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Leura
Australia

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Blog

Don't Overtense, Don't Overstretch, Don't Overbreathe (Part II)

Veronika Polaskova

 
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This is the second article from this series and this time I would like to share with you a little bit more on why not to overbreathe in our yoga practice. If you haven't seen the first one about why not to overtense our bodies, you can find it here:-)

While we often try to keep the focus on our breath in a yoga class to steady our mind, it is best to keep the breath as natural as possible instead of forcing it to be anything else. There’s already so much happening in our yoga practice to pay attention to (like the body alignment, if we don’t create too much tension, listening to the instructions of the teacher etc.) that adding another element is often too much and may sacrifice other areas of our practice. One of my teachers, Simon Borg-Olivier, is a big advocate of keeping the breath natural throughout our yoga (asana) practice and working on the breath separately in pranayama (breathing exercices). Only when we have a solid asana and pranayama practice separately, then it may be time to join both together.

There is another pretty valid reason though why it is best not to alter the natural breath in our practice, and the reason is that most people when they do so, they overbreathe. This can lead to a fair bit of discomfort, like feeling dizzy, nauseous, but also leading to a headache or feeling emotionally imbalanced. Let me explain how overbreathing in class happens (and it is not only in those hard poses and sequences but generally throughout the whole class). An average adult takes 12-16 normal breaths per minute when relaxed. During that minute we also exchange an average of 6-8 litres of air. If we let’s say take an adult who takes 12 breaths per minute, it will mean that in each breath he/she will take in 0.5 litre of air (6 litres divided by 12 breaths). This also means, that he/she will fill the lungs only by 1/10 of its capacity in each breath in (YES, only 1/10), as the average lung capacity is 5 litres. Have you ever noticed when you are calm, that the breaths in and out are very minimal? You can even try it now. Take a natural breath in, pause and see if you can breathe in more…and usually we can breathe in quite a lot more. Try another thing…take a natural breath in and a natural breath out and pause..and then see if you can breathe out more…and usually we can breathe out still quite a big volume of air using muscles of forceful exhalation (intercostals and abdominal muscles).

What happens in a yoga class, with all the instructions of Ujjayi (yogic) breathing and instructing inhale/exhale before every pose/movement, is that we often have the tendency to take a big breath in and a big forceful breath out. And yes I hear you, we move so we need to breathe more and it is something that naturally happens and it is totally fine that the breath changes with the intensity of the practice…what I am trying to point out here though is that many times in yoga classes students are instructed to take long deep breaths and force the breath even in poses/movements where natural breath would be comfortable.

But let’s get back…If we were taking complete inhalations and exhalations in our practice, we would exchange the total of 5 litres x 12 breaths = 60 litres of air per minute which is 10 times more than normal. So can you see how easy it is to overbreathe in a class? Contrary to what one would believe, the more we breathe (and I mean when we change the breath consciously and take big breaths in and out, instead of when the breath changes naturally with the intensity of the exercise), the less air gets into the brain, lungs and tissues due to how the human body responds to excess breathing.

Overbreathing (hyperventilation) has one good effect on the body which is it makes it temporarily alkaline. This is good for the practice as when the body is alkaline the synovial fluid around joints and in between fascia and muscles gets less viscous (more runny) and allows these structure to move with less friction and the body feels less tense and more flexible (alkalinity of the body can be also achieved by eating more natural foods and a vegetarian diet, compared to eating foods derived from animals and eating processed foods). There’s a catch though…by making the body temporarily alkaline, it has a tendency to always balance itself out and if the body becomes too alkaline all of the sudden, we may feel a huge amount of great energy but we may also feel very hungry. And guess what the body will crave…it will be more acidic foods. Has it ever happened to you that you went to do some intense yoga class or any kind of intense exercice and after the class you were so hungry that you bought and ate something which was maybe not the healthiest option? Now you know that when the body is alkaline it doesn’t usually crave alkaline foods, like a nice veggie salad unless you eat this way all the time.

My teacher says that after a good practice you should feel good, relaxed and energized (but not overexcited), and not exhausted or hungry. The practice itself should be very nourishing for the body, as well as the mind, so you should actually feel less hungry after a good yoga practice.

Maybe you can try to keep your breath more natural in your next few practices and notice any difference after the practice in how you are feeling and your energy levels. Remember everything is a process and it all doesn’t have to happen in one class…as always, awareness is the key and the first step…being aware of how we breathe in our practice and being able to maybe slow down and soften just a little bit is a good way to start :-)

The gift of their trust, inspiration, help and their love...

Veronika Polaskova

 
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“Some people arrive only when we reach a crossroads within ourselves, when decisions have to be made, when change is inevitable, but we lack the courage to embrace it. They touch a part of us so deeply that it changes the entire direction of our life, and that exhilarating feeling of love we feel with them, is enough to guide us and give us the strength to take the right road, even if it’s on our own.” Beautiful words by Mimi Novic 💜

I believe we all have so much strength within us to go after things we dream of but sometimes being around someone who inspires us, gives us so much more courage to trust ourselves and go where our heart is leading us, even when we know the road may not be easy…and for that I am grateful to everyone who has touched my life in some way 🙏💛

I find the beauty of life is in constant sharing…whatever we achieve, wherever we find ourselves in each moment is so many times a result of our interaction with other beings…their gift of their trust, inspiration, help and their love towards us. In the same way, I hope, we can aim to be beautiful beings, living genuinely according to our values and share the same gift of our trust, inspiration, help and love towards other people ❤…being selfless and making a difference where we can is the true achievement in our lives

Look inside for the beauty we all carry within...

Veronika Polaskova

 
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The mountains never disappoint…never the same and always so beautiful…💚 I am so super grateful to live here among the gum trees and share my life with these amazing giants 😊🌳🌄

Watching the sun set today, I wondered how life would be different if we were able to see each other in such awe as when we watch the nature to do its thing…the sun rising, the fern leaves unfolding, the smell of petrichor after rain, the sound of black cockatoos floating on sunrays…I wondered how life would be different if we stopped passing each other and took time to look inside for the beauty we all carry within…to be really there with another person, to laugh with them, to cry with them, to listen to their story with passion, to hug them tightly and to love them dearly…💜

You Are Enough...

Veronika Polaskova

 
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Last week a message/thought appeared to me a few times…”you are enough”…and it filled me with so much calmness, peace and happiness because I realized I was really enough…it’s beautiful when we allow ourselves to go within and to tap into that place of inner wisdom and acceptance and know we are whole and perfect as we are…it has a beautiful ripple effect too…when we are enough for ourselves, we are for others too…we may not connect with everyone who crosses our path, but it is more likely we will create some beautiful soulful connections when we are ourselves…being authentic needs courage, especially in the world where we feel we need to prove ourselves again and again…where we may feel the urge to become someone else to feel unique, interesting, lovable…

There’s a few people I’ve met in my life who seemed really comfortable in who they were and it was always so beautiful and inspiring to be around their embracing loving energy…their inner star was shining bright miles beyond the horizon and their big smile, the genuine laughter could fill many spaces beyond this world…they were not necessarily people who had the most amazing fit bodies, who had everything figured in life, who achieved some great things, who didn't feel confused at times…yet being themselves, their lives seemed to be filled with so much more light…love, meaning, happiness and fulfilment.

I hope we can all cherish ourselves, our uniqueness a bit more...because the more sincere and loving we are towards ourselves, the more sincerity we find around us too…💛🙏

Trust Life a Bit More...

Veronika Polaskova

 
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We can dream about a million of things and create a “master plan” how we will help the dreams to unfold but life doesn’t always like to follow a plan…it seems it likes to choose its own way…and many times it may be for our own good, even if it may not always feel that way…

Last night I looked at what I wrote at the beginning of the year about what I wanted to experience, achieve, how I would like to feel and you know all these amazing things when you put them down on a piece of paper, they become this pact between you and your future you, the “promise” that it will all happen that way…when I was working through the workbook “My Shining Year 2018” by Leonie Dawson in January, one of the questions was, “What do you most want to experience 2018 as?” And I wrote down, “As a year of grace - ease and lightness.” To feel like I am flowing with life, that I find it easy to tune in, that I am true and compassionate to myself and I feel kind, loving and generous towards experiences and people I meet on my path. Well, to make it short, the last few months didn’t really seem that graceful and easy…I still hope I have been a kind and loving person but I didn’t feel light in my decisions and I missed a lot of energy for things I wanted to do…

And while it hasn’t been a flowing journey all the time last few months, maybe life was just offering me a more genuine and wholesome experience…maybe it was a gift from life in the end, showing me what I really needed so that I could grow as a person…I thought I needed lightness and ease but maybe I needed to learn to be more resilient and more flexible first 🙏

So whenever you feel that life doesn’t follow the path you want to walk, it may just be that it has taken you onto a side path for a while so that you can gain new "skills", learn something new...it doesn't mean you can't achieve your dreams, everything has its right time and it might be easier now...

