Thursday, June 16, 2016

Int'l Yoga Day - June 21: What Does Yoga Mean to You?

Tuesday June 21 is International Yoga Day. It was declared so by the Indian Prime Minister, the Honorable Mr. Narendra Modi during his address to UN General Assembly on September 27, 2014. At the address he stated, "Yoga is an invaluable gift of India's ancient tradition." Well, this has certainly been the case, hasn't it?

The debate over the age of yoga goes on. Some say it is 6,000 years old. Others say that the type of yoga most practiced today, Hatha Yoga, has origins from about 1000 A.D. through various tantric texts. Whether you believe its origins predate any written knowledge or that it was created relatively recently, doesn't really matter. Either way you slice it, yoga is the oldest form of self-development in the world, and it continues to grow in popularity today because even after all the time that it has been around - it still works.

Most yoga teachers agree that the "goal" of yoga is that of Self-Realization: that yoga is not an exercise or a means of creating a healthy body, but; rather, it is a path to God that ultimately leads you back to your own Divine presence. Yet today there is an overwhelming focus on the physical aspects of yoga. And that is a shame, because the real growth that one achieves through the practice comes from a deeper understanding of the philosophies and the ability in which to actively bring them to life in your own world. 

Yes, I began my yoga journal through the physical practice. As many of my students know, it was to help alleviate the daily pain of a compression fracture that I have in my spine. But it did not take too long for me to start incorporating the many other facets of yoga into my life. And today, while I do practice asana, it is not the main focus of my yoga practice. I have moved my focus to many of the other limbs of yoga and to the subtler aspects of Prana. And I have to say, it is a very challenging daily practice. Part of the change of focus has stemmed from an initial drive to understand more about the practice of yoga and also in an effort to restore my body from various traumas and physical issues. Again, either way I slice it, yoga is the main daily focus of my life.

My day begins with my own morning mantras to establish the energy that I want to create that day. I sit and do breathing techniques, chant, and meditate for as long as my dogs will allow me to! (not kidding). Then due to my crazy schedule, I may head straight to work to teach a morning Hatha yoga class, or I may work around the house before heading in to teach a later class. I usually only have one or two days off work a week, and even on those days I am creating yoga classes, workshops and trainings. If I have time I read during the day in my Buddha room (this should have been the formal living room, but I couldn't see a use for that so I put some comfy chairs in a room with a ton of Buddha statues and that's where I like to read, meditate, and relax). Most of the books that I read are yoga or mindfulness related. So I continue to educate myself to the aspects of yoga through the eyes and interpretations of others. The rest of my time usually goes towards taking my dogs on a nice, long walk without my phone and then returning to my home office for marketing for the studio. So, yoga, yoga, and more yoga. My down time from yoga occurs pretty much when my husband comes home and we catch up with each other, have dinner, and sit down to relax for the evening. Other than that, yoga is pretty much my life and I couldn't even imagine a day without it in some way.

I am interested in knowing what yoga means to you. Because what yoga means to me is everything. Yoga is my way of managing life. Yoga helps my body stay flexible and strong - even when I cannot do some of the things that I would really like to. At least I know that without it, I would be a lot worse off. Yoga keeps my mind clear and focused so that I can keep working on more ways to share the practice with my students but also so that I can enjoy my life with family and friends by continuing to focus not he positive aspects of life. Through yoga I have gained a clear interconnectedness with Spirit, and through that connection, I have found a path of love and light. But enough about me...what does yoga mean to you?

Namaste.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

June's Theme: AWAKEN

When I pulled the "Awaken" card for this month's theme I thought, "Of course!" This is a process that I have been moving through rapidly this past year, as I listen more to my higher self and less to my ego. And man, it is not always that easy!

When I first started teaching yoga I came across a quote from Thomas Paine, "The mind, one enlightened, cannot again become dark." And this explains exactly the nature of why ignorance can present as bliss. But the truth of the matter is that true bliss comes from enlightenment. And that means, we all have a lot of work to do! And thus: Awaken! becomes the mantra of the month.

I wouldn't expect it to happen overnight, however. I would just start being more open to the fact that you don't know it all. Or, as another great man once said, "The only true wisdom is in knowing that you know nothing." Socrates said that but, I learned it from Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, like most people who grew up on 80's movies.

And that brings me to my last point: Have Fun. It is easy to get overwhelmed when on the process of Awakening. But that goes against Universal laws...like your right to party. I learned that from the Beastie Boys...or was that Abraham Lincoln? Oh well, I'm getting old and I am trying to Awaken here! Peace out.

In Love, Service & Wisdom.
Tracey L. Ulshafer,
Founder/Director, One Yoga Center 

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What does it mean to "Awaken?" Well it's pretty simple, actually: it means to rouse or activate. In basic terms, think of every night when you fall asleep. At some point you wake-up and are suddenly aware that there is life in you and happening all around you. On a deeper level, it means to activate the higher levels of consciousness available to you. 

Yes, some of us are walking around in a fog of duality, completely unaware that there is a deeper, more resonate vibration in which to feel and become one with. Through this vibration we can tap into our unlimited potential and move into the new reality, which transcends time, space, ego and duality. 

Now if that seems just way too "new agey" and "out there" for you, then think of this: the Universe and all that is with in, including you, are One. One Consciousness vibrating (OM) together in light and for positive good. Yes, the Universe wants you to be happy and fruitful and vibrant. Yet we can sometimes get weighed down by the ego and stuck in our ruts. When life stops moving forward in a positive direction, then you are in this rut. And nobody wants to live in that rut! So, this month we challenge you to AWAKEN! 

Release all the negativity that does not serve your spirit. Reduce time spent with negative vibrations (including people, places and things). Replace fear with love. Pause before you react to anything. And always ask, "Am I coming from a place of love?" Awaken to the unlimited potential within and without.

In Love & Light.
OYC Founder, Tracey L. Ulshafer & your OYC Teaching Staff

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Closing Comments...

To Awaken there has to be a willingness to let go...
to let go of who you are, who you were, who they tell you that you are, and who you think you are...
To Awaken you need to be willing to become who you were truly meant to be.