Category Archives: Yoga

Titania’s eighth month: Culture – here we go again!

Just as in my sixth month I revived an old focus (body), I will extend my culture focus yet another month, since I haven’t been able to give culture as much attention as I would have hoped. I haven’t read more than usual, I have only watched one film BUT I went to a stand-up show performed by a wonderful female comedian, and I really enjoyed it. It even inspired me to thoughts about – some time in the future – creating a show of some kind with my best friend, with whom I share a blog, lead a discussion group and give lectures on how to make the best out of life. Perhaps the next step in our development is to combine life wisdom with humour?

The good thing about this project is that there is only plus, no minus, which means that I’m not disappointed or blame myself for not doing as much as I had planned. However, since I feel that culture really is important to me and my well-being, I would like to give it another go and let March as well be focused on music, literature and film. Perhaps I will be able at least to squeeze a few more films into my life (there’s still a huge pile of DVD:s that I’ve borrowed from a neighbour next to our TV set).

Titania

PS. My focus on¬†body and health is still active in my life to a great extent. It’s interesting to experience how something that used to be really difficult to find time for in the autumn now easily prioritizes itself. I so very much enjoy having gone back to a healthier lifestyle, and to feel that my biggest addiction right now is yoga! ūüôā

 

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Titania’s seventh month: Culture

After a failed attempt at focusing on a healthier lifestyle in the autumn, I can happily conclude that NOW was the time instead. January has been my body month, and so far things have gone greatly.¬†I’ve eaten less, and especially less unhealthy food, and I have managed to find those little time spots for fitness training in spite of a lot of other things going on. I’m back on my jogging track, I’ve been to a body combat class and two yoga classes, I’ve taken a lot of power walks and I have even (finally!) got started with doing yoga at home. The result: a four-kilo lighter me and I’m certainly motivated to go on.

One of the two yoga classes I took focused on ashtanga yoga, a form I had never tried before, and after hearing people talk about the high tempo I must confess I was a bit nervous about going there, since my yoga experience is quite limited. But since there was an open-house ashtanga class available, I decided to give it a go – and I fell in love. In fact, I think I could become one of those yoga nerds, devoting my life to yoga. Let’s get back in ten years time and I might be a yoga teacher myself. There’s something about the body control…

Anyway, new month, new focus coming up. February will be devoted to culture. December was my music month, and now I will widen the focus to also (I hope!) include more films and more books in my life. I have a HUGE pile of DVDs lying next to our TV-set, and this month I will try to watch at least one each week. I am part of a book club, and in February I plan not just to ready the book club book, but also one or a few more. Perhaps one of them will be about yoga? Finally, I will end this month by going to a stand-up comedy show. My first one ever – exciting!

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Jeans in, scales out

I’ve been on the Weightwatchers’ diet twice before in my life – with very good results. The problem is that I tend to slip back – slowly but steadily – into bad eating habits: too much food, too much sugar and so on. Perhaps the problem is that I put such a lot of effort into all the counting and weighing when I’m on the diet, and once I don’t need to count and weigh any longer, I just relax and lose control again.

What if I skip all the counting and weighing and just focus on that pair of black jeans that I would really really love to wear again. Try to eat less and do more physical exercise, and make it a lifestyle that I can go on keeping once I’ve reached my goal. If the goal is not a figure any longer, just that pair of jeans… Will it work?

PS. Biggest food challenge ever? A freezer full of leftovers from the party on Saturday: home-made ice-cream and cookies. If I can stay away from them at least Monday to Friday, I will be very proud of myself…

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Filed under Body, Challenge, Diet, Food, Physical exercise, Titania, Yoga

Titania’s second month: Body

At the moment when I start writing, there are eleven minutes left of my first project month. Tomorrow is 1 September and it’s time to shift focus from mind and soul to body. This does not mean that I will suddenly leave all my mental and spiritual activities aside. I will certainly go on meditating every night, doing reiki as often as I can and want to, and go on living as mindfully as possible, in every aspect of my life. The yoga part didn’t get much attention in my first month, and I actually just wanted to get a little taste of it, and then do more of this in my second, body-focused month. Just like Miranda writes, goals can sometimes destroy more than they help and I often prefer to talk about dreams and visions rather than goals. However, when it comes to this particular months I have actually set my mind to a few rather specified goals.

