woman in dog pose in a yoga studio

 

“Why is peace unprioritized?”

I shared this question with my current teacher training students over the weekend.  They looked equally appreciative and puzzled.

You would think that the desire to live in harmony would be greater than the urge for affliction.  Yet somehow that does not appear to be the case.

Like many noble pursuits, peace can easily be dismissed as fanciful, a hangover from the counterculture movement, or even a sign of weakness. Peace is not in keeping with the status quo, a tide of stimulation usurp its place.

“Why is that?”

Years ago, when I first met Baba Hari Dass, someone asked him “how to develop personal discipline?”

His response:

“Climbing is hard, slipping is easy.” 

 

The words still ring true decades later and epitomize why peace is not the priority. It takes deliberate effort to develop positive qualities and the temptation to deviate can be strong.

The impulse to be impatient or disregard the needs of the whole may come more habitually and with greater urgency.  It takes far more energy and thoughtful consideration to create a building than it does to destroy it.

In short, cultivating peace requires dedicated self-reflection and effort – to swim against the current shortcomings and climb towards a noble pursuit. And it can be often far more convenient to choose otherwise.

Full confession, I have had seasonal allergies for years; itchy eyes, stuffy nose, and sneezing attacks, the full deal. As a yogi – someone who places a premium on self healing – it was a point of consternation.

Historically, I’d adjusted my yoga asana practice (to include more inversions) to address it, but had minimal results. Natural supplements did not do the trick either.

This season, and last season, I decided to dedicate myself to a path of self healing and implemented simple ayurvedic remedies for allergies. Ayurveda is the ancient healing science of India that grew up side by side with yoga.

Ayurveda is the ancient healing science of India
That grew up side by side with yoga. 

According to ayurveda, allergies (along with many other ailments) stem from accumulated toxic build-up, called ama, as a result of poor digestion. The treatment is quite simple; reduce ama.  This can be done through a deeper cleansing process (called shat karma) or, more immediately, through diet.

Here are the basic guidelines I follow.  I find it easier to negate certain foods and eat what remains, which will inherently be nourishing.  Ayurveda has a lot to say about diet but here are the basics:

  • Typically it helps to have a 4-6 week dietary reboot before the actual allergy season hits.  “Prevention is Supreme” as they say in ayurveda. All the same, these simple changes will make a change, it just may take a little longer to reverse the cycle.
  • Remove sugar, dairy, gluten, caffeine, and alcohol
  • Maybe start by reducing one or two and phase others in once you see the value of the preceding changes
  • Start by removing sugar and dairy (then gluten)
  • Additionally, I find it helpful to brush my teeth immediately after eating to reduce any cravings.  You can also integrate turmeric shoots for their anti-allergy properties and for general anti-inflammatory properties.  The bitter-astringent taste also reduces cravings.
  • Dandelion greens are good anti-allergens as well, which you can probably get from your backyard.

”Prevention is Supreme.”

Changing one’s diet can be a tough pill to swallow but inevitably turns out to be worth the sacrifice.  In this case, the payoff was increased energy, eliminating allergies, and a sense of empowerment – I can heal myself through my own choices and actions.

Of course, a dedicated yoga practice will also help the cause.  Consider taking a class (online).  I happen to be offering a meditation series that you are invited to attend.

Details:

  • Wednesday and Friday, 7:30-8:10am
  • Zoom link provided upon registration
  • = Donation Based =

– REGISTER HERE

Yoga Has Pulled You Through Hard Times

It’s always fascinating to hear how people got into yoga.  For some the process was quite gradual. For others it was a more immediate and affirmative knowing.  “I did not even know it was possible to feel this way!?”

For others the road to yoga may have been more rocky and could generally be classified into one of five ways.   Perhaps you see yourself in one or more of them:

For others the road to yoga may have been more rocky and could generally be classified into one of five ways.   Perhaps you see yourself in one or more of them:

  • A Traumatic Event: For some this was a difficult divorce, ending a significant relationship, or an accident. Something has changed their lives forever and they can’t go back to how it was before. Yoga has provided shelter, healing and renewed hope and they want to build on that foundation and perhaps teach others.
  • Burned Out: Whether it’s being a social worker who is continually exposed to the plight of so many, a parent or caregiver (or just an over-giver) many people come to us depleted.  The stress of “trying to keep it all together” has become too much. Maybe they are looking for a career change. They may also come to us in malaise or even depression. They are ready to fill their cup for a change (and not feel guilty about it).

Life challenges seem to persist and yoga can be an antidote.

  • Wound Up: Others have come to us with unwanted anxiety, a stressful job,  feeling trapped, questioning if they will ever “be enough”, or generally frustrated with life.  Knowing how to regulate one’s emotions is a skill that can be developed with practice.
  • Physical Situation: a persistent health issue, sports or dance related injury, body image concerns, or general bodily discomfort. While we won’t promise any miracles, we are here to support one in feeling greater ease and vitality in one’s own skin.
  • Conscious Life Shift: Some have felt lost and without a compass. Others have overcome an addiction, a career change, a recent move or some other big life shift.   The timing seems right and they are ready to mature spiritually and finally do that teacher training they have been waiting for.

Regardless of the issue, yoga has provided some refuge and strengthened them, even healed them.  Maybe that’s you.
If it is, and you’re considering our Denver based yoga teacher training, here’s some of what we’ve learned over the years about who our programs are best suited and who they are not.

 

I remember taking a for-credit yoga class at my university in the early 90’s. We dissected the postures and every so often, the teacher would throw out a yogic pearl of wisdom. Somewhere about mid-quarter, I remember her saying “asana is a very small part of yoga practice –just the tip of the iceberg.”

It seemed strangely paradoxical: as we explored the postures, she diminished them at the same time? If the result of asana practice felt so wonderful and transformative, how could that be only a small fraction of what yoga was?

Eventually I took her statement to mean that asana was one among many different modalities that generated the effects of yoga practice. However, I was still using asana as the standard by which all ‘yogas’ were to be measured. Breathwork, meditation, and all other yogic modalities seemed secondary.

As the years went by and I continued to study, her statement stuck with me and began to take on a different meaning. Not only were there many methods for approaching yoga, but the the potential for experiencing yoga also deepened. All of the methods were in support of a much greater understanding about oneself and one’s relationship to all of life -the spirit of yoga is/was far greater than one’s ability to increase their bodily range of motion.

At its utmost expression, yoga is union of individualized consciousness with Universal Consciousness. That consciousness is the bottom of the iceberg that resides far below the surface of physical “reality”- even beyond mental, self-referential, preconceptions about our identity.

The postures are a means to much greater end. How exactly do the postures play into the journey of yoga will be the subject of our next blog. Namaste.

 

Catch a glimpse into an experiment in progress by one of the Axis Yoga Teacher Training students.

The following posts describe how this student adopted some new habits and changed some old ones in an effort to finally deal with chronic allergies and asthma. With the help of Ayurveda and Yoga this student, like many others, discovers their own power to effect change and healing in all parts of the body.