Fuel for Your Creative Spark: Newsletter 04/30/20

The trip that we go on as a community through the yoga practice is a collaboration. My intention whenever I’m teaching is for people to reconnect to themselves, to remember their own truth, and to embody their truth. This practice, for me at least, is one that is healing. 

– Clara Roberts-Oss –



Hello fellow seekers of truth,

We are so excited to be launching our upcoming 30 Opportunities Virtual Yoga Challenge that starts next Monday, June 1st. 

As we slowly begin to integrate back into “regular” life, I thought it might be a great time to either A)reconnect to your yoga practice or B)start having a daily yoga practice. We wanted to open this event to not only our members but our community at large – For Free! 


Join us

If you are not yet a member of #PracticeWithClara you can access for free by using the coupon code 30opportunities 

Choose the monthly subscription option (https://practice.clararobertsoss.com/join) and at check out add the coupon code above.
**Make sure you register on your desktop instead of your mobile device, as you can’t apply a coupon code on mobile apps.**

We offer a 7 day free trial, plus this 30 day coupon will ensure you are present during the full Virtual challenge.
 

Class format and how we broke down the week:

Mon : Meditation and Hatha

Tuesday -Thursday:  Heated vinyasa practice

Friday : Restorative or gentle Hatha

Saturday & Sunday : Longer vinyasa practices

**On the 3rd week, I took us down a notch with more Hatha classes throughout the week as most people are tired by then**

We invite you to listen to your body throughout the month.

  • Remember that every pose/variation is an offering, you don’t have to do them.
  • Rest when you need to.
  • Before going deeper into a pose, ask yourself, does this serve where my body and mind are today?

 

Journaling question

Each class will include a question for you to ponder while you do your practice. You will see these questions in the blurb for the given day and we will be posting them our Facebook group, Practice With Clara Community. We invite you to join the daily conversation on our Facebook Community group and post your response in the comments.

Feel free to engage in the 30-days in anyway that serves: if this means taking a day to simply listen in savasana for the duration of class, so be it. Listen to your body. 

Lastly…

At the end of the challenge we will raffle gifts for those of you who complete the journey with us including:

  • 1 Winner will receive a One Year Membership to #PracticeWithClara
  • 3 Winners will receive a Gift package from Halfmoon Yoga Props that includes 2 blocks and one strap to add to your home practice
  • 1 Winner will receive a yoga mat from Supported Soul – The winner will choose from the All-in-One combination mat, a Pro Grip mat or a Foldable travel mat.
  • 1 Winner will receive a gift package from Tagulan including a free Tshirt or Tank of their choice in a basket of local goodies

For ALL the information on the challenge, click here.

This week’s theme:
This week Steph and I discussed the concept of creativity and shared our tools to spark the creative process and the significance in collaborating with others on the podcast. 

Here are 3 of the tactics I’ve used in the past to shake things up and harness my inner creative flow: 

  • ✍🏻Morning Pages: write steam-of-conscious style, start simple with how you feel and see what come up.
  • 💃🏻 Dance: crank up your stereo and shake things out, get your body moving and feel the rhythm.
  • 🧘🏽‍♂️ Meditate: take a seat in meditation anyway you like and see what arises as you breathe.


You can also check out Steph’s blog post on creativity to review the highlights of our discussion this week. 

Here’s to feeding the flames of creativity… 🎇
We’re all taking part of the 30 Opportunities Challenge at the #PracticeWithClara team, we hope you join us! 

Sending you a virtual hug, 
Clara & the familia.

New Class #PracticeWithClara

Creative Flow

Dynamic, fluid, and fun, this creative flow vinyasa class focuses on the energy of Svadhisthana, the second chakra. Svadhisthana is associated with water and creativity. Focusing on this area we develop our self-expression and capacity to relate to others and the world around us. This creative flow sequence develops hip opening and challenges one’s flexibility. 

Practice for the Second Chakra
⦿

With Ease

This intermediate slow flow practice focuses on the second chakra and pelvis. There’s a bit of fire peppered throughout the practice, with an arm balance in bakasana (crow pose) and back bending with ustrasana (camel pose). This class is great for those who have been sitting for long periods of time.

BIG THANK YOU TO OUR PARTNERS

We’ll be raffling off some of their wonderful products at the end of the challenge as prizes to those
who have completed the 30 days.

Please enjoy these special offers from the partnering companies with the #PracticeWithClara discount codes:

Half Moon Yoga Props

15% Off their store with the code PRACTICEWITHCLARA

Supported Soul Yoga Mats

30% Off their store with the code 30OPPORTUNITIES

Tagulan Clothing Company

20% off their store with code 30days

Half Moon Yoga Props
Supported Soul Yoga Mats
Tagulan Clothing Company

Get #PracticeWithClara on:   iPhone  |   iPad  |   Android  |   Roku  |   Apple TV  |   Amazon Fire TV 
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The Creative Spark: Exploring the Second Chakra

Personal and professional development requires an investigation of the ways we think, feel, act, and respond to the environment. As we move through our lives and come into contact with others, we’re constantly tasked with co-creating the world around us, optimistically fostering spaces for inclusivity that are supportive of everyone’s experience and approach. The second chakra, known as svadhisthana in Sanskrit, is where we discover our capacity to create, develop our response to change, and soften to receive others. I sat down with Clara to discuss the tools to develop and foster creativity and how collaboration with others is essential to innovation and creative expression. Below are the paraphrased highlights from the interview.

The Creative Spark: An Interview with Clara

Stephanie: Clara, what types of activities did your parents expose you to as a kid? What kind of environment did you grow up in that fostered your idea of creativity? 

Clara: There’s a lot of play. When I was growing up with my father, we played in all kinds of ways. We played outside, we played inside; my father was a photographer, so there was a lot of art on the walls and a lot of looking at art. And then my dad would ask questions like, “what do you see? What’s happening here? What do you think the relationship is between the colors and the shapes?” So there was a lot of breaking down visual art as well as enjoying it. And then the other part that both my parents were really big on, was music. So there was always a ton of music being played in the house. I feel like both my parents are artists in their own right. My mother was a writer and my father’s a photographer, but also had a deep appreciation from literature as well as music. 

Stephanie: One of the themes for the second chakra is the partnering, the coming together with another entity that creates and stimulates change. How has that process been revealed to you in how you create? 

Clara: The trip that we go on as a community through the yoga practice is a collaboration. This practice, for me at least, is one that is healing because regular life kind of brings a heaviness or a dampness or stagnation or hardness, at least in my experience. And so what I seek in my own practice is this idea of expansion, this idea of letting go, and this idea of realigning.

My intention whenever I’m teaching is for people to reconnect to themselves, to remember their own truth and to embody their truth.

As a teacher, I’m trying to do the same thing. So I want to give a little bit of distraction and things like this in terms of different kinds of movement, to get people to move out of their distraction and to come into alignment, meaning they have to listen to me because they have no idea where I’m going and I want them to do.

I find that you learn new things when you are doing different things than you’re used to. And I want people to feel good about who they are because we are divine beings and we’ve just forgotten. And so the practice is about coming back and remembering that we’re awesome. All of us are awesome, in our own way, shape, and form. 

Stephanie: What parts of the body, poses, and elements would you bring into a class centred on the second chakra? 

ClaraSecond chakra I usually go one of two ways. The first way I go is with the water element, which I talked about in our meditation practice and my teacher, Shiva Rea is really big on the water element. I feel like I feel mostly like water. And so when I move like water, I feel like I’m arriving back at home. So with the second chakra, one way that I do it would be called go with the flow. Constant movement and the strength in movement and the healing quality of fluidity and how important that is. When I’m working with the idea of water, I don’t generally have a peak pose. It’s more about transitions. I would ask: “how can I transition into the next part, the next chapter, the next aspect, the next minute with more ease, with more fluidity, with more grace?”. 

The other well realm that I’d go into, which we’re talking about today, is creativity and, and this idea of creation of making something.Our creative juices literally live in our sacral area. Semen lives there. Our ovaries lived there. That’s literally how we bring physical beings into the world. And so connecting to that creative fire, we call that Kundalini energy or Shakti, the creative force. And so we’re connecting to the possibility or potential.

Stephanie: What is unique about Practice With Clara? What did you feel was lacking in the yoga community that encouraged you to launch your own platform and apps? 

Clara: I have such a deep passion for mantra and for bringing more of a creative element where it’s not just the Asana, which I love, but I also wanted to bring in other parts of the yoga practice. And there just wasn’t space for that on that platform [Gaia], which I totally understand. They were looking for something very specific, but I wanted to do more. I want to be able to share stories and have different things on the platform.

So we have the mantra, the meditation, but I’m going to bring in some philosophy. We’re going to bring in little short courses on the chakras and the philosophical values.

That’s what makes me most excited. And that’s why I wanted to create the Practice With Clara Apps and Site. 

Stephanie: So it sounds like a big piece of your creative process is teaching, passing it on, so to speak. Can you share a little bit about why the element of teaching inspires and is so deeply ingrained in you. 

Clara: My father and I talked a lot. My parents are talkers. We talked everything out. And so that’s my, that is actually a large part of my creative process and, or my self inquiry process is I usually talk it out with somebody, and for a long time it was with my father. My greatest practice in terms of understanding philosophy is actually teaching it. And you know, they always say that if you want to understand something, teach it. And I find that through teaching it, I’ve learned so much. By asking the questions to other people.

