Monday, August 13, 2018

5 Signs You're No Longer a Yoga Newbie

There are tell-tale signs that you’re ready to come off the yoga newbies bench and some of them are quite obvious but we think it’s worth noting for the wins:

Always on Time
You might still remember coming to class late and not worrying about what others thought, since no one knew you back then. Now though, you’re one of the first ones in, ready on your mat, with an ease and greet your fellow yogis as they arrive. You even have a lie down on your bolster and set yourself up in the front row so you didn’t miss a cue. Yes, these are great signs.

Stop the Clock Watch
Back up to last quarter, the 60 minute classes used to feel like an eternity, especially when in Tree pose hold, you would smile wide eyed, feet burning with your eyes wandering over your shoulder to check the clock. Oh and much to your surprise we were only 20 minutes into the start of class. But now you’ve learned to breathe slower, move your body intelligently and can hear the finer instructions that help you relax every step of the way. Eg: SMILEASANA and SIGH like you need it. But also know that they work.

You Won’t Miss Restorative / Yin
Restorative and Yin yoga have always been challenging for the Urban Yogis to take up in the beginning of their yoga journey. Do you remember how hard it was having to hear your mind yap away while you’re being told to relax and find the pleasure in being physically still? It was so hard, because you had never laid down without falling asleep before. It was like being sent to the naughty corner as a big kid. But now you can’t wait to find yourself on your mat just BEING, LAYING STILL, and following your inner bliss for an hour. It’s your weekly staple and are finding this a treat at the end of your week.

It’s about Quality Time
On your first month you were focused on getting on the mat at least 4 times a week. Life was still a little out of control and your schedule was never too planned. So you made it to the studio 4 times but at varying times of the week to realise that a regular practice is essential. Gradually you’ve been scheduling yourself to finish work on time, and be on time for yoga. You realised that the time on your mat is about quality not the number of times you got on it. Your schedule looks a lot more intentional and you’re living life more vibrantly.

The New You Is Reflecting
You’re on a new year, and you are at a cross road between the old you and a possible other you. You learned a lot about your past self in the last year/s of your practice. Truth be told, you haven’t been tracking anything specifically but you were passionately regular.  You’ve fulfilled your aim of being regular and that says a lot. It must be working for you. It’s a new year now though and you are feeling a little intrigued about what else you could learn about yourself? Could you be more self-aware? Physically Stronger and Flexible? Take deeper practices to access more energy?

How do you feel you're tracking on this list?

Supriya Roy 

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

The 6 Highly Effective Habits for More Energy

You’ve all heard of the old used up sentence “Humans are all creatures of habit” often connoting that we are somehow bound to our habits. It might even feel very convincing that you are bound, because for some a habit could be supporting other habits. A common example is keep showing up to work, which pays the bills, which keeps things moving and you make it through the week without stopping then you spend the entire weekend living. When moving through the motions, only some ask how can I do this differently or better?   

The Seva philosophy understands and advocates taking small steps, which create big changes. The steps when taken regularly become highly effective habits that have the capacity to move life in the direction of our personal desires.

Have you ever asked yourself, what might you eat, think, feel and act like if you were living your dream life? And what are some of your habits that stop you from aligning your actions (with ease)?

Below are 6 science based steps, prescribed by Ayurveda to make it easier for you to practice them as habits. You’re probably already aware of most of them, but just need to commit to take small and consistent steps to turn them into living habits.

Those habits will then develop you to make better choices with greater ease and you won't even have to talk yourself into it. You will feel better for doing them, than not.

Its a lot like brushing teeth - no one ever said "I'm so glad I didn't brush my teeth today!"

These 6 steps are habit building steps, which will prepare you for personalized habits that will create more effective changes in your life. They will start moving you in the right direction straight away. Think of it like this, they are small changes without it feeling like you're moving a mountain.

To give you a bit of basis for my advice here, both Yoga and Ayurveda are researched and trialed sciences that prescribe individualized lifestyle habits for best health.  The following steps will improve your capacity to adopt more personalized changes with ease and will not have any harmful side effects by practicing without guidance. 

What these sciences both advocate is that health and vitality are no longer at the mercy of external factors but an inner power that we can cultivate for ourselves. You will always know your center, how to maintain your connection to it and how you can keep topping up when life pushes you off kilter.

So are you ready to get started? WARNING: These steps are very simple but very potent. 
Don't let the simplicity and ease fool you. If you can do them for an entire season, you will be ready to take on deeper practices taught at Seva. Are you ready? You must promise to do these daily. Like brushing your teeth. Here they are:

1.     HYDRATION - Upon waking drink 2 litres of warm water. Water rehydrates your organs and gets the toxic waste moving in the right direction.

2.     TONGUE SCRAPING - Gently scraping the white coating off the tongue each morning promotes better oral hygiene. You will also enhance your taste faculty improving your choice in foods.

3.     NASAL RINSE – As a Yoga practitioner you need access to both your nostrils for best breath practice. Nasal rinsing clears the mucosal bacteria and dirt from the sinus cavity that not only helps with an improved sense of smell but your ability to manage your energy better. Your alertness, mood, appetite, speech depends greatly on the rhythm and quality of your breath. When your nasal passage is clear you feel clear minded and make better choices throughout the day. You will dream more frequently, that will aid in clearing subconscious mind clutter.

4.     EAT TIMELY - Eat your heaviest meal at 12 and an early dinner by 7pm. Besides eating high quality foods, eating at the incorrect time is a bigger cause for imbalance. Even if you feel you have a high metabolic rate (I hear this one a lot) eating at the wrong times will put digestive organs under strain. All the undigested food will sit in the digestive tract becoming toxic waste that will weaken your digestive fire. This is a cause for much of your mental lethargy, stress and long term health issues.

5.     QUALITY REST – Yoga practices help with rejuvenating the body and mind’s fatigue and prepare your body to sleep well. But to have optimum energy in waking hours, without losing focus, or needing to caffeinate, wake up before sunrise and don’t stay up past 10pm. The energy before sunrise in nature increases peace of mind, and adds freshness to the 5 senses. Getting 8 hours of sleep will provide adequate physical rest and improved mental energy.

6.     DAILY JOURNALING – Journaling your thoughts in a prescribed context like maintaining a Meditation / Yoga / Pranayama Practice can benefit in becoming better at what habits you are practicing. Journaling has science backing its benefits on the mind and body and proves to be a highly effective habit for self-awareness and making highly informed decisions. You can read my blog article on "5 benefits of keeping a yoga journal" for the benefits.

So, there you have it. The 6 science backed highly effective habit building steps for anyone wanting to generate higher levels of health and energy, for a better performing Body and Mind right away. 

Supriya Roy (Adv. Dip Ayurveda, Yoga Therapy, Founder of Seva Yoga)

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Adulting - Could we do it another way?

On the very first day of our Beginner’s Yoga Course, we sit in an open circle and introduce ourselves. We share our personal big why for starting Yoga now. When asked what self-care looks like for each person, many (surprisingly) smirk and share “I showered before I came today” or “Went to the beach last summer and that felt good” and “sleeping in whenever I can” is a popular response.
Some are hilarious to hear and hard to believe but it is a big reality for many working, parenting, highly committed and very dependable adults these days. There are many reasons why Self-care is not a conscious item on our To-Do lists and one major reason research has found is the person’s unconscious belief system on achieving success.
Have you recently asked yourself how success feels and looks for you? What might you eat, think, feel and act like if you were successful? How close are you to feeling like the best version of yourself? Do you regularly stop and check-in on how you are feeling? 
Many adults believe sacrificing attention to their own wellbeing is a greater demonstration of their love and commitment to others. Although self-sacrificial, this is how majority of us train ourselves to be “better performing" people in our careers and personal lives. Albeit, mostly unconsciously, this way of thinking also becomes a major reason for failure in performance and enjoyment of success in life.
Self-care is probably commonly associated with signing up to a gym to get "stronger", eating healthy to keep "extra weight off" or enjoying a remedial massage for "pain relief". However self-care is a lot less reactive to health problems, and concerns more with the person’s current state of being. Self-care in fact does not worry about the look, but it delivers better physiology, greater mental clarity and self-awareness that helps navigate through stressful experiences of life. It helps us generate positive states in mind and body to enable better or best overall performance and enjoy the successes of life on a long term scale. Self-care is a tool for perpetual wellness.
If this resonates with you, and you are ready to learn how, we have some useful tips for you to get started right now. We want you to go to the gym and the day spa and we also recommend you spend 10minutes every hour of your day to stop and notice your breath. If you notice that you’re breathing through your chest alone, shallowly and fast we recommend you do this: 1. Sit up straight, 2. Relax your shoulders, 3.Take very slow and long breaths using your abdomen and chest. 4. Mentally say “I am relaxing”.
Do this for 10 minutes every hour of your day for at least 3 days in a row. And check back with us to let us know how you went. One of the fundamental pillars of a Yoga practice is consciously taking deeper breaths giving immense benefits to all its students.
So, self-care ultimately boils down to taking small steps to develop lifelong skills which give you time and energy back with greater appreciation for what really matters. With regularity, each time you practice your self-care routine, you create a perpetual change toward positive emotions and a physiology that gives you a sense of success, regularly and naturally. 
Here at Seva, service begins with service to ourselves. 
Supriya Roy (Adv. Dip Ayurveda, Yoga Therapy, Founder of Seva Yoga)

Sunday, July 1, 2018

5 Benefits of Keeping a Yoga Journal

Your yoga journalling will be of most benefit if you keep it timely and spend no more than 20 minutes a day. If you are curious about what it takes to start, you can start with 1 x A5 sheet of paper and a pen. 

You don’t need to be good at spelling or grammar. In your Yoga journal you will write specifically about your practice experiences. Take my practice journal as an example and you would find pictures, stickers, scribbles, random words, sentences, poetry and even letters through the year’s experiences. So don’t think you’re limited to just pen on paper.

A Yoga journal is like your very private, open green field, and you can run on it however you like with your pen. It’s your time, and space for you to write about anything you like. At the end of this article you can find a guided journal entry page, to help you track your yoga practice, if you should want to use it, like many of my private clients and students do.

Right now I want to touch on WHY I recommend you keep a practice journal for your yoga journey.

So, there are HEALTH BENEFITS to it, Yes! You get to own free space to dump the load of your brain and it’s very good for your overall health! Okay I’ll get to the scientific findings on it:
“University of Texas at Austin psychologist and researcher James Pennebaker argues that regular journalling strengthens immune cells, called T-lymphocytes. Other research also indicate that journaling decreases the symptoms of asthma and rheumatoid arthritis. Pennebaker believes that writing about stressful events help you come to terms with them, acting as a stress management tool, thus reducing the impact of these stressors on physical health.” – Purcell, 2018

With all due respect to research and the science of journalling though, I have personally benefited from it and now use it as a therapeutic tool with my private clients. My intention is to reduce their stress, connect them to their mind and body, and increase their capacity to understand their own potential in achieving their wellbeing goals backed by evidence.

The top 5 benefits I would like to highlight are:

1)      Improved Self-Awareness – If you’re thinking that someone else has the answers about what makes you special and the best person to be around. You need to get in touch with the person inside of you and see how much s/he knows about you. Journalling offers a chance to reveal to us our real emotions, opinions, views about how we individually perceive our experiences. You might be shocked to see how wonderfully wise or different you are and how valuable your standpoint really is for the life you are wanting to live. Journalling your real thoughts will help expose your false beliefs and give you a closer look at how the most important person sees you - Yourself. The better your self-awareness the higher your chances to change what you don’t like.

2)     Expose the Censors  – When journalling your practice, you gain a different perspective on how you are being. As in are you engaging with your experience or does your engagement waiver from time to time? And why? You can write down your deepest fears, what triggers you to hold back or perhaps you feel sensations you’ve never felt before? Write down what you are finding inside of your body, and you will get to know your actual strengths and barriers are toward making change happen.

3)      Up your Self-Care – While Yoga itself is a part of your self-care routine, the journal is a sacred tool to discovering new goals, inspirations, and identifying your personal hardships and most importantly uncovering your true needs. You are your main carer and possibly for another 5 people who need you and your energy for their life to function properly. To best serve those you love, don’t you think meeting your own needs has to come first? Truth is most of the times self-care is at the bottom of the to-do list for any person leading an average life. But if you’re looking to live life more vibrantly, you need to up your self-care. Having a journal with your very personal needs list actually is the ULTIMATE best step. It will help you make sure you get your actual needs met. As we say it here at Seva, small steps create big changes.

4)      Solve Problems Effectively – For a very long while I recorded the number of classes I took per week, how I felt after each class and what I wanted to heal in my life. And one day when I looked back at my practice journal entries for the past 6 months, I found a tonne of personal data about WHY I could never maintain my engagement through a 90 minute class. The problems were clear to track, and I was able to take accountability for my own shortcomings. I saw that I had to learn to relax more and stop trying to blame it things outside of myself. You too can track your journey and have a place to gather data from to solve actual problems.

5)      Gain Clarity- The act of setting some time to contemplate a subject matter is a meditative act. My practice journal has been hands down one of the best companion tools to progress my meditation practice. When you write down everything that is sitting in your mind, this itself is so therapeutic and freeing and with that extra space in your mind, you hold a powerful chance to shift the needle of your life to wherever it is you are meant to be going.

Print these questions, and write down the answers in your journal anytime you take a class or do anything Yoga related. This includes reading a book, listening to a podcast, taking a developmental workshop, masterclass, course or retreat. Once you’ve answered those, use the rest of the page to free write about anything else that you felt like writing down. Don’t dismiss thoughts or questions you had come up in your awareness – write them all down. The space is all yours, so let it FLOW out of you! Free that Mind Up! 

Date & Time of class:______________

1.       Rate your engagement from 1 to 5 (1 = disconnected, 3 = semi-engaged, 5 = connected):            1            2            3            4            5

2.     Type of Class taken: _______________

3.     Write down 3 main observations of your experience like mood, energy, motivation and limitations: _______________________________________________________________             

I hope this article has touched on something of value to you. I’d love to hear about your experience, thoughts and feedback about keeping a Practice Journal. All Seva Yoga courses recommend purposeful practice journaling and it has been a wonderful tool of self-inquiry, self-awareness and evolution for many of our advancing students.

     Supriya Roy (Adv. Dip Ayurveda, Yoga Therapy, Founder of Seva Yoga)

APA Reference
Purcell, M. (2018). The Health Benefits of Journaling. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 19, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/lib/the-health-benefits-of-journaling/

Monday, June 4, 2018

Its June! How are you breathing?

Let’s admit it, it is challenging to breathe in this cold weather and we Aussies are quite spoilt with sunshine all year round. So any sign of a cloudy day, or cooler weather gets us like we're backed up against a wall, frozen, having a stare off with a yeti. We detest the cold. 

Besides our mental resistance to the cold, my heart goes out to those of us that suffer from poor immune systems, allergies, or have respiratory conditions that get aggravated especially at this time of the year.

While there are yoga kriyas, bronchodilators, antibiotics and ayurvedic treatments with herbal remedies that can de-congest you, there is still ONE thing YOU need to do to stay balanced and functional during these winter months and the course of life itself.

Since starting to write this blog, I realised that one blog alone is not enough real estate to list the relationship between Yoga and Breathing. So today, I want to explore just ONE thing; HOW SHOULD WE BE BREATHING?  

Did you know that the 3 fundamental pillars of health and life force for us are: OXYGEN / BREATHING, SLEEP/RESTING and EATING/ NUTRITION ? We need all three to maintain the body’s homeostasis, that allows it to function and live life optimally. I could list some stats about the oxygen pressure required in our lungs to maintain blood alkalinity levels but you can look those stats up anywhere. Let's keep exploring the topic of knowing how to breathe. 

So, when breathing is restrained / shallow, our cells and organs become oxygen starved and exposed to risks of disorders, which can come from these PATTERNS:

1.       Increased breathing with chronically blocked nose and dry mouth
2.       Urination increases (especially at night) to maintain ionic balance
3.       Muscles become tense, tired, sore, possibly twitchy
4.       Numbness, tingling and coldness in hand and feet
5.       Increase in illness & infection due to decreased immune response
6.       Stomach bloating, constipation, belching, diarrhoea, flatulence
7.       Fast, erratic and pounding heart rate
8.       Over reactive brain, possible anxiety, poor concentration, nervousness

So my next question is: Besides restrained breathing, do you notice any of the above symptoms?

My point is, you can see now how vital it is to prioritize learning to breathe. Yes as important as learning to eat the right foods and how to relax and recover.  

Let's do a test to measure your personal breath rate by counting how many breaths you take per minute. 1 breath is = 1 inhale and 1 exhale.

Put a timer on for 30 seconds, count your breaths during this time and simply multiply the number of breaths taken for 30 seconds by 2. Voila, here is your breath rate per minute.

If you were not in a state of anxiety you should have about 8 breaths per minute and if you counted more than 10 breaths per minute it is likely you take shallow, short breaths and it is suggested you practice breathing exercises at least 3 times a day or if possible each hour on the hour for a few days.

From now on, if you notice that you’re breathing mainly from your chest rather than your abdomen or that you sigh too often then pause and practice breathing consciously for a few minutes to replenish oxygen into your bloodstream. In a few weeks you’ll notice your breath rate has decreased. 

Breathing slowly and steadily improves the state of our mind, our body’s functions and energy levels. Its one of our body's fundamental functions and need, which is nurtured in a Yoga class. Breathing properly helps with healing any patterns of imbalance listed above and it is probably why a Yoga practice is THE GO TO for anyone suffering from restrained breath patterns.

I hope this article has touched on something of value to you. Please share your thoughts and feedback you might have with me. And of course if you are now feeling inspired to go take a Yoga class, drop by for a FREE Yoga Lesson all day on the 23rd June 2018 at our studio. 


Monday, January 23, 2017

Yoga is Non-Competitive & How to Practice it


Happy New Year! 

Its been a few weeks since we came back to the studio and its great to see everyone motivated to resume their practice. I have been witnessing amazing effort from our yogis wanting to do their best, go beyond last year's progress made and delve deeper into their posture practice. On many occasions though, I've also seen extra effort and physical strain being applied and so I thought to write a little blog on how to get better, feel amazing and go deeper into postures without losing connection to one of the best qualities about Yoga - Santosha; Contentment = To remain Non-Competitive.

Don't get me wrong Hatha Yoga is all about using the right level of force to access physical postures that are normally outside our physical body's general range. However an equal amount of mental and energetic ease is also needed to access deeper layers of yoga poses from wherever your natural range currently is. Unlike normal physical exercise Yoga demands ease in mind, body and breath. This is so that the qualities and benefits we are wanting from the "Yoga pose" is not lost along the way of trying to "achieve" or "do" a yoga pose. 

So how do we practice this when the pose is feeling uncomfortable and we know that once we work through this current layer of resistance we will feel much better? Well, in my experience there are 2 things to do immediately:

1) Accept where you are right now - see your struggle in its entirety and instead of pushing through it, learn to breathe into the points of resistance. Relax and make breath the primary focus.

2) Practice all other poses with just as much curiosity and presence.

In sanskrit Santosha is divided into two parts: sam, meaning completely or entirely, and tosha, meaning acceptance, satisfaction, and contentment. Together they create a word that means complete acceptance or contentment. Santosha can be a difficult concept to wrap your head around, particularly if your personal dialogue is filled with negative thoughts like “I’m not good enough," "I'll never get there", or “I’m too this, or not enough that…”  it’s hard to see the positive in any situation let alone feel even fleeting moments of contentment, when you’re expending a lot of mental energy knocking yourself down for not being where you "think" you should be. So perhaps it’s time to change your story. If your default story is “This is hard, I can’t do this,” then change it to - “This is difficult, let’s see how I do with it today?”

A Yoga pose means (the physical posture) while being held physically, our awareness must spread to witness the Mind focus on breath and the Breath being kept stable and comfortable. This awareness and practice maintains an adequate level of Prana / vital energy flow to hold muscle tension, reduce strain to the body and keeps the mind calm enough to respond to the body's needs when practising the pose. There is an inherent stretch in each pose and sometimes admittedly many postures can feel like hard work. BUT! practise Santosha - see where you're at right now, focus on breath, then move along to the next pose! Keep inquiring to see how you are feeling in every pose. 

From my personal practice I've learned that every yoga pose contains within it a building block for another. Often when I have let go of needing to be better at just one pose I have been able to enjoy the entire practice. This has been my personal approach to many challenging yoga poses where I simply let go of the need to be better at 1 specific pose or aspect of my practice or be somewhere I am not at that point in time and allowed myself to watch myself unfold in the practice as I was.  

After all isn't that why we practice in the first place? To want to keep coming back to the mat, to keep connecting to who we are today and to love our body, mind and spirit just the way they are. The Yoga practice guarantees a sense of renewal, calm energy and a loving connection in body, mind and spirit - provided we practice it without competitiveness and a high quality of presence. 

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

5 Benefits of YOGA in the Morning


  • 1) IMPROVES DIGESTION - By the time you're up, your body has processed yesterday's consumption & is ready to start process of eliminating toxic waste. - Good way to know if what you're eating is actually serving your body. 

  • 2) BALANCED BIORHYTHM - Your sleep patterns will improve if you make it a habit to wake up regularly & get into a pattern of being active in the morning. Best to honour and align your body's biorhythm to natural times for being active (during day) & slowing down in the eve. This will improve and balance your overall emotional, physical and mental energy flow. 

  • 3) MENTAL CALM - Start your day in the best Mental tone for the day - Alpha & Theta states of mind are accessed from meditative practises & are best for connecting to your goals with clarity and calm that allows you to approach your day with a positive mindset and encourages you to be in your natural state - that is calm and steady.

  • 4) MINDFULNESS - Kick start the day with mindfulness and appreciation for the abundance inside and outside of you  - you will work better during your day & enjoy your time off when you have it. It will assist with improving your total experience of your life story. 

  • 5) IMPROVED VITALITY - When your breath is stable and deep, you enable best absorption of nutrients in your body through consumption of oxygen and setting off various chemical reactions in the body. Breath / Oxygen is the reason you are alive and are able to operate optimally daily. You will be better response-able to your life stories if you honour your body and its ability to breath efficiently. 

  •  At Seva yoga we offer dynamic & meditative yoga classes 7 mornings a week, for all levels of practitioners. Enquire with us if you are wondering when to start and which class is the best start for you.