Walking home

This last week or so I’ve been walking home from work on the three days a week that I’m in the office. It takes me about an hour to get from my office to my front door, which is about double the time that it would take if I caught the tram, but I much prefer it.

When I was teaching yoga full-time in Sydney last year, I walked fair distances very regularly. I didn’t realise until I started walking home from my current work just how much I missed it. Walking somewhere gives me a feeling of being capable, on a very basic level, in a way that catching public transport or driving somewhere doesn’t. My body can get me there.

And walking for an hour definitely gives me a good sense of my body – not really of what it looks like, but of what it feels like. When I walk, eventually all the little tight bits make themselves known to me, and the dodgy alignment of my hips and shoulders is increasingly obvious (a side note: when I walk long distances shortly after an osteo session, where my skeleton is nicely aligned, it’s absolutely magic). After an hour’s walk my feet are sore and I’m tired. I sleep better.

Now that autumn’s upon us, walking home in the evening means facing the chill in the air. Something I loved about walking places in winter when I lived in Sydney was watching my body warm itself up with movement. I’d leave the house layered up with jumpers, jackets, gloves and scarves, and usually by the time I’d reached my destination, I’d taken most of it off, even when it was a very cold day.

Walking home this last week or so, I’ve been aware again of that warming process, and I’m still amazed by it (even though it makes complete sense). In cool weather, walking warms me up from the inside, and I love the contrast between that internal warmth and the coolness of the exposed skin of my face and hands.

Walking home, Princes Park It’s always been my habit to end up with favourite sections of regular walks. They’re usually parks or nature strips of some description. I have a feeling my favourite bit of my walk home from Melbourne City to Brunswick will end up being the section along Royal Parade where I can walk along the edge of Princes Park (pictured). Walking, more than anything else, is what helps me feel like I’m really in a place. There’s something about moving through the same place on a regular basis that helps it really sink in.

Of course, the other fantastic thing about walking home is that by the time I get there, I’m calm. Walking, like yoga, helps me move my way through frustration and anxiety. Regular walking (and regular yoga, for that matter) makes me a generally calmer person. This can’t be a bad thing.

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EWF, yoga, writing and keeping active

It’s May. I’m not sure exactly how that happened… but I am excited that this month is here, mostly because it means the Emerging Writers’ Festival is just around the corner. And this year I’ll be involved in some sessions at the festival, which makes it doubly exciting.

This year, the second weekend of the festival will be held at the beautiful Abbortsford Convent, which is one of my favourite places to wander around on a weekend anyway. That weekend, The Writers’ Retreat, is focused on wellbeing for writers, and the program includes events on parenting and writing, health and writing, balancing writing with life, and nature writing. You can view the full list of events here.

I’ll be involved in two events on the weekend.

Workshop: Yoga and Writing
11am-12.30pm, 1 June 2013
The Salon, Abbortsford Convent
Tickets $15, $12 concession

I’ll be running a workshop on yoga and writing on the Saturday morning. I can’t even begin to articulate how excited I am about running this. For me, yoga is an absolutely vital part of my writing practice. I use it in all sorts of ways, from a remedy for the physical ills that come with sitting hunched over a desk, to supporting and enhancing (I hope) the intellectual and emotional wrangling necessary to get words on a page.

The workshop will be an opportunity for me to share some of the ways that I use a yoga practice to help my writing, but I also want it to be a pretty open format. I’ll be running the class through some of the yoga postures and other practices, but questions and discussion will be most welcome.

I always hope in my yoga teaching to help people develop sovereignty with their own bodies (and minds, for that matter), so that they can begin to use on their own the tools yoga offers for whatever it is that they need. This workshop is no exception. So come along and ask me as many questions as you like!

Seriously. I love it when people ask me questions about yoga.

Symposium: Keeping Active in the Arts
2.30-4pm, 2 June 2013
Rosina Auditorium, Abbortsford Convent
Admission is free

I’ll also be involved in a symposium-style event on the Sunday called ‘Keeping Active in the Arts’. In this session we’ll be talking about the benefits of staying active, and how to actually do that.

Having recently gone back to a job that keeps me at a desk three days a week (as opposed to teaching yoga full-time, like I was in Sydney), I’ve spent a lot of time in the last few weeks mulling over exactly these questions. I’m really looking forward to discussing some of the ideas I’ve had, and getting some new ones from others.

But honestly, the whole weekend sounds like it’s going to be wonderful, so even if you can’t make it to my events, do come along. Here are some pictures I took on a recent visit to Abbortsford Convent — it’s worth coming just hang out in the place.

EWF blog post ~ Move it or lose it: exercise and writing

This week my next Emerging Writers’ Festival CAL Digital Mentorship Program blog post went up. This one’s on the way exercise changes our brains and how that, for me, relates to writing.

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When I was a teenager I loved to run. We lived on the edge of town, not far from where the road turned from bitumen to gravel. Every afternoon I’d head for the gravel, and often I’d close my eyes as I ran, just to listen to the sound of my feet crunching, the sound of my own breath, sometimes the sound of my heartbeat.

I ran for physical fitness, in part. But mainly I ran because it made me feel good mentally, because it calmed my mind.

On days when I was particularly anxious, or even angry, I’d sprint the section between where the bitumen ended and the end of the street. While I caught my breath after those sprints, I’d stretch my legs on top of the white wooden reflector poles, gaze out over the paddocks and feel the tension — the anger, the anxiety — loosen and drop away.

I was one of those angry teens. I was angry for reasons I didn’t understand, prone to outbursts where things were yelled, doors were slammed and where I lashed out at my family. Running calmed me. I didn’t know how it worked, all I knew was that it did. I knew that when I got home I’d be better equipped to do my homework or study, less likely to blow up at the antics of my younger brothers.

My relationship with anger is still one of the strongest driving forces in my life. Anger motivates me to do things, to write things. Expressed in a helpful way, anger can carry passion and fascination, so I don’t think of it as a bad thing. But it can also become a (rather terrifying) hindrance too — it can cloud my judgement, it can leave me full of energy but with no idea where to direct it, rendering it and me effectively useless. None of this is particularly conducive to working or writing or living well.

Anger is why I’ve always been a highly active person; exercise helps me to turn anger into something useful.

Read more here.