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.
Here are my thoughts as to why this is a journey of incredible opportunity:
Whether you have been practicing for many years, or you are new to yoga, or somewhere in between, participation in the 40 Days program will be life changing.
We all know the amazing feeling within our body as we discover a reawakening when we begin to practice yoga. We experience the joy of movement and breath, and the surprise of what we are capable of, and how great we can feel. That’s the physical practice, and through having participated in the 40 days program, I am beginning to understand why that it is just a part of yoga.
The 40 Days Journey To Personal Revolution helps to take yoga off the mat and into your life. It is the joy of waking up, but in so many ways that far exceed the physical. We are very fortunate to have our teacher Christen Scott,Psy.D. to lead the group. She sets a great example, sharing what she has learned with candor, while always being open to others. This journey is definitely unique for everyone, as each person learns different things about themselves, and how they create their world. Members of the group may choose to share some of their experiences, thoughts and feelings with each other, while others may choose to just listen. Either way, it facilitates even more growth for everyone, and creates a strong bond within the group.
For me, what resonated the most in my most recent 40 Days Journey was the awareness that with challenge of any kind you can tap into the resources within yourself that have been there all along. We can choose to be free of the limitations that we impose on ourselves. It is transforming to realize that life is what we perceive it to be, and we can make it what we choose.
The 40 Days To Personal Revolution Program heightens our awareness and provides the perfect spark to move forward and grow. It is not 40 days to the end of the program, it is 40 days to the beginning of new possibility and growth.
Yoga is more than asana, the physical practice of yoga. Although we practice asana, that is only one of the Eight Limbs of Yoga. Oftentimes in class, I will speak to the other limbs (e.g., meditation, breath control). Yoga is a way of being, a way of life. At the studio, we run a program called 40 Days to Personal Revolution and that takes yoga off your mat and into your everyday life. You learn how to access the peace you feel after a yoga class all the time. It is about living yoga as opposed to doing yoga.
In our teacher training, I often say “teach all the time and sometimes teach asana.” It means that you teach people yoga with your way of being. For example, instead of gossiping, you address your issues with the person who are having the difficulty with. You live from abundance and not scarcity. When you are in fear, you notice it but move into action anyway. You grow by stepping outside of your comfort zone. Those are ways of living and teaching yoga.
You do not have to be a yoga teacher to teach yoga. If something in yoga has helped you find more peace and less emotional reactivity, share it with others. I have been known to teach yoga in the waiting line at Comcast and even at gas stations. Remember that a Great yoga teacher teaches all the time and sometimes teaches asana!