Category Archives: Uncategorized

Keeping you on your mat this summer

One key component of how yoga works to heal you, is showing up to practice and dedicating your practice to someone else.  Think of someone who really needs the balance, peace, healing energy that yoga brings to you.  On those days where your energy is low, you show up for them. 

It’s really a beneficial relationship.  When you show up for someone else, and practice yoga, you feel better.  They feel better because in a sense, you are praying for them, as you practice.  

The hardest thing about yoga is coming;  showing up.  Once you get here, feel the energy of the studio, teacher, and community, you just can’t but help feeling better in body, mind, and spirit.  

Of the yoga philosophy this is very clear.  Yoga works when you come consistently, and practice, without taking time off during the year.  I can practice yoga outside at a picnic table, in an airport, in bed at night, and just about anywhere….Probably the most unusual place I’ve practiced is right in the middle of Disney World.  One place I love to practice yoga in the summer is outside at a picnic table. Intrigued? Join me for a hike and picnic table yoga this summer at Ceaser Creek, Saturday, July 27th at 10 am, weather permitting.

Setting goals of time is also a good way to keep your practice strong during times where you are super busy.  Setting a goal of 5 to 15 minutes, something easy you can keep regularly is what is beneficial.  If all you can do is 5 minutes that day, you did it and can walk away feeling balanced.  Often when you start practicing yoga, it feels so much better, you stay longer than your 5 minutes.  

Take time now, check in.  

  • How do you feel?  
  • How does your body feel?
  • How is your breathing?
  • How is your mind?
  • Can you relax and let it go?
  • Can you focus on your breathing for 5 minutes?

Doing this day in and day out, your body feels secure because you are taking the time to stop and listen, breath deep, and let things go.  In fact, when you miss a day, you feel so badly that you learn to carve the time.  It’s so important!  Your day flows better, and your less reactive.  

It’s important to know how to do this:  I really didn’t start a regular practice everyday till after my yoga teacher training.  After practicing yoga everyday, I just felt so much better, there was really no choice but to practice, and keep it up. Join me this summer, and feel your best!!

See you on the mat,

Paula

Effects of chanting

I have found that chanting certain sayings to be akin to taking a powerful medicine.  One such powerful mantra I have been chanting lately is 

“Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya”

I will be playing this mantra on Saturday.  “Om Namo” means I offer my deepest heartfelt blessings and reverence.  Bhagavate Vasudeva is a name for God, known by Bhagavan or Vasudeva he has the qualities of health, intelligence, wealth, good looks; aka he’s got it all.

But instead of being attached to these qualities and tries to possess them, he has let them go. In letting them go, they come back to him 20th fold.   

On a deeper level chanting this mantra can destroy our suffering.  Why do we suffer?  Because we are attached to the above qualities, and when they go, we suffer.  Let’s say you have a big pile of money in stocks and bonds.  Everyday you look at it, carefully, buy and sell stocks to make your wealth greater.  You take great pride in building your wealth; until one day the market falls, and loose everything.  

Yet for some people we fear losing our good looks. We spend tons of money buying different creams or lotions, having surgery, to keep our good looks, until one day, we cannot change the fact we are old, and our body shows its age.  

In Napoleon Dynamite, the movie, the uncle was a famous quarterback in high school.  He had it all, good looks, admiring girls, and the talent in his body to win games.  Now he is older, and he is stuck living in his past, reliving his glory days.  

Perhaps we are holding on to our yoga practice.  Why did it work yesterday, and now today I feel crummy?  I see people dive into yoga deeply, and it works, until maybe one day it stops working.  Then people leave the practice.  Too bad, salvation was right around the corner.  

I know what you are going to ask me now……If money will bring me suffering, shouldn’t I just

Go meditate somewhere give all of my money away, until I am realized?  No that is not the answer.  Most of us need to work, that is our dharma, our path.  We still need to be the best we can be…..that includes making money, or playing football.  The problem becomes when we are possessive about those qualities, and desperately try to hold them to us.  

If we can allow the things/events/people to come in our life, AND let them go, releasing our hold; Those things/people become our liberator and free us from the chains of suffering. 

Physically when I chant this, I feel energy and healing in my gallbladder.  A great number of people say this mantra keeps the good ju-ju with you; and dissolves the bad stuff.  Either way, come and experience the awesomeness this sound vibration produces in your body and spirit.  There is a reason these mantras have been chanted for millennia; they work!

What is Love?

A Mother and Father bring life into this world, and it’s a magical, amazing gift. From the very first breath we breathe, a mother and father protect us from harm, feed us, and generally speaking do the best job they can do; all imprinted from their childhood.

Depending on a great many factors, birth order, genes, etc; some siblings experience their childhood with a great deal of anger, wishing their mother or father could have done things differently. I think most of us experience this to some degree. Even after their parent’s death, we carry this baggage around with us. Despite our best efforts most of us repeat this imprinting on our children. This cycle of anger repeats, and repeats. Unless we are aware, and have conservations as an adult, only then can most of us forgive and forget. We imprinted or take on, how the mother and father’s relationship is, their income, thoughts and beliefs, and many, many other things. Some of these things are very good, they actually keep us alive. Some of the thoughts and beliefs are not the best, or the highest truth, but they still get passed down unknowingly.

After doing yoga for a time, you might recall a past unjust situation. Something that really bothers you, that you have stored inside your body, because at that time, you did not have the tools to deal with the situation. The yoga is starting to heal deep within. That is how yoga works with your posture, and will help you release that thought pattern so it no longer bothers you.

As you practice, day in and day out, sometimes postures that we were once very good at, escape our ability on this day. That is a clue, that there is something there, that can be released. Our ability and capacity not only to love ourselves, (and forgive ourselves when we make mistakes) but to love and forgive others is a trait that yoga brings out.

Our posture gets better and better with the practice, and so does our good thoughts and feelings towards one another and ourselves. This is something that can truly change our family, community, our country. our world.

Imagine, all when you decide to practice yoga. It’s a magical thing!

See you on the mat,

Paula

Loving Kindness

Kindness is a process

Today as I left the grocery store, I pondered the life of the guy who was bagging my groceries.  Always quick with a smile, greeting, and a “How are you doing?”  He seemed to be cheerful on any day.  I thought to myself, how much I have changed since starting to practice yoga, not changed physically, although that has happened, but how much I have changed in my thoughts.  Before yoga most of my thoughts were about me:  

Was I having a good hair day

            My body image

            How I was going to get ahead, business, and in life

            If I had any aches or pains

            Money worries, how I was going to eat, take care of myself

            How others viewed me

It is well known that the practice of yoga will make you a kinder person from when you started yoga.  There are a few “enlightened souls” that are already here, working tirelessly to make the world a better place.  I think most of us lean towards myself, that is we think about ourselves more than others.  It’s not that we are selfish, it’s just a protective mechanism that helps us survive, and there is nothing wrong with that.  

As I learned the philosophy of yoga, and saw how much I could affect my future, by doing kind deeds, I began planting all the seeds I could.  And that is how I arrived at today, worrying about the guy bagging my groceries, pulling loads of carts into the store, always with that smile and greeting.  I finished putting my groceries in the car, and took that cart all the way back into the store, just so he wouldn’t have to round it up like the other carts.  This really small gesture unknown by anyone else really, (unless you are reading it now!) was a tribute to how much yoga changes you and your thoughts to make this world a better place.  I’m pretty sure that the Paula before yoga would have left the cart by the car, or in one of the stalls in the lot.  

I never practiced yoga in the beginning, for some other person.  I practiced for myself.  To take care of my body, my mind, and nourish my spirit.  How ironic that your journey begins thinking about yourself, and changes you to care for others.  What would this world be like if everyone practiced yoga; and started to care more for others than themselves?

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