Taozi Tree Yoga

The seeds we water are the seeds that grow.


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Start talking to yourself… NICELY.

self-love-woman

Action Step: Talk to yourself, very very nicely, ridiculously so…

talk-to-yourself

For today, try being that crazy person that talks to themselves.  You should say things like, “Gee wiz! I look lovely today!” and “Wow, I am just so happy and nice!” “I feel so healthy and joyous and free!”Be dramatic… Fake it. I know that no one is going to say these things to them selves and instantly feel it, but give it a try. I guarantee there will be a micro-shift somewhere in your being by a few simple nice words to yourself.

Peter Clifford, my amazing guru that I had the opportunity to study with in Bali at Santosha’s Yoga Teacher Training, would consistently say that we must speak to our bodies positively and tell them what we want. He claimed that this energy will change our cells at an intrinsic level. This is something I think about all the time. Our negative thoughts? The body hears them and responds in kind. Our positive thoughts have more power and our bodies follow suit. If we say we are happy, the body begins to believe it and make changes to correspond with the thought.

WHY!?  Ahimsa, non-violence. Time to stop trash talking yourself and treat yourself like the goddess, god that your are (no you are not a god but a part of you is!) Ahimsa is the first Yama of Patanjalis 8 limb path found in the yoga sutras.

 Patanjali wrote the Yoga Sutras nearly 2000 years ago. He isn’t the author as such but he compiled the ancient traditions of his fellow brothers into a format that everyone could use. It is from these sutras that modern day yogic philosophy has branched. To get right to the point, the 8 fold path, or Ashtanga yoga, it is the means by which a person takes steps to reach Nirvana, or Samadhi. * Note that this Ashtanga is different then the Vinyassa Flow Ashtanga started by Patabi Jois within the last 60 years.

The first step towards mastering the mind is to master the Yamas. The Yamas are all about mastering ones social conduct. Many believe this to be first limb because as Socrates so vigilantly believed, we are all social beings and as such we must behave according to human law in order to live harmoniously.  Thus the yamas are a guide to what principles should be obeyed in public in order to begin the journey toward liberation from the mind.

Socrates.

Socrates.

The Yamas are broken down into 5 parts.

Ahimsa, Satya, Asteya, Brahmacharia, Aparigraha. More to come on them later.

Ahimsa, non-violence is a key guiding principle in Jainism, Buddhism, and Hinduism. This is where the vegetarianism in these religions comes from. Don’t hurt other living beings. Period. I have also been taught that it means, don’t hurt yourself, as you are ALSO a living being.

I believe that people most often hurt themselves by the negative talk. It has become such a sneaky soft voice that perhaps you don’t notice it, but if it’s there… it’s time to try something different. We will gently push the negative voice out by speaking to ourselves in a positive way. Drama. Like I said, I know this isn’t easy. So first, we will make a list of the things we like about ourselves, or that we know others like in us.

 I am a beautiful young woman.

I am soft spoken and wonderful.

I am aging so gracefully and beautifully.

I am a fantastic cook.

I love my family deeply.

I have amazing daughters who love me very much.

I have a job where I can help people everyday.

I strive to learn more.

I am going deeper spiritually.

I look fabulous in these jeans.

I am a careful and alert driver.

I am a creative and artistic soul.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Get a pen and paper and make the list. Make the list as long as you can. The statements should be positive affirmations about who you are or who you want to be. This list is your first attempt at being nice to yourself. Throughout the day… simply continue to speak kindly to yourself. Give yourself a hug occasionally. Again, in the end of all this life business, it’s all about you learning to love yourself. If anything I have learned so far is that often, we have to pretend we are who we want to be before we actually become that person. It’s ok. The age old saying goes, “Fake it till you make it.” So fake it up, have fun with it. Be cheesy and if you have the heart, attempt to be genuine and authentic. You gorgeous, happy, sweet, loving, creative, magical, being you.

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2013! A SEXIER, happier, new and improved you! An introduction…

…maybe sexier I just put that to get your attention. 😉

January 1, 2013:  LET THE JOURNEY BEGIN! (or keep going)

Home is where my feet are.... on my mat.

Home is where my feet are…. on my mat. In Li Jiang, China.

For the last 18 months I have not worked, (except for teaching yoga in Puerto Vallarta for 3 months in the beginning of the year…) I have travelled the world and studied yoga.

An abbreviated journey itinerary found here: China (Beijing, and then our pedal bike/train journey  ALL over the gigantic country, too many places to list… ,Sydney Australia, Bali Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, US (Colorado, Wisconsin, California), Mexico (Mexico City, Puerto Vallarta), England (London for the Olympics and Hayling Island Ross’s home), Paris France, Italy (Rome, Tuscany, Campotosto), Germany (Dusseldorf, Dortmund), back to China, India (Varkala Kerala, Agra, Rishikesh) and back home to Colorado for Christmas 2012…PHEW! I’m so happy to be home! (for the time being).

Mexico City.

Mexico City.

Now I’d like to start using what I have learned here on my new and improved yoga blog! Welcome!  My objective for the next year is to help myself (yes myself) as well as you with our daily practice by reviewing/reiterating/elaborating on some lessons I have learned during my own yoga journey. I’d really like to share my process with you, perhaps helping you on your own journey to a NEW and IMPROVED (maybe sexier) YOU! I hope to discover things we can DO (or try not to do)  each day to make a difference in our own lives or the lives of others around us, using yogic principles as the backdrop.

Love.

Make a difference! Love. In Bali…

In the modern world, where everything is BOLD, noisy, flashy, FAST, and commoditized, people naturally have a hard time finding silence, or the ability to hear their internal guide.  The typical 60 minuets of asana (yoga postures) is a great tool to get the mind to shut up for a while. After all,

Citta Vritti Nirodha: yoga is cessation of the mind.

It is a beautiful thing. However, there is so much more than asana! My understanding is that most yogis (not all) are caught up in their physical practice of yoga, often neglecting the other 7 branches of Patanjali’s yoga sutras as well as many of the other points of wisdom from the east. We are too busy! We don’t have time for more… We all want the quick fix to remedy the madness that is our mind. As yogis, we know there is more to yoga then the hour or so we spend on the mat a few times a week, but perhaps we don’t have the time, energy, or willingness to add the extra zest to our practice. We instead decide to stick with what we know, the physical. The “exercise”. Sure we may enjoy the occasional Om, or depending on where we practice, there may be some mantra chanting, some pranayama, or a small meditation. We might use reusable cloth bags and drive eco-friendly Subaru’s… but what is all this really about? Is it ENOUGH? Are we all as modern yogis developing as deeply as our potential and possibility allow? My opinion is a harrowing “NO”. We are heading in the right direction though!

We all like the asana!

Asana on Varkala beach. India.

So, what exactly are the options?  How do we self assert ourselves into a deeper understanding of yoga? Who has the time to study the sutras and extract what is applicable in the modern-day life of a yogi? I know who has the time. I do! I propose that for the next year I post (as often as possible) small things that we can DO everyday to hopefully push us gently further into the right direction… I’ll ask the help of my fellow yoga students to help me. (Please?)

Why? So I can DO something with what I have learned. So it doesn’t stagnate inside me as Ross and I head into ANOTHER year of traveling, and of the unknown…

Warrior in the Coliseum.

Warrior in the Coliseum.

All over China we went...

All over China we went…

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I have played and studied yoga. I have read and practiced more diligently then any other time in my life… and through my missteps and successes I have begun to accumulate quiet a repertoire of experience. Its January 1st. It’s time for us all to excel. It is time to push the envelope a little more. I’d like to make the journey to go deeper EASY for you (and for myself). Change doesn’t happen in one day, it happens with many days linked together…

Patanjali's yoga sutras lecture in Rishikesh...

Patanjali’s yoga sutras lecture in Rishikesh…

My desire is to create a space to highlight (and review) things I’ve learned. I will move from Patanjalis eight limbs and look at how to USE them in our daily life. I’d like to include the gems or pearls I have heard from my many yoga teachers around the world.  I would like to include some Ayurvedic and Chinese principles around life style and diet choices. I will also include some thoughts and recommendations from some of my favorite and most used texts and other peoples blogs I really like. I’d like to ask you to please help me! Add to what is posted and elaborate! Disagree! Whatever you like…

I’m excited to review and share some of what has been so generously given to me.  Because I whole-heartedly believe that progressing into the practice isn’t only about asana. It can’t be found in downward dog, the wheel or head stand. These are as small a part of yoga as a drop of water is the ocean.

Santosha: Bali Class of September 2012

Santosha: Bali Class of September 2011

300 hr YTT  Rishikesh Yog Peeth December 2012

300 hr YTT Rishikesh Yog Peeth December 2012

Speaking of drops of water… the first official post in this series will come next… its about… water….

FIRST LESSON: DRINK WARM WATER! (says every yoga teacher I have ever had, EVER) Not COLD WATER! You know who you are… (pretty much EVERY ONE IN MY FAMILY!) 😉

Why!? More on this lesson to come soon!


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Bali. Yoga. Santosha.

Beautiful Bali.

Miracle Grow for the soul…1 year anniversary.

In the beginning of his book, “The Four Desires”, Rod Stryker discusses something very special… seeds. He talks about the miracle of the sunflower seed. How it is planted and how it intuitively knows that is it growing to be a sunflower, it grows roots to retrieve the water, and it bends toward the light. A lesson we perhaps learned in freshman biology, but mystical non the less. How does this tiny seed know what to do? Rod believes that people are also born with the same intuition, to grow into something specific, their very own flower if you will. The problem is we don’t know how to follow our hearts, our “true” paths… My practice with yoga has been about trying to tune into my inner self, to grow into the flower I am supposed to be.

I quit my job in Beijing in June of 2011. June. That’s 15 months (so far) of funemployment. At that time I had little idea of what I would DO with my life or where I would go, with who, etc. As I struggled with the big idea of WHAT TO DO, a teacher of mine told me the simple solution was…. to talk to trees. Simple really. She told me that I didn’t have to DO anything but to show up for my life with open eyes and to seriously, talk to trees.  Since that time it has literally been a whirlwind of adventure. I luckily tuned into a faint signal in my gut and signed up for a yoga teacher training in Bali. This small step was the major catalyst for a HUGE turning point in my life.

Beautiful girls…

A year ago today September 15th, 2012, (Can you believe it? A YEAR!?) we were just finishing up our yoga teacher training in Bali, Indonesia. This experience  pushed us gently further down the yogic path, it inspired us to do more, but most importantly, I think… it taught us to be ourselves and follow our hearts. To grow into the person we were meant to be.

The training began with the introductions, everyone meekly introducing their partner; Elise and I were together ;). Next we sat and listened to Sunny (our gorgeous Australian, surfer chick instructor) talk to us about seeds. Perhaps a cheesy metaphorical exercise, but invaluable to me. Since that time I have taken the growing seed metaphor pretty seriously, I mean, we ARE seeds, constantly growing in the direction we choose to follow. Sunny asked us to envision our own seed. The seed of what we wanted…in our hearts, our lives, perhaps our spirits? She asked us to picture its colors, its texture, perhaps even its content. Then we silently walked down to the beach as the sun set and planted our imaginary seeds in the sand. For me, in many ways, this was the beginning for me. Little did I know at the time how much the planting of this seed would impact me during the month-long training, and far beyond.

Sunset in Bali.

During the next month we got up early every day, catching many sun rises on the beach, in order to make each day as full as possible. We ate the most yummy Ayurvedic food thanks to the wonderful staff at Villa Serenity. Together we sat and listened to Peter teach us about hip circles, monkey mind, and BREATH. He taught us to think happy thoughts before bedtime and to make our cells happy at an intrinsic level… we are what we think… We took private lessons with him as he critiqued our posture and the way we walked. He taught me to walk like a princess and he told me he wished I saw myself as others did.

Studying hard.

It was the night after my private lesson with Peter that our dear friend and sister Katie died. I know that this period was perhaps the most transformative of my life to date. Losing her so suddenly while in the midst of spiritual giants offered me a huge opportunity to begin grappling with Abhinivesa one of the five afflictions as sated in the eight-limb path of yoga. Abhinivesa is the fear of death, or the non-acceptance of the notion that our bodies are but a temple, home to our spirit. With the passing of Katie, I was devastated. Peter talked to me about his personal experiences with death as the Santosha family comforted me. I spent a day or so in total tears and once I’d totally exhausted myself I headed back upstairs to lectures. To my surprise it was massage time and my friends at Santosha let me rest while I was a practice dummy for the massages. I was a five-pointed star with someone on each hand and foot loving on me. I felt so loved and nurtured at a time my heart was broken.

Love.

After this time I believe I started to see people’s heart light shine brighter. Mark led us through a beautiful ceremony for Katie on the beach and I began the process of letting her go. This lesson was perhaps the most advanced during my time practicing yoga so far. Hammering in the idea that we take care of our bodies with asana because they are the temples for our spirits, but they don’t last forever. At the same time I was building life long relationships with the other students there. I had the honor of becoming truly close with some BEAUTIFUL spirits. Another lesson here? When things in our lives leave us, others will come…

BFF. 😉

Needless to say this lesson combined with many others went way beyond what I had anticipated. The time we spent together at Villa Serenity under the love and guidance from all of our teachers was a true blessing. From the very start to the final day when during my yoga teaching “test”, I told my students to “breath through your clavicles”… inducing a fit of laughter…it was lighthearted, eye-opening, and simply… a life changing experience.

Oh my…

In the past year some of us have opened up yoga studios in all over the world…Canada, Australia, Hawaii, Japan. We have quit our jobs (some of us) and taken giant leaps of faith. We have all taken something away from Santosha at Villa Serenity that will stay with us forever. My own path has continued to surprise me. After spending 3 months in Mexico teaching yoga, we have continued to travel and to practice. On September 28th I head to India with my partner Ross, to study yoga for 10 weeks.

In retrospect, looking back at the time in Bali with the Santosha family, I can’t help but smile at the miracle the experience was. Before going to Bali, I didn’t know what to DO with my life and then found myself in the perfect place to start figuring it out. In all honesty, I have no idea WHAT seed I actually planted there. All it was, was an intention. An intention to follow the signs. To be light-hearted. To learn. The intention in the sand, was simply the intention to grow… This was all I needed at the time and it still suffices today. I think this is what WE ALL need. Intention.

To keep the metaphor going, I know that with the proper nutrition and guidance…my seed will continue to grow through another changing of seasons. As I head to India to study, I don’t have any idea about what to expect. Except for that it guarantees to be another  launch deeper into my practice. Most certainly more miracle grow for my soul. This kind of scares me. Based on my experiences thus far, “growing” isn’t always easy. I would love to hear what my Santosha sisters and brothers are up to… How are your seeds doing!? Please share what has gone on with you the last year and what comes next? LOVE LOVE LOVE to you all and THANK YOU to our teachers…

Santosha: Bali Class of September 2012