Apartment complete with balcony, sun terrace, beams, wifi, same welcoming Barefoot style… just sunnier! ️
Apartment complete with balcony, sun terrace, beams, wifi, same welcoming Barefoot style… just sunnier! ️
Bernie McFall has been practising yoga at Barefoot since March 2017. Though straight-talking and pragmatic, she oozes emotion and inspiration. Everyone who hears her story is always wowed by her commitment to her yoga and her new healthy lifestyle. She’s our August Barefooter of the Month, and she talks to us about coming back from the dead and how yoga can help with serious, life-threatening illness.
What lead you to take up yoga at Barefoot?
I had a massive heart attack in December 2016, which resulted in me losing my life for 20 minutes. I was placed on life support. My family and friends held a vigil at my bedside. I felt that I could show gratitude to the medics who saved my life by living a much healthier lifestyle. Barefoot was there to support me from the start.
What barriers / concerns did you have to overcome?
After the heart attack, I found out that I had rheumatoid arthritis, which was very painful. My GP advised that I would not be able to have medication for the arthritis due to my heart condition and suggested I take up yoga or water aerobics.
How has Barefoot / yoga improved your life?
I am pleased to announce that since starting yoga I am pain-free and feel very well. Barefoot has changed my life forever – I am stronger, healthier and can take on any challenges that life throws at me with ease.
Any tips for anyone else who might have experienced serious life threatening events / illnesses?
Wherever I can, I promote yoga. It is possible to be pain- and drug-free in a short period of time. It makes you feel fantastic and alive. I wish to say a big thank you to the staff and my wonderful teachers.
Thank you, Bernie for being an inspiration to us all!
Fact: you have limited time and resources available to you on this earth. You end up taking on too much and then feel guilty when you inevitably have to let some things slide. Learning to know when to quit is not something that comes naturally. Imagine our joy when we found discovered the concept of Positive Quitting. “Most of us view quitting as something negative… In reality, winners quit all the time: choosing to stop doing things that aren’t creating the results they desire”.
We got so excited by the idea of making a Personal Quit List, we jumped in right away. After all, it makes so much sense.
The writer of the original article’s Personal Quit List looks like this:
– Second guessing myself after I’ve made a thoughtful decision
– Dwelling on what could have been or what I should have done
– Rushing and hustling to get more done at the sake of being fully present
What’s the bigger goal? If an item on the daily to-do list isn’t ultimately leading to the bigger goal, what’s it doing there? Scrap it – simple.
What we discovered, though, is that sometimes it’s obvious when something isn’t creating the results you desire. We know that second-guessing, dwelling on the past, worrying about the future, these aren’t ultimately helpful to anyone, and we instinctively know that.
But what if it really isn’t so obvious?
Jim Allen is the man behind the concept of “quit life, start living”. He says that we all strive for and chase after this elusive concept, this “dream life” – when really, life is what you get when you’re born, and living is what you do with it.
I found I struggled with this list, because what if the thing you’re quitting is a perfectly gorgeous life, a dream job teaching yoga, surrounded by beautiful friends and loved ones? It seemed so counter-intuitive, even to the point of being ungrateful. But that inescapable question: “If you were to stop doing this now, what would be possible for you?”
The answer for me: who knows? What more could I possibly want from a life? I don’t know. But I did manage to conclude: I’m quitting suppressing my sense of fun and adventure in order to seem like a rational, sensible grown-up. I feel the wildness of life and the call of the great unknown far greater than any doubt or fear of failure. Some may call this Extreme Positive Quitting. I call it living.
And while anxiety and doubt about whether I’m “wasting my life” are pretty much guaranteed to creep in every now and then, there’s nothing like bringing my focus back to the breath – back to the present unfolding all around me – to remind myself: this is living.
You may be just starting to feel the first irresistible stirrings, or maybe you’ve already made this huge decision to go ahead and do it. So how can you stop psyching yourself out of doing things you love? Something in your heart is calling you to do this thing – the next step in your career, something creative, moving elsewhere, or settling down – whatever it may be. You may have never felt so sure about anything in your life, yet you still spend at least 20 minutes a day with your heart or stomach (sometimes both) in a vice-like grip of fear as a voice from somewhere screams: “Are you sure you’re up for this?”
We all suffer from self-doubt at times. There’s this handy list of ways you can overcome it. But personally, I feel like doubt isn’t intellectual, it’s a feeling. To try intellectualize or reason it away can sometimes be utterly unconvincing. So here’s what I do.
Write down a couple of statements about the doubt you’re having.
“I can’t be a yoga teacher because I haven’t got the right body type.”
“I’m not smart enough to finish my PhD.”
