Finding Your Inner Superhero with Annie Carpenter

by Annie Carpenter

[This post originally appeared in Origin Magazine]

Vira is a Sanskrit word translated variously as heroic, powerful, strong, excellent, eminent. It is the root of many other words, most notably perhaps, Virabhadrasana. If this word is familiar to you, then as a yogi, you probably know this word as ‘warrior.’ There are three warrior poses: Virabhadrasana I, II, and III. All are strong standing poses, which require physical strength and stamina, and a good dose of mental willpower to remain in the pose for an extended hold.

Lately, I’ve been encouraging my students to discern whether they are acting out of courage or heroism. Courage requires a suspension of doubt or fear, and enables a mental fierceness, sustaining one in a difficult moment. We learn to be courageous in simple accessible ways on our yoga mats, and without effort or even consciousness, we find ourselves being a bit more courageous in other settings.

Heroism, however, is a little different. I’m thinking superheroes! Whether Superman, the Amazons, or Virabhadra, all of these mythical beings have powers well beyond the ordinary human being. Superman has extraordinary strength and can fly through the air; the Amazons were a nation of all-female warriors from Greek mythology; and Virabhadra was a fierce and giant warrior with many arms from Hindu mythology, first noted in the Ramayama.

All of these heroic figures have one thing in common: They all transcend normal limitations.

Reading about superheroes and mythological gods is fun. What is most refreshing and inspiring about these tales are the moments where we suspend our belief systems. We are able to briefly inhabit a fantastic world where all is possible. The young boy reading about Superman in his favorite comic book believes for a moment that humans can fly and that good always triumphs over evil. While we don’t literally leap off a tall building and soar through the air; we may imagine that small miracles are annie2possible in our own lives. We won’t grow eleven arms to avenge the death of Lord Shiva’s wife as Virabhadra did, but we may need and evolve multiple methods to perceive and eliminate an old and nagging habit. While we certainly won’t cut off a breast to be a brave Amazon warrior, we may need to let go of old ideas of who we are and what truly matters to us. Ultimately, we are inspired to consider a life free of limiting ideas and habits. It then can become possible to imagine a courageous self who can seek out and slay our inner demons.

As yogis, we often consider ourselves spiritual warriors. Not with the intention to commit violence against one another (non-violence is our first “vow,” if you will), but we are battling our own ignorance and self-imposed restrictions. Enduring the challenge to see the limitations that we unconsciously place on our lives takes courage and willpower. Cultivating willpower in asana practice — sustaining those long holds in Warrior pose — literally gives us the stamina to investigate and root out unhealthy mental habits. Exploring courage by trying new poses without expectation of success, feeds our adventurous spirit to experiment with new attitudes and relationships both with others and ourselves. Practicing Warrior 1 and embracing the heroic spirit of Virabhadra we may begin to transcend our limitations, finding our inner super-hero!


Annie_Carpenter_3407_highrez-212x350Known as a “teachers’ teacher,” Annie’s yoga classes have evolved into an intelligent, organic SmartFLOW, marrying juicy movement with rigorous discipline. Annie believes that practicing yoga provides “points of dharana” — gateways to inner stillness and compassion.  Annie leads public classes, in-depth workshops and SmartFLOW teacher trainings (200 and 300/500) at Exhale Center for Sacred Movement in Venice, CA. She is the author of “RelaxDEEPLY”, a CD of restorative yoga, and “ Yoga for Total Back Care” a DVD produced by Yoga Journal, and is a contributing editor for Yoga Journal. Practicing with Annie, expect intensity, honesty, laughter and love. 

Annie begins her weekly public classes at Namaste this tuesday! Join her for class Tuesdays, 9:30 AM at Namaste Grand Lake.

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20

Sukkot, Yoga, and Packing Your Life’s Suitcase

by Aviva Black

Thousands make the pilgrimage, many fulfilling a lifelong dream. The weather’s balmy, so the revelry goes on all day and night with throngs of people engaged in the streets and lounging in open booths. You’re thinking Burning Man. But no, this is what Sukkot was like during Temple times. From what I gather, aside from people keeping their clothes on, Burning Man looks like a Girl Scouts’ convention in comparison. Good times. SukkahSukkot, the harvest festival we’re celebrating now, is one of three annual Jewish festivals (Shavuot and Passover being the others). We just got through kneading our souls and asking for forgiveness for all the rotten things we’d done in the past year. We’ve committed ourselves to delivering our best during this new year.

Sukkot is our exhale, giving us a break from intense soul searching work. It’s pure joy. Like the week spent in the sukkah, our days on this planet are temporary. So what should we pack in each breath? Put another way, if you had one suitcase for your life’s move, what would you fill it with? This is also a shmita year, the ‘sabbatical year’ 7th year of the planting cycle where traditionally, we’ve let the fields lay fallow. By taking a rest, the fields release what’s unnecessary and become more fertile and productive.

Take a step back and, without being harsh, evaluate what’s most vital to you. What stories have you been clutching and what have you been ignoring? What do you value most and what helps you deliver the best of yourself? On the yoga mat, this Sukkahis the perfect time to a) celebrate the practice that you do have and b) determine what you need to put on hold so that your body and practice can unfold more naturally. Do this and chances are you’ll feel better and your practice will actually deepen. Recently, the NY Times Styles section told of a traveling chuppah — a simple handmade wedding canopy that has been used by a web of family of friends for over a decade. People keep requesting this chuppah because it’s absorbed the love and hope of joint fulfillment from and for those that have stood beneath it.

You are not alone in your sukkah. More so, the shmita year attracts others to your open invitation. So choose wisely and make space for this bounty. Make the pilgrimage into the dwelling of your heart and see that it’s open, receptive and yearning to cherish and celebrate the most valuable pieces that make you and your life great. Aviva Black


aviva bAviva is a RK — a rabbi’s kid. Interweaving Judaism and yoga has enabled her to go deeper on the mat and in the sanctuary. She teaches conscious alignment and flow, and encourages students to take poses to the fullest, most optimal place in that moment. She asks students to trade in rigidity and self-doubt for discipline to see what’s possible, emphasizing that with patience and diligence, they can remain safe and still take amazing forms — folding, twisting, balancing and lifting off! Aviva has been practicing yoga since 1997 and began teaching in 2007. She is a former Anusara-Inspired teacher and I will never stop studying. She is so grateful for her main teachers: Sianna Sherman and Abby Tucker, with whom she is currently apprenticing, and her father, Rabbi Barry Friedman. Check out Aviva’s weekly class schedule at Namaste.

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20

Mama, I Hate You: A Lesson on Peace and Parenting

by Rebekkah LaDyne [This post originally appeared on Rebekkah’s blog, This Mindful Life]

Mama, I Hate You.

..said my little girl, looking up at me with sadness and anger in her eyes. This from a girl who really loves her mama. She’s my daughter who often says she does not want to go to school or even playdates because she would rather “be with mama.”

On the morning of her birthday party my daughter had a special breakfast at a restaurant with her grandmother – kind-hearted grandma who incidentally uses the word “hate” frequently. It’s a generational thing, I tell myself, and yet, when grandma is visiting, “hate” always seems to make a few cameo appearances in my daughter’s speech. But until this morning it had never been used to describe how she feels about me.

While she was out for her party day breakfast, I had been busy hiding surprises all over our yard. As grandma’s car pulled into the driveway, my husband jumped outside and called to me, “Stall them,” as he ran to our backyard to hide more surprises. I headed out front as casually as possible and kept everyone in the driveway interviewing them about their restaurant adventure. I commended myself for successfully acting nonchalant while inside I felt slightly frantic – I still needed to frost the cake, set out the snacks, and get my girls dressed. After the hiding was complete and everyone back inside, I rushed around like a slightly off-kilter tornado. As I whirled this way and that, I was all too aware that I needed to calm myself so I could provide the most important element of the party for my little girl, a settled and present mama. But centered mama was no where to be seen at that time. When my daughters started protesting about getting dressed for the party, I was quick to cut them off at the pass. Firm and uncompromising mama was now in residence, kids were going to get dressed and the stern tornado—me—was off to frost the cake. Birthday girl was not happy with the frosting. Her displeasure was made clear as she hid from her cake inside my apron.

Mama’s tornado was desperately trying to complete its tasks without leaving any rubble in its wake.

I was losing my patience despite my efforts to play it cool and be the friendly, calm, loving mama I wanted to be right then. While I attempted to smile and “fix it” (the cake), my tension was mounting and the rock in my back that appears when I am forgetting my mindfulness was pressing hard on my spine. Apparently the birthday girl felt tense too, because that’s when the dreaded declaration made its debut: “Mama, I hate you.” At first I felt startled. Then I felt frustrated with grandma, whom I blamed for re-injecting this high-octane word into our household. And finally, I was sobered. “Mama, I hate you” had been my mindfulness bell. It had pulled me out of the mindset of there and then — the party fun will begin out there in the yard (with all the fun things I’ve been breaking my back to hide) and the cake will be enjoyed then, during the fun, fun party we are about to have, (enjoying it now is of no importance). This mindfulness bell had brought me back to the here and now. The fun birthday celebration for my little girl was right now, not then, and right here, not there.

