Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Tracey's Tips for Combating Holiday Stress


This year as we move into the holiday season I am reminded why yoga is so important. They should really call it the "Stress Season," shouldn't they? Not only do we spend money that we may not really have to buy presents that people probably don't really need, but we then travel, sometimes vast distances, to spend time with family members who we allow to push all of our buttons. And then there's all the unhealthy food: the cookies, the pies, and the spirits! Come January we have to start "New Year Resolutions" to get back to the person we were a mere few months prior.

But you know what? I love the holidays. I really do. I love seeing old friends and family that I haven't had time to spend with as much as I'd like to during the year. I love the look in someone's eye when they open the perfect gift that I purchased or made just for them. I love dressing up and getting out of my yoga clothes for a day or two! I love sitting around watching naustalgic holiday tv specials and movies. I love silly holiday songs because I know all of the words and I have permission to sing them out loud! I love eating good, home-made, well, anything! I simply enjoy this time of year. And, as a simple suggestion, if you do have family commitments or kids or holiday parties to attend to, then why don't you just decide to enjoy them too?

Tracey's Tips for Combating Holiday Stress

So, maybe your holiday season stress is good stress. Or maybe not, but either way, most of us deal wtih more stress this time of year. Here are a few tips to help you through this time of year:
1. Don't forget your weekly yoga practice. Can't attend your regular classes? It's ok, because we have them every day of the week, in two different locations. Make time to nurture your body, mind and spirit. And if you can't make it in to the yoga studio, then pop in your favorite Yoga DVD or just unroll your mat and do whatever comes naturally.

2. Take a hot bath. Have sore muscles from lugging around heavy shopping bags? Fill up the bathtub with hot water, pour in some sea salts, and soak for 20 minutes. Add your favorite essential oils for an even more enjoyable experience.

3. Plan a night in. Whether you are going to a family member's home or hosting your own gathering, it's "go-go-go" time. Pencil in a night just for you during the holiday week to curl up with a good book, watch a favorite old movie, meditate or journal. One night in will refresh you for the next several nights out.

4. Donate. Nothing serves the soul more than donating your time, clothing, food or other items to a worthy charity. Of course this doesn't have to happen just during the holidays, but doing a little karma yoga is a true gift that keeps on giving - for those less fortunate and also for yourself.

5. Give practical gifts. Some of us have forgotten the intention of this time of year. It doesn't have to cost a lot of money to give someone a heart-felt gift. Let your creative side come out - make something for someone to show your appreciation. Write a poem, song or letter to a special friend. Bake vegan cookies to bring to a holiday party. Have a "white elephant" party (re-gifted item) with family and friends. Remember that this is a time of year to celebrate friends & family and that comes from sharing our light, not from draining our pocketbook.

6. Breathe. That's right. Deep breaths. Standing in a long line at Target? Hear your teachers voice and breathe deeply. Lost the only good parking spot at the mall? Take a big surrender breath and let it go. Working overtime to make a little extra money for holiday gifts? Take a 5-minute bathroom break, sit down and breathe (nobody's going to ask you why you took so long). Remember that deep breaths calm the nervous system, allow the body to absorb more oxygen and carbon dioxide to maintain energy, relax the muscles around the heart and other organs, and helps the body eliminate toxins. And the best part is, it's totally free and available to you every moment of every day.

However you choose to spend the holidays, honor and celebrate each other safely.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Today I received this email chain-letter:

"God our Father, walk through my house and take away all my worries and illnesses and please watch over and heal my family, in Jesus name, Amen."

The email said these words were powerful and to pass it along to 12 people, including her for a blessing to come to me in the form of a new job, house, marriage, finances, or may be the answer to something (a prayer or request), that I've been waiting for.

Then it said. Do not ask questions. This it was a test - and to watch and see what he does after I forward the email.

Well, I don't normally forward these chain letters. Except that I received it at the best possible time, as I was, quite ironically, contemplating some serious issues regarding my finances, house, job and answers to questions that I'd been asking. And I happen to believe that these words are quite powerful.

It immediately reminded me of a quote that I had read years ago on Krishna Das' website:

Place your burden
at the feet of the Lord of the Universe
who accomplishes everything.
Remain all the time steadfast in the heart,
in the Transcendental Absolute.
God knows the past, present and future.
He will determine the future for you
and accomplish the work.
What is to be done will be done
at the proper time. Don’t worry.
Abide in the heart and surrender your acts
to the divine.
- Ramana Maharshi

I needed this reminder today: To do my work, but to lay down my burden and trust in Spirit.
Perhaps you need this reminder today too.
Many Blessings.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Creating Balance

Creating Balance

I believe that it's no secret that the yoga practice is a method of creating balance - not just on our mat, but also in our life. As any one of you can attest, this is not usually an easy process. And, for those without the proper tools, it can take a lifetime or more to determine how to create balance.

