What I've learned over a decade of Yoga studio ownership.
Trust is a Tricky Thing
I don't always trust myself.
I love being up high and looking down. I like to climb mountains, ride the gondola, bungee jump, fly in planes, etc. On stable ground, I feel great. If I have to balance on the edge or jump down, I get scared. I have a fear of falling; of failure. For some reason, I keep climbing, though. I keep going even though I know I may eventually have to balance, jump, or fall off in failure.
This is the life of an entrepreneur. I keep trying, climbing, struggling, reaching, and growing. Sometimes I get to stand on top, feeling proud of my accomplishments, and look down upon where I was. Sometimes, I fail. In the moments when I am succeeding, I trust myself. I follow my gut and my dreams. When I fail, I doubt myself. I worry that I'm no good. I consider quitting. . .I never do, though.
It's All Yoga
I'm no Yoga master. I'm doing the best I can and learning as I go. I keep practicing. As I do, I keep learning more about myself. Then, I share what I have learned with those who share the practice. I do my best to articulate how the practices of Yoga help me as an individual, a teacher, and a business owner.
I remember when I first began developing strength and skill in Asana. It was very exciting because I was attending classes at the gym and my teachers seemed to like me. They were encouraging and supportive as I developed my skills. I recall practicing sirsasana. I would try it everywhere I could; at first with a wall and then on soft surfaces. Once I was able to access the posture I started performing it everywhere. I felt strong, balanced and trusting in my own body.
I could have stopped with sirsasana, but I didn't. I kept wanting to learn more, to be better. I continued to practice and develop new skills both physical and deeper. Over time, I have moved more and more inward in both study and practice. As I do so, I have learned more about myself and my interactions with the world. I have learned to be a better person and business owner.
Taking the Leap
Fear is a very strong force. It can freeze you in your tracks or force you into movement. I like to think that I am one of those people that is forced into movement. I used to allow this movement to propel me without paying attention to where I was headed. I was reactive and protective. My practice has given me the skills of observation, reflection and intentional action. Now, I realize when the movement begins and am able to choose in which direction do go.
During periods of transition, rather than becoming anxious, agitated or aggressive I try, instead to take pause and be more reflective, patient and informed. Sure, I am still afraid, sometimes don't trust myself and I know that I still stand the chance of failure. Now, instead of feeling out of control, at least I know that I am the one who chose to balance or jump down.
More Than Poses
Yoga provides us with so much more than physical prowess. The strength, balance and self awareness we develop through the practice can be generalized to every aspect of life. We can connect Vinyasa with the flow of events and learn to make better decisions. We can apply the practice of mindful focus when interacting with others and choosing to commit to something.
To practice Yoga is to change the way you feel, think and live. You may already have noticed the effects that the practice has. Beyond feeling physically healthy, you might also begin to experience your wellbeing expressing. Yoga gives us the tools to see, know and be. It applies to every aspect of life.
If you're ready to balance on the edge or take the jump. If you would like to learn to trust yourself. If you are finished being frozen by fear. Try Yoga. I might help you discover your Self. It might help you be a better person, partner, business owner, teacher, you name it.
I invite you to join me in the practice and to share how it has changed your perception of the world.
Receive a Private Evaluative Yoga Session before you join a scheduled practice.
I Don't Need No Stinking Props!
I have been guiding Yoga Practices since 2006. My practice and teaching style began as Vinyasa. I had no desire to appear as though I didn't know what I was doing or that I needed a prop to access a posture. I was young, fit, strong and (kind of) flexible.
Experience Leads to Wisdom
My teacher, guide and friend, Amy Pearce-Hayden, strongly suggested that I teach an alignment practice. It changed my entire perspective. I had to practice with tools in order to be able to teach with them. I had to focus upon what I was doing accurately, inaccurately and also what I saw my practitioners doing with their bodies. I would practice creating with my body the postures that I saw my practitioners doing. I became skilled at seeing, feeling and doing postures with both accuracy and misalignment.
Begin Where You Are
Rather than attempting to force me into shifting my perspective, Amy gave me the opportunity to experience what I wasn't willing to see. I was allowed to work from my practice of Vinyasa and develop a deeper understanding of the postures through my own practice and desire to be a better teacher.
This is what an Evaluative Session can do for you. Before jumping into one of the practices at LTY give yourself the opportunity to get to know Jenay and the Rajahatha lineage. Give us the opportunity to learn about your practice, understanding and experiences. Then, we can work together to help you choose the practices that most align with your needs and desires.
Are you ready to begin the practice at LTY? Request an Evaluative Session to identify the best sessions with which to start.
A brief explanation of the concepts of Ego, Universe and Integration
Let's Be Selfish
The message that often gets misconstrued as we discuss the practices of Yoga is that it is a practice of selflessness. True: we are to practice Karma Yoga by being in service to others. True: we should detach from desire and let go of that which we grasp. True: ultimately we will realize that all that we think is true is false and reality is an illusion.
Also True: we are Ego driven, Kosha limited, human beings. Our current situation is the result of the fact that we are influenced by the fluctuations of nature (Gunas) and our own consistution (Dosha). Realizing this, observing its effects and changing our behaviors is our basic goal for now. Therefore, we have to be selfish. We have to focus on ourselves, first.
When teaching the concepts of self (Ego) and Self (Atma), I like to relate them to the way in which humans have evolved to understand the universe. First, we thought the Earth was flat. Then, we thought the Earth was the center of the universe. Then, we thought there was only the Milkway Galaxy. Then, we realized there is so much more.
The self (Ego, I-ness or Individual) is who you are now. You perceive the world based upon what you think is important (the Earth is the center of all things). You are the most important thing. Therefore, everything else revolves around you.
The Self (Atma) is a tiny piece in the grand, gigantic, enormous, universe. It plays a part that is both of value, but also minor in the grand scheme of things. It is made up of all the stuff that surrounds it and, it's its own way is a tiny universe in itself (the Milkyway). It is both unaffected by the Ego and also hidden by it.
You know that video that starts out with the viewfinder on one individual or tiny speck and then pans out for what seems like forever until it has broadened the view to contain the the entire universe? That last part, when it's panned out as far as it can go; that's Brahman.
Once we realize that we are "chips off the old block" of something bigger (Atma), then we can begin to See the whole picture. Before, we were caught up in wants, desires, thoughts, nature, perception, etc. (Ego). Realization, observation and detachment has revealed that all that stuff is unreal; illusion. Now we can see. It's as though our vision has panned out from that tiny speck to envelop the entire universe.
Bliss sounds great, but integration sounds better. Would you rather be all zoned out and disconnected or fully aware and detached? This is the difference between bliss and integration. Samadhi is made up of two words: Sama meaning "same" and Dhi meaning "reflection" or "perception." Samadhi is the the ability to see sameness among everything.
When I first started learning about Samadhi it was translated as bliss. In my mind I imagined that I would be in this happy, joyful, euphoric mindset; that every experience would be wonderful. The deeper I dove into understanding Samadhi, the more I realized it isn't a state of bliss. It is a state of integration; a state of contentment. You reach a level of awareness that allows you to stop "sweating the small stuff." You get to participate, observe and be present without having attachments to emotion, energetic fluctuation or mindful chatter.
Want to learn more about the traditional practices of Raja and Hatha Yoga and how to integrate them into your life? Join us at LTY.
It can be difficult to put your self into someone else's shoes. As our situation changes, so does our focus. Try these practices to help you remain aware of others while still focusing upon your needs.
Yoga teaches us to focus upon the moments in-between experiences. Before getting out of your car, stepping into a building or space, or beginning a conversation take a moment to pause. Just as we pause before entering into the second side of a posture, we must do the same before transitioning from one activity or experience to another. Pause and give yourself a moment before entering into the next moment.
You may be on vacation and in a mindset of enjoying yourself, but that doesn't mean that everyone around you is experiencing the same state of mind. Your vacation is likely infiltrated with people ready to provide you with information, materials and opportunities. All of these people are working. Reflect upon how you would like to be treated while at work. Let those who are working know that you value what they do.
When you return to work, reflect upon how it felt to be away. Revisit those moments that made you smile or during which you felt content. Reflect upon moments in your day that are similar.
Dependent upon our primary focus we will see different things. When you are out on the beach you might not notice the napkins that just flew away from your picnic. While celebrating with your friends you may not take the time to search for that bottle cap that flipped out of your hand.
Carry a trash bag wherever you go. Once you arrive at your location observe the space around you before you set up and after you have packed up your belongings. Take the time to clean up the space. Look around you and enjoy how beautiful the space looks and your part in keeping it clean.
Read & Review
When participating in activities that require you to read information regarding how to prepare, where to meet and what to do prior to joining in it's important that you read all of the details. Before you book, when you receive your confirmation email, and before heading out on any adventure, take the time to read the details about what you are endeavoring to do.
Many experiences require that you complete a waiver form. Doing so ahead of time will save everyone time. The meeting location may not be completely obvious. Double check the directions to make sure you have reviewed every detail. Review the information about how to prepare or what to bring so you don't have to run back to the car or leave your belongings in an unsafe place. Arrive prepared and knowledgeable and the experience will be that much better for everyone.
If you're interested in learning more about mindfulness and the lifestyle of Yoga join the practices at LTY.
Learn more and book: https://www.laketahoeyoga.com/scheduleofclasses.html
Guest Article: Trevor McDonald - Website
Life is chaotic.
From the moment you wake up and open your eyes, you’re already being greeted with a steady stream of stimuli from seemingly everywhere.
And that’s even before you get out of bed!
It’s all too easy to want to block everything out, put your blinders on, and try to slog through your day-to-day routine.
It’s easy to become so focused on just getting through your day, that when it winds down to an end? You realize you haven’t even focused on one single thing.
You were just go-go-go, trying to survive another day.
That simply won’t do.
That lack of mindfulness can come back to haunt you. You may not even realize it, but being detached and distracted can be very harmful to you.
It’s so important to be in the moment, be focused, and be mindful.
Yet these days, more and more people are detached, distracted, and unaware.
It’s easy to get distracted by countless ads, blog posts about how to avoid body shaming, and everything in between.
The truth is, mindfulness – within your daily routine as well as in your Yoga practice – is an essential element to both your physical and mental wellness.
What Is Mindful Focus & Why Does It Matter?
It’s so easy to get caught up in the big picture that you overlook the smaller details in life.
When you feel like your attention is pulled in a thousand different directions, feeling overstimulated and overwhelmed can seem normal.
The thing is, though, that it’s not normal to feel like you’re constantly on an emotional or mental ledge. Over time, chronic stress can actually be extremely harmful to your health.
Mindfulness can help redirect your thoughts, allowing you a chance to relax and breathe.
Practicing mindful focus has been shown to have several important health benefits. People who practice mindfulness tend to be happier overall and have better health.
They're less likely to get sick too since mindfulness has been shown to help boost immunity.
Mindfulness is also a great way to help relieve anxiety and stress.
If you feel like you’re so overwhelmed with tension and stress that your mind doesn’t want to shut off at night, you may benefit from mindfulness. It has been shown to help those suffering from insomnia, too.
Finally, people who struggle with chronic pain have reported finding lasting relief from their aches through meditation.
As you can see, mindful focus isn’t just something that gets passed around by yogis; even researchers and medical professionals can agree that it’s got some pretty incredible health benefits!
Practicing Yoga to Become a Healthier You
If it feels like your mind is racing and you can’t seem to shut it off, you’re not alone. If you’re struggling to calm your mind, then you may find that practicing mindful focus through yoga can be incredibly helpful.
It’s important to remember that yoga isn’t something that’s reserved exclusively for the trained and enlightened. It’s a practice that’s inviting to people of all age groups, genders, and backgrounds.
Before you can understand the benefits of yoga, though, you first need to understand what the principles of yoga are.
Yoga focuses on a combination of special techniques. More commonly, they include learning specific poses, mindful focus, and breathing.
Together, these make up a portion of yoga.
By taking the time to practice and grow with yoga, you can start to notice a huge difference in your overall well-being.
Because Yoga poses are a type of gentle exercise, it can have incredible effects on your physical health. Yoga can help relieve chronic lower back pain, for example.
It can also help with numerous neurological disorders that can cause severe pain and discomfort. Researchers have found that it can help with multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, and fibromyalgia.
They can also help lower your blood pressure, allowing you to live a much healthier life.
Yoga has been shown to help address a huge spectrum of both physical and mental health issues, as well. It can help treat depression, reduce stress, help with addiction, and reduce insomnia.
Regular practice of yoga poses can also help boost your immune system, reducing your risk of catching an illness.
The bottom line?
Just the mere practice of yoga can greatly, significantly improve your quality of life.
Applying Mindful Focus to Your Daily Life
Applying the principles of yoga to your daily life doesn’t have to be something difficult or complex.
You don’t need to worry about trying to carve hours of your week to focus on, well, focusing.
In fact, even taking the time to practice a tiny bit of yoga can be quite beneficial to your health and welfare.
Even if you don’t have an hour to commit to yoga, you can still find a few small ways to sneak it in.
Finding even 10 or 20 minutes to practice mindfulness can still be a positive influence in your life.
Even better? You can do it right here, right now, in the clothes you’re wearing – no special equipment or yoga mats needed!
To dip your toes into a yoga practice, you need to start small. Take 10 minutes to focus on your breathing. See if you can relax your mind and try to meditate.
If you have a few more minutes, then the gentle hatha yoga postures can help you work out the stress and aches of your body and mind.
Begin with Hatha, after you have developed control and ease of the postures, then you might attempt the styles of yoga that have grown from Hatha such as vinyasa or Yin yoga.
Yoga is so inclusive and gentle that it can be beneficial to you, no matter your age or current ability level. There really is no excuse not to practice it.
That’s the wonderful thing about yoga. There really is something for everyone.
The more you practice yoga and mindfulness, the better you will start to feel.
If you’re looking to improve your focus, reduce your stress, enhance your outlook on life, and even shed a few unwanted pounds, yoga is for you.
What are you waiting for? Your inner peace awaits you.
You just have to be ready and willing to practice mindful focus.
Are you ready?
Now that Wanderlust is over, you've gotten home from the Yoga Journal Conference, you're back home after being away at Kripalu or a Costa Rican Retreat, you might be struggling with the shock of being back in the non-Yogic focused world.
Kripalu Center, Massachusettes
Yoga Is Everywhere
Remember that Yoga isn't meant to be practiced independent of the rest of your life. It is designed to be incorporated into everything you do. Sure, it is nice to be able to focus completely upon accessing that Asana that you have been struggling through. Spending hours of the day practicing Pranayama or Dharana is quite pleasant. These experiences of singular focus are intended to help us access the practice everywhere
Retreats and events provide opportunities to practice with teachers we may not have considered or have access to in our home town. No two teachers are alike in every way, but you can find a close approximation if you know what to look for. Once you're home again take some time to reflect upon your experience and journal about what you enjoyed. Try to identify a few key aspects of the practice and teacher that you felt most effected you. Then, explore the teachers and studios in your area to find someone that most fulfills your desires. Let go of your fear of hurting your instructor's feelings if they aren't serving your needs. It's important to find a teacher that encourages you to grow and change.
Barbie enjoys the guidance T-rex provides
Practice At Home
Hopefully you took good notes while you were exploring all that the retreat had to offer. If not, take some time to recall the aspects of the practices that you found most valuable. Write down what you remember. Ask your teacher for assistance in creating a sequence that includes the practices you most enjoyed as well as that which you think you need to continue to develop. Book a private session with a teacher who can help you to develop your individual practice outside of the studio.
Let Go of Expectations
All festivals and events hold a level of excitement that will never be replicated outside of that space. No Yoga studio can help you to recreate the thrill that you felt while you were on retreat. Let go of your desire to experience the same feelings you had while you were in the room with Rod Stryker or joining in Kirtan with hundres of others. Honor that which each experience created. Use it is help you in Svadhyaya (self study) so that you can begin to identify the feelings and excitement within yourself.
Maybe LTY is the studio for you. Check out our classes and private session options at https://www.laketahoeyoga.com/
Guest Post: ConsumersAdvocate.org
We all want to do our best to not only help preserve Lake Tahoe and the beauty that surrounds us, but to keep everything as eco-friendly as possible. It all starts with us.
If we think about our daily life, there are so many different ways that we can do our part to keep Lake Tahoe not only beautiful and clean today but for the future. Below are 5 ways you can help:
1. Use Less Water
By using less water each day, it has a tremendous impact on the environment. It’s really simple. Take shorter showers. When you are cooking, don’t let the kitchen sink water run unless you need it. And, of course, if you own a home, make sure the sprinklers are on a timer with the minimum amount necessary to maintain your yard.
2. Buy Eco-Friendly
Whether you choose a yoga mat or a new piece of clothing, there are so many eco-friendly choices today. Look for brands with sustainable ingredients for your clothes, your pet’s items and everything you purchase. Bring your own canvas bags to the market and everywhere else to help use less plastic all around. Switch your light bulbs to LED lights that last longer and save energy.
3. Keep Your Car Repaired
It sounds simple enough, but we all see oil drippings under cars either in our parking lots or driveways. When the oil leaks from your car, it will eventually end up in a storm drain that will then turn up in some form of watershed. By keeping your car fixed, you can help avoid this. You should also be careful when adding oil and make sure the old used oil is recycled properly.
4. Household Chemicals Need to Disposed Of Properly
If you have toxic household chemicals, such as motor oil, paint or any type of solvent, go to your local garbage hauler, environmental health agency or even schedule a pick up so they can be disposed of properly. If you don’t know where to go, google it and you will find different receptacles and services. Also, don’t flush down your medicine, used or unused, in the toilet. Try to dispose of them somewhere locally that is equipped for that.
5. Go sustainable
While we can do our part to help keep our rivers and lakes clean and free of litter, some of the problems really start with agriculture. Go to neighborhood farmers market and try to find organic farmers. By doing business with local farmers, it can help keep the pesticides out of the environment. It also helps with limiting the need for to truck the food longer distances which helps reduce pollution.
Also, many areas will now allow us to buy their electricity from sustainable sources. If you can switch to a green energy supplier, that’s even better.
If we can all do our part each day to help keep the environment clean and our homes eco-friendly, it will only help preserve the beauty and cleanliness of Lake Tahoe.
It smells like Summer! That unmistakable combination of heat, water, sunscreen and sweat is beginning to permeate the air. Are you thinking what I am? Let’s go to the beach! Before we do, though, let’s consider a few Yogic practices.
1) Bring only that which you can easily carry (Bramacarya)
A beach umbrella, a chair, some snacks and drinks should do it. Why are you hauling that Easy-Up? Why are you dragging that gigantic cooler? Why did you bring a full meal and where are you going to attach that kitchen sink? When you pack, think about what you really need and what you want to carry out with you. Simplify and spend more time enjoying the beach or your hike rather than overeating, drinking too much and exhausting yourself. Less is more. When you set up camp, consider how you do so. Is your umbrella blocking the view of the lake? Are you taking up more space than you really need? Can you leave more room for others to pass through and access the water? The more we consider each other while in a shared space, the better the space becomes.
2) Consider Your Impact (Ahimsa)
From parking your car to establishing your spot on the beach, everything you do impacts the lake. Ride a bike to the beach and it will not only help you to reduce what you carry in, it will also have a lesser impact on the environment. Bring your bike lock so you can park it safely off the beach and allow for more space on the sand for others. If driving is the only way to get there, bring your friends along for the ride. Pack into the car together rather than taking multiple vehicles. Reduce your impact on the roads, your stress level, and leave more room in the parking lot for others.
3) Tone It Down (Mantra)
There are some beautiful natural sounds in Tahoe. Every morning I wake to the songs of the black beaked chickadee, morning doves, chipmunks and other critters rising with the sun. It’s one of my favorite moments of the day. When I’m at home, in the woods or at the beach I enjoy listening to the sounds of the mountains and lake. Whether you’re in the house, hiking, riding or relaxing, keep the volume down on both your voice and music makers. Consider how the sounds you’re making or listening to are affecting the space around you. Lower the volume on your speaker so only you and your group can hear the music. Speak in a tone that keeps the conversation among your crowd. Close the doors and windows while you party in the evenings. Lower your tone and your vibration so that everyone can enjoy Tahoe in the way they like.
4) Remain Focused (Dharana)
The Tahoe Summer scene is a good one. It’s easy to become distracted while you walk, bike or drive around town. Remember, that you’re visiting a place where people live and work. It’s important to remain focused and follow the same travel rules that exist everywhere. If you want to check something out, pull over and stop to look instead of slowing traffic down. Be sure to check your mirrors for passing bicycles or scooters before you turn into that vista point. Check the map and directions before you head out so that you have a general idea of where you’re going. Move off to the side if you have to check the map or assess your situation while walking or riding. Don’t hesitate to ask for directions or information from a friendly Tahoe resident if you do get confused.
Enjoy Tahoe! It’s a magical place! While you’re here, treat it better than you would treat your own home. Show that you care and honor this place so that we can all continue to enjoy everything Tahoe offers.
Remove knots (Granthi) through Bandha and free yourself from the binds of the past.
Throughout your life you have gathered memories, experiences and impressions. Your body holds within it past injuries and discomforts. You may even be able to draw a direct correlation between the limitations in your body and an injury or experience from the past. Scars and bruises are visible expressions of past experiences. As we practice, we reveal that which we carry with us, but no longer need. Through the application of bandha we can both reveal and remove that which weights us.
Granthi = Knots
Have you ever had to comb out the knots that have collected in your hair or had to remove something that has gotten stuck in it? The practices of Hatha Yoga are intended to work similarly. At first, you may experience discomfort and they require much effort. As you continue to practice, the work becomes more subtle and the effects less noticeable. You slowly eliminate the obvious expressions of the past. Then, as you work more deeply, you begin to “smooth” the Granthi or knots that have grown.
The Subtle Body
The gross, or meat body, is visible and tangible. We can see the changes that happen as we practice. We feel the difference as our body becomes fit, mobile, and healthy. Less accessible is the subtle body. Made of emotion, thought and energy, the effects are evident only when we pay attention. The doorway to the subtle body is breath. As we move, we breathe. When we breathe consciously we stir up the residue that has settled over time. The dust of the past can then be released so that it no longer blocks the flow of Prana.
Directing the Wind
Can you remember a moment in your life when you felt uplifted? The moment gave you a feeling as though you could float right off the ground. As we practice directing Prana through bandha the intention is to reverse the downward flow of Apana and make it rise upward. In doing so, you might experience a feeling of upward rising or euphoria. The more subtle this practice becomes, the more knots we untie and the lighter we feel overall.
I recently took one of the worst practices I have ever attended. Had I been in the back of the room I may have walked out. I wasn’t. I was second row and far from the door. I had to make a decision and I chose to stay and do my own practice. I have never done that before. I have walked out of a poorly guided practice, just once. As a teacher I am comfortable allowing those who join my guided classes vary the postures, within reason, but if someone in one of my classes began doing completely different postures than the ones I was suggesting I would definitely be concerned.
Symmetry Is Important
Vinyasa translates to mean configuration, order, connection, composition. It is often translated as "a sequence of postures linked together to create flow." If you watch video of B.K.S. Iyengar you can see him both working slowly on the technique of the postures and then demonstrating that technique in Vinyasa.
Technique is the key to the grace and control of a postural flow. Each movement begins and ends in the same way. Everything done on the left, is then repeated on the right. The symmetry of the sequence and in technique creates the beauty of Vinyasa.
Learn How Your Body Moves
Have you tried belly dancing? Pole dancing? Ballet? Attempting any of these without first establishing the roots of the movements can result in serious injury. Yoga Asana should be seen in the same light. Don't jump into a Vinyasa practice. Learn how to move intelligently and then slowly increase the pace.
A rapid paced series of movements are useful when you already understand how to go though them slowly. Taking your time to feel each muscle engage and release, support and expand, gives you the awareness necessary to move more and more quickly in safe ways.
Find a Knowledgeable Guide
Thousands of people are now calling themselves Yoga instructors. Thousands of training programs exist. Thousands of Vinyasa classes are available. How are you to choose the "right" one?
Instead, begin with a more simple practice like Hatha. Even if you aren't new to the practice. These classes will help you to develop the roots you will need. The teacher should allow you the time to find and remain in the posture an experience all that happens while you are there. The sequence may repeat and build as you move through each new series. As you gain prowess in the postures, you can ask your teacher what class is most appropriate for you to attempt next.
Afterward, You Should Feel Good
After a quality Vinyasa practice you should not feel like you've had your ass kicked and a good workout. You should not be exhausted and beat up. Because you have prepared your body, mind and energy, the flow of movement and breath should give you a sense of inner awareness and depth of self. Your body should feel supple, your mind quiet. As you rest in savasana you may experience Nidra.
If you are ready to learn Asana techniques that will help you move toward Vinyasa join the practice at Lake Tahoe Yoga. Not sure where to begin? Contact us for suggestions.