My Big Hairy Audacious Goals for 2013

I watched a show on TV last night, Derren Brown’s ‘Apocalypse’. Mr Brown is a hypnotist who takes on the task of creating an end of world experience for one lazy, unappreciative Brit, in the hope that the loss he feels for his friends, family and opportunities will help him to realise how valuable this life is. In the opening sequence he asks ‘If the world were to end today would you be happy with the life you’ve lived, or did you just watch it pass you by?’

Inspired by my friend jordanmychal.com, I’ve decided to post my goals for 2013, month-by-month:

January – I finish reading Atlas Shrugged

February – I complete mine and Aaron’s tax returns

March – I become the new QLD lululemon community connector

April – I refinance our debts, to 2 credit cards and a standard variable home loan

May – I start the application process to study biomechanics and functional anatomy at university

June – I attend the Landmark Forum

July – I plant my veggie patch

August – I plan an amazing hen’s night for Lauren

September – I do Reiki level 1 training

October – I am harvesting my first veggies and cooking dinner 5 nights per week.

November – I can drop back into urdhva dhanurasana and am beginning to work on coming back up.

December – I host a traditional Christmas dinner in our new home. 

What does 2013 have in store for you? 

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President Obamas armour-plated car The Beast is scuppered by a ramp in Ireland: Lets hope it doesnt hit any in London | Mail Online

President Obamas armour-plated car The Beast is scuppered by a ramp in Ireland: Lets hope it doesnt hit any in London | Mail Online.

 

Well ain’t this just something.

Elevating the world with Yoga Aid

Can you remember why you first started practicing yoga? Trying to touch your toes perhaps? Wanted a cute butt to put in those stretchy lululemon pants? Maybe your mind was racing a million miles an hour and you just needed to slow down. All in all though, you started your yoga practice for you, right? I sure did, depressed, anxious, unmotivated and tired, I needed something for me, to nurture and nourish my spirit. I got that and a whole lot more, and along the way I learned about karma yoga. Karma yoga is the yoga of action, without attachment to the outcome. Ultimately what that means is that we act for the good of all beings, without defining our worth based on how perceivably successful or unsuccessful our action is. One way to bring this concept to our yoga practice is to dedicate our efforts to someone who needs a yoga practice, but is unable to come to the mat for one reason or another.

This year I will be leading a section of the Yoga Aid Challenge, here in Brisbane’s Roma Street Parklands on Saturday, the 12th of November. The challenge raises funds to support a number of charities, mine is the Nelune Foundation supporting public health system cancer patients, bringing them emotional, psychological and physical support. At this event hundreds of yogis come together to dedicate their practice to something bigger than themselves, to offer the beauty of their practice to inspire and support others.

Register for the Yoga Aid Challenge here: www.yogaaid.com. Remember to join the Ten Toes Yoga & Natural Health team!

If you are unable to join us please support the Ten Toes Yoga & Natural Health team, our goal is to raise $1000. You can sponsor us by clicking here: http://yogaaid.com/alisonsykes

Shorts, sun, salutations…….oh yes it’s Spring!!!!

Spring is here!!!!!! Yeeeeeehaaaaaaa! Friends of mine know it’s no secret, I am definitely solar powered and my energy levels go through the roof once those short shorts are wearable again. Every spring I am reminded of a story my teacher Julie shared at one of the first classes of hers I attended. I’m going to do my best to recount it to you here, so sorry if I embellish anything Julie!

I was flying into Sydney and I noticed all these beautiful purple flowers on the trees. I asked my husband what they were (Julie is American) and he told me they were Jacarandas. All winter they had been these barren bare grey sticks, and all of a sudden, one day, boom! Purple magnificence. It occurred to me that these trees had spent the winter waiting for this moment, when the sun’s warm rays signal that it’s time to bloom. Everything comes from darkness. Babies wait in their mother’s womb for the moment of birth, tiny seeds huddle in the ground waiting to sprout and stretch for the sky. In the practice of Anusara yoga we call this “Root to Rise” (never translates well in Oz, but get over your sniggering guys, you know what she means). The strength of your foundation informs the freedom of your ability to stretch, grow, reach and expand. When you trust Earth, she gives you the stability to experience your freedom at its fullest. 

Admittedly Jacarandas tend to bloom in November, but the principle always rings true for me when the world explodes with enthusiasm, transforming from a period of introspection.

So that’s it in a nutshell, paraphrased to the best of my ability. Julie’s teaching has helped me to tune into the flow, the rhythm of nature, to realise that winter isn’t bad, it’s just winter. Darkness is just as important as light, it helps us to develop the strength we need to share our radiance with the world in all its glory.

Find out more about Julie’s classes here: http://www.shriyoga.com.au

Brisbane's Jacaranda Trees

The beautiful purple flowers that inspired my teacher Julie

Sattva Seeker

This weekend I had the privilege of being in the presence of Swami Govindananda. Swamiji is one of those teachers that you know lives his truth, simply by being in his presence you feel more calm, clear and settled. To be honest I always feel a little nervous when I’m with teachers like Swamiji, as though they can look right through you with their x-ray super powers and see straight into the deepest, darkest corners of your psyche.

