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Finding Center & Spring Yoga Retreat 2017 - Grant, CO

Yoga, the Path of Shadow and Light


 

I like to tell people that yoga is born out of adversity and a deep desire to know the truth.   Yoga is just as much about understanding our darkness as it is about understanding our  light.  It teaches how to navigate the valleys and climb to the peaks; without one you could not have the other.

No matter how much we may try to avoid misfortune or feelings of distress they find a way to creep into our life.  Distress comes in many forms:  a broken relationship, a parking ticket, political change, losing your job, ill health, even death.  It is natural to want to avoid these kinds of experiences.

Conversely,  life can be full of positive and enriching experiences.  This can look like material success or healthy relationships for example.  It is natural to want to covet these types of experiences despite their fleeting nature.

Ultimately yoga encourages us to move past identification with negative or positive experiences and find a source of lasting peace within, unconditioned by outer events.

Most of us are probably not there yet.  Most of us still react unfavorably when the world does not conform to our expectations or get carried away when good fortune comes, secretly clinging to the hope that it will never go away.

How do we navigate the ups and downs of life and find lasting fulfillment?

Here are three suggestions:

1. Personal Responsibility  

Yoga teachings embrace the notion of karma.  Briefly, the word karma refers to the act of doing something (either negative or positive) and the subsequent negative or positive result, all within the same word or notion.

Just as there is an ecology to the orbit of the earth around the sun, weather patterns, and growing a healthy garden, so to there an ecology to our actions.

Nothing in the creation happens in isolation, it is all interconnected.  The fabric of life responds to and influences our conditioning, choices, actions and circumstances.

It is easy to condemn outside forces and neglect asking what our role might be in the situation.

  • “My coworker Fred is the source of all my suffering!”
  • “I loaned all of my money to my mob-syndicate uncle who never paid me back -what a jerk! ”
  • “It’s the president of the United States fault that the world is so messed up!”  (okay, maybe this one is true).

Jokes aside, we are literally at the center of our life experience.  How we feel and think about a situation happens inside of our skin and mind.  The onus is on us to face our circumstances and choose the healthiest actions and perspectives, even if it is difficult at times.  Ultimately, this will set us free.

If we relegate the responsibility of our life to the outside world we are destined to be disappointed.

2. Be Kind to Others

Yoga is no different than any other form of personal enrichment in that it can become a form of spiritual narcissism and we forget about the plight of others.  Everyone else has experienced or is experiencing some form of hardship, it is one of the uniting features of humanity.

This becomes particularly important when working with people who may rub us the wrong way.  How can we clearly see our own shadow in response to their actions, without getting triggered and resentful in the process, thereby perpetuating the cycle of negativity?

I’m not suggesting that you become a doormat or that you should become the next Mother Teresa.  I’m asking how we can create space around an ingrained “Me” orientation, and become more capable agents of good in the world in the process.

3. Regular Yoga Practice

If you have gotten this far in the article, you understand the value of dedicated yoga practice.  As my teacher once said “If you work on yoga, yoga will work on you.”  

Cultivating ‘personal responsibility’ and ‘being kind to others’ does not have to be another hard fought battle. Regular yoga practice helps to foster these qualities so that they come more naturally.

Developing our capacity for great dedication and compassion is a gradual but inevitable process that stems from regular practice.  In order for the practices to work, you have to do them.  There does not seem to be anyway around that.  Developing a home practice will benefit you in many, many ways.  In the quiet of your candle lit basement you will cultivate wisdom and insight.

Practicing with others can also be beneficial.  Particularly when done in a concentrated setting like a ytt or retreat.  Practicing in these environments builds a collective power that is greater than the sum of its parts and can take your practice to the next level.

Conclusion

Learning how to navigate the inner forces of dark and light is a lifelong process of investigation and discovery and requires ongoing effort. Yoga can greatly accelerate that journey and empower us to face what is in front of us and extend positive regard to others along the way. Yoga is a way of life that draws out the very best within us, the fruit of which is lasting peace.

What Does Yoga Say About Life Off the Mat?


 

The Yoga of Not-You

Traditionally, yoga was offered freely in service of the welfare of the whole creation. As students and teachers of yoga, how do we live in alignment with this noble ideal and still pay the bills? How do we live in attunement with yogic principles and fulfill our responsibilities?

Classic yoga offers a method -Karma Yoga.

Most of us are familiar with the word “karma”, it literally means “action”. The word “yoga” refers to a means of spiritual development. Karma yoga is the “yoga of selfless action”.

Typically we perform actions with some degree of self centeredness:

  • If “I” purchase this new car, I will gain great social prestige.
  • If “I” buy this person roses, they will love Me”.
  • If “I” do handstand in the middle of the room, everyone will think “I AM” Awesome!

It is difficult to not get emotionally invested in our efforts, to expect a certain result and become identified with that result. This will result in one of two outcomes; either disappointment or a temporary sense of self-satisfaction.

Karma yoga asks us take a different approach, to set aside our agenda and act impartially, without attachment to the final outcome.

Acting impartially is not to be confused with apathy. As a yogi, it is necessary to perform actions wholeheartedly, just without getting “stuck” or “attached” to the outcome. Perform all actions for the actions sake alone.

Karma yoga has more to do with the spirit in which we perform actions and has less to do with the outer circumstances surrounding our activity.

One could be working in Mother Teresa’s ashram in Calcutta, tending to the needs of destitute people, all the while thinking about how awesomely selfless they are, and miss out on karma yoga. Or, perhaps someone acts as a farmer who tills the earth in service of the people who will eat the food, accepting a “good” or “bad” crop with equanimity.

The main idea is to recognize any ingrained selfish motive when performing actions and dedicate all actions in service of the highest good.

Application

Just like asana practice, karma yoga is a practice. Karma yoga gives a point of reference in which we can bring the spirit of yoga to all of our actions (including practicing and teaching yoga). It will shine the bright light of self awareness into our activity and can be practiced at every moment.

It does not have to be perfect from the get go – it rarely is.

Learning how to recognize our own motive and choose to live in a universal way is an ongoing process one that will bring greater peace to the world and, in the great cosmic equation, benefits all (including you 🙂

 

200 Hr. YTT Open House – Aug. 13

Come find out more about Axis Yoga’s ongoing yoga teacher trainings. This will be a great opportunity to experience a class, meet graduates, get your questions answered and get a taste of what Axis is all about!

Sunday, Aug. 13, 2017    9:30-11am
Sixth Ave. UCC – Upstairs
3250 E. 6th Ave, Denver – 80206

10 Tips on Choosing a Denver Yoga Teacher Training


The Top Must-Ask Questions Before Choosing a YTT

 

Some have called Colorado the mecca of yoga. And as the popularity of both yoga and Colorado as THE place to live 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.

Below is a list of 10 must-ask questions you can use to evaluate the programs you are considering. The answers 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.

Download and print the comparison worksheet here 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. 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,

Derik Eselius
Founder, Axis Yoga Training
Denver, CO

10 MUST-ASK Questions Before You Pick A Program in Denver

  1. What is the size of the training class? Ask what the capacity is for their typical training class and if they fill that class to capacity. Take a moment to consider how you would feel being in a class of 20 versus a class of 60+. Ask to talk with the primary teacher about the level of individual or personalized feedback they will provide on your practice, teaching, sequencing, and other assignments. Smaller classes allow for more customized instruction. The way you are received as a prospective student will reveal how you will be treated once in the class. If the teacher makes time to address your questions, that’s a good indication they will value you as an individual rather than simply someone on their class roster.
  1. Is the program certified? Ask if the program is certified specifically with Yoga Alliance. Yoga Alliance has become the authority in the yoga world and most all legitimate yoga teacher training programs are registered with them. In all honesty, it may be tricky to find teaching job after graduation if you haven’t attended a Registered Yoga School (RYS) and obtain the Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT) designation, all affiliated with Yoga Alliance. As a member of Yoga Alliance, you have the opportunity to receive valuable member benefits and resources such as health insurance, liability insurance, educational webinars, and more. Even if you are not sure you want to teach, it’s better to enroll in a program that will allow you to so if you choose. To ensure you can get your RYT designation upon graduation, verify that a prospective program is listed as an RYS on Yoga Alliance’s website.
  1. Does the program offer on-going support after graduation? This is important (though all of these questions are important)! Attending an intense 3-month yoga teacher training really can and will change your outlook on life in addition to giving you the skills to go on , if you desire, to teach your own classes. If after training, you’re kicked out of the nest without on-going support available, or access to the teachers you could end up stuck or wondering what to do next. Before you sign up for the training, make sure you ask, after the training, can I email my teacher questions that arise about my own personal practice and about how to go about starting to teach. Are there additional “booster” or “refresher” classes or even retreats for graduates that I have the opportunity to attend? Is there an online “alumni” community that I can be part of?
  1. What is the style of the training? Knowing what style(s) of yoga will be taught will help you narrow down your search. While demonstrating respect for the broad tradition of yoga, the program should focus on one or two particular approaches that resonates with you rather than providing a sampling of every possible yoga style. Keep in mind the notion that being a jack of all trades means becoming a master of none. On the other hand, consider whether the program’s teaching certificate will make you a well-rounded instructor who can teach in a variety of settings, or whether you will only be qualified to teach a branded, scripted class in a particular location or for a particular company. Yoga is diverse in how you approach it. Some programs may focus on the Asana more exclusively than others. Determine what is best for you.
  1. How long has the program been established? With so many yoga teacher training programs popping up in every city (Denver is flooded with them), it’s important to know how long the program has been in existence and even approximately how many graduates the program has produced since it’s inception. The longer the program has been around, the more likely it is that they have grown, learned and matured over the years to produce the highest quality curriculum. Like with any course or curriculum, it takes some trial and error to work out the kinks. It also takes time to respond to the needs and feedback of the students they are serving. In addition to asking how many graduates have completed the program, a follow up question would be if they survey their graduates and take action steps to apply that feedback to make the program better.
  1. What is the culture of the program like? Understanding the culture of the yoga studio will help you get an understanding if you and the program are a good fit. Just like finding a new job or attending a university, cultural fit plays a role in your decision. Is the yoga teacher training program a large part of the focus of the studio offering it, or is it something they do on the side as an added stream of income? Is the program offered by a large national chain or a smaller company local to Colorado? Is their culture more community-based or corporate focused? More importantly, ask yourself will you feel more comfortable in a close-knit group or in a large, sprawling network.
  1. What does the curriculum consist of? We already asked about the styles of yoga taught, but it’s also good to know the various elements that make up the program’s curriculum. Are a variety of benefits of yoga discussed (physical, mental and spiritual)? Is the program holistic and comprehensive? Will you be learning a combination of traditional theory, meditation, Pranayama (breathing) and Asana (postures)? Is there a list of required reading? Will there be guest speakers? Is there just one teacher or multiple? Having a well-rounded program that uses a multi-faceted approach to teaching brings depth to your training and practice as both a yogi and teacher.
  1. What prior experience is required before the training? As a person interested in becoming a certified yoga instructor, you may come from a variety of levels in your own yoga practice. From being hooked after only taking a handful of classes, but wanting to learn all there is to know about yoga and its benefits. To having practiced for many years and wanting to deepen that practice and take it to the next level. A big part of knowing if a specific program is right for you is understanding if they have any requirements or prerequisites. If a program requires no previous yoga experience for applicants, this may raise a red flag. It could mean that you will receive a less-thorough education because your teacher trainers will need to spend more time instructing newer students in the basics of alignment and technique. Getting a clear idea on the program’s expectations of you before signing up can either set you up for great success or failure.
  1. Is the school fair and upfront with their pricing? Price is often one of the biggest variables when searching for the right yoga teacher training program. However, if the answers to the previous questions aren’t right for you then price really doesn’t matter. Choose quality over affordability. Most 200-hour teacher training programs range anywhere from around $2,000 – $5,000. Some schools have additional costs for workshops, makeup classes, manuals or even guest speakers. Find out all fees that are associated with completing the program so you know what your true cost will be, and be sure the program has their attendance, pricing, and refund policies in writing.
  2. What do graduates say? Word of mouth and referrals are a very powerful thing. What better way to know what a program is all about than hearing it from those that have experienced it themselves? Read the testimonials on the program’s website, research reviews on Yelp and even go as far to see if you can reach out to a recent graduate to hear their experience first hand and point-of-view. If you have the opportunity, ask a former trainee what their personal transformation was like and what they decided to go on and do after graduation.
CLICK HERE to download a full PDF version of this guide along with a comparison worksheet to help you as you research local training programs.


200 Hr. YTT Open House – Aug. 13

Come find out more about Axis Yoga’s ongoing yoga teacher trainings. This will be a great opportunity to experience a class, meet graduates, get your questions answered and get a taste of what Axis is all about!

Sunday, Aug. 13, 2017    9:30-11am
Sixth Ave. UCC – Upstairs
3250 E. 6th Ave, Denver – 80206

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 

The Unfolding of Yoga

Sometimes it just takes one small change to trigger a series of healthy transitions.

This is something Axis Yoga Teacher Training students have the chance to experience first-hand. The following student committed to adding a short Yoga practice to the morning routine and soon experienced the desire to make other healthy changes. This all resulted in better awareness of what the body needs and a commitment to continue making positive changes. Axis YTT students prove over and over again, every journey really does start with one small step!

The Unfolding of Yoga: Starting Small

I have a tendency to aim higher than I can jump, so for my Ayurvedic experiment I decided to keep it simple. My goal: To do just ten sun salutations, the eight Kriyas, and some meditation every morning. This turned into other things as well – drinking water with lemon every morning, as well as meditating before bedtime and avoiding screen time in the hours of the evening. The hope: that my energy throughout the day would be more focused and that I would be able to use some of that energy to keep my life more organized.
I have always loved mornings, so setting aside time for me first thing in the morning has been lovely. I rearranged my room so that I have a place – a very small place, but still – to do my yoga and meditation, and, as a result my room stays more organized. My energy throughout the day is much more stable – part of that may also be due to the fact that I don’t usually feel like I need to drink coffee after my morning practice, so my caffeine intake has dropped severely. This doesn’t mean that at first I didn’t want to just keep drinking coffee anyways – but that I noticed I didn’t want it as much, and then made an active decision to stop consuming it. The same goes for alcohol – not that I was much of a drinker anyways, but it has come to my attention that even drinking on the weekends once in a while (which so much of our culture finds totally acceptable) is detrimental to the rest of your week.

The Unfolding of Yoga: And Growing

Something else I noticed about having my own personal practice was that I felt more of the ‘side-effects’ of yoga than I do when simply attending classes. Although I attend some of the same classes week after week, they are never at the same time every day, and they usually don’t start until around nine in the morning. Not to mention the task of getting ready to leave the house- getting up and having my asana space there and ready made ‘getting to yoga class’ incredibly easy! Once I got into the rhythm of practicing every morning that is.
I will admit that at first I had trouble with that rhythm! And tried to rationalize myself OUT of doing my practice – well, I’ll go to class at nine anyways, or, I’ll just do it tonight after the gym, that counts, right? But after I started noticing how much more aware I was during the day, and how stable my energy was afterwards I wanted to practice more. And more and more things begin to grow out of this one little change – I wanted to stay away from TV before bedtime, I wanted to be outside more during the day, I started walking to the grocery store (which is so close to me I can’t believe I wasn’t walking there before) just to be out in the sunshine in the morning. I have always tried to be aware of my hydration, but through this practice I begin to drink a big glass of room temperature water with lemon in the morning, and to stay away from icy cold water during the rest of the day.

Moving, Mothering and Mindfulness

One of the key components to Yoga is mindfulness. As this Axis Yoga Teacher Training student realized, mindfulness can be a simple act that creates complex shifts. Mindfulness can include observation and gratitude when things are calm. It can also bring about self-awareness when times are messy; such as moving across country and parenting a small child as in the account below. In this way we are able to grow and work towards experiencing life as our true Self.

Moving, Mothering and Mindfulness: Tangible results

The self-care I participated most often in was tongue scraping and oil swishing. It took about a week of sesame swishing before I decided to give almond oil a try. I discovered I not only enjoyed the latter oil more, but also it called my attention to a perhaps not-so-hidden little character trait known as ‘ambivalence’, but that’s a whole other experiment. My mental state as of late has included a heightened reactionary response to any and all bodily sensations or changes, and so I discovered a daily tongue analysis might not be the best thing for me. I did however begin seeing an acupuncturist regularly during these past three weeks and am working towards letting some of the fear of the unknown go. If ama is sticky and yellowish-white, I’m happy to report I haven’t pulled much of anything of note from my tongue since that first morning. Day one was the first time I’d ever scraped my tongue, and although I didn’t collect much, I’ve had less than that first scraping every day since. About 5 days into the oil swishing and for the first time in what felt like forever, I didn’t lose a single drop of blood while flossing. That surprised me because I didn’t expect such tangible results so quickly or perhaps at all I came to realize. Now nearing the end of week three, my mouth feels more sensitive than usual, and I wonder if it isn’t the new rituals combined with bringing some actual awareness to this part of my body.

Another interesting experience I’ve had since starting this experiment is observing some of my long-standing habits, primarily of the mouth, beginning to change. I have a proficient background in wine and wine drinking with what I thought was an innate and unwavering love for red wine, but wouldn’t you know it, I haven’t touched the stuff in over a month. The current Colorado climate makes it less appealing to me, or perhaps it’s my pitta keeping me in check? Alcohol in general doesn’t seem to be holding the same space in my life it did just weeks ago, also coffee has been another no-show in my diet as of late. I’ve never been a multiple cups a day kind of gal, but it can be hard to come between my morning café au lait and me. It seems my caffeine habit has gone AWOL, replaced with a steamy blend of hibiscus + green teas, and a generous teaspoon of honey I can’t seem to give up. Meat is another food group that looks unintentionally different these days, simply said it doesn’t appeal to me in the same ways it did a month or so ago. While talking with some classmates about this recent change, I realize I’ve never really eaten a lot of meat, only recently after having my son and a change in our family schedule did meat show up in the nightly dinner rotation.

In an effort to calm my imbalanced vata dosha and having finally found a home to call our own, I also tried (in vain) to get a dinacharya going these last couple of weeks. Although I’ve been unsuccessful in making too much stick, I have begun to include myself in my son’s routine, which I think is a step in the right direction. Instead of feeding him and either disregarding my own hunger or waiting until a less convenient time, we are now eating breakfast and lunch together. Also, some afternoons while he naps I take the time to give myself a coconut oil massage before a quick, non-skin searing shower. Or I’ll burn a jasmine scented candle while reading a book or writing. One might think that these little bits and pieces of self-care wouldn’t really add up too much, but for me it has. The practiced bits of self-care in the morning have begun to spill over into other parts of my day and life. I’m finding I now rarely seek to distract myself at meal times and not with regularity but more often then ever before I now make efforts to wind down appropriately at bedtime. Which for me means less time ‘getting lost in the feed’ or watching stimulating television. And legs up the wall or a warm bath and taking the time to oil my feet and scalp have absolutely helped my quality of sleep. I’ve even begun to add a few lighter colors, blues and whites mostly, to my usual black clothing rotation, and I’m finding it helps me to feel more physically comfortable.

Moving, Mothering and Mindfulness: Sowing Seeds

All in, the positives of this experience have far outweighed the negatives. There is of course plenty of work still to be done and opportunities for practice and growth at every corner. Self-regulating consistency is not my strongest suit and my natural tendencies toward anger and irritability are still alive and well within me, but I’m learning to navigate these familiar waters more effectively via mindfulness and anticipation. For example, opting out of a power-walk drenched in black clothing and the hot Colorado sun days before my cycle begins. And so I believe that this experiment as well as my time thus far in YTT has planted some real seeds in the soils of my life most desperate for nourishment, attention and care. With so much change and newness surrounding me and in addition to learning more about yoga, Ayurveda and the doshas it feels like I am absolutely at the beginning of something wonderful, while in the same breathe like I’m returning home to myself in some ways. I am grateful to this experience and to these seeds, may they continue to help me to grow strong stalks of which to bear abundant fruit. Namaste.