Spread the word

When originally thinking about starting this blog I thought about the things I wanted to talk about and share with others. As yoga was the main reason I wanted to start it up, I naturally thought, it can be a place to document my learning process, progress and other yoga related things. However, I sat there and thought, well it’s my journey which not only includes yoga. It’s about other things that affect me, help me grow and learn, too.

I love animals. I love wildlife and I am concerned with the fact that the Earth needs saving. One thing I thought might be another way in which to use my blog is to research any stories, news or information that might be interesting or amazing or heartwarming or maybe just something that needs more attention and share it via the blog. There are perhaps many occasions where love, kindness or maybe hurtfulness happens yet the message isn’t spread. As I’m sure many of you know, global warming is increasingly becoming a higher issue for the world and its inhabitants, but do we all know how it directly affects things? Many photographers are able to catch images of starving polar bears, marine biologists tell us about how sharks and other fish are endangered and how this can and will massively affect us and the people of the future. But, what can we do? How can we help? Many people recycle, many people make good choices on where they buy their food from and what they eat but I think sometimes just being more aware can help.
This is also a way for me to share my passions and if it helps spread awareness even to one person then to me, that’s great.

So, just in summary, I plan to post about something different, interesting or amazing every once in a while and see how that goes. If there are any topics you would like to see more light given to then please, let me know!

Thanks for Reading, stay tuned for the first “Spread the Word” post!

Maria

❤️

My Travels to: Rye

At the start of December 2017, I visited the English town of Rye. It’s around 2 hours outside of London, towards the south-east of England.

Fun fact about me, I love old buildings. I’ve never studied architecture so I don’t know much about the different styles of buildings that are out there. But I did a quick Google search and here are three that I like: Victorian, Gothic and Romanesque architecture. I can’t really explain why I like them. I just love how they look.

Rye has beautiful cobbled streets and timbered, historic housing (another old style I like). It’s a really homely place, there are loads of quirky shops, and all the people were really friendly. Another fun fact, I love sweets. And Rye has a few lovely, classic old sweet shops where you have the walls lined with tubs of different sweets. I went there with my boyfriend and we went to a great restaurant for dinner. If you ever go to Rye, I highly recommend the restaurant “Hoof.” The staff were lovely, the food was delicious and it had a lovely wood fireplace in it to keep us warm as we ate. Have a look below:

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What can you do there?

So other than going into quirky shops and buying sweets there are other things that you can get up to. For example, the Rye Heritage centre has loads of information leaflets and advice on what to see and do. It also has Rye – specific souvenirs like locally made honey, rock, shortbread etc. It also has a lovely mini version of Rye (photographed below) that I thought was great. There’s a large church there that has big traditional church bells and you can pay to go up the top to see the bell tower and you can climb up to the roof to almost see all of Rye. I’d definitely recommend doing that. Also, close by there is Rye Castle, Camber Castle, Camber Sands (a really pretty beach), and a bit further out to Rye harbour there is also a nature reserve there that you can visit.

Overall, if you’d like a mini- break somewhere, Rye is a really nice place to go, and I’d definitely recommend going there if you can.

 

5 Ways to Use a Yoga Wheel

In a previous post “Yoga Props! What they are and how they can help” I gave a bit of information on different yoga props that exist and I spoke a bit about the yoga wheel. Click here to read more.

What is a yoga wheel?
Basically, a yoga wheel can be made out of different things but ultimately they are made out of PVC, others out of other blends of plastic and other materials. The purpose of the wheel is to be strong enough to support your weight in many different poses and positions. It’s a great way to change and challenge your practice, it especially helps you work on your balance!

What can it be used for?
Like other yoga props out there, the yoga wheel is there to support you in poses that you maybe can’t yet fully do and perhaps allow you to push yourself further in poses you can do.

