Freedom Yoga as a Lifestyle. Tips from Erich Schiffman!

If you have taken a class with me in the past few years, you know that I have been deeply inspired by the teachings of Erich Schiffman and Freedom Style Yoga.  His influence has really allowed me to expand my awareness of what a yoga practice should be, look, and feel.  I was SO fortunate to be with him last weekend at the Freedom Yoga Retreat in Yogaville, and to share the experience with Saylor and lil ommies Ada & Paige.
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The best part of practicing freedom yoga is when Erich turns on some of his favorite music and just lets the whole room do a free form session.  No prescribed flow, no adjustments, just movement. The energy, the art, the creativity that you feel is really amazing and palpable.  Encouraging Saylor to see and feel this practice was very special to me as we were able to intuitively connect over partner poses and the music, which is something we needed after a tough week.
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Being with Erich reminded me of some foundational principles to really integrating yoga into your life.  In October 2013 I shared some of my experience from Big Mind Live with Erich at Yogaville in 2013.  Now, I’m excited to share with you some of the BIG takeaways from our recent time together.  I hope you can think about these, let it marinate, and share with me what you think about freedom, yoga, and life.

Of course, once I was paying attention and thinking about freedom I started seeing it everywhere!
Like this powerful blog post from Liz Gilbert.
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Erich’s teachings for yoga and life:
  • Yoga is the inquiry into truth.
  • Yoga is conscious union with the infinite that is being expressed by you.
  • Remember to do a “Pause Practice” regularly, as often as you can remember. This is where you pause, exhale and relax.  Do this whenever you remember to do it, and as often as you can.  I’ll be offering a Pause Practice @ IMCW November 18th!
  • Go into listen mode more often. Be attentive and aware and universal.  Wisdom will have a place to come in.
  • Love is the willingness to recognize that which is real.
  • Regularly as yourself, “What is the Truth here really?”
  • Allow yourself to “silent mind it” and be willing to not know all the answers all the time.
  • Relax More. Love more. Trust more (and be brave in the trusting). This is not easy.  It’s simple, but not easy.
  • In your yoga practice- look for moments to linger, flow on, pause, slow down, and change it up. Channel your poses through the energy in your body.  Think about what you are energizing, what thoughts you energize, and what you give your attention to.
  • Find some patterns in the body that you like to practice.
  • When you start a free form yoga practice, start with the postures you know and look for options and choices in the poses, and get into it a little more with the breath to help guide you. It’s important to learn from a school of yoga, get the basic form and alignment, to have some discipline around the learning of the system BUT eventually the discipline dissolves and intuitive practice guides.  Do enough movements so that it feels GOOD!  It’s nice to do both formal practice and free form practice.
For more teachings from Erich, sign up to listen to his recordings and teachings here.  
Below are 2 videos- one about yoga, and one about meditation.

Final Thoughts
I encourage my students to try “Bed Med”.  Slide out of bed in the morning or into bed at night and just PAUSE a few breaths, sit and meditate here for as long as feels good- before you doze off or before you start your day.   Think of yoga and meditation as lifestyle. Remembering to relax and listen for Universal Wisdom is part of this lifestyle.  The yoga postures are awareness training, just a physical way for us to be aware of the subtle and to practice listening to our bodies.

Many of you know that behind the scenes I am a crazy voracious reader. I always have at least 3-4 books on my shelf, in my purse, my car, my life! I read something every day and I mostly love non fiction books around wellness, wisdom and wealth.  These are the categories I define as well being, self help, growth, transformation; all great stories of change and love and truth (i.e. freedom).

For the past 6 months or so I have been dreaming of a way to share my love for the teachings and thoughts in these books to a greater audience, and ta-da! The Omm @ Home Virtual Book Club for Inspired Women was born.  Each book has been carefully selected to help cultivate our awareness and understanding of the universal truths and wisdom practices.  Sign up here to learn more and to get the reading list, starting with October’s book  Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less.  Our first online meeting will be on Wednesday, October 26th @ 7:30pm.  We meet on the last Wednesday of each month!  If you can’t make it live, a recording will be sent to you!

Take a moment to pause, relax, and listen before the holiday rush.  Join me at IMCW on Friday, November 18th from 9:30am-2:30pm for the Pause half-day yoga & meditation retreat.

Getting Started with Your Practice: Resources and Support

This has been on my mind so much lately…

It’s not the to-do list with checked boxes, the app with the timers and bells and whistles, or the endless meal planning that will change your life.Think about it… what does it mean to “be on top of it all?”  ALL the time spent worried about what “others will think” WHO are those specific others?  Can you see them? Are they people that you care about, that mean a lot to you?  If not, why are “they” taking up so much of your mind space? your energy? your life?

My dear friends, freedom occurs when you cultivate a real, authentic, meaningful, dynamic relationship to YOUR  life. The relationship in which you trust and love and treat with compassion, the realities of your responsibilities. Freedom occurs when you CHOOSE joy over endless to-do’s and you wake up to the value of a spacious, expansive, creative day. Freedom occurs when we trust ourselves and listen to our hearts, not JUST the mind.

