Yes to You: A Yoga Teacher’s Poem

by Monique Minahan

Yoga One Ten Year AnniversaryI don’t teach you yoga.
You are yoga.

You are that sweet exhale,
that expansive inhale
that pause in between.

You are that unified breath,
that connected mind and body,
the observer and the observed.

What I teach you is how to remember
because we forget.

I forget.

So I invite you back to your breath
back to your body
back to you.

You accept my invitation
but it’s not me you are saying yes to.

It’s you.

You say yes to you.

Yes to your inhale,
Yes to your exhale,
Yes to your tight hamstrings,
Yes to your aching heart.

Yes to your wobbles,
Yes to your strength,
Yes to your past,
Yes to your Now.

Yes to your failures,
Yes to your triumphs,
Yes to your hopes,
Yes to your dreams.

Yes to your anger,
Yes to your peace,
Yes to your fear,
Yes to your courage.

Yes to you.

You say yes to you. I see that happen before my eyes and that is why I bow to you.

It is my privilege to witness your return every time

to your mat
to your heart
to you.

Namaste.

Mo Minahan

Monique Minahan
Contributing Writer

Mo is a writer and yoga teacher who believes in peace over happiness and love over fear. She likes to set her sights high and then take small steps to get there. You’ll find her walking the dirt path behind her house with her little fluffy dog, practicing walking her talk by keeping her head high and her heart open. 

Read more from Monique on her blog, mindfulmo.com

Posted in Music + Art, Reflections | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Instructor Spotlight: Shadow Van Houten

This month we’re featuring Shadow Van Houten who leads a Level 1 and 2 Yoga Flow class on Friday mornings at 9am. Shadow is large of heart, strong of spirit and looms like a super nova of positive vibrations – we’re lucky to have her! Check out our full class schedule here.

Shadow21. What is your favorite style of yoga?

I typically prefer a Prana Flow-inspired Vinyasa, with balanced aspects of humor, playfulnessss, pranayama, and a connection to yoga philosophy. Any class that brings a smile and a deep savasana makes my day.

2. What first attracted you to yoga when you began your practice?

Ten years ago, I was initially drawn to Bikram yoga. My active mind found an unintentional mantra; ”It’s so hot. Why are we here agin? Just stay calm. It’s so hot. Why are we here agin? Just stay calm.” I unconsciously began tapping into what would form the basis of a present mindfulness. It did feel very good for reasons I couldn’t fully explain.

A few years later though, at the yurt in Encinitas, I truly connected with what I consider my yoga practice. I found a teacher who brought to light the deeper, mind-body-spirit connection in a playful, supportive space. The concept of yoga became fun, freeing, holistic, and a constant practice off the mat.

3. What is your favorite yoga pose right now?

Right now, since it’s early in the morning, I love finding spontaneous, or ‘sahaja,’ movement in seated chakravakasana (cat-cow). I think of it akin to grinding coffee in the morning, some days I find a subtle, lumbar isolated movement, a basic coarse-ground roast, and some mornings I find myself exploring deep bends and fluid movements, like an oh-so-fine espresso.

4. What pose is still the most challenging?

I find shoulderstand, sarvangasana, to be quite challenging, especially to find comfort and its intended cooling effect. In full disclosure, I tend to conveniently leave it out of my home practice, but appreciate when it is included in a class. I’m sure it’s a pose I need, but I can’t say it is one I currently enjoy.

5. If you were an animal, you would be: a humpback whale, traveling the world’s oceans with those closest to me, eating copious amounts of fresh seafood and singing our hearts out. Yes, please!

Shadowandupdog6. Describe what yoga means in your life using just 6 words: compassion and connection within and without.

7. What might your students be surprised to learn about you?

My right forearm is mostly metal, so I actually cannot come close to touching my right shoulder with my right fingertips. Fortunately, this is not a motion that’s commonly required in life or asana. However, I discovered this while my toes dangled over the edge of an airplane door, as the dive instructor behind me called out “just grab on to your shoulder straps and jump.” Now that was a stark moment of realization!