Swamiji asked us to consider the three gunas (qualities of being), sattva, rajas, and tamas. Sattva’s colour is white full of clarity and purity. Rajas is fiery red, driving desire and unsettledness. Tamas is black, stagnant, slow and unmoving. We are always a combination of all three gunas, but ultimately we are striving to settle in sattva. Maybe today you feel anxious, fidgety, nothing’s working out. Your percentage of rajas is going to be higher. We all have those time when tamas dominates our being, where we just can’t seem to get going, we feel heavy and lethargic. And when we come to sattva we feel clear, steady, open-hearted and expansive.

Find out more about the three gunas here: http://www.yogajournal.com/wisdom/1629

Swamiji also asked us to contemplate the flow of thoughts through our minds. When your clothing catches fire, you don’t say to the person beside you ‘Gee, I’m feeling a bit like I’m burning here, I wonder how I should manage this?’. No, you put that fire out straight away. Yet when our mind catches fire with anger or resentment we sit with it, let it burn, light other people on fire too and wonder why we feel injured. So here’s my burning question (geddit?). How do you put your mental fires out? What douses the flame of negativity in your mind? Consider this. Imagine each time you think a hurtful thought, you take a safety pin and stick it deep into your arm. Sounds crazy, right? Well that’s essentially what we do to our spirit when we follow the stories in our minds. So stop pricking yourself! Catch those moments of anger, jealousy and self doubt and fill your mind and heart with gratitude, affirmations and love.

Find out more about Swamiji here: http://ji-living.com/

Swami Govindananda

Swami Govindananda

The Yoga of Tax

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I’m sure it’s not as bad as it looks………….

Today’s mission: Complete Your Tax Return. Thrilling stuff eh? I’m going to be totally honest here, I avoid doing my tax like the plague. And I REALLY don’t know why. It’s not hard, I have my MYOB all set up, all I have to do is find the receipts and type a few details in, and voila! The tax is done. But I will come up with any excuse to avoid it (blogging, anyone?).

And this might be surprising to you, considering my vocation, but I do this with my yoga practice sometimes too. I’m too tired, it’s boring (well, sometimes it is!), my knee hurts, it’s too far to go to class. I can create so many stories around why my butt should be on the couch and not on the mat. And then when I finally kick that butt off the couch and get on my mat, or pull my finger out and DO my tax, I feel so much better. My body feels more free, my mind is more clear, my inbox is empty, my finances are ordered, though sometimes I have to face the fact that the bank balance isn’t as healthy as I would like, or that advanced pose I’m working on might actually be a little harder today than it was yesterday.

When I was training to teach postnatal yoga I learnt about a very valuable style of practice: snack yoga. When you have a little baby, chances are you’re not going to get 1 hour to do your practice every day. So you break it up into snacks, 5 mins here, 5 minutes there, doing what you can when you can. I’m going to start doing snack tax, receipts inputted every day, invoices straight into MYOB when they’re emailed. This is my resolve, and you are all going to hold me to it, right?

Today my yoga practice IS my tax. I’m putting on some mantra music (oh yeah, sing it Krishna Das!), and paying each receipt the same attention I would pay my asana practice. Sure there’ll be times I want to give up, go have a coffee and say, ‘tomorrow I’ll finish’, but today is the day.

Here’s your homework. What are you putting off until tomorrow? Can you break that task up into snacks, or do you need to turn off your phone for just one day and get it done. Meditate on how amazing you will feel when it’s finished. I promise it will be so much easier than you think, just keep going til you get there.

A x

Possibilities

So I’m still pinching myself that I was invited to lululemon athletica’s Ambassador Summit in Broome, WA. What an amazing event, 3 days of self-development including goal setting, building your brand, creating declarations and so much more.

We were told very little about what to expect before we left, we all figured there’d be yoga at the least, but other than that the possibilities were endless! Having worked for lululemon in the past I was somewhat aware that we’d be working on creating a vision for our future and setting goals that bring us closer to that vision. I had no idea just how profound the experience would be.

The biggest shift I had was during a visualisation with Rob Martell. We were asked to imagine our lives 10 years from now. Where would I live? How many children would I have? What will I have for breakfast? Who are my friends? It was during this exercise that I realized my work played a very small role in the image I was picturing, and what matters most to me is creating a beautiful home to share with my family.

The thing is, until now I’ve been so committed to my path as a yoga teacher that I was only entertaining the future that has me owning my own studio, running teacher trainings and traveling for workshops and so on. And I’ve been almost militant with my husband, if it doesn’t fit that picture, we’re not doing it. The problem with this attitude is that it rules out ALL the other possibilities, including any of my husband’s visions that take him closer to his best self.

So here’s my commitment. I am going to embrace all the magical experiences life has to offer me, and my family. Maybe I’ll have a career, maybe I won’t. Maybe we’ll travel overseas, maybe we won’t. I can’t control the future, or change the past. The only place I have power is in the present. I can make choices that take me closer to the life I want to lead, but who knows if that is where I will want to be in 10 years? This has always been my problem with goal setting, what if I change my mind? But now I realise all I’m doing is setting one set of possibilities in motion, and if at any point I decide that path isn’t for me, I simply change direction. I don’t fail if I decide a goal isn’t the right one for me, it’s just not right.

So the first step on my current path is to write down my vision, and I’m going to keep a copy on my iPhone (the love of my life, but that’s a whole other story), so I can read it any time I’m uncertain.

Find out more about goal setting here: Create YOUR vision.