“I’m afraid of settling down and starting a family because I would make a terrible parent.”
“I’m going to fail miserably because I haven’t got enough experience and everyone will think I’m a fraud.”
Step 2: Imagine your 6-year-old self. (Mine comes complete with gap-toothed grin, embarrassing haircut and ears I won’t grow into for another decade.) You’re probably loving life – tying your own shoelaces, having clever conversations with your best playground buddy, learning to ride a bike… the world is your oyster, woohoo!
Step 3: Now try to imagine telling lovely adorable little 6-year-old you those statements you wrote down in Step 1. Imagine how you’d feel telling this sweet, wide-eyed and wondering child that they can’t do this thing, this amazing, inspiring, life-changing thing that they want nothing else in the world but to do or experience – they can’t do it, because of this doubt.
They’d stare at you like you’d sprouted an extra head. Or they’d just cry. Possibly both. I feel there’s something deeply ingrained within us which makes us reluctant to tell little children things that will make them doubt their abilities, their ideas, their potential. So what on earth makes it so easy for us to say these things to our grown-up selves, and to end up believing them?
I think about little-me often. I remember the combined terror and exhilaration of the many firsts, the newness of everything, the big-out-there-ness of the world. I remember the encouraging words of my lovely parents who were there to hold my hand, to help me learn to trust in myself. They were scared, too, of course. “What if she never learns to read or write and becomes a stripper instead?” They never said that to me, obviously. It just wasn’t necessary.
So whenever that fear grips you, remember it’s just that tiny, child-like part of you, squeezing your hand and asking for reassurance – what are you going to tell her?
It’s not an exclusive club by any means, but we’ve scouted around and it’s our wholly unbiased opinion that Barefoot is in fact, the Birmingham yoga studio with the best social scene.
Here’s 5 reasons why:
2. The teachers make time for you. Even as fully grown humans, we model behaviours from our teachers, and the people around us. The sad fact is, in a post-class environment where everyone is in a hurry to get to their next thing, that’s what you end up doing, too.
This needs no explanation if you’ve ever walked down Harborne High Street and your olfactory organ is in a state of normal functioning. If further details are needed, here it is in menu form. Our body is a temple, but every now and then the temple gardens need watering, too.
So what are you waiting for? Find your new favourite activity, and a whole bunch of awesome people to do it with – right here in the most fun yoga studio in Birmingham.
You know the feeling. Muscles in your body tend to get tight, restricted, or tired, whether from your movement habits or injury/trauma.
Chronic or constant, it’s low-level enough that you’re not often aware of the discomfort. But it’s there, just on the edge of your awareness – making you feel vaguely like you’re just not 100%.
A focused and consistent yoga practice allows physical knots and tensions to melt away, smoothing out the tangled thoughts in your mind.
Our regular Barefooter, Surrinder Moyler shared her experience with us. She’d been struggling for some time with a decision about whether to take a job in Oncology nursing with the NHS or in a private hospital. She’d been offered both.
Surrinder came to Dave’s Warm Yoga on Monday night, slept well that night and woke up with absolutely no doubt as to what to do. She’d had a moment of clarity – “I pushed away my ego and the need for glory, and chose my heart’s true calling – to care for all cancer patients and provide holistic care straight from my heart.”
The next morning Surrinder bought a bunch of flowers for the Matron who showed her around at the NHS job and made an appointment for her uniform fitting – something she’d been dodging for weeks. Congratulations, Surrinder! We’re very excited for you.
Yoga gives you practice in conscious, mindful movement. Gently stretching and relaxing tightness in your body has a parallel effect on the mind.
It’s a great feedback loop. The more you practice conscious movement, the more you are conscious of the subtle shifts in your body sensations. This frequently leads to a sense of enhanced intuition, a greater feeling of clarity and embodiment, and better decision making.
So what are you waiting for? Get on that mat and start tuning in…
Is your child keen at football, hockey, rugby, swimming, athletics, dance or gymnastics? Have they recently increased their level of sport or started a new one? Is he or she going through a growth spurt and starting to pick up injuries, or struggling with aches and pains that are not going away? Talk to our resident Physio clinic for more info about how physio can help active, sporty kids.
Eleni, regular Barefooter and hot yoga devotee since 2014, kept up her practice by attending just about every Thursday and Saturday prenatal yoga class throughout her pregnancy. 8 weeks post-delivery, she found a little time to write to us about her birth experience.
“I wanted to write a few words to thank you for contributing to my preparation to experience labour and enjoy the first hours that brought Sophia into my world. It was so hard to only write a few lines about the very rewarding experience I had – how can you reduce 16 hours into a few words! But I tried to be faithful to the spirit of the day.” – Eleni
How did you know it was ‘Go’ time?
It was one day before my due date, 21 March, the first day of spring. At 1am, I started feeling a tightening sensation at my lower back. It came and went and I thought maybe this is Braxton Hicks. By 3am I knew it was not and I was very excited. I woke up my partner to say, “the baby is coming today”, then focused on the rushes that felt like sea waves crashing on my body. I remember being interested in experiencing the birth waves and at each stage thinking, “If this is what it feels like, I can do it!”
By the time the midwives came at 8am, I was 5 cm dilated and was helped into the birthing pool. The water was great. I was holding onto the sides of the pool and remember the beautiful sun and the bird song coming in through the window. Lovely day to have a baby.
And what was the most challenging part?
By the afternoon, the rushes became more intense and I could feel an urge to push. I thought about hypnobirthing and the option of breathing the baby out – No way! I don’t know how long I felt the head putting pressure on me – 5 minutes? 5 hours? Whatever it was, I had no stamina left!
I started speaking to the baby to encourage her to help me. Giving birth to the head was challenging and I thought, “I’m not doing this again any time soon.” However, once the head was born the body slid like an eel in a river.
Tell us about the first moments holding your baby.
It was amazing. I pulled her out of the water: a big girl at 4 kg! I kept holding her while getting out of the pool and onto the bed and from my belly she got to my chest and started breastfeeding on her own straight away. A wise little one, I thought, and called her Sophia.
Beautiful! How do you feel yoga has helped you?
It gave me the focus on breathing and keeping my muscles relaxed. I thought about Faye’s suggestion at the yoga practice that it’s ok to make noise, and a colleague’s advice to push onto my bum and not my eyes! The excitement about finally meeting Sophia had slowly built up in the classes and on the day I was ready! Slowly but surely, yoga had reassured me that my body knew how to do it.
Congratulations, Eleni and family! We are super happy for you, bring baby Sophia along for Mum and Baby yoga soon.
Let go and relax with some not-so-serious ‘Rage Yoga’ with *Gosia Federowicz. A one-off 90 minute dynamic Vinyasa class with music, laughter and serious sweat. Rage and relax your way into the weekend with this rock music filled class. Suitable for all levels including adventurous beginners. Enter the moshpit.
*Pic: fellow Barefooter Claire Hatchell, she rocks too.
Alain de Botton, writer, philosopher and maker of Socrumentaries, talks about how we are actually quite ignorant of the art of travel when we go on holiday. Our error being that, he says, “we take ourselves, complete with our habits and worries, with us.” So why travel, if it just means bringing along all your junk with you? Here’s 3 ways you can leave your baggage behind when you travel and give yourself completely to the art of losing yourself.
You’ve been told – or you tell yourself – that you’re no good at something. Or you’re just not the type of person who does this kind of thing.
If you’re not a fan of the water or find fish really creepy (I do), that’s cool. I’m not suggesting you sign yourself up for diving lessons just for the sake of doing something different. But often you have stories you tell yourself. Narratives that you’ve been repeating to yourself so much that you forget where they come from.
And travel gives you the opportunity for experiences that challenge.
As one of the brand-new yogis on our Barefoot holiday said, he never thought he’d be doing yoga or eating vegetarian – but he had a lovely weekend away in Somerset to try it all on for size. (And now he’s at least 10% hippie.)
2. Be a curator of beauty and truth
Travel brings you new sights, colours, smells and sounds. Drink these in and let them ignite your imagination – it’s like Pinterest in real life.
There is however, a difference between simply collecting and curating. The latter involves discipline and consciousness. It’s an ongoing practice of figuring out what it is you find beautiful, what speaks to you deeply and truthfully – and ultimately, what you want to surround yourself with.
3. Practice humility
Back to the creepy fish. I love all animals, but somehow fish I just couldn’t deal with. I’d put it down to a bit of xenophobia – they just look so weird and different to their cuddlier, fluffier animal brethren.
And then I went on my first scuba dive, and I realized it was because they’re actually better than me. Down in the water, in their domain, I’m useless. Human rules don’t apply. I may be great at ocean-breathing the whole way through an Ashtanga practice, but out here in the real ocean, fish, you win. You streak by with grace and ease, while I flap around with plastic feet and breathe out of a can.
So give thanks to the inhabitants of the lands you visit. They may be richer, poorer, or have more scales than you, but if you lower your guard (and your self-importance) you’ll find they always have something to teach you.
“The only true voyage of discovery… would be not to visit strange lands but to possess other eyes, to behold the universe through the eyes of another, of a hundred others, to behold the hundred universes that each of them beholds, that each of them is” – Marcel Proust, The Prisoner