Ceiriog Valley

Spring Reflections: #1 Change + Covid 19

The Arrival of Spring

Early spring witnesses the pairs of geese who’ve not long arrived from Canada, fly over our cottage with their distinctive calls, to nest in the nearby ponds.  They’ll spend the next few months marching up and down the hills, protecting their territory like nightclub bouncers. 

Canadian Geese in Wales

The little local birds wake us up with their dawn chorus and they’ll occupy their days building nests in roofs and log sheds.   They’ll fly back and forth to my bird feeder, the blue tits trying their hardest not to get in the way of the bully birds – two male robins. The house martins perch on the nearby telephone lines, diving at anyone driving or walking past. The buzzards gracefully circle and survey the landscape, looking for their next meal and their high pitch screeches echo across the valley.  

 

Over in the distance high upon the hill, next to the newly arrived lambs who bounce over strewn branches from winter storms, there’s a corner plot of daffodils. Their yellow heads sway in the cool spring breeze but are mostly protected by the man made spruce forest above which took a lashing during the winter storms!

Mother Nature seems happy and at peace here, much like me. You’d never know there was anything out of the ordinary going on in the outside world….

A Nature Retreat

I’ve spent 4 wonderful years in this area of North East Wales but only a year in our lovely little Welsh cottage but it feels gladly like a lifetime. I’ve become familiar with the seasonal flow of the rivers, the snowed-in days, isolated walking paths,  and the best spots for daffodils, bluebells, bird watching, sunrise and sunset. 

This valley and its nature has provided me with feelings of comfort, certainty and familiarity.  A mossy shoulder to listen and cry on in times of discomfort, uncertainty, unfamiliarity and isolation.

At the start of 2020,  I felt like I’d spent enough time alone in nature recovering from past accrued trauma, and hatching and talking over my plans with the natural world.

 I felt ready to cast away a storm cloud I’d been sitting under for some time.  I was ready to embrace life! 

Ceiriog Valley

The Slow Creep of Change …

January

A month of comfort zone kickers – teaching yoga. After what seemed like an eternity of plucking up the courage to train, by my 4th class I’d wondered why I’d not done this sooner?!  

Elsewhere in mother nature Australia and its creatures were crying out as they burned. I could only feel more gratitude for where I was placed in the world.  I felt helpless but donated my money where I could and set as many intentions as I could for rain, which eventually came.

February

I launched my website after many hours of tending to it, on those what seemed like never ending stormy nights which glitched out my internet.  Then came the disruptions from the floods but despite local disasters, I carried on with my plans and released my first retreat. I felt such gratitude as my summer events began to sell out. The icing on the cake was being asked to run summer outdoor yoga with the National Trust and Canal and River Trust.

March

I was celebrating my 12th year as a freelancer in the digital sector- it was an emotional anniversary. 

It’s become increasingly hard to be in this industry with lack of internet (hello rural living) and the many politics which have greatly influenced the industries I’d chosen to work in.

I was getting ready – over the last 2 years – to say goodbye to this period of my life. It had caused me heartache and health issues.  Still I wasn’t ready to say goodbye just yet.  However when a few of my freelancing gigs expressed concerns over a spreading virus in the far east, I felt like goodbye was going to be sooner rather than later. 

And then of course Covid-19 reared its ugly head on our doorsteps and suddenly what seemed like overnight, the storm cloud was back to test me.

Making Sense of It All!

It’s been a surreal few weeks in the UK. There’s a growing sense of uncertainty and unrest in the air. Instead of enjoying the joys of spring,  panic reached the pasta and toilet roll aisles of the supermarkets and time outside is monitored and restricted.

Social distancing and stay at home have become hashtags and public awareness campaigns.  Around the world, many businesses closed whilst lock-down was enforced and the UK soon (although not soon enough some would say) followed suit. 

Overnight my little fledgling fell out of the tree.   Classes cancelled, events postponed and other plans put on the ‘when this is all over’ list. Not to mention all my big freelancing gigs postponed for the foreseeable future. 

‘We’re all in this together’ feels somewhat of a comforting statement.  And to put it all into perspective some have been affected far worse than losing their livelihoods, more like losing their lives.

In a conversation with my best friend (who’s part superhero and part therapist),  I explained how I feel I’ve lost something I’d spent so much energy preparing and caring for only for it to be snatched away before I’d even properly got to enjoy the fruits of my labour.  

I’m in a delicate space where since I’ve come out of a much lived in comfort zone, everything appears extra scary.  My mind and body wants to stay in fight or flight mode. I’m even more grateful for knowing Pranayama!  It’s perhaps the commitment to my quality of breathing which is going to see me through this ‘phase.’

Yet a new type of change nags away at me – going back online. The yoga industry has quickly progressed into delivering online classes both live through Facebook,  Zoom and pre-recorded videos through YouTube.  Yikes. The world was always going in the direction of video and it’s been  like that ever since YouTube set up virtual shop!

