5 Tips To Start A Seated Meditation Practice

Seated Meditation Practice

Charley enjoying a quiet moment sitting in meditation with her young son.

Starting Out A Seated Meditation Practice Can Be Hard

Carving out time for you is hard, especially for seated meditation practice.   There, I said it “IT IS HARD” so we can all stop pretending that this is going to be an easy thing to do and instead steel ourselves to accept the challenge!  It’s even harder when you have a spare bit of time and have to choose between several unfinished tasks, all of which seem to be screaming out for your attention.  This can drown out the initial intent to sit quietly for a few moments since we’re conditioned to believe this is lazy or unproductive.  This is a familiar narrative in my mind too but I promise you that with practice, you will get better at doing it.

Building Up To A Seated Meditation Practice

This term in my weekly yoga classes the theme has been soothing the central nervous system to prepare for seated meditation practice.  We’ve added a minute each week in order to gradually build up to a 10 minute seated meditation practice.  If 10 minutes seems too long to begin though then I suggest 3 minutes as a great starting point.  You can focus on your breath to begin with or use a favourite technique if you prefer.  After that you’ll find out quickly that meditation is rarely a fully structured practice.  Your mind will wander and you will bring it back and then it will wander again.   Don’t worry! It is only your mind doing what all minds do, you aren’t bad at this and there is no way to be bad at meditation (except maybe not doing it at all!)

Reasons For Your Seated Meditation Practice

Strangely enough I disagree with our common excuse that not having enough hours in the day is the problem.  I believe that it’s how we prioritise our time that is the problem.   Rarely do we put our own self-care first and will often prioritise a basket of washing, uncleaned floor or grocery shopping over and above our own mental health.  In the past year or two I’ve reframed my self-care into caring for my own mental health.  For me this shift has been useful as I’m less likely to make an excuse that I’m busy.  That reason could be different for each of you so it might be useful to think about what your motivation is.  Why do you want to start a practice?  What do you hope to gain from it?  Write it down to help solidify the idea in your mind.

My 5 Tips For A Seated Meditation Practice

  1. Have a reason – write it down
  2. Work out where you will practice, it could just be a chair. Make it easy to set up.
  3. Decide when you will practice – what time of day suits you best, try to visualise where you will slot this little practice into your daily routine.
  4. Set an achievable time limit (3-10mins?) – use a timer on your phone with a soft tone like a chime or similar to bring you out of your practice.
  5. Keep going – the habit will get easier with practice although the practice itself may not!


It’s not always easy sitting with our thoughts, sensations, emotions and outside noises all vying for our attention.  Some days will be easier than others and you can note that – really that’s what meditation is – noting what is happening for you in the moment. Good Luck x

Charley Hickey




About Charleyoga & Charley Hickey C-IAYT

Author: Charley Hickey C-IAYT is a practicing yoga therapist and senior yoga teacher who runs group and private yoga classes in Applecross, Bateman & Fremantle, Perth.  She also runs specialised yoga workshops for yoga students & yoga teachers.


How To Spring Clean Your Mind With Yoga

Spring Clean Your Mind YogaSpring is in the air, my nose has what I call the spring itch!  That’s one of the things I least like about spring I have to admit.  I love the change of season in countless other ways though. There are the obvious ones like gorgeous blossoms and patches of glorious warm sunshine to break up the chill of the days. Less overtly I always get a more subtle kind of spring itch which I can only describe as an itching deep in my soul.  It works its way in and irritates me with a constant commentary like “Shouldn’t you clear that cupboard out?” and “How are you going to grow as a person next year?” or “Where are you travelling to in 2019?”

Does anyone else get this spring itch? I’m sure it might sound familiar to some of you.  Well, I don’t have all the answers just yet but I take solace in the practice of yoga and take this opportunity to spring clean my mind (I’ll explain in a moment!).

Spring Clean Your Mind With Yoga

For me, this practice really comes back to the 4th of the niyamas (observances) in yoga; svadhyaya which means self-study.  It can mean study of texts but primarily it relates to understanding oneself.  Self-study allows us to see our own true nature through the contemplation of things that happen in our lives. This then gives us an opportunity to learn something about ourselves as we make mistakes or when things work out well along the way.   Examining our actions becomes a mirror to observe our motives, thoughts and desires more clearly.

