Your Personal Truth

Your Personal Truth

How to be a decent human being…

 

Yoga is not all about the poses we make. I’m sure you know this by now!

One of the key aspects of practicing a ‘yogic life’ is to adhere to some yogic principles called the Yamas and Niyamas. These are essentially a type of 10 commandments guiding you in how to be a decent human being.

 

And we all want to be decent, right?

Today I’ll talk about the second Yama (there are 5 Yamas and 5 Niyamas), which is called Satya: meaning truthfulness.

Satya is about being truthful to everyone around you, and to yourself, in thought and deed. Seems pretty simple, right? Well, there’s a catch…

 

Living your Truth

“How does yoga help me live my truth?”

A physical yoga practice allows you to slow down your thoughts about the world around you. Then you can focus, maybe for a blissful 30 minutes (or 10 minutes!) on your breath, your body and your mind.

This may seem obvious, but in our busy, busy, busy world, many of us NEVER stand back and take a moment to connect with ourselves. It is quite normal to forget about ourselves for months on end. Only to realise when you crash with an illness or mental breakdown that you didn’t connect with yourself and your needs.

 

Clearing the Fog

Eventually, a regular mindful yoga practice starts to clear the fog of ‘busy-ness’ in the mind. In time, it allows you to see a little more clearly who YOU are, what makes you tick, your strengths and your challenges. Without judgement.

This is also one of the aspects of a yogic life, named Svadhyaya: A deep and on-going self-enquiry.

When you regularly re-connect with your body, breath and mind, then it becomes easier to ‘live your truth’.

 

Choose to be Kind…

However, there is a twist!

One caveat in the application of Satya is that truthfulness must come second to non-harm. Non-harm is the first, and arguably the most important, of the Yamas and Niyamas: called Ahimsa.

For a deeper discussion of Ahimsa, read my previous blog about it here.

Here are a few examples when kindness may need to trump truthfulness:

  • When a very self-conscious person asks for an opinion about their appearance. It would be kind to exaggerate how amazing they are looking! (Even it that’s not 100% truthful).
  • When someone made a mistake, but the moment has now passed. RESISTING saying “I told you so” is the kinder, yet less truthful path.
  • If someone has a strong faith in something, yet you disagree. The kindest thing is not to argue with them about it, despite your personal truth being different.

Can you think of examples in your own life?

 

Let’s practice this!

I invite you to take just 10-15 minutes each day to reflect on you, your body and your mind.

You DON’T need to ask yourself ‘What is my truth?”. Instead, try to become aware of what is already going on in your body and mind.

Just observe for now.

Try not to judge.

How to do this

This can take the form of sitting quietly, doing your own yoga movements OR…

You could join my 28-day Happy Hips Challenge!

This involves just 15 minutes a day.

It will give you a perfect opportunity to reconnect with your body and mind each day.

Your hips will thank you!

Join the Challenge!

I hope you enjoyed this mini blog. 🤓

Please share your views in comments below!

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


Kindle your Fire

Tapas – not the Spanish kind…

 

Mmmm… Did that make you think of olives and cheesy potatoes?

I always get a giggle in my yoga classes when I say that!

However, the Sanskrit concept of Tapas is very different from indulging in delicious Spanish food. In fact, it comes quite close to being the opposite.

 

Kindling your inner fire

Can you think of times when you’ve felt sluggish and heavy? Times when you found it reeeeeally difficult to get your body moving or to get started with a work/house project?

This was a time when you could have used some Tapas! (…not the food…)

Tapas is one of the Yamas from the 8 limbs of Ashtanga Yoga created by Patanjali, a fore-father of yogic philosophy. (There are 5 Yamas and 5 Niyamas – and these are like 10 ways of how to be a decent human being!)

Tapas is all about putting in the work. Getting a little uncomfortable. ‘Feeling the burn’ or missing out on some indulgences. Tapas is about kindling the inner fire – or ‘Agni’ in Sanskrit.

But why should we set our insides on fire??? (Figuratively speaking)

 

Fire of Transformation

The purpose of Tapas is to create transformation physically, mentally or spiritually – or all three!

A few examples are:

  • A body transformation could look like increasing fitness, building muscle or aiding digestion.
  • A mental transformation could look like burning through old habit patterns to create new, healthy ones.
  • Spiritual transformation could look like gaining a whole new perspective on life and happiness.

 

Tapas in a yoga class

I LOVE using this concept in my yoga classes.

Exercise is one of the most obvious ways of creating the internal fire. Therefore, to encourage Tapas, I like to lead my students through poses that will get them nice a sweaty and get their thighs burning.

In such classes I often use poses which require students to exercise some determination and push their fear boundaries (e.g. an arm balance like Crow Pose).

 

How would Tapas help you?

Is there something that you have resistance against? Something that would help you, but you just can’t find the energy or will-power to do it?

For example:

  • Starting that DIY project
  • Meeting a work deadline
  • Starting to run once or twice a week for exercise
  • Loosing a few pounds (ps. I’m a fan of healthy eating, not calorie counting!)
  • Attending my Sunday morning LIVE yoga class…. 😜

Can you think of your own example? Well, THAT is the thing that requires Tapas for you! And the important question to ask yourself is…

Are you wiling to ignite YOUR inner fire of transformation, to make this change?

If you are, read on!

 

Accepting discomfort

For you to make this change, it will require some discomfort (e.g. muscle ache) and a sacrifice of some comforts (e.g. sacrificing a weekend lie-in, or a pudding every night of the week).

THAT is Tapas.

And the more set in your ways you are, the harder it can be to endure the Tapas of change, the inner fire required for change.

BUT! Once you understand that inner fire is necessary to create the transformation you’re seeking, then the uncomfortable feeling of it might be easier to accept. You might feel that discomfort, that burning and, rather than backing off, you might think “this burn is good for me, it will transform me”.

And once you have ignited the fire of Tapas, it will help you carry on with that activity that you need for your transformation. It’s like a fire: difficult to get started, but once a-blaze, it will carry-on burning strongly!

 

Knowing when to back off

OK, OK, OK, so inner fire is a good thing. However…

Just like any power in this world, Tapas can be used for good or for bad!

You might come across situations where, actually, the best thing for you to do is to back-off. This is the case when you’re injured or too exhausted, or when the building blocks of something aren’t right.

Tapas should be used together with the two Niyamas ‘Svadhyaya’ and ‘Ishvara pranidhana’. Together they echo the Serenity Prayer:

“Grant me the courage to change what I can (Tapas), the serenity to accept what I can’t change (Ishvara Pranidhana), and the wisdom to know the difference (Svadhyaya)”.

Sourced from the book: Yoga Beyond the Poses, p. 63.

Ready to BURN? 🔥

Are YOU ready to kindle your inner fire?

To help you on your way, I’d like to invite you to practise a few of my strength themed classes this week!

Whether it’s a 10-minute class, 30-minutes or a full hour – doesn’t matter.

Just. Get. Moving.

Open your diary, and plan it in!

❤️

I hope you enjoyed my ramblings. 🤓

I’d love to hear your views in comments below!

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


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


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