Sssh Body! I’m Trying To Ignore You….

Tummy . . .

Published on Elephant Journal, July 2012: Elephant Journal

Apart from when my parents are talking at me,  I like to pride myself on being a good listener.  I do genuinely take in and care about friend’s woes or even engaging in a conversation with a stranger. I have friends who have perfected the art of nodding and grunting in the right places, to show you they are listening but nothing can hide the vacant gaze in the eyes. No one is that good.

So now I have admitted to the world that I hold a very high opinion of myself when it comes to listening, what’s the friggin deal when it comes to listening to my body? My very own machine that  carries me through life. The body is a phenomenon, it talks to us, telling us its problems, its worries and pain but often it gets ignored. My best friend in the whole world shouting for assistance but I shut out its bleating and carry on. Now, at the ripe old age of 30, I have finally decided to take note. No more ignoring or selective hearing, I am going to listen intently, in the way I would any other friend.

So for starters, my poor belly-friend bloats after some meals, a nice image I am sure. It always has but it passes and I move on, giving it little to no thought, just subtly unbuttoning my top button. Surely my stomach extending past my toes is a clear indication that something in there is punching my tummy in the face, so I need to stand up for it. By a process of elimination, it appears I am having an issue with wheat. I know a lot of people do but never thought I did. So after a few changes, a bit of rye here and some wheat free pasta there, my belly is feeling happy and loved. Easy peasy. Next!

Crazy day at work, by 3pm I am exhausted, so shattered that I could curl up on the couch and snooze, so I ask why? After a bit of deep thought, ‘am I having a sugar crash?’ or ‘did I not sleep well last night?’, I suddenly realise that I haven’t eaten any food since 10am. This is a total rarity for me being a foody but here we are. I have been starving my friend effectively and now it is seriously lacking in energy. It just wants to rest to conserve what little energy it does have.

Moving away from food (which is always sad) this morning during my yoga practice, I felt a little twinge in my neck. Just a tiny little niggle, nothing to worry about, or in my case think about. Totally ignored it. So when it came to a seven headstand sequence, off I went and by headstand 3, I couldn’t lift up but I tried once more and then it happened, my niggle exploding into searing pain and an inability to move. I could hear my body cackling, rolling about in hysterics snorting something like ‘I warned you, you fool’.

Not long ago, a close friend of mine was experiencing some very strong pain in her stomach (its a sensitive soul, the old tum, tum isn’t it?). I suggested that she go and see a doctor and in the mean time, take some pain killers. The doctor, she eventually agreed to but the pain relief was an absolute no no. Her reasoning being that pills mask the pain and obviously the pain is there for a reason. If her body is experiencing something, she wants to know about it rather than hide it.

This was a real moment for me, in my quest to be a less selective listener. I’m not suggesting that we all boycott any kind of pain relief but I think we can be a lot more comfortable in life if we try to be more cognisant of what the cause may be. A headache is usually dehydration which means your trusty friend is dying of thirst (not in the literal sense, obviously), so popping a pill isn’t feeding you a couple of glasses of water, its just helping you ignore something important your mate has to say.

Regardless of whether you believe that lower back issues are caused by emotional pain or spots in between the eyebrows are telling you that your liver is stumbling around, drunk on red wine, we can’t deny the less subtle symptoms are our bodies giving us a gentle plea to make a change.

By being more mindful of what our bodies are saying and asking ‘why?’, we get that little bit closer to leading a healthier, happier, more energetic and bloat free life, with top buttons remaining firmly fastened at all times.

Leave a comment

Posted by on August 30, 2012 in Food, Health


Tags: , , ,


oh go on then….

a light morning stretch….

Leave a comment

Posted by on August 24, 2012 in Yoga



the dude in the nappy

I’m sure we have all seen the formidable Briohny Smyth performing a seemingly effortless sequence, in nothing other than her briefs but lets wind it back a bit. Sri Krishnamacharya needs some credit for not only developing one of the most strengthening yoga practices we have today – Ashtanga – but he also had a penchant for wearing big white knickers.

 After my yoga teacher training exam, one of our tutors was crying with laughter when he told us, in answer to the question ‘Who created and developed Ashtanga Yoga’ one of my fellow students came up with this gem: ‘The dude in the nappy’.

Sri Krishnamacharya has been labelled “the father of modern yoga,” and is regarded as one of the most influential yoga teachers of the 20th century. Here he is in action:

Leave a comment

Posted by on August 24, 2012 in Yoga


Tags: , ,

to the cyclist this morning…

I’m so terribly sorry. I genuinely didn’t see you this morning when I was crossing the road, which I know you don’t want to hear. The thing is, I have to wear blinkers as my owner says that I spook easily in traffic.

Leave a comment

Posted by on August 24, 2012 in apologies



ashtanga yoga, mysore style

Published on Elephant Journal, June 2012:

The moment I stepped into a Mysore class for the first time will stick with me forever. The beautiful and haunting sound of 40 Darth Vedas struggling with a nasty cold, was overwhelming and to say I was daunted was an understatement. I stood there wide eyed, watching a sea of bodies moving between postures, each creating something different to the next. ‘How do they know what to do?’ I thought to myself, thinking about my own disastrous attempts at self practice.

Before long, out from amongst the limbs, my new teacher approaches and motions for me to sit. I do so awkwardly as she folds gracefully into lotus. ‘So what brings you here?’ she asks. I mention that a friend had suggested Ashtanga, as I was looking for something a bit stronger than my regular Hatha class and implied stupidly that I was quite experienced and had been practicing for a long time.  This, I immediately regretted, as a perfectly toned body, on the nearest mat, stands tall with one leg resting behind his head. My teacher smiles knowingly, seeing my embarrassment. ‘One step at a time,’ she says.

After explaining how the system works, with the occasional ‘Mary, gaze at your nose’ or ‘left foot pointed, John’, directed somewhere into the room, I am led to a spot that can barely fit my mat. ‘Today, we will work through the Sun Salutations.’ I feel my heart sink. ‘I know how to do a Sun Salutation,’ Im thinking, ‘I want to try to get my leg behind my head like that dude’ but I stand at the end of my mat and close my eyes, as she asks.

A moment or two passes and my impatience grows, so I open one eye and look around. I can’t see my teacher but I hear her behind me, from across the room. ‘Close yours eyes, Helen.’ I quickly close my eye. ‘How could she see me?’. Soon, she is back. ‘Patience is one of the greatest lessons we learn in this practice.’ I feel silly….but still impatient.

Over the next forty minutes, or thereabouts, she takes me through Sun Salutations A and B, in more detail than I thought possible. Each posture was held until I felt and understood exactly where it needed to be and by the end my arms were shaking and I was unable to lift myself into up dog. The sweat dripping off the end of my nose was mortifying and I had no towel to mop it up, as who expects a waterfall to fall out of each pore in a Yoga class? ‘Has it been raining?’, my other half asks when I arrive home.

Fast forward four years, I am a different person. I can’t stand up with a leg behind my head yet but I often practice next to some who can. Instead of looking on with jealousy and frustration, I feel excitement of what is yet to come. In life off the mat, I apply this to seeing others already with the things I am striving so hard for. No envy, only acceptance and admiration. Every practice, I hit moments of difficulty and sometimes even panic but the practice teaches me to breath and relax into it. In life, I aim for the same. Being upset and frustrated will never make the situation better, so they are pointless emotions. I have learnt to keep a clear head and breath through life’s challenges and I find positive solutions come to me with much more ease.

Every day I learn patience, by not forcing my body into postures they aren’t ready for or being frustrated when they don’t come as easily as some. I transfer this patience into my day to day living, by applying it to relationships, namely my partner when he leaves the loo seat up and I splash down in the middle of the night. I may be in a slow moving queue or watching someone do something I know I can do faster but instead, I wait patiently or offer genuine help.

But one of the most beautiful things that I learn each morning, is that if you truly practice something, dedicate yourself to achieving it, it will happen. That moment when you lift up, or grab hold, or balance for the first time is truly magical and you have to fight every sweaty thing in your body not to poke the person next to you and tell them what you just did. If you’re lucky, you might even get a congratulatory nod from your teacher, who’s keeping an eye from afar. Its a moment of giddy excitement, just as finally achieving something in your off-the-mat world, that you have been working on forever. Dreams do come true, if you practice, believe, practice, believe.


Leave a comment

Posted by on August 24, 2012 in Yoga


Tags: ,

birthday cake for a grown up year old….

Sculpted by the talented hands of Rachel @

The lovely lady adhered to my requests of wanting to be healthy.

The barman at the pub didn’t.


Leave a comment

Posted by on August 22, 2012 in Food


Tags: ,