• #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

     

  • Sweet Potato Chili

    For everyone around the world experiencing the arrival of cooler weather, you’re probably craving something warm and filling to cozy you up on those rainy or snowy grey evenings. That’s where this Sweet Potato Chili recipe comes in handy.

    Sydney’s currently in this weird half winter/half spring state where somedays are so warm your only option is to wear a swim suit, and other days are so cold you wouldn’t even dream of going outside. On one of those freezing days in Bondi as I watched the palm trees bend and sway dangerously in the insane wind, I got a craving for a big bowl of chili.

    I enjoyed this healthy, protein packed meal so much that I obviously had to share it with you all! It’s not very spicy and has a mild, tomatoey flavor. If you prefer your chili to have more of a punch, add in an extra table spoon of the chili powder and paprika. This recipe makes a HUGE amount–be aware!! You’ll have leftovers for days! It’s best shared with a friend or loved one under a warm blanket 🙂

    Sweet Potato Chili

    -two sweet potatoes, diced

    -four Yukon gold potatoes or two Russet potatoes

    -one can (~14 oz) whole corn kernels, drained

    -one can (~14 oz) kidney beans, drained

    -one can (~14 oz) black beans

    -4 carrots, cut into dimes

    -2 28 oz cans crushed tomatoes

    -2 tbs chili powder

    -1.5 tbs paprika

    -1 tbs sugar

    -1 tbs salt (plus more if you need it after taste testing

    -1 tbs garlic

    -1 tbs cumin

    -1 tbs cracked black pepper

    -.5 tbs vegan cocoa powder

    Optional

    -2 cups rice, cooked

    Raw Vegan Cashew Cheese, for garnish

    -fresh lemon

    -fresh spinach

    After you’ve prepped your veggies, toss them in a large pot. Pour in the cans of crushed tomato, kidney beans, black beans, and corn. Add in your spices and seasonings. Mix together until the spices have been evenly distributed throughout the chili. Make sure the potatoes and carrots are covered by the liquid. Cover and let simmer for about thirty minutes. The chili is done when it smells fragrant and aromatic, and the potatoes and carrots are fork tender. Enjoy on top of rice and fresh spinach with a squeeze of fresh lemon and a dollop of my easy Raw Vegan Cashew Cheese!

    Devyn Howard

    Follow her on instagram for more plant-based inspiration, @diningwithdevyn and check out her website to learn more about all things vegan www.diningwithdevyn.com

    Watch the latest episode of Seek Up: Vegan For Life with Devyn & Kino

  • 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

     

  • Coconut Mango Bars

    As the weather starts to get chillier  and more fall-like in New England, it’s very easy to start dreaming of traveling somewhere tropical. While a warm weather vacation may not be in the cards, at least we can recreate the flavors of vacation at home! Imagine sticky mango, flavorful coconut, and the sweetness of dates…this all comes together to create a tropical flavor explosion.

    These vegan energy bars contain tropical flavors in this combination, but are effortlessly adaptable based on ingredients you have at home (other dried fruits, nuts or nut butters, or mix ins) or flavors you’re looking to create. They come together quickly, and after chilling for an hour, are ready to eat. Just picture yourself sitting on a beach somewhere as you eat this, even if it’s just rushing from work to a yoga class. Give yourself a break and the energy you need with this tropical snack.

    Simply measure your ingredients, mix together in a foodprocessor, and press into a pan. Let them chill, cut them up, and you’re ready to go. Because this recipe contains so few ingredients, it would be a fun and easy for kids to measure the ingredients, as long as the adult handles the food processing and sharp blades. They can be used as a snack or even a healthy dessert after a meal. Vegans and non-vegans alike will love these tasty treats!

    Recipe

    Yield: 8 bars

    Time: 5 active minutes plus 1 hour chilling time

    Ingredients:

    ·    1 cup pitted medjool dates

    ·    about 3/4 cup dried mango (one 4 oz package)

    ·    1/4 chia seeds

    ·    1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut

    ·    2 tbsp almond butter or other nut butter

    ·    1-2 tablespoons water, if needed

    1.  Line a 8×8 or 9×9 square pan with parchment paper. You can also use a loaf pan, that just means your bars will be smaller and thicker.

    2.  Put all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor, and process by pulsing. You will probably need to pause every 30 seconds to scrape the sides of the processor bowl. Pulse until the mixture clumps together and forms a large ball. This may take a few minutes, and it will not be entirely homogeneous. If the mixture seems dry and is not coming together, add in 1-2 tablespoons water in until desired consistency is reached. It should be sticky and mixed thoroughly, though small bits of ingredients will remain. This will give the bar texture and ensure you taste all the flavors separately.

    3.  Transfer the mixture into the prepared pan, and press down and out, spreading the mixture out evenly. If needed, you can cover the top with more parchment and press down on top of the parchment paper to press down if the mixture seems too sticky. If you want the bars to be even, flatten the top of the bars with the bottom of a glass pressed down on top of top layer of parchment. Perfection does not have to be the goal here. Even if your bars are uneven, they will still taste amazing.

    4.  Refrigerate for one hour, then slice into 8 bars or squares. Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to a week, if they last that long! They can also be stored in the freezer to firm them up. Wrapping each bar in parchment is not necessary, but it does make them easier to transport and eat since they are quite sticky at room temperature.

    By Kim Daniels

    Instagram @kim_heretonamaste

    Website heretonamaste.com

    Get creative in the kitchen and learn new delicious plant-based recipes with Omstars!

    Wellness Channel

  • 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

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  • Lee’s Raw Berry and Chocolate Torte

    If you want to make friends, this tantalising torte is a sure-fire way to do it. Who could resist a rich, chocolatey dessert that is completely guilt-free? You and your new best friends will be bursting with bliss after just one bite.

    Recipe

    Makes 1 torte

    Base

    175 g (6 oz/11/2 cups) raw walnuts

    zest of 1 lemon

    1/2 cup dried berries

    60 ml (2 fl oz/1/4 cup) melted extra virgin coconut oil

    1 teaspoon stevia powder

    Filling

    155 g (51/2 oz/1 cup) raw, unsalted cashews

    40 g (11/2 oz/1/3 cup) raw cacao powder

    115 g (4 oz) cacao butter, grated and melted

    2 tablespoons rice malt syrup, or 1 teaspoon stevia powder

    2 tablespoons additive-free coconut milk

    juice of 1 lemon

    2 cups mixed berries, plus extra, for decorating (optional)     

    This recipe is Wheat-free  Dairy-free  Gluten-free & Vegan    

    What to do:

    Place the cashews in a bowl, cover with filtered water and soak for 2 hours. Drain.

    To make the base, place the walnuts in a food processor and blend until they are finely chopped. Transfer to a bowl and add the lemon zest.

    Place the coconut oil and dried berries in the food processor and blend. Add to the walnut mixture and stevia and combine well.

    Press the mixture into a 20 cm (8 inch) springform cake tin and chill in the freezer for 30 minutes.

    To make the filling, place all the ingredients in the food processor and blend until smooth.

    Remove the base from the freezer and spoon the filling over the top.

    Chill for 2 hours in the fridge, or 1 hour in the freezer, until set. Scatter over the extra berries before serving.

    This will keep in an airtight container for up to 1 week in the fridge, or 2 weeks in the freezer.

    By Lee Holmes

    We’ll be sharing loads more of Lee’s incredible recipes here on the Omstars blog, so watch this space!

    Check out more supercharged food recipes by Lee

    Follow her on instagram for more inspiration

     

  • 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

     

     

     

  • 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!

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