“Teach all the time, sometimes even with words” is the quote that reads across the tee shirt I received after completing Level One training with Baron Baptiste in August 2013. These words can be a simple concept at first glance yet they describe a lifestyle I am committed to and practice each day of my life.
I am learning that true leadership is a way of being, how we show up in all areas of our lives, on and off the matt, all the time. This is a practice and as a teacher at The Power Yoga Tribe under the loving leadership of Preston and Christen Scott, I have had the privilege to learn that being a powerful yoga teacher and leader is not about delivering a physically challenging class filled with random yoga postures but rather how I show up in my way of being. At the studio we primarily teach a Baptiste-based vinyasa sequence called Journey Into Power. The name says it all; Journey Into Power provides a consistent flow where you have the opportunity to observe how you are showing up that day without any labels or judgment.
I have found it beneficial to become clear on what I stand for in life, in and out of the studio. A few months ago I sat down and reflected on what this practice has taught me and why I love teaching this style of yoga. The clarity I discovered has empowered me to shine more fearlessly in all areas of my life. This declaration is very dear to my heart and I LOVE sharing it with my friends in the yoga community:
-This practice has taught me how to breathe, even in the most difficult times in my life off of my mat.
-This practice has taught me to step into action, even when I’m feeling sluggish or burned out on or off my mat.
-This practice has taught me to stand for others, no longer an observer of life, but actually standing for someone else, even if I don’t know them personally, holding space for them with the intent to help them grow.
-This practice has taught me good intent. Ability to consciously choose an intent that will be a cause for possibility not only for myself but for the world.
-This practice has taught me to recognize fear, in every aspect of my life, and this has given me the opportunity to instead choose love.
-This practice has taught to me to “get out of the way”, which has brought me closer to God, and helped me to deepen my faith and knowing that He is fully in charge.
Last but not least, to sum up my intention for being a teacher of yoga:
-I SEEK TO SHARE THIS PRACTICE WITH YOU WITH THE INTENT IT WILL INSPIRE AND CHANGE YOUR LIFE IN THE AREAS WHERE YOU ARE SEEKING TRANSFORMATION & PEACE.
I encourage you to take a moment to become clear and write down what you stand for in your life! We are all teachers no matter what job we have or do not have and it is possible to lead and inspire others every day. Take a stand for yourself and for others, we are all meant to shine! Love Always, Ashley Miceli www.ashleymiceli.com
As I sit here reflecting on my one year anniversary at the Power Yoga Tribe I am beaming with joy. It has been a year of growth, acceptance, and courage and I’m eternally grateful to the tribe for bringing out the best in me. A year before joining the tribe I was bouncing around from studio to studio trying to find the one that I wanted to call home. From the moment I walked into The Power Yoga Tribe, I finally found the sense of community that I was longing for. Christen and Preston welcomed me with open arms on my first day. I was accepted on day one and couldn’t wait to go to my second class. Preston encouraged me to explore and let go and try something new. I could feel my inner strength start to break free and the fear of “not being good enough” was no longer a thought taking up space in mind. I was practicing weekly at other studios. When I came to the Power Yoga Tribe I was practicing sometimes 4-5 times per week. Christen told me that “practicing yoga 3 times per week will change your body but 4 times or more will change your life” is so true! With each practice I was craving more and excited to see where my potential would bring me. I started attending workshops like Foundations of the Flow and Easing into the Flow to strengthen my practice. Each workshop has taken my practice to another level by exploring poses I previously thought were impossible for me. In the moment of finally “getting a pose” I am so excited and the sense of pride and accomplishment I feel is indescribable. But it is the feeling in the days and weeks following that is addicting. Letting go of what holds you back and discovering your hidden potential is what pushes me to continue to explore. Last night I was playing with headstand and crashed on my way down. I couldn’t help but laugh and smile because I wasn’t afraid anymore. Previously, I would have been embarrassed by these less than graceful falls. But I wasn’t! Being a little unstable can be a badge of courage for trying something new. My fellow yogi’s cheered me on….for falling! How great is that?!
Aside from the workshops, I am also a successful graduate (and winner!) of the 40 days program. The 40 days program is a life changer! If you are true to yourself and the experience I can promise you that you will see results that you didn’t even know you were looking for. I had the pleasure of going through this program with 4 other women that I feel so connected to. We encouraged and inspired each other. We cried, we cheered, and we shared. Something I haven’t done in a long time. During the six week program, I personally went through a challenging experience at work (that I conquered), finally got the promotion I wanted, started the path of reconnecting with a dear friend, and worked up the courage to finish and submit my graduate school application after five years. The fear of not getting into my program or failing school held me back for so many years. The encouragement from Christen and the other ladies made me realize that I am worthy and I am good enough! I proudly write this testimonial today ending my first semester of graduate school…with straight A’s! I won the 40 days contest…but I won so much more than that. I am forever grateful for the opportunity that was given to me not only in yoga but in life. If all this can happen in one year, I can’t wait to see what year two has for me! Plus, when I walk in they don’t call me by my name anymore. They call me “The winner!” And I am!
The word Yoga means “to yoke, to unite.” It could be the union of mind, body and soul, union with the Divine, or union/community with others. For me, yoga has been all of these things and more. One of the main reasons Preston and I created the Power Yoga Tribe was to create a community of like-minded individuals who would elevate each other to their highest potential. I see that at the Power Yoga Tribe every time I walk into the studio. We are a community and we care for one another. Students rally and support each other through difficulties and celebrate each other’s successes. What is amazing to me is that this extends beyond the Tribe’s four walls.
I recently returned from a Karma Yoga Service Trip to Nicaragua with a few of the Tribe members. We basically engaged in community service activities daily with the local youth from a small fishing village. Despite the language and cultural barriers, we all found connection. By doing yoga together, playing games, hiking a volcano, cleaning up the local beaches of trash, we found union. It wasn’t about us going there to help them. Not at all. It was about us connecting with people from another culture and realizing that we are all truly the same. By being in the present moment and connecting to what it was we were doing, we found union, connection and community. It was 6 days of relationship building. To me it is exactly what the Power Yoga Tribe is all about- Authenticity, Community & Possibility.
I often say that we teach yoga and we sometimes teach asana. That is what this retreat was all about. It was about being truly present, connecting to what was right in front of you, and being open. If you are looking for something more in your life, consider taking yoga into your everyday life. At the Power Yoga Tribe, we provide so many opportunities for this: 30 Day Digital Yoga Challenge (starting 9/1), 200 Hr Yoga Teacher Training Certification (starting 9/12), and 40 Days to Personal Revolution (starting 10/6). If you have found healing and power from the physical practice of yoga, start to explore how to bring yoga into all the other aspects of your life!
I was thinking about what makes practicing and teaching at PYT so special. There are many reasons but the main one is that we are committed to being Great and inspiring others to be Great. Yoga at PYT is not just about the yoga postures (asanas). It is what has inspired Christen and Preston in their yoga journey, which is authenticity, community and possibility. The physical postures are a very small part of this. It is actually only 1/8 of what yoga is all about; there are 8 limbs in yoga with asana being one of the limbs. We, at PYT, see the yoga mat as a vehicle that brings us to our own personal transformation and freedom. That is why getting into more advanced postures don’t mean that much to us. What those postures show us is how anything is possible and how great we can truly be. However, if we never take it off our mats and into our lives and the lives of others, then what are we practicing and teaching? We, at PYT, are teachers of life, possibility, transformation, freedom, and love. Yoga is just the manner in which we teach these things. So if you are ready to take your yoga off your mat and into your life and the lives of others, consider enrolling in PYT’s teacher training certification program. You will be inspired and be inspiring. Remember PYT’s Fall 2014 Teacher Training Program starts on September 12th!
We are in the midst of our 30 Day Digital Yoga Challenge. We are at Day 12 to be exact. What an amazing journey this has been so far. We have discussed and experienced so many things: presence, mindfulness, authenticity, acceptance, gratitude, equanimity, and even joy. I am so blessed to be leading these yogis on a daily journey of yoga, meditation, diet choices, self-awareness, and most importantly, connection. I say connection because that is what yoga is all about. The word Yoga means union, to yoke, to bring together.
After 12 days, a number of people have stated that it has been helpful to realize that they are not the only ones who feel, think, and experience certain judgments and insecurities. When people get real and share openly and honestly, they start to see that they are just like everyone else. We all feel not good enough. We all experience fear. When we become aware that everyone experiences this, we can drop our masks and stop hiding our truth from the world. When we do this, we become less isolated and more connected. Think about it…how connected do you feel when you hide who you are from others? It is totally isolating. However, when we share our truth and we get the sense that others have also experienced it, we drop our guards and connect heart to heart. That is what has been unfolding over the past 12 days in our private Facebook group. Have you ever met someone who you didn’t think you liked until you realized how much you had in common? I often find that once someone gets real with me, I can’t help but like them because they are me and I am them.
So even if you are not in this 30 Day Digital Yoga Challenge, take the challenge to get Real. The more real you get with people, the more real they will get with you. At that point, you will be amazed at how much connection and community become a part of your life.
Yoga Bootcamp happens every Wednesday at 8:45am and 6pm at Power Yoga Tribe.
It is a heated 75-minute practice that starts with a 15-minute Sun Salutation warm-up. The yoga bootcamp portion of the class is approximately 30 minutes where we incorporate interval training with yoga postures.
Examples: Side Plank Alternating with a Push-Up in between each side, Crescent Lunge to Knee Raise, Eagle Crunches
Each yoga interval lasts 1 minute and then the posture or posture sequence changes. All the poses can be amplified or modified so it is accessible to the beginner yogi as well as to the advanced practitioner. All of this is set to upbeat, inspiring music. After the bootcamp portion of the class is complete, the class ends with some backbends and 15 minutes of restorative yoga (hip openers, forwards folds, inversions).
What’s different about this class is that it takes your practice to new and different places. It builds physical and mental strength. Because it is a physically challenging practice and not something we do often, we often create stories that we aren’t strong enough to do it etc… Christen helps you become aware of the negative mental scripts that run in your head. Once you are aware of them, you have a choice to listen to them or not. This class shows you that you are as powerful as you believe you are.
All of this happens in fun and lighthearted environment. The PYT community is so inspiring to one another, encouraging each other to keep going and never quit. Your abs will be sore you when you leave this class from laughing so hard. We laugh, sing and get downright crazy. That is what Yoga Bootcamp is all about… it’s a big Yoga Party!
Tribal Flow: Sundays 8:30-9:45am- Starting May 4, 2014!
Tell us about what the Tribal Flow Class is all about?
It is a 75-minute heated organic vinyasa class set to yogic music to facilitate a deeper meditative experience. This class will have minimal cuing and prolonged periods of silence. For example, when class starts, you will have the opportunity to move in whatever way you feel during Integration. You may choose 1/2 box, externally rotating your hip, or even flipping your dog. This class is intended to give you freedom to explore what your body wants. It is what we call “yoga doing you;” the poses will tell you where your body is and what it needs. I, as the teacher, am there to set you free. Your inspiration comes from you. You are allowed to mindfully explore how you feel physically, emotionally, and even spiritually in each pose. This is where your life shows up, when you stop to listen to what is going on inside. You might even become aware of how your nutrition affects your body and your practice. This is all about deepening your awareness of yourself and your practice.
Most of the poses in the class will have 3 levels: a basic level, an intermediate level, and the full expression of the pose. You will have the opportunity to take whatever level you like. During our regular power classes, we do not have the time to explore the different variations of the poses so this is your chance to do so.
Some examples of this 3 levels to a pose are:
Rag Doll to- Standing Split to- Handstand
Extended Side Angle to- Extended Side Angle with a 1/2 or Full Bind to- Bird of Paradise
Since you are practicing as a community, you will often find inspiration from what your fellow yogis are capable of. This class is about exploring what is possible. All of this transfers off the mat and into your life. So when you start to see possibility on the mat, you start to see it off the mat as well.
Why Do You Teach Yoga and Why Teach This Class?
My goal as a yoga teacher is to set people free, to bring people closer to God, to allow them to hear their angels, and to allow them to create miracles in their lives. This class offers more freedom and self exploration so that people can sop thinking and start listening to what is going on inside. When they can finally quiet their minds, then they will be free and open. Once they are free, they can be truly Great.
When you practice yoga, there is always somewhere new to go. I remember the first time I was in a yoga class and the teacher called “Crow.” I had no idea how these people were balancing all of their body weight on their hands. The teacher kept saying “Christen, just do it.” I was absolutely dumbfounded on how this was even a possibility. The reason I could not get into crow that day was because I believed it was impossible. When we don’t think we can do something, we typically don’t even try. That was me over 10 years ago.
Then there was Level 1 Teacher Training with Baron Baptiste. We were working on our handstands. An assistant was working with me on getting my hips over my shoulders in handstand. I remember saying, “I just can’t.” Out of nowhere, Baron comes over from across the room and says, “did you say I can’t? Because if you believe that, you never will.” It was absolutely true. I could not imagine that I had the strength to hold a handstand in the middle of the room. That was me about 6 years ago.
Today I can do crow and many variations of crow including jumping into it from downdog. I am still working on holding my handstand in the middle of the room but now I can hold it for at least a few seconds. The difference between then and now is that I believe that anything is possible. I now see possibilities everywhere. If someone is trying a challenging combination of poses instead of giving up on myself, I just start playing and see what happens.
I often tell my students “You can’t until you believe you will.” I have many students who say they will never jump back from crow until I assist them and help them see what is possible. Once they start to see some possibility (perhaps through an assist) then they are able to do it on their own. Conversely, I have beginner students who believe they can do anything and they are doing advanced poses within weeks of starting to practice.
Just like everything else…what happens on the mat, transfers off the mat. When you stop limiting yourself and start living from a place of possibility, your entire world begins to change. Opportunities start to present themselves everywhere. Even more importantly, your way of being starts to inspire other people around you. They stop giving up on themselves and start believing in possibility. All of this is related to the law of attraction…what you focus on, you give energy to. Start focusing on possibility and let me know how that turns out for you
The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali are basically like the “yoga bible.” In the Sutras, the entire science of yoga is clearly delineated. Many yoga students do not know about the Sutras until they embark on a yoga teacher training. We are going to start to explore 2 of the main Sutras here.
The Yoga Sutras teach us that the goal of yoga is “the restraint of the modifications of the mind-stuff.” Yoga teaches us that we are more than our thoughts. The goal of yoga is to be able to witness and control your thoughts as opposed to being controlled by your thoughts. Yoga helps us see that the entire world is based on our thoughts and thus, the entire world is a complete projection. Our stress does not come from an experience, it comes from our thoughts/interpretations about the experience. Once we start to become aware of our distressing thoughts, we can choose to not let them control us. “Things outside neither bind nor liberate you; only your attitude towards them does that.”
Patanjali tells us that “practice becomes firmly grounded when well attended for a long time, without break and in all earnestness.” Just like anything else, we need to practice yoga for a long time, continuously, and with full attention and faith. Yoga is a daily practice. It is a discipline. Controlling the fluctuations of the mind is not an easy task so why would it just happen. It doesn’t. It takes patience, devotion and faith for us to start to experience the benefits of yoga.
In our practice at PYT, we say practice 3x a week to change your body and practice 5x a week to change your life. The more you practice in earnestness, the more likely you are to experience the benefits of yoga. In our society, we like things to happen fast, quick fixes. I have heard it said that you are a beginner yogi for the first 10 years of practice. Yoga is a discipline. If you want to attain the goal of yoga and live a peaceful, joyful life, you must practice “for a long time, without break and in all earnestness.” Commit to your practice, commit to yourself and see what the magic of yoga is really all about.
Yoga has so many benefits ranging from physical, emotional, mental and even spiritual. No matter what your reason for starting yoga was, you probably have noticed that yoga can definitely help with reducing your stress level. Studies have found that yoga affects your brain chemistry even after one class. Research has shown that yoga increases a chemical called GABBA that stimulates ares of your brain that stop you from feeling depressed and anxious. That “blissed-out” feeling after your yoga class is not just from exhaustion, you are actually changing your brain when you do yoga!
Okay, so what do you do if you can not get to a yoga class and you had a stressful day? There are a few breathing techniques and yoga poses that are specifically designed to activate the relaxation response in your nervous system (specifically called your parasympathetic nervous system). First, start by breathing in and out of your nose through the whisper muscles in the back of your throat. We call this an Ujjayi breath. Another type of breath is belly breathing- put your hand on your belly and when you breathe in, your belly goes out and when you breathe out, your belly goes in. Now try to count your breaths. Breathe out twice as long as you breathe in. So if you breathe in for a count of 3, breathe out for a count of 6. Do this for about 5 minutes and you will notice that this will calm you. A great restorative and calming yoga pose is legs up the wall. You lay on your back and put your legs up the wall for 5-15 minutes. This will send oxygenated blood to your brain and also restore your nervous system. When you combine the breath and the “legs up the wall” pose, you have a great stress reduction tool. This works for anybody so pass it on to your friends, family, kids and co-workers. Everyone can benefit from less stress and more yoga in their ives.