Yoga

I love yoga! Everybody should try it, and the great thing is, almost everybody can, it’s not a hard to learn sport, there is a type of yoga for everybody (and every body).

For a very long time I thought that yoga was to New Agy for me, until I met a very special lady in my Capoeira class who happened to be a yoga instructor. She invited me to join her weekly yoga class, on the Caribbean beach and Jacuzzi afterwards, who can say no to that? I discovered that yoga is a very relaxed way of exercising your body and your mind. I started yoga over a year ago and I am still discovering and learning a lot about yoga and its benefits but I can truly say it has helped me a lot on my journey to create change in my life by giving me a way to relax and think things over, a quiet and peaceful place to retreat when the world is too stressful and intense.

If you have never done yoga before it is best to see if there is a yoga class near you where you could take a look and join for a try. There are many forms of yoga and many ways to teach it. I was lucky that I met a great teacher who teaches a form of yoga that really fits with me which is Hatha Yoga.

Now my teacher left the island so no more weekly classes, luckily I had enough practice to do a little routine at home, but I also looked on the internet to find some nice yoga videos and to try some new techniques. I do a few basic moves every morning and night just to stretch my muscles and loosen my joints.

If you were interested in starting with yoga I would advise you to look around on the Internet and do a little research about what form of yoga you would like to learn. You can also start to practice at home using the instruction videos you can find on youtube. I made a little list (using Wikipedia) of the different types of yoga, you can use these names to find more information and online videos to start practicing or just to inform yourself about what is out there.

For me personally yoga is about tranquilizing your mind and exercising your body. You do this by controlling your breath and making sure you breath deep into your belly in stead of superficially. You go trough a series of movements while you align you breath with the movement. For example when you stand and raise your hands you breath in and when you lower your hands you breath out. Everything has to do with energy flows. I have tried a few forms of yoga, some focus on flowing movements that help you become more agile and in control of your body and other focus on holding postures for a longer while and help you build strength and some focus on breathing, breathing techniques and meditation, in the end all types of yoga will help you relax your body and your mind.

Hatha  Yoga -> Hatha yoga attempts to balance mind and body via physical postures or “asanas”, purification practices, controlled breathing, and the calming of the mind through relaxation and meditation.

Ashtanga vinyāsa Yoga -> The term vinyāsa refers to the alignment of movement and breath, a method which turns static asanas into a dynamic flow. A practice will comprise four main parts: an “opening sequence,” one of the six main “series”, a back-bending sequence, and a set of inverted asanas, referred to as the “finishing sequence.”

Kundalini Yoga -> Kundalini is the term for “a spiritual energy or life force located at the base of the spine”. The majority of the physical postures focus on navel activity, activity of the spine, and selective pressurization of body points and meridians. Breath work and the application of bhandas (3 yogic locks) aid to release, direct and control the flow of Kundalini energy from the lower centers to the higher energetic centers.

Restorative Yoga -> In restorative yoga, props are used for support the body so that you can hold poses for longer, allowing you to open your body through passive stretching. The postures are usually adapted from supine or seated yoga poses with the addition of blocks, bolsters, and blankets to eliminate unnecessary straining.

Yin Yoga -> Yin Yoga is a slow-paced style of yoga with postures or asanas that are held for comparatively long periods of time–five minutes or longer per pose is typical.

There are many more forms and types of yoga, many are based on the Hatha yoga style. If you are a beginner I would advise to start with Hatha yoga because it will teach you many of the moves that are used in other types of yoga as well. Because you hold the postures for a little while with the Hatha practise you get a change to study the postures in perfect them before trying our a more flowing type of yoga. Again it is best to start at a yoga centre or at a gym because it is really nice to have someone present who can explain the postures and show you how to do them the right way.

I found a great site that has a very rich collection of information about different yoga styles in case you would like to investigate: http://yoga.about.com/od/typesofyoga/u/yogastyles.htm#s4

Enjoy and relax with yoga!

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Crap

Sometimes some days just start out wrong and it seems like everything is going, well what other way to say it then, crap, everything is crap.

Getting into work this morning there are loads of requests for my boss but he is not in yet and I have no idea when he will be there. When he finally gets there I find out that he took the rental car, which he had to hand in on Friday, and he kept it over the weekend. This means any hassle with the rental company is now my problem.

As soon as he gets in the phone starts ringing with angry customers who claim I said I would call them on Friday and I didn’t. I never made any such promise.

And then the cherry on top is that I have been trying to call my love all morning because he told me he had to get up early, so I raced home just before my boss arrived because I was afraid he was sleeping and he would miss an important job meeting but no the Prince is laying in bed urging me not to make so much noise because he was just waking up. Turns out his appointment was cancelled. Ohw yes and I hurt my big toe yesterday, severed half my toenail, blood and all… I said it Crap!

I was not going to write about any of this today; I had other plans for my blog. To write about my great weekend or my new plan about eating less chocolate.  But no today I have to write all this down to try and maybe get it out of my system. I’m still at a point where I think I should have stayed in bed. And it is Monday, I still have a whole week ahead and I am not looking forward to it.

So what now?

I don’t want to be in my current “everything is crap and the whole week will suck” mood.

How to get myself in a happier mood?

I started out with drinking one large glass of water, it may just be mental but I try and imagine the cool water cool down my anger and try and feel it flowing trough my whole body and cool me down.

Then I started out with the simple but urgent things I had to do for my job, It does not help my mood but once they are done I do feel a little bit more at ease.

I made a cup of ginger infusion for myself, I’m not sure it will improve my mood but my “better diet plan” for this week did include drinking ginger everyday so I will try and do that however bad I feel.

Then I sat down at my desk, started writing all this down while listening to one of my favorite heavy metal songs. There was a period in my life when all I would listen was heavy metal. I haven’t touched that playlist for a long while but today is a special day. Normally I listen to reggae, classic rock, techno or drum n bass. But as I said today a little bit of heavy metal will definitely pump my spirits. Its weird but I guess everybody has their own type of music for certain moods. It’s good to know what type of music makes you feel in what way. Here is my grumpy mood playlist:

Children of Bodom – Bodom After Midnight
(this is a band from the Far North, I’m guessing Finland, I particularly like this song, Im not sure about the lyrics but I just feel all my anger releasing when i listen)
Sepultura – Ratamahatta
(Sepultura, it’s a classic, from Brasil, I love this song, in Portuguese with its typical Brasilian drum beats, great video as well)
Iron Maiden – Fear of the Dark
(Iron Maiden, the classic of classic metal, always a mood improver)

Finally I will start with my 5-HTP capsules again. I stumbled upon them a few months ago; my love had them in his cabinet. He never used them. I read that they would help with sleep and at that time it would always take me a while to fall asleep so I tried them and was quite happy about it. I take them on and of, one week yes two weeks not. They help me sleep and they improve my mood.

5-HTP is a chemical compound that is naturally produced in your body. It makes serotonin, an important hormone for regulating your mood. 5-HTP is also available as a natural dietary supplement, for use as an antidepressant, appetite suppressant, and sleep aid. I buy it in capsules in my local health shop, its made from the seeds of a African plant (Griffonia simplicifolia). Dr. Oz can explain it a lot better: http://blog.doctoroz.com/is-this-right-for-you/5-htp-is-this-right-for-you

So I’m trough my playlist, I wrote down everything that bothered me and what I will do about it, and finished my tea so in conclusion I can tell you that I do actually feel better, less agitated and I’m sure I will kick ass this week.

Now that that is settled I will tell you about what I want to do this week. My love and I have a lot of stuff we have to organize, work wise and home wise and planning wise. So I will try and get everything organized and make a week planning.

For my own account I feel I have overdone it on the chocolate last week, I got a lot of zits to tell for it. And all this while I only ate dark chocolate! So this week I will try to eat less sugar and candy. I will drink a cup of ginger infusion everyday. There is so much food that is good for you (and so much more that is bad for you). But Ginger is really good for you, I really feel it helps cleanse my body.  So that is Ginger infusion for the daytime and a nice red bush infusion before bed. And as mentioned I will try and keep the chocolate and coffee to a low level this week.

I’m switching to a little bit of nice relax summer music

Hace Calor – Los Rodriguez
(it’s a really funny song, the Spanish sesame street made a version of it as well, hace calor means, it’s hot, it’s about summer and love, happy times)
Fito y Fitipaldis – La casa por el tejado
(another great Spanish song, it’s about life and love)

Ready to kick-ass! Not everything is perfect and nothing ever goes as planned, but I’m feeling up to the challenge. Have a great week everybody, Ill be back on Wednesday.

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Do not take it personally

One of the best discoveries I have made during my journey to change some of my own ways was this:

To not take it personally.

It sounds really easy, and it should be. But it is not. I have always known I am crap at communication, however it took me a really long time to realize that this was problem.

While at work I always try to think before I speak, I never take things personally and I never had any kind of issue with anyone. I guess this was because I would disassociate myself and as soon as I got into work I would step into my “office role”.

In my personal life, especially in my relationship this was different story. I felt that my home, the place I shared with my love was the only place in the world where I could be myself all the time, and for me that meant that I had to be able to do what I wanted at any time and everybody else had to deal with that. If anyone would try and talk to me about do things differently I would feel attacked and I would enter defense mode. Not a pretty place to be.

