April: Asteya

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Asteya has been a really interesting limb to focus on for me. It requires much more discernment than I’d had to use than with ahimsa or satya. I actually relied a lot on satya to point me in the right direction much of the time.

The third of the Yamas is Asteya which translates to non stealing. In my teacher training, my teacher explained it as not taking what is not earned or given to you. Of course this manifests in the physical realms- don’t steal objects from stores or people- but it also manifests in an energetic sense. This is the aspect I found most interesting this month. Not stealing people’s time & energy- not taking what isn’t mine and not letting others steal my time & energy.

ON THE MAT ASTEYA PRACTICE

I’ve been practicing asteya on my mat in two ways. The first is that I’m not trying to force myself to be on my mat at a certain time. I’ve allowed myself a freedom of time and space that doesn’t feel like yoga has been something to check off of my list. Of course- it depends where you are at in your life when t comes to this. If you have 4 kids running around and you have to schedule in your yoga time then this too is practicing asteya! This is where the discernment piece comes in. I found myself leaning to satya (if you haven’t read March’s limb satya, I’ll link it here) to figure out whether I was really having my time & energy ‘stolen’ by busing myself with something else or my thoughts. Trying to figure out the truth of the situation allowed me to see whether I was avoiding yoga practice or whether it was something I was using to avoid something else.

This became a back and forth of ‘I practice to support my best self’- practicing asteya on the mat meant I was able to arrive there entirely, without leaving part of myself with another task or person.

The second way I’ve been practicing it on the mat is within my thoughts. What am I giving my energy to? Is it necessary to be expending that thought or energy right now, during my sacred practice? The mind is very good at wandering. At squandering your sense of peace on things to keep it busy. I’ve been trying to not allow myself to slip into worry or fear while on my mat- in my ‘time’ for practice.

OFF THE MAT ASTEYA PRACTICE

Off the mat asteya tends to be a bit more difficult. I like to plan and I also like to wing it- but how can you ensure you are getting the most out of your time and other people’s time? I often wonder, am I taking up their time or do they have something else they’d rather/should be doing other than being here with me?

We are all so. busy. But how much of that ‘busy’ is just stolen energy or time, expended on things that don’t end up serving your purpose anyway?

I personally, end up sucking my own time where I don’t need to. This past month, the that students i’m tutoring were leaving on break. I compiled this worksheet document to keep them academically growing while they were away. I spent maybe an hour and a half on it. Do you think they completed it? No. There was no reason for me to put my energy into that- I ended up taking away my own energy, my own prana, on something I pretty well knew wasn’t going to be fruitful anyway. It was no one else’s fault and no one ‘sucked my time’- it was me. In the end, there are no time suckers or energy thieves-We make the choice to give what we give, to expend what we expend. We ultimately control how much we put out there, no one forces you to give up your energy (except maybe if you’re a mama or dad!!).

Practicing asteya off the mat simply means being in tune with what is yours to keep and yours to give.

Next month (MAY) is brahmacharya which translates to conservation or moderation(or more traditionally celibacy)- so it should be an interesting one!

xx

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PACK & PRACTICE: Travel Yoga Essentials

Being that I can fit most of my belongings into a carry on, I thought I would write a yoga essentials on the road post. Now I want to preface this by saying, you don’t need anything to be a yogi on the go. Nothing. None of these things i’m about to show are actually essential. All you need is a body to do yoga on the road. However, things can bring comfort and I know these few yoga related things that I have bring me an immense amount of comfort while being away!

On the Go Yoga Mat

travelessentMy numero uno. My ride or die. I love this yoga mat. I had been researching it for a while before buying and Santa ended up putting it under the tree for me (he/she always knows♥). Previously I owned a Jade Yoga mat- which I really liked- except for how *heavy* it was. Even walking to yoga class down the street was an exercise. It was GREAT for my home practice though!! Anyways- when I moved I ended up downsizing a lot and ended up with no mat.

