Any time we rely solely on our heads to guide us, it usually ends in tears.

No matter how many times we are gifted this lesson in various forms from the universe, most of the time we end up siding with reason and rationale instead of aligning with what our hearts are (constantly) saying, which is be love and just trust.

So why is it so hard for us to get out of our heads and into our hearts?

We humans are funny creatures. We are predominantly and instinctively creatures of habit, but we also have brought with us when we incarnated, this conscious ability to choose and therefore manipulate our own fate; and that’s where we often go awry.

I see people meet this challenge on the mat all the time. They’re stuck in their heads and unable to surrender to whatever is showing up in the moment. The mere thought of dropping out of their mind and into their heart is too scary a concept. I’ve held hands with people physically shuddering as they struggle to allow themselves this intention and I wholeheartedly understand this because I too have critiqued myself many times throughout my own journeying and struggled regularly with surrendering my head stuff in favour of trusting my heart to make the decisions. In the past it was my inner academic, my perpetual analytical student, that would always question that which wasn’t overtly obvious or visibly tangible, suspecting that there must be a secret formula hiding somewhere that was just beyond my reach, waiting to be discovered! It just couldn’t be that simple! – letting something that was already inside me – my heart – lead the way.

And no wonder. As a species we are genetically I-need-proof-programmed beings and we are taught to follow blindly, not to follow our instincts. That primal connection severed when our ancestors decided they were superior to all other creatures as well as Mother Nature and imposed the beginnings of social structure across all tribes. It’s when WE became ME: The world according to Adam. It’s actually designed to be WE, not ME btw.

This moment in time marked a division between the head and the heart without anyone fully realising it at the time, not just because consciousness wasn’t fully developed, but because the need to be included, acknowledged and revered by their peers (out of fear, shame, guilt and grief) – and luckily for those wielding the control switches – over rode the individuals’ desire to stand out from the crowd, speak up and risk being different.  The head said that wasn’t a safe place to be, and mass vibration reiterated it. So heart energy shrank – collectively as well as in the chests of every man, woman and child – and She has held that wounding ever since.

For me, it wasn’t till major adrenal fatigue rocked up and forced me to surrender to doing-nothing-ness that I got the chance to listen to my own heart uninterrupted. Time out from work and associated pressures will do that to (and for) you. All the repetitive justifications that occupied the surface and therefore subconscious layers of my mind, reared their heads to haunt me 24/7. My conscience came knocking basically. It’s what happens to all of us when we have too much time on our hands; we start to enquire, investigate and ‘face’ our true selves.

The self ownership process is a very interesting and confronting experience as many of you know, but mine was perfectly timed and welcomed because thankfully I was awake enough to realize that I couldn’t go on living as I was, nor working in the industry I was in. I was stagnant and I knew it. I wasn’t honouring my purpose – heck, I didn’t even know I had one – and I certainly wasn’t paying any service to it. Sure I was a yogini, I practiced loving kindness, I didn’t cause or intend any harm to others, animals or the earth, and I always tried to do my best, but something was missing. I felt lack on some level but as much as I juiced and contemplated my navel chakra, I couldn’t put my finger on it.

My over active Gemini mind kept me fatigued and agitated a lot of the time but ironically it also provided me with great insights and opportunities to see myself without the rose coloured glasses on and to see the bravado defences that I had in place to keep me feeling safe and worthy. I saw my patterns of avoid, push-through, soldier-on and deflect, as clear as day. I was shown the depth of my fears and the armoury I had meticulously constructed over the years as a way of coping with not coping. I cried. Howled actually. A lot. The small me, the unconscious me, felt secure with all these invisible constructs in place, but the bigger me, the spirit me, knew better. She saw straight through all my bullshit.

Something needed to shift. My mind, my ego, needed to make friends with my heart again.

Sounding familiar?

I’m sure many of you have had cathartic conversations with yourself before – we are all human after all, same shit, different story – so I trust you’ll get what I mean when I say that learning to cultivate a neutral mind, an open heart and negotiate a positive outcome where both sides of yourself feel heard and held equally, is no mean feat. I’m talking about the light and the shadow here if you hadn’t picked up on that already. In fact, it’s probably one of the hardest things you can undertake during your spiritual journey. Learning to listen to the committee inside your own head without reacting to every single opinion and just allowing all dialogue to flow as it comes, through the heart, and regardless of what spectrum colour it is.

I think it’s called self mastery; although some may call it teetering on the edge of self delusion lol.

The heart knows all about the head and its wily ways which is why it sits calmly below in our chest, watching the drama unfold and breathing it all through the higher channels of patience, compassion, love and universal understanding – plus (thankfully) a damn good sense of humour! Did I mention patience? Yes, She, luckily for us, has limitless patience. She’s known the time would come when we would wake up and want to reclaim who we are. She knew, and trusted in, her twin Maya. (The cycle of life).

The heart understands the human condition. She gets us and why we do the silly, stupid, arse about things that we do. Her sacred vibration threads all of us together like a giant spider web around the earth and when she senses we need a gentle wake up call, she’ll just pluck on one of those cords, reminding us through either dreamscape, meditation or via a series of mystical, magical and unfortunate (yet totally fortunate on the soul level) events, that we are still all connected. One small tweak and she can bring us all back to LOVE. One loving tug and she reminds us of Universal Truth – the truth that yes, our mind is a useful tool but it is our spirit wisdom that ultimately overrides all other systems we’ve got going; the systems that ‘the powers that be’ have been reliant upon to keep us communally in check for so long. The man-made systems that, unlike anything created naturally, have a use by date. Nature never expires – she regenerates, rebirths and re-calibrates Herself. The matrix of Mother Earth supersedes anything man can think up in his head or build with his hands. She created us after all.

Try an experiment tomorrow if you like if this all sounds too hypothetical or impossible. When you wake up make a promise to yourself to get out of your head and back into your heart as much as you can and just see what manifests. Sit in whatever comes, whatever goes, whoever says what or not, and breathe into your heart with complete trust. Allow Her to take the reins, if only for one day, so you get a good taste of those primordial memories we all share. Give yourself a chance to experience yourself as plugged into something so much bigger than what the mind says you are and wants you to believe you are.

When you stop THINKING and start BEING, you realize it’s your natural state of play.

AUM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When we are given options we get confused, but when we have that intrinsic ‘right’ taken away, we get our noses out of joint. So why is it that we more often than not, we choose the practices, relationships, foods and even belief systems, that offer us less than we need in the long term and seemingly more in the short?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Who are you anyway?”

 

Self observation, reflection, ownership, accountability, resurrection.

 

 

 

 

“The life cycle of a yogini”

 

The main phases that (most) female yoga teachers will morph through in the first 5 years of their new ‘life’:

 

YTT

Attending workshops and other YTT’s

Attaching to a famous teacher and parroting their work – celebrity worship basically

Offering specific workshops based on this teachers’ work

Get a job at a studio, or several ones

Buy your own studio or start up one with other yoga teachers

Start your own Retreats – although completely unqualified to do so just yet

Get pregnant

Start teaching prenatal classes during your pregnancy

Have your baby

Start teaching post natal/mums and bubs

Offer more workshops – now aimed at mothers and yoga for parenting

Get back into retreats – but because you need money, not because you have the energy!

And because you realise you’ve been so out of the loop that you have no choice.

Decide to offer YTT yourself

OR go back to where you studied as a teacher trainer.

Decide that you’re over the yoga industry and reduce your classes and profile on facebook

Have a complete break

OR a short hiatus and then return, reinvented as a self appointed ‘senior’ teacher

Decide to have another baby.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

YOGA BURNOUT: THE NEW BLACK

 

Those of us who have been teaching for long enough will relate to this completely, and if you haven’t reached your saturation point yet; that point where one day, somewhere between your second class and your fifth, you realise you have actually crammed way too many classes into your working week for far to long and no wonder you can hardly get out of bed because you’re so buggered! Or you’re sick on a regular basis because your immune system is shot to shit. Don’t worry, it will come, and you will have to face the reality that you are not the super yogi that you thought you were, that your body has use by date like every other and that people will actually cope if you have to cancel a few classes because you’re outta gas.

 

This learning curve is all a natural part of your journey as an ever evolving teacher; learning your own limitations and respecting your own boundaries so you can teach others the same.

 

Yoga burnout is actually more common than you think.

Most yogis just don’t talk about it.

It’s the Ganesha in the room.

 

This unspoken dialogue however is one we are all very familiar with – senior teachers especially – but unfortunately the perception is if you share out loud that you are exhausted, fatigued or quite frankly, just plain over teaching and bored with it all at the moment, that you will be seen as a failure or losing your edge in an exceedingly competitive market. Yes, even in the yoga world, there is pressure among peers.

 

I’ve had major yoga burnout twice in my career and I’ve been teaching for 17 years so I think myself lucky it hasn’t been more. I have also danced on the edge of mental and emotional collapse a few times in between and I know that is because I have purposely over extended myself out of fear of upsetting or disappointing others. Plus, I was dealing with some intense personal situations at the time and everything just compacted. I lived on chocolate for a few months, which of course made things worse, but it was just where I was at. Most of that soldier on attitude changed however when I became a mother because if that whole out-of-one-body-into-another experience teaches you anything, it is to honour yourself and put your family and your needs first. If mummy is well and happy, everyone is well and happy! Including your student family.

 

I have learned the hard way so I hope these few anti-burnout tips will serve you well and help you avoid some of the more common industry traps:

 

1 Know your own body

Listen to your body, your joints, your energies, your emotions and your thoughts so you can consciously gauge when you are getting close to exhaustion point. If you aren’t breathing steadily; if you’re flying off the handle at your kids regularly or waking up resenting the fact that you have to teach instead of being enthused about sharing what you know, that’s a sign to stop and back off.  If that familiar ache or injury is starting to rear its ugly head again also, that’s another red flag to take notice of. Stay in your pyjamas. The world will keep turning.

 

2 Let go of any fear of judgment

People will cope if you are sick or chronically fatigued. Most of them – especially the parents – have been there before. If you communicate honestly with your community of yogis and explain you need a break, they will understand, and appreciate you more. They’ll also respect the obvious fact that you are making time to look after yourself and that you are living what you are preaching to them.

 

3 Don’t worry what everyone else is doing

We live in a juiced up social media world where yogis often appear to be on steroids, they are doing so much and bouncing around various locations from one asana selfie to the next. Let go of the (understandably human) attachment to “keeping up with the Joneses” and focus on what you need to keep your fires burning. For all you know their smoothies could be laced with cocaine not cacao.

 

4 Take regular breaks

This means every day, not just during school holidays or on the weekends. Make time in your day to stop, breathe deep, have a cup of tea, throw your legs up a wall – even if you’re outside somewhere, use a tree – and embody what you know works to counterbalance life and all the things on your to-do list. If you don’t, breakdown is around the corner.

 

5 Breakdown in order to breakthrough

You know yoga is a powerful healing tool and that often the deepest, most cathartic ‘ah-ha’ moments come from left field, disguised as trauma or intense stresses, so embrace everything as it lands in your body and communicate with all sensations on a daily basis as a way of staying aware of every little energetic nuance on offering. Sometimes we need to break down and through in order to come out the other side – “the only way out, is through” and I share this with my peeps all the time – but we also don’t want to be pushing ourselves to the edge all the time and teetering over the cliff because of some out dated belief system or coping mechanism.

 

6 Avoid alcohol and other stimulants when you are low

This is important because there are so many yogis indulging in all sorts of things nowadays from Aspirin to Ayauasca. It all comes back down to knowing yourself and what drains or enhances your energy system. Be mindful that you are still vulnerable like anyone else and that you have one of the oldest systems at your fingertips to support you on all levels at any time. Cocoon in your yoga cave and meditate to receive what you need from the inside. Any sort of stimulant is going to take you out of your body instead of into it – even if it feels in the moment that you are more in touch with yourself and receiving inspiration or renewed energy. Stay clean and stay clear. You immune system will thank you for it.

 

7 Change your practice

I know that the fact that I teach an extremely nourishing, conscious and seasonally connected style of yoga has kept me balanced on all levels more than some other more punishing styles – who shall remain nameless – would or could. See your particular practice for what it is, and adapt it as you intuit. You don’t always have to do a full session every day – sometimes just a couple or a short sequence of specific postures, is enough to alleviate and maintain. Sometimes even just one posture can do the trick if you tweak it right. Be gentle with yourself as you would be with your students and adjust movement, focus, pace and power so you reduce your risk of boredom as well as burnout.

 

Whether burnout is on the horizon for you or rests silently in the background landscape of your experience, the best thing above all is to just commit to looking after yourself NOW and trusting your hormones when they say you’re doing too much.

 

From that space you will cope with anything that comes your way. On and off the mat.

 

AUM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

YOGA BURNOUT: THE NEW BLACK

Those of us who have been teaching for long enough will relate to this completely, and if you haven’t reached your saturation point yet; that point where one day, somewhere between your second class and your fifth, you realise you have actually crammed way too many classes into your working week for far to long and no wonder you can hardly get out of bed because you’re so buggered! Or you’re sick on a regular basis because your immune system is shot to shit. Don’t worry, it will come, and you will have to face the reality that you are not the super yogi that you thought you were, that your body has use by date like every other and that people will actually cope if you have to cancel a few classes because you’re outta gas.

This learning curve is all a natural part of your journey as an ever evolving teacher; learning your own limitations and respecting your own boundaries so you can teach others the same.

Yoga burnout is actually more common than you think. Most yogis just don’t talk about it. It’s the Ganesha in the room.

This unspoken dialogue however is one we senior teachers are familiar with especially – but unfortunately the perception is, if you share out loud (or on social media) that you are exhausted, fatigued or quite frankly, just plain over teaching and bored with it all at the moment, that you will be seen as a failure, a fraud or losing your edge in an exceedingly competitive market. Yes, even in the yoga world, there is pressure among peers.

I’ve had major yoga burnout twice in my career and I’ve been teaching for 17 years so I think myself lucky it hasn’t been more. I have also danced on the edge of mental and emotional collapse a few times in between and I know that is because I have purposely over extended myself out of fear of upsetting or disappointing others. Plus, I was dealing with some intense personal situations at the time and everything just compacted. I lived on chocolate for a few months which of course made things worse – well at least it was organic and dark! – but it was just where I was at and so I surrendered to it. Most of that soldier on attitude changed however when I became a mother because if that whole out-of-one-body-into-another experience teaches you anything, it is to honour yourself and put your family and your needs first. If mummy is well and happy, everyone is well and happy! Including your student family.

I have learned the hard way so I hope these few anti-burnout tips will serve you well:

1 Know your own body

Listen to your body, your joints, your energies, your emotions and your thoughts so you can consciously gauge when you are getting close to exhaustion point. If you aren’t breathing steadily; if you’re flying off the handle at your kids regularly or waking up resenting the fact that you have to teach instead of being enthused about sharing what you know, that’s a sign to stop and back off.  If that familiar ache or injury is starting to rear its ugly head again also, that’s another red flag to take notice of. Stay in your pyjamas. The world will keep turning.

2 Let go of any fear of judgment

People will cope if you are sick or chronically fatigued. Most of them – especially the parents – have been there before. If you communicate honestly with your community of yogis and explain you need a break, they will understand, and appreciate you more. They’ll also respect the obvious fact that you are making time to look after yourself and that you are living what you are preaching to them.

3 Don’t worry what everyone else is doing

We live in a juiced up social media world where yogis often appear to be on steroids, they are doing so much and bouncing around various locations from one asana selfie to the next. Let go of the (understandably human) attachment to “keeping up with the Joneses” and focus on what you need to keep your fires burning. For all you know their smoothies could be laced with cocaine not cacao.

4 Take regular breaks

This means every day, not just during school holidays or on the weekends. Make time in your day to stop, breathe deep, have a cup of tea, throw your legs up a wall – even if you’re outside somewhere, use a tree – and embody what you know works to counterbalance life and all the things on your to-do list. If you don’t, breakdown is around the corner.

5 Breakdown in order to breakthrough

You know yoga is a powerful healing tool and that often the deepest, most cathartic ‘ah-ha’ moments come from left field, disguised as trauma or intense stresses, so embrace everything as it lands in your body and communicate with all sensations on a daily basis as a way of staying aware of every little energetic nuance on offering. Sometimes we need to break down and through in order to come out the other side – “the only way out, is through” and I share this with my peeps all the time – but we also don’t want to be pushing ourselves to the edge all the time and teetering over the cliff because of some out dated belief system or coping mechanism.

6 Avoid alcohol and other stimulants when you are low

This is important because there are so many yogis indulging in all sorts of things nowadays from Aspirin to Ayauasca. It all comes back down to knowing yourself and what drains or enhances your energy system. Be mindful that you are still vulnerable like anyone else and that you have one of the oldest systems at your fingertips to support you on all levels at any time. Cocoon in your yoga cave and meditate to receive what you need from the inside. Any sort of stimulant is going to take you out of your body instead of into it – even if it feels in the moment that you are more in touch with yourself and receiving inspiration or renewed energy. Stay clean and stay clear. You immune system will thank you for it.

7 Change your practice

I know that the fact that I teach an extremely nourishing, conscious and seasonally connected style of yoga has kept me balanced on all levels more than some other more punishing styles – who shall remain nameless – would or could. See your particular practice for what it is, and adapt it as you intuit. You don’t always have to do a full session every day – sometimes just a couple or a short sequence of specific postures, is enough to alleviate and maintain. Sometimes even just one posture can do the trick if you tweak it right. Be gentle with yourself as you would be with your students and adjust movement, focus, pace and power so you reduce your risk of boredom as well as burnout.

Whether burnout is on the horizon for you or rests silently in the background landscape of your experience, the best thing above all is to just commit to looking after yourself NOW and trusting your hormones when they say you’re doing too much.

From that space you will cope with anything that comes your way. On and off the mat.

AUM