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Jivamukti Yoga is finally here in Adelaide!

Yoga in Garden of the Gods

Namaste everyone,

I’ve been quiet for the last 10 weeks because I’ve been in Costa Rica in Jivamukti training mode, then in the US in family holiday mode but – woohoo – I’m back and finally have some time to myself (although the work I need to catch up on just at home is only the beginning!). So here is a taste of what I’ll be up to over the next few weeks:

Over at my website I will be adding lots of new updates, particularly concerning the introduction of Jivmaukti Yoga to the class schedule, as well posts with a little bit of something for everyone – from delicious vegan recipes to the tenets of Jivamukti Yoga and other Yogic studies.

Permanent Jivamukti classes will be implemented on the timetable next term. Until then, I’ll be introducing a little taste of Jivamukti Yoga in all of my teachings.

Announcing the new 4-week Jivamukti Yoga Basics course!

This is a series of classes looking at the fundamentals of the physical practice. Importantly, this series is suitable for beginners, but open to all levels of practitioner interested in furthering their physical practice. You can read all about it here. So tell your friends and lets get everyone who is searching for something a little different in their Yoga practice on-board!

Upon the completion of the course we’ll have Adelaide’s first Go Yoga Jivamukti masterclass and celebrate! Email your enquiries and I’ll keep you posted on more details.

Now I’m calling all Bhakti Yogis! Are you interested in a weekly Meditation class (incorporating Yoga philosophical teachings, mantra and chanting)? Or would you go even further to say you’d like some extra “me time” to indulge in a weekend of nurturing food, Yoga asana practice, meditation (both still and moving), as well as time off for your own self enquiry? 

I’m looking to start a weekly meditation class at Go Yoga as well as hosting a weekend Go Yoga and wellness retreat. Enquire now if either of these look appealing to you!

I have found a lovely spot called the Lokananda Retreat Centre at Point Pass. The weekend retreat will also include free time to rest or to explore the gorgeous terrain and hiking of Point Pass. I’d love to hold the retreat when the weather gets warmer around late November early December, so email me ASAP to reserve your place!

In the meantime head on over to the class timetable page where you’ll find an updated class schedule and sign up for a class today 🙂

Much love,

Jackie

Posted in Inspiration

Tips For Establishing A Home Yoga Practice

go yoga jackie 03

What you are about to read may seem counter-productive and controversial coming from a small Yoga business owner: I believe that a consistent home practice is essential to establishing a sincere yogic attitude and lifestyle. Now having said that, you can trust that I know first-hand how difficult a consistent personal practice can be to maintain.

Just over seven years ago when my twins were born I was overloaded, running on empty and just keeping my head above water to see the next day. Unable to roll out my mat, it felt like every aspect of my life got more difficult and looking back, it was not surprising that I ultimately fell apart.

When I finally sought the support of my family instead of trying to “do it all”, I prioritized time to start practicing Yoga daily in my small study. With regular Yoga practice established in my personal life, I soon realized that life was no longer a struggle.

To commit to practice, I deliberately made Yoga another thing on my daily “must-do” list. Everyone around me appreciated and respected this as an important outlet for me to function in my strongest, most vital, compassionate and happiest self. This enabled me to let go of guilt associated with not being able “to do it all”.

Establishing my yoga practice was also not a struggle. Waking up before everyone else in the house came naturally – I was not waking suddenly or in a panic to crying or sick babies, I was waking more peacefully to the sanctuary of my mat…meaning I could deal with whatever the rest the day had in store for me with more confidence and grace.

If naturally gravitating to your mat at home is not coming easily, here are some quick tips that have helped me in my home practice of vinyasa and restorative Yoga:

1: Choose a convenient time. I practice Yoga first thing in the morning as I find the intention sets me up for the workings of day. It may also kick start your vitality, make you more productive and keep your energy levels up. If yoga practice doesn’t happen for you in the morning, don’t let it be an excuse to skip it. You can choose another time that is more convenient – before lunch or early evenings. I’ll often practice before dinner on Monday nights when my husband gets home from work (I just hand-pass him the kid’s homework and bath routine J). Yoga at these times can also be a good way to refresh the mind and release stress collected during the day.

2: Concentrate on a set sequence of poses everyday for a given time frame. Practicing the same poses every time you roll out your mat for a while is a powerful way to keep consistent with your practice. This repetition offers you a clear vantage point from which to watch yourself grow and change. You don’t have to think about what pose you want to do next, so instead you can focus on your breath, the root and abdominal locks (bandhas) and your focus point (drishti). This takes you into a deeper meditative and focused place, so that you will step off your mat feeling more present and peaceful.

3: Set a minimum amount of practice for yourself each day. Even if it’s just 10 minutes, make yourself a promise that you will do your 10 minutes. Alternatively, your minimum practice could be 5-10 breaths in 5-10 of your favourite restorative poses (cat and cow, downward facing dog, standing forward bend, seated spinal twist, gentle lunges and tabletop are great examples). Even 5 rounds of sun salutations is practice enough to invigorate the body. Each of these options can be your practice right there and if you can do more then think of it as a bonus gift to yourself! If you start small but practice everyday then you’ll find it’s not a burden but an automatic and enjoyable habit. You’ll be more likely to stick with your commitment and feel positive about your practice rather than guilty if you don’t have much time or vitality that day. *Importantly, it’s better to practice 10 minutes of yoga at least once in your busy everyday rather than wait for the magical time when you have 90 minutes to set aside for the full pranayama, asana, meditation and relaxation sequence. No doubt that time will never come so do what works for you right now.

4: Respect your body. Only practice intense yoga postures if you have time after a sufficient warm up. This is essential to minimize the risk of straining your muscles and joints. Be gentle on your body, especially if you do not have a lot of time. If you try to rush through the sequence of poses by doing them faster or pushing beyond your own body’s limits, it will not bring faster results. It will only make the practice more difficult and painful, meaning you’ll be less likely to continue.

5: Create a sanctuary for your practice. Reserve a specific room in your home that is specifically for your practice, or even just a quiet space large enough to roll out your mat. When you are on your mat, you are in your own little yoga shrine. Like most yoga students, I’ve also created a little “altar” in my study with meaningful photos, trinkets and relics to mark my sacred space for intentional practice. If you share a house with others, kindly communicate with them the importance of uninterrupted practice time and space. Over the years my young daughters have come to respect that sometimes mummy needs time on her yoga mat and most questions, help and yes, even “dobbing” can wait another 10 minutes.

6: Prioritize your practice. When you practice, make practice your sole focus. Turn off your phone and your computer, try not to roll out your mat and then walk away to check a message you’ve just received or send an email – guilty J

7: Take the time to just be. Always start and finish your practice in stillness. You could choose a breathing (pranayama) practice such as ujjayi prior to asana practice, repeat a mantra, do a self-inquiry of your body (physical, mental, emotional and energetic), or meditate. Setting stillness as top importance of your practice will make you feel nourished and peaceful, encouraging you to practice with more consistency and devotion. Just 3-5 minutes of conscious breathing or meditation will benefit your asana practice, because it helps build concentration. Similarly, practicing asana with an intense focus on drishti, bandhas and breath as mentioned above, will enhance your capacity to meditate.

8: Seek help via nearby resources. If you are feeling a little stuck by yourself, look up some blogs and yoga websites, take an online yoga class or listen to a podcast. There are some great free classes and trial memberships available online. There are also countless books and instructional DVDs. Don’t forget to treat yourself by “tuning up” with a great teacher. A few classes or a workshop will help bring attention to areas of your practice that need assistance. I know first hand that students from my advanced yoga course have found new inspiration and motivation for their daily home practice. Finally, remember Yoga is a vast discipline that involves much more than stretching, strengthening, breathing and meditating. Get inspiration by reading philosophical teachings such as Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras or the Bhagavad Gita.

9: Most of all, express gratitude! Every time you come to your mat give thanks that you are blessed to be practicing yoga. Gratitude opens hearts and minds!

 

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Congratulations Advanced Yogins!

Dear advanced Yogins,
I just wanted to say thank you so much for participating in the 8- week Advanced Go Yoga Course. Has the course helped your alignment in the poses, has it changed the way you view your practice, or the way you feel as you move through it?
Ultimately I do hope you have all benefitted and grown from the experience and I look forward to seeing your bright faces in class. I want you to know that even though the course has finished my lines are always open, should you have any questions or concerns. You are never alone on this path as together we ultimately wish for the same things in life – peace, happiness and freedom.
Much love, health and kindness,
Jackie
Posted in Inspiration

My Yoga Easter

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Now the dawn of buns and chocolate is rapidly approaching, I’ve found myself reflecting on what this time of the year means to me now.

Baptised Catholic at just one month old, I went rogue in my teens as religion just wasn’t addressing the questions important to me at that time. I have since found in Yoga philosophy many answers to these questions. The Yoga practices of asana, pranayama and meditation have also become an avenue for me to experience spirit, to feel love, hope and faith. Does this mean Yoga is slowly making me religious? I don’t think so, but Yoga’s teachings are so simple and widespread that it has given me a more patient understanding and acceptance of all religions.

Consequently, I do feel a little emotional on Good Friday. Not necessarily for the crucifixion of Christ but certainly for the symbolism it represents of the suffering faced by many right now in my lifetime. Even as a non-Catholic I can try to celebrate Easter Sunday with a sense of resurrection, or perhaps more appropriately with the secular tradition of the Easter egg, with the joyfulness of rebirth; No matter their age or their past actions, everyone has limitless potential for happiness that is real, right here and right now.  In every moment we can create a new life of hope and joy…especially when running around with the kids collecting and chomping chocolate eggs!

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Asana Practice and the True Goal of Yoga

Autobiography of a Yogi book

Autobiography of a Yogi book

Recently I re-read one of the most influential Yoga books in recent history, Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramhansa Yogananda. There are so many thought-provoking messages in this text that you could blink through a line of prose and miss out. One teaching that seemed particularly relevant to Yoga practice on the mat occurred to me in chapter 7. Here, the author describes his first encounter with the levitating saint, Bhaduri Mahasaya, and his remarkable feats. During this first encounter, the Saint and the young Paramhansa enter the meditative state. After about an hour, the spiritual teacher rouses Paramhansa from his silence and cautions him on not confusing the technique of meditation for the goal. The young man loves to mediate and his teacher can see how fond he is of entering the meditative state for the feelings it gives him. Yet the true goal of meditation is not just to quiet the mind and “drop out”, it’s a method for developing actual perception of the Divine.

I can see many parallels in this wise teaching to how we all in the West sometimes confuse the practice of Yoga asana for the true goal of Yoga. We can become very attached to how well we perceive we “perform” in Yoga class, with judgements about how we can’t do this pose or think we are really good at that one. We can become attached to the buzz, the way that yoga class makes us feel afterwards. We can find ourselves growing fonder of practising asana to improve our physical body. We can get caught up in the belief that Yoga class gives us an opportunity to also “drop out” of the world, when in fact the true goal is to more fully “drop in”. All of these scenarios mask the truth. So like Paramhansa with meditation, we shouldn’t confuse the technique of asana for the ultimate goal – that asana practice is a method for purifying our karmas to liberate us from feeling separateness. It can lead us to the true goal of Yoga, realisation of our own union with the Divine.

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Spiritual Activism – Bringing a Compassionate End to Factory Farming

Make it possible campaign image from Animals Australia
Make it possible campaign image from Animals Australia

Make it Possible campaign to end Factory Farming

Most of us who practice Yoga would say we are passionately against cruelty of any kind. I like to think that I personally don’t contribute to the suffering of any being, I do my best to follow the path of ahimsa. But you can be a vegan and lead a vegan lifestyle and still despair at the animal abuse around you. However, despair and feeling helpless do not bring about positive change for the creatures that we care for. Neither does getting angry, judgemental or superior.

Probably the most exciting thing I learned from reading “Yoga and Vegetarianism” by Sharon Gannon is the concept of spiritual activism. That is, to actively work for change by caring for the happiness and freedom of all beings, victims and perpetrators included. Here in Australia, there are horrific cases of animal abuse and cruelty. Some cases are brought to light in the news, such as the breeches in live export of sheep and cattle to the Middle East and Western Australian Governments controversial shark kill policy. Yet hundreds of millions of cases are kept from our view jointly by the so-called “production animal” industries and governments that allow exemptions in animal cruelty legislation. However, just yesterday I witnessed the power of spiritual activism when I woke to the news that the Australian Capital Territory had announced a ban on cruel factory farming practices. The passing of this bill must in part be attributed to the “Make it Possible” campaign by Animals Australia, a compassionate initiative to end factory farming that garnered mass support through its inspirational television commercial and video.

The video does not blame or place guilt on the viewer, it highlights instead how the animal industries have relied on the ignorance of us consumers and our unquestioning trust in their authority. In a non-threatening manner the video then educates how each time we shop or sit down to a meal we can “cast a vote for a kinder world for animals”. I appreciate that more needs to be done for other Australian states to follow suit, but the ACT Government’s decision is proof that with compassionate but insightful activism, economic interest can be removed and  enormous progress can be made for animals – more than just wallowing in despair or getting angry.

Reading Sharon’s book encouraged me to write to the animal welfare minister to ask why South Australia now can’t also end such legalised animal cruelty. Again, I appreciate this is merely a first step on a long journey…you can read my letter here and let me know if you wish to join me by writing too. Together we can peacefully and humbly make a positive and happy difference that mutually benefits all beings.

