Our Precious Resource

How often do you find yourself saying or thinking the words, “I don’t have time for ____” – the blank being things that you want to do, things you need to do, or things that you used to love doing?

If you don’t say this, you might be one of the lucky ones.  I’ve said this sentence before, too many times to count.

We live in an age where technology brings the entire world to our fingertips – not just emails and text messages, but also video streaming, angry birds, tabloids, world news, and 140 character sound bites.  It’s all too easy to lose countless minutes to cat videos, articles about random topics, and scrolling through Facebook.

Someone suggested to me that instead of saying “I don’t have time,” I say instead, “It’s not a priority” —
“I don’t have time to work out” became “exercising isn’t a priority.”
“I don’t have time to study” became “learning isn’t a priority.”
“I don’t have time to write” became “my dream to write a novel isn’t a priority.”
We have 168 hours in a week.

It stung when I realized that out of my 168 hours every week, there were hours of time that I idled away doing nothing much at all. I realized how quickly those minutes on Instagram, watching anime, and playing games on my phone added up – time that I could spend doing things that were important to me.

We are in full swing of summer.  Some of us have siblings who are home from college, others of us have children who are out of school.  The days are longer and we might have vacations or long weekends planned with dear friends and relatives. If we took out Netflix, TV, or Facebook, would that translate into more time with friends and family, or more time doing things that are important to us?

If time is our most precious resource, then our priorities are where we choose to spend those hours. Are you making the most out of your 168 hours?

An Introduction to Detox

The Girls 067When the season changes from winter to spring, it’s easy to look at the rebirth happening in nature all around us and mirror that into our own lives. Whether it’s literally seeding a garden in the backyard or cleaning the house to reduce clutter and “noise”, renewal can bring freshness and inspire focus after a long winter.

Have you ever considered that your body might need to go through a similar process of cleaning, or detoxing? One of our own teachers, Natosha, was kind enough to give me (and you!) a quick introduction on the topic:

What is detox, in one sentence?

Natosha: Detox is the process of removing harmful toxins from the body.

Why is it important to detox and/or cleanse the body?

Natosha: Detoxification is so important because it can reverse the symptoms of illness, improve quality of life, enhance immune system function, increase energy, lose weight, and restore balance back to our body’s natural cleansing system.

What are some different ways I can detox in my daily life?

Natosha: A few ways easy ways to detox daily include — sweat in a sauna, dry-brush your skin, drink at least 2 quarts of water a day, breathe deeply, and exercise.

Applying multiple detox methods in your daily life will help you cleanse through different areas in the body and release different forms of toxin buildup.

How do I know if my body needs a cleanse or detox? How often should I be doing detoxes to remove built-up toxins from my body?

Signs and symptoms of the body needing a cleanse may be numerous and very broad but general symptoms include: headaches/ and or migraines, low energy, insomnia, indigestion, bloating, weight gain, low energy, skin conditions, etc.

The amount of detox and cleanse protocol depends on each person individual lifestyle. This is a really good question because if you detox for too long or too often you can lose valuable nutrients along with the toxins and leave your body depleted. For this reason I wouldn’t recommend doing a ‘full on’ cleanse where you restrict your diet for more than 2 to 4 times a year. In Ayurvedic practice, the changing of the season is the most powerful time to cleanse.

If I can do a detox on my own, why go to a workshop?

Natosha: There are three GREAT reasons!

ONE – If you have never done a detox before it can seem like a daunting task. There is a lot of misleading information out there, and it can get overwhelming and discouraging. Workshops are a great way to get your questions answered and get the correct information you need.

TWO – Detox programs can be complex and everyone’s body is different. Coming to a workshop is a great way to introduce you to the tools you will need to safely and appropriately start a cleanse cycle. It will help teach about moderate and more extreme detox methods. It will help you get the best results and deepen your understanding about your body. It will also help you tailor a detox program that best fits your lifestyle.

THREE – Workshops are designed to teach and improve upon already healthy lifestyles but also to motivate. There is no better encouragement than doing it with a group and feeling inspired.

Beyond the Physical

Jennifer RhodesMy yoga journey did not start as a revelation; my background is not what I call “spiritual”. My dad is a pharmacist and I have a marketing degree. We did not eat kichiri and cleanse every season and we did not sit and find quiet spaces to find “answers”.

I stumbled into yoga because I bought my mom yoga classes as a retirement gift and I went with her to stretch. A year later I went to another studio where I found my teacher, who was deeply spiritual (I didn’t see it at the time, but I “felt” it). During my first private session, she asked me this pivotal first question, which changed everything.

“What do you want to get out of this?”

My answer: “I want to be able to waterski with my kids when I’m 40!” (I was 34 years old at the time.)

My teacher replied, “You know that there is more to it than that?”

That’s when everything changed and the awareness washed through me. Yoga can be more than just doing a perfect handstand!

