Self Compassion by Kristen Neff – Book review

Summary

A very interesting book looking at self compassion and how to foster and approach it. A book that I have filled with page markers and annotations for referring back to.

Self Compassion by Kristen Neff
A heavily tabbed Self Compassion book!

Review

Ahimsa / Compassion or non-violence is the first of the Yama (restraints) in the first limb of the eight limbs of yoga as described by Patanjali. When we talk of compassion we tend to think of this as an outwards thing towards other people. We often find it more difficult directing compassion towards ourselves. It is important that we practice compassion towards ourselves in order that we can be compassionate to others.

The full title of this book is Self Compassion – stop beating yourself up and leave insecurity behind. So, consequently the book sets out the three core components to self compassion; Self Kindness, Common Humanity and Mindfulness. Most importantly this book sets out how to limit self-criticism and its harmful effects.

The Self Critic

One of the most insightful aspects of this book for me personally was understanding the patterns of your inner self critic and where they come from. As a result of this, one can then begin to see that it is not your fault that you have a self critic. In fact, Neff wonderfully points out, we are all just human. We are not perfect and make mistakes, after all we are only human! It is this element of seeing the bigger picture that was also a moment where I sat and reflected. Neff describes this as the greater human experience, being part of the greater humanity. This has parallels to the concept of Ishvara pranidhana in Yoga, surrender to the divine. I often describe this concept as feeling a part of something greater than your individual self. We are all part of the common human experience.

The book nicely explains how the self-critic that we all have is a survival instinct. It originates from the fight or flight response and the associated negativity basis that we have. Our species survived because we were always on the look out for danger. We were able to pre-empt danger. We were able to criticise ourselves for doing things wrongly or for making mistakes. However, this is where the problem now lies. We are not in any immediate survival related danger in our western societies. So the self critic does not serve us well. Consequently the self critic is a source of stress and depression.

The Illusion of Perfection

A further part of this book that was quite insightful was the discussion around the illusion of perfection. The idea that we need to be “perfect.”

All too often , however, our minds fool us into thinking that we can, and in fact should, be other than we are.

Neff, Self Compassion p70

The above quote summarises a common theme in our self critic. It relates to any aspect of life. The book puts this in to context by stating that it is not possible for everyone to be “perfect.” If that was the case there would be no reference point from which to measure. One element of practicing self compassion is allowing yourself to realise that you are only human. Humans make mistakes and in all likelihood many people have made very similar mistakes to you time and time again. Rather than beat yourself up, allow yourself to acknowledge that making mistakes is part of being human.

This approach is therefore absolutely mindfulness. It is about seeing things for how they really are rather than through the skewed view of the self critic. It is about learning to respond to mistakes and challenges with self compassion. This is in contrast to reacting with the same old internal self critical voice.

The book concludes nicely with a chapter on self appreciation. Actually allowing yourself to appreciate yourself! Trying to adopt this as a habit.

In Summary

Self Compassion by Kristen Neff sets out an approach to allow you to be aware of your self critic and to approach it with self compassion. An approach that encourages you to console yourself and acknowledge your feelings and responses to any given stimuli. And to then move forward with self compassion, letting go of the self critic and the associated insecurities.

Further resources

You can purchase the book on Amazon here:

You can find out more about Kristen Neff on her website; https://self-compassion.org/

Here is a previous blog relating to tips for dealing with stress; Mental Health Awareness Week – helpful tips to deal with stress

Brightening our Inner Skies Yin and Yoga by Norman Blair – Book Review

Brightening our Inner Skies – Yin and Yoga by Normal Blair is a wonderful personal reflection on a journey through yoga. It is also a guide to Yin Yoga and a commentary on how Yoga and social responsibility are more relevant than ever.

What’s it all about?

I bought this book at the beginning of 2018 after we had booked to attend some training with Norman. Therefore, I wanted to get a feel for what Norman was about before the course. What I find most refreshing and appealing about this book is that Norman is very real. He writes openly and honestly about his journey through yoga and the shifting and changing challenges that life throws at us. As a result this book resonated with me and made it feel reassuring and life affirming.