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How Practicing Yoga Postures Can Help Purify Your Karmas

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In my recent post, “Freedom from Karma…and from Chocolate Cake“, I explained what Karma Yoga is and ways to practice Karma Yoga; Off-the-mat practices to free ourselves from seeking external sources of happiness to fulfill desires, cravings, expectations and ambitions. But do you know that your physical practice of asana on the mat also provides a valuable opportunity to realise true happiness within yourself that is everlasting?

Most people already know that asana practice has many physical, physiological, mental and emotional advantages. If you are a regular student, you’ve probably already noticed any of the following therapeutic benefits:

  • Improved muscular strength, flexibility, coordination and balance.
  • Improved organ function and hormonal balance.
  • Increased mental clarity, confidence and ability to cope with stress.

Sharon Gannon refers to our bodies as “storehouses” for all of our past unresolved karmas. Western science and medicine are also now validating the side-effects of our life experiences – our bodies don’t only carry physical experiences, but mental and emotional trauma as well. It is well documented that our diet, habits, actions and our experiences can cause imbalances manifested within our body as injury, stress, chronic pain and disease. You may have heard the saying that we hold our “issues in our tissues”. We have bodies filled with toxins from the air we breath, the food we eat and the pharmaceuticals we ingest. Yet we also are composed of the karmic consequences of suffering, be it our own suffering or the suffering of others around us. When we are exposed to fear, violence and greed, these attributes promote a sense of detachment and isolation from the world around us. However, we do internalise the experience. We feel hurt or sick from such exposure, or at the very least uneasy in our own skin. Yoga philosophy affirms that the reality we think is external to us is actually a reflection of what is going on inside.

Practicing Yoga postures gives us a sacred and safe opportunity to go inside, to analyse our own physicality, physiology and psychology. If we approach our asana practice with curiosity, we can uncover holding patterns, beliefs and tendencies ingrained within us that don’t serve us, tendencies that we may have thought were outside of us and impossible to change. Once these ill-thoughts and habits (i.e. our karmas) are brought to the surface, to our consciousness, we have a greater chance of calling upon change or letting them go. We can begin to ask ourselves questions like “what is this I feel?”, “where has this resistance come from?”, “why am I still carrying it here with me?”. So through the physical practice we can begin to gain insight into our own personality – the way we see ourselves shifts, it becomes clearer and assured. We gain both strength and compassion from within. We can then use our practice on the mat to strengthen, stretch, twist out and essentially purify our bodies of our karmas, our experiences and relationships. We can find resolution and peace with our past, current and future situation and in doing so, discover who we truly are.

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Freedom From Karma…and From Chocolate Cake

The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others
The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others

Mahatma Gandhi’s quote “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others”

Karma isn’t bad luck, nor good luck for that matter. Karma is everything we’ve done, are doing and will do in the future and the accumulated results of all this action.  It comes from ignoring our natural state of happiness (known as avidya). We accrue karma when we act in a certain way because we think that action will bring us joy, instead of realising our divine Self is already joy. This is how we become attached to things, places, people, habits and routines.

A good example for me is when a good friend makes me her vegan chocolate cake – I’ve termed it Raw Bliss because it tastes so delicious I easily become attached to eating it all. Yet when it’s all gone either I want more or I feel sick, my desire hasn’t been fulfilled. Karma yoga teaches that it’s not the cake making me happy, it’s that when I’m eating it, I have no wish for anything else in that moment. In that moment I am completely happy, I’ve fleetingly experienced my divine Self. But ignorant to my natural state of bliss, I’ve confused my joy with the cake. Instead of going to the Self directly, I go to the cake. When we continue to be clouded by avidya, this ignorance, we remain in the karmic cycle of action to fulfill desires, cravings, expectations and ambitions.

The only way to purify our karma is by realising the oneness of being. That is, when we recognise we are all connected, we are all from that same source of divinity and that pure happiness is already within us. Karma yoga teaches that one path to this realisation is selfless action, triggered by a selfless intention. We can practice this by serving and working without expectation of credit or reward and instead enjoy happiness in others. You can see my friend practices karma Yoga whenever she bake me cake, her reward is merely the enjoyment of seeing me happy! We can also practice Karma Yoga by acting and responding to any situation without anger, greed, hate, fear or jealousy. Similarly, if we practice forgiveness, acceptance of what is, gratitude for whatever we experience and have, our compassion for others builds – as does our own happiness.

Are you looking towards external source(s) of happiness in your life? How can you purify this attachment? Do you have a certain practice that, whenever you’re feeling vulnerable, reminds you that you are divine and not alone?

Who is more interested in this Raw Bliss Cake?

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