Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Guru Purnima 2016 - Honoring Your Teacher(s)

Back in 2013 I wrote a short blog about Guru Purnima, inspired by my recent visit with Amma, most commonly known as the "hugging mother." When we are in the close proximity of a truly great teacher we can feel their compassion, love and empathy. This was my case in the brief moment that I met Amma (link to the blog here: http://oneyogaandwellnesscenter.blogspot.com/2013/07/guru-purnima-celebrating-your-guru.html). But that feeling of being around a wise being is like no other. Finding the right words to describe that feeling is a challenge and often I find that I cannot write about it truly because no words will give it the true understanding.

Last March while in Bali I read Krishna Das' book Chants of a Lifetime. His devotion to his guru, Sri Neem Karoli Baba, continues today long after his guru's death and he writes so profoundly of what it is like being in the presence of these great teachers:

"We want to be near these great beings because of the love, but anything inside us that can burn will start burning. Everything that is hidden is going to show. Being around him, I became more aware of the stuff that took me out of the love; my thoughts, desires and emotions, which were running totally out of control, came between us. Drawn by the power of his love, like moths to a flame, the other devotees and I were purified by that fire. There was nowhere to get away from it. And we didn't want to get away. We wanted to be in that love, but in order to be in that love, our stuff had to burn away. The process still continues in a different way"(pg. 36).

I'm sure that not everyone has felt this deep devotion to a teacher. My brief encounter with Amma showed me that it was possible, but I still could not say that I am devoted to her as a disciple.

When I think back of my many teachers: school teachers, work mentors, and yoga teachers, I have learned so many little things from so many people that when I honor Guru Purnima, I honor every soul that has ever touched me, really. Because there is not one that I can say did not teach me something in some way.

Blessings on Guru Purnima. Who is the teacher that you honor today?

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Building Community - Your Extended Family

When I found the current location of One Yoga Center in the center of Hightstown Borough, one of my first thoughts was that of excitement over building and belonging to a community. Even though East Windsor had been a welcoming and wonderful home for so many years, the neighborhood feel of our current location was one that I welcomed. Fast forward six months in the studio and with the warmer weather allowing me to create a beautiful, inviting porch for folks to sit and chat on before and after classes, we are slowly building that community feel. The addition to the various groups such as: Book Club, Goddess Gatherings, and Drum Circles has allowed us to offer special free, by donation or at a low fee to the community and I continue to look for ways in which to build upon those efforts.

With life being as busy as it seems to have gotten for everyone, I know that I do not get to see my own family very much. In June we took our yearly family vacation with my husband and two daughters and it was such a nice week of re-connecting through some seriously needed down time (although we did do 108 Sun Salutations together on the Summer Solstice and trekked to the top of a pyramid for a meditation in releasing unwanted energy - so I guess I was still "working" a little). Then last week I got the chance to have my youngest niece with me for the week since she is off for the summer. While it was more work than I'm used to, it was great having more time with my family and brought me together with other members in different ways that week as well.

One Yoga Center has been my extended family since inception. All of the students, practitioners and friends who have come through the door and made OYC their home and me a part of their family has fulfilled me in so many ways that I continue to look for ways in which to repay you back. And I have realized, as you may have too, that even though I love my immediate family deeply, that we do not all have the same interests and hobbies, and having an extended family in which to provide more support in my endeavors has come to mean the world to me. I feel like I may be saying the same thing over again in different ways, but that is because I truly feel blessed for the friends and extended family that I have made through the years of teaching yoga, doing massage, and offering other workshops on energy and positive intentions.

I believe that we all need to build our extended family support groups. Whether you are close with your immediate family or blood relatives or not, you need friends and like-minded individuals to support your spiritual and emotional growth...because God knows, our immediates sure know how to push our buttons (but then, we allow them to).

If you are looking for a support group or are interested in guiding one at OYC, contact me to discuss the possibilities. We usually need to have one of our teachers there representing the studio, but we have a lot already involved in some activities that we offer now. Maybe you aren't familiar with the various groups or special classes that we have - so here is a short list of our ever growing support groups for our extended family:

Book Club - Once a month or every other month, we host a free book club meeting. Our books are spiritual in nature, but not necessarily related to yoga. All have positive and inspiring themes. Led by Barbara Galluci and Donna Aleckna, these meet from time to time and anyone is welcome to attend and discuss the book.

