New to yoga? Read about the 3 biggest misconceptions surrounding the practice.

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I think it’s safe to say there are a lot of misconceptions surrounding the yoga community and it often really puts people off trying out a class. Today’s post is all about debunking those myths you’ve been told and giving you the confidence to attend that class you’ve been putting off for so long. Trust me, you’re missing out on an amazing community, a wicked physical exercise and the opportunity to learn so much about a practice that has been taught for thousands and thousands of years. There must be a reason people are still participating today, right?!

“I’m too inflexible to go to yoga. I can’t even touch my toes!”

I hear this one all the time. Whenever I tell people I’m teaching classes they tell me how they have always been interested in yoga but they’re too inflexible and therefore unteachable. This cannot be further from the truth I promise. I am not a naturally bendy person nor could I touch the ground for a really long time when I started practicing yoga. You don’t have to be able to get into the splits or touch your toes to be a good yogi. As long as you are fully present, breathing and aware of your body when practicing you are an excellent yogi!

“Yoga is just for hippies”

Sure, there are a lot of hippies who go to yoga but thats not who it’s for. Yoga is for everyone! Yoga allows you to stretch your bodies in ways that it doesn’t usually get the opportunity to because we spend the majority of our day hunched over at a desk rather than standing up and moving around. Some people come to yoga just because it is completely different to what they usually do and it allows them to get out of their head and away from the daily to do list. Others come as a way to strengthen the body after recovering for an injury and the hippies might come because they love the physical practice of yoga but they are also fascinated by the philosophical and spiritual aspect of it too. The beauty of yoga is that you can take what you want from it.

Five years ago when I first attended yoga I used it as another way of working out my body alongside cardio and weight lifting. I was not interested in the spiritual element whatsoever, so I didn’t engage so much with the conversations on the philosophies and yoga stories. But having those elements included didn’t make my experience any less beneficial- I always left with the yogi high. Soon enough, the spiritual side started to resonate with me more and it is what eventually led me to start doing my teacher training and then qualify allowing me to share this practice with others. I always suggest people try a class and take from it only what they need and that way the practice becomes truly your own.

“To be a yogi you have to be super healthy, give up drinking and live a minimalist life.”

Well, I really hope this one isn’t true, because if it is I am a terrible terrible yogi. I enjoy drinking a good G&T on the weekend and eating unhealthy foods with friends and I have a minor obsession with good gym wear (it’s ok if I pretend it’s workwear right?!) However, it is through my regular yoga practice I have the ability to be more mindful and open to adapting my behaviours so that they better serve me in the future. I’m certainly not perfect – nor do I ever intend to be because what even is perfect anyway?- But I practice with an open and honest place and for now that is perfect for me.

I hope you enjoyed this article about some of the biggest misconceptions I have been faced with in my own yoga journey and I hope it settles your mind if you believed any of these misconceptions. You are perfect as you are and welcome into the yoga community when you’re ready. I promise we don’t bite!

Until next time,

xo

Girls Supporting Girls: An Interview With Fashion Blogger, Charlotte Dougall

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Recently, over on Instagram I mentioned that although I am a keen yogi I am also really interested in the world of business and entrepreneurship. In the modern era so many people are switching from their stale 9-5 jobs and diving into creating their own business. As a yoga teacher I am also a small business owner and I believe it is important to support others paving the way in their industry as well as my own.

This week I am interviewing the lovely Charlotte who is a fashion blogger and freelance marketer. We had the pleasure of meeting at university and Charlotte’s blog and business have gone from strength to strength over the last few years. Read on to learn more about her and how she runs her own online business whilst balancing her student and social life. She’s the definition of a real Scottish Girl Boss.

