Posts

Five Poses for the Summer Season!

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

Five Postures for the Summer Season!

Summer is in full swing!

There is so much to appreciate about this season; spending time outdoors, being more adventurous, travel and doing yoga on the deck!

Yoga teaches us that we are not separate from our environment. Our constitution is powerfully influenced by the seasons as is our temperament and disposition.  Certain seasons draw out different aspects of our being. Other environmental forces such as the people we hang out with or the food that we eat also influence us.

Sometimes things get out of balance, we experience disease or distress. One way that we can prevent such imbalance is to adapt our yoga practice to the season.

Summer asks us to be outside and spend time in the heat of the sun.  All of this is generally very healthy though it is important to off set some of this tendency with counter measures; the same way you might do “counter poses” to bring balance in asana practice.

Whether we recognize it our not, the mind and body are already constantly reacting/responding to environmental pressures. Intentionally adapting our practice helps us to adjust to the season in a way that prevents imbalance and promotes our greater wellbeing.

Five Key Cooling Postures:

I encourage you to adopt these postures 3-4 times a week, perhaps even more if you are spending additional time in the heat.  Remove any sense of urgency from the quality of your practice as you dedicate a minimum of 20 minutes to these postures in a room-temperature environment.

 

  • Generally speaking, forward folds are a boon for cooling the body, particularly when combined with longer holds (2-3 minutes).  Simple examples of these postures include paschimottanasana (seated forward fold) and upavistha-konasana (seated wide foot pose).

 

  • Sometimes billed as the “mother of all asanas” I recommend making time for salamba sarvangasana (supported shoulderstand).  Use the support of 2-3 folded blankets under the shoulders when going into the full posture to protect your neck or simple do ¾ shoulder stand in which the legs are not directly over the torso, rather the weight is shift back over the wrists and elbows.

 

  • Balasana, child’s pose.  This is a great pose in general for renewal and quieting the mind, particularly if we stay in it for 2-3 minutes.  Tip! When placing the forehead on the ground see that this skin is dragged down towards the eyebrows as opposed to lifted up towards the hairline.

 

  • Gentle backbends on stomach, such as shalabhasana . Because these postures require some additional effort, it is important to maintain relaxed awareness while practicing them.  

    According to ayurveda and yoga, the navel is regarded as the seat of the fire element in the body.  Generally speaking, poses that put pressure on this region help to “disperse” excess heat from the body.

 

  • Reclined twists.  Who doesn’t love an extended twist at the backend of practice?  Spend about a minute on each side to enhance the effect.

 

The more we practice yoga the more sensitive we become to outer influences and our inner world.  We learn to create balance between these two powerful realms and live in a greater state of integration.  An experienced teacher can give you further guidance about how to best integrate these postures and give additional suggestions.  I encourage you to supplement your practice with these postures to cultivate greater harmony during the summer season.

 

In Peace,

Derik

 

 

Are You Dedicated in Practice?

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

How often do we ask ourselves “Am I dedicated?”

Almost by definition, yoga is limitless.  Yoga helps us live more skillfully in the world and ultimately, move beyond the constraints of an embodied life.

From that perspective, all life experience is an opportunity to practice a yogic lifestyle and mindset.  The art of a yogic life begins when we roll up the mat or get off of the cushion. Formal practice is a bridge into the true test of our day to day interactions.

Generally speaking, the more we apply ourselves to dedicated, regular practice the more integrated our life becomes and we experience a greater degree of fulfillment.  Magic!

However, it is not always so simple.  Life circumstances and distracting habits can undermine our ability to practice.  It’s easy to get “caught up”. No matter how distracting our circumstances may have become, the spirit and promise of yoga is still there, patiently waiting.  It’s like the sun, who continues to shine regardless of how thick the clouds may be.

Here are four tips to help you engage in your practice more fully:

Treat Practice as a Duty

Baba Hari Dass, one of my primary teachers, stated that sadhana (one’s dedicated spiritual practice) is a “duty”.  From this perspective, yoga is less about a positive emotional experience as it is about being inwardly resourced so that we can tend to all of our life-responsibilities from a place of balance, dedication and aliveness.  He emphasized being committed to the process more so than attachment to the fruits of our efforts.

Sustainable Practice

Yoga is more like a marathon than a sprint race -it takes time to mature in the practice.  And like any discipline the more we practice the more adept we become. Consistency is the key.  This equation becomes remarkably simple when we commit to practicing, no matter how small, every day.  This approach will completely eliminate “tomorrow syndrome” and build momentum over time.

Encouragement

Admittedly, there are days when I feel less inclined to practice, days when the warmth of my sheets starts to overshadow my desire to be my best self.  It is in these moments I give myself a nudge by simply reminding myself that I will be much better off for having practiced, that “I will be glad I did it”.

Oftentimes it is the first few steps that are the most difficult and a sense of appreciation soon sets in, having surmounted the proverbial “mind over mattress”.  The next step to get to the sink and splash some cold water on my face. Works every time!

Seek Support

Getting outside support is beneficial for seasoned practitioners and beginners alike.  Support can look a lot of different ways though ideally it entails being in the physical presence of an adept teacher with whom you resonate.  There you will also find and receive the support of fellow and kindred yogis who are also on the path.

Ideally, this happens as frequently as possible.  For those who have an established home sadhana practice, and for whom their teacher lives far away, this could look like making the trip once every six months.

Of course, the proliferation of yoga studios also makes attending a regular class very accessible.  Or consider enrolling in a more advanced workshop, retreat or committing to an extended training.

In Closing….

Yoga, by its very nature, is intended to help us live more embodied lives and propels us to be the best version of ourselves.  Of course, the path is rarely a straight line as we traverse the varied landscape of our lives.  Regular practice with the support of community is the means by which we mature as yogis and bring the teachings into our everyday lives.

 

 

 

You’re Invited! 300 Hour Open House

Come find out more about Axis Yoga’s upcoming 300-hour yoga teacher training. 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!

Click here to RSVP and invite your friends!

When: Sunday, April 22 9:30-11am & Thursday, May 17 5:30-6:45pm
Where: Sixth Ave. UCC – Upstairs (3250 E. 6th Ave, Denver 80206)

 

 

Why Study Yoga Anatomy?

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

Anatomy is the study of the structure and function of the human body, broken down into its parts. Anatomy is the study of the components that create a unified whole.

If you wanted to become a great artist, you would want to know how to blend colors. You would need to know the component parts of yellow and blue, if you wanted to paint something green. If you want to move your body in a complex movement, you would want to know the structure and function of the parts of the body involved in the movement.

For instance, if you were trying to learn that cool thing that good cooks do where they flip the food into the air from a sauté pan and catch it again, someone may tell you “it’s just a flick of the wrist.” Once you start focusing on the little wrist flick you need to create this movement, you find yourself flipping flapjacks with ease. A little anatomical thought goes a long way.

As a kid, when you first start sneaking around or trying not to wake someone up, you are advised to “tip-toe” your way through the halls. At first this is awkward, but the body adapts quickly to the new movement. Learning to ride a bike you are told to “just keep pedaling,” and you’ve just learned a little bit about physics! A moving bike is easier to balance. In P.E. class, if you’ve ever done pull-ups and chin-ups, you may remember that pull-ups (palms facing you) are WAY easier than chin-ups (palms away). This is a straightforward anatomical fact, that you get to really use your biceps brachii muscle in a pull-up. It’s the same reason why all doors open by twisting to the right, or why it’s easier to tighten a screw or a lid than it is to open it (next time you have a lid on a jar that’s REALLY stuck, try opening it left handed! And try not to spill anything….).

Anatomy is relevant to all aspects of life.

You have a body. Any activity you want to accomplish is going to be carried out by your body (except of course in circumstances of disability, in which case your brain is still calling the shots, so neuro-anatomy suddenly becomes really important!).

Anatomy and fitness transformed my life.

