Why I Teach Kids Yoga and Consciousness

Kids Yoga Georgia

I will never forget the day I saw a child stop his very own tantrum. It was early spring, and I was at an event for my school. I was a high school teacher and flag-football coach at the time. I was early that day. So early that I was able to catch the JV game that played before us. Now, I am and have always been a watcher. I get lost in people watching, and I especially love watching when something loud or chaotic is happening around me. It’s soothing, and any watcher will tell you, it’s almost a meditation of sorts.
Up until this time I had seen many, many tantrums. Kid tantrums, adult tantrums, and even witnessed–on several occasions–my tantrums. We all have them, but it was on that day I saw a little boy at the tender age of four years old, actually, stop his meltdown.

There was a group of boys playing. There was but one ball in the mix, and an older boy came and took the ball. The boy (unicorn child as I referred to him) tried to get the ball back. It didn’t go over well. He was shoved aside, and now the older group of boys had the ball. Most of the younger group gave up quickly and dismantled, but the Unicorn Boy was so angry with this injustice! He went over to his mom and tried to tell her, but she was very into the game and dismissed him. He then crossed his arms and walked over to a more secluded space. He sat. He closed his eyes and started to breathe.

Meanwhile, my mouth was wide open and I have to say, that Unicorn Boy was just about my favorite person I had ever seen. I wanted to give that kid some award, or candy! But he was a sage, and probably didn’t even eat sugar. After about five minutes, he got up and went to sit next to his mom. And five minutes after that, the big boys were done with the ball and he gathered the original group to play once more. I couldn’t believe it! I was angry that no one other than me had seen this kid in action. I’m thinking, will anyone even believe me if I told them?

Towards the end of the game, I worked up the courage to approach the mom. I needed to know answers and I thought, I’m a teacher don’t think she’ll think I’m a creep or anything. Fingers crossed, I told her I saw her son go off and meditate. She said, “His father is a Yoga Instructor and he teaches him all that stuff.” I told her it was incredible, and she agreed. She said they started with him when he was around one year old. Then she told me he would meditate up to thirty minutes on his own!

Fast forward to almost ten years later and one of my main goals in this life is to teach children and teens Yoga. I love adults, don’t get me wrong, but I want more unicorns, and I know that is part of my purpose. I can tell you that it was no mistake I saw that boy one that day. And I can tell you that it was no miracle he was able to do that—but rather—a skill set that can be acquired. Now I could go on and on about why kids need Yoga. Yes, it helps with flexibility, balance, range of motion, circulation, gaining strength and more. Most of us associate Yoga with our physical practice–and there are many pros to that practice. However, whenever I have a quick moment with a parent, and I know they likely understand the benefits of the physical practice, I always focus on one of, if not the most important thing your child will learn in Yoga. Why you need to get them enrolled, yesterday. I highlight the central skill they will need in this life, and the one so much of society drowns out with instant gratification, social media imaging and branding, and the fast motion of how we move in our households. It’s what made that kid on that day, the first unicorn I had ever witnessed.

  • learn to self-regulate. That is, to identify an internal emotion, feel it, and make an informed decision about how they express it externally. They learn about the choices they have in all situations, as they begin to look at it with deep maturity and discernment. They learn when it is time to breathe and listen when it is time to ask for help, when it is time to fail, and when it is time to stand firm. Imagine for a moment if you had learned this level of decrement and inner-trust when you were a child? How would it have affected the relationships you were in, the choices you made, and all of the expectations of the outside world that got in the way of that kind of personal compass?

That kid understood at that moment he needed to settle down the system and made that happen on his own. It’s a level of accountability that most adults take years, and years to acquire. And let’s face it, we usually learn this skill after we have felt deep shame for our actions, and realized our lack of self-control. In Yoga, we learn to identify the cues, such as elevated heart rate, the body temperature rise, and the rush of anger we feel based on our ego telling us…you need to scream, you need to fight, you need to not look like a fool. We teach children how to see this entire process in action and access what is real in that moment. It’s true that children are very wise, and that they already come into this world with the gift of being free and present. However, when social situations begin to be presented, big emotions enter into small bodies, and expectations from peers, school, and the home set in, our unicorns simply lose their way far too often. This is why Yoga is different than any sport where they learn valuable teamwork or any activity that promotes the arts and so on. It’s the essential teaching of self-regulating that sets it apart—plain and simple.