Doing physical exercise

I get so very much out of working with my body. Having a job where I mainly sit by my computer, I really enjoy doing something physical for a change, and I particularly love the dose of endorphins that fill my body afterwards, making me relaxed and happy. Some five years ago, I discovered what I like most of all: body combat, a high-energy workout class inspired by various martial arts, but where your combatant is not another person but just yourself in the mirror. I also enjoy running and taking power walks with a good radio program in my earphones. This month I will change gyms and the money I save in this process (since the new gym is cheaper) I plan to spend on taking a yoga class every now and then. My goal is to do some more demanding form of physical exercise three times a week when possible – be it body combat, running or yoga (which means bringing my running shoes when I’m away from home). I also plan to take an evening walk or lunch walk as often as possible.

Minding my feet

I have two problematic feet. No matter how much foot cream I rub into my heals – they are still constantly dry, cracked and often soar. From now on I hope to get better at doing a foot bath every now and then. That certainly helps a lot.

Getting enough sleep

I find it very difficult to get into bed at night – I simply have to many things I enjoy doing, such as blogging, reading and meditating. Almost every night I end up surprised at how late it is, and how little sleep there will be in store for me, tonight again. It’s not that I always walk around like a zombie in daytime, but since I have a job where I sit down reading and writing a lot, I sometimes fall asleep in the middle of something important. Then of course I know that getting enough sleep is good for a lot of different things, one of which is staying fit and not putting on too much weight, the next item on my list. I will also try to remember to always do a short round of reiki whenever I get to bed later than I should have.

Going on a diet

Finally, I plan to go on my own modified version of the Weightwatchers’ diet for a while. Being on a diet sounds extremely boring, but I know from experience that once I get started I even enjoy it. I have gained a lot of unnecessary weight over the last year or so, indulging myself far to much with unhealthy food and too much food. The main reason why I want to lose weight is that I have a lot of nice clothes in my wardrobe that I can’t use nowadays. I hate diets where there are a lot of stuff you’re not allowed to eat (such as GI), which is why the Weightwatchers’ diet suits me so well. I can eat whatever I want, as long as I do physical exercises and¬†don’t eat too much. I have already done it a few times, and it has worked excellently. I particularly remember the nice feeling of taking control of your body from one of my previous rounds. Just wish I could keep my weight, but perhaps this time? I will not start tomorrow, however, since it’s the day of my husband’s big birthday party (he will turn 40 soon). So, the message for my body the first day of my new project: Enjoy all the good food tomorrow! Then you can go on the diet on Sunday.

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Filed under Body, Body combat, Challenge, Diet, Food, Goals, Health, Meditation, Physical exercise, Reiki, Running, Titania, Yoga

Mindful mowing

In recent years I have found an excellent strategy for coping with household chores and garden work: listening to radio programs (from online archives) on my smartphone. It now feels so much less boring – instead I get some time and space to be on my own, while beings served glimpses of interesting life stories or documentaries on exciting topics. Welcome laundry, dishes and lawn mowing, let’s have some quality time together!

Sunset behind our neighbours’ field next to our garden.

Today I’ve been doing garden work all day – splitting logs and mowing the lawn in our huge garden – and thus had an excellent opportunity to listen to the radio for hours. I was a little disappointed then, when doing the last 20 minutes of my mowing and my smart phone ran out of power. Suddenly all I could hear was the distant sound of the lawnmower outside of my hearing protectors. But then I decided to ¬†turn the last part of my mowing into really¬†mindful mowing. So I focused on feeling the grass under my feet, the handle of the mower shaking in my hands (the machine is a really old one), smelling the newly mown grass and watching the sun set.

And then tonight, I dug out my old yoga DVD from behind all the children’s movies and did a short session. I became a bit nostalgic when I heard the voice of the yoga instructor; it reminded me of my last pregnancy – I haven’t done any yoga since then. I had forgotten how hard it is when your body is unused to the positions (especially, I think, “the dog position”), but I will definitely give it a try.

To finish off this day, which has been very much focused on physical rather than mental activities, my younger daughters and I had a few lovely (and mindful!) minutes in the garden just before they went to bed, trying to spot bats, which tend to fly around our house at night. Before getting back inside, we also sang a traditional Maori song that we learnt at a wonderful camp a few weeks ago: Ma The Aroha РWhere There Is Love, There Is Life!

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A kick-start for my first project month

Our beautiful apple tree in bloom in May

Today, 1 August, it was time to go ahead with my first project, focusing on Mind & Soul. The day started with a really mindful walk down to our mailbox – a very short walk, but I carried it out without thinking about a thousand other things (which I usually do…), and instead focused on the gravel under my feet, the lovely sunshine, the green leaves of the trees above me and the birds twittering in the sky. Otherwise this is probably my toughest challenge, to be 100 per cent here and now – my mind tends to float away and I really find it difficult to concentrate on one thing at a time.

On my way to work, I listened to a radio program. It turned out to be a person describing his life story – from being a successful (but unhappy) financial yuppie to spending 16 years as a monk, in Thailand and elsewhere. It was a fascinating story and – of course – full of talk about meditation and mindfulness! It simply felt like the perfect introduction to my project.

One thing in particular caught my interest in the program, a sentence the speaker quoted from one of his former masters: “You will get to know everything you need when you need it, not before that – as long as you’re 100% present in life.” It reminded me that¬†acceptance (including patience)¬†is an important ingredient of mindfulness, and the well-known Serenity Prayer is a good guide here:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.

Accepting what I cannot change is something I will also try to practice during my Mind & Soul month. Two such things came to my mind today:

  • to be patient when your car has to go very slowly on the road because there is a slow vehicle in front of you
  • to stop sulking about unpleasant unexpected expenses that you cannot avoid

Now time for my daily meditation session. Good night!

PS. I met my best friend today, and we booked a yoga class at the end of the month!¬†Tomorrow I’ll try to find my old DVD and start practicing a little at home to prepare. And while I’m writing this a friend of mine posts an ad on Facebook that she wants to sell two books about yoga – must have been a sign for me, don’t you think? ūüėČ I’ll definitely buy them!

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Titania’s first month: Mind and Soul

Inspired by my daughter Miranda’s blog post about her plans for her first month of our project, I decided to put down some thoughts about my own first month too. I have decided to focus on an area that has been partly neglected for some time now, since I’m living a life constantly filled with activity (four children, a creative job, a big house and garden always in need of attention, and a large social network): mind and soul.

The reasons I chose this particular area as the one to focus on first are (a) that my August (especially the second part) will be crammed with activity, and thus I will benefit from all the rest and relaxation I can possibly get, and (b) that for a long time I have felt a longing to go back to the daily routine of meditation that I got rolling some years ago, but lost track of when I was pregnant and had problems sitting down on the floor for more than a few minutes – I have just had difficulties getting down to business. So this is what I plan to do.

1. Meditation

I will simply remember the catch phrase of Nike:¬†Just Do It!¬†(which will in fact be the title of one of my future focus months as well). It is actually so much easier than you might think. You just have to prioritize and do it, just like you do other obligatory activities, such as brushing your teeth and going to the bathroom. I know that as soon as I’m sitting there I really enjoy it. I’m not that good at concentrating and keeping my thoughts at bay, but I have come to learn to accept my shortcomings and feel that I’m good enough a meditator anyway.

I actually have a specific room in our big house which I have furnished exactly in the way I like it – with a lot of big cushions on the floor, beautiful furniture, purple-coloured wall-paper, several candle sticks and so on. Typically, I meditate just before I go to sleep, so it’s important not to wait until I’m too tired. What I do is I put on one of my favorite CD:s with relaxing music, light some candles and then I sit down on one of my cushions and close my eyes (sometimes after watching the flame of one of the candles for a little while) for somewhere between five and twenty minutes and just try to focus on my breathing.

In summertime, I sometimes prefer sitting outdoors, enjoying the silence (since we live in the countryside) only interrupted by the twittering of birds or the buzz of a bumblebee. Sometimes I use a mantra, to get focused, such as Energy In РWorries  Out (following my breaths) or All Is Peace. When my thoughts wander away and I notice, I try to take them gently by the hand like a little child and lead them back to the breathing anchor in my stomach. I will not be fussy about time, and try to sit longer than I want to. The important thing is to make meditation a daily routine.

2. Reiki 

Quite a few years ago I took a course where I learnt an old form of Japanese healing called reiki, which you can use both to treat yourself and to treat other people. Back then I was really motivated to do it every day (although a complete round of reiki healing takes a whole hour), mainly because I wanted to do anything in my might to help support my health and immune system, as I was recovering from skin cancer. After a year or so, however, I started feeling that it took too much time and I lost the routine. Since reiki is a wonderful way of relaxing and sending love and energy to your whole body and soul, I would really like to get going again, but knowing how many other things I want to squeeze into those 24 hours a day, I will not set the goal as high this time. If I manage to give myself a reiki treatment once or twice a week I will be more than satisfied.

3. Yoga

Yoga has in one way or another been present in my life ever since I was a small child. My mother did a lot of yoga when I was little, and we kids followed her example and learnt some of the basic positions, such as “the candle” and “the plow”. When I was in my early twenties I took a course in yoga and mediation, but I never liked it – only felt restless and wanted to go home to my then very young daughter (Miranda, who is now almost 22!). Pregnant with my third child I gave it a go again, and this time I really enjoyed the course. I also felt that what I learnt in the course came in handy during delivery – the best of the four ones I’ve been through! When I was expecting my fourth child I didn’t feel I had enough time (and money) to take another course (since I was already going to body combat classes at a fairly expensive gym, and managed to continue doing that far into my pregnancy), but I bought a DVD and did some yoga at home in front of the TV.

My sister and my best friend have been doing yoga for quite some time, and they have inspired me to want to get started again. My best friend actually gave me a yoga class for my birthday almost a year ago, but we haven’t managed to fit it into our busy schedules. But now’s the time to do it! Just as with reiki, I don’t want to set my goal to high, but what I want to do during my “mind and soul” month is to do the yoga class with my friend, and then dig out my old yoga DVD from somewhere and give it a try a few more times. Perhaps I get inspired enough to buy a punch-ticket at my friend’s yoga place. Since the focus of my first month is body, I’m mainly interested in the mental aspect of yoga, but my second month will focus on body, so getting started with yoga would not be a bad idea at all.

4. Mindfulness

Mindfulness is of course a central element in all the three activities that I have already mentioned. However, I will also try to think of other areas where I can practice really being “here and now”, such as (1) really listen attentively to my family and friends when they are talking, (2) avoid doing more than one thing at the same time – such as checking e-mail while I’m watching something on TV – and (3) pay attention to what I’m doing while I’m watering my flowers, brushing my teeth, eating, cooking food and so forth.

Focusing on these four areas for one month does not mean that I will then just stop once this month is over. What I hope to do is create new routines in my life so that, for instance, fitting  a daily moment of meditation into my schedule will not feel like a burden, but something that I just do.

Looking forward to getting started! (I might even make a false start and do some meditation tonight…)

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