Living and loving with an open heart

“We all are the same. We all have the potential to become a better person.”

A while ago I asked my students what would they like to have more in our classes. The answer was ‘backbends’. I’m a forward-bending-head-standing-arm-balancing kind of a gal, so I’m not a great fan of backbends. I don’t have the most flexible spine, but unfortunately, with yoga, the poses that you don’t enjoy are the poses that you need the most. So I went with it, we pulled a spun out class dedicated to heart opening and backbends.

The atmosphere among us after the class was so powerful. We felt happy, energetic and packed with compassion. I pretty much soared home, while hugging every single person on my way. I was full of love, and ready to shout it out from rooftops. Think, what an effect would a series of backbends in the morning have on world leaders? I’ll bet you, it wouldn’t harm us… 
By all means I’m not the coldest person without backbends. Even though I come from a frosty and dark Scandinavia. I’ve always been a hugger, an emotional all-I-want-is-smiles kind of a freak of nature. But I still have lots to learn about becoming the person I want to be. If I could only open my heart even more, if I’d practice really, really hard… Think of my potential to provoke all the grumpy people with my happy-hippie-attitude… Just kidding, that’s not my motive. My motives are to be sunny, loving and caring partner, a compassionate and joyous friend and all around kind person… 

  
We all get hurt occasionally. It’s sad but inevitable. It’s so easy to lock our hearts from the world just to protect ourselves. It might help us sometimes to survive the intolerable challenges. However the consequences of a close or broken heart might lead us to negative thinking, trust issues, depression, isolation, anxiety and pain.  

So how can we open our hearts? How can we learn to love more? 

These are my favourite methods when I need a lift…

  Connect, truly and utterly connect with the world around you!  When you wake up in a morning and step outside, take a deep inhale of that crispy morning air and feel happy to be alive. While walking, connect with your surroundings, try to find new things on your way to work that you haven’t noticed before. When talking to people, look into their eyes, really listen and stay present. I don’t know what we are so afraid of, but eye contact seems to be such an intimidating deed for some of us. We get confused where to look when stranger is passing by. What could possibly happen if we just look at them in the eyes and give them a friendly smile? 
I was in a “Positive Energy” workshop led by world famous healer Veet Mano, and we had this exercise where for a minute we had to hold hands with an absolute stranger and look deep into their eyes.Then hug, and change partner. This went on with seven different persons and it was pretty awkward to start with, but ended up being one of the most mind blowing mental exercises I’ve done. Staring someone you don’t know straight into eyes, while nearly getting a glimpse of their soul… Such a simple yet so powerful practice. I recommend this to everybody. 

  Learn to forgive. Forgiving doesn’t mean forgetting, but you must learn to let go of your past so you can move forward. You feel tons lighter and happier when you stop carrying your wounds and burdens around. Forgive your enemies and forgive yourself. Start fresh! Instead of being the person you are, try to be the person you want to be remembered as. 

 Be grateful and allow gratitude to bring warmth into your heart. Don’t let that “thank you” be just an empty word or a nice habit. Make a conscious effort and mean it when you say it. 

 Also be generous, as giving has a way to connect our hearts with the heart of others. Perform daily an act of unconditional love. For example say something nice to your mailman, smile to someone who seems to need it or make an effort to get to know someone you work with as a person. 

 While walking around or sitting with your mates, remember what your yoga teacher constantly reminds you about, “lift your heart!”, “open your chest”. There is to many people walking around hunched, with their shoulders turned in and hearts hidden away. Sitting or walking straight with an open chest, will bring you confidence and leave you feeling happier and stronger.

