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Hints for the home practicing yogi

So you’ve attended a fair amount of yoga classes and are wondering how to make a home-practice work for you?

Here’s a few hints that I hope will help you…..

1. Keep it simple and realistic

My current commitment is just 10 minutes each day. I do suggest each and every day; it might sound a bit scary but this is a commitment to yourself. Sometimes I just practice for 10 minutes, but usually longer….if time permits! I am a mother, so sometimes time doesn’t permit. If you have other responsibilities, be flexible so you can still have your practice.

One morning my son was awake with the sparrows and so he joined me for meditation…it wasn’t what I had in mind, as I had wanted to be alone, but it worked fine, and allowed me to use my mantra of ‘acceptance’. So long as I get my 10 minutes, then ‘tick’.

2. Same time each day

For me it’s first thing in the morning, and although it wasn’t always easy, now I cannot go without it. Like I cannot leave the house without eating breakfast or brushing my teeth. It’s just non-negotiable and such a valuable part of beginning my morning.

3. Same place

If you have a cosy corner of your bedroom or lounge room, make that your space. Small is fine. It will gather a lovely vibe pretty quickly if you practice there each day!  If enough space, leave your yoga-mat or meditation cushion there….I also like to have warm blanket for the chilly mornings. But, I have to admit, I don’t worry about my yoga mat so much anymore. I used to think I couldn’t practice yoga without it, but then I realised I was creating a barrier. My place in the mornings is beside the window in my room, and I have my meditation cushion and blanket nearby; if I practice asana after my meditation, I do without my mat.

Have a ‘back up’ place also, in case that cosy corner is needed by other family members. For example I often go into my backyard in the early mornings. When I’m travelling I find a place that will be my ‘spot’ for the time. Eg, in a park, under a tree, near the beach, under a shelter…but needs to be within reasonable walking distance.  So long as you won’t be disturbed by others, or at least feel that you wouldn’t be distracted if you heard other people nearby.

4. Be prepared

If you plan an early morning practice, then think about it the night before. If you have what you need organised and nearby, there is less chance of accidently waking family members. Plus it’s hard to ‘chicken out’ when everything is all set.

In winter keep warm or you will be distracted. Rug up…scarf, beanie, extra blankets wrapped around waist/chest, explorer socks….Melbourne winter mornings can be really cold, but I no longer let that deter me! If outdoors wear shoes if it keeps your feet warm.  I’ve even practiced on chilly winter mornings with a blanket right over my head! Salute to sun as the beginning of practice brings lots of warmth. Extra padding needn’t stop you from moving your body!

In summer it’s a little easier!

5. Inspiration from classes

I find the best inspiration comes from things that I love so much that they remain in my memory. You could even take a pen & paper to class and write things down afterwards (probably not during class, unless it’s a workshop!)

If there is something from class that you love but can’t quite remember, please ask me (or those that attend other teachers, do ask your teacher, they are there to support you and your practice)! I love to be asked!

6. Other inspiration

Books, Dvds, Youtube, facebook, blogs, apps! There is so much information out there to get your inspired! The only risk is getting yourself overloaded. For that reason, books are my personal preference, because it takes me a lot longer to read and absorb the information.

A really excellent book on establishing a home practice….

Forty Days of Yoga: Breaking Down the Barriers to a Home Yoga Practice by Kara-Leah Grant.

Forty Days of Yoga: Breaking Down the Barriers to a Home Yoga Practice

And I do have lots more book recommendations, but I will save that for another time!

7. Record your practice

I highly recommend you keep a diary or notebook, so you can make notes of your practice as you go…..eg. what you practiced, how you felt? You may decide to stick with a particular practice such as seated meditation, or salute to the sun, and that helps bring a ‘rhythm’ to your practice.

Writing about it is really ideal, even if you just spend one minute afterwards. You could also write questions that you are unsure of and ask me (or your teacher) next class. Plus it keeps you accountable to yourself! AND it helps with Self-motivation!

There is also a great app that I recently added onto my phone, called ZenFriend….it’s fantastic because a)it’s free (although upgradable), b)it’s a timer with a peaceful chime, and c)it keeps track of each session and you can add a note.

There are lots more apps out there, but I look for the simple and easy ones, so that I’m not loosing valuable practice time looking at the app.

8. Reward yourself

Because you deserve it! After I reached 40 days using the guidance of Kara-Leah Grant’s book that I mentioned above, my reward to myself was booking myself in to do a reiki level one course…and I loved every second!

I hope you find some of my suggestions helpful! The final suggestion I will leave you with is the most simple and most helpful for me…because JOY allows everything to flow:

Enjoy your practice

Best wishes! Karen

Giving

This morning I loaded three big bags of groceries into my car, took my children into school, popped in to say good morning to their teachers, hugged them goodbye, and then returned to my car and then visited these lovely ladies at Anglicare……

Yes! I did my elf thing and took our donations in!

AA anglicare ladies

AA anglicare donations

Thank you to my students. It is so wonderful to be the elf and deliver our donations. I am so humbled by everyone’s generosity.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Wishing you and your family a peaceful and joyous Christmas and New Year

With Gratitude, Karen

Health-plus for your chakras

I am fascinated by all things to do with the chakras!

Recently I completed training for Reiki levels 1 & 2 with Maria of “Reiki Inspirations” …. yes I was truly inspired; reiki is amazing! And Maria is a beautiful soul and inspiring teacher.

Have you tried reiki? Its a natural form of healing. You can read more about what reiki is on Reiki Inspirations website here. It’s one of those things that you really need to experience for yourself, rather than listening to someone else’s experience!

Currently I am also studying Belinda Davidson’s level 1 course of ‘School of the Modern Mystic’. Did I mention that I love learning?!

The chakras are the energy centres within the body and above the crown of the head. Usually we focus on the main chakras, however there are also many more minor chakras spread throughout the body. These were ‘mapped’ by yogis in ancient times….and now modern science can tell us where each major nerve plexus is located within the body, and guess what?….they correspond to what the yogis thousands of years ago mapped out as the chakra system! Fascinating!

Do you have, or are you interested to have, awareness  your chakras?

Yoga practice helps, and when I say ‘yoga’ that includes meditation practice. Although as I have discussed with my students – meditation can be difficult sometimes because of the ‘monkey-mind’ thing!

That’s where yoga asana can be fantastic, flowing slowly and smoothly from one posture to another, or pranayama (breathwork), or there are a whole heap of other yogic practices that help to lead into the ‘meditative’ state.

Why are our chakras important?

Well each of the chakras governs an area of the body physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. For example the first chakra which is located at the base of the spine governs the legs, feet, being grounded in life, being stable, feeling supported, feeling part of a tribe, feeling that you receive what you need in life for your survival….. I could go on, there is so much to learn about each of the chakras!

When there is an ailment in the body, it can be traced to a chakra (or several), whether this be on the physical level or other level…for example – knee pain or foot pain may be linked to an imbalance in the first chakra. Ankle sprain? – what is going on in your life? Are you getting the support you need? Or if you are not feeling grounded, or if you are not feeling ‘at home’ where you live, it may be linked to an imbalance in the first chakra.

As Belinda Davidson says, and I feel it to be true:

“When your chakras work, your life works”

And this is why practices such as yoga, meditation, and reiki can help you feel balanced, centred, grounded, relaxed and peaceful – balancing and harmonising your chakras!  This is why I fell in love with my yoga practice.

Guided Chakra Cleanse by Belinda DavidsonI have been practicing this Guided Chakra Cleanse Meditation  by Belinda Davidson because it is part of my studies. It’s compulsory for me as part of my studies, but it has been so worthwhile.  It is truly an amazing guided meditation, and I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in the health of their chakras.

I will write more about my studies with the ‘School of the Modern Mystic’ one day soon, but for now I’m busy absorbing it all in. Like yoga, and like reiki, it’s about practice and experience.

Let me know if you download the Guided Chakra Cleanse, and if you do, how you go with the meditation! I always recommend meditation practice be in a seated position, but for this, it’s a little bit different; it runs for just over half an hour…. sometimes I lie down for it and just let it all sink in like a guided relaxation. If you want to be sure to stay awake, then seated is the best.

I would love to know how you go! Best wishes from Karen

 

Inspiring Peace, Peaceful Mothering Interview

My first reaction when Olga of Peaceful Mothering with Olga Dossa asked me to do an interview as part of her Inspiring Peace series was – wow!!…but I’m not sure, maybe my life is too ho-hum, maybe my peaceful mothering skills are not all that er…peaceful? Am I a wise woman? Then it dawned on me that I was holding a measuring stick of ‘perfectionism’ up against myself and that ‘peaceful’ and ‘perfect’ are two different things. And I much prefer the first of the two.

Also, I have been consistently inspired by Olga and her beautiful blog, so then to be invited to be a part of it….well it sort of knocked my socks off.

I am absolutely honoured to share this with you. You will learn a bit more about me and what inspires me. You will read about how yoga has influenced my ‘peaceful mothering skills’ and one of my favourite mantras. This is a mantra that absolutely works.

Hope you enjoy reading! Karen

http://olgadossa.com/inspiring-peace-conversations-with-wise-women-karen-buckland/

karen & sophie & james chocolaterie

Drifting into peaceful slumber…relaxation for your children

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My daughter is 9 years old. It doesn’t seem that long ago that she was born. Those first few precious moments and first days with her are imprinted so clearly in my memory, just like it was yesterday. I was awestruck just observing her tiny and sweet little being, wrapping her preciously, popping her into her cradle, and watching her peacefully sleeping.

She still sleeps very peacefully, but now with so many exciting things going on in her 9 year old life, sometimes falling asleep doesn’t happen so easily.

One night, she had some of her friends over for a sleepover. Both her and friends were very excited, and had spent the afternoon dancing around crazily, and then after dinner watching movies. Once they were all snug and settled into bed, I thought sleep would happen easily on account of the yawns and sleepy faces. The whispers and giggles went on for quite a while, and became louder and louder, and I realised that sleep just wasn’t happening!

So I popped into the room and asked if anyone would like to hear a nice relaxing yoga story. Yes, they did!

Here you will find “The Balloon Ride script” that I read to them….Guess what?…By the time I finished I realised they were all soundly asleep!

Wow! Powerful stuff. It took me about 10 minutes to read the script. It is from a book called “The Relaxation and Stress Reduction workbook for kids” by Shapiro, Sprague & McKay.

Sometimes this might help your child too….let me know how you go!

Hope your family sleeps peacefully tonight, goodnight!

Karen

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Be prepared to be inspired by these words from Gabrielle Bernstein

One of my favourite inspirational people is Gabrielle Bernstein, and this is one of my favourite talks on Youtube. I love the way she breaks it down. I love the way she shares what inspires her. How better to spend the next 16 minutes? Press play and you might just find a different perspective on living life.

I love contemplating those four things, they just make so much sense, and so short and sweet…they seem simple, yet in life all sorts of things get complicated and we tend to get a bit bogged down. Whenever I feel that bogged down feeling, I’m going to keep standing myself up and try my best to wipe of the mud, and focus on these four:

1. Be willing
2. Surrender
3. the F-word is forgiveness
4. Expect miracles

I love how she says “know the universe has your back”.
It’s true, I know I don’t always stop to think how supported I am. But I am supported, in so many ways. It’s about perspective!

I also love the words “share your truth”.
Listen to your heart (or as Gabrielle says her ‘ing’ or inner guide)…. and then share from your heart and see how things in life just seem to flow. See how sharing your passion and inspiration feels and you might be amazed.

Hope you enjoyed this… May you expect miracles 🙂
Karen

Yoga mat TLC

I respect my yoga mat. Each time I unroll it I’m reminded of the countless times I have stood/lay/balanced upon it as I’ve practiced. As I mentioned to a lovely student of mine, I quite often practice by the window in the sunshine, but it doesn’t really matter whereabouts I am, my mat is with me and that is my little space.

Here are my suggestions for “yoga mat TLC”….

1. Cleaning – I use a spray-bottle with water, vinegar, a drop of tea-tree essential oil, and a drop of lavender essential oil. The essential oils aren’t ‘essential’ but they are nice. If you just use water & vinegar, don’t worry about the vinegar smell as it will fade. Spray over mat, wipe down, maybe repeat, then allow to dry inside (not in the sun). You may be surprised how dirty the cloth ends up.

2. Keep Out of heat & sun – I have a Jade yoga mat which I love because it is both environmentally friendly and has great grip, however I need to keep it out of the sun. Please don’t leave your mat in a hot car.
(Another great thing about Jade is that they plant a tree for each mat purchased, so check them out online or in yoga shops if you are looking to invest in a new mat.)

3. And finally the best thing to show your mat how much you love it …… roll it out and practice yoga!
I promise you your mat won’t mind whether you do a series of challenging postures, rest your forehead down in Child’s pose, or lie in Shavasana.
A handy hint is to keep your mat nearby in a room where you are most likely to practice. Sometimes if I decide I would like to literally ‘roll’ out of bed in the morning and onto my mat – then I have it ready and unrolled the night before, right beside my bed, voila!

Happy yoga mat, and happy yogi!
Best wishes,
Karen
yogamats

The power of smile :)

Isn’t it funny how little things can be so powerful?
Try smiling right now for no reason at all 🙂

Breath in and SMILE
Breath out and RELAX

Yesterday I stumbled across a youtube clip – a guided meditation by a woman who smiles and smiles and smiles. I didn’t meditate along, I just sat and watched, amazed by her beautiful smile. Gosh, I thought, I would like to smile like that.

The day flew by and before I knew it the time was 3pm and almost time to collect my two sweetpeas from school. But hold on!… I thought… I was going to try that meditation with the smiling woman! I had about 10 minutes to spare, and didn’t bother trying to find the youtube clip again, and it turned out I didn’t need any commentary anyway. I just grabbed my meditation cushion and sat at the window, closing my eyes, bringing awareness to my breath, and simply….smiling 🙂

Wow!
I was so amazed at the effect, that after school I suggested to my daughter to give it a try, explaining how when you feel good, you smile….AND it can work the other way around too. Closing her eyes, she gave it a 3 second try, and then opened her eyes smiling happily at me.

You don’t even have to begin with anything to smile about!
Smiles are for free and they are wonderful.
Happy smiling!
Karen
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smilingsmyfavpic

A little home yoga practice inspiration for you

Lately I have been sharing some articles and videos… I’ve been sharing these on facebook, however I know several of my students aren’t facebook users, so this is especially for you guys!
I hope you get some inspiration to roll out that yoga mat, put on your leggings, maybe even switch on some calm/beautiful/motivational music, and practice.

Video – A gentle 20-minute morning (or anytime) yoga class – free
http://yogainternational.com/article/view/gentle-20-minute-morning-yoga-practice

Video – Another ‘morning’ class that can be done anytime – free, 20 minutes
http://yogainternational.com/article/view/morning-yoga-to-ignite-your-day

Video – A 2-minute clip by NZ Yoga teacher Kara-Leah

Article with pictures -‘Legs up the wall pose’ or I call it ‘vip’ for very important pose. Those students who attended my classes over the last few weeks will remember this one
http://yogainternational.com/article/view/restore-and-renew

Article with pictures – Excellent article with photos of some of my favourite poses….good for runners, good for everyone actually. (Yes, I know I have a lot of favourite poses!)
http://www.sheknows.com/health-and-wellness/articles/1023983/yoga-poses-for-runners

Article with pictures – Posture…awareness of great posture is not only good for you, but it tends to make you feel good…bonus! Enjoy this!
http://www.sheknows.com/health-and-wellness/articles/1022825/yoga-poses-that-improve-your-posture

Not long until I will resume teaching classes (30th Jan), so if you are planning to rebook and haven’t yet, please get in touch!
Best wishes, Karenyogaloveyogapic

Christmas time, peace, stillness and calm…. (yes those 4 can go together!)

Christmas time – it can be a crazy, busy time of year and a time when plenty of emotions, stress and anxiety can be stirred up also. First of all there is all the shopping; money, time, and brainpower required to figure it all out. Then there is the social side of Christmas which can go both ways; for some there is the juggling of fitting in all the invitations and making time to see family, for some it is the opposite and while everybody else is buzzing with social activities it can accentuate feelings of loneliness.

There is a third side of Christmas besides from the busy-ness of shopping and the socialising with family and friends. That is the peace, stillness and calm of Christmas. Yes, it’s true. Sometimes the first two are so full on, that number 3 gets a little overshadowed.

My yoga students will have heard me mention over the last few weeks how essential my yoga practice is to me especially at this time of year. There were a few conversations while yoga mats were being unrolled about how ‘busy’ people were feeling, yet the majority of students attended each week, committing to their weekly dose of yoga class, and some even letting me know how they had begun to find time at home to practice.

I always love hearing little stories about home practice – sometimes a student will tell me about lighting a candle as they practiced, or that they found 5 minutes before heading to work. Part of my ‘job’ is to encouraging home yoga practice, even if it makes me redundant – sounds a little funny! I still love attending yoga classes myself, and I’m sure I always will, but nothing matches how much I value my own practice.

The Yoga Sutras define yoga as “Yogas citta-vrtti-nirodhah” – Yoga is the slowing and stilling of the fluctuations of the mind.

How many fluctuations were going on, when I found myself in the middle of a huge store with a trolley full of things (even though I entered the store intending to just buy chrissy cards!), going through a list in my head of where else I could shop, what other gifts should I buy, what other grocery items do I need for Christmas, what about the children’s school Christmas parties, and how much money did I want to spend? Not to mention the bustle of other shoppers around me, lights, music, conversations.

I made it to the checkout, realising how long I was in there and feeling dazed by the fluro lighting, and resolved to let that be enough for one day, and to enjoy some fresh air and quietness instead.

It’s fine to buy gifts and get all excited about finding something really cute for your niece/daughter/friend….but in the end I remind myself that’s all the material side of things. There is another side of things and it’s not about how much money you spend or what you buy. In the end the question is – what do I give?….. I give more than money or material things…. I give my time, my patience, my attention, my love and care, and my listening ears.

In order to give these things out, I must have them first within me. Where do I get them from, as I didn’t see them in the BigW or target catalogue?! Where do you find things that money cannot buy?

For me it’s from my yoga practice.

I give myself time, patience, attention, love/self-care and I listen to my inner self. By giving to myself I learn to slow and still the fluctuations of my mind….and it’s a work in progress!! That is why I continue to practice.

I know Christmas morning is going to be fun in our household and I expect my two pumpkins will be awake very early to see what is under the tree. I will set my intention to wake before them (might be tricky but I will try!), and I will spend a moment gazing out at the quiet morning garden, listening to the morning sounds, breathing in the fresh morning air, and I will pause and feel peace, stillness and calm. It may be just a minute, or it may be 20 minutes, but whatever, I will be grateful for that moment.

I wish you peace, stillness and calm too!

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(picture source: www.zazzle.com.au)