This Manduka eKo Superlite Travel Yoga Mat is the best thing that ever happened to my yogi traveling butt. I can fold it up to fit in my purse, not even just my carry on but my purse. Its super thin and light but also super grippy. I can move into all aspects of my practice on it. I know you don’t need a mat to practice yoga- at all. But in a time where I feel like I don’t have a true ‘home’, it has really helped to have a little space that is constant & familiar. My mat is like my home- it’s where I come back to myself- and I’m so happy that Manduka made it possible for me to take this feeling of home with me wherever I go.

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Books & Yoga Journal

I brought a few books in physical copy that I simply can’t live without. Now warning, they aren’t tiny and they did make it so that my carry on suitcase was impossibly heavy. However, I made it through security alright and got help lifting it into the overhead bin so it al worked out in the end. They’re just too good to let go. BUT- if you have an ipad or tablet, it would probably be easier to buy them in digital copy. So much lighter.

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I’m loving ‘Teaching Yoga’ by Mark Stephens– while I’m not currently teaching yoga, I am always trying to plan home practices for myself and keep track of ones I love for someday when I will be teaching. This book has a great overview of asana and yoga theory that is wonderful to return back to over and over. ‘Ayurveda: The Science of Self Healing’ by Dr. Vasant Lad is also one of those books you can go back to over and over both for answers for yourself and for students. Health is on a spectrum and sometimes while traveling- finding balance is really hard. Sometimes looking to ayurveda is the answer for me on remember how to balance my body and mind.

Finally, my last essential book is my yoga practice journal.Everyday I practice and I write about it. Sometimes the practice isn’t asana. Sometimes its laying in bed and wondering what i’m doing in life and breathing. Sometimes its a hardcore vinyasa class that kicks my ass. Either way- having a journal to check in with how you are feeling creates a more stable container so you can figure out how to find balance. My journal is from Chapters and says ‘Well Behaved Women Rarely Make History”- to remind that feeling is in direct correlation with growth.

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Comfort and Cozy

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Being on the go can be exhausting. Coming back to the self more often than not, can help restore some energy. The moment I take off my shoes I put on my reading socks from Chapters. Meditation always goes better for me with warm toes. Why? I have no idea. Also, I bring a travel candle with me and my amethyst, rose quartz & selenite. I’m super smell oriented, so the candle helps bring me back to a space of calm and the crystals make it feel more like ‘my’ space (even though truly, we own no space).

Self Care

travelessent7Last but not least are my on the go self care items. Dry brushing is an Ayurvedic technique that stimulates the lymphatic system, boosts circulation, gets rid of dead skin cells, improves digestion….and the list goes on. I dry brush every time before I shower while the water heats up.  I may not adhere to all ayurvedic cleansing techniques (oil pulling every morning is hard when you can’t bring a big jar of coconut oil with you everywhere) but I do keep up with this. Its more-so just a shower prep for me where I can have a few extra moments to myself. For Christmas I got this cute little travel sized brush and while getting the middle of my back is tricky- it is quite a useful little tool.

Once I get in the shower, I use this Rituals shower oil to restore some moisture to my skin. I was wary of this at first when my mum had it- oil…is…oily. But this shower oil from rituals is like a body wash. Its not slick or slimy at all! I love the smell of Yogi Delight and bought one as soon as I got to Luxembourg. I’m completely hooked.

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Next are my on the go essential oils. The first, I got from my mum last Christmas and it is a mix of sandalwood & frankincense for grounding. I used it all throughout my yoga teacher training whenever I started to feel nervous or agitated- which was often –  and I still have plenty!! The mix is by Yogandha . My second blend a new one I got in the UK while shopping with my best friend at Neal’s Yard. It’s their Travel roller, a mix of bergamot, rosemary and clary sage to dispel fatigue and ease anxiety. I’m not an anxious traveler- except when it comes to ‘missing’ a train or flight. I arrive hours early because i’m so anxious that I will miss the transportation to wherever I’m headed. Traveling is a big financial investment which is where the anxiety crops up! This oil blend keeps me mellow-ish and ‘ready to roll’.  travelessent9

And of course…headbands to keep my hair outta my face.

Essential Pranayama for Travel

In yoga, the most essential part of well being is circulating your prana (engery) via the breath.  practice is something that is commonly overlooked as a yoga practice with all the beautiful posed bodies on instagram however, it is more than often, most important for keeping a balanced self while traveling. I practice two key pranayams while traveling:

3 part breath: CALM: with one hand on my stomach and one on my chest, I breathe in 3 parts. First, deep into the stomach, then into the lungs, then into the clavicle (if its accessible to me that day). Then, I let go in 3 parts- the clavicle, lungs and stomach. Its a wonderful breath to use to bring you back to the self and soothe anxiety. Take it slow and if safe, close the eyes.

Alternate nostril Breathing:BALANCE: This is not to be practiced for anyone who has frequent seizures. Breathing into the left nostril while the right is blocked by a finger and then switching the blockage to left and breathing out the right. This continues **slowly** back and forth until completing by breathing out the left nostril. Always take a few moments to return to natural breathing afterwards.

Essential Asana for Travel

Malasana: GROUNDING: Malasana is a super grounding pose. Especially if you keep your hands firmly planted on the earth. Traveling all the time can tend to make us a little ‘airy’. Remember to come back down to the ground every now and again.

Cat/Cow: BALANCING: Cat/ Cow has a beautiful way of restoring the natural curves of the spine and balancing the mind (as long as you flow with the breath!). Carrying purses, luaggage ect, your spine can go a little wonky. Keep it healthy- its the centre of your being!

Downward Dog: CIRCULATE: Inverting your heart above your head can reserve blood flow ensuring that parts of your body that may have been getting limited oxygenated blood flow get a little boost- like your brain! Sitting in a plane, train or automobile keeps blood flowing consistently in one way. Shake it up and reintroduce some life to your body!

Seated Spinal Twist: DETOX: Twisting rings out the abdominal organs- where some have cited the key to health is! Keep your gut happy by twisting out any toxins.

Go to new placesTry a new hobbyMeet new peopleAdopt a puppyEat healthy.png

Minimalism: The Art of Letting Go

For the past few weeks I have been downsizing. I don’t just mean letting a few old and broken things go, I mean I’ve taken a head first dive into minimalism. I’ve taken a 6 month job abroad to get some travel bug dreams actualized and some teaching under my belt. This new leap means however, that all my possessions and belongings that I have oh-so cherished and moved from now 3 homes (uni & 2 apartments) will very suddenly not have a home. As such, I’ve become quite a friend to pinterest, searching up minimalism ‘hacks’.

Let me tell you world, there are a lot of fabulous ideas out there on how to declutter your life, all of which terrified me. Of course I’m not letting go of everything. Some boxes and treasured pieces will find homes with some of my willing friends and family. However, the thought of throwing out that Billibong dress I bought 3 years ago for Easter dinner and never wore again-well it just makes my heart hurt a little.

Its got me thinking- what makes us so attached to these things? I started to build up categories of my attachment- and began to find that it helped me to let go. Looking at thing and knowing why I was attached to it, which category of my life it fit into, helped me figure out if it should be let go of or saved. This started to help me more than some of the pinterest hacks I had tried so I thought I would share!

1.The ‘Me’ Museum 

One of my biggest categories was for why I couldn’t let go was the ‘memory’ aspect. I have boxes of memory artifacts- movie tickets from 7 years ago, student cards, airplane tickets…you name it, I kept it. I even have double bubble gum wrappers (the jokes on them are hilarious, okay?). What stops me from letting go is this one though “what if I want to look back on this when I’m 80?”. First of all, who wants to look at gum wrappers when they’re 80? Second, I would hate to grow old and have my belongings become a museum of my life. I’d rather they show I lived, rather than show that I simply held on to everything. I’ve started letting some things go- its been a hard process but, if I keep my journals, who needs the artifacts, right?

