My Body is My Medium

Lolasana by  Shelley Zentner

Lolasana by Shelley Zentner

by Laura Josephy

For as long as I can remember, I have appreciated the human body as a form of art.  First through competitive gymnastics and now through the practice of yoga: the kinesthetic has always been my primary medium. The rich palate that the body in space provides is a ritual that guides my attention inward to the subtle realm where sensation, thought, and emotion intersect. Like a book I want to read repeatedly, the idiosyncrasies of the body tell the story of its unique character and wisdom.

I stumbled into my first led Ashtanga Yoga Primary Series class in 2002. I was discouraged by the discovery that students of this method follow a set sequence of postures. My mind settled by a few years of exploring other styles, I returned to Ashtanga in 2005 with a deeper appreciation for the nuances of an established daily practice. I replaced the monotony I initially assumed, with a respect for impermanence. The beauty of memorizing a sequence slowly over time is that the degree of attention that would otherwise be occupied with creating or following a novel sequence, can now be turned toward the internal experience of each pose. The body and breath flowing in tandem, the practice becomes a moving meditation on the somatic experience that plumbs the depths of consciousness and reveals the clear and alert presence at the center of Being.

If human nature plays to its strengths, then Ashtanga Yoga appeals to its blind spots. Sooner or later, the reality of abiding by a set sequence is that all students discover the edge of their physical or mental comfort zone. This seat of friction is an opportunity for awareness and an invitation to do things differently; to respond and not react. Yoga, after all, is a mindfulness training practice intended to illuminate our patterns and free us from deep-rooted conditioning. The yoga mat is a microcosm where the student can explore and experiment with their adjoined physical, mental, and emotional habits within the relatively controlled environment of the studio. How do I react when faced with fear or the challenge of something new? Where do I resist what is? How can I release unnecessary effort? These questions become lessons, which we can applied to the macrocosm of everyday life where the practice of yoga truly begins.

My creative collaboration with Shelley Zentner was born of the intention to bring my experience of the Ashtanga Primary Series to life. When envisioning the Tahoe Yoga Shala’s teacher training manual, it was essential that the energy and anatomy of each pose be represented by images that were educational and inspiring. The combination of the raw and unfinished, with the highly refined and precise styles present in Shelley’s illustrations, draws the eye to focus on the primary action of each pose while simultaneously allowing room for personal expression.

Ashtanga Yoga is a living tradition in that it continues to evolve through first-hand experience. With each original illustration, Shelley depicts the way my body has come to inhabit each pose after many years of consistent practice. It is one, but certainly not the only way, to approach these physical forms. Therein lies the paradox; if in our pursuit of an idealized form we become rigid in our application of technique, it can become yet another external distraction that clouds awareness.  It is my sincere hope that these images will usher yoga students into their personal experience of the practice. Though a visual guide is a necessary tool of learning, it is no substitute for the knowledge imparted through direct perception. We may use symbols and language as direction, but once there, the true nectar is found in being in the moment as it unfolds.


“Art of Ashtanga” Open House & Artist Reception

Sunday, November 3rd from 5 - 7pm

Join us in celebration of the continued collaboration between the Tahoe Yoga Shala and local artist, Shelley Zentner. The Shala and Shelley have teamed up to create instructional fine art drawings of the Ashtanga Primary Series. Each drawing is a study of the poses that comprise the Primary Series and were used as visual guidance in the Shala’s Ashtanga Yoga Teacher Training Manual. Every drawing is an original, one-off artwork, created with charcoal on Stonehenge Archival paper. Admission free. Light refreshments served.

All original drawings will be for sale. Custom prints, the Teacher Training Manual and special edition Full Primary Series charts will also be available for purchase. A percentage of the profits will be donated to local causes and charities to which we feel connected. Advance reservations of specific poses can be made by contacting Shelley at shelley.zentner@gmail.com.

What is it to be a Yogi?

PC: @LOLOANDTHELENS

PC: @LOLOANDTHELENS

by Crystal Woodward

As the Seasonal Yoga Living Immersion I have been imagining draws closer, my mind swirls with creative potential and the imagining turns to planning and action.  What is it to be a yogi? The best place to begin is with your own unique answer to the question; why do I do yoga? To this question there are as many answers as there are shades of a human.  I want to be healthy, lose weight, be happy, heal from trauma, try something new, find peace, experience ease in my body, manage stress and so many other heartfelt desires. Eventually with dedicated and prolonged practice, I believe these intentions lead us to deeper self-awareness.  This awareness begins in our outer most layer, our physical body. If you decide to continue pursuing yoga after this first step, the second, third and subsequent steps arise naturally. These steps become the road travelled on a literal Journey to Self, consciousness and potential moments of divine enlightenment. This journey will challenge and change you, ask you to be honest with yourself and clear the lens of your perception. Would you like to be a yogi on this journey? 

In my upcoming Four-Season Immersion I will share what I have gained on this path and offer you a way to become a living yogi.  Incorporating the elements and seasons in my daily posture, self-care and meditation practices are just a few aspects of the yoga tradition that I have woven into my yogi lifestyle. The Journey to Self is a journey in working on oneself.  To be a yogi first and foremost you need a consistent physical practice. Most of us need a moment to reconnect with and step back into our bodies. This is why yoga is most commonly associated with movement and shapes. The physical movements of yoga are a doorway into awakening the body to the flow of life force energy that moves within and links each shape together in a dance. 

A daily practice gives you an opportunity to check-in each day: how do I feel?  why am I feeling that way? what choices can I make to feel different? Immersion participants will learn two short home practices to balance the energy of each of the four seasons. These home practices become a part of your self-care toolkit. For example, when you have a lot of energy a solar heat building practice may feel inviting. On other days a slower, more lunar practice may feel more appropriate.  Sometimes we just need to rest and restore and on these days we can pull in a Yin or Yoga Nidra practice. The seasons also play a role on the style of practice to which we are most drawn. We are currently in the fire element summer season. We can literally feel the heat surrounding and coming off of us. Throughout the summer months of our journey we align with the water element to support us in maintaining balance.  A fluid and playful practice will help cool and soothe the overactive fire that can lead to irritation and sharpness in our attitudes. 

Much of the self-care we do as yogis is aimed to support ourselves through the continued work of our journey.  Most of these practices are quite enjoyable, full of self-love and leave you feeling good. These self-care rituals involve diet, lifestyle choices and self-study.  Journaling about your daily life routine is a form of self-study we will explore in the Immersion. With an understanding of your typical day you can begin to slowly add practices in support of your yoga journey. For example what changes to your evening routine will support your morning practice?  Do you need to go to bed earlier, get up earlier and/or have healthier lifestyle practice to feel better in the morning? To this routine we add self-love practices like oiling the body, tongue scraping and drinking warm citrus water. I will share just a few practices each season so that you can truly integrate each of these refinements into your daily routine. Something as small as drinking warm water each morning can take time to become as natural and basic as brushing your teeth.

As yogi we get much of our self-care practices from Ayurveda, yoga’s ancient sister science.  Thousands of years ago humans ate fresh seasonal whole foods and learned which foods and herbs could be used for healing.  In our modern age of fast food, preservatives, pesticides and prescription medication, a return to this simplistic way of living can feel like quite a shift!  Throughout the Immersion we will come together and cook a whole food organic meal for each season. By sharing the meal created with our own hands and sitting and talking yoga with other yogis a community is created. We all need allies, yogi friends that understand the awakening you are going through and people to talk to about consciousness and the bumps of the journey.  Trainings and immersions are a fun way to meet like-minded new friends!    

Lastly, the doorway of posture practice may lead you to philosophy and meditation, the primary tools through which we reach for enlightenment.  There are many different ways to approach meditation. We will explore Japamala mantra meditation, walking meditation and Yoga Nidra as techniques for sitting still with yourself, clearing your mind and dive into the depths of yourself. Together as a group, and in small groups, we will discuss yoga philosophy and concepts and continue to inquire into our ourselves, our reasons for practicing and just what this yoga thing is all about!

