Tips on how to sleep well

Sleep deprivation is becoming so much more common which undoubtedly has a negative impact on our health and well-being. So here are a few tips that I am trying to practice to ensure I can sleep well.

1) Meal times – I aim to eat at least 2 to 3 hours before I go to bed, and I drink plenty of water before bed.

2) I try to have a shower before bed or at least wash my face with warm water before going to bed. I am a morning shower person, so more commonly I wash my face with cold to warm water before bed.

3) Sometimes, I light a non-scented candle when I go to bed. It really does help to calm the atmosphere and myself down.

4) I aim to not not touch anything for the last 5 minutes before going to bed. On work days, I set your alarm before getting into bed, keep it aside and go to bed. I do struggle with this the most because I do a lot of planning for the next day on my phone, so I need to get better at doing this. Somedays are better than others, but I am working on it slowly.

5) I set calming alarm tones in comparison to the loud ones. The reason being I want to wake up calmly; as a result, I look forward to waking up the next day knowing that I will start it peacefully. I might try out a mantra or chant.

6) Finally, I wake up with a smile and feel grateful for waking up alive and well.

I practice some of these tips more often than others, so I am working towards slowly incorporating most if not all of it into my night/morning sleep hygiene routine.

If you do practice any of these, let me know what you think. If you have any other tips, please do share!

Love,
Praveena

Lost in thoughts

‘The MIND acts like an enemy for those who do not control it’ ~ The Bhagavad Gita

The power of our mind is just unbelievable. When we can control the negative and feed the positive, we can truly feel empowered mentally and spiritually.
A few years ago, I decided to feed my mind in the form of prayer, good people, memorable experiences and gratefulness.

When you have got that clarity, everything looks that much more beautiful.

Love,
Praveena

Medical School, Dance and everything else

‘Praveena, how do you manage Medical school, dance, blogging and everything else you do?!’

I am not going to give you the cliched ‘Time management’, ‘organisation’, ‘commitment’ talk. That is given in life regardless of what you want to pursue.

I am going to tell you how much I struggled. Honestly it was tough. Society prefers me to do one or the other, but not everything. This is because society does not believe that I can do all of it well.

I wanted to prove society wrong. I think it is completely okay to have a passion for multiple things. I think it is also okay to pursue it simultaneously with the right mindset.

Being a medical student (now doctor!), dancer/choreographer, having a small wedding choreo business and blogging sounds glamorous but it involved a lot of sacrifices at different stages of my life.

To pursue my medical studies, there were moments in my life that I had to stop dancing. To pursue dancing, there were moments when I had to put dance over medicine. When I wanted to establish my business, I had to sacrifice my health and well being and travel more between cities (driving two hours from Birmingham to London and back doesn’t sound as strenuous but imagine doing that nearly every weekend for the past year!). To blog, I had to invest so much more time into reading.

To pursue it all at the same time, I had to sacrifice my social life big time…and I still do. I couldn’t go out as much because I would have to be awake early the next day to drive back to London/Birmingham. I stopped watching TV shows for a whole year, because I genuinely did not have the time. The big reminder is, this is the CHOICE I made. Others may not be like that and that’s completely fine. Just remember to make a choice that is true to what you want.

During each stage of this process there were failures and disappointments I experienced. As a result I was constantly being judged for my choices. By several people, but I put that all to the side because I knew exactly what I was doing. It may have not been the way others may have done it, but that’s okay because I am slowly getting through it.

Sometimes the balance has tipped and I have made mistakes. It was not all as smooth as it looks. My health, my education, my dance career, business, blogging have all suffered at some point or another. Nonetheless, finding the drive to get through and find the light at the end of the tunnel was key.

Moral of the story – be ready to sacrifice. Be ready to commit. Be ready for criticism. Make the choices to pursue what you love. You do not need anyone’s permission except your own to do good. So just do it!

The journey has only just begun. Being a student did make it a lot easier to pursue everything I wanted to and establish a strong foundation for my passions. I will start working in a month and a half. Therefore, work life is going to present to me a whole new set of challenges, so I do not know what is going to happen and how difficult it is going be. That’s the perks of life though right…ready to take on the next set of challenges to further establish my profession, passion and everything else.

What is prayer?

Many of us invest a lot of time into prayer, and many of us do not. That is a personal choice and there is no right or wrong about the need to have to pray. However, a statement in a book I read recently made me think a lot deeper about what prayer actually is:

‘Prayer is about [focusing] less on ourselves and more on others’.

I found this statement very interesting indeed and made me realise the difference between meditation and prayer – both of which I do practice.

Meditation enables me to focus on myself. It is all about me and bringing my energies back to neutral. When I pray, I pray to focus on the world around me and makes me aware of those closest to me.

So does prayer have to be considered a religious practice? Absolutely not. Praying has always been associated with religion and there is nothing wrong with that at all. I do nonetheless believe prayer does not always have to be a religious practice. Our thoughts of well-being for others is a form of prayer isn’t it not?

Prayer I think is a practice for humanity to focus, love and grow.

I pray for love across the world!

Hula Hooper since the day I remember

When I tell people that hula hooping is a way in which I workout aside from dancing, people start laughing.

‘Hula hooping?! Hahah!’

Yes, hula hooping!

Maybe people find it funny because it has always been associated with 6 year old children playing in the playground at school. Therefore it is understandable why they may find it amusing to hear a 24 year old adult hula hooping to keep fit.

This is a short piece explaining the reasons for why I hula hoop so regularly and the benefits I have found:

1. It is super fun! And I mean it. I find going to the gym to work out, or even working out at home an arduous task. Hula hooping however gives me an opportunity to watch a movie whilst my abs are working at their 100% to keep a hula hoop at my waist. It’s so convenient and brilliant because this way I get to catch up on any missed TV shows whilst I am hula hooping – multi-tasking at its finest!

2. It has definitely helped tone my abs. I’m a Sri Lankan Tamil girl which means rice is incorporated into every meal of mine at home. This then predisposes me to developing a ‘rice belly’. By hula hopping regularly, I have been able to keep my abs quite toned and my central control is pretty amazing if I say so myself.

3. For some bizarre reason, hula hooping has greatly helped with my stamina. I never sweat or am out of breath when I hula hoop, but I have realised that when I do spend half an hour to an hour hula hooping everyday, it does improve my stamina quite a bit.

These are all merely my own opinions by the way, and I do not whether or not scientific research has been done into its efficacy.

Ultimately, hula hooping has helped me elevate my mood and therefore I feel so much better in myself.

What defines a successful human being? What defines a good human being?

I believe that these two questions are the biggest ones that we all struggle to understand and answer properly in relation to defining humanity.

Are you the type of person who defines a good human being by:

– their physical appearance (apparently tall, light skinned men and women are good humans);

what other people think of them (if that Aunty next door, who b*tches about everyone for her convenience, thinks they are a prick then they definitely must be one – I mean the number of people who have bad mouthed me…I must be such a terrible human being);

how ‘normal’ they are (do not be too loud nor too quiet – basically force yourself to be a person you are not and you will be considered a good human being at last).

Are you the type of person who defines a successful human being by:

– their degree (according to some small minded individuals, a person is only successful if they have completed a medical, law or engineering degree – any other degree or no degree means you are unsuccessful);

money (the more sleek looking the car or bigger the house, the more successful that person is – which means that I am a complete failure);

talents or social media reputation (followers, subscribers, likes).

If your answers are Yes to any of the above, well carry on reading. If you answered no, well still carry on reading because hopefully you find it an entertaining read regardless.

My answer to these two questions take the form of rhetorical questions.

What defines a successful human being? – Are they happy? In my opinion, success is not about the degree, money or followers. It is about happiness. Some of the happiest people in this world are those who live in small huts in a remote village. Happiness comes from within, falling in love with yourself and accepting yourself for who you really are. Secondly, happiness comes by surrounding yourself with people who push you to become better human beings – ‘better human beings’ does not mean you have to be quiet by the way. Several people think that to be better you need to feel more accepted by the general population. Not at all. You need to strive to find yourself and be you. I started off being restricted by society – I was unhappy. Now I am following what I believe and feel is right, regardless of what other people think – I am happy.

What defines a good human being? The way I like to think of this is by seeing whether an individual makes other people happy. Respect people, empathise with them and understand their situation. There is no need to have to agree with them, but respect their opinion and try to engage in a conversation to unravel their thoughts. You learn a lot about a person just by sitting with them and talking to them about their beliefs. That understanding you show is what makes you one step closer to being a good human being. Understanding I believe is the foundation of all successful relationships. Relationships have crumbled because the two individuals have failed to understand each other – no judgements, no hatred, just love!

So now it is time to evaluate my own life:

Am I happy? YES I am – this means anyone’s negative opinions about my life do not phase me.

Do I make other people happy? Well I hope I do. If I believe I’ve hurt someone, I’ve apologised and moved forward.

That’s all…simple right?! x

Finding Myself

It has been a while since I sat down to write. This is because I have genuinely had little time to sit down and enjoy a cup of tea, let alone read, write or hula hoop! (Yes hula hooping is super important to me).

I have had to juggle a lot over the past 5 to 6 weeks – managing the work load, midwife shifts and on-calls of my Obstetrics and Gynaecology rotation; choreographing for the Kings of Gaana (KoG) dance competition; finding time to choreograph and practice for my first ever dance video shoot in collaboration with another dancer; choreographing and coordinating dance rehearsals for 2 dances for a wedding show (which got cancelled a day before due to unforeseen circumstances – regardless, a lot of time, effort and concentration went into putting those pieces together so I still count it as something).

Long story short, I pushed myself to the limits: mentally, physically and emotionally. Nonetheless, I enjoyed myself. Looking back it was all worth it because I have grown.

There is a really nice quote which says, ‘Push yourself to the edge of your limits. That’s how they expand.’ This defines me very nicely. I do not like settling for a simple life. I like pushing myself to my limits. Just when I think I have done the most I can do, there is more I want to achieve and have the energy to do. I am going to be truthful though, the past 6 weeks have drained me and I will probably need a week or two to unwind and re-energise but that is fine, normal and I do not feel guilty about it.

I wanted to use this time to get back on track with my reading, writing and hula hooping, so that’s exactly what I am doing. I am currently sat on my bed, in my mismatching pyjamas with a nice warm cup of tea writing what you are reading. Life is bliss.

Now that I have summarised my life over the past 5-6 weeks, it is time to bring my mind back on track as to what got me to write again today. Well since KoG came to an end, I have had a lot of time to think about what made me fall in love with dance. I have had a lot of time to think about why I love performing. Honestly, I have not always been so in love with performing. I used to be so lazy and Tamil politics at dance class made me fed up of performing. Things, however, started to change halfway through university and it was because of Bhangra.

‘Oh here she goes again…this girl has nothing better to talk about than Bhangra!?’ Trust me I know this is exactly what you are thinking now. My family and friends think the same as well – they do not have to say it, I can just gage.

For the outside world, Bhangra is something I have done for 3 years – all fun and games, what is so emotionally engaging about that?

Well, let me set things straight, Bhangra is something which I started 5 years ago. Long story short, I got onto the Bhangra team in my first year of university but fractured my foot which meant I could not dance on the team. This fracture however stopped me from dancing at all for a whole year. I became very anxious about restarting dance because of the fear that I may injure myself again. In my 3rd year of university I decided to audition for the Bhangra team again. The reasons I have never properly discussed with anyone. Well here goes…

I was in an emotionally dark place in 3rd year. I felt useless and I felt like I was not achieving much in life. Studying medicine at university was clearly not enough for me (you may call me greedy – but I would like to call myself constantly hungry for opportunities). I needed more. I wanted to be defined for more of my hard work and achievements. I wanted a build a name for myself. I was so conflicted emotionally, during which I made the sudden decision of auditioning for the Bhangra team again. I did not tell anyone at the time I auditioned, not my family nor my friends. I made this decision for myself and acted upon it. I literally walked into those auditions in my placement trousers and top (shows how clearly I had planned this out!). At the point I auditioned, I had not done Bhangra since I fractured my foot, which had been 2 years at the time. Somehow my rusty Bhangra moves got me onto the team and ever since I have not looked back.

It’s a very simple message that I am trying to convey here guys. I am emotionally attached to Bhangra. Every time I hear Punjabi music, my heart warms up. Whenever I am at a Tamil party, and the DJ plays that one-off Punjabi tune I feel like my true self comes out. Why? It is not because I am an undercover Punjabi (although many think I am). It is because Bhangra made me fall in love with dance again, and made me fall in love with myself once and for all. Bhangra helped me get out the emotionally dark place I was in and gave me the confidence to pursue whatever I dreamed off. I learned to stand on my own two feet and most importantly I discovered my ability to push my limits in all realms of life.

Thanks to Bhangra, I have learned to not settle. I want to build a name for myself which is defined by my hard work and drive to go further in life.

Music has no language

Those who know me will be aware that I am a massive fan of Indian music, whether it be Tamil, Telugu, Hindi, Malayalam, or Punjabi, to name a few. Those who know me very well will know that AR Rahman is my favourite music director to date.

I was born in a decade when AR Rahman’s music was (and still is to be honest) reigning the Indian music charts – I was born in 1993, if anyone was curious.

Growing up as a toddler listening to songs from Duet, Jeans, Love Birds and Muthu for example, had a massive influence on shaping my taste in music. Growing up being exposed to multiple cultures and languages at school, and appreciating AR Rahman’s top notch work regardless of which state or country he produced for, made me appreciate music from different cultures that much more.

I am saying all of this because the AR Rahman concert which happened in July, in London, caused a lot of tension amongst the audience, and especially the non-Tamil audience, because apparently not enough Hindi songs were played. I was not present at the concert in July because of other commitments, so I am just stating what I heard and saw across social media.

What I wanted to discuss in this blog, however, was the fact that recently AR Rahman announced the dates for his concert in Canada in October. What I found shocking was that he will be hosting two separate concerts, one for Hindi music and another for Hindi music.

We can take this positively. AR Rahman has created so much music in both languages and it can be difficult to cover the best of both in one concert; so this separation might be good. However I see more issues than positives here.
Before you start thinking why I am writing about this, I realised there being an issue when I saw the responses on social media in response to this announcement of two concerts.

The one quality about AR Rahman is that he has been able to create music and touch the hearts of several cultural groups. To have all those cultural groups under one roof in the name of music is what music should be about. Creating a divide between Tamil and Hindi music puts several people in limbo: what about Tamils who enjoy his Hindi music and want to hear that, or vice versa? What about people from other cultural groups who love AR Rahman for both his Tamil and Hindi music and wanted to hear both (and seriously what are the chances that such individuals will buy tickets for both days)? Basically, by getting such individuals to choose between Tamil and Hindi, more of a rift is being created. Is this something that real music-lovers would want?

No one knows the reasons behind why such a decision was taken. If in the slightest, however, AR Rahman’s Netru Indru Naalai concert in London had a role to play in this separation, then we all should be worried. Why? Because we should be working towards breaking down cultural boundaries and inter-cultural barriers. Just when I thought we were taking a step in the right direction, we are taking two steps backwards.

‘Fake’

So I am one of the wider global Tamil fraternity who watches the new Bigg Boss Tamil. There have been mixed reviews about the whole show, but I am not here to provide my review on it. All I am going to say is that I very much enjoy watching the show, and it is another great platform through which I can analyse human behaviour.

This post is about one constantly spoken concept by the participants of the show – being ‘fake’. Everyone seems to claim that everyone is ‘fake’ on the show. This made me think deeper about what ‘fake’ actually means, and when we can actually call one ‘fake’.

There is a general consensus that being ‘fake’ means that one is not being genuine, which I agree with. What I do not agree with is to call someone fake without having real knowledge of how they are in person.

This term is a very negative one which really has the ability to bring one’s confidence down. To therefore constantly use it to describe someone is horrible. However, what I find most shocking is that the participants are so easy to judge another and easily disregard another’s whole personality as being ‘fake’ just because they do not conform with what they believe is right or with the people they are used to interacting with.

I believe that calling someone ‘fake’ is harsh, but it is especially so when you hardly know the person. How can you call someone ‘fake’ when you do not know them well? One needs to accept that individuals act differently with different people. No one person has the same relationship with two people. Therefore I believe it is wrong to completely disregard their personality using one very pathetic word.

No one is perfect, so instead of hammering an individual down for it, help them to the best of your ability to grow and improve themselves rather than impose labels on them.

‘I am not be perfect but at least I am not fake’ – Thought for the day!

The Challenges of Instagram

Those of you who know me well will know that I do love sharing key moments of my life, and particularly on Instagram – I have done so for several years now.

I have had a private instagram account for just over 4 years now – @praveena_pranavarooban. I call this account my private account because:

1) I follow and am followed by people I know very well and on a personal level – friends, cousins, etc.

2) I post more personal aspects of my life on that profile – my parents, my extended family, my relationship, my social life, etc.

So now I wanted to discuss the purpose of my public account and how the aims of it changed overtime:

Initial aims of my public profile and PraveenaUK:

• Strictly for dance – to show that I am a dancer and wanted a platform to share my love for dance – whether it be through photos or videos
• Should post nothing aside from my solo stuff and achievements
• Dance covers
• No family
• No friends
• No relationships
• Nothing about any other people around me

Aims of my public profile and PraveenaUK:

• Motivate
• Inspire
• Business profile – a medium through which people can enquire and book for wedding choreography
• Showcase shades of my personal day to day life by sharing stuff about me – what I am up to; my love for reading, books, sarees; the positive people around me – my dance teams, friends I made through dance, some of my closest friends, my work/business teams, my sister
• A dance and personal portfolio
• Still will protect my parents because they are not used to the impact of being in the public eye and they are not a massive fan of it, which I completely respect – so no parents and extended family members (unless they are dancers)
• No relationships

I met up with a friend of mine recently, and she asked me what the reasoning behind this gradual change in the nature my posts on my public account was. She had noticed that it was becoming more personal now and asked me what the reason behind this was.

[I am very glad to be surrounded by people who question my every action. Such friends make me think, push me, keep me grounded and help me stay focused].

So back to her question. The reason my public account has started to become a little more personal is because I believe that people are now aware that I am a dancer. There is no need for me to keep showcasing that I am. Now it is time people get to see the person behind ‘Praveena UK’.

I like posting about my team members now (whether it be dance or business), because they are individuals who have taught me so much about dance, and how to conduct myself as a dancer and choreographer. They are a family whom I feel blessed to have gained.

I am in the process now of creating a correct balance between showcasing my professional and personal life. I am certainly more focused on giving more importance to my professional life than personal, but I do not want people to neglect the fact that I am human. I do have a personal life and in the correct doses, it will add a lot of value to my professional brand.

Every person who I share on my public profile are people who have contributed to shaping me as a dancer, choreographer, blogger and the human being that I am today.