Method of Minimizing: Is there a way I can combine all these artifacts into one artifact so I don’t lose out on the memory but I save the space? 

2. Moving Around The Furniture

Furniture has been another hard thing to minimizer. Why? Because of the cost. It has nothing to do with sentimentality. I’ve been taught from a young age that you use something until it has completed its purpose- you don’t throw away things that still function. Well, I have bookshelves and side tables and coffee carts that have not fulfilled their entire purpose and yet, I can’t just carry em’ across the pond with me.  The problem with furniture is that its not so easy to give away! Especially when you don’t own a car! I’ve been fighting to make peace with the fact that these perfectly useful (not matching in any sort of way) pieces of  furniture will be garbage. Reduced to firewood basically. What helps? Knowing that I will feel SO MUCH lighter when its all said and done. AND that when I come back, I will be able to start fresh. Most of my belongings are pre-used by my family members, which is why its all a bit mismatched. When I come back, I will have a clean starting ground!

Method of Minimizing: How good will starting fresh without this piece of furniture feel? ( the answer is gooooood)

3. Clothing, Books and Art- Oh My! 

This was the overwhelming part. I have so. much. stuff. So many articles of clothing. So many books. To let go of pieces in this category,  I had to move fast. I envisioned the black garbage bag to be something like a black hole- what goes in DOES NOT come back out. If there was even 0.001% of me that thought I could live without the object- in the bag it went. And this went on for.days. In fact- its still going on. I’ve filled countless bags with clothing and books and my old paintings that are of absolutely no monetary worth. I’ve donated some clothes, pawned some movies and given away some books to family & friends, but the stuff is still piling up. It is a constant checking in and letting go.

Method of Minimizing: As soon as there is the tiniest voice in your mind saying “I don’t use that” or “I haven’t touched/ worn that in ages” you must tackle the letting go of it. There is no doing it later- put it in the bag and watch it slip into a vortex that is not your own. 

 

“Its not that you should own nothing – its that nothing should own you” Its been a wonderful practice, this letting go of things. I’ve found that I’m okay with owning nothing and I’m okay with owning abundance- but there is a place in between where I am better than okay, I am happy!

xx

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Sunday Morning Peace: Creating Space For The Week

Good morning! Sunday mornings are sacred to me, as they are to many. They are the most peaceful time, a time to regroup – in more ways than one. Some attend church, some go garage sale-ing, some practice yoga and some simply sip their coffee a little bit slower. There is no two ways about it- Sundays are space makers. I went through my morning loving every second and thought I would share just a few ways I make space for myself on Sundays.


•Rise & Relax•

I woke up at 6:30 to Luna laying on me and asking for food. The very first place I shuffle to is my kitchen, always. I pour Luna some food and create my first bit of Sunday bliss- coffee. img_2928

img_2935With coffee in hand I usually call my mama and then catch up on reading blogs or social media.

•Creating Sacred Space•

After my (very long winded) coffee time, I start to begin my morning. Creating space I part of the routine. My yoga practice doesn’t quite feel complete without the proper space to do it in.

img_2948I’m extremely ‘scent’ oriented. Candles & incense just make me feel cozier. They create a peaceful & safe feeling. Creating peaceful space for myself always starts there. Then I roll out my (extremely cat fur drenched) yoga mat. I bought my Jade Yoga Mat last year and still love it- mostly because they come in an extra long size, and I am ‘extra long’. 🙂

img_2962img_2963Luna brings the love to the space. She sits and watches while I do all this, usually getting confused with the incense smoke or thinking that rolling out my mat is a game. Eventually though she eats breakfast and ends up falling asleep beside me. She’s never been much of a yoga cat- more a “I’ll nap while you move” cat.img_2976img_2978img_2982img_2965Theres my yoga heaven! Wires, records, Buddha, incense, yoga mat, kitten and all.

•Simple Morning Yoga•

My morning practice always involves a few simple poses put on repeat.

