Yoga practice of the day – confidence!

I suffered from shyness and lack of self-confidence for years, so I know what I’m talking about!

Stand tall

‘Your playing small does not serve the world – you need to stand tall.’

Stand (without shoes) with feet apart and parallel.  feel the weight going down through the heels, the toes free to move.  Feel the weight balanced between both feet.

Have the knees soft (not bent) the thighs strong.  Tailbone tucked under.

Let the spine rise.  Here is where you notice if you are slumping.  Feel the crown of the head rising, the shoulders drop (down, not forward), the chin down so that you are looking ahead.  Release any tension in the jaw.

Find a spot in front of you and focus on that spot.

Breathe in and out through the nose.

Say to yourself: ‘I am strong, I am tall, I am important’.

Philosophical note

It is natural for people to focus on themselves and to imagine that others are focussing on them also – but we need to realise that the focus of others is generally on themselves.  They are not watching every word you say, waiting for you to slip up: they are focussing on their own stuff.

In yoga practices tend towards transcending this focus on the ego.  Doing this brings about a sense of oneness with the universe and helps overcome shyness and self-consciousness.

To this end, practise chanting the mantra OM – either out loud or in your mind.  Or you can write it down.


Yoga Practice of the Day – Strength and Power

This is particularly with women in mind as we can often feel physically ‘inferior’, vulnerable or powerless – but it can equally work for men.  Strength comes from within and is not related to ‘muscle power’ or superiority of weapons – in fact, these are most often indicators of weakness.  let’s start with the physical:

Tadasana – Standing pose

This is best done without shoes.  Place the feet apart and parallel, the weight balanced between both feet.  Take the weight slightly towards the heels so the toes are free to move.  Let the knees be soft, not locked, the tailbone tucked under.  Feel the spine rising up through the neck so the top of the head rises towards the sky.  Relax the shoulders, the arms hanging and the fingers gently curled.

Breathe through the nose.  Feel yourself grounded in the earth.  This is a strong standing pose: in this position you are not easy to move.

Repeat to yourself the phrase: ‘I am grounded in this earth.’

In this position you are flexible, free to sway to right or left, back or forth, but not easily shifted by another person.

Try this experiment: have another person try to push you gently from the side in this position.  Now stand stiff, arms and legs held stiffly as in a military pose.  Have the person do the same thing.  Observe the results.

Hari OM

Yoga practice of the day – strength and serenity when feeling under attack

(I’m going to continue to put these up as they occur to me but no more ‘normal’ blogging till Sept)

First of all I ought to say, I’m not very good at this, so this practice is for me as much as anyone.  We can feel under attack in many situations – at home, at work, with friends or even in public places.  Often these ‘attacks’ come out of the blue – and it is when we are least prepared for them that they can hurt the most.  We can end up feeling defensive and trying to justify our own course of action.  Here’s how I try to deal with these situations:

  • Accept and acknowledge the hurt.  Cry, scream or talk it out with a (neutral) friend if you need to, concentrating on your feelings rather than the perceived rights and wrongs of the case.
  • Acknowledge that you may have been wronged.  Accept that there may be positive ways of dealing with this but that for now, you need to deal with your own feelings before proceeding.  Any communication made in a spirit of feeling wronged and hurt, is unlikely to be productive
  • Accept (this is the hardest for me) that even communication undertaken in the most positive spirit may elicit a negative or aggressive reaction.  This is hard to deal with and you can end up feeling aggrieved and hard-done-by.

Yoga practices to help

  1. Detachment.  This is not a cold disengagement but a ‘stepping-back’.  Visualise yourself taking a step back from the situation, see yourself as separate from it.
  2. Having owned your feelings,(this is important) take a step back from them as well.  See yourself as separate from them.  Say to yourself something like ‘I am not these feelings’.
  3. Practise some yoga breathing.  Hands on abdomen, breathe in and out through the nose and observe the movement under the hands
  4. As you breathe, repeat to yourself the phrase ‘I am’ – or if you prefer, ‘so ham’ (Sanskrit version)
  5. Visualise the situation dissolving or resolving, whichever seems appropriate.  NB avoid visualising or thinking about revenge.  The other person’s karma means that their actions will come back to them and you need not trouble yourself about them.  (This also means that any negative thoughts or actions will come back to you!)
  6. Finally, repeat the word ‘peace’ or the mantra ‘Om shantih’

Om shantih.

Farewell for the present

I may be taking a break from this blog.  I’m sensing it’s getting a bit stale and we all need to do something else for a while.  Back in Sept probably.  I’ll leave you with a poem and a story:


Beer on flight

we’re all right

Dennis drinks –



and the story:

is from Laurie Lee’s ‘Cider with Rosie’.  On his first day at school, the teacher said to him, ‘you sit there for the present’.  He went home in tears, and said to his mother: ‘They said there were going to be a present – and I sat there all day and they didn’t give me nothing!’ (I’m quoting from memory).  On my first day of teacher training, they told us this story as a warning to Mind Your Language.

Remember that series?  Bloody crap.

Enough now!!

Am I who? Am I what? Am I where?

Woke up at seven feeling completely disoriented (I never know whether to say ‘disoriented’ or ‘disorientated’ – what’s the difference?).  Mark wasn’t there; sleeping in Holly’s bed due to some penis-related problem the details of which I won’t trouble you with; Holly’s at Hesfes, Daniel’s in his heaven and what the hell’s going on with the world.  I couldn’t remember where I was (vicarage in Hounslow?) what day it was (had to look at the calendar and I have to tell you it still doesn’t feel like a Wednesday.  I’m not even going to say ‘never could get the hang of Wednesdays); what had happened recently (I’ve been at the chalet, it’s just coming back) and even what time of year it was – although I was vaguely aware of it being summer, I had no idea which of the summer months it might be.  Had we been on holiday yet?

Ah, there’s the rub.  For, gentle reader, I have to tell you that I am beginning to feel the strong need for a holiday and, alas, sans funds with which to book one.  Normally we cobble one together, sometimes with the help of a generous relative, but so far nothing.  The West Country would be good, then we could combine with a visit to les Fegent.  Or even Sussex to relive bits of my childhood.  So there we are.  Send us positive thoughts or prayers if you have any.

Today I will be mostly… doing stuff with Daniel and some marking/prep for teacher training.

Kirk out.


Changed the theme of the blog to something rather drastically dark, lived with it a few hours and decided I didn’t like it.  Tried to change it only to find it as impenetrable as a black box with no lid.  Couldn’t see anywhere to log in at all.  Finally had the idea of going to wordpress central and logging in there, which fortunately worked.  As you can tell.

Feeling much more encouraged today.  Nothing worthwhile was ever achieved without persistence.

Here’s a poem which came to me, first thing this morning:

There is nothing

one can do

three is something

one and two.

This might appear a piece of whimsical nonsense but it is more than that.  It is playing with words and ideas – chiefly the idea of numbers – one, two, three – and nothing.  The first phrase came to me in connection with I don’t know what – some problem I was trying to work out, I expect – and then the second two lines as a response to the first.  ‘Three’ is an anagram of ‘there’, ‘something’ stands in opposition to ‘nothing’, and ‘one and two’ neatly rhyme with ‘one can do’ as well as adding up to three.  So you see – it’s not just thrown together.

Off to the chalet soon.  I see it is now ten past seven.  For reasons best known to themselves, the bus company don’t run a bus at 8.15 so I will have to get the 9.15.  Except that I have to go to the bank first.  Will I make it?

Yeah.  No problem.  If I’m outside the bank when they open.  Banks open at 9 these days, right?

OK that’s it

Kirk out

Yoga practice of the day – energising

Contrary to what people might think, yoga is not just about relaxing; nor is it about contemplating one’s navel.  The word ‘yoga’ means ‘union’ and ‘hatha’ as in ‘hatha yoga’ means ‘a yoga which balances the energies’.  Balance is key – and the reason relaxation is emphasised so much in the West is that we tend tend to be overstimulated.

So – it will happen from time to time that you feel lethargic and need energising – and here are some practices to help you.

1.  Stand tall, shoulders relaxed.  Rub the palms of the hands together until they feel hot.  Shake the hands from the wrists – not too hard.

2.  Lift each foot and give it a shake.

3.  Place palms together in front of the chest.  Breathe out.  Breathe in and open the arms out wide, looking up (don’t drop the head back.)  Feel the centre of the chest (heart chakra) opening.  Breathe out and bring head back to centre, palms together.  Do a few of these with the breath to energise the body (care if you have back problems).

4.  Breathing for energy: place the hands on the abdomen.  Breathe out and pull the abdominal muscles in slightly to expel any stale air.  Breathe in deeply (don’t force it).  Feel the movement of the abdomen under the hands.  Breathe out and relax the muscles back.  As you breathe, imagine energy in the form of light, entering this area and pervading your whole body.

5.  How sluggish is your diet?  Are you getting plenty of fresh fruit and veg, salad etc or is it all chips?  A good diet is the basis of good energy.

6.  Finally, don’t forget to get enough sleep!  (see previous posts)

OM Shantih

Morning bloglets and where are my thoughts?

When first I wake in the morning my thoughts turn to you, gentle reader, and what I am to say to you.  By the time I make my tea, the blog posting is all fleshed out in my mind.  And now it’s gone.  I know I was going to say something about Holly’s play and being a sandwich – or rather a sandwich filling… wait, something’s coming back to me…. hold on….

The Sandwich Generation

Sometimes I feel that our generation is like the filling in a sandwich.  We were brought up strictly, our parents having Lived Through the War, we were taught not to put our elbows on the table, not to talk with our mouths full and never to interrupt.  Talking at the theatre would have resulted in a severe dressing-down.  And now the current generation is allowed to do all of these things and more – and we are supposed to put up with it and smile benignly.  I shall get to the point – for there is a point: last night some teenagers in front of us were talking virtually all the way through the first half of the play – not loudly, but enough to be distracting.  I debated with myself whether to say anything, and decided to have a quiet word during the interval with the women in charge of them.  They maintained that they couldn’t hear them and thought they were being ‘quite good actually’.  In other words it was my expectations which were at fault.

What does one do about this sort of thing?

Answers on a postcard please.

Actually I think it would benefit them if the adults insisted on quiet – it would help them to concentrate more.

Anyway, Holly did really well – looked self-possessed and quite at home on the stage.  There were about 150 children in all and some of the dancers were fantastic!  A great night out, preceded by thali at Mirch Marsala.  A brief chat with Bettina, with whom Mark had been Hanging Out, and who was due to go to Doug Holly’s 80th birthday party.

Happy Birthday Doug and why weren’t we invited?

(only joshing.  We couldn’t have come anyway)

Saw various people at the theatre – Ann Raja, Lucy Castle, Claire and Stuart (whom I have hardly seen since I fell out with Claire) and Steph, who looked amazing as ever (it’s the bone structure) and appeared to have a new partner.*  Apparently Dora was the left arm of the Snow Queen.

then on the way back we ran into Jonathan and Nerissa who were taking time out from Callum’s 21st birthday party at Sumo.  Some debate about whether 21st birthdays are still significant.

Oh, and the kids in front also pissed us off because they sniggered at a guy in a wheelchair who had a speaking part.

That’s all for now.  Church and then I don’t know what – although they are having a shared lunch, so maybe Daniel can be persuaded to participate.

Have a good Sunday

Kirk out

* Actually I felt quite stunning myself in my favourite dress, and for the first time in years I didn’t wear a bra!  I hate wearing bras in hot weather – they really make you sweat – and in this dress you really can’t tell.

Yoga practice of the day – sleep!!!

Insomnia is a very big problem these days, whether it’s not getting to sleep or waking up and not getting back to sleep.  We are generally over-stimulated, stressed, caffeinated and, whilst we may be great at Getting Things Done we are not so good at getting things undone ie unwinding.

Here are a few things which might help:

Before Bed

No TV, computer, video games etc for an hour

No tea or coffee – milky drinks or herbal tea

Read a book, write a diary, chat (pleasantly), hang out, enjoy the evening sun

No eating for at least an hour before bed and preferably two or three

have a routine which helps to calm the mind and prepare for sleep: brushing teeth, turning down the bed, arranging clothes – these rituals get the mind into a state ready for sleep

If you have already practised meditation, meditate!  If not, now is a great time to start.

In bed

Go back over the day in your mind.  If there are outstanding concerns, things you need to remember or deal with, write them down.

Give thanks for the good things that have happened and let go of the bad

Read for a while but something relaxing – good fiction, not politics or debate!

Listen to the radio but same applies.

Set the alarm if you need it.

Then forget it.

Lying down

If there is a history of insomnia, at this point tension may set in.  You may start to worry that you won’t be able to sleep and then all the things you need to do tomorrow will form a mountain in your mind.  Two practices will help with this: the first is Acceptance. Accept that this is where you are.  This doesn’t mean you have to like it, just that you are not fighting it and thinking ‘I don’t want to be here’.  Repeat: ‘I accept that this is where I am right now’.  It doesn’t imply that you are going to stay here.

The second is Letting Go.  This is part of relaxation, which comes next.  When worries come to you, let them go.  Imagine you are holding onto the reins of a team of wild horses which are pulling you in all directions.  Consciously relax the hands and let them go.

Now practise body relaxation (see previous post)

If you still don’t sleep, it is a victory because you have practised this.  The next time you practise will be stronger because of what you’ve done.  Remember, ‘do or not do – there is no try’ (Yoda, Star Wars)

Repeat the mantra Om shantih shantih shantih – or peace, peace, peace.

OM shantih!

even if there isn’t any Aslan

Martyn’s birthday today.  Happy birthday Martyn!  Apparently he’s not a friend of mine on Facebook otherwise the alert would’ve come up, so had to rely on good old-fashioned calendar.  He will be… let’s see… 23 today!

Holly’s play today (Mark has just commented that it’s very naughty of him to put his coffee machine on top of the Koran.  You can get stoned for that – and not in a good way.)  That reminds me – please sign this petition to stop the stoning of the woman taken in adultery.  I can’t believe they still do this!  Jesus, where are you?  AND where’s the MAN she did it with?  I suppose he couldn’t help himself – huh?

It is disgusting.  Please sign.

OK to happier matters.  Holly has her play today at the Curve; rehearsals all day and then the production at 7.30.  Looking forward to that.  Daniel is doing well with walking and had a great time at youth club last night.

Still hoping we will manage a holiday of some sort.  As things stand we can’t afford to book anywhere at the mo so send us positive thoughts.  The West Country would be nice – then we could break our journey with a visit to les Fegent. (that’s French for ‘the Fegents’, not someone called Les).

OK I guess that’s it.  Oh!  The title was because I was feeling very discouraged about writing this blog and thinking no-one’s reading it, and then I thought that there are many reasons for writing even if nobody IS reading it.  Or, ‘I’m on the side of Aslan, even if there isn’t any Aslan’.  Sometimes you – no, wait, that’s a complicated philosophical thought which I need time to deconstruct.

Toodle pip!

Oh – and this weekend I am mostly reading: ‘History of the World in 10 1/2 chapters’, ‘Mapp and Lucia’ and ‘Here is Where We Meet’ by John Berger.

Pip pip!