Pilates Vs Yoga

Daniela da Silva

Pilates and yoga are commonly confused, particularly when you are just starting out. Both are becoming increasingly popular as we become more aware of the mental health benefits and invest our time and energy in improving our wellbeing. To prevent beginners quitting when they don’t see the immediate results they are looking for, it’s important to embark upon the best challenge for you. Knowledge is power and understanding the specific benefits of each discipline will allow you to choose which practice is best for you. The experts at Blue House Yoga breakdown the benefits:

Mental Health

Whilst all exercise is a form of stress relief as endorphins are released around the body if you are looking to explore your overall wellbeing, including your mental health, yoga is the better option. Yoga has grown in popularity so much because of it’s known mental health benefits; as modern life becomes more stressful and the pressure to do it all becomes overwhelming, so many people have turned to stress-relieving yoga. Yoga can be integrated with therapeutic and explorative sessions to strengthen mental stamina and resilience as well as the body. The origin of yoga was to improve individual consciousness and connection. Yoga will naturally combat mental illness because it focuses on internal reflection. Yoga is a fantastic way to relieve stress in a relaxing and non-judgmental environment.

Physical

Of course, both yoga and Pilates offer fantastic physical benefits. Both provide full body strengthening and will work for all muscle groups, but Pilates will have a greater focus on muscle toning. Pilates was established as a physical rehabilitation program but many of the same benefits are also a byproduct of yoga. Pilates is a more physically intensive exercise and will show quicker physical results, but you should be wary of over-extending your body before you build your strength up.

Yoga will provide an excellent supportive program to other fitness routines, including muscle control and conditioning not to mention greater flexibility! 

Breathing in Pilates is also used to provide the muscles with oxygen, focusing on muscle relaxation in order to maintain poses. On the other hand, breathing in yoga is designed to relax the whole body. A yoga instructor will teach how to concentrate on breathing and internalise it. You can relieve entire areas of stress and stress-related injuries.

Progression and Other Thoughts

If you are looking to burn calories with cardio Pilates, you will need a Pilates machine. Unless you are willing to invest in one, your progression is going to be slower and you’re not going to see the results you want in the desired timescale. Whilst yoga is best experienced in guided sessions, you can further your practice in your own space and time without the need for any equipment. Overall, yoga will also be the cheaper route (no gym membership or machine purchase) with at-home and group or private sessions.

Yoga is also more popular and is a feature on most gym timetables. This will make it more accessible and more likely to keep up your attendance. Regular yoga classes are the way to implement positive, lasting change.

Time To Decide

Both Pilates and yoga are typically low impact form of exercise for improving stability, balance and posture. physical conditioning and can still be combined with a yoga program for an ambitious but rewarding transformation. Trying a week-long or five-day yoga retreat will be a great way to see results and experience a comprehensive taster session of what you can achieve. Look at our retreats or get in touch with one of the experts at Blue House Yoga, today!

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What To Pack For A Summer Yoga Retreat!

Daniela da Silva

Going on your first yoga retreat and not sure what to pack? Don’t worry we’ve got you covered. Even if you’re a seasoned yogi but have always favoured a winter retreat, follow this checklist to explore the sun and the soul on your summertime retreat. These essentials will ensure you can achieve maximum relaxation and enjoy every last drop of your yoga retreat!

What you pack for a yoga retreat will depend on the style of break you are booked onto. If your chosen retreat is as much about the yoga experience as it is exploring culture or basking in the sun, don’t worry, you can just chop and change the checklist wherever you feel necessary. Follow this list to make your retreat memorable, whatever your chosen type of sanctuary and personal goals. 

Summer Yoga Kit

  1. Yoga Attire

For retreats that offer two sessions per day, a good general rule of thumb is to bring 1 yoga appropriate outfit for every 1.5 days. So, if you’re on a 5 day yoga retreat, 4 lots will be plenty!  This is because you won’t spend all day in your workout gear if you’re also looking to explore or enjoy the sun. You will likely change into swimwear or something casual to wander around in.

Top Tip: If you are embarking on a more intense program, like Bikram yoga or a blended course of yoga and HIIT workouts, you will want to increase this to 1 workout outfit per day. Don’t worry if you have not got a wardrobe full of yoga gear. Loose pants and tank tops, with appropriate supportive layers, will be perfect. If this is your first foray into yoga retreats, read more on our blog or check out this post if you’re nervous! 

  1. Mats

Enquire with your provider whether you need to bring a yoga mat. Most travellers prefer to bring their own mat to ensure that they can focus during sessions. We recommend packing a lightweight mat and if you’re travelling to and from different sessions, a yoga mat carrier will also be essential!

  1. Towels

You’re more than likely going to be practising in the sun, and whilst that sounds utterly fantastic, you’re going to get warm. A little towel to wipe your sweat will ensure you’re not slipping around on your mat.

  1. Water Bottle!

This is a must for every summer yoga retreat! To replenish and rejuvenate your body, you must stay hydrated. You can carry your personal water bottle to daily sessions, out on excursions or wherever you are. As a bonus, this will also cut down on single use plastics, a big issue for the more touristic retreat destinations. Don’t forget to empty your bottle if you want to carry it through hand luggage on your flight home.

  1. Extra Gear

You might be wondering if you can bring your blocks or straps to use in classes. Normally, a yoga instructor will have planned out the session, but straps can be worked into a lot of poses and positions. Just don’t get too concerned with working them into every session. You will have plenty of time for private practice, too. Straps are also a great option if you are new to yoga or haven’t done a week-long retreat before as they will help prevent overextension.

Summer Clothing

  1. Swimwear!

A couple of items of swimwear will allow you to be flexible with your activities. If you plan on visiting the beach or utilising your venue’s pool, a cycle of 2-3 swimsuits will be plenty for a week in the sun!

  1. Day Clothes

This will depend on your personal goals for the week. If you are looking to go out exploring every day, you will want an outfit per day, but most retreats are super casual. We find that guests love to keep things relaxed and tranquil, hanging out in shorts and tees, light dresses or their swimwear.

  1. Nightwear

Again, this will vary massively. If you are on an austere retreat in Goa, the chances are you’re not going to be touring the local nightlife. However, if you’ve opted for something a little more exhilarating, like a Mykonos Yoga Retreat, sampling the bars is part of the experience and has excellent healing and revitalizing properties! Therefore, you might want to pack a dress or a smarter outfit, but sandals will always be fine!

Top tip: Don’t forget a little cross-body or clutch to keep hold of all your personal items when out letting your hair down!

  1. Something Warm

One jacket or a shawl will be enough for any summer yoga retreat. Mornings and evenings might get chilly and if you want to watch a sunrise or end up talking way into the night with new friends, a shawl or sweater will ensure you stay cosy without ruining the fun!

  1. Footwear

Summer is time for sandals! If you intend on soaking up the rays or just relaxing at the accommodation, you’ll probably find yourself barefoot more often than not. Pack 1 pair or flip flops and 1 pair of nicer sandals that are comfortable and versatile.

If you fancy a run or hitting the gym, pack your trainers, too! If you can, save space in your suitcase and wear them on the flight.

All The Extras

  1. Camera

Obviously!

  1. A Backpack or Day Bag

Double up your carry-on bag and bring a backpack or bag that you’re happy to go off exploring with. Ensure it is big enough to carry your camera and water bottle and perhaps a towel if you’re planning to visit the beach.

  1. Sun Care!

Sun cream is absolutely mandatory! A yoga retreat is all about improving your health and protecting your skin is vitally important! Sunglasses and hats are also strongly recommended! Lip balm is also a good idea.

  1. Your Usual Toiletry Kit

Of course, you should pack all the basics, but a yoga retreat is all about nature and healing your body. Don’t feel the need to pack your heavy make-up kit if you don’t want to. Embrace your sun-kissed skin and go to worship your body and connect with yourself!

  1. A Good Book

You’ll have down time for personal meditation, reflection and relaxation on any summer yoga retreat. But what combines a retreat with a summer holiday better than a good book read on the beach or sun lounger?

A yoga retreat is a fantastic excuse to completely digitally detox, so a good book (or three) will be perfect to keep your mind busy in a healthy way.

What To Leave Behind

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, whatever your chosen type of retreat, a summer yoga retreat is a time to unwind and be at peace with yourself and your surroundings. Natural and casual is always the motto, even if you’re venturing into clubs and bars in the evening. Don’t worry about packing heels, heavy cosmetics or anything you don’t feel is utterly necessary.

A negative attitude and any self-consciousness should be completely abandoned. Remember why you booked your trip; it is your time to focus on healing and tranquillity!

Get in touch with Blue House Yoga to book a retreat this summer or for more information about embarking on your personal yoga journey!

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The Best Yoga Retreats Around The World

Daniela da Silva

Bali is an extraordinary paradise destination for a yoga retreat. The entire island oozes chi and spirituality, but if you are looking for the best yoga retreats away from the beaten track or a more unique experience, read through our list of destinations you might never have considered. Our list boasts breaks that will rejuvenate your soul through the practice of yoga as well as the tried and true therapy of fun!

Magical Mountains

Continual yoga improves your range of motion and strengthens the body, so what is a more perfect warm up to a day of skiing? Of course, snow capped mountains are an idyllic tranquil backdrop for a yoga retreat, and crisp, cold alpine air is perfect for practicing pranayama breathing. Some boutique retreats now encourage their guests to embrace the excitement and energy of a ski resort. Typical ski resorts feature everything from dancing on tables, cabin-style accommodations with luxury amenities such as saunas and spas and fantastic exercise on the slopes! Blending these activities with yoga practice allows visitors to express their energy whichever way they choose. Exploring your spirituality can come in many mediums, working alongside a qualified professional can help you understand your behaviours as well as strengthening your mental and emotional wellbeing.

Greek Delights

Greek Island Retreat

The Greek islands are fairy-tale destinations. You’ll be surrounded by sparking waters, diverse landscapes and rich, inviting cultures so specific and individual to each island throughout your stay. Retreats on these paradise islands can range from secluded, extravagant escapes to private islands or a blend of yoga and authentic culture with retreats on major islands such as marvellous Mykonos.

The best yoga retreats on Greek islands provide the perfect way to explore quaint towns and experience a fantastic culture, whilst continuing to discover and practice self-improvement through yoga. Classes can take place with views of sun kissed beaches or a sea of white buildings hugging the cliffs, but the biggest lure has got to be the food! Make sure you pick a retreat that prioritises local foods, as there is nothing quite like freshly prepared Greek salads or the best seafood in the world.

Blue House Yoga will be retreating to the popular town of Mykonos for an enriching break. Rest assured, the itinerary will be flexible and provide plenty of time to discover the popular Greek isle in the heart of the Mediterranean! Dates are from September 24 – September 29, call to book your place now!!

Sustainable Detoxes

If you use yoga to reduce your stress or combat anxieties but want to enjoy a concentrated bout of classes, a detoxing retreat might be for you. Couple your pursuit of yoga and improved mental health with sustainable living, for a futureproofing retreat for both the environment and your own emotional wellbeing. Challenge yourself to a traditional cleanse in Goa, India where you can trade your technology for views of the Arabian sea. Alternatively, if you’re not a traveller, you can attend stronger detoxes here in the UK. Buried in rural surroundings, you will be committing to juice fasting, vegan meals and completely sustainable living throughout your stay. These yoga classes are for novices looking for a slow-paced introduction to the practice or for yogi’s looking for an introduction to vegan living or concentrated stress detox.

There is a yoga retreat for everyone. In our opinion, the best yoga retreats facilitate more than just yoga.  They are a blend of culture, adventure, exploration and fun but with plenty of opportunities for personal reflection and individual pursuits. When this is accompanied by a fully qualified instructor who is adept at working in collaborative environments, you are sure to achieve your personal goals!

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What Is CBT?

Daniela da Silva

What Is CBT Therapy?

CBT is a collaborative approach to helping individuals deal with negative thought patterns and their ensuing behaviours. CBT is a psychologically recognised method for combatting mental health concerns as it is based on the principles of cognitive therapies as well as individual behavioural reactions. CBT is an extremely effective therapy and is easy to integrate into schedules or routines that make it a constructive route for positive change, particularly if it is used in conjunction with other practices.

The CBT approach is recommended for dealing with some of the most common mental health issues, including depression and anxiety. Leading mental health authorities state that these are the biggest mental health concerns in the UK today; in fact, 2018 reports show that depression and anxiety are both increasing. 1254365 people are in contact with mental health services and the majority of these are adults.

The increase in mental health concerns are cited as a knock-on effect of modern living. An increasing percentage of the population is impacted by depression as we become more disconnected from the world around us. Individuals then experience a loss of interest or pleasure which then changes behavioural patterns or schedules.

Medication is the most common type of treatment but often makes individuals feel like perpetual patients dependent on chemicals. CBT, particularly Y-CBT (yoga enhanced CBT), interrupts the cycle to empower individuals and transform them from ‘patients’ to ‘healers’, equipped to handle life’s challenges.

What Are The Benefits Of CBT?

CBT is not a quick-fix technique, but much like yoga or any muscle strengthening program, it is most effective when implemented into a structured training plan. It is also something that must be continually worked at and must be fully committed to. Like muscle strengthening, the process will feel easier as time progresses. CBT is a comprehensive therapy type that can lead to positive change across a whole range of issues, especially when employed by multi-disciplined practitioners.

CBT is an effective method for combatting destructive behavioural and emotional patterns from progressing. Many who have worked with CBT and introduced the practice into their life notice that it is best for immediate affects, without being an extreme ‘quick fix’ or fad technique. This means it is recommended as the ideal low-impact therapy for specific goals.

CBT evaluates individual situations and is therefore considered a goal-orientated treatment. However, the two aspects of CBT (cognitive and behavioural) will be employed as necessary, depending on the situation at hand. Many individuals report that their CBT strategy has improved their self-esteem, anxiety, panic disorders, PTSD & behavioural issues such as addictions or OCD, even when the therapy was designed to tackle another concern.

Cognitive and Behavioural

Though this form of therapy is often labelled as ‘collaborative’ because it is a fusion of two principles, a common framework is to work at identifying the difference between thoughts, emotions and actions. Developing an understanding of automatic thought processes, particularly negative thought processes, is a key component of CBT. These thoughts are often intrinsic or inherent beliefs and are the cognitive pattern that is causing an issue. From here, individuals can work with their therapists to understand how certain destructive or impulsive behaviours develop and then, how they can be challenged by the individual. 

As a talking therapy, CBT works well with other holistic approaches that enable the individual to explore multiple avenues of their mental and emotional self. Y-CBT is a blend of yoga, meditation and CBT techniques. Meditating and Y-CBT is a scientifically supported method for combatting the behavioural or physical attributes of mental health disorders, such panic attacks. Therapists can demonstrate breathing strategies, such as pranayama or stress-reducing practices that implement control, to overcome physiological behavioural patterns.

CBT is a structured way to implement positive change. Rather than attempting to make change on your own, a professional CBT instructor will be able to provide a non-judgemental and tailor-made strategy to help overcome negativity or blockages. Get in touch with an integrative CBT practitioner, today!

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How To Have A Healthy Work / Life Balance

Daniela da Silva

Modern life imposes more stress than ever before, as we find ourselves unable to implement boundaries between our work and home lives. It is important to establish a healthy work life balance in order for us to lead well-rounded and fulfilled lives.

We think it would be easy not to work, but actually psychological studies and therapists highlight that we need to work to emotionally and mentally support our home life, too. In this post, Blue House Yoga is going to look at which techniques should be considered for finding balance as measured by the Hierarchy Of Needs. Generic self-care activities such as pampering, digital detoxes and exercise are recommended across the web to introduce balance into your life. Our post looks at strategies and techniques that will implement long-term improvement to your work life balance and real positive change rather than quick-fixes.

CBT and Yoga

Yoga is an ancient and well-recognised method for managing life’s daily stresses. Continued practice improves self-awareness and invites mindfulness which will help organise the priorities of your life.

However, to effectively tackle the origin of your stress and to implement long term positive improvement in both your workplace and home life, consider CBT. CBT is an educational and explorative approach that engages with and amplifies the principles of yoga; emotional wellbeing, cognitive thoughts and physical sensation.

Blue House Yoga instructor Daniela De Silva is a comprehensive wellness tutor. Daniela is qualified with distinction in CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) and can help you find balance and harmony in your life. This holistic approach to therapy is tried and true and can be combined with a yoga regime that enhances CBT. The collaborative combination of techniques enables the individual to target both the symptoms of anxiety as well as the root causes of the stress.

CBT is the most effective method for managing anxiety whilst yoga rejuvenates the individual. This means you will have the tools to reduce the affect of workplace stresses as well as the impression of more time to tackle hectic modern lives with a more positive attitude. Utilising this strategy, your quality of life will be vastly improved.