And that’s again where the collaboration comes in; in the teaching and asking questions.

The first kind of piece of philosophy that I ever dove into is the Bhagavad Gita. One of my favorite books is this wonderful story. I definitely went through a period when I first started teaching and where I’m like, who am I to teach this?

I’m not a philosophy major. I studied philosophy in school, but not to the extent where I have a master’s or anything. But by going into it and asking people questions about it and for us to dive into the themes around it together, I learned so much, and this is why I love teaching. Because I learned so much. And so in that way, we are all artists because I feel like some people think, Oh, I’m not an artist

I think we’re all artists, like we create in our own way. And even just thinking is a form of creation and artistry. Through yoga and through being in Sangha and grouping together, we create, we co-create something together, which is so, so cool.

Stephanie: What is a practice that you can recommend that someone can sit down and set up like a morning ritual and tap into their own creative process?

Clara: I’m going to offer three different variations because I find that we’re all so different, so hopefully one of these three options will speak to you.

  • The first one is the morning pages: as soon as you wake up in the morning, you pull out pen and paper and you write three pages without thinking about it and it’s stream of consciousness. And you literally just write until the three pages are up and you try not to judge it or think about it. It’s kind of a way of connecting to the realm of the mind that is not analytical, but the part of you that is creative.
  • The second one I would recommend is to turn on your stereo, hit play without really thinking about it and whatever song comes on, you dance to it. And to the best of your ability, don’t overthink it. Be in your pajamas. Hopefully you didn’t even brush your teeth. That’s another way to literally get into the creative flow and to connect to the body. So especially if you live in your mind, that would be one that I would recommend. 
  • The third one that I would recommend is to pull out your meditation cushion and to sit down on it. Put your hands like we did at the beginning of this podcast to the lower abdomen and quite simply breathe into that area. It takes three hums and then quite simply sit with yourself for 10 minutes without doing anything. And so that’s another way to create and connect to your creativity. 
Listen to on the full talk on the #PracticeWithClara Podcast or the Practice with Clara Site.

Yoga Classes for Creativity

Creative Flow

Creative Flow

Dynamic, fluid, and fun, this creative flow vinyasa class focuses on the energy of Svadhisthana, the second chakra. Svadhisthana is associated with water and creativity. Focusing on this area we develop our self-expression and capacity to relate to others and the world around us. This creative flow sequence develops hip opening and challenges one’s flexibility. 

With Ease

This intermediate slow flow practice focuses on the second chakra and pelvis. There’s a bit of fire peppered through the practice with an arm balance in bakasana (crow pose) and backbending with ustrasana (camel pose). 

This class is great for those who have been sitting for long periods of time

With Ease

Purification Through Air: The Power of Pranayama

Air is soft, spacious, and all-pervading. Air gives us life, it has no boundaries or limitations, and travels beyond what the naked eye can see. Air reminds us of our inner expansiveness, our ability to grow beyond what we think we’re capable of, and represents a lofty intelligence spoken from the heart. Subtle, vulnerable, and asking nothing in return, air creates an environment of belonging by accepting all beings. 

Air is one of the five elements in the body that we discover in the natural world. Each of the elements rely on each other and require balance to restore harmony: fire needs air to thrive as water needs earth to provide a container. The air we breathe also feeds the plants and soil. When we breathe air into our body, cells are revitalized through the deliverance of fresh oxygen to the lungs, blood, organs, and tissues. Energetically, air is a purifier to cleanse the mind and body of hyper-active or static states of energy.

In a previous #PracticeWithClara podcast, Clara shared tips and tools to understand the subtle body, which is profoundly affected by how we breathe. The breath is key to understanding the relationship between the mind and body, as well as our relationship with ourselves and the rest of the world. A teacher of meditation and yoga for over a decade, Clara’s classes on the Practice With Clara Site are peppered with pranayama techniques to open the inner body and develop a stronger connection to the life force within. 

This article captures the symbolic quality of air in our everyday lives and the importance of recognizing the elements in our day-to-day interactions. It also shares a few of the powerful pranayama practices and kundalini kriyas to purify the mind and body to create spaciousness within so you might interact with more compassion and calm. 

Air as Giving and Sustaining Life

Just like we need air to keep our bodies alive, we need compassion to stay connected to each other and the natural environment. Without air, our organs, brain, cells, and tissues die. Without love, we lack the bond of belonging. Air is essential to our physical survival as love is essential to our emotional survival. 

We’re connected to nature and all species through the action of breathing, inhaling and exhaling to sustain and give life to each other. We’ve a reciprocal relationship with nature based on the process of inspiration and respiration: trees absorb air and take in the carbon dioxide, then, with help from the sun, oxygen is released back into the atmosphere. 

Air is symbolic of our relationship to all that is around us, animals and plants, and the people in our communities. Our love has no boundaries, no limitations, like the air we breathe. Separation, judgement, and rejection of others and our love is as unnatural as stopping the flow of breath in the body. We cannot function without the flow of life moving through us, be it air or compassion. 

Air and Anahata Chakra

Our heart center is how we connect to others and live with a sense of lightness and compassion. In a previous post on Anahata Chakra, I shared practices and techniques to bring awareness to the heart space. Air is the element for Anahata. Each of the chakras are associated with an element to tap into the energies of the natural world that are reflected within the body. When we’re out of alignment in our physical body, this affects our mental and emotional states. Practices for the heart to open the shoulders, lengthen the side waist, and strengthen the back body, provide a sense of spaciousness inside that’s reflected in our interactions with others. When we feel space and lightness within, we’re better equipped to interact with these qualities and ways that inspire compassion and love. 

The Power of Pranayama

The fourth limb of Patanjali’s Eight Limbs of Yoga, Pranayama is the mastery of breath-control and recognition of the relationship between the breath, body, and mind. Prana means life force. Pranayama is control or constriction of life force. It’s the energetic current created in the body we control by bringing awareness to the breath. Focused pranayama brings a state of calm to the body and mind, influencing the body’s central nervous system to have an effect on the hormones released, thereby shifting our emotions and how we feel. 

The body is made up of energy lines called nadis, which affect the body’s subtle energy. There are three main nadis in the body: sushumna, ida and pingala. Sushumna is the central channel that travels from the base of the spine to the crown of the head and the source for each of the seven chakras. Ida is the channel that travels along the left side of the body, and pingala is the channel that travels along the right side of the body. The aim of pranayama is to understand the flow of breath by gaining awareness of how the breath lights up the nadis, shifts our subtle energy, and overall transforms how we think and feel. Pranayama is the key to inner transformation and one of the most accessible tools for yoga alchemy. 

Moving Meditation for Purification

In this short Moving Meditation class with Clara, you’ll move through a variety of kriyas to purify the mind and body, pranayama to open and expand the lungs, and meditation to relieve stress and connect to silence. Pranayama and kriyas have the power to shift our energy, from feeling anxious to grounded or stagnant to uplifted, these breathing techniques have the power to transform. 

4-Part Breathing

Benefits
This pranayama provides a sense of grounding and creates stillness in the body and mind. Great to practice if you have high-energy and want to calm down.
4-part breath is also known as Sama Vritti. In Sanskrit, sama means ‘equal’ and vritti means ‘flow’. This technique balances the breath by breathing in/out and retaining the breath to calm the heart-rate and nervous system.

How To
Inhale for the count of four
Hold at the top for the count of four
Exhale for the count of four
Hold at the bottom for the count of four

Repeat several cycles and then sit in meditation to be in how you feel. 

Kundalini Mudra 

Benefits
A clearing technique to purge excess energy by sharply exhaling through the mouth. This technique keeps the energy moving and high. Great to practice if you want to stay elevated and awake but still purge any excess stress or tension. 

How To
Inhale sharply through the nose and make a fist with your hands
Exhale sharply through the mouth and sparkle out your fingers

Repeat several cycles speeding up or slowing down as necessary. 

Sufi Grinds

Benefits
This moving meditation relieves tension in the low back and brings flexion/extension to the spine. Sufi Grinds draws the energy upwards from the root of the spine to the crown of the head. Great to balance any nervous energy and clear away static energy.

How To 
Inhale through the nose and arch the spine as you lean forward
Exhale through the nose and round the back as you shift backward

Stay seated and draw circles with your body by rotating the torso. Create larger and smaller circles and imagine drawing energy upwards from the pelvis to the crown of the head. Root down at the seat to feel grounded as you move. 

Lions Breath

Benefits
Lion’s Breath connects you to your inner child, creating a space for play to rid the body of amassed stress. It relieves tension, improves circulation, and opens the front of the chest, neck, and throat. 

How To
Exhale sharply out the mouth and stick out your tongue with your fingers anchored on the ground. Add a growl or any sounds, including laughter, as you exhale.

Air: A Reminder to Keep Things Moving

The flow of life is all around us. Nature reminds us that stagnation is not possible. The seasons express the cycles of change we move through and undergo. From the sunflower seed to the strike of thunder, we’re surrounded by signs that capture the eternal connection of creation and destruction. 

Our bodies provide a tangible contact with the world and a means to connect to others as we establish relationships, build community, and feel the flow of love that arises as a result. When we feel the pulse of life in our bodies by bringing awareness to the breath and engaging in physical activity, we break-up any stagnant and/or stuck energy and release anxieties that threaten to dismantle our connection with the universe and inherent love. 

In the new class this week, Keep It Moving, the idea is to move with the flow of your breath, create rhythm with your body, and connect to the environment around you. 

Keep It Moving

Keep It Moving 

Keep it moving with Clara and the students of Lila Vinyasa Yoga in this air-inspired yoga class that stimulates and frees the body with quick and subtle movement. As you move, focus on the ujjayi breath and ask yourself: how does this movement feel and how does my breath correspond? The element air is associated with curiosity, intuition, motion, light, and quick-wittedness; keep this in-mind as you breathe.

Interested in more classes from #PracticeWIthClara? 

New members receive 7-days free.

Expression and Yoga Alchemy through Vishuddha Chakra

How we feel is directly correlated to our thoughts and modes of self-expression. The words we choose shape our attitude, preserve culture and keep traditions alive that may or may not serve, and bond us to cycles of suffering when we fail to see our participation in shaping the future. Creating habits that express how we feel in ways that promote health, longevity, and sustainability, rid our environments- and the world- of the disease that ensues due to miscommunications. 

Describing how we feel requires patience and practice; it is no easy task to express our vulnerabilities and fears with the world. Sharing our innermost desires requires courage and the ability to be honest, concise, and compassionate in how we speak to others and ourselves. This is a lifelong process of sitting in how we feel, reflecting on the thoughts that arise, and deciding how we wish to transform our ideas into material products through actions or words. 

Yoga is an alchemical process of acknowledging our emotions and shifting how we feel. An asana practice moves the energy in the body while pranayama, mantra, and meditation targets the subtle body to create new neural pathways in the brain.The nadis are channels of pranic/energy in the subtle body. The main nadi of the body is sushumna which runs from the base of the spine to the crown. There are seven main chakras along the spine that have both physical and metaphysical properties. The chakras represent energy points that correspond to a specific organ in the body in addition to the physical, emotional, psychological, and emotional states. The earliest mention of the chakra system is from the Vedas between 1500 and 500 BCE. The word “chakra” is a word in Sanskrit that translates to ‘wheel’ or disks that have the ability to transform the body’s subtle energy. 

On the #PracticeWithClara podcast this week, Clara and I discussed Vishuddha, the fifth chakra, in how it relates  to expression and communication. This article shares highlights from our talk and classes that stimulate the throat chakra.

Yoga Alchemy: Vishuddha Chakra

Located at the pit of the throat, Vishuddha translates to ‘purifyer’ in Sanskrit and represents our ability to express, speak, communicate, voice opinions, and bring our authentic vision and values to the world. Sound, space, and truth influence the fifth chakra. 

Voice & Authenticity

The discovery of an inner power and purpose is associated with Vishuddha. Connecting to the lower chakras relates to the creative feminine realm (Shakti) and the physical properties to amass the strength and focus for our desires. The upper chakras relate to the intellectual masculine realm (Shiva) and the ethereal properties to manifest and give birth to ideas. Vishuddha chakra represents voicing our dreams and aspirations. It’s where we find the ability to vocalize our purpose and bring our inner dialogues out into the world for others to witness. 

The throat chakra is where we develop the confidence and free will to express our authenticity, bridging the gap between our creative second chakra and the all-seeing awareness of the sixth chakra at the third eye. 

Truth & Purification

The Eightfold Path of Buddhists provides an outline of practices to lead to the release of suffering. Right speech is one of eight precepts for practice to develop the connection of the body-mind. It includes abstaining from lying, divisive and abusive speech, and idle chatter. Developing right speech would be speaking only that which you know to be true and beneficial to others. Becoming aware of how gossip, assumption, judgement, prejudice, and fear shades our language and completely shifts the dynamic of the receiver is part of honouring right speech.

As you cultivate a practice for right speech, you might ask yourself:
Is this statement true? Will this statement bring the other person some benefit? What is my intention in what I am about to say? Are these words my own, or am I speaking through a layer of social/cultural conditioning? 

The purification process through Vishuddha occurs when we acknowledge how we feel and vocalize our truth. Discovering this truth is an individual process and often requires space for inner reflection through meditation. Our mind-body connection is one of the powers of yoga as we become better at sitting with how we feel and developing skills in language to communicate with the world. 

Words & Communication

The language we choose creates our reality. Selecting the correct words to describe ourselves and our actions influences who we become and how we see ourselves in the world. Replacing words we choose that are negative or debasing and replacing them with words that are positive and uplifting influences our mood, reaction to the world, and how we proceed. Observing the words we choose and their origin may give us insight into whether or not the language we’ve learned shares our current vision and values. Clear and effective communication includes expressing our thoughts and how we feel without the assumptions, fears, or judgements of others’ influence over our speech.

Sound and the Power of Mantra

Mantras are a repeated word or phrase that aid in meditation and a powerful tool to tap into the energy of the throat chakra. Chanting mantra is a way to evolve communication and expression, deepen listening skills, and refine sensitivities of the subtle body. When we chant mantra, the sound currents and vibration interact with our brainwaves and the body’s energy field. We activate the electric impulses in our brain that control our thoughts and hormone secretion. Emotions are generated from the process of the brain’s electrical impulses activating the release of hormones into the body. Repeating mantra subconsciously redirects the brain’s electrical impulses to induce a state of calm and rewire the brain to assist in improving our attitude and habitual beliefs. 

Mantra is a Sanskrit word from man, meaning mind, and tra, meaning instrument. The purpose of mantra is to release the mind from unconscious thought patterns that trigger the release of hormones and influence our emotional state. The repetition of mantra out loud may induce a state of meditation where the sound waves and vibration releases stuck and/or stagnant energies, purging the unconscious thoughts and emotions that don’t serve and cause disease. Chanting synchronizes the right and left hemispheres of the brain, bringing more oxygen to the brain, reducing the heart-rate and blood pressure. On a metaphysical level, the vibration of sound through mantra brings us to a positive frequency that aligns with the natural environment. New neural pathways of the brain are created through mantra to amplify our ability to bring our truth to the physical world, manifest our desires and acknowledge our prayers.

Each of the chakras are associated with a bija seed sound to bring the focus said area and direct our energy. The bija mantra for the throat is Ham. Chanting this mantra over and over encourages healing and transformation related to the themes associated with Vishuddha, such as expression. 

Vishuddha Chakra Playlist

Reveal your inner truth and practice evolving your language so you might effectively communicate how you feel and what you need from your relationships to others (and yourself!). In the 5th Chakra Playlist, anchor your practice and discover your voice as you join Clara and the students of Lila Vinyasa Yoga to chant mantra. 

expression-throat-chakra
Connect to Your Voice

Connect to Your Voice

Connect to your voice and an inner vulnerability in this smooth movement and meditation class with Clara. Featuring the students of Lila Vinyasa Yoga, this class targets the throat chakra, Vishuddha. Focus on your breath moving in and out of your throat as you meditate, move, breath, and chant together.

Saraswati Mantra

Saraswati is the Hindu goddess of creativity, speech, wisdom, knowledge and learning. We chant to her when we are embarking on a new creative project for inspiration OR when we are studying for an exam OR when we want to find the right words to express how we feel.

Saraswati Mantra
expression-ganesha-mantra
Ganesha Mantra

Ganesha Mantra

Ganesha, the remover of obstacles and the placer of obstacles on our path that we need to examine. He is beloved in the yoga community. Yoga is about removing obstacles both seen and unseen so that we can connect to our inner wisdom/light. Chanting to Ganesha is another kriya (purification) practice to clear our own paths.

New this week: 

Go With The Flow

Create stability and spaciousness in a Prana Flow inspired sequence designed especially for pregnant mama’s. This Prenatal Vinyasa Yoga class create’s length and strength in the side body to keep you moving through your second trimester.

expression-go-with-the-flow
Go With The Flow

Expression through Intentional Language and Silence

Sitting Vipassana for 10-days and honoring the silence and meditation required introduced me to the power of words and influence of language in the world. This process made me more aware of the power of words, the magic in speaking truth and voicing fears and desires. I became more attune to the process of bringing the inner, invisible realities and dialogues I created out into the material realm where others could bear witness to what felt, thought, or wished to actualize. Vipassana gave me a space to reflect on how I could be more intentional through my words. Intentional language requires that we sit with how we feel, make space to reflect, and decide how we wish to communicate, be it verbal or non-verbal. Silence is just as powerful a tool in self-expression. 

Non-verbal forms of expression may be preferred to communicating how we feel and venting emotion. Dancing our anger, painting our sadness, singing our angst; physical activity and art are therapeutic forms of purging excess emotion and expressing truths that are difficult to vocalize.

Rejoice in the Unstruck: Vulnerability of the Heart

The heart invites one to discover its mystery, loving wildly and unabashedly, surging forth with desire and promise regardless of paralleled demands of the mind. Without limitation, the heart reaches out into the world and reveals goodness, a sweetness, capable in all beings. Compassion resides in the heart and when left unexamined may become a space where sorrow blossoms and spreads. Tending to the heart is expressed in the tenderness and care we give ourselves and extend outwardly to others and to the world around us. Seeking the truths of the heart is to examine our inner longing and vulnerability, the tools and practices that bring us back to the deep seat of quiet within ourselves. Our vulnerabilities may be subject to exploitation via anger when we lack the awareness or direction in how to proceed. Asking for help, looking to communities for support, and exposing vulnerabilities might be successful in leading one to a path where shedding fear and witnessing desire is finally possible. To get stuck in a cycle of fear, lack of commitment, or loss of perspective, is part of the process in unearthing the courageous heart. 

