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Well-meaning social support services offer us advice on how to raise our children and stay healthy (sometimes based on outdated studies of suspect methods, sponsorship and conclusions).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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Power walking prowess

Wellington's Stunning Oriental Bay
Wellington's Stunning Oriental Bay

I think I have reached a new level of yoga geekdom. This morning while I was out on my “power” walk around Wellington’s stunning Oriental Bay, I had a breakthrough due in no small part to the loops of Anusara yoga.

In recent years, my tendency to be a speed demon has abated somewhat. As much as there are times when blasting around town is tempting and necessary, by and large I find myself much slower than I used to be. I’ve turned into more of a plodder than a power walker, truth be told. This is not great when you want to get your blood zooming around and bring a rosy flush of life to your face.

This morning within seconds of deciding to pick up the pace a bit, I realised why I’m reluctant to walk too fast these days. It’s not laziness, old age, the shoes that I’m wearing or the type of walking surface I happen to be on. It’s because when I try to achieve greater speed, I automatically go into hyper-extension mode. A-HA! Continue reading “Power walking prowess”

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Is your practice serving you?

Kelly Fisher
How do you feel?

How does your yoga practice make you feel? Most days, at the end of it, do you feel more in tune with yourself? Do you feel easier in your own body? Do you feel freer in your mind and more open in your heart? Do you feel more yourself and less your persona?

Even if it’s just a little, or only subtle, when you finish a practice and feel better than when you began, you can be sure that you’ve contributed to improving your wellbeing on many levels. The flow on effect of that healing will begin to positively impact upon everything you do, every relationship that you have and every choice you make.

If, on the other hand, you end up feeling depleted, wound up, twitchy and frustrated perhaps it’s time to examine the kind of practice that you’re doing (one size most certainly does not fit all) or the way in which you’re approaching your practice. Practicing yoga helps you to cultivate a deep knowledge of yourself and in order to derive the benefits of this practice, it must be approached with a deep respect for yourself. If your practice isn’t serving you, do something about it!

The best place to start is to examine your attitude and motivation. Why are you practicing yoga? What do you hope to experience or receive from the practice? Taking that into account, how will you approach your practice?

When you begin from a place of self-respect and care, invariably you are able to develop more sensitivity, more receptivity and greater self-harmony. And in my opinion, that’s the whole point really. It doesn’t matter exactly what kind of practice you’re doing, it matters how it serves you. When you’re practicing with the goal of taking care of yourself, you will know if a certain kind of practice is helping you or not.

I practice yoga to reconnect with the deep innate wellspring of truth, consciousness and bliss. When I take the time to connect with that part of myself, I notice everything changes. When I first started practicing, it was only subtle. Little by little though, as I collected these moments of time spent in remembrance of and connection with myself, it began to have a flow in effect to the rest of my life. Every day I become more authentic, more empowered, freer to be exactly who I am, how I am and through natural extension of that, I feel like I’m able to be of far greater service to the world around me.

How is your practice improving your life?

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Set your foundation, Flow with ease

Grounded GoddessIdeally, the very first thing we do in a yoga posture (asana) is set the foundation. We place our feet and/or our hands in a very particular way, with great intention and keen attentiveness to detail. We position our feet and hands carefully because the way the rest of the asana unfolds will be directly affected by the placement of the parts of us that are touching the ground.

Then, before we build the rest of the asana, we soften a little. When the foundation is strong and sure, we are able to breathe freely. Almost instinctively, we pause and we are able to open to the possibility of how the next few moments might unfold. From the clear physical foundation, with openness to the present moment, we then build the rest of the posture.

When we practice in this way, there is an internal surrender that can occur. The strength and support of our foundation sends subtle cues to our entire system so that some layers of tension can dissolve, muscles can release and space can open up.

Once a strong foundation is set and that openness occurs, it is tremendously satisfying and liberating to flow, either within a posture or between postures, taking just as much care to ensure that each foundation is clear so that we can fully experience freedom. With that freedom comes ease, not only in the body but also in the mind. We feel light and capable and discover that we are able to open more than we thought possible.

Practicing this way is a very different experience from casually moving into an asana without consideration for the foundation and quickly moving between postures before the first posture is fully expressed by the body. In my experience, when I move quickly without taking care with my foundation, I begin to gather internal tension, with deep internal muscles trying to compensate for the work that the larger muscles are meant to be doing. Beyond the physical, I notice I also begin to feel anxious or agitated.

Similarly in daily life off the mat, I notice that if I set my foundations wisely, I can soften and open to the possibility of what a given day or a given situation may hold. When I have my feet on the ground figuratively, I am far more able to go with the flow of life. If I neglect to take care of myself, everything else in my life suffers – I become tense, situations seem impossible, other people’s shortcomings become unbearable, I worry more, I demand more, I sleep less, I give less, I live less and I achieve less.

Consider the things that help you to set your foundation. A regular yoga practice is invaluable to creating internal steadiness. What else helps you to put your feet on the ground? What connects you to your innate wellbeing and joy? What food, drink and company make you feel healthy and whole? What activities light you up inside? What do you absolutely need to feel fully like the very best expression of yourself? THESE are the things you need to make sure you get. They aren’t luxuries. They are necessities. The world NEEDS you to come fully alive every single day.

I would encourage you to spend a few minutes in reflection and write down your answers to the questions above. Choose three non-negotiable things that you need to do to “set your foundation”, whether they be daily or weekly things. Then make setting your foundation a priority for at least three weeks (that’s how long it takes to form a habit). Notice how your life unfolds differently when you’ve got the internal softness that’s possible when you’ve properly set your foundation.

In my experience, the way that you take care of yourself has a direct impact on everything and everyone else in your life. When you’ve got the strength and surety that comes from setting your foundation, you can be open and responsive in your body and your mind instead of tense and contracted. Because of this, you are able to offer more kindness and be of greater service to every single person around you and to the world in general. You can go with the flow and live more fully.

~Kelly Fisher

**To learn more about ways to create sustainable ways to be of service to the world, check out the “Yoga in Action” courses that I run!

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Get outta your head!

Yoga is a practice that helps us to reconnect with our true nature, to remember the joy and light and beauty that we all possess. Yes, even YOU. The physical part of the practice uses the body, the breath and movement as a means to help us shift our internal experience of the world and ourselves for the better.

Generally speaking, movement for the sheer joy of it can facilitate our reconnection with abundant inner freedom. Somehow, along life’s journey, we gather “stuff” that clouds our ability to connect with our internal light and liberty. Continue reading “Get outta your head!”

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Attitude, Alignment and Action

Anusara Practice

We are so excited to have Katie and Clare joining us this weekend for Wellington’s first ever Anusara workshop! They will be introducing us to Anusara’s set of alignment principles and sharing some of the philosophical values of the Anusara style of yoga.

The foundational set of values in Anusara yoga is referred to as “The Three A’s”. The Three A’s are Attitude, Alignment and Action. There are many ways to define and apply these core values.

At a very basic level, my understanding is that “Attitude” refers to the quality of heart and intention that we bring to the practice. “Alignment” refers to the quality of mind and the knowledge of technique that we bring to the practice. “Action” is the use of the body to actually do the practice from a place of clear intention with an open heart and applying the knowledge that we have. Continue reading “Attitude, Alignment and Action”

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Shavasana Synchronicity

Have you ever noticed that sometimes at the end of shavasana, before you begin to breathe deeper or to move, there is a sense of peace and stillness in the room and in your body? Having experienced many shavasanas both as a participant and as a witness, I continue to be awed by the energetic state of a room in which shavasana has just occurred. It is calm and serene and seems to be absolutely still. Yet I know “stillness” is not exactly the right way to describe the feeling in the room.

I’ve been contemplating the possibility that perhaps what is felt at those moments is not stillness at all but something more like synchronicity. Science tells us that absolute stillness does not exist – everything is composed of billions of particles that are all vibrating at varying rates. Perhaps what we perceive as stillness is really just all of our particular particles vibrating at the same rate – in synch with one another? When we’re in a group setting like a class, the peaceful energy that can be felt might just be each person’s particles vibrating in concert with everyone else’s in the room. Continue reading “Shavasana Synchronicity”

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I LOVE my job!

As someone who has managed to turn her passion into her day job, I consider myself to be a very lucky girl indeed. There is no greater joy for me than to be able to share yoga with the amazing beings that cross my path on a daily basis. I learn from every student who honours me with his or her presence in the yoga room. As an offering back to those people (you guys!!), I feel it’s important to keep my knowledge growing and evolving. I’ve studied a variety of yoga styles and theories. I’ve found that every school of thought imparts something valuable that I can integrate into my toolkit. In this way, I am better able to serve the students that I meet.

One style in particular though, repeatedly offers me an unsurpassed wealth of fascinating insights, deeply encouraging teachings and opens all sorts of new doors to possibility as a teacher, a student and a human being.Over the past three years, teachers from the Anusara style of yoga have been making their way to NZ to offer workshops and immersions. I have been fortunate enough to have attended at least one of these workshops per year and have even travelled to LA to study more Anusara yoga. Continue reading “I LOVE my job!”

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