5 ways to invigorate your om - deepen your practice - axis yoga Denver

5 Simple Ways to Invigorate Your “OM”

Axis Yoga Trainings of Denver, Colorado - Yoga Teacher Training 200-Hour Program

These 5 things will elevate your OM and revolutionize your practice

Historically, yogis believed that there was an inseparable relationship between yoga and sound/sound vibrations.  Since the earliest ages the sages chanted devotional hymns, meditated on the sound of chakras, and recited mantras -traditions that live on into this day.

Perhaps you have experienced some of these practices yourself within the modern day gym or studio.  Or, if nothing else, are familiar with the practice of chanting AUM (also spelled OM).  Many core concepts are imbedded within the sound of OM that are integral to traditional yoga.

To begin, AUM or OM is regarded as the vibrational undercurrent that underlies all of the manifest creation, the background reverberation that echoes the Big Bang, the sound of the universe.  With repeated practice, we can get a hint of OM’s greater cosmology or, if nothing else, experience the inherent peace that accompanies the sincere repetition of the sound. While an earnest, even reverent approach to chanting OM will magnify its power, there are also some technical aspects to uttering the sound that will also amplify its potency.  Here are five tips to enhance the power of OM in your personal practice:

5 Simple Ways to Invigorate Your OM

  1. Phonemics
    First, OM is commonly chanted in one in one of two ways, as indicated by the two ways in which it is spelled.  In the case of the most frequent spelling (OM) the sound is rendered very much like it is spelled O-M.  (According to Sanskrit rules of grammar the A and U sounds collapse into one another to make the O sound).  From the tantric-yoga perspective, the sounds are more distinct: A as in “car”, U as in “soup”, and M sounds more like the vibrational-drown of a bee.  Either pronunciation will suffice.
  2. The Mouth – An Instrument of Infinity
    Being the genesis of all manifestation, OM is regarded as the sound that contains all sounds.  There are a number of schema that describes how this process works the simplest of which is the trajectory of how the sound directs itself through the mouth. The A sound begins in the back of the throat, it then fills the cavern of the mouth with the U sound and finally closes at the lips with the M sound; thereby covering the entire spectrum of potential sound as expressed through the mouth.  Integrate this understanding the next time you express the sound of OM.  Bring your conscious attention to how the entire range of the sound travels from the back of the throat to the lips, articulating each sound along the way.
  3. The Spine – An instrument of Awareness
    The same methodology can be applied to extending the sound from the base of the spine and up and out of the crown of the head. According to the yoga tradition, the spine is the axis of awareness. There are many forms of meditation (such as meditating upon chakras) that utilize this principle to cultivate expanded states of consciousness. In this way, one can direct the sound of A from the pelvic floor to the navel, the U sound from the navel to the throat and finally the M sound through skull and up and out through the top of the head.  Try it!Denver Yoga Teacher Training Yoga Event - Gong Bath at Axis Yoga
  4. Loose Yourself in OM
    You can incorporate either of these OM expanding techniques to the practice of AUM-Kar or the successive, unbridled repetition of OM.  This is best practiced with a group of your fellow yogis.  The rules are rather simple, chant OM as many times as you can!  Each individual chants OM at their own pace, creating a symphony of voices as the sound of each chanter overlaps with one another.    At some point, the sound will naturally subside, leaving a palpable stillness and calm.  If you are a teacher, consider doing this practice in your next class, or practice with home with friends!
  5. Essential Silence
    It is essential to pause and immerse yourself in the resounding silent echo of the sound to fully appreciate every aspect of OM.  The silence after chanting this sacred syllable is actually consider to be a fourth sound called turya, which simple means “the fourth”.   Turya is the all subsuming, transcendent aspect of PM – beyond time and space.  The sound returns to is origin, which it never left.  Immerse yourself in the peace and stillness!

The sound of OM and its primal, elemental qualities are accessible to anyone.  Consider both the technical, emotive and spiritual aspects of chanting it as you move deeper into its significance and meaning.  You have nothing to loose and everything to gain 🙂

 

 

Sonic Gong Bath for Healing and Renewal   – Nov. 19

Join Denver’s very own master Gong Bath musician, Gary Fishman, on a vibrational journey of serenity and renewal. Fishman powerfully blends indigenous instruments, such as planetary gongs, Tibetan singing bowls, and didgeridoos.  He also integrates the use of dazzling crystals and stunning stones as part of this cosmic journey of sound and vibration.

Any and all are welcome to attend this interstellar voyage of cellular renewal.  Bring something to lye down on such as a blanket, a yoga mat or some combination of the above. Click here for more information.

Saturday, Nov. 19th.  6-9:30  |  3250 E. Sixth Ave. UCC
Suggested Donation ($10-20)

 

Discover How Sound Impacts Your Yoga Practice – 6 Benefits of Ujjai Breath

Axis Yoga Trainings of Denver, Colorado - Yoga Teacher Training 200-Hour Program

The Importance and Benefits of Ujjai Pranayama

The audible rhythm of ujjai pranayama or ujjai breath serves to give feedback as to the quality of our effort and, more importantly, provide a thread of concentration that carried us all the way to the end of class.  Attentively listening to the sound of the breath is enough to begin to draw us deeper into our practice and give us access to the yoga of sound.

It was Richard Freeman, the famed Ashtanga Yoga teacher, who first introduced me to the potency of sound as an instrument of yoga.  After nearly two hours of high power heat and asana, we found refuge in shavasana, a return to silence.

Richard gently coaxed us out of our trance like absorption of corpse pose, with the deeply primal, humming resonance of a Tibetan singing bowel.  The sound was a bridge between inner and outer world -we were being beckoned back to our earthly existence.

Richard regularly began his classes with students lying on their backs, knees bent, with feet on the floor.  He then instructed us to gently constrict the back of the throat, so that the air would rub across it and produce a soft audible whisper, something like wind through the trees, or the sound of the sea.

From a tantra-yoga perspective, there are four stages of sound.

Three of these stages precede gross auditory forms of sound. According to this tradition the entire Universe is set in motion by a deep current of vibrational pulsation called adya-spanda, which precedes the formation of material objects.

The most dense form of sound is the spoken word, called vaikhari.

This is the realm of sound that most of us consciously occupy.  None the less, it is possible to affect deep changes in our psyche through deliberate changes in vaikhari.  Anyone can appreciate the quality of influence of listening to the drone of competing voices at a social function and the trance-like melody of kirtan.

Entire yoga systems, such as laya yoga (the yoga of sound and chakras), kirtan (bhakti yoga), nada yoga (the yoga of inner sound), and mantra yoga (the ritualistic application of mantra) are built around the manipulation of sound vibrations.

Denver Yoga Teacher Training Yoga Event - Gong Bath at Axis Yoga

All of these systems are intended to attune us to a higher reality through specific sound currents.

While many of these sound based systems may seem out of reach, you have no further to look than the sound of your own breath to begin to discover the ability of sound to inform your practice.  One of the simplest ways to begin to infuse your practice with sound based awareness is through the ujjai breath. Ujjai tells us when we need to surrender into a resting posture, as the breath should remain almost as smooth in dynamic postures as in resting poses. It allows us to practice honesty, taking a step back to let go of our ego. Here are some additional benefits:

6 Physical Benefits of Consistent, Focused Ujjai Breath

1. Releases tension and tight areas of the body

2. Creates endurance that helps maintains the rhythm of the class

3. Decreases pain from headaches and sinus pressure, and strengthens the nervous and digestive systems

4. Heats up the core of the body making stretching safer while cleansing the inner organs of toxins

5. Improves concentration and balance in your physical practice

6. Diminishes distractions allowing for a more grounded practice

 

Sonic Gong Bath for Healing and Renewal   – Nov. 19

Join Denver’s very own master Gong Bath musician, Gary Fishman, on a vibrational journey of serenity and renewal. Fishman powerfully blends indigenous instruments, such as planetary gongs, Tibetan singing bowls, and didgeridoos.  He also integrates the use of dazzling crystals and stunning stones as part of this cosmic journey of sound and vibration.

Any and all are welcome to attend this interstellar voyage of cellular renewal.  Bring something to lye down on such as a blanket, a yoga mat or some combination of the above. Click here for more information.

Saturday, Nov. 19th.  6-9:30  |  3250 E. Sixth Ave. UCC
Suggested Donation ($10-20)

 

The ONLY Way to Know If You’re Doing A Yoga Pose Correctly

What makes a yoga pose an authentic yoga pose?

Here are several answers to this question. Can you guess which one it is?

A.You look like, and are able to smile like, the model on the cover of Yoga Journal

B.You are one of the elite few who can do handstand in the center of the room

C.You are hyper flexible, and therefore able to go deeper into the poses

D.You actually present and attuned to whatever posture it is that you are doing

 

The answer is D!

As a yoga teacher I sometimes hear would be students say “I would like to try yoga but I am not flexible enough”, as though the ability to touch one’s toes were a prerequisite to the practice.  The assumption is that success in yoga can be measured by one’s ability to bend.

Even dedicated practitioners can fall into this assumption and miss out on the deeper purpose and potential of any given asana.  In fact, it is possible to seemingly grow more and more proficient at yoga poses without ever actually practicing yoga.  If our practice is motivated purely by external appearance, than we are missing out on a fundamental aspect of yoga.

Many can attest that there is an implicit value in the postures, that is not to be discounted.  And, let us consider that the postures, along with other even more sophisticated yogic methodologies, are a means to a much greater end -Union with one’s inborn spirit.

While this may sound very lofty, it is something that can be gradually discovered and ultimately realized.  The postures can be a means to begin to approach this ideal provided we are practicing with the correct orientation.

The crown jewel of both asana and meditative practice is awareness-itself.  How attentive are we to the quality or pranic essence of our breathing?  Attuned to the quality of the vital breath, are we able to make fine adjustments to the body to accommodate a more compete experience of the breath itself?  How do subtle or overt changes in our breath affect our mind?

Through this detailed process of repositioning or repatterining of the breath, body and the mind through the postures, new neuro-pathways are built and the yogi experiences deeper and deeper levels of peace and perception.

The Sanskrit term for the joining of breath, body and mind is triputi or the uniting of three energies.  Bringing these three aspects fully to bare on the physical pose greatly magnifies the power, potential, and inborn wisdom of any given posture.

From this perspective the ultimate goal of asana is not to contort oneself into the most exotic position, but rather, to use the posture as a fuel for developing inner awareness.

Using the posture as a tool to become more conscious of ones breath, body, mind, spirit connections the essence of yoga practice is brought to life.

JOIN US! OCTOBER 16th EVENT

This month we are hosting an exclusive community yoga class in Denver that focuses on this topic of authenticity in yoga poses as well as “Asana and the Gateway to the Inner-World.” Join us on Sunday, Oct. 16th from 9:30-11:30.

Click here for more information.

Asthma, Allergies and Ayurveda

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.

Asthma, Allergies and Ayurveda: Herbs

For my Ayurvedic experiment, I chose to attempt to alleviate something more physically immediate that was plaguing my existence: allergies. I have struggled with allergies, asthma, and eczema my whole life. I was always trying to figure out what was causing it but with very little effort into truly trying to understand the why’s and what’s of the cause and just hoping it would miraculously go away some day. I lived in Hawai’i when from ages 3-6 and I seemingly had no allergies there (except to cats). We moved to Florida right before my 7th birthday and that is where my struggles began. I would have frequent asthma attacks and needed to be hooked up to a nebulizer in order to breathe. It was miserable. I seemingly grew out of it but have noticed recently that perhaps I haven’t grown out of my asthma and allergies as much as I’d thought.

This experiment has led me to speculate that perhaps my asthma is allergic asthma. While my focus was not so much my asthma, the two are very much interrelated. I began taking the following herbs for Pitta and Kapha allergies: 8 shatavari; 1 guduchi; 1/4 shanka bhasma; 2 sitopaladi; 2 yasthi madhu (licorice); 2 turmeric; 2 coriander. I have been taking ~2 tsp once a day with warm water since March 20th. The first week was a little bit of a struggle, as I missed 3 days of taking it due to forgetfulness. I strongly dislike the feeling I get when I haven’t held up my end of a deal and told myself I need to figure out a way to prioritize it so that I don’t forget. I have found that taking the ~2tsp once a day during my morning routine is most effective for me.

At first the taste was not as bad as I was expecting. It reminded me of the end of a cereal box, where all of the grainy sugar and sweetness lies, except minus the sugar. It tasted slightly sweet, which I appreciated (as I gravitate towards such things), but swallowing was a little difficult. I could feel every grainy piece of the herbs I was taking. The first time I took it, I tried to just open my mouth, drop my head back, and dump the herbs on the back of my tongue to avoid any sensory displeasure. This technique backfired as I inhaled and simultaneously drew the herbs into my lungs and erupted into a coughing fit of regret and annoyance. I learned my lesson. It has now been 8 consecutive days that I have taken the herbs everyday without forgetting. I don’t feel that I have that much to report on in the way of results, but I can testify to the other doors that have been opened for me during this process.

Asthma, Allergies and Ayurveda: Marijuana

As I mentioned before, I have been more able to discover more about my condition, what exacerbates it, and what I may do to calm it or control it. I am a huge proponent for the positive effects of using marijuana. As a CrossFit athlete, I put my body under intense bouts of stress. I lift heavy weights, and try to complete metabolic conditioning movements as fast as I can. Marijuana is something I have been using daily for several years (about 4 years) and it helps my recovery tremendously. I noticed that it also eased some of the anxiety and restlessness that came along with my college graduation. I have noticed that for the past several months, as my allergies have been acting up more, that metabolic exercise has been tremendously more difficult for me. I have so much phlegm and mucous that it literally makes it difficult to breathe. When I am in the middle of a workout and I have to stop because I can’t breathe and am approaching a moment of asthma panic, it is disheartening. It makes me feel that my inability to breathe is keeping me from reaching my goals and it feels unfair.

My Ayurvedic experiment is actually several different experiments all rolled into one. One overarching theme I have begun is to be more mindful in everything that I do. I have never been someone who has paid attention to anything that I wasn’t interested in or willfully trying to learn. I am a daydreamer and one of my biggest flaws is that I don’t listen (my moon is in Pisces if that helps a better picture for you. AKA – Space cadet here!). Being more mindful has been an uphill battle. It is really difficult to change something I didn’t even realize I was doing. This experiment has made me realize that as much as I love smoking marijuana for all the positive things it brings to my life, perhaps it is not serving me in the same way anymore. I have decided to take a two week break from smoking marijuana (as of April 2nd), which I may extend to a month or even longer if I discover that I don’t need it as much as I thought I did. I am really trying to pay attention to how that can serve me right now in alleviating my allergic asthma and allergy symptoms.

Asthma, Allergies and Ayurveda: Sadhana

Another mini experiment that is all part of this broader experiment is changing my routine. For years, literally years, I have been truly wanting to change my morning routine, to not have my phone be the first thing I look at in the morning, to not lose 3 hours of the start of my day to Facebook and Instagram. I wanted to get up and practice yoga, start a meditation practice, read a book, do something that was going to enrich my life in my day to day. As part of my Ayurvedic experiment, I have also taken up tongue scraping, oil pulling, neti potting, and meditation on a daily basis. I realize that I am always so eager to experiment on my body in ways that I can control: food, allergy, hygiene, etc. These are all physical experiments that affect my perception of myself. What I realized is that I have been resisting making internal changes and putting forth the effort of doing things that seem hard or boring, which gave rise to my sadhana practice.
I began my sadhana practice on March 21st and have only lost one day to forgetfulness. Hearing that “no effort goes to waste” in our class presentation on meditation inspired me to always just try and to keep trying. I have been practicing sadhana every morning for 10 minutes as the last piece of my Ayurvedic morning routine. This morning I incorporated nadishodhana (my favorite of the 4 purifications) and increased my time to 15 minutes. I definitely felt the extra 5 minutes, but have seen positive changes from my daily practice.

Asthma, Allergies and Ayurveda: Change

I have made strides in being the observer and the observed. I have discovered that the Axis Yoga Teacher Training program has given me the extra push and support I needed to make those changes. I have come leaps and bounds from where I was 5 years ago, spiritually, mentally, and physically. I have made strides on my own that have positively affected my relationship to myself and to others and have helped shaped a more free, connected, and positive view of the world around me. Axis has given me support to pursue those changes I have been waiting to make and given me a community to be accountable to in the most enriching way. I am so grateful for this experience and am excited to keep applying what I am learning for more growth and understanding for myself and those around me.

Denver’s Free Guide to Evaluating Yoga Teacher Trainings – Free Guide & Worksheet

Denver's Ultimate Guide to Evaluating Yoga Teacher Training Programs with Studio Comparison Worksheet10 MUST-ASK Questions Before You Pick A Program in Denver

Some have called Colorado the mecca of yoga. And as the popularity of both yoga and Colorado have grown, the number of certified yoga teacher training programs have skyrocketed. A quick internet search will turn up dozens of training programs throughout the Denver-Metro area. But it can be challenging to determine which yoga teacher training program is right for you.

To help make this process easier, we have created a free guide to Evaluating Denver’s Yoga Teacher Training Programs that includes 10 must-ask questions and a bonus worksheet you can use to evaluate the programs you are considering.

The answers to these questions will not only narrow down your search, but will also help guide you to the training program that meets your specific needs as a yoga practitioner and future yoga teacher (if you choose to go that route).

A representative from the Denver program that you are considering should be available via email, phone or even face-to-face through open house events. If you are having difficulty getting your questions answered, this could be a sign that the program may not be a good fit.

Print and fill out the comparison worksheet at the end of this guide to help make narrowing down your selection easier. With the answers to these questions, you can find the Denver yoga teacher training program that best aligns with your values and aspirations.

Remember that the benefits of your training will feed you well for the rest of your life, far beyond the length of the program. I’m excited for you and the amazing journey you are about to embark upon. Namaste.

Click Here to Download Free Guide to Denver’s YTT Programs + Bonus Worksheet 

Ditching the Distractions

Yoga gives us time and space to hear ourselves, to feel our emotions, to connect to who we are apart from the distractions of our world. This isn’t always comfortable. Many times it’s easier to gloss over unwanted thoughts and feelings rather than to connect and process them. The following posts were written by an Axis Yoga Teacher Training student who decided to confront this discomfort in order to create change. As part of the YTT course, students experiment with chosen Yogic and Ayurvedic principles. With the instructors’ guidance, these experiments allow the students to feel first-hand the impact simple changes can have on daily life.