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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 

Ditching the Distractions: New Clarity

I know that one of the most fundamental components of practice is to just-do-it. Regarding this philosophy, I like to think about laws of physics; namely the Law of Inertia, which states that an object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion at consistent speed, unless acted upon by an external object. Applied to my experience, this law exemplifies that: changes in my nightly behavior towards peace will create greater peace in my life, and continuance with the status-quo of distraction will lead to greater distractions in my life.
Writing this paper has given me the opportunity to reflect significantly on my experience, and in doing so I am realizing that much of life is actually fairly simple, and to complicate is a conditioned habit. I’m grateful to have this paper as testament to clarity. Thank you for helping to guide me, Susan and Derik! Initiating and committing to growth is, as of today, not easy for me. But it is freeing. Thank you for your time, heart, and for creating space for sharing and listening.

Thicker, Healthier Hair

In the age of the billion-dollar supplement industry it appears that there is a product for every need. But this is not a new concept; nature has always provided us “products” to help heal our ailments. Ayurveda, the sister science to Yoga, has taught people how to use nature for optimal health for thousands of years. The following posts, from one of Axis Yoga’s teacher training students, is a great example of Ayurveda at work. This student used Ayurvedic recommendations to help reverse the hair loss that began after childbirth.

Thicker, Healthier Hair: The Ailment

My Ayurvedic experiment focused upon making my hair thicker and healthier.
Background:
Shortly after giving birth to my daughter I started to notice hair loss and even developed bald spots on both sides of my forehead. Previous to this course, I had tried taking vitamins that promote hair growth in addition to shampoos recommended by my hairstylist, but neither seemed to work for me. The suggestions for the design of this experiment were taken from the Book of Ayurvedic Home Remedies by Vasant Lad.
According to the Book of Ayurvedic Home Remedies, hair (along with nails) is considered to be a byproduct of bone formation. Even though I was aware that the hair loss occurred because of the hormonal changes from giving birth, I read that proper bone nutrition is necessary for healthy growth of hair. For example, if I don’t completely absorb both calcium and magnesium, not only will my bones themselves be adversely affected, but my hair may become brittle, develop split ends, break easily, and even begin to fall out.

Thicker, Healthier Hair: The Experiment

My Experiment:
My experimental timeline was 4 weeks, during which time I focused on two main areas: diet/supplements and massaging hair oils.
First, it was immediately obvious that eating a properly nutritious diet would be vital. Adding more calcium in the form of dairy foods such as cheeses, milk, and freshly prepared yogurt is beneficial for bones and hair. Additionally, I bolstered this diet with a daily mineral supplement containing calcium, magnesium, zinc, among other minerals.
Second, I focused on two specific massaging oils for my hair. According to the Book of Ayurvedic Home Remedies, rubbing a little oil on your scalp each night can be beneficial for your hair. This part of the experiment was run with two types of oil, Bbringaraj oil and Amla oil, graciously provided by one of my mentors, Ms. Susan. Before going to bed each night, I took extra time to oil and massage my scalp. At first, I had to overcome the strange odor and fear of making an oily mess on my pillows. The application was focused on my forehead scalp and then gently massaged gradually to the back of my scalp for 10­15 minutes. Next, to stimulate the scalp, I brushed my hair continuously for 5­10 minutes. The brushing benefits are twofold: it helps improve the blood circulation at the root of the hair which makes the hair healthier as the necessary minerals are delivered to the hair through the bloodstream. Brushing also helps the oils absorb deeper into the scalp.
As early as the third night, I started to notice a tingling sensation on my scalp during my massaging which led me to believe that the process was working! Previously, I would shower daily, but in order to allow this experiment to work properly I decided it was necessary to skip a day or two giving my scalp a chance to absorb these essential oils more thoroughly.

Thicker, Healthier Hair: The Results

Results:
The developments from both diet change and ritually oiling and massaging my head each night have been profound. Not only has my hair begun to look shinier and healthier, but it has begun growing again (and quickly!) Another unexpected benefit of the process has been the deeper sense of relaxation from the ritual at the time of sleep each night, the result of which has been better sleep! In reaction to these markedly positive outcomes, I have maintained this nightly routine even after the length of my experiment period, I really enjoy the nightly scalp massage. The success of this experiment has truly made me a believer and I look forward to testing many more of the Ayurvedic Home Remedies on my own as I encounter them.

Latest and Greatest in Skin Care

The skin care industry makes millions each year touting the latest and greatest in skin remedy products. While some of them may very well make a difference, we also have the power simply in our own self-care to solve many of the issues these products are meant to treat. The posts below illustrate how one Axis Yoga Teacher Training student managed to treat seasonal skin issues through dosha-specific diet and lifestyle changes. The Axis YTT students complete an Ayurvedic experiment as part of the in-depth and hands-on approach taken by Axis’ teachers.