Beginner Meditation Series Overview

 

By now you have probably heard a lot about meditation.  You may have read about the benefits, the different types of meditation, and possibly the “right” way to do it. You may be too intimidated to try it or perhaps you’ve tried and been so frustrated by your racing thoughts, that you’ve given up.

If you’d like to learn how to meditate in a warm and accepting environment, this series is for you.  I believe I present mindfulness meditation in a simple, direct, and easy to understand way.  The practice of meditation is just that – a practice.  They do not call it mindfulness perfection.  We all have times when we sit and our mind is racing.  As long as we are human, we will have thoughts.  The key is being aware of the thoughts, and then coming back to the awareness of your breath.  Again and again.  

In this series, you will first be guided to find the best posture for your unique body. Finding the right support in order to maintain a straight spine is the first step.  This does not mean full lotus pose.  It might mean reclining.  It could be sitting in a chair.  The exact position is not as important as supporting a straight and open spine.  

Next, we will dive deeply into your breath.  Where can you feel the breath moving in your body?  What we will focus on is strengthening your diaphragmatic breathing. This deep belly breath can be one of the most nourishing exercises you can do for your nervous system. Diaphragmatic breathing can calm the mind quickly when practiced regularly.

The third area we will examine is the energy of your mind.  What is the weather of your mind in this moment?  What are the velocity and intensity of your thoughts?  Can you observe this without judgment?   Your thoughts come and go.  Getting into the laboratory of your mind will help strengthen your mindfulness on and off the cushion.

All the while I will be helping you establish your own personal practice one step at a time.  You already have this ability within you – to breathe diaphragmatically and to be aware of the activity of your mind – and it is free.  In developing your daily meditation practice, you are giving yourself the most precious and priceless gift: the gift of being alive and present for your life.

I hope to see you at the series.

Susan

3-Part Series begins May 5th

Sign up on our workshop page. 

5/2/2018   Tags:  meditation, peace, relaxation, yoga Direct Link

Turn Fear Into Curiosity

 

By Desiree Rumbaugh

Co-author of Fearless After Fifty: How to Thrive With Grace, Grit and Yoga

 


 

In my thirty years of practice, including owning a yoga studio for fifteen years, and my twenty years of traveling the world teaching yoga, I have had the good fortune of meeting and learning from students from diverse backgrounds. One recurrent pattern of thinking that I have often heard is the idea that our yoga practice should decrease in intensity as we get older. Many people feel that they no longer need to push themselves in their practice and they are more and more content to focus on restorative poses and meditation.

 

 

Now that I am nearing the age of 60, I hear and I truly understand these thoughts, and I feel strongly that there is another perspective. In my experience, aging gracefully requires more rather than less exercise. The majority of yoga postures can be therapeutic if we know enough about our anatomy to align ourselves well and engage our muscles during practice. When there is a weakness in the body, it can be strengthened at any age. When there is stiffness, the fascia that holds the muscular patterns can be released. We are never too old to work with this balance of strength and flexibility.

 

When I first took up yoga in my twenties, I learned to practice from a very strong knowledge base of biomechanical alignment. In my fifties, I have added working with physical therapists and a personal trainer. The goal of my practice is simply to feel better. I do this not by avoiding poses that are painful or challenging, but by diving deeper into the question: "why is this hurting me right now?" In my quest for knowledge and with curiosity about my pain, I find answers that heal and new ways to strengthen and stretch that inspire a change in my practice that is always for the better.

 

What we do on our yoga mats can teach us to be more inquisitive and then apply this reflection to our life off the mat. When we have conflict anywhere in our lives we can get curious and move towards the situation rather than backing away in fear. The end result of our courageous curiosity will be growth and healing.

 

Join me in April for more on transforming fear into curiosity. Bring your back, knee, foot, hip, shoulder, neck and wrist issues to this workshop. Explore all the possibilities, learn some new strengthening exercises and bring the passion back to your mat. Be willing to blow away the fear. Let's explore together and see what we can learn.

 

Please join me at Total Body yoga April 6-8, 2018

Www.Desireerumbaugh.com

 

Desiree is bringing a special guest, her husband Andrew Rivin to co-teach!

3/21/2018   Tags:  desiree rumbaugh, fear, yoga, aging gracefully Direct Link

My Definition of Aging Gracefully

 

By Desiree Rumbaugh

co-author of Fearless After Fifty: How To Thrive With Grace, Grit and Yoga

 

 

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” - Mahatma Gandhi

As I embark on my 60th year of life, one of my favorite sentiments from the masterful Gandhi are words to live by. As the natural process of aging keeps me on my toes, I find that growing older gracefully is a practice that takes presence and an open, positive mindset.

 

Here are principles I apply in my own life:

 

Redefine your thoughts on exercise. Let go of comparing your present body to your former one. Be open to new possibilities. Be okay with the inevitable changes by learning to live in the present moment. You may stop running in your early thirties and take it up again in your fifties. You may begin weight training or cycling in your sixties and you may fall in love for the first time with Pilates in your seventies. There are endless possibilities in life if we remain open. Having a regular and very intelligent yoga practice that is steady and strong will make all of your physical activities more sustainable. It is never too late to stimulate our muscle growth, which helps to stabilize our joints and yoga keeps those muscles fluid and healthy.

 

Have friends of all ages. In addition to enjoying time with your peers, having friends on either side of the age spectrum adds perspective in both directions. Learn from the experiences of others and share your own wisdom with those who ask. Keep up with our fast-paced ever-changing world and you will never be bored. It’s fine to appreciate the “good old days”, but avoid getting lost in the fear of change by over-reminiscing or romanticizing the past.

 

Keep a beginner’s mind. Learning something brand new is going to take some effort and you will have to be okay with the beginner’s learning curve, but in the end, the growth you experience each step of the way will make it all worthwhile. Most people spend a large portion of their adult years perfecting one particular skill set through their work. While this leads to mastery and is typically the basis for a satisfying career or hobby, it also takes up a lot of our time, preventing us from learning anything new. Keep your eyes open for a brand new opportunity that may present itself at any moment and be ready to shift gears.

 

Continue to create your life. The moment we stop creating our life is when life begins to happen to us instead of through us. Of course, there will be times when there are changes that are out of our control. We may even become dependent on others as we age, or we may lose our ability to set our mind on a new track. If we are still able to direct our own mind, then there are possibilities of creatively working with our circumstances to live the best life possible.

 

We are looking for wise and courageous people of all ages who want to live fully in their bodies and minds. Please join me at Total Body Yoga  April 6-8, 2018.

www.desireerumbaugh.com

 

 

Desiree is bringing a special guest, her husband Andrew Rivin to co-teach!

2/5/2018   Tags:  Direct Link

TBY Teacher Feature: Laura Mills

 

 

If you’ve ever taken a class with Laura Mills, you know that she has a warm demeanor and a thoughtful and well-rounded teaching style that is a tribute to her years of experience and knowledge. Laura started teaching at Total Body Yoga in April of 2010 and considers the studio to be her yoga home. Laura heads the Intro to Yoga program (open to beginners and regular practitioners alike) at TBY which focuses on multiple facets of the yoga practice from etiquette, lessons about the props, philosophy and, of course, the poses. Laura says she draws her sense of purpose as a teacher from daily life and her family. 

 

Start by telling us a little about yourself and your family.

 

My life’s greatest joy is undoubtedly my 7-year-old daughter, Heather, whom I adopted in 2012 after a long period of sadness and waiting.  I am beyond grateful to be her mom every day, and she is my constant reminder that good can and does arise from grief and pain.

 

In addition to Heather and myself, my household currently consists of an 18-year-old cat named Onyx.  Most of our family and friends are local, so we are able to see loved ones often.  When it’s just me at home (and Onyx is sleeping), I’m usually either working on my computer at my non-yoga job, cleaning something, or napping.  When I have extra free time, I read or go for a walk; I absolutely love books, and I love being outside in nature. And as far as guilty pleasures?  Wine and the Science Channel...often at the same time after Heather goes to bed. I also adore classic rock.      

