Your extraordinary life

arm with extraordinary tattoo

I love this post from Amber of My Crazy Healthy Life blog.  A beautiful story of transformation and a desire to help others embrace their ‘extraordinary-ness’ and live a wholesome life.

“Make your life extraordinary” has been my mantra for the past fourteen years. Somewhere in my late twenties, I realized that regular just doesn’t work for me–I want more out of life. And so began my quest to become extraordinarily healthy. I traded in my running shoes for a yoga mat, stopped eating meat, and learned how to meditate. My new life was anything but regular. It also made me stronger, healthier, and happier than I had ever been before. Read the full post.

Namaste.

– Your Charmed Yogi

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(Photo: WeLoveIt)

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Boost your immune system with Yoga & food

supported shoulderstand yoga pose

This past weekend, a I taught a 2-hour workshop to help my students get ready for fall allergies and cold & flu season with yoga. So, I thought I’d  share it here so you can prime your body for winter health. … Continue reading

Pamper yourself with reckless abandon

Source: google.ca via Willow on Pinterest

As yogis who are after more than just the physical practice of yoga, we are spiritual seekers.  As spiritual seekers, we are open to new ideas, concepts, and most definitely introspection.  As introspect-ors, we begin to examine ourselves under a microscope, study ancient texts, and try to make heads or tails out of this mortal coil.  As we dive into ancient spiritual texts, we learn that non-judgement, non-violence, suffering, and non-attachment as philosophical principles illuminate what might once have been darkness.

Many new yogis get so caught up in consciously adhering to what’s written, that they create a new kind of tension.    Rather than allowing the transformation to happen by meditating, and bringing awareness to our actions, we can quickly get caught up in a cycle of self-judgement for not being “the perfect yogi.”  Not to mention any added shifts in energy and selflessness you experience as a yoga teacher, reiki healer or yoga therapist. Continue reading

What is Your Heart Opening Yoga Practice?

As a yogini and a teacher, I always bring my practice back to opening the heart as a way to end suffering.  Everyday, we may not even be consciously aware of what we’re doing to sabotage our own happiness.  Things like attachment, aversion, and fear creep into our lives when we aren’t even looking.

Opening the heart happens off the mat and on through asana, spiritual practice, meditation, and nurturing our creativity.    During my classes, I often end class by reading an excerpt from a meditation book I’m reading, or poem by Rumi or Hafiz, or something I’ve written myself that speaks to the moment. Continue reading

Snuggle the Struggle and Be Free

child hugging herselfWhen I first began to practice yoga and meditate, I assumed that I would immediately realize a stress-free blissful existence in which my problems and struggles would no longer exist.  I’ll let you in on a secret, that didn’t happen.

What I learned from teacher after teacher was that yoga was about the present moment, and letting go.  But even that turned into a struggle as I felt some type of resistance to being still.  I felt frustrated that thoughts and feelings other than bliss snuck into my zen space.  I thought that my job as a good yogi was to push those ‘bad’ thoughts and emotions out and only have happy thoughts.  Wrong again.  What I was doing was creating a deeper resistance and suffering. Continue reading

What the Heck is a Yoga Rave?

people dancing at a yoga raveI’ll admit, I was more than a little skeptical when the first invite came to my inbox to attend Atlanta’s First Yoga Rave.  I thought, “what the heck is a yoga rave?  now we’re going too far.”  But then I checked myself and realized I was being judgemental about a new concept before even seeking to understand what it was all about.

Then, the owner of the studio where I teach asked me if I would be one of the teacher demonstrators on stage since the studio was going to be a sponsor.  “Sure.”   There it was.  I was going to a Yoga Rave and had no idea was I was getting myself into.

The initiative was started by the Art of Living Foundation as a party alternative that doesn’t involve drugs, alcohol or smoking.  The not for profit events are happening all around the country, and all proceeds go to social projects carried out by the foundation.  Initiative such as YES! for Schools that aims to bring a healthier, stress-free lifestyle to our nation’s youth.

When I arrived at the event, the energy was tangibly positive.   No longer a fan of the bar scene or drunken debauchery, I haven’t been out to a place to just dance and cut loose in a very long time.   Being a non-drinker and a non-smoker, my idea of a party these days is going to a Kirtan or a yoga workshop, so this was a really cool change of pace.

The event started with a brief yoga flow (starring yours truly as a backup dancer.)  Then, we came to silence in a guided meditation.   At the end of the meditation, we all opened our eyes and musical duo, the So What Project! was on stage.  These guys were nothing short of amazing, and nothing like anything I’ve heard before.  If you’ve ever been to one, think of an amped-up-electronica Kirtan.  Their style combines vibrations & thousand-year-old mantras with electronic beats;  and the music was the catalyst for getting the energy in the room to a truly palpable level.

Once everyone let go of inhibitions and really started dancing and letting go, you could literally vibrate from the intensity.    If you’ve every been to a rave, you know that the primary driver for shifts in consciousness are largely chemical.  Imagine if you could achieve that without drugs, and instead let your body become a channel through which amazingly positive energy flowed.

That’s a Yoga Rave.

If you have a chance to check one out, I recommend you check your ego and just open your mind to a completely unique experience.  Isn’t that what yoga is all about anyway?

Namaste.

– Your Charmed Yogi

 

Photo credit: Atlanta Yoga Rave Facebook Page

Is Yoga Right For Me?

We can’t seem to get away from the great yoga debate that’s raging these days in every news outlet across the country – does yoga help or hurt? I emphatically believe that if a practice woman-in-yoga-seated-posehurts, strains, or stresses, then it’s not yoga. It can challenge us, help us find our edge, and raise our potential – yoga can, should, and often does all of those things. But that’s a fine line – the distinction between hurting and challenging.

So how do we know if yoga is right for us? The only way to know is to try, though there are some basic guidelines to follow when starting a yoga practice:

1.) If you’re new to yoga, seek out a class that’s labeled beginner, basics, gentle, or restorative. These classes generally have teachers who are trained to specifically help beginners get comfortable with a class. They are usually welcoming and warm environments that encourage learning and questions. You could also pick up a copy of a beginner yoga DVD. When I first started practicing, I used Rodney Yee’s AM / PM DVD all the time. It was a great primer for me and even now I sometimes take it out to review a simple, solid beginning routine. The basics always have something new to teach us. Continue reading

Awaken Your Inner Dragon

According to Chinese tradition, 2012 is the year of the dragon.   While most western myth depicts the dragon  as a fire breathing beast to be feared, eastern traditions revered the two-dragons-heart-shapecreature.  In fact, in Chinese culture, the dragon symbolizes power, wisdom and fortune and  is regarded as a divine beast.  I’ve always felt a connection with the mystical, winged, serpent.   There’s an alluring freedom, strength, and creative spark that the awakened dragon flames to life.

I had the absolute pleasure of attending an intensive weekend yoga workshop by Sean Tebor of Dragon Tree Yoga Center in Santa Fe, entitled, “Waking the Dragon.”   Through a series of non traditional asanas (poses) that harmonized yoga, creativity, and even some martial arts, we awakened our “dragonian” spines from the tips of our “tails” to our heart centers.  Like a dragon born of fire, I emerged from the experience feeling supremely balanced.  Fluid yet grounded.  Energized, but relaxed.   But, most of all I awakened with a renewed purity of mind and heart.

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Life is Like a Box of Chakras

There is more to the human body than the physical body. In yoga, we talk a lot about energy.  And, you might hear your yoga instructor refer to your “heart chakra” from time to time.   In an upcoming series, I’ll refer to various chakras, so I thought I’d do a bit about the chakra system.

Scientifically, we know that all matter is energy, and while condensed matter is different from energy, they are expressions of one another– connected.  Yogically speaking (if that’s a word), there is an energy current, a life force, that flows through and connects everything.  In Sanskrit, it’s called Prana, which means life force or vitality.  Everything has Prana; and this vitality radiates through the physical, emotional and mental realms. This force is NOT electricity, but it can be thought of as an energy current like electricity.

Continue reading