Posts

Develop a Home Practice

How Do I Develop a Home Practice?

In an age of unprecedented amounts of distractions, it’s no wonder that so many people struggle with having a regular home practice.

How to start?  Ideally you receive instruction from a qualified teacher who gives a specific method and guidance based on your particular psycho-physiological constitution. Pranayama (breathing practices) is a vital component of getting the mind to be less rebellious and able to focus.  The fellowship of fellow practitioners (satsang) is also very supportive.

Though less ideal, people also turn to meditation apps such as Headspace, and Rod Stryker’s Sanctuary for instruction.  There are plenty of online resources for asana practice as well. Start with the first step. Postponing, or just thinking about a regular practice will not have the same effect.  

A regular home meditation and/or asana practice marks the transition from being a yoga student to becoming a yogi. A yogi is someone who recognizes their limitations and has taken ownership of their evolution. They see the value of regular practice and make it a priority.

Doing 10-15 minutes of meditation a day is an excellent start. Practicing asana for 20 minutes is also beneficial.  Ideally one can dedicate a half hour to an hour on a daily basis. It does not have to be all or nothing.

Deepen Your Personal Practice And Teach

Four Steps to Deepen Your Personal Yoga Practice and Become a Yoga Teacher With Depth:

Step #1: Be Inquisitive & Expand Your Options

Mainstream yoga focuses on the postures.  However, the potential scope of yoga is far more encompassing. A individual yoga practice is essential to your success as a student and a teacher.

I suggest expanding your options and be open to learning about other yogic modalities. Personally, I feel drawn to personal yoga practice that is rooted in tradition and I offer students the full scope of methodologies.

After some exploration into the deeper, often ignored world of yoga, you might realize that what you really want is to be an ayurvedic practitioner and help people with nutrition and lifestyle rather than teach asana classes. You may find that you really resonate with bhakti yoga (the yoga of devotion), or want to emphasize meditation in your personal practice.  Yoga has so much more to offer beyond the poses. 

There are many possible ways you could ‘do yoga’ in the world.

Step #2: Find and Learn From a Teacher You Resonate With

You can read my in depth thoughts on the ethos of being a teacher, but I thought I would share some of the most essential aspects here as well.  Not all teachers are equally knowledgeable.  Some teachers will leave a much greater impression than others.

The teacher is there to guide the student on a journey from misperception to seeing themselves and life more fully.  They provide a living, embodied example of yogic principles and are also knowledgeable about the particular methodologies that best suit each student (including asana).  Of course the student is responsible for doing work, the teacher simply provides guidance.

In assessing a teacher see that they have a seasoned understanding of the various methods and also demonstrate a regard for the greater welfare as opposed to just themselves.  Personally, having a teacher who is deeply attuned to the spiritual aspects of yoga is essential.


What is it that you are looking for in a teacher?

Step #3: Be A Dedicated Student

We believe that effective teaching is rooted in being a dedicated student.  Teaching then becomes an organic extension of your committed practice.

To say it another way: if you aren’t a dedicated student you have no chance of becoming a teacher with depth. Your personal practice is the foundation for the house of your teaching. 

Of course this same line of thought also pertains to your personal relationship with yoga.  If you practice on a daily basis your mind and body will seamlessly adapt to a more complete version of yourself.  It will happen naturally.

Regularity is the key. Practicing a little each day, or on a regularly scheduled occasion is more effective than “stop and go.” Consistent practice builds momentum over time and eventually takes on a life of its own.

Developing a personal yoga practice is a little bit like growing a tree, at first you have to be very diligent to make sure it gets enough water, nutrients and sunlight.  You may also have to put some kind of barrier around it to prevent it from getting stepped on or eaten by insects. Eventually the tree comes into its own, is able to fend for itself, provides shade, fruit and intrinsic beauty.

Being a dedicated yoga student entails both regular practice and natural curiosity.  As you learn and apply new methods and self reflect on their effect, you discover how to shape your experience of life towards one of less fear and towards more joy.

I suggest that students build a dedicated practice and find delight in it also.

Step #4: Create a Strong, Deep, Personal Practice
Dedication is an attitude. Your personal practice is the laboratory in which to apply the attitude.  Like any craft, the more time you spend with it the further you progress.  If you want to master the violin, you need to practice.  If you want to get better at painting, then practice. The same applies to yoga. The only way to receive the benefit is by regular practice.  In order for the practices to work you have to do them.

The Cornerstone of All Yoga Practice

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

Prana & Breath – Part I

Most of us know yoga through the postures. Perhaps we have even heard the Sanskrit word “prana” mentioned in class, though this is the exception to the rule. Traditionally speaking, the pranic-force is fundamental to yoga practice (including the postures) and is as essential as sunlight is to a plant.

The word itself is commonly translated as “vital-force” or even “the breath”.  Prana is a much larger idea than that. A more literal translation of the word means “the first breath”. It is the first, primal, all pervading, energizing force of the creation. The sun is imbued with prana, the plants and animals possess prana, the air is rich in prana.

The ancient yogis readily perceived this pranic energy and found ways to maximize its influence on our physical health, mental clarity, and spiritual development. Many of the techniques that are commonly used today, such as asana, pranayama, and even meditation are built around pranic principles (whether we actively recognize it or not).

The very namesake of ha-tha yoga, the system of yoga that is the genesis of many modern poses, references the mind and its relationship to prana. “Ha” literally means moon, and “tha” means sun. The moon, due to its waxing and waning nature, is the emblem of the mind. The sun, due to its singular life-given radiance, is in reference to prana.

Hatha yoga, is the union of the moon and the sun, the mind and prana. Hatha yoga emphasises the skillful use of prana to expand consciousness within the mind and ultimately, beyond the mind. Through specific breathing techniques or pranayama, we can affect specific states of mind; states of mind that are more conducive to deeper states of peace, joy, and fulfillment.

In the coming three-part series we will explore the intimate relationship between prana, breathing, and the mind and provide useful tips on how to work consciously with the breath at the Beginning, Middle and End of your asana practice.

 

 

 

200 Hr. Yoga Teacher Training

Our Spring training begins on Feb. 13. CLICK HERE to learn more and to enroll.

Yogis Don’t Need Resolutions

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

Break the Mold of Traditional “Resolutions”

Welcome to a New Year yogis!

As we set new intentions, goals and visions for the next 12 months let’s all agree that we can ditch the word “resolution”. Many people equate “resolution” with trying to change some behavior for a while, only to be met with inevitable egoic disappointment.  The whole notion behind “resolutions” is that there is something wrong with us, that we are defective, and need to make some kind of big, overnight change to become complete.

I’d like you to consider, or at least hold the possibility, that you are enough.  Yogic teachings tell us that there is an aspect of our being that is already complete, already whole and inherently perfect.  Rather than getting down about all of our seeming shortcomings, begin by acknowledging your inborn radiance and divinity.  Your Soul.

The tradition goes on to tell us that the soul has both a higher and lower nature, the paratman and jivatman, respectively.  The journey of life is the journey of aligning our higher and lower natures.  There are many yogic methods for uniting our higher our lower aspects, one of which is  the notion of sankalpa.

What is a Sankalpa?

A sankalpa is a vow or commitment we make in support of our highest truth.  A sankalpa can also be an expression of either the paratman or the jivatman so long as it resonates with the deep quality of truth.  One is not necessarily better than the other, though the general path of yoga is to draw closer and closer towards the paratman.

As we navigate our way through life we will inevitably encounter material and intra-personal obstacles that will force us to act on behalf of our lower or higher natures.

How will you approach these obstacles?  Who and what will you reference?

A sankalpa is like a compass, it tells us which direction to move in as we face the terrain of our lives.

As we face the terrain of the coming year, I invite you to reflect upon who you are becoming.  Is there some dormant, higher aspect of yourself that you are willing to cultivate, even in seemingly small ways?

If your resolve is more material, start there, the voice of the jivatman has a legitimate place on the path of yoga, just be mindful of where that voice is coming from.

Be inspired by new possibilities rather than egoic, fear-based feelings of inadequacy.

Here’s to a fulfilling and prosperous year! – Derik

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)

 

Yoga Resolution 9: Share Your Practice

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

Shout it from the rooftops!

Yoga Resolution #9: Share Your Practice

 

Welcome to a new beginning!

Congratulations on making it to the final installment of our nine part series on setting our intentions for the new year!  I hope the series has been enlightening for you and has helped to propel you into a powerful new direction in 2017.  Living into your resolve is an ongoing process that can extend well beyond the length of this series.  Living out your soul’s purpose can be the journey of a lifetime!

9 yoga resolutions for 2017 to ring in the New Year - Axis Yoga Teacher Trainings of Denver

Most if not everyone participating in this series has some sort of yoga practice.  I encourage you to maintain the momentum you have started, and continue your yoga practice as we take the next bold steps into 2017!  What aspirations or dreams are you living into?  What sort of support are you receiving?

As we wrap things up, I invite you to plot out your next bold step in the coming year and put some stakes in the ground.  What can you commit to now that will continue to propel you into the rest of the year?  What can you aspire towards that will give you inspiration as you navigate your everyday responsibilities?

Perhaps it is a trip.  Perhaps it is some shift in a significant relationship, or adjusting your diet or developing new associations, or even deepening your yoga practice.  

Yoga is the eternal wellspring of peace and clarity amid the myriad fluctuations of life. It has been my own experience and the experience of many, many students.  If deepening your yoga practice has been on your list, I invite you to take you to take the next courageous leap into our upcoming spring yoga teacher training!

People take the training for a variety of reasons ranging from personal enrichment to becoming full time yoga teachers.  Perhaps your 2017 resolve could benefit from a richly supportive environment that will take your yoga practice to the next level!  If so, I invite you to apply for our upcoming program, just click here for more details.

Wishing You the Best in 2017!

Derik
720-934-6934

 

Yoga Resolution 8: Let Gratitude Be Your Guide

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

Live and grow in a state of appreciate.

Yoga Resolution #8: Let Gratitude Be Your Guide

Let’s begin with a word of appreciation for all of your dedicated effort to live into your 2017 resolve!  Now, in this moment, reflect upon your three greatest victories in the new year and then softly smile to yourself for 15 seconds 🙂

9 yoga resolutions for 2017 to ring in the New Year - Axis Yoga Teacher Trainings of Denver

How did that feel?  We are almost three weeks into the new year and I hope you are seeing progress; that your resolve is actually coming to life!  When we live in alignment with our soul’s deeper purpose, as expressed through our resolve, happiness and fulfillment occur naturally.  What a beautiful gift!

I invite you to celebrate your victories, whether small or large, with the spirit of gratitude.  Living in gratitude lightens the load of doubt, worry and anxiety and frees us up to live life with an awake sense of curiosity and wonder in the face of all sorts of circumstances.

As you plot the course of your new year’s resolve, what have you discovered, what can you be most grateful for?  I would encourage you to continue with your yoga practice to help generate a wellspring of support, insights and, well…. Gratitude.

open-house-blog-banner

As an exercise, keep a gratitude journal for the next 21 days to help maintain the momentum you have accumulated thus far.  Write down 5-10 things you are most grateful everyday.  I can promise you, it will shift the way that you see the world!

 

 

200-hr. Yoga Teacher Training Open House – Sun. Jan. 22 at 9:30am

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 to learn more.

Yoga Resolution 7: Give Yourself An “A” for Effort

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

High-five yourself! You deserve it!

Yoga Resolution #7: Give Yourself An “A” for Effort

It comes easier for some than for others…  Some have a natural propensity to take their shortcomings in stride.  Thankfully, a positive outlook and the ability to genuinely acknowledge your successes is something we can cultivated.

9 yoga resolutions for 2017 to ring in the New Year - Axis Yoga Teacher Trainings of Denver

We began this series by formulating a resolve for the new year.  How is it going?  I’m sure that for many of you the results may have been mixed.  I’m sure you can think of examples of when you took action in support of your resolve and other times when you may have convinced yourself to do otherwise.

Living in alignment with your resolve is its own reward, it speaks for itself, and can fill us with inspiration to continue upon the path (even if it is hard).  But what to do if we are not living in alignment?

Rather than assuming you are a failure or incapable, see your shortcomings simple as feedback.  When we deviate from our resolve, or circumstances blow us in a different direction than we intended, welcome the input you are receiving with acceptance and curiosity; take this even one step further and find something to appreciate about the situation.

Recognize and acknowledge your efforts, learn from the situation, and simple take the next courageous step in the direction of your resolve.  Our resolve really describes who we are when we are in harmony with ourselves.

Here is a simple exercise to help you see where you are on the path of living into your resolve:

open-house-blog-banner

At the end of the day, begin by writing down your resolve.  In the spirit of genuine curiosity and objectivity, reflect on when you may have come up short in your resolve.

  • What was the situation? What thoughts went along with it? How did it feel?
  • What did you say and do in response? How did that feel?
  • Is this a familiar thought or feeling in your life?
  • How can you respond differently to this occurrence in the future? Do you change how you are perceiving the situation and or how you respond/act?

Conducting this exercise will help to reshape your relationship to your resolve, take off any negative charge and plot you in the direction of living into your deepest intention with maximum intentionally, self awareness, and acceptance.

 

 

200-hr. Yoga Teacher Training Open House – Sun. Jan. 22 at 9:30am

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 to learn more.

Yoga Resolution 6: Try Something New

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

Get out of your comfort zone in 2017!

Yoga Resolution #6: Try Something New

These three words are an invitation to awaken fresh insights and experiences into your life.  They sound simple enough, however it can be challenging to break the mold of our familiar patterns and activities.  Your brain is literally wired to feel safe with familiar circumstances, for many good reasons.

Happy new year card 2017. Silhouette of A girl doing Yoga vriksh

However, our brain is also possesses the capacity to rewire itself, to let go of past associations and find new meaning. The technical work for this is “neuroplasticity”.  Yoga has been clinically proven to break up old, stuck neurological patterns within the brain, and create new pathways of perception.  Yoga has the power to move someone from addiction to liberation.  You are your own best neurosurgeon!

Trying something new is a powerful way to exercise your brain, and develop appreciation for the wondrous world that we live in.  It does not have to be overly complicated. You do not have wait for skydiving season, or until you get your permit to climb mount everest to get started.

open-house-blog-banner

The important thing is to begin your process of exploration.  Often times, the gateway to new vitalizing experiences, is just a few degrees outside of our normal routine.

Here are a few suggestions to get you started:

  • Make yoga a priority in your life! Start a home practice.  Even go as far as signing up for yoga teacher training (whether to decide to teach or not). Practicing yoga is a way of sewing positive, benevolent seeds in your heart and mind, that will continue to spout; so long as you continue to water them.
  • Change your environment.  Clearing out any clutter is a great way to invite new energy into your life.  Consider creating a dedicated space for yoga practice.
  • Create time for meditation, to clear your mind of noisy static and open it to new possibilities.  Meditation will stimulate direct insights as well as gradually condition your mind to see life in a new light.
  • Go Dancing 🙂
  • Find support.  Changing habits in isolation can be unnecessarily challenging.  Is there some circle, even a virtual circle, you can tap into guide you more gracefully into whatever change you are wishing to make.  Or start your own circle!
  • Have honest talks.  Make a (new) habit of making time for meaningful connections with your fellow humans.  This could look as simple as an honest talk in a coffee shop or going for a hike.

Go Big.  What is your resolve for ‘17?  Continue to feed your resolve on a daily basis with incremental decisions, create time for bonus adventures, and put some stakes in the ground to express your resolve in a big way (even if you do not know how you will get there, yet). Is a trip on the horizon? Will you meet the love of your life?  Is it time to make yoga teacher training a priority?

Carpe Diem.  Even if our adventure into a new decision turns out to be so-so, we are that much wiser for having made the effort and can pat ourselves on the back for trying something new. Keep the flame of your resolve alive, accept the challenges as they come, and continue to take the next meaningful step.

 

 

200-hr. Yoga Teacher Training Open House – Sun. Jan. 22 at 9:30am

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 to learn more.

Yoga Resolution 5: Create Momentum

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

Daily incremental choices create big changes!

Yoga Resolution #5: Create Momentum

Before we dive into yoga resolution #5, let’s do a quick check in with ourselves. How are you feeling in this New Year? Do you feel good about the resolutions you’ve set thus far? Are you keeping your energy high?

Since we are still at the very beginning, it’s important to create momentum around our resolutions by reframing the choices we make. It’s so important that creating momentum is a resolution in and of itself!

Watch this short video to hear more about how to check in with yourself and build momentum around your resolves.

Happy new year card 2017. Silhouette of A girl doing Yoga vriksh    

open-house-blog-banner

 

 

 

200-hr. Yoga Teacher Training Open House – Sun. Jan. 22 at 9:30am

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 to learn more.