5 Ways to use the wheel!

  1. To open up your chest and shoulders
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  2. To support you in difficult poses e.g. backbends like kapotasana
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  3. To steady your forearm stands
    Place the wheel between your hands and go into the forearm stand as normal. I don’t personally use my wheel this way, but it works for many people.
  4. To mix up your workouts & core workouts
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    This is just a funky way to include the wheel in a core workout. You’re still doing the crunch but the added weight of the wheel and the act of moving it back and forth is a way to engage your mind a little more.
  5. Practicing handstands and handstand presses20180205_131146_1

This core work also makes your arms and hands become used to supporting your body’s full weight. Also building the core strength here is a great way to prepare for handstands and handstand press as these are the main muscles that will be used.

Thanks for reading, I hope this has helped give you more of an insight into how to use your yoga wheel!

Don’t forget to check back with me weekly for new posts and click the follow button to subscribe!

Maria

❤️

Goals: 2018

In one of my previous posts, “Resolutions”, I talked a bit about making goals/resolutions for the new year and how to perhaps make those goals a bit more attainable and manageable. Click here if you want to have a read. 

Today I’m going to discuss a bit about certain goals I’m making for myself this year and I’m going to show you how I’m planning on making them more manageable, measurable and therefore a bit more attainable. In order to make it a bit more focused I’m just going to give a more detailed insight into my fitness goals for 2018.

Goal one: Be Stronger
So being “strong” can mean so many things to different people. Do I mean it in the physical sense? Do I mean being more emotionally strong? I’ll break it down for you here with a few mini- goals:

  1. Increase arm strength
    I will do this by:
    Lifting my weights as often as possible (try to lift at least 4 times a week- mini goal)Increase amount of reps.
    I recommend setting mini goals for stuff like this so, currently for me, my dumbbells are 4kg each and at the moment I can only do about 10 bicep curls to overhead presses. My mini goal is to increase that to 20 reps in 3 weeks. So, what I’ll do is look at today’s date on my calendar, count exactly 3 weeks and write in the calendar/diary that my goal is to achieve that by that date. Having a closer deadline makes the goal a bit more real and will, therefore, help you focus more. Once you nail that deadline, increase the goal. Maybe I’ll go up to 35 reps in the next 3 weeks after that and keep going.
  2. Increase Core Strength
    Incorporate core work into yoga practice e.g. chaturanga holdsDo core work at least 3 times a week
  3. Do proper workouts
    By this, I mean proper HIIT / Cardio/ interval training workouts. I also have DVDs like P90X and T25 that I have loved in the past that I just really need to get into the good practice of doing again. One thing that has held me back from these workouts is the problem I have with my knees. However, I’ve had them X- rayed and just need to know the results and how to go forward with healing them and making sure I don’t have problems with them again. Once the knees are good I’m going to try to incorporate, for example, three sessions of T25 a week to then increase eventually to 5.

Goal two: Increase my yoga practice time

This goal is slightly more straightforward but can be split up. So I can sit here and say, in a week, how much time do I spend practising yoga? Let’s take an example from a bad week. So, on a worse week, maybe because I have deadlines for uni or other stuff going on, for example. Therefore, I might only spend an hour that week, maybe from three 20 minute sessions throughout the week. In order to increase that, my mini goal will be:

1. Increase yoga practice to at least an hour and a half each week.

If I must, that can be 3 half an hour sessions or maybe one full hour and one half. In my mind, if I increase it just a little and start to make time for yoga, then slowly it’ll be easier to make more time and then my overall practice per week can be much longer. For me, it would be harder to go from doing yoga for an hour a week to an hour a day straight away.

