I’m really excited to be hosting a very special mini retreat with my good friend and fellow yoga teacher, Amanda Cunliffe-Smith, on Friday 20th January. We all know that sticking to New Year’s resolutions is not always easy, and by the end of the month our good intentions may have already fallen by the wayside! Our retreat is aimed at helping you break this cycle and stay true to what is important to you.
“Haven’t you had that baby yet?” said the well-meaning lady at the gym, where I’d just been for a swim two days past my due date. “We didn’t think we’d see you back in here!” Little did I know that the early hours of the next morning would mark the start of our son’s intense journey into this world – arriving on the 17th June after 8 hours of labour.
That day I was feeling the need to be extra active and even slotted in an online yoga practice and a “prepare for birth” meditation that evening. In the video the man guided me to visualise when I would like my labour to begin – for some reason I thought 4.30am would be a good starting time, giving me a chance to at least clock up a few hours in bed first before having the stretch of the day ahead. I pictured the husband and I calmly driving over the hills to the hospital as the sun was rising – calm, idyllic, in control.
Picture the scene. A kids yoga class. My daughter, Molly, is squealing around the room, rolling herself up in her mat and leaping in and out of her version of downward dog, but as a whole, generally not doing very much yoga at all. Ten minutes later, her teddy is out, her thumb is in and she has collapsed into a small sweaty pile on her yoga mat. Exhausted.
It is messy. It is noisy. There is jumping, laughing, robot walking. It is as far from the serenity you might expect to experience from a regular yoga class, where we tut inwardly every time someone arrives late and disrupts our ‘zen,’ or mentally clear our throat when someone OMS badly out of tune. Yes, welcome instead to the world of teaching kids yoga. A world that has thrown any expectations I had at maintaining control out of the window. And I’m not even teaching the class!
It was definitely a case of the ‘bump’ and I on tour at this year’s Yogafest – a fantastic community event that brought together over 5000 yogis, pilates lovers, meditators and more on 19th – 21st February. I was honoured to be asked to instruct a session once again at this annual event which this year supported PCRF – the Palestinian Children’s Relief Fund – a wonderful charity that helps children in the West Bank and Gaza. I taught a soothing lower back and hips flow, and thankfully no-one seemed too put off by my increasingly beach ball sized belly!
Lisa tells how meditation can help us accept loss…from the inevitable end of a bountiful garden to the unexpected end of a marriage.
Fall is a double-edged sword. Here in the middle of the US we are blessed with crisp days, crystal blue skies and glorious fall leaves. But hand-in-hand with the beauty inevitably comes cold weather, shorter, darker days, and ultimately what always takes me by surprise, the first frost.
This is a personal letter to my yoga practice, published in Elephant Journal, Nov ’14…Cheryl x
Dear yoga practice: I miss you.
We used to be great friends, but lately I’ve felt you slipping away.
I want to be honest and tell you that I’ve been harbouring strange feelings towards you, to the point that sometimes I can’t be bothered to work at our relationship anymore. I know this sounds harsh, so I’m reaching out to you. What can we do? We used to have a great thing going. Do you think we can get this back?
Roll up, roll up! Get your fast track to enlightenment right here!
(Pre requisites: headstand, handstand, forearm stand, proficiency in every yoga arm balance and deep backbend and the ability to touch your toes, preferably with your head on your thighs.)
Gulp. If the path to being a yoga student or teacher were ever to be judged on our physical prowess, many of us would give up before our feet had even graced the mat. Yet over the last decade, the flurry of social media, magazine articles and more have whipped the yoga world into somewhat of a frenzy – rarely a day goes by without something popping up that can either make you feel totally inspired, or let’s face it, downright inadequate. And for those of us who really desire to follow or even teach this wonderful practice, how do we stay committed when the yoga bar seems to be set so high?