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.

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.

FLASH SALE! 8 for $80!!

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This offer is available online only through Monday, November 27th.

Click HERE to purchase!

Please note that this promotion has a couple special considerations...

1. Limit one per member.

2. This pass is valid for 60 days only. Pass activates on the date of purchase.

3. Pass is non-refundable, non-transferable, and cannot be combined with any other discounts.

4. NO EXCEPTIONS

Thank you for making the Shala the vibrant community that it is! 

Namaste,

Shala Teachers & Staff

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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Help Vets Heal

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Help Vets Heal by Andrea Snyder

 November is Yoga for Veterans Month. The Tahoe Yoga Shala and I hope to make a meaningful difference in the lives of military families. We are thrilled to team up with Yoga JournalRobert Sturman, and yoga studios across the country who are offering free and donation based classes to active and veteran service men and women. This is an amazing opportunity and I am honored to have a skill to offer in support of Help Vets Heal and Warriors at Ease. 

Throughout the month of November with Andrea...

Veterans & Active Military practice FREE on Thursdays (except 11/23) from 7:15-8:15pm.

Donation Based Class to Benefit Warriors at Ease on Saturdays (except 11/11) from 4:00-5:15pm. Memberships will not be debited for attendance in this class. 

My first yoga instructor was a veteran and former pentagon employee. He often spoke of the gifts yoga had brought to him over the years. So deeply had yoga transformed his life that he had quit his pentagon job to become a yoga instructor. He was very involved in The Wounded Warriors Project and worked closely to create opportunities for veterans to access the life changing practices of yoga.

I have seen and experienced first hand how beneficial yoga can be to those who suffer from PTSD. It can make all the difference. There is a strong military influence in my family history. My grandfather was in the army during WWII and spent 3 years in a concentration camp. I watched him struggle to cope with PTSD for years. He never really found an outlet. My uncle, his son, was a pilot in The Vietnam War. While he has not had issues with PTSD, he has battled MS since his early 20's (he just turned 70) and is now succumbing to his fifth fight with cancer. He attributes these debilitating health issues to the use of Agent Orange in Vietnam.

For these reasons, and many more, supporting the Help Vets Heal campaign to help veterans reclaim their lives is very important to me. I am so glad to be able to give back to the veterans and active duty men and woman who fight for us everyday. 

Thank you to the Tahoe Yoga Shala community for making this possible. 

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.