2. Practice more of a variety of poses and work on my weaknesses e.g. forearm stands, handstands, hip openers, etc.

The beauty of these two goals is that they overlap. So as I increase my overall body strength with goal one “be stronger”, this will also improve the quality of my increased yoga practice for goal two. This is because, with more core and arm strength I will be more comfortable holding myself in difficult poses such as handstand, Firefly and other poses that I’ve never been able to do before, while also aiding my practice overall. By the end of this year, one thing I’d love to be able to do is to hold a handstand for at least 10 seconds. It doesn’t seem like that much of a long time, but right now I can only hold it for about 2 seconds so it would be a great improvement. I’d be over the moon if I could nail that goal throughout the year and hold it for even longer at the end of 2018. Just gotta make sure I keep up with my current goals and I’m sure it will happen!

If you would like to talk a bit more about making goals a bit more manageable or just breaking them down feel free to get in contact! Comment on this post and alternatively, you can follow me / DM me on Instagram @yogajourneybymaria

I hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s post, please check back with me next week for more new content!

Thanks for reading,

Maria

❤️

 

Meditation

I feel like there’s a lot of negative views of meditation out there and for a lot of people, if you mention it they’re like no I’m not going to sit there and say “ommmm”. “It’s stupid” is another thing I’ve heard. Why is this? Not only people practising yoga incorporate meditation into their lives, so why do people think it is such a weird/ silly thing to do?

What is meditation?

Meditation can be a considered to be a state of mental peace and tranquillity. A time where you can take the time to observe your thoughts and feelings without stressing about them or giving too much attention to them. To some, the point is to be calm, thoughtless and just ‘present’.

How can you meditate?

People meditate in many different ways, it kind of just depends on what works for you. It is said that someone can be doing their daily job yet meditating while someone who is sitting on top of a mountain with crossed legs may be very far from meditation. One method of meditation is focusing on your breath. The point of this is, if you are focusing on the way that you are breathing, any thoughts -good or bad- that come to you aren’t paid attention to. Then, as time goes on, you may find that you don’t quite have to concentrate so hard on your breathing and you’ve actually become calm.
An interesting way of breathing during meditation is to inhale and exhale for increasing amounts of time. For example, inhale for 6 seconds, exhale for 6 seconds and work on increasing that number each time.

What are the benefits of meditation?

  • Meditation is known to help reduce stress
  • May help you fall asleep
  • Improve concentration
  • Increase in well- being
  • Less likely to have symptoms of anxiety or depression
  • Improves immunity

It’s not all about sitting in lotus pose saying “ommm”. Some people are helped with their own noise. Perhaps concentrating on making the “omm”s as long as possible is a way of monitoring your breath and if that works for you, then great! But there are loads of different methods out there, try not to reject the idea of meditation without trying it because I’m sure there is a method out there that can help everyone!

Thanks for reading, check back with me weekly for more content!

Maria

❤️

Bandhas- what they are and how they can enhance your yoga practice

After practising yoga for a little while and following yogis online, I kept coming across this term ‘bandha’.

So, what is it? In Sanskrit, Bandha means to lock, hold or tighten. It relates to different areas of the body that you can “lock” to gain more control of what your muscles are doing. The three “main” bandhas are the Mula Bandha (the pelvic floor muscles), the Uddiyana Bandha (the abs up to the diaphragm) and the Jalandhara Bandha which is in the throat.

However, there are more than just those three, for example, the Hasta Bandha which are in the palm of the hands and the Pada Bandha are in the soles of the feet.

In a more spiritual way of thinking about it, bandhas are a way of directing the flow of the energy inside you. When you engage a bandha you focus the energy and the outcome is a body in full control.

How do you engage your Bandhas?

For example, to engage the Uddiyana Bandha in the abs, you pull your belly button in towards your spine and up towards your diaphragm. Why would you want to do it? It will help you gain more control of your body and can be described as something that will make you “fly”. This is because it locks all the strength in your core that you need to lift your legs up, for example, in flying pigeon pose.

I look forward to incorporating these into my practice more and will keep you all updated on how it goes!

Thanks for reading, check back in with me weekly for new posts!

Maria

❤️

 

My travels to: Brussels

In December 2016 I was treated to a trip to Brussels, in Belgium by my boyfriend for my Christmas present. We stayed there for 3 nights.

I live in England and so, the journey to Brussels is not super far. We took the Eurostar for my first ever time and that was really cool. I don’t often travel via train but, it’s a known thing that they travel quite fast. Well, I had no idea exactly how fast the Eurostar was when I was on it (I now know it ranges from 100 – 186 miles per hour), but I was blown away by how quick it took us to get from England to Brussels. It was like, 2 hours? Crazy. We were tracking our journey on Google Maps and it made us laugh to see how quick the little blue circle was moving. You really don’t notice it, the train barely moves or shakes, it’s incredible.

In Brussels, they speak French. I’ve never really studied French in my life, being Spanish I’ve just focused on that, trying to increase my Spanish skills. I knew some words, ‘bonjour’, ‘au revoir’, ‘merci’, a few other words like ‘pain’, ‘fromage’, you know, a few basics. At the time of going, I had started using an app to learn Italian as my closest friend at university is Italian and to be honest I’d love to know more than 2 languages. (Not that my Spanish is perfect, kinda getting ahead of myself there.) I’d only ever been on holiday to Spanish speaking countries, so I found it really weird to be away from home and not understand what people around me were saying. I really didn’t like it. But then I thought, you know, this is what most people feel like when on holiday. Not everyone is lucky enough to even know one other language apart from their mother tongue. So I tried to get on with it.

One thing I laughed at myself for, was the fact that locals would talk to me, just in a restaurant or something, and I’d reply in Spanish cause I’d worked out what they’d said. And then I made an active effort to not talk in Spanish and try and use some of the French words that I’d google’d and ended up saying Italian words. I was a mess. It’s laughable though. It’s like, my brain was like, I hear words, they’re not English so must require a reply in Spanish! Then I told my brain no, not Spanish. So it was like ah! Must be Italian. No brain, French, s’il vous plaît! (Please in French, but let’s be honest if I’d have said that out loud I would’ve come out with por favor.) 

A bit of a jumble of four different languages there, though I did try!

Let’s talk about Brussels. Locals were nice, loved the scenery and all the stuff that was around. I love cobbled streets, and old-ish buildings which Brussels has, so I enjoyed that. We arrived there during those few days between Christmas and New Year so we were lucky that there were Christmas lights up (which I love) and there were a few Christmas markets around. Obviously, I haven’t been to Brussels at another time of year so I’m biased, but I had a great time and it wasn’t unbearably cold. So, if you like Christmas lights and markets like me, I would definitely recommend going around December time.

Quick fact about me; I LOVE waffles. Like, sweet waffles you have with chocolate and cream (and strawberries- yummy). Potato waffles are okay, but you know the ones I’m talking about. I love them muchly. I don’t know if you know, but Belgium is kind of known for its chocolates and waffles. Beer too, apparently, but I’m sure this has helped you understand where my interests lay. Belgian waffles are sold in most places, for dessert in restaurants, out of special waffle shops and, out of waffle vans. Waffle vans? Yes. Waffle VANS. On the go waffles, what else could you want, right? I really enjoyed all of the waffles that I ate whilst in Brussels. If you’re looking for a waffle recommendation, I’d have to say, visit the famous statue “Mannekin Pis”, a major tourist spot. I had the best waffle ever from one of the stores there, I’ll try and attach a picture of it.

A few tourist places to visit if you decide to go to Brussels

  • Grand Place
    It’s just beautiful. I love that style of the buildings, at night, lights and colours are projected on to the buildings and it’s really nice.
  • Mannekin Pis
    The famous statue I previously mentioned earlier, funny statue and located near the best waffles.
  • Atomium
    This was awesome. Looked super cool and you can go inside and learn all about how it was built and get to benefit from the view from the top.
  • Little Europe
    We didn’t actually “visit” Little Europe, but we saw it whilst at the top of Atomium.