 Cuddle up! I love hugging, proper-deep-heart-to-heart hugs! Physical touch, especially hugging is very important for a healthy heart. It builds trust, gives a sense of safety and heals depression, anxiety and stress. I always try to hold a hug for 4 seconds to get a nice fix of serotonin in my brain to create happiness, but I’ve notice that usually after two seconds people try to pull away thinking what the hell is this new ager trying to do to me…

 Meditate. If your not familiar with meditation, then just go for a quiet walk, or sit in a beautiful place for a while. Breath into your heart, literally, imagine the air as a white light travelling into your heart and healing it. Great option is to lay down on your back and place a rolled up towel or cushion under your upper back to lift your chest. Dedicate this moment to yourself. Be present. Don’t think of future or the past, just be. Become centred and you pretty surely feel happier and calmer afterwards. 

 Practise yoga! There are poses that can balance your heart chakra, leaving you feeling compleatly at ease with yourself, full of love and happiness. Great poses for heart opening are upward facing dog, fish pose, camel pose, dancer pose, bow pose, shoulder stand ( my personal favourite).

  Go nuts! Release that inner child, run in the rain barefoot, laugh, sing in the shower. Dance, dance, dance to your favourite song. That’s what I do… My husband has got me these mini speakers all around the house, cause he knows that I have to have music everywhere, I dance and I absolutely loose it sometimes. Dare to stay wild, be who you were before the world told you who to be. 

  
 Most importantly LOVE! Love yourself, love others, love flowers, love little silly moments, love laughter, love kisses, love the spring breeze, love the feeling of crispy fresh bedlinens, love the smell of summer rain, love that perfect cup of coffee with the fresh croissants… Life is dazzling so just love it! 

Namaste 

Diana

Eat like a Yogi

Eat Like a Yogi
“This much I know. If you are what you eat, then I only wanna eat the good stuff” – Ratatouille 

The people who know me, knows that I Love Food! I can eat, eat, eat, from cupcakes to carbonara… I just absolutely, deeply, truly, passionately love to eat. While other girls can spend hours in shoe and bag shops, I’m capable to spend hours in grocery stores. Dreaming of different, delicious options, that will satisfy my stomach. When it comes to food, there is no stoping me, and I have to agree with Dalai Lama, when he was asked ‘What is your favourite meal?’. He replied ‘The one in front of me when I’m hungry’.

I pretty much eat anything, but I prefer my chicken free range, my eggs happy and my veggies organic. Every single cell in your body is made of what you eat, so if you live mainly on packaged products and Big Macs, the changes are that you’re not in the greatest shape of health…
So with great passion, I write this story about foods, good foods and bad ones, Ayurvedic and yogic diets.

Eating clean and keeping your nutritional needs in check is one of the most precious things you can do to yourself, to keep yourself full of life and cancer free. 
For years I was vegetarian, but because anaemia runs strong in our family, doctors told me to start to eat meat, as the iron from the vegetables didn’t absorb to my system. As a vegetarian I felt very tired, so there is a great lessons, listen to your body! There is no point in going vegetarian if your body suffers from it. You can tell you are eating the right stuff, when it makes you feel balanced. Veganism, vegetarianism, Paleo don’t suit everybody, so find your own combo, to keep yourself happy and satisfied. 

But always think of the impact of your food choices on the earth and on yourself. Try to choose organically grown and ethically raised meats, meats that haven’t been genetically changed. While eating fish, choose species that aren’t overfished, farmed or high in mercury. 

So what is this Ayurvedic diet? Ayurveda is one of the oldest healthcare systems in world. It comes from India and is deeply connected with yoga.

You might think that foods that are prescribed in India thousands of years ago wouldn’t suit the nowadays society, but there is definitely some foods that will bring you lightness and clarity, while keeping your body nourished and mind clear. 
In India my Ayurvedic doctor, Dr. Rohit Borakar, told me that I’m an absolute Vata, which is my Ayurvedic dosha. Dosha is a body type, and every body type – vata, pitta, kapha- comes with certain types of food that suits the body type and keep it in balance. Air and ether are my elements, and I drive on excitement, adventures, passion and temper, when my dosha is out of balance I get anxious and suffer from insomnia. (Check out your dosha, it’s so interesting and opens up so many doors to self discovery)…

   
 

Anyways, as a Vata, my doctor recommended me to avoid spicy food, bitter foods, salads, coffee, ice cream, etc. I was like “No Ice Cream? Why don’t you just take me behind the barn and shoot me?” I was in shock! But he said that most importantly never suffer, if you really want an ice cream, have an ice cream, just remember to have a ginger tea afterward. Well, I consume approximately seven ginger teas daily…

In Ayurvedic diet there is three types of food. Sattvic foods, Rajasic foods and Tamasic foods. 

Sattvic foods are fresh, pure and vibrant, easy to digest. They make us feel happy, promote purity of mind, intelligence, and clear decision making. Examples of Sattvic foods are fresh fruits, vegetables, rice, grains, beans, lentils, yogurt, honey, sesame and coconut oil, nuts, etc. 

Rajasic foods are stimulating, salty, spicy, bitter and sour. They give us motivation, keep us attached to ego and make us feel restless. They should be used with moderation. Examples of Rajasic foods are peppers, citrus fruits, coffee, eggs, spicy food, chocolate, etc. 

Tamasic foods are dull and lifeless, mostly artificially processed. They lower your immunity to diseases and promote negative feelings. Tamasic foods are, red meat, fast food, canned food, soda, refined sugars, alcohol, leftovers, frozen foods, microwaved food, etc. 

  

Couple more points about bringing the yogic philosophies on your plate. 

Don’t take more then you need or can eat! Don’t go mental in a shop when you’re hungry and exited! It kills me, when I see food going into bin. The United Nation says that just a quarter of the food wasted globally would be enough to feed the 870 million people who lack enough to eat. So think wisely what goes into your grocery cart. 

Try to spread some good karma, by choosing your local farmers market. Supporting your community, your country. It might cost you few cents more for being organic, but I at least rather pay that few cents to the farmer than later on to the doctor. 

We also seem to eat for other reasons than hunger. We eat when we are bored, depressed or even when we are full. So next time when you rush to kitchen, ask yourself ‘am I really hungry’. Maybe glass of water is enough, or a fruit? I like to keep some nuts handy.

Last but not least, love your food! Cook with passion and care. Make the meal with love.  Use awareness while eating. Notice the smells, tastes, presentation. 

Don’t multitask, your Facebook account doesn’t get shut down if you don’t look at it while you’re eating. Take your time, enjoy every mouthful. That way you’ll notice when your full. 

Try new things, explore! Open yourself to all the delicious culinary experiences that world has to offer. Have an adventure in Mediterranean, Mexican and Indian cuisines. 

I’m off to my kitchen now, as all this writing made me a little hungry. I went a little loco at our new organic market earlier, so let’s see what delicious adventure waits ahead.

Namaste, 
Diana

Dreams do come true!

Follow your dreams
This little story is about dreams, following our passion,while embodying our talents.

Do you remember that time when you were a little kid and people would ask you what do you dream to be when you grow up?  The world was your oyster, every single door and window was open. Everyone told you to follow your dream. 

What happened when we grew up? Suddenly the society is telling you what to do, and claiming that you don’t have the potential to be what you want to be. 

Damn, if I want to be a tree hugging yogi mermaid, I most certainly am going to be a tree hugging yogi mermaid. There is no one stopping me or standing between my dreams. Cause I’m not gonna regret on my death bed, the things I haven’t done.  My dreams might take time to come true, but when they do, the world’s is going to be a little bit better place.

  
 I was inspired to write this story after reading an article about American dude. He was an office worker, extremely unsatisfied with his life. He wanted to be a ninja, that was he’s dream. One day he made a decision, he’ll go after his dream. He quit his job, moved to Japan, and for past years he’s been loyally training martial arts with the great master. 
I have not always chosen the safest path, in most cases I haven’t even chosen a path. Ive picked a thick jungle, and with my machete I’ve made my own path. I’ve made my mistakes, plenty of them. I have fell down, face first, but I’ve stood up and learned something important along the way. I’ve learned to notice the call of my heart. I’ve learned that the safest path is not necessary the best path for me and I’ve learned that the voice of fear is not always to be trusted. 
My dream has always been the same, just the ingredients have changed. I dreamt of being a yoga teacher and of coarse the saviour of all the stray dogs. I did it, I graduated from different yoga teacher trainings, and volunteered in different animal shelters around the world. 

I dream that I would have a yoga studio, with attached health cafe/dog shelter and a section dedicated for eastern healing arts. With my little eco-kids running around. Sounds like the wickedest place on earth, doesn’t it? Visited by health inspectors daily… Somehow, someday I’m going to have this crazy place, and if I get it right, it will be in a giant tree house. How cool would that be!?

I’m not just going to downgrade my dreams so they can fit this reality, oh no no no! I’m going to upgrade my confidence to match my destiny! I’ve dreamt about this for so long and my dreams don’t definitely have an expiration date. I’m as determined as a turtle crossing the road…

I know I’ll never be a billionaire with my goofy business ideas, but I don’t do it for money, I do it to be happy, I do it for me, cause I have this precious life, which I don’t want to waste on doing something that brings out the worst of me, something that doesn’t inspire me on any level. I want to bring joy to others, sharing my knowledge, not my stress. I want my life to be meaningful and I want to have a purpose. 

  
 But It’s so damn hard sometimes, and I have occasionally paused my dreams for a meaningless, money-making options. Bills are piling up, life interrupts and we must do jobs we don’t like to make the ends meet. Even though I’m always smiling and seem to be as happy as an Irish on a st.Patricks Day, but I still struggle and as any one, I sometimes feel like giving up. 

My dreams are so big, so precious and they deserve to be fulfilled, and most of all I deserve my dreams fulfilled. I am not going to settle. It’s my dreams that helped me through the roughest patches in my life, and they are the reasons I get up and try again. Without my dreams I’m nothing.

That ear to ear smile on my face after I finish teaching a yoga class is a proof that you can and you should follow your dreams.

I feel so balanced, so happy, when I get to share my passion with others. 
There is a tradition that I have. 

At the end of each year, I make a dream map. I write down words, add some pics, that represent my dreams for the next year. And I place this dream map on my mediation altar, so it’s somewhere sacred, somewhere where I can see it… 

Try this out. Write down your dream. Think what would you do if you could do anything you want? If you can choose one word to write on a paper, what would it be, who would you be? What would you do if you would have million dollars? 

A written goal brings clarity and focus. It gives you a direction. And by rewriting your goals you not only reaffirm what your goals are.You may also find new insights that bring more clarity and focus to your goal and life.

Tell this dream to someone you care about. The studies show, that having a close one asking about your dream, will give you that extra boost and motivation to fulfil it. 

It is easy to forget our dreams when the society and media is shooting us manufactured dreams from every single angle. Keeping us locked down and to busy to set our focus on our true passions.

I would highly recommend spending some time alone regularly, turning inwards, getting to know yourself… Self-discovery is so much easier than we think.

I use to be an extremely attached person. I probably hadn’t slept alone once till I was thirty. I was like a lost puppy, with big dreams… And when I met my husband, we had to spend months apart, cause I lived in Finland and he lived in Australia, and even when I moved to our Australian home, he would be working away for weeks. There was no option, I had to suck it up and learn to live by myself, and in these years I concurred most of my dreams. It seemed like a curse, but it ended up being a blessing, I grew from being a lost puppy to a wolf. My confidence grew so much when I actually started to fulfil my dreams, I was finally the person I had looked up to all my life. I am truly proud of myself and I continuously learn more, every single day. I’m motivated, challenged and exited. 

Dreams, dreams, dreams!
 Life is so short and it’s happening right now , so just pull yourself together and go for it, don’t waste your life doing something that you don’t love. 

  
Namaste

Diana