Top Tips For A Super Relaxed Christmas Season

Feeling stressed just thinking about the Christmas season?  I feel for you and can empathise, that used to be me too.  Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, it can still be stressful! I know several friends that don’t celebrate Christmas for one reason or another and they have the added bonus of fielding questions from well-meaning acquaintances as to why they don’t celebrate it.   Plus the shops are busy, people can be pushy and financially strung out which makes for a stressful environment.  I think it should be a time of rest, reflection and spending time with loved ones.  This is a far cry from my description so far!

I’ve refined my Christmas season into a non-stressful, peaceful and happy family time with plenty of time for relaxation and enjoyment.    Sound good?  I’d love to see less stress and more peace at this time of the year.  I’ve shared some tips and questions below that you can mindfully ponder over a cuppa.  I suggest you write your answers down if you are feeling super proactive and ready to make change.   You might have your own vision to strive for but here’s how I do it.

  1. Prioritise time for myself; don’t cancel your usual self-care appointments. If you usually take a yoga class, go for a massage or catch a movie with a friend, DO IT! This is especially so for physical based activities, all those niggly aches and pains are likely to rear their head again especially if you are stressed out (but I hope you’ll follow these tips and won’t be!).  What will I do for myself?


  1. Buy presents for a select few. If you think about it, are your favourite friends the ones that buy you good Christmas presents?   This won’t leave your bank account drained or have you out shopping multiple times for all the people you forgot!  Even my close family do a “present pool” where we each buy just one gift and randomly pick them out on Christmas day.  Who will I buy a present for?


  1. Accept invitations mindfully. Everyone wants to socialise over this period but I’ve learnt to delay some of this socialising until after Christmas.  People usually understand if you say no, particularly if you explain you’d rather have quality time with them later.   I take the Charleyoga team out to lunch in March/April instead of Christmas time.  What social engagements will I say yes to?


  1. Share the love i.e. preparation. If you have lots of people coming and they ask what to bring, don’t say nothing!  Make a list and get everyone to bring something.  Again it will drain you less both financially and time wise.  What can I ask others to do/bring?


  1. Take a breather. If time is creeping away from you, don’t try to speed up to catch up even though it may be tempting.  Instead, pause and take a long conscious breath in, then let it out slowly, repeat a few times.  Even better, you could practice either of these little sequences I recorded; you don’t even need a yoga mat!  Spine Salute Sequence  and Desk Salute Sequence  How will I take a breather?


  1. Make a list, plan early – all the ideas you now have from these tips, make a list now and start to plan early so you know where you’re at and can slowly chip away at it. I promise you’ll be thanking me when you are sitting down enjoying a cuppa/cocktail/mocktail with your feet up a few days before Christmas basking in the peace and relaxation whilst everyone else rushes around J  What is my vision for a relaxing pre-Christmas moment?

I hope this helps you and have a super relaxed Christmas won’t you!

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.


Sukha And Sthira: A Lesson In Cultivating Stability & Ease In Yoga

Meaning of Sukha And Sthira In Yoga

sukha and sthira in yoga This term in our weekly yoga classes, the theme has been to cultivate both sukha and sthira in our yoga practice.  These Sanskrit words feature in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, a yogic text.  Sutra 2.46 is ‘sthira-sukham asanam’ which is commonly understood as ‘Yoga postures should be stable, and the body be at ease.’  As with all Sanskrit translations, there are many possible meanings to the words.  I actually love this as it gives us licence to interpret it in a way that makes sense to each of us.  Sukha can mean happy, good, joyful, delightful, easy, agreeable, gentle, mild, virtuous or quite literally; good place. Sthira can mean to stand, to be firm, stable, compact, strong, steadfast, static, resolute, and even courageous.

I believe that the way we practice is really what defines whether we are practicing yoga or simply striking a pose (asana).  I love this explanation by Kim Allen from  ‘In yoga, we should resolutely abide in a good space.’ Perhaps this is something to ponder next time we are struggling to pretzel or force the body to go somewhere it really doesn’t want to.  You could equally apply it to what is happening in the mind.  For example if the teacher asks you to close your eyes and that makes you anxious.  You might keep them open in order to maintain the good space for yourself. There are no absolute rules.

Patanjali’s View On Sukha And Sthira

Funnily enough, Patanajali only gives this one reference about poses in the sutras. The poses you practice in class are a relatively modern invention but that’s a whole other BLOG for another time. In this context, I think Patanjali was actually referring to our posture when we meditate anyway. However, I do feel that the practice of the lead up poses creates an ease in the body and allows for extended time in physical stillness.  This means we can shift attention to concerns of the mind which we all know is where the magic happens in yoga.

These two seemingly opposite states are in fact much more closely intertwined then initially realised.  I’ve felt this on a very personal level this term since as I have slowly recovered from abdominal surgery.  Losing strength in my body, regularity in my practice along with losing some courage to practice what I usually do has created a lack of ease too.  They really do balance each other and are juxtaposed in all aspects of yoga.  Here are some examples of how we might consider sukha and sthira in our practice.

Sukha And Sthira In Yoga Practice

Gross Physical

  • Having a balance of poses that naturally encourage sukha or sthira – some to build strength and stability and others to create ease. We could also be aware of the opposite quality too eg. Shavasana may naturally encourage ease & Warrior may naturally encourage sthira
  • Within each pose, being aware of each of the qualities in balance and how that might work eg. In Shavasana the pose itself may be easeful (sukha) but what happens in the mind? This could require cultivation of steadiness and courage to stick at it (sthira)? Warrior may be a strong posture physically (sthira) but require a conscious bringing in of softness to the breath, shoulders & face (sukha), can you feel both?
  • Joints need to have a balance of flexibility (sukha) and strength (sthira) around them in order to function properly so we have good mobility. Mobility is different to flexibility; flexibility is our absolute range of movement whereas mobility is range of movement that is strong and stable. This prevents injury and is very important for our physical practice!

Subtle Energetics

  • Breath (pranayama) should be a balance of these two qualities as well.  We might notice the steady rhythm or even a count (sthira) but keep the breath natural and easy so it doesn’t strain (sukha).  Too much of one or the other and we lose the purpose of the pranayama
  • Our approach to practice has the potential to overemphasise sukha or sthira . Too much ease and being relaxed about practice means we might not do enough or any at all!  Too much resoluteness and strength might mean we do too much, don’t rest or get injured.
  • Meditation – if you’ve ever fallen asleep during meditation, perhaps too much sukha! If you try too hard (sthira) to quieten the mind, that is not going to be useful either.  It might make it harder and then you will lose the ease too.  Oh gosh, so easy to lose the balance here!

This is by no means a definitive list and I’m sure there are many other examples.  These are simply some ideas I’ve asked you to ponder in class this term.   I hope you enjoyed the recap! I look forward to seeing you next term.


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.


References: &

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.



Life Outside The Yoga Room ~ How Do We Cope?

Yoga Charley HickeySo, this year has been an interesting one for me in terms of yoga and life in general.  At times it has been difficult with some tragedy and heartache along the way.  Along with that,  I turned 40 last week.   I didn’t foresee this as being a big deal or life changing. In fact, that would be quite  scary if an imaginary button were somehow flipped!  However, I do feel that over the past couple of years, my focus has changed.  Things that once seemed important have shifted and priorities have changed along the way.

As many of you reading this would know, I take regular breaks from teaching during the school holidays.  For many years it seemed no matter my intentions,  I used some of that time to catch up on work which began to take it’s toll.   Teaching yoga is such a joy but it’s still healthy to take breaks occasionally.   I also have a serious dislike for admin which doesn’t help as being self employed inevitably involves this.  Last year I decided that holidays were for just that, having a holiday from responsibilities as much as I could.  I stuck to it resolutely and wow, what a change!

At the end of last year, we took our family out into a National Park to volunteer for a whole month.  That’s a picture of me sitting by the river enjoying the surroundings.  We often go on shorter trips camping out but this would be a whole month without phone coverage.  It was so fantastic that we are doing it all again this year and even spending Christmas Day there.  If you are down south during the Christmas holidays, we will be in the Warren National Park at Drafty’s Camp in Pemberton from 17 Dec to 17 Jan so feel free to drive in and say hi or stay a night or two camping in this divine spot.   This experience created so much space for me to breathe that I realised life wasn’t as perfect as I’d imagined it was.  The break allowed me an opportunity to assess the year ahead and how I wanted it to look and it’s been pretty close to what I imagined.  Not without hiccups of course but that is to be expected.

Outside The Yoga Room

My yoga practice stretches far from my mat and the yoga room these days and has become a way of life for me.  It is an embodied philosophy that helps me to cope when life runs away and I stupidly try to run to catch up!  Yoga reminds me that I don’t have to run to catch anything.  I’m already here in life, just where I’m meant to be.  It seems so simple yet it’s easy to lose track of in the day to day.  For me, life outside the yoga room is still about practicing, it’s about practicing life!  We are always practicing, just like in the yoga room.  Sometimes things come easily, other times they feel difficult but we practice nonetheless and learn things along the way.

I’m forever grateful for the learning which I thoroughly enjoy sharing with my students who incidentally are also my teachers! My greatest desire is that my students all eventually become their own teachers and really no longer need me.  Seems silly to want to do myself out of a job doesn’t it.   I love hearing all the stories about your holiday yoga practice and how you coped just fine outside of the yoga room  Some of you may have got on your mat or just generally gone about living your yoga whatever that means to you.

I hope you have a wonderful festive season, this is my last BLOG for the year (probably?!) and I’ll see you back on your mats in the new year.  You can view the timetable and term dates for next year here

Take care until then x

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.


Yoga And Insomnia Talk With Charley Hickey C-IAYT

yoga and insomnia Charley HickeyI hope you enjoy watching this talk I did live on Facebook last month.  Hear me chat about yoga and insomnia, my own experiences of insomnia and how yoga helped me.  I also cover some of the current research into yoga and insomnia. There are a few questions that the audience asks towards the end which you can follow in the comments.

Trouble Sleeping?

Have you ever had trouble sleeping? I hear you!  Over half the population suffer from insomnia at some point in their life and that includes me.  At the age of 11 insomnia hit me full force and it was intense! With constant nights spent tossing and turning whilst stressing about the daylight hours fast approaching.  The fatigue, anxiety and fear which accompanies insomnia are all too familiar to me.  It was by pure luck that I discovered meditation and yoga and got myself back on track.  My hope it is that others watching will be inspired to try yoga.  Yoga really has a clever way of bypassing the cycle of fear, anxiety and fatigue that insomnia creates.  I think yoga and insomnia are the perfect partners so have a listen to find out why.

Tune into one of my other talks coming up soon which you can find on my Facebook page.


Charley Hickey





Author: Charley Hickey 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 New Way To Think About Flexibility And Yoga

Yoga And Flexibility

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.

“What will happen if I take a few days off?”  As a small business owner this is the dilemma I’ve mentally tortured myself with many times.

I’m returning to work tomorrow after an unplanned full week off from teaching which prompted me to write this.  (It’s nothing serious so please don’t worry!)

In the past, I used to easily talk myself out of having time off.   In part this was due to my absolute lack of flexibility.   I didn’t want to change things outside of my familiar schedule.  This extended to not wanting to change anyone else’s schedules either, for example the teachers that work for me.  There was also the worry of my students having to have a different teacher.  This lack of flexibility has always caught up with me in the end. Sometimes causing mini-burnouts which I’m sure sound all too familiar to anyone that lives in this century!

More recently, I’ve learnt to ask a newly phrased question instead. “What will happen if I don’t take a few days off?”.  This is a much more sensible and useful question.  It reminds me of times where my body has been sending me clear signals to take time out yet my lack of flexibility has impacted my ability to make a sensible decision.   So often we are giving others advice to slow down and take a rest when needed but it’s much harder to turn that mirror onto ourselves and really see what is needed.

Flexibility And Yoga

It’s my belief that flexibility in yoga is much more about flexibility of mind then flexibility of body.  Being flexible of mind  helps us to get through life shouldering much less stress when things don’t go to plan.  It sounds much like how a regular yoga practice can help us.  The flexibility that you might achieve over time in your physical body through the practice of yoga is great but really just a by-product of yoga rather than one of the goals.

Here is a definition of the word flexible in that physical context:

Flexible (adjective); capable of bending easily without breaking.

However, here is a definition in the context that I believe to be the most relevant in yoga:

Flexible (adjective); ready and able to change so as to adapt to different circumstances

Synonyms –  accommodating, adaptable, amenable, willing to compromise, cooperative, tolerant, forgiving, easy-going.

These words all seem to me like universally useful additions to our personality traits.  Perhaps over time this could allow life to flow along in a  more fluid way thus adding to our overall happiness.   By comparison, being able to touch our toes in terms of physical flexibility seems less meaningful to me in terms of overall well-being and happiness.  Does being able to touch your toes help you and others as much as being flexible and adaptable to changes in your life?

How do you combine flexibility and yoga? Is it more useful to be flexible or flexible?

Charley Hickey




For a hands on learning experience of yoga and flexibility you are welcome to join us for a term of yoga to help improve your “flexibility” whichever way you like!  You can view our timetable here and read more about how we specialise in helping you start your yoga practice especially if you lack flexibility here

What Is Yoga Nidra And Why Should You Practice It?

Yoga Nidra

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.

What is Yoga Nidra?

Yoga Nidra is often referred to as “yogic sleep”.  This can be a little misleading as the idea is not to actually sleep but to enter a state where you can emerge feeling refreshed as you would from sleep.

It’s a much better alternative to taking naps, especially if you are an insomniac (I speak from experience!).  Naps aren’t all bad but if you’re trying to get into a healthy sleep routine then it can be counterproductive to nap during the day when you should be awake.

How to Practice Yoga Nidra

You can use yoga nidra instead and if you’ve ever been to a yoga class, chances are you’ve already practiced it.  Usually you will lie in Shavasana (corpse pose) on your back with the legs extended and arms relaxed by your sides or a supported version if you suffer from pain in a particular area of your body.  Please ask your teacher for guidance on this one.

The teacher will then systematically guide you to different parts of the body one at a time.  You simply bring each part into your awareness as it is mentioned and move onto the next when prompted.  An audio download or cd can be used to practice at home.  The idea is that once confidence is built, guidance is no longer needed and you can practice it on your own.  Yoga nidra induces a relaxed state said to be similar to alpha sleep (stage 1 & 2 of the sleep cycle).

Research & Yoga Nidra

Research has found that Yoga Nidra has been shown to improve stress and anxiety levels and helps in building up the coping ability.  As yoga nidra relaxes the physical as well as the mental stresses, it relaxes the whole central nervous system (Kumar, 2008).  This means that it illicits the relaxation response or parasympathetic nervous system which relaxes the body and aids sleep.

It really is a fantastic practice to learn and master.  It’s a practice I often use myself on those nights where my mind is racing and I’m having trouble quietening it down.


Kumar, K. (2008).  A study on the impact on stress and anxiety through Yoga nidra.  Indian Journal of Traditional Knowledge, 7(3), 401-404.


If you live in the southern suburbs of Perth and are keen to try out some yoga nidra, we often practice in class.  We are located in Applecross, Fremantle & Bateman & you can view our timetable here


Do You Teach Meditation Classes In Perth?

Meditation Class Perth“Do you teach just meditation classes in Perth, seperately to yoga?” ~ We are often asked this question and it always interests me to hear people’s own ideas about what meditation is and how they might expect to learn how to “do it” and what the outcome might be.  Is the goal really about finding inner peace?

There are so many different ways to “meditate” (I put that in inverted commas due to so many different definitions floating around) For anyone that has tried meditating before, it can be anything but peaceful!  Congratulations though, because if you do yoga then you are already meditating!  There you go, how easy was that!

What am I talking about?  Well, many of us have this idea that meditation takes many years to perfect, you have to close your eyes, sit still cross legged,  fight your thoughts, fight looking at the time, fight the pain in your body from sitting so long when you’re not used to it and then spend hours trying to  clear your mind in order to find inner peace – it sounds great, now I see exactly why so many of you want “Meditation Classes”! :)  Seriously though, you can meditate like this if you want to, there are places that you can do that but it’s much easier and kinder to yourself to start with more achievable methods that aren’t such hard work.

There are many ways we meditate during a yoga class, meditation is a part of yoga and isn’t really seperate from it at all.  Noticing sensation in the body is meditating, even whilst we are moving, it simply becomes a moving meditation.  Focusing on the breath, hearing noises consciously, noticing thoughts and emotions and being aware of one’s self – this is ALL MEDITATION – you are meditating through the entire class and then at the end of the moving meditation, we come into a restful position and meditate for another 15 mins which is really just another way of doing it.  Just like anything, it can get easier with practice, but then sometimes it can be hard again, this is not a backwards step at all.   As you slowly cultivate an inner sense of awareness, it means you can notice when things are easy and notice when they are hard too but maintain some equanimity.

I look forward to seeing you at our meditation classes in Perth soon :)

Charley Hickey