Monday, June 1, 2015

Yoga teachers are often asked the question, "How many times each week should I practice?"

Yoga teachers are often asked the question, "How many times each week should I practice?"

Any practice will be a beneficial experience, but we encourage new students to develop a consistent practice by aiming for 2-4 classes per week.  

Yoga can feel foreign at first, but after a month of regular weekly classes, your body will be accustomed to the general postures and breathing techniques of a class and you will be comfortable moving in new ways.  Classes are especially valuable for the new student, as you will be taught proper alignment as you learn flowing sequences of poses. 

After you have taken a few classes, you may start to feel comfortable enough to practice at home!   Doing even 15 minutes of Sun Salutations or stretching on the days you cannot make it to class is an incredible compliment to your in-studio practice.  

In the first few months of your yoga journey, you will likely begin to see changes in strength, flexibility, weight or posture.  You may also become aware of more subtle positive changes in your ability to focus, manage stress or sleep peacefully.   These are great incentives to continue to practice, and for many, the yoga mat becomes a beneficial place to check in daily and examine and improve health and wellbeing at the deepest level. 

All of our classes at om my yoga are designed to offer you a well-rounded practice experience.  The majority of our classes are vinyasa yoga, or "flowing/breath based" yoga.  Aerial yoga utilizes the same breathing and flowing techniques from vinyasa, but adds partial or full support from silk hammocks throughout postures.  Yin is a deep stretching restorative practice that will greatly improve your range of motion, Barre-fusion is amazing to improve balance and Pilates focuses on the core, adding strength to every posture and movement.   

"Some things you have to do every day. Eating seven apples on Saturday night instead of one a day just isn't going to get the job done." 
~ Jim Rohn 

Happy 4th birthday om my yoga!  We are grateful to everyone who has supported the studio so that we can continue to serve the community and bring yoga, holistic health and movement to Camp Hill and now Harrisburg! 
Love and light,
Rachel Wilson

Friday, May 1, 2015

A message from Rachel Wilson...

A life of non-violence. 

Ahimsa, which can be translated as "non-violence", is the first of the yamas, ethical foundations that make up Patanjali's eight-limbed path of Yoga as outlined in the Yoga Sutras.  According to Mahatma K. Gandhi,
"Ahimsa means not to injure any creature by thought, word or deed. True ahimsa should mean a complete freedom from ill- will and anger and hate and an overflowing love for all. Ahimsa is the attribute of the soul and therefore to be practiced by everybody in all the affairs of life."

In the Sutras themselves, Patanjali addresses the origins of violence and the method to put it to rest.  "Negative thoughts give rise to violence...they are caused by greed, anger or delusion...Through introspection comes the end of pain and ignorance." (Yoga Sutras II.34)  

According to Patanjali, we do not have to identify with our negative thoughts, and can turn our focus from existing programming and patterns, to intentionally focus on compassion, self-study and care for humanity.
In "An Open Heart: Practicing Compassion in Everyday Life," The Dalai Lama describes this type of active engagement with the prinicple of nonviolence:
"Nonviolence does not mean that we remain indifferent to a problem. On the contrary, it is important to be fully engaged. However, we must behave in a way that does not benefit us alone. We must not harm the interests of others. Nonviolence therefore is not merely the absence of violence. It involves a sense of compassion and caring. It is almost a manifestation of compassion. I strongly believe that we must promote such a concept of nonviolence at the level of the family as well as at the national and international levels. Each individual has the ability to contribute to such compassionate nonviolence. 

How should we go about this? We can start with ourselves. We must try to develop greater perspective, looking at situations from all angles. Usually when we face problems, we look at them from our own point of view. We even sometimes deliberately ignore other aspects of a situation. This often leads to negative consequences. However, it is very important for us to have a broader perspective.

We must come to realize that others are also part of our society. We can think of our society as a body, with arms and legs as parts of it. Of course, the arm is different from the leg; however, if something happens to the foot, the hand should reach down to help. Similarly, when something is wrong within our society, we must help."

I wish for everyone in the om my yoga community to have wonderful month and soak in the beauty of Spring.  I hope to see many of you at one or both of the studios and always appreciate your support when you attend our classes and events.  I pray that this month, your inner peace runs so deeply that your compassion spreads out into a world in deep need of love and healing.

"Returning violence for violence multiplies violence,
adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness:
only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that."

~Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Last month, Dr. Masaru Emoto, the brilliant water researcher, passed away peacefully at age 71.  It has been reported that his last word was "Arigato," or "Thank you" in Japanese.  

Emoto's mesmerizing pictures of water crystals, exposed to different vibrations and then frozen and photographed, as well as his vast research, have helped our generation to understand the extraordinary impact of thoughts, words, and intention can have on water crystals. Since over 50% of our bodies, and an even more significant portion of our earth is made of water, the impact his findings make on issues such as individual and collective consciousness as well as personal and world peace is immense.

One of the best ways to apply the power of intentional thought to enrich our lives is to replace lower-vibration thoughts and habitual negative attitudes with more postitive ones.  This does not mean we should deny our feelings.  In fact, your new positive outlook will be more authentic if you take some time to discharge the negative emotions first.  This can often be done on the physical level, by taking a walk or spending some quality time on your yoga mat.  Try a reiki session for deeper energetic release, or journaling to let go of problems and difficult thoughts on a mental level.     Once the intensity of our emotions is diffused, we can work to fill in the space with something more uplifting.

Gratitude is a helpful replacement for patterns of fear, discontentment or entitlement.   When we focus on what we are thankful for, there is less mind-space for more negative emotions that can lower our energetic vibration, leading to disease, depression and mental fatigue.  Just as by changing our actions, we can create positive habits in our external world, we can also re-wire our thinking patterns by habitually choosing to think about, concentrate on or meditate on gratidude.  Many would even agree that the mind that is full of thanksgiving has very little room emotions like fear, worry or regret.

Here are some practical ways to choose gratitude this month:

1.  Gratitude list:  Make a list of 30 things you are thankful for.  This powerful practice can lift you out of a deep mental rut and remind you of the little things that make life worth living.

2.  Daily gratitude affirmation - Each morning, look in the mirror and say, "I release all chains to the past and let go of all worry about the future.  I choose to open my eyes and heart with gratitude, to the blessings and opportunities of this day.

3.  Say "thank you!"  Gratitude is contagious.  This month, choose someone every day for a week who has touched your life.  Give them a call, a note or even an email to express your thankfulness with authenticity.  This will lift their spirit - AND yours.

Wishing all of you a month of abundance and thanksgiving.  

I am so very grateful for each of YOU!

See you at OM....

With Love,
Rachel Wilson

Friday, October 10, 2014

Letting go lightly  As I observe the changing of the leaves, I know that they will soon begin to fall to the earth after their last magnificent display of color.  With this daily reminder of release, I cannot help but consider the impermanence of each season, and admire the ease with which the trees accept the cycles of life and simply let go.  As humans, we often find ourselves fighting transition, clinging to what used to be or ruminating about what might have been instead of letting go of our old attachments and embracing change.   Often, we cling to our baggage in order to avoid the sensation of experiencing new pain, or because we feel entitled to our burdens, consciously or subconsciously attempting to utilize our past to define and protect the image we have created of ourselves.   In reality, the energy that we waste holding on to old grudges, relationships that have ended or emotions or habits that no longer serve to enhance our lives detracts from our ability to clearly experience the important aspects of the present moment and blocks us from potential opportunity, abundance and joy. Practice letting go: Life contains with it countless opportunities to let go, whether we are ready or not.  To develop resilience and cultivate the ease with which you can release, start with these three simple practices. 

 1.  Asana (Posture) practice - Gently stretch your shoulders and neck, paying careful attention to this common area where our bodies tend to store stress. Gently circle the shoulders, roll the neck and imagine your pain/burden/issue dissolving.  

 2.  Pranayama (Breathing) practice - Take a few deep breaths, and feel the physical relief that ensues upon a prolonged exhalation.  Breathing with an awareness of the belly and chest targets the area where we tend to store grief.  Exhaling fully can release toxins and allow us to loosen the grip from emotional pain.  

 3.  Emotional release practice - Remember, emotions are an ever changing aspect of our life experience, but they do not define us at the core of who we are.  Notice if you tend to say, "I am sad," or "I am tired."  Try replacing these phrases with ones like "I FEEL hungry" or "I FEEL concerned."  Realize that in times of transition, emotions may be strong.  Developing the mentality of the witness that observes emotions without becoming swept away with them is a powerful tool in the practice of learning to let go. When we no longer identify with our emotions, we can discharge them from our energy body more efficiently through practices like 1 and 2.  

 Practice letting go in the little ways so that when life presents a challenge, you are ready to let go in the big ways. Begin to trust the process of the universe, and surrender to what is. The past is over and the future is yet to come, and we do not know what it will hold. Can you let go of what you had, or of the life you thought you would live, without putting up a wall to the opportunities that are now, and to come? Can you allow a door to close in your face without allowing disappointment to close your heart? Can you let go of the pain of the past in order to journey lighter into the future? This fall, release lightly and let go with ease. Look at the beauty of the trees and follow their example, offering what is past and trust in the growth that will occur in seasons to come.  If all else fails, please enjoy this clip from FROZEN ;)

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Happy September! 
 I hope you have all had a fantastic summer. We spent much of ours traveling and sharing acrobatic, aerial and vinyasa yoga all over the east coast, and are happy to be settled in for a great fall season back at OM! Thank you to everyone who kept the studio packed with good energy and full classes all summer long. We are inspired by those who continue to practice with us as each season rolls by. It is a joy to see the changes that happen in our bodies, minds and even schedules when we make time for daily practice and I hope you will join us for many inspiring classes this month. 
 If you haven't had a chance, check out our upcoming Acrobatic Yoga crash course. This 4-session long class is a fantastic opportunity if you would like to take your practice (literally) to the next level! 
 We also have a few spots left in the Aerial Yoga Teacher training that is scheduled to begin this October. Please email to reserve your place! 
 With a new season comes new opportunities to shift focus, make changes, and set intentions. Take a look at our diverse studio schedule and make your class plans now, at the beginning of the month, to set yourself up for a season of growth! 
 See you on the mat.
 Much Love,

Monday, June 30, 2014

Dear Friends,

This month we celebrate our independence. On the Fourth of July, many of us will gather with friends and family to embrace, reflect on and party about our right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. 
  Moksha is a Sanskrit word meaning "liberation." When we realize that we have within us the ability to embrace life's many abundant gifts with gratitude and accept even difficult challenges as opportunities to grow, there is no longer any need to chase or "pursue" happiness at all. Then we are free from the cycle of desire, attachment, and aversion, and we have an opportunity to experience the bliss that comes from within instead of without. 
  Often, even in the "land of the free," we live our lives ensnared by self-limiting beliefs and patterns, perpetually doing things that are not in our best interests, often out of fear or self doubt. We carry our negative habits and worrisome stressors in our bodies as well, and can often sense that we are physically limited or rigid before making the connection that our bodies are only reflecting the condition of our inner world. 
  Yoga asana (posture) practice is a great way to begin to experience personal freedom. When restricted shoulders experience full range of motion and chronic tightness in the hips starts to unravel, we see that letting go of our physical restriction is liberating. This often leads to a powerful domino effect of release in other aspects of our lives. 
  When we let go of the mind that chases after fleeting pleasures and open up hands that formerly clutched possessions with fear, we are free to experience real emancipation and can celebrate the joy it is to truly live and powerfully love, in the present moment. 
 I hope your July is absolutely liberating! :)
 Happy Independence Day! 
 See you at OM... 
 Rachel Wilson 

Friday, May 9, 2014

Practice, Not Perfection

Practice, Not Perfection
by Rachel Wilson
One key quality for the yoga student to develop is a sense of patience in practice. Somehow, in our fast-paced, goal-oriented society, we easily forget about the process of practice and have begun to classify even yoga as something we must successfully accomplish.  Not only do we want to succeed at this practice, but we want to nail every pose and every breath at the exact right moment, the first time and every time thereafter.  

But yoga, like most things in life, isn't about how far we advance on the mat or into a pose, and there is never a need to bring a hurried or competitive sense to the experience.  The postures are useful and beneficial for a myriad of reasons, but more important are the small and large shifts that can occur in our deeper layers of being when we offer some of our time to practice. The nudge into a more expanded consciousness, subtle transformation of character, gentle assimilation of ideas and increased broadening of awareness that occur are the real markers of progress in yoga, and these things take at least as much time as loosening up tight hip flexors, so the rushed mentality is one that we can drop. 
Yoga is always about practice, not perfection .  It is what happens on the way to each posture, throughout the journey of patience, that counts in this realm.  Surprisingly, some of the most profound bits of progress for the yogi(ni) may even happen after the mat has been rolled up and put away.  The nice thing about consistent yoga practice is that it continues to give its gifts, even when we are no longer reaching for them.  No one minds if you cannot touch your toes.  Those who approach a yoga practice with non-judgmental dedication will certainly be transformed, and sometimes in the most unexpected moments after many seemingly-uneventful times of enduring practice.   

Patience asks that we do not look towards some bigger, better, more impressive version of a posture, our circumstances or ourselves, but that we acknowledge, accept and embrace what is, now. 
I have heard the saying, "Practice makes Perfect," but I will be the first to admit that I rarely have a day or a mat-session without at least a few mishaps.  Sometimes the mind fluxes.  The heart races.  The body tenses up and our emotions fool us into thinking that if we could only know, reach or achieve something today, then tomorrow will certainly contain the better future we have been longing for.  Maybe instead of striving for perfection, having patience in practice is a better goal.  
Ranier Marie Rilke urges us, "Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer." 
Practice like this.  One day at a time.  One mat session at a time.  Living, breathing, patiently experiencing each stumble and success along the way and allowing life to continue to unfold. 

See you at OM.