Updated: Jul 27
Listen to your body. It always speaks to you. Just listen…
Don’t you just love summertime ? No schedule, sunshine, space, time and freedom !!
Long summer days and balmy evenings…You take a deep sigh, and you can just start to let go a little… your shoulders drop down. You are giving yourself permission to just chill, relax and be. It is time to reconnect to yourself and your loved ones. Time to rest, replenish, recharge. It is an act of love for you and others.
HOLIDAY YOGA: In this photo, I was on holiday in Sweden, joining an outdoor yoga class on International Day. We were celebrating summer solstice and international yoga day so our hotel has organised an outdoor yoga session on the market square just outside the hotel. Fab !
DYNAMIC YOGA: At 8h25am, I finished a morning yoga class with our lovely teacher, Rose-Marie, and went downstairs with the intention of going to breakfast. However, when I saw the yoga set up outside, I was drawn into it and went straight out to join the class. 5 min later, here I was on the mat doing yoga alfresco, in the sun and to music. It felt so good ! Listening to beautiful songs, and seagulls in the background.
The class was conducted in Swedish which I don’t speak but yoga is an international language so it was fine. Breathing, moving altogether as a sangha and finally coming to stillness, feeling the sun and a light breeze on my face and body. Opening the eyes to lose myself in a bright blue sky, I felt happy and content. Ready for breakfast !! Ready for the day ! I was back later in the evening for the 7pm session, thinking it would be a mellow class but it was pure hot dynamite. Phew !!
Whilst on holiday in Sweden, I also joined a yin yoga class, chakra yoga and the 5 Tibetans. Classes were in Swedish(Ah, ah !!) and each teacher was different and brilliant. I loved them all !
I just finished teaching my summer classes. I love teaching and I love my students. A mix of dynamic, hatha, Somatics or relaxation yoga. It is all about giving so I know the importance of having to recharge. It is important for me to slow down, take my practice a little deeper so I can nurture myself but also come up with new fresh ideas for my upcoming classes and workshops.
It is a time to let the mind wander, explore, expand and refresh. I might read a new yoga book or do some study. I love my practice and usually I am on my mat every day doing breathwork, stretching, yoga, Somatics, mobility, strengthening work or something… I just love to move and be in my body. It feels so good, right ?
I recently had surgery and was told not to exercise for 6 weeks. Ouch, a real challenge for me !! I had to find ways to adapt. I am so grateful to have a yoga toolbox to use for every occasion.
PRE-SURGERY: BREATHE, MOVE, RELAX. I carried on with my usual practice pre-surgery right up to the morning before and ensured I was as fit and strong as possible. A few days before and on the day of the surgery, I started to feel anxious. I changed my practice to a Somatics practice and belly breathing to calm my whole nervous system down and relax. You can learn to control your breathing to calm things down and inform your body that all is well. Your body will then start to dial down the adrenaline and cortisol.
Patanjali, Indian sage and author of the Yoga Sutra, knew what science has now proven: controlled, deep breathing shifts our nervous system by activating the calming, regenerating, and relaxing response whilst lowering stress levels.
“Calm is retained by the controlled exhalation or retention of the breath” Yoga Sutra 1.34, Book 1
DAY OF SURGERY: BREATHE, REST, RELAX. I checked into the clinic. When the anaesthetic chap came into my room just before the op, he looked puzzled and said “you are the wrong way round”. I was upside down on my bed, feet on the pillows, head lower down, chilling. I was practicing a variation of legs up the wall, where you elevate your legs slightly. Soothing and restorative 😊
I had just done a yoga nidra session on my bed, chilling out. It is a form of guided meditation, that induces deep relaxation to let go, release stress and tension from within. Whilst the body goes to sleep, the mind stays alert yet relaxed with internal awareness. It is a conscious experience of dreamless, "yogic" sleep where you connect with the inner world and disconnects from the outer world. From this relaxed state, this gives the body the tools to heal, grow and repair.
POST SURGERY: BREATHE, MOVE, RELAX.
