Letting Go

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As  I watch the sweat drip off of me and onto my mat during Friday night hot power class, I tune in to the chatter in my brain: “It’s too damn hot in here. This is hard. Why in the hell are you doing this?” It’s June, so the tapas (heat) is burning within my body and inside the studio at Warrior One. Then Carol, my teacher, drops this nugget: “I’ve learned that the shortcut in life is to actually move through the pain and not around it. Why are you here tonight?”  And I am reminded that I am here to let go of that which no longer serves my soul. 

A year ago, I came to Warrior One out of desperation. I was in a dark time in my life, unaware of how to let go and see the light again. Fear, anger and resentment were overwhelming me. It felt as if I were merely surviving, not living. I had practiced yoga at home for several years as a tool to help me with running. But I was too scared to practice at a studio. I thought that I was too fat, not athletic enough and certainly did not have good balance. My friend encouraged me to practice at her studio, and I finally did because I had no idea what else would make me feel better. Red wine and junk food can only numb you so much. I began with cool flow classes, yin and eventually hot power. I liked how much tension I released, both physically and mentally, each time I got on my mat. The studio does not have mirrors on the walls, which immediately made me feel safe. I literally didn’t even want to look at myself.

Yoga is a powerful tool for letting go. I’m not saying that this is an easy process. But I’ve found a community at this studio, in classes and through the teacher training program, that has taught me that I can choose how I live my life...that I don't have to merely survive.  In Journey into Power, Baron Baptiste writes, “What will it take for us to really get it that life is about letting go?  Let go and then you grow in so many wonderful ways that you’re brain doesn’t even know about yet. That’s the beauty. That there is a supportive force in the universe there to protect you if you stop trying to control it and just let it in.” 

What are you waiting for? 

Make Yoga a Daily Ritual

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Take a moment to think about your day-to-day experience. Does any part of your day include ritual? Ritual is basically an act or series of acts repeated to achieve a desired purpose. Many don’t realize how much of our day does involve ritual; in fact, most rituals become ingrained in our daily routine by accident. For example, ask yourself some questions about your morning routine: do you wake up and open your window shades right away to let in sunlight? Do you brush your teeth before you head out the door? Do you start your day with your morning coffee? Do you log right on to the Internet and check your emails or check Facebook? When you come home at night, do you put on your sneakers and head out for a run before dinner? If any of these actions, or if some others, sound familiar, you are engaged in ritual.  

Why not make yoga a part of your daily ritual? Or why not groom a ritual that lends to some higher purpose? One of the great things about yoga is that it involves much more than just the asanas (the yoga poses). And maybe when you think of yoga asanas or getting to a yoga class, you might argue that you don’t have the time in the day to practice. Although the asanas are important, there is much more to practicing a yoga lifestyle that takes little time, and can become part of your daily ritual.

Stemming from ancient yogi tradition, there are 8 Limbs of Yoga: yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana, and Samadhi. The first two limbs of yoga, yama and niyama, are the focus here.

Patanjali described the yamas as willful and joyful restraint we place on ourselves that lead us to the path of enlightenment. The yamas are not about deprivation; instead, they are focused rituals that allow us to center on being kind to others and to ourselves. For example, one of the yamas is ahimsa, which means not to hurt yourself or other people. This also does not mean that we should focus just on hurting oneself or others physically, but it means also considering what hurtful things you might say to yourself daily. Do you say that you’re not good enough or not capable? Ahimsa asks us to treat ourselves and others with compassion, so where in your daily activities can you bring compassion to yourself or devote time for yourself? How can you turn this into a ritual, something you can practice daily or weekly? 

Niyama literally means positive duties or observances. Niyamas point to those activities in our daily lives that contribute to healthy living. One of the niyamas, Svadhyaya, means self-study. It literally means to “meditate on the self.” Could you begin your study of Svadhyaya by beginning each day with inspired readings or acts of kindness toward yourself? 

You can create the space in your life for yoga, even if it's not on the mat. 

Handstands Change Your Perspective

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We are currently in the middle of celebrating handstand challenge in the month of May. The challenge is simple, perform a set number of handstands per week and post your progress on social media. Sounds easy, right?

Well, some may argue that  getting upside down is not that easy. It is challenging and sometimes frightening to get your legs over your head. The first thing you may think is that you'll fall over. Realize that your concerns are legitimate, yet it is possible to change your perspective about getting upside down with practice. It is important to realize that when you see someone in a handstand in class or on Intsagram, it wasn't the first time he or she tried. Just like most good things in life, practice is the key to finding your path. You, too, can get upside down. 

Warrior is offering a number of opportunities to practice handstands all month with a number of handstand clinics and during most flow classes. The opportunity is there for you, so please take it. You'll realize the world is much different when you're upside down.

