Jade Lizzie

Sharing the yoga love

Month: July 2015

Breatharianism, chanting and pesto…

DSC_0243~2Learning to appreciate the little things at Moinhos Velhos…

I’ve reached the end of my time teaching yoga at the detox retreat, and it’s been an incredible experience. I must admit it didn’t start so well though…

My first meal was uncomfortable. There were only two of us at the staff lunch, myself and another yoga teacher, who explained to me, “Before we eat we hold hands and chant a prayer.”  I laughed in his face.

“Are you joking?” He wasn’t. Awkward doesn’t even begin to describe the experience of trying to recover from that, hold hands, and chant a prayer I didn’t know.

Things went from bad to worse at dinner time, when they explained to me that one of the founders of the place had just been on a programme to learn how to be a breatharian. For those like me who have never heard of this before, a breatharian is someone so uber-spiritual that they exist only on light and air. No food, sometimes no water. With impressive self-control, I resisted the urge to tell them that breatharianism sounded like a synonym for bullshit.

Thankfully, the team forgave my heathen lack of spirituality and let me stay. During those first few strange days where everything felt alien and I didn’t know what the hell I was doing, I found myself really appreciating the little things that did go well.

After 2 days of getting everything wrong with juicing and washing up (who knew there were so many ways you could go wrong there?!) my supervisor handed me a glass of fresh watermelon juice and barked, “You can drink this.” I almost fainted with shock at the sudden kindness.

Then a client stopped me after my first yoga class to tell me that she’d loved it. I found a beautiful walk that I could do in 30 minutes which was exactly the length of time I had between finishing clearing up and making lunch. I got to teach at 8am in the morning when it was still cool enough to enjoy a proper yoga practice without the room turning into a complete sweat box. Another volunteer made the best vegan pesto imaginable with fresh basil from the garden. I discovered the joys of pesto on toast for breakfast.

Even the mosquitos made me appreciate things more. After three nights of sleep disturbed by their horrible, “Eeeeeeeeee,” noise, getting insect repellent and a mosquito net felt like the equivalent of being upgraded to business class on a flight. And I discovered that a true friend is someone who not only will stay awake to help you find the mosquito that’s driving you crazy, but will also kill the one that has found its way inside your net (thanks Laura!).

The more I appreciated the little things, the more I found myself open to the benefits of the bigger things. I met people who were passionate about yoga, permaculture, alternative therapies and nutrition, and learnt from them all. And the experience I gained teaching yoga to the same group consistently was so valuable.

So all in all I feel very lucky to have been able to work and learn in this gorgeous place. Just don’t ask me to convert to breatharianism, or start chanting before meals anytime soon…

The flipside of positive thinking

Why maybe it’s okay not to like stuff…

11143479_10101215361562849_8306339481437872885_nFor about three years I ate prawns for dinner at least three times per week. That’s not so strange you might think, except that I don’t like prawns. I’ve never liked prawns, or any other seafood for that matter. There’s something about the texture, a squeakiness, that repulses me. So why would I eat something that I didn’t like?

Partly because at some point I got it into my head that there was nothing I did not like. That any negativity was just a thought, and that I could tackle that by simply deciding to think positive things instead.

I’ve applied this to lots of areas of my life and it’s been fairly successful. Marking huge piles of books became far more bearable when I told myself I loved reading student’s writing. Attempting a difficult yoga posture became a more positive experience when I decided that I enjoyed the challenge. Terrifying first dates were a lot more fun when I decided to love the awkwardness and embrace it, knowing that the worse things went, the more entertaining the stories would be afterwards.

But I’ve realised recently that it’s okay sometimes just not to like things. I’ve been teaching yoga at Moinhos Velhos, a beautiful retreat centre in Portugal, and I’ve had the chance to try out loads of amazing new things. Most of these I’ve loved – great meditations, yoga practices, vegan recipes. But there was one night I was talked into trying Biodanza. This is a practice of self development through music and dance. The idea is that as you progress through the practice, dancing and moving with people, you get in touch with your emotions, and feel a deeper sense of connectedness to others.

The lovely teacher assured us that although it might feel strange at first, that would quickly disappear. We’d feel completely relaxed and lose all our inhibitions. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, this never happened for me. The practise that was meant to leave me with “reduced stress and an enhanced sense of wellbeing” left me cold. All I wanted to do was run away. It was a feat of endurance not to fake a headache/ upset stomach/ broken leg and leave. I don’t entirely know why it didn’t work for me – I love dancing and I’ve had a great time at a (sober!) yoga rave before. But I just didn’t like it.

Afterwards I felt frustrated with myself. I wanted to like it. I wanted to find the positive, but all I could think was, “I’m glad I tried it, so that I know not to again.” But I realised maybe that’s okay. Maybe it’s alright to dislike things sometimes. We all have individual preferences. Yes, there are some things that we need to do, and they’re a lot more pleasant if we find things about them to like. But there are some things that just aren’t our preference. And that’s okay too.

So why did I eat prawns for so many years? I was in a relationship with someone who loved them, and it was easier just to tell myself I liked them than cook separate meals. When the relationship ended, one of the many unexpected positives was realising I could stop eating prawns. My travels have become as much about working out what doesn’t work for me as learning about what does, and that’s all valuable. So I’m making a promise to myself now to remember that as long as I am open to new experiences, it’s okay for me not to like stuff.

And I’m genuinely excited about the prospect of never having to do Biodanza or eat prawns again…

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