Controlling fear 

​Fear – An unpleasant emotion caused by the threat of danger, pain, or harm.

Phobia – An extreme or irrational fear of or aversion to something.

I’m afraid of spiders – terrified, in fact I can’t remember a time when they didn’t frighten me; however I’ve never been able to figure out my actual lack of fondness for them. I’m not afraid of them biting or causing me any harm, my mind has somehow created this irrational phobia, to the extent that I don’t even like the word – SPIDER! It could be the speed of them I don’t like, the fact that they have 8 legs or in my opinion just don’t look overly friendly (the reality is that they’re probably terrified of the screaming giant running around). I think a lot of phobias are passed onto us from parents or a family member; my mum is afraid of spiders too, my dad however had a tarantula crawling on him just last week! So when we talk about “phobias” we’re referring to spiders, wasps, birds, moths, sharks, zombies, heights, lifts, etc. Fear is different – it’s an emotion that is triggered by our phobias causing us to panic, cry or scream; I do all three when I see a spider. 

Other phobias like flying or deep water are still connected to the emotion of fear but aren’t always the real phobia; take flying for example, what is the actual phobia of? Falling? Small spaces? Death? And if your fear is deep water, could it be the real fear is the unknown or could it be that the one thing all these phobias have in common is “control” or the lack of it. You can’t control the direction a spider will move in or how fast, you can’t control the aeroplane – unless you’re a pilot (but then I doubt your phobia would be flying), you can’t control what is lurking at the bottom of that well or ocean and you most certainly cannot control death. The one thing as human beings we are able to control is our own emotions and to control them we must learn to control our breath and mind.

However, what if our fear in life is “failure” and who decides if you have failed? Who dictates if you have passed? You decide – it’s your mind, your thoughts, and your life – you are the only person who ever decides if you have failed or passed. As humans we have been given a very powerful gift – our minds – and if we are not careful the mind can start to control us, thereby developing fears, anxiety, depression and phobias. The word “failure” has a hugely negative impact immediately on us as human beings – to be told you have failed, to have a failure of a marriage or to be failing as parent – but what if you studied hard for that exam, what if for years you worked at your marriage and what if as a parent you’re doing the best you’re capable of? Should you still think of yourself as a failure? 

In yoga we teach pranayama, which consists of different ways to control the breath. To control the breath we must learn to control our diaphragm then over time we make the diaphragmatic muscle stronger. Diaphragmatic breathing reduces the heart rate and brings the body from sympathetic fight or flight to parasympathetic calm and relax – ideal for when you’re ready to board that flight, get in a lift, hold that spider (ahem) or stop yourself from changing into the Incredible Hulk! Pranayama is a physical way of controlling your body; we must then learn to mentally rationalise situations, emotions and negativity through meditation. To mediate is to try to calm the mind and come to a serene almost euphoric state; there are many ways of achieving this – through guided mediation (having a teacher talk to you), thinking of a mantra (a single image that doesn’t change), focusing on your breath, etc., all of which can be very tricky to begin with. Meditating is a truly wonderful way to remove negativity and failure from your mind. 

I’d like to say I’m writing this whilst holding a spider – small steps though right!

Diaries of a nomad 

I’ve recently been privileged enough to start blogging for online brand, the latest blog was to be titled “life of a nomad”, further more the life of a nomad blog was going to be about me – my life as a nomad. It’s the best way to sum my life up at the moment so I poured my heart into it, I’ve been honest and told my life how it is. I’ve tried to explain who I am – why I’m sometimes quiet then in a few minutes bouncing off the walls, how I became to be me… Grace the yogi, Grace the dog walker or hairdresser, Grace the climber or daughter, sister or hippie, nutter or just Grace. 

I would be very honoured if you click this link and have a read. Feel free to browse mymantra clothing too, its ace!

Don’t forget your roots 

“Back bending” or “heart opening” postures in yoga can make us feel very ungrounded and fearful, sometimes we even allow them to take our breath away. If you’re new to yoga everything about extending (bending) your spine seems unnatural, your entire life has been folding the spine forward so arching your back, for example: tying your shoe laces, getting into the car and actually, just picking anything up, these are all things we do on a daily basis without even thinking about. Yoga allows you to extend and strengthen your spine the opposite way, creating an arc.
Stating the obvious here but always warm the body up before moving into any spine opening asanas. Never ever allow any posture to take your breath away – I find when I’m teaching, a lot of my yogis hold their breath as they move into spine opening asanas. You should feel comfortable and maintain a steady breath as you open the spine, there may be a sense of uncertainty and that your body isn’t fully grounded but that’s where your yoga teacher should come in, physically supporting you or getting you to use props, they will then guide you into the different poses. Again another obvious piece of advice is to really listen to your body, if it hurts don’t do it!

When I use the word “grounded” it applies more than ever when opening the heart in yoga. In the beginning of your yoga journey you’ll think all the strength and flexibility is required in the back, this isn’t the case, especially as you go deeper into these poses. Strong legs are needed more than ever to support, ground and stabilise your spine as it opens – for example in wheel pose or Chakrasana, yes it’s the mobility of your spine that needs to open but it’s your legs getting you there and stabilising you once in the pose. When you start to practice dropping back into Chakrasana from standing, your legs need to be rooted and strong to give your back the support as your hands come down to the ground. 

For me staying grounded is important not only when opening the heart but in life too. It’s important not to forget your roots – where you came from, even if you feel no desire to go back there. I used to be embarrassed to say I was from Huddersfield, immediately adding on “but my mum is from Manchester”, like it made me who I was. The truth is my roots are here in Huddersfield, I don’t have any desire to live here or carry my life on here – but family and friends are here, old work places and some most excellent memories. Huddersfield in a way made me who I am, it made me realise that this isn’t enough and I want to see so much more – to always pronounce my H’s, to never stare someone directly in the eye on a night out and to say “three” instead of “free”. To wrap it up, even though I can only cope with Huddersfield in short visits, it still holds so much familiarity that I can’t help but love it and be grateful for all the opportunities it has given me and to be proud of my roots. 
So don’t allow your roots to hold you down but always remember them, you owe them that. 
Grace from da Hudd. Xxx

Bmi or bull s**t

Yes I give you all permission to cringe, that is me doing a “check out my guns” pose.

Now let me explain. I’m jumping on the bandwagon a little here. As a yoga teacher I think it’s extremely important to be happy inside and out. Weighing scales can wreak havoc with your happy endorphins, as in obliterate them. I recently did a blog for online company In it I talk about weight being just a number, and reference mymantra bikini model, Yola. Have a look at the blog and you’ll see Yola looking super trim and toned, but weighing more than she did prior to any sort of training. 

Now I am no bikini model! I am however 5ft 9 and 10 stone 8, around 68 kg. You may look at the picture and think I’m over weight, you may think I look good (thanks), you may wonder why I didn’t get someone else to take the photograph so all my legs were in (me too). The truth is, I rock climb and do yoga, a lot. I also eat a lot, generally very healthy. So should I cut down my portion size, so I can lower the numbers on the weighing scales? Should I stop drinking beer to get to 10 stone? I don’t think I will. I don’t think I’ll let some numbers rule my life. 

However if you don’t feel happy when you look in the mirror (not weighing scales). Vinyasa yoga is an excellent way to tone your body and lose any unwanted fat. It gets your heart rate up, whilst flowing from one posture to another at a quick pace. If you’re interested in having a private class or a group smaller than 5 please don’t hesitate to get in touch – 07908628455

I never liked numbers anyway, far too complicated. 

Grace xxx