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MY YOGA STORY OF TEACHER TRAINING

By Brooke Asbury

Embarking on on Yoga Teacher Training is, for me, like the feeling of going on a huge adventure by yourself. Like hittin’ the open road, singing out loud at the top of your lungs, with windows and heart open wide. Doing something for you. Having the courage to pursue a dream. Taking a risk. Making sacrifices for something you believe in. Liberation.

It’s true that not every minute of training feels this high, but I personally experience a flood of happy nostalgia when I think of mine. Some folks attend a teacher training at their home studio; others travel to India and spend time at an ashram, others travel to LA to spend 9 weeks in a hotel, practicing the 90-minute Bikram series twice daily and attending lectures the other 10 to 14 hours of the day. My teacher-training experience was also unique: I lived in Seattle and commuted to Nashville two weekends a month. Each of these weekends, I left my other life behind. Aboard the airplane, I began my “me” time. Of course, I had my homework with me – anatomy studies, required yoga readings, and the teaching dialogue but it was still time invested in myself because it was what I wanted, not what someone else wanted me to study, as had been the case the prior 32 years of my life. I would get all nestled in my window seat with my reading, a celebratory glass of wine, and a pre-packaged, airplane “cheese plate,” and give a cheers to the start of the adventure once again. As the plane took off, and I waved goodbye to my rainy SeattIe Space Needle, and watched the Pacific Northwest timbers disappear as we flew off to Tennessee.

By studying and immersing myself in the practice (7 classes a week required to be exact), I learned about yoga, the postures, and myself. The greatest gain was the lifelong friends I made during training. Of course, that’s just how Nashville is. You can’t go anywhere without meeting a genuinely friendly and helpful person. Because I had no place to stay in Nashville, I made friends from Day 1 who opened up their homes and lives and invited me right in.

My enrollment in yoga teacher training was the first classroom setting I’d been in since grad school, almost a decade prior. It wasn’t easy sitting still for several hours at a time, concentrating on lectures, taking notes. It wasn’t easy submitting to another adult. Having eight years of consistent practice at a prominent Bikram studio under my belt, I wasn’t too keen on taking liberal input from this new teacher. “Liberal” in the sense that she had a more open or sinuous interpretation of the original Bikram dialogue (watered down if you were to ask me, but nobody did ask me). She would literally take me out of my postures, tell me NOT to sit any lower in Awkward posture, tell me to come up out of Eagle, tell me to stay on the floor for the rest of class when I had simply laid down to take a break. I was outraged to say the least. Still, I stayed.

I’ll never forget the feeling as I fought the hot, stinging tears and trembling lip as I laid in a forced Savasana that day. I didn’t need her or her dumb certificate, I told myself. Well, maybe I didn’t but that certainly wasn’t the point. The lesson was the same one I learn every day that I come to the mat – to surrender, to stop fighting, to let go of anything not serving me. My anger and frustration would not serve me. Instead of fighting, I practiced yoga just like I do in my class – the quiet surrender to the heat, the discipline and dedication to show up every day, the perseverance to get up and start the posture again – every moment that we fall out, we give ourselves grace start again. My next move was not to head back to Seattle and teach her a lesson but to submit and surrender. We ended up forming a strong friendship, and I never held it against her that she made my Awkward posture less extreme than it could have been.

The truth is that you never know where someone else is coming from, and my job was to be a student. Period. Graduation time came as soon as the leaves changed and fell to the ground. It was a flurry of reciting dialogue, taking final exams and celebrating our victory of becoming yoga teachers. I flew home. There were no more trips to Nashville on my calendar. That realization was the moment I knew the adventure could not end there. I couldn’t go back to “normal” life after that. I knew that I had to teach and that I had to teach in Nashville.

What is learned or discovered during Teacher Training cannot always be anticipated. You may get what you came for but most likely, you’ll get a lot more than that. One thing’s for sure, your practice will never be the same again, and you probably won’t be either. It was an exciting time that I’ll never forget but the truth is, that the learning never stops and the story keeps unfolding

MY YOGA STORY – BROOKE ASBURY

How did I get here?

It was a rainy, grey morning, as usual come mid-November in Seattle. I was looking out the window from the warmth of my blanket cocoon on the couch, contemplating the 9-mile run I had planned for the morning. I was training for some-such marathon or half marathon, and I had just about reached the end of my self-motivation rope. My “no excuses” policy for my running schedule was just wanting to be broken so badly that morning. Meanwhile, my roommate Amber bounced down the hallway in her yoga gear. “Wanna come to Hot, Steamy Yoga?” She never called it just “Hot Yoga.” Always, “Hot, Steamy Yoga.” Well, the answer in my head was “No,” I had never once in my life even considered that hot yoga thing. It sounded like torture. I could torture myself with running but not heat. She then said, “My aunt did hot, steamy yoga for a month, and she had such a bangin’ bod afterwards. It burns like a thousand calories each class.” SOLD! She said the magic words. Burns calories… approximately equivalent to what I would have burned running 9 miles. It was settled, I would trade in my run for the hot, sweaty yoga class, avoid the rain, and come out even.

I don’t remember that much of the class. I don’t remember it being that difficult or even that hot. I remember the teacher. He was a gentle giant. Robert – salt and pepper hair, tiny spandex shorts and a hairy chest. I still take Robert’s class whenever I’m in Seattle. He has the kindest eyes, the calmest voice, and you just know that he wants you to be at ease – in his studio, in your body, in life. He always knows the new student’s name and always encourages them throughout their first class. Well, anyhow, I made it to final savasana. The heat didn’t do me in, and I didn’t feel that different after class but what left a strong impression on me was the teacher and the other students. I’ll never forget their unwavering focus for 90 minutes of energy and sweat, their forearm veins in final expression of Standing Forehead to Knee, their quiet reverence for the practice as they entered and exited the room. I thought about it later that day, and the day after that, and so on… I found myself back in that unique-smelling, carpeted room the following week. I just HAD to try it again. Maybe someday I could be like those other people.

Ten years later, it still has me. There is just nothing else like it. Like an old friend inviting you in for some tea and a chat. Nothing else like this series can transform my mind from chaos to calm in just 90 minutes. To change my outlook on a problem from frustration to patience. To broaden my perspective. To forgive someone. To see the answer I needed to find. I’ve said this before but I think that all of the important decisions in my life, I’ve made during a Bikram yoga class. Well, that or while running. Sure, my body has been transformed too. For the first year that I practiced, I could not bring my foot up any higher than my calf for tree pose. I can’t really even remember who I was, how I looked before this yoga but I think I can safely say that it has refined every bit of my being “inside out, bones to skin,” and especially my mind and heart.

My teachers at Bikram Yoga Seattle were a constant inspiration. Their practices – so elegant, their teaching – so brilliant, their presence – strong and calm. I wanted to be like them. I wanted to be one of them. If I was lucky enough to get to the studio early and have their attention before other students showed up, I would ask them about their Teacher Training. One of them said, “After training, I felt like I could do anything.” I was inspired. Maybe a bit covetous to have that feeling. I would go to the internet and explore the Bikram website and dream of applying for the training. It didn’t seem feasible though. When would I fit it in? How could I afford it? I couldn’t leave my boyfriend for 2 months. Ridiculous thoughts like that.

Well, a boyfriend less later, and a Christmas bonus richer, I found myself applying to a teacher training. It wasn’t the Bikram training that I’d always wanted to do, but it happened to be in this place, Nashville, which I had an irrational dream of moving to.

The training was uneventfully completed (I kept it a secret from my work so there was no announcing of things on Facebook during that time), and I had been slowly dreaming up the idea to open a studio in East Nashville. Though it made no sense to leave a perfectly great life in Seattle, a friend one day told me, “If anyone can do it, you can.” I knew it was true. My yoga had taught me that already. So, here I am.

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    TUNING OUT THE NOISE – MINDFULNESS IN A SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD

TUNING OUT THE NOISE – MINDFULNESS IN A SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD

By Bradley S. Handley

Admit it. You’re addicted. It started innocently enough. Maybe just once at dinner. Sometimes twice, depending on company. Then you lost control. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat. It never really mattered, as long as it kept you busy. Even for that extra 30 second wait behind some philistine who somehow had never been to 5 Points Pizza.

I’ll come clean, I’m addicted too. Probably worse than you and have been for a long time. Back in my day, you used to actually open the app to figure out what’s going on. Unthinkable, I realize. Nowadays, apps come to you with whatever trivial minutiae their people think you’ll want to hear about. And we eat it up.

Last week, Mark Zuckerberg announced that, for the first time ever, one billion people used Facebook in a single day. That is to say that about 14% of the world’s population checked in to ol Zuck’s website to do whatever people do on Facebook (in my case, posting a picture of me and my goofy dog on National Dog Day. See above).

In these weird, connected times, we have allowed ourselves to become grossly enamoured in the things happening to other people and wanting those same people to think that interesting things are happening to us. We have forgotten how to enjoy who and what is happening around us. Many of us even routinely endanger ourselves and those around us by using our phones while driving.

I tried a few things to cure myself. I put my phone on silent, and turned off most app notifications. I even locked the infernal distractor in my desk drawer at work. I would relapse, again and again.

A careful perusal of the Yoga Etiquette portion of this website will reveal a crucial element to my ongoing rehabilitation. Specifically, I’m referring to the section that reads, “Do not bring personal items (such as cell phones, purses, keys) into the yoga room other than your mat, towel, and water bottle.” This notion was honestly off-putting to me at first blush. What if work called? What if mom got in an accident? What if a million other things happened that I couldn’t be aware of and respond to at that very moment?

It’s silly, I know, but for the first time since the advent of the smartphone, I was disallowed to bring my digital companion along with me. This separation was a lot different than locking it away in my desk. It is the difference between a mandatory and voluntary surrender.

My digital disconnection, however, has only been the beginning. In yoga, we are taught to not think about our performance in past postures, and to not worry about postures that are forthcoming. This was a difficult proposition and did not come naturally. In addition to those concerns, my brain also enjoys reminding me of everything worrisome in my life.

The trouble is, these things all distract you from concentrating on your breathing. Your breath quickly becomes the most important factor in your practice, and can mean the difference between staying on your feet for the entire session and feeling amazing or spending most of your time in the floor and being miserable.

Once I discovered how to let these unhelpful thoughts fall away, my practice instantly improved. Sure, the occasional looming work deadline or other personal matter sometimes force their way through, but the more I attend class, the better I become at ignoring them.

This focus has begun to trickle into other parts of my life as well. I am able to concentrate at work for longer periods without feeling the need to check whatever phone jiggle or alert is constantly vying for my attention. I have also started turning my phone face-down in social situations (which handily ignores all notifications), allowing me to give my full attention.

It’s an ongoing process, and I still need a lot of work, but the focus I have gained from my practice at Hot Yoga of East Nashville has been amazing and I’m excited to see what other surprising benefits are just around the corner.

By |September 16th, 2015|Uncategorized|1 Comment

MINDFULNESS IN TEACHING

by Brooke Asbury

As teachers of yoga, we have a great responsibility to the lineage, our teachers, our students, and to ourselves. We can never stop learning. We are stewards of a gift, a key that unlocks a treasure much greater than burning calories, gaining flexibility, or posing. Somewhere along our way, in the middle of a yoga class or at the end, in savasana, we developed a fire. We had such a passion for our yoga practice, our lives were so tangibly changed by it, that we wanted to share this experience. So we practiced, studied and gained enough knowledge to teach it to others – a set of physical postures, a breath technique or two, a discipline, a headspace, a body awareness, a worldview. Someone created a space – a yoga studio – and now we show up. To continue our journey and to show this journey to others. Therefore, our studentship is our impact. It was our beginning, it is our present, and it is our future.

The important point here is that we teachers are moving too. We are still growing, still learning, still practicing as students. This yoga journey eventually pervades all areas of our lives, as we become calmer under stress, unwavering when bombarded by distractions, and fiercely determined in the face of obstacles. But at the start (and every day we start again), we just show up. We simply come to our mat and breathe, and move through the postures. Teachers and students together. This is what a yoga community means to us.

It may be our names listed as the teachers for classes, but classes never belong to us. They belong to our students. The yoga studio is not a community without active involvement of both students and teachers. We teachers cannot make it a “good class” without the energy of the students. Likewise, the students will not feel a teacher is present and a part of the same body if the teacher is not also a student. Both students and teachers, alike, inspire one another. Whether it is the day a new student struggles through their first class, or the moment a devoted student conquers that one pose they have been trying to master, they are an inspiration to their teachers, and they make our job worthwhile. The ways they see their life change outside of the classroom is the true reason we do what we do. As teachers, whether we are demonstrating a beautiful dancer’s pose, an intimidating inversion or rather simply resting in child’s pose when we are on our mats, we are an inspiration to students of both the potential for the body and also the foundation of humility and surrender. It is also when we teachers return to our mats, stay through the heat and struggle, are brought to tears again during our camel posture, imagine the cool air on the other side of that door, and then make it through once again, that we remember the real challenge. We sympathize with the day-to-day struggles and breakthroughs on the journey because we were there on our mats, in the exact same place, not last month or last year but just yesterday.

It is very simple. If we are not on the path with our students, why should they listen to our words or follow our light? Why should we listen to, or trust ourselves to show a light we are not using?

So our commitment to this community, as teachers at Hot Yoga of East Nashville, is to be students. To be in the room with our students. To never stop practicing. To be curious. To be inspired. To be a part of the body, moving together. Walking together. Growing together.

By |September 3rd, 2015|Uncategorized|0 Comments

SUMMER SOLSTICE + MINDFUL LIVING

by Sarah Norris

The summer solstice is the day of the year when the sun shines on us longer than any other. It’s the ripest time to come together and celebrate our lives and honor our intentions with 108 sun salutations. The number 108 has so much significance, and here are a few reasons why:

108 connects the sun, moon and earth as the average distance of the sun and moon to earth is 108 times their respective diameters.

108 is the number of beads on a Catholic rosary.

108 is the number of beads on a Tibetan mala (prayer beads, analogous to a rosary).
108 is twice the number 54, which is the number of letters in the Sanskrit alphabet, one set masculine (shiva) and one set feminine (shakti).

108 is twelve times the number 9, which is the number of movements linked to breath in a sun salutation.

Last June during the solstice, I was away in Virginia for a month of tantric yoga training, living in a house of eight women. We did a ton of work on ourselves in order to get clear about what we really want. The most surprising part of this was seeing that, mostly, what happens when we’re asked about what we want most of all in the world, is we get really…angry. People get defensive and upset when asked about their dreams. That sounds crazy, right? But doesn’t that make total sense? That question brings us right up against all the things we’re doing INSTEAD of manifesting our dreams, or, what we do that are exactly counter to that fulfillment.

So, for this month of training last summer, the eight of us lived in a pressure cooker in which we got clarity about what we want, our heart’s desire.

We were forced to look at the ways in which we weren’t supporting that, often by telling ourselves we don’t have time. To that end, we had to list ways we waste time:

Complaining

Gossip

Social media

Talking about the past

Worrying about the future

Then we had to choose one thing on our list that we were really and truly ready to give up in order to make room and have energy to invest in what we most want, so that it could become like a happy, chubby, juicy baby. In this way we would have to stop telling ourselves the story that we don’t have time for what’s most important to us. Because we would carving out the space now, deliberately. We did this, ultimately, with an incredible fire ceremony. One by one, we had to throw into the fire what we were giving up.

Into this fire, I threw “talking about my past relationships.” With love, with compassion, with gratitude, I set free the men I had loved or was hung up on in some way. It was a moment of reckoning for me. I was sabotaging the fulfillment of my dreams by focusing on relationships that no longer existed. My teacher and I talked about it, and she warned me, “Once you give them up and give up the energy you give them still, they will come into your life full force. Be prepared to hear from your past loves, names on this list and then the men who you’re not even aware now that you’re still carrying around with you in some way. They won’t know why they find themselves suddenly wanting to reach out to you. It will be because you’ve cut the cords and set them free. And this liberation has to come form a pure, pure place within you. You cannot do this if what you actually want is to be together with one of them and are hoping in some way that by going through the motions of setting them free, they’ll come back to you.”

We talked especially that last part, about how if, for some reason, I were to end up in love and together with someone from my past, it could only happen after I did this clearing out and my intentions were clean and open. I was fresh out of a three-year relationship, and this untangling was taking up a lot of my heart and my life. Setting us free from each other, I knew, was a necessary thing. Letting go of trying to protect him from himself, letting go of feeling his feelings, of taking his issues on as my own because I’d felt I needed to. Letting him go in order to save myself and live in the present. I prayed over this list, I meditated on it, I danced with these ghosts — literally danced, like a wild woman — and I laughed and cried and wrote in my journal and felt all of the feelings: joy, love, private moments shared between two people that I was leaving behind.

When I’d looked at first at my list of time vampires, this was the one I felt the most resistance about. It played itself out as an internal conversation: “Sarah, are you willing to give up complaining in order to live the life of your dreams?” And the answer, immediately: Yes, yes, of course. That’s how I felt about the others on my list, mostly, except for this one. “Sarah, are you willing to give up your past loves in order to make space for what you most want in your life now?” The answer, more slowly: “Ehhhh do I have to?” I didn’t want to, not really at all, at first. But the more I considered it, the more obvious it became that I had to. So I said goodbye to these men, from my heart. I prayed for the men I had loved and, one by one, I let go of residual attachment I had to living in the past. To living in the past, period, and to talking about it.

My teacher said, “Sarah, get ready. Now they come.” As if these exes would pop up be like a game of Whack-a-Mole, to test my resolve. I thought she was out of her mind, saying this because why would guys I’d not talked to in years — years — get in touch now? You can guess what happened, right? That very afternoon, I got an email from the boy I dated my junior year of high school. And the next day I heard from my an ex in Connecticut, with whom I’d not talked in more than three years. And it was like this for a few months. Or, rather, I should say it’s been like this for a year. I’ve been doing nothing differently and I can’t think of any other explanation but I’ve been hearing from my past.

For the most part, I have stayed the course. The test has been not to go searching for my future by digging through my past and recycling. The result of consciously liberating something that’s taking me away from my dreams is space and energy and time to invest in my own well-being and spirits. It’s alchemy: turning one thing into another. The tradition of practicing 108 sun salutations together is so powerful in this capacity because we connect to our respective purposes and close the distance between where we are and what we want. The extent to which we feel and believe our dreams are coming true IS the extent to which they are coming true. That’s what this practice is about. An invocation of honest mindful living. Embodied joy and space making.

A LETTER FROM YOUR TEACHER

By Sarah Grace, Bikram Yoga Seattle

Summer is stretching ahead of us, but for me, the HYEN Hot Yoga Teacher Training is getting close, and I am excited, eager and ready. I already know that teacher training in Nashville this fall is going to be an awesome experience. After spending time in Nashville at HYEN a year ago, with its warm, friendly, and dedicated group of teachers and students, I can’t wait to come back and help launch the first-ever HYEN Hot Yoga Teacher Training. And I am truly honored to have the opportunity! This has come from a slow evolution, a gathering of experience and education. Some years back I started teaching not only yoga classes, but some workshops and private lessons. Eventually I was invited to teach workshops for teachers, and a section of a teacher training at a Seattle studio. This last winter, I created and taught (with the help of a dedicated team of experienced teachers) a teacher training program at my home studio, Bikram Yoga Seattle. It was successful (our trainees are now real teachers!) we all learned a lot, and it was fun. And I think I know why:

I love to teach yoga, and it becomes really extra special in the context of working with other yoga teachers, or teachers-to-be. We are united in a special love for yoga and our quest for greater understanding of it. When are there other opportunities to truly geek out, for lack of a better word, about a practice, a process, a way of being that so utterly changes our lives, pulls us into its depth and immensity? There are so many ways to approach this huge body of knowledge, but at the end of the day, we all approach it in the same fundamental way – through our practice: on the mat, in our poses, seated, with the breath. With dedication and humility, with effort and awe. Through practice we study yoga, and through practice we start to understand that really what we are studying is ourselves. Through practice we learn about ourselves, we are better able to connect with others, and be at ease in the world. This incredible gift comes straight from practice. I love to teach because I get to witness this process again and again in my students and in myself.

Why else is teaching so satisfying? I get to listen and observe. I now understand that teaching is is not about me (what a relief). There is exciting, tangible fulfillment when students have a moment of understanding, whether about a pose, a philosophical point, a specific anatomy question. Teaching is creative, and requires total focus, concentration and energy in order to be effective. And back to the root of it all – I get to see students connect with their true selves and in so doing become more at ease in the world. With ease comes laughter, love, fun, and a greater sense of curiosity. There is nothing better!

I am really looking forward to the HYEN Hot Yoga Teacher Training. It will be a unique process that will allow our hearts and minds to grow bigger as we learn together, knowing it is all in service of our students.   See y’all soon!

 

 

 

 

MINDFUL EATING – A MINIMALIST PERSPECTIVE

By Josh Garcia

Over the past 18 months, I have actively pursued a healthier weight through more mindful eating. The journey has not been without its setbacks, but I nevertheless derive great satisfaction from reflecting on how far I have come. I regularly receive compliments on my forty pound weight loss, but for me the truest satisfaction lies in the changes I have observed in my relationship to food.

The works of Deepak Chopra, Marianne Williamson, Gabrielle Bernstein and many others have guided me toward an approach to eating that centers on food’s value as a fuel and nutrient source. This description may seem bland, but it is in reality quite the opposite. When prepared and consumed mindfully, a meal can become a beautiful and exciting act of self care. As I have moved along the path of mindfulness, gradually transforming eating into a studied act of love, all other dietary factors have naturally fallen into place. The internet is replete with healthy recipes and weight loss meal plans, but I have learned that none of this knowledge could have an effect on me until I accepted a simple truth: my issues with food were emotional issues, and thus had to be resolved on an emotional level.

The process of unpacking and releasing my emotional attachments to food has been long, but rewarding. It has involved a great deal of self study and patience as new habits began to form. If you are seeking to develop a healthier relationship with food, take comfort in the knowledge that many of the specifics will sort themselves out after you get your emotional house in order. There is no need to rush out and immediately buy a new diet book or health shake: the tools and teachers you need will appear when you are ready for them.

Begin simply by planting the seeds of mindful eating within your psyche.  With time, they will grow. Know that no specific action is required on the physical plane; your practice of conscious eating will yield deep, sustainable, and tangible changes in its own time. Slowly, the seeds of mindfulness will grow and transform your life. You cannot resist this gradual, seismic shift toward your best self, not even if you wanted to.

Each time you prepare to eat, ask yourself one or all of the following three questions. Then take three normal breaths and allow mindful eating to run its course.

“Am I hungry right now?” Isn’t it amazing that such a simple question can cut to the core of compulsive eating? 

“What am I hungry for?” Hungry for love? Success? Peace of mind? Food can only eliminate physical hunger. Sit with this knowledge for a moment. 

“Why have I chosen this food?” It isn’t a sin to choose food because of taste, convenience, or even emotional reasons like nostalgia. Remember that the goal is not to berate yourself for making “bad” choices. Your aim is simply to understand your thoughts and the decisions you make. 

I would conclude by reminding anyone interested in this journey that mindful eating is a practice, not a destination. There will be times when your focus on healthy portions and nutrition is impeccable and borderline monastic. There will be times when you find yourself eating robotically and blank eyed while driving down the highway. As with a dedicated yoga practice, the only goal is to continue showing up, day after day. Surrender your attachment to outcomes, so that the vibrant, perfect, present moment may (at long last) arrive.

SPRINGTIME JUICE CLEANSE

We are well into spring, and by now, we may have done some Spring Cleaning in our spaces. Maybe our closets, our garages, our offices, our cars…. but what about our bodies? Does our body need a spring cleaning too? Why clean from within? There are many reasons to clear out the cobwebs in our bodies – a desire to have more energy, to increase vitality, to access and maintain a heightened clarity of mind, to realign with our internal guidance systems, and to examine our food-body-mind relationship. Not only does a cleanse help us bring into focus our relationship with food but it helps us to break away from cycles of dependency on, or addiction to certain foods that may only give us a temporary high rather than a sustained energy level. A good cleanse is designed to provide plenty of nourishment but we consume it in a different form than we may be used to – the form of juice or smoothies composed of raw, natural, fibrous whole foods. While the juiced food will provide all the calories we need, the respite from chewing on food (food that makes us very comfortable) for an entire three days will be a significant challenge. We will feel uncomfortable at times. We will start to notice that our instincts (the itch we can’t scratch) towards snacking and chewing may simply a withdrawal symptom of not giving our bodies the sugar/carb highs it’s used to, or that we have temporarily lost this crutch, this activity of eating to pass the time or mask some other feeling that we don’t want to sit with. This temporary discomfort will be an amazing tool to help us to be more mindful of when and why we go to food and will help us, after the cleanse, to view food with new eyes – as nourishment, a good and enjoyable part of life and not a source of escape and potential guilt.

In addition to breaking the cycle of mentally and physically craving foods that are not sustaining, these three days of cleansing can do even more to boost our health and energy! The three day cleans allows the stomach and digestive tract to rest, allowing it to Re-equilibrate and find balance in the microbiome (flora and fauna balance) an acidity levels of the gut. The liver is also allowed to rest and finally release the toxins it has not been able to pass if overloaded with the toxins from the food of the average American diet. In three days, you will find your appetite reduced – that you find yourself satiated with less food than usual. This provides the psychological boost to help change habits for the long term.

There are so many good mental habits gained through the cleanse and likewise, poor habits broken. When we have a prescribed cleanse to follow, we do not have to waste our energy worrying or thinking about what the next meal will be. We break the habit of an unhealthy focus on food. It’s wonderful to enjoy good food, and this cleanse will help us do that all the more but nobody wants to be a slave to eating – thinking about it all the time. This way, we don’t have to, at least not for 3 days.

The cleanse will temporarily eliminate foods that take away our energy, cause inflammation or other harms to our body, such as dairy, wheat, gluten, alcohol and coffee. Instead, we will flood our bodies with all of the vitamins and minerals it needs, as well as the amazing phytonutrients that are the workhorses for our clean-up and healing process. Juices are by nature raw foods — and retain nutrients that would be lost in cooking, including some B vitamins and especially (digestive and anti-inflammatory) enzymes. We may even lighten our load a bit with a few pounds lost along the way, providing the jump start we may need to a longer diet plan and/or clean eating lifestyle. With more energy from these whole, raw foods, more hydration (from the extra water and elimination of coffee and alcohol), we will feel like superman or woman in no time. Wake up and spring out of bed? What?!

Finally, the three days of cleansing and flooding the body with anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatories will allow maximum detoxification and restoration of our cells. The average American body carries 147 industrial chemicals in its bloodstream. This cleanse will help to remove the toxins that have accumulated in our bodies and allow our cells to function optimally – without the constant battle they face against free radicals and inflammation.

Get ready! We plan to start the cleanse on Sunday, May 3rd! The plan is this – it is up to you if you would like to do a 100% Juice Cleanse, drinking only organic, raw pressed juices or if you would like mix in homemade smoothies and raw, pureed soups. For ease and convenience, we are pairing with Juice Nashville, who will provide a 3-day cleanse packet including 5 juices per day, delivered in a refrigerated tote that you can keep. The package is offered at a discounted rate of $100. If you would like to make your own juices or supplement with smoothies or raw, blended soups, simply choose from some of the recipes we will be posting in the next few days. One person might drink the 5 juices per day and feel amazing. The next person might blend up a smoothie for breakfast, drink juices for lunch and snacks, and have a blended raw soup for dinner. This is a plan that you can adapt to your lifestyle and still receive all of the intended benefits. Just remember, no chewing. :)

While on the cleanse, drink as much water as you feel like or need, but be sure to consume at least 1½ liters throughout the day. Always begin the day with warm water with lemon, as this will assist in flushing your digestive system, preparing your stomach for food by increasing stomach acid, and alkalizing your entire system. Herbal teas are a great alternative to coffee, and you can choose ones that are particularly detoxifying, such as burdock, cleavers, chickweed, yarrow, nettle and plantain.

 

RECIPES COMING SOON! STAY TUNED!!

TEACHER TRAINING 2015

Taking a quick detour from Mindful Living to introduce the 2015 Hot Yoga Teacher Training at HYEN! I am beyond excited to host my teachers from Bikram Yoga Seattle, who will be leading an exceptional training in the “Hot 26” – Bikram-style yoga. By “my teachers,” I mean these are my O.G.’s, my  yoga instructors, my influences, my inspirations, my gurus if I were to have a guru. I look up to them and consider them the best teachers I have ever practiced under, and they want to come HERE to teach YOU! I am confident that this training will completely change the lives of anyone who attends, as my training did me and as this yoga did 10 years ago in my life. With over 50 years of combined experience, Kevin and Sarah will be bringing a wealth wisdom and technical knowledge. Their unique personalities, their deep care for their students, and their passion for this practice will no doubt inspire each of us in our practice our teaching. I am excited to sit with them and learn. Just soak in everything. I personally plan to attend every hour of the training and feel so fortunate to have this opportunity. They are excited too! Registration is beginning now. It will be 5 weekends in late Sept through early November (every other weekend). Just Saturday and Sunday. The cost is $3,000 for early registration or $3,300 after June 15th. More below:

Hot Yoga of East Nashville Hot 26 Teacher Training 2015: September 19 – November 15 (every other weekend)

The Instructors:

Kevin Cooke

Kevin began practicing yoga in 1978.  In 1980, he met Margaret Iris, one of the very first Bikram method yoga teachers in the United States.  Margaret ran Bikram Choudhury’s San Francisco studio from 1975-1979, prior to moving to Ashland, Oregon to start her own studio.  Kevin practiced for seven years under Margaret’s instruction; and began teaching for her in 1984 and by 1986 was running the Ashland studio.  Kevin attended the very first teacher training led by Bikram Choudhury in 1997. Thirty-five years after meeting Margaret, Kevin credits her for giving him the foundation and inspiration for his practice.  Kevin, in turn, has inspired and continues to inspire countless students attending classes at his Seattle studio – the first and longest-running hot yoga studio in Seattle and all of Washington.  His tremendous energy, experience, wisdom and humor both inside and outside of the yoga room have made him a beloved teacher to many.

Sarah Grace

Sarah has spent over 15 years practicing and studying yoga in the Bikram method and beyond.  She began a frequent, dedicated practice in 2000 at Kevin Cooke’s Seattle studio, and began teaching there in 2003, after completing Bikram Choudhury’s 500 hour teacher training at his Los Angeles headquarters.  In 2013, Sarah sought additional training and education and completed the 200 hour teacher training at the Samarya Center for Ashtanga Yoga and Integrated Movement Therapy, with a special emphasis in anatomy and yoga therapy.  She continues to teach both Bikram method and Vinyasa style yoga and is currently studying Ashtanga yoga under Troy Lucero in Seattle.  After 15 years and counting, Sarah continues to be amazed and inspired by the natural intelligence, insight and sense of connection revealed by a consistent yoga practice.  She seeks to draw forth these qualities in students of every age, experience level and ability with her skillful, patient and thoughtful teaching style.

The Training:

The HYEN Hot 26 Teacher Training is an opportunity for you to acquire the necessary foundation, knowledge and skills to teach a Hot 26 hatha yoga class to all levels of practitioner.  The training includes discussion and practice of teaching techniques related to classic hatha yoga postures and breathing exercises, a specialized look at both gross anatomy and energy anatomy, an introduction to yoga philosophy, development of skillful speech and voice communications and instruction of modification of poses for special needs.  The course is designed with two goals in mind: giving you the skills to become a confident, effective teacher in any setting, and supporting the continued development of your personal practice.

It is recommended that applicants have a minimum of one year of hatha yoga practice experience; exceptions may be made on an individual basis with consideration of unique experience and a written recommendation from the owner/director of your home studio.

As a trainee, you can expect:

-Detailed discussion of each posture and how to teach it – proper technique, breathing, and sequencing of instructions

-Instructions in learning to “see” your students – proper alignment, adjustments and appropriate modifications

-Anatomy and physiology related to the postures

-An introduction to yoga philosophy (the 8 Limbs) & energy anatomy (the chakras)

-A thorough discussion and understanding of teacher ethics and responsibilities

-Instruction on developing effect speech and voice communication

What will be expected of you:

-Be on time and prepared to actively participate in all training sessions.

-Class will be held Sept 19&20, Oct 3&4, Oct 17&18, Oct 31&Nov 1, Nov 13&14. Saturdays will be 8 am to 9 pm and Sundays will be 8 am to 6 pm.

-Read 3 assigned books

-Practice 7x/week at HYEN (6 weekday classes, and mandatory attendance in the 8am Saturday class)

-Demonstrate thorough understanding of all material, including any homework assignments and assigned outside reading.

Cost:

$3,300 for registration after June 15th.

$3,000 early bird registration between April 15th and June 15th.

KEEPING OUR EYE ON THE PRIZE

It’s March. It’s actually three-quarters of the way into March, which means it’s over one-quarter of the way into 2015. Yikes! And also, slow down! But time never listens. He just keeps on tickin’ at the same speed day in and day out. As always, it is me who needs to slow down. Every so often – perhaps on days with which I find some extra moments of stillness to think – I think about my goals, take a brief inventory of my progress and, hopefully, refocus. Sometimes and for some goals, I’m pretty much on track. I get to pat myself on the back and just ride the momentum onward to the top of the mountain. Other times, with respect to other goals, I am shocked to notice where I am in comparison to where I intended to go.

