Well here we are in 2020. A new year and a new decade. I’m thinking of 2020 as the year to focus, focus, focus on what is most important. Here are some ideas on how to embrace a year synonymous with perfect vision.
Warrior 2: past, present & future
Warrior 2, Virabhandasana 2 comes to mind. That steady gaze down the middle finger into the future makes it perfect for starting 2020. I also love it for it’s connection to the past, the present, and the future. Here are 3 versions – centered in the past, present and future.
Back in the Past
Do you see the center line of my torso lies back over towards my back foot? Head juts forward to counterbalance the central slide back. Do you see the weight heavy in my back leg and font knee not over the ankle joint? This pose shows a hanging back in the past, unable to move forwards.
This pose is better balanced as a place to stay. Legs working equally, front knee steady. Back of the body soft, chest open…. but my arms give away a veering into the future! My front arm reaches out, my back arm connected, but not yet balanced. Don’t worry, yoga teachers aren’t perfect!
Overconfident in the Future
Do you see my front knee overshoot? My chest pressing forwards, head angled back? Front arms very high. This pose is tight, the bit you can’t see is how much I’m pushing into the back of my waist. This is ‘get me to the future now’ I really dont want to stay present.
Focus, focus, focus on 2020
Choose one thing, one specific thing you want to focus on. Whether its play the clarinet in public with joy, or whether it’s spread love and peace at every chance, or whether it’s organise your wardrobe. Don’t have 2 or 3, just one. I laugh when I look back at old resolutions, organise my wardrobe is on every year – its pointless, it’s a life style, not a resolution for me. It’s something I enjoy and do regularly, even though if you looked in my cupboards you’d never know – no KonMari’d my underwear in my drawers ; ).
- Think of one thing you’d be happy to have in your awareness every day for 2020.
- Type up or scribble your resolution and pin it up. In your face, every day, for a year or until you’re satisfied you’re done. Stick it in a frame it it makes it better for you, etch it into the walls it you’re interior deco rebellious.
- Don’t stress it, don’t try to make it happen, but acknowledge it and do what feels right to you in the moment, the present.
- If you give up part way through the year, that’s just grand. Some time we make bad plans that’s it’s just self-sabotage to go through with. Write a note to yourself about why it didn’t work, feel the joy of releasing what is not needed.
- If you get to the end of the year and you’ve tried but not got there, that’s fine too. Make note that your probably of a character who bites of more than you can chew. Note down three things that went well. Enjoy your determination and growth mindset.
- If you achieve it in the year, lovely. Take it down, celebrate and move on.
This year I couldn’t read the custard instructions, and missed the warning on the linseed oil. My custard was too thin for trifle and the house nearly burnt down (thankfully just a lot of smoke and barely any damage) – so I’m really valuing the importance of sight. Joking apart, I think 2020 visioning is the way forwards.
I hope your year is full of insight, peace and love.
I had so much fun in Summer, doing yoga with an angled roof. It changed the way I practiced. Initially I bumped into it and felt the constriction of space, through the couple of weeks I was in Cornwall I grew to love it and found so many ways to play. These videos show how I used the space, so if youre lucky enough to be doing yoga in a a roof space you can make the most of it.
Salicylic Acid Scrub Soap
This is a lovely soap Im using at the moment. This is a nicely packaged, healthy soap. The exfoliating grit is just the right amount for me and I like to use it on my legs particularly. I like it’s low toxic qualities, it’s gentle enough to use all over and yet strong enough to clean well. A perfect healthy soap to keep your skin in good condition. Its on deal at the moment too!
Lions Mane Mushroom Supplement
First of all I love the packaging. Lion’s mane has some pretty impressive potential benefits and increasing research behind it. There are no known side effects, but benefits range from increased cognitive functioning and digestive functioning to decreasing anxiety – what’s not to like? A friend suggested I taste the contents of the caplet to see the quality – it tastes great – like slightly savory cinnamon sugar, really lovely. All in all, I really like this product and will keep taking it in times of stress…. I feel it is definitely of benefit.
I was speaking to a friend, giving them a lovely compliment that they took the wrong way. They said no they weren’t fantastic, they were shitty and awful, and if I thought they were wonderful then equally I’d dislike something they did soon. I laughed gently and explained I thought embracing both was a better idea. To be light and dark is important. To be selfish and giving. To be awful and great.
In life, there is darkness, profound darkness and pain, and there is also light and bliss. If we deny our darkness we can’t find the light, we just evade our darkness. To know light we need to know dark. Yin Yang, Up down, sad happy.
