Blog Archives

Happy Holidays! – including Christine Kane article

The husband and I are heading off to the States this Summer to drive the well-worn Route 66! (Which means, by the way, that there will be NO classes from today until Monday 20th August). We have been doing a lot of planning, as you can imagine, and I was thrilled when I came across this article from my favourite ‘Upleveller’ Christine Kane. I have quoted her in this previous blog post and I often quote her in yoga classes as I find her weekly articles to be very inspiring. Yet again, she has some wise words to say, this time on the subject of holidays:

Business or Pleasure? The Traveler’s Guide to Unwavering Happiness

Written by Christine Kane

Christine Kane is the Mentor to People Who are Changing the World. She helps women and men Uplevel their lives, their businesses and their success. Her weekly Uplevel You eZine goes out to over 20,000 subscribers. If you are ready to take your life and your world to the next level, you can sign up for a F.R.E.E. subscription at

Happy woman travelerWhen you travel, much of your time is spent reacting.

Regular business travelers know this all too well.

“Annoying Thing A” happens.

“Business Traveler B” decides what to do.

Some days are a constant impetus/response pattern. Some of us get good at it.  Some of us pride ourselves on our inner peace in spite of Annoying Things A, B and C.

But here’s the kicker:

Even if we learn how to react well, we’re still reacting!

That’s why your choice of how to use your non-reactive time is a key to unwavering happiness when you travel.

It’s about getting pro-active.

So, here are 10 tips for ANY traveler seeking unwavering happiness…

Tip #1 – Simple Self-Care.

No, I won’t tell you to go to a spa in your spare time.

However, I will tell you to…

sleep when you’re tired.

…pull off at the next exit when you have to pee instead of making yourself hold it.

allow extra time to get places.

Travel takes energy.  When people don’t practice self-care in healthy ways, they reach for it in unhealthy ways.  They eat hub-cap-sized plates of pasta and grease, claiming they “deserve it.”  They drink alcohol.  They watch TV to numb out.

This isn’t self-care. This is self-medicating.

One is pro-active. The other is reactive.

Tip #2 – Discover Audiobooks.

Many years ago, I decided to turn my vehicle into a “school.”  I started listening to books on business, coaching, and spirituality.  Not only am I always learning, but it makes a huge difference in how I show up to my destination.

Tip #3 – Use Intention

Before any new segment of travel, set an intention for your travel.  You’ll be surprised how your intention determines your outcomes.

Tip #4 – Make Mantra.

Create a simple affirmation. Say it often. Say it when you’re waiting in line. Say it when the plane gets delayed. Use it to center yourself. Challenge yourself to say it a thousand times in one day.

Tip #5 – Board the Plane Last.

When the gate agent calls the zones, let everyone else trip over each other so they can then stand in the hot jet way punching their cell phones.

Give inner peace a chance. Wait until the final boarding call to board.

Tip #6 – Work out.

Nothing uplevels your mood like a great heart-thumpin’ work-out!  Wake up a little earlier, or find the hotel gym after you check into your room.

Tip #7 – Get Help.

I used to lug around my suitcases, and my computer bag.  I rented the cheapest cars and dragged my butt all over the place to save a few extra bucks per day. I prided myself on my thrifty stamina.

Now, I pride myself on hiring a car service to pick me up at baggage claim. I’m not into struggle anymore.

Get massive support when you travel.  The extra $50 you might spend costs less than a visit to the chiropractor when you get home!

Tip #8 – Wash off your travel

If I have the opportunity, I always take a shower after I fly. I call it “washing off the travel.”  If nothing else, shower before you climb into bed. Try not to sleep with your travel still on you.

Tip #9 – Forgive unexpected expenses

You rush to the airport in your rental car after the conference. There’s no time to fill the tank. You end up paying $45 for a teaspoon of gas at the Hertz desk. Argh!

Travel expenses like this can make you crazy. You can spend the day beating yourself up or criticizing the world for its unfair policies.

Don’t waste your precious creative energy!

Travel is filled with lots of unexpected expenses.  Your money will get spent because of A) stupid things you did, B) unforeseen situations, or C) the fine print.

Do yourself a big favor.  Breathe and let it go because A) you’re traveling, B) you’re wealthy, and C) you’re worth it.

Tip #10 – Think Ritual

A business trip is not the time to start a new diet or yoga practice.

You can, however, keep small daily rituals.  Write in your gratitude journal, even if you feel tired. Wake up 15 minutes early and remind yourself of your intentions for the day.  Personal rituals put you in charge of your day.

Got a favorite travel tip?  Share it below please! And, have a great holiday, wherever you go!


I’m feeling vulnerable right now

As I get closer to taking time off for my holidays I am feeling more tired and vulnerable than usual. I just watched this video on TED Talks by Brene Brown (those who were in class with me last Monday might remember I read some of her writing during Savasana).

This talk is entitled ‘The Power of Vulnerability’ and it’s just over 20 minutes long but it is life-changing. Let me know what you get from it in the comments below.


Warm up Summer Solstice moves

It’s been so cold and wet and windy this past week that the Summer Solstice has not lived up to my expectations at all. Therefore I want to suggest we try some moves to keep warm in the mid section, or our “core” as it is often referred to in fitness circles. When we do yoga or Pilates exercises which stimulate the core muscles we are effectively warming up our internal sun because we are stimulating the nerves of the solar plexus.

The solar plexus is described in 1926 book Just How to Awaken the Solar Plexus below:

There is a real sun center in us, the Solar (or Sun) Plexus. This is a great nerve center situated in back of the stom-ach. When this central Sun, from which all the nerves of the body radiate, is in its normal condition, it steadily radiates a real energy, just as the sun does. This energy vibrates through the nerve highways and by-ways of the body out toward the surface of the body in all directions (the mucous membranous surface, as well as the outer skin), and is thrown off in a real halo or atmosphere, which always envelops the body. If this radiation from the Solar Plexus is positive enough, the influence of another person cannot disturb its steady, harmonious vibrations in the least.

The exercises I suggest (which we’ve been doing in class all week) are Sun Salutations, abdominal strengtheners like Boat pose or Rock The Boat, Warrior poses, twists, and Breath of Fire. These poses fan the flames of your inner fire and restore vitality so that you can move from the strength of your core so try them to warm yourself up this wintry Summer Solstice!


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…


Stretch Classes for New Mums

Now, I’m not a Mother. Nor am I likely to be. (It’s a long story that I am coming to terms with and I won’t bore you with it).

But I have a lot of pregnant women and new Mums come to classes with me.

  1. I get pregnant Mamas to the yoga classes I run and then I don’t see them again as they drift off into a world of sleepless nights…
  2. Or I get new Mums to the Pilates classes I run who are desperate to do some activity that their Doctor says is gentle enough before they get stronger and then I don’t see them again as they drift off into a world of kettlebells or cardio work…

So, how do I get new Mums to stay with Stretch NI? I am thinking of developing classes specifically for new Mums but I want some feedback on whether these would be attended.

I am also considering developing training for my Pilates Instructors as well as other Yoga and Fitness Instructors in order to stop the inconsistent advice from the fitness industry about what is after all a natural occurrence. I would like to know if Instructors are interested in working more specfically with this section of the community.

Do people want to stretch new Mums? And do new Mums actually want to be stretched??

Please let me know your thoughts on this in the comments below,


P.S. Just to illustrate this post I have included photographs of actresses January Jones, Alyssa Milano and Alicia Silverstone who all attended pregnancy yoga classes throughout their pregnancies. These well-known yoga practitioners are, of course, still attending classes even though they have had their babies and are no longer new Mums!