I think in the end we just need to trust life a bit more that it will look after us and take us where we need to be 💛

When Life Is Brilliant the Way It Is

Veronika Polaskova

 
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Flying above the clouds…enjoying this moment of freedom…and the fresh mountain air mixed with the warmth of first sunrays…just to take off into the magic land of play and smiles and laughs...💜

The moment when life is enough…when life is brilliant the way it is…when little things are big things…when life is simple and blissful…when time disappears and you catch yourself laughing with a friend forever…aren’t these the most beautiful treasures in our lives? Sometimes we THINK we want more but maybe there’s so much beauty and life around us that really what we need is to just stop and see it…🌼🌿🍂🌌

New Vinyasa Flow Yoga Class in Blackheath...YAY :-)

Veronika Polaskova

 
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NEW VINYASA FLOW YOGA CLASS starting in Blackheath on Saturdays 9-10am…less than 2 weeks to go...YAY 😀😍🙃

From the 2nd of June, I’ll be teaching in this gorgeous yoga room at the Blackheath Fitness Centre (16-24 Prince George St, Blackheath)…I am so happy and grateful to find out about this beautiful, cute, intimate, light and warm yoga space, I can’t believe I didn’t know about this gem! 💖...and I am even more excited to start teaching there…it’s been some time since I taughta Saturday morning class and it makes me really happy that I can reopen it in this lovely space. The class is $20 for a casual visit and $170 for a 10 class
pass (i.e. $17 per class).

So if you have Saturdays off, come to treat yourself with a beautiful, strong and fun yoga sesh, and start your weekend full of great energy and smiling 😊…plus brekkie always tastes better after a yoga class, I promise 😉…looking forward to seeing you there if you can make it…and if not, check the Blackheath Fitness Centre timetable, there are some other beautiful yoga teachers teaching there, something for everyone for sure ❤ xxx, Vercha

Come to play... :-)

Veronika Polaskova

 
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Yes, I hear yah! It’s cold and dark and it’s just so nice to stay at home with a warm tea and snuggle under a blanket 😊 But do you still remember that amazing feeling after finishing a yoga class…? 🙌 The feeling that life is wonderful and you feel full of love and energy and that you don’t need anything because everything is perfect? Come to play in a beautiful dynamic Vinyasa flow yoga class to challenge yourself and open through your body, leaving the class “floating”, smiling and happy 😊 Plus how much easier is it to practice in class with other “suffering” human beings instead of staying at home and trying to resist all the distractions?…did I say suffering? No, I didn’t… 😉 You’ll have a fun time, I promise 😎 It’s easier than you think…just get yourself to a class and you definitely won’t leave when you get there…it’s really about just getting there ❤ Namaste beautiful beings ☮💜☯

(the photo is from the archive a few years back - I still have that beanie, unless Nico (our 2 year old cheeky lab 🐶) has stolen and eaten it…and there’s still a bit of craziness and playfulness in my life because hey, life is too short and to be lived, not to be waited for 😊)

A home of love...

Veronika Polaskova

 
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Watching dolphins playing in the distance with my forever-puppy-like Nico while the sun is rising to welcome a new day and we are in awe how much life can be squeezed in this silent moment…the salty breeze, the playful waves, the golden sunrays, the curious visitors from the bird world stepping closer and closer to check the two new giants on the beach…a beautiful moment, tiny and big at the same time…hearing the breath of Nico I remember words by Ram Dass, “We’re all just walking each other home.”

