Inviting Peace to All Parts of Your Life

This is the final of three blog posts that details practices mentioned in A Killer Retreat.   This poem can either be used as a chant, a daily intention, or a mantra for meditation. May we all find peace this holiday season.  

Bench

Like me, my yoga teacher protagonist Kate Davidson wants to live a meaningful life. She wants to be a good person. Heck, she’d even settle for being downright boring every now and again. But that’s harder than it sounds when you’re the prime suspect in a murder investigation.

You see Kate—like most yoga teachers I know–isn’t perfect. Not even close. But when she publicly threatens to strangle a woman who gets murdered less than an hour later…

Suffice it to say that some days Kate should keep her big mouth shut.

Kate is admittedly shaken by both the murder and the accusation, so she practices yoga to remain calm. One of her go-to practices is a beautiful chant I learned almost twenty years ago. Conveying the tune is difficult without teaching chanting notation, but saying the words or mentally reciting them in meditation should be equally effective.

A Poem for Full-System Peace

Anamaya Shanti—May my body have peace.
Pranamaya Shanti—May my energy system have peace.
Manomaya Shanti—May my mind have peace.
Vijnamamaya Shanti—May my personality have peace.
Anandamaya Shanti—May my spirit have peace.
Shanti, Shanti, Shanti—Peace, peace, peace.

There’s nothing magical about the Sanskrit words; the English translation has just as much power. Try setting this intention every day for the next week or mentally reciting it the next time you feel stressed.

I hope it benefits you as much as it does Kate.

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 is available for preorder now. MURDER STRIKES A POSE is available at book sellers everywhere

Posted in Downward Dog Mysteries, Meditation, Yoga Philosophy | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Lithium Breathing: The Balancing Breath

This is the second of three blog posts that detail practices mentioned in A Killer Retreat.   This lovely breath practice helps balance energy.  Perfect for the holiday season.  Only three weeks until the official publication date!  Enjoy!

lithium breathing

This simple breath practice is great any time you need to balance your thoughts, energy, or emotions. Kate, the yoga teacher/sleuth in A Killer Retreat calls this practice Lithium Breathing, because like the medication for bipolar disorder, it balances energy whether it is manic or depressed.

This practice is perfect for any time of day, and the beauty about breath work is that you can do it anywhere—at home, on the bus, even in the middle of a meeting at work—and no one will think you’ve gone crazy.  ;-)

Lithium Breathing

  1. Come to a comfortable sitting or lying position.
  2. Notice how you feel before beginning to practice.  Don’t worry if you don’t feel as you think you “should.” Just notice whatever comes to mind and be grateful for the awareness.
  3. Gradually, over 6 breaths, lengthen both your inhale and exhale, noticing the natural pause at the end of each.
  4. Maintain the breath in step 3 for at least 6 breath cycles.  Then, break the inhale portion of your breath into two equal parts, with a natural pause both between parts and at the end of the inhale.
  5. Maintain the breath in step 4 for at least 6 breath cycles.  Then, break both the inhale and exhale portions of your breath into two equal parts, with the same natural pauses in the middle and at the end.
  6. Maintain the breath in step 5  for at least 12 breath cycles.  Do not strain the breath.  If you start to feel strain, decrease the lengths of the breath segments, and then continue with that new length for the rest of the practice.
  7. Once you finish 12 or more complete breaths at step 6,  release the pauses completely and breathe for several breaths.  Then gradually allow the breath to come back to a normal rhythm.
  8. Notice any changes you feel after this practice, without trying to judge them as “good” or bad.

Give it a try and let me know how it works.

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 is available for preorder now. MURDER STRIKES A POSE is available at book sellers everywhere

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Finding Contentment in Uncertainty

In honor of the approaching publication of A Killer Retreat on January 8, the next three blog posts will be devoted to yoga teachings and practices mentioned in the book.  Enjoy!

Forest  path

In a few weeks I’ll launch the second book in my series, A Killer Retreat. Of course, the main plot revolves around solving a murder, but my yoga teacher/sleuth Kate is also faced with a choice: should she put the brakes on her relationship with her boyfriend Michael and risk losing him forever, or should she marry him and risk losing herself? Of course, there are many other options, but those are the only two Kate can see, at least at first.

And it terrifies her.

So instead of making the decision, she does what any moderately neurotic person would do when faced with multiple, irreconcilable options: she avoids all of them.

As you might guess, the strategy doesn’t work very well, at least not for long.  In Kate’s own words, “Ignorance is bliss. Until it isn’t.”

Kate’s dilemma isn’t unique. I know from experience that running away from change only works for awhile, and it’s a short while at that. No matter how fast I run, no matter how far I go, my problems go with me. But what if the actual choices we make in life are immaterial? According to The Yoga Sutras, they may be.

The Yoga Sutras promise  that although there are many potential paths in life and at least a gazillion things over which we have no control, everything we experience–good and bad–is fodder for our growth. If that’s true, then every path we take serves us in some way.

So we can take comfort in knowing that there are no absolutes, only opportunities for our development. If you travel your pathway with mindfulness, focus, kindness and compassion, the destination will always be your true self.

The meditation below may help you find santosha—contentment—in the midst of change.

Many Paths, One Destination Meditation

  1. Close your eyes and bring attention to your breath. Focus your mind on the soft, subtle sensation of the breath as it enters and leaves your nostrils.
  2. When you are ready, imagine yourself standing at the intersection of several paths, each of which represents a different choice. There is no right choice; no wrong one, either. Only different roads to the same destination. Even though you can’t see it, contentment lies at the end of every path.
  3. In your mind’s eye, stand at this intersection with your feet planted solidly on the earth. Imagine how you will feel when you unite with contentment at the end of your journey. What will contentment look like? Feel like? Smell like? Sound like? Taste like? Involve all of your senses as vibrantly as possible.
  4. For the next several minutes, mentally and physically practice contentment, so that when you begin walking your chosen path, contentment will accompany you.
  5. Continue this meditation for several minutes or however long feels perfect.

Regardless of the paths we choose, may we all walk them in peace.

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 is available for preorder now. MURDER STRIKES A POSE is available at book sellers everywhere

Posted in Downward Dog Mysteries, Meditation, Yoga Philosophy | Tagged , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Heart Felt Thanks

trees

In just over a month, my second yoga and dog-related mystery, A Killer Retreat, will finally be released and out in the world.

Until I became a writer, I ignored the acknowledgements and dedications decorating the first pages of my favorite reads. Now, I know that they represent the many, many connections that make a book possible. Please take a moment and help me acknowledge the people who helped me birth my second written child.

To anyone I may have neglected to mention: my oversight does not make your contribution less important. You have my sincerest appreciation.

Dedication:

To my husband Marc. Without your support, my writing wouldn’t be possible.

Acknowledgements:

I always assumed writing would be a lonely endeavor. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Thank you to the readers who have contacted me to tell me that they’ve enjoyed my work and to the writers who’ve encouraged me to keep persevering. Your support means the world to me.

For A Killer Retreat, I have so many people to thank that I don’t even know where to begin.

My mom Marcia’s enthusiastic support of the series has touched me, and I’m pretty sure she has single-handedly kept the Billings Barnes and Noble in business since my first book was released. My yoga students have attended events, read my work, and given me encouragement even when I’ve struggled. My wonderful agent, Margaret Bail, editors Terri Bischoff and Connie Hill at Midnight Ink, and freelance editor Marta Tanrikulu have all given me invaluable help and feedback.

Special thanks to D.P. Lyle MD, who helped me work out the technical details of the crimes in this book. He is kind, generous with his time, and an invaluable resource to all of us in the crime writing community. Of course if there are any errors in this work, they are completely mine.

My husband, Marc, supports me in all of my crazy endeavors but chooses to work in the background, designing and maintaining my website, creating marketing materials, helping me brainstorm plot points, and putting up with the angst, heartache, joy, frustration, and excitement that are all part of being a writer. Thank you, honey.

Finally, I have to acknowledge my own personal Bella, German shepherd Tasha. You’re getting older, sweetie, so we don’t have as many adventures as we used to, but rest assured that you are woven into the fabric of my stories and branded on my heart. I hope we have many more years together. You will always be my inspiration and the greatest joy of my life.

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 is available for preorder now from Whole Life Yoga. MURDER STRIKES A POSE is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble,  and book sellers everywhere! 

Posted in Downward Dog Mysteries, Gratitude, Uncategorized, writing, Yoga Books | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Fiction, Gratitude and Real Change

 

Depositphotos_17589007_m

Today is my blog day at Inkspot, the blog for the authors of Midnight Ink.  In today’s article, I discuss gratitude, “seeing” the homeless, and Real Change.

http://midnightwriters.blogspot.com/2014/11/fiction-gratitude-and-real-change.html

I hope you enjoy it, and that you have a fabulous Thanksgiving weekend.

Namaste

Tracy Weber

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 is available for preorder now. MURDER STRIKES A POSE is available at  book sellers everywhere

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

Overcoming Eating Disorders with Yoga

Marlisa and her daughter

Marlisa and her daughter

Please welcome today’s guest, Marlisa Papp.  Marlisa has a powerful message about how yoga can help overcome eating disorders and other additions.  Please read my comment at the end, to learn more about her next steps in helping others fighting addiction.

According to NationalEatingDisorder.org, an estimated 24 million Americans suffer from an eating disorder and 1 out of 5 women struggle with some level of disordered eating. That’s 24 million people I want to help, not only because I feel strongly about it, but because I used to be one of them.

I have suffered from anorexia and bulimia for decades in my own life. I have been admitted to numerous inpatient settings as well as years of counseling. I was spiritually broken and disconnected from many things in life, including myself. I am now in recovery, not because of all the external help I received, but the fact that I was finally able to let go of control and surrender with the guidance of some very special teachers and mentors.

Most people who suffer from addiction state that they use to dull the pain or escape their problems through a detrimental substance or practice. For me, I turned to yoga. It helps me gain insight into how to stay with the pain and heal the underlying reasons. Everyone has pain, but we can choose to not suffer in harmful ways. I dabbled in yoga for many years as part of my own recovery, but did not truly comprehend the powerful transformation one experiences until I let go of what I thought was control and let my practice shape me in a way I never knew existed. What I found from practicing yoga for my own recovery and being dedicated to this practice on a regular basis was learning about limiting beliefs about myself that have kept me in my disordered eating, cultivating acceptance and trust, observing my thoughts and feelings by slowing my breath down, setting healthy boundaries, living in balance, non-judgmental awareness of self and others, and compassion and empathy towards myself and others.

People ask, “What is yoga?” It is a UNION with the body, mind and spirit, or a connection with the self and others. It is about recognizing the Lower self, ego, attachments, self-sabotaging behavior (like alcohol, drugs, food, gambling, workaholism, co-dependency, as well as lying and manipulating), and the Higher self (like the person who loves unconditionally, who has passions and a purpose in life, who is content, grateful, generous and honest). When we are aware of both of these sides in ourselves through slowing down and paying attention, then we have a choice to change. Yoga is a practice in life that brings about change physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually if one can slow down, accept and surrender.

This is the foundation to true freedom from addiction. All the answers come from within not what your family members, friends, community or society thinks you should do to change.

From Tracy: Are you interested in helping with her work?  Marlisa is currently raising funds on DreamFund.com, the circle giving platform for important dreams, to establish a private practice in Montana (which is my home state!) to ”help clients on their journey of recovery (alcohol and drug abuse, eating disorders, co-dependency issues, gambling, workaholism, anxiety and depression).

About Marlisa: I am a Holistic Health Counselor and a Licensed Addiction Counselor and I am currently participating in an Intensive Yoga Certification Program. I have been working for a state agency for years facilitating Outpatient, Intensive Outpatient and Intensive Relapse Prevention groups as well as individual sessions. At times I teach mindfulness, yoga and meditation as part of my patients’ treatment plan. They love it and find a new sense of peace in their recovery as they slow their minds and thoughts down long enough to grasp some of the underlying reasons why they participated in self-harm behavior.

Come visit Whole Life Yoga in Seattle, and check out Tracy Weber’s author page for information about the Downward Dog Mysteries series. 

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‘tis the Season to do Yoga

sheryl

This week’s blog entry was written by guest author Sheryl Stich. Sheryl is a graduate of Whole Life Yoga’s 500-hour yoga teacher training program and a teacher at Whole Life Yoga. She can be contacted at sheryl@calmawakenings.com.

When I was a kid, the holidays were a time of joy and enchantment – but then I grew up! Now I look at the calendar and gasp “Oh my, the holiday season is creeping up too quickly!” My palms start to sweat slightly, my heart rate increases and my breathing is shallow. I need to start thinking about dinners, parties, presents and travel! I wonder out loud, “What can I do this year to ease my way through the holiday season?” Then, I remember my yoga practice. I bring my attention to my breath and pretty soon I am feeling calm and at peace.  Hmm…maybe I can experience the feeling of joy and enchantment during the holidays again.

Our yoga practice offers us a great opportunity to tune into the present moment, helping us become centered and focused, and find the calm and peace deep down inside. Take moments to really notice and enjoy your surroundings this year. The smell of trees, twinkling lights, candles in windows, holiday music (yes, even those old holiday songs can still bring some joy). The simple act of finding your breath—even in the middle of the shopping mall or at dinner with the family—will help you to connect to that ever-present calm within.

As you enjoy some time off of work, maybe a trip or vacation, lots of family – and lots of food – remember it can also mean you could find yourself out of your regular routine or away from your yoga practice – all when you could use yoga the most!

Drawing from my personal experience, I have designed a yoga class series, Yoga for Happy Holidays. If you are like me, your schedule is probably completely nuts during the holidays, but finding time to relax is essential for your sense of well-being. Have a wonderful and relaxing holiday season this year.

Sheryl Stich

Come visit Whole Life Yoga in Seattle, and check out Tracy Weber’s author page for information about the Downward Dog Mysteries series. 

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Five Questions to Ask Yourself when Choosing a Yoga Teacher Training Program

Who says yoga teacher training can’t be fun?

Seattle is  blessed with a wide variety of yoga teacher training programs.  Although I’m partial to the one offered at Whole Life Yoga, to be completely honest, many of the programs offered by other studios are also quite good.  So how do you choose?  Reflecting on the five questions below may help.

  1. What style of yoga are you drawn to? This question actually has two parts. Consider the style of yoga you personally like to practice, as well as the style that would best suit the audience you want to teach. Some yoga teacher training programs (including my own) adhere rigorously to a given lineage; others teach a blended approach.  Either way, make sure that you understand and can support whatever you’ll learn. Never embark on a teacher training program if you don’t appreciate the style you will be learning. Doing so will lead to frustration and disappointment.
  2. Does the structure of the program meet your learning style? Some students learn best when fully immersed in the teachings, as is the case with residential trainings. Others do better with what I call a trickle approach, in which bite-size pieces of information are provided consistently over a longer period of time. Are you more likely to learn when you remove yourself from the rigors of your daily life or when you integrate your yoga practice into it?
  3. Do the program’s requirements realistically fit your schedule? Find out the full program costs, time, and other commitments of the training.  Cost calculations should include any extra classes you’ll be required to attend, mentoring costs, materials, registration fees, and lodging. When you’re budgeting time, include the time you will actually spend in yoga teacher training classes, personal practice time, teaching time, and written homework. Are there make-up options if you miss class? Be honest with yourself. Choose a program that has the flexibility you need while still offering a rigorous learning experience.
  4. Are you drawn to the primary teacher(s) of the program? Some teacher training programs are taught almost exclusively by a single teacher; others use a panel of different instructors for different topics. If you’ll be studying with multiple teachers, who will be responsible for mentoring you and helping assure your success? If there is a primary teacher, get to know them. Do you respect them? Do you trust them? At a minimum, you’ll spend 200 to 500 hours of your life with this person. Hopefully your connection will last significantly longer. Make sure the student/teacher fit is a good one.
  5. Do you want/need a certification that is nationally recognized? Love them or hate them, Yoga Alliance is the only nationally-recognized regulatory body in the yoga community. If your program is registered with Yoga Alliance, you may have teaching opportunities that others do not. Not every person who attends a yoga teacher training intends to teach, however.  Is a nationally recognized certification important to you?

As with most questions in life, there are no right answers, only answers that are right for you. If you’re interested in learning more about Whole Life Yoga’s program, I’d be happy to meet and discuss our program in detail.

Best of luck to you in your yoga journey, whatever particular path you decide.

Tracy Weber

Come visit Whole Life Yoga in Seattle, learn about our Yoga Alliance Registered yoga teacher training program, and check out Tracy Weber’s author page for information about the Downward Dog Mysteries series. 

Posted in Teacher Training, Teaching Yoga, Uncategorized, Viniyoga | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

It’s Not a Bug, It’s a Feature!

If you look closely, there might be a hidden message on this shirt!

Today’s my day to blog on Ink Spot–the blog for the writers of Midnight Ink. This week, I’m writing about a wonderful experience I had recently that was the direct result of a mistake.

http://midnightwriters.blogspot.com/2014/10/its-not-bug-its-feature.html

What if, as the sutras say, there are no mistakes?  What if mistakes are meant to draw us closer?

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 is available for preorder now from Whole Life Yoga. MURDER STRIKES A POSE is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble,  and book sellers everywhere! 

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

The Challenge of Saying Goodbye

Hands released into the sky to the white dove

September was a tough month for me, on many levels. My dog’s health started to fail; my own wasn’t that much better. We had a minor flood at the studio, and my husband managed to bring home every virus in the greater Seattle area. We’re all doing much better now, knock on wood.

But throughout the challenges of last month, one constant remained: writing. I sent an early draft of my third book, Karma Can Be Killer, to my agent and editor on September 20th. October 3rd, A Killer Retreat went off to my publisher for its final, final edits. (Which means that I have to trust that what I’ve written will be “good enough.”)

Once they were floating on the Internet ether, I found myself in that achingly empty zone between writing and feedback. I love my two newest creations, but will my readers? And if they don’t…

I try not to think about that. ;-)

Instead, I look around my shamefully messy home, feeling slightly off kilter, My 500-hour yoga teacher training program winds up in January. The next 200-training starts a few weeks later. In less than a month, I’ll be eyebrows deep in book launch activities for second book while writing revisions of my third.

Friends tell me to sit back and take a breather. My husband says I should finally pick up a vacuum. Instead, I spend my days pondering. What should I do next? I won’t know if Midnight Ink plans to renew my first series for at least six months, maybe even a year. Should I continue writing Kate’s story and trust it will find a publishing home? Maybe I ought to start the Maui-based series that’s been tickling me? Perhaps it’s time to play with the Orcas Island-based spinoff that has been rattling around in my head for almost two years now?

Then again, I could experiment with nonfiction. A friend recently told me I should write the true story of my life with Tasha-dog; two veterinarians suggested the same thing. She’s certainly taught me life lessons that I’d like to pass on to the next generation. Then again, if I’m going to make my living as an author, perhaps it’s time to take my first writing class.

I’m sure it won’t be long before something fills the void, but in the meantime I’m content to float for awhile, daydreaming. That’s the beauty of writing. I create my own worlds, fall in love with my characters, and have the privilege of saying goodbye over and over and over again. It’s not much different than birthing a child, or certifying a yoga teacher training class, for that matter.

As I stand at the crossroads, I only know one thing. Whatever comes next will sometimes be frustrating, sometimes frightening, sometimes fulfilling. Please wish me luck on the journey.

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 is available for preorder now from Whole Life Yoga. MURDER STRIKES A POSE is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble,  and book sellers everywhere! 

Posted in Downward Dog Mysteries, Teacher Training, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments