10 Tips to strengthen your Home Practice

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The end of the year is a busy time for all of us, with all the commitments Christmas entails, and that can often takes us away from our regular yoga practice at a studio with a teacher.

It can be frustrating to let go temporarily of that precious mind-body time in our week, but we believe a flexible approach to self-care is key to keep grounded throughout this period and beyond.

Steph Wall, owner and principal teacher at the Kali Collective, has put together for you her 10 best tips to help strengthen your home practice and navigate the end of the year busy-ness peacefully.

  

For years I struggled with maintaining a home practice. I made a million excuses, such as I didn’t have the space, I didn’t know what I was doing or I didn’t know how to do it right. But after discovering these techniques, I slowly created a strong home practice. Now I wake up early every morning to move in my own way. During this time, I find my balance, my grounding and my strength to set me up for a beautiful day. This is also where I create sequences to teach during class. This alone time where I can express myself fully. The creativity that arises from my home practice is staggering and exactly what I need to be able to share my practice with others. 

10) Find a quiet place. Set yourself in a place where you know you won’t be interrupted. I prefer to set my mat at the end of my bed rather than in the living room because I know no one will bother me in my room. Finding a quite space is vital for me, otherwise I have the constant worry of being interrupted during my private practice. 

9) No distractions. Phone off. Tell your roommates or family members you need this time for yourself and can’t be bothered. Make it clear to others and to yourself that this is alone time for you. 

8) Music. Set a playlist that you know you can run for a while without wanting to change the song. For me, music has always been my escape. Whether it’s the Nine Inch Nails or Bon Iver,  when I practice with my favourite tunes in the background, I know I’m allowed to wander into my own world.

7) Keep the lighting low. I really enjoy practicing in the near dark, either as the sun is rising or after it has set. Losing that sense of sight by not seeing myself in studio mirrors or even my own body in the light, allows me to just feel what’s going on in my body. What I look like doesn’t matter, as it never really should. 

6) Take advantage of online resources. It’s amazing how many free classes are online. Just google or youtube free yoga practices. Being guided by someone at home opposed to a studio, allows you to create a space in your home that belongs to yoga. This is a great way to get you moving at home until you are able to turn off your computer and move in your own way. 

5) Educate yourself on the basics. This allows you to stay safe. Once you start moving on your own, take the time to figure out the basics. When is it safe to do deeper back bends, twists etc? By trusting and listening to your body, you should have a good gauge of what’s right and wrong.

4) Ditch trying to make a sequence. It is not necessary to have a perfect sequence created in order to practice on your own. Yoga teachers have done hours of sequence training to develop creative, safe ways to move.  For now, maybe consider covering the basics first before making longer sequences. Do one or two poses at a time until you become more comfortable and able to remember a longer order of poses. And if you try something and forget it by the time you get to the other side? Who cares! Do it when you remember. 

3) Keep your practice short. It can seem intimidating to try to create an entire 60-90 minute class on your own. Try setting a goal of moving for just 10 minutes on your own. Once you become more comfortable being your own teacher, you will find that you need more and more time for your practice but let that come naturally. 

2) Trust yourself.  You don’t need to be a yoga instructor to be able to do your own home practice. As long as you know how to stay safe, anyone can practice yoga alone. If you are unsure about a pose, try it, close your eyes and go with how it feels in your body. Your body know’s what’s right or wrong. When you no longer have a teacher there to tell you the correct alignment, you then need to check in with the physical feeling of the pose in your body. If it doesn’t feel right, play around.

1) Stop thinking! Just move. Your practice doesn’t need to be or look perfect. Shut your brain off, forget about being your own teacher and instead do what feels great. Just because you do a warrior 2 every single studio class doesn’t mean you need to do that at home. In fact, take that time to explore other things. Breathe, listen, honour and move.

Take time to develop your practice. Let yourself make “mistakes” and enjoy the expressions that arise within you. 

 

For those of you who are ready to advance their yoga practice after the festive period, Steph Wall is inviting you to Bali on March 10 - 17 2018, on a very special retreat entirely dedicated to fulfilling your potential. With only a small deposit required at this stage, why not treat yourself with a Christmas present with long lasting effects, well into the New Year? 

Connect to the beautiful energy within | a guided meditation by Hannah Moore

The Kali Collective welcomed a new teacher in September: Hannah Moore!

The beautiful and gifted Hannah is now teaching her Vinyasa 1 class every Monday at 5pm. Come and say hello!

From the very beginning, we were very taken by her guided meditations, so we've asked her to record one as a special gift just for you... Let's connect to the beautiful energy within...

Yoga Nidra | The Practice of Welcoming | By Katie Boyle

Yoga Nidra | The Practice of Welcoming | By Katie Boyle

Yoga nidra has taught me that every feeling we experience has a message. The issue is that we tend to welcome only some of our feelings and reject others. We want the difficult feelings – sadness, fear, judgement, guilt, shame, loneliness – to go away and leave us alone. Yet until we listen to what the feeling is trying to tell us, it will only get stronger.

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An Introduction to Arm Balances & Inversions | By Steph Wall

An Introduction to Arm Balances & Inversions  | By Steph Wall

We flew, we balanced, we fell...

And we certainly laughed too! Remember all those reason we spoke about for wanting to learn arm balances and inversions!? Well, top of the list was to have fun and be challenged! And that's exactly what happened. You rocked it and it's been so fun to see some of you put those tools into practice since the workshop! 
I wanted to do a little write up about the workshop because I know it's easy to forget things. Remember that everything is a progression and we build bit by bit until we are upside down and flying around! 

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6 Tips To Advance Your Yoga Practice | By Jenny Clark

6 Tips To Advance Your Yoga Practice | By Jenny Clark

The practice of asana opens us up to possibility, both mentally and physically. You may find yourself in a pose that you once thought impossible or being in a meditative state after a stressful day. When you step onto the mat, promoted my the teacher or not, begin to set intentions. Ask yourself, why am I here? What do I need from this practice? What am I in need of in my life right now? What energy can I invite into my body through this practice that will take me further to my ideal state? Your answer might be the same for a while or it might change from class to class

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How To Squeeze Every Last Drop Out Of Your Yoga Practice | By Jenny Clark

How To Squeeze Every Last Drop Out Of Your Yoga Practice | By Jenny Clark

Schedule your practice into your daily routine. If you need motivation to get on the mat then think about how you felt when you left your last yoga class, that always works for me!

Commit yourself not only to getting on the mat but to fully be there. Arrive to your class at least 10 minutes early. Make contact with the teacher, even if it is a simple hello or a smile. Set up your mat and props. Find a comfortable position and have a mental clearing, releasing anything that is running through your mind and keeping you from being present. Put those thoughts to one side, tell yourself you can revisit them after class. When your make that commitment to be mentally clear you create a clearer path for the teachings of yoga to be absorbed. The next 60-90 minutes is all about you, your body, your energy and your practice.

 After class, move slowly and speak quietly. Take as much time as you need to reintegrate into the world. Sip water or tea and thank yourself for your practice.

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My Acro Experience | By Acro Student, Sandra

Having never done yoga before I didn't know what to expect. I have found the course challenging, entertaining, and lots of fun! The atmosphere is friendly and supportive and everyone helps each other to master the moves. Steph is a fantastic teacher, she is very encouraging, has lots of experience and it's great to work with her. It's a real shame you can't keep her! We will be signing up for more in the new year with steph so we can take full advantage of her before she leaves to continue her adventure! Thanks to steph and kali collective for organising these sessions, we have thoroughly enjoyed it!

Transitioning into the New Year

On Jan 3rd, our belied teacher, Zac and Hollie taught a beautiful 2 hour class themed around transitioning into the new year. A challenging practice to help us move through blockages, shake the dust and come into this year brighter and firm on our feet.

A Thank You doesn't cut it! Our thanks will be embodied action that will ripple through our communities and beyond. 

We love you Zac and Hollie!

Yoga & I | By Yoga Student Nicola Carr

If you had told me a year ago I was heading towards becoming a cruelty free, non-meat eating, yoga practicing person I would probably of laughed in your face.  

What a difference a year makes.  This summer, while on holiday with my family I got a message from a friend asking if I wanted to go to a free yoga class at a studio that had recently opened in Glasgow. The class was only 30 minutes long and so I agreed, having done very little yoga previously (mainly via You Tube in the comfort of my own home).

Fast forward to the day of our class and my friend had to cancel last minute (Don't feel bad if you're reading this Helen!).  It's important to note that at this point, anxiety and panic attacks ruled my life alongside a daily battle with serious body confidence issues.  I instantly spiralled into a pit of self doubt: there was no way I could walk into a room where I didn't know anyone and take a class that was completely foreign to me.  I spent the whole day in a state of panic.  It would of been the easiest thing to just hit the cancel button however I couldn't escape a feeling in the pit of my stomach that I needed to go this class. I somehow forced myself to listen to my gut  and found myself outside of the studio with my boyfriend practically pushing me out of the car.   Once inside I couldn't even bring myself to speak to anyone, my voice just disappeared.  I hid at the back of the class and I practically ran out of the room as soon as the class was over however...I FREAKING WENT AND FINISHED!

 

Almost five months on, I am now a member of the most beautiful yoga studio The Kali Collective  and I'm practicing yoga almost daily.  I've attended a six week mindfulness course which has introduced me to meditation, taken various workshops that have really expanded my mind and completed a 30 day yoga challenge.  It hasn't been easy and I've cried on my mat more than times that I can count but the differences I've felt both in my body and my mind have made it all worth it.  Here are the three main things I've learned through my practice:

Compassion: I've changed a huge amount in the last year and this can be contributed greatly towards my decision to live a more compassionate lifestyle.  However, I would often forget to practice compassion towards myself.  Being mindful of how I talk to and about myself has really opened my eyes to how destructive I could be towards my own self worth.  This in turn has huge implications towards my panic and anxiety.  Think about how you speak to yourself - would you talk that way to  or about other people?  I know I never would.  Replace thoughts like 'I can't do this' (which I'm the queen of) with the acknowledgment that trying something new can be scary or difficult and think 'I'm going give this my best try' and if you don't succeed at first, that's ok, you tried your hardest.

Yoga has given me the time and space to start peeling away the layers of self doubt and anxiety that prevented me from discovering my true potential; practicing self compassion has been key to this.

Gratitude: In the first week of my mindfulness class, we focussed on gratitude.  I started writing a gratitude journal which has really helped begin to change my mind set.  It can be the tiniest of things, (like today I am grateful for my huge Vego bar) however learning to appreciate the gifts that life has given me has allowed me to open my mind towards the possibilities that I may have previously let slip by due to fear.  Practicing gratitude has equipped me to better deal with the shitty situations life throws up. An example is how I deal with panic attacks.  With each panic attack (which are getting fewer and fewer) I get better equipped at dealing with them.  I'm given the opportunity to put what I've learned into practice.

Leading on from this, yoga has taught me to be grateful for my body.  I've struggled greatly with body confidence issues.  I was diagnosed with PCOS this year and for a long time felt like my body was working against me, I'm a serial yo-yo dieter, my weight fluctuates up and down, dragging my self confidence along with it.  I've found that with each new pose I learn, each time I twist a little deeper or stretch a little further, my focus shifts from how my body looks to what it can do.  The more consistent I am with my practice, the more my body craves movement.  

Empowerment: This has come from practicing at The Kali Collective whose ethos is 'empowered movement'.  Yoga has empowered me to explore my mind/body connection.  It still amazes me that I can twist my body into a particular pose which in turn invokes an emotional response (I cry practically every time I'm in pigeon pose for example).  Yoga has given me the chance to take back control of my body and thoughts.  My practice gives me the time to take a moment to work on myself which can be scary, exciting and empowering all at the same time.  I vividly remember the first time I  was taught camel pose. I had the most intense thumping in my chest which for the longest time was the first signal of a panic attack.  However, I had created this feeling through movement and it felt amazing. I finally felt like I was regaining control of my body again and for that, I will be forever grateful.

So here I am, five months later crying while I write this for the girl at her first yoga class, who felt  completely lost and overwhelmed by a ball of panic. If only she could see herself as I do now, one of the bravest people I know.

 

Originally published on   Magic's in the Make Up, Nicolas blog

The Power of Commitment

When a desire to commit presents itself, give it a go. You never know what may happen. Nicola, participated in our llast 30 day challenge. She practiced 6 days a week at the studio and took on a home based practice one day a week. 

Our next challenge starts January 5th. Start 2016 off in the right direction. Committing to a yoga and empowered movement practice gives both physical and mental benefits. You will feel stronger, taller, more flexible and you will move through your classes with increased sense of play and belonging.

Sign up and commit to 30 days of physical and mental personal growth.


Pints and Prana at Drygate Brewery with lululemon

So much love!

This past weekend was Pints and Prana! Along with lululemon Glasgow we brought the yogis of Glasgow to Drygate brewery for a special Vinyasa flow class with Steph Wall followed by craft beers!

All in the name of #fuelhappiness, lululemon's christmas campaign.

So grateful for everyone there, organising, helping or taking part!

Lets do it again!

Studio Savasana

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Our Studio will take a short Savasana from 24th December to 5th January. During this closure we will be resting, rejuvenating and refilling our cup. As a wise one once said, never serve from your reserve. So take this down time to connect with what is important to you, family get togethers, lie ins, fireside snuggles or maybe even walks along the spanish coast (eh Steph!?) Refill your own cup so you can serve those around you in whatever way allows you the shine the brightest. 

You are loved! 

Happy Holidays when they come, The Kali Collective, xoxo

My Journey into Stillness | By Steph Wall

A series of events put me in a situation Ive never been in before.; an experience more powerful than anything I could have ever paid for, any course I could have ever taken, or any advice Ive ever heard. As a person who thrives on excitement, determination and achievement, this experience came to me in the most unlikely of places: I gave everything up and got really still.

 

It all started because I decided to take a job overseas. Had it not been for prior commitments at home, I would have leapt across the pond to the UK immediately. Instead, I have had to spend several months in transition. I decided it that would be perfect to slow down and enjoy my remaining time in the beautiful Okanagan. So I left my jobs, moved in with my boyfriend got super quiet.

 

I was one of those people that busied myself beyond belief and could give you a thousand reasons why

 

My life used to be insane. I was one of those people that busied myself beyond belief and could give you a thousand reasons why. I was teaching around 15 classes a week, working twice a week as a caregiver for a quadriplegic and going to University. I practiced yoga once a day and my spare time consisted of juggling friends, a relationship, homework and marketing my yoga business. So when I took time off, I thought it would all slow down - but I quickly busied myself in other ways doing things I never had time for before like cooking, studying yoga, running and seeing friends and family.

 

It didnt take long for me to realize I was filling my time to ease the intense anxiety I had towards doing nothing. In the rare quiet moments, I felt all the things I was trying to hide. I found myself anxious to get things done when I had nothing to do. I would create weird little deadlines for things that held no importance. I felt guilty for relaxing, as if I didnt earn it. I struggled with my self-worth as I quickly realized I valued myself by who I was as a teacher not a person: my pay-cheques could no longer determine my value because I wasnt getting any. Worst of all, I questioned my relationship with my boyfriend many times. Now we were living together and spending much more time with each other than before. My insecurities bubbled up fast as the tables turned and now time spent with my boyfriend revolved around his schedule and not mine. He was the one that needed some space now, not me. I had to let go of the control I held for so long in order to find a compromise with him. It hit me hard realizing how much I love control -even harder seeing all the excuses I used and believed as a way to justify distracting myself.

 

I realized then, that it was time I had a serious sit down with myself. I made a deal with myself to get more curious about this illusive stillness I was trying to avoid. Here was my opportunity to look straight at the deepest parts of myself and see what I knew it would be the ugly truths behind my anxiety, guilt, insecurities, lack of worth and value, and need to control.

So I got even quieter. I enforced limitations on my phone use: turning it off between 9 p.m and a.m. and only using it on wireless. Realizing the studio was my little escape, I began practicing yoga at home, and no more than necessary. I stopped filling my schedule to the brim with coffee dates and dedicated much more time to just being still, allowing myself to go wandering outside without my phone, to lay in the sun without checking the time, to sit and meditate without setting a timer, to lay on the couch watching repeats of The Mindy Project without feeling guilty. Most importantly, I created space to observe the emotions that would start to rise from the nothingness and then patiently watch them leave. And the lesson I learned was priceless.

My conclusion is this: I understand that the things I do are not nearly as important as I thought. Who I am is what’s important. My friends and family dont care if I teach zero classes or 15 a week; they care that Im happy and healthy. The pay-cheques from overworking were temporary moments of satisfaction that hold little real value now. And all those extra classes I jammed into my schedule because I thought I should, didnt help me feel any less guilty when I sat down to relax. All that happened when I glorified my busy-ness was I let the most special feelings you could have about yourself come from what I did not from who I was.


Feeling valuable without a decent income is difficult for me. So is feeling loved without a jillion coffee dates, and feeling worthy without teaching full classes, or feeling wanted when my boyfriend needs more space. Through working to cultivate these things on my own, though, Ive learned that I cannot allow the external world to define me; as the universe continues to teach me, all those feelings of love, worth, value, and security can still be present when you have nothing at all. Because stillness is not nothing.

 

Winter Warmers | Upcoming Events at The Kali Collective

Stay committed to your practice during the shorter and darker days. The benefits of being on the mat are that you will be able to bring your own sunshine!

Join us for a workshop and be sure to head along to our Christmas pot luck dinner party. We are really excited for this - being able to gather as a community outwit a class will be a great way to connect. Bring along something to eat and share with everyone else. We will all be brining a dish to share so Im sure there will be some fun in discovering new foods that go together! 

Big Warming Holiday Hugs xoxo

What yoga gave me | By Steph Wall

 

By far, the best thing that has ever happened in my life is yoga. It saved me. This is how.

Yoga gave me my body back. When I first stepped on a mat at 19, I was physically and mentally deteriorating. I didn’t realize at the time but looking back, I see how small I was. My shoulders slouched, my skin was dull, my head hung in worry, anxiety, fear and stress. My hair lost its lustre, my heart lost its vigour. Even at such a young age, the years of built up stress from zero confidence, zero self worth, zero self love all dumped onto a pile of regrets and mistakes took it’s toll mentally and physically. I didn’t even realize that is who I had become until I broke through to the other side. It’s no wonder I developed a disease in my back. I carried a heavy load for a very long time. My back finally collapsed on me at 23. Three doctors internally giggled at me for wanting to still do my yoga teacher training which was five days away but I was still pulled to stay with my practice. I mentally gave the doctors the middle finger, never took their pain killers (that’s a lie, there were a few desperate times of agony), listened to my gut and took that flight to Nicaragua for my training. Although I saw the effects of yoga from the time I first started, the real excavating began during my training. I did three hours a day of practice without being able to do anything with flexion in my spine (anything remotely close to a forward fold) but I still did it. 99% of the time in the back corner with tears in my eyes but I still freakin’ did it. You should see my forward fold now.

You would never know I have Degenerative Disc Disease. I wonder what would have happened if I took my doctors advice and popped pills, refunded my teacher training and became another person that goes through life with back pain. Yoga gave me the strength mentally and physically to take control of my body, face my challenges, and chug along with my very imperfect, wonderful body. Not only can I wake up and fall sleep without pain in my back but my skin glows, my hair shines and curls into a crazy mess, my heart pumps fuller and harder, my lungs expand wider. The painful TMJ (Temporomandibular joint dysfunction) I had for years from perpetually clenching my jaw disappeared. And at only 5’5 feet tall, I swear I feel at least the height of Shaq.

Yoga gave me the chance to be Steph Wall. For many years I floated through life not sure of who I was. I allowed myself, as many of us do, to be defined by what others thought of me. People said I was shy, so I became very introverted. I got made fun of for my skin colour and big eyes so I forever avoided mirrors in shame of what I looked like. I was told I wasn’t funny so I stopped making jokes. The list goes on and on. Yoga however, allowed me to discover who I was. Actually, It forced me to. It chiselled and chipped away at all the layers of who I thought I was, until I was faced with the inner, deep, buried, chunk of gold which is Stephy. The process was ugly, ungraceful, and hard. I cried many times on my mat, I’ve had to run out of the studio to throw up during practice, I have dealt with inner anger, resentment, frustration and many more ugly things on my mat. But I discovered who I really was. The first time a teacher offered up “letting go with every exhale” I was like really? I can let of my junk just by breathing? And I’ll tell you, I let go with every damn exhale after that. As I exhaled, I found a new space that needed to be filled. The tiny speck of gold that was at the core of my being began to grow and filled all the empty spaces. I didn’t know who I was until I was ripped apart, chewed up and scattered all over my mat during this thing called Power Yoga. For me, only once the bits and pieces of who I thought I was were laid out in front of my eyes, did it become clear. The gold was put back together into something brighter and stronger, and the rest was taken out with the trash.

Yoga allowed me to be the most imperfect person on the planet. Some call it a “type A” personality, some call it being a control freak, I’ll say plain and simply that I lived life with a stick up my ass. I was a perfectionist. I wanted everything done my way, I had to be right and anything less than that was completely unacceptable in my books. I have no idea where this came from as I have the most loving, supportive family and friends, but something inside of my did not accept anything less than perfection. Then I realized through yoga how unbelievably wrong that all was. Truth is, I’m far from perfect. I am a vegan that eats fish. I’ve been practicing handstands for years and still can’t do one. I get rejected by guys a lot. I don’t have much money. I sometimes get a B in school. I use swears instead of adjectives. I’ve made more mistakes than I can count, but I discovered on my mat that all these imperfections were not only okay, they were exactly what I was supposed to be. As long as I was living my life as my interpretation of my best self, doing actions out of love, and following my passions, my imperfections were no longer “flaws” they were part of my character. I was allowed to just be…me. In September I’m giving up fish and maybe one day I’ll get a handstand. Maybe one day I’ll make more money or trick a fella into liking me but honestly whatever happens, or doesn’t happen, is just fine. 

Yoga gave me power. I quickly discovered that who I was on the mat was who I was becoming off the mat. I liked yoga a lot initially because I found it was the only place where my ADD monkey brain would shut up. It was the only place I found quiet in my chaotic world. It was the only place I was relaxed. Without even trying, I saw this transcend into my daily life. Slowly, this calm and peace carried on with me after practice, longer and longer until (after a couple years) I found that there was no difference to who I was on or off the mat. Once I allowed myself to calm down and de-stress, the fun began. Who else could I become in the studio? What else could I create? If I could be powerful, strong and steady on my mat, could I be that person when I left? Damn right I could! I could be a fierce warrior, a steady tree or a still lotus in the studio, and no one said I couldn’t be that after I rolled up my mat. So I became that. I found the power to take control of who I was and I allowed myself to live out all the great qualities I found in myself as I breathed, stretched and sweat.

I’m not trying to make myself sound tough and awesome. I fall a lot in practice. I fall a lot in life. I cry on my mat sometimes. I cry in my bed a lot. Sometimes I don’t know how I’m going to make it through practice. Sometimes I don’t know how I’m going to make it through the day. I get scared, feel vulnerable, and doubt myself, as I do also in my daily life. But Yoga gave me life. A nod to carry on, keep my chin up and keep moving. It gave me the power, strength and confidence mentally, emotionally and physically to go through this thing we call life. With passion. With vigour. With courage. With audacity.

It gave me….me,

Steph Wall,

the fish eating vegan,

with Degenerative Disc Disease,

who can’t do handstands,

and has a dirty trucker mouth.

 

By Steph Wall