The Green Life with Jane Kersel, yoga teacher extraordinaire
by Clare Ward,
Jane Kersel is one of the UK's leading authorities on integrative wellbeing, specialising in energy work combined with intuitive coaching. She draws on a unique blend of holistic modalities, including: yoga (kundalini, tantra, vinyasa, yin); meditation; creative movement; hypnotherapy; spiritual psychology and natural nutrition. We are honoured to have her thoughts on being well and living a balanced life.
How do you view the connection between mind, body and spirit?
As one continual integrated loop.
It's a great shame, living in the western world we are taught that our mind is in our heads so already we see the body as separate from the mind, the spirit somewhere else. It gives the impression that we are linear with two points of reference on that line - the beginning and the end. So we think life is about duality: forward/back, past/future, black/white, yes/no, up/down, happy/sad, in/out, for/against. It's such a narrow minded, contracted way of living life. No wonder there is conflict in ourselves and not surprising there is therefore conflict and wars outside of ourselves.
Imagine instead that everything is concentric. The past is one of the spirals circling you, the future another. The mind is in the body, the body is in the mind.
Has your yoga practice changed over time? How?
Yes fully. I never 'got' yoga when i was in my 20s. I was really flexible so could twist into any pretzel shape required with ease and wondered why the big deal with it. I never understood the point of it. Meditation even lying down to relax at the end was something I ran from. I felt then life needed to be a million miles an hour or I'd miss something. Now I realise in that speed I was missing everything - it was like being on a fast speed train and never stopping once at a station. Life moved through me or around me like a blur.
How do you encourage your clients to fit yoga into their busy schedules?
I don't ;)
In that style, their to-do list just gets longer and they have something else to beat themselves up about if that doesn't get done too. Why feed the perfectionist inner demon; it gets enough food elsewhere.
What does your daily diet and exercise routine look like?
Well firstly, I really hate exercise. I like simplicity and letting the body move in a more playful way.
Diet is a word I don't like. I've never dieted in my life. When you focus your mind on diet then it becomes rigid and the focus is only on food. Learn to be in your body and you will naturally gravitate towards - and crave even - healthy food that has a high vibrational content.
How do you stay grounded despite the frantic pace of living in London?
That is extremely hard. You need the earth - you need to feel it, touch it, breathe it, smell it to stay grounded and in your body. I'm very lucky I purposely live on a communal garden. I have always sought a place to live near or on a park. If you live in a flat or work in a high rise building you are going to be so much living in your head that you need to put house plants around you, try to walk barefoot on grass at least once a week (that grounds you) or sleep on a grounding sheet. Learn to unplug your computer from the mains whilst you work on it at the very least. Drink one of your green juices everyday. You can never have enough green!
How can a complete beginner benefit from meditation?
I don't like the word meditation much. It's much overrated and made too 'special' for my taste - a bit like the yoga world. None of this is rocket science yet we live in a world of wanting to make things special and different. We all meditate to a degree. Sometimes you can feel that state of a calm, expanded mind when you're watching a beautiful sunset, making love beautifully and tenderly, stroking a cat, riding a horse, going for a run. It's that state where you are aware of your mind and you know that you're not your mind. You know we have about 20,000 thoughts a day - most of them the same thoughts we had yesterday and will have tomorrow. Meditation or stilling yourself so you are able to witness that onslaught of thought is the first stage of meditation. The second stage is giving the mind a particular thing to focus on - a mantra (set of words), a candle flame, your breath - anything that keeps you steady and encourages your mind not to wander. These simple practices help quieten the mind and in turn quieten the nervous system and the adrenals.
What are your top 3 tips to de-stress the mind and body?
1. If you're feeling really stressed write down your thoughts or anxieties and see them for the 'madness' at times that they are. See what you can action and do and see those that are constant niggles. Maybe there are some things on that list that you cannot control.
2. Learn to know what you can control and what you can't. For example if you're having trouble in a relationship the only person you can change or account for is yourself. So let go of pushing out and focus inwards. What is my part in this? What is my vulnerability? Why do I react so strongly when X does Y? Once you get an insight into yourself then the next part is to choose whether you need to speak to that person. Then you get to speak/live your truth and allow the other person to meet you where they are at. So the stress gets diffused and not said from an attacking/judgmental part of us.
3. Lie down flat on the floor on your back - wherever you are - it really doesn't matter - close your eyes, put your hands on your belly and breathe five long deep breaths into your tummy. Each exhale let out a long deep sigh with open lips. At the very least you will have raised a smile for everyone else around you and you will definately feel better.
Which are your favourite products in your bathroom cabinet?
I love sesame oill. The ancient yogis used to use it to keep their skin supple and muscles relaxed. It warms the body and skin and is very comforting to the nervous system. I massage it all over me before I have a bath or shower - London water is brutal. This helps to keep you hydrated and loved up.
What are your must-haves for staying healthy when travelling?
It's a real challenge to find the balance of staying healthy whilst travelling. Sometimes you can stay at the most luxurious hotel in the world but the food will be overly rich, wheat laden and dairy full - none of which makes me feel good and vibrant or sleep well.
1. A fresh green juice at least once a day and breakfast made of quinoa and avocado. I stayed at Amankila in Bali this year and had everyone on green juice by the time I left and quinoa was a firm fixture on the menu.
2. An enema bag - another great way to feel grounded is doing a coffee enaema when you arrive - it relieves the pressure on the liver and digestive system.
3. A good pillow - sometimes I take my own or just use a rolled up towel under my neck instead.
Who do you look to for inspiration?
I like people who don't follow the norm because they 'should'. People who've really looked and felt into something and said 'yes this works for me/this doesn't'. Living from a place of true heart and mind alignment.
There's a difference for me, between those who are prepared to stand out from the crowd and not mind being different and those who purposely do things to be seen as different - that's too tied up in ego and specialness for me. I enjoy people who are just getting on with their lives and not making a big deal out of any of this stuff. I've only ever studied or learnt my craft from folk who truly walk their talk, who are vibrantly healthy from the inside out, who have gone to the places that scare them in their hearts and minds and can speak from there, folk who are conscious - who realise the impact their actions/words/deeds may have on another, on the planet and choose to walk in the world lightly, kindly and generate love and tenderness around them.