1301 Lafayette Street, Fort Wayne, IN 46802

10329 Illinois Rd, Fort Wayne, IN 46814

Phone: 260-627-YOGA (9642)

dani@pranayogaschool.com

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Inspiring Yogin Series-Practice and Non Attatchment by Dani Vani McGuire

Inspiring Yogin-December 2013-Mark Odle
Every couple of months we enjoy selecting an inspiring yogi from the community and hearing their "yoga story." Yoga is getting to be quite a celebrity in America. We have yoga teachers teaching to thousands in rock concert venues, companies using it to sell products, and hospitals listing it for wellness and pain management, for the first time!

It is an exciting time to be a yoga student-hence all the exclamation points!!! We have all experienced the fruit that yoga bares, still the ancient texts like the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali and The Bhagavad Gita tell us to not be attached to the outcome.

How can we not be attached to something so AMAZING and powerful! For me, it helped calm the mental chatter long enough to heal an eating disorder; for others it breaks the pattern of addictions, and for many it is the pain management tool for emotional and physical well-being. The fruits of yoga are as diverse as its practitioners.

As exciting as this all is, we are told to let go of results, and show up!

Check out the Q and A featuring Inspiring Yogi, Mark, when we pulled him aside to ask how yoga is showing up for him.  Side note...Mark has visited the school 225 times since May 8th!

PY:  What continues to keep you motivated and dedicated to your daily practice?
Mark: When I started yoga, the rewards started. when the rewards stop, then I'll stop.

PY: What is your favorite class or teacher?
Mark: Every class is a dedication and a chance to give back, so every class is my favorite. Every teacher is a "teacher" so they are all my favorite. They all make my dedications perfect in their own way. It is safe to say that I have learned and continue to learn from EVERY one of them.

PY: Do you have a favorite asana? Why?
Mark: Every pose is part of my dedication. I need them all to feel whole, so each pose I am given by my teacher of that session, I present it(move) and dedicate it(breathe), to the best of my being.

PY:In what ways has your practice and determination benefited you?
Mark: In every way that is good and true.

Each time I begin teaching class, I ask if anyone is new.  Mark always raises his hand.  Mark has showed up NEW 225 times in the past 7-1/2 months. He says that when the benefits stop he will stop, however when we practice showing up new, we are warriors of the present moment. Yoga tells us that action without attachment to results is everything good and true.


“You may never know what results come of your actions, but if you do nothing, there will be no results.” 
― Mahatma Gandhi


