How I Got My Handstand Back

Handwritten Testimonial Essay by John Carmichael 27/8/2019.

How I got my handstand back

(A Testimonial by John Carmichael)

When I was a skinny kid I, like many other youths, used to love doing cartwheels and handstand all over the house and out in the back yard. I found doing them gave me a feeling of exhilaration. Fast forward some 40 years and I now weigh in at 97 kilograms. I gave up smoking seven years ago and took up yoga three years ago under the guidance of Maria Steiner (Prema) at Hatha Yoga Ipswich.

One of the first things Maria told me was not to compare myself to others as I struggled to do the Asanas and found meditation difficult to say the least. Maria delights in helping people achieve their goals and is hearty in her approbation. She was excited when I managed to do the full wheel pose, which I hadn’t done since attending the Y.M.C.A. where it was called a bridge. It dawned on me that I could improve with effort and that many new poses were attainable. I do yoga to help me become physically, emotionally and psychologically healthy.

I was given positive reinforcement for each new Asana I did. Maria is always looking to promote students to do their best and take on new challenges. She uses humour to keep the class cheerful and optimistic whilst remaining on the task at hand. I am slowly learning to meditate to create a calm and resilient disposition. I have also found that my blood pressure, since commencing yoga, has come down from high to high/normal. My G.P. is impressed.

One day, a few weeks ago, Maria suggested that I try a handstand against the wall. I think I am too old and too heavy was my response. Maria advised me that age and weight are simply numbers and that if I had done a handstand in the past perhaps, like the wheel, I could do it again. So I tried. I placed my hands about 15 cm from the wall and positioned my feet as if ready to run. Kick up two three, fall back two three. Kick up two three, fall back two three. Kick up two three, fall back two three. Fail.

I then turned my back to the wall and slowly inched up with my feet until my weight was almost fully on my arms and hands. I could only step half way up the wall. Before I go on, let’s look at the health benefits of doing a handstand. According to Google; “ As with all inversions, you get a sense of immediate clarity in your mind when you bring yourself upside down, delivering fresh, oxygenated blood to the brain and alleviating stress, anxiety and depression.”

These results were definitely worth striving for, especially as I am inclined to anxiety and depression. So I persisted. A week passed and at the next class I tried again, first with my back to the wall and then facing. Kick up two three, fall back two three. Kick up two three, fall back two three. Kick up two three and then, by gosh, my feet found the wall. I pointed my toes and straightened my posture. I was still heavy, but I was upside down and feeling fine. My body had remembered all those handstands of my youth.

I will mention here that it is important to warm up and stretch before attempting a handstand, especially by doing the dolphin. As with a headstand one should follow the Asana with child’s pose to avoid dizziness.

Maria said, good work John and my satisfaction was immense. That is how I got my handstand back. Now I practice the handstand twice at classes each week and nearly every day at home. It is a joy to be coordinated, flexible, stable and strong. Now I have a new Asana in my repertoire.

Our bodies were designed to move and exercise and yes, go upside down. Good health makes one feel youthful and more able to cope with stress and various life challenges. Everyone seeks praise and positive reinforcement. Doing yoga with a competent instructor like Maria is a good way to inoculate oneself against these stresses and strains.

Our bodies strive to be healthy and yoga, including meditation is a good way to ward off and avoid toxic, unhealthy habits. With every handstand I do I feel stronger and more balanced. I have also regained that feeling of exhilaration I felt as a skinny kid. It is a wonderful way to be in the moment and focus the mind.

I hope my story inspires you to do something healthy, that you haven’t done for years. Or even, if you have not already, take up yoga and/or meditation.

Namaste. John Carmichael 27/8/2019.

Following are Photos taken in the Yoga Class on Tuesday 27/8/19. John Carmichael in Handstand and Wheel.

Handwritten Testimonial Essay by John Carmichael:

Thank You very much John for your heartfelt feedback, and allowing me to share your story. May it inspire many others on their life- and yoga path. Namaste, Maria Prema .

Street Art in my honour

A dear yoga student of mine and beautifully, gifted, talented Artist Lee FullArton did some local artwork in my honour.

The traffic light control box on Jones Road, Bellbird Park (it’s on the way from Ipswich to Springfield). If you are in the local area go have a look, it’s beautiful and fun. Adding some coulour to the traffic and roads.

I feel humbled and it also makes me feel integrated in the local community. That my yoga classes have such wonderful influence on many people.

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Traffic control box at Jones Road, Bellbird Park. On the way from Ipswich to Springfield.
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Art by Lee FullArton. Prema the Yogi.

Lee’s words: “Dedicated to my beautiful yoga teacher Prema Maria At Jones Rd Bellbird Park.” “My pleasure you inspire and guide the well being of so many people .. a tribute is fitting xx”.

 

 

Soul Shifts

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Lately in our meditation session on a Tuesday morning 10:30am – 11am (after the regular yoga class), I have been reading and sharing from the wonderful book “SOUL SHIFTS” by Dr. Barbara DeAngelis.

Personally I read the book very slow, take my time to reflect on it. I read it in two ways one bookmark starting from page 1, and then every so often I open the book randomly and see what comes up for that moment/day.

The Soul Shifts Mantra:

“Today I am going to see what there is to see,

to feel what there is to feel,

and to know what there is to know.

 

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Homegrown pineapples


“Growing your own pineapples is patience in practice.

The result is a very rewarding treat.

See this example as a metaphor for many things in life.”

Maria Prema

 

Presently we have three pineapples growing. From the time you cut the top and put it in a pot or directly in the ground is takes about 2 – 3 years for the beautiful red pineapple flower to emerge. Then close to six months until the fruit is ripe, yellow and sweet. You can not rush it!!
Pineapples are part of the Bromeliad family.

 

Mother Nature gifted me with a pineapple for my birthday, 31.1.16.

birthday pineapple

 

 

Gratitude Jar

The practice of Gratitude is something I wanted to write and post a blog about it since some time. (Better late than never, while starting the New Year with good intentions and put them into practice)  🙂

Back in January 2013 I posted the following on my Facebook page:

“This idea made the rounds on Facebook last week.

Start on January 1st with an empty jar. Throughout the year write the good things that happened to you on little pieces of paper. On December 31st, open the jar and read all the amazing things that happened to you that year.

So I started my own with a hand made label and I call it “Gratitude Jar”, seeing and appreciating the beauty and abundance in life.
If you like you write a daily note, about anything that put a smile on your face that day and made you feel happy in your heart. Of course you can use a smaller jar……. “

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Half a year later my Gratitude Jar looked like this:

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Since then I still add more notes to my jar. I write about anything that brings joy to my heart, the smell of a flower, a delicious organic fruit, the many new and loyal happy people in my yoga classes. A phone call, a postcard, etc. I received.

A few years before I started the gratitude jar I wrote a gratitude list at the end of each year. I still do that and also add things to the list throughout the year. After I write my gratitude list for the previous year, I then write my intentions list for the new year.

If you prefer you keep a gratitude journal, where you write your daily or weekly notes. Anything you give thanks to.

It is a wonderful practice that brings abundance, as you start to see the beauty in your life.

It’s actually a practice that I did for a while as a teenage girl. And it really helped me a lot back then (it was after my father died),  no one told me about it, I listened to my intuition. I would write in my girly diary when: someone in the street smiled at me, I saw a nice flower on the side of the footpath, if a certain boy at school would say “hi” or “hoi” to my …… 🙂  I did not call it gratitude back then, I just noted what brought me joy that day, usually the smaller the better.

This year I do my gratitude on social media. Instagram has these wonderful hashtags #366grateful #365grateful #366daysofgratitude #366grateful2016 and more similar # or you start your own.

If you like to follow me on Instagram you find me under @mariaprema

I hope you join me this year in the practice of gratitude in some ways & the format that speaks to you. Let’s share our experiences throughout the year.

 

 

Friday class 18th September

Altar with gerbera flowers.
Altar with gerbera flowers.

I hope you had a good start into Spring.
It’s time to get back into the routine and I like to offer again some extra classes for your practice in the new season.
It has been a while since the last Friday Hatha Yoga Class and Satsang Meditation. Next session:

Friday 18th September 2015 at

Raceview Scout Hall, 32 Taylor Street, Eastern Heights:

5pm – 6:30pm  Hatha Yoga Class (breathing exercises, sun salutation, 12 basic postures, guided final relaxation)

The cost is $15 or regular class pass 

6:50pm – 8:30pm Satsang (silent meditation, uplifting Sanskrit chants, an inspiring reading)

The cost is $8 or free if you come to the 5pm class.

In between the two sessions we have a cup of tea and something sweet.
If 5pm is too early for you, you can just come for the Satsang, please arrive for 6:30pm. Or only do the hatha Yoga class.
If you know you will join one or both of the classes for sure, please let me know. Otherwise you can always just show up, no booking necessary.
Looking forward to a good start into the weekend. See you soon,
Prema Maria

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yoga & Meditation Weekend

This year I’m organising and teaching  a weekend retreat again, it has been four years since I offered a yoga retreat last time.

Early morning walk / meditation.
Early morning walk / meditation.

It takes place at the Gunnebah Retreat Centre near Murwillumbah, northern NSW. We have been there before and it’s an ideal location for a yoga weekend, surrounded by most beautiful nature. In the past I used to prepare and cook the meals myself, lot’s of work before and during the retreat for just one weekend. This year the Gunnebah catering team, will provide all our vegetarian meals. So less karma yoga for all of us, no chopping, cooking and doing the dishes. Instead kick back a little. Therefore also the higher cost than in the past.
The Retreat is from Friday 28 – Sunday 30 August 2015.  It is open to newcomers, beginners, if you need to give your yoga practice a fresh boost and experienced yoga students.
The hatha yoga class will be mostly two hours, instead of the usual 90 minutes like in the weekly classes. So more time to go deeper into postures, explain details, more variations and holding postures longer. We practice the silent japa meditation, maybe Tratak (gazing at the flame of a candle) and chant Kirtan (mantra singing), as I bring my harmonium along.
During the lectures we might also cover other topics, than the classic yoga philosophy Vedanta. Wisdom, knowledge, practices, a holistic approach to life, etc. that interest me and I like to share more with you. For example: How the moon influences our bodies, the way it guides the ocean tides. (Saturday 29/08 will be a full moon). The facts and importance of the fascia. Tapping Solution for EFT (emotional freedom technique).  Such interests and similar.
So it will be a very uplifting, inspiring and empowering weekend. Practicing and learning the vast horizon of Yoga, Meditation, Mantras and more. While we are in the middle of beautiful rain forest nature.
For more information please browse through the Retreat section on this website, phone or email me.
Looking forward to hearing and seeing you soon.
Namaste, Maria Prema

Pranayama practice
Pranayama practice

Outdoor eating at Gunnebah Retreat.
Outdoor eating at Gunnebah Retreat.

 

 

 

© Photography Maria Steiner / Ian Grasmeder