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
#1 Yoga is Stretching
Yes, Yoga poses do include stretching. More accurately Yoga poses, or Asana, help you to learn how to lengthen and lift, extend and contract, engage and release muscles as groups and in isolation. The value of Yoga Asana lies in the expression of each posture, not how it looks. When done accurately and with proper technique Asana provide much more than stretching or strengthening, they help you to feel more comfortable in your body and develop the ability to use it safely in every activity.
#2 Yoga is for Women
Originally, Yoga was practiced only by men; holy men. They were held in higher regard than kings and queens. They were considered holy because they had dedicated their lives to understanding why we are here. When Yoga was discovered by the Western world powerful women (queens) began to learn the practice. It’s impact upon American happened by storm. The practices of mindfulness were absorbed by those who were invested in revolution, change of perception and free love – the hippies. The practice spread among men and women like wildfire. There are far more females who practice Yoga today, but if everyone were to practice Yoga it could help to change the world.
#3 Yoga is Expensive
How much do you pay for your daily cup of coffee? Your house to be cleaned? Your chiropractor to adjust your back? Your happy hour? Yoga costs no more. However, the value it brings is immense in comparison. That which you receive from a Yoga practice lasts far longer than any cup of coffee or happy hour cocktail. Consistent and dedicated practice will eliminate your need for caffeine and body treatments. It will enthuse you to keep your house clean on your own. Forget that cocktail, you’ll be able to relax without a sip of alcohol. Attending classes will provide you with the skills and knowledge to apply Yoga to your life and actually save money.
"That which you receive from a Yoga practice lasts far longer than any cup of coffee or happy hour cocktail."
#4 I Can’t Do Yoga
Everyone practices Yoga. It’s not until we are able to identify that which we do that we perceive what we are doing. Have you ever picked up trash? Held the door for someone? Taken a walk in the woods? Listened to your thoughts? Closed your eyes for a moment of peace? Stretched your arms overhead? Told someone the truth? All of these are practices of Yoga. Attending classes with dozens of people and trying to get into a split may not be the way in which you are meant to practice. There are 8 limbs in the Raja Yoga practice. Any of them could be your starting point.
#5 Yoga Doesn’t Align with My Faith
There is Yoga in every religion, but no religion in Yoga. It is like a good stock. Yoga is the bone broth or seafood stock you begin with. It has all of the basics already included: guidance for the treatment of yourself and others, body health, mindfulness and awareness. You get to choose what to flavors to add on. If you place your faith in a single God, worship the Earth, look to various deities for support, or do not believe in dogma, you can add it in. Any Yoga teacher or studio should provide teachings and guidance that allow you to add in your personal flavors to your own practice. If you disagree with the teachings, then try a different teacher or studio until you feel comfortable.
"There is Yoga in every religion,
Self-love is at the heart of our overall health. When we are blasted on a daily basis with messages that we aren’t good enough, whether from strangers or the media, it can create permanent damage. Self-love is tied to self-worth, confidence, happiness, achieving goals, and our overall health. Fortunately, there are ways to combat the dangerous self-hate that we cultivate on a daily basis. It starts with making a conscious decision to change. Speak kindly to yourself, love yourself, and support yourself like you would a dear friend. Ask yourself how you would respond if someone you love was facing the issues in front of you. You’d probably react very differently than how you treat yourself. Here are a few ways to build self-love into your daily routine:
1. Start a guided focus practice. If you’ve never practiced before, this can sound intimidating. However, daily mindful focus doesn’t require hours in lotus position. A practice can be three to five minutes. It’s a chance to breathe, accept thoughts as they come before dismissing them, and re-setting your day or night. Many people prefer to practice for a few minutes in the morning when it’s usually quieter and they can take some time for themselves. Choose a space and position that’s comfortable, but not so comfortable that you’ll fall asleep. There are tools you can use, from mala beads to listening to guided meditation. Speak with your Yoga teacher for specific techniques to develop this practice.
2. Actively change how you talk to yourself. When you’re frustrated, take a look at your inner voice. How are you speaking to yourself? Everyone has an inner voice, and many are quite active. However, these voices are uncensored and we can take frustrations out on ourselves. Change how you talk to yourself—it will take time and practice. There are additional tools to help with this.
3. See a mental health expert. Mental health is just as important as every other type of health, but it's often put on the back burner. However, keep in mind that seeing just one mental health expert rarely gives you the chance of finding the best fit. Not only are there millions of experts, but there is also a multitude of types of therapy. "Shop" around and see what resonates with you. This can be frustrating, especially if you're navigating the health insurance field to find this help, but tenacity is worth it. You wouldn’t go an entire lifetime without seeing a GP, would you?
4. Learn to say no. Women especially can find themselves saying yes to everything, including things that aren’t necessary. Practice saying no. It’s one of the greatest defenses a person has. It’s rare that the things we say yes to are a requirement. This doesn’t mean saying no to everything is the ticket to self-love, but it’s a start. You can probably tick off a number of requests and “standing orders” that you don’t like and shouldn’t have to stick with. As you “spring clean” your life, you’ll uncover hidden happiness.
5. Put your health first. Whether this means a moderate amount of weekly exercise or attending a church service if that’s part of your spiritual health practice, health is a priority. If you’re not healthy, you’re not at your best and every aspect of your life will suffer. However, the definition of health can be subjective. Everyone’s exercise regimen might be different, but should be guided by experts including physicians. Spiritual health varies greatly, but it’s part of everyone’s makeup. Maybe your spiritual health is a weekly walk in the woods. Understand what your health needs are and put them first.
One of the best things we can do for self-love is to get rid of the things in our life that are actively destroying it. For many people, it’s technology addiction. Everyone has vices. Knowing what they are and replacing them with healthy habits is one of the best things you can do for yourself. From food addiction to avoiding healthy habits (like seeing your dentist on a regular basis), we are constantly sabotaging ourselves. It’s not entirely our fault, because addiction and outside influences are fierce. However, what we do about it daily is within our control.
Guest Blog: Alyssa Ennis - Community Outreach - Purple.com
The simple act of training our minds is something that yoga practitioners discovered more than 2,000 years ago. Western medicine is only now beginning to catch up.
For insomnia treatment, medical researchers have found that "cognitive behavioral therapy" is a better approach than simply prescribing sleeping pills. Instead of adding chemicals to the body, cognitive behavioral therapy addresses the root causes of sleeplessness.
Mindfulness is a key component of cognitive behavioral therapy. Patients are taught to "challenge negative thoughts and replace them with more accurate, positive sleep thoughts," writes John Cline, Ph.D., in Psychology Today. Patients are also given techniques for "calming an active mind that won’t shut off," according to Stanford University Health Care. The insomnia treatment program of Virginia Runko, Ph.D., CBSM, of the Ross Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders, includes training in diaphragmatic breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and visualization. Sound familiar? It will if you do yoga.
A recent study randomly assigned two treatment paths to a group of older adults suffering from poor quality sleep. Half of the group received a sleep hygiene education program. They were educated about sleep biology, and told about behaviors to avoid before sleep, such as late-night eating and overconsumption of alcohol.
The other half of the group received training in mindfulness awareness practices. Exercises included different types of meditation, including sitting meditation, and "mindful movement."
After going through their selected training, participants reported their sleep patterns in a questionnaire. Folks who went through the mindfulness training showed significant improvement in sleep quality over the sleep hygiene education group. The mindfulness group also reported fewer insomnia symptoms, fewer depression symptoms, and less fatigue.
Another study showed that cognitive therapy is so powerful, even online training can make a positive difference. More than 8 in 10 people with chronic insomnia who participated in online cognitive behavioral training reported improvement in sleep. Participants rated the cognitive therapy session, where they learned about "coping with an overactive mind and worries," as the most useful part of the training.
Poor sleep quality is a major public health problem. More than half of people 55 and over report some form of sleep disorder. Sleep studies of college-age students show that more than 60 percent suffer from poor quality sleep. The phone and tablet screens that people are increasingly glued to emit damaging rays that suppress melatonin production and disrupt sleep cycles.
Unfortunately, poor sleep quality often goes undiagnosed. People may not even realize that they aren't sleeping well. Losing the regenerative power of sleep can lead to higher levels of anxiety and depression.
By practicing yoga, we help free our minds from thoughts that cause suffering. We expand our consciousness beyond the daily frustrations that can consume us. We're training our bodies and minds to relax—just as we need to do every day to get to sleep.
More than 40 million Americans practiced some form of yoga in 2011—up from just 4 million in 2001. That's a good development for our overall mental health. But we could be doing more. If your friends or neighbors mention sleeping problems, suggest that they consider practicing mindfulness through yoga. It's scientifically proven to work.
“The Holidays;” the time period that begins after Halloween and ends at the onset of the following year. It seems as though the promotion of these days begins earlier every year. As a result, you may be feeling any number of emotions and energies as you prepare for and are inundated with the events of the season.
Yoga can help. Here are 5 ways to apply the practices of Yoga to your life so that you may be a bit more calm, reasonable, and in control this holiday season.
Transalated to mean non-harming this practice of one of consideration of yourself and others. We all react to stress differently. We all perceive the holidays differently. We all experience the world differently. Practice non-harming this season by remembering the following:
-Participate in that which brings you and those closest to you happiness.
-Give yourself and others space and time to complete that which they are focused upon.
-Prepare yourself by taking a few moments to breathe before engaging.
-Eat, Drink and Enjoy slowly.
Self Study is the practice of learning from others and listening for our own vibrations. While spending time with friends and family practice listening. Ask about their lives, their experiences and their opinions. Allow them to express themselves. Listen for the gems of knowledge that are revealed as they share their stories.
If you become overwhelmed with the chatter, distractions, and noise of the day step aside to a more peaceful and quiet space. Reflect upon the goodness of the day. Take the time to enjoy all that you have been given and created for yourself. Hum or Aum in honor of the wonder of your life.
Move, groove and get active. Encourage others to join you. Yoga prescribes poses for specific application, but you don’t need to be in class to experience the benefits of conscious movement. Twist gently to massage your digestive system. Move through a seated version of cat and cow to move food through. Encourage children to get moving during a game of tag. Massage your grandmother’s shoulders. Take a walk outside. Activity before and after eating will help you to digest your food and feel energized.
Moderation may be one of the most challenging practices of the season. You may feel like you “have to” buy, eat, go, give, etc. Practice moderation by pausing to consider each choice you are about to make. Reflect upon the value of the item or experience. What is your intention behind each? Choose that which improves your life and that of others rather than that which looks or sounds good in the moment.
Surrender, dedication and devotion are the words used to translate this term. Be willing to surrender to the traditions of the holidays. Have fun, be silly, try something new and celebrate with time-honored traditions. Disregard the aspects of the season that spark negativity. Instead, focus upon the joyful moments so that you may experience Yoga all season long.
If you are interested in learning more about the philosophies and practices of Yoga as well as how to transition into a Yogic Lifestyle contact us at LakeTahoeYoga@gmail.com or call the studio at (775)580-7224.
One Thing at a Time
You may think that you are getting a lot done if you are doing many things at once. However, studies have proven that you actually complete less in the short-term when you multitask. Yoga provides us with the tools to expand our focus over time by offering guidance in the form of one practice at a time. To begin we address that which is most accessible; the body.
Discipline in Practice
Discipline is learned. Embedded within the eight limbs of Yoga are practices that are ineffective unless done with discipline. As we practice, consistently, we develop focus, control, awareness, discernment and more.
Consider the practice of Satya: non-lying or truthfulness. You may think, “I am not a liar.” According to Yoga; Satya is as much about what you say as what you do not say. It is a practice of consideration of your thoughts and words before they leave you; a practice of considering if what you are about to say will help or hurt yourself and others. Often, we will not realize we are lying until the words have left our mouths. Yoga teaches us to become observers of our behavior at all times. This discipline of observation helps us to become aware of habits that are rooted in self preservation. As we continue to practice, we refine our vision and begin to see more clearly.
The Resulting Heat
Have you ever made custard from scratch? In order to do so you must heat is slowly, over a period of time, while stirring constantly. The effect of the slow heat, time and consistent movement can result in a perfectly prepared custard. A lack of discipline and focus could lead to higher heat, shorter time and reduced movement resulting in an unconcealed liquid or a thick, gelatinous mess.
Tapas has many translations: heat, cook, purify, detoxify, zeal of practice, discipline, austerity. Tapas is both the means and the end. Through discipline in movement, breath, mindful focus, time, awareness, observation, effort, restoration, etc. we create heat, purification, detoxification, clarity, transparency, awareness of the Self. Our practice of creating Tapas results in Tapas. Our discipline results in discipline. Our focus begets focus.
The heat/intensity/discipline/passion of our practice cooks impurities out of us and refines us to our base - the Self.
More Than Poses
If you are ready to remove that which you do not need, lighten the load you carry daily, purify and clear away the impurities that poison you so that you spend each day feeling healthier, happier, more joy and ease in your life then you are ready to begin the practice of Yoga.
Chose wisely, for not every practice is guided equally. According to Hatha Yoga a Vinyasa (Flow) Practice is for the advanced practitioner. Would you begin running and start with 10 miles? Would you join a gym and on your first day and lift 100lbs? Approach Yoga in the same way. Begin with a practice that aligns with your current knowledge, strength, flexibility and ability levels. Begin here to develop the discipline and, as you create Tapas, you will know how to progress.
If you just chose this blog because of the title, take a moment to reflect upon that which you were hoping to get from reading it. Begin with these two words: “Yoga” and “Brand.” These two words inherently do not fit together. A brand is something that had been manufactured. Yoga is a practice that was discovered thousands of years ago. A brand is owned, distributed and sold. Yoga is none of these. It is everywhere, to be lived by anyone, for free. Yoga is not a product.
[The first space in which Raja Hatha Yoga was practiced in Lake Tahoe.]
Location, Location, Location
A brand is all about looking good. The right location, models, lighting, attitude, motto, all matters. You have to consider the demographic and customer you are trying to reach. You have to sell.
This is not Yoga. No matter how hard I try to sell you on trying for the first time, second, going somewhere new, attempting a different approach, or convincing you that it will change your life, you have to be ready to become a Yoga practitioner.
No matter how pretty or new or shiny the studio space. No matter how sexy, strong or flexible those joining the class may be, you have to be ready to change yourself. Yoga is not about location. It is about mindset.
No matter how good you are at posing you will still need practice in order to discover Yoga. Sure, you may look good in your Lululemon pants and your Athleta top while you are handstand floating to the front of your mat. Regardless of your ability to access Virabhadrasana Eka or Ashtavrakasana we all have to keep practicing to work within.
Yoga is not a show. It is a practice of mindful movement, breath, and ultimately letting go of expectations. When you practice it may be with a large group, small group or individually. The space in which you practice, style that you choose and those with whom you join in are not what matter. It is your attitude that makes the difference.
Are you here to be seen or to See?
Who are You Following?
A brand sells because you desire to be like that which you see. Fit, strong, relaxed, affluent, happy, whatever it is you desire, the company selling is doing everything they can to convince you that their product will change you. We all know that it won't. No piece of clothing, yoga mat, block, strap, or new tool is going to make you a better person. Only you can do that.
Before beginning, trying again, or returning to the practice consider what you are seeking in a teacher. Seek out a guide who is knowledgeable beyond Asana and who understands and practices the philosophies of Yoga. Find someone who is authentically themselves all of the time. Your teacher should be real, dedicated, truthful, vibrant and fearless to be themselves no matter what. For this will encourage you to do the same.
If you are considering beginning, trying again, or returning to the practice and would like advice, guidance or assistance please reach out to Jenay. Whether choosing Lake Tahoe Yoga or another location in which to practice she is happy to provide support to anyone interested in practicing Yoga.