So after a few therapy sessions, our therapist and my love where able to inform me that I was not always right and that I could be a real mean pain in the ass. I kind of knew that already but I thought it was my right to defend myself. The thing is if someone loves you, you should try and accept that they are not trying to attack you. Probably they are just trying to talk about something that they would like you to do or change.

Feeling inspired by this knew realization that my attitude and my communication skills where the problem I decided to do some research. I got a flyer from my therapist about how to communicate without fighting and I Googled a few of the things she mentioned. I found this great book “non-violent communication” by Marshal Rosenberg. Basically it teaches you that you should try to listen with empathy while communication with others, for one part (I will get back later to the other part of you communicating clearly). It is not easy to apply this all day every day in everyday life because you have a lot of stuff that is embedded in your mind and it takes a lot of practice to change your ways but it does really improve everything if you try.

Actually I still have a long way ahead of me and I think I have to re-read the book a few times but for me the most practical point I got for this book is to not take stuff personally. For example, last Thursday got home from work. I was kind of on an edge with my love because he had been working late and I had seen little of him. I was tired but I still had to water the plants and after that I wanted to make dinner and try and have some quality time together. So while I was doing chores in the garden my love comes out of the office. He asks me “where are the red scissors? I know you used them this weekend.” I replied “I’m not sure, I will look for it as soon as I’m done here.” He said: “No forget about it, I already know where they are. But you always do this, you always use stuff I need and then just leave it laying around. I told you so many times already but you keep doing this.” (The book teaches you that using always and other generalizations in discussions is really not a good way of communicating, but I did not point that out at that moment)

So I reply: “ I’m sorry, you know I was busy in the garden this weekend and I used the scissors, I’m glad you found it and I’m sorry I left it laying around. I’ll try and take better care next time. Where did I leave it then?”

He: “I’m not going to tell you, you should just realize you always do this and it is really annoying. I never loose stuff and I always know where I leave everything but you always leave everything just laying around and never remember where you leave stuff and I always have to find everything you misplace.”

In the past this would have resulted in a few hours (or days) of fight. This time I just told myself: do not take it personally. Do not take it personally. Do not take it personally!  It is really hard, because as soon as someone addresses you all the time about stuff you do you kind of get the feeling they are trying to attack you and make you feel lousy. Well they are not, at least not trying to make you feel lousy, they just need you to change something and they are really bad at trying to convey this message.

So I was calm and listened, when he was done venting just told him again I was sorry, and he went back to work. Then I took my daily walk and breathed to calm myself down even more, repeating it is not personal. After a few minutes of walking and breathing I just had to laugh about my silliness with scissors and his silliness not wanting to tell me where they were.

Later that night my patience was tested again. It was during dinner, I was really hungry and eating quite fast. My love hates this; he chews eternally on every bite. I have always been a fast eater and when I am starving I just really want to and need to eat. So we sat down toasted our drinks and whished each other bon appetite.  I dig in and after three bites I say, hmm it’s really good. What do you think? And I keep on eating. He just keeps looking at me, I just feel he stopped eating and he keeps staring at me, I did not realize it at first because I was focused on eating but I just felt his eyes on me for a long while. So then I look at him and he has the most disapproving face in the world and tells me, do you have to eat like that? Why can’t you ever behave normally? Still being a bit sensible about the scissors episode I was at the verge of throwing down my plate leaving the table and walking away in tears. My appetite was gone and I was boiling inside. I put down my plate and took my glass of water and just drank and drank and drank and with each sip I thought to myself. It’s not personal. It’s not personal. It’s not personal!

After finishing the whole glass I breathed deeply and apologize. I took my plate and started eating a little bit slower. We had a nice conversation and I guess he realized he had been a bit of an ass because he tried to be really nice after this.

I still feel like my love can be a complete ass sometimes but by not taking it personally I have avoided so may conflicts, it saves so much energy and you feel so much more at ease.

Sometimes it is hard because it seems people just want to hurt you but if you try to understand why people say the things they say you will learn to understand what drives them to say these things, what they actually need you to do or change.

You get hurt all the time, and the people who you love can hurt you the most. The worst thing my love ever said to me was during a fight. I bought him a gift for his birthday. A piece of art, I really loved, I thought it was the most beautiful thing we seen together so I wanted to give it to him. During one fight he said that I am selfish that even the gift I gave him for his birthday he believed I actually bought it for myself. It still makes me sad to think about these things and I’m not sure if he meant that or just said it to hurt me but I try to not take it personally and search for what he really needs from me when he sais these things. I guess in that instance he wanted me to pay more attention to our relationship instead of spending so much time with things I felt where necessary. Actually at that moment the things I was putting al my attention towards where also things which I felt I was doing for our relationship. So you see while you think your partner (or anyone for that matter) understands you and the efforts you are making he or she can feel the complete opposite way and think that you are being selfish. Improving communication and not getting upset will solve these problems a lot faster then fighting over who is right and who is wrong.

