I am constantly amazed at how the Universe and the world around me keep me on my toes. As I write this I am on a layover in Dallas, Texas, and just a few hours prior, I was at Madison Airport running back to my car at 5:38am (after a run into the airport because I realized how far the economy parking lot is, and heck I have legs to I can walk, but I don’t want to be late). In just a few minutes the Universe taught me to be even more conscious and do what my Inner Self, that whisper from God telling you to do something and when we don’t listen we may have to do something more complicated than what the initial request was. So that run back to my car I was talking about was because after check in (and my flight being moved from 6am to 6:30am) I went to the bathroom, and after, I had the thought to text my husband to tell him I’m at the airport, but I thought that I’d wait until later because I didn’t feel like taking my phone out of my bag. Well after security check I was searching for my phone and couldn’t find it…it was in my car. And at 5:38am I found myself, with my roller suitcase and handbag running in 8 degrees to get my phone, hoping I won’t miss my flight at 6:30pm.
Lesson here, do what your Inner Self says, and when you don’t there is a silver lining, I wasn’t mad that I had to run back to the car (after running in the first time to get my flight). Because I instantly thought of the fact that before I even made the choice to not look at my phone, God and the Universe already switched my flight to accommodate my choice five minutes later.
I have for many years now believed that being comfortable in life means that you are not growing, and that there are two different kinds of easy: one, easy because you are avoiding life’s challenges so what you come in contact with is never pushing you to be more than you currently are; and two, easy because you understand that you need to be challenged and that all the “problems” you are facing currently are because life is not giving up on you, the Universe and God want very much for you to succeed and that what is currently taking you down, is actually building you back up. The only real challenge is if you choose to listen or not.
Over the years I have had many opportunities to challenge my personal integrity, my belief system and how I act on it, my lifestyle, my truths, among many other personal convictions; and within all of those opportunities I have come face to face several times with the meshing and tangling with others integrity, belief system, lifestyle and personal convictions and what I have come to notice, and turn my awareness towards is my actions and reactions to the interactions with life in general.
And what I have come to find is that all these encounters force me to put life into actual action. Now as you read this you are probably wondering ‘life into actual action’, isn’t life actual action? But hear me out; life is only living when you chose to be an active part of it, faith is only faith when you choose to attest to it and walk in its footsteps. Yoga is only yoga when you take it off the mat and into every day life. Now readings this ask yourself a few simple questions: one, do I agree, two, if I don’t agree, why, am I not living up to my potential, three, am I consciously choosing to only do what is comfortable and the norm, only what others say is right or correct living.?
If everything is a mirror for right living, for ourselves to get a real glimpse as to what is really going on inside of us, then this is the question I ask myself is: “what is my mirror showing me today?” I don’t always like the mirror because it tells me that what I am doing and what I know I should be doing and am capable of, are different. When we accept the mirror in all aspects of life we allow another opportunity in- to grow and become the person the Universe and God intended us to be.
There is no drug, surgery or amount of money that can replace what the mirror can do for us. We live in an age of politically correct action; we are trying to save everyone from harm’s way, from hurt, from consequences to help them from seeing the mirror that is in front of them. I often times wonder if removing the mirror from people’s lives is really the right decision. As a yoga teacher, I tread both heavy and lightly on these grounds because we are all at a different place in life and within our own personal convictions.
I have a bit of abhorrence when my awareness kicks in and each night when my husband wants ice cream I want to pretend that I should have some too and it won’t affect me later. I dislike greatly that my mirror kicks in and shows me that I would be a lot less stressed, less tired, and more ready for the day if I just go to bed earlier. The list goes on, in the past I came to realize that my food choices were base on what I felt I should be doing rather than what I need for me, my body image was based solely on what I thought others thought of me. My self-worth was entangled in the worth of those around me. And what I believe in and acted on in faith was knotted in with was drilled into my head without reason why, and was in-fact faith without action. Sure I went to church and prayed and did my fair share of volunteering (which I love and would probably be a missionary if I wasn’t a yoga teacher) among other things.
But looking back in that part of my life what I needed was to be shown that all the things I needed were inside of me. That by accepting the Self is actually accepting the Universal Consciousness (however that manifests for you). And the self-hate I had towards myself and the lies, self-mutilation and anger I had was not an action in Universal Consciousness or of God, and although I did a pretty good job of looking the part and doing all the right things and even the work I was doing was supposed to “save me” the only thing that really saved me was when I realized that I had purpose, I was in-fact a part of that Universal Consciousness and that God was actually inside of me rather than some big scary thing in the sky that was going to punish me for wrong doing. My God is my mirror, showing me everything I need to know about myself, life and living, doing work and living honestly to the best of my ability.
My yoga practice (which has very much floated over into how I live) will not be all you expect: my family eats meat, I like an occasional cup of coffee, I am guilty of a late night snack, I own a T.V., you might be amazed at the fact that I don’t’ agree with all environmental actions taken that is currently taken to make the environment a safer place; which I think may actually be causing more toxic harm; and sometimes I even shop at Wal-mart (remember those people that work there chose to work there and need jobs, which this establishment has provided).
No one is perfect and if you are projecting yourself to be, I’m impressed and need to know your secret. But more important is that yoga is teaching me that I should be pure in all that I do, that I should be honest, compassionate and live to be happy, and share happiness with others. That it’s not talking the talk, but walking the walk.
I am thankful that my yoga, the yoga I know and live and teach and walk by is my mirror, both on the mat and off the mat, and when I approach that ready to listen, ready to learn and ready to do the work, I am amazed because I never know what is going to happen. The old me would have either ran or got defensive, but in understanding what the real point of a yoga practice is I thank God for my mirror to be able to see things as they actually are and know that what and how things come into play in my life are an opportunity for me to learn, grow and truly live.
In respect, Namaste.
Got tension, stress, worry, or doubt? We all do, and when we offer ourselves simple techniques to help eliminate and lessen the effects of them, we feel better and become better people. The Tension Release breathing technique is meant to help one to release negative psychic tensions built up within the subtle body. These tensions can hold us back in our spiritual growth and create a very heavy energy. This practice was created by Swami Rudrananda to better enhance his spiritual life.
So, how do you do it?To continue to view this post and read about how you can eliminate tension visit Greenster.com CLICK
There are 30 trillion cells in the human body, more than 60,000 miles of blood vessels, 88,000 chakras, and 72,000 nadis. And that's just the beginning.
Awareness is a funny thing. Usually, until something is brought to your attention, you do not realize it exists, is important, or needs to be changed. When I first started a formal yoga practice over ten years ago (I’m pretty sure my shoulder stands in my living room at age eight were a sign yoga was in my future), I had no clue what awareness was. Growing up I was told to pay attention, but I don’t think I really knew what actual awareness was.
What is awareness?
To continue reading this article visit MindBodyGreen.com (CLICK HERE)Awareness, Meditation, Trust, yoga, Chakras
Hope in her backyard in Dancer Pose
We have all said it to someone, had someone say it to us or even said it to ourselves in a moment of self realization: You need to take better care of yourself, take more time for you and maybe even learn to say no.
We do in fact get too caught up in the hustle and bustle of everyday living that we forget that if we do not pay attention to our personal needs and well-being there will quite simply be no us, no you, no me. Within this honoring, this mindfulness we are in-acting towards ourselves it has been very apparent to me that this act of selflessness needs to be coupled with an intention, awareness and consideration of those around us as well.
We often times get too caught up in our own "stuff" we forget that what we do, the choices we make and the things we say affect those around us.
Consciousness of who we are, what we are doing and how we live is something we must choose to do each day and then act or react accordingly.
I have found myself lately in situations that have been teaching me about my own consciousness and how I am in fact playing into others lack thereof. I ultimately care so much about my foresight has been that I will sacrifice myself for others to move forward. But I have noticed lately, more than ever, that there is seldom a return on this (when you are not truly honoring your own being). Now I know some of you will say “sure there is”. But what I have ultimately found is that the self sacrifice I am referring to is the one where we are in fact enabling those around us to stay stuck, even though they may get what they need: a ride, some money, help, or a hand out with our having asked, but within that process we end up sinking our own beings to help them stay afloat with nothing in return.