 

You’ve been teaching and practicing for quite some time. What first drew you to yoga?

 

I had always been at least a little curious about yoga.  Then, in the summer of 2007, a friend suggested I try it as a way of helping with stress.  I was in a really difficult place in my life--in the previous years I had suffered two miscarriages and then undergone unsuccessful fertility treatments, and in the summer of 2007 my then-husband and I were already one year into a long wait to adopt from China.  My physical and mental health were suffering terribly.  I found a class that met once a week through a local adult education program, and by the third class, I was hooked.  I loved how I felt while I was on my mat; for the first time in a long time, I felt physically strong and capable and mentally calm.  When that first 8-week session ended, I immediately sought out additional yoga opportunities.   

 

How has your perspective on the importance of practice changed over the years?

 

Honestly, I don’t think it’s changed too much.  From the beginning, “practice” to me has been how yoga meshes with my life, both on and off the mat.  It has always been about more than the physical poses themselves….  In my earliest days of practicing I regularly attended classes, occasionally practiced at home, and sometimes even just sat and breathed.  I still do those things, but in a much different order: these days I regularly just sit and breathe, occasionally practice at home, and even sometimes--although not as often as I’d like--I attend a class.  I guess what’s changed isn’t my perspective as much as my needs.  Today, I’m in a much different place than I was when I began my practice.  Today I have a 7-year-old and an almost-full-time job (in addition to teaching yoga), plus I’m healthier and happier than I’ve been in a long time.

 

  

What inspires you both as a student and as a teacher of yoga?

 

My biggest inspiration is my day-to-day life.  I find that when I’m a student I always bring something to the mat, whether it’s gratitude or joy or sadness or fear….  And the act of being a student helps me process those “somethings” so I can take them back into my life off the mat with a clearer perspective.  When I’m a teacher, the vast majority of the ideas behind my classes comes from personal experiences--again: gratitude, joy, sadness, etc.--that I have off the mat and in which I notice a yogic lesson.  It’s amazing, actually, how much the teachings of yoga show themselves in and around the home, or the office, or even Target or the eye doctor.  As a teacher I hope to help students realize that.

 

You have a long history of being an educator. Tell us about your past and present life as a school teacher.

 

My dad told me, when I was a teenager, that he thought I’d make a great teacher.  It’s always been my calling, I suppose….  I received my undergraduate degree in Biology and my graduate degree in Secondary Education, and I started my professional life as a high school science teacher.  I taught different levels of Biology and Chemistry.  For a few years it was fine, but gradually I realized I didn’t want to do that kind of teaching for the rest of my life.  I left the high school setting and spent a number of years trying other things (teaching yoga among them!).  Then in early 2016--after a complete overhaul of my life in the wake of divorce--I became an adjunct instructor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, in the College of Applied Health Sciences.  This is pretty much my dream job, as it allows me to dive back into biology and other sciences while assisting with various courses, plus I am, thankfully, able to do most of it online from home, which is a plus as the mom of a young child.  And starting in January of 2018, instead of an adjunct I will be an official faculty member, a Clinical Assistant Professor.  The work will be similar, but with more responsibility.  I’m thrilled to have this opportunity and also amazed at how life has evolved to bring me to this place.     

  

 

You and I were recently having a deep discussion about the ups and downs of being human. What are some of your most cherished ups in life and how have the downs helped you to grow?

 

My most cherished up is being a mom to my daughter, Heather.  As I mentioned before, it took me a very long time to become a parent--10 years exactly, from the time I felt I was ready until the time Heather came home.  Every day, no matter what kind of day either one of us has had, I feel profound gratitude for her and for the road that brought us uniquely together.  

 

My second most cherished up is the way I rebuilt my life after divorce.  When I first found myself on my own back in 2014, I was lost and terribly scared.  Just about everything--from my time with Heather, to my health insurance, to my bank account--had to change, and change in big ways.  But little by little, with the support of my family (including my TBY family) and friends, I navigated my way through the process.  Today life is much different, but it’s much better in that I am aware of my own resilience, strength, and capabilities.  Some days I can’t even believe I’ve come this far.  And I know without those downs I never would have had the chance to prove myself to...myself.  

