No excuses

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Happy 2015, beautiful Yogis! As the new calendar year begins, a lot of us see this as an opportunity to set goals for ourselves and our lives. And while you can do that any day of the year, there is something magical about January 1st. So if one of your goals this year is to start a yoga practice or deepen your yoga practice, you should know that yoga doesn’t care. This article has been circulating online for a couple months now. I love it because it confronts all of the stereotypes about yoga circulating in Western society.

What do you envision when you think of yoga? When you tell people that you practice yoga, what do they say? I bet you’ve heard “I’m not flexible enough for yoga” or “Men don’t do yoga” or “I can’t afford to do yoga”.  Etcetera, etcetera, etc.  And on some level, these objections are fair. If you look at the images presented to us about yoga and the information widely distributed about yoga, you might think the same thing. If you google images of yoga, you are confronted with images of mainly toned, supple bodies clad in sleek clothing, practicing in exotic locations making seemingly impossible positions look as easy as sitting on the couch. Yoga doesn’t care and you shouldn’t either.  Continue reading

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Meditate as you eat

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Happy 2015!  Welcome guest blogger, Mohan Balakrishan. A gifted and skilled yoga teacher, Mohan will join us to share his knowledge of the sutras and how we can apply them to modern life.  So grateful for him and his knowledge!

Who doesn’t like to eat? Except a few picky kids I have known who resist putting anything appealing and edible in their mouths, everyone likes to eat. I am a foodie at heart and I love eating – a lot and lots of different things. Eating a good meal has always lifted my spirit and puts me at ease. As my grandmother often insisted, the way to man’s heart is through his stomach.

Growing up in Chennai, South India, food was the essence of our culture. Our household revolved around what and when to cook, all 3 meals were equally important with no one lesser than the other.  Be it Finger Millet Porridge for breakfast or pan roasted flat rice bread for dinner; every single meal was special in its own way. Snacks are a whole different story! No matter what the meal or food, people paid much attention to what was consumed and how they prepared it.

Harvested veggies

Most of our food came fresh the same day. We grew herbs, beans, okra, eggplants, peppers, and occasional gourds in our urban backyards.   Dairy, other produce, and meat came from local farms.  The food we ate had much life, nourished, and invigorated us. Spices were abundant and there was neither shortage of fresh seasonings nor methods to prepare one product ten different ways. We treated food with respect – how we grew it and how we prepared it. Talk about Ojas, we had it every meal, every day. Every bit was precious and we considered them divine. Continue reading

Teacher Training, Me? Yes, You!

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Learn how to rock your side plank!

Learn how to rock your side plank!

You may have seen the flyers around the studio – Teacher Training is coming!  Teacher Training is so much more than just learning how to guide students through their practice.  Believe it or not, you don’t have to teach yoga after completing Teacher Training.  If you’ve ever wanted to learn more about the tenets of yoga, delve deeper into your own practice, or work on your personal presence Teacher Training can help you do it.  Whether you participate in the 6-month program or the 21-day immersion, you will learn about the history of yoga, breathing techniques, meditation, anatomy, and so much more!

In addition to learning more about your practice, Teacher Training is a time to build lifelong friendships.  Throughout the program, you will spend time with a group of people who want many of the same things you do and who love yoga.  The love of yoga has a way of bringing people together.  Together with this group you will laugh, support each other, and grow stronger in your practice.  You will discover new strengths and how to lift others up with this group.

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Teacher Spotlight: Meg Smeaton

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Meg and her favorite yoga partner - Bodhi

Meg and her favorite yoga partner – Bodhi

If you’ve ever visited our Lake Norman studio, chances are you have seen Meg’s name on the class list and even had the privilege of taking a class from her. Meg teaches a variety of classes from Basics and Beyond to Gotta Stretch and Strengthen. Compassionate, caring, and genuine are just a few words to describe Meg. Get to know Meg in her own words:

What was your first yoga class as student like?

My first class was in the teacher ‘s home, there were no yoga studios around. I was curious and also a bit intimidated as I did not feel very graceful and all the yoga videos I had watched, all the practitioners looked so graceful.

Describe what it was like to teach your first class.

I was beyond nervous teaching my first class. I wanted to run out of the room and forget the whole thing. I really did want to be a teacher though, so I said a prayer and asked for help to be the best that I can be. Over the years I’ve come to realize that it’s not about me, but about what I can bring to the students. I always pray for guidance when teaching class and attempt to stay open for any clues /vibes  that would indicate what the class needed. The worst thing to teach with is the ego. I believe a good teacher puts the class first and not the teacher’s own agenda. There have been occasions where I have had a challenging class prepared, only to have first time students show up. My main purpose as a teacher is to make sure the student is successful (Rolf Gates’ teaching). Consequently, the class I had prepared gets tabled for another time.

What posture do you enjoy the most/least? Why?

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Why set an intention

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Intention

SCENE: You finally found that comfortable spot on your mat and are beginning to let the stresses of the day go. You’re starting to get the hang of breathing and maybe even the warm-up part of class is feeling good. Then your teacher says something to the effect of, “Take a moment and set an intention for your practice.” An intention, what is that, you wonder? I intend to get through this class without looking like I don’t belong here. I intend to attempt my first arm balance. What else is there? Why do I need to set an intention for my practice?

Good question. I love Deepak Chopra’s definition of an intention: “a directed impulse of consciousness that contains the seed form of that which you aim to create.” Read that again. SLOWLY. Let it sink into your soul and uncover what it brings up. Intentions are focused, conscious, and the beginning of a creation. Much like your yoga practice should be. Using your breath to blend your movements and unite body, mind, and spirit, your yoga practice is a manifestation of your true self. Your desires and dreams start somewhere. They start with an intention.

There are many reasons why we set an intention for our practice. When I think about it, the top three reasons are: 1) To focus the mind; 2) To link your practice to something off your mat; and 3) To add meaning to your practice. Continue reading

Loving the Little Ones

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Charity Auction_1Charity Auction_3

Happy Thanksgiving, beautiful Yogis! As you sit down to enjoy this holiday dedicated to gratitude, I want to say THANK YOU for showing up to support our annual yoga and charity auction to benefit Love the Little Ones.  Together we raised $2000!

Charity Auction_2

In addition to the money raised, you donated boxes and boxes of toys, clothing, and toiletries. So much we were afraid we would have to rent a truck to take it all home! Know that you have made possible many celebrations for children in need. Already looking forward to next year’s event – thank you for all you do!

“Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.” – Eckhart Tolle

Breath is Life

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Breath is life_2

Breathing – how hard can it be, really? It’s something we do instinctively, everyday, even when we sleep. We do it without thinking. And that is perhaps where things get confused. Have you ever wondered why your yoga teacher provides so many breathing cues? Inhale, exhale, breathe through your nose, inhale through your right nostril while holding your left nostril closed – wait, what? When did breathing get so complicated?

Truth be told, breath is life. In his book Light on Yoga, B.K.S. Iyengar describes breath as “the hub round which the wheel of life revolves.” Literally, breath is life. You’ve probably heard the word pranayama in class or in conversation with a yogi when talking about breath. Pranayama is essentially breath control or exercise. By learning to regulate your breath, you can have more control over your thoughts, your emotions, and your practice. Your breath can help control your heartbeat, it can help calm your thoughts, it can help your focus. The simple act of focusing on your breath can help you appreciate life more. Try it – find a quiet space and sit or lie in a comfortable position. Place your hands on your belly and breathe deeply in through your nose. Feel your belly rise beneath your hands. Fill up your lungs with beautiful breath. And when you are full, exhale slowly through your nose, feeling your fingers touch as your belly contracts. Close your eyes and repeat for 5-10 cycles. How do you feel afterwards? Calmer, more awesome? As the holiday season begins and you feel yourself being pulled in several directions and trying to do it all, take a moment and focus on your breath.

Not too long ago, a fellow yogi asked me to join her for a class. She said, “Come, let’s breathe together.” Indeed, being in a room with other yogis and breathing together is in essence sharing your life force with one another. What could be more simple, more powerful? So the next time your yoga teacher invites you to breathe, to make your breath audible, smile and share your life force!

Love the Little Ones

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Love the Little Ones
Hard to believe, fellow Yogis, but 2014 is almost over! As the Holiday season ramps up it can be easy to get lost in shopping lists, preparation, and parties. So before the celebrations and overeating (because you know you will – I know I will!) begin, let’s get together and practice for a great cause. Friday, November 21st, meet me on your mat at 6:30pm at GottaYoga’s University location for a special Slow Flow Yoga class to benefit Love the Little Ones foundation. Bring a child’s item (such as a toy, clothing, game, or toiletry) to practice and share your energy with this organization’s dynamic founders and the children they serve. Following the practice, the fun continues at 7:30pm with a live auction. $5 will gain you access to this fun and crazy auction complete with chocolate and wine. Items for auction include gift certificates, tickets to some great events, and much more! Can you think of a better way to spend the Friday before Thanksgiving?! Join us for a fun evening filled with yoga, wine, and laughter – bring a friend or two and feel free to spread the word. See you there!