Gratitude

We might work out our bodies and even our minds, but, we can also work out our feelings. It is comforting to think of our feelings as being within our control, like a muscle to be trained. For example, if you are prone to negativity and you are aware of that, then you can start to monitor your behaviour and your attitude in situations where this arises. One feeling you can train that will help you become more mindful day to day, and feel that smile from within, is gratitude.

When I was a little girl one of the things I was taught to do before I closed my eyes and drifted off to sleep, was to say thank you for everyone in my life. Thank you for my mum, thank you for my dad thank you for my brother and sister, thank you for grandma thank you for ……. My family is big, so I never got to thank all the uncles, aunts and cousins, and I was asleep before I knew it.

Gratitude is a tendency towards appreciating the positive in life, either we are more naturally inclined that way, or we have to realise that it is a quality, a way of being, that requires some effort to cultivate. Whoever we are there is always room for improvement.

Sometimes in the yoga class I will ask people to take a moment to think about three things they are grateful for. I see that within moments they relax more in their posture, and a gentle smile emerges. The reason being, when we are grateful, we feel joy. Gratitude is linked to kindness, it lifts the heart, we are saying thank you from the heart.  This could be for the sound of birdsong, the kindness of a neighbour, or a child’s laughter. So many things.

Numerous studies have shown a strong association between higher levels of gratitude and wellbeing, including lowered stress levels, more fulfilling relationships, better sleep and overall greater resilience.

A way to train this feeling is to cultivate a regular practice of being thankful. It can take just a few minutes each day, you could do this before you go to bed. Think about, or write down, at least 3 things you are grateful for today. The more you do this the more you notice the many wonderful things in your life and you can’t help but smile and say thank you. Over time you start feeling grateful during the activities or experiences you are having, before eating your dinner and during the meal, when listening to a loved one, giving your whole attention and being grateful for that person in your life. Really experiencing the sights and sounds of nature instead of being lost in thoughts.

Gratitude is strongly linked with mindfulness, the more aware you are, the more you notice what is going on with your mental and physical state moment to moment. Train the muscle of mindfulness and gratitude and live a more fulfilling life. Like with a physical yoga practice or gym practice, the more you do it, the more you notice a difference.

The power of breathing through your nose!

If you already practice yoga, then you will be familiar with the importance of breathing in an out through the nose, for calming the mind and optimising oxygen intake throughout the body. Yes, we breathe out through the mouth sometimes in yoga, but the essence of the movement practice and the seated meditation is controlled nasal breathing.

Breathing steady and slow in and out through the nose helps increase the amount of oxygen delivered to our muscles and organs, including the heart and brain. The slow steady breath calms us down, or to paraphrase the yoga sutras of Patanjali: we still the fluctuations of the mind, and we increase our focus and attention.

Nasal breathing as opposed to mouth breathing, offers the following benefits:

  1. The nose filters, warms and moistens the air before it reaches the lungs.
  2. Breathing in and out through the nose helps us to take fuller and deeper breaths which stimulates the lower lungs to distribute greater amounts of oxygen throughout the body.
  3. The nasal passage releases nitric oxide, nitric oxide expands the blood vessels, thereby increasing blood flow, and oxygen release.
  4. Breathing in and out through the nose activates the parasympathetic nervous system, in particular the vagus nerve, which triggers the relaxation response.

Pay attention to how you breathe, if you breathe in and out through the mouth, or in through the nose and out through the mouth, try nasal breathing. It could take some time for you to get used to this, but it is well worth the benefits.

If you would like to understand more about nasal breathing in person, or video call, then whatsapp / call (0623598162) or email me (satty@sattyyoga.nl), and I would be delighted to help.

Smile and the world smiles with you….

Think of someone you know that has a beautiful smile, the kind that touches your heart and lifts your spirits. You see their eyes light up and they generate a warmth and joy that connects from within.

The likelihood is that you are smiling as you think of this person. Your body relaxes, your breathing is steady, and your mood lifts.

Studies have shown that the act of smiling, alters your body’s chemistry and elevates your mood. We only have to try it to find out!

I will often invite people to smile during a yoga class. If we are holding a yoga pose that requires balance, focus and concentration, we might notice that we tighten in the mouth and hold our breath. Softly smiling however releases tension in the facial muscles, we also let go of tension in the mind and the body. A reminder to breathe steadily in and out through the nose counteracts any feelings of tightness. When we take deeper slower breaths, with a typically longer exhale, we stimulate one of the key nerves of the body, the vagus nerve. Activating this nerve slows the heart rate, reduces blood pressure and helps us feel more calm and at ease.

The vagus nerve is the longest nerve in the human body and is the main pathway connecting the gut to the brain. It is in charge of reducing and turning off the ‘fight or flight’ response of the body. You can consciously activate the vagus nerve to induce inner-calm through relaxing the muscles of the face and breathing steadily in and out through the nose.

Try this:

Sitting comfortably on a chair or on a cushion, take a nice inhale through the nose and sigh out through the mouth. Do this a couple of times.

  • Settle yourself and notice your normal breath as it is in this moment.
  • Take a breath in through the nose, pause, and then exhale out through the nose, long and slow.
  • Centre yourself in the here and now, feeling the length in your spine, notice how your shoulders drop a little with each out breath.
  • Now, take a deep steady inhale through the nose, breathe down into the lower belly, feel your ribcage expand, then your chest. Stay with the pause at the top of your inhale. Then take a long deep exhale through the nose, emptying your chest, the rib area and the lower belly. Feel that sense of slowing down as you continue with this breath, softly smiling as you do so.
  • Breathe in smiling, feeling the healing, nourishing aspects of oxygen in your body. As you hold the breath for a few seconds, imagine it radiating health and nourishment inside you. Then breathe out thinking “Letting Go”, releasing all of the tension in your body through your exhale.

You can do this breathing at any point throughout the day, waiting at the train station, queuing in the supermarket, or intentionally taking the time out to do this at home or at work.

Keep smiling…..and, of course, keep breathing!

I like it, I don’t like it

We operate along gradations of I like it / I don’t like it, seeking pleasure, avoiding pain. This impacts our mood and our interactions. Our mind is always quick to judge ourselves and others and this influences our behaviour and our sense of being. Our brains can’t help producing states of desire and aversion regardless of our intentions. This can happen right this moment we can either be in some kind of neutral state, or somewhere along the I like it / I don’t like it spectrum.

Wherever we are there is an element of story telling,  we create past, present and future narratives in our minds and most of the time it is fiction. We are the protagonist of our own continuous unfolding monologue, and we must forever defend our sense of self. We are often wanting something else, not wanting what we already have, expecting something more from others and being disappointed when our expectations are not met. We didn’t like what someone said so we let it stoke a fire in us, and we can invent a story as to how this plays out if it were to happen again.

How can we can let go of this often defensive attachment to self during our day to day life? This is no easy task and takes commitment and time to tune into what is going on in our mind and our bodies, observing, noticing, reflecting, and letting go. We must be mindful not to be too harsh with ourselves, but to adopt an attitude of kindness as we cultivate a more balanced way to be.

It is a continuous ebb and flow as we let go of the narrow world of judgement and thereby slowly loosen the grip on our own self importance.

Your own Parachute

Imagine doing something that you enjoy and the more you do it the more you get better at it, and it helps you reach heights that you never thought possible? (And no, it’s not parachuting!).

Cultivating a regular yoga and meditation practice can prepare you for anything. That sounds like quite a claim but it’s true. If you can achieve a natural resting state of equanimity and emotional resilience then you are pretty much prepared for whatever comes your way.

I know because I speak from experience. A recent example is from early 2019 where I had to have an operation and undergo surgery. It is without doubt that my yoga and meditation practice helped me physically and mentally, pre and post surgery. The many years of yoga and mindfulness helped create the resilience necessary to face difficult times. Since my operation I feel that there has been a radical shift in my nervous system and consciousness, and my body has an unprecedented degree of suppleness and energy.  This is thanks to the operation itself but also to my regular practice of meditation and breathing work, all part of yoga.

Mindfulness research is showing how meditation can benefit physical health as well as mental well being and the best way to know this is to experience it for yourself.

Yoga unites the mind and the body through the breath, and that is an almost literal translation of the word. It also helps us in times of difficulty. When I did the 8 week MBCT course some years ago, the trainer said that sustained meditation practice was like weaving your own parachute, so that when the time comes when you need all the help you can muster, your parachute is ready. As Mark Williams and Danny Penman wrote in ‘Mindfulness: Finding Peace in a Frantic World’, “there’s no point in doing this when we’re falling headlong towards destruction. We have to weave our parachute every day so that it’s always there to hold us in an emergency.”

Here are two videos, one is a short guided meditation, the other one is a body scan. Both can help you in your journey to weave your own parachute:

Observe Yourself

When the mind and body are in balance it is like the ever present clear blue sky, a vast spaciousness of non-reactivity. What clouds and dulls the mind is negative mental states along the spectrum of I like it, I don’t like it. There is a craving for something or a sense of clinging to the view that if only things were different then life would be better.

Our day to day life is always in relationship to, or in relationship with, whether we are alone or with others, it is always in the plane of relating. It is how we comport to situations, people, things, that determines whether we are in balance or not. When we feel ill at ease, be it mildly or more pronounced we will feel it as tightness in the body and mind, reflected in our mental, verbal and bodily actions.

The very early sign of liking or disliking as a mental state is a feeling sensation in the body. To understand this and start to transform it is no easy task. It does however begin with awareness of that early reactive tone in the body and the voice of your mind. If we know a situation or interaction triggers us to behave in a certain way we can start to catch ourselves before we spill over into the habitual reaction. We can pause for a moment and actively choose to respond differently.

It is part of being human to be reactive and have emotions like anger, fear or jealousy, BUT we can modify or reduce the volume of these reactive states, through repeated self observation, reflection and a caring understanding attitude. Beneath all of this is the vast clear non reactive body / mind experience.

We are what we repeatedly do

We all have our positive and negative habit energies, cultivated over the course of our lives, a result of conditions and circumstances over time.

If we are aware of our negative habit energies or behaviours, then we might choose to do something about them, especially if we start to become aware of the detrimental impact on ourselves and those we interact with. The start of the process is befriending the self and becoming aware of how we act in the world, getting to know who we are from the inside out, stepping back and viewing this world of I, Me and Mine.

One way to begin is by bringing attention to the breath, even for a moment, this will set the stage for facing that moment, and the next one with greater clarity. It creates a small window to tune into the body and the mind, sensing what’s going on.

It takes practice to catch our reactions as they are emerging. Through ongoing meditation and mindfulness practice we start to lessen the hold that repetitive thought patterns can have on the mind and the body. Over time, through self observation, reflection, and self understanding, we can affect change, bit by bit, until the grip of the negative habit energy starts to loosen itself. Using the breath as an anchor in difficult moments we can create space so that instead of amplifying our reaction we can pause and choose how to respond.

The negative habit energy will not disappear completely, but overtime will reduce in volume.

As Aristotle said, we are what we repeatedly do, so let’s make the time and the effort to become the better version of ourselves.

Herinneringen

I am learning Dutch and the word herinneringen is one I came across at the weekend, I wanted to say: “memories are a funny thing”. (I didn’t get much beyond the first word, herinneringen!).

What is the memory of this summer just gone, was it a good one? What defines that?

Memories are part and parcel of the complex nature of being, some form deep emotional roots, others are so transient they evaporate. We cannot be who we are without our backlog of memory files, created moment by moment; they form and shape the narrative of our identity. Some files gets edited and re-edited as we retrieve them, talk about them,  and embellish them. The weight of those files, is either the baggage we carry on our backs, or,  the notepad that weighs very little.

Herinneringen is an interesting concept when we talk about mindfulness. Mindfulness is often interpreted as moment to moment awareness, but it is of course bound up with memory. The traditional Pali meaning of the word mindfulness (Sati), is seated somewhere in the realms of remembering, calling to mind. How we experience successions of now moments is based on the history of how we experience and interpret our life.

Think back on part of your summer, how much of what you remember and recollect truly reflects the experience? There is a tendency for the remembering self to focus on the negative aspects, even if they only constitute a small part of the overall experience.

The cultivation of mindfulness helps create memory files that are less judgemental, less prone to mental elaboration. We learn to experience  our day to day without getting caught up in the proliferating narrative and the meta narrative that ensues. This happens over time as we develop our mindfulness practice and get to know our selves better.

Herinneringen

I am learning Dutch and the word herinneringen is one I came across at the weekend, I wanted to say: “memories are a funny thing”. (I didn’t get much beyond the first word, herinneringen!).

What is the memory of this summer just gone, was it a good one? What defines that?

Memories are part and parcel of the complex nature of being, some form deep emotional roots in our being, others are so transient they evaporate into the ether. We cannot be who we are without our backlog of memory files that are being created each moment; some files gets edited and re-edited as we retrieve them, talk about them,  and embellish them. The weight of those files, is either the baggage we carry on our backs, or the notepad that weighs nothing.

Herinneringen is an interesting concept when we talk about mindfulness. Minfulness is often interpreted as moment to moment awareness, but it is of course bound up with memory. How we experience successions of now moments is based on the history of how we experience our lives and how we recollect those experiences, what emotions and embellishments we attach to them.

