• Getting on the Mat: Why is it so Hard Sometimes?

    The way we practice, why we get on our mats, the directions we explore to experience something. There are so many possibilities. Do the differences matter? I think so. Whatever it is that’s getting you onto your mat or guiding your explorations needs to feed your soul. If it doesn’t, then we risk losing the motivation to practice and assume that means “it’s just not for me.”

    Think about the first time you fell in love with the practice. Did you need to find the motivation to go back to class? It seems to be less about cultivating discipline and more about stripping the practice down until all you’re left with is love for it because this practice really is an experience to fall in love with. We step on our mats because we want to. We want to experience the movement of energy and feel what’s going on beneath the surface. There will be moments of difficulty but if love is there, we’ll have the courage to go into those moments. For me, the process of coming back to a place of love for this practice when I’ve forgotten involved simplifying the practice, slowing it down and making it less physically intense so I could allow space for genuine connection to the practice to take root again. Many times it was about re-discovering the depth and potency of surya namaskara and allowing that to support the rest of the practice.

    Don’t practice because you’re bad, and it’ll make you good, a mindset that takes us out of the present and further from where we are right now. Practice because the experience itself is pulling you towards it. Whatever that means for you on any given day. Whatever length of time that means. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that we’re making it to the mat to explore and hold the body in ways that facilitate more balanced pathways. We’re restructuring those energy pathways in subtle ways so that new patterns of relating to ourselves and the world show up off the mat in more tangible ways.

    We don’t need to cultivate the discipline to practice 6 times a week because we should. We’re falling in love with the breath, tapping into a curiosity for it so that when a new day starts, we want to greet it by stepping on the mat – a space to connect to it more openly and meet ourselves exactly where we are. To feel what the breath is telling us in each moment. To settle into each moment and stay open to its spontaneous unfolding, rather than keep our sights outwards on where we think we should be.

    If that genuine excitement and curiosity is there, you don’t need a structure telling you when to practice. I think that’s the potential danger in following a structure or format for practice too rigidly – you’re told exactly what to practice and when to practice it and how many postures to do each day. Following a specific structure that’s been given to everyone can distract you into applying the effects of a practice without connecting with the cause of it; without going in to do the work yourself and allowing whatever comes from that process to inform what the practice looks like on the outside. Applying aesthetic – like length of time you’re on the mat and external form – from the outside in will burn you out. For most people, it’ll eventually take them to a place where they feel they have to practice and forget why they fell in love in the first place.

    Find what naturally pulls you to your mat, don’t just adopt a reason because someone who you think is spiritual said it was their reason. It can be to experience the intelligence of the breath or energy moving in sensation. It can be to feel the body opening and stabilizing. Or something totally different and unique to you. Then, allow the practice to look however it needs to in order to connect to that curiosity and interest. At first, they might seem like simple things, but that’s the mindset yoga is bringing us back to. One that is in awe of the simplest and most seemingly mundane things. Like a child, we go back to our roots. Go back to the foundations in asana and find out for yourself how exciting they can be. Deconstruct the basics, take them apart, stay a little longer than you normally would, move into them using a new approach. What do you find? Look again. And then don’t stop looking again because that process IS the practice, and that’s where you’ll find the inclination to get back on the mat tomorrow. Who knows maybe it’ll make you want to start practicing asana 6 days a week. Maybe not.

    If the genuine desire to practice isn’t there, then ask yourself why. If something feels off in the practice, it’s because something probably is. For me, when I’ve been in unmotivated moments, it’s been because I’m doing more than I should be doing. Pushing my body to do a practice that, when I looked closer, was too much physically during a particular time in my life. I was in pain and left feeling depleted. If you’re down, in pain, or going through something hard in your life, let the asana practice be soft and perhaps shorter. Allow yourself to feel those things. Let them in to allow the practice to be a reflection of where you are. Don’t force the practice to be a reflection of where you think you ‘should’ be. The path of pushing through and enduring doesn’t work long term.

    Other times the practice felt forced because I was doing things off the mat that didn’t support a healthy body and mind. In that way, the practice becomes a mirror for what I was doing outside asana practice, a space for compassionate confrontation. A gentle reminder that we should make the effort to practice yoga all day. On the mat, if we’re open to feedback, we’ll be guided into developing a practice that uniquely works for us and one that can blossom into a state we tap into all the time, in everything we do.

    By Monica Arellano

    Practice LIVE on Omstars with Monica Arellano

    Monica Arellano is a Level 2 Authorized teacher in the Ashtanga Yoga Method; a formal blessing received by her teacher R. Sharath Jois in Mysore, India. She first connected to the practice of yoga in 2010, looking for a more peaceful way of being. When she found her way to Miami Life Center in 2014 she began a regular Ashtanga Yoga practice and soon after completed a 2 year apprenticeship program under Tim Feldmann. Today she continues to practice, teach and travel regularly to Mysore, India to learn yoga directly from the source. Monica’s teachings are informed by the knowledge carried on from her teachers and the first-hand experience from her daily asana and meditation practice. Her classes emphasize the breath, alignment, and methods of concentration; in hopes of exploring the deeper experience of asana and the resulting expression in each student’s unique and mind. In this space, she believes we can deconstruct unhealthy patterns, facilitate healing on many levels, and find our way back to the most honest version of ourselves.

    This blog was originally posted on monicarellano.com

  • How Yoga Benefits Your Daily Life

    “Yoga opened my heart up to God, made me feel comfortable in my own skin, and has given me so much peace.” – Kino MacGregor

    When we think of yoga, the first thing that often comes to mind is the physical benefits of the practice. While it’s true that yoga benefits the body, there are also many benefits to be gained from a regular yoga practice that extend far beyond the physical.

    When you make the commitment to the yoga journey, you’ll find that every time you step onto your mat you bring more peace and happiness into your life. This doesn’t mean that your yoga journey will be easy. Most things worth pursuing aren’t, but every moment you spend practicing will train your mind and bring you closer to the inner peace we all crave.

    How does yoga bring inner peace? It does so by teaching us some of the most important lessons in life.

    Yoga teaches us how to overcome difficulty

    When we face challenges in our lives, it can be difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel. We may feel like we are stuck in a rut and that there is no way out. However, yoga teaches us that difficulties are only temporary and that they can be overcome with time and practice.

    When we practice asanas, we see improvement over time. As we continue in our practice our bodies change, and we find ourselves able to do poses that might have seemed impossible to us when we first started practicing. Yoga gives you concrete examples in your life of difficult things improving over time.

    Through yoga, we learn how to be patient and how to persevere through tough times.

    Yoga also gives us discipline

    It is easy to get caught up in our daily lives and forget about our health and wellbeing. However, when we have a regular yoga practice, we are reminded to take time for ourselves and to focus on our breath and body. Yoga helps us to slow down and to be present in the moment. It is a chance for us to step away from our hectic lives and to focus on our health.

    When we have a regular yoga practice, we are more likely to make healthy choices in other areas of our lives as well. We are more likely to eat healthy foods and to get enough sleep. We are also more likely to be less stressed and to have more energy. The discipline of a daily practice extends into all aspects of our lives.

    Yoga teaches us compassion

    Yoga helps us connect with our breath and our bodies in a way that we may not have been able to do before. It helps us slow down and be present in the moment. And it also teaches us compassion – for ourselves and for others around us.

    When we are present in our yoga practice, we are able to see ourselves more clearly. We see our strengths and weaknesses, and we learn to accept ourselves as we are. This self-acceptance then extends to others around us. We become more compassionate towards those who are struggling because we know what it feels like to struggle ourselves.

    Yoga also helps us to see the interconnectedness of all beings. We realize that we are not alone in this world and that we are all connected. This sense of connection then leads to compassion for others, because we understand that their experiences are similar to our own.

    When we practice yoga regularly, we find that we are more patient, more disciplined, and more compassionate. We become better people because of our practice, and we learn to see the world in a different way. There are many reasons to practice yoga. It the power to change us from the inside out, and that is why it is such a special practice. Try it for yourself and see how it can transform your life.

    Start your Omstars membership today to get expert guidance for your at-home yoga practice.

    By Omstars

    Photo by Mikita Karasiou on Unsplash

  • How to Make Practicing Yoga Part of Your Daily Life

    I’ve practiced consistently 6 days a week for the past 6 months. I went from someone who hardly ever stepped on the mat to someone who makes time for practice every day. Here’s how I did it.

    Sometimes, even though you want to practice, you just don’t feel like it. It’s difficult to get out the yoga mat and even attempting a single sun salutation makes you feel tired. If you’ve experienced that, you’re not alone. I’ve been there too. You want to have a consistent yoga practice and start a yoga habit, but it’s hard.

    My practice hasn’t been all sunshine and rainbows. After injuring my shoulder, I struggled to get back on my yoga mat. Practicing regularly was the last thing I wanted to do, but after an extended break I realized I missed it.

    Starting an old habit up again wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. Even though I knew how good my yoga practice made me feel getting back into the yoga habit was difficult, but with a bit of time I figured out how to get myself back into the habit of practicing.

    I’ve practiced consistently 6 days a week for the past 6 months. I went from someone who hardly ever stepped on the mat to someone who makes time for practice every day.

    Let’s look at the crucial steps I took to having a consistent yoga practice.

    Put yoga on your daily calendar

    The first step is to pencil in your yoga practice into your day. Just like you would an important meeting or dinner with friends. If you don’t have a time for it, you won’t do it.

    I understand that some days are busier than others, but try to at least put aside 5 minutes for yourself. It doesn’t have to be a long, elaborate yoga practice. You can do just one sun salutation.

    5 minutes of practice is better than no practice at all. Even if it’s just standing in mountain pose for a few moments, breathing, and truly being present. The key is to show up for yourself every day.

    Some people like to practice first thing in the morning, but if that’s not possible for you, find a time that works in your schedule. If you have to practice at night, that’s totally fine too.

    The important thing is that you make it a priority and put it on your calendar. Once it’s on there, treat it like any other appointment you can’t miss.

    Make having a consistent yoga practice easy

    Make it easy for yourself to practice. This means removing any obstacles that might stand in your way.

    For me, that means making sure my yoga mat and props are visible. They sit in the corner of my office and everything I see them I remember I need to practice.

    You could set up your yoga space so it is inviting and comfortable. You could choose what you want to wear to practice the day before and make sure everything you need is in one place.

    If you’re practicing at home, take a few minutes to set up your space before you begin. If you’re going to the studio, make sure you have your yoga mat and any other props you might need.

    You don’t want to be fumbling around looking for things when you could be practicing. The easier you make it on yourself, the more likely you are to actually do it.

    Set a realistic goal

    If you’re just starting out, your goal might be to practice 20 minutes a day.

    If you’ve been practicing for a while, your goal might be to practice longer. Whatever it is, make sure it’s something that you can actually commit to.

    Don’t set a goal that’s too lofty or unrealistic because you’ll only end up feeling bad when you don’t reach it. Just set a simple, attainable goal that you know you can commit to.

    Find a yoga class or group

    There’s nothing like being part of a community of people who are all committed to their yoga practice.

    If you can’t find a class or group where you live, there are plenty of online yoga classes you can join. Omstars has more than 4,000 on-demand classes and daily live classes you can practice with. No matter what type of yoga you’re interested in or what level you’re currently at, you’ll find something here to meet your needs.

    I love taking this yoga class on days I don’t feel like practicing.

    The important thing is to find something that works for you and that you enjoy. If you don’t like the class you’re in, or the video you’re following, you’re not going to want to practice.

    So find something that you like and that feels good for your body. Then stick with it.

    Remember why you want to have a consistent yoga practice

    What is it about yoga that drew you in?

    For me, it was the way I felt after I practiced. I feel calmer, more centered, and more present.

    I also love the physical challenge of yoga. It’s a way for me to connect with my body in a new way.

    Whatever your reasons are, make sure you keep them at the forefront of your mind. Because when the going gets tough (and it will), these are the things that will motivate you to keep practicing.

    Practice regularly

    The more you do it, the easier it will become. Eventually, you’ll get to the point where you won’t feel right if you don’t practice. Yoga will become such an important part of your day that skipping it won’t be an option for you. It will just be part of your daily routine – something you do without even thinking about it.

    But it all starts with taking that first step and making the commitment to practice regularly. So if you’re ready to make yoga part of your life, follow these steps and you’ll be on your way.

    By Lovelyn Bettison

    Lovelyn Bettison has been everything from a massage therapist to a life coach, but her life didn’t start falling into place until she decided to put all other pursuits aside and follow her childhood dream of being a writer. When she’s not doing copywriting for companies like Omstars, she writes scary stories about things that go bump in the dark. She also runs a pretty popular newsletter about all things spooky and supernatural. If you like that sort of thing, you really should click the link to download a free copy of her novella “A Haunting at Cabin Lake.”

    Click here to download your free novella.

    Photo by Julia Caesar on Unsplash

  • Find Out Why These Omstars Teachers Practice Yoga

    “I feel blessed every time I teach that I can be a conduit for the teachings of yoga. I can get out of the way knowing that any transformation that takes place is the grace that happens between the student and their practice.” – Anamargret Sanchez

    We do our best to gather the most amazing yoga teachers in the world to teach Omstars members. They are dedicated to the practice and have so much to share with you. Today we’ve asked Marie Belle Perez Rivera, Shawn J. Moore, Anamargret Sanchez, and Henry Winslow to share some of their yoga experiences. Keep reading to find out why they practice and what advice they have for new yoga students.

    Why do you practice?

    Shawn J. Moore

    I practice to be in alignment with Self. For me, practice is practical, spiritual, and developmental.

    Anamargret Sanchez

    To stay awake to Life.

    Marie Belle Perez Rivera

    I love the connection and processing

    Henry Winslow

    I practice to understand myself, and to realize the best possible version of myself in this lifetime.

    Why do you teach?

    Shawn J. Moore

    Representation matters. I teach so people that look like me know that these practices are for them and beneficial to them.

    Anamargret Sanchez

    Because I love to share the rich beauty of Yoga. And I feel blessed every time I teach that I can be a conduit for the teachings. I can get out of the way knowing that any transformation that takes place is the grace that happens between the student and their practice.

    Marie Belle Perez Rivera

    I love connecting with the community, learning from them, and sharing in the process

    Henry Winslow

    To help others do understand themselves and realize the best possible versions of themselves.

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

    Shawn J. Moore

    As a student – just sticking with the practice past some of the microagressions I experienced.

    Anamargret Sanchez

    When my intuition very strongly led me to my Himalayan Tantric lineage. I had never heard that inner voice speak so loudly or clearly.

    Marie Belle Perez Rivera

    The most inspirational moment I’ve experienced as a yoga student was finding my people, those willing to look at themselves, work with what is, and continue to do their work consistently, for a long period of time, with devotion.

    Henry Winslow

    In 2018 I won the World Yoga Asana Championships in Beijing, China. Plenty of people scoff at the idea of competitive yoga, and I think that’s totally fair. But I still point to my experience competing as both a major struggle and a major milestone because of the lessons I learned on stage. I competed for several years at the regional and even national level, and every time I would be well prepared and polished, only to stumble once it was my turn under the spotlight. The year that I progressed all the way to internationals and won first place was the year that I finally allowed myself to relax. I stopped trying to be the absolute best, and simply made my goal to do what was average for me. I’d always heard and understood intellectually that putting undue pressure on oneself wasn’t helpful, but the yoga championships ingrained this knowing in my physical body.

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

    Shawn J. Moore

    Inspiring my students at Morehouse College (I teach full-time) to get involved in meditation and yoga.

    Anamargret Sanchez

    I’ve had many. But the most recent one was when a student told me that her yoga practice brought her back to her spirituality. That made my heart soar.

    Marie Belle Perez Rivera

    I had an experience in DC once that really shook me to my core and grounded me at the same time. In the city, we are taught to lock all doors at the beginning of class. If someone is late, they can take the next class. For some reason, this day I didn’t lock the door. 10 minutes into class, I had 3 students run in and roll their mats out to practice. I was a bit confused and locked the door after them. Class went as planned. After class, the students stayed after to thank me for leaving the door unlocked. There had been a shooting outside and they ran for cover. Our door was the only one unlocked so they came in to practice. They thanked me for leaving the door unlocked, accepting them, and guiding them into stillness.

    Henry Winslow

    When studios shut down worldwide in response to COVID-19, I was surprised, impressed, and inspired by the yoga community’s adaptability. Studios, teachers, and students rallied, stumbled their way through standing up online classes, and continued to support each other when everyone needed it most.

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

    Shawn J. Moore

    Approach the practice from a place of exploration.

    Anamargret Sanchez

    Student first. Teacher second. Consistent practice is key. Fill your toolbox. Be the light.

    Marie Belle Perez Rivera

    Practice, explore, listen to your intuition, remain grateful, curious, resilient

    Henry Winslow

    Never compare yourself to others — only to yourself, yesterday.

    By Omstars

    Sign up for an Omstars membership to take your yoga practice to the next level.

    Click here to start your 14-day free trial today!