Are you interested in starting out your new year with 14 days of consistent yoga practice? If so, we are helping make it easy for you to fit into your daily life. Listed below are links to videos for each day. Please send us a note and let us know if you are making it happen! You do need to be a member to log on and join the challenge. If you are not currently a subscriber, please go here to join!
Day 1: Unwinding from your day: Less than 15 minutes to help you unwind and prepare for a great night’s rest. (12 minutes)
Day 2: Wake-Up Sequence: This shorter sequence is designed to wake up your body and get you ready for the day. It focuses on building heat and deep stretching through the hips. This sequence is also a good mid-day stretch if you sit throughout the day. (19 minutes)
Day 3:Wake-Up Call: not just for mornings, this sequence is designed to wake up the body in the morning (or any time of day). This sequence offers many standing poses and is good for those with sore knees and hips. (22 minutes)
Grace and Space: hen time is limited, this quick sequence is an energizing flow that both strengthens your body and improves your flexibility. (21 minutes)
Even with only five minutes, I've included many options and variations. So whether you are a beginner or have been practicing yoga for a long time, this quick sequence you will teach you how to gain strength and balance to so you can press into a handstand without the help of a wall! There are no shortcuts to the things worth having. The same truth applies to handstands. To do them well, they take practice and consistency!
A pattern: A set way in which something is done; is organized or happens. Specific instructions to guide a process. An example for others to follow. Patterns help us in our daily lives unless the pattern was created with faulty information. Let’s start with a simple example, Triangle Pose. Let's pretend you were you taught the pose just by its basic shape. The basic shape that maybe lift up your front big toe on the front foot as you inner thigh back on your back leg. (Please do not follow these instructions—they are faulty.)
"Are you the adult that you want your child to grow up to be?"from the book by Brené Brown, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead
Most of us listen with just 25% efficiency. Chances are that even when we are not speaking or on our smart phones, we are thinking about what we will say, rather then being present and truly listening to what is being said to us. This week we will dive into some practical ways to practice how to listen, love and lead well.
Whether we are talking about raising our children; who we work or volunteer with; and/or anyone of in our sphere of influence; are we the person that we want them to intimidate? Or are we still hoping someone else is going to rise to the challenge and take on the work of making a positive difference?
Active listening and being present is a lot of work. By nature, we think of ourselves first. So putting anyone before ourselves takes mindful effort—but so is anything worth having. So how do we make this a reality when we already feel pulled in so many directions?
3 practical ways:Routine. I realize that many of your schedules have to be flexible. I know my own does. So, set up a schedule with several blocks of time that will be specifically for the to-dos that have to be done for you to function. If you know that you have scheduled them into your day, it helps remove the immediate burdon of not getting some things done as quickly as you like—leaving some mind space to listen. I know that if I don't start my day off with time alone for meditating on God's Word and silence, then I will not listen to anyone else well. So, whether I end up with 2 minutes or 20 minutes, that is always in my routine. Another one for me is an empty sink before I go to bed. I know that before I lock the doors and turn off the lights, the dishes are done. So, when someone needs me to tune in and engage before then, I really work at listening to what they are saying to me.Breathe. Some days it is just hard to not try to blaze through the day. Slow your breath down and your nervous system will help with the rest. Use these moments to remind yourself of your favorite mantras or scripture verses to re-shift your focus.Expectations. When we stress ourselves out, it is because we think we are not getting what we wanted. Sometimes our short term wants or goals really aren't that important. Think long term here. Goals and intentions are great. Expectations and perspectives have the power to derail us—don't cave to the want of the moment, live the moment. I know that sounds really silly, but give it a go, you'll understand what I mean.
Learning to listen well will make ours far richer then only focusing on ourselves. I think most of us want to listen, love and lead well. I also think we tend to give up when we allow ourselves the excuse that "we just aren't wired that way" or we are too busy today, maybe tomorrow...
I also know that somedays I fail at listening. I have went through the motions, but could not truthfully tell you how the people that matter most to me really are doing. Even if they tried to tell me! When those days are over, maybe I made it through a few more items on my to-do list, but I am far less content with how I spent my time. When this happens, it is always a reminder that my short term desires are not worth living my life for, but the people God allows me to get know and share life with are.
Most of our days are busy. We live racing from one scheduled priority to another. Even if we don’t actually have places to be, often our minds are busy moving from one thought to the next, feeling as if we are still rushed.One of the beautiful things about showing up on your yoga mat, is you are given permission to turn off the busy and noise of your mind. You are reminded to turn your attention to your breath. For the duration of the class, you are to focus on two things: your breathing and your movement. Everything else can wait until the end of the class. Amazingly enough, as you begin to move with your breath, your mind begins to calm. Slowly the urge to rush is replaced with the urge to settle in to the work at hand. You become mindful of what you are doing in the present moment. Your teacher may have just led you through 20 different poses—multiple times—yet at the end of your class, when you return to the mat for Savasana (resting or Corpse Pose), you feel as if you just unrolled your mat. You were plenty busy, but you were un-rushed. We have the option to live in the moment—un-rushed—everyday. Un-rushed takes some practice, but is worth the effort. Here are a few reasons to consider changing your ways. First: how amazing do you feel to finish class, without your to-do list whirling in your mind?Second: next time you catch yourself mid-rush, take note of your breath. Is your breath fast, uneven, maybe choppy?When we live this way on day to day basis, among the emotional toll it places on us, it also affects our physical body via our nervous system. How often do you feel overwhelmed? When overwhelmed is our normal, our body cannot work as intended. Our parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) and our sympathetic nervous system (SNS) work together to help you cope and respond to daily life. For many of us, the daily stress from expectations, obligations, frustrating thoughts, even flashing lights and constant media and advertising—all activate our SNS, or "fight or flight" within our bodies. When this happens, an imbalance is created, and our PNS (rest and digest) mechanism in the body is no longer functioning as it should. In other words, stress causes your blood pressure to rise, your breathing rates increase, and the stress hormone, cortisol, which when elevated, plays a huge role the inability to lose weight and prevent the PNS from doing it's job. When I catch myself mid-rush, I do check in with my breath. God created us, and breathed His breath into us (Genesis 2:7). He knows the power of the breath. We can use our breath to help regulate our nervous system. (The whole nervous system, both the PNS and SNS, were his idea in the first place.) Next, I turn to gratitude, or a mantra/verse that I am working on taking to heart. A minute or two with my breath and a grateful heart have huge dividends in comparison to a minute or two on social media. You can give yourself permission to slow down even when your yoga mat is rolled up. Life can still be full of obligations, but that doesn’t mean you have to allow the busy to control you. You can live a busy and full life—and still live un-rushed.
When a yoga class is coming to a conclusion, the teacher typically closes class with the term, "Namaste." Because the word is Sanskrit, and many of us have only heard it mentioned in a yoga class, and typically is offered of the bowing of ones head, it throws people. What am I bowing to exactly, or why am I saying the word Namaste?
"Do not despise small beginnings, for God rejoices to see the work begin." - Zechariah 4:10
Whenever starting something new in life, from yoga to a new job, it is easy to become frustrated with how hard or slow the process seems to move. In Jon Acuff's book, START: Punch Fear in the Face, Escape Average and Do Work that Matters, he talks about what it takes to become someone who is exceptional at their craft—10,000 practice hours is a part of the magic equation. That is a lot of time.
In Zechariah, the Angel of the Lord is speaking to a man called Zerubbabel. Zerubbabel was one of the Israelite's who lived in Babylonian captivity for 70 years. Around 538 B.C., while Cyrus was King, Zerubbabel was the appointed Governor of Judah. He was the first to lead a group back into Israel. In Zerubbabel's second year back, he built an alter to the Lord, as well as laid a new foundation for the Temple of the Lord that had been destroyed by the Babylonians.
In Zechariah 4, the Angel of the Lord appeared to him in what seemed like a dream. Since everything recorded in the Bible is for a purpose, I wonder if Zerubbabel was feeling like progress was moving too slowly. Or maybe he felt like there was too much to do, and not enough qualified help to pull it off—himself included—for some reason, a conversation took place between the Angel of the Lord and Zerubbabel. And the conversation was important enough that it was recorded for us to read and study today.
Picking up something new is hard, especially when we have in mind exactly how we believe everything should fall into place. Not only do we struggle with the unfamiliarity of something new, but we also tend to battle our own insecurities.
When ever you step onto your yoga mat to practice, I invite you let go of your expectations of how you think your day and your yoga practice should look and feel. Begin each practice with leaving the rest of your life off your mat. This is a way to begin to teach your mind and heart the freedom of surrender. A small beginning, but a powerful one.
I spent the first month of 2016 in NYC for Yoga Works Teacher Training.
During Yoga Works Teacher Training (YWTT) we spent many hours reading and discussing the yoga Sutras. Many of them have similaries to scripture from the Bible, many do not. Some I think of as mindful words to help me grow in my journey with Christ, some I have just chosen to ponder, pray about, and work out what Patanjali was searching for.
God's Words are never to be added to or subtracted from. However, His Words are able to guide us in the truth when we are in need of discernment. "For the word of God is living and active, sharper then any double-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart." Hebrews 4:12 (ESV)
Never be afraid to think. God have us our minds for a reason - our mind is to use! I think for so long, the typical christian has left the hard questions to clergy, and instead of truly seeking God for wisdom when hard topics and questions arise, they just turn to their leadership. It reminds me of the Israelite's and their relationship with Moses and God. God was right there, at their camp, and aside from Moses, Joshua, was the only human that was willing to go near His tent of meeting. They didn't want to trouble themselves with the matters of God. Follow His rules, but not let Him change their hearts seemed to be their motto. With that in mind...