Some goals send me clear signals to let me know when I am on or off track. Immediate gratification when I am practicing moderation in eating and drinking by the reward of energetic mornings, a happy attitude toward my wardrobe, and a fresh face to greet the day with. Or in contrast, when I am not practicing moderation or remembering my goals, I receive that swift kick in the butt, which comes in the form of ill-fitting jeans, indigestion, and the guilty memory of fried foods in the wee hours. It may not be fun, but it is simpleenough to observe these consequences, refocus and do better the next day. In other words, I don’t let myself get off track for too long because honestly, I wouldn’t have anything to wear, and that would be a real problem. Though I stray here or there and would like to find more balance, I can at least return to my intentions in a relatively short amount of time.

It is those other goals that are more lofty or idealistic, which tend to have more subtle consequence-signals to remind me that I am getting off track. Being kind to strangers, living authentically, speaking from the heart, leading by example. You know, those little ole things. Those goals can be up in the sky and I don’t look up to see them and remember them very often. Days and weeks go by that I haven’t consciously been any kinder to the strangers I’ve encountered than that State Clerk was to me when I was waiting in line at the DMV for a new driver’s license. Getting caught up in the hustle and bustle at work, the mundane annoyances and the running of errands, I forget to lead by an example of openness and selflessness. Instead, I become short and snappy with an attitude of “figure it out for yourself.”

And then this one here . . . I was specifically instructed by my 97-year-old grandmother this last July that I am to “wait for the very best one.” She’s not worried that I’m in my 30’s and not married. She says it’s just as well, as it can take a good long while to find the very best one. Her words touched me deeply at the time and have ever since then when I stop to remember them. But how often do I look at the dating landscape with my grandma glasses on? Are the ones I am considering around me the “very best ones” by my grandma’s standards. Not even close. Not yet anyway. But I can get very far from the path to the very best one as I walk the roads of Nashville and make justifications for many of the candidates I see, or use my imagination to dream up how great they could be if I were to change them. I don’t think that’s what my grandma meant by waiting for the very best one. I think she meant WAIT. Until the best one comes along. Not attempt to change a mediocre one into a good one.

So again, how do I stay on track? How do I keep my eye on the prize? How do I remember the things I want and take the steps to get them or be ready for them when they come to me? Per usual, mindfulness stands out as a practice that could greatly help. Living with intention in every little thing. I can hear my dad as he used to lecture us kids when we’d gotten into trouble, “you’ve got to THINK before you DO.” It’s easy to go with the flow and do what all the other kids are doing, even when it is obviously leading to nowhere good. It’s harder to blaze your own trail. Sometimes mindfulness and living intentionally require us to stick to our own path, however long and hilly and solitary it may be. It also requires faith. We have to believe in our dreams with all of our might and have faith that our path will lead to the treasure, providing a beautiful journey along the way.

At the same time, part of that journey is the lesson of perseverance – getting back up when we fall. Not wallowing in our failures or being waylaid by some hurdle that comes along. Instead, when the difficulties come, we learn resiliency. I have to learn this lesson over and over again. I get better at it but I still have more practice ahead of me. In my yoga posture, when I fall out, I learn not to waste energy moping about the fact that it wasn’t as good as yesterday. I get back into it and make the most of the rest of the time I have to practice it that day. When I fall off my course, I must give myself grace, learn a lesson, and waste no time in getting back to living full-heartedly and giving my all to whatever it is I am doing.

In all this talk of keeping my eye on the prize and sometimes loosing sight of that prize, it may seem that all I do is criticize myself. But that is not my purpose. Self- reflection and critique is simply an expression of faith in ourselves – that we can become all of what we were made to be. An acknowledgement that the work in us is not yet finished and that our imperfections can be viewed through courageous eyes that aren’t afraid to see things as they are and believe in what can be.

I want to end with a short story. A story about balance and enjoying life. A girlfriend and I set out the other night to take a walk in the nice weather and maybe treat ourselves to a little something along the way. We walked and walked and talked and laughed as girls often do. We shared stories of growing up and teenage years and memories of family and friends. We talked about the people in our present lives and what they were going through and how we desired to be there for them. We stopped for some refreshments in the forms of hummus, pita, chips, and beers. We walked some more and stopped for a final treat. It was going to be just a coffee but some muffins in the display case looked so good, we had to try them. We shared a couple of muffins (we had to try both kinds). Something we don’t normally do in our anti-carb society. We laughed more and talked about all the things we love eating (like cereal and pad thai and Mitchell’s Deli sandwiches) …. like girls often do. The muffin was glorious, and the company was even better. We may not have planned to eat amuffin that day but you can’t plan everything. Women have been eating muffins together for hundreds of years, and there’s no reason we should stop now. It was, in actuality, a night of mindfulness as we thoroughly enjoyed every moment of being alive. “Intentions” came up more sporadically (less like planned intentions and more like “why nots?”) but we allowed them in. We talked about the past, we lived in the moment, and we created memories for the future. Mindful living in practice. Grace and flexibility with our intentions. Balance and authentic living.