Dear Future Yogi

Dear Future Yogi,

I am writing you today to confirm that everything I have said still remains true. Yoga is for everyone. If everyone practiced yoga, what a wonderful world it would be. (As long as they practice all aspects) lol

There is no such thing as a "yoga body". Please do not let social media determine what your preconceived idea or notion of what people that practice yoga look like. 

Is it their clothes? Their body? Their diet?

What is your reason why you have not tried yoga? is it because you can't touch your toes? Or do you think you are too big? Out of shape? Eat meat?

Yoga is not exclusive to just women. Yoga is not only for the flexible or spiritual or plant eaters.

The yoga philosophy encourages being non-judgmental and compassionate to others and ourselves.

So, my BEAUTIFUL friends, remember that you are that. BEAUTIFUL. Inside and out. No matter what. Please do not let anyone or any social media page steer you away.

Yoga is about connecting with your individual self, body and mind. Making room for exactly where you are in that moment. Every day is different on your mat. Just like life. Some days we fall, but we ALWAYS get back up.

 This note is to reassure you that you will be fine. You will feel comfort and joy. You will laugh and sing. You will clear your mind and relax. You may touch your toes. You may not. But who's judging? No one at SUKHA. 

Throw on your pj pants or shorts. Your favorite, old sweats, a pair of leggings from Marshall's or leg warmers and a head band and get on your mat.  You may just hear "Let's Get Physical" or "FAME". 

A yoga mats job is to catch you if you fall. My goal is to make you feel 100% comfortable the second you walk through the door. And it won't stop there. That, I will promise you.

My door is always open and my phone is always on. 1-877-SUKHA-11

Love,

Maribeth 

 

 

Two Years, Two Months Community Love

SUKHA Squan is coming on the two year anniversary and SUKHA South just hit the two month mark in July.

New faces walking through the door everyday. First time yogis, some that have not practiced in years and some that have been practicing but could not find a place where they were comfortable.

Men and Women. All ages. All sizes.

I asked a few of the SUKHA men and women to write a short testimonial on how yoga has changed their lives. And I am going to share their responses with you.

"I started yoga after a serious bike injury to increase flexibility by stretching, but also enjoyed an increase in core strength which has helped my tennis and golf game. There have been many additional benefits from every instructor such as stress relief, open mindfulness and a sense of being more connected to oneself and others."-RF

"SUKHA is my first yoga experience. EVER. Not only do I feel better physically; a stronger core, great stretching and better balance, but the class and the people make me feel better mentally. The music is great and the workout is perfect. I leave the class every morning with a great outlook on the day and living"-KS

"Yoga has helped me so much with strengthening my core, increasing my flexibility and my balance has gotten much better. I can feel the difference with other workouts and playing soccer"-GF

"Yoga at SUKHA is no joke. It is a full-body workout unlike anything I have ever experienced before. Attending class is a great way to start each day and makes me feel strong and ready for anything"-RF

"Yoga is for women. That is the common perception. I have now been taking classes at SUKHA with Maribeth and her amazing teachers for two years and I have never felt better. I had suffered with chronic back pain issues for years and mostly because of yoga those issues no longer exist. My flexibility and y strength have improved greatly.  Maribeth makes everyone feel so comfortable and relaxed with her non-intimidating approach to teaching and there is definitely an incredible sense of friendship and family the minute you walk into her non-intimidating studio. I have encouraged many friends to try yoga with Maribeth and SUKHA and those who have also have become hooked. Yoga is not only for women. A true life changer!"-RB


"Yoga started because of the gym. Folks kept telling me I should try it. Of course it was
not until the class moved to a little space a mile or so from the gym that I started to go.

But at first it was about the exercise, the sweat-- -getting back into shape. And yoga is
great for that. I had already been going to the gym for almost two years. Lost 30 pounds. I lost
20 more pounds in the first 4 months of yoga.

But it wasn’t just the sweat. I was reminded of other parts of life long forgotten. Mindful
relaxation, mediation, faith that there is some joyous purpose to life, and we are all going to get there together. A focus on what you can do for yourself to enhance life, yours and those around you. A return to spirituality as a balance to the workday world of task after task after task. And because there are so many of us now on this journey a shared sense of purpose,
shared history, and shared yearnings has developed into a sense of family."-KR

"Sukha makes me feel like I've hit the reset button..physically, emotionally and mentally. And it's always good for a ton of laughs"-SB

"Sukha makes me feel like I am part of a non-judgmental community of acceptance and growth, both spiritually and physically, and to hear cool ass tunes"-CH

"Yoga makes me feel more connected to myself and to my yoga friends at SUKHA"-MD

"Sukha makes me feel happy and accomplished"-MGS

"Sukha makes me feel comfortable and strong"-MS

 

FAMILY.

FRIENDSHIPS.

FUN.

All of these three words above make me smile. My favorite "F" words. Minus one that I will only say in class! ha ha

Most of these men and women have been coming to SUKHA since day 1! Not one day a week, Not two, but three to four days a week. I am so proud of everyone of them.

Is it only about the physical practice. There is so much more. 

These men and women connected. Here. On their yoga mats for the first time.

It's amazing how contagious building a community can be. The Brick location is following down the same path. Not many knew each other. Some were so scared to even walk in. A few trembling. 

I greet them at the front desk, we chat, and connect. Then they open the curtain to make their way into the studio. Not knowing what to expect.

Well; as you all know, I hear and see everything. What is it that I hear behind the curtain?

"Hi, I am "xyz" and you are? Welcome. "Don't be nervous". "You will do great". The chatter. The welcome wagon! It is truly amazing. 

We have built a warm, loving community.

I am looking to share this with everyone.

Clients, local business owners, kids, seniors and families.

"Community over Competition". Not just in yoga. Everywhere.

What does this mean?

Community over Competition reminds us that our community is our family. They help you through tough times, give advice, have coffee or a beer and support you every step of the way. 

I think adults in our society need to hit the reset button and reprogram their thoughts and mentality. Maybe they should try yoga! ha ha. Oh shit, but wait.......

As kids, we received trophies for sports. We picked teams. Some were picked last. How heart breaking is that? These feelings carry with us forever. We were raised to compete and it has been embedded in us.

Let's hit ctrl alt del

Creating a community feels so good. The energy, the lightness, the smiles, the compassion. We are all connected and we need to continue to  embrace, love and support each other.

 

xoxoxoxo

MB

 

 

Go Back To The Basics

SUKHA "The Non-Intimidating" Yoga Studio. 

Is SUKHA for beginners only? That seems to be what people think. The answer is no. SUKHA is for everyone. Yoga is a practice for the mind, body and soul whether you have been practicing for 1 day or 15 years. We learn new poses everyday. So, EVERYONE is a beginner. No one knows it all. We are not GOOGLE.

Just like life, we learn something new every day.

Leave the ego at the door. There is no need to look for the toughest teachers and force yourself to get into the toughest pose. Why? So you can post a really fast picture on Instagram and walk out limping? 

Advance your practice by going back to the basic fundamentals.

Every teacher has a different way of approaching a pose and describing it. All of the teachers at SUKHA have a different way of teaching. We make sure everyone in the room is comfortable no matter what level.

We all have a different "personal practice". It doesn't mean we teach that way. 

We ALL modify every class accordingly based on each students level. That is what teachers do. We accommodate; modify and support. EVERYONE! EVERY CLASS! 

Open up your mind, maybe go back to the beginners mindset and be proud of how far you have come. 

There are two workshops approaching soon at SUKHA.

This Saturday, June 17th at 10:30, join Maria Preuster for a Back Bending workshop.  Learn the fundamentals as your open your heart and your mind.

Saturday, July 15th at 10:30, join Melanie for "Yoga FUNdamentals". Whether you are new to yoga, or don't know your asana from your elbow, this workshop is for you. Build confidence on and off the mat by going back to the basics. From breath work to modifications. First class or 101st class. We can all use a refresher. 

All welcome. Except EGO. They can be left at the door.

Thinking of Trying Yoga or Maybe Ditching Yoga?

After speaking to a few people this weekend about yoga and "changing it up", the feedback was "XYZ" place tore my hamstring, I was sore for days, My shoulder popped out from lifting". I can't do that again. Yoga feels better. No equipment necessary. 

Or "I don't have time to practice". You can practice in yoga in your kitchen!! #justdoit

On the flip side, many emails coming through asking "I am dying to try yoga but I am scared, I don't have an outfit, and I have not stretched in 50 years"! And the famous line "I can't touch my toes".

Well, I thought I would post a great article I found this morning to share with those who want to start, and those who are thinking about "ditching yoga".

Here you go. Happy Sunday my friends! xoxo

Thinking of Ditching Yoga? You May Want to Reconsider

By Emily Waters 

Yoga has so many mental and physical health benefits, it is hard to actually count and keep track of. Since any form of exercise is beneficial for one’s mental and physical health, the majority of individuals today rely exclusively on cardiovascular/aerobic activities, while throwing to the wayside yoga/meditation or other forms of diaphragmatic breathing designed to have a powerful effect on your body and mind. In case you need a gentle reminder and a little motivation, let us review the myriad health benefits of yoga that are designed to keep you feeling well both physically and mentally as you age well into your golden years.

  • Supercharges your brain. As little as 25-30 minutes of yoga increases your memory, attention span, focus and helps you process information more accurately and quickly.
  • Soothes stress. Practicing yoga can have immediate psychological effects. Among these are cultivating a sense of calm, and decreasing anxiety and stress. Over time, these positive mental benefits occur even when you are in your kitchen cooking a meal, and off your mat!
  • Improving flexibility. In a few studies to date, yoga increased people’s flexibility by up to 35 percent after only 7-8 weeks of practice.
  • Increases balance. Certain poses enhance balance, and in older individuals specifically can actually reduce the number of falls they have, and reduce their fear of falling.
  • Fends off weight gain. Those who practice yoga regularly gain less weight as they age than do those who don’t practice.
  • Boosts body confidence and image. Women who practiced yoga on a regular basis rated their body satisfaction higher, regardless of current weight, than those who pursued other forms of exercise.
  • Relieves headaches. Yoga reduces the frequency and intensity of various headaches, including migraines, and tension headaches.
  • Reduces depression. Studies show that yoga can lesson symptoms of depression, like feeling lethargic and overall fatigue. One reason may be yoga’s boost to GABA, a neurotransmitter that is often low in people who are depressed.
  • Protects your heart. Yoga, when practiced consistently reduces blood pressure, lowers level of harmful LDL cholesterol by almost 12 points, and lost an average of 5 pounds.
  • Promotes more zzz’s. This is really great news for insomniacs. After 2 months of practicing yoga for 45 minutes before bed, students fell asleep 15-18 minutes faster, and had more quality REM sounding sleep leading to more than a half hour longer each night in deep sleep than controls.
  • Lessons inflammation. I have written about chronic inflammation in the past that is linked with a whole host of health issues from diabetes, depression, obesity, and high blood pressure to name a few. In regular yoga practice, yoga tends to lower levels of cytokines-as immune system protein associated with this.
  • Slows aging. With yoga therapy and yoga based stretching, scientists have discovered it may lengthen telomeres-the end caps of chromosomes that affect aging, and that consequently shorten every year we age.
  • Controls diabetes. Men and women with type 2 diabetes who practiced yoga for 5-6 months saw a substantial decrease in their blood glucose levels, a recent new study found.
  • Encourages Exercise. Inactive people enrolled in some form of yoga for a minimum of 8 weeks found that this markedly increased the chances they would partake in other physical activities. This is largely due to the release of dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins all flooding your body.
  • Improves your day, and your mood. Various studies over the last 10 years have shown that yoga lowers stress including workplace stress, and promotes general well being. This zen disposition is not only visible on the outside, but the transformation is taking place from within, which contributes to a longer lasting positive effect on your health.

The list goes on and on, and this is far from an exhaustive list. It might be tempting to skip yoga as part of your exercise routine, and to shave off some time for yourself, but given all the health benefits, it might be wise to continue using it in your exercise regimen if you already incorporate it, or reconsider doing yoga alongside your aerobic activities to improve your overall mental and physical health and well being. It is important to remember that yoga is not about how much you weigh or how flexible you are, and that there are various forms of yoga suitable for different interests. As trite as the old adage sounds, when it comes to yoga, it really is never too late to start no matter your age. So get rollin!

 

Yoga, Aging and Knee Pain

We all know that yoga is a great form of exercise, both physically and mentally. It is a life changing experience.

Yoga makes us look good and feel good. 

Yoga has us glowing from the inside out.

The majority of the SUKHA family is in the 40's-50"s. But if you come to SUKHA for the first time, you would think you were in a room of 30 year old's!! You are all doing a great job!! Kudos my friends. Keep it up! 

In yoga, age is not measured in chronological years, but with the saying " You're only as young as your spine". And the amazing part of that is, you are never too old to start.

Let's face it, we are not getting any younger. We practice yoga, go the gym and eat well, but we still get aches and pains. 

The knees are most common that us old folks complain about. Including myself. Years of spin class at the gym, and running took a toll on my knees. Yoga has helped with the aches and pains. From time to time, I may have a few that I bitch to myself about, but that comes with being a 46 year old. 

Below is a great article on strengthening knees and avoiding knee pain,

Avoid Knee Pain and Injury with Yoga

BY CATHERINE GUTHRIE

There’s no doubt that yoga asks much of the knees. Done properly, asana practice can shore them up to prevent injuries and slow the progression of some musculoskeletal diseases, but practiced without mindfulness, it spells disaster for these joints. Clearly, there are just as many people who credit yoga with rehabilitating weak knees as there are determined yogis like Ray, who will themselves into complex poses and pay a big price for overdoing it. But in poses like hero pose , in which the knees can feel pushed to the edge, it’s sometimes hard to know if you’re helping or hurting them. So what’s a yoga practitioner who’s concerned about protecting the knees to do? Nothing can replace the guidance of an experienced teacher, but certain principles can guide you into a safe, beneficial practice.

Weak in the Knees

The knee marks the meeting place of three bones: the shinbone (tibia), the thighbone (femur), and the kneecap (patella). Two crescent-shaped pads of cartilage, each called a meniscus, sit between the shinbone and the thighbone and act as cushions between the bones and shock absorbers during movement. Two sets of ligaments—the cruciates and the collaterals—strap all three bones in place. The cruciates crisscross below the kneecap; the collaterals run alongside the outside of the kneecap. The leg’s substantial muscles help these ligaments keep the bones properly aligned.

Unfortunately, the knee’s mechanics are better suited to chasing animals for dinner than to sliding into second base, says Stephen Messier, professor of health and exercise science at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. “We weren’t designed to do the things we do with our bodies nowadays,” he explains. “The knee’s engineering isn’t the greatest.”

And it shows: Every year, nearly 11 million Americans complain to doctors about knee pain. Orthopedic surgeons operate more often on the knees than on any other body part; they performed more than 1.2 million such surgeries in 1996 alone (the latest year for which figures were kept).

Roughly 21 million Americans have osteoarthritis of the knee—a degenerative disease in which the cartilage gradually decays and fails to provide the shock-absorbent padding that cushions the bones. Many older people suffer from this painful arthritic condition; age is considered a risk factor, as are obesity and knee injuries.

For years, experts have touted leg strength as one of the best ways to ward off knee problems, including osteoarthritis. This is because the knee’s key muscular supports are the hamstrings—which run from the base of the pelvis down the back of the leg to just below the knee—and the quadriceps, the four muscles on the front of the thigh that (among other things) extend a bent leg. At the first sign of the disease, doctors often instruct their patients to build muscle tone and develop flexibility in the legs so as to delay cartilage deterioration and subdue pain.

But the findings of a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine in April 2003 indicate that in some cases, building leg strength doesn’t slow the disease’s progression—in fact, it hastens it. Researchers tested 230 volunteers with osteoarthritis of the knee for quadriceps strength and knee alignment, and then retested them 18 months later. The results surprised the medical community: Many volunteers with strong quads also showed rapid cartilage deterioration. But there was a catch—many of those who had strong quads and experienced a rapid progression of the disease also had misaligned kneecaps, a small but significant impairment that intensifies pressure on the cartilage.

You don’t even have to suffer from osteoarthritis for misalignment to cause problems in your knees. In fact, Messier says, “misalignment can cause injury and osteoarthritis over long periods of time, especially if you have stronger muscles that are directing the forces improperly.” If the muscular contraction between the two sides of the knee isn’t balanced, the knee rotates as it bends, which makes the joint pull toward the stronger muscle. Over time, this wears down one meniscus faster than the other and eventually damages the bone the cartilage protects.

While the study points to the problems created by building uneven leg strength, Messier is concerned that its findings will be misinterpreted. “The last thing we want to do is discourage people from getting stronger,” he says. What the study actually highlights is the importance of evenly building the leg muscles to keep the joint properly aligned—a task for which yoga is perfect.

One of the Best Antidotes

Whether you’re out to guard against injury and disease or regain strength and flexibility after an injury, yoga can be a superb antidote to knee trouble. “Yoga is fantastic for the knees, especially for people recovering from damaged ligaments,” says Michael Salveson, who has worked on dozens of yoga students during his 33-year tenure as a Rolfer in Berkeley, California. “Yoga increases the stabilizing action of the leg’s big muscles.” When the inner and outer quadriceps are equally strong, he adds, they exert an equal pull on the ligaments, which keeps the kneecap in alignment.

Sandy Blaine is a good example. As a teenager, she enjoyed dance and gymnastics. By her early 20s, she’d dislocated both knees on several occasions. Searching for a low-impact way to stabilize her joints, Blaine tried Iyengar Yoga when she was 26. She was initially surprised by the discipline’s difficulty, yet what impressed her more was how remarkably good she felt afterward. Within six months of attending two to three Iyengar classes a week, Blaine found that her knee pain had vanished. Today, at 42, she still sounds as if she can’t believe her knees are pain-free, calling the result “an absolute miracle.”

“I was looking at a lifetime of being very constrained,” says Blaine, who is now an instructor at the Yoga Room in Berkeley and regularly conducts workshops on yoga and knee health. Regaining healthy knees “was an incredible relief,” she adds.

To evenly engage the leg muscles, Blaine does chair pose with her back against a wall. She focuses on lifting her toes and pressing down evenly through all four corners of her feet. Otherwise, the outer quadriceps do all the work and old patterns are reinforced, she explains. Another way Blaine works on equalizing muscle use is by balancing on one foot with her eyes closed. “Without the orientation of the eyes, your feet and ankles have to find a true alignment to come into balance,” she says.

Robust ligaments are also essential for healthy knees. Less elastic than muscles and tendons, ligaments can give a little and bounce back to their original shape. But trouble brews when they stretch too far: Like a rubber band that’s lost its snap, they lose their shape, leaving the joint loose. Salveson, who is also an instructor at the Rolf Institute in Boulder, Colorado, compares the microtears a ligament sustains in an injury to frays in a rope; when a few strands snap, the rope lengthens. After a torn ligament heals, one side may always be a little longer and, therefore, more susceptible to reinjury. “You can make it stronger,” he says, “but you can’t make it shorter.”

Knee experts are actually divided about whether ligaments can be strengthened. “We know that you can increase muscle and bone strength,” says Angela Smith, M.D., a clinical associate professor of orthopedic surgery at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. “Intuitively, we think that the other structures of the knee—ligaments and tendons—get stronger as well.”

Blane, for one, is convinced that years of Iyengar Yoga have toned her knee ligaments. “At first, my feet, ankles, and knees were so weak that the standing poses were sheer torture,” she says. “My ligaments and muscles were strong on the outer leg and weak on the inner leg, which pulled the knee joint to the side. Yoga helped me strengthen those weak areas. It taught me how not to go with the path of least resistance.” Her ligaments used to be so weak that she once dislocated her kneecap tripping on a curb. But since committing herself to a regular yoga practice, she hasn’t suffered a knee injury in years.

You also can’t overlook the role of the joint’s supple cartilage in supporting the knee. Without regular use, the cartilage protecting the knee joint becomes dry and brittle, making it vulnerable to decay. “Cartilage is like a sponge,” says William Roberts, M.D., president-elect of the American College of Sports Medicine and associate professor of family medicine at the University of Minnesota. “When you exercise, you squeeze the sponge, which allows it to soak up nutrients.”

If you’ve ever struggled to sit between your heels in Virasana or cross your legs into Padmasana, you’ve probably felt a twinge in your knee joint. While most yoga instructors agree that sharp pain is a one-way ticket out of any pose, the answer to the bigger question of how much (if any) sensation is OK is less obvious. Roberts recommends stretching muscles, not ligaments. “Tension in the muscle is fine. Sensation directly above the kneecap is not a problem,” he says. “But if the tension is on the sides of the knees, I’d back off.”

Some yoga teachers, however, consider Robert’s warning too conservative. “It’s a controversial issue,” Blaine admits. “At some point, you’re going to have some sensation.” She advises her students to breathe through the mild sensation of stretching but to immediately come out of any posture that becomes painful.

Joni Yecalsik, a yoga practitioner since 1970, discovered Iyengar Yoga in 1988 while recovering from a torn meniscus. She now teaches Iyengar classes in Hoboken, New Jersey, and encourages her students to tune in to the subtle differences between a sensation in the joint itself and one in the muscle and to avoid anything that irritates the knee joint. “You should feel an opening sensation in the belly of the muscle,” she says, “but you don’t want to strain the tendons or ligaments.”

A focus on body awareness and allowing slow, deep openings make certain forms of yoga ideal for students recovering from knee injuries. These include Iyengar and Anusara (which focus on attention to detail) and Kripalu and Viniyoga (which focus on gentle compassion and healing). If you’re recovering from a knee injury or surgery, you might want to steer clear of practices that involve a lot of athleticism and quick transitions between asanas until your recovery is complete.

Regardless of the style you choose, make sure the teacher is knowledgeable about knees and willing to see you through the recovery process. Try to move toward a tough pose with patience and compassion for yourself and with the attitude that getting into the final pose is only the icing on the cake. Then, when you get there, your knees will be as happy as you are.

7 Ways to Protect Your Knees in Yoga

1. Avoid Hyperextending: When joints are overly mobile and flex too far back, they’re hyperextended. In the knees, hyperextension often occurs in poses in which the legs are straightened, such as Triangle Pose and seated foward bend, putting an unhealthy tension on the ligaments. If you’re prone to hyperextension, keep a slight bend in the knees during standing poses and keep your weight evenly distributed among the four corners of your feet. In seated forward bends, place a rolled-up sticky mat or towel under the knee of the extended leg or legs.

2. Start With Your Feet: Proper alignment through the feet is the key to building strength evenly in the ligaments on both sides of the knee; when all the ligaments are equally strong, the kneecap glides effortlessly up and down and the cartilage doesn’t get worn down. Separate your toes and press actively through the four corners of your feet in every pose, even inversions. If your feet are out of alignment, your knees are going to suffer.

3. Keep Your Knees in Line: When moving into deep knee bends, such as Warrior 2 and side angle pose, first align your bent knee over your ankle, then draw your kneecap in line with your second toe. Maintain awareness in your back foot, pressing down evenly, while lifting up from the arch of your front foot. “If you let the arch drop, the knee falls inside the big toe, and you’re set up to suffer a number of different kinds of overuse and acute knee injuries,” says Angela Smith, a professor of orthopedic surgery.

4. Tune in to Subtle Signals: “Oftentimes, the knees don’t give immediate feedback,” explains Iyengar teacher Joni Yecalsik. “Only later do you realize you’ve gone too far. When it comes to the knees, the sensation that would normally proceed the red flag is the red flag.” If you feel achiness when you come out of a bent-knee pose, you may have worked too hard.

5. Build Strength by Balancing: Balancing poses, especially those that require moving through a bent standing leg, such as Eagle Pose, are especially beneficial. “Very dynamic balancing protects the knee against future injury by training the functional alignment, not just working the muscle,” Smith says.

6. Be Prop-Friendly: When it comes to seated asanas, nothing makes a tight knee happier than a bounty of props. In Virasana (Hero Pose), try raising your seat with blankets or a block. Anytime the knees are deeply bent, such as in Childs Pose, pressure can be relieved by placing a rolled-up washcloth as far into the knee pit as possible before bending the joint.

7. Warm Up With Hip Openers: “If your big joints aren’t open, your small joints will always take the stress,” yoga instructor Sandy Blaine says. “Many people hurt their knees doing Lotus when their hips aren’t ready.” She recommends warming up with hip stretches like Bound Angle Pose.

Keep those knees safe!!

xoxo

MB

 

Three Steps to being a "Successful" Yogi.

Happy Monday!!

Wanted to share this great article by Ashley Colloton Loescher that was posted on Elephant Journal.

I hope you all have a great day!! Stay dry and safe!!

Our yoga practice started long before we think.

It began on the day of our birth, with our first breath. When our body was exposed to the temperature of the room, the lights, the sound of mother’s voice. With time, we continuously became more aware of when something hurt and when something felt good.

We developed an understanding of how our thoughts, words and actions affected ourselves, and others. With experience, we became more mindful of all the pieces that make up daily life.

As we all continue to learn and grow with our yoga, there will be good days and bad. So life goes, no matter what hobbies or careers we choose to pursue. As natural ebbs and flows continuously present themselves, I have learned three key principles to staying grounded and focused while remaining a successful yogi.

1. Humility.

Initially, I experienced feelings of jealousy and envy as my peers began performing more advanced postures and receiving opportunities to teach yoga. It forced me to confront my feelings of insecurity, asking myself questions such as, “Does my own self-worth lessen because of the success of another?”

I found that my discomfort came from feeling a sense of ownership and seeking attention and approval through the practice. Once I was able to identity these selfish desires and refocus on yoga in a truer sense, I was able to give credit to others and feel genuine happiness as they succeeded. I found that humility allowed me to remain unattached to the outcome.

As we gain more and more techniques and knowledge, the key is to stay humble. Avoid fueling ego, wanting or needing something from practicing or teaching. Remember that yoga is a universal language shared by all beings. Gaining knowledge of yoga does not make one superior; rather, it makes us all equal. Stay unattached to identifying with yoga and seeking ownership of something that belongs to no one.

Ways to create more humility in your life:

>> Avoid seeking recognition.
>> Give credit and praise to others.
>> Share what you know and congratulate others as they move forward and succeed.

2. Seek additional interests.

I experienced a sense of self-inflicted pressure when I first began practicing yoga. A pressure to practice and teach a lot, a self-imposed and misguided belief that more was better and made me more of a yogi.

As I began my practice of letting go of feeling attached to yoga and a sense of dependency, I began to slowly explore other hobbies with friends and family, finding peace and comfort in hiking, painting, singing and serving the local community.

When something is new and exciting, it might be tempting to identify with that new interest. Or perhaps we replace old feelings of heartache and pain with a new label. The key is to remain open. Being a “yogi” is only one percent of who we are. We are also love, light, plasma, muscles, stars and galaxies. Avoid limiting yourself to a role. You are more; you are expansive. Let that expansiveness fuel your life.

A yoga practice is our introduction to mindfulness. It is a defined time and space to pay attention to our body and breath. However, the ultimate goal is to pull this awareness into other activities. I have learned that one is not a yogi because of constantly performing postures; one becomes a yogi when they practice yoga while not performing postures.

Ways to experience yoga off the mat:

>> Volunteer in our local community.
>> Spend time in nature.
>> Sing while cleaning the house.

3. It’s not temporary.

Although I was practicing yoga in the physical sense, I would occasionally find myself speaking poorly of my peers to make myself feel better temporarily. I realized I was harming myself by trying to advance too quickly in my physical practice. I noticed a sense of addiction to exercise and postures.

This behavior created discomfort and discontent, as it was out of line with the universe’s natural rhythm of unconditional love and compassion.

Yoga in the classroom helped to create mindfulness, and I began to become more aware of the truth that there is no ultimate perfection. There is no one way it is supposed to play out. This gave me permission to let go of control. Surrendering allowed me to settle into the present moment.

There, in the present moment, we begin to learn what needs to change in our lives to align us with a sense of greater good. With this awareness, my practice no longer has a beginning or an end; it is continuous.

Yoga does not begin at the start of the drop-in class and end with the closing om. A class or book or workshop or training or recording—these simply demarcate a period of study in addition to living mindfully. They key is to implement yoga in such a way that it becomes a manageable, effortless part of our being.

Ways to integrate our yoga:

>> Do the best we can with pure intentions.
>> Surrender to the natural rhythm of the universe.
>> Smile with love and compassion.

~

Author: Ashley Colloton Loescher