October 27, 2011

Practicing Yoga With Lessons From Birds

Posted in Uncategorized at 1:24 pm by DivineShantiYoga

During this time of year like as in the springtime, I am always delighted to hear and see new bird varieties flying through this area. Usually I hear the screeching of a Blue Jay before I spot it, as this is a familiar sound from growing up in upstate New York where they are abundant. My backyard becomes a display of beautiful color, not only from the changing hues of the fall leaves, but also from the addition of these radiant blue birds, mixed in with the usual vibrant red cardinals and bright yellow finches. Add in the fluttering wings of monarch butterflies hovering around my purple butterfly bush, and suddenly my surroundings are filled with the essence of a rainbow.

In Yoga, bird-inspired names are among the many names of asanas (postures). If you’ve ever wondered where the names of these poses came from, like pigeon, swan, eagle, peacock, crane, etc…, you are not alone. While many of Yogic postures mimic the nature of an animal, or tool in regards to its appearance or nature of being, the bird named postures actually hold a special meaning in ancient Hindu mythology. Birds are considered messengers of the Gods. Since Hindu Gods and Goddesses do not have wings, like Christian angels do; they ride on top of the flying creatures.

So, the next time you find yourself in any of these bird-inspired Yoga asanas, allow yourself to feel the power and importance of mimicking the great messengers of God. And as you observe the variety of birds in your locale, imagine all of the great purposes that they have in this lifetime as well.

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October 24, 2011

Manipura Chakra (Lustrous Jewel)

Posted in Uncategorized at 3:58 pm by DivineShantiYoga

This week’s focus in class is on our solar plexus, or Manipura energy center within the body. This is located behind the navel, and is the element of fire. Like the vibrant yellow energy from the sun, the Manipura chakra shines light on all that is, just the way it is, without the need for control. This energy center controls our sense of self, and our self-esteem.

An imbalance here could manifest physically, as digestive issues with the small intestine, gallbladder, liver or pancreas. Many times eating disorders or obesity are results of an imbalance with this energy. When the mind becomes fearful and anxious, this is many times because our solar plexus energy is weakened, making relaxation and the ability to “go with the flow” more challenging.

To awaken and balance the Manipura chakra this week, we are working with this inner fire through core awareness, twisting, strengthening the abdominal muscles, and so much more.

 

October 17, 2011

Svadhisthana Chakra (Sacral Flow)

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:44 pm by DivineShantiYoga

As we continue with this season’ s Chakra energy balancing; this weeks area of focus is with the Svadhisthana Chakra, or the energy center located between the navel and the public bone. This is our fluid, flowing reservoir of prana within the body and controls our sense of sensuality and creativity. We will stimulate this energy within us by opening the hips, and inviting slow flowing movement throughout the body.

When this sweet chakra is imbalanced, you may not have a sense of enjoyment in life, or you lack appreciation for life by not recognizing it’s beauty. You may also be putting too much importance on discipline and self-control, or the opposite; and feel that your physical drives are controlling you. An imbalance can also reflect poor sexual health both emotionally or physically, fertility issues, menstrual discomfort, and problems with bladder, kidneys, or prostate.

Our intention in classes this week is to invite greater awareness to this energy center within the body, and encourage balance between enjoying life with all of our senses, opening to creativity, and acceptance of personal sensuality.

October 14, 2011

Yoga, Money and Religion

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:16 pm by DivineShantiYoga

I recently read a disheartening article about Yoga as a means of a career path, and how financially successful Yoga teachers can potentially become, insinuating that it is a good “field” to get involved with for this purpose, since we as Americans are becoming more health-conscious and many are using Yoga as a tool for improving health.

This struck a cord within me, realizing that I am responsible to representing the tradition and teachings of Yoga, and this entire concept actually contradicts what Yoga is. By definition, Yoga is a spiritual practice. It is a means, a philosophy, a practice of dropping the ego; peeling off the outer layers of our consciousness, to reveal one’s true nature deep within their spirit. Yoga literally translates into “union”, or to “yoke”. It is practice and philosophy toward a realization…no deeper…an awareness, of the inherent interconnectedness of your highest Self as divinity, and an awareness that we are ALL that, individually and collectively.

The physical aspect of Yoga, is only 1 of 8 limbs of Raja Yoga. Yoga is NOT mere asana (postures) with the body. We  may use the body as a tool for breaking down physical and mental barriers, for opening to what essence is already there residing deep inside the self. Oneness. Divinity. Asana is NOT what Yoga is, but only a mere portion.

Yoga as a religion? Nope. What would that religion be…Union? (With my Ultimate Self) Yoga can be practiced by absolutely anyone, regardless of religious beliefs. Even the Hindu-American Society encourages us to share Yoga’s teachings, honor that Yoga came from Hindu roots…but use Yoga and share Yoga in a way that could possibly enhance any religion, in a way that could bring your closer to faith in whatever God/Higher Power you realize. Religion does not reside within Yoga, but Yoga could reside within ANY religion.

Whether you are practicing Yoga as a means to enhance your religious beliefs or not, or  if you are agnostic; Yoga is still a spiritual practice toward ultimate oneness and personal faith. It is a practice of cultivating trust in the Universe, and trust in one’s Self. Unity. So, it is our responsibility as Yoga teachers to fully comprehend this, not only on a mental level (through education), but also on a spiritual level (in our deepest heart space). And it is through this, that we can know that we share in the great honor of passing these ancient teachings of Self-realization with their original intent.

As well-stated by Dr. David Frawley, an internationally recognized scholar and teacher, is quoted in the Sept./Oct. 2000 issue of Yoga Journal:

Yoga in the West “has only scratched the surface of the greater Yoga tradition.” He says “The Yoga community in the West is currently at a crossroads. Its recent commercial success can be used to build the foundation for a more profound teaching, aimed at changing the consciousness of humanity. Or it can reduce Yoga to a mere business that has lost connection with its spiritual heart. The choice that Yoga teachers make today will determine this future.”