We can travel to millions of places, we can run away again and again but if we don’t find the path back home, to ourselves, we will still feel like strangers in this world…our furry friends have this beautiful ability to walk us home quite often…they’re really Earth angels, how a beautiful friend of mine Erin would call them…and I sit here and am grateful to have two of those Earth angels in my life to help me find myself again and again when I get lost…there’s so many crossroads and paths to take in life with never knowing where they will lead us…and it’s nice from time to time to find ourselves on the path back to ourselves…a home of love, understanding, caring and acceptance…very much cherish those moments…❤️

Playtime tomorrow morning... :-)

Veronika Polaskova

 
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Playtime tomorrow morning at Fairmont Resort 🙏…covering a yoga class for the beautiful Jill who is away and then again teaching my regular class on Sunday…both at 8am 😊…come to play, tune in, reconnect and fill your body and mind with sunshine…looking forward to seeing you there 🌞

Maybe we just need to give life a bit of slack...

Veronika Polaskova

 
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When I was waiting for my students to come to class on Wednesday night, I noticed Tibetan-Prayer-like flags hanging in the Blue Spirit yoga studio…I remembered I had noticed them and read them before but I guess as it is with everything that stays unchanged, both in our outer and inner world, those things are hard to notice/appreciate again and again…only when things suddenly or profoundly change, when something becomes new, when we gain or lose something, we notice it…and I thought what a human predicament that we often see the things we don’t have, instead of appreciating what we already have, what has been there the whole time…and especially in our inner world...

We often strive to become somebody else, and it’s natural to keep wanting to grow and evolve but it is also so important to appreciate who we have become and who we are right now…the truth and beauty of life is we will all be shaped and moulded by the experiences we go through in our lives (by the natural process of life itself) and hopefully we will become beautiful pieces of “life art” if we are open and present and willing to learn…maybe, instead of trying so hard all the time, we just need to give life a bit of slack and trust it will throw our way experiences we need to gain more understanding, compassion and acceptance for ourselves and life in general 🙏🌸💜

Here are some beautiful words to maybe reflect on on a rainy day in the Blue Mountains, from the Tibetan-Prayer-like flags hanging in the Blue Spirit yoga studio 🌸 TRANQUILITY - the peace that comes when energies are in harmony, relationships are in balance. HAPPINESS - when one’s spiritual needs are met by untroubled inner life. Happiness comes when your work and words are of benefit to yourself and others. COURAGE - not the absence of fear or despair, but the strength to conquer them. PEACE - to bring peace to the Earth, strive to make your own life peaceful. WISDOM - knowledge, intuition and experience combine to guide us in thought and deed. LOVE - an inspired form of giving, love breathes life into the heart and brings grace to the soul ❤ 

Living life fully...

Veronika Polaskova

 
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“Our journey is about being more deeply involved in life, yet less attached to it.” (by Ram Dass) What a beautiful piece of wisdom… 🙏 I took some time yesterday morning to think what this really meant to me (partly because I love thinking about ideas, explore them and elaborate on them but also partly because those few words resonated with me and reminded me not to rush through life so much as I have been lately)…for me, it’s those moments when we catch ourselves fully absorbed and joyful in what we do…when we are passionate about life, when we are full of playfulness and curiosity…when we feel so much gratefulness for the little wonders of life but at the same time when we are able to let go of what happened yesterday and start each day, or even each moment afresh…when we follow things we are passionate about but also when we are able to let go of whether we reach where we were aiming or whether we don’t…this is for me the meaning of living life fully… 😊being present to it all but also keeping a sense of freedom and peace by accepting life as it is, not attaching ourselves to how things will turn out (not that I would be really good in it, some days maybe better, some days maybe worse but it’s nice to be reminded of it from time to time 💜)...when we live our life being present, being fulfilled doing what we do, we don’t feel that often the urge to constantly keep chasing something else…because already the place where we are is meaningful to us…🌱🍁💚

Writing those few sentences, I caught myself smiling…and I thought, “How cool it is to be a part of this beautiful life!”…being able to keep learning, evolving, growing, exploring and meeting some amazing beautiful creatures on our path to be inspired by and share our experiences together. I hope we can all slow down a bit and find time to tune in and fill our lives with more meaning, joy and love…❤ 

New Vinyasa Yoga Class in Springwood

Veronika Polaskova

 
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Hi beautiful people,

NEW VINYASA YOGA CLASS starting in Springwood next Wednesday the 28th of February…can’t wait 😊💜

