Yoga On The Go

Yoga On The Go…

Easy tips to help you stay committed, consistent, and at home in your yoga practice when you’re abroad


The yoga sutras teach us that the level of achievement we will receive from our practice depends on the intensity with which we bring ourselves forth. Sutra 1:22 says The time necessary for success depends on whether the practice is mild, medium or intense. The Sutras also tell us that we must practice earnestly and consistently (Sutra 1.12). (The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, Sri Swami Satchidananda).

In other words, these practices only work when we do! Yoga requires us to sometimes put the practice first, to catch ourselves when we’re making excuses not to get on our mats, and to cultivate consistency and follow through amidst our busy lives. In the throws of weekly schedules, this task is already a challenge for some.

So, when things are really shaken up (like when there is family in town, and you just can’t get to class— or when you’re literally across the globe), how do you remain steadfast in your yoga ritual?

As a traveling yogi I have found a few helpful solutions to this conundrum… Throughout my career I have spent weeks at a time in hotel rooms in foreign countries, have woken up early for 5am flights, and have been sleep deprived and jet lagged before teaching 4 hours of workshops. The title may sound luxurious, but sometimes it takes all the gusto I’ve got just to keep going on with a smile. And the amazing thing is this: I could never do this without my practice. The act of coming to my mat, and into my heart by way of the breath…. there is no cup of coffee (even in Italy) that can do the same thing.

Here are my best tips to keep you consistent when you’re on the go. You can use these practices in your everyday life at home, when daily life is shaken up, or when you’re traveling short or long term.

  • Invest in a light weight yoga mat – Make sure you pack a mat in your bag! There are many travel mats that are under 1lb, and super easy to pack in a carry on. Make this item as necessary as your tooth brush. When you arrive in your hotel room, lay it out in a welcoming place as you are putting away your clothing and toiletries. When you wake up the next morning, step on your mat and commit to staying put for at least 15 minutes.

 

  • Keep your practice simple – Not sure what to do when you’re practicing on your own? Find familiar patterns of movement, and make those your ritual. Sun Salutations, Gentle Core Work, Supine Twists… Just begin moving, and see where your body takes you. If you are not confident creating your own flow, there are literally thousands of online and digital classes to follow along with! (I have a few here)!

 

  • It’s all about the breath – Whether you’re sitting still or scurrying through train depots, your breath is always, always, always available as an object for your awareness to settle upon. A simple breath technique to use on the go is the Box Breath. To perform this breath, inhale on a slow count of four, hold for a count of four, exhale for a count of four, and hold out for a count of four. Repeat up to 12 times. To help your mind remain centered on your breath, you can internally say to yourself, “Breathing In, Breathing Out,” with your in and out breaths respectively.

 

  • Ideal times to practice – Before you let your mind jump into planning mode, remind yourself to settle down and tune in! Practice first thing, only after using the bathroom and drinking some water. It can be challenging to get back to your mat once you allow yourself to carry on with the day. To avoid bypassing practice, make it your first and last activity of the day. The mind and body usually experience a bit of stress while traveling, making deep sleep more challenging and less satisfying. Restorative yoga before bed will combat the wear and tear of travel, and will help you to rest well.

 

  • Keep a journal handy – Svadhyaya (self study) is an integral part of the yoga practice. Journaling while you travel is a fabulous way to document novel experiences, and to keep track of your inner experience. When we travel we are faced with so much new information, thoughts, and ways of being all at once. Keeping a journal will help you to sort through and make sense of these impressions.

 

  • If nothing else, Meditate – If you have time for none of the above, take (at very minimum) five minutes in the morning and in the evening to practice sitting meditation. Set your timer, and commit to sitting with ease for just five minutes. Tune in, listen deeply, release the tension of the body, and feel your aliveness. Your body, your breath, and your awareness are beautiful miracles that deserve your attention (no matter how busy you are). If you need assistance in meditation, there are a number of apps and podcasts that are available free of charge.

 

….et Voila! You are all set to roam the globe without leaving your yoga practice at home. Your body, mind, heart, and yoga teachers will all be glad you remained consistent 🙂

And Remember: The outer and inner journeys are yours to explore, learn and grow from. Wherever your path takes you, enjoy the ride.

