Looking after myself

Nadia NarainComment

Looking after myself its something I'm learning to get better at. It doesn’t come naturally to be at all. The basics I do more from vanity than anything else, but it’s the real deep nourishment and nurturing that is not so easy for me to access. Last year I worked really hard, and because I love what I do, I don’t always notice how hard I've worked. And I find it very difficult to say no to people. A part of me loves being needed and knowing that I am helping others. When it came to my Christmas holiday, I felt all this weird guilt.  It took a few days to shake it off. It was a strange feeling to notice how clear it was. I felt bad that I was on holiday and looking after myself. A few days in I started to feel so good and so well that I wondered why I didn’t take off sooner!

I've been invited to do talks at companies and what I'm teaching them and my students is that in the words of the great Dalai Lama “you are not qualified to look after anyone unless you look after yourself first”. When you get on a plane and they show you the safety demonstration, it’s the same thing every time……..Put the oxygen mask on yourself first then on your kids.

When I come back from my break I'm always nicer, kinder more patient. I teach great classes and I’m full of life force. It feels great. So I’m learning and understanding how important it is for me to take breaks.

Learning to look after yourself, I think is one of the most important tools we could learn. Learning when is enough, when you need a break, when you need some quiet time even a nap!

Going on retreat is one of my absolute must do’s of the year. Each year I go on a silent meditation retreat. No phone, no computer, nothing! Just me, myself and I getting to know one another again! Last year I also got to take 6 days to spend with one of my teachers being a complete student and learning. It was Incredible.

One of my yoga students has been coming on my retreat each year for the past 6 years. Her son is around 7 or 8 now and she is a single mum that works full time. She knows she is very lucky to have grandparents around, the help of nanny, and now even her ex partner comes and spends quality time with his son. Before she leaves it’s a military operation making sure its all organized for her son, but each year she knows that when she returns, she is a better mother, a better boss, a better friend and all round better person.

Its something that you can only reflect on and see the difference it makes in your life. Time is a luxury. Time for yourself to reflect and retreat and be in nature and practice yoga and meditation and to breath are such essential components for health and well being. I’m learning to look after myself better and as I do, I feel so much happier and light and strong and balanced all at the same time. If I don’t look after myself first, I cant be there for anyone else!

Disappointment ....

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Recently i was really disappointed by a situation. I had all my eggs in this basket and was really excited in every way.

And it didnt quite work out as i had planned. It was a new experience. I have felt disappointment in many areas of life in the past. But i had never in this particular situation. The details are not relevant. What was important was that because it was new, and because i am so much more awake so much more of the time, it was a perfect opportunity to look at all the stress and sadness that followed. I learnt a HUGE lesson about myself, i had never really noticed before.

WHEN I AM DISAPPOINTED IN A SITUATION I TURN IT ON MYSELF. As if it was me that caused it.

This was a big one to get. I started to see that pattern in every area of my life where i felt disappointed.

Going way back to my dad leaving when i was 5. I remember always wondering what i did wrong to make him leave?

It sucks. So every relationship that didnt work out, I blammed myself. Then beat myself up for a very long time. If 1 person didnt like my class or i taught a class or workshop and it didnt go to plan, i blammed myself. Every single situation!

So not only was i saddened by the disappointment, but then i would kick myself when i was down!

It has taken me a long time to see this pattern about myself. Now i can hold disappointment in the box that it belongs. Simply disapointment. Nothing more nothing less. Things dont always work out how we want them to. And it may still take time to grieve the disappointment, this is healthy to do. I now know how to pick myself up, as i would anyone that was down. And treat myself with kindness and love and nurture. 

Even though its taken a while to get it, im glad i finally did! Its very liberating . It means that i treat myself the way i would treat my best friend or one of my students in the exact same situation. With Kindness. With understanding. My words and my actions towards myself are kinder

And guess what?

It takes less than half the time to get over it.

And instead of wasting time wondering what was wrong with me or what i had done wrong, I learnt from the situation. I healed. And im so ready to be creative and figure out new ways to start again.

Disappointments can be some of the greatest opportunities to learn about yourself

Letting go

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They say letting go of something makes space for something new.........

I know that when i look back on my life in times where ive been forced to let someone or some situation go, not by my choice its been a very comforting saying, and has always rung true.

It may take a while but sure enough something else comes along, whether its a new relationship, meeting a new person, a new oppurtunity to work or just simply making space for me!

But when i make the decision to let a situation go its not quite as easy, i question it alot more. I have to trust myself and my decision. I have to take responsibility for my action.

So i decided to spend a bit of time scanning my body and noticing how i felt in my day and actually i felt lighter and more spacious in my head and in my heart.

Feeling the feeling felt like id make the right decision rather than thinking about the decision

It may take a while to fill the space but im quite enjoying having the space open. Ive been working on creating space in my yoga practice in the body and in the mind and now in the choice i make in my life with the company i keep, the work load i take on and any other areas that no longer serve me .

So far its working, not always easy but definitely liberating

Saying thank you for the year past and welcoming the new year

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I just read a letter my friend Elena Brower wrote called an Open letter to 2015,besides the fact that it is a most beautiful love letter to 2015,  it has struck a chord with me and stayed with me.

Usually this time of year I spend some time reflecting on the year gone and the year to come and what my intentions are for next year……….

And it’s funny how grateful I have actually been for the year that has past. It has been a truly wonderful year in every way but not one that was intended at the end of last year!

A few things I had intended on and made happen which has made such incredible differences in my life.

Simply making more space and getting help, were 2 things I had put on my intention list and I did it and it opened up a whole new world for me. But the main part of this year has been that it has been ‘drama free’.  For some of us that were raised in a high drama frequency, my childhood consisted of it daily. There was fighting and there were tears and it was pendulum of emotions. It was rarely calm or nurturing or kind.

So as I grew up, whenever the drama was missing, I’d seek it out wherever I could because it felt so familiar.

But this year, that we are in our last day of, has been free of drama! Horah! Most of the 365 days has been pretty joyful and content. And that is what I have strived for in my life.  The intention that is made every year, to feel Joy and Content with my life as it is and not how I wished it to be. Things have happened, don’t get me wrong, but nothing that was unmanageable and nothing that I turned into a drama.

I learned a lot about looking after myself, and  how that affects the way I look after others and how I am in the world.

I learnt to say no when I needed to (not as well as I would have loved but that’s to work on next year!)

I learnt to like myself, and feel proud of all that I have achieved instead of always comparing to other people and feeling inadequate and hiding, basically like a fraud! It is a good feeling to acknowledge that I’m pretty good at what I do and it moves people.

I’m still learning to soften my edges and pry myself open, rather than be defensive and harden my shell.

And my greatest accomplishment for the past year was keeping a consistent meditation practice daily that feels like if I don’t do it, it’s a bit like going out without brushing my teeth. Hugely liberating and space giving and just all round, hands down best thing I have done for myself. Every day for 5 or 10 or 20 minutes, it doesn’t matter. Simply sitting and focusing on my breath and noticing everything that is going on within me without getting caught up in it all (the drama☺). Returning to the breath over and over and over. Liberating and spacious and loving are the words to describe the benefits of my meditation practice.

I just finished reading a wonderful book called The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer and it really opened some closed doors in my mind and in my heart.  Learning that as much as I want to help people, by asking for help it gives them an opportunity to help and me an opportunity to soften and receive.

So my intention for the year to come is to be able to ask for help without feeling ashamed and to accept help people offer without having a whole internal dialogue about why I shouldn’t.  To soften and to receive and remember that it is an exchange to give and to receive and it’s a beautiful thing for both who participate.

I’m excited about it and I am so grateful for the year that has past, and all it has taught me. It has literally been life changing  . You would not notice on the outside but I can feel the shifts and changes that have happened and it feels good.

Thank you all for reading my blogs and supporting all that I do, and making me happy to get up and do what I do.

Wishing you all a drama free, joyful and contented year to come!

Being present

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Its a tough one. And one they talk about all the time in yoga and meditation classes and books. I never really got what that meant until now............

I started to notice when i got down, when my energy ebbed, when i was negative. And when i followed the pattern it was usually when my mind was somewhere other than the present moment.

For example, if i went to the past and thought about if i had done something differently, said something else, made a different decision or even worse, if some other imaginary situation had arisen (this is the worse because you are in total fantasy!). Or if i go forward and think about where my life is going, if im taking the right steps to make ABC happen.

Another problematic thing is comparing to others. When the mind starts telling you, you should have this or that because your peers do. A house, a baby, a job that earns X amount.

When i come back to being present. Right where my life is in this moment (which is absolutely beautifully awesome at the moment) i usually feel very happy and grateful. Not much has changed but being PRESENT and being GRATEFUL seems to make things very very satisfying. 

So every time i see the energy slump, or the sadness set in. I take 5 BREATHS, and then i notice ... did i go somewhere else? did i want it to be different to what it is, did i compare it to someone else, did i move into the past or the future? And can i come back to the here and now.

When i do, I get what being PRESENT means. Even in the painful times, you are able to feel what is going on as it is. And that usually keeps the feeling brief and manageable.

I think i realize that i liked living in a constant state of 'fantasy'. Enjoyed reminiscing on the past, or creating a future that didn't exist. And what that did was take me away from the amazing life i was actually living.

Being Present feels good. It makes you feel very much alive.

Holidays!

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Christmas is a tricky time for feeling fit and healthy because if I'm honest it's not really the time to be.

It's about excess in every possible way.

Too many deadlines with work

Too many Christmas parties

Too many presents to buy

Too much family

Too much food and drink ....

All round it's a very heightened time in every possible way.

I was asked to write a piece for a magazine on how to keep from feeling bloated.... Well I just don't have a straight answer!

I'm going away this Christmas and where I'm going it's hot and healthy and lots of fresh food and yoga but even we go nuts on Christmas Day and feel totally bloated and take naps and it's the time of year to relax and not get too crazy about that stuff.

A mixture of lots of food, alcohol and sweets are always going to make you feel bloated but here are a few things that can perhaps help without losing the Christmas cheer and being the only one at the table that is only eating the sprouts ( too many of those will cause bloating too!)

One important step to anything digesting is relaxing about it.

Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day are celebrations renowned for their food. Some good, some not so good depending on who's cooking!

Try and keep everything as fresh as possible.

No packet food or processed food...... And use good ingredients such as Himalayan salt instead of processed salt.

If you have the time and are making traditional food, make sure there's also some clean food that's easy to digest. Like blanched greens or roast sweet potatoes.

So you have a choice.

I've also started using some digestive enzymes that helps with digestion before bed if I've eaten a lot of eaten late.

I like to try and eat an early dinner rather than a late one especially when there's lots of food involved and it usually keeps the kids happier....

Try and walk each day. It's the perfect thing to do with whole family after a big lunch or dinner whether you're in the country side or in the city.

As far as a yoga practice goes sometimes it's nice to get some of the family together and go to a local yoga class . If you're visiting your mum she may want to take you along to her class or if you're wanting to inspire someone in the family try and remember a few simple moves and show them.

Really we shouldn't be practicing on a full stomach anyways or after a few glasses of wine so the best thing to do is do a few moves in the morning when you wake up.

Just do what you remember and if you can do 15 minutes not only will it help you feel good in your body but it will give you some space to connect to yourself when there's a lot going on around you.

But most of all try and breathe!
And enjoy yourself in whatever way it makes sense to you!

Change your mind and relax into things as they are

Nadia Narain1 Comment

This morning I woke up from very strange and stressful dreams. You know those ones where you are dreaming but it feels so real.
So I woke up feeling all disturbed, exhausted and a bit down.

I'm on holiday and staying at a friends house and we decided to get the mats out and just do some yoga together this morning. We only had 50 mins and we kept it super simple and sweet. 2 minutes of breathing on our backs to start with, a twist on the back. Coming up to sit and doing a few neck rolls and some spinal flexing. We came onto hands and knees and did some cat /cow which is super simple but one of my all time favourites. Down Dog, a few Sun Salutes. We went to some standing poses. I felt I needed a head stand to shift things a bit in my head. We came back down to the floor for forehead to knee pose (Janushriasana) and then back down to our backs for a few minutes of Savasana.

I sat up and meditated for just 5 minutes at the end.
It was perfect and instantly I feel different.
Not just physically but emotionally.

Yoga really does change your mind set, and although I'm a teacher Im always amazed at how well it works! I keep my practice super simple as that's how I get on with it.

I kept my practice nice and easy for me but wrote it down to hopefully inspire you to do a little bit a day........

When people say what shall I do for an hour and half a day?
Or I can't remember anything for an hour a day
It feels so out of reach that you end up doing nothing.

I just recommend do what you remember. Even if it's only 3/4 poses. Do each pose /each side for 5 breaths. Start with some calm breathing, end with savasana and a little mediation and you'll see how fast 15-20 minutes flies by and how great you feel!
Love
Nadia x

Learning to be kind to yourself

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This is an interesting concept for me and doesn’t come so naturally….

However I spend all my days being kind to others and looking after others and teaching them to be kind to themselves

A very good friend who is a little older and wiser gave me the best piece of advice, I think ever given when I was going through a particularly stressful time in my life “find something nice to do for yourself everyday”

It was a lovely idea but something that took me a while to understand and when I got it, it made a huge impact on how I managed the stress.

People get the concept a little mixed up when they think its just about shopping and buying things for themselves………

Oh yes ill buy those shoes ………. that’s a good excuse to be “kind to yourself”

Or food……….ill eat a box of donuts (and then usually hating yourself……..both bad!)

But I think its right down to making sure you have had some good food in the day, (feeding yourself from nourishment and not from the view that you cant have things)……  Exercisingwith the right attitude, (because it feels good to move your body not because there is something wrong with your body) maybe even taken a nap in the middle of the day, if that is required.

And when I meditate I really notice how mean I am ………to myself! Observing this fierce loop that goes on in my own head and how harsh I am on myself!! Its painful and its exhausting and its just not nice.

Im so positive with my friends and my yoga students and im so hard on myself! I am not practicing what I teach at all!!!!

So it’s a process and although its not easy,  I’m learning and im practicing and its very softening and hugely impactful on my life.

Learning to say no , when ive done enough

Learning to say yes , when im a bit afraid for no real reason

Learning to be disciplined with social media so I don’t look and compare especially when I feel a bit low

Learning to nourish myself , which seems like something that is natural to do as a yoga teacher, and generally it is , but I can be a little too strict at times

The same goes for yoga practice, its ok to not do yoga every day.

It is nice to walk and rest and be gentle some days

But my main practice is watching the mental chatter, and trying to be as kind to myself as I would my best friend or a teenage girl that came to me for help.

Approaching it all gently even the hard stuff and softening my edges.

Softening from my inside out