About Yoga, health and living your best life

Breath first, move second.

I’ve been practicing how to float. Now I’m super good at over doing it—at trying too hard. This is something I’m aware of. In a desperate attempt to “not do it wrong” I over do my teacher’s useful tips and instructions.

Luckily for me, he sees straight through me and is aware of my “over dong it” capabilities. Therefore, he is gentle with his words and picks them carefully, over emphasizing words like subtlety and softly. He often says, “And don’t over do it,” as he knows that I have not yet burned through that samsakra.

It was this same, wonderful teacher who pointed out that what we do on the mat is often what we do off the mat. Our attitudes and behaviors are exactly the same, and they way we do things in our lives is the same as the way we do them on our yoga mats.

Yet, yoga is a mirror and it’s supposed to reflect these things back to us so we can change them.

If we carry on bringing our samsakras to the mat and we carry on acting them out, we are just reinforcing them and not burning through them and making them dissipate.

So anyway, I have been practicing how to float. My teacher paused next to me, he didn’t watch—he listened.

“What was that?” he asked after I landed. I laughed, as I knew nothing gets passed him. I knew that his words are full of knowledge and that he has a way of making you see things more clearly.

“Tell me what you did.” he spoke softly. “I’m trying to lift my feet off the floor using the strength in my arms and float the feet back.”

“Ah, trying,” he repeated back to me. “What happened to your breath?”

“I’m not sure,” I replied.

“Do it again—and listen to your breath.”

I did it again, exactly the same. I realized I held my breath and as I lifted up I let out a small kind of grunt! I hadn’t even been aware of it before. I laughed again, slightly embarrassed, but also because I’ve learned it’s better to laugh at yourself rather than beat yourself with the “I didn’t do it right” stick.

Suddenly, the wise words waterfall started to fall upon me:

“The breath is what carries you through. The breath lifts you up and makes you light. The breath is the most important thing. So, why are you holding the breath? By holding the breath it makes you tense, and then as you exert your trying you let out that noise (he imitated my grunt) and that will never get you there. As you create tension in your body, your body becomes heavy—the exact opposite of what you want. You need to try less and breathe more. You need to take the try out of trying. Trying won’t get you where you want to go. It’s a common misconception but you need to see it and feel it and understand it in order for it to work.

Let go of trying. Stop trying. Don’t try.

Do it again and breathe.”

As with most of my yogic lessons, at first it seems crazy. How will I ever get there if I stop trying? Surely that’s just going backwards. How will less effort get me there? Surely common sense says that more effort will get you there. If I stop trying I may never get there.

Suddenly, I realized that all this is just my mind. My ego jabbering away to itself in my head. My mind trying to tell me that it knows best—it knows more than my teacher!

Yet, it doesn’t know.

The mind will always fight something that tries to defy it.

The mind will always fight methods and practices that begin to control it. That is why meditation is so hard at first. That is why yoga can be hard to practice. We are entering into a constant battle with our mind.

I told my mind to be quiet and accepted that my teacher was wise and knowledge (and normally always right) and that my tiny pea brain was just getting in the way.

I stopped trying. I took a step back. I started just stepping back one leg at a time and worked on my breath only. I paid attention to the flow of the breath. I let go of trying to float back. I let go of trying.

Slowly, I started to bring back the actions of beginning to float but paid attention to my breath. “Breath first, move second,” my new mantra played through my head.

As I repeated the actions but used the breath as my guide, as I stopped putting in all that extra, unnecessary effort, I felt my feet lift up off the floor. I watched as they softly floated back. It wasn’t as high as my enforced forced jump, but it was floating. And I hadn’t even tried!

I took the try out of trying and the ing alone took me there!


Embracing Uncertainty  

Have you ever realised that we are constantly reacting to what has just happened.

We are always one step behind.

Life happens.

We react.

We never really know what is about to happen, until it just has.

Many of us try to control things. We chase security. We try to lock things down. Hold onto them. Own them.

Make things ‘ours’.

Things that don’t really belong to us.

Mortgages, marriages and even children…. Are all things that belong not to us….

The prophet

Our children come through you yet belong not to you.

If we look at life through the cycle of a wild flower. A seed is blown by the wind and it lands on fertile soil. The rain waters it, the sun warms it and based on it receiving just the right amount of everything it needs, it germinates and a sprout is born. Again based on it receiving everything that it requires, it may continue to grow and at its peak will blossom and flower, basking in all its glory. The flower will then wilt and lose its leaves. And will fall back down to earth where it once came from, but not before leaving behind its seeds, which it sheds to the winds in the hope of continuing its place in cycle of life. The plant then shrivels and passes away. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust….. leaf to soil.

What is secure about that? What lasts?

Other than the cycle itself.

Yet why do we cling to security? What is really secure about our life?

Our cycle?

Learning to embrace uncertainty, accept the unknown even welcome ‘not knowing’

Life is unpredictable. We like to make it into as much of a routine as possible, to feel ‘safe’. We like to tie things down to feel ‘secure’. We get attached to people, to buildings, to jobs, to cars even. It is said that this attachment is what causes suffering. Yet to many, this is their false sense of security.

Life is not like that. In fact it is the very opposite of that. It is constantly changing. Consistently shifting. Life, like the seasons cannot be stopped.

Yet to let go of the security that we have built up around us is hard.

Security is a myth.

In the cycle of the wild flower… what is secure?

Other than the fact that we are all going to die.

We are all going to die at some point.

None of us are getting out alive.

We should try to find relief in that. To relax into it and enjoy each day.

If the flower does not get what it needs in the right balance, then it’s chances are slim.

Yet we forget that. We get so caught up in our distraction. Making everything ‘safe’ that we forget that nothing is.

We forget to live.

We forget to enjoy life to its extreme.

We forget to love fully and openly as if we were never going to get the chance again.

We forget to say sorry and we hold onto our burdens and grudges for years, causing ourselves more pain than it is worth.

We find fault in those around us, we criticise and judge and condemn. We moan and we whinge about the very people that we are supposed to love.

We forget to ‘let go’ to dance like no one is watching. To drop all of our insecurities and inhibitions and to just be in that moment.

We forget to live…….

Yet isn’t that what we are practicing in Ashtanga Yoga?

Aren’t we trying to be more present. To pay attention to the breath. For paying attention to the breath is paying attention to life itself. To enjoy each breath. To remember that it is a wonderful thing. This gift called life…..

A gift that we won’t always have.

WE should remember that each and every day.

Easy to say.

Easy to forget.

Hard to practice.

My little brother was recently diagnosed with a brain tumour. After undergoing brain surgery and making a swift recovery, I was delighted to find him with a new spring in his step; a new love of life.

He says that he feels that every day, since the surgery, is a bonus day. He has a new sense of gratitude towards his friends and family and loved ones. He has found a new appreciation for health and his body. He is studying nutrition and looking at all the different things the body requires to remain optimum health.

A new thirst for life…

It is so easy to take life for granted. Until, we are reminded bluntly, that it is not going to last forever.

Life is a gift.

None of us know how long we have left, so we had better start making the most of it. Right here, right now.

Start where you are says Pema Chodran. Start where you are.


To do more of what you love.

To appreciate all that you have got.

To LOVE those around you, instead of finding faults.

To love them madly, deeply and wildly for all that they are.

To climb those hills and walk in those woods.

To watch the green finches sitting on long grass.

To stay up late and look for shooting stars.

To bathe by the waterfall or IN the waterfall if you are brave enough (I do live in Scotland – my waterfall is ice cold!)

My brother wanted for one thing; to share with the people who were not feeling this buzz for life, to share this with them.

So from him, to me, to you…… get your butt out there and enjoy your day.

Embrace the impermanence of this day, of this season, of this year, of this life…..

Enjoy it while you can.

For this day belongs to you…… This moment is all you really have….

 Live every day like it is your first.

YOGA - For the body

JOY - of being alive

HIKING - nature is medicine 

Do what you love 

Contact Information

Stone Cairn

Find us here: Retreats on the Wyld side

Email:  hello@wyldgrace.co.uk

Phone: +447423192566