• Interview with Adrian Molina

    I made my practice, piece-by-piece, learning here and there. The most effective practice is the one that is the most effective to the students that you have in front of you and makes them feel alive while safe and nurtured.

    Describe your personality in three words.

    Stubborn – Kind – Dedicated

    Where are you from and/or where do you live?

    I am from Buenos Aires, Argentina and I live in Miami Beach

    How long have you been practicing yoga and why did you start practicing yoga?

    I’ve been practicing since 2004 and I started practicing because the practice appeared at a time in life where I was ready.

    What is yoga to you?

    A way of connecting with the world, and through the world to myself.

    How did you feel after your first yoga class and how do you want students to feel after they practice with you?

    I want them to feel exactly the same way I felt. Like if I was sent into a rocket to the moon and came back and I had the trip of my life.

    What impact has yoga had on your life? Who were you before you started practicing and how have you changed, evolved and transformed?

    Before I was a collection of thoughts, there was no integration, no perspective. Now there are thoughts, perspective, but there is also an internal base. A more calming perspective.

    Why did you decide to start teaching yoga and what makes a good yoga teacher?

    I didn’t. The practice took me that path even when I resisted it. It was meant to be.

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    What style of yoga do you practice and what makes that style most effective? Do you have a teacher in your style of yoga?

    I don’t believe in styles. I don’t believe in gurus. I never had a yoga guru. I made my practice, piece-by-piece, learning here and there. The most effective practice is the one that is the most effective to the students that you have in front of you and makes them feel alive while safe and nurtured.

    What has been your biggest struggle and your biggest milestone in the practice? 

    Achieve a level of recognition that continuously pulls my ego into believing that this is all about and continuing the process of humbling myself for the small things.

    What is yoga favorite yoga pose and why? And what’s your least favorite yoga pose and why?

    I don’t have favorite poses. I enjoy movement. Life is movement. Postures can be ecstatic. I enjoyed transitions more than postures.

    What has been the most inspirational moment you’ve experienced as a yoga student?

    Crying on the mat. And understanding that I was on the mat for solace and not for fitness.

    And how about as a teacher?

    The continuous love that inspires me to keep learning, giving, and living.

    Why do you practice? Why do you teach?

    I practice for health. I teach for love.

    What’s your favorite yoga quote or mantra?

    “Relax, nothing is under control.” –Pema Chodron.

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    What is the single most defining issue facing the global yoga community today?

    Condensing everything into an Instagram post with a quote that have no connection to each other.

    What’s the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you as a student and as a teacher?

    You don’t want to know!

    Do you have any recommended yoga reading?

    Autobiography of a Yogi by Yogananda

    What is your dharma, your life mission?

    Discovering my dharma and my life mission

    What advice would you give to someone who is just starting out on their yoga journey?

    Listen to yourself, lots of people talk, very few of them do.

    Are there any current projects you’re working on that you can tell us about?

    So many: teaching at prisons, hospitals, schools, community events.

    Aside from your fantastic course on Omstars, do you have a favorite class that you’d like to share?

    My husband, Dennis Hunter’s, courses and classes.

    By Adrian Molina

    Read more articles by Adrian Molina

    Adrian Molina is the founder of Warrior Flow. With over 15,000 hours of classroom teaching experience, Adrian is renowned for the sophistication and depth of his teaching style and the degree of mindfulness, compassion and precision he brings to asana practice. He is also a writer, massage therapist, Thai Yoga Bodywork practitioner, Reiki master, and a Kriya Yoga meditation practitioner in the lineage of Paramahansa Yogananda.

  • Redefining the Role of a Yoga Teacher

    Looking back in time, I realized that I’ve been a yoga teacher for part of my twenties, my entire thirties, and now into my forties. Most of my teaching career developed in New York City and Miami. From learning yoga in a studio that didn’t have yoga mats or blocks, to taking my first group classes in a gym that looked like a dance studio from the 80’s, to teaching yoga classes during the early 2000’s carrying my hundreds of CDs all over town.  It has been a journey.

    But I always come back to that day when after finishing a yoga class in the old Crunch Fitness in South Beach, while crossing Washington Avenue, I realized I was experiencing a heightened sense of awareness, colors were brighter, breaths were deeper. At a somatic level, I began to understand a deeper layer of the work that yoga does on bodies and minds. Recently my job as a full time yoga teacher has shifted, as I’ve become more interested in aspects of yoga that are less explored.

    How many more articles about the proper Chaturanga or the right stance in Warrior 1 or 2 can one read in a lifetime? How many more tutorials about how to do a handstand do I want to watch? To what extent is spending so much of my time trying to learn the latest alignment tip actually taking me away from making a real difference in my life and in my community? How many more scrolls through Facebook or Instagram do I have to take to understand that there’s work that needs to be done now?

    My own life experiences took me to different roads when the yoga offered in the studios, books, and social media was not enough to help me reconnect to myself during life’s difficult times. I experienced unbearable loss, grief, and depression of the greatest kind — and during those stages the yoga I had known wasn’t enough. My mat was buried in my closet. And I simply didn’t have the strength to get up and practice. I shifted my focus and began to learn about what I was experiencing. I learned about mental health, depression, trauma, PTSD, anxiety. And naturally I began to teach in a way that is more inclusive, accessible, and sustainable.

    I understood from the inside out what I was experiencing and by learning more about my own struggles I was able to put a practice together that supported the stage of my life that I was living. And gradually I got back on my feet. The beautiful thing about hitting rock bottom is that you come up stronger, but also you know that you are not the only one suffering. There’s a solace in knowing that you’re not alone, that everyone goes through difficult times. And it brings a sense of responsibility, and urgency towards making yoga available for those who aren’t as privileged.

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    I learned about the challenges that my community was facing, and I made my yoga available to those who were marginalized. I became curious about why there are only certain segments of the population in my classes. I began to ask why yoga is not reaching everyone, although we see it everywhere online. I began to learn about trauma, the trauma that we all go through in our lives, and the trauma of entire communities. I began to understand that I am in a very privileged place as a yoga teacher who can afford to take yoga classes , but there are many who can’t and in their minds they associate yoga with the privilege of an elite few.

    I realized that all the wonderful yoga philosophy I learned over the years didn’t mean anything unless the practice makes a real difference in myself and my community. I began to leave behind, one at a time, many postures that no longer served me in the path of using yoga as a bridge to unite the community. I began to move away from an extremely physical approach to the practice, or promoting the practice through postures, and instead using my experience, and the experiences of those who practice with me, as the message of the practice.

    A message of conscious movement, a message of community, and understanding that there is power in the practice, especially when we practice together, and the yoga that we do, can always and must always help others. I began to understand my place in the future of yoga.

    Why it is important to have a voice on Instagram and Facebook to educate people about a different way of approaching the practice. Why it is important to share our experiences, and advocate for those who have no voice. Why it is important to be a disruptor when all the yoga you see looks very vanilla.
    I currently teach yoga at schools, hospitals and I work full time at Lotus House, the largest shelter in Florida for homeless women and their children. I empower my students — whether they are members at a luxury fitness center or homeless people — with the tools of yoga, meditation, relaxation, and knowledge about science and research.

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    All my classes have shifted to an all-inclusive way of teaching. Teaching postures for their own sake is no longer exciting for me. But empowering people to reconnect to their bodies and create a positive connection — that is what is important. Offering tools to my students to be able to manage their level of stress, to learn when they are not feeling great and how to use the practice in a therapeutic way. This is what excites me these days. As I continue to explore yoga I can only think, what a wonderful thing it is, that yoga keeps growing and sharing its gifts.

    But this doesn’t happen alone, it doesn’t happen through posts, likes or followers or fancy inversions or arm balances. It happens when each of us yoga teachers and students learn about the practice, embody it, distill the teachings, peel away the outer layers, and use this core of wisdom as fuel to help those who need it the most.

    By Adrian Molina

    Adrian Molina has been teaching yoga continuously since 2004. He is a well-known and respected instructor in Miami and New York, with an extensive worldwide following through his platform and school of yoga, Warrior Flow. Adrian teaches online for Omstars and works for the non-profit Lotus House. Adrian is also a writer, massage therapist, Reiki healer, meditation teacher, sound therapist, and a Kriya yoga practitioner in the lineage of Paramahansa Yogananda. Adrian is recognized for the community-building work he does in Miami and beyond.

  • Top 10 Reasons to Take Sound Bath Classes in the New Year

    Sound baths are going mainstream. Last week, the Today show featured one, and they are the most popular classes at every meditation studio. Some call them “meditation for lazy people.” But they are so much more than that.

    If you are one of the few who are unfamiliar with the concept of a sound bath, or reluctant to try it, this article is for you. I encourage you to step into the world of sound and experience what all the fuss is about.

    Basically, you come to a sound bath class at a meditation or yoga studio because you want to relax and de-stress. And who doesn’t want that?

    The instructor leads the group on a journey — usually 45 minutes, perhaps an hour — using sound waves produced by various instruments that might include crystal bowls, metal bowls, chimes, rain sticks, drums, bells, and so on. Some of them are traditional instruments from other cultures. Some are new inventions. The sound waves (otherwise known as vibrations) wash through the mind and body at a deep, cellular level — thus, the name, sound bath — interacting with the nervous system and helping you to let go and relax in a way that even meditation, mindfulness, or yoga sometimes can’t achieve.

    Here are 10 reasons why you should seek out high-quality sound baths and make them a regular part of your life in 2019:

     

    1. UNIVERSALITY. Sound baths are universally accessible to anyone, regardless of age, fitness level, or previous experience with meditation. We all process through our bodies the stories of our lives. At one time or another, we all face stress, illness, pain, or other challenges. Sound classes are accessible to anyone who can take the time to show up. Absolutely everyone is welcome to join a sound class as long as they can walk-into the studio by themselves and they can comfortably lie on their back or be seated for 45 minutes.

     

    1. COMFORT. When you think of meditation, or even yoga, you probably picture someone sitting on the floor in lotus posture. That’s not in the cards for most of us. One of the great things about sound classes is how comfortable they are, which encourages you to go deeper into relaxation. You lie on cushions, cover yourself with blankets, perhaps use a prop to support your neck, maybe something to cover your eyes and dim the lighting even more. By and large, there are no meditation police in a sound class. You relax and enjoy the experience however you want to receive it.

     

    1. EFFORTLESSNESS. One of the greatest things about sound classes is that you don’t have to do anything to get the benefits of the practice. You don’t have to concentrate your mind on an object or chase a carrot to unlock the next level of experience. The benefits of sound therapy start working from the first chord or note you hear. There’s no physical activity involved. Quite the opposite. Your heart rate and breathing will slow down, and your mind will slow down. You don’t have to drag yourself to the gym and put yourself through a workout. There is no effort involved in receiving the gift of vibrational waves. You will feel energized and yet relaxed in a way that requires no effort.

     

    1. LASTING EFFECTS. After reading my social media posts about the benefits of sound, a close friend decided to give it a try. Her days, like mine, are spent in constant conversation with others, so at the end of the day she tends to feel depleted. She came to one of my sound classes and immediately became a regular. Not long ago, she came to and mentioned how during a particular sound session she was able to let go of some deeply buried struggles within herself, so much so that the benefits of that particular session lingered with her for days. Even to the point that her colleagues at work, in her stressful job, were surprised at how relaxed she was, meeting all the deadlines in such a graceful way.

     

    1. SLEEP. So many people I know have trouble sleeping. So many people I know (including a few Ayurvedic masters) use pharmaceutical sleep medications. Another reason why you should consider sound classes is because they can help tremendously in improving the quality of your sleep in a natural way. Even if you already sleep well, sound classes can help you wind down into the closing part of your day.

     

    1. STRESS / ANXIETY / DEPRESSION / TRAUMA. It’s difficult to put all these words under the same umbrella. But they are all connected. Stress can easily spill into anxiety, depression and many other mental states that we don’t like to talk about openly. As someone who has experienced all of these things, I can testify that sound has been a very important tool in my path to recovery. Sound has a way of penetrating the deeper layers within ourselves and helping to shift energy around in order to find greater equilibrium. In sound classes I’ve had breakthroughs, aha moments, and released tension in specific areas of my body that needed attention. I’m not recommending sound as a primary form of treatment for severe depression, anxiety or trauma (PTSD), but I would certainly recommend it as part of a regimen of mental health and well-being.

     

    1. CONNECTION. I believe that anything that allows you to spend an hour with yourself and not in front of a digital screen should be treasured. I discover in teaching sound classes, but also in taking sound classes, that at the end of class, people feel more open, more relaxed. In the studio where I teach sound, Innergy Meditation, we always have a few minutes at the end of the practice for anyone who would like to share their experiences or their questions. I’ve seen a community of mindful and curious students coming together and friendships being formed. The healing properties of sound bring forward those innate qualities within ourselves of opening up in a natural way and connecting to others. Without phones. Amazing, right?

     

    1. GRIEF. After my mom’s passing, too many emotions were bottled up inside me. Talking to loved ones or therapists didn’t cut it. There was so much emotional turbulence that I couldn’t navigate it with words. Sound for me was revolutionary because it didn’t require me to think. It didn’t take effort. It offered a completely different path to healing. One that entered through a different sense door, and yet seamlessly helped to put the house in order. I am not saying that sound classes will heal your pain. But maybe you are able to see and feel things without being overwhelmed by them. And maybe, in time, in conjunction with other resources, it helps you create the framework that is necessary to move through the pain into the life on the other side.

     

    1. TAKES YOU OUT OF YOUR HEAD. My days go by in a flurry of meetings, phone calls, classes, projects, emails, social media, and more. One of the things that resonates so much for me with sound classes is their ability to take me out of my thinking, rational mind, the part of my brain that I use most of the time. I’m able to access other, less rational parts of my mind where I am not hijacked by thoughts and to do lists. Sound classes unlock my creativity, and they help my productivity because I can go back to my tasks feeling less overwhelmed.

     

    1. MAKES YOU A BETTER PERSON. The net effect of you learning to relax ripples out into every area of your life. Maybe you stop lashing at people. You stop barking at your loved ones. You experience more silence within yourself. Your pauses are longer. Your answers are more thoughtfully composed. Often I’ve found myself dealing with delicate matters or conversations and I think to myself…let me take a sound class and then I will make a decision.

    We live in difficult times, when we increasingly expect our minds and nervous systems to process information in the same way that our computers and phones do. It gives me hope to see sound classes starting to go mainstream because sound reminds us that we are humans. And we are all babies. We need to be connected to something larger than ourselves, and nurtured, and we need to feel safe and relaxed.

    I hope you give it a try.

    By Adrian Molina

    Adrian Molina has been teaching yoga continuously since 2004. He is a well-known and respected instructor in Miami and New York, with an extensive worldwide following through his platform and school of yoga, Warrior Flow.

     

     

     

     

  • The Scar of Resentment

    Things are not as linear as they might seem. I wish at times they were.

    Sometimes I wish I could accumulate enough wisdom to be unharmed by life’s blows.

    But challenges do like to stop by for tea rather often.

    And they dress for the occasion.

    They know how to throw a party.

    And each unwanted and unexpected challenge can yield a lesson in the same way an oyster can yield a pearl from an uninvited grain of sand.

    Resentment is an interesting characteristic that can hold your leash very tightly.

    On the outside it makes you feel that you are protecting yourself by choosing between what’s right or wrong.

    Resentment is an uncalibrated scale of justice. It’s us playing God.

    A façade that masks your fear and pain momentarily and inefficiently.

    Resentment creates scars around your heart.

    It can potentially redefine the way you see things, making the world a less forgiving place.

    Unfortunately there is no immediate clap of the hands and, voilà, goodbye resentment.

    There is observation of our feelings. Our words. Our relationships. Our silences. Our thoughts.

    Resentment diminishes every time that we look at our lives through the magnifying glass of compassion and forgiveness instead of the laser beam of pride and righteousness.

    Why do I share this with you?

    Because I don’t want you (and me of course) to waste time being resentful about things over which we have no control.

    Because sometimes the person or situation that you feel has harmed you might no longer be there to dispute with you. And so the same song gets stuck on an eternal repeat.

    Because love is too precious to be traded for resentment.

    In a more forgiving world, our relationships nourish us because we are able to see through other’s scars to their underlying divinity.

    And that recognition heals us both.

    Easy? No.

    Doable? You can be sure.

    by Adrian Molina

    Adrian Molina has been teaching yoga continuously since 2004. He is a well-known and respected instructor in Miami and New York, with an extensive worldwide following through his platform and school of yoga, Warrior Flow.

     

     

     

  • Eight Simple Words

    This quote sticks in my head like one of those earworms that creeps into your head off the radio and keeps popping up to annoy you and everyone around you each time you catch yourself singing the song.

    “Whatever is happening is the path to enlightenment.” ~Pema Chödrön~

    Very few people have Pema’s ability to find the wisdom in everyday life with such clarity and intensity. Everyday life is not all unicorns and glittery angels but the nitty-gritty stuff that we go through each day.

    How can eight simple words convey so much meaning?

    Does that mean that all those times in my day where my behavior is less than perfect is the path to enlightenment? YES

    Does it mean that all the times where I am not loving, not compassionate, not nice, I am still in the game? YES

    Does it mean that all the times when I lose perspective, that’s also part of the path to enlightenment? YES

    Does it mean that all the times that I judge myself, thinking I’ve fallen off the wagon in my life, that is the path to enlightenment? YES

    Does it mean that on those days when I lose it and I want to quit everything and move to an undisclosed location in the Caribbean and change my name I am still on the path? YES

    I am taking a breath of relief.

    Whatever is happening is the path to enlightenment.

    None of our paths are made of smooth pavement only. Sometimes our paths are made of dirt and mud and rocks. And occasionally broken glass. But even in those cases the path is still the path.

    We can’t live our lives chopping out the parts that are not that pretty.

    We can’t delete scenes, crop here and there or change filters to get a brighter reality whenever it suits us.

    We tend to be master editors of whatever is happening. But in reality, we all know. A lot of the events in our lives might not be Facebook or Instagram material but they also serve a purpose. They are an important part of the path to enlightenment, part of the full spectrum of circumstances that is your life. They keep you real. They break you open and they keep you open.

    Observe everything. The big and the small. The shiny and the dark. The glamorous and the shameful. The victories and the defeats. Learn from every situation. Look at yourself. Your ups and downs in a single day.

    Using everything in our lives as fuel for growth is how we become more integrated human beings, and more loving. Because the more we understand and accept the roller coaster that our life is sometimes, the more prepared we are to understand someone else’s roller coaster — because we know that whatever arises in our experience is always the path to enlightenment.

    By Adrian Molina

    Adrian Molina has been teaching yoga continuously since 2004. He is a well-known and respected instructor in Miami and New York, with an extensive worldwide following through his platform and school of yoga, Warrior Flow.

    Practice with Adrian Molina on Omstars

     

  • Lessons from 15 Years of Yoga Practice

    It has been almost 15 years since I took my first yoga certification. And it has been probably 14 years since I became a full-time yoga instructor. My life between the ages of 25 and 39 has centered around the practice and teaching and study and business of yoga.

    My practice has morphed so many times, like one of those beautiful cephalopods that change color based on the environment they are in. I could definitely say that my practice has always been a reflection of my life’s ups and downs. Many times my practice was the refuge to cope with life’s challenges; other times, the practice itself was the challenge. There were periods of love and hate. Closeness and distance and everything in between.

    I would like to share some of the things that I’ve learned over the years, things I’ve been reflecting upon lately. Hopefully this offers food for thought for those who are new to yoga; who knows, perhaps even for seasoned practitioners. This is based on my experience and it’s purely subjective.

    If 39-year old me could meet 25-year old me, this is the advice I would give him:

    You will learn a lot from your teachers. But the most important lessons will come from facing your own mind on the mat. Learn to listen to that voice, acknowledge it. And communicate with it.

    The postures are great. But the real gift is learning to treat your body with kindness and respect. At times you will use the practice and the postural aspect of it to satisfy your ego. Remember that this is a stage that many go through, look at the bigger picture, and remember the gifts of the practice are innumerable and they exceed the shape of a pose.

    Your teachers are human beings. They are real-estate brokers who became yoga teachers. Ex-lawyers. Moms who teach yoga. Sales executives who decided on a midlife change of career. Your teachers are not enlightened beings who descended to earth to spread enlightenment. The longer you hang around the yoga scene, the more you’ll notice that quite a few yoga teachers have a few missing screws. But others have genuine hearts and wisdom that shine through in every word and action.

    For the most part your teachers will want to share the teachings. When that is not the case, wish them well. They are teaching you a lesson. Even when their behavior doesn’t match your expectations or they fumble and embarrass themselves, they are showing you what kind of teacher you want to be (or don’t want to be) and for that we acknowledge their presence.

    Yoga is not a religion. Schools of yoga, and lineages, are often managed as corporations. Find out who are you studying with, and who they studied with and who that person studied with.

    Don’t drink any Kool-Aid. There are many Kool-Aids out there, and some of them are really toxic. But Yoga is Yoga. Learn all yogas that are wholesome and beneficial. Don’t push your style of yoga on anyone else. Everything has its own time.

    Be okay when the practice recedes to an old abandoned drawer. You might think that you’ve lost your love of yoga. That’s not true. It will change shapes, colors, intensity, rhythm, but the gifts of the practice will always belong to you.

    The greatest gift of learning Yoga will be sharing it with others. In being a teacher you will learn to communicate with others, to treat others with kindness, to empathize with others who are experiencing difficulty or pain, and in that process you will learn the meaning of forgiveness and tolerance. In the teachings of yoga you will find the strength to keep going when you feel defeated.

    Yoga will always be with you. You will practice yoga every moment of your life, whether or not you are standing on a mat. The practice and the teachings expand far beyond the studio walls. They encompass your ethical behaviors, your work choices, your way of speaking, who you associate with, what you eat and purchase. Ultimately they will be there with you in every breath, until the last one you take.

    By Adrian Molina

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    This blog post was originally featured on Warriorflow.com