Tag Archives: personal yoga

WelcOMe to Yoga, the ideal starter mat.

No, that isn’t a typo in the heading it’s the name of Manduka’s ‘starter’ mat, the WelcOMe mat.

The WelcOMe mat is a soft cushioned mat and lightweight. The closed-cell surface prevents sweat from seeping into the mat.

For those of you who are beginning your Yoga journey the mat has am alignment strip down the centre of the mat to help guide you in your poses.

 

So get your Manduka WelcOMe mat now at Yoga Essentials.

 

 

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The natural way with the Manduka Eko and Eko-Lite

For those of you that want to practice on a natural substance, then the Manduka Eko and Ekolite is the mat for your practice. The mat is made from 100% sustainable non-Amazon harvested bio-degradable rubber and has awesome grip factor for the sweatiest of times.

It’s ideal for hot yoga or if you have very sweaty hands.

So now that you know that the Ekolite is for you, why not go to Yoga Essentials and order one now?

 

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Real Yogis Practice Pranayama

By Sandra AndersonpranayamaTraveling in Tibet in the 1920s, Alexandra David-Neel encountered a lama moving alone and fast in the remote Tibetan desert. “He ran like a ball bouncing,” she wrote, levitating with each step, moving faster than her entourage on horseback, and seemingly in a trance, unaware of his surroundings. Eventually she learned that the training for this extraordinary capacity is not aerobic conditioning; it’s pranayama, the mastery of prana. Part of the training involves sitting in a small, below-ground pit, using the breath and mind to lift the body out of the pit with the power of prana.

“If you can control prana, you can completely control all the forces of the universe, mental and physical.”

So what is this mysterious prana? Prana is our vital life force. It works through the mind and in the heart, in the breath, and in digestion; in walking, running, talking, and thinking; and in projecting the personality in all ways. It’s also the sum total of all the energy manifest in the universe. Swami Sivananda, an influential yoga master of the last century, writes, “If you can control prana, you can completely control all the forces of the universe, mental and physical.” This explains the prodigious feats of memory and strength traditionally associated with yogis—things like the power to fly through the sky, levitate, and control body temperature. But perhaps more to the point for us, by controlling prana, the mind is also controlled.Just to be clear, yoga is the mastery of the mind, and for yogis, pranayama is the ticket for learning to use all the wondrous powers of the mind. The yogic texts tell us the mind is tethered to prana like a bird to a string. And here’s the really good news: by controlling the breath, we can control prana, and thus the mind. And the really, really good news? Basic pranayama practices are both powerful and accessible to all of us.Though many pranayama techniques are not that difficult physically, sustaining a practice and developing the mind can be tricky. Here are six pointers for getting started, and for improving, sustaining, and deepening your practice.

  1. Steadiness of body: The body must be comfortably motionless for a prolonged period of time, and yet support alertness, breath control, and mental focus. Asana practice is essential for pranayama, partly because it’s nearly impossible to maintain a balanced, still, comfortable sitting posture for any length of time without it. Just as importantly, asana activates and integrates the flow of prana, helps us develop the capacity to direct prana with bandhas (energy locks), trains the body to breathe diaphragmatically, and develops sensitivity to inner states of being. Preferred sitting postures for pranayama are sukhasana (easy pose), svastikasana (auspicious pose), and padmasana (lotus pose), but sitting on a chair is also an option.
  2. Diaphragmatic breathing: Just as your sitting posture is the foundation for the body in pranayama practice, diaphragmatic breathing is the foundation for the breath. This is where deliberate training of the breath begins in earnest. Don’t assume that because you have been practicing yoga for years, you are breathing diaphragmatically. Our breathing patterns are typically subconscious—controlled by persistent habits that are out of our awareness. Get started with Breath Training on the Pranayama Channel at YogaInternational.com for tutorials and tips to refine your basic breathing pattern, balance the nervous system, and reinforce a relaxed state of inner equilibrium.
  3. Balanced lifestyle: Avoid too much or too little food, too much or too little sleep, and too much or too little mental and physical activity. Be regular in your lifestyle habits. A fresh, nourishing diet is particularly important.
  4. Mental/emotional stability: Here’s my teacher, Pandit Tigunait, a masterful pranayama practitioner, on the subject of emotional balance: “To get the benefit of pranayama, you must be steady in thought, speech, and action. Without some measure of contentment in life, pranayama brings misery.”
  5. Regularity: In general, the benefits of yoga accrue from consistent, systematic practice for long periods of time. “If one practices pranayama continuously for a year, he is sure to attain wisdom,” writes Swami Rama, a modern master who demonstrated extraordinary control over his body’s autonomic functions. “With regulation of the breath,” he continues, “karma acquired both in this life and in the past may be burnt up.” This is a big job, and progress is necessarily incremental. After all, it took lifetimes to build your unconscious mind and habits, so naturally it will take some time to reshape them!
  6. Inner focus: Success in yoga depends on this. Becoming sensitive to the flow of breath, the subtlety of the breath, and finally the suspension of the breath, leads you to awareness of the force behind the breath—prana. Awareness of prana is the thread that links you to deeper states of mental awareness, independent of the physical body and the senses. This is the beginning of mastering the mind.

Finally, (and thankfully), my teachers also have this useful advice: Don’t bind yourself with too many rules. So why delay? Start now, even if your sitting posture and diet aren’t perfect and equanimity isn’t your forte. In the memorable words of Swami Sivananda, “Start the practice this very second in right earnest and become a real yogi.”

 About Sandra Anderson

For over 20 years Sandra Anderson has shared her extensive experience in yoga theory and practice with students from all over the world. A senior faculty member and resident at the Himalayan Institute, her teaching reflects access to the living oral tradition, and the embodied experience of 30 years of dedicated practice. With a background in the natural sciences and interest in classical Sanskrit, along with frequent pilgrimages to India, Sandy has a rare capacity to eloquently convey the richness of spiritual life in our contemporary world. She is the coauthor of the award-winning book, Yoga Mastering the Basics, and was a contributing editor and columnist for Yoga International magazine. She is now a frequent contributor to YogaInternational.com, offering instructional videos and articles. Sandy leads workshops, trainings and retreats both nationally and internationally, and at the headquarters of the Himalayan Institute.

 

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Scientific Research on the Benefits of Yoga

ZID_1021_760_427auto_intWe all know that yoga does a body (and a mind) good. But up until recently, no one could really say with any degree of certainty why—or even how—it improves conditions as varied as depression and anxiety, diabetes, chronic pain, and even epilepsy.

Now a group of researchers at Boston University School of Medicine believe they’ve discovered yoga’s secret. In an article published in the May 2012 issue of Medical Hypotheses journal under an impossibly long title, Chris Streeter, PhD, and his team hypothesize that yoga works by regulating the nervous system. And how does it do that? By increasing vagal tone—the body’s ability to successfully respond to stress.

The Study: The Effects of Yoga on the Autonomic Nervous System, Gamma-aminobutyric-acid, and Allostasis in Epilepsy, Depression, and Post-traumatic Stress Disorder.

What Is Vagal Tone?

Most of us don’t even know we have a vagus that needs toning, but we most certainly do. The vagus nerve, the largest cranial nerve in the body, starts at the base of the skull and wanders throughout the whole body, influencing the respiratory, digestive, and nervous systems. Often thought of as our “air traffic controller,” the vagus nerve helps to regulate all our major bodily functions. Our breath, heart rate, and digestion—as well as our ability to take in, process, and make sense of our experiences—are all directly related to the vagus nerve.

We know when the vagus nerve is toned and functioning properly because we can feel it on different levels: Our digestion improves, our heart functions optimally, and our moods stabilize. We have an easier time moving from the more active and often stressful states of being to the more relaxed ones. As we get better at doing that, we can manage life’s challenges with the right blend of energy, engagement, and ease. When we can consistently maintain this flexible state we are thought to have “high vagal tone.”

“Low vagal tone is correlated with such health conditions as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, chronic pain, and epilepsy.”

“Low vagal tone,” on the other hand, brings with it a sense of depletion. Our digestion becomes sluggish, our heart rate increases, and our moods become more unpredictable and difficult to manage. Not surprisingly, low vagal tone is correlated with such health conditions as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, chronic pain, and epilepsy—not coincidentally, the same conditions that show significant improvement with yoga practice. Researchers hypothesize that it is vagal stimulation through yoga that improves these conditions.

To test their theory, the researchers investigated practices they believed would increase vagal tone. For example, they found that resistance breathing, such as ujjayi pranayama, increases the relaxation response, as well as heart rate variability (another marker of resilience). And a pilot study conducted on more experienced yogis showed that chanting Om out loud increased vagal tone and the relaxation response more than chanting it silently to oneself. Studies such as this one begin to reveal how different yogic practices impact human physiology in different ways.

ABOUT Angela Wilson Angela Wilson, MA, manager of evidence-based curriculum for the Institute for Extraordinary Living at Kripalu, holds a master’s degree in mental health counseling from Lesley University, is a 200-hour Kripalu Yoga teacher, and has completed 250 hours of ayurvedic training.

https://yogainternational.com/article/view/scientific-research-how-yoga-works

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4 ways to teach a calm, confident yoga class, even when you are nervous

hands-800What, yoga teachers get nervous? You mean they aren’t always tranquil, floaty gurus? Of course they do! I have never met a yoga teacher who doesn’t occasionally get nervous teaching. When you care so deeply about your profession, and care so deeply about the lives that you touch in your classes, it is totally normal to occasionally have some performance anxiety. And we all have different triggers that can set this teaching anxiety off. I have taught classes for over 100 people, outside, inside, both private lessons and at small studios… and surprisingly the smaller classes are the ones that give me a bit more anxiety. After teaching over the past few years, I have a few things that help me get over these nerves, so that I can teach from a place of clarity and confidence.

1. Keep It Simple

If you know you are going to be teaching at a new studio, or maybe taking on a new class, this is not the time to try out a brand new transition, poses you don’t usually teach or a new playlist. When you know you may already be feeling anxious, go with a flow that you know well and that you feel in your body. Hopefully, even one that you have practiced a few times yourself. Even if the class seems simple to you as a teacher, it is most likely a great fit for your students.

2. Breathe With Them

In the beginning of class, as your students get settled in their comfortable easy seats, don’t walk around the room, or fuss with props and lights. Instead, sit down with them! Take this time to ground yourself. Dive into the energy of the room, and take those beginning breaths with them. Not only will this connect you to the group, which in itself is comforting, but it will slow your own breathing so that you can calm yourself down. Adding in additional breath cues, such as exhales in down dog or child’s pose will also give you another place to breath with them and let go of your fears, so take advantage of those throughout the class.

3. Ask for Help

No, don’t ask for help from the students, but ask for help from a higher power. Whether you check in with your guardian angels or with the Divine, take a moment or two to ask that they help you lead this class. Ask to simply be a channel for the Divine, and let the words and the poses flow through you. Some people call it The Universe, others may call it God… connect with something bigger than yourself. When you let Spirit take the wheel, everything becomes easier.

4. Remember, They Don’t Have to Like You

This can be a tricky one, because the ego loves to rear its ugly head when we feel anxious, but your students have come to their mats for a safe, calming yoga practice — not to look for their new best friend. As long as you teach a balanced flow of poses that keeps their bodies safe, you are doing your job! You may have one or two people in the class who might not like you. That’s fine! And it is most likely more of a reflection of them, not you! Try not to be hung up on making yourself their new favorite teacher, and instead on simply teaching a balanced class that is safe for all bodies.

Some classes will be more challenging than others. As you teach more, you will most likely become less and less nervous. But even as an experienced teacher, you may still get those butterflies when you are teaching in a new place, or to a new group. By using some of these tips, you will be able to bring a sense of calm to yourself first, and then to your students around you.

by  logan kinney
http://www.yogitimes.com/article/tips-ways-teach-calm-confident-yoga-class-when-nervous

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UK Parliament Takes a Yoga Break

UK Parliament takes a Yoga Break
UK Parliament takes a Yoga Break
The phrase “U.K. Parliament” doesn’t typically bring to mind images of politicians doing yoga, but last week, that’s exactly what happened in England’s House of Lords.
If you had been in one of the large rooms near the House of Lords in London’s historic Parliament building last Wednesday, you might have spotted several Lords participating in a 60-minute yoga session.

Lords on the Mats

According to NDTV, the session began with meditation, during which an audio-visual history of yoga was played in the background. Following this, they began with pranayama, following a yoga teacher through a series of breathing exercises.

The Lords attempted a variety of positions from Ardha Chandrasana to Vrikshasana, reports NDTV. The lesson was led by yoga instructor Neil Patel, who instructed the Parliamentarians on proper form and etiquette, reminding them not to kick their neighbors even if they didn’t belong to the same political party.

The yoga session was kickstarted by Indian-born Lord Karan Bilimoria as part of the U.K.’s International Yoga Day celebrations. Bilimoria praised India’s influence on the world, calling yoga a “shining example” of its “soft power.”

“Yoga is rapidly gaining in popularity around the world for its recognized benefits for wellbeing and mindfulness,” Bilimoria told Outlook India.

He joked that the Lords were well suited to yoga because they’re already in such good shape and in need of relaxation.

“We are very fit, you see,” Lord Bilimoria told NDTV. “We have just eight minutes from the time the bell goes to come and vote from wherever we are in the vast lobbies of this grand building. We run to make it…so this yoga session was very welcome.”

Other Lords agreed, saying that yoga was easier than they thought it would be. Patel called them “sports,” adding that they don’t need to attempt complicated asanas in order to stay in shape.

“A little bit of simple yoga a day would be good for inner peace and health,” he said.

Politicians experiencing inner peace? That could be just what the world needs!
Sarah Alender – Sarah is part of DoYouYoga’s editorial team and writes about inspiration and news.
http://www.doyouyoga.com/u-k-parliament-takes-a-yoga-break-98214/
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Taking Action to Help Others is Yoga Too (Karma Yoga)

Yoga is more than postures
“If I am not for myself, then who will be for me? And if I am only for myself, then what am I? And if not now, when? – Rabbi Hillel 

Photography by stacie-saraswati dooreck
Photography by stacie-saraswati dooreck
Taking action to help others is yoga too by Stacie Dooreck, Author of “SunLight Chair Yoga: yoga for everyone!” Direct action to help others is yoga. Eating a diet that does not harm animals or any living being is yoga. Sitting in stillness is yoga. Yoga postures are also yoga, but not the entirety of the practice by any means. It seems however, that the modern wave of yoga often focuses mostly on yoga postures, which is very different from the yoga taught as I learned it, in the ashrams in India or ashrams established in the west from the lineage based Gurus.
The yoga path had postures (asanas) as part of hatha yoga but also included a vegetarian diet, daily meditation, devotional chanting, pranayama (breathing exercises) and karma yoga (service). Although yoga postures are useful for improving health and peace of mind, the yoga asanas are only one part of yoga. It often serves as an entry way where many people are drawn to the practice (to achieve greater strength, flexibility, exercise, pain relief, etc.) They are also useful and helpful in lifestyle, as daily exercise for the body and a meditation for the mind. However the other aspects of yoga practiced in conjuction with the yoga postures, create the holistic path of yoga.
Although the postures themselves can lead the mind into a meditative state and regulate the breathing, if we are harming animals and not helping humanity, we may be missing a large part of the practice: to increase compassion for ourselves and others. A simple way to think of it is that yoga can be summarized as a full lifestyle including 5 main points. “Swami Vishnudevananda condensed the essence of the yoga teachings into five principles for physical and mental health as well as spiritual growth”
Proper Exercises – asana
Proper Breathing – relaxation
Proper Relaxation – savasana
Proper Diet – vegetarian
Positive Thinking and Meditation
“Serve. Love. Give. Purify. Meditate. Realize.” says Swami Vishnu Devananda. Karma yoga or seva is selflessly serving humanity, not included in this five main points, but is another branch of yoga. It doesn’t involve a headstand, handstand, downward dog or spinal twist. It does not even involve sitting in meditation and feeling serene nor eating a vegetarian diet. This can be volunteer work, organizing projects to help those in need or any way that you can give of your talents, time or energy to help others. Although it is useful to keep the body healthy and strong with yoga postures, this is only a small part of the path and practice of yoga. In fact, the postures, some say, were originally designed as part of the yoga practice so that the yogis can then sit quietly and concentrate, do pranayama (breathing exercises) and meditate on higher aspects of yoga and spirituality, and perhaps to answer questions with clarity such as “Who am I? Why am I here? And how can I serve humanity?” Since the body is limited to the amount of years we are here, the yogis were also seeking to understand their true essence, that which is beyond the body, time and space.
If we are injured, paralyzed in a wheelchair, recovering from a surgery, in a hospital bed or not able to move our body in yoga postures, we still can practice yoga. Meditation, breathing exercises, eating a diet that does not harm animals and giving back to humanity is another way. Our yoga practice will to have to adapt to our needs and abilities in each phase of life, but it is all still yoga. “Adapt. Adjust. Accommodate.” says Swami Sivananda.
The reason I was led to write this article is because when the earthquake happened in Nepal, in the Himalayas [April 30th 2105], the motherland of yoga, I saw most yoga businesses posting news online about their workshops and clothes on sale, yoga conferences and their festival and events, yet no mention on social media from many of these large commercial yoga studios and yoga businesses about helping those in Nepal needing food, water, medical supplies and urgent help. Direct action to help humanity IS yoga. If the yoga communities unite, as yoga aims to do, and each yoga studio, yoga business and yoga teacher asks on social media to have their followers or friends donate to an organization they trust, even a small amount, this would be of great service. It would be true yoga if helping humanity, was the priority. Let’s follow the lead of Yoga International Magazine that sent a dedicated e-letter immediately asking for donations for Nepal earthquake relief. If you are a yoga teacher or yoga studio owner, you can also arrange a local event in your area as a fundraiser for Nepal or another group that is in need.
Any effort, even small can create a ripple effect and bring more peace and less suffering in this world. Don’t wait for another person to step in help. As Rabbi Hillel said “If I am not for myself, then who will be for me? And if I am only for myself, then what am I? And if not now, when?”
stacie-saraswati dooreck
http://www.yogitimes.com/article/help-others-karma-yoga-earthquake-nepal-2015
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5 Yoga Poses to Open Up the Hips

Tight hips are one of the most common conditions in the Western Culture. This is due in large part to the fact that we sit in chairs for long periods of time, and because we generally do not sit in hip opening positions like a squat very often, if ever.

5 Yoga Poses to Open Up the Hips
5 Yoga Poses to Open Up the Hips

Tight hips can lead to a whole host of issues like lower back pain, misalignments in the spine, and can even lead to injury. The hip joints are actually very unique joints, known as ball and socket joints. This allows for a much greater range of motion than say the elbow joint or the knee joint.

That is why you need to open the front, back and sides of your hips to really get a good stretch. Here are my five favorite hip opening postures. I recommend that you warm up a little, and then hold each stretch for 30 seconds to a minute.

1. Low Lunge (Anjaneyasana)

Low Lunge (Anjaneyasana)
Low Lunge (Anjaneyasana)

Low lunge is one of the best postures you can do to open the front of your hips. This posture effectively reverses the normal position of the hips when you are sitting in a chair, which is exactly what most of us need, especially if you work in an office environment.

Begin in a normal lunge position, and then slowly lower your back knee to the ground. From here, you can push your hips forward to the degree that feels good for you.

Breathe and hang out, then practice on the other side.

2. Half King Pigeon (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana)

Half King Pigeon (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana)
Half King Pigeon (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana)

I can understand if you have a love/hate relationship with this posture. It can be very intense, and it can actually be dangerous for the knee if you do not have great alignment.

The best advice I can offer for this one is to start in Downward Facing Dog, and step one leg through to a lunge. Then, draw the front foot to the opposite long side of your mat, and place the outside of the foot on the mat, slowly lowering the rest of the leg down with your knee bent.

Then bring your heel in close to your opposite hip joint. Make sure to keep tension in the front foot, as this will protect your knee. Play around with moving your shin farther from your hips, but just be sure you are always keeping your foot tense.

3. Frog Pose (Bhekasana)

Frog Pose (Bhekasana)
Frog Pose (Bhekasana)

This is a great posture to help open up the inner groin/hip region. My favorite way to enter this posture is to start on hands and knees. Then slowly draw your knees away from one another, keeping your shins in line with your knees (rather than allowing your feet to draw in towards one another) as you lower your hips down towards the floor.

Keep your hips in line with your knees, rather than allowing them to move back towards your feet. Continue to move your knees farther away from one another.

Rest on your forearms, or all the way down on the mat if you can get there. Go slow with this one and allow your body to open in its own time.

4. Garland Pose (Malasana)

Garland Pose (Malasana)
Garland Pose (Malasana)

This is the king position for opening your hips and lower back. Start with your feet hip distance apart, or even slightly wider. Allow your feet to turn out 30 degrees or so if you are new to squatting.

Lower your body down, as though you were going to sit on a very small stool. You can extend your arms straight in front of you if you find it difficult to balance.

As you practice this posture, work to move your feet so that they are pointing straight out in front of you.

You can also play with bringing the feet in closer to one another as you progress. This pose has a million and a half benefits and will change your life if you practice it often!

5. Bound Angle Pose (Bhaddha Konasana)

Bound Angle Pose (Bhaddha Konasana)
Bound Angle Pose (Bhaddha Konasana)

This is a great posture to practice while you sit and watch TV or even while reading a book. Sit tall on your mat, then draw your knees up, placing your feet flat on the floor about 12 inches from your bottom.

Bring your feet together, as you allow your knees to drop to the side. Connect the soles of your feet. Inhale as you lengthen your spine once more. Then slowly move your heels in towards your groin, opening the inner hips.

You can also lean your chest forward towards your feet if you like, just be sure to maintain length in your spine.

Having supple, open hips will not only help you to avoid hip and back pain as you age, it can also help you to avoid hurting yourself in everyday life. Having a nice range of motion means that you will be so much less likely to really injure yourself if you fall, which is so important!

By Ali Washington
http://www.doyouyoga.com/5-yoga-poses-open-hips/

 

 

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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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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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