Simple ways to practice Yoga without the guidance of a teacher.
1. Establish Consistency
When we don’t have the call of the alarm to wake us, or our schedule shifts unexpectedly, it can become difficult to retain a consistent schedule. Many of us take advantage of the lack of responsibility we have on the weekends or during vacation to sleep in, float through the day, and generally feel the freedom to avoid tasks.
Yoga teaches two practices; do not get lost in habit (karma), and remain consistent in your practices (tapas).
When we begin doing something without awareness it has become habit. Do you think about which hand you use to hold your toothbrush? When was the last time you had to think before picking up a pencil to write? When you get in the car do you think about where the key goes? I’m sure you can think of many other habits that you have developed over time.
Consistency requires consideration, awareness and intention. It is the constant practice of thinking about what you are doing and choosing to do that which serves yourself and others. Sometimes it is as simple as choosing to bag your own groceries. It can be the establishment of a time to go outside each day no matter where you are or what you are doing. The practice of consistency requires that you consciously choose to act rather than relying upon that which comes easily.
2. Breathe First
A long, deep inhale and exhale can be the difference between throwing something across the room and walking quietly out the door. Begin a practice of drawing in and releasing one or more deep breaths before entering a room, a conversation, or engaging in a new activity. Not only does a deep breath help to calm your mind and body, it also creates a shift in focus. It can give you to pause and a moment to consider and reflect upon what is happening so that you can address what’s to come next with a more calm and intentional approach.
Get S$!t Done
Creating a list of tasks to complete and checking off, disposing of, deleting, etc. that list as each is completed can be incredibly satisfying. Sometimes, when we feel like we have all the time in the world, we will fill in that time with busy-work or distractions. When a “to-do” list is available, it can help you to focus and address that which needs to get done. Rather than spend a half hour checking out your social feeds, you could be scheduling a dozen posts. Instead of watching videos on Youtube, you could be repairing that hole in your pants.
Enjoy The Little Things
I love that this is one of the Zomblieland rules. From the comfort of your sofa there are countless little things to value. First and foremost is the fact that you have a couch to sit on. I can remember when I moved into my first apartment and we had no couch. I can also recall when we moved into our house and we had no furniture at all. A couch is a wonderful thing!
For those of us who reside in Tahoe South we get to enjoy the magic of living in a forest. City dwellers get to enjoy the majesty of architecture. Whether you enjoy peace and quiet or hustle and bustle, the sounds of silence or the laughter of children, take a moment to enjoy that which you have chosen to have surrounding you.
The time you take to enjoy the things that bring you joy and peace pays off later. When you are in a stressful situation, dealing with negative energy, trying to problem solve, or being a friend when someone is in need you can reflect back upon these things. Recalling them can help you remain more calm and collected by providing your mind with a shift in perspective.
If you are interested in learning more about the philosophies and practices of Yoga as well as how to transition into a Yogic Lifestyle contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the studio at (775)580-7224.
There is a lot of “yoga” out there right now. A boom has occurred and every gym, fitness spot, grassy area, and beach is now offering “yoga.” There are live streams, videos, Youtube channels, memberships, subscriptions and more. Learn to differentiate between those that are Yoga and the rest.
What Is Yoga?
There are 8 specific aspects to the practice of Yoga. When all are included, you are practicing Yoga.
1) Yama: Restraint/Direction/Control
2) Niyama: Observation/Self Control
3) Pranayama: Directed Breathing
4) Asana: Intentional Movement
5) Pratyahara: Sense Withdrawal
6) Dharana: Focused Concentration
7) Dhyana: Meditation
8) Samadhi: Integration
To explain each of these in depth is a much deeper conversation. For those of you seeking a deeper understanding or wishing to learn more about the history and philosophies of Yoga, begin by joining a class. A high quality teacher will incorporate these terms and explain them as they apply to what happens on and off of your mat.
Technique is Important
Asana (Yoga poses) change the way we move. The technique behind each position is important because it forces us to think and focus upon the way in which we are habitually using our bodies. Your teacher should be cueing postures in very specific ways in order to encourage you to redirect your attention and consider your habits. The value lies in understanding how to execute the postures well. Once you have developed this skill, then you can begin to move more quickly and gracefully through them.
Did you know that Yoga has influenced most of the major spiritual practices in the world? Ancient Indians were seeking answers. They wanted to know why the world is the way it is. They were studying the stars, the Earth and human nature. During class you should be learning about the philosophies and history of Yoga as well as how to integrate the practices into your life. Learning about the history of Yoga and the various practices that stemmed from it will help you to develop a deeper understanding and discernment among the various styles that have branched from the roots of the practice.
Yoga is something that we do all of the time. It happens on your mat, in the lobby, in your car and as you travel through the world. Your teacher should be giving you homework. As they teach, they should be offering focus points and concepts to consider. After you complete your mat practice (Asana) you may feel calm, steady and at ease. In your mind, though, there should be something that you carry out with you. Something that you consider beyond the mat. You should feel as though you are ready to make a tiny change or shift in your life that might just make things better. If you leave sweaty, tired and feeling like you got a work out, then you did, but it wasn’t Yoga.
Include Yoga as Part of Your Next Event or Celebration
A Better Birthday Party
As each decade arrives we begin to value new things. In my 20's I wanted to experience all the things that I couldn't when I was in my teens. When I hit 30 I wanted to remain in my 20's. As I continue to move along the number line in age I have begun to value experience and time with those whom I can have fun and be myself.
When you book your next birthday celebration consider hiring a Private Yoga Teacher to provide a guided practice for you and your birthday buddies. An experienced guide will not only provide all of the necessary materials, but be able to vary the practice to honor the needs of everyone in your group regardless of the number of decades they have been living in their body. It's a great way to bring everyone together in celebration of another circle around the sun.
Fun with Friends
Even though we may think we are doing a good job of remaining connected with our friends nothing is better than spending a few days together. Experiences connect us. Travel, events, exploration and adventures provide us with stories that last a lifetime.
When planning your next friendship getaway consider adding in a Private Yoga class for you and your crew. Not only can it be a good way to limber up before you go out on a hike, mountain bike ride, kayak trip or winery tour, it can also help you to remember why you love each other. From partner postures to Tarot card readings your Private Yoga Teacher should be able to create an experience that honors your group and helps you reconnect as friends.
Pre-Party & Post-Party
Whether you are planning a Corporate Retreat or Bachelorette Party alcohol usually ends up on the grocery list. For those of you who enjoy dancing, gambling or going to a show you might find yourself out at one of the casinos. It can be easy to over-do it when drinking in Tahoe because the effects of being at 6000 feet of altitude can surprise you.
Be sure to add lip balm and water to your list as well as a Private Yoga Practice to prepare for and recover from your nights out in Tahoe. A knowledgeable Yoga teacher will know exactly what postures and how to apply them to get you ready for a night out or detoxify from the prior one. We want you to enjoy your stay. An hour of Yoga can be the difference between getting out and having fun or spending the day on the sofa.
Try It Out
I've been practicing living a lifestyle of Yoga since 2000. When I first began practicing it was because my friends were going, it was free and I liked the physical workout. The first practice I tried was in the style of Svarupa; a gentle practice which uses blankets and blocks and requires a lot of stretching. At the time, I was living in Boston and, once my wallet got a bit fuller, I was able to experience a variety of other styles simply by wandering the city and looking at posted schedules.
The Yoga Lifestyle
When I moved to Tahoe I couldn’t find a studio that aligned with my lifestyle. Living here afforded me many opportunities to explore, adventure and play, but I didn’t feel at home at the only studio in town.
I was the local school counselor and had been hired to teach a few Private Practices. As people got to know me, they asked me to begin offering classes locally. Soon, I had a following and I begun developing a small business. Now, I share my lifestyle with people in my studio, at various homes, on the beach, paddle board and am happy to practice with anyone, anywhere.
More Than Poses
When I’m not working, I play outside at any chance I get. During the Summer I ride my bike every day. I ski and hike, swim, paddle, and am always looking for a new experience to try.
I practice Yoga everyday and everywhere. This doesn’t mean I do Yoga poses every day. Nope. I've learned that Yoga is much more than poses. It's a way of living. Yoga is everywhere, all the time.
Every one of us can benefit from a little stretching, balance and strengthening. We can all benefit from peace of mind, and quiet time. Yoga is movement, breathing, mindfulness, wellbeing and contentment. You know that feeling you get when you're floating on three feet of powder? It's Yoga. How about when you’re cruising down the most perfect section of single track without a soul around? It's Yoga. When you’re the only one floating on the crystal clear lake. It’s Yoga. It's always there, even if you don’t consider yourself a Yogi(ni).
Practice Yoga Everywhere
Today take a moment to look at your own life and find those moments of Yoga; moments when you've reached out to others, enjoyed some time to yourself, found balance, strength and calm.
To learn more about finding those moments of peace in your life, join the practice at Lake Tahoe Yoga or book a Private Session with Jenay.
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. 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. If you are in need of some extra support during the practice a good teacher will notice and provide you with assistance, a variation on the posture or improvise a tool.
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 as 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.
Ancestry Means Something
It's nice to know where you came from. Your individual ancestry can help you to identify who you are. In the same way, the line of teachers that provided knowledge and guidance to the one you practice with can provide you with a better understanding of why they teach the way they do. Lineage in Yoga is a valuable bit of information.
Did you know that Raja is the root of all Yoga? Hatha is the seed of modern Yoga. All Yoga began at the time of the Vedas during which traditions and practices were shared orally. It wasn't until people began to write (The Vedas and Upanishads) that the practices were codified.
Knowing who your teachers are can make a difference in your understanding of the practice. If your teacher can trace their training back to a teacher who is trained in the traditional and authentic practice (Raja and Hatha) they probably have a stronger grasp on what Yoga is.
If your teacher cannot identify the lineage in which they were trained they may not be a teacher at all. Instructors can tell you to move, to breath and to focus. Teachers give you the tools to access Yoga. Those who continue to study, observe and deepen their own practice become guides who can show you the way to practice Yoga authentically.
Religion, Culture, Wisdom
LIfestyle practices including Hinduism and Buddhism influenced the way in which Yoga was described. As the stories of the Vedas were written, they were transformed by the way in which people were living at the time. Each new translation of the stories; from Sanskrit to Persion, then to Latin and eventually English, that which was written was changed. Beliefs, religion, culture and more effected the way in which the ancient texts were translated.
Even today there are new books, insights, perspectives and thoughts on how to practice Yoga. Every instructor has their own ideas they want to share. It can be challenging to find a guide with whom you connect. Keep practicing and searching for the right one.
Yoga In Everything, Everywhere
Every time we read the writings as they are translated by a new story teller, we are given a new perspective. The explanations change as a result of current culture, influence, experiences and individual meta-cognition.
Although the practices remain consistent; Asta-anga (eight limbs) must be practiced in order for Yoga to occur, the approach changes. Dependent upon where you were raised, your beliefs, teachers, guides and circumstances effect your practice.
One thing remains true for all of us: Yoga exists in everything, everywhere. We just need to reveal it. Stick with it. Practice Yoga Everywhere. Discover your Self.
If you would like to discuss or learn more about the history of Yoga and the practices of Raja and Hatha book a Realignment Coaching Session with Jenay or begin deepening your practice through the Lake Tahoe Yoga School 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training Program.
A brief explanation of the concepts of Ego, Universe and Integration
Let's Be Selfish
The message that often gets misconstrued as we discuss the practices of Yoga is that it is a practice of selflessness. True: we are to practice Karma Yoga by being in service to others. True: we should detach from desire and let go of that which we grasp. True: ultimately we will realize that all that we think is true is false and reality is an illusion.
Also True: we are Ego driven, Kosha limited, human beings. Our current situation is the result of the fact that we are influenced by the fluctuations of nature (Gunas) and our own consistution (Dosha). Realizing this, observing its effects and changing our behaviors is our basic goal for now. Therefore, we have to be selfish. We have to focus on ourselves, first.
When teaching the concepts of self (Ego) and Self (Atma), I like to relate them to the way in which humans have evolved to understand the universe. First, we thought the Earth was flat. Then, we thought the Earth was the center of the universe. Then, we thought there was only the Milkway Galaxy. Then, we realized there is so much more.
The self (Ego, I-ness or Individual) is who you are now. You perceive the world based upon what you think is important (the Earth is the center of all things). You are the most important thing. Therefore, everything else revolves around you.
The Self (Atma) is a tiny piece in the grand, gigantic, enormous, universe. It plays a part that is both of value, but also minor in the grand scheme of things. It is made up of all the stuff that surrounds it and, it's its own way is a tiny universe in itself (the Milkyway). It is both unaffected by the Ego and also hidden by it.
You know that video that starts out with the viewfinder on one individual or tiny speck and then pans out for what seems like forever until it has broadened the view to contain the the entire universe? That last part, when it's panned out as far as it can go; that's Brahman.
Once we realize that we are "chips off the old block" of something bigger (Atma), then we can begin to See the whole picture. Before, we were caught up in wants, desires, thoughts, nature, perception, etc. (Ego). Realization, observation and detachment has revealed that all that stuff is unreal; illusion. Now we can see. It's as though our vision has panned out from that tiny speck to envelop the entire universe.
Bliss sounds great, but integration sounds better. Would you rather be all zoned out and disconnected or fully aware and detached? This is the difference between bliss and integration. Samadhi is made up of two words: Sama meaning "same" and Dhi meaning "reflection" or "perception." Samadhi is the the ability to see sameness among everything.
When I first started learning about Samadhi it was translated as bliss. In my mind I imagined that I would be in this happy, joyful, euphoric mindset; that every experience would be wonderful. The deeper I dove into understanding Samadhi, the more I realized it isn't a state of bliss. It is a state of integration; a state of contentment. You reach a level of awareness that allows you to stop "sweating the small stuff." You get to participate, observe and be present without having attachments to emotion, energetic fluctuation or mindful chatter.
Want to learn more about the traditional practices of Raja and Hatha Yoga and how to integrate them into your life? Join us at LTY.
It can be difficult to put your self into someone else's shoes. As our situation changes, so does our focus. Try these practices to help you remain aware of others while still focusing upon your needs.
Yoga teaches us to focus upon the moments in-between experiences. Before getting out of your car, stepping into a building or space, or beginning a conversation take a moment to pause. Just as we pause before entering into the second side of a posture, we must do the same before transitioning from one activity or experience to another. Pause and give yourself a moment before entering into the next moment.
You may be on vacation and in a mindset of enjoying yourself, but that doesn't mean that everyone around you is experiencing the same state of mind. Your vacation is likely infiltrated with people ready to provide you with information, materials and opportunities. All of these people are working. Reflect upon how you would like to be treated while at work. Let those who are working know that you value what they do.
When you return to work, reflect upon how it felt to be away. Revisit those moments that made you smile or during which you felt content. Reflect upon moments in your day that are similar.
Dependent upon our primary focus we will see different things. When you are out on the beach you might not notice the napkins that just flew away from your picnic. While celebrating with your friends you may not take the time to search for that bottle cap that flipped out of your hand.
Carry a trash bag wherever you go. Once you arrive at your location observe the space around you before you set up and after you have packed up your belongings. Take the time to clean up the space. Look around you and enjoy how beautiful the space looks and your part in keeping it clean.
Read & Review
When participating in activities that require you to read information regarding how to prepare, where to meet and what to do prior to joining in it's important that you read all of the details. Before you book, when you receive your confirmation email, and before heading out on any adventure, take the time to read the details about what you are endeavoring to do.
Many experiences require that you complete a waiver form. Doing so ahead of time will save everyone time. The meeting location may not be completely obvious. Double check the directions to make sure you have reviewed every detail. Review the information about how to prepare or what to bring so you don't have to run back to the car or leave your belongings in an unsafe place. Arrive prepared and knowledgeable and the experience will be that much better for everyone.
If you're interested in learning more about mindfulness and the lifestyle of Yoga join the practices at LTY.
Learn more and book: https://www.laketahoeyoga.com/scheduleofclasses.html
#1 Yoga is Stretching
Yes, Yoga poses do include stretching. More accurately Yoga poses, or Asana, help you to learn how to lengthen and lift, extend and contract, engage and release muscles as groups and in isolation. The value of Yoga Asana lies in the expression of each posture, not how it looks. When done accurately and with proper technique Asana provide much more than stretching or strengthening, they help you to feel more comfortable in your body and develop the ability to use it safely in every activity.
#2 Yoga is for Women
Originally, Yoga was practiced only by men; holy men. They were held in higher regard than kings and queens. They were considered holy because they had dedicated their lives to understanding why we are here. When Yoga was discovered by the Western world powerful women (queens) began to learn the practice. It’s impact upon American happened by storm. The practices of mindfulness were absorbed by those who were invested in revolution, change of perception and free love – the hippies. The practice spread among men and women like wildfire. There are far more females who practice Yoga today, but if everyone were to practice Yoga it could help to change the world.
#3 Yoga is Expensive
How much do you pay for your daily cup of coffee? Your house to be cleaned? Your chiropractor to adjust your back? Your happy hour? Yoga costs no more. However, the value it brings is immense in comparison. That which you receive from a Yoga practice lasts far longer than any cup of coffee or happy hour cocktail. Consistent and dedicated practice will eliminate your need for caffeine and body treatments. It will enthuse you to keep your house clean on your own. Forget that cocktail, you’ll be able to relax without a sip of alcohol. Attending classes will provide you with the skills and knowledge to apply Yoga to your life and actually save money.
"That which you receive from a Yoga practice lasts far longer than any cup of coffee or happy hour cocktail."
#4 I Can’t Do Yoga
Everyone practices Yoga. It’s not until we are able to identify that which we do that we perceive what we are doing. Have you ever picked up trash? Held the door for someone? Taken a walk in the woods? Listened to your thoughts? Closed your eyes for a moment of peace? Stretched your arms overhead? Told someone the truth? All of these are practices of Yoga. Attending classes with dozens of people and trying to get into a split may not be the way in which you are meant to practice. There are 8 limbs in the Raja Yoga practice. Any of them could be your starting point.
#5 Yoga Doesn’t Align with My Faith
There is Yoga in every religion, but no religion in Yoga. It is like a good stock. Yoga is the bone broth or seafood stock you begin with. It has all of the basics already included: guidance for the treatment of yourself and others, body health, mindfulness and awareness. You get to choose what to flavors to add on. If you place your faith in a single God, worship the Earth, look to various deities for support, or do not believe in dogma, you can add it in. Any Yoga teacher or studio should provide teachings and guidance that allow you to add in your personal flavors to your own practice. If you disagree with the teachings, then try a different teacher or studio until you feel comfortable.
"There is Yoga in every religion,
Self-love is at the heart of our overall health. When we are blasted on a daily basis with messages that we aren’t good enough, whether from strangers or the media, it can create permanent damage. Self-love is tied to self-worth, confidence, happiness, achieving goals, and our overall health. Fortunately, there are ways to combat the dangerous self-hate that we cultivate on a daily basis. It starts with making a conscious decision to change. Speak kindly to yourself, love yourself, and support yourself like you would a dear friend. Ask yourself how you would respond if someone you love was facing the issues in front of you. You’d probably react very differently than how you treat yourself. Here are a few ways to build self-love into your daily routine:
1. Start a guided focus practice. If you’ve never practiced before, this can sound intimidating. However, daily mindful focus doesn’t require hours in lotus position. A practice can be three to five minutes. It’s a chance to breathe, accept thoughts as they come before dismissing them, and re-setting your day or night. Many people prefer to practice for a few minutes in the morning when it’s usually quieter and they can take some time for themselves. Choose a space and position that’s comfortable, but not so comfortable that you’ll fall asleep. There are tools you can use, from mala beads to listening to guided meditation. Speak with your Yoga teacher for specific techniques to develop this practice.
2. Actively change how you talk to yourself. When you’re frustrated, take a look at your inner voice. How are you speaking to yourself? Everyone has an inner voice, and many are quite active. However, these voices are uncensored and we can take frustrations out on ourselves. Change how you talk to yourself—it will take time and practice. There are additional tools to help with this.
3. See a mental health expert. Mental health is just as important as every other type of health, but it's often put on the back burner. However, keep in mind that seeing just one mental health expert rarely gives you the chance of finding the best fit. Not only are there millions of experts, but there is also a multitude of types of therapy. "Shop" around and see what resonates with you. This can be frustrating, especially if you're navigating the health insurance field to find this help, but tenacity is worth it. You wouldn’t go an entire lifetime without seeing a GP, would you?
4. Learn to say no. Women especially can find themselves saying yes to everything, including things that aren’t necessary. Practice saying no. It’s one of the greatest defenses a person has. It’s rare that the things we say yes to are a requirement. This doesn’t mean saying no to everything is the ticket to self-love, but it’s a start. You can probably tick off a number of requests and “standing orders” that you don’t like and shouldn’t have to stick with. As you “spring clean” your life, you’ll uncover hidden happiness.
5. Put your health first. Whether this means a moderate amount of weekly exercise or attending a church service if that’s part of your spiritual health practice, health is a priority. If you’re not healthy, you’re not at your best and every aspect of your life will suffer. However, the definition of health can be subjective. Everyone’s exercise regimen might be different, but should be guided by experts including physicians. Spiritual health varies greatly, but it’s part of everyone’s makeup. Maybe your spiritual health is a weekly walk in the woods. Understand what your health needs are and put them first.
One of the best things we can do for self-love is to get rid of the things in our life that are actively destroying it. For many people, it’s technology addiction. Everyone has vices. Knowing what they are and replacing them with healthy habits is one of the best things you can do for yourself. From food addiction to avoiding healthy habits (like seeing your dentist on a regular basis), we are constantly sabotaging ourselves. It’s not entirely our fault, because addiction and outside influences are fierce. However, what we do about it daily is within our control.