Blog Archives

Structure for summer

I know that title sounds silly. First of all, it feels nothing like Summer at the moment and secondly, the last thing most people want to think about is putting structure in their lives. In fact, remember when you were a kid and school had finished and you had the whole L-O-O-O-N-N-N-G-G summer stretching out ahead of you and how cool that was? Well, in my case it filled me with anxiety. I liked the structure imposed upon me by the school bell and timetable. I disliked having all this time to do with what I wanted because inevitably I ended up wasting it and that always pissed me off. (Yes, even in primary school!)

I would start the summer off full of good intentions to read more, write more, catch up on school work, learn a new skill or language and then I would find myself going to bed later and later and therefore getting up later and later and not getting any of my grandiose schemes started, never mind completed! Well, I’m not at school any more but I have signed up to a number of online courses which means I DO have reading and writing to do, work to catch up on and  new skills to learn. But guess what? Just like 30 years ago I have started going to bed later and later and therefore getting up later and later and NOT getting my work done. And yet again, it’s pissing me off!

So I have a plan in place. And I’d like to share it in case it helps you too:

  1. I am utilising my 2012 Creating Your Goddess Year Calendar from Goddess Leonie Dawson to ensure that I can see what appointments I have each month all on one page. She also has little cute drawings on the planner and suggestions such as “Happiness Day” (5th June, in case you were wondering).
  2. I am then using her daily planner tool to break each day down into my 3 Most Important Tasks which I write into my own diary. Before it just had blank pages with the odd yoga or Pilates class scribbled in. Now it still has my classes written in, as well as other appointments and time it will take me to travel to/from each appointment, AND my 3 Most Important Tasks for the day.
  3. I also got a large 2012 Year Planner for my wall (they should be pretty cheap now, considering we’re halfway through the year) and I am able to see at a glance when I am on holidays, when I am teaching Pilates Instructor Training courses, whereabouts I am in my class schedule and when I am likely to overcommit myself so that I can avoid doing so and causing overwhelm.
  4. I like writing things down. So I also have programme plans etc. written down on flipchart paper and stuck on the wall beside my Year Planner. If you are not a writer you could always make much better use of your Smartphone’s scheduling facilities or Google Calendars. I just like to see what I’ve written whenever I want, without turning on technology. (I am hoping my use of different coloured pens prevents me from being called a Luddite by more technologically savvy friends).

So that’s my plan. More structure = less stress for me this summer. If I have structure I can rebel against it, like not do all three of my Most Important Tasks. If I have no structure I get caught in indecision and fear and get nothing done.

And considering I have a 2448 mile drive during my holidays I need structure to ensure I get where I need to go when I need to be there! I am combining technology (with GPS) with old fashioned methods (maps and asking people when we get lost) and this should be enough structure to get us moving without feeling like we are a slave to our schedule hence we only booked hotels for the start and the end of the trip, leaving us free to do what we want and go where we want within reason. But more of that next time…


Musings on business…

What I thought my business would be:

A yoga and Pilates studio that helped people stretch and grow both physically and mentally with classes and courses that are well attended. We would have a real community of like-minded people who support each other’s growth and other businesses would grow as a result of it (e.g. local craftspeople holding fairs; local artists displaying artworks; local coffee shops offering discounts to our customers and me offering discounts to theirs). Oh, and I would feel a part of this community but that I didn’t have to ‘head-up’ everything. I would also be earning enough to be able to relax a little and enjoy what I’ve created!


What scares me about my business:

That everything, and I mean, EVERYTHING, would fall apart without me! After teaching yoga and Pilates for over 10 years and falling into things rather than properly designing my career, I have taken a leap of faith and opened up my own studio. This is scaring the c@~p out of me! Now I have to be a business owner as well as a yoga teacher. I have to clean/stock/secure/market the studio, arrange the classes, promote the courses (and design them as well) and, worst of all, apologise to teachers for the low numbers as the people of my local town are not flocking to my studio like I imagined they would! Add on to this the fact that my husband is currently unemployed, meaning I am the sole breadwinner and I am really scared to look at how little I’m actually earning…


What next:

Well, I just have to keep going, have a little patience, be open and honest (especially to myself) about my expectations. The most important thing is to stop panicking! I actually started to fill in an application form today for a community development job that would take me way back to a place I don’t want to go (Belfast!) and to a person I haven’t been for a long time. Then I stopped, pulled myself back from the precipice and went out to teach a GREAT Pilates class which had 4 regulars in it and 2 lovely new students (you know who you are and I thank you very much!). I then did what I always do, called my Mum, and together we worked out that I’m actually earning an okay amount of money and that the numbers are increasing week-on-week and nearly class-on-class. The community that I dreamt of is happening slowly but surely and will continue to happen. If you’re willing to help me…


What do you want from Stretch NI:

What do you think of the current timetable? Does it suit your needs? Do you have any desire for any other classes/teachers/times? What about our courses? Does personal development interest you? What other topics could we cover? Do you want to become a part of Friday Night Frolics (oo-er)? Join a bookclub? Learn to knit/crochet/sew/craft? Do you want to train as a Pilates Instructor? Do you know of anyone who might? Would you be interested in training to teach children’s yoga? Do you want to volunteer at the studio in exchange for free classes?

