Enjoying Being a Beginner

When new students walk into class to practice yoga for the first time or a business opens its doors for the first time, a very similar experience happens. They both look around at what others are doing and want what they have today even though they are just beginning. I see in both cases they can be quickly disappointed if it doesn’t come fast enough. A yoga student may see the flexibility of the person next to them or see another person fly into an arm balance and ask how fast they will be able to do the same thing. An entrepreneur looks around at the success of other businesses that have been working in the same field for years and expect the same revenue and success as them in their first year.

How do we set the right expectations so we don’t disappoint ourselves and are able to enjoy the process of starting something new? Over the years I have seen people take steps through the journey and have intention as they go through the process and achieve success. I have also observed firms and clients alike try to rush through implementations without taking the steps to train, create unrealistic goals and a tremendous amount of stress for themselves and those around them. In yoga, I see students try to muscle through poses rather than understanding their breath and proper alignment first. They miss that if they slow down and learn the poses it will help them into each posture naturally with very little muscle involved.

I did the same thing when I started yoga. I started and stopped yoga a few times thinking I could never do what I saw others doing – whether that be their flexibility or ability of being still in a pose. Then I finally decided to go to a Beginners class and that changed everything for me. I finally understood where to put my feet, hands, gaze and utilize my breath. I also began to understand that I needed to stop focusing on the people next to me, that I may never do what they can do. I learned to be okay with that. I stopped being competitive and starting enjoying the practice. There is no reason that starting a new business line or service shouldn’t be the same. You should enjoy the excitement of starting something new and all the learning ahead of you. The climb is exciting and opportunities open up that you never realized were available.

A practice in presence…teen yoga blog

Usually, I take my phone in with me to yoga class.

The other day, I was in class, in a triangle pose, and I silently started wondering how many people might have liked my new photo on Instagram.  I turned my head to look at my green 5C iPhone at the front of my mat next to my two blocks, mat strap, and water bottle.   I know my phone is safe out in the cubbies, so why did I feel the need to bring it into class with me?

I felt pathetic having wanted to check my Instagram account during class, so I decided to try leaving it outside.  And I felt more pathetic when I realized it felt unusual, uncomfortable even, to be doing yoga without my phone next to me.

So what was it about that phone that made me feel so clingy?

I don’t know about you, but I love taking photos.  I’m artsy and creative, and love taking photos that capture the moment.  Sometimes, however, it is easy to forget that my real life is much more important than my virtual life.  In High School, it doesn’t always feel that way though.

Many people feel the need to post exactly what they are doing all the time, to show everyone else how great their life is.  Everything that really “happens”, happens on social media.  So we stay plugged in, thumbs tapping away to make sure we don’t miss what’s “happening”.

But I quickly came to the realization that I am not my phone.  My phone is a tool, and that’s all it was ever meant to be.  For teenagers, life is quickly becoming a thing that happens while we are looking at our phone screens.

It is imperative that you give everyone the attention they deserve.  On social media we think we somehow get more attention there than anywhere else.  Maybe, this generation needs to turn their minds from, “who in the room is going to give me attention?” to “whom in the room can I give attention to?”.

You are a person that, at times, needs the focus to just be on you.  On your mat is a time to give your body, your spirit, and your mind the attention it deserves, without the distraction of a text message.

This past week, the summer challenge has been to surrender.  Maybe in honor of this challenge, surrender the time you usually spend on your phone for a moment with a friend, a family member, or even for yourself.  Depending on who your are, this may look a little different; maybe you need to spend a couple hours away from your phone, maybe a day, maybe even a few days.  But however you choose to do it, allow your mind and spirit to fully embrace the moment you’re in; allowing yourself to, wherever you are, be ALL there.

Why Athletes LOVE Yoga!

DRISHTIQ Yoga is lucky to have the opportunity to serve the athletes in the surrounding area.  Yoga is a PERFECT accompaniment to any exercise or sport.

From casual runners and golfers to professional athletes, athletes doing yoga benefit from yoga’s ability to increase blood flow throughout the body and to important joints, fascia and ligaments.  Yoga also centers around focus, balance and connection to the body which changes the way any athlete moves, attends to or performs in their given sport.

Two such athletic teams – Mason Girls basketball, Mason Girls Softball have both embraced the benefit of yoga for their athletes.  Don’t take it from us, read the testimonials below!

“Yoga was definitely an asset to our team’s preseason workouts.  The softball players, who had been working out in the form of  weights and cardio conditioning for months, were surprised by the amount of strength and endurance it took to get through a yoga practice.   They all commented about how challenging their classes were but also how great they felt after.  The technique of learning to use their breath through movements is something they use through all types of exercise.  By far their favorite class was the restorative as their bodies were very sore from all the strength training we were doing as a group.  We will definitely incorporate yoga into our pre-season workouts earlier next year and more often!”  – Lian Muff, Varsity Softball Coach, Mason High School

“On a trip to an all-star event with 2 of my players, I asked them whether they thought the yoga experience was beneficial to them and they both said, “without a doubt!” They went on to explain how in the past, their bodies and especially their legs felt worn out at the end of the season but this season, they felt so much more relaxed and refreshed. Yoga, without a doubt, allowed the players to maximize their mind and body and helped us reach the state championship game.” Rob Matula, Varsity Girls Basketball Coach, Mason High School.

DRISHTIQ is ready and willing to host your team for a pre-season workout, or a recovery yoga session full of rest and restoration.  Please let us know if you are interested in learning and experiencing the benefits of yoga in your sport.

Your most troubling yoga questions….answered.

Question #1: How do I learn arm balances and challenging postures?

The answer to this question is two-fold.

First of all, it’s important to realize, yoga is a journey- not a destination. Your postures will constantly evolve and come to realization. Your understanding of yoga and mindfulness in your body will also change and grow.