 

Namaste,

XO,

Stacy

Practices to Balance Pitta Dosha

Practices to Balance Pitta Dosha

(How to Beat the Summer Heat!)


The summer heat has really began to kick up here in SoCal; and with this rise in heat, we are also experiencing a rise in Pitta energy. In Ayurvedic Medicine, the sister science of Yoga, Pitta  is fire, heat, and transformation.

And just like we need the warming heat of Summer, we need the warming heat of Pitta. Balanced Pitta is joyful, energetic, clear, concise, vital, and productive. And when in balance, it properly controls and regulates digestion, metabolism and energy production in the body.

Pitta out of balance (in excess), on the other hand, can lead to dehydration, high acidity, inflammation, heartburn, irritability, anger, and impatience! So, you can see why keeping our fire in balance is so important!

It’s not “good” or “bad”… It’s all about balance!

Just like a good fire, we want our Pitta to remain steady, bright and smoldering… Too hot, your fire will burn up all of the energy it needs to sustain itself. Too cold, energy will remain stagnant and sluggish.

 

Don’t know your Dosha? Use this easy to follow guide to find out!! 

How to balance Pitta Dosha:

In Ayurveda, opposites are used to heal and bring balance to areas of imbalance. So, to balance Pitta- the energy of fire- you would want to use the cooling energy of water – the Kapha Dosha. This could look as simple as taking a cool shower, going for a dip in the ocean or a cool lake, or drinking a big glass of water!

Movement, breath and conscious consumption are all tools to call upon in your healing. Whatever you preferred method, there is a way to keep your Pitta in balance.

MOVEMENT and BREATH:

Cooling Asana: Very gentle backbends which shape the thoracic spine, like Cobra Pose, Cow Pose, and Fish Pose are cooling for the body and nervous system.

Breath: Practicing the Sitali Breath is exceptionally cooling. In this practice, you can literally feel the cool breeze coating your lungs. It’s as simple as rolling your tongue into a “taco” and inhaling. If you can’t roll your tongue, breathe in gently through your teeth. You can release your air through your mouth or your nose.

COOLING WATERS:

Stay Hydrated! This is perhaps one of the most important steps to take in calming Pitta. Drink lots and lots of water (slightly chilled or room temperature), especially in the summer months. On days you know you’ll be active, drink even more water than usual.

Take A Dip: If you have a cool body of water close by, take a dip in the evening when the sun isn’t so intense. You can also try doing a Cold Rinse after your shower. Just turn the knob all the way to Cold, and soak your head and full body in the chilly water for 30 seconds – 1 minute. (This is also a great trick for calming inflamed, sore muscles)!

AYURVEDA:

Cooling Tea: There are many blends you can choose from, but Pitta balancing teas often include fennel, peppermint, cardamom, cilantro, coriander, hibiscus flowers, rose petals,  and chamomile flowers.

Food Is Medicine: Eat more foods that are astringent, sweet and bitter. Cold foods like salads, veggies, fruits and coconut oil! Avoid foods that are spicy, sour, salty, hot and dry, like coffee.

There you have it! Easy practices to bring your fire-water energy back into balance.

May your summer be balanced and bright!

Namaste,

Stacy McCarthy

YogaNamaStacy

 

How Fast Are You Aging?

Do you remember the first time you realized your body was “aging”?

Maybe it started in your thirties with a few more aches and pains in the morning. A tendency to get tired earlier in the day. The first signs of wrinkles around your eyes. A memory not quite as sharp as it used to be.

As the years have progressed, those little twinges have probably gotten more frequent. And if you’re like most people, you brushed it off as a “normal” part of the aging process… just something that happens when we get older.

The thing is, you don’t have to give in to the frailty, disease, and memory issues associated with aging. These symptoms are not “inevitable.” They are signals that your body needs something.

When it comes to aging, we’ve been fed a load of unsubstantiated assumptions our entire lives. But emerging research from top experts suggests that we can have all the advantages of youth, well into our later years.

That means a lean, strong, flexible body….supple, smooth skin….. a brain that is sharp… energy to last all day… and an immune system that provides powerful protection against illness.

We are a body-oriented culture. We judge ourselves by our appearance and our body’s ability to perform. When our bodies change—as they inevitably do—our self-worth goes with them, for better or for worse.

