Saturday, December 1, 2012

I'm Calling A Do-Over!

Well, what a month November was! Hurricane Sandy, the Nor'Easter"Athena"  the following week, the election chaos, and the closing of our second studio in Ewing. I cannot even begin to explain to you the frenzy of emotions that I have been going through over the past month, personally.
And for you: so many of our friends were without power or running water. Many of our neighbors lost their homes. And so many of our extended family so happened to have also lost loved ones this past month. 
Can we all just take a big "Surrender Breath" together?
AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I'm calling a "Do-Over." Am I too old to call one of those? Okay, maybe not a "do-over." But I have been haunted by the phrase: "When one door closes, another one opens." And I cannot help but smile (with tears yet still in my eyes) at what unexpected wonder may at any moment befall us. 
Can I hear an "Amen!"?

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Gratitude Meditation

This is the month that we give thanks. It's easy to let life weigh us down, sometimes forgetting all the other things that we are grateful for. Here is a simple gratitude meditation:
Sit comfortably in a chair, on the floor, or against the wall. Straighten your back, and relax your shoulders.
Begin to breathe naturally, as you close your eyes. 
Notice the inhalation & exhalation. Let go of your day and start to become present to the moment, releasing any tension in your body.
Begin to breathe deeper through the nose. Cultivate long, deep breaths through both nostrils for both inhale & exhale. Try to breathe into the diaphragm (or belly) allowing the stomach to expand on inhalation. 
Once you are steady, begin to inhale to the mantra "I am..." Exhale to "...Grateful." Repeat this several times without looking for answers or results. Just be present to the mantra and the breath. Stay with it as long as you like.
When you are so moved, place your hands at the heart in Anjali mudra (prayer), and be still. You can still breath with the mantra, or simply enjoy the stillness.
Close by expressing gratitude through prayer or positive energy to whomever or whatever you are inspired to.

Namaste. And thank you for allowing me to be your teacher.
Tracey L. Ulshafer, Director/Owner

Monday, October 1, 2012

Happy Harvest & Halloween

Happy Harvest & Halloween.
I love October. I love the change in weather, the colors of the trees, and the energy permeating throughout. The autumn equinox just passed, signifying the last harvest. My crop-share just handed out our last batch of goodies this week, but I'm loving making my butternut squash soup and eggplant casserole in acorn squash! I didn't get any canning done this year even though I had purchased all the supplies, but that gives me time to get ready for next season. 
Of course Halloween looms right around the corner. Another holiday I love. My family has always enjoyed dressing up, cutting loose and having fun. In our politically correct society it seems the only allowable time to be ridiculous. October 31 is actually the eve of an important pagan holiday, Samhain (pronounced "Sowan"). This is the Celtic New Year, celebrating the last harvest, and the beginning of the dark half of the year. It is also associated to the Catholic All Saint's Day, commemorating the departed saints, both known & unknown. At this time of year, it is said that the veil between the two worlds is the thinnest, and connections can be more easily made to those who have passed through. As the day continues to approach, I've been having more dreams about friends who have passed away, and am seeing the time "11:11" more and more frequently (11 is said to be a master number associated with balance, spiritual energy and awakened psyched atunement). This significant time of year can be transformative for moving energy, letting go of past attachments, and clearing the way for the inward current of energy and nurturance. 

How can I use this time of Year to Prepare for the dark Winter?

