Tag Archives: YogaGlo

Balancing the Polls

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Your Other Name

If your life doesn’t often make you feel
like a cauldron of swirling light –
 
If you are not often enough a woman standing above a mysterious fire,
lifting her head to the sky –
 
You are doing too much, and listening too little.
 
Read poems. Walk in the woods. Make slow art.
Tie a rope around your heart, be led by it off the plank,
happy prisoner.
 
You are no animal. You are galaxy with skin.
Home to blue and yellow lightshots,
making speed-of-light curves and racecar turns,
bouncing in ricochet –
 
Don’t slow down the light and turn it into matter
with feeble preoccupations.
 
Don’t forget your true name:
Presiding one. Home for the gleaming. Strong cauldron for the feast of light. 
 
Strong cauldron for the feast of light:
I am speaking to you.
I beg you not to forget.

–Tara Sophia Mohr

This morning I had the great pleasure of experiencing another one of Elena Brower’s extraordinary classes on yogaglo.  The class was called: Cultivate a Deep and Generous Connection to Your Self.  During the class, Elena stated: “We create a very strong & clear vessel, with boundaries, with sweetness, with crazy amounts of courtesy.  And then, inside, is softness and listening and receptivity…”

At the end of class, she shared the poem above.

The practice was perfection.  Her words, as always, timely.  You see, today the world is in a state of upheaval.  It feels a bit like standing on the middle of a giant seesaw.  There are a lot of people on both sides and I am stuck in the middle trying to find some balance.  I didn’t want to feel defensive or on edge.  I made sure to take the time this morning to cultivate that necessary equilibrium on the inside.  Firmly rooted and connected, with a deep remembrance of who I am, I can walk through the swirling voices, opinions, and signs.  From a place of spaciousness and softness, I now go out into the world to vote my truth.

I hope you do too : )

Debunking Your Theory That You Don’t Have Time For Yoga

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I reached out to Laurie Gerber, President of Handel Group to ask her a few questions about her experience with yoga and how she creates the time in her very full schedule for this practice. The Handel Group uses a methodology that they created, called: Personal Integrity®. This methodology teaches you to live in accordance with your highest ideals, to align your heart, mind and body and to keep your promises to yourself as the source of true pride, power and self-confidence. I have experienced this method in action and it is truly amazing to me how effective it is. The authenticity and alignment pieces are very similar to the practice of yoga itself and this is why I chose her for this interview.

AS:  As the President of a thriving company, a wife, and a Momma, you mentioned to me that you create space in your schedule for a little yoga every day. How and why do you do this? Do you find that making yoga a priority for you enables you to be a more effective participant of your life?

LG:  Honestly, why I do it (besides that a break midday helps me clear my mind and feel more at ease) is that my back used to go out a few times a year, but since I began my 20 minutes of daily yoga, it doesn’t anymore. How I do it, is I schedule it. My promise is to do 20 minutes, but I actually block out my whole “lunch hour” knowing I’ll want to try to cram other things around it, avoid taking a break or feel like something else is more urgent. Twenty minutes before my hour is up, I drop to the floor and begin, either following what my body wants or visiting Elena Brower on yogaglo. The break in my focus always lets in more creativity. Not becoming immobilized with back pain is an incredible boon to my work life and life with my husband and kids. Generally, I have a working lunch, but I always stop for at least 20 minutes to stretch and manifest, no matter what, because it contributes so much to my productivity, vitality and well-being (not to mention my ability to sit at a computer 13 hours a day).

AS:  I often hear people tell me that they know yoga would be beneficial to them and would really like to incorporate a practice into their lives, yet they insist that they are too busy and do not have time. What would your advice as a Life Coach be for them?

LG:  Skip something else. If you are too busy at work for 20 minutes, delegate something or skip your lunch break. If you are with kids all day, do it during nap time or find the right video. I know I sound cavalier about possibly compromising other “values” or responsibilities, but we are fooling ourselves if we don’t think our spirituality and self-care are meant to be at the top of the priority list. It’s not idealistic; it’s just practical if you are thinking long-term. You have to last. Schedule it into your calendar with reminders and alarms and implement a consequence if you skip, like no chocolate or coffee or tea or Facebook the next day, if you skip. That way, you will stay focused on being true to your plan. Lastly, try it for four weeks (at least three short practices a week) and then vote if it is worth it. Our problem is that we vote before we even test the new idea. You have NO idea how you’ll feel when you have a regular practice. If you do, because you have tried it, then you know what you’re missing and you were just waiting for this article to kick your butt back to the mat.

AS:  I have heard you say that people believe their personality is stuck, that they “just are the way they are” and that is why they are incapable of x,y,z. I am frequently told: “I can’t do yoga, because I am not flexible.” I would love to hear your response to this.

LG:  That actually truly makes me laugh. That’s like telling a baby they can’t have xyz profession because they are a baby. How funny are we? “I just am X way” is the perfect way to get off the hook from doing the right thing. We have found by implementing a three step process, called Personal Integrity®, we can teach people how to “change who they are.” Thank goodness. Most people don’t start flexible; they use yoga to become flexible. Learning and developing yourself are some of the most exhilarating opportunities we have. I know it’s scary; that’s why a promise and consequence are very helpful when starting a new habit. They are the tools that clear your mind so you can stay focused on what you really want to have and who you really want to be.

AS:  What are some tools that individuals can use to help a regular yoga practice become a reality for them?

LG:  Simple. A promise and a consequence. I will spend X minutes, X days per week or I lose Y. You fill in the blank based on where you are right now and how quickly you want change. Then you tell the people in your life. Next, you make sure you have the right teachers and resources. As I’ve said, I fancy yogaglo for on-the-go yoga anywhere there’s wifi.

AS:  What are some of the qualities that you look for when choosing a yoga instructor?

LG:  Honestly, I don’t feel the need to follow an instructor, even when I have a video on that I “could” follow. So really I go by vibe. If I think they are honest and funny, I want to listen to their voice. Or if they have been so kind as to have recorded 20 minute practices for my back, well, they rock!

AS:  What are your thoughts about the complementary benefits of life coaching and yoga when applied to achieving more of a balanced existence?

LG:  Now on this topic I could go on and on. The principles of yoga-alignment and oneness are brought off the mat and into life with Handel’s coaching principle/practice of Personal Integrity®. When you bring the concept of yoga to your life, you align your relationships, money, body, health and career with your highest ideal, and you learn to communicate honestly, gracefully and effectively. Both yoga and coaching impact body, mind and soul, and are therefore perfectly complementary. In addition, yoga can be used to aid people with coaching breakthroughs. Our founder Lauren Zander and Elena Brower have teamed up to lay out HGYoga: a practice that will combine yoga and coaching completely.

To learn more about Laurie Gerber and the Handel Group, please visit:

http://www.handelgroup.com/coaching/life-coaching/our-life-coaches/laurie-gerber

http://www.handelgroup.com/

Teaching is an Exploration, It’s a Conversation, It’s a Dance

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One of the biggest questions I am asked as an instructor of Yoga is “What style do you teach?”  I used to cringe as those words were leaving their lips.  I know it would simply be easier to say “Hatha” and be done with it.  However, the answer is so much more complex than that.  I read a blog post yesterday about teachers creating their own styles of yoga and how that may not be an authentic approach to honoring such an ancient practice.  The bottom line is most of us teach our own style.  Our style becomes an intricate blend of the styles of our teachers.  Much like cooking, we learn from other people, their shared ideas and recipes.  Then when we actually sit down to make the meal ourselves, we do it our way, the way that feels comfortable to us; ultimately creating a flavor and design that makes the most sense to our taste receptors.

I was very fortunate that my initial 200 Hour Teacher Training Program consisted of teachers of all lineages.  It was as though the creator of the program had laid out a buffet table and we had the opportunity to sample a multitude of flavors.  We were than able to decide which ones we enjoyed enough to revisit and which ones we would leave behind all together.  Many years later when I developed my own Teacher Training Program, I designed it the same way.  I invited teachers who I respected and who had a style of teaching that resonated strongly with me.  Each one of my students that graduates from my program does not tell people they practice “my” style of Yoga or even my school’s style of Yoga.  Each one of them has developed their own recipe for teaching that is an intricate and beautiful blend of what was taught and what was genuinely true for them.  You can spend thousands of dollars and thousands of hours on training but until you actually digest those teachings and serve it up in your practice, your teaching, and your life, it is not going to taste or feel authentic to you or your students.

This summer I have kept my teaching schedule quite light, teaching one class a week with a few private clients sprinkled in between.  I was excited to receive an invitation to teach two back-to-back 90 Minutes Classes as part of a summer dance intensive at Academy of Performing Arts New England.  As I was preparing for teaching two different age levels of dancers, I realized, there was no tangible way for me to develop a theme or even a basic class outline.  I needed to walk in and begin a discussion with them.  Ask them questions about their previous experience(s) with Yoga.  What they liked about it, what they didn’t like, what postures they might be interested in exploring.  From there, I just let the classes organically unfold.  The best way to approach teaching this way, I find, is to do something Amy Ippoliti calls “vessilifying” or “vessilification”.  For me, this means, doing my best to ensure that my body is fueled with the right nutrients, the right amount of sleep, plenty of yoga practice, as well as inspiration from my teachers and my vast library of Yoga Books.

I took a fabulous class with Amy on YogaGlo last week called “The Power of Faith and Intention”.  She talked about Shraddha, the Sanskrit word for faith.  When I researched Shraddha further, I discovered that, rather than meaning faith in a religious context, it means something closer to “trust” or “conviction.”  “It most commonly refers to the conviction that develops from one’s own direct experience and practice.”

Amy also talked about Nataraja, the dancing Shiva, how it is said that he dances on the boundaries of the ever expanding and contracting Universe.  Our classes are filled with students whose expectations, abilities and boundaries are ever expanding and contracting.  How then, can our style or our teaching be labeled, rigid, or defined?

When I teach my style of Yoga, I have to vessilify, I must have Shraddha.  I have to walk into that space and trust; allowing all of the teachings I have received from training, practice, experiences, and books to just flow from the universe, through me, to them.  Teaching is not a style.  Teaching is an exploration, it’s a conversation, it’s a dance.

A Bit Like Herding Cats

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Earlier this month, I was a chaperone for a number of children in my son’s second grade class.  It reminded me of a saying I had heard a while back: “It is a bit like herding cats.”  I had to account for them, occasionally reel them in, and yet allow them enough freedom to enjoy their experience.  I wanted to watch out for these little people as carefully as I would want someone to watch over my little one, if the roles were reversed.  This is a daunting responsibility.  I was exhausted at the end of the day.

The following week, I received an envelope.  The envelope contained four meticulously written letters by some of the children I had in my group, thanking me for attending their field trip with them.  Thanking me for keeping them safe.  One little girl wrote: “I think you are the best shaperoen in the world.”  These little notes, and the words contained within them, warmed my heart and brightened my whole day.

As I was gathering and generating some inspiration for my class that evening, I was reviewing the book “After the Ecstasy, the Laundry” by Jack Kornfield.  I have adorned my copy with a rainbow of highlighters, a multitude of post-it flags, and the random note in the margin.  On one of the bookmarked pages, I found the following quote highlighted:

“Suppose a person who was not blind beheld the many bubbles of the Ganges as they floated along, and after careful examination, saw how each appeared empty, unreal, insubstantial.  In exactly the same way we can carefully examine sense impressions, perceptions, feelings, and thought, all that we experience, and discover them to be empty, void, and without a self.”

It all of a sudden occurred to me that my meditation practice is “a bit like herding cats”.  It is my job to witness the thoughts that are racing around, however, it is not my job to contain them.  I should visualize them dissolving like a bubble on the Ganges.  I must let them go along, on their merry way, so that my experience is as it should be.  If I pause too long to attempt to restrict my thinking, I will spend unnecessary time and energy becoming frustrated and distracted.

All of this also applies to my work on my mat.  My practice involves fastidious attention to detail.  It is necessary for me to draw my awareness to my breath and to the details of my alignment.  Reeling in my thoughts from the external to the internal in order to keep my body safe can sometimes feel like a daunting and exhausting responsibility.  Ultimately, the whole process is worth the investment.  I receive thank you notes from my body, mind, and spirit.  The quality of my interactions with those in my sphere improves dramatically and I notice a shift in my relationship to self.

This week, I was practicing with Noah Maze via YogaGlo in a class called Kneessentials.  He began the class with a quote from Douglas Brooks: “Clear Boundaries, No Limits.”  If we define very clear parameters for the children in our care, they can be free.  If we delineate very precise boundaries for our bodies during our yoga practice and our minds during our meditation practice, we can be free!  Where are you feeling as though your work is “a bit like herding cats”?  Where are you feeling so free you can fly?

Sakhi Stretching
(which is a bit like flying)