Clara and I discussed the unstruck heart on the #practicewithclara podcast where we explored the heart’s capacity to expose vulnerability, establish truth, and ultimately, enhance the spread of compassion unto ourselves and others. The heart is a symbol of spiritual transformation where love and receptivity become the tools for inner alchemy. In this article, I’ve provided heart-opening practices and a

The Unstruck Heart: Anahata Chakra

The epicentre of the human body, the heart represents our spiritual evolution and ability to transcend the physical realm. The fourth chakra, Anahata is the middle of the seven chakras positioned along the spine and located at the centre point of the chest where the heart resides. The heart is where spirit and matter collide, bridging the gap between thought and action and delivering our deepest desires to the material realm as we unearth and respond to our inner truths. Anahata translates from Sanskrit to English as the unstruck, expressing this idea of a space that is pure, fresh, unhurt, and clean. Free of grief and past sorrows, we become free to accept and explore the many ways to give and receive love. 

The element that expresses Anahata chakra is air, which represents spirit, lightness, spaciousness, and equanimity. Air for the yogi, relates to one’s vitality. The Prana, or breath, is the lifeforce contained within and how our life force is created and sustained. Our breath is the initial way we link the ethereal realm with the physical realm through the energetic exchange in breathing. The practitioner who develops and controls the breath through pranayama techniques may attain higher states of awareness and consciousness. In yoga, we focus on the breath to nourish the body, settle the mind, and stimulate the nadis-energy lines, including the chakras along the spine. The evolution of our bodies and minds rely on breath, from bringing oxygen to the lungs to removing toxins, releasing emotion and purging negative energy, the breath is the gateway to addressing the subtle body and crucial factor in maintaining wellness. 

The sacred space of the heart leads us toward the power and immanence of love, the importance of establishing relationships with others and ourselves, and the means to heal old wounds and traumas. We are drawn to love, relationships, and a desire to let go and heal, and yet it requires a deep commitment to a practice that helps us address our vulnerability, fears, and pain. Working with the heart chakra asks that you delve deep into your own inner truth and address what you need. Examples of some insights that might surface include: asking for help and expressing humility; letting go of a relationship that no longer serves; receiving past pain in order to heal the wound and move forwards with more integrity. 

Our hearts may be our guides in providing access to a deeper intuition that’s felt. You cannot rush, rationalize, or dissect the desires or the lessons of the heart. The heart’s compassion and innate knowledge surpasses any judgements imposed by the mind, but together, the wisdom of the heart and the focus of the mind may deliver the devotee to a place where healing is possible, connection is intensified, and a deep understanding of the yearning we all share in accepting ourselves and each other is made possible. 

Space Within: A Mantra for Peace

A practice, purpose, teacher, or guide may assist you in your development of the heart chakra, in listening to its wisdom and honouring your inner truth. The heart’s freedom and play surges forward when we embody what it means to be human and take responsibility for our own happiness. A happiness that’s achieved when we heal, accept and receive all that is coming, and strive for balance. Happiness within is quickly transformed to happiness without, extending to all corners of our environments and those around us. When we’ve compassion for ourselves only then may we extend our compassion to others. It starts inside and moves outward as we gain clarity, confidence, and recognize our contribution to our evolving reality. 

Light up your heart chakra with a mantra for peace to all beings and elements in the universe: Join Clara and her 300-hour YTT students for call and response before diving in together in this mantra for peace

Open Your Courageous Heart: The Anahata Playlist

A curated collection of heart-opening practices, the Anahata Playlist invites the practitioner to feel and express beauty within the body through dynamic movement and breath. Open your heart, strengthen your back, visualize a lotus symbol at your heart centre, and dedicate your practice to Lakshmi, Goddess of Beauty. 

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Heart Wide Open

Heart Wide Open

Move your body to feel and connect to what’s inside, this backbending-focused yoga class opens the hamstrings and chest, and strengthens the back and deep core muscles. Flow through a series of lunges, balancing postures, and twists, before taking a variation of camel-pose from a low lunge.

A Neat Bow

A faster-paced vinyasa practice to open the front and lateral/side body while preparing you to explore bow pose, camel pose, and wheel pose. Clara guides a dynamic sequence to build heat and strength before back-bending, before cooling down with hip-openers and twists.

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A Neat Bow
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Know Thyself

Know Thyself

Explore the movement of your spine in a fluid vinyasa sequence that targets the side waist, strengthens the mid back, and inner thighs. This class is simple, short, and smooth, with opening for the heart space and shoulders as your enhance the flexion and extension of the spine. 

Beauty Within and Without

Discover your natural fluidity and balance in this Prana Flow inspired class with Clara. A practice dedicated to Lakshmi, Goddess of Beauty, you’ll start seated for a brief meditation and mudra for beauty. Enjoy a smooth and slow flow with fun transitions as you explore leg balancing poses to build strength and stability.

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Beauty Within & Without

Discover the Devotion of the Heart

Practices of the heart require a deep devotion in heart, body, and mind. When we commit to ourselves and choose to move from the sacred space of the heart, we step into our inner truth. Honouring and moving from the heart takes time. It may take years to recognize our fears, vulnerabilities, and sorrows. It may take years to shift these energies into courage, resilience, and positive forms of self-expression. Be patient and cultivate a practice for devotion to stand firm in what you feel and believe is true. Devote yourself fully to this transformation. Dedicate yourself to this process of revealing your courageous heart and fostering relationships with others that feed this process. 

Learn how to access deeper emotions in this post: Moving With and Managing Emotion
Transform fear into courage in this post: Explore Your Strength and Tools for Transformation



Strength in Body and Mind: Tools for Transformation

Clara Practicing

The universe throws events our way to challenge our capacity to persevere and evolve. When we choose to confront our pains, the transformative process we undergo can reveal a courage and compassion that prevails in spite of obstacles and conflicts. Strength comes from a deep space within. Whenever we feel the pressures of the world on our shoulders, we may call upon our inner strength to triumph and endure. Evolution requires that we examine the ways to grow past our individual and collective limitations, that we harness our energy to create a better future for the next generation. To do this, we rely on our mental, physical, and emotional strengths to persist through such times of lack, loss, and uncertainty. 

In a previous discussion in one of the #PracticeWithClara Podcasts, Clara shared some of her growing pains as a new yoga teacher as she transitioned from teaching in New York City to Vancouver, BC. In the process, Clara accepted the challenges she faced and further developed her skills as a teacher. In order to thrive, strength in body and mind are required. The relationship between the body and mind affects how we interact and associate with our environment. Succumbing to fear that grips us when we’re uncomfortable, unsure, or insecure, is to give-in to the body’s immediate physiological response to stress, initiated by the onset of the stress hormone, cortisol. 

To counter the fear and shift the body’s prime response, focusing on and developing a practice for strength may assist in shifting the mindset and attitude to one that’s more receptive to change. Clara’s advice to new yoga teachers is to keep showing up and practice, for we have the capacity to transform new actions into mastered skills through consistency and repetition over time. Mistakes may be a great teacher if reflected upon and perhaps present a way to grow past initial limitations and fears.

In this article are tools to cultivate courage to persevere through difficult times, with courses in meditation, mantra, and yoga that develop strength in body and mind.

Call Upon the Strength of Durga Maa

Durga is the Warrior Goddess and protector of the universe. As an incarnate form of the feminine energy Shakti, she appears to battle the evils of the world. The Mother goddess, Durga means fortress or a protected place. To call upon Durga is to enter the fortress; a stronghold where mankind is protected from evil forces including selfishness, greed, hatred, arrogance, anger, prejudice, and jealousy. Durga wears red to symbolize action, and rides astride a tiger or lion carrying various weaponry in her eight hands. 

Durga’s Origin Story:

Durga was summoned by the Gods who were unable to slay the evil demon who threatened to destroy the world. Mahishasura, the evil buffalo demon, received a great gift from the God Brahma, who said that the demon could never be killed by man or God. Mahishasura conquered the world and was poised to claim the heavens when the Gods called upon the feminine divine forces in the world- Shakti- for the legend did not say anything of the evil buffalo demon being triumphed over by the Goddess. Durga arrives as an incarnate form of Shakti, blazing forward and piercing Mahishasura with her trident, one of the many weapons she brandishes in her

Harness the power of Durga:
Durga Flow (60-mins)

This strong vinyasa practice leads a strong leg and core-centric class, with balancing poses to challenge and test your stability.

Durga Mantra (10-mins)

Chant to Durga and connect to inner courage and discipline.

Durga Meditation (5-mins)

Focus on your courageous heart and inner strength.

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Durga Flow

“Durga’s transformative power carries a conviction that comes from deep inside the body, and with it often comes a sense of ‘Now!’–meaning the time is now. When that knowing is strong enough, it is followed by an action. You will willingly put your body and your speech on the line to change the situation–whether it is an internal or external one”.

– Sally Kempton, Awakening Shakti

Get Strong Classes & Playlists ⚡️ 🎧

Whenever we go outside of our comfort zone and experience the discomfort of physical challenge, we develop new neural pathways in the brain that aid in evolving the ways we think, feel, and act. Physical activity isn’t the only means of testing oneself and developing new pathways in the brain. Any new action repeated over time will eventually form a behavior that transforms into a skill and develops the associated neural pathway. 

Cortisol, otherwise known as the stress hormone, is released whenever we feel sensations of fear, potentially causing depreciating states of anxiety and sadness. When we practice focusing our awareness on Durga or other energies that express the fearlessness of the warrior, we train our brain and body to adapt to new circumstances and shift the physiological response to change. Meditation has a profound effect on the way the brain creates stories, associates ideas, and perceives the world, thereby affecting the neurotransmitters and hormones released. Strengthening the mind through meditation, focusing on the breath, and focusing on positive language or imagery that invites a state of courage, calm, and compassion, may create resilience in body and mind. 

Be it physical activity or meditation, the means to strengthen your resolve and invite the capacity for change are many. The initial step is choosing how you wish to move forward and allowing a positive energy to guide the way. 

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Stand On Your Hands
Stand on Your Hands
Handstand Play

A short vinyasa flow sequence that gets your blood flowing and heat building right off the gates!

Handstand play and preparation from downward dog progresses to a fiery flow of twists, upper back strengthening, and backbends. 

A Welcomed Season
Standing Backbends & Balancing

Connect to your body with this fluid vinyasa practice inspired by a poem by Hafiz. 

This vinyasa flow sequence includes a little bit of everything, with twists, hip openers, inversions, backbends and standing leg balances. This class features standing backbends and a focus on the process versus a peak pose.

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A Welcomed Season
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Taking Flight with Flying Pigeon Pose
Take Flight:
Flying Pigeon (Galavasana)

Get fired up with a series of arm balances and inversion play in a sequence that builds towards a peak pose.

Including deep hip openers, twists, and handstands, you’ll build toward flying pigeon pose in a sequence designed to test your stability and strength. 

An Offering 
Prep for Tripod Headstand 

A slower paced vinyasa practice with an emphasis on mandala/circular shapes. Open the inner leg line and strengthening the back of the pelvis as you prepare for tripod headstand. 

**If you’re dealing with any neck/shoulders issues, refrain from doing the peak pose.**

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An Offering with Tripod Headstand
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Unfurl Your Peacocks Tail
Unfurl Your Peacock’s Tail
Pincha Mayurasana Practice 

Join Clara in a vinyasa practice focused on Pincha Mayurasana, feathered peacock pose. Regardless of whether or not you get the peak pose, all the shoulder and back body opening is beneficial. Along with core cultivation work based off Forrest Yoga, you’ll finish your practice feeling stronger.

Peacocks represent patience, kindness and luck in Indian thought. With inversions, the more patience and kindness you practice with your body, the lighter you can become!

Resilience in Body and Mind

When we strengthen our body we also strengthen the mind. Whenever we go outside of our comfort zone and experience the discomfort of physical challenge, we develop new neural pathways in the brain that aid in evolving the ways we think, feel, and act. Physical activity isn’t the only means of testing oneself and developing new pathways in the brain. Any new action repeated over time will eventually form a behavior that transforms into a skill and develops the associated neural pathway. Confronting your discomfort and moving toward the places where you feel physically, emotionally, or mentally challenged may develop virtues such as patience, humility, and courage. 

Cortisol, otherwise known as the stress hormone, is released whenever we’re feeling sensations of fear and causes depreciating states of anxiety and sadness. When we practice focusing our awareness on Durga or other energies that express the fearlessness of the warrior, we train our brain and body to adapt to new circumstances and shift the physiological response to change. Meditation has a profound affect on the way the brain creates stories, associates ideas, and perceives the world, thereby affecting the body’s neurotransmitters and hormone release. Strengthening the mind through meditation, focusing on the breath, and focusing on positive language or imagery that invites a state of courage, calm, and compassion, will ultimately create resilience in the body and mind. 

Be it physical activity or meditation, the means to strengthen your resolve and excite the capacity for change are many. The initial step is choosing how you wish to move forward and defining the energy that will guide you along the way. 

 

Stay Curious: Retreat Planning for Yoga Teachers

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Social distancing has provided many opportunities for us to get creative and curious about the ways we might stay connected and embrace community. It was one woman from the West End who initiated the nightly clapping at 7pm in support of Vancouver’s Health Care Workers, an event that’s since amassed with folks across the city who gather each night and light up the streets and seawall with their collective music and cheers. Curiosity insists upon a story of inspiration through a path less travelled and events born of the courage, consideration, and sheer determination to move forward despite obstacles along the way. 

As one of millions who lost employment and connection to community with the turn of events in March due to CO-VID, Clara and I came together to create the #PracticeWithClara Podcast, a space to share yoga related content with our community. With no clear direction or end in sight, the ways in which we come together has and will continue to dramatically shift, causing entrepreneurs, community builders, and creatives to change their perception of work and how to maintain and build relationships. It’s an uncertain period and a time to question how we want to appear in the world; a time to develop an attitude of curiosity; and a time to see all the ways we might innovate and bring our deepest desires to light.  

As one who’s passionate about shaping and contributing to the community, Clara provided insight on how to host a yoga retreat and experiences for guests to go deeper into their practice in one of our podcast discussions. From managing guest expectations, to creating a budget and selecting the location, Clara shared her top learning highlights for yoga teachers and anyone who wishes to host events or workshops abroad. Planning a destination yoga retreat may be a ways off given the current state of the world, but nobody knows what the future holds. Sometimes it’s through events and stories of others that we are able to appreciate and discover more in how and what we wish to offer. Right now is the ideal time to investigate what type of value you might bring to your community, allowing the curiosity for what could be to spark new ways for community contribution and inner growth. 

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DESTINATION RETREAT PLANNING 101

List the benefits and features of your retreat 

Frame your retreat in terms of the benefits your clients will receive as well as the features in the pricing breakdown and promotion. You want to give as much information as possible to highlight all of the awesome perks provided through descriptive language and captivating photography. Use inviting language and imagery that’s clear and specifies what to expect to attract the guests that are suited for the experience you’re shaping.  For example, the features of a retreat could be: yoga everyday, lodging and food, additional activities such as hiking. Whereas the benefits of a retreat could be: escape in nature, make new friends, learn and explore yoga in a workshop. 

Create copy around the benefits of your retreat to give more of an incentive for guests to sign up. You might ask: What will guests leave with? What might they discover? Who and what will they connect with? Retreats are a space to go inwards and create a space for deeper conversations, personal revelations, and intimate connections with others that are not possible in a yoga-studio setting. Communicate these benefits to guests so they understand the value in what this experience offers. 

Manage expectations & be clear in your communication 

Get super clear in what you offer during the time breakdown of your retreat. As soon as your guests sign-up, send an email outlining exactly what to expect day-by-day. Clara provides an itinerary breakdown for guests which includes:

  • Time
    The time of day that you’re together on retreat and the time that you’re apart. Clara gives a lot of space on her retreats for guests to explore the area, pursue activities of interest, and time alone to rest and reflect. 
  • Cost
    What exactly is covered in the cost of the retreat and what is not. For example, state clearly if flights, taxi, shuttle, and other modes of transport are covered. Be really clear and direct up-front about the deposit and whether or not it’s refundable, and include a breakdown of additional costs that may/may not arise.
  • Food
    Depending on the destination some meals are covered and some are not. Communicate where and when guests are responsible for covering their own meals and where they can find food off-site. 
  • Yoga
    You’ll likely include several yoga classes on the retreat in the initial cost. You may want to include bonus classes, workshops, privates, or anything else that you may be certified in (Reiki, Thai massage) at an additional cost for clients to book with you. 
  • Extra activities  
    Depending on the destination you may offer time and resources to events in the area such as snorkeling, guided tours, cooking classes, bike rentals, and so on. 
Pick a location and investigate 

Choose a location that you want to explore and/or you love. Clara chooses her retreat locations based on the areas she wants to visit. Before you host your retreat, be sure to explore the area ahead of time (Clara usually goes to the location a few days beforehand) to get a better understanding of where you are and what’s close-by for guests. Useful resources to share with guests ahead of time may include: a map of the area, potential transit and/or car rental, food/bars, shopping, nature hikes/swimming, as well as local airports and hospitals. 

Plan a year ahead & budget 

Give guests ample time, especially if you’re going out of the country, for people to accommodate for the time off, get child-care, and/or save money. A lot of retreat centres require a deposit well in advance to save the rooms and accommodation which means you’ll be putting quite a bit of your own money down up-front. Clara’s first retreat twelve years ago she paid out of pocket. Some tips in terms of budgeting for your retreat:

  • Accept that you might not fill up all the spots and/or  break even, and that you may take a loss on your first few retreats in terms of making money. 
  • Assume that your first few retreats will have low(er) registration and decide if you have a minimum number of participants to run your retreat. Clara’s rule of thumb is to never cancel your retreat, no matter what! 
  • Anticipate hidden/unknown costs and have the money saved to manage such uncertainties so you’re not surprised or burdened with unwanted debt.

One way to build momentum for your retreat is to host your excursion around the same time each year so your guests can count on the trip year after year. Returning customers is ideal to keep building community and momentum as you learn. 

