Tag Archives: Yoga

I Choose Beauty

4 Jul

I have been using Louise Hay’s 2012 “I Can Do It” calendar every day this year and the daily messages in the calendar never fail to transform my day in a positive way.

Today’s message, for example, is as follows:

I am free to be who I want to be, living my life as I choose.

As I sat down to do my morning writing, all my thoughts revolved around this beautiful and enlightening message. The following words flowed from my pen:

I choose travel.

I choose learning.

I choose writing.

I choose nature.

I choose yoga.

I choose walks.

I choose loving relationships.

I choose honest friendships.

I choose simplicity.

I choose hard work.

I choose challenge.

I choose games.

Image rights: The Guardian:The Observer

I choose creativity.

I choose beauty.

I choose health.

I choose reading.

I choose flowers.

I choose quietness.

Image rights: Glitter and Pearls

I choose movement.

I choose dance.

I choose photography.

I choose contemplation.

I choose taking my time.

I choose music.

 

What do YOU choose?

Jazz and Collages

5 Feb

One of my favourite things to do on a winter evening is listen to jazz and make collages.

Collage

A recent collage

I started making collages two years ago, after my yoga teacher asked everyone in the class to “go home and make a mood board”. In fact, “our subconscious works with images”, she said “so it is more useful to look at an image of what we wish to bring into our lives, rather than to make a list of New Year’s resolutions, for example”.

In order to pick out images that relate to our subconscious, our yoga teacher gave us the following instructions:

1)      Set aside at least half an hour in your day for solely this activity.

2)      Create a calm atmosphere: light candles, put on relaxing music, dim the lights, take a few deep breaths, clear your mind.

3)      Have a selection of magazines and newspapers ready. It doesn’t matter what they are, as long as they have pictures in them!

4)      Flick through the magazines and cut out all images that you feel immediately attracted to. Don’t think about it – your ‘gut’ choice may be surprising or unexpected to your rational mind, but the important thing is to go with your gut feeling.

5)      Put all of the images together either into a frame that you can hang up in a visible place in your home, or into a large art notebook, to which you can add images regularly.

6)      Keep on looking out for images that seem meaningful to you – ask friends to give you their old magazines, pick up free newspapers and leaflets, take photos, print out images from the internet that you love. Keep on building up your mood board and make new ones when the older ones no longer seem relevant.

After having made our collages, my yoga classmates and I began discovering amazing things manifest themselves in our lives. A girl who had chosen an image of a horse walking on a beach was soon invited by a cousin to do horse-riding along the sea. I had made collages based around photos of the beach and nature, to find myself moving to the South of France half a year later.

Collages not only remind our subconscious of what we truly want, but they add a personal and warm touch to our homes. In my kitchen and my living room I have collages that reflect my desires. These carry so much more meaning for me than the artwork of an unknown (or famous) artist hanging on my wall, because they are something that my subconscious itself has chosen and created.

Collage

Kitchen Collage

I also have a large art book, to which I regularly add images from any magazines I can get my hands on. I choose a page in the book that I particularly like and put it on a visible place in my home. Looking at these images brings me a sense of peace and comfort.

 Collage

Another favourite from my book

Try it yourself: set aside half an hour this week to make a mood board. Follow the instructions above and keep your mood board in a visible place. Let your subconscious and the universe do the rest!

Happiness Project – Week 1

10 Nov

It’s been one week since the start of my happiness project. I am proud (and happy!) to say that I managed to do 9 of the 15 activities on my list:

1) (Go for a walk every day)

I went for a walk every day. However, some of these walks were simply to get from A to B, whereas others were evening walks specifically to calm down and clear the mind. I realised just what a positive effect the latter have on my state of mind and my ability to wind down at the end of the day.

2) (Wake up at the same time every day)

I started waking up earlier. Much earlier. So early that my working day was finished by 1pm. And this is thanks to the fact that I…

3) (Go to bed before midnight, or preferably at 11pm)

Went to bed before midnight. Once I even went to bed at 10pm! On other days I managed 11.30.

5) (Do some sport every day)

I did sport…but only three times in the week. I danced in my living room, blasting Britney Spears and Black Eyed Peas music (into my headphones). I felt like I shook out all of the negative energy that had been building up in me over the past few weeks. I also did one yoga practice and went to one dance class. It’s a good start, but I feel like I need more.

7) (Buy myself something pretty to wear)

I went to a special clothes sale where I bought myself some very nice skirts and dresses for a very nice price. I haven’t worn any of them yet (still in the wash!), but it feels nice to have renewed my wardrobe a bit.

10) (Go to a new place in the city every week)

I went to an art gallery, to which I had wanted to go for months. It’s only a fifteen minute walk away from my home, so it was about time that I finally got there! Although I didn’t find the exhibition particularly interesting, I enjoyed looking through the gallery catalogue and finding out about various artists and photographers. It made me want to take photos, draw and create.

11) (Try a new recipe every week)

Today I tried a new recipe for a healthy cake. Half of it is already eaten! I also revisited a recipe that I hadn’t done for over a year. It reminded me that I love cooking; I love giving myself a whole afternoon to make something, to create something that will bring happiness to the ones I love and to learn something new. My cooking sessions are also accompanied by music and singing; today I discovered two singers that will definitely go onto my playlist.

12) (Buy a juice making machine, and drink fresh fruit juice at least three times a week)

Although I did not buy a juice-making machine or make fresh fruit juice, I did eat fruit every day, which I haven’t done for a long while. I immediately felt, and tasted, the magic of natural vitamins. I could feel my body rejoicing in having received this healthy energy.

