Are you ready to grow up?

I think it’s time more of us chose to grow up.

As a culture, we are inundated with information. News media keeps us up to date on all the drama of our times. Our social media news feeds educate us on things we never knew we needed to learn. Podcasts offer a plethora of fantastic and less-than-fantastic conversations. Advertisements bombard us from billboards, magazines, radio, television. On the rare occasion when we’re not being plied with data from external sources, we can find almost anything we want to know with an internet connection and a decent command of Google.

What we seem to lack, however, is mature discernment.

Just because we find it on the internet, an ancient text said something, a “Gold Standard” scientific study proves it or a teacher offers it to us, does not necessarily make the information pertinent to us as individuals. So why do we allow ourselves to be baffled by conflicting stories and studies? Or worse, swallow these things, hook, line and sinker?

The conspiracy theorist in me reckons we have been conditioned out of the ability to think for ourselves to a very large degree. Well-meaning social support services offer us advice on how to raise our children and stay healthy (sometimes based on outdated studies of suspect methods, sponsorship and conclusions). Schools teach children to sit still to learn even though anyone who’s ever watched a child truly engaged with the process of learning, knows they need kinetic energy to support them. Homework conditions them to take work home so they’ll eventually be good employees and creating greater possibility of disrespecting their own boundaries to serve someone else’s agenda. Science is sometimes for sale and subject to manipulation of data. Popular media is controlled by interest groups. And don’t get me started on religion…

For centuries, practices that encouraged our own thinking were deemed dangerous by the powers that be. They were demonised to the extent that “good people” would eschew them in favour of widely approved practices and morality.


My own journey into better discernment has been a lifelong remembering process that has required me to turn inward time and again. It’s been, and continues to be, an ongoing process to learn to trust my own voice, my own bone-deep knowing and at times, to go against the world around me to honour it.

As a child, I was hauled to church, encouraged to accept Jesus as my saviour and taught to worship at the altar of God’s love.

Many things didn’t make sense to my young mind – why did we have to fund raise to send missionaries to “save” people in remote villages across the world? If someone had never heard of Jesus and died, I couldn’t fathom why a “loving God” would condemn them to Hell forever. Why did we have to give a tenth of our income to be part of a community of “unconditional” love and support? What about the poor people with no income? What was the point of arcane rituals that came with no explanation, no internal connection? Why so many rules from the outside?

While I never felt fully at home at the church, I persisted with church attendance and Sunday School teaching (!) until well after my wedding and into my 20’s. Leaving the church was not easy and my father was not happy with me but there came a point where I could do no other.

As a young, impressionable undergraduate, I was indoctrinated into the scientific lineage and taught to worship at the altar of randomised, double-blind, placebo controlled studies.

Again, many things didn’t make sense to me. So many of the studies that met the “Gold Standard” had logic gaps you could drive a truck through. How was a study of 150 undergraduates who were given credit for participating reflective of a whole population, as was often inferred? I was taught to make broad generalisations and to sweep outliers under the proverbial carpet. I became adept at using mathematical models to manipulate the findings of existing studies so that the exact same numbers could be made to show a totally different conclusion. I watched the media further manipulate the results of studies with suspect methodologies to create eye-catching headlines.

While I couldn’t bring myself to delve deeper into this dissonant world of academia by pursuing further study, there was nearly a decade where a huge proportion of my conversations began with the phrase “Studies have shown….”, as a means of establishing the veracity of my point of view.

Finally, as a disillusioned woman on the precipice of my Saturn return, I began investigating Traditional Chinese Medicine, Yoga, Meditation and Poetry – some of the very things deemed “dangerous” by the church elders of my youth and poo-pooed by my colleagues in the science lab.

Suddenly, I felt at home. No one was asking me to go against my internal voice, rather I was being handed tools for remembering the source of my innate wisdom. There was so much that made sense, so many ideas from disparate lineages that converged and ultimately, the encouragement to listen inwardly to test the veracity of what I was being told.

