The Yoga of Travel

A Giant Rubber Duck Meditating on the Pond... Seoul, KoreaGiant Rubber Duck Meditating on the Lake… Seoul, Korea

The time has finally come. September marked the last month of The Alchemy of Flow and Form: Advanced Teacher Training at San Marcos School of Yoga with Gioconda Parker and Christina Sell.

I learned a lot at my 300 hour teacher training: who I am as a teacher, what my authentic voice sounds like, and how to teach more effectively from that place. However, there is certainly one thing it prepared me for that I was not expecting: All Of The Driving. The San Marcos School of Yoga is 30 minutes from my house in Austin, TX, without traffic, so I spent at least three hours every weekend of training commuting back and forth between home and school.

That’s right. One thing they don’t tell you in teacher training is that, if you’re lucky, you are going to spend a good chunk of your life, from now until forever, driving. And not just driving, but traveling in general; trains, planes, and automobiles. Whatever your form of transportation is, you will be doing it a lot.

When you first start teaching, it’s probably like five different studios, on opposite ends of town, with fifteen minutes between classes. But then, even when you’ve been teaching for a while, and you’re teaching five privates at five different houses and then classes and then workshops, and THEN, if you’re really lucky, you’re traveling to DIFFERENT cities, and different states and countries… You’re traveling a lot. That’s great! It means you’re working, and if your goal is to make a living, that’s pretty important.

But sitting in a car, or on a plane, or a train for hours on end seems kind of counter-intuitive to the life of a traveling yogini. Many people, upon hearing that yoga is “what I do,” assume that my life is all green smoothies, yoga pants, and meditation. Ok, I mean, it kind of is, but it’s also sometimes two hours of sitting in a car every day driving from class to meeting to studio to class… And let me tell you, nothing is less conducive to calm and relaxation than sitting on 1-35 thru downtown Austin during rush hour traffic.

So, I’ve compiled a list of “Things I’ve Learned” about life and yoga from repeatedly almost getting side swiped by oncoming traffic and shaking my fists in the air, angrily and repeatedly. And then, of course, a playlist to make your commute (or train ride, or plane ride) a little more enjoyable.

1. Patience.

Sometimes I’m sitting at a stop and go light for two…three…rounds before it’s my turn. It can be frustrating, but as long as I stay in the driver’s seat, and I don’t throw a fit, get out of my car and walk away, eventually it’s always my turn and I can go about my merry way.

It’s not easy, though, and sometimes it feels as though you’re wasting your life away waiting for the light to turn green. Stay in the driver’s seat. It’ll come. Patience.

2. Benefit of the doubt. 

I’ve never really understood that saying, so I looked it up… Here’s what over-blog.com had to say:

“Benefit of the doubt refers to an adoption of a positive opinion or judgement when there is some but not sufficient evidence to think otherwise.”

They go on to say that in legal terms, benefit of the doubt is referred to as reasonable doubt. The first documented use of the term reasonable doubt appears in 18th century English and American case law.

Simple, right? Adopt a positive attitude even when there is some evidence to the contrary. That guy cut you off when you were trying to get over to the other lane? It probably wasn’t intentional. Maybe he’s just having a bad day and he’s running late. I would like to not be judged solely based on when I am feeling crappy and make the wrong choice – you can choose to take a deep breath and let it go when someone else isn’t on their best behavior, either. Trust me; way less stress.

When in doubt, tip the scales towards the positive.

3. Just go for it.

Once you’ve made the choice to pull out in front of oncoming traffic real quick, or pick up speed to make it through a yellow light, you have got to go for it. Otherwise, what happens? If you second guess your choice to go, and slam on your brakes at the last second, then so do the five other cars in line behind you. Now, you’re the cause of a six-car pile up, and you’re going to get wherever you were going a lot…slower…

When I made the choice to start teaching yoga full time, I was definitely tempted to second guess myself and go back to my day job with my proverbial tail between my legs, begging for my job back. I wanted to slam on my breaks and take it back, but I didn’t. I chose to keep moving forward.