I am super excited to start teaching yoga classes at the new Jiu Jitsu place in Springwood (SJJA Jiu Jitsu Academy Blue Mountains, 3/7 Scrivener Ln, Springwood) run by a beautiful friend of mine Doa 😊 It’s a nice quiet space and I am so looking forward to start teaching some beautiful yoga sessions there. I will be starting with one class per week on Wednesday mornings 10-11am with the possibility of opening more classes in the near future if there is enough interest. The cost of the yoga classes is $20 for a casual visit, $170 for a 10 class pass (i.e. $17 per class) and $15 for a membership (paid weekly). I would be thrilled to see you there 🙏…and you never know you may even sign up for a jiu jitsu class 😎 If you know of someone who lives in the area and might be interested, feel free to share this with them, that would be much appreciated. And if you have any questions, please send them my way, I will be happy to answer them. Have the most amazing weekend filled with some special time for yourself and living life to the fullest (whatever it may mean for you) – for me it will be a quiet time among the trees to recharge 🌳💛🌿Much love to you all, Vercha ❤ 

It really comes to how we decide to live this life...

Veronika Polaskova

 
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“The scent of sandalwood, jasmine and rosebay travels only as far as the wind, but the fragrance of virtue rises even to the Gods.” (from The Dammapada – The Way of the Buddha). I love this so much…there’s something really magical about virtue, purity, integrity…just being real…not only wishing to live a life in a conscious way but to really live it that way…to really take time to think about what we do, how we speak, what thoughts we have, what energy we carry, how those things impact the world around us…and maybe even the world further away…we are in no way perfect beings (if we were we probably would not be here living a human life)…“Man is not a being but only a becoming. Man is a process, a growth, a possibility, a potentiality. Man is not yet actual. Man has to be, he has yet to arrive. Man is born not as an essence but only as an existence…a great space where much can happen, or nothing may happen…it all depends on you.” (from the same book) 😊…we are not perfect beings but we have so much capacity to learn…to be more aware and become kinder, gentler, more graceful and more compassionate…it really comes to how we decide to live this life…I hope it’s in a kinder, gentler, more graceful and more loving way 💜

It's up to us to create something magical...

Veronika Polaskova

 
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After one my classes at the gorgeous Union Street Yoga, one of my beautiful students came to me and asked if I had done reiki or if I had some healing abilities…I guess because of the way I sometimes adjust people in Savasana 😊 Not only it was a beautiful compliment but it also reminded me that I wanted to do a reiki course two years ago…but then other things happened and last year was filled with so many beautiful experiences and events that I totally forgot about it.

Just last few days I have been on the lookout for things to make this year a bit special in some way but apart from a volunteering work at an elephant sanctuary 🐘 later this year if everything works out (fingers crossed), I don’t have many plans in terms of retreats, workshops, self-development etc. What a beautiful thing to be reminded about this reiki course…💛

I feel all the people in our lives can be guides to help us to follow a path of growth if we are open and present to the little signals…sometimes it feels like life is a big game and it’s up to us to see the pieces of puzzle to put them together and create something magical…so yeah, today I am grateful for all my beautiful yogi students and all people in my life because they have all guided me to a place where I am now and it’s a pretty special place 🙏 (P.S. this photo was taken at the Union Street Yoga garden 🌿☘, there is something really serene about it, so enjoying spending some time there before teaching classes :-))

Bring Your Whole Self to the Experience

Veronika Polaskova

 
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A few weeks ago I listened to another dharma talk by Jack Kornfield who was joined that day by Frank Ostaseski, an author of an incredible book “The Five Invitations” I am hoping to read this year (thank you for your recommendation Steve 🙏)…a book about life and death and what death can teach us about living fully. One of the invitations he mentioned in the talk was “Bring your whole Self to the experience”. It is something that has resonated with me quite deeply…maybe because it is something I would love to be able to do in each moment but at times it feels safer to hide my vulnerability…and not to embrace it and see the beauty of it.

We often hide our weaknesses in front of other people for different reasons…being scared of being judged, being scared of not being worthy of love…or disappointing someone who loves us for not being who they may think we are. But it is often when we are sincere and open and when we share our whole Self with others that makes us so much more beautiful. If we can cherish our weaknesses, they can become beautiful gifts and create paths for incredible connections with the world around us. I hope this year will be full of being comfortable in our own skin and just loving ourselves for who we are…embracing our weirdness and knowing that we are perfect and whole…and that we bring sunshine into this world as we are 🌱💜

Happy New Year + new class on Wednesday nights :-)

Veronika Polaskova

 
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Hi gorgeous yogis,

Happy New Year! Hope it is a really great one for you, may it be everything you want this year to be :-) And of course lots of yoga too...even 5 minutes of being mindful or selfless is yoga, it doesn't have to be necessarily stepping on your mat and doing your asana practice (physical poses) every morning, though I must say it can very much enhance our ability to be mindful, selfless and loving. And I will always love to see you in class 😊

All the classes are back in full swing since yesterday, with a new class on Wednesday nights 6-7pm in the gorgeous Blue Spirit Yoga studio. See the timetable below for all the classes.

Blue Mountains Classes

Tuesday 8-9am Blue Spirit Yoga Leura
Wednesday 6-7pm Blue Spirit Yoga Leura (NEW)
Friday 9-10am Blue Spirit Yoga Leura
Sunday 8-9am Fairmont Resort Leura

Sydney Classes
All at Union Street Yoga Erskineville

Tuesday 5:45-6:45pm
Wednesday 8-9am
Wednesday 10-11:30am
Thursday 5:45-6:45pm
Thursday 7-8:15pm

Can't wait to see you and to practice and play together 😊🙏💜

Thank you for an amazing year... :-)

Veronika Polaskova

 
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Hi beautiful people,

Here we are, second last day of this amazing year and it wouldn’t be the same if it was without the gorgeous souls hiding behind the smiling faces who come to my classes…YOU 😊 As one of my students said after one of my classes “thank you for turning up” (as a reply to me saying “thank you for coming to practice” 😁), I want to say thank you for turning up too! For being there on those sunny and rainy days, when you felt happy, sad, tired, injured and for always bringing your beautiful energy with you.

I say this probably every year but I feel so incredibly grateful to be able to share this beautiful practice of yoga with you…a big beautiful yogic family, each of us with our own unique story and our way to flow with life but still finding time to come together and share the space full of openness, love and just being and breathing 💜

I can’t wait to see you in a few days, the 7th of January, here we come! :-) …in the meantime enjoy the New Year’s Eve celebrations and may the year 2018 bring along everything you’ve been dreaming of :-) Much much much love…Vercha 🙏

"What is it that you seek?"

Veronika Polaskova

 
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“What is it that you seek? What makes you itch? I’m itchy for more…for more than what meets the eye. What is it that is beyond the physical? It bypasses the shell, the exterior…it’s a feeling, energy, light with no colour. It rejects preference, material, wealth and pieces of gold and silver. It’s my Soul recognising your Soul. An unspoken connection and we’re speaking the same language. It goes beyond the five senses. I seek this connection, not just in you, but in all, in the physical world, the world within and beyond. It’s a moment of clarity, a sense of inner peace and feeling content. Disconnection from the physical world. Time stands still and we are lost in this evolution, the intricate and delicate beauty of our surroundings, of what we call Earth. At one with the Universe and the Love that is so clear and present.” (by Chanelle Elana) 💛

How truly life-changing and beautiful experience it has been...

Veronika Polaskova

 
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Last week I was sitting in the studio at Union Street Yoga, before opening the door for the students to come in, and I felt this huge feeling of amazement and gratefulness…I was thinking how lucky I am that life had taken me on this yoga journey and how truly life-changing and beautiful experience it had been…If someone told me a few years ago that coming to a yoga class would totally change my life and bring so much more understanding, depth and richness into my life, I would probably say, “Really? A few stretches would do that?” ;-)

Often it is hard to fully share a personal experience in a way so that others can relate to it deeply. With many spiritual practices, it is really about trusting that something may unfold after years of practice with maybe a few signs here and there that we are on the right path…as we live in a world where we can often experience many things instantly or at least have a proof that something is working, it may not be always easy to stick to a practice which may not bring us that immediate sense of satisfaction…we may feel good after it but sometimes it may not be enough for us to keep going…

When I think about my own journey, I feel that meeting people along my path who have been practicing yoga and meditating for quite a few years and having the opportunity to talk to them and learn from them have been some of the most inspiring times in my life…the sense of ease, calmness, peace and joy that shines through them, the sincerity of their energy, the welcoming attitude to life, the acceptance of what is…it’s really a blessing to know a few of those people and have yoga and meditation in my life not only as beautiful practices but also as a path to more insight, compassion, wholeness and freedom… 💜☮🙏