Having troubles getting started in the morning?

As it officially became spring two weeks ago I was filled with new energy and a bright outlook on life. I was looking forward to the longer and brighter days. A couple of days went by and I suddenly found myself exhausted, I was so surprised when I realised this. I thought it would be a downhill ride from here, but yet again I found myself feeling tired to the bones. And once again I found myself scouting for the reason. It was first when I started to prepare for my Monday yin class (check out my schedule here if you would be interested in joining one yourself) that I found the answer in my notes - spring fatigue.

The technical explanation is the switch the body does between melatonin and serotonin. I take that. But I am looking for a cure in traditional Chinese medicine. A sick or sluggish Liver (in TCM the Liver has many more functions than the actual chemical function) brings chaos to the body, it creates stagnation and frustration. As the Liver energy influences all parts of the body, we know when something is off balance.

To help balance this out I have been eating a lot of green and sour foods as these are said to help the Liver Chi, think salads and fruits. I have also been stretching, compressing and twisting the Liver & Gallbladder meridians. If you would like to try some of the poses I have been doing I have included them here below.

Butterfly pose. Soles of the feet meet, round the spine and fold forward. Stay 1-5 minutes.

Butterfly pose. Soles of the feet meet, round the spine and fold forward. Stay 1-5 minutes.

Dragonfly pose. Spread the legs wide, round the spine and fold forward. Stay 1-5 minutes.

Dragonfly pose. Spread the legs wide, round the spine and fold forward. Stay 1-5 minutes.

Twist. Lay on your back, hug the knees into your chest, spread the arms wide and lower the legs down to the right side. Stay 1-5 minutes. Hug the knees back into the chest and lower the legs towards the left side. Stay equally long as you did on the right side.

Twist. Lay on your back, hug the knees into your chest, spread the arms wide and lower the legs down to the right side. Stay 1-5 minutes. Hug the knees back into the chest and lower the legs towards the left side. Stay equally long as you did on the right side.

3 kinds of yoga students

mild - the mild student stays within its comfort zone and gets few results

medium - this student gets average results

passionate - the passionate student puts tapas (fire or discipline) into its practice.

When discipline is there it will turn into love and when it has been internalised a flow of love will come. If you practice regularly it can be seen in the body as the body will start to fold itself after the practice.

Which student are you? Neither of them is better or worse than the other. As an example for the passionate student, passion without boundaries will overflow and possible burnout.

This can also be related to the three gunas (which indicates the inherent energy or tendency with which our mind functions).

Tamasic - the tendency of these people are dullness, or lethargy. So in finding something positive here I would say that there is a lot of rest going on here. But maybe little too much actually as it may lead to recklessness and negligence.

Sattvic - knowledge arises from Sattva, but these people usually attaches themselves to happiness. Duty-oriented

Rajasic - a lot of things get done by these people but they can easily get greedy. Rights or skill oriented.

No human is only one of these qualities. we have all three of them inside of us in different proportions

My no 1 tip to start your own self practice

Do you want to start your own self practice but do not know where to start or you just cannot imagine finding the energy and discipline to get it all going?

Just roll out the mat and chant three times. Set an intention and see what comes out of it. If nothing, then at least you put effort into it. Do not aim for that one hour long practice each day. Do not plan anything which you do not have the energy for to complete. Just sit down, pick an opening mantra and start there. And let me get you in on a small secret, usually this leads to more. Do not expect it to, or force it, just flow with it.

Love & light.

Shanti mantra

shanti mantra

Om sahana vavatu
(Om, may God protect both teacher and student)
Saha nau bhunaktu 
(May He nourish us together)
Saha viiryam karavaavahai
(May we work together with great energy)
Tejasvi nau-adhiitam-astu
(May our studying be effective)
Maa vidvissaavahai 
(May there be no hate among us)
Om shanti, shanti, shanti
(Om peace, peace, peace [in three forms – in me, nature and the divine forces])

This shanti mantra is often used as a prayer that is recited before studying as a way to honour the student/teacher relationships.

Easy tips to decrease fatigue

For many years I experienced a feeling of fatigue on most days. My instant reaction was that I was probably not getting enough sleep. So I tried sleeping more. I thought that maybe I was sleeping too much, so I started sleeping less. Maybe not exercising enough, maybe exercising too much. Do I get enough food on a daily basis? I tried it all but without much change in how I felt.

Fatigue is not a disease in itself, it is a symptom and a process of the body being worn down. One of the things being worn down is the nervous system, and this is something that happens when we are stressed. You burn out by constantly being in the sympathetic nervous system - the fight and flight response.