Shift happens when you are willing to go out of your comfort zone and are willing to challenge yourself. Shift is often subtle, but it is exhilarating. Remember when you were a child, and you wanted to climb that big tree in your yard? You may have imagined how beautiful it would be to see the world up in those majestic branches. You may remember being a bit frightened at first, and you probably took small steps to reaching the first low lying branch. Then as you grew in confidence and curiosity, you climbed higher. And once you climbed high enough, you could see the world so much differently from up there. You could see farther, and your other senses felt just a little different too. Think of the handstand challenge as a mirror of this experience. Your confidence will build once you take upon the challenge. When you exercise your bravery muscles, you will witness new revelations about yourself. 

There are many benefits to getting upside down in a handstand. Handstands energize the body by sending blood to our brains, they reverse the effects of gravity by decompressing the spine, they build upper body strength, and most of all, handstands build confidence. Our instructors at warrior are happy to assist you into handstand, and remember that one small step toward getting upside down is the start to a new perspective. 

Be Here or Be Nowhere

 

Baron Baptiste teaches that “any moment that happened in the past is a memory, and any moment that will happen in the future is a fantasy.” Take a moment to reflect on this. What does this mean to you? What does this mean to be present?

To be “present” is to exist in the moment. To be aware of what is happening in the now. The past and the future are enabled by your mind’s ability to remember and to foresee, yet these thoughts often keep you from being present and in the moment, right here, right now.

In yoga, being present is important to growth. Change doesn’t happen all at once, change happens one shift at a time, and if you’re not focused on the present moment, you could miss it. Being somewhere other than the “now” in your yoga practice can lead to injury. When your focus is distracted or you’re thinking of what comes next in your life, you could overexert yourself or miss a key cue from the yoga instructor that could prevent injury. Say, for example, the yoga instructor tells you not to move your neck from side to side in bridge, and you miss this cue, you could injure your cervical spine.

It is normal to drift while on the mat to focusing on your responsibilities for the day or on what you could have done differently earlier. Yet, to be present means that you need to be aware of when your mind drifts like this and to bring your thoughts back to the present. The best way to be present on the mat is to be in your body, observing how you feel and what sensations are coming to the surface as you move through your yoga sequence. To come into the breath and to come back whenever you drift is another sure way to get back to the present moment. You may find yourself doing this many time during your yoga practice, but this is okay too. Just keep coming back. Make the effort to regroup and bring your attention back to your breath and to your body.

Try using these techniques off the mat as well. When you find you mind drifting during moments at work or with your family, come back to your breath, come back to the present moment.

Be Here Now

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How many times have you realized that your physical body was present during an event, but your mind was not? Were you thinking of where to go next or what happened earlier in the day? Have you ever been in a conversation with someone and not heard a thing he/she said?

Don’t beat yourself up for it; it happens. We are humans, and our minds tend to take over a lot. Even when we think we’re truly present, we find that our minds take us to places far away from the physical moment. No one is asking you to be perfect. Yet, becoming more present in the moment is a skill you can build. It can happen through yoga practice and meditation.

During an intense yoga practice, you often don’t have the time to think about what’s next or what happened earlier in the day. The movement and the breath during yoga practice tends to be your main focus. But what happens when you slow down your movement and come into poses like pigeon or savasana? Does your mind creep back in? If it does, this is perfectly normal. What is most important is that you notice your mind wandering. When your body slows down, your mind is no longer focused on moving through the poses, so it takes the opportunity to come to the forefront of your consciousness. So, when you’re in restorative yoga poses, recognize that your mind has drifted and gently bring it back with attention to breath. If this happens fifty times, do this fifty times. Because you must bring your mind back to the present moment several times, does not mean that there’s something wrong, it just means you’re human. But you can train your brain to listen to you, rather than you listening to your brain.

When the same thing happens in a conversation with someone or during an event off your yoga mat, do the same thing. Notice that your mind has wandered and bring it back to the present moment. No one needs to know you’re doing this, but you may realize that you become more present one little step at a time.

Daily meditation practice is also helpful in bringing presence in your daily life. One of the most important elements of meditation is noticing. Some meditations call for you to focus on breath or on a sensation. This can be your practice for bringing your mind back to the present moment. During a focused meditation, your mind may also wander several times. If this is the case, bring it back. Place no judgment on what happens during these moments. In time, you will realize that the brain is hardwired to think, and that we can always redirect our focus with intention.

Restore and Cleanse

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So far, during the 40 Days of Personal Revolution, you’ve focused on presence, vitality, and equanimity. This week, week four of the Baptiste program, calls for “Restoration,” and by this stage of the program, you’ve maintained a consistent mediation and yoga practice, and now you’re ready for cleansing.