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Seated mediation & pranayama. Usually my pranayama is alternate nostril breathing.It balances my out and helps me feel a sense of calm alertness.

morningsequence2Seated Side Bends. Back and forth. Inhaling arms up, exhale over to one side. I do this on repeat for I don’t even know how many times. My sides are always tight and sore in the AM and this wakes me up perfectly.img_2898

Downward Dog to plank on repeat. Not only does have feet and hands on the earth help
with grounding, but transitioning between down dog and plank starts to heat up the body. Not too much- just enough.img_2897

Up dog or Cobra. My spine needs backbends, even though I fear them. These poses are stable and don’t put too much strain on my back muscles. They also get my chest open. Open those hearts in the am.

•A Little Bit of Fun•

In the mornings, after moving slow and taking it easy, I’ve been trying to incorporate a little bit of a fun sequence. Not challenging or out of my reach, but something I don’t practice normally and feels lighthearted. Today was a mini tree pose sequence! Remember if you are trying any of these poses at home, practice to your comfort level. No pain, no pain (as opposed to the ridiculous idea of ‘no pain,no gain’- who came up with that anyway? Pain is pain people!)

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 Start by slowly bringing your leg into tree pose on an exhale. I bring my foot into ‘levels’, starting at the ankle then lifting the foot to the shin, then the inner thigh. Safety Note! Do not (please do not) bring the foot to the knee!!! Your knee is not meant to bend sideways, so don’t give it any chance to! From here, let your arms ‘grow’ into your tree however you feel! 🙂 Congrats you are now a yoga tree.

Next I reach down and gently take my big toe between my fingers. If it is accessible to you, bring your foot parallel with your hip crease. Remember to flex the foot so as to not ‘bend’ the ankle in an unkind direction. No sickled feet for you dancers out there!  If this is uncomfortable, find your way-safely- back to your tree.

If the previous pose was stable and comfortable, on an exhale you can begin to fold forward. Give a slight bend to your standing knee and slowly hinge at the hips. I don’t get all the way because I simply don’t have enough room between my tummy, foot and hips! You’ll feel a great stretch in your standing ham string. To come out, bend the standing knee and slowly inhale up. If at any time you feel unstable- remember to slowly make your way out. No falling and knocking noggins on the floor! 

Create Something, Even If It Sucks

My difficulty with art was never that I didn’t enjoy it, I enjoy it immensely. My difficulty with art comes from a deep issue with patience and perfection. Nothing is ever good enough, fast enough.
I think this is a general issue we have as a society. We all want to be ‘good’, ‘amazing’, ‘best’. No one wants to take their time and be mediocre. We are taught in school to be exactly NOT this. Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

This year one of my resolutions was to lean myself more into the creativity I know I’ve always had but had been stuffing away to focus on more prioritized things like my degree and good grades. In high school, I let my creativity shine in many ways- art and writing mostly- however once university hit it all seemed to take a backseat because it never really ‘accomplished’ anything. For Christmas my best friend gave me Elizabeth Gilbert’s (one of my favourite authors by the way) BIG MAGIC. Creativity is not something to be snubbed as last on a list of things to do. It doesn’t even belong on the list of things to do. It is THE thing to do.

I’ve been using this affirmation “Today, Create something even if it sucks.” Processed with VSCO with e2 presetMuch of the time what stops me from creating is the idea that someone will say ‘WOW, why did you even attempt that, it SUCKS.’ This is some little audio track that plays in my head until I avoid the thing I actually wanted to bring into the world. This goes for art, writing, yoga, meditation and even posting on social media.

Well, I have an art space. And what I create in it may not be AMAZING- but I have a space for it and it is there that it is allowed to exist with no judgement. It is there that clutter lives on canvas and paper but not in my mind. I encourage you to make a space to create. A quiet, lonely corner with nothing in it brought to life by your creations. A writing station. An art space. A space for your photos. A space for your books. A place for you to dwell in creation for 10, 20 maybe 30 minutes a day, everyday- even if you think it sucks. Processed with VSCO with e1 preset