By Laura Mills
Earlier this week I attended one of TBY's Restorative Yoga classes. I don't often practice Restorative, but this particular day I happened to be at the studio at just the right time. I love how I feel after a Restorative class, and I know I would definitely benefit from more frequent practice of it. But given a choice between Restorative Yoga and a more-quickly-moving Vinyasa flow, I opt for Vinyasa most of the time. As someone who can barely sit still even when tired, the thought of holding any pose longer than a few breaths doesn't thrill me and the thought of practicing supported, long-held poses for an hour or more actually intimidates me quite a bit.
But I suppose this is just where an opportunity for real yoga arises, since Restorative Yoga invites me to nudge myself just outside my well-established comfort zone. It asks me to open a little bit more than usual, both physically and mentally, and to balance my own practice with a style that soothes in an entirely different way. Yoga as whole is, after all, all about openness and balance, and the way I feel after a Restorative class shows me Iím on the right track.
By Laura Mills
Right now I am sitting at my kitchen table in front of my computer, having just finished my cereal, drinking coffee, listening to classical music. The patio door is open and I’m looking into my yard, and I’m hearing the chirps of crickets and birds. Of course, not every moment of my life is this easily sweet; just this morning before breakfast I dusted the living room, swept the kitchen, and fed and cleaned up after my cats. Soon enough, I’ll head back upstairs to get ready for work. But right now, in this moment, I am exactly where I want to be.
We all experience snippets of life like this in which the immediate circumstances just seem right. We are content to breathe and feel and be without immediately moving on to something else. We think, “Ah, so THIS is happiness.” Our challenge, I believe, as I discuss so often with other yogis, is to nurture the contentment of these moments and apply it to the times when life isn’t so accommodating. Our yoga practices help; with yoga, we encourage our bodies, minds and spirits towards lasting and perfectly balanced peace.
But in the meantime, we relish the peace that comes easily. We sigh, take a deep breath, and give thanks.
By Laura Mills
My adulthood so far has consisted of two phases: “Before Yoga” and “With Yoga.” In the first phase I worked a fine job and maintained my home life and body in the way I thought best for me. The plan worked, for a while, but by my late-twenties I had wedged myself into a meltdown between grief and confusion. In its midst, yoga seemed like something worth trying…and thus began the second phase. Since then, I’ve learned what changes to make and how to make them, as well as how to coexist with all aspects of my life (even those that didn’t turn out the way I originally wanted). I’ve also learned to honor myself ALWAYS as a unique and beautiful being.
Whether or not a yogi’s story involves major life alterations, at some level the practice changes all of us. Even if we only try yoga because it looks fun, or we want to someday balance on our hands, the practice leaves us in a place different from the one in which we began. I consider all the yogi stories I’ve heard since I started my own practice: among many others, stories involving stress reduction and recovery from tragedy or illness; stories of yoga as a hobby, as cross-training for other sports, as a component of an overall fitness program; stories about yoga feeling good, teaching people about themselves, and enabling them to meet their spirituality. I love yogi stories. To me they represent the tremendous spectrum of human experience and the fact that, no matter who we are or where we come from, we all revolve around the same amazing center.
Password: Effort Ease
By Laura Mills
Technology-loving friends chuckle at my techno-phobia. I present a classic case: I understand next to nothing about finer online search strategies and the fancy ins-and-outs of social networking. I longingly remember my box of cherished cassette tapes whenever I attempt to download a new song. As time has passed I’ve found myself farther behind, and I’ve struggled with balancing adaptation to technology with acceptance of my jitters. On one hand I want to keep up with the world, but on the other I’m frustrated that as soon I acclimate to one technological marvel a new, more advanced one appears. (As I type this, my computer is downloading automatic updates and my security software is scanning. Yikes!)
Happily, though, I find encouragement in the yogic idea of combining effort with ease. On our mats as well as off, we are called to find the point at which we have strength and softness, the place at which we can strive as well as let go. The gurus teach us to breathe through sensations until we reach our edge, but then we relax and open to the reality of what exists for us in the pose—or, off our mats, the reality of what exists for us in the circumstance. Easier said than done, I know, but we learn from our yoga practices with time. And with time, just like in our yoga practices, we travel deeper.
We already know the way.
THE PERSON WITH THE MOST POSES DOESN’T WIN ANYTHING
April 11, 2011. Change is happening all around us. And it’s easy to convince ourselves to go faster and do more, collect more in order to feel like we can control the changes happening. But at the end of the day, end of class, end of our life: the person with the most poses doesn’t win anything more than anyone else. The same can be said of life. If we insist on speeding up and collecting more work hours like we collect poses or we focus on doing more and faster we won’t get anything in particular for our super human efforts. We need not push or shove or pull at change but learn how to get along with it keeping our hand on the tiller so to speak but without it letting it speed us up into hysteria or confusion.
Slowing down in sanskrit is SHANI.
And science tells us straight out that our brains function at a faster frequency than our bodies. It’s like being in the same car with two radio stations dialed. The noise of listening to two different types of music simultaneously can give anyone a headache. This is what is made more obvious the more stressed out we are. Our minds get faster and faster, our bodies more tired and slow.
Yoga is that practice of bringing things into balance and tuning our dials. Chapter 2.46 in the yoga sutras talks about this as sthira and sukha this balance between effort and letting go, doing and being, stability and freedom, steadiness and sweetness. If the mind is spinning wildly then we come to the mat to slow it down, shani dude. And if the body needs to energize we learn to move through poses. Yoga dials us into the same radio station and the breath is that link to slow down the mind and encourage the body away from inertia. Mindful moving helps us leave in a sweet state of SHANI.
Today we used balancing poses to help us focus the mind more quickly and get our bodies going straight from the start. And by the end you could feel the effect of the practice. Savasana was sweeter than ever. Ah yes! Mind and Heart and Body as one again. Love yourself, love your day, love your life! Silvia
Chandra (The Moon), Michael Mandrell and Benjy Wertheimer
Child's Eyes (Jenny's Song), scott Cossu
The Hill, Markéta Irglová
Big Medicine, Mari Boine
Lumière [MAIN], Blue Scholars
Nungabunda, Ganga Giri
Grid Lok'd, Govindas
Diarabi, Issa Bagayogo
Pitchblack Darkness (feat. Reazun, Paradox), Kyteman
One Moment More, Mindy Smith
Wonderwall, Ryan Adams
Wash Away, Joe Purdy
Samba Sadashiva, Donna De Lory
LOVE LIKE HAPPINESS IS CONTAGIOUS
February 21, 2011 To be happy is DEEP WORK, it is not surface stuff. And the reality of yoga is that it helps us explore ourselves to find out as Anthony DeMello writes, "there is not a single moment in our life when we do not have everything we need to be happy."
This concept of already having the life we love reminds me of one of my favorites quotes from the book Immunity to Change “Happiness is really freedom from unhappiness.” So join me in softening our expectations so we can find the:
- Freedom to be happier than ever before
- Freedom to try new things
- Freedom to meet new people
- Freedom to make happy failures
- Freedom to not play it all so safe
- Freedom to do the unexpected
- Freedom to just see what happens
In 1948 a study began known as the Framingham Heart Study. It was the most comprehensive of its kind. Now 60 plus years later scientists have studied other aspects beyond just heart disease. One of their findings is related to happiness theory. And of the factors studied a key part is that happiness is being connected to other people. We experience happiness through social connections. And therefore are very much influenced by clusters of other people around us. Check this out: a change in one person effects you and all in the cluster, your probability for increased happiness improves 15% if your most immediate friend is happy, 10% if a friend of your friend is happy, and so on until four degrees of separation.
They are figuring out and measuring what yogis have known for thousands of years: happiness is contagious. And of course love is our expression of happiness so Love is Contagious. Today set yourself free to love more, make it viral. Love everyone, starting with you. Love yourself more, love your day, love your life! Silvia
PS When you need to create more space for love try this gratitude breath meditation.
Inhale: I welcome happiness,
Exhale: I am grateful
Inhale: I welcome inspiration
Exhale: I am grateful
Inhale: I welcome love
Exhale: I am grateful
Inhale: I welcome hope
Exhale: I am grateful
BALANCED LIVING IS NOT PERFECTION
February 14, 2011. Day 5 of Love Blogging 21 days in 2011. Each chakra relates to specific spiritual, emotional, psychological and physical aspects of ourselves. These can become blocked and as a result a chakra can become either deficient or excessive and therefore imbalanced. Practicing poses that correspond to each chakra can release these blocks and clear the path to more balanced living. Today our focus is on balance and we practiced balance poses like tree, warrior 3, crane and even nurtured the balanced point in a Warrior 2 pose so neither foot is bearing more or less weight that the other.
