The Rules of Yoga

The other day, I came across an article stating ‘how’ you should be doing yoga.

 

Just. No.

 

Of course, there are ways to practice that keep you safe, and yes, these how-to’s should be adhered to, but this article made the practice so inaccessible for so many people. God, I felt guilty reading it and I’m a yoga teacher!

 

These were the ‘rules’:

 

  • Practice yoga on an empty stomach.
  • The best time to do yoga is in the morning before breakfast.
  • Each yoga posture has a purpose and benefits.
  • We can get so much more out of yoga than just exercise—it’s actually a spiritual practice
  • Practicing with awareness is imperative

 

I do not disagree with all of these rules, but let’s break it down.

 

  • Practice yoga on an empty stomach.

Let’s not eat a massive bowl of pasta and garlic bread and then go on to do five rounds of sun salutations. You will throw up. But, a lot of classes are at 7:30pm or 8pm, and are you expected to not have a meal between lunch and dinner? Generally, most people will eat their lunch around midday, and dinner sometime around 6-8pm. Generally. And often, these same people have allocated lunch times in their workplace. They can’t just pop out of the office at 3 or 4pm to have a mini dinner break because their yoga class is at 7 and they can’t have a full stomach so therefore they must starve themselves until afterwards, and potentially be practicing with low blood sugar. Gah!

 

Eat. Give yourself a little bit of a break between food and yoga, but don’t feel like your stomach must be empty. And if you did have a massive meal, take it easy. Yoga will help you digest anyway.

 

  • The best time to do yoga is in the morning before breakfast.

I’m guessing this came from the empty stomach thing. Morning yoga can be great. Sleeping in is also great. There is no ‘best time’ to do yoga. Do yoga when you want to, move your body when you want to. Morning, noon or night.

 

  • Each yoga posture has a purpose and benefits.

Yep. This person’s a master.

 

  • We can get so much more out of yoga than just exercise—it’s actually a spiritual practice.

Ergh! Spiritual. I am not such a massive fan of this word.

Look, yoga has helped me in so, so many ways that are much more than just physical, but, he who searches for enlightenment will not find it. Basically, don’t try too hard. I was put off yoga for a long while because I thought it was for crystal-healing vegans only. There are bunches of mental benefits to yoga, maybe you find a spiritual path through this incredible practice. Maybe you don’t. Or don’t want to. You can still be good to your body and mind.

 

  • Practicing with awareness is imperative.

I would recommend it, but imperative? This peep’s such a yoga bully.

I love to immerse myself in myself when I do yoga. It’s why I do yoga. Getting out of my head is one of the best outcomes of my yoga practice. But do I occasionally think about my washing needing to be hung out, or really getting into the yogi tune that’s playing? Yes. Am I still doing yoga? Yes. Total awareness is a great place to reach, don’t judge yourself if this isn’t achievable every second of every warrior pose.

 

The Rules of Yoga:

Do Yoga. Be safe and don’t beat yourself up. And don’t take it so damn seriously!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moving with Awareness

As some of you know, I have recently moved apartments.

 

Moving is crazy enough, but I had no idea how much harder it is when you and no one you know owns a vehicle, your friends are mostly working, oh, and you live on the fourth floor of an early 1900’s building. No lift.

 

Getting the furniture and stuff is fun. Berlin is an amazing recycle-friendly community, and due to previously-mentioned factors, a lot of the time, people will just give things away for free. Purely for the fact they can’t be bothered moving it themselves. Which is great when you don’t have a literal thing to sit on.

 

But then you need to get said free things up four flights of stairs.

 

Luckily, my brawny husband can take the weight of most things, lifting an entire oven down five flights because ‘it’s just easier with one person.’

 

But mostly, lifting requires two people.

 

This is where I come in.

 

This is where yoga comes in.

 

There is absolutely no way I would’ve got out of this move injury free if it wasn’t for the knowledge I have of my own body. Through yoga, I’ve been able to notice very subtle things about the parts of me that just require a little extra attention.

 

For example, I dump weight into my hips a lot. I’ve been asked (more than once) when I’m due, as I stick my belly out, due to having a flexible lower back.

 

My shoulders are super tight, so I tend to slouch (don’t we all), so I remind myself often to sit up tall.

 

And day by day there are things that come up, that I just notice, and take care of.

 

It was this awareness of my whole body, that meant I could carry a 70kg fridge up 108 steps. (108: yogi number. Coincidence?)

 

Engaging the belly, staying strong in the legs, and using my biceps instead of my wrists to carry things were all parts of the move. Yeah, it was harder at the time. But the payoff meant it was necessary.

 

Could I still use a massage? Oh yeah! But did I still manage to teach three yoga classes that week? Yes. With lots of yin.

 

Make It

 

When was the last time you made something? With your hands?

 

A couple of weekends ago, the hubby and I made our own pot plants out of paper maché. We obtained, (stole) a bunch of pamphlets from Checkpoint Charlie, a tourist attraction and integral part of the Berlin Wall story, that we just happen to live nearby. The pamphlets are really graphic, so they make for a cool statement. Then we found buckets in a skip out the back and used them as our base.

 

We are moving from this area soon and we thought it was a great way to take a small memory from our time near the Checkpoint.

 

And then we started making. Whipping up the paste, tearing the pamphlets into strips and spreading them over our base. No rules, no structure, just pure creativity.

 

Damn, it was so good!

 

First of all, it beats sitting on the couch all day indulging in Netflix while clouds are grey, but also, we get an end-product. For free. And it will always be special because it’s not like any other thing in our house. In any shop. We made it.

 

When we’re kids we make things all the time. They’re mostly crap, and your mother has to pretend to love it, give it the appropriate air time on the fridge, Christmas tree, whatever, before she can sneakily throw it away and claim it’s gone missing somehow.

 

Now that we’re adults with some level of taste, we have the ability to make things that are actually good. Functional even. So why do we stop making?

 

Everyone says they don’t have any time, but how many of you just smashed out ‘You’ on Netflix recently? *Puts hand in the air*. I’m not saying never watch TV or scroll social media for endless hours, but also, don’t do that and then say there isn’t any time.

 

The best part of making these pots was doing it together. It was such a nice way to spend the hours in the same room, without checking our phones and pretending to watch a Drug Lords documentary.

 

If you haven’t made something for a while, I encourage you to do so. Paint, draw, jam on the guitar, heck, bake an epic cake for all I care. But do something you haven’t done in a while. Something that the child version of you loved doing. And share it with someone. Do it together because it’s so much more fun.

 

 

 

 

 

2018…

Right now, I’m sitting at my local café, having the most wonderful flat white, complete with coated chocolate coffee bean. My two dogs are lying down under the table, of course only after Felix has said hello to everyone in here, and I’m typing my last blog for the year.

 

I have no idea how many people have read my blogs, how many will ever read them, how I should probably do something to make sure they are read in the future. But I’m excited to write this one. Regardless of who reads it.

 

With the coming of a New Year comes a reflection on the last 365 days. And Oh, how I have filled those days.

 

I’m going to include turning 30 in the year that has passed, since it was right at the end of December and close enough is good enough.

 

I finally did my Yoga Teacher Training, met the most awesome people during that time, and realised that the thing I wanted to do for so long was actually done.

 

I (Alex) renovated our house in Adelaide, preparing it to be lived in by someone else. Someone who probably wouldn’t appreciate our retro bathroom as much as we did.

 

I said goodbye to someone who influenced my life in so many ways. Someone who never saw the world. Only from books – so many books. I told her I’d go see it for her. Sometimes I think about showing her all my photos (very slowly, so she could take it all in), and then I remember that won’t happen.

 

I moved to a whole other country, continent, hemisphere. I knew three people, about that many German words.

 

I missed the birth of my second nephew. But my sister is a champ, who knows me very well. She knows that I’ll be that cool aunt that brings her children stories and ideas home, instead of gifts. (Don’t freak out Sarah, I’ll bring them a present – sustainable of course).

 

I got a job in a foreign land, with very little language. I quit that job three months later.

 

I’ve reconnected with my Dad. Because life is too short to hold on to the feeling in the pit of your stomach. Best to let it digest as it needs to, and let it settle.