"Community" Hatha - we offer two yoga classes a week for those on a budget in the local community. For $5 you can take a 60-minute yoga classes guided by our various teachers or teacher trainees. Check the regular class schedule, but right now we offer them on Monday evening at 7:30pm and Friday at 5:45 pm.

Drum Circles - We are trying to host a monthly drumming circle. You do not need to be a drummer or have any experience drumming. This is a great way to come together learning tribal rhythms. Build upon our tribe and join us. Cost: $25 Instructed by Vincent Pierce-Smith

Goddess Gatherings - Once a month we host a Goddess Gathering where women come to gather and support each other in their life cycles. Together we create sacred space, share our stories, then bring in various "Goddess" energies to invoke to support us on our path to Spiritual and Emotional health and well being. These are by donation to offer something to the studio. Hosted by Tracey L. Ulshafer, founder OYC.

Yoga 4 Cancer - this disease affects so many that we offer a special class Wednesdays at 11:30 pm for anyone involved in treatment or recovery of cancer or who may be dealing with a loved one going through or who had been through cancer treatment. These classes are $8 and instructed by Barbara Galluci and Suzette Stoddard.

Yoga 4 Sobriety - we host special classes for those involved in any 12-step programs. These are usually $8 classes and can be found on our regular class schedule. Right now we offer them Wednesday 6 am and Saturday 8 am. The yoga classes are aligned to the 12 steps of recovery and can be taken by anyone. Instructed by Gwen Rebbeck & Joe Scarola.

Most of the special group gatherings can be found on the "Calendar" page on our website:

If you are interested in seeing another special community event, please let me know by emailing me at Info@oneyogacenter.net.

Thank you for continuing to support the growing community at One Yoga Center. And look for even more things coming in 2017!!!
In Love & Light.

Friday, July 1, 2016

July Theme: FREEDOM

"Yoga allows you to find a new kind of freedom that you may not have known even existed." 
- B.K.S. Iyengar
Freedom to me is having the ability to wake up late, drink a hot cup of chai in my meditation garden as my dogs meander about licking the dew off the grass, and make my own choices on how my day is going to unfold...knowing the sometimes, the Universe will have its own set of plans for my day.

While my schedule is jam packed with work related activities, I am blessed in the job that I have and the ability to create the hours that I am willing to spend doing it. This past month I was plagued with great fatigue that I just couldn't shake. I began taking supplements, started eating more veggies and getting more sleep. But I just couldn't shake it. Something was "off." I finally came to the realization that some of the commitments to my time that I have made, were not in my best interest. And this forced me to look at my schedule and make some changes. After that and performing some energy clearings, I am back to feeling more vital and charged...and energetically more free.

Finding that balance is often challenging and I usually find myself overdoing it - that's what freedom allows me to do - too much! So I have started to embrace not filling up my time as much and enjoying the free moments that I have. Maybe this month you can do the same and create more freedom and space for yourself to just be.

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

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July 4th may have become synonymous with BBQ's, trips to the shore and having a day off of work, but like most "holidays" there is a deeper and richer meaning behind the day. 

I think that we all know that July 4th is our Independence Day. This date in 1776 the first continental congress adopted the Decoration of Independence and our country has been celebrating that day and our independence over England ever since. But this month we want to dig a little bit deeper into the true essence of the word "Freedom." 

What does it mean to truly be free? Are you really free? How could you create more freedom in your life? More freedom in your body? More freedom in your mind? More freedom to truly express who you are and what you are born to be? Have you created your own limitations to this freedom? The questions can go on and on.

In your yoga practices this month, consider where you can find more freedom - how you can become more light. And we will be here to guide you through the experience.

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

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Closing Comments...

Have you become a slave to your job? Your family? Your world? Have you created your own prison that limits your ability to truly be free? 

In the immortal words of Tyler Durden (Fight Club), "The things you own end up owning you."

Or for you more determined yogis out there, "Those whose consciousness is unified abandon all attachment to the result of action and attain supreme peace. But those whose desires are fragmented, who are selfishly attached to the result of their work, are bound in everything they do." - Bhagavad Gita.