Just a quick update for you. I wanted a place I could more easily share some short but sweet practises for changing the rhythms of body and mind. The things we can do when we have only 3, 5, 10 minutes max but would like to change how we feel.
The result is a YouTube channel. I put my first video up last night. I plan to do 1-2 a week. I would really love it if you would subscribe to the channel and let me know anything in particular you would like me to film.
The first video is here. I hope you like it. If you would be kind enough to click through and subscribe or share on etc. I’d really appreciate it.
In just over a week I begin a new series of 5, Tuesday evening, classes called ‘The Art of Changing Your Mind.’
These 90 minute Kundalini Global yoga classes have a specific focus on how practises such as breathing and stretching can aid us on a journey through stress, overwhelm and anxiety.
All 5 classes will be recorded and available on Vimeo the following morning. The series of classes comes with an exclusive issue of my zine, Dancing Star. The issue has been made to complement what we will work through in class.
Dancing Star will be sent out in the post, with a surprise gift, to you all. It will also be with you as a PDF.
The classes will include a full yoga series and follow a similar format to my regular classes. With 90 minutes we have a little more time for us to go deeper in to individual aspects of the practise. And more time to relax, too!
The cost for the 5 classes, the recordings, and the zine is £30.
That is £6 per 90 minute class plus the zine and recordings. If money is any sort of an obstacle, and you feel you would benefit from the classes, do get in touch.
When I am teaching classes, I often repeat myself. A lot.
I do my best to be liberal with my explanations. I do. It would not be hard for you to tire of my voice. No matter how gorgeous my Wolvo accent is.
I do love to talk though. And it is important to me that I share some of the ‘why’ when I teach. Perhaps, for you, it is unimportant. My own experience has been that feelings of agency have increased with my understanding of how things work to make me feel so amazing after a class.
A few things come up with so much regularity I thought I would take a little time over coming weeks, on the blog, to explain a more about some of the aspects of our physiology that come up when I am chatting during posture in class.
We’re going to start with an important one:
The Vagus Nerve
Something that I mention, often, is the vagus nerve.
In Kundalini Global, polyvagul theory has informed many aspects of how we work with posture. As one small example, when working with Spinal Flex, a posture that features in pretty much every Kundalini class you ever attend, rather than keeping the neck still, employing the neck lock throughout, as is common in another school of Kundalini, we raise the chin. We do this because of the impact the stretching of the throat has on the signalling aspect of, indeed ALL of, the vagal system. As Carolyn Cowan, our founder, always says ‘if you don’t raise the chin, you miss the gift.’
The vagus nerve is a creepy looking, giant, creature-like cranial nerve that goes all the way from the frown lines to the pelvic floor.
It is a ‘two way highway’ in that it plays a huge role in managing both our sympathetic and parasympathetic responses in in body.
It is a part of the system that manages the internal organs – along with the limbic brain, fascia, endocrine system (our hormonal flow) and the muscles involved in our fight or flight response.
The signalling aspect of the vagus nerve goes from the forehead to the base of the throat. This relates to our external way of telling the world what is happening inside – how we show emotion on the face, for example. Or in the voice. Our eye contact or how our eyes may dart around the room (or be still and gently focused).
The thoracic section of the vagus nerve goes from the neck down to the diaphragm – when we feel triggered/stressed etc. this is felt in the chest. Which tightens in a sympathetic response. We breath higher up in the body, and faster.
The ventral branch of the vagal nerve affects body functioning below the diaphragm down to the pelvic floor – this is known as the viscera. Where we hold trauma and shame. This is why we have ‘visceral’ or ‘gut’ feelings.
How can you affect the vagus nerve, positively?
First of all, the power we take back by being aware of it’s functioning is incredible. When we are aware of how it functions and then notice our triggers, notice when we contract, when everything tightens, when our thoughts are short and fast, when the throat closes or the chest tightens… etc. we can, from there:
Stretch Orgasm Laugh Sing Breathe consciously Use cold water e.g. cold showers Dance Swim…
And very many other practises. All of which help to improve vagal tone.
What have I been reading?
I’ve been getting through my to-be-read pile at a wonderfully satisfying speed. The is largely thanks to getting back in to my very gorgeous habit of having, what many people may consider, obscenely early nights.
A few books I have read, and enjoyed, over the last few weeks are:
This book takes perhaps an hour to read. And it was a pure joy.
A collaboration between neuroscientist Hana Roš and neuroscience-PhD-turned-illustrator Dr. Matteo Farinella, Neurocomic explains the inner workings of the brain in a really fun way.
It is great for nerds like me who are fascinated by the brain but have no formal university level education in its workings. Covering perception, hallucinations, memory, emotional recall… it even dips in to consciousness and the difference between the mind and the brain. A topic I am reading a lot about at the moment.
The protagonist takes a walk through a forest of neurons, learning about neuroplasticity.
“This is the great power of the brain, it’s plastic!”
“Once you learn something it is not set in stone, it’s continuously shaped by experience.”
A book to treasure. An object of beauty. Simple. Fun. Informative. Cute. I love.
That may make you laugh. But the ‘For Dummies’ books can be truly excellent. This happens to be one such example, although I will admit that it took me quite some time, and further reading, to fully be able to follow the text through. To have a Quantum Physics for Dummies book definitely feels something of an oxymoron, and the depth this book goes into really challenges the ‘for dummies’ element to breaking point.
Dummy or not, quantum physics is something I am determined to learn more about. I will not say ‘understand’ because I think that may be rather ambitious. I would say that this book is not aimed at someone entirely new to quantum physics… if you are unfamiliar with Hilbert Space, or if you find mathematical equations a huge turn-off, you may not enjoy this book. If you are an expert it is likely not for you, either. For me, this book was valuable to read. It is not ‘pop science’ (I do love a little pop science) but it does not zoom so far over my head that to stay with it is unbearable which has been an experience I have had when reading around quantum physics many times to now.
Quantum entanglement is my latest Google-based, time draining, rabbit hole, since reading this book. Some fascinating concepts are explored, and dusting off the 11-year-old ‘mathlete’ aspect of myself has been quite an adventure. Numbers are great.
Other news from my life…
I have had most of my house decorated over the last month. Something that was very disruptive but worth it. Our home feels as if new life has been breathed in to it. I found the experience of having decorators here to be quite the challenge after a year of lockdown life. Many coffees and teas were made, chats were had, I found myself flying into daily incandescent rages about the sexism I encountered in various workmen’s interactions with me and my family, assumptions that were made, language that was used. We got through it. No one exploded. I thought I might.
One room I did not decorate was the room I teach from. But I have plans. Big plans.
I want that space to be a much more accurate reflection of who I am. I want it to be bright and colourful and magical and strange. At some time over the summer I will take a week or two off from classes to allow the transformation to take place. If you have any interior design inspiration featuring tigers, brains and faux leopard print joy, send it my way.
FREE CLASSES: Saturday and Sunday at 8am.
My free classes now take place on Saturdays AND Sundays at 8am.
Both classes are 60 minutes long.
These classes are a fantastic way to explore Kundalini Global from the comfort of your home.
Beginning in June I will be adding a charity fund-raising element to this offer. All you need to do to sign up is to join my email newsletter.
It’s been a little while. I hope you’re all doing excellently.
I’ve had a few weeks off from the majority of my classes and from doing anything on the blog. But I’ve been busier than ever.
One of the biggest projects I’ve been working on is something I am very excited about and hope that you will be too – I am launching a Zine. It’s called Dancing Star. The plan is to have a new issue once every two months. The first issue is launching on 30th April.
Ever since I started my journey with yoga, with spirituality, my brain has struggled with the ‘why’. ‘Why does everyone talk so much about astrology?’ ‘What’s with the obsession with incense?’ ‘Why is everything so beige and neutral and drenched in essential oils?’
The more I divested myself of the cult thought I had been most beguiled by when I first, as a highly dysfunctional thirty-something, stumbled in to a Kundalini Yoga class, the more I began to question if I could comfortably exist is the realms of yoga and spirituality at all.
But I decided to stick it out. And it was with huge joy that, as I began to create artwork and write words, on my website, on Instagram, that reflected my own thoughts and experiences on yoga and on life, that others seemed to get something from what I was sharing.
Fast forward a little… I wanted a project that could combine my love of creating things and sharing my thoughts on my ongoing experiences with my own mind, with giving a platform to others who have interesting stories, ideas and insight to share.
You can expect content including:
– articles that, broadly speaking, focus on brains and how incredible they are.
And, perhaps best of all, FREE STICKERS! The price is going to be £7 and I hope it’s going to be something that others really enjoy and gain insight from.
I will be revealing more in the days running up to the launch. I have a new Instagram account @dancingstarzine where I will be posting lots of snippets, art and info on what is to come. So go give that a follow if you fancy.
If you don’t know what a zine is – (pronounced zeen) – its a self-published, or at least independently published, booklet. I’ve been a fan of Zines for a long time – often created by cutting and gluing text and images together onto a master file for photocopying, these days it’s more common to produce the master by typing and formatting pages digitally, they are folded and stapled. Ultimately they are a fun and liberating form of publishing and something that I am thrilled to be doing.
I so look forward to launching soon. 30th April.
The Art of Changing Your Mind: Classes For Anxiety Recovery
Beginning on Tuesday 1st June I am running 5, 90 minutes, Kundalini Global classes for Anxiety Recovery.
These classes will explore tools for moving through anxiety and will explore the concept of neural plasticity – looking at practises we can walk toward taking on daily to ‘retrain’ the brain – creating new neural pathways that will allow for a new experience of the self.
In the short term, too, we will look at tools that you can use to quickly change how you feel in any given moment.
I am also currently working on a special edition of Dancing Star zine, specifically to go hand in hand with this series of classes. This zine will be posted out to all who sign up – – I expect to be sending it out in the final two weeks of May.
If you would like to sign up, or find out more, you can go here now:
Many people contact me every week to ask me about how I create the posts on my Instagram feed and the artwork for this website. It’s flattering, of course. But I find it quite difficult to answer. In part this is because I genuinely do not believe that the answer, in terms of the apps and programmes I use, will be satisfactory because I never use exactly the same process. But as I am asked so often, I thought I would share some of the apps I use most regularly for making collage and animation very simple.
I always start with writing a post and then reflect on how I would like to present what I have to say. And from there I figure out a way of making it come to life. My number one tip is to build up an archive of images you love – that you have taken, that you have the rights for – so that you aren’t reliant on the built in elements that these apps tend to come with. This tends to help make your creations more unique.
If I am not using Photoshop, and if the post does not include digital drawing, when I am making an animation (and it’s also great for collage generally) the app I will turn too more often than any other is this one:
To use Bazaart to its full potential you must pay a subscription. It is around £5 per month. Otherwise you do not have access to all features and your creations will have a ‘Bazaart’ watermark on them.
Bazaart takes a little getting used to, but it does include a lot of pre-packaged templates. If you’re familiar with and enjoy the incredibly popular Canva, then you will likely get on well with Bazaart too.
My favourite things about Bazaart are:
The ‘Stop Motion’ feature. This is how I have created many of the gifs of me moving that come in to my Instagram designs. It does require you to take the individual pictures to use, and can be time consuming, but the process is quite intuitive once you have played with it a little.
The ‘Magic’ feature. Literally click one button and you can cut out the dominant ‘object’ in a photograph. Usually, for me, this will be myself. Or a tiger. But I used it all the time. It’s really reliable and easy to refine the cutout if the ‘Magic’ feature doesn’t quite get it spot on.
Bazaart also has useful features like ‘stickers’ that you can use in your creations. A vast library of shapes that you can fill in with any colour or photo of your choice and is generally a great offer for anyone who has no training in using things like Photoshop, Indesign etc. to create all kinds of content.
It’s easy to export your creations as photos. Or, if you use the Stop Motion feature, as gifs or as video files.
It would take me weeks to write a full outline of how I have used Bazaart but here is an example of something I made using Bazaart alone:
This is probably, now, my most used application. I love it.
I have a reasonable amount of experience with video editing software. Videoleap makes it much easier than other programmes I have used. It does have limitations, but for the purposes of creating what I create without having to use anything other than my iPad, I am finding Videoleap to be absolutely AMAZING.
Again, this is a subscription offering. Videoleap costs the same as Bazaart – around £5 per month.
Videoleap makes having ‘layers’ to your video projects super simple.
It has lots of build in effects that will likely be popular with many – e.g. a Kaleido effect that turns pretty much any video in to a beautiful moving kaleidoscope of wonder.
I also like the ability to search for royalty free stock video to purchase from within the app. This makes life a lot easier. Although be warned – you can be tripped up by adding these videos liberally, without too much thought, and go to export your video to see you’ve spent £50 on stock footage (you do not get charged until you export though, which is great, as you can play with stock footage for free within the app, unlike what usually happens where you must choose stock video for a project and pay for it before you are able to import to video editing software.
Often I will create a background, with transparent areas, in something like Bazaart, or Photoshop, and then layer with video in Videoleap. I also often use gifs created in Bazaart on Videoleap – importing them as a new layer.
(Not simple any of this, is it?) This was made on Videoleap alone, although elements were obviously imported from photos I have taken etc.
Let me start this one by saying that if you’re really interested in creating art on an iPad or similar, you really can’t go wrong with Procreate. Procreate is incredible. No doubt. But I do not include it in this list as I am working from the apps I use most often in the posts I am asked about. And I am often using apps that make things super simple. So whilst I talk about FlippaClip here, because it does a certain job very well, I really would recommend Procreate above all else.
FlippaClip is a pretty basic app but one that I find simple and a joy to use. It is exactly like creating a flip book, only digital. I have a lot of fun with this app and use it to draw my daily ‘anxiety beast’.
Top tip: you can combine an animation make in Flippaclip with VideoLeap by creating an animation on a green background – so it acts like a green screen, and then you can easily add your animation, cut out, in video leap using whatever methods you have come to love there.
FlippaClip allow you to create frame-by-frame animation. If you are new to such things they have some good video tutorials that introduce you to the tools offered and walks you through how to use the app.
The home screen includes two starter projects that serve as models and can be used to learn and practice the ins and outs of frame-by-frame animation.
You can use audio, music, and import images to the frames. It’s a fun app to work with. Lots to play with. My extremely artistic and clever teenage daughter laughs when I choose to use this over ProCreate (it depends what you need to do!) but I really do love simple!
I could probably list another 6 or 7 at least. I do use a lot of different apps, and it really depends on what I am making. But these 3, particularly Bazaart and Videoleap, are offerings that:
Make it simple for those of us with no real training in art and graphic design to accomplish the creation of ambitious projects
Are cheap and work well. Offer good value.
Are, by some way, those I turn to most often.
I do hope this is in some way helpful to those of you who ask me the question about the ‘how’ – particularly on Instagram. The answer really isn’t simple, and it is not at all that I try to keep it ‘secret’ – my belief is that the apps are not really the important part. The imagination is.
I will be writing more of a ‘life update’ post over the weekend.
As always do comment, email me or share this if you enjoyed. I always love to hear from you.
I write, today, on a truly beautiful Spring morning. It was a lovely moment to leave the house to do the school run, little hands gripped in mine, and feel the sun on my incredibly pale skin. It also caused me to pause and reflect on how little attention I had paid to the changing season. Life has been extremely busy for me over recent months. With a backdrop of loss, of stressful things, but also of incredible opportunities and positive change.
When I work, in my own life, on presence, on stillness, I most often turn to my tools in the form of stretching, posture, breathing, meditation, to running, to creating… but they always tend to be ‘doing’ things. The ‘doing’ can, from its effort, allow a sense of stillness to come in the aftermath. Or the stillness can come to the mind in the process – my mind is never less anxious than as I run. It is as if it is entirely cleansed. Running feels like taking my brain to a car wash and letting some kind of magical machine make it sparkle like new. And I get the endorphins at the end too which, these days, I am so much better at allowing to get to work in gobbling up the stress hormones by actually experiencing them rather than going straight from my run, or my yoga practise, on to whatever stressful thing I have coming up next.
What feels important to me right now is to allow the stillness to come in through more subtle practise too. To be present in nature is a big one. I could perhaps say that it doesn’t always feel easy, living as I do in a post-industrial city, the pollution from the main road forming soot over the porch tiles on the daily. But, in fact, where I live is a truly beautiful place.
For a long time I have taken daily walks down an old, meandering, railway line in a nature reserve only minutes from my home. A railway line that has been reclaimed by the earth, allowed to be reabsorbed by nature. Some days I even spot a Muntjac deer. A Muntjac deer! Only minutes from a main road, the local Premier League Football Team’s floodlit training ground and two huge comprehensive schools, in the middle of a city. It never fails to make me feel overwhelmed with joy when I see them dash across my path as the dogs pull at their leads and the squirrels scatter. I walk along the manmade canals with nothing for company but the herons and the ducklings and the swans. I know the local swans well. They become predictable in their presence at certain marker points on my walks. I know their pairings. Last year’s babies, long departed and, to me, missed. It can feel shabby and even bleak on grey days. But it is always very beautiful to me. It always helps me. Soothes.
I haven’t been going so often lately. My dog, Rebel, is very sick. She has cancer. And it’s not curable. She isn’t yet 5. She is having chemotherapy. 16 weeks. We’re 4 weeks in. And she is better, in herself, than she was. Some days are harder than others. She’s a lovely companion, Rebel. She hasn’t really been up to walks. I came to feel as if I was abandoning her to go our usual routes when she cannot join me. The impact on my mind of taking this daily commitment away has been felt through every part of my life. So I need to work out a compromise. One day last week she managed a walk a little of our usual route. It was very lovely to have that 30 minutes out with her. Walking a mile rather than our usual 6. It made me really sad, though, too.
Right now I notice the bumblebee at the window of my yoga room, enjoying what exists, still, of the lavender I planted there last Spring that looks so leggy and sad now. Neglected. The bee doesn’t seem to mind. Just as I don’t mind the shabby, bleakness of the canal path on a rainy day.
Perhaps the answer is to put my usual walking time in to the garden. It certainly needs the attention. In fact that’s a glorious idea because Rebel can join me then, too.
I usually include, in each post, details of what I have been reading. My reading material of late has so much been to support my yoga teaching and practise that my hugely eclectic to be read pile sits sadly in the corner, literally, like a dusty tower of remembrance for what I had hoped for …
You see, reading for pleasure has fallen away somewhat this year so far. Another aspect of my self care and experiences of presence that needs some serious attention.
The most glorious thing I have read in recent weeks, by some way, is a new subscription newsletter from Carolyn Cowan called The Exquisites which she has launched on the rather glorious and fascinating platform Sub-stack.
Substack is a great place to explore, to find interesting writers who have new ideas and perspectives to share. Writers can use it as a platform to say, essentially, whatever they want, unencumbered by editors. I like that independent writers that join the platform own their own content. And it really does attract some incredible writers. Carolyn is my my favourite of those because her writing is other-worldly… exquisite. And what she has to say… what she has said already, is exactly what I need to hear.
Carolyn has made something so unique, so elegant, so beguiling… it really blew me away to have the first issue sent to my inbox a few days ago.
In The Exquisites, Carolyn is taking us on a journey through, as she puts it, an accumulation of Exquisite experiences. Using written word, spoken word, audio, video, gorgeous artwork. . .
It is an email that opens up a very magical interactive experience. It’s very sensory. The whispers and the music and the feelings that come as you follow the practises that you are guided, gently, kindly, beautifully, through.
It’s impossible to do it justice, really, because it has to be experienced to be believed. But when the first issue landed with me it also LANDED me. Like a feather slowly floating to the ground and then nestling in, securely, to rest amongst the twigs and pebbles and earth. I felt divine after working my way through it. Twice. In fact. And I may just do it all again today.
I can’t recommend it enough. Subscriptions to The Exquisites are paid for. The work that goes in to such offers is enormous and it’s a very good thing, in my view, to support talented writers who have interesting and hugely valuable things to share.
If you want to try it out, Carolyn’s offer is £10 per month, or £100 if you subscribe for a year. To me, with the continual offer of horror, offence, violence and stress from platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime, Now TV and the news… £10 per month is the most incredible value to be gifted in return something that has been created only with the aim to give us stillness. To give us an altered experience of ourselves. An exquisite experience of ourselves in an altered state.
If you want to subscribe or find out more go here:
I have a special link and code for 50% off tickets so let me know if you would like that.
Me and my brain
At the start of the year I was invited by The Priory Group to take part in a campaign on Instagram called #ShareTheArt. The idea was that a number of artists (I have never considered myself an artist but was flattered to be named as such) were to be commissioned to create a piece of art as a reflection of the role of creative expression on our mental health. Mental health awareness is one of my biggest passions and art one of my most treasured tools for presence, so I was really excited to take part.
It has been an honour and an incredible experience to be a part of this campaign and I truly believe the message. Art, being creative, helps me enormously. HUGELY.
I did not expect to create what I ended up creating. My plan, always, was to draw ‘My Brain’ (as a character) every day over the duration of the campaign and create something from those drawings. I thought I would be showing me and my mind picnicking in meadows, all still and soothed and serene.
But, really, as I got to work, I knew that wasn’t right. Me and my mind do have those still, soothed, moments. But they most often come as a result of me embracing my mind’s true nature. After creating, laughing and smiling as I go, things where I truly feel I have expressed ME. And I don’t think anything ever has quite like this.
Creative expression is one of the most fantastic tools available to us as humans in managing our relationship to ourselves, our stories, our emotions… what that looks like, sounds like… how it is received by others… to me, that’s not the important part.
The important part is that it helps. It helps you feel present. It helps you feel heard. It allows the release of emotion in a really powerful way.
And my brain is weird. Unusual. It really is. And I’m getting to a place where I really am very proud of that.
The Priory Group are inviting everyone to join in with Share The Art by creating their own piece of art on the value of creative expression. To take part use the hashtag on Instagram #ShareTheArt and tag @priorygroup
And let me know if you join. I’d love to see what you make. You can find more about my journey with the campaign over on my instagram @sarajaynekundalini
Free Classes Continue:
My free classes continue every Saturday morning at 8am. I love them. So much. It’s community building at its best. Totally suitable for beginners. No flexibility required. We breathe together, stretch together and hopefully take the time to land in to the present moment. Maybe even laughing as we go.
In the coming week I will be announcing the dates for my next two workshops. I AM: Creative and I AM: Safe. Both will come with gifts, with affirmation cards and other goodies. I am working on that now. Along with another exciting project that is in my other area of passion and expertise: publishing. I’m going to be publishing something that I hope will be really special. That is likely going to be toward the end of April but I am working with some incredible humans to create something MAGIC for you.
Do stay in touch. Leave a comment, send an email I love to hear from you.
With all my love
PS – if you made it ALL the way through this post (which was much longer than I intended) thank you so much. Mwah! xxx
It’s exceedingly grey and miserable here in the ever-glamourous Wolverhampton. This feels to me the perfect excuse to stay home and ignore the plaintive sounds of Rebel the Golden Retriever, who sits across from me as I type, occasionally offering her paw as a gentle signal that I am not, in this moment, providing her with what she would like. Sigh. I will go out in the freezing drizzle and mud to walk. It’s a must for Rebel and for me too, I never regret it once I am out. A good opportunity to practise Breath of Fire, too. Doing Breath of Fire on a cold dog walk is quite a thing. A great way to get to grips with the breath and a good way to ward off the advances of strangers who will usually assume you are a little strange when you are rapidly pumping your navel as you walk!
We have a week off from homeschool. Hip hip hooray! We’re all absolutely thrilled about this. The kids are still in their PJs today. They’ve been eating cookies my mum made for them for Valentine’s day and generally doing very little else. It’s so quiet in the house. I love it. At least I love it until I go intermittently to check in on the silence and find some kind of horrifying calamity in the bedrooms upstairs that’s come from over enthusiastic Minecraft role-play.
Minecraft has been in my life now for at least 8 years. I must admit that I haven’t ever truly engaged with it until recently but I was very touched when my youngest child this week crafted a restaurant for me and his dad to have a virtual dinner in. I was a blue Power Ranger and his dad was Luigi. The youngest child was the waiter – Super Mario in a cat costume. And, as well as creating an entire restaurant, he’d made virtual menus for us to choose meals from and prepared an assortment of dishes. Unfortunately, my Minecraft skills were not what they they could’ve been and I inadvertently caused quite a lot of damage to the restaurant as I looked around. The entire experience was very sweet until the final moments of our meal when he announced that we would all ‘battle to the death’. It was actually highly amusing and a memory I am unlikely to forget. As I had absolutely no idea how to control my weapon I was killed extremely quickly. The amount of effort he had put in to the whole endeavour was admirable and we were all crying with laughter.
I am finding that it is becoming more challenging to stay present as the weeks pass in lockdown. I have to notice so often that my thoughts have begun to gallop off to the future… bringing with it an activation of a propensity I have toward being somewhat impatient. I find the thing that does really help with this for me is to practise gratitude. In this specific case writing out lists of what I am grateful for right now. Gratitude is a wonderful way to trick the brain and the stress system in to being more present. And I really do have much to be grateful for.
Classes This Week
Yesterday I ran a 3 hour workshop via Zoom where we explored creating safety – becoming safe enough to experience the magic of the yoga mat. We went in some depth in to the individual elements of what, in Kundalini Global, we call the magical equation:
Intention x Breath x Posture = Transformation
It was the first extended workshop I have run this year and I am hugely grateful to everyone who joined me. It was a great experience and I look forward to running it again soon.
This week I teach a free class at 8am on Wednesday morning. The link for that goes out to everyone on my email list on Tuesday evening. If you do not yet receive my weekly email newsletter you can sign up for that, and the free classes here:
I haven’t allowed myself to read much over the last few weeks as I have had a to do list longer than my over-long arms (I really do have long arms) that I needed to get on top of. One thing I have been picking up to enjoy, in quiet moments, are the poems of Mary Oliver.
Mary Oliver was an American poet who won the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize. Her work was largely and hugely inspired by nature rather than the human world, and came from her lifelong passion for solitary walks in the wild. She did, though, write a book of poems about love. The collection is called Felicity and despite being a human who has never, ever, considered themselves to be a romantic by nature, I find them to be extremely beautiful. In a sentimental moment this particular one even made me cry:
Everything that was broken has forgotten its brokenness. I live now in a sky-house, through every window the sun. Also your presence. Our touching, our stories. Earthly and holy both. How can this be, but it is. Every day has something in it whose name is forever.
–Mary Oliver, “Everything That Was Broken,” from Felicity
Consider my sharing of that a little Valentines gift to you all. Do get in touch. Let me know how you are. You can leave a comment below or email me. I always love to hear from you.
Sending you love. I should go for my walk now, right?
We’re a month in to 2021 and it’s been… an experience(!) already. Lockdown 3, if you’re in the United Kingdom, has really pushed at my buttons. Buttons I wasn’t entirely aware were still functioning. The pandemic has come closer to home than ever for me, this month, with many people I know and love suffering from the virus and some of them very seriously indeed. That’s been very humbling to me as I take on what has been, by comparison, a much lighter battle through having my 3 children at home full time as I do my best to still work, to provide them with all of the support they need and to somehow also still play my part in keeping our home functioning at an acceptable level. I don’t think any of us have had a matching pair of socks for about a year now. But we’re all well. And for that I am enormously grateful.
However humbled I am by the experience of others, homeschool has meant that my sense of humour has had to remain very much activated. I have been aghast at my lack of working knowledge in the realms primary school mathematics and, like many parents, perplexed and amused by the insanity of the jargon that’s infiltrated KS2 Literacy. Fronted adverbial confusion abounds. Turns out that English degree and 20 year career in publishing taught me nothing.
How incredible it was, after the first 3 weeks of post-Christmas homeschool, that I was able to take the time to attend a week-long training with Carolyn Cowan called ‘A Path Out Of Hell: Mastering The Addictive and Anxious Nature.’ This week can be undertaken both a personal experience but is also a certified teacher training that, on passing an exam, means you are able to teach yoga for anxiety and addiction recovery in prisons and rehab centres. This training is a truly life-changing experience. Carolyn walks you through, with great care, the ‘whys’ of both substance and process addiction, stepping away from (but with much respect toward) the 12 step model, the disease model, to consider addictive behaviours having routes in shame, abuse and trauma. It’s not a light topic, an intense 7 days, but the transformation that takes place in the room is quite something. Plus we get to do lots of very very lovely yoga.
I have actually done this training before but I felt, at that time, I was not in a place to truly begin to consider how it may fit in with how I move forward as a teacher. Ever since I made the decision to train my hope has been to become a specialist in how yoga may aid us in managing and moving through anxiety and other forms of suffering, and taking on this training for a second time has really lit a fire in me and inspired ways I may move forward.
I AM: SAFE
This coming Thursday (4th February) is the final day that bookings will remain open for my upcoming workshop that explores posture, breath, intention and affirmation through the lens of creating a sense of safety. The workshop takes place on Saturday 13th February, but I need time to post out the package of little gifts and tools that come with bookings.
I’m really looking forward to this 3 hour workshop, the first in a series I plan to run this year. Some really excellent people have signed up already and I feel it is going to be a lovely experience we will share as a group.
I am still very much on the non-fiction train, it is what I am finding works for me in terms of reading for soothing the system… I think it is just how my brain is wired. I do go through phases with non-fiction, and have the most wonderful experiences of getting lost in stories, but non-fiction has my heart. Or my brain. Both, I think!
I needed something light to read in the evenings this week, to fascinate gentleness as the masses of information I took on and processed during the training settled, and I read a really lovely book called The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration Into the Wonder of Consciousness by Sy Montgomery.
It’s not the best book I have ever read, but it did its job – sent me to sleep and dreaming of cephalopods! It’s a little like a long love letter to Octopuses. And it is, as I had hoped it would be, a very gentle book. I already loved octopuses, and reading this book added new layers to that. I took on some new information on their hormones, on how they use these tentacles like conveyors belts to feed, how they show displeasure. They are such clever creatures and wonderful escape artists (can relate!) The book allows for the reader to begin to question notions of consciousness and inter-species communication. I consider myself to be something of a Dr Dolitle when it comes to non-human animals and so I enjoyed this aspect of reflecting on the book.
If you’d like to check it out you can find it on Amazon here (of course you don’t have to do Amazon, I know it’s contentious!) or ask and you can borrow my copy.
Free Classes Wednesday at 8am GMT
I continue to teach my free classes every Wednesday morning at 8a.m. I send the link out to everyone who is signed up to my email newsletter each Tuesday evening. If you aren’t already on that list you can sign up here:
I also teach this week at 7pm on Thursday and 10am on Friday. You can also come to those classes for free with the code FINDSTILLNESS when you book via this website. In these challenging times I do not want money to be an obstacle to anyone coming along to experience the magic of Kundalini Global.
If I see you on the mat this week or not, I hope you have a magical week and do get in touch and let me know how you are. I love to hear from you.
I am a big advocate for journaling, for writing more generally too. I find it to be a soothing practise and also one that truly aids me in becoming more aware of my own thought processes, emotions and triggers.
I have taken on a practise of drawing what my anxiety looks like each day. A creature. The same little creature in many states of being. It is a peculiar practise to keep up in many ways. But I have learnt from it, hugely.
To watch this you may believe that it appears I am incredibly anxious. I do not consider myself to be. Indeed, I am less anxious than I have been for a long time. However, when you pause each day to reflect on your inner world, on where you are at with what we may call ‘the emotional body’ or ‘the pain body’ – and if you connect to that, it is fascinating what emerges. In my case, quite a scrappy little creature who is somehow both adorable and terrifying at the same time.
I was reflecting yesterday, looking over my doodles, on if I would continue the practise for longer. I was sitting quietly, making my way through each little creature, when out of nowhere, having been most absorbed, I reached to pick up my phone. For no discernible reason at all.
I noticed and thought ‘hmmm that’s not so good’ – and it gave me an idea. To journal, too, thoughts that come to me as I scroll through my feeds on social media. ‘Perhaps they will show an interesting correlation to my doodle creature’, I thought.
On beginning this, the first observation I made was that to be able to journal anything at all, to truly notice anything at all, I would need to slow down my scrolling. A lot.
It’s not so much that I wasn’t at all aware of my thoughts as I scrolled but that not a single one was given the space to be acknowledged. Or to pass. Not unless it was triggering enough to make me stop entirely.
I slowed down. And I noticed. And I didn’t really like what I noticed at all. In fact, it was quite shocking. To realise how I fed my negativity bias so readily so very many times a day.
I am making a commitment, now, to being present to my use of social media. To choosing to notice how it makes me feel. And to make changes from there. I truly love Instagram, in particular. It’s been a source of huge joy and inspiration to me. But I truly love my mind too, now. If the two are to collide as regularly as I allow them right now, then to learn to watch their interactions is pretty important. Vital, in fact.
A Free Class Every Wednesday at 8:00am GMT
I am currently offering a free class every Wednesday morning to everyone who is signed up to my email newsletter. I will send out the link on a Tuesday evening.
This class, which is 60 minutes long, will focus on starting the day with the stress system entirely soothed and the mind as still as we can manage.
No experience is necessary and I aim to continue this free offering long term.
If you are not yet signed up to receive my email newsletter you can do that here:
This week I will also be teaching on Thursday evening at 7pm and Friday morning at 10am. For now, I am putting my Wednesday morning 10am class on hold as I need to be with my children at that time. But it will be back!
The following week I will only be teaching my free class as I am on a training course all week. I may add in a second free class that week but will send news of that next weekend.