Co-teach with a fellow teacher 

You’re the host of the party, you have to be ON the entire time and present for questions and conflict should they arise. It may serve to collaborate with a fellow yoga teacher who shares your passion and can assist in holding space for your guests. It may also benefit to buddy up with a co-host who can offset your strength and skills to provide an experience that’s diverse and well-rounded. It supports the teaching community as an entirety when we promote each other and hold each other accountable in all that we do! 

VIRTUAL INVITATIONS: WAYS TO CONNECT

The broad selection of online platforms available has provided many ways to stay connected regardless of physical obstacles. More so than ever before, we’re able to provide value, engage, educate, and entertain through online platforms where content is easy to distribute. Virtual classes, workshops, teacher training, and similar experiences allow individuals to stay connected and consume media at their own pace and time. 

As destination retreats may be on-hold. for the rest of 2020, the #PracticeWithClara Community has gathered in a variety of online spaces to stay connected and learn from each other. Below are some of the ways you can find Clara online, which may also spark some incentive or idea for you to bring value to your online communities. 

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Practice with Clara Online 

There’s a bevy of online spaces to market and share yoga content with platforms like YouTube and Vimeo where you can create a channel for free. Clara’s YouTube Channel shares highlights and yoga content from her platform: Practice With Clara. You can access Clara’s content anywhere, anytime via desktop, android, iPhone, Apple TV, and Roku. One of the perks on the phone apps is the download feature that allows you to watch the videos offline. With yoga styles including Vinyasa, Hatha, Restorative, Prenatal, in addition to videos on mantra and meditationyou can try for 7-days free

NEW CLASS : Spice It Up 

In this short and spicy vinyasa yoga class you’ll get your heart pumping and blood flowing to build heat and burn off any excess energy and tension. Clara guides practitioners through total-body movement as you shake it out from head-to-toe with Alejandro. 

#PractiveWithClara Podcast 

Start a podcast or launch a video-series where you discuss a topic of interest that provides something of value for your community to engage with. You can listen to the #PracticeWithClara Podcast where we discuss yoga and related philosophy, unpack the business of yoga, answer questions, and lead experiential/guided meditations. Watch past discussions.   

 Facebook Group

Facebook Groups are a great way to amass community members and create an archive of content that can be shared and commented on. The #PracticeWithClara Facebook Group is where we share the latest videos, podcast sessions, blog posts, and other resources with our community members. We invite our community to post questions and feedback, and drop journaling prompts to be shared and discussed. Connect with us on Facebook to connect to like-minded peers across the globe. 

Instagram Live 

Instagram Live has quickly become one of the top spaces for individuals to create and share a variety of videos including topics in fitness, cooking ,and beauty. Clara and I host the #PractiveWithClara Podcast on IG Live to engage with listeners before turning it into a video series to share on YouTube and as a Podcast. We’ll be back on Instagram Live with the #PracticeWithClara Podcast on Monday, May 4th @11AM PST! 

LEARN MORE ON THE BUSINESS OF YOGA

Moving With and Managing Emotion

Moving With and Managing Emotion

Observing emotion and sitting with how we feel takes practice and patience, especially when we’re feeling really strong emotions such as fear, anger, sadness, and/or disgust. Water is the element that represents emotion and the unconscious mind. In contrast to ether, the idea of space and consciousness (featured in last week’s post), water’s connection to emotion is made material and tangible through the relationship to the body. 

Emotion is an automatic reaction the body has to certain stimuli, feelings arise once the brain becomes aware and conscious of the physical changes. We use the words emotion and feeling interchangeably, however, on a physiological level we receive the emotion first as a direct unconscious message in our body. The emotion is then delivered to the brain where we consciously sift through and assess how we feel.

Emotion as a Message

All emotions are a signal that your body is trying to tell you something and express a truth you may have missed. The message will keep being sent, growing bigger and stronger, until it’s received.
– Clara Roberts-Oss

When we don’t acknowledge how we feel or learn to move with and manage our emotions, we run the risk of creating toxic environments within ourselves and for those around us. Our emotions are not who we are, they’re characters we experience for a period of time. f we don’t learn how to express our emotions, we may experience them for much longer–creating a lasting feeling like despair or depression

In the video below, Clara shares some of the ways she deals with intense emotions: 

Body Map of Emotion

What we repress is expressed in other forms; whenever we suppress how we feel we throw off the energetic balance in our body. It disturbs our Qi (energy) and the harmony of our internal organs, which can cause illness and/or disease and disrupt our emotional state. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, each emotion is intrinsically linked to a specific place and organ in the body. When we block emotion it affects the overall health of the body and mind and the place in the body where the emotion resides

GRIEF / DEPRESSION / SADNESS 

Grief lives in the lungs and is associated with the large intestine. Grief also affects the heart and may last a long time as we process letting go. It has a profound effect on our energy and disrupts the flow of energy in our body. When we make space to grieve and sit with our sadness, we give ourselves permission to let go and give in to our sorrow. When we hold onto our grief and our loss, we run the risk of entering a state of depression where we may get stuck and block the flow of energy in our body. This may be expressed in the body through a difficulty releasing bowels, lung function, and oxygen circulation. 

FEAR

Fear lives in the kidneys and the bladder, which are associated with the element water. Fear is a normal emotion to experience but when ignored or avoided it can have devastating effects on our body and mind. Fear of the unknown or of change and a refusal to accept and adapt to life evolving around us may be expressed with issues in the kidneys. 

WORRY / ANXIETY / OVERTHINKING 

Worry is connected to the spleen, stomach, pancreas and is represented through the element earth. Insecurity and anxiety affects our digestion, through understanding and accepting a situation in our lives. This is expressed as a lack of trust in the universe and having faith that everything will work out. This drains our body and literally affects our digestion as the angst sits like a ball of energy in our belly. When we have a lack of faith, this creates a sense of heaviness, overwork, and stubbornness. 

ANGER / FRUSTRATION / RAGE 

Anger lives in the liver and gallbladder. Frustration and fury block us from moving through how we feel and letting go of what no longer serves. Repressed anger may show up as irritation or resentment, and show up with headaches, dizziness, and disrupt liver/gallbladder health. 

JOY / HAPPINESS / LOVE

Joy lives in our hearts. When we nourish ourselves and do things that bring us joy we feed our heart center and are better able to process our experiences. When we lack joy we may feel stuck, sad, and have difficulty connecting to others. Obsessive joy is also dangerous and may point at a scatteredness and undirected energy causing mental disorders. Agitation and insomnia could be the results from mania or obsessive joy. 

The Brain / Body Relationship

Our brains are just as disturbed as our bodies by unresloved and repressed emotions, especially the limbic system of the brain. Our emotions trigger and activate specific centres in the brain, sending signals to the body as the brain processes the information. Emotions are energies in motion and as we become better at sitting with the sensations that arise, we create space to heal and adjust to the shift in energy. 

The limbic system (deals with emotion and memory), autonomic nervous system (regulates blood pressure and breath-rate), and reticular activating system (regulates behaviour) interact in the physiological processing of emotion. The limbic system categorizes our emotional experience as either good or bad, producing and regulating dopamine and serotonin levels, aka the ‘feel good’ hormones. The autonomic nervous system assists in arousal in response to emotional cues. The reticular activating system arouses the cortex and allows for emotion to be interpreted more effectively by the brain. A disruption to the conversation between your body/brain, such as repressing or avoiding how we feel, affects the delicate systems that keep your energies balanced and your mental and physical body’s healthy.

Grounding to Receive Emotion

Acceptance is key to move through emotion, as is forgiveness. Letting yourself feel all that there is to feel starts with acceptance of where you are and all the emotions that arise. Without acceptance there can be no progress or movement toward healing. Forgiveness is the second step. Without forgiveness we may become stuck in patterns that do not serve when we can’t forgive ourselves and let go of our actions of the past. This is where emotions such as guilt and shame are layered over the emotions we initially felt. We want to address what arises instead of adding layers of emotion onto the pile of emotions that we already don’t know how to deal with.

Issues and conflict arise when we feel like we have to do something or respond immediately to our frustration. fury, or fear. There are some cases when a prompt response is required, but most of the time if we took a little space to let the emotion mellow and our bodies to come down from the intensity, we would be much more capable of making an informed decision on how to proceed. Meditation, reflection, journalling, breath-work; all are practices that create space to calm the body and quiet the mind. Such practices are key to grounding and sitting with emotion so we might move through how we feel. Yoga, hiking, cycling, dancing, swimming, boxing; rock climbing; physical activity is a great way to release the accumulated emotional, physical, and mental tensions that amass when we feel intense emotions. Purging the body of excess energy through fitness and sport has a grounding effect and also makes the mind more clear and capable of finding a resolution. 


NEW CLASSES THIS WEEK:

The Ability to Sustain

A practice to quiet the mind and ground the body, this vinyasa class will have you start seated to focus breathing into your belly and heart. Ideal for pregnant yogis or anyone seeking a slower-paced vinyasa class.  

Yoga Nidra

Nidra translates as “sleep” in Sanskrit. Yoga Nidra is a guided meditation to bring your body and mind into deep relaxation. Recommended for everyone and can be helpful for those working with stress, anxiety, exhaustion and burn out.

Additional Resources

Balance energy with  Ayurvedic medicine, the sister science of yoga

Clara talks about managing Intense emotion as a mother 

Yoga & meditation to embrace the Water Element 

On Honouring and Receiving Change

adaptability

The ability to adapt and move with what arises is one of the greatest teachings of yoga as we learn to become more flexible in body and mind. Letting go of how we want to feel or how we think something should appear is one of the key themes Clara often asks her student in class: to let go and be with what is. When we let go and allow ourselves to open to receive new ideas this may provide access to a wider range of experiences, relationships, and concepts to shape the realities we share. In a previous post on Ayurvedic Medicine, we discussed the unique energies that make up our world and the importance of cultivating a lifestyle that strives for balance. The aim of Ayurvedic Medicine and the practice of yoga is to move with the fluidity and flux of the universe as we adapt to change in this weird and wonderful world we live in! 

Adapting to change is a key factor in growing and thriving in work and our work relationships. When we’re faced with discordance and discover ripples of discontent rather than giving up or surrendering to obstacles we might use this as an opportunity to learn and grow past our current state. The power of adaptability was beautifully expressed when Clara went into labour last week a full three weeks early. It was untimed and unexpected, as many of life’s major turn-of-events (sometimes) seem to be. Clara’s business model thrives on her super power of moving with the unexpected rhythms of the universe. Clara creates, adapts, and receives based on what’s happening moment-to-moment while she honours her goals and the necessary guidelines that keep her business alive. 

Clara and I discussed some of the tactics she’s used as she adapts and moves through pivotal shifts in her career as a yoga instructor, business owner, and digital media presence. Below are some of the highlights from the #PracticeWithClara Morning Gathering that illuminates the importance of going with the flow and adapting swiftly to change to grow a business.

The Will to Change and Soften

Move toward the people, places, and projects where you feel good about yourself and thrive. When we feel good about what we’re creating, we have more energy and abundance to give to the project and those around us. Change occurs when we least expect it and, more often, when we’re unhappy or discontent with where we currently are. Keep moving toward the areas where you feel supported, challenged, and alive; the creative fires inside will continue to spit out the flames when you and your team feel good about what you’re creating. 

When we feel good about what we’re creating, we have more confidence in ourselves and encounter setbacks as opportunities to shift what we’re doing and learn something new. Resistance becomes our greatest teacher. When we move past resistance and simply be with what is, we may begin to see where we need to let go in order to keep moving forward. 

For seventeen years, decade Clara has taught yoga in studios, retreat centres, and outdoor events, in countries all over the world, planning and executing experiences for yoga by herself and with other yoga teachers and enthusiasts. Clara knew that there would be setbacks, including but not limited to: low registration for retreats, last minute cancellations (for plane tickets and accommodations), conflicting opinions with studio owners or co-hosts, and disgruntled guests for a myriad of reasons. For every story that seduces and inspires, there’s a story of defeat where things didn’t go as expected and plans were changed beyond human control. One of the things that allowed Clara to stick it out through the periods of discomfort and tough-love lessons, was her passion for her craft and confidence in what she provided for her community, peers, and guests. 

From New York city teaching public yoga classes, to launching the #PracticeWithClara Community apps and online yoga platform, Clara’s built a business where she gets to do what she loves (with long hours, no shortcuts) and works alongside her life partner, Alejandro Arce, who manages the business and marketing for the #PracticeWithClara community. 

In our talk last week Clara shared some of her key learnings in how to build a business organically and adapt to the swift and surprising kicks from the world we’re all treated to time and time again. 

Clara’s Advice to Yoga Teachers: 

Do what works for YOU (and be in LOVE with what you do!)

Everyone has their own management style and workflow so what works for one person will not work for everyone. No one way is better than any other way, it’s about finding a process that serves and making realistic goals to pave a little outline for the path we want to take. Seek advice and ask all the questions, but be willing to examine your own work habits (including work/life balance) and how you prefer to interact with your community, peers, and colleagues, before writing a guidebook for how things ‘should’ be done.

Provide clear and constructive feedback

The feedback style of the #PracticeWithClara team is very straightforward. It’s one of the reasons we’re able to pivot quickly, try new things, and keep building momentum. Through clear and constructive feedback we’re able to quickly assess and readdress the things that propel us forward or hold us back. Learning how to give feedback that’s  meaningful and productive, with a clear call-to-action is valuable. It develops critical thinking skills and communication skills that we could benefit from in our work or intimate relationships.  

Hire someone who’s confident in what they do

Hiring someone who’s capable and confident in what they bring to your business enables you to refine your focus as you create something that really resonates with your community. It creates a sense of trust between you and the other person as the relationship develops with all members pitching in and equally contributing to what’s being created. It also allows for the communication to flow and feedback to be delivered with a bit more ease. When you create an environment where individuals feel supported and safe in sharing their opinions, they’ll feel more at ease in voicing their ideas and bringing new content to the business. You can’t be the best at all of the parts in your business as it grows, so developing relationships with people you know you can trust for their skills is key to manage your workload and lifestyle balance. 

Don’t force it, go with what arises

Don’t try to force anything, go with what arises day-by-day. Clara’s business model evolved over a decade as she kept adding to her business over the years. There was no rush to a specific point or create in ways she wasn’t ready for. It all came naturally. The mentorship program, where Clara provides feedback to aspiring yoga teachers, evolved naturally when a student asked for her advice. The launch of the iPhone and Android apps naturally evolved from Clara’s online web platform from an idea of Alejandro. Copying what others are doing is just that: copying something that’s already been done. Make space to explore and for new ideas to emerge, and be open and willing to receive what arises; you never know, a comment from a student may inspire something totally unique to the industry!

Soften the story

Getting caught up in a specific story or idea may hinder your ability to move forward and see all the other possibilities to be explored. When we create narratives around a particular subject and drive so hard toward a set list of goals, there’s less room to shift and see what else may be swimming in the sea of potential. Be willing to shift your to-do list. Be open to adapting to new events as they arise. Allow yourself some space to listen to those around you and see how your ideas and incentives land before driving full-force into what you initially set out to do. Sometimes, when we soften the story, new endings emerge that may be better suited to what we’re trying to achieve. 

Seek Inspiration and Guidance

I undertook a mentorship program with Clara after completing my 200-hour yoga teacher training, of which I also took with Clara. I seek inspiration from a variety of teachers in my local community and abroad, but felt strongly about aligning with a teacher who could gently encourage me into the world of yoga, multifaceted as it is in movement, philosophy, and business management. Clara was a teacher I felt I could trust, had practiced with for over a year, and shared a lot of my same values and passions (which included philosophy and reading). To this day I am grateful for my decision to seek out a mentor and learn from Clara as the experience shaped my teaching experience and how I create and contribute to the yoga community in Vancouver, BC. 

Why You Might Seek a Mentorship:

You’re going to miss your mishaps

Whenever I get really excited and dive head-first into a new project, be it professional or personal, I develop rose-coloured goggles for whatever it is I’m creating. Be it a new yoga sequence I can’t wait to teach a class or a poem I feel captures beauty. In dedicating unmeasured time, passion, and effort into a project, I become attached to my final product and may miss potential points where my message is convoluted or confused. This happens a lot, this inability to critically analyze my own work due to my closeness to it. Having a second opinion, and someone who can’t point out where you’re wrong/confused/mistaken, is essential to creating a finished product that truly resonates with your audience. This is where feedback from someone with the experience and expertise in your field will help you develop and grow your craft/business/product. 

Develop your signature style 

Growing a business or passion project requires a lot of patience and persistence. The beads of wisdom Clara served in my initial years of teaching helped me develop my teaching style, connect to local studio owners, and discern how I wanted to speak to my passions through yoga (weave in philosophy and literature). Without guidance, my temperament would have gone in fresh out of my YTT, in a time where my methods lacked creativity, consideration, and confidence. With Clara’s ongoing insight and feedback, I was able to grow into my voice and honour the space in the room that I shared with students. Instead of the insecurities and fumbles we make as new teachers, I was able to enter the community with a little more clarity around who I was and what I wanted to create with my students. 

Go With the Flow and Let It Go

Saraswati is the Goddess of knowledge, music, art, wisdom, and learning. She’s the deity one would call upon when seeking insight, learning something new, or looking for inspiration. Saraswati is a combination of the Sanskrit word, saras which means “pooling water” and vati which means “she who possesses”. She’s associated with rivers and lakes, with the fluidity and flow associated with the element water. One of the ways you may invite a more fluid energy into your life is to practice with more vinyasa-flow style and emphasis on breath. Clara has two offerings this week that honour Saraswati and the practice of letting go:

NEW CLASSES THIS WEEK

Saraswati Flow
Join Clara for a Saraswati-themed vinyasa yoga class. This class is fluid and powerful, connecting you to the essence of the Goddess as you breathe.  

Saraswati Meditation
A meditation for Saraswati to inspire something new or harness the knowledge to gain the momentum to move forwards.

And if you have questions or want to be a part of our discussions, you can join the #PracticeWithClara Community!

