International Yoga Day and what 30 days of yoga did for me

Today is International Yoga Day

Today is International Yoga Day and what better way to honour this day than to share my 30 day yoga journey! I had only ever done two yoga classes in my life, about 5 years ago, so I thought I would challenge myself to doing 30 days of yoga to see how my body responds. I am a weight training junkie. I loved crossfit and running and everything fast, so you must know this was quite a scary idea! I know for a fact that my hamstrings are naturally tight and that downward dog was going to be my nemesis, but I pushed on, literally.

I had heard great things about Tree Natural in Umhlanga and that they had a great unlimited package for a month. That sold me on this idea and I signed up! What really sold me on the idea was Dr Megan Medina. You know those two yoga classes I had been to all those years before? Well this were taught by Megan and I LOVED THEM! I loved them so much that I had never forgotten her name. I only stopped because I switched gyms.

I went bout 4 days per week, sometimes 5 when I could make it. I was challenged mentally as well as physically. The first night I was zonked! I wanted to go to sleep at 6pm! The same the next day, but after the third day I was already sleeping so much better than I was before. My body was clearly in shock, because it was doing things it had never done before. I found it amazing that I could deadlift 105kg’s but doing something as simple as triangle pose had me shaking uncontrollably.

I learnt so much about myself through this challenge. I don’t think we challenge ourselves enough. I think we like comfort, safety and the familiar. We don’t push the boundaries enough. We don’t respect our bodies enough to know that it’s got us, it can handle us, and it will always trust us. We just have to trust it back.

30 days of yoga taught me:

  • Yoga is hard
  • Yoga is not just about flexibility
  • Yoga can get your heart rate right up
  • Yoga works muscles you didn’t know existed
  • Poses look easy on instagram but are really really hard
  • Yoga works the body and the mind
  • I felt more calm and focussed during the day
  • I didn’t expect to enjoy it so much
  • Your body starts craving the movement
  • Your mind is less cluttered
  • Your body responds quicker than you think
  • You sleep so well
  • You are motivated to push a little deeper each time
  • You learn to love the guided mediation of the teacher
  • You start following yogi accounts on instagram
  • You want to be better
  • Your flexibility improves in one month

 

I must say, all in all I was very happy with my progress! I took some before and after pics to note the slight improvements. I was really happy to move from using blocks or a strap, to not. It really is the small improvements that make a difference!

 

 

International Yoga Day

There are those terrible hamstrings!

International Yoga Day

I was happy with my progress! Megan says rather have a bend in your knees to keep your back straight and not rounded.

 

International Yoga Day

Blocks are so useful and versatile! Start off with them until you are more comfortable in the poses.

International Yoga Day

Slow progress is better than no progress!

 

International Yoga Day

I found that my lower back was also tight, not just my hamstrings. When I first started cobra it was actually painful, but it is so much more comfortable after a month of loosening it up!

International Yoga Day

This really isn’t as easy as it looks! My balance was shocking and my lower back was very tight. I am still getting there slowly but I am way better off now.

 

International Yoga Day

Goddess squat is no joke! Blocks definitely help to keep you more upright at the start.

International Yoga Day

So rounded and bad form to start with. Thanks hamstrings! Megan said to bend the knees to get a flat back and what a difference it made!

 

I am so excited to keep going on this journey and get to where I want to be. I know that will take a long time, but I am really happy with the progress so far.

You can find out more about Tree Natural’s yoga classes here and find them on Facebook here.

 

How did you get into yoga? Do you practice at home or a studio? Are you taking part in International Yoga Day in any way?

 

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World Doula Week

Since it is World Doula week, I thought it was only apt to feature someone who has used a Doula 8 times! Debbie Calo lives in Durban and has had a home birth for each of her children. I have seen her in action at yoga and I never imagined she had 8 children, she is a yoga master and looks incredible!

 

What does healthy mean to you?
For me health begins in your head!  You can eat well, exercise daily and take the best supplements but in the end if you are not happy then none of that matters. Being stressed or negative all the time does not support good health.  Besides that my family and I are vegetarians and we treat anything from the common cold to meningitis homeopathically, and as a result our immune systems are pretty strong!

 

What is your chosen form of exercise?
YOGA!!!  If my mat could talk!  My practice keeps me sane! I started practicing 27 years ago as it is the only exercise other than walking that I would recommend conception and during pregnancy. I also find it very grounding not to mention humbling.

