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

Ayurvedic Self-Massage

Massage is often considered a luxurious indulgence. But in fact, it is an important component of optimal health.  The sister science of Yoga, Ayurveda is a holistic health system for everyday life.  Abhyanga is the Sanskrit term used to describe Ayurvedic oil massage.  Among other things, the oil bath is a traditional Ayurvedic home remedy recommended to reduce excess internal heat particularly in the joints, liver and skin. This heat may show up in the body-mind as impatience, irritability, stiffness in the joints, redness in the skin, insomnia and/or indigestion.  Other benefits of Ayurvedic self-massage impart tone and vigor to the tissues of the body, stimulate the internal organs, increase circulation and decrease the effects of aging.

“In Sanksrit, the word “sneha” can be translated as both “oil” and “love.” In Ayurveda there is an inherent connection between enveloping the body in oil and enveloping it in love. Both oil and love provide a sense of nourishment and grounding. These qualities benefit the entire body, particularly the nervous system, and support the entire being - mind, body and spirit.”

Ayurvedic teachings recommend a daily self-massage, which need only take 15 minutes.  Pattabhi Jois, the Indian teacher who developed and popularized the Ashtanga Yoga method, recommended that students take an “oil bath” once per week on his or her day of rest. I have found it easiest to start this self-care ritual twice a month on the new and full moon day as these days are observed as rest days in the Ashtanga Yoga tradition.   

In India, the oil bath is customarily taken with castor oil.  Castor oil delivers the best results, but can be replaced by organic almond, sesame or coconut oil. You can purchase these oils at your local grocery or via a Ayurvedic lifestyle retailer such as Banyan Botanicals.  Banyan Botanicals offers a variety of specialized oils to support individual constitutions or balance particular conditions.

Here is a simple self-massage routine offered by Dr. Claudia Welch. Try doing this routine in the morning for a vital day, or before bed for a more restful sleep:

  1. Put about a 1/2 cup of oil in a 4 oz. squeeze bottle (I prefer a glass bottle).
  2. Warm the oil by placing the bottle in a mug of hot water.
  3. Sit or stand comfortably in a warm room on a towel. Consider choosing a towel that is dedicated for this purpose because over time the oil accumulation will ruin the towel.
  4. Apply the oil to your entire body.
  5. Massage the oil into your entire body, beginning at your extremities and working toward the middle of your body. Use long strokes on the limbs and circular strokes on the joints. Massage the abdomen and chest in broad, clockwise, circular motions. On the abdomen, follow the path of the large intestine, moving up on the right side of the abdomen, then across, then down on the left side. Massage the body for five to twenty minutes, with love and patience.
  6. Every so often, give a little extra time and attention to massaging the oil into your scalp, ears and feet. Apply oil to the crown of your head and work slowly out from there in circular strokes. Oil applied to the head should be warm, but not hot. Put a couple drops of warm oil on the tip of your little finger or on a cotton ball and apply to the opening of the ear canal. (If you have any current or chronic discomfort in your ears, don’t do this without the recommendation of your healthcare practitioner). When you massage your feet and toes, be sure you don’t slip.
  7. Enjoy a warm bath or shower. Minimize the use of soap, and use only where needed.
  8. Wash the shower/bath area. The shower floor will be very slippery and the drain may be clogged a bit. Scrub the shower area well to avoid slipping and pour a kettle of boiling water down the drain to keep it open.
  9. Rest over the next few hours, avoiding hard work, strong sun and swimming in or drinking cold water. Allow the body and mind to rest and rejuvenate for the coming week of practice, study, work and family life.

For the love of oil baths! ENJOY!!

To learn more about the benefits of Ayurvedic self-massage and view how-to videos visit Banyan Botanicals.

My Ashtanga: Mysore Style Yoga Path

Susan practicing Sirsasana - headstand. 

