Friday, June 1, 2018

June 2018's Theme : IT'S ALL RELATIVE!

June's 2018's Theme: IT'S ALL RELATIVE...

Princeton's Albert Einstein gave us many scientific insights that changed the scope of how we think. Perhaps one of his greatest achievements is the Theory of Relativity. In a nutshell, Einstein's theory states that gravity is a curving or warping of space and, in that, it attracts objects to one another and that the more massive an object is, the more it warps the space around it....or what about this: 

In explaining relativity, Einstein said, "When you are courting a nice girl an hour seems like a second. When you sit on a red-hot cinder a second seems like an hour. That's relativity." 

For us, lets bring up the topic of moral relativism. When you ponder anything more deeply, your life experiences and accumulated knowledge help you form judgments. But does that make what you think correct? Not according to Einstein's theory. If you've ever said, "To each her own," then you understand moral relativity. While certain values usually are universally accepted, there are no absolutes. So therefore, we should acknowledge that our judgments are meaningless. We like to think of it in a Socrates sort of way of knowing that we know nothing, and this humbling of the ego allows for a deeper level of compassion for all beings to arise. And with compassion comes healing. And that is certainly something that we can all use a bigger dose of...relatively speaking!

Here are some yogic avenues for working with It's All Relative this month:
 
ChantThe Gayatri Mantra: 
OM Bhur-Bhuvah-Svaha, Tat-Savitur-Varenyam.
Bhargo-Devasya-Dheemahi, Dhiyo-Yo-Nah-Prachodayaata.

Translation: Let us meditate upon the glory of Ishwar, who has created this universe, who is fit to be worshipped, who is the remover of all sins and ignorance. May He enlighten our intellect.

sand_shells_conch.jpg
The Spiral Symbol is found everywhere in nature
Postures: The mandala sequence of postures is perfectly suited for relativity because it forces you to move around the mat, facing different directions, and noticing things from a different perspective. This can be done as simply as standing in Mountain pose, stepping to one side into a 5-pointed star, then to the back in Mountain, to the other side in 5-pointed star and back to the front in Mountain. Or, you can create many fun transitions and playful postures to incorporate as you move around. Don't forget to go the other way too!

Meditation: Find a picture of the sacred spiral symbol or a seashell like the one above representing this sacred geometric pattern. Focus with a diffused gaze on the symbol while breathing deeply and calming the mind. When we focus on this ancient symbol found everywhere in nature, we are reminded that everything changes and evolves in the journey of life and that we are a part of this infinite force of the universe.

In Love, Service & Wisdom, Tracey and the One Yoga Center Teachers.

* * * * * * * * * * *
Special Message from Tracey for June

It is all relative, indeed! Having just passed a milestone 50th birthday, I've been thinking a lot about that number and the adages like, "you are only as old as you feel" and "age is just a number." I truly agree. I have met some 50 year olds that feel like they're seventy and I know some that still act like they're twenty. Some people love to celebrate their day of birth while others run from it. I myself like to celebrate life and to find a reason every day to be grateful. And after pondering the age questions for some time I can honestly say that I have no idea what fifty is supposed to feel or be like. It's just different for each one of us. It is all relative.

I love this month's theme and really hope that you will all take some time to evaluate your judgments and make space that there could be another reality entirely that is true or also true. I believe this world needs a huge dose of humility and an opening of the heart to realize that there are many paths on this journey and that as long as we are living in integrity and love, then someone else's path, although entirely different than yours, may be just as right. I even thought about the theory that it has to be in integrity and love to be true...I decided that I was correct (insert the cracking up smiley-face). 

Oh, and then with a pun on words, there are those actual relatives of ours. The ones that we grew up living in the same house with that somehow seem to have whole different realities than we do. Who is right? Neither? Both? This is where you want to say 'me.' But think about it for a moment or more. And if this goes for those closest to us, then perhaps it also goes to those in cultures who are the furthest away. 

It's all relative, for sure. Maybe the next time we are about to argue our point about something we can pause and consider listening to the other side...or letting it go entirely. I don't have the answer and certainly every situation is different. I'm just offering something to ponder this month.

In Love & Light,
Tracey L. Ulshafer, Founder, One Yoga & Wellness Center LLC, Experienced-Registered Yoga Teacher 500 hours (E-RYT500), RYS, CMT, Energy Worker, 11:11 True One.

If you would like to meet for private yoga, spiritual counseling or mentoring, contact Tracey at (609) 918-0963 or Info@oneyogacenter.net

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Tracey's Countdown to 50 - Life Lessons I've Learned So Far...

Countdown to 50 - 11 days:
Life lessons I’ve learned so far: 
"EVERYTHING IS IMPERMANENT."

The only constant in the universe is change. Life. Death. Rebirth. That momentary high will fade. That extreme low will not persist. What goes up, eventually drops down - including your boobs. This is why attachment to anything causes suffering, because eventually it won’t be there. And nor will you. So rejoice when you feel happy. Feel the sadness but the next time it will feel different. Chose to live a life in the present moment and to the fullest and best way. Why not? What do you have to lose...except everything?




Countdown to 50 - 10 days:
Life lessons I’ve learned so far: “F” FEAR."
I used to be filled with fear. I was afraid to speak in public, afraid to let people know the real me, afraid of heights, afraid of being alone, afraid of bugs, afraid of everything. One by one I continue to let go of fear because if I didn’t I would not be living. I wouldn’t be a yoga teacher. I wouldn’t have traveled the world and met amazing people. I wouldn’t have zip-lined in the jungle in Costa Rica or stood on a cliff in Easter Island (see picture). I wouldn’t have gotten married. There is no place for fear. Marianne Williamson says “fear is the absence of love.” So I have no time for fear because I want to live in love. Not in some phoney-new agey type of way by in an authenticity that resonates with all life. I’m ready for my next big adventure and I step into it with an open heart - F fear...I ain’t got no time for that! 

Countdown to 50 - 9 days:
Life lessons I’ve learned so far: “TRUE FRIENDS STAND THE TEST OF TIME” Friends come and go. Some people are only meant to stay in your life for a short period of time because you both have something to learn together. But true friends, they stand the test of time. True friends don’t judge but will tell you when you’re being an asshole. True friends will drop anything else in their life to be there for you when you need them. True friends aren’t afraid to look and be silly. True friends are your family. I’ve been blessed to have some of the best friends in the world. Some have passed on - way too early. Some I only see every so many years. And others you just carve out that time for...somehow. Either way, when you meet again with a true friend, you pick up right where you left off as if no time has transpired. They know your biggest secrets, your deep heart’s longings, and all your favorite things. True friends - may we all be blessed with these special people in our lives!


Countdown to 50 - 8 days:
Life lessons I’ve learned so far: “MODERATION IN ALL THINGS - a.k.a. EAT THE CUPCAKE!” 


In this journey through life we have so many choices to make. When not living mindfully, we choose from desire and ego. When living a balanced life, we realize that joy is there for a reason, yet too much of anything has disastrous results. My grandmom was fond of saying, “anything in moderation.” When I found out this was a teaching of many spiritual masters I was relieved. Temptations are everywhere, but for me, as long as I allow myself that little indulgence - the cute pair of shoes, the cupcake - then I won’t go overboard. Of course those who live with addiction have a much different cross to bear. I don’t advocate taking just one drink to them just as I wouldn’t advise a diabetic to eat a cupcake. But for those living without disease, moderation is the key. So enjoy...eat the cupcake or whatever else, then maybe grass for dinner! 

Countdown to 50 - 7 days:
Life lessons I’ve learned so far:

HAVE A SENSE OF HUM😜R!” 

Somewhere along the line many people have forgotten how to laugh - laugh at themselves, the world, or anything else. When did everything become so hard and difficult that there was no time for humor? I’m pretty sure when the mongols were invading a couple thousand years ago (history buffs, relax) that one soldier farted and the guy next to him laughed. Life has always been difficult. My life - your life - guess what, people have had it harder than us. Stop taking every little thing so serious and freakin’ laugh a little. First of all, it’s better for your appearance and energy. It’s also easier on the muscles and has been known to get you out of speeding tickets...or so I’ve heard...

Countdown to 50 - 6 days:
Life lessons I’ve learned so far:

KNOW THAT YOU KNOW NOTHING” - the vastness of the universe dictates that there are many things that we do not know and cannot know. Understanding that we are a tiny little piece of the big whole and that we cannot fathom the depths of the universe is ok. It’s actually a good thing to humbly bow down and admit that we don’t know it all. If you believe that there is a power bigger than you out there than you get this. If you’re still functioning under the wrong influence that the sun revolves around you, good luck. When I first heard Socrates quote “the only true wisdom is knowing that you know nothing,” it hit me like a brick house! It doesn’t mean that we are stupid. It just puts things into perspective. There is power in humility, grace in accepting our own limitations. And it sure does relieve some pressure, doesn’t it? Let’s all know nothing together, and in that, find real insight! (No I’m not in a black light listening to Pink Floyd, but now I kinda want to listen to Dark Side of the Moon) -



Countdown to 50 - 5 days:
Life lessons I’ve so far: 
IT’S NEVER TOO LATE” 

While you’re alive there’s time. If there’s something that you haven’t done that you’ve always wanted to do / do it! It’s never to late to start something new if it’s in your heart. Don’t let anyone else or your own brain talk you out of doing what you should be doing. You’ve probably known what it is your entire life. Listen to Little Tracey or Little Nikki or Little Troy - and be who you were meant to be. Don’t settle for what you became this far. Reach for the stars and you just might land on the moon.





Countdown to 50 - 4 days:
Life lessons I’ve learned so far: 

ITS OK TO BE SOFT & VULNERABLE” - as a woman in a corporate world I was often challenged. People would want to talk to the manager and I was a petite young woman. I had to somehow appear stronger and capable. When one of my best friends died unexpectedly, I spun out of control. When the second very good friend passed away unexpectedly around a year’s time, I took it personally. I told my other friends to keep a distance and I built up a wall...and it was a good, strong wall too. It’s taken me a little time to start tearing it town and believing again in the universe and other people. It’s ok to feel, says the yoga teacher to herself. It’s ok to be open to all of that life has to offer. After all, my soul chose this journey because it wanted to grow and ultimately expand. Allowing yourself to be vulnerable is scary. But the softening of the heart ultimately allows one to understand the bigger picture.

Countdown to 50 - 3 days:
Life lessons I’ve learned so far:
NEVER ASSUME” - Remember that phrase when we were younger, “when you assume you make an ass out of u and me?” Now we have the “Four Agreements” to remind us the same thing. It’s interesting because many people today and especially in certain circuits like to say that their 3rd eye is open or they know things because their intuition is spot on. Perhaps, but really, most of the time you’re making an assumption...and most of the time that assumption is wrong. In a oneness way, yes, we do know and have all the answers, but most people walk around with blocks in their energy system that prohibit them from seeing and knowing truth. It’s a tricky thing. I’m a problem solver so I can tend to make assumptions. I have to remind myself that my theories are only one possibility. So basically, don’t be an ass...

Countdown to 50 - 2 days:
Life lessons I’ve learned so far: 

BE OF SERVICE.” There is no better energy that one can put out into the world than that of service. To give your time and energy to another unselfishly and for the assistance and betterment of some way is so important. Donating to causes can be quite helpful especially when these causes rely on the funds that they collect. But getting involved, making the time in your busy schedule, donating your personal energy and presence - that is what creates lasting energetic shifts for us all. I’ve allowed the business of yoga to get my energy down for a while. I reminded myself that I need to move my thinking back to that of service. What I offer is just that - service. And for that service we have to pay for the roof over our heads, electric, etc. so yes, money is exchanged. I have a ritual blessing before any hands on massage or healing work that I perform - “may I be of service” and the work that I have done with many organizations over the years, and now the Special Olympics, is some of the most rewarding work I do, because it is service. Maybe your service is to your family, an ailing member or aging parent - that is true service. Or perhaps you’ve been wanting to get involved with something. As Nike’s slogan says, “just do it.” Get involved and be of service. It’s good for your soul.

Countdown to 50 - 1 day:
Life lessons I’ve learned so far: “SPEND TIME ALONE.” Being alone is different than being lonely. I didn’t understand that when I was younger. But I have always enjoyed time by myself. Everyone needs quiet contemplation/meditation time. The busyness of our days clouds our ability to connect with our source and we wind up going from thing to thing without a depth or purpose to our day. The constant chatter of other people can often distract us from our primary purpose or dharma. This confusion can be endless unless we make the time to be with ourselves. Don’t like the silence in those moments? Stop running from them and figure out why. Find a quiet spot in nature and relax. We all need it. You’ll feel replenished and recharged after. 



Countdown to 50 - Today’s the day!
Life lessons I’ve learned so far: “THERE’S ONLY ONE YOU - BE AUTHENTIC - BE TRuE.” I had this thing I used to say back in college in regards to why I didn’t join a sorority and it was something about not conforming to group standards. I don’t know where it came from but I felt quite strongly about it then and I still do today. There’s only one you. Never let a person, a group or culture dictate what you should be, wear or do. Only you know you. If you’re a dude and want to wear eyeliner- wear it. I’ve always thought that was hot anyway. Want to wear those funky baggy pants from Thailand with the low crotch or shoes with toes in Shop-Rite? Do it. You cannot offend someone else by being yourself. If someone reacts poorly to you, that’s their stuff. Be confident in who you are and your beliefs and nobody can hurt you. I personally would rather know a bunch of quirky misfits than a bunch of Stepford people who all look and act perfectly boring...although I respect those folks too. Be proud and show your colors. Be kind to one another and support personal freedom. Each one of us is special on our own way - why wouldn’t we want to sparkle and hi-light that? I know that inner strength doesn’t come overnight for all people. So stand up for those who don’t have it. Lead by example in your uniqueness. Weird is the new normal. Represent! #yogini #50yearwisdom #youdontgetolderyougetwiser

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Relating the 12-Steps to Yoga, My Own Teachings, and Life

Hello.
My name is Tracey...and I am NOT an alcoholic.

However, I am not immune to the issues that alcohol and alcoholism causes. My family lineage is steeped in the stuff. So when Gwen R. approached me about co-teachng the Yoga4Sobriety teacher training with her, I certainly knew that I could bring some worthwhile information - in addition to yoga - to the table. As with most things, you never know the full extent of what you can or will learn from a situation until you have done it and time is under your belt. And although I had a rich amount of information to share with respect to yoga, I really did not understand the 12 Steps or how the program worked. Having taught as of this writing 11 rounds of this training, I can honestly say that it has changed me and helped me to become an even better person as well as a better yoga teacher. In the light of the 12 Steps, I figured I would relate how they correlate to my own yoga teachings and life...

Step 1: "We admitted we were powerless over alcohol - that our lives had become unmanageable."

The reality is that we are all powerless over many things. Control is an absolute illusion. As a teacher I am powerless over who shows up for my yoga classes or what they will walk in the door feeling like. Most yoga teachers figure out a sequence or plan a class before they walk in to do it. I do not. Sometimes I have a theme in mind or some readings I want to share, but even that sometimes just doesn't work for the moment. I teach my yoga teachers to be open and let go, to teach from the heart center or 4th chakra and not the ego or 3rd chakra. In my life I have learned - and continue to be reminded - that when I let my ego take control of a situation that something in my life will become unmanageable - and that isn't limited to when teaching yoga. We talk a lot about personal power, empowerment and strength and these are all important qualities. But being able to bend like a bamboo in the strong wind is even more key.

Step 2: "Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity."

Through letting go of the mind, settling into the breath and becoming calm, I am restored to sanity. My mind can really create lots of problems for me if I let it. I used to worry about the studio being slow or classes not being well attended one week and really let myself get down. But I truly believe that what I am doing is for a purpose: it is my dharma. And so the Universe is going to get behind me to make it all happen...and it always does. When I am disconnected from this connection to Spirit my mind/ego has a field day and I find myself way off balance. So I keep coming back to the connection to Spirit, and continually teach my students ways to connect as well. Through this the class is taken to a deeper level - that which is way beyond the physical - and the effects are often quite powerful for people.

Step 3: "Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him."

One of the ways that we connect to Spirit in yoga is through chanting the Divine Name. When I do, I am in the flow with God/Universe/Spirit/Goddess...Consciousness...whatever you want to call it. I go through phases with chanting. I teach some then I get away from it. I now try to either consistently chant OR do a prayer in class. I have found this to be quiet powerful. When I come in to the studio, I try to light at least one candle and perhaps some incense (although it tends to bother some people, it is an offering for the alter and many students really love it). Invoking Spirit is an important factor in me facilitating a class that meets everyone's individual needs, but it is also a strong importance in my everyday life. When I do this, it is so that I am offering myself to work in accordance to God's will. And that always makes all the difference.

Step 4: "Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves."

Everyone that has taken yoga teacher training has read the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali and know of the 8-Limbs of yoga. But many teachers can't recite them 6 months later because they do not practice them on a regular basis. But the yamas and the niyamas are there for this purpose. These are the yogi's moral code and do's and don'ts. Living in this way brings authenticity to the teacher. And so I am reminded with this step to continue to look at these yoga codes of ethics and walk the walk. Lucky for me, each round of teacher training that I do, also invites me to explore these codes and ethics, so I am deeply aware of them and continue to work with them. Now they are etched into me like a piece of my own DNA. I am always aware of them and where I am faltering. It's quite a constant humbling experience to be that plugged in to moral inventory. Sometimes I can be a little hard on myself because of it. Then I try to remember to let that go because ultimately, thanks to God's grace, I have done some pretty good things too. I try to put those on my inventory list as well.

Step 5: "Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs."

Well, it is one thing to be aware of your short-comings, but it is entirely another one to say it out loud and share it with someone other than your dog who is going to love you regardless. We can beat ourselves up about things that we did wrong. We can worry about how someone is going to judge us. But when we share it and say it out loud, we discharge the power that it has over us. When I catch myself screwing up a yama or niyama, I discuss it with a tight circle of friends who meet every month. This is my community and I honor that time immensely. I cannot imagine a life where I did not have this outlet in which to share and let go of my wrongs. I highly recommend getting your own "circle of trust."

Step 6: "Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character."

On the yoga mat we always come across issues. Maybe we can't lift off the mat high enough, or we can't stretch deep enough, but whatever it is, we will often struggle with it and "practice" the poses over and over again with the intention of "getting it." But anyone who has practiced yoga for some time will tell you, you truly "get" a pose the moment you give up the need to achieve it. It's letting go again. It is releasing the ego. It is trusting in the Universe - your Higher Power. And when we relinquish the desire, we often find that things show up.

Step 7: "Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings."

More and more and more humility...I always tell my students, "yoga is a truly humbling practice." Yoga is union or joining together. The state of Yoga has nothing to do with postures and breathing. But in our process of realigning with our light and our higher good, we have some house cleaning to do. You won't do it, though, if you always have good hair days. If you never faced a difficult situation then you would not understand the joy and bliss that comes when you finally have a good day. We get there eventually when we let go of ego, drop to our knees and employ the assistance of that higher power (in yoga we might say our higher self).

Step 8: "Made a list of persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all."

We have to come to realize that through our journey we may have hurt others. And most likely we have hurt ourselves too. The worst thing that can happen for a yoga teacher is for a student to get hurt as a result of their class or teaching. Yet it sometimes happens. I try not to push my students and I tell them to honor their body. Do they always listen? No. Am I sometimes at fault? Maybe, but I certainly try to not be. I know I am not perfect. In my real life it is the same. Inadvertently I may have hurt another person. When I realize this I am always willing to apologize and release that energy. I've come to understand that the very last thing I ever want to do is hold on to negative energy from the past.

