Category Archives: Yoga

Blue Moon Transformational Health And Yoga Retreat

Besides loving yoga I really love nature. I strongly feel that living in harmony with all of the creation supports our well-being as a human community and our personal growth. January 2018 starts the new year with two full moons in one month, therefore the second moon being called a blue moon. As if that wouldn't make the timing special enough yet, there is simultaneously a full lunar eclipse happening. For me reason enough to make this time all about looking inwards and bringing awareness to the shadow aspects of our mental and emotional life. The larger cosmic cycles are a great reminder that our lives go through cycles as well - after work comes rest, after excitement a quiet moment, and back to pushing forward and then resting again. Can you see where I'm going with this?

From January 28th to February 3rd, 2018, I'll be hosting a 7-day / 6-night retreat in the gorgeous Canafistula Valley in Costa Rica, called

YAY - sign me up! => click here

https://triptribe.com/trips/blue-moon-transformational-health-and-yoga-retreat
Blue Moon Transformation Health And Yoga Retreat

and I want you to be there! This is personal - the people who decide to join this retreat are ready, internally, for a deep spiritual experience. It's not just about "hanging out". The people who take time for this trip are like you - seekers, students, open-minded, and heart-centered - that don't just practice yoga to maintain a sexy butt but as a practice for healing, personal growth, and mindfulness.

Why would you want to go on a yoga retreat? And what is all this talk about transformation and health about?

There sure are plenty absolutely amazing resorts, beautiful beaches, and other destinations out there in the world that just wait for people to come and spend a relaxing vacation with them. If that's all you long for - some time out from work, sunshine on your belly, and hanging out in a beautiful place - go for it! No hard feelings. Just know that what I'm inviting you for is so much more.

I'm committed to offering you:

  • a body cleanse with locally sourced, fresh, plant-based food
  • hold space for you to feel safe to do your inner work
  • guide you through meditations, breath work, and yoga practice to help you to realign with your true purpose
  • help you make shifts to heal old wounds, limiting beliefs, and negative self-talk
  • guide you to a positive outlook on your life, so that you can bring compassion and love to your family, work environment, community, and yourself
  • teach you about herbs, trance work, and energy healing - to help you stay balanced and centered, and make lasting changes towards a mindful lifestyle.

And that's not all! While being still and listening inwards is important for healing and soul-purpose-alignment, it is almost equally important to create excitement and joy and lots of motivation to say fully YES to life.  So, I invite you to go with me on daring tours, expanding your comfort zone and reviving your ability to get excited and feel the feelings and burst open into laughter and awe. We will visit:

  • cloud rainforest and hike over hanging bridges and zipline through the jungle
  • snorkel down into cenotes (underwater caves)
  • meet the Earth's inner fire at a volcano crater 

Sign-up BEFORE September 30th! To secure your spot you only need to pay a down-payment of $395. Find all the information about what's included and what not on the retreat page here:

https://triptribe.com/trips/blue-moon-transformational-health-and-yoga-retreat

Healing From Spinal Injury

"If it doesn't challenge you, it doesn't change you." - Fred Devito

The year 2001 was a fantastic one for me. After graduating from college, I spent the rest of the year traveling and literally dancing through my life - one month in Sevilla, Spain taking Flamenco lessons, a trip to the Greek isle of Patmos studying and developing a new performance on the path of Ancient philosophers, one month on a road trip through Southern France visiting medieval cathedrals and festivals to learn renaissance dances. I returned to Berlin in Germany to prepare for yet another great trip to perform as a dancer in South Africa. But hey, the year wasn't over yet, and one day during training, I landed a failed somersault so unfortunate that three of my vertebrae got fractured by the high impact of the fall. Plus, not just my bones got fractured, but also the spinal discs in between got damaged and their fluid leaked out.

This spinal exhibit reveals compression fractures to the T12 and l1 vertebrae with open surgical incision and spinal fusion with placement of hooks, fixation rods and bone graft material to stabilize the middle lower back.

The spinal exhibit to the left shows compression fractures of the T11, T12 and L1 vertebrae as experienced by me. Usual treatment of injuries like these would be open surgical incision and spinal fusion with placement of titanium screws into T10 and L2, fixation rods to bridge the fractured bones, and maybe additional bone graft material to stabilize the back.

It might sound like an advanced treatment. However, the surgery itself bears the risk to injure the spinal cord. The titanium stabilizer allows patients to get out of the bed and the hospital pretty soon - after only two weeks or so - but at the same time the spine will become stiff - just like the metal rods that bridge the bones. With no chance to move and be squeezed and released the spinal discs can't receive important nutrients and thus, can't regenerate. At even though patients are able to walk and be released from the hospital soon, they aren't fully mobile. In several conversations with doctors I learned that one frequently occurring issue is that when patients try to exercise or engage in physical labor such as lifting things or bowing forward, that the titanium screws break out of the bones. It's not the screw that breaks, but the bone, because the spine tries to bend and can't.

Therefore for me as a dancer surgery was the worst option ever. I stubbornly insisted to allow the bones to heal conservatively. Each tissue in our bodies regenerates at its own pace. While a bruise heals after one week, and the taste nerves of our tongues renew every two days, broken bones require four weeks to heal. I had to lay in bed for four weeks straight - no getting up allowed at all! Then I spent another six weeks in rehab, learning how to move and walk again. Under supervision of a physical therapist I exercised to build strong core muscles  and started some weight training. I swam on a slow pace half a mile every day in the sanatorium's pool, because the support of the water was more comfortable than standing upright. My entire focus was set on healing. And boy, was I happy and proud, but I was also stiff, and scared of falling again. I thought that that was it. Certain movements I would never be able to do again.

Well, things changed dramatically when I came back to a more regular yoga practice again. In baby steps, I started rebuilding inner core muscles and pelvic muscles to support my body's weight and a good posture. Through practicing gentle back bends I strengthened my back muscles, and started to mobilize my spine through twists. Forward and backward bending, twisting, and stretching helped to transport nutrients into my discs, squeezing and releasing them like little sponges. While western medicine teaches that damaged spinal discs can't regenerate, I report that mine recovered fully! Lastly, I rebuilt my confidence and overcame the fear of getting broken again through practicing head-stands.

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Sunset Yoga For Charity

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This wonderful series of open air yoga classes has been taking place for eight years to offer support for local charity through the yoga community while enjoying to practice in a beautiful place with a view over Mobile Bay during sunset.
Classes are held every 2nd and 4th Friday evening from March through October. All classes are donation based, and all proceeds go to charity. Bring your mat and a friend. All classes are beginner friendly. All well behaved kids and pets welcome.

2016 Schedule:
3/11 6:00pm Billie Reinhart- Charity Water
3/25 6:00pm Catherine Teal- Veterans Yoga Project
4/8 6:30pm Manja Podratz- Family Promise
4/22 6:30pm Angel Curtin- Alzheimer's Research
5/13 6:30pm Lynette Mattina- The Exceptional Foundation
5/27 6:30pm Sara Edens- Share the Beach Turtle Rescue
6/10 7:00pm Becky Ardrey- F.E.E.F.
6/24 7:00pm Mary Pilcher- South AL Volunteer Lawyers
7/8 7:00pm Nikki Scozzafava- Gulfcoast Waterkeepers
7/22 7:00pm Tracey Glover- ARC for All Beings
8/12 6:30pm Rebecca Washburn- The Haven
8/26 6:30pm Debbie Calvalcante- Celebrate Recovery
9/9 6:00pm April Ladner- St. Jude's Children's Hospital
9/23 6:00pm Sally Hollon- Feeding the Gulf Coast
10/14 5:00pm Anjie Gonzalez- AVRAL Animal Legislation
10/28 5:00pm Caitlyn Jordan- Habitat for Humanity

LOCATION:
Above the Fairhope Pier, (1 Beach Rd. in Fairhope, AL ) on the bluff. Before going down the hill to the pier, turn right and park on Magnolia Ave. This place is more private, quiet and off the road. We will be practicing under the oaks that are beautifully lit at night.
** If the park space is already being used for a wedding, rehearsal,etc., we will move south toward the previous location, by the Marietta Johnson Statues.**

RAIN LOCATION: Fairhope United Methodist Church Christian Life Center in the back parking lot behind the main building, 155 S Section St.