In Siddhartha, a novel about enlightenment and self-discovery the prince, Siddhartha, ventured out of his palace for the first time, he was shaken by his first glimpses of a person bent with age, a person wracked with illness and the body of a person who had died. Seeing the inevitable path of all our bodies to our final demise caused him to inquire into how he might transcend the suffering he had witnessed. This led him to realize that in order to transcend suffering, he had to transcend his attachment to and identification with the body. He had to look deeper, beyond the pleasures and suffering of the body, for lasting happiness.

This is what our yoga practice teaches us. Any person in a body who is practicing Yoga is living in a yoga body, regardless of age, build, gender or flexibility. And the deeper practices at the heart of Yoga—meditation—require a body simply as an anchor for awareness. 

I think most people when coming upon my age may scour, but I’m truly looking forward to the unfolding lessons, increasing self awareness and growing self love that comes with aging. I’m reminded that this is the start of a brand new year- and that there are still infinite opportunities for growth along my journey. Within every moment lies a miracle. And within every burden lies a blessing. 

Namaste~

Balancing the Chakras : A Simple Guide

Meditations, Mantras and Movement to Keep Your Chakras In Balance

What sets Yoga apart from other calisthenic routines?

The ancient yogis knew of something beyond the outer shell of movement- something deeper than muscles and bones- yet something just as important to shaping our physical health.

What they looked at and sought to keep healthy through their physical routine was the Chakra System.

So, what’s a… Chakra??

A Chakra (literally Wheel in Sanskrit) is an energy center or wheel of energetic movement in the body. It is part of the body’s subtle anatomy; and though subtle, has major effects on the gross, physical body and mind.

There are 7 major Chakras, which run along and align the spinal column, ranging from the base of the pelvic floor to the crown of the head.

Each of these 7 Chakras has a specific energetic and emotional quality, associated color, sound, and deeper meaning.

Often when we feel out of balance- angry, saddened, over-whelmed, exhausted- it is a sign that our deeper, more subtle self is in need of some serious restoration. Therefore, a great way to target the root of our imbalances is to look at the Chakras, and bring them back into balance first.

Below, you’ll find a simple guide to the Chakras, and how to bring them back into balance:

MULADHARA (ROOT CHAKRA):

Location: At the base of the spinal column, centered in the Pelvic Floor / Energetic Qualities: Stability, Security, Safety, Fear & Fearlessness / When you’re out of balance: You may feel unsafe and fear-laden

Bring back into balance with:

Meditation: Lying on your back, with your hands on your low belly, imagine red light charging through your spine down to the base, igniting new life and energy with each breath.

Mantra: “I fearlessly take on the challenges of life. Trusting my inner-guide, I face the unknown with love.”

Movement: Utkata Konasana (Goddess Pose). This posture requires strength, poise, and confidence. Open your heart wide and feel the power of your lower body. Breathe deeply all the way into the Pelvic Floor.

 

SVADISTHANA (SACRAL CHAKRA):

Location: Just above the pubic bone, below the naval / Energetic Qualities: Creativity, Sexual Energy, Personal Expression / When you’re out of balance: You may feel “stuck” or uninspired

Bring back into balance with:

Meditation: Practice simple seated meditation, follow your breath and soothe your mind into stillness. Creativity is the product of a clear mind. Sometimes just finding some peace and quiet is all you need.

Mantra: “I am available for creativity to flow through me with abundance and ease. I reflect the creation of all life, and recognize the gift of creation within me.”

Movement: Virabhadrasana (Warrior Pose). This posture requires strength and ease, and challenges the muscles of the pelvic floor and abdomen to maintain a long, supple spine. It sparks awareness and stillness. Root firmly, and maintain a soft gaze.

 

MANIPURA (SOLAR PLEXUS CHAKRA):

Location: At the Solar Plexus, between the naval and the breast bone / Energetic Qualities: Personal Power, Will, Decision Making / When you’re out of balance: You may feel uncertain, weary, uneasy about a decision

Bring back into balance with:

Meditation: Practice Kapalabhati Breath (Skull Shining Breath). Breathe in deeply through the nose into the belly, let out quick exhalations through the nose, as the navel “snaps” back toward the spine. Before trying this on your own, ask a teacher for proper instruction and safety guides!

