• How to Stress Less (Hint: Trust Your Body More)

    Leaning into trust can shape your life for the better.

    Where do you feel stress in your body? Have you ever noticed?

    Is it a tightness in your chest, or a heaviness in your forehead? It could be a nervous frenzy in your fingers, an unsettling feeling in your stomach, or maybe a combination of all the above.

    The past year and a half has been hard. Like, really hard. As yoga teachers and practitioners, we are fortunate enough to have incredible tools available to us, based on the mindfulness practices we have put into place. Wellness routines and rituals are important, necessary, and SO powerful in some instances.

    And sometimes, we all just need to take a break—a breather from all the breathing exercises.

    At the beginning of 2021, I was feeling some shame around how all of these incredible mindfulness tools I’ve brought into my life just weren’t helping like they used to. The high stress and anxiety that permeates our world now is heavy, and exhausting. So, of course, another juice cleanse should do the trick, right?

    No?

    Okay, maybe a 30-day meditation challenge? Or another virtual yoga class? A run? Order the newest personal development book?

    I realized in my rush to find something to help me cope, I was seeking outside of myself. I was focused on what else I could be doing, and this was leading me away from just being with myself.

    And this makes sense! Society and culture have continued to teach us that we do not fully understand ourselves, and we must seek external experts to find how we can be our “best” selves”. Examples of this can be seen in all areas of life:

    What our bodies should look like

    What degrees we should earn

    What roles we should inherently excel at

    I’ve decided that my “best self” is the self who resides within my own inherent wisdom and that wisdom comes from my listening to my own body.

    Throughout all of this seeking, I was also trying to pick the perfect word of the year. (Another thing I kept pushing down my “self-care task list”.)

    I started to tune in and ask myself, “What am I really trying to solve with my word of the year?” And it came down to stress. I want to be less stressed and less anxious and more sure of myself, ideas, and abilities.

    So I went further: what is causing me stress?

    I wanted to better understand what those outside influences were making me feel internally. I was feeling unsure of myself; I was feeling incapable and powerless and crushing amounts of self-doubt.

    So what did I need to do?

    TRUST.

    When I decided to try on the word “Trust” for my word of the year, the Universe winked and said, “Alright, are you ready for this?”

    Does this sound familiar? You’re working on a project, but your mind is being pulled in another direction because you “should” be working on that other thing instead. So you shift gears, but now you’re feeling guilty for abandoning that other project. But, oh yeah, you’re ALSO supposed to be doing this other thing and people are depending on you and you’re literally just letting every single person down.

    As I was trying on my word of the year, I realized most of my stress came down to me not trusting that what I was saying, doing, or being in that moment was the “right” thing to be saying, doing, or being.

    I would continually second guess if what I was doing was the “right” choice, and in doing so it did two things:

    The quality of my attention and awareness plummeted because I was feeling the need to hold space for multiple different “shoulds” at one time.

    Those physical cues I stated earlier? They would start up in force.

    After making this realization, I created a new intention for myself to help me alleviate and avoid unnecessary stress reactions:

    I am making the right choice because it’s the one I’m making.

    This simple phrase has become an incredible tool for me to shift out of my stress reaction into a place of choice. I encourage you to try out this intention!

    When you notice stress happening (again, I’ll point to those physical cues because our bodies know what’s up), take a moment to go in. Notice, where are you actually experiencing the stress in your body?

    From there, you can chart where the cause meets the effect. If you find yourself doubting your experience, remember
    to trust yourself. And listen to the wisdom of your body.

    Learning that most of my stress is unnecessary and self-inflicted has opened me up to be more creative and curious and joyful in my life responsibilities—it reminds me I am utilizing my power of choice. I am choosing
    to bring my valuable time, attention, and energy to this current thing, which means it’s what I’m meant to be focusing on. Because it’s what I chose.

    NOTE: This post is part of a collaborative media series organized and curated by Omstars and the Yoga & Body Image Coalition intended as a deep dive into yoga & body image.

    By Jordan Page

    Jordan Page is a traveling nomad who takes her love of yoga with her everywhere she goes. She also believes you can learn a lot about someone from their Hogwarts House. After completing yoga teacher training in 2017, she and her husband converted a school bus into
    their tiny home in which they now live and travel full-time. She has taught yoga in multiple states around the U.S. and in 2019 she completed her professional coach training through iPEC and earned her CPC. Through yoga and coaching, she works to empower and inspire women to own the life of their choosing through conscious, purposeful intention. She is purposefully living, while not taking things too seriously.

    Find on on Instagram here and here.

    Photo by Ismael Sanchez from Pexels

  • One Arrow, A Thousand Arrows

    As it was explained to me by my teacher, Yogarupa Rod Stryker – the first arrow is the cause of pain. Thousands of arrows are the thousands of stories/worries that spring from the one arrow which turn the pain into suffering.

    Worrying is deeply exhausting. Truly. And worrying is a kind of suffering. Something happens: a mistake, a breakup, an eviction, a death, an accident, or any of the other millions of things that can go wrong on the daily. Let’s say you make a mistake and you leave the house with the oven on. You get three blocks down the road before realizing it. The doggies, or kids, or cats, or guinea pigs are in the house. You run back to turn the damn thing off.

    Pain is the realization you left the oven on. Suffering- the three block walk with all of the ‘what if’ scenarios playing out in your mind; the dramatic reenactment -pointing out that the house could have burned down with the doggies, or the kids, or cats, or guinea pigs not just to your mom, but your partner and your brother; the echoes and echoes of retelling it to yourself the rest of the day and playing out all the gnarly possibilities.

    This teaching has been with me all through this quarantine and pandemic. Worry has been a topic in all my conversations lately. Even with those of us who have not been affected as terribly as others by all of it. Is there something to be done about worrying? 

    There is. It relates to the energetic quality of letting go or release- Apana. But letting go is a frustrating concept, an annoyingly nebulous thing. What does it mean to let go? How do I let go?

    In order to better understand Apana, we must look at its energetic counterpart Prana -our life force, our intake. We must examine where it is going, along with our ability or lack thereof to direct it- dharana. Because Prana will take you where you want to go and also where you don’t want to go. What I mean by that is that it is a forward moving energy, whether you acknowledge it consciously or leave it in the unconscious space. It will get us stuck in the mire just as easily as it will help us fulfill our Dharma, our life’s work. It’s all a matter of direction. If we are moving through the world unconsciously, it is easy to make the one arrow into a thousand. The more we learn about energy, however, we learn that we can refocus it and bring it to where we need it or want it- presence. So you left the oven on, realized it and turned it off. That can be it. End of story. One arrow.

    Practice with Miles LIVE on Omstars

    The more stimulus we take in, the more Prana we exhaust because once we see something, we can’t unsee it. Which means that the only way for that thing to move through our systems is to process it. If it stays in our system unprocessed, it gets stuck in there somewhere. Think of it as gaining energetic weight. If stimulus is food, we need to digest it and secrete it. So think of all the information we are ingesting everyday, constantly, through our senses. Not just in the cities we live in, but news, television, social media, music, images, gossip, conversations…

    Imagine how much more energy we would have if we took better care of what we fed our senses. It can be nourishment, after all. What we are putting in our line of vision, what we are touching, tasting, hearing. Which would in turn affect what and how we are saying things, to ourselves and others. And most importantly, it would help us wrangle and work with our worry as we’d be able to distinguish one arrow from the thousand arrows. What would life be like if we didn’t worry so much?!?!

    Balance is born in and of the natural world. Where samsaras, cycles, play out with ease- unfettered. Yoga, holds this wisdom of the natural world handed down directly from nature through time and space. It is in this way also linked to all the teachings of all of the ancient cultures, which is why many mendicants and sadhus surrender their quotidian city lives for caves.

    Now, I’m not saying leave everything behind and move to the woods though it may also be a good time to do so. As things shift daily through this time, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and overstimulated. If that’s the case with you, take a moment to close your eyes and sit or do something sweet that pulls you out of the fray. Go for a walk, or practice yoga nidra. Find some stillness. We are in a marathon, take a pause to go within. Whatever you are planting during this time will then have more room to blossom. Strip away the unnecessary part of the chaos so that your Prana can remain as buoyant as possible and have a clear charge- allowing you to be steady throughout the insanity.

    “I love listening. It is one of the only spaces where you can be still and be moved at the same time.”
    ~Nayyirah Waheed 

    By Miles Borrero

    Miles Borrero is a NYC-based yoga teacher who has led sought-after retreats and trainings around the world since 2007. A tireless explorer, Miles has done a deep dive into many lineages: Bhakti, Forrest, Parayoga, Om Yoga, Iyengar, Ashtanga. Over the years, these influences have converged to create a unique hybrid style of teaching that is dynamic, creative, and soulful. The athletic physicality that first drew him to the mat has since inspired deeper inquiries in anatomy, as well as cranio-sacral therapy and osteopathy – techniques that delve into the equally magnificent subtle body. As a teacher, Miles is wonderfully skillful and intuitive. He understands technique from the depth of his own practice and is able to articulate it simply and clearly, making it readily accessible to his students. His subtle and powerful insights stay with you past the duration of his classes. And his chants will crack your heart wide open. His love of people is infectious and has translated into building a thriving community and creating inclusive spaces for all. As an anti-racist Latinx and LGBTQ+ trans activist, his hope is to leave the world a bit better than he found it. Check out Miles’ website at http://www.milesyoga.com/. 

  • How to Reduce Stress with Awareness

    Stress, panic, anxiety and emotional breakdowns. Ever since we have been quarantined, many near and dear ones are complaining about all these emotions hitting them hard. Here’s my take and personal experience on dealing with such breakdowns.

    Make it a vehicle to meditate upon.

    Consider being totally aware of when this comes to you. Don’t try to get rid of it or avoid it at any cost. Instead be desperate to get hit by them. Make it a vehicle to meditate upon. Remember everything that troubles you is in fact a method a tool that can take you inward.

    Watch who it is that actually suffers.

    With full awareness every day, try to introspect the panic, the fear, or whatever that troubles you, as if you want to have a deep dive into it while you watch who is it that actually suffers. What part of your identity suffers it? I want you to feel what happens in you when this emotion takes over you. What body part feels it first then how does it move along. Consciously watching and analyzing every single intricate details taking place within you.

    Look at the panic or stress as the object.

    Look at the panic or stress as the object, while the one who feels it as the subject. And as we contemplate on it, gradually we no more identify with both the objectivity and subjectivity, developing a sense of rootedness with the observer behind them both.

    Where ever you take the candle the darkness instantly disappears.

    It’s simple, just like trying to find darkness with the help of a candle. Where ever you take the candle, the darkness instantly disappears. Your awareness and will to search and analyse your fears without the intention of getting rid of them is the candle. Carry your flame with you. As the last words of Gautama Buddha says: “Appo Deepo Bhava,” “Be a light onto yourself” अप्प दीपो भव ||

    Namastey.

    By Rajat Thakur

    Practice Hatha Yoga with Rajat on Omstars

    Rajat Thakur is a Mountain Guide, Climber, Skier and an authorised Yoga teacher from the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Foundation. He comes from a small town ‘Manali’ in the Indian Himalayas and never leaves a chance to express his devotion & love for the Mountains. Rajat has been traveling around India to places like Rishikesh, Kerala, Mysore, Himachal Pradesh, learning from Swamis and Gurus different ancient forms of Yoga methods. Before taking up Yoga as his life long journey, he use to give Asana and Pranayama lessons to people who had a hard time acclimatizing to the high altitude on expeditions he lead. Even though the classes were never part of the itinerary, Rajat began to find immense joy in helping others. This joy and sense of personal satisfaction led him to integrate Yoga more deeply and he currently disseminates the profound knowledge of Yoga in his Home town (Manali). He believes that it must be our commitment to everyday invest some time on our personal practice, our well being, self love & self care. Because once we give it to ourself we can give it to the world and through this act of giving one can open doors to self realization.

    Photo is done by luke cg aka Gitesh Gupta