#LetLoveShine ~ A Month of Healing, Heart-Focused Yoga

Let’s stay united, even though we are separated in quarantines. Here is our love & healing centered list of classes to do together for April 2020. As you set your intention/sankalpa at the beginning of each class, imagine sending HEALING & LOVE to yourself, to each other, to your family & friends, to all of the front line workers and to everyone everywhere in the world as if your love is shining out healing to all and leaving only space for more love, health and goodness.   #LetLoveShine #CodyFamily

Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu (Special version for healing from our current COVID-19 local and world situation) ~ May all beings be happy, free, HEALTHY and WELL; and may our thoughts, words and actions contribute to that happiness, HEALTH, WELLNESS and freedom for all.

APRIL 1, 2020 – OFFICIAL START
1 – Wednesday – Discover Love – Aubry Marie (27 min.)
2 – Thursday – Heart Opening Vinyasa Flow – Phyllicia (19 min.)
3 – Friday –  Practice Love – Bri (38 min.)
4 – Saturday – Hips Like Taffy (release emotions) – Meghan (54 min.)
5 – Sunday – Sun Salutations (raise your vibration)- MC Yogi (16 min.)
6 – Monday  – Air Out Your Heart Restorative – Meghan (26 min.)
7 – Tuesday – Slow and Controlled (finding peace in the moment) – MacKenzie (45 min.)
8 – Wednesday – Nightly Stretch – Koya (17 min.)
9 – Thursday – Inner Stillness Meditation – Jonah (14 min.)
10 – Friday – Sweeten Your Heart – Meghan (49 min.)
11 – Saturday – Ahimsa: Love & Compassion – Naya (43 min.)
12 – Sunday – Get Loved Up: Flexibility – Koya  (47 min.)
13 – Monday – Discover Love Meditation – Aubry Marie (11 min.)
14 – Tuesday – Heart Source – Eleanora (50 min.)
15 – Wednesday – Twisting Backbend Flow–  Patrick & Carling (34 min.)
16 – Thursday – Unwind – MC Yogi (29 min.)
17 – Friday – Heart to Heart Restart– Andrew  (46 min.)
18 – Saturday – Practice Happiness – Bri (35 min.)
19 – Sunday – Open Your Heart – Meghan (45 min.)
20 – Monday – Melt: Yin Yoga – Jonah (53 min.)
21 – Tuesday – Ecstatic Backbends– Eoin (47 min.)
22 – Wednesday – Good Evening – Jared (21 min.)
23 – Thursday – Connect to Power Meditation – Aubry Marie (9 min.)
24 – Friday – Peace – MacKenzie (39 min.)
25 – Saturday – Heart Class Beg/Int OR Heart 2 Adv. – Talia (1 hr. 5 min.)
26 – Sunday – Clear Your Heart – Patrick (56 min.)
27 – Monday – Front Body Bliss Restorative – Carling (48 min.)
28 – Tuesday – Heart of Generosity Meditation – Jackie (10 min.)
29 – Wednesday – Guided Deep Healing Relaxation – Sri Dharma Mittra (30 min.)
30 – Thursday –  All is Love – Talia (62 min) &  to seal the month long practice, Braid of 3 Truths Meditation – Ana Forest (12 min.)

 

Beautiful Yoga Dharma Lesson

Jay Shetty, marketing entrepreneur, created a beautiful re-telling of one of my FAVORITE poems “The Cookie Thief.”  Although it might not SEEM like yoga, this is what YOGA-UNION is about – letting go of ego judging to create oneness.  You probably know, yoga comes from an ancient root word meaning “yoke together” or in other words, unite. Our goal is to use our thoughts, words and actions to unite every part of ourselves, others and all of existence. And, in those times we find that union, there is JOY.

Here is the poem:

The Cookie Thief

by Valerie Cox

A woman was waiting at an airport one night, with several long hours before her flight. She hunted for a book in the airport shops, bought a bag of cookies and found a place to drop.

She was engrossed in her book but happened to see, that the man sitting beside her, as bold as could be. . .grabbed a cookie or two from the bag in between, which she tried to ignore to avoid a scene.

So she munched the cookies and watched the clock, as the gutsy cookie thief diminished her stock. She was getting more irritated as the minutes ticked by, thinking, “If I wasn’t so nice, I would blacken his eye.”

With each cookie she took, he took one too, when only one was left, she wondered what he would do. With a smile on his face, and a nervous laugh, he took the last cookie and broke it in half.

He offered her half, as he ate the other, she snatched it from him and thought… oooh, brother. This guy has some nerve and he’s also rude, why he didn’t even show any gratitude!

She had never known when she had been so galled, and sighed with relief when her flight was called. She gathered her belongings and headed to the gate, refusing to look back at the thieving ingrate.

She boarded the plane, and sank in her seat, then she sought her book, which was almost complete. As she reached in her baggage, she gasped with surprise, there was her bag of cookies, in front of her eyes.

If mine are here, she moaned in despair, the others were his, and he tried to share. Too late to apologize, she realized with grief, that she was the rude one, the ingrate, the thief.

Please let me know what you think about the poem and video story. Have you ever had something like this happen?

#FavoriteFlows for August

Hey Friends,

Here is a list of our #FavoriteFlows schedule with clickable links. So happy we are all in this together!!

Love and Hugs,
The Imperfect Yogi

 

PRE-LAUNCH
30 – Mon – Autopilot Off! – Dylan 1.5 hours
31 – Tues – Sequence Handstand Practice Flow – Bri 40 min.

AUGUST – OFFICIAL START
1 – Wed – Rhythm of Life – Patrick 1 hour
2 – Thurs – Bri surprise
3 – #FlyFriday – Handstand Dynamite – Carson 40 min.
4 – Sat – VACATION
5 – Sun – VACATION
6 – Mon – VACATION
7 – Tues – VACATION
8 – Wed – VACATION
9 – Thurs – VACATION
10 – #FlyFriday – VACATION
11 – Sat – VACATION
12 – Sun – Inversion Strength Flow – Mac & Bri  20 min.
13 – Mon – Quick, Fun 20 min. Arm Balance Flow
14 – Tues – Open Heart, Open Hips -Eoin 1.5 hours
15 – Wed – Next Level Inversion Flow –  Patrick
16 – Thurs – Bri surprise
17 – #FlyFriday – Crow Transitions – Bri    &/OR   Sweat and Flow Remix – Calvin 45 min.
18 – Sat – SURPRISE Advanced Fly Flow 1.5 hours
19 – Sun – Powerful Arms and Legs – Ashley 1 hour
20 – Mon – Budokon Int – Cameron 40 min.
21 – Tues – Enflightened – Twisting Flow – Patrick  31 min.
22 – Wed – Bri surprise
23 – Thurs – Budokon Adv. – Cameron 30 min.
24 – #FlyFriday – Flying Vinyasa – Dylan 1 hour
25 – Sat – Strong and Fluid Vinyasa – Patrick 1.5 hours
26 – Sun – Martial Arts Inspired Yoga Flow on Youtube  1.5 hours
27 – Mon – Bri surprise
28 – Tues – Organic Free Flow – MacKenzie
29 – Wed – SURPRISE Advanced Arm Balance Flow 40 min.
30 – Thurs – Bri surprise &/OR Explore Your Edge – Calvin 53 min.
31 – #FlyFriday – Energizing Vinyasa – Patrick 1 hour

Yoga Poses to Alleviate Low Back Pain from Lordosis or Swayback

Numerous adults suffer from low back pain and related bad posture. Yoga exercises can alleviate back pain in many situations. One of the conditions that can be improved by yoga practice is Lordosis, or “swayback,” which is the excessive curvature of the spine. It typically occurs in the low back (lumbar area of the spine) and can be caused by tight hip muscles, weak abs and hamstrings, and bad posture habits. Lordosis causes the pelvis to tilt forward, the abs to stick out, and the lower vertebrae to compress. This can lead to pain.

Yoga poses that relax, stretch, and lengthen the hip flexors and/or strengthen and tighten the hamstrings and abs can help realign the pelvis and spine, thus improving posture and alleviating pain. Helpful exercises include:

  1. Anjanayasana (Low Lunge) – Stretches and lengthens the psoas and other hip muscles, making it easier to take a normal posture.
  2. Bujangasana (Cobra)– Stretches the hip flexors making it easier to stand tall.
  3. Dolphin Plank Pose – Strengthens the abs. Be sure to take extra time to stretch the hip flexors after this one as it engages those muscles too.

Hold each pose for 1 – 5 minutes, breath deeply, and imagine the air swirling into the area you want to stretch or strengthen. Do this daily and over time you will notice these yoga poses relieving low back pain and improving posture.

One Month Anniversary of Doing Yoga Tummo Breath and Cold Baths

So today was the 30 day mark practicing Wim Hof’s Yoga Tummo Breath and Cold Water Baths. HURRAY!!! I realized it when I was getting in the cold water tonight. My goal was to stick it out at least 30 days, but I do intend to keep experimenting with the practice.

Surprisingly, it is not particularly easier, but at least I have been sticking it out.

Today I went under the water kind of slowly and could not stop shaking. The shaking does not happen every time. I think it happens mainly on days I am very tired. After I got out of the water my back felt like it was on fire. Now I still feel a bit strange.

Anyway,  I made it to the 30 day mark. That was my goal.

Still Practising Yoga Tummo Breath and Ice Baths – Progress is Spectacularly Imperfect

It is getting close to the one month mark of my training with and practice of the Wim Hof yoga/energy/breathing techniques and I am still doing a quite imperfect job of mastering them. So far every day I have done 30 minutes of the yoga breathing, and have immersed my body in cold water.

Today, the cold bath was one of the somewhat slower days. I was feeling tired and a bit under the weather. It seems harder to do the bath those days. The important part is not just powering through, but controlling the breath and body reactions as you move into the cold water. Even at the one month mark my body still has an impulse to want to gasp for air as I hit the water. This tendency increases on days I feel tired. However, the goal is to overcome this, making an automatic, unconscious body function conscious and controllable.

As always, once I get out of the water I feel AMAZING!!! My body is energized. My skin feels like ice, just like a vampire out of the Twilight series. Inside, I feel warm.

The breathing is a struggle still. I do many other yoga breathing (pranayama) practices that are quite comfortable for me. This one might take some time. It is related to the secret Tibetan yoga Tummo breath, but is not the complete process. We were told that with practice the rest will be revealed to us. I know this principle is true and have had it happen in other areas. This one though, is one of my very imperfect areas. The one good thing is, like the slow, ploddy turtle, I doggedly (or down doggedly) stick with the practice every day – imperfect or not.

Training with Wim Hof – How to Become an IceMan – or Woman

This weekend I am training with Wim Hof, the IceMan. Wim Hof’s instruction is meant to help you strengthen your immune system, will power, and ability to connect with spiritual secrets. He has studied the yoga sutras, met the Dali Lama (if I am remembering correctly), and holds numerous world records for submersion in ice water, marathon running in the desert with no shoes or water, and all types of amazing things.

Wim has taken the yoga, physiological, and spiritual secrets he has learned, and made them accessible for the average (imperfect) person. Although there are many benefits from his techniques, his number one goal, per my understanding, is to spread the physical healing benefits to every day people, particularly those who are not able to get medical treatment. He is passionate in his quest to help people overcome the injustices going on in the pharmaceutical and medical industries.

Wim is an approachable, humble, down-to-earth guy. He makes people feel comfortable and accepted. Not only is Wim a great guy, but every other person there in the small group was amazing! Many attendees were healers and all were very spiritual. We even had a genuine Tibetan Monk there! The moment I saw him I knew he was a Monk. Later, when I talked to him I found he grew up in a monastery in Tibet but was no longer an official Monk. Nevertheless, he still carried a positive energy with him that you could feel immediately.

But back to the training – we started with a brief introduction. I was not there on the first day – Friday – so I missed a bit. After an update on Wim and the techniques, one of the hosts played the Didgeridoo while we did toning. Toning is a way of raising vibrations through sound, and using the human voice instrument in particular. We just followed our intuition and started in as soon as we felt comfortable. The sound was beautiful and reminded me of times I have been on pow-wow weekends that were also as harmonious. On the other spectrum, I have been at events where we never seemed to raise the harmony and vibrations.

After maybe 30 – 60 minutes of toning we started in with Wim’s special breathing technique.  I was sitting front row, center and watching Wim like an admiring hawk. Whenever he took a breath I took one. Whenever he held a breath I did too. I figured if I tried to mimic him exactly I would have the best chance of getting this breath down properly so I could do it on my own. I think we did the breathing for about an hour.

Next we did playful yoga on the grass. It was so fun and exactly the opposite of the part of the US where I live. Basically, Wim would demonstrate a fun, cool, and/or kooky yoga pose and then ask us to try it too. He would also ask, “Who else has one? Who else has one?” At one point I think we even walked around on all fours like a bear. It was a quite awesome practice and I am using the “fun, playful” theme in all of my yoga classes this week.

After yoga we had a break for lunch, rest, and to change for….YIKES!!!!… ICE WATER SUBMERSION!!!!!!!!!!!! I didn’t sign up for this!!!

Oh, wait. Yes, I did.

When I initially made arrangements to attend I did not know about the ice water part. Sure Wim does that, but advanced yogis do all kinds of things. It does not mean I have to do it at a training. I thought we would be learning easy secret techniques like advanced yogic breathing, metamorphosis, and levitation. Once I found out about the water part I had a private scream inside and then decided to give it my best.

The others had already tried a practice water immersion on Friday. They went into the ocean and did Wim’s breathing technique. Today’s event was taking place in a tub filled with ice and water. I felt particularly alarmed because I could not understand what we were supposed to be doing and what the “trick” was to make the water warm. Each time I would ask someone what we were supposed to do they would tell me something totally different. Most confusing to me was that apparently we were NOT supposed to use the breathing. The whole time we were practising the breathing I thought that is what it was for. Also, so many people had told me they used the breathing when they were in the ocean the day before. Super confusing!! Well, I kept moving to the back of the ice water line, stalling the moment of ice entry, watching each person before me with rapt attention. It sounds like a trivial thing, but I was scared to go in the ice water. You can read about my first “jump” into the ice water and find out about the secret “trick” to ice water submersion in this entry (link will be added momentarily).

Afterwards, we all talked for a while. I think no one wanted to leave the good feeling. Also, we were all hanging on to every last word from Wim – trying to soak in the wisdom. Finally, we went home with plans to return the next day for… PART TWO – UNDER THE ICE WATER FOR A SECOND TIME – The training with Wim Hof, the IceMan, continues…

JR Martinez – An Example of Tapas and Santosha

Tonight as I was watching “Dancing with the Stars” I was touched to hear JR Martinez tell about the tragedy that mutilated his body, and the courage he found to be positive despite the losses. He fought against the odds to make the best of a horrific situation, even going on to become a successful actor on “All My Children” TV show, and an inspiring example.

While serving in Iraq he was injured in an explosion. The next thing he remembers is waking in the hospital and eventually seeing his face was totally disfigured. Like any of us might, he felt his life was over and he would be better off dead. He felt no one could understand what he was going through.

One day his mother said something that changed his life. “Whoever is going to be in your life now will be there because of who you are as a person, and not what you look like.”  Those words deeply impacted him to make a conscious choice to fight back (Tapas, or standing in the heat/struggle in yoga terms) and to try to be positive (practising contentment even in challenges/Santosha).

JR said, “…I just chose in that moment to fight and just to try to be upbeat – try to be positive every single moment from that day on.”

What an amazing example! Not only has he made his life so much better than it would have been given the circumstances, but he also achieved acting fame and has immeasurably touched the lives of millions who watch him and will try to be a bit better, a bit stronger, based on the path he is setting. This is yoga off the mat.

JR is truly beautiful.

 

EXERCISE:

Today pick a situation where you usually feel frustrated or upset in some way. It might be something big or small. For some, it might even be on the mat in your yoga practise. Whatever the situation, make a conscious choice to be positive – to practise Santosha (Contentment). 

