Living the Yogi Way
It’s our lucky day on the Santosha blog! Santosha Yoga graduate and teacher, qualified Naturopath and Medical Herbalist and all round healthy and happy living guru Kirsten Swales shares her thoughts on Living the Yogi Way. Have a read and let us know what resonates with you in the comments…
It has been said that a Yoga Lifestyle is about two actions: “cleaning the mirror” and “spreading the Light”.
The mirror is the mind and body. They have to be clean and pure to catch the light in the first place. A Yogic lifestyle is therefore about purifying the mind and keeping the body healthy.
I am a Naturopath and Yogini. I am also human and not perfect. I am however perfectly happy with this.
I joke that I like to call myself an 80:20 Naturopath. 80% healthy, 20% flexi. So while I do froth on my healthy and nutritious food, I also absolutely frickin love my coffee. I have the knowledge. I know it might not be so awesome for my body, but gosh it’s tasty. So I find my balance with it. Being a Yogi I am always practicing ways to find my balance. Strengthening my Core!
So instead of making this another article on the Principles of Yoga, I am going to share with you what it means to me to live the Yogi Way, as well as some little habits I have that help me to strengthen from the inside out, some of my core habits.
I will start with one of the first principles of Yoga: Ahimsa
Ahimsa means non-violence.
I translate this to be non-violence with not just others, but most importantly yourself.
We are so hard on ourselves most of the time. Love yourself. Look after yourself. You can’t look after others if you’ve not looked after yourself first.
This also overlaps with my passion and work as a Naturopath. Hippocrates said “Primum non nocere” – “First do no harm”.
Watch that inner dialogue. How do you talk to yourself? Do you congratulate yourself on things you’ve achieved? What’s happening in the mind when you go bathers shopping?
This leads me onto “Stilling of the Mind”.
Such a biggie. The more time and space we create in our minds, the more time and space we create in our lives. You will begin to notice and cherish the small things in life. That flower that just bloomed in your garden, the funny advertising billboard, that beautiful tree standing proud at the end of your street…They all might have been there before, but you will see them with different eyes.
One of the simplest ways to still the mind is with breath awareness. I always, always start my yoga classes with this. And bring awareness back to it throughout the hour and a half I have my students with me. It’s a practice, just as yoga is. And the more you practice the easier it will become.
Another way to calm the mind is to decrease the “busy-ness” in your life. In the Western World we tend wear this as a badge of honour. How was you day? Busy. How was your weekend? Busy. How’s life? Busy. That’s not what I want for my life. I’m still working on finding my balance with it… Even wrote another blog on the steps I have taken, and am still taking, on ways to do to reduce the busy-ness in my life.
Back to Ahimsa…
And now in relation to your way of eating.
I think most would automatically take this to mean we should all become vegetarians. I’m not. My body thrives off fat and protein, doesn’t do too well on carbohydrates. We are all individual so am not saying this works for everyone. Some of us even have differences in our DNA that make it hard to digest fats, so carbs may suit you better.
Tune into your body and learn to know what it wants.
I could talk about food all day long, I LOVE it! But you can have a look at another one of my blogs about all the current trending diets to get a sense of which one might be best for you. If you want to go further with it I would love to help. As a Naturopath I specialise in the Digestive System and offer consultations both online via Skype and face to face if you are local to Canggu.
I will say though, if you do choose to eat animal products like myself: connect in with where they come from. Source local as much as you can. Organic. Grass-fed.
If you can’t afford all organic fruit and veg, here is a list available for download of the “Dirty Dozen vs Clean Fifteen” to help to know which ones are generally safer than others. Prioritise organic versions of the Dirty Dozen where you can.
I do really well with routine. Not a rigid one, us yogis like to be flexible. But having a general plan for my weeks serves me well.
I plan my meals. I plan-ish what I want to feed my body. This changes on a day to day, week to week basis. So again, tune into your body. Feel what it wants and needs.
I like to include some form of physical activity most days of the week. I’m sure you can guess that I love my yoga. I also love surfing. These are my two forms of physical activity. And as I love them both they’re really enjoyable for me. For others running up those 53 stairs makes them feel great! Tune into what you want to do. What makes you feel good.
I may have a look at the bits of my diary that can’t be moved and slot them in around that. But I do plan them in. If I don’t it’s very easy to just say, “Ah, tomorrow. I’ll go for a surf tomorrow when I have more time….”. Tomorrow comes around and you say the same thing. So don’t be too airy fairy flexible about it, don’t be rigid, but do plan it in there regularly.
When you do things a little differently to others you are almost always going to come up against some judgment. I definitely did. And still do. But the more and more I have become at ease with myself, the more and more others are too.
I’m not much of a drinker these days. Probably started about a year ago. It was never a “Right! Must give up alcohol!” kind of thing. I just didn’t enjoy it anymore. So I stopped. Woah! So. Much. Judgment. “Why don’t you have a drink? Go on just one. Relax, live a little. One little drink wont hurt”. It was never about depriving myself of having anything. I just didn’t want it. Did figure out over time that if I told people I was hung-over the pestering would stop. Weird. But it worked.
Acceptance of yourself, acceptance of others, acceptance of life. Bali is so wonderful in
helping me with this lesson. You can’t control everything! The rules can change with the wind. So you learn to go with it. Learning to accept “it is what it is” is mighty freeing.
This is different to settling. Never settle. Always go after what you want with both hands!
Surround yourself with the things you love.
Join in. Community is awesome. We have an absolutely amazing community happening here in Canggu. A 3D community. If this is not happening so much where you are living, take it online. Social Media for example. One of my besties wrote a great article on it as part of her Graduate Diploma of Sustainability: “Fostering community and sense of belonging: how social networks enable community.”
I join, and contribute in, lots of different Facebook groups. Naturopath ones. Yoga ones. Surfing ones. Um, probably about a gazillion food ones! Then little things keep popping up on your feed and before you know it you are part of a community and are surrounded by more of the things you love.
Surrounding yourself with people that share your loves and passions really does make it easier and more enjoyable to stay true to you and the path you choose for your life.
Love your stuff. Love your life. Love yourself.
She absolutely loves what she does. It makes Kirsten incredibly happy to not only care for and nourish her own body, but to share that knowledge and help her clients to do the same.
Kirsten’s dream is to help guide and empower as many of you as possible to achieve and maintain the same spectacular state of health and vitality as she does now! Contact her here.