• Yoga for Parents

    We are a product of our environments.  We are a product of our parents.  Monkey see, monkey do.  What are your little monkeys observing in the day to day?  Posture is no little thing on the list of providing our children with happy, healthy and safe lives.  But, if we are constantly revolving around a sedentary life, how can we lead by example and show them how to move through this life with healthy posture?

    Since the internet and cell phones became a household and even an individual norm things have shifted, quite literally.  We sit too much, in cars, on the couch, at school and at work.  We are sitters. For the sake of our children, we need to become movers and shakers again.  For the sake of ourselves, we need to change this idea of “back breaking” work and do things with posture and muscular support that allows us to work hard without “breaking your back.”

    Two quick steps in the right direction:  

    1 Sit more. Wait, what?! Let me explain: Not on a chair, not on a couch, not with a screen and not with a slouch.  Dr. Suess rhymes aside, we need to squat.  We need to squat and work the posterior chain that gets neglected.  The backside of the body needs more attention and the spine needs that support. Six packs are pretty and all, but you know all the sayings: Don’t judge a book by its cover. Beauty is only skin deep.  Bark with no bite.  

    2 Posture, posture, posture.  This is where having a Yoga practice gives you an upper hand.  Practice at home and practice in front of your kids.  Their incredible human brain will process and digest what they are seeing.  I’ve always said it is no wonder every mother and father thinks that their child is a genius…humans are amazing!  Lead by example and show them correct posture.  Telling them to sit up straight means very little if they have never seen it before.

     If the above is a rant about the asana of Yoga then below is my little rant about the awareness of Yoga.  

     Processing information is hard, especially when you are learning rapidly, growing rapidly and experiencing heightened emotions that are relatively new.  You might think I’m talking about you at this point, but I’m actually referring to children.  When you stare at them in disbelief because they are reacting with such intensity, remember that it is all very real to them and they are experiencing those emotions inside no matter how irrational it seems to an adult.  It is very overwhelming and takes age and time to process in a more socially acceptable manner.  I know this from personal experience.  I too was once a child.  Seriously though,  often times reflection can be the easiest path to compassion.  You don’t just get off the hook as an adult either, this is a life long battle of thinking before you act or even thinking about how you act.  Yoga teaches us patience and that life itself is a practice.  One more time:  Life itself is a practice.  Practice makes progress.  Practice what you preach.  Lead by example.  Awareness.  I guess I was talking about you after all.

    By Holly Fiske

    Join Holly and Omstars for her #upsidedowniscomingtotown Instagram Challenge starting December 3rd, follow her on instagram @upsidedownmama and check out her website www.upsidedownmama.com to learn more about Holly and her beautiful clothing line!

    Watch this space for the release of Holly’s course Upside Down Yoga

  • #upsidedowniscomingtotown with Holly Fiske

    December is an exciting month for many reasons; spending time with family, enjoying the holiday season, the arrival of cooler weather and the ending of the year. Sometimes these can be challenging times when we have lots of obligations, events and plans, which can make getting on our mats or cushions a struggle. Here at Omstars, we’re always thinking of ways to inspire, motivate and bring you new courses, content and challenges!

    Enter Holly Fiske, aka upsidedownmama, mama of 2, yoga teacher, inversion master extraordinaire and eco-yoga clothes designer! Join Holly and Omstars starting December 3rd for her Instagram challenge #upsidedowniscomingtotown. She’ll be counting you down to the holidays, sharing practices to help you stay focused, challenging you to find your inner strength, as well as offering you insight into her upcoming course that releases Dec 4th, Upside Down Yoga, exclusively on Omstars.

    Meet Holly…

    What were your ideas and intention around hosting your upcoming challenge #upsidedowniscomingtotown?

    Challenges via social media reach people in an outstanding way.  People who are seeking inspiration, guidance and community.  I know, because I was one of them.  Finding fitness and yoga challenges on instagram created a physical, mental and social outlet I was struggling to find when my children were babies. Here I found camaraderie, support, knowledge and inspiration that helped me get to where I’m at today.  When I host a challenge, I know that I’m speaking to many people just like me and I want to make them find health and happiness and know that they can be and do whatever they set their mind to.  A lot of times we can look at what others are doing, their abilities and how they look and wish we were more like them.  I want people to get motivated and look at themselves, believing in themselves and conquering their wishes, happy in their own skin. Let that be the cycle. 

    What would you like participants to know about it that are thinking of joining?

    All of the poses in this challenge are designed to compliment, build or further explore an inversion practice.  Not every pose is upside down, but every pose will be supportive towards that endeavor.  This challenge is equal parts strength and flexibility, equal parts building blocks and exploring capabilities and equal parts serious and fun.  Upside down people or those seeking to explore this world…this challenge is for you!

    What can participants expect and what outcomes are you hoping to offer?

    I hope to provide a quality challenge where intentions are pure and hosts, sponsors and participants are present, challenging ourselves and supporting one another.  I expect people to be inspired, pleasantly surprised, eager to try more and be a little sore.  At the end of the day, I hope that everyone walks away taking something with them and preferably joining me some more via my online classes with Omstars!

    How does the challenge connect with or relate to your upcoming course release?

    My upcoming course series is all about being upside down but not limited to handstands.  I truly believe in my building block series and think that those who are already capable of standing on their hands could benefit from it as much as complete beginners.  I believe the winning recipe is the balance of strength, flexibility, alignment, muscle memory, perseverance and release.  The result is breaking barriers and preventing injuries.  Technicalities aside, my creative and fun side is very excited to also offer the Upside Down Yoga series.  Each vinyasa is centered around a specific inversion, incorporating progression, strength, flexibility, counter balance and of course a lot of creative good times.  You’ll find a couple poses in the challenge that represent the mini workshops I’m offering in my online class series on upside down backhanding and also my personal inversion favorite, the hollow back.  Well rounded, all levels, vinyasas and workshops!

    Well, are you ready to join or what? Download the collage above or follow Holly and Omstars on instagram @upsidedownmama @omstarsoffical. Join for 15 days of upside down inspiration and a chance to win an eco and ethical outfit from Um Stuff, Holly’s personally designed eco-yoga clothing line, as well as a 6 month membership to Omstars !!!

    To learn more about Holly, her clothing line and more visit her website www.upsidedownmama.com

    By Anna Wechsel

    Check out Omstars Feature courses for all of our newest releases

  • Yoga for Kids with Lexi Hidalgo

    Welcome Lexi Hidalgo to the Omstars family as she releases her 11 episode course, Yoga for Kids. At 16-years-old, Lexi is Florida’s youngest certified yoga teacher, who found her passion for sharing yoga with kids at a young age. Through her course Lexi shares her excitement for teaching, practicing and getting your whole family involved in the practice of Yoga. Yoga has so many benefits to offer kids of all ages and through Lexi’s course she shares her own personal insight and experience through a variety of different classes. From introductory yoga flow, to motivating meditation practices, yoga flows for young athletes and so much more. Lexi draws on her own experiences as a teacher and truly understands the physical and emotional benefits that yoga offers to young people as they transition through different stages of life. Lexi’s course shares this knowledge and makes sure everyone is having fun at the same time! 

    Meet Lexi…

    What impact has Yoga had on your life?

    Yoga has changed my life. I found yoga 3 1/2 years ago and I didn’t know it would lead me where I am now! Before Yoga came into my life I spent years involved in competitive cheerleading, and I needed change- I just didn’t know what that change might be. All through my middle school years I felt lost and had zero self confidence because I believed everything people told me. After practicing yoga consistently during the end of middle school, I finally felt a connection and love for myself that didn’t exist before.

    How did you feel after your first Yoga class?

    The first time I did yoga, I was completely in love with everything about it. Not just physically but mentally. It inspired me to become my own person and at that moment I felt that I wanted other people to have the same opportunity to experience this powerful practice, one that I knew could help people discover themselves. It was then that I decided I wanted to become a yoga teacher, at only thirteen it wasn’t something my family, friends, or anyone expected to hear from me. I was okay with it, okay with doing something different, something unexpected. After 8 years I left all star cheerleading and continued on with 7 months of yoga teacher training. The experience of teacher training was incredibly transformative for me and in those 7 months, this experience created a new and a better me.

    What was it like being on a teacher training at 13?

    Yoga teacher training not only taught me about yoga it taught me to see the perfection in people, the perfection in myself and completely disregard anything else. Being 16 I feel like I’ve discovered who I am and I know that as the years go by I will only discover and learn more about myself. Since my certification I’ve continued to have accomplishments and I don’t plan to stop anytime soon. Overall, my point in this story is that you can never be to too young or too old to chase your dreams, to reach your maximum potential. We can all change this world and I know we’re going to do it. 

    We’re so excited to have Lexi as one of our newest hosts on Omstars offering classes for your whole family. Not only is Lexi teaching young people about yoga and the physical benefits, she also invites a deeper purpose of taking the lessons they learn in class off the mat and into the rest of their day.

    To learn more about Lexi you can follow her on Instagram @lexxyoga and check out her website for upcoming events and classes at www.lexxyoga.com.

    By Anna Wechsel

    Watch Yoga for Kids with Lexi on Omstars

     

  • Navasana: it’s all about balance

    Navasana gets me every time in a Led Ashtanga Yoga class. No matter how much I practice or how many extra breaths I take on my own, I always suffer when I get to this point in the practice. Since Navasana is traditionally repeated five times it gets increasingly more intense. The first round usually ignites a mild burning sensation in the core. The last round culminates in shaking, burning and emotional anguish. Each time I jump back I feel like a survivor.

    But, you probably wouldn’t see that from watching me practice. The hidden secret of the practice is that often times what looks equanimous and peaceful from the outside corresponds with a great deal of effort and grit on the inside. Knowing how to distribute your effort most efficiently means that you will be able to maintain a balanced state of mind regardless of the challenge. Finding that sweet spot in Navasana begins by changing your focus from lifting the legs to the inner work of the pelvic floor.

    The key to finding good balance in Navasana is to orient both your effort and attention to the pelvic floor. Not only do you need a strong core but you need to distribute your weight between your sitting bones in order to feel comfortable in this asana. Translated into English as the Boat Pose, in Navasana you have to focus on building a firm hull so that your ship won’t sink.

    Start off in a seated position, then bend your knees, place the soles of the feet on the floor and keep the legs together. Root the heads of your femurs into their sockets and begin activating the pelvic floor. Allow a gentle roundedness in the base of the pelvis, in the space between the sitting bones and the tailbone. Contract the anus and the pelvic muscles and draw the lower abdomen inwards. Avoid trying to balance on the tips of your sitting bones. Use a subtle rounding of the base of the pelvis to be your connection into the ground. Especially if you have a bony protrusion around your tailbone, you will find t useful to soften into a more rounded root. Next, lengthen the torso, relax the next and straighten the arms. Then, to enter Navasana, shift your chest back  just to counterbalance the weight of your legs, come up onto the tips of your toes and inhale as your lift and straight the legs. Gaze towards the toes and stay for five breaths.

    Start your 14-day Free Trial with Omstars Today!

    By Kino MacGregor

    Practice with Kino and watch the Navasana episode of Yoga Encyclopedia

    Watch Yoga Encyclopedia for more asana tips & breakdowns

     

  • Yoga For All

    The practice of yoga means a great many things to a great many people. For some, yoga is just an exercise. For others, yoga is a path to greater spiritual understanding. For me, yoga means a practice of connection and liberation. A connection to myself through breath and movement and a larger connection to the world through consciousness-raising and activism. Yoga has taught me to see wholeness in both the external part of who I am and an internal part of who I want to be.

    A

    ccording to ancient yoga philosophy, Hatha yoga can be a complete journey to wholeness. We can develop a connection to physical well-being through asana (physical practice)  and pranayama (breath work), mental clarity through concentration, meditation and spiritual illumination.

    For a lot of us, the images of yoga have primarily focused on the body beautiful; yoga as a function of beauty and physical prowess instead of an act of spiritual awakening. But do only young, thin, hypermobile or super flexible bodies do yoga?  What about everyone else who are invited to be on the yoga mat? Although you may not always see it, everyone can do yoga. Yoga is for everyone. While not all of us practice in the same way or have the same access to the practice, at the core of this practice is simply a connection to our breath and each other. We all can do that regardless of our abilities, the size of our bodies or our socioeconomic backgrounds.

    Being able to do challenging or complicated poses is not what the practice of yoga is all about. It is about setting your soul free, making a connection to yourself and the world around you. Yoga can be a pause in your day to smell the flowers or take a walk in the park. Yoga can be a moment of quiet, compassionate self-reflection. Yoga can be a meal with friends or intense physical asana practice that gets you out of your head and feeling your body. Yoga can be stillness and quiet. Yoga can be anything that connects you to a deeper understanding of yourself and a feeling of connection to the world.

    Don’t let the images you see of yoga scare you. Know that this is only one way to see yoga, through a lens that values ability over spirituality and unity. Yoga happens everywhere.  Yes, you can do yoga. Find a class or teacher that understands what you want and need from your practice and jump in. You won’t regret it.

    By Dianne Bondy

    Click here to learn more about Dianne

    Omstars will be launching a course with Dianne in early 2018, in the meantime watch this space for more posts by her leading up to the release!

    Follow Dianne on Instagram

     

     

     

  • Do you do yoga?

    As a spiritual teacher and author, people sometimes ask me if I “do yoga.” I never know exactly how to answer that question. There’s so much I want to say and so little time to say it.

    So, I usually just say, “Yes! Yes, I do yoga. Sat nam!” And then I namaste and walk away. Ha ha!

    I’ve always found that question fascinating, though… and difficult to answer. And the more I’ve thought about it, the more I’ve realized just why it’s so fascinating… and difficult to answer: it’s a loaded question. It’s a question that exposes so many misconceptions – and truths! – about yoga… and Life, too.

    So, what follows is my list of the “Top 10 Myths About Real Yoga” – the pure essence of yoga – as I see it, and the “Top 10 Truths About Real Yoga,” accordingly.

    Of course, we could just as well call it, “Top Ten Reasons Why Rob Has That Funny Look on His Face Every Time Somebody Asks Him the Yoga Question,” but that’s just way too long and way too confusing a title. Ha ha!

    Drum roll, please…

    (Myth #10) Yoga is physical.

    Truth: Yoga isn’t physical – it’s non-physical. It’s not of the body – it’s seeing through (the illusion of) the body to your true Self.

    (Myth #9) Yoga is movement.

    Truth: Yoga is not movement – it’s Stillness itself. It’s not asanas or postures. The real posture and the real asana – Stillness – is inside you. (And there’s no inside or outside, but let’s save that for later…)

    (Myth #8a) Yoga is you doing something.

    Truth: Yoga is not you – or anybody else, for that matter – doing anything.

    Yoga not a doing – it’s a non-doing. In yoga, there is no doing and there is no do-er, either. There’s no-body who does anything.

    Yoga is the “I’m not the doer” consciousness or attitude, no matter what’s being done or not done… with or without the body.

    (Myth #8b) Yoga is effort.

    Truth: Yoga is not effort – it is non-effort. It is effortlessness.

    Yoga is surrender, total surrender. It’s resting and relaxing – resting and relaxing in Self, Soul, God. It’s eternal rest and infinite relaxation.

    (Myth #7) Yoga is mental.

    Truth: Yoga is not mental – it’s seeing through the veil of thoughts, opinions, judgments and beliefs to your real Self.

    Yoga is not thinking – it’s above thinking and beyond thinking. It’s non-thinking.

    (Myth #6) Yoga is knowing something or learning something new.

    Truth: Yoga is not knowing anything or learning something new – it’s UNlearning everything and UNknowing everything. It’s a Cloud of Forgetting, a Cloud of Unknowing.

    Yoga is not a class or course you take with other people, even if you’re in a class or course with other people. Yoga is an UNclass in Life itself; it is the ultimate UNcourse in Solitude itself. And it is a required UNcourse. Nobody can opt out of this UNcourse because it’s the only UNcourse/UNclass being taught. You can’t drop out, but you can, of course, sleep through it… and hence, repeat it over and over again until you wake up.

    (Myth #5) Yoga is mantras and chants.

    Truth: Yoga is not mantras, chants, or japa – It’s Silence itself. And that Silence speaks, that Silence shouts, that Silence sings!

    (Myth #4) Yoga has different forms.

    Truth: Yoga has nothing to do with form – not with your form or with anybody else’s form – it’s formless, Formlessness itself.

    (Myth #3a) Yoga is achieving, accomplishing, or acquiring something new.

    Truth: Yoga is not achieving, accomplishing, or acquiring anything at all – It’s Presence itself.

    (Myth #3b) Yoga is a way to achieve, accomplish, or attain peace, happiness, and love.

    Truth: Yoga is not even a way of attaining, achieving, or accomplishing peace, love, bliss, nirvana, samadhi, or enlightenment.

    Yoga is realizing, remembering, and recognizing that there’s nothing to attain, achieve, or accomplish whatsoever, not even “spiritual things.”

    Yoga is the non-striving, non-struggling, non-ambitious Awareness that’s always at home in the Self, always enthroned in the kingdom of God.

    Yoga is the “That which you seek, you already are” consciousness (without the thought as such).

    Yoga is Awareness itself – Christ-Consciousness, Buddha-Mind itself.

    Yoga is Peace, Love, Bliss, Nirvana, Samadhi, and Enlightenment itself.

    Yoga is total non-seeking, non-striving, non-struggling. It’s total surrender of all fear and all desire. And in that total surrender of all to All-That-Is (which you are), there is total fulfillment. In complete fulfillment, there is no fear and no desire whatsoever.

    (Myth #2) Yoga is self-improvement.

    Truth: Yoga is not self-improvement – it’s Self-love, Self-acceptance, and Self-abidance.

    And yet, yoga is not even Self-acceptance, Self-love or Self-abidance, because there’s not two; there’s just One. There’s no-body and no-thing to love, accept or abide and no-body and no-thing to be loved, accepted, or abided in.

    Yoga is practicing the presence of that One, of God, of your Self (God).

    There’s nobody and nothing to improve, nobody and nothing to do the improving, and no improvement at all.

    (Myth #1a) Yoga is about becoming more spiritual.

    Truth: Yoga is not about becoming more spiritual – it’s abiding as Spirit itself. You can’t become any more spiritual – you’re 100% Spirit itself, and you’re simply dreaming you’re not.

    (Myth #1b) Yoga is a way to God.

    Truth: Yoga is not a way or path to God – it is Oneness with God, your Self itself.

    Yoga is so sweet and simple:  It’s simply being – remaining as, abiding as – your Self. It’s remaining as you already are – at home, in the kingdom of God, as thoughtless awareness, as mindless consciousness – and letting the rest be added.

    It’s being what you already are: One with Source itself. You are – Consciousness itself is – the Source of everything.

    (Myth #1c) Yoga is union with God.

    Truth: Yoga is not union with God or anything else, for that matter, because there’s no-thing and no-body outside your Self to unite with. You are already One with All That Is.

    Yoga is simply Being, full-stop. It’s being Everything and No-Thing all at once without effort at all.

    Yoga is the experience-less experience, the state-less state, the pathless path of the Self. It is abiding as the formless, infinite, eternal, Omnipresent, Omnipotent, Omniscient Self: God Self. And in God – Self, Atman, Brahman, Christ, Buddha, Mohammed, Moses, Lao Tzu, whatever – you find that nothing is desired and nothing is lacking. It contains – is – All. There is nothing that is not included in it.

    Yoga is knowing, “You are not in the world; the world is in You.”

    So, back to the question…In one sense, then, no, I don’t “do yoga.” And neither do you. No-body does. I don’t “do yoga” – I AM yoga.” And so are you. And so is everyone. And in another sense, yes, I “do yoga,” and I’m always “doing yoga,” because I AM always abiding as the Self. There no-thing and no-body else to abide as or be… and there’s, quite simply, nothing else to do! It’s the only game in town.

    In the simplest terms, “practicing yoga” is practicing Presence itself: the Presence of God, the Presence of my Self, the One Self and Soul we all are. I’m always on the mat, as are you, because the mat is the world – our jobs, our relationships, our politics, our religions, our everything. We are always doing yoga; we are always practicing the Presence – the Presence of our Self, God, Awareness – no matter what else we’re doing.

    Sometimes we are consciously aware of this fact and sometimes we are not. Being aware of it – being aware of your Self, of Presence itself – IS yoga. And it IS meditation.

    You ARE yoga; you ARE meditation.

    Just stop and see. Just stop and be!

    Whatever you’re doing or not doing on the outside, on the “inside” just be.

    Just Be.

    “I AM that I AM” – that’s yoga.

    By Rob Mack

    Rob is the author of Happiness from the inside out. We’ll be releasing a new 8 episode course, ‘How to become a rich yogi’ with Rob next week, only on Omstars, so stay tuned!

    Learn more about Rob

    Follow him on Instagram

  • The Yogi Assignment Book Review: Bringing Our Yoga Practice to Life: The Challenge is Real

    It’s not always clear how the asana yoga practice makes us better people or our world any more peaceful. At least, not in a way that is easily put into words.

    Certainly, in looking back over the past decade plus I’ve been practicing, the changes are far more than just physical – still, it’s not so simple to explain that connection. Add social media in there, and now the whole idea that yoga asana is even remotely spiritual … well, it’s more than just confusing.

    For example, I made the mistake of watching the start of the first awful episode of Yoga Girls, a show that is not a parody (as much as I’d hoped) and rather, an attempted reality show, pitting the Instafamous yogis (as in, legends-in-their-own-lunchtime kind) with Traditionalists (the kind that apparently don’t mind reality T.V. shows). I only lasted 15 minutes, but it was really a terrible 15 minutes I can never get back.

    Anyway, then I pick up Kino MacGregor’s new book, The Yogi Assignment.

    Kino MacGregor

    THE TRUE-TO-LIFE YOGA GIRL.

    Kino happens to be one of the most celebrated Ashtanga yoga teachers on social media, with over a million followers on Instagram alone. In fact, the idea for the book actually came from Instagram and so accordingly, the cover plays like a post: Kino smiling, doing her signature backbendy handstand … in a bikini … on the beach.

    I won’t lie. Part of me sighed heavily. But that was before I cracked open the book …

    Of course, I should know better simply because I know Kino better. And sure, she is beautiful, charming, and physically talented – but also incredibly smart, disciplined, well studied, and dedicated to the Ashtanga yoga practice.

    Which is precisely why I have turned to her for advice in the past, during moments of unfocused weakness … and also why I invited her to contribute to the Ashtanga Dispatch Magazine as well as be a guest (twice now) on the Ashtanga Dispatch Podcast.

    Because the true brilliance of someone like Kino – she can lure us in with her winning Insta-package – but then also knows exactly how to draw that line, connecting the physical practice to something much deeper. And in language we all can understand.

    Kino is the original Yoga Girl. Only she understands that in today’s world, tradition and the various social mediums aren’t to be pitted, one against the other. They both have a place, so long as we know ours.

    ‘Each day is actually a journey in itself and should push you to question your emotional, physical and mental limitations. It is my hope that these thirty days of Yogi Assignments will elicit hope and change your life.’ Kino Macgregor

    The Yogi Assignment

    SIX DAYS OF CONNECTING THE YOGA PRACTICE TO EVERYDAY LIFE.

    The Yogi Assignment presents as a 30-day program, though it also doesn’t have to be read that way because every chapter is meaningful all by itself. So I took the liberty of jumping around, choosing the topics that personally resonated – creating my own mini-week of yogi assignments and learning:

    DAY 1: PRANA // THE BREATH BODY

    “There may be times when you will not be able to perform asanas, but there will never be a time while you’re alive when you are not breathing.”

    If you know me, you could already predict that this is where I’d start. I’m a bit obsessed these days. As someone who suffered from asthma most of her life, to hike without an inhaler now is a tremendous and meaningful connection between my yoga practice and life. Such a gift to be able to breathe!

    Interestingly enough, the asana is often what distracts us from our breath – but if we can stay stubbornly committed to it, it’s the breath that can also unlock the yoga’s magic.

    While I generally skipped the homework and asana portion of each day/chapter (and yes, I have always been that kind of student!) I made time for Kino’s Constructive Rest Pose. You lie on your back with your knees bent, hip-width apart, and belly breathe for ten. I did this every evening before bed. Crazy how something so basic can quickly calm and put me to sleep. Like I said, magic!

    DAY 2: TAPAS // HOLDING MY HAND TO THE FIRE

    “Only with consistent, sustained effort will the real work of yoga happen; that is, old negative thoughts are replaced with positive ones.”

    There isn’t a teacher or friend (including Kino) who hasn’t said this (or yelled it across the practice room – thank you, David Garrigues): Discipline! You need discipline. It’s the story of my life, though I’ve definitely gotten much better. Like most things, staying focused takes practice.

    abhyāsa-vairāgyābhyāṃ tan-nirodhaḥ   (YS 1.12)

    According to Patanjali, we need to practice (abhyāsa) not attaching (vairāgyā) to all the thought distractions. And through a sustained, devoted, and committed practice – over time, we might find the stillness to see my own true nature. Or at the very least in my case, I might muster up the determination to actually finish something I start.

    Ironically, Kino’s three example postures are perhaps the very three I like to come out of early: chaturanga dandasana (low push-up), urdhva dhanuarasana (wheel), and pinchamayurasana(fore-arm balance). And for the homework, Kino took on cursing. I think I better stick to chaturanga first.

    DAY 3: VIRA // A BRAVE HEART

    “Essentially we must become like Arjuna in our daily lives – filled simultaneously with the strength and magnificence of a warrior prince and the peace and sanctity of a spiritual aspirant.”

    More and more lately, I find myself turning to the Bhagavad Gita as a way to understand my place in the world today. The battle is real and it’s inside me. How do I stand up for what’s right without being consumed by the injustice? How do I maintain a righteous relationship with God all the while, staying humble and open?

    I have been in real life situations where I have been personally threatened – a victim of abuse. Part of changing this was in fact, learning to stand up and fight for myself. Not exactly the peaceful warrior extolled in typical vinyasa classes, you know? And yet, cultivating my own sense of power was vital – as was having the grace later to forgive (not forget).

    It’s all very complicated sometimes and Kino makes no attempt to simplify. Which I appreciate.

    DAY 4: PRATYAHARA // SENSIBLE TRAINING

    “While it may be tempting to think you can just turn of your senses, much like you would switch off a television, the yogic training of pratyahara is achieved through a conscious redirection of the faculties of the senses to the inner body.”

    My daughter, Meghan, was trying to withdraw her senses (as pratyahara is often defined) and concentrate on a black hole. It didn’t work – but did give us both a good laugh!

    Of course, the cool thing is, our practice is that yogic training by limiting the distractions that take us away from the real work at hand. The drishti gives a looking place … the breath, a sound to follow … the shapes and movements bring touch … and provided we showered and have empty stomachs, there is no smell or taste to distract. The method shows us how to shift our perspective from the outside world to within.

    DAY 5: SANTOSHA // I AM ENOUGH

    “Busyness is addictive … Most busyness operates from a sense of emptiness; there is a void that drives you to throw yourself into activities and achievements to prove you are ‘worthy.’”

    People who are truly busy never complain about being busy – because they are usually too exhausted to complain. You never hear a single mom, shuffling her kids from school to daycare, working two jobs trying to pay a stack of bills or put food on the table, complain about being busy.

    No. Our busy schedules are by choice. They make us feel important. I know, I do it too. Finding contentment where I am, as I am, is a full time practice. But at least it’s one I am privileged enough to enjoy.

    DAY 6: SHANTI // FINDING PEACE

    “Try to bend someone to your will, and it always goes wrong. Try to bend the world to your will, and it will fight back.”

    We can’t will or force peace. Not on ourselves and not in our world. It’s like trying to will yourself to sleep – the harder you try, the further sleep becomes. If you want to sleep, you have to simply let it come and trust it will.

    This is the piece (or peace) I’ve been missing. I keep thinking I have more control than I actually do. Of course, our actions hold meaning and make a difference but the outcome is something we need to allow, and not force. It’s like at the end of every practice, we take rest. Do what you need to do, then rest.

    Which on Day 7, I did.

    + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +

    The universe is funny sometimes. Here I am, forever struggling with the whole social media scene that I’m also very much a part of – even going so far in making the decision to step away my personal Facebook  … and then just this past week, three students show up to their very first week of Mysore practice because they follow Kino.

    Seriously, one of them traveled all the way here to Montana from upstate New York. These are the kinds of students Kino inspires to practice Ashtanga through her posts, videos, and books.

    That’s pretty freaking amazing, right? And perhaps a bit ironic, don’t you think?

    Well, life has a funny way of sneaking up on you
    And life has a funny way of helping you out.

    By Peg Mulqueen

    Click here for more Peg’s writing and her podcast on Ashtanga Dispatch

    Click here to get your copy of The Yogi Assignment

     

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