Tuesday, August 27, 2013


INCENSED By Amanda Beard



 Naively, I never thought of incense as a smoke even though I have lit it and watched it burn a thousand times.  Incense is simply incense, nothing less and nothing more.  My personal definition of incense is as follows: a material that is burned to release a fragrant aroma and bring one back to herself, through the sense of smell.  Olfactory receptors receive precious aromatic messages and send them to the brain; the effects of a stressful or draining day fade.  Incense works aroma therapeutically for me with each full inhale and complete exhaling breath that I take.  My grip on life relaxes where I can be present, returning to my senses.  In order to create the right mood for this story, I lit a stick of incense before sitting down to write.  There is something relaxing about watching the line of smoke rise.  Like the game of Clue, this story contains a culprit, a room, and a weapon, which are as follows; my boyfriend, Reynolds, a hotel room, and a stick of incense. 
Reynolds and I met years ago through our mutual “yoga friends,” that is the friends we practiced yoga with in a back room at the local racquetball club.  The first time I went to Reynolds’s apartment he had a lovely stick of incense burning.  “Yum!  What’s that?”  I had asked him.
“They say it’s the feminine version of nag champa.”  (Nag champa is a classic type of incense, for unawares.)  I thought that sounded romantic.    
Eventually Reynolds and I moved in together.  It was fortunate we both liked incense because many people do not.  Must love incensewas on my list of desirable attributes in a partner.  Reynolds and I quickly formed a cozy routine.  After celebrating our first anniversary of cohabitation, his birthday was approaching.  I decided to surprise him with something out of the ordinary and reserved a room at a brand new art-centered hotel in the midwest city where we live.  The flower shop where I worked had undertaken a time-consuming project to produce modern, stylish, permanent pieces of succulents, moss, and witchy objects for the conference rooms.  I had a sneak peak of the place before it opened, and I could hardly wait to show my beau. 
On the day of the birthday event, I told Reynolds to pack his bag for the night and gave him a list of what to bring.  When I got off work, Reynolds was ready to go and I could hardly wait.  As we drove toward downtown, he figured out the surprise.  We arrived to the hotel smiling.
Our smiles faded slightly as the check-in area was blindingly white and extremely open-concept, exposing us as part of the Saturday night scene.  Introverts by nature, Reynolds and I prefer to blend into the scenery, but that was impossible there on the wide blank canvas.  We checked in at the front desk, and I clumsily unfolded the paper of my temporary Triple A card, in order to receive my $40 discount.  There had been a mix up since I’d changed addresses, and I was still waiting for the real card.  The temporary card sufficed, and I handed over my credit card number to the clerk.  Once we passed through the shimmering castle gates, we went upstairs a few flights of stairs to our funky white room.  It was so very bright, like L.A., that we decided we needed to sit down for a second and adjust to our surroundings.  After drinking a glass of red wine, taking tasty bites of Trader Joe’s truffle cheese, and hearing about the writing projects of my boyfriend’s mystically inclined train conductor coworker, I was ready for a shower.       
I hopped in under the gentle waterfall flow design of a shower and tried to wash away the last four years of my life, which have been a challenge.  All was well in the shower, save the incredibly minimalist detail of no place even to hang my washcloth.  Had they intentionally forgotten to include a hook?!  I wrapped the wash cloth around the faucet knob, but it flopped down onto the tile floor, which grossed me out too much to use it again.  There was no door to the shower (kind of liberating), and a Japanese style sliding door with a semi-opaque glass window to create the division to the bathroom.  I had cranked the heat up in the hotel room to 80 degrees, which produced a steamy tropical effect in the shower.  As I took a deep breath in, I smelled the earthy goodness of nag champa wafting in through the cracks of the sliding door.  Reynolds had brought some incense.  
The nag champa smelled strong with the window closed and no where for it to escape.  We burn nag champa often at home during our asana practice, and the grounded, floral fragrance of sandalwood and frangipani flowers fades in a few hours.  I wondered if I would find Reynolds in a meditative seated posture on the spacious hotel room floor when I emerged from the bathroom.  His yogic seated posture/incense time is an endearing part of sharing life with him.  As I put the finishing touches on my evening look by applying some pale pink lip gloss, the last song on our yoga music playlist went silent.  Life was lining up.  
It was a glorious night in late winter, and I was able to walk to dinner without wearing a coat.  The normally nasty city air felt like a divine gift because it was joyously warm; in fact, it was mildly intoxicating.  People flocked to the outdoors to enjoy this sneak peak of spring.  Citizens were out and about, and happy.  Reynolds and I tend to get in serious moods rather easily, and we talked for part of our walk about our fears for the health of the planet and the current desperation of humanity.  We related the global struggles to our individual suffering, and by then we arrived to the restaurant.  Soon our hearts were lighter because the meal was delicious and the conversation was good.  Reynolds shared that he would like for us to live in an ashram sometime in the not so far future.  The intention would be for spiritual practice and support, but not as an escape from the world, he vowed.  I shared that independently, I had had the same idea.  The birthday getaway, however, was no-part ashram.  Instead, it was pure sensual delight.  
  After dinner, we found our way back to the stimulating hotel lobby and stopped at the front desk to ask if they could send up the other robe that had been promised, since there had only been one in the closet when we arrived.  We wanted to hang out in our robes like Jason Schwartzman in “Hotel Chevalier,” the prologue to the Wes Anderson film “The Darling Limited.”  One can dream!  
As I write, I can see that my stick of incense has burned to the end and that is enough incense for now, but the story continues.  After sipping on water flavored with honey dew melon that was offered in the lobby and analyzing the art on display, we headed to the bar that was full of glass blown colored lights.  The sweet, jazzy waitress kindly brought us a French press pot of coffee.  I simply can’t drink liquor like I used to and would rather sharpen my senses rather than dull them with a mixed drink, at this point in my life.  Then she brought us a small bag of popcorn flavored with truffle oil.  “Truffle is in!” I exclaimed and savored it.  We stared at the colored lights and talked at great length about which ones caught our eyes and why.  I felt that I was getting to know my sweetheart more fully.  We both noticed that an older man who had been sitting alone when we arrived was joined by his wife, and he gently put his hand around her waist.  Love was in the air.  
