better, you will totally understand this if you practice yoga.  Yoga also brought me many other things, and my intention wasn’t only flexibility, though I want to show how it took over at times.  

Thats me ^

Imagine for a second a rubber band, fresh and new and imagine pulling it. Got it?  Imagine now an old rubber band the type that’s stretchy but seems like it might snap with the next pull , that’s how I started to feel like an old rubber band.  5 years into teaching, I felt as though my body had started to give up, and I was getting this consistent pain in the top of my hamstring, to be honest, I had felt the pain many times before but this time it was so painful.  Now I wasn’t all bendy Wendy, I worked on my strength in my yoga practice and I had also taken on a personal trainer 5 x per week (right? because I totally needed that), alongside that I was waking up every morning and going for a run (are you crying for my hamstrings), eventually and I cannot pin point the exact moment, but the poor little tendon at the top of my bum (the yoga but) said ‘No more beck’. Well it didn’t actually talk. But I couldn’t carry on.  No more could bendy beck touch her toes.  I couldn’t do any weights (though I tried for a while), any yoga class I attended made me cry, with pain and also frustration.  

So for a while I had my self a little pity party.  Wallowing in my poor little self with my injury.  Of course being the meta physical thinker that I am, I knew this was beyond just a physical injury, I was being told to slow down.  Not only that, I was being sent a gift to shake me out of what had now became my normal movement patterns. 

You see as human beings, we are naturally inclined to do things that we are good at,  that’s just facts.  I know I am not alone in this, you do it too. We all do.  Not only do we do what we are good at, we also tend to put ourselves in boxes, mostly metaphorically but also literally  and we have a nice little box that we call a yoga mat in which all of our movement must stay, and in our minds we have been taught how to move inside of this box.  What happens when we get outside of the box? Developing and exploring new movements helps to create new neural pathways in the brain, we get to explore new parts of ourselves when we explore new movement. 

My injury led me to start looking outside of yoga for answers, and what I learnt was that as a physical practice, yoga was pretty behind in the movement scene.  What had been created was a series of imitations of positions, passed down from person to person.  And though the philosophy and practices have so much depth, much of that was being lost in this imitation.  I hadn’t learnt how to properly look after my joints, or how to actively stretch.  Once I started doing these things, the pain started to leave my body.  I can safely say I am a recovering passive stretcher and I have not consciously passively stretched in at least 6 months, and my body feels much better for it.  I won’t get into how most yoga systems have totally neglected the fact that half the world bleeds once a month, or has babies, or recovers from having a baby, that’s for  another post. 

The injury has actually little by little began to shatter the systems I once relied on for answers, now I rely on myself.  Though I am grateful to the discipline for allowing me to dig a little deeper into myself, I am so glad I stopped digging and began to just walk around and explore myself. 

So that’s what I have been doing, exploring new movement.  Im still at the beginning of that journey, but here in Bali is a great place to be with many amazing forward thinking teachers who have already broken out of their boxes.  If they were ever in one! 

If you’re interested in learning the basics and most safe ways to begin to explore your own body I am launching an online course in Feb send me and email for more details or get me on instagram !

Happy healing and as always I hope you find some inspiration here.


http://www.instagram.com/rebecca___stewart

rebecca@surya-yoga.co.uk 

What is a Menstrual Cup and Why should you be using one…

I did a poll recently on my Instagram to see how many people knew about menstrual cups and were using them and I was surprised at how many beautiful ladies didn’t yet have them in their life. I thought I would take some time out to explain to you the benefits not only for you but for the environment in using a menstrual cup and what they actually are!

So first things first…

What is a menstrual cup? A menstrual cup is a reusable female hygiene cup used to collect the blood of your menstrual flow during the time of your period. (pictured below).

Menstrual cup.

Next up why should you be using one? Well ladies honestly there are SO MANY reasons why you should make this investment, but I will list just a few.

  1. ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH: You know the plastic straw hype? Well there are millions of plastic applicators off tampons also floating in the ocean getting caught up in fishermans nets. Tampon applicators are particularly problematic as a source of long term pollution. Menstrual cups can last up to 10 years, and depending onto the heaviness of your flow they can be worn for up to 12 hours (I must say I never make it that far but nonetheless the options there). So they are much more environmentally friendly Read here for more stats on the quantity of menstrual products polluting our ocean: https://friendsoftheearth.uk/plastics/plastic-periods-menstrual-products-and-plastic-pollution
  2. YOUR HEALTH: Not only are menstrual products such as pads and tampons polluting our oceans and earth, they are also polluting us. Tampon manufacturers do not have to disclose the ingredients in their products and we do not know exactly what tampons contain (scary right). And the all bright white look of the products might make it appear clean and inviting but in actual fact, the paper bleaching process means they often contain dioxin, one of the most carcinogenic substances known.
  3. COST: Menstrual cups cost between £10-15 pounds, (ours are priced at £11.11), that’s a one time cost for probably 5 years, potentially ten. Rather than £5 every month, do the maths.
  4. VAGINAL PH.Tampons absorb all your vaginal fluid along with the blood, which may disturb the delicate pH and bacterial balance in your vagina. Not to mention you run the risk of toxic shock syndrome with a tampon (no doubt related to the chemicals).

For me switching to a menstrual cup is a no brainer, but my best advice would be to try it and see if it works for you. You can visit our instagram page @_yonilove_ for updates of benefits and to purchase your very own.

Keep healing

Beck x

Back to Basics with Beck: Online Beginners Yoga Course

Ready to start your yoga journey?

Have you been desperate to start yoga but just can’t get to a studio or class? Over the four years that I have been teaching I am always asked: ‘do you do anything online?’ and for those four years I have promised multiple people that ‘not just yet but I definitely will’.

At last that time has come. My mind used to take me in the direction where I thought an online class wouldn’t be as beneficial. I was worried I wouldn’t be able to give the students as much attention and 1:1 contact and interaction. This combined with the number of people who would say to me ‘I wish I could get to your classes but I can’t for (insert reason) led me a bit of a conflict. How can I share yoga with people who can’t make it to class but still provide my full attention and 1:1 contact? From this the course was born. I wanted to create a platform where yoga is accessible to every single person, with proper guidance and mentorship from me throughout.

How will it work?

The course is a duration of 4 weeks. Once signed up, I will add you to a private facebook group, where all videos and info about the course will be uploaded. The group will of course have all of the other members so you can interact and ask questions to each other and me. One of my favourite things about yoga is the community of friends that I have met, this group will become our online studio, where we can interact and discuss yoga related things with our new likeminded friends !

The content:

The videos will begin with a 15 minute sequence in week one, a 30 minute sequence in week two, a 45 minute sequence in week three and a 60 minute sequence in week four. Progressively working you up to and hour long practice but also giving you the options of shorter sequences.

The videos will be uploaded of a Sunday in preparation for Monday, there will be guidance as to what time and how often to do the sequence.

Additional content:

I will also share without things that have helped me on my yoga journey, recipes, detox tips, ideas and books to read. I will also share breathing and relaxation techniques and the philosophy behind yoga.

My support:

You each will have my constant support throughout, I will be available for scheduled calls if you wish to chat and also available to answer any of your questions at any time throughout the course, this way I hope to ensure you have my full support and guidance throughout. If there are parts of the sequence or particular postures you are not understanding I will make separate videos to specifically explain that part and clear up any confusion.

Cost and Date start:

The course is £44 but the first 30 sign ups will get the course at 25%off which is £33

The course begins the first Monday in June: June 3rd – June 28th

I will upload the first video on June the 2nd.

How do I sign up?

If you want to sign up send me an email on:

info@beck.yoga

Or a message via facebook : Beckyoga 

Instagram: @beck.yoga

Hope to see you on the mat soon!

Keep on healing,

Beck

How I am overcoming body dysmorphia…

We live in a societal construct today that is built in a way to make women feel bad about themselves.  We have been born into a structure that is causing us to be so disconnected from our bodies that it is impacting us further than just effecting our self esteem but also our spiritual growth.  We are polluted through every sense possible.  Everywhere you turn there is a certain look that is being shown, and whether or not you actively partake in the reading of magazines, watching tv shows, trying to keep up to date with the latest fashion; the subliminal and not so subliminal messages are unavoidable.  If it doesn’t come direct from the source (the people making money off your self hate), it will be regurgitated to you from a friend who believes she is fat or ugly.  If you didn’t already think this about yourself you might now be thinking ‘if she thinks she fat what must she think about me’.  And so these conversations, combined with the vile unachievable representation of women portrayed in what is a male dominated media outlet, the constant advert for Botox, or implants or efforts to make you everything you are not, you’ve created a perfect recipe for a young girl to believe that everything she is isn’t enough.  

I was a victim to this. 

I spent years and years of my life crying in the mirror. 

I spent nights in pain crying wondering why I was so ugly.

I used to dress in only black. 

I had panic attacks every time I had to leave the house for a social event.

I never felt beautiful.

I never felt enough.

Always I thought that as soon as somebody met me, they were looking at how fat and ugly I was.

Of course this seeped into all of my life. I never had any confidence around men, I never felt that anybody would ever find me attractive and so this small wound created in my mind seeped out into a huge amputation of my self worth, given away in a desperate bid to feel good about myself.

In the common conversations that women have on a regular basis, almost like a competitive match of who can put themselves down the most, I always wanted to win.  I had to win.  I was the fattest. I was the ugliest. 

Believe or chose not to believe, the link between a thought and then its manifestation in the world as something tangible but through my life I have noticed the correlation and power.  So unknowlingly at that time, when I thought all the terrible things I did about myself, that is the same person I turned up as.  The same person everybody saw.  My inner intuitive mind now recognises the destruction that I was causing to myself by thinking these thoughts.

Nobody saw how kind I was, nobody saw my interest in philosophy and the interest in intricate workings of the world, nobody saw how I liked to write sometimes and was a desperate dreamer, nobody saw how I always felt I was psychic, nobody saw my deep love for my sister and my mum, my dad and my brothers, nobody saw my friendships and my deep empathy for the world. Nobody saw me. (Slight exaggeration many people did see me and they helped me grow into who I am today).

Because that’s not the book I was writing.  They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but we definitely innately judge a human by their vibrational energy and mine was low.   

I was living out the same habitual patterns, I was watching tv and sleeping all day, I was drinking alcohol and masking my face with make up, masking my soul with learnt behaviours, I was taking antibiotics for multiple years to unsuccessfully clear up my chronic acne, I was abusing laxatives in a desperate plea to feel skinny, I had no clue about what was nutritious, my taste buds called out for food that had a vibrational match to me, junk food, fake food. 

If you know me, reading this might seem like a person you’ve never met.  So how did I get to where I am now? Well you know how they say ‘no good story ever started with a salad’?, this one does.  At around the age of 20 I started eating vegetables, daily.  Being the girl that had always pushed the veg to one side because it was ‘disgusting’ this was an interesting experience for me.  My then malnourished body applauded me for this showering of fresh foods, suddenly I was able to wake up earlier, without a struggle.   My mind felt less fussy. My struggles with constipation started to pass, and with the gut clearing came mind clearing, I took up running, my body just wanted to move. From taking up running I started attending yoga classes (you can read about that here)  From the yoga classes I was led to a yoga teacher training course, of course I’m summarising a few years of events but all of these things I had started to do, started to shift my mindset, started to shift my energy levels, started to raise my vibration. 

When I went on my teacher training I was fascinated with learning about the connection to the true Self, the soul.  I learnt more deeply about the power of thought.  I had this yearning desire to help others in the world to recognise people for their souls and not for their aesthetics.  

Though upon this journey it cannot be ignored that our aesthetics are a byproduct of our thought and also of what we are putting into our body.  

Take for example, the image portrayed in the media that I was discussing earlier, this causes young women to start consuming all sorts of lotions and potions that cause literal blocks in the physical body to the energy body.  And so it becomes difficult to recognise people for their souls because we cannot see or feel the soul past the man made chemicals and pollutants that surround and deeply imbed us.  Which is why overcoming body dysmorphia is more than just changing a thought, it’s more than counselling or anti depressants, it’s revolutionising your whole life.  It is recognising that somebody out there is making a huge profit from your belief that you are not enough and therefor deciding that you will no longer feed the dream of the hierarchical white man: a world of oppressed woman, who don’t tap into their true power.  It is finding ways to reconnect with your true power, your intuition, a woman’s greatest power.  The guiding light in a a woman’s life.  We woman are literal portals to the spirit realm. Whether we chose to or not, our body holds the capacity to create life, and that life we create goes through cycles just as we do of ageing but also becoming wiser.  

Overcoming body dysmorphia for me means dismantling patriarchal rule, for me means tapping into my true power, for me means rewiring all of my neurological paths, learning to love myself, means I rid my body mind and soul from all that which is distorted and dysmorphed my view so that I may stand in front of a person and vibrate as my true self.  So that I may enter a room and people will feel my presence not because I bring a dark energy of hating who I am, but because I bring light and healing energy of love for myself and love for the rest of the world.  

So how did I over come body dysmorphia 

I remembered who I was.

A sacred woman. 

A goddess.

A giver of life. 

A woman. 

And my mission is that you may realise that too.  Whether you are male or female we all hold inside of us that strong Shakti power, the divine feminine. 

The pain we woman are feeling now are labour pains for a birth of a new world. 

A softer world. 

I overcome body dysmorphia by deciding that I will not pass on generational curses into the next influx of souls, by deciding to dedicate my life to empowering each and every individual, to embody love.  

Keep on healing,

Beck

Contact me via: info@beck.yoga for detail on courses and classes 🙂

My First Yoga Class

As a yoga teacher, who’s been teaching now for 4 years, and 7 years since I attended my first class, I think sometimes people can look at you and think you fell out of the womb with the life you have now, rolled out doing backbends and talking about energy shits. Thats not true though, there was a time I had no idea about yoga. I didn’t understand any of it. I also couldn’t understand Sanskrit and had no idea why my wrists ached so bad. To be honest, I forget a lot of it myself. Though I thought I would take a little time out to recall it.

I was living in Australia at the time, at the fine age of 20. Makes me feel a bit strange writing that. I can’t quite believe its been 7 years. So i’ll set the scene for you that led me to eventually entering that studio.

I had always been the child my parents were a little worried about. I’d been a slightly troublesome child in my teenage years and shall we say and my mother had been ever so concerned about me just upping and leaving my job, my university course and well my whole life, to hop on a plane to Australia, without any real reason. My reason? I just wanted a change, I wanted to get away. I was tired of education. I was tired of working. I was tired of my life. I had three jobs at the time, I was an assistant manager at a pub, a cocktail waitress at a bar and an admin girl in a solicitors, all while being (pretending to be) a student in University. When I say pretending to be I wasn’t really attending. Though I was technically a student. So I would work a couple of days a week in the solicitors, a couple of evenings / days a week at the pub and Friday and Saturday evenings in the bar. In between working, I was out: drinking. Thats just what I did. I worked, I went out, I drank, I stayed out longer, I drank some more, I slept (minimally) and I went back to work. Needless to say I must not have been a very good employee, but some how I was always a pretty hard worker (or so I thought), I’ve always liked being busy. Eventually the lifestyle had gotten the better of me, I was tired and I was unhappy. So I did what any 20 year old fed up girl would do, I used my student loan and I hopped on a plane to Australia. Impulse has always been my thing.

When I travelled there, somehow, I seemed to end up in a similar situation, partying too much, working too much but on top of that I was in a pretty unhealthy relationship. Being the strong independent woman that I am haha it might be hard to believe this but I was pretty shy at the time ( I still am actually), and I was put into a hostel room with 5 Irish boys, I didn’t speak to anybody for the first 5 days of my time there. (For anybody who knows me personally it was actually Emma and her partner at that time that recommended this hostel, funny how the world works). Anyway one day one guy did speak to me, to cut a long story short we ended up together, i’ll be brief on the details but I wasn’t happy in the relationship, it is true what they say about having to love yourself before you can love somebody else, my self esteem was very low and lets just say that was taken advantage of.

After about 6 months, I ended up landing an amazing job as an Au Pair with a beautiful family, I never appreciated it as much as I should have at the time but they changed my life, it was there that I started to eat vegetables (really I wouldn’t eat a vegetable prior to that and I was 20 years old). Not only that but the Mum of the family had advised me to go to Yoga, I tell a slight lie when saying this was my first yoga class, I had definitely done some sort of yoga before but I think it was just a gym class.

Anyway, I decided to give it a go. It was winter at the time while I was in Australia, raining a lot of the time and very cold. while I was working as an Au Pair for the family, I was also working in their cafe part time too. The cafe was really close to the families home, up a really steep hill, like really steep, so I would walk home often in the cold and rain up this hill and it always seemed like such a struggle. One day after my shift, I decided to take myself along to a class, before my ‘dreaded’ walk home. To begin with, I got lost (I always get lost) I couldn’t find the studio anywhere, when I eventually arrived I was in a very flustered state. I was a yoga studio virgin, I did my best to go unnoticed and popped myself onto a mat. looking around the room in awe of others, especially in awe of the teacher. She was glowing, radiant and smiling at everybody. The room was very cold I remember that but once we got moving, I was sweating so here’s my inner dialog:

‘oh my god this is so hard’

‘why are my wrist hurting so bad’

‘whats a sacrum’

‘is that another language’

‘am I supposed to be sweating this much’

‘am I standing out, I’m getting everything wrong’

‘what did she say, look at her and see’ *looks up* ‘eek she’s not doing anything’

‘oh my god she wants us to go in pairs i have to talk to somebody’

‘oh wow how did she do that’

‘that girl beside me is so good at this’

‘what is this aum’

The wrist pain is one of the biggest things I remember and my palms slipping, they just WOULD NOT stay in place. Then a student beside me asked why that happens, the teacher replied and said ‘the palms are connected to the heart meridian line and when the heart is heavy and needs to release this will come out through the palms’ now listen believe what ever you want of that, but at this time, my heart was broken, I had a boyfriend, but it was toxic, I was sad and heavy in my heart. When I heard her say that I was like ‘wow, that’s why that’s happening’. The funniest thing I can reflect on now is the *aum* chant at the beginning of the class. If you attend my class you will know I ALWAYS begin and end with an AUM, but then I thought it was hilarious, I had to hold my laughter in as the whole room hummed this sound that I had no interest in joining in, I thought ‘that was weird’. I got through the class, with some tumbles sore wrist and sweaty palms and a little bit of inner laugher at the end. I was all a bit of a whirl, to be honest my recollection of it isn’t that great, but I remember walking home at the end of class, up that dreaded hill, late at night in the dark and absolute awful rain, and I had this big smile on my face. It is difficult for me to explain the feeling I felt, only to say that I hadn’t experienced it before, or I hadn’t experienced it for a long time. something had shifted.

Needless to say I continued to attend the class as often as I could, one of the days at the end of the class there was an optional meditation class at the end from a ‘white witch’. Again I was like ‘this is a bit weird isn’t it’ : I stayed anyway, now I am the one meditating every morning and looking into witching practices.

I would love this to be a happily ever after story, its not some how partying won over yoga for a while again, but once the practice had entered my life all these small shifts and changes started to happen, from turning vegetarian then vegan, to aligning with people who taught me things, to then meeting a girl who was going to do her yoga teacher training in India (the same training I ended up doing). Life started to get weird in the most beautiful and interesting way, and it is been a bumpy and difficult road to get where I am today, this blog is already too long to start covering all that. I thought it important to share with you my first yoga class and let you know ‘every master was once a disaster’. I didn’t wake up one day, as a non drinking, non smoking, vegan, reasonably successful yoga teacher, with a daily practice and beautiful life. It all started there, in that cold room in Avalon Sydney, the class that first taught me how to do a downward dog properly, the class that taught me about how emotions can effect us physically, the class that first taught me the beauty and importance of the spine, the class that I had no idea what was going on but the class the ultimately changed my life.

Yoga is who you are, it is a deep connection to self, it is not important really what brings you to the practice, my only advice is just start, it doesn’t have to make sense, just go along, find that inner smile, you won’t regret it.

I promise.

Keep on healing,

Beck.

How yoga helped me process my emotions.

Do you ever have one of those days where you just cry? 

The smallest of issues happens and it sets you off.  

The flood gates are opened and they cannot be closed. 

This happens to me. 

I am fall victim to my own walls in that I do not often allow myself to feel all that I need to feel. 

Moving through life I always adopted the ‘I don’t care’ attitude about everything.  Truly these were just walls around me, it was easier to say ‘I don’t care’ than to show I cared and then have to experience the emotion or feeling that came with that.  Then somewhere along the line, when I introduced yoga into my life, I became a lot more open to my emotions.  I began to notice how much we applaud people who almost do not show emotion.  The people who ‘hold it together’, yet the ones who wear their heart on their sleeve we almost see them as a little too soft, a little dramatic, a little ‘too sensitive’.  

For me I feel I’m somewhere in between both of them and at times I just cannot seem to find the balance.  

My practice though, helps me.

In my classes, I always begin the class by asking my students to recall their day ‘from the very moment you woke up, until this very moment now’, this practice is called reflection.   At the end of the class, I ask them to repeat the same practice but instead of recalling the day, this time to recall their practice ‘from the moment you stepped onto the mat, until this moment now’. What I like to observe is how our time on our mat is like a simulation of our daily life. At times we show up and we are tired, everything feels difficult, we have times we enjoy and times that are harder, moments of bliss and moments of anger, but at the end either of your practice or of your day – YOU MADE IT, you made it here to you mat to your savasana and that has to be acknowledged.  Then I ask that we just observe any repeated habitual thought processes or actions, just as an observation.  I use this practice as it has helped me in so many ways. 

As I personally began to observe the range of emotions that I went through on my mat, I noticed the same that I feel throughout my day.  And how sometimes I might not reflect back on them to take a lesson.  When I began reflecting onto my practice, and the thought patterns there and acknowledged the correlation between the thought process throughout my day and throughout my life.  I began to make space for change.  I recognised the areas where I kept telling myself ‘I can’t do this’ and the areas where I got angry, I noticed when I would become angry at my teacher, I noticed times when I would get angry at another person. I noticed how when I was feeling low my practice was more lethargic, and when I was feeling good it was more energised. In the same way when I felt low in my day, my actions became lethargic, when I felt good in my day I was a lot more productive.  

Not only this, but the practice gave me the tools, such as breath work, movement and relaxation to allow myself to sit with and work through any emotions.  and allow that application of breath and movement to filter into my life. Often now I find when I am avoiding my practice I am avoiding myself.  They are the moments when I become less ‘in my feelings’ and more ‘I don’t care’.  And in those times the last thing I want to do is backbend, because I know the floods of tear will come some days. I find the same for students too.  When they make excuses not to come to class, maybe they are just not ready for the healing right now.  Maybe it’s not time to go within.  But when we decide to roll out the mat, we work through those blockages, allow them to be released and make space for healing.

Taking time to be with yourself and practice yoga, you begin to understand yourself better, understand yourself better and understand others better and that’s when you really let go and surrender to the practice, surrender to life.  

 See you on the mat

Beck xxx