Ashta Anga refers to the eight limbs of Yoga. According to the ancient texts, “The Yoga Sutra of Patanjali,” and “The Hatha Yoga Pradipika,” all eight must be practiced in order for Yoga to occur. Yoga is both the means and the end. It is the combination of the practices of right action, speech and thought. What is right is defined by the eight limbs. When we follow the guidelines provided by the ancient Yogis we are more likely to be upon the right path.
The Right Practice for You
Every body is different and each one of us is unique. Just because all of your friends are taking “Hot Yoga” or “Vinyasa,” style classes that does not mean it is the right practice for you. In fact, it is rare that a hot or active practice is the best place for any of us to begin. The additional stress placed upon your body due to warm temperatures and new, challenging movements can actually hurt you. As with anything new, your first Yoga practice should be slow and well directed. You should be given the opportunity to attempt simple movements, ask questions and provide feedback to your teacher about how you are feeling throughout the session.
Living in Pain
I began practicing Yoga because all of my friends were enrolled in the class and it fulfilled a course requirement. I continued practicing because it initially reduced and then eliminated my debilitating back pain.
My pain had begun in high school as a result of scoliosis and growth spurts while competitively running in track and cross country. I continued to run while in college and continued to damage my back further. Adding insult to injury; my role as a teacher for children with autism required that I lean forward to reach desks and be at eye level with my students. There were days during which, due to the pain, I couldn't stand up straight, sit comfortably or sleep.
Yoga for Healing
Yoga Asana as well as the calming effects of breathing consciously and mindfulness practices helped me to heal. The movement was the perfect prescription for my back. The breathing helped me to remain calm when managing stressful situations and aggressive students. The mindfulness practices helped me learn to slow down and focus so that I could pause before putting my body into an unsafe position or activity.
As I continued to practice I learned the differences between the various modern styles and began to explore the various practices. When I met my teacher, in New York, I was granted access to the lineage of Rajahatha Yoga and began to develop my own practices in a way that best works for my life.
Continuing the Healing
Although I enjoy attending group classes at Yoga studios, my personal practice is what keeps me healthy. I spend less time moving actively and more time slowing down. The more slowly I move, the more awareness I have, and the better I am at addressing whatever issues; physical, emotional, energetic or mindful, that I am dealing with.
If you are ready to begin healing and to feel better through Yoga you might consider seeking out a teacher who has experience in more than just teaching classes. That which you experience physically could be a manifestation of something deeper and vice versa. Seek someone who can offer more than just poses. Find a Guru: a guide who sheds light where it is currently darkness.
Celebrate Yourself by Celebrating Others
The practice of Santosha is defined as having an attitude of contentment through which unexcelled happiness, mental comfort, joy and satisfaction is obtained.
We humans seem to always be seeking satisfaction in the external world and our internal fantasies. Only when we comfortably accept what we currently have will be able to do the practices that lead to the highest realization.
Begin to practice Santosha by celebrating those in your life who help you to feel happy, comfortable and joyful. Realize the satisfaction and contentment that results from having them in your life.
Practice Yoga Everyday, Everywhere
Just because September has been designated as "National Yoga Month" doesn't mean that you should stop practicing when the month has ended. Just like any other lifestyle Yoga is to be practiced regularly in order to have the best effect.
Remember that Asana is just one eighth of the practice. There are seven other fabulous aspects that you can incorporate into your life. Conscious breathing, mindful focus, inward awareness, etc. can all effect you at home, at work and while out enjoying the world.
Your health depends upon more than just one month of Yoga. The best time to begin is now and the best time to continue is forever.
Contentment Happens When We Let Go
Most of our lives are driven by control. We have schedules, responsibilities, places to be and people to see. Add the practice of Yoga to your daily schedule. Join a class, follow a video, book a private session. Booking the time for yourself will allow you the opportunity to let go.
Your time in the practice is time to let go. Release the worries and stresses of the day. Relax and know that there is no where else to be. Learn to practice taking time out for yourself. Learn to change your lifestyle with Yoga.
Practice Yoga, Change Your Life
Yoga is, if nothing else, a practice in mind over matter. The more we practice, the more we begin to change the way we feel, see and engage in the world. Join us and learn to begin creating change. It may not happen quickly, but that feeling of Santosha (contentment) will slowly express itself as you continue to focus upon Discovering Your Self.
When the thermometer reads single digits, and the window shows nothing but wind and snow, the idea of working out can send chills down your spine, literally. The cold has a way of deterring us from fitness goals and leading us to the couch, fireplace and hot chocolate.
There are plenty of indoor and fun options for staying fit and focused in the winter.
