Monday, January 14, 2019

Mindful Traveling with Sacred Journeys by One Yoga Center

On the eve of a huge travel day, here I am writing a blog. Cause, ya know, that is what busy people who still have to pack do!

My yoga retreat to Thailand departs Philadelphia airport tomorrow evening for a fabulous top to tour the country of Thailand. We will visit many Buddhist temples, do service work at a school for 650 orphaned/hill-tribe children, do yoga asana classes in the park, and partake of all things Thailand. I'm enamored with the people of Thailand, and their joyful spirit. My father introduced me to this wonderful country and it has become like a second home to me - where I feel immediately welcome upon arrival.

The way that I travel today is a far cry from the way that I used to. I remember the first time I had an international trip, I crammed it in with so much stuff and was hell-bent on seeing it all and doing it all in one trip because I said, "I might never get back!" Well, some places I haven't gotten back to, but other places I like to go to over and over again because of the beauty that they possess - inside and out.

As a yoga teacher, I try to travel as mindfully as possible. I remember in my younger days being in a national park where it was prohibited to take any of the beautiful colored rocks. So, I packed my bag full of them, of course! Today, I wouldn't dream of doing such a thing. Regardless of any postings, I take a moment to ask permission from the land to take the rock, and in meditation, I listen for the answer. I am always mindful of the customs and spiritual traditions of where I travel too. I want to experience the country in the way that it was intended to be and not by forcing my own agendas on it.  And although my father completely makes fun of me for doing so, I try to speak clearly and articulate my words, sometimes with a slight accent bent to the country's own speak, so that I am more easily understood. I guess that you can say I go out of the way to be mindful!

So back to the packing situation. I just started throwing some clothes in a bag this time. I haven't even counted the number of shirts or pants. I'll be gone for three weeks but I am not worrying about what I have. I'm going to wash my clothes this time and, of course, I always buy a few new ones too to support local markets and vendors. I also want to travel light and not be weighed down. I am not dressing to impress anyone - I just want to be comfortable and respectful of traditions there.

I think it is also ultra important to have some down time - time where nothing is planned. So, if you want to just sit on a bench and people watch, converse, or have an ice cream cone or whatever the local treat is, you can. Often times I have found that the best days of traveling are the ones that I had no plans, went with the flow, and ran into some really cool things!

So, as I get ready to embark on my next Sacred Journey, help send us off with a little prayer and good blessings for safe and easy-going travel! And I hope that maybe next time that you might consider traveling with me!

In Love & Light

One of the ancient cities we will visit outside of Bangkok is Ayuttaya, a little section of shown here.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

January 2019 Theme: I AM - 1st Chakra

This Year, I thought, maybe we should go back to some basics and review the Chakra energy system, giving you some information and the ability to work to remove any blocks in your energy system. But, we usually only teach 7 main chakras is, I decided to do 12 Chakras - 12 Months! Yup, you will learn about 5 additional upper Chakras! OH BOY! Look out 2019 - we are removing blocks and moving forward as we all increase our vibrational frequencies!

January's Studio Theme: I AM

This Year, I thought, maybe we should go back to some basics and review the Chakra energy system, giving you some information and the ability to work to remove any blocks in your energy system. But, we usually only teach 7 main chakras is, I decided to do 12 Chakras - 12 Months! Yup, you will learn about 5 additional upper Chakras! OH BOY! Look out 2019 - we are removing blocks and moving forward as we all increase our vibrational frequencies!But, let's not get ahead of ourselves. We have some work to do! 

1st Chakra Basics:
Name: Muladhara = meaning "ROOT"
Location: Base of the Spine
Color: Red
Element: Earth
Issues: Foundation, Grounding, Finances, Home, Health, Work
Mantra: LAM
Physical Issues: Legs, base of spine, buttocks, knees, feet, toes, colon

Questions to Ask to see if your 1st Chakra is in balance:
  1. Do I generally have good health?
  2. Are my finances in order? Do I have proper savings?
  3. Do I enjoy or even love my job? Does it serve me well?
  4. Does my home reflect me? Do I feel safe and nurtured at home?
  5. Do I generally feel grounded?
  6. Do I have any issues with my toes, feet, ankles, knees, legs or buttocks?
  7. Do I have a sense of being/belonging in this world?

Some things to do this month to work with the 1st Chakra:
  1. Balance checkbooks, ledgers, etc.
  2. See your financial advisor
  3. Clean out any clutter at home - rooms and general flow, closets, junk drawers, garage, etc.
  4. Give away clothes to shelters, donation places, RISE in Hightstown
  5. Plan healthier meals
  6. See your doctor for regular visits and checkups
  7. See specialists for any nagging physical issues you've been avoiding - whether its lower body or anywhere else!
  8. If not happy at work, get your resume together, start putting energy out to find the job that best serves you and helps you serve the world
  9. Tend to indoor plants, repot or add new, fresh soil
  10. Nurture your body with a soothing massage, reiki energy work, or other pampering.
  11. Uh, YOGA PRACTICE!!! 

And speaking of your yoga practice, what type of things should you practice for your 1st Chakra?

Asanas - postures that are low to the ground like Cobra, Plank or Crocodile, Forward Folds, and postures that focus on the rooting sensation and what the legs are doing/how the legs are working like lunge or Warrior poses.

Sequence - should be slow and steady. Lots of long holds and breaks. Focus on BEING in the poses.

Breathing - Deep Belly Breaths

Mantra - LAM (seed sound of the chakra)

Meditation - slow walking meditation, Tai Chi, or rooting meditation where you feel roots growing from feet down into the deep, rich earth.

Any of the yoga classes at One Yoga Center will help you to connect or reconnect with your 1st Chakra. Many of our classes this month will focus on this Chakra and just being present. Dive on in!

Love & Light, Tracey & the Teachers at One Yoga & Wellness Center!

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Special Message from Tracey for January...
I love, love, love the Chakra system! When we talk about the practice of yoga being one of self-realization, we cannot get anywhere until we climb the chakras and ascend to our highest self. In the process of living life and reincarnating from past ones, we carry around energy that is often unbalanced. Sometimes we are deficient in an energy center, and sometimes we are excessive. Quite often we can fluctuate from one to another when we haven't done the work to establish a consistency.

What I love about the first chakra is that it is the foundation for all of the rest of the system. If we have a faulty foundation in a building, it will eventually collapse. It is the same here. We have to build our house on a rock, as my teacher Baron Baptiste likes to say. So the first charka and creating a feeling of balance here becomes ultra important! This is where you cannot skimp. You have to dive in and do the work. 

For those of you that want to really dig in, I recommend reading Anodea Judith's book, Eastern Body - Western Mind. We use this in the advanced teacher training. It is a tough book because of the in-depth look at yourself, but one that will really create the breakthroughs and start to create the awareness that you need to move forward in releasing blocks in your system. But it is not an easy practice. It is one that takes consistency and rigorous honesty. There are times when I am so spent on doing the work that I just need a break. Maybe you feel the same way. But, maybe you are ready to go deeper too. 

The first chakra is one that we discuss in every single yoga class - even when we do not mention it. Imagine running into class from work or a hectic day. Maybe you ran late or perhaps you are stressed about something. Usually there is something going on. We, as teachers, have to get you grounded, into your body, and anchored into the present moment. We do this by guiding you some first chakra practices. Then, once we proceed in the class, we often come back to the first chakra when discussing alignment - because every single pose has a foundation that is important in successfully sustaining the posture. So whatever is touching the floor (usually feet, but sometimes buttocks or hands), you will hear us talking about - A lot! So, technically, most yoga classes are 1st chakra classes by nature. 

Remember that the first charka is there to keep us in a good place. If our finances, work, home and health are in order then usually things are pretty good in our life. I am constantly working on my chakras, but particularly this one. And I hope that you have fun working on yours this month. 

If you have any questions about the chakra, ask your teacher. We are here to help you!

In Love & Light,

Yoga for Our Changing Times

Yoga for Our Changing Times

By Tracey L. Ulshafer, Owner/One Yoga & Wellness Center LLC, Hightstown, NJ

The world is certainly a much different place than it was forty, twenty, heck, even five years ago! Information is coming at us fast and furiously every day from varied sources. It is often challenging to keep up with just how fast technology and the world is changing. It seems like time is even moving faster than it used to. So what is one to do to during these very challenging times?

There is a thousands-year-old practice that works perfectly for what ails you in today’s culture: yoga – and it may not be what you think.

Yoga, at the end of the day, is a practice of self-realization. Yes, we perform exercises, or postures, to help keep the body flexible and pure. And yes, we use skills like meditation and mindfulness to keep our mind clear and focused. And certainly there are breathing exercises and other components like chanting and purification practices that build out this program. But what it is really all about is connecting with your own Divine source within. Yoga is a spiritual practice that bridges all religions and other spiritual practices and can be done by anyone – regardless of age, race, sex, shape, or age. In fact, it is the very practice that can bring all of those seemingly separate qualities into Oneness. 

So what does that have to do with these changing times that we live in? Well, did you know that scientists have discovered that time, is, in fact, moving faster? “Schuman Resonance” is a measurement of frequency here on earth. In the 1950’s the earth’s frequency was 7.8 hertz. Today it is apparently around 12 hertz. According to an article by COFCO, what this means to us is that 24 hours feels like just 16 hours. In the world of Quantum Physics, this very discussion happens daily, as we constantly learn more about the true nature of time and space, and our interconnected part in it all. The ancient yogis, when deep in contemplation, were able to see this same very nature of matter and energy. And they left us tools to sort of find our way home by navigating through it all.

As frequency and vibrations are moving faster, many people today are experiencing changes and difficulties dealing with these accelerated and ascending energies. Increased migraines, sensitivity to sound or light, increased empathetic feelings, anxiety, depression and many more symptoms can be linked to this phenomenon that we find ourselves living in. And while it is always suggested to confirm any physical or mental issues that you may be experiencing with your doctor, the yogis would ask you to also dig into your own energy body through the practice.

Perhaps the biggest and most profound piece of advise that yoga can give anyone who is having trouble dealing with these difficult times, is to anchor into the earth and your body. For example, take off your shoes and place your feet into the earth. Push the feet and legs down and root. Lengthen your spine upward as you root down, and pull the abdominal muscles gently inward. Start to feel the earth and feel your body. Then begin to take deep breaths. At first, breath down into the belly and expand it on the inhalations, then contract it on the exhalations. After some time rooting, you might be able to breath into the central channel of your body. This is an energy channel that lines up vertically from the crown of your head through you to the base of the spine. It also channels energy up from the earth and down from above. You can imagine breathing up from the earth, through your body, and out the crown of your head. Then exhale from above, down through your body and into the earth. There are more advanced techniques, but to learn some of those you should try to attend regular yoga classes with an experienced teacher. 

If you practice this technique often, you will start to shift your energy into more alignment with the natural frequencies on the planet and from the ever-expansive Universe. 

It is important to understand that yoga is not a practice of checking out from what is happening around you. When you learn how to really plug in, you plug in to the truth of all creation. Your intuition will heighten and your ability to understand increases. But the ancient yogis were certain to share that you have to begin by anchoring down, and that the real answers do not exist in our mind, where most of us spend most of our time. So this is a relearning and a rewiring, so to speak. But one that will certainly bring many benefits if you just give it a chance.

January is a perfect time to jump-start a yoga practice. Whether you are being challenging by these times or just like what you hear, please check out One Yoga & Wellness Center, located at 156 South Main Street in Hightstown, who has been teaching yoga for 19 years in the East Windsor area. May we all find a greater sense of peace – inner and outer peace – in 2019. Namaste (the light within me honors the light within you).