The Seasonal Living Yoga Immersion begins October 4-6th. This Immersion will offer you a strong foundation to work from and return to again and again on your journey to Self.  Early bird registration rates for the full Four-Season Immersion as well as the single Autumn Immersion end September 6th. Full schedule details and online registration available on the Shala’s website.  Stay tuned for information about free seasonal living talks at the Shala. Ready to learn more? Questions? Email Crystal to schedule a free 20-minute conversation.

Student Spotlight: Amy Carey

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What brought you to yoga?

I gifted myself a membership to a yoga studio for my 35th birthday because I saw yoga as a beautiful way to support my body and keep it strong and flexible for all of the outdoor activities that I enjoy; skiing, snowboarding, hiking, biking, running!  I was living in Mammoth Lakes at the time and felt blessed to have the eastern Sierras as my playground.  What I found in yoga was much more than a way to bring more energy, strength, and agility to my outdoor play.  I found a new way of “Being” in the world centered on the practice of presence and love.      

How did you discover the Tahoe Yoga Shala?

Seven years later I moved from Mammoth Lakes to Minden to start a family with my beautiful husband Cameron.  By that time I had completed a couple of yoga teacher trainings for the purpose of taking my practice deeper, and Yoga had become an integral part of my life.  One of my highest goals after arriving in Minden was to find a new studio space to enrich my life.  The thing that initially captured my interest about the Shala were the variety of class offerings (in particular I was excited to see both Ashtanga and Prana Vinyasa since these were the cornerstones of my practice in Mammoth).  I was also drawn in by the teacher bios and the connection I felt to the website and it’s messaging.  Even though the travel time is around 50 min from my house in Minden, I was inspired to give it a try.  

Brent happened to be teaching the first class I experienced at the Shala and I knew within seconds of the class starting that my soul had found home.  It was such a heart-felt coming home that tears started flowing when I expressed my gratitude to Brent after class.  Of course my tears were met with all of the kindness and compassion I could have hoped for.  Now, a couple of years after that first class, I’ve had the honor of learning from many of the great teachers and fellow practitioners at the Shala.      

How has Yoga Enriched your Life?

I believe that love is the most powerful force in the universe and yoga has provided me with a pathway to aligning with the vibration of love; a pathway to deeply loving myself, and a pathway to deeply loving all that is.  Yoga gifts me with the practice of presence.  From this presence comes the awareness of how my thoughts, feelings and emotions influence every cell in my body.  From this presence come the awareness that I have the power to cultivate what I need from within.  From this presence comes the practice of working with my breath, listening to my inner wisdom, and making moment to moment choices that get me back into alignment.  From this presence come the embodiment of what I choose; and I choose love!  

What advice would you give to a person interested in starting a yoga practice?

Have fun with it!  Make it ‘your’ practice.  Try to connect with whatever it is that keeps calling you back to the mat.  For me it helps to frame practice as a fun journey of trying new things with no attachment to ‘getting it right’.  Sometimes when I am trying something new it can feel a little uncomfortable; physically, mentally, and/or emotionally.  So my advice to myself in those moments is to be willing to try, be willing to listen, be willing to become aware of what is coming up, be willing to have the deeper reflection, and be willing to give myself sincere compassion and love in these moments.  This is what makes Yoga fun for me.  It provides continuous opportunities to practice awareness, gratitude, surrender and flow.  And with practice, it only gets better!  

What do you most appreciate about the Tahoe Yoga Shala?

I love and appreciate so much about the Tahoe Yoga Shala.  I appreciate that my smile lights up when I think about the studio space.  I appreciate that my smile lights up when I think about the teachers.  I appreciate that my smile lights up I think about the community that practices there.  The Tahoe Yoga Shala literally lights me up with love!  

To be a little more specific:  The studio is vibrant and healing.  With its large windows surrounded by nature and beauty, I feel the magic of being outdoors while being indoors.  I appreciate that all of the teachers hold a compassionate safe space for practice and expansion.  I appreciate that The Shala hosts incredible guest teachers and workshops to help students go deeper.  I appreciate the regularly guided practices of singing the Hanuman Chalisa, studying the Yoga Sutras, and Japa Meditation.  And the icing on the cake, I appreciate the heart felt connections I experience with the community that practices at the Shala.   

How do you Practice your Yoga off the Mat?   

My yoga practice off the mat is centered on practicing present moment consciousness and making choices from this state of awareness.  Just like my practice on the mat, it is not about being perfect, it’s about practicing.  For example, when I get triggered by something, I practice staying conscious with how I am feeling and what is coming up for me.  I practice choosing to pause in the moment and call upon my yoga practice.  I practice tuning into my breath and creating space between the triggering incident and my response.  I practice choosing to see what is being reflected to me as an opportunity for growth.   I practice holding my vibration in a state of love so I can respond in a way that is kind, honest and from a place that feels true and authentic to myself.  I choose to practice not going into states of powerlessness or reaction.  This is how I have been beginning to change things in my life and in the world around me: by practicing living my yoga, by practicing living in full alignment with the truth of source love that I am.  

If you were a yoga pose, which one would you be?

Natarajasana:  Lord of the Dance.

Joyfully dancing the dance of life, no matter the obstacles we face.  Choosing to let go of what is no longer needed in order to let in what truly serves.  The courage and strength to choose transformation through love!

Tell us something unusual about yourself - the wackier the better!

Ha!  From my earliest memories I’ve loved playing in my imagination!  I still love it!  I am a dreamer!  And when I go to that place of play, I often find myself talking to all of the beautiful things around me; seen and unseen.  I know…. Pretty wacky!





Donation Classes Benefit Gateway Mountain Center

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The Shala is proud to announce that the Gateway Mountain Center will benefit from all funds raised at its weekly by-donation class every Sunday at 5:30pm. This class is open to all-levels. All are welcome!!

Learn more about the Gateway Mountain Center by visiting their website…

Mission/Vision

Gateway Mountain Center is where youth of all backgrounds Learn, Heal and Thrive. We foster a sense of wonder, connection and inquiry.  With spirited, adventure-learning we help youth transform their self-awareness through connections with self, nature and community.

Core Values

Connection heals.  We look for ways to strengthen connections in mind and body, ignite passions, and engage the joy of discovery.  As systems thinkers, we understand that connecting with the Life Force heals, inspires, and teaches.


Disconnect Is The Problem.  Connection Is The Solution.  

Eco-Literacy. Scientific Inquiry. Mind-Body-Awareness. 

Adventure-Learning. Interdisciplinary. Holistic.

Humanistic. Integrated. Informed. Inspired.

The Power of Sanskrit & The Present Moment

Live in the present. The idea of living in the present moment is a common goal amongst us, especially yoga practitioners. We seek to be more mindful, more aware and look to the practice of yoga to help us achieve this. If we are not worrying about the future or dwelling on the past, then we are immersed in the beauty of the present moment. That’s not easy to do! Our minds are so busy managing work, family, friends and life that finding ourselves really in the present moment is often short lived. The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, tell us that yoga is citta-vritti-nirodhah. Yoga is the quieting of the vrittis (thoughts) of the citta (the mind). The practices of Yoga and meditation teach us how to find clarity, how to become more mindful, and how to connect to our mind through our body.  When engaged in the practice of Yoga we are learning how to live in the present moment. For example, most yoga teachers will invite you to connect to your breath. That simple instruction can help to quiet down the chatter of the mind and offers the opportunity to look inward and truly connect to the present. 

Often yoga classes begin and end with the sound of OM. It is said to be the primordial sound, or the sound of the universe, encompassing all sounds, and all of creation. When we chant OM we connect to the universe, to ourselves and to each other. Chanting OM helps to quiet the mind and come into the present moment. How can such a simple sound have such a profound affect on our mind? That’s the power of Sanskrit. Sanskrit is the language of yoga and meditation; it’s a spiritual, vibrational language. It has the power, like music, to uplift the heart and soul. The sound of the Sanskrit language has the power to put us at peace and learning Sanskrit can teach us how to live in the present moment.  

On June 1st & 2nd I will offer the American Sanskrit Institute's (ASI) Level 1 Immersion at the Tahoe Yoga Shala. The method created by the American Sanskrit Institute uses yoga philosophy to teach you how to achieve present moment awareness. When the senses are completely focused on listening to the sounds, the sight of the alphabet, and the feeling of making the sounds then learning becomes an experience rather than a struggle. At first you’ll become aware of what thoughts (vrittis) are blocking you from experiencing the present. Then you’ll learn a technique for controlling where you place your attention based on the Yoga Sutras. This method has proven to help anyone who wants to learn the language and is a guaranteed way of learning. Even if you’ve never thought of learning Sanskrit, this method can help you to learn and master anything you put your mind to. The experience itself of participation in the Immersion is an experience of using Yoga to truly live in the moment. Vyaas Houston, the founder of ASI, says that learning Sanskrit connects us to the joy we experienced as children. It’s true, the joy and happiness of engaging the sounds of the language in this weekend Immersion can connect you to that peaceful, happy, live in the moment place you are seeking. That’s the power of Sanskrit. 

Learn More and Register Online HERE

Donation Classes Benefit Alpine Watershed Group

Every two months the Shala selects a new local organization to support through its weekly by-donation class on Sunday at 5:30pm. In the months of March and April, 100% of donations made will support Alpine Watershed Group. Cash or check donations only please. All are welcome!!

Mission Statement:

Alpine Watershed Group works to preserve and enhance Alpine County's watersheds for future generations through education, collaboration, and implementation of projects.

What is AWG?

Alpine Watershed Group (AWG) is the community-based environmental organization focused on preserving and enhancing Alpine County's watersheds. For nearly 20 years we have been working to create opportunities for Alpine County residents and visitors to participate in meaningful environmental stewardship programs. We conduct water quality monitoring, implement meadow restoration projects, and educate and engage our community members on promoting watershed health.

Located just south of Lake Tahoe, Alpine County holds the headwaters of five rivers—the Carson, Mokelumne, Stanislaus, South Fork American, and Upper Truckee. The majority of Alpine County is managed by state and federal agencies, with 96% of the county designated as public land. With only 1,200 residents spread over the county’s 700 square miles, Alpine County is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. Please visit AWG’s event calendar to find opportunities to help steward our incredible natural resources.

Japa Meditation

by Crystal Woodward

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Japa is a form of meditation done using the repetition of a mantra, for example OM or om shree maha lakshmi namaha. A mantra is a word or a sound repeated to aid concentration. Typically Japa is practiced using the aid of a mala bead necklace to further direct attention toward a single place of focus, in this case the mantra itself.  A complete mala consists of 108 beads while a smaller mala has 54 or 26 beads.  Malas can be made with various materials but most are include semi-precious stones, crystals or seeds.  A mala is special and sacred, and should be treated as such. The mala should never just be cast onto the floor or tossed in a pile. A mala deserves the care of  something that holds a vibration of our dreams.  Some believe that a personal mala should have a special bag and others should not see your mala. Others believe a mala should be worn around the neck so that the day’s intentions stay close to the heart.  In the center of each mala is a slightly larger bead often referred to as the Guru or God Bead.  The Guru Bead is used to create intention within the wearer and to be a reminder of the motives for sitting in meditation. There is also a tassel at the end of most traditional mala necklaces that lays below the Guru Bead. The tassel is said to represent one-thousand petals of a crown chakra lotus flower.

When a mantra is repeated the yogi can use the sound vibration as an anchor for their awareness that can draw them into a deeper state of meditation.  Mantra can be a great entrance into meditation because there is more happening on the external physical plane to support the mind in being present in the moment; speaking and moving a bead with the hand.  Mantra can be practice aloud, whispering, muttering to one’s self or mentally. It is generally easiest to begin practicing Japa aloud however, it is believed that mental repetition of a mantra is the most potent.  

When you sit for Japa, close your eyes and bring the Guru Bead either to the heart or third eye and pour in your intentions - hopeful and powerful manifestations and prayers for your day. This can also be a time to make associations with the specific mantra about to be preformed.  Holding the mala in their right hand, the yogi begins to circulate the mantra, spinning the bead in each finger as the garland moves.  I find that this spinning is a great meditation tool, when the mind wanders throughout the Japa practice the feeling of the spinning bead in the fingers draws my mind back into the meditation practice.  The right hand moves the garland with the thumb and middle finger. Using the index finger is not recommended as this finger is associated with the ego.  If when going around the whole mala the yogi would like to continue their mantra practice they will hold the last bead closest to the Guru Bead and flip the mala over, to go back over the way they just came, so as never to pass over the Guru Bead out of respect for all of the gurus or teachers.  Traditionally malas and a specific mantra were given to a student by a teacher.  In our modern life this is not always possible.  Go ahead and choose a mantra that speaks to you and feels special to you. If you are crafty you could make one!  When picking a mantra do a little research, know what the mantra means and why you would chose it. If you get stuck, ask a trusted yoga teacher for guidance in choosing your mantra.  Try a few and when one feels right, stick to it.  

Mantra is powerful and we will want to work consistently with only a few mantras at a time.  Yoga is about repetition and practice to get results. Keep at it and begin to slowly add Japa into your daily routine. Start with once or twice a week and practice more often with time. Japa meditation calms the senses. At the end of the mantra repetition, the yogi may find it easier to the sit in silence and meditate in the residue of the vibration.  This is a practice that I have added into my daily routine and has really helped me deepen my meditation practice.  I would love to teach you more about this practice in person at my weekly Japa meditation class.  This class is about 20 minutes long and is offered at no cost. It is held each Saturday after my 9:30 am Flow: All-Levels class at the Shala.  Come to both the Flow class and the Japa meditation or arrive at 11am for just the meditation piece.  I hope to meditate with you! 

Donation Class to Benefit First 5 El Dorado County

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In the months of January and February the Shala's donation based classes will benefit First 5 El Dorado.

First 5 El Dorado Children and Families Commission is committed to strengthening children birth through five and their families by promoting and enhancing comprehensive early childhood systems.

The first years of life are critical for a child’s learning and development. Children raised in healthy, strong families are better prepared for school. 

First 5 El Dorado Commission invests $1 million annually to build an early childhood system to assist families in preparing their children for school. 

Attend our weekly by donation (cash or check only please) class to support this resource in our community.

Ashtanga Improv: All-Levels on Sunday at 5:30pm with Laura

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Why Mysore Style?

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by Annie Davidson

When I went to my first Mysore class, I picked it because the time worked. I had no idea what Mysore meant (although in my American naïveté I thought it meant I might get sore!). I remember Kacey asking me if I had done any yoga before. I said, “Of course! I had done yoga for years and I ‘knew’ the poses.”

Over two years later, I can confidently say that Mysore has transformed my body, mind, and spirit - no joke, no exaggeration. Now, if you asked me, I’d say I am still learning the poses, even the very first sun salutation! I rediscover my body, mind, and spirit every day. I can do things I never thought this middle-aged body could do and still I have so much more to learn. 

For me, the biggest difference - as compared to how I practiced before with led classes - is that Mysore is MY practice. The approach allows me to truly own my practice and this means it has deepened me in every way. I can take it wherever I go - hotel gyms, visiting family, outside, inside.  I am constantly surprised by doing things I never thought I could - like standing on my head for extended time. And along the way I have never been injured or scared off because I get so much support from the amazing, wise teachers who have committed to this journey, too.

I’m deeply grateful to Kacey and Laura for their loving kindness, support and HUMOR in my first two years. I look forward to living the rest of my life with the practice. If you want to explore the universe that is you, step on your mat with the Mysore approach at Yoga Shala.