In our yoga practice, we can do this exact same thing.  We find out what our body can and can’t do, how we might feel about that and even emotions that may be invoked by being able/unable to do a particular posture or practice.  Habitual ways of moving or recurrent thought patterns may also become apparent as a result of this practice.

Meditation Practice To Spring Clean Your Mind

  1. Sit comfortably in an upright position, how you are now is just fine!
  2. Close your eyes and begin to tune into your natural breath
  3. Bring to mind any thoughts, ideas, or beliefs that feel like they aren’t serving you right now or have become irrelevant to your current situation
  4. One by one, or all at once, see if you can connect to what their original purpose was. Do they have a reason for still existing and taking up your mind space? Is there something further to explore or is it time to return that energy back to your main reserves?
  5. When you come to the realization that it’s time to let go of mind clutter—much in the same way you would give away a piece of old clothing that you never wear anymore—thank it for having served its purpose and take in any learning or wisdom it has to impart and then say goodbye…
  6. Next, imagine erasing it from a chalkboard to reveal a fresh, clean surface.
  7. Once you’ve cleared away that which no longer needs to occupy your mind, spend some time connecting to the open space you have created in your internal world. The space that you’ve cultivated doesn’t mean the mind is now empty. Rather, see it as being filled with the element of space, which represents potential and possibilities
  8. Next, invite in a new thought or belief in the form of an intention for something you would like to happen in the coming days, weeks, or months. Perhaps there is an old idea that you want to take off the shelf and revisit. Maybe starting the project that’s been in the back of your mind for years.
  9. Bring your new intention to the forefront of your mind and imagine planting it like a seed in that newly fertile space.
  10. Then, let go of the intention, trusting that the Universe will work out the details.  Take a few slow, deep breaths before opening your eyes.

Happy Spring Cleaning x

Charley Hickey



Author: Charley Hickey C-IAYT is a practicing yoga therapist and senior yoga teacher who runs group and private yoga classes in Applecross, Bateman & Fremantle, Perth.  She also runs specialised yoga workshops for yoga students & yoga teachers.


References: https://chopra.com/articles/spring-cleaning-meditation-to-tidy-up-the-mind

Yoga For Insomnia ~ Tips To Get You Started

Yoga For Insomnia

Yoga For InsomniaNot sleeping so great? I feel for you, I really do. Insomnia is what brought me to meditation and then yoga many years ago.  You can read more about that here and listen to my Facebook Live talk if you are interested to hear my story.

Insomnia is a very common complaint with almost half of adults experiencing symptoms on a few nights a week. It is more prevalent in women and older adults but anyone can be affected. (www.sleepoz.org.au)

Just as exercise and nutrition are essential for optimal wellness, so is sleep. As a yoga therapist, I often observe that there is a direct relationship between the quality of a person’s sleep and the quality of their waking life.

Insomnia can have complex and far reaching effects into the overall health and wellbeing of a person.  This often includes people close to them and communities at large. Many turn to pharmaceuticals to combat the problem but this is rarely a long term solution.

How Yoga Can Help With Sleep

Yoga can be a fantastic way of dealing with insomnia over the long term. It provides an excellent opportunity to relieve stress, improve self-awareness. The practices have more effect over time with minimal adverse side effects.

Most importantly guidance is required with what techniques to practice when or you could end up making the situation worse.  Yes, yoga could make your insomnia worse!  For example, having a really strong, stimulating or energising practice in the late evening.  Although this might be great for waking you up in the morning, it is not so great later. So, you might ensure your yoga teacher/therapist is confident to prescribe techniques therapeutically in order to get the best outcome.

There is a growing evidence base of research supporting the effectiveness of yoga in treating insomnia. We go through some of this in our yoga for insomnia workshops. Many techniques have been shown to be effective.  These include asana (postures), pranayama (breathing techniques), concentration techniques, meditation and awareness exercises.

Yoga is an active therapy, this means you have to be ready and willing to make change for it to work! So, here is my action plan for incorporating yoga into your lifestyle to help ease insomnia.

Yoga For Insomnia – Action Plan

  1. As a starting point, follow good sleep hygiene practices see here
  2. Find a yoga teacher who has classes near to where you live and start attending regularly, if you need help looking, let us know! Regular practice will give the greatest benefit.
  3. Keep a sleep diary for a week so you and your  yoga teacher can analyze it for any patterns
  4. See a yoga therapist who can help you get to the root of the problem and then prescribe something that is tailored to you as an individual.
  5. Come along to one of our workshops which will arm you with a heap of yogic tools to use to help combat insomnia (and there is cake & chai!)

At Charleyoga, we aim to educate and empower you with yogic tools that are easy to learn an practice.  Some you can use regularly as a preventative measure.   Other techniques are perfect to use in place of spending hours tossing and turning in bed. They can be extremely effective if you are willing to commit to an “active” therapy. Yoga is not a passive form of therapy so requires a willingness to make change and become more self-aware (mindful).

It’s always beneficial to get live training and to build up a working, experiential knowledge of yoga by joining a class.  You could start by watching this recording of a talk I did on Yoga for Insomnia here.  I’ve been been offering insomnia workshops and yoga classes Perth clients with sleeping issues have had successful outcomes with for many years. Contact us today for more details, or go ahead and book into a class.

Charley Hickey




About Charleyoga & Charley Hickey

Author: Charley Hickey C-IAYT is a practicing yoga therapist and senior yoga teacher who runs group and private yoga classes in Applecross, Bateman & Fremantle, Perth.  She also runs specialised yoga workshops for yoga students & yoga teachers.


A Lesson In Balance From The 3 Legged Dog

Yoga to improve balanceWhilst sitting on a beach in Thailand last year, I became quite mesmerized with watching this dog go about its day.  I noticed a group of dogs all running together, playing and nipping at each other. At first I didn’t realise why but this particular dog kept sitting down to rest.  As the group moved further towards me I then realised that the dog had only three legs!

It was such a poignant moment, I felt sad for the dog at first. However, I quickly realised that the dog seemed pretty much like all the other dogs apart from this missing limb.  I couldn’t resist taking a photo of this amazing creature.  I thought how cool this was and discovered that a dog can very easily get by on 3 limbs.

With a little research I found out that one recommendation is to ensure your furry friend has ample rests when needed.  Makes sense why the dog was sitting more often!  This is important so that premature wear and tear injuries or arthritis don’t form in the remaining joints.  I’m sure that a 2 legged dog mightn’t get on in life quite as well as a 3 legged one for obvious reasons! Exercise and maintaining a healthy weight was also seen as important.  However, the tip that stood out the most to me was to let a 3 legged dog be a dog!

If a three legged dog is kept from doing all the things that dogs love to do, she will have lived an unfulfilled life.” (1)

We can replace the “dog” in this sentence with “person/people” and it still makes sense!  YOU are a person, your injuries and restrictions may mean you have to modify but it shouldn’t stop you from being a person.  People do yoga, any people, you included!

The Idea Of Yoga To Improve Balance

There are so many people I speak to daily who think they have “imperfect” bodies.   This could be due to missing or broken limbs, nerve damage, arthritis, age, illness or injuries.   My belief is there is no perfect body, only the perfect body for you!

Look at the leg sitting in slightly toward the centre, bowing inwards allowing the dog to balance.   It also appears that there is quite a bit more muscle developed on one side.   No, it doesn’t look the same as the other dogs but does that really matter?  If we tried to change it to balance or “align” the dog, it would fall over and wouldn’t be able to do what dogs do!

In our yoga practice we can take a lesson from this.  Parts of our body mightn’t do exactly what we would like them to.  Nevertheless, trying to force a knee to be straight or a twist to be equal on each side will rarely be helpful or achieve anything.   If anything, I would say it is more likely to cause an injury.  If you’ve come to yoga to improve balance, chances are you will change your whole idea of that along the way.

Yoga To Improve Balance – Lessons To Learn

The main lessons from this tale (or should that be tail, he he!):

  • Rest when needed and respect where your body cannot go
  • Keep moving, take care of your body, it can do many awesome things
  • Be perfect in your imperfection, drop the striving for this ever elusive balance
  • Keep doing the things you love and live that fulfilled life!

Charley Hickey



About Charleyoga & Charley Hickey

Author: Charley Hickey C-IAYT is a practicing yoga therapist and senior yoga teacher who runs group and private yoga classes in Applecross, Bateman & Fremantle, Perth.  She also runs specialised yoga workshops for yoga students & yoga teachers.



  1. https://shibashake.com/dog/three-legged-dog-care-tripod-dog-care

My Mum The Accidental Muse

Family Yoga Perth MumLooking at this picture you may think you already know what I’m going to write.  Perhaps something like –  “My mother was a yogi from a very young age.  She moves calmly through her day with ease and grace and is such an inspiration to me and taught me all I know.”

Well, the reality couldn’t be further from the truth!  She did teach me a heck of a lot though, that’s for sure! Without realising it, my Mum was the catalyst for me starting yoga and an accidental muse as is the case with most good muses so I hear!

Family Yoga

You see, my slightly crazy and amazing Mum (think Dad may have been involved somewhere too?) decided to have 5 children.   She then unofficially adopted another and if that wasn’t already enough, ran a family day care from our family home.  Among all the hectic craziness of our loving home, I found I craved peace and quiet.  I also had difficulty sleeping as there always seemed to be someone up and about. This is what brought me to yoga at age 11, suffering from insomnia. I used to stress out about the noise, mess & busyness of our home but quickly realised that it wasn’t going to go away.

Yoga For Stress Relief

As a self confessed person of action and an avid reader, I took to researching the problem myself. I was delighted to discover the joy of finding a place of internal quiet and peace through meditation, breath work and eventually the whole package in yoga.  So, you see, I really do have my Mum and the whole of my family to thank including my late Dad and siblings Renee, Lisette, Melissa, Nick & Kerry. I really don’t mean to sound like our home environment was horrible, quite the opposite in fact.

So, when you come to along to my yoga classes, we don’t have a fancy, freshly decorated and peaceful studio dedicated to our yoga practice (although that would be nice!).  We run classes in spaces where there are often other things going on outside of our control.  This often comes with little disturbances that might intrude on our practice momentarily. However, I see these as useful opportunities to find that place of internal peace and practice for real!

Anyone can find calm in a quiet, comfortable space but does that really sound like your day to day life?

Charley Hickey




About Charleyoga & Charley Hickey

Author: Charley Hickey C-IAYT is a practicing yoga therapist and senior yoga teacher who runs group and private yoga classes in Applecross, Bateman & Fremantle, Perth.  She also runs specialised yoga workshops for yoga students & yoga teachers.

Cheat Sheet For Warrior III Pose

Warrior III

Warrior III Pose – Virabhadrasana III


Warrior III pose

Virabhadra = the name of a fierce warrior, described as having a thousand heads, a thousand eyes, and a thousand feet; wielding a thousand clubs; and wearing a tiger’s skin. (http://www.yogajournal.com/pose/warrior-iii-pose/)

Yoga has a few different versions of warrior pose and I’m sure there are others that I am unaware of.  I’m often asked how many poses there are in the yogic system and to be honest, I just don’t know and I doubt that anyone does either!  It gets even more confusing  if you follow a particular lineage and poses can be named differently dependent on that.  I think it’s important not to get too caught up in whether one particular teacher is right or wrong, rather to ensure you are practicing safely and within your own personal limits.

Benefits Of Warrior III

I love the warrior poses for many reasons but here are just a few of the benefits:

  • Stretches out the leg muscles
  • Brings awareness to and helps open up the hips
  • Strengthens the leg muscles which can help to support & rehabilitate a weak knee (using safe modifications)
  • Works the shoulder joints through varying ranges without load and has a strengthening effect through the shoulder girdle
  • Generates heat in the body even when held in a static position
  • Build it into a slow or fast sequence depending on goals.
  • Works the core muscles of the body much more effectively than any sit-up ever could
  • Improves proprioceptive awareness which means your balance is better
  • Warrior poses can be challenging, satisfying, empowering and energising!

Practicing Warrior III

When practicing warrior III start nice and easily with a chair nearby to help you balance. Stand with the toes of one foot resting on the floor behind you while arms are held up either side of your head.  Gradually tip forward in equal parts so that the arms stay in position.  The torso doesn’t bend forwards so that the spine stays neutral and lengthened.  Once in the pose, ground down into the standing heel and press out through the lifted one.  Careful not to twist the pelvis, instead try to keep it level.

If you can’t tip all the way forward that’s fine, you can start with a mini-tip forward instead with the foot only raised slightly and see how you go with that.  Check out the little video I recorded to help you along.   Please only follow along with this if you are one of my regular students or already have a regular yoga practice.  Please don’t attempt if you currently have any injuries or restrictions.  The best way to learn is always in person with a real life teacher :)

Warrior III Pose Modified With A Chair

Here is a little video I recorded for my students to continue practicing Warrior III at home. For the full article and explanation, please go here https://www.charleyoga.com.au/warrior-iii-pose/Please Note: I don't recommend following this video if you are new to yoga, have never practiced the pose or are injured or restricted. The best & safest way to learn is always through a real life teacher, in person!

Posted by Charleyoga on Sunday, 18 March 2018

Cheat Sheet for Warrior III

Here is a cheat sheet for remembering which warrior is which.  I came up with this when I was learning so  I didn’t forget and feel silly! (Even though I’m always telling you not to worry about looking silly!)

  • Warrior I – Looks like the number one, arms straight up
  • Warrior II – Comes after one (sorry, I got nothing else for this one, just use a process of elimination!)
  • Warrior III – 3 of your 4 limbs are off the ground – see, easy!
  • Humble Warrior – bowing forward humbly
  • Reverse Warrior – tip backwards ie reverse

I hope these little pointers helped you and I look forward to balancing with you again next time!

Charley Hickey




Author: Charley Hickey is a practicing yoga therapist and senior yoga teacher who runs group and private yoga classes in Applecross & Fremantle, Perth.  She also runs specialised yoga workshops for yoga students & yoga teachers.

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Yoga Teacher Mentoring – Why Is It Important?

Charley Teaching @workshop

Yoga teacher mentoring is an essential part of both becoming a yoga teacher and as an ongoing relationship during a yoga teachers life.  I’ve always thought that becoming a yoga teacher is a little like being an apprentice.  It’s the closest thing I can think of to compare it to and financially it’s pretty similar too!

Initially there isn’t any financial reward and teacher training costs money.  What follows is a period of helping out in classes as part of the training where you are learning from someone experienced but still not getting paid.    Upon completion some yoga teachers then seek out work at existing yoga schools which is very competitive.  Others elect to work independently which requires further cost to set up and maintain a client base.  After a few years the teacher may be successful and earning a living.  So, you see, it’s not the easiest path to choose and this is where mentors can help.

A good yoga teacher training is at least 12 months long and includes having a mentor to guide you. The mentor is usually a senior teacher (10 years +) and may provide guidance in a number of ways.  They may allow a teacher trainee to observe or take parts of a class and ask questions.  Real life learning is so important, it really is the best way to learn and we all have to start somewhere!

How Important Is Yoga Teacher Mentoring?

Yoga is such an experiential practice that having a mentor, in my opinion, is essential.  Many questions come up during this initial period of training.  A mentor can be a trusted individual that the yoga teacher can learn from but also confide in.  As many of you already know, yoga is much more than a series of physical exercises.  It’s a  multi dimensional practice affecting every part of our being.  Shifts in awareness of ourselves and the world around us often happen during this time.  The mentoring relationship can be a sounding board for these challenging times.   Having someone to talk to makes adjusting easier.

I’ve been involved in yoga teacher mentoring for many years in Perth.  Mentoring is a two way street and as well as mentoring yoga teachers, I also have mentors of my own that I connect in with regularly.    This helps us be the best yoga teachers that we can be and help each other grow through sharing our collective experiences.

So, on that note, I’m delighted to introduce my newest mentee Michelle! Some of you will have met her already in the Thursday morning class where she will be continuing to attend and start some practicals soon.  Please make her feel welcome and say hi, here is a bit more about the lovely Michelle!

Michelle – Yoga Teacher Trainee

Michelle Shannon Yoga


Hi, I am Michelle and I am feeling excited and very privileged to be doing my practical yoga teacher training at Charleyoga.

I have been teaching various forms of fitness, including body balance and pilates since 2000.  I have also been attending yoga classes, albeit not always regularly since I was a teen.  Like most people what first brought me to the mat was the physical.  However,   over time, I continue to practice not just for the benefits yoga brings to the physical body but for the union of body, mind and spirit.  Yoga is what helped me breathe through 3 childbirths.  It continues to help me now to keep calm and focused in this ever changing world.

I will always be a student of yoga and I look forward to my ongoing yoga education and the journey ahead.  Thank you all in advance for assisting me on my journey ~ Michelle

Charley Hickey



About Charleyoga & Charley Hickey

Author: Charley Hickey C-IAYT is a practicing yoga therapist and senior yoga teacher who runs group and private yoga classes in Applecross, Bateman & Fremantle, Perth.  She also runs specialised yoga workshops for yoga students & yoga teachers.