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Cultivating presence beyond the mat

Updated: Nov 16, 2022

Your portable reminder to breathe

That's not me in the photo, but it's why I'm here. More on that later. I’ve said it before, but it still dawns on me anew each time I take flight: There’s a welcome perspective that comes with being in the air. Sitting above the clouds offers a similar slowing, a familiar clarity to that of meditation. Rather than being part of the hustle and bustle down there on the ground, we see things in real time, in their teeny tiny size from up above. We become the observer. I like that. I need that. We all do. So, I’m on a plane. I’m headed to the Gold Coast to see dear friends and family, with the bonus of getting to do one of the things I love the most; sing.

I’m sharing this with you to offer the reminder that carving space for ourselves takes many shapes. I love sharing that in the form of yoga; deep breaths and flowing movements really do change how we feel, and how we move through the world – so sharing a reminder to breathe is something that I adore and will continue to do, possibly forever. It’s also something that I hope we all carry off the mat, into life’s challenges, and especially into life’s joys. I intend to take that reminder to the sea – to breathe the salt air. I intend to take it to my friends and family, and to truly be in their company. I intend to take it into each note I sing, even the bung ones, in pure gratitude for the opportunity to do it. Plus, good breathing is in the basic toolkit of any singer – thank you, yoga.

I even intend to bring that reminder to this very keyboard, in the moments where, though I’m on a break, I still have to get things done. I still have a degree to finish. I still have eco laundry detergent to buy. And darn it, I even still have my tax to do. We aren’t robots. As much as unplugging can be necessary in the technological sense, switching off is simply not possible. But switching focus is.

The good news is, it's not in switching off that we recharge. It's in plugging in, switching on, and connecting to the good stuff; the deep breaths, the kind words, the selfless deeds, the funny one-liners. It’s joy in seeing a dog go completely berserk with excitement at the sight of you, and laughing that his owners kept your arrival a secret from him so it would be a surprise. Ok so I’ve arrived now. I may have even landed. Wherever and whenever this message lands with you, I’d like to thank you for reading it, and for taking the reminder to breathe in whatever way you have, over the course of my time teaching at Illeso. Now seems as good a time as any to let you know that River & Ridge Yoga offerings will look a little different in 2023. I think in a good way. Next year I will be here, sharing your regular reminder to breathe, live from the screen.

I was reminded of a few things during lockdown. One was that I am not an early riser by nature. Another was that sharing at-home yoga in a connected way, where we can interact and share the experience while also offering ourselves permission to experiment a little more, or grab an extra blanket from the couch, is a true joy, and a real passion of mine. When I talk about this reminder to breathe and taking that off the mat, I can’t think of a better way to promote a sustainable practice for you, and me, than by popping in to your place (virtually) for some at-home movement and breath. You can still expect to be seeing in-person River & Ridge Yoga events on the calendar. Think evening yoga followed by a local drop, or a morning session followed by coffee. You can also expect some outdoor classes, something I’ve been wanting to do ever since my yoga teacher training in New Zealand, with a backdrop of mountains and view of the sea. There's now research to show that exercising is good, but exercising outside is even better. Maybe that's where you join me? On your back deck? On the lawn? Maybe I will, too. Along with the live online offering will come some recorded classes for you to access – your little yoga mate, if you will. I will also be offering more corporate yoga, both in person and online, so if you or your organisation would like to improve staff wellbeing through regular yoga classes, please get in touch. I am so excited to continue to share this reminder to breathe. All this to say, the decision to stop regular in-person classes next year was a tough one. If you’ve dropped by the studio once or many times; thank you. You are the reason it was a tough call, and I hope to see you there again at River & Ridge events, and on the screen.

The timing for our regular online meetings is to be determined, and you will be the first to know about these, and any events. The usual goodies are available in the gift shop if you're looking to knock over some Christmas shopping or to offer yourself a well-deserved treat (which is also an investment in your wellbeing, purchase justified). Keep your eye out, I have some t-shirts on the way, too!

Be kind to yourselves lovely humans. Take this as your reminder to breathe. Plenty more where that came from. Cass xx

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