In her poem “Wild Geese”, Mary Oliver eloquently summed up the relief I felt at this homecoming into awareness:


Ultimately we are unique creatures with so many factors at play that no one outside of us can possibly track them all to determine what’s best for us in any context. We abdicate authority in our own lives when we hand over discernment to others. At best, other people, including well-studied experts can only be our guides, offering suggestions for experimentation. We must take responsibility for observing the results of those experiments and making skillful decisions about how we proceed in the current season of our lives.

It’s an ongoing commitment. For example, what you learn about how to manage yourself in the winter in your 30’s might might bear no resemblance to what you need in the summer of your 50’s or the autumn of your 70’s. To truly own our capacity to thrive, we must take nothing for granted and stay wide awake to our lived reality as it evolves.

These days, it’s my mission to help people conduct n=1 studies to learn how they think, feel and respond to something. Everything else is actually irrelevant. Even the frameworks of yoga, meditation and lifestyle techniques that I use are just that – frameworks. They give us a jumping off point for the investigation and ensuing conversation.

Taking ownership of the investigation of ourselves, what the yogis called svadhyaya, and the decision making at the very deepest level of our lives is not for the faint of heart. Make no mistake, the challenge can be immense and it is tempting to hand back authority when the going gets rough. But the potential payoff is incredible – developing the skill of discernment opens up vistas of possibility in every sphere of our lives, including how we can serve the people around us and our planet.

Now that’s what I call being a grown up.


If you’d like to join me for a journey into remembering how to discern subtleties for yourself, let’s have a conversation about how we could do that and what tools we could use. There are options – from in-person private sessions, to group processes, to distance learning and incorporating techniques that range from yoga to meditation to lifestyle habits to deciphering scientific findings as well as many other things. 

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Kelly’s Kitchari

Inspiration from many sources, adaptations all over the place so this is not a strictly traditional recipe – just so you know. Feel free to play with it and notice what you like and how you feel after each variation you try. The possibilities are endless. 

Kitchari is a tremendously grounding, comforting food. I was originally introduced to it years ago by a dear friend when I really needed some extra nurturing and care. Then I went Paleo for years, abandoning grains, etc and forgot all about it.

Fast forward to after my appendix burst. The only thing I wanted when I got home from hospital was Kitchari, despite the fact that I hadn’t had it in years. OMG it was sooo good. I ate it for weeks in my healing phase. And I still make it about once a week, especially now that the weather has turned.

As it turns out, Kitchari is considered a complete, healing food in Ayurveda because it’s simple to digest. The body has a chance to detoxify because it’s not so occupied with digesting complicated stuff

The recipe and method all in one – I find it easier to explain that way:

Soak the following in plenty of good quality water for between 4-12 hours. The longer the better if you have weak digestion or tend to gas/bloating. Then rinse thoroughly and pick out the yukky beans.

  • 1 cup Split Yellow Mung Beans OR 1 cup Green Mung Beans
  • ¾ cup White Basmati Rice OR ¾ Quinoa

When you’re ready to cook:

  • ¼ cup coconut oil or ghee, melted in a big pot.

Mix and match the following according to your preference, the season or your constitution if you know it. About 1-2 teaspoons each and toast in the oil for a few minutes:

  • Coriander Seeds
  • Cumin Seeds
  • Black Mustard Seeds
  • Fennel Seeds
  • Fenugreek Seeds

Once that’s done, add any combination of the following and stir until fragrant. Be careful not to let it burn. Don’t get hung up if you don’t have some of these things. Use what you have and experiment later.:

  • 1 tablespoon Coriander powder
  • 1 tablespoon Turmeric powder (or a couple of small thumbs of fresh Turmeric Root grated)
  • 1-2 teaspoons Ginger powder (or up to 1 tablespoon of fresh Ginger Root, grated)
  • 1-2 teaspoons Cumin powder
  • 1-2 teaspoons Fennel powder
  • 1-2 bay leaves

Then add:

  • 6-8 cups filtered water (for thickness preferred)
  • 2 teaspoons rock salt or pink salt

Boil for 15 minutes on medium heat. Turn heat to low, cover pot and continue to cook until mung beans and rice/quinoa become soft (30-40minutes).

For a simple, easy to digest, healing food – that’s it.

But you can always fancy it up a bit if you’re feeling like you can handle a bit more complexity.

If you want to add veggies, aim for 2-4 cups:

  • For more grounding, add diced root vegetables in the last 20 minutes of cooking: carrots, beets, turnips, parsnips, or sweet potato. Be warned though, too many make it stodgy. Blech.
  • For more lightness, you could consider adding in some capsicum or courgette close to the end of cooking time if you don’t want too many root vegetables.
  • FYI, I don’t really like kitchari with broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage or the like but feel free to experiment.
  • Stir in some fresh greens like kale, chard, collards, celery, or shredded fennel when done cooking. Allow to sit for a few minutes before you serve it.
  • Garnish with any fresh herbs you like, flavoured Avocado or Olive Oil, fresh Avocado, Sauerkraut, lime, lemon, fresh sprouts, ….get creative.
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99 things that didn’t help me sleep…and one thing that did

I was a great sleeper for the first 30+ years of my life. Back in the day, I used to have to set the alarm clock on full blast and leave it across the room in order to be disturbed by it. In fact, normally other people in the house were disturbed first and proceeded to wake me up after shutting the alarm off.

As life evolved in my 30’s, I experienced a few sleep disturbances, mostly addressed with some sleepy time tea, magnesium and a yoga pose. Maybe some Acupuncture for the really tough times when I found I was waking up once or twice to go to the loo <insert eye roll here – how little I knew about real sleep issues>.

All that changed when I had a child.

To cut a long story short – my son was not a good sleeper in his infancy. Waking up with him every 45 minutes for 21 months took its toll on my innate sleep goddess capacities. When he finally slept again but I found that I could not, my desperation to find a solution reached a fever pitch in very short order.

My partner quips that I turned our house into a laboratory on my quest to join the ranks of the well-rested, sane population. But he’s really not kidding. Like the good science student I am, I conducted extensive research, consulting the literature – both the double-blind, placebo kind and the pop-science kind. I read books, I listened to podcasts, I talked to experts, I scoured the internet. I paid A LOT of money to a LOT of people. I gathered data and I ran experiments. A LOT of experiments.

Here’s a list, in no particular order, of the things that I tried in an effort to improve my sleep:

Yoga breathing – Ujjayi

Yoga breathing – Nadi Shodana

Yoga breathing – Chandra Bhedana

Yoga breathing – Brahmari

Yoga breathing – Sama Vritti

Yoga poses – hip openers

Yoga poses – inversions

Yoga poses – forward bends

Yoga Nidra

Mantra Meditation

Kundalini Meditation

Insight Meditation

Guided Meditation

Silent Meditation

Tart Cherry

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

Acupuncture

Cranio-sacral Therapy

Chiropractic

Osteopathic adjustments

Postural Patterning

Qigong

Reiki

Crystal Therapy

Sound Therapy

Massage

Emotional Freedom Technique

Yoga Therapy balls

Rescue Remedy’s sleep formula

Sleep drops

Sam-E

Magnesium capsules

Magnesium Oil

Epsom Salts baths

Flotation tank

Sauna with cold plunge

5-HTP

Passionflower

Skullcap

Valerian

Lavender oil

Progesterone

Multi-vitamins

Fish oil supplements

Vitamin D

Vitamin C mega-doses

Probiotics – several kinds

Ashwaganda

Reishi Mushrooms

light blocking blinds

turning off the Wi-Fi at night

exercising during the day

getting sufficient sun exposure

f.lux/Night Shift apps to reduce blue light

soft lamps with warm bulbs

watching funny TV before bed

not watching anything on TV before bed

reading before bed

101 kinds of sleepy-time tea

a shot or three of whisky in the above tea

avoiding alcohol within three hours of bedtime

cutting out alcohol altogether

only having caffeine before noon

eliminating caffeine altogether

eating chocolate in the morning

eating only whole foods

getting plenty of greens

cutting down on greens

eating carbs before bed

eating protein and fat before bed

not eating within three hours of bedtime

avoiding sesame seeds at dinner

having a heavy dinner

having a light dinner

having five meals a day

having three meals a day

snacking

not snacking

eliminating gluten, dairy and sugar

eating all of the above

tinkering with the spices in my food

getting lots of mental stimulation during the day

minimising mental stimulation during the day

keeping the room cool

keeping the room warm

lots of covers

wearing socks

sleeping naked

foot massage with oil before bed

sleeping alone

sex

relaxation music

earplugs

walking barefoot on the beach

sleeping on my back

sleeping on my right side

sleeping on my left side

windows open/windows closed

journalling

And do you know what? None of them worked.