EVEN HOST:
Billie Reinhart, RYT, LMT
251-379-4493
http://thrivefairhope.com/yoga-for-charity/

Know teachers left out or interested? Invite them!
If you didn't receive an email, add yourself to the teacher's list!

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Turning inwards for spiritual growth or toning the body for endless youth? What now is this yoga all about? 

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The physical benefits of yoga are countless. It seems to work for pretty much everything from weight loss to strengthening the core muscles, protecting the spine and joints, stimulating the glands, getting more flexible, detoxifying the entire body, balancing the nervous system - to name just a few of the positive effects. No wonder it has become one the fastest growing fitness movements in the United States.

Really, a fitness method has survived for over 3000 years? So did the Olympic Games, well they exist for about 2700 years. Can it simply be that we humans tend to glorify our bodies when we drive ourselves to top performances? Even more astonishing and attractive is it that there are so many examples of older people, and survivors of illnesses and accidents who practice yoga and seem to get stronger and more glowing with every year they keep pulling their legs behind their ears. Wow, and did you see what all they do at the yoga competitions?

Is that it? Did I understand it fully? Or maybe, is there more to it, a deeper meaning that adds a whole new approach to the practice?

First, there is no competition in yoga! Every student is on his or her own path, at his own pace, at her temporary and ever-changing level of understanding, in each moment, from moment to moment. The emphasis on asana practice, and thus on the body, is a false prioritizing of only one of the eight limbs of yoga.

Why is that? What’s wrong with getting stronger and physically more attractive? Absolutely nothing, as long as it is about living healthy, keeping the body pure, and enjoying the beauty of life. But, in order to be complete, it needs a deeper, harmonizing, humbling meaning, otherwise the risk to feed solely into the ego, and turn into a narcissist is very high. No, yoga is not about self-realization - and all that comes with it: self-care, self-happiness, self-love, self-empowerment. All those are aspects of the practice, are on one end of the scale. On the other end there is Self-realization - and all that comes with it: compassion, union, non-attachment, non-judging, love, devotion, eternity.

The vedic and tantric scriptures bequeathed vast wisdom to us, and Patanjali compiled 4 volumes of yoga sutras which provided the standard guidelines to follow for every yogic apprentice over centuries. The sutras (Patanjali) teach us that everything is in constant flux, changing - what we think to have mastered today might appear like a first chapter tomorrow, what we assume we will never be able to accomplish, might just happen effortless tomorrow. The goal is to quiet the mind in order to see the real picture clearly. Like a lake would make a perfect mirror when all waves are gone and its surface becomes completely calm - in this way we shall quiet our minds. In this way, we shall not worship our bodies, but surrender body, mind, and soul to a higher, divine purpose.

But how to convey these teachings to a modern Western student?

It starts with facing prejudices against yoga: “I don’t wanna convert to Hinduism for yoga”, “What are all these weird sanskrit names about?”, “When you started doing that OM thing, that’s when you lost me”. While yoga is a spiritual practice, asking us to cultivate ethical principles and deeply longing for a higher purpose, and a connection with the Self, our divine source, it is not a religion asking us to worship a specific God or deity. While it has its roots in India, and thus historically there are connections to the Hindu concept of how our world is set up, the teachings of yoga are universal.

If every yoga student in the West would practice only the first two limbs of yoga, and incorporate the yamas and niyamas into daily life, there would be no need to defend nor explain the deeper purpose of the practice. In fact, it would restore yoga as a striving to become a better person, and not just trying to make oneself feel better.

So, for now, let’s look at what the yamas and niyamas are. They are ethical principles that every spiritual teacher since the dawn of humankind seemed to have tried to get across to us:

The five yamas are wise characteristics we seek to develop to create health and happiness for us and others, our society:

1. Ahimsa – Compassion for all living things, non-violence, having a thoughtful and kind attitude to all living beings.

2. Satya – Commitment to Truthfulness, and the discernment to know when to speak the truth and when to remain silent.

3. Asteya – Non-stealing, not taking advantage of people or things.

4. Brahmacharya – Sense control, an modest and peaceful attitude of the mind toward all sense objects.

5. Aparigraha – Neutralizing the desire to acquire and hoard wealth, taking only what is necessary, only what we have earned.

The five niyamas are the personal attitude we adopt towards ourselves so that we may live more soulfully:

1. Sauca – Purity, both inside and out. It means we keep our bodies clean, we practice asana and pranayama to clean the insides of our bodies, and we practice meditation to cleanse the mind of it’s disturbing emotions like hate, greed, delusion and pride.

2. Santosa – Contentment. Simply being happy with what we do have. Being happy in child rather than unhappy we can’t do wheel.

3. Tapas – Disciplined use of our energy.

4. Svadhyaya – Self study, cultivating self-reflective consciousness so that we can truly see who we are – shadow and light.

5. Isvarapranidhana – Celebration of the Spiritual, laying all our actions at the feet of God. Surrendering to Divine Will.

“Atha Yoganushasanam”, Sutra 1.1 (Patanjali) - Now unfolds yoga.

(For more see Kara-Leah Grant, theyogalunchbox.co.nz)

New class: Chakra Yoga

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Have you ever been curious if there'd be more to "it"? Join me for my new class, Mondays at noon at Synergy Pilates and Yoga, to diver deeper into your body's subtle energy system.

The seven chakras, or energy centers, concentrate and distribute refined life-force energy throughout the body. Knowledge and experiencing of this subtle energy system empowers us to maintain balance and harmony on the physical, mental and spiritual level.

Each chakra is associated with a certain part of the body and a certain organ which it provides with the energy it needs to function. Additionally, just as every organ in the human body has its equivalent on the mental and spiritual level, so too every chakra corresponds to a specific aspect of human behavior and emotional harmony. If you are like most of us your energetic ecosystem could use some help. Yoga postures are a great way to release energy blockades.

In this class you will be guided through practices that open and activate each chakra through postures, bioenergetic exercises, breathing practices, guided meditation, and visualization to cleanse, balance, and open your chakras. Modifications and variations are offered to suit diverse bodies and abilities.

chakras-line

Gratitude

Giving thanks, feeling grateful - what does that mean and why is it important for your yoga practice? Embracing gratitude can be one of the many starting points for a spiritual practice. Counting your blessings is an act of being present. Be thankful right here and now. Instead of chasing your future, and focussing on still to be accomplished goals, use expressing thanks to bring your awareness to the present moment.  Sometimes it is necessary to consciously acknowledge that there are things in our lives that we can be thankful for. By givings thanks you fully receive your blessings. By taking things for granted and not appreciating them, you don't fully receive them. They kinda hover somewhere in unconscious areas of your mind. This way it can happen that you have everything that you need to be happy right in front of you without even noticing it. By staying in an unconscious mode you miss out. It is not just about being polite and say "thank you" to another person that did you a favor or brought you a present. It is about fully acknowledging and thus appreciating how rich our lives are. This way we allow joy and love and happiness to fill us. So, by starting with being thankful, you instantly gain joy, and the feeling of being loved, and the ability to love back, and the encouragement that life is good. This way, by humbly embracing all positive experiences, people, and things in the present moment, you connect mind and heart, and gain access to the abundance of life. Pass it on!

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Balance Strength Stillness

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"Calming the mind is yoga, not just standing on the head." - Swami Satchidananda

Yoga teaches us to be aware of the present moment. Just by that, when we become fully present, all our emotional, physical, and mental obstacles appear as what they are - finite issues compared to the infinite beauty of the Self.

Physical wellbeing has a positive effect on our emotions. The right mindset can help us to overcome physical limitation. When we are feeling physically strong and healthy, our mental health improves as well, allowing us to better cope with challenges that life throws at us, and thus living more joyfully.

In a similar way the eight limbs of yoga build upon each other. They include applied ethics, breathing techniques, asana, meditation, and selfless service. Even if you practice just one of them, you are already on the path towards liberation. Practiced together they create balanced emotions, a strong body, and a calm mind - and help us to fulfill our lives purpose.