We learned shortly thereafter that incense was also in the air.  When we returned to our hotel room, there was a blinking red light on the phone, alerting us of a voice message.  I fiddled with the modern phone for a moment, then the speaker phone revealed that the message was from the hotel manager.  In a booming voice, he informed us that we would be charged a $250 fee for smoking a cigar in their non-smoking hotel.  The employee from housekeeping smelled it when she brought up the second robe.  She saw the ash, and he would be working until midnight if I wanted to discuss the problem with him.  I flashed back in my mind to my scholarship fifth year of college and heard my Eastern Religions professor say “ash is the essence of everything.”  
Could that tidbit of wisdom help me in some way? I wondered.  I reminded myself that in the impermanent world, this too shall pass.  Then I focused on the present moment, which was much heightened by the caffeinated coffee I had recently consumed and the looming discussion with the hotel manager.  Using my 1940’s gangster movie voice, I asked my lover why he lit the incense, “Why’d ya do it, honey?  Why’d ya do it?”
He replied, “I like the smell.”  Fair enough.  I had not told him that it was an entirely non-smoking facility, and at that point in my life, I did not consider incense a smoke.  I had given Reynolds a list of what to pack in his overnight bag, and incense had not been on it.  
In the open-concept revelation lobby, I learned that the manager was a big guy.  I am a small woman, but I was feeling mighty.  “Ash is the essence of everything,” I heard in my mind again.  We are all one, I thought, softening my heart.  I told him the whole story and asked to be pardoned, for it was a mistake.  Breathe deep, like in yoga practice, I silently coached myself.  As the manager was talking, my mind was still running on its own.  I thought that even if I was a bigwig, I would not want to pay that price for a stick of incense, from a box that cost $3.45 from a store called “The Good Earth.”  In fact, most bigwigs I know value their money too much to readily pay that kind of a fee.  The manager made it clear that if the room or the pillows or the comforter smelled of smoke when they checked it in the morning, I would be charged the fee.   
 He emphasized, “The entire hotel is non-smoking.”  For the finale of that conversation, I gracefully produced the box of nag champa from my purse as evidence supporting my claim.  However, the action did not get my desired results.  When I saw the look on his face, I knew he was incensed! 
After the inconclusive exchange of words, I went back to the room and opened the window.  Reynolds turned on the fan.  The buzz kill coupled with his state of dehydration from the strong coffee put my lover to sleep while I began to pack my bags.  I had tried to fight, now it was time for flight.  Voice of reason came to me, and I realized how unlikely it would be for a hotel manager, working smack dab in the midwest, to consider that housekeeping’s claim of cigar smoke was merely innocent incense.  Nag champa is commonly used as an incense in spiritual and religious ashrams, but not in mainstream hotels.  With its varied uses worldwide, nag champa is a profitable product for the big incense companies.  Some incense is formulated to burn with a lighter fragrance and with fewer toxins, but the one Reynolds brought was wonderfully thick and gnarly.   
Sadly, Reynolds and I were not deliberately polluting the clean air hotel.  In fact, many yogis would say that incense purifies a space.  I stepped under the magical waterfall shower once again to cleanse my long wavy hair of the incense scent.  When I emerged from the shower, I could smell incense nowhere in the room, except for in the luscious locks of my boyfriend’s curly hair.  “Shanti shanti!”  I exclaimed.  In the ancient language of Sanskrit, “shanti” means peace.
We were gypped out of an hour of our stay in the hotel because the spring forward time change occurred that Sunday.  It did not matter for me since I usually wake early and had plenty of quiet time that morning.  “Happy Birthday!”  I called to Reynolds after the sun rose.  Then he nearly broke the Keurig coffee maker in the room, too sleepy to figure out the fancy contraption.  I went down to the lobby and returned with a fresh cup of joe.  “Who do you love?!”  I said grinning as I handed it to him.  
When I went to check out, the hotel receptionist, who had streaks of turquoise in her blond hair, asked me if I had received the call from the manager.  I told her the whole story, and surprisingly, she admitted she used incense, too.  Then she said, as another woman approached, “This is the manager manager.”  I wondered how much power the big manager from the night before held or if his zero tolerance attitude was a job requirement.  I exhaustedly explained the story for the third time, going into more detail about our yoga and meditation lifestyle that included almost daily doses of incense. Themanager manager and I went to check out the room.  As we went up three floors in the elevator, I said, “I don’t know what to tell you, other than that I’m telling the truth.”  Awkward!  Upon entering the room, she could not smell a thing.  I hesitantly confessed to her that I had helped to deliver the floral arrangements for the conference rooms and had greatly enjoyed staying at the hotel.  To emphasize that I was truly telling the truth about the incense, I told her how “funny” the story would be for my incense loving yoga friends, which in that moment was the seed of these words. 
Since the adventure at the art hotel, I learned from my uncle who has travelled extensively that hotels have a difficult time keeping smoke-free environments truly smoke-free.  You know the old adage, “you learn something new everyday.”  Now I empathize more with the hotel managers.  You just can’t take yogis anywhere!  Not even the life-affirming tantrik kind who long to be simultaneously in the spiritual and material world, seeing them both as One.      
As we attempted to leave, Reynolds put the parking ticket in the machine at the gate repeatedly, but the slot kept refusing it.  He tried a credit card, to no avail.  We were very ready to be released and sat staring at the gate.  He backed up his car and pulled into the next lane.  The same thing occurred.  We buzzed the help desk, and the female operator answered our questions with a grumpy attitude.  We continued to take long slow inhales and exhales.  We found extra measures of patience in our hearts on his birthday.  A jolly faced worker came out to help and told us that the technicians were still working out some bugs in the parking machine.  Like us, he tried and failed for a few attempts with the parking ticket.  He reached for his keys to free us, but he had forgotten them inside the office.  We sat a little longer; inhaled, exhaled.  Finally, he and another man emerged from the building.  They opened the gate, waved to us, and said to have a good day.  We smiled at each other.  Our next trip is to the ashram, and our first stop is home to light a stick of incense.  

About the Author:
Amanda grew up in Fort Wayne, Indiana and loved dancing ballet during her childhood.  She found a book on hatha yoga in high school when she was looking through the shelves at the public library and became fascinated by the artistic physical postures and the notion of a movement based spiritual practice.  While attending the University of Rochester, she took courses in hatha yoga and modern dance through the Dance Program from 1999-2003.  As a Take Five Scholar at the U of R, she studied yoga philosophy with Dr. Douglas Brooks and Dr. Paul Muller-Ortega.  In 2006, she completed her certification in Anusara-inspired yoga with Todd Norian.  She has taught yoga in Fort Wayne, Indiana and Nantucket, Massachusetts.  As her own practice of yoga continues to expand and evolve, Amanda encourages students to travel the deepest path of their heart.       
Find the rest of her blogs here  http://beardwickyogis.blogspot.com/

Saturday, August 17, 2013

A Raccoon Tale




The other night I awoke from sleep early in the morning.  I often wake in the stillness of the night and sometimes the mind wanders and worries.  Many teachers have taught me to use gratitude to harness the mind and steer it gently away from the cliffs of worry.  I stretched and began with gratitude toward the sun and the moon.   I like to begin at the edges of my boundaries and move to the center. Out of the corner of my eye I imagined a cat standing on the ceiling and smiled to myself, assuming I was entering the sweet semi-conscious dream state but the sounds were too synchronized, too real.  I turned to look again for the cat.  Gratitude banished as reality intruded, it was a raccoon tentatively hanging from the trap door of our attic in the hall outside our bedroom.
Propelled to action, I called out to my husband and shook his leg. “Steve!”
“What?” he responded gruffly, still asleep.
“There is a raccoon coming out of the attic.” I said tensely
“Okay” he said, as if it were the most natural occurrence.  He lumbered with sleepy limbs around the bed and we both stared at the raccoon.  He was hanging upside down with his head tilled upright, staring back at us.  His torso was pinched between the drop door and the ceiling.  Half in, half out, I marveled at fluid and sultry movements the upper body made as it spun around the waist, looking for an escape.
            Steve found his voice first and yelled, “Go on, get out of here.” I joined his choir too.  If he would just spin back into the attic, he could find his way back out. 
            The raccoon stopped spinning and looked, as if to say “I would, if I could, but I can’t.”  That was true.  The drop ceiling door was spring loaded and as soon as half the weight of the raccoon was down, the force of the spring began to pull the door shut.  Really, there was only one option and the raccoon took it.  He jumped with ease to the ground and jetted through to Heather’s, our daughter, open door across the hall.  Heather moved out a month ago so her room was unoccupied.  
Steve, thinking much faster than me, crossed the hall and shut the door.  We could hear the raccoon on the walls running the perimeter of the room.  I, having watched copious hours of Bug’s Bunny as a child, imagined him spinning tooth, claw, dust and stars like the Tasmanian devil.   We could hear the curtain rods crashing to the ground, books knocking to the floor and a lamp overturn as the raccoon circled again and again.  Steve looked at me and said “I will put on my cloths and get a blanket to throw over him and carry him outside.” 
I numbly looked at him and nodded my head.  What else was there to do?  I stood in the hall and listen to “the devil” as the sounds slowed down.  He must be realizing there was no other exit.  I could hear him scuffle in the direction of the door.  I watched nervously as I heard the approach and then, like the moment in Jurassic Park when the Velociraptor discovers the door knob, the door knob began to turn and the door to draw away from the hall.  I instinctively reached out and grabbed knob and pulled it tight. 
I yelled, “He is opening the door,” as Steve walked past me and downstairs. 
If he answered me, I did not hear.  My sole focus was on the rattling door.  I began to kick the door and yell, who knows what to scare the raccoon away.  His response was to back up and charge the door, slamming his whole body against the barricade.  He moved through a series of options searching for a way out; grabbing the handle, releasing the handle, shoving his two black fingered paws under the door and ramming his body against the door.    It seemed we were both using the same tactic; scare “the being” away from the door.  The more I up my thumping and yelling the more he upped his.  
This is how my youngest daughter found me, screaming and kicking the door.  She looked at me with the look I must give her, the “don’t you know what time it is and why aren’t you in bed” look.  I had a perfect excuse.  “A raccoon came out of the attic and ran in Heather’s room.”  I explained.
She looked at me as she was turning to go back into her room “I am out of here,” and shut the door.
I was left again battling the raccoon.  I could feel sweat begin to form a thin fine layer over my entire body, even my eyelids. My heart was trying to escape my chest.   A moment of recognition that the body was being ruled by the sympathetic nervous system, and somewhere in the back of my brain I knew that I would take at least 20 minutes to calm down, and maybe I wasn’t thinking too clearly.  At this point, I realized how stressed I was feeling and wondered what the hell I was doing.  I spend my days advocating ahimsa, non-violence, and here I am hurling insults and threats to a being a fraction of my size.  I began to see how quickly ethical precepts can dissolve in the face of confrontation.  Concurrently, I became aware that there must me another approach.
An idea came to mind.  One of my favorite chants is “lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu,” which means “may all beings be happy and free.”   How could this situation give both of us happiness and freedom?  How could the raccoon be happy and free and my family and my home be safe?  Definitely not by kicking and screaming.  I stopped and began to sing the chant to the animal.  I think it must not be the raccoon’s favorite chant because it kept banging the door.  My voice was shaky and I was totally not committed to this plan as I hoped no one would hear me trying to serenade a raccoon.  The pause did work though on shifting my resolve and opened an opportunity to change tactics.
I looked across the hall to the night stand and saw my phone.  I thought “I will call the police.  Either they will come to help, or they summon an ambulance when the blanket over the raccoon plan meets jaws and claws.” Anxiety overtook me as I realized I would have to let go of the door knob to get the phone.    I would like to say I took a leap of faith and let go of the knob, but no, I kicked the door a couple of more times and said a couple of more things I probably shouldn’t repeat  and took a brief second to let go of the door and grab my phone, dialing 911. 
Her name was Amy; the calm assured voice on the Fort Wayne Police on the phone.  I told her the story thus far, except for the chanting to the raccoon part.  In her reasonable person voice, she said that because the raccoon was in a room behind a door, they would send animal care and control in the morning. 
I pleaded, “But its turning the door knob and trying to pull the door open.”   As if on cue, the raccoon rattled the door again and finding it still secure, in frustration rammed the door. 
“Oh!” says Amy.  I could here the empathy in her voice as she realized the plight.  “I will contact Animal Control.  I have to put you on hold.”
Now, Steve comes back up the stairs with a blanket.  I told him what Amy said and told him I didn’t think that I would be a good idea to go through with the blanket plan.  Then through grace came another plan. If we, meaning him of course, put a ladder against house, climbed up, opened the window, the raccoon would have a place to peacefully exit because it desperately wanted out.
“So,” he said.  “You want it more at my face.”   
“I hadn’t thought of that.” I replied, thinking.  “I can keep him distracted at the door, while you open the window and crawl down real fast. “  We went on with the conversation like this for several minutes.  Then Steve agreed to try it.  Dropping the blanket beside me, he went to fetch the ladder. 
Amy came back on the line and I told her what we were going to do.  With a voice full of concern she told me to call her back to let her know if we still needed Animal Care and Control.  I waited by the door anxious now for “the plan.”    I could hear something happening against the house and so could the raccoon.  His scraping against the door stopped.  I now pleaded with him to come back, fearful that he would be faster than Steve.  Then silence the kind of silence where the ears and mind extend to interpret any sound. Within a short time my ears were rewarded with the sound of foot steps on the stairs as Steve came back up to stand with me beside the silent door.  He said the raccoon came to the window as soon as he tapped.  I thought how brave of him to tap.  I would have scurried up the ladder, opened the window a couple of inches and scurried back down. 
Cautiously, we opened the door and looked around furniture and in the closet.  The raccoon had definitely taken the opportunity to leave.  In his wake was turmoil.  The turmoil one leaves when fighting to be free from entrapment.  Evidence of his fear and anger spilled around the room. The curtains were pulled from the rods, sheets from the bed and we could clearly mark out his path as feces and urine ringed the room over book case and cabinets.  This was a scared and trapped being and had done what a trapped animal needs to do to find safety.  Finally, the gratitude list began again in my head.  So grateful within a pause another idea took hold, one that gave us what we both wanted.  So grateful he fled to an empty bedroom.  So grateful he did not run downstairs with the dogs.
The Native Americans honor the wisdom of each animal.  As this is my third encounter with raccoons in my home over the past twenty years, okay twenty-five years, I though it might be wise to understand the significance of this encounter.  The raccoon is a mask wearing curious night traveler, symbolizing the ability to adapt to its environment in secrecy.  As I brought the cleaning supplies up to straighten and disinfect the room, my memory shifted back to the last time I cleaned this room.   Heather left right before her 18thbirthday after we found four empty bottles of alcohol in her room.  The uncovering of the alcohol was the uncovering of her separate life.  The one she kept secrete.  As I cleaned again, an image of me pounding on the door and yelling reemerged.  Had she too felt like a trapped animal wanting a different life and freedom?  For the first time since she left, I was grateful that she was not here in this room, that she is exploring her masks and finding her own path. This short episode with the raccoon opened the door to look at her departure in another way; one where all of us have the opportunity to explore with curiosity our own path, make mistakes and grow in grace.
I am grateful for so many blessings.  Yoga and meditation are unfolding the tools to diffuse the anger and fear.   Recently Marsha Pappas was at Pranayoga for a stress reduction workshop.  Both my daughters and I attended together.  One of the many things she said was “The obstacles are not in the way, the obstacles are the way.”  She was quoting from another, but I do not remember the name of that sage.  “The obstacles are the way” really resonates with me.  Once I shift my perspective and see that the obstacle in front of me is my kind teacher encouraging me to remove a veil of Avidyā, or ignorance, suffering diminishes and connection to others and the universe appears.   I am so very grateful to my kind teacher, the raccoon, who removed a veil when removing my curtains. 
      Namaste My Kind Teacher

About the Writer: Jenny Yoga
Jenny started yoga for her daughter in 2010 but stayed for herself. This is when powerful healing began to transform her body, mind, and spirit, not necessarily in that order. Through a regular asana and sitting practice, studying with phenomenal teachers and soaking in the love of the beautiful yoga community, she has begun to discover a quieter mind. She became RYT 200 certified through Prana School of Yoga and Health in 2012 to deepen her own practice and to share the gift of yoga with others. As a teacher, she sees each student as beautiful. She strives to create a supportive environment in which each student can safely experiment in uncovering the beauty and joy that reside within the heart of each of us.
Teaching: Yoga Basics, Restorative Yoga, Meditation 101 Workshops, All Levels Yoga

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Practice is a Breeze, Non-Judgement takes Practice. Blog by PranaYoga Teacher Jenny Young


I love practicing yoga outside.  It seems that poses can be held with a little more ease and a little longer when the mind is focused on the beauty of the grass, the grace of the passing breeze and the majesty of the trees.  This weather though is hot hot hot!  The sweat begins to pour standing in tadasana.  Listening to the hum of the cicadas and the lazy pants of my dogs, I am transported back to a lesson learned in my youth; 

move slowly, respect nature and learn from neighbors.

My family moved to rolling hills of the Piedmont in rural Virginia when I was nine.   We were northern transplants and came with a preconceived distain for the slow moving, drawling pace of southerners.  Fast talking and fast walking we guffawed at the extra syllables added to random words and impatiently waited and rolled our eyes as it took forever for people to move and finish sentences. We were filled with superiority.   We expected to maintain over an acre of lawn with a push mower, create a glorious garden at the top of a hill and renovate a house all in the 90 and 100 degree heat. 

Well, it is easy to see where this is going.  Within the first month, we found we had to mow almost everyday to keep the rapidly growing grass below mid-calf.   We were becoming intimately introduced to blood sucking insects; incessantly small chiggers that charged in red waves up the legs, opportunistic tics that dropped from trees and a flying barrage of mosquitoes and horse fly’s.   The faster we charged ahead, the more we were beaten back by the suffocating humid heat and abundant nature. The garden was half-weeded, dry and bedraggled.  The house’s paint was half-stripped and we were hot, itchy and confused.

Then... not so much through wisdom but through fatigue, we began to walk a little slower.  We took time to pause at midday and listen with respect to our slow talking neighbors and sometime during that summer, our words stretched from short staccato bullets to longer luxurious releases of breath.  “You” transformed to “youall” and sentences began to hover and slow in the thick heat.   We were learning the lessons of the heat and the lessons of non-judgment.  Our pre-judged neighbors were now our role models.  I still am working on the lessons of non-judgment but the lesson of heat I remember.  As I move though my practice, I move a little more slowly, find time to pause a little more often and find gratitude in the lightest breezy.   At the end of my practice I can even here an extra syllable in the Namaste'.  

Jenny started yoga for her daughter in 2010 but stayed for herself. This is when powerful healing began to transform her body, mind, and spirit, not necessarily in that order. Through a regular asana and sitting practice, studying with phenomenal teachers and soaking in the love of the beautiful yoga community, she has begun to discover a quieter mind. She became RYT 200 certified through Prana School of Yoga and Health in 2012 to deepen her own practice and to share the gift of yoga with others. As a teacher, she sees each student as beautiful. She strives to create a supportive environment in which each student can safely experiment in uncovering the beauty and joy that reside within the heart of each of us.Teaching: Yoga Basics, Restorative Yoga, Meditation 101 Workshops, All Levels Yoga

Friday, June 21, 2013

Summer Solstice June 2013


"Vulnerability is allowing ourselves to truly be seen."  --Jason Nash

If I create from the heart, nearly everything works; if from the head, almost nothing.-chagall


"All our interior world is reality, and that, perhaps, more so than our apparent world."--chagall


Tonight, the Sun moves into Cancer.  
As the sun moves into Cancer, it marks the point of the Summer Solstice, where the light of day is the longest of the whole year.

What does this mean for us?

We come into full awareness of that which we planted during the spring in the Aries cycle, and as we "square" that aries energy with the sun in Cancer, we add a new element to the mix that seems incongruent with the aries energy:  how our hearts feel, and we begin to nurture our intentions and actions into fruition from the inside out.  We begin to release our head into our heart, as we walk down the body from aries to cancer, from head to heart.

How does what you started feel to you now?  Is it in line with your heart's desire?  Follow the emotions with the breath.  Notice what you feel as you meditate on your intention in the full light of awareness brought with the solstice.  Notice what needs to be exhaled and let go of, and what needs to be nurtured to bring forth into our lives.

Meanwhile, we start this process by acknowledging our inner landscape.  Exploring the depths of ourselves in the light of the full sun, and reaching out from that place of strength, our humanity, the human heart.

How deeply are you penetrating into the depths of the shadow and light of ourselves?  
To ignore one is to ignore meaningful insights and understanding of the self as a human 'shell' or space embodying the spirit.

Cancer is represented by the crab.  half on land, half in sea, the crab learns to navigate the inner and outer environments with ease.....



But...
We first reach inward, into the depths of the sea, or our unknown depths.  Become whole with ourselves.
Then we extend outward in full awareness of that self reaching out.
Cancer's have a tendency to absorb others, environments, energy, being a highly psychic sign due to their call to dive deeply inward, they know the depths and potential of the human spirit, mind and body.

So in this tendency, call it the shadow of cancer, to reach outside before inside we develop illusion.... we absorb that which is not us.  We are called to release, feel, purify, and then build that heart space with awareness, with nurturing, love. 

When we don't, we become "shelled", unable to break open that soft heart into what we truly are called towards that lies known only in our heart individually.... the process of going inward is deep, complex, and many run, unable to face the good, bad, and ugly.

But that is our beauty.
Why are we so embarrassed of ourselves.
We are human.  We feel.  We sense.  Let yourself dive deep into the ocean.




And then emerge with the grace of vulnerability as you extend yourself out.
Remembering that internal world, just as when we "wake" out of end svanasana in yoga, we keep that sense of the breath in the body (gemini) moving in a current that draws us inward as we sense the flow, the rhythm of our own body, mind, and emotions.  Through this sensitivity we watch with that witness (see post from earlier today), the observer, to keep that sense of self as we interact and experience.  

We give ourselves space by tapping into that depth.  Space to feel out whatever comes.




If we become too externally focused, stop feeling and start reacting, we become hardened by that "crab shell" and sense the urge to protect ourselves.  

This is what keeps us in pain, in illusion.  Really the work is in the self, the rest flows with ease.  When we don't sense that ease, we go back into the internal world to build, rework, feel, and release.  

Instead in culture, we are taught to ignore that soft internal world.  We are told that feeling, vulnerability is weak, and focusing on nurturing ourselves is weak.  Why?!  Because it's scary to us.  It's dark, deep and unknown.

So make it known.  Love that internal self wildly, madly, completely, and nurture that dream, that vision, that we find in our own hearts.  Soften to become strong.



Just like in yoga:

It's not how hard I can become through the struggle of external effort to hold the pose. 
Rather it's about how soft I can become to RESPOND to the pose, my body, my self.
A flexible mind releases fear and struggle of effort into easeful effort, using the breath.
We learned through the gemini energy that it is the breath that draws us into mindful ease where we release into the flow that surrounds us always and we can truly RESPOND to ourselves, to our feelings, without the attachment, without the struggle.  the struggle comes when we don't feel the breath, that flow, a symbol of our ability to feel, sense, and move in ease.

The breath is the body, the body the breath.  
With the breath, the subtle body awakens and move the energy to the physical, where effort becomes doing instead of struggle to do.

We become alive, from the inside out.  




Without the internal world becoming strong through awareness and letting go to our feelings, we become shelled, protective, defensive, and those crab claws emerge and attach us to that which may not be in our heart afterall.  Because... we didn't look.

Cancer energy is a call to develop the self... that soft spot of the heart which holds our humanity in a bridge to our spirit.  We unlock inside to unlock outside.  

It can't happen any other way, otherwise, it's just effort, just trying.  

And watch as you love yourself to death, how you emerge as that butterfly from the cocoon, new, alive, and living in integrity.

Otherwise we're crusty shelled hearts, unable to feel our way through life.

Yeah, you say, but you don't know what's so wrong with me!  What i do, what I struggle with!  It's horrible, it's evil, its embarrassing, I can't let that out!

You're right... no one will ever know who you are, until you let it out.

But we're called to look at it first, with our own eyes.  

As a cancer myself, it was always easier to take what other ppl said as my own.  That caused me pain through illusion.  

On one hand we're right, nobody does know what we go through.  That's our job to bring it to the world, taking it from victim hood to strength.

And THAT is the power of vulnerability, of looking in and then out.  

As we deal with our own Shit, literally, we become at peace with it.  We feel it, pass it, let it go with the breath.  But we have to feel it first!  You can only heal what you feel.  So know you're own self.  Take yourself from victim to strength through vulnerability, practicing on the inside as we comb through our heart, and then taking that strong nurtured self with us as we extend out.

I can't imagine anything stronger than being totally authentic, vulnerable.  

The ego becomes pure, connected to the spirit, and the heart becomes light.

Watch how your world responds.  

Writter:Nicole Skelton, RYT200, Yogastrology Inspired Teacher
With a life-long interest in the mind-body-spirit connection, Nicole realized her     passion for teaching self awareness by following her heart into a 200 hr teacher training at Pranayoga in Fort Wayne, Indiana. From elemental yoga to the expanding fields of metaphysics and astrology, Nicole has developed a breadth of experience, resulting in a Yogastrology-Inspired teaching style with pioneer Diane Booth Gilliam in Colorado Springs, Colorado. As a yoga teacher, Nicole reveals the subtle, esoteric concepts of yoga through a combination of alignment based on sacred geometry, meditation, visualization and pranayama. Tailored to the individual, her classes often include elements of meditative movement, sun and moon attunement (as presented by Diane Booth Gilliam's Yogastrology out of SanFrancisco), intention setting and gentle yet strong yoga. Nicole deconstructs poses down to their elemental and restorative design with influences from tantra and Tibetan traditions from her time as a teacher at the Tibetan Mongolian Buddhist Cultural Center in Bloomington, Indiana.

Nicole is trained in Shambala Meditation, teaches Hatha, Vinyasa, and Restorative Yoga with a RYT 200 hr from Pranayoga, and is currently practicing yogastrology under the guidance of Diane Booth Gilliam, established astrologer and founder of Yogastrology.

Friday, June 7, 2013

How Can You See Yourself… When You Can See Yourself? By Lauren McMann




 When I am practicing my asana, I truly see myself for who I am. I feel powerful, beautiful, serene, and at peace with body. It is the one time where I am not feeling that strain of judgment of my physical body interfering with my life. Stepping into my studio, whether it be my home space or PranaYoga, I feel it all fall away, and I look forward to an hour and a half of true “me” time.

            While out of town this week for work, I decided to find a studio to practice and decompress from a stressful work week. I was really excited about practicing at a new studio- almost like taking a yoga vacation! The studio was absolutely beautiful, the teachers and students welcoming, and don’t even get me started about the new and exciting retail that I perused.

            After I changed clothes and stepped into the space, I noticed that the wall that our mats were facing was a wall of floor to ceiling mirrors. I had never practiced in front of mirrors before, and I was interested to see what my practice actually looked like in the flesh. We started at the top of our mats in mountain pose. I immediately noticed that the shirt that I had chosen to wear made me look awfully wide. I looked over at the girl next to me, thinking that maybe the mirrors had a strange effect on our bodies, but she looked the same width in the mirror as she did in person. Interesting. Maybe I would not choose to wear this shirt in the future. It did nothing for me, visually.

By the time I was getting over the hideous shirt, we were through sun salutations. Time for some standing poses. Warrior II. OH MY GOODNESS. Is anyone noticing the fact that my stomach is sticking out this far? I look like I am with child. Mula bhanda, Lauren. Tuck that bad boy in. I suppose that looks a little better… it’s probably just the brownie that I shared with a friend after dinner.  

By this point, I was hoping for any pose that would put us in the opposite direction of the mirror, or involved laying on our backs. The entire class, I was scrutinizing my make-up, clothing, and physical body. There were a couple of times that I noticed a posture needed adjusted, but I probably missed some obvious corrections that I could have made due to observing that my hair was getting frizzier and frizzier.

Which begs my original questions- How can you see yourself, when you can see yourself? How are you supposed to look inward if you are looking outward? If PranaYoga had mirrors in their studio, would I be able to overcome this obstacle, or would I have never fallen in love with yoga?

I left the class feeling dejected and more stressed than I was before I walked in. As I was sitting at lunch the next day, eating my PLAIN grilled chicken, thank you very much, I decided that I would not again choose to practice in front of a mirror. I prefer the way that I see myself without getting my reflection’s opinion.



-Lauren McMann, Is currently enrolled in PranaYoga's Yoga Teacher Training, Karma Yogi Support Staff at PranaYoga School of Yoga and Health. In her spare time she is  Branch Manager and Associates Vice President at Old National Bank, a Newlywed, and Proud mother of four fur children.