Category Archives: Stress

I know, I know, but, in case you’ve started your Christmas shopping…

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I can already hear the outrage. It’s only the start of November! And yet, some people LIKE to sort Christmas and other holiday shopping early. Some people (including me) are already REALLY looking forward to making 2018 the best yet.

If you’re interested, I’ve put together a few potential gift ideas – maybe treats for yourself, maybe a gift for a loved one.

My book, Sleep Yoga classes, 9 Week Chakra Coaching Programme and any integrative therapy session (ie, you can choose which you’d like to include – some coaching alongside yoga? Crystals? NLP? EFT? Meditation? Recently, I’ve been working with yoga and crystals at the same time – really interesting, powerful work) are a few potential gift ideas.

Click HERE for more information and ideas and get in touch if you have any questions.

I work with individuals and groups in Essex (Witham, Colchester and Frinton on Sea) and worldwide via Skype/Vsee and telephone.

I look forward to working with you (and your loved ones!) the rest of this year, in 2018 and beyond.

love,

Eve

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Sending love to the world (again)

Image by the fantabulous Caroline Chappell
Image by the fantabulous Caroline Chappell

Trite and hippyish as it may sound, sending love / loving kindness / metta etc isn’t easy.

Sometimes, it can be hard enough to wish ourselves well let alone people we see as ‘other’ or worse. It can be really challenging to see people we disagree with and attempting to send compassion and loving kindness rather than judgment.

I mean, who does that (be it ploughing into innocent people crossing a bridge and stabbing a policeman or boiling a prisoner alive… I could go on with horrors from just this week but won’t)?

And then, of course, there’s the judgment about how we ‘should’ all react. As if we could legislate our feelings even if we wanted to.

Over the years, I’ve learned that allowing myself to feel whatever I’m feeling is the best way through it. Judging myself for crying more over London than Mosul (I was born there, lived there for years, am in every week and passed through on Wednesday) wouldn’t have helped anyone.

Far more lives were lost in Mosul this week and I consciously feel guiltier as ‘our side’ is responsible yet, I can’t control what I cry over. Similarly, my tears for London  were different to my (more intense) sobbing over the murder (and lack of his murderers being charged) of Darren Rainey in Florida  and Timothy Caughman in New York.

I feel compelled to state, aloud, that (I hope!) most people who look white DON’T think like the awful white supremacist who killed him. I also feel rage at the injustice that as a white looking woman, I’m not expected to have to speak out against that in the way that, for example, peace loving Muslims are expected to denounce attacks that extremists undertake.

I feel hopeless when I think about terrorists but I don’t feel as afraid of them (nothing – that I know of –  I can do to control or even influence their actions) as I do about a certain English woman who is passing off her hate speech on US telly as the norm for (diverse! Inclusive!) London.

However we feel, whatever our reactions – to global or more personal tragedies – we have a right to our feelings.

The more we give ourselves a bit of time and space to process and grieve and heal, the less likely we are to mess things up even more badly by lashing out at people we disagree with.

This is something simple, though not easy, that we can all do (should we want to) to contribute a teeny bit towards creating a safer, more peaceful world for all of us.

What might you do to be extra kind to yourself today?

Feel free to share below.

love,

Eve

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‘They tried to bury us. They did not know we were seeds’

seeds

Thanks Lisa Lister (Love Your Lady Landscape, Hay House, 2016) for reminding me of this gorgeous proverb.

When have you felt buried by life?

What do you notice when you ponder your inner seed, right now? That part of you that’s healthy and whole and ready to flourish?

Do any ideas for how you might grow and flourish in spite of what you’re facing spring to mind?

If you’ve already flourished in spite of the thing that sprang to mind, what helped you do so?

How can you remember your resourcefulness and resilience more easily in the future?

Feel free to comment below.

love,

Eve x

 

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What to dooooooo? Working with our shadows

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What can we do to avoid historian’s predictions of Holocaust-like-history repeating itself? As individuals? How can we tap into the loving, expansive, inclusive, generous parts of ourselves and humanity instead of giving into fear and loathing?

Yes, there are petitions and demonstrations.

But what about the rest of our lives? The gazillions of thoughts and beliefs we rarely even notice but which contribute to our experience and the way we relate to others?

Apart from sending Metta to places we feel helpless around, we can take a look at our own shadow stuff.

I read an interesting piece by Deepak Chopra today on Donald Trump being a manifestation of America’s shadow.

We all have our shadow aspects and they’re not easy to recognise when we’re caught up in them.

Just as we all have the potential to do amazing things with our one, precious life, we could find ourselves in unimaginable circumstances and be capable of the worst, least imaginable acts.

When we notice them, we can integrate them by owning what we’ve been repressing in ourselves and projecting onto the other.

Something we can all do is pause before posting or speaking or lashing out in any way.