Going up to go down
This really is yoga. Let me explain why. Yoga is primarily about union and balance. In yoga we work with stability, finding the floor and at the same time finding edges, balance and aliveness. Our bodies need to be soft to go with it, to adapt, to feel and yet strong in terms of muscles and alignment that supports us. We need to be active and yet passive. Using muscles and yet not overusing.
On a yoga mat when you come into a pose you are also almost contradictorily moving in the opposite direction. So in dancer pose I might think of my chest moving forwards and down, but to do this I need also to be moving upwards, this ensures my downward movement is alive and not a collapse. So chest is moving forwards and down, the lifted foot is moving upwards and back. It is this fluctuating balance that keeps it real.
But the perfect ones don’t have any dark
Yoga is often considered for the pure and light, the perfect ones. Indeed there can be some pressure from the yoga community to portray a perfect ideal, sell transformation and aspirations…. and to deny realness. Problematically I may play into this idea. A yoga teacher friend of mine Orla Beaton liked one of my yoga videos saying I was always cheerful. That really surprised me, as its not my perception of myself. It also made me think Id better address it. We talked about it together and I laughed saying it took a lot of crying to get this happy. That’s why I’m also writing it here. My experience is that you’re going to have to cry bucket loads. I’m not done crying, not nearly, I’ve only just begun. So when you see me laughing and playing remember where it comes from – from sitting with my darkness. I don’t mean some hypothetical darkness that I can do for an hour and then file as done, I wish. It’s a much harder darkness, it’s an ongoing process, never complete, never ‘done’, and refusing to be tidy.
Single sighted yoga
In yoga this doesn’t work on the mat. You can’t do tree pose and decide to ignore your knee or our hip or your back or your breath. When we forget a part of ourselves we ultimately hurt ourselves. We can damage ourselves or get a chronic condition. You can’t physically ignore one part of your body, just like you cant just put to one side a part of your emotional world. We can evade, ignore, shut down – it is possible. But it doesn’t lead well and in the long term, it damages. The body and soul can become pulled around so that you feel like you don’t know your body or mind. Meeting the contradictions is the path.
Embracing contradictions in yoga
In dog pose you need to meet the floor well, you need to find comfort in your hands and arms, your hamstrings. You need to drop down into the floor with your feet and the pads of your palm, and at the same time you need to lift up through the hips. Heavy soft in the hands and feet, light in the sacrum. It’s all contradictions, and what’s more they keep changing. Sliding back into dog pose there is heaviness in the pelvis, lightness in the arms and hands, work in the hips, ease in the shoulders. If you come straight up there is more work in the legs, and the interplay comes more into the feet, down into the feet, up through the legs and belly. When we’re in dog pose we can slide back into the heels, feel the earth connection down through the back of the legs or we can stay more forwards feel the earthing more into our hands and arms. We might do neither and play with the spine, look for its flow is space, its undulations.
I suggest embracing opposites as a part of the whole, and taking the rough with the smooth. It’s a common phrase and it starts with ‘taking the rough…’, the idea being we tend to avoid the rough. I often meet people who find it hard to accept their light, to take the smooth with the rough.
Take the smooth with the rough
Mary Williams says it nicely:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? Your playing small does not serve the world.”
Celebrate the good stuff – go for it, relish it. Mourn the losses, the pain, the mess – go down with it. Feel the joy in a flaky croissant, a beautiful stone, and kind touch. Feel the love, feel the pain. Try not to diminish either. Try to let your losses be huge and your joys to be huge. Be real with it, thoroughly real…. and try to, if someone gives you a compliment, to feel it for what it is – a nice thing. They might say they like your jumper, and tell you that you did a good job. You might be tempted to value judge the compliment to rebuff it – outright refusing to hear it. You might make it smaller, less meaningful: ‘yeah it’s lovely isn’t it, I got it from a charity shop’ (one of my favourites). They might say something deep or inane, but don’t get hung up on the words. I’m tempting you to embrace the compliment as a lovely moment in life where someone wants to share something they appreciate about you.
Yoga, flux and onwards
This is yoga, up and down, light and dark, strong and weak, bitter and sweet, soft and hard. A continual balance of opposites that leads us into harmony, again and again, and again. Not once, not twice, but continually into the dynamic flux of life. It can be yoga in a pose, or the yoga of a tiny interaction.
Find and live your darkness, find and live your light. They are interconnected. In short, take the smooth with the rough… and for those who rebuff compliments take it from me: you’re fantastic. Tomorrow you can be awful, and that’s still ok.