Don’t let your movement box shrink!

I follow this amazing gymnast on Instagram. (#movementbox).

He has a feed called ‘movement box’. And every day he says don’t let your movement box shrink, followed by an assortment of vids of beautiful contortions of the body.

I follow this man for my belief in his shared joy in finding out the incredible possibilities of the human body and human will, when combined.

I  of course strive to be half as good at him (aim for the stars, reach the sky, love the sky!), but I also pride myself in knowing that in my own way, I am also good at the things he does.

For example: I am also an ideas person. And I also find a primal sort of joy in pushing my body to its limits and beyond without hurting myself.

But that is not what I want to write about today.

His message is so very powerful! So powerful indeed!

Maybe you are one of those people who finds it easy to be self motivated to do the things you need to do each day. Those things that make your heart sing but terrify you so much at the same time. Those things.

If that’s you. Then, salute! You’re amazing. I’m so jealous. Please tell me your secret so I can share it with everyone I meet. And I know there are those wonderful full heart resilient people out there. I have been lucky enough to meet a few, and lucky enough to have read some of their books. Like Brene Brown for example… That woman has done the work! She really has! She gives new meaning to the expression ‘wear your heart on your sleeve’! I am currently, for the third time, reading her book, ‘The Gifts of Imperfection‘, hoping that some of her spirit will sort of, rub off on me…

Life is more… ‘Stop and starty’, for me, than smooth going.

I sort of have bouts of extreme productivity creativity and stress. And then sort of bouts of inactivity, soul searching, and sometimes darkness and even depression. (Note: I do NOT advocate the medical model of depression, but the word is still the best way to describe the human experience that perhaps we all know quite a bit about).

It’s during these latter times that I have to dig deep and watch for my warning signs, take note of new warning signs, look after myself, and most of all, dig into my Toolbox!

Obvious examples of this Toolbox include mindfulness, meditation, creative outlets, connection with others, yoga, mantra, laughing, having fun, and keeping up with the chores!

But another less obvious one is – you guessed it- the Instagram inspired genius of:

‘Don’t let your movement box shrink!!!’

It’s during these times when some days I don’t particularly maybe want to get out of bed, or life just seems too hard maybe, that I have learned to set tiny attainable daily goals for myself. Then ‘hold’ there…

Grow the movement box a tiny bit…

Then set some more goals.. Move into them, grow that little bit more…

And so on.

In other words?

Don’t let the things that were easy for you yesterday, become hard for you tomorrow.

Don’t let all the things you worked on during the productive wave in your life slip away… If you can help it.

A concrete example?

Have you ever started from scratch in yoga or any form of exercise? After a few months of little to no practice, either because of life circumstances or illness or just ‘not wanting to anymore!!!’?

I have. So many times…

And man, did my movement box shrink! Physically, emotionally, literally, figuratively… Everything!

And growing that movement box back does not come without its fair share of sweat and tears.. and even prayers… whatever your interpretation of those words are.

Okay.

I want to say one thing extra.

Because I really believe this. ..

There is something that ‘sticks’…

Through the waves and flow of life, the ups and downs, and ins and outs.

The productive, and the quieter times.
.

Something sticks.

Just by living, and just breathing even! I believe it’s sort of part of our human right of passage that this is just a given. Life can have hard times. Breathing is enough.

So while not letting that movement box shrink is a hard lesson I have learned if I don’t want the bother of clawing my way out of a tight spot, yet again…

Those things that stick, are forever. Nothing is for nothing. Every step counts.

I’m sure Mr Movement Box understands this more than most!

Keep moving, keep showing up. Keep learning.

Don’t let your movement box shrink, if at all possible. And also…

Know that Ginger, the soft root, good for tea and many other things, will grow right on through the hard plastic container you plant it in, if you neglect to re pot it ….

And know that there is NO TIME for using this tool, except ‘now’…

No really! 😀

There isn’t.

♡ Tam

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Karma…

Karma…

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This word has come to mean so many things that there really is no way to start to explain it..

If you… Did something in your past life, right? Then… It’s about energy, right? You know. Every action has an equal reaction… So… You know. Those bad, naughty things you did that were just not right, they come back to bite you in the butt, right?

‘Oh but what about what I do to someone else? Does it make me a bad person if I tell someone off for being mean to me…?’

Oh no! That’s their karma, see!

So if I get sick, or some horror happened to me, I must have been a criminal in my past life… Or if a child has a horrible parent… Then that child deserves it, right?? Because that child MUST have been a horrible parent in THEIR past life.

It’s a lesson that child needs to learn.. So that the child can move past the karma and… Move on and ‘unblock’ themselves so that they can be like god… So that they can reach the kingdom of heaven… Ultimate bliss… Nirvana…

It’s like… Oooh… It’s like original sin! Yes. That’s what karma is. Your past stuff that you are born with… I know how this works. That is why there are horrors in the world. That is why innocent people get hurt…

(Cos nobody ever thinks about or talks about GOOD karma, not really…)

Or maybe…

Hmmmm.

The Sanskrit word karma is said to mean ‘action’. Karma is your action. You are action. You are karma. You and karma and not separate… So I get it… Everything I do, and everything I have done, am doing, will do… Basically… Everything that I could think of as ‘me’ is karma…

Wow.

What a powerful word.

It’s all these things… Its so much more. But it’s so simple…

What do I think?

I love this word! I love Sanskrit! I love yoga! I love every single different interpretation of this concept and this word…

But what do I think??

I like to think of karma as where I’m at, right now, in this moment. I am a moving thing. I am an action. I am not a sitting still this. I can’t be still. That’s impossible. My cells are moving, working, all the time.

And if something happens that I think is ‘bad’… Well, maybe it is and maybe it isn’t. Maybe it’s good for me and maybe it’s not. I don’t think judging is helpful.

But karma… Karma is beautiful. Karma is the flower that grows because I planted it. Karma is the lessons I need to learn so that I can have more fun! Karma is there to help me wake up and pay attention! It’s the neon red light pointing at my head saying to the universe to come and get me! I’m not afraid anymore!

It’s this… And it’s nothing.

It’s not science.

It’s a beautiful word I can use to explain the explainable… Just like all words really…

Here’s me! All action! All karma!

And it’s a funny thing once you begin to pay attention…

What happens then is, well….

I can’t think of a better word to describe that, other than simply…

Magic.

❤ Tam.

 

How to make your own yoga mat spray in 2 easy steps:

1. Buy yoga mat spray from Wellness Warehouse.

1a. Run out of spray from Wellness Warehouse and think carefully about spending that amount of money on something you can make yourself.

1b. Still undecided, visit  Wellness Warehouse again… ‘Maybe they’ll have a cheaper one this time…’

1c. Arrive at Wellness Warehouse. ‘Oh good, they’re out of stock! It’s fate! The universe is telling me to make my own yoga mat spray.’

1d. Procrastinate for another week. ‘My mat doesn’t reeaaally need yoga mat spray..  it’s a LUXURY. I can go without yoga mat spray…’

1e. Go to the V & A Waterfront and visit every ‘smelly stuff’ store and ask them if they have essential oils.

1f. Stare at the 967 different essential oils for at least one hour per store.

1g. Go back to Wellness Warehouse.  ‘Oh! They have essential oils here too!’

1h. Open every ‘tester’ and then smell like a Dutch spring flower garden for the rest of the whole day.

1i. Ask google about some of the names of essential oils you remember.

1j. Ask google ‘how to make homemade yoga mat spray’.

1k. Give up because there are TOO MANY CHOICES!!!! and then,

1l. Ask google what the ingredients in your now empty bottle of yoga mat spray do.

1m. Resolve to get those essential oils because, after all, you KNOW you like those ones.

1n. Go back to Wellness Warehouse happy with your decision. ‘Phew! !’

1o. Find that the three essential oils you chose, and only those three, are now sold out.

1p. Pick 3 others at random and head to the till as fast as possible.

1q. Realise at the till that you just spent WAY more money on the oils than you would have on the yoga mat spray.

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2. Pour water into your empty yoga mat spray bottle, add some random drops of essential oils, and some epsom salts as an emulsifier, and shake well. Remember not to spill the water, it’s Cape Town!

Namaste!

 

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– ❤

Bringing it back..

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So you go on a five week adventure to experience ‘yoga in practice’. Out in the real world! In Europe, no less.

You cross oceans and skies and mountains. You see cities and new faces and Autumn trees in Spring. Well spring for me down here in the south…

You learn about trains and planes and automobiles. Literally. Over and over…

Yes, indeed! What a good strong practice this is!

You learn about foreign food and other people’s homes and beds. You learn about the way others live and you are interested and overwhelmed with joy and wonder and exhaustion….

And you learn about sore feet and travel blisters and then you learn about travel callus as well.

You learn about feeling safe walking at night and running and cycling in the rain. And you meet travelling musicians, and stare at  profoundly beautiful artwork and buildings until your travel partner gets super annoyed that you are not concentrating on conversation…

You learn to relax and pull up some serious mula banda, yes it REALLY HELPS, in a crowded metropolis like London. You learn… You watch your emotions swirl around and change as you face unfamiliar territory day after day, night after night… Over and over and over…

Oh man! What an authentic yoga experience! True yoga! Union. Union with god, your true self… Union with whatever it is you want to call it.

Face to face with unlimited potential simply by force of being waaaaay out of you comfort zone…

But Asana….?

Oh my god, who has time to practice asana on holiday!

So here I am, back for a half a week. Week one of ‘getting back into it’ is in full flow.

Such as it is…

My arms are weak. My tummy is well covered from all the spoiling I got from wonderful friends and family along the way. My posture has reverted back to my old slouch. My heart is less open! I’ve lost inches of height, I’m sure of it!

I can still reach my toes…. If I bend my knees… deeply.

What a wonderful opportunity!

Now I can experience fully what my new students will experience, starting out. I can learn the tiny bits and pieces of my body all over again. I can find those little intricate muscles and sensations that come with regular practice..

I can learn… About discipline.

What does discipline mean to you?

To me it means… Showing up. Again and again… And trusting that things will work out. While finding humour and joy in the process. Even though the monkey mind has a  LOT to say. Then finding that funny too.

Of course… I am human. The monkey mind is not going away. I am not yet enlightened. And honestly, I don’t think being enlightened works that way anyway…  I have not reached ‘nirvana’. I have not found ultimate bliss.

I cry. I feel pain. I laugh. I feel fear…. So much fear…

I look in the mirror sometimes and I know the thought will come… The thought that most, I think, can well identify with…

‘Oh my god, I’m so FAT!’ I think.

I pull up my shirt and stick out my belly and give it a good stare.

‘Oh my god! I have no muscle! My legs and arms look like pieces of wet spaghetti hanging off a squishy, round ball of fat in the middle! What was I thinking…’

But then I notice that, well. My body is still healthy. And actually.. Well… I love my body. Even though it does not represent the exactly ridiculous high standards I have set for the poor thing after five weeks of almost No asana practice!

What a great body I have. So forgiving! I can learn from it. It forgives me for my treatment of it, so I can forgive myself too.

‘Sorry body, you’re beautiful. Just as you are! Even if I never practice asana ever again! You will always be beautiful, to me!’

So then, I have to smile, and laugh as I get back on my mat for the first time, as I get near the end of my first private Jivamukti practice in just under five weeks. Rolling my legs over my head and supporting my back. I reach my feet to the ceiling… Salamba Sarvangasana! Supported shoulder stand.

There’s my belly. I breathe deeeeply into that belly and watching it grow and then shrink as the air flows in, and then out of my lungs again.

I may not have the strength yet to feel all those tiny little wonders that one can feel from asana practice… But I trust, it will come.

And the journey will be an adventure!

Welcome home, physical body. So good to practice with you again! I missed you so much!

With Love,

-Tammy

 

 

 

 

I don’t have any personal memories of past life experiences…

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Do you?

Do you know anyone who has had them?

In the rapidly increasing ‘yoga world’, in my experience, in Cape Town, it is often commonly accepted that people have past lives, and therefore will have future lives. Of course this is a gross simplification of the yoga belief system, that is based on ancient Indian texts and religious beliefs about death and what happens to you when you die.

This subject interests me very much. What a beautiful magical idea. There is so much wonder, and love, in the idea that we keep coming back until ‘we get it right’, whatever our ‘it’ may be, meeting loved ones again and again along the way, in a beautiful, perfect ‘dance’ of healing.

So don’t get me wrong.

I don’t ‘disbelieve’ in reincarnation. I think the theory, as a whole, makes beautiful, very neat and satisfying mathematical sense.

The theory of Karma rests extremely heavily on this belief system as well. At least, the most common understandings of the modern concept of the word Karma that I have come across so far.

I don’t ‘disbelieve’ in Karma either.

What I do believe, is that when it comes to any science, the closer you get to becoming one of the people who ‘really know’ stuff, the more you start to realize that anyone who says they ‘really know’ stuff, does not in fact, ‘know stuff’, at all. Because if they did, they would have to admit how limited our scientific methods are, especially when it comes to measuring something as profound as human memory and experience.

