Exploring the Eight Limb Path of Yoga: An Introduction

Exploring the Eight Limb Path of Yoga: An Introduction

By: Juliana Cole – Living Yogi, Yoga Instructor, Studio Manager at Yoga Heights   Hello again, Yoga Heights Yogi! First and foremost, thank you for reading! This is the first of a series of five posts that I will be writing exploring the Eight Limb Path of Yoga, so here we go!   Before we get started, it’s important to answer the very basic question: What is Yoga? Yoga means many things and presents itself in many ways. The beauty is that whatever you glean from the word yoga, you are right…and there is more of that! Most of us in the western world think of yoga as a physical practice, the Asana (poses). I think you would agree that in your practice of the Asana, you find a calming of the mind, or at least a reduction of stress. You hear your teacher talk about quieting the mind, focusing the breath and allowing your practice to be a moving meditation. That’s what I focus on when I practice the asana. If you come back to the mat, it is most likely because you have found that sensation of release from the stuff that clouds the mind on a daily basis…and you want more of that. Well, you are figuring out what yoga is all about. In a very basic and simple explanation, Yoga is the study of the mind.   Yoga has such a rich history, much of which was unwritten and only passed on through spoken word, and can be traced back almost 6,000 years. The codification of yoga, so to speak, came out in the Yoga...
Ahimsa & Compassion:  The golden rule of yoga

Ahimsa & Compassion: The golden rule of yoga

by Sadie Leigh Though many of us in the west come to yoga through the physical practice (myself included!), this deep and beautiful tradition goes far beyond the poses. According to the Yoga Sutras, there are eight steps towards attaining bliss, and asana (that’s the Sanskrit word for the poses) is actually the third step! So before you even unroll your mat, you can be practicing yoga through steps one and two, namely the Yamas and Niyamas. The wonderful Juliana will offer a more in depth look at the Yamas and Niyamas in next week’s post, but in brief, these two concepts outline the ethical principles of yoga. And the first of the Yamas is– you guessed it! Ahimsa.   Ahimsa, or nonviolence, being the very first part of the very first step in the practice of yoga is no mistake. My teacher Sri Dharma says that ahimsa is like the umbrella, it covers everything else on the yogic path, so practice compassion and everything else comes automatically. Practicing Ahimsa means practicing nonviolence in your physical actions, your verbal interactions, and even in your internal thoughts. And this approach, this unyielding dedication to compassion, applies to everyone you meet, including yourself. In a studio, or on your mat, this might look like greeting the folks around you as fellow humans as you enter the space. Not judging or comparing anyone in the room. And being very kind and compassionate with yourself as you move through the poses. Maybe you’re trying a new or challenging pose and can quite get it today. Oh well! Practicing Ahimsa with yourself in that...
Pose of the Month: Ustrasana – Camel Pose

Pose of the Month: Ustrasana – Camel Pose

  Ustra – Camel; Asana – Pose or seat By: Juliana Cole, Yoga Instructor & Studio Manager, Yoga Heights   Hello, Yoga Heights community! How are you feeling? As you read this post, are you sitting or standing or lying down? Is your spine long, or are your shoulders hunched, or are you currently in a gentle backbend? I invite you to take a moment and check in with your body right now and notice how it feels. What adjustments can you make to feel a little bit better, if any, in this moment? Ok, take a minute to shuffle around and get comfy because we’re going to talk about your spine, and your spine in Ustrasana (camel pose).   After reading this sentence, close your eyes, inhale deeply through the nose, hold it in, release the breath slowly out of your mouth, and then open your eyes. Go!   I am pretty sure the majority of you reading this blog did some version of a chest opener/mini-backbend in order to release some tension in the shoulders. Why? Because the majority of us hold our stress in our shoulders and find that throughout the day, the fronts of our shoulders gradually roll towards one another and closer to our ears. It is rare, even for short people like me (I’m barely 5’2”), to be encouraged to repeatedly look up, stretching the fronts of our necks, arching the head back and bringing the sternum (the breastbone) to point towards the sky. Then we go to yoga class and hear sighs of relief and crackling bones as we start to roll...
5 Reasons Every Woman Should Train in Self Defense

5 Reasons Every Woman Should Train in Self Defense

I wish I could say I was always a self confident, black boot wearing, boxing glove carrying, badass woman, but the truth is, that is far from the truth. I was extremely shy growing up.  I was always afraid and did not feel safe in the world. I remember in my early twenties having reoccurring nightmares about men breaking into my house at night and doing awful things to me. I would wake up terrified, my breath shallow, not able to go back to sleep. I even called the police once, because I swore someone was downstairs in our three story DC group home. There was no one there. In addition, I was a bleeding heart, who constantly put everyone else’s needs before my own in the name of compassion. It would be correct in saying, I suffered from the “need to be needed.”  If someone asked me what I wanted to do, my response would often be, “I don’t care, whatever you want.”  I unconsciously did not think my opinion was important enough to validate making decisions.  The “little girl” in me was tender, highly sensitive, and wept for the world.  These are beautiful qualities that I hope to always nurture. My vulnerability and gentleness created a bridge connecting to other peoples pain, but I was swallowed by my own suffering of how to set boundaries and traverse, a very real, harsh, not always nice world. Fast forward to today.  I am still often afraid, but I have a strong desire to move towards my fear, especially when it’s visceral.  I know this is good medicine and will...