Saturday, June 1, 2019

Feeding Your Spirit

Neighbors of East Windsor Article:

Feeding Your Spirit

By Tracey L. Ulshafer

Many people have come to know the practice of yoga as a series of exercises. While the postures are a part of the yoga practice, they are not the whole or goal of this ancient art form.

Most yoga teachers agree that yoga is a science of self-realization. There are systematic steps that are taken and constantly worked upon in order to achieve this place. Ultimately, it is a spiritual method in which to encounter the Divine or God or Source energy. Of course this is different for each person, but the theory in the practice of yoga is that this Universal energy is not a separate concept of “person,” but rather an innate quality that resides within all living beings. And thusly, all beings are thought to be equal, since the essence of life travels no differently between a human and a plant or an animal. 

Although most people come to yoga for the physical application, it is not uncommon to suddenly find yourself transformed mentally, emotionally and spiritually by the practice. In today’s world we have an extreme extroverted focus – we tend to think of and hold true all things that are outside of our own self. All day long we worry about the work we have to do and the people we need to care for and what other people think or know about us, and what is going on in the world or in our country. While these are not “bad” things to care about, it should not be the only focus. In fact, we learn through yoga that when we focus so completely on the elements outside of ourselves, that we ultimate never truly find happiness or peace, because we lose connection with the primary energy that drives this happiness to begin with.

Once a person begins a yoga practice and starts to move the energy around in their body, it will be challenging. But eventually it becomes easier and easier. Soon, positions that you thought would be impossible are attained and you are able to sit or stand for longer periods of time without pain or discomfort. These physical changes are supportive of the thought that yoga is for the body. But another strange thing begins to happen once the body is feeling better: the energy is shifted and lifted. Soon, you have more vitality and zest for life. When this occurs you realize when something is not right for you. You feel how wrong a job may be or that a person in your life is not supporting you. And most importantly, you learn to love yourself more and find the necessity of feeding your own spirit.

What truly brings you joy may not be what you think at first. The former conditions or judgments that we put on people, places and things begin to fall away because we realize how superfluous they are to our own inner peace. 

After practicing yoga for about twenty-five years and teaching for nearly twenty, I recently had another realization that I had not been feeding my own spirit again. My journey to teach others how to heal themselves through this practice led me to focus outward again. Of course helping people and working in such a way is a wonderful thing that I do not regret. But forgetting to honor my own Divine nature, that was not good. For in the process of working tirelessly for others, I actually was not giving all that I could to that cause. I became tired, restless, and at times, even hopeless. As soon as I began to drive more energy back into my own yoga practice, things started to shift again, as if by magic. Suddenly I realized the true nature of this situation, and began to make the necessary changes that will not only bring more happiness for me and my life, but give me the energy and vitality in which to share that with others. So by feeding my own spirit through a renewed yoga practice, I therefore have the capability of helping others even better than I have been.

So yes, come to yoga for the physical benefits. But stay for the renewed spiritual energy that transforms your life.

One Yoga & Wellness Center is located at 156 South Main Street in Hightstown Borough. Tracey has been teaching in the greater East Windsor area since 2000 and welcomes any questions from new inquiring students. Our new student specials offer you a chance to immerse into a week or month of yoga to see just how transformative this practice can be for you. Check us out at or call (609) 918-0963. Start feeding your spirit today!

June's Newsletter: I SEE - 6th Chakra

The 6th Chakra is a favorite of yogis. Here is where we start to move from more of a known to an unknown. The "third-eye" is an interesting place - most say the seat of our intuition, and the place where we fix our gaze during meditation and asana practice in order to attain higher planes of enlightenment.

For many, this area may be blocked or unopened due to in-authentication of your own psychic abilities as a youngster, or due to a trauma in your development where, for self-preservation, you literally closed it off so that you would not see the truth of a situation.

It can be a little scary to move into this realm of the 6th chakra, but it can also be quite exhilarating. What are your dreams telling you? What is it that you are not seeing in your life? And what patterns can I see in my life? Here we go...opening up the third eye for June!

6th Chakra Basics:
Name: Ajna = to perceive or command
Location: Third Eye, Brow
Color: Indigo
Element: Light
Issues: Image, Intuition, Imagination, Visualization, Insight, Dreams, Vision
Mantra: OM
Physical Issues: Headaches, Vision problems, Neck pain/tension

Questions to Ask to see if this Chakra is in balance:
  1. Do I remember my dreams?
  2. Have I always had good vision?
  3. Can I look people in the eye when talking with them?
  4. Can I visualize alternatives to situations?
  5. Do I have good imaginative skills?
  6. Do I have good memory?
  7. Am I able to see all sides of an argument or situation?
  8. Do I suffer from nightmares?
  9. Have people told me that I am delusional?
  10. Do I tend to be obsessive?

Some things to do this month to work with this Chakra:
  1. Create Visual Art
  2. Meditate
  3. Expose yourself to natural light
  4. Use your imagination
  5. Fire gazing/Tratak
  6. Draw to communicate something
  7. Keep a dream journal
  8. Past life regression therapy and hypnosis

So what type of things should you practice for this Chakra?

Asanas - yoga eye exercises and paying particular attention to the gazing point or drishti in all postures, but particularly balancing postures where this becomes necessary.

Sequence - Slow and meditative. Work intuitively to what you need at the moment. Practice with the eyes closed and a drishti towards the third eye.

Breathing - Nadi Shodhana or Alternate Nostril Breathing. This is the point where two main energy channels meet and terminate. Performing this breath helps to align these energies and the hemispheres of the brain. 

Mantra - OM

Meditation - All meditations, but try to work with visualizations.

Any of the yoga classes at One Yoga Center will help you to connect or reconnect with your Chakras. 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 June...
I remember many years ago that a friend and I went to visit a past life reader in the woods of Massachusetts. There in her peaceful wooded property, she took us one at a time to an upstairs apartment for our readings. When it was my turn, she tried to take me deep into a meditative state, but my Gemini brain wouldn't have it. She guided me to look for a circular window and asked me what I saw. I truthfully told her that there was a black bird flying there. She jumped up, hurried for some water, and splashed it on my forehead telling me that my third eye was blocked. 
For years I thought that my third eye was blocked because of this. I told everyone that I could not see and that my intuition was nonexistent. 

Not true.

I still see black birds. Now they even proceed or follow me in real life. If you look up the spiritual meaning of ravens or blackbirds, guess what it is? Intuition, providing insights and unlocking mysteries. Unfortunately, some people equated black birds or crows with being a symbol of bad luck, and the idea stuck. I have come to understand it as something much bigger and deeper as they unlock secrets and bring to light the things that we want to keep in the shadows. Some people are scared of their intuition and I believe that I used to be too. I have learned to embrace mine and to honor it. I have found different ways of understanding my third eye visions because they are never what most people think of them. I've had to do a lot of self-seeking over the years to understand the truth when others have invalidated me. My gifts may not be made of rainbows and cupcakes, but they are truthful and, in the end, more noteworthy to me.

Seeing the truth for yourself is not easy. It is actually more easy to talk yourself out of the truth because you want to either fit in or have life be easier. Being able to see all sides of a situation is also a gift, I believe, that not everyone understands. Is it black or white? Is is shades of gray? Or is it all of that - and more? The later is what I have come to believe. And the more that I welcome seeing the truth, the more it reveals to me. 

Where can you start? Slow down and meditate. Take a sacred journey or vision quest. Stop listening to the "normal" people. Take a course in self-discovery to learn your patterns. Become the Three-eyed Raven!
In Love & Light,