Why I Teach Prep for Birth

When I was pregnant with my first child I remember facing the unknown of giving birth. It felt like it didn’t matter how much I read, I still couldn’t get a handle on what the first, second and third stages of labor might look and feel like. This created a background feeling of tension and unease that I was only barely aware was there.

Second time around, I not only had the benefit of having been through the experience, but I also took HypnoBirthing® classes. These classes offered several fantastic tools that, in part, inform my upcoming Prep for Birth workshop. Having immersed myself in the world of prenatal yoga after having two children I feel passionate about bringing these tools to new mothers.

Combining experiential exercises, including some gentle partner yoga, as well as informational pieces, the main focus is on practices supporting relaxation.
In our busy modern lives, being able to relax is a skill that can take some training, especially in the face of a brand new, unknown experience.

Another important piece is to make sure you’re not sweeping concerns under the rug like I was that first time. When we have the time, space and support to explore those background worries and bring them to light, we get to either find action steps or see that we’re holding on to something unnecessarily and can let it go.

My favorite part of the class is a couple of simple exercises to bring you and your partner into a deeper connection. I love hearing from the couples that I work with that, in the course of their preparations, these exercises have them come back to the very reason they are bringing this amazing new life into the world together. It’s not uncommon in committed relationships (and even more so for those already parents), to have that deeper connection fall by the wayside.

So this class will not only give you tools to take into a relaxed and easeful birth, but can support you going forward in your relationship too!

In three hours, you’ll connect sweetly and deeply, you’ll learn, move and relax. I look forward to meeting you and supporting you on this very special journey.

Rosy Moon Schlussel

 

With love,
Rosy Schlussel

Preparing for Birth takes place December 10, 2017 at Namaste Berkeley. 

This class is an opportunity to come together with your partner and learn some foundational tools to support the mother-to-be in the lead up to delivering her baby.

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20

The Driven Yogi: Wisdom for New Teachers

1. Where did you grow up and at what age did you discover yoga?
​I’m from a small town in Clinton, Utah. Growing up I was a competitive gymnast and power tumbler. The competitiveness I learned at a young age carried into different areas of my life, including my career.

It wasn’t until the age of 26 when I discovered the magic of yoga. I was in a high-visibility, high-stress career as a TV news reporter. I covered a wide range of stories from natural disasters to murders, and my stress and anxiety got to an unmanageable level. Since I use exercise as an outlet, I started experimenting with different classes. I took one yoga class and was hooked! I left the studio feeling grounded, light, and clear-headed. From that moment forward, I knew that yoga would be an integral part of my life.

2. How has yoga changed for you since you began practicing?
​When I first started practicing I was always frustrated when I couldn’t do a pose (the competitive gymnast was still in there). It was 6 months into my practice when I was finally able to dig deeper and really understand that I needed to accept where I was in my practice from day-to-day. Sometimes I wanted to move and move hard, and other times a child’s pose was exactly what my body needed. When I accepted this idea, I was finally able to let things go on my mat and that’s when my practice truly blossomed.

3. What attracted you to take a yoga teacher training?
​As much as I love yoga, it actually wasn’t the yoga at all that compelled me to enroll in a teacher training. I’m a competitive pole dancer and I absolutely love pole. When tackling difficult moves in pole, I use the breath techniques I have learned in yoga to help me get through the moves. Because of the benefits yoga brought me in pole dancing, I wanted to bring it to other dancers and create a class that combined the two forms of exercise. I was halfway through my yoga teacher training when I realized I wanted to teach yoga, as there were soooo many directions I could take it. For now, I’m focused on teaching yoga, improving my teaching skills, and sharing my journey through The Driven Yogi.com. I may still come up with the pole/yoga hybrid class, but for now, I’m just happy teaching yoga and guiding my students in their practice.

4. Do you have any advice for people who are just getting into yoga?
​There are a lot of misconceptions that stop people from practicing yoga and the first one relates to flexibility. Since teaching I have had several people say “I can’t do yoga because I’m not flexible,” but that’s not what yoga is about. For me, yoga reminds me to breath, not take certain things in life so seriously, and to come to my mat to find that release and stillness that my body (and mind) need. If people decide to try yoga for the first time I would just say don’t have preconceived notions about what yoga is or isn’t. Try it out and see what happens. Allow yourself to have your own experience.

5. You have a great presence and have really put yourself out there. Any tips for teachers who may be shy about marketing themselves?
​First off, thank you for that compliment! As for the question, putting yourself out there is scary – I totally get that. But marketing yourself as a new teacher is necessary.
If people don’t know about your classes, how will they be able to come? The studios I work at are super helpful in promoting teachers’ classes, but teachers can’t solely rely on studios to do that for them.

In regards to digital promotion, it doesn’t have to solely​ be about promoting yourself and your classes.​ I find that students actually enjoy getting to know more about their teache​rs outside of class, and they look for ways to relate to them. The posts I put out that don’t have anything to do with yoga tend to get more interaction than the ​posts that ​do​​.​ And ​sometimes, students ​will mention things they’ve seen on my page when they come to my classes – and it’s always the post that don’t ​have to do with yoga.

6. Who are your favorite Namaste teachers and why?
​Oh my goodness, there are so many! I love how much knowledge and experience each one has and I love getting the chance to practice with them. Obviously, I rea​lly enjoyed my teacher trainers: Domonick for his unique yoga classes that combine sequences with dancing, Baxter for his knowledge around anatomy, Vickie for helping me fall in love with alignment-based yoga, and Ashley for helping make meditation bearable (I couldn’t stand doing it before I had her leading me and teaching me certain techniques). On top of the teacher trainers I had, Whitney Walsh (my mentor) is amazing and has such a unique way of leading classes. She drew me in immediately and I HAD to learn more from her. I practice with her weekly and am blown away every. single. time.

7. Where do you hope to be in 5 years?
​In five years I hope The Driven Yogi is the go-to source for new yoga teachers. Many great and experienced teachers have already contributed to the site by providing insightful tips for new teachers. As the site grows I will continue to reach out to teachers, but I definitely have plans for the future of the site​ – stay tuned!​

8. What is one tip or self-care practice that you can’t live without?
​This is cliche, but I couldn’t live without yoga. I have a Type-A personality and my mind is constantly on the go trying to figure out how I can check more things off of my neverending to-do list. Yoga reminds me to breathe, be present and let little things go, and it also keeps me grounded so that I can get back to tackling lists – in a healthier way of course.

9. Anything else you’d love our Namaste community to know about you?
I​f you’re a new teacher and curious about the next steps you should take after your yoga teacher training, or if you are thinking about doing a training, please visit my website and sign up for our email list so that you are always in the loop when new tips come out – TheDrivenYogi.com.

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20

Summer Reading List: Volume 2

Stay Curious! Summer is a great time to catch up on your active desire to read more and be inspired. Here, we’ve collected some top yoga-relative reading from your fave teachers. So, before it’s too late, pick a book up from our boutiques or load up your kindle with some of these brilliant recs.

[bottom left] Carpenter: Richard Rosen’s newest book, Yoga FAQs. Local Yoga Legend, Richard asked his students what they wanted to know, and he answered! Its a fun, accessible and yet remarkably thorough — and profound — collection and everything we always wanted to know about Yoga, its past, present and future.

[bottom right] Domonick Wegesin: One recommendation:  Stumbling on Happiness, by Daniel Gilbert.  It’s more of a mindfulness book, but shares psychological insights into what makes us happy.  Insightful read.

[top left] Baxter Bell: I love the books by Stephen Cope, The Wisdom of Yoga, and Yoga and the Quest for the True Self, as well as Richard Rosen’s Original Yoga and his newest book, Yoga FAQ.

[top right] Julia Alexander: I would recommend poetry – invoking our imagination, reviving the inspiration, speaking the language of the heart…Hafiz, Rumi (of course), Rilke…Mary Oliver, David Whyte…

[bottom left] Nubia Teixeira: Gita Wisdom by Joshua Greene, Yogini by Janice Gates

[bottom right] Siri Peterson:  Awakening Shakti by Sally Kempton, Disease Delusion by Jeffrey Bland

[top left] Vickie Russell Bell: The Mirror of Yoga by Richard Freeman, Yogabody by Mark Singleton (a controversial read!), Yoga FAQs by Richard Rosen

[top right] Claudia Florian McCaffrey: Bountiful, Beautiful, Blissful, by Gurmukh, Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth and Baby Massage, The Calming Power of Touch

Heads down people!

Learn more about our amazing teachers here.

(Including Jaimi Patterson, featured in pics in this post.)

Shop local and visit our boutiques where many of these books are available for sale!

 

 

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20

What does it mean to Embrace Your Shadow?

by Sariah Jiwan Shakti 

Kundalini Yoga is an ancient yogic technology that helps us heal, strengthen, and cleanse our body as well as balance our mind and our Ego. It brings together all of the different branches of yoga into one practice that will quickly and powerfully transform your life. The thing about high speed transformation is that it can often feel uncomfortable and messy. As we heal our nervous system from past trauma, the residual emotions come up so they can be cleared. Sounds fun, right? Navigating this kind of mass clearing might feel daunting and even a little scary. Fun isn’t quite the thing that comes to mind! However, on the other side of that is freedom, clarity, more creativity and joy and those things may seem a bit more attractive, and yes, can lead to fun!