The Quest for Balance: Etheric and Ayurvedic Practices

ether and the quest for balance

‘Far away in the heavenly abode of the great god Indra, there is a wonderful net which has been hung by some cunning artificer in such a manner that it stretches out infinitely in all directions. In accordance with the extravagant tastes of deities, the artificer has hung a single glittering jewel in each “eye” of the net, and since the net itself is infinite in dimension, the jewels are infinite in number. There hang the jewels, glittering “like” stars in the first magnitude, a wonderful sight to behold. If we now arbitrarily select one of these jewels for inspection and look closely at it, we will discover that in its polished surface there are reflected all the other jewels in the net, infinite in number. Not only that, but each of the jewels reflected in this one jewel is also reflecting all the other jewels, so that there is an infinite reflecting process occurring.’ 
Indra’s Net, Rajiv Malhotra


With the ongoing practice of social distancing access to public resources is limited, dramatically shifting the way we occupy and explore space. While our external surroundings are minimized, making our physical worlds much smaller, there’s ample opportunity to develop our internal landscape and create space within. A practice of creating space inside may help to harmonize the body/mind and guide one through periods of upheaval and uncertainty. 

This week on the #PracticeWithClara Morning Gathering we discussed the concept of ether, which represents space and consciousness. Clara and I discussed ether and its relationship to Eastern philosophy, yoga, and other meditative practices to instil balance and create harmony in one’s lifestyle. According to Ayurvedic medicine, we contain the five elements within ourselves and the same five elements are reflected back to us through the universe. The elements represent the dynamic forces of nature and are one of the ways we seek to bring balance in our lives and the world.

Enjoy these highlights from our discussions this week!

You can join the conversation on Instagram weekdays, at @11am PST.

Ether and the Birds-Eye View

The five elements are Earth, Water, Fire, Air, and Ether. Ether is unique in that it’s contained in each of the elements whereas the rest of the elements are not expressed in ether. Ether represents space, consciousness, and the expansiveness of all things. When one moves with the essence of ether, one explores the world with a wider lens to broaden their perspective. With a broad perspective, one may move away from the small self (the ego-self) to the higher Self. The higher Self represents one’s consciousness and the capacity for awareness and realization of the interconnectedness of all beings in the universe. One might call this a connection with the Divine or God. 

Clara shared a story that captures the idea of broadening one’s perspective based on the bug’s eye-view and the birds-eye view:

There was a bug in a rug who went about his day, seeing only what was in front of him. One day, a bird flew down and scooped up the little bug and flew up high above the rug so that the bug could see the beautiful tapestry of the rug (s)he lived in. All of a sudden, the bug became aware of how big and beautiful the rug was from a higher perspective, observing the full landscape of the rug and all the little bugs who lived in it. 

In this story, we might be the bug, occupied with our day-to-day routine and perhaps begin to feel lost, lonely, and/or depressed. With the birds-eye view, we might gain perspective and witness the beauty of the world and remember that we are all a part of a bigger tapestry. The tapestry of the rug represents our interconnectedness. We each play a part in constructing and contributing to the global narrative, no matter where we are or who we are in the world. Sometimes we need to take a moment and step back, to gain the space necessary to see the sacred all around us. 

A Practice for Ether and Interconnectedness

The five elements are Earth, Water, Fire, Air, and Ether. Ether is unique in that it’s contained in each of the elements whereas the rest of the elements are not expressed in ether. Ether represents space, consciousness, and the expansiveness of all things. When one moves with the essence of ether, one explores the world with a wider lens, broadening their perspective. With this widened perspective, one may move away from the small self (the ego-self) to the higher Self. The higher Self represents one’s consciousness and the capacity for awareness and realization of the interconnectedness of all beings in the universe. One might call this a connection with the Divine or God. 

Clara shared a story, as told by Alan Watts, called a Bug in A Rug:

There once was a bug who lived in a rug. He went about his day doing what bugs do in rugs, complaining about what bugs complain about. One day a bird flew by and picked up this bug. As the bird flew higher and higher, the bug looked down and realized he lived in the most beautiful rug in the world. He never knew what the rug looked like because all he paid attention to was what was in front of him. This is the difference between the bird’s eye view and the bug’s eye view. 

The bug’s eye view represents how we generally see the world–what’s in front of us, what we have to deal with on a day to day basis. The bird’s eye view represents how we see the world when we widen our perspective. Some methods of widening our perspective are through travel, meditation, yoga, climbing literal mountains, and the like. The tapestry of the rug represents our interconnectedness. We each play a part in constructing and contributing to the global narrative, no matter where we are or who we are in the world. Sometimes we need to take a moment and step back, to gain the space necessary to see the vastness that is the universe and how we are a small part of the bigger picture

Weave Ether into your practice in these classes with Clara:
Ether Meditation
Crown Chakra Vinyasa
New Class: Ether Flow

Seeking Balance through Ayurveda

To be in the subtle state of ether where one feels calm and at ease, the rest of the body’s energies and elements must be in balance. Ayurveda is one of the oldest holistic practices of medicine, originating over 5,000 years ago in India. Ayurveda holds that overall health and wellness of an entity depends on creating balance in both body and mind. Ayurveda believes that true healing happens when you fix the source of the problem versus the symptoms. When you see a Ayurvedic doctor, they ask not only about physical symptoms but ask about your state of mind and stress levels. Heal the whole human

According to Ayurveda, each individual is made up of a particular blend of the five elements, this is known as your dosha or constitution. There are three doshas, pitta, vata and kapha. Pitta is the combination of air and fire. Vata is air and ether. Kapha is earth and water. Your constitution has two states, prakriti and vikriti. Prakriti is the constitution you’re born with, which depends upon your parents doshas, what happened in utero and the first two years of your life. Your prakriti does not change. Vikrti is the doshic constitution that you’re in at the present moment and includes the last six months of your life. This state is affected by sleep, activity, diet, stress, relationships, and environment among other things. Understanding your dosha is a two-part process. First, you would look at your prakriti (what you’re born with) based on your bodily structure, how you handle stress, how dis-ease shows up in your body, your digestion and what habits you are naturally drawn to. Second, you would look at your vikriti, what’s going on for your right now. Are both these states the same or have you veered off course? 

A Brief Introduction of the Doshas:

VATA
What kind of yoga they gravitate to: Flow and Vinyasa classes
Constitution: airy, light, anxious, imaginative, creative, forgetful.
Balance: yin yoga practice, grounding meditation, deep breath, root/lower chakras to bring the energy downwards, heavier and warm foods to nourish. 

PITTA
What kind of yoga they gravitate to: Ashtanga and Bikram
Constitution: fiery, hot, dry, sharp, quick, angry, intelligent, assimilation of new ideas.
Balance: cold and cooling foods, emphasis on longer exhaled breath, grounding/calming meditations, yin-style practice or moving meditation, very little caffeine/stimulants.

KAPHA
What kind of yoga they gravitate to: Yin and Restorative
Constitution: heavy, lethargic, smooth, glossy, grounding, warm, loving, slow.
Balance: strong breath-work (breath of fire), cold drinks, vinyasa/hatha yoga practice to get things flowing.

The rule of thumb in Ayurvedic Medicine is “like attracts like and opposite heals.”

If you’re feeling anxious and your energy is high (vata) you may want to seek the opposite energy to ground with yin-yoga (kapha). If your energy is excessive to the point of feeling hot/angry/over-stimulated (pitta) you may want to seek the opposite by doing slow, fluid, moving meditation (vata). If your energy is heavy and slow (kapha) perhaps that serves where you are in the day, or perhaps you should perform some fiery breath exercises to stimulate and get things flowing (pitta). 

The foods and beverages you consume, hours slept, stressors at work or in relationships, and various other factors all contribute to your doshic constitution and affect how you interact with the world at any given moment. 

To bring balance each morning you might ask yourself: 
  • Where am I emotionally?
  • What food choices can I make today to create balance?
  • What does my practice look like based what I need to find balance?
Tour the Element Series to discover a playlist and practice to honour each of the elements: Earth, Air, Fire, Water, and Ether within. 

Understanding the Energy of the Gunas

Samkhya is one of the oldest philosophies of yoga dating back to the Vedic period in the 14th Century. The word Samkhya translates as “numbers” and is a philosophy based on theory and empirical data. There is no Atman (Divine/God) or soul in Samkhya, instead the philosophy centers around the concepts of Purusha and Prakriti to explain how the universe works. Purusha is consciousness and would be best described as the ether/space element. Prakriti is matter. All the tangible things in the world are made of prakriti. Prakriti is expressed through the three gunas that create matter: tamas, rajas, and sattva. Akin to the doshas, each of the gunas relate to a particular type of energy. The interplay of the gunas and energies each creates and determines the life it exhibits.

Tamas: inertia, lethargy, darkness, ignorance | KAPHA
Rajas: passion, power, action, will, potential | PITTA
Sattva: compassion, lightness, truth, balance, purity | VATA 

Classical yoga philosophy is based on Samkhya philosophy. Patanjali, the author of the Yoga Sutras, wrote extensively working on being more sattvic. Sattva is free from anger and judgement, there is a higher intelligence and wisdom that comes from a clear self-understanding and trust in what simply is. Practicing a sattvic lifestyle would mean observing and balancing your doshas, depending on what you need (opposite heal’s!) each day. Typically, sattva is associated with eating local foods and lots of greens and whole grains, exercising and spending time with nature, getting enough sleep, and honouring relationships and environments that do not contribute to adding stress. 

If you want more information or access to resources, please join the #PracticeWIthClara Community Facebook Group

New Classes Online

Ether Flow
This slow and smooth yoga class asks you to create space inside and out by moving in-tune with your breath.
Rest with Ease 

Created for pregnant yogis, this class is ideal for anyone who wants a slow stretch and to open the shoulders, side body, and hips.