Blended Days

When the days seem to blend together, let’s not forget to breathe, to explore, to wake up and to shake things up. Sometimes we need to make an actual change, like flipping our schedule or trying something new, others we need to change our mindset, to see things in a new or different way. Sometimes it’s simply slowing down to inhale, to exhale, and to explore the space between the two.

Alone Together

Yoga is ultimately an “alone” practice – it’s just you within the four corners of your mat – but it’s a “together” practice – we take a class with others in a studio or online, share our breath, energy and community. In a home practice we consistently invite others into our hearts and minds – family, friends & loved ones; those that inspire us; those that frustrate us; all beings, everywhere.

Our alone time on the mat translates directly to our together time off of it- these are times to put ourselves out there, to reach out to others and make ourselves available – to family, friends, and our broader community – and with technology we can extend that community globally! We are in this and will get through this alone together, friends, namaste! 

The Super-Power of Laughter

“Slow, steady ujjayi breath in every asana,
More powerful heart than ego,
Able to leap to the top of her mat in a single bound,
Look, out on her mat,
It’s a yogini!
It’s a confident, Self-assured woman!
It’s Demo Dena!”

Dena lightened the mood last Friday as “Demo Girl” – providing much needed laughs and reminded us it’s okay to do so, in fact, necessary to do so in the world right now. During the dark days of the Civil War, when Abraham Lincoln was reprimanded for his unseemly levity, he turned to his critic and replied, “I laugh because I must not cry: That’s all— that’s all.”

In a similar vein, it’s been said “If I wasn’t laughing, I’d be crying.” Just as yoga is about balance, we invite the laughter and the tears, on and off your mat – there is an appropriate time and room for both. Tears are most definitely a powerful and necessary release, and ultimately it’s the laughter and lightheartedness that lifts us. They are indeed a dynamic duo!

Ayurveda & Vinyasa

Ayurveda or “The Science of Life” originated in India more than 5,000 years ago. Ayurveda identifies 3 basic energies or Doshas within us-Vata, Pitta and Kapha. It’s the Doshas we look to bring into balance to maximize “health” on all levels. With the transition to spring we are emphasizing Vinyasa or movement through the poses (asanas) with the breath. Spring is a season of revitalization and overcoming sluggishness (a Kapha quality when out of balance). It’s with that in mind, we invite you to “Get Up & Flow” into the Season!

What’s Your Dosha?

We’ve set up space just outside Studio 1 with information on each of the Doshas – Vata, Pitta and Kapha. The three doshas are in each of us with the proportion with which they appear – typically one or sometimes two, being dominant – making us uniquely who we are. Understanding our dosha(s) and the diet, actions and other lifestyle choices that help to bring them into balance can be extremely beneficial for health, well being and quality of our life. Feel free to make observations from the information we’ve posted, or it’s easy enough to find a “dosha quiz” or an Ayurvedic health practitioner through an online search.

A Clean Slate – The Breath

We’re kicking off the new year with a clean slate, fresh starts and while not necessarily forgetting our past, moving past our past! And what better to pair with clean slates and fresh starts than The Breath, which isn’t just where our yoga practice begins, but where our very lives begin- 2020 fresh starts powered by your breath!

Gratitude

Happy thanks giving, yogis and yoginis! No typo there, while we celebrate Thanksgiving later this month, why save all that thanks for the fourth Thursday of November??? The opportunity to approach every day with gratitude, to be thankful for everything we are granted while not take anything for granted, is well within our reach. A simple breath, food on the table, a table, our connection with family and community, these make up our thanks giving feast. And rather than falling into a food coma by mid-afternoon, we find ourselves more aware, more awake and more alive. So dig in, friends, happy thanks giving!

Reflection and Ardha Chandrasana

 

Welcome October and with it a new theme and pose for the month – Reflection and Ardha Chandrasana. Between self-reflection, reflecting (not dwelling) on our past actions and experiences, the change of season or anything that merits further contemplation, reflection is a rich, rich theme that is worthy of, well, reflection. Ardha Chandrasana (half-moon pose)is a fabulous balancing posture, that invites in both strengthening and deep opening through the entirety of the leg, hip, upper torso, chest and shoulders. Perhaps it’s in half-moon that we can appreciate our journey toward wholeness and, upon further reflection, see that we’re already there – the half-moon is more than enough to light up the night sky. Namaste! “The moon was so beautiful that the ocean held up a mirror” @anidifranco
Big thanks and gratitude to Melissa for an amazing board this month!

Inversions ~ Clarity

This month it’s all about INVERSIONS* at Yoga Life. Whether that be physically turning ourselves upside down or looking at the world through a different lens, this change in perspective liberates us from conditioned thoughts and habit. We see and in turn experience life with a freshness, a newness, a sense of CLARITY.

So embrace turning things on their head, bask in the less familiar and make time to play – in your yoga practice and life practice – and see, really see, what comes of it!

*Do not fear, we can all do inversions! Remember, an inversion is any posture that gets your head lower than your heart – downdog and half-downdog, forward bends, legs up the wall with a slightly elevated seat, as well as all the classic inversions – headstand, handstand, forearm stand and all the “prep” options!

Expansion ~ Wheel Pose

Like love, yoga expands from the inside out, and like yoga, we do the same. We are not here to be small. We exist in an ever expanding universe and are meant to expand with it. We are meant to expand our horizons, our consciousness, our minds, our hearts and in doing so, we reach our fullest potential. Expansion is the act of boldly moving from our comfort zones and what we know to our discomfort zones, the unknown. This type of growth requires openness – to new ideas and experiences, to setbacks and to letting go.

“We are not here to be small.”

This month we celebrate expansion at Yoga Life, we celebrate moving from the inside out, to waking up each day with the mantra “to be better” and to grow – emotionally, intellectually, spiritually, in our capacity to love and to feel. For asana (poses) we celebrate expansion with bridge and wheel. Bridges enable us to safely cross through potential hazards, wheels as perfect circles represent the infinite, the possibilities, they go on and on. Both are backbends and backbends are heart openers–may you grow forward, boldly, with open hearts and open minds!

An Expansion Plan
We’ve always found yoga to be a balance between making things happen and letting them happen. Expansion and growth can be very much the same. Here are some thoughts for starting your journey and walking, jogging, running and skipping along the path, or off of it:

Intention – It all begins with intention. It is the force that binds us to act, a proclamation we make or a specific goal we set. Intention is a conscious statement to get started and to stick with it. And please don’t think this needs to be super profound, in fact, make it tangible and keep it simple – I will be better, I will be present…

Consistency – The Sanskrit word Abhyasa means a constant and determined practice. It’s sticking with something, working through setbacks and more than anything, being consistent. Some things come easy (and some are lost easily) but the things we most cherish often come through hard and consistent work. Whatever or however you’re looking to grow, make sure you show up and do so regularly.

Openness – Growth is an act of openness. Exploring new ideas and experiences, seeing things from another perspective. Expansion really does represent moving from the known to the unknown and if we shut ourselves off to what we don’t know, we limit.

Letting Go – How often do we try, try and try to make something happen – we set our intention, we consistently take action – yet the results just don’t seem to come. We need to let go. Letting go can be done on so many levels:
– Vairagya is a Sanskrit word for letting go of attachment to the end result. Celebrate the process and stay consistent you may already be getting exactly what you need!
– Let go of timelines – there are hard deadlines and there are self-imposed deadlines, often times we make those self-imposed deadlines unrealistic. By all means, set goals and monitor your growth, but don’t throw away all your efforts if you haven’t quite reached them in the timeline you expected.
– Take a step back – sometimes you do need to take a step back, a hiatus. Simple example, how many times have you tried to remember that name or that solution to a problem and you think and you think and you think and it just doesn’t come to you. Then you hop in the shower or go for a walk get your mind off of it and like “poof” like magic it comes to you. Warning: the challenge here is starting up again so be mindful of when stepping back has become stepping away

Fail Gracefully and Spectacularly – With the exception of test results from our doctor, no one likes to hear something came back negative. As we strive to expand, there will be setbacks along the way. At the risk of sounding super cheesy, there is a lesson in every failure, an opportunity to grow. We cannot control our situations, we cannot control how the world responds to us, the one thing we can control is our response to these failures and it starts with how we handle failure itself – be angry, be determined, be crushed but also be graceful, be vigilant, be good enough, get back up, try again.

Dream – Last and most, dream big. With all of our growth and potential, there are limits, for example, limits to what we can do physically or even scholastically, but your imagination is limitless. Give yourself the gift of using your imagination to its fullest – through our imagination we expand our horizons and our perspectives. We open ourselves up for growth and expansion.

May you be filled with loving kindness, May you be well,
May you be open and graceful,
May you expand to your most majestic Self.

Riffing on a Buddhist meditation shared by Jack Kornfield in A Path with Heart. Feel free to meditate on these words, repeating them silently to yourself, substituting in the word “I” for “you”

Virabhadrasana I, II, and III ~ Warrior I, II, and III

This month we celebrate strength and presence through the warrior poses. These standing poses require a strong foundation, matched by equally strong focus and awareness. As you practice on and off the mat, we encourage you to consider, reflect and even challenge your sense of what strength is…and what it is not. Just as yoga is the blend of mind, body and spirit, we can demonstrate strength on all of those levels. In our practice on the mat we demonstrate strength, both through holding poses and coming out of them “early” to restore. In our life practice we demonstrate strength, both by making things happen and by letting them happen. We are all warrriors, we all have more strength than we can imagine and we all have our own wars to wage – but ultimately being a warrior isn’t about making war, it’s about striving for, attaining and preserving peace. Go forward valiantly and brilliantly, dear friends!