The book is presented with lots of inspiring quotes and references. It pulls together lots of information from an array of sources. Those who have been taught by Norman will know of his ability to quote and recite interesting and thought provoking pieces, weaving them through his sessions. This book takes the pressure off you having to remember them! Norman has kindly compiled them here for us!

Norman passionately relates and reflects on the relevance of Yin Yoga as an antidote to modern society and life. My own personal experience of Yin helped me through a challenging transitionary period of my life.

What Yin Yoga has meant to me

After 15 1/2 years working at a desk, I took redundancy to become a Yoga Teacher. As a result I left a busy middle management job in the Civil Service which had required me to travel all over the country pretty much on a weekly basis. Consequently transitioning to being at home and taking time to adjust was a challenge. As a result I was drawn instinctively to a Yin Yoga practice, a calming nurturing practice that I had been introduced to via a workshop. This had been with the wonderful British Wheel of Yoga teacher Paul Wooding in Liverpool. Paul has a very real and nurturing approach. I travelled to his Wednesday morning Yin classes as often as I could and they helped with my transition from such a busy “doing” office lifestyle to a new chapter in my life.

You can read a bio for both of us and details of the training we have undertaken here: About

Training with Norman

We were lucky enough to undertake Yin Yoga teacher training with Norman Blair at Yoga Campus in Manchester back in June 2018. We As a result of spending time with Norman it really brought to life the content of his book and it was great to meet him and train with him.

At the Yoga Campus training in Yin Yoga with Norman Blair

As a Yoga teacher, Brightening our Inner Skies is a great resource and reference guide. Hence, it happily sits alongside my Bernie Clark Yin Yoga book. For me, a great yoga book is one that I read with a pencil, a highlighter and some sticky page markers. This is one of those books, a book that you want to make sure you can easily find a quote or a phrase in, a book that you want to dip in and out of for some time to come.

Brightening Our Inner Skies Yin and Yoga – with plenty of tabs to refer back to!

In Summary

Brightening our Inner Skies Yin and Yoga is both a guide to Yin, teaching Yin and also a way finder for the modern world. Thank you to Norman for realising this book, I highly recommend it.

You can purchase a copy of the book from Amazon through the link below:

We are members of the Amazon Affiliates scheme.

You can find out more about Norman Blair here;

https://www.yogawithnorman.co.uk/
https://www.facebook.com/Yoga-with-Norman-183652105002257/
https://www.instagram.com/yogawithnorman/
https://twitter.com/yogawithnorman

Yogasmiths Paul and Steve

Yogasmiths Charity Christmas Raffle 2019

Yogasmiths third annual Charity Christmas Raffle raised £1,353 for Wirral’s Homeless CIC.

Raffle and Party

The Christmas spirit was in full swing on Thursday 12th December in West Kirby at our annual Yogasmith’s Christmas party and charity raffle. The event raised £1,353 for local charity Wirral Homeless CIC, double what was raised the previous year.

There was a great turnout with around 100 of our yoga class students in attendance at Tanskey’s Bistro on South Parade in West Kirby.

We are truly overwhelmed with the generosity of our yoga students in both providing prizes, purchasing tickets and donations. We are delighted to be able to support the great work of Wirral Homeless CIC.

As a result of peoples generosity, the raffle had nearly 100 prizes ranging from vouchers donated by local businesses to hand made gifts made by our class attendees.

Yogasmiths Paul and Steve, Yogasmiths charity Christmas raffle
Yogasmiths Paul and Steve

Robyn (one of the founders of Wirral’s Homeless CIC) and Graham Wilson, from the charity attended the event and said;

“Wow… just absolutely overwhelming amount raised! It was a great night and such a fun atmosphere. This amount of money will make a difference and put smiles on the faces of people who don’t get to smile often. We can take a few of the guys shopping and support our ongoing treat night too amongst other things! We salute the Yogasmiths and all their members and supporters, what a beautiful yoga community”.

Paul and Steve from Yogasmiths with Robyn and Graham from Wirral's Homeless CIC, Yogasmiths charity Christmas raffle
Paul and Steve from Yogasmiths with Robyn and Graham from Wirral’s Homeless CIC

Cheque and donations handover

Yogasmiths charity Christmas raffle
Paul & Steve handing over the cheque to Georgie from Wirral’s Homeless CIC

On Friday we met with Georgie from Wirral’s Homeless CIC to hand over the cheque of all the monies raised and also the donations of hats, gloves, scarves and underwear. We hadn’t realised quite how much we had collected until we came to put it all in the van to take round. Check out the picture below!

Yogasmiths Christmas charity collection of hats, gloves, scarves and underwear

You can check out details of all the prizes that were donated and up for grabs here; https://pauls93.sg-host.com/2019/12/07/yogasmiths-christmas-party-charity-raffle-collection-for-wirrals-homeless-cic/

You can find further details about Wirral’s Homeless CIC here: https://www.facebook.com/Wirralshomeless/

Photographs from Museum of the Moon Event at Birkenhead Town Hall on 13th November 2019

Hi Everyone, we have received some wonderful photographs taken by the official photographer at the Museum of the Moon event where we taught a yoga session under the moon in Birkenhead Town Hall. The session took place on Wednesday 13th November 2019 and was hosted by Wirral Borough Council.

Mark McNulty Photographer

My old friend Mark McNulty was wonderful photographer. I DJed with Mark for many years over in Liverpool at Liquidation / Uptight in Le Bateau. It was a nice surprise to run into him. You can check out his website and social media channels at;
http://www.markmcnulty.co.uk/
https://www.instagram.com/markmcnulty/
https://twitter.com/markmcnulty

Thank you for coming to the Museum of the Moon event!

Thank you to everyone who came to the event, it was such a great experience to teach under the Museum of the Moon and a real once in a lifetime opportunity. Also a big thank you to the Culture Team at Wirral Council and Imagine Wirral.

Check out the picture below and let us know what you think!

Our Wirral Yoga Classes

If you enjoyed the session and would like to join one of our classes, check out the detail of where we teach and when here: https://pauls93.sg-host.com/classes/

Thanks Paul & Steve x

 

Yoga Workshops – Sunday 13th October

Join us for our October Yoga workshop day at Westbourne Hall on Sunday 13th October at Westbourne Road, West Kirby, CH48 4DQ

We will have a full day of Yoga from 11:00 till 17:00.

In the morning (11:00 till 13:30) we will have an inversions workshop looking at;
* Foundations & strength building for inversions, e.g. headstand & handstand
* Safe practice tips for shoulder stand and plough poses
* Gaining confidence in your practice using a staged approach
* The chance to go upside down with teacher assistance! (optional!)

In the afternoon (14:30 till 17:00) we will have a partner yoga workshop where we will look at;
* Tips and tools for improving balance
* Practicing balancing poses alone and with a partner
* Working with a partner to develop your balance
* Have some fun!
You do not need to bring a partner to come to this workshop!

Cost : £37 for both workshops or £20 per workshop

(non refundable unless space can be filled) – Please book early as places are limited, you can pay at one of our weekly classes or by BACS. Please email us at enquires@yogasmiths.org or send us a Facebook message to book your place.

Please bring with you a packed lunch and a blanket. We have use of the kitchen at Westbourne Hall for teas and coffees and to heat any food you bring. There will be a long table for us to sit at and eat our lunch together.

You may wish to bring your own yoga mat and props, however, we will have plenty for people to use.

There are a good number of places in West Kirby where you could purchase lunch should you not wish to bring a packed lunch.

Westbourne Hall has a free car park with plenty of parking spaces.

We are British Wheel of Yoga and Yoga Alliance trained teachers, fully insured through the British Wheel of Yoga.

You get two friendly teachers which ensures safe practice and plenty of attention and modifications are offered so that the classes are inclusive for all abilities.

Please check out the event on our Facebook page;
https://www.facebook.com/events/376596526351229/

We look forward to guiding you through your yoga practice.

Paul & Steve Yogasmiths