• 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.

    By Kino MacGregor

    Practice with Kino and watch the Navasana episode of Yoga Encyclopedia

    Watch Yoga Encyclopedia for more asana tips & breakdowns

     

  • Asana as inner dialogue

    Many of us who practice yoga have heard the quote from the ancient text Bhagavad Gita that “Yoga is a journey of the self, through the self, to the self”. Yoga is a means of self discovery that is all. Simple, right? Maybe not at first.

    In another ancient text, The Yoga Sutras, Patanjali presents an eight-limbed path of yogic practices to guide us on that journey. The eight limbs include: how we interact with our world, how we treat ourselves, the physical practice of asana, breathing practices, sense withdrawal, concentration, meditation and finally, liberation. When we learn about the multi-faceted method of yoga from Patanjali we often come to a question: why is there so much attention on the body contorting, shape taking, third limb, asana?

    In this reality, we happen to exist in a physical form, the human body. This form dictates certain rules of our experience, based on our five senses. Through the senses we receive information about our world, our environment, and other humans. But how do we receive information about ourselves? We begin with our senses and then cultivate a way to turn further and further inward. The body is gross rather than subtle, easy to detect and observe. As we move it around, take shapes, hold positions, challenge it’s mobility, we are able to receive information, and then interpret it.

    As we turn our senses on ourselves, we begin to refine this method of communication, developing the vocabulary, establishing context for greater understanding. In attempting to create the shape of a posture, we look at our feet placement, use references of the room to adjust our alignment, refer to the parallel lines of our mats, and eventually depend only on our own bodies as visual reference. We use the focus of the gaze to align our attention and energy to the intention of the posture. Tuning in to the sounds of our breath helps to avoid distractions in our environment. Suddenly we no longer hear the breathing of another student, a door closing, or traffic on the street outside. Our breath becomes the only thing we hear. Like the act of an inhalation moves air from the space around us to the space inside of our lungs, so also do we move our attention from the spaces outside to the spaces within.

    In the beginning, we identify most physical sensation as pain. But over time and with experience, we begin to refine our understanding of the feedback coming from our bodies. We learn the difference between the feeling of stretch in the muscles and the burning of strength exertion. We begin to categorize our sensations as tolerable and beyond our limits, as safe and risky. As we take ourselves deeper into our bodies, we notice sensation in the joints and develop understanding of what they mean. A sensation that is new is often frightening, so we pause and pay attention.

    There is communication along the nervous system, linking the awareness of the mind with the sensations of the body. Each of us connect to ourselves in different ways. Like speaking different languages, down to the unique dialects, accents, slang. As we learn a new language, we often need to ask someone to speak slowly so that we can identify the subtleties of articulation, enunciation, and delivery. The same is true of the communication in our bodies. By moving slowly into the sensations we experience – by focusing our attention – we can gather more nuanced information. Over time we develop context from our previous experiences and we increase our vocabulary. We learn to not only identify the shouting sensations from deep stretches and long holds, but we learn to acknowledge the whispering sensations of the smallest movements in our deepest bodies. Where at first all we notice is our screaming hamstring, eventually we become aware of the sensation of the thigh bone rotating in the hip socket, or the gentle pull of the psoas drawing the inner thigh and low back towards each other, even the squeeze of our internal organs as we compress with a twist or a carefully placed foot.

    So what is doing the learning? We often think of the mind as the preferred mode of understanding. But the mind itself is a tricky beast. How do you know what you know? This is a topic for another ten pages of contemplation! With regards to the inner communications of the body, the mind can often get in the way. As we try to think our way into postures – into our body – we close ourselves off to any information that doesn’t fit the mind’s current understanding of things. The mind cannot lead the way. It too has to sit in observation, as witness. At most it is an interpreter in the conversation, gathering data, providing reference, mapping experiences, giving background, building bridges, and filling in gaps. If it remains a supportive player in the conversation, it limits influence, and understanding is allowed to be fluid – to alter, adjust, and develop according to experience rather than pre-established beliefs. There is a deeper aspect of self that is learning.

    If our internal communication system can be so refined as to receive the information coming from the body, it can also learn the subtler language of the mind, and emotions. As witness, we can observe the tendencies of our thinking mind and our emoting heart-space. As we struggle with the physical body, our mind also sends us feedback. It tells us we are not strong enough. It tells us our arms are too short. It tells us we will never be as good as that other practitioner over there. We turn judgment on ourselves, become angry or sad or frustrated. If we are using the same skills we developed with our physical self, we receive the information slowly, identify its source, its nature. Without surrendering to its shouting, we can soothe it to a whisper. Context develops around the communication: the sources of judgmental thoughts, the truth or untruth of our beliefs, whether or not the thoughts and emotional responses serve us, benefit us. Within the space of intentional, directed inner dialogue, we can make choices. We can identify who we really are and choose how we present that to the world.

    The body is a tool to develop our communication skills. Those skills are directed ever deeper and deeper into ourselves. We journey through the body, the mind, the emotions to the true nature of ourselves. The self that is beyond the fluctuations of our environment, beyond the fluctuations of our bodies, the tendencies of our minds, and our emotional reactions. We become intentionally responsive rather than impulsively reactive. We trust ourselves because we know ourselves. From that space we can learn to eventually exist in our truest, purest self, the self that yoga calls Atman.

    By Angelique Sandas

     

    Follow Angelique on Instagram

    Learn more about Yoga philosophy on our Insight channel

    Keep your Instagram notifications on for Omstars and stay up to date on our latest blog articles!

  • The Discipline of Gratitude

    There is so much to be thankful for everyday. There is so much to celebrate about this very moment. It’s a discipline of the mind to train yourself in the attitude of gratitude.

    At any given time at any given moment you can choose to count your blessings or focus on all the things that haven’t gone or way. Life is usually sure to give you an equal mix. When everything works out, it’s important to stop and appreciate it. When nothing works out, your mettle as a human being is tester. You can either lie in the sewers of sadness and self-pity or you can let adversity make you stronger.

    Look for the small moments of joy and if you can, be the joy. Every day in the grand tally of all that happens every casual smile and act of goodwill makes a difference. No matter how much negativity you think is happening, the arc of humanity will always be towards goodness and hope. No matter what catastrophe strikes, whether personal, environmental or political, there is light shining even when we cannot see it. There are a stagger amount of unsung heroes are there in every day. Armies of do-gooders holding doors open for other people, returning lost property, saving lives, and spreading smiles. It might not be headline grabbing newsworthy action, but I guarantee you that in each day the good outweighs the bad.

    Sometimes I get a view of the whole world, all of humanity, and I get sense of how connected we all really are and how sensitive we all are to each other. Even if you don’t see it, you feel it. When you stand next to someone in pain, you sense their pain even if you don’t hear them crying. Maybe this is why we disconnect from our bodies so often? If you drop into your own body have to feel it all. Not only your happiness and pain, and the happiness and pain of everyone around you. Empathy lives in the heart, just around the corner from love and joy. As a yogi you have to learn to let is all in. Actively practice being grateful. Cherish each day. Celebrate every ray of sunshine. Be nice to everyone all the time (or as much of the time as you can). Be strong, not so you can bully people around or compete with anyone, but be strong so you lift others up with your rising tide. This is the yogi life. Live it with your whole heart and soul every moment of every day.

    By Kino MacGregor

    View our Insight channel for meditation and mindfulness courses

  • 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

     

     

     

  • Rotate Your Pelvis: Yuval’s Secret Handstand Tip

    I love being a student. There is something magical about learning from a true master. While I make time to study with my yoga teacher every chance I also love to study with hand-balancing masters every chance I get. In the world of handstands there are few people who have devoted themselves to the mastery of hand-balancing than Yuval Avalon.

    Read More