 

When it comes to self care, what  are some non-negotiables that help you to maintain balance and health in daily life?

 

Over the years I’ve realized the importance of rest.  It’s funny, because (my parents tell me) as a baby I hardly ever slept and never napped.  During my teenage and college years I was an overachiever and multitasker for whom sleep was a last priority.  But as an adult, particularly after I was diagnosed with lupus in 2009, and after Heather came home in 2012--I’ve discovered that my day goes much more smoothly when I’m well-rested.  It may seem obvious to most people, but to me, this is a relatively new discovery.  These days I try to maintain a regular sleep schedule as often as possible, and I also take naps.  Lots of naps.  

 

Another non-negotiable, which I guess goes along with rest, is alone time.  Sometimes I just need to be on my own, by myself.  It’s nothing against anyone, just that a lot of social interaction depletes me quite a bit, regardless of who I’m with.  When I am able to have time by myself I re-energize--I nap, yes, but I also read a lot (I love to read), as well as go for long walks.  Often I just sit and breathe.  These solo activities give me great joy, and they inspire me to be a better woman, mother, teacher, student, girlfriend, friend, citizen, and human being overall.  

 

Laura’s Schedule:

Tuesday 6:00am Sunrise Yoga

Tuesday 1:00pm Level 1

Tuesday 4:00pm Level 1

Friday 1:00pm Basics

 

For Intro to Yoga Information:

https://www.totalbodyyoga.com/intro-to-yoga.asp


1/3/2018   Tags:  Direct Link

Meditation For Beginners @TBY

Beginner Meditation Series Overview

by Susan Short

 

By now you have probably heard a lot about meditation.   You may have read about the benefits, the different types of meditation, and possibly the “right” way to do it.  You may be too intimidated to try it or perhaps you’ve tried and been so frustrated by your racing thoughts, that you’ve given up.

If you’d like to learn how to meditate in a warm and accepting environment, this series is for you.  I believe I present mindfulness meditation in a simple, direct, and easy to understand way.  The practice of meditation is just that – a practice.  They do not call it mindfulness perfection.  We all have times when we sit and our mind is racing.  As long as we are human, we will have thoughts.  The key is being aware of the thoughts, and then coming back to the awareness of your breath.  Again and again. 

In this series you will first be guided to find the best posture for your unique body.  Finding the right support in order to maintain a straight spine is the first step.  This does not mean full lotus pose.  It might mean reclining.  It could be sitting in a chair.  The exact position is not as important as supporting a straight and open spine. 

Next, we will dive deeply into your breath.  Where can you feel the breath moving in your body?  What we will focus on is strengthening your diaphragmatic breathing.  This deep belly breath can be one of the most nourishing exercises you can do for your nervous system.  Diaphragmatic breathing can calm the mind quickly when practiced regularly.

The third area we will examine is the energy of your mind.  What is the weather of your mind in this moment?  What are the velocity and intensity of your thoughts?  Can you observe this without judgment?   Your thoughts come and go.  Getting into the laboratory of your mind will help strengthen your mindfulness on and off the cushion.

All the while I will be helping you establish your own personal practice one step at a time.  You already have this ability within you – to breathe diaphragmatically and to be aware of the activity of your mind – and it is free.  In developing your daily meditation practice, you are giving yourself the most precious and priceless gift: the gift of being alive and present for your life.

I hope to see you at the series.

Susan

 

Saturdays beginning October, 14th @11:30am (runs through 10/28)

Check out our workshop page to sign up!

9/29/2017   Tags:  Direct Link

Being Body Positive

renoir nu de dos.jpg

Renoir - 1917

 

by Stephanie Rehor

One of the most ironic things about yoga is that it was not created to serve the body. In Sanskrit, the word asana means seat, meaning the poses are a preparation for meditation. This connotation often gets lost, in part, in American culture because the mainstream media classifies yoga as another form of exercise that aids weight loss and a so-called better body.