I am happy to report that I have met so many unicorns since I spotted my first one! Thank you to all of my beautiful yogis and to that boy who showed me it’s more than possible. I am currently teaching kids yoga at SOL Yoga in Marietta and I could not be happier! This studio truly honors the practice of Yoga and what it can do for your life.

Please contact SOL Yoga at [email protected] if you are interested in bringing SOL Kids Yoga to your school or plan a private class for a special birthday or event.

We hope to see you soon!

SOL Seeker: Allison Ford

allison ford

Allison tell us about your yoga journey.

I came into the practice of yoga after an injury. I began a practice on my own and didn’t really realize I was doing yoga, funny enough. I started doing a series of postures to heal and release—what most would refer to as a Yin or Restorative Practice. Soon after I was asked by a friend to attend her hot vinyasa class and I decided to give it a shot. I couldn’t believe how challenging it was, and how I felt after that class. I knew I needed to go back for more. I went in with an athlete’s mentality and started to practice up to five times per week. I soon learned that I could not approach yoga in the same way I had approached sports in the past. I slowly got that message in class and had it solidified when I went into Yoga Teacher Training. I wasn’t there to push myself, I was actually there to surrender myself once and for all.

My first mentor would be my mother. She was a single-mother of six and she most certainly practiced yoga, even though she may not have realized it. She taught me how to discern, how to look deeply at myself and be responsible for my energy. I am also deeply inspired by people such as Martin Luther King Jr and Mr. Rogers. I valued their pivotal lessons and their uniqueability to communicate with anyone, all while maintaining their message, never apologizing for what they were here to do in this world. I also love and look up to Dr. Wayne Dyer and have been deeply mentored and guided by the writings of Virginia Woolf.

I wish new Yogis knew that Yoga can check off every box for their life, and that’s why they need to commit to it. It will heal you, improve your health, your mobility, your confidence, your personal relationships and so much more! THAT is why Yoga is different than all other fitness pursuits. Most fitness programs are about getting into shape, which is a wonderful goal, but in Yoga we do ay more than that. We look deep into the soul and what it needs to be fit and balanced. We also work on breathing and meditation, which are they key to releasing stress and allowing the brain—which is always working—some time to recover. If you want more than just one or two objectives to be accomplished, do Yoga. On our mats we do all the work.

My favorite pose is Warrior II. For me, this was a pose I did, but felt little connection with when I started Yoga. Other than the connection of it burning my inner thigh! Now, I settle in that pose and I feel such pride. It is there I can really acknowledge how far I’ve come and how strong I feel, both physically and mentally. I think we all have that one pose that connects us to our inner warrior. It’s a space where we don’t feel ashamed of our pride in ourselves. Sometimes celebrating our journey can be hard. We can feel like we need not share it, or offer it, as we might look arrogant. However, in Yoga we find poses where we get to bask in the life and lessons we have gathered, and for me, it’s that pose.

Well…I’m reading a lot of my own book set to be published in 2020. Editing quite a bit, and so that has really taken over my reading time. However, I always read my favorite two books come the new year, so I am really, really looking forward to be done editing and move into those words. First is To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf, and second is always The World According to Garp by John Erving.

In five years, I see myself working on my second or third book, and continuing to speak on those topics, especially in my classes, workshops, speaking engagements, and my annual conference event. For me, getting the message of yoga and leadership into the stratosphere is the most fulfilling work I have ever been a part of, and that’s where I do my highest work within the community.

I feel most connected when I am dancing, doing my physical yoga practice, sitting in nature, and relishing in the love of my family. Yoga has taught me how to not hold back. So, I saturate myself in these spaces so deeply, and it recharges my soul. When we practice this, we can step into failure, and even heartbreak with a new sense of wisdom and even appreciation. For me, unleashing my connection has been the key to staying with my breath and in peace no matter my surroundings.

