All posts by paula

Strength Building Anyone?

Aerial yoga is such a wonderful practice to build strength and flexibility in the body. This picture demonstrates how to take an ordinary pose, such as pincha mayurasana, or scorpion, and use the hammock to build up strength for the final pose, unassisted, without the hammock.

When the hammock is down at the hip crease, (blue shirt) more of your weight is supported by the hammock, say about 50%. When you stretch your legs up long, (pink shirt) the fabric falls out of the hip crease to your knees; this changes the weight ratio to 20% supported in the hammock, and 80% support coming from the core, arms. Final version in the hammock is where you let the fabric wrap around your ankles, and lets you work on the flexibility part of the pose.

Pincha handstand benefits are:

* increased back strength, increased core strength, increased digestion, inversions are wonderful for calming your mind, they also develop focus, and arm strength, particularly in lower arms and wrists if doing the pose resting on lower arms. Most importantly, they allow us to play, and test our limits and beliefs on what we think about ourselves. The hammock supports our journey to awesomeness!

I have told my students, I will always practice aerial, as you use your body weight through space, it’s the ultimate core work out. It alone has has eased my back, knee pain like no other practice.

It’s also a great way to learn traditional head stand. If some of these more difficult poses seem unatainable for you, come and give hammock a try, not just once, but at least 6-8 times, or until you are reasonably comfortable with a beginner class.

Come and see us aerial teachers, upside down!!

Paula

Yoga’s Secrets

The other day I was struggling. I was in the midst of family disputes, money concerns, and spouse concerns. I was feeling anxious, overwhelmed and not quite sure how or what to do. I decided to “table” everything in the back of my mind, for I was going to the studio to teach an aerial class. Stretching, strengthening, and most importantly breathing my way through teaching the aerial class, I felt a huge shift happen. At one point during class I was feeling so GOOD, coming right out of an inversion, I shouted “God Bless America that feels so GOOD!”

Turns out, this is a huge secret on how yoga works to keep us healthy: A positive Mood. I left that class feeling there was NOTHING I couldn’t handle, and when I got home at least some of the above concerns were settled. Having a positive mindset can be a total game changer when life throws us curve balls of stress.

Previous research has led to findings that support links between a positive mental outlook and physical health benefits such as lower blood pressure, less heart disease, and healthier blood sugar levels. A study from Harvard suggest there is a very strong link between our physical health and wellness and our Mood and mindset.

Yoga philosophy promises that “yoga brings on a feeling of Wellness”. Previous to yoga, I ran, cycled, and exercised, but what is unique about yoga? To some extent, you are moving your body, breathing in those other things. We hold mental, physical, and emotional tension in the body, and by yoga’s moves of strengthening and stretching along with breath, we are able to let go of the tension that is literally strangling our good health. In Savanna we realize that above concerns/stress can’t weigh us down. When we invert, we are able to change our perspective and realize how harmful the stress really is.

It’s not just me, ask any yogi why they practice. Another client from the class mentioned she almost didn’t come to practice she had such a bad headache, and after class her headache was gone. This is not unusual for me to hear. It’s one of the very best Secrets of yoga.

See you on the mat,

Paula

No Mud No lotus

Here is my muddy story.  Part of the yoga journey is that it brings its own unique way of awareness.  You become aware of the “muddy” parts of you, as well as the “lighter” parts of you, ie:  the good that you have done, but also the bad.  

I drank in high school, quite a lot.  I also didn’t know where to put the empty bottles after I drank the beer, so I threw them out the window, on the way home.  Definitely knew better, but getting caught with a bunch of empty bottles of beer was enough incentive to look the other way when I trashed them.   Long story short, after a sickening evening, I gave up my alcohol, not looking back a minute.

That brings me to today, 40 years later.  This is how yoga works.  Every action you do creates either “mud” or “light”.  I know back in high school, trashing those bottles was a hassle to the home owners who had to pick them up.  I had created some mud in my body, mind and life.  

I love to swim every day, it doesn’t matter in what condition, I usually swim in the Little Miami River, close to my house.  In my favorite swimming hole, for the past couple of years a big Rumpke trash can has found its way along the bank, and settled in amongst a dead tree. There on the bank it filled up with sand, lodged its self into the tree and stayed put, even when spring rains came, and the river rose.  The other day I decided I was going to dig this out, and clean up this very pretty spot on the river, in lue of the bad karma I had planted years ago with the bottles.   Got my husband, the dog, a shovel, and my suit on, and started the task.

Lord, I wish I knew how much those big trash cans can hold, because this one had concrete like silt sand and mud wedged into every crevice of that can.  I began to dig, curse, shove, rock back and forth, and dig some more.  After 4 hours, and a broken lid, it finally freed its self from the tree.  Covered in filth, little knats were all over me, and needless to say, I was a cranky camper.  While I was digging, I thought about stamping out that “bad” deed I did, so many years ago, and vowed never to do this again.  

I “saw” that trash can only because I had planted some bad deeds in my life years ago.   I should expect to see cleaned up areas in my life, because I had taken a drastic step in cleaning up my mind and life.  You see the seeds we plant, either good or bad, never go away, unless we take action against them.  In fact, seeds that you plant years ago, not only don’t go away, but they get bigger, kind of like the action of someone cleaning up maybe 30 bottles of beer, that would equal an hour of time, to 40 years later, to cleaning up a trash can along a bank that equaled 4 hours of time.  Seeds get bigger over time.  

When you step on your mat, you do more than stretch your body, you CLEAN it out.  You clean out the clutter of your mind, and the tightness in your body, so you can reflect on the good you have done, along with the bad.  This is really beautiful, because it puts us completely in charge of our destiny.  We can control our future.  For what you sow, you shall reap.  They say the lotus flower that blooms a beautiful pedal flower comes from the muddiest part of the lake. I understand that now. if we can right our actions from the past, think on how the whole world would change from people cleaning up their past wrongs.

See you on the mat,

Paula

Fear? No, That’s confidence!!

Most people think that when you take a Yoga Teacher Training Course that you have desires to become a yoga teacher.  I did not feel that way.  I knew that I loved yoga, and every class made me feel awesome, so much so, that I wanted to continue feeling awesome for the rest of my life, so that is why I signed up.  I thought I would receive training on how to live, and that these poses could make me a healthy person.   I also felt like my angels (and inner gut) were practically shouting in my ear to do this, that it will be good for you, and to trust the process of learning.  I did get all that I expected, and so MUCH more!  

But I also had some major questions coming into training.  I was/am Catholic, would I be taught a different religion?  Was yoga a religion?  (answer:  No yoga is not a religion, but a way to live at peace with yourself and others, that aligns with your religion values, no matter what religion you happen to be). My biggest fear was still lurking…..I didn’t feel worthy enough to teach this awesome practice.  I couldn’t do ½ of the poses, I was very stiff and inflexible.  And, Oh the horror of standing up and teaching others how to do this??!!!  Very intimidating!!  But I put in the work of learning.  I was horrible at pronouncing Sanskrit, so my teacher made a cassette recording (back in 2006!) on how to say everything.  I went home, studied, worked, and put in the time to learn.  

You know, when you are ready, the teacher appears.  Thus, is how I happened to fall into teaching yoga.  Mid way through teacher training, I got asked to teach a class, and accepted, and things naturally fell into place.  Although I was nervous before, probably during and after teaching, it felt right to do this.  Probably more right than most decisions I had made with my life.  It took many years of teaching not to be so nervous, and to stand up and really know I can teach.  

I tell this story to my trainees to let them know, it’s ok to have many fears, it’s not ok not to do anything about them.  Sure, you might feel difficult overcoming any hurdle, but it’s better than doing nothing about getting over that hurdle.  

And the best part?  All these years later, when I stand up, teach, I still get a thrill!  I feel humbled and honored that people want to come to my class, but I get it’s not about me!  It’s about the student’s experience of yoga on their mat, and I’m just a “guide”.   If I have done my job of learning how yoga works, I can be a better teacher, and I’m still learning!  I work hard to “lighten” the load everyone carries, and to bring a little calm in their day, and to see them smile on the way out???  Bonus!! My friends!  Pure bliss!

See you on the mat,

Paula

“everything you want is on the other side of fear”

Spread your Wings!

Here’s Morgane and Shreparna spreading their wings!!

How many times have you got a message from the Universe calling you to do something, but old patterns or fears stopped you from doing that?  Some people say it takes us more than 7 times to hear some advice, before we are ready to “act” on that advice, and see how it works out in our lives.  

Have you ever heard the saying, “When the student is ready, the teacher appears?”.  This has been true in my life lately.  In February, I visited a yoga studio in Miami, and just signed up for a vinyasa class.  Well, little did I know how much this class would affect me.  I arrived, and this very big room had over 75 people in it….all ready for yoga, mats were being re-arranged for late comers, and people were getting caught up with their friends, chatting.  It started.  This teacher started playing the harmonium, got us OMMMMing, and then moved on to chanting.  Immediately, tears started rolling down, as emotions I held onto are being released.  After chanting, we did some very fast asana, before melting in some long hip/ low back releases.  The sweat was rolling.  After a very peaceful welcomed savasana, we sat up again, and did some final chants, before Omming for the last time.  

Some of you know how much I love to chant.  Chanting regulates the breath, opens up the chakras, very similar to the asanas or postures we do in yoga..  Some people do chanting as their yoga practice;  Called Bhatki yoga,  it is very powerful indeed!  This got me to dreaming, and recalling about wanting to do this when I first became a yoga teacher, ie:  chant + yoga.   I purchased a harmonium, and then started to look online wanting to take lessons.  Basically, my lessons fizzled out, as online and what was being offered was not working to teach me.  So the harmonium went into the closet and sat for 10 years or so.  Coming home from Miami, I just knew the time was right, and dug it out of the closet.

I started calling around, and found someone, who could meet individually with me.  Well, don’t want to toot my horn, but after 2 lessons, I am singing a song, and playing the harmonium with it, and chanting to Kali.  This teacher is floored, saying most people have a much harder time getting this instrument.  Well, I guess in my mind, I have been working up a long time to this moment.  I can’t wait for the day to sit down, and bring this amazing experience to Anahata;  it’s time, and feels OOOHHH SOOOOO RIGHT!!!  

Are you the same?  Have you been thinking about doing a yoga teacher training, or teaching aerial, but fears, timing, or just life has stopped you?  Well, I was reminded today, how very precious each day is, as I learned of a friend’s passing.  We only have this life, and if we are getting a message to do something, it’s probably because NOW is the time.  Pocket your fears, and sign up.  Maybe I’m the teacher you have been looking for.  

See you on the mat,

Paula

Yoga Philosophy on Roe VS. Wade

This decision has brought a lot of division and with each side taking stands against each other it has made me ponder where does the philosophy of yoga stand on this?  Every yogi knows that one of the ethical restraints of yoga is non harming, and that is what we work on, but wait there is more.  Each and every one of us has been birthed for a specific reason to work out some specific karma we have accumulated.  What one person does to eradicate their karma may be at odds for us to understand, but is crucial for their spiritual journey. 

For instance.  I sometimes eat meat, mostly fish.  This goes against the ethical restraint of ahmimsa, or non-harming.  I have gone vegetarian and have felt quite bad, not just once, but many times.  My physical body needs protein.  This is part of my karma.  I cannot keep up my practices or energy level up without protein, and believe me I have tried, in all sorts of different ways.  Recently, I took a yoga retreat with a gal from Miami, and she told us many stories, but one of them was her disclosing to her guru/teacher, that she eats meat.  Her guru said, well this is part of your karma on this birth cycle. 

After some more thought about the philosophy, and what yoga stands to teach us is really this.  Stay in the middle.  If you want to keep your body healthy stay in the middle.  That means no crazy fasting, then eating a bunch, or doing yoga for 10 hours a day for a year, then nothing for the next year because you are injured.  The sweet spot is in the middle.  But what if I applied that to my world, my thoughts about others, and about myself?

We cannot judge others, because we are not living in their body, and living out their karma.  What one person decides to do might be against what we would do, but yet, we are not in their body, and living out their karma are we?  What if we applied, “staying in the middle” and gave each person the grace to do what they wanted, and not to judge them, but to love them.  In high school both of my best friends got pregnant.  One decided to keep it, the other abort it.  Although not in touch now, I stayed friends with both at that time, because I understand both of their decisions, and understand life is sometimes gray, not black and white.  Both of them felt strongly about their decision, and I hope still feel comfortable about that decision today.

After the yoga has worked on your mind, what is left at the end of the day is love.  Patience to extend to others, patience for yourself.  Often it takes many births to kill the karma each of us has accumulated.  Once we know this for ourselves, we can simply love.  Go past the judgement and ranting.  Just be love. 

See you on the mat,

Paula

Yoga Philosophy Roe Vs. Wade

This decision has brought a lot of division and with each side taking stands against each other it has made me ponder where does the philosophy of yoga stand on this?  Every yogi knows that one of the ethical restraints of yoga is non harming, and that is what we work on, but wait there is more.  Each and every one of us has been birthed for a specific reason to work out some specific karma we have accumulated.  What one person does to eradicate their karma may be at odds for us to understand, but is crucial for their spiritual journey.  

For instance.  I sometimes eat meat, mostly fish.  This goes against the ethical restraint of ahmimsa, or non-harming.  I have gone vegetarian and have felt quite bad, not just once, but many times.  My physical body needs protein.  This is part of my karma.  I cannot keep up my practices or energy level up without protein, and believe me I have tried, in all sorts of different ways.  Recently, I took a yoga retreat with a gal from Miami, and she told us many stories, but one of them was her disclosing to her guru/teacher, that she eats meat.  Her guru said, well this is part of your karma on this birth cycle.  

After some more thought about the philosophy, and what yoga stands to teach us is really this.  Stay in the middle.  If you want to keep your body healthy stay in the middle.  That means no crazy fasting, then eating a bunch, or doing yoga for 10 hours a day for a year, then nothing for the next year because you are injured.  The sweet spot is in the middle.  But what if I applied that to my world, my thoughts about others, and about myself?

We cannot judge others, because we are not living in their body, and living out their karma.  What one person decides to do might be against what we would do, but yet, we are not in their body, and living out their karma are we?  What if we applied, “staying in the middle” and gave each person the grace to do what they wanted, and not to judge them, but to love them.  In high school both of my best friends got pregnant.  One decided to keep it, the other abort it.  Although not in touch now, I stayed friends with both at that time, because I understand both of their decisions, and understand life is sometimes gray, not black and white.  Both of them felt strongly about their decision, and I hope still feel comfortable about that decision today.

After the yoga has worked on your mind, what is left at the end of the day is love.  Patience to extend to others, patience for yourself.  Often it takes many births to kill the karma each of us has accumulated.  Once we know this for ourselves, we can simply love.  Go past the judgement and ranting.  Just be love.  

See you on the mat,

Paula

The Goal

Doing the yoga is a pretty straightforward simple act.  When you make the choice to come, you come and take the class, working on the physical act of moving your body, and coordinating your breath at the same time.  The whole time you are moving, breathing, the channels inside are you are opening up, circulation is increasing, dead cells are carried away, and new cells are being rebuilt, before you enter your car for the ride home.  These channels connect to every tissue, organ, and gland in your body.  Slowly overtime, the yoga starts to build and work in your body, with every practice, every day.  The effects are so subtle, one hardly notices them, until you stop for a time, maybe even months, and realize the yoga was working at a very deep cellular level, keeping illness at bay, keeping you in a good mood, more days than not. 

It is hard to stay focused to the goal of yoga.  You may climb up the ladder very quickly, achieving many difficult poses, only to slide back down again, losing your progress.  At this point, you might question if the yoga is working, especially when you hit a slow progress, even slipping backwards.  This is when you need to keep on practicing.  It’s very important at this time.  If you ask yogi’s, some will mention, they have practiced on and off again, for many years, but never steadily for a time.  They have never hit a difficult period in their practice. 

Like life, practicing yoga can be a struggle to fit in.  Those difficult times or when we face uphill battles are crucial periods in our practice where the yoga can really make huge strides.  Achieving postures here are not the goal but just showing up for you;  your physical body, mental body, and spiritual  body. 

This is not something I can tell you, you have to experience it for yourself.  You have to feel inside the storm, and when the sunshine comes out in your body, through the practice;  You have to feel this.  Yoga will make you flexible, but that is not the goal.  Yoga will increase your strength, and stress resilience, but that is not the goal.  Yoga will do many things, to keep you healthy, but the goal of yoga is to open your mind.  When you are working on those tight hips, or inflexible hamstrings, yoga  is opening energy channels in your mind that allow you to accept new ideas, new ways of thinking and doing things. 

