How can we be kinder?

Ahimsa – non violence

 

“But of course!” I hear you say. “No one should be violent!”

Ahimsa is one of the first and most important of the yoga moral guidelines for how to act in society. (These are called the Yamas and Niyamas.)

At first it seems obvious, and almost needless to have this as a guideline, because “of course we shouldn’t be violent!” It should go without saying!

But the concept of Ahimsa is a little more subtle and the more we delve into it, the more we realise that we do still (often unknowingly) commit little acts of harm to others and ourselves in daily life.

 

Little harmful acts

I’m not even going to go into the obvious violence which we all avoid (99.99% of us anyway). However, there are little ways in which our thoughts and actions can harm others as well.

I am by NO means a saint in this area. I have noticed that since becoming a mum, that my emotional buffer zone is soooo much thinner, and I often snap and say snide things to my husband. These are definitely little harmful acts! Can you relate?

Just like our actions and words, our thoughts can also be a source of harm to others, even if we don’t speak them out. Any form of judgemental or unkind thought is, in a way, a little bit of harm sent to the individual to whom it applies. Hands up if you catch yourself having these thoughts…. 🙋‍♀️

Gossiping, as benign as it sounds, is an age-old way to harm someones reputation. That fun bit of gossip therefore also takes you away from living a life in alignment with Ahimsa. 

Perpetuating cultural beliefs that cause discrimination and disenfranchisement to others (even indirectly, and even if you are not the one doing the discrimination), is also a harmful act. Often we don’t even realise this! This is true for views we may hold (sometimes subconsciously!) about particular groups in society, and even sometimes about ourselves! (E.g. older adults being ‘ageist’ and women putting down other women as ‘bad drivers’). 

Can you think of any examples in your mind/life?

I know this can be a painful exercise….!

 

Ahimsa for yourself

You are also a living being who deserves love and care. This makes Ahimsa a subtle and complicated thing to live by fully! It is often a balancing act of caring for others as well as ourselves!

One very pertinent example in my mind right now is parents being caring to themselves as well as their children. Parents can harm themselves unwittingly by forsaking their own needs for sleep, good nutrition, exercise and a social life.

Without adequate self-care (the absence of which could be seen as self-harm), parents aren’t as able to care for their children in a kind, happy and patient way. As the old saying goes “happy mum, happy baby!”

Parenting aside, there are lots of little ways in which we harm ourselves:

Drinking too much too regularly…

Not addressing the work stress that is creeping up on you…

Saying ‘yes’ too often when that particular ask will thwart your own needs.

Forsaking your own need to exercise!

Or pushing too hard during exercise so that you get injured…

…Can you think of more that are relevant for you?

 

Beating yourself up!

Now, once you have identified how you are harming yourself, the tricky thing is to not beat yourself up about it! (That’s also violence to the self!)

This is DEFINITELY my problem. I beat myself up about things All THE TIME.  This is something I have to work on.

If, like me, you need to take better care of yourself, try to recognise the ways in which you deserve more care, try not to judge or criticise yourself, and think about how you can take actionable steps to achieve this.

(Maybe you need to ask others for more help with your responsibilities!)

 

Food and Ahimsa

Some people apply the principle of Ahimsa in the way that they eat food. Ahimsa is often equated to vegetarianism or veganism, in order to do less harm to animals and the planet. I think this is a noble act, as it requires people to choose others’ wellbeing over their own.

Personally, I don’t walk that path, as I recognise that for my own health (therefore non-violence to my own body), I need the nutrients found in animal products.

HOWEVER, the way in which animal products are sourced and consumed can be done in a way which causes less harm. I.e. Only consuming local, non-factory farm options and making a concerted effort to not contribute to plastic packaging with the foods you buy.

In fact, this applies to all types of food, animal or plant! 

 

Balancing act

So, far from a simplistic view of “not being violent”, living fully in Ahimsa is a complicated balancing act. It requires a lot of careful introspection, as well as very conscious efforts to choose the actions which cause the least harm to others and the planet, but which also help YOU not to harm yourself either! 

Does that make your head spin when you read it? 🥴

Well, it’s a constant balancing act for us all, and we are all learning and evolving constantly. So, be kind to yourself if you feel you have a long way to go on this path…

Let’s practice this!

This week try to pause or a few seconds before you respond to someone/something/anything. And think…. “how can I respond in a way that will result in the least harm around me?”

Also…

I invite you to pick a few ways in which you can care a bit better for your own body and soul this week.

Maybe that’s doing a yoga class, having a bath, or perhaps not drinking wine…

(You may need to get someone else on board to help you with this!)

❤️

I hope you enjoyed my ramblings today. 🤓 Please feel free to add your comments below!

Love,

Jolanthe x

Strength, Posture & Mindfulness

I’ll help you gain body confidence and contentment

with short, easy-to-follow yoga classes from your LIVING ROOM!

On-demand and LIVE

Check out what I offer!

I’m a Small Business

Give yourself the gift of self-care for a super affordable price, while supporting an independent, small business!

I enjoy getting to know each and every new yoga student – so can’t wait to meet you!

Love, Jolanthe x


Scarcity to Abundance

Scarcity to Abundance

I’ve struggled a lot with a scarcity mindset. I’ve…

Felt food envy when I saw a bigger portion on someone else’s plate…

(Yet, in reality, I have never experienced actual food poverty!)

Felt a sense of competition with/ jealousy of other yoga teachers…

(Yet, in reality, there are millions of people out there who are not yet practicing yoga, so plenty of students to go around!)

Felt anxiety about finances, however much money I have in the bank…

(Yet, in reality, I never struggle to afford the essentials in my life).

Etc. etc. etc.

Can you relate? 🥴

 

Your mind creates your reality

What I’ve been learning through my own journey of yoga and mindfulness, is that thinking with a scarcity mindset will create/perpetuate scarcity in your life.

For example, if I continue to feel anxious about money and never invest in my business because of it, then my business will never grow and produce more income for me!

Can you think of a relevant example for you?

 

Abundance starts with ourselves

Since taking the plunge from having a ‘proper job’ (i.e. contractual with a monthly salary!), to my entrepreneurial life, I have been reading all I can find about an abundance mindset. You can probably see why!! 😆

What I have been learning is that it starts with consciously opening yourself up to receiving abundance… to believe abundance is out there… and to visualise it flowing through you.

In this process, it is helpful to see our universe as abundant. Not only that, but to understand that it (the universe/ insert any word here that make more intuitive sense to you) WANTS you to live an abundant life.

We need to start living with abundance before any ‘external’ abundance falls upon us. (i.e. Winning the lottery!) We need to stop hoarding our resources (objects, food, time, energy and money), and to give them with abundance to help those around us and to invest in our own special gifts that enable us to improve the lives of others.

Living with abundance (non-hoarding) will transform how you interact with the world around you, and in so doing you will attract others who return your energy in some other abundant way.

And so the cycle will go on!

 

There are no losers…

Abundance is created in the flow of energy, resources, time, kindness, ideas etc. between all living beings. The more we all exchange this energy, the more abundance is created for all of us. (Like a well-functioning economy!)

This takes us away from thinking that life is a zero-sum game. A zero-sum game mindset would make us believe that when someone else gains, you lose out, and vice versa. Such a mindset stagnates the exchange of energy, resources, ideas and time, and actually reduces EVERYONES productivity.

However, if everyone functions from the mindset of abundance, there are no losers!

 

Wiser words than mine

I have by no means mastered the concept and application of an abundance mindset. It’s something I am constantly working on. I very often still hear the little gremlin voices in my head whispering thoughts of scarcity, lack and fear!

So I will offer you some words from someone MUCH wiser than me…. Deepak Chopra. Deepak is both learned in ancient Indian spirituality as well as a Clinical Professor of Family Medicine and Public Health at the University of California. These are some of his words about abundance:

        “Many of us live and operate from a mindset of lack, scarcity, and limitation. We focus on what we don’t have—financial security, confidence, an intimate relationship—which keeps us feeling insecure and inadequate. We think ‘if only I could have those things, I could be happy.’ “

        “But constantly striving for more often means our ego is driving our thoughts, actions, and reactions, preventing us from reaching something greater: a true sense of inner peace, acceptance, and fulfilment. And these internal experiences allow us to access the great riches of the universe and life’s unbounded possibilities.”

(Learn more about Deepak Chopra here: https://www.deepakchopra.com)

Let’s practice this!

I invite you to pick a yoga class.

…and to allow yourself a 5-10 minute Shavasana at the end.

(If you chose one of my classes, perhaps pause it during the Shavasana so you have as much time as you like).

As you lie down, place your hands on you belly or chest, or one hand on each.

Breathe deeply and slowly and repeat these sentences to yourself:

(In your mind, or out loud – your choice!)

“Abundance flows through me”

“The universe is abundant”

“I am open to receive abundance”

(Or another short phrase that feels more natural to you). 

❤️

Let’s open the diary and plan in when you will do this! 

(As all time-management experts will tell you, something will only happen if you schedule it in officially!)

I hope you enjoyed my ramblings today. 🤓

Strength, Posture & Mindfulness

I’ll help you gain body confidence and contentment

with short, easy-to-follow yoga classes from your LIVING ROOM!

On-demand and LIVE

Check out what I offer!

I’m a Small Business

Give yourself the gift of self-care for a super affordable price, while supporting an independent, small business!

I enjoy getting to know each and every new yoga student – so can’t wait to meet you!

Love, Jolanthe x


Welcoming Spring

Spring is Here!

Has it been a long winter for you? It has for me! 🥴

The months of January and February always seem like loooong, daaaaaark months to me.

We are all different in how we adjust to the seasons. Some of us love the cozy winter, some love the sense of change in autumn, some love the freshness of spring, and some love the heat and energy of summer! (And of course most of us dislike some of these seasons too!)

FYI, I’m a Summer person (If you hadn’t guessed already)! That’s when I feel myself physically and mentally thriving.

What are you?

 

Warm and protected

In winter it’s normal to hunker down and put on warm, protective layers (both physically and mentally)!

Many of us do this by closing the curtains on the dark evenings, getting cozy on the sofa and watching something you love on the television.

Aryuveda, the yogic ‘life science’, describes winter as being a Kapha-heavy time. (See here for a previous blog describing the Aryuveda dosha types.)

So, don’t feel bad about having enjoyed the following over winter:

  • Heavy and warm food!
  • Lots of rest!
  • Being slow to change habits
  • Long evenings socialising inside with friends

These are Kapha qualities that we all indulge in a little more over the winter months.

However…. times are a-changing!

 

Time to shed that layer!

The turning point between winter and spring is here, the Spring Equinox.

With this change we can start to slowly open up and and shed these protective layers and become open to new, unexpected and wonderful opportunities!

In Aryuvedic-terms, this season is linked with Vata qualities. (Again, see here for a description of Vata).

This is a time of change, movement, fresh air and creativity!

But you may not feel like that now… (I certainly don’t yet!)

Once the daffodils start popping out of the ground and the cherry blossom is out, it’ll get you into that spring mood.

So, even if right now you feel tired, stuffy, inactive (maybe, like me, you’re ill…), take a moment to close your eyes and visualise all this new, fresh creative energy of spring, and welcome it into your body via your breath.

 

A little help to get you there…

To help you make this transition, I’ve created a special video class that focusses on the transition into spring. 🤗

In this class we focus on chest opening poses, and poses which give you a sense of lift and light.

It’s an uplifting yoga class! 🌿☀️

Follow this video class whenever you feel stuffy, weighed down and in need of some positivity!

 

How do I access this class?

If you are a Bendywife Yoga member, you can find it in the ‘Specials’ category.

Have a look at the preview now, and plan it in for later! 🤓

If you’re not part of the BendyTribe, I’d love to introduce you to it! Find out more about what I have to offer here.

 

I hope you enjoy this class!

Love,

Jolanthe x

Strength, Posture & Mindfulness

I’ll help you gain body confidence and contentment

with short, easy-to-follow yoga classes from your LIVING ROOM!

On-demand and LIVE

Check out what I offer!

I’m a Small Business

Give yourself the gift of self-care for a super affordable price, while supporting an independent, small business!

I enjoy getting to know each and every new yoga student – so can’t wait to meet you!

Love, Jolanthe x


Buddah Mind

Yes, thanks

What if every moment could bring you happiness?

 

Isn’t it frustrating when things don’t go the way you were hoping?

  • When you’re stuck inside because it’s raining… 😒
  • When you are ill and cannot attend that exercise class you love… 😔
  • When your child is ill and needs to come home from nursery/school? 🥵
  • When your flight is cancelled? 🤬

I could go on (and I’m sure you could think of a huge list too!)

 

Budda mindset

What if we could be happy, regardless of what life throws at us?

According to Buddhist monks the key to happiness lies in surrendering, with acceptance, to whatever the present moment has gifted you.

The Vietnamese Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh (11 October 1926 – 22 January 2022), was known as the ‘father of mindfulness’ and for teaching the lesson of saying ‘Yes, and thank you’, to all that the present moment brought.

Now, of course, it’s easier said than done! We are not monks!

However, we can work at coming just a TINY bit closer to the level of mindfulness and surrender that the Buddhist monks have mastered.

 

Practicing acceptance

I’m not writing this blog from the viewpoint of someone who has mastered this. I am JUST as quick to get annoyed as anyone else!!

This ‘acceptance of the present, regardless of what it brings’, is something I am working on. And I will have to keep working my whole life!

There are a few examples that I can draw on from my own circumstances where I could bring in this mindset:

 

I have a STINKING cold right now.

Because of it, I am taking it a little easier on exercise and giving myself some slack with how productive I am. I could think ‘Yes, thanks’ for having this cold, as it has offered me the reason to take some rest. (Well, as much rest as life with a young toddler can give….).

When I am better again, I will be able to say ‘Thanks’ to the cold for making me appreciate the feeling of functioning at 100% again!

 

Nursery illnesses (related to the point above!)

Some of you may know that our 16 month old toddler just started nursery! And, those who have experienced this transition will also know that this brings a new virus EVERY week! And the need to look after an ill child when you have lots of work to do.

To be honest, this has been a big source of frustration. 🥵

However, what I have been working on is being thankful for the snuggly moments it has given me with Ashley, who wants to cuddle and breastfeed all day long when he’s ill. Everyone tells me this time goes fast, and I believe them!

 

A difficult yoga pose!

Of course I need to mention a yoga-related example too! When I am practicing poses that are difficult for me (e.g. Wheel and Crow pose) I try to say ‘yes please and thank you’ to the physical discomfort it creates in my body.

 

What are your recent examples?

Can you think of ‘gifts’ the present has brought you recently, which could be viewed from a different perspective?

 

Gratitude for the small things 

It goes without saying that we should also say ‘Yes and thanks’ to all the more obviously joyful things that happen to us! However, this generally comes quite naturally.

Even so, it’s important to be consciously grateful for the small, beautiful things in life:

A beautiful sunset

A delicious meal

Time socialising with friends

An un-interrupted hour of yoga! 😆

 

Emotional wellbeing

Scientific researchers have been investigating whether gratitude is useful for physical and mental health over the last decades (Jans-Beken, 2020). 

In a large literature review, Jans-Beken et al. (2020) concluded that there is good evidence that both a personality disposition of being grateful (trait gratitude) and intentionally calling up gratitude in specific situations (state gratitude) are associated with better emotional wellbeing. They also found that having a grateful disposition was associated with lower chances of more serious physcho-pathologies (depression, anxiety and stress).

These findings ring true for me on an intuitive level. What about you?

 

Honouring your feelings

I couldn’t finish this blog without mentioning that when difficult things happen in life, and when you feel emotions such as sadness and anger, these are all valid! You are allowed to feel these feelings, and some stuff that happens to us is truly sh**!

I don’t want to accidentally bring across a message that whatever you are feeling, you should be happy!

The act of plastering on a smile and denying our difficult feelings is called ‘Toxic Positivity’, and doesn’t help anyone process what they’re going through.

The life skill is to allow yourself these feelings, acknowledge that they are present, and then, once you’re ready, try to say ‘yes please’ to all the unexpected things that have come along with this difficult situation. 🙏

 

So, let’s practice this!

This week, I invite you to consciously say (maybe out loud or internally) ‘Yes please, and thanks’, to a difficult situation that arises.

It doesn’t have to be a major incident! (I hope not for you!)

It could be the smallest thing that doesn’t go your way, but that gets under your skin.

 

Practice this during yoga?

Another way you could practice this is to get on your yoga mat at home! Find a virtual class to follow, or practice by yourself.

Whenever you encounter physical or psychological discomfort, think ‘Yes please, and thanks’.

Poses in which this could arise are plank/side plank/chataranga, hip openers, shoulder strengthening balance poses, or deep back-bends!

Let’s open the diary, and plan in your next practice… 🙏

 

Reference

Jans-Beken, L., Jacobs, N., Janssens, M., Peeters, S., Reijnders, J., Lechner, L., & Lataster, J. (2020). Gratitude and health: An updated review. The Journal of Positive Psychology15(6), 743-782.

Thank you for reading my blog!

If you feel moved to try some yoga yourself (even if you are a complete beginner), then you can have a go at trying some on-demand classes completely for FREE!

Love,

Jolanthe Xx

Strength, Posture & Mindfulness

I’ll help you gain body confidence and contentment

with short, easy-to-follow yoga classes from your LIVING ROOM!

On-demand and LIVE

Check out what I offer!

I’m a Small Business

Give yourself the gift of self-care for a super affordable price, while supporting an independent, small business!

I enjoy getting to know each and every new yoga student – so can’t wait to meet you!

Love, Jolanthe x


You are an onion!

You are an onion!

Huh?! I hear you say. 🤔

Well, this is a metaphor for an idea in yoga philosophy which I find really inspirational.

Let me explain…

 

The Koshas

In yoga philosophy, living beings are seen to be made up of layers – like an onion! There are 5 layers, starting from the most superficial:

– The physical body (annamaya kosha)

– The breath/energetic body (pranamaya kosha)

– The mind/thinking body (manomaya kosha)

– The emotional/wisdom body (vijnanamaya kosha)

– The bliss body/true self (anandamaya kosha or purusha)

 

We are a lampshade!

Another lovely metaphor used in the book ‘Teaching Yoga Beyond the Poses’ is that when all our layers are in harmony, we shine, like a lamp, with intricately cut-out shades all in alignment.

Conversely, if out of alignment, our inner light is a little dimmed by one of these lampshades that might be stuck in a funny position.

 

Purusha – true self

The inner most layer is our Purusha, the core of the onion, the light inside the lampshade.

A concept that has helped me in times when I’ve felt very blue is that our Purusha (true self) is separate from the layers surrounding it. So in fact…

We are not our bodies.

We are not our energy levels.

We are not our thoughts.

We are not our emotions.

 

How this helps us

This is helpful to contemplate when you’re having a difficult time with one of these layers. For instance, if you’re going through depression or having unwanted thoughts, it can help to contemplate for a quiet moment how your inner light/your true self, is not defined by these emotions or thoughts.

Similarly, if your physical body is going through a difficult time, perhaps Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or another illness, then meditating on the idea that this physical layer does not define your inner light/your true self can also be helpful.

Personally, I love this concept!

I often work on visualising a bright inner light in my chest while I’m lying in Shavasana (this is the final relaxation pose at the end of a yoga practice, in case you’re new here).

 

We are all connected

There is another aspect about the inner light/purusha/true self which I find really comforting when I am feeling disconnected and lonely.

It is said that our inner light (you could call it spirit) is part of the Devine/the universal energy/give it whatever name you want!

The most beautiful aspect for me is that the inner light in all of us is connected, between us all, and with all living beings.

 

The danger of loneliness

Before I taught yoga and fitness full-time, I worked as an academic researcher and my topic for a long time was loneliness.

What I learned from my own research and reading countless scientific studies on the topic, is that the feeling of isolation (loneliness) is a serious health hazard. One large study, which pooled data from many other studies, concluded that loneliness was as hazardous as smoking 15 cigarettes a day (Holt-Lunstad et al., 2010).

Eeeek! 😬

 

An uplifting visualisation 

This is another reason why I love the philosophy of Koshas and the Purusha so much.

Even when you are physically alone, you could gain a sense of connection though the following meditation/visualisation (I like to do this one in Shavasana too):

Visualise your purusha/inner self/true self as a bright light, and then visualise strands of light connecting your inner light with the inner light of the others in hour house… yoga class… street… town… country… then world!

It is really up lifting. 😊

 

So, let’s visualise this!

I invite you to pick an on-demand video class, and to PAUSE it during the Shavasana! (Probably best to pick a non-music version).

Then lie in stillness, visualising your bright inner light, and perhaps also visualising how you are connected through your purusha with everyone else in your house, street, town, country… world!

This will truly make you feel warm and fuzzy. 🥴❤️

Let’s open the diary, and plan in your next practice… 🙏

Thank you for reading my blog!

If you feel moved to try some yoga yourself (even if you are a complete beginner), then you can have a go at trying some on-demand classes completely for FREE!

Love,

Jolanthe Xx

Strength, Posture & Mindfulness

I’ll help you gain body confidence and contentment

with short, easy-to-follow yoga classes from your LIVING ROOM!

On-demand and LIVE

Check out what I offer!

I’m a Small Business

Give yourself the gift of self-care for a super affordable price, while supporting an independent, small business!

I enjoy getting to know each and every new yoga student – so can’t wait to meet you!

Love, Jolanthe x