Make the choice to go for your dreams.

Here’s a playlist to cruise to on your next long commute:
Safe Travels,
Sean D.

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540217_698781320137845_1802831051_nEditor’s note: This is a guest post from DCOY contributor Sean Devenport. She recently completed her 300-hour RYT. Congratulations and thanks for sharing your teacher training experience over the last year! Connect with Sean on FacebookTwitter and Instagram

If you’re interested in learning how YOU can be part of Advanced Yoga Teacher Training: The Alchemy of Flow and Form at San Marcos School of Yoga (and online!), go here: https://www.livethelightofyoga.com/teacher-training.html.

8 Ways to Be Your Own Best Teacher

Own best guru...

No matter how we define a teacher or a guru—an expert, an enlightened person, or someone who challenges us in a way that makes us look at all of our own limiting beliefs—each of these ways of looking at the terms places the teacher or guru outside us. These kinds of teachers and gurus are powerful. But the most powerful source of wisdom is within. How do we activate our own inner teacher, our own inner guru, so that we always have someone to lean on and guide us?

The most powerful source of wisdom is within you. This is what I help every single person I work with realize—that they are infinitely powerful and the only thing getting in the way of that is surface stuff. We clear the surface and it’s like polishing a rough stone into a diamond. Suddenly, you’re crystal clear, knowing exactly where to go and what to do next.

The most important work I do with people is helping them access their own inner guru.

Here are 8 Ways to Hear Your Own Inner Guru

  1. Talk less, listen more. You can hear or see exactly where to go and what to do next if give yourself permission to trust the non-verbal part of your brain. We’re all intuitive, and one of the most scientifically-proven ways to tap into it is to listen to the part of you connected to the non-verbal part of your brain: your body.
  2. De-activate. Fear comes mostly in the form of worry-thoughts. And these come from the verbal part of our brain—this part of our brain processes way less information per second than the non-verbal part of our brain. In other words, worries are based on less information.
  3. Lean into peace. Wisdom and truth feels like relief, like a great letting go. It’s a wonderful sensation of “Ah, this is such a nice place to rest.” Every single time somebody I work with hears from their inner guru they feel a sense of great peace and presence.
  4. Trust yourself. Here’s something neat: you can practice this. You can practice trusting yourself by doing it on small things, something less consequential where the decision won’t have a huge impact, but a small one.Something like saying ‘no’ to an invitation to an event you don’t want to go to. Worry and fear says things like “She’ll be upset if I don’t go,” or “I won’t be invited anymore.” Peace says “Do what’s right for you, trust yourself, and all will be well.” Usually what happens in these cases is that everying works out wonderfully, and you end up getting even more invitations because people are drawn to your confidence and self-esteem.
  5. Trust the Universe. Practice opting out of doing something just because you think something like “What will happen if I don’t?” Yoga philosophy has a term called Ishvara Pranidhana that basically means “Surrender to the universe.” It doesn’t mean we never do anything, but we can surrender our attachment to achieving a particular outcome, and through that surrender and non-attachment receive something even greater.
  6. Build your intuition. Next time you want to hear from your inner guru and you’ve already listened to your body, listen for words or watch for symbols. I like to imagine a blank slate and ask a question like “What should I do next?” Sometimes I see a symbol—I once got a pumpkin. Other times I hear a word—things like “Rest,” “Play,” or “Go bigger.” Other times an entire scene unfolds.
  7. Trust your body. Intuition is fun and can give us more information, but first and foremost the first line of wisdom is your body. Your body is constantly guiding you, through sensations of tension and angst or ease and presence. Hint: ease and presence usually means “Go this way!”
  8. Lean into grace. Listening to the guidance of your inner guru leads to choices that create a life filled with less striving and more receiving. Taoists introduce us to the concept of Wu Wei, doing without doing. Through heart-centered action and trusting the universe, things happen with ease. Miracles occur. It was either Yogi Bhajan or Wayne Dyer, depending on which source you choose, who said: “I don’t believe in miracles, I depend on them.” It doesn’t matter who said it, it’s a universal truth, and one that you get to experience firsthand when you start listening deep and choosing to believe.

