Shirley McLeod: Yoga With Me

This months guest writer is Shirley McLeod from Yoga With Me. When I began to invite teachers into the studio I kept having people ask “Have you meet Shirley?”

…apparently she is the nicest person on the planet! So, I decided to investigate as we need the good people in our life, turns out they were right – She’s lovely and full of inspiring wisdom.

We have invited her to write some wisdom down for you this month and she will also be teaching at Beginner Yogi Studio on 31st October @ 9am, so be sure to book in and get a piece of Shirley!

Over to you Shirley…

Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras: Beyond Asana

Shirley McLeod Yoga With Me. Beginner YogiI’m often asked “Do you practice yoga every day”, and my answer is yes. And no.

When most people think of yoga they are thinking of the asana only; the postures. In which case, NO, I don’t practice yoga asana every day. Some weeks when my life is very organised, and I’ve got lots of childcare options available and work is not too hectic, then I will try to practice yoga asana 5-6 days a week. My preference is to go to a class and be guided by another teacher, because I use this time to completely surrender to the practice and still my mind. I also like to try different teachers and classes to learn from these experiences, and look for new ways to make my classes more interesting for my students. If I’m stuck at home, I revert to a handy sun salutation flow and I use that as the basis for starting a practice. Sometimes 5 to 10 rounds of Sun Salutation might be the entire practice! I feel much better and more alive when I am able to practice yoga asana regularly. I change my practice to suit what my body needs. If I’ve had a tough and stressful day, then I need a yin class. If I want a more cardio-based exercise, then I’ll go power vinyasa. If I’m unsure, then I’ll do a bit of everything!

On other weeks when I’m busy at work, my husband is busy, we are going away over the weekend, or there are just too many things happening, I might only get to one class. I’m OK with that, because I supplement that with the other limbs of yoga. It’s through these other limbs that I DO practice yoga every day.

Patanjali defined the eight limbs of yoga in the Yoga Sutras. They are:

Yamas: ethical standards and sense on integrity, focussing on 5 behaviours and how we conduct ourselves in life. The five yamas are: ahimsa (non- violence), satya (truthfulness), asteya (non-stealing), brahmacharya (continence) and aparigraha (non-covetousness)

Niyamas: self-discipline and spiritual observances. There are 5 of these too – saucha (cleanliness), samtosa (contentment), Tapas (heat, spiritual austerities), svadhyaya (self-study), isvara pranidhana (surrender to God

Asana: the postures practiced in yoga

Pranayama: breath control

Pratyahara: withdrawal of the senses

Dharana: concentration

Dhyana: meditation or contemplation

Samadhi: ecstasy / profound connection with the Divine.

And lots of these limbs don’t require whole heap of time. Just being an all-round good person who is nice to themselves and others ticks off most of the yamas and niyamas. I practice pranayama almost daily as part of de-stressing and calming down either at work, just before bed, or as part of a yoga or meditation practice. I take a wide view of Dhyana, and incorporate mindfulness practices here.

My take-away here is – do what’s right for you, whether that’s just asana or one of the other limbs of yoga, or a combination of them all.

More about Shirley…

Shirley McLeod is a wife, mother, corporate career woman, yoga teacher and aspiring wellness warrior. After a crazy 2013 where she had her second child, led a once-in-50-year change to criminal prosecution processes, and was runner-up in New Zealand Project Manger of the Year, the universe intervened. While on holiday Shirley stumbled across an outdoor yoga class – starting a journey that would ultimately help her to better manage her busy work and family commitments.

Using yoga to de-stress, unwind, and relax, Shirley has become more focused, productive, confident and effective. Shirley founded Yoga With Me in 2015 to keep herself accountable in the lead up to completing yoga teacher training, but also to encourage and inspire others to give yoga a go – whether that’s for fitness, flexibility, stress management, relaxation, mindfulness or just because you want a reason to wear comfy yoga pants all day.

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