Thursday, August 29, 2013
by Cindy Walker, B.A. RTY
For thousands of years, the practice of Yoga has helped people cope with physical, emotional and even spiritual pain. Chronic pain depletes both our physical and emotional reserves. It can also lessen the desire to fully participate in life and lead to isolation and loneliness. Yoga combines the triad of breath work (pranayama), relaxation poses (asanas) and meditation (dhyana), all of which help reduce pain syndromes. These techniques act together to 1) distract the mind from focusing on the pain; 2) reduce the body’s physiological reaction to pain; and 3) help loosen pain’s power over us.
Yoga helps regulate the brain’s secretion of natural biochemical pain-killers. Breathing exercises and poses increase blood flow and stimulate release of endorphins, promoting feelings of well-being. Yoga also activates the parasympathetic nervous system—that part of the involuntary nervous system that slows heart rate, increases intestinal and glandular activity, and helps the body recuperate, restore and reach equilibrium. Yoga also helps us increase the length of the breath’s exhalation phase, producing a relaxation response that reduces pain signaling to the brain. When our muscles relax, our mind and emotions unwind, allowing us to develop greater compassion and understanding of ourselves and others.
Many times, the most stressful aspect of chronic pain is the lack of control we experience around it. Yoga helps us feel more ‘in charge’, allowing us to slow down and loosen up around the pain. Less pain—less tension—less pain! Often, we overly-identify with our pain, believing we’re helpless and at its mercy or, even worse, responsible for it. Yoga helps soften these perceptions, allowing us to lovingly inhabit our bodies. Most importantly, yoga is designed to precede meditation. The cultivation of awareness through mindfulness meditation helps us become more fulfilled and able to see things as they really are in the present moment.
Yoga is a multi-faceted practice that trains us to reduce the mind’s constant chatter, lovingly breathe in to our beautiful bodies, concentrate on living in the present, and focus on what’s most important in our precious lives!
I look forward to seeing you on the mat soon,
Wednesday, July 31, 2013
Cocoa- Avocado Mousse
Ingredients for crust:
(Pulse all in processor until even and grain-like)
1/2 cup walnut
1/2 cup pecans
add 1 cup raw unsweetened shredded coconut pulse to mix with nuts
add 2t vanilla extract and 2 t almond extract with 1 1/2cup pitted mejool dates (about 15) presoaked in warm water for 10-15 minutes and drain, helps make a smoother mix add more dates as needed until stick together well
Ingredients for Mousse pudding:
1 cup presoaked pitted mejool dates ( about 10), drained, process until smooth add liquid(water or orange juice) 1/4-1/2 cup as needed to create a date paste.
2 ripe avocados
1 T vanilla extract
1/3c cocoa powder and process until smooth
Fill individual bowls or cups or make a large pie crust with the nut mixture. Place sliced bananas on crust and fill with cocoa-avocado mousse. Top with variety of fruits and fresh mint leaves. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2-4hrs. Enjoy!
Friday, July 26, 2013
Pronounced (oo-TEE-tah parsh-vah-cone-AHS-anna)
utthita = extended
parsva = side, flank
kona = angle
Extended side angle or triangle variation pose is a common posture and can be found in almost any type of class from Gentle to Bikram, Vinyasa & Power. Here, Robyn Capobianco shows us what to look for and how to modify if need be.
Friday, July 12, 2013
Limited Edition Om Candy rSkidless Giveaway!
We have challenged you this month to get out and experience a new class. Our YogaSource Summer Camp is off to a great start with so many of you trying new styles of yoga. We have heard quite a few of you long time practitioners mention new experiences and realizations even after so many weeks, months, and even years on the mat.
So we started getting curious. We are curious what you're learning about yourself through yoga. Have you realized something about yourself that you never would have guessed, didn't know existed and found to be pleasurably surprising or scary as all get out? We are hoping you will share these findings with us!
Please tag Yogasource in Facebook or #yogasource in Instagram and tell or show us what you've found.
One lucky participant will receive a limited edition Om Candy rSkidless Yogitoes mat towel for sharing their journey!
Thursday, June 27, 2013
Yoga Teacher Training is an incredible experience. However it is hard to convey just how life changing it can be in any way that your audience will fully grasp. What trainees go through to become a yoga teacher has the potential to lead to some of the best friendships, most memorable experiences, life changing perspectives and maybe a new career. Every year we witness complete strangers connect through yoga, and learning to teach. We witness aha moments and breakthroughs, major life transitions and realizations. Teacher training brings about new ways of thinking, seeing yourself and your role, as well as the role of everyone you share your life with. Teacher training asks everything of you. It is not for the faint of heart although we have seen some incredible transformations over the years. If you even have the slightest interest in it, pursue it. How else can you fully comprehend the magnitude of how much your life will change because of it?
What role did yoga play in your life prior to the teacher training?
What role did yoga play in your life prior to the teacher training?
Sandy: I have a genuine love for yoga. It is a huge part of my life and plays several roles! Prior to teacher training, I maintained a practice in yoga for my mental and physical health - it's also taught me so many different principles of discipline, patience, compassion, and balance.
What made you enroll in the YogaSource Teacher Training program?Hannah: After spending more time at YogaSource, I really felt a sense of community and comfort here. I wanted to take a Teacher Training program for a while and after finding this warm environment, I knew YogaSource was the place to fulfill this dream. I knew the teacher training would be very thorough because of the high caliber of all the teachers I’ve taken classes from at YogaSource.
Sandy: I enrolled in the Teacher Training program with the intention of improving my practice and deepening my understanding of yoga. I always knew that yoga improved my physical health and I felt like a million bucks after 90 minutes of Power, but I was always wondered exactly how yoga benefits us and our bodies.
What were you hoping to get out of the training?Hannah: My main motivation for taking the training was to develop a deeper understanding of my personal yoga practice and get the skills to articulate yoga to others. Honestly, I did not enroll in the training with the intention to teach but now having more tools and knowledge I am much more motivated to teach.
Sandy: I am totally huge on nutrition, fitness, and overall healthy living. Out of this training, I hoped to achieve greater body awareness and gain a new perspective understanding where yoga fits in the picture of maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
After Day 1 you thought…Hannah:
After the first day, I realized there are so many more subtleties to each pose than I imagined. I also second-guessed my teaching abilities, but as we began to practice teach each day my confidence continued to build.
Sandy: Holy smokes, what did I sign myself up for? I'll be honest, Day 1 began with the first day of school nerves and a tiny bit of anxiety (especially after the first thing they made us do! - all you TT yogis know what I'm talking about), but what a thrill! It ended well and I was definitely looking forward to the second day.
What three things did you learn about yourself during the training?Hannah: 1.) Being someone who is terrified of public speaking, this training helped me gain the confidence to confront this fear. I learned that the use of steady breath is the most useful tool for me to calm the nerves that come along with public speaking. Because of this, pranayama has become a much more prominent aspect of my daily yoga practice. 2.) Another lesson I learned about myself is that there is something I can still work on in each pose. Before this training, I felt like I mostly understood each pose for my body. However, now I’ve learned there are many subtle aspects to each pose that I can constantly work to deepen my personal practice. My daily yoga definitely increased in difficulty after teacher training! 3.) Additionally, I learned the best way to be a good teacher is to be yourself. There are so many different types of teachers who bring their own style and energy to their classes. When we began practice teaching, I tried to emulate the energy I’ve seen many of my favorite teachers use in class. However, I quickly realized it seemed unnatural and forced when trying to act like someone else. As soon as I started teaching in a way that was more my style, I felt much more confident and comfortable.
Sandy: 1.) Positive attitude energy goes a long way and creates a great practice and experience. 2.) There's no way I'll ever be able to get rid of the butterflies teaching, but there are definitely ways to get the butterflies moving to places I want them to. 3.) I experienced self-growth as each day progressed during the program.
Though you still have Level 2 to complete and are not yet a certified teacher, what experiences/lessons from the Level 1 training prepared you to get out there and teach someone yoga?Hannah: Level 1 Teacher Training not only provided the groundwork of information about yoga, but also the ability to articulate and translate the poses in different ways to be an effective teacher. Each person comprehends and feels yoga in a different way; this training gave me the skill set to present information differently to varying individuals.
Sandy: Lessons on the breath, body alignment, and walking into a practice with the intention to learn and better yourself (sharing this with others) are just a few things that have prepared me to teach someone yoga. There is still so much to learn, especially in terms of unleashing your creativity in building a completely unique sequence.
You said you got a yoga teaching job already!?!? What? Where?
Sandy: Yes! I teach a 60-minute Vinyasa Flow class at a local gym called Performax. One of my best friends works at the front desk and introduced me to the gym owners! I taught my first class in early June, about 15 people showed up. The students were generally beginners and I actually had one person walk out. I should have probably held off on koundinyasana... oops!
Biggest misconception you had about teaching yoga?Hannah: Before the training, I never realized how much knowledge and preparation each yoga teacher puts into each class. I always imagined that teachers came into class and just threw out different poses at random, but now I realize there is reasoning behind the direction of a class.
Sandy: You must be flexible and an advanced practitioner to be a yoga instructor. A great lesson learned in level 1 - we all have different bodies and there is no perfect form of yoga. Flexibility is not a quality that determines one's ability to teach.
Best thing you took away from the intense Level 1 week?
Hannah: Level 1 provided riveting information and lessons, but one of the best things I took away from this training were lifelong friends that I may have never met otherwise. When enrolling for teacher training, I never imagined the wonderful connections I would make with my classmates and teachers. I made friendships with some truly inspiring people who share a passion. This training not only provides knowledge, but also a supportive community.
Sandy: Teacher Training had a beautiful way of bringing me face to face with my personal doubts, fears, and insecurities - the best things I took away were the positive qualities the experience brought out in me and the awesome friends I made.
Your 1-year plan to conquer the yoga world:
Hannah: To solidify my training and continue growth as a teacher, I hope to take a variety of classes and workshops. After I receive my 200 hour certification, I hope to start teaching as soon as possible in order to hone my teaching skills and share the knowledge I have gained.
Sandy: Whoa whoa whoa... one step at a time! In the next year, I hope to find a studio that will take me after level 2. Once I get my feet wet, we can talk about conquering the yoga world ;)
Where can we catch you when you’re not doing yoga or teaching it?
Hannah: When I am not doing yoga, you can find me behind the front desk at YogaSource! Although yoga is my main activity, I also love climbing and trail running to add some variety.
Sandy: Monday thru Friday I am a workin' girl - But outside of work and on the weekends, you'd catch me running, boarding, crafting, painting, catching up with friends, or playing the ukulele on the beach!
If you are interested in learning more about Teacher Training programs YogaSource is offering a FREE Information Session on July 12th.
Thursday, June 13, 2013
The five spiritual faculties are faith, effort, mindfulness, concentration, and wisdom. Today we have reached the last: Wisdom. It is in some ways the crowning virtue, the highest faculty, but is also something that has been there all along. You may be surprised to learn what wisdom is, and what it is not.
Wisdom is not seen as something abstract or something attained once and then you have it. Rather, we talk about what it takes to be a wise person: It means you know what is good for self, good for others, good for both. It means you know how to act in a beneficial way in the world.
This means that wisdom is a practice.
The Pali word for wisdom is pañña, which is also sometimes translated as "discernment" or "understanding." There are two different levels of discernment.
First, there is wisdom in life. At the relative level, we are discerning what is wholesome from what is unwholesome – what will lead to happiness and what will lead to suffering. This is all very simple and impersonal, but not easy because of our strong habit patterns and tendency to ignore things.
For example, eating foods that bring pleasure in the moment, but make you feel sick later – it's a mark of wisdom to be able to refrain. Or we may learn that it's not worth saying certain things even if it's momentarily cathartic to do so, because of the harm it causes down the line.
Someone who is highly skilled in this kind of worldly wisdom will be generous, virtuous, learned, and usually quite happy. They are exemplary people, worthy friends… but they have not yet put an end to suffering.
The second kind of wisdom concerns a deeper seeing into things – and deceptive nature of conventional reality.
From early childhood, we are trained to perceive objects as solid and separate. Meditative experience shows this not to be true. A crucial part of meditative training is to see all experience in three ways: As impermanent (anicca), unsatisfactory (dukkha), and not-self (anatta). Most people have a basic understanding of impermanence. In fact, this can even be part of daily life wisdom, and does not require deep meditation. But seeing it at a more fundamental level, in meditation, has a profound impact on the mind. Similarly, we can come to realize that anything that is impermanent cannot provide a lasting form of happiness. And such things are not suitable to take as an essential, separate self.
Meditation undermines our conventional perceptions, and this is the path to finding the escape from suffering. This is the sense in which wisdom is the antidote to delusion, ignorance, and wrong view. It is a penetrating kind of wisdom that sees through the clouds of deception.
When a person has developed wisdom this deeply, they are actually returned to the first task: Living well in the world. In fact, it is said that until one has penetrated to the Truth, one cannot completely know what is good for self, good for other, and good for both. With this higher wisdom, people can truly be of benefit to the world.
"We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time."
-T.S. Eliot, from Little Gidding (The Four Quartets):
Join Kim on Sundays at 9am for our complimentary Meditation & Dharma class
Friday, June 07, 2013
Raw Living Lasagna
PASTA: zucchini, thinly sliced legnthwise for noodles with a knife or mandoline
slice and place in a glass casserole dish. drizzle with oil from sun-dried tomatoes and mix, about 2 Tablespoons. Let the slices "marinate" while making the sauces, this will soften the texture of the zucchini.
Hemp, Pine nut & Spinach Pesto:
Mix ALL ingredients in a highspeed blender or processor, we use a vitamix.
4 garlic cloves
2 cups fresh basil
1 cup fresh spinach
1/2 c oil from sun-dried tomatoes or drain and add other olive oil to make 1/2c total
1/2 lemon- cut away peel
1 date or 1t raw honey
Celtic sea salt to taste
Add last 1/4 c hemp seeds
Add 1/4c pine nuts or can omit hemp and all pine nuts.
Makes about 1 cup.
Sun-dried Tomato Marinara:
Mix ALL ingredients in processor or vitamix, makes about 3 cups.
1 bottle sun dried tomatoes with drained olive oil
1c. sun-dried tomatoes presoaked in warm water, softer the better, drained, 30 min- 4 hrs optimum, **save water for thinning
2 roma tomatoes- chunks
1/2 white onion- chunks
2 (presoaked 10 min)dates or 1T raw honey
2 cloves garlic
1-2 T basalmic vinegar
celtic sea salt to taste
2 T dried italian herb mix
optional: 1t smoked paprika,1t crushed red pepper flakes,fresh oregano sprigs
use saved tomato water to thin marinara to a soft but thick paste
PINE NUT CASHEW CHEESE:
Mix ALL ingredients in processor or vitamix
1 1/2 c raw cashews
1/4c nutritional yeast
1/2 lemon squeezed for juice
1 clove garlic
celtic sea salt to taste
1/2 c pine nuts
1/2 c tomato water
optional: 1 T dried chervil and or 1T rosemary
You can make individual plates or 1 casserole. For individual plates I start a base of baby spinach. Optional in glass casserole dish.
Layer strips of zucchini noodles. Follow with marinara, top with pesto then cheese. Top with sliced heirloom tomatoes and repeat for two to three or more layers. Finish with thin layer of tomatoes and top with fresh basil pieces. optional drizzle with olive oil and or basalmic vinegar and fresh oregano leaves.
The lasagna can be layered and refrigerated 24hrs ahead of time, bring to room temp or can reheat in dehydrator 2-3 hrs or bake at 325 for 25-30 minutes. leftovers good 3-5 days but sauces and cheese freeze well. defrost in refrigerator as needed.
Thursday, May 30, 2013
For your listening pleasure.. Check out the latest tunes inspiring our instructors this Summer!
Check out the playlist HERE!
Monday, April 29, 2013
Written by Kim Allen, Board President of the Insight Meditation Center in Redwood City and Meditation and Dharma Instructor at YogaSource Los Gatos.
The five spiritual faculties are faith, effort, mindfulness, concentration, and wisdom. Today we will focus on concentration. This is a steadiness of mind – the mind is concerned with just one object and does not waver from that. And it is characterized by having no discursive thought – no storyline, no conversations, no figuring things out. Note that there are various other kinds of thoughts. We are not trying to eliminate thought, which is common misperception about meditation.
Concentration, like other qualities of mind, can be developed. The most traditional concentration object is the breath. Another common one is metta (lovingkindness). The instructions for concentration are to direct the mind repeatedly to one object, and when it moves away from the object, simply let go and bring it back (without investigation of the distraction).
There is a fine art to concentration: Making effort and not making effort (ie, letting go). Notice the connection to the previous faculty of Effort! You have to make some effort or the mind will just run rampant. But making too much effort simply won't work. If your mind is running wild, you just have to accept that until it gets tired and gives up on its own. Make steady effort without straining. And then, as the mind settles into concentration, you can make less effort, and less, and less. In very deep states of concentration, no effort is needed at all – in fact, effort just disturbs the calm.
There are many effects of concentration on the body and mind. The body may feel light, open, relaxed, boundary-less. There may be tingles, flushes of heat, feelings of floating or alteration of body size/shape. There may be a sensation of light. In our tradition, the particular physical sensations are not considered very significant. Just let them arise, don’t get entangled, and know that they will pass away.
In the mind, you will encounter delight, joy, happiness, contentment, equanimity. These are very pleasant mindstates – far better than sense pleasure. In fact, concentration practice tends to weaken our interest in sensory experience; it is a good way to let go of desire and greed for worldly things.
Concentration is not in and of itself liberating. Instead, it leads to the ability to see things as they are. The insights that arise from concentration give birth to wisdom, which is the final faculty.
Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Written by Kim Allen, Board President of the Insight Meditation Center in Redwood City and Meditation and Dharma Class Instructor at YogaSource Los Gatos
The five spiritual faculties are faith, effort, mindfulness, concentration, and wisdom. Today we will explore the central factor of mindfulness. It is not an accident that it is in the middle of the list – mindfulness is both central to the practice and plays an overarching, balancing role among the faculties.
The practice we do in the YogaSource Dharma group is called mindfulness meditation. What is mindfulness? It means knowing what is happening as it is happening. The classic analogy to depict mindfulness meditation is of a house with 5 windows and a door. You take your seat and don’t follow anything that passes by the window or comes in the door. It is an easy, relaxed awareness – just see things and let them go by.
Another useful way to think of mindfulness is as attention with a wisdom component. That is, attention that is not accompanied by greed, hatred, or delusion. We could also say, Attention with no agenda.
The reason there are so many ways to talk about mindfulness is that this wisdom component can be included in many ways. Often a word is added, such as "kind attention," "receptive attention," or "bare attention."When we see something with mindfulness, we are connected, but not entangled. When we see fear, that part that is aware of fear is not afraid (and the same for anger, greed, etc.) We shift from being the emotion, to seeing it. Or we shift from avoiding or denying it, to seeing it. We maintain a gentle, clear connection, without getting sucked in.
The immediate benefit is that this in itself brings great relief. When people have that first moment of seeing anger instead of just acting it out or reacting, they may touch a moment of peace that they didn’t know was possible. Andrea Fella, a meditation teacher, recalls how she got into practice:
One day I was in my kitchen cutting an apple, and I saw a thought go through my mind about being with my ex-boyfriend at a fruit stand. I saw the connection between the apple I was cutting and the fruit stand memory. And I saw in my mind this strong pull to think more thoughts in order to get angry at him, so I really saw the intention toward anger in my mind. It occurred to me, “I don’t have to get on that train. I don’t have to follow that thought.”
I stood there with the knife in my hand waiting to get angry, and I didn’t get angry. And that was the moment that I was hooked on the dharma because I saw its power. I think I actually sank to the floor with the knife in my hand. “Wow,” I thought, “This stuff is really amazing if it can allow me to see the thoughts in my mind that move me in the direction that makes me so distressed, and avoid that.”
Mindfulness is developed simply by paying attention. Each moment of mindfulness supports having more mindfulness in the future. A beautiful insight we can have about mindfulness is that we can hold anything with mindfulness. Any and all experiences can be noticed!
May you develop this wonderful and wise quality more and more.
- BODY The practice of Yoga and Pain Management 29-Aug-2013
- FOOD Cocoa-Avocado Mousse 31-Jul-2013
- BODY Asana Lab: Utthita Parsvakonasana or Extended Side Angle w/ Robyn 26-Jul-2013
- MINDFULNESS Eye opening experience GIVEAWAY 12-Jul-2013
- CULTURE Confessions of a Yoga Teacher in Training 27-Jun-2013
- MINDFULNESS Five Spiritual Faculties - #5 Wisdom 13-Jun-2013
THE YS MINDFULNESS BLOG