As I am set to visit the Philippines for my god-daughter’s wedding, I have been reflecting upon the love, pride and happiness I am feeling for her. I can only imagine what her mother would feel at this time, if she was still with us.

A mother’s love is the most pure and unconditional in this world. We form our very first intimate relationship with them and despite our experiences when we are young, this relationship goes on to define our lives and view of the world. There are no perfect relationships. Even as we grow older, we inevitably form many other bonds, some of which may have the same qualities of a mother’s love.

I believe Motherhood is a calling and not necessarily exclusive for those who have borne children. Whenever we rescue an animal from the streets or feed a hungry stranger, these are simply manifestations of this maternal love.

We often see mothers putting their children’s desires above their own, providing for their needs and never expecting anything in return. They keep giving from their ever-flowing reservoir of love, and never once regret it. As Mother’s Day rolls around this March, let’s honour this love we have received, no matter in which form, and show them how much they mean to us.

One of the best ways to do this is to strengthen our bonds of love, starting with understanding our mom’s language of love. We all have different languages of showing and receiving love. For some it may be quality time spent together, while for others it could be words of affection or the gifts of service.

Imagine if you didn’t care about going to the movies and your partner planned a date at the cinema to show his love. It would still be a gesture, but you may not find it meaningful or special enough. That’s why we need to understand each other’s language of love, to be able to show our love through gestures that hold more meaning and value for them. It’s the same with our mothers.

If you’re unsure about what their language is, I believe there is one way to show love that is the very basis of a relationship, especially the one we share with our mums — and that is respect. No matter our experiences in the past, we owe our mothers for everything they’ve done for us, from giving birth to providing food and necessities. They carried us and gave us life by putting their own life at risk, and the least we could for them is to respect them.

Speaking about gestures to show our mums how much we love them, they need not be grand at all. I feel that it’s the small details that matter more, such as paying attention to their needs, providing for them, or even just hugs, calls or replies to their messages. These speak volumes more than just a social media status update or a mother’s day card.

I truly believe that these gestures of love for our mums should be part of everyday life, not just the 21st of March. Don’t you think so too? Let’s start earlier this month to show them our gratitude in their language of love. Perhaps we could make it a 30 day plan to show our love for them every day. I think that will make it easier for us to incorporate this into our lifestyle permanently.  

What you do you think? Shall we show our mums or the mother figures in our lives, how much they mean to us every day, like they did to us when we were young? I’m sure we can support and encourage each other on this journey.

In the spirit of helping our community in this quest, we’re providing free classes for mums when they accompany you at the studio. So bring your mum along to Inspire on the 21st of March and connect and indulge in the loving practice of yoga.

Love,

Elisa

Recent events have reminded me that NOW is the time to tell the special people in your life that you love them. But, most importantly, NOW is the time to embody those words into action, as tomorrow might not come.

If you need any extra motivation, with February being the month of love, now is the time to turn the word love into a verb, a word of action. 

As I have written before, it all starts with self-love; the realisation that you are complete, you are enough as you are. Every journey starts from within; and this ability of self love is the first step to truly loving others and, more importantly, accepting the love we receive, which in my opinion is the very foundation of any relationship.

A lot of you know that John and I share a deep-seated passion for fitness, and Inspire is a manifestation of that. What is less known is that we actually first met at the gym and connected over keeping fit. While this may be the story of many couples today, I truly believe that it goes a lot deeper than simply wanting to remain in shape. 

Developing this self love is what brought me to yoga. As I learnt to focus on my breath, I learnt to look inside me, instead of finding love and happiness outside. I was able to peel back the layers to truly understand and love myself for all my qualities, flaws and imperfections — unconditionally. And this helped me to strive to do the same with everyone around me. 

The practice of yoga, with its calm and peaceful moves, has instilled us with love that inspires unity within our community. We must translate this into action. When our actions are inspired from kindness and a loving heart, we do our bit to make our home and our community a better place to live in, where everyone feels loved, cared for and happy. 

I believe this is one of the most important ways in which we contribute towards a better world. In today’s increasingly divided planet, now is the time to connect, now is the time for unity and now is the time for turning love into action. 

Sometimes, all it takes is a phone call or simple message. Technology has made this so much easier today, let’s make the most of it. Let’s fill this world with love and inspire everyone to do the same!

Why not start today?

I’m always looking forward to your thoughts and stories. Please feel free to share and continue spreading the positivity of love to our Inspire community. 

