Hello my Yoga loves I guess, like everyone else, I have sort of been hiding under a rock for a few weeks… Ok 2 months, but I just didn’t seem to be anything to write about that hasn’t been said by someone else and probably said better. But as restrictions due to COVID-19 begin to ease I have had many questions as to when I will reopen the Center.

But first let me ask how are you doing? Its been a Helleva ride since the beginning of February hasn’t? First the COVID virus, then everything gets locked down and then as if that wasn’t enough the horrible storms and the tornado roared in forever changing the landscape of our beautiful county and changing the inner landscape for so many individuals. But here we are slowly moving into our new normal. I am certain that your ‘new normal’ is different from mine, and mine is different from someone else’s. I have not been on social media as much lately, I get on to post a few things about work or puppies or kittens or something, mostly to see how all of you are doing, but for the most part I don’t read or scroll the newsfeed much, its sad, depressing and damned infuriating if I’m being honest. The division between us humans is getting scary, what is it about humans that makes us think ‘our way’ is the only right way? Why?

Why when faced with something they don’t believe in or that they don’t totally support, do humans have to be so visceral, so antagonistic?

Why?

Why do we seem to think that a FB meme is the truth just because it supports our particular narrative? And why do we fail to do the right thing, and before we post something so very inflammatory, why do we fail to do the research. Look at many different sources and verify that its correct and reasonably truthful, before posting.

Why?

Why is it necessary to beat up someone or tear them down to get your point across? Is it because you really don’t have a valid argument? Why call names, why create even more hate by spewing garbage.

Why?

Why not instead seek out the truth, read and research and find things that uphold your position that do NOT include hate speech or blatant falsehoods. Why not learn the noble art of debate, why not participate in friendly discourse?

Why not learn how to think for ourselves?

Why not?

Carl Sagan wrote, at length, about critical thinking and while he was mostly writing at the time about superstitious belief, I think we need to look closely at what he called “The Fine Art of Baloney Detection” and learn how to fine-tune our bullshit detectors. We seem to have forgotten how to think for ourselves and we most definitely have forgotten how to be kind.

Here are Carl Sagans rules for Baloney detection.

  1. Wherever possible there must be independent confirmation of the “facts.”
  2. Encourage substantive debate on the evidence by knowledgeable proponents of all points of view.
  3. Arguments from authority carry little weight — “authorities” have made mistakes in the past. They will do so again in the future. Perhaps a better way to say it is that in science there are no authorities; at most, there are experts. ****I would add here that ‘Authorities’ are also Social Media ‘Influencers’, just because you see it on the internet does not make it true. ..again for the folks in the back Just because you see it on the internet does not make it true…CPM
  4. Spin more than one hypothesis. If there’s something to be explained, think of all the different ways in which it could be explained. Then think of tests by which you might systematically disprove each of the alternatives. What survives, the hypothesis that resists disproof in this Darwinian selection among “multiple working hypotheses,” has a much better chance of being the right answer than if you had simply run with the first idea that caught your fancy.
  5. Try not to get overly attached to a hypothesis just because it’s yours. It’s only a way station in the pursuit of knowledge. Ask yourself why you like the idea. Compare it fairly with the alternatives. See if you can find reasons for rejecting it. If you don’t, others will. *** I underlined that part… the pursuit of knowledge, I’m sad to think it’s a dying art CPM
  6. Quantify. If whatever it is you’re explaining has some measure, some numerical quantity attached to it, you’ll be much better able to discriminate among competing hypotheses. What is vague and qualitative is open to many explanations. Of course, there are truths to be sought in the many qualitative issues we are obliged to confront, but finding them is more challenging.
  7. If there’s a chain of argument, every link in the chain must work (including the premise) — not just most of them.
  8. Occam’s Razor. This convenient rule-of-thumb urges us when faced with two hypotheses that explain the data equally well to choose the simpler.  ***Choosing the simpler does not mean choosing the most simplistic, just because it explains or supports your narrative. CPM
  9. Always ask whether the hypothesis can be, at least in principle, falsified. Propositions that are untestable, unfalsifiable are not worth much. Consider the grand idea that our Universe and everything in it is just an elementary particle — an electron, say — in a much bigger Cosmos. But if we can never acquire information from outside our Universe, is not the idea incapable of disproof? You must be able to check assertions out. Inveterate skeptics must be given the chance to follow your reasoning, to duplicate your experiments and see if they get the same result. 

Stand by your truths, but there is no need to stand on another human’s throat to prove that your truth should be theirs. I believe there is room in this world for lots of truth, many different beliefs, and certainly many varied opinions. But let’s remember to leave room for kindness.

Om Shanti

Cheryl

 

Motivate me baby

This second, we can sit down and do our work.”
― Steven Pressfield, 

Ok so now that I have a shit ton of time on my hands, apparently all the stuff I told my self I NEVER had enough time to do … well, guess what it was all a lie. I do have time and it still isn’t getting done…. It took me 4 days to sit my butt down to write this. So, what was I doing for 4 days, well the pantry looks amazing and I have managed to re-watch The Agents of Shield, again, all 6 seasons. Yea…. Oh and I am CRUSHING Candy Crush.

So, what is it about motivation? Or what causes a lack of motivation? And is it motivation we are all lacking? Yea you know I’m not the only one.

Actually, I am motivated I really am, I want to write, part of me has always been a writer, my earliest memories are of having a pencil and paper in my hands and words, like butterflies, flying through my mind looking for somewhere to land. My mother was a gifted artist, a painter and a deeply creative person and memories of my childhood are of being given art lessons from a young age. Well, I wasn’t given the lessons; it was more like I was drug kicking and screaming to the art studio on Brainerd rd. and to the Hunter Art Gallery.  To be clear I have a deep appreciation and love of the visual arts, I just can’t draw a straight line. So, every time mom would give us paper and crayons or pencils on a rainy day I doodled and wrote stories. Mostly I wrote because even my doodles stank.

But these days I can’t seem to find my voice, and I sure as hell can’t get it down on paper. But I’m working on it. I’m looking for the push, that internal drive to get up and do….anything, something.
I know I’m not the only person that feels this way. We all have plans, to-do lists, great ideas that never see the light of day, unfinished projects and still we have periods where nothing gets done.

It is possible that Motivation isn’t the problem that it could be a deeper issue, instead could it be… Dun Dun Dun Duuuun… Procrastination!

Procrastination is a complex psychological problem and it has been studied extensively and it can’t be rendered down to a simple solution. It’s not laziness!

And it’s been my experience that motivation is a manifestation of procrastination. We have a tendency as humans to look outside ourselves for answers. Throughout history, we have looked to religion and science to answer complicated questions. And “looking for motivation” is one way to think we are solving the problem of getting shit done.

This might be one person’s thoughts about losing weight….” If only I was motivated, I want to lose weight, but what is my motivation, well Summer is coming, and I want to look good in that bathing suit.” But then summer arrives, and nothing has changed and we think it is because we lacked motivation, or had the wrong motivation. Really what we did was kept putting off making the necessary changes to achieve our goals.

Procrastination!

Why do we do that? Again, it is complicated, and it is different for everyone, Psychologists have terms for different behaviors that lead to procrastination. The biggest for me are Task Eversion, Fear and arousal procrastination (which sounds better than it is) for me arousal procrastination means I work well under pressure, give me task, give me a deadline and 5 mins before its due I’ll throw down and boom, done. Here’s the problem with that it might get done, and it might get done “ok” but trust me it could have been better. Also, self-imposed deadlines don’t work.

And know that there are many other reasons people procrastinate: indecisiveness, overwhelm, stress, depression, goals that are too abstract, anxiety and perfectionism just to name a few.

And now that we are all faced with this new normal, of social distancing and being isolated at home, at least for a while, how can we deal with not getting shit done, especially now that we have the time. How can we deal with our procrastination? Here we are stuck at home and we can’t get the laundry done or clean out the garage, forget the big project for work. What can we do?

Try to figure out what your procrastination issue is. A licensed counselor, especially one who is an experienced life coach can help you.

Establish your goals.

*make sure to define your goals as clearly as possible

*make a to-do list

*Prioritize tasks based on how important they are to the finished goal

*Break large and overwhelming tasks into small and actionable pieces

* Set short term deadlines for yourself on your way to your final goals

*Identify when you’re most and least productive and schedule your tasks accordingly

*Reward yourself when you reach a goal

*Focus on your goals instead of on the tasks that you must do to get there

*Imagine how great it will feel to experience the outcomes of your work

*Avoid a perfectionist mindset, nothing and no one is perfect. And remember we learn from mistakes

What works for me is to pick one thing, one task and do it till its done, finished. If I get distracted it’s all over.

Also, If I know that one big ‘thing’ will take a long time, days or weeks even, I break it up into timed segments. That way I am still working on it, I have a deadline, and I can still break away to go fold laundry.

And Breathe…. you knew I was going to say that didn’t you? 🙂 But it does help.

Breathing on purpose, taking slow deep breaths when faced with any problem can help you to focus. Taking Breathing Breaks can give you time to clear your mind and release any stress that might have come crept into your shoulders and neck. Breathwork, Pranayama in Yoga, can bring clarity to your thoughts and help to relieve anxiety.

So, what are somethings you want to do during this time of isolation? Learn to make pasta? Improve you putting game? Finish the puzzle you started over Christmas?

The greatest thief this world has ever produced is procrastination, and he is still at large.