My question then would be, how is it useful?

How is it useful to think that we have more lives after this one, and that we have had many before? How is it useful to feel that we have more chances ahead of us maybe… As human beings, who often face unthinkable challenges in life. How, and when, is it useful, to believe in this beautiful idea?

I don’t actually have an answer for that, just more questions.

So here goes:

  • If someone dies, is it useful while mourning, to imagine that person gets a second chance?
  • If you make a big mistake in life, is it useful to think that you will get a second chance, or in fact, many second chances?
  • Since we can’t know for sure, and therefore can’t disprove the theory, does it hurt to imagine… Or ‘make believe’, to use my beautiful teacher’s words, in a world where this is possible. Because who wouldn’t want to live in a world like that…
  • Is there harm in striving to create something beautiful, ever…?

On the other hand:

  • Is one life not enough? Does it not carry enough pain and suffering for just one person…?
  • What if you get doomed in a circle of endless pain and suffering…
  • What if you think that you can get away with anything, because you have a next life to ‘try again’.
  • What if you waste your life, thinking that there is another one to ‘get things right’, and it turns, well, that there isn’t. That this one is all we’ve got… That’s a very big ‘what if’.

And the question that always gets me thinking:

  • What happens when other people’s Karma actions (assuming the theory to be true), affect you, like ripples in a pond, every action has an equal and reaction, right? So other people’s Karma could effect you… For lifetimes.. Hypothetically speaking. You could get stuck in someone else’s horrible Karma loop, by way of being near them, at the time.
  • And every life is supposed to better than the one before, because we are ‘burning through’ our Karmas, or past actions with every breath, without even doing anything, so why even try? Because every time you die it will get better the next time, right?

My beautiful yoga teacher had an answer for that one too. She said it much better, but my understanding is that, if you don’t face ‘your stuff’, it gets more and more painful, over and over, until you eventually HAVE to face your stuff, because the pain is too much.

I like to think of every day as a ‘little lifetime’, when I think of reincarnation and karma concepts and philosophies. Every night (well most nights), we go to sleep, and every day we wake up. A miracle! We don’t know how this happens. It just does. We trust. So if every day was a little mini version of the life time thing, then imagine every day you make ‘bad’ choices. It seems to me… After years of bad choices, people suffer more and more inside, and the more they suffer, and don’t face ‘their stuff’ the more pain they have.  So in a way, we can see proof of my yoga teacher’s explanation in our lives memories and perceptions.

Isn’t that kind of nice? What if this concept was what these ancient yogis were trying to explain?

Dig a little deeper… And every single moment can be perceived as a ‘little lifetime’. In fact, isn’t that more or less what metaphysics says? That there is only one moment, and that all moments are in this moment, and that our perception of duality is the only reasons it seems like there is more than one moment, because of the illusion of time and space…

I can go on and on here…

My point??

Karma, and the wonderful human construct of reincarnation, are WAY too amazing, exciting subjects, to be put into stupid religious, evangelistic yogi boxes!

We should be talking more about how useful and cool these concepts are, that some very clever, deep thinking people have come up with over thousands of years, rather than trying to box then up as a ‘thing’ that we are ‘sure’ of… A thing that is the absolute truth because everyone in the yoga world agrees that it is the absolute truth! So of course it must be!!

Last note.

So far the best answer for my questions about this topic has been that it makes life more fair… What about this life we live in makes anyone think it has to be fair??

Actually I have more to add…

To all those wonderful, special, kind yogis who are out there trying to make the world a better place, and who follow this belief system… It’s working. It really is. Yoga helps. That is clear to me, and I think to anyone who tries it. It really helps. And it is these fundamental theories that form part of this beautiful concept that we have today that we profoundly understate when we use the word ‘yoga’.

And don’t forget…

I don’t disbelieve.

I just want to see more yogi truth seekers in the world.

Oooh oooh, on that note, one more thing…

If the whole point of Yoga practice is to strip down our ignorance and rise above our Karmas, and endless cyclic living… Then why are we yogis the ones most worried about are Karmas effecting our future lives??? Surely we ‘got it covered’ with all the Yoga, right?

Think think evaluate! Test, retest, test it on someone else, get their opinion, then test it on a group, then another group, then prove a million times over that you are wrong, and then start again and think some more!!

Be OPEN.

For the LOVE of Yoga.

❤ Tam

 

 

 Picture credit: https://www.yogiapproved.com/