Not in isolation anyway. There is no one single thing that worked to get me sleeping again. And no combination that seemed reliable. Just when I thought something was effective, it stopped working. Everything seemed murky and slippery and confusing.

Why?

Because all the self-help techniques, supplements and studies in the world cannot offer a universal solution for sleeplessness.

What finally got me sleeping again for a reliable 6.5-7.5 hours per night?

Super simple really – I had to start from the beginning. I had to throw out all of the ideas about what to do and re-align myself with nature’s rhythms first and foremost.

As free as we are to do what we like 24/7, there are certain biological facts that cannot go unheeded forever. In youth, maybe. I think that’s debatable as well – we’re learning now that some of the diseases of degeneration start as early as the womb or the highchair. For me, it all fell apart on the cusp of my 40th birthday.

So I went back to the beginning, to see what the rhythms of nature suggest in terms the timing of various daily actions. Despite deep resistance to some of the ideals, I was so desperate that I aligned my day as best as I could.

Within weeks, I started sleeping more than I had in years. Only then could I tinker with the variables above in a clear way so as to identify what needed to make up my personal sleep kit.

There is no one size fits all. But there is a biological rhythm that got it’s start 37 billion years ago that can form a solid baseline from which to refine. From there, I’ve been able to identify a handful of non-negotiables and a couple of nice-to-haves but I have been able to throw out the rest.

I can help you to do the same. If you want to know more about how, check out my Sleep Wise Habits and schedule a free conversation.

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Simple Golden Milk

Now that the weather’s turning colder, I love a warm drink to wrap my hands around. Golden milk is an unctuous, satisfying drink that boosts your health at the same time! Great as a morning pick-me-up or a comforting part of a bedtime routine.

To make a big single cup or two small ones:

  • 1 cup of any kind of milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tsp organic ground turmeric (or 2cm fresh turmeric, diced
  • 1/4 tsp of ground black pepper (so that your body can get the most benefit from the turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil
  • maple syrup or honey to taste
    Whisk  milk, water, turmeric, pepper, cinnamon and coconut oil in a small saucepan and bring to a low boil. Reduce heat and simmer until flavours have melded, about 10 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into mugs. Add sweetened as desired.If you want to make this daily, as I do, consider making a Golden Milk Paste to keep in a jar. It will last a couple of weeks and all you have to do is stir about a teaspoon into your warmed milk. Easy

To make paste:

  • 1 cup water (plus more on hand if mixture gets gluggy)
  • 1/2 cup organic ground turmeric
  • 3 tsps ground pepper
  • 2 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil

Bring the turmeric and water to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer until you have a thick paste. This should take about 7-10 minutes and you may need to add additional water along the way.

Add the freshly ground pepper, cinnamon and oil at the end of cooking, when the turmeric and water mixture has cooled down to just warm. Stir well to incorporate the oil and allow to cool. Store in a glass jar in the fridge for up to two weeks.

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Shortcut to Relaxation

Here’s a little guided meditation you can do lying down or sitting up. Once you get good at it, you won’t need the recording and no one will even know you’re doing it. Handy for stressful situations where you have to stay physically present but you feel like you need a little bit of mental space.

How does it work? When you follow along with the rotation of awareness around some key structures of your face and torso, you will be activating your vagus nerve which helps create a sense of safety, ease and inner resource within your nervous system. Doing this a couple of times a day can create subtle but profoundly restful shifts within your body mind. Keep practicing because the benefits accumulate.

Enjoy!

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Where have I been?