My main goal as a teacher is to let each student know that they are already a miracle. They are already divine. They already have that ticket, and to take great comfort in that. Once we can truly see, feel, and know that truth—which can be very hard to grasp—we are free. It’s not about perfection, it’s about connection. Once we can make a home within ourselves, we stop setting expectations of others, we stop comparing so much, and we stop believing in so many false truths we may have been taught. I try my best to offer an invitation, or a permission of sorts while on the mat. I know I needed to hear that permission from my teacher. And because I trusted her, and saw her testimony through her actions, practice, and her words, I began to really consider that invitation. It just takes one moment like this, and your entire lens can change.

Yoga of 12 Step Recovery

Y12 SR stands for Yoga of 12 Step Recovery. It combines the wisdom of yoga with the practical tools of the 12 steps program. It was founded by Nikki Meyers, who like many yogis in recovery recognized the parallels between the ancient wisdom of the yoga sutras and the 12-steps that are practiced in self-help meetings around the world. Many people in recovery from various addictions have found that yoga is helpful in being re-connected to their mind, body, and spirit. Addiction is centeredon disconnection and is often considered a spiritual, mental, and physical disease. In recovery, we work to get re-connected. Yoga means “to yoke” or union and through the physical, spiritual, and mental practice we begin to re-connect to our true self.

What should I expect in a Y12SR meeting? Y12SR begins with a group-sharing circle where attendees are able to talk about their own recovery successes and challenges and relate it to the 12 steps. It is an all-recovery meeting, so attendees may be in recovery from chemical or behavioral addiction of any type or affected by the addiction of another person. After sharing, the yogis “take it to the mat” for meditation and the physical practice that allows us to strengthen and heal. Y12SR can be part of a relapse prevention program and is based on the Yoga Sutra 2.16, “Future Suffering Can Be Avoided”.

Come join Patti Agatston, RYT200 and certified Y12SR Leader on the 2nd and 4th Saturday of each month at SOL Yoga!  Meetings are from 4:30 – 6:00 p.m. Meetings are donation based.

For more information about Y12SR: https://y12sr.com/about

Balance the Wheels through Asana Practice

This month as a part of the SOL community offerings to our students, we are focusing our attention on the third limb of the 8-limbed path of yoga: asana. The root word of asana means comfortable seat, specifically meaning the seat that you would take when meditating. Historically we know that people were meditating for thousands of years, but this practice of meditation has evolved over time with the development of many styles of modern yoga. The meaning of asana has now evolved to mean any pose or posture. Just as the Yamas and the Niyamas are the inward guidelines for a yoga practicioner, asanas are the physical purification to seek steadiness and centeredness. When most people discuss the practice of yoga, they immediately think of the the physical asana practice because that is what is most prevalent in our society.

Asana refers to a comfortable seat because most of the seated poses were used in the past to prepare for meditation. Asana doesn’t always mean creating an aesthetically beautiful posture. It’s simply any posture that we can hold comfortably and steadily. Through the practice of physical asanas, we can develop a habit of discipline and concentration. We use our bodies so that the mind is given a healthy state. Since the mind and body are directly linked with one another, the intention for the asana practice is to connect the mind and body on the same page of peace and inner calmness. When we find this steadiness in both the mind and body, we can find a place of ease.

Energetically speaking, we can use the physical asana practice to influence energetic pathways in the body.  There are several energy channels located on key points in the body known as the chakra system. Chakras have come to our Western culture through the practice of yoga but they have existed for thousands of years and across many cultures. Since yoga is a discipline that is designed to unite the individual with the higher self, we achieve this connection of the divine and individual by passing through states of consciousness. The chakras represent these states. So what is the chakra system and how does it connect to our asana practice? Chakra literally means ‘wheel’ or ‘disk. There are seven of these energetic wheels that stack in a column of energy that begins at the base of the spine up to the crown of the head. Chakras are not physical entities that we can see, but they are like feelings and ideas. We cannot see them, but they have a strong effect upon the body. The effect that they can have upon us includes patterns manifested in our lives, and the way that we think, feel, and handle situations that are presented to us in life. The chakras are related to various states of consciousness and different types of elements to represent, describe, and understand them in the best way possible. The lower chakras, for example, are often associated with more physical matters of our lives such as survival, movement, and action whereas the upper chakras are ruled by more spiritual and symbolic realms such as words, images, and concepts. Understanding each chakra will allow us to better understand ourselves.