Secondly, challenging yoga postures and inversions are realized in the body slowly and after much experience. You should come to a lot of yoga classes and learn all the “in-betweens” in your basic yoga practice. Yoga is designed for mindful movement with breath. This “basic” practice allows you to become aware in your body and when done consistently, builds confidence, erases the fear involved in more challenging postures/inversions, and adds strength in the body(even in places normal calisthenics do not strengthen).

Arm balances and challenging postures, do not magically happen. The only arrive after a long period of yoga practice. Especially, when those practices are done with instructor’s guidance on proper alignment and only after muscle memory is established

This is why in your regular yoga flow, the instructor may stop and ask you to become even more mindful of where you feel the pose in your body. They may ask you to find the tiny abdominal muscles that hold you upright or keep your lower back from tilting one way or another.

All of this “practice” moves you into more challenging postures and inversions.

Question #2: How Do I learn the different kinds of breathing used in yoga?

Take a BIG deep inhale and sigh it out. Notice the way the feeling in the body changes when you do so. Yoga teachers and practitioners know, the way you breathe is often indicative of how you are feeling inside. For example, get scared- short quick breath results. Whether you are sleeping or close to sleep, soft shallow breathing occurs.

If you are interested in learning the types of breath used in yoga, LOOK NO FURTHER! DRISHTIQ Yoga has just begin to offer 30 minute Pranayama (breath) and Meditation classes. Your yoga instructor will guide you into your breath and share different types of yogic breathing. From there you will enjoy a meditation session.

No worries if you don’t know how, that’s why we’re here. Come learn about the different types of breath. Get into your body; find union among your body, mind and spirit. Leave refreshed and proud you are able to change the feeling in the body, simply using breath and sitting quietly.

Question #3: How many classes a week should I take to really feel the benefits of practicing yoga?

Anyone who has ever tried a yoga class knows that after just ONE yoga class, a body feels the benefits. The immediate sense of space, calm energy and feel good feeling of a yoga class is what brings the practitioner back again and again.

However, if you have tight hamstrings, tightness in the hips or shoulders, etc., want more strength in the deeper abdominal muscles or increased release in the ligaments and fascia, a regular practice of yoga (2-3 classes at least) a week can really go along way to changing the body in ways that are really unimaginable when you first start taking yoga classes.

DRISHTIQ provides a variety of yoga classes to suit your needs. From Restorative, Yin to Heated Vinyasa Flows, each class is designed to suit a variety of different abilities and needs in the body.

If you can’t make it to the studio, even a short practice at home when you wake up in the morning, or just before bedtime can help you feel even more benefits from yoga in your life.

Feel free to leave your feedback in the comments below to let us know how many yoga classes you take a week and whether or not that is enough to meet your body’s needs. Also tell us how yoga has made a difference in your body!

If We’re Honest…

It’s easy to feel like we need to have everything together, all the time, including at a yoga studio. Sometimes we all feel like we need to put on a show when we come to a yoga class.  We all want to feel like the person who has it all together wherever we go, including on our mats.  In short, sometimes, you feel like you need to meet all the “requirements” to do yoga.

This is not what yoga is.

Try not to view yoga as a checklist item.  Yoga is something that invests in all parts of your day.  It affects your mood, your mindset, and it gives you energy and relief.  It’s a detox, a challenge, a healing, an exploration, an acceptance, and an appreciation.

If yoga were about expectations, there would be no point in practicing.  Yoga IS a relief because it allows you to express how you feel.  Every feeling demands to be felt.  Yoga allows you to feel it in a healthy process.

Yoga is a constant journey; a constant change.  Wherever you are emotionally, physically, and spiritually, it’s about thanking yourself in where you are today.  You can’t help your body or mind by judging, or scolding yourself.  And you certainly can’t improve anything without accepting how you feel.  With love and kindness comes acceptance, with acceptance comes change, and with change comes improvement.

I invite you to bring everything you have onto your mat and be honest with yourself.  Take a moment to fully take in what you are feeling through yoga.  Listen to yourself like you would want someone to listen to you; compassionately and without judgment.  Listen to what your body has to say, and choose to let it go.  You are human, and you did the best you could.  So breathe it in, and breathe it out.

If we’re honest, we all know what it’s like to feel ten inches tall compared to everyone else.  Sometimes, we all feel like everyone else is staring.  But just take a deep breath, because it’s more than likely that someone else in the yoga studio feels the exact same way.

It doesn’t matter who you are – we all have brokenness to bring to our mats.  It takes strength and courage to be honest.  Whether you’re feeling content, or frustrated, just thank yourself for being strong enough to step on to your mat.

When you step on your mat ask yourself, “how are you doing?”

Then, let your practice be a reflection of how you are doing.

Why Yoga?

Exercise has always been a way to balance my busy life – whether when I was a student in school, in a public accounting firm or running my businesses over the years. I love all forms of exercise, but I am most passionate about yoga as a way to release stress and be ready to take on each day. Pacing myself in my yoga practice, is much like pacing yourself in your job or business that you run.

For a long time I kept my professional life and yoga life separate. But, what I have found over the years are that the philosophies have more similarities than differences. Many of us know what the “law of diminishing returns” is, but we forget about this once we start a business. For many of us that are entrepreneurs, this occurs often without us even realizing it….if we work one more hour, take one more client call, finish one more project – we believe we are helping our business. This is when we hit diminishing returns. We aren’t as fresh, we aren’t as visionary, and many times can create stress to those around us because of it.

It took me many years to realize that I have to take time out for myself and not compromise personal time in order for my business to be as successful as possible. When I started my business, my minimum day was on average 12-14 hours long. If I allowed it, I could have probably had a day that never ended… but, did that really help? Could it not have waited for the next day so I could be fresher?

Don’t get me wrong, I still work a lot of hours and have a good deal of travel, but I balance it. I do that by blocking out time in my calendar each day that I do not compromise for anything else. It may be really early in the morning, late at night or maybe just 30 minutes, but I commit to it. I actually get some of my best ideas when I step back from what I am doing and completely change gears – for some reason, problems get solved in my head without me planning it or I come up with ideas that I wouldn’t had thought of if I had not taken that time away from work.

We strive in the business world for goals that are not much different than in yoga. We want to find our balance, our equilibrium. Whether that balance be between our work and family life, being in the black versus the red financially, or having a plan that will keep us steady and take our businesses to the next level. In Yoga, we call that our Drishti. The practice of Drishti in yoga is a gazing technique that develops concentration and teaches you to see the world as it really is. It is a point of focus where the gaze rests during a posture. You gaze outward while bringing awareness inward to keep a sense of calmness.

This is what a yoga practice teaches us each time we come to the mat. We are alone with ourselves, our thoughts, our breath and our bodies. The practice of yoga is not really about the challenge of flexibility, it’s the challenge of our mind. We have no choice but to be present. If we aren’t present in what we are doing on the mat, we fall out of a pose. This lesson that yoga teaches us is the work we need to do in order to take that off the mat and into the world. When I finish a yoga practice, I feel refreshed and open. My mind is clearer and I can move a little more slowly through what comes up next in my day.

Finding yoga in my life has provided me time to clear my mind so that I can step back from the business and ensure I am focusing on the right things. There are days when this can be hard to do – really committing to it and taking the time dedicated to do it each day can be challenging. There are days where you block the time and don’t feel like doing it. Do it anyway. Just like you wouldn’t pass up a sales call for your business, you can not cancel the important things that feed you. There are many days I don’t feel like practicing, but I do it anyway, and always happy that I did.

So what does DRISHTIQ mean? I apply it to both my professional and personal life. It really doesn’t mean anything, I made it up….so you can create the definition that suits you! For me, I have defined it as breaking down boundaries to create endless possibilities. DRISHTIQ is constantly striving for more and not setting limits that are perceived or actual. As an entrepreneur in your own business or in a corporation spearheading new initiatives, DRISHTIQ allows you to reimagine a new way for success. Gazing beyond your current situation to create a vision. Creating a team around you that works toward collaboration and innovation.

Finding the right balance and support around you will help take you find your DRISHTIQ. Taking the first step and blocking time on your calendar to get started with yoga will go a long way – from there, it takes on a life of its own. It will benefit you, not only with your business, but with those around you.

Teen Yoga Blog- My Thoughts by Katy Closson

Hello wonderful yogis!

Today I’ve decided to combine my essay for yoga training and my blog together! YAY!

My essay prompt is to write about what resonates with you the most whether it’s the Yama’s, niyamas or the gunas.

I chose to focus on a broader view of what yoga does and what resonates with me.

And that was: How does yoga influence my everyday life in a positive light and how does this give a better output on those around me?

And for me at least at this time is making sure that I am full- Yama 4- and that I am not giving too much of myself away.

Yes, this may sound a bit selfish, however I am constantly being told that an empty vessel cannot give properly. I believe this to be true and struggle with it daily.

The question(s) I often times ask myself (In all 16 years of wisdom) is when is enough, enough? What I mean by this is how can I watch the news, for example, and see people being executed for their religious beliefs? Or how do I help and care for those who are mentally and physically ill? Let alone do my part for the environment? Because of this, some days I become overwhelmed and stressed.

“How can I care for all of this in one lifetime?” And in all honesty (trying to stay as open and honest as I can on this blog) I have to remind myself that I simply can’t take care of everyone and everything. Although this is turning very pessimistic very fast, I promise you it won’t last.

What I have learned from my mom and am still learning is~ I have to focus on what can I do in this day, this moment to help someone or something. This can range from complimenting someone for being creative or picking up a piece of trash in the parking lot. I am not trying to say that you have to do this, it is totally dependent on the situation and the subject. Which I find amazing and unique.

As for right now I believe my way to keep myself full and happy is to do 1 kind thing for MYSELF a day, whether it’s getting my nails done or practicing yoga. Basically whatever keeps me together and able to step into another day, knowing that my face is smiley and bubbly, so I can exude that positivity out into the universe, hopefully making someone’s day a little bit better.

This is what yoga has given me and through my practice, I have learned to accept that in order to care for others I must care for myself.

And honestly, that is a lesson I will keep for my lifetime.

Sincerely,

Katy Closson

P.S- Stay positive my friend’s!

Cherishing the Present Moment

A few years back I went to a colleague’s brother’s funeral to support him in his time of loss.  I had never met his brother before, but after attending his funeral, his life did make an impact on me from that day forward.  His friends and family all had prepared things to say without sharing it with each other in advance.  One after the other each went up to speak and it was soon obvious they had a common theme. As each person spoke they mentioned in their speech that they had been his best friend.  As one after the other said the same thing it started to become a joke – “I thought I was his best friend too” as each laughed and went on with their speech.  So, why did each person think they were his best friend?  It became apparent as more and more of them spoke that the reason for this was because he was completely present when he was with each of them.  One said – “he never wore a watch, but somehow he was never late and he was always on time to everything”.  Another said – “when he was with you he was completely focused on you and didn’t get distracted.”

These statements are lessons for us all and are really profound on how to live a life of intention even as simple it sounds.  Most of us want to achieve this, but based on our busy lives and all the demands we have its hard to be conscious of it on a daily basis.  The message behind these examples were really about being in the present moment all of the time.  Being present with the people you love, with the people you work with and the people that surround you in your everyday life.  It’s so easy to get distracted as we are talking to someone with our phones and computers buzzing with emails, texts and phone calls.  How often do we step back and take stock on how we make people feel around us. Instead, most of us are concerned more about how we feel on an individual basis but not enough about how others are affected by us.  Each of us could be the nicest, most caring, well intentioned person. However; if we aren’t giving the person we are with the undivided attention they deserve, their personal feelings may be that what they had to say or offer was not worthy of our full participation.  I don’t think most of us mean to do this, including myself, there is just too much noise that distracts us and takes us away from being focused.

This is what a yoga practice teaches us each time we come to the mat.  We are alone with ourselves, our thoughts, our breath and our bodies. The practice of yoga is not really about the challenge of flexibility, it’s the challenge of our mind.  We have no choice but to be present.  If we aren’t present in what we are doing on the mat, we fall out of a pose.  We have to stay focused on what we are doing with intention and not get distracted with any other thoughts or what other people are doing beside us.  This lesson that yoga teaches us is the work we need to do in order to take that off the mat and into the world.

How different would our lives be if we were completely focused on each thing we are doing without distraction.  How different would people feel about each other if each person was completely present and focused on the person they were spending time with rather than getting distracted.  If we can learn from how people feel, we would allot the right amount of time to each thing and person we are with. We would also instinctively know the time and when it was the end of that experience time to move onto the next one.  If we take this into our work day, rather than trying to “multi-task”, how much more could we produce and would our decisions be better?

As the year has begun and is in full swing,  stepping back and creating space to be present during your day – with each interaction – should give us all more satisfaction in what we do and how we spend our time.  It’s constant work and not as natural for some of us as it was for this person during his lifetime.  However; if we can take away from the stories of what he left behind of a life well lived and the people around him feeling like they mattered – it’s something that is constant work and that we can never stop setting our minds to do.

For my accountant friends out there that are just starting off their busy season, here is a playlist I created of music to help you during the day when you need to take some time away from the stress, and have the need to shut the door and relax. Hopefully it will be a quick fix to get your head back in the present moment when you need it – Relax & Meditate

Teen Yoga Blog #1 : Yoga Thoughts

Yoga Thoughts:

I am a little worried about this blog that I am beginning on this site, however I believe that this is in my best interest to do so! First things first, I would like to be as honest as I can about going onto this next chapter of my life, as well as keep an open mind and to respect who I am in the present moment. That’s for good or bad so if I happen to be struggling I will try to express that as much as I can and hopefully be able to overcome those struggles. And if I am doing well I will try to explain why I feel I am doing well in that area and try to elaborate on what I think is helping me to advance my yoga practice.

So a little bit about myself and my history: I am 16 years old and have been practicing yoga on and off for around a year now. I was recently granted a scholarship from Drishtiq yoga to support some of my teacher training costs. I understand that it may be naïve of me to think that I am mentally ready for such a commitment however I thought about this decision for a while now and truly, truly believe that this is the next part of my life. For a while I have been talking to a therapist and kept asking the same question: What will help me now? What can I do to heal and rebuild myself?  And I think that yoga has lead me down a new pathway for taking care of myself as well as give back to my community in a positive uplifting way. Thinking towards the future, I hope to get some of my friends and even strangers to become fellow yogis no matter what level you begin with! I would like to write every day but keep posting around once a month, maybe more.

Stay positive friends,

Katy Closson

Believe in Your Vision- Amy Vetter

I remember I was on a trip to Florida with my family in high school driving down a street by the ocean viewing one amazing home after another.  My mom said to me that it must be nice to have a home that beautiful.  My response to her (that I am still not sure where it had come from, but I felt it from the bottom of my heart) was that I believe I will have it one day – and I could picture what it looked like.  She asked why I thought that and I couldn’t explain it, I just believed it.

The house itself really wasn’t what that belief was about – it was about a vision that I believed I was going to do something great one day.  The house just represented the culmination of that achievement.  I keep that vision with me when things go sideways, upside down or right side up.  It helps me keep things in perspective that I am working toward a larger goal – even if I am not sure what that is at times, I just feel it.

Coming into the new year, I thought I would share what I believe it takes when you innovate and work toward something bigger than you based on my own experiences.  Take from it what may resonate with you and leave behind what doesn’t work for your life from this post.  This blog is based on my own self reflection and constant work I do to understand what internally drives me, which may or may not relate to your experiences.

I believe, innovation takes risk and it transitions to many different things over your lifetime.  When you look at history, nothing stays stagnant.  Things are always changing and developing whether it’s music, art, technology, business, etc.  It never stays the same.  It takes people to come along to push for transition to take things to the next step.  I believe each person was put here for a purpose to make those changes and take those risks even if each person hasn’t identified what that purpose is yet.  It’s important to understand what your purpose is and believe in yourself so that we all benefit.  Many times we don’t even notice the changes until they have already occurred and we look back and can’t believe how much has changed in a short period of time.

Part of believing in yourself is allowing space to make transitions for another generation to come through to keep evolving our own creativity.  I read a quote once from a prestigious yoga teacher named Seane Corn where she was asked to mentor a younger instructor that she personally felt had a great yoga practice, in addition to being beautiful.  She answered the request from the younger teacher by saying that she would mentor her if when she encounters the same experience of another teacher just as talented that comes to her in the future by not feeling threatened to help that teacher grow and expand as way of paying it forward.  I read this at a time in my life where I was making a transition in my career and this resonated with me.  You know it’s time to move to your next phase in your gut and make space for new people to grow into the space you were at.  You can’t stay the same or stagnant, everything must grow and change. Sometimes things come to an end to push you to take the next right path – rather than looking at change or endings as a bad thing – instead look at it as your next thing you were meant to be or to do, and not resist it.

Innovation also takes risk.  Unleashing your creativity without listening to other people’s judgement or telling you it’s not possible is really important in achieving your vision.  If you believe in it, do it. When I was younger I was fully into the arts – painting and playing music.  Once it was time for college I was guided into business school even though I had opportunities to major in the arts.  I don’t necessarily think that path was wrong; however, what happened was I began to believe that if I didn’t go to school for painting, I couldn’t paint. What I have found in the past year is I went back to my roots of painting and playing music and found passion for it all over again.  I just read a quote in an article from Katie Holmes talking about growing up in Ohio and wanting to become an actress. Her comment was that she wishes she could tell her young self that acting is just a plane ride away. Everything is achievable, it’s about going after it, having a vision, putting your mind into action and not feeling there is a right way or wrong way to do it.  It’s all a journey.

Creativity doesn’t need to be taught – it’s from within and it resonates with the eye of the beholder. It’s what touches you and may not for someone else.  All you can do is keep putting yourself out there and not let others keep you down because of their own insecurities.  There is plenty of judgement from those around you – even if people don’t know you – it’s amazing how many people have opinions about you that don’t know you or your circumstances.  I have encountered that plenty in my career. Not sure why people take up space in their heads passing judgement, but it’s typically out of their own insecurities of what they have done to limit themselves. Living your life in the way that best fits you is all that matters and learn to shut out the rest of the noise as best you can.

In order to imagine new ideas you need to create space so you can explore what’s next to come.  If there is no space to allow for new ideas, you won’t be able to do it.  I find when I exercise or sometimes even on a plane – when I slow down, something takes over and all the sudden I solve a problem in my head that I couldn’t solve before.  That is because there wasn’t space for it until I allowed for it.  It’s also important to have the strength sometimes to let go of things that aren’t working too.  You try and try and then you realize you keep pushing against the same thing and are not solving the issue.  For instance, there are times when I am painting that I have a vision in my head of what it’s going to look like and no matter how many ways I try to fix it, it doesn’t work.  After all that time and effort, I then have to muster the strength to throw out the painting (which drives my children nuts by the way…they fish them out of the trash and then I have to throw them away again). There are so many things in life that we have to have the wherewith all to scrap an idea or concept and move on or decide to change how we go about accomplishing the same thing in a different way. That’s innovation – but it needs space to breathe and grow so we can learn from it.

There are certain things that take over me, my soul, where time flies by and I lose myself – speaking to a crowd at a conference, teaching yoga, painting and listening to music to name a few. So when things gets tough, that’s why I don’t stop trying or throw in the towel because I put my whole self into what doesn’t feel like work, but what is innate in me.  Rather than resisting what feels right for you, go toward it, rather than holding yourself back. Many times, I don’t have the line of sight of what that next goal to conquer is going to be – but I continue to wade through the darkness toward it until I find it.

Remembering to allow yourself space and grow with what you learn – which is mostly from what fails – will hopefully make each of us stronger and closer to achieving the vision we set out to conquer.  If it wasn’t a journey, it wouldn’t feel so good when we have the wins.  Believing in that feeling in your gut and shutting out the noise will help when things seem to collapse at the seems. When things go dark for me, I step back and try to understand what it is trying to tell me and why so many things are going wrong.  There is usually a message in there if I make the space to listen to it so I can keep innovating and creating.  Going into this next year, believe in yourself, your talents and block the noise.

Stay true to the vision you have for yourself so you can achieve all that you want.

To see more of Amy’s Blogs visit: http://thedrishtiqcpa.blogspot.com/2015/12/believe-in-your-vision.html

Balance

We strive for it on our mats, we sometimes get frustrated when we wobble or fall- much like the frustration that comes from feeling off balance when we step off our mats and into the world. Unfortunately imbalance in our lives most often shows up as frustration, shame or sadness because We don’t always have the same intense focus and due diligence with balance off our mats as we do when we are taking a balance Asana like Warrior III.

We are as ill feeling when we experience an imbalance in our lives as we do when we stand in witness of our balance during a yoga class- we just aren’t always aware it’s truly imbalance we are feeling.

In fact, your balance in yoga class can be a peep hole into what is happening in your life. In this way life shows up on your mat and we become more aware of underlying imbalance in our daily lives.

And just as we take time to establish balance on our mats, take a moment or two in life’s moments to become aware of when you feel a balance or when you don’t.

Awareness is the first step to working toward establishing balance between work and home, between indulgence and moderation. Taking steps towards a more balanced life can require drawing some tough lines in the sand- with your boss at work, your friends and family, workmates or peers- all who also may struggle balancing work with pleasure or distracting themselves by busying their lives leading to exhaustion. Like dominoes we’re in danger of knocking each other down. Meeting a leader with a good sense of balance feels the opposite, their grounded ways and stability makes them better able to support and lift you up. Thus, greater success abounds.

So next time your yoga facilitator invites you into eagle pose. Without judgement, notice your thoughts, your focus, and how the pose arrives in your body. Notice as you breathe and let go of thought and make time for balance, the sensations in the body-as you ground down to reach up for possibility.

Imagine all that is possible when we make time to balance time for friends and loved ones with work. Balance movement with stillness. Alone time and time surrounded in friendship. What happens when we become more aware of in balance in our lives is that we get a chance to ground down and open up to possibility.

Begin with Gratitude…

Close your eyes for a moment (after reading this of course). Take a big breath in and out. Call to mind three entities in your life you are grateful for. Perhaps a person in your family comes to mind? Maybe it’s your job or the fact you can pay your bills? Possibly it’s another aspect of your life you’re really proud of, or even better, maybe you’re thankful for your breath?

Now hold this list in your mind. Be mindful at this moment of these things (people, events), that when you think of it, makes you feel the emotion of gratitude.

And, now notice how gratitude arrives in the body. Is it a feeling of lightness in your chest? Do you feel “butterflies in your belly?” Does a tingling sensation arrive in the tips of the fingertips or toes? Do your shoulder muscles relax a bit? Or do you feel the soft pulse of your heart beating?

Gratitude is a muscle. One we often reserve to strengthen when we gather around the dinner table at Thanksgiving. But, what would happen if we treated EVERYDAY like Thanksgiving? What would happen if we began EVERYDAY with an expression of Gratitude- a moment to tap into what we are grateful for and then give time to FEEL the emotion that accompanies it?

You can try this on your yoga mat. Make your intention to come from a place of gratitude for your body and your individual ability on your mat to practice postures or stillness. Witness how this changes your practice.

Then, try this in your relationships- start conversations with gratitude. Start emails with gratitude. Send texts just to reveal your gratitude. And witness the shift in your relationships and how people respond to you.

Then, sit back and notice, as the muscle of gratitude gets stronger, life seems just a little bit sunnier. You tend to notice more the glass half full. Enjoy.

Beauty Surrounds

November in Southwest Ohio is much like a fireworks display. Seems like out of now where a vibrant burst of color surrounds us as nature prepares for the imminent arrival of colder temperatures and less permeating sunshine.

Beauty exists in peoples’ preparation for cooler weather also.

We huddle around fires, grasp our hot chocolate (or pumpkin spiced lattes) and curl up under the covers together. We may grasp for that moment longer under our blankets in the morning or layer ourselves with cozy sweat shirts and sweaters.

We may linger a bit longer in the sunshine, or welcome the crisp cool breeze that wisps away the leaves of the trees while we take a big breathe in cherishing the refreshing way fall feels in our bodies.

In the same way, fall yoga may feel a bit different in the body as we embrace the change in moods or needs of the body. That warm/hot class may be inviting or a calm restorative or yin and meditation to reflect upon the change in seasons and the transition of time.

Enjoy the beauty of fall.

Take a moment to pause this November.

On your mat, take in the needs of the body through the senses.  In child’s pose try moving the forehead back and forth to massage the sinuses.  Take longer in that Down Dog affording the hamstrings just a bit longer to open up.  Build natural heat in the body with your Ujaii breath.  Allow yoga to help you during your seasonal transition.   Allow your mat to be a place of support and ease as your body and mind deals with the passage of time and change in the weather.

Find the beauty in your practice.

Don’t take yourself too seriously…

Consider for a moment the activities you most enjoy: Playing an instrument, listening to music, reading a really great book, eating a decadent dessert or going to a movie?

Now ask yourself this question- Why do I like this activity?

Nine times out of ten, we answer- because its fun, or I’m good at it, and when my focus is on this activity I feel good, light and free.

Why then does exercise or physical activity have to be ANY different?

We know that physical exercise is good for our health. We know that we should incorporate approximately thirty minutes of physical exercise a day, or so our doctors tell us.

Why not make that thirty minutes fun?

Yoga Asana, like any physical calisthenics, should be fun. If you want yoga to be a “habit” or an activity you make a regular part of your life, try finding the fun.

Start by asking your Ego, to leave the room. Sometimes Ego is the sarcastic coach on the sideline picking apart every bad move you make, the “you’re not enough” voice convincing you, you mine as well give up. The Ego reminds you of your fears, or the chance you may look “bad” in front of all your acquaintances.

No one needs Ego along for the ride in a yoga practice.

Ego can be blamed for many injuries. Ego can talk so loud it can drown out the breath, the attention inward to the body. Ego has no place, and

Ego is NO FUN in a yoga practice.

Instead…take steps to find the FUN.

Try this, start with mindfulness, bringing awareness to your inner voice during meditation. Start by meditating 5 minutes (or more). While you are meditating, pay attention to your thoughts, give them a name (like, that’s my EGO, that’s my TO DO list…). Then, journal about the experience.

Secondly, decide to be kinder to yourself. Invite your thoughts to be more positive. Let the words you are thinking be the same as if you were speaking to a person in your life you love the most. Decide that if you wouldn’t say it to your best friend, you won’t say it to yourself. And then hold yourself accountable for taking back negativity and judgment toward yourself.

Lastly, practice, practice, practice. When you notice EGO coming between you and your mindfulness on the mat – decide that the fear of failure, the fear of looking bad, won’t stop you from the FUN that can be had when moving and “playing” on your mat.

Then step back, and let the world open up. What will you do sans EGO, sans FEAR, sans CRITISCISM?

HAVE FUN!

Your Most Troubling Yoga Questions, answered…Part II

Question 1: What advice do you have for older practioners trying to get further into their splits? If I really believe I could go further- what sorts of things should I try?

The first advice we’d give is to go further into your breath. Breath is yoga! In order to further your practice in any pose, try first checking out your breath during your practice. Use your ujaii breath to further concentrate and move the oxygen and heat through the body.

Secondly a variety of muscles and ligaments opening are required for splits- hamstrings, hip opening, quadriceps, groin all will have to lengthen and open in order to get further in splits. Try to use your breath in certain postures like Warrior II, frog, runners stretch, and runners lunge. These are great Asanas to further the range of motion and lengthen the muscles and support the fascia when working for the splits.

Respect your journey. Honor your body. Let your teacher know this is a pose you are working on and they may try to work it into the practice while you are warm. Remember some postures truly take time to develop in the body. Don’t be frustrated if they don’t arrive immediately and never push yourself further than your body wants you to go.

Question 2: What goes on in a yoga teacher’s head as they are practicing yoga? Are they able to quiet their mind during a yoga class?

A yoga teacher’s journey is much like yours.

All of us are using the postures in yoga to move oxygen and blood through the body and become more mindful of the way it feels to be in the body.

Just because yoga teachers have studied and done yoga for awhile, does not make them immune to the challenge of calming the mind and staying present in the journey.

Many yoga teachers claim sometimes it is even more difficult to be centered in a class, because- once a yoga teacher always a yoga teacher. A teacher’s mind may be interested in accumulating ideas from the teacher they are training with to use in their own teaching. For many yoga teachers, the tools they have developed through teacher training and in simply practicing asana and mindfulness is enough to help quiet their minds a bit more.

The “monkey” mind is something we are all often plagued with. It is a challenge for all humans to still the mind even for a moment. Your yoga teacher included☺

Question 3: Why sometimes when I try to meditate does my mind start thinking of the things that bother me or I am most scared of? And how do I get back to my mediation if these thoughts are persistent?

First of all, no worries! This is a very common practice of the mind. It’s just doing what it is supposed to do/what its always done. We are just pausing to notice now.

A requirement of many yoga teacher training courses is to practice meditation. Sometimes it involves scheduling meditation every day. At first, this can be very intimidating, especially if our minds are especially busy thinking or we have “monkey” brains as we often do. The practice though, if you are able to stick with it, is a great way to begin listening to what the voices in your mind are truly saying to you.

First, after you meditate try journaling about the experience. Keep track of what thoughts are coming to your mind as you are meditating. What does the voice say? How does it sound? Are these things you would say to a friend, a spouse or a loved one?

Then, allow the thoughts to be what they are- WITHOUT judgment. Maybe label the thoughts- “my to do list”, “my fears or worries”, “my frustrations”, etc.

Instead of trying to change the thoughts, just aknolwedge they are there and CELEBRATE the awareness of those thoughts. For what we are not aware of, we can not address. What we can see – we can work alongside. Instead of storing those thoughts on a pedestal for “later” – hence giving them more importance by not working them- take time to journal, process, or if needed talk with someone that has earned your trust about them.

Lastly, here is a great read from yoga journal that may also help-

http://www.yogajournal.com/article/practice-section/never-ending-conversation/

4 Reasons Teens Should Practice Yoga

4 Reasons Teens Should Practice Yoga

1) Stress management: The transition from elementary school to middle school and high school can be difficult for teenagers. The pressure to fit in while their bodies are changing can be extremely overwhelming. Practicing yoga can help draw their attention away from peer pressures and schoolwork and towards the present moment. Their minds focus more on their breath and advancement into their poses rather than the outside world. Leaving class, they feel as if they’ve hit the refresh button with the stress lifted off their shoulders.

2) Eases tension in the growing body: A teen’s body is changing rapidly during this period in their life. Practicing yoga helps their organs to remain healthy despite the changes and everyday stresses. Yoga also helps to release the tension in their tight muscles, tendons, and ligaments while strengthening their bones. Certain poses can help to soothe cramps, headaches, and digestive issues. It’s important that we try to send teens into adulthood with as healthy of a body as possible. When healthy habits are developed earlier in life, it’s easier to maintain them as we grow older.

3) Mind-body connection: Yoga promotes a connection between the mind and body that helps teens to form a positive image of themselves. Self-esteem is a never ending roller coaster to most teenagers; one day they’re feeling the best they’ve every felt about themselves, and the next they’d rather stay in bed than be seen in public. By having a steady yoga practice, teens develop a healthy mindset that translates into a positive body image.

4) Increased flexibility and better posture: Through various growth spurts, the body’s muscles become tighter. Because of this tightness, it’s hard to maintain flexibility. Through practicing yoga, teens can increase their flexibility and get rid of the tightness in their muscles. Many of the poses in yoga promote proper posture. Teens are often hunched over from heavy backpacks, slouching in chairs, and spending large amounts of time on computers. With regular practice, teens can lift their shoulders and engage in proper posture.

What is Yin Yoga?

Yin Yoga is a meditational and passive practice that has a primary focus on connective tissues rather than the muscular tissues. Ligaments, bones, and joints are addressed by holding passive poses for five to seven minutes. It’s important that while practicing yin yoga you stay relaxed. It’s challenging for your body to stretch the connective tissues when you are tense. Most poses in the yin practice target the areas of the body between the knees and naval and the lower body. With the help of bolsters, blankets, blocks, and straps, these long poses are made more comfortable and beneficial to each student.

What are the benefits of Yin Yoga?

There are many benefits that come along with practicing Yin Yoga. The meditational aspect helps to calm your mind and lower stress levels. Over time you will see benefits like increased mobility in your joints and hips and more flexibility in your joints and connective tissues. It is also a great way to cope with anxiety and stress.

Yin Yoga is a great practice to get you into the present moment; the slow pace and long holding times allow you to get intimate with the self, feelings, sensations, and emotions. In a fast paced yoga practice, these things are easy to avoid. The benefits of yin yoga expand past your own body and mind and into your daily life. It teaches you to “be” in the given moment and accept what is going on. By being in the present moment, we can be at peace with ourselves, allowing us to live a calmer and happier life style.

Yin is for all levels, from beginners to advanced.  It helps beginners learn to connect with their bodies and work on flexibility, while in a passive practice.  For advanced yogi’s, it can provide the right balance to open your mind and body and go deeper to enhance your practice.  Additionally, it is a great practice for runners, cyclists, and swimmers to replenish the connective tissues and joints that are overworked in other cardio activities.

How to refuel after a hot yoga class…

You’ve just had an amazing hot yoga class and you sweat more than you thought was possible.  You are feeling good because the toxins have left your body and maybe were able to grab your big toes with your peace fingers or fly into crow or kick up into handstand.  With this combination of feeling renewed, as well as exhausted, we sometimes forget about replenishing the electrolytes we lost during class.  Here are a few ways you can keep your body functioning at its best and achieve maximum health benefits:

Drink.  Dehydration can cause muscle cramps, headaches and lethargy.  Consider refueling with coconut water, adding a packet of Emergen-C to your water, or even just adding a pinch of sugar and salt with some fresh squeezed citrus to your water bottle instead of just water.  The added minerals can replenish the electrolytes lost better than water alone.

Try to avoid drinking coffee, caffeinated tea or alcohol after a hot class.  These drinks will actually dehydrate the body further.

Eat.  Since you probably avoided eating before coming to class or maybe just grabbed a small snack, your stomach is rumbling by the time you get out of class.  Foods high in magnesium, potassium and calcium are ideal to help aid in electrolyte replenishment and rehydration.  Great sources of these minerals can be found in avocadoes, spinach, kale, cantaloupe, almonds, cashews, lentils, and bananas.

Ultimately, listen to your body and get it the proper nutrition it needs.  Prepping for your next hot class starts at the end of the previous one.  Food is fuel for your body, so giving it the very best nutrition can keep it operating at maximum performance for your day-to-day activities and yoga practice.

Here is some more great advice on what to do post yoga practice:

http://www.lululemon.com/community/blog/post-hot-class-game-plan/

http://fullcircle.sg/yoga-5-hot-yoga-aftercare-tips/

http://nabcommunities.com/2012/10/01/nourish-hot-yoga-eating-for-success/

What is Hatha Yoga?

Hatha Yoga or Hatha Flow is the most widely practiced form of yoga in the world.  It combines the use of postures (asana) and conscious breathing (Pranayama) combined with mental focus to develop awareness, strength and flexibility.  The combination of the physical and mental practice also decreases stress, allowing relaxation.  Hatha yoga produces balance strength, and a sense of well-being through practicing proper alignment and intentional actions of the body.  The sequence of postures (asanas) warm up the body and then work on aligning the muscles and spine so energy can flow freely.

Hatha Yoga is a great place to start for beginners because it focuses on foundational postures and flows at a comfortable pace.  You will be able to learn how the breath connects with the different postures and eventually take your practice into more advanced sequences.  While Hatha Yoga is a flow of foundational practices, it is a great check in to more experienced yogis as well.  Moving through postures in a faster flow, you may forget the subtleties of the alignment in different postures.  It is always beneficial to slow down your practice and check in to make sure you are receiving the full benefit of each posture.

Hatha Yoga was designed to bring self-transformation about through attention to your breath.  By focusing on your breath, you are able to still your mind and be more present in the moment.   This popular practice can be enjoyed and beneficial to all levels and ages!  One of the beautiful things about yoga is that you can always go deeper, there is always a way to grow and transform your life!

Here are some additional benefits to Hatha Yoga:

  • Builds strength
  • Increases flexibility and muscle tone
  • Brings focus to the mind
  • Encourages physical and mental balance
  • Develops proper body alignment
  • Reduces stress
  • Encourages a sense of calm and peace
  • Increases lung capacity for better breathing

Prenatal Yoga

Exciting news for all our soon-to-be Moms {again}! We have added a Prenatal Yoga Class Sunday’s at 12:00pm!!

We realize there are special requirements that come along with your baby bump and hope to make your pregnancy more comfortable through delivering the physical and mental benefits of yoga. Pregnant mothers in all trimesters are invited to join this class designed to promote health and well-being to expectant mothers and their growing wombs.

Gentle flow and stretching during pregnancy can help mothers combat some of the physical and emotional stresses of nurturing herself and her baby. Studies have shown that prenatal yoga can have positive effects on a mother’s quality of sleep, reduce stress and anxiety. In this class we will explore breathing techniques, modified asanas using blankets and cushions for added support and comfort, and relaxation techniques useful during labor and delivery. A yogi mother will be able to foster an inner confidence and intuitive wisdom that will transfer to her growing child inside. Happy Mother, Happy Baby!

Here are 5 Benefits of Prenatal Yoga from teacher Amy Lynch of mindbodygreen.com

  1. The Breath: Breathing is a very important part of delivering a baby, it helps to relax the body and take your mind from the pain and strain.

That is exactly what the breath work, pranayama, part of yoga will do, even if you are not pregnant. Yogis use what is called conscious breathing to help “still the mind.” Yoga breath work also increases the depth of the breath. By learning “three-part breath,” or “Ujjayi breathing,” we learn to breathe to our bellies, which really means we learn to use the abdominals to breathe and use our diaphragm and really work the ribs to breathe. This allows us to get more oxygen into our bodies. Also, the exhalation of the breath is a natural relaxation for the body. If you notice, when you take a deep breath, on the exhale you can feel the muscles move down and release, that is because they are doing just that.

  1. The Pelvic Floor: A strong pelvic floor muscle can enable a woman to carry a baby more comfortably during pregnancy and will help both the mother and baby during labor and delivery. Stimulating blood flow in the pelvic area after childbirth quickens recovery. In yoga, we often lift the pelvic floor to not only strengthen the muscle, but a strong pelvic floor brings lightness to a pose.

  2. The Posture: Yoga can also help alleviate the pressure the lower back is under during the shift in gravity. By stretching the upper leg muscles and the lower back, tension will start to release. Partnered with the smart abdominal work, your body will feel less pain as it goes through the journey of pregnancy.

  3. The Feet: Surprising to most, the foot actually has 26 bones, 33 joints and more than 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments. And although our feet get us around the entire day, we rarely take the time to take care of them, or check how we are using them, especially as that center of gravity moves over the nine months.

With the shift of the center of gravity in your body as your pregnancy progresses, this changes our stance and pressure in our feet and joints. Yoga will help you check in on how you are standing on your feet and help correct problems that may develop with pregnancy, such as over pronation and edema.

  1. The Hips: Prenatal yoga can help bring back flexibility and comfort to the groups of muscles and bone structures in the front and back of the hips. Hormones released during pregnancy soften and relax joints and cartilage between bones in our pelvis to prepare it for child birth. However, getting the muscles ready is good to facilitate an easier birth for mom and baby.

Read more here: http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-4695/5-Benefits-of-Prenatal-Yoga.html

If you have a pregnant friend or family member – be sure to let them know about this weekly class on Sundays! See you {and your little bean} on the mat!