Techniques for Balance & Chill

Unpack Some Self Care

Originally this piece was part of a larger post dealing with my dog being attacked by another dog, but I decided to split out the techniques into their own post, separate from the story. Yoga helped me through that terrible day, read about how, here. When I got home, I got on the mat and unpacked some simple, very gentle restorative techniques, which I now share with you.

Kidney Stretch

An essential technique in my classes. This stretch works the kidney meridian, associated with fear. It also works the kidney organs and, importantly, switches off the adrenal glands. Working the length of the legs and focusing energy into the pelvis, helps to drain the energy out of the upper body (where tension tends to get tied up when we are under stress). Deliberate relaxation of upper body and shoulders whilst tucking chin in helps with moving into parasympathetic nervous system. Pressing into the Kidney 1 point on the foot helps with stress and fear. This is not an easy or comfortable technique, to be honest, but it is very effective and the level of mindfulness required was very useful at the time to tune my mind out of the day and into my practice.

Kidney Stretch
Seated Twist

Twists are great to calm the body. We know that when we are stressed we have a knot in our guts. Ironically, wringing out those organs can help untie that knot. It lets everything settle. Squeezing into an area pushes out the old blood, fluids and toxins and this is replaced by the fresh. Again, this seated twist involves a bit of full body concentration to get right: inhale and pull up through the spine, exhale turn the belly button around, deliberately relax your shoulders until the shoulder blades slide down your back, relax your buttocks and thighs but keep both sit bones on the floor.

Dynamic Child’s Pose

Still using full body engagement – engagement in seeking relaxation! – by moving on the breath. Starting in tabletop and moving through cat/cow, I began a pendulum with my torso forward and backward on the breath to open and close myself to the world and to the breath more fully. Long fluid breaths. Long fluid movements. Mind in the belly. Finally, I was gliding from child’s pose up to almost a face-up dog.

Child’s Pose

When I was ready, I paused back on my heels. Child’s Pose can be practiced many ways. This time I brought my arms back alongside my body, backs of the hands to the floor. Forehead on the floor, shoulder blades stretched across the back as gravity draws heavy upon them. (My shoulders were shocked and sore from the beating I had delivered with my umbrella – filled with fight and flight hormones – to try and save my dog). Breathing into my belly, I noticed the gentle massage of the breath while cocooned by my body. I was ready for stillness now.

Childs Pose
Childs Pose
Forward bend on a chair

After a time, I settled into this kindest of forward bends. Still stretching the back body, but gravity does the work. The chin tucked in for the parasympathetic system and the head supported. Still safe but more open than in child’s pose.

Legs up “wall” on a chair

Even kinder than legs up wall, is legs up wall on a chair. This is the last of my restorative sequence. Legs above the hips, everything is easy. A gentle inversion, the weight of the femur rests into the hip joint. The body is supported by the floor. No effort is needed. Close the eyes. Just breathe.

Guided Meditation

Even if you are well practiced in self led meditation, sometimes I just let myself be taken on a journey. I don’t need to make choices. I just need to listen. I just need to breathe. I just need gentle kindness.

I teach yoga with Namaste Yoga NZ and provide yoga mini-breaks via Yoga-2-Go.

A Terrible Day For Yoga

Close up of Blue
This is Blue

What Happened …

So, yesterday our family had a very bad day. It started out pretty OK. Yes, it was cold and raining, but I still popped my two dogs in the car and grabbed my umbrella. Rain doesn’t change their needs for a walk, afterall.

First stop, tai chi. Our teacher was back after an absence of a week due to his partner being unwell. We all celebrated the fact she had come home from hospital. We worked the Qi Gong technique of the 8 Brocade in detail. I found lots of little bits and pieces fell into place for me and I acquired a better level of understanding. Class was followed by cups of tea around a table and a chat. I love our tai chi classes.

Next up, we visited a potential venue for yoga classes in town for runners. After that, grabbed supermarket supplies, just a top up shop. Last thing before home, walk at the dog park.

As we arrived the dogs started whining. They enjoy this park: there are open fields to run in, the river to paddle and patches of bush to snuffle. They often meet friends here to play with. It’s a good wet day option as the paths are paved and my shoes don’t get muddy. I stay reasonably dry under my umbrella.

This dog park is a favorite

We had been walking for about 20 minutes, when we turned up a set of stairs. We always go up here to make our circuit. Blue lingered at the bottom sniffing, checking the pee-mail, as all the dogs do at certain landmark locations. I was up the first maybe 20 stairs and on a landing, when behind me I heard a deep growl and a scream.

Before I had time to react to the sound, Blue was beside me on the bush bank and a large white and tan dog was on top of her back biting. It happened very fast, as I approached the handrail between the stairs and the bush and went to go under, Blue managed to partially free herself and the two of them fell down the bank onto the lower track we had just been walking on.

From there on the stairs, I saw my dog on her back and her much larger attacker – at least 3 times her weight holding her by the throat. Shaking. I saw the dog’s owner for the first time approaching from the other side of the stair entrance. My dog is screaming and screaming. I screamed “your dog’s killing my dog”. She began to run along the path.

We both arrived at the attack site at the same time. The white dog owner says to me “she’s never done that before” as she grabbed her dog by the collar and pulled. I was vaguely aware this was not a recommended thing to do – it causes more tearing from the bite and puts the human hand at risk of being bitten. Both, as it happens, occurred. I beat the attacking dog across the back with my umbrella. All the while, poor little Blue, lying on her back, screamed. Finally, the jaws loosened for a moment and my dog disappeared up into the bush.

I asked the woman for her details to help with the vets bill. She demanded to see my dog, who had scarpered. After a moment, in a moment of shrewd cunning she said, “I think it was your dog at fault.” I started taking photos of her and her dogs. She pulled the hood of her jacket over her face and took off as fast as she could.

I began the hunt for my dogs. Neither one was in sight nor coming to my calls. As the adrenaline seeped away, terror replaced it. I couldn’t breathe. I called and searched. I recruited a couple of other walkers to help me. They did. Bless them.

I tried to run back to my vehicle in case that’s where my dogs had gone. Fall shock had set in. I couldn’t draw breath. I couldn’t run. I’m a runner, but right then I couldn’t put one foot in front of the other.

There, beside my van, a lovely young man had my other dog – who had fled in fear at the start- by the collar and was looking for an owner. Thank you whoever you were, you probably saved a member of my family from going under a car. He wasn’t wet and wasn’t wearing a jacket so likely came out of his vehicle or home to help. Bless him.

My other dog secured in the vehicle, I went back into the park to search. I texted my husband “braithwaite park now emergency”. It took a long time for my shaking fingers to input the message. The rain didn’t help.

I remembered Blue on her back, her neck in the big dog’s jaws. I imagined Blue bleeding out quietly, alone under a bush. I went back to the van and got my other dog on lead, in the hope she might help me locate Blue.

I rang Animal Control, in case someone else picked Blue up. While I was speaking with them, their call centre received a report of a found dog matching Blue’s description. Blue had run back to the hall where we do Tai Chi. The people there brought her inside, made her comfortable, rang Council. Bless them.

I used Facebook to put out the word to help find Blue when she was missing and to help locate the white dog – who needs to be in a muzzle in public. The response was huge. So many people responded and shared and sent best wishes. Bless them.

Now, Blue’s story is less dramatic (although more expensive) – vets, medication, snugs on her beanbag under her blankie. She has had surgery and with the expert and professional care from the vets she will be OK. Bless them.

Where was Yoga? Everywhere

Even in the moments of extreme trauma and stress, yoga increased my resilience to help my dog in the fight and to stay calm when interacting with the other owner, enabling me to get some photographs.

When shock hit, yoga helped me recognise what was happening in my body. I was breathing in the upper part of my chest only – causing hyperventilation. I was grasping forward to where I thought I needed to be – down the road at my car – instead of focusing on where I was and what I needed to do – on the path, putting one foot in front of the other.

Yoga helped me when my hands were shaking so much I struggled to operate my phone. As I hit the wrong letters and rain splotched the screen, self talk emerged “I can’t do this” “It’s too hard” “What if …” Yoga helped me recognise this self talk as unhelpful. Yoga helped me take a breath, wipe the screen, try again. Take a breath. Try again.

Yoga helped me remember the embodied experience of the attack clearly and concisely when recounting it to my husband, to the Council Inspectors, to the vet.