Much love, and good luck!

xL

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Editor’s note: We hope you enjoy another inspiring guest post from Lindsey Lewis–life coach and yoga teacher. Stay up to date with her latest at www.libreliving.comFacebook, and Twitter.  

Photo credit: Cam Lee Yoga

5 Simple Tips for Becoming a Master of Meditation

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Want to take on meditation?

Here’s 5 tips to help:

Sit.  Learning to sit can be a challenge. Do some light stretches before sitting down and then start off with just 5 minutes of sitting–see how it feels. Remember there are many different ways to sit. Find a seat comfortable for you, in a chair, on a block, sitting on the heals, sitting on a blanket or a pillow. Make sure that you are sitting in a place you’ll be happy to sit. For me there’s a room in my house where the morning light comes in magically. I like to sit in there.

2.  Watch your thoughts.  The mind is always going, in the beginning the goal is not to just turn off the mind (because that isn’t possible and you’ll drive yourself crazy just trying), but rather watch it. Don’t allow yourself to run off with the thoughts, always return to a very natural breath. It is only in watching the thoughts that you begin to realize that you are not these thoughts. You actually are the observer of the thoughts. Once you realize that you are not your mind, that is when the mind begins to settle, but this is a process so don’t beat yourself up if your meditation in the beginning is a crazy mind journey.

3. Let the mind entertain Some complain that meditation is just boring.  However, watching the crazy mind is quite entertaining! Then comes the shapes, sounds, different voices, mountains and endless deep blue lakes, light that shines right through the third eye and expands and contracts all around. In the stillness of sitting, one may find freedom from all thoughts, suspended in the galaxy of nothingness. For everyone, what happens in this space is different, but it’s definitely not boring!

4.  Make and take time to meditate.  Oh time you funny thing…how we are always trying to race you, yet you stay strong and we always seem to lose the race. We must make and take the time to meditate. If mediation could end the inner war going on inside you, would you make the time? If mediation could end your insomnia, anxiety or depression, would you make the time? If mediation could lead you to forgive, if mediation could remove that burden of weight you’ve been carrying all your life, could you find the time? If meditation could make you happy, truly happy would you find the time? Remember that time is an excuse made by the ego to keep you from facing the true you.

5. Just do it! Sounds cliche, but it takes 21 days to form a habit. That means that after doing it for 21 days, it will become part of your regular routine.  Just keep doing it and your well on your way to a happier, more conscience you.

Big hugs,
Lisa

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IMG_1792Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Lisa Sochocki from Haleiwa, Hawaii.  Her motto is, “Be the light, to light the world.” Lisa’s motto runs true to her actions and spirit, living the life of a yogini filled with love and abundance. With 15 years of yoga experience and eight years as a devoted Yoga Instructor, Lisa finally decided to make spreading yoga not only her passion, but her full-time job. Lisa’s studio,Yoga Loft Hawaii opened in April of 2012, where she spends her days diffusing yoga love into the central Oahu community.

Visit Lisa’s website at YogaLoftHawaii.com, read her Tumblr Blog, or connect with her via Facebook and Instagram.

5 Ways Yoga Can Help You Fall in Love with Your Body

child bodyWhen I first started doing yoga, I really didn’t like my body very much. I rarely had any positive thoughts about it. Mostly when I thought about my body I felt frustrated, or ashamed. These sound like big things to feel but in my experience talking and working with women these are some of the most common ways us women feel about our body. When we give ourselves the time and space to really listen to what we tell ourselves about our body, it’s surprising what we hear. It’s unusual for us to have thoughts like “I love my body,” “My body is amazing,” “I appreciate everything my body does for me.” Mostly we think things along the lines of “I wish my body were different,” “I don’t like this part or that part,” and “I’m too big.” What if there were a way to go from body-bashing to body-loving? What if you could go from wishing your body was different to seeing how amazing it is? It’s all in the approach. I’m not going to say that yoga is the be-all solution. But practiced with an awareness of how it can help you love your body, yoga can be a powerful force of positive transformation.

5 Ways Yoga Can Help You Fall in Love With Your Body

  1. We realize how we talk to ourselves about ourselves. When we do yoga, we have to be with our body and our thoughts about our body. There’s no distraction from the thoughts of self-judgement or rejection. We become keenly aware of what we say about our body. And that’s the first step to moving from believing those things to realizing they’re untrue. Takeaway:Start to notice what you tell yourself about your body.
  1. We must choose to stop feeding those thoughts. Body-bashing thoughts, like most thoughts that pull us down, can feel really attractive. There’s a part of us that leans into them, relishing the way we feel. To continue growing and learning in our yoga practice, we need to shift our focus to what how we’re growing and what we’re learning. And we learn how to be in a very body-focused environment without feeding those body-bashing thoughts. Takeaway: Focus on what you’re working on in your yoga practice, not the thoughts about your body.
  1. We learn to use our body in a different way. During our yoga practice, our body becomes a tool for physical strength and flexibility. It becomes a part of us that enables us to do a handstand, rise into tree pose, or arc into a backbend. It becomes a part of us that supports us as we learn something new, and then master it. Takeaway: Notice what you’re doing now, that you weren’t doing before.
  1. We start to appreciate what our body can do. Seeing our body in a whole new way helps us to appreciate what it can do. We’re less likely to take it for granted, especially since we can experience such a dramatic change in how we feel after practicing yoga. We start to appreciate what our body can do for us. Takeaway: Make a list of reasons why you appreciate your body.
  1. We learn to see our body in a different way. Rather than looking at our body only as something to be assessed, measured and compared to others’, we start to see it as a part of us that helps us gain inner and outer strength, access deep peace and contentment, and even begin to live from a place of love. Takeaway: See your body as a way to access an inner state that begins to impact your world and how you experience it.

Yoga is one of the things that helped me powerfully transform the way I feel about my body. It’s not often that I think negative thoughts about this incredible vessel I’m honoured to live in. From this place of gratitude, it’s rare for me to see my body as something to be assessed and compared to others’. I just look at it and think “Thank you.” And for that, I am eternally grateful. I hope these tips help you, too, xL

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Editor’s note: This was a guest post from the amazing Lindsey Lewis–life coach and yoga teacher. Stay up to date with her latest at www.libreliving.comFacebook, and Twitter.   Photo credit: TeenyTinyOm

Theming your yoga class, theming your life…

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Theming is an integral part of the class-planning process if you are a yoga teacher, whether it is done consciously or not. Some people prefer to prepare a short story or inspirational reading, others choose a word or anecdote to share. However, even if you’re not intentionally putting forth the effort to plan a theme for class, theming still occurs.

A conversation that came up during my training a few weeks ago had to do with the topic of theming. How necessary is a theme, even? What makes a good, or a bad, theme? Christina Sell dropped some wisdom on us that I found both comforting and challenging. Whether you choose a specific theme or not, a theme has already chosen you. The way that you speak, the words you choose to use, your sequence, your adjustments…are all part of who you are as a teacher. Compassion, grace, perseverance, and courage are all your themes, and if you teach as your most authentic self, every aspect of your class carries your theme.

One of the ways that I intentionally theme classes is with a playlist. I choose a word, or maybe a holiday, to base the playlist off of, and then spend hours swimming through music and choosing just the right combination and sequence. It’s one of my favorite parts of planning a class.

In the case of this coming Independence Day, I’ve created a playlist entitled ‘Freedom’. On it are songs that speak to Freedom from many different angles. They beg questions like “What is freedom to you?” and “What cost are you willing to pay for that freedom?” and more lightheartedly, “What would freedom look like if I were a Dragonfly?”

It’s not so important to me that the class even notices the theme of the playlist, but that the intention and energy that went in to making it is expressed.

I’d love to share my Freedom playlist with you, in honor of the 4th of July. Throw it on, and find freedom on your mat.

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Editor’s note: This is a guest post from DCOY contributor Sean Devenport. She is currently completing her 500-hour RYT.

540217_698781320137845_1802831051_nA quiet and curious observer by nature, Sean was drawn to human psychology as an undergraduate at Ripon College. Determined to learn just what it is that makes people “tick”, she travelled the globe studying some of the ways we, as humans, can be – spending a semester on the golden beaches of Australia, and another in the Blue Mountains of Jamaica, Sean returned home to discover the key ingredient  to understanding others was first to understand the Self. Since 2009, Sean has been a dedicated practitioner of yoga and life, dabbling in every style from Bikram to Kripalu. As a former dancer and dance enthusiast to this day, the fluidity and dance-like quality of Vinyasa was what really spoke to her soul. After studying under Gioconda Parker in 2011, Sean began teaching her own personal style of Hatha Flow, a melding of Vinyasa, the dedication to precision and alignment of Anusara, and Iyengar, and the core teachings of Hatha Yoga. Sean was highly influenced by William J Broad’s 2011 best seller The Science of Yoga, and strives to offer a safe and judgement-free environment for practitioners of every level to seek higher understanding of themSelves. Sean encourages students to pour the compassion and love that they cultivate for themselves on their mats, in to their every day interactions with others. Under the guidance of Gioconda and Christina Sell, Sean is currently pursuing her 500-hour teaching certification, The Alchemy of Flow and Form, at the San Marcos School of Yoga. Connect with Sean on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

Photo credit: Laura Sykora on Instagram

10 Things I Learned From Destination Yoga Teacher Training

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1. I am stronger than I know. I spent hours upon hours, day after day doing insane amounts of intense yoga. My body did not let me down. On the contrary, it surprised me almost daily by how much it was able and willing to do. There was a point in the week where my body seemed to tell my mind to “STFU. I got this. Quit telling me what I am incapable of. Enjoy the ride.”

2. We are all in this together. One of my favorite moments of the week was laying on the ground in savasana, singing “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” while holding hands with a drag performer from Seattle and an architect from Boulder. We had nothing in common; we have everything in common. It is amazing how many friends you find when you realize the only thing that matters is we are all human.

3. That story you tell yourself, the one where you are not good enough, not smart enough, not ready, not worthy? Stop. It is old. It is boring. And it is a lie. It is also holding you back. It is impossible to be where you are, to believe more is possible, to write another chapter when you are busy reading the previous one. So whatever your past is, leave it there. The mf-er is heavy. And you have things to do.

4. Forgive. Tell the truth. Do unto others. In other words, live the golden rule. With yourself and with others.

5. You are responsible for the energy that you bring into a space. So that bad mood, your sadness that you have not dealt with, the unresolved fight with your sister, the frustration from not following your dream, it is not just your business because you are hauling into every interaction in your day.

6. If you want something new, you can not create it from old stuff. Nor can you create anything at all, until you clean your sink. The best analogy of the week, the one that landed with me the most, was the sink full of dirty dishes. It is really hard to tackle when it is overflowing, yet totally doable when there is only one or two. This is life. Deal with the dirty dishes as they come. Do not let the sink get overloaded or it becomes overwhelming and you do nothing.

7. Friends absolutely change everything. In a good way. This applies to all kinds of friends—BFFs, just met you friends, boyfriends, friends that are boys, friends in your city, friends far away, friends you talk to daily, friends you wish you talked to daily. Because what they all have in common is a willingness to take a little bit of your load, your story and leave you with a more manageable amount.

8. Inspire somebody. Like air masks on an airplane, start with you. Then spread that inspiration to your kids, your friends, your spouse, the random guy in line behind you at Starbucks. Let your life be an example of what is possible.

9. Listen to the ultimate teacher. No matter who is leading class or discussion, the teacher is you. You know your body and heart most, you can be your own guru.

10. Practice yoga. Daily.

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Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Christina Russo, a new contributor to Daily Cup of Yoga. Find more of her work at LittleWindmillYoga.com.

Photo credit: Cam Lee on Facebook