I then started to explore how the poses (asanas) can channel into deeper levels of learning, healing and finding my true self (and you can too). When I step on my mat, I check in with myself – Am I angry? Overwhelmed? Fearful? Sad? Frustrated? We all feel these things but what do we do with these feelings? You can use the poses and your breath to release your sadness, stress, anger or fear. When I am in a difficult pose I tell myself, “Soften. Relax. Release.” Or, on every exhale I tell myself, “I am going to be ok.” or “This too shall pass.” Simple, yet powerful.

My hope is that we can allow ourselves to be more open in our practice, allow ourselves to “feel” more and “think” less without judgment. Exploring it, welcoming it, trying not to grasp for it and being patient – it’s not always easy! But know that you can use this practice to heal and cleanse so you can grow and evolve into exactly who you want to be.

My hope for every student, myself included, is that you allow the poses to take you beyond the physical into deeper levels so you can access the strength, compassion and happiness that is inside each one of us.

The Scribble to Success

Now that we are at the end of January, you’ve probably heard any number of people in your life – friends, family, coworkers, or that stranger you struck up a conversation with at the grocery store – mention new goals that they’ve set for themselves, or resolutions they’ve made to kick off 2016.

But keeping a resolution or achieving a goal is not always easy. There are distractions, there are ways to procrastinate, we get busy at work, or a personal crisis throws us off our balance. It’s too easy to hit a bump in the road and after breaking the resolution once (or a few times), and then blame ourselves for not having enough willpower when we fail to live up to our own, often very high, expectations.

I have never been much into resolutions, in part because I don’t want to become a statistic (University of Scranton research suggests that just 8% of people achieve their New Year’s goals) but also because I believe that there is more to a self-improvement than an outcome or result.

Many of my own roads to success are not only not smooth, they are downright Escher-like. Whether it was getting into an eka pada koundinyasana or finishing that online Introduction to Programming class, some monkey always throws a wrench into what was supposed to be smooth sailing. In my experience, these roads are not straight and steady slopes to the top. The path to success is more akin to a two-year old’s first experimentation with crayon on the wall – it’s rough and looks like a massive scribble. Every minor or major obstacle – bumps in the road, if you follow the analogy – can lead to failure, to setbacks, and can make you feel like you’re back where you started.

I firmly believe that every journey will involve some amount of scribble, and by that definition, recognize that failure is almost always a prerequisite for success. I believe that the many infinite moments of a journey are what transform a person, and not just that single instance of success.

So be kind to yourself and enjoy the scribble – even you do not always know where your journey will take you.

Sankalpa – a.k.a. a bit of wisdom from Papa.


As a child my father taught me to reflect on my day before going to bed. I can still hear his words: “Always reflect on your own actions and contributions. Make the necessary adjustments to realign yourself. Clear any unwanted feelings so that you can go to bed with a clear conscience. This alone will help you live a happier and fuller life.” His advice didn’t just focus on resolution – he emphasized a process that begins with the ability to “reflect”. The “3R’s” technique that I use for our TYS™ Aerial Yoga originated from this simple concept, but I simplified it to “3R’s” – Release, Realign and Rebuild.

My father’s teaching also reminds me of yoga. We are all good, but we need adjustments to keep us on track. The Sanskrit word sankalpa means “will, purpose, or determination.” To make a sankalpa is to set an intention, like making a Near Year’s resolution but with a yogic twist. This is similar to my father’s teachings, which did not focus on the negative. He was more interested in the root cause of the negativity; therefore he began with reflecting on his actions. Once he understood the cause, he could make the necessary correction or realignment.

The year 2016 is fast approaching. Although my father passed away many years ago, I still remember his words and have shared his bits of wisdom with my own daughter. Instead of making a New Year’s resolution this year, how about trying a healthy dose of sankalpa – also known as a bit of wisdom from Papa?

Developing Focus

Yoga provides numerous opportunities for developing focus. Practicing drishti requires finding a point of focus for the eyes. Applying dharana, single-pointed attention, helps quiet chattering in the mind. Pratyahara, withdrawing the senses, can allow for enhanced relaxation and self-awareness by focusing inward. Maintaining focus throughout a yoga class can be challenging, but taking these same principles of focus and using them in daily life can be an even greater challenge.

I’ve always taken pride in my multi-tasking abilities and busy schedule of projects, hobbies, and activities. However, I’m slowly realizing I don’t need to accomplish so much to feel successful. In fact, it’s the simple things that bring an overwhelming sense of joy and success. There will always be challenges but now I’m more aware of how my focus determines my sense of success and fulfillment.

When faced with challenges of productivity I try to keep these ideas in mind to focus my energy and attention:

Slow down and simplify. It might seem counter-productive to slow down but it has made me more mindful and present in all aspects of life.
Do one thing at a time with full attention. When I’m fully engaged in a single activity I don’t miss the chaos of multi-tasking. Instead, I’ve found a new sense of accomplishment in being completely present.
Turn everyday occurrences into moments of awareness. By identifying occasions of gratitude, I’m more aware of the beautiful and joyful moments as they occur.
We all have aspects in our lives that demand our undivided attention. The challenge is to see them as opportunities to focus and reap the benefits of an enhanced awareness of self, success and fulfillment.