Sure, as teachers we provide a service of teaching (not mere body instruction). We invest time, effort, money, energy into education and in sharing these teachings. For this, we have fees, and are financially compensated. To become a teacher, is not to say that we should all accept living in poverty. But to use Yoga as a means of gaining financial freedom or success  is in all ways a complete contradiction of what Yoga is.

An important Yogic teaching, as revealed clearly in the Bhagavad Gita, is during this path of coming to one’s Self; we release all attachment to having any particular outcome from our efforts. Teaching Yoga brings many gifts of insight to one’s self and to others, which is the reward. Having an attachment to any financial outcome by teaching is the same as setting the “successful business” of Yoga as an attainable goal. If this is your mindset of how Yoga is viewed, you may also fall into the belief system that practicing Yoga means practicing asana. If you are teaching mere asana, then it should be called “asana class” or “fitness class” instead of “Yoga.”

 


 

 

 

October 10, 2011

Muladhara Chakra (Root Support)

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:16 pm by DivineShantiYoga

Back by popular request, we are beginning a new chakra series in classes this week! Over the next seven weeks, which will take us to the week of Thanksgiving ~ we will focus on opening and balancing our main energy centers within the body. Our subtle energy constantly flows throughout the body, and we often experience blockages, or weaknesses in some of these areas, and this can cause neighboring energy centers (chakras) to become over-active. When all of our subtle energy is balanced, and flowing freely, we experience greater harmony with not only all of our bodies functions, but also with our emotions and relationships.

This weeks focus is on the Muladhara Chakra. This energy center is located at the base of our spine. It is here, where we develop and maintain our sense of belonging in this world, our rooted sense of survival, and have consciousness of the ego. It’s element is Earth, and we will be experiencing strong balancing postures, as well as a deeply rooted seated practice.

When we have a weakened root chakra; we may feel sluggish in our energy level, we may not have an interest or drive to begin projects, and psychologically; we may feel disconnected, or unhappy with our physical body. This can become more balanced by connecting with nature, with the earth, and by practicing Yoga with this intention. Commit to your Yoga practice for the next 7 weeks, for the benefit of your body’s subtle energy! Each Monday, the chakra of focus will be posted.

October 5, 2011

Happy Birthday Gotta Yoga Studio!

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:45 am by DivineShantiYoga

It’s been three years already! Little did I realize that when I made the decision to free myself of the corporate world and teach Yoga full time, that a new studio in my community would welcome me home with such open, loving arms! Gratitude is the first word that comes to mind when I think of my Gotta Yoga family.

I’ve been with Gotta Yoga since their doors first opened, and while some things have changed, most are still the same. What I think is now MORE seasoned, is that the studio walls have been infused with huge amounts of LOVE over the years, and it radiates back to each and every person who walks in the door with such magnitude and power! How did this happen? YOU. You bring your Yoga, your love, your compassion, your release, your strength and your clarity into this space, making it your home away from home.  Yep, I’m talking about you. All of the beautiful collection of spirits and bodies coming together and sharing their Yoga, has made Gotta Yoga what it is today.

I am honored to be a member of our Gotta Yoga family, and grateful that you are all in it too! So, keep bringing YOU, and I’ll keep bringing me…and we’ll keep on filling these walls, and keep on feeling at home.

Do you know of someone who has been curious about Yoga? Know of someone who could really use some stress-relief tools? Know of someone who has never been to Gotta Yoga Studio? BRING THEM THIS WEEKEND TO OUR BIRTHDAY PARTY FOR FREE! Give them the gift of love, healing, self-discovery…Yoga.

There will be back-to-back classes from 9:00am-1:00pm for FREE! Huge discounts on class passes, boutique, and an “I Love Yoga” trunk show! Not to mention, SO MUCH LOVE floating around this place.

There’s a “Basics” class for beginners and anyone who wants to refresh, starting at 9:00am. I’ll be teaching Vinyasa Chill at 10:00, and we are really chilling out…feeling long meditations, staying close to the earth, slow gentle movements and open stretches. This is the perfect practice for your body this season. And since each class is 50 minutes long, you’ll love to stay for the next class too…and the one after that because it feels so good! For complete list of classes, visit Gotta Yoga.

October 3, 2011

Healthy Granola Bars

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:14 am by DivineShantiYoga

Oh my goodness, I just made some of these, and must share. They taste fabulous! And filled with fiber, omega 3’s, anti-oxidants, and no artificial additives, preservatives, or any other bad things. Make a batch, heck – double it, cut into squares, wrap each square individually and store in the freezer. Ready to go whenever you need one. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

1 cup rolled oats

1 cup dry muesli (I used blueberry muesli from Trader Joes)

1/2 cup whole-wheat flour

1/4 cup almond flour

1/2 cup raw, unsalted sunflower seeds

1/4 cup raw, unsalted sesame or flax seeds

1/4 cup raw, unsalted almonds, chopped

1/3 cup sultana raisins

1/3 cup dried cranberries

2 egg whites, lightly beaten

3 Tbsp. dark agave nectar

3 Tbsp. organic honey

3 Tbsp. safflower oil (I used coconut oil, and worked well also)

Pinch of nutmeg

1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

Directions:

Preheat Oven to 350′. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper, and set aside. Combine all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. In a smaller bowl, mix cinnamon, nutmeg, honey, agave nectar, oil and egg. Add wet to dry ingredients and mix until just blended. Mixture should be lumpy. Press mixture into prepared pan and bake for 25 minutes. The edges will be lightly brown. When cool, cut into bars.