Lots of people suffer from seasonal disorders. When we lack sunlight and hybernate inside without creating positive energy around us, we can suffer unnecessarily. Prepare yourself now, and get ready for a rewarding winter!
  • Spend time outside, getting in vital sunlight and enjoying the many harvest festivals around.
  • Winter can be a very creative time. Prepare for creative projects by purchasing supplies and doing any research necessary.
  • Buy a new journal and start recording your thoughts, dreams, meditations and experiences.
  • Use the harvest foods to nourish your body, freezing items for the winter.
  • Fall can be just as effective as spring for cleansing - what in your life needs a good cleanse? Your body? Your house? Your job? Your relationships?
  • Winter festivals are often about family gatherings. Plan a party, work on lifting any rifts between loved-ones, and put out loving energy for any events.
  • Fire pit rituals are perfect for this time of year. Burn away anything from the past year that you need to clear by literally throwing it in the fire. 
  • Commit to your yoga practice. It will help keep you balanced during this shifting time of energy, and will be incredibly important as we move into the dark half of the year.
Wishing you a warm and happy autumn.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

September is National Yoga Month

September is National Yoga Month! 
September is National Yoga Month. Yoga studios around the country offer specials to promote yoga to students in an effort to spread the word about the benefits of the practice. Well, at One Yoga Center, we believe that every month is yoga month. And that's why we continue to offer specials, but even more than that, I always personally speak to every person that calls in to make sure that he or she winds up in the right classes so that the yoga journey starts off right.

If you are reading this, chances are that you already understand the benefits of yoga. You've probably tried effortlessly to get someone else in your life to try yoga - with some success and some failure. Most of my own family has "tried" yoga, and even with owning two studios in the area, they don't come with any regularity. So, what can you do? As we say here in Jersey, "it is what it is." Keep coming to yoga for you and focus on that, and, perhaps over time, a little of your zen will rub off on them too.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

What does your Yoga Practice Mean to You?

When was the last time that you really thought about your yoga practice and what it means to you?
For most of us, the yoga practice is always changing. When I first came to yoga it was to help repair pain in my back. Then as my back got better, I also started to think positive thoughts, eat healthier and be a better person. The person that I am today is far from the one that I was a mere 15 years ago, and I do credit it all to the yoga practice. 
I recently read an article someone wrote about being disillusioned with their yoga practice. Of course, they were talking about the asana practice - the physical practice of postures and breathing techniques that we call hatha yoga. I think that many of us can relate to that. For me the last year and a half I'd taken a little step back from my physical yoga practice due to a needed recovery from surgery and basic burn-out. Since my body needed a rest, I decided to focus my yoga practice on my relationships: my relationship with myself, my family members, and friends. And, take it from me, it is a much harder practice! Now as I head back into my asana practice with the vigor in my mind, I find my body to have changed quite a bit and my asana practice much different than what it was before. But instead of disillusionment, I come back to my practice with compassion and reverence, knowing that I can always start where I am now.
I am sure if you are reading this that the physical practice of yoga has meant something to you either now still or at the very least, at one time. Maybe you've lost touch with it, perhaps you've become disillusioned by the commercialism of yoga in the US, or maybe, like me, what you once thought of as your yoga practice has changed. No matter what it is, the yoga practice is always there for you to help create space and balance for your body, mind and soul.

Are you looking to reconnect with or expand your yoga practice?

The workshops and teacher training programs are for anyone wanting to expand their own practice and knowledge of yoga. All you need to do is sign up! For those of you who want to reconnect with yoga - in any of its forms - contact me. I am happy to guide you to a program that may be appropriate for you, provide spiritual counseling or conduct private lessons. My many Sadhana, Circles and Women's Groups will also help you reconnect. So if you've been "meaning to..." get back to your yoga practice, why wait any more? Let's get in touch and talk about what may work for you.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

"Every Now and then go away..."

Every now and then go away, have a little relaxation, for when you come back to your work your judgment will be surer. Go some distance away because then the work appears smaller and more of it can be taken in at a glance and a lack of harmony and proportion is more readily seen.  - 
Never does there ever seem to be a quote more appropriate than Leonardo's on rest and relaxation, than right now during the summer. With the kids off from school and the weather warm and sunny, we all look forward to vacations, rest and putting a little distance away from work.

I can surely relate. Since I arrived back from Thailand in January I have been on the go teaching regular yoga classes, two teacher training groups and trying to (often unsuccessfully) find time to spend with friends & family. I decided that I needed a little break too. Aside from my regular classes and a couple of workshops, I am taking about 6 weeks off from my training schedule and am looking forward to some well-needed down time. And, as Leonardo points out, this means I will be back and fresh to start a new round of teacher training in the Fall - but with some great changes! 

Teacher Training Changes & Dates for Fall:
  •  Advanced Teacher Training - this is the cumulative 500 hour training that we host for 200 hour level teachers who want to further their studies and deepen their teaching skills. I've rebooted the program to be in two separate modules rather than one 6-month course, and includes unlimited yoga classes while enrolled in the program. 
    • Module 1: Creating Balance by Embracing Eastern Methods. This module will dive into a full self-development program discovering basic energy patterns, an in depth look at the Chakra system, how to use the Chinese Meridian Systems in yoga, Understanding Indian Ayurveda and defining your life aspects of Sadhanas - all to create balance. The self-development portion of this program will be available to ALL STUDENTS (not just yoga teachers) as part of the upcoming Yoga Mentorship program! Yoga teachers will continue to learn how to help your students find balance through these same Eastern methods. 100 program hours. Start date is September 5 and will run every Wednesday evening from 5:30-9:30 pm and only 1 weekend day per month (4 days total on weekends).  
    • Module 2: Enhance Knowledge of the 5 types of Yoga: Hatha, Jnana, Raja, Karma, and Bhakti. This is the module where advanced sections of anatomy & physiology, Asanas, Yoga Philosophy, Sanskrit, the true origins of yoga with assisting, teaching and many, many more aspects will be revealed - culminating in a weekend yoga & meditation retreat. 200 hours.
  • 200 Hour Teacher Training - this is our basic nuts and bolts of learning how to instruct the postures, breathing exercises, and all the other little aspects that go into sequencing a good well-rounded yoga class. This program is either Hatha or Vinyasa sequencing based and is determined by the demand. Proposed start date: February 2013.
I look forward to a little time off and a then working with new groups of trainees in the Fall - when we are all refreshed and renewed! Now accepting applications for all programs.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Meditation CD's - for when you don't have time to get into the studio

"Time keeps on ticking, ticking, ticking - into the future..." - Steve Miller Band

Each month when I sit down to write the welcome message to the newsletter, I am astounded that another month has passed again so quickly. I always take a moment to look back and assess my goals and note which ones are still on the list and those that I have accomplished. I must admit, the list usually stays at about a 50/50 split, but I choose to look at it as the universe wasn't ready for me to work on those unfinished items yet.

Spring is a time for renewal and renewed energy. Awakening from the winter slumber we can often go gang-busters too quickly and forget how to nurture ourselves to create the balance we need. Yes, use your new-found energy to light a creative fire under your projects, but don't underestimate the importance of rest or you can easily fall prey to seasonal colds and flu.

The Yoga practice can be very renewing and healing. But I understand how personal demands can keep you from your practice. Of course we want to see you in class, and I'm sure that you want to be there too, but some days it just isn't in the cards, is it? This is why I've developed two yoga/meditation CD's that you can use at any moment of the day or night. They are called "Sacred Junctures." One is solar based, giving you guided meditations, breathing practices and sometimes even asanas for different times of the day (from sunrise to mid-day to sunset). The other is lunar based, guiding you through the different moon phases (from new to waxing to full and waning). Both CD's are available at the yoga studios for $15 each or $25 for both. They are also available on amazon.com under my name, for those of you who have moved out of the area or simply cannot make it by the studios.

I've specially selected the yoga breathing and guided energy practices for each time of day or night to help renew energy, rejuvenate the body and mind, and soul. So even when you do not have time to come by the studio for your favorite yoga class, you can still be guided through a renewing practice with me. I've received great feedback already about the CD's and know you will enjoy them and find them a great addition to your home practice.
Until we see each other on the mat...