Every pose has a meaning for it either releases what no longer serves a purpose in my life or strengthens me for what is still to come!  For me yoga is not only a physical exercise, you could go to the gym for that, it’s a spiritual, emotional and mental exercise. I always leave the studio with a great feeling of accomplishment.  I practice mainly heated Vinyasa yoga so I get a good detox at the same time! I also try and get to sculpt classes twice a week. Sculpt is a combination of yoga and medium to high intensity workout with weights.  It’s a lot of fun and you feel euphoric after burning up your yoga mat!  I do both yoga and sculpt at Tree Natural.

 

What does your way of healthy eating look like?
We are all vegetarian at home and my children have all been raised as vegetarians.  I have never been one to follow the latest trends in diets, I prefer to go with what I want to eat and I listen to my body. I always make healthy choices its just my way of honoring my body and good health.  My motto is “Eat when you are hungry, eat clean and the more organic the better”.

 

What is your passion project?
Actually my latest passion project is yet to begin!  It will be my yoga teacher training that I will begin early next year. Up until now it has been raising my eight children and I still have a way to go, I think one could definitely call that a ‘passion project!’.

 

What does a typical day look like for you?
Ok so I wake up with the birds which is pretty early! Morning is my best time of day. I love getting as much of it as possible. I go straight into fifth gear with cleaning up after my midnight snackers, packing school lunches, organising breakfasts, feeding the dog and then before waking up the troops I do a 20 minute mini workout in our gym at home, nothing hectic just a warm up for my day with some rowing, yoga stretches and a little dumbbell work.

Then it’s getting kids ready for school and doing the school drops. I walk my Rotti every morning on the beach, this is when I finally breath out! After that it’s a quick walk on the promenade (you can’t live in Umhlanga and not walk on the promenade at some point in your day!) then it’s my morning Yoga practice at 9am.  Tree is my little sanctuary, it’s my ‘happy place’. After class I get to sit with friends and get my caffeine fix.  By now I so have my ‘bliss’ on even the taxi drivers can’t get me going! Only now its back to the real world and the reality of having eight kids. To be fair though, one is in California and one is studying law at UCT so I only have six at home.  Next it’s the grocery shopping, then the school pick ups and sport spectating, homework and then a lot of kitchen time preparing dinner.

 

What would you like people to know about you?
That just because I have had eight kids I do not profess to ‘know it all’. I am open minded and believe that no matter how old you are or how much ground you have covered in life there is always something you can learn from everyone you meet. I have been practicing yoga for 27 years but still I have so much to learn. Life is a journey and we can learn from a 5 year old just as we can from a 50 year old. It’s about being humble and always, always keeping the ego at bay.  I chose to have my babies at home, not because I’m superwoman or have an above average threshold for pain, just because it felt ‘right’. I never put it out there simply because there was and still is such a stigma towards home birthing. I was considered primal and was  cast out of the pack so to speak. Sadly women have never been educated or encouraged to trust their own bodies. If there was one thing I could be given the chance to do, it would be to endorse having your baby at home, the greatest gift you can give your child.  That and beginning your childs education at home. I home schooled my kids during their formative years and it really payed off. As a result they all have a love for learning because they were gently and lovingly eased into schooling, they have a positive outlook to education.

So what do I want people to know about me?  I believe in being authentic to myself. I never wanted to talk the talk, I needed to walk the walk and lead by example. Anyone can talk about it, you gotta do it! My children are the ‘fruits of my labour’. I certainly don’t know it all, but my message to all you beautiful ladies out there is ‘Trust your bodies, trust your instincts, turn up the volume of that little voice within you and drown out the fear!


Favourite workout song?

Anything by Sia

 

Favourite quote/advice?
When thinking about life, remember this: no amount of guilt can change the past and no amount of anxiety can change the future.
Favourite quote: well I have a few so I had to narrow them down and just couldn’t stop at one!
“Healing doesn’t mean the damage never existed, it means the damage no longer controls our lives.”
“Face your past without regret, handle your present with confidence, prepare for the future without fear, keep faith, drop the fear.  Don’t believe your doubts and never doubt your beliefs.  Life is wonderful if you know how to live it!”

 

What was your experience with your doula?
I had a doula all eight times. The benefit of having a doula is that although you have the intimacy of your partner along with the expertise of the midwife, a doula brings about a calmness, she chases away your fears and empowers you with her words. My doulas were very gentle souls there was no judgement, no pressure, just reassurance that I could do this. I was perfectly able to bring this child into the world, I was designed for this, I was given the strength to do this and very soon I would be holding my beautiful baby in my arms. To me doulas are sent from heaven along with all the midwives that do home births. They should all be honored for the work that they do and the big hearts that they have.

 

 

Doula

Doula

Doula

 

Doula

Doula

Doula

Debbie today!

 

Have you used a doula?

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Getting to know Dr Megan Medina

I met Megan Medina a few years ago when she was teaching yoga at Virgin Active. She was basically my intro to yoga and I loved the way she taught. Fast forward a few years and since those 3 classes I attended, I now see her for yoga at Tree Natural at least twice a week! She is so sweet, so talented and she just draws you into her as well.

 

Let’s get to know Megan Medina…

 

What does healthy mean to you?
Healthy to me is freedom. Moving with ease, enjoying time with my family and friends. Being outdoors, being active, being at peace with my body, and my mind.
 
What is your chosen form of exercise?
Yoga always. I enjoy dancing, swimming, and weight training too.
 
What does your way of health eating look like?
A variety of fresh foods. Eating from the earth, food in its most natural form.
 
What is your passion project?
Uplifting women. Empowering women to find their strength, their self worth, to reconnect with their power.
 
What does a typical day look like for you?
I like to practice Yoga in the mornings, followed by a day of consulting ( I work as a homeopath- treating pregnancy complaints, and pediatrics). I often teach yoga in the evenings. Amy spare time I have I write for my blog: healthy recipes, inspiring birth stories, Homoepathic first aid hints and tips) I try to spend a few hours studying for my post graduate degree in childbirth education.
 
What would you like people to know about you?
I love life, especially new life. And working as a doula is by far the most rewarding and life reaffirming vocation I have ever experienced. Being able to help support a birthing couple as they bring new life into the world is so powerful.
 
What would you like people to know about your work/business?
My business is very much apart of my every day life: the work I do, and the lessons I teach, fall in line with my philosophy to life, which is all about gentle, natural and holistic care. We have the power to heal ourselves, sometimes we just need a bit of guidance in the right direction.
 
Favourite workout song? I’m a lover of all John Mayer songs- the more sentimental the better.
 
Favourite exercise and why?
Yoga. It’s strong, it challenges you on a daily basis. It forces you to stay in the present moment, to stay focused on your breath and your body at all times. You can do it anywhere, at anytime, and after a class, you get the pleasure of lying still on your mat, and just chilling out. Pure bliss.
 
Favourite quote/advice?
Be true to what sets your heart on fire.
 
 

Yoga

Yoga

Yoga

Yoga

Yoga

Be sure to follow lovely Megan on Instagram and Facebook

Visit her website here!

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Getting to know Narina Exelby 

Narina and I touched base years ago when she was an Editor at Women’s Health magazine. I did an article for them and I’ve kept in touch with her over the years. I’ve been following her exciting life travelling the world whilst writing from a hammock here and a beach-side villa there. It takes a brave person to leave the corporate world behind to travel and write around the world!

Lets get to know Narina Exelby:

 

What does healthy mean to you?
It means respecting your body and striving for balance ­ emotionally, physically and spiritually.

 

What is your chosen form of exercise?
Yoga and bodyboarding

 

What does your way of healthy eating look like?
For the past three years I’ve not lived anywhere in particular, so it’s
been impossible to have a proper eating plan or routine: I make the
healthiest choice I can in that moment. I’m based in a remote part of Bali
now, and so that means a lot of rice and fresh fish, coconuts, and cap cay
(which is a steamed vegetable soup). I love to make salads, which are a
mix of the nuts and seeds I stock up on when I go to Ubud (the health
stores there are amazing!), and the fruit and veggies that are in season
and available at the market.
What is your passion project?
Indonesia has a serious rubbish problem, and being a nation of islands
means that so much waste ends up in the sea, and then washed up on the
beaches at high tide and after the rains. I teach drop-in yoga classes at
our retreat space in Medewi, west Bali, and all the money received for
those classes goes towards working with our neighbours to keep our beach
clean.

 

What does a typical day look like?
I wake up at around 4.30am with the call to prayer, and begin work in bed.
These first few hours of the day are very precious work time, because
there is so much that goes on in our little village after sunrise (from
relocating turtle eggs to cleaning the beach, having coffee with
neighbours, learning about traditional medicine, and helping out friends).
At 7am I practice or teach yoga in our yoga space on the beach, and then
indulge in a coffee or two at the surf point. After that there is no
typical days I’ll try to continue with my work, and this will be
interspersed with visits from our neighbours, bodyboarding, working with
some of the projects we’re working on Every day is different.

 

Favourite workout song?
I get to practice yoga to the sound of the waves, with birds calling and
wooden cow bells gently clanking, so I don’t practice with music.

 

Favourite exercise?
That hangs depending on what my body needs. At the moment I’m enjoying hip
openers, particularly pigeon pose.

 

Favourite advice?
Some days might not be as good as others, and your practice might feel
particularly difficult or you’re agitated or feeling weak ­ and that’s
okay. Be gentle with yourself. Respect your body. And do th every best you
can in that moment.
Also: my favourite Jax Jai (who will be leading a retreat at Low Tide Yoga
in December) quoted one of her teachers: “you can mess with the gods but
you shouldn’t mess with your knees”. If your knees hurt in a pose, back off.

 

Follow the lovely Narina on Twitter

You can Email her here
Visit her website here

Go read their amazing travel Blog HERE!

 

Narina in Bali BW lowres

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Getting to know Claudine Bresgi

I “met” Claudz because she was given me as her secret santa person for the blogger secret santa! I’m so glad that happened because she is SO lovely, and she gives really good gifts! She was so thoughtful and had obviously gone to a lot of stalking  trouble to find out everything about me. She even went so far as to include treats for Boston and Harley! I mean how thoughtful??

Lets get to know Claudine Bresgi:

 

What does healthy mean to you?
To me, healthy means making the correct choices in all aspects of your life in such a way that you are taking care of you. This means opting for the right food, taking the stairs instead of the lift and finding time to rest your mind. It means taking little breaks, taking a deep breathe and not allowing the strains of modern life take over. Being tired, feeling uncomfortable in your skin and not being able to enjoy silence are all signs that you need to make a few healthier decisions.

 

What is your chosen form of exercise?
My chosen form of exercise used to be running. I loved getting on the road and seeing my progress. Since I’m over 6 months pregnant and not allowed to run I’ve discovered yoga. I’ve also discovered swimming during my pregnancy. Both are offering me the exercise I crave. The yoga has shown me how stiff my body is while the swimming reminds me that I am not always large and awkward!

 

What does your way of healthy eating look like?
My way of healthy eating is adding some herbs to the plate for greenery! Just kidding. Pregnancy has changed my eating habits dramatically. I’m all about fruit, green veg and fish. Meat? no thanks! I’m loving strawberries too. I love food and love cooking so eating healthy is a part-time habit. I know better but I also love to eat! Water! That’s a number one non-negotiable for me. Always drink more water.

 

What is your passion project?
My passion project is the pregnancy at the moment. It’s consumed my entire life. I’m preparing for the arrival of the little one and I know my life will change dramatically. Perhaps once I’m settled into motherhood, I’ll get back onto my path

 

What does a typical day look like for you?
A typical day for me starts at 5am when the alarm goes off. Husband hits the shower while this fatigued belly desperately tries to sneak in more sleep. I’m up, getting ready for work and walking the dog before 6:15 when it’s time to hit the road to avoid the traffic. Work is at a desk most of the day. Then it’s back in the traffic to get home. The dog gets a second walk and then it’s time for dinner before we catch up on some TV and off to bed around 10pm. Gym or dinners with friends would find a way in between it all but since this body is making a human, the energy levels are low and my exercise and socializing is limited to weekends.

 

What would you like people to know about you?
I think I put so much out there on social media that there is nothing left to find out. I am actually incredibly shy until I am comfortable with you. I don’t like hugging strangers. I am also a private person and there is a lot I don’t share with people.

 

What would you like people to know about your work/business?
I’m a food blogger so I’m going to tell you to try that interesting dish! Expand your culinary horizons – try a new cuisine, go vegan for a few days, don’t eat the same thing at the same restaurant. And keep your pizza toppings simple. There is a new world out there through food, explore!

 

Favourite workout song?
Tough one! Had a great little yoga stretch session to some classic Jack Johnson (part of the baby playlist). I like words so I can listen to any song where I can relate to the lyrics.

 

Favourite exercise and why?
Pigeon pose in yoga is my favourite at the moment. It just seems to stretch all those muscles that pregnancy seem to want to hold onto!

 

Favourite quote/advice?
My favourite quote changes so often. Advice? You are not responsible for other people’s happiness, only your own. At the end of the day, it’s your life and no one else can live it. Make the most of your time here and don’t let others hold you back

 

Go and follow her on Twitter and Instagram

Go read her lovely  BLOG


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