Notice where our shadow might be in that moment.

Who are we most angry with right now?

What does he or she represent to us?

What hidden aspects of ourselves resonates with what they’re doing?

How does it feel to own that feeling? To acknowledge that at some point, we’ve all felt homicidal?

Again, I’m not at all advocating acting on such feelings. Oddly, making this more conscious means we’re less likely to act out aggressively. 

It can be scary.

I’m a pacifist by nature. I wish we could all just get along. We’re all the same. Where we were born had nothing to do with us. Hippie, peace, love, blah…

Years ago, I learned that trying to send peace and love to people who were annoying me was, frankly, beyond me. I think Metta’s wonderful but even that varies day to day. This was years ago and I eventually realised that owning the fury, the rage, the anger and the despair was freeing.

Obviously, I’m not talking about acting on any of this. But recognising however we’re feeling and letting that be OK actually enables the feelings to move through us more quickly than when we try to deny them.

So writing this, thinking about certain politicians and their seemingly bullyish ways, I can either judge them and pretend it’s all about them or be open to acknowledging that bully part of myself.

The part that I don’t want to acknowledge I have yet that I realise of course I do, otherwise it wouldn’t upset me so much to see it in others.

Once I’ve done this, I can better see how I am connected to, for example, a politician. Or someone who votes differently to me. Or a terrorist. Or a serial killer. Or someone who puts his or her feet on the seats on public transport. Or child or animal abuser. Or any number of people I don’t want to think I have anything in common with.

As with everything, it’s a practice. But the more I do this, the less likely I am to add fuel to the emotional fires of the world right now with mean, small minded, unpleasant posts (I’m deleting A Lot).

Embracing our shadows not only helps us integrate and be more whole ourselves but we’re better able to reach out to others with compassion and kindness.

And this depends on us embracing our shadows (rather than beating ourselves up for not being saints, having said shadows).

Who are you most angry with right now? Who do you hate?

How does it feel to own that hatred and fury in yourself? (If a lot is coming up, you might want to work with a therapist – use all available support.)

Personally speaking, just through drafting this post, I’m feeling something closer to empathy for certain politicians than I’ve previously been able to feel.

How about you?

Feel free to comment below.

love,

Eve x

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Safety pins and self-compassion

safetypin

What a week!

Apart from here, the floods in Ghana, attack in Turkey…

There have been high emotions in the aftermath of the vote. I’ve shed a lot of tears, hearing about the increase in racist attacks, wanting to connect and collaborate with the world at large, not be cast adrift.

Also, respecting the democratic process and knowing we’re all doing the best we can with what we know at any given time.

A lot of us are struggling with our sense of identity.

I’ve been clumsily attempting to be super friendly to people who look like they might be not from here.

Then, to increase the strange looks resulting from my beaming at strangers in London and Essex, trying to be extra friendly to everyone.

Being naturally more introverted (I think I’m an extraverted introvert), I’m sometimes exhausted by it all.

In attempting to be more smiley to people, I’m no longer hiding behind books and newspapers on public transport but making eye contact (the horror! Joke – it’s actually refreshing), I’m remembering that the heartbreaking stories are far from the big picture.

Still, what could I do to (without freaking anyone out by being too smiley), help others feel safer?

I was delighted to hear about the safety pins being worn to show solidarity with immigrant communities (again, as the daughter of an Irish and Indian, via Kenyan, immigrant, it feels a bit odd to show solidarity with myself so am aiming for some self-compassion rather than beating myself up for all the times I’ve cried or welled up since Friday).

The safety pin is such a great example of someone doing something simple to stand up (quietly and maybe not even needing to stand up at all) and say racism is unacceptable. And I can dial back my beaming at people so minimise the risk of freaking strangers out by being potentially over friendly in an effort to compensate for a tiny by vocal minority of racist individuals.

I’m also aware of the reports of Muslim women being targeted more than men (sexism as well as racism) and talk of older people being accused of voting badly and the need (my name is Eve – am still working on my overdeveloped sense of responsibility for the whole world), recent progress for gay and trans rights and desire for everybody to be safe, free to flourish, able to be their glorious wondrous selves without fear of attack.

Is there something you’ve been feeling hopeless and helpless about?

What is something small – safety pin tiny – that might help you begin to remember that no matter what’s going on around you, everyone is doing their best?

Feel free to comment below.

love,

Eve

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Embrace your inner superhero

WonderWoman

I regularly teach clients, yoga students and workshop participants about Amy Cuddy’s fantabulous research into how changing our posture can change our lives.

You can see her Ted Talk here.

And her delightful book, Presence gives many more examples.

In a nutshell, when we expand our posture and hold it for 2 minutes or longer, we increase our testosterone (confidence! competence! courage!) while reducing our cortisol levels (so we feel less stressed and more empowered.

We might make like Wonder Woman or Superman, creating a star fish shape, making the kind of victory sign with our bodies athletes make when they win (arms outstretched, chest out) or taking a yoga pose like Warrior II (click here for more information). Anything expansive.

Essentially, by taking such a pose, we’re sending signals of confidence to our own brains (which get us out of that hunched posture that indicates we’re under threat and then relays the information that it’s safe to relax and be present to the rest of our body) as well as letting others know that we’re confident and capable.

We’re not going to be risk taking but we can bring our, as Amy Cuddy says, ‘boldest selves to our greatest challenges’.

I’ve heard of people power posing in car parks next to their cars before going in to make a presentation.

Shonda Rhimes is such a fan, she wrote it into an episode of Grey’s Anatomy where Amelia was about to perform an especially arduous 25 hour brain op on a colleague.

Sometimes, just taking a power pose can make us grin and remember we’ve got this (be it a first date, job interview, exam or even getting dressed on a particularly challenging day).

It’s not about dominating anyone, just getting our own bodies into a state in which we remember our own resourcefulness.

Other times, unfolding ourselves to take up more space in our lives might feel quite challenging. We can build up.

Try it. Choose one at a time and time yourself for 2 minutes or longer. See how it makes you feel.

Which is your favourite?

What did you notice about how you felt afterwards?

Feel free to comment below.

love,

Eve

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Standing Forward Fold

standingforwardfold

This is one of my favourites but we’re all built differently. If you don’t find it relaxing (even as you feel a pretty intense stretch), be extra kind to yourself easing into it gently.

With the feet hip distance apart and facing forward, raise your arms over head, hinge at the hips and allow yourself to gently fold forwards to whatever degree feels good. Ensure you have at least a microbend in your knees and if it feels better to bend them more, honour that.

Whether your hands end up under your feet, on the floor, around your ankles, on your shins or higher up, trust that you’re getting the right stretch for your body in this moment.

Notice your breath and aim for 5 complete breaths (or even 3+ minutes for Relaxation Response benefits if this is comfortable enough). To come up, bend the knees a little more and roll up slowly and gently. Pausing in Chair can on the way up can help you avoid any lightheadedness.

What’s your favourite version of Forward Fold?

Feel free to comment below.

love,

Eve

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IF YOU’RE NEW TO YOGA AND DON’T KNOW HOW TO DO THESE POSES, GO TO A YOGA THERAPIST OR INSTRUCTOR. IF YOU’RE NEW TO EXERCISE, CONSULT YOUR GP BEFOREHAND. ALWAYS HONOUR YOUR BODY’S OWN WISDOM

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Lion pose benefits – roar it out

Lion

I love Lion pose. Even when I practice it at home alone, it makes me beam with embarrassment imagining what on earth it looks like. The friend who took these pics kept a straight face for most of the poses but when it came to Lion just said, ‘Good grief.’

I’ve taught it to students who’ve been happy to roar out their stresses when I’ve taught outdoor (summer) classes by the River Brain and at gyms where everyone’s refused to give it a go (as well as other gyms where most people have been happy to roar away). At a rehab centre, even the glass doors didn’t put my lovely students off.

I’m never sure how new students will react to Lion but I continue encouraging them to roar (even if they don’t do it in class, learning it might encourage them to play with it at home).

Benefits include boosting circulation in the tongue and throat and exercising and strengthening the face and throat muscles. The longer exhalation helps calm the nervous system and I teach it by encouraging students and clients to ponder current stresses – anything they’d like to just roar away – before moving into Lion.

I think even this act of honouring whatever is stressing us out in any given moment helps release some of the energy around it. There have been times where I’ve been on hold for 20+ minutes and doing a quick partial Lion roar makes me laugh at myself enough to feel much better equipped to handle the robots until I get to eventually talk to a human and sort whatever issue had me calling. You can hear me talking about Lion pose on BBC Essex here.

If this introduction around how embarrassing some people find it and how silly it can look hasn’t put you off (embarrassment is the only contraindication), you might want to play with it now:

  • As you rest in Child or similar, think of up to six stresses you’d rather not have in your life right now
  • Come into a low kneeling position, placing the hands on your knees (if this doesn’t work for you, sit in any comfortable position)
  • Widen your eyes, rolling them up as you ROAR, stretching your tongue out (making a forced ‘Ahhhh’ sound – actually sounds more like I imagine a snake would sound than a lion), folding forwards and then coming back up to the original position
  • Repeat a couple of times, each time, roaring away a different stress
  • Repeat another three times or move into Crazy Lion (a pose my friend refused to photograph) and as you fold forward, move your head and neck and torso in all sorts of directions as you let yourself go
  • When you complete your six rounds, come back to your kneeling (or other starting) position and notice how you feel.