Step 9: "Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others."

Well this isn't just being willing to know when you are wrong, but this is actually making direct apologies for it. At home the fuse can be even shorter with loved ones. If I get into an argument or are short with a family member or friend I feel horrible and make it a point to remember not to let it go unsaid. I used to spend way too much time holding on to powerful and poisonous feelings with respect to others. I no longer wish to have that energy hanging over me. I release it as soon as I can by making swift apologies, and when I cannot do so directly, I write it down and burn it to release it through fire of transformation.

Step 10: "Continued to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it."

So, this gets easier the more you do it. It is an ongoing journey. In yoga we talk about the causes of suffering. I personally do not want to suffer. I realize that being human I am going to sometimes. But I do not want to be driving the vehicle that causes it. When I make a mistake in class, I say it out loud, we laugh about it, and we move on. Case closed - nothing more to see here. Move it along.

Step 11: "Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out."

Meditation. This is key. What is yoga without meditation? What is meditation? Well, the ways to meditate are many, but at the end of the day it is become 'one' with the object in which you are concentrating on. The idea is for all other thoughts, ego and selfish desires to fall away so that we can be in the effortless flow of consciousness. Ultimately we come to realize that everything is connected in Oneness and that we are a part of this effortless energetic flow. We just need to work continually to be in alignment with it.

Step 12: "Having had a spiritual experience as a result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to other alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs."

Yoga has truly enriched and changed my life for the better. I knew this was why I had to teach it to people. And the more I teach, the more I want to help people. I have more irons in the fire with different communicates that can benefit from yoga. Once you have this calling, you just want to do it and help people. The more you practice or teach, the more authentic the practice becomes for you.


Even though I am not an alcoholic or in the program myself, I can relate to many of the steps. I have dug deeper into my own issues just by coming to know the steps in greater detail. I certainly believe that every person can benefit from learning the 12-steps. They are a great tool for doing inner work and continuing to heal and become a better person.

Yoga and the 12 steps fit together. You don't have to be an addict to realize the benefits. Maybe you'll want to drop by a Yoga4Sobriety class and see for yourself.

In love & light.
Tracey

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

May's Theme: BE TRUE

May's 2018's Theme: 
BE TRUE!

Being True sounds like an easy task, doesn't it? Most of us understand how important it is to not lie and to be truthful. Upon further inquisition, it gets a little difficult when understanding if you are BEING TRUE. Just what does that mean - to be true?

Solara Anani, the visionary who first discussed the 11:11, describes trueness as, "something that resonates unquestionably in the core of our being." In other words, when you know that something is true, you KNOW - you can actually feel it in every sense of your being.

Being true means living in honesty and integrity. Being true means living in love and able to see beyond the duality and polarities of our life and into the expansive Oneness that we often talk about in yoga, where we have come to understand the interconnectedness of all life on a totally different level. Being true means going to great lengths to dissect who you think you are, pulling off all the masks that you wear, and tuning in to any of the judgments and conditions that you may have inadvertently put on people, places or things. In a nutshell, being true requires courage and patience as you weed through all of the untrue that we have been living in.

For the month of May, in any given situation, pause and ask: Am I Being True? Notice sensations in your body - because the body never lies. Work to calm your mind, because that ego, he/she is the liar. And above all, connect to the deepest sense of your soul through connecting to the earth, the stars, and Spirit.

Here are some yogic avenues for working with Being True this month:
 
ChantEK ONG KAR SAT NAM SIRI WAHE GURU
Pronounced: Ek Onnng Kaaar, Sat Naaam S'ree, Wha HayG'roo
This powerful mantra taught by Yogi Bhajan is said to open all the chakras, charge the solar centers, connect the soul to the Universal Soul, and liberate us from the cycles of karma. Shakti Parwha Kaur Khalsa says of this mantra, "these eight syllables are the code letters, the direct personal phone number connecting you, the creature, with your Creator."
 
Meditation/Breath: To be performed with the above mantra, seated comfortably, with hands in Gyan Mudra (index fingers touching thumbs) or rest them in lap. Gently guide chin back towards throat, tipping head slightly down. Close the eyes and begin the chanting meditation:
1. Inhale deeply and chant Ek Ong KarEk is vibrated briefly and powerfully at the Naval Point. Ong is chanted in the back of the throat, vibrates the upper palate, and comes out through the nose. Keep the sound continuous as you move without a pause from Ong to Kar. Give equal time to Ong and Kar.
2. Inhale deeply again and chant Sat Nam until you're almost out of breath, then reach for the Siri, which is brief. Sat is briefly and powerfully chanted at the Naval Point, Nam vibrates at the heart center. Siri is pronounced as if spelled S'ree; it is a short syllable. 
3. Inhale a short half breath and chant Wahe GuruWahe is broken into two syllables, Wha and Hay. Wha is somewhat aspirated. Hay is extremely short. It becomes part of Guru which is pronounced as G'roo. Remember this is an "asthang" mantra, in other words, it has eight keys, eight syllables, so the "hayg'roo" should be all run together, almost like one syllable.
4. Inhale deeply again to repeat the cycle. Continue for 7, 11, 31, or 62 minutes or 2 1/2 hours.
5. To finish, inhale deeply, hold the breath, and focus at the Brow Point for several seconds, then exhale and relax.
From The Teachings of Yogi Bhajan 

Tracey standing as a True One in Sacred Valley, Peru.
PosturesTrue One. Standing as a "True One" is similar to Mountain Pose/Tadasana, but the legs are open a little wider. You stand fully present and open as if to say, "Here I am!" Stand in truth outside somewhere in nature, breathing and being. Feel your truth.

Alter: Pachamama - Earth Mother. She is your alter this month. Get outside and find the sacred meditating under a magnificent tree, breathing in the salt air at the sea, or taking a walking meditation through the woods. Whatever you do, listen for signs from Pachamama. Perhaps she will gift you a stone, a feather, or something else. If she does, don't forget to thank her. Take your precious gift home and place it on a new alter cloth next to where you sleep.








* * * * * * * * * * *

Special Message from Tracey for May

Its finally May! I think that as of this writing we have actually even had a few warm sunny days too. What a strange kind of year its been already for us, right? The weather isn't cooperating, our world and political climate continues to create more tensions, and that last mercury retrograde was surely a doozy, wasn't it!? So I got to thinking, with all of the confusion and weird energy that we've been dealing with, our theme for May should be getting to the core of it all, really. BE TRUE. That's what its all about at the end of the day - being true. Living a life that feels right on every level and layer of our being. Being joyful and happy and knowing that we are in that flow with the One Consciousness through the energy of love and service.

That all seems a little far fetched? Then we have some work to do, don't we.

You know, Truthfulness or Satya is one of the main yamas or virtuous restraints from falsehood. It talks about everything from straight out lying about something, to being creative on our taxes, to not living in our truth. I find for most people, and self sometimes included, we are living some lies. Some of us validate it and make pretty good excuses for it too. But at the end of the day, we know when something is not right and, just like in Poe's famous work The Tell-Tale Heart, it will nag at us until we make it right...or go mad trying to live by the falsehood.

As you probably already know, May is my birth-month. This is a great time for me to dig back in to my truth and determine if I am still living in it on all levels. We all can get waylaid and need to find our way back. I hope that you will join me this month in being true in every moment and living in integrity and harmony. 

In Love & Light,
Tracey L. Ulshafer, Founder, One Yoga & Wellness Center LLC, Experienced-Registered Yoga Teacher 500 hours (E-RYT500), RYS, CMT, Energy Worker, 11:11 True One.

If you would like to meet for private yoga, spiritual counseling or mentoring, contact Tracey at (609) 918-0963 or Info@oneyogacenter.net

Sunday, April 1, 2018

April's Theme: THE MIDDLE PATH

April's 2018's Theme: 
THE MIDDLE PATH

The Buddha's Birthday is celebrated April 29th for those in the Buddhist countries of Cambodia and Sri Lanka. India celebrates it on the 30th. The image of the Buddha has become very popular. You can go into any Ross or TJ Maxx and purchase a little Buddha for your home or office and bring in a little energy of peace and zen. But who really was the Buddha and what were his teachings? Let's celebrate that this month.

The Buddha or "enlightened one," began as a man named Siddharta Gautama. He was a Prince who grew up with every advantage. One day he left the palace and saw the suffering of the people who he reigned over and he realized that conditioned experiences cannot guarantee lasting happiness. He embarked on a journey to find truth. He left his grand palace, family and everything behind, and joined a group of ascetics practicing a life of denial and self-mortification. After some time he realized that this was not the way. He again left and went on his own journey, where he eventually landed under that famous Bodhi tree and reached enlightenment through meditation. This is when he began to teach the "Noble Eightfold Path" commonly known as the middle way.

What is the Noble Eightfold Path/Middle Way?

Very succinctly, this methodology or philosophy/way of living is a pathway of moderation, between the extremes of sensual indulgence and self-deprivation. 

The Eightfold Path to Enlightenment is spelled out thusly:
1. Right speech leads to truth and understanding.
2. Right understanding leads to wisdom.
3. Right livelihood leads to sharing.
4. Right aspiration leads to divine inclination.
5. Right behavior leads to goodwill.
6. Right absorption lead to unity.
7. Right mindfulness leads to purposeful living.
8. Right effort leads to highest outcome.

And just what IS the "right" way? The Middle way! 

Of course Buddhism is a way of living (not a religion as some may think) that any and all people can aspire to live by. For the month of April our daily Instagram and Facebook quotes will be Buddha or Buddha inspired quotes on this way. Please follow or like us to receive them every morning!

Here are some yogic avenues for working with the Middle Path this month:
 
Chant: The most popular and probably one of the oldest chants in the world is Om Manu Padme Hum, translated as "Behold! The jewel in the lotus!" Tibetan Buddhists chant this mantra daily to receive the blessings of Chenrezig, the buddha of the embodiment of compassion. 
OM MANI PADME HUM
 
Breath: Natural breathing begins our intro to the meditation. Sit quietly, focus on your inhalation and exhalation. Follow the breath for some time, allowing the mind to begin to quiet. 

Meditation: Buddhist meditation focuses on the breath and loving kindness or Metta. In Metta we direct well-wishes towards other people. To do this, simply close your eyes and focus on your breathing. Then focus on a simple wish like: "May you be healthy and strong. May you be happy. May you be peaceful." First, start by directing this wish to yourself (May I be happy...", Next, direct the metta to someone special in your life and feel thankful for that someone. Then visualize someone you feel neutral about (neither like or dislike) and send them the same wish. Finally, visualize someone that you do not like, and send them the same wish - without judgement. Finally, direct this metta towards everyone universally: "May all beings everywhere be happy."
 
PosturesPadmasana or Lotus posture is THE pose to work with this month. Many people have difficulty performing the lotus posture due to flexibility in the lower back, hips and legs. This is OK. You can perform "easy pose" by simply crossing your legs. We always recommend sitting on a meditation cushion, bolster or block to elevate the hips. This is the meditation posture, but we also begin many yoga classes with it to bring ourselves into the present moment. 

Alter: Grab your Buddha and a fresh alter cloth. Put a small white candle in front of the deity and some fresh flowers. Light incense if you work with that. This will set up the right tone and energy for your daily meditation. Log into Facebook or Instagram to see the daily quote for the focus of your meditation.

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Special Message from Tracey for April

The picture of the Buddha at the top of the email is the image used on my very first website. From the beginning of my yoga journey I was drawn to the Buddhist lifestyle and culture - initially even more so than the Hindu origins of yoga. The messages of the Buddha resonated with me deeply in being a good and compassionate person and most definitely in living a life of moderation through the middle path. I've never understood the rigidity of complete deprivation that many spiritual seekers live by. Frankly, I don't see, personally, how that is living. Conversely, it makes perfect sense not to go overboard into excessive patterns and lose oneself into external gratifications. No, the middle path sounds just right to me.

Growing up with a jewish grandmother who always said, "everything in moderation," was also interesting. I don't believe that she understood anything about Buddhism or the Buddhist teachings. Yet somehow she taught this very simple yet complex theme daily. Her issues with "sugar" never kept her from enjoying a little ice cream. And although she could be heard talking on the phone to someone for over an hour, she could also be caught reading a book for hours on end, quietly. 

My father brought what would be the first image of a Buddha that I would know back from Thailand in 1969. It is a teak-wood carved happy Buddha that now sits in my "Buddha room," the formal living room that I knick-named this due to the numerous Buddhas I have there. Hmm...moderation? Anyway, growing up with this image most certainly impacted me positively. 

My first trip to the Buddhist country of Thailand was in 2009. Immediately I was touched by the simplicity, joy and compassion of the country and its people. I've since traveled back to Thailand five times, and am looking forward to my 6th this January for the LIVING IN JOY - THAI TEMPLES RETREAT that I am escorting. I want to share this country and the Buddhist culture with others and going back myself is certainly an added bonus!

With the celebration of the Buddha's Birthday soon coming up around the world, April is a perfect month to dedicate to the Buddha's teachings. I hope that you will join me at some point - whether it is for daily quotes on the OYC Facebook or Instagram page (please follow us) or in one of the highlighted programs in this email. 

In Love & Light,
Tracey L. Ulshafer, Founder, One Yoga & Wellness Center LLC, Experienced-Registered Yoga Teacher 500 hours (E-RYT500), RYS, CMT, Energy Worker, 11:11True One.

If you would like to meet for private yoga, spiritual counseling or mentoring, contact Tracey at (609) 918-0963 or Info@oneyogacenter.net

Friday, March 9, 2018

The Yogini Emerges - Are YOU an Accidental Yogini too?

Sat Nam.

The Accidental Yogini is out and available for purchase on amazon.com

Click Here to Purchase

The book follows the life of a girl named Kristin, who unexpectedly finds a yoga practice and through it transforms her life to one filled with purpose and full of love. The book jacket reads:

"Kristin is living the life that she never imagined. Her career has taken a wonderful turn, she has found a true love, and her day care full of mindfulness and purpose through a yoga practice. But it wasn't always this way. There was a time when Kristin's life was defined by painful issues in her tissues, poor eating habits, and negative thought patterns. She seemed stuck in a loop of bad luck and low-level energy vibrations. When her family and friends suggested that they all go to a yoga class together, Kristin was more than hesitant. After all, nothing else had helped her so far, so why would yoga be any different? Soon Kristin found herself on an unexpected journey of understanding and accepting the past, finding happiness in the present, regaining trust in the universe, and transforming into a person that hardly resembles her former self. Kristin, not unlike many others, is The Accidental Yogini."

The Final chapter of the book is titled "The Yogini Emerges." Well, here she is! And isn't she beautiful!?

The journey of this book is one that many people who practice yoga can relate to. Everyone who rolls out the yoga mat first did so for some reason or another. Maybe a doctor recommended it to help combat high blood pressure or anxiety. Perhaps you had an injury and someone you know suggested that yoga would help you recover. Or, maybe you just bought a Groupon to check it out on a whim. Either way, you came to yoga knowing very little about the practice, and honestly, may still only know a little about the depth of this amazing self-development practice.

Fun Fact: The yoga postures are not what defines yoga. Yoga is self-realization through the unifying of body, mind and soul. One of the tools in which to get in touch with the true self is through moving the body and dislodging misalignments and blocks in the physical self that may have resulted from negative experiences or traumas. So, what brings you to the yoga mat, is not the end all - be all - of yoga! And yet, here we all are, downward dogging the day away!

So now that the book is out, I want to hear about your journey to yoga. Are you An ACCIDENTAL YOGINI too? I bet that you are! And I want to hear your story. Here's how you can:

1. Post a comments on this blog
2. Email me at Info@oneyogacenter.net with permission to share your story.
3. Join the Facebook Page for The Accidental Yogini BY CLICKING HERE NOW
Once you've joined the page, you can contribute your story right here to share with others on how you are also The Accidental Yogini!

I'm putting together a fabulous contest and will pick a winning story. Stay tuned for details and dates! In the meantime, share your story of how yoga has helped to transform your life in the most positive and unexpected ways!

Namaste.
Tracey

The Spiritual Challenges of Writing

Writing does not come easily to all people. To others words flow effortlessly to the page or screen. I have always found myself to be the later, the person who can write all day until her hand hurts, and never stop except to occasionally eat and use the bathroom.

There is something cathartic about writing and releasing emotions and blocks through the process of it. Using the hands, which are an expression of the heart-center, a writer is challenged to drop into the deepest recesses of his or her heart and to explore and share those "secrets" with the world. I have always found this to be true. Yet, this does not make the process an easy one.

Last year I began a re-write of a book I'd thought of penning for years. I always knew the title: The Accidental Yogini. For some time I thought it would be the story of me and my journey. But through the years of sharing so much of myself in blogs, classes, and with students, I realized that my story was already out there enough. And yet there was a book that needed to be written.

One morning I sat up in bed and realized that the book should be a fictional novel and one that I could incorporate aspects of many of the students and yoga teachers that I had met over my many years of teaching yoga. I knew that this format change was vital, and I set out right away to begin working on it. Just like always, the words flew out and onto the page effortlessly. And yet the more that I wrote, the more that my spirit was challenged. Thoughts of self-doubt and worth also flew in as I wrote. For a time the heroine is a hot mess, so writing her character and the negativity that she embodied not only brought up lots of old patterns and fears within me, but created new ones that I never even knew that I had.

The writing was effortless, but the emotional and spiritual wounds being brought up were demanding attention. This put me into a strange place. I found myself confused about who I was or what I really wanted in life. I pondered the meaning of life with great effort, only to find myself coming up short many days on that all powerful question of WHY!? Through the process of writing the book the heroine finds a life of purpose and love because of an unexpected yoga practice that she falls into and what that brings up in her. I found myself also diving back into my yoga asana practice more than I had been for years. My body some times felt stronger and some times so much weaker. I wanted to practice like I had years before, but my body would remind me that I was in may 49th year and closing fast in on 50. Each day held a new and often agonizing moment of either physical, mental or emotional pain - all while I was writing about a girl's positive journey through yoga. I knew that this was all a part of my own journey - the divine plan. And yet, each day I effortlessly wrote and painfully practiced. And just like the heroine, I felt myself slowly becoming stronger - day - by - day.

At first these gained strengths were not easy to see. The progression snuck up on me, just like hers does in the book. I found myself suddenly one day realizing that my body had worked and released some blocks and traumas and that my mind was starting to find its groove again.

By the time I launched my book, The Accidental Yogini, on Feb 18, 218 (11:11), I was ready to release her and myself to the world. I finally came to the place where writing is not a hobby, but a deep life-purpose for me that needs to be shared with the world. I understand that I may not be the literary genius of the century, but I certainly have a lot to share and that the time has come to do so. I finally feel good about "coming out" as a writer and putting myself out wholly and completely in that energy. And, with that, certain challenges remain.

We are always on a journey of self-discovery. With each passing year we hope to get closer to who we really are - our true self. I feel privileged to have a venue in which to help me achieve that understanding. Writing is certainly not an easy process, even when the words come out effortlessly. Through the process of writing, one can most certainly ascertain greater insights into his or her own soul. But even more so, it can help one to clear out the blocks that smear or smudge the sense that we use to see ourselves with. You just have to find the courage to do it.

In Love, Service & Wisdom.
Tracey