Through my own yoga practice, teaching my students and many years of conducting yoga teacher training programs, I have found the biggest results of creating balance when I focus on the five basic elements of earth, water, air, fire and ether, their influences and energies. Sometimes these energies fall under the guise of the Chakras, or energetic wheels of energy in the body. How our Chakras are aligned and spinning influence all aspects of our body-mind. And each of the lower Chakras is commanded by a certain element. So, when the Chakra is out of whack - so is the element.

For instance, the element "earth" is linked to the first Chakra. It is an energy that is grounding, rooting and establishes our basic foundation of knowing and trusting that we have a right to be here. When we are connected with the earth element and our first Chakra is open and spinning, we feel this energy in our lives, we move slow and steady, yet with grace - not just our body, but our whole life moves this way. Certain yoga postures, vinyasas, and breathing techniques cultivate more of this element. For those who are not necessarily grounded in this element, you simply need to learn the type of things to do to create more of it. It is possible, however, to be too grounded! This is when you become"stuck" and immobile. Because just like in class, we need to be able to move with the flow, so cultivating more of another element to get things moving again.

The questions then become, which elements to cultivate, why we should use those particular ones and how to use them appropriately?

Since I have had so much success working with the elements, I've decided to add some "Element" classes, which really work like workshops - part discussion and information and part yoga class. Of course they can be taken independently, but to truly gain the whole picture and how to cultivate overall balance, I recommend taking all five. Each week we will explore a different element. We will learn its basic form and energy, how it manifests in the body, how to cultivate more or create balance. Those that are already knowledgeable with the Chakra system will find that these classes open up the door even more to your understanding of how to work with the energy of each Chakra to create balance.

These classes will meet Thursday evenings in East Windsor from 8:15 - 9:45 pm beginning July 15th - August 12th. Cost of each class $25 or $120 for all five. Bring a notebook and your yoga mat.

So, what is your basic elemental constitution? And which other elements do you need to cultivate to create more balance in your life?

This is what we will discover together in these special classes. As always, I look forward to helping you discover different ways to assist you in creating balance in your life through the amazing yoga practice.
Tracey L. Ulshafer, Director/Owner

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Growth & Expansion!

Growth & Expansion!
Early summer marks a period of growth and expansion as the sun continues to reign over our area longer each day, producing amazing fresh fruits and vegetables. As yoga is an earth-based practice, we are meant to work with the energy that is available to us. This is a time to work on your own personal growth and expanding any business or personal practice or interest that you have been wanting to put more time and energy towards - as the earth is quite literally giving us more daylight and energy to support these tasks.

I, for one, am certainly taking advantage of this energy.
As you now know, I have been working to bring a second location of One Yoga & Wellness Center in Ewing, NJ. There is a lot of work and coordination of efforts involved in getting the new location up and running, but I feel this extra burst of energy supporting me through the tasks at hand. The class schedule is just about set for Ewing, grand opening and open house dates are planned, paint and carpet colors have been picked out, and I have moved on to the task of advertising and marketing.

This is a very exciting time for One Yoga, but I want to also ensure our current students that I am giving the same level of commitment to my current classes and teacher trainings that I ever have. It is important to me that I continue to assist all my students in a way that supports your own growth, while I am also supporting my own. I've always had an "open-door" policy to my students and want you to know that I still welcome any comments or questions that you may have about One Yoga & Wellness Center, its teachers or classes. While you may not always see me at the center, I am always available via email at and do check this account daily.

In addition to working on Ewing, I am working on some new workshops and classes to bring to both East Windsor & Ewing. The Yoga Dance class in August will be a really fun, energizing class. If you like to dance and you like yoga, then you will LOVE Yoga Dance! Additionally I am working on bringing some Elemental Classes & Workshops, based on working with the five major elements: earth, water, fire, air & ether and the very different energies and movements that they provide as offering another interesting way to explore your own body-mind and create balance where there may be imbalance. CEU's are going to be available for all of these classes for the many yoga teachers that have gone through our trainings.
Finally, I am also working on writing a non-fiction book tentatively titled The Accidental Yogini, about my own personal journey to yoga and how yoga has helped my body, mind and spirit. My hope in writing this personal story is to also incorporate the various teachings of yoga so that the reader may also apply them to his/her own life issues.

So, as you can see, I am definitely tapping into the sun's energy these days and creating more fun and interesting classes, locations and teachings for you, my dedicated students, to enhance your own well-being. So, I would ask you, what is it that you would like to grow or expand in your life? Once you know what it is, start the efforts now and tap into the extra energy that the longer days and the sun are giving to you.
Tracey L. Ulshafer, Director/Owner