14) (Go to one new social event a week – alone)

I went to a singing class. I met friendly and open people, I had a lot of fun and I sang out loud on my own in front of a group of strangers! I was enjoying myself so much that I didn’t even care about being out of tune and off beat. The singing class filled me with loads of positive energy and I realised that music is a sort of meditation for me: while singing or playing an instrument I am so concentrated on my activity that I forget everything else. I lose track of time, my mind clears of all thoughts and I simply let go.

***

Aims for week 2:

-Do not make ‘other people’ and excuse for not doing any of the set activities on a given day – there is always a way to make time for the things we would like to do.

 -Meditate. What’s holding me back from doing sport, considering I used to do dance, aerobics, yoga and jogging regularly? Why do I feel guilty giving myself the opportunity to do something I enjoy? Why do I resist setting aside time to pamper myself? I know I want to sing and continue learning to play the guitar…so why do I not take the step to do so?

I leave you with an awesome song that I listened to quite a few times this week. I think you’ll understand why it’s part of my ‘happy’ playlist.

 

Week 2 of my Happiness Project starts now! (Oops, it’s already past my bedtime!).

Happiness Project

3 Nov

“I am not happy”, the thought that we all dread came to me earlier this week. I realised that I am no longer happy in the city to which I moved ten months ago, I am no longer happy with my lifestyle and I am no longer taking pleasure in my every day life.

I feel a loss of energy, a loss of interest and a loss of motivation. I don’t remember the last time that I sung in the shower. It’s been months since I blasted out my favourite music and danced alone in the living room. And don’t ask me what I look forward to when I wake up in the morning, because I simply don’t have an answer.

It’s tragic, it’s heart breaking, but most of all, it’s very confusing.

Figuring out why we are not happy is a very difficult thing. Figuring out what to do to make ourselves happy is even harder.

Even if we find out why we are not happy, there could be things about certain situations that we simply cannot change. We cannot always move away if we’re unhappy with the place in which we live, we cannot always leave our job if we know that it is making us stressed, we cannot always heal ourselves if we are unwell, we cannot change the people around us if they are bringing negativity into our lives.

So what can we do if we realise that we are unhappy?

For the moment, I am not going to leave my current city, I am not going to change my job and I am not (and cannot) transport my best friends to my city. All I can do is to change a few things in my every day life, which could give me energy, inspiration and joy.

My happiness project for the next month is as follows:

1) Go for a walk every day.

Promenade

2) Wake up at the same time every day (apart from Sundays, of course).

3) Go to bed before midnight, or preferably at 11pm.

4) Find a music teacher and practice the guitar every day.

girl guitarist

5) Read a fairytale.

6) Buy myself something pretty to wear.

7) Go to see a classical music concert.

8 ) Do some sport every day. Dancing, yoga, aerobics, jogging, stretching, walking with heavy shopping bags…

9) Do something that I am scared of (call to ask for a job opportunity, enter a competition, apply for a course, book a trip away, start writing a novel)

10) Go to one new social event a week – alone.

11) Write one story or poem a week.

12) Set an evening every week for personal pampering.  Beauty treatments, meditation, learning how to do a new hair style, taking a bath, listening to music with eyes closed…

13) Try a new recipe every week.

14) Buy a juice making machine, and drink fresh fruit juice at least three times a week.

15)  Go to a new place in the city every week.

16) Edit any of the above points if they start making me unhappy.

17) Create a blog-report on each week of the happiness-project.

 

My happiness project starts today – I have five minutes to get myself ready for bed in time for my curfew!

***

What activities would you put on your own happiness-project list?

Return to Yoga

7 Sep

“I haven’t done any exercise for five years”. I think of my friend’s words with horror as I practice yoga for the first time in two months. My muscles are tight, my joints creak and my limbs just refuse to bend into place. It’s clear that my body has not appreciated being abandoned during the summer.

My yoga journey between spring and summer was full of discoveries and disappointments. I experienced the joy of my first solo yoga practice, as well as the frustration of not being able to find a suitable yoga teacher. I tried half a dozen classes, but none of them gave me the feeling of peace and well-being that I treasured so much in my previous schools. I settled for a class with an experienced teacher who had trained in India. With her, I learnt perfect alignment, but I learnt this through harsh discipline and fear; she would raise her voice at our ‘mistakes’ and would rarely return a smile.

By her last class in July I was tired, frustrated and disconnected from my physical and spiritual states. I had lost all interest in yoga. I couldn’t even remember why I had enjoyed it in the first place. Did it once really make me feel good? Did it really have such an important role in my life all these years? I did not practice once in the two months that followed and even felt repelled when simply thinking about it.

However, yesterday, something shook me out of my slumber. After a whole day slouching and stressing in front of the computer I could feel my body yearning for just one thing. Without further thought, I rolled out my dusty yoga map onto the bedroom floor…and suddenly….I remembered!

I remembered how amazing it feels to S-T-R-E-T-C-H.

I remembered how satisfying it is to let your body tell you exactly what it needs.

I remembered how relaxing and refreshing it is to go with the flow of your breath.

I remembered how satisfying it is to heal your body with every pose.

It was the most natural thing to let myself be guided by my body; it knew more than my mind about my current state of health and spirit.  During that practice I needed no explanation for why I love yoga. In my mum’s words, “It’s not about how far you can stretch; it’s about how you feel in the stretch”. With new yoga classes starting this September, I will choose a teacher with whom I can connect on the spiritual level, and for the rest I will listen to my body for guidance.