This is a lofty goal.  Great thinkers and achievers sat back and allowed “What if?” and started to dream the impossible.  Imagine if the whole world practiced yoga.  I dare say new inventions, different ways of helping humanity would unfold for the greater good of society. 

So next time you are on your mat, breathing, moving, think about those energy channels.  Carrying away the bad and replacing it with good.  Yes, the yoga works, even in our worst practice on our ugliest day, when we simply show up and do the practice. 

See you on the mat,

Paula

Keep on keeping on…….Don’t stop until you know you are at the top!

Look Within to find the answers

Does anything ever annoy you? Wow, this could was a loaded question to me years ago, because EVERYTHING annoyed me….let me tell you……

Things that annoyed me:

  • People who ate with their mouth open, or crunched loudly
  • or dragged their fork through their teeth with bite fulls of food
  • People who drove slowly
  • People who didn’t step up to the line, waiting
  • smelly smells , heavy perfume
  • basically at some point, everything annoyed me

What I’m saying is this. I spent a lot of time before a regular yoga practiced thinking about how annoying different people are….slowly, as I practiced yoga,, these thoughts, along with others began to slowly disappear. It didn’t happen over night, but with a regular yoga practice, my thoughts tend to be much more positive and hardly ever annoying. This is due to the simple fact on how yoga works in your body. With your breath and movement these “annoying things” were removed, that previously had been stored somewhere in my body.

Your nervous system works like that. You take in information that might be beneficial, and store it in nervous system. The very physical practice of yoga is to heal the nervous system, meaning we are in a hyper state, or a sleepy state. Left untreated and unbalanced the nervous system can bring about a host of problems that you will have to treat, ie: high blood pressure, heart disease, cancer, kidney/organ problems . That is why it is upmost importance to practice yoga. The cooling sensation of a forward fold stimulates the rest and digest state or parasympathetic nervous system, and raising your hands overhead, leaning back, or backbends stimulate the sympathetic nervous system. We need both to be in a balanced state.

Being annoyed is just another state of anger or frustration. We think we have to control our surroundings, when really we can control the way we think. People have told me, well that is just the way I am, that’s how I think. Well just imagine a world where everyone had a more positive outlook on life…….

Because when you are positive, your body is most likely healthy.

See you on the mat,

Paula

That extra Little Hmmmmm….

A regular consistent yoga practice will help you dodge bullets of life, and let me share a story that proves this point. This past weekend I went on a yoga retreat to Mexico, and met many wonderful yogi’s; some who have practiced over 17 years, others just starting, and most in the middle.

Often we don’t think how we are feeling, unless we are feeling ill. Yoga helps move the energy, and keep you feeling great most day’s. A guy mentioned on retreat, they went out to a bar, and had some tequila shots; sounds like maybe one too many. The next day of retreat was the last day, and practice was early at 7 am. This guy woke up feeling pretty hung over, and decided to give the practice a try, and sleep on the plane ride home. He was really surprised that in the middle of practice he realized, headache gone, nausea gone, and feeling really good!

As we go about life, how many days are we really thriving and feeling great? Our yoga practice can be started early in life, or for those more reluctant later in life, when forced to do “yoga type exercises” at physical therapy. Yes! many things done in physical therapy have some of the same goals of yoga, and are similar movements.

Yoga helps. It helps you stay positive and outgoing. It helps you balance the body. Yoga helps you if you are addictive to substances. Now after many years of consistent practice, if I drink one beer, my body feels like crap the next day. Since I don’t like to feel like crap, I find no need to touch it, nor either the over the counter drugs a lot take to get through the day, ie: pain killers, aspirins, or even allergies. I just don’t have any of that at the house, because we just don’t need it.

At the end of the day, Yoga practice gives us that little extra humm of satisfaction, and relaxation that no alcohol or drugs can do, without the bad side effects. Yoga does work, and often slowly, like water hitting a stone. But everyone knows that eventually, the stone will take the shape that the water dictates.

I dare you to prove me wrong!

See you on the mat yogi’s,

Paula