Last weekend was special for Zobha for many different reasons. We were thrilled to meet our extremely supportive and loyal community. Thank you to everyone for being a part of the weekend. A special thank you to those who attended our community class on Sunday taught by Wendy Wyvill, Zobha Circle of Grace Member and renowned instructor from Pure Yoga in Hong Kong.
We invited fifteen students from Headstand, a nonprofit we support with 10% of sales of the Grace Tank that integrates yoga into the curriculum of under-resourced schools. Before the class, Wendy invited Katherine Priore, Zobha Circle of Grace Member and Founder of Headstand, to share the organization’s mission and two students who shared their personal yoga experiences with us. The stories left everyone touched and the whole experience was simply unforgettable. Everyone left feeling truly inspired and invigorated by a strong sense of community.
If you attended the class, please share your personal experiences with us. If you didn’t make it to the class but were at the conference, we’d love to hear about your weekend.
Our next yoga community class will be at the Yoga Journal New York Conference. We hope to see you there!
Rima Thierry based in Los Angeles, CA has been awarded the Grace of Giving Scholarship to study in the Pure Teacher Training at Equinox in Fall 2010. We are incredibly grateful to introduce Rima. Here she shares her life experiences through her video and touching essay:
On Finding Yoga
“I often tell my friends and family that I figure out my life on my yoga mat. For some reason, just unrolling my mat – the sound of it unsticking, the smell of my yoga studio – helps me come to my breath and realize that everything is as it should be. I hold my practice close to my heart, and feel most myself when in my yoga clothes, barefoot, on my mat, with beads of sweat dripping down my nose. It is hard for me to choose a favorite asana, because as I’m sure many yogis experience, my body craves different poses depending on the day. One of the asanas that connects me most to my inner grace is King Dancer Pose, or Natarajasana. Natarajasana allows me to feel tall and graceful, and with my chest expanded and my heart open I find that it creates an amazing amount of space for my breath. At the same time, being a balancing pose, King Dancer demands an immense amount of focus. As it is often the case with balancing poses, the pose allows me to truly assess the condition of my mind and my body on that particular day. Natarajasana will always check me if I am pushing too hard, or thinking about what to cook for dinner during my practice. It demands me to slow my practice down, and soak in all the goodness yoga has to offer. In King Dancer I am long and graceful, and my heart is open the world and all its opportunities.”
On Rima’s Involvement with Medical Relief Work
“I have been involved in medical relief work for the last five years, coordinating treatment for sick children who cannot afford and/or do not have access to health care. I am planning on incorporate my yoga training in my volunteer/ not-for-profit work and using my teacher training to bring yoga to people that may not otherwise have access to it, or may not seek it out themselves. I am especially interested in providing sick children and their caregivers the tools to overcome their challenges through the mindfulness and wellness practices grounded in yoga.”
On Receiving Grace of Giving Scholarship
“I am incredibly honored and grateful to have received the Zobha Grace of Giving Scholarship. My yoga practice means so much to me, and I am excited to finally be able to pass the gift of yoga on to others. I hope to approach my teacher training as I approach my practice- with patience and non-judgment, a quiet mind, and an open heart.”
Stay connected with Rima on her teacher training journey as we share her experiences at Pure Yoga Teacher Training at Equinox in Los Angeles, CA.
Posted by Shannon Paige Schneider, Zobha Circle of Grace Member
At the age of twenty-one, I was diagnosed with cancer. The path to health was messy at best and seemed to be one without any sense of grace. I experienced days, weeks, and months on end of pain and complications and tears and tears and tears.
I thought of all of the things I SHOULD have done to miraculously avoid the diagnosis. I thought of what I SHOULD do to obtain an illness-free future. I thought what I WOULD do differently if only I COULD soften the weight of illness, sadness, and suffering.
Shoulda’ Woulda’ Coulda’. It was not until I found the practice of my breath and body that these three little words began to lose their hold on my perspective. Yoga escorted me into the dark and bright spaces of my own experience. The poses asked me to see how I respond to myself and others, how I view the word “strength”, and what I was willing to accept as the truth of my story, perspective, hopes, and dreams.
Yoga invites us to participate fully with our own sense of personal resonance, health and wellbeing. Down Dog does not take away the pain of personal evolution; rather it asks us to explore on an ever-deepening level exactly what is at stake in every breath, moment, movement, and response to stressful or joyous stimuli. It asks us to choose, to learn to respond rather than react – in spite of what we SHOULD have, WOULD have, or COULD have done differently.
So the next time you feel like sitting and shaming yourself with a SHOULDA’, WOULDA’, COULDA’; realize that you are already there, here. Choose. Choose to participate and welcome yourself into your very own life!
Shannon Paige Schneider is an author, sacred activist, inspired life coach, and dedicated teacher of Shiva Rea’s Prana Flow Vinyasa Yoga. She interweaves her students’ unique purpose driven inspiration into the divine play of body and breath to unlock the secret wisdom held within the heart. Shannon is the founder and yoga director of om time yoga centers and Anjali Restorative Yoga. Shannon recently taught a Zobha – sponsored Breast Cancer Awareness class to raise awareness, energy, and the vibration of health and wellness for those affected by a diagnosis of cancer. To learn more about Shannon and where she will be teaching next, go to her blog.
Over the next week, we’re going to share yoga tips from our Circle of Grace members. Keep yourself in check with the right alignment and instruction.
Kino MacGregor, of Miami Life Center, shares this YouTube video on how to jump back in Padmasana. Not only does she give you a step-by-step demonstration, but she looks good wearing her Zobha outfit too!
Kino MacGregor is dedicated to carrying the torch of Ashtanga yoga throughout the world and sharing the amazing tradition of Ashtanga yoga with everyone who is inspired to practice. Kino will be traveling around the world (literally) this Fall including Italy, China, and Japan just in the month of September. To learn more about Kino and where you can find her, go to kinoyoga.com.
For 2010, Zobha has focused its community efforts in a partnership with Headstand, a program that brings yoga to the classrooms of youth at risk. Founder of Headstand, Katherine Priore, blogs about her journey.
When I was an eighth grade English teacher, Sunday nights were sleepless. I developed a serious case of acne then, an irksome emblem of my anxiety. Witnessing my stress, my childhood friend Kathleen intervened and insisted I take her yoga class. I thought she was nuts. I didn’t have time to take a yoga class—I needed to respond to student writing. I needed to organize collaborative groups for the 8th grade. I needed to go to Borders and buy more books for my kids because we only had 10 copies of Of Mice and Men for 120 students.
In the end, Kathleen won. Thank God. It turned out to be one of the most profound yoga classes I’ve experienced to date, providing a glimpse of awareness – me without the anxiety and fear that had consumed much of my internal life that year. I wanted more.
Learning how to relax and finding sanctuary in my own body created a surprising impact on my teaching. Not much else had changed other than my own presence in the room, but suddenly the students were more engaged, they were producing more work, and everyone was having more fun.
While I wasn’t cut out to stay in the classroom as an English teacher, I did remain in the field of education. Seven years into my career I landed in a yoga teacher training. The idea of sharing the practice of yoga with kids gripped me.
With visions of a classroom of kiddos in dhanurasana, I wondered: What if we taught our children to value balance, self-awareness, and courage at school, hand-in-hand with the analytical skills of math? What if every student was exposed to yoga and awareness strategies as part of school day curriculum? Would this practice be able to serve kids who might lack boundaries and emotional support at home?
I decided to see for myself and created a non-profit dedicated to spearheading the yoga in schools movement: Headstand. Now I am in my second year teaching full-time to middle school students in a KIPP (Knowledge is Power Program) school. KIPP is a national network of free, open-enrollment, college-preparatory public schools dedicated to preparing students in underserved communities for success in college and life.
Catapulted into the throes of middle-school culture again, the content of my day constantly surprises me and often delights. This morning the seventh and eighth grade practiced in punk-rock garb for Spirit Week, yesterday a student asked me if a backbend counted as an inversion because your head is below your heart, and a few months ago one of my 10 year old students asked genuinely, “How do you keep your soul with you for more than just one hour?”
The road is long ahead, but Sunday nights I sleep like a baby.
In March 2010, Zobha sponsored Breathe, Laugh and Pray – A benefit for Headstand with Circle of Grace member, Stephanie Snyder – at Yoga Tree Castro, San Francisco. For recap and pictures from the event, click here.
The word “Inspiration” is derived from Middle English to express the experience of ‘Divine Guidance’.
In February 2006, I left a relationship of 14 years. Throughout the last 4 years, my connection to the aforementioned words has been nothing less than the most magnificent roller coaster ride.
Ending my relationship, I left behind the identity that had become my prison. Don’t get me wrong. I was safe, and comfortable. I wanted nothing, but needed freedom and space. The confines of my relationship with the most wonderful person had begun to strangle me. Safe, stable and comfortable are words that I would never have used in describing my life prior to this relationship. The lifestyle of uncertainty and comfort of change is how I was raised. I missed the familiarity of the unfamiliar. In order for me to grow, I had to go.
I think I felt this realization on a cellular level before I took action. I stuffed away my emotions of doubt and eventually became a shell of myself. Finally, I had no choice. My body told me it was time to go, ready or not. Sometimes we can prepare for the earthquakes, sometimes we see them coming. They still have the power to shake us to our very core, and completely change our landscape. Other times we are blind-sided by that lone phone call which, within an instant, changes our lives. So, what is the recipe for making it through? How do we gather the courage to release from comfort or an unhealthy environment and leap into the ring of change, the ring of fire?
For me, I had to recognize that through the cracks there was a great light shining, a light that was fueled by spirit itself. Ultimately I had buried my light all on my own. No one else can do this for you or to you. We give away our power, it isn’t taken from us. I had to remember that being Empowered comes from within. It was up to me to go through rather than around the fire. So I did. I moved out of the house that I owned with my partner, I took nothing with me but my clothes. I moved consistently without laying down roots for the next 3 years.
It was at one of my temporary homes that I opened my first package of Zobha clothing. My friend, and now fellow Circle of Grace member, Shannon Paige Schneider had recommended that I would be a good example of Zobha’s message. I felt the farthest from this! However, when I wore my Zobha, I felt feminine, connected, and graceful for the first time in a very long time. It felt so good.
As I traveled and connected with my extended yoga family, everyone noted the difference in me. They said I looked lighter. I felt lighter, I was lighter. I realized that I had felt like a fraud. Mostly because I was! I wasn’t living my truth, following my Sva-Dharma, my heart’s true purpose. Now that I had begun pursuing this it was clear that it wasn’t an option.
We must recognize that the feelings of safety, stability and comfort can only truly come from within. No matter where I am or what the resources may be, I have the deep depths of my well of faith, perseverance, grace and strength to draw from.
Our yoga practice can heal the deepest wounds. Sometimes it is our practice that reveals where the wounds are residing. By recognizing where our imbalances are, we can create a practice that correlates to the energetic body or Chakra(s) that need nourishment. Through this balance and strength we are prepared to face whatever the Universe provides.
I get incredible joy from teaching yoga, from my holistic (mental) health practice. I aim to cultivate an environment that fosters healing and integrating not only body, mind and spirit, but inspiration, faith and truth. Live your Truth. This is my passion and my ‘Divine Guidance’.
Coral Brown, is a certified senior teacher and teacher trainer for Shiva Rea’s Prana Flow Yoga. She leads retreats, workshops, and teacher trainings worldwide.
Posted by: Circle of Grace Member, Shannon Paige Schneider
My mother would laugh at me as a child and marvel at my creativity with language. I would sometimes hear words as I heard them and offer definitions that I felt made contextual sense. I would make words and their definitions my own.
“Empowerment” was one of those words. I remember hearing it and in the conversation it seemed clear to me that the power in question was something that made a person feel good on the INSIDE. I began to use the four-syllable word in the everyday, feeling really, REALLY, really big in my little boots.
Only, I was saying, “IN-powerment.”
My mom asked me to qualify it once. She cocked her head to one side and said, “You know, I think you are right.” So she did not correct me. In fact, she NEVER let on at all. I do not actually remember who DID finally point out the snafu but it kind of stuck with me my whole life and I think about it every once in a while when I feel small, contracted, or a little uninspired.
Who does NOT like to be powered on the inside? Who does not like to feel lit up and in the seat of solid decisions and following truth, joy, inspiration, and intuition?
Everyone can operate from a sense of internal power. This is actually the sustainable state. It is like GREENING one’s decisions and life-lived patterns. When we live without this, our energy falls, we push ourselves to the limit and burnout, exhaustion, fatigue, and depression are not far behind.
Power is something very different from force, though both can be internalized and can find a strong presence in the day-to-day. We can force ourselves to sit in front of a situation and take it in. We can force ourselves to show up in a situation where we are diminished or told we are not enough, screwed up, somehow not quite right. We can force ourselves to act as though we feel a certain way to attain a certain outcome. We can force a decision to feel right and righteous. We can simply force for the sake of force.
OR, we can soften and listen to the questions we are asking inside. We can soften and listen to the vibrations of grace we are answering to ourselves on the inside. When we soften and tap into the way life and love and energy moves through us, we realize that it is our nature to live in connection to an expanding universe. In lining up to that pulse of expansion, remembrance and placing ourselves in tandem to universal embrace, we too power up from the inside.
We find ourselves IN-powered.
When IN-powered, we are much less likely to make a decision for a small outcome. When IN-powered we don’t really feel the need to push a single agenda. When IN-powered, we look for grace, goodness, and a win-win in service to the expansion of the universe herself. When we live in a state of IN-powerment, there is less fear, there is more creativity and there are rows and rows and rows of more love blossoms blooming. When we are IN-powered, we give unconscious permission for others to do and live the same.
So the exercise is to sit, to soften, to listen, to re-spond rather than re-act and therein lies the work of a lifetime. However, the power certainly outweighs any sense of force, leverage, or sense of unsustainable lack.
Make a list of all those activities you have in your day that lift you up. Make a list of all those people in your life who make you feel held, safe, and present. Do you realize that these people, places, things all live in the vibration of you, your memory, your body, your capacity to connect? At ANY one time, you, me, we can turn within and see them, feel them, know that they are part of us from the inside out. We are, therefore, constantly IN-powered by those we love.
Here’s to living IN-powered.
Shan, as she is known to her students and friends, is the founder and muse of om time. She is an activist, an eternal optimist, and a lover of the flow of grace within everyone. Shannon has been featured in Alternative Health Magazine and Yoga International. She leads weekly classes in Boulder and Denver, as well as workshops, intensives, teacher trainings and retreats nationally and internationally.
Shannon will be teaching a Zobha-sponsored community class along with fellow Circle of Grace member, Coral Brown, at the Yoga Journal Boston Conference on April 10, 2010 from 1-2PM. For more information on the community class, see our events page - http://www.zobha.com/t-events.aspx
The experience of your first yoga class feels like embarking on a mysterious adventure into a whole new terrain. As your curiosity peers into the incense-filled hallways lined with Ganesh and Shiva the open-hearted calm beckons you to travel into your own sacred inner realm. The seductive power of yoga is an addictive calling to go deeper into yourself. Once you experience firsthand how magical yoga is, all resistance becomes futile.
Regardless of your intention, when you plant the first seeds of your lotus flower, the transformative power of this ancient spiritual science works on a deep level of your being. Many people start yoga for fitness reasons only to find that yoga changes their lives in ways far beyond the physical. Even if you are not a true believer and only wish to receive the physical health benefits of yoga, merely attending a yoga class regularly will have a lasting impact on your life. The beauty of the physical yoga postures is that you do not actually need to believe in them in order for the healing power of yoga to work. Hatha yoga approaches the transformation of the human spirit from the body first and then works its way subtly through to the mind and soul. The body itself is an avenue to the spiritual that works from the inside out. As you water the seeds of padmasana, the full blooming lotus opens in your mind and soul.
Entering the new world of yoga is the first conscious step to live a more peaceful life. The initiatory phase of yoga is your chance to powerful create your life moment to moment and live your highest potential every day. As a neophyte, it is important to remember that it is natural to feel overwhelmed when you realize just how demanding spiritual discipline really is. Rather than a recreational activity that you can keep separate from your life, yoga asks you to transform your whole life to abide by yogic principles. If at first you find yourself drawn to the physical display of power in advanced asana, you quickly see that the heart of yoga reaches far deeper than the postures themselves. Indeed the asanas are only used to purify the body, practice meditative states of unified consciousness and prepare the physical form to be a home for divinity in the world of mind and matter. The more advanced asanas are not ends in and of themselves. Instead the real work of yoga happens on the inner body and is actually the seed of your own enlightenment beginning to flower.
Like an open invitation to the spiritual path, yoga never places commandments on practitioners from above. When you start practicing yoga, the body itself becomes more sensitive and then asks you to live a more pure lifestyle. While the moral and ethic codes of a yogic lifestyle ask practitioners to be an instrument of kindness, compassion and healing in the world, the choice to live a peaceful life is meant to be a sincere feeling that each practitioners feels for themselves before acting upon it. Practicing asana makes the body more sensitive so that you feel more clearly the impact that unhealthy behavior, negative thoughts and destructive emotions have on you. Yoga never tells you what you can and cannot do. It is a path of liberation not bondage. It is a path of direct knowingness rather than rules and edicts. The practice of yoga itself opens your body and mind to desire wholly a new way of being, living and interacting with yourself and others. It is the heightening of your own awareness that facilitates the transformation. You change not because your teacher tells you to but because yoga opens the door to a new way of being that you choose to walk through with joy, ease and grace. The journey into the lotus heart of yoga is a lifelong spiritual practice that bears flowers in this life and beyond.
Faced with the seemingly insurmountable goal of ultimate enlightenment many new students doubt their ability to ever progress along the arduous path of yoga. They look at their teachers or other accomplished practitioners and wonder how they will ever get from their relative feeling of confusion to the clarity, grace and precision they see in the masterful art form of yoga. Yet small seeds do not doubt whether they will become trees. They trust the natural process of evolution and growth that takes them from seeds to sprouting seedlings to flowering, fruitful trees. With proper nutrients, care and love, the flower of your inner lotus is sure to grow to maturity in the fertile soil of your own consciousness. Every accomplished yogi today has benefitted from the guidance of their teachers and been nurtured by the yoga community. Every yoga teacher today has also nourished their own journey with their own dedication and devotion. If you are a new students of yoga remember that you hold the key to the power of yoga. It is in your own heart that the seed of spiritual investigation must take root, watered by the flow of your own consciousness. When you embark on your own operation lotus, know that this journey is a timeless one that never ends – it only deepens. Small treasures abound when you attempt challenging postures that seem impossible that with time, dedication and guidance, evolve into possibility.