Grace x Strength Launch | A Dream Come True

It’s Day 2 of launching Grace x Strength @gracexstrength with soul sister Alyssa Mak. I’m flooded with emotions – exhilaration, fear, vulnerable, gratitude, proud, humbled, delirium, happy…..

Some of you will have walked this journey with me so closely that you probably sensed this brewing for a while. However, unlike my other business ventures, this one has no targets to meet, no go-to-market strategy, no 3-year financial goals. There wasn’t even a set launch date! Everything just came together organically and calmly. It’s so counter-what-I’m-used-to! It’s entering total uncharted territory. And I call this a true leap of FAITH.

True to what this brand stands for, it’s an experience of grace and strength for me too! Et voilà!

Grace x Strength [#GxS] invites you into community to experience exactly that [GxS] through yoga and soul care programs. What does that look like? Maybe short yoga 🧘🏻‍♀️tips on Instagram, maybe more workshops, maybe classes, maybe retreats, maybe online classes… I say “Maybe” because we do whatever God calls us to and go wherever He takes us.

This a new exciting chapter of my life. Thank You for reading to the end and allowing me to share my craziness with you. Some of you will agree with this thing. Some of you will think I’m cray… but hey, life is journey! And I’m just thankful for your encouragement in pursuing my dream and calling. 😃 .

Mini Yoga Learnings | WIP

WIP – Work-In-Progress

Working on improvement but that's what life is, right? A work in progress.

Earlier this week, I had the most relaxing and positive start. God spoke Hebrews 12 over me and at that point, I thought I knew what He meant. Then a series of events turned the emotional needle the opposite direction. Now I ponder over Hebrews 12 and have a more profound perspective. Just when you think you know… What can I say? Life is a constant WIP. Yoga is a great reminder of that.

“Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father?” ~ Hebrews‬ ‭12:7‬ ‭NIV

Keeping Warm with Chair Yoga | Wesley Mission

“If I’m still going to yoga classes at 81 years of age, know that it was you Heroes who inspired me.”

Our most dedicated students are not those who can do the headstands and splits. In fact, they’re the ones who show up with a smile every week, even if their arthritis is flaring up, even if it means catching the bus in in 5degrees cold and nursing a frozen shoulder, a bunked knee, a toe injury, a sore back… you name it, we’ve heard it from this community of elderly. 

Teaching yoga and bringing the Gospel to this community of seniors is not about how “good” you can be. It’s learning about grace and courage. To others and to yourself.

To us, this is the richest reward. This warms our heart, mind, soul and body.

Oh how much we love you brave souls and learn from you. 

And of course, thank you always, Wesley Mission for providing us this safe space to serve, to share our stories and to grow. 
Serving in His name ✝️


​​

New Year Announcement | 2017 Classes

DEAREST STUDENTS,

Happy New Year to you all!  May God bless you all with another year of good health, joy and steady growth in your life.
HERE’S A LITTLE UPDATE FROM ME AND ABOUT YOUR YOGA CLASSES

Year 2016 was a year of travelling, growth, spiritual development and learning for me.  I have the greatest pleasure and honour to be serving in this ministry (founded in the US) and helping them build their foundations in this region.   Meanwhile, with the support of my gracious students, YOU, I have been able to enjoy a year of teaching yoga, spreading love, serving God and doing what I LOVE to do.   I also completed my 12 month yoga therapy training mid-last year, which was a huge achievement for me.  All of these blessings, I am so grateful for.

As some of you may know, I have been praying and listening to what my 2017 path looks like for ministry, yoga and for my work.  Every day, I wake up and remind myself that discernment is a conscious choice to just ‘let things be’ the way God wants it to be.  So, I’m not trying too hard, with my own effort, to achieve things.  Still a struggle for my ‘hustling’ personality, but I find peace and comfort in choosing to relax and let things roll in faith.   My prayer is that Holy Yoga classes have had that impact on you too, somehow!

  1. As far as ministry is concerned, I will continue to serve in Holy Yoga as their Regional Leader in Australia.  This means you will continue to see me actively in outreach activities seeking new instructors for the ministry and helping them grow.
  2. As for my business which I had taken a year off (2016) to focus on ministry and yoga,  I have been called to return to my Digital Marketing role this year with flexible hours.  I’m thankful that the business has yet again grown with God’s provision and that my expertise is still somewhat relevant enough that they need me back! 😛
  3. So what about yoga?  I’ve really enjoyed teaching community classes of varying levels of students last year but with the work and family commitments, I will no longer be able to offer community classes in year 2017.  

This year, I would love to continue working with students privately with a focus on yoga therapy benefits for physical wellbeing.  As we all know the mind, body and soul is one.  Last year was a year of soulful fitness and now that you’ve learnt a few tools on keeping that well, Iwould like to dedicate 2017 to BODY.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR YOU?

  1. You will need to schedule classes with me individually or as a private group.  Community classes are no longer available.
  2. The price per person will vary, dependant on the number of students in a class, location and other factors.
  3. Unfortunately, this means that $10 class passes are no longer available.  For those who have unused classes, please contact me for a refund.
  4. For those of you who won’t be able to continue classes with me, thank you for your grace and support.  I will miss you!  I hope you continue your practice and grow in faith with Jesus.  Remember that I’m only a ‘text me’ away.  So reach out if you have any yoga questions.
“May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed.”
~Psalm 20:4


Blessings with Love,
Jo xx

Yoga for Asthma | Yoga Therapy

largespacer

Image: The Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne – www.rch.org.au

I’m not asthmatic but this topic interests me because my elder son is.  My son loves his cardio and team sports.  He plays tennis. He’s an avid soccer player and swims.  He also loves to dance and practices Karate, too.  It’s heartbreaking to see his performance being limited by his asthma, especially in his younger years.  He is now 7 and the asthmas seems to have progressively improved but during the winter months, especially during his sleep, the coughing spells occasionally makes their way back.  Yoga isn’t something that my son likes to do at this point in his life but I’m certainly hoping to help his asthma by encouraging him to do 10-15 minutes of a tailored program like this in the coming season, especially as we enter into winter.  I hope this piece is interesting and helpful to you.  Feel free to leave me comments.

SPECIFIC ISSUE

Asthma is a chronic lung dysfunction where the sufferer will experience difficulty in breathing resulting from the airways narrowing and swelling/inflammed, with more mucus.  People with asthma experience periods of ‘flare-ups’, which  brings on symptoms such as wheezing, coughing, difficulty in breathing and chest tightness.
There are various triggers for asthma flare-ups that range from slow development to the more acute, sudden onset of an asthma attack. The lung likes warm, moist and clean air so when one of these 3 components are disturbed is commonly when it triggers an asthma attack, such as cold air, exposure to allergen in the air (tobacco, pets, dust).  Things that put pressure on the respiratory system can also trigger an attack, such as a cold or even exercise.

Research is inconclusive of the exact causes of asthma but shows family history, eczema, hay fever sufferers and babies exposed to tobacco smoke have a higher risk of developing or having asthma.

THE BENEFITS OF YOGA FOR THIS ISSUE (SYMPTOM CONTROL)

There are various pieces of research carried out on the benefits of yoga, with some showing beneficial and others being inclusive.  One 8-week study of 57 adult asthmatics revealed that those who did yoga showed a significant improvement in lung function and reduction in asthma symptoms than those who did not do yoga in the control group^.  However, another recent study published by Annals of Allergy* http://www.annallergy.org/article/S1081-1206(14)00198-7/abstract concludes that yoga can only be considered ‘ancillary intervention’ or alternative therapy and not ‘routine intervention’.  More importantly,  yoga was not associated with adverse effects.
Both studies, though, are congruent to GxS Yoga Therapy’s principles in that it is not ‘medical invention’ but a complementary program with the aim of relieving symptoms.

For the purposes of this project, we look into yoga therapy as a form of gentle exercise for asthmatics in light of the fact that more strenuous physical activity may bring on asthma attacks.  Breath work techniques can help asthma sufferers learn to cope with episodes of attack.

CONTRAINDICATIONS

1. When having respiratory system inflammations of any sort, e.g. bronchitis, cold, pneumonia, nasal congestion
2. Avoid poses which require ‘flexion’ of the torso and ‘closing in’ of the chest such as Boat pose, Head to Knee, Plow Pose and Seated Forward Fold.

3. Avoid long, deep breathing or ‘ujayi’ breath if new to yoga and at the beginning of the practise.  Let the body ease into deep breathing if comfortable.

15-30 MINUTE FLOW

In all poses, try to breathe in AND OUT through the nose to retain heat in the body.  By doing so, it promotes correct diaphragm behaviour and persisting can often clear a chronic blocked nose.
1. Easy Seated -> Relaxed and even belly breathing (2 minutes)
2. Butterfly Pose -> Relaxed and even belly breathing for (2 minutes)
3. Seated Twist
4. Staff Pose
5. Sage Pose
6. Bridge Pose/Fish Pose
7. Knees to chest
8. Bow Pose/Cobra Pose
9. Extended Childs Pose
10. Downward Dog
11. Hero Pose

12. Corpse pose

SOURCES & RESEARCH

  1. ^http://www.everydayhealth.com/asthma-pictures/great-yoga-poses-for-asthma-relief.aspx
  2. http://www.artofliving.org/yoga/health-and-wellness/Overpowering-asthma-with-yoga
  3. http://www.yogajournal.com/article/health/asthma-answers/
  4. http://www.thehealthsite.com/diseases-conditions/top-8-yoga-asanas-to-beat-asthma/
  5. http://www.medicaldaily.com/yoga-doesnt-help-asthma-sufferers-control-their-breathing-any-better-other-breathing-exercises
  6. https://www.asthmaaustralia.org.au/national/about-asthma/what-is-asthma
  7. http://www.aihw.gov.au/asthma/what-is-asthma/
  8. http://www.yogajournal.com/category/poses/contraindications-modifications/asthma-contraindications-modifications/
  9. *http://www.annallergy.org/article/S1081-1206(14)00198-7/abstract

*Disclaimer:
These suggestions offered in the Grace x Strength With LoveJosephine yoga classes or therapy programs on www.lovejosephine.com are not intended to replace medical recommendations by your medical practitioners. It is highly recommended and, in most cases, essential that you stay compliant to the treatment advice given by a western medical professional.The suggestions and educational resource offered by Grace x Strength With LoveJosephine on www.lovejosephine.com are meant to be observed and used in conjunction with medical treatment. Neither the therapy programs nor yoga classes are designed nor recommended to replace medical treatment.

The resources offered here are intended to complement and support the medical treatment targeting the specified issue, with the goal of enhancing the well-being of the patient.

Teaching Yoga at Wesley Mission | God’s calling

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” ~ Matthew 7:7 (NIV)

Since the day I embarked on my Holy Yoga journey, it was my dream to be able to teach at my home church, Wesley Mission.  Wesley Mission, as a Christian organisation part of the Uniting Church , is huge.  I wouldn’t say it’s a ‘mega church’ per se.  But it is a very large Christian organisation with various operations to help the wellbeing of community.

I’ve been hesitant to introduce this to my own congregation because I’ve been wanting to build up some traction to demonstrate to myself and my church that is a discerned calling and blessing from God.  So, I’ve been running this ministry for a little while now.

Throughout this ministry’s foundational building, I’ve learnt to be patient, obedient and faithful in everything I do.  Yes, extending to other areas in my life.  It has been THE most fulfilling part of building this ministry for me.  My personal spiritual growth.

As of my new year’s resolution, I was still uncertain as to whether this year is the year I focus and dedicated my 100% (of what’s left after being a full time mum) to this ministry.  For that to be remotely feasible, I would have to also quit my digital marketing business responsibilities.

After much prayer and consultation with family, I hear God calling to charge ahead with my 100% dedication.

I was challenged as to whether I should go and find a yoga teacher job as part of this journey.  But I decided to look around anyways.

***

One Saturday night, as I was about to google ‘Yoga Instructor jobs’, I decided I would pray and ask God to give me the wisdom and His intervention in this. Then, I proceeded.

On the top of Google’s results, it showed ‘Yoga Teacher Tutor/Volunteer Job – Advertiser: Wesley School’.  At that point, I didn’t think much of the school but when I clicked into the ad and it revealed its email address to be ‘schoolforseniors@wesleymission.org.au’, you can imagine how my jaw dropped.  Like, just dropped…..

Do you believe in God?  Do you believe He speaks to you?

***

Within 2 days, I scored an interview.  2 days later, I taught my first class of 45+ students of lovely seniors.

12642693_222631558080035_8821365688818251666_n

I’m now going to prepare my 2nd class.

God, thank you for your blessings and guidance.  Continue to grow me in the way You plan to.

 

Holy Yoga International | Calling Christian Yoga Teachers in Asia

Are you a Christian who loves yoga and living in Asia? We would love to hear from you!

It was my pleasure and honour to bring a taste of Holy Yoga to Hong Kong and Taiwan. Firstly, through the use of blessed technology (Instagram), I was able to reach quite a few who were interested in a Christian Yoga practise, or Holy Yoga.

I have heard from those in Singapore asking for a Christian Yoga practise. On that front, I am praying we will have a Holy Yoga instructor there soon.

Hong Kong is certainly a place needing Holy Yoga instructors.  Unfortunately, this trip was not long enough for to me to hold some regular classes. But judging from the interest, I trust there will be some to answer God’s calling to become HoYo certified.

Thank you, Lord, for using me as a vessel. May HoYo continue to grow in You, under Your power and Your will.

For those who are interested in Chinese yoga, teaching Christian yoga in Asia, please contact us!

 

 

HoYo Is More Than The Yoga | Crispy Prawn Dumplings

This is what we all love about HoYo. So far, we have had students come to class sharing not just our love of yoga and testimonies but sharing things like home-grown Rosemary herbs and today, sharing home-made Cantonese delicacies! There’s so much love in sharing. Thank you for your dim sum today, Dora!
God blesses us!

  

Quitting Impression Management

 Today is day 2 of the #PrepareOurHeartsForAdvent Holy Yoga devotional.  See me #crescentlunge forward on my plight on this beautiful #HolyYoga journey.

It is also day 1 of my Bible reading plan on “Addicted To Busy: Recovery For The Rushed Soul” and the title is “Impression Management”.  How apt.

“For everything in the world – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the of pride of life – comes not from the Father but from the world.” ~1 John 2: 16 (NIV)

For my friends who know me well, I have declared November as my ‘Social Sabbatical’.  Some of my friends raise their eyebrows in disbelief, some with concern (as if I’ve gone crazy!), some perplexed, some in mockery and a rare few who have supported and encouraged me with no judgement.  It’s a funny exercise as I understand more about myself and of those truly understand me.  It’s not a judgement of my friends but an assessment of a phenomenon.  Either ways I am thankful to all my friends, laughing or empathising.

So, why this ‘Social Sabbatical’?

  1. Firstly, God knows I need rest and honour this temple [body] that God blesses me with. I talk about this a lot in my HoYo classes but frankly, I don’t practise it enough.
  2. Secondly, as any mum would know, life as a mother of two just gets more demanding with real responsibilities that is beyond just pleasing myself.
  3. Thirdly, the closer I have become to the Word, the more I have realised that I need to invest into living it out.  And that includes carving time out for it.  To read the Bible and spend time with the Lord.  Simple as that.
  4. I wanted to experiment what it would be like to be able to have time to and for myself and if anything disastrous was going to happen if I didn’t fill up my calendar from 8am -8pm.
  5. Lastly, I wanted to ‘prepare my heart for Christmas’; to create mindspace to soak in, muse over and digest the importance of the birthday of our Saviour.

I am now almost two thirds into my Social Sabbatical.  What have I learnt?

  1.  Not all friends appreciate it, nor understand it.  That’s ok..I had to push past people’s judgement and learnt to accept that I am here to please God, not man.
  2. For someone so extroverted as I am, it’s almost impossible to have a true “Social Sabbatical”.  Realistically, just keeping my weekdays free is a good start!  Don’t be too ambitious.
  3. I am a self-diagnosed sufferer of “Impression Management.”  I’ve realised that I have a tendency and habit of making myself busy for the sake of making life appear productive, both to myself and to the world.  If I have to be true to myself, it is Impression Management.  Surely, if my schedule is packed from 8am – 8pm, I’m going to start to sound like Sheryl Sandberg, right?  ….Right?? ..  How I measure my self worth hasn’t really been rooted in Christ.  I have been conforming with the worldly views of modern feminism. It is a confronting issue for me but I am facing it, even as I type now.  I don’t know how I can resolve this issue immediately but I know that this Sabbatical is a good start.
  4. Indeed, no one dies and nothing disastrous happens when I don’t fill up my calendar with a ‘To-do’ in every single minute. In fact, the more I surrender and let God guide my daily tasks, the more effective I become with prioritisation of key tasks.
  5. The Word stays True to itself.  Indeed, the more I invest into it, the more peace and joy I get.  Nothing has been more rewarding than taking the time to meditate, slow down, and focus on Jesus.  When you invest time in a relationship, the relationship flourishes.  It’s funny how God has made us this way and we totally get it when it comes to human relationships yet it’s a hard concept to understand when it comes to a relationship with our King.  Funny, huh?

So far, I can say that the re-investment of finding time to ‘breathe’ and ‘being still’ have been the most rewarding.  I hear God.  I feel the Holy Spirit. I enjoy my prayer time.

“Rather, it should be that of the inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” ~1 Peter 3:4 (NIV)

Today, I will start letting go of my addiction to ‘Impression Management‘.  I need to stop being a slave to ‘busyness’.  It’s ok if I’m a ‘free’ person.  Indeed, I am free in Christ.  Now THIS is truly preparing my heart for advent.

 

Ministry Work in Dangerous Territory | No, Not Syria 

I awoke on Monday morning feeling a little raw and disheveled from the ‘disorganised’ class on Sunday. I found it hard to shake it off and trust that all was God’s plan.  Of course I found it hard to trust; because I was ministering in dangerous territory. And I don’t mean Syria. This dangerous zone is situated somewhere called our ‘self pride’. That is where there is no place to be ministering the Word; when I allow my self-pride and glory to take over the reasons I minister (teach Christian yoga).

There’s often a misunderstanding that we, preachers, are seasoned in our sacrifices and that we are naturally gifted with ‘bearing the cross’. The truth is that most of us struggle with the temptations of the flesh and the world, too.  We are all created equal. 

Sometimes, when I get moments like this, it’s easy for me to forget why I do it and it’s hard for me to remember to do it for the reasons I do. But I am so thankful to lean back on God’s grace and it is a constant reminder.  A forever ‘work in progress’ here on earth.  

 By His grace, yesterday’s class was not only filled with new students, it was full of the Holy Spirit.  And that’s all I need…. 

Today, I open my ministries Facebook page to see this. Amen.. Amen…

“I always say to young fellows who consult me about the ministry, “Don’t be a minister if you can help it,” because if the man can help it, God never called him. But if he cannot help it, and he must preach or die, then he is the man.” [C.H. Spurgeon]. We cannot do ministry for our own selfish gain. If we did then we would have the ability to easily walk away when something else arose. When HE has done the calling, you will be ruined for anything other than His way.