If you’ve got nothing worth saying…..

Over the past few weeks I’ve taken an unintended break from public writing, having had the feeling that I had nothing much to say. I have written lots in my journal but nothing that felt worthy of sharing but there was an underlying feeling that I should have something relevant to say or share with those that read, like I’d laid a foundation of expectation from others who were waiting for me to send my regular email or write a blog and that if I wasn’t writing something honest, thought provoking or meaningful people might think I couldn’t be bothered. I almost slipped into the realm of sharing something on social media just to maintain a presence, for who though exactly? Why did I need people to know I was still around, despite feeling like I had nothing to say? That was an ugly ego moment! It’s weird how social media pulls us into this odd world where we need to decipher what is real and what isn’t and make choices about who we want to connect with based on pretty pictures. Fluffy sounding quotes and aesthetically pleasing yoga pose pictures are not my thing so I decided to stay quiet and the reality is that those of you that do read what I share have been occupied with your own lives, rather than having the time to notice whether I had written anything or not! No-one other than me puts any kind of pressure on me so it was my choice to find myself getting caught in a loop of self-inflicted pressure and overwhelm, so I started to contemplate why I had managed to fall down this contradictory rabbit hole of wanting to have something to say but needing not to. The saying ‘if you’ve got nothing worth saying then don’t say anything at all’ is one that’s been with me for a very long time. It’s been very useful at times, certainly in helping me to stop and think before I speak in challenging situations, to question whether what I want to say is helpful or kind and it’s definitely gone a long way towards keeping ‘teacher babble’ in check by overcoming the need to fill every silent space with words when guiding people through their yoga practice. The flip side of living by such a mantra has seen me swallow my truth on more occasions than I wish to admit and saying something because I thought it was what someone wanted to hear, or to ‘crowd please’ when teaching. All of which have led to itchy & scratchy feelings of frustration and anger because I didn’t have the courage to say what I felt. As with everything this is work in progress but I am less inclined to swallow or sugar-coat my truth these days, having learned that sharing it isn’t anywhere near as scary as I used to imagine and that for as many people my truth doesn’t resonate with there will be just as many that do relate and might even find it helpful or reassuring in some way. Sharing innermost thoughts and feelings is exposing and brings with it a sense of vulnerability but if we all decided to keep everything in we wouldn’t be of much service to the world would we? There are so many ways to share, it can be deep and meaningful & touch the heart of another or it could be amusing and bring a smile to someone’s face. There is no right or wrong to connect with others & how we choose to communicate is a personal choice, it’s the ‘why’ that matters, not the ‘how’, isn’t it?

Breaking down barriers – March 2019

I ran (it was more of a plod!) my first half marathon last Sunday – typing those words and saying them out loud still feels quite surreal. I had been a keen casual jogger for several years but 10K was the furthest distance I had ever ran and the last time I did that was in 2016. My running efforts came to a standstill for most of 2017, when for several reasons I became so depleted I barely felt I could run for a bus. During that time I would never have believed that less than 2 years later I would manage 13.1 miles without stopping.
Around this time last year I developed a knee injury which meant that for most of 2018 between physio treatments my running efforts were fairly sporadic to say the least. Around September last year I was speaking to one of my mentors and found myself telling her that I would like to take part in a half marathon once my injury had healed. I couldn’t quite believe I was saying it, although I had always enjoyed running I had never believed that I had any long distance in me, believing that was something that other people did and saved for those who were good at running. That was the story I had continued to tell myself for many years, until that conversation when I was advised to listen to my heart, ask myself what I needed to do to prepare for a half marathon and start believing that this was an opportunity to awaken a new level of mastery within myself. My heart told me that with a healthy knee and positive attitude, along with supportive nutrition I absolutely had a half marathon in me and a new chapter was ready to be written.
In January this year I discovered that a friend of my cousin wanted to take part in the Bath Half Marathon but was keen to do it alongside someone. There was also an opportunity to raise funds for The Grand Appeal, a charity very close to my heart that my cousin has chosen to support following the sudden death of her 9 month old son in February 2018. There was no better reason to sign up, so with 8 weeks until race day our training began. Naomi (my cousin’s friend) and I live about 20 miles apart so we became virtual running buddies sending messages of support and encouragement to each other. It was great to have that support and someone to chat to when the training felt tough but we both felt honoured to be able to take part in memory of Baby Lance whilst raising money for such a great cause and it was that which kept me going on the days where I felt tired or the weather was awful. The generosity and kindness people shared before the race was incredible but I wasn’t quite prepared for the sights I would witness on race day. I found myself amongst a sea of people coming together to test themselves in the name of raising awareness and funds for so many wonderful causes. That in itself was inspiring, let alone the amount of different charities people were running for, some of which I’d never heard of – a reminder of all the great work that goes on in the world. There were people dressed as cows, some wearing head gear and wigs that looked almost impossible to keep on whilst running and a guy wearing a human-size rugby ball! One of the most inspiring sights was a man being pushed in his wheelchair by another guy who looked so happy and honoured to completing such a feat.
It was an overwhelming and emotional experience on many levels but most of all a reminder of how we really can break down our own barriers when we truly start to believe in ourselves.


Several events in the past few weeks have led me to contemplate what it means to trust. Trust who? Trust what? It’s very easy to say that we should ‘trust the process’ and that ‘everything happens for a reason’ because that feels impossible and those sentences seem so empty during tougher times. What I’m referring to here is having the ability to know what feels right in our heart and having the courage to let go of what doesn’t so that we can make space for what we are meant to be doing. I had fallen into battle between heart and head for many weeks about one of the events mentioned above, a class I had been teaching for some time that was no longer feeling right. There were so many reasons why I wanted to continue but more reasons why I knew I shouldn’t. I have a habit of sticking with things to ensure I’ve ‘given them my best shot’ for far longer than I really need to because I fall into the old trap of feeling that it’s my fault that something isn’t working and there must be more I can do to turn it around. I even knew I was doing this, I was witnessing my own battle and still couldn’t stop it! Another pattern of mine also appeared, which is to over-talk the situation as well over-think it, so my poor fiancé had to have the same conversation with me repeatedly! The bottom line was that I was clinging to something that wasn’t working, I needed to not only get out of my own way but also remove myself from the situation so that the person who was right for the job could step into it.
As helpful as it can be to talk things through with others sometimes it just isn’t necessary, particularly when you feel like a broken record because I was having the same conversation with myself in my journal as the one I was having aloud with my fiancé. It was all starting to get a bit boring!
When you think about it the concept of trust is only complicated by us, when we allow ourselves to be distracted by our own thoughts, patterns and habits, or the external world we can so easily fall into the doubt trap.
The message from my heart was quite clear, if you trust the natural unfolding of life there are an abundance of infinite possibilities awaiting. Within a week of walking away from what wasn’t working I had 2 offers of other work, both of which really excited me. A reassuring reminder that if we stay connected to our truth and act from that place we can’t go too far wrong.

The Subtle Power of Yin Yoga – Jan 2019

In November 2018 I was lucky enough to finally take part in a Yin Yoga Teacher Training.  I had spent a couple of years prior to this visiting studios to meet teachers and researching various yin yoga training courses but none of what was on offer had felt quite right so I stopped searching and inevitably a few months later the right training opportunity presented itself.  When I least expected it I received a recommendation for a Yin Yoga teacher who I’d not heard of before and wasn’t easy to check out as she was based in Canada, but after a small amount of online research I knew I had found the right training.  (There is a reason for me being particularly fussy about what training I undertake and why but that is a whole different blog of its own!)

Before deciding that I wanted to develop my understanding of what Yin Yoga was all about it had been on my radar for some time, although not in a huge way.  It certainly wasn’t part of my daily practice and I didn’t go to a regular Yin class but there seemed to be a persistent pull towards it and I would find myself reading about it and taking part in online classes, particularly if I was having a difficult time.  During one of those more challenging times a couple of years ago I managed to completely deplete myself physically and mentally, a situation that enforced some time off work and a re-evaluation of how I was living my life.  My regular running and yoga practices ground to a halt so my options for a daily practice were very gentle and slow movement and meditation, neither of which were particularly appealing at the time due to my overly busy state of mind!  However, I do believe that we’re given what we need when we need it so I went with those options and found myself once more drawn to Yin Yoga.  Having not done that much yin yoga and having minimal understanding of the practice at the time the appeal was what looked like getting your body into fairly comfortable positions and lying or sitting still for a few minutes in each position, how difficult could it be?!  Quite a few online yin videos later I realised that the practice wasn’t as easy as it looked (much like many other styles of yoga!) and my mind found it quite challenging to let go into the stillness of the practice.  Although it wasn’t easy there was something supportive about the practice and the stillness helped me to learn to sit with some truths that I had been avoiding, so without the ability or energy to keep running I sat with my stuff and the insights started to arrive about what needed to change.

This sounds very deep and I am not suggesting that Yin Yoga is to be saved for when you find yourself in a muddle or having a tough time etc.  It is a very nourishing and grounding, yet rejuvenating, practice that can be beneficial for anyone and this is what I experienced on my training.  I went along to the course trusting that I was in the right place at the right time and with very few expectations, other than to learn and absorb the knowledge I needed in order to share the practice with others.  I was also lucky enough to be at a point in my life where I felt at ease and peaceful and very ready to join up the dots between what I had experienced for myself and what is actually going on internally when we practice Yin Yoga.  We had the most incredible teacher (Angela Jervis-Read) who had the ability to impart knowledge in a way was easy to understand and digest in a short amount of time, which fortunately meant that the dots started to join up pretty quickly.  The days of training and evenings of homework flew by and I was driving home before I knew it, with a huge sense of responsibility to share this work with others.  I don’t believe that there is ever only one way of doing things and I am certainly not suggesting that Yin Yoga is the answer to everything but I wholeheartedly believe that it has something for everyone and it makes a great complementary practice to any other movement practice and is also a great tool when working one to one with people, which is why I’ve started incorporating it alongside my massage therapy work.

As usual I didn’t intend for the blog to be this long and after all this writing I still haven’t offered an explanation of how Yin Yoga works and what it actually does, so if you’re still reading here goes!……

It is a very inward style of yoga that brings an opportunity to connect more deeply with your inner landscape.  This is achieved with longer held poses and support for your body with the use of props such as blocks, bolsters, blankets and straps.

The idea of the longer holds is that they help to release fascia (connective tissue) that becomes stuck around our joints for many reasons, including poor posture, repetitive strain or injury.  When the fascia has become stuck it restricts our movement so releasing it helps to improve our mobility.  There is a myth around Yin Yoga that you ‘hang’ in your joints but the joints are actually always supported so there is no ‘hanging’ and the fascia releases slowly during the minutes you are in the pose.

Although fascia is similar to a web in the way it weaves through our whole body some of it does also follow certain pathways, known as fascial lines and theses line happen to correspond with some of the meridian lines, through which energy flows.  The meridian lines in yin yoga are those from Traditional Chinese Medicine, which relate to our internal organs and systems.  Therefore, when releasing the fascia we are also releasing blockages within our energy and enabling the pathways that it moves along to become clearer, which in turn helps to give our internal organs and systems a boost from the inside out.

So with the help of gravity and your body weight we are affecting our energy and physiology at the same time.  You would expect to feel sensation around the area that is being released but it is important to choose an appropriate edge with which to work because the sensation may become stronger as you stay in the pose.  It is important to point out that Yin Yoga is not a practice of endurance to see how long you can sustain an uncomfortable position or level of sensation, it is however a practice that requires patience, which is the meditative part of the practice and our ability to sit with ourselves when things might feel a little less than ideal or unfamiliar.

I absolutely haven’t side-lined my usual movement practices of yoga, running and cycling to just practice yin, (because I believe that daily movement is key to maintaining good health and wellbeing) but what I am grateful to have discovered is how the regular use of yin yoga alongside everything else I do has helped me to take better care of an old injury, as well improve my ability to meditate, which for someone with an inherently busy mind can never be a bad thing!


Anchoring into Autumn – Nov 2018

Typing this under artificial lighting with the curtains closed before 6pm is a certain reminder that we are now anchored firmly into autumn.  I have always appreciated the beautiful changing colours of autumn but as late September approached there was also an underlying dread of the colder air (being naturally lizard-like enjoying the feeling of warm sun on my skin!) and shorter days.  I had experienced a difficult and stressful time during the autumn many years ago so the transition into this time of year almost served as a reminder of those darker times and that association had sunken quite deeply into my psyche.  I believe being able to associate with tough times is a good thing as it can help us realise how far we have come but my connection to long nights and dark times had become fairly unhelpful once I started to realise that it was wasting a lot of my precious energy and time due to being pre-occupied with an old story.  The cooler winds and damp days also used to leave me feeling quite restless and ungrounded, which often led to a weakened immune system and another expectation of feeling under the weather at this time of year.

As you can tell the story was quite repetitive and boring, so it was time for another chapter to be written, which was one of embracing the longer evenings to spend time doing things I did less of during the summer months, such as reading more books, learning a new craft, painting/sketching, practising guitar or finding an interesting series to watch on TV, and of course lighting candles and having a long soak in the bath.  Self-care is a huge part of keeping myself healthy and well during autumn so the opportunity to spend more time with myself is one I now cherish, but as ever it’s something that is continual work in progress!  Just this week I realised that I’d been ignoring some sure signs that I needed to slow down and actually spend more time doing the things that nourish me, rather than just have the intention of doing so.  I was beginning to feel restless, tired and a little under the weather because I hadn’t planned my week very well and kept running out of time to do everything I had set myself to do, meaning my energy and thoughts had started to become scattered.  This is a huge anxiety trigger for me and my old story says that it’s safer to stay busy and run away from the unpleasant unsettled feelings of anxiety, but this time I decided to be grateful for the warning signs and stay put because with practice I’ve learnt that by doing so anxiety starts to lose its power very quickly, meaning I can become much more present to enjoy life, as well as the shift in the seasons.  For those of you that relate to what I’ve mentioned I have included below some tried and tested methods that have helped me to stay well, present and embrace all that is autumn:

  • Include grounding foods in diet, such as root vegetables, pulses and oats, think warming soups, pies, stews, porridge.
  • Reducing my intake of cold foods and drinks, replacing salad with soup, having more milky drinks and warm water.
  • I do still have cold showers because this is massively helpful in maintaining a healthy immune system (if you’re new to this I recommend starting by turning the temperature down at the end of your shower gradually for 30 seconds).
  • The cold showers are complemented with long warm baths at the end of the day, which I put in epsom salts, a few drops of lavender with a small amount of grapeseed oil (any carrier oil will do).
  • Feed your soul – do what you love to do, if you have a ‘summer thing’ find a ‘winter thing’ to replace it with, anything from painting, drawing, writing, music, reading, studying something new, have fun discovering what feeds your soul if you don’t already know!
  • Grounding activities – staying present whilst doing anything that helps to feel our connection with the earth…… really feeling your feet on the ground whilst you walk or your seat on the floor if you meditate.
  • Treating downtime as importantly as work and allocating space for it in my weekly schedule. This could be reading, enjoying the company of others, having a coffee, going for a walk, or simply just time to do nothing (in our society there seems to be a really weird guilty pleasure thing associated with time spent just ‘being’ doesn’t there?!  I discovered though that by liberating myself from what can feel like a competition to see who has the busiest life is one of the best things I’ve done for my wellbeing)
  • Finally and I would say a game changer for me (something else I’ve had to train myself to enjoy but has very much been worth it!) it simply lying down on the floor for 11 minutes (I’m not sure why 11 minutes feels like the magic number for me – I think because it’s long enough for me to reset without being too long to fall into a deep sleep and wake up with that groggy day time sleep feeling). Just lay down with no agenda, get as comfy as possible with blankets, cushions, bolsters, relaxing music, whatever you want and let your internal systems have an opportunity to rest and restore, this little gem never fails me!

If you have any tips to share with me please do and if you choose to try any of mine let me know how you get on.




Daily Devotion & Commotion – Sept 2018

In January of this year I discovered and started to work with a very lovely Kundalini Yoga teacher and after our first session together she gave me some suggestions of mediations I could incorporate in my daily practice. I felt the need to regain some balance in my life after a difficult time that had seen the return of some fairly debilitating anxiety. My daily practice needed a complete re-boot and the mediation I selected is said to be one of the most important in the Kundalini Yoga tradition, as it helps to balance the energy in the body and bring mental calm, as well as being a powerful spiritual cleanser and helpful for breaking habits. The meditation did come with a warning that ‘you may go through a lot as you will be releasing a lot’. That sentence in itself brought up some fairly big resistance as I felt like I’d been through enough already but there was clearly some ‘stuff’ embedded in my psyche that needed to go and as I’d found myself in the grip of some very old habits that had contributed to the anxiety I decided that I had nothing to lose! The meditation is called Kirtan Kriya and you choose whether you practice it for 11 or 31 minutes every day. The meditation includes a mantra which you chant aloud, in a whisper and silently for a set number of minutes within the overall time and you do this whilst using different mudras (hand positions). So I set my intention to practice the meditation for 11 minutes a day for 40 days straight, which is said to ‘break any negative habits that block you from the expansion possible through the kriya or mantra’.
Having started well and not missed a day for the first week or so I then fell at the first hurdle by missing a couple of days, this in itself brought up one of my longstanding habits of feeling like a failure, thinking that I must be fundamentally flawed with a lack of willpower because I hadn’t stuck to it, blah, blah, blah. So I switched away from that boring repetitive channel in my mind and started again, this time getting a few weeks in before even realising I had been doing it for a few weeks. Between day 1 and 40 I experienced some vivid and slightly strange dreams, had some days when odd/old thoughts came to the surface, these being the points in the process when the monster that is resistance reared its very large ugly head. There were several days when I genuinely did run out of time to fit the meditation into my daily morning practice, leading to a few occasions of being reminded that it wasn’t time to fall asleep at night just yet, promptly followed by a leap out of bed and sitting on the floor to complete that day’s meditation.
When I reached the 40th day I didn’t feel ready to stop so decided to carry on to 90 days. Practising for 90 consecutive days is said to ‘establish a new habit in your conscious and subconscious minds based on the effect of the kriya or mantra. It will change you in a very deep way’. This was alluring and challenging in equal measure! I can’t remember at which point in the process I realised that I was no longer ‘needing’ to drink coffee every day, this certainly wasn’t a habit I had intended to break but was no bad thing. After day 90 I stopped counting and decided to just continue until it felt right to stop. 200 days after I started marked the end of my relationship with Kirtan Kriya, it felt like it had worked its magic, my perspective, as well as the anxiety, had shifted and I felt mentally stronger than I had in a while. It really did help to shift some very old garbage from my subconscious mind, I know this not only because of the random thoughts and weird dreams but because I had many insights into how and why I had developed many of my habits over the years, much of which was to do with dealing with an underlying feeling of anxiety and fear that I could find no explanation for. Some of the beliefs that felt so ingrained as ‘mine’ were actually those that I had taken on from others as my own. I felt I knew myself pretty well before this undertaking but the challenge helped to peel away a few more layers to reveal a bit more of me that I hadn’t seen before.
I was also practising physical kriyas and breathing techniques alongside Kirtan Kriya so I cannot attribute everything I experienced to it but it was a certainly a huge contributory factor to some re-wiring of my brain!
I would be so interested to hear from anyone else that has used this or any other meditation for a sustained period of time so please share your experiences!