3 Branding Tips for New Yoga Teachers

The yoga industry is booming. In the last year, over 15 million new yoga students began practicing within the US alone, spending over $27 Billion on yoga related products and services. Where it use to be difficult to find a quality yoga class – now, in certain cities, studios outnumber Starbucks. The improved yoga studio business model, an increase in celebrity attention, and the rise of mindfulness practices (especially in tech) have led to a massive boost in popularity.

New students entering this space are often excited, nervous, and overwhelmed by the sheer number of choices, including what style and whose class they should take, and that is once they decide on a studio.

With so much marketing, advertising, and corporate money being poured into the yoga scene – it can be daunting figuring out where to start as a new student, let alone a new yoga teacher. Who are you? How can you communicate your uniqueness to your students?

The good news is this…yoga is still very much about just being yourself.

At Namaste, we have a large community of over forty teachers and over a hundred classes per week. Over the last few years I have had an opportunity to watch what works best. Here are my top three branding tips for new yoga teachers:

Yoga takes discipline. Most yoga teachers don’t end up teaching because they have nothing else to do. A large percent of yoga teachers have master degrees, some of them are CEO’s, and some of them have gone through immense life challenges to be here, sharing their path. Let your students in on your life.

Write down or say aloud to yourself why you love teaching and why you decided to become a yoga teacher. Think of it as creating your personal brand’s “About” page. What was the catalyst that led you to this way of life? How has your life changed? You are a living, breathing advertisement for your own product (your class), your content (your own practice), and your brand (your teachings). Streamline this story, so it becomes easily digestible, succinct, and highlights the parts that are unique to your path.

Share this story with your students. They will appreciate your openness; they will feel more connected to you, and they may even share your story with friends (leading to bigger class sizes!). Depending on how succinct you can make your story, you may share intermittently in class, but always have it available online. In addition to having it on your website, consider writing a blog post and posting through social media to gain more traffic. Also, spending time to connect with the front desk staff at your studio will increase the likelihood they also share your story with new students.

New teachers can have a difficult time building yoga classes off the bat. The best technique I have seen for gaining new students is through subbing. In order to sub for popular classes, new teachers must put themselves out there and get to know the other teachers in their community. I highly encourage new teachers to make the rounds. Attend other teacher’s classes and workshops, community events for the studio, and yoga industry gatherings. If your style resonates with another teacher (or vice versa), it works out great for both parties.

Once you have connected with teachers, share your experiences. Share photos of you attending their class, status updates about hanging out with others in the community, and event invites for workshops being taught by other teachers. These types of social media posts are attractive to students. They enjoy seeing your engagement with the community, syncing with more established teachers who they trust already, and will assume you likely teach a high-quality class, since other teachers are actively supporting you.

The more you share other teacher’s works, the more likely those teachers are to promote and share yours. When you are cross-pollinating your promotions with other teachers, you give yourself access to a larger demographic. Students can categorize you and your style of teaching faster when you are connected to another group of teachers, and this allows for faster development of your personal brand.

Deciding to be a yoga teacher means you have chosen a life that is now largely in the public eye. Your regular students will look up to you the same way people look up to some celebrities. As tempting as it may be to shy away from self-promotion, embrace it. It is a necessary aspect to ensuring your career is successful.

Take advantage of all the self-promotion tools available. Set up a Facebook Page (not a personal page) as a public figure. Create an Instagram account dedicated to your yoga practice and teachings. Create a website and make sure to list all of your classes, your bio, and any upcoming workshops. There are several great website services such as Squarespace, Wix, and WordPress that all make it easy (and cheap) to create beautiful sites with minimal technical experience. It is also worth hiring a professional photographer to take a variety of photos that you can repurpose across all of these platforms. A professional photographer out of the budget? Ask a friend or even your studio. Often times studios have access to a nice camera and may be willing to help you take a few pictures.

Once you have established your social media pages, continue to update. Feed your new fan base with recent pictures, new insights, and fresh content such as blog posts and favorite teachings of yours. In order to stay at the forefront of your student’s minds and to attract new students you must stay engaged with your online community.

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20

5 Questions to Ask Before a Yoga Teacher Training

by Emily Roth

If you practice yoga regularly, you know it is powerful stuff. Yoga teacher training’s have become increasingly popular – with different focuses on everything from social justice to healthy aging. If you know that you are ready to go deeper but are unsure if you need a yoga teacher training to accomplish this, meditate on some of the following questions:

1) Do you have a regular meditation or home practice?

IMG_1629Having a regular yoga or meditation practice is an important first step towards deepening your practice. Although maintaining a regular home practice can be difficult, it is something that most studios encourage before making a commitment to a teacher training. You don’t need to be practicing yoga every morning at 6 AM  – but you should spend time exploring a home practice and make a concerted effort to practice on your own as much as possible.

A good way to gauge if you have a healthy home practice is if you can say, with confidence,  that whenever you feel the need to tap into your body you know how to get there on your own, in a personal, sacred way. Learning how to make yoga personal and how to practice on your own are crucial building blocks for developing a practice that is meaningful and rich.

2) Have you felt cues from other areas of your life encouraging you to dig deeper?

If your life feels like you are ready for a big shift, a teacher training may just be the spark you need. A teacher training will force you to focus, to dig down deep into your inner desires and values, and to learn how to express yourself in more authentic ways.

Often we may feel ready for a lifestyle change but are lacking the right environment or supportive community to help us achieve our goal. A teacher training can be a perfect opportunity to bond with fellow beings who are interested in curating a life of healthy choices and honest living.

3) Do you feel like you are in a supportive, stable place in your life?

IMG_5005A teacher training carries a lot of commitments. Not only will you be investing your money, but you will be investing a good amount of time, energy, and emotions. It is important to feel confident that your living situation, your personal relationships, and your finances are all in a stable place.

If it is a financial stretch, you are going through a rough breakup, or in the middle of moving – then taking a training right now may not be the wisest choice. Although it may sound like a fun distraction – the likelihood of you being able to tap into the inner wisdom you seek will be highly diminished. You want to be in a clear, stable place in your life where you can dedicate yourself fully to the teacher training journey.

4) Are you feeling the desire to learn and become a student again?

Learning is a lifelong process. If you are feeling the burning desire to become a student again, there is no better way to answer the call than to take a teacher training. A yoga teacher training is an opportunity to not only advance your asana practice, but to dig into the philosophy and history of yoga. You will be in a classroom setting again, with fellow students whom with you can study, brainstorm and debate. You will be able to process all of your new knowledge under the guidance of experienced teachers. This will make the learning experience much more valuable than if you were to read the materials alone.

5) Is your yoga studio a place that feels like home?

IMG_8615This is the most important question. Is your yoga studio a place where you feel safe, accepted, and cared for? You will be spending a large amount of time there and will at moments feel very vulnerable. It is important that you vibe with the teachers, the atmosphere, and even the front desk staff. These people will become like family, and the relationships you have with them will either detract or enhance your teacher training experience.

Namaste’s Every Day Sacred 200 Hour Teacher Training is right around the corner. If you are interested in expanding your practice, feel free to email us at tt@ilovenamaste.com or call us to find out more.

Applications and more information may be found here. 


10174922_10202666021745158_698447662340860057_nEmily is passionate about working with small businesses, staying healthy, and helping others.

Learn more about her at www.emilynicoleroth.com

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20

Invoking Shakti Through A Creative Practice

By Judy Rukat

Women tell me all the time that they are not physically strong and therefore they struggle through an Ashtanga based Vinyasa practice.

When I hear this, I always ask them to question that belief and where it originated. I encourage my students to examine their relationships with others for insight. As women, we often have the misconception that if we repress our own needs for the sake of others that we are somehow “preserving” our relationships. Before long, the good intention of compromise turns into feelings of self-sacrifice. When women commit too much of themselves for the sake of others happiness, a sense of self or the divine feminine disappears. Our innate desire to nurture and care for others before our self often results in a lack of time dedicated to self–care and empowerment. A lack of time dedicated to syncing with our inner voice opens the door for feeling out of touch or even feeling weak.

Blessings come into your life disguised by pain, heartbreak and hardship. During these times of fear, disappointment, or simply feeling just plain broken we may hear a deeper calling towards healing. When we hear this calling, a feeling of being “putback together” arises within us and begins to bring us back to our divine feminism and inner strength. That innate force is SHAKTI. Sometimes recognized as Kundalini symbolized by a coiled up Snake that lies dormant at the base of the spine. Shakti meaning “Power” or “empowerment,” is the primordial cosmic energy and represents the dynamic forces that are thought to move through the entire universe in Hinduism. We invoke our Shakti Power through natural sensual movements, creativity and our desires to transform stagnant energy into vibrant and radiant expression.

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A great way to revive Shakti is to awake your inner snake by beginning with a vinyasa sequence that uncoils your serpent through unstructured asanas. Allow your asana practice to transform into a free form dancing flow that focuses on releasing tension from the spine and loosening the hips. Discovering just how Shakti manifests in each of us in her own unique and diverse way will allow for increased creativity and energy.

In my upcoming workshop, Invoking Shakti, we will come together through the support of the community to embrace the divine femininity that resides in us as individuals. My hope is that when we gather we will leave our mats and inhibitions behind. With our insecurities gone, we will embrace our inner feminism and divine power, showing up as more authentic, free, and truly ourselves. This authentic and free atmosphere is where mutually enhancing relationships become possible, and we may bond with our fellow women warriors. We all have the ability to leverage Shakti to our benefit and to invoke the powerful and creative forces within us. All we have to do is let go and believe in our own inner strength!


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Judy Rukat-Bussell has been a personal trainer for over ten years. Judy embodies yoga as a lifestyle and practices integrating all aspects of the self through breath and movement. Judy’s style of teaching embraces humor and playfulness and an unending curiosity which allows her students to show up to their practice in an authentic way. Judy has a BA in Movement & Exercise Science and an MA in Psychological Studies from California Institute of Integral Studies. She has teaching certifications in both Ashtanga and Integral styles of yoga.

Upcoming Workshops with Judy:
Invoking Shakti
Saturday, August 9 | 1:30-3:30pm | Namaste Grand Lake | $30

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20

5 Questions for Creating A Home Altar

by Helene Cotton

An altar is a place for honoring what matters to you, and though it requires no spiritual or religious associations, I find it creates a bridge to sacred things in life. The altar in our home combines honoring our pasts with what inspires us to live a loving life in the present. Here are some questions I ask myself when creating as sacred space at home or re-arranging our alter, which we do fairly regularly.

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1. Will I try to meditate in front of my altar or do I plan to pass by it habitually?

We’ve designated the top of the piano for our altar – it is perfect because we pause by it on entering and leaving the house, and it occupies a space that doesn’t collect a lot of other belongings to clutter its significance.

2. Who or what do I want to honor for the current state of my life?

My husband and I choose to honor the people we’ve lost who have marked our pasts, by keeping photos on our altar. But we also honor each other, and the gratitude we feel for having each other, with origami lotuses that were on our wedding tables and the sage stick we used to ceremoniously mark our wedding spot.

3. What qualities do I need to cultivate in my life right now?

We keep a stone buddha on the altar to remind us to cultivate peace, balance, right thinking, right speaking, and right intentions, which seem perpetually necessary. Right now I am also feeling the need to cultivate acceptance of others and keep from holding on to too many weighty complaints, so I’ve put a feather from our hike over the weekend to brush all that away.photo 3-2

4. What objects symbolize or make you feel a greater connection, to others, to existence, or to the spiritual world?

I find it is important to get a little bigger than oneself, for perspective. For the altar, I gravitate toward objects from nature – dried flowers, feathers, natural minerals, stones, shells, heart shaped rocks. For me, these things symbolize the amazing beauty life produces and that I want to remember to be wondrous of and grateful for. Then I can carry that wonder and gratitude into other aspects of my life.

5. How will I use the altar to connect with it, and by extension, the divine?

I light candles, burn sage sticks, add vases of fresh-picked flowers, finger the mala of beads… You may choose to meditate in front of yours, or sing in front of it, or practice yoga in its view. However you use it, may it bring you healing and inspiration.

Send us pictures of your sacred spaces!

Post to Instagram and tag @ilovenamaste and the hashtag #MySacredSpace


unnamedFrom the clothing and products in our boutiques to the images and flyers that brand us, Helene leaves her mark on us. As our Graphics and Retail Goddess, she is continually shaping the visual look and feel of Namaste. She formally  joined the Namaste team in late 2012, but her tentacles reached here many years ago when she was hired to design and print a tee for the original Rockridge studio.  She absolutely loves interfacing with the amazing people here and is sure she has the best job on staff.  When not thinking about the faces of our beautiful yoga boutiques and studios, she enjoys nature, backpacking, drawing, printmaking, playing with her adorable mutt, and inversions.

 

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20

Why Thai Massage is Perfect for Yogis

by Fiana Anderson

Thai massage is an ancient healing art form, and is no doubt a unique experience. It delivers a deeply meditative and relaxing massage through an intelligent
Thai massagesequencing of palm, thumb and knee presses, stretches, and much, much more. Not to mention that it is unequivocally one of the best therapeutic massages for yoga practitioners.

Thai massage is done on a mat, on the floor, with loose clothes on. A series of deep and rhythmic pressure is applied to the body, along what are called “sen” lines in the body. These lines, especially in the body of a yoga practitioner and Thai Massageparticularly one who sits for meditation, tend to accumulate static tension or lactic acid. This stagnation is relieved and largely released through this massage.

Lactic Acid is built up through rigorous exercise. According to WebMD, when you cross the lactate threshold, the activity rapidly becomes much more difficult and unpleasant. Muscles ache, burn, and become fatigued; the heart pounds; and you feel starved for air. These symptoms increase if you continue to exercise above the lactate threshold, and, in a brief time, you may be physically unable to exercise any longer at that intensity.* This is why massage is a great tool for yogis and athletes looking to detox their systems of lactic acid.

The benefits of Thai Massage are simply innumerable, and include improved flexibility, relief from anxiety and emotional tension, detoxification, boosting the immune system, increased blood circulation, lower blood pressure, improved breathing, posture, balance, corrected body alignment, dissolving energy blockages, relieving arthritis and back pain, toning the body, strengthening joints and can even relieve chronic joint pain.

Thai massage actually slows the aging process.

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Furthermore, this modality is an awakening and engaging experience. There is no ‘zoning’ out in this massage, and although you may experience euphoric and elated sensations, you are always aware of your surroundings and present in your environment.

Thai massage given by a conscious practitioner or partner is a deep form of meditation for both parties. You feel a deep sense of release and often, a sedative quality overtakes the body. Indian, Chinese and Southeast Asian cultural spheres of medicine have influenced this healing modality.

*[American Thoracic Society. American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, May 15, 2003. McPherson, R. Henry’s Clinical Diagnosis and Management by Laboratory Methods, 22nd ed., Saunders, 2011. eMedicine: “Lactic Acidosis.”]  


Fiana_AndersonFiana came to work for Namaste Yoga through sheer love and passion for the yoga community.  She moved to the East Bay last year to study classical, medical Ayurveda at Vedika Global. She spent two years studying in India and has over 1,500 hours of combined education and training in yoga, massage and Ayurveda.

Upcoming Thai Massage Events:
Domonick Wegesin will be leading a Partner Yoga + Thai Massage workshop this upcoming Saturday, February 14.

 

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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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20

5 Steps to Cool Down Your Hot Flashes

By Dr. Amy

“Is it hot in here or is it just me?” Whether you think of them as power surges or a pain in the neck, hot flashes are a very common sign of changing hormones.

No one knows exactly what causes them but hot flashes and night sweats are among the most common symptoms of menopause. The body’s temperature regulation system gets out of balance when our hormone levels are fluctuating. Once you are a few years past your last menstrual period, things will usually calm down on their own, but in the meantime here are some steps you can take to cool things down when your hormones are acting up.

Step 1 – Dietground_flaxseed

Eat lots of vegetables and raw foods, especially cooling foods such as cucumber, fennel, parsley, celery Soy (organic, non-GMO), cruciferous vegetables,
broccoli sprouts, raw ground flax seeds, and wild salmon are all great choices. Quality proteins and good fats will provide the building blocks for your hormones (Caution if you have hypothyroidism: both raw crucifers and soy should be in limited quantities. Instead, add seaweed and fish for extra iodine.)
AVOID: spicy foods, deep fried foods, hot beverages, processed sugars, alcohol, caffeine and cigarette smoking – all can trigger hot flashes

Step 2 – Stress Management

Get regular exercise and go to bed early enough to allow for 8-9 hours sleep
Keep your cool: Feeling anxious, irritable or nervous can trigger sweats
Practice deep breathing – try for 5 minutes at a time, several times per day to teach your nervous system how to calm.
Practice mindfulness, meditation, yoga, or try acupuncture – your body will be less likely to get triggered.
Take care of your adrenals so they can help produce hormones when you need them.

Step 3 – Sleep Comfort

Wear light clothes or wicking exercise shirts to sleep in.
Dry off quickly if you are woken in a sweat, in order to avoid the chill that can create a cycle of sweats/chills.
Keep a window ajar for fresh air that will naturally cool over the night and leave a fan on to keep the air moving.
There are many products on the market such as gel pads and pillows (ie The Chillow) that stay cool through the night.

Step 4 – Herbal Remediesblack-cohosh-clingmans-239

Black cohosh is by far the most well studied herb for controlling hot flashes. An extract providing 20-40 mg twice per day will decrease the frequency and severity of hot flashes for many women. Soy, kudzu and other beans/legumes provide isoflavones which have
a balancing effect on estrogen receptors and can help with hot flashes. Red clover, sage and shatavari (an Ayurvedic herb) are other herbs to consider. I have also been using a newer herbal option, an extract of Siberian Rhubarb (ERr731), with great success.

Step 5 – Hormone Therapy

If your symptoms are severe and persistent, you might be considering bioidentical hormones. Most women (and doctors) think that hot flashes are due to low estrogen. While this can certainly be true, usually in the earlier stages of perimenopause, it is the lower levels of *progesterone* that lead the temperature instability and trigger the heat. Working with a hormone expert will help you discover how best to balance your hormones directly if needed, but the above lifestyle changes and natural remedies will do the trick in most cases.


 

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JOIN DR. AMY DAY THIS WEDNESDAY AT WOMEN’S WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS.

Dr. Amy Day is the resident Naturopathic doctor at Namaste. She is on a personal mission to empower women to find effective solutions to their health problems.After eight years practicing at San Francisco Natural Medicine, she now has her own practice in Berkeley where she lives with her husband and son. She enjoys cooking with natural foods, spending time outdoors, hiking and yoga.

 

 

Schedule a visit with Dr. Amy Day at Namaste Berkeley.

[This post first appeared on Dr. Amy Day’s blog.]

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20

What Can You Do for Yourself in 30 Minutes?

Inspired by the viral video by Dr. Mike Evans entitled “23 1/2 Hours: What is the single best thing you can do for your health?” (we won’t spoil the answer for you) we have decided to share a few of our own favorite 30 minute activities to stay healthy: massage, acupuncture, Ayurveda, & private yoga!

It is true, that if you spend a small fraction of your day/week practicing self-care , your ability to prevent disease and emotional distress is greatly improved. Here are some quick findings from the Wall Street Journal on the importance of integrating regular bodywork and movement into your self-care routine:

  • Children given 20-minute massages by their parents every night for five weeks plus standard asthma treatment had significantly improved lung function compared with those in standard care, a 2011 study of 60 children found. A 10-minute massage upped mitochondria production, and reduced proteins associated with inflammation in muscles that had been exercised to exhaustion, a small study last month found.
  • A 2010 study with 53 participants comparing the effects of one 45-minute Swedish massage to light touch, found that people who got a massage had a large decrease in arginine-vasopressin, a hormone that normally increases with stress and aggressive behavior, and slightly lower levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, in their blood after the session. There was also a decrease in cytokine proteins related to inflammation and allergic reactions.
  • The American College of Physicians and the American Pain Society now include massage as one of their recommendations for treating low back pain, according to guidelines published in 2007.

Taking time for things like bodywork and private yoga can at times feel luxurious. The truth is, these small gifts we give to ourselves drastically improve our overall health and wellbeing. The better we feel, the better we can give back to the world and those around us.

For more information on Namaste’s 30 minute wellness treatments, click here.

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20

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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