The Yamas - Aparigraha

Aparigraha - Letting Go

If you've been following along, you know that yoga is more than just asanas (postures) and meditation practices.  The practice of yoga is to "yoke" the mind, body, and spirit to help us be fully connected with ourselves on every level of our existence.  The first limb of a yoga practice is called the yamas, which are the social observances we can practice to help bring ourselves to a more aware, balances, and whole state of being. 

The final practice in the yamas is Aparigraha, the practice of non-possession or attachment in the material, physical, emotional, and spiritual world.  There are many discussions on how to interpret or practice aparigraha including those who renounce all material and social ties to those who possess plenty material items and relationships but do not define themselves by said connections.  The key to understanding aparigraha is to look at how you feel if all of your connections and belongings were to disappear.  Would you remain yourself? Would you feel lost or destroyed? Would you feel free?

Practicing aparigraha would leave you remaining whole, yourself, content at the root of it all as having people, things, and beliefs are all added blissful enjoyments and experiences.  Even if they last for a lifetime, we are not truly defined by these connections and enjoyments.  We are only defined by ourselves, our connection to our inner world, and to whatever our truth may be at any given moment and set of circumstances.  Even with that, we are consistently changing with the food we eat, the air we breathe, the ideas and experiences we have, and the overall disposition we take. 

Yoga Philosophy Fort Collins

In the tantric philosophy life is to be experienced, lived, and enjoyed with a sense of peace and continual bliss or ecstasy, which equates to being content amongst all of life's changes.  It is my belief and understanding that we must learn to thoroughly enjoy and appreciate what is in the moment, instead of our ideas of what may be.  These ideas of what may or should be are attachment. These judgments or expectations are ones that can detract from our joy and conscious experience. 

Living an unattached life allows you to remain whole within yourself without losing yourself in any person, place, thing, idea, or belief. It helps you feel free,  unhindered, and purely yourself in the most non-dual way we can experience ourselves. 

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • How do you truly define yourself? Is this mutable? Is this a rigid idea?
  • What attachments do you have?
  • Do you spend most of your time focusing on the past, the present, or the future? 
  • What things do you consider “yours” and are they truly yours?
  • How do you view nature and her resources?
  • Are you attached to a particular experience or idea of what your spiritual path may look like?
  • Do you donate, give away, pay-it forward, or volunteer your time, belongings, energy, money? 
  • What emotions continually surround you? Do these move or are they steady in your life?

The art of un-attachment is not an easy practice, but vital for a sense of self, wholeness, and personal happiness.

As Buddha puts it "You only lose what you cling to." If we don't cling, and merely begin to appreciate the experiences and people in our lives past, present, and future we can remain whole and undefined by external circumstances.

It's my hope that this article can help you become a little less attached, a little more aware, and a lot more at peace.  We are in an ever changing wonderful existence. Allow your intentions and surroundings to guide you, not define you.  Appreciate what is, what was, and what may come in the moments they occur. Allow yourself to be yourself, a beautiful imprint on the energetic puzzle we call life. 

Missed the other Yamas?  Check them out here:

Have questions or need support?  Contact us. 

The Yamas - Brahmacharya

Brahmacharya: Appropriate Use of Vital Energy

 Image by: Alex Gray

Image by: Alex Gray

As we deepen our knowledge of what yoga truly is, we must take a look at our use of energy.  

Brahmacharya is the Sanskrit word in the Yoga Sutras' definition of the Yamas describing the observance of utilizing your vital energy appropriately and wisely.  It is important to note that our vital energy is clarified and essentially held in our sacral chakra (swadhisthana), which governs sexuality and creativity.

Some schools of yoga practice observe brahmacharya as strictly chaste or abstinent living to turn their sexual vital energy towards developing enlightened states.  Others, like Tantra, seek to harness and cultivate all vital energy in life to purposeful outlets and experiences. In the tantric tradition, sexual exchange is the literal act of honoring one another to fully experience and recognize the divine.  It is the act of giving and receiving soma, or sweet nectar of life. Regardless of lineage or perspective, by utilizing brahmacharya, one must know how to appropriately engage in their sexuality and intimate exchanges to be cultivating and expanding rather than damaging, degrading, or dishonoring to parties involved.  

Since our vital energy is that which creates us, makes us, and gives us purpose and life experiences broadening the scope of practice beyond sexuality is important for our culture and day to day living, especially with the state of local, national, and global affairs. Therefore, extending to all vital energy usage, this yama is the knowingness of when to take opportunities and also when to say no to those that will not serve you or the individual(s) that are offering them, which ties into the few yamas (ahimsa, satya, asteya) that we've covered previously. Some may even look at it as the practice of moderation and not indulging in an excess of any one thing to avoid burn out and depleted vital energy.

yoga sutras fort collins - bramacharya

It is also vital to note that intimacy is not always sexual in nature.  As one of my teachers presented to me, consider intimacy to translate to “into-me-I-see” for full depth of the word in all situations.  How can we see ourselves in not just our own being, but also in that of another in the following expressions of intimacy:

  • Situational
    • A temporary interaction based off of a situation in common
  • Intellectual
    • A stimulating exchange of thoughts and ideas
  • Emotional
    • Opening to another for safety, support, compassion, empathy, relief, etc
  • Physical
    • Eye contact, hugging, touching, cuddling, kissing or any other non-sexualized exchange of physical energy
  • Sexual
    • Kissing, hugging, sex, oral sex, foreplay, etc
Aerial Fort Collins

In order to practice brahmacharya ask yourself the following:

  • Do you have an abundance of energy?
  • Do you feel tired frequently?
  • What does your work and life balance look like? Is it balanced?
  • Why and how do you use sex in your life?
  • How do you feel after sexual exchanges?
  • Do you have firm boundaries for yourself?  Can you say no to others?
  • How do you create?
  • Are you allowing yourself to engage in uplifting intimate exchanges?
  • What/Who do you spend most of your time/energy/attention on?
  • Where do you put your financial resources?

Have fun exploring your use and view of energy and, as always, let us know if you need some guidance, coaching, clarity, or support in your ventures!  Once you're able to harness where your energy is spent, you'll be able to start manifesting a life you want to be living and one you can enjoy!

The Yamas - Asteya

 Freedom comes from within.   Photo by Kelsey White

Freedom comes from within. 

Photo by Kelsey White

In past articles, we've explored Ahimsa and Satya, the first two yamas from the text "The Yoga Sutras".  Today we'll discuss and take a look at asteya.  Asteya is the practice of non-stealing.  It is the respectful observance of sources that have contributed to your life or surround you in written, spoken, energetic, or situational exchange.

One way you can think of this practice as utilizing the academic use of bibliographies to ensure that you are giving proper credit to those who have introduced or developed the information that is presented to you in life. Another way is to respect the time and energy of yourself and those around you. Practicing asteya enables us to honor the community we come from and interact with in our lives, while simultaneously lifting each other up energetically instead of eroding the very forces that sustain and build us all.

Asteya, when practiced well, can physiologically affect individuals, including yourself.  When we practice asteya, we are able to positively support brain chemistry including our serotonin and dopamine levels. These two chemicals are related to doing a good job and value or stature. The more we practice giving people the credit they deserve, the more we help elevate their level of self-worth, value, and appreciation and the less likely individuals will experience chemical imbalances that result in symptoms like depression, anxiety, and social fears.

Be aware of asteya in:

 Photo by Mary Wrightson

Photo by Mary Wrightson

  • Your speech, writing, artwork/creations
  • Use of imagery on social media
  • Exchanges with teachers, professors
  • Exchanges with friends, family and lovers
  • Your own energy expenditures (thoughts, actions, emotions, words)

Ask yourself:

  • Did I come up with this?
  • Where did this (idea, thought, emotion, item, etc) come from? 
  • Am I living presently or focusing on past or future?
  • Am I adding to, taking away from, or being neutral in this situation?
  • Is there reciprocity in this situation or my day to day life?
  • How can I give more credit to my wealth of knowledge or those around me?
  • Do I know how to say no to others when it is depleting of my own energy? 

Enjoy taking a deeper look within and starting to become aware of your patterns and habits. As always, if you need support or assistance in working with this topic and construct in your life, please contact us to set up an energy or coaching session with one of our professionals so you can live beyond limit and start living the life you'd like to live. 

The Yamas - Satya

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Often times we think of yoga as the fitness classes with iconic postures, yoga pants, flexible people, and zen like teachers.  While you may come across some or all of these aspects of yoga, true Yoga is the "yoking of mind, body, and spirit" and consists of 8 limbs (Astanga) of external and internal practices both on and off of the mat. 

Satya

The 8 Limbs of Yoga (Astanga):

  1. Yamas – social morals or observances

  2. Niyamas – personal observances

  3. Asana - posture

  4. Pranayama – breath or prana control

  5. Pratyahara – internalization of the senses

  6. Dharana - focus

  7. Dhyana - meditation

  8. Samadhi – absorption

By practicing on and off the mat and taking a deeper look into the philosophy behind this syncing and aligning of an individuals mind, body, and spirit we can get a better look at our specific kleshas, or roots of suffering. Often we find that our lives and mat practices are riddled with inconsistencies that create disharmony and conflict within ourselves and surroundings.  

Today, we'll look at the yamas, and specifically satya, the practice of truthfulness.  

Satya is the ability to stand in one’s truth at all times. Beyond telling the truth to others, it's telling the truth to oneself. It is not only seeing the truth of the full situation at hand, but also living the truth of that situation. When we practice satya the mind, body, and spirit are in alignment with one another and our energy is resonant, full, and impactful.  When we live in falsehoods, contradictions, or lies we experience energetic riffs or dissonance that can be felt physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually in our bodies, relationships, and outreach.

Satya is a very intentional and conscious practice that brings great ease into our paths when accomplished.  In order to fully practice satya, one must dive beyond their personal vantage point and perspective and take into account factors beyond their personal experience that motivate others and the environment. Once individuals can step out of their limited perspective, the full truth can be revealed.

 By remaining open to all that there is and all that there could be that is outside of our previous experiences, we free ourselves and clients from their pasts and the limiting factors that have been practiced.  

Truthful Living

Ask yourself:

  • Do I lie to myself?
  • Do I lie to others?
  • What subjects do I tend to lie the most about?
  • What am I afraid of if I tell the truth?
  • Am I open or am I closed off in my interactions?
  • Do I try to analyze everything with my mind/ego, or do I feel into situations?
  • What judgments do I have of others and myself?
  • What stories do I tell myself about myself or the world? Are they still true to this day?
  • What is my personal core truth? What resonates with me the most? When do I feel the most authentic?

Have questions or want some one on one coaching for your life and practice? Contact us to be supported in your journey.

What to Look for in A Yoga Teacher

Not all teachers are created equal and there are. Not all trainings that are "Yoga Alliance" certified are credible or complete in how they're taught and what they require "certified teachers" to demonstrate before getting out and teaching people in groups and one on one.  With all of the trainings, certifications, styles, and advertising on the web or in magazines it's hard to know what to look for and how to identify whether or not you're in good hands, so we've made a few pointers for you to be able to feel informed about the studios, teachers, and environments you place yourself within.

Yoga Classes Fort Collins

Overall the  most important things when you're looking for a yoga instructor are:

  1. Knowledge and incorporation of the philosophy and energetics of yoga. 
    • Look to see how they define yoga.  The sanskrit translation is "yoking of mind, body, and spirit," meaning it's helping you connect with you on all levels. 
    • The philosophy begins with the Yamas (social observances) and Niyamas (personal observances), involves postures, breathwork, internalizing the senses to connect with your inner experience, concentration, meditation, and takes you as far as samadhi (bliss/oneness/absorption with your surroundings/infinite consciousness/etc).
    • The energetics involves bandhas (supports/locks), vayus (subtle winds or energies of the body), koshas (layers of self and experience), kleshas (root of suffering) at a minimum.  
    • You'll see more life results in a quicker amount of time by practicing and learning the full philosophy and energetics than you will by practicing the physical postures alone.
  2. Knowledge of the physical body, postures, and how to adapt to make them accessible to all persons in the room.
    • See if they're familiar with anatomy and physiology.  Do they know what muscles are doing what? Can they help you target and locate what you need to find to get into the postures? Do they ask you to find control and restraint at times and work deeper at other times?  Do they offer modifications and levels of the postures for all students to work at their own pace? 
  3. Offers adjustments without force and with your permission.
    • Adjustments should only be offered to help you learn how to find the alignments, space, or ease in your own experience.  If your teacher forces the movement or posture onto your body, it doesn't help you figure out how to find it on your own.  Those that use light touch, visual cues, verbal cues, sensory cues, etc are better teachers and will help you grow more in the long run in a safer and healthier manner.
    • Consent is key.  With so many of us walking around with traumas and personal preferences, it's important that your teacher give you the option to say you rather not be touched in class.  Whether they ask if it's okay, offer chips to mark if you'd like adjustments for class, or ask you to make a gesture in your opening meditation so they know who is and is not comfortable with physical assists, permission is VITAL so you feel safe and respected in your body and practice. 
  4. Clear with instructions and able to demonstrate, explain, and assist you with the practice.
    • They should be easy to follow and understand as you go through class.  If you're confused the whole time, they refuse to demo to help you figure out where to go or what you're doing and what you need to be doing...well then they may not be the best teacher for you.
  5. Warm, friendly, supportive, and approachable. 
    • It's important your teacher makes your feel comfortable in the skin you're in and actually cares about you beyond your mat.  If you have feedback or concerns about your practice or their teaching, it's important that they create an environment where you feel comfortable voicing your needs so you can feel safe and supported in your yoga journey.
    • They get excited to share with you and to see you grow.  They help you notice your progress and celebrate your developing practice.  They notice your small and big shifts and changes.
  6. Professional in appearance and demeanor.
    • It's important that the teacher is professional and focuses on you or the class you're in as a whole instead of focusing on their own practice or problems.  While sometimes a teacher's personal journey can be a powerful teaching experience and offer you permission to be sensitive to your own grown and needs, it should not be the main focus of the class as they are there to teach and serve you and your development.  
    • It's important they care about their hygiene and appearance to an extent. One of the main pillars of yoga philosophy is cleanliness, so if they're always looking disheveled and a bit rough or potent smelling, they are showing disrespect to both you and themselves. 
  7. They LIVE their practice. 
    • Yoga isn't just a hobby for them. The best teachers are those who take their practice into their daily lives in every waking moment.  They're present in themselves, they listen and like to be challenged to learn and grow, they care about the world, and they are focused on being their best selves.
Yoga in Turkey

 

We hope this guide helps you target the teachers who will be able to best help you deepen your practice.  We support the new teachers who are working to develop their knowledge base and ability to teach and guide students, but recommend those with a bit more training and experience to ensure a safe, supportive, and powerful environment to help you know your investment in yourself is going to be well worth the efforts and professional attention.

Have questions or need help finding the right teacher for you?  Shoot us a message at katew@livebeyondlimit.com or use our Contact page to receive some support.

What is Yoga?

meditation classes fort collins

While there's a lot of misinformation out there and wild ideas about what yoga really is and why there are yoga studios and schools all over the place, hopefully we can shed some light on the topic.

What is true yoga?

Yoga is simply a state of being fully and wholly yourself.  It's balance and synchronicity in your mind, body, heart, and spirit and being comfortable and content in your own skin.  In short it's not something you do it's something you are.  

So what is "yoga" and why do we take "yoga classes"? 

Yoga is a combination of physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual practices and exercises to help you learn to be more yourself.  The specific system we know as "yoga" originated thousands of years ago and has evolved through the ages in order to be specifically designed to help you learn to have full awareness of your present state of being at any given time, in any given posture, and to have control over how you are, act, and react internally and externally, as well as how we're connected to one another, the cosmos, and energy as a whole. 

"Yoga" is based off of Astanga (Ashtanga), or 8 separate limbs of practice:

yoga fort collins
  • Yamas - Social Practices
    • Ahimsa: non-violence
    • Satya: truthfulness
    • Asteya: non-Stealing
    • Brahmacharya: Appropriate use of vital energy
    • Aparighraha: non-attachment
  • Niyamas - Personal Practices
    • Saucha:  cleanliness
    • Santosha: contentment
    • Tapas: discipline, practice, being what you intend to be
    • Svadhyaya: self-study or study of ancient texts
    • Isvarapranidhana: connection to a higher awareness/something bigger than you (nature, god, energy, spirit, whatever it may be)
  • Asana - Postures or Physical Practices
  • Pranayama - Breath or Energy Control
  • Pratyahara - Internalizing the Senses
  • Dharana - Focus
  • Dhyana - Meditation
  • Samadhi - Bliss, Oneness With the Object of Your Meditation

If yoga is just "being ourselves,"  why do we have to practice?

Sadly, in this world we live in, we are constantly bombarded with stressors that may be constantly positive, negative, or neutral in nature with very little opportunity to ground and balance out.  The mind, therefore, ends up often living consistently in a hyper vigilant state and sometimes is stuck primarily in the past or future instead of the now.  With the constant stressors and demands of life, often coping techniques are developed that also consistently dissociate emotion and feelings with the present moment, leading us to deny, ignore, or put off our true feelings about any given situation, which often creates dis-ease within our bodies as they attempt to process emotions for us. Additionally, many of us often feel isolated or that we're very separate or alone in this life and our "struggles".  

Yoga Classes Fort Collins

Yoga exercises and practices are a way to bring the mind into the now, the heart into the now, ease to our bodies, awareness into how connected we really are, and to bring a sense of wholeness to ourselves. It helps train the energetic systems and physical systems of self into synchronicity and harmony to create an overall ease and a sense of just being. Specifically and anatomically speaking it helps us balance and calm our overstimulated nervous system, process emotions, focus our minds, and let go of the things we cannot change while embracing ourselves in the now. 

When we are in a true state of yoga there is no separation or hesitation in the mind, heart, body, and spirit....everything is clicking into place and life feels more effortless.  

