All posts by anahata

Thoughts lead to action

I was watching a commentary on 9/11 recently, and the reporter asked this individual, “Now a whole generation has grown up, without knowing of 9/11;  Why do you think it’s so important to keep on telling this story?”  He said words to this affect….

“Hatred expressed as anger will lead to destructive action, compassion expressed as anger will lead to positive change”.   Dali Lama

In other words, we are all capable of hatred; we all have amounts of dark and light within us.  Every day we make a choice as to what we will bring out, positive or negative thoughts.  

Our thoughts –  even unspoken, can lead to action down the road. 

Recently I was rushing to get to a store before they closed, and ran into some slow traffic.  Now all of you know, how type A I am…..before yoga, I would have said some choice words, had some hand waving going on, and encouraged the guy to move faster.  Driving close to him, I was paying attention, and kept a steady rhythm of chanting, something I almost always do in the car.  I made it to the store, and returned the tool I had borrowed, and went over to the studio to teach.  A student came in early to find me in a quiet state, meditating.  Coming out, I said hello, and they wondered what I was doing.  I told him about returning the tool, rushing, and he said, “I’ll bet you said some choice words”.  I replied, “No, I didn’t, but I thought them, and that’s just as bad as saying them.”

Here is proof positive that the practice of yoga can make you a kinder, more compassionate person.   I have mostly been successful in not planting bad seeds of saying unkind words, but I still have some work to do.  

There is a lot of reasons that people start the practice of yoga; flexibility, health, de-stressing, or other reasons.  It’s the same as me.  I didn’t think that making my hamstring longer might change my thoughts from negative to positive, but it has.  

I have also seen in my years of teaching, people start and stop their yoga practice.  I think they get close to this truth, this deep stuff we all hold inside, and get scared and stop practicing.  When you hit a deep groove of darkness in your life, it’s easier to stop all the positive things you have been doing, and fall down into the dark well that encompasses us.  It takes courage and a great deal of commitment to keep on the path, even if your body tells you something different.  Sometimes you might even wonder, why I did the same set of poses day after day, this can’t be doing anything for me….

The yoga philosophy says, that very regular, consistent practice is what we should be doing.  They don’t mention doing any specific poses.  So, show up, practice everyday.  See what comes up, and see how you change.  I told my class to practice yoga not to become a yogi Rockstar or achieve a certain pose, but practice yoga to become a better human.  

And that is what I’m striving for:  to become a better human.

See you on the mat,

Paula

One crucial missing piece from Yoga

You might think “yoga” is all movement, but the yoga sutras, which are threads of knowledge written down a long time ago only refer to the asanas 3 times out of 196 sutras. That means that our understanding of yoga (down dog, triangle, etc,.) can be very limited. But let’s say we are coming to yoga for some very serious problems; any type of pain anywhere in the body, hyper tension, stress, cancer, diabetes or other serious issues. You would want the yoga to work as effectively as it could, right? and Yes, I do know of people who have used yoga to cure themselves of cancer. More importantly, you would pick a place to practice yoga where all of yoga was practiced, not just movement but breath work, understanding of the sutras, meditation and all of what yoga is.

I started my yoga practice at the gym. When I decided to become a yoga teacher, I picked a studio and started practicing there. Right away I noticed a huge difference. The studio taught to multi layered class that catered to everyone, whether you will new or advanced. The gym taught everybody the same thing. the gyms teachers often have their hands tied due to policy on what they can teach.

“Often good teachers are limited in their teaching due to policy. Many gyms in the US do not allow yoga teachers to teach inversions, backward bending poses and arm balances due to liability issues. However, at a yoga studio, there is no such limitations and practice can be truly wholesome.” Written by Seattle Yoga News, see whole article HERE.

My journey to healing started at the yoga studio. It felt very real, very different than the gym, and it felt so right. Everyone has to start somewhere, and gym yoga is much better than no yoga. If you want the full yoga come to a studio. It will blow your mind.

Strong inside, strong outside.

What is Mental toughness, and why would you want to cultivate it? Mental toughness is noticing what you are feeling, and not letting it take over your emotional state. It’s being a quiet witness to your emotions. Yes, you feel your anger, but you do not speak/yell of your anger.

Last week I went to see Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, and besides a wonderful meditation he guided us through, I will remember this quote of his well……

“A Strong Mind can carry a weak body, but a weak mind cannot carry a strong body”

I am proof positive that through the active use of yoga postures, mental toughness can and should be learned in the mind. In my younger days, I used to cry at the drop of a bucket, getting a speeding ticket, someone criticizing me, standing up for my self, or any Hallmark commercial. I really disliked when I could not control my emotions, and would let tears roll, or speak angrily of someone I loved. I simply thought this is the way I am, and I will always be like this….I had no idea there was a way out..

As I did my yoga practice, the focus went more on my emotions and how I was feeling, and less venting to others the things I thought I couldn’t change. Sometimes I did vent, but usually, when we complain to others, there is something we can change about the situation or how we are viewing it. As I did this, a sort of mental toughness became part of me. It felt really good to have control of my emotions, and not the other way around.

Do not get this concept confused with burying your emotions, which often happens to the opposite sex. Emotions that go buried, often come out later in life as sickness, or a dis ease that one feels, and doesn’t quite know how to get rid of it.

Each and every yoga practice helps create a more calm, peaceful centered you, to take out into the world. It’s incredibly freeing!!

See you on the mat,

Paula

The New Norm

I find it very funny that before a regular yoga practice was established in my body and mind, I thought I was good.  I thought it’s natural to have the flu, viruses, sinus issues, allergies, not to mention racing thoughts, not being able to concentrate on one thing at a time.  I thought this is what everyone experiences, and this is a natural way to live.  I also lived in envy, being envious of others who looked like they have their life “together”, and here was me, just floating along, not really having many goals, or not knowing I can direct my life, and get what I want, and really be who I want to be.  Can anyone else relate?

I thought I was subject to the laws of nature, and would die someday, probably not die peacefully like everyone wants, but be subjected to sickness, diseases, and or mobility issues.  I’m not drinking some “yoga kool aid” that makes everything sunshine and roses, but I know through this practice, that most of the above maladies can be overcome with regular practice, even if I couldn’t move.

And OMG, the benefits to the mind!!!  Things that used to really bother me, just don’t get me stirred up.  It’s not that I’ve become complacent, and just let everything roll off my shoulders, but I have so much more compassion than I ever did.  That person or family member that is annoyed or angry with me; I know how being in that spot feels, and that one can’t hold on to those strong emotions for very long, for they tear you up from the insides.  

That all changed with a regular practice of yoga.  I know what it is, and how it works, but back then, I thought it was all a bit of magic dust in the air of the studio.  It starts at the top of your mat; where one day you are feeling strong, capable, and then the next day, not.  What has happened between yesterday and today, and what thoughts am I having, that I need to let go of to be strong and capable?  In the beginning of yoga, my mind raced so much I couldn’t discern an individual thought, because it was like having 6 radio stations going off in my head, all at the same level, and same time.  But with regular practice I started to notice my thoughts, and was really able to let go of most of the thoughts that kick your own arse.  

I know full well how obstacles can come in our life, and disrupt our very way of being.  When my mind is at peace, I know that all around me will be peace.  It’s such a wonderful place to be.  

Yes, there will be ups and downs in life…..but we can choose to become steady in our body, mind and spirit, and do the work we are supposed to be doing here.

See you on the mat,

Paula

Disease VS. DIS EASE

When I was in my 30’s and 40’s, a common theme of mine, would be “I’m going to do that”, or “come first of the year I will go to the gym everyday” things that I would repeat to others or myself.  Very often, that time never came, and I would be at ground zero again.  With yoga a firm place in my life, I can no longer say things I’m going to do, and not do them.  If I do mis-speak, I feel my throat tighten up in protest.  Ethically and morally, it just feels better to do the things I promised.  That means taking an honest good looking at myself, and not overextending and promising things I don’t have the time for.  This is tough to do, as most of us, on some level want to be people pleasers. 

People will actually respect and like you more if you honestly say, that is over extending my time, or talent, or resources now, I just can’t do that now.  This means I give when I have some, and when I don’t, I don’t give to anyone.  

When Covid disrupted our lives, it really broke our routines.  We created routines for working out, and doing yoga, and in Covid days, the gyms were not deemed “safe places”, which I still think was a huge mis statement.  How could gyms be dirtier than 100 people running about Krogers, or the mall?  It just did not make sense.  

When I was driving the other day, I saw a sign, “College Hill Yoga”.  Since I was going to be in this neighborhood, I decided to look them up, and take a visit.  When I pulled up the website, a big black banner across said, “We are sad to say, we are closing our doors in August.”  Their landlord was raising rent again, and levels in yoga studios are still not back up to where they were before Covid.  This yogi has been in business for quite some time, and this was just the last nail in the coffin.  I stopped by for practice, which was amazing BTW, and we talked afterwards.  I offered him a position at Anahata, and we’ll see, he might come up and teach here.  But one thing he mentioned stuck with me.  He said after he sent the email saying they were closing, a bunch of former clients said, “oh gee, so sorry to hear this, I’ve been meaning to get back to it, I just haven’t got around to doing it yet”.

Well sorry, it’s a little too late for that, and College Hill Yoga now!  I really felt for them, and his clients;  the clients who are practicing now, are going to lose their place to practice, and the clients who said they would be back and haven’t, are also going to suffer from DIS ease.  (spoken like my teacher). 

From a chiropractor:  

“Disease is actually the end result of Dis-ease. This is not hair splitting or simple semantics. There is a clear distinction and all true health care is in recognition of this distinction. Dis-ease is a situation of un-ease; it is a body which is not at ease, which means that it is not within proper function. A body in dis-ease is on the road to disease. It does not matter whether symptoms of disease or any manifestation of disease exist at the present moment or not. If a body is not at ease, if it is not within proper function, it is in a state of disharmony – dis-ease. The state of dis-ease does not have any symptoms. You cannot feel disharmony when it first occurs. Only in a state of disharmony can disease manifest. Only in a state of dis-ease, disharmony, or malfunction can disease exist. Even in the case of microbial diseases, what are known as bacterial or viral infections, the “disease” can only exist in a body which is already in a state of dis-ease or internal disharmony. Only when internal disharmony exists first, can a disease manifest within that individual body.”

Yoga practice establishes the harmony back into the body, mind and spirit.  Meditating, moving with yoga asana, chanting, all are practices that bring us back to EASE and harmony in the body. Doing yoga and following the code of ethics of yoga are a big reason to keep yoga in your daily routine.  

Before practicing yoga every day, I felt ok, that is, I didn’t know any different.  Now after years of practicing yoga every day, I will never go back to that old person, for I never realized how much Yoga ADDS to my life.  It adds JOY, EASE, HARMONY!

Are you reading this and wanting to get back, yet something you feel is blocking you?  Please contact me, we can work something out!  I want everyone to feel as good as I feel everyday!!

Namaste,

Paula

When difficulties arise/how to plant good seeds.

On this path of yoga, obstacles will surely come your way.  Not to slow you down, but for you to find out who and what you are.  They provide fuel for your journey.  At first when they come, they are major annoyances. You cry, wail;  “how am I ever going to get over this”?  but the dust settles down, and you find a way, and then your’e back doing what you should be doing.  

There is a certain, quiet steadiness that comes from tackling these problems that is very beneficial to your whole being.

Before yoga, I was an emotional train wreck.  I would cry at the smallest problems that came my way.  When many problems come your way, and slowly but surely you are able to solve them, an emotional steadiness and stability comes your way.  Like being strong in the midst of a storm around you. 

Remember the golden rule of yoga, what you do/think/act for others is what you get for yourself.  For many years, I’ve been working hard at planting good seeds and trying my best to do good deeds for others.  Let me tell you about my current mess, and how it’s all unfolding as it should.  

I purchased a house to renovate in College Hill in early spring.  It needs extensive renovation, front porch is sagging, back deck is gone, possible foundation issues, etc.  In fact, first thing we had to do was replace the basement steps because they had rotted out.  Slowly we started working on the front porch, supporting the roof, to replace pillars.  In that time frame, my husband fell, and hasn’t been walking.  So, my world became very small, as I cared for him, and the studio.  Very slowly he is starting to feel better.  When I came back to the property, the city had put a citation on my front door, with a very large fine;  mow the thigh high grass, put back the pillars and fix the front decking and siding.  

My first thought, was, great, more problems, but I know the power of showing up even to small problems.  (I kind of want to run and hide, and let someone else deal with the problems;  I know this about myself:  don’t we all want to do this?). I loaded up all lawn tools in the scooby doo, and heading down there.  Mowing thigh high grass is quite difficult, and even though my front lawn is small, the mower died and died, as I restarted, and restarted.  Sweating, cursing, and feeling discontented, at one point, a car with 3 people slowing stopped in front of the house, everyone staring at me.  They were neighbors, who parked the car, and came over with their lawn mower and trimmer, 2 of them.  It’s that kind of kindness, that takes me by surprise, that makes me cry now.  I don’t cry at the problems coming my way, but at the help by others that gives me strength.  I know this came because at some point I have helped others with something. 

You might think the yoga is not working, when all you do is good for others, and in return get more problems than you can solve.  It is because you are Knowing what you are doing, as you are doing it.  You are helping others because it feels really good, and also you know it will ease problems in your future.  

The next time you are doing something good for others, stop and think about what you are doing.  That is such a powerful method, because most of the time we just do good for others because we think it’s the right thing to do, not thinking about planting good seeds for our future.  

This is the difference between planting a good seed such as a honey suckle, that will last a short time, verses an oak tree, which could last hundreds of years.  When you plant the oak tree, you think about what you are doing, as you are doing it.  Actually, you think very hard, like a dog concentrates as you wave a favorite treat before him. 

Think about how your small act of kindness is helping others, and they go on to help others, and it becomes this amazing thing, a thing like that changes the world for all of us.  But it starts with you, and your yoga.  It’s pretty amazing how working on your body, mind and spirit can change the world.  It can.  But first it starts with you.

See you on the mat,

Paula

Yoga POWER!

Imagine, your yoga practice is like taking a little tiny pill everyday, that helps keep your body healthy, flexible and strong. After taking this little “yoga pill” for months and months, you started to notice nagging things go away.

You realized your sleep patterns became deep and undisturbed, where as before the yoga, you routinely had trouble getting asleep and staying asleep on occasion.

Before yoga, you had developed plantar fasciitis, that you had decided nothing would help get rid of it, but with regular yoga, it too walked out the door, not to disturb you again.

You looked back at this past winter season, and you suddenly realize you didn’t get the flu, or even that nasty sinus infection that comes every 6 months, with doing the yoga. You also had forgotten to get your flu shot.

Upon further reflection, you feel inside that you’re less likely to “react”, or yell at the kids. You wonder to yourself, “did the yoga do that? did it make me kinder?”

But you started a new job 6 months ago, and told yourself, I’ll just take a little break from yoga, until I get established in my new position. After a month or so, other things, commitments, obligations, etc, began to crowd your schedule, and there just didn’t seem to be the time, so you let the yoga drop completely.

Now, without yoga, all those nagging things come roaring back, along with some unpleasant back pain. You wonder how to get back on track, how to find the time for yoga again.

We are our worst enemy, when it comes to staying the course. We each get to make choices regarding what we do, and when we do it. We can fit yoga in, especially when we discover it has been doing so much to keep us level headed, sleeping well, and pain free. I’m the first one to admit, yoga is not a quick fix. You have to come consistently for a period to see and feel these results and more. Yoga does not work just when you have time to do yoga; you have to find the time for yoga, that is, if being healthy is a priority.

Our health should be a top priority. I would stake all that I know on the healing power of yoga. Yoga. Do it. take the pill. Feel the difference. Repeat, again and again.

Paula

Teacher and Friend

When I strolled into my first yoga class in 2004, I couldn’t see how my future would be. I would have laughed your head off, if you told me where I would be today.

All I knew was this: I was enjoying the way my body was feeling after pilates practice, and I was interested in keeping this practice up. My then pilates teacher, Eva mentioned she was in training to become a yoga teacher, and after completing her training, she started a yoga class, and I followed. This is my pilates/yoga teacher, Eva. A source of inspiration, a friend, and a mentor, one of the many blessings this path has brought me.

One thing a teacher can do, is shine a light on your life; where you need to go. I couldn’t really see myself teaching yoga, and shared my fears with Eva. She reassured me, and I listened. As I (not so bravely) entered the teaching world, she continued to mentor and guide me, and when she moved to Florida, I meekly stepped into her shoes at the gym. It takes some time to feel confident about teaching yoga, but the best experience for preparation is Doing yoga.

I think I would still be teaching out of my home, if another friend hadn’t pushed me in the direction of opening a yoga center. Looking back at my life, I really have been guided by others. Maybe others can see your life a little better, than you?

After moving back to Cincinnati area, Eva has retired from teaching, although from time to time, I beg her to teach a class. She is content to practice, and to this day, I continue to learn and be guided by her.

with deepest love and respect,

Paula