Many times we (the enablers) make choices and act in such ways because we feel we may be inconveniencing others and in return they may not want to buy something of yours or come to your party or help you when you are down and out. What we often times forget is that in doing such this, with these intentions and mindset no one wins. Sure that person is down on their luck, in a bind or struggle but if you keep helping them how will they learn, and if you keep helping them how will you learn? When we act I this way we are actually holding the other people involved back from growing, we are enabling their karma to never fully meet with them face to face because we feel bad or we want to help because we feel guilty or they pull out the victim card on us. And as much as we are trying to help them honor themselves by assisting them in making the right choices, helping them heal from a crisis, we need to turn that around towards us and ask ourselves if we are doing the same thing?
The truth is we all have problems; we all have rough patches, bumps and mishaps; now some come in the form of cancer, dis-ease, financial loss, martial or family problems, and self insecurities that may in turn become horrible self destructive addictions. But these are purely learning lessons, some very difficult, some sudden, or seemingly unfair, but if you can step back from them a bit and trust that everything is in its perfect place and a learning opportunity we will only move forward leaving no one accountable for our actions except ourselves. My life has screamed this for as far as I can remember. As a young child I felt the need to fix everything, in my teens I struggled with a paralyzing eating disorder and then early into recovery our first daughter Faith at 28 weeks gestation was diagnosed with a irreversible condition that left her with a short life spent in my arms (and my husband’s). I had to choose each time to not see myself as a victim, to not blame everyone around me and to not blame myself. I choose at each moment (literally) to see what the silver lining was, to see that life was teaching me, Faith chose this life and chose me and my husband as part of her path and we to hers. She gave me personally many great things that I am grateful for and she would have not given me them any other way. Just like your current life and situation is giving you something right now to grow from, to help change your life and work through your karma.
So when we learn to honor ourselves, and act in a self-less way, we need to ask ourselves this “am I helping or hurting”, these choices should hold us accountable to our actions, words and thoughts. Remember the lady in McDonalds with the coffee, I believe that this episode paved the way for people to believe that self integrity, self responsibility and accountability will not get you what you want, we now live in a society that would rather divorce than admit that they were wrong, sue every company, person and organization than step up and do a little hard work and grow. Much of the ownership in today’s society comes in all the wrong forms. Respect is bought, stolen, or cheated, we are taught that honesty will not get you far in life, and we are taught to be enabled from early on.
Simply put, when we learn to respect ourselves, see the greater good in ourselves and lead by example what seems so hard, unfair or impossible only becomes the biggest stepping stone in your karmic journey. Sink or swim, look around is anyone really pushing you under? For me (during my eating disorder) I found I was letting myself drown, and manipulating those around me to keep me afloat just enough not to have to change.
So go out and take better care of yourself, but in that process seek awareness and understand that we are only given what we need and have asked for ourselves through our own choices and actions.
Core strength isn’t just about looking thin; your core is your identity center and connects all your movements. For these reasons and more, having core strength will improve your mind, body, and soul.
1. Learn deep abdominal breathing (DAB). Most people in today’s society are chest breathers, and this kind of breathing leads to a slew of side effects like anxiety, asthma, sleep disturbances, stress, poor digestion, and constipation just to name a few. Distance yourself from chest breathing by practicing deep abdominal breathing before you get out of bed in the morning and when you lay down to go to sleep. DAB is a great technique to help bring more awareness to your core, the center of your being. Here’s how to practice it:
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- Place one hand on your lower abdomen and one hand on your upper belly, now take a moment and relax into the bed or floor.
- On the inhalation consciously move your breath into the upper hand and then begin to consciously expand your breath into the lower hand.
- Exhale and allow the breath to fully complete itself, do not worry about how the breath leaves (bottom to top or top to bottom), and try to make the exhalation slightly longer than the inhalation.
- Pay attention that the exhalation fully completes itself and that nothing is forced; your body will accept the breath as you continue to work.
- Work with this for at least three to five minutes or until you fall asleep (at night).
Happy New Year! With each New Year comes yet another opportunity to regain a sense of self. Regain a sense of purpose and right attitude. I do my best to stay away from the news and adrenal overload fed media messages, but even when avoiding that stuff I am amazed at how much we as people feed into it. Commercials and television shows, new fitness fads and crazy diets. And somehow we as a people believe that this is a means to regain our sense of self, get our lives back so to speak. And what I have observed even more is that for whatever reason I notice people constantly saying in the new year or next week after such and such I will change this or stop doing that. So I wonder to myself what is so special about a day that we put off something we absolutely need or desire to do, to only self-sabotage for a few more days. So along comes the infamous New Year’s day and then for some reason the punishment starts; diets, boot camps and unhealthy “healthy” fasts and workout that are called insanity. Are we insane? Take a look at the few things I listed and notice what they all have in common…..one, they all are crazy and two, none of them offer us a sense of self-esteem, slow continuous change and an understanding as to why we are feeling the need to do these things in the first place.
Each year people ask me what my client retention is at the studio after the first of the year, and usually reply oh good, like anything we of course have a few new people come and a few old people come back and after a few months we have a few of those new people fade away and a few old people do the same. And what I continually remind people is that neither one outcome is good or bad but rather an important thing to remember is that change takes time, and change is hard, and real change takes effort and does not happen overnight. I struggled with an eating disorder for over ten years and I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I tried to stop, to cold turkey turn away from this daunting habit, an addiction-what I know as pure hell.
And maybe some of you are like me and wake up in the morning and say today I’m going to stop doing XYZ, only to find that three hours later you are doing the exact thing you said you were not going to do. And maybe you are also like me in that you get something in your head and instead of finding a healthy balance you go to the extreme and practically kill yourself in the hopes of getting the results you want at literally all costs.
What I am getting at is you can do all the Jillian Boot Camps and go inane on your insanity videos, cut out carbs, gluten, and drink only juice, but none of these things will help you to understand why in the first place you are doing the things you are doing or not doing the things you desire to do.
What you choose to offer yourself in the New Year should allow you to dig deep, be slow and steady and help you change your mind set and attitude. Because what good is a killer body if the person living inside it is rude, negative, insecure or scared.
So for the New Year consider five things:
1. Try adding something to your life that will nourish your soul a bit more.
All that bleeping, shouting, arguing, hitting we accept as normal, is not only imposing violence in us as adults but into our children as well. Choose to step away, and it is as simple as turning off the T.V. and turning on a family conversation.
2. Don’t start a gratitude journal. I love the idea, but to be honest, sharing what you are grateful for with those you love is much more empowering and nurturing for everyone involved. Plus if you have kids it shows them what gratitude really is and for a partner that may not see the light quite yet, may come around sooner than later.
3. Stop with the excuses. My yoga has allowed me to notice the large amount of excuses I was using at one time and now how many the world uses. One thing I have been working on for quite some time is to stop making excuses. Excuses as to why you haven’t been to yoga or why your kids are out of control, why you’re stressed or say you have no time. Realizing my excuses has allowed me to take back responsibility for my life, stop blaming and start living. I don’t get all done I would like but, I know it’s me that can change that, not everyone else.
4. Finally, commit to something. We all have these crazy big plans for the new year, class every day, health harming diets, earlier bed times, no candy for our kids, just to name a few, and the reality is that we just need to commit, and once we commit, realize that we need to start slow in order to find long term results. Few students I have that come three to four times a week started that way initially. Over time they saw value in the classes they were taking and they over time noticed their bodies change as well as their minds and relationships change. And most say it usually just happened without force.
So if you are forcing something in your life I urge you to step back and take a breath because an all or nothing attitude will usually leave you with all stress or nothing left to give.
Re think your plan of action for the new year and consider stepping back before going all in, because is what you are diving into going to help you resolve what the real issue is, and give you the long term happiness? The happiness we all are craving.
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It’s that time of year again where the hustle and bustle of shoppers, parties and concerts fill every moment of free time we have. I am familiar with the catch phrase Christmas Creep and in driving home from a Thanksgiving dinner we passed Wal-Mart and looking over my husband and I see the entire parking lot of the local store plum full with no room to spare. I glance at the clock and see the time 8:06pm and am in amazement that there are this many people thinking about shopping, deals, T.V., tablets, and games they probably don’t need and worst yet, feeling the need to get in their cars on a day to my understanding is about family, thanks and coming together, and they want to spend it at Wal-Mart.
As I get older and continue down my path the more I realize what is important to me, I realize what I truly want and need in life to be happy and it is nothing a Wal-Mart Superstore on the evening of Thanksgiving could ever give me. My yoga practice (my life) has brought me a level of consciousness that to me is irreplaceable and sometimes unexplainable to others. From the second I wake up I notice the bombarding of the message, that what we have isn’t good enough, that there is something better out there than what we have, and it is no surprise that this is amplified at a time in the year that is so not about gifts, and instead we are being sent messages of all sort that we need to get up now and go to a store and buy a gift or else. And in noticing this all, I have also realized that we as a people have adapted this mindset to our lives as well.
I find it interesting that no one seems to ever complain about the brainwashing messages our media sends us, but during the holidays the second we see a bumper sticker, hear a radio ad or overhear someone chatting about how we should keep Christ in Christmas we feel offended, irritated and uncomfortable. From my childhood to today I have noticed a decrease in “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Chanukah” ads and an increase in political correct greetings such as “Happy Holidays”. Really people? Kids can’t even have a Christmas party at school anymore in the fear that a parent might feel offended by the word “Christ-mas”. Weather you believe in Christ or not, weather you follow a certain religion or not, I think we all can agree that no matter what, this season is about family, it’s about giving from the heart, it’s about going outside yourself and realizing that there is someone out there that has less than you and guess what, there is someone out there that has more than you, so what. Because what if Christmas really mean Content-mas, Kind-mas, Forgive-mas, Together-mas.
The day I stopped trying to fit in a box, the day I stopped trying to fit the mold exactly, I was able to learn what faith really meant, what religion was possibly originally designed to do, bring people of like values and beliefs together to create a family. How have we gotten so far away from this?
So if you see me in passing please don’t feel offended if I offer you a Merry Christmas, a Peace be with You, a God Bless or a Happy Chanukah, I have learned over the last several years that when we take something so personal, when we get upset over something so out of context, it is because we ourselves don’t understand it, we ourselves are trying to figure out where we stand, and we ourselves might just be missing the point. I’ve been there, I get it and my hope and prayer is that you are able to get it too. When something is offered from the heart it can never turn bad unless you let it.
Happy Christmas, Merry Holidays, Peace be with you and Happy Chanukah to all!
With the New Year quickly approaching, it is hard not to hear people talking about change and New Year’s resolutions. Typically, people try to use the New Year as an opportunity to break old habits and take on something new. Whether this is how you feel or not, this year, instead of taking on something new, simply let go of your old ways and simplify your life.
Let go and you will discover a new you.1. Clear your closet. We hold on to our wardrobe for all sorts of reasons: lack of funds, memories, status, and sometimes a personal attachment. Seems harmless enough. But there’s emotional clutter that comes with busting closets and basement storage bins of clothes that are simply holding you back and keeping you from a better flow of energy, a new you. Let go of these clothes: a good rule of thumb is that every time you want to go shopping you have to purge a few things; when items are worn, torn and simply falling apart, retire the items to painting clothes, rags or, if in well enough condition, a thrift store.
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We all want it, that feeling, where we are overflowing with so much joy we cannot contain it. In the end, after we scrape away all the fluff of our desires, wants and needs, we all do really want the same thing: JOY. Pure blissful joy; a joy where our hearts sing and dance free from judgment; pure and simple joy.
If yoga does really mean to unite, a uniting coming from the Sanskrit root word yuj, it's important to understand that we're also working to unite with the Universal Consciousness, that which is all encompassing.
This uniting in some ways may have become a new catchphrase in yoga, an assumed understanding that we are one. And if you are like me, it can be difficult to truly understand this yoga without understanding the all-encompassing truth of what yoga is.
If you have ever traveled to India or have met someone from India and have had the ability to have a conversation with them about yoga, you may have discovered something quite astonishing. They laugh and haven’t a clue what you're talking about.
To them yoga is a way of life: do you not breathe every day? Do you not interact with the world around you, eat your food, drink your water? Are you not listening to your body’s daily needs? This is all yoga.
To me, yoga is simply a way to live, a guide to keep me moving forward, not just a once a week asana practice.To read the rest of this article by Hope Zvara visit MindBodyGreen
I love fall weather, as long as I dress for the wind, I love fall weather! There is nothing like the smell of leaves, a cool breeze and for me the aroma of cut pines in my backyard. I find myself lately stopping dead in my tracks to take a moment and breathe in the moment, literally, breathe in the moment. And in that moment, life is just so sweet. I often think about the people who are simply too busy or who haven’t cultivated the means to “stop and smell the roses” and what they are missing out on.
Each day I find myself working to be a better version of myself from the day before. And as I continually work to do this I find myself being reminded that a yogi is not someone who necessarily practices asana two hours every day, but rather someone who understands what the asanas are trying to do for them, understands that a yogic mindset and life style will take you farther than a two hour practice. I am partly saddened at the direction yoga in the West is taking, and find it pivotal to educate thirsty yogis for what the asana really feels like and further more how to truly translate that into their everyday life. Now I want you to know that I am not the world’s greatest yogini, I unfortunately do not have a daily asana practice that one would think is necessary to be a yoga teacher, I make mistakes, I can’t please everyone, I tend to have a late night snack and I sometimes get in a funk that is less than impressive. But that all being said, I am living a life more in the moment that I have ever before, I am more aware, more comfortable in my own skin and have cultivated the means in which I am 99% of the time O.K. with my choices because I know that everything is an opportunity to learn.
And this opportunity is such a sacred one, that when we turn away from it we are the only ones who lose out. The person I once was ran with fear every time something got hard, was judgmental about everyone and their uncle because I was fearful and judgmental of myself and the choices I was making, or to be more exact, the choices I was not making. My fear has turned into compassion for those still turning away from opportunities to be better versions of themselves simply because it was not what they expected, because fear steps in and they liked it better being stuck and feeling crappy about who they are or worse yet, critical about the situation at hand, not really realizing how their actions and reactions have a direct affect on everyone around them.
So, fall is a time in which we “change with the seasons”, where we transform from who we were into who we are; and even though we may not exactly love or even really like who we are right now, we need to be that person in order to become the person we are striving to be. A student told me just yesterday that she is learning how to really live her yoga off the mat, she is really beginning to see the difference between what I continually say on the mat about “honoring the pain but learn to sit through the discomfort”. And she went on to say how she is actually O.K. with the discomfort, knowing it will pass. Simply put, discomfort is a way for us to not be comfortable, because when we are comfortable then we aren’t growing. For many of us, we stop thinking we need to pay attention, we stop working our butts off to be the best version of our selves.
Now that being said I’m not saying you need to be a manic workaholic, but rather continually work to be in the moment, discomfort or not, and remember that this moment will soon pass; just like the trees, you look out your window right now and they have leaves, but tomorrow when you wake up they may not, and yet they are still trees, you don’t judge them and you simply let that moment pass. You are that tree who is learning to be O.K. with how and when your leaves fall.
In this instant, as we move forward and accept life in a more loving, authentic, honest way, know that things get easier, and they feels more effortless. And what I have come to better understand is that our mindset’s change, not so much the trauma or drama that comes, but rather our actions and reactions change and things feel simpler. So my intention for all of my students and reader is that you let your leaves fall more simply and enjoy the surroundings in which this occurs. That you learn to step back and smell the roses and head into the discomfort with your head held high, even if you have to grit your teeth because your ego thinks otherwise. Because the only thing constant in life is change itself.