So let’s briefly learn about each chakra.

The first chakra is the root chakra, or Muladhara chakra and is located at the base of the spine. The Muladhara chakra’s role is grounding. It corresponds to the element of Earth. A plant cannot survive without roots and neither can the psyche of humans. Our roots represent where we come from and we need the basic form of survival to feel alive and to nourish ourselves. A balanced first chakra is understanding and accepting our past while maintaining our current connection to the Earth.

The second chakra, sacral or Svadisthana chakra, is located at the lower abdomen. This chakra’s purpose is movement and connection. It is the energy that allows you to enjoy the fruits of your labor including sexual pleasure and emotional connection. Our element has shifted from Earth to water; from solid to liquid. As the first chakra allows us to feel grounded and supported, the second chakra challenges us to change in just the opposite way. Our challenge here is to let go, to flow, to move, to feel and to yield.

The third chakra, solar plexus or Manipura chakra is located in your gut above your naval. This is the power chakra that is related to the element of fire. Self-confidence, identity, ego, and personal power lies within this chakra. This is the chakra that requires transformation and the right to act. We feel balanced in this area if we feel a sense of wisdom and decisiveness without a big ego and without feeling the need to control.

The fourth chakra, heart or Anahata chakra is located in your chest. This chakra allows us to love and to be loved for ourselves and others. The corresponding element is air. Even when hard circumstances happen, a balanced heart chakra still sees the compassion and kindness in others despite the challenges. The heart chakra is also connected to breaking down the barriers and defenses by learning to love ourselves so that we can love others too and by allowing others to love us.

The fifth chakra, throat or Vishuddha chakra is located in our throat and voice. The throat chakra lets us speak our truth and clearly express ourselves. Speaking our truth is not always easy, but so vital so that we can be ourselves without feeling ashamed for being who we are. This chakra, related to the element of sound, is about voicing our truth in a loving and kind way that will inspire and enlighten those around us.

The sixth chakra, third-eye or Ajna chakra is located between our eyebrows. This is the chakra to see and to perceive. The sixth chakra, corresponding to the element of light, opens up our minds to information beyond the five senses. It’s the sense of intuition. When the Ajna chakra is balanced, we feel equally in tune with the physical and spiritual world. This is the chakra that shows what we are trying to achieve when we begin the path of spiritual development.

The last chakra, crown or Sahaswara chakra is located on the top of the head. This chakra is pure consciousness energy. The crown chakra that corresponds to the element of thought is the chakra of understanding and the right to know. It’s the hardest one to explain since it is the goal of a spiritual warrior. It the last step of the spiritual journey to be connected with the Divine or universal energy. Some of us may be closer to achieving a balanced crown chakra than others. In any case however, practicing spiritual development and balancing your six other chakras will bring you closer to experiencing the energy in the crown chakra.

Our chakras can fluctuate by being open, closed off or imbalanced. We can often see this physical reflection of a blockage in our energy lines. For example, if we are having a hard time accepting others into our lives through love and compassion by constantly building barriers, we may see a sunken chest or shoulders rounding forward. The physical body often times is directly linked to our emotional state. We can in turn use the practice of yoga to create a sequence that influences the heart chakra to create more space and less blockages in the body. It is easier said than done, but we find over time that when we intentionally sequence a yoga asana flow while keeping in mind of particular chakras, this creates a balance of our emotional qualities and our energetic body.

If you are curious about how these 7 chakras work within the physical practice of yoga,  ask one of our SOL Yoga teachers.  We look forward to seeing you in the studio and we look forward to sharing with you about the connection between the asana practice and the chakra system in hopes of understanding ourselves on a deeper level.   It is always a privilege to share what I know, what I believe, and what I am truly passionate about.

Namaste -Kyler Brady

SOL Yoga Teacher Training YTT 200 hour Certification starts January 2019

Please join us for an informational meeting on Monday evening, November 26, 2018 at 6:00 pm to learn more about our SOL Yoga Teacher Training program for 2019. Application to be submitted before Dec. 15, 2018.

We are offering our 200 hour SOL Yoga Teacher Training beginning January 2019 through April 2019.

Whether you passion is for vinyasa flow or restorative yin practice, this teacher training certification program provides you with the tools to bring your passion for yoga to others. This program is also perfect for the yoga student who wants to dive deeper into their personal yoga practice by learning the philosophy behind the asanas and much more!

SOL Yoga 200 hour RYT Yoga Teaching Team 2019:
Belinda Fleming, Lead Teacher, RYT 500, & E-RYT 200 and SOL Yoga Staff Co-Lead Teachers including Erin Beadle, RYT 500, Sarah Alderson, RYT 200, Kyler Brady, RYT 200 and other SOL Yoga teachers as mentors for our YTT trainees.

Our SOL Yoga teacher training is open to yoga students who want to deepen their knowledge of the ancient practice of yoga and become a certified yoga teacher recognized through the Yoga Alliance. The study and application of yoga philosophy will be an integral part of this 16 week training program including in depth discussions and implementation of a Yogic lifestyle as detailed in the 8 limbed path of yoga by Patanjali. Teacher trainees will achieve comprehension of the asanas through observation , alignment application and experience how the poses share a common foundation and build upon this foundation. Teacher Trainees will demonstrate proper alignment and sequencing for poses while teaching yoga classes in a clear and concise manner based on teaching methodology presented in our comprehensive Ashtangasana curriculum.

***Early bird rate of $2800 paid in full by December 10, 2018 ( cash, debit or credit card)

**Discounted rate of $3000 first payment of $500 paid by December 10, 2018 and 4 installment payments of $625 paid in full by April 15, 2019

*Full price $3200 first payment of $500 paid by December 30, 2018 and 4 installment payments of $700 paid in full by April 15, 2019

Where: SolYoga – West Cobb at 3931 Mary Eliza Trace, Suite 210, Marietta, GA 30064

Meeting times:

January 2, 2019 thru April 20, 2019
Wednesday: 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Saturday: 11:00 am – 5:00 pm

2 Scheduled Make up Days for excused absences: Sunday March 7, Sunday April 14, 2019

Graduation date: April 20,2019

Niyamas: Personal Observances

During the month of October, our SOL Yoga teachers integrated the 5 niyamas throughout their classes in the studio. Being true to the ancient traditional teachings of the 8 limbed path for yogis’ is the true essence of SOL Yoga’s dharma (purpose). The Yoga Sutra’s by Patanjali are one of the foundational texts of classical Yoga philosophy (written prior to 450 A.D.) and continues to touch the lives of Yogis all over the world.

According to T.K.V. Desikachar, “How we relate to ourselves inwardly is called niyama… Compared with the yamas, the niyamas are more intimate and personal. They refer to the attitude we adopt toward ourselves.” It is necessary to look inward to heal and maintain self-awareness in our body, mind and soul in order to live a balanced and fulfilled life.

Pantanjali states the Niyamas as follows:

1. [Sauca]- Cleanliness, or keeping our bodies and our surroundings clean and neat.
2. [Santosa]- Contentment, or the ability to be comfortable with what we have and what we do not have.
3. [Tapas]- The removal of impurities in our physical and mental systems through the maintenance of such correct habits as sleep, exercise, nutrition, work, and relaxation.
4. [Svadhyaya]- Study and the necessity to review and evaluate our progress.
5. [Ishvarapranidhana]- Reverence to a higher intelligence or the acceptance of our limitations in relation to God, the all-knowing.

Diving deeper into each of the five Niyamas, we start with the first niyama, Sauca, the practice of cleanliness. Working to keep our environment clean helps to purify our body and mind. Both internal and external cleanliness requires awareness and discipline to keep our bodies and minds pure. We should constantly practice asanas, pranayama, and mindful meditation. A consistent yoga practice in the studio as well as a personal home practice allow Sauca to be prevalent in all aspects of our daily living. By maintaining our living spaces on and off our yoga mat in a clean and wholesome environment, we can achieve cleanliness and purity of body and mind.

Santosa, the second niyama, means contentment. In our society, it’s easy to get caught up in having the newest and best things. We are blessed to live in a country where abundance abounds, however, many times there is more focus on “want” as opposed to “need.” By learning to be happy with what we have and not constantly going after something newer and better, we can find more peace and joy in our life instead of feeling unsatisfied. Another side to Santosa is accepting what happens without being attached to the outcome. Things don’t always go the way we plan and that can be frustrating. Instead of allowing unwanted results to cloud our mind, we can learn from those situations and apply those lessons to our lives. In our yoga class, this can be applied in many ways. Some days our bodies can be more malleable than other days. The next time you are in class, begin to practice observing your body and if it isn’t  moving as well as you want it to, try practicing Santosa by finding contentment in whatever your body offers you in that moment without labeling it as good or bad.

Many of us love to grab tapas at our local restaurant, but Tapas, in yogic philosophy, is quite different. Tapas, the third niyama, is self-discipline and keeping the body physically fit. In order for our bodies to remain healthy as we age, it is imperative to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Through daily meditation, even just five minutes a day, our mind experiences more clarity. Taking time to practice pranayama (breathing techniques) every day stimulates a healthy respiratory system and central nervous system. A consistent asana practice creates strength and flexibility and aids in promoting healthy organs and provides detoxification of toxins and impurities. Desikachar says, “[Tapas] means to heat the body, and by doing so, to cleanse it. Behind the notion of tapas lies the idea that we can get rid of the rubbish in our body.” Years ago, many people would go to gurus when they were physically/mentally suffering. These gurus would help people transform their health through asana, pranayama, and meditation. The Yogic philosophy also talks about eating a vegetarian diet, and though that might not be your path, making mindful choices to eat clean by choosing to eat organically as much as possible is important. Maybe consider choosing a vegetarian dish a few times a week and skipping out on that chocolate filled desert every now and then.

Svadhyaya is self-study and the “repetition of mantras” which is the fourth niyama. No matter how well you know yourself, there can still be moments of going inward and honoring and observing your seat of consciousness. Yoga helps you disconnect from the world so that you can truly focus on what’s happening internally and observe without external distractions. This is a great time to do some “self-study”. Where can you release tension as you practice your asanas? Why does your breath catch in one asana and not another? Is your left side tighter than your right side? What thoughts keep coming up while you are practicing on your yoga mat? Study your body and your thought patterns. In your meditation, you can incorporate the practice of mantras, also known as Japa meditation. Your mantra does not have to be in Sanskrit but it should be unique to you and something that you want to live by. It can be many words, or it can just be one word. Practice your self-study and repeat your mantra so that it becomes a tool to help quiet the mind and find inner peace and stillness.

Isvarapranidhana, the last Niyama in the Yoga Sutras, is translated as “to lay all your actions at the feet of God” or more simply “surrender.” Practice letting go. Learning to surrender can be one of the hardest things to do. Some people think surrendering is a sign of weakness, but in reality, it is very powerful and requires vulnerability. Being humble and seeking refuge on and off your yoga mat will help you attain connection to the Divine.

Practice self-observation. Meditate on what your body, mind and soul need daily. Keep your living environment clean and purify your mind by associating with good energy. Be content with what has been given to you and avoid complaining about situations that don’t go your way. Find your daily routine and practice self-discipline. Listen to your body and study what it is telling you. Focus on a mantra that works for your practice. Learn to surrender. Work through the Niyamas within your life and within your yoga practice, and you will start to feel more joy and happiness in your life.

“Rid your body of its impurities, let your speech be true and sweet, feel friendship for the world, and with humility seek wealth and knowledge.”

–Sloka 26, T. Krishnamacharya

Namaste ~Diana La

Live Music: Acoustic Guitar & Yin on 10/10/1018 at 7 p.m. with James Hall

James Hall

Musician and Yogi

“I have been consistently interested in ​the edge​ or the ​fringe​ of expression. This has followed me throughout music, learning and my own yoga practice.” Self educated multi-instrumentalist and songwriter James Hall got his start on violin and guitar before he was out of elementary school. Throughout his teens and twenties, he concentrated on songwriting, with a focus on piano and guitar. Since then, Hall has enjoyed touring more than 13 countries, record deals and releases, playing festivals and making friends all over the world. “In all humility, I am luckier than I deserve to be. I am aware that there are many, many more talented than me, who’ve worked harder than me, and yet never got that far.”

James has been studying ambient, or atmospheric music since 1988, and its effect on the workplace and leisure environments. Hearing the earliest works of Brian Eno was like a gateway for the budding musician which promptly led him to the works of John Cage, Steve Reich, Laurie Anderson, Sheila Chandra, John Cale, and Japan, among others. “As a musician, this music throttled and intrigued me. As a performer, I had very little room to present its impact on me.” By 2006, Hall had quit touring and began practicing yoga in 2014. “I must express some relief over no longer ​having to tour​, in other words, being ​gone​ all the time! Since then, my concentration has been on spiritual, mental and physical health, so yoga has been a natural fit. Getting a chance to share the gift of music as a part of a yoga practice is something I am very passionate about!”


Solyoga Bio

Yama: the first limb of Yoga

Yama is the first limb of the eightfold path for Yogis as described in The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali written prior to 450 A.D. and is the foundational text of classical Yoga philosophy then and today. There are five Yamas which serve as a prescription for moral and ethical conduct for the practicing Yogi. Generally, Westerners tend to be drawn to only one or two limbs of yoga…. mostly, the Asanas (the physical postures in yoga) and the Pranayama (the breathing techniques used in yoga).

At SOL Yoga studio, our yoga teachers have received training in all of the 8 limbs of Yoga and our mission is to pass on to our Yoga Students the true essence of yoga in each class we offer. This month our dharma (purpose) is to guide you and bring awareness to Yama: the first limb of Yoga. Each teacher will be incorporating different characteristics of the 5 Yamas to achieve balance and well-being on and off the yoga mat.

Ahimsa (non-violence), Satya (truth), Asteya (non-stealing), Brahmacharya (continence) and Aparigraha (non-coveting). We are instructed to avoid violence, lying, stealing, wasting energy and possessiveness.

The benefits of studying the Yamas in more detail helps us to bring awareness to how our actions affect ourselves, as well as, others. “Practice, practice and all is coming” doesn’t only refer to our physical yoga practice, it also refers to how we interact within our community and our society.

When our actions and choices “do no harm” to ourselves or others this is practicing Ahimsa, non-violence. One way we practice Ahimsa is being compassionate to all living beings which creates an attitude of peacefulness and positivity. In it’s purest form, ahimsa, is the truest expression of unconditional love. This implies that we cease all hostilities choosing harmony and peace instead. Taking the high road as they say for the greater good when possible. Ahimsa in relation to our diet for many Yogi’s means being a vegetarian but that doesn’t mean that dietary choice is for everyone. Whether you choose to eat animal products, or not is a personal choice. Consider eating organically to limit the harm of pesticides. Consider eating a vegetarian meal a few times a week. Choose environmentally friendly household products to eliminate harmful chemicals in your home. Practicing Ahimsa of the mind by letting go of negative thoughts and letting go of negative emotions such as jealousy, resentment, and anger. When we pay attention to our thoughts and our actions we can find many ways to practice Ahimsa.

Being committed to truthfulness is Satya. The word “sat” in Sanskrit translates to “true nature”. There are many levels to truthfulness including one’s thoughts, speech and actions. Sometimes our past experiences cloud our judgement and alter our truth and it is quite challenging to practice staying open to the truth in the present tense. It takes a lot of self inquiry to let go of old thought patterns or past experiences that may be keeping us from finding the unwavering truth in the present moment. In our yoga practice, we take time to sit with ourselves and find stillness of the body and mind. This allows us to create the space we need to turn inward and experience truth from a place of openness instead of a place of defensiveness or fear.

Cultivating the yama of non-stealing requires us to take a subtle look at the idea of stealing. Asteya reminds us to respect our time and the time of others. All we have is today since tomorrow is never promised to anyone. When we say we will do something then we show up and do it. When we have a meeting at a specific time, we honor it and show respect to those involved by being on time. On our yoga mat, we let go of the need to compare our practice to others because it only serves to steal our joy. Through the practice of yoga, we learn to avoid living in the past or wishing for the future, instead we focus on being aware of the present moment in any given situation.

Brahmacharya translates into the “right use of energy” and challenges us to use our energy wisely and direct our energy towards peace and harmony within ourselves. Taking time to think about how we use our energy and learning to listen to what our body needs in order to maintain overall health and well-being. Our yoga practice helps us to balance our energy in ways that boost our immune system and increase our vitality, the power giving continuance of life, present in all living things.

Lastly, to be free from hoarding is Aparigraha. Just as one should not steal or take things one does not really need, so one should not hoard or collect things one does not require. Neither should one take anything without working for it, for this indicates poverty of spirit. Aparigraha often translates in Sanskrit to “non-greed”, ‘non-possessiveness” and “non-attachment”. The Yogi believes the collection of hoarding implies the lack of faith in God and in oneself to provide. By the observance of Aparigraha, the yogi makes life as simple as possible and trains the mind not to feel the loss or the lack of anything. Take only what you need and let go of what you do not need.

Again, it is important to draw your attention to the Yamas in a more subtle context. Let go of your worry as it will not add one day to your life. Practice yoga for the sake of practicing, do your best to let go of the outcome or achieving a certain pose. Simply come to your yoga mat without expectation just breathing, moving your body and being aware of all the sensations as they arise. If we practice without forcing, without judgement and without attachment the body will unfold naturally and the beauty of the yoga practice will be evident each and every time you come to your mat. In daily life, one way Aparigraha can be practiced is by taking time to reflect on all of your possessions and consider how it might be beneficial to let go of some of the things you no longer use or need and pass them on to someone who may benefit from them and begin moving towards a less cluttered home and life. In regards to our diet, consider eating moderately to avoid over-eating as a hindrance in your yoga practice and your overall health. Lastly, learning to live in the moment and not clinging to attachments, learning to be okay with whatever we are experiencing without trying to push your emotions away or clinging too much to something or someone. Allowing things to be as they are, knowing that all things shall pass in their own time and knowing that we should be open to the light and the dark and allowing ourselves the freedom of our experiences to be the observer of all that is happening internally and externally. Acknowledging that change is the only thing that is constant in life allows us to let things come and go without possessiveness.

We look forward to exploring and going deeper into the five Yamas in our yoga practice at SOL this month. Namaste. Belinda

Finding Your Center

“The yoga pose is not the goal. Becoming flexible or standing on your hands is not the goal. The goal is to create space where you were once stuck. To unveil layers of protection you’ve built around your heart. To appreciate your body and become aware of the mind and the noise it can create. To make peace with who you are.”

I love this quote by Rachel Brathen. Are you at peace with who you are? Through a consistent yoga practice you can take the necessary time to check in with yourself. Let go of your to do list, the constant demands placed on you and reconnect with your breath while moving through yoga poses, linking them together and quieting the mind. At SOL we start each yoga class with an intention. This month our Yoga teachers are focused on the idea of “finding your center”. Showing up for yoga class, taking time for self care, reading a book, spending time with family and friends. Focus on what is important in your life. Let go of the distractions that are holding you back and preventing you from having peace and balance in your life. Take care of your physical body, maintain a healthy mindset and open your heart to feel and live your best life. You only get one! Namaste, Belinda