We are all imperfect, so if it is particularly challenging try setting a time limit of one hour. If you find yourself slipping, think of JR or some other person who inspires you. Afterwards, write about your experience in a journal. How did you feel in the situation practising Santosha versus how you feel when you are not?

We can’t control what happens on the outside. But we can control what we think about it. We can choose to practise Santosha.

“Contentment (AKA Santosha) is a pearl of great price, and whoever procures it at the expense of ten thousand desires makes a wise and a happy purchase.”
John Balguy

Santosha – the Yoga Principle of Contentment

This week in my yoga classes I am focusing on the principle of Santosha or contentment. Santosha is one of the basic guidelines of yoga given to us in Patanjali’s Sutras.

 Yoga Sutra 2:42 – Santosha anuttamah sukha labhah.
“From an attitude of contentment,
unexcelled happiness and joy are obtained.”
 

Our goal is to find an inner contentment no matter what the outer circumstances. Outer things come and go. If we rely on them 100% we are in for a higher level of heartbreak. If instead, we learn and cultivate a quiet attitude of contentment we find peace even during struggle.

This does not mean deny or ignore feelings. Quite the contrary. Feelings deserve to be honored and addressed. If ignored they will come up in other ways. Allow any feelings to be accepted. If needed, work to change things. But focus on finding happiness in the journey. Even in the most tragic situations we can find some small piece (peace) of Santosha. Maybe that only comes from feeling the love of others, or having faith that there is a wise God (or higher power) who sees the bigger picture and is there to help us, or knowing this thing will pass. No matter the situation, we must search to find the aspects that give us contentment.

With a mindful choice and lots of practise, we can make Santosha a habit.

 

EXERCISE:

During one of your yoga practises this week make Santosha your focus. Notice how you feel as you go through the poses. Pay particular attention to the challenging ones.

Consciously decide to find some level of Santosha in every pose – even the ones you don’t like. Breathe through the feelings that arise. Send yourself love. If you need a chlid’s pose or modification by all means do that. But whatever you choose, can you bring in contentment? You might want to write down your experience in a journal.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The good news is, the more we notice and practise these things, the more we can choose how we feel and act. If we learn to find Santosha in the challenging yoga poses, we can learn to find santosha in the challenging life situations.

If you would like to share your experience with the above exercise, with Santosha, or anything else related please add your comments below.

Still Grateful I Did Not Catch on Fire, but Unfortunately Not Quite as Passionately

Last entry I was telling about leaving food cooking in the stove unattended for 2 hours and 45 minutes while I went to a yoga class. I was panic stricken when I realized what I had done and thought for sure things were up in flames. Here is the rest of what happened:

 

Finally arriving home I race up the stairs looking for the familiar flames, fire engines, smoke and smoke smell, still praying with all of my faith. And SURE ENOUGH…

AAAAaahhhhhh!! My prayers were answered (and I really do believe that was what did it). Inside the oven the broccolis and carrots were black fossils. The pastas were cobalt pebbles. But NO FIRE.

What a LOVELY and most auspicious way to start the weekend, NOT catching an apartment on fire.  It felt like not catching me and all of my life on fire. Maybe some of you too today have NOT caught your homes or selves on fire. HURRAY FOR ALL OF US!!! If we could be that grateful every day for all of the mini miracles we rarely notice, just think how fantastically happy we would be all of the time. I wish I could stay in that state of utter elation about not being on fire right now. It is a great thing, but easily taken for granted.

Today may we notice the little gifts in our lives (like NOT being on fire right now, etc.) and may our gratitude shine like bright, non-flammable flashlights.

 

Yoga Sutras 2:33 Vitarka Badhane Pratipaksha Bhavanam.
“When disturbed by negative thoughts, opposite [positive] ones should be thought of.” 

EXERCISE:

Today if a negative thought or mood comes up, replace it by coming up with the most unusual, craziest, opposite, POSITIVE gratitude thought. Maybe think how wonderful it is that you did not catch on fire today. If you had, you would be feeling a lot differently than you do now. Feel the joy of sending gratitude for something important, but often overlooked. If you have something, kooky but sincere, that you are grateful for list it below.