The 40 Day Program includes a three-day fruit cleanse this week, and it is an amazing way to rid the body of toxins and to rethink what foods you put in your body. Participating in the fruit cleanse means you’re introducing nothing but whole, healthy foods into your daily diet, and you’re reducing the cravings that may lend you to over-consume or to make unhealthy choices. This cleanse helps to restore the healthy balance in your body with vibrant, beautiful whole foods.

Much like the fruit cleanse, week four’s excavation questions prompt you to release old baggage that’s holding you back from being your best self. Questions also ask you to ponder the things in your life that drain you and to prompt you to let go of them. Maybe, most importantly, you may also discover that you don’t spend enough time during the day deeply relaxing and restoring yourself. Know that when you are restored, the rest of your life tends to balance. You view the events of your days differently and you interact with others differently.

When your daily schedule is “go, go, go”, there’s a good chance you may neglect taking care of yourself. Our daily schedules may make us out to be “human-doings” rather than “human-beings.” So, really give yourself the chance to just “be.” Do what you need to do each day, but spend time coming back to “being.” Take a couple deep breaths between activities; don't rush; take time to meditate or to practice yoga. 

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Presence

If you’re not here, you’re nowhere.

“If you’re not here, you’re nowhere” – Baron Baptiste

 

Picture yourself sitting in a classroom, listening to a lecture. You know that the material in the lecture is important for the upcoming, test, but you seem distracted; you can’t fully concentrate or listen. You hear the instructor’s words, but you’re not deciphering them; they just seem to be sounds emanating in and out of your consciousness. Maybe you’re thinking of the tough day you had; maybe you’re thinking about going food shopping after class. Maybe you’re distracted because your car is in the shop, and you must find other means of transportation all week. Maybe you’re thinking of everything and anything else besides the content of the lecture. In reality, your physical body is present in the classroom, but your mind is elsewhere.

In the classroom setting, you may be marked present by the instructor, but you know you missed most of what she said in her lecture. You may have even looked as if you were interested in her talk, but your mind was filled with all kinds of other chatter that kept you from being fully present in the moment.

Presence transcends the physical body, and it involves much more than turning off your cell-phone and muting the television. You may even ask yourself how you can become more present? Is it just being a good listener? Is it just about unplugging and being attentive? Being present means that you de-clutter the mind and be with what is. It means ceasing the chatter and ceasing the struggle within yourself.

One helpful way to declutter the mind is through meditation.  Mediation is a powerful practice that can initiate presence. Meditation allows you to focus on the breath and to let go of thoughts and energy that distract you. Mediation also allows you to press the restart button and begin again at any moment. When you realize you have disconnected during meditation, you can always come back.

Meditation is practice for your every day experiences as well. When you feel disconnected in your life, in your relationships, or at work, you can always press the reset button and come back to the present moment.

Week One in the 40 Days to Personal Revolution awakens you to the “underlying factors that are contributing to wherever you feel stuck in your life.” Presence means awakening to the underlying factors that contribute to your outward behaviors. If you feel controlled by your problems or by stress, the issue is not of “powerlessness” but of awakening to the “power within yourself.” Presence allows you to awaken to new insights about your behaviors, emotions, and reactions and opens you to new possibilities for inquiry.

Meditation and Movement in Preparation for Sleep

Many say that they just don’t get enough sleep or that their sleep is not restful. Your lives are busy, and you have a lot on your mind at any given moment. Often, its difficult to unwind after a long day; your body may be tired, but your mind keep racing.

You can take a few moments to relax and calm the mind before you get into bed, and you can be intentional in allowing your body to unwind after a long day.  Detach from your devices several minutes before bed and set time for yourself to relax and settle into sleep. In these moments before rest, you can create a bridge between the events of your day and sleep. 

A Few Simple Steps to Help You Relax and Unwind: (You Can Choose to Sit or Lie Down)

  • Focus on the normal movement of your breath: Close your eyes; listen to the sound of your breath as it enters and leaves your body. Focus on the chest and belly rising and falling as you inhale and exhale. Gently relax the muscles of your face, relax your jaw and tongue. 
  • Scan your body:  Draw your attention from your toes to the crown of the head, pausing for a moment on body parts like your toes, your feet, your shin bones, your knees, and so on,  reaching all the way to the crown of your head. Check in with any sensations you're feeling and send your breath to places that need some extra TLC. 
  • Be aware of emotion and feeling: Notice your current emotions and feelings, yet be willing to release them. Try not to judge those feelings, but become aware of them, so you can release those emotions with each exhale.  

Yoga Postures that Aid in Sleep

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Rag Doll: Stand with your feet hip-width distance apart and gently fold forward. You can grab opposite elbows or just let your arms hang. Exhale and lengthen down through the crown of your head. Stay here for one minute or ten breaths. Gently release the arms and slowly rise up to standing when you are finished. 

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Seated Tree: Sit on the floor or on a mat with both legs extended in front of you. Bring your right foot in to rest against the your inner-left thigh. Gently inhale and then exhale over your extended leg. Feel free to use a cushion or a block to rest your head. Breathe here for 10 breaths and then switch sides; move slowly.

