28.03.16 ALL ABOUT YOGA

” Yoga is not about touching your toes, it is what you learn  on the way down”  – Jigar Gor

Let me repeat: YOGA IS NOT ABOUT BEING ABLE TO TOUCH YOUR TOES!

Really, it isn’t. The first response people give, when I talk to them about yoga: ” Ooh I could never do that, I am not flexible enough. I can’t even touch my toes”. Why do people tend to have this obsession with the end result, if there even is an end result (I will discuss this later on). If your only focus is being able to touch your toes or to do a headstand, you will either never reach this ‘goal’ and stop practising, or with pure willpower achieve it and then think you are done.

No, please do not fall into this tunnel vision  mindset. Not just with yoga, but with other activities as well. Instead of focussing on that ultimate end goal, focus on the ongoing process, focus on the never-ending journey and it will not only changes the way you see and observe the world, but also changes your perception of yourself . With that comes that yoga isn’t about self-improvement, but above all about self-acceptance.

Self-acceptance is something I still struggle with every day, but by practising yoga over the last 2 years I have established a more forgiving and loving relationship with my body. When I first came to yoga in September of 2014, I expected it to be just another form of exercise. During that time I was in a difficult mental state and had lost all connection between body and mind, treating my body as a superficial mask that I could manipulate to my own desires. It turned out to be the best decision I could have ever made and I am so grateful for the initial push that drove me to my first yoga class. Not only was the environment the total opposite of competitive (like with most other type of sports, activities), there also never was an ultimate perfect end goal or pose. So instead of focussing on the abilities of the other participants in the room, I was urged to focus on my self, on my own body and what it told me it wanted or didn’t want to do. The ability to hold a certain pose was not depended on ‘how good you were’ or ‘how slim/toned you were’ but on the relationship between body and mind. For example, as soon as I learned to open my heart, I was able to hold different poses such as the wheel pose, but when I felt stressed or negative I could not go as deep into my practice. Then again, learning not to judge myself for that, but simply accepting that that was my current state of mind and letting it go.

One year into my practice, I asked my father to join me. I don’t know what made him go this first time, but let me tell you; the morning after he joined me for his second class. Now more than a year later, he still practices at least two times a week, but often more. For him (I hope I got this right) it wasn’t so much the mind that needed work, he already had been practising meditation for a while and still does. No, I think that for him it was establishing that relation between the mind and the body, and implementing a physical ‘routine’ into his daily life. If you want to read more on his journey, you can go over to his blog: qolcompany.

Now that I study in Delft, I do not go as often to yoga classes as I would like to, but I still try to practice every day. Even it is just 10 minutes of mindful breathing and truly being in the moment, noticing how my body feels that day and accepting it for all it’s imperfections.

I hope I have inspired you to embark on a similar journey of your own, if you have any questions on yoga; what types there are, how to start, the music I listen to or any question for that matter, just comment below and I will answer them to the best of my abilities.

DSC_3488

Pictures taken during my trip to Song Saa in Cambodia

Advertisements

22.03.16 ALIENATION

“We have to heal our wounded world. The chaos, despair and senseless destruction we see today are a result of the alienation that people feel from each other and their environment”

Michael Jackson

Often, without realising it, I forget how blessed I am to live in a country as safe as the Netherlands. I have never felt the fear of walking alone to school as a child, never had to hide my face because of the single fact that I am a woman, never was obliged to cary a weapon, never felt afraid of my own family, never.. So I do not think I have the ability to speak or wright on this fear, that many people live in every second of every day.

However I do know it is like to feel distant from the people around you, all focussing on their mobile phone, to see people destroying the last parts of beautiful nature around us, to notice the change in the now less quiet and clean mountains of Switzerland, to be astonished by people who only seem to enjoy or admire a location once they have taken a picture of it.

These two feelings may not seem related at first, but they both stem from an alienation, differentiation, from our surroundings, as well people as nature. If we want to move a way from this age of destruction, of our planet, of our relationships and of ourselves, I believe that we have to first reconnect with our own mind. We have to reconnect to our selves and our core beliefs, before we can truly be open to connect to other beings and our environment.

I can not say I am there yet, but I try daily to establish a deeper connection with myself, my mind, my body, and with the people and nature around me. How do I this?? I am afraid I am not able to tell you, you will have to find your own path to establish this connection. I believe this is a never-ending journey, never stop learning, always be open to new discoveries in life..

CHANGE OF DIRECTION

Hi …

I haven’t posted anything in a long time and I could make a long list of reasons why, but I honestly don’t think anyone would be interested. Today I decided to start again, however I am changing it up a bit. Whereas before I focused around food, now I just want to write, to express my feelings and thoughts. Even if it is just for myself to clear my mind from the thoughts I had throughout the day and also to get into the habit of writing daily.

Without a doubt, I am a introvert person; I really appreciate my alone time and can easily keep myself busy. However because of this I have a lot of conversations/thoughts in my mind, that keep going. This can be a good creative proces, but sometimes it is nice to put something out of my mind, for example by writing it out.

Topics I will probably write about in the future, are;

  • yoga – this plays a big role in my life, it has helped me to connect with and appreciate my body. Although I haven’t been practising as much as I would like to, I try to at least spend 10 mins on the mat, even it is just some light stretching or focusing on my breath. With this comes meditation, which is a journey I still need to take, but feel very strongly connected to.
  • architecture – at the moment I am an architecture student at the Technical University of Delft and loving it. At times it is very hectic, but in the last 6 months or so I have learned so much, not only about architecture, history, landscaping, etc but also about myself and where my priorities lie. I now look very differently at buildings and instead of looking down all the time, I notice I am glancing up, admiring the beautiful structure and ornaments of buildings.
  • family – my family, as weird as they are, is very important to me.
  • traveling – as I may have mentioned before, last year I went on a gap year. During this time I not only travelled in Europa and Asia, but also learned a new language, did a very intense but rewarding internship and also spend time on my portrait drawing skills.
  • Asia – even though I am as Dutch as they go (blond hair, pale skin, blue eyes), my family and I have a strong connection to Asia. I was born in Singapore and lived there for a couple of years, my mom is finishing her master in Chinese studies and some of my family live in Asia. I can’t exactly explain why we all have this fascination with this continent and its culture, but each one of my travels to China, Tibet, Philippines,  have been life-changing experience. I could do a whole post alone on what Asia means to me
  • nature – I have been fortunate to have traveled to many countries at such a young age, and I am very grateful for these opportunities that I had. Exploring and visiting these different places, made me appreciate and respect every different aspect of nature; the upcoming warmth and beauty of a sunrise in Africa, the cool and relaxing rains in Hong Kong, the sound of the bells from the cows in Switzerland. Every single one of them unique in its own way.
  • Barcelona – just because, Barcelona.. If I got a job offer today, I would pack my bags and leave.

 

I hope I have sparked your interests and just as with my yoga, I am going to write something everyday, even if it is just one sentence..

 

cropped-img_9077-0.jpglove H.DGVE

 

PERFECT MORNINGS

Most people have their own morning routine and I think it is very important to do so. I am not saying we should all have the same routine, no you should make your own, however there are a few things you can do in the morning that will set you up for the rest of the day. Things like yoga, meditation, journaling or drawing. I will do a more in depth post on why and how to obtain these habits in the future, but first here is a example of how I prefer to start my day.
I wake up quite early, I always have and probably always will. For the last two years I haven’t used an alarm clock to wake up, nothing beats waking up on your demand. To be awoken by a harsh sound will definitely affect your mood for the rest of the day.

As I’m trying to get into meditating (but still only a befinner) I ise this moment, the moment right after I wake up, to meditate. Nothing has happened yet, I haven’t checked my phone, I haven’t had anything that could have triggered my mind to get into full action and often I stay in bed while my short meditation. With one hand on my belly I just try to focus on my breathing and my hand moving up and down with every breath I take. Also now I don’t set an alarm, I just do this for however long it feels necessary. There are also other ways to start with meditating and I don’t think there really is a wrong way, just go with what works for you; sitting or lying down, morning or evening, alone or with guidance.

After this I will do a yoga flow practice of some sort, it really depends on how I’m feeling. Sometimes I feel the need for some intense hip openers and other days I really feel liking working on my shoulders, however I always almost start with a couple of sun salutations or various there of and end with a couple of inversions.


The yoga practice can take anywhere from 10 to 60 minutes and also here I don’t set my self a time limit. I understand this is not possible for everyone because of their job or school, but if you get I the habit of waking up early you’ll have plenty of time and don’t feel the need to rush through anything.

After having had a big glass of water, or tea in the weather, I usually have my breakfast or in the case that I don’t have food, like today, I’ll head off to the market to buy what’s in season or the ripest.


Today the watermelons were reduced and I got a whole watermelon for just 3 euros. I asked the marketeer if he could cut it in have for me so I could eat without having to return home.

So with 7 kilos of melon I headed to this beautiful park; Parc de la Ciutadella, in Barcelona and enjoyed my (very sweet) watermelon along this small lake. It is so important to take the time to enjoy and savour your food, be conscious and aware. If you could make on change in your morning routine, I would like it to be this: instead of chowing down your breakfast in front of the tv, while checking social media or even reading the papers, I want you to sit down with you food and perhaps your family and eat it with mindfulness, enjoying every mouthful. You will feel the difference!