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Om Yoga Blog
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Experience Om Yoga and be encouraged to deepen the awareness of the body, mind and spirit bringing forth your highest qualities. Be Inspired to live daily in a way that promotes peace, mindfulness, humility and growth.
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10:55 pm

Unpredictable

I attended a yoga class several weeks ago, the day after a relationship ended as suddenly as it had begun. That morning in class, the teacher spoke of the unpredictability of life. I don't remember much else from that class – not what poses we did, what music she played, or even what more she said in particular, just that word: unpredictability. It has rung in my ears since that morning. Read More

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9:16 pm

You Might Fart: Insights for new (and not so new) yogis


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You did it: you’ve started a yoga practice. You’ve heard everybody and their brother talking about it -- friends’ friends, the babysitter, and even your 76-year-old aunt have gotten into yoga. So you said, "What the Heck? I’ll give it a shot." And here you are, embarking on a really cool new adventure. Being new to anything is both exhilarating and a little crazy, and there’s a lot you don’t know yet. To help you navigate the practice and etiquette of yoga, here are some of my top tips for yoga newbs (and not-so-newbs).

You will not be kicked out of a yoga class for wearing socks, a Hanes t-shirt, and 1970’s sweat bands.

Newsflash: Americans are a nation of consumers - materialistic achievers who really like to have their “stuff."  Yoga has not been immune to this mindset; hence, the giant success of brands like LuLu Lemon. Nothing made me sadder than the time I overheard some moms talking while waiting to pick up their kids, when one of them said, “I’d really like to try a yoga class, but I don’t have the clothes. And if I did, everybody would run the other way if they saw me in yoga pants!!”  People – I’m going to write this in all capital letters because it is so important:  IT DOES NOT MATTER WHAT YOU WEAR TO YOGA! Yes, you will see people decked out in matching ensembles, with the latest water bottle, mat, headband, and a monogrammed sweat rag. If that’s what it takes to get them off the couch and into a down dog, then great! But what you wear and how you wear it is a personal choice. The only thing that matters is that you’re rolling out your mat (or towel, or just using the floor), and practicing yoga. There are no fashion police in yoga. In fact, the traditional garb worn by the Indian men practicing yoga very closely resembles a giant white diaper. Even today, those studying Iyengar yoga often wear traditional Pune bloomers, which look a lot like a huge diaper cover. Hey, if they can wear that stuff, you can wear whatever the heck you want to yoga.  I am known to practice in mismatched random get-ups in the studio, and my husband’s boxer shorts at home when the mood strikes, god help us.  And guess what: nobody cares. Throughout my years of practice, I’ve developed a well-rounded squad of makeup-less, sweaty, ponytailed friends who know and love me for what’s on the inside – not for what brand of yoga pants I’m rocking. Yoga simply doesn’t care what you wear or look like, and neither do true yogis. So throw on some socks, if that’s what floats your boat, and get yourself to class.

Make like Darth Vadar and breathe.

The room is packed and steamy, music fills the air, the teacher is very nonchalantly telling you to lift your leg over your head, look at your butt, and wrap one arm behind your back -- and to breathe. Breathe-?! You’re thinking, WHAT?! You’re just trying to make it through the twisting, turning, and balancing without falling on your face. Breathing is about the last thing on your mind. No matter how many times the teacher cues inhaling and exhaling, many newer yoga students simply don’t think this is for them. In fact, many view breathwork as the gravy on top of the yoga practice. They get so caught up with executing poses that they nearly skip the breathing altogether, deteriorating into panting and puffing wherever it conveniently fits in.

I’m sure you’ve heard your teachers tell you that breathing is the most fundamental component of your yoga practice. They’re not lying. Here’s the deal: when you focus on cultivating and controlling your breath, your breathing shifts from the medulla oblongata to the cerebral cortex (the evolved part of the brain). This controlled, steady breath allows thoughts and emotions to be bypassed – so you can experience focus and calm awareness. If you do NOTHING else in your yoga classes, take your teacher’s advice and breathe. There’s nothing more powerful than audible breath in a yoga class, the sound of a sea of focus and calm inhaling and exhaling like the rolling of the ocean, even through the most challenging poses.  If you think, “that breathing thing is kind of stupid, I’m just here to sculpt on my yoga butt”, I beg you to give it a shot. You’ll feel fantastic, and start tapping into the energetic superhighway available to you through your yoga practice.

 A random stranger’s sweat is flying all over you. Do not panic.

I’d only been practicing yoga for about a month, when I took a really popular class. I was all set up in my little corner, with a nice 5-ft swath of open space around me, when the room began filling up at an alarming rate. I was surrounded. I looked around incredulously as yogis coolly set up their mats less than 5 inches from mine. Worse yet, one was a 6’2” Navy Seal-looking guy wearing some form of yoga boxer briefs. WHAT?!  I decided I was definitely going to complain to the management. This was crazy.  How could I be expected to practice with nearly naked complete strangers so close? It wasn’t until two years later and 200 hours of Registered Yoga Teacher Training that I realized that close proximity isn’t something to be skeezed out over: yoga is an internal practice. And besides, pretty much all asana takes place within a 72” x 24” yoga mat – so it honestly doesn’t matter how close you are to someone. So when (not if, but when) you find a stranger lift into three-point down dog and fling their foot sweat onto your mat, and when you bend into a wide legged forward fold and find your head dangerously near someone’s ass, don’t freak out. Come back to your breath, close your eyes, and be grateful for a sense of community. Then go ahead and flip your dog right onto your neighbor’s mat. 

The teacher touched you four times during class. Surely, they’re hitting on you, right?

So, you’re a new yogi, and you look up during paschimottanasana to see the yoga teacher draped over the person in front of you like a cheap suit. Say WHAT?!!  Don’t freak out – you haven’t just witnessed a private inappropriate moment, it’s just a yoga teacher assist.  One of the greatest things about yoga classes at a good studio with good teachers is the practice of assists. Teaching proper form can give you profound benefits in your yoga practice, take you into poses you otherwise may not be able to fully access on your own, and it also protects you from injury. It just happens that assists can sometimes look, well, weird. It’s important for all new yogis to know that your teacher has gone through many hours of assistance practicum, and is trained to not use their fingertips, a lingering touch, or to ever touch you inappropriately. When an assist is done well, all you’ll feel is WOW, and not OMG. If you have concerns about being touched in assists, let the teacher know before class that you’d prefer not to partake – they will not be offended, I promise.

True or False: If you lift your leg higher than the person next to you, you win. 

As a life-long Type A personality and former competitive athlete, nobody can understand the lure of physical competition better than I can. If you’re one of those people who secretly races the person on the treadmill next to you at the gym, yoga is going to be a paradigm-shifter for you. For me, it was like the moving of the Earth’s tectonic plates to get to a mindset where I finally “got it” that yoga is NOT a competitive sport. Every yogi is on a different leg of their yoga journey, and every practice looks different. It’s totally cool to be inspired by those who can do poses (with calm, steady breath) that you can’t do yet. But I remind my students, in nearly every class, to avoid the dirty, dark trap of comparing yourself to others in class.  Ego can crap up your practice really fast. I encourage my students to close their eyes as they practice, take their drishti inward, and strive to feel the poses from the inside out.  I particularly love that my studio doesn’t have any mirrors. This really drives home the integrity of the message I’m sending my students, and encourages them to get away from competing with others around them, and worse yet, focusing primarily on what they look like while they’re in a pose. This isn’t Instagram, my friends – this is real life, and yoga is an inside job.

Someone farted. And it was you.

With all the conscious breathing, inward focus, OMing and everything else, yoga can start to take on a serious modulation. I mean, you’re on your mat to achieve ultimate enlightenment and transform yourself into a unicorn, right? The truth of it is that yoga can ABSOLUTELY be a life-changing pursuit. But the tone it takes is entirely up to you. If you step onto your mat with a sense of openness and adventure, you will be delighted by what the practice can bring. If you step onto your mat with intimidation, seriousness, and dramatic expectations, you’re going to not feel too great at all. And besides, when you start getting all caught up and taking yourself too seriously, the universe has a way of putting things back in check. Case in point: while on a business trip, I took a class at a “fancy” studio in Los Angeles. These people were SERIOUS about their yoga. You could cut the enlightenment in the room with a knife, it seemed. I admit, I was intimidated. And then somewhere in the midst of a prayer twist, somebody farted. (No, it wasn’t me, but it sure could’ve been after the huge lunch I had earlier that day.) The class kept right on going, but since there was no music in the studio, it was a pretty sure bet that everybody in the room heard it. After that, it was kind of impossible to be intimidated the practice, and by what I had considered to be “superior” yogis. Nope, these were just people, and this is just life. That’s all.  It was a great class that I’ll never forget, because I couldn’t stop smiling the entire 1.25 hours.

When closing class, I love to cue my students to “turn the corners of your mouth up”.  And, as we sit in anjali mudra (hands at prayer, heart center), I love to ask my students to touch just their fingertips together. It’s a gentle, yet powerful reminder to be light. Ain’t nothin’ THAT serious, my friends. It’s just yoga. 

 
Buffy McCoy Kelly is a writer, Creative Director, and yoga teacher who loves to find the fun in stuff. Join her for class M- 6pm, Th -6pm, Sat- 8am. 

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11:06 am

Dear Yoga, Thank You!

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Thank you for giving me strength, flexibility, awareness, mindfulness, health, peace of mind and a wonderful sense of overall well-being everyday!

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1:42 pm

Living from the Heart

gregWhat does love, or living from the heart, really mean? To me it’s about creating present, meaningful connections. Not just connections to spouses and family members but also friends (human and furry) and anyone else that may cross our path.  It also means living from a place that is heart-lead, guiding us to decisions that come from a spirit of kindness, compassion and selflessness. To connect and live from the heart try some of these tips: - Make eye contact and offer a genuine smile when greeting people during the day. - Be a 'present moment' listener. In this time-crunched world we live in, giving someone your undivided time and attention is truly a wonderful gift. - Make connecting with significant others, family and pets a daily priority. After work take at least five-ten minutes to talk, listen, kiss, hug and pet (your dog…or your spouse). - Create time and space for meaningful connections. Avoid time wasters like too much Facebook, twittering, television, texting, etc. - Volunteer every now and then. - Choose a more plant-based diet. - Support local farms that utilize humane practices (if you do eat animal products). - Help a friend with something he/she ‘needs’ to get done, despite what you ‘want’ to get done. - Ask people how they are doing and listen to them first before talking about yourself. - Have a family game night. - Have a date night. There are a multitude of ways to connect. Bring your awareness to ideas and strategies that are meaningful to you, and those around you, and love and live from the heart.   By Greg LaBarbera www.ayanayoga.net  


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3:17 pm

The Yoga of Parenting

  shutterstock_34045153When I’m asked how yoga has impacted my parenting, I parse it down to one point, which every other type of work on myself has corroborated for the past 13 years. In every moment, I magnetize my own state. Translated: However I am behaving will be reflected in everyone around me, especially my kid. There are many simple examples of this popular topic. If you’re happy, people smile at you. If you don’t trust yourself, nobody trusts you. If you’re paying attention, people around you pay attention. Every day, whatever apocalypse is happening inside of you will be magnified again and again in the people near you, until you handle it. Whatever you’re feeling, see how it’s returned to you. When I’m paying attention, yoga offers spaciousness to my experience of parenting. Most of the day, I can feel it close by, but I can’t touch it. How ridiculous is it that here I am teaching specifically about spaciousness for more than 13 years and I cannot seem to get past my own animal instinct to doubt and rush and be perfect at the expense of my son’s stability and confidence? So this is what I want to share here. Parents, use your yoga to cultivate your own brand of spaciousness. What does it mean to be spacious (hold space in your own body) and how can we do this through yoga?

The other day, I had a discussion with a friend about the Handel process, a life-coaching program wherein we’ve both learned how to design consequences for our angry outbursts around our kids. While the yoga practice has opened so much for me, the Handel Group’s aim-oriented, personalized action plans were the missing piece. Both my friend and I came from families where rage was present, and coaching helps us define the behaviors, own them and evolve them. What we came to in the conversation was super simple. Your kid, at any moment, is just showing you your own face. That statement stings, and it should. Make more space in yourself and your kid will receive it and reflect it back to you. Paradoxically, this spaciousness is cumulative. When you cease doubting yourself and begin to hold that space for yourself, you are generating an indestructible quality of freedom within yourself that nobody can take from you.

“Asanas (postures) catapult us out of our habitual minds and into the vast space within” – Christina Sell, the upcoming “My Body Is a Temple.”

You’re practicing to prepare yourself for the unexpected, so that no matter what happens, you’re still the one who’s able to stand still and quietly, confidently, hold that space for yourself and for anyone nearby. You’ll catch glimpses of what it feels like to hold that space for your child, and those glimpses will become vantage points, places within yourself where you can stand and offer stability in your family, no matter what the context. As Vimala McClure describes in her book, The Tao of Motherhood, “You can manage your children with strength. Mastering your own life requires true power.” Parenting is no exception. As a parent, we magnetize nothing but our own behavior in that of our kids. If I point my finger and yell, at his next play date my 4-year-old son points his finger and screams at another child when he’s frustrated. He would never know how to do that without my example, and he’ll never know how to be masterful without my example either. And when I manage to listen attentively and sit with him so he can comfortably invite me into his mind and his realm, I get attention, kisses, hugs and hilarity returned to me. So in every moment as a parent, we magnetize our own behavior in our kids. You get it. How does yoga help? In the poses, I want to respond to my body’s resistance with patience (the spaciousness I personally need) rather than reacting with self-doubt. This allows me to be more patient with myself, and learn how to hold that patience for my kid rather than worrying about what else I could or should be doing. I then want to teach that process of holding space, which is really just a matter of learning to be expansive and more kind with myself, so the folks I’m teaching will be drawn to do that for themselves and their families. 


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4:18 pm

Yoga Becomes the Alternative to Traditional Fitness

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The Proof Is In The Numbers: Folks in the South Are Turning To Yoga For Wellness, Fitness, And A Break From Modern Day Life.

Today’s fast paced generation thrives on instant gratification, pressure to be productive, and drive for perfection. For years the same mentality applied to fitness: We looked to programs that got us looking good in the same amount of time it takes to drive through the car wash. However, a new approach is spreading through the Fort Mill area as we recognize the need for something more. We are looking for an outlet that offers total mind and body wellness when we put on our workout gear. For this reason many of us are grabbing our yoga mat rather than running shoes when we head out. Yoga has been around for centuries and practiced by many, but according to Google, “The ancient art is experiencing a renaissance, with an estimated 12 million Americans now practicing yoga, double the number of just five years ago." So, why is yoga becoming the answer for so many? Because, when you come to a yoga studio it's like coming home: you kick off your shoes, put on something comfortable, and let the day go. This is a welcome change for those of us who used to drag ourselves to a gym where we would encounter fluorescent lighting, the sound of weights thumping into the floor, and the wait for our favorite machine. Now, we can just roll out our mat and breathe. In addition to the inviting atmosphere, we can find a class and routine that matches exactly what we need. Whether you want to trim and tone up for bikini season with a power class, detox with a hot practice, or just get started in a basic class, you can find exactly what you need any day of the week. Om Yoga, in Baxter Village, offers 8 different styles of practice throughout the week to choose from. Within each class further modifications, and physical adjustments are offered by each teacher to make the practice custom fit for you. It's as though each time you walk in you are getting personalized session. Furthermore, when you practice at OM, you feel like you are out with friends. You end up taking class with the same people and building a camaraderie that is both motivating and fun. Often times, people leave in groups to catch up over coffee after class. On Wednesdays, clients can even bring a friend for free! In addition to the overall wellness gained from yoga, practicing the physical postures conditions the body in a healthy way. Each pose uses only one’s own body weight as resistance without any unnecessary damage to the joints and bones. Unlike many popular exercise fads, yoga, safely tones the body while increasing bone density, blood circulation, and detoxification. Whether individuals are seeking an alternative fitness program, a way to manage stress, or a practice that increases mind and body wellness, yoga is the ancient secret that is resurfacing as the modern approach.

OM Yoga, in Fort Mill, offers a variety of yoga classes led by a highly respected team of teachers who are dedicated to inspire, challenge and help students reach their individual goals and desires through their practice.  The relaxing ambiance and non- competitive environment provide a sanctuary from the daily pressures of a busy life. Whether the individual has been practicing for years or just starting out, he or she will find their niche at OM. If you would like more information on the benefits of yoga, or would like to plan your first visit at OM please visit our website at www.ombalayoga.com or call us at (803) 396-0493.

By Anastacia Ike-foreman


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12:52 pm

What does your path look like?

 

"When we acknowledge that all of life is sacred and that each act is an act of choice and therefore sacred, then life is a sacred dance lived consciously each moment. When we live at this level, we participate in the creation of a better world." - Scout Cloud Lee

Ever since I started teaching yoga, I’ve always loved the variety of people who come to my classes. Some of you have been on your yoga journey for quite some time, while some are just beginning. Some are working through injuries or illnesses, while others are extremely athletic and are just coming for a good workout. One of the things I love best is when students let me know where they are with their practice. It makes my day to hear how yoga is helping, as knowing your experiences helps me to provide you with the classes that will serve you best. Take a moment to ask yourself where you are in your practice right now. Where are you on your journey? The wonderful thing about yoga is that it is a JOURNEY, not a DESTINATION. I think that’s why I’ve stuck with it myself for so long…every time I reach one goal, I always have another to work towards. It keeps me coming back to my mat time and time again, and it’s so amazing to be able to look back at my practice over the years and see how I’ve evolved. And it’s also amazing to see how my “on the mat” practice has spilled into my life “off the mat.” Don’t worry if you ask yourself where you are and you don’t know how to answer. Don’t freak out. It’s normal. Many times, we fill our lives with so much STUFF that we sort of function on auto-pilot and just go through the motions of whatever we’re doing. We may show up to class, and do all the things the instructor tells us to do, but we do it with no thought to the journey we’re on because we don’t even know where we want to go. Have you ever come home from a yoga class and your body feels tired and relaxed, but you can’t remember what you did to feel that way? I love the quote by Scout Cloud Lee above, because I’ve rediscovered myself lately that life truly is a sacred dance lived consciously each moment. If we stay on auto-pilot for too long, life just passes us by. Gosh, I’ve been on auto-pilot for so long now, it’s ridiculous! Always thinking about things from my past and wishing I could change them, or worrying about what’s going to happen with my health or my family or my finances. When we focus too much on the past, that’s a recipe for depression to set in. When we focus too much on the future, that’s when anxiety takes over. Both of which are HORRIBLE for our physical and mental health. And really, when it comes down to it, we can’t get the past back, and we can’t control the future, no matter how much we think we can. But we CAN live in the present moment. I saw a great post on Manduka’s Facebook page today about practicing participation, and it’s what inspired this particular blog post. Basically, we can choose to show up, fully. We can choose to be in it, deeply. We can choose not to just follow the path, but to shape it, and take diligent field notes along the way. When we can live consciously in each moment in this way, THEN we have a wonderful story to share with others. One that is meaningful and that will touch everyone around us. And THAT is how we can be part of making the world a better place. Be patient with yourself if it doesn’t happen immediately. But make that choice. Make that choice to fully participate in your life NOW. Not your PAST life. Not your FUTURE life. You won’t regret it.

Namaste,
Melanie

My name is Melanie and I live in Fort Mill, SC. I’ve been exercising regularly for years and have been a yoga teacher since 2002. Check out my blog- SC Yoga girl

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10:24 pm

Poses that Relieve Stress

“I was a little excited but mostly blorft. “Blorft” is an adjective I just made up that means ‘Completely overwhelmed but proceeding as if everything is fine and reacting to the stress with the torpor of a possum.’ I have been blorft every day for the past seven years.” ~ Tina Fey, Bossypants Lately, I’ve been doing a weekly yoga focus, which has been receiving some great feedback. However, for December, I have decided to focus on stress reduction for the entire month. It’s so prevalent in our society at the moment that I feel it deserves to be the focus for more than just one week. As you know, the holiday season can be a time of great joy, but also of great stress. There are gifts to buy, parties to attend, family issues to deal with. All the while, we’re expected to continue doing everything else we normally do (like go to work, school, etc.). The “busyness” of everything thrown at us during this time of year can be overwhelming, and if we’re not careful, it can become detrimental to our health. Personally, this season is proving to be quite stressful for me. I can’t exactly put my finger on why, but I’m noticing that my insomnia is back with a vengeance, I’m getting short of breath and short of temper, and generally just don’t feel like myself. Two weeks ago in my blog post about starting over, I mentioned that I was going to make sure I get on my mat every day for at least 30 minutes. For the most part, I have been able to do this. I’ve only missed two days, and there have been a couple of days where I’ve only had time for 20 minutes. But you know what? It’s a start, right? At least I am getting more mat time than I have been lately, so I’ll take it! Yesterday, I started wondering, “Why am I so stressed, then, when I am getting on my mat MORE? What gives?!” I’m not sure I can answer this yet, but I do know that though yoga as a whole is a great form of exercise for stress relief, it’s essential to make sure to include certain types of poses. So for December, work on making sure to incorporate a variety of the types of poses mentioned below as a way to center yourself, and to become more mindful of the true meaning of this time of year.

  • Warrior Poses: Any of the three warrior poses (Warrior 1, Warrior 2 and Warrior 3) are great to incorporate into your practice…choosing to do all three will provide you with the maximum benefits. These standing poses encourage the building of physical strength and stamina. They are also wonderful in nurturing our internal strength, and are excellent in improving self-esteem.
  • Twists: Twists are very beneficial for the health of the spine by encouraging spinal circulation, and helping relieve blocked energy channels to the spine. Twists also detoxify organ systems. For example, digestive organs get massaged when you twist, which helps to digest, assimilate and eliminate food. Also, twisting stimulates the whole lymphatic system, which encourages it to release toxins and waste products.
  • Inversions: Inversions help our bodies in so many ways! They help detoxify and re-balance the whole body, regulate the thyroid, calm the nervous system, and improve sleep. It doesn’t have to be as complicated as a Headstand. My favorite one, that is accessible to most everyone, is Legs Up the Wall pose(Viparita Karani).
  • Backbends: Any backbend will do, but even a simple supported backbend is an antidote to our habitual posture of rounding forward, and will leave you feeling refreshed. To perform a simple supported backbend, all you need is a towel or blanket, and a bolster or firm pillow. Just lie down on your back, and place the bolster or pillow under your shoulder blades, and the towel (slightly rolled) under your neck. Bend your knees and relax your arms above the bolster or pillow on the floor. Stay in the pose for one minute.
  • Forward Bends: Again, any forward bend will do, but I love the Ragdoll version of Standard Forward Fold (Uttanasana). Use this as an opportunity to let go of all the tension in your jaws, shoulders, and head. Bend the knees if you have to, and just play with letting the back roll down and relax.
  • Centering: Always return to a pose of centering to finish your practice.  Final Relaxation (Savasana) is ideal. If you have the time, try to make time for at least 5 minutes in any pose that you find relaxing.

So what are your favorite poses to do when you’re stressed? What about other things that you do to rid yourself of stress (i.e., meditation, breathing exercises, shopping)? I love hearing what works for all of you out there in Blog Land, so please comment and share your tips and tricks. One of my hopes is that by sharing our knowledge with each other, we can truly make a difference in each other’s lives. It’s what yoga is all about!

Namaste,
Melanie


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9:29 pm

Are You All In?

“I’m letting go of everything I once was…I’m all in, I’m all in…” ~ by Toby Mac
 

In yoga, we need to focus on our journey yoga, not the destination. Easier said than done for many of us, wouldn’t you agree? If you’ve been trying to focus in your practice on the mat (or off the mat, for that matter) and have been having some trouble, remember this…it takes practice and repetition. But it also takes you making the CHOICE to do what needs to be done. You can practice your yoga poses over and over, and gain a lot of experience in the process. But until you make the choice — the decision that you are going to succeed — it’s just alot of MOVEMENT. There’s a shift that happens in your mind when you finally decide to let go and give it your all. Instead of thinking about trying to MAYBE make something happen, you think about how you WILL make it happen, no matter what. When you give your all, it’s amazing how much easier the path becomes. Suddenly, it doesn’t feel like such a chore anymore, and you stop questioning yourself so much. When you’ve given all of your heart to something, it’s easier to take on challenges that arise and persevere, because all of you is invested. Many of us start by doing this on our yoga mats. We may make a conscious decision to do whatever it takes to reduce our stress, relax more, loosen up tight body parts, strengthen weak parts. Those are all good things to start with, for sure. For me, it started back in 1999 with the decision that I needed to get on the mat to reduce stresss and sciatic nerve pain, because nothing else seemed to be working. It was torture for me the first few classes, because I had such a hard time focusing my mind on the task at hand, and I was constantly frustrating myself with my lack of flexibility compared to the other students in the room with me. But I was in it for the long haul. I had made the decision to go all in so that I could move forward in my life in such a way that made me happy and healthy. Pretty soon, I stopped looking around at everyone else in class and just focused on my teacher’s instructions. I turned my attention to my breath, noticing how it gravitated towards my tight and/or weak spots and worked at opening me up. Noticing how once I started doing that, it became easier to focus on what I was doing in the moment, instead of all the things that were stressing me out in my life. It wasn’t long before I saw this spilling over into my life off the mat. All of a sudden, I noticed I was able to look within myself more honestly, and there were some things I didn’t like. The fact that I always tend to avoid conflict, and that I am always bending over backwards to make sure everyone around me is happy, regardless of my own feelings. The fact that I shut down when things get tough. Now remember from up above that in yoga, we focus on the journey, right? Well, for me, I’m still on my journey. It has not been easy for me to make the changes I need to make. I definitely have more work to do, because self doubt constantly makes its way in. But as of late, I have recommitted to letting go of what I once was…I’m all in, so to speak. I’m saying to myself that I am worth doing whatever it takes to make my life the best it can be. On the mat and off. What about you? Will you join me on this journey? Will you take an honest look at your life and decide where changes need to be made, and then commit to doing whatever it takes to make the changes a reality? If you do, who knows what will happen? I can promise you this: no matter how things end up, you will know that if you were truly invested with your whole heart, then the result is what was meant for you. And how can that be bad?

Namaste,
Melanie

Melanie Deal, RYT-200, lives in Fort Mill, SC and has been practicing yoga since 1999 and began teaching in 2002. She earned her 200-hour teacher training certification with YogaFit and is a registered yoga teacher with the Yoga Alliance organization. Melanie is currently pursuing her RYT-500 certification through the Asheville Yoga Center.
 

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Sun Salutations

“Sun salutations can energize and warm you, even on the darkest, coldest winter day.” -Carol Krucoff In general, Sun Salutations are used to warm the body at the beginning of a practice. However, Sun Salutations can be a complete practice in and of itself. If you’ve been to one of my classes, you’ve probably heard me say many times that if you have time for nothing else, you can get a complete workout just by doing a few rounds of Sun Salutations. The wonderful thing about them is that you cover strength and flexibility all at the same time. And if you move one breath for every movement, you may feel cardio benefits as well. There are 12 basic poses that make up a Sun Salutation. These 12 or so poses linked in a series can can distribute energy (prana) throughout the system, in addition to strengthening the body and adding flexibility. There are many Sun Salutation variations you can choose from, and you just need to choose the one that resonates with you the most. If you are a beginner to yoga, try this variation as a start. If you’re preference is a more active, powerful style, try this variation instead. There are so many benefits to incorporating Sun Salutations into your practice. From a physical standpoint, they open and strengthen the front and back of the body. From an emotional standpoint, they help in bringing the body, breath and mind into balance. And from a prescriptive standpoint, they’ve been shown to help with low energy and poor circulation issues. This week in class, we’ll be playing around with making Sun Salutations our own. The wonderful thing is that you can add or remove any pose you wish, just as long as you’re moving mindfully and with your breath. In my opinion, THIS is our chance to truly explore and play. Have fun!

Namaste,
Melanie

My name is Melanie and I live in Fort Mill, SC. I’ve been exercising regularly for years and have been a yoga teacher since 2002. Check out my blog- SC Yoga girl


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