Today I'm sharing some thoughts on how to adjust your practice when you're feeling exhausted.Read More
Here are a few things that I know, in this moment.
Yoga is a practice.
And my practice is in a constant state of flux, just like me.
Postures will come and go.
Inversions? Fancy transitions? They do not define me.
Today I practiced yoga for the first time in a week, and my body felt stiff and tight. My joints ached. I tried for binds in Goddess pose and Extended Side Angle, and felt as though I was in a different body than my own.
I felt uncomfortable. I kept going. And, in Shavasana, I felt relieved and a little proud of myself for sticking through the discomfort.
I've heard other teachers and students talk about 'taking a break' from their practice. It has been years since I've done that with mine, but in the last few months there have been moments when I'd rather do anything than yoga.
I know I've spent a lot of time comparing myself to other yogis, teachers and students, deciding who has a 'stronger' practice, who knows more, who is capable, who is worthy.
I'd love to let all of that go.
I journaled about it today, actually. How I'm tired of letting my practice define me, rather than support me.
I don't live to do yoga; I do yoga in order to live a more balanced, happy, peaceful life.
Let that be my mantra. Let the comparisons and judgments fall away.
I want to be remembered as a yogi who loved wholeheartedly.
I want to be remembered as someone who cared, who took care of herself with grace and kindness, and who refused to let fear get the best of her. If handstand is in that picture, OK. If not, OK.
How do you practice ahimsa in your yoga routine? How do you let go of a fear of failure, of not being good enough?
Can you soften? Allow? Intuit?
Rather than force anything, you can notice the resistance and move toward it.
This happens on the mat (in any yoga pose), and in our lives (in any given situation).
Simply by noticing, breathing more, and surrendering to the moment, you start to dissolve the resistance.
For me being a badass has everything to do with truth and courage. When your intention is pure and integrity aligned, you MUST say, act and do what you know to be right. It’s not that confident women don’t get scared, insecure or intimidated; it’s that they push forward despite those feelings because what lies on the other side of that is a sensation that far exceeds the security and complacency of stifling or censoring yourself.
I love to challenge myself! Through my many years of studying and teaching yoga, I’ve come to recognize the physical cues of following the heart or gut and overcoming the critic of the mind. When I decided to quit my corporate job, become a yoga entrepreneur, or move forward into the essential oils business, it wasn’t a logical decision at all… I felt it. I’ve come to trust those feelings as a guide in life and even though there are struggles, I know I’m on the right path.
Rather than advice, I have been given unconditional support. Beginning with the love of my badass mother and grandmother, I’ve continued to surround myself with people who truly love me for who I am and would be there for me even if I failed. That is far more powerful than any words or advice.
You already know what you need. From ending that unhealthy relationship, to taking that job, or making that big move. You already know the answers. If it’s unclear, then you are either fooling yourself or not taking the time out of your life to listen. Unplug, ignore what people want from you, get still and silent. Whether it’s prayer, meditation, or a personal retreat, you have everything you need already contained within you - you just need to cultivate your connection to it.
What things do you do to take care of yourself and stay inspired?
The greatest thing I do to take care of myself is get into nature. Whether it’s working in my garden, hiking a trail, camping under the stars, or a Stand Up Paddle Board adventure, being in the elements and a part of the greater whole fills me up. There are so many lessons we can learn from the rhythms and cycles of our environment. One of the biggest being that you plant seeds (intentions or thoughts) continuously and while the universe honors and supports that (so be mindful of what you wish for), nature works in it’s own time. Be patient and trust the process.
I plan to find more ways in which to serve people and our collective evolution through the teachings of yoga, the supportive benefits of essential oils, and through our connection to nature. I will grow my Stand Up Paddle Board (SUP) Yoga offerings through International retreats and teach others to connect to their own nature within. I will encourage women to speak and honor their truth and bravely support them in what they discover!
PS Meet more badass women here: Sam, a journalist, and Rose, a wellness blogger.
And thoughts on why we badass women must embrace all of our experiences, and all of the emotions that go along with them.
Many of my dear friends and fellow teachers are hosting awesome donation-based classes throughout the day, and I do hope you'll all come out and show your support.
If you are located anywhere other than Sacramento, I encourage you to check out www.yoga4nepal.com to learn more about the fundraisers that are going on. The efforts are nationwide. Read more info, below.
On Saturday, April 25th, a 7.8 earthquake hit Nepal, devastating the country, causing an avalanche on Mt. Everest, and killing thousands of people. The mountainous terrain has made it difficult to get to rural areas to perform rescue, relief, and damage assessments.
The immediate needs are food, water, clothing, medical care, and particularly, temporary shelters as the monsoon season approaches. There is a worldwide relief effort underway to support Nepal’s people to survive and recover, to eventually begin rebuilding their beautiful nation.
We invite every studio, community, and yogi to join us on Tuesday, May 19th to create, lead or attend a special class, event or a day of classes dedicated to and called: “Yoga for Nepal”. This day will bring mindfulness to the suffering of these people, and these classes will encourage people to donate and help raise funds for relief organizations currently on the ground in Nepal.
Donations are tax deductible and all donors can choose to contribute to the following international organizations:
• The Red Cross
• Save the Children
And/Or any of these three local Nepalese organizations:
• Next Generation Nepal
• The Ama Foundation
We are supporting these aid organizations because they:
• Have secure and trustworthy funding transfer mechanisms already in place.
• Are organizations that have existing long-term commitment and infrastructure in Nepal.
• Have staff that are familiar with Nepalese culture, speak the language, and know the political and economic situation there and how to work within it successfully.
• Are experienced and have established track records of providing disaster relief.
Think globally, act locally! This fundraising event will grow from a micro to a macro level with your support.
A heartfelt thanks, too, to all the teachers and yogis supporting this cause!
Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu... may all beings everywhere be happy and free from suffering.
Are you a dude with a strong practice and a story to share?
Are you a male yoga teacher?
Are you a guy who is new to yoga, or you've never tried it but you’d like to?
I’d love to include you (or your friends, family, or fellow yogis at the studio) in an upcoming series on the blog. Please email me at aliveinthefire at gmail dot com for more info. There will be unique opportunities and prizes for participating.
Thanks in advance, yogis!
Photo via Pinterest
Have you ever taken a yin yoga class?
Primarily I practice vinyasa, a style of yoga where you flow from posture to posture, using the breath to link them together in a sequence. The class builds to a peak, and is often a vigorous, sweaty workout, sometimes held in a heated room. (It's a 'yang' practice, since it's high-energy.)
Yin yoga, on the other hand, involves holding restorative poses for 3-5 minutes each, and settling in to sensation. Yin is more about being than it is about doing, and the idea is to let go, to surrender, and to be still.
When I was in yin class this week, I really struggled with the stillness. Quieting the mind can be such a challenge!
So often in my day-to-day routine, I'm moving quickly from task to task, from one place to the next. At work, I check emails constantly and often have to re-prioritize and task-switch throughout the day.
And besides work, there's the constant phone checking, conversations with family and friends, web browsing, driving, to-do list making, chores, errands... the list goes on!
Yin yoga can be challenging, but it is such a worthwhile practice.
The goal is to come to your mat, acknowledging where you are. Whether you are stressed or relaxed, comforted or tense, the most important part is being willing to show up and do the work.
If you've never tried yin yoga, I highly recommend trying out a class. Look for a teacher who's able to hold space and speak in a way that feels grounding and calm. Good music, a relaxing atmosphere and plenty of props also help.
Beneath the fear and hesitation and uncertainty lies your inner knowing.
The relaxing of the palm in Triangle pose.
Engaging mula bandha without strain, simply as an act of inviting prana to stay.
Witnessing as the body lights up, a graceful dance of breath swirling inside.
PS You can read about my experience at Wanderlust 2013 to get an idea of how it was... amazing!
I often get asked for recommendations, so today I'd love to share some of my favorites:
GaiamTV is another great streaming site for a variety of yoga videos. You can try a 10-day free trial to learn more about their yoga videos, plus their content on health and wellness, spirituality, nature and culture.
Also read this post about my favorite yoga DVDs for an at-home practice.
Happy at-home yoga-ing, loves!
Are you new to yoga and unsure where to start in the expansive, wild world of yoga DVDs?
I'll admit: between Barnes and Noble, Amazon and all of the teacher blogs and websites out there, it's hard to know who's at-home practice routine is worth trying.
This post is for all of you yogis who want to keep your practice going at home, but don't know which DVDs are worthy of your time. This list includes all of the ones I'm a fan of, plus a few I've never tried but which look amazing. Hope it brings you many great hours at home on your mat!
Kundalini Yoga to Detox and Destress with Maya Fiennes
Rodney Yee: Yoga Burn
Seane Corn: Detox Flow Yoga or Vinyasa Flow
Morning Kundalini with Tommy Rosen via Gaiam TV
Fit Body Yoga with Gwen Lawrence via Gaiam TV
AM/PM Yoga for Beginners with Barbara Benagh
Core Strength Vinyasa Yoga Total Body Transformation (which I recently reviewed in detail)
Here are three other DVDs on my must-try list:
Power Flow Yoga with Shiva Rea
Budokon with Jason Olive
Yin Yoga with Paul Grilley
Which yoga DVDs are your favorite? Please share your recommendations in the comments below. Happy living room yoga-ing! :)
I came across an awesome article on Yoga Journal today about important lessons that will transform your yoga practice. It's inspired me to reflect on some of the same topics, especially what the place is for ego in the yoga room -- which is nowhere.
There is no place for the ego in the yoga room. The effort of yoga is to lose the ego, to experience motionless, to embody effortlessness... while exerting maximum effort.
Yoga is not about judging. It is about forgiving. And not just others around you, but forgiving yourself. For being imperfect. For sometimes judging yourself based on your ability to execute a posture rather than on your own personal character and true worth.
Yoga is about meeting your edge in class, not comparing yourself to others and risking injury.
Yoga is about taking care of yourself in the room, while also listening to your instructor's words to push, push, push you to do your best.
Yoga is about not being scared to fail and try again. Like if you fall out of a posture, you get right back in. Or if you fall on your face because you tried a ridiculously hard arm balance, you laugh it off and are proud of yourself for giving your best effort.
If you're not sweating, concentrating hard, and challenging yourself, you're not making the most of your yoga experience. And this goes for both heated and non-heated classes :)
Unless you allow yourself to clear your mind by engaging your body, your yoga gets you nowhere.
I'd also like to send out a personal thank you to every blog reader who entered the sponsorship program. I hope the application process was fulfilling and helped you learn more about yourself and your yoga practice.
I couldn't be more stoked to share some of your stories in the weeks to come, too. I value and appreciate your feedback and your ideas about the blog.
Thanks to you and your honest input, you can expect to see some exciting changes around here at Alive in the Fire, including:
- new design
- more continuity
- a new series or two
- some new personal posts
- advice on specific postures, plus a comprehensive guide to every Bikram asana in the 26-posture series
- more info for yogis who don't practice Bikram
- more info for guys who yoga
And once again, a big fat congrats to the sponsored yogis, guest bloggers, and to every applicant who submitted. You are amazing!
Perhaps you've had to mix up your workout this week because of inclement weather. By engaging in other core-building or stamina-enhancing exercise, we can improve our yoga practice.
Sometimes we need to mix it up in order to improve not only our physical health, but our mental health, too. The repetitive nature of Bikram yoga (as a result of the dialogue and our familiarity with the 26-posture sequence) makes it tempting to zone out during class -- to disengage, stop listening, and go with what we know.
At those moments, we risk injury.
Often it can be great to mix up your work out routine by adding different styles of yoga or different cardio activities to your schedule.
Do any of you readers do Bikram on the side? Maybe you are into cross training, running, swimming, or biking -- but you find yoga to be a great complement to your other athletic endeavors.
No matter what your first fitness love is, Bikram can help you build the strength and flexibility you need to perform at your best, and live your healthiest life.
(not simply strong quads)
Try the following cross-training exercise to build arm strength and flexibility.
EXERCISE: Push-up; one of the best exercise for muscles of the chest (pectorals), arms (bicep and triceps) and core development.
Start face down on the floor with your feet together curled slightly so you rise on the ball of your feet. Place you hands close together so your thumbs and index fingers form a triangle on the floor. Keep your stomach contracted.
Inhale as you raise your body up till your arms are straight. Keep your head and neck level with your body and back straight. Exhale out as you lower your body back to the ground.
Bikram Yoga will put an end to the tightness that leads to pain by opening up your joints and stretching all your ligaments, tendons, and muscles. Remember that running doesn't use ALL your muscles. You need a pose that will utilize your whole body.
Try the following Bikram Yoga pose to help straighten rounded spines and relieve backaches. This pose will also increase circulation to the spine and strengthen the abs, arms, thighs, and hips.It will improve the flexibility of the scapula, deltoids, and traps.
POSE: Bow Pose; Start lying on your stomach, bend your knees and bring your feet down towards your glutes. Reach back with your arms, take hold of each foot from the outside, grasping about two inches below the toes. Keep your feet and knees six inches apart throughout the pose. Take a deep breathe, look up towards the ceiling and lift thighs and upper body off the floor. Kick back lifting legs higher off the floor. The main goal is to balance on your abdomen. Hold pose for 20 seconds while breathing in and out through the nose.
Agility, coordination, and balance are also important factors in day-to-day activities, such as standing and walking or (running). Try the following Cross-training exercise to improve these basic functions.
EXERCISE: Jump Rope; Holding the jump rope handles, one in each hand, the rope should be resting on the ground directly behind your feet. Your head should be up, eyes looking forward, not down at your feet. Your elbows should be positioned in close to your body. During the jump, your body should be erect. A basic jump is straight up and down and about 1 inch high. The rope gets its momentum with a basic swing of the wrist and forearms. The knees should flex and extend slightly with each jump. As you jump, try to develop a rhythm (the speed at which the rope turns).