Let me paint you a picture. You wake up in the morning to a blaring alarm clock, rush into the shower trying to beat the clock by eating your breakfast at the same time as you are getting dressed. Already here you are burning that nervous system. After that you rush off to your job and spend your day in front of the computer, stress home, get to the gym, eat and first at nine in the evening you can start relaxing. Having had a good 12-14 hours of being in the stimulation based response.

Look up a softer alarm clock and set it a little earlier so you don’t have to rush. There’s time for moving slow and only doing one task at the time.

Find small time slots during the day where you can slow down and ‘turn off’ the fight & flight based response. Little moments where you can check in with yourself. Are you holding tension in your chest and shoulders? Are you breathing? When we get stressed we tend to hold our breath which leads to more tension and acidity in the body.

Is it possible for you to do something for yourself during lunch? A 20-minute walk, turning off the screen while eating your lunch.

At night taking a walk after dinner or another point of the day to give the body some time to transition from work mode into R&R mode. Switching the TV for a book those last minutes before bedtime, or at least switching the news/action movie to something less stimulating.

Stretching and breathing exercises just before or even in bed will do wonders for your sleep as we are relaxing the nervous system before attempting to fall asleep.

Now, the practice of yoga begins

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Atha - now
yoga - yoga
anusasanam - exposition or instruction

Let the practice of yoga begin - the first sutra in the book that is written by Patanjali. This sutra explains what the book is about. Patanjali is going to give us direct instructions on how to practice yoga, meaning that only philosophy will not satisfy us, without practice nothing can be achieved.

It is an invitation to come and live a deeply examined life and it is available to us all. It is an invitation to come and explore the universal truths and don’t wait any longer. It starts now. Atha.

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Love & light,
Johanna

Status update 7 weeks in

Oh dear, what a journey life is.

My base line is higher than before but I still (obviously) experience ups and downs. What I have noticed is the difference of the things that shake me a now compared to before. Previously it would be a situation where I did not perform perfectly and now it is more of a personal development kind of way. Digging through all that stuff under the surface, growing and evolving.

Last Sunday I though yoga for a group of enthusiastic event planners at the World Forum which was so much fun. And I am getting more and more busy with classes and fun stuff that is coming up.

Lunch inspiration

Working from home has now showed me some more challenges that I did not count on going into this new way of doing things. It’s food. In the office there is a clear time slot which is dedicated to lunch. Not saying that I always left my desk to eat my food away from my work, but I did have my lunch all days. Working from home this schedule has been, let’s say compromised. I enjoy all the things I do right now so much that I do not want to waste any time cooking for myself.

Previous I would bring a lunch box to work, no need to worry about what I would eat that day. Now I don’t have this lunch box ready and I have access to the pantry and fridge at anytime. But still, I do not get up and serve myself lunch. So, how do I solve this you ask. Let me tell you, it is quite a revolutionary idea. I will be going back to preparing lunch boxes again! Told you it was going to be amazing.

By having easy to warm up foods stocked in the fridge it wouldn’t feel like such a chore getting some nutrition into my body. So let me show you 2 simple lunch dishes that can easily be doubled up and stored in the fridge for the following days. Just click on the video below and I will guide you through some staples from PixiYoga HQ.

Let’s talk soon!
xx

Week no 4 - one step forward, two steps back

I started off this month filled with energy and all the best intentions - as one always does. I noticed that my energy started to decrease already last week, but that turned out to have very natural causes (spelled female cycle). I took a couple of days off and rested from my yoga practice as it is recommended and were so sure that my energy would return after the weekend.
It is now Friday and I still have not returned to my early January energy levels. It is time to start finding additional cures than only resting. Getting outside at least one hour a day, eating more and drinking more water. I have taken my vitamins on a daily basis since 1st January so at least I can rule that one out.

I took on the task of sorting out my closet as I have different needs these days. My eight suit jackets got to move towards the back and my growing collection of flow-y yoga inspired tanks and tops got the prime spot.

My mother and sister spent the weekend here in the Hague. Together we went to pick out a wedding dress for my upcoming wedding. Exciting and way more emotional than expected.

As you are reading thing hopefully I am picking up my lost yoga asana practice. Enjoying the last led primary series with my teacher Megan before she leaves for a month in Mysore.

Cheers for one step forward and two steps back.

Talk soon.

Morning routines

Hi friends,

I am so happy you have decided to take the time yet again to read some of my musings about what feels like random topics. Obviously they are not random in my head, they are all connected.

Anyways, with the new year, new me situation I obviously I wanted a new morning routine. Any routine at all now when I think about it since I would go from a 9 - 5 to a more freestyle kind of gig.

During last year’s yoga teacher training we were thought a set of kriyas to do before our asana practice which has laid a base to the morning routine that I am currently trying to implement. The thought is to start of with a steady base and then add on one new thing per week or month depending on how easy it was to keep it up.

I have made a short video of how I start my day which you can find below.

I dedicated a day a week to connect to my intuition

Many years ago now I bought an online course from Jess Lively dedicated to create values to live from in order to create a life lived from intention. I have started this course about two times every year since I purchased it without ever finalising it. There was so much resistance. I kept thinking that it was too hard, I could not tell the difference between my Ego and my Inner Voice etc etc.

This time I have really dedicated time to take on this course, I have set time a side so there cannot be any cheating - more sitting and feeling. I am trying on different approaches to get into contact with my Intuition to see which one fits better and then putting in the work .

It has paid off. I have made it further into the curse than I have ever done before. I have managed to find my Values for the four different categories that Jess suggests and they feel good.

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From here I am going to move through one category at the time to find the appropriate actions to express these values.

Since starting to actively listening downwards, rather than up in my head, I have made mental notes of when I have received some kind of message from my Inner Voice and if I decided to go with it or not - and what the result was. Many times my Inner Voice was correct and I could have avoided a lot of extra work if I had gone with the first hunch. As I keep collecting these mental notes I am building up a trust towards these advices, leaving me with a bigger sense of peace and stillness.

Talk soon.

Reaching JOY

Following up on my goal setting post I wanted to give an example of how I go about to actually reach my desired core feelings.

Let’s start with JOY.

I started with the exercises in Danielle LaPorte’s book and came up with a couple of desired core feelings. Joy was one of them. As a follow up I asked myself how can I feel more joy in my life.

I started with writing a list of 50 little things that makes me happy just to get an idea about where to start.

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Moving on and putting some of these into action. I used this planning matrix that I have once received from Strange & Charmed and it worked out great. What it does is it takes this one big intention and breaks it down in to smaller and more manageable steps so it does not feel so overwhelming.

Want to know more about my monthly planning routine and how I incorporate the life planning matrix? Follow this link to my latest planning video.

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What is your core desired feeling? And how are you going about it? Let me know.

Talk soon.

Week no 2 - I am a believer

The second week of the year and the second week of my new life. I wanted to give an update since even though one might think that there could not have been so much going on yet, I almost managed to ruin it all. Okay, that last bit might have been a slight exaggeration. But, I almost went back to my old routines by accepting a job offer that I did not want, but it was easier to say ‘yes’ than it was saying ‘no’.

The first week started off good, we were still in the holiday mood and all that was on my schedule was my own yoga practice. Such a sweet time to be alive. Then I got an offer on 4th to come in for six months to help out at an investment management and I responded ‘yes, no problem’. It felt like I needed to cry after that interview, my peaceful state of mind was gone and anxiety started to set in yet again. That weekend there was a new moon in Capricorn and I read somewhere that whatever you were manifesting during this moon would come back super strong throughout the year. I panicked, I want to teach yoga and not go back to the office.

I decided late that Sunday evening that I would call the recruiters back first thing Monday morning. All this agony because my automatic pattern is to please other people. I wanted to please the recruiter by being available for this company so he can look good. Obviously, some bit came from the scarcity of my own thinking that there is not enough money and I always need more. I imagined everyone getting super crossed with me for my indecisiveness and I was prepared for the worst when Monday came around.

I called all involved, and no-one got angry, no-one tried to shame me into complying. I was shocked. All that time I had spent during the weekend being anxious about the outcome was wasted time. I was so disappointed, but could also see the lesson here. There is no need to try to predict the future because it’s not going to end up like your worst nightmare anyways.

After I made these calls I have been flooded (okay, might be a slight exaggeration again) with offers for private clients, coming in for a month and substitute.

Thank you Universe, thank you for guiding me in the right direction.

Want to be a part of this magical journey? Come and see me again soon.

Love & light

Eating according to the season - winter

Your constitution, or your dosha is not stable, it can be affected by what we eat, what time of the day it is or the season. Each season is associated to a dosha. Kapha, which is cold and moist is associated to winter and early spring.

To stay balanced you would want to eat more of the foods that can help pacify the associated dosha (especially important when we are in the season of your primary dosha as the weather can increase the imbalance).

The imbalances we can face during winter are lethargy, weight gain, oversleeping, water retention and congestion. To balance this out focus on eating a lot of warming and light foods. For example cooked greens, berries and warming spices. Avoid excess carbs, sugar and dairy during this season as these are known to increase kapha.

To give you an idea of suitable foods in the winter I have created the below list. It is in now any ways a complete list, more to give you an idea of what is suitable for kapha season.

If you are interested in seeing what I eat during a day I have a video here.

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OM Shanti Shanti Shanti

OM Shanti Shanti Shanti - OM Peace Peace Peace

But OM what? The most likely explanation received from anyone using the sound would probably be ‘the sound of the universe’. But in all honesty that does not explain anything really. As with many spiritual things it is hard to define the meaning exactly, it has many meanings and layers.

Let’s start with the most tangible - the sound. OM is said by some to have three syllables, A-U-M, that could be referring to the three hindu gods Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva that would be representing creation, continuation and termination. The sound itself is said to calm the nervous system and aligning body, mind and spirit as it also has a vibrational quality to it. Let me dig in a little further.

A - is the representation of the beginning, the creation of the universe. In the Hindu tradition the sound is associated with Brahma, who is the creator. When chanting A, the sound starts in the belly and vibrates up into the chest.

U - this letter represents the steadiness and continuation, also associated with the Hindu god Vishnu the preserver. vibrating in the throat.

M - the final syllable represents the closing, connected to Shiva the Destroyer. The vibration moves up into the palate of the mouth.

Some say that there is a fourth sound - the silence which arises after the last syllable has been chanted and the sound has died out.

The different sounds can also be connected to the chakras, A representing the root chakra, U being connected to the heart chakra and M to the third chakra. The silence would the represent the crown chakra, which connects us to the universal consciousness. As the sounds are being chanted the attention moves through the four states of consciousness and up through the body.

Om is just not a sound that we make, it has many layers. A symbol and sound so rich in meaning and packed with symbolism which can also be connected to Christianity (Amen or the phrase ‘I am Alpha and Omega). But more on that in a later post.

Talk to you soon.
xx

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New Year & New Beginnings

I have been given a second chance to start a different lifestyle compared to the one I have been leading for the last 10 years. Mid-2018 I decided to quit my job in the financial industry to try my luck as a yoga teacher. After three months I got scared (and was offered a really nice short time deal) and took another job for three months.

But this calls for a total shift in so many different areas of my life and I found myself quite disoriented and lost. How was I supposed to move from all things I knew to something that I did not know how to do? With this question I went to my friend Google. Do you have that feeling sometimes Google knows exactly what you are looking for even before you have typed it into the bar? Anyways, Google directed me to Youtube and the plethora of videos on how to keep your New Year’s resolutions, how to set goals and ultimately to Danielle LaPorte’s book The Desire Map.

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And guess what? I actually already owned that book, I got it for Christmas last year (thank you mom!). I swept it up, put it in the centre of my attention, but then that job that I took and my other commitments got in the way of actually getting into it. I kept thinking ‘next weekend, next weekend’. But you know just as well as I know what happens, or does not happen.

But then came Christmas and the emergency of New Year’s eve, and let’s be honest, I’ve always worked a little better under some pressure.

This book made a really good point of changing the focus of goal setting from things or numerical achievements into a core desired feeling. Such a slight shift, but for me it made a whole lot of difference. Picking a feeling and from there derive the actions that needs to be taken. It felt peaceful and not so much like a heavy blanket on my shoulders.

Here are some of my favourite ones:
abundant, alive, at ease, certain, clear, connected, content, daring, devoted, energised, free, grace, inspired, joy, nourished, rested, sacred, seen, whole & wonder.

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Check out the video on YouTube I made to go with this post about setting goals and intention for the new year.

Talk soon
xxx

Preparing for the new year ahead

Earlier this year I decided to leave my corporate job to be able to discover something new. It all starts off quite ambitiously just to come crashing down after a week or so. I caved in when a consultant agency called and asked me to do a 3 month cover at one of the asset managers in Rotterdam. Easy money, short term and something I new how to do. The decision was easily made.

Now those three months has almost passed and once again I am preparing to leave ‘safety’ and once more try to find something else, but this time outside of the world of finance.

This weekend I am keeping busy with updating CVs, planning out workshops I want to offer this spring, and snazzying up pixiyoga.com

I will be keeping you updated on my Instagram with what is going on day to day in my preparations.