4 Secrets About Yoga
Considering attempting this 5000 year old practice that has somehow become a modern phenomenon? Nervous? Don’t be. Here are a few secrets to know before you jump in.
1) What To Wear
Back in 2000, when I first began exploring Yoga, I would show up for classes in anything from whatever I had worn to class that day to my running shorts and a tank. "Active Wear" was not a thing. It wasn't until I started attending classes at a local gym that I began to seek out clothing that would better allow me to stretch out and bend my body.
There's no need to go shopping for the "right" clothing to wear to your first Yoga class. Wear whatever you feel most comfortable in. Sweatpants and a tee-shirt, leggings and a hoodie, or you skiing baselayer will all work. Make sure that your clothes fit well enough not to accidentally expose anything and double check for holes in the wrong places. A little hint: before you choose those tights you ordered online, do a forward fold with a mirror behind you and make sure they aren't too revealing.
2) What to Bring
You don't need any special tools to do Yoga. In fact, Yoga mats are a modern phenomenon. It wasn't until B.K.S. Iyengar came onto the scene that things like blocks, straps and bolsters became synonymous with the practice of Asana. Most studios will rent or allow you to borrow a mat. A well managed studio will have sanitized mats and tools for use. Don't buy a mat until you've decided the style of practice you enjoy and the type of mat that will best serve you.
During class, if you are in need of some extra support, a good teacher will notice and provide you with assistance, a variation on the posture or improvise a tool. You should feel comfortable asking, "Am I doing this correctly?" or saying, "I'm not sure I've got this posture set up correctly."
Bring water and, if you have long hair, tie it back so that it is not a distraction during the class. How you look while you are doing Yoga is of little importance compared to how you feel.
3) What to Do
Observation is the key to learning anything. If you are just beginning practicing Yoga feel free to look at the teacher and around the room. This is not so you can compare yourself and attempt to be like everyone else, but more so to gather information and decide if this is the right place for you to be. We all get uncomfortable when outside of our elements, and a Yoga Asana class can certainly make you feel like you are on a different planet. The only way to learn more about what to do is to observe.
A good teacher will not only demonstrate the postures, but describe them well. Watch, listen and do your best to follow the instructions. The more you do, the more comfortable you will become.
4) What to Say
Personally, I like it when the studio is buzzing with conversation before I begin teaching. I think it is important to meet the people with whom you are sharing the room and the class. This helps everyone feel more comfortable practicing and helps to eliminate the "silent competition" that can be created when people do not talk to each other.
I also think it is important to ask questions. If the class you attend begins with a chant or invocation ask what it means and why it is being done. If there is any sort of saying, expected practice or movements that everyone seems to know and join the only way you will learn is to ask why and how.
If you're considering attending a Yoga Asana class or want to know about what to expect when you join in contact us or book an Evaluative Session with Jenay to learn more.
Prepare Before You Play
Proper planning and preparation can reduce risk and improve the experience when you adventure.
Why do I practice Yoga? Because it prepares me for everything else I do. Sure, the poses are challenging and moving my body in ways that compliment my habitual posturing helps to relieve pain and discomfort, but ultimately, the benefits of Yoga are most noticeable when I am playing.
Stretch, Warm Up, Recover
There are many reasons to visit Lake Tahoe. The views are incredible, the mountains are amazing, the lake will steal your heart. And, there is a whole lot of outdoor fun to be had. Many people come to Tahoe to play. Mountain bikers can’t wait to get out on the dirt and improve their skills. Skiers wait for the perfect powder or bluebird day to make turns. We can golf, hike, paddle, trail run, cross country ski, I could go on and on.
When was the last time you stretched before you started skiing? How often do you warm up before a mountain bike ride? Did you take fifteen minutes to properly prepare your body for a hike? Most of us don’t and that’s where Yoga comes in. Even if you only join a couple of classes a week, it can help you to retain mobility and feel limber when you go out to bike, hike, run or play. Engaging in practices before and after your other activities help your body to prepare and recover. The movements we do during a Yoga asana practice are designed to keep your joints mobile and your muscles long.
Whether you are heading out for a leisurely hike or training for your next marathon it is important to consider more than your physical health when you are preparing to play. Sure, your body needs to be strong and mobile, but a clear and calm mind can be the difference between failing gracefully or becoming a disgrace. Have you ever noticed how you breathe while you’re skiing or rock climbing? It may be particularly evident when you’re visiting Lake Tahoe. At the lake you are standing at 6200 feet above sea level, that’s over a mile up. Climb a hill or ride the ski lift and the quantity of oxygen available decreases. Breathing slowly, deeply and calmly will help you to maintain focus.
Did you know that there are specific breathing techniques you can do to prepare your body for physical effort? Over time, many Yogic breathing techniques have been modified and renamed to help people feel more comfortable trying them. They have continued to be utilized for thousands of years because they work. Before you begin an activity or if you feel stressed or fearful while in it, your breath can help you to return to a state of calm. A simple two-part breath that allows you to completely fill and empty, slowly, will calm your nervous system, help you focus your thoughts, reduce anxiety and help you to return to a more calm state of being.
Mindset is everything. The thoughts you have about and during an activity can effect the experience you have. Practices that help us to focus upon the positive, when done regularly, can shift your perspective over time. If your day includes something that is going to challenge you in some way, perhaps because you will be engaging with crowds of people, trying something new or leveling up your skills, a positive mindset is incredibly important. A tool that can help you to establish a positive mindset is a journal. Making daily notes about the good stuff and re-reading what you’ve written will help you to keep these thoughts fresh in your mind. With these thoughts on the top of your mind, you’ll become better at seeing the “silver lining” when you feel challenged.
If you’d like to learn more about the practice of Yoga, breathwork, mindfulness and how these tools can help you to prepare for and recover from your play visit Bliss Experiences. Beyond traditional Yoga practices, sessions include healing sound, reiki and forest bathing and more. Beginning while you’re on vacation could help you to establish new practices that will prepare you for your next trip to Lake Tahoe.
Slow Travel in Lake Tahoe
Seeking serenity, peace, quite and self connection? Allow us to be your guides. Follow our suggestions for experiences that allow you to take your time and enjoy every moment during your stay in Lake Tahoe.
Listen to the Silent Trees
There is a difference between a hike, a walk and a Forest Bathing experience. Yoga is the practice of reestablishing union. You are so disconnected from your authentic self that you think that you are the stuff you have and the things you do. Spending time in nature reminds us that we are made up of the same qualities, particles and energy as the rest of the world.
Next time you travel be sure to get out and take a walk. A slow, mindful, engaged hike, that allows hear the sounds, smell the scents and touch the Earth. If your travels take you to Lake Tahoe reserve a Forest Bathing experience with Felix Brosch. He's trained in Shinrinyoku Forest Bathing. It has become a vital part of preventative healthcare in Japan. The results of Japanese studies have shown forest bathing improves sleep quality, mood, ability to focus, and stress levels. What a great way to slow down while you're in town.
Sink Into the Sand
Did you know that Tahoe's sand is made up of decomposing granite, DG for short? This unique sand allows you to sink in as you walk and rest on the beach. One of the best ways to experience this phenomena is to join a Beach Yoga practice. During the session you will get to experience the sand moving beneath your body. You'll identify imbalances while attempting to remain steady as the sand shifts.
The experienced guides at Lake Tahoe Yoga know how the sand moves and provide expert instruction to help you feel confident and develop awareness of your body as you attempt the postures during the practice. Tips and tricks are abundant during the classes to help you become stronger and more steady throughout the session. They also offer the second best savasana ever. The first best one? I'll tell you more about that later.
Take Small Sips
I like to drink gin and wine. Going to wine tastings is one of my favorite off-season activities. In my pursuit to find gin and wines that I enjoy I have befriended a distiller and a wine maker who have become good friends. I've noticed that each time we taste their libations we do so slowly; we take sips.
While you're visiting Tahoe instead of getting shots and chugging down drinks, take sips. Choose to join a wine tasting or cocktail event where you learn about the spirits you are tasting. You can even book private events at places like Bliss Experiences where a sommelier will guide you as you learn to taste wine and explore unique food pairings. Slow down, take sips, and truly experience that which you are tasting.
Let the Music Move You
www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/sound-bathThere are many branches of Yoga. The of practice of sound vibration is Mantra. Sounds are powerful. I'm sure you've felt the feeling of a deep drum beat or experienced the shrill of a high pitched whistle. Mantra Yoga is the practice of using sacred sound, intentionally, to effect shifts in energy and mindset. A group experience of mantra is called kirtan. These are hard to find in Lake Tahoe.
You can find live performances and will hear music being played throughout the basin. If you're seeking a "slow music" experience we recommend a sound bath or sound healing experience. Anne Roos offers live and virtual guided relaxation that incorporates the sound of harp music. You can join her while you're visiting or from the comfort of your home. Let the music slow you down.
Get to Lake Level
You probably came to Lake Tahoe to spend some time near or in the water. There are so many water-based experiences to discover. Power boats and jet skis are many. There are kayaks and paddle boards. You can waterski or wind surf. These high adrenalin activities draw a lot of attention not only because they are risky, but because they are fast and noisy.
Slow down, quiet down and truly experience the lake on a paddle board or kayak. These activities are low impact on the lake, the environment and on your body. The ultimate slow down experience on the lake is Paddle Yoga. Lake Tahoe Yoga offers scheduled classes and private bookings. Not only do you get to experience the lake at its most peaceful, you'll experience balance and restoration unlike ever before. You can also rent boards and kayaks or book tours at a variety of providers including South Tahoe Stand Up Paddle. Experience Tahoe at lake level and let the waters can help you to slow down.
As you plan your next trip to Tahoe consider including moments of slow travel. Allow time to get immersed in the forest, sink into the sand, sip in the scene, move with the music and float upon the waves. If you're seeking other suggestions or opportunities to slow down reach out or visit Bliss Experiences for recommendations and curated experiences.
Using Yoga to Treat Traumatic Stress
Since 2020 we have all been traumatized in one way or another as a result of the Covid-19 Pandemic. On the West Coast and in Lake Tahoe as well as the surrounding areas the trauma has extended beyond our homes to our businesses and community. In 2021 we were, again traumatized, by devastating fires. The effects of these events will not dissipate quickly. Through the practice of Yoga we can recognize them and learn how to move forward as changed people.
Stress Can Be Good
Every time we use our brains and move our bodies we are stressing ourselves out just a little bit. Those of us that live more athletic lifestyles or engage in thought-provoking work are activating a higher level of stress. Stock traders, body builders, professional athletes, and adrenaline junkies are on a whole other level. Stress that keeps our bodies active, our systems functioning healthily, and our minds engaged is good.
Trauma effects us all differently. While in the moment, there are some people who jump into action knowing what to do and getting it done. Others may move more slowly, dawdling and waiting to see if the moment will end until they are forced to act. After the traumatic event ends we are all effected differently.
Svadhyaya is the practice of self study: Identifying how you behave when faced with minor stresses like physical activity, problem solving, engaging with others, and when tasks have to be completed can help you to understand how you might respond to trauma.
It has been interesting having conversations with everyone as we've begun spending more time together. The way in which we all handled the lock-downs is not the same among my friends. I have found that there are a few general groups we can be sorted into.
One of my friends feeds off of social engagement. She travels constantly. Being stuck at home, alone, was a big challenge for her. She responded by reaching out with social media video conferencing. Groups of us would gather virtually to chat and hang out for as long as we, or she, needed.
It appeared that my introvert friends were happy to be at home and not having to deal with social engagements. It was a welcome shift for them. I recall seeing a variety of memes with images of happy introverts in their homes cozy on their sofas with their pets or a good book.
Luckily, I live in a place where the forest lies just feet from my front door and the population is small. I found that, as much as I enjoyed the video chat groups and time alone, getting outside is a necessity. A daily walk, run, or cross country ski outside was enough to help me feel myself.
Sadhana is your spiritual practice: What fills you up? Is it socializing with others? Peace, quiet and alone time? Or do you require connection to nature? Whatever helps you the most is one part of the remedy for reducing stress and calming the effects of trauma.
Tell Your Story
No one can take away the experience you've had or how you feel about it. Others can listen, sympathize, and some can empathize. The experiences you have are yours and no one else's will be exactly the same. There may be similarities, though, and that is what is most important.
While we were evacuated from our home the conversations we had with outsiders were mostly about what it looked like in Lake Tahoe and how bad the fire was. It was difficult to grasp how severe the situation was and even more of a struggle to imagine what those who had lost their homes were going through.
As we began getting back to life after repopulating it seemed like the only topic to discuss was where we went and what we did while we were evacuated. Everyone had their story. Some people had "evacucations;" they viewed their time away as a "forced vacation" and enjoyed every moment. Some of us never got a break and worked the entire time. Others couldn't wait to return because they had no where else to go.
Satsang is like minded conversation: Sharing our stories and experiences helped us to connect with each other and to recognize that we were not alone in our experiences. Even though none of had the exact same one, we are still able to relate to one another. Telling my story didn't take it away nor am I able to take anyone else's. It did help me to know that someone heard it and knows what I went through.
I know, this is what every Yoga teacher says all of the time. It's so true, though. Being present with the people, at the place, in the moment is incredibly valuable. Dwelling on what was and how things were traps us. Change is going to continue to happen and practicing Yoga helps us become more comfortable with this fact.
Dharana is mindful focus: Yoga is a practice of observation, awareness and intention. It's okay to experience joy while spending time doing something fun with people you love. If the moment is one of sadness, quiet, or reflection be there, fully. Just don't get stuck there. Just as you are always observing what happens physically, energetically, emotionally and mindfully during a Yoga asana practice so can you do so in every moment.
Be Your Self
Every experience we've had, all the things we've learned, the culture in which we were raised, the places we've lived, and the people with whom we live our lives shape us to become who we are and will be. I often refer back to my upbringing in New England to explain why I communicate directly, have little patience for lateness, and don't mind the cold. There is trauma in my life including my parent's divorce following the deaths of my grandparents and trauma related to alcoholism that I know continues to effect me and the way I live. I can't eliminate those aspects of myself, but I can own them.
Aum Tat Sat means "I am that:" Own who you are and practice observing when you act in a way that was shaped by trauma, experiences, upbringing, etc. If you don't like your own behavior then keep practicing to change it. You have control over yourself. Choose who you want to be and be your Self.
Join classes at Lake Tahoe Yoga to learn more about Yoga and to engage in practices that reduce stress and can help you manage the effects of trauma. For individualized support check out Jenay Aiksnoras, BS, MS, ERYT for Realignment Coaching: personalized life coaching and therapeutic Yoga.
Yoga is not a practice for the Young. It is a practice to keep us feeling young. As you age the movements, breath work, and mindfulness practices of Yoga can help you to continue living a full and engaging life.
Yoga for the Young
When I was in my early twenties I was in so much pain that there were occasions when I couldn't stand up straight. My lower backed was compressed. The activities of my daily life were increasing the damage. I saw the doctor, took muscle relaxants, stopped running and went to the chiropractor. Then, my friends invited me to audit a Yoga class. Everything changed.
I had found a way to feel well and to reduce my back pain. I started seeking out places to practice Yoga. I visited gyms, studios, people's homes, American Legions, community centers, and more. I sought Yoga classes everywhere I went. Eventually, I decided that vinyasa was my preferred style of practice. At the gym and eventually, my teacher's studio, I was the star student. I knew every posture and could flow through the sequences almost flawlessly. Headstands and handstands, arm balances and backward bends were my favorite postures.
Yoga is Wellbeing
I trained to become a Yoga teacher and while doing so learned much about what Yoga really is. When I first began teaching I guided in the style that was most familiar; vinyasa. My teacher and guide helped me to identify what was out of balance in my practice. She suggested I work on alignment. Again, everything changed. I dove deep into study of anatomy and physiology, the body and psychology. The way in which I practiced and taught changed. I started to identify my own imbalances and began to help others recognize theirs.
The more I practiced, the slower my asana and the more intentional my practice became. I was less interested in the athleticism of the practice. Caring for my body, mind, emotions, and energy became my focus. I wanted to do things that will keep me feeling well in every way.
Yoga as We Age
Approaching the practice with awareness of self opened new doors. Clients with specific needs including anxiety, Rheumatoid Arthritis, cancer remission, spinal issues, Multiple Sclerosis, Sciatic pain, recent surgery, Ankylosing Spondylosis, Scoliosis, overweight, as well as other minor and major limitations began seeking me out. Practicing therapeutic Yoga includes more than just addressing bodily needs. We attend to every aspect of ourselves.
Teaching people of all ages with all types of needs enlightened me to the importance of Yoga as we age. Whether 19 or 99, Yoga is accessible and available for all. Every posture can be varied or adjusted to serve individual needs. Pain can be managed, discomforts reduced, healing increased, and wellbeing created through the movements, breath work, and mindful practices of Yoga.
Yoga as a Challenge
My specialty is my ability to vary and create practices in the moment that serve the needs of whomever is in front of me. This skill came naturally while I was training to teach Yoga and has continued to develop over time.
Anyone who sticks with the practices I guide will observe that we are always working through the various aspects of postures before we actually get into them. The pose itself may seem easy, at first, but when we break it down a new appreciation for the subtleties of each position can be developed.
Practicing in a variety of locations can create challenges that you may never have expected. Your ability to focus, balance, breathe, and access the practice can be effected by where you are, who you are with, and the surface upon which you practice.
Challenge yourself by creating variation in your practice and learn to serve your own needs as they continually change over time. Keep practicing Yoga, everywhere, and experience how it always provides you with exactly what you need no matter your age.
Join a scheduled practice, request a private session, or deepen your individual practice now and as you age. Learn more about how we can help at LakeTahoeYoga.com.
Seeing You, Seeing Me
We are tribal creatures who enjoy engagement, connection, conversation, and presence. The practice of Yoga is one of union. Virtual classes provide much, but the connection we feel to others while practicing in person is much deeper.
The transition to more virtual classes as well as those that are on-demand has opened many doors. You can now access any teacher from anywhere and attend practices that may not have previously been available in your area. The opportunity to learn from new teachers, instructors, and guides has given many of us a chance to expand our knowledge and skills.
As we transition from "at home" back to "real life" many of us will continue to practice virtually as well as through on-demand classes. Being able to join in whenever we are able and to re-attend classes we wish to repeat are conveniences we previously didn't have.
Missing from virtual and on-demand practices are the qualities that we seek out as community creatures; connection, energetic exchange, engagement, conversation, and presence. The virtual world is one of connected disconnect.
While joining a practice with people from all over the world we get the chance to see, but not to know them. Our guide may be able to provide verbal adjustments and suggestions, but they aren't specific to our individual needs. We see a two-dimensional figure in a flat space and have to shift our bodies and perspectives to see them, then readjust ourselves into the posture. There are sound delays and internet issues that make participating challenging and, sometimes, impossible.
If you've ever been to Tahoe you know how magical this place is. There is no way to experience the size of the lake except for being at it. You can't experience the magnitude of the mountains unless you stand among them. An entire tree can't be seen to it's fullest magnificence without your own eyes. To see is to feel, is to experience.
Our new practice space at Bliss Experiences has been designed to capture the experience of being at Tahoe whether you are in the basin, or joining virtually. Our intention is to give everyone an experience of being present even if they are unable to be in the space. Of course, there is nothing quite like being within the four walls of our space. Visually and energetically, the experience of being present and with others is unparalleled.
As we begin offering indoor, in-person practices again, we will also continue to invite you to attend virtually. You are welcome to join the practice in whichever way you feel most comfortable.
Spaces will be limited in our indoor sessions. Proof of vaccination or a mask will be required to attend. Physical adjustments will only be available during Individualized Private Sessions. We suggest that you bring your own tools. Mats will be available for rent. You may pay a monthly fee to store your materials in our space. Memberships and registrations are required to attend.
Outdoor classes will continue to be offered on beach and paddle board during which we will not be requiring masks. We ask that you do a health check prior to attending: if you feel sick, have a temperature or Covid-19 symptoms, please do not attend. Bring your own beach towel, water, and sun protection.
Please practice satya (truthfulness) and ahimsa (non-harming) by honestly sharing your vaccination status. Our ability to continue to offer indoor, in-person classes depends upon your honesty and consideration of others and our small business's need to follow the current directives to be able to remain open.
Be Better at Handling Stress
Becoming fit and flexible can help you to better manage stress in both body and mind.
What is Fitness?
I used to hear the word fitness and an image of Jane Fonda or Arnold Swarzenegger would pop into my head. After years of living a fit and healthy life as a yogini the images that come to mind are, now, very different. My perception of fitness includes more than physical appearance. I define fitness as: overall wellbeing. I strive to feel fit in body, energy, and mind.
My day begins with a mindful focus practice. Either the sun or my alarm wake me each morning. I prop myself up to a seated position and begin. I mindfully focus upon a mantra (sound vibration practice) while setting an intention for the day. I like to do this practice in the morning before I actively engage in the world because it is the time during which my mind is most clear and my body is naturally relaxed.
The rest of my day is driven by the intention I set. It is guiding me throughout my day as a reminder to keep practicing with care for myself and awareness. I think about it while I move around, sit at my desk, teach others, take a walk, eat, etc. Sometimes I forget, or get distracted, but as soon as I catch myself I get right back to my practice.
I've been known to call out practitioners who rely on mobility instead of strength to access postures. There is a delicate balance between flexibility and strength that, when found, provides us with deeper access to our selves. To be overly mobile can result in injury just as being overly strong can do the same.
Consider your parents. Possibly, one was very strict and the other less so. When my parents divorced my Dad became the strict one, while my Mom became more flexible with the rules. The imbalance allowed me the opportunity to break rules and push limits that I never would have had they remained together. In your body and mind the same imbalances are present. It's up to you to identify and address them.
As one of my clients recently said, "It's nice to take an hour to do something for myself and to get away from work." It's easy to become rigid in our work schedules, weaken our self care, and too flexible when it comes to indulging.
One way to engage in self care and create balance is Yoga. It helps to reduce rigidity, build strength, and manage mobility. Allowing an hour of time to engage in self care during a Yoga practice can have a significant impact. Embedded in that hour is more than movement. The combination of intentional posturing, directed breathing, mindful movement, and guided focus can transform your perception; it can shift the way you in which you engage in the rest of the day.
Fit & Flexible
If you could set one intention for the rest of your day, week, month, what would it be? Try beginning your day with this intention in mind - use it to help you feel fit. Allow it to lead you as you live, work, eat, engage, and experience the world.
Consider the things about which you are rigid/strict/stuck, etc. and, in compliment, in which ways are you are too willing to be flexible or "go with the flow." How can you bring these ideas into balance?
Engage in self care; practice, play outside, create, explore. An hour a day is more powerful than you think.
Simple changes create significant effects. Practice becoming fit and flexible to reduce stress and feel more balanced.
Jenay guides Private Therapeutic Yoga Practices that focus upon your specific needs. To learn more or to begin developing your fitness and flexibility visit: https://www.therealignmentcoach.com/
Equilibrium is Strength + Mobility
Did you know that postures were not originally included in the practice of Yoga?
Raja Yoga is the oldest form of Yoga and included mindfulness practices. Later, kriya (purification) techniques were added. Later, still, asana was added.
According to the Hatha Yoga Pradipika Yoga is the union of prana and mind with the Self. Getting there isn't so easy. For you cannot control the mind with the mind. Thus, Hatha Yoga and the practice of asana is done to initiate the process of physical awareness so we can become better aware of the more subtle aspects of ourselves.
Hatha Yoga is the process of establishing prefect physical, mental, emotional and psychic equilibrium by manipulating the energies of the body.
We don't do Yoga poses to look good. We do them to feel well. The better we become at doing poses with awareness, intention, steadiness, and balance, the better we feel. If we become skilled at moving through poses with grace and they become a part of our daily lives we have developed equilibrium.
Strength can be weakness. I was recently reminded of this as my left trapezius muscle tightened up into a large marble. I had been repeatedly turning my head to the left without rotating the rest of my body. I know better, but wasn't consciously moving. The result was neck pain and an inability to turn left (I was stuck like Zoolander :D). Awareness, rest and heat were the only cures for the damage I had caused. The strength of my muscle had become a weakness.
Every pose has aspects of strength and mobility. We may be steadying ourselves with our legs while attempting to open our arms and chests. In every sequence of postures we should be moving our bodies in all directions so as to awaken areas that have become rigid and engage the parts that are overly mobile. Practice observing your bodies strengths. Where can you become more mobile? Where can you actively engage?
The main objective of Hatha Yoga is to create an absolute balance of the interacting activities and processes of the physical body, mind, and energy. This is perfection.
Nothing is flawless or perfectly symmetrical. All things are always transforming, transmuting, and metamorphizing. We practice Yoga asana to change our bodies, pranayama to shift our breathing, pratyahara to become more aware of our energy and emotions, and mindful focus to develop self control. Continuous practice results in continual change. All of the systems of body, mind, and energy interact and effect each other. They are in a constant state of transformation. Rather than remaining stagnant, still, and stuck, practice Yoga and become perfect at change.
When you have a small light in a room at night, the whole room is illuminated. Sadhana is your practice; your light. Like a seed, you must protect it, feed it, and nurture it.
If you talk about, demonstrate, and boast your attainments it develops your sense of ego or "I-ness." You have probably heard me say, "It's not a Yoga show." When guiding a practice my demonstration of the postures is not to a performance, it is a visual aid intended to help you see the intended result. My personal asana practice is done privately. My sadhana is my lifestyle. The pictures I post of myself in postures are intended to enthuse you to try, to join in, to continue to practice, and to engage in your own sadhana.
Keep practicing; keep shining your light. Allow the seed of Yoga to be protected and nourished so that it, and you, may access equilibrium.
To join a scheduled class or book a private session visit our website. Learn more about the practices of Hatha and Raja Yoga through the other articles on our blog. We look forward to sharing the practice with you.
Silence or Sound?
Should music be played during Yoga? The shift to virtual classes has us questioning the necessity of music as part of the practice.
The Sounds of Silence
Originally, there was no music played during Yoga practices. Search YouTube and you can find videos of B.K.S. Iyengar and Patabhi Jois as well as lesser known practitioners guiding others in silent rooms where the only sound is that of their breath.
Fast forward to 2019 and you would be hard fast to find a class that doesn't have music playing. It had become to so common that a silent practice felt uncomfortable. One of the few lineages that continued to offer classes without music were those who practiced in the Iyengar style.
From Mantra to Hip Hop
I began attending Yoga classes in 1999. I wore street clothes to class. There was no music played. As my interest in the practice grew and I began to explore lineages beyond svarupa (my first), I stepped onto the path and never looked back.
I learned that vinyasa simply means an interconnected series of movements done with grace. These classes almost always included recorded music being played in the background. It was most likely Krisna Das mantra. It wasn't until 2003 that I began hearing popular music played during class. At Gold's Gym, where I was introduced to my teacher, she and others would mix in popular music with the traditional chanting recordings.
Adding to the Distractions?
When I was given the chance to choose the music for my classes, I was excited to begin creating mix CDs that included my favorite combinations of mantra, pop, jam bands, and rock. I had cases of music that I would carry with me to every class I taught. Each mix was curated to shift the energy of the practice intentionally.
The longer I taught, the less excited I was about the music I used. Making mixes became tedious, my Ipod could only hold so many songs, and then streaming channels became available. This made my life so much easier.
Is It Free?
For years I had a collection of channels on my Pandora or Spotify that I could easily select and play knowing that the music playing would be just fine for whatever I chose to teach. The songs themselves became less important. The energy of the music needed to align with the energy of the class. As time passed, though, discussions over the legality of using music and requirements for licensing began to rise in the Yoga community.
Now, Yoga studio owners have to cover the cost of licensing to play music as part of their classes. It is a growing issue and the question of whether we are performing and choreographing to the music is the main reason this new issue has arisen.
Back to the Basics
I began using less music, at lower volumes. In my own practice, I do so in silence. When the pandemic hit and we could no longer practice together in groups my virtual classes naturally shifted to be guided by voice only. No one seemed to mind. Of course, if they want to, anyone can mute themselves and play music in their own home while they practice virtually. However, in many discussions among those who join me, they agree that the silence is quite nice.
Keep the Peace
You'll notice that there is music added to the recorded classes we offer on YouTube and On-Demand. However, when you join a live virtual session it will be in silence unless you choose to play music in your space. If you haven't tried a silent practice, perhaps now is the time. I find that it provides an opportunity to truly connect with your breath, remain aware of your body, and spend time with your thoughts.
Join a Live Virtual Practice with Lake Tahoe Yoga by becoming a member of Bliss Experiences. When you register your account will receive one (1) credit to join any scheduled Monday class.
Be a Better Gift Giver
The practice of Yoga includes one very difficult aspect: give generously and without the expectation of receiving anything in return. How good are you at this practice? I know I can be better.
Break Your Holiday Habits
My family still does the whole Christmas Tree gift giving thing. We live thousands of miles apart and getting together is not easy, especially during the holidays. I think that giving gifts is a way for us to feel close. Unfortunately, it also adds to the feeling of distance. We write our list, send it off to all interested parties and receive exactly what we asked for.
Break out of the habit of holiday gift giving by keeping a list or purchasing items that you think those whom you love would like. Instead of thinking of items for yourself last minutes, keep a list of things that brought you joy throughout the year. When the holiday season comes it might guide you in suggesting gifts your family can give you.
Give Into the Moment
I feel like words are losing their power. Materials items have taken over. To be honest, I struggle with this. I am not the best at remembering to send gifts or cards. I appreciate receiving cards, and know that some people are really good at making them, but can't help but feel like I am wasteful when I toss them in the trash.
Use your words to thank people. Think about how you can best express your appreciation for what they have done, given, or said. Spend some time practicing words of thanks and gratefulness so you have them ready to go when the time comes.
The struggle of the small business owner is real. Those of us dedicated to the pursuit of entrepreneurship can feel like we are on the ocean and the storm never ends. We are doing our best to provide the best service, unique products, and special touches you can't get from Amazon or big box stores.
When you feel the need to give a gift begin with your local shops. Think about the person you wish to buy for and ask the shop owner what they recommend. Consider a piece of locally made jewelry, artwork, a gift certificate for a class or treatment, a kit or a piece of memorabilia from time shared together.
Give What You Like
What's the Golden Rule again? Treat others as you wish to be treated? How about we give to others that which we want? When you see, experience, or feel something that you really like think about who in your life might also like it, or who might need it. Instead of making the purchase for yourself do so for someone else.
A good way to practice getting good at this is to notice what your friends say about your stuff. What do they like? What do they notice? What do they comment about? Step back and look at your life, experiences, and stuff through the eyes of others. It might help you not only identify what to give, but also what you can give up.