The Hard and Soft of Yoga

Many of my great teachers have told me that if you have a connection to yoga in your current life, you were probably a yogi in a former life and are simply continuing on your journey. I was certainly a yogini in a former life but there are some parts of my yogic journey I haven’t quite reconciled with yet and who knows for how many life times I have carried them given their depth. This is a difficult post and one of honesty and confusion. 

Firstly, this is by no means a post bashing yoga or any of the teachers I’ve had, yoga is quite simply my love and passion and I believe in the science of yoga with my whole heart. As I have previously written yoga has had a profound effect on my life and although, I have always been quite interested in health and well-being various stints of vegetarianism and a slight herbal tea obsession. Yoga was a natural progression from my love of dance although, I understand they are fundamentally different, dancers are often used to being ‘in’ their bodies, I found a sense of familiarity with my classical dance training and this is possibly the root of where my practices of self-loathing began.

My life was quickly revolutionised by yoga, I was aware of my health, mind and body. To begin with I cried a lot with yoga; during class, after class, practicing at home I know that the crying yogi isn’t an unusual phenomenon especially someone like me who naturally sensitive and empathetic- I cry often anyway. (my mother says she will title her memoir I had a daughter who wept) 

Here in lies the problem; yogi’s are held in such high regard- disciplined, calm, navigating and negotiating problems with a rational poise and ease or not having any attachment to the problem to begin with. Right? So when I’m melting down, screaming at my husband or reaching for a bottle of wine at the end of a hard day am I still a yogi? When I don’t have the discipline to roll out my mat two days in a row? Or feel as though I would trade my first born for some hot chips? Often, I find I berate myself planting seeds of hate of how I think I should be behaving, eating, speaking, practicing yoga and dealing with problems.

Awareness and mindfulness are one thing, self destruction is something completely different and I feel that my evolution is teetering on the edge of self-destruction.  I spoke of my sensitivity, yoga makes us more sensitive not only on a physical level, but, we tune into our bodies, mind and energies with a different clarity. I have read articles on how yoga isn’t for everyone as it increases this sensitivity (although, I’d still say yoga is for everyone 🙂 ) . 

These seeds of hate increasingly, make me lose the ability to see the times I roll out my mat, the wonderful nourishing things I do for my body and mind everyday. I often hear my friends saying horrible things about themselves and I wince at the harshness. I often say “would you speak to a child like that?” or “would you say that to Buddha?” But, my internal dialogue spits harshness and hatefulness in varying degrees to me everyday.

My yoga practice allows me to identify with the child inside me and hate it at the same time and then judge myself for doing it. The hard and soft of yoga. Yoga teaches us to not judge, yet i have become an extremist at self-judgement, the scariest part is I have become so good at explaining, or even ‘preaching’ a message of the importance of self-love and acceptance to others. 

Lately, I have had a few headaches which is very uncommon for me and pain in my left jaw joint, it is sensitive to the touch and substantially worse when I’m self-loathing. This is tension caused through the hate I feel about myself I hold my mouth hard, often biting the inside of my mouth until it bleeds and then I get angry at myself for doing it!

This is a physical response and a great example of how negativity impacts us physically. A bad thought is not dissimilar to slapping yourself in the face or periodically holding your finger over a naked flame. While physical self- harm seems outrageous to me, it is exactly what I am practicing and it certainly has no place in my yoga practice or life. 

So how do I fix this? Practice self-love? 

Sounds easier than I think it is but, today I start. I start celebrating the small stuff and letting go of my own harsh expectations. I will begin melting the hate and finding the love. If you identify with anything I have written I urge you to do the same thing. 

 

With namaste and love

xxxxx

 

 

Skin Deep…

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I love that being healthy is becoming trendy, I hate seeing people all over social media longing for ‘thigh gaps’ ‘box gaps’ and bony collar bones. Sure, we have been conditioned to think that super skinny is the epitome of beauty but to be honest, I think that the epitome of beauty is health. I see so many shapes and sizes in yoga classes and the thing is, I think everyone is beautiful. Big bellies are lovely, bony hips are gorgeous, wrinkles are sweet, pimples nice because they are but also because when I see people doing yoga they are doing something wonderful for themselves and I think think health and self care is really sexy!

