Monday, July 30, 2012

Yama: Brahmacharya

Today’s Yama is Brahmacharya, or control of the senses. I believe this one is HUGE in today’s world. From the youngest ages, our senses are bombarded with input, both good and bad. On a basic level, we control some of this input for children & ourselves with parental control on devices. We chose to block certain channels on the tv, certain e-mails, and things like that. But do we have enough control?

What junk is coming into your mind? Have you ever been watching a tv show, and thinking “this is really bad”, but you’re still sitting there, mindlessly watching. It could be that the show doesn’t align with your values, but it could also just be poorly done. And yet, we sit there, just staring at the screen. Or, a commercial comes on that’s just not what you want to see. This is the time of non-stop political ads, and the candidates are hoping their message will get through to you. Is it?

I know I’ve talked about this before, but my husband & I removed the television set from our home over a year ago. He still watches his sports, by going to watch with a friend or relative. But we don’t have it at home. We love the peace it has brought to our surroundings. We now have ultimate control over what we watch and listen to. We could use netflicks, or some other service on the laptop, but we don’t even do that. It’s a conscious choice when we watch, and what we watch.

Who are you 'following' on twitter, facebook & other social media.  Does what they say align with who you are & who you want to be?  What about at work?  Do you listen to the gossip and negativity, or do you exercise your right to walk away?

Brahmacharya can help provide mental clarity, and a more balanced mind, body & spirit. I’d like to challenge you today to try going one evening without the tv, or other devices. Just notice. Be aware of how controlling the senses changes things for you.

For more on the Yamas, see Ahimsa, Satya, and Asteya

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

What in the world is HOT YOGA?

I had a friend ask the other day, “so, is that sexy yoga, or something?” I immediately had images of the sweat that drips from my nose, and replied “No way!” But I guess it’s all in your perspective.

Hot Yoga is simply yoga with the heater turned up. We’ll keep the studio between 85-95 degrees. Many of you have heard of Hot Yoga, as it seems to be really popular all over the country. We get several calls every month, asking if anyone in the area offers Hot Yoga classes, and until now, we’ve had to say no.

Beginning August 2, 2012, Mountain Yoga will offer 2 Hot classes a week, and we hope to add more, as we see a demand. And, to introduce the Tri-Cities community to Hot Yoga, we’ll offer these classes FREE for the first two weeks!

Hot Yoga classes offer:
       -a cardiovascular workout
       -a deeper stretch
       -fat burn
       -capillary dilation, to increase oxygen in the system
       -increased metabolism
       -increased immunity
        And so much more!
For more on Hot Yoga, check out the video at, or

Classes at Mountain Yoga in Johnson City, TN:
          Thursday 7:15 pm Flow 1 & 2
           Saturday 8 am Flow 1

Special note from the teacher: mat towels are recommended, and a hand towel is a must! Mat towels are available for purchase at the studio.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Yama: Asteya (non-stealing)

Our next Yama is Asteya, or non-stealing. We discussed in earlier posts Ahimsa & Satya.

I’m pretty sure that most of us don’t rob jewelry stores. (of course, if you do, please seek help!) And most of us wouldn’t even think about shoplifting. But what about other ways of stealing? What about the pens and paper you brought home from the office, even by accident? What about eating that last cookie, when you know your spouse would really enjoy it? What about at a trade show, when you already got whatever swag they’re handing out, but you go right back for more? Are there little ways in which you are truly stealing?

Let’s look a little deeper. Are you stealing from others in any other way? Have you used underhanded ways to get promoted? Do you spend company time to surf the internet, make personal phone calls, or just goof off?

What about stealing from yourself? In your yoga practice, don’t push beyond where you’ve earned. Build a foundation of correct alignment and daily practice before moving deeper in a pose. In your daily life, give yourself a few minutes of meditation, or at least peace & quiet. Don’t rob yourself of the things that are so very important.

In what ways are you stealing? How can you begin to change that this week?
(By the way, the picture above is one I took of the Roan Highlands-not far from Johnson City-it's a great place find a few minutes of peace & stillness)

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Anxiety & Depression & Yoga

We had an awesome class today with Brooke Sullivan, RYT-500, from Asheville.  She is a ParaYoga instructor, and offered a workshop about Yoga for Anxiety & Depression.  I LOVED Brooke's class, and thought I'd share just a few of my notes with you, just in case you missed it.
Anxiety & Depression both have so many causes.  Nervous system imbalances, imbalances in the digestive system, respiratory ailments, and past trauma are just a few of the root causes that Brooke mentioned.
But one of the ways to combat both anxiety & depression is through a yoga practice.  Yoga can show us how to listen to "what's up with me".  It can help us identify specific causes of the way we feel, so that we can acknowledge and heal.  Also, by forming our bodies into the asanas, or poses, we can release & re-open portions of our bodies that have been shut down.  This allows the stories, or emotions to come to the surface, so we can effectively cope. 
A big key is the breath.  By breathing all the way down into the belly, we can free up stuck energy, and really notice how our bodies & minds feel.  A large portion of our workshop today focused on lying still while focusing intently on the breath.
If you'd like to experience more of Brooke's teachings, check out her website: to see where and when she's teaching next.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Spot-reducing Ab Flab!

Personal trainers have known for years that specific muscle exercises won’t “spot-reduce”, or eliminate fat in specific areas. But recently, the department of kinesiology and health education at Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville, set out to prove it. This 6-week study measured the body weight, body composition (percent fat) and abdominal circumference of each participant. When the study was over, the researchers found “Six weeks of abdominal training alone was not sufficient to reduce abdominal subcutaneous fat and other measures of body composition.” So, the participants had not eliminated any fat, with just the ab exercises. But they did find a significant increase in abdominal strength. So keep up those ab exercises! They may not help you lose weight, but they will get your core stronger. One of my favorite ab strengthening yoga poses is “boat”, or navasana, since it engages the entire core.

The old adage holds true, if you want to lose weight around your middle, you have to lose it everywhere. So eat right, drink plenty of water & get in that daily exercise…maybe a HOT Yoga class?

Source: Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research (2011; 25 (9), 2559-64

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Yama: Satya (truthfulness)

In part 2 of our series on the Yamas & Niyamas (check out part 1 here), we focus on Satya, or truthfulness. Again, on the face of it, Satya seems simple: don’t lie. And that’s a great place to start. Years ago, I realized that only bad things came when I lied, and in response, I made a conscious choice to stop any and all lies. While I’m not perfect with it, not lying has become a part of who I am today, and it has definitely changed my life for the better. If you find that lying has become a problem for you, I encourage you to actively work to change that habit.

But Satya carries more than simply not lying. It involves being honest with others, and honest with ourselves. When we’re truly honest with others, there’s no half-truths, there’s no hiding. I don’t suggest you go around hurting others with unkind (although possibly true) words. But to be honest with others involves doing what we say we’ll do. Honoring our words, by following-up with actions. I struggle with this. Not because I mean to, but I’m simply forgetful. My practice now, has become to get organized, so I can more easily follow-up with correct actions.

What about being honest with yourself? This is often hard. In your yoga practice, are you honest with where your body wants to be? Or do you allow your ego to push you into believing a lie? Are you honest with how you’re feeling emotionally? Often, I come to the mat, ready to work hard, only to realize that emotionally, I just can’t take that. Finally, are you honest with yourself about who you are and what you want out of life? Do you speak what is true about you? Or do you allow fear, social constraints, and other outside worries hold you back?

What is true? How can you live in a way that speaks in truth this week?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Yama: Ahimsa

We’ll begin a series of blog posts about the Yamas and the Niyamas. These are the core principles of yoga philosophy, as outlined in Patanjali’s sutras. The Yamas are restraints, or things to not do, and the Niyamas are the observances, or things to do. I find that these work very nicely with my belief in Christ, and are simply good things to remember, to make our lives better. Patanjali leaves them open to interpretation, so I will share with you a few of my thoughts on each.

Our first Yama is Ahimsa, or non-violence. Automatically, we feel a little defensive, “well, I’m not violent!” the ego says quickly. But I believe there’s more to it than that. Let’s examine non-violence toward others. Now, obviously, we’re not going to go around and beat up our fellow human. But there are other ways that we harm each other. Do we judge each other harshly? Do we hold anger? Do we gossip? Hmm…

What about non-violence towards the earth & other living creatures. Let’s make it a part of our daily lives to do what we can to treat our earth kindly. It’s become so much easier to recycle, buy green products, shop locally, and reduce our waste. Let’s also consider how we treat animals. While you and I may be kind to each animal we encounter, how are other people treating them? When you purchase meat, how was the animal raised? How were its last moments? Was it treated with respect & honor? There are plenty of resources now to find out the conditions of the farms. One farm I recommend is The Cows are Out Dairy. You can find Amy on facebook for more information. She delivers at Mountain Yoga on Mondays, and has humanely-raised beef, pork, and eggs.

Finally, and maybe most importantly, is non-violence toward yourself. This is a huge can of worms! Let’s begin with physically. In your yoga practice, do you treat your body with the respect it deserves, or do you violently seek a deeper pose? Do you continually nourish your body with healthful, life-giving foods, or do you practice violence at the drive-through? Practice Ahimsa daily by honoring your body’s needs.

Now, the emotional & spiritual level. Do you judge your every thought, every action, every move with harsh criticism? This is one of the toughest things to overcome. Practice compassion for yourself. Forgive yourself as you would a good friend. Encourage yourself. You are beautifully & wonderfully made! Do you nurture your soul with quiet time, time in study, and time in prayer?

What other ways can we practice Ahimsa this week?