Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Why We ALL Need Restorative Yoga

Restorative Yoga is widely misunderstood as "doing nothing" by many students. This couldn't be further from the truth. For, in this practice you are actually "doing" more than you realize!
Tracey performing Reiki during a Restorative Yoga posture

Fort hose of you that do not know what Restorative Yoga is, basically yoga postures are performed using props. Bolsters, blocks, straps, blankets and more are brought and tucked under the body in various places (knees, belly, etc.) in order to hold the student, comfortably, in the posture. The ideas it to breathe deeply and allow your body to completely relax, and thusly, restore.

The challenge of this type of practices are many:

1. The mind clearly has a lot of room to move about when we are still. We have to focus deeply in order to bring the mind to the breath and the moment. It is a constant struggle, but we keep at it, watching and allowing thoughts, then letting them go.

2. We are tense people, so laying "comfortably" in postures is not easy! This is where we find our deep held tensions in the tissues. By breathing and focusing, we continue to release. At first, this can be quite uncomfortable. Thus the many props we keep sticking here or there in order to allow the body to release. Certain postures are going to be quite challenging to find that area in which to release into for deeper letting go. It can take sometimes up to five minutes to find that comfort zone. And then once you start breathing and releasing, you may find that you need to remove some props too!

3.  There is no comparison, judgements or competition allowed because you simply cannot do what your neighbor is doing in these asanas. Every body is different so the props and how they are used will change for each person. It forces us to go within, and to deal with the many inner workings of our own being.

Much research has been and continues to be done on the benefits of restorative yoga. Amongst the many benefits that have been concluded are:
Improvement in mood, depression, anxiety and sleep.

According to Breast Restorative yoga poses are especially beneficial during times of feeling depleted and fatigued – support offered by props relieves the musculoskeletal system and as the breath moves slowly and smoothly, the nervous system shifts to a quieter mode. Since props are mobile and adjustable, and poses themselves can be modified, restorative yoga is well-suited to accommodate those at risk for lymphedema. If you are recovering from surgery, restorative poses can provide gentle, passive stretching to help release muscles and reduce tissue adhesions.

The Spinal Research Foundation notes two benefits for back pain and chronic pain in general: Yoga helps to build postural stability by both strengthening and lengthening the muscles that support the spine. By developing strength and flexibility, you can put yourself in a better position to avoid back pain. The second benefit comes from the physical and mental relaxation practiced during restorative yoga. When you learn to calm your mind and relax your body, there is an almost immediate response from the nervous system and that promotes the body’s own healing and repair. Will it reverse all your chronic pain? Unfortunately it’s not magic, but your day to day discomfort may be significantly reduced.

And there are so many more studies and benefits of this particular practice.

Yogis who practice vinyasa or strong hatha based types of yoga, which are more yang or solar/masculine energies, can benefit from Restorative because it is the yin/feminine quality. Those who do not have a yoga practice or suffer from injury will find Restorative quite helpful in coming into the body and integrating it back to wholeness.

But everyone can benefit from this practice in today's world. We are all constantly plugged in. Whether it is addiction to your cell phones or being overworked or over scheduled, we are constantly "on" in some way in our lives. Few people take the time to unplug and go off into nature or relax and unwind on a daily basis, away from the constant stimuli of our world. Many people think of relaxation as sitting in front of the TV for a few hours at night. But, again, we are not giving our brain  that necessary reboot time.

No, everyone can benefit from a Restorative Yoga practice in these days where energy is accelerated and we seem to be cramming more and more into our days.

Give yourself the gift of RESTORING your body, mind and soul with a lovely, relaxing practice.

Join us for a one-hour Restorative with Reiki (energy work to enhance your overall vitality) on Tuesdays at 6pm and Thursdays at 4:30 pm.
Check our ongoing schedule at to confirm times/days.

August 2018 Theme: DIVINE TIMING

August's 2018's Theme: DIVINE TIMING

Divine Timing refers to the notion that everything happens when it is supposed to, as opposed to when we want it to. Yikes! This poses a few problems for those of us who have been manifesting the heck out of ourselves, yet still awaiting this to show up, doesn't it?