 

I have explored four countries and have three more to tick off the list before the year is up.

 

And I became a yoga instructor.

 

I teach twice a week, and when my new role starts in the New Year, hopefully I’ll teach almost every day. I’ve held workshops and have been filmed teaching a whole class. I thought I would struggle to cover rent, but I did. I had no background in this place, knew nobody, and in four months I have had at least someone in my class, and three awesome regular students. They are forever special to me.

 

I miss my mum, Friday night dance parties, South Australian wine.

 

I am so happy that I have Alex.

 

 

  1. Thanks for being a great teacher.

 

The Jump

When I was younger, my Dad would take us to the jetty at Wallaroo (all country towns in Australia have double-double-letter names), and we would go fishing, eat pizza from the (unusually amazing) wood-oven place at the start of the jetty, and we would jetty jump.

 

For those of you not privy to an Australian beach-life upbringing, jetty jumping is when you jump off the jetty.

Said jetty is usually 6-10 feet above water level, but always feels like 20 feet.

 

I was not a truly adventurous kid. Despite what my male cousins put me through in many adventures in our Grandfather’s backyard, I was a wuss.

 

I am still a bit of a wuss.

 

That day, on the jetty, I kept running up to the edge, and not jumping off. I couldn’t. It was scary as hell! Persistently getting to the edge, and being unable to voluntarily launch myself off.

 

And then I did.

 

It was so fun! Amazing! Best feeling ever! Let’s do it again!

 

You seriously couldn’t get me to stop. My favourite memories of that summer were definitely jumping off the Wallaroo jetty. Even when my bikini top went MIA, sometimes the bottoms too – it was the most fun thing to do, ever.

 

Last week, I jumped off the jetty again.

 

I gave up solid, monthly income, to pursue my dream of having nothing to do, except teach yoga.

 

This is the adult version of the jetty jump.

 

How many times I went to the edge, almost ready, really thinking I was going to do it this time, but something physically not letting go. Not jumping.

 

And then the jump. Did I lose my bikini top? I’m sure I will, maybe the bottoms too. But is that going to stop me from diving deep, finding them again, putting them back on without anyone noticing, and climbing back up that jetty, only to feel the invigorating energy of jumping all over again? Nope.

 

I hope to jetty jump through the rest of my life. Finding the pure joy in letting go and trusting (without knowing) that the forces of nature will catch me.

 

So welcome to the ocean. If you find my top, please return it to me.

Back to Basics

I met my yoga idol. Adriene Mischler.

 

You may know her from the very famous YouTube channel, ‘Yoga with Adriene.’

 

I have been following Adriene for years. I have practiced with her more than any other teacher in the whole world. And finally I was able to meet her. She was right next to me! Walked on my mat! We have the same toe-polish!!!

 

And this meeting really couldn’t have come at a better time. If you read my previous blog, you will know I’ve been having somewhat of an identity crisis. What I realised I needed, was to get back to my basics. And I have been. I’ve been holding back from trying to do crazy-cool, Insta-worthy shit, and I have been sticking Warrior 2. For like, an hour! (Not an hour, but a couple of minutes in Warrior 2 feels like an hour).

 

What I’ve discovered, and what I’ve always known, is that there is so much more to these ‘basic’ poses. I think to call yourself an ‘advanced yogi,’ you understand this more than anyone.

 

There is always more to explore.

 

The practice Adriene held in Berlin was a sequence of some absolute basics.

And I worked hard. My quads hurt the next day. My hips woke up again.

 

When you are fully aware of every part of your body in a pose, whether that pose is compass or tadasana – you are in an advanced pose. Being good at yoga has nothing to do with how it looks. It’s about how it feels. And only you can know how it’s feeling. And if you can’t feel it, how can you adjust your body so that you can. Because you will. Even if it’s not as tight as it used to be, or you’re stronger than you were before, there is always more to explore. Always.

 

I spoke to Adriene about how I’ve been coming back to my basics, and how that practice she just held was perfect for that, and she totally understood. And also pointed out what I’ve been talking about – you realise that those poses are not basic at all. Not when you’re in your body instead of your mind.

