How Non-Attachment improved (and became) my Yoga Practice

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As many of you know, I am leaving for India in only 3 days and won’t be back until just before Christmas. Whilst I have been super excited to travel I have discovered in the last 2 weeks, through preparing for my travels that I am suffering from some severe cases of attachment! Attachment to my practice, attachment to my classes and mostly, a huge attachment to Yoga Village.

According to the Yoga Sutras, Practice (abhyasa) and non-attachment (vairagya) are the two core principles on which the entire system of Yoga rests. But what happens when we grow so attached to our practice that we can’t step away from it?

Over the last couple of weeks I have had some niggles in my knees; there wasn’t a particular pose or fall that set it off; dealing with the stress of leaving my baby (Yoga Village) for the first time since she was born had begun to present itself to me through physical injury.  It was then that I started to see the huge attachment that I have to the practice of yoga asana and therefore stepping back from my practice in order to allow my knees to rest has been an interesting process for me to go through.

I had already tried to hold back in poses that aggravated the problem further and it helped a little but I could see that two days off the mat was what was needed to complete the recovery. There was one major problem though; the concept of not practicing brought up all sorts of fears and questions for me. My thought trail went something like this ‘what if my practice goes downhill?’, ‘what if this means I won’t be as strong when I get to India?’, ‘Will my teacher think I am not committed?’ One of my friends, Kylie, bore the brunt of this mild yoga separation and told me, simply put that I had to just 'let it go'. It was then that I realised that for me, in this instance the mere act of stepping away from the mat in order to be mindful of what my body needed was to be my practice for a few days. Trusting in the universe and stepping away was incredible difficult but in actual fact it was exactly what I needed. I was surprised to find that this practice was just as much physical as it was mental, as my body longed to stretch, twist and tangle itself in to knots, my mind had to disciplinary. And it worked, within 2 days my pain had reduced so significantly that along with a modified practice it completely healed within the week. When I first stepped back on the mat it was difficult and I didn’t feel as strong,, after a few days my practice was back to normal and all was forgotten!

This became most significant when I began to apply the idea of letting go to some other areas in my life. Stepping away from my email was a big one. I had intended to be doing lots of email checking and running the business remotely whilst in India, even though Jess and some of the other teachers had offered to help out. I knew they were more than capable of keeping it going and the problem most certainly wasn't them; it was me. One by one I started to let go of things and therefore created the space in my life to be completely ready and relaxed when I arrive in India and it feels truly liberating!

What do you need to let go of?

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How to Get Glowing Yogi Skin

Now that we are half way through Spring, your body is busy working its way through the natural detoxification process that occurs after winter to help bring your body in to optimum health and shape for the upcoming summer. There are many things that we can do to help our bodies along with that process, after which your body should thank you by rejuvenating your skin, hair and energy levels. See below to find out more about how to get that Yoga Glow.

Getting the Gleam

As many of you know Yoga is extremely detoxing. By going upside down in poses such as Downward Dog and Headstand (which, by the way, is said to be the best pose for reversing the signs of aging!) we encourage blood flow to the face. This blood flow increases oxygen and other minerals to the skin which encourages rejuvenation, as well as rosier cheeks and general glow. Twists and backbends place pressure and stretch various organs which again encourage blood flow to flush the toxins out of them. An increased heart rate in poses such as Warrior and Chair Pose encourages sweat which is one of the body’s natural ways of eliminating toxins. Check out my Spring Detox sequence.

H2O and Glow, glow, glow!

The toxins that are released from the organs during your yoga practice are then released straight in to the blood stream so make sure you are taking the right steps to flush them out of your system after yoga. To do this drink a big glass of water before you come to class and then straight after class do the same. You’ve probably heard it a million times but by drinking water we are flushing the system and allowing the body to clean itself. Not only that, but after class your muscles will need some hydration so drinking a coffee or glass of vino straight away will only dehydrate them further.

Lunching to Luminosity

Certain foods have a particularly good effect on your skin and will help you build your glow. Here are my some of my favourites. Cabbage is low in calories, high in antioxidants, and has around 60% more vitamin C than oranges. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that slows the rate of free-radical damage -- free radicals are unstable molecules that damage collagen and cause skin dryness, fine lines and wrinkles. Check out a great cabbage recipe which is perfect for Spring.

Avocado is not only wonderful for your skin when eaten but can also be applied directly to the skin as a mask to help it gain moisture and collagen. The green fruit is packed with nutrients, including protein, beta carotene, potassium, folic acid, B vitamins, Vitamin E, Vitamin K and magnesium. Like cabbage the antioxidants in avocados protect skin from the aging effects of free radicals. Vitamin E helps protect the skin against ultraviolet radiation from the sun, as well as environmental pollutants. Avocados also have healthy fats, or monounsaturated fats, which lower cholesterol and help skin stay moisturized, protecting against fine lines and wrinkles. The oil in avocado also sparks the skin's production of collagen, a substance that helps skin maintain its elasticity and youth. Bring on the guacamole!

Berries – what’s not to like here? Berries are powerful allies for the skin. Berries are packed with antioxidants and are high in Vitamin C, which help protect the skin from the harmful effects of the sun. When choosing berries, pick darkly colored ones, as they provide more vitamins and nutrients than the lighter berries. Blueberries are doubly helpful to the skin as they offer anti-inflammatory substances, which help keep your complexion clear and free of fine lines.

Harness your Happiness

One of the amazing things about teaching yoga is that after each class I get to see a room full of happy faces and in my opinion a smile is the most beautiful thing anyone can have. There is almost no way that you can’t feel happy or content after yoga, but what’s the point in feeling that way if as soon as you step outside and get in your car you are honking the people around you or yelling at your partner again. Try to maintain the essence of your yoga practice in your dealings with everything and everyone around you; you'll find that your entire outlook will change – also changing people’s perception and behaviour towards you. Give the gift of a smile to someone and they will always associate you with that smile.

Salute Your Skin

This Saturday at Darlinghurst's Yoga Village we are holding a yoga workshop called ‘Salute Your Skin’ which will involve a hands on session on finding and maintaining the yoga glow, naturally. I will be running a fun and playful yoga class, that will involve asana, breathing, facial and laughter yoga and Yasemin Trollope (a happiness, health and natural beauty expert) will be and teaching us how to give ourselves facial massages, use pressure points on the face that activate skin renewal, create masks out of normal household ingredients and how to use natural beauty products. We have goody bags to give to each participant that are now valued at over $100 so the workshop pays for itself in products alone. We have three spaces left so follow the link to reserve your place in the class. Get Glowing Yogi's!

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