Since the pandemic has eased I have met many clients wanting to learn to meditate or improve their breathing.
The more serious clients often ask me “how do I practice alone and keep it going?"
While there is no silver bullet answer these 6 tips may swing it for you.
Meditation and breathing practices are only effective if practiced consistently over time.
Good luck and let me know if you have any questions or comments. I would love to hear from you.
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Recently a new client said to me these last eight months of covid have been devastating to her mental and physical health. She desperately wants to turn the momentum around and never let herself slump into this state ever again.
She had a fire in her eyes and I knew her intention was strong. After our session together she had a plan and felt confident she would succeed. She looked ten years younger than at the beginning of the class.
What is it about yoga, meditation and breath work that inspire this change even in the midst of tough life conditions?
How can one start to make positive lifestyle changes and follow through with confidence?
Can these practices really make you happier? More contented?
Reading this blog will not change your life. But practicing yoga, meditation and breath work consistently over time will. I guarantee it.
After doing regular meditation, yoga and Breathwork practice in different configurations over the last 35 years I have never appreciated its value like I do in these turbulent times.
Looking up social media, hearing the news and even speaking with friends is like putting your mind and emotions into a blender. Society and history are swirling like a hurricane of unprecedented events. Abiding in that swirl can be a frightening, depressing and maddening experience whatever your circumstances.
However at the center of even the deadliest hurricane there is an eye. The eye is still, calm and safe. It is a temporary refuge before and after the storm. Life gives us many storms to weather so finding and abiding in the eye of the hurricane is something to learn and practice if we are to weather these uncertain times.
Yoga, meditation and Breathwork practice take you to the eye of the hurricane. I cannot imagine my life without my practice.
Some people call it an escape from reality. I call it an inscape to a more subtle reality. It nourishes, energizes and leaves me feeling happier, more contented and less influenced by external circumstances.
To me, drugs, tv, alcohol, depression, anxiety, drama, internet, Facebook, etc are the escapes we must be careful to not abuse. They do not have a long lasting positive effects.
These activities can deplete your energy and even feed the problem.
Next week I celebrate 500 days of continuous breath work practice. Each morning I spend between 25 - 60 minutes focusing on my breath. These 500 days have guided me into a deep contentment and stability through even the worst days of covid and political turmoil.
None of us escape the challenging turmoil of growing up and old.
I love to share with you my insights and techniques that I am constantly honing. I want you to be inspired to start or continue your practice - even on those days when you don’t want to.
If you design a practical doable practice and stay with it you will:
It is predictable - what you focus on gets bigger, what you practice makes you stronger and what you do every day changes you.
With a new potential wave of the virus and more uncertainty ahead consider the possibility of beginning a daily practice of yoga, meditation, Breathwork or a combination and see where the journey takes you.
I can help you plan, facilitate online classes, share videos with you and support you when you feel stuck.
Start small, stick with it and start now!
A colleague of mine was recently asked by a client “what is the point of yoga?” My colleague, who is not a yoga teacher, said she did not know how to respond and asked me what would I have said?
The point of yoga depends on who is dong it and why.
Yoga has a long history, and has changed significantly over the past 150 years. Depending on who is teaching, what their training has been and the nature of the class you can get almost anything you desire these days.
Originally Yoga was a scientific method for you to experiment with social constraints, moral principles, poses, breathing and meditation in order to become self-actualized or enlightened.
In other words you had to have a burning desire to disengage from a householder’s lifestyle and live under extreme conditions with unwavering conviction to attain freedom from a distorted sense of how things are.
Yoga was a system and methodology to guide you through the process. Usually the teacher was considered a guru.
This emphasis shifted (and continues to shift faster and faster) from the beginning of the 20th Century. In the early 1900’s yoga became more prestigious as a national “sport” for India. Yoga at this time adopted gymnastic and martial-art moves and sequences. Have you ever noticed how similar chair pose is to a squat? Or sun salutations look like burpees?
Many myths were attached to yoga’s benefits and it soon became medicalized in nature. Yoga was seen to make your body more beautiful, elegant and flexible. Meditation was to relax you and drop blood pressure levels. Breath work could basically cure any malady.
In the 21st century it takes on a whole new level of zaniness. Yoga has goats, beer, nudity and just about anything you like. In my four years as a teacher I have taught aerial yoga, Boga (yoga on a stand up paddle board), Rock your Flow, Yoga sculpt, Yin Yoga, Restorative Yoga, Yoga for a healthy back, chair yoga, yoga for athletes, cardio-yoga, Yoga Nidra and more!
While many clients are looking to yoga as something that can help them manage stress, anxiety, stiffness, imbalance and mental focus the truth is, you are embracing something whose roots are calling you to reprioritize your values.
Self actualization (maturity) starts with self acceptance and self care. These concepts are not easy for the western mind which is used to only valuing worldly achievement, being competitive and constantly judging and criticizing others.
Under current pandemic conditions forcing new social mores, political unrest and social media gone wild, many are looking for ways to navigate stressful and anxious times.
New norms, new protocols, new ideas reveal uncertainty. As a species uncertainty tends to be emotionally unsettling. Unsettled emotions tend to lead to many irrational conclusions and an existential tension. Not fun to feel in oneself or others.
To me, that puts you in the perfect place to consider yoga, meditation and breath work as tools for change.
In a word I like to think of yoga as a pause. A slowing down. An opportunity to introspect, reflect and contemplate for oneself. I believe the world needs a deeper thoughtfulness at this time. That can only come from letting go of worry and anxiety. Pausing will help you learn the art of letting go.
I can recommend some great reading for the history of yoga. Better still I recommend you start or continue with your own practice. I can support you with many resources (free yoga videos and my 9 short guided meditation cd / mp3) as well as live stream classes.
Contact me for further information at anytime.
I receive more and more requests from clients to explore meditation as a way to help them cope in these times of overwhelming social unrest, political polarization and a once in a century pandemic.
The two most common questions people ask me are:
I often shock people when I say, “Meditation is not about quieting your mind. A busy mind is not an obstacle to meditation! Nor is it something you can do. It is something you are already doing!”
These two statements have helped hundreds of my students and clients take their experience and understandings of meditations to a completely new level.
Being free of these two expectations of discovering a quiet mind and somehow forcing yourself to meditate creates a wide open space to follow the three “hows” or principles I offer. The three principles below help you fall back into the part of you that is already meditating.
In a day and age where it has become harder to slow down, reflect and relax practicing meditation can help you. You do have time. you have time to watch Netflix, spend time on Facebook and drink red wine. The time is available for meditation. It's just not a priority.
Once you start to spend time on regular meditation the benefits start to reveal themselves. Scientific studies show that meditation positively impacts the parasympathetic nervous system (relaxation response), can lower blood pressure and help mental focus.
I have even designed a ten second meditation to help those convinced they cannot find time to slow down, relax and introspect.
If you’d like more experience and practice meditating you can
On my way to outdoor yoga this morning I was listening to a yoga podcast. The host of the show mentioned the word “effort”. He made a distinction that it is the effort in the practice that is the real reward - not the accomplishment.
This resonated with me, and hopefully with my students as I shared my thoughts with them.
As we practiced I emphasized the effort to find the sweet spot in the pose and sustain the effort without overextending or grimacing. The effort, while uncomfortable at times, opened the body and mind to receive the grace of release, let go and effortlessness.
Without effort, effortlessness and ease would be meaningless. I have discovered this retrospectively in meditation, pranayama (breathing), surfing, long distance running and cleaning the house.
The art of seeking the joy of effort in the midst of struggle is true yoga.
One of my yoga teachers would say “Give everything to your practice. What your practice gives you is none of your business.”
To read more about effort go to my blog.
Don’t forget you can try some shorter classes if you are busy. Here is my alive-stream and outdoor schedule for this week.
Yoga at home is safer, cheaper, more private and way more convenient.
As I write this article there were 54,000 new US coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours reported by Johns Hopkins University of Medicine! Despite all the recommendations and even mandates by government agencies meeting in public areas is putting tens of thousands at risk everyday. You are way safer at home from this kind of exposure. As soon as gyms and bars open the number of cases spikes.
Many of my online students have reported they love the convenience of being able to connect in real time without the hassle of going out or leaving home. Live-stream yoga means no driving, no rushing home afterwards. You can stay in the relaxation generated by your practice and ease back into your life without the pack up and rush. You can do more and take up less time to get your yoga in.
Online classes are way cheaper. I work from many studios and prices range from $10-20 per class. Online I can offer a wide range of options designed for your budget. Currently a single stand alone class is $8. A set of ten classes is $65. That's only $6.50 per class. I am starting to offer memberships to my frequent flyers which will prices down even more. For a $25/month ($280 p.a.) you have a free weekly yoga class bringing your yoga costs down as low as $5.38 / class. On the Home Yoga Premium membership you pay $45 / month or $500 p.a. and have all my yoga classes free for the year.
Finally your privacy! My students are reporting they love being able to do what feels like a private lesson in their own home. People who have injuries or restrictions can adjust unselfconsciously and get the full benefits of their class. This is so important to know you can fully take care of your needs without worrying about the impact on the rest of the class.
This is what I believe is the true spirit of yoga! Listening to your body and practicing in a non-violent, non-competitive way.
How do I join your classes?
Click here to check my schedule. Then click the sign up button to register.
If you are interested in a membership contact me and I will send you the details to see if this suits you better.
This poem comes from Danny Arguetty's book Nourishing the Teacher.
To build up, dismantle first.
To expand, contract first.
To attain clarity, allow confusion.
To become civilized, first live in the wild.
The balance of all things is in their opposites;
The truth points in both directions.
Thus the clenched fist holds weakness within,
And the open hand offers the hidden power of stars..."
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Why Do Yoga at Home?
Since Covid-19 several of my clients have discovered that doing live-stream yoga is: