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Mask of Light and Ho’oponopono

Lately my sister will call me on a video chat while she’s driving home in the evening, phone is in the hands free stand on her dash, and as the sun is setting the light that hits her face with the visor down, illuminates only her mouth, cheeks and nose, like a Mask of Light, replacing the disposable or cloth rendition that has been the norm for many lately. As soon as she calls me and sees herself on the screen she says, “Oh! I’m wearing my Mask of Light again”, and then sings, “Maaassk of LLiiiiiight”, right on cue and it’s a fun way to begin a conversation that can sometimes be a relaying of how strange life is now… 

As many folks in the states and worldwide are experiencing the stressors of the bewilderment, with the world seeming like it stopped; raging confusions under the surface, identity crisis’ and fears of the unknowns to say the least; many of us are finding (if we didn’t already know) that self-care is ultimately the key to bypassing the emotional rollercoasters. Eating well, inner journeys, outer journeys, healing circles, singing circles, expressive creativity in painting, dance, cooking; these are just some of the infinite ways to develop our modes of self-maintenance. Daily practices are key in tapping into the kindness and compassion that open the flood gates of creating peace in our lives. 

Back in the month of March it seemed as if many of us were holding our breaths for things to “get back to normal”. Now, many of us have realized that there is no normal to go back to: the unsettling remorse in conjunction with anticipation for what may come is keeping our nervous systems exhausted; and maintenance becomes vital. 

In February, I went to Maui, Hawaii, and participated in a course learning traditional Hawaiian massage, called Lomi Lomi. One of the most important take-aways from Hawaiian/Pacific Island healing practices that I have learned since being drawn to these indigenous traditions is Ho’oponopono. Ho’oponopono translates as “to make very right” in the Hawaiian language. If you are unfamiliar with this practice, it is a way of clearing resentments and bringing forth forgiveness, within yourself, your family, and your community at large. When we carry negativity within us it tends to leak out and seep into our surroundings, draining our own energy. To clear this and become neutral again, allows our light to shine and allows us to see the light in others as well. 

Traditionally used in a family or village setting, I once heard a story that a non-indigenous friend of mine told me from when he was in Fiji. He said, while living in a small village that one day, before going on a hunting excursion the entire village came together to clear any negativity held onto from the past, present, or future through a Ho’oponopono practice. After the ceremony was completed the fishers went out to hunt in their fishing boats. What might normally seem like a stroke of luck, a large shark appeared. The shark circled the boat for a moment and then surfaced belly up, literally surrendered itself to the boat. The fishers knew their ceremony was heard and their efforts appreciated, as they deeply understood and lived in the profound power of the Ho’oponopono practice. With gratitude, the offering was accepted and the fishers collected the shark that the entire village would share. 

Practicing Ho’oponopono would originally entail a village or families that could come together physically. Now with contemporary traveling conveniences many communities have individuals who have scattered throughout the world, making the physical connection more difficult. However, there has been consolidated adaptation of Ho’oponopono, which is saying these beautiful words:

“I Love You.

Please Forgive Me.

I’m Sorry.

Thank You.”

Written about in a book by Dr. Ihaleakala Hew Len and Joe Vitale, I personally use these four phrases with very tangible intentions and have clear and sometimes immediate confirmation. I imagine I am gazing into a particular person’s eyes, interjecting their name while I repeat the saying, holding the utmost respect for the peace and happiness that I believe every person deserves. Or, I imagine a place bright and clear of negativity. Or a situation, free of pain, full of ease. Saying these cleansing words transforms everything.

Ho’omana Spa on Maui is where I studied Hawaiian healing, and I encourage anyone interested in going deeper with Ho’oponopono, or learning Lomi Lomi massage to look into the courses they offer, as it has changed my life and created a viable income for me while also being able to share an ancient and transformative healing modality. 

While on Maui, my kumu (which means teacher in the Hawaiian language) shared with us a Ho’oponopono meditation technique. She began by telling us a story. She said when she was learning the Hawaiian healing traditions (that she is now a masterful teacher of) that she would go to her kumu’s house to practice and learn. Upon arrival, her kumu would ask her everyday: “Pehea ka la?”,  “how is your light?” Referring to the light that we have within. It was a constant, daily reminder to check in with herself and clear any negative energy that she may be carrying around.