“PLEASANCE!!!”  you say, “how on Earth can I do that? I have a job, and kids, and bills, and endless tasks on my lists.

And then I will come close, hold your hand and whisper… practice. It all starts with practice.

So in honor of this response, here are tips to get you started. 

Here are 3 of my Favorite Yoga & Wisdom Books.  You can click on the book cover to learn more and to purchase.

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Check out all of my recommended reads.  Find titles related to Family/Parenting support, business/self-development, meditation, kids books, plus DVDs, products, and more of what I love.

 

Just added! Give yourself 8 minutes in the morning, on your lunch break, or before bed to try this at home yoga practice.

Here’s a 5-minute meditation video I created to support content from Chapter 8: Awake of my book, Delight: 8 Principles for Living with Joy and Ease.  Want to receive all the supporting video content? Sign up.

Tara Brach offers a wonderful “How to Meditate Guide” which addresses setting up your practice, troubleshooting common issues, and sustaining a practice.  You can also check out her New to Meditation page.

“You are traveling a path that has led to clarity, peace and deep realization for many people over thousands of years. May their awakening support and inspire you. And may the sincerity of your practice heal and free your spirit.”
— Tara Brach

When you establish your sitting practice, you’ll want to be comfortable.  Find a comfy mat, bolster, or blanket.  Or set the mood or intention with some essential oils and aromatherapy!  Maybe you need a grounding oil like Vetiver or Sandalwood.  If you need extra relaxation try Lavender, Roman Chamomile, or Clary Sage.  Need some cleansing?  Grab your sage.  Need some loving? Neroli or Rose will do the trick.  There is SO much to learn about essential oils related to practice.  Let’s chat about it.  Book a free 30 minute intro call with me.

If you need any additional support regarding your practice and want to work together, here’s an application to get started.

Additionally, join me at Insight Meditation Community of Washington in Tenleytown for my half-day Pause Retreat on Friday, November 18th.  This is a simple, sweet yoga and meditation retreat for all levels where you will explore practices to take home.

THRIVE

For a few years, I have had “create a course” on my to do list.

I KNEW I wanted to plan a longer, deeper class over time where students could share in a supportive setting how our practice shows up off the mat. I kept dreaming of a gathering where we BRING IT ALL TOGETHER. How yoga & meditation & intentional life visioning, and self exploration integrate into our lives and what happens when we commit to our own well being. Over the past 10 years, I have done this work. I have set up rituals and habits, I have asked questions, studied, practiced and meditated- all to help facilitate a healing and a transformation in my own life.

It worked. I believe with my whole heart, that I have changed my own life. I broke mental patterns that were not serving me. I added love and connection to my life and SLOWLY fear and anger faded. I want to share what I did and what I do, with you. photo

 

THRIVE: Yoga as Life

In this series of 3 Sunday nights we will stretch, breathe, read, connect, meditate and discuss the concepts and philosophies of yoga as a lifestyle.
We will engage in goal setting, awareness, play and community as a way to take our practice deeper on and off and the mat.
Home yoga practice will be encouraged along with inspirational readings and self awareness exercises as well as support and mentoring all summer.
This group will be limited to a small group in order to facilitate intimacy, depth and transformation.
Men and women of all ages are welcome.

What to do & Why?

“The simple perspective I have come up with, through all the years and thousands of hours of practicing yoga and meditation since that first exposure, is that yoga makes you feel good. It’s relaxing. It’s energizing. It’s strengthening. You feel better at the end of a session than before you began, and life runs more smoothly when you maintain a consistent discipline than when you don’t. Yoga enhances your experience of life. It changes your perspective. You thereby find yourself spontaneously embracing a larger, more accurate conception of who you are, how life works, and what God is. You start seeing things differently, with less distortion – which results in more peace of mind, better health, more enthusiasm for life, and an ever-growing authentic sense of inner well-being.

As you practice yoga and meditation regularly, this subtle sense of feeling good gradually becomes so pervasive, so natural and genuine, so much a part of you that it carries over into the whole of your life. And in doing so it helps clarify your deepest longings, motivations, and aspirations, thereby restoring optimism, hope, meaning, and purpose to life”

-Erich Schiffman 

What I do

I have been thinking about what I do that allows me to have a sense of purpose, intention and connection in my life.

I have noticed that most of my days are full of things I want to do and I’m surrounded by people I love who are inspiring and positive. 

This is not by accident. This is my intentional life. I spend a lot of time getting clear on how I want to contribute to my family, the community and myself. I review my core values, regularly. I plan and re- work my schedule to make sure there is plenty of me time, family time, work time and open time. 

Sometimes, I have a habit of belittling the work I do and telling folks, oh it’s nothing or its not big deal or I’m so lucky. And the truth is, I am lucky AND I work every day on committing to this life, this day, this world. I sacrifice and I say no, regularly. I’m not able to do everything. I work a lot, I teach a lot. I like quiet and sleeping.  

what does this mean?

It means that I do the work. I show up for classes, I meet teachers, I ask questions, I study, I read & read & read. I plan and practice and when things don’t work I find a way to change it up. I listen to elders. I try new things. I feel the pain & the fear, which does not go away just because I am generally a positive person.  over time, this has been the proven strategy for me to feel as if I actually have all the time I need to do the things that are the highest priority to me and that I really only do things that truly bring me JOY. 

One of the teachings that I recently heard loud and clear from Maezen was in a difficult situation, we have 3 options. 

  1. Change our mind, don’t hold too tight to our beliefs. ( this comes in handy in many of my relationships. I often apologize, put myself in someones shoes, communicate that something is unfair , relate to our common human experience, OR admit that I made a mistake) 
  2. Change the situation, let go of how we WANT it to be. ( get creative with how we approach our lives, it DOES NOT have to be a certain way. it does not have to be clean, it can be messy. they don’t have to eat all of the vegetables every night! )  
  3. Sit, and see what happens. ( have no clue what to do? then pause. sit. watch. observe. eventually something will happen, always) 

At any given moment, these are our choices. For example, recently I had a student who was upset about something at the studio & she really wanted a refund. I thought about our policy and what felt reasonable. I decided I was not going to give the refund BUT I would give her a pass into a different event. This type of flexible leadership allowed her to felt HEARD and appreciated and for us to stick to the integrity of our policies by sticking to our expectations. This happens each week with students, teachers, friends and family. 

The more flexible I become with my thoughts, expectations and views the stronger my relationships become. The more I respect the people in my life, the more they open up to me. Honestly, I have a lot less suffering as a result. 

This practice has drastically changed the tension or blame games that used to occur in my life. I try to come at each unique situation with open eyes and more importantly an open heart. 

Here is something else I have learned along the way. All of us are suffering in some way. We are tired. We are angry. We are stressed. We are sick. We don’t feel cared for at home or at work. We don’t feel heard. 

When I remember this, my heart softens. I cannot be angry with other human beings who are experiencing so much suffering. I know this might sound a little out there- but for me, it works. When I see someone so irritated, angry, yelling or rude- I just try to step back and look at the big picture. It becomes so clear that this person is suffering, the holistic view of this being is that he/ she is not in a good place.  And I’m not here to make that worse. In fact, I feel one of the reasons I am here is to make that pain go away. To demonstrate that we do have the capacity not only to shift our thoughts and perspective but that ANYONE can do it. If I can, YOU can. I don’t believe in doing this a preachy way, but through modeling. I can only change myself. I can only be myself and show love to all those I come in contact with. I can hold your hand and hug your heart. The more I practice, the easier this becomes for me and the clearer my purpose becomes. 

I know we all are fundamentally loving and compassionate. I know when we strip away all the drama and the bullshit and the thoughts of our “crazy busy” lives, tears start to swell, hearts start to open and peace abides.

Can you stop and think about each beautiful being you come into contact with today and see them whole. 

Balance..

A Method to Find Balance

By Leo Babauta

Despite the insipid title of this post, work-life balance is a bit of a myth.

Sure, we work too much, don’t have time for all the other things we want to do, are always tired, eat convenience food or comfort food rather than nutritious or nourishing food, never have time for solitude … but that’s the life we want, right?

OK, maybe it needs a bit of readjusting. Work and life and learning and relationships and health are all really the same thing, and so “balance” is perhaps the wrong word, but adjusting our lives to our aspired priorities is not a bad thing.

A friend recently asked me how I balance my personal lives and all my projects, and it made me pause and think. And that pause, and the thinking, is really the key to it all, I discovered.

So here’s the method I use.

  1. Pause regularly. In our lives, we are so busy and caught up in what we’re doing that we have no space for thinking. I build regular pauses into my life, so that I have some space for thought. What kind of pauses? I use morning meditation, drinking coffee in the morning with my notebook, my morning shower, a walk alone, tea or a run or other meeting with my wife or a friend, as space for thinking about my life. Pause regularly to create space.
  2. Zoom out. When you take a pause, zoom out from the close-up view, so you can look at the big picture. What are you doing with your life? What kind of person do you want to be? Are you making decisions in the aggregate? What are your priorities? And are you living those priorities? You don’t need to think about all of these things during each pause, but use the pauses for this kind of thinking.
  3. Readjust. When you notice that you’ve been spending too much time on the computer, and too little with your kids or other loved ones, make a note of it. When you notice that some important projects are being neglected, or you don’t have time for exercise, or your diet has gone to hell and settled in there, make a note. Think about what adjustments you can make.
  4. Now actually block off time. Making a note and mental adjustment is great, but it’s meaningless without action. What kind of action can you take to adjust how you actually spend your time? Make a commitment, on your calendar. Not one that you’ll skip when the time comes and you’re browsing your favorite sites. A commitment you’ll keep. For example, if you want to work out more, make a regular date with a friend to go for a run or do a bodyweight workout in the park or go to yoga class or go to the gym you signed up for 11 months ago and never use. Make a regular date. If you want to work on a project, make an appointment to go to a tea house or library for 3-4 hours just to work on that project. Or commit to a whole week of working on your novel. Tell somebody about it, and better yet commit to getting them the work by the end of the week (or whatever period you choose). Make the time, solidly.

That’s the method. Four steps, done regularly.

Life is a constant readjustment. It’s whether you readjust consciously that makes all the difference.