Santosha: As simple as…

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“Santosat anuttamah sukha labhah”  (Yoga Sutras of Patanjali II:42)

 From contentment one gains supreme happiness

Finding pleasure – sounds so easy, but when it comes to the grind of daily life the reality of it can prove a little more challenging. On my recent Forrest training, we were taught about the importance of delighting your spirit and heart on a daily basis. It seems like a great thing to be asked to do as part of your TTC homework, but honestly speaking is something I struggle with. I get so caught up in what I think I’m supposed to be doing, feeling etc that ironically enough more often than not I forget about the most important person in this equation – myself! I recently realised that doing something delightful for my spirit doesn’t have to be (and quite frankly shouldn’t be!) a chore or a big deal; that maybe I just need to stop thinking so much about what this means, worrying about when I’ll have time for it etc and just go with the flow…

Recent example – last week on my day off rather than get up and do my yoga practice in the morning as usual, I decided to wait until late afternoon. At this point the sun was still shining, the temperature had cooled down, and I found myself on my mat gazing out of the window and wishing I had practised earlier so I could be outside enjoying it. As I moved through my warm up poses I suddenly realised that there really was an obviously simple solution to all this – get up, and get on my mat outside! I’m lucky that my condo has a lovely big green space in the middle; it’s been calling me and my practice for a while but I’ve always shied away from it, worrying about what my neighbours might think if they saw me. Last Friday though, this suddenly ceased to matter. As so I moved through my sun salutations and standing poses,  I had the warmth of the setting sun beaming down on my back, and the beauty of a rising 3/4 moon above me. I had fun playing around with handstands without worrying about which piece of furniture I might fall on top of, and held a freestanding forearm balance for a good 5 seconds before collapsing on the soft grassy cushion beneath me.Was it delightful? Absolutely! Did my neighbours stare at me – how the heck would I know – I was so wrapped up in my practice and a that lovely feeling of sheer contentment that I completely forgot to notice!

Lesson learned: Don’t overestimate what you need to do to find delight – the step to santosha really can be as simple as you’re willing to let it be.

Now…go and enjoy!

My new ‘yoga playground’ here in KL (monsoon rains permitting!!) 

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Gonna get myself connected…because if your breath’s neglected, stumble you might fall…

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Reconnection was the theme of tonight’s class, for me as much as for my students. I’ve been away in the UK for the past 5 weeks, doing the Forrest Yoga Foundation Teacher Training (an absolutely amazing experience and opportunity for which I am so grateful to have had) and so tonight was my first class back in KL for over a month. So, a time for me to reconnect with my KL students, connect with new students 🙂 and also reconnect my brain to my head and get my yoga pants on the right way round! (Yes, they were indeed inside out for the first ten minutes before class started and no, that is not a new Hardtail style last time I checked! A new trend perhaps…?!) And for my students I invited them to take the opportunity to reconnect with their breath. Breath and yoga – sounds pretty damn obvious right? Indeed you have reason, so let me explain…

I’ve recently had a delightfully airy reunion with my breath – one of the major breakthroughs I had on Forrest training course was learning how to actually breathe properly and fully. Sounds so simple, but not as easy as you might think let me tell you. We’re breathing literally every second of the day, but how many of those seconds are we actually conscious of our breath? For most of us probably very few…I know I certainly wasn’t (and this is coming from the mouth of someone who’s practised yoga for 6 years and taught it for over a year!) So learning how to breathe has truly been a revelation and if nothing short of delightful surprise! I’m really rather fascinated by the amount of expansion my rib cage is proving capable of, not to mention the thought of the capacity of air my lungs have space for. I got myself really rather good at shallow ujayi over the years (if I do say so myself!), so it’s not an easy habit to break , however I’m gradually getting better at remembering and with it the simple (or apparently not so simple) act of breathing has suddenly become so much more enchanting both on and off the mat.

So when you find yourself getting all caught up in the quest for a perfect arm balance, in the stresses of work or your daily life take a moment to reconnect with your breath… it could prove more seductive than you might think…

(Ps. As for breathing and talking – well that I’m still working on…!)