Susan practicing Sirsasana - headstand. 

by Susan Baker

For me Yoga is more of a path than a journey, I see a journey as having an ending point; a path as a never ending movement forward. My path started by taking a few led classes here and there: Flow, Yin and Hatha.  I loved them all but never felt a real personal connection.  Last January I was invited to attend the four-week "Introduction to Ashtanga: Mysore Style Series."  I accepted the challenge and I am forever grateful for that invitation and decision.

After my four-week introduction I began my path of Ashtanga: Mysore Style.  Mysore Style is more than yoga; it is a personal experience guided by yourself, your breath and your teacher.  This self-practice allows you to move and grow at your own pace (I must admit I was comparing myself to others in the beginning).  I have learned that I am strong, that I am capable of quieting my mind and that I can attain goals I never thought possible. Mysore Style practice is the window into your own personal possibilities.  My favorite experiences have been found in the community of other Ashtanga: Mysore Style yogis, the story telling, the chanting and the encouragement I feel each time I roll out my mat to practice.  I am becoming strong, compassionate, and a believer in peace amidst the chaos.

Consider the next Intro to Mysore Series invitation and you will be so pleased you did...

Learn More About Ashtanga: Mysore Style

Register for the Next Intro to Mysore Series

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The Shala Welcomes Candice Connolly

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As a Tahoe native, I grew up with a deep connection to nature and a desire to be active year round. When I was an adolescent I found solace while meditating in the woods. I often felt a strong spiritual connection that only became more profound as time went on. In the winter of 2008 I began working at Squaw Valley as a lift-operator, which gave me the opportunity to work hard, snowboard, and be active and outdoors almost every day of the week. During this time, waking early and eating well became a much bigger part of my life. The job was not only fun but also physically demanding and at the time I was going through some big life changes. A new friend suggested I explore yoga, crystals, and other holistic modalities to assist in my personal healing.

I began practicing yoga and flow arts in 2009 and was instantly hooked. I quickly developed a passion for the arts and discovering my unique flow. After becoming a mother in 2012, my desire to cultivate a deeper connection with the practice grew. In the spring of 2013 my studies slowly began when I participated in my first beginner yoga workshop series in South Lake Tahoe, CA with Jennifer Ann Fuller at Mountain Yoga. In May 2015, I completed my first 200hour training with Melissa Martinez-Chauvin from We Are One Flow Yoga Teacher Trainings in Reno, NV.

After completing my training I continued to cultivate and deepen my personal practice. About a year later, I felt ready to share with others so I started teaching donation-based classes at a friends Tae Kwon Do Studio. Soon after I transitioned into teaching at my teacher's yoga studio where I gratefully found my teaching voice. One of things I find to be so beautiful about this practice is that each time I teach, I learn. It's truly inspiring to me how much we all have to offer and share with one another.

In May 2016 I participated in a weekend workshop for kid's yoga, receiving a certificate from KAY providing me with lots of fun tools for creating amazing kids classes. That fall I also completed another 100hr training with Melissa through We Are One Flow..., providing me with many opportunities to step out of my comfort zone; bringing me more confidence and wisdom.

I personally practice yoga to connect with myself; body, mind, and spirit. I also practice to connect with others and ultimately with the Divine that is within each and every one of us. My classes are all levels and I enjoy encouraging my students to find a deeper sense of self-love. My trainings are rooted in a blend of Ashtanga Bhakti Vinyasa Flow. I try to always connect breath with movement moving in and out of postures, blending one breath one movement flow along with holding postures for longer. My classes tend to be both playful and relaxing. I like to bring focus on self-awareness by encouraging each student to allow their unique expression to come through their practice flowing with their own breath. I also like to blend in some pranayama exercises and silent mediation sometimes. I enjoy sharing the things that I love; therefore I often share essential oils in my classes, mantras, and at times oracle cards to name a few. This September 2017 I begin massage school at The Bodhi Tree Healing Center and I am so looking forward to the many things that I will be able to incorporate and share with my yoga classes.

I believe that yoga has helped me become more patient and loving on all levels. Ultimately allowing me to live with more presence, awareness and compassion. My hope is that through sharing the practice with others I can ripple out more LOVE and acceptance into the world and assist in the Healing of the whole.

Navaratri: The Nine Nights of the Goddess

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NAVARATRI: The Celebration of the Goddess
Monday, September 25th from 3-345pm with Kacey Davy

Donation class benefitting Sierra Child & Family Services.

Join us for Sanskrit chanting and storytelling…

This class will honor the Goddess with chanting of mantras, flowers, and offerings of food. All are welcome to join in this celebration of the Goddess. 

FREE! Bring a snack and something special for the altar.

REGISTER ONLINE

Navaratri is widely celebrated throughout India and symbolizes a time for internal reflection and purification. “Nava” means nine and “ratri” is night. The first three days are devoted to the Goddess Durgā who symbolizes the destructive and protective aspect of ourselves. Durgā represents the destruction of our inner demons by acknowledging our shortcomings and emotions such as fear, selfishness, desire, and anger. The next three days we honor the aspect of Lakṣhmī who represents our seeking of prosperity in the form of positivity, courage, generosity, and devotion. During the last three days we celebrate the Goddess Sarasvāti who represents spiritual knowledge, wisdom, creativity, and the ability to know our true Self.

Spread the Bhakti Kirtan

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Sunday, October 1st I 7:15 - 8:15 p.m. I Donation Only

Join Laura and friends for a casual evening of devotional music and song.  Our voices are healing instruments of connection, joy and transformation. YOU ARE WELCOME - whether you're a professional singer or prefer to save your vocals for the privacy of the shower!  Chanting is an authentic expression of the heart that helps us wake up to who we are. This is a donation only event.  No one turned away for lack of donation.  Come sing your favorite bhajans!!

100% cash or check donations benefit Sierra Child & Family Services.  

Tibetan Bowl & Gong Sound Healing

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September 27th I 7:30 - 8:45pm I $25 Advance 

Nationally known Sounds True recording artist, educator and author, Diáne Mandle performs an intense transformational sound immersion with ancient Tibetan bowls, gongs and percussion to soothe, inspire and awaken the body, mind and spirit. The concert is designed to relieve stress, enlighten the mind and bring people into a transcendent state of being. Come prepared to lie in shavasana (final resting pose) throughout the majority of class while experiencing the sound healing and meditation. 

Advance Online Registration Highly Recommended - Register Online HERE

Diáne Mandle is an internationally known Sound Healer, Teacher, Recording Artist with Sounds True and Author based in San Diego. A frequent presenter at the Deepak Chopra Center, the Golden Door and Rancho la Puerta, she has been part of the Integrative Therapy Team at San Diego Cancer Center, has presented workshops for cancer patients and oncologists at Sharp and Scripps hospitals and developed and conducted a sound meditation program for incarcerated veterans with PTSD. Diane offers workshops and concerts internationally and operates the Tibetan Bowl Sound Healing School in southern California. She is featured in the upcoming film: Tao: Living in Balance along with healers such as Dr. Wayne Dyer and John Gray.

More on Diáne's Work at: https://vimeo.com/195824528

View a Concert Video: http://youtu.be/jgClpZpFboM 

NPR Interview: http://www.kpbs.org/search/?q=tibetan+bowls&x=0&y=0\

Visit Diáne's Website: www.soundenergyhealing.com

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Teacher Spotlight: Tara Hostnik

Tahoe Yoga Shala Teacher Spotlight Teacher

Name: Tara Hostnik

Practicing Yoga Since: 2005

 1). Tell us about the first yoga class you took. I was in college and signed up for a yoga class through our student intramural program. I wanted to try something new and never expected the practice to become a lifelong passion. I remember feeling awkward and struggled through a lot of the postures. Some of the postures just felt so uncomfortable. What hooked me was the savasana. I’ll never forget how relaxed I felt and I almost didn’t get up!

 Teaching Yoga Since: 2014

 2). What do you remember of the first yoga class you taught? It was so scary! We had to teach to peers in our training program and I wanted everything to be perfect. I remember planning the class and struggling to figure out how to build something to accommodate a diversity of bodies, abilities and preferences. During my training I learned there are so many reasons people do yoga- for strength, relaxation, socialization, building confidence or to lose weight to name a few. How could I possibly impress everyone? The best part was building my playlist and playing DJ. When the moment came to teach, I was so nervous and it took me about halfway through class before I found my voice and felt comfortable. In the end, it was a huge rush and like most things, I impressed myself for taking a risk and trying something I didn’t think I was qualified for or capable of doing.

3). Who/what are your teachers? Why? As a seasonal outdoor educator and traveler for the past ten years I have moved around a lot or lived in isolated places far away from a traditional yoga studio. Thus I never had a consistent teacher outside of DVDs and online trainings. I have visited many studios in my travels, trying different styles and teachers and spent a lot of time practicing on my own. I am inspired by the outdoors and I suppose the natural world plays a large role in my practice (I am always willing to practice outside)! However, my favorite teachers are Shiva Rea and Stephanie Snyder. Shiva’s classes always felt like a dance and I loved her movements. Stephanie’s classes are heart-centered, rigorous and dedicated to building strength which has improved my abilities as an outdoor athlete. Additionally, Troy McPeak of Peak Beings has been a huge inspiration and teacher of mine. He is one of the most compassionate, thoughtful and non-judgemental people I know and my style is highly rooted in his teachings.

4). In what ways has yoga supported or impacted your life? Yoga has been the center for my spiritual growth, emotional health and physical wellbeing. What started as a means for physical health and stretching turned out to be so much more.  I remember while taking my yoga teacher training in Hawaii I was given the chance to try ecstatic dance. In the middle of the vibrant, dynamic and sweaty experience I started to cry. It had been so long since I had danced and was feeling empowered by the training. I was so happy that crying just felt like a huge release, like I was free.  I walked out of the dance hall to journal and process my feelings. I had a few epiphanies that day but one was that I need to aim for joy every day of my life. Yoga has helped me do this and I try to live by this message every day, knowing that some days will ultimately be better than others. But we aim for joy either way. Just like we aim towards a forward fold, crow or into a headstand. It’s all a process.

 5). What does your current yoga practice include? Why? After arriving to Tahoe Yoga Shala I have begun practicing Ashtanga yoga. I am interested in incorporating more breath work, chanting and philosophy into my personal practice and am thrilled to be a part of the Shala’s Ashtanga community. Additionally, I consider teaching as a part of my practice, to share what has helped me in so many ways. I hope to inspire not only a larger yoga community but a healthy one that is rooted in both self-love and love for others.

6). What currently inspires you? To be completely honest, I am absolutely inspired by Tahoe. This place is special in so many ways and I can’t wait to spend more time playing in the mountains and finding little nooks to practice my yoga. I love the community and hope to inspire a devotion to spiritual growth, physical and emotional wellbeing for the people I meet and interact with, either through yoga or other vehicles for health.

 7). What is your favorite season? Why? Mmmm, that is a hard one. I have always loved fall. Growing up in New England, I looked forward to cooler temperatures, fall colors, football season, the start of the school year and falling into a new routine. I was a nerd and loved organizing my new school supplies and being a student. I have yet to experience summer and fall in Tahoe so I suppose I will find out!

8). What secret helps you to maintain balance and stay healthy? I think it’s important to understand what makes you happy. Sometimes being happy means practicing yoga, eating healthy and getting plenty of sleep while other days it might be letting loose at a party or dancing to live music with a cold IPA! Other days it might be going on a solo outdoor adventure or visiting with a friend and engaging in conversation. You are the only person who understands your physical, spiritual and mental wellbeing and you can’t allow the pressures or judgements of society to interfere with following what makes you happy. Don’t feel bad about your needs and pay attention to how certain activities, people or things make you feel. That is what I believe yoga teaches us. It teaches us to pay attention to ourselves on multiple levels and to love ourselves without judgement. If you can integrate what makes you happy into your lifestyle, focus on things that also make you feel good and try not to follow somebody else’s rules, I think you have found your balance.

9). A fun fact most people don’t know about you? I am a huge science nerd and nothing makes me happier than when I get to talk about forest ecology, astronomy or wildflowers to somebody willing to listen.

10). What do you want to share with the Shala community? I am so grateful to be welcomed into this incredible community and hope together we can maintain and grow our compassionate, healthy, inviting and heart-centered group. Namaste.

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 10th & 11th 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 About Kacey's Upcoming Sanskrit Immersion HERE

Spring Ayurveda & Flow Yoga with Rachel Meisler

Bring me your tired, your stressed out, overwhelmed, yearning to recover from injury and live pain-free!  Yoga provides an all-inclusive and welcoming place to work on your issues, whatever they may be.  Perhaps you think about going to yoga class but hesitate because of challenges you’re coping with in your body, mind, or emotions.  Actually, NOW is the only time we have, so this is a great time.  And, yoga is completely adaptable to honor and respect special conditions.  

If you are unfamiliar with Ayurveda, this ancient living science - traditional Indian medicine - is a thriving holistic health care system which includes yoga, nutrition, and lifestyle approaches to healing.  Ayurveda and yoga, hand in hand, offer guidelines for our everyday lives and realistic, down-to-earth practices to improve our selves, relationships, work, and enjoyment; nurture our wellbeing; and promote longevity. 

My Sunday at 5:30pm Flow and Wednesday at 4pm Ayurveda Hatha classes adjust according to needs of the students present and consider the other current states.  These conditions exist on multiple levels: for the individual, the community, planet, and universe.  For example, the weather on any given day is a state that we experience on all of these levels simultaneously.  We may therefore choose a more grounding practice when needed, and a more uplifting practice at another time of day, month, season, year, lifetime, era, or epoch!  This is the essence of the application of Ayurveda in Yoga.  Furthermore, as in any yoga practice, the individual has ultimate power and is encouraged to self-regulate along the continuum of effort, discipline, and surrender, creating unique experiences within common poses.

With springtime’s sporadically warm and cold weather and wet heavy flows of snowmelt, we may feel heavy, lazy, overwhelmed, resistant to change, or in need of a push.  Ignite the fire of a yoga practice to burn off winter’s accumulated toxins and melt away stagnation, breaking through damns of energy to allow the natural flow.  

Perhaps if you are in balance, you notice as the days grow longer, you feel more motivated, curious, or inspired.  This is the perfect time to return to yoga or to begin fresh.  Like a seed buried in the dark earth, fed by the snow, and called by the penetrating warmth of the sun to break open and sprout, we may struggle through the aches of cracking open as we grow.  But it is only via this process of courageous transformation that we are ever able to truly bloom and be our most beautiful selves.  

Yoga is a vast body of knowledge, an ocean of wisdom, with countless approaches, variations, and endless room for growth.  Particularly if you feel stuck in a rut in your life somehow, now may be the time to break from the routine and try something new.  

As both yoga and Ayurveda summon the awareness that we are part of Nature, we discover the heart of our own true being in these traditions.  We begin to live more in tune with the rhythms of the universe, bringing us the sense of fulfillment that manifests in contentment.  We wake up with the sunrise and shift our schedules and activities as the seasons change.

Come as you are in this moment, and open yourself to your great potential.  Give yourself the opportunity for a new life, at home in your own body, to embody your dreams, and not just survive but to blossom and thrive, right now. 

Feel free to contact Rachel with any questions, concerns, for a private class or consultation, or just to talk about yoga over a cup of tea.  You can find her at the Tahoe Yoga Shala or through her website, OceanAyurveda.com.