8. Do you have any words of wisdom or advice for new students?

The greatest and most challenging work often lies in acceptance, especially self-acceptance. (tweet that) Exactly how you feel and where you are in your practice is ok, in every moment.

It takes time and commitment to detach from judgement and to be present, but these are the aspects of a very advanced practice. The most advanced yogis are not necessarily the ones in very difficult or malleable poses, but they’re the ones listening to and honoring themselves, perhaps by simply finding stillness.

Also, there are so many different ways to access and practice yoga. Explore different styles and teachers, until you discover what you truly enjoy and connect with. Have fun!

Posted in Instructor Spotlight | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2015 Yoga One Teacher Training Perspectives

Twice a year, Yoga One is proud to host our interdisciplinary Yoga One Teacher Training to educate, empower and transform a diverse group of individuals into more dedicated yogis and new yoga teachers. Here are some reflections from our recent graduates on what the course is really like:

Yoga One Teacher Training 20151. How did your experience of yoga or personal practice evolve over the course of Yoga One Teacher Training?

My relationship to yoga became more intimate. I think of yoga all the time now. I constantly recognize relationships between contrasts such as inhale/exhale, backbend/forward-bend, warming/cooling, energizing/relaxing, busy/reflective, light/dark, sun/moon, new/old, and past/present to find the balance in each. – Hannah F.

I learned to be more aware of my alignment to avoid injury. I also learned that everything is core work in yoga! – Courtney B.

While I had attended yoga classes at Yoga One four or five times each week, prior to teacher training, I had not started a personal practice. Now I practice at home as well as at the studio. I enjoyed learning about the history of yoga, both in class and from the readings. The teachers’ manual that Yoga One put together is a wonderful resource. – Laurie A.

My relationship with yoga had refined by the end of the course. Yoga is being present and giving enthusiastic attention to your journey on and off the mat. It is connecting to your spirituality (whatever that may be) through a deeper exploration and understanding of your own body and breath. – Kristin S.

2. What was the most valuable piece of information you learned?

I learned how to keep my shoulders integrated in every pose. I realized I had previously had improper shoulder alignment and was constantly sore from it. Now I experience very little soreness keeping my shoulders aligned properly. – Courtney B.

The most fun aspect of this course was the friendships that I developed with the other trainees. We all had an element of vulnerability as we practice-taught on each other and shared the challenge of the breakdown and rebuilding of a new understanding of yoga as a complete body/mind experience. – Hannah F.

Just learning the basics of alignment. I can finally find my balance in Vrksasana (Tree)!(Well, not always, but I’m a lot better.) – Laurie A.

That the journey is what matters most, not the destination. I find so much peace in that. – Kristin S.

The specifics of asana, yoga philosophy, and anatomy were thoroughly taught by incredibly competent, patient, and generous teachers. The content was beautifully organized and taught in large yet manageable chunks. The sense of community between trainees and the nurturing learning environment facilitated by the teachers created a really rewarding and fun experience. – Sarah S.

3. How Yoga One Teacher Training impacted my life:

It made me more aware of my own body while doing yoga! I am constantly adjusting myself during my practice, whereas before I didn’t really put much effort into my alignment. – Courtney B.

There is more to yoga than asanas (poses). And I learned that I don’t have to do the asanas perfectly. In fact, I have all the time in the world to improve! Yoga One Teacher Training also impacted my life by introducing me to some wonderful people. I was one of the older participants and I enjoyed the diversity of participants and instructors. We came from all over the globe. We had different past experiences in yoga and brought different hopes, dreams and plans to our yoga mats. – Laurie A.

I find more harmony in my practice and the little universe on my yoga mat. By incorporating yoga daily I find that harmony in all aspects of my life more and more. It is a constant effort and learning exercise but practicing yoga with intention on and off the mat is what it is all about! – Kristin S.

Posted in Teacher Training | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Healing The BodyMind Through Yoga

by Monique Minahan

yoga-journey-quoteEarly on in my yoga practice I would often experience an emotional reaction during corpse pose (savasana). Lying still, I would get a lump in my throat and suddenly find tears quietly rolling down my cheeks. I didn’t know it at the time, but my yoga practice was releasing long-held grief from my body.

When grief and recovery from trauma have been processed by the mind, life may begin to seem approachable again and many people feel they can move forward; but the same processes of recovery and healing are essential to the body as well.

Feeling a strong emotional release in a yoga pose or during final relaxation is far from uncommon. One of yoga’s most powerful side effects is its ability to release and heal the BodyMind. Not just the body. Not just the mind. The combined, interconnected, undivided BodyMind.

BodyMind is a term coined by Dr. Candace Pert, a neuropharmacologist who pioneered scientific research into the field of Mind-Body Medicine, advancing our understanding of what are called neuropeptides, or messenger molecules that carry information from the mind to the body and back again through body fluids. These neuropeptides are found throughout our bodies in the heart, sexual organs, and the limbic system, to name a few.

Dr. Pert breaks this concept down with an example of the gut. The entire lining of our intestines is lined with these particular transmitters. She posits, “It seems entirely possible to me that the richness of the receptors may be why a lot of people feel their emotions in their gut – why they have a ‘gut feeling.’”

She further comments: “I think unexpressed emotions are literally lodged in the body. The real true emotions that need to be expressed are in the body, trying to move up and be expressed and thereby integrated, made whole, and healed.”

When we move our bodies through yoga, our BodyMind is allowed expression. It can begin to release emotion and tension that’s been stuck in our bodies for a long period of time, perhaps even years after we think we’ve mentally processed the event.

Exploring these heavy emotions in our yoga practice, whether intentionally or accidentally, might feel intimidating. Resourcing is a technique that helps us stay present during uncomfortable or overwhelming sensations by finding and connecting to a resource, such as the breath or one of the five senses. This connection works like an anchor for a boat and we can begin to observe sensations safely, without fear of getting lost in the sea of our experience.

Join me this Mother’s Day at Yoga One for a special commemorative practice where we will explore three ways to use resourcing with yoga, as well as learn how to identify where emotions reside in our individual bodies. We will focus specifically on how to apply these tools when dealing with loss and grief.

This practice is for anyone interested in learning how to use yoga as a supportive healing modality, but especially for anyone who has lost their mother and would welcome a supportive, safe, non-judgemental environment to honor their mother on Mother’s Day.

Loss is something we will all experience in our lifetime. It’s not a matter of if, but a matter of when. Our yoga practice will not show us a way out of grief, but it can show us a way through and support us through every stage of healing.

mothersdayflierNote: If this is something you’re interested in, but find the cost prohibitive or cannot attend for some other reason, please contact Yoga One to arrange a way for you to receive the information: 619-294-7461 or email info@yogaonesandiego.com

Mo Minahan

Monique Minahan
Contributing Writer

Mo is a writer and yoga teacher who believes in peace over happiness and love over fear. She likes to set her sights high and then take small steps to get there. You’ll find her walking the dirt path behind her house with her little fluffy dog, practicing walking her talk by keeping her head high and her heart open. 

Read more from Monique on her blog, mindfulmo.com

Posted in Reflections, Workshops/Retreats | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Eight Limbs of Yoga for a Whole Being

by Sarah Clark

0127ssI’ve come to think of my eight-limbed yoga practice a lot like the image of the bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara from the Buddhist tradition. This figure, said to embody compassion, is often depicted with many, sometimes innumerable arms. Each one of these arms and subsequent hands holds a different kind of tool – the tool that will be just right for the task; and that right tool depends on the circumstance.

Like many westerners, I was introduced to yoga through asana, or the practice of yoga postures. Asana is the third limb of yoga in the eight-limbed path. For a long while, my practice was characterized solely by the time I spent on my yoga mat, sweating, moving and breathing (working with the energy of breathing is the fourth limb, by the way: pranayama). It was glorious.

But after awhile, I felt other seeds starting to grow. My posture and breathing practices were effecting other aspects of my life. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but I felt as though I was becoming more patient and calm. I could feel these seeds sprouting tendrils that were reaching down into deeper parts of me that earnestly valued compassion, kindness and peace. I was hungry to understand more about what was happening.

I found teachers, or maybe they found me, that were eager to foster my deeper growth. I started learning about the eight-limbed path and I started to ask myself hard questions and take on new practices. I wanted to know: what is this practice for? Why bother? Why, exactly, am I dedicating all this time in my life to practice? Where is it leading? What are my truest, deepest values?

The beauty of the eight-limbed path is that it dealt with the whole of me. The first limb, the yamas, profoundly changed my life. The yamas are comprised of five ethical practices that help us navigate the sticky world of relationships. We activate these yamas in our actions and speech, in how we listen, and how we work with our thoughts. We wrestle with the intention to cause no harm (ahimsa), to be honest (satya), and to let go of our tendencies for greed (aparigraha).

I discovered that the other limbs were equally potent. I learned how to cultivate patience when yoga postures and everyday life was high in intensity (practice of tapas) and how to find contentment in my being regardless of circumstance (santośa). These are part of the second limb, called the niyamas.

I learned to harness the subtly of my breath, and how to savor its energetic effects with more nuance as I dove deeper into the fourth limb of pranayama.

I learned how to work with my sensory experiences and to let go of them through the fifth limb of pratyahara so that I was able to psychologically settle down. This paved the way to being able to mentally stop running around and running away in my mind: that’s the sixth limb, dharana.

I began a quiet, seated meditation practice, limb number seven, dhyana. I took a deeper look at how I constructed my reality. Now, I sit every day. And samadhi, the eighth limb, opens up in moments. This is the limb of being fully integrated in my life, just how it is. It circles me back around to the first limb again, begging that I use these deeper insights and growing wisdom in the actions I take in my life.

The eight-limbed path has not led me to some constant state of bliss or ended world hunger. But its richness is a scaffolding through which I stay more steadily connected with what is most meaningful in my life. It keeps my eye on the target of living a life of kindness, compassion, steadiness, and love. And it is whole. It addresses my entire, interwoven body-energy-mind-heart.

As a practitioner, and especially as a yoga teacher, I owe it to myself and to the world to take on a more whole practice; it’s critical I encourage my practice to mature. We live in a complex, interconnected world, and so we need a wide range of tools in our tool belt! I hope to see us as a wider yoga community embrace the fullness of yoga through all eight limbs, so that this path can more meaningfully address the real needs of this particular culture at this particular time. The way that actually shows up in our life is entirely dependent on each of our unique circumstances! And, allowing a whole practice to shake up our world honors the precious opportunity that is being alive.

If you want to learn more about the eight limbs of yoga and how they can enhance your life and your practice, join me on Sunday, May 3rd at noon at Yoga One for an in-depth workshop, 8 Limbs for a Whole Being. For more details and to register, go here.

Sarah ClarkSarah Clark has been teaching yoga since 2006. She currently offers Teacher Training, workshops, private instruction, and group classes throughout San Diego, CA. Her primary teachers include Michael Stone, Joe Miller, Christie Clark, Judith Lasater & Cyndi Lee. 

Posted in Reflections, Yoga 101 | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Yoga Without Asana

by Laura McCorry

What does it mean to practice yoga when your physical practice is greatly diminished or taken away entirely from illness or injury? 

sand_0

Yoga grew out of a tradition that includes eight limbs (or tenets) for a complete practice. Asana, or the physical postures of yoga, is just one of those eight limbs. The others show up during yoga practice as well and contain the philosophical groundwork of the ancient practice. (You can do your own search to learn more or come to our upcoming 8 Limbs for a Whole Being workshop on May 3rd.)

I’ve experienced long withdrawals from my physical practice due to long-term injury and more recently, a period of several weeks wherein I’ve caught one virus after another. Neither condition is any fun because you’d much rather be well and able to move your body freely.

So what does it mean to be a yogi who cannot practice asana?

I started out feeling very sorry for myself and disconnected from most forms of yoga displayed on the internet. I didn’t want to see photos of handstands on the beach or “inspirational” videos of complicated pose transitions. But this is the showy side of yoga and if you dig deeper, there’s so much more.

Physical limitations give you many opportunities to practice non-attachment, or aparigraha. You must let go of what you used to be able to do. You learn to guard your heart against jealousy when others do what you cannot. There is always a choice in how and whether you respond to any given circumstance. Non-attachment means letting go of feeling bitter and lost and broken.

Yoga becomes a more internal experience. During asana practice, teachers often tell you to listen to your body. Without asana, you must listen to your state of mind. (tweet that) The lessons learned on your mat become even more important when you cannot use the gross tool of your body to process them. The mind is slipperier and harder to control.

I found new ways to measure my yoga practice. I could no longer count the number of sun salutations I did in class, but I could ask myself if I spent some time sitting in silence. Did I make the most loving decisions I could make? How long was I able to forget about myself while being present for another? Sometimes yoga meant doing something just because it brought joy into the world.

If you really practice yoga outside the studio and off your mat, you realize that you always have your breath. I learned to make time just to breathe consciously. This was my practice – to be aware of my breath moving in and out of the body, sustaining my life. To allow myself to be carried away by the sensation of breath until the mind gives up listing its grievances and to-do lists. Then you move beyond the awareness of breathing and for an unknowable space of time, you simply are. This is the good stuff. This is samadhi, or oneness with the universe, that all yoga practice seeks to achieve.

Asana is wonderful. It can help transform both body and mind. But it’s not the only path. If you must take a break from asana, do not mourn it for too long. The real work of becoming who you are meant to be is internal and the other limbs of yoga can reveal the process. Stay connected to yourself and to the experience of each moment. This is how yoga moves with you and carries you through times of adversity.

Laura McCorry

Laura McCorry
Contributing Writer

Yoga and Laura had an on-again-off-again relationship from 2004 until 2009 when they decided to move in together and there’s been no looking back since. Passionate about both yoga and writing, Laura loves to introduce others to the joys and benefits of yoga and healthy living.

Contact: laura@yogaonesandiego.com

Posted in Reflections, Yoga 101 | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Yogi Reads: Yoga Girl

by Olivia Cecchettini

yogagirl_US-cover“Yoga Girl”

by Rachel Brathen

Summary: Rachel Brathen, also know as Yoga Girl, is spreading love across the globe one hug at a time. If you’re not already following her on social media, you most likely will be soon, as her US book tour, also know as, The Happiness Tour, is going on at this very moment. Rachel is a woman who loves yoga, her man, her dogs, and practicing handstands on the beach but there is more to her than meets the eye. This book introduces the reader to Rachel’s childhood in Sweden and how she has worked to transform her life into the life of her dreams.

Yoga Girl is light-hearted, fun and beautiful, but it also connects on a deeper level to the heartache and joy of Rachel’s real personal life. Weaving through each of the seven chapters are easy to do yoga sequences as well as recipes to inspire a nutritious, plant-based diet. The entire book is sprinkled with beautiful photos that will make you want to venture to the nearest beach, get upside down and enjoy life to the fullest.

Why I Love It: I love how Yoga Girl focuses on the positive and recognizes that this is a choice. Everything can be taken away from you, absolutely everything – except your attitude. Rachel Brathen has experienced firsthand how yoga heals and transforms lives and reading her story is a breath of fresh air.

This book reminds me to choose happiness and to acknowledge when I’m hurting. I was reminded of my own grief over losing my grandmother and how yoga helped me breathe and eventually heal. Rachel’s heartfelt reflections made me feel that life is truly a process of remembering what our hearts and souls already know.

Recommended For: Anyone new to yoga will find a great introduction to yoga and its philosophy in Yoga Girl. The more experienced yogi will enjoy the depth and wisdom in Rachel’s personal testimony.

This book invites readers to go past the surface and love others, but more importantly, to love themselves. Yes, there are a lot of bikini pictures which may spark insecurities, but I encourage you to receive it’s overarching message: that you are a true co-creator of your life. If that includes bikinis, great! If not, great!

This month I invite you to slow down and check in with yourself. Are you living in a way that is in alignment with who you are and with your dreams? Let go of people pleasing. Let go of control. Pick up this book or recapture anything that inspires you to move forward with your authentic life.

Ciao, Olivia

“For me, the book was like a perfect yoga class—it left me inspired, relaxed and at the same time gave me tons of ideas.” – Katarina Tavčar, Elephant Journal

Olivia headshotOlivia Cecchettini
Contributing Writer

Olivia’s yoga journey began in 2003. She is certified in Vinyasa, Hatha, and Aerial Yoga and holds a Masters degree in Spiritual Psychology. She believes the mind, body, soul connection is sacred and encourages her students explore and expand within their own bodies and consciousnesses.

Posted in Yogi Reads | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mantra Monday: Let the Light In

by Laura McCorry

warrior quoteIt’s easy to get caught up in living a moment to moment existence (which is not the same as existence in the present moment). You do the things that must be done to move from one day into the next – putting off until tomorrow everything but the essential. Until there is only enough space in the crowded shuffle of your brain to process the next step.

This is when life is hard. When a deep feeling of unease settles around your heart. If you could step back, you might see the problem, but you feel stuck. The body will tell you something is wrong and its strongest language is pain. 

Yoga helps. Get on your mat and start to move with your body. Listen. Find your alignment by what feels good and not how it looks. A hot cup of tea can do wonders. So can a phone call to a friend. Breathe in. Breath out.

Do whatever it is you need to do to let the light back in. 

Open your hands and release everything you’ve been grasping and clenching tight. Turn your face to the sun, which can be the actual sun or your closed eyes summoning up all the loves in your life –

Your romantic partner. Your mother. Your dog. Anyone who has ever shown you kindness.

Think of them and feel the corners of your eyes crinkle. Let the light shine deep and illuminate the furthest reaches of your heart.

Laura McCorry

Laura McCorry
Contributing Writer

Yoga and Laura had an on-again-off-again relationship from 2004 until 2009 when they decided to move in together and there’s been no looking back since. Passionate about both yoga and writing, Laura loves to introduce others to the joys and benefits of yoga and healthy living.

Contact: laura@yogaonesandiego.com

Posted in Encouragement | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Meet Your Massage Therapist: Mat Stockton

Massage therapy is proven to improve circulation, decrease chronic pain and generally help you feel like a million bucks! Meet the newest addition to our wellness team and schedule your massage today.

Mat Stockton headshot1. Why did you decide to become a massage therapist?

I have an active lifestyle, which often meant sore muscles and an aching body. I wanted to learn ways to alleviate and even prevent this discomfort. Now I love being in a position to help others achieve their health goals.

2. What benefits have you or your clients received from regular
massage therapy?

Giving a massage makes me feel like I’m enjoying a nutritional, superfood smoothie. It allows me to stay present and aware of how I’m moving during and after a session, which is very energizing.

Receiving massage gives you the opportunity to focus on yourself, re-discovering areas of the body that may have been neglected. Massage can help you feel better aligned and improve your natural range of motion. Moving through your life without pain or discomfort is a joy that every body should experience.

3. Do you have a favorite type of massage?

My favorite types of massage are Acupressure and Deep Tissue. I enjoy using a blend of modalities to achieve the best experience and result for the client, often including Swedish and Sports Massage techniques as well.

4. Something interesting your clients might not know about you is:

 In my spare time I enjoy making music and performing to get the creative juices flowing. I beat-box through a loop-pedal and create funny freestyle-raps about my immediate surroundings or whatever strikes me at the moment.

5. What’s the best advice you give for how to really enjoy a
massage?

Communicate with your therapist! Let them know what feels good and what areas of your body need the most attention. A great massage is not just something you receive, but something you help create through good feedback.

Posted in Massage + Acupuncture | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2015 Yoga One Teacher Training Perspectives

Checking in with Yoga One Teacher Trainee, Courtney Barrow

Courtney Barrow

What’s one thing you’ve learned already that’s changed your perspective on yoga/life?

I’ve learned how to be patient. Be patient with your body in yoga and enjoy where you are at the moment, not where you wish to be. That same thing applies in life. Be stuck in traffic. Wait in the one long line at the grocery store. Be patient and just enjoy the moment.

If you could describe Yoga One Teacher Training in three words, they would be: Knowledge, Strength, and Love.

Posted in Teacher Training | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment