Archive for the ‘arlington’ Category

ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes!

One of the Buddha’s well-known quotes is “nothing is permanent“.  It’s true, with time everything eventually changes.  As humans, we are constantly evolving.  Our physical bodies change over the years.  Our life experiences change how we perceive the world and our everyday relationships.  We have career changes.  Our beloved bank merges with another bank and now there’s a new debit card and website.  Or the best yoga teacher you’ve ever had decides to move to another country.   On top of all this, technology is constantly driving changes in how we shop, communicate and simply live life.

So here’s where my new changes come into play…Almost 7 years now, my easy to set up “yoga blog by abellaYoga” allowed me the freedom to start blogging about anything and everything related to yoga – teaching yoga, questions from students I received, the business of yoga, yoga philosophy, meditation, etc.  Fortunately too, my simple abellaYoga.com website also worked for what I needed during these last several years.  And as much as I held on (with a tight grip!) to keep my simple website and blog running “as is”, it became clear over the  last couple years that big changes in how I presented abellaYoga were looming.  My template-driven website no longer fully represented the professionalism of my mobile yoga service – nor did it express the extent I have grown as a yoga teacher and student in my yoga journey thus far.

So here I am unveiling a new look to abellaYoga.com which includes the abellaYoga blog as being fully integrated into the new web site.  Bad news is if you’ve been subscribing to abellaYoga.wordpress.com, you’ll experience some changes.  For instance, those simple emails you use to receive with my latest blog posts are fading away until I figure out how to set up a new email subscription plug-in/widget/whatever into the abellaYoga.com/blog  Oh yeah, and there’s a new blog address:  abellaYoga.com/blog

Change is great but it often requires patience, particularly on my part as I attempt to live right now in a tech hat instead of on a yoga mat.  So as I navigate through these tech changes over the next few weeks, please be patient.  Check back frequently.  The old blog address will automatically be redirected to the new abellaYoga.com/blog in the next day or so.  I have at least figured that out!

Change can be scary but it’s often exactly what we need to take us to the next stage of health and happiness in all arenas of our lives -personal, professional and spiritual.   Change is inevitable and we’re all going through it more often than not.  It’s best to stay positive, remember you’re not alone and keep in mind nothing last forever.

Melody of abellaYoga has been gratefully teaching yoga full-time in Washington, DC, Alexandria and Arlington, VA since 2006.  Thankful for experiences gained in the telecom/tech corporate world, this ex-marketing, yoga-chick is happy to share all she knows about yoga with all.

Advertisements

The Buiness of Yoga (part 2)

Let me state upfront:  This is all about YOU.  My intention in sharing this “business of yoga” jazz is to simply offer you what’s worked for me.  Period.  It is not to say what I’m doing will work for you, or is even right for you.

In many ways I consider how I’m sharing these yoga biz tips to be similar to how I teach yoga to my private yoga students and corporate yoga clients…I’m just offering guidance through the process/class of yoga postures.  It’s up to you to dig deep and listen to YOU.

So here goes.  The following 5 yoga biz tips come straight from my heart.  These are simply lessons I’ve personally learned along the way as I built abellaYoga (a mobile yoga business serving Washington, DC, Alexandria and Arlington, VA)  from scratch.

1)  Be your own best ambassador.  Tell everyone you know what you’re doing, what type of people you want to teach (i.e. athletes, , moms, seniors, office employees, kids, corporate executives, etc.)  The point is whatever speaks to you “speak about it”.  Go beyond facebook.  Meet with people face-to-face.  Make notes to follow-up with people you met last month.  Thank people for listening and don’t expect anything in return.  This is all known as “networking” and it takes time and patience.  For those who have been following me on the Yoga Sutra path, reference my blog post covering sutra 1.13

2)  Decide where you will teach once you figure out who you want to teach (see tip #1).  Get creative.  There is plenty of space available to teach yoga.  A yoga studio is an obvious choice as are your local gym and community center.  Think outside of the yoga box…grassy fields, theaters, museums, office buildings.  Explore potential “free” spaces.  To this day, I have yet to pay for space to teach my classes.

3)  Do what you do best and outsource the rest.  Not a numbers person?  Hire an accountant — he’s one of my key advisors 🙂  Not very creative?  Barter for website services and a logo.  This list could go on and on.  Clearly the point is, focus on teaching and whatever else it is you love.  Pass the other “stuff” to those who like to deal with the “stuff”.   Writing this reminds me of Dharana, sutra 3.1:  Dharana is the binding of the mind to one place, object or idea.  Again, stay focused on what you do best and outsource the rest.

4) Teach during your peak energy time.  This was huge for me.  As yoga teachers, we need to show up awake, alive and ready to inspire.  How can you do that if you’re teaching tomorrow bright & early, yet you just went to bed because 20 minutes ago you left teaching a 9pm class at your local yoga studio?  Listen..If you’re a morning person aim to teach yoga in the mornings through the afternoon.  If you’re a night owl, then teach classes late day/evening.  Again, listen to YOU.

5) Practice, practice, practice!   I can’t say this enough.  Don’t sacrifice your personal yoga practice for teaching yoga.  Inspire yourself via your own yoga practice.  Burn through your doubts.  Hello tapas!  (See sutra 2.1 for Tapas details) It’s through your time on the mat you’ll find your creative expression as a teacher.  No practice = no expression.  It’s that simple.   As Pattabhi Jois said “practice and all is coming.”

Done.  Some of the above may be helpful or none of it may work for you.  Take what you want, leave the rest.  Most importantly, follow your heart.  PS:  Here’s  “The Business of Yoga (part 1)” if you missed it.

abellaYoga has been gratefully teaching yoga full-time in Washington, DC, Alexandria and Arlington, VA since 2006.  Thankful for experiences gained in the telecom/tech corporate world, this ex-marketing, yoga-chick is happy to share all she knows about yoga with all.

Satya Will Set You Free (sutra 2.36)

After teaching a corporate yoga class the other morning, I decided to head to the Clarendon Starbucks (sorry, Arlington, VA for those reading unfamiliar with the DC area) to grab a warm drink and read.  I had about 20 minutes to kill before heading to my private client’s house around the corner so I decided to sit.

After sitting at the community table (i.e. a long table with multiple strangers, each doing their own thing), I stood up to put my coat on, my book in my bag and exit.  The guy across from me said “that was fast”.  The guy’s friend just smiled politely.  Then the “guy” said “so you’re a yoga instructor?”  (side note:  Clearly this “guy”  just eavesdropped on a conversation I had moments before with someone who I use to work with eons ago at MCI.  The ex-MCI colleague happen to recognize me as he was making his departure.  He stopped and we caught up on jobs, life, stuff.)

The conversation with the guy/stranger went like this:

-guy:  I have a “good” friend who’s a yoga instructor.  He’s been teaching yoga “for like 12 years”.

-me:  “Oh really, what’s his name?”

-guy: (Long silence with his eyes squinting, and his friend & me staring at him)

-guy’s friend:  “I thought you said he was your friend???”

-me:  “…a good friend?”

-guy:  “His name is XXX”  (me here:  I don’t remember the name).  Then the “guy” continues to say “I wasn’t expecting you to ask for his name so quickly”.

-me:  “Well, I don’t know him (with a smile).  Have a nice weekend.”

As I walked away, I was thinking what kind of “good” friend was this…someone he met on the metro once and never saw again.  Or maybe he’s just a facebook friend.  And as we all know, facebook has somewhat become a violation of satya…I mean take inventory of how many of your “facebook friends” are truly friends vs. acquaintances.  I am at full violation here.  Do you think I really have 600+ friends?

Anyway, on the walk to my car after this brief Starbucks encounter I felt lied to.  Here I didn’t even know the “guy” nor his Starbucks friend (or the yoga instructor).  I’m assuming he was trying to impress me but why?  Suddenly I felt sorry for the “guy”.  If he’s telling a little white lie to a stranger, then what types of lies does he tell his “real” friends or even just facebook friends?

Why?  Why tell a lie even if it’s small and meaningless?  Coincidentally, I had a copy of The Yoga Sutras in hand (that was the book I had been sitting in Starbucks reading & placing in my bag as the “guy” tried to name his yoga instructor friend).  In hindsight, I should have opened it up and read sutra 2.36 that specifically speaks about satya (satya is Sanskrit for truth)…“To one established in truthfulness, actions and their results become subservient.” 

More on satya (truth) as explained further by Swami Satchidananda in The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali“The more we lead a life of honesty, the more we will see the results, and that will encourage us to be more honest.  With establishment in honesty, the state of fearlessness comes.  One need not be afraid of anybody and can always lead an open life.  When there are no lies, the entire life becomes an open book.  But this comes only with an absolutely honest mind.  When the mind becomes clear and serene, the true Self reflects without disfigurement, and we realize the Truth in its own original nature.”

Start with your words.  Think the truth.  Speak the truth and then your actions will be true.  From there (with practice & patience), you’ll stand in your truth.  Trust me, satya/sutra 2.36 is a big sutra to fill and I often catch myself telling the little white lie.  So I must say:  thank you Starbucks “guy” for reminding me to speak the truth, act the truth and live the truth.     

Santosha – Discovered in a Bad Yoga Class

“By contentment, supreme joy is gained.”  sutra 2.42

“Niyama consists of purity, contentment, accepting but not causing pain, study, and self-surrender.  sutra 2.32

Santosha is Sanskrit for contentment.  The word contentment/santosha is first mentioned in The Yoga Sutras among the list of five niyamas (sutra 2.32)Side note:  My take on the niyamas is they guide our internal compass.  They’re ethical principles (or observances) that strengthen our character and guide us to live life in the best, most purest way possible.  As a result, they help us shine in a way that inspires others to live richer lives.  Richer meaning all the wealth we truly need is deep within, and not found held in a bank account.

Back to contentment/santosha.  In my yoga studies, I’ve seen many deep definitions on contentment.  From a simple idea like contentment is being able to appreciate and live in the present moment to a more thought-provoking description of “Contentment is perfected in the absence of cravings.  It is the experience that nothing is lacking, that everything happens is an integral part of a Divine Plan.” (quoted from Inside the Yoga Sutras by Jaganath Carrera)

It’s often said that we already have everything we need.  Or as Sri Dharma Mittra says “all is within.”  Though our culture wants us to believe we need “things” or other people to make us happy.  The “things” list is long but a few examples:  new toys (cars, bikes, clothes, accessories), fancy restaurants, botox, a different boyfriend/husband/family.  You get the drift.  I have many friends who are always seeking beyond what they have and at the same time they’ve yet to take time to fully appreciate what exist in their lives.

The path of yoga leads us in the opposite direction…let go of external desires and internal contentment will be discovered.  Though the process of discovering contentment requires a huge mound of trust, courage and attention.  It takes a lot of trust to follow a notion, such as the niyama contentment, when no one is there to hold your hand and lead you through the dark moments of life.  It also takes a lot of courage to fully step in and feel life as it is happening – feeling the awesome, okay, bad, scary and all the sensations in between that show up.  It takes a lot of paying attention to the present experience – being in it, as it is and not mentally jumping ahead to what’s happening 5 hours later the day.

Total confession here…I took a not so great yoga class this past weekend in DC and it was there that I experienced santosha in a new wayLast side note:  My new goal is to try 2 new (new to me) yoga teachers a month in the DC area.  Not a tough challenge given there are sooooo many studios now in the DC Metro Area (defined in my mind as Arlington, VA;  Alexandria, VA; Washington, DC;  Bethesda, MD).  So I signed up for what was listed as a vinyasa yoga /intermediate level class.  Let’s just say after starting in a restorative pose for 10+ minutes and not getting into my first Downward Facing Dog until 20 minutes into class, I was not content.  Thanks to my Grandmother’s constant words of wisdom, I reminded myself that there is always something new to learn in every situation in life.  Though I continued to find myself way too often checking the clock, realizing I had no idea the end time for the class and feeling I was stuck there.  Then I thought “I’m stuck here for a reason”.  That’s when I settled in and tried to make the best of it.

I can’t say I learned anything “new” from the teacher but I had a total realization that my life could be way worse.  Here I was on a Sunday morning surrounded by 40 or so others in a yoga class, bending and stretching in ways that many people aren’t able to do.  I have a healthy body and a great life.  The sun was coming out and I had a full day off ahead.  Life could be so much worse.  It was there and then I reminded myself of santosha.

Dharma Whispering in my Head

Sutra 1.2, as I blogged here, defines yoga as stilling the fluctuations of the mind.  Yet it is sutra 2.1 starts to address what yoga practice is all about. 

Accepting pain as help for purification, study and surrender to the Supreme Being constitute Yoga practice.  sutra 2.1 

This sutra really offers up the nitty-gritty of yoga and clearly demonstrates that yoga is so much more than just asana.  Of course, depending on one’s intention, an asana practice can (and should) contain discipline, self-study and total surrender.  Truly this is what can make the practice of asana a beautiful yogic experience and transform one’s life beyond the yoga mat.   Unfortunately I think most today practicing asana miss out on the three essential elements stated in sutra 2.1 (discipline + study + surrender = aka kriya yoga) as they are only drawn to yoga as a fitness regime.

Personally, I absolutely can’t read sutra 2.1 without thinking about Sri Dharma Mittra and what originally drew me to him.  It’s impossible to take a class with him and not hear him speak to this sutra in his own subtle way.  He always says things like:  Surrender the fruits of all actions.  Study yoga text every day, even if just for a few minutes.  Do a little asana every day (tapas) – a few minutes a day is better than three hours just one day a week.

Even as I do my home yoga practice and traverse around the streets of Arlington, VA and DC, I am constantly welcoming his voice in my head messaging sutra 2.1:  The key to success is repetition (tapas).  Invite every pose to be an offering (surrender).  You have to find your own tricks (study).  For the instructions of this sutra and the spiritual presence of Dharma Mittra in my life, I am forever gratefully humbled to be a Dharma yogi.

Stumped by sutra 4.19

The mind-stuff is not self-luminous because it is an object of perception by the Purusha.  sutra 4.19  (Purusha is known as the individual soul, divine Self in all beings)  

I knew there would come a time during my 2012 yoga sutra journey/writing when I would be completely stumped.  Well that day is here.  The truth is the day actually happened a couple of weeks ago.  I kept thinking if I held off on this posting something inspiring would show up in my life that could help me relate to sutra 4.19.  Unfortunately, I have yet to have an “aha!” moment.  Rather than waiting, I figured I would just be honest and say “I’m stumped”.

As I sat in my local Arlington/neighborhood coffee shop one morning (again, nearly two weeks ago), I decided I would randomly flip through one of my sutra texts with my eyes closed.  Where ever my finger landed that would be the sutra I would contemplate and blog about for that week.  As I did this, probably looking odd doing it in public, I recalled this was a tactic used with a Bible in the memoir Running with Scissors.  It seemed to work well in the book.  They even had a catchy name for it — Bible surfing???  So I figured what the heck, I’ll try sutra surfing.

As you may have already sensed, “sutra surfing” didn’t turn out so well for me.  Though I somewhat understand what sutra 4.19 means, I don’t know how to apply it or have yet to see/feel it in my everyday life.  Needless to say, I am totally stumped and don’t have any personal insight to share.

Add to this, I haven’t really delved deep into Book 4 of The Yoga Sutras.  All I can do is take my “stumpedness” (a made-up Melody word) as a sign…I need to get my head out of Books 1 & 2 and move on.  I’ve been so intrigued with the first two books of The Yoga Sutras.  Every time I venture further, I end up back in the beginning.  As my practice of concentration and meditation have deepened over this past year, I have dabbled in Book 3 and glanced through Book 4.  Yet it almost never fails…I end up back at the beginning (i.e. in either Book 1 or 2).

Personally, I believe the first two Books of The Yoga Sutras just have so much rich and applicable instruction to help us find peace with the obstacles we face daily on our journey in life.  I guess my message is if you’re overwhelmed (aka stumped!) by the sutras, stick with Books 1 & 2 for a while.  For many, including myself, that is probably enough in this lifetime.

Note to self:  The next time I attempt “sutra surfing”, it will be more towards the middle of the text-book while I cross my fingers on the other hand hoping I land in either Book 1, 2 or 3.

Happy Mind, Happy Life (sutra 1.33)

I opened my last post the exact same way…yoga studios in the Northern Virginia/DC area these days are showing up on every corner, becoming as commonplace as Starbucks.  Overall it’s an awesome trend.  I love seeing more people sharing yoga and creating a positive impact in the community.  I believe those teachers and studios who “practice what they preach” will succeed.  I also believe it will be rough for those opening the doors with expectations of high financial returns (particularly since 80% of small businesses close their doors within 5 years).

Without naming names there is one particular studio that keeps popping up on my radar.  Last year I met the owner, who just unrolled a yoga mat for the first time maybe a year or two ago, and really felt from the words conveyed that the studio is hopping aboard the yoga train simply for the money.  Sure the physical experience and benefits for this person on the mat has been good the last year or so, but the vibe of this person exudes a materialistic attitude and greed.  Who cares, right?  Right -and that’s the point of this post.

I realize my annoyance with this new studio and person stems from a sense of jealousy as I sometimes play with the idea of having a beautiful sunlit space to share yoga (but ultimately know it’s not for me at this time/stage in my life).  Obviously it also bugs me this person doesn’t know yoga beyond asana…I mean how can someone who doesn’t know yoga beyond asana walk the talk (i.e. practice what you preach).  Further I feel there is no intention of love behind the mission of opening the studio.

Melody, take a breath…as a yogi-in-progress, I realize what I’ve written above isn’t a very yogic way of thinking about others.  This type of thinking is also very energy draining and doesn’t bring peace in my life.  Recognizing my personal issues with this studio and person, I turned to The Yoga Sutras for guidance and am reminded of sutra 1.33:

By cultivating attitudes of friendliness toward the happy, compassion for the unhappy, delight in the virtuous and disregard toward the wicked, the mind-stuff retains its undisturbed calmness.

Again, I’m a yogi on the journey that has a lot of bumps, twists and turns in the road.  No doubt the sutras (particularly sutra 1.33) are definitely a good road map to have handy as I continue on my way.