If you ever see someone after a yoga class they are positively radiant. My husband met me for a date after class last night and exclaimed how beautiful I looked. It had been an incredibly humid day I had hair to rival Diana Ross, I was sweaty, stinky and lacking my usual face of make up- but I had my yoga glow. 

Which had me thinking about beauty last night or more so commercial beauty products, in our Western culture we spend so much time cleaning and grooming our exterior, how often do you think about how clean your insides are? We use lotions, creams, make up, things to mask our scent, I admit 100%, this includes me too. Do you ever think about what these products are made of, or what happens when you put them on your skin? We know that our skin is our largest organ, everything we put on our skin is absorbed into our bodies- what happens then? 

I am writing this post to share some of the information that I have come across about commercial beauty and personal care products and three of the biggest nasties.

There is so much information about diet and nutrition out there but these creams, make up etc. too go into our bodies too if you had to eat your deodorant I’d bet you’d like to know what it was made from. This post I hope, is a thought provoker for you if these are things you hadn’t really considered. I am what i consider a girly girl in that I like to wear make up and so on and I’ve learnt there is a safer way to do this that is just as luxurious. 

First nasty up, parabens, parabens are a group of chemicals that are mainly found in cosmetics and personal care products such as shampoo, creams, lotions, face wash, shower gels, soaps etc. They exist to extend the shelf life of these products and stop the growth of microbes it is important to understand what happens when these are absorbed  through our skin into our bodies. The greatest concern with Parabens is they mimic the hormone estrogen leading to hormonal disruption, fertility issues, immune dysfunction, skin irritation but worse and most distinctly, breast cancer. In fact, a 2004 UK study found traces of five different parabens in breast cancer tumors in 19 out of 20 women studied.(Darbre PD, Aljarrah A, Miller WR, Coldham NG, Sauer MJ, Pope GS (2004). Concentrations of parabens in human breast tumors. Journal of Applied Toxicology 24:5-13.) 

Meaning that Parabens are absorbed into the skin where they stay and become toxic, scary right? Even more scary Parabens are found in just about every adult urine sample in the Western world. There is lots of information on parabens on the internet but looking at your personal care products ingredients; you can see them listed they end in ‘paraben’ for example; methylparaben, proplyparaben etc. 

There are many different products available that are completely paraben free, as i don’t have a lot of money to spend on cosmetics I use an inexpensive brand available at health food shops and some chemists called Nature’s Quest a face wash or moisturiser are around $10 each and to give myself a feeling of luxury I mix a couple drops of cold pressed coconut oil to my face wash and a couple of drops of rose hip oil to my moisturiser. Using a cold pressed oil as body lotion is an excellent way to go and a wonderful way for your body to absorb the nutrition in the oils my favourites are; coconut, almond and the King of oils sesame, be sure they are cold pressed otherwise they run the risk of being rancid and they lack nutrition. We all use toothpaste, parabens and other nasties are often found in toothpaste a good herbal, mineral and flouride free toothpaste is the way to go, I like Red Seal herbal and mineral toothpaste. There is an ongoing debate whether flouride is necessary in dental hygiene, what we know is flouride is a by product of aluminium, iron and copper. Flouride assists the body in the absorption of aluminium, which can be incredibly detrimental to our health, aluminium is what is found in the brain of Alzheimers patients. Excessive flouride has a detrimental effect on our musculoskeletal and nervous system. Various studies have linked flouride to 10,000 cancer deaths each year. Flouride is necessary for strong teeth, yes, but it is also naturally occurring in small amounts in plants, animals and natural water sources and it is thought we receive enough through our diet for dental health.  Deodorant is also rife with parabens and aluminium as we put deodorant so close to our breast tissue and lymph glands I like to err on the side of caution when it comes to my pits and use an aluminium, paraben free one. There are strong links with aluminium and prostate cancer too, so men be warned, it’s not just breast cancer!

I know not strictly about yoga but it is the self love that yoga has given me that has made me interested in all areas of my health and well being. Before I began yoga I was familiar with words such as parabens, flouride and aluminium but I didn’t care to know. Our planet and lifestyles can be incredibly toxic, if you can implement easy changes that can have a profound effect on your future…..why not?

As always, please feel free to email me at lotushealth@me.com if you have any questions, if I don’t know the answer, i’ll try to find out for you!

 

Namaste

xxxx