I’m excited to speak about these things because I’ve been there and personally experienced the messiness, freedom, and joy in transformation. But it definitely wasn’t always easy. When I was going through my Kundalini Yoga teacher training I experienced a lot of irrational anger. All of my suppressed childhood anger was coming to the surface with a vengeance my target became my teacher. I wrapped up all of that angst and frustration, stuffed it into a ball and lobbed it right at his Ego. It was perfect. One day I flat out told him that I didn’t like him. As I waited with my foot in my mouth for him to ultimately dislike me back, he said, “Sariah, where there is a bright light, there is a dark shadow.” This comment has always stuck with me and I’ve often shared it with friends and students when they are grappling with their shadow self. It helped me realize that in him was darkness and light as well as myself. I also realized that my suppressed shadow was projecting judgements onto my teacher as away to find some relief. Classic stuff.

As humans we have strong polarities or opposite forces within us with the most obvious being left and right hemispheres of the brain, masculine and feminine, and positive and negative charges. We have acidic and alkaline qualities within us, we experience hot and cold, high energy and low energy, we are awake and then we are asleep, and I could go on. Often times we equate our dark side or shadow self to the negative and the light side to the positive. Our brains often go to this place of negative = bad and positive = good. However, I want to invite you to take on a different perspective as you read through this. Because all of the polarities within us make up our whole self and allow us to function and on this earth plane, let’s allow both dark and light, positive and negative to be a perfect part of who we are, not good or bad, just part of our Is-ness. That being said, why does our shadow self often seem so intense, negative, and something that we want to push away, or has consumed such a large part of who we are, there is no room for the light?

Let’s explore what the shadow really is according to Carl Jung. Jungian psychology teaches us that the shadow aspect of who we are refers to an unconscious aspect of the personality that the conscious ego does not identify in itself. It’s the least desirable parts of ourself and so our conscious mind tends to push those away and make them largely negative storing them away in the subconscious. Jung says, “Everyone carries a shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is.”Sariah Jiwan Shakti

So the more we push away this often labeled negative part of ourselves and do not give space for it to express in our conscious life in healthy constructive ways, the more destructive it can become taking up so much space there is not much room for the light to get in. This may manifest as chronic depression, addiction, angry rages, or deep internalized anger that contorts the personality. Ultimately, in it’s most extreme form, if this shadow is not expressed, someone may cause harm themselves or others.

When the shadow aspect of ourselves is causing us to self destruct, we become cut off from our connection to spirit, GOD, soul, and our pure creative playful nature – The Light. The good news is that humans are inherently heliotropic which means we are constantly reorienting towards the light. Even in our darkest times with enough digging we can find an ember within us that if stoked will turn into a bright fire. Why? Because one cannot exist without the other. Dark cannot exist without the light and vice versa. So where there is darkness there will always be light.

How can we embrace our shadow, love it, and transmute it into light? What does a healthy relationship with our shadow self even look like? How can we start to cultivate a loving relationship the perceived negative parts of ourselves so we can become more balanced, have more room for our light, and ultimately shine bright, be big, and connected to our soul’s creativity?

1. Practice Allowing All to BE

When you notice that you are experiencing some uncomfortable emotions, thoughts, images, or sensations in the body, give yourself some space experience this energy. Breathe deep into your body, allow it all to be with you instead of labeling your experience as wrong or bad. Recognize that these darker emotions are here to give you information about what you need to improve your experience. As you allow all to be with you, remain open and notice if new, more constructive thoughts, impulses, and ideas come to you. Notice if your body begins to relax and release. Remain open without attachment to the outcome.

2. Play with Your Shadow

Are there some safe, fun, and inspiring ways for you to express and play with your shadow? Perhaps there is a loud, aggressive rock band you want to go and dance to. Maybe a costume or outfit you want to rock at a party that expresses your shadow self. Maybe you go out to a secluded place in the woods and throw rocks and scream obscenities and all of your dark thoughts to release them and ground them in the earth? Creating art and music is a great way to express your shadow self, channel this aspect of your subconscious self into something dark, beautiful, and inspiring for others. Find a friend, teacher, or coach to help you work more constructively with this energy.

3. Practice Yoga, Meditation and Prayer

Yoga and meditation are the fast train to getting into your subconscious mind, clearing out the old, and changing old pattern behavior that does not serve your highest good and your light-being self. Prayer is a way to connect with the God consciousness within you that trumps all darkness and will instantly bring the light. Surrender the destruction of the shadow to God and your Higher Self. Prayer also provides the energetic support you need to pull yourself out of a funk. Yoga will strengthen your nervous system and when you have a strong nervous system, it is easier to take a pause, a breath and be with the shadow so you can metabolize the bad feeling emotions.

4. Celebrate and Shine Your Light

When you notice that your dark energy has shifted to more lightness, celebrate this! A great way to recognize this is if you notice your system has gone from feeling tight to feeling big and expansive. Make it a point to smile at others and say nice things. Share your experience, your grace, and the brightness that is within you. Know that all good things, dreams, goals, and visions come from within you. External circumstances do not get to dictate how you feel. Allow your inner light to shine outward and create all of the good things in the world your unique self is here to create!

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20

Odisa Walker: My Dad, My First Teacher

I grew up in the 70’s in Southern California. My mom and dad emigrated here from South America (Colombia & Peru) in their early twenties. They came not to get away from their own countries but simply looking for adventure, something different, and they made the US their home. My mom was down to earth, dealing with how to pay bills, put food on the table make a good life. My dad was sort of the opposite. He was, and remains a seeker. He was also looking for the ‘the good life’ but that meant something completely different to him. He was always looking for meaning, and from my mother’s perspective, not concerned enough about the day to day realities of supporting a family.

My dad’s life (and ours) changed drastically around 1973 when he went to a party at our neighbors place. He was already a vegetarian and wasn’t interested in drugs or alcohol so he wasn’t thrilled about attending but he remembers seeing this couple dressed in white. He was immediately drawn to them and started a conversation.The couple were members of a group called La Fraternidad Universal. This group was pretty far ut but not all that unusual for the seventies. My dad remembers thinking, ‘These are my people!’ They were the perfect balance of science, astrology and spirituality and yoga.

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I remember being a little girl and seeing my dad so serious about his yoga. It was a way of life. My dad and uncle were both a part of this group and greeted each other and all members of the group not with a handshake but an upraised hand with thumb turned in towards the palm and the words ‘Pax, hermano.'(peace, brother.) I remember many gatherings, everyone dressed in white, lots of vegetarian foods (the odors of these foods I remember to this day.) Lots of philosophical discussions and then the actual yoga asana practice. At home my brother, sister and I loved lotus and headstand and laughed hysterically trying to do these poses. My brother, sister and I lived with our mom but on weekends this was our life. We were kids and so we put on bored faces and gagged over the smell of the food but this group planted seeds of profound awareness to something beyond the superficiality of life. My dad never stopped talking when he was with us, in the car, on a hike to the Griffith Park Observatory, or camping. As much as we tried to tune out his constant contemplation on the meaning of life he made each of his children not thrill seekers but peace seekers.

I avoided yoga for much of my twenties but always had a nagging feeling that I needed to get back to it. I tried prenatal yoga during my first pregnancy and was utterly bored. My mind and body were not ready to slow down. I took other Hatha Yoga classes that I thought were nice but did not make me want to come back. In my early thirties I walked into a step aerobics/yoga combo at the Oakland YMCA that blew me away. The yoga was so fast and strength based and I couldn’t keep up at all. I laugh now to think that’s what it took to get me to stop, listen and feel. I was exhilarated at the end of class and knew I had just stumbled onto something amazing. It was my first vinyasa yoga class. Shortly after trying my first vinyasa class I moved to the east coast and eventually made my way to a studio in Washington DC. It was a Power Vinyasa studio where the yoga was hot, humid, fast and furious. I remember hearing Om’s being chanted in the studio for the first time, feeling a little breathless and emotional and knowing I had finally come back in my own way and time to the teachings of my childhood. This was my place, these were my people. I can walk into any yoga class now (and I often do) and quiet my mind. It doesn’t have to be fast or hot but that is what brought me back. I love the practice of breath and movement. It slows me down and becomes a meditation and that is what I love to teach. We can call it Hatha or Vinyasa or flow but essentially it is simply and profoundly Yoga.

My sister and I are both yoga teachers. It is a practice that sustains us physically, mentally and spiritually. We always know we can talk yoga anytime, we are each other’s captive audience. I believe my brother finds yoga in his life among his everyday tasks and has a quiet strength and peace within. Even my mother who did not think much of ‘Yoga’ eventually became a student of mine and my sister’s as well as at her local gym. My dad is still talking, maybe not quite as much, but still very much in deep philosophical thought. A flower is not just a flower and a star not just a star there is deep meaning to everything. The spider walking up the wall should not be killed but gathered up in your hands and taken outside. In talking to him recently about writing this piece he was excited and is now sending me songs he wrote and his own remembrances of this time. The teachings continue…

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20

Namaste Teachers Share the Best Yoga Advice They’ve Received

We asked Namaste Yoga teachers one question: what is the best advice that you’ve received regarding your yoga practice? (spoiler: we have some seriously wise teachers!).

Here’s what they said:

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Judy Rukat

When I began my teacher training with the late Larry Schultz, I had NEVER practiced yoga before and was not enjoying the training (to say the least). Yoga broke me down, humbled me and was too much for me in every way. In fact, it felt like a sort of painful death. I approached Larry with my discontent and he told me, “You are on the path to becoming a great teacher,” and GENEROUSLY gifted me my teacher training because he believed in me. That’s real yoga.

richardrosen

Richard Rosen

A friend of my wife is a professional astrologer and psychic and he once gave me a free session. Though I’m not a psychic kinda guy, I went just to be polite and he told me that “as a yoga teacher I’m not working with people’s bodies as much as with their souls” this advice has stayed with me now for many years.

 

Elana Morgulis

Elana Morgulis

I think the best advice I’ve received was a simple reminder mid-pose to notice the quality of my breath. If my breath felt constricted, I could gently back off. It gave me permission to be gentle with myself, and I experienced a profound relief and freedom within. Whew, I feel good just thinking about it!

 

 

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Reba Gray

Master the practice of ahimsa (cause no injury or harm). Make that the most important thing in your yoga practice right now.”

 

 

 

 

kenbrenimanKen Breniman

The best advice I received from my teacher Darren Main, was when he said: “Ken, teach from your heart!” He really encouraged me to connect to my authentic self and through following his wisdom,  I have focused much of my on-the-mat and off-the-mat healing on connecting to Source so that I can teach what the students want/need without my  worries or doubts getting in the way.

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Annemaria Rajala

I draw constant inspiration from one of my teachers, Sam Chase. He told me that a yoga practice should “meet us where we are and help guide us toward what we desire to become.” I strive to live by this on a daily basis.

 

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Poh Teng

My favorite advice is something passed down from senior practitioners of Eknath Easwaran’s Passage Meditation and the collective wisdom of the satsang. “The spiritual path is not easy. It is similar to climbing a mountain. On our trek towards the summit, the conditions of our journey change all the time.  Sometimes, the sun shines brightly, the weather is fine. Maybe the incline isn’t even that bad.  We experience progress during our travels and we feel pretty good about ourselves. Other times, the weather is dreadful and we cannot find shelter. Maybe the trek around the dark side of the mountain, where the sun is hidden from us, is longer and harder than anticipated. Maybe we come to an obstacle in our path that causes what appears to be set backs. (sic) In our own time, we eventually arrive at the summit where we meet each other. Keep practicing. And all is coming.”

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Julia Beauchamp

The best advice I received from a yoga teacher was about how “the inhale is a rising up and the exhale is circling down”. In this way we create an energetic loop around the spine every time we breathe. The change of direction above the head and below the tail bone are important, crucial points of transition– the moments in between when time stops and for a moment we cease to exist until the loop picks up momentum again.David Schlussel

David Schlussel

“Practice less, more often”

 

 

Domonick Wegesin

Dr. Domonick Wegesin

“Just fucking do it” from mindfulness teacher Jon Kabat- Zinn.

 

 

 

Naushon Kabat-Zinn

The best advice I have ever received is from my teacher Baba Hari Dass, who always said “Teach to Learn.”

 

 

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Rosy Schlussel

My teacher Sofia Diaz has said some things that have stuck with me for many years, here’s a couple of zingers: “Yoga is the willingness to feel what you have committed to through being alive.”

 And a little more complex & shocking, perhaps: “The difference between dragging your body around behind you like a dead dog on a leash and yoga, is the answer to the question: “Are you in love?”

 

Claudia Florian Mccaffrey

Claudia Florian-McCaffrey

The best yoga advice I’ve received from one of my teachers was to “get on my mat for just 5 minutes.” This taught me that all I needed to create a practice was a mat and my breath. After those few minutes I had the choice to stay on my mat or finish my practice and it worked! I never stayed on my mat for just 5 minutes. I got inspired to take care of myself because those five minutes felt great and I wanted to stay longer!

Tara Sullivan

Tara Sullivan

Best advice about my practice was from my teacher Sharon Gannon who said, “The best way to uplift your own life is to do all you can to uplift the lives of others.”

What is the best advice you’ve received from a yoga teacher? Please share in the comments!

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20

Kundalini Yoga: Find the Missing Sock in Your Soul!

By Sariah Sizemore

Housekeeping 

I love it when my house is clean. Everything is in its place and the thin film of dust that covered the tables and countertops has been wiped away exposing vibrant color and shine. The air is fresh and fragrant. As I move around my space, I actually feel the spaciousness inside of myself as a reflection of my external experience. I find things again! I’m no longer irritated and confused when I can’t seem to locate the one knee sock that goes with the other knee sock that perfectly goes with the dress I want to wear. I know, as they say, first world problems, but it can be maddening to not find the missing piece to your ideal outfit. For me, laundry always seems to be my downfall when attempting to keep a tidy home. 

I know you might be thinking that this is a blog on Kundalini yoga and energy so why the heck is she talking about cleaning her house and finding her socks! As I was contemplating what I wanted to share with you about my experience with Kundalini, I thought a lot about how developing a relationship with the life force in myself, the Kundalini energy, has allowed me to more directly clean, clear, and organize my internal experience.

Through practicing Kundalini Yoga, I have cultivated more spaciousness within myself. I have more access to the information my mind, body, and spirit has to offer me. Ultimately, I experience more clarity and awareness so I’m able to find the “sock” within myself, or I should say my soul, that completes my whole self.  

Yes, I’m saying that Kundalini Yoga will help you find the missing sock in your soul! It is an ancient technology that works to cleanse, balance, and activate the self-healing superpowers inherent within you. We humans are pretty complex beings with a lot of bells and whistles. The amount of information we process is mind blowing, literally, and we manage to do all this processing as we accomplish our daily tasks at work, spend time with our families, travel, plan for the future and tend to all of the other threads that weave our lives together. The way we manage all of this data is through the subconscious mind, and it’s called sub – conscious for a reason…it’s not conscious. If all of the info we take in on a daily basis was in the forefront of our consciousness it would in fact blow our minds. However, this does not mean that it is not contained within us. 

The Subconscious Mind and Autonomic Nervous System

Our subconscious is associated with the autonomic nervous system that manages all of the functions our bodies carry out without us having to think. For example, we don’t consciously tell our heart to beat-beat-beat, it just does that. We don’t have to tell our food to metabolize, or our cells to regenerate. These things just happen and they happen through the silent work of the autonomic nervous system. Our nervous system keeps us alive and functioning on all levels and using the subconscious, records all of the data it needs to diligently perform that duty.  Sounds good right?! Thank you Autonomic Nervous system! 

So what does all of this have to do with Kundalini Yoga and finding our socks? As evolving humans, our physiology is constantly changing to meet the needs of the modern environment we live in. Unfortunately, we haven’t quite managed to sync up. Actually, we haven’t changed that  much since the time of the cave man except for the ability to use language, which happened about 4,000 years ago. When we examine how our autonomic nervous system works, we gain some insight into this fact. The nervous system is categorized into two different functions: sympathetic and parasympathetic. The sympathetic nervous system is responsible for the “fight or flight” mechanisms in our system. For example, if we are in the jungle and see a sabertooth tiger, this will activate your sympathetic nervous system which in turn fires up everything in your body to run or pick up a big stick and fight! The parasympathetic nervous system is responsible for resting, regeneration, and relaxing. 

The subconscious starts recording information from the time we are in the womb and stores info on how to stay safe, comfortable, and out of danger. It saves the threatening experiences, imprinting trauma right into your system, so you will be activated to move away from that same danger again through the sympathetic nervous system. The problem is that in modern society we experience so much stress and pressure that our nervous system’s ability to recognize a real threat can be off base. 

Is it a tiger about to eat you, or just your boss breathing down your neck to finish a deadline? Our ability to switch between the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system becomes abnormal when we experience our every day environment as a threatening place. This contributes to fear, confusion, disorientation, and anger. When spending more time activated into sympathetic nervous system response, our adrenal glands excrete high levels of adrenaline and cortisol hormones. These hormones increase blood flow, heart rate, and send more nutrients to our muscles so we can get the power we need to escape the threat. The problem is that it takes away resources from other bodily functions and that leads to lack of sleep, irregular metabolism, fatigue, and dis-ease in the body. 

When we are inundated with information that is not being processed appropriately and our nervous system is not regulated, we often have an experience of feeling blocked, cluttered, or not having enough space to execute on the things we want to accomplish. Fear can be a debilitating emotion and when you mix that with a lack of physical energy and resources, struggling may be more of your experience than fresh energy and spaciousness. Our minds may feel foggy, memory slow, and our ability to connect with ourselves and others becomes more difficult. When all of this is happening inside of us, it is very much like having a messy home with dust covering our color and shine and it’s very hard to find that missing sock or perhaps even know what we are looking for! 

Kundalini, The Healing Life Force Energy

Practicing Kundalini Yoga infuses you with fresh life force energy and regulates the nervous system. It is a practice that cultivates awareness and through that awareness, you have more choice in how to respond to your environment instead of being in the reactionary place of fight or flight. You are able to recognize the triggers that happen in your everyday experience that re-stimulate you into experiencing the trauma of the past, and consciously clear them instead of having them lay dormant in the subconscious continuously activating fear and protection. Soon your experience becomes more neutral, you are more embodied and present, and have more space to bring forth creativity from a deeper connection with the soul and our whole self. 

Kundalini Yoga combines all of the aspects of yoga practice: physical, breath, sound, service, and intention to quickly and powerfully realign the energetic centers in the body connecting you with your whole self. It is a quantum technology that if practiced regularly will give you the ability to transcend time and space and create the life you want to have through the power of vision and directed positive thought. The life force energy, or Kundalini, moves from the base of the spine, through concentrated energy centers called the chakras up to the crown of the head and out into the aura, the electromagnetic field that surrounds the body. You can think of this energy as a healing salve that washes through entire system to regenerate you – mind, body, and spirit. This practice unlocks you in such a way where old trauma is brought up from the subconscious to the conscious so it can be healed and cleared. If you are looking for a yoga practice that gives you the full package of physical, mental, emotional, and nervous system fitness, give Kundalini Yoga a try. Because it’s so powerful, you might have a range of experiences with it. Sometimes it’s pure bliss and at times as it wears away the layers of fear and protection, it’s uncomfortable. Practicing yoga teaches you how to stay present with that uncomfortableness, however. In allowing that stuff to come up and move, you experience more presence, liberation, and ultimately more joy and expansiveness in your life. 

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Want to learn more about Kundalini? Listen to Sariah speak further on the Spirituality 101 Podcast.

Please join me every Thursday at 6pm at Namaste Grand Lake for Kundalini Yoga and meditation. I am a life coachcounselor offering private Kundalini Yoga sessions as a tool for quickly moving through the blocks that hold one back from experiencing a fully expressed and joyful life. Please visit my web site at www.sariahsizemore.com

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Namaste Teachers: Meet Sadie Chanlett-Avery

Our Namaste Tribe is a powerhouse of wise, talented, and experienced teachers who have dedicated their lives to sharing the gift of yoga with others. We are constantly in awe of the incredible offerings our teachers bring to this community. We are excited to share a new blog series focused on celebrating our teachers and hopefully giving you all a glimpse into the talented team that makes up Namaste Yoga + Wellness.

Meet Sadie Chanlett-Avery

How long have you been at Namaste?
I have been at Namaste for 7 years.

What inspired you to become a yoga instructor?
I’ve always has a knack for teaching and found a passion for yoga. I haven’t found anything else that suits me better.

Best advice you have ever received relating to your practice?
Don’t get too attached to the yoga “magic” My teacher told me that those moments come and go but can throw you off track. Stay focused on the daily details of the practice.

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Your favorite self-care practices?
Sleep and shared meals.

What is your morning routine?
I drink herbal tea while I make breakfast and coffee. Then I often write and have social media time before practicing.

What are you involved with outside the studio?
I serve as the In-House Yogi at Clif Bar Co. I lead kettlebell training, perinatal training, and the yoga program. I also try to write everyday.

Sadie

How often do you practice?
Daily.

Absolute favorite asana?
Dynamic movement: finding the space between the poses.

Do you have a favorite yoga story?
One time I did a private session with my friend’s mom. She was a timid, Midwestern lady and I remember demo’ Warrior I for her. She cowered, backed off a bit and wrung her hands, asking, “Did you say ‘Worrier’ pose?”

What is your favorite thing about yoga?
It really wants you to be you as you are. Messy. Amazing. Strong. Silly. Dedicated. Vulnerable. and Crazy Powerful.

What is something you wish all of our students understood better?
How completely perfect and whole they are already!


SadieProfileBSadie Chanlett-Avery, holistic fitness trainer, yoga instructor, and writer, was named a 2013 Athleta Sponsored Athlete. As the In-house Yogi at Clif Bar & Co. she directs the yoga and perinatal programs, trains with kettlebells, and serves on the Wellness Team. Sadie received her teacher certification from Ana Forrest and has immersed for months in the jungles of Costa Rica with Master Yoga and Meditation Teacher, Glenn Black. Her M.A. in Holistic Health Education and multiple fitness certifications lends antomical depth to her innovative and playful classes.

She appreciates the diverse expression of the human genome with the belief that people of all ages and sizes can benefit from exercise and heal with yoga. Teaching for over ten years, she applies ancient yogic principles to individual needs and modern lifestyles.

Join Sadie for her next workshop:
Intro to Yoga
Sunday, January 11 at Namaste Rockridge

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Namaste Teachers: Meet Hannah Franco

Our Namaste Tribe is a powerhouse of wise, talented, and experienced teachers who have dedicated their lives to sharing the gift of yoga with others. We are constantly in awe of the incredible offerings our teachers bring to this community. We are excited to share a new blog series focused on celebrating our teachers and hopefully giving you all a glimpse into the talented team that makes up Namaste Yoga + Wellness.

Meet Hannah Franco

How long have you been at Namaste? Hannah
Good question…

What inspired you to become a yoga instructor?
Yoga touches every part of my life. it always always reminds me who I am and I want to help other people cultivate that center.

Your favorite literature on yoga or meditation?
HERE ARE SO MANY GOOD ONES!!! But this is my fav… Desire: by Daniel Odier and The Path of Awakening by Adyashanti.

Best advice you have ever received relating to your practice?
Just be yourself.

Hannah

Your favorite self-care practices?
Abhyanga!!!! I go crazy for oils…

What is your morning routine?
I literally bolt out of bed and in to my yoga pants.  I adore community so I’m always taking classes of one kind or another and the morning time is my favorite!.

What are you involved with outside the studio?
I’m so obsessed with yoga that I decided to design yoga pants for a living!!! I’m also a huge fan of dancing. I like all kinds, I’m not promising I’m any good though:) Outdoor time is key. I love hot springs, they just take you to a whole new place…and of course a good glass of rose! I’m often at Ordinaire or Boot and Shoe Service. I love supporting my community!!!

Absolute favorite asana?
UTKATASANA! It hurts so good…

Hannah

What is your favorite thing about yoga?
It really wants you to be you as you are. Messy . Amazing . Strong . Silly . Dedicated. Vulnerable . and Crazy Powerful.

What is something you wish all of our students understood better?
How completely perfect and whole they are already!

What is your favorite part of the Namaste community?
The fact that it is actually a community!


HannahProfileBHannah is yogi, an artist, and lover of dance. Her classes are a blend of Hatha yoga and energizing Vinyasa, and are suitable for all levels with an emphasis on creativity, steadiness and presence and a joyful celebration of life!

She took a transformational trip to India to deepen her studies in tantra and hatha yoga in 2009, where she was certified. Her focus as a teacher is to bring community together and harmonize the way we all interact with compassion and love for all our unique spirits.

As a yoga teacher and designer for Athleta she truly understands the dance to find balance in this busy world.

hannahfrancoyoga.com

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Namaste Teachers: Meet Naushon Kabat-Zinn

Our Namaste Tribe is a powerhouse of wise, talented, and experienced teachers who have dedicated their lives to sharing the gift of yoga with others. We are constantly in awe of the incredible offerings our teachers bring to this community. We are excited to share a this blog series focused on celebrating our teachers and hopefully giving you all a glimpse into the talented team that makes up Namaste Yoga + Wellness.

Meet Naushon Kabat-Zinn

How long have you been at Namaste
I have been at Namaste since the beginning… 11 years!

What inspired you to become a yoga instructor?
I first fell in love with yoga when I was a teenager and then did a teacher training when I was 20 just to deepen my practice. After I finished my training, I taught my first class the very next day! I never thought I would be a full-time yoga teacher, but it felt like my true calling in life, and I couldn’t argue with what felt right.

Best advice you have ever received relating to your practice?
“Seek teachings everywhere”

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What are you involved with outside the studio?
I love to cook, share meals with friends, and spend time near, in, and on the ocean.

How often do you practice?
Everyday, in some form or another. Sometimes my practice is meditation and yoga, sometimes just meditation. Sometimes its a few poses, sometimes its a 2hour practice. And all of life is practice.

Absolute favorite asana?
Downward Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)

What is your favorite thing about yoga?
Coming home to my truest self.

What is your favorite part of the Namaste community?
My students! They inspire me every day!


Check out Naushon’s sweet sequence on our blog for integrating a short morning practice into your routine and join us Sunday at Namaste Grand Lake for Fall in Love with Yoga: Bringing Your Practice Home Workshop!

Naushon_Kabat-ZinnNaushon has been a student of yoga since she was a little girl. Her challenging, yet compassionate Power Vinyasa classes are a wonderful way to cultivate strength, serenity, flexibility and balance.  Inspired by her studies with Baron Baptiste, Shiva Rea, Baba Hari Dass, and the teachings of Vispassana (Insight) Meditation, Naushon’s all levels classes emphasize the linking of movement with breath, cultivating our ability to be more fully present and awake in our lives, and navigate the challenges that arise with more grace and kindness.

“I have been teaching for the past 13 years. For me, yoga is life-saving. It grounds me when I feel disconnected, overwhelmed, and stressed out, and gets me back in my body when I feel stuck in my head. But mainly, yoga gives me perspective, reminding me to wake up and enjoy this beautiful life that I have been gifted…to realize that this moment, right now, is enough.”

Please visit naushonyoga.com for more information about Naushon’s workshops, retreats and booking private sessions.

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