Mantra: Simply state, “I am” with each inhalation. With each exhalation, bring your awareness to your physical presence, stating “here”.

Movement: Plank Pose. Yes, a simple posture to refine your core muscles and define the strength of your abdomen. Gently draw your navel toward the spine, reaching through your crown, broadening across your chest, and pressing out through your heels.

 

ANAHATA (HEART CHAKRA):

Location: At the heart center / Energetic Qualities: Loving-Kindess, Acceptance of Self and Others, Compassion / When you’re out of balance: You may feel unloved or unloving, disconnected, impatient

Bring back into balance with:

Meditation: Simple sitting, with hands on your heart. Breathe into your heart space, filling it up with air and letting it flow out. Practice until you feel your chest and shoulders softened and available to move freely.

Mantra: Loving-Kindness “May my heart be filled with loving kindness, may I be well, may I be peaceful and at ease, may I be happy”

Movement: Ustrasana (Camel Pose). This backbend opens the heart, strengthens the back muscles and invites you to breathe into the chest and ribs. Keep the neck and throat soft, and use the stability and strength of your legs to ground.

 

VISHUDDHA (THROAT CHAKRA):

Location: In the throat / Energetic Qualities: Verbal Expression, Speaking our Highest Truth, Communication / When you’re out of balance: You may feel unable to say what you need to, afraid to share your truth

Bring back into balance with:

Meditation: Recite “AUM” with clarity, taking equal time to pronounce each sound “A-U-M”. Don’t be afraid to make noise! The point is to hear yourself, and to get past the discomfort of opening up.

Mantra: “I speak my truth with confidence and clarity. I listen deeply to myself and to others, and communicate with ease.”

Movement: Matsyasana (Fish Pose). Try this assisted with two blocks, one underneath the scapula, and one supporting the head. Lengthen through your toes, and allow your throat space to open as you relax the face and breathe.

 

AJNA (THIRD EYE CHAKRA): 

Location: Just at the Pineal Gland (Third Eye), set between the brow bones / Energetic Qualities: Insight and Intuition / When you’re out of balance: You may feel lost or untrusting of yourself

Bring back into balance with:

Meditation: With eyes closed, bring your inner awareness to the place between your brow. Keep your inner gaze alive and bright, as practice maintaining focus on this area.

Mantra: “I am connected, at peace, and present.”

Movement: Balasana (Child’s Pose). Allow your head to rest fully, either on the floor, or on a bolster or block. Soften the muscles of the face, and allow the gently pressure of the position bring your awareness to your third eye.

 

SAHASWARA (CROWN CHAKRA):

Location: At the crown of the head, rising up like a “Thousand Petal Lotus Flower” / Energetic Qualities: Trust in your Highest Self, Connection to Self, to all things, and ultimately to the Essence of your True Nature / When you’re out of balance: You may feel lonely, unsupported or irrelevant

Bring back into balance with:

Meditation: Practice inhaling and exhaling bright white light in through your crown. Inhale, white light filters in the body all the way down the spine. Exhale, white light leaves through the crown, shooting back out and creating a field around you.

Mantra: “AUM. I am one with all that is.”

Movement: Sirsasana (Headstand). Please consult a yoga instructor before attempting this posture. Grow through the spine, reach the tail and the toes upward. Use your foundation wisely, planting the forearms/hands firmly into the earth. Breathe deeply into the body, and keep a soft gaze.

 

 

Happy Balancing, Yogis!

With Love + Namaste,

Stacy

 

 

SMOGIs We Admire : Re-Blog from YOGASMOGA

Re:Blog from YOGASMOGA

STACY MCCARTHY

Stacy McCarthy has been at the forefront of the yoga, fitness and health industries for more than 25 years. Through her business, Yoga Namastacy she’s developed a collection of best-selling DVDs, books, and trainings, and has contributed her expertise on yoga and health to countless media outlets and conferences.

BELIEF:

“I believe in promoting a lifestyle of long-term health. Health is not defined by the number of hours you workout or the amount of calories you eat, but by the joy and fullness of your life physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.” 

TEACHING:

Stacy’s current teaching is in the lineage of T. Krishnamacharya combining the alignment of B.K.S.Iyengar with the breath, focus and flow of Ashtanga. Her cutting edge classes are unique, as she uses a variety of techniques and tools for accessing and sustaining mental, emotional and physical well-being.

INSPIRATION:

“My mission is to inspire people to take charge of their health and happiness by moving intelligently, adopting a plant-passionate diet, improving lifestyle practices, and learning to live and love like you really mean it.”

YOGASMOGA:

“It’s hard for me to believe that well into my fifties, I am asked to model and represent yoga clothes. Yogasmoga is so authentic and has a new paradigm on how the apparel industry operates. It’s made in the USA, so no potential of child labor, no synthetic dye, no photoshop of their models and so much more. They walk their talk, models of all ages, cultural diversity, size and shape.”

 

Thank you YOGASMOGA  for making me your first featured SMOGI!! It is truly an honor to be recognized as a valuable community member, and a representative of a company which I admire and love to wear!!

With Love + Namaste,

Stacy

Don’t Skip Savasana!

Don’t Skip Savasana!! (And other ways you should actively Chill Out)…

When’s the last time you took a deep breath that soothed your entire being? The last time you slowed down on purpose? The last time you remember feeling fully restored?

If lifelong health is something you’re seeking, these are important questions to ask yourself.

Getting proper rest can help you to manage and balance your energy levels, maintain mental clarity, recover after workouts, effectively reduce inflammation, transform your digestive health, and more!!

Resting properly means more than just sleeping 8 hours a night. Rest and recovery is an active process that requires deep listening and mindful attentiveness- it is the process of slowing down enough so that you actually can tune into your breath, your thoughts, and your sensations… It means staying for savasana at the end of a yoga class, taking a 10 minute meditation break during your busy work day, eating mindfully without your cellphone to distract you, and doing a few soothing yoga postures to help your body rest without tension at the end of the day.

If you’ve ever tried to slow down on purpose, you may have found that it’s actually pretty darn challenging. But like all things, with practice comes improvement.

Below you’ll find my favorite ways to Rest and Restore my Body and Mind:

1. Don’t Skip Savasana!

 We often associate working out to our max with gaining health, perfecting our bodies and getting out toxins. But rest and recovery are equally important… Resting not only helps the body and mind to be in peace, but helps both to actively recover and assimilate the benefits of your more intense physical practice… Savasana is the perfect example of active rest. After practice, we honor the work we’ve done and we allow the body to reap the rewards of our effort. It is a way to say “thank you” to the body, a way to give it time to soak in the goodness, and an opportunity to let the mind be quiet. For many, it’s the only time of their day to completely let go. So, next time you’re thinking of skipping out on savasana, don’t do it! It’s well worth the extra 5-10 minutes of your time.

2. Put Your Feet Up

Put your feet up! One of my favorite ways to relax my body after a full day of activity is to gently invert. Our feet carry much tension within them, especially after standing, walking, and even sitting all day. Putting your feet up not only helps to ease the tension of the feet and legs, but helps to regulate blood flow and the flow of lymphatic fluids. It also gives a sense of ease and serenity to the body and mind, literally making that “Ahhhhhh” feeling come alive. So, next time you’re exhausted, sore, fatigued or grumpy, put your feet up 🙂 Try Viparita Karani (legs all the way up the wall), or simply rest your feet above your hips on the couch.

Here is a more enhanced version of Legs Up The Wall Pose, or Viparita Karani. To intensify the sensation and benefit, lift your hips with a bolster and add a little weight on top of the feet. This version offers the additional benefit of lifting the hips above the line of the heart and head, giving a greater boost to your circulation and the flow of lymphatic fluids. Don’t forget the most important part: relax and breathe!

3. The Pose of A Child

 Balasana, the Pose of A Child. One of my all time favorites! This posture not only calms the nervous system and relaxes major points of tension in the hips and spine, but regulates the heart rate circulation, gently massages the internal organs and promotes full, luscious breathing. This supported version adds in relief to the neck and shoulders, and also allows those with less hip flexibility to rest in the pose with ease. Try it for 5 minutes before bed, or before your workout to begin feeling the flow of oxygen through your body. Notice how you feel before, during, and after the pose.