I’ve been a little quiet on the blog and teaching front since becoming a mother and selling my studio.  I’ve been facing huge challenges over the past couple of years. There’s nothing like a massive life shift to show you where the weaknesses in your arsenal are! Let me just say that of all the “dark nights of the soul” and health instability in my life, this last period has taken the cake.
But I’m back now. And so very different than ever before. While asana, pranayama and meditation are still interesting to me, I know first-hand that they are best leveraged with a consideration of small, subtle yet crucial lifestyle factors as well. I’m playing a different game, this new side of 40.
In order to make my way back to health and wellbeing, I did so much to stay consciously balanced and well. I could only wonder why I continued to feel so terrible and why I kept spiralling downward. It was like nothing I was doing was getting in, no matter how hard I tried. It was like all of the tools I had so carefully cultivated over a lifetime were behind an impenetrable glass wall through which I could not reach.
I wasn’t “sick” by any recognisable diagnostic criteria per se YET (except that one time when my appendix burst or the recurring bouts of unexplained vomiting that I had for over two years) but I can tell you for sure that I was not well, physically or mentally. I consulted experts, dutifully consumed my supplements and had my adjustments but nothing gave me the kind of grounding I was looking for. I was panicking. I reckon it was a matter of time before I got sick enough to be diagnosed with one of the diseases of our time – autoimmune, adrenal, thyroid or something.
So I did a LOT of research to find out what I was missing. There is so much info out there, it’s overwhelming. I’ve listened to a University degree’s worth of podcasts alone – never mind the reading, course work and articles. That said, a few themes kept recurring in all places – from ancient healing modalities to modern health science.
They’re encapsulated quite elegantly in a programme I’ve been inspired by and empowered to teach and adapt. Handily enough, it stems largely from yoga’s sister science Ayurveda. It’s not a cure-all but its the foundation that I was missing.
In the end, I made just a few subtle tweaks from what I had been doing to create a profound shift in my ability to help myself – and to get back to the business of helping others. It’s my feeling that in offering this to others, it will make whatever else they’re doing to maintain or improve their health that much more potent.
Want to know more? Check out Body Thrive!
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Private Practice

Me&my favourite teacher
Me&my favourite teacher

The tools of a variety of yoga traditions have catalysed ongoing and often intense transformation in my life, the latest of which is my transition from yoga studio owner into freelance teacher and full-time mother. The crucible of my yoga and meditation practices has held strong as the facades and personas with which I identified for a lifetime have been subtly and not-so-subtly stripped away. Authenticity has pursued me relentlessly ever since the first time I stepped onto a mat.

Teaching yoga has been my full time occupation since 2005. I have developed a skill and a feeling for guiding yoga students as safely as possible towards their own greater experience of authenticity. In my opinion, yoga is not one size fits all. Through study with many great teachers, I’ve gathered a diverse set of tools so that I can accommodate a broad range of students.

Lately, I’ve found my best offering is done in private sessions and small groups of sincere students. While it’s really fun to be part of big public classes, there comes a point in every person’s practice where dedicated teaching is optimal for navigating your personal path.

For some, it’s right at the commencement of their yoga journey. I love working with beginners who want to lay a firm foundation before heading out into the wide world of yoga to explore the smorgasbord of experiences.

For others, it’s following injury or during illness. I’ve worked with many students through a variety of situations for which a big class setting would not serve their needs at that time. Whether it’s breast cancer, a sore knee, a broken heart or anything else, the yoga practice can be adapted to support you on tricky parts of your journey.

Dedicated yoga students come to me for fine tuning their practice or exploring more subtle dimensions than they felt they could on their own. Alignment, anatomy, physiology and neuropsychology are all areas I’ve studied intensely and I love to share what I’ve learned with those who are interested.

I also love working with new teachers from lots of different traditions to help them find their voice and to navigate the early days of teaching. It can be overwhelming to finish teacher training, often in a cocooned and safe environment, only to head out into your community as a “teacher” without a clue of what to do next or anyone to hold your hand. After a decade of teaching and almost that long owning/running yoga studios, offering mentorship to a select few teachers is an honor and a privilege for me.

So if you’ve reached a point in your yoga journey where you think you’d benefit from one-to-one sessions, please get in touch via email kelly@kellyfisheryoga.com. I’d be delighted to work with you in person or via Skype if the situation suits.

Namaste,

K

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