There’s also loads of museums and other cool stuff to do. We didn’t see EVERYTHING Brussels had to offer because we were not there for a large amount of time. However, I would still really recommend going if/ when you can.

Thanks for reading, check back in with me weekly for new posts!

Maria

❤️

 

Path of Self- Love

There are many occasions which will make you feel kinda sad, upset, depressed and plenty of other negative feelings in life. Sometimes it’s difficult to know what to do to make yourself feel better or even to help the situation.

What do you do?
A classic English thing to say is to “have a cup of tea”. Might sound a bit strange, and in a way, it is really quite strange. But I suppose to some extent it’s a nice hot drink that’s giving you a warm hug on the inside. Sometimes people have a tea with someone else and while you drink you express your feelings. But sometimes that doesn’t always help, does it? Sometimes you want to shout, cry, be alone, or just sit there and wallow in the kind of feelings that you have.

What happened to make you feel this way? Something you did? Something someone else did? A mixture of both?
Sometimes our problems can be our own doing. Sometimes, without even thinking we do things, out of love or true intentions but it ends up biting us somewhere down the line. What if you’re used to putting other people first and then you find that actually, they don’t do the same for you? I suppose to a certain extent you accept it and you move on because you love them and that’s just the way your priorities are. But you kinda hoped that they would’ve done more. At the end of the day, people may hurt you a little by doing that without even realising it.

I am the kind of person who puts other people first and even though you don’t do it to get the same treatment, sometimes it really does hurt when you get put last. I recently spoke to a friend about this and she helped me with this a lot. She told me that she had been in a similar situation and she is also the kind of person who puts others first. But, ultimately, she said you’ve gotta love yourself. If you love yourself, make time for yourself, treat yourself well then that’ll kinda be the best thing for you. That isn’t to disregard other people but to just make sure you’re taking care of yourself first. I basically learned that “self-love” is not something I do and it isn’t about treating yourself to clothes or something (although that could be part of it), it’s more about the way you think about yourself too. You may not be able to help people treating you this way, but if you love yourself enough to realise you deserve more, that could be all the help you need.

What do I deserve? This has been a big thought changing process that I’ve just started. I’m going to try and love myself more. I’m going to look at certain things in life and think, is this good for me? Is this helping me become my best self? Sometimes things/ people are bad for you. Not necessarily because they mean to hurt you but sometimes its just a case of maybe people only talking to you when it suits them and maybe when you actually need them, they’re not there. So here’s a new path on the journey. The path to self- love. It’s going to be hard, I think. You can’t change the way you see yourself or the way you think overnight. But I’m going to try to do more, be more, and love and respect myself.

Just a reminder for you all:
You’re important. You matter. Your feelings matter. You’re worthy. Don’t let other people say or treat you otherwise.

Thanks for reading,

Maria

❤️

 

Resolutions

Happy New Year!

So, 2017 is behind us and we are at the start of 2018! Many people make resolutions or changes at the start of the year. I don’t think I’ve ever really properly sat there and made proper, measurable goals for a new year. Today one of my work friends was asked if they had made resolutions and they replied: “you’ll just break them.” I thought that was quite an interesting approach.

A resolution is defined as a strong decision either to do or not to do something. A goal, however, is something that a person desires and for me, I think its something that has to be worked towards. It can’t be just a decision to either do or not do something. That got me thinking, is that possibly a reason why people can’t / don’t stick to their resolutions?

At the beginning of 2016, I said to myself, this year I’d like to see more of the world. I didn’t really expect that to happen, to be honest. BUT. During the year I saw a scholarship opportunity at my university to go to Chile for a “Spanish Intensive Course.” My heart leapt, I’m always down for improving my Spanish (I have a lot of pride in it and would LOVE to be fluent one day), and, hello, CHILE! I thought, I’ve never really been anywhere but Spain or the Canary Islands, and what an awesome opportunity. I told my dad and he said, go for it. No reason why not to apply. I applied, then went for an interview, obviously, I really wanted to go (even though I am a really shy person and am not super good at making friends- didn’t think about that before applying) but I didn’t really think I’d get chosen. Low and behold, they liked me enough to give me a place to go. To this day it was one of the best experiences of my life. AND, I made friends. Didn’t know a single person but I made friends. I’ll keep the memories I have of them close to me forever. So, 2016, by July I had already visited one new continent!

