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YOGA TEACHERS ARE LIKE FAVORITE SONGS

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The celebrity status we attach to our yoga teachers may limit our full potential. Hot Yoga Asheville- Bikram Method encourages trying a variety of teachers.

When we practice Bikram Method, we tend to garner some strong feelings about our teachers. So, if you’re anything like me, you may peruse the lists of classes and teachers and hand pick your weekly practice schedule based on the teachers that have proven most beneficial to you in your own mind. Yoga in Asheville is no different than yoga in San Francisco in this way, I’ve found. Wherever we are, we find ourselves gravitating to a select group of teachers. At times, some of these favorite teachers become a little like celebrities to us. We begin to worship them a little, and idealize them. Of course we do. We need heroes, and who better than someone who encourages the best in ourselves? Perhaps certain teachers take on the status of celebrities in many of our minds because they symbolize to us our own transformation into a better vision of ourselves. As they teach us to listen to our own bodies and challenge our limits, they reflect the more perfect incarnation of ourselves to which we continually aspire. So we hold them up like totems to our transformation. As we stretch and sweat and learn to love ourselves, we can’t help falling a little bit in love with our teachers too. Just as the heat in the room softens our joints, rendering our bodies more flexible, the heat of each teacher’s spirit serves to open our hearts and minds to new possibilities.

A favorite among Asheville yoga studiosHot Yoga Asheville.

New Years Eve Day 2013 at Hot Yoga Asheville. (One of my faves dead center with the crazy glasses…do you see me hovering behind him?)

YOGA TEACHERS ARE NOT JUST OUR TRAINERS.

Their words can become like sermons or spiritual catalysts to us in our quest to find balance and truth, oftentimes both physical and spiritual. This is why we sometimes find ourselves in awe of a certain teacher to the point of avoiding other teachers. Almost like a high school crush, we keep coming back to their voice and their truth that excites us and takes us to that familiar place where we feel free to explore our potential.  There’s nothing wrong with this admiration. Yet sometimes, when we limit ourselves to only a few of our favorites, we are missing out on the potential to learn from other teachers in different ways.

WHY DO WE GET SO ATTACHED TO OUR YOGA TEACHERS?

The simple answer is that we seek the things that we understand and things that make sense to us, personally. What songs we choose on Spotify, for example, often are the ones we chose yesterday. Hmm, I need to hear a little Norah Jones this morning, we might think as we sip our coffee and ready ourselves for the day.  Or we turn up the volume on James Brown as we scamper around the kitchen making burgers for a barbeque. These music choices shape our mood and guide our stories, just as the choice of a yoga teacher shapes and guides us. We choose to be influenced by specific songs and people, literature, movies, tastes, words. Yet, sometimes, without even realizing it, we could use a different song, a different rhythm, and a different teacher that can awaken us in new ways. Why not break out the Bulgarian Choral music for a change? Or what might happen inside of us if we were to turn off the Norah Jones even when we craved it, and put on the Flaming Lips? At a certain point, it doesn’t really matter what music we put on, as long as we really listen, and discover something new inside the music. The same is true for yoga teachers.Find the epiphanies hiding in the approach of new teachers. Asheville donation yoga is a great place to start.

Hot Yoga Asheville offers donation classes on Saturdays at noon, featuring an array of talented  teachers.  This way you can experience a sampling of different teachers as you explore Asheville yoga. I get excited if I see that one of my favorite teachers will be teaching at a time when I might be able to juggle my life in a way that allows me to make the class. Other times, when I see a window of time that does not coincide with a favorite teacher, I sigh and think, ah well, maybe another day. Yet, every once in a while, I go anyway, and every time, I have learned something extraordinary. In fact, sometimes, especially if I venture out of my teacher comfort zone, I am reminded why I practice in the first place: to inhabit my own body, mind and spirit in a fuller way. “Squeeze your knees together,” said one of these teachers, when I leaned back into fixed firm position, andsuddenly I understood the pose in a whole new way. Each teacher brings their own unique style and presence to the practice, but in the end, yoga is about you and your intentions. Sometimes your celebrity teacher may even distract you from this purpose. I have found this to be true. But don’t take my word for it. Try a new teacher. I almost promise that you will learn something completely new.

WHY I WANT BIKRAM YOGIS AROUND DURING AN APOCALYPSE

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These past few years apocalypse themed movies and shows continue to be all the craze. It seems that every few months another movie based on the end of the world is premiering- The World’s End, World War Z, Resident Evil, After Earth, War of the Worlds, This is the End.. and the list goes on.

As a yoga teacher and practitioner who is the yoga room 10+ times a week I have found myself wondering how practicing yoga can change the world- How the practice of empowering oneself can in turn empower humanity. The famous quote by Marianne Williamson proclaims that “as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

But what happens when the lights go out? What happens when the end of the world comes around, as these popular movies suggest? How will yoga help me then???

Well, here’s my theory. In the case of an apocalypse, I want Bikram yogis by my side and here’s why. For those of you who are unfamiliar, in Bikram Yoga classes the temperature is set to approximately 102-105 degrees. This extreme environment aids in the detoxifying effects as well as helps get the body get limber as we stretch, and helps promote cardiovascular benefits. (For more on the benefits of the heat click here.) But the extreme environment also cultivates a certain type of person, as well as a need for certain supplies. So here are my top 8 reasons why Bikram Yogis are equipped to be my teammates should the end of the world scenario arise.

1. Good with Instruction: In a Bikram class there is a leader or teacher in the front of the class who gives clear and concise commands and guides the students in and out of each posture very specifically. It is a skill to be able to follow voice commands and these yogis are experts. In the case of an apocalypse, I imagine there will be a need for a task force who works together and can work with one leader at a time. After all, too many captains steering a ship and the boat sinks.