There was about a decade of my life when my relationship with my body was one of constant abuse, resentment, and pain. This was while I suffered through drug and alcohol abuse. The only association I had with my body was negative. The only exception to that was using drugs to numb the pain of having a body. This was hell.

Drunk, hungover, shaking and sweating, fearfully I went to a yoga class. The teacher instructed me to do things like “push through the ball of my foot,” “take a deep breath,” or “sit up proud.” I had an experience of feeling like I accomplished something remarkable in that simple class. I made the monumental achievement of doing something positive with my body, and the effect was HUGE. I definitely cried through my sweat a few times, and in that sweet savasana at the end of class.

For the first time in AGES, I experienced a positive association with my body. I was hooked. I went to at least 12 classes in 7 days during my “FREE intro week”. I soon became absolutely fascinated with the amazing ability of yoga teachers to suggest doing some tiny and specific thing with my body, and how it yielded amazingly accurate results. I almost thought they were psychics for a second, the way they seemed to know my body better than I did!

For me, learning more and more about my body, my own chemistry, and about the structure and function of various parts of my body gave me new tools with which to explore the world. It taught me how to move fluidly, and pain free. It continues to teach me new ways to manage stress, and pain. It continues to baffle and inspire me, and make me wonder. It makes me want to share this with others.

Yoga is a process of self-inquiry. We seek to understand our mind better, so we can find a state of inner peace or happiness. When the body is in pain, or it is anxious or depressed, it is nearly impossible to find inner peace. First we must take care of our body.

The amazing thing is – sometimes in moments of deeply concentrated movement and effort, the inner stillness and profound sense of peace and wellbeing just arises from nowhere, like it was buried deep in the knots and tangled fibers of your soft tissues, and just by moving and stretching and breathing and laughing and flowing, this inner peace suddenly springs forth from its imprisonment and overwhelms you with its transformational power.

This is why I study movement and anatomy. It’s a gateway to a subtler understanding of our deep inner nature.

 

Keep moving

-Anthony
Axis Yoga Trainings Graduate

 

The Yoga of Cleansing & Four Tips for Increased Vitality

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

Cleansing has become almost a household word these days. There are many reported and researched health benefits that come from cleansing such as improved digestion, reduced inflammation, dislodging environmental toxins and losing weight.

However, I believe there are even more benefits to be gained from doing a cleanse.

Cleansing gives us access to expanded mental clarity and a renewed sense of inner freedom.  We all have the tendency to eat more from our emotions and habits than our bellies. When we set aside our ingrained eating patterns, we become more conscious of our unconscious habits.

Expanding awareness is a cornerstone of yoga practice, and there are many other yogic principles that we can exercise when doing a cleanse.

The Sanskrit word “tapas ” means “to burn” and refers to austerities or discipline. By restraining our  lower desires and urges, we build a kind of creative friction that gives insight, inspiration, builds character and supports spiritual growth.  Tapas has less to do with deprivation and more to do with creating boundaries that bring forth inner radiance.

Another major theme in yoga is “soucha” or “purity”.  Given adequate support your body naturally wants to return to an optional state of cleanliness and efficiency.

By releasing the accumulated toxic load of ongoing unconscious eating habits we open the gateway for a deeper state of health and long forgotten purity.  It’s like letting go of a “heavy load” we had no idea we were carrying for so long.

Doing a cleanse is less of an exercise in deprivation as it is an opportunity to revitalize your mind, strengthen your will and do a deep internal “cleanse”.  We can access the bodies deep healing capacities by simple removing the obstacles to cure, by eliminating less than wholesome foods and introducing foods that are more conducive to vitality.

Here are four tips to get you started with a spring time cleanse:

1.) Drink hot lemon water in the morning

Get your day started with a refreshing and vitalizing glass of hot lemon water.  It is amazing how this simple beverage will pick you up. It helps alkalize your system, and cleanse your liver.

What’s more, hot lemon water will stimulate your bowels and get things moving.  Many people do not drink enough water in general and making a ritual of drinking this beverage early in the morning is a great reminder of how amazing water is for your health!

2.) Eat at least 2 cups of vegetables a day plus salads

In my naturopathic doctoring practice, many people tell me that they have an aversion to eating vegetables.  They also come to see me with significant health issues, many of which can be greatly offset with dietary changes -such as eating more vegetables.

While your tongue may disagree, your body loves vegetables and rings with satisfaction once fed what it needs.  Eating a sufficient amount of vegetables will also off-set cravings for foods that are far less nutritious or even detrimental to one’s health.

3.) Include a little protein with each meal

Often times sugar-cravings are rooted in not eating a sufficient amount of protein.  If you find yourself feeling hostage to sugary foods there is a good chance you are in need of more protein.  Eating enough protein will help you balance your blood sugar and give you a more even-quality of energy throughout the day.  Getting enough protein also helps you eat less refined carbohydrates.

4.) Try fasting one day a week

Many cultures and spiritual traditions throughout the world recognize the value of fasting as a way to cleanse the body, revitalize the spirit and develop humility and gratitude.  Fasting is also a great way to give your digestive system a much needed rest. Your body will naturally go to work cleaning house with the energy it would otherwise expend digesting food.

Generating the necessary discipline to fast also rubs off in other areas of your life.  It gives you the inner strength to address other issues that you may have been avoiding, freeing up energy that could be spent more productively.

Note: You can still have juices, broths, teas and water while performing a weekly fast.

Finally…..

Try on these simple tips and see what they do for your health and your yoga practice. If you are ready to take it to the next level, consider getting some outside support and supplementation by participating in a 10-day cleanse group I will be facilitating.  Cleansers of all levels are welcome!


In Health,
Dr. Brenna

 

Spring Cleanse

Click here to learn more!

Dates: Sundays, March 18 and 25.  11-12:30

Location: Sixth Ave. UCC – 3250 E. Sixth Ave. 80206

Cost: In the Spirit of Axis’ Mission to make it’s offerings inclusive and accessible, the cost is $108-$198 and includes both meetings, a booklet, recipes, and supplements.

Registration:  Call Dr. Brenna 303-320-1174 |  doctorbrenna@gmail.com

 

 

Mindful Gift Giving 6 Ways

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

Giving in a way that promotes mindfulness take some intention.

It’s the Holiday season. So it’s just natural to be in a state of gratitude and celebration. Our focus is on family, friends….and gift giving. We also find ourselves in the throws of marketing, advertising and frivolous consumption.

How can we remain mindful in this crazy time of year and even in the way we give gifts? While it takes some intention and maybe a bit of planning, it’s possible to give gifts in a mindful manner.

This great article by LC Yoga talks about what mindful gifts are and even gives us step-by-step instruction on how to make gift giving a bit more meaningful.

6 Tips for Mindful Gift Giving

  1. Give to Yourself First – Stay grounded, eliminate stress, don’t neglect your practice
  2. Plan Ahead – Start early, think things through
  3. Give Presents of Presence – create opportunities for connection, spend time together
  4. Share from the Heart – share stories and memories
  5. Personalize It – Making your gift customized
  6. Create Mindful Traditions – Things you can look forward to every year

To read the full article, click here.

 

 

“A Taste of Axis” 200-Hr. Open House Events
Jan. 7 & Jan. 21

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! Click here for more information.

9:30am – 11:00am
Sixth Ave. UCC – Upstairs
3250 E. 6th Ave, Denver – 80206

Free & Open to the Pubic

 

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!
  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. 18

We are pleased to announce a very special guest performance by none other than Denver’s beloved hero of sound healing, Mr. Gary Fishman.  Gary’s “Gong Baths” are extraordinarily soothing and renewing to the entire nervous system.  See more at Gary’s personal website, songs of the milky way. Bring something comfortable to rest on the ground with.

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. 18th.  7-8:30pm  |  3250 E. Sixth Ave. UCC
Suggested Donation ($15-20)

 

4 Tips for vitality through cleansing and detox - Axis Yoga Teacher Trainings - Denver, CO

4 Tips for Vitality



The Yoga of Cleansing & Four Tips for Increased Vitality


Cleansing has become almost a household word these days. There are many reported and researched health benefits that come from cleansing such as improved digestion, reduced inflammation, dislodging environmental toxins and losing weight.


However, I believe there  are even more benefits to be gained from doing a cleanse.


Cleansing gives us access to expanded mental clarity and a renewed sense of inner freedom.  We all have the tendency to eat more from our emotions and habits than our bellies.  When we set aside our ingrained eating patterns, we become more conscious of our unconscious habits.


Expanding awareness is a cornerstone of yoga practice, and there are many other yogic principles that we can exercise when doing a cleanse.


The Sanskrit word “tapas ” means “to burn” and refers to austerities or discipline. By restraining our  lower desires and urges, we build a  kind of creative friction that gives insight, inspiration, builds character and supports spiritual growth.  Tapas has less to do with deprivation and more to do with creating boundaries that bring forth inner radiance.


Another major theme in yoga is “soucha” or “purity”.  Given adequate support your body naturally wants to return to an optional state of cleanliness and efficiency.


By releasing the accumulated toxic load of ongoing unconscious eating habits we open the gateway for a deeper state of health and long forgotten purity.  It’s like letting go of a “heavy load” we had no idea we were carrying for so long.


Doing a cleanse is less of an exercise in deprivation as it is an opportunity to revitalize your mind, strengthen your will and do a deep internal “cleanse”.  We can access the bodies deep healing capacities by simple removing the obstacles to cure, by eliminating less than wholesome foods and introducing foods that are more conducive to vitality.



Here are four tips to get you started with a fall time cleanse:


1. Drink hot lemon water in the morning
Get your day started with a refreshing and vitalizing glass of hot lemon water.  It is amazing how this simple beverage will pick you up. It helps alkalize your system, and cleanse your liver.


What’s more, hot lemon water will stimulate your bowels and get things moving.  Many people do not drink enough water in general and making a ritual of drinking this beverage early in the morning is a great reminder of how amazing water is for your health!


2. Eat at least 2 cups of vegetables a day plus salads
In my naturopathic doctoring practice, many people tell me that they have an aversion to eating vegetables.  They also come to see me with significant health issues, many of which can be greatly offset with dietary changes -such as eating more vegetables.


While your tongue may disagree, your body loves vegetables and rings with satisfaction once fed what it needs.  Eating a sufficient amount of vegetables will also off-set cravings for foods that are far less nutritious or even detrimental to one’s health.


3. Include a little protein with each meal
Often times sugar-cravings are rooted in not eating a sufficient amount of protein.  If you find yourself feeling hostage to sugary foods there is a good chance you are in need of more protein.  Eating enough protein will help you balance your blood sugar and give you a more even-quality of energy throughout the day.  Getting enough protein also helps you eat less refined carbohydrates.


4. Try fasting one day a week
Many cultures and spiritual traditions throughout the world recognize the value of fasting as a way to cleanse the body, revitalize the spirit and develop humility and gratitude.  Fasting is also a great way to give your digestive system a much needed rest.  Your body will naturally go to work cleaning house with the energy it would otherwise expend digesting food.


Generating the necessary discipline to fast also rubs off in other areas of your life.  It gives you the inner strength to address other issues that you may have been avoiding, freeing up energy that could be spent more productively.


Note: You can still have juices, broths, teas and water while performing a weekly fast.


Finally…..
Try on these simple tips and see what they do for your health and your yoga practice. If you are ready to take it to the next level, consider getting some outside support and supplementation by participating in a 10-day cleanse group I will be facilitating. Cleansers of all levels are welcome!


In Health,
Dr. Brenna

 

 

Join Us! October Fall Cleanse

Dates: Sundays, Oct. 8th and 15th, 11-12:30
Location: Sixth Ave. UCC – 3250 E. Sixth Ave. 80206
Click here to learn more!

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