Here at the Yoga Life Studio our yoga teachers get often asked how to live a more meaningful, content and happy life. Eva Kristlova, Safia Bowley and Lindsay Howarth are happy to share some tips and shine a bit of light on the yoga inspired life.
Being a yoga teacher might seem to others that we are always perfectly calm, peaceful and balanced. But it doesn’t mean that we have everything sorted! As everyone else, we also have to juggle the daily appointments and schedules, organise our family lives, pay the rent and yes, we get stressed too. But through practising yoga and meditation, studying and following yogic principles we gained some of that magical knowledge that helps us navigate our days and live our lives as best as we can.
We all can for sure gain lots of knowledge and wisdom from the ancient yogic scriptures and modern books on yoga and all things related, these are invaluable, especially Hatha Yoga Pradipika, Bhagavad Gita, Yoga Sutras of Patanjali and Upanishads, to name just a few. It is however our own life experiences, that will make us relate to these deep yogic texts, whatever happens in our lives and how we respond to it. Life is a forever evolving journey; it is not always easy and straight forward. Yoga teaches us that every experience has something to offer to us, everyone we meet has a message for us and we too have messages for those around us. Trust that you are on the right path, that you are exactly where you are meant to be right now.
Eva shares: In my yoga classes I often draw on my personal experiences, obstacles that I have overcome, hardships I experienced and also the joys and highs that are making my heart full to the brim. I try to make my classes relevant to my student’s everyday lives and what is happening in the world around us, so everyone can find comfort and inspiration there and take whatever they need away with them. Sometimes a little quote, breathing technique, certain yoga posture or simply time to relax can provide that a-ha moment that will change the story of the day.. I love working with different themes that will provide just that and here I will share a couple that are close to my heart.
Close your eyes and place your hand on your heart. Slow down your breath and settle your mind.. Now listen, listen to the whispers of your beautiful heart. Most of the time we use our logical, analytical mind and ignore the calls of our heart, even though the electromagnetic field of the heart is so much stronger than that of our brain. When we don’t listen to the messages of our heart we will experience increased tension, pressure and stress. So today I invite you to really connect with your precious heart and listen to what it needs to say. Ask yourself: ‘What does bring my heart joy?’, ‘What does my heart need me to know?’, ‘I follow my heart’.
‘The best and the most beautiful things in the world can not be seen or even touched. They must be felt in our hearts.’
To clear tension from your heart centre I invite you to chant this mantra associated with the Anahata Chakra (Heart Chakra) – YAM
- Overcoming of Obstacles
On our life journey we are all met with series of obstacles, sometimes we feel that we are stuck, we can’t move from a certain place, everything is blocking us and we can’t see the way out. Yoga teaches us that everything is temporary, everything changes, no situation stays the same. We can change our lives, make different decisions, put ourselves first and be in charge of our destiny. What are your dreams, aspirations and goals? Find yourself a quiet place to reflect on your life and ask yourself ‘Where do I want to go in my life?’ and ‘What is in my way?’. Often we find that the person that is in our way is in fact us. Through fears, worries, conditioning and feelings of being small, not enough, not important, we forget that we are in fact more powerful that we think, we forget that the only person in charge of our destiny is us. And that it is up to us to create a life that we want. Every decision that we make shapes our future and invites in new opportunities and possibilities. Let’s visualise our dreams and aspirations and imagine that we are already doing it. Speak to a friend about it and start to change your life today.
Use these affirmations: ‘I am in charge of my life’, ‘Where focus goes, energy flows’.
- Speak your Truth
Have you ever experienced that you can’t get your words out, your throat is tight and you are unable to express yourself and communicate clearly? Often our hearts know what we need to say but somewhere between our hearts and throats and throats and the lips the words get lost. We feel we are unable to say what we need to say, we worry that our words might be misunderstood, that we might hurt someone with our truth or that we get hurt in return. However it is really important to be able to speak our truth and speak from our heart. This can be all done with kindness and good intention. When we suppress our truth we become small and lose our true self. So lets practice expressing ourselves more clearly, speaking our truth with love and kindness.
Some useful affirmations here are: ‘I am free to speak from my heart’, ‘I am free to speak my truth’,
Postures to practice are: Cobra, Fish, Camel, Shoulder Stand, Lion Breath
To clear tension from your throat centre I invite you to chant this mantra associated with the Vishuddha Chakra (Throat Chakra) – HAM
- Lotus Flower
The lotus flower grows in muddy waters and rises above the surface to bloom with remarkable beauty. Rooted in the mud it rises towards the sun. Many of us live in that ‘murky water’ but like a lotus, we too have ability to rise from the mud, bloom out of the darkness, open our petals and radiate into the world.
I love this theme as it shows that we all sometimes go through challenging times, we all need to have certain experiences. As we move through these life challenges we find our strength, and determination and eventually come to the surface and shine. In short – no mud no lotus!
Some affirmations to use here: ‘Keep shining your light’, ‘The world needs your light’, ‘Be like a lotus, let the beauty of your heart speak’.
Yoga Life Studio teacher, Safia Bowley shares three tips how to bring more yoga to our day to day life.
1. Nourish. ‘You can’t pour from an empty cup‘. Prioritising self care on a regular basis is an investment. Nurturing and restoring to maintain our own physical and mental health first is key, and leads to our then being better able to support others. No need to scrimp on this, thinking it’s ‘selfish’ – we owe it to ourselves, and so much else depends on acts of self care as a foundation for a healthy and happy life. This could mean allocating time to plan, make and eat healthy and delicious food (but forgiving ourselves on the days when we just don’t have the time or energy! If we can get it right the majority of the time, that’s good enough). It could also mean re-scheduling plans in order to make time for proper rest when it’s most needed. It could be all sorts of things – spending time with someone who always brings a smile to your face, inspires and makes you feel better; it could be a favourite walk, food, place, activity or piece of music. Make time to nourish your body, mind and soul.
2. Get grounded. No matter what goes on around us, we learn in practising yoga regularly to be able to tap into a feeling of calm, quiet stillness, and to trust that it is always there. If we are sitting on our yoga mat in a beautiful and peaceful studio space, finding this can feel fairly straightforward, however, outside of the yoga studio, in the traffic, in the middle of a working day or in a domestic setting with all sorts going on, other people’s voices, energies and expectations around, this becomes much more challenging. Sometimes we might even start to lose hope – if this happens, we can use our breath to help us in getting connected again. Let the breath relax – bring all of your focus to its steady rise and fall, to the belly, to the rhythm, to a long exhale. Feel strong and steady in Mountain Pose. Plant your feet and stay awhile, remembering that beneath any stress, tension or emotional attachment there is an ocean of calm.
‘A mountain is completely relaxed and at ease with itself, however strong the winds that batter it, however thick the dark clouds that swirl around its peak.’
3. Shine. Yoga isn’t a quick fix to make all our problems go away, however the alchemy within a regular practice helps us to shed layers of the stresses, dilemmas, and situations that build up around us; the day to day combination of thoughts and emotions that affect us all in different ways. If we have a regular routine to help wash away those built up layers, we will be regularly refreshed and connected with our roots and unique identity. Meditation, even in its simplest form, offers this. This might be a specific yoga inspired visualisation, or simply setting aside time to sit quietly, but it might equally be a creative activity in which we become completely absorbed. Anything which allows those layers of thoughts, worries and internal chatter to fall away, leaving us to find our true self, pure and shining, without all those other influences. When this becomes a habit – it’s not something we do once and then don’t have to do again – we shine. If we feel stuck, we have the power within to light a path ahead, seeing possibilities of action, and we become empowered. Shine, and find your superpower!
‘We are shining. And we will never be afraid again’
Florence and the Machine
Lindsay Howarth, Yoga Life Teachers share her personal experience here:
Coming to your yoga mat for an Asana and Meditation practice can help to calm your mind and clear the way for your innate wisdom to gently whisper to you, and for you to learn about yourself and gain knowledge from experiencing how you feel in different postures on different days and even at different times of the year. It is also an opportunity to learn important and valuable lessons which you can take off your mat and into your everyday life. You cannot hear the gentle whispers if you are busy rushing around and being overstimulated by technology and general business of daily life.
I have experienced the magic of connecting to my innate wisdom through both Asana ( Physical yoga) and meditation. Once I was attending a yoga class at the Yoga Life studio where I teach my Aroma yoga class, the teacher guided us into Gomukhasana (Cow face pose) and while this posture is good for opening up your hips and chest, on this occasion I felt restricted and uncomfortable and wanted to come out of the posture. Seeing this as an opportunity to learn, I stayed in the posture and connected to my breath. through deep long breaths I realised that when I feel uncomfortable and want to ‘get out’ of a situation where I feel restricted and trapped, I can reconnect to my breath and find a way to still those thoughts and relax my body and my mind, allowing me to become comfortable with where I am. I am now able to use this in uncomfortable or restrictive situations in my everyday life.
Yoga Asanas are traditionally practiced before a meditation practice, this is because as we move our body and reconnect with our breath in our yoga practice we connect our mind with our body bringing us back into the present moment. It also clears stagnant energy and releases any blocks or strong feelings which might prevent us from being able to sit in meditation. It takes practice to develop a personal meditation practice and becomes easier to connect with your inner voice and innate wisdom with time. I would recommend using a mantra to focus your attention or focusing on your breath, by watching your inhales and your exhales. One of my favourite mantras is Aham Prema which translates to I am Devine Love. I set a timer for the amount of time I have, such as 5 or 10 minutes, and once I have finished I make a note of any messages that came to me in my meditation. Looking back at my notes today I can see that I have noticed that my confidence has improved, I don’t procrastinate as much and I have stopped looking for outside approval. One thing I find really magical is that when the wisdom comes through to me in my meditation it is not always in my own words. For example in my notes I have written ‘shining a torchlight within’; this is not something that I would usually say but I made a note of it because I heard it in one of my meditations. I have interpreted it as when we meditate it is like switching on a light, we can see things more clearly.
Eva, Safia and Lindsay all teach yoga classes at the Yoga Life Studio in Eastbourne
You can also see the published article here: