Tuesday, May 27, 2014

All Eight Limbs

There is no question that yoga has moved far from its original state.  Beyond becoming synonymous with Yoga Pose, even the poses and structure of classes are a far far stretch from what the word in that context once meant. Stuck in my AshtangaYoga bubble I've remained close to the source, but then Instagram came... The introduction of Instagram into my life was eye opening to say the least, but in retrospect of course makes sense.  What I learned is not only that mastering yoga has come to mean performing some fancy yoga pose (usually handstand) on the beach, but that there are a world of people doing poses they are ill equipped for, out of context, in dangerous places, in the name of YOGA. I'm not impressed.  And I'm scared. Scared for the future of our darling sacred practice.

Yoga means many things to many people and that is okay. Life is a magical mystery of "blurred lines". I think it's time I draw mine though, in the Memorial Day sand.  To me a yoga is not a yoga that doesn't encompass all eight limbs. The eight limbs that define Ashtanga Yoga are: Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana, Samadhi.  My movement, All Eight Limbs is not strict to being impossible about following in detail each limb, but the words All Eight Limbs are a call to include all aspects of yoga into our lives both on and off the mat.

In the coming months I'll be sharing more about what that means and how you can lead a happier, more fulfilling day to day life by incorporating even one new yoga concept.

Stay tuned. Contribute to the conversation. Be a part of the Journey.

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Hashtag #alleightlimbs and @ us when you find yourself incorporating All Eight Limbs.

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Big News is Coming!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Get Out the Funk, Six Quick & Easy Activities to Boost Your Mood

Funks happen.  Positivity is a wonderful thing, and it is nice to see it praised, but to deny the funk is unfair, unreal, and untrue.  If you are as passionate as I am funks can happen almost daily.  It's how you deal with them that is important and will determine how long they stay.  My funks are now minutes when they used to be hours or even days or weeks long.  Practicing yoga has been the slow and steady cure, increasing self awareness and demonstrating the way everything passes.  Sometimes even with a yoga practice, we need a little extra boost.  Here are some easy to apply, quick fix cures for a mid day funk.

1. Red (or just COLOR for some of you) For me RED.  Red dress, Red Shoes, Red Bag. When I'm feeling down I'm looking down, but when I see my red shoes, I'm suddenly looking up.  How can you frown at pure fire engine red?

2. Flowers.  Buying myself flowers feels so indulgent and naughty and that's one of the reasons I love doing it.  It's a real treat.  Plus they keep the funk away all week long, brighten up the house and keep it smelling fresh.  The more senses you can satisfy the better chance you'll beat a funk.

3. Brisk Walk. A fast paced mid-day or evening walk is a great way to switch things up and get out the funk.  I'm lucky to live and work steps away from Central Park.  If you have a favorite park near you, use it for the extra funk fighting powers of fresh air and nature.  Otherwise anywhere will do.  Just move!

4. Kids!  Children are triple mood boosters.  They are so present, so animated, and so in need of our precious attention.  It's nearly impossible to stay funked when they are around.  Grab a niece or nephew or a child of a friend.  Your friend will appreciate the time off and you'll get to enjoy some good play time and seeing the world through a child's eyes.

5. Service. Any time we put our thoughts and actions outward toward others it is powerful and funk fighting.  Volunteering is not only good for the recipient but fantastic for our own positivity.  I've been volunteering once a month at the Food Bank (always on a Monday morning) and I have never had a Monday blues since then.

6. Chocolate. Possibly the ultimate in mood alteration is piece of delectable chocolate.  I don't care what kind you get.  I like the real bad (and bad for you) convenience store stuff.  Then I get the added mood boosting benefit of feeling just a bit naughty, like I broke the rules and got away with it.  I eat a piece of chocolate nearly every day and its super seductive mood boosting affects have never gone away.

Follow @landyoganyc on Instagram for more from the Mood Booster series.  Do you have a get out of a funk trick that's not listed here?  Take a picture. Instagram @landyoganyc and hashtag #moodbooster so we can feature you! 

Friday, May 2, 2014

Staying Motivated All Year Round

If only every month were May. May the moment of Springing Sprouting Bursting life. May, my emerald birthday month.  May should be all year round.

May is Land Yoga's annual perfect attendance challenge and boy do the yoga practitioners come out. They come out for one, ok, two reasons: a STAR on our chart and the word... CHALLENGE.  That's it. I'm always delinquent to announce any real prizes and even when I do, they are admit-tingly lame. A star on a chart.  A t-shirt. A bag. A chance to win a FREE month at Land Yoga.  (Okay, that's a good one!)

May challenge speaks to our child-self. The little one in us that still wants to succeed, find approval, meet a goal.  We all have that part of ourselves and star stickers certainly do bring it out.  But what to do during the other 11 months of the year to stay energized, motivated, and improving?  In the Ashtanga Yoga practice there is a strong relationship between the teacher and the student which creates a healthy pressure for the student to show up.  Many teachers even require their students to practice a minimum amount of days per week in order to study with them.  Still, some fall off the bandwagon.  Some have no regular teacher and are doing self practice at home.  And those of you not studying Ashtanga Yoga may not have this positive pressure at all and truly need to self motivate.  How do we make every month May?

Here are four ways to stay motivated in your yoga practice all year round:

1. Trick Yourself

Imagine your teacher or someone who motivates you is in the room.  I have a very strong imagination which I use for many aspects of the yoga practice.  When I need a push I envision my teacher in front of me, even hearing his voice.

2. Create your own Challenge

You don't have wait for us!  Set up a challenge for yourself each month. When I was learning Ashtanga Yoga's Primary Series, I created tons of secret challenges for myself.  No one knew what I was working on, but I was deep in my own 30 day challenge all the time.

3. Reward Yourself

New bag. Red shoes. Day off.  Know yourself and choose rewards that really work for you. I like fancy restaurants, but I don't pick that all the time. Vary the rewards and keep them proportional to the goals you set.  Give yourself something huge when you complete a challenge that was particularly, well, challenging.

4. Take it in

We all know that the real reward of a challenge completed is the positive change we've succeeded in making in ourselves.  It's extremely important to acknowledge and sit in that good feeling. When you begin to realize how much better you feel after making healthy choices, you won't need challenges or rewards anymore.  You will be motivated naturally and self improvement will come easily.