The cultivation of mindfulness helps create memory files that are less judgmental, less prone to mental elaboration. We learn to experience  our day to day without getting caught up in the proliferating narrative and the meta narrative that ensues. Heed the remembering self through experiencing moment to moment life without the negative bias that can be the rod of the remembering self.

 

Reviews

I became more in touch with my feelings

After some years of postponing the decision to take yoga classes I finally decided to go for weekly private classes with Satty. My initial thought was to improve my flexibility for running, but because of the meditation part I also gradually became better in touch with my feelings, stimulating me to follow a path of personal growth. Satty is very mindful of my needs, her tea is delicious and we also have a lot of fun and good conversations (in English). I would really recommend Satty as a yoga teacher and she’s a wonderful person as well.

Luc

Het is een moment in de week die mij op de been houdt in de hectiek van de rest van die week

Al jaren yogalessen uitgesteld, af en toe wat uitgeprobeerd, maar dat bleek iedere keer niks. Ondanks de ontmoediging toch weer geprobeerd en contact gelegd met Satty. Een wereld ging voor me open! Yogalessen kunnen dus toch fijn en bemoedigend zijn. Zelfs gezellig, haha.

Het verwondert me iedere keer weer hoe goed Satty weet aan te voelen wat ik nodig heb en soepel weet haar programma aan te passen. Het is heel makkelijk open te zijn bij haar, maar ze is zeker niet soft! Ze laat je gewoon ploeteren, maar altijd op een leuke en ongedwongen manier en met veel humor! Van begin tot eind zet ze alles in voor jou. Dat is een gave. Het is een moment in de week die mij op de been houdt in de hectiek van de rest van die week.

Jet

It’s been life changing for me

Fab vinyasa flow sessions with SattyYoga. Satty’s zoom classes are in English so if any UK or US, or bilingual friends or family want to join, I would highly recommend Satty for yoga, it’s been life changing for me. Years of dodgy knees and multiple operations meant I was sore, stiff and in pain, now I can sit cross legged, kneel, stand on 1 leg and basically am fitter than I was in my 30s. Yoga for life now 🙂

Clare

Satty has made me connect with myself physically and mentally

I had the opportunity to introduce myself to yoga thanks to Satty yoga/meditation/stretching classes that she offered through the lockdown. Satty has made me connect with myself physically and mentally. She makes this amazing connection with people and transports you into a peaceful and quiet time with yourself but also she can take you through exercises to work parts of your body that need stretch and care. Also Satty makes me smile and when an instructor makes you smile in a relaxing way for me is that is a sign of joy.

Maria

I seriously love working out with Satty!

Satty designs workouts for every level. In my case I really like to be challenged at an advanced level. In a regular class she stills knows how to personalise exercises and focus on what is needed. For me she designs total mind-body classes which combine strengthening and stretching poses.

Satty challenges me to vigorously wring out my body and restore its balance with deep breathing and meditation. Feeling great and grounded afterwards. It’s not only the workout why I joined yoga with Satty. It’s also her style of teaching and the small classes.

The combination of a qualified professional with lots of humor and really easy going, who can explain the mechanics of the poses and what they entail is really valuable to me. And sometimes I do bring my kids (primary school age) along for a private class. They love it … Already looking forward to my next class:)

Maaike

Satty has a really good sense to feel what I need during the class

Last year I was looking for a yoga class. After studying Satty’s website I felt I needed to join a class.

After about a half year taking classes on and off I was looking for more regularity in my practice. And I prefer them doing 1 to 1 so I started with private sessions.

Due to the regularity and the private sessions soon I felt the benefits of yoga. The combination of meditation awareness and building strength was what I was looking for and something I really needed. Satty has a really good sense to feel what I need during the class.

Through her experience of yoga, she knows how to manage her classes and how to adjust them last minute according to needs / requirements during the class. Her adjustments of the yoga poses are always clear and make you aware of your body and how to improve your poses.

I really enjoy the classes with Satty and I feel so much more grounded.

Lisa

Satty has helped in providing new techniques to address and work through certain emotions and thought patterns

I’ve been attending Satty’s yoga classes regularly since October 2017 and have joined 2 workshops since.

In my experience, the workshops offer a warm, safe place to explore certain emotions and thought patterns that are triggered in our minds and our bodies.  Satty has helped in providing new techniques to address and work through those patterns – for example through journaling, meditating and certain breathing techniques.  This has helped me in embracing the positive and learning to better respond rather than react to the negative, so thank you Satty for helping me find peace in the chaos.

Ruba

Satty bouwt haar lessen zorgvuldig op en doet dat op een heel plezierige manier

De drempel om naar yoga te gaan was hoog voor mij. Ik had eerder al wat ervaring opgedaan in yoga klasjes waar ik mij als man altijd wat verloren en houterig voelde. Daarom ben ik blij dat ik nu samen met mijn echtgenote privéles krijg van Satty. Zij past haar lessen aan aan jouw niveau en gaandeweg ervaar ik, naast steeds meer plezier in yoga, ook de progressie. Satty bouwt haar lessen zorgvuldig op en doet dat op een heel plezierige manier. Ik voel mij tijdens haar lessen helemaal comfortabel, ondanks dat mijn lichaam behoorlijk uitgedaagd wordt. Satty heeft daarnaast ook een goed gevoel voor humor, gewoon een fijn mens. Aanbevolen!

Leo

Satty’s training in mindfulness, alongside yoga, makes her sessions particularly valuable in these busy and stressful times

I have just completed 6 months of one-to-one yoga practice with Satty, with the aim of strengthening my core muscles in preparation for the London Marathon. I was keen to learn the basics of yoga in a one-to-one setting, rather than a class, and to understand its benefits from a mind and body perspective.
I would highly recommend Satty’s teaching to everyone. I found her sessions both relaxing and energising, giving me clear space and time in my head to relax, while my body felt stretched, strengthened and energised. It was extremely useful for my running, giving me stronger muscles and greater flexibility; and extremely beneficial mentally, to slow me down and give me much needed me-time. Satty’s training in mindfulness, alongside yoga, makes her sessions particularly valuable in these busy and stressful times.
Jo

Satty’s yoga sessions were varied and interesting and I never felt bored

When I started my Yoga with Satty I was quite specific that I wanted to do some stretching exercises to keep me supple, I also wanted to include some mindfulness and relaxation in our sessions to combat stress and anxiety.

It was gratifying to find Satty listened to what I wanted, and at each session she presented a variety of exercises to meet my needs and experience. She was enthusiastic at my progress, whilst always being encouraging to push myself a little bit further.

Because our sessions were varied and interesting I never felt bored, and always felt Satty had given our session some thought, and followed my exact requirements at all times.

She loved my cats too, so that was a bonus, as one day one of them joined in our session! I have no hesitation in recommending Satty’s yoga sessions.

Carmel

I arrive every week with my mind racing from the day’s events and within 15 minutes I can feel a calmness and clarity that wasn’t there before

If I’m honest I was sceptical as to whether yoga was for me but thought I’d give it a go 5 months ago. It has been a fantastic experience. What works for me is the combination of yoga and mindfulness as I get the benefit of not just feeling physically stronger from the yoga training but mentally calmer after every lesson. I arrive every week with my mind racing from the day’s events and within 15 minutes I can feel a calmness and clarity that wasn’t there before. Satty has a fantastic gift in teaching both aspects, is great fun and the classes never get stale as she introduces new ideas and new challenges to keep my body and mind “softly smiling”!
Kevin

Satty is patient, very knowledgeable and hugely respectful of my abilities; she’s also great fun!

I have been taking yoga lessons with Satty since the start of 2016 and I can wholeheartedly recommend her 1:1 classes.
I was a complete yoga novice and took it up to help with shoulder pain and all round fitness. I can honestly say that I have noticed a marked improvement in both areas.
Satty is patient, very knowledgeable and hugely respectful of my abilities; she’s also great fun!
Ana

Satty is incredibly supportive going at a pace that is just right for me

“Over the last few months Satty has been helping me develop my yoga practice, so that I am able to further develop my skill within the class and practice at home. Satty is incredibly supportive going at a pace that is just right for me. I’m not let off the hook either as each time we meet Satty tactfully enables me to extend my stretches and poses.
Already I am feeling the benefits. My feet feel more connected to the ground that I walk on. I find that although the stresses and strains of a busy modern life don’t disappear at work or home, I am now better placed to respond in a calmer and more mindful way.”
Melanie

Satty’s enthusiasm and passion for yoga really shows through in her classes

I have thoroughly enjoyed learning and developing my yoga practise with Satty. She is a very knowledgeable teacher and is great at gauging ability and adapting to suit. Satty’s enthusiasm and passion for yoga really shows through in her classes and I always come away after a class feeling invigorated, energised and satisfied. Thanks Satty!

Mez