Answers to all these questions gratefully received,


August plotting and planning and bootcamping…

I didn’t blog as much as I’d have liked last month but the 2 solid weeks of Pilates Instructor Training preceeded by months of hard work and followed by a week of mooching around wondering what to do with myself meant that blogging was the last thing on my mind. I’d given so much of myself in the Pilates course that I didn’t think I had anything more to say to anyone. But I think I’m rediscovering my voice. I had a lovely day yesterday training Karina of Stressless Solutions in children’s yoga stretches which I am an expert in and which I think I had forgotten about. Then Chris and I sat for hours yesterday evening talking and planning and dreaming about the Stretch NI studio and what this will look like when it gets off the ground this autumn. And now that’s only a month away! So, it’s back to laptop so that my plans for world domination can continue unabated!

One thing I am hoping to do in the new studio is a Stretch NI Body Bootcamp. Basically, this will consist of three 45-minute sessions of yoga and Pilates moves a week combined with dietary advice (not by me who think a Mars Bar is a vegetable but by a real-life dietitian from the Southern Health Trust). This bootcamp will take 7 weeks which will make us all gorgeous just in time for Christmas! But the serious reason for doing a 7 week programme is that the yogis used to say it took 21 days to create a habit so 3 sessions over 7 weeks will give us 21 sessions and lead us into a new way of relating to food and fitness. It’s also much more achievable at this rate rather than 7 sessions a week for 3 weeks. I don’t want this to be a diet or a fitness fad. I want it to lead us into a healthier lifestyle… And, I’ve already started! I am going to be trying the bootcamp principles throughout August and will be reporting back my results. After all, it’s about time I started to practice what I preach! What do you think? Does this sound like something that might interest you?? And would you attend morning classes to make sure you get your 3 sessions a week?? Or does it all sound like too much hassle and you’d just prefer to do a regular ‘Weightwatchers/ Slimming World/ Unislim’ style weigh-in??? Cos that could be arranged!


Keep calm and carry on … or OM!

Most people know that wartime saying ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ and some people I know (I’m thinking of you Ruth!) even have it up on their wall at home as a constant reminder to keep calm in the chaos of modern life. We no longer have the threat of invasion by warring factions to worry us but that doesn’t mean we’re not still stressed. In fact, our cortisol levels (hormone produced by our adrenal glands in response to stress) are higher than ever! Now, small increases of cortisol have some positive effects:

  • A quick burst of energy for survival reasons
  • Heightened memory functions
  • A burst of increased immunity
  • Lower sensitivity to pain
  • Helps maintain homeostasis in the body

While cortisol is an important and helpful part of the body’s response to stress, it’s important that the body’s relaxation response becomes activated so the body’s functions can return to normal following a stressful event. Unfortunately, in our current high-stress culture, the body’s stress response is activated so often that the body doesn’t always have a chance to return to normal, resulting in a state of chronic stress.

To keep cortisol levels healthy and under control, the body’s relaxation response should be activated after the fight or flight response occurs. You can learn to relax your body with various stress management techniques, and you can make lifestyle changes in order to keep your body from reacting to stress in the first place. The following have been found by many to be very helpful in relaxing the body and mind, aiding the body in maintaining healthy cortisol levels:

  • Guided Imagery
  • Journaling
  • Self-Hypnosis
  • Exercise
  • Yoga
  • Breathing Exercises
  • Meditation

I intend to discuss these 7 techniques in more detail during the following week, because I have used them ALL at some time, and want to share what I found. In the meantime I will leave you with the reason why I am doing this series of relaxation techniques:

After another late night working on my new Pilates Instructor Training manual I put my laptop down after 1am and turned my bedroom light off at 2.05am only to wake up, in a complete cold-sweat panic, at 6.15am! I just had so much cortisol running through my system that I couldn’t settle back down to sleep and instead I lay there churning over old conversations and thinking “I should’ve said this” or “I should’ve done that” and getting myself into a right old pickle! So, still feeling very physically tired, I read a couple of chapters of an inane romantic novel to try and lull me back to sleep. But, to no avail. I got up at 9am and have spent the whole day wondering around like a zombie and knowing that I have to be on ‘top-form’ tonight for my Pilates and yoga classes in Edenmore which is causing the stress levels to rise again and the whole pattern to repeat itself…

So, I’m signing off to do a quick restorative yoga practice just for me which will hopefully get the hormones back under control! Either that or I’ll start crying. And I can’t do that to my wonderful students. So, I’ll just ‘Keep Calm and Carry OM’ instead.


Pilates TT registrations closes SOON!

Don’t forget that if you’ve been contemplating joining the inaugral Pilates Instructor Training intensive at Edenmore Golf & Country Club this July, the registration closes on FRIDAY!!!

I would hate for you to miss out on an opportunity to seriously enhance your earning potential and perhaps even change your life!

Check out for more details or to sign up NOW…