From this we discovered that Balance is not hard to find. But it is certainly challenging to maintain. “We can be sure that the greatest hope for maintaining equilibrium in the face of any situation rests within ourselves.” Francis J. Braceland. The work of balance is that of the 4th chakra (in the middle of the 7 chakras). This is our heart chakra that when healthy and in balance helps us to maintain balance between our role as the lover and the beloved. For in yogic practice we are the one doing the loving and the one receiving the loving. If one doesn't know how to love oneself then it is impossible to love another person. We have to know the giving/receiving within our own hearts before experiencing it in relationship with the world. The key thing to know about balance is that it is NOT perfection. Love is messy, and falling out of a balance pose is just like losing our balance in life. We have the choice to get back up and try again and again. So on this Valentine's Day please do yourself a favor stop asking perfection of yourself or another person. Instead wake up to how great life is right now and how wonderful you are!
"Why wait for your awakening?
The moment your eyes are open,
sieze the day. Would you hold
back when the Beloved beckons?
"No, I can't step across the
threshold." you say, eyes
downcast. "I'm not worthy.
I'm afraid. I'm not perfect,
and surely I haven't practiced
nearly enough. My meditation
isn't deep. I still chew
my fingernails and the refrigerator
isn't clean." Do you value your
reasons for staying small more
than the light shining through
the open door? Forgive yourself.
Now is the only time you have
to be whole. Now is the sole
moment that exists to live in
the light of the true Self.
Perfection is not a prerequisite
for anything but pain. Please,
oh please, don't continue to
believe in your disbelief. This is
the day of your awakening."
--Danna Faulds, Go In and In
The most advanced yoga pose is loving yourselves. In this lies our ultimate resource for making the sensitive adjustments necessary to maintain balance in life. Love yourself, love your day, love your life! Silvia
PS Join me on retreat www.alchemytours.com
STOKING THE FIRE: YOGA FOR ENERGY!
February 11, 2011.
Set your life on fire.
Seek those who fan your flames. - RUMI
I read somewhere that “no one is born with healthy self-esteem” we must learn this quality as we face our challenges. In the energy system this is the work of the 3rdchakra, the solar plexus, or Manipura. The energies of this chakra have at their heart the intention to help us mature in our self-understanding like how we feel and take care of ourselves. This spiritual quality is about self-respect. How we feel about ourselves, whether we have a strong sense of self-esteem determines our quality of life, our capacity to succeed in relationships, and our overall vitality.
The spiritual truth here is that if we don’t like ourselves our energy sags. And the lower our energy the less able we are to attract healthy relationships and job situations. To know if your 3rd Chakra is in balance take a moment and honestly ask yourself: are you choosing situations, people, & things that drain your energy or grow your energy?
For meditation ask yourself these questions:
· Where were you last February 2010?
· Where are you now?
· Do you have more energy today?
· Where do you see yourself February 2012?
From this practice of yoga I want us all to keep stoking the fire! I want for you to feel energized and excited about your life. And if you aren't feeling that way then the time is now to set an expectation for yourself – to your own growth and evolution – and surround yourself with those that seek to fan your flames. You are all amazing and as we continue paying attention to the health of our 3rdchakra please know you have all come a very long way already and let's take it to that next level. SET YOUR LIFE ON FIRE! Love yourself, love your day, love your life! Silvia
*Join me with Alchemy Tours www.alchemytours.com to set the fire ablaze full blast!
RABBITS, TIGERS AND LOVE OH MY!
February 10, 2011. Day 1 of blogging about love for 21 days in 2011. Thank goodness I think to myself I didn't agree to blog for 201 days! I am overwhelmed about where to start. The topic of love is just so enormous, infinite, profound...well even without the adjective overload you know what I mean. Last year was the Year of the Tiger a period of change, turbulence, confrontation of our fears, friction and constant tapping into the courage well of the heart. This now is the Year of the Rabbit. A more gentle earthy year in which to cultivate peaceful contentment. This is a year of calm and quiet to focus on home and family.
And so I find myself engaged fully with the year of the Rabbit because I need it and also at the same time at odds with it because it doesn't come naturally. I loved the year of the Tiger! I was tuned into the warrior energy of creating and promoting and building. I have that energetic vata/pitta thing of the Fire element going on without trying. I sometimes even love with fierceness. But Rabbit? This is going to be a real test of my love skills.
You see I am a doer and survivor! In many ways I loved the year of the Tiger. Even now I sometimes want to scream out BRING BACK THE TIGER! But wait, last year was one of the most difficult of my life, felt like I was in a constant battle...yeah, on second thought i need the rabbit. And that makes more sense to the fact my sign is the Earth Monkey with traits like calm, considerate and honest.
When I feel the most grounded I feel in sync with love both from myself and from others. Even my yoga poses get more stable, sthira and centered. And from the yoga of promoting earth energy I feel more grounded, balanced, and centered with so much more to offer those I love. I have never been more ready to welcome a peaceful love and will do all I can to manifest a drama-free year of my best possibilities! I hope you do the same because you deserve it. Love yourself, love your day, love your life! Silvia
PS: The video here has nothing to do with anything or maybe everything to do with everything either way I liked it's gentle loving vibe. The Weepies: Be My Honeypie. Dedicate to my honeypie JMY!
NEED BALANCE IN YOUR LIFE?
February 9, 2011. Wendell Barry said, “The earth is what we have in common.” I’d add that our ability to lose our balance and allow over-worrying to make us feel ungrounded is also what we have in common. You know, that feeling of being disconnected and just off center.
So we devoted today’s practice to getting grounded into the earth, our common ground. Grounding serves us as a simplifying force, one which helps us plug back into ourselves and allows us to be fully present and balanced. Once centered we feel empowered and stable to see the circumstances of our lives with increased clarity. We no longer over-respond or over-worry.
Just like building a yoga pose from the ground up, we need stability to form a strong foundation for our lives. On the yoga mat we used a long series of standing poses to help us achieve the security that comes from connecting our nervous system to the earth. In Sanskrit this is known as Sthira. As a result we all left the practice with our inner stillness intact once more ready to be the rooted influence amongst our families and friends. May you stay grounded and keep coming home to balance.
And if you are looking to do even more in depth work on balance and grounding join me for the two places in the world that always make me feel more centered: Moab, Utah and Tuscany Italy. Check out www.alchemytours.com to join me April, June, or October 2011. In the meantime let’s stay in touch, the earth is what we have in common. Love yourself, love your day, love your life! Silvia
PLAYLIST FEBRUARY 9, 2011
Very balanced chill 60 minutes to invoke the earth element and promote grounding, trust and calm. Perfect for those times you need to quiet the anxious mind or impatient heart.
Shiva Invocation, Shantala
Assyrian Women Mourners, Anja Lechner & Vassilis Tsabropoulos
Realms, Sigal Brier
Duduki, Anja Lechner & Vassilis Tsabropoulos
Pluznick, Raphael & Steve Kindler
Kerala Dream, Shaman's Dream
Trois morceaux après des hymnes byzantins I, Anja Lechner & Vassilis Tsabropoulos
Trois morceaux après des hymnes byzantins III, Anja Lechner & Vassilis Tsabropoulos
Night Song, Bill Dougrlas / Ty Burhoe / Kai Eckhardt / Steve Smith
Stars (Instrumental), John De Kadt
GUEST BLOGGER LAURA MILLS IMPRESSIONS OF A NEW YOGA TEACHER
Practice Never Perfect…Thank Goodness By Laura Mills
My first yoga teacher suggested I practice balance daily, even if only to lift one foot an inch at a time. But at the beginning of my yoga life, I barely practiced anything outside my once-a-week class. I tried to fit in a little balance here and there, but only after many random and frustrating foot-lifts did I successfully incorporate it into every day. Eventually, as my yoga life progressed, I understood that balance isn’t something to be learned once and then mastered, like tying a shoe, but instead is a process that continues throughout one’s life. As is yoga itself, so much more than a “thing to do” on a daily basis. I still get frustrated on occasion—with balance as well as other aspects of yoga—but now I recognize those frustrations as merely steps along the way on which I travel.
When I consider my own yogic frustrations, my heart goes out to my students, both beginners and seasoned yogis alike. Occasionally I notice a look cross a face; I know the look well, and I wonder what particular frustration causes it. Perhaps it’s frustration with a constantly-chattering mind or a certain pose. Speaking from my own experience: very likely.
On such occasions I wish I could tell the student my own yoga story, but in a 60- or 75-minute class those details have little place. If time allowed, though, I would share how I’ve always struggled to quiet my mind, and that even now both on and off the mat I often can’t do it. I would share how I couldn’t always touch the floor in Forward Fold or bend my knee 90 degrees in Warrior 2, and how even now on some days doing either of those seems impossible. And, while many students have already heard about my tight hamstrings, here I would add how last year those hamstrings forced me to pull back from my practice and learn modified techniques while they healed from an injury. I would also divulge that I haven’t taught Handstand yet, since I just did my first one less than a year ago, as well as that no student should expect to learn Headstand from me since in anything beyond Tripod I have yet to lift my feet off the ground.
But still, while frustrations occur, the difference between me at the beginning of my yoga life and me now is I understand that no end point or final level exists, and as a result today I am much more content in my practice. Though I continue to struggle with certain aspects of yoga, I realize that doors open and roads unfold constantly—as long as I keep practicing.
I’ve been wondering, then, how best to teach the yogic process to my students. We already convey the idea when we teach preparatory poses before full or more challenging versions, for example, or when we focus on one particular sutra or limb out of many as a class theme. And we always encourage students to “begin where they’re at” and move forward from there. Little by little, even as frustrations occur, all dedicated students grow in their practices. But in the midst of chattering minds and challenging poses, do they realize they are growing? I didn’t realize it, at least not right away.
But, thanks to my first teacher, I started to learn.
And I’m still practicing…balance, and everything else besides.
My best teaching method might then be to continue being myself—as I believe my first teacher was, and as I believe most of my teachers since have been. Like them, I am someone who adores sharing yoga with others and someone whose life yoga has changed. I have faith in yoga, and its process, with my entire being. And with this faith I practice; alongside my students, I grow while doors open and roads unfold.
PATIENCE MAKES US FUNKY
NOVEMBER 19, 2010. Yoga has without a doubt made me more patient. Don't get me wrong sometimes it's still hard but for sure I'm better at it. What's changed? Well I don't want to feel that TUG-O-WAR with myself or with anyone else. Impatience doesn't feel good and yoga teaches the antidote to impatience is, yes you can guess, patience. Patience feels good. It feels like a return to center no matter the chaos or what other people do or don't do. It feels like compassion, peacefulness and a constant return to balance. When I am patient I feel like I can attempt anything and be my most funky self without attachment to the result. Yoga always teaches that detaching from the outcome through patience will bring peace of mind.
So rather than procrastinating what we really want to try we just do it accepting that the trying is the yummy fun part. Patience feels like unconditional love and acceptance. There are no ego issues when we are patient. You know what I mean, that feeling that if something doesn't happen right now in just the way we want it then it's not good enough. When Patient our minds stop playing the old games of pushing, pulling, creating anxiety, distrust, stress or simple heavy expectations.
Gosh if we could just take a lesson from the Moon. Do you know that that moon's trajectory follows the Sun's trajectory, only 6 months later; the full moon in winter comes as high as the Sun in the Summer. And it takes the Moon 18.6 YEARS TO FULFILL ONE COMPLETE ORBIT! I love this! If it takes the moon 18.6 years to complete 1 cycle well then in downward facing dog we really have 18.6 years to attempt it completely for one full time don't you think? If the moon requires 18.6 years to process its orbit then we can try anything new we want to and give ourselves 18.6 years to really refine it.
Yoga is NOT a quick fix. Yoga is like the cycle of the moon. It takes a long time, consistent practice and a whole lot of patience is developed while trying. So today through infinite patience may we all demonstrate unconditional love and excitement for life! Be your FUNKY Self! No need to pressure ourselves, give yourself at least 18.6 years on attempting any one thing. Love yourself, love your day, love your life! Silvia
PS would love to work with you while on retreat through active life coaching and inspiration. Join me with Alchemy Tours visit my website at www.silviamordini.com
FEAR OF BIG DREAMS AND ARM BALANCING
OCTOBER 17, 2010. "People are afraid to pursue their most important dreams, because they feel that they don't deserve them, or that they'll be unable to achieve them." The Alchemist
This is about Fear. That we limit ourselves mentally, emotionally as a result and unless we can see the fear as illusion, just a mental game we are playing it will paralyze us, stiffen us, make us brittle. As the Alchemist also goes on to talk about how the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering. It is NOT about whether or not we are afraid. Of course! We all are afraid of something. But instead how we either allow this fear to stop our experiences of life or let it fuel the bouncing back. We try, we experiment, we get a result, maybe not the one we wanted but still a result a karma and we bounce back to try again.
What is your bounce back factor?
Do you allow things to scare you so much that you ignore them, freeze, run away, fight them? Today the family of poses we used to help us move beyond the illusion of fear was arm balances. Learning to concentrate regardless of what was physically achievable. Learning how to attempt the impossible to see that this opinion was only a thought...nothing more or less. And just as easily we can change that thought to believe in the impossibility of things. You can by facing your fears learn to talk to yourself differently. So here below was our class plan (not as cleaned up as usual but for sake of time I wanted to share it with you as is). I hope you enjoyed the practice and that you see how deserving you are of living life FULL BLAST, get past the veil of fear and try for your most important dreams! Love yourself, love your day, love your life! Silvia
Theme: Solving the "mystery" of arm balances. If this family of asana have you spooked or scared let's face that fear together and see what's really going on.
Supine Bridge to Waterfall abs with brick
Brick in inner thighs
cobbler abs, two bricks
step on brick get the twist
Upward Facing plank, hands on bricks
--- pull backs
Janu sirsana forward, parsva janu sirsana
Vasistasana variation kneeling
Parsva Vasistasana other wise
Upward facing on bricks
Malasana (move bricks forward)
Sun Sal A variations hands on bricks (3-4 times)
Half Moon A - different each time
I leg dog
High Lunge to transverse lunge back foot
Standing splits, baby eagle once
High lunge, lunge push up, up fold in half repeat 3 x's
Transverse lunge: bind, sit inside like parsva janu sirsasana
Jump forward finish like Sun Sal A all the way to Down Dog
Right leg up again
High Lunge to transverse lunge
HIgh Lunge, lunge push up to hands to ground standing splits 3's
Last time transition from standing splits
Jump to prasarita
Exit back to front, right foot
Crane to 1 leg pigeon chair (hands on bricks - prep for arm balance)
Plank, basic vinyasa with bricks all the way to down dog
Begin mandala side 2
Bakasana with head on brick, lift head
I leg dog, hip open
Pigeon - twist and hold back foot for backbend
Swing back leg forward Janu sirsasana
-- twist it
Stand from tip toe balance to Eka Pada Galavasana
Plank, basic vinyasa
Tittibasana with partner to crow or crow jump back
PS CONGRATULATIONS TO THE NEW FALL TEACHER TRAINEES WHO ARE FACING FEARS AND CHALLENGING THEMSELVES TO LOOK WITHIN!
CHEMISTRY OF TRUTH
"Let go of your worries and be completely clear-hearted, like the face of a mirror that contains no images. If you want a clear mirror, behold yourself and see the truth." - RUMI
OCTOBER 10, 2010
The mat serves as a mirror for each of us. The opportunity to let go of anger, fear, stress allows us to open up to our happiest selves. This process requires we see ourselves honestly. Its easy to stay upset and hold on to grudges and muddy up the picture of what we really feel or who we are. So this experiment is quite radical if you're used to masking or hiding from your truth.
There is a Chemistry to Truth. And we have in every moment a choice about how to influence the balance with the chemicals of our thoughts and our breath. If you do not breath out fully you are in fact poisoning yourself. Or if in your thoughts you are self-critical or judgmental this drama is creating a stress and hormones like cortisol are being released.
Writes Donna Farhi, New Zealander yoga teacher, in Holding Your Breath (Yoga Journal, April 1996): "Stress may be real or imagined. Just imagining a stressful event can reduce inhalation volume. When we are continuously exposed to stress, then the body just forgets to relax." Obviously, the breathing pattern changes, and "it just might become a statement about what happened in the past rather then what is happening to us in the present".