Make a plan
As with any time of the year, an important part of maintaining a healthy routine is by planning to commit to a daily dose of exercise.
Try yoga asana as an exercise at home
Changing up the routine can help you make your workouts a little more exciting and give you new feats to discover. According to Healthline, yoga asana is the easiest way to stay fit in winter. You can be any fitness level to start and it can be done at home. Try a new yoga asana class this winter or commit to a fitness plan that can be done at home, with friends, or at the gym.
Yoga asana can be done almost anywhere, especially indoors, which means you can stay out of the cold while you work out. There are plenty of free online classes and tutorials that can teach you the basics and get you started.
The Yoga Journal maintains that yoga asana can keep you healthy this winter. By implementing certain poses you can increase circulation and help your body clear out bacteria and viruses by filtering them out through the lymph nodes. A regular yoga routine can also help you stay warm and prevent aches and stiffness.
Build your home gym
Taking some time and a little investment in a simple home gym can really pay off in terms of motivation. All you need is your body and a few basic tools to help. Having a specifically designated space in your home for your workouts will set you up for success. With just a few basic tools and equipment, you can ensure a full-body and effective workout, even as the snow falls outside.
Don’t let your body down this winter. Keep it active with a creative approach to in-home training. Remember to make a plan and a commitment to yourself and your goals. Implementing exercise as a regular part of your day can bring years of well-being and health.
Photo Credit: Pixabay
Lessons Learned in the Bahamas: Always carry a Machete
Any job can be made easier if you choose the correct tools. On a trip in the Bahamas I decided to collect various coconuts in order to experience the difference between young coconut water and the meat of a mature coconut. I did my research and knew what to look for, then went around the area collecting. When it came time to open the coconuts I discovered that the only tools available to do so were kitchen knives. Oh how a machete would have made a difference! After hours of whacking, smashing, shaving, and cutting, I opened all of the coconuts and was able to enjoy the fruits of my labor. Had I a machete, the work would have taken one quarter the time.
How to Practice Hatha Yoga
Hatha Yoga focuses on the practice of asana, pranayama and kriya. It is the most popular practice in the United States. As a result, there are hundreds of companies selling products to help you improve your practice. Traditionally, there are just 3 tools you need in order to practice Yoga everywhere: your body, your breath and your mind. However, being able to create a space and access poses with ease often requires some assistance. When you don't have your instructor near, a few tools can change everything.
Tahoe Yoga Tools: A Unique Souvenier
Over time we have tested a variety of asana tools. Due to our small retail space, we carry very few. Those that are on our shelves have been tested and proven. These are the tools we use in our studio and the ones we recommend for you to use during your practice. Manduka Mats stay clean, show little wear (over years of use) and are easy to clean. Our foam blocks are lightweight which make them durable and easy to toss to the side, or lift over head. We also get a pretty sweet bulk discount from Yoga Direct. Our Yoga Straps are sold exculsively in the studio. Our director, Jenay, makes them from organic cotton and YKK clips. You won't find these anywhere else. The same goes for our Lavender Eye Sachets. Filled with organic lavender and buckwheat, they are unique to LTY.
Support Your Self, Support Small Business
As you begin to practice Hatha Yoga more seriously, consider the tools with which you approach your practice. Consider the source and the quality. Consider for whom you practice. Join us for a class and gain more than just awareness. Develop the physical skills to access deeper areas of your own body. Lengthen your breath and become aware of your emotions. Learn to listen to the chatter in your mind and quiet the unnecessary thoughts. Do so with the correct tools and you will develop a stronger practice.
1 Manduka eKO Mat
2 Foam Blocks
1 Yoga Strap OR Eye Sachet
Visit Lake Tahoe Yoga to purchase. Orders may be placed online for pick-up at studio.
Yoga vs yoga
During a recent video stream, the difference between capital "Y" Yoga and lowercase "y" yoga was described. The first being the traditional practice as described by the Yoga Sutra and Hatha Yoga Pradipika. The latter, being the practices commonly engaged in by modern Americans. What is the difference? INTENTION: Yoga practitioners are seeking betterment, contentment, enlightenment, while yoga practitioners are seeking a better body, group affiliation and fun. The traditional practice of Yoga has been copied, cut, split, divided and sectioned out. There are hundreds of styles that focus on just a few of the aspects of the practice. As a yoga practitioner, you are only getting a tiny taste of a very big pie.
Be Willing to Listen
To truly practice Yoga you have to be able to honor the traditions outlined in texts from over 5000 years ago while still existing and functioning as a human living in today's society. This is not easy. Many Yogis are perceived as weirdos who are out of touch with the rest of the world. Look at Jim Carey; he understands Yoga, but his words are falling upon deaf ears. Many of those with whom he speaks are not practicing Yoga. What he has to say is difficult to grasp, therefore, it can sound as though he has lost his mind. Yoga practitioners are willing to listen, even if we don't quite understand. We are ready to learn, to experience, to gain wisdom.
Be Willing to Compromise
You perceive the world based upon your upbringing and experiences. You see the world through your own eyes. You will never be able to see it as your brother, best friend, grandfather, or aunt does. At all times, we must do our best to attempt to see the world in another way, even though it will always be shaded by our own perspective. We can compromise. We can reach out to others and meet them where they are. At Lake Tahoe Yoga we do this by offering our weekly Vinyasa & Vino practice.
We are seeking yoga practitioners who are willing to attempt to see the world differently. We want to meet you and hear about how you see the world. We have opened our door to invite you in to learn about the traditional practice of Yoga and to encourage you to try it out.
We want you to feel good, to look good and to have fun as well as to listen, learn and discover your Self.
Join us on Friday evenings for Vinyasa; a sequence of interconnected movements that encourage grace. Then stay for a glass of wine and Satsang; a conversation among like-minded people.
You are out of Balance
You night not notice it, but you have become so comfortable with how things are that you just accept that this is how you are supposed to feel. When was the last time you checked in with yourself? When was the last time you tried something new? When was the last time you felt uncomfortable? When was the last time you allowed yourself 15 minutes of time to allow your thoughts to run wild? When was the last time you allowed yourself 15 minutes to quiet those thoughts?
How well do you know your Self?
In the movie Anger Management, the main character is asked to explain who he is. Can you do this? Without describing yourself as what you do, who you know, where you live, what you enjoy? Can you describe your Self?
Try this: write down that which you do, where you live, what you enjoy, who you know, who you are in relation to others, etc. Now, describe what you look like, what you love and what you dislike about yourself.
Now, read what you have written. Is this you?
You are not your self.
Through the practice of yoga asana we develop an understanding of our habits. We learn that we have, over time, developed practices that protect us, that compensate, that hide the imabalances.
When we direct our breath, we identify the limitations we place upon ourselves and the ways in which we cheat ourselves from accepting who we are and what we need.
When we sit or rest in silence we learn to listen to the chattering within us. We begin to hear our body and breath. We notice the useless thoughts buzzing around in our heads.
Movement, breath and silence help us to identify all of the imbalances to which we are blind; it sheds light upon that which we have allowed to hide in the darkness.
You are your Self
We are not here to direct you through a workout or fix your ailments. We are here to help you to identify your imbalances. We are here to guide you through asana sequences that address physical and energetic change. We are here to guide you through breathing practices that shift your awareness and spark emotion. We are here to encourage you to be silent so that you can hear the chatter of your mind.
It's time to show up. To be here. It's time to seek synchronicity.
Yoga's sister science, Auyrveda, brings balance to our body, breath and mindful practices. By evaluating our lifestyle, eating, sleeping and working habits, we begin to paint a picture of who we are. We begin to see the difference between the self and the Self! We become whole only by breaking apart the pieces of our own individual puzzling selves. Each of us is like a puzzle that appears to be put together, but when you look closely, you see that there are pieces added or misplaced. As we practice, as we shed light upon the darkness, we begin to identify the pieces that need to be removed or replaced.
Book a Synchronicity Session today.
Identify imbalances. Learn how to return to your true nature. Return to synchronicity through specified practices.
We all know that the only way to truly prepare for Winter sports is to get out there and do them. Whether you are heading to Heavenly or Kirkwood, Squaw or Sierra at Tahoe, Yoga Asana and Pranayama as well as mindful practices can help you to feel strong, safe and aware while out on the snow. Try out these simple practices to help you enjoy this year's season. You won't regret it.
1) Asana (Poses)
There are many Yoga asana (poses) that can help you to strengthen as well as recover from your day out on the slopes. An experienced and knowledgeable instructor will be able to guide you through theses poses and teach you how to use them in a way that helps you prepare for your day out, then release afterward.
Yudrasana (Lunge) - raising and lowering between high and low lunges.
Deviasana (Goddess) - holding, and also shifting your upper body from side-to-side.
Virabhadrasana Dvi (Warrior Two) - holding, as well as rotating.
Parsvottanasana - intense side stretch.
Supta Virasana - reclined hero
Svastikasana - auspicious pose/reclined twist variation
2) Pranayama (Conscious Breath)
If you’re heading out to the resort you are unlikely to be the only one doing so. You can prepare for and remain relaxed while sharing the mountain by applying a simple breathing techniques. Not only will they help you to remain calm and patient in lift lines. Pranayama practices can also help you to reduce stress levels while you are out and about traveling and visiting the area.
Victorious/Powerful Breathing (Ujjayi):
Breathe in and out of your nose only.
Constrict the back of your throat slightly so that your breath is audible to you, only.
Feel your breath as it moves in and out of your throat.
Slow your breathing down so that each inhale and exhale is as long as you can make it.
3) Dharana (Mindful Practice)
We can easily become caught up in the cycle of activity and buzz around us while we are out on the slopes. There are people moving everywhere and in every direction. It’s a good idea to step out of the way, look around, and observe our circumstances every once in a while.
Be sure to follow these simple mountain rules to keep yourself and others safe:
-Move to the side of the trail if you need to stop for any reason. While waiting for friends, fixing your gear or taking a break, move out of the way of those who are riding.
-Be considerate of others by keeping your backpack, poles and gear close to your body while moving around or riding the lift. Wear headphones if you like to listen to music and keep the volume at a level that still allows you to hear the liftee and those around you in the case that someone is trying to get your attention.
-Stay in control of yourself, even if your friends are bombing down the slope ahead of you. Most of us don’t get to ski every day. Honor your abilities and be honest about how much control you really have over your board or skis. Everyone, including that 5-year-old grom crushing it on the bumps will have more fun when staying in control.
Find a spot on the side of the trail, pull up a chair, or head into the lodge and relax for a few minutes. Close your eyes and listen to the sounds around you. Enjoy the crisp air and the swish of others sliding by.
To learn more about the poses, breath work and mindfulness practices that keep Jenay peaceful during Tahoe Winter visit LakeTahoeYoga.com.
The Meaning of Yoga
The word Yoga comes from the sanskrit root word, "Yuj," which means to yoke or unite. No matter the style which you choose, while practicing and afterward, you should feel a sense of self-connection as well as a connection with those whom you practice. No union = no Yoga.
There are two approaches to the practice of Yoga: Hatha and Raja. At Lake Tahoe Yoga we practice both, simultaneously. The effort, or movement, is Hatha. The mindful aspect is Raja. An authentic Yoga practice with offer both physical and mindful practices. Each movement should require focus and attention while at the same time an experience of release of distractions. As the practice continues, you should feel a sense of freedom and one-pointed focus.
Alignment is everything. Any teacher that tells you to "listen to your body," or "move freely in any way that feels good," is doing you a disservice. We each have our own anatomical alignment, but that doesn't mean we are all aligned properly. We have spent years moving in unhealthy, habitual ways. Yoga Asana is designed to help us adjust our bodies into the best position and to move more healthily. While moving, your attention should move to misalignments and a good teacher will help you identify ways in which to correct them.
Breathing is one of the most important aspects of Hatha. In a traditional practice, you will learn the postures first, and then the breath that directs each posture. Each breath is important as it helps to move not only your body, but your energy as well. Poorly directed breath can result in physical issues, mental strain and energetic blockages. Your breath should be effortful, but not forceful. If you are ever breathing with more effort than you are applying physically, you are breathing too hard.
Finally, energetic awareness is the key to a good class and high quality instruction. Your instructor should be able to hold your focus no matter where you are practicing. Shaktipat is the exchange of energy between yourself and your guide during your practice. If your instructor is distracted, unfocused, continuously talking, giving inclear instructions, etc., there is no shaktipat. Throughout the entire practice you should feel as though you can completely let go and just follow the guidance of your teacher.
Yoga has recently become a hot word to add to anything you do. There is Yoga with Kittens, Yoga with Goats, Naked Yoga, Paddle Yoga, etc. With the word yoga being thrown into everything from athletic work outs to types of tea, it can be difficult to figure out what type of yoga is correct for you.
Although Americans have made a business of teaching asana, we can never make yoga into a business. To find bliss is an individual pursuit and, according to the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, requires a guru - someone who is Javanmukti. Unfortunately, that means those of us worried about red lines, income, practitioner numbers and advertising, aren't there. So, how do we, as yogis, as teachers, as business owners really follow and guide others on the path of yoga while still surviving the commercial world? We must not lose sight of what this practice is all about. It's not about getting more people in the door or becoming a "famous yogi." It's about quality. To teach is to guide, to give others the knowledge of ages, to help them to find their path. It's about sharing all that you have learned and helping others to seek out more while you do the same. It's about satya and ahimsa. To be a yoga teacher, a studio owner, a guide for others, is to always keep the mind of the beginner and to follow your path to enlightenment not the one of fame and fortune. Are you teaching?