We all have this light within us.

My kumu proceeded to teach us her Bowl of Light Meditation, which is an adaptation from the Bowl of Light story in the book, “Tales from the Night Rainbow”. With a straight back, sit quietly and become mindful. Close your eyes and enter your own body (you can imagine a drop of water dripping from above your head through your body into your pelvic floor) and with every breath, relax deeper and deeper, slow yourself down from the day and attune to your own frequency. 

She began; Imagine inside of you that there is a bowl. Whatever your bowl looks like is perfect, it is your own bowl. Now, look inside of your bowl. What do you see in your bowl? This Bowl is shining your light from within, and for the things that are potentially obscuring your light, imagine them as stones. These stones in your bowl represent the feelings you might be holding onto, those resentments, jealousies, negative self-talk, bad memories: each stone holding a story of its own. Pick up a stone. Study this piece of you. Look at each crevice and touch each crag. Know this stone, and when you feel complete with this stone, with this emotion, then you are ready. You may discard this stone- sending it off with loving appreciation for what it has taught you. You have opened yourself up to clearing, and the light from your bowl can beam through the new space you have made. This is your light! Lovingly remove the stones that have been weighing down your bowl, and let your light shine. 

You may close this meditation by sending timeless gratitude into the ether.

This and other daily practices open our hearts. When walking outside to encounter the day, and floating on that physical mask onto your face, remember to check in with your light. Let your light shine from within. This is what we have to share. While our mouth-smiles may be in hiding to the outside world, our inner smile can shine even brighter. Now is a time to put differences aside and shine brighter than ever, to elevate and feel enlivened; and of course, in sharing your light you will inevitably bring others along with you!

 

 

 

Abigail Tirabassi is a star-gazing artist, surfer, traveler, philosopher, drawn to elevating the human vibration through her own healing; St.Pete, FL/Pavones, CR. IG: @scrammby

Practice With Consistency

Patanjali tells us that practice becomes grounded when it is pursued consistently, with earnestness, over a long period of time. For many of us, we feel as if this is almost impossible. We may have a busy work and/or school schedule, or maybe kids, family and pets that demand attention. So how are we able to maintain our daily practice consistently despite our daily lives? Now this is where Sutra 1.12 comes in- abhyasa and vairagya. Effort and non-attachment.


In order to create or maintain a practice with consistency, we first must make sacrifices. We need to practice vairagya, non-attachment. Letting go of expectations. If you believe that your practice is only your practice if you have a full hour to move through a flow or have a lengthy warm up, cool down and 10 minute Savasana, this is one of the first sacrifices we need to make. This expectation needs to be released. Some days we may only have ten minutes of free time; so we step on our mat, do one round of Sun Salutations and we’re out the door. Or maybe we only have time after a long day at work when your energy seems to be spent, so it’s legs up the wall and supine twists before you’re off to bed.


If you have children or pets that want your attention, work them into your practice. Instead of disturbing your peace by shooing them away, let them be. Even try to include them if you can. For me, I know my home practice isn’t complete without a cat laying on me and joining my Savasana.


Or maybe distractions aren’t your problem, the only time you have free is after a long and grueling day at work. Is the first thing you want to do when you get home from a busy day to jump onto your mat, flow through vinyasas or power through standing poses and inversions? Well, maybe. But for most people, that’s not the reality. You’re drained, unmotivated and tired. You just want to lay down. So what do you do? Work this into your practice! Take any last drop of abhyasa (effort) you have left. Practice vairagya (non-attachment) by letting go of the belief that a practice only counts if you flow through vinyasas and inversions. Sit your legs up the wall, stretch out the day, then head to Savasana. Is this any less “yoga” than going to class and breaking a sweat or handstands? Nope, it’s not. Sorry to break it to you, but Yoga isn’t simply a workout routine. Yoga isn’t something that fits into a box or category and it sure isn’t something that is the same for everyone. “The restraint of the modifications of the mind-stuff is Yoga.” (Sutra 1.2)

Yoga is simply taking the time to tend to your body, release that which no longer serves you and slow (if not stop) your racing thoughts. So whether to you this means flowing through a well rounded routine or taking ten minutes at the end of the day to surrender, any cultivation of mindfulness and release of “the mind-stuff” is Yoga. Any practice is still a practice no matter how small, and consistency is still achievable even with only ten minutes to spare. Remember that.


In conclusion, the biggest key to consistency is practicing with non-attachment. Letting go of the expectation that you need a full hour or rounded flow to practice. Let go of the expectation that you need complete silence or solitude to practice, and begin working with what you have; whether it be pets, kids, or a busy schedule. Adjust your practice to your own needs, and treat yourself gently when your energy is spent elsewhere. Approach your mat with an open mind, adjust your practice to your own needs, and peace will soon follow.

 

 

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After her battle with anxiety and depression led her to seek alternatives, Maddy has been practicing yoga daily for three years. Now she is training to become a certified instructor and shares her journey through YouTube: Sacred Synchronicities and on Instagram: @sacredsynchronicities.

Life Post Yoga Retreat: Maintaining the Bliss Buzz

Traveling and spending time at a Yoga Retreat or Training Center is one of the most beneficial ways to deepen or re-ignite a yoga practice. Yoga retreats and immersive training centers are an oasis of physical, mental and spiritual bliss! We are fed high-quality, often organic, whole food meals, and we typically do not have to even worry about cleaning our plates after the daily feasts. A daily, often rigorous schedule of asana, pranayama and meditation rejuvenate our minds and bodies while the support of like-minded teachers and fellow yogis hold the space for our transformation and emotional release. We experience decreased responsibilities, limited social media and an absence of addictive substances during the days lived at our yoga sanctuary. We are taken care of and lovingly provided for and held. We often connect so deeply with our fellow yogis on retreat that we question how we ever lived without them in the first place.

Ahhhhh, yes, the blissful bubble of yoga immersion! The environment and community encourage our self-expression and exploration of deep, authentic conversation. We feel so connected, healthy, centered and serene which is the perfect internal environment for our highest selves to shine through.

So, what happens when we leave our yoga bubble and go back home?

We discover on our retreat how easy it can be to consistently practice and embody a yoga lifestyle in a controlled environment purposefully constructed to support yogic principles and transformation. The real world might suddenly feel harsher in contrast to the cozy yoga shalas, yurts and tents we had grown accustomed to. We won’t automatically have many hours a day carved out of our schedules to practice yoga and meditate. Social media, news and other distractions are abundant. And what? We must feed ourselves and clean up? This might feel like too much to handle.

The greatest challenge of leaving a yoga retreat is carrying our recently connected, healthy, centered and serene selves back into the habits, stresses and relationships of our daily lives. It might feel like our yoga saturated bodies and souls transformed in some way making reintegration into the regular world uncomfortable. It may take us time to relate in a new way to our external environment.

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When I return from trainings, retreats and other Yoga Trade travel opportunities, I often find it takes me a period of adjustment. There are obvious extremes I will adjust to like the climate change between the jungle of Costa Rica and my home in Germany, but more importantly, I give myself time to acclimate my inner climate to my regular life at home.

Here are a few tips I find helpful to help integrate, prolong the yoga-bliss-buzz, and stay grounded in the regular world after a yoga immersion:

1. Home Sanctuary

Create a small retreat at home. If you don’t already have a sacred practice space in your home, find a small room or corner that you can create a mini yoga sanctuary. Bring your yoga mat, any props, a pillow, candles and incense. You may even create a small altar with items that inspire you. The space doesn’t have to be big to feel like a little slice of bliss at home. This home sanctuary might even inspire you to consistently practice and dedicate more time to your self-care and well-being than before.

2. Nourish Your Physical Body

If the diet you followed on your retreat was very different than your regular diet, it might be a shock to your body to jump back into old diet regimes – especially if at the retreat, you avoided sugar, alcohol, caffeine, etc. You may even consider incorporating any new eating habits you learned that really worked for you. Take some time to fuel and nourish your body with what it needs and take it easy on cravings. Treats are good, but over indulgence after a week or longer on a retreat might leave you feeling less than optimal.

3. Set Goals

We often quickly embrace the schedule at a retreat as we experience the luxury of so much free-time and limited responsibilities. If your regular schedule doesn’t allow for 3 hours of asana and meditation every morning, set a realistic goal that will still get your body moving and soul connected. You might wake up 30 minutes early every day and go straight to your sacred practice space. Maybe you find a local studio with a lunch time or evening class that you can attend a few times a week. Find a self-care and yoga goal that works with your reality! A consistent physical and mental practice will help you stay grounded and connected to your highest self, long after the retreat buzz wears off.

4. Reconnect

Taking time out of our lives to focus on self-care and personal growth often requires a sacrifice in another area of our lives. If you disconnected on your retreat from loved ones to focus your energy on your relaxation and transformation, take time when you return to reconnect with them. Spend some quality time and share your retreat experience with your partner, family and friends. Ask them what they have been doing while you were gone. These honest conversations will help rebuild and strengthen any weakened connections during your time away.

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5. Be Gentle

Did you discover yourself feeling more gentle, compassionate, honest, open and free than ever before on your retreat? The yoga retreat bubble is the perfect place to truly practice and embody the teachings of yoga. Sometimes, the real world with all of the challenges, stressors and calamities that inevitably transpire makes acting like an enlightened yogi nearly impossible. If you find yourself losing your calm, go easy on yourself. Don’t beat yourself with unhelpful self-talk, “I was just on a yoga retreat! I should be better/kinder/calmer than this!” Be gentle and patient with yourself. The yoga bubble is a perfect place to practice the lessons and teachings in a controlled environment, and the real world is like the exam we get to finally apply what we learned. If you want to incorporate the teachings and be better at being you in the world, practice.

I hope these tips help you ease back into daily life post-retreat with more grace and patience while maintaining the yoga bliss and teachings. Namaste.

 

 

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Sarah is a Yoga Trade Travel Representative. She loves to explore herself and the world through the lenses of yoga and travel and constantly challenge herself to uncover truth and unity within and around her.

CONNECT:

http://www.la-yoga-vida.com/

Self-Care While Traveling: Erase Sitting Stiffness

A love of travel means you will frequently be on planes, trains and in cars for more time than the average person. As yogi travelers, when you arrive at your destination, being ready to hit your mat for your practice or teaching is of utmost importance. If you find your self walking stiffly off the airplane on arrival, perhaps its time you consider a new travel buddy.


As a lover of travel and a Teacher Trainer, I too spend a lot of time in transit. Instead of considering your travel time passive or as an opportunity to catch up on work, I recommend you use this time for myofascial release work. I do not typically spend a lot of time sitting during my work week – I have a standing workstation at home and am on my feet as I teach my classes, so unlike the average person, sitting is not my most frequently occupied position. After being cramped and stumbling out of my seat enough times, I knew something needed to change.


Myofascial release and tools are nothing new – I’m sure we all have a foam roller gathering dust at home, but as travelers we need a portable tool. I am a huge fan of Roll Model Therapy Balls: grippy, pliable rubber therapy balls that range in size from a tennis ball up to softball size. These tools are always in my carry-on, no matter how short or long the trip is. In fact, some of my best hamstring massage is done seated on an airplane!


I don’t normally roll my hamstrings or glutes daily, choosing instead to spend the time on my shoulders and spine, so the opportunity to fluff up my posterior chain is something I now look forward to when I travel. Fluff it up? Yep, you read it correctly! When you use a soft and grippy tool for self-massage, the tool helps to stretch and improves the sliding surfaces of your tissues over one another, simultaneously increasing the amount of hydration between layers. This doesn’t happen with a tool that just creates compression, however. You knead a tool that has grip, grab AND compression, which is why I love my Roll Model balls.


Even through your clothing, whether it is jeans or spandex, the grip of the balls is able to create the needed shear for ultimate muscle and fascia rehydration. My favorite moves while in transit? The Hamstring Helper and Neck Release!

Hamstring Helper:

Hamstring-Helper

Place a Roll Model Ball under your thigh, in the belly of the hamstrings. Move your leg around slowly, playing with swinging your foot from side to side, bending and straightening the knee, and adding additional pressure with your opposite leg. I prefer the ALPHA ball for this, as its softball size is able to create enough pressure even if the car or plane seat is super soft.

 

Neck Release:

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The headrests often push your head forward of your shoulders, which can create tension at the front of the neck. To help alleviate tension in the anterior neck and chest, use any size of therapy ball to twirl your skin. This will create the shear needed for rehydration without deep pressure. To do it, pin a therapy ball in place anywhere on the front of your neck. Spin it in one direction, maintaining the pressure into the skin to help twirl your skin and underlying fascias around the ball. Then, mobilize your neck by moving your head away from the ball and/or up towards the ceiling. You can maximize the pin, spin and mobilize effect by bringing your chin towards the ball before you spin so that the ball is able to capture as much tissue as possible. (Deep pressure at the front of the neck is not advised, but pin, spin and mobilize with your hand is totally fair game!)

 

Try these two techniques to practice self-care while traveling. Enjoy the new bounce in your step as you travel onto your next adventure!

 

 

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Alexandra Ellis is an Integrated Yoga Tune Up® Trainer, RYPT-500 & founder of AE Wellness. Her teaching & studies focus on injury prevention, rehabilitation & wellness, inspired by her studies at UC Davis where she earned a BS in Exercise Biology.

Breaking Up

Breakups are heart wrenching. We’ve all been through them. Your whole world is turned upside down. Hopes, dream,s and expectations dissolve like dust. You wander aimlessly through your life, struggling to put one foot in front of the other.

Simply acknowledging we weren’t happy was the first step. Initially I felt relieved; like a burden had been lifted. I smiled to myself in my Yoga practice that next morning. So many things began to make sense! Life 2011-11-12-21.03.45made sense. It’s difficult to explain really. It was like okay, this is meant to happen. During the next few days, I had a whole slew of emotions coming up. I felt fear, frustration, relief, anger, disappointment, defeat, and a deep sense of sadness. I was fragile and vulnerable. I felt completely out of control emotionally. I’d like to think that I am a pretty mindful person. During this time I did not feel like myself. I would drive somewhere or be somewhere and completely forget how I got there or what I was doing. It was strange. I was so absorbed. I tried to busy myself with work or projects. I was careful, however to make time for myself. I practiced a lot of Yoga, although sometimes that meant lying down and crying on my mat. I tried to eat right and get plenty of sleep. I surrounded myself with friends and people who offered support. Each day I made an effort to do something small for myself that made me happy. I would treat myself to something nice, call a friend, or think of a happy future. I felt like a child having to relearn simple tasks. In a way, I felt more present. Taking things one day at a time. Never anticipating what the next day would be like. I felt feelings I had not felt in a very long time. When you attach yourself to these feelings and expectations you suffer. It is so much more painful when your plan disappears before your eyes.

When I was younger, I loved being single and independent. Now I was afraid to be alone. So many thoughts were spiraling through my head. What will happen when? What will the future be like? Slow down brain.2013-04-25-22.34.14 Breathe. Allow yourself to feel what you’re feeling right now. Everything is in a constant state of flux. Everything is really only temporary. I felt so many different emotions I couldn’t even remember how I’d felt before the breakup. It was very hard.

When you love someone so much you want him or her to be happy. I always think of the Police lyrics, “when you love someone set them free.” Whether or not you have a role in their life afterwards, is a different story. It physically hurt me to see him in pain. My stomach was in knots, even though I had caused some of that pain myself. This made me feel overly sensitive and very fragile again. I found myself getting choked up over the beauty in my life. I was moved by people’s words, thoughts, and actions. I cried at the littlest of things.

Each day slowly began to get easier in some way. When I had a real bad day, the next would be a little better. I tried to be very gentle with myself. As painful as breakups are, they teach you things. They challenge you, they beat you down and they give you strength all at the same time. The next time someone close to you is going through a breakup, reach out to them and tell them they are not alone. You can never say this too much! It is so helpful when you are feeling helpless. I am so grateful for the family, friends, and coworkers that said this to me. I honestly never got tired of hearing it. Those words are like a light you are following through a tunnel. You will get there eventually but it takes time. It may even take lots of light and many tunnels. This cool song by FC Kahuna called Hayling keeps playing on a few different Pandora stations lately. The lyrics say, “don’t think about all those things you fear, just be glad to be here.” This is so simple yet very profound.

 

Melanie is Vinyasa yoga instructor, and holistic health counselor based in Oakland, CA. She has a deep love for Yoga, and believes wholeheartedly that taking care of one’s body is essential to living a happy life.  http://www.melaniekaufman.com/

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