“Mama, I hate you” echoed in my head once again and I got what she was telling me. She hated how I was being. The rushed, frantic, short-tempered mama who was throwing this party was not the mama that my daughter wanted to spend her party day with. I was being a mama to be hated.

When I realized all of this I scooped her up in hugs, kisses and empathy. While we talked through the incident; each of us apologizing and conceding to use our kind words and calm bodies, something more important was being transmitted, and it did not come from what we were saying. As we were talking, my body was softening, my frantic energy was transforming into calm, and I was with my daughter for the first time since she’d come home. I was finally in the here and now. She responded right away to my presence and as we went to the kitchen to finish the cake together I was careful to sidestep any of my own inner reactivity at her delivery of this important message. While, “I hate you” is not the way I would have wished to receive her plea for me to return to her, those were the words she had at that time and so I chose to just hear her message. After I had returned to my body and my mindfulness, and saw clearly that what I had intended to do was very different from what I had actually been doing, the tornado flew away. I was relieved to be left there in the yard on a bright sunny day with my family and a lovely party ahead of us… and I can happily share that it turned out to be a truly wonderful day.


pic_aboutrebekkah

Rebekkah’s informal and accessible manner makes learning Mindfulness easy.

Rebekkah has been practicing Mindfulness, Meditation and Yoga for over 20 years and been teaching these wisdom traditions for the last 15 years. She teaches Embodied Mindfulness by guiding each student to bring the practice not just into the head but into the heart and body as well. As director and lead teacher of a thriving Yoga and Mindfulness Center from 1998 – 2008 Rebekkah guided thousands of students to reconnect with their hearts, minds and bodies. She taught at Spirit Rock Meditation center as their ongoing Family Program Teacher from 2010 – 2013. Currently, through this mindful life, she delights in teaching Mindfulness to families, teens and adults through her private practice, workshops, and retreats.

Rebekkah is leading a Mother-Daughter Mindfulness Series beginning next week!

Wednesdays October 1 – 29
4:00-4:40pm
7-8 year olds + mom
Namaste Berkeley
Wednesdays October 1 – 29
4:45-5:45pm
9-10 year olds + mom
Namaste Berkeley
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20

Let’s Bridge The Gap Between Yoga Teacher And Student

by Judy Rukat

[This post originally appears on DoYouYoga.com]

The yoga mat, aka a rectangular microcosm of life at large, provides a springboard into the depths of self study and psychospiritual exploration. It makes sense that as yogis, we can and will experience “triggers” or moments that plunge us deep into positive and negative memories or more intensely, into past traumas.

As teachers, not only do we need to practice mindfulness around our language, but also a willingness to take responsibility for the atmosphere, tone, and emotional ambience we provide for our students. We provide a safe and nurturing space for others to show up with their vulnerabilities, unrecognized expectations, and inevitably…their projections.

The unspoken conversation that is constantly going on can be a complex territory to navigate through while simultaneously flowing through a sequence. As an instructor, one cannot help occasionally placing a “me against them” barrier between teacher and students.

How A Yoga Community Thrives

The sangha or yoga community thrives when the teacher can successfully offer an air of unconditional acceptance and support with the ability to react on the spot—not just with proper alignment and cueing of the physical asana practice, but also in dealing with the frustrations and feelings of inadequacy when the students confront challenges.

A teacher must discern at times between a voice that demonstrates tough love with positive encouragement, and the voice of a concerned parent cautioning one from pushing too far too fast. As much as we remind our students to practice beginner’s mind on their mats, as teachers, we can also benefit from that very same advice.

Practice treating each student as an individual rather than looking over their postures and picking at “this” while pulling at “that”—as I have recently experienced in some alignment-based classes. The goal of unrealistic perfection exists everywhere, and yoga provides a retreat for introspection beyond those external pressures.

Both student and teacher can empathize that showing up on the mat is not always easy, and that each person brings a tremendous amount of emotional energy with them to class. Whatever a particular student needs today will change tomorrow, and the same holds true for the class a teacher offers.

We Are All Students AND Teachers

A teacher can prevent an authentic empathic connection to form by feeling defensive, feigning a cool detachment or react indifferently to their own fear of being judged by students. Similarly, feeling unseen or being given a less than thoughtful physical or verbal adjustment can challenge a student’s ability to trust a teacher. And in some cases, their ability to trust the practice itself.

Perhaps, understanding that both teacher and student have vulnerabilities and fears, and a huge part of the healing process of yoga as it unfolds day after day, teaches us all forgiveness and patience.

We are all students and teachers to each other constantly, and by remembering that our learning never stops, we can bring the present moment into our consciousness and live it on and off our mats.

We can take the guru off the pedestal. Instead, we will bring the teacher/student relationship to the forefront because it is through critical self inquiry – where a student has the space and freedom to question the teacher’s intention – that deep understanding of the self and compassion for others can occur.

Image credit: Rob Martel / Yogi: Judy Rukat


JudyProfileAJudy Rukat – I teach yoga for the rebels, the rogues and the villains, the weak, the broken, the damaged, the lost, the hopeless, the underdog, the ones who only know struggle, the motherless, the addicts, and those who love too much. I am all of these, and I know that a vast ocean of peace lies beneath all this. I will never tell you what yoga is and isn’t, you decide for yourself. Just show up and find what liberates you on your mat!

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20

Let's Bridge The Gap Between Yoga Teacher And Student

by Judy Rukat

[This post originally appears on DoYouYoga.com]

The yoga mat, aka a rectangular microcosm of life at large, provides a springboard into the depths of self study and psychospiritual exploration. It makes sense that as yogis, we can and will experience “triggers” or moments that plunge us deep into positive and negative memories or more intensely, into past traumas.

As teachers, not only do we need to practice mindfulness around our language, but also a willingness to take responsibility for the atmosphere, tone, and emotional ambience we provide for our students. We provide a safe and nurturing space for others to show up with their vulnerabilities, unrecognized expectations, and inevitably…their projections.

The unspoken conversation that is constantly going on can be a complex territory to navigate through while simultaneously flowing through a sequence. As an instructor, one cannot help occasionally placing a “me against them” barrier between teacher and students.

How A Yoga Community Thrives

The sangha or yoga community thrives when the teacher can successfully offer an air of unconditional acceptance and support with the ability to react on the spot—not just with proper alignment and cueing of the physical asana practice, but also in dealing with the frustrations and feelings of inadequacy when the students confront challenges.

A teacher must discern at times between a voice that demonstrates tough love with positive encouragement, and the voice of a concerned parent cautioning one from pushing too far too fast. As much as we remind our students to practice beginner’s mind on their mats, as teachers, we can also benefit from that very same advice.

Practice treating each student as an individual rather than looking over their postures and picking at “this” while pulling at “that”—as I have recently experienced in some alignment-based classes. The goal of unrealistic perfection exists everywhere, and yoga provides a retreat for introspection beyond those external pressures.

Both student and teacher can empathize that showing up on the mat is not always easy, and that each person brings a tremendous amount of emotional energy with them to class. Whatever a particular student needs today will change tomorrow, and the same holds true for the class a teacher offers.

We Are All Students AND Teachers

A teacher can prevent an authentic empathic connection to form by feeling defensive, feigning a cool detachment or react indifferently to their own fear of being judged by students. Similarly, feeling unseen or being given a less than thoughtful physical or verbal adjustment can challenge a student’s ability to trust a teacher. And in some cases, their ability to trust the practice itself.

Perhaps, understanding that both teacher and student have vulnerabilities and fears, and a huge part of the healing process of yoga as it unfolds day after day, teaches us all forgiveness and patience.

We are all students and teachers to each other constantly, and by remembering that our learning never stops, we can bring the present moment into our consciousness and live it on and off our mats.

We can take the guru off the pedestal. Instead, we will bring the teacher/student relationship to the forefront because it is through critical self inquiry – where a student has the space and freedom to question the teacher’s intention – that deep understanding of the self and compassion for others can occur.

Image credit: Rob Martel / Yogi: Judy Rukat


JudyProfileAJudy Rukat – I teach yoga for the rebels, the rogues and the villains, the weak, the broken, the damaged, the lost, the hopeless, the underdog, the ones who only know struggle, the motherless, the addicts, and those who love too much. I am all of these, and I know that a vast ocean of peace lies beneath all this. I will never tell you what yoga is and isn’t, you decide for yourself. Just show up and find what liberates you on your mat!

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20

Mindfulness Tools for Today: An Intro to MBSR

Video by Rebekkah LaDyne

At Namaste, we strive to offer programs that we feel can easily be integrated into our modern lives. Mindfulness is something all yogis strive for but really is a fantastic practice for everyone, whether they have a yoga practice or not. Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction is a way of separating yourself from the thoughts that trigger negative emotions, therefore allowing space between you and the urge to react to those thoughts that often trigger stress. MBSR has been praised by people across all demographics, industries, and schools of thought as a scientifically proven method for treating depression, anxiety and insomnia.

Our thoughts are extremely powerful and sometimes, when left unchecked, can manifest into physical illnesses. The beauty behind MBSR is that it does not teach us to ignore stress and illness, but rather to relate to them in a new way. Changing our perspective us gives us a new freedom and ability to approach our problems with a calm, level head.

In this article from PsychCentral.com, Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn (the founder of MBSR), acknowledges that “there are few outright cures for chronic diseases or for stress-related disorders,” however, “it is possible for us to heal ourselves — to learn to live with and work with conditions that present themselves in the moment. Healing implies the possibility that we can relate differently to illness, disability and even death, as we learn to see with eyes of wholeness.”

If you are interested in learning more about this holistic practice, we encourage you to watch the video below and consider attending our September MBSR workshop series!

This post originally appeared on Rebekkah’s blog The Mindful LifeMindfulness practice can invite us to allow our experience to be as it is, opening to, accepting it. Mindfulness can also help us to take wise action, and to incline the mind away from unhelpful thoughts. Find out more about these practices with this pithy teaching.

 



pic_aboutrebekkahAs director and lead teacher of a thriving Yoga and Mindfulness Center from 1998 – 2008 Rebekkah guided thousands of students to reconnect with their hearts, minds and bodies. She taught at Spirit Rock Meditation center as their ongoing Family Program Teacher from 2010 – 2013. Currently, she delights in teaching Mindfulness to families, teens and adults through her private practice, workshops, and retreats. 

Join Rebekkah in her upcoming 8-week series beginning September 14th.

FREE OPEN HOUSE SEPTEMBER 7th. 

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20

Honoring the Life of BKS Iyengar: 1918-2014

by Ashley Sharp
Have you ever used a block, a blanket or a strap in yoga class? Have you ever modified a pose to find greater depth of your breath, awareness and ease in the pose? You can thank BKS Iyengar for that!

Yoga changed him – and then he changed the world with yoga.

As a child he was sickly with malnutrition, tuberculosis, typhoid and malaria; the doctors predicted he would live only until 20. He credits yoga asana with saving his life and lived to 95 years of age, doing asana until the end.

Iyengar brought yoga to the world – opening yoga centers on 6 continents. He brought yoga to you and I even if we have never set foot in an Iyengar class. In the
70’s Iyengar yoga was virtually the only yoga one could find. Your yoga teacher has probably studied Iyengar yoga. Our teacher’s teachers learned yoga directly from him. Yoga asanas that we think of tradition and basic – he created!

He says in a 1996 interview, “I had to create poses- if Trikonasana can be done like this, why not Parivrtta Trikonansana? If Virabhadrasana I could be done, why not Virabhadrasana III?… If Bakasana, why not Parsva Bakasana?”

When he started teaching in Europe in the 50‘s no one was interested. Classes were hard to get started and they were small and ill attended. It took years for the students to come. In fact yoga did not get popular until the late 60’s and into the 70’s.

His system is rigorous and precise. “If you cannot see your little toe,”
Iyengar asks, “how can you see the Self?” Within the rigor of the Iyengar system, lies a genius method for accommodating the variety of human bodies and the ailments that befall us at times. Tight hamstrings? Use a strap or a chair, or a bolster or a block. Chronic fatigue? Do your standing poses on the floor. High blood pressure? Do forward bends.

Iyengar’s life and passion reminds us that integrity and commitment can shape a life and ultimately shape the world. “Even if God himself comes and tells me, ‘Leave the asanas behind,’ I will say, ‘No! I will not leave them.'”


Ashley Ashley Sharp, E-RYT began teaching yoga at the turn of the century.  She is known for her wit, practicality, and tenderness as an instructor. She grew up dancing, and brings to her classes a lifetime of body-knowledge and wisdom. She has studied yoga asana and philosophy in the United States and in India with Swami Dayananda, Erich Schiffmann, Patricia Sullivan and Sat Santokh Sing.

See Ashley’s class schedule.

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20

Tips for Establishing a State of Gratitude

By David Schlussel

[This post first appeared on David Schlussel’s Blog: Live Better, Feel Better]

I’m so glad you’re even looking at this post. Thank you.

To help establish you in a deeper state of gratitude, I have a few questions for you: What’s the difference between actual gratitude and the word “gratitude”?

What is the feeling sense?

How grateful are you for how well your life is going at this moment? That you currently have the health and resources and time and lack of other trauma to be in front of a computer reading this? Seriously. Life could be much, much worse, right? Things are okay, right? Pretty good in fact, relatively. Of course things could be much better, but that’s for later. Gratitude for current reality is the name of the game. Gratitude for now.

We’ve all been in a situation where we’ve offered something generously, and felt genuine gratitude from someone; and we’ve all been on the receiving end of that exchange, and felt that genuine gratitude within us. What is that feeling?

We’ve all been on both sides of a situation where an offering was not fully met with gratitude. “Thanks” (said flatly) or “eww” or “is that it?” or “(silence)”. We know how that feels, yes? From both sides, yes?

When was the last time you felt it: actually fully received someones gift, especially the gift of their open heart’s availability to you?

When was the last time you felt fully received?

What creative ways have we found to not not receive people’s (or the earth’s) offerings? What else can push away that opportunity for gratitude?

  • taking it for granted
  • rejecting it as offensive
  • indifference
  • judging it as insufficient

And while all of these experiences are valid, it is not only possible, but feels really good to take a moment to experience gratitude for the gesture.

Taking it for granted: “Wow, air, I’ve been breathing you my whole life, forgetting what agony I would be in without you, how I would actually die within seconds if you weren’t constantly there for me. I’ve even polluted you without thinking twice about it more times than I can remember. When I put my attention on you I realize that every breath is blissful. (Inhale/exhale). Oh I am so grateful for you and this blissful breath of life we are together.” Or how about your partner, your job, your car, your parents, your kids…..


Rejecting it as offensive:
Swami Venkatesananda said something great: paraphrasing: “If we are a true seeker, looking to clear away our triggers, if someone does something that bothers us we can thank them for pointing out to us where we are unresolved, and where the rest of our work that we are so committed to is”: “Wow, judge, your letting a known sex offender and child pornographer go after raping a 13 year old really disturbed me. Thank you for reminding me of what’s really important to me that I’ve done nothing about. I’m going to do something about that, like make sure you lose your job, and make sure the world understands that 13 year olds are precious and should not be held responsible for their actions, and that those who take advantage of them do not get away with it.”

Indifference: “Hey lover, when you ignored my loving gesture, I felt hurt like I’d been abandoned. Thank you for helping me feel how I still cling to abandonment trauma, and the ways I do things to get approval, not just because they are good things to do. I can now work with that.”

Judging it as insufficient: “Thank you person I am not at all attracted to who is flirting with me, it is so beautiful of you to face any fears you have of rejection and approach me this way. I am flattered (pause to enjoy). And I also am not interested.”

We can experience gratitude without having to take everything that comes our way.

A powerful lesson in gratitude came from my nephew Helix at Christmas when he was about 5. He opened present after present, until he could find no more, and as any 5 year old would do, without thanking anyone for a single present, asked if there were more. I thought: why would anyone give you more presents if you don’t even appreciate what you have.

Of course I immediately thought about my own life, how many gifts I have and how rarely I actually appreciate them. Theres a way that when I feel like I don’t have enough money, love, attention, whatever, that feeling of scarcity and the closure that surrounds it keeps me from having the more that I desire.

And so I apply it in my yoga practice. Most powerfully in things like straightening my leg while hold ing my big toe, when lifting up to a handstand, opening to the splits, or any such yoga trick that once seemed impossible to me. I’d find myself attempting a posture and feeling that familiar blockage to my freedom and get so frustrated (so ungrateful) for my limitations, forgetting that they are there to protect me. Why would my body keep opening if I don’t appreciate what it’s already doing? I learned not to force past those blockages, but to be grateful for them: pause there to learn what my body was trying to tell me by seizing up, and guess what happens? My body opens further. My ingratitude held me tight where I was, my gratitude freed me up. Every time. In every way.

So I take this time to thank you for being in my life enough to get this message. I love that I get to feel heard on subjects that are important to me. I thank the earth for the enormous bounty it’s been offering every species in our divine cohesion since life began! I thank our nation and it’s desire to fiercely protect it’s citizens in a way that I have never lived in fear of war or famine, and can use that freedom to pursue loftier aspirations. I thank my family for holding me and raising me and nurturing me in all the ways they knew how, the best they could every day to this day. I am grateful to have this chance of a lifetime on earth as a human being to get to experience what life has to offer.

Have a wonderful day, week, month, year, decade, life!


David_Schlussel

David Schlussel is a yoga teacher, life coach, husband, and father. David experiences yoga as the practice of reconnecting with our wholeness. When we operate from our wholeness, we experience the incredible strength and flexibility that is our potential. David coaches his students from fixed ideas about what they can and can’t do, towards life as a playful exploration of possibility.

To contact David, email him at yogidavid@gmail.com or visit his website: yogilifecoach.com

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20

Deepen Your Practice: Honoring Deities

by Nubia Teixeira

Within the world of symbols, myths and mystery, we can find the keys to the gateways of the Divine Beings. This Divine Realm is believed to exist within ourselves; as we learn to see these Deities as different facets of own personality and complexity, reflecting their Light and their qualities upon us. Like the Light of the Sun that reflects many different colors upon a crystal clear prism.

These same Beings are believed to exist in the Celestial Realm, an abode of Goodness and Benevolence from where they attentively watch after us, supporting us in our journey as humans and orienting us towards our spiritual evolution. The access to this Sacred Realm is first and for most granted by their Grace; “When the time is right the ripe fruit simple falls from the tree and the patient Bhakta (devotee), simply sits under the tree and waits – Shyam Das”.
There are many different practices that come from Bhakti Yoga – The Yoga of Devotion and Love – that will support a practitioner to evoke the blessings and presence of these archetypal forces within themselves. Drinking from this Well will inspire your yoga practice immensely.

“When the time is right the ripe fruit simple falls from the tree and the patient Bhakta (devotee), simply sits under the tree and waits – Shyam Das”.

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I started practicing yoga at the age of 16 in Brazil and my first Yoga Training was thru the University of Yoga in Sao Paulo (Mestre DeRose) when I was 18 years old (1990) My first understanding of the deities of the hindu pantheom was historical, archetypal and although we were practicing mantras and mudras, they were not infused with devotion. It was not until later on in 1997 when I started dancing Odissi (classical indian dance from Orissa- India), that I began to develop a different relationship with these beings. Dancing for them and infusing the mudras with sentiment, made a home for them in my heart and I feel that an infinite flow of abundance took place in my awareness. I say that with Odissi, Lakshmi visited me and opened my eyes to the countless blessings I have experienced since then.

By learning more Mudras, some Mantras and specific Pranayamas that are related to some Gods and Goddess will enrich your Hatha Yoga practice. It will bring a depth and meaning to what you do thru your physical body, awakening the colors of emotions, feelings and the purity of the elements within.

In the Bhakti Nova Day Long I will be sharing my experience and understanding of the deities of the hindu pantheon which be the foundation for this work. Their symbols, stories and Mantras, and a specific Asana for each one of the seven main deities. Hopefully these inspirational keys will bring more beauty to your practice and life and open your awareness to the Infinite Source of Light and Gifts of Remembrance.

LORD GANESHA  

Symbolizes: Breaking Barriers – Opening New Phases – Destroying Obstacles – Bringing back the Dharma – Truth as the Master Key – Grounding – Foundation – Materialization.

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A Brazilian-born yogini Nubia has devoted herself to teaching different aspects of Yoga for the past 22 years. Perceiving Yoga as a Healing Art, Nubia’s refinement and devotion to this ancient practice is reflected in her unique teaching, overflowing with heartfelt compassion and inspiration. A longtime dancer in the classical Indian dance tradition Odissi, Nubia joyfully infuses her classes with it’s symbology and sacred geometry. She is the author of the CD “Pranayama: May Breath Be Our Prayer”, released by Sounds True.

Heart Flow Yoga is based on Bhakti and Hatha Yoga. In the heart of devotion we honor the physical body as an instrument of service. Flowing thru asanas, pranayama, prayer and mudras we begin to awaken the internal ocean of feelings, emotions and transformation, tuning into our divine purpose .

Nubia will be leading two retreats this year:
Sunday, July 27 | Bhakti Nova: A Day Long Retreat
Friday, September 5 – Sunday, September 7 | Women’s Yoga and Thai Massage at Harbin Hot Springs

 

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There is No App for Happiness

By Max Strom

“No poet is ever going to write about gazing into his lover’s emoticons.”

I bought a perfectly good flip phone three years ago, but lately people tease me about it as if I’m using something from the Victorian Era. Before that, I had a different flip phone, which followed an analog cell phone. Remember those? And before that, I had a telephone with a wire that stuck in a wall. You want to know which one had the best sound quality? The one that stuck in the wall. But I digress… What I want to talk about is what hasn’t been upgraded: the quality of human communication. The quality of our conversations with friends and loved ones hasn’t improved one bit. In fact, many people now send text messages instead of conversing at all. We have far greater access, but far less intimacy.

Information technology is expanding at such a rate that nearly every aspect of our world has been impacted, yet there has been no corresponding expansion of personal happiness. Instead, we find that we have become anxious, sleep-deprived, depressed, and over-medicated.

One in four women in the United States takes antidepressants and/or anti anxiety medication, with men not far behind. And for sleep? The Center for Disease Control has declared that insufficient sleep is an epidemic.

My premise is not that technology is supposed to increase our happiness but that our society now believes it does. We have become confused as to the difference between happiness and entertainment. The constant glancing into our smart phone to see if anyone has pinged us, while a friend is sitting across the table speaking to us, are indicators that we are addicted to something that is making us less considerate and more alienated.

Here is one of the most important statistics you may ever read that explains the clash of human happiness with text-based technology. According to research from 1981, approximately 90 percent of human communication is nonverbal. So although we are more connected than ever, when we communicate with text, it is only 10 percent of us that is connected. It is no wonder we feel more alienated. The overuse of social media, texting, and gaming is causing our society, especially young people, to develop symptoms that remind me of Asperger syndrome — verbal difficulties, avoiding eye contact, inability to understand social rules and read body language, and difficulty in forming true friendships.

Emotional intimacy requires personal knowledge of the deeper dimensions of another being and is developed through trust. Trust can begin, or end, with a first glance, because, like other animals, we inherently know a great deal about each other through body language and tone of voice. In fact, we often ascertain the trustworthiness of a person in mere seconds, without a word spoken. Based on nonverbal communication we regularly make life-altering decisions; whether or not to begin a business relationship, accept a date with someone, or allow someone to look after your child. We rely on nonverbal communication at the deepest level of our being.

Innovators are making great strides in programing humanoid-type robots that have faces and can produce human expressions. These robots are programmed to make eye contact and to read and respond to human emotional expressions, tone of voice, and body language.

The strange and perhaps history-bending irony is that we are teaching robots to make eye contact and watch for nonverbal cues, but meanwhile, we humans are now avoiding these things, opting instead to send texts and then adding smiley faces to crudely humanize the message. We are humanizing robots as we voluntarily dehumanize ourselves.

In my new book, There is No App for Happiness, (Skyhorse August 2013) I introduce readers to three imperatives that accelerate change from the inside out, humanizing change that I believe can make us happier. The one I will mention here is Life-Span Management. We have an incongruous schism between the concepts of our time and our life as if they were two completely separate things. In one hand we have a precious short life, and in the other hand we have time to kill. Time is not only money, it is much more than that; it is the minutes and seconds of our mortal life. Your time is the finite resource from which you experience this world — everyone, everything, and especially that which you are devoted to and live for. Because it is a finite resource, whether we are aware of it or not, we all purchase each time-event at the cost of another. When we come to this realization, a giant bell rings as we comprehend how much of our life-span we have been wasting on meaningless activities that serve no one and nothing. Happiness costs something. What are you willing to sacrifice to have more life/time? And what is stealing your time?

Remember Steve Job’s famous quote? “My favorite things in life don’t cost any money. It’s really clear that the most precious resource we all have is time.”

I am sharing this quote not because it is unique, because it isn’t. I share this particular quote because these words were spoken by the icon of tech success. Jobs achieved great wealth, power, and fame, only to discover that his favorite things in life were free — and not made from silicon.

To be clear, I am not anti-technology. Quite the contrary, I am even an advocate of self-driving cars. But I think that we have to select our technology wisely. If we bring technology into our life, it should simplify our life and give us more free time, not take it away. If it doesn’t make your current life run more seamlessly, get rid of it. Everything new is not better.

Maybe it’s time we start applying Silicon Valley style innovation to ourselves so that we find a path to a more meaningful experience of living, and a more sane world.


MaxStromThis article first appeared in the HuffingtonPost titled “There is No App for Happiness”.
Max will be leading a workshop at Namaste on July 20, learn more.

Max Strom is a global teacher, speaker, author, and trainer, and is known for profoundly inspiring and impacting the lives of his students for nearly two decades. Many of you know him from his inspiring book, A Life Worth Breathing, which is now published in six languages, and his recent book, There is No APP for Happiness. In 2006, the increasing demand for his work caused him to take his method beyond his center in Los Angeles, and he now takes his message around the world to people of many faiths and nationalities every year. As a result, Max Strom has become a new voice of personal transformation. Max’s method, Inner Axis, is a system of field-tested skills and techniques that get immediate results. It includes a philosophy for real world living, breath-work, yoga movement, and meditation.

 

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