Have You Taken Your Yoga Vitamins?

 

1. Faith (Shraddha)
2. Vigor (Virya)
3. Mindfulness (Smriti)
4. Meditative Consciousness (Samadhi)
5. Discernment (Prajna)
We all need a little pick-me-up from time to time. The same can be said for our yoga practice. While we know that, “to compare is to despair” it does seem at times that yoga and meditation come more easily to some than others. We can fall into the trap of looking around the room in handstand, or Warrior III and comparing someone else’s outsides to our insides.

The Yoga Sutras Of Patanjali, a classical text on the practice of yoga, tells us not to fret. Perhaps others seem born blissful, but the rest of us simply need a booster shot of yogic vitamins to assist us on our path.

Yoga Sutra 1.20: To some, liberation comes from the practice of faith, vigor, mindfulness, consciousness and discernment.

“Sraddha Virya Smrti Samadhi Prajna-Purvaka Itaresam”

When we put the yoga vitamins into practice, we have the faith to know we are evolving, growing and learning. With vigor, we direct our energy wisely and learn to practice self-care. With mindfulness, we can pause when uncertain and acertain the right action. With consiousness we can connect to The Divine, and with discernment we begin to “instinctively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us.”

My aim is to offer classes that are infused with these life-affirming vitamins. Click here for my full schedule and join me in class again soon <3

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Endless Summer

Even though the kids are back to school and Halloween decorations are up in stores, don’t be fooled; the fall is when things really start to heat up in Los Angeles!

As a ocean-worshiper I always look forward to September and October in LA as the time when it is finally warm enough to bear playing in the ocean with out a wet-suit. I also look forward to the fall as a time to slow down and take a more fluid and gentle approach to my yoga practice in these hotter months.

Below is a short sequence to help cool and calm you as we transition into fall:

1. Cooling Breath (Sheetali Pranayama)
This one looks funny, but feels great.

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Find a quiet calm comfortable place to sit. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Then open your mouth and curl your tongue creating a tube shape. Using your tongue as an air conditioning unit breathe in through your curled tongue and then close your mouth and breathe out through your nose. Practice 15-20 repetitions or continue until your are calmer and cooler.

2. Supta Padangusthasana II&III, (Reclining Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose) – Flowing version.

Lie on your back. Using a yoga strap, strap around the ball of the right foot. Reach your foot up to the sky extending through the heel of the foot until you get a stretch. Then grabbing both tails of the yoga strap in your right hand turn your right leg deep in your hip socket to the right so your foot externally rotates (looking like a duck or ballerina foot ;) . On a long inhale open the leg to the right into version 2 and then as you take a relaxing exhale sweep the leg across the body into version 3. Repeat slowly on the breath (I always conjure the image of seaweed flowing back and forth). When you feel like your right leg has released tension (or it starts to get a little tingly) switch legs and repeat on the right.

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3. Viparita Karani (Legs-up-the-Wall Pose)
Finding a wall, couch or bed that you can bring your legs up on, elevate your legs for 5-10 minutes. Relax and breathe deeply.

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4. Water Meditation
Paraphrased from the book “The Chakra Energy Plan” by Anna Selby

Prepare a bath for yourself of warm to cool water. Submerge yourself and relax completely breathing deeply. Bring your consciousness to focus on the water around you. Observe how the water washes away stress and brings in a sense of ease and calm. Extend your consciousness to visualize the great bodies of water that cover most of the planet – the lakes rivers and oceans. Visualize yourself floating supported completely by water. Enjoy visualizing and when finished gradually bring yourself back to your body and your breath.

Love Yourself

“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”
― Oscar Wilde

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A few days ago I was asked by a friend what the topic of my upcoming newsletter would be. “Self-Love!” I replied excitedly. My friend paused, and asked, “Shouldn’t we be focusing on loving and serving others instead of loving ourselves? Isn’t there enough self obsession in the world?”

This might be true if we were to confuse Self-love with self-obsession.

One need not be consumed with love for themselves to be self-obsessed. In fact, most people who are self-obsessed are gravely insecure. We live in a very judgmental culture. I would venture to guess that way more of us struggle with self-criticism than with self-congratulation. The truth is, we are constantly bombarded by an achievement based and materialistic culture that suggests we need to do more, buy more, and be better. This can consume our minds and obscure our true Divine Nature.

So, what I am speaking to here is not self-obsession. Nor am I suggesting you can gain healthy Self-love through pampering the physical body, or taking self-seeking actions that would harm another. Instead, I urge you to explore the practices of self-care as discussed in the Eight Limbs of the Yoga Sutras.

The Yoga Sutras define the Self as your Soul or your Divinity, your Self with a capital S! Call it Energy, call it Spirit, God, or Universal Consciousness, but when I talk about you loving yourself I am recognizing that you are a Divine Creation. If you have even the vaguest sense of a Spirit/Energy/God within you, then why wouldn’t you treat yourself with the love you would extend to That which you honored and appreciated?

The very first verses of Patanjali’s yoga sutras help illuminate this concept. We have an authentic Self with in us, but often we cannot see it. We mis-identify ourselves with our egos. We compare ourselves with others, and try to figure out if we are “good enough” based on how we measure up to some arbitrary cultural expectations.

Yoga Sutra 1.2 states that, Yoga is the practice of controlling the modifications (gross and subtle thought patterns) of the mind. (yogash chitta vritti nirodhah) and that once we clear out the clamor of the mind – all the mental junk – then, like a dirty mirror wiped clean, we can begin to see our True Self.

1.3 Then the Seer abides in Itself, resting in its own True Nature, which is called Self-realization.
(tada drashtuh svarupe avasthanam)

When we take actions toward Self-love and self-care, through the practices of meditation, asana, and the rest of the eight limbs, we are not so caught up in the mental pitfalls of competition, comparison, and self-doubt. When you love yourself, you can see that you were created perfectly imperfect just as you are. So go ahead, give yourself some love. Accept yourself as you really are and use the tools of Yoga to explore a deeper personal understanding of the Spirit within you.

Top 8 Reasons To Practice Yoga

#1 – Connect with others.  Yoga builds a sense of community, co-opportunity and collaboration as you meet and share your journey with others.

#2 – Connect with yourself. A yoga practice allows you to set aside some “you time”. Practice provides an opportunity to regulate your energy, emotions, intuition, and overall state of mind/soul/spirit.

#3 – Maintain a healthy happy state of physical well being.  Hatha yoga builds strength, flexibility, balance and prepares the body for the demands of everyday life. We all know physical exercise is good for us, and a spoon full of Asana makes the medicine go down in the most delightful way!

#4 – Breathe deeply.  Breath practices help to build present moment awareness of the life force within you and the spirit that surrounds you. Plus, breath work helps to strengthen the respiratory system, and regulate the nervous system.

#5 – Practice detachment. Modern life can be so full of unwanted stimuli, it can be difficult to sort out which elements are actually worthy of AshtangaButterflyour attention. Our yoga practice demands present moment attention, and as we practice this attentiveness we learn to let go of the past, weed out distraction, and detach from the future (which doesn’t even exist ;) ).

#6 – Learn to concentrate. Once we become well versed at detachment, it becomes easier to focus on the aspects of life that do matter to us. As we learn to concentrate, our mind sills and we find we have more time for study of self and study of Forces outside ourselves.

#7 – Meditation. The benefits of meditation are well documented. There are many techniques and paths towards meditation. Experiment and find a meditation practice that works for you and reap the benefits in your body, mind, and Spirit.

# 8 – Open to Bliss. Allow yourself to investigate what Pantanjali’s Yoga Sutras describe as freedom through surrender to God. Surrender yourself to a belief, a hope, and investigate the power of faith: faith in the effects of your yoga practice and faith in a Power greater than yourself.

Handstands in Paradise AKA: God is Good.

 
Embrace each of your senses in turn
Seeing as being touched by light
Hearing as immersion in an ocean of sound
Tasting as enlightening
Smelling as knowing
Touching as electrifying
Follow the subtle pulsations
Into the spaciousness of the heart
Intimate with the unknowable
-The Radience Sutras #9
as translated by Lorin Roache
 

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Over the past four years I have been making a concerted effort to re-define my understanding of God. Not an easy task as old ideas and sanskara run deep.

As I child I was very interested in religion and took it upon myself to walk to church and get to know Spirit. I loved Spirit! I remember reading the Psalms of David in my little pink Precious Moments Bible and mulling over “As the deer pants for the water brooks, So pants my soul for You, O God” (Psalm 42:1)

But somewhere along the way I started to develop a strange understanding of god. As I transitioned into adulthood and maturity, I somehow failed to grow in spiritual maturity. I came to know the god of my youth as a god of trials, and when I fell ill with Lupus and RA I came to believe that I must have these diseases because either, a)I did something wrong and deserved these trials, or, b) that god was using these diseases to “teach me a lesson”

These false ideas stayed with me throughout my 20′s. God was to be feared and suspected with a new “lesson” to  anticipate around each corner. Prayers became selfish bargaining sessions begging for an easy way out. I was simply incapable of seeing the Good and the Blessing in life because of this strange fear of god.

Letting go of these false beliefs has been very difficult. Basically, I had to get into enough spiritual pain to admit that my views just weren’t working.

With the help of yoga philosophy, 12-step programs, and amazing mentors, I have been SLOWLY turning over my ideas and am becoming open enough to accept the possibility that GOD IS GOOD.

Fast forward, and today the Shakti is SO BRIGHT I gotta wear shades! No longer do I believe that pain is the only touchstone of spiritual growth, No longer do I feel that God puts obstacles in my path as my only means of spiritual growth. What about love? What about selfless service, what about devotion, dance, energy, beauty, senses, joy, peace? Can I not be taught just as profound of lessons through blessing as I can through trial?

My recent vacation to The Bahamas really sealed in this new assumption. Maybe, just maybe, God is beauty. Maybe God is love,  selfless service, devotion, dance, energy, beauty, senses, joy, peace. This is God. And yes, there is a lot of MYSTERY… maybe God is all the Confusion too, that is all part of the messy Mystery, but as long as I keep my eyes off of myself, and on the blessings of creation, hopefully I can keep seeing the Good and ENJOY my life. After all, I am in remission from my R.A. I am safe, sober, sound and doing handstands in paradise.bahamashandstands

 

Free Yoga

Complementary Yoga Class At Lululemon Brentwood

This Sunday Only

October 24th, 9:30am

Location: Lululemon Athletica Brentwood
11920 San Vicente Blvd, 90049

lulu-flyer

Every Sunday Lululemon Brentwood hosts a complimentary Yoga class with the greatest instructors in West LA. All levels are welcome perfect for beginner, intermediate or advanced practitioners. During the month of October YogisAnonymous is the STUDIO OF THE MONTH and I am representing this Sunday October 24th :)I hope to see you there!

Free Lululemon Class

Complimentary Yoga Class At Lululemon Beverly Hills

This Sunday only//April 18th//9:30am – 10:45am

334 North Beverly Drive
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
tel: 310.858.8339

lulu-flyer

Every Sunday Lululemon Beverly Hills hosts a complimentary Yoga class with the greatest instructors in our community. All levels are welcome – perfect for beginner, intermediate or advanced practitioners. During the month of April 2010, JK Zen Fitness is the STUDIO of the MONTH! I am the JK Zen Fitness Teacher this Sunday April 18th :)

I hope to see you there!

Marathon as Tapas?

Kaya Indriya Siddhih Ashuddhi Kshayat Tapasah

Yoga Sutra 2.43

“Through ascesis or training of the senses (tapas), there comes a destruction of mental impurities, and an ensuing mastery or perfection over the body and the mental organs of senses and actions”

marathon1web

I suppose I wasn’t finding enough discipline in my yoga and meditation practices, as I saw it necessary to train for and run The Los Angeles Marathon this year.

The whole time I was training people would ask me why I was doing this. Had I ever run a marathon before? – No. Was I in Cross Country in High School? – No. Did I even like running? – No, not particularly.

It was leading me though, this strange desire to run. I knew somehow that training myself to run a marathon would have untold benefits.

The first month I found myself angry. Angry all the time, angry for no reason. Was the added adrenaline making me this aggressive?

The second month saw bouts of crying replacing anger.  Tears, either of intense gratitude, or hidden sorrow, would pour out of me after each long weekend run.

The third month brought processing. I noticed that the held emotions from the first two months had been peeling off of me. I spent time on long runs uncovering, discovering, and attempting to discard old beliefs behind me on the path as I ran ahead.

As marathon time approached I notice a new sense of levelness and calm. Long runs were peaceful. I noticed a change in myself not only on runs, but in my every day life. I was also so proud of myself for following through with the discipline of getting up to run no matter what. In the cold, in the rain, when I just didn’t want to run – I got up, laced my shoes and did it anyway.

The marathon day was an amazing experience. Slowly and steadily, overcoming my emotional obstacles, I finished the task with joy and ease. I am not at all lying when I say that the marathon was FUN. I had a blast, and a  smile on my face the majority of the race.

I am blessed to have explored the destruction of mental impurities in this way, and look forward to the ensuing mastery over the body and mind, Marathon as tapas or not :)