 

Pura Vida - Live Pure and Presently

Pura Vida

Pura Vida.  Pure Living. Bliss.   Existing in your perfect consciousness and authentic expression. Yoga. Perfectly connected and balanced mind, body, and spirit.

Our life experience and consciousness is defined by how many things change in our lives, and I'm going to encourage that you embrace a heck of a lot more change and a lot less strict routine to heighten your life experience and be more aware, present, and balanced.  Once we get in a rut in our practice, our life, our activities and thoughts we create what we call in yoga samskaras.  These are patterns and pathways our energy takes and the more defined and determined the samskara, the more limited our awareness and experience as our brain creates neurological pathways to reinforce behaviors, perspectives, and thought patterns.  

To live pure, or free of these binding patterns we must be consciously aware and open to the constant flux the universe exists within.  When we open our minds to what more there can be, the brain is happy to create new pathways for the infinite potential of experiences in existence.  

For example, in your yoga practice, you may find yourself anticipating the next movement or breath pattern, but frequently the teacher asks you to do something different even though your anticipation had you starting something else, which suggests a lack of true presence and awareness of the moment. 

If we live purely and consciously we can stay whole and present in the moment and learn to react to what is and not just what we are expecting.  Our reactions then are based off of the current situation and not pre-existing knowledge and patterning giving us the opportunity to move outside of the samskaras and previous neruo-pathways to new pathways and the ability to grow and evolve in each moment. 

In doing this, we often are able to free ourselves of pre-conceived ideas that bring stress and suffering to our being and the yamas and niyamas (the first two set of practices in the yoga system) become effortless in the process. By relieving unnecessary stressors from our lives, our physiology begins to shift and our fascia begins to relax.  This enables the body to become more open and regenerate at a higher rate, which then leads to less discomfort and a greater range of motion in the physical practice of yoga and a more full experience off the mat in life.    

To be present is to be whole. To be whole is to truly be yourself and not what others have tried to make you. 

Give it a try and be surprised at what reveals itself to you in your experiences.  

 

Breathe

Co-authored by John Zappanta

 Did you know that most Americans are shallow breathers that tend to breathe with approximately the top 10% of their lungs? How do you breathe? How can you tell?  Benefits of deep breathing or diaphragmatic breathing have been shown to improve exercise capacity, core strength, decrease stress, and increase overall well-being.  So let’s start using the other 90% of our lungs!

Good respiration allows you to fill your lungs to their fullest to allow maximal oxygen exchange and maximal exercise capacity.  At birth we know how to breathe. Newborns and infants are beautiful examples of an effortless rise and fall of the abdomen. What distorts this effortless breath?

Abnormal respiration arises from various factors including cardiopulmonary diseases, musculoskeletal problems, and life related factors like stress and tension. These factors cause effortful and shallow breathing that overuse the muscles of the neck, upper back and chest limiting oxygen exchange to muscles and lowering capacity for everyday activities and exercise. However, by looking into your own patterns and understanding the breathing process you can regain your ease.

Respiration is the process of breathing that consists of two steps: Inspiration (inhalation) and Expiration (exhalation). During inspiration muscles around the ribs and the diaphragm muscle contract in unison to enlarge the chest wall allowing the lungs to expand with air. When we exhale the ribs and diaphragm muscle relax returning the chest wall to its normal position, consequently squeezing the air out. Simultaneously, the deep muscles of the stomach, especially the transversus abdominis muscle, contract to assist with releasing air from the lungs.


The benefits of deep breathing include strengthening abdominal muscles and a decrease or prevention of back pain, which the latest research shows is tied to proper activation of the diaphragm and transverse abdominis muscles. These seemingly ordinary muscles that help fill the lungs create stabilization to the low back through pressure changes and attachments to the spinal column. You too can have stability and take control of your pain via practice.

For thousands of years the Indian system of medicine, Ayurveda, and yoga practices have incorporated deep core breathing as a focal point in care and practice to regulate the nervous system response to activity. To engage your diaphragm place one hand over your stomach and the other hand over your chest. Breathe in slowly allowing your stomach to rise, but ensure your chest remains relaxed. Breathe out slowly and draw your belly button towards your spine as if you were trying to make your stomach 1-2” smaller.

Once you practice, incorporate awareness of your breathing or mindfulness. Notice how you breathe throughout the day by checking in during different activities.  If you are not breathing fully, begin incorporating deep core breaths into each of your movements—think “one breath, one movement”.  Inhale on the easier phase of your movement and exhale fully on the more challenging aspect like lifting or twisting for the best results.

The expiration will engage core musculature, improve back health, and can improve your physical, mental, and emotional well-being via release of carbon dioxide and other chemicals. In turn, the breath stimulates your parasympathetic nervous system, which is involved in recovery and re-establishing baseline functions of the body, effectively preventing acid build up, muscle tension, decreasing heightened emotional states and pain perception.

So what are you waiting for? Take a deep breath.

How to perform active core deep breathing while lying down:

http://youtu.be/cA1Cbv73BIE

How to perform active core deep breathing while standing up:

http://youtu.be/fyQmwC9KLyo

Thank you to Dr. John Zapanta, Physical Therapist, and Kate Wrightson, Yoga Practitioner, for their contributions to this article. For more information, workshops and videos on how to perform an active deep breathe visit ColPTs.com and livebeyondlimit.com.

 

Manifestation - How to Do It

Have you ever heard or known anyone talking about “manifesting” one thing or another in his or her life and wondered what they were talking about or thought they were nuts? Today I’m going to be one of those people. 

I had the delightful experience of the perfect standby flight.  Taking a little bit of a chance with a friend, we had standby employee tickets to fly into New Orleans.  Everyone told me how much of an adventure this endeavor could be with two people trying to get onto the same flight and even the person traveling with me and the pilot that gave us the tickets both were worrying about the flight being really full and making checklists of all the calls that would need to be made should we not make it.  I however, being the free spirit I am, decided weeks ago when I heard about the trip that we’d get on the first flight we tried and that it would be smooth sailing.  I continued to hold this resolve and guess what happened? We got on the first flight due to several people that didn't show up. How wonderful and extraordinary.

So to go back to the initial question, manifesting is, simply put, making things happen via attracting and fostering the energy of that occurrence.

Everything has a unique and yet similar energy or vibration. The physical and intangible worlds consist of energy moving around, exchanging, and interacting through space via connections. Connections are what make things happen whether it’s the pulse of blood flowing through your veins, communication of one human to another, interspecies communication, the flight of a plane above the Earth’s crust or any other thing you could possibly imagine, including your imagination.

Therefore, we can alter the connections we have and come across by putting off the vibrations via our thoughts and true feelings to actually alter the environment inside and around you to be more hospitable to the exact thing you desire. Manifesting thus must begin as a concrete knowing with every bit of your being that something will happen, so that your mind, body and emotions are putting off a constant message and magnetic like pull to turn that something into reality.

Sometimes we are able to manifest things quite quickly in our lives and sometimes it takes a little while to see our dreams as realities. Regardless of speed, to manifest anything it takes firm elimination of doubt and the development of innate knowingness on the subconscious level.  Key words: subconscious level. Unfortunately, we can’t simply say, think, write and act like something is going to happen if deep down you feel stuck, lost, doubtful, insecure, or any other feeling that rejects the end result you’re looking for. 

This is where it all gets tricky.  If you've seen things repeatedly happen in your life that you DON’T want and wish to create the things you DO want, I recommend starting with the yogic principle of svadhyaya, which in previous articles has been revealed to be the art of self-study and inquiry. Being mindful of your existence in thoughts, actions, and presence will help you find the missing link and garbled encoding of your conscious desires and subconscious beliefs.  

Have no clue where to start the study? Try these few exercises:

  1. Meditate on your breath.  Inhale for 5 counts, exhale for 5 counts and repeat for 5-10 minutes. Any time your mind wanders from focusing on your inhale or exhale within that time frame, notice or acknowledge where it goes and then go right back to focusing on your breathing.

  2. Journal.  If there is something you’re particularly interested in discovering about yourself sit down with a pencil and paper or at your computer and write. Write whatever comes to mind about the subject—even if it starts out as “I have no idea what to say about this or where to start or why these things are happening..etc, etc, etc.”  The very act of writing will start to lead you somewhere and at least give you a glimmer of where you’re stuck so you can look back on it and find a way out.

  3. Start looking at every event in your life as a wonderful opportunity and make sure to clarify what the opportunity was—even the ones that don’t feel that good. You’ll learn a lot about how you view the world, what makes you thrive and what makes you react defensively.  All of these can be keys to opening up the subconscious motives that pulse outward.


Enjoy the journey and next time someone starts talking about manifesting, maybe you’ll be able to join in with your own story!

If you have questions or would like help figuring out how to work towards and manifest your dreams, please do not hesitate to leave comments or contact me directly at katew@livebeyondlimit.com or (757) 784-7327.

The Beginning

yoga fort collins

 

 

 

The morning light, the rising sun, the fire in our souls.

The dew condensing, the ocean strong, the blood within us tolls.

We must listen to that little voice, pure, persistent and so real.

Listen, dear, with all your heart for your intuition will heal.

yoga retreats

Be what you may, be what you like, just be for the sake of art.

You are precious, my love, with all your truths so know you play a part.

The cosmos ask for honest pursuit of the consciousness within.

Allow only for greatness in your life and know the rest begins.

 

-Kate

New Understanding: Physical, Emotional & Energetic

Six years ago today it was a Thursday. Six years ago I left Trybz Martial Arts from training with a dear friend, Sebastian, and a very distinct idea of how my following week was going to go. Six years ago, I received a wonderfully loud and tragic blessing from the Universe. I was involved in a 3 car hit-and-run accident on South Shields and Prospect in Fort Collins, CO. I walked away a different lady. I walked away terrified, injured and feeling lost but with an underlying sense of calm, understanding and determination.

Why me? Why after years of working SO HARD to get my body back into a stable place (a story for another time) was I involved in such a horrible car accident and have my physical, emotional and mental stability destroyed?  Why would the universe give me such a torturous and devastating event and aftermath to deal with? Have you ever felt this way?

Why? Exactly because of the above tone and attitude I had possessed prior to the event. The attitude that the world was happening to me. That I was filling an "extra" in the play we call life. I needed that rude awakening to realize that I was happening to the world and that I needed to refine my skills, learn to be patient, compassionate, forgiving and figure out what I really am meant to share with the world. Yes. That's your journey too.

The journey to my and your discovery? Long. Hard. Torturous. Fear ridden. Painful. Tearful. Hysterical. Frustrating. Agonizing. Joyous. Contemplative. Freeing.

 

Almost immediately I learned that my "friends" weren't really all that great or supportive. (Sound familiar?) I found kindness in my family and support in co-workers (Thanks Sheryl!). I found a new depth to my self-study (svadhyaya in Sanskrit) both on and off the mat. I woke up very suddenly. I had to. I was faced with the choice to wallow in my situation at the bottom of the pit with water flooding in or climb the hell up and see where that wall led. It was a big, wonderful shift and I'm always here to help you all make that climb too.

Get ready for the long haul if you really want to see the big and lasting changes.  I personally have spent years of daily rehabilitation getting my range of motion back. The beginning of that fateful day I had full range of motion in my legs to have my face pressed between my knees in a forward fold....the next morning? I could literally hinge forward about 2 inches-leaving quite a few between me and my thighs.  Today? Almost back to those thighs.

My neck and jaw stability I had found after years of work with the amazing Dr. Oglesby in Virginia was destroyed that night. I shattered the temporomandibular joint repositioning device he and I spent literally years adjusting to find stability and functional neurological activity in a matter of weeks after the accident.  I'm STILL working on finding that stability with the assistance of Dr. Keller here in Fort Collins (thank goodness such a wonderful skilled individual is in this area) and continue to do daily therapy and energetic work to promote stability and uninterrupted cognitive, visual and tactile functioning. 

The jaw will stabilize when my spine stabilizes, which again, is a daily battle and challenge. Since I've become a reiki and thoroughly deepened my meditation and mantra practices, I've had remarkable advanced in healing, which is why I share these skills with you too. I can't say I'm 100% yet, but I surely am on an accelerated fast track and I'd like to put you on that same track to fulfilling your goals.  I have been able to drop my pelvis into a neutral position, my thoracic spine is slowly working back into a normal kyphosis (opposed to the lordosis/concave look with a nice curve and the extra twists the accident gave it) and my C-5 is finally decompressing some, thus allowing my cervical spine (neck) to slowly work back into a neutral curve. Patience is a virtue. Start repeating that mantra to yourself now because the patience is worth the outcome.

This new understanding of energy has thrown me into a new pool of philosophy, energetics, intimacy and joy.  It's expanded my somewhat bound Western mind and brought in the ancient energies from Reiki, Tantra, Yoga and ancient civilizations' understanding of life, our role and the universal reflection around us. The experience has given me a deeper look into my true nature and it's been absolutely blissful and exciting beyond the reaches of my physical body.

The accident and journey since has given me the opportunity to get out of my comfort zone on my own to make this creation, Live Beyond Limit, a true reality and service for the world. While my start is small, I look forward to every and any impact I may have to help support individuals and groups with their goals, ease the changes of life and welcome self-empowerment to all those I cross-paths with. This is the awesome experience and opportunity I have been blessed and gifted with in this time and in this life.  What gifts do you have? How can you help yourself, the world, your co-workers, your friends, acquaintances and family members?

My response to the very loud Universal message and occasional "setbacks" with my health and stability? GAME ON. I will persevere. Will you?



How do I stay motivated and positive? Take a look below and adopt a few of these points for yourself:

Padma Mudra
  • I acknowledge how far I've come DAILY.

  • I keep reminding myself to BREATHE.

  • I keep reminding myself that I could be miserable OR I could have a freaking fantastic day and choose the latter.

  • I consciously practice good posture. I check in with it ALL day.

  • I let go of negative thought patterns and replace them with positive statements.

  • I surround myself with GOOD spirits and people.

  • I welcome healing on a daily basis.

  • I let go of those individuals, activities and employers that don't make my heart sing.

  • I believe in myself and my innate ability to be great and make a difference regardless of circumstance.



What event in your life has left you paralyzed or empowered? Are you happy and grateful with where you are right now?

I'd love to hear your stories! If you're looking for a boost in your current life situation, contact me for a free consultation and remember to keep checking back for new information or visit the Live Beyond Limit Facebook page for free daily motivation, tips and tricks!

 

 

Attending Your First Yoga Class

You’ve decided to take your first yoga class and we all can admit that is a little scary, intimidating and uncomfortable.  Some questions that may be running through your head before, during, and after are probably:

“I’m not flexible enough. Am I going to look silly? I’m supposed to do what? This stretch hurts! How am I supposed to relax when I’m doing that?! Am I going to fart? What did she just say? Am I doing it right? Oh yeah, breathe, I’m supposed to breathe. Why did I come here?  “

Don’t worry, everyone experiences these reactions their first time. Time after time individuals are off-put by their experiences and take their first and last yoga class on the same day, but you don’t have to be one of them! Here are some tips to help you have a more enjoyable experience:

First off, you do NOT HAVE TO DO WHAT THE INSTRUCTOR INSTRUCTS as long as you are respecting yourself and everyone else. It is your class and experience, not theirs. Sit quietly, do a pose you love, or even lay down and know that all of those options are awesome and beautiful and respected by yoga practitioners.

Know that there are three stages to learning and your first, second, third and beyond classes fall into the first category.

Practitioner Level and Corresponding Learning Stage

1)       Beginner – Cognitive -- Fight or flight; feelings of anxiety, uncertainty, lots of
            thoughts

2)       Intermediate -- Associative – A little more comfort and confidence, still actively
            learning

3)       Advanced –Autonomous—Meditative practice with feelings of connection, full
            balance, and relaxation through strength


Again, you’re in the first category so be patient with yourself and try to relax as much as you can. GIVE IT A FEW TRIES AND TRY A FEW DIFFERENT TEACHERS. It’s like learning a new language – it will be really hard unless you have a decent teacher. Only after taking many classes and a lot of practice will a student move on to the second and eventually the third stages of learning for yoga.

WEAR CLOTHES YOU CAN MOVE AND FEEL COMFORTABLE IN. The more comfortable you feel, the more you will be able to focus on how to do the postures and what you are feeling. Also, think about a hand towel and a water bottle, they’ll come in handy. Many teachers or studios will have mats available, but if you want your own you can get them almost any general department or sporting goods store.

TALK TO YOUR INSTRUCTOR BEFORE CLASS if you have any significant health concerns (heck, even if you don’t!). This can help them tailor their instruction to your needs.  Your yoga instructors are there to help you and WANT to help you with your practice and they certainly want you to leave feeling great about class. The more we know about you and your experiences, the better teachers we can be.

YOGA IS MORE THAN STRETCHING. Be prepared to sweat, breathe and let go of more than just tight muscles. The more open and determined you are to feel great in class, the more likely it will be a wonderful experience taking you to intermediate and advanced stages which yield much greater health benefits including improved immune system functioning, increased cognition, balance of hormones, improved lung function and more. If you feel horribly trying to get to the “ideal” yoga posture, is that really going to help you with the desired effect? Just remind yourself to feel and go to places that feel good.

It is called a “practice” because you have to put in the work and “PERFECT" is something that DOES NOT EXIST. That’s right – there is no perfect. Yoga is a system of how to connect to your mind, body, soul and surroundings and so that is going to look different for everyone as we all have a unique perspective and energy.

There you have it, now that you are equipped with a little more information to make your experience authentic and much less stressful.  Take a few deep breaths before class and embrace the world of yoga and all the wonderful benefits that are waiting for you!

Intimacy: Finding, being and celebrating your highest self

Intimacy

Intimacy. What does that even mean?  Through my studies I have come to experience and be grateful for the following simple definition: in to me, I see (Thank you, Nan!) Diving a little deeper, intimacy is the deep relationship with our internal selves and all those who cross our paths on a daily basis.  It is the deep internal look and external realization that absolutely everyone, yes even that person that drives us crazy, has something to offer us in regards to growth and our existence because they reflect us.  Thus, everything is simply a projection of our perceptions and experiences. We create the pictures we see and experiences we endure.  

In my experience, healthy intimacy involves us seeing ourselves in our actions and building each other up so that we may all find our best selves via intellect, experience, emotion and sexuality. Intimacy is opening oneself to greater opportunity to be loved and cared for by both the internal and external worlds. When we open ourselves to true intimacy – without judgments, attachments and expectations — we truly free ourselves.

It is amazing at what a single glance, smile, touch or laugh can do to the soul. It can literally be the Agni, or fire, to change the tone of not just the moment but also an entire day, week, year or even a lifetime.  Why is this? What does such a little act actually do?  Those acts extend far beyond the surface. The actions and thoughts we put out and surround ourselves with affect our etheric, emotional, mental and spiritual bodies and literally alter and influence our energetic patterns ranging from the chemical processes in our bodies to our mental thought patterns and emotional experiences. 

Literally every action and thought has a physical and tangible chemical cascade throughout our bodies. The more we receive a stimulus, the more our cells are conditioned to the appropriate response and reception of different neurotransmitters and proteins.  Energetically, we create patterns within our bodies and can start to warp our chakras, or energy centers, and sometimes we even bind them to other individuals.

This is what makes change so hard – we actually have to teach and condition our bodies on how to disconnect from current patterns and be receptive to other chemistry and energy, which is no easy task.

Our intentions, thoughts and actions are literally some of the most powerful powers we possess. You may not even realize it, but sometimes our personal intentions are absolutely horrific.  Then we ask why oh why do things keep falling apart around me? Why can’t I have a break? Why is the whole world out to get me? 

Svadhyaya, or self-study, is the Sanskrit term to help promote the realization of our best selves and maintain homeostasis in our bodies. We can use this same tool to help redirect our samskaras (think of these as old habits and patterns) and bring about a favorable homeostasis when we are out of balance.

I’ve been learning this in the past years after a series of events in my life left me closing myself off to most nurturing and fair relationships and interactions. I’m pleased to tell you that I’ve had the best time figuring out that my initial beliefs were bogus and how free I feel now that I have unyoked myself from them.

After a nasty car accident shook things up in my life 8 months after moving to Colorado, completely throwing off my homeostasis, I deepened my studies of the body, mind and spirit and the practice of svadhyaya. I started working with a Reiki (bless you, Michael) and realized that I had locked emotions from the past traumas and that I was finding present day energetic ways to relive the pain and suffering.

Empowered with this knowledge, I began down a path of affirmation, meditation, mantra and practice to help relieve the locked traumas, physiological imbalances and energetic disturbances. I have been able to free myself from a destructive cycle and affirm my current goals, paths and contentment.

So go ahead and step back from yourself for a moment. Become the witness to your own existence. Yes, the witness.  Be truthful with yourself and others and ask yourself:

 

Yoga Retreat Bali
  • Do I know what I am projecting?
  • Do I know what my intentions are with each action I take?
  • Am I creating harm? If so, am I doing a good job at minimizing it for all parties?
  • Am I uplifting and supporting others as I wish to be?
  • What are my personal intentions?
  • Am I happy with my situation?
  • Do I love myself?
  • And here’s the kicker: if every little bit of my life other than myself changed, would I be happy with myself? Would I still feel content and joyful?

 

If the answer is “no,” don’t worry. You can get there. Remember, the outside world is a reflection of your interior world, so the more chaos there is within, the more life is going to kick you in the rear and make it that much harder for you to get to where you want to be. Once the internal world starts to change, that’s when the external world agrees to support the change and the real magic starts to happen.

 

I leave you with the following affirmations that have been extremely helpful to me as I continue my own studies and build my own arsenal of nurturing experiences:

“I free myself of my past, operate in the now and strive to build a beautiful future for the community and myself. I open myself to all healing intimate relationships and interactions. I open myself to touching my heart and synchronizing with another’s. I relish sharing a touch, a glance, a smile, and/or a laugh in the mutual recognition of our innate greatness. I am delighted in the partnerships and friendships that come as I fully embrace my inner goddess/god and the ability to bring out the best in my friends, family and community.”

Place all or portions of the above affirmations on a sticky note and put them on your mirror, your dash, or your office desk. Say it to yourself as many times a day as you are able and start looking for kind moments to share a glance, smile, laugh or touch.  Start to be the creator of your interior world and the shaper of your exterior.  Most importantly, have fun while you do. Laugh at the times that you find yourself getting stressed or frustrated. Smile. Enjoy. Live.

At some point in our lives we have all been sitting with friends, at the gym, in a yoga class, in academic classes or work, etc and our minds are somewhere else entirely. We spend that time in the past or future but seem to forget the present moment.This is what yoga and fitness are all about. They are about learning to truly love the moment and become in sync with yourself and environment at that very moment. 

There is a huge amount of empowerment and freedom that comes with letting go of past baggage. Not only does our physical body stop reacting to past emotions and starts tapping into the present and is able to adapt more for the future, but also our ability to see opportunities and different perspectives becomes great. You stop missing things because your mind was somewhere else.

The subject of presence makes me think of the Gorilla Study where radiologists were asked to look for tumors on a brain scan and then were asked if anything was wrong with the scan.  A whopping 83% missed a hidden gorilla (yes, a picture of a gorilla superimposed on the brain scan films) because it was not what they were looking for.  How much of life do you think you miss?

Try saying the following once a day for 7 days and see how your life changes:

The past is the past and will always be there to reflect and learn from.
The future holds only what you cultivate based off of your actions today, right now.
The present is a gift at this very moment and is meant to be lived and experienced with every breath .

EMBRACING STRENGTH, POWER AND OPPORTUNITY

Warrior 1

Embrace yourself today. Take a moment to set the intention to truly embrace all that you are - not all that society wants you to be.  Open yourself up to loving and befriending your shadow self, or the parts of you that you may have deemed unlovable, unacceptable, not ideal, etc.  Once we accept where we are in life, we can free ourselves of any cages or limits and continue to grow and expand with the support of our community and the amazing connections our "weaknesses" guide us towards.  

We all have our own talents. We all have our own drive.  Allow yours to compliment others and give each person you connect with today the opportunity to realize how awesome they are and how needed they are in this world as their truest being.

Enjoy the flow - feel the connection and embrace your strength. You're capable of amazing things!

~Kate

Embrace the Power and Healing via AcroYoga - see the highlighted TEDxUNC presentation from March 20, 2014

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AiGnKdVEHso&feature=youtu.be

 

AcroYoga Base Test

AcroYoga Base Test

Authored by: Jessica Schultz


Poses 3a and 3b teach the base to stay steady when the flyer lifts off.


3a   

BASE Stay on your back, stacking your feet over your hips.

FLYER Cross your forearms and stack them onto the base’s feet. You can make eye contact with your base to establish trust.

ALIGNMENT TIP

BASE: If your legs are too long compared with your flyer’s height, bend knees as necessary.

 

 

3b

FLYER Press your folded arms into your base’s feet and lift your legs off the ground.

BASE Straighten your legs into a 90-degree or L shape, stacking your feet over your hips for stability.

ALIGNMENT TIP

BASE: If your legs are tight and you can’t straighten them, try placing a folded blanket under your pelvis. Keep your knees slightly bent, with your heels directly over your hips.

What is Yoga?

Yoga is the connection of the self to the self, to put it simply.  It refers to being in sync with all aspects of yourself.

yoga classes fort collins

The word yoga means "to yoke" and refers to the yoking of mind, body, spirit, and emotion through practice and through life.  While some may view the "bendy" postures and development of physical flexibility as yoga, they often time overlook the understanding of the self that these postures are designed to reveal and the flexibility that is gained through developing continuity of the self via practice.  

Yoga traditionally has 8 limbs consisting of becoming aware and mastering how we interact with others, ourselves, our physical movement, our breath, internal awareness, focus, meditative capacity, and ability to be connected to peace and ease.  Mastery of the self can only happen once we finally accept who and what we are, what we're driven to, what we find pleasure in, and all of our "shadows" from our past or present.  

yoga retreats

Live Beyond Limit and more traditional studios aim to teach you all aspects of yoga so you can enjoy more ease, abundance, and joy in life via the practice of working with yourself on all levels. 

Yoga helps us learn to live fully, freely, and peacefully within ourselves and the world.

The Bliss of Living in the Now

Mindfulness

Research and practice show time and time again that mindfulness and living in the moment helps an individual to live with physiological and emotional stress.

According to studies and recommendations from Harvard, Oxford and UC Santa Barbara mindfulness and present living helps to reduce symptoms of stress, depression and addictions and enhances working memory and recall.  Pretty cool huh?  So why don't more of us partake in this wonderful practice? What does it even mean to "live in the now" or to practice being "mindful"? I get these questions a lot from clients and friends trying to minimize the chaos and unwanted events in their lives.

It's hard to live in the now because of the chemical and energetic imprints made as reactions to the stressors in your life. We are an overstressed and under-restored population as a whole.  Chemically we should bounce back to resting states quickly, but with our culture and social structure/interactions we have a hard time getting away from the stressors.

It's hard work to stay positive and stay in the moment of each and every experience.  It take practice....a lot of practice.  Happy, realistic and optimistic people choose to be that way.  They choose to focus on what they have and the things that are going well and use problem solving and stress management tools to cope and or change the things that are less than ideal.

In the moment individuals put the cup down and empty it after each interaction they have. Think of stress like this:

How much does a glass of water feel like it weighs?  How much does it weigh an hour later? A week? A year?  It progressively gets heavier and heavier and after enough time, your arm will give out from fatigue.  That's just like you're body! (Thanks to whomever originated this parallel).  

Therefore, if you have been in a stressful situation and you've left and moved on to the next event of your day, or the next day itself, forget about the stress source and focus on your new space and the tasks at hand.  Cycling through the situation, replaying or planning the next conversation and or allowing yourself to feel awful will only distract you from your present task, rob your happiness and leave you less productive and less pleasant to be around

Feel in the moment.  Notice what you're feeling and when you're feeling it so you can start molding your situations to help you feel great. This is the practice of self-study or svadhyaya.  Notice and change your perspective or walk away from the things that make you feel awful. Engage more frequently in the situations that make you feel free, joyful and celebrated.

Be aware.  If things turn sour in a situation ask yourself "What happened? Am I being defensive? If so, why am I being defensive?  Did the mood shift because of something I said or did? Do people move away from me or towards me?"  Look to yourself in a situation first and foremost, and only if you realize that it wasn't you evaluate what you'll do about the company you're in to ensure that you are able to stay present, mindful and engaged in healthy relationships and actions.

Lastly, but certainly not least, focus on the good stuff that is happening in the moment.  Every situation has two sides, so instead of stressing about the less than ideal conditions, enjoy the great ones. Enjoy your senses, nature, company and the things that surround you each moment.

The Yamas - Ahimsa

Yoga Yamas

The Yamas are the first "limb" of yoga as concluded by Pantanjali, a famous sage who brought together the teachings behind yoga in his compilation The Yoga Sutras.  

These social observances are boiled down principles to govern your actions, motives, and behaviors as you interact not only with yourself, but with your community. We will look closely at ahimsa today, or non-harming. 

Ahimsa:  Non-Harming/ Non-Violence

Ahimsa is simply practicing to reduce physical, mental, emotional, environmental, and spiritual harm and violence.  This yama requests that you take a look at your actions and see how you can live more symbiotically with your community in order to foster health and vitality around you instead of harm and destruction.  

Practicing ahimsa in your words means using intentional communication.  Intentional communication considers all factors going into the exchange to ensure that the intention of the words spoken are able to be received and understood fully. 

 

Examples:

•   Communicate intentionally by asking: Is it true? Is it necessary? Can it be spoken to minimize harm?

•   Try to go organic – your money gives energy to the industry standards you accept

•   Buy local produce and products to minimize the use of petrochemicals in transport while boosting local economy.

•   Get plenty of sleep. Sleep is when your body recovers and rehydrates from the day prior

•   Use compassion with those who are unhappy or suffering

•   Release judgments of yourself and others

•   Create strong boundaries for yourself and others to respectfully operate within