Day 1. I am longingly looking at my yoga mat, feeling all spaced out. Feeling all groggy and drugged up to my ears post-surgery. I did nothing on the first day. I felt nauseous, blotted, with a foggy head and was finding it difficult to breathe. My priority always is to re-establish a breath connection and find comfort and ease in my body.
So what did I do ?
I had a full anaesthetic and was given 15 pills to take daily, practically every hour. A blend of painkillers, antibiotics, and some others to counter the negative impact on your stomach but they came with their own side effects. I checked each pill, identifying their purpose and side effects on my mind and body.
Day 2. I am finding ways of reconnecting with my practice, and it feels fantastic.
It is essential to listen to medical advice. It is equally key to use your wisdom and do what is right for you. We are all individuals so listen to your body. The body speaks to you. Just listen…
It is all about balance. I decided to take painkillers if and when I needed them and focused on speeding my healing with delicious homemade nutritious food, homeopathy, nature, movement, breath and yoga. It worked for me.
No. 1. The Breath. First priority in the morning: I started doing Kapalabhati every morning. It is a cleansing and energising breathing practice also known as Skull Shining Breath. It clears your head, cleanses your respiratory system, improves circulation and stimulates digestion… I then practice Alternative nostril breathing to rebalance my nervous system and the Bees’ breath to clear and calm my mind. You can google those on you tube for further info and tutorials.
No. 2. Movement: A walk twice a day in nature in the sunshine and dancing slowly to gentle salsa, jazz or samba rhythms at home. I just love dancing. Movement is medicine and joy !
No. 3. Restorative yoga and belly breath in the afternoon, using all my props to make it a luxurious enjoyable healing experience during the first few days. You give your body a chance to recharge. Later in the week, some chair yoga and slowly moving towards my mat for some easy limbering up poses like lunges or cat cow. My aim is to release and mobilise the body.
Restorative yoga offers me something that nothing else can. It gives spaciousness. You wake up from it feeling rested, refreshed whole... More present. The props are there to support your whole body weight, allowing you to relax every part of your body till you start feeling layers after layers of tension just melting away from your skin, until you feel weightless.
As a result, your breath flows more freely and you let your body be breathed. A few moments later, you feel a sense of space and expansion as if you were a bird flying spreading your wings into the sky… and the relaxation gets deeper and deeper. Pure Bliss !!
As you relax deeper, you naturally breathe deeper in your belly activating your Vagus Nerve which plays a fundamental role in your overall health, parasympathetic nervous system and wellbeing...
It is deeply embedded in our autonomic nervous system and is one of the longest nerves travelling right through your chest and abdomen. It is so vital as it has direct links to our brain, heart, lungs, gut and all of our organs. Amazing, right ?
The body always wants to heal itself. As you allow your nervous system to calm down, you start to heal… And then of course, look for the good, have fun doing what you enjoy most. Everything is energy. I love cooking and eating delicious summer food: fruits, vegetables, savoury tarts, fish, colourful salads...
SOMATICS YOGA: Soon, when I am able to move more freely, I will go back to Somatics to tune into my body, listen, release tension and rebalance, recreate space and ease. A gentle soothing Somatics flow recreates space and freedom of movement, which truly feels amazing.
It is an invitation to become quieter and feel within your body, inviting you to come back “home”.
Small gentle movements allow me to reset my body, mind and nervous system. What is even better is that sense of nurturing, grounding and calmness that the practice offers. I love to take the time to reconnect, that sense of the body just letting go and returning to its natural state. I will then be ready to reintroduce a mindful fun practice on my mat with yoga somatics !
I am starting a new morning Wellbeing class in the autumn in Fordcombe, a blend of breathwork, yoga, somatics, pilates to feel good. All welcome ! Just get in touch...
For more info, benefits and testimonials on Yoga and Somatics, www.yogawithbelle.co.uk
Do you wish to learn more wellbeing tools ? Join me for group yoga somatics, online, indoors or outdoors classes in and around Tunbridge Wells. I also offer workshops. private events and one to one tuitions. Autumn courses on my website.