A whimsical and bright Spring energy is amongst us and with it brings a fresh creativity to our day-to-day lives. I have taken inspiration the last month from the Thirroul local, Annabelle Clifford and her yoga practices that I regularly attend. I have found both a sense of self-renewal and growth from her weekly ritual.
The change of season can be a great motivator to bring new energy into our lives and today, I spoke with Annie to learn more about her love of the practice and how it can compliment your daily practice.
What made you first discover Yoga?
One day I went to a class without much thought, but it had a lasting impression on me. It opened my eyes to a whole new world where I just went to as many classes as I could exploring the different forms of yoga and teachers. Through this I found pranayama (similar to breathwork) and that was what really took me. I thought what is this magical medicine, especially because I didn’t have much experience with the breath prior.
Then from there I ventured overseas, I did trainings and I met I one of my beloved teachers Nevine Michaan and her teachings have been instrumental in my life. She is honestly one of my favourite people in the world.
She tells her students;
“the biggest defeat in life… is being bitter”
I think that is fantastic! She is now 70 years-old and is living proof of yoga.
Could you take us through the benefits of a yoga practice?
Yoga is really the integration of mind, body and breath and without all three, it's not yoga it’s just exercise and I think that’s what makes it so special.
Yes, it’s a practice to cultivate a calm and grounded mind but there is so much more involved.
Yoga teaches you to be comfortable in the uncomfortable. It teaches you to find ease in life, to not be so rigid in your thinking and your being. But most of all, it teaches you how to create space amidst your thoughts, and I truly think that is the most instrumental. So instead of spiraling out, we can take a step back (take a breath), look at the bigger picture. Yoga teaches us the perspective and the tools we can pull out and apply every day. My Teacher Nevine calls yoga a "recipe for joy". Tools to have a more joyous life. I'm very grateful for these tools.
What does your personal weekly routine look like? How do you stay motivated and practice your rituals, yoga & breathwork?
I make sure that I have my time on the mat because teaching and practicing are two very different things, they are definitely not the same. Yoga is an endless journey of leaning and unlearning, but I try and maintain a pretty strong personal practice.
I also mediate every evening for 25 minutes and it has become my favourite time of the day.
I can't mediate in the morning, it just doesn’t work for me, so I do it just before I go to sleep.
I also don’t like to have screen time in the evenings, so this leaves plenty of time for meditation.
For me it’s quite simple, if I don’t move my body on the mat, or sit in silence and take a moment, I feel slightly antsy. It’s like going for a surf, it’s a remedy. And I think I’m so invested in the practice now that it’s not really a question of being motivated to do it. I do it because it’s joyful to me. It’s a love.
If you could share our Ruah community with a piece of advice to create more ease and flow in their life, what would it be?
I think that if you let life take you, rather than you try and take life, you will always find yourself in the right place. It think it’s all about letting it be, letting it go, letting it flow ha.
What’s a wellness ritual you live by?
Here is a simple breathing practice to cultivate some stillness for the mind.
Find a comfortable seat
Inhale through the nose for 6 beats
Exhale out the nose for 8 beats
You can shorten or extend the ratio but for this breath practice we want the exhale slightly longer than the inhale. Longer exhales moves the nervous system into the parasympathetic state. During inhalation, the sympathetic nervous system facilitates a brief acceleration of heart rate; during exhalation, the vagusnerve secretes a transmitter substance causing deceleration within beat-to-beat intervals via the parasympathetic nervous system (our rest state).
Your current faves ~
Local Cafe love:
I love Earth walker in Coledale, I frequent there a lot.
3 Beauty/Skin items you can't live without:
You know I’m pretty low maintenance Jaq, so the 3 Dermaviduals products you gave me. The moisturiser, exfoliant and mask. I love! I also love those herbal teas you serve me. I am definitely a big believer in nourishing the skin from the inside.
Favourite selfcare ritual:
My 25 minutes of silent meditation every evening. It has become a constant and a beautiful ritual to do before I go to sleep and let go of the day.
Book/ Podcast recommendation:
Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art by James Nestor- a good place to start for anyone interested in the power of the breath.
A sweet piece of advice for the newcomers to yoga and how they can ease into your yoga practices:
It’s not about touching your toes, it’s about what you learn on the way down.
Be open to it.
Find Annie's Yoga schedule online