Category Archives: Yoga Essentials

Breathing through what Life throws

When life throws things at you, what do you do? Do you relax into the drama or resist, knowing this only makes it worse?

The choice doesn’t always seem like a choice, but it is. My first reaction used to be resistance. I would freak out, scream, cry, or panic. I’ve even been guilty of throwing a plate of food across the room. But now, I’ve learned to hit my mat. When I bring myself to my mat I can hear my breath and feel my body, and automatically my mind slows and I feel a swecropPhoto.phpet release. For me when stuff happens, this is how I’ve learned to cope. My old way to react – shutting down or just holding it in until I exploded days, weeks, or months later just wasn’t productive. So when the “shit hit the fan” most recently I witnessed the amazing impact of yoga on my life.

Five months ago, I stepped off the ledge and opened Inspire Yoga. I was excited, scared, and anxious about this journey, but ready for the challenge. And boy has it been a challenge! In five short months I have learned more about business ownership and myself than I could ever imagine.

I made it through the challenge of construction, from picking out floors to heaters to finding people to help get the job done. I trusted that the people I hired to do the work knew what they were doing. Apparently people will tell you anything you want to hear to get your $$$.

Yes I have a big “S” on my forehead.

Just as our community was gelling and I sensed that people were getting to know our brand and name, the SHIT HIT the fan, BIG TIME! I was informed that “Inspire Yoga” would have to change our name as we were in violation of another studio’s trademark. What happened? How did I react? First with lots of resistance, denial, tears, and then that resistance relaxed into acceptance. I hit my mat, breathed and released what was no longer serving me once again, resistance. As the resistance melted I could once again see possibility. It was totally out of my control and fighting it didn’t serve anyone. And now, with our new name “EMPOWER YOGA” I am ready to move forward with a smile on my face.Sometimes we just have to take a deep breath and let go of what we cannot control. Relax into the resistance to see a new possibility. As my teacher Baron Baptiste says, “What’s possible now?”

Stay in the pose, the pose doesn’t begin till you want out. So I tell myself just one more breath, okay one more breath I can do this. This is the same feeling that comes up for me when things happens. Can I just breathe? Yes, no, yes, yes I can. As I tell my students, and myself “try easy” relax into the pose. This doesn’t mean it is easy, and doesn’t mean you aren’t sweating buckets and cursing in your head, but you are still breathing and you are not fighting. You don’t run away, you breathe through the resistance, you relax with what is.

Power Yoga is often confused with kick your own asana. Yes, it does do this, but it has also taught me that I can breathe through anything life throws at me. It has empowered me to follow my dreams, to not give up when things get rough. It’s given me the permission to fall on my face and get back up again, again and again. I can relax into the resistance and come out of it stronger than I was before.

It has taught me that anything is possible. Every pose each day is different and as you let go of the fight you find new breakthroughs. You discover you can stand on your hands lightly, you can surrender in pigeon, and you can re-brand your business if that is what the day brings. Through yoga I have not just watched my body transform but I have slowly noticed my life transform. I have learned to let go of the fight and be light, to breathe, and through this I believe I am ready to take on what is thrown my way. Yoga is my saving grace; it constantly brings me back to my breath, back to myself.

By Rachel Goldberg
http://www.yogitimes.com/article/breathing-through-difficult-times-practice-yoga

 

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5 Benefits of Regular Headstand Practice

How Inversions Help Balance the Physical and Subtle Bodies

Known as the king of Asanas (yoga postures), the headstand may at first seem intimidating to the new practitioner. However, the benefits of this posture to one’s mind, body, and spirit are plenty. In an environment where we are either sitting down or standing for most of the day, our circulation tends to become sluggish. This often results in our heart overworking to pump adequate blood to the upper body. Normally, our heart works against the pull of gravity. Inversions lessen the strain on the heart and allow an abundant supply of oxygen-rich blood to reach the head and brain.

Here are 5 of the many benefits of regular practice of headstand:

1. Inversions reverse the pull of gravity on the organs, especially the intestines. Performing this posture increases digestive fire and body heat. The intestines are cleansed while releasing clogged blood in the colon.

2. By inverting, the flow of blood reverses in the body and stimulates the nervous system. Headstands stimulate and provide refreshed blood to the pituitary and hypothalamus glands. The hypothalamus gland links the nervous system to the endocrine system via the pituitary gland. These glands are vital to our wellbeing and are considered the master glands that regulate all other glands in the body (thyroid, pineal, and adrenals). Performing headstand helps to dissolves stress, sadness, depression, and lethargy. The cleaner your adrenal glands are, the more optimal they will function. This will help you to adapt to stress better.

3.  Performing headstand rejuvenates the lower body such as the legs, pelvis, and lower torso. While in headstand, de-oxygenated blood is able to flow more easily from the extremities to the heart. Reversing the effects of gravity on your bodily fluids will help to flush out built up water in the legs, relieving the confining sensation of edema (swelling).

4.  By performing headstand, you will be directly stimulating your lymphatic system and thereby helping to remove toxins from your body. The lymphatic system is responsible for waste removal, fluid balance, and immune system response.  As lymph moves through the body, it gathers toxins and bacteria to be eliminated by the lymph nodes. Lymph moves as a result of muscle contractions and gravity. By inverting, lymph travels more easily into the respiratory system where much of the toxins enter the body.

5.  The improvement of cognitive abilities such as concentration, memory, and processing can be attributed to a regular headstand practice. The posture helps us overcome fear (of falling!) and develop concentration – see how long you can hold the posture if your mind wanders. This pose requires a still mind.  Headstands also strengthen deep core muscles. To be able to hold this posture, the practitioner must engage the obliques, the rectus abdominis and transverse abdominis.

When done correctly, headstands help the spine become properly aligned, improving posture, facilitating good breathing and reducing muscular stress. It positively affects the four major systems in the body: cardiovascular, lymphatic, nervous, and endocrine. Although I recommend learning headstand from a qualified teacher, its multifaceted benefits should not be ignored. Headstands should not be performed if you have neck injuries, unusually high blood pressure, ear or eye problems, or if a woman is on her monthly cycle.

By Mihir Ganud
http://www.yogitimes.com/article/benefits-tips-headstand-asana-pose-yoga-practice#

 

 

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From Corporate Drone to Yogi

In my forty-two years I have never been a morning person. Being from Boston, I have a pretty direct yet quirky personality, and a playful sarcasm that is the root of my sense of humor.

I am a hard worker and will give two hundred percent at a given task, but I am also pretty lazy when I am home.  I am a jack-of-all-trades and master of none.

My relationship with exercise has been an inconsistent journey that ranged from binging on workouts, protein shakes and weeks of detoxes to late night drinking, processed foods and surfing the internet until ungodly hours of the morning.  I have looked and felt great at different times in my life, but have also had periods of being out of shape and a little depressed.

After reading this about me, it may not surprise you to know I didn’t care for yoga the first time I tried it.  The amount of discipline required is out of my comfort zone of pausable workout DVD’s, greasy pizzas, and rich amber lagers.  Attempting to keep alignment correct, the breath steady, and my focus balanced sends my ADD and OCD completely over the edge.

It may also surprise you to learn I am a yoga teacher.

I stumbled upon the practice when I needed it most.  I was a stressed out, corporate drone living on fast food and adrenaline while chasing an ever elusive dangling carrot shaped in society’s definition of success.

The first time I tried yoga I was an uncoordinated mess that gasped for breath while my body trembled for a long sixty minutes.  My mat was saturated in sweat comprised of beer, nicotine, and a lifetime of bad decisions.  My naive ego egged me on whenever I looked around and passed judgement on all the bendy, fit, and graceful bodies that surrounded me.

“Who the hell do they think they are?” I asked ego rhetorically. “Screw them and their blissful grace.”  Yet while I bantered back and forth, calling everyone in the room unquestionable names, I secretly wanted to be like them.  I was innately aware these people were tuned in to something that couldn’t be seen.  The ‘feel’ of the yoga space was much different than that of a gym; there was an absence of something I couldn’t quite put my finger on.

The overwhelming positive energy was undeniable.  It was something I never experienced and I somehow knew the blissed out looks on these bendy bitches’ faces was connected to what was happening in the studio.  One didn’t need to understand what a Chakra was or be ‘metaphysical’ to feel the vibe radiating from the space.  I didn’t understand the “how” of their focus and bliss, I just wanted it. That motivated me to my second class.

I did pretty good the second time.  My initial nerves of being an “outsider” were considerably subdued and while I set up my mat in the back of the room so no one would see me fall out of balance standing in mountain pose, I had a different approach to the practice.  I wanted to absorb the sound of everyone’s breath, the instructor’s soothing tone, and more importantly, the insanely infectious peaceful energy that would soon fill the room and hug me.

We moved, breathed and put our bodies in different shapes in unison. And for the first time, I became aware I was completely present in the moment.  I wasn’t rushing to get to a meeting or running through my mind a list of things I needed to get done.  I was just “there.”

The final moments came and the instructor placed us in Savasana for final relaxation using only her words.  As we lay on the wood floor with eyes closed, bodies and minds open, the instructor gently guided us in to a meditation.  With every breath, I felt myself slip more in to relaxation, another place that had eluded me over the years.  I couldn’t tell exactly what she said during those brief minutes because the only thing that stood out was her saying it was okay for us to let go.  “Just let go.” she said, “Know that it is okay for you to just let it all go.”  And that is when I started crying.

I had no idea why, after all these years of choking down my emotions, I felt it okay in this room full of strangers to have an emotional release and sob. But it happened and felt so good.  She was right, it was okay to let it all go.  I hadn’t realized I had been holding on so tightly for so long to so many things that needed to release until she spoke those words.  In those few moments of release, I felt incredibly safe and knew I was going to be okay.

As she brought us out of meditation and class ended, I briefly obsessed over how the other people would judge me once I opened my eyes, and how I would cower out and run to my car, but for some reason those feelings melted away and I didn’t care what people thought for once in my life.  When I finally opened my eyes watching everyone gather up their mats, I realized there wasn’t judgement.  In fact, a couple of the people closest to me smiled peacefully when our eyes met as if we had an unspoken connection.

As I walked to the exit, the instructor appeared, and smiled as she placed her hand on my shoulder asking “how do you feel?”.  The only thing I could say that wouldn’t send me into another sobbing emotional release was nothing at all.  I smiled and let out a big sigh as my eyes teared up.  She squeezed my shoulder, smiled again and said “good…good” and walked away.

From that day on, I explored the roots of Yoga while trying to balance my demanding career.  I didn’t always get to class and I would just meditate or do poses in my living room, but it was that “baby step” process that brought me to where I am today.  I realized through a slow process of letting yoga in my life that slow processes are one of my processes.  I am now aware that I do it with relationships, purchases, etc.  Everything is a baby step.  If I rush, the foundation  doesn’t harden completely and the structure can potentially fail.  If I had rushed allowing yoga in to my life, I would have resented it.  But that is my process.  Everyone is different and yoga has shown me my individual processes are okay.

As yoga became more permanent, I began to let go of things I had thought defined me such as my career.  I believed I needed to climb a corporate ladder and make big bucks.  And that how I looked and who I knew were the important things.  I realized one day after a long practice that in my twenty year career I acquired a lot of things, but my search for success in the corporate world made me completely miserable and it was time to say goodbye.

Yoga has this way of taking us on a journey to the deepest regions of our self.  It helps strip away the seemingly protective layers in order to see our true, perfect nature in contrast to the stories we have been telling ourselves.  Once the layers peel off and we realize how insanely perfect we are, there is no real need in wearing societal masks any longer.

It was at the end of my career when I made the decision to teach yoga.  I want to help people learn to breathe, move, and focus.  To help them become aware of the present moment again.  Most importantly, I want others to know that it is okay to let go of all the stuff that doesn’t serve them any longer.

I am not going to lie, it is physically demanding. It challenges the constructs we create for ourselves in our minds and in the material world around, and it has no time for banter with Ego. It can be an uncoordinated mess that leaves your body trembling for what seems the longest sixty minutes of life.

But when you show up fully for your yoga practice, your yoga practice shows up fully for you.  It is not going to be an easy journey but it will definitely be worth the trip.

Even if you are not a morning person.

by  David Henault
http://www.yogitimes.com/article/practice-yoga-journey-start-begin

 

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3 Ways Yoga can Improve Your Relationship

if you’re wondering how you can improve your relationship with your partner, here are some tips to start now. If you already have a loving relationship, these principles can help maintain the magnitude of a loving relationship by allowing growth on many levels. So get your partner & begin today.

1. Principles to Reinforce Your Partnership
The first of Patanjali’s eight limbs of yoga are the Yamas. These encompass universal morality and respect for all living things, or Ahimsa (non violence). This means that kindness and friendliness should be exhibited in all situations dealing with living beings.

Kindness is contagious, and if you’re able to treat complete strangers with empathy and respect, it will be that much easier to do the same with your partner. Deceit and lies are two common elements of bad marriages and relationships. They’re detrimental in broken relationships and have the potential to shatter the love. Satya refers to speaking the truth as long as it does not hurt someone. When combined with Ahimsa, honesty trumps deliberate deception. For instance, telling your partner about an extra-marital affair would be extremely hurtful, but carrying on a fake relationship is harmful to all, including the third party individual.

Aparigraha is the Yamas principle that encourages divestment of materialism. Hoarding wealth beyond what you and your family need implies a self-centeredness that is inherently detrimental to relationships. Buy a homeless person a meal if you can afford it or help someone in need. Furthermore, gifts for your partner should be about the thought as opposed to the long-term value. For example, buying flowers or treating your partner to his or her favorite meals create lasting memories without the acquisition of material things.

2. Sexual Vitality
A 2013 study published in Social Psychological and Personality Science found that participants in long-term relationships were motivated to have an intimate relationship because it was important to their partner. In other words, people will be intimate even when they don’t want to if it makes their significant other happy. Granted, waiting in the beginning of a relationship can help to strengthen emotional bonds and commitment to one another, but a major challenge in long-term relationships is keeping everything interesting and fresh. And that’s where yoga comes into play.love

A 2010 study published by the Harvard Medical School found that women experienced more pleasure and arousal after 12 weeks of yoga practice. Psychology Today cited a study from a yoga camp that found men ages 24 to 60 experience similar benefits after several yoga sessions. A yoga date every week can only improve your relationship it seems!

3. Shape Up
A study by yogi Alan Kristal and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center found that people who did one yoga session per week for four years lost five pounds versus the non-yogis who gained 14 pounds. Kristal credited yoga’s mind-body principles, which helped change the participants’ relationship with food and eating. Yoga also can help you quit smoking and get better sleep at night. Both will promote healthier looking skin, whiter smiles and positive emotions; all of which will help build your confidence in relationships.

Yoga connects you with the truths of the here and now. Likewise the focus of healthy relationships is the present, not the past or future. Incorporating yoga into your regular life ensures beautiful memories with your partner and promotes a future of love and commitment.

And all of us can use love as a catalyst for growth on many levels. Isn’t to day a good day to begin? Let yoga make Love!

By Brian Wilkins
http://www.yogitimes.com/article/yoga-can-improve-relationship

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What is the meaning of Namaste

The literal translation of Namaste in Sanskrit is “to bow.” “I bow to you.” Yet the true meaning of this word, like most words in Sanskrit, runs much deeper than your average greeting.

The practice of yoga reminds us that we are all interconnected. We are all unique, but simultaneously united in the human experience of emotions: upheaval, joy, sadness, and peace. By practicing yoga or pranayama (breath-work), we navigate away from the monkey-mind, swinging in the to-do lists of daily life. Instead, we journey inwards toward the truest version of ourselves and the present moment.

If we think of our yoga practice as an exploration or inquiry of the present moment, we may be going through different things individually, but as a group, we are all united on the yogic path.

How does this connect back to Namaste?

Well, when a teacher uses the word Namaste at the beginning or end of a class, what she is saying on a deeper level beyond “I bow to you,” is that “when I (the teacher) am in a state of yoga in me, and you (the student) are in a state of yoga in you, we are one.” In other words, “we are all different, but being on the yogic path unites us.”

Other translations of Namaste include the concept of “the divine light” that resides within each of us, and bowing to the innate goodness at the core of another person.

If you choose to think about yoga as a vehicle to reach your highest self or true nature, this definition may especially resonate with you. From this perspective, Namaste might be translated as “the divine in me bows to the divine in you,” or “the light in me honors the light in you – in this place together, we are one.”

Saying Namaste is the traditional way to end class. At a more practical level, it represents a teacher’s acknowledgement of her students. As a teacher, she is not above or better than her students; she is an equal, who bows to the divine that resides in each of them. In saying Namaste back, the student echoes back gratitude for the teacher and all the other students in the room. Gratitude for one another, the shared experience, and for the practice of yoga itself, is deeply embedded in this word.

Like so much of yoga and Sanskrit, the exact translation of Namaste can be left up to personal interpretation. Create a definition of Namaste that fits best with what yoga means to you and the value you receive from the practice. Then say it with abundance (or choose not to) at the end of your next class.

Since the ways we can think about these Sanskrit words and what they mean are infinite, please share your thoughts on Namaste or your favorite definition in the comments below.

Written by Brett Larkin
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So Who Owns Yoga?

It is a really good question to ask, in this day and age of the many variants of yoga that are being created, the commercialisation of yoga, the attempts at trying to patent the filming of yoga training even!

This documentary shown on Al Jezeera News takes an in depth look at the question “WHo owns Yoga”

It’s a 50 minute program, so get comfortable and take the time to watch this!

Remember…don’t forget to purr.

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