Not everything in life has to be a fight, even when you think you are being attacked or hurt or treated unfairly, sometimes you just have to let go and remind yourself to not take it not personal. It was one of the hardest lessons I have ever learnt but it has resolved so many frustrations and brought so much peace to my life and I am really grateful for that.

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Creating change has to be a delight not a burden!

You probably know exactly what you want to change in your life. What you need to do to make everything better. You make resolutions for yourself and start with high spirits, full throttle.

At least that’s the way I tried to create change in my life. It always turned out into a bit of a disappointment.

For example, I’m not content with my figure at this time. I’m not overweight but since last Christmas I have not been able to wear my favorite jeans. These jeans have been my holy grail of waistline size. I know I got heavier because I eat more. Since I’m living together I eat decent meals three times a day, opposed to my living-by-myself cornflakes and Mac n Cheese diet. Secondly I have less time to exercise, well not exactly less time but since I’m together I prefer spending time in bed instead of getting up early to exercise.

So I know what caused my wait gain and have been trying to solve it for quite a while. In the past if I would gain wait I would just pass on lunch and eat something light at dinner. That is not an option now because I really love and appreciate the meals I share with my love, we work full time so spending lunch and dinner together to talk and catch up is really special time. That leaves me with the option that is to try and get more work out time. Luckily my love is very understanding about this.

It is quite hard to pick up any type of exercise after you have not been exercising for a few months. I have never been one for the gym but I used to ride my bike a lot, every Saturday I used to participate in a two-hour capoeira training session, I used to go out and walk and I would swim a few times a week. Due to me getting in a relationship, moving and having more stuff to do every day I just had less time so the Saturday work out I have been skipping that for over a year, no more bike rides, now I just go for a swim in the weekend and I try to squeeze in a yoga session a few times a week.

I love to make lists, I made one for my resolve to loose weight as well (I still have it on my iphone) it looks like this:

New daily schedule – get up at 6.15

45 minute yoga session before work
30 minute swimming pool during lunch
30 minute bike ride after work

I had decided that starting with all three activities at once would probably a little bit too much. So I started with the daily 30-minute swim and a few days a week an evening yoga session.

I kept it up for about two weeks, making sure I swam every lunch break was of course very stressful because I get 90 minute lunch breaks and I have to get home and eat during that time as well. I was not able to swim every day, which made me feel really disappointed with myself, because I felt I had to do it. Since I missed out on a few days the second week I thought I make it up in the weekend and took an extra long practice on Sunday.

When I got up the following Monday morning I was acing all over. The next day I had to stay at home because I could not get up, I had flue symptoms and all my muscles were sore. I spent two days in bed, with enough time to reflect on my exercise plan.  The simple conclusion was that I tried to do too much and I tried too hard.

I decided to take it easy for the remainder of the week and make a new plan, a new start for the next week. I thought about it, and I listed to my body, what does my body need? I work at an office so I sit a lot, almost the whole day. I realized what I missed most is just walking, plain old simple walking. I love swimming and I love riding my bike but if I try and force myself to do it every day I will start to hate it and I will beat up my body because I am not fit enough to do intense exercise every day. I realized I had to start slowly with something I can do everyday, which is good for me, helps me to relax and helps me to build up my condition.

I have been walking every day after work, just walking around the house for as long as I feel like it. I do not need to go anywhere, dress up or get equipment out, I just walk. It relaxes me a lot, I enjoy it, and it helps me reflect about my day. I already feel more energetic and some nights I even squeeze in a yoga session. I am sure that if I am able to keep this up I will start to feel like doing more exercise like going for a bike ride or a long swim.

What I try to explain is that if you want to change something you have to think about it, analyze it and be willing to take small steps at a time. These small steps will make it easier, less scary and more enjoyable.

Change that you want to create has to be a delight not a burden!

You need to reflect about where you want to go, analyze how you feel and what your abilities at this moment are, make a plan (keeping in mind that you are not superman or superwoman) and set your mind to it in a positive way.

Stay positive even if something does not go as planned or if you make a mistake. Do not be harsh on yourself, and do not put yourself down. Listen to yourself, your body and mind will show you what the right speed is. Do not force anything. By going at it this way the change process will be enjoyable and you will feel each time you will be able to accomplish more.

If one day you do not feel like doing what you planned, accept it and reflect on this. If this feeling occurs every day than maybe this was not the right way to create the change you want or maybe you need smaller steps. It sounds like a cliché but I discovered that it really is all in your mind. I’m off for a walk now; I will be back soon with more of my reflections and more about the changes in my life.

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