It’s entirely possible that the beaming faces I often see as we complete Lion in classes are at least partially down to relief at having done it but it’s great fun so do feel free to play with it, if you want to.

What do you think of Lion pose?

What (potentially embarrassing) tools help you de-stress and let out some of the day’s frustrations?

Feel free to comment below.

love,

Eve

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IF YOU’RE NEW TO YOGA AND DON’T KNOW HOW TO DO THESE POSES, GO TO A YOGA THERAPIST OR INSTRUCTOR. IF YOU’RE NEW TO EXERCISE, CONSULT YOUR GP BEFOREHAND. ALWAYS HONOUR YOUR BODY’S OWN WISDOM

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Downward Dog yoga benefits

DownwardDog

 

Downward Dog (sometimes Downward Facing Dog or simply Down Dog – which I especially like as it makes me imagine puppies) is a popular pose which brings mixed reactions.

You can start by being in what’s sometimes called Table Top position (the neutral spine part of Cat / Cow), having your knees in line with your hips and hands below the shoulders or maybe slightly in front if this is more comfortable.

Aim to have your index finger pointing forward and curl the toes under before lifting the knees and drawing your heels towards the mat. If there’s a big gap (all our bodies are different), you might want to have a folded blanket under your heels to offer you that extra sense of grounding and support. Look back towards your knees and aim (I know this sounds odd in an inversion) to drop (so actually, they’re going up a little) your shoulder blades.

Aim to take 3-5 full breaths here, noticing what’s happening. Are you able to have that longer exhalation here (creating additional calming for the ANS)? Are you able to breathe deeply and fully?

To come out of Downward Dog, you might walk your feet towards your hands and roll on up or bend the knees and come back into Child pose.

Being able to breathe fully in Downward Dog (not when you’re starting out, perhaps as exertion has an impact on our ability to breathe deeply, too) benefits the vagus nerve (that long ‘wandering’ cranial nerve that’s responsible for sending 80% of signals from body to brain enabling us to change the way we feel by breathing and moving differently). Naturally, this helps balance the autonomic nervous systems (ANS).

Our immune systems benefit from the toxin flushing Downward Dog allows. It also stretches the sciatic nerve so can bring relief over the long term but avoid Downward Dog in the midst of a flare up – your body’s wisdom is always greater than anyone else’s words. Pay attention to what feels friendly in any given moment. Like all asanas, something that feels delightful one day can be very challenging the next or even later in the day (or visa versa).

Yoga is a way in which we can better get to know our bodies and their signals to us.

While Downward Dog is a resting pose during dynamic flows, you may find Child more restful. Personally, I love the stretch but if an old shoulder injury is flaring up, I do less or avoid.

How do you feel about Downward Dog?

What are your favourite stretches?

Feel free to comment below.

love,

Eve

IF YOU’RE NEW TO YOGA AND DON’T KNOW HOW TO DO THESE POSES, GO TO A YOGA THERAPIST OR INSTRUCTOR. IF YOU’RE NEW TO EXERCISE, CONSULT YOUR GP BEFOREHAND. ALWAYS HONOUR YOUR BODY’S OWN WISDOM

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Dragon tails, superheroes and somatic presence

AmyCuddybook

I had a lovely day at the fantabulous Clare Myatt’s somatic presence workshop. My highlights included:

  • learning additional ways to ground and centre (eyes open made it a radical change to my existing tools)
  • new ways to tune into the body’s wisdom when making decisions and
  • a resilience building exercise which sounds too bizarre to write about but which was incredibly valuable both personally and professionally.

Bonus – really lovely group of people to spend the day with.

Find out more about Clare’s work here.

Then, I came home to Amy ‘Power Pose’ Cuddy’s fab new book, Presence. I’d learned about her research during my yoga therapy training. Since then, I’ve taught it to countless clients, students and workshop attendees.

In a nutshell, Cuddy’s research was around whether humans taking up more space might impact our confidence as primates of higher social standing exemplified these power poses (think men on the Tube).

Her research makes it fun, around expansive superhero (or yoga poses like Warrior II) poses. I’ve heard of people doing this by their cars before presentations but you don’t have to as the effects last for hours, increasing testosterone and reducing cortisol after holding them for just 2+ minutes.

Not only did they feel less stressed and more confident, but they were seen as more competent by strangers.

You can see the famous Ted Talk here.

What I hadn’t known was that the Harvard professor’s interest in presence started when she felt like an imposter in her own body after a car crash left her with a traumatic brain injury.

It’s a gorgeous book which, like Clare’s workshops, I’d recommend not just for coach-therapists and yoga therapists but for everyone.

What helps you feel more embodied (at ease in your own skin, content, powerful, safe, relaxed, open and so on)?

Feel free to share below.

love,

Eve x

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