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

Friday, May 18, 2018

How Does Yoga Help Combat Stress-Related Symptoms? - Neighbors of East Windsor Magazine Article

How Does Yoga Help Combat Stress-Related Symptoms?
By Tracey L. Ulshafer, Owner/One Yoga & Wellness Center LLC, Hightstown, NJ

A 2016 study by Yoga Journal magazine estimated that thirty-four percent of Americans, or some 80 million people, practice yoga. Whether you think of yoga as a fitness practice, a new-agey thing, or the science of self-realization, the fact of the matter is that a whole lot of people are rolling out the yoga mat today. Why? The benefits of yoga are renewed in studies daily. But perhaps some of the most significantly researched and discussed today are the benefits in combating stress-related symptoms.

Stress, according to another 2016 study, was found to cost the US economy on average $300 billion a year. Common physical symptoms of stress include: low energy, headaches, digestive issues, aches and pains, insomnia, poor immune system, loss of desire for life, chest pain and rapid heartbeat. Other health problems caused by or exacerbated by stress include: depression, anxiety, thinking and memory problems. And we could talk about more. But perhaps what is more important is to understand how stress works and why yoga has been proven in study after study to a positive benefit on all of these symptoms. 

When we feel threatened, our nervous system responds by releasing a flood of stress hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol, which rouse the body for emergency action. Our heart pounds faster, muscles tighten, blood pressure rises, breath quickens, and senses become sharper. This is referred to as the “Fight-or-Flight Response,” and it certainly serves its purpose in our general safety. However, when we become stressed out more frequently, the nervous system can react just as strongly to emotional as physical threats, and disrupt nearly every system of our body – even rewiring our brain leaving us to feel vulnerable to anxiety, depression and other mental health problems. 

Here is what we know about yoga in a nutshell: it helps initiate the relaxation response. First of all, the vagus nerve, part of the parasympathetic nervous system responsible for shifting our mind back to a state of calm, is toned through yoga. This helps us to balance and regulate the nervous system so that we do not perceive stress so readily. 

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) revealed in their 2015 conference that yoga lowers levels of cortisol, alleviated anxiety, moderated depression and high stress. 

In his 2017 work The Science Behind Yoga, Dr. Mithu Storing said, “As you hold a posture, your prefrontal cortex is counting the raised sympathetic sign at as it keeps you focused. This is how we train your mind to keep your stress signal under control. As you mind learns how to do this, you get better at doing this even outside the yoga room.” 

So if you, like many other Americans, suffer from stress-related issues, hop on over to your local yoga studio today and get started on a mindful road to wellness.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

The Many Benefits of Yoga - Neighbors of East Windsor Magazine Article

The Many Benefits of Yoga

Yoga is a tradition that arose from the Indian sub-continent around, what some would argue, nearly six thousand years ago. Yoga traditionally is a formal practice of integrating the body, the mind, and the soul for the purpose of ultimately achieving transcendence. But since many of its more esoteric teachings seem far out of reach to the contemporary person, the benefits of the practice have been proven to be beneficial for numerous reasons.

Today the most popular type of yoga practiced is traditionally known as “Hatha” yoga. “Ha” equates to the warm solar energies of the sun, while “tha” the cooling energies of the moon. The practices of Hatha Yoga are meant to help an individual find balance where it is needed. And in today’s fast-paced and stressful world, there are many issues that people face which affects their general health and well-being. Many studies point to the fact that yoga may hold the key to many health benefits that we are looking for.

In a February 28, 2017 post by Harvard Health Publications, Executive Editor Julie Corliss discusses how yoga may help in lowering heart disease. In the article she quotes Dr. Gloria Yeh, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School as saying, “Yoga is unique because it incorporates physical activity, breathing and meditation.” And Corliss goes on to say that each of these elements alone has positive affects to cardiovascular risk factors, so when combined, they are “bound to show a benefit.”

Of course the ancient yogis knew hundreds and thousands of years ago the benefits of yoga. But we are still catching up today. So what else can yoga help with in today’s society?

Some of the most common complaints of any yoga student upon entering a yoga class is having low-back or neck pain. Most of the ways in which we hold our bodies all day long do not support the natural curves to the spine. Sitting in a chair, driving in a car, typing on a phone or computer – these all can create unhealthy postural integrity for anyone when done for hours each day. Back in January 2015, Israeli researchers reported in their medical journal, Harefuah, that yoga may be a valuable tool to treat chronic neck and low-back pain. The article explains how yoga therapy can work: “When you hold a pose, your muscles contract and then slowly relax as you breath in and out. When relaxation sets in, back pain starts to go away.”

Sounds good. But let’s talk about some more benefits!

Graham McDougall Jr., Ph.D., lead researchers of the report published in the Journal of Neurosciences Nursingsays that yoga helps sharpen the brain, “Focused breath equals maximizing oxygenation and movement increases blood flow to the brain and body.” Participants in his study showed significant gain in memory performance as well as having “fewer depressive symptoms.” And since yoga has been proven to help lower levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, it also is known to help better control anxiety.

The Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Researchreported that yoga increases the digestive processes in the body, which can improve blood sugar, and has great potential for preventing and controlling diabetes, a disease affecting at least 29 million people each year in the United States alone. 

Today many hospitals have implemented yoga for cancer treatments and recovery programs. The Journal of Clinical Oncologyfound that performing yoga twice a week for as little as three months could lower inflammation, boost energy and lift the mood of female cancer patients. And hospitals right in our area currently host yoga and meditation classes for their patients in ongoing cancer treatment.

The fact is that yoga has been proven to have a positive effect on every system of the body. Today more studies continue to prove that this ancient practice can help people in many ways to improve their level of health and in living a more fruitful and positive life. Studies continue to be performed on the benefits of yoga on various diseases or illness, and one by one they continue to come back either reporting positive benefits or at the very least potential benefits. So while the yogis of yore may have not had to deal with many of the issues that we do today and could focus on enlightenment, yoga does have a positive impact on the daily lives of those of us living in the 21st century too. 

Yes, yoga is for anyone and everyone. The most important thing is to find a reputable studio and a knowledgeable teacher in which to work with. To find such a studio or teacher, try searching the National Yoga Alliance®website

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.

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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