Schedule & Teacher Changes

Getting Into Lotus

If you have trouble getting into a full Lotus pose, try this deep 6 lateral rotator stretch. This group of muscles are deep in the buttock area. The most popular muscle, piriformis, due to its relationship to sciatic nerve. Here, I am using blocks to work on Lotus preparation. Over time, you will find ease and comfort while in Lotus. If you haven’t try this with me, you can practice on your own as well. Once you are setup, then hold for 5 breaths folding forward, then another 5 breaths to the side where you are facing directly above the top foot. Happy stretching.


Finding Gratitude

Let’s take a moment to find gratitude for the abundances in our lives.

Your list does not have to be long – it can be as simple as being grateful for your life journey; your communities – friends, family, passions; your yoga practice.

Taking an extra moment to acknowledge your gratitude is not only a wonderful gift for the person you are grateful for, but it is something that can have a positive impact on your own psychological and physical health.

But what about when we are angry, hurt or sad? When we are busy fostering a grievance or building a grudge, it may seem that there is no room for positivity at all. It may be easier to yell and hold onto that anger, especially if you were hurt by someone you care about. But if you try to cultivate gratitude in your life, especially when it is hardest, you may find healing will come to your heart and body much sooner than it otherwise would.

This practice of gratitude doesn’t have to be complex – it really can be as simple as writing down five things you are grateful for in a journal every day.

One of the things I am most grateful for in my life is my yoga practice. Since yoga has become my physical vehicle for self-exploration and introspection, I’ve often been able to carry the lessons I learn from my mat into my life, and vice versa. Looking back over the past few years, I can think of many cases when my struggle or fear with a particular pose translated from something that had happened off my mat – and how in working through the pose physically, I could begin to work on my own emotions and take that lesson back into the other parts of my life.

Revisiting and Relearning

As the summer rolls into August, we near the time of the year when many of us or people close to us – children, friends, parents, and colleagues – get ready to go back to school.

You can also look at your yoga practice through the lens of “going back to school”. Sometimes the poses, transitions, breathing techniques, or meditation we learn in class or explore on our mat are completely new to us, but other times they are combinations of elements we have already explored.

Our yoga practices (as well as any other movement lifestyle) are not static and unchanging, nor are they linear journeys. Each day in our lives we experience change emotionally, mentally, and physically – and every change, no matter how small, can in turn affect the state of our mind and body on any given day. And over a longer period of time, the many incremental changes add up to what can be monumental, incredible changes.

In the spirit of embracing this perspective, why not revisit an old pose or try something new (again)? You may find that in revisiting an ‘old’ pose, you will find subtle nuances that you didn’t feel the first time around, or you will be able to explore a pose more deeply because your practice has evolved. If you didn’t like a particular style of yoga the first time around, maybe give it a second or third try – a few months or a few years after the first experience, you may find that you can appreciate and even love what those practices can do for your body. Or maybe try that difficult arm balance or pose that wasn’t accessible to you a year ago and see how it feels now.

The Benefits of Gentle and Restorative

We have many active and strong classes at TYS® for individuals who are seeking a sweaty, powerful practice, but there are many benefits to including a gentle or restorative yoga class in your weekly schedule.  This month Jain is sharing with us about these two styles of yoga and what they can do for you.

Jain WangThe gentle practice invites you to slow down and drop into your body. This slower paced yoga practice offers you the opportunity to take the time to feel the sensations that arise within the body during each asana. We practice moving breath around the body, exploring all corners of the lungs. As we take time with each posture, we work on lengthening, and as we hold the posture for several breaths, we are working on strengthening. Each asana works on different parts of the body to maintain mobility and open up space. We also work on balancing the body using simple postures to bring more harmony to both sides of the phyical body as well as bringing balance to the mind. Gentle, the new advanced yoga practice.

Leaving your worries and “to do” lists at the door, the restorative practice offers a retreat from the outside world. We invite you to surprise yourself with the gift of how relaxed you can actually feel. The poses are held for several minutes working to relax the deep tissues of the body with the help of lengthening the breath, engaging the parasympathetic nervous system. By cradling the body with props, the muscles feel supported, and the stretch then begins to deepen, allowing the bones to drop, drawing the body deeper into the pose. As you practice letting go of the outer layers, you will begin to find yourself in a calm and quiet place. A place that resides deep within you. By holding each pose for several minutes we are also practicing patience -­ patience to stay with the breath, patience to stay with your experience, and perhaps the patience to let go just that little bit more. Rest and restore.

If you’d like to join Jain in one of her gentle or restorative classes, you can view Jain’s teaching schedule at our studio by following this link.