Yes, you can be on the right track, living a good life and plugging away and still be waiting for the tide to turn. Because ultimately, everything happens in its own timing. Roses open when they are ready to - you cannot force them open. You cannot force the river to flow, as Prana Yoga teacher Shiva Rea says, you have to learn to ride the wave. But what if you are struggling? What if you really need things to change? What if you don't know how much more you can take? The Universe asks you to have faith. Keep working and keep putting your best foot forward because when the energy does shift, you will be more than ready...perhaps even a little more humble and appreciative too.

August is usually a dry, hot month for us. In the northeast we are being asked to slow down, relax our pushing, and just be. Unfortunately for us, we also have about 5 planets in retrograde motion now...meaning that they appear to be moving in the opposite direction in the night sky. When this phenomena happens, the energy that a particular planet in retrograde motion represents, is unavailable to us. Currently Marsis in retrograde motion until August 27th when it goes direct. Saturn goes direct September 6Neptune goes direct 25 of NovemberPluto October 1, and our good old friend Mercury, well, she's currently retrograde until August 19th. And then we will have our sixth planet retrograde soon as Uranus transits retrograde August 7 an doesn't go direct until January 7th. Maybe this doesn't mean much to you. But like it or not: AS ABOVE - SO BELOW. 

So what energies are not present for us at this time? Well we know that Mercury represents all communications. So computers, phones, travel, electronics, documents, etc...guess what? Don't sign any important papers! Don't send that knee-jerk response text either. Mars rules energy, passion, action and initiation. Feeling depleted and unable to launch new projects? Jupiter rules freedom, wisdom, travel, abundance and good luck. Dear lord! Saturn is the planet of karma and dispenser of justice. This guy is asking us to not take any short-cuts right now, but to go slowly and do things right the first time. Neptune values higher states of insight and Uranus is about out of the box thinking. And good old Pluto brings transformation. 

OK, that's a lot of information. So what can we do right now? Do some deep soul searching during this time and assess what you need to do to prepare for when these planets go direct. Because when they do, things are going to accelerate quite fast and we need to be ready for everything we have been working on to come to fruition - in its own Divine Timing.

This month, we invite you to incorporate these methods into your life:
ChantSo Ham Translation: "I AM THAT."

Postures: Restorative Yoga postures where props such as bolsters, blankets and blocks support you into the poses, promoting deep relaxation (Join Tracey for two Restorative with Reiki classes on our regular schedule: Tuesdays at 6pm and Thursdays at 4:30 pm).

Meditation/Breathing: Stillness with relaxed, effortless breathing or natural breath. Simply sit, lay down or stand in a quiet space (phones turned off) and watch your breath. You can also do a guided scan of the body, naming each part and then relaxing that place.

Altar: Find a yellow cloth for your alter. Place a wheat inspired floral arrangement on the alter with a white candle. Quartz crystals that represent Universal Life Energy should be present. If you own any special type of Quartz or Citrine, those are good too. Something to represent the circle of life, such as a spiral, Tree of Life, or another symbol or deity can also be present as you worship this inward period and the constant energetic changes around us. 

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

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Special Message from Tracey for August

OK, you guys know me pretty good by now. I come from a good stock of hard workers and business owners. I wake up being guided to what I need to work on, and I plug away at it all day long. I feel like I am running three businesses right now: One Yoga Center and all that comes with that, The Accidental Yogini and promoting the book, and Sacred Journeys, the retreats I am running. And things are moving, but slowly. I am averaging 1.5 people per book signing event. The fall yoga teacher trainings feel a little stalled at the moment and I am waiting for people to sign on so that I know they will happen. And the yoga retreats? Well, I have lots of things spinning with those and interest is surely coming in, but I still have so much work to do to get it really off the ground.

When you work so hard for things and they trickle in, it can be a little nerve wracking. I've had to really focus on my intentions and allow myself to go with the flow of energy sometimes. Instead of focusing on what is not working out, I focus on what is and what I need to do to work with it. Some days this is effortless, while other days I have a little breakdown. 

Divine Timing is an important concept to grasp because all of our longing and "grasping" only creates suffering. We know this from our spiritual teachers. Trust, let go, have faith, just be, breathe - these are all great powerful and useful tools that we need to understand and accept. It does not mean that I stop working. It doesn't not mean that I give up. It does not mean that I don't wake up every day guided by what I need to do - regardless if I accomplish it or not. I do it. And along the way, I stop and breathe and I let go and I trust that if my energy is in the right light and for the greater good, then I will be supported. 

So make those vision boards and "to do" lists and do the work. But respect that the Universe has its own plan for us...and that God does have a sense of humor.

The other day I received a text from a student and friend of mine who is having a challenging time. She asked me what she could do. I told her to dance. Dance it off. Dance in all that energy and release the stuff you are holding on to. Shakti is the energy of creation and she is all around you. Keep on Keepin' On and eventually you all will be well.

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

Sunday, July 1, 2018


Special Message from Tracey for July

For me, this July is all about getting the message of my book, The Accidental Yogini, out there. I continue to receive great feedback from family and friends about the book and I am forever grateful that many of you are connecting to the book. But I do want to reach a larger audience, and so I've put together these Yogini Immersion workshops to go along with book signings. July I will be all around NJ on both Saturdays and Sundays, and the dates area all listed above. I would LOVE to see some friendly faces in the classes - not only for support but also because I think that you are going to really like these workshops. 

For most of my adult life I have honored sacred feminine traditions and earth based spirituality. I do not like to label myself anything because that has always felt limited to me. Instead, I prefer to go by the name "True One," as I am a seeker of all spiritual traditions. But since my book speaks of the Yogini, the goddesses, the embodiment of divine feminine and creative force (Shakti) I am diving into workshops, classes and seminars so that others may also invoke their inner goddess! Don't worry guys, we all have the divine feminine within us, just as we all have the divine masculine qualities. These classes help you to explore the stories and legends behind the words as well as the energetic embodiment of them. Basically, it's gonna be rad!

July I am putting myself out there as a Yogini, a powerful mother force! And I invite you to awaken your inner yogini and explore some of these classes with me to allow your own inner Yogini to emerge!
July's 2018's Theme: THE YOGINI EMERGES!

The term yogini is used today to describe a female practitioner of yoga. But its true origin refers to the sixty-four female deities in the Tantratradition, who are regarded as the embodiment of Shakti, or universal creative energy.

The mahavidya (term for the 64 goddesses) are all aspects of the great goddess and take on her different forms. She is sometimes fierce, often beautiful and always powerful. 

The goddesses embodiment of Shakti is equaled to that of the divine masculine's Shiva, and without both, there is no balance. Each person has an opportunity to connect with this sacred divine feminine aspect, but women in particular, will find it almost a necessity.

For July, embrace your inner Yogini. Awaken your creative force. 

This month in addition to our Yogini inspired yoga classes, we invite you to incorporate these methods into your life:
Chant: The Durga Mantra:
Translation: "Salutations to the feminine energy that protects from all negative influences."

Postures: Goddess Pose! (Utkata Konasana). There are many variations, but check out Tracey's version above in the Yogini photo. Incorporate this posture into your daily practice to invoke the inner goddess.

Meditation/Breathing: Stand or Sit comfortably with the spine erect. Focus on the alignment of the spine and the upward and downward currents of energy running through it. See if you can focus on the inhale moving up the spine from the base to the crown of the head and the exhalation moving from the crown back down to the base of the spine. Take deep breaths as you coordinate this visualization of the Shiva/Shakti dance within. Shakti is the divine feminine energy located at the base of the spine that we often refer to as Kundalini. She rides upward through the chakra energy centers to meet with Shiva, who's seat is the crown of the head. When the two merge, sweet nectar drips downward again through the chakras, awakening them into full potential. Think of this breathing as the upward inhale bringing Shakti up to meet Shiva and the exhalation as bringing Shiva to Shakti. This merging of energies creates a balance within, but even more so, unlocks our creative potential! 

Alter: Replace your alter cloth with a new one and find a beautiful goddess picture or statue to admire while you meditate or create sacred space. 

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

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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.

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.

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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

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: 

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 the cupcake or whatever else, then maybe grass for dinner! 

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


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: 

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

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.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

May's Theme: BE TRUE

May's 2018's Theme: 

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:
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