 

Firstly, for those who don’t know about you give us a bit of a low down on who you are and what you do!
Hello! I’m Charlotte. I always find it hard to sum up what I do as I have a few strings to my bow at the moment, but I’ll try my best. I’m a blogger at Colours and Carousels, I run a digital marketing business called Content by Charlotte where I help small businesses, startups and other bloggers utilise their online presence to build their brand, and I’ve recently started a website called Blog and Beyond. Blog and Beyond is a collaborative resource for bloggers, covering tips and tricks for building a successful blog and breaking into the influencer industry. Outside of the internet, I’m a marketing student, a bookworm and a bit of a foodie!
You’ve been in the blogging game a long time now, what advice would you give to other young women who want to use blogging as a way of promoting their message to the world?
Don’t be afraid to be yourself! There are a lot of blogs out there these days, which is great, but there’s no point being a carbon copy of someone else when you can be yourself. When it comes to blogging, you are your brand, and being yourself is the only way to stand out amongst the crowd. Also – don’t forget to have fun! Blogging is really fun and it gives us a platform to share the things we’re passionate about. It doesn’t need to be a serious business if you don’t want it to be. Mine was just a fun hobby for a few years and I loved it that way!
You are also a freelance digital marketer, how do you feel running your own online business?
It can be high pressure, but it’s amazing. It’s probably the most empowering thing I’ve ever done, to be honest! I love being in control and being able to work when it suits me most, but sometimes it can be a bit difficult to be responsible for everything myself. Alongside doing the work for my clients, I also have to market my own business, take care of all of the admin and deal with my own accounts and things like that too. It’s a lot, but I love it, and I don’t think I’d have it any other way.
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What piece of advice do you have for young women who want to get out there and start their own business?
Just get started. You will never be 100% ready and the moment will never be perfect, if you keep waiting for everything to fall into place you’ll be waiting forever. If you’ve got an idea, go for it. Even if it doesn’t turn out exactly how you want it to, it’ll still be a learning experience, and you never know where it might take you! I wish I hadn’t waited as long to start my business, but I was just stuck waiting for things to be “perfect”.
As you know, I speak a lot about mental health and my own personal journey on the blog and I know you yourself have been open about your own mental health history in the past too. What self care habits do you have for your daily life?
I’m a firm believer in the power of a good night’s sleep and plenty of water. I spend a lot of time staring at a screen so my night time rituals are very sacred to me as they give me time to switch off and relax properly. I love a good bath, or getting to the gym when I can, but ultimately sleep is what helps me most. Basically, taking a step away from the busy world of the internet every so often is crucial for my mental health.
I am hugely focused on creating female empowerment and promoting strong women and help them succeed. What three words some up female empowerment to you?
Just three? That’s hard. I guess I’ll go for a phrase that I remind myself of a lot – “yes you can”. We, as females, can do anything we put our mind to.
Finally, if you could look back one year ago, what would you tell that Charlotte to let her know her future was bright? 
I’d definitely want to remind her of all the tough times she’s already made it through, and tell her that if she can manage through that she can make it through anything. It’s something I need to tell myself all of the time, really, as I don’t give myself enough credit for coping with everything life has thrown in my way so far!
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Massive thanks to Charlotte for sharing more about her blog and business with me and I thoroughly enjoyed taking away some business hints and tips from this interview. Also, credit to Claire White Photography for the images too. If you enjoyed reading this do let me know I’m keen to get other businesses on the blog in a variety of different fields so you get well rounded information.
Until next time,
xo

How To Get ‘Beach Body’ Ready Without Even Hitting The Gym

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Gotcha! You might be thinking that by clicking on this post you’re going to get all the details on how to lose some weight in order to be ‘beach body’ ready in time for summer to allow you to flaunt that bod around the seashores on your summer holidays without a care in the world.

*Side note: I’m jealous of whatever beach location you’re heading to this summer – my summer holiday is to the wonderful Costa Del Glasgow and not the shores of Ibiza.*

Every summer the panic begins. You stand under the unflattering lighting of the store fitting room, staring in disgust at your body. You think to yourself, “I need to tone up and lose weight before I can even consider going to the beach half naked.” Next, you start googling “Clean eating” and wiping the dust off that old gym membership you took out in January and haven’t used since. Then you pick apart all the flaws with your body whilst watching Love Island slumped down miserably with a bar of chocolate to make you feel better about the awful day you’ve just had. It’s a situation I know all too well.

I struggle with this every summer and then start beating myself up for being so silly because here’s the thing, your body is beach body ready 365 days of the year it’s your mind that isn’t. From a young age, I considered being beautiful with being thin, unsurprisingly, because that’s all the media has ever told me. “Lose 10 pounds and reveal your best you,” “This tea will shed the weight and make you ready for bikini season.” The messaging is everywhere and so damn hard to ignore.

