I am writing this on the really first frosty day this year, and wow you can see from this pic what a beautiful morning it was.
I took the doggies out early and had the field near where I live to myself, and watched the sun come up. Fresh and crisp, cold and sunny. Just how an Autumn day should be.
In fact, in this newsletter, I will share some reflections on how I seem to be changing from an Autumnophobe (made up word!) in to a bit of an Autumn lover, and maybe it’s my age (?!) but I honestly never thought that would happen. More on that later…
Also in this newsletter, my comments on the article in the BBC news this week about yoga being bad for you, and causing injury. Hmmm, I have something to say about that!
And also a focus on the joys of dancing, how it’s so good for the body and soul, and how it can be a really fun way to get fit – and why I ain’t hanging my aerobics trainers up just yet!
Firstly, I want to share an interesting shift I’ve experienced in myself, I wonder if it resonates with any of you and if you have maybe had similar shifts in perspective like this? I’m reflecting on how this stuff feeds in to our overall well-being, our sense of self-care and of course how that translates in to our fitness lives.
I have always loved Summer – the warmth, the holidays and the sense of relaxing and having fun. I’ve also always loved Spring and it’s gift of the anticipation of Summer. In the past, Autumn has always made me sad – it somehow felt like an ending, and a sad ending at that. I resented the darker evenings and the cold, and what I always thought was the end of all the fun.
I never really thought about these feelings consciously, until I started to teach Yoga, and spent some time looking at the fifth of the Yoga Yamas (the moral guidelines for life in Yoga), which is called Aparigraha – which means non-attachment, non-clinging, non-possessiveness, non-grasping, non-coveting – it kind of means in a broad sense “letting go”. Letting go of what we think things should or could be, or how we think we would feel if things could be different.
This can apply to the small stuff in life to the really big things like relationships and careers. Aparigraha is about not being defined by a goal and not being attached to it – “If only I could have that job back, I’d be happy”, or “if only I had taken that opportunity years ago, I would have been happy now” or even “If I achieve X, I will be happy”. The list could go on forever.
As I’ve been reflecting on what this means, and how it relates to me in my life, it’s had quite a profound effect. As we shifted in to Autumn this year, I became aware of the familiar old negative feelings arising in me. And as I pondered it a bit deeper, I realised the futility of the feeling. Would it bring summer back? No. Why was I choosing to waste my energy on something which is completely and utterly pointless? And I felt a release, a shift. And guess what? Autumn itself showed me how to do it, and all of a sudden I fell a little bit in love with it, seeing its wisdom and its beauty.
In tandem with nature, we all let go of things, all the time. Sometimes because we choose to, and sometimes because we have to. I think that seeing nature and trees just letting go of leaves when the time is right highlighted to me other areas in my life where I cling on, hang on, won’t let go. These are things I’m working on now, it’s a process isn’t it?
And it’s helped me with areas in my life where I have had to let go because I have no choice – like the summer and a son leaving to go to university this year – the letting go of the family unit as I knew it, and how I wanted it to stay. (This is still a work in progress, by the way!)
Letting go makes space for new feelings, in particular feelings of gratitude – it’s so much nicer to be able to accept the present moment, and look back with gratitude, and to be able to start to look forward and embrace what is coming, whatever that is, with an open mind.
How does this translate in to your fitness life? I think it has potential to do that in several ways. I was poorly last week and I had to accept it and let go of a (totally irrational) belief that illness is wrong / to be avoided / bad etc. I know, right? Aren’t we hard on ourselves sometimes?!
When we have an injury – and I’m guessing that we have all had one at some point or another – it’s so easy to feel angry and frustrated, and sometimes to feel like giving up on fitness. Of course, we are all human, we are going to feel that to an extent. But if we can move towards acceptance, and letting go of the fitness levels we “could” or “should” have been at, and accept where we are and have faith in our body’s miraculous healing abilities, that’s actually an easier place to be.
Some of us were born to touch our toes, bend backwards, or do the splits. Others (me included!), weren’t born to be able to do all these things.
Sometimes at a basic physiological level, our bodies will never be able to do something we want it to do. So why do we set unrealistic goals? Why do we self-beat and compare ourselves to others? That just kills our confidence and self-belief.
Simply becoming aware of these feelings when they arise, can really help us let them go.
Following on from this, did you see the news this week about yoga being bad for you an causing injury? You can see an example of one in the article below:
If you read these articles carefully, you will see that when you get beyond the headline, the article is actually saying that people who push too hard in yoga are getting hurt – the ones who don’t know their limits. And I guess there could be some teachers encouraging this out there (definitely not at JCW Fitness!)
Check out the woman in the top right of this picture – I’m guessing she is possibly attached to a goal which is unrealistic for her – and it doesn’t look healthy for her right now!
Seriously though, that article could just as easily say “humans cause themselves harm when they push themselves too far and have unrealistic goals” and that could be yoga, or anything in life, including emotional stuff as well as the physical.
Whether or not you practice yoga, the principles yoga teaches us can apply to us all. The very first moral guideline of yoga (the first Yama) is called “Ahimsa” and it means to do no harm. And that means first and foremost to ourselves, and then to others. The second Yama is “Satya” which means truth. So if we stay in truth (what can our bodies reasonably and realistically do?) and we apply Ahimsa (self compassion and non-harming), and we put that together with Aparigraha (non attachment to goals), I would argue that it’s highly unlikely that yoga (or whatever exercise you choose to do) is going to do you any harm.
This is the lovely Dionne, who teaches Zumba Dance Fit, Dance Fit & Tone, Fit Toned & Fab and also Ball classes for us at JCW Fitness. Her classes are really popular because they are super effective and a really great workout, but also genuinely really good fun too. You can catch her regularly on Monday evenings, Wednesday and Thursday mornings, plus Wednesday evenings too. Check out the fun Thursday morning class in action here.
If you’ve been thinking about trying a dance fit class, then why not grab your trainers and come on down and just give it a go?
We have also got Friday and Sunday mornings with lovely Gemma, and my Saturday morning Dance Fit Tone which always starts the week-end off right!
Dancing is good for the soul, it lifts the mood and spirit, it’s fun and it gets you fit too.