 

Don’t get me wrong, the pretzel stuff is super fun, and I won’t stop playing with that either, but for now, this is what I need. My foundations. My roots. Remembering why I love this incredible practice. Why I love the community surrounding it. There is nothing wrong with pairing back in order to discover more.

 

There is always more to explore.

 

 

 

 

Ok, side note:

 

Adriene is super freaking incredible in person. She is exactly like she is on YouTube, and I knew she would be. She is the exact same height as me too!!

 

I also wrote her a letter because I’m a fan-girl like that. And we did Namaste Shark Fin together.

 

Oh, and she does this funny goddess squat thing when she goes in to hug you.

 

 

 

Namasté Shark Fin

Why I needed a Yoga Meltdown

I had a yoga meltdown the other day.

 

I was on a yoga retreat, with my favourite teacher and one of my best friends, I was on the Amalfi coast, sea, sun, incredible food and amazing company, and I had a meltdown.

 

Long story short, it was one little comment that broke me; “you’re going to be a great teacher.”

 

I’ve tried to figure out why this comment affected me so much, and I’ve come up with several conclusions.

 

Conclusion 1:
I am a fraud. There is no way I’ll be able to teach a great class where everyone feels amazing and loves it and wants to come back again. The quality of teachers is too high in Berlin, and what the hell am I thinking?!

 

Conclusion 2:

Do I even want to teach? Since becoming certified, my own practice has significantly changed. I’m more analytical of what I’m doing, always trying to think of how I would instruct this myself. I love yoga because it gets me out of my head, and all of a sudden, I’m back in it again. I need a break from that thing!!

 

Conclusion 3:

I’m just scared. Scared to fail. Scared that no one will come to my classes. Scared that I’ll never be able to do a handstand and for some reason that makes me a fake. Fear has stopped me from doing a lot of things (aforementioned handstand being one of them), but also, fear gets into my head before I even get the chance to face the thing I’m scared of.

 

I had a yoga meltdown because of a combination of these things.

 

I’ve always wanted to teach yoga, but it has always been a safe dream, kept at a distance that I can say I’m aiming for, but never actually have to do. Now it’s a reality and it’s scaring the shit out of me. One of my favourite quotes comes from Jim Carrey(‘s dad?), and he said that you can fail at doing something you don’t love, so you might as well have a crack at doing something you do love. Roughly that. And it’s always stuck with me because it’s SO true! Why do we have this predetermined idea that the thing we really love doing can’t be career-worthy? Is it because those ‘dream-worthy’ jobs are always actor, singer, sports star? Those super hard-to-reach goals? People are reaching those goals all the time! And if they’re not quite there yet, I bet you they’re having a good time going for it.

 

I know we all have to make coin, and security is a really nice feeling, but is slumming it in an office a nice feeling? Does working for a board of loaded directors feel good? Look, maybe it does, and Go You if you’ve found a working environment that you love. You are living your dream and I envy you.

 

But if you feel like you’re failing at something you hate, maybe you should try working on something you love. You may also fail at that, but you’ll know you tried. You may succeed, and succeed tremendously, and oh my goodness what an incredible feeling that could be.

 

Watch this space.

Welcome

So Hi everyone!

Welcome!

 

This is the first of many blog posts to come, (every month actually), where you’ll get to read me rambling on about things I think I understand, but really don’t have a clue. Doesn’t that sound exciting!?

 

I promise to keep it real, (that’s the name of the game!) because I feel there is a HUGE lack of real-life yogis in the online community. (Minus Adriene who I love and worship). So expect to see me fall down and stuff up, a lot.

 

Yoga is on the list of my favourite things to do. The rest of that list looks like: drink wine, travel, hang out with my hairy ones (two dogs and one husband), watch live music, drink coffee, eat food, meet new people, avoid things that I don’t enjoy. I’ll try to keep this blog as yoga-focused as possible, but chances are good that some of the previously mentioned subjects will also come up.

 

I would love to hear your thoughts and feedback too, so feel free to drop me a line to say hi. I really hope to build up a community of Real Yogis that doesn’t purely consist of my mum. (Hi Mum).

 

Namastay Real.

 

Hanna.