Recently, I’ve been pretty self conscious of my body after stepping on the sad step (that’s the scales for anyone who doesn’t keep up with Joe Wicks) and realised I had gained over a stone in the last 6 months. My weight by no means is at risk to my health but I initially felt ugly and disgusting because of gains nonetheless. However, I realise that it was my mindset that was totally off. I had to sit down and remind myself that six months ago I was so miserable I didn’t even have the energy to eat; I was on anti-depressants that made me nauseous and I was always run down with spells of flu and tonsillitis. No wonder I was thin- unhealthily thin if you ask my mum. Nowadays, I’m much happier; no longer taking medication to even out my moods; training to be a yoga teacher and doing something I love every day and I’m in a happy and stable place so my enjoyment for food has (thankfully) returned once again. So of course I will have put the weight back on and it’s ok.

Things change in our day to day life and our weight will fluctuate alongside it and in order to have a healthy concept of body image we have to accept that. Don’t underestimate how hard it is- it’s a battle I’m constantly fighting with myself and I am by no means perfect at loving my body regardless of it’s shape.

But try and be confident in that bikini no matter what your size. Focus on the parts you do like, whether it is your hair or your eyes or your legs or your bum or your boobs. Focus on that bit and let the confidence shine through.

Go and work out because it makes you feel strong and empowered in your body, or eat healthily because it makes you feel amazing from the inside out. Don’t eat a specific way or do particular exercise just so you aren’t ashamed of your own body on the beach. Every body is different and we all have things that we would like to change but it’s the imperfections which make us unique from one another and allow us to stand out from our friends. If we all looked the same the world would be an incredibly boring place to live.

Get on that beach and flaunt what you’ve got. Your body is ready for the world to appreciate right now – not in two months or when you’ve shredded at the gym for weeks. Right this second! And don’t stand in the fitting room tearing yourself apart, order that swimwear online and try it on in the comfort of your own home where you can strut about listening to Beyoncé releasing your inner Sasha Fierce- trust me it works a treat.

Until next time,

Xo

Be Empowered by the Empowered Woman Project!

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Fun, strong, interesting and inviting are but a few words I would use to describe Mandy the founder of The Empowered Woman Project. This woman is someone I wish had been around as a role model when I was younger. Mandy bravely decided to share with the world her mental health story and openly discusses about how trying to take her own life earlier this year was the turning point for her. Similarly to me, she wanted to share her experiences with the world and turn something negative into a positive. The Empowered Woman Project started off as a way of building up her own confidence and over the last few months it has gone from strength to strength with growing media coverage.

Those of you who keep up with the blog know that I post my new content every Wednesday but I’m so damn excited about this interview I decided to post it a couple of days early! So, grab a cuppa and get ready to read the heartwarming interview with Mandy Rose Jones founder of The Empowered Woman Project.

Firstly, would you mind explaining what the project means to you an why you initially set it up?

The project means the absolute world to me. I shared my story with the world via the blog when I was in the darkest of places with my mental health. My sharing has inspired many other women to share their own stories which have covered everything from motherhood to crippling anxiety. When I tried to end my life in March, I literally just wanted to disappear. I didn’t feel seen. Now that I see a small light at the end of the tunnel, I want the project to remind other women that they are seen, they are important and they matter. It’s a very personal project and the fact it’s helping so many people is really helping my recovery process. Writing things down, no matter who reads it, is so therapeutic.

Female Empowerment is becoming a popular phrase in modern society but what does it mean to you?

Female empowerment, to me, is the belief that we can achieve anything we want in life with the right mindset and support network. It means women supporting women and having enough empathy to support another woman in need. I think empowerment the notion that kindness and support from woman to woman (in this case, online!) is just so easily implemented and can make such a huge difference.

What advice do you have for women to use in their everyday lives to help them feel more valued and empowered in their own bodies?

In my opinion, women just need to speak a little bit kinder to themselves. Sometimes we aren’t in tune with our internal dialogue enough to correct it. My advice is to try and tune into those voices from time to time. Chances are you probably aren’t being very fair on yourself. For example, a follower of the project got in touch last week to say she had been shopping for holiday clothes and had a bit of a meltdown in the changing rooms during what should have been a fun experience. I can bet she was saying negative things to herself which was amplifying the bad experience. Slow down. Breathe. Compliment your curves, be thankful for your body and all the things it can do. Remind yourself that your body can take you on long walks, can cuddle other people. It can stretch! Try loving it for all that it is rather than hating it for all that it’s not. To someone somewhere, you are GOALS!

Speaking of body confidence, it means so many different things to different people. What does body confidence mean to you?

Personally, body confidence to me has always related back to weight. For years I associated being slim or lean with my capabilities of happiness. But as the years have gone on, I’ve had the same hang ups when I’ve reached the ‘goal weight’ as I did when I was just comfortably living life. As someone who has competed in Bodybuilding shows and also struggled with eating disorders in the past, I now just try to find body confidence in being proud of everything it can do. I have long legs to take me on walks, a strong body to lift weights and plenty of food to eat. It’s about being grateful for what you do have. It’s been interesting to discover it means different things to everyone. Some people lack body confidence due to a skin condition or even conditions such as chronic fatigue syndrome which have a knock on effect to overall body confidence. It’s important to chat all about it.

Earlier you mentioned that you share women’s stories across your blog. I would love to know why you decided to use this format? Is it as a way for women to express themselves in their own voice? 

I think it is. I like to think that the project, as it grows, is bridging the gap between mental health care medically that people just aren’t asking for and social media. It’s a safe and understanding platform full of support and encouragement where women can feel safe so share their own story with the world without fear of judgement.

The project is going from strength to strength and I really believe what you’re doing is making a difference out there. What are your future plans with it all? 

The reason it’s called a project is because I’m not quite sure where it’s going But that’s the exciting part. It’s kind of driving itself at the moment! I see the blog continuing to grow and hope that guest contribution continues to thrive. The podcast and YouTube will be more lively in the coming weeks as I speak to inspirational women from all different backgrounds. I am also soon going to be seeking kindness ambassadors who I hope will fulfil some of the project’s goals in new cities. The internet is an amazing place sometimes with people from as far away as New York wanting to get involved!

Finally, Mandy, where can the lovely readers find you online so they can soak up all this amazing, inspirational work you do so passionately? 

Instagram: @TheEmpoweredWomanProject
Facebook: The Empowered Woman Project
Twitter: @TheEmpWomanProj

A massive, massive thanks to Mandy for sharing her time and stories with me. If you haven’t heard of her before then do please check out her work, she’s a fabulous woman, who deserves all the rewards of the hard work she is putting into this project. I am really interested in sharing other inspirational women’s stories across the blog so do stay tuned for more upcoming interviews promoting other female badasses!

Until Next Time,

xo

How to reduce the amount of time you spend online- without turning into a modern day hermit

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A report from earlier this year, carried out by the BBC, found that over three billion people worldwide use online social media, and we are spending on average 2 hours a day scrolling down our screens checking out our friends latest feeds. Now, if you consider that there are 24 hours a day – and of that we should be sleeping for around 8 hours of it – we are spending at least an eighth of  our day online.

Before we begin, this post isn’t here to bash social media and tell you how bad it is for you, and I promise I won’t suggest you throw your phone into the sea and never communicate with the online world again. I love social media, my boyfriend would even go as far to say that I’m a social media addict. I think there are huge benefits to connecting with others online. Instagram allows us to share special moments in an instant; Facebook allows us to keep connected to family and friends all over; Pinterest acts as a great tool for generating ideas and inspiration and blogs and videos allow us to share new and innovative concepts with one another at any time, anywhere. However, I do believe we spend too much of our day online and if we were honest with ourselves we’re not always using it intellectually; we’re mindlessly scrolling to pass time and avoid boredom.

Last week, I spent a seven days in the beautiful West of Scotland on a yoga retreat as my first half of my yoga teacher training- more on that in a future post. Yoga twice a day, classes on the a wide range of yoga topics including, energy systems, understanding ancient texts, eras of yoga ect. I was eating the most delicious home cooked, wholesome food, and surrounded by all the beautiful nature Scotland has to offer- and of course- there was no wifi. The thought of not being able to keep in touch with my friends and share what I was up to brought me out in a nervous sweat. However, I decided to use this as a mini experiment and see how I could live without social media for a week. I must admit, day one was hard, I was with new people and when you run out of chat what’s the first thing we do- turn to our phones to avoid further conversation. I couldn’t do that with limited signal and no internet connection. Thank god! Not having access to it allowed me to really get to know some really fun and interesting people! Genuinely hang out with a bunch of yogis for a week in the middle of nowhere and integrating back into normal society afterwards is so strange. Much to my surprise it got easier and I actually really enjoyed not being attached to my little rectangular device all day. It allowed me to think more creatively, have more meaningful conversations with others and I could feel my overall anxiety levels depleting day by day.

So, after reflecting my week of being social media free I’ve come up with a few tips on how you could live your life a little less digitally.

Turn off your notifications. This one is really easy to do. For the whole week I turned off every notification to all my social media channels and put all my apps in a folder together on my phone hidden away – I didn’t need any temptations. Then, when my detox was over I only turned on notifications for apps I know I need like my email and Messenger. By not having my phone lighting up every time something new happened I felt less inclined to check my device every five minutes and I find it liberating not being distracted by useless posts and updates all day.

If you don’t need your phone on you then keep it tucked away. My training was full on, I didn’t have time to get distracted by my social media apps. By putting it away in the morning until I got all my important work completed I worked far more effectively and efficiently. When you know you have a big deadline that needs your urgent attention put the phone in a different room on silent so it can’t draw you in and tempt you.

Question your behaviours. The less I was using my phone the more I noticed strange behaviours I had developed by overusing my device. For example, there was a lot of self development work throughout the week and whenever I was thinking about something uncomfortable or something I didn’t like, I instinctively went to my phone to try and check Facebook as a distraction technique. When the app wasn’t there I had to ask myself- why did you automatically do that rather than sit with your thoughts? I found this really interesting because it enabled me to question why something was unsettling me and I could explore other avenues for dealing with pain and discomfort. For example, I would go and call my family or my boyfriend for a chat to explain how I was feeling or I would take a walk and allow the fresh air to clear my head a little. Rather than suppressing stuff I didn’t like by going online I had to face up to it and move forward which I found really empowering.

Bedtime is for sleeping and switching off. I did notice that while I was away I often wanted to scroll online when I was lying in bed at night waiting to fall asleep. As we didn’t have an alarm clock we needed to use our phones but I do like the idea of removing my phone from my bedtime routine and switching my alarm for a physical alarm clock instead. Replying to a friend’s meme tag can always wait until morning!

So, there you have it, my experience of going social media free for a week. Don’t get me wrong I won’t be deleting all my online accounts anytime soon, but taking part in a social media detox has allowed me to become more mindful of the time I do spend online and how it could better serve me doing something more productive. If you have also carried out your own social media detox do let me know in the comments section below I would love to hear about your experiences too!

Until next time,

xo

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It’s OK to say the M Word

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I’ll be honest, this week my head has been all over the place, I’ve felt anxious, nervous and really unlike myself. On my laptop there is a list of ‘future blog post ideas’ that I have stored away which I’m really interested in and none of them were shouting out to me to be written this week. Then a post popped up in my Instagram reminding me that May is Mental Health Awareness month- it felt the most appropriate thing to write about given my current week.

Mental Health is becoming a topic we can more openly discuss with one another but it’s certainly one people still feel uncomfortable about when they’re surrounded by it. FULL DISCLAIMER: I used to really struggle to discuss mental health with people; I’m a hugely empathetic person and because I hadn’t gone through what a friend was going through, I couldn’t get my head around it – I didn’t understand how difficult their situation really was. It wasn’t until I was diagnosed with depression that changed, and even then, the first couple of months I was so embarrassed I didn’t want anyone to know. I’m generally a loud, bubbly, friendly and outgoing person, how were people going to understand that inside I was a deeply sad person who didn’t want to get out of bed in the morning?

So firstly, I think this post should recognise that it is OK for someone to feel a little uncomfortable when discussing mental health. It does not mean your friend doesn’t care about you or doesn’t believe what you are saying. I’m sure they are trying to understand what you are experiencing through their own life perspective which can be difficult- try and be kind to them too. If you are someone who this resonates with and don’t know what to say or how to act around someone struggling with a mental health issue but you want to be there for them, my advice would be to simply sit and listen to them. This allows them to talk about the chatter which is circling around their brain and is usually all they are looking for in the first place.

We also need to remember that although no two people’s experiences are the same it’s great to open up with one another and share stories. Everyone suffers with poor mental health to some degree in their lifetime, so no doubt your story shares similarities with someone else’s and having an open and vulnerable conversation often makes you realise you’re not alone in this world and people understand to some degree what you are experiencing. This kind of conversation is what helps people recover and in some instances can save lives.

This final part i’ll discuss today touches on mental health recovery- something I am experiencing right now. I was on medication for depression for around six months and have come off them in the last two. Generally speaking everything has been fine since and I live a very normal and happy life. But, and there’s always a but, some weeks are much harder than others. This week in particular has been a real struggle, the nervousness, anxiety, and lack of self worth have all crept in and really got me down. However, this is to be expected and I need to remind myself that not every day will be plain sailing.

The best way I have found to describe my emotions is by using the image of the sea. Like the sea, my emotions are always drifting in and out and they’re usually very manageable and controlled, but sometimes something happens (and often I don’t even know what that something is) and it’s like a big rock has been dropped into the water creating a disruption in the waves. However, the sea will always return to normal once more – even stormy seas settle and become calm once more. You’ve just got to ride it out- and for me that involves some #boringselfcare but I’ll save that for another post.

This post feels all over the place but in all honestly I’ve just written from the heart. Mental Health doesn’t look perfect and much like this post it is very scattered and erratic. All I ask is this Mental Health Awareness month is that you are more open to discussing your own and others mental health issues with one another, learning something new, breaking the stigma, and promoting healthier communities and relationships with each other.

Until next time,

XO

Why Are Some People Happier Than Others?

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Now, everyone loves an Instagram poll, and I used one on @meganalexandra_yoga to find out what you most wanted to read about this week! Like I’ve said before, my main aim is to create content you’re interested in and that educates you in a wide variety of health and wellness topics. So, due to public demand, this week I am focusing on the topic of happiness, what it is, and how you can experience it.

One of the main goals as humans is to experience happiness, but there is much debate on how we can actually become more happy. Does having more money equal greater happiness? Does being in a relationship make you happier? Does being thin and athletic mean you’ll be more content in life? The short answer to all of these questions is no. The real reason some people are happier than others is actually much more simple than that.

Happier people have a happy mindset.

Let me repeat that, “happier people have a happy mindset”. It really is as plain and simple as that- happiness is a choice. Read on to find out some methods I’ve discovered throughout my own life which have allowed me to experience an abundance of happiness and joy.

Firstly, stop attaching happiness with external things. For example, I always used to associate happiness with being in a relationship. I believed that while I was still single I couldn’t be truly happy. But, then I would meet someone and once the initial new romance glow would wear off I would find myself deeply unhappy once more. “Why do I feel this way? I would ask myself, I have exactly what I thought would make me feel better and now I actually feel worse than before.” The reason I felt like this is because I had experienced that short term happiness that fades over time and I was chasing my next happiness hit. However, if you look inwards and focus on having a stronger relationship with yourself you’ll learn that happiness comes from within and that you shouldn’t rely on other people, places or things to give you that sense of satisfaction.

Secondly, I try and look at things that aggravate me as challenges rather than sit and dwell on them. I personally find that the longer I focus on something that I feel is an injustice, the worse the feelings of hurt or anger get. If you feed the feeling it gets bigger and bigger. One way of starving these feelings and making them feel more manageable is by treating them as either internal or external challenges. Often, if someone says something that hits a nerve it’s because you’ve got some internal work to do in order to clear those negative feelings. Or, if I’m having a bad day, rather than think the world is against me, I try to see it as an opportunity to develop myself as a person and accomplish tasks I didn’t think I was capable of.

My final piece of advice which has allowed me to be happier is to look at every situation with love. It actually takes more energy to be bitter towards someone who treated you wrongly or to hold onto negative feelings towards particular life events. Being bitter doesn’t stop these things from having happened- they’re now in the past. You’re letting them interrupt and interfere with the present moment, when they could have been left behind. Life is full of trials and tribulations and no two people will have the exact same experience, but if we change how we view them we’ll stop letting these experiences define us as individuals and live more presently.

So, there are three ways I try use to allow me to view life in a happier way. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not always easy and I don’t always keep my cool in situations. We’re always learning, evolving and developing but I promise if you want to be happier it is entirely possible, and it is entirely down to you. If you have any of your own ways of cultivating happiness I would love to know! Please leave a comment below and start a conversation!

Until next time,

Megan xo

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