Welcome to 2018

New Year’s greeting from The Yoga Studio.

Back in January of 2014, I shared through our newsletter my thoughts on New Year’s resolutions. I mentioned how most New Year’s resolutions last only a few weeks. I also shared the key to sticking to your resolution is through love, self-love. I wrote, “It is love that awakens the desire to make a change. It is also love that fuels the desire… and keeps the change permanent.” This message triggered some feedback from students, who shared with me how a New Year’s Yoga Challenge helped them discover Yoga. I loved their stories and have been slowly processing their words. I truly believe everyone can benefit from Yoga. It is more important for us to help as many people as possible to discover Yoga and pay less attention to how they end up on a mat. Once someone has experienced Yoga, a journey of self-discovery begins.

I am happy to announce our 2018 Yoga Challenge, with more details will be coming soon. This challenge is meant to both inspire as well as to encourage someone to try Yoga and keep up with it for the duration of the Challenge. It doesn’t mean you have to practice Yoga poses each day, but it does mean you have to do something Yoga related each day. The prizes will be announced, and they should provide the extra incentive needed. 🙂

Remember What Your Body Doesn’t Know

Alyssa Prettyman
In the past 3 months, I moved my whole life across the country. I wouldn’t say it was graceful or perfect – but what in life is really?

One thing I noticed during the time of the transition, where my to-do list for one month was longer than the entire previous year, was the 1,000 excuses I could come up with not to practice. I’ll be the first one to admit, a home practice is hard for me. I love the community of a studio practice. I love being led. I love being in a space that doesn’t have a pile of laundry calling my name. But since my husband had to move out early for his new job, it was home practice or bust!

At this point, I’ve done enough yoga to recognize my tendency to make excuses. As they started in: I have too much to do, my house is gross and full of moving boxes, I need to pack things… I have to be my own coach – remember that my body doesn’t know the difference between practicing in a gold palace surrounded by whirling dervishes or in my kids’ toy room surrounded by legos. The only real barrier, as is so often the case, was the imaginary barriers I was creating. The only thing I needed was my mat.

So as the holidays approach and you head into a time of stress, travel, excess and temptation of all shapes, tastes and sizes, remember that your body can’t tell the difference if you’re practicing in the laundry room at Uncle Ted’s house or the fanciest studio in the area. But your body can tell you’re doing something good for it, and I guarantee you’ll feel better when you do.

A Few Words from Bri

IMG_20170514_080910_859-1I had the opportunity to chat with Bri, one of our teachers at The Yoga Studio, and got to sit down and learn more about the impact yoga has had on her life.

How were you first introduced to yoga? I was introduced to yoga in 2009 because it was a free program at my university. I was a competitive cross country and track & field runner, and my coach wanted me to “stretch”. Who knew it was going to be so much more and eventually lead me to a really fulfilling career!

Why do you practice yoga? I practice yoga as a way to learn who I am and to meet other people. I love meeting new friends and yoga always seems like a place where I don’t need to wear a mask.

What is one tip you would give to a new practitioner of yoga? The biggest tip I’d give to a new student is breathe a lot, breathe deep, and care more about how the poses feel than what they look like. Close your eyes or do yoga in the dark at home to learn more about feeling over seeing. 😉

Anything else you would like to share? I love teaching because it allows me to guide others through what yoga means to me. Everyone has a unique perspective and it’s cool to find people we resonate with. I get to share all the bits that I’ve learned from my favorite teachers as well as things that are unique to me. The most satisfying thing though is helping people learn to listen to their inside so they don’t need a teacher anymore. They become the teacher. At the end of class we say “namaste”. The word is rich with meaning one meaning to me is acknowledgement that we see the inner teacher in each other.

River of Life

mom hot photoIf I ask you the question of what moves your blood through your circulatory system, your answer likely would be your heart. Let’s ponder that answer for a moment. If our heart is solely responsible for moving our blood through our circulatory system, then something doesn’t add up. For one, the movement of our blood through our system was happening during the embryological development. The movement was there before our heart showed up.

Secondly, if you calculate the volume of blood that’s being moved through your blood vessels, and the resistance of those vessels to the flow of the fluid, you will quickly realize that the heart is terribly undersized if the heart is a pump which is solely responsible for all that movement.

So where did that movement originated from before your heart showed up? You could not have been the originator of that movement. It did not start in you. That movement was there long before anything even remotely resembling you showed up. The movement that moves the blood through our system was inherited. We inherited that movement from our mother. And where did she receive that movement, she received it from her mother. It is through the chains of mothers before us. That movement or energy was passed down to us while we were in the womb. You can go back as far as you can imagine in the line of species and life forms from which we evolved, to the primordial ocean, all the way to the big bang, because it’s an unbroken chain of movement that we have inherited. But we don’t get to keep that energy, it is not even ours. It sustains us and it moves through us, but it was here long before we showed up and it will be here long after we leave. We get to dance with it for a while, hopefully with some elegance, skill and awareness. This is a very interesting and humbling thing to think about. So, we got the movement of blood from our mothers. Our heart does the job of keeping that movement going like a parent keeping a swing moving once it is in motion. You are adding the momentum that was lost from the last swing. That’s what the heart is doing.

I lost my mother to cancer when I was 10 years old. I wished for so long that she was still here, and we could spend time together. How I wish she had the opportunity to hold my child. On each Mother’s Day, I wish I can take her to Dim Sum and spoil her for the day. When I realized the obvious, which is the movement in my blood originated from her, I was speechless. She was with me the whole time. After realizing this, I couldn’t wait to find my little girl, to hold her and to feel her heart beat. I close my eyes and know that I flow within her, and the line of mothers before me flows through her.

Mother’s Day is just around the corner. For all the mothers out there … I bow to you.

P.S. A special thanks to Leslie Kaminoff. Through his Yoga Anatomy training I have a better understanding of the role of our heart.

Yoga Together

The Girls 067When I think of Partner Yoga I think of Yoga Together because of the building of personal relationships that results from practicing Yoga together. So what is Partner Yoga? It’s the Yoga practice that brings people together through movement. play, breath, touch and yes, intimacy. It can be practiced by ANY two people and is a great way to strengthen a relationship by fostering trust and communication. Typically Yoga is seen as a solo journey and individual experience, but the practice of Partner Yoga brings a whole new aspect of what this practice of Yoga can be.

My first experience with partner Yoga was in my teacher training ten years ago. It was one of the best experiences of my life because it brought me into an innocence and playfulness I had never felt before in my Yoga practice. I turned and laughed at my competitive nature in my practice and truly realized that Yoga, like my body, isn’t always serious or perfect. I have continued to practice Partner Yoga with friends, family and well, yes, my partner. Of course, you will feel more connected with those with whom you share the practice.

By touching, holding, stretching and observing their body language you create deeper intimacy. You begin building pathways to better listening and communicating with each other and you walk away feeling more connected to yourself. It is so fun to try poses you have done by yourself, maybe for years, and figure out together what is being experienced in the body.

I can say that Partner Yoga is one of the greatest gifts I have given myself, and I look forward to sharing Yoga Together with you.

Embracing Individuality

Today in the digital age it is easy to eschew paper-and-pen planners, datebooks, and lists for apps on our smartphones. In the same way my planner in college outlined every last assignment, appointment, meeting, and social event, my smartphone held every detail of my life – at least for a time.

In recent months I noticed that I forgot things every now and again – small tasks, meetings that slipped my mind until only hours before, things I forgot to buy, and so on. I out that all the apps in the world were useless if I did not check them or use them – and as you might guess, I didn’t use them because they didn’t fit into my life.

I’d been wanting to return to a paper-and-pen planner for some time but found that many planners didn’t have the exact features I wanted. Not entirely by accident I stumbled upon bullet journals, which are planners that can be customized from scratch. Armed with a blank notebook and a pen, you literally draw up a planner that is completely unique to you, complete with all the pages you need (be they weekly or daily breakdowns, meal prep notes, shopping lists, books to read, or a stick figures in yoga poses). The system worked for me because it was simple, adaptable, customizable, and best of all, could roll with the changes in my day-to-day life.

While teaching a yoga class and adapting the class to the students who were practicing with me that night, it suddenly occurred to me that yoga can be viewed much the same way. There are no two yoga practices that are alike – no two practitioners require the same combination of elements in their practice, and even those needs can change from day to day. Even someone new to their yoga practice will start realizing quickly that they must adapt their practice to themselves – over time modifying poses with props, slowing down or picking up the pace, changing their diet, waking up with meditation, or ending the day with half an hour of restorative yoga – modifying ‘yoga’ and everything it can encompass to suit their lifestyle, and find what works best for them.

It’s easy to look at other students (or the teacher) in class and think that is what our own yoga practice should look like – not just the poses, but also the spirituality, diet, attitude towards life, and so on. But we are all different and unique, and similarly, our yoga practices will look and feel different as well. Our bodies will look different in poses, as will our words and philosophies, and as tempting as it is to look outward for guidance, sometimes it is actually turning inward that will help you find the answers and understand what you need in your yoga practice and your life.

I would be the first to admit that it can be scary to embrace your individuality – every nuance, every swear word (if applicable), every quirk and goofy habit. But it can also be incredibly fulfilling and peaceful to be at ease with yourself – unapologetic for looking different and walking a different rhythm than those around you.

Ancient Wisdom for the New Year

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo what are you doing this New Year’s Eve? Watching the ball drop over Times Square or looking for a party to attend? For many of us, the typical New Year’s celebration can feel like old hat after a while. As time passes, we tend to look for different ways to transition into the New Year. We start looking for more profound ways of honoring the space between letting go of the old and embracing the new.

Everything moves in a cycles with a definite beginning and an end. I believe how we end one chapter of our life sets the tone for the beginning of the next chapter. This is true with how we live out our day, how we finish our Yoga practice and of course how we end and begin the year. Ancient wisdom is still being observed in various cultures to transition into the New Year. An example is one that I am comfortable speaking of, the Chinese tradition. The Chinese do not clean on New Year’s Day, all the cleaning should be done prior and the cleaning equipment completely put away before the New Year. This practice has many deep meanings including being cleansed, resolving the old and being prepared to accept and welcome the new. With this idea, the New Year becomes a fruitful opportunity to deepen our introspection, to find new intention as we let go of the old. The new intention should not translate into action that may last 30 to 90 days like a New Year’s challenge, but one you intend to keep for as long as it continues to enrich your life. This new intention should have the power to first connect oneself in mind, body and spirit; and has the potential to connect or build relationships with our surroundings.

Beginning the year with Yoga is a powerful way to start the new year. Yoga has the ability to center, balance, ground and connect. How you spend the first day of the New Year sets the tone for the rest of the year. We are keeping our annual tradition of offering a full day of FREE classes on New Year’s Day. This is our way to give back to the community as well as offering a way to help you find your intention for the New Year.

Change …

The only constant we have in our lives is CHANGE. If you have been practicing at our studio you undoubtedly have noticed the many changes in our shopping center. When I first heard about a diner-style fast food restaurant moving into the space next to us I was surprised since what makes Campbell so special is its many family-owned businesses. When the city approved the permit and waived its own requirement for an additional 32 parking spaces I was confused. Then I heard a comment from one of our students: “Don’t worry, we will make sure we OM louder than them.” I was touched by her support, and further, I was touched by her Yoga wisdom.

I have been asked if I think the upcoming fast food restaurant will bring about positive and negative changes. I believe, just like everything in life, it will certainly bring a little of both. How much good it will bring depends on your own perspective.

With the growth of our human population, remodeling and construction are becoming the signs of economic growth and importance. Many changes are coming our way, including changes we see in our city, neighborhood and even our Yoga home. Changes are not necessarily a bad thing, and can even help us grow. While the world continues to evolve around us, the choices we make are important in driving toward positive changes. Staying grounded and centered is important. Yoga helps us find our inner voice and helps us stay balanced and remain grounded. With regular practice this stays true both ON and OFF our mat.

As for the remodeling our shopping center is undergoing, the big stuff is behind us now. Yoga has helped everyone who teaches and practices at TYS™ stay grounded through the changes. Very soon we are going to have a modern storefront, a new roof and a new air conditioning unit. This is very much like remodeling the kitchen in our home – we are going to wonder why we didn’t make the changes sooner so that we can we have more time to enjoy it.

Hello To Myself

One year ago, in the company of thousands of other people, I sent a lantern up into the sky during a beautiful, surreal lantern festival.

That day I wrote a lot on the thin white paper of the lantern with my thin black marker – mostly fears, some anxieties and worries, but also hopes and goals that I had been afraid to tell anyone or even put down into words. I wrote and I wrote and I wrote, and at some point my mind stopped its chattering; through my pen, I poured my soul onto a lantern that I would later liberate into the sky, laden with heavy words and the desert dust of Nevada and bits and pieces of my story.

Lantern festivals are few and far between, but writing is something anyone can do, even if you are your only audience. This can be a private blog, or an anonymous Instagram; a journal tucked inside your desk, or a small notebook you carry everywhere. So many thoughts pass through our minds – for a few days, try taking a few minutes a day to jot down the things that you want to focus on, and see if that changes how you approach (or end) your day. Those few minutes of daily writing can become a meditation and safe harbor, where your thoughts can come out unfettered, unjudged, and uninhibited.

(You might be surprised at what you end up writing down, too – I noticed that I don’t necessarily write down the “deepest” or most philosophical things, but when I do write my days and short-term goals end up much more focused as a result.)

As a writer myself, I always advocate writing when one needs emotional release – whether it’s a break up or hitting the milestone of a long-cultivated dream – putting thoughts to words makes them incontrovertibly real, and maybe even as a result easier to let go of. Once the words exist somewhere, you can’t take them back – and sometimes, it is that very sense of realness that we need to let us move forward.

Place to Play

While watching a TV series recently, one of the fictional characters uttered a drop of wisdom during an athletics meet: “To truly have fun, you need to have strength.” Of course, yoga is not a sport and my practice is not a game – but in some ways I thought this idea carried quite aptly to yoga.

Once you develop the habit of coming to your mat, whether it is at home or at a yoga studio, your practice generally begins to develop naturally: you learn the poses, find your style of yoga, and know which props to grab on your way into the studio. But sometimes it takes more study to develop a strong foundation that allows you to truly explore and play at the very edges of your limit in your yoga practice. For me, that meant yoga teacher trainings, yoga workshops, reading books and research articles, and learning from (and getting inspired by!) my fellow yogis and teachers, other movement arts, and building a home practice.

Having a solid foundation allows you to go higher and stronger – to find more depth in your yoga practice without injury or compromising your body. A strong foundation is a form of strength that can allow you truly play, finding freedom in and enjoying the challenges of your yoga practice.

What bricks have you laid in the foundation for your yoga practice? We hope you will share your story with us via email or one of our social media platforms: