Embracing Distraction in Corpse Pose: Answer to a Student Question

A Whole Life Yoga student asks: “How can I tune out snoring and other noises in Savasana (Corpse Pose)?”

This is an excellent question, and it brings me back to the true purpose of Corpse Pose. Corpse Pose isn’t a time of quiet nothingness. It’s a period of active meditation. Snoring is simply another of life’s many distractions, not all that different from ringing cell phones, rumbling lawnmowers, or annoying music. Our reactions to life’s distractions are more about us than the distractions themselves.

Imagine, if you will, a happy yogini—I’ll call her Judy—resting on her back in a blissful Savasana. The man next to her starts snoring. Snoring is simply a sound, neither good nor bad.  The yogini’s gremlin mind, however, makes it all about her.  Oh good Lord, that man is snoring again. Why doesn’t the teacher do something about it? Doesn’t she realize that man is ruining my practice? Left unchecked, Judy’s mind will reel with righteous indignation, as if one man’s cat nap is some sort of attack on her personally. Judy’s practice may indeed be ruined, but I’m not so sure it’s the snorer’s fault.

Instead of your letting your monkey mind take control over you, why not take control over it? There are many different ways to do this, but one of the most powerful is to simply notice. Not the sound that’s distracting you, but your reaction to it. Do you feel irritation? Humor? Embarrassment? Frustration? Whatever you notice, don’t allow your mind to amplify it. Instead, notice the thought; notice the emotion. Then bring your mind back to the feeling of the breath in your body. Over time, you might that the snoring isn’t nearly as distracting as you originally thought.

Remember, yoga is a symbol of the rest of your life. Do you have similar thoughts and reactions to distractions in your daily life? Would your life be more peaceful if, instead of allowing your thoughts to control you, you controlled them?

If you learn how to remain focused during distraction in Savasana, you might notice a ripple effect in the rest of your life.

I hope that helps.

Namaste

Tracy Weber

          A Killer Retreat

Come visit Whole Life Yoga in Seattle, and check out Tracy Weber’s author page for information about the Downward Dog Mysteries series.  A KILLER RETREAT and MURDER STRIKES A POSE are available at book sellers everywhere!

Posted in Meditation, Student Questions | Tagged , | 4 Comments

When the Truth Will Cause Harm, Say Nothing

As many of you know, I’ve been traveling to promote my most recent mystery. The greatest part of conferences and signing events is getting to know other writers and readers on a more personal level. I have to admit though, it’s challenging for me. I don’t like traveling without my loved ones, and I’ve already earned more than my share of frequent flyer miles.  Still, I’m forcing myself to get out there and do it.  Most of the time I feel great about my interactions.  Sometimes, I don’t. 

This past weekend I had an odd conflict that ended badly.  No blows were thrown. Neither of us landed in a jail cell. But I’m pretty sure that a newly forming friendship was irreparably damaged. The argument started over dinner when a fellow writer animatedly criticized the presentations at a “new author” event. I pretended to take her words personally (I was one of the presenters) but that wasn’t the issue. I felt quite confident in my performance that morning.  Pretending to be personally affronted was simply the easiest way to end the discussion. Or so I thought.

My true emotion was one of protectiveness–like a grizzly bear defending her cubs.  Frankly, I was happy for my new author friends that morning. Public speaking comes easily to me. I’ve done it competitively since I was 14, and I make my living teaching. But for some people, it is terrifying. Finding the courage to present to  over 100 people can be a huge accomplishment. It’s easy for someone with greater experience to pass judgment on a newbie’s less-than-perfect job. It’s even easier to talk about it when the person being criticized isn’t  in the room.  But who does it help?

Believe me, I’m not the victor here, and no one who watched that interaction would want me as their role model. I suspect that if you asked five of the six people at the table, they’d tell you I was the one out of line. But there’s a lesson to be learned, and that lesson is worth sharing.  The yoga teachings on communication say it best.

Speak less.

Speak only the truth.

When the truth will cause harm, say nothing.

In hindsight, that’s what I should have done at that dinner. Said nothing. Even better, I should have simply found an excuse to leave the table.  And, as the Sutras also teach, my reaction said more about me than the person I reacted to.  Maybe I’m more like my protagonist, Kate, than I care to admit. It’s time for me to re-examine the other communications in my life.  I already see a few patterns that need changing.

How about you?  Are there times you should say nothing?

Namaste

Tracy Weber

          A Killer Retreat

Come visit Whole Life Yoga in Seattle, and check out Tracy Weber’s author page for information about the Downward Dog Mysteries series.  A KILLER RETREAT and MURDER STRIKES A POSE are available at book sellers everywhere

Posted in writing, Yoga Philosophy | 6 Comments

Ode to a New Class

I recently finished reading the pre-work essays for my newest yoga teacher training. Now that we’re underway, I have a confession to make: I didn’t want to start this training.

Having second thoughts at the beginning of a new class isn’t unusual for me. Leading this program is a ton of work and responsibility. Every time I choose to begin, I commit to a year of being present both physically and emotionally to support the hearts, dreams, and aspirations of seedling yoga teachers.

As most people know, my husband’s and my life may change significantly in the coming year, which has caused us to rethink where we will live. And even if we stay in Seattle, I’m likely to spend more time writing my thoughts than saying them out loud.

None of that was the real problem, though. My biggest obstacle to bonding with this group was my attachment to the class that preceded them. I love all of my students, but my last advanced class was special. We’d been together for over two years, and they had cemented themselves permanently in my heart. I said goodbye to them at a retreat that felt deep, profound, and transformational. The perfect finish to my yoga teaching training career. I was complete.

And I was scheduled to start another class in less than a month.

I had no choice, at least not one I could live with. Some of the students in my new group had been waiting for this program for over two years. All had reorganized their lives to accommodate eleven months of training. When I accepted them into the training, I made a promise. And when I promise something, I always deliver.

Today I realized why. After reading about the life experiences of these thirty-two yogis, I can say that I’m touched. They have arrived at my doorstep via pathways paved with challenges. They’ve endured traumas: divorce, death, illness, addiction. They found respite in yoga, and they know that yoga is about more than stretching your hamstrings. Yoga is about finding clarity, entering life’s battlefields without flinching, and making it to the other side whole.

I don’t know why I’ve been so blessed. Lord knows I’m not always the most yogic yoga teacher. When it comes to teaching yoga, I have reasonable talent, but I’m certainly no rock star. There’s very little I offer that others couldn’t do as well or better. Yet for some reason, the universe has gifted me with many wonderful students to help guide my journey, all while I pretend to guide theirs.

As for this new crop of students, I can say one thing with certainty: I’m falling in love all over again.

Thank you for sharing the next year with me.

Namaste

Tracy Weber

          A Killer Retreat

Come visit Whole Life Yoga in Seattle, and check out Tracy Weber’s author page for information about the Downward Dog Mysteries series.  A KILLER RETREAT and MURDER STRIKES A POSE are available at book sellers everywhere! 

Posted in Gratitude, Teacher Training, Teaching Yoga | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Join the Mediation Party

This week’s blog entry was written by guest author Jenny Zenner. Jenny is a graduate of Whole Life Yoga’s teacher training program and a promising writer. She  can be contacted at jzenner@gmail.com.

buddha

Toying with the idea of meditating? Maybe you think to yourself, yeah, but it looks like you need all this paraphernalia. I don’t have a puffy cushion or a gong or an auspicious altar. So how can I even begin?

I’ll admit, I’m someone who likes a prop or two. I own a few sets of mala beads including a string of bodhi tree seeds harvested from the mountaintop where the Buddha attained enlightenment.

Guess what…you don’t need all the props. You already have everything you need: your body and your breath. If you are someone who wants a prop or two, I’ll show you how you can take simple household items and make do.

What better time than Mardi Gras aka Fat Tuesday? Mardi is Tuesday in French. Mardi Gras falls on the eve of Lent, the day before Ash Wednesday. It’s a time of closing out winter and inviting spring, clearing out and indulging before a time of repentance. Celebration. Part of that celebration in the New Orleans festival includes tossing strings of beads from floats in parades. Down in the French Quarter those beads are earned by women willing to lift their tops.  Regardless of how you may have come into possession of a set, if you happen to have some stuffed in a drawer or dangling from your rear view mirror, grab them and find a seat.