But I’d like to have a choice… 

I miss the energy and personal connection from in person classes.

Despite the anxiety that video brings me,  I’d spent a week plucking up the courage making my first video to share with my ladies from my classes. I’ve currently got no suitable space to record in my cottage and I’ve to wait for calm weather so I can wander over to the neighboring field.  During that wonderful week of sunshine at the end of March I let the grass on my feet and the sun on my skin ground me, as I threw a few shapes in front of the camera.  

Not long after I’d put my video together,  my laptop broke and I lost all of my footage…

Back to Basics

I’ve since turned my attention inwards.   From progressing in my own slow yoga practice,  I’ve upped my meditation time and learning, I’ve started little home improving projects, to taking an interest in nature writing,  ending my days with Epsom salt baths, spending the weekends baking, and most importantly trying to be there for my Nan who lives on her own and who I make the effort to talk to most days.

I feel the literal force of nature encouraging us to learn more about ourselves and consider the impact we’re having on the world. I feel like we’ve been given a chance to start making a difference…

Whilst I don’t want this change  – I loved my lifestyle.  I recognise not everyone did and it’s for the greater good rather than an individual’s happiness. 

I’ve therefore decided to go back to basics. Instead of searching for what to do next I’ve slowed  down – stopped even and put my professional projects aside. I have retreated back to a familiar place in nature, using it as a self soothing tool.

I look forward to the arrival of the bluebells in the woods, sowing seeds outdoors and warmer days.

The Now is All We Have

 I’ve been inspired by how communities have pulled together.  I have enjoyed hearing how working professionals have had time to sleep properly and eat better. It’s been intriguing to watch companies try new ways of working such as remotely and give up the idea that a bum on seat is more productive than a person with a good work / life balance.  It’s been heart warming to see parents have the chance to spend quality time with their children and make their home-schooling full of nature, yoga,  mindfulness and real life skills – like a friend of a mine who took his step daughter foraging for firewood in prep for a garden campfire!  

Being in the moment has become even more important since our ability to make plans has been taken away. Yet that doesn’t stop us from dreaming of a future where we are in the arms of our loved ones, respecting the living organism we live on and the air the universe breathes into us.   For those of us who struggle with change remember….  just like the arrival and passing of the seasons, change is inevitable and natural.  Whilst storms of are often frowned upon they clear out debris, they kick start growth and they do pass.  

Covid-19 Quarantine Essentials

Currently Watching on Netflix

Moving Art : a perfect antidote if you’re stuck inside

Pitch Perfect 1-3 :  All you need in life is Rebel Wilson

From Rust to Riches: Rik got me into it

A Walk in The Woods : a comedic adaption on quite a brutal book

 

 

 

 

 

Currently Listening to on Audible

£7.99 a month gives you 1 credit to purchase any audio book. 

The 3 Day Effect  by Florence Williams:  the science behind the importance of being outside and among nature.

Perfectly Imperfect by John Baptise:  beyond the practice of Asana, how yoga enables true transformation in our mind and body.

Feral  by George Monbiot –  discovering a new way of living, re-wilding and re-engaging with the land and sea

Currently Reading

There’s always room in my life for physical books – nothing beats the smell of a good book!

The Hidden Life of Trees by John Banville

The Walkers Guide to Outdoor Clues & Signs by Tristen Gooley

Apps I love

Insight Timer : the free version gives you access to 30,000 sleep stories, courses, meditations, and talks.

Presently : a free android app which allows you to record your daily gratitude and reminds you should you forget.

Groups + People I love

Facebook Groups: The Hygge Nook,  Creating a Cozy Lifestyle – Hygge Style,  Yoga with Adrienne Community Group

Instagram accounts: @themindgeek, @jessicarosewilliams (and her YouTube channel) , @jo_at_frain, and @tonicofthesea

 

 

Spring Asana: Beginner Vriksasana (Tree Pose)

Slow Yoga Tree Pose
-Teaches patience + balance

-Opens the hip + strengthens thigh, calve + ankle

-Repeat on both sides

1. Stand on the right leg

2. Raise left heel + turn the left knee out

3. Rest sole of left foot against right ankle using the toes as balance as they touch the floor.

4. If that feels easy, move the sole up to the calf as pictured above.

5. Bring the palms together at heart level,  or up over the head and remember to breathe

Hint: the weight should be evenly distributed in both legs – avoid collapsing into the standing leg.

Caution: always place the sole of foot under or above never on the knee to avoid putting pressure on the joint.

Tip 1: use a tree, chair or wall for balance. If the sole resting on the calf feels too ambitious, use a block or cushion under the foot to add height and support.

Tip 2: try this pose lying down. Press the ‘standing leg’ into a wall.

Challenge: find your centre!

Chelsea Haden

Yoga teacher & outdoor enthusiast living rurally in North Wales in a little cottage on a windy hill with her pets & partner.

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