With love,

Elisa

P.S. As I was writing this Celine Dion’s Power of Love was played on TV and just as I was wrapping up, Craig David is being interviewed about his new album The time is Now! I think the universe is talking to me ☺

“Happiness and fulfilment do not come from pleasure but from meaning,

from the pursuit of a noble purpose.” Fred Kofman

   This year marked our 10 year marriage anniversary, and ironically it was the first year that we spent Christmas apart. Silver lining: I’ve had more time to reflect on 2018 and build my plan for the coming year. As I reflect back on this year, I am grateful for the milestones we’ve achieved — from the studio completing 4 years and entering the second year of supporting teacher trainings, to starting our Live Awake events. Naturally, there were challenges we faced, however, with the continued support from you and the rest of the community, we’re glad to see Inspire still standing strong.

   Recently a friend asked me why I still keep the studio running in this economic climate … and yes, there are many closing down. But our approach to the studio is more about providing a sustainable space for the wellness of the community. As you all know, Inspire was born from our shared passion for health and fitness. John and I both feel that this is essential to help people lead better lives, and this is our way of giving back. Plus, we feel responsible for the people we employ, the teachers we support and all of you, for whom we strive to provide a warm, supportive place to feel right at home as soon as you step in — in fact, we’re renovating the place to improve your experience.

   You are all like our family, and for us, it’s about the blessings we receive. Moreover, offering a place where people can come together, connect, find support and get fit is what drives me each day; it’s the legacy I want to build — it’s the legacy I want to live — every day.

   I’ve come to realise that to make a difference and leave a legacy, we first need to live it — start by knowing what our purpose in life is, and actively make choices to live in line with it. Our purpose in life goes beyond ourselves for the betterment of those around us; it touches the lives of others in meaningful ways. It’s not about what the world needs, but what makes you come alive and be happy. It’s also important to realise that our purpose may change from time to time, and it’s okay if you don’t know what yours is because it takes time and effort to find where your true passions lie. To help me define my personal mission statement, I’ve found answering the following helps, perhaps you can start with them too:

• Your calling: What inspires you the most and makes you feel you were born to accomplish in this world? Doing this feeds your soul and brings you utmost joy in this world.

• Your values: What are the principles you live by and do not compromise on? Having them direct every aspect of your life, even in the toughest times, defines how you live and what you stand for.

• Your character: What forms the basis of your personality and moral fibre? What makes you, you? Define your character, it is what remains after the charisma fades away.

   Once you have defined your purpose and what you want to achieve, I highly recommend that you plan for it, and make conscious educated choices and decisions that support and further your purpose. Break your journey down in multiple milestones, this will help ensure you stay on your path and gain a sense of achievement in what you’re working towards.

To keep track of the bigger picture, it is essential that your daily decisions are consistently taken in alignment with your life’s purpose. I think that in order to leave our imprint on the world — whilst still living — we need to embody our purpose and allow it to give meaning to our lives. I truly believe that our purpose is an extension of who we are, what we care about — and it starts with how we live today.

   So do what you love, find your calling, uphold your principles, truly live your life with the purpose that defines you — and believe me when I say this: you are making your mark in this enormous world with the lives you touch, every single day!

   Let’s welcome 2019 with a plan for our life’s purpose and live our legacy. We’re always here to support you and wish lots of success, happiness and health this new year!

Elisa

Self-esteem is said to be crucial in leading successful lives. Yet, self-worth—a much more important aspect—is often left out of the conversation. It is this, the feeling of being worthy of love and belonging, which is vital to leading contented lives.

Success stories in the media paint pictures of ideal ways to live. Over time, we have started measuring our self-worth by how far we meet the expectations of society, family, friends and colleagues. When unable, our natural response is to feel shame; this painful feeling of believing we are flawed and therefore unworthy—as explained by Dr. Brené Brown, a well-known researcher—is the no. 1 obstacle to living wholeheartedly.

In her book, Daring Greatly, she writes, “Wholehearted living is about engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness. […] It’s going to bed at night thinking: yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am worthy of love and belonging.”

We are all imperfect, and accepting this will help us lead more gratifying and happy lives. Following are 10 guidelines that can help overcome the need for perfection, develop the courage to let go of fear and shame, and foster compassion for ourselves.

  1. Practice Authenticity:

Let’s not dwell upon what people think and stay true to ourselves.

  1. Find Self-Compassion:

Let’s relieve ourselves of perfectionism, it is the first step to feeling we are enough the way we are.

  1. Cultivate Resilience:

We are stronger than we think. So let’s learn to cultivate a hopeful attitude and believe in our ability to overcome the challenges in life.

  1. Build Gratitude and Joy:

Even in challenging times, we have the ability to feel joy. So practice being grateful, and let this change in perspective bring happiness into our lives.

  1. Trust Your Intuition and Faith:

We live in an uncertain world with very few things under our control. Let’s focus on doing them right and not let negativity cloud our actions.

  1. Foster Creativity:

We all possess unique talents. So let’s nurture them and feed our souls. Let’s not compare, because that will leave us feeling not enough.

  1. Protect Your Play and Rest:

Our net worth does not define our worthiness. Society puts productivity on a pedestal, but we need to remember that we need rest and play to rejuvenate.

  1. Don’t Fear Calm and Stillness:

Being calm means being aware of our anxieties. It is hard to do away with them completely; however, with yoga and meditation we can learn to take control of our emotions to deal better with complicated situations.

  1. Pursue Meaningful Work:

We may not all be able to practice our passions in our careers, but with a little bit of time management, we can still do things that satisfy our souls and bring value to society.

  1. Laugh, Sing, and Dance:

Let’s remember to laugh, not take ourselves too seriously, and let go of being in control. It can make a world of difference.

I wholeheartedly believe that we all are worthy of being loved and feeling a sense of belonging. Each of the above guidelines is an on-going practice to live wholeheartedly. They have been developed by Brown to help us let go of our desire to conform to the expectations of society and our ideals of perfectionism; so that we can accept ourselves as being self-sufficient.

I hope you feel like you belong when you come to Inspire, as we work towards building an ever-loving, safe and supportive community. What do you think about wholehearted living and is there a particular point above that resonates most with you? I’d love to know! Please feel free to share, I’ll be looking forward to your story.

Elisa

We’ve all heard about aging gracefully, which generally means accepting the conditions of old age such as weaknesses and acting in a more mellow and stereotypical manner. However, as life expectancy is increasing across the world and living up to 80, 90 and even 100 years of age is the new normal, I strongly believe that aging healthily has become far more important.

I remember as a child, whilst playing, we would impersonate old people as being frail, walking slowly with a hunched back, and not being able to lift much, let alone do house chores. That was the case then, when our parents would take care of our grandparents as they grew older. But today, we are embracing the nuclear family way of living and don’t expect or wish to be dependent upon our children. Plus, living like the stereotype I used to play, for 20, 30 or even 40 years seems like a nightmare, don’t you agree?

What makes me feel sad is seeing young people in their 20s experiencing body aches, lacking proper nutrition, being stressed out with the pressure of work and unrealistic social media perceptions, and already starting to get chronic conditions that were unheard of for that age until just a decade ago. On the other hand, I get inspired by all of you who live an active lifestyle, have strong bodies, take care of yourselves and are on your way to blossoming into old age.

The world is seeing this phenomenon and has coined the word ‘perennials’ to describe those of you who live life to the fullest and are physically and mentally active no matter your age. In fact, I believe that it’s not just physical exercise and nutrition, but also being active, caring for yourself and being mentally and socially engaged that prolong those years and the quality of your life.

Let us all take such a comprehensive view to aging, to live happily and not have to depend upon helpers or our children to get by, but see them as luxuries and sources of happiness to live comfortably. I strongly feel that our health and complete well-being are our core strengths to live up to our standards, no matter the number of candles on our birthday cakes.

So let’s eat nutritious food, engage and maintain our social lives, live in safe and supportive communities, and do what we love every day. Let’s challenge and change the world’s stereotype of old age, to one of being active, smart, full of life, and role models to the younger generation. Let this change begin with us and our thinking. Let’s redefine what aging gracefully means to us and not let anything stop us from doing what we love – physically, mentally, or spiritually.

Do you want to join me on this journey? Tell me what you think about aging and your ideas on how we could live healthier lives with our young minds.

Elisa

Recently, my husband John and I celebrated our 10-year anniversary in Thailand, where we repeated our vows to each other. One of them was, “I’ll always be there for you”. I couldn’t help but recall teaching from yoga, where we call this ‘holding space’, and you might have heard me or other teachers at Inspire talk about it.

It’s like providing the feeling of safety by being there, however it is more complex than that. If you’ve ever said to someone that you love him or that she’s your best friend because they “didn’t do anything but were just there for you in times of need”, I’m sure you’ve experienced someone holding space for you. In essence, it means that a person is simply there for you and allows you to express your feelings and go through the experience of pain, hurt and suffering without judgement or forceful help. Those last two words are what differentiate sympathy from compassion. As humans, it’s not easy to see suffering and not do anything to help alleviate it, and that’s because it affects our emotions and brings our uncomfortable memories to the surface. That’s what makes holding space so much more difficult as one needs to be selfless in the suffering of another.

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What I’m about to share is a personal lesson, which to be frank, I am not entirely comfortable sharing. Nevertheless, I am sharing it because I am sure that my experience is not unique and if it can motivate even one person into action, then it is worth the discomfort. So, here goes …

I’ve always considered myself to be healthy. I’m not overweight (well, I have put on a few kg above what I would consider normal), I think I eat a well-balanced diet (the extra kilos tell a different story) and I try to exercise regularly. It is also true that my workout routine has been affected over the last few years as a result of different jobs and the associated stress.

Regardless of the reasons, I was getting to the studio and gym less than I used to. I made the excuses of getting older and that I’m pretty good for my age – but to be honest, I was kidding myself. I had let my health and wellbeing slip in my order of priorities. I was no longer in balance.

So, during Ramadan I decided to do something about it – I commenced a programme to lose weight and improve my physical wellbeing. I was making good progress and then last month I contracted a virus of some sort, which I thought would simply “go away.” It didn’t!

To cut to the chase, it took several weeks, numerous doctor’s appointments and dozens of tests to diagnose the issue, which fortunately wasn’t as sinister as the symptoms potentially indicated.

Why You Need To Work on Your Health Right Now
Even though my medical results were good, the entire experience reminded me that I am not as bullet proof as I thought I was, and that being mindful of my health is more important than ever. We just can’t predict when or how we will get sick. That is why we all need to make the most of now. Focus on your health and wellbeing right now while you still can. Go out there, get active and take better care of yourself.

For me, that means eating better, eating less, drinking more water and being active every day combining aerobic, strength and flexibility (so those who have noted my absence from morning classes at Inspire, this is coming to an end). Most importantly, I am focussing on positive meditation and better quality sleep.

One of the other outcomes is an increased focus on getting balance in other areas of my life. I have written before about my personal mantra, which is the need for balance (not equity) across four areas of my life: self, family and friends, career and community. It is true I have been out of kilter … so apart from working on myself, I am focussing on the relationships that truly matter, whether it is my mum and kids who live thousands of miles away in Australia, or with my better half (and yes Elisa truly is my better half) with whom I am celebrating 10 years of marriage later this month.

My story is not unique.

Have you ever had a wake up call? How would you rate your health right now compared to a year or two ago? What role does health play in your goals and priorities? What are you going to do, right now to take better care of your health? What are you going to do right now to regain balance in your life?

That’s all for now.

See you on the mat … soon!
John

P.S. Feel free to comment or reach out on the above at either john@inspiremeyoga.net or elisa@inspiremeyoga.net

Have you ever wondered, perhaps in the wee hours of the morning, what your purpose is in life? This happened to me recently, after I returned from my second instalment of the 300-hour yoga teachers’ training in San Francisco. I was training with Jason Crandell, one of my favourite teachers, who urged us to understand the human body and to think about, then define the ‘purpose’ we want to achieve when creating a sequence of asanas. It got me thinking about my own purpose in life?

I’m sure that you too have, at some point, contemplated the meaning of life asking yourself “Why am I here?” or “What’s the reason behind me being in this world?” I have to tell you, it can be quite daunting. However, over time, I have found that it’s important not to put pressure into finding solutions, because answers to such questions come in their own time.

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Do good – I remember my mother telling me this on a number of occasions since I was a little girl. It’s something most of us have grown up hearing from society. It is so ingrained in our character through various teachings, from being compassionate and helping others, to sharing and being modest, that we sometimes forget our inherent need of self-preservation.

Have you ever done something good and for some reason felt unappreciated, hurt or even taken advantage? I confess I used to get affected when mine or others act of kindness went unnoticed and unappreciated…  I used to ask myself why even bother? For years, I thought that the people who I felt did not appreciate me or in my perception took advantaged of me were to blame for my feeling of sadness and hurt.  I have since learnt otherwise.

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Have you ever found yourself in a room full of people or at a party, yet felt lonely; I have, on many an occasion.

 Recently I read a BBC news article which surprised me; in short, recent research shows that young adults are more likely to feel lonely than older age groups.

 The research found that almost 10% of people aged 16 to 24 were “always or often” lonely – the highest proportion of any age group and more than three times higher than people aged 65 and over. I was surprised because my perception was the opposite. Young people are always “connected” and communicating with others whereas older people often have long bouts of solitude.

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