No party beads? No problem. Pull out your grandma’s pearls, a rosary for you Catholics, or even a string of Christmas lights. If the string you are using doesn’t have a marker on it like a clasp, larger bead, or cross, simply tie a ribbon or rubber band on it so you have a start and end point.

When I meditate with a string of beads, I have a tangible timer. I don’t have to worry if I remembered to set my phone or watch. An annoying alarm doesn’t jolt me out of my meditative state. When I get impatient, I can always take a peek to see how close I am to nearing the end of the string.

Find a comfortable seat in a chair, on the floor, a park bench, or the solace of your car in a parking lot. Hold the string in one hand between your thumb and middle finger (picture holding a pencil). With your thumb on the bead next to your marker, take a breath in and release the breath. At the end of your exhale, let your thumb advance to the next bead and breathe your inhale and exhale. If you find your mind wandering, tell yourself breathing in with your inhale, and with your exhale tell yourself breathing out. Keep it simple, come back to the bead in hand and your breath. Advance until you are back at your marker. Going through my string of 108 beads takes less than 15 minutes. I also have a bracelet with 12 beads for a mini meditation.

Repurpose those party beads for a joyful practice.

Jenny Zenner founded Seeds Yoga www.seedsyoga.com. Based in Seattle, WA, she’s a former addictions counselor turned yoga teacher, recruiter, career coach, and writer, being mindful in as many moments as she can muster as a mom to twin boys. Follow her on Twitter or Facebook and of course connect on LinkedIn.

Posted in Guest Writers, Meditation, Teacher Training Graduate Stories | 2 Comments

Do Awards Boost Anything Except Egos?

maxwellMedallion[1]

Hi all!  Today is my monthly blogging day for my publisher, Midnight Ink.   I’m writing about my series, winning the Maxwell Award for Fiction, and why I think the two things together may save lives.

Check it out at http://midnightwriters.blogspot.com/2015/02/do-awards-boost-anything-except-egos.html.  I’ll be back here next week with a new yoga article!

Tracy Weber

          A Killer Retreat

Come visit Whole Life Yoga in Seattle, and check out Tracy Weber’s author page for information about the Downward Dog Mysteries series.  A KILLER RETREAT and MURDER STRIKES A POSE are available at book sellers everywhere! 

Posted in dogs, Downward Dog Mysteries, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Yoga for Health Fact Sheet and Yoga Research

I haven’t written much about yoga research lately, mainly because I’ve been heads-down in the book launch events for my second novel. But recently I stumbled across a fact sheet from the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health that was too good not to pass on.

The article summarizes key facts about yoga, including side effects and risks, recent scientific research, and key points to keep in mind if you are considering starting a yoga practice. As a side bonus, there’s a detailed bibliography of additional articles and links to three videos, one of which includes a list of “dos and don’ts.”

Here are some of my key takeaways:

A carefully designed yoga practice has been proven to:

  • Decrease back pain
  • Increase range of motion
  • Decrease heart rate and blood pressure
  • Relieve symptoms of both anxiety and depression
  • Improve quality of life and reduce stress
  • Reduce insomnia
  • Improve overall physical fitness, strength and flexibility
  • Be safe for healthy individuals when practiced under the guidance of a well trained-instructor

And a couple of surprises:

  • Studies done thus far have not found yoga to be helpful for asthma. (Side note: I wonder how much pranayama—if any—was included. I’d have to look at the full study to weigh in on this.)
  • The benefits of yoga for arthritis are equivocal. (Some studies find it helpful, some do not.) Future research is ongoing to see if yoga has different benefits for patients with rheumatoid arthritis versus osteoarthritis. Scientists are also trying to decide if yoga practice may be more helpful for some joints than others.

This sentence, taken directly from the article, almost made my heart sing: “Everyone’s body is different, and yoga postures should be modified based on individual abilities.” This is, of course, the hallmark of Viniyoga. How could I not agree?

Future studies are planned to determine yoga’s effects on a variety of other health conditions, including immune function, diabetes risk, PTSD, and HIV. I can’t wait to see the results!

If you’re at all interested in learning more about yoga, particularly its therapeutic effects, I highly recommend you check out this article. Lots of great information packed into eight very readable pages. Let me know what you think!

Tracy Weber

          A Killer Retreat

Come visit Whole Life Yoga in Seattle, and check out Tracy Weber’s author page for information about the Downward Dog Mysteries series.  A KILLER RETREAT and MURDER STRIKES A POSE are available at book sellers everywhere! 

Posted in Asana, Breath, Therapeutic Yoga, Viniyoga, Yoga Research | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Yoga Meditation for Childbirth

Please welcome today’s guest , Tess Jones.  Tess is a yoga teacher, freelance writer, and mother of two.  Thanks for joining us, Tess!

TessJones_3

Meditation is a great tool to use during the physical and mental challenges of childbirth. Slowing your breath and focusing on a meditation can calm your mind and allow your body to let the contractions come.

There are many types of meditations. Some guide you to clear your mind and focus on your breath, while others have you focus on a word, phrase, image, or object. Some ask you to sit or lay still, while others may guide you to move your hands or your body. Use what works for you, trying different things until you find something you connect with that brings you to a place of peace, calm, and grounding in your body.

Once you have a few that you like, practice your meditations in the months leading up to your birth so that you feel familiar with them and can recall them quickly. Teach them to your birth partner or doula, since during labor you may not remember to try them.

Below is a short meditation to try at home:

Grounding Meditation for Pregnant Mothers –Hands on Heart and Belly

  • Find a comfortable seat, or lay on your side. Use pillows to prop yourself until comfortable.
  • Take two full minutes to relax. Breathe naturally and evenly.
  • Place one hand on your heart and the other on your belly. Slightly tuck your chin. Fill your heart and your belly with breath on your inhales feeling them rise, and feel them fall on your exhales. Let go of any thoughts that you are holding onto. Feel a sense of inner strength, grounding down, and ultimate peace filling your body. Clear your mind as you calm your body.

If you’re looking for more meditations to try, there are two free downloadable audio meditations on my website circleheartbooks.com. These audio files can be added to your iphone and listened to for a quick calm-down moment during your day. I also have several other meditations in my book Yoga for Birth. Yoga for Birth is available on Amazon.com. It features prenatal poses, meditations, affirmations, philosophy, and more for pregnant mothers and their birth partners. The book was photographed and independently produced in the greater Seattle area.

About the Author

Tess Jones is a freelance writer and mother of two who has practiced yoga since 2002. She has studied hatha, vinyasa, prenatal, and postnatal yoga teaching. Her yoga focuses on mindful movement, self-awareness, and discovering the peaceful, grounded strength within ourselves. Her books and yoga-related articles can be found on her website circleheartyoga.com.

Come visit Whole Life Yoga in Seattle, and check out Tracy Weber’s author page for information about the Downward Dog Mysteries series.   The second book in the series, A Killer Retreat, is available at booksellers everywhere!

 

Posted in Guest Writers, Meditation, Prenatal Yoga, Yoga Books | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Saying Goodbye

Sixteen months ago, I led a retreat at the Grunewald Guild in Leavenworth, Washington. That wonderful weekend was the beginning of the journey that I started with twenty-nine other yogis. Ten days ago, I let a retreat at Jim Creek Recreation Area in Arlington, Washington. That weekend completed the journey.

I thought I knew what I was getting myself into. You see, each of those yogis was a graduate of my two hundred-hour yoga teacher training program. Two of them started with me in my very first class in 2003. Three of them—the assistants—had already taken advanced teacher training with me before.  Ten of the participants either were or had been my employees. Even the “newbies” had studied with me for at least a year.

So I should have known them, right? And I did, individually. But somehow when we came together as a group, something wonderful happened. This collection of kind, caring, honest, and intelligent people formed a community. A group that held together through automobile crashes, health scares, surgeries, breakups, job losses, and raising teenagers. A group that bonded and trusted and leaned on each other for help.

We had a few arguments (but shockingly few, honestly), and we got off track hundreds of times. We even had to cut some material. But I can honestly say that I don’t think I’ve ever taught a group that so truly got yoga at its essence. Connection.

To my newest graduates: Saying goodbye at the end of our final weekend together was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I told you that I needed another year to teach you everything you needed to know. That was a lie. In reality, you are already wiser than I will ever be. You already understand what’s most important. Then again, you always did. It was I who needed another year with you and your loving energy. I miss you already.

So today, in this blog, I sing to you the chant we sang at the beginning of each class—in English this time—and share it with my yoga friends reading this blog.

We have  come together as student and teacher to share this time of learning.
Let us have energy and awareness to fulfill this task.
Let us be protected, and nourished, and cherish our time together.
Om, peace, peace, peace.

I did, indeed, cherish our time together. I hope our paths continue to cross over and over and over again.

Namaste

Tracy Weber

          A Killer Retreat

Come visit Whole Life Yoga in Seattle, and check out Tracy Weber’s author page for information about the Downward Dog Mysteries series.  A KILLER RETREAT and MURDER STRIKES A POSE are available at book sellers everywhere! 

Posted in Gratitude, Teacher Training, Viniyoga | 16 Comments

A Great Big Thank You

Tracy MacDonald and Fiona

Tracy MacDonald and Fiona

Today is my blogging day on Inkspot., the blog for the authors of Midnight Ink.  And it seems only fitting at the end of my book launch to thank some of the great people who have helped me make it such a success.  Even better–I have never met any of these people in person!

The gifts of yoga live everywhere–even in people who’ve never done a single pose.  Check out some of my favorites at http://midnightwriters.blogspot.com/2015/01/liftoff-success.html

Thanks all!  Next week I’ll be back to my normal yoga blog!

Tracy Weber

          A Killer Retreat

Come visit Whole Life Yoga in Seattle, and check out Tracy Weber’s author page for information about the Downward Dog Mysteries series.  A KILLER RETREAT and MURDER STRIKES A POSE are available at book sellers everywhere! 

Posted in Downward Dog Mysteries, Gratitude, writing | Leave a comment

A Killer Retreat Book Launch Week 2: Wrapping up the Big Push

 

Missi Svoboda Re-enacts the cover photo of A Killer Retreat!

Missi Svoboda Re-enacts the cover photo of A Killer Retreat!

My book launch actually extends well into February, but the first two weeks are the craziest.  Here’s a summary of what happened this week:

Reviews from Mystery Blogs:  Check out the fun reviews from posted by the bloggers below:  If you’ve seen any that I haven’t please let me know!

  • Traci Andrighetti’s Blog “As both a yogini and a dog lover, I particularly appreciated the way that Kate’s yoga practice and Bella (and her medical condition) were incorporated into the plot.”
  • WV Sticher:Tracy Weber provides a page turning read with Killer Retreat, the second book in the Downward Dog Mystery series.
  • Read Your Writes Book Reviews:A Killer Retreat is told in first person, which gives you a great look into Kate’s crazy personality.”
  • Escape with Dollycas into a Good Book:The story has it all, action, drama, humor and romantic tension
  • Libriamorimiei“If you love dogs and cozy mysteries is absolutely a book to read.”

Guest articles and interviews: In addition to this blog, I’m contributing guest articles to other blogs in the upcoming weeks.  The ones below posted in the past week.

  • Radio Interview on My Mama’s Kitchen (Aired Tuesday, January 13) This interview was special because it spoke primarily about yoga and why I love it so much.
  • Kelly P’s BlogYoga for Mystery Readers. Yoga is good for everyone! In this article, I discuss the key benefits of a consistent yoga practice for mystery readers.

More upcoming events: If you’re in the area, come see me!

  • Book signing at Third Place Books,  (Thursday, January 29, 7 – 8 PM)
  • Book signing at Shoreline Costco (Saturday, January 31, 12:30 – 2:30 PM) Shoreline, WA
  • Book signing at Garfield Book Company (Friday, February 6,  6 – 7 PM) Tacoma, WA
  • Book signing at Page 2 Books (Saturday, February 7, 1:30 – 2:30 PM) Burien, WA
  • Book signing at Barnes and Noble (Saturday, February 14, 1:30 – 2:30) Federal Way, WA

Thanks all!

Tracy Weber

          A Killer Retreat

Come visit Whole Life Yoga in Seattle, and check out Tracy Weber’s author page for information about the Downward Dog Mysteries series.  A KILLER RETREAT and MURDER STRIKES A POSE are available at book sellers everywhere! 

Posted in dogs, Downward Dog Mysteries, writing, Yoga Books | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment