Why We Should Practise Hard Poses - By Adam Hocke

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Confessions of a handstand junkie

When I was a new yoga student, no wall was safe from handstand hops. No late night party was inappropriate for a boast of my inverting prowess. No back patio was free from attempts that embarrassingly proved those boasts wrong. I craved handstand and I didn’t know why or for what purpose.

As a yoga teacher twenty years deep into my practice journey, I now find that the simplest poses are the most effective in achieving the majority of mine and most people’s practice aims - usually stress relief, a general sense of ease in the body, and a connection to something greater. But I’m no snob about the merit and benefits of so-called hard or flashy poses like inversions and arm balances. I simply see their role a bit differently now. To me, they are signposts on an oftentimes arduous and labyrinthine yogic path that if followed correctly can keep us aimed squarely towards physical and emotional growth. In my practice and teaching, this is what I believe they have to offer:

Tough poses build discipline

Aside from the few who seem to learn to press-up before they can walk, inversions and arm balances demand hard work sustained over time. Often, we have more failure than success. Faced with the difficulty of these poses, we are forced to confront our physical limitations and capacity for patience. To eventually execute a tough pose you have to commit to incremental, repetitive, and consistent practice that compassionately navigates into the places that confuse and scare you. The last time I checked, that’s exactly what we need to ensure the discipline and focus of our daily mat time. Tough poses keep us engaged over time and allow us to see tangible progress in a practice that is often subtle and intangible in its benefits. These days, I always have a tough pose or two I’m working on to serve this discipline-building purpose.

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Tough poses are can be fun

Sometimes you reach the big pose for the first time and you freak the F out and curse and fall, sometimes you revel in the excitement, and sometimes you realise it’s no big deal at all. I’ve seen students invert with my help for the first time and see a Marie Kondo-like joy spark within that maybe had been dormant for a long time. How many negative thoughts and feelings of inadequacy might that little bit of joy squashed?

I think it’s okay to put virtue and spirituality aside and just acknowledge that these poses are fun and why shouldn’t we have a little fun in our lives? Of course, tough poses can also not be fun if they confuse and aggravate you, but there’s a strategy to stay out of that headspace.

Tough poses are different for everybody

Tough poses should not be alienating and divide the class into competent and incompetent yogis. Let’s maintain a sense of humour and an inclusive approach to practising and teaching them. Let’s avoid ideas like ‘the full expression’ of a pose. In my opinion, any attempt that works kindly and sanely within one’s natural limitations to approach and practise the pose is the pose. Handstand can be handstand in the center of the room or at the wall. Handstand can be handstand while held by a teacher or friend. Handstand can be handstand lying down on the floor. Handstand can be handstand while seated, breathing, and visualising the attempt. This broad inclusivity can keep us out of beating ourselves up and hopefully keep us in the joy of the practice. Every pose has numerous ways of changing the orientation to gravity and amount of support. Where there’s a wall, brick, or helping hand… there’s a way.

Tough poses bring us all together


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As teachers and students, when we have a room full of yogis of different ages and skills practising a tough pose in a variety of imaginative ways we should wonder at the diversity of expression. Despite all that makes us different from the person on the mat next to us, we are essentially on the same path.

When it comes down to it, your ability to practise handstand or crow has little impact on your life - I’ve yet to see it called for in a job interview. What does matter is how we use these poses to understand more about ourselves and each other. That to me is far more interesting than a selfie boasting of our achievements.  So what pose are you working on, and what are you going to learn from it?



Adam Hocke is coming to the Kali Collective

March 16 & 17th!

Find your Flow: Rhythmic Vinyasa for Mental Wellbeing

Arm Balances and Inversions for Everyone

Why Bali? Because it’s where I come alive.

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You know that feeling when you are really, really thirsty and you finally take a big gulp of cold water and feel it trickle through every single cell? It's like you start to wake up from the inside out, and parts of you deep inside come alive. Or after being separated from someone you love very much and seeing them again for the first time, like electricity pulses through you and lights you up in every direction?

Many things do this to me, but some of the most potent of these experiences have happened in a specific part of the world. Three places do this to me every time; Whistler, Canada, The Scottish Highlands, and Bali, Indonesia. When I am in these places, it feels as if two long lost lovers have been reunited again, like I'm back home after a life long journey.

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There is a pulse in Bali that I feel intensely. Maybe it's the crisp air, or the rhythm of the jungle, or the gentle wrapping of the warm sun around me that recalibrates me back to my true essence. A surge of inspiration fires through me, and when I'm in Bali, I feel like anything is possible. My skin clears and glows, my hair flows into its natural wild, my body flourished from the beautiful, soulful food and I truly come alive.

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The Spirit of Bali resonates deeply with the Spirit inside me, which is life in deep reverence for the Earth, for tradition, for the Spirit world and well, Yoga. For me to walk the streets of this Hindu island and see them named after great Gods and Goddesses from Hindu mythology lights me up and makes me feel a deep sense of belonging, walking alongside these characters I love so much. To me, the Balinese people embody the essence of yoga. The culture is complex, dynamic, rich and full of depth. They embody what it is to respect both the Earth and the Spirit realm. The seen and the unseen. The known and the unknown. Just like yoga, the island is flooded with superficial, pretentious people, businesses, ideas and suffers its abuses. And yet, deep below the hustle and bustle and wheels turning to please those who want to tick Bali off their bucket list, there remains a potent, profound alchemy and Spirit in the air and in the land that cannot be shaken and will always be there for those who want to see it.

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So this is why Bali. The last 7 years of my life have been wholeheartedly dedicated to the tradition of yoga and being in Bali helps me fully immerse myself in this rich tradition. I chose to make decisions in my life that allows for the freedom to go back to this place that holds such a special place in my heart so I can recalibrate back to home within myself, back to my true nature. I chose Bali, again and again, so I can remind myself what it feels like to fully come alive.



Join me this March in Bali

There is no light without darkness. There is no sun without the moon. Our invitation is to learn how to live our lives without preferring one over the other. Our work to living a full, conscious life is to honor both sides and see all aspects of ourselves and the world around us. The shadow and the light.

Join Steph for this soul and nature-centered week in the Balinese Jungle. Running in conjunction with Nyepi Day, Bali's New Year's Day, we will explore and honor the infusion and merging of the sun and the moon, the masculine and feminine, the fire and ice, the yin and yang.

Through our yoga practice, we will explore both vinyasa and yin yoga to discover the dynamic play of these two forces within our inner landscape. By humbly honoring Balinese culture as guests of the island, we will participate and witness the New Years Eve Festival and the silent day that follows. Together, we will see and observe the dance of the masculine and feminine in both our internal and external world.

Dates : March 3rd - 10th

Accommodation: Gorgeous jungle Villas in Ubud, Bali 

Prices start at $1695 USD

What's best, solo travel or with someone? After about 50 countries, here is what I have to say.

In my time, I've learned a thing or two from traveling. At 19, miserable and lost, I left university and started backpacking in Europe. I caught the travel bug, as you do, and my 6-month hiatus became 6 years out of university. Even now as I write this, I don't think I can say that I "stopped" traveling or ever will. It's become a part of who I am. It's how I learn, how I grow and how my Spirit gets nourished. 

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My first few trips abroad I always traveled with either a friend of a partner. At that age and place in my life, I wouldn't have wanted it any other way. There are incredible benefits to traveling with someone, and these trips have bound me for life to some of my closest friends. We have memories and inside jokes that we will never forget. I didn't have to worry about getting lost on my own, and there's just a general comfort I got when I was away from home with a familiar face by my side. I couldn't imagine climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, seeing the pyramids for the first time or watching sharks while scuba diving on my own. Those are experiences I want to share with my friends for life. However there is a cost, you see things in people that bother you, you might have to do things you don't really want to do, and sometimes you want your space. Learning to accept another fully and get over the things that bother you are incredible lessons, and I would never trade these experiences for the world however after many partnered trips, I was called to some solo travel. 

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I have traveled a significant amount on my own now, in Europe, Central America, and Asia.  I love the experience of making decisions based solely on what I want to do and the experiences that unfold when it is just me, such as meeting new people. There is a feeling of spaciousness and openness to just being able to go through your day with only yourself in mind. Spending Christmas wandering the streets of Barcelona or a month to myself in Nicaragua were perfect solo. However, on these solo journies, I fluctuate between feeling confident, proud, empowered and independent, with lonely, not belonging, intimidated and unsafe. I know these feelings are not true and that I do belong wherever I am, I am never alone and always safe in this world. And solo travel allows me the opportunities to see these fractured parts of myself arise and tend to them, which really is a gift. When I travel on my own I am faced with seeing parts of myself I do like and parts I don't, and I genuinely feel like I have learned so much about myself that I wouldn't have discovered any other way. 


So what's my verdict then? Well, as a bit of a solo kind of person, I do love solo travel. However, there's another way to have a bit of both...


I started running yoga retreats about four years ago in Mexico and then hosted some in Scotland and Bali. I wasn't sure how I would like it as I usually prefer solo travel however, I found this to be a perfect balance. 

On a retreat, you get the best of both worlds. There are people around if you want someone to discover the town with, to figure out airport transfers with, or to climb a volcano with. But we also create a space for an inward journey to occur. You are allowed to eat on your own, spend the day on your own or sit in silence by the pool, and no one would think that was weird. It's a place of total acceptance for how you want to learn and discover the land you are visiting. For me, I love having the choice. I want to be able to wake up in the morning and decide then and there if I want to adventure with friends or lay in bed a bit longer. Either way and most importantly I think, is allowing yourself the opportunity to understand yourself a bit more, which can be done in the presence of others or simply on your own. 


Join me in Bali this March!

There is no light without darkness. There is no sun without the moon. Our invitation is to learn how to live our lives without preferring one over the other. Our work to living a full, conscious life is to honor both sides and see all aspects of ourselves and the world around us. The shadow and the light.

Join Steph for this soul and nature-centered week in the Balinese Jungle. Running in conjunction with Nyepi Day, Bali's New Year's Day, we will explore and honor the infusion and merging of the sun and the moon, the masculine and feminine, the fire and ice, the yin and yang.

Through our yoga practice, we will explore both vinyasa and yin yoga to discover the dynamic play of these two forces within our inner landscape. By humbly honoring Balinese culture as guests of the island, we will participate and witness the New Years Eve Festival and the silent day that follows. Together, we will see and observe the dance of the masculine and feminine in both our internal and external world.

Dates : March 3rd - 10th

Accommodation: Gorgeous jungle Villas in Ubud, Bali 

Prices start at $1695 USD

Free Yoga Video Filmed in Ubud, Bali

Enjoy this 15 minute Vinyasa Flow I filmed when I was in Bali last year for my retreat!

Want to experience this in person immersed in the essence of Bali? Join me this March!!

There is no light without darkness. There is no sun without the moon. Our invitation is to learn how to live our lives without preferring one over the other. Our work to living a full, conscious life is to honor both sides and see all aspects of ourselves and the world around us. The shadow and the light.

Join Steph for this soul and nature-centered week in the Balinese Jungle. Running in conjunction with Nyepi Day, Bali's New Year's Day, we will explore and honor the infusion and merging of the sun and the moon, the masculine and feminine, the fire and ice, the yin and yang.

Through our yoga practice, we will explore both vinyasa and yin yoga to discover the dynamic play of these two forces within our inner landscape. By humbly honoring Balinese culture as guests of the island, we will participate and witness the New Years Eve Festival and the silent day that follows. Together, we will see and observe the dance of the masculine and feminine in both our internal and external world.

Dates: March 3rd - 10th, 2019 

Where: Ubud, Bali

What's Included:

  • Soulful, nutritious food made just for our. Included are breakfast and dinner

  • 2 yoga classes a day - one vinyasa and one yin

  • Shared or single accommodation

  • One 60 minute massage

  • Air-conditioned rooms

  • Full use of on-site amenities such as the sun chairs and pool


Bali as a Manifestation of the Feminine. Wild, mysterious, potent and...dismissed.


After a few years of running retreats around the world, I've set my heart on my annual retreat being in Bali. Of course, there are obvious reasons why I've chosen Bali; it's unbelievably gorgeous, the food is fantastic, the people make your heart melt, and it spans from jungle to volcano to ocean. However these things are not unique to Bali, you could say the same about many places, and therefore, those reasons aren't enough to justify flying across the world, and taking many people over there with me. My love for Bali extends far beyond that. My love for Bal is wide and deep and ever unfolding.

 
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The feminine is the dark, mysterious, wild and creative force that brings life and manifestation to this world (think Shakti and Kali). It is highly revered in Tantric Yoga as it is what gives life to all things. It's the dark to the light, the moon to the sun. However, the feminine is often seen in a slivered, fragmented way. Beautiful (if she looks the way society thinks is beautiful), powerful (but not too powerful), wild (not too crazy though) and mysterious (except when we want to know). And before you know it, we as a society have placed conditions and limitations on what the divine feminine is and should look like leaving us accepting only pieces of Her.

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Bali is a dense jungle island full of abundance, potency, tradition, and culture. The land is vibrant and has a pulse that makes me feel more connected to the Earth than anywhere I've ever been. The air is sweet and silky. The people are generous and kind. The jungle and ocean are what dreams are made of. It's small island part of a much bigger country, Indonesia, a commonplace of natural disasters, human rights issues, and poverty. Things people don't think of when they go to Bali. The Balinese jungle is full of spiders, snakes and aggressive monkeys. It's hot as hell in the summer season and a completely different culture to the western world.

Bali, in my opinion, represents so much of what we love and so much of what we fear. We will take the beautiful, the easy, the fun, the cheap, the nice and then we will ignore or disregard the rest. "Bali is so perfect but not if I see a snake! Not if my room doesn't have air conditioning! Not if I have to pay more for something because I'm a tourist! Not if I get sick from the water!" A contrast gets created between the fantasy of the island, and it's reality. Much like how we regard the feminine - it's ok and safe if it looks a certain way, offers something we want and doesn't challenge our fears. So many people have come to Bali with an expectation of the island and forget that we have to love and accept it as a whole. It's not there just for us to say we went on a yoga retreat to Bali and check it off the list. It's there for us to be in relationship with it. What do we gain by being in Bali and what does Bali gain (or lose) by us being there? How do the locals feel about us? How do the animals feel when we come to their habitat and then get pissed that they are there?

 
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When you visit a space, a home, a country, you are there as a guest to receive something and to leave something behind. What is the impact on us by visiting Bali? What is the impact on Bali by having us visit? What happens to us as a whole when we put conditions on our feminine? When we pick and chose and fragment Her potency?

So why do I love Bali so much? I have a lot of work to do learning to love the world around me and myself unconditionally. I continually work towards a deeper relationship with my feminine power and Bali puts that right in front of me to see. It holds me in a way that says "See me. See all of me. The light and the dark." It shows me snakes, spiders, intense heat and Bali belly (the poops!). It also shows me Nature at her finest, kindness in strangers and belonging in a foreign country. She lets me in, again and again, and reflects back to me the beauty, the power the fear I hold within myself.

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To me, Bali feels like a gift, like an abundant, potent, magical land and to immerse yourself in yoga while in Bali really is something special. To spend a week deeply connecting to you and seeing glimpses of the all the potential relationships in your life, most importantly our relationship to nature and to ourselves, is an experience worth having.

Join me on my next retreat in Bali! March 3rd - 10th, 2019 

This year we are doing something different! We will be spending an afternoon or two in service of the island doing a litter clean up in the rice fields. Bali is becoming ridden with plastic and we can absolutely make a difference to leave a positive footprint in exchange for being guests on the island.

There is no light without darkness. There is no sun without the moon. Our invitation is to learn how to live our lives without preferring one over the other. Our work to living a full, conscious life is to honor both sides and see all aspects of ourselves and the world around us. The shadow and the light.

Join Steph for this soul and nature-centered week in the Balinese Jungle. Running in conjunction with Nyepi Day, Bali's New Year's Day, we will explore and honor the infusion and merging of the sun and the moon, the masculine and feminine, the fire and ice, the yin and yang.

Through our yoga practice, we will explore both vinyasa and yin yoga to discover the dynamic play of these two forces within our inner landscape. By humbly honoring Balinese culture as guests of the island, we will participate and witness the New Years Eve Festival and the silent day that follows. Together, we will see and observe the dance of the masculine and feminine in both our internal and external world.

5 Reasons To Join Me In Bali THIS Year!

1. Nyepi Day Celebrations - The retreat is being held over the week of the Balinese New Year which means we will be fully participating in both the NYE celebrations and the day of silence that follows. Nyepi Day is not to be missed. Imagine, an entire island shuts down the wifi, electricity, airport, and shops. You're not even supposed to leave your home! The day of silence is an opportunity to spend time with yourself and enjoy the quiet, something we don't do enough of. It might sound intimidating, but I promise, relaxing to the sound of the jungle and bathing in the sun will not be difficult. Oh, and have you ever looked up at a night sky where there wasn't light pollution for miles upon miles upon miles? Not like this you haven't!

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2. New Years Eve Celebration - The days leading up to Nyepi day are full of rituals and one of them you cannot miss. Bhuta Yajna is a ritual where each neighborhood gets together and create demonic looking papier-mache statues (called ogoh-ogoh) to chase away negative, malevolent forces off the island. On New Year's Eve, everyone parades around the streets following the ogoh-ogohs while banging on drums, and dancing. Then, all the ogoh-ogohs get set on fire as a way of symbolizing each individual burning away their own negative and malevolent forces. I promise you will have a smile on your face for hours and feel something deep in your heart.

3. The Sunshine! If you're living in the northern hemisphere, you know what March can be like; old, dreary and dark. Nothing wrong with that but it might be nice to pump yourself full of vitamin D! Our retreat center has a beautiful pool to lay beside or dive in. Or why not climb a volcano to watch the sunrise? Or spend the day trekking through the rice fields? All under the Balinese sunshine in high 20-degree weather.

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4. Yoga. 2 yoga classes a day exploring yin and yang, fire and ice, sun and moon, darkness and light. That's 3 hours a day to get into your body, stretch, strengthen, explore, breathe deep and find stillness. There is no way you won't leave this retreat feeling deeply connected to your body and your soul.

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-"This retreat transformed my practice, and lifted my spirit. I’m so grateful for the chance to join these wonderful people for a life-changing experience. Steph’s teaching has moved me substantially forward in my study of yoga."

5. Nature. Bali is so unique in that there is a special energy that wraps the island and creates this magic in the air that is hard to put into words. It's as if you can breathe deeper and feel potential and creativity in the air. The songs of the jungle along are enough to inspire you to reconnect with nature and with yourself. The endless rice fields, thick jungle, cute monkeys, the creatures that invite you into their land, all with the backdrop of a volcano set the perfect scene for you to relax and remember your true nature, which is one of total connection, belonging and infusion with all that's around you.

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Join me on my next retreat in Bali! March 3rd - 10th, 2019 

There is no light without darkness. There is no sun without the moon. Our invitation is to learn how to live our lives without preferring one over the other. Our work to living a full, conscious life is to honor both sides and see all aspects of ourselves and the world around us. The shadow and the light. 

Join Steph for this transformative and alchemic week in the Balinese Jungle. Centered around Nyepi Day, Bali's New Year's Day, we will explore and honor the infusion and merging of the sun and the moon, the masculine and feminine, the fire and ice, the yin and yang.

Through our yoga practice, we will explore both vinyasa and yin yoga to discover the dynamic play of these two forces within our inner landscape. By celebrating the New Years Eve Festival and participating in the silent day that follows, we will see and observe the dance of the masculine and feminine in the external world as well. 

The Celebration and The Silence - A Once in a Lifetime Experience of Nyepi Day in Bali

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In 2018, I hosted a yoga retreat in Ubud, Bali. At the time I booked the retreat, I had never heard of this tradition. So it was a huge oversight on my part to “accidentally” (this was no mistake!) booked my retreat to end on Nyepi Day, Bali’s New Years Day. I eventually found out because students kept asking me why there seemed to be not a single flight leaving the island on the day we were to check out. I thought this was a mistake, how could no flights be leaving an International airport? Then another student asked and another. I checked for myself and learned that indeed, the airport shut down on this day to observe a day of silence. I told the students I was sorry, but they will have to book a night somewhere else and wait to leave the following day. However, no accommodation could be made on this day as it is prohibited to be on the streets, talk, or leave your residence on this day. Wow was I shocked! This day of silence was no joke, and no exceptions were not going to be made. I knew this was no mistake, so we embraced that we had to stay on the island an extra day and all chose to stay at the retreat center one day longer. Because of this, we were able, and I am not exaggerating when I say, it was one of the most unique and special experiences I’ve ever had in my life.

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The celebration began the evening before, and although there are many rituals practiced by the local people at this time that I am not fully aware of, I did get to participate in the Bhuta Yajna ritual and watch the Ogoh-Ogoh parade. Several days before Nyepi Day, each neighborhood gets together and create demonic looking papier-mache statues to chase away negative, malevolent forces off the island. In the evening, everyone parades around the streets following the ogoh-ogohs while banging on drums, and dancing. Then, all the ogoh-ogohs get set on fire as a way of symbolizing each individual burning away their own negative and malevolent forces.

What follows is a day of absolute silence: no talking, no wifi, no walking the streets or beach, no tv, no electricity. It is a day for practices such as meditation, self-reflection, and fasting. Airports and shops all close. Travel of any sort is prohibited (except for medical emergencies and yes that did happen to a participant on the retreat! She was treated incredibly well and lived to tell the tale). Everything shuts down to give us the opportunity to go in and reconnect with ourselves.

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The contrast of celebration and silence beautifully reflects the intention of my yoga retreat. On Luna & Sol, we are exploring the contrasts of life. The light and the dark, the sun and the moon, the joy and the pain, so these contrasts no longer remain separate but instead infuse into one. We come together, so we no longer see ourselves as broken, or bad, we can instead see ourselves in our entirety and learn to honor the wholeness of our human experience.

With two yoga classes a day, several group ceremonies, nourishing food, high-end jungle accommodation and immersing ourselves in nature and the local community, this retreat truly is an opportunity to deepen into yourself. And we have the whole island of Bali supporting us as we do so.

Join me on my next retreat in Bali! March 3rd - 10th, 2019 

There is no light without darkness. There is no sun without the moon. Our invitation is to learn how to live our lives without preferring one over the other. Our work to living a full, conscious life is to honor both sides and see all aspects of ourselves and the world around us. The shadow and the light. 

Join Steph for this transformative and alchemic week in the Balinese Jungle. Centered around Nyepi Day, Bali's New Year's Day, we will explore and honor the infusion and merging of the sun and the moon, the masculine and feminine, the fire and ice, the yin and yang.

Through our yoga practice, we will explore both vinyasa and yin yoga to discover the dynamic play of these two forces within our inner landscape. By celebrating the New Years Eve Festival and participating in the silent day that follows, we will see and observe the dance of the masculine and feminine in the external world as well. 

Sacred Sweat - Yoga and Heat as a Practice to Deepen into Soul

We all know yoga has a profound effect that runs much deeper than the physical body. For thousands of years, we have turned to yoga as a practice of deepening into the complexities and beauty of the human experience. Through this practice, we use the physical body as a portal into understanding, appreciating and honoring the many layers of our Self. Today, yoga gets recommended for a wide range of matters including stress, anxiety, pain, grief, injuries, mobility, pregnancy, focus and much more. We know, through anecdotal experiences and now through science that yoga affects us physically, mentally and emotionally. 

Running alongside the tradition of yoga, many cultures around the world have been using sweat as a form of ritual and ceremony for hundreds of years. Spanning from the indigenous people of the Americas to the Turks, the Russians, Scandinavian, Finnish and Japanese, sweat is an effective way of communicating to a deeper part of the Self, which is our primary intention with the yoga that we offer at The Kali Collective.

From saunas, to steams, to sweat lodges, sweat ceremonies which were lead by local guides, were used as a way to heal, purify, pray, and reestablish a connection to the deep Self, ancestors, and collective wisdom. Once the door was locked and the ceremony began, the heat allowed for emotional guards and walls to be broken down so true vulnerability could emerge. Deep emotions that were locked away could be felt, gratitude for the body could be experienced, and connection with the community was created. 

The ceremony of sweat created a sacred space for people to come together and experience something deeply personal within a loving community. Experiences such as release, purification, strength, healing, and deep presence can be expected in the heat, and when combining that with the power of yoga, a potent space for transformation can be born. 

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Being in the heat while practicing yoga offers a space for you to be challenged and encouraged to face the limitations you may have placed on yourself. We can peel back the layers to see what arises in us when we are uncomfortable, challenged or tired and then have the opportunity to confront those limiting beliefs. 

We have no doubt that a profound physical experience can occur while practicing yoga in a heated room. However our aim is that by infusing several sacred traditions together, we can create an experience that runs below the physical and will take you into a deeper connection with the essence of you. 

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"This is my last retreat" and other lies I've told

I’ve declared my “last retreat” several times now. In the lead up to the event, I always feel stressed with the amount of marketing and logistics that a part of me always feels like I’ve had enough. And perhaps there is an authentic desire there to put my energy elsewhere, however, when I am actually leading the retreat, I always get shockingly and sweetly surprised at how wrong that decision would be. Every time, I get blown away by the experience. 

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There are many things I have declared and claimed that were bs. Like that I'd never open a yoga studio or I'd never run a yoga teacher training, and then something inside me gets this magnetic pull and I can't help but do it. It's as if the external world has already plotted and planned that this is what I would do and then lays it out in front of me so that all I have to say is yes. 


I will not lie to you now though, I will admit that the amount of time that goes into running a yoga retreat is huge. Setting it all up, preparing marketing material, registration, the back and forth emails and then actually running the retreat, is a lot. It is much more complex operation than you might think but I've never been afraid of a little hard work. Because that work always leads to something bigger than the sum of its parts, and this is why I can't let go of retreats, just yet. 

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What unfolds on a retreat is hard to put into words because it is something so much more than a holiday with yoga. Yes we relax, yes we do yoga, yes we eat (a lot), but then there's something else that transpires. A little family gets created. Here we are, in a far off land, maybe knowing someone, maybe not knowing anyone. And yet for one week our attention, energy, love, support, and care is fully present with these new friends. We sweat together in the morning vinyasa practice and get snoozy together in the evening yin practice. We eat together with each other's undivided attention as we start to learn of one another. We climb volcano's, swing across rice fields, get wet under waterfalls, and discover the Balinese people together. We share stories after dinner until we are dozy at the table, we experience what a day of silence feels like and celebrate the Balinese New Years, together. Organically, we start to unravel and unfold into a little family from all over the world, brought together by yoga and the Balinese land. And this is the feeling that I can't quit. To create something that wasn't there before. Would we have all met and shared these experiences together if I stopped doing the retreats? Probably not. Would I myself get to experience the dynamics of beautiful people creating meaningful relationships under the Balinese sun? Nope. Would I get to have these students as (hopefully) lifelong friends afterward? Don't think so. 

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You cannot place a value of time or money to an experience like this. So sure, maybe a retreat is a lot of work to prepare but if that work equals something that you can’t place a value to, then why wouldn’t I do it? So until I run an event that doesn't light my fire, until I no longer feel nourished by retreats, I will continue to keep creating this space for us to unfold, discover and connect. Because somehow, every time, I think it means more to me that the students themselves.


Join me on my next retreat in Bali! March 3rd - 10th, 2019 

There is no light without darkness. There is no sun without the moon. Our invitation is to learn how to live our lives without preferring one over the other. Our work to living a full, conscious life is to honor both sides and see all aspects of ourselves and the world around us. The shadow and the light. 

Join Steph for this transformative and alchemic week in the Balinese Jungle. Centered around Nyepi Day, Bali's New Year's Day, we will explore and honor the infusion and merging of the sun and the moon, the masculine and feminine, the fire and ice, the yin and yang.

Through our yoga practice, we will explore both vinyasa and yin yoga to discover the dynamic play of these two forces within our inner landscape. By celebrating the New Years Eve Festival and participating in the silent day that follows, we will see and observe the dance of the masculine and feminine in the external world as well. 

What is a Yoga Community?

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By Steph Wall

COMMUNITY. A word I’ve thrown around for years without understanding the depth of its meaning. What and who makes up the “yoga community”? I always thought of it as the width of my social circle, or the yoga teachers or students who I knew of in Glasgow or Kelowna, but I’ve come to understand it’s actually the depth of people brought together, regardless of length of time we’ve known each other, if we know how each other earns a living, the stories of our past....all that “stuff”, the layers, are irrelevant and instead we are brought together through things like yoga, empathy, understanding, pain, similar transformations...

During my time in Kelowna, Canada I’ve fully felt the power of community. Being H E L D by people who don’t care much about me except for who I am deep down, my soul and essence. And will hold the space for me to experience life whether I’m hurting or laughing. AND me to them. And to know deep inside that when I’m experiencing hurt, transformations, highs, it’s for the greater of the community. My experience is theirs. Theirs is mine. No separation, never ever. All connected. Always always”

Join Steph for her Vinyasa Yoga Classes Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday at 6:15!

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The Most Loving, The Most Fierce Mother

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Kali is easily one of the most misunderstood figures in ancient mythology. To simply look at her image without seeing her symbolically or with complexity, one might just see a violent image of an enraged black woman. Many people shy away or dismiss this figure due to staying on the surface and taking powerful symbols literally, however Kali is not an energy to dismiss. For those who know the basic qualities of Kali, we know that she epitomises the dark, mysterious, vast, infinite unknown. She works via death and destruction and is not for the faint of heart. However there is a side to her that often gets missed and that is her as the all loving Mother.

When we think of the role of Mother we might immediately turn to qualities such as warmth, kindness and softness. And although these are indeed qualities of Mother, they are not the only ones nor should they be placed at a higher value. Another face of Mother is the face of Kali; fierce, relentless and direct. What all faces of Mother have in common though, is Love. For anyone who truly wants to grow and experience self transformation, preferring one expression of Love over the other may be a mistake. Sometimes the love, the lessons, the nourishment we want is not what we actually need. Sometimes we really do need a strong, tough, fierce love that might be painful and knock you off your feet as a way to transcend lifelong limitations we’ve placed on ourselves.

Kali is not a Mother to dismiss because she doesn’t show up the way that is preferred. She is a Mother that will love, tirelessly and endlessly, to hold you as you transform. Sometimes that Love just might need to be a bit tough and scary.

KALI THE MOTHER

By Swami Vivekananda

The stars are blotted out,

The clouds are covering clouds,

It is darkness vibrant, sonant.

In the roaring, whirling wind

Are the souls of a million lunatics

Just loose from the prison-house,

Wrenching trees by the roots,

Sweeping all from the path.

The sea has joined the fray,

And swirls up mountain-waves,

To reach the pitchy sky.

The flash of lurid light

Reveals on every side

A thousand, thousand shades

Of Death begrimed and black —

Scattering plagues and sorrows,

Dancing mad with joy,

Come, Mother, come!

For Terror is Thy name,

Death is in Thy breath,

And every shaking step

Destroys a world for e'er.

Thou "Time", the All-Destroyer!

Come, O Mother, come!

Who dares misery love,

And hug the form of Death,

Dance in Destruction's dance,

To him the

Mother comes

Why We Have Expiry Dates and Cancellation Policies

At The Kali Collective Yoga Studio, we understand it can feel frustrating to lose out on classes that have been purchased because of our cancellation and expiry date policies. So we would love the opportunity to clarify our position on this matter. 

The reason we have a 12 hour cancellation policy is to ensure we are allowing the maximum number of students to participate as possible. When someone signs in to class and does not show up, or cancels without much notice, other people are prevented from coming to a class as the class may be full. We are now in a place with our studio that full classes are a common occurrence and feel it is only fair that people who sign up stay committed to attending or be penalised for taking another person's spot.

Signing up in advance is not mandatory or enforced so the act of booking and the consequences of not coming to class is the full responsibility of the person who made the choice to sign up in the first place. We understand things come up and will make exceptions for illnesses or a force majeuer. 

As for expiry dates, any pricing option other than a 1 time drop in rate will have an expiry date of either 3, 6 or 12 months. This is because the classes are sold at a reduced rate and therefore have less flexibility. This also allows for the studio to run with manageable cash flow which is imperative in running a steady, stable business. 

We feel our expiry dates are fair and allow for enough flexibility should something arise in the time that it has been purchased. We provide several different options to empower our students to make the best decisions for themselves. As with our cancellation policies we do make rare exceptions for illness and a force majeuer. 

We hope this helps to clarify our policies around this! 

How I Sold Out My Retreat In Bali

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I had a major shift recently while promoting my latest yoga retreat to Ubud, Bali. Long story short, I overestimated the ease of people signing up for this yoga adventure and with only 3 months to go, I had a mere 3 people signed up. Which is grand, except for the fact that I was paying for 10 people, whether 10 people showed up or not. Which meant at the time, I would be about $6,000 in debt from running the retreat. It was time to have a serious conversation with myself. 

I will confess, I let my ego guide me too often and for a long time I was running retreats with the wrong intention. With selfish intentions. It was a way for me to potentially make more money and a way to travel and adventure with my expenses being paid for. I also think there’s some false belief that if a teacher is running a retreat and people are signing up for it, they must be a good teacher and I wanted to join that club. 

So when I realized that what my ego wanted was going to cost me a lot of money I had to sit down and get really clear on what the hell I was doing this for. Underneath my selfish desires, there was something bigger being created, I just wasn’t fully connected to what that was yet. I sat down with my journal and wrote at the top something along the lines of “what the fuck am I running retreats for?”. Then I reconnected with what really lit me up about past retreats and I was overwhelmed with excitement at creating that again. It was all about the intimate connection that gets created when a group of like-minded people spend a week together somewhere gorgeous and do my favorite thing, yoga. It was about arranging a trip where people who might not otherwise feel comfortable, can join a group of people and have the logistics taken care of to experience Bali. I zoomed back to what I loved so much about Bali and honestly, felt so passionate about it that I truly wanted others to experience it. 

I looked at my branding and description of the retreat, all that I had put out into the world and realized none of it was connected at all to what I held most dear to my heart. All my communication about the retreat came from a really egoic place of sell, sell, sell, and "you should do this because…” honestly, it was fear driven. It might as well have said, "come on my retreat so I can live a crazy dream without having any deep connection as to why I'm doing it at all!" Not cool Steph. So with only a few months out, I completely removed old posts and descriptions and started fresh with a deeper connection in mind. 

2 things happened; first, my fear about losing money on this trip dissipated. I felt that even if those 3 people who signed up were the only ones to come, for me to experience that with them would be worth the loss. I saw it as a small trade-off for what we would experience together. But that wasn’t what happened because the second thing that happened was that a big flux of interest came my way about the retreat. People weren’t connecting to it before because there wasn’t much to connect to, but once I put out on social media the value of the experience and what my intention was, well it would be hard not to connect to that. I sold about 1 spot per week up until a couple weeks before I took off and wound up with a group of 10 incredible women to share a week in the Balinese rice fields with. 

This was a huge lesson for me that when you put things out into the world that are soulless, driven by fear and good only for your ego you’ll get a little nudge that you’re not moving in the right direction. If you are like me and want to live a life of passion, creativity, heart, and soul then don’t think for a second you can get away with trying to do anything less than that. What you do with the little nudge is up to you, you can blame the lack of flow on everyone and everything but yourself.

Or, you can hear the call and transform who you are and the work that you do to elevate yourself, your students and your community. 

 

Interested in joining me for a retreat in Bali? 

We are going back again March 3rd - 10th 2019! Click here for more details! 

 

5 Ways to Invoke the Energy of the Goddess Kali

Written by Steph Wall

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I will confess when my friend and I decided to name our studio The Kali Collective, we didn’t fully understand the depth of this goddess or exactly we would call on her for, other than the obvious which is self empowerment and transformation. I didn’t even understand the potency or power that would be brought forth by invoking the energy current of this archetype into my life. But my goodness did I ever find out hard and quick shortly after creating a community space in honor of Her. She wasted no time with me. Here is a brief description of her, but do not be fooled, a few lines of description only scratches the surface of her depth, complexity, and power. 

Kali is the Goddess of time, change, and destruction. She is the energy current inside of you that is wild, empowered and all loving.  This energy is deeply involved in the life/death / life cycle to keep you growing and transforming, as does the rich practice of yoga.
The Dark Mother in all her love and ferocity will guide you through transformation by dissolving all forms and time. She will tear things up to help you see what is needing to die inside of you, such as self limiting beliefs or attachments to the past that prevent you from moving forward. These deaths then create a fertile field for growth and creation of the new.
She’s the darkness most of us fear. She is fierce. She is loving. She will transform you.

Kali is not an energy to invoke lightly but from personal experience, I can say she will make changes in your life where they are needed. Examples of how she transformed me were the following:

  • Destroying lifelong beliefs that my voice is not worthy or valuable 
  • Dissolving intense bondages guarding me against vulnerability and authenticity 
  • Opened me up to find a deep, meaningful love for myself 
  • Transformed my habit of living in fantasy and instead helped me find a true love rooted in truth and reality
  • The courage to follow my dreams and run a yoga studio and yoga school in a far away, magical land 

Not bad! My life has been completely transformed but don’t think for a second it was easy. Who I was even 1 year ago is completely different to who I am now and the person I was for so many years was hard to let go of. My life as I knew it completely changed and the pain that came with it was intense. So make no mistake, it’s not as if I named my studio after her, meditated on her a few times and that’s it. It took much more work than that!

Here are some reasons why you would invoke her:

  • Dissolving limiting beliefs
  • Self empowerment 
  • Facing fears
  • Releasing egoic constructs/beliefs
  • Changing perspective on life and death 
  • Liberating yourself from old attachments 
  • Invite the wild, divine feminine into your life 

Ways to invoke Kali:

  1. Meditation - visualise her image and see what arises
  2. Self reflection - ask yourself questions like, where are you suppressing your wild, feminine self? Or, is there somewhere in your life you are playing “nice” instead of expressing a more truthful, angry, enraged self? 
  3. Asana - Take goddess squat and let out several primal roars from the belly 
  4. Offer your negative beliefs to Kali. Visualise bowing down to her and offering her your limiting beliefs for her to destroy. 
  5. Journal with Kali - ask her the following questions: What do you have to teach me? How do you express yourself in my life? How are you suppressed? What do you think needs destroying in my life?

Remember, Kali is not an energy to take lightly but she is loving. If you are ready to come alive, wake up and live your life fully, She is a necessary force to guide you there. 

Not good enough | by Steph Wall

What you’re worth. 

The majority of the years I have spent on this planet, I have spent feeling like I was never good enough. For certain people, places or experiences. For things I owned, for gifts I received. I constantly felt guilty of what I had because I never felt worthy. And you know what? That feeling is really shitty. 

Although I chose to not dwell on the past, there are certain experiences that contributed to my current teeter tottering of self worth. The biggest contributing experiences where those with the opposite sex. The way I allowed myself to feel during and after a relationship. Several times I allowed myself to be treated poorly and instead of smartening up and realizing it was their own insecurities and issues that led them to that behaviour, I instead internalized it and took it personally. I allowed myself to feel as if that was the way I deserved to be treated.

It’s funny how situations you thought you dealt with actually linger on and plant a deeper seed. Over time, I finally felt the weight suffocate me and split over into other situations. After personal successes in the yoga world however, I started to question the way I thought of myself. Although it was hard for me to acknowledge I was even feeling this way deep down, I eventually realized how wrong I was. So I dealt with it on my mat. I focused on the good, reflected on the positives, acknowledged the tiny accomplishments and let everything else slide off my back. But I’m not writing to tell you my story, I’m writing to talk about yours. 

One of the many things I enjoy about teaching yoga, is the opportunity I have to really see the most raw and pure form of a person. When someone expresses themselves on the mat fully, I see them. I connect with them. I understand them. What I see all to often are students watch in defeat as others float, balance or fly into more challenging poses. The one’s who prefer not to try something new for fear of failure. The one’s who laugh as if it’s a joke that they should ever be able to do an inversion. Those are the one’s that bother me because I so badly wish I could open up their brains, change some thought and behavioural patterns around and stitch them back up so they could realize that they ARE good enough. When I see these students, I see myself. I am reminded of the person deep down inside that spent years feeling unworthy. 

I’m here to tell those of your questioning your self worth that there is nothing in yoga and nothing in life that you are not good enough for. I have taught paraplegics, quadriplegics, students with injuries and I myself managed to practice daily when I physically had everything against me. And not a single one of us isn’t good enough for yoga. Not a single one of us is not good enough for the things we want in life. 

But no article or words from a stranger can change years of accumulated thought patterns, so maybe instead I’ll say this; I feel you. I’ve been there and as I slowly crawl my way out of this self made hole, I’m starting to see what true and honest self worth looks like. It looks like relaxed shoulders, a proud chest, a lengthy breath. It looks like a dedicated effort doing handstand kicks. A wobble leg in tree. A subtle topple in balancing half moon. A determination towards achieving the possibilities. To gaining what we deserve. 

It looks like an image I have in my head of the first time I saw a lion up close in Africa. He was powerful. He was fearless. He was strong. A thick layer of stillness, calm and peace poured over him. Nothing in the world bothered him, not our jeep, not our cameras, not our excited giggles. Nothing in the world could shake him.

Nothing in the world could take away the fire in his eyes. 

Steph Wall Yoga - Gentle Evening Yoga

Investing in rest is a key element of living a balanced life. Steph Wall speaks about our own evening rituals, and takes you through a gentle evening yoga flow to help you create the best foundation for sleep.

"People often ask me which poses are best to do before bed. Well, here are a few of my favourites! I often have troubles falling asleep but I find a short yoga practice before bed really helps me get into my body and ready for my rest. So grab yourself a cup of sleepy time tea, get the lights nice and low, turn off your phone and enjoy preparing yourself for a lovely rest."

We offer many evening classes at the studio. Check out our time table here and join us! 

Who is Kali?

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Kali is the Goddess of time, change and destruction. She is the energy current inside of you that is wild, empowered and all loving.  This energy is deeply involved in the life / death / life cycle to keep you growing and transforming, as does the rich practice of yoga. 

The Dark Mother in all her love and ferocity will guide you through transformation by dissolving all forms and time. She will tear things up to help you see what is needing die inside of you, such as self limiting beliefs or attachments to the past that prevent you from moving forward. These deaths then create a fertile field for growth and creation of the new. 

She’s the darkness most of us fear. She is fierce. She is loving. She will transform you.

Body Scan Meditation with Steph

Want to meditate?

Meditation is a process to be more still in the mind. It can create a sense of stillness and calm, away from the stresses of life. There are no expectations with meditation, you do not need to sit completely still or have an absolutely still mind. Life is much more complex than that and meditation understands this. All we are trying to achieve in meditation is a slowing of the mind. A great way to begin meditating is with a guided meditation. Here are two videos by Kali's owner Steph to help you on your way!

If you are interested in learning more about meditation, why not try a slower yoga practice such as Yin, Restorative or Nidra to introduce you into a quite space? 

The Gift of Yoga | by Steph Wall

What yoga gave me. 

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 it's lustre, my heart lost it's vigour. At such a young age the years of built up stress from zero confidence, zero self worth, zero self love, dumped onto a pile of regrets took it's toll mentally and also physically.  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 urged against me to do my yoga teacher training, which was five days away, but I was still pushed to stay with my practice. I mentally gave the doctors the middle finger, tossed my prescriptions for painkillers, listened to my gut and hopped on that flight to Nicaragua for my training. 

Although I saw the affects of yoga from the moment I first started, the real excavating began during my training. I did three hours a day of practice without being able to do 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. 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 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, my skin glows, my hair shines and curls into a crazy mess, my heart pumps fuller and harder, my lungs expand wider. 

Yoga gave me the chance to be me again. 

For many years I floated through life not sure of who I was. I allowed myself, as many of us to, 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 continues. 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 believed I was, until I was faced with the inner, deep, buried, chunk of gold which is me. 

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? 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 strong, and all the rest was taken out with the trash. 

Yoga allowed me to be the most imperfect person on the planet. 

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 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 what yoga gave me was a nod to carry on, keep my chin up and keep moving. Yoga gave me life. It gave me the power, strength and confidence mentally, emotionally and physically to experience all that life has to offer. With passion. With vigour. With courage. With audacity.