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!
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
DO OVER BY GUEST BLOGGER LAURA MILLS
Do Over By Laura Mills
Whether writing a yoga class or an essay, I never erase. Not that I don’t make mistakes, but when I do I scratch them out, content with the messier route in my urgency to shape what I feel is better work. People who glimpse my notes and journals don’t believe I make sense of them, littered as they are with scribbles and swirls. But somehow I do, moving forward after difficult moments to produce something that satisfies me.
I wish moving forward were that easy for me off-paper.
In eight months of teaching yoga, I’ve frequently finished a class feeling less-than-100%. Maybe the sequence didn’t flow as smoothly as I intended, maybe I left too little time for Savasana, maybe the music didn’t compliment the flow, maybe I philosophized too much. And immediately after such a class, I‘ve struggled not to say to my students, “No, wait! Come back! I can do better!” I want to try again, to produce a better version, and I want to do it right away—but of course, I can only hope the same students attend my next class and see me in what I vow will be better form.
I don’t believe this feeling is unique to new yoga teachers, but I do hope it occurs less frequently with time. I wonder how long I will teach before I rarely second-guess myself. I wonder how long I will teach before the chance is excellent that at the end of my next class I’ll be satisfied. For now, while I grapple with my confidence, I remind myself that when challenged on the mat we slow down, breathe and re-center. It's a familiar, easier-said-than-done practice, one that my own yoga teachers have taught me over and over and one that I now teach my students. Instead of pushing ahead in a hurry, we pause and tune back in, return to our natural rhythm, and then move forward refreshed. This lesson impacted me hugely when I first started practicing, a few years ago at a time when I was urgently—and unsuccessfully—attempting to push my way through the effects of a personal tragedy. Like so many yogis before me, the patience and self-care I met on the mat flowed into the rest of my life, and with time and practice, eventually I was able to gently start again and progress towards the future with a newly-centered spirit.
Now, in my role as yoga teacher, after any less-than-100% class I experience that same initial urgency. I want so badly to serve my students in the best way possible, to live up to the credentials I now possess. When I feel a class falls short, I want to go back and improve it immediately…but instead, like I do on the mat, I know I must remember to slow down and re-center, tapping into that patience and self-care that has served me so well in yoga practice and elsewhere.
I know I have everything I need to teach yoga well; I also know I judge myself more critically than anyone else ever could. As 2011 begins, I will work on tending my confidence and encouraging it to thrive. I will also remind myself with love that every yoga teacher, new or otherwise, experiences difficult moments now and then. Unlike in writing, we can’t erase those moments even if we want to—but if we slow down and re-center we can, at least in a way, scratch them out and make them not matter so much. Then we can move forward, refreshed, into our next class, onto a fresh page.
PARADOX OF YOGA 4/13/10
April 13, 2010: Yoga is funny in that it is a great paradox. We feel this in the physical sense in the juncture point of the waistline where pelvic loop and kidney loops originate. Both draw back the side bodies but the the energy splits up. The pelvic loop draws waist back and DOWN and kidney loop draws the waist back and UP. Yoga helps us to explore how to live with what the world is offering us and receive it gracefully while at the same time figuring out how to turn what is being offered into an empowered experience. But this isn't the cliché of lemons into lemonade which is just plain annoying isn't it?
Nope this is about staying centered within ourselves to a place of great depth and tranquility and remain steady no matter what life has served you today - when you most want to shut down, to remain open hearted by holding onto to that calm center. And at the same time this is in no way apathetic. We are meant to action our lives and keep evolving towards greater and greater happiness.
So we have to create an alignment between our desires and aspirations and what's really possible for us today, in this moment. If what we want and what we do and what we think are out of alignment then suffering ensues. This life of ours is asking that we learn how to hold and release and reach and expand all at the same time.
Today, how are you doing? Can you live with what the world is offering you? Peace in all ways, Silvia
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)
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
REMEDY TO ANXIETY
Well through my practice what anxiety feels like to me is going to pieces. The remedy has been reconnecting to my center so that I can again find Peace. Peace is bringing the pieces back together. Now for a long time I looked outside myself for the answer to anxiety. After I was attacked over 15 years ago I suffered from anxiety attacks, panic attacks and I was afraid of everything. I felt like I was going to pieces. I lost my center and this is no way to live.
I would have paid any amount of money, done anything, gone anywhere to find a relief. But through yoga this last 15 years I discovered no one can relieve anxiety for us. Peace is the opposite of anxiety. And we ourselves have peace within us at all times. This seems almost impossible to believe at first because the last thing you want to do is sit with yourself when anxious.
In yoga we can go into the quiet of our own stillness and healing, facing the fear of anxiety. Or it will overtake us. Anxiety is only the surface of the mind, we must go deeper through our tissues, into our heart and we DISAPPEAR IT FROM THE INSIDE OUT. We can vanish it like light being shed in a dark room. In yogic terms Asmita are the outer layers that we remove to reveal the inner wisdom from our heart.
Anxiety is of the head
Peace is of the heart
There is no greater expression of happiness than peace.
I am here to say that if I can do this you can too. Your life is a work of art waiting to reveal itself! “In yoga we are both the masterpiece and the artist painstakingly working to uncover the hidden work of art that is within all of us.” (Secret Power of Yoga book) If you are experiencing anxiety in your life please give this practice a chance to help you look within to pull back to your center. May you peaceful, may all beings everywhere be peaceful and FREE! Love you, 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
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
YOGA FOR BEING LESS TIRED
JANUARY 6TH, 2009: We all get tired right? But why? Interesting enough when we are tired we are stagnant, it is not that we have expended too much energy but we have not been actively moving our bodies enough. The yoga of moving and breathing moves our energy and flushes the body to remove the stuckness. A key way to look at Yoga for being less tired is to focus on the 3rd Chakra. This chakra often called the solar plexus, is our personal power center. The magnetic core of our personality which wants to bubble up and radiate out.
When the 3rd charka is in balance we have strong Self-esteem, self respect, and self discipline. When out of balance we get stagnant and run down as a result of fear of rejection, criticism, whether we’ll look foolish and worried about whether other people think we are meeting our responsibilities. This drains us of energy.
How we feel about ourselves, whether we respect ourselves, determines the quality of our life, our capacity to succeed in business, and relationships. Self understanding and acceptance, the bond we form with ourselves, is in many ways the most critical spiritual challenge we face. This is really then the entry from spiritual babyhood or adolescence into spiritual adulthood. Managing our energies is a big part of this. From a spiritual perspective, in fact, the entire physical world is nothing more than our classroom, but the challenge to each of us in this classroom is: Given your particular body, environment, job, family, and beliefs, will you make choices that enhance your spirit or those that drain your spirit? Will you be able to maintain your energy boundaries and sense of identity as part of your tribe but not based only upon it.
A favorite meditation I have from my friend Constance Hart is this: DRAW YOUR ENERGY BACK TO YOU - imagine that you are gathering your straying thoughts and energies back into yourself. Or visualize yourself casting a net and pulling all the disparate parts of yourself back to the center of your being, creating a sense of balanced energy. From this place of centeredness, we can begin again, directing ourselves outward in a more intentional way.
Life life on purpose, with purpose, maintaining the energy necessary to propel yourself towards your dreams! Think big! Silvia
"Time in life is short. Robert Bucco,