According to ancient teachings, yoga was never about losing weight. This discipline is about honoring and accepting ourselves, imperfections and all. In fact, yoga is inherently body positive. Some critics say this type of thinking contributes to the obesity epidemic in the United States. To the contrary, many studies show the stigma of being overweight has a detrimental affect on the human psyche. Many yoga teachers (myself included) will tell you, the best way to stay healthy is to be fully present and appreciative of our bodies, which is a form of self-love. Here’s how I put this into practice both on and off the mat. I hope you will feel inspired to adopt these healthy habits:

 

  1. Redefine health. One thing that has helped me be more body positive is redefining what it means to be healthy. There is a perceived notion that fat people need to lose weight in order to be healthy. This idea is very problematic. Health is a complex topic and people of many different shapes and sizes can be healthy or not healthy. The stigma of being overweight and the discrimination that inevitably follows is far more damaging than the actual number on the scale. Being shamed about losing weight can lead to anxiety and, in some cases, eating disorders. For me, having a healthy body image is a practice of tuning in to how I feel, respecting myself, eating well, exercising to feel good and managing my stress. I realize that the ramifications of shaming or blaming myself are profound. This is why I choose not to diet and I do not own a scale. Human beings come in all shapes and sizes. Body weight is nothing more than gravitational relation to the earth and should have little to do with health and self-worth.

                                  

  1. Beware of the Inner Critic.  Instead of doing battle with my body, I’ve learned to make peace with my body. Negative body image is virtually non-existent for most children. Pre-adolescent children are inherently body positive. As we get older, our inner critic starts to develop. By the time puberty kicks in, most of have developed body shaming thoughts. These thoughts likely develop because our society has placed such importance on appearances and has such a high beauty standard that such images have affected us from a very young age. This is why I, as an adult, have developed an awareness of inner critic. When I hear a voice in my head that is not of my highest self, I can redirect my thinking. When I stay present, I can pinpoint them and replace them with other, more encouraging thoughts. It takes a while, but eventually body shaming thoughts grow weaker and body positive thoughts become the new normal.

 

  1. Know and Love Your Body.  For me, the best way to reconnect with my body is by hitting the mat. Negative body image is often a result of feeling disconnected from the physical self. It is not until you become fully present, that you can release old habits that create shaming thoughts. Practicing the postures, meditation and breathwork, strengthens the awareness of the connection between the mind and body.  Yoga helps us experience our bodies with compassion and patience. It’s a process that takes time, and I am grateful to have developed a sense of self love and body positivity through yoga. I believe it is this mentality that will ultimately end diet culture and, in my opinion, that can’t happen soon enough.

 

The mat is a wonderful place to start being more body positive, yet it doesn’t end there. We need to adopt an attitude of self-love and bring it into the world. We yogis can be pioneers in shifting the paradigm of this weight-loss obsessed culture into a more accepting, loving, and free society. We need only to begin with ourselves.

The Embody Love Movement is coming to TBY on September 30th and October 1st! Read more and sign up at:
https://www.totalbodyyoga.com/workshop.asp?event=43104

 

8/29/2017   Tags:  Direct Link

Teacher Feature: Mary Schooley

TBY Teacher Feature
Mary Schooley

By Julia Jonson

The room is always brighter once Mary Schooley enters. This yoga teacher’s lovely disposition matches her skilled class sequencing. Mary went through the House of Shanti teacher training program led by Lourdes Paredes and Pam Udell and continues to study and grow as a teacher. Mary incorporates her knowledge of yoga and essential oils in all of her classes, along with words of wisdom borne of her own life experience.

J: We all know you as the friendly, and direct yoga teacher who offers a smart, challenging sequence with a loving approach. Some students may not know that you were diagnosed with breast cancer and you beat it (thank goodness!). Describe how this journey through healing transformed you as a teacher and as a person.

M: I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2013. It was a shock that really rocked my world. It was as if the ultimate curveball had been thrown my way, yet I was prepared to hit that ball thanks in part to yoga. My yoga mat was my safe space. It was like a familiar warm blanket and a place to heal. During my practice time, I could connect with my breath, rest and give thanks for my body and help it to heal and recover. I believe that, because I had a consistent practice leading up to my diagnosis, I was prepared to handle my cancer treatments with greater strength and peace. To me, being diagnosed with cancer and going through treatment was a season of life. Much like in a vinyasa yoga class, life is full of constant change. It ebbs and flows, and offers challenging poses and ones that are restful and restorative. Your  blog on the TBY website from April, 2017 resonates with me as I move through each season of my life. I have to be like water to flow through the obstacles.

J: Your life is about to change again with your first-born going off to college. Describe family life and explain how your own yoga practice helps you in the role of wife and mom.

M: Yes, indeed, my family will be going through a big change soon. This is more vinyasa-style living for me, as it is my intention to proceed through the changes skillfully with both wisdom and heart. My family is truly my greatest joy! I am blessed to be mom to three great kids and I have a wonderfully supportive husband. My mat time teaches me remain present through the flow of life. Together, as a family, we learned during my year long cancer journey, how quickly the bad times can pass. And through that, I realized just how much faster the good times can race by. That has really helped me become aware of the really special moments but also how to create excitement in everyday life. It is important to hug a little longer, to listen a little closer, and to live a little fuller. I believe that things come to us when we need to receive. The way I did the physical poses changed significantly during cancer treatment. I was so grateful for the stillness I found during my yoga sessions.. The first days back to my mat after each surgery and during my hardest chemo days were simply holding child's pose. It was a blessing just  finding my breath and being in the energy of a community of people that didn't question my efforts or even demand more than I could do in any given pose.

J: When did the “yoga bug” bite you and why did you decide to start teaching?

M: This question makes me laugh because I was very resistant to trying yoga. My impression of yoga 10 years ago was people sitting still and meditating. I was a stay-at-home mom and my daily workouts were at 4:30am on my elliptical cross trainer before my young children woke up. The thought of sitting still was not something I could ever imagine. When my youngest turned 3 and started preschool, I took my first yoga class and it was at Total Body Yoga. I would have been better served in a basics class, but the only thing that worked for my schedule was a level 3 class. I tried it and had no idea what I was doing, yet something about that first experience hooked me. Shortly after that, I purchased my own mat (commitment!) and started my regular, and more appropriate leveled, yoga practice. I fell in love with all things yoga and was hungry to learn more. In 2012 I embarked on teacher training. I’m so grateful and honored to be teaching in the same space where I began my yoga practice. 

J: Who or what inspires you to continually keep progressing or advancing as an instructor?

M: There is no question that what inspires me to continue my own practice and progress as a teacher is the TBY yoga community. I feel honored by the presence of the people who show up in classes that I lead. I’m equally inspired when taking classes as a student by everyone around me. We are each on our own yoga journey. Whether it’s as instructor or participant, we come together and support each other, through the flow of practice, through our  intentions, and breath by breath. There is such a powerful energy that radiates in a yoga class and a yoga community. I find this energy to be intoxicating and contagious and that is what inspires me.

J: Yoga is not your only healing modality. I was privileged to experience your talents as a raindrop therapist first hand and just loved it.  Describe your pathway into the land of essential oils and hands on healing.

M: Thank you! I discovered essential oils when I needed them most. The oils provided emotional healing after my cancer recovery. Similar to my yoga journey, my hunger to learn more about how oils support the body’s natural healing process when paired with hands on healing made me an avid student of aromatherapy and healing touch energy work. I am currently studying to become a Certified Clinical Aromatherapist. This allows me to work with the healing properties of essential oils. I will eventually take an exam that will make me a Registered Aromatherapist with a certificate in Raindrop Technique. I look forward to sharing this modality of essential oils healing and energy work with our TBY community (details on appointment scheduling below). 

J: What do you think about the continued rise in popularity of yoga in the United States and how are we, as teachers, responsible to keep the tradition alive, but also evolve as teachers?

M: I'm really excited that yoga continues to rise in popularity here in the states. As teachers and students of yoga, I think it is our responsibility to welcome and honor each person who delves into this type of self study. Every practitioner shows up for a distinct purpose and has something they are seeking. Whether it’s healing, pain relief, community, relaxation, connection; physical activity or whatever the reason, it seems most who begin practice receive something greater than first imagined from this body, mind, spirit discipline.  

J: Tell us about “off the mat Mary.” What do you do in your down-time -- or share a little known fact or two.

M: As Mary off the mat, I love watching my kids discover and live their passions, just like I am discovering and living my own.

Mary’s teaching schedule:

*Sunday - Restorative 6:00pm
*Tuesday - Level 1 8:00am
Thursday - Level 1 8:00am
*new class times for Mary

To schedule an appointment for a healing service with Mary at Wild Lavender Clinic, call 847-302-4602 or email maryschooley.yoga@gmail.com. The website, which is currently under construction is: www.wildlavenderclinic.com. To see how to incorporate essential oils into your daily routine https://yldist.com/maryschooley/

7/26/2017   Tags:  Direct Link

Cultivating Inclusiveness in Yoga

INCLUSIVENESS.png


 

By Stephanie Rehor

 

Anyone who is a yogi probably knows the difference between being in a yoga community and being a part of the “yoga scene.” For me, I was forced to learn the hard way. After 6 years of practicing yoga, I found myself attending more mainstream yoga events, purchasing overpriced yoga equipment, exclusively participating in vigorous classes and doing all I could to shove myself into the role of a western yogi. The ego took over as I became obsessed with the physicality of the poses. I pushed my body to the extreme and no matter what I did my skill level was still not up to par with any of the images the media fed me. While my physical practice wasn’t quite up to standards, my emotional practice never came close. When I expressed any sort of emotion to the world, any sort of intensity, it was met with resistance because “I thought you did yoga?” and “chill out, go do yoga” and “I’m surprised you would react that way because you do yoga”. These statements are not only emotionally manipulative but it becomes draining and invalidating to be constantly shoved into a box. All of these experiences led me to the realization that yoga stereotypes create exclusivity that harms this community.

 

The way things are now, we can be yogis as long as we are not overweight, have no mental illness, not disabled, not queer, trans, poor, black, or anything else that deviates from the “norm”.  Western yoga stereotypes keep this community from being diverse and steers people away from something that could be life-changing for them. The danger of the yoga brand is that it creates an idea that being a yogi has less to do with how someone is experiencing life and more to do with how they look, what they are wearing or their level of flexibility. Yoga is a birthright. Every person who is alive should be able to experience yoga. Whether someone is doing a physical practice or not is irrelevant to the fact that they are worthy of peace.


Peacefulness is a wonderful effect that the poses have on the body but it doesn’t end there. Yoga is more than just asana. Yoga is reflective self-care. This type of self-care not only offers relaxation but a deeper look into one’s patterns and inner experiences. It works to rewire our thoughts and actions so that we may live in a more positive, honest, and fulfilling way. People who are oppressed and have trauma are in desperate need of reflective self-care. However, we are fed images that lead us to believe that yoga is only for white, able-bodied, privileged individuals. As yogis we need to be mindful about who is absent from the space. We need to look around to see who is missing and start creating a space that is inclusive. How do we do this? Awareness is the first step, but after that we start with ourselves. Begin inviting a little more ease into the practice and drop the idea that we have to look, act, or be a certain way to feel included. If we want to experience growth we must reject the falsehood and pressure of societal expectations and live in truth. Through self-love, understanding, and presence we can create a community that not only welcomes diversity – but also celebrates it.

4/11/2017   Tags:  inclusiveness; all are welcome; yoga; stephanie rehor Direct Link

Go with the Flow

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By Julia Jonson


To go with the flow, to be adaptable and to to roll with the punches seem to come so easily for some. As we've all experienced, the random and dynamic nature of life make it impossible to be prepared at a moment's notice all of the time. Because life will inevitably throw curve balls, adopting a more yielding way of being does a body and mind good.


Vinyasa, a term used in yoga classes to describe an intelligent way of flowing (linking breath and movement), is a concept that can be directly applied to your daily existence. Vinyasa refers to gradual sequences that unfold with an inherent intelligence and accord. In Sanskrit, the word is derived from nyasa, which means to place, and the prefix vi, meaning in a special way. Vinyasa can also mean wise progression, or an approach that takes a practitioner from one point and skillfully lands them in the next. In essence, vinyasa could be viewed as a symbolic metaphor for life. When we practice putting our trust in instinct, garnering wisdom and learning from our experiences (both on and off the mat), we allow energy to flow more freely so that we may thrive.


Challenging transitions in class serve inform you about where and how you need to move to heal in your own life. Do you ruminate over transitions and life's unavoidable obstacles? Most of us do! A powerful metaphor for being adaptable is that of a mountain stream. Even when the stream encounters obstacles, it adjusts effortlessly and keeps flowing forward. If we can be like the moving water, then we will find that life is decidedly less stressful, thus sparking the process of healing. Yoga requires that we cultivate an awareness that links each action to the next—one breath at a time.


Vinyasa, which is not a style of yoga, but a pattern of flow present in all yoga traditions, is a reminder that constant change is simply a normal part of life. Therefore moving skillfully and in a wise way on the mat can assist us in proceeding skillfully with wisdom and heart with any action in life.


May it ever be so that you embody a life where energy flows more freely, may you follow your heart, be yourself and go with your inner flow.

4/5/2017   Tags:  vinyasa flow yoga julia jonson Direct Link

Inner Growth

By Thomas Tiernan


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“We are all broken, that’s how the light gets in.” -Ernest Hemingway

 

Personal growth is often a destructive process. The dread of facing our own fears can lead to a vicious cycle of avoidance. Paradoxically, when you learn how to stop running from life’s inevitable problems, and mindfully face them head-on, you will find you are in greater control.  

 

Your body, your mind and your surroundings are ever changing. It’s easy to apply labels of like or dislike to what’s happening both inside and around you. It is human nature to avoid what we don’t like and gravitate toward what we find pleasing. However, if we are willing to remain present, and not push away what we label as bad or difficult, we are then able to see past the pain and into the potential.  

 

We are often taught to do what we can to avoid fear, rather than working through it. It may seem easier to resort to using alcohol, drugs, sex, food or any other activity that temporarily allows us to feel good. This type of avoidance adds layers of suffering that, when unresolved, will likely grow and perhaps even snowball. Learning to embrace dark times teaches us to work with the pain and see obstacles and woes for what they really are: potential growth opportunities.

 

Working with our inner pain takes us to the source of suffering so that it can be dealt with directly. Self reflection and meditation help us to move past what’s keeping us down, rather than masking or burying our hurts. The seemingly simple acts of sitting down, closing your eyes and having awareness of breath begins a journey of inward healing. Over time and with regular practice, meditation creates new neurological pathways in the brain that usher in new ideas, clarity and a deep understanding of why we are suffering in the first place. Practice paves the way for a more joy filled life.

 

Meditators are not exempt from the ups and downs of life, but taking the time to explore your inner world will most certainly make you less reactive and move positive. Then, instead of reaching for a vice, it may become easier to choose instead to close your eyes and turn within.

 

There can be no light without darkness. We must learn to see moments of discomfort as doorways to beautiful growth, not insurmountable walls. Just as a caterpillar moves inward, facing darkness and suffering to emerge as a butterfly, we humans are capable of turning inward to find what has been there all along; the Divine Soul.


In the words of the beloved Goswami Kriyananda, “meditate, meditate, meditate.  Meditate daily and you will come to discover two truths: who you are and what you are becoming.”

 

Thomas teaches meditation every Tuesday at 5:00pm. He's also leading a FREE/Dontation Meditation Workshop on Saturday, March 18th at 2:00pm.

2/20/2017   Tags:  Direct Link