4. Take A Walk 

Every night, my favorite way to decompress is to take my dogi Yogi for a walk. Not only does it get his wiggles out, it soothes me completely. Being in nature satisfies our human need to connect to the Earth, and to ourselves. It offers me time to let my thoughts go as I focus on the simple things- the color of the flowers, the light shining through the trees, the crispness of the fresh sea breeze. Studies have proven that being outdoors provides a slew of health benefits, like: grounding (to receive the negative ions from the Earth- go barefoot!), improved sleep, better eyesight, and enhanced physiological and psychological wellbeing. Even just a 20 minute walk a day will do!

5. Go Within

Taking the time to go within is, I think, the most important thing one can do for herself. Over the year, it is what has kept me self aware and less affected by challenges and toxins. It is in the process of meditation  that my mind and body relax so that I can observe the habitual feelings and thoughts that arise, follow the flow of my breath in and out of my body, notice if I body wants to fidget or if I can relax completely in the process…There really is so much to observe, that it may not actually feel very relaxing at first! But over time, with patience, with ease and with respect for Self, there is a beautiful quietude that arises, almost spontaneously. It is here where the greatest rest and restoration takes place within.

With Love + Namaste,

Happy Resting, Yogis!

Stacy

Learn How to LOVE Every Bit of Your Yoga Business

Whether you are one of the many new members of our growing community, or have been with us right from Day 1, we wanted to share something with you that might come as a surprise.

We don’t fundamentally see this as a business school.

How could the Yoga School of Business NOT fundamentally be a business school, you ask?

It’s a question we get all the time.

We are an organization that supports yoga teachers to do more of the yoga you love, more easily. We chose business education as a means of doing this because there’s a lack of accessible, affordable, specialized yoga business training.

The effect of this unavailability is really showing.

It’s rare to hear someone come out of a yoga class not feeling rejuvenated. Yet it is equally as rare to meet a yoga teacher who is totally fulfilled with their business, from their finances to their life balance. As the teacher, you deserve to thrive from your practice in all areas of your life, just as much as your students do. But part of what you need to realize this, is missing.

Many of you have received only part of the education you need to have the full, balanced, thriving practice you want. As the saying goes, “you don’t know what you don’t know.”

The challenge is mostly not related to your asana. Sure, you always want to improve your practice. But the underlying reason why many teachers struggle to make a great living, balanced with an equally great personal life, is that you have never learned essential business skills, like how to:

Market yourself, authentically (i.e. no cheesy sales person)
Discover your niche
Charge what you’re worth (or do your taxes!)
Get organized
(let alone how to keep up your own practice)
What started as our quest to make a difference in yoga teachers’ lives has grown into a pioneering school that provides the best, most convenient, affordable business education for yoga teachers.

Here is what one of our students had to say:

As a new yoga teacher with absolutely no business experience, I was looking to gain more insight and knowledge on how to find success in my new career path, while still finding time for my personal life.  After just the first two months of training, I have already noticed a positive shift in my life, both in my career as a yoga teacher and in my own personal life experiences.  This training has provided me with not only useful information on how to market my business and stay organized, but also on how to shift my perspective on my life as a whole in order to find success in everything I do.  This is a life-changing course, which can only benefit those who wish to be a part of it.  The weekly coaching calls provide me with great support and insight from those who have been in my position before and truly want to help me achieve my goals and dreams.  I am so excited to continue growing, learning, and finding success throughout the remainder of the training, and to carry on all that I have gained into my life after the training ends.
– Chantelle King

If you are a Yoga Teacher and want to learn how to create a truly abundant practice, come to one of our upcoming FREE INFORMATION CALLS to learn more about
The Yoga Business Builder: A Coaching Program for Yoga Teachers.

Program Outline & Tuition: The Yoga Business Builder: Online
Faculty: Stephanie Tait & Stacy McCarthy
Free Informational Call on September 16 @ 11:45am PST
Dates: Training is from September 2010 – June 2011
Capacity: 12 students
Learn more:  RSVP for the FREE Information Call at info@yogaschoolofbusiness.com
(Early Bird Special ends September 20)

Program Outline & Tuition: The Yoga Business Builder: OnlineFaculty: Stephanie Tait & Stacy McCarthyDates: Training is from September 2010 – June 2011Capacity: 12 studentsLearn more:  RSVP for the FREE Information Call at info@yogaschoolofbusiness.com(Early Bird Special ends September 20)