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Seated Forward Bend: Bring both legs extended in front of you. Take a deep breath in with your arms lifted over your head. As you exhale, slowly lower over your extended legs. Stay here and breathe for one minute or 10 breaths. Use a block or cushion to rest your head. Gently release.

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Waterfall: Lie on your back, place a block or cushion under your lower back and raise your legs toward the ceiling. Take any variation with your arms. You can extend your arms over your head, you can open into goal-post arms, or rest your arms by your side with your palms facing up. Breathe here for one minute or ten breaths. 

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Savasana: Lie on your back and give yourself space. Open the palms of your hands toward the ceiling, close your eyes, and gently focus on your breath as it rises and falls in your chest and in your belly. Take as much time as you need.

 

 

 

A Daily Meditation Practice for the New Year

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Happy New Year Warriors! A new year often prompts us to do away with the old and begin a new path. The beginning of a new year is also a good time for starting over and reassessing the people and the things you value most in your life. Why not take this time to commit to yourself and invite a daily meditation practice into your life?

You may have heard of all the benefits of a consistent meditation practice. And guess what? They are true! The benefits of meditation are numerous, but to start, meditation can lower anxiety, curb a monkey mind, lower blood-pressure, and can increase focus and concentration. Quite simply, meditation practice can change your life.

Not often are we able to devote time to ourselves, and you may think that meditation will take up lots of time during your busy schedule. Yet meditation practice doesn’t need lots of time; in fact, participating in just 5 minutes of meditation a day can reap the same benefits as mentioned above. In addition, daily meditation practice doesn’t need a lot of preparation; in fact, you could even meditate at your desk at work or in the kitchen before dinner or as you prepare to go to bed. All you need is you!

There is no wrong way to meditate. You will find that when you first start, you will have many questions, like “am I doing this right? The answer is always “yes”; you are doing it right. You will also find that your mind tends to wander during meditation, and this is perfectly normal. All you need to do when your mind wanders is to acknowledge it and then let it go with your next breath. Meditative practice is unique to the individual, so you need not worry if your experience is similar to others’ experience; you will always have YOUR own practice, and this is amazing. 

“Meditation Practice is unique to the individual; you will always have YOUR own practice, and this is amazing!”

One way to get started with a daily meditation practice is to join the Warrior Community for Meditation Boot Camp starting on January 3rd. For twenty-one days, you will receive a new guided meditation video through email. Each of these videos is unique, and will guide you through the practice of meditation and can help launch your own consistent meditation practice once the twenty-one days are over. The studio is also offering many free meditation classes during this period. Check the Mind-Body schedule for daily classes and come join the community in establishing clarity and focus in the new year.

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Your Practice and the Holidays

The holiday season can sometimes disrupt your normal routine. You may have family visiting, you may be leaving town, or you may be so busy, you feel like you just don’t have time to stop. Yet, these are the times, you need yoga the most. Maybe you can’t make your normal 4:30pm Power Class or your Sunday Yin class, but you can create space in your schedule to practice at home or on the road. This doesn’t mean you have to create your own hour-long routine; sometimes you may only have time for small amounts, but small amounts count too!

You can tap into your yoga practice at any time with these easy postures and practices. All you need is a few minutes:

Intentional Breath: The practice of intentional breath needs no special place or time for you to set aside. Taking the time to breathe can be spontaneous and at the same time, purposeful. When you’re feeling stressed or when you’re settling down from a busy day, take a few moments to concentrate on your breath. Listen to the sound of your breath coming in and exiting your body. Focus on your breath filling up the belly as you inhale and deflating the belly when you exhale. Your attention on breath can calm and relax your racing mind.

Child’s pose: Child’s pose is a restorative, relaxing pose. Combined with intentional breath, child’s pose can relieve tension in your spine and neck, and bring you back to a calm state of mind.

Rag Doll: Stand with your feet hip’s width distance apart and gently bend forward with knees slightly bent. Drop your head and grasp opposite elbows or let your arms hang. Rag doll decompresses the spine and allows tension to drip right out of your body.

Sun-Salutations: Sun salutations can invigorate a tired body, decrease stress, and provide momentum for the rest of your day. Take a few rounds to help spark your energy for a long day ahead or take a few rounds when you feel your energy depleting.

Legs up the Wall: Placing your legs up the wall will bring blood-flow back to the heart. This pose can immediately relieve tension and stress. Cover your eyes with a soft pillow or towel and allow yourself to recharge for a few moments in this pose.

Cat/Cow:  From table-top position be be sure your shoulders are aligned over your wrists and your hips over your knees: inhale as your drop your belly and lift your chest, exhale and round your shoulders. Practice several rounds of cat/cow with your intentional breath. This movement can release tension in your back, neck, and shoulders. 

Savasana: Yogis need savasana to relax and recharge. Take savasana at any time to reconnect to your body and your breath and to find calm in a busy atmosphere.

You can practice these poses at any time: at home after a long day, at a holiday party, or in a hotel room on the road or maybe you have another pose you like or one that speaks to you. The idea here is to do what feels good! Of course, there are many classes at Warrior you can take, maybe ones you haven’t been able to get to before. Practicing with the community is also a great way to decompress and focus on you.

Savasana

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December’s pose of the month is Savasana. This is the pose many anticipate at the end of a rigorous yoga practice. At this time, yogis can find rest, relaxation, and restoration in this pose. There are numerous benefits to Savasana including relief from mild depression, high blood pressure, headaches, fatigue, and insomnia. Savasana can also calm the nervous system, calm fatigued muscles, and ease tension in the shoulders and jaw. The pose is a fully conscious pose, aimed at relaxation and connection to your previous asana practice.

Yet, oftentimes, Savasana may not be as relaxing and restorative to some yogis. After you’ve spent an entire yoga practice moving and breathing to pump blood and oxygen into your muscles and tissues, it may be difficult to pause in stillness. Some may find that the movement and concentration on breath during asana practice is the perfect distraction for calming a monkey mind, but when the room becomes quiet and when you become still, it may be difficult to calm the thoughts that overcome the brain at this moment. In addition, some may find discomfort in this pose. Some yogis with lower-back issues may find it difficult to lie flat on the back without some mild discomfort.

One of the main reasons this pose may be difficult for some is that during stillness, your brain may become active with thoughts about your plans and your responsibilities for the day or for the week. You may find yourself thinking of things like:

Boy, I’m super hungry!
Who is that snoring over there?
What am I going to do about that work project?
What do I need at the grocery store?
Is this relationship I’m in all it’s cracked up to be?
What am I going to buy my daughter for her birthday?
My mat smells funny!
It’s hot in here!

Keep this in mind, that the thoughts going through your head at this moment are perfectly normal, and it is perfectly normal to acknowledge those thoughts, but this is the time to let them go. When you come into savasana, set yourself up for success:

1.      Set an intention: Mark something that you enjoyed about your previous asana practice. Revisit the movement in your mind. Ask yourself what was special about that moment in your practice. Keep thinking of how you felt at that time; let the positive sensation guide you through. 

2.      Give yourself space: Spread out on your mat, use any bolsters, towels or blankets to help you relax. You can lie flat on your back with your arms spread wide, palms up and your legs open. You can bring your feet towards your sits bones, like your setting up for bridge. You could try reclining butterfly with the soles of your feet together and knees spread wide. You can even take savasana with your feet up the wall. Finally, you can lie on your side in fetal pose for the duration of savasana. The idea here is to be comfortable and to set yourself up for the best expression of this pose that works for you!

3.      Scan your body: Notice how your body feels now and how you felt when you first started your practice. Place no judgment on how you feel, just notice. Send your breath to any place that may feel tension or tightness. Smile inside and out. It will loosen tension in your facial muscles and jaw, and it will allow you to surrender into the pose. 

4.      Trust yourself: know that your breath can carry you through this moment. Know that some days will be harder to calm the mind than others. Place no judgment on this, for you are up to something bigger!

 

Sun Salutations and the Significance of 108

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Since as far back as the beginning of recorded of human history, the number 108 has been associated with deep spirituality and connection between the universe and humankind. Hindu tradition associates the number 108 with the number of Shiva’s attendants, hence the Mala contains 108 beads that circle like the planets of the solar system and represent prayer and meditation. India is known to have 108 sacred sites across the country; the High Temple of Lamanai in Mayan culture was erected 108 feet tall; Buddhist temples are often built with 108 steps representing the 108 steps to enlightenment, and in China, some forms of Tai Chi have 108 movements.

Mathematicians of Vedic culture viewed 108 as a number of the wholeness of existence, and the number 108 is also said to be connected with the Sun, Moon, and Earth, for the average distance of the Sun and the Moon to Earth is 108 times sun and moon's respective diameters. The recurrence of the number 108 is also prominent within the human body. Ancient yogis believed that there are 108 sacred sites within the body; Pranayama, the practice of meditative breath, also contains 108 cycles. One could argue that the number 108 represents an inner-connection between humans and the universe. 

Yogis are known to practice 108 sun salutations during the change of seasons. Practicing 108 Sun Salutations is a meditative practice that connects the body, the mind, and the universe specifically when nature is undergoing a change. And coupled with this change in nature, yogis can start once again, fresh, renewed and inspired.

Please join the Warrior One community in practicing 108 Sun Salutations on Thanksgiving morning at 7am. This practice will lead you through expressions of thanksgiving and appreciation for the wonderful things in life and for supporting others who are less fortunate. Please bring a non-perishable item or two, so we can spread the love and the bounty to others in need.

Effort and Ease

This is week two of Warrior’s Plank Challenge. Isn’t it uplifting to be part of something bigger, a community that shares a common goal?

As the weeks progress during plank challenge, you will increase the time you spend in plank to three-minutes. These early weeks are meant to create a foundation that will prepare your body and mind for creating a three-minute plank.

In your practice this month, consider the duality of yoga and how plank challenge fits into this. Yoga is the duality of effort and ease, sthira and sukha. In order to create peace, you will first need to create  foundation, steadiness, and presence, and plank challenge is a great means of tapping into this.

Plank pose is a powerful pose that attracts attention to your inner-fire and your body’s core. Plank pose ultimately strengthens both. A powerful core supports your entire body and aids in your everyday movement and the demands you place on your body. A powerful core also supports you in all other yoga poses. Tapping into the power of plank this month will also calm your mind and create the comfort that comes with staying in a powerful pose for longer than you typically stay. The magic happens when your mind tells you to exit the pose, and if you stay, shift happens. Shift can manifest in all kinds of ways including  the creation of harmony between mind and body and knowing that you can move past your threshold. 

The foundation you create in plank allows you to surrender and to open up to a never-ending list of possibilities. 

 

You ARE Ready for Plank Challenge

What is plank challenge? It is challenge we hold each year at Warrior One, and it’s a time to exercise your bravery muscles and commit to strength, power, and a three-minute plank. You’re probably thinking, “Whoa, slow down, did you just say a three minute plank?” Yes, but don't worry because you are READY now.

The challenge involves a few milestones: attending 20 classes in 30 days, trying a class in Studio B (weights or spinning) and working up to a 3-minute plank. With each milestone, you will be supported by the entire Warrior Community. Plank challenge is a time to truly connect with your fellow Warriors and work towards a common goal.

In the early weeks of plank challenge, you will start by holding plank in shorter increments, and by the time the final weeks of the challenge are upon you, you will be able to hold a three-minute plank that ignites the fire within you in so many ways. 

Plank pose strengthens your core and stabilizes your entire body for your asana practice. Much like mountain pose, the essence of plank exists in so many other poses. The ones you may quickly think of are poses like forearm plank, side plank, or reverse plank, but did you know that variations of plank are also found in poses like handstand, down dog, and table top? These poses call for you to draw in your core and to stabilize your joints as does traditional plank pose. 

The physical benefits of plank pose are many, including increased stamina and developing a strong core. Yet, your time in plank can also be spent tapping into your mind-body connection. Think of the last time you were in plank for longer than you expected. You may have fought with yourself: “I can’t stay here any longer”, “I am not strong enough for this pose,” “When is it going to end?” But just when you think you just can’t hold it any longer, the magic happens. Your muscles strengthen, your mind shifts, and crazy as it sounds, you can stay even longer! Plank Pose allows your mind and body to come to agreement and to share the same space of strength and fire. Plank pushes you to experience shift and to trust your body regardless of what your mind may be telling you at the moment. It brings you to your edge, so you can reach that edge in all your other poses.

There’s no better time than now to work on yourself. Why wait until the new year? Start your commitment to fitness and to yourself, now. Your Warrior community is full of support and love for the challenging days ahead. Tap into your best self and go for it. Oh, and you’ll get a pretty awesome t-shirt when you finish.  

 

Morning Meditation to shift your perspective for your day!

What if instead of waking up and checking texts, social media and emails, you started your day with a meditation? 

Mediation and mindfulness can set a pathway for a powerful, life changing day. Every time you meditate, you create space for new ideas, breath, health and possibilities! 

Here is a simple meditation/affirmation practice to start your day with a deeper connection to your purpose and intuition:

1. Find a comfortable sitting position on a pillow, cushion or chair. 

2. Place your hands wherever they feel comfortable (ie: on your lap, on your knees or by your sides.)

3. Sit tall, close your eyes and take three deep breaths. Inhale through your nose, through your nose exhale. 

Open your eyes and read this affirmation aloud. 

                     "I am in perfect balance. I am physically and emotionally connected and healed. i am free of worry and I am at peace with who I am. Every day I grow stronger and more relaxed. I love myself and life.”

Your words are powerful! The words you speak create the life you live. Close your eyes again and feel the energy that speaking these words into existence creates. 

4. Take 3 more deep breaths.

Feel free to sit and breath as long as you like! Set the tone for your day, but also enjoy this mediation at any point to help you reset and regroup. 

The Surrender of Child's Pose

Child’s pose (Balasana) is a nourishing and peaceful pose that often opens a traditional Journey into Power sequence. During an extensive yoga practice, you can also come into child’s pose at any time to rest and restore between challenging asanas. The ease and surrender available in child’s pose amidst a powerful, sweaty yoga class, teaches us that we need this kind relaxation and rejuvenation even during our daily hustle outside the yoga studio.

The benefits of child’s pose are many, and just as coming into child’s pose can be your moment of rest during yoga practice, it can also be your go-to pose at any other time to help relieve stress and tension and calm your monkey mind.

When you come into child’s pose, your body mimics the fetal position, the time of ultimate rest, rejuvenation, and growth. The pose stretches and elongates the spine and relaxes the tension in your chest, neck, and shoulders. When you rest your third-eye chakra on the mat or on the floor, this action sends an instant relaxation message to your brain, and the inward fold of your body in this position sends signals to your brain that it is safe to surrender.

The key here is allowing your body to relax when it needs it. During the normal hustle of your day, child’s pose can bring much needed restoration. You can come into child’s pose in the middle of the busy parts of your day or the parts that may be stressful or overwhelming. You might say, “Of course, I can get into child’s pose, but my brain won’t stop bouncing around,” yet child’s pose can be the answer to calming a restless mind as well. While in child’s pose, focus on your breath and the rising and falling of your chest. Send your breath to areas of tension and unrest. During the normal course of the day, you probably don’t focus on your breath all that much, for it is involuntary; you will breathe whether you intend to or not. When you breathe with intention, your mind can’t help but slow down. And if your mind wanders in child’s pose, just let it go, and come back to your intentional focus on your breath.

Try incorporating child’s pose during moments of greatest tension or unrest in your life, even if you don’t have the time for an entire yoga class. Give yourself permission to relax and rejuvenate despite your responsibilities and your schedule tugging you in different directions. Your body will thank you for this by nourishing your cells, calming your brain, and strengthening your inner power.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY GANDHI!!!

This week's post is dedicated to the birth of one of the most influential pioneers of modern peaceful resistance, Mohandas Gandhi. His development and teachings of satyagraha "truth and firmness", led India through powerful nonviolent resistance to gain independence from Great Britain. Mohandas was is well known by the name Mahatma, "The great-souled one". While his journey was peaceful, it was NOT easy. He was thrown in jail multiple times for standing up for the poorest classes of India, and eventually murdered for being a leader in nonviolent revolution. We are continually inspired by his nonviolent active resistance to injustice and willingness to stand up for those in need. 

To honor Gandhi's legacy and to be a catalyst for justice in your community, here are three ways you can lead a life of TRUTH while staying nonviolent:

1. PRACTICE AHIMSA TOWARDS YOURSELF: It starts with you. Ahimsa (nonviolence) is one of the eight limbs of yoga. When you go inward and practice nonviolence, you can spread nonviolence and peace to others. This means giving your body the space to feel what it needs to feel. Nonviolence does not mean that you don't feel angry. Often times anger is wrongly associate with hate. You can be angry out of LOVE for the greater good, for what is right, and not be hateful or lash out. In fact, it's important to feel your emotions completely before letting them go. There is nothing worse than repressing your emotions because you think you have to be peaceful and happy all the time...THAT can lead to violence and lashing out.  Find a space, like a yoga or meditation class, to work through your emotions in a safe and effective way. 

2.SPEAK UP: Nonviolence does not mean silence or passivity. When you see injustice or mistreatment say something about it! Even if it's friends or family and even if it makes the situation uncomfortable, you must call it out when you hear it. Remember, when people are uncomfortable it creates possibility for growth and change. YOU can make a difference when you speak up. 

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3.SHOW UP: With a simple google search, it's easy to look up groups in your community who take action for change. You can be a part of nonviolent protest marches, making calls to elected officials of office to let them hear your voice, or organizing fundraisers for a specific cause. The key here is to take action! It's not enough just to disagree with what is happening, you have to physically resist against it.

 

'Non-violence is not a garment to be put on and off at will. Its seat is in the heart, and it must be an inseparable part of our being."
Mahatma Gandhi

Regaining Peace and Calm During Stormy Times

The events over the last week have been quite a challenge for many of us. Hurricane Irma pushed through Central Florida and left in her wake, a number of different challenges for each of us. Our bodies and minds have been in flight or fight mode for some time now, and getting our lives back together and getting back to normal may take some time. Know there is comfort in these stormy times.

It is important to practice more yoga during challenging times. Just coming to the studio can uplift your spirits, energize your sense of community, and prepare you for the challenges outside the studio walls. Practicing with a community that shares your exhaustion and your new-found challenges can empower you to go stronger and more willing to tackle those challenges. Now, more than ever, is a time to embrace the lessons you experience on the mat and bring them into your daily life.

True North: On the mat, you experience True North when you ground down your feet into the earth, stand tall, relax your shoulders, and pull in the pit of your belly. When you’re in True North on the mat, you feel powerful, energetic, and at ease. Practice True North as much as you can when you’re off the mat as well. If you find yourself in a moment of challenge or frustration, ground yourself, send your focus to your feet, your belly, and your spine. Sometimes, it is just that simple; you can reconnect to your peace and power by just stopping in the moment and regaining True North.

Breath: Focusing on your breath is integral on the mat, yet it is also comforting and peaceful to practice ujjayi breath when you face any challenge. Your breath is the center for calm and peace. It slows down your heart rate and  cleanses the storm in your brain. When moments feel overwhelming, reconnect to your breath. It will refresh you, calm you, and settle your frustration. 

Meditation: Taking just a few moments a day to meditate can help bring daily peace and comfort. During meditation, you can turn-off thinking about all you must do, the people you need to call, and all the work that needs to get done. You can regain focus, clear your mind of troubling thoughts, and re-center your actions for the rest of the day. In stormy times, give yourself permission to take this time for yourself. Your mind will calm and the body will follow. 

You can also find peace in connecting your thoughts and deeds according to the 8 Limbs of Yoga; focus as you face challenges with:  Aparigraha, Santosha, and Svadhyaya.

Aparigraha: this limb focuses on non-greed, non-hoarding and focuses on generosity in spirit and action. One can interpret this in many ways, yet in challenging times, you can be the lighthouse and shine your light on others by being generous with your time and your resources. Accept only what you need; be abundant in your energy and spirit for helping others. In addition, you can also be generous with yourself by creating “you” time. Do something you love, listen to music, spend time with friends, practice yoga.

Santosha: this limb focuses on contentment, willingness to accept what is, and gratitude. It is easy to focus on how difficult it is right now. Yet, be willing to accept what is, share gratitude with yourself and your community.

Svadhyaya: this limb is about self-study and the ability for you to reflect and grow. We often grow the most during challenging times. We share experiences, we learn, we embrace our challenges and those of others. Take time to reconnect to yoga, face challenge with intensity and ease; grow in mind and spirit.

Closing the Gap

Have you ever noticed that sometimes you're excited to do something really good for you (like yoga) and other times it's the hardest thing to even get into the car to drive there? Suddenly, the house NEEDS to be cleaned... "there's no way it can wait until after!"... "What about all those emails I never check??" "Ugh, my nail polish is chipping, there's no way I can show up like that!" Or maybe it's something even bigger. Maybe it's depression, anxiety... just plain not feeling up to it. 

You're not alone. 

It's easy to find an excuse as to why you shouldn't do something good for you. Usually, it's easier to do something else. It's definitely easier to lie in bed instead of going to yoga, or grab fast food instead of cooking a homemade dinner. It's like you forget how good eating well or getting exercise feels. You trade that feeling for the ease of convenience or comfort, and it's a dangerous trade to make.

"The hardest part is showing up."

You may have heard this in a yoga class at one point... and it's true! Not just in yoga, but for all aspects in life. Showing up is a decision. You're making the choice to step out of your comfort zone and into the possibility of change, growth, and a new perspective. You choose what is best for you instead of what is most comfortable.

We call that closing the gap: the gap between what you know is best for you, and the action it takes to get you there. It's an exercise... the more you practice, the better in tune you become with what your body really needs. 

CHOOSE to show up! CHOOSE to shine out! CHOOSE yourself!
 

The Power of Hot Yoga

You may ask yourself, why practice “hot yoga?” You could easily perform all these poses in a cool room, right? And wouldn’t it be more comfortable? Well, your initial response may be yes, yet shift doesn't happen when you're comfortable; it happens when you challenge normalcy and comfort. Practicing hot yoga has the power to transform your mind and your body. 

Practicing power yoga in a heated room is an incredible experience, an experience that warms not just the room, but your inner fire, your tapas. Your inner fire gives you the support to sustain you during the course of your practice and to move you outside your comfort zone. Your inner fire moves you and motivates you, not just during yoga class, but out in your day-to-day interactions with the world. Hot yoga prepares you for the challenges you face both on and off the mat.

In a heated room, your tissues soften, and your body becomes more pliable and open to the poses within the power sequence. The heat can also give mental clarity and “spiritual healing”, for the heat in the room ignites your determination, your drive, and your motivation to power on. A hot room can also “boost the purifying fire” in your body because heat helps you sweat, and by sweating, your body releases toxins and those things that no longer serve you. Once released, you will notice your body and your mental fog shift, shift to greater possibilities. There is also a deep satisfaction when the sweat just pours right out of you.

The heat could easily be a reason to give up, but the heat pushes you to challenge yourself and to go beyond what is comfortable, easy and typical. The heat allows you to connect with your edge, all the while strengthening your body and your spirit.

Heat can help you see results more quickly. Since the heat allows you to move more easily, you can be more in touch and connected to what your body is telling you. The heat is fuel for cleansing and detoxing, and the heat has the ability to release years of tension in just a short amount of time.