Josh Billings

Om Shanti

Cheryl

Here is one of my favorite paintings from my mother20200326_164701

 

 

 

A Brief History of Us

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Lately, I have been reflecting on how many years I have been teaching and as March approaches I have been thinking about my sweet yoga space, so hop in and let’s take a trip in the way back machine…. In March of 2013, I began the process of leaving the corporate world behind and taking my yoga practice full time. After many years of teaching part-time and working “a real job” I found that I was ready to take the plunge and face the risks that come with business ownership and of being a solo-preneur. So, in March of 2013 I formed my LLC and began seeing private clients at Fit One Gym. I love that place! I spent 4 + years there as the gym manager and stayed as a senior instructor even after I found a part-time job at a local bank. The bank position allowed me plenty of time to see clients and teach classes but still make just enough money to pay my bills. It was awesome. It was also verrrrry comfortable, it would have been easy to stay there, to continue to do just enough, just barely enough. But I had a calling, I really wanted to take my Yoga Therapy practice to more people and for that, I needed more time and space. And that’s when the universe stepped in and with a big dose of Shakabuku (a shift spiritual kick to the head) what I like to call ‘Gods 2×4’, we found out that our bank branch was closing and at the same time a lovely space came open at the Gym. And the rest they say is history.

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By Sept 2013 Cheryl Murman Yoga and Wellness was open for business and I began to change the name to The Chattanooga Yoga Center in 2015. Over the years I have been asked why I didn’t open a more traditional type of Yoga studio, why didn’t I hire more teachers, why didn’t I have many different types of yoga offerings and the simple answer is that’s not what I wanted.

I wanted a different kind of yoga center, a different business model. I wanted a place for people to explore movement and to allow that exploration to seeped deeply into their bodies and their soul. I wanted a space that felt safe, that felt intimate whether there were 20 students in a class or just one client at a time. I wanted a healing space, space where healing could unfold as you needed it to.

And for myself I wanted to be able to explore with my students and clients, I couldn’t do that if I was managing a studio with 30+ classes and a boutique. Many people have come and gone over the years and it seems like many more have stayed than gone. I have always been happy to watch a student grow in their practice and then move on to other styles of yoga taught by other teachers, even at other studios and have been thrilled by how many of my students have gone on to become teachers! That’s humbling for sure. You are all near and dear to me, and I know that I will never make a lot of money doing business this way, but I know that I am far richer than I could ever have imagined.Its-a-wonderful-life-2

So, with the 7th anniversary fast approaching I wanted to take time to thank all of you who have trusted me with your bodies, your spirits and with your healing process. You are all nearer and dearer to me than this humble heart can express. It’s always been a challenge for me to accept compliments but to all of you who have been coming for years, some of you have been on this journey with me for far more than 7 years, Thank you! Thank you for your trust and support.

Om Shanti!

Cheryl

What is Asana?

What is “asana”?

asana

Asana is just one part of the deep, rich practice that is yoga… but in our western culture, it is, more often than not, the only part people practice. They might occasionally use a few breathing techniques but rarely are the other limbs of yoga taught.

eight limbs of yoga

Somewhere on FB someone posted a question about what movements and poses are ‘actually’ yoga, and then that same week someone new to my classes said to me that they loved I was putting ‘pilates’ and ‘regular’ exercise in the yoga class.

The thing is for me, and this is my interpretation, and I am certain I will get a lot of push back on this, BUT I think all movement has the potential to be an asana practice…..All movement.

Jogging, pilates, hiking, trail running, weightlifting, Zumba and step aerobics. All of it can be asana. Well sort of.

Let’s look briefly at these limb of yoga and try to take into consideration the 7 other limbs (besides Asana) of yoga and see if weaving them into whatever movement you’re doing makes it yoga.

Runners have always used the term “hitting the wall” to imply the place where they can no longer run, extreme fatigue sets in and they cant finish. But most experienced runners know when they may be hitting a wall. When they feel that coming on, they actively turn their awareness back inward, to an internal focus, a concentration on their breathing, on simply putting one foot in front of the other. That internal focus is Dharana, the 6th limb of yoga, meaning concentration, a meditative focus. That’s just one of the ways that running marathons can be yoga. Let’s look at more.

Here are the 8 limbs of Yoga:

1) Yama (The ethical standards and how we live off the mat)

          Ahimsa Non-violence

          Satya Truthfulness

         Asteya Non-stealing

         Brahmacharya Right use of energy

         Aparigraha Non-attachment

2)Niyama (The inner observances)

         Saucha Cleanliness

        Santosha Contentment

       Tapas Self-discipline

       Svadhayaya Self-study

       Isvara Pranidhana Surrender to the Divine

3) Asana (posture, the poses you do on the mat or the movement)

4) Pranayama (breathing techniques/breathwork)

5) Pratyahara (The withdrawal of senses)

               “the checking and curbing of the outgoing tendencies of the mind so that awareness can be directed inwards.” ‘Swami Satyananda’

6) Dharana (Concentration / meditative focus)

7) Dhyana (Uninterrupted flow of concentration / complete stillness of mind)

8) Samadhi (Bliss/transcendence of the Self)

 

So, let’s look at our marathon runner again. To achieve that level of physical and mental fitness required to run 20 + miles, they have probably lived a yoga life and maybe didn’t even know it.

We already looked at using concentration Dharana the 6th limb, but what else?

How about the Yamas and Niyamas, Ahimsa, which means do no harm, so maybe for our runner, that means don’t over-train, and don’t neglect stretching.

Saucha, meaning Cleanliness, could be eating healthy foods that will fuel the body, and avoiding recreational drugs and alcohol.

These are just 2 of the Yoga Ethics, look back at the list and see if you can see where our runner might have use Tapas or Brahmacharya or any of the other Yamas and Niyamas.

Looking down the list at the other limbs we know our runner couldn’t be successful without having some control over his breathingthis is Pranayama.

And Pratyahara, this is the withdrawal of senses, in the case of our runner, this might be the ability to not let the rain or the heat or the bugs or the occasional dog chasing you, to interrupt your concentration.  The ability to curb the tendencies of the mind towards negative thoughts.

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So, this for me is how all movement can be yoga… because it’s really about intention. It’s about being intentional with your movements, about being mindful and kind to your body. It’s about understanding the tendencies of your mind that limit you and how to overcome them.

It’s about an understanding that your practice of movement is about so much more than just exercise. So much more than just core strength and great glutes. So, the next time you’re in a Zumba class and think you can’t finish think about these 7 other limbs of yoga and see if you can apply them to help you live your best yoga life off the mat. And in your next yoga class notice how those movements that are NOT sun salutations are in fact Yoga.

Om Shanti

Cheryl

Planning ahead, looking back

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We’ve all seen the posts on social media about whether someone is a Autumn person or spring or summer … you know the ones I mean! Well in my much younger days I thought of myself as an Autumn kinda girl. I Loved the crisp weather, cute sweaters and boots, but dammit I Love summer too, I will always cherish the warmth of the sun on my skin. And let’s be really honest we all like winter at least a little. If nothing else, it helps us to appreciate the return of spring. And come on, Spring is nice too, the new flowers beginning to bud and fresh greens from the garden, the return of longer days and brighter sun.

So I’ve decided that I don’t have a special season, a time of the year I welcome more than the others and I don’t want one. I much prefer the transitions.

I love to watch the winter slowly get brighter as the days slowly get longer. I particularly love as the summer starts to cool; the days are still warm, but the nights have are cool enough to remind you that winter is coming (a wink to other GOT fans). Have you ever noticed how during the transitions between the season there always seems to be more air movement, more breeze? I think I love the wind on my face even more than the sun…Maybe? The winds of change I suppose.

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Like the transitions during a yoga practice the transitions throughout the year can often times be more important than the season itself. During the transition from winter to spring my thoughts go towards digging into mother earth to plant fresh new life. The transition from summer to fall finds me cleaning and organizing my home and for work I spend time making plans for the new year that is only a few months away. And of course, autumn into winter is filled with holiday plans and plans for your new year’s resolutions.

As you look back at this last year in your rear-view mirror, what transitions or seasons stand out for you? And what plans if any are you making for the year to come?

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Remember that what we see in the rear-view mirror shouldn’t be judged but observed. What lessons did you learn? What expectations were you able to let go of?

Of course, looking forward through the windshield can sometimes seem so broad that the future can feel overwhelming. What can you do to make your plans for next year more “do able” and less overwhelming? By starting now to plan ahead we can have more control as we move forward with life.

Embrace the change, learn from the experiences of from your past and then move forward. Carl Jung said, “I am not what happened to me. I am what I choose to become.”  Become…..

Om Shanti

Cheryl

Be you’re own teacher

“When you are ready to see it you will see it” … “When you are ready to find it it will be in front of you”

Two simple things I say a lot to my students. Yoga has a similar phrase that goes something like this

Image result for when the student is ready the teacher will appear”

That phrase has been attributed to Buddhism and several other Philosophies and great teachers, but no matter its origin it has merit.

It can be taken in its literal form to mean that when you are ready to learn something then a teacher, an actual person will appear in your life.

Say for example that you’re thinking of taking up hiking, you’ve never been hiking, and walking in your neighborhood doesn’t count unless you live in a national forest.

But you’ve been to the park and you liked that and now you’re ready for more and then Boom, you meet someone at your Zumba class who hikes all the time and she invites you to head out up to some cool trails on the AT for a day hike and there you go. Hiking.

You were ready and a teacher appeared.

But experience has taught me that its rarely the external teacher that appears the most often, more the internal one that shows up unexpectedly.

I have a client that has some knee issues and while she is very strong and her practice has evolved so beautifully in the year we have been working together, one of her knees has been a bit slower in gaining strength. A few weeks ago, I re-introduced a movement pattern, in a different way, and she was apprehensive about doing it, but tried it anyway. It was a very simple (or so it seemed) movement but it allowed her knee to move differently and now that knee is getting stronger, even faster than it was before. And she asked me why we hadn’t been doing it from the beginning, the simple answer was she wasn’t ready. Physically her body didn’t have the strength and mentally she was still protecting the knee. The more complex answer was that since she wasn’t ready the teacher wasn’t there. She wasn’t ready to see it and so she couldn’t. It was a pattern we had tried before, just in a different way, but now she was ready, and she could see it. She was her teacher here, not me. She had to make the decision to try and she had to overcome the fear of the movement and she had to step up and step out and try.

We are all like that, there are times in our lives when we must step up, step out and face our challenges and when we are ready to do that our inner teacher shows up.

I have had students and private clients over the years who have experienced this with their yoga practice. After months (or years) of practicing they suddenly have a breakthrough in a pose. Where they couldn’t even conceive of sitting in prayer squat pose a few years ago. Suddenly in a class they try and find it more accessible than they ever imagined.

Why? Why now? What changed?

The mat is the same, the sequence is the same, hell even the teacher was the same, Me! Maybe what changed was something inside themselves. Their confidence level or their understanding of the anatomy of the movement or maybe their courage to try new things changed.

What ever the reason, they were ready, and they made the effort to change. They were their own teacher.

Remember this when life gets frustrating, when you’re in a situation that feels impossible or at the very least more challenging than you expected. Know that perhaps you are still within the lesson, you’re still learning and that someday you will be able to recognize the value of that lesson. 20/20 hindsight right!

When the student is ready the master will appear. Be your own teacher, learn to recognize when you are ready and then call on the master within yourself.

Om Shanti

Cheryl

Movement the energy of life

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When you think of exercise what comes to mind? Well merriam-webster.com has this to say about exercise

  • physical activity that is done in order to become stronger and healthier
  • a particular movement or series of movements done to become stronger and healthier
  • something that is done or practiced to develop a particular skill

but here’s the thing it isn’t “exercise” that we should be promoting, it’s movement.

Friends and I were talking the other day and someone mentioned a trainer she knows and this trainer has a lot of injuries, old and new from ‘working out’, from pushing her body to its limits. And while we can do that (esp when we are young) it will most likely come back to haunt us, in the form of damaged connective tissue, extremely tight muscles, and arthritis. But exercise is good for us you say and we have been told we should do it, need to do it, but now they tell us it could be bad for us….. sheeeshee, its hard to know what’s what anymore.

But here’s the things….. pay close attention please…

Ahem:
It isn’t really exercise we need, it’s movement. But isn’t that the same thing? Nope not really. Exercise is a specific physical activity, based in movement but movement isn’t always exercise.

Think of it this way…An object in motion stays in motion. Right?, thats just physics.

Its movement we need to stay healthy, to age well and to become stronger. And from a yoga standpoint it also about balance. The balance between too much, too little and just enough, we all need to go Goldie Locks on this idea of exercise.

We think of movment as something that happens to us, even if we are doing the exercise, we think of it as being an outside endeavor. Instead think of Movement as starting from the inside, movement in the body, movement in the breath and then moving them together, the synchronicity of movement. First, we move the body, then we move the body with the breath and when they move together then the energy within the body moves. It flows, its an ebb and tide it contracts and expands. It’s movement. From our cells flowing with prana to the earth revolving around the Sun its movement we need.

So what can you do to increase movement in your life? To make movement your lifestyle, not just some exercise you do for an hr 3 times a week.

**Walk your dog, every day.

**Play outside, with the kids, without the kids, with the dog. Make “Play” part of your life too. Climb trees, play kickball, hit some golf balls.

**If you have a job that requires sitting for long periods of time, set a reminder and get up for at least 5 mins every hour and for at least 15 min every 4 hours. Or better still if you can, get a standing desk.

**Dance while cleaning…. Crank up your favorite tunes and Dance like to one is watching. And if you find they are watching, smile and invite them to join you in the dance.

** Wash your own car instead of going through the drive-through car wash

**Limit how much TV you watch. There is so much to choose from any more cable, Netflix, Amazon, Hulu ect ect ect… that we probably spend more time surfing and “looking” for something to watch than actually watching something… If your guilty of that raise your hand

  Image result for raise your hand Yea me too!

**Keep a pair of sneakers & a change of clothes in your car in case the opportunity to walk arises… Plan for that opportunity.

**Park a few blocks away from your destination and walk the rest of the way

**Do toe raises and calf raises while standing in line at the store or bank

** Instead of meeting a friend for coffee meet at the park and walk while you catch up

There are endless possibilities for getting more movement in your life……Oh there’s one more

**Take some exercise classes several times a week, Dance aerobics, Zumba, Pilates, and of course Yoga… they are fun and you can make new friends, just be sure they are a part of the movement in your life, not the only movement.

See you at the park, I’ll be the one climbing a tree 😊

Om Shanti

Cheryl

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Yoga, 31 one Blissful days!

Join me on the mat as we take time to practice Sun Salutations for 31 days.

You have several ways to join us on this journey. 1, you can come to classes, I will be highlighting the sequence in my flow classes and variations in my Gentle classes, yes you can do Sun salute all on the floor! And my two vinyasa classes at Fit One Gym are based on the Sun Salutations. 2, You can come to the workshop I have planned for January 12, Foundations in Yoga. A workshop that helps beginners get ready for a class highlighting the SS sequence and also assists the regular student in building their practice.

But first you have to make the commitment to a 31 day practice….. On the mat, at home or in class, every day for 31 days. Can you do that. I think you can.

A home practice seems sooooo overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. Just set aside 10 mins… Yep only 10 minutes. In 10 min you can do 10 versions of the Sun Salutation and a few cool down stretches. If you don’t have a home practice use the next 31 days to build one. Here’s a few tips.

~ KISS, Keep it short and simple

               The more elaborate you try to make it the less likely you are to do it

~ Try to do your practice at the same time every day

               Schedule it. Put it on your calendar

~ Keep your mat rolled out if you can

               Less fuss, you only have to step on the mat and go

~ Create a fun, relaxing place for your practice

               If you have the space, light some candles, burn some incense and put on some                     music.

~ Track it!

               Like scheduling, tracking can help keep you focused

Check out this link to an easy tracker page, just print it out ( there are 4 options for printing, look for the “Download here US letter”

~ Hook up with a Yoga buddy

             Accountability baby! You tell them about your practice and they tell you or you                   plan to practice together.

~ Take your practice outside.

             Yes I know its January, but south of the Mason/Dixon we do get some nice days in               the winter and I love me some yoga in the woods.

So there you have it, a few tips for building a home practice. If you have others please share them on the FaceBook page. Pass your wisdom on!

Lets get started!

The Sun Salutation, or Surya Namaskara is a series of poses linked in a sequence to create a flow of movement. Each pose coordinates with your breathing: Inhale to extend, and exhale to bend.

Sun Salutations build heat in the body and are often used as warm-up sequences for a yoga practice. The components of a Sun Salutation also make up a “vinyasa” or flow yoga practice.

There are many variations of Sun Salutations. This sequence presented below is often referred to as “Sun Salutation A” (Surya Namaskara A). Consider this as the base for the other variations.

Benefits of a 31-day commitment:

* strength gains

* Increased flexibility

* Mental balance

* Increased confidence

* Greater sense of commitment

* Improved Sleep

* Increased sense of awareness

In short lots of great benefits!

The plan is simple Everyday do at least 10 rounds of Sun Salutations. You can do any version that suits you, the base practice, with or without modifications… You can ramp up version of Sun salute ‘A’ simply moving with the breath. Or you can do the Sun Salutations series ’B’ with the lunges add.

Also you can do more than 10 if you want and you can add other poses if you like as well. Throw in some pigeons (I know how much you love those) or a Warrior sequence if you like. But no what,  do at least 10 Surya Namaskara every day. Use this time to get to know the sequence better, take time to see how the poses feel in your body. Go slow, savor this time on the mat and make this sequence your own. Never rush the process, stop when you need to, modify as you go and remember this is your practice. Explore it!

Check in every day and let us all know how your doing. You dont have to be a big speech, but do pop in to let others know you  did your practice. You never know but your checking in just might encourage someone else!

I am going to pull together a few videos for you to follow I will post them on YouTube, I will drop the links on the Facebook Group page.

I can’t guarantee a video every day, but I will shoot for at least a few a week.

On a personal note I am looking forward to this, my personal practice for the last 2 + months has been very restorative and uber slow, Slow is good I’m a fan, but ‘Uber slow’ not so much…. I’m ready to re-build my strength and endurance.

So here is the first sequence ….. Surya Namaskara A

sun_salutes_A

Here are the basic poses, this sequence leaves out the lunges, that comes into play in Surya Namaskara B. I will lay that out next

Sun Salutation A also known as Surya Namaskara A

  1. Mountain Pose — Tadasana
  2. Upward Salute — Urdhva Hastasana

          ** Transition here is “Swan dive to forward fold”

  1. Standing Forward Fold — Uttanasana
  2. Half Lift or Monkey pose — Ardha Uttanasana

          **Transition here is “Step or jump back”

  1. Plank pose — Chaturanga Dandasana

           **Technically Chaturanga is a transition not a pose you hold

  1. Cobra or Upward-Facing Dog Pose — Urdhva Mukha Svanasana
  2. Downward-Facing Dog Pose — Adho Mukha Svanasana

            **Transition here is “Step or Jump forward”

  1. Half Lift or Monkey pose — Ardha Uttanasana

           **Transition here is “reverse Swan dive”

  1. Upward Salute — Urdhva Hastasana
  2.  Mountain Pose — Tadasana

………………………….

Sal Salutations B

Steps of Yoga surya namaskar sun salutation

This is basic ally the same except we added the lunges / Warrior II. I usually teach the lunge version first the on subsequent rounds I add the Warriors. But again do what feels right for you. Also in the classic SS B, the lunge is taught as you step back from forward fold and again as you step forward out of down dog… I teach it both ways. If you need more warm up time or to progress your practice at a different pace do only one lunge each round

  1. Mountain Pose — Tadasana
  2. Upward Salute — Urdhva Hastasana

          ** Transition here is “Swan dive to forward fold”

  1. Standing Forward Fold — Uttanasana
  2. Half Lift or Monkey pose — Ardha Uttanasana
  3. Step right leg back to low lunge – Anjaneyasana
  4. Plank pose — Chaturanga Dandasana
  5. Cobra or Upward-Facing Dog Pose — Urdhva Mukha Svanasana
  6. Downward-Facing Dog Pose — Adho Mukha Svanasana
  7. Step Right leg forward to low lunge – Anjaneyasana
  8. Half Lift or Monkey pose — Ardha Uttanasana

         **Transition here is “reverse Swan dive”

  1. Upward Salute — Urdhva Hastasana
  2. Mountain Pose — Tadasana

So there you have it 2 variations of the classic Sun Salutations sequence. There are many, many variations I hope we can get to some of them in the next 31 days!

 

Oh Shanti!

Cheryl

 

Change

“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”– Lao Tzu

Life can change in an instant…. One minute your waltzing through life and the next Bam! something happens and things change. Maybe its a big change, a traumatic change, a death of someone close to you or an injury that will take your life in another direction. In my case it’s been an unexpected illness. So no real trauma, but definitely unexpected. I spent 3 days in the hospital and took almost 3 weeks off from work.

I never take off work.

I rarely cancel classes and clients, as a self employed person taking off from work means money out of my pocket. So it had better be a big deal that keeps away from The Centre.

But heres the thing about change it is inevitable. There will always be changes, little changes and big changes and often we dont have a choice about some of the changes that come our way, but how we handle change is a choice. 

I learned a few things as I recovered over the last few weeks, big things and little things.

I learned that Yes I can just sit here on the couch. Oh but my monkey brain really wanted to ‘get things done’ the body on the other hand needed rest and lots of it. So I listened to what the body needed and I complied. I learned that I can be patient. Patience is not my strong suit, but I learned I do have some if I dig deeply enough.

I learned that food isn’t always a comfort. Yea I said it..! Food is not always what the body needs. I had a very difficult time putting anything, and I mean anything on my stomach. Even just little sips of water could make me nauseous. I pretty much just ate what I lovingly referred to as the maternity diet. Soda crackers and Sprite, with the occasional apple sauce thrown in. So maybe I will use this time to reassess my diet, clean it up a bit. Less fatty foods and more fruit and veggies. So maybe positive changes can come from the unexpected changes too.

 The biggest thing I learned though was about me and my relationship to breath…. 

Breathing is my happy place. Pranayama, breathing practices, are at the heart of my personal yoga practice and at the heart of my teaching. But this illness changed my breathing. I found it difficult to take a full breath, and deep breathing was out of the question. Simple little breaths were all I could managed. I sat in the hospital bed and practiced Sama Vritti. Balanced breathing with a deep mindfulness on relaxing….. well, everything. I am only just now getting to a place where my breathing practices are getting back to ‘normal’. But my awareness and my intention well that has changed.

I have had many students and clients over the years that found ‘breath work’ to be challenging and I have always (at least I hope I did)  approached their concerns with compassion and taught them from that place. But I have to admit that I have practiced Pranayama for so very long that for many years I couldn’t truly relate. I didn’t remember what it was like to not be able to breath deeply, efficiently and with a richness that breath awareness brings. I think I have a better understanding now of how difficult changing your breath must be for those new to yoga.

And the most important thing I think I learned is not to take your good health for granted and if you don’t have ‘good health’ you should try to get some. It’s never too late to start. Find a health coach, a trainer or yoga therapist who can help you. Changes in our health are probably one of the hardest things we do in life. But I give all the credit to my speedy recovery to being in pretty good health to begin with and that credit goes to yoga and to what I call being Wellness Aware and to a consistent movement based practice and to pranayama and meditation.

“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” - Wayne Dyer

There is a lot of good advice out there to help you deal with life changes, 

*Know that Change Is Inevitable. …

*Separate Your Feelings from Your Reaction. …

*Practice Mindfulness. …

But for me the simplest  way to accept change that is hard to handle is to try to look at it from a different perspective. Look for something that might be a good outcome from the change. I know, I know…. Looking at something thats well, crappy, in a different way is hard. Who out there remembers the movie Pollyanna? Yea the old Disney version. In the story Pollyanna played a game called the glad game and no matter how disappointed or sad she was she always looked for something to be glad about. She looked for the light. She looked for a something in a bad situation that she could be glad about.

Well folks I am a card carrying Pollyanna. My ex-husband & my oldest son used to call me “Pollyanna” like it was a bad thing. An insult. But its not. Seeing the good in a bad situation makes you resilient, it does not make you an ostrich with its head in the sand. Being able to look ahead and see that this new road maybe taking you in a good or better direction comes from a place of strength. It take courage to look at your current situation, this new normal, and think ‘I can make something good come of it’. And personally I think that makes you more of a realist. Always being fearful of change or resisting it causes pain and keeps you stuck in a present moment that is meant to become a past moment. A memory. 

So remember that change is essential to life, if we always resist changes that life brings, we would never begin new relationships, make new friends and meet new lovers. We wouldn’t take that job we always wanted. We might never go to the new yoga class we heard about…..  Learn to at least welcome change and to meet it somewhere safe, but outside your comfort zone.

Life is all about change and begin open to what comes next. Learn to stay focused on the positives in life. 

Embrace your inner Pollyanna!

Om Shanti

Cheryl

ship

 

The Magic of Slowing Down

FITONE

So this Article talks about something called ‘conscious movement’ …. Like it’s a new thing…..

Yea, well its not a new thing, but it is a great article highlighting the magic of slowing down.

Anyone doing yoga, pilates, TaiChi, and many other types of movement that require an attention to detail, has known about this for a long time. Back in the day, it was referred to as ‘Functional movement’ and ‘Everyday Exercise’ and of course a slower more precise movement based exercise like ones I have already mentioned were thought of as something you do once in a while to stretch or as exercise for older adults who had physical limitations preventing them from doing ‘real exercise’.

Let me be clear that when I say precise or talk about details, I am not referring to any thing akin to perfection or to the idea of a perfect alignment. I am talking about the precision or attention to detail that comes from simply slowing down enough to feel the pose or the movement.

I haven’t given what I teach a fancy name or label, I just call it yoga or movement. But even when I was still teaching STEP and other forms of aerobic exercise I taught a slower version, a more mindful way to move. And although the Mindfulness movement is fairly new (in the main stream anyway) that’s what we are talking about, Moving Mindfully.

One of my wonderful teachers calls it Subtle Yoga and I like that. It speaks of a softer, gentler way to move. A subtler approach to movement. But in our fast-paced culture where everything must be faster, harder, bigger and more complicated for you to get any real results this style of movement is overlooked or worse its degraded as something not worth doing. I remember when STEP first became a ‘thing’, it was everywhere in the late 80’s and early 90’s and it was taught (and I was trained this way) as a slower way to do aerobics that had you stepping up and off of a platform to around 125 BPM, but by the mid to late 90’s the normal BPM had jumped up to 135+… setting people up for all kinds of injuries. I had a few loud conversations with gym managers and other instructors about my classes. I kept the BPM’s well under 130 and I still do today, when I get a chance to teach. I have also taught Pilates and in classical Pilates, and in a style of Pilates known as The Method, precise movements require you to move slowly, Mindfully, but again the fast-paced folks weren’t sweating enough, so it morphed into something else looking more like boot camp classes. And guess what, people got hurt.

“Extreme soreness has become a celebrated experience in our culture, but pain is often an indication that you’ve gone too far, too fast.”
― Katy Bowman, Move Your DNA: Restore Your Health Through Natural Movement

And the same thing has happened in yoga. Yoga 50 years ago wasn’t taught in hot rooms with jumps and hops and crazy positions. Oh there were some crazy poses, well my hips think their crazy, but they were held for longer and they were taught over years, to students who practiced daily, that’s every day guys, yep people can do yoga every day… Just sayin’….. What has happened over the last 20 years or so is that our culture has once again taken the deliberateness and precision out of yoga and now everything is vinyasa. Fast paced movements designed to keep the heart rate up and burn calories. 

So what’s my point? Well there are good reasons why we need to move with more attention to detail. Moving more slowly actually allows you to recruit more muscle fibers. Moving deliberately takes a lot of momentum out the movement giving you a chance to feel how you move, to live for a moment in the foundation of the movement. In a slower paced practice, you can take time to notice the breath, to move with the breath. In a subtler practice you allow the body to move in a more natural way, increasing strength and pliability more slowly, therefore more effectively.

And the practice of moving more deliberately increases the flow of Prana through the body. Due to stress, lack of movement, poor diet and even aging, the body can become stiff. It becomes heavy and dense. And when that happens the movement of Prana, vital life force, is inhibited.

One of the reasons we do a yoga asana practice is to free up the physical body. To release tension and allow more freedom of movement, and when the body is free from tension then Prana flows more freely.

Moving slowly and holding poses for longer periods of time encourage a deeper level of relaxation. Holding a pose or a stretch for 15 to 30 seconds may feel like a stretch or that you are relaxing muscles but in reality, while the muscles may relax a little often times the connective tissue can actually begin to resist the stretch. If the posture is held for 2 minutes or longer, the belly of the muscle will begin to release and lengthen, and the connective tissue can then release old stuck energies and the result is more permanent elasticity and flexibility.

And along with that increased flexibility the Prana can begin to move and to release the mental, physical and energetic blocks in the body.

And I have nothing against a hot sweaty practice, or a practice that is intense and hard, but if that’s all you do you are missing out on creating greater balance in your body as well as your mind and spirit.

So know and understand that a slower style of yoga along with restorative yoga, practices that seem simple are not at all “beginner’s yoga, they can be quite challenging.  These practices offer significant returns on the investment of your time and more importantly your attention.

These practices may seem simplistic, but they are incredibly profound.

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Try slowing down and let me know what you think

Om Shanti

Cheryl