Health In The Workplace

Ensuring you have a healthy work / life balance is the responsibility of the individual as much as the employer. In fact, employers who promote mental and emotional harmony and flexibility in the workplace boost their team’s motivation, productivity and retention. Studies have shown that employers who offer flexible working benefit from a 75% reduction in recruitment costs and sickness absence rates also fall by 25%. It was reported this week that a New Zealand company that have trialled a four-day work-week have seen “no downside” and every aspect of the business has improved.

This is a result of individuals being able to manage their own time and incorporate self-care to boost mental health and refresh the body and mind. It is important to remember that work is just as important as life; it installs purpose and also provides a sense of importance and belonging. Often, it can also be used to structure our lives (even with flexible working hours) and provides stability, which is required for achieving self-actualisation or one’s full potential on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

If it is not possible to have flexible hours in your workplace, consider requesting team building activities that will boost social satisfaction as well as the feeling of belonging to a group. Studies show that companies that provide team-building activities have an 85% improvement in internal communication, increased creativity and employee satisfaction. This is because the activities invite social engagement and reduce stress from the workplace. Alternatively, set aside time to learn a new skill or something in your routine that is mentally fulfilling. This will stimulate your cognitive, esteem and perhaps aesthetic needs, depending on your chosen hobby. Yoga and CBT can teach you how to perceive this as a way to relieve stress rather than another item on your to-do list.

To bring corporate yoga into your workplace, or to find out more about how our comprehensive wellness and yoga instructor can help you implement a healthier, harmonious lifestyle, get in touch with us today.

 

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Would A Yoga Retreat Suit Me?

Daniela da Silva

A yoga retreat is a time for self-reflection, meditation and exploration. But it is also a time for fun! We find that yoga retreats are so popular because they are a unique blend of excitement and downtime and they bring together a brand-new group of people. The demands of modern life push people to seek the most out of their holidays and a yoga retreat really is the best of both worlds.

At Blue House Yoga, we receive a lot of enquiries from guests before they book about whether or not a yoga retreat is something they should embark on. We understand your trepidation, but yoga really is a joyful and enlightening experience that can alleviate your general feelings of anxiety. We have put together this post to help address any concerns you may be having, read to find your questions but never hesitate to get in touch with our team!

Can I Go On A Yoga Retreat As A Beginner?

This is perhaps the question we get asked most frequently. We understand your anxiety, but quality yoga instructors will be able to guide a mixed-ability class. There is often a lot of apprehension about embarking upon a yoga retreat as many are concerned that they are reserved for the advanced practitioner. Poses and classes can be tailored to include everyone and all abilities.

More importantly, a yoga retreat is about embracing new skills. One of yoga’s biggest rewards is mastering its challenges. Regular yoga over the course of a week will show you impressive, positive results for your body and mind. We find that our retreats build a micro-community or culture of encouragement and support from all abilities, so if this is your first attempt at yoga or you’re still very new, committing to a week-long yoga retreat might be the best option to accelerate your skills quickly and ensure you reap the benefits of incorporating it in your daily routine.

Everyone Is Welcome!

More recently, the practice of yoga has become stigmatised and stereotyped. We find that women tend to practice more regularly and attend scheduled classes or retreats. Here at Blue House Yoga, we want to discourage any stigma surrounding who can practice the ancient spiritual exercise that was historically a practice only for men.

Gender stereotyping often discourages men from being mindful or engaging in emotional and physical exploration in any form. Avoiding or ignoring sources of stress is a leading cause of mental health deterioration in men. The causes of stress are universal, and yoga can help both men and women detox mentally, emotionally and physically. We teach Pranayama breathing techniques to invite peace into the mind; this technique is scientifically proven to soothe the central nervous system, too.

Flexibility is another concern for men who want to try to learn yoga skills but believe they won’t be able to complete a class. Regular yoga practice and gradually honing your skills will improve your flexibility and physical performance. Classes, poses and stretches can be coupled with breathing techniques to improve muscle elasticity and endurance, too. We find that our male yogis really benefit from their practices and often find it improves their performance in other sports.

Our fully qualified yoga instructor, Daniela, has designed sessions that encourage progress and positivity for the whole group. If you have set personal goals whilst on one of our retreats, you can always book one-to-one classes or engage in private practice.

Yoga is an inclusive, fun activity above all. The only thing you should worry about is which yoga retreat to choose and what to pack!

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What to bring to your ski & yoga retreat!

Daniela da Silva
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The Seven Attitudes of Mindfulness

Daniela da Silva

Since I was little my mother used to say that my problem at times was that 'I thought I knew everything'

She was right, as often mother's are.

For many years I resented the strict South-American-Japanese parenting that I've received, they were no much praises, approval or applauses. When someone remarked our looks as children our parents did not reinforce them, instead they smile and added 'that the most important thing was that we were anatomically and mentally perfect! I wasn't paid tributes on birthdays or when I successfully completed another year at school, only a sober: Congratulations, I am happy that you are healthy, remember to thank God for your life! 

We all grew up, with exception of our twin brothers, they departed earlier, and despite our flaws, as a family we all became independent at the age of 14 years old more or less. All of us! and still following the South-American-Japanese tradition, we feel and act responsible for our mom and youngest, me being the second eldest puts me in a elevate hierarchal position and this structure add a lot to my responsibility. In the upside it feels good to have the respect, unconditional support, loyalty and love of my sisters. In case we are having a more heated conversation at the table my mother always take my side and interfere: Respect your older sister! And they generally tune down their tones (I know, LOL!). 

There's a biological trigger that allow us to select leaders, applying various physical, emotional and psychological criteria adapted to when and where we live, or following family hierarchy. As a race we are all fine if the leader of the group eats first, chose the mate, have privileges and this trend translates in our modern days in bosses, who earn bigger salaries as in the special treatments and rewards that we offer to those who exceed in any area. We all ok with it, because following these privileges comes also duty. A leader was the first to eat, but also the first to die in event of attack...In case of vulnerability, war, disaster the leader is expected to save and comfort its keens...

A true leader at least, such as Madre Theresa, M.L King etc. None of us would have any problem giving them special treatments and payouts, because they fullfilled well their duties and did not misuse power. (Please enquire about mindfulness for leadership workshop) 

Sometimes I used to complain about my upbringing until one day a wise woman who happens to be the grandmother of my daughter said: 

-Perhaps you think that you should have had more attention growing up, but I am not entirely sure, as I look at you and your sisters I am proud for the women you all became, and I can only attribute that to your mother, that with little resources taught you all to be resilient, respectful, non-entitled and still light-hearted.

As she said that I was holding my baby in my arms, and frankly I felt a bit misunderstood, and raised my own child in a totally different fashion. Over one decade later, I see that overprotection is not helpful but harmful. I thought I knew better, but I was wrong...

My I-ALREADY-KNOW attitude persisted as I went to formalise my mindfulness studies. I told myself that I've research so much on the subject that I was only going there to inconveniently spend time in a classroom to hear information perhaps below my level of understanding...One of this 'formalities' that society imposes on all of us. 

And I was wrong once more...because that course taught me a little bit more about myself, and gave some more psychological tools to keep building myself. 

My favourite lessons: Acceptance and letting go, two qualities deeply connected with self esteem and rationality as Nathaniel Branden, brilliant mind, described in details on his extensive work in self esteem.  Below an extract of my paper work on the seven pillars of mindfulness. 

1 Non-judgment

We tend evaluate everything in terms of “good” or “bad” for us. These judgments become automatic. They dominate our minds. As such, this perpetual process of automatic reactions of liking or disliking makes it difficult for us to find peace within ourselves. To engage this attitude of non-judging so that we can begin to better handle stress and gain increased well-being we must gain an awareness of the “yo-yo” effect. After awareness we are invited to watch whatever comes up, including your automatic judging thoughts without pursuing them.

2 Patience

In mindfulness, this pillar involves understanding and accepting that things must unfold in their own time. When we judged all the time or easily became agitated or anxious, we rushed through things. But, with patience, “we treat ourselves as we would treat a butterfly”. No need to rush to get to something “better”. Patience helps us stay connected to the present entirely. With patience, we do not wander into the pas or the future. We do not lose ourselves in that past or future thinking. Patience helps us to accept our wandering tendencies while reminding us that we don’t have to get caught up in its travels.” Patience in effect involves reminding ourselves that we do not need to fill our time with activity, thinking, or judgments. It reminds us that we can do just the opposite. “To be patient is simply to be completely open to each moment, accepting it in its fullness, knowing that things can only unfold in their own time.”

3 Beginner’s mind

This attitude teaches us the “extraordinariness of the ordinary” in our present-moment experiences. It enables us with “a mind that is willing to see everything as if for the first time”. Important for learning and engaging in formal meditation practices, e.g. body scan, yoga, meditation, this type of openness to new experiences allows us to be receptive to new possibilities and prevents us from getting stuck in our own expertise, which often thinks it knows more than it does”. We become less attached to expectations based on past experiences. It reminds us that each moment contains unique possibilities. The beginner’s mind operates as a de-clutterer. With it, we can see, experience, feel, think about the people, places, and things in our universe as they really are and in the now. Our thoughts, opinions, and emotions no longer filter our daily life.

 4 Trust

An integral part of mindfulness practice involves developing trust in our feelings and ourselves. Guidance comes from your own intuition. This pillar invites to look inward, not outward. Trusting in yourself does not mean that you shy away from what you can learn from other sources. Often people or things can offer guides and suggestions. To have an open and receptive approach enables learning from others. However, ultimately we still have to live our own lives, every moment of it. Mindfulness practice involves “taking responsibility for being yourself and learning to listen to and trust your own being”. ‘The more you cultivate this trust in yourself, the easier you will find it will be to trust other people more and to see their basic goodness as well.”

5 Non-striving

Most of our energy and effort occurs for a purpose. We always want to get something, go somewhere. With mindfulness, one goal is to be yourself. But, we already are. Therefore, the attitude of non-striving suggest that we try less and ‘be’ more. We have a tendency to justify: “If I only were calmer . . . . “ or “. . . more intelligent . . . “ or “. . . more of this or more of that . . . . “ Non-striving, simply  allows us to experience anything and everything from moment to moment that exists here, because it already is. With the practice of mindfulness, we embrace and hold in awareness “anything and everything that we experience from moment to moment. An intelligent way to achieve goals involves backing off, and focusing carefully on seeing and accepting things as they are. Using awareness to becomes free from expectations or striving for results as the movement towards our goals occurs by itself.

6 Acceptance 

To deny or resist established facts is a waste of energy. Trying to force things creates tension. And tension prevents positive change from occurring. Acceptance encourages us come to terms with things as they are. Whether it involves a break-up, death, receiving a grievous medical diagnosis, sooner or later we will have to come to terms with those circumstances and accept them. Acceptance is not over tolerance or even satisfaction in face of upsetting circumstances but rather willingness to see things as they are and not as we wish them to be. Acceptance paves the way for real change. We can take appropriate action when we are rooted in reality, this way our judgments, desires, fears, or prejudices no longer can cloud our vision and self esteem.

7 Letting go

Our minds can sometimes be compared to a clenched fist, holding on into patterns and fixed on our experiences. But we can’t be free until we let go as we start to observe moment by moment. With steady practices of meditation for instance, we learn to stop clinging. In mindfulness we let our experience be what it is. “Letting go is a way of letting things be, of accepting things as they are.”

Conclusion

Recently I started to analyse my now different view of my past, enquiring me if I wasn't at the risk of 'romanticise' traumatic past events as a form of suppression.

The conclusion for that is no...I am not denying the difficulties in which I grew up, but in a more psychological-spiritual manner I am in peace with my life, understanding that from a higher point of view everything that happened in my experience was a present that keeps attracting amazing people and circumstances in my life, and elevating me to the powerful energy of gratitude and understanding. 

My past steer on people I have only met a degree of trust and it continue to open many doors, the most important being the door of my heart. 

Thank you, Mother

You are the strongest person I've ever met.

RESPECT | LOVE | LIGHT 

 

Women that I admire:

Juliana big sis! Professor, feminist, activist, animal lover, french speaker (self taught) and intellectual. Björk looks just like her but older and less intereasting. :)

Maki middle sis, Beauty therapist, impeccable discipline, crossfit addict, funny, forgiving, loyal and loving.

Kaori: Little sis, past company 'sales person of the month' for many months during the years she stayed in, currently company 'sales person of the month' (I am serious) Mother of my favourite girl in the world! fierce, independent, confident, fun!

I love you all 

Daniela, 

Namaste

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How to plan a ski and yoga retreat

Daniela da Silva1 comment



Dad and I...

To all the yoga teachers planning to add some extra activities to their retreats, holiday makers, yogis and skiers this article might be helpful when planning to try out the combination of these two modalities.

 

Namaste, 

Daniela

"When the idea of having a yoga retreat blended with skiing and winter activities first came to me I jumped in the concept as the combination seemed so obvious: the yoga helping with warming up and cooling down, promoting balance and coordination, and the thin air altitude would have less impact on lung capacity as a result of pranayama sessions (breathing techniques) the visualisation/ meditation improving the performance outdoors regardless of the skier/ yoga practitioner level an so on. 

Although all that held true there were a few points that could be considered before getting your ski boots and leggings on. I am now overlooking Mont Blanc contemplating the closing of our cycle. The second group who attended the retreat are out and about skiing together, and our chalet oscillates between stillness and vibrant energy that fill the atmosphere after (or après) skiing. My initial anxiety hosting a retreat like this, is giving space to a premature nostalgic feeling. In every retreat one learn more than teach and in Chamonix, it was no exception. Bellow is some of what I’ve been taught, apart from skiing."

Tip number 1: Skiers will skip lunch!

If you are planning a ski and yoga retreat,is wise to make all the participants aware that is unpractical to descend the mountain to have lunch. Although there are restaurants open in the slopes a baguette can range from 5€ to 10€. As the organiser you can prepare a sandwich as an alternative or give the participants free access to use the kitchen facilities, but with this in mind comes the next suggestion.

Ann having a little break in a coffee shop at the slopes.

Tip number 2: Encourage the skiers to take responsibility for their timetable!

If and when staying in a hotel for example, the kitchen closes at certain time, in this case if the breakfast finishes at 11AM one cannot expect to eat at noon for instance, included or not. One of the benefits of sharing a house at a yoga retreat is that this problem can be negotiated and the participants can benefit from its flexibility, however work out expectations. When offering free access to the kitchen its advisable to set simple rules, ask yourself again what is included: breakfast only or hot beverages throughout the day? Are you offering 3 meals, or can the participants help themselves for extra snacks, sandwiches, tea, coffee etc? It’s critical to have the rules established from the start of your retreat as once a habit is formed it is difficult to break it. If the participants decide to eat at a different time or eat out its absolutely fine, as long as they understand that this way they must consider the group’s need and pre-set program versus individual plans. Make clear not only ‘what’ is included, but ‘at which time” it will be available.

Tip number 3: The yogi diet vs. the skier eating habits!

Yoga retreats are well known for its light food. Skiers like to indulge sometimes into rich wine, chocolate and cheese. Maybe open one exception to celebrate the local culture. A fondue night for example is a nice way to bond, and as Oscar Wilde once said: Everything in moderation, including moderation.

Thank you Alice for showing me the fondue way!   

Tip number 4: For beginners, book a private group lesson!

If one participant never skied before or want to refresh their skills, there are cheap options to kick-start their practice. A 4 hour group lesson cost roughly 50€ per person and its enough to create a solid foundation for the rest of the week (surely, individuality must be considered, but generally speaking the group lesson is extremely effective). I am a Brazilian born, beach lover and never skied before, however on my second group I was already able to be helpful in the slopes.

A little play before  our hour 4 hour class start. I am the beginner, Audra is the StarPupil!

Tip number 5: Beware of the fundamental differences and psychics of each activity!

Ski is an amazing sport. But it is unapologetic demanding. It requires from you! One must to be focused, centred and connected with the mountain. A distraction and you will fall. Skiing is the opposite of forgiving; it asks your all, your undivided attention. In each turn it tests your courage and control, in each fall it defies your commitment.

But it also gives back…it races your heart on the way down fulfilling it with adrenaline, it teaches you the best drishti (yogic gaze technic to develop concentration) ever, as you will undoubtedly end up in the direction that you are looking at – What an amazing metaphor! - Once you are on the top of the mountains you will experience stillness, it is magic: a truly spiritual experience. But it’s also exhaustive and competitive! The exhaustion plus adrenaline combined with hunger can cause impatience, hence keep the evening class as 'restorative' and the dinner a little heavier than usual. 

 

No spa for Jenny today, all day skiing on her own instead! Go girl! 

Yoga is not a sport. Yoga is yoga…it adapts to your moods, body shape, energy levels; it becomes the best friend and confidant for anyone who decide to give it a goal, and if you abandon it takes you back at anytime, no formalities required. Overtime whatever we focus on, will manifest in parts of ourselves. So, when planning a Ski & Yoga retreat, design a program that will embrace and nurture each participant, in a way that one can learn with each other creating union and shared interest. Examples: put emphasis in poses that will have a positive impact skiing, for example, Utkatasana, explaining benefits throughout your class to captivate the skier’s attention. At the top of the mountain suggest the group to ‘move with their breath’ and to dedicate that slope to someone or something, just like at the beginning of a yoga class we put through our intention, if they fall, they stand up again making the effort a yogic metaphor.

 Adele is a London Boss-Lady also yoga teacher, headstand fanatical and ski and macaroons lover! 

Tip number 6: The altitude has influence on people’s mood!

All previous Blue House Yoga retreats (except for our first writing yoga retreat, in Somerset) had taken place by the sea. According to recent research from the European Centre for Environment and Human Health in Truro, Cornwall, even stroll along the beach is enough to boost emotional health. The water represents emotions of purity and fertility. Symbolically, it is often viewed as the source of life itself. In Taoist tradition, water is considered an aspect of wisdom. This combined with yoga and good weather translated into not having the need of a formal studio for example and constant relaxation by the pool or gathering at the beach. It was almost as if the sea was the host of the retreats, leaving little work for the organisers.

In the altitude, a different pattern could be noticed. The monumental mountains surrounding us, as the cold weather invited each of the participants for introspection. The earth is a masculine energy (Yang) that controls the water (emotions/Yin) and although the plains and valleys are a feminine expression (Yin) the hills and mountains are the Yang (masculine)

The masculine energy represents practicality, responsibility, seriousness and conservatism, and can also manifest in the body as a rigidity, or inflexibility, stagnating and openness to worry. So beware that teaching in this kind of energy requires from the organiser/ yoga teacher to be more grounded than usual. 

 

Coffee break is also an opportunity to flex that lower back! :)

In conclusion the final considerations do not mean that the beach is better than the mountains! Such assumption would be an absurd. Never before an environment taught me so much. I am coming back now every season as I am in love with it. It awakened on me dormant sides in my personality. For me it was the representation of the high consciousness (water represents the subconscious), to be alert, assertive exploring the selves on me that have been denied or neglected as I did not feel that I needed, but they are now active and we are in good terms. We need all spectrums of our personalities to create balance. 

Gabby is a journalist, yoga teacher and avid skier, she shared her experience in the slopes and also in a warming morning yoga class.

And to offer contrast, the beauty of life is worth to mention that Alma, one of the SkYogi who attended in the first week feels the different: ‘I feel free and happy in the mountains, open, expanded and connected with myself as with the surroundings’. So my conclusion is that all comes to equilibrium when closing the gaps between what is familiar and what is different, masculine and feminine, reclusive and wide open, mountain or sea, competitive or laid back. Every trip (metaphorically and literally) gives us the opportunity to explore our inherited desire to accept and nurture all our sides. When I visited a Brazilian Shaman he told me that I was Iemanja’s daughter (African-Brazilian Water Deity) and it is very good to be swimming at my moms womb absorbing her sensuality and playfulness, but now looking at the solid, large elevation emerging strongly from inside the Earth I meditate into what the mountain represents to me: A father, who will be the mirror not for my limitations but for what I am capable of. What the mountain embodies to me is the action of climbing in order to be rewarded. The successes accomplished with perseverance, keeping in mind that even the highest of the mountains, are subject to the action of the rivers and sea. But this is a natural agreement in life. Listen to your heart and until next season! 

Alma, a innovation manager based in London but born in Greece feels most free and connected being high up in the mountains..

Namaste,

Cintia

Although I’ve never skied before, Yoga gave me a strong base to find perseverance and balance. Join us for the next season for a week of Sky and Yoga in Chamonix. Reservation at www.bluehouseyoga.co.uk

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A message to all teenager's mothers

Daniela da Silva

Suddenly your baby has turned into a teenager, and you are now brutally dismissed losing ground to friends and technology, you feel your heart crushed because your invitations to do something together are followed by rolled eyes and- I do not want, it is annoying…I have other plans…

You are then hurt, because after years of dedication to your child, you are not sure if you have done enough.

One day you wake up and feel judged: “The daughter is rebellious because she never had limits… or, kids are the reflection of their parents…the mother must have failed somewhere during her daughter's childhood…

Then you blame yourself too: "I did not know how to be a good mother; "My child is just like me, I failed.

In the past, all sacrifices (that are now classified as selfish mistakes) seemed to really be creating some kind of safety, you probably found yourself overworking so the child could contemplate a bright future! with less suffering and a better life than his parents, with less anxiety and sadness than you, with more possibilities than you had.

But it turns out that your child is doing the opposite of what you dreamed and planned.
And overnight you feel like you are looking at a different child; with a different body, using different vocabulary, and displaying different attitudes.

It seems like all your love, efforts, dedication, care or sleepless nights were not enough to make your child the person that society wants her to be.

And, secretly, you admit that your child has not become the person you would like her to be either…’It must be a phase’, you think. And that thought calms you down for awhile until you child start to make illogical demands, or until you get a call from school for the third time in a week saying that your child has been disrespectful and must be collected, or you find evidences that your loved daughter is lying and bursting with rage every time that you try to find a rational explanation, banging doors to leave without consent, to some place you don't know...all in contrast with the thousands pictures of amazing parents posting how proud they are of their incredible teenage kids who have just being accepted at Harvard University!

And again the little voice in your head keeps reminding you that maybe this is a reflection of your skills as a mother. You go over a series of things you have read and need to practice: You have to be patient, you can't shout, you need to give them privacy, you need to trust them, you have to give love and that will be enough, you need to pray more, you need to adjust your lifestyle... and so on. Then you feel as if you have bomb in the place of your heart, and keep walking in eggshells, careful to not explode.

Until the day that you do!

Then you place your head over your hands and cry. Or perhaps you cry every day hidden.

And you pray, meditate, beg and bargain with God, Buddha, Krishna every day for a miracle just for the next day, the cycle of guilt, fear, frustration and solitude begin again. Deep down you feel lonely with no one to talk, as people have their own lives and it's also hard to listen to "do this or that” advices and feel that everyone knows the answer apart from you. 

You look inwards trying to hold on to this unconditional love and wisdom that all mothers naturally posses right? The six sense that will pop up to make things ok…the strength that all women were born with…and you find none…then you conclude that the problem must be you indeed.

I suspect my fellow mothers of teens, that they made us believe in a world that does not exist and today we are trying to fit in, suffering and torn inside, struggling not to be the crazy mother who screams at the child, or the permissive mother who has spoiled the son, or the controlling mother who suffocated their kids and so on…

Today I want all the mothers in the world to receive my love and empathy, I write almost to convince myself… It’s Saturday night and I was suppose to be out celebrating a good friend’s birthday, but my frustration compels me to write my feelings not only to understand my own chaos, but to perhaps help any other mother who has ever felt like they have not done enough.

Read with attention this message: I want you to know that you did the best you could and that you only got so far by doing your best. I want you to know that if you for any reason do not did what you were ‘suppose to do’, it's because you certainly did not know how to, after all, children are not born with a 'owner’s manual'. I want to tell you that life is not a cereal advert, therefore do not believe the pictures you see.

These photos show a stage and I assure you that the behind the scenes it is very different. I want to tell you that maybe your life has not been easy. Perhaps you have lacked love of mother, father, lacked healthy family relationships, and this generated emptiness that is still in the process of being healed and filled.

Maybe your life so far has not happened as you dreamed and you suffered with a separation, with a loss, with a problem in the family and this has caused you and your child deep marks that were out of your control. I want to tell you that tiredness leads to actions that we do not want. And that you can read, go to therapy or meditate as much you wish, but this will not provide you with total balance when your child is acting in a way that you can’t recognise.

Have you ever learned to swallow tears or not to show feelings? then how to expect to know precisely how deal with the feelings of a teenager?

I want to tell you that your cry (the one you hold and the one you loose) wants to show you that you need to stop and look at you. That you need to stop blaming yourself, hiding yourself thinking you're the only mother in the entire universe who made a mistake with your child. I also want to tell you that you need to stop defending yourself and saying that you do not need help. You do, I do.

I want to tell you that people who judge you are also injured in some part of their lives. And that is not personal, we are all trying to survive this new society, in the information age, seeking for approval, but it is an illusion to want to be part of society that do not even exist.

If second experts, we are moving into a generation of the saddest teens in modern history, it cannot be only you, a single mother,the responsible for the whole picture.

The world of "make believe" creates comparisons, and it is dangerous. Don't always believe in the carefully projected and painfully protected 'better lives' that you see.

Take on your difficulties, connect with your truth of love, hope and faith. Despite all your doubts and uncertainties remember you are the best mother your child could have wished for, and the best person to guide and to love them. We are all love, but at some point we forget it and we enter the path of fear. There is no shame in love. There is no room for doubt in love. Your child is also love, no matter how much they do not seem to be today, they are. 

Today I invite you to look at your adolescence as a gift. Maybe this gift has been wrapped in "trouble" and you do not know how to unwrap it, but I assume that when you learn to face it and develop tools to deal with the daily obstacles, the reward will be worth it. It has to.

In many Brazilian native tribes adolescence is considered a new birth. A new child and a new mother. A mother who is more mature, with scars, is also born, and when this mother become aware of the power she is about to gain through life experience, she will regain the confidence to do what needs to be done. We become 'matriarchs' that beautiful older yet ageless wise women sat at the end of the table who advises and inspires so much dignity and atemporal strength.



Logically, if it's a new birth, it's time for you to learn to be a teenager's mother. And there's nothing wrong with that, in fact, anyone who believes they know everything loses the opportunity to reinvent themselves.

If you child seems to be temporary rejecting your love, then my advice would be love anyway, and love yourself: Take a long shower, practice some yoga, eat some chocolate, watch a comedy. The wonderful thing about life is that every day we get a chance to start over and it's always time to rewrite our stories. If you've read this far, I want to thank you. I'm also a ‘newborn’. I'm often scared and I feel guilty. Most of the time I do not know what to do with my life and specially with my daughter, in such moments I often write. I don’t like feeling vulnerable (actually I hate it with passion), I often get disheartened and I have the tendency to get wrapped up on my own dramas.

My life is not perfect and looking at my social media you might be tempted to believe that it is. But this is a stage, remember? My backstage is not always so glamorous and accepting, however it was precisely during my 'unregistered' moments that I had the opportunity to thrive and to become stronger, more aware and eventually able to surrender to happiness, never taking it for granted every time it knocks my door. I’ve been told before that I don’t look old enough to have a nearly 15 year old daughter, but I AM, and certainly feel my years most of the time….Finally, although I mentioned that I don’t like feeling vulnerable, when I finally allow myself to reach out help arrives, from the right person, book, article, movie, music, activity, at the right time, but specially from me to myself, or God, when I accept myself as part of something greater than my experience.

You are stronger than you think, a warrior, beautiful, powerful, hardworking and loving and if today is hard to see it, start again. One day at a time, one step at a time. But do not give up.

Namaste, 

Daniela

 

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