The Practice of Discomfort

Posted by Laila Kirkpatrick on

"There is a common misunderstanding among human beings who have ever been born on earth that the best way to live is to try to avoid pain and just try to get comfortable. You see this even in insects and animals and birds. All of us are the same. A much more interesting, kind and joyful approach to life is to begin to develop our curiosity, not caring whether the object of our curiosity is bitter or sweet. To lead a life that goes beyond pettiness and prejudice and always wanting to make sure that everything turns out on our own terms, to lead a more passionate, full and delightful life than that, we must realise that we can endure a lot of pain and pleasure for the sake of finding out who we are and what this world is, how we tick and how our world ticks, how the whole thing just is. If we are committed to comfort at any cost, as soon as we come up against the least edge of pain, we’re going to run; we’ll never know what’s beyond that particular barrier or wall or fearful thing." Pema Chödrön

Our yoga asana practice can be a place for this, on the safety of our mats, perhaps with the guidance of a teacher, and our own gentle approach. Playing with poses we find difficult, that bring up fear and our own aversion can be the grounds to slowly practice embracing the uncomfortable. Particularly methods like Ashtanga Yoga that don't allow us much wiggle room to play into our own story, can be an opportunity to play with the uncomfortable until it is simply just another experience, without our need to label it good or bad. Just is. A practice in time that permeates into our life, and can feed our steadiness and courage when the going gets tough for real.

Laila x
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Take Flight

Posted by Laila Kirkpatrick on

Tittibhasana

Often this is called Firefly Pose, but actually Titthibas are little birds that live along the coastline. Sometimes when practicing this pose I imagine my hands are talons ready to push off pre-flight, my legs extending like wings (I'm very imaginative 😂!). I also love the story of the Tittibhas...

There once was a pair of Tittibhas living by the sea. It was time to lay eggs, so the female Tittibha suggests that they move to a different location, as the sea could carry away the eggs at any time. The male Tittibha refuses to budge, and assures the female that whatever happens, he can take care of it. The sea listens to this boastful talk and decides to teach the Tittibha a lesson by washing the eggs away. Hurled into action by his wife's wailing, the male Tittibha calls a meeting of his feathered relatives and decides to take the issue further with Garuda (Eagle), the king of all airborne beings. Garuda takes up their cause and approaches his master, the Lord Vishnu, who resides in the ocean. Lord Vishnu, always inclined toward his vehicle Garuda, threatens to burn up the sea. The sea returns the eggs to the shore. Thus, a determined little bird proved to be a match for the mighty ocean.

A story of taking flight, and trusting your wings.

Laila x

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Nature as Guru

Posted by Laila Kirkpatrick on

Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds that you plant. ~Robert Louis Stevenson

Today's harvest was bountiful. Gardening reminds me how best to approach my yoga practice. The preparation of soil, weeding, sowing of seeds, the maintaining and the mindful attention I give my garden is where the learning lies and the magic happens. The tangible results in the end are always just interesting by-products that gently remind me that working with nature /the seasons/ where you are, dedication, persistence and love, do indeed have an effect. No matter how subtle, change, growth and transition is happening.

Laila x
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Conscious Breathing

Posted by Laila Kirkpatrick on

'Life is in the breath. He who half-breathes, half-lives.'

Do you practice conscious breathing? In yoga, the inhalation is described as creating rising energy which is referred to as Prana Vayu and is responsible for growth and renewal. The energetic movement of the inhalation flows upwards from the belly to the chest. Sometimes it can be handy to visualise a glass filling up with water. On the exhalation Apana Vayu is created, a downward flowing energy which is responsible for grounding and elimination. Now we imagine the glass being emptied. The opposing energies that we find in the breath of rise (prana) and fall (apana) can be found everywhere in nature - summer and winter; day and night, space and earth, movement and stillness. Ahhhhh, a beautiful cosmic receiving and releasing of energy.

Take a few moments in your day to feel your breath. To notice it. Breathing is miraculous x

📷 taken in Ooty, India. 2012... Because after a couple months of beautiful but dusty Mysore, sometimes you need to sit on a hill, breathe and take in the clean air.

Laila x 

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Honour Your Edges

Posted by Laila Kirkpatrick on



This image is of Baddha Padmasana - Bound Lotus. It brings the body into a symbol of infinity, and is said to awaken kundalini energy, destroy karmic obstacles, and clear the pathways for energy to flow. In the Ashtanga tradition we fold right leg first and then left leg, purifying the liver and spleen as our heels massage our internal organs. We then fold forwards and bring our chin towards the floor in Yoga Mudrasana or 'psychic union pose,' as a way to awaken the inner Self and honour divine union.

Padmasana (Lotus Pose) is not to be taken lightly. It's important to learn how to make this challenging pose a vehicle for peace and freedom rather than frustration and injury.
When we hurt our knees in this pose, it is mostly due to tight hips. Pushing too far into the pose, or misplacing the foot, ankle, and heel, can also contribute to an injury. Setting an intention to practice Ahimsa (non-harm) and Satya (truthfulness) is crucial in approaching this safely. Such a special pose needs an appropriate, gradual way of working towards the expression, whatever that may be for each individual.

Laila x

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