My nan and grandad travel to North America every year around Thanksgiving and have done for the past few years (though they have mixed it up a bit with going to Chicago, Boston and in 2017, San Francisco). When talking about it with them, I dropped it in the conversation that I’d like to see New York, didn’t totally expect them to invite me along but they did. So I went to New York with my grandparents (Yes, it was quite expensive). It was amazing. You see the buildings from films and TV shows in real life and it was beautiful. Plus, I had the best steak and pecan pie of my life. It was crazy how different those two places and those two experiences were, but I loved them both. By December 2016, I had managed to visit two new continents!

I was already amazed by the fact that for the first time ever, I said something to myself, a goal of sorts, and achieved it. For Christmas 2016, my boyfriend took me to Brussels, in Europe for three nights. I feel like I’m using the word ‘amazing’ a lot, but that was amazing. If you’ve never been, I’d totally recommend it. My goal of 2016 was achieved. I visited 3 new countries and two new continents. I wasn’t super fussy or specific about this goal, nor did I think it would happen, but somehow, it did.

At the start of 2017, I was scrolling through Instagram, found a yogi and was inspired. I said to my little sister who was 10 at the time and said, “by the end of this year, I’m gonna do that.” Okay so, I am no way close to the kind of practice that the yogi was at, but I have fallen in love with yoga. And that has brought its own victory. I’m definitely stronger and more flexible now than I was. I’m more determined, passionate and I find I look at things with a slightly different perspective. I also learned how to ride a bike in 2017, I visited Centre Parcs for the first time (awesome), Mallorca for the first time (beautiful) and also visited an English town called Rye for the first time (lovely).

2017 lit a fire in me.

Sometimes, your goals don’t have to be super specific, especially if, like me, you wanted to travel and pretty much anywhere would be new. Other times, if they’re not specific, we forget them or don’t stick to working for them.

Do I have goals for 2018? I think I will write specific measurable goals for this year, yeah. I’m the kind of person who likes to write lists. I like the satisfaction and sense of achievement of ticking things off. I think making goals more “measurable” and attainable by breaking them down into smaller chunks makes them seem less outrageous and scary. This may depend on the person. If you’ve got a massive amount of willpower and determination to just say, “this year I WILL run for 6 miles every day” and do it, well, pat yourself on the back because that’s pretty admirable. But for the kind of person who says “I want to get fitter” or “I will run _____ miles/ kilometres a day” but say, for example, you currently don’t exercise or maybe don’t run, break up the goal. Say, I want to be able to run 1 mile without stopping by this time in 4 weeks. Write that date down on your calendar. Put it on your phone. Work towards it. Every day or every other day, go out for a walk, try running for one minute, then walk, then run for another minute. Keep increasing that number until you smash your goal. Then make another, give it a deadline, and smash that.

It might be cliche to write goals for a new year, but, so what? If you want to do it, do it. There’s no shame in wanting to better yourself or lose a bad habit or two. Just don’t be so hard on yourself, life is also for living. Make your goals attainable and build up to the ultimate goal.

This year, I’m going to write some specific goals to work towards, and if you were on the fence about whether or not to write yours, I hope this has maybe helped you get to your answer.

“Rome wasn’t built in a day”

If fitness is your goal, don’t push yourself too hard, too quickly. Listen to your body, it’s okay to take it slow. Just keep it consistent.

Happy New Year, here’s to 2018!

Thanks for reading,

Maria

❤️