Every exhale, every pose can help us relieve the past and be more conscious of the moment we are living. You can by breathing wisely and thinking healing thoughts dilute the concentration of the harsh chemicals in your body. But first the practice of studying yourself, svadhaya, asks that we see ourselves truthfully. You engage when you hold your breath, where you get overly dramatic for no reason, where you are making yourself TOXIC. And the diluting can be accomplished through mantra as well, what you are thinking on purpose. A favorite of mine is the lovingkindness meditation:
Think of yourself, offer healing and a way to let go of sadness, anger, worry saying inside:
May I be happy
May I be peaceful
May I be loved
Then think of a challenging person, who you need to heal the relationship and say to them inside:
May You be happy
May You be peaceful
May You be loved.
Then think of how to influence the chemistry of the world (of which you are a part of) by saying to all people:
May We be happy
May We be peaceful
May We be loved.
The answer to stress, anger you feel towards a situation or a person or thing is not eye for an eye. Fighting is only going to make it more acidic, more poison will kill us eventually. The only answer is love. Love dilutes the pain, the worry and relieves us of this toxicity. And in that truth we see our best most beautiful selves! Love your day, love your life, love yourself! Silvia
THE IMPORTANCE OF RITUALS
SEPTEMBER 27, 2010 Yoga is one of my most important Rituals. Actually the first time I understood what the word "practice" really meant the lightbulb went off and I realized oh yeah, "something I practice repeatedly over a long period of time". Well that is a ritual too.
Within my yoga life the ritual I have especially on Monday's is to do a balancing of my energies related to the elements. Before I believed in Chakras, I did believe in Earth, Water, Air, Fire. Then eventually I started to understand that all of the elements are within and outside us. And even beyond that the concept of Doshas and Chakras. And all of it got less intimidating. Two easy ways for me to stay connected to the elements and through that discover where I am excessive or deficient and do something about it are:
1. Each finger represents an element so I pray, meditate, focus on bringing my thumb to each finger.
2. I sing a song to the elements (I know lots of them but this one was the focus tonight). And in Spanish to my Latin roots (my Mom's side as my Dad's side is the Italian part)
Tierra mi Cuerpo
Agua mi Sangre
Aire mi Viento
Y Fuego mi Espiritu.
Hey even if you don't understand Spanish you might pick up a word here or there. So this is translated as: Earth my Body, Water my Blood, Air my Breath, and Fire my Spirit.
What does this have to do with Rituals? Well when we disconnect from our rituals we lose touch with what Louise Hay calls our "inner ding" or intuition or good old fashion gut feel. So this practice was meant to bring our awareness to the four elements and feel that connection of each to ourselves, the micro experience, and to the world at large, our macro experience. All of this reminds us that we are in Yoga at every moment of our lives. There is this primordial power or universal intelligence that draws us together in balance, in union. And this goes beyond us to our ancestors and to the legacy we leave beyond this earthly body. Perhaps this inspires you to create your own Ritual around the elements, or even a single element, and I hope so. Love yourself, love your day, love your life! Silvia
PS For the full blog, part of which I shared in class, of Dr. Enrique Saguil, TBY Teacher Trainee, click here: http://herbal411.blogspot.com/2010/09/lack-of-disease-doesnt-equal-good.html
SEPT 18, 2-4PM PARTNER YOGA WITH LIZ LEFFERT
In this workshop you and your partner will support each through a simple sequence of postures focused on breathing and gentle stretching while cultivating a deeper connection with your loved one through the give and take of partner yoga. We will also spend time learning some basic techniques from the Ancient Art of Traditional Thai Massage, including palm pressure, rhythmic rocking, and passive stretching, to relax and restore balance to the body.
This light-hearted practice will help us to be present and focus on each other. We will listen quietly, tuning into our partner as we give the compassion and healing energy that we ourselves would like to receive.
Help to strengthen your connection while having fun together at the same time. There is absolutely no experience necessary.
Liz Leffert has been an avid student of yoga since 2003. Her interest in natural therapies led her to a career as Registered Yoga Instructor and Massage therapist. She has studied various western massage modalities and has in addition, over 220 hours of study at the Thai Bodywork School in Evanston with Chuck Duff. Liz recently realized a longtime dream of going to Thailand, where she spent two months, including one month of study with various Thai Massage teachers in the Northern Province of Chiang Mai.
Pre-registration is required by email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 847-266-9642
FEELING CENTERED 9 LIFE LESSONS YOU LEARN FROM CLIMBING (AND YOGA)
MARCH 3, 2010: What does CENTERED mean to you? To me it means balance, peace, happiness, patience, a oneness with others instead of a tug of war, and most of all BEING PRESENT. It is that “isness” of now that Echkart Tolle writes of in A New Earth. When we practice yoga we are actively seeking to make the adjustments necessary to be more present to keep returning to our center by studying ourselves or as Socrates says, "To know thyself."
The third chakra, often called the solar plexus, is our personal power centre, the magnetic core of the personality and ego. The Sacred Truth of the third chakra is ~Honor One-self~. The energies that come together in this chakra have but one spiritual goal; to help us mature in our self understanding - the relationship we have with others, and where we stand on our own and take care of ourselves. The spiritual quality is self-respect. We have all faced or will face an experience that reveals to us our own internal strengths and weaknesses and hence is what throws us OFF balance. Here below is a beautiful summary of 3rd Chakra key learning points we went over in class together. And one of my FAVORITE TED CLIPS about the 9 life lessons rock climbing (which is so much like yoga!). Enjoy!! Love and light,
Primary strengths – IN BALANCE: Self-esteem, self respect, and self discipline, ambition, the ability to generate action, and the ability to handle a crisis; the courage to take risks, generosity, ethics and strength of character.
Primary Fears – OUT OF BALANCE: Fears of rejection, criticism, looking foolish and failing to meet ones responsibilities, all fears relating to physical appearance, such as fear of obesity, baldness or ageing, fears that others will discover our secrets.
How we feel about ourselves, whether we respect ourselves, determines the quality of our life, our capacity to succeed in business, relationships, healing and intuitive skills. Self understanding and acceptance, the bond we form with ourselves, is in many ways the most critical spiritual challenge we face. In truth, if we do not like ourselves, we will be incapable of making healthy decisions. Instead, we will direct all of our personal the hands of someone else; someone whom we want to impress, or someone before whom we think we must weaken ourselves to gain physical security. People who have a low sense of self esteem attract relationships and occupational situations that reflect and reinforce this weakness. Nobody is born with healthy self esteem. We must earn this quality in the process of living as we face our challenges one at a time.
Key points about the Third Chakra:
- When our thoughts are scattered in several directions at once and we are no longer conscious of what we are doing or why, it is time to center ourselves.
- When we center ourselves, we begin by acknowledging that we have become spread too thin and we are no longer unified inside.
- Our thoughts might be out of sync with our feelings, and our actions may be out of sync with both. The main signs that we need to center ourselves are scattered thoughts and a feeling of disconnection or numbness, as if we are no longer able to take anything in. In addition, we may feel unfocused and not present in our bodies. Centering ourselves is a way of coming to terms with all the different energies within us and drawing them back into ourselves.
- Centering yourself means that you are working from or being aware of the core of your being in the solar plexus area of your body. We naturally know how to center ourselves when we take a deep breath, for example, before making a big announcement or doing something big. Another way to center ourselves is to sit down and engage in breath meditation. We can start by simply getting into a comfortable upright position and noticing as our breath enters and leaves our bodies. Our breath flows into our center and out from our center, and this process can serve as a template for all of our interactions in the world. In conversations, we can take what our friends are saying into the center of our beings and respond from the center. Our whole lives mirror this ebb and flow of energy that begins and ends at the center of ourselves. If we follow this ebb and flow, we are in harmony with the universe, and when we find we are out of harmony, we can always come back into balance by sitting down and observing our breath.
- When we center ourselves we can imagine that we are gathering our straying thoughts and energies back into ourselves, the way a mother duck gathers her babies around her. We can also visualize ourselves casting a net and pulling all the disparate parts of ourselves back to the center of our being, creating a sense of fluid integration. From this place of centeredness, we can begin again, directing ourselves outward in a more intentional way.
Matthew Childs' 9 life lessons from rock climbing (6 minutes)
- Don't let go (you think about letting go way before your body does, hang in there, watch for creative solutions)
- Hesitation is bad
- Have a plan (plan ahead to get to the top but you can't forget you have to complete each individual move)
- The move is the end
- Know how to rest (best climbers know to to get themselves into a position where they can regroup, calm themselves)
- Fear sucks (you are focusing not on what you're doing but on the consequences of FAILING at what you're doing, anything effective requires you focus on what you're doing)
- Opposites are good
- Strength doesn't always equal success (pull up example guys and girls)
- Know how to let go (once you get to that point where you know its going to happen, think about how you are going to fall, that's how you won't get hurt, fall in a way that you can control the fall, don't just hang on until the bitter end)
YOGA IS SPRING BREAK FOR ADULTS!
FEBRUARY 20, 2010
During the Winter we are simply more in our heads than in our bodies (if you live in colder climates). I remember when I was working an office job during the Winter I'd end up working longer hours. If for no other reason then it felt like it was too cold to be outside. I'd literally run from my car to the Metra station to wait inside or run to the bus to go to my office. In an effort to avoid being in the cold I'd eat more lunches at my desk. At some point (about now) I'd start to feel the Stress growing bigger and bigger. I'd get more tired, more stressed from working extra and go home and crash. My balance would get lost.
Thank goodness yoga offered me a healthy solution. In our Chicagoland Winter's we NEED yoga more than ever. Otherwise we get stuck in our head's working too much & thinking too hard when we need some play time too. Yoga is like recess for Adults.
Hey you don't have to wait for Spring Break (like we did when we were kids). YOGA CLASS IS SPRING BREAK!
So get back to moving and breathing your body. Come have some fun, take a break from work, home, and all the seriousness of life. Instead be a serious student of FUN for 2-3 hours per week. Yes, you heard me right, I'm proposing you give yourself more than one yoga class per week in the Winter. Come warm times then by all means, walk from Union station to your office, stand outside the Metra station and do jumping jacks, hike, cycle, run outside. But for the next couple more months of colder weather don't just lose your balance accepting you'll just feel lousy and cranky when the solution is right here. Do something! Come spiritualize every aspect of your life by staying tuned into to the blessing it is to be alive. And then plan to join me for your summer vacation for the Spiritual & Cultural Adventure of a Lifetime in Tuscany June 20th-26th!! But in the meantime, play more now! Love your life, Silvia
JANUARY 9, 2010: Today we talked about the body as a container. There is a boundary of who we physically are and the truth of who we are spiritually. Recently when I saw Jersey Boys for the first time I saw that they allow beverages into the actual theater during the performance, as long as you put a lid on it. So you see folks walking around with cups of wine and lids, beer and lids, soda and lids....like adult sippy cups. I get it. The lid is helping to keep a healthy boundary so the beverage doesn't spill on you or anyone else. It informs us of what is really inside. On the mat we use this practice to turn inwards to restore emotional equilibrium. We examine our breath for its beginning, middle, end noticing that even the breath has a boundary of when it starts and when it ends and that every ending is making way for a new beginning. There lies the premise behind why bother setting healthy boundaries to begin with. The body serves as a container to hold our spirit, and energies of thought and emotions. If we can learn on the mat that even our emotions can be contained with beginning, middle and ending we rediscover our balance.
This is accomplished by remember the self, Vairagya chapter 1 verse 15. Enjoy this excerpt from my favorite book by Nischala Joy Devi, Secret Power of Yoga. "As our focus turns toward remember the true self we naturaly identify less and less with external desires or wants. This perspective reveals that we are merely the temporary caretakes of whatever we possess. With this attitude, nothing binds us. As life bestows gifts upon us, we are delighted. With their revocation, we may feel momentarily upset, but with the grace of remembering our self, our emotional equilibrium is quickly restored. Through remembering the self we become lucid and virbrant like a diamond. Millions of years of pressure on a simple lump of solid coal transforms it into a pure, transparetn diamond that reflects and refracts light. This prismatic effect showers rainbows of colors on everything without discrimination. The diamond also appears to take the color of any object nearby. But once removed, it is perfectly colorless again. Likewise, when our minds and hearts clearly reflect our true nature, we may acquire many things, but nothing permanently taints our clarity. With this lucidity, we enthusiastically adopt that which enhances the light, and redirect that which dims it. As we bcome free, we become more and more comfortable with the naturel flow of material things. Much of what we yearn for comes to us. We enjoy the treasures of the world while they are with us, knowing full well we will not bind to them, nor they to us. This concept has its greatest challenge when we are separated from our friends or loved ones, especially without our permission or when it seems permanent. Our heart feels a vast emptiness where it was once filled with love. At these times ti takes great strength to restore and sustain our equalibrium. By securing a place within our hearts to hold their love and by continuing our practice our balance is more easily restablished."
GRACE AND COORDINATION
JANUARY 2, 2010: On the beautiful winter day after the beginning of a new decade I have been meditating about the relationship between Grace and Coordination. As we aspire to remain graceful in the way we coordinate our lives we will achieve that perfect balance. This is really what the Sutra 2.26 talking about Sthira and Sukha is getting at. That we find a peaceful way to effort and forward our lives. So on the mat we practice rhythmic breathing coordinated with movement to help release blockages or stuckness. This allows energy to flow in an optimal way and we feel mentally and physically balanced. We know what happens when we hold our breath from stress: our nervous system goes on red alert, there is a distress signal set off in the body/mind. However gentle flow of breath coordinating easy and even in and out makes us more relaxed.
One of my favorite definitions of how Hatha Yoga works is “Hatha Yoga increases energy by aligning our physical and subtle energy bodies, through physical poses (asana) and enhancing our life force through breathing practices (pranayama) and encouraging our sense inward through deep relaxation (pratyhara)." You see to live gracefully is whereby we keep returning to our center, that balance point. But it requires a great deal of spiritual courage to coordinate the sensitive adjustments required to maintain this. The sustaining part is the most difficult.
So here’s to the new year and wishing all of us much Grace and Coordination to find and KEEP to our center! Love, Silvia
OCTOBER 31, 2009: So last Friday night for a Halloween Birthday Party for a friend I made butternut squash soup for the first time. Amazing recipe given to me by a dear student. Now this was quite something for me to attempt to cook something new, but knowing that someone else had made it before and was encouraging me to try for myself helped immensely. Yup, that sounds pretty much like yoga. You may not know the poses but rest assured that your instructor has years of experience in the poses and wants to help support you as you try for yourself. And yes it can be a bit scary. But we learn from this practice that we don’t have to do it perfectly the first time and the whole reason for coming together to practice in a group is to have the group encouragement along with that of your teacher. Like family and friends that serve as the container of our greater life experience the kula embraces us. And we always know we are safe within the container of this sacred space of the practice room.
In this safety we can realize that as sutra 1.30 says “The Perception of our true nature which is peaceful joy is often obscured by physical, mental, and emotional imbalances. 1.31 These imbalances can promote restlessness, uneven breathing, worry and loss of hope. 1.32 These imbalances can be prevented from taking over our lives by consistently practicing yoga.”
Knowing I have a place to go when I need to replenish and address these imbalances has saved my life many, many times over. I could come into the practice room, into the group energy and be contained within myself so I could process whatever was going on in my life. I could let it cook and as a result feel more healthy upon leaving class. Speaking of containers I had to go out and buy my first crock pot at the Target on Friday (what an amazing selection!) because I realized once I made the soup I would need something safe to carry it in to the party. The container served to hold what I had personally created (along with help from my friend Janet dressed as Pee Wee Herman at the time) and as she drove us to the birthday gathering she made sure we were safe in her car until we arrived into the warm embrace of gentle friends. The whole thing was about containers.
We serve ourselves as that container of peace and love within and we connect to others in groups, tribes, families contained in that same way. So from my heart to yours know when you come to class you are safe, you are cared for and you can take time to feel all that is good within you. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much I did and just like doing a yoga pose, I will be making this soup for years and years to come. Love and light! Silvia
Butternut Squash and Apple Soup From Don P.
This recipe makes about 3 1/2 quarts which is about 18 6 oz portions so feel free to cut this recipe in half. It freezes well however so you can save it for a super quick lunch or dinner. I freeze this in 2 or 4 serving size containers let it cool before you freeze it.
2 Tblsp unsalted butter
2 Tblsp good Quality Olive Oil
4 cups yellow onion med dice
1 tblsp Curry Powder ( The curry is an interesting flavor combo that adds depth but you could substitute a 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon and nutmeg if you dont like curry)
5 lbs butternut squash
1 1/2 lbs McIintosh Apples
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 cups water
2 cups apple juice or cider.
Heat the butter and oil in a large stock pot over med heat, add the curry and the onion to the pot and cook for 15 min stir the misture a few times and scrape the bottom of the pot. Peel the squash cut in half and remove the seeds with a spoon or the handle of your peeler and cut into 1 inch chunks. Peel quarter and core the apples and cut into 1 inch chunks as well.
FROM FREAKING OUT TO CALMING OUT: BACK TO CENTER
OCTOBER 28, 2009: At the start of practice tonight I passed around my i-Phone so you could see a photo of this great sign in Italian countryside where there are a million arrows pointing to all these various roads…that all point to the center of the sing to arrive in Torricella. Apparently all roads lead to Torricella, all roads lead to our center. Yes no matter what exact asana/poses we do ultimately all spiritual practice is meant to bring us back to our center.
We often arrive to class totally fragmented and sometime just plain freaking out. We have been poked and prodded and pulling in a large number of direction all day physically and our attentions have been scattered in thousands of ways. No wonder we feel a bit awkward and disconnected in our own bodies?! But by the end of the practice we move from this disembodied state to one of embodiment and grace.
We practice the poses to shift away from that feeling of having all our parts be separate to a state of wholeness. You know where everything works together and appreciates the other .Eventually at the end we not only have this feeling of grace within our movements and breath but it allows us to open our hearts to others and in that way we leave ready to embrace the love and kindness that others are ready to offer us. We see the beauty in all other beings only as much as we feel connected to our own greatness.
We see this demonstration of connectedness in nature. We breath out carbon dioxide, the clouds produce rain, the trees take in our exudation and give us oxygen, the sun gives us all light. Each part of the whole is vitally important. Just like we could not have done the class tonight without each and every person as part of our circle. It wouldn’t have worked without you! The yoga helps us feel like the loose ends of our life are not just random challenges we are doing battle with but they are just threads in a grander tapestry and even the difficult moments are important to the whole state of our embodiment.
May this practice bring you back to your center time and time again so you can see clearly how you touch every living being by your existence now and beyond! Love to you all. 1,008 humble bows, Silvia
CORE GRACE, COORDINATION AND BALANCE
Hatha yoga increases energy by aligning our phsycial and subtle energy bodies, through physical poses (asana) and enhancing our life force through breath practices (pranayama) and encouraging our sense inward through deep relaxation. (Pratyahara). The word Hatha means Ha (sun, solar qualities, doing) and Tha (moon, lunar qualities, being). We need both and they come together in our center.
Chapter 2.46 in the yoga sutras talks about sthira and sukha this balance between effort and letting go, doing and being, stability and freedom, steadiness and sweetness. To find our center we need to move otherwise we remain distracted when it comes time to rest. As a result we use rhythmic breathing coordinated with movement to help release blockages and allow our life energy to flow.
If you take one thing away from this practice it is to breath into and from your center on purpose. Holding the breath gives our nervous system a distress signal. Allowing our breath to flow evenly makes us more relaxed. Yoga teaches that our mental state effects our breathing but breathing can impact our mental state. So today practice Alternate Nostril Breathing like we’ve been doing in class to promote a return to your center to live in grace with improved coordination and life balance. Love the day! Silvia
WHY PRACTICE YOGA? TO LET GO
AUGUST 24, 2009: I asked myself today these questions: Why practice yoga? What about practicing yoga today seemed like a good idea?
I want to share with you what I discovered. For me I come to the mat sometimes to celebrate, to do some deep thinking, to remember myself, to feel more…but really more often than not I come to the mat to LET GO.
I practice yoga to let go of the pain caused by someone hurting my feelings so I don’t consume myself with replaying them over and over. I let go of worry (everything from what the weather will be like for the Cubs game on Wednesday to how will the rest of my life turn out). I let go of worldly pressures, to decompress from stress. The practice helps me let go of the seriousness of meeting life’s challenges. I come to let go of the complexity of life. On the mat all we have to do is one pose at a time and breath while experiencing it. I come to let go of self-doubt and regain clarity.
What about practicing yoga seems like a good idea? I find my best self and let go of all those things that might cause me to lose sight of how important my life is and that the person who must appreciate it the most – is me.
In the Yoga Sutras Chapter talks about what we can do to maintain equanimity and inner joy. On the mat we let go & practice the following:
1.30 Perception of our true nature (joy, peace) is often obscured by physical, mental, and emotional imbalances.
1.31 These imbalances can promote restlessness, uneven breathing, worry and loss of hope.
1.32 These imbalances can be prevented from taking over our lives by consistently practicing yoga.
1.33 To preserve openness of heart and calmness of mind, nurture these attitudes:
· Kindness to those who are happy
· Compassion for those who are sick or struggling
· Honor and appreciation for those who we admire
· Equanimity to those whose actions oppose our values.
ANGER ISSUES? HOW TO RESOLVE
August 3, 2009: Do you ever wonder why do we get angry? Like what is so important that tempers have to flare ever? Even if we are “right” and the stuff we are thinking is true isn’t getting angry the real issue? Well I think about it. When I was run over by the car 15 years ago after initial recovery I can say I was angry. I had that why me, why did that guy run me down, this wasn’t my fault. What I learned through this was that so what if I didn’t deserve to be in this “hit and run” being angry was delaying my healing. Anger was just making me more irritable and really agitated, unable to sleep.
So then as in now we can choose anger or love. If we choose love we set ourselves free! For Stress paralyzes life; love releases it. Worry confuses life; love harmonizes it. Anger darkens life; love illuminates it. As Augustus William Hare writes, “The feeling is often the deeper truth.” Embrace your truth, embrace what you feel and free your soul for love and peace!
I decided after trying out the ill fitting costume of anger I’d choose love.
I practiced love. I relaxed my breath to breath like love would, I wore cool colors, I quieted my thoughts. And as I started to practice vinyasa flow with time the anger subsided and felt stronger and quietly calm. From that point forward I made a meta commitment to myself to never again let anger monopolize my thoughts or heart. And to the gentleman that ran me over that sunny Sunday morning so long ago. Well, it was an accident. He certainly meant me no harm and even now I think of him time and again and wish him happiness, mental freedom and peace of heart.
Join me on the mat and off to address your anger, see it, say hello to it and let it go. We do this for the betterment of ourselves and our world. Love, Silvia
Lokaha Samasta Sukhino Bhavantu! (translation below)
May all beings everywhere be happy and free and may the thoughts, words and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and freedom for all!
FIND YOUR CENTER KEEP YOUR CENTER
Let go of it all. Just remain in the center
Watching, and then forget you are there.”
-Baba Hari Dass
I’ve been meditating on what it means to be “centered” and as much as I often think about this in terms of finding one’s center for me its become more a matter of keeping to my center. When I first started yoga I didn’t quite know what it meant to be centered quite frankly I hadn’t ever even thought about it. I just got on the treadmill of life and just kept pushing myself to achieve and move on from stage one to stage two, excellence in High School, transferred into excellence in College and then trying to keep this going in the corporate world as well. I was just going going going, almost like I was running around center but never pausing long enough to really be there. Asleep or working a million hours per week (or playing hard) were the only two speeds I knew.
Then through yoga and quiet time of self observation (svadhaya) on the mat I started “To Know Thyself” as Socrates put it.
It started as all spiritual practice does, not looking for answers but simply trying to ask better questions. So I ask you take 3 minutes write down what does CENTERED mean to you? To me it means balance, peace, happiness, a oneness with others instead of a tug of war, compassion, patience and most of all BEING PRESENT.
It is that “isness” of now that Echkart Tolle writes of in A New Earth. Or in the Yoga Sutras the hope for all beings to find and hold happiness knowing this is only possible in the moment. So meditate on the words of Jack Kerouac:
Not with thoughts of your mind, but in the believing
sweetness of your heart, you snap the link and open the
golden door and disappear into the bright room, the
Everlasting ecstasy, eternal Now.”
Take time on the mat to be here now, to find and hold onto your center that place of sweetness where we feel the sacredness of living in oneness, one family, one heart, one love, one soul all in the light of center. Hold fast my friends and keep making those sensitive adjustments to keep returning to center moment by moment. Love you all! Silvia
SELF-ESTEEM, CENTERING, INTENTION: 3RD CHAKRA
The spiritual truth here is that if we don’t like ourselves we won’t make healthy decisions about our lives. People with low self-esteem attract relationships and job situations that mirror and reinforce this. So if you don’t like YOU others will walk all over you, taking advantage and bullying. Your physical and emotional strength to set healthy boundaries are from this chakra, your personal power center. To know if your 3rd Chakra is in balance take a moment and honestly ask yourself: are you choosing situations, people, & things that drain you or empower you?
During class we used poses to build physical strength and core awareness to help all of us strengthen our Third Chakra.
The other aspect that we spoke about in class was how a balanced third chakra aids our ability to feel more centered. When our 3rd chakra is out of balance our thoughts are all over the place. And if our thoughts are unfocused then it is more difficult to handle the crisis that life might put in our path. We used the centering breath to return our minds to that place of peaceful balance, sama breathing, no matter what pose or discomfort we faced in a hip opening sequence. We also learned the solar plexus Mudra called Rudra Mudra with the tips of our thumb and index finger and ring fingers together while extending the other fingers out in a relaxed way. Our mantra was “I rest at my center and draw joy from my center, I love myself.”
For meditation we asked ourselves these questions as part of our practice:
· Where were you last June 2008?
· Where are you now?
· Are you able to see how much you’ve grown and give yourself credit?
· Are you on the right path?
· Where do you see yourself June 2010?
I promise I will check in with everyone June 29, 2010 and hold everyone accountable for deepening their commitment to give birth to the life they really want. That this practice reminded us to set an expectation for ourselves – to our own growth and evolution – and remain centered enough to meet our ambitions. You are all amazing and as we continue paying attention to the health of our 3rd chakra please know you have all come a very long way already and with a courageous sense of self-respect and self-esteem little by little we will travel very far by this time next year! May your thoughts, feelings and actions find alignment.
Love yourself, love your life! Silvia
DOSHA CLASS: ROOT OF STRESS
Is this class for you? Well, if you experience stress in your life understanding Ayurveda can only help. Why? Because Ayurvedic theory takes nearly every conceivable stress influence into consideration—from seasonal changes that affect our well-being to what we eat and how we move that can all lead to disease. It also sheds light on the thought patterns and physical tendencies that can make stress a constant stumbling block or a non-issue, depending on how well we understand ourselves. To put it in most simple terms Ayurveda boils down to one basic idea:
Trace stress back to its roots, then find lasting ways to change the patterns that cause it.
According to Ayurveda, each of us has a unique mix of three mind/body principles which creates our specific mental and physical characteristics. These three principles are called 'doshas'. Most of us have one or two doshas which are most lively in our nature, with the remaining one(s) less significant. The three doshas are known as: Vata, Pitta and Kapha.
So join me to learn more about how to Balance Your Dosha, address the root causes of stress instead of the symptoms. All in an effort to live in peace and happiness. Yours with blessings, Silvia
INTRODUCTION: · Philosophy is the love of truth · Science is the discovery of truth through experiment · Spirituality is the experience of truth and application of it in daily life · Ayurveda is the science of life – both systematized knowledge and practical wisdom, an art of living healthy that ecompasses all phases of life, body, mind and spirit. It includes practical and theoretical aspects. · Ayurveda building blocks – 5 elements (Space, air, fire, water and earth) exist in all matter both organic and inorganic. Man has all 5 elements within him as we are part of nature. Our 5 sense and how our bodys function related to the 5 elements. · These 5 elements combine into 3 basic energies or principles which are present to some degree in everyone called doshas. · Space/air make up vata · Fire and water make up pitta · Water and earth make up kapha · Doshas govern our choices biological and psychological. When in balance they generate noble qualities such as understanding, compassion & Love. · When out of balance due to stress, improper diet, environment they give rise to negative emotions such as anger, fear and greed. · All three are in everyone but just like our fingerprints are different and unique everyone has an ENERGY PRINT · Health depends on maintaining this proportion in balance. Balance is the natural order of things, imbalance provokes and reflects disorder. · Health is order, Disease is disorder · You can learn to see that self understanding is the foundation of life. Habits and tendencies are related to our constitution. · When you can anticipate the kinds of illnesses and imbalances you are likely to have, you can take precautions to PREVENT THEM FROM ARISING. You can adjust your lifestyle daily routing, diet, amount of sleep, type of exercise to keep your DOSHAS IN BALANCE and health at its best!
· Philosophy is the love of truth
· Science is the discovery of truth through experiment
· Spirituality is the experience of truth and application of it in daily life
· Ayurveda is the science of life – both systematized knowledge and practical wisdom, an art of living healthy that ecompasses all phases of life, body, mind and spirit. It includes practical and theoretical aspects.
· Ayurveda building blocks – 5 elements (Space, air, fire, water and earth) exist in all matter both organic and inorganic. Man has all 5 elements within him as we are part of nature. Our 5 sense and how our bodys function related to the 5 elements.
· These 5 elements combine into 3 basic energies or principles which are present to some degree in everyone called doshas.
· Space/air make up vata
· Fire and water make up pitta
· Water and earth make up kapha
· Doshas govern our choices biological and psychological. When in balance they generate noble qualities such as understanding, compassion & Love.
· When out of balance due to stress, improper diet, environment they give rise to negative emotions such as anger, fear and greed.
· All three are in everyone but just like our fingerprints are different and unique everyone has an ENERGY PRINT
· Health depends on maintaining this proportion in balance. Balance is the natural order of things, imbalance provokes and reflects disorder.
· Health is order, Disease is disorder
· You can learn to see that self understanding is the foundation of life. Habits and tendencies are related to our constitution.
· When you can anticipate the kinds of illnesses and imbalances you are likely to have, you can take precautions to PREVENT THEM FROM ARISING. You can adjust your lifestyle daily routing, diet, amount of sleep, type of exercise to keep your DOSHAS IN BALANCE and health at its best!
KEEPING BALANCE IN FACE OF CHANGE
MAY 10TH, 2009: I remember when I was a kid my family and I visited
If we honor who we truly are then love, peace and clarity is ours! During class I spoke to what variations of each pose were more Tamasic and which were more Rajasic so you could choose appropriately. This is spoken of in the yoga sutras comprised by Pantanjali as follows:
Chap 1.16 When consciousness unites it remains clear and unaffected by the external changes of nature and things that happen around us, the Gunas. This is the ultimate freedom. Freedom is love.
The Gunas are the three universal attributes of nature that inhabit and influence the essence of all beings and material objects. Although one of the gunas may predominate, these three forces are in constant flux and interplay. The three gunas are:
Tamas: the energy of stability, solidity, inertia, darkness, confusion. Tamas inactivity – manifests as inability to make decisions, immobilizes us through fear or fatigue – if healthy, allows us to draw inwards and sleep deeply
Rajas: the energy of activity, dynamism, vibrancy, change, passion, excitement. Rajas overactivity – manifests as good to help us explore many things but too much we burn out
Sattva: the energy of luminosity, light, clarity, balance, contentment. Sattva balance means dynamic stillness
The world and everything in it play between these 3. If we can remember who we are, what we want from life then these are not able to influence us and throw us off our game. As long as we promote balance we can observe the changes but transcend them. However if we identify with the gunas rather than with ourselves the mind and our emotions are like a constantly changing rainbow (feeling blue, seeing red, turning green with envy)
We need all three gunas in nature. Tamas is the inert energy needed for sleep, rest, and stability. We need tamas for strong, dense bones. We use the energy of tamas in our asana practice for grounding and stability. Rajas is the energy of motion. It helps us move from a dull, lethargic state to a place of clarity and intelligence. In asana and pranayama, we use rajas to move and breathe with full awareness - channeling energy to develop and expand our consciousness. We need rajas to quickly adapt to new situations and to act rapidly in emergencies. Rajas is also the force of creativity and vitality. Sattva is the energy of light, when it shines we can see with clarity and we enlighten our true Self. We are sattvic when the body and mind are clear, alert, tranquil and spacious, whether this happens in meditation, a focused asana practice or in our daily life. In yoga and ayurveda, we always want to move toward increasing sattva, as this state of balance provides the space necessary for healing to occur and for the true knowledge of the Self to be revealed.
The gunas can also have negative aspects. When tamas is out of balance we may become dull, dense of mind and unable to see or remove obstacles. We become ignorant, pessimistic and doubtful. Tamas predominates when a person is depressed. They have no energy to work or to get out of bed. When rajas is out of balance we are hyperactive, turbulent, and agitated. We act without awareness, such as, an angry outburst at the slightest infraction by others. We can be overly rajasic when we overschedule our lives so much that we have no time for reflection. This can also be a way to avoid or deny our issues, which can only lose their power once they have been embraced. Sattva does not have a negative aspect as it is the healthy energy of a balanced state.
So the question is, how did you do today? Did you make choices that bring balance to your life? And are you prepared to make the active sensitive adjustments to keep your personal sense of balance? I hope the answer is YES! and more YES! It is this way that you find love in yourself, your day, your life! Peaceful courage abounds! Silvia
POTENTIALITY: CREATE YOUR BEST LIFE
MAY 8th, 2009: On this beautiful Mother's Day weekend, where we honor the power of creation itself, I feel deeply inspired by all of the Mom's that practice yoga with us at TBY. I see their strength and quiet courage in making time for their own nourishment on the yoga mat so that they have more to give their children and partners. You are all amazing in that you are modeling such healthy choices for your families! Keep shining out for you are making the world better not only for your kids but for the children of your children. This ripple of self-love lasts forever!
And I'd like to especially recognize all the current pregnant goddesses practicing with us in almost every single class. What a humbling expression of love to be in the practice with such a powerful being growing inside.
Finally I bow in gratitude to one of the most powerful women I know, my mentor Shiva Rea, who inspires me with such infinite goddess energy to be a better person and teacher each and every day. Yesterday she wrote these words that I totally embrace and want to share with you, "All praises to the men who love women and the women who love men...Ah Shiva-Shakti!"
You see this practice is one of finding the balance and honoring the power of creation and the action required to direct that energy into new realms. We are Shiva Shakti, we are sun, moon, Zeus and Athena, Sita and Ram. Through spiritual practice we can find that perfect harmony within ourselves. We discover our potential for more and greater things! Even if the way we are doing life now is good, it can evolve more as our nature is one of expansion and creativity. So today let’s harness our own creative power to give birth to the next stage of our lives, to our best self ever! Listen to your heart, Silvia
"Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind." - Dr. Suess
YOGA FOR MOOD MANAGEMENT
Yoga is all about Management. This is different than saying control which seems punitive. We are loving managers of our lives, our moods, our relationships both inward and outward and through this we can bring ourselves back into balance when we need to. Life will offer us challenges that take us off our path. But we keep moving forward. Einstein says, "Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving."
How out of balance are we? Statistically, 80% of Americans have adrenal fatigue, we suffer from higher rates of anxiety, hypersensitivity, nutritional deficiencies, eye strain, constipation, insomnia than anywhere else in the world. The way yoga fits in is that it restores BALANCE. Yoga makes our whole metabolic system function better, improves our immunity, offers us better digestion, better sleep, it bring more energy and is the great equalizer. Each family of poses can be used to customize what we need more of. So enjoy the handout below. Love your life today! Peace, Silvia
SUN SALUTATIONS. Energizing for your emotional body and can help lift you out of lethargy, depression, mental fatigue.
STANDING POSES. These are very grounding as well as energizing. They immediately engage your body-mind connection and bring you into the present moment. They are good to do when worried, distracted or agitated.
BACKBENDS. These are energizing, uplifting poses. They create more energy when you are tired. If you are already nervous they can make you over stimulated if they are difficult so you can also practice passive backbends. These poses also open you up emotionally which may cause strong emotions to arise.
TWISTS. Cleansing and balancing. They help release stress from your body-mind.
FORWARD FOLDS. These are calming, quieting in their impact. They are restful poses to calm you down when you feel agitated or hyper and restful when you are fatigued.
HIP OPENERS. These are very grounding and balancing. They help release tension and bring you into the present moment.
INVERSIONS. These are soothing, balancing and centering.
DECEMBER 18TH, 2008: I was reflecting on what it means to be balanced. So I looked up Balance in the thesaurus and it said: stable, steady, together, middle, centered. The opposite is unbalanced, unequal, uneven, lopsided.
What I love about balancing poses is that if we are not focused to our center we fall over. That's what’s so great, there is an unavoidable immediacy to balancing related to meeting ourselves. In other words there IS NO FAKING IT. Or I like how Laura Yeshe puts it, ‘If you expect your life to be up and down, your mind will be more peaceful."
How does this help us in life, well the yoga helps us practice strengthening our connection to the midline so that we get real about responding appropriately to both sunny days and stormy times. This comes about as we HUG IN.
And what is a hug? A hug between two people demands trust. It is an extremely skillful way of focusing on our humanness in all its messiness (wrinkles, hang ups, talents). It is real – it is not just some concept. So right now, take 60 seconds to be fully present with another human being. Try this from Thich Nhat Hahn:
Before hugging take a couple breaths to bring yourself fully into the present moment so you can really be there for that person.
On the first in breath we say to ourselves “Breathing in, I am aware that you are alive & in my arms; Breathing out, I am so happy”
On the second breath we say to ourselves “Breathing in, I know that I am alive and in your arms; Breathing out, I am so happy”
On the third breath “Breathing in, I am aware that we are both alive right now and embraced in each other’s arms; Breathing out, I am very happy.”
DECEMBER 15TH 2008: This time of year maybe more than ever we’re all reminded that the whole practice are balance poses, life itself is a delicate balance. So there is no need to upset ourselves with what we have in front of us. As ancient Poet Rumi Says, "Take sips of this pure wine being poured. Don't mind that you've been given a dirty cup."
So let’s take this time to use Leo Tolstoy’s short story to help us realize our degree of balance right now. Or at the very least take 2 minutes to stand on one leg, hug to your center and rediscover all you ever needed was inside! Courage to you, Silvia
Once upon a time there was a young emperor seeking the meaning of life. He wanted to know the answers to these questions. He asked all of his teachers but none of them could give the young emperor good answers.
His three questions were:
1. When is the most important time?
2. Who is the most important person?
3. What is the most important thing to do?
Therefore the emperor seeks the answer by himself, wandering and experiencing life.
The most important time is now.
The reason is, you only have it once.
The most important person is the one we are with.
Give whoever is in front of you your total attention. They want to feel that they are being listened to, appreciated, and more over recognized as human being. And the person we spend the MOST time without throughout our lives is YOU! Therefore ultimately the most important person is always you.
The most important thing to do is to care.
BALANCE: NADIS, CHAKRAS, AND MARMAS
It was a deeply profound practice and reminds me that this last few weeks of the year it will be easy to get out of balance and just suffer through the holiday's. Or maybe this is the year we decide we will remain peaceful and balanced by coming to the mat to reconnect with ourselves. If you want a copy of the handout "Nadis, Chakras, Marmas" just email me. May you be peaceful, May you be balanced. May you be in love with life! Silvia
WITH AN OPEN MIND IT IS MINE
October 27th, 2008: Here are some of the lyrics to a favorite song titled Receiving Chant by Karen Drucker from her cd Songs of the Spirit III. It inspired tonight's practice. Enjoy!
With an open mind I do believe I will receive
I just have to hope and then declare it to be so
With an open mind and just a little bit of time
If it serves my highest good then it will be mine
Anything I want it is mine
Perfect health, it is mine
Joy and peace, it is mine
Love, Love, Love, it is mine
GIVERS AND TAKERS
SEPTEMBER 20TH, 2008: We started class going around and sharing why we are here in class today. It was inspiring to say the least! It also set the tone for how important it is to learn to give this time of yoga to ourselves. There is a balance between giving and taking. We all know there are 2 kinds of folks: Givers and Takers. We have been both. We see this pattern in nature. The lungs of the earth are the trees around us. When we breath out we give trees life. Trees then clean the air and provide us the air we breath in. Giving and Taking. When it works like this in balance all is good!
Krishnamacharya said, "Inhale, and God approaches you. Hold the inhalation, and God remains with you. Exhale, and you approach God. Hold the exhalation, and surrender to God."
However, the hardest part of our practice is not to find this balance between giving and taking but to maintain it. Consider if at this point in time are we as human creatures giving back to the Earth as much as we are taking from her? Our lives really depend on the health of Mother Earth you know? Where in your life are you doing too much giving – how do you know? Well are you feeling depleted? Where are you taking too much? How can you feel how each breath guides you back to your center between the give and take? Peace to all beings everywhere! Love, Silvia
MAINTAINING BALANCE: CHAKRAS AND MORE!
AUGUST 12TH, 2008: How do we find and maintain balance in order to live the best life ever? Well, today we discussed the Chakras and their application. The chakras are the seven main energy centers in the body where we receive, absorb and distribute life energies. They are located along the spine, starting at the base and running upwards to the crown of the head. Each chakra radiates a specific color and energy. Each chakra relates to specific spiritual, emotional, psychological and physical issues. These can become blocked through and as a result a chakra can become either deficient or excessive and therefore imbalanced. Practicing poses that correspond to each chakra can release these blocks and clear the path to more balanced living.
We passed out a handout with a chart of the Chakras and corresponding element, color, healing stones, and specific poses to help balance out excessiveness or insufficiencies within them. If you want a copy just email us at email@example.com