Yoga helped me recognise the good beautiful people all around me, who I didn’t even know, who’s first instinct was to help a stranger and an animal in distress. Yoga helped me have the presence of mind to articulate the problem and to thank them. To bless them.

Where Was Yoga? On the Mat

Through the two hours or so of action, it was the mental element of yoga – built through a combination of physical and mental techniques – that I drew upon. Once we got home and tucked poor wee Blue up cosy and warm, and after I had had a warm shower (I’d spent two shivery hours soaked to the bone), I got on the mat and unpacked some very gentle restorative techniques for self care. This short practice is set out, here.

So, Where Was Yoga?

Yoga helps you to approach difficulty from a place of compassion, understanding and pragmatism.

Yoga is difficult, so it helps you when you need to do difficult things.

Yoga is mindfulness, so it helps you when you need presence of mind.

Yoga is equanimity. Coming to this situation from a place of empathy, meant that my adrenalin filled body was not angry with the dog or the owner. Anger in those moments would have robbed me of the ability to focus on what was important. Nor am I angry today. The other dog owner will be afraid for her family member, I wish her no ill will. I would like preventive measures to be taken to protect everyone, including her, such as use of a muzzle.

Yoga is compassion. As we pour love and compassion into our little dog, it will not only heal her, but me and my family also.

Yoga is gratitude. I am grateful for all the people that helped. I am grateful Blue is OK. I am grateful for vets with knowledge, kindness and expertise to ease suffering. I am grateful for Council and the Inspector for helping us achieve a speedy, just and fair resolution. I am grateful for a community on social media, some of whom I know and some of whom I don’t and all of whom tried to help.

There have been many good days for yoga. The yoga from those good days wrapped me in its arms when I needed it. And it was there when I needed it on my terrible day for yoga.

I teach yoga with Namaste Yoga NZ and provide yoga mini-breaks via Yoga-2-Go.

Just a Mum and so much more!

It’s my absolute pleasure to introduce one of our food partners – Just A Mum.

The name Just a Mum is a bit tongue in cheek – none of us are ever “just” a mum. Specialising in that delicate balance of indulgence and health, Amy at Just a Mum produces amazing Keto treat boxes.

Some of Just a Mum’s treat boxes

At Yoga-2-Go we love local and we love “handmade with love”, so we’ve partnered with Just a Mum as one of our morning and afternoon tea treat providers!

Full flavour, no sugar, low calorie, high taste is what Amy is all about. We can’t wait for our mini-break yogi’s to reward themselves with such deliciousness as this …

If you are in the Hamilton area, do go ahead and follow Just a Mum for her amazing treat boxes. Go on, treat yourself! You deserve it!

If you think you could use a yoga mini-break with some of Just a Mum’s amazing deliciousness added in, then you’re right! Build your mini-break, here

Destination Redwoods, Rotorua

Whakarewarewa, otherwise known as the Redwoods, has to be one of my family’s favourite places to go. What we love is the mountain biking and trail running and walking. The facilities have changed a lot over the last few years, but the feel of the place remains – a true kiwi adventure hub!

Renowned for world-class mountain biking trails, there is something here for every ability of rider. Loops of Tahi and Dipper are within most people’s capabilities and enjoyable smooth trails – I’ve encountered little kids on those yellow plastic motorbikes navigating these! For the more adventurous, the choices are vast with trails winding and wending their ways through the forest and over the hills. There are even shuttles and buses to give you an assist on the climbs (just remember to turn off your Strava!).

If you’re keen for biking, we’ll tailor our yoga warm up and warm down for that. There are bikes for hire and if you wanted someone to show you the trails as part of your Yoga-2-Go Minibreak, we can sort that for you, too!

If you prefer your feet on the ground, the walking and running in the forest is amazing! We can set you off to explore on your own or take you for a run or a walk, whatever’s your thing.

Of course, there’s the famous Treetops walk to do day or night or day THEN night!

If you want, we’ll even organise a nice soak in a hot pool and great food and coffee at the end with Secret Spot.

Of course, this is just what’s available in the Redwoods – there’s heaps to do and see in Rotorua.

But that’s another story …

Build Your Mini-break with 2 nights in Rotorua with yoga sessions designed especially for you and including bike hire and trail guide plus hot pools from $575 per person

Whakarewarewa – The Redwoods Rotorua. Magic adventures await …