2. Clear Headed: Bikram yogis (and yogis in general) are excellent at clearing their minds. In order to create a good escape plan and survive the end of the world we need to be as focused and sharp as possible. In an extreme environment- like that of a Bikram studio- these yogis are able to stay calm and rational (well, most of the time ☺). We learn to use our thoughts in a positive way in order to overcome the obstacle ahead. Definitely useful during an apocalypse.

3. Peak Physical Form: Bikram Yogis are in top physical form. Taking 90 minutes a day to shape, energize and heal your body works wonders for your athletic performance.

4. Water Rationing: In a Bikram class it is important not to guzzle too much water. Thus, I feel confident that if there was a need for water rationing, my Bikram yogi friends would be fair and even in their rationing. We know the value of water and can make an 8 oz bottle last for days! (of course we drink ½ a gallon a day in “real life”.)

5. Yogis are flexible: During my end of the world scenario, there will most certainly be a time when we must retreat to the hills and live in small caves. Being flexible and limber, we could all fit together and keep warm at night nicely.

6. Towels Galore: Bikram yogis come equipped with lots and lots of towels which help them in class to absorb their sweat. While these towels serve a purpose in class, they would serve a greater purpose outside of class. That is- towels can be doubled as bandages in case injuries are sustained during the catastrophic destruction of the world as we know it. (Even the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy requires most a towel.)

7. We Thrive in the Heat: As global warming continues to be an issue, I believe that the added ability Bikram yogis have to maintain and exist in extremely high heat will be beneficial during the day as we seek other life forms and work to recreate humanity.

8. Perfect Match: Lastly, in case all the other people on the planet were to perish and only me and one other person were to survive… and we were the last chance to procreate and start a new world, I would hope that my partner in this task would be an ultimate yogi, in peak physical shape and possess all of the super powers yogis possess.

In short, yogis and yoginis of all sorts would be excellent to have around in case of an apocalypse, but Bikram yogis come with a few extra perks. I would be honored to have them by my side as we traverse the remains from the destruction of the world. So, here I am, off to another class full of yogis, and just in case the meteor (or whatever brings us our demise) hits while I’m in class, I know I’m surrounded by the best possible task force of strong amazing yogis!

TOP 3 REASONS WHY YOGIS ARE THE WORST

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I often peruse yoga blogs, blog commentaries, and yogi Facebook groups which frequently leave me pulling out my hair thinking, “My goodness! Yogis are the worst! So much drama!”

Why is it that for a group of people who are seeking a path toward enlightenment, surrender and acceptance, yogis are so quick to judge, reprimand and be opinionated about… well… everything!? Be it the argument of “My yoga style is better than your yoga style…” Or “That person put their mat too close to my mat…” Or “This studio is better than that studio…” yogis seem to find themselves in the midst of these arguments all too often.

As a teacher, studio owner and yoga student for over 15 years, I have some thoughts on this. I say this lightly and in jest, and by no means count myself out of the group, yet I believe there is reason to look into this further.

Here are my top 3 reasons why Yogis are the Worst:

1. With intelligence and awareness comes ideas, opinions, and in the space of online forums… gossip and drama. Yogis are some of the most intelligent people. We gravitate toward a yoga practice because we seek internal silence. During our yoga sequence, there is no time for thinking, making lists, or over analyzing. It’s just me, my breath and the moment (at least that’s what we are trying to achieve.) People become passive aggressive or just plain aggressive in their comments, while still claiming openness. I see comments like, “I’m not judging, but…” For future reference folks, the “but” invalidates the “I’m not judging part.”

2. More recently, people practice yoga to achieve fitness results and the spiritual aspect of yoga becomes secondary. This is what attracted me to yoga too! However, one of the main pursuits of yoga is to achieve BALANCE between the physical, mental and emotional self.

This goes three ways:
balance

The three categories are interchangeable. So it doesn’t matter whether we are practicing yoga to get fit, or we are practicing to relieve stress and balance emotions, the side effect is more balance- a balance between mind (mental), body (fitness/therapy) and soul (emotions). But, this takes time to achieve so in the meantime yogis are “the worst” because there can be a sense of superiority that comes across as arrogance and narrow mindedness. Thus we are subjected to thoughts and opinions which go unchecked outside of the yoga bubble.

3. Commoditization of yoga and the yoga lifestyle has been fast on the rise leaving us with a false sense of spirituality. We are told by the mainstream media that wearing the best yoga gear (yes, I like my clothes), driving the hybrid car (yes, I have a Prius) and having the right yoga mat or towel (I’ve got a bunch) will enhance our lives and are what make us good yogis. All too often, people walk the walk and talk the talk, but most haven’t gotten to the place of true enlightenment (we do try though). In fact, what makes us good yogis is our ability to keep showing up. What makes us good yogis is the practice of getting back up. What makes us good yogis is our practice of compassion.

So how can we use what we learn through our yoga practice and apply it outside the yoga room?

One thing we can do is recognize that our yoga practice is a microcosm of our “real” life. Everything that happens in the yoga room can be applied to some aspect of outside life. I call this process S.L.A.P. Here’s how SLAP works with learning a new yoga posture for instance.

See the posture and visualize it in your mind
Listen to the instruction
Approach the posture by setting up your body
Practice the posture by doing as much as your body allow.Now apply it to gossip. To move away from gossip and more into balance remember SLAP.
See yourself and notice your thoughts.
Listen to your internal voice and recognize what voice is higher self.
Approach the conversation from an open perspective, or better yet, skip to the fourth step
Practice Dharma not Drama. Turn off the device, or close your lips, and just walk away.And if all else fails, keep it simple! Just SLAP yourself upside the head for your silliness, do more yoga, and try again tomorrow.