Ramblings

Self Isolation? Self Practice.

Join me and our community in a Yoga Practice online.
Unlike Youtube videos, you’ll be practicing in real time, with me, with guidance and instruction, still with that sense of motivation and community that we get from group classes.
Commit to your practice and hold yourself accountable to turn up on your mat and practice alongside of your community- just in a virtual manner!

Check out the online schedule here

Feel free to get in contact if you have any questions.
Love, Light & Lockdown,
Claire xo

Ph: 0432 484 165
Em: info@rambleom.com

“Relax- everything is out of control” – Buddhist Monk Ajahn Brahm

Now Taking Private Clients

Calling all Ramble Om Yoga alumni!
I’m now taking on private clients.


If you have a busy schedule that clashes with regular fitness class times, if you lack confidence to join a public class, if you’re new to yoga and seek some one-on-one guidance, or even if you just want a tailor-made program suited to your goals and interests- private classes are just the thing for you.

What do you want to work on? Is it mobility? Flexibility? Breath-work? A certain posture? Meditation? Strength? Or a combination of it all? Tell me what it is you want to achieve through your practice and I’ll tailor make a program that suits those goals.

Where? A quiet comfortable space, clear from clutter and distractions is best for our private yoga sessions. If you’re unable to practice at home for our sessions or would to prefer to practice in an allocated space, we can sort something out for an additional cost.

When? That’s up to you! We’ll work around your schedule. Early in the morning is a great habit to form and to set you up for the rest of your day. That being said- you might prefer to practice after work hours if it fits in better with your schedule. We’ll work with your time allowances.

How long: One hour sessions are the standard these days, and in a busy schedule it’s more than enough.
How often we work together is entirely up to you, however I do require a month commitment deposit/payment upfront.
Once a week is a great place to start and may be all that you can fit in, but the real changes start when you’re able to find solid consistency. It’s recommended that 2-3 times a week is where noticeable changes start to develop in your practice.

How much: Based on 1hr Sessions
(One month minimum deposit of 75% required)
Once a week $40
Twice a week $70
Three times a week $100

Get in contact with me at info@rambleom.com or 0432 484 165 if you have any questions at all!

Namaste,
Claire.

Why I Will Never Teach Wine/Beer/Gin Yoga

Would you personally drink or incorporate alcohol into your place of work?
Unless you work in a bar, I highly doubt it.

You might have afterwork drinks with colleagues or at a work function, but it’s unlikely that your boss is cool with you drinking on the job.

Here’s another couple of questions for you; Would you suggest to a Personal Trainer “You should do ‘Beer Training’!“?
Would you suggest to your Physiotherapist “How about next time I come in, I drink a schooner while I do my prescribed exercises?!”?
NO! Because that’s fuckin’ stupid and unnecessary.

I’ve been a Yoga Instructor now for just over two years and I view it as an absolute privilege. I never thought I’d enjoy a gig this much and I take what I do really seriously.
I honor and respect that it is an ancient Indian practice that has evolved and developed into what we know and have in a western culture today. It is not my culture to take as my own but rather for me to appreciate. I also acknowledge that I am indeed a very white girl teaching Yoga (so refrain from slapping the “Cultural Appropriation” label on me, Keyboard Warriors)

I am inherently aware of the risk of things slipping into “cultural appropriation” particularly in the western world of the Yoga industry, so I try my hardest not to be a total, ignorant asshole in that regard.
This is also why I’m so very against bullshit fads like gin/wine/beer/any-kind-of-alcohol/ Yoga. It might be that one step too far.

I also acknowledge that Yoga isn’t everyone’s cup of tea and that’s cool as well!
I don’t expect you to love it or understand it, but I do expect you to respect what I do as a job.
A job that I have done, am doing and will continue to do training for. That I run a business through!

So when you suggest to me “How about you teach ‘Beer Yoga’?”– it pisses me off. I try not to take it too personally but it often leads me to feel that you don’t take what I do as a job seriously. That you don’t understand it but haven’t really tried to either.

I’m Australian and a huge part of our culture is drinking and I’ll wholeheartedly admit I am sick and tired of booze being tied into everything.
If you have to incorporate alcohol into every inch of life, especially into something like a yoga practice, you might be working with some larger issues, my friend.

I’m not opposed to drinking! I still have a drink every now and again.
If you want to treat yourself to a glass or few of wine go for it. A Gin & Tonic of a Friday afternoon in patio season with a group of friends for sunset on a beach in Bali? Be my guest (also that sounds really lovely…can I come?)
Hell, if you wanna get white-girl wasted on a Tuesday, you go for it! You’ll hear no pushback or lecture from me.

But I will NEVER bring alcohol on to the mat. I will never sell my soul and teach something as ridiculous as “Beer Yoga” because it might get one or two more men to my class under absolutely false premise of what Yoga actually is.
It shits all over my credibility as a teacher, it’s irresponsible,and it totally undermines this amazing, ancient practice that dates back over 5,000 years.
Beer/Wine/Gin/Goat Yoga? THAT’S the real cultural appropriation culprit.

Don’t hit me with the “it’s just a joke M8!”
I understand most of the time when I’m tagged in the same wine yoga post on facebook for the 19th time, that it’s not meant with malice. That it’s not meant to offend. But It is a little bit ignorant as to what I actually do and teach. And what OTHERS do and teach.

If you ever want to come and practice with me and think that there’ll be grog involved you’re barking up the wrong Vrksasana! (Pun is and always will be intended).

Love & Light,
Claire.

“Yoga is a way of getting totally intoxicated- not on alcohol but on life”– Sadhguru.

Yoga Retreat Eats!

For those of you who missed it, I held a Full Day Yoga Retreat over the weekend.
It was an amazing day full of yoga, meditation, great company and amazing food!

The day was certainly more than just about good food, but when it came to morning tea and lunch, the focus was satisfaction and flavour in meals made from real, nourishing wholefoods. Nothing processed and everything homemade by yours truly.

There were a few favourite items on the menu which a lot of you requested recipes for, and as this day was all about equipping you with skills to implement in your day-to-day lives, I’d thought i’d share these easy recipes! (Seriously- If I can do this YOU can do this. I’m certainly no Martha Stewart)

*Note: I’m a cook/make to taste kinda gal. So although there’s steps and measurements in these recipes, I always add or ease up on certain ingredients. Go with what works for you, have fun with it.

Beet Hummus
You can’t beat a beetroot! Beets are a source of antioxidants (betaine), manganese, folate, Vitamin B2 and potassium.
Chickpeas are a great source of protein, carbohydrates, and fiber. Combine the two plus some other delicious additives and you got yourself a hot pink paste perfect for dipping veggie sticks in, slathering onto pitta bread, or dolloping into a nourish bowl.

Ingredients:
1/2 a large beetroot (or two small whole beetroots)
1 can of cooked chickpeas
2 Tablespoons Minced Garlic
2 Large lemons (both for juice, use one whole lemon’s rind)
2 Heaped tablespoons of Tahini Paste
Salt & Pepper to taste
1-2 teaspoons Olive Oil
Method:
This recipe is very much to taste. Add more lemon juice/rind or more garlic depending on which way you want the flavour to go!
1. Roast the beetroot in the oven
2. Peel the skin off once cool (wear gloves to avoid stained hands!) and cut into quarters. Blend the beetroot up in either a high quality blender or food processor until there’s only small pieces.
3. Add to the blender/food processor all the other ingredients except the olive oil.
4. Drizzle in the olive oil as the hummus is blending together.
5. Taste test and if needed add more salt & pepper, or olive oil to make it smoother, or garlic for that extra kick.
6. Store in the fridge- will keep for up to a week!

Dreamy Tahini Sauce
One of my absolute favourite condiments to make and have ready in the fridge is a Lemon Tahini Dressing. I drizzle it on salads, nourish bowls or even mix it through pasta dishes. What’s an added bonus is this recipe is totally vegan! It’s simple, quick and easy, low in saturated-fats and refined oils, supports heart health, AND tastes AMAZING!

Ingredients
1 Jar of Hulled Tahini Paste
1-2 Large Lemons for juice and rind
1-2 Tablespoons of minced garlic
1-2 Teaspoons of honey or maple syrup (optional for sweetness)
Sea salt or himalayan salt (salt balances out the bitter tahini taste)
Pepper
Cold Water
Method:
Either Blend in a blender or food processor, or whisk it all together.
I find it’s softer, smoother and creamier if blended well.
1. Blend all ingredients together and adjust by adding either lemon, garlic, sweetness or salt and pepper.
2. Once it’s all blended well, start adding little parts of the cold water in until you reach a consistency that suits.
3. Keep in a sealed jar in the fridge for 3-5 days. Once refrigerated, your Tahini Lemon Sauce might become thick so just add a little water and stir well before serving.

Banana & Date Loaf OR Pumpkin, Pecan & Date Loaf
A new-found morning tea favourite with a strange (but delicious) twist on a crumbly top. On the day of the retreat we had both flavours on offer, but the recipe works well for both! We also had a Gluten Free version made with almond meal for one of our participants. This recipe works as either bread/loaves or muffins!
Refined sugar-free, this morning tea treat has a crunchy surprise of added crumbled rice cakes. Serve with ricotta or coconut yoghurt, or a slice all by itself.

Ingredients:
1 Cup mashed pumpkin (or banana)
3/4 Cup Coconut Cream
1/2 Cup Coconut Sugar
2 tsp Vanilla extract (or honey/maple syrup)
2 Cups of wholemeal SF flour (GF alternative is almond meal)
1 Tsp baking soda
2 Tsp Cinnamon
Pinch of salt
1/4 Cup of cranberries (or dates)
6 rice cakes crushed
2 Eggs- lightly beaten
1/4 cup pepitas
Method:
1. Preheat oven 180’c, Grease a loaf pan and line with baking paper
2. Mash pumpkin in a large mixing bowl, add coconut cream, coconut sugar, vanilla (or sweetener of choice) and mix until well combined
3. Add flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, cranberries (or dates) and half the crushed rice cakes into a seperate bowl. Mix well.
4. Add pumpkin mixture and eggs to the flour mixture and gently fold until combined. Spoon the batter into the lined pan. Scatter the top of the loaf with remaining crushed rice cakes and pepetitas. Press lightly into the top of the batter so it sticks.
5. Bake for 45 minutes or until a skewer into the centre comes out clean.
Leave to cool and lift out of pan and onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Lemon & Macadamia Bliss Balls
A perfect snack for those afternoon lulls when you’re craving something sweet. These bliss balls are simple, quick, sugar free and deliciously lemony.

Ingredients
1 cup raw, unsalted macadamias
1 cup desiccated coconut
3 tablespoons of coconut (extra for rolling)
1 lemon zest
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup dates (soaked overnight if possible)
2 tablespoons maple syrup, rice malt syrup, or honey
pinch of salt
Method
1. in a food processor, pulse the macadamias into a rough puree. Add lemon zest, and 1 cup of coconut and pulse together
2. Add in the lemon juice, syrup of choice, dates and salt. Blitz it all together
3. Roll into balls and toss in extra coconut to coat them. Refrigerate to keep firm.


“Good food is wise medicine”- Alison Levitt M.D

What is a Yoga Practice?

When you say to me “I really want to get into yoga” What is it exactly you want to ‘get into’?

In a lot of my classes you’ll often hear me ask you to reflect on why it is you practice Yoga. For each of us that reason can be totally different.

Before we even actually start flowing, moving and bending, I’ll ask you to tune into your awareness of your body, to send that attention internally and focus then on where the breath is moving and what the mind is doing.

Why? Because Yoga isn’t just physical exercise.
Sure! In some of our classes together we sweat buckets and stretch into new lengths that perhaps you didn’t think were possible. And that is great! I’m all about being fit, healthy and active and progressing physically.
However, a well rounded Yoga Practice is so much more than the asanas (physical yoga postures).

This week i’ve found myself defending yoga to a lot of individuals (whom have never even tried yoga) who say to me “Yeah but yoga isn’t even hard. You’re just stretching. You don’t even break a sweat. That’s why men don’t do it because it’s not hard”
To that I say
Well thank you for your input, but in fact it is hard. Some styles of yoga are are very physically hard and you do sweat…holy moly do you sweat”

In this response of defence I notice that I myself relate Yoga simply to the physical.
I have to stop and remind myself that that’s not all!
It’s not just about the headstand or the 6pack abs or the hyper-flexible hamstrings- those things are great but they are simply external. And when you achieve those things what else is there after? What keeps you going on this journey of a yoga practice?

Traditionally, there are 8 Limbs or parts that make up a Yoga Practice.

1. Yamas- Ethical and behavioural standards.
2. Niyamas- Self-discipline and spiritual observances.
3. Asana- the postures practiced (the physical)
4. Pranayama- breath control and techniques
5. Pratyahara- sensory withdrawal or transcendence. Relieving yourself from outside stimuli and taking a step back to observe habits or cravings.
6. Dharana- once you’ve stopped outside distractions you now start to focus on the workings of the mind. Essentially concentration on one thing like a mantra, a sound or vibration, your breath, visualisation techniques etc etc.
7. Dhyana- Meditation or an uninterrupted flow of concentration. The mind produces no or very few thoughts/distractions. This takes a loooooot of practice.
8. Samadhi- a state of enlightenment or pure and profound ecstasy.

So out of those 8 limbs the physical is only mentioned ONCE! Yet if we take a look at what the western world does with yoga on a platform like Instagram, it’s mostly insanely intricate or difficult Asanas performed in an exotic location. It’s all physical.
And I am aware that I’m guilty of this too, I think anyone with an instagram is guilty of this! But what is seldom mentioned is all the other stuff that comes with a Yoga Practice.

In my experience, (personal and teaching) people come to Yoga seeking something more, and in this day and age most commonly we’re seeking something to help us cope with the anxieties that a modern world thrusts upon us. People seek peace, purpose, community, enlightenment- something more.

So why do I teach mostly asana? Because that’s the demand.
But mostly because whether you’re open to it or not, Yoga has a sneaky way of opening channels for you to delve deeper into when you are ready for it.
Yoga will teach you to observe, it will teach you discipline, it will teach you to have patience in the process rather than to get frustrated and give up!
Yoga will teach you to breathe properly and find connection between mind, body and  breath. And all of that can be transferred to our lives off the mat.

When you come out of the most important asana of all, Savasana, thats the sweet spot. How you feel emotionally, mentally even spiritually, thats the lightbulb moment as to why you practice. Observe it in our next class, and your reason as to why you practice yoga might surprise you.

“Yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind” – Yoga Sutra 1.2

Yoga Class Etiquette

 

 

In any Yoga stIMG_7345udio, retreat or space, there’s a certain feeling or atmosphere that comes along with it. If you frequent studios or classes you’ll know the type of “energy” i’m talking about.
It’s a space free from judgement, expectation, competition and negativity.
It’s a safe, communal space for you to just be, and for you to just come back to.

Although I don’t like to put “rules” to things, there is a certain etiquette that is required from all students attending classes in our space together at Ramble Om or otherwise. This etiquette helps to build and keep this atmosphere, and it requires each and every individual to rise to that etiquette.
In Sanskrit and yogic terms, this etiquette is referred to as the Yamas (Moral Discipline) and you can read about that more here.

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These are a few of the most common Etiquette points for Yogis and more importantly, the ones I require from you when attending any of my classes;

1. Turn phones OFF!
Even better- leave them completely out of the space.
This is a HUGE point. There is absolutely nothing worse than someones phone beeping, ringing or even just text/notification buzzing when you’re in the zone of a class. It breaks not only your concentration but it effects others as well. If you can’t be without your phone for 60minutes then there’s bigger issues that need to be addressed. Turn them off. It can wait.

2. Arrive 10-15 minutes early.
It’s important to be early to class especially if you’ve never been to a class before.
I require each new student to fill out a waiver and to discuss with me any injuries and they may have, as well as discuss goals for their practice. This takes time. Especially if theres 1-2 new people in a class!
So come early, write your name down on the sign in sheet, settle in, get a head-start on your stretching, get props, and start getting into the “zone” mentally.
Sometimes before a class i’ll have a chat to you all about what we’re aiming for or what I need you to be aware of, so I need you to be ready to go. If a class is scheduled at 6:00pm we start at 6:00pm, and we start together as a group.

3. NEVER skip or rush out of Savasana
I get it- we all have things to get home to, but why would you rush your hard earned Savasana? You’re cheating yourself if you skip or rush it.
Your Savasana is crucial to a well rounded practice, and mentally perhaps it’s the most difficult posture of all! Learning to just be with stillness, observe the thoughts, meditate on the breath, can be a real challenge, but allow yourself to drift deep into the relaxed, dream-like state. Some savasanas will be easier than others but such is life and such is the practice!
If you do need to leave early for whatever (important) reason, please let your teacher know before class starts and leave as quietly as possible, so as not to disturb others out of their savasana.

4. Put props back exactly how you found them
In Yogic practice there is an emphasis on the Niyama of Saucha which is cleanliness.
If you use any props be mindful of the next person to use them. Roll your straps up, fold blankets properly, clean your mat ESPECIALLY if you borrow one. Stack blocks neatly, and don’t just chuck your bolsters messily. In any gym its the same with any equipment you use! So it applies to our yoga space and props. It’s nice to come into a tidy space- it takes a yoga community’s efforts to build a yoga space

5. Stay internal.
Respect yourself, others and the space by refraining from unnecessary talking, laughing or grunts of complaint. As mentioned in point number one, it’s important to get in the “zone” so a lot of the time when you walk in for class, you’ll see people on their mat silently starting to do just that- don’t disturb them. If you are chatting, please keep it soft, but know that you can have all the time after class to chat, laugh and catch up.
I know some postures are hard, or that sometimes you feel silly trying something totally new and out of your comfort zone, but challenge yourself to stay internal and by that I mean silently processing what it is you feel. Don’t steal others’ concentration or flow away just because you personally find something challenging. You can always go into a childspose to reset your mind and breath, find that internal focus, and join back in when you’re ready.
Refrain from looking around the room or at the person next to you and comparing yourself to their practice. All you should be concerned with is your body, your breath and the sensation you can feel. You’re not there to be the best, or to impress.

“Without the Yamas, known as the eithical rules, there is no success in Yoga”– Sri Dharma Mittra

What does that mean though? To Ramble Om?

A lot of people ask me “What does it mean…Ramble? Om? On? How do you say it? Where did the name come from?”
Well first of all, you got it right the first crack, champ!
It is indeed, “Ramble Om“.

The second part to that question I usually keep pretty short and say something like
“‘Ramble On’ by Led Zeppelin is one of my all time favourite songs, and Om is a pretty prominent and sacred sound in Yoga”
Combine the two and you’ve a lovely little pun and my lovely little business’ name that I operate under.

However, there’s a little more depth to the word Ramble, as well as Om.
According to Guru Google these are the definitions:

Ramble
/ˈramb(ə)l/
verb
1. walk for pleasure in the countryside.
“I recently spent some time rambling around in the mountains of South America”

2. to talk or 
write at length in a confused or inconsequential way.
“Claire rambled on about Yoga and it’s benefits until people finally started coming to her regular (and really fun!) classes”
Om
/əʊm,ɒm/
noun
  1. A mystic syllable, considered the most sacred mantra in Hinduism and Tibetan Buddhism. It appears at the beginning and end of most Sanskrit recitations, prayers, ceremonies and texts.

For me personally, to Ramble means to continue.
To keep going, to keep moving, to gain and keep momentum.
That doesn’t necessarily only apply to the physical self, but also the emotional, mental and spiritual selves as well.

For me that momentum is crucial not only in my personal yoga practice, but in life in general. Because life itself keeps on going whether you’re onboard or not.

Ramble to me can mean to travel, to progress and to evolve, and yes I agree, it can mean to jabber on about things (like yoga and the importance of acting YESTERDAY on climate change).

To me, Om brings it all full circle -beginning, end and everything in between- it ties it all together.
I feel that the vibration of Om is something that can and is felt by anyone who speaks, chants or sings it.
It is the original, primordial sound in Hinduism and it signifies the essence of the ultimate reality and consciousness. Pretty cool huh?!

Honestly- recently I’ve felt a little stuck, like i’m not really sure what direction I should be rambling in. I’ve questioned what i’m doing and why and if I’m even any “good” at it. I’ve thought about getting a 9-5 in a cubicle because the money would be better, I’ve thought about getting a mortgage, I’ve thought about joining gosh-darn tinder for fucks sake. And in the stillness of my rut, it’s all felt a bit overwhelming.

Don’t get me wrong! I believe stillness is important too.
And if you’ve been to any of my restorative classes you’ll hear me say that…a lot.
I believe strongly that it’s ok to take some time-out and do some serious reflection, and often that deep reflection is found within the discomfort of stillness.
It’s important to be able to sit through the discomfort, to learn to endure it and to learn to “be” with it.
In regards to direction though- ya girls’ felt a little lost. (Cue- existential crisis #476…)

This morning I was tidying up files on my laptop and found footage from my last trip to India.
This time last year I was in Southern India obtaining my 300hr YTT certification and afterwards did some rambling around the country.
Where has that year GONE!?

Finding this year-old footage of my last adventure has clarified my goals and directions for me. It’s reiterated what is important to me in terms of my personal “rambling”.
It ignited that ambition and drive to find that momentum once again and I’m excited for the future. I’m excited in the here and now as well because where you are right now is exactly where you need to be.

India is still to this day one of my all time favourite countries. Top 3 easily.
I love the culture, the food, the people, the sounds, the sights and the smells (incense and spices mostly!) It is sensory overload in all the right ways and I miss it all the time.

Here’s a little after-movie of me in India (with my Willy Nelson braids, dirty feet, pale skin and rather large chin pimple- lovin’ my selves SICK!) at Kranti Yoga, splashing around in the Arabian Sea with my fellow yogi Hillary, pissing about on scooters and trains, and floating down the Ganges with the very handsome Babu in a boat!

Love & Light,
Claire xo

“…I know I’ve got one thing I got to do, Ramble on”– Led Zeppelin

Continue reading “What does that mean though? To Ramble Om?”

What I require from you…

What I require from you, from others, from myself, is first and foremost kindness.

In all my relationships- platonic or otherwise- kindness comes first.
Not how you look or what you do for a living. Not the type of car you drive or what you wear. Not where you went to school or who your parents are.
If you’re a kind person you’re cool with me. 

I require you to refrain from categorising and judging others by their race or religion or gender or sexuality. If you produce hate I will terminate our relationship- platonic or otherwise. I will still treat you civilly & with kindness- but that’s as far as we go.

I appreciate some days are easier than others to be our kindest self, but I challenge you to take a moment to reflect on how you speak and interact with others- is it right, good and kind?
And if not why? And do you truly believe in the hate speech that comes out of your mouth, or are you just a product of your environment? Are you conforming to the majority because it’s all you know, never challenging yourself or others?

Can you do better?

“Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible”- The 14th Dalai Llama

Tough Love!

“Where have you been?” You may ask. (and by ‘you’ I mean all three of my readers one of which is my mother)

Well, nearest and dearest, I’ve recently been backpacking around South America for three and a half months! It was amazing. It blew my mind and exceeded any expectations I had of that amazing part of the world.

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Why didn’t I blog about it? Well I had every intention of blogging!
I even have some drafts I wrote up but never posted. They’re trash because I was usually a few Malbecs deep in Argentina.
However I wanted to be fully and totally present as I gypsied around South America and felt that blogging every moment wasn’t going to allow me to do that.

I’m not a travel blogger, I wouldn’t even say i’m a blogger period! I just sort of ferociously hit the keyboard of my laptop when ever I have an idea that I am passionate about and can stay focussed on long enough to write about it!
That usually happens at around 3am when my brain decides it’s a good time to question the meaning of life.

So all that being said, I didn’t blog about my recent travels.
I journaled about it every day, I approached with mindfulness and took photos for me of things that blew my mind.
I travelled, ate, drank, hiked, camped, loved, lived, hitch hiked (sorry, Mum), swam, surfed, practiced, taught and learnt.
I finished up my trip in Central America, in Nicaragua with the wonderful Julia Gavin assisting on a 200hr YTT at Los Clavos Surf & Yoga Camp.
What an incredible experience. What an Incredible three and a half months.

 

I’ve finally set my backpack down at home (at least for a little while ;)) back in my country town of Boorowa NSW.
And you better believe we’re starting back with our yoga classes!!!
I’ve branched out to a neighbouring town to offer a couple of classes there as well, as well as to teach different people with different needs. I’m pumped. I’m refreshed. I’ve got loads of new ideas, postures, music, knowledge and flows that I cannot WAIT to share.
I even started up an instagram again (I know- i’m so hip) so that I can sell myself a little more as a yoga teacher! It’s a competitive world out there! Ironically in the world of yoga where we’re supposed to practice Aparigraha and Santosha!
Which we do…but it’s also 2019…

This is the where the tough love portion of my rambles comes centre stage.
It’s a new year. You’ve probably joined a gym, or subscribed to an app or two, started a diet or a resolution.
No. More. Excuses.

If you want to start yoga START TODAY. Not yesterday. Not tomorrow. Not next week. Not when you’ve lost 3kgs. Not when you’ve bought a new mat or new work out gear. Not when you feel ‘ready’.
NOW.

My classes are open to all. We know this by now. The rest is up to you.
I can’t drag you by the tights into my classes (i’ve looked into it and it’s against code of conduct)
So if you’ve been umming and ahhhing about whether or not to start practicing just come. Try it.

I say try four classes and then decide if it’s for you or not. I won’t be offended if you don’t like yoga or even if you don’t like me!
Stop being so hard on yourself, turn up and try it.

Check out the schedule and details here and I’ll see you on the mat.

Love & Light,
Claire.

“The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing”- Walt Disney.

We Ghat-ta Get Outta This Place

I’ve recently returned from an amazing seven weeks in India.
For my first month, as previously blogged, I obtained my 300hr Yoga Teacher Training Certification. For the remaining weeks I saw as much of India as I possibly could of! I’m left hungry for more in all honesty…

In just eighteen days I managed to see fourteenth century ruins in Hampi, the birthplace of Ashtanga in Mysore, European influenced Fort Kochi, rows upon rows of tea plantations in Munnar, the Hindu mecca and place of holy cremation ceremonies in Varanasi, the Taj Mahal in Agra (3/7 wonders!), the sacred lake surrounded by desert in Pushkar and the white city of Udaipur!

 

It was a lot! I was on the move almost every second day but it was so worth it. Each place had something totally different to offer and I feel so blessed to of been able to experience as much of it as I could.
I tried as much food from the different regions, happily forgoing cutlery and using my right hand only, and had some of the most amazing street food of my life and didn’t even get sick this time! (someone send me a decent recipe for Aloo Tikki Chaat asap!)
I witnessed beautiful ceremonies and rituals practiced devoutly by all walks of life. I felt peace in sacred temples of a religion that is not my own. I met fellow travellers who just like me, fell in love with India over and over again with every sunrise and sunset.

 

A lot of people warned that It was dangerous to travel India alone especially as a female, but to allow fear to drive my decisions just isn’t an option for me.
I will note that I travelled to fairly safe areas that a lot of tourist flock to. I’m also not a trail blazer. Women have been travelling solo in countries like India for decades. I think the key is to stay informed, be respectful and to make educated decisions whilst doing so.
Sure! Things go terribly, terribly wrong in some rare cases, I’m aware of this, but plenty of terrible and awful things occur in Australia too…let’s not forget that.
I took overnight sleeper trains and buses, travelled and navigated new cities totally alone, and I experienced nothing but kindness, beauty, generosity and care. I was exposed to one of the most beautiful and peaceful cultures that I’ve experienced in my travels.

 

People would share their food with me, make sure that I had a safe place to stay and a way to get there. Strangers would ask me about my country and were intrigued by why I was amazed by theirs. Beautiful souls explained their religion and their beliefs to me without ever being preachy or overwhelming. They expressed an utterly unwavered, dedication to their faith and it was astounding. The people that I encountered were only happy to share it all.
I think my biggest culture shock was the experience in Varanasi.
Varanasi is a Mecca where Hindu’s travel from all over, and a lot choose Varanasi as their final “resting place” or rather where they physically leave the earth.
In order to break the cycle of reincarnation and reach nirvana, they practice a holy and extremely important ritual of cremation by the River Ganges or Mother Ganga. To give you an idea of just how important it is, in the winter (when more people pass) up to 500 bodies can be burnt in one day.

 

I chose to go on a Ghat tour to try and understand more of this ritual. We took a boat out on to the Ganges with our Tour Guide, Anil, who was incredibly informative. He showed some of the 90 Ghats (essentially steps that lead down to the Ganga) in Varanasi as we floated by. There are two Ghats that are used exclusively for cremation ceremonies. We floated by, getting fairly close whilst still being respectful of course. One of the two cremation ghats used is larger and at one point there were 20 odd bodies being burnt. To clarify, you don’t actually see an out in the open body being burnt, the body is covered in white cloth and completely surrounded by wood. Anil said we were allowed to take photos from a distance, I’ll admit I did out of complete astonishment, but have since deleted them…It didn’t feel right. In a world where we take photos of EVERYTHING, some things are best left un-captured. (Plus you can google it if you need visual aid)

This process may sound morbid and confronting, but this is only because it’s completely different to what we know as westerners and how we approach and deal with death.
This cremation ceremony is seen as a rite of passage for dedicated Hindus. Just as a church service funeral would be to a dedicated Catholic.
I’m know that in any culture, there is overwhelming grief when losing a loved one, but during the cremation ceremony itself it isn’t a sad experience as the lost loved one is finally reaching Nirvana. Tears aren’t allowed and for this reason women aren’t traditionally allowed at the cremation site.
Mantras and prayers are sung, offerings are made and the life of the loved one is celebrated. Once the body is completely cremated, the remains are released into the Ganges.
Generally in a male the chest is the last to burn and in women it’s the hips. Whilst we were listening to Anil, we saw a cremation ceremony end. The man in charge of the ceremony extinguished the fire with water from the Ganga, and from the remains took a set of hips from the ashes, to then release it finally into the river.

I’ve lost loved ones. I know what that heartache feels like and I firmly believe this type of grief exists in any culture, so my intention is not to minimise that grief or to flippantly discuss losing someone.
However, this experience in Varanasi totally changed my perception of what death is to me. I no longer feel afraid of my personal death. It shouldn’t be this scary, taboo topic. Death is inevitable and it’s what makes life so precious. The fact that it does indeed have an expiry date whether you believe in an after-life or not, THIS life has an expiry date.

It can be really hard to comprehend a ritual or approach to death such as this particular Hindu Rite of Passage, especially as a westerner. However it’s important to at least try to understand. You don’t necessarily have to agree with it, but at least try to understand the process, the reasonings and relevance to that culture or religion.

I think that occasionally we have a warped perception of different cultures and countries and we approach it with fear, hatred and in some cases racism.
Coming from a small, rural town in Australia i’ve seen this approach first hand.
To approach anything that is different with cynicism, fear, ignorance and hatred is what sets us back as a human race. India is a beautiful and safe place if you approach it as such and with correct and intelligent information.

As I’ve returned home to this small, rural town in Australia, I aim to at least discuss and inform. I may not change perceptions, but I can attempt to discuss and inform.

Love & Light,
Claire

“If we lose love and self respect for each other, this is how we finally die”- Maya Angelou.