Yoga Happiness

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Does yoga bring happiness? For the longest time I was mainly a runner. I was a passionate fencer for many years and I love show jumping on horseback. And then not too long ago I threw yoga into the mix. My husband who has been practicing for decades promised me that if I stuck with it past the point in which downward dog would actually become a relaxing pose, I wouldn't regret it. He is a wise man, my husband :) I can't think of a better way to stretch out after a long run or to start other days building heat in my body (especially in this weather), than through yoga. It has helped me deal with anxiety, makes my skin looks rosy (say my friends) and it is a perfect way for me to end each of my classes and sessions with people that I work with.

Yoga makes me happy. It is the balance to my running. It has helped me trust in things instead of wanting to control them.

Balance + Trust = Happiness

Let me know if you agree or how yoga has helped you, below in the comments!

xxR

Words on Wednesday: Less is More

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I just stumbled across an old friend from Uni online, who commented on a Facebook post saying that "we have lost the awareness to be excited by the little things"... Ever since I left my office job, I realized that while I'm doing what I really love, time slows down. I have an awesome session with a client and the hour seems much longer (I think for them too, depending on what we're doing). No but in a positive sense I cherish moments much more.  Before, I obviously also had really great days at the office, but the simple setting which was an office that forced me to be at my desk at certain times of the day and dictated that I was to have lunch around 12-2pm made me really look forward to 6pm and the freedom that came with it.

I tried to bring food to the office to not have to rely on food chains because ultimately in a 5 day week I would have at least one, twice. I'm not good at leaving things on my plate, so the places dictated how much I was eating... Now I take my time to prepare breakfast and some of the results you see on here. I enjoy eating it, I go workout, by the time I come back I really look forward to preparing a nice lunch. And I cook most evenings. There was never really time for that before.

Even though I work physically and mentally harder getting Chitta off the ground, I run around, I work out with my clients and I try to keep up with my own exercise routine, I feel less tired than I often felt after a whole day at the desk. My anxiety levels are lower even though every new client feels like going on a first date, my hair and skin are healthier and my digestion... well, you know :)

My friend's comment was on an article about how we consume a lot these days and I must admit as a budding entrepreneur I consume much less these days. And interestingly I'm happier.

This NY Times article also weighs in on how we have become a society of consumers and how the author scaled back which - you guessed it - made him happy.

How does all this relate to what I'm doing?

I once met a client who told me she was working out six times a week, she had changed trainers a few times, she did her own cardio but still she said "I don't run faster than some New Yorkers walk".

In my trainings, I try to bring as much versatility to each session as I can. Often I switch up exercises after only a few sets or combine them and I try to squeeze the maximum result out of each proposed exercise. And I am seeing peoples' results. My pregnant ladies felt energized after sessions albeit challenged, other people have lost weight and others were able to increase their strength, flexibility, coordination, etc. All of them - if I had them do their very first session again today - would do it without breaking a sweat and hardly being out of breath.

These results make me incredibly happy! And they show that by tickling my clients with these 1-3 hours per week, which is easily incorporated into their busy schedules, we are making amazing progress in a relatively short time. Think of their muscles being excited too by the diverse, rapidly changing movement and because they are happy, they interact better, within (intramuscular coordination) and between each other (intermuscular coordination). It all creates a well oiled machine. Moreover, because the results stick, this new regimen becomes sustainable: it's fun to see yourself transform.

I strongly believe in breaking the loop of living to work, rewarding ourselves by consuming more, buying more, eating more and ultimately feeling obliged to exercise more.

I dare you to work to LIVE, then the work itself becomes rewarding, consuming becomes a luxury and eating is a part of a delicious routine that creates balance in our body... a strong body that loves to be tickled regularly.

xxR

PS: Every now and then, stop and smell the flowers...

Flexibilité - bent repeatedly without injury or damage

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I work out with a person who is incredibly poised, funny and fierce. She is French and she's pregnant. Every time I cycle home after a session with her I've noticed I'm feeling happy and strong. Our 60 minutes together are times of the day I look forward to and seeing her thrive in her pregnancy and energized when I leave her is an added bonus that leaves me profoundly grateful for the job I'm doing.

She has taught me other things than the French words she sprinkles into the session  when she's counting or explaining something, she has also introduced me to more flexibility.

Now if you've read about how the anatomy of a woman changes, you will know that she becomes flexible and stretching is much easier than before. Take a woman who did Ashtanga yoga and was able to wrap her leg around her head pre pregnancy and you have the polar opposite of my tight hamstrings.

A few weeks ago I introduced an exercise where we sit opposite each other wide legged, holding each others' hands and rocking back and forth with deep breaths. It is said that the motion releases tension in the lower back especially during pregnancy and it aids digestion.

She would laugh at the little motion that was happening on my end and ask me if she should pull me more. I said no. But within a few weeks my flexibility increased nonetheless. Which got me thinking.

I do yoga several times a week, I am an avid runner and usually stretch afterwards and I lead an active lifestyle in which I try to keep flexible as well as strong. Still, my hamstrings and hips are always my tightest areas. But there are times when I don't overthink it, when they are more open and usually that is when I'm relaxed and happy and full of gratitude for my life and my surroundings.

As a student, practicing fencing, I would do splits as part of my stretching often, I would plop down laughing into a hurdle seat (no hands) come back up to my feet turn and sit down again on the opposite leg. My coach incorporated a lot of gymnastics into my training to make it more diverse and fun and so I wouldn't notice how we strengthened my core and upper body in exactly the right places for the swimming which was also part of the Modern Pentathlon. I did handstands, cartwheels, handsprings and was elastic as a Haribo gummybear :) .

Now I wouldn't want to blame my difficulties now on age, but rather on a state of mind that these days I have to switch on more consciously. It seems contradictory to force oneself to be playful and easy but I've found that giving the brain an impulse to change direction works wonders for its physical ability, too. The tumbling and falling that results from trying things playfully, returns the favour and makes us giggle.

Somewhere along the way of growing up, I have lost some of that playfulness, I have had painful losses in the last few years and life in general can sometimes be unrelenting. Being an 'expat' has meant that I needed to adapt to a new surrounding when my friends back home were settling down. However, I have made a few drastic changes; among them the decision to pursue my passion with Chitta Wellness. So far, it has been a great change in direction and with it a lot of play has come back into my life. I am currently a work in progress in this department but with the help of old people and new people and the incredible enthusiasm they have shown for what I am building and what I continue to create, I catch myself tapping my foot lightly while humming a tune, much more often.

I dare you to do the same... Play on!