Why I love Sequence Whiz

Hand with thumb up isolated on white background. Ok sign by womanI’ve been meaning to write a blog about this website for over a year now. Like me, Olga Kabel is a yoga therapist who has been certified through the American Viniyoga Institute.  She is making huge contributions in the yoga world. Not only has she developed one of the best yoga sequence drawing tools I’ve seen, she also offers free videos and virtual yoga privates via Skype.

What I really love about her Sequence Whiz site, though, are the articles.  Most of them are not only Viniyoga friendly—they are Viniyoga accurate and commonsensical, meaning that her articles promote safe and sane yoga practices that are likely to help, not injure, practitioners.  I often share her blog articles with my teacher training students.  Maybe someday she’ll write a textbook I can use in my teacher training!

In the meantime, here are four great examples of the articles you can find there:

Whether you’re a yoga teacher, a yoga student, or simply someone interested in body mechanics, I highly recommend that you check out Olga’s website and sign up for her bimonthly newsletter.  You’ll be pleasantly surprised at the professionalism, depth, and accuracy of the information she provides. And the graphics are simply out of this world!

Check it out and let me know what you think.

Tracy

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PS–all three books in my Downward Dog mystery series are now available!  Learn more at http://tracyweberauthor.com.  Thanks for reading!

The Psychology of Murder

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Hey all!  This week I’m blogging at Inkspot (the blog for the writers of Midnight Ink)  about the psychology of murder, or more specifically, how I integrate the psychology of crime into my mystery series.  Check it out!

http://midnightwriters.blogspot.com/2016/05/the-psychology-of-murder.html

See you there!

Tracy Weber

PS–all three books in my Downward Dog mystery series are now available!  Learn more at http://tracyweberauthor.com.  Thanks for reading!

Training Your Mind

I am delighted to welcome author Jennifer Niles here to the Whole Life Blog today!  Jennifer recently published My Yoga Transformation: One Woman’s Story of Her Healing Yoga Journey and 85 Pound Weight Loss, which outlines her journey with yoga and how it changed her life–in every way for the better.  Check out the excerpt below, and support her by reading her work!

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“Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” ~Napoleon Hill

Thoughts become words, which become actions, which become habits, which become character, which becomes your destiny.  Since you “bring about what you think about,” obviously it would be wise to learn how to control your incessant thoughts.  You have to understand that your mind is designed to be constantly working in at least some capacity for 24 hours a day.  So, if the mind insists on focusing on something at all times, give it something positive or calming to focus on.

Training your mind is not the easiest task.  Especially if you are anything like I was prior to starting a yoga practice and learning about the ego.  That pesky little voice in the back of my mind, the ego, was running wild day after day and needlessly stressing me out over anything and everything that was less than perfect about my life.  By identifying with the mind instead of the soul, we give that little voice/ego the power to consume so much of our time and energy by dominating our thoughts and limiting our potential.

During my initial yoga years, during the time when I was suddenly feeling the desire to gradually cut down on my drinking and partying, my ego never ceased to remind me, “You are a party girl; therefore you must go out and drink with your friends tonight.  Who cares if it is a Monday night and you just feel like staying home, cooking dinner and doing some yoga.  You have to go get drunk instead.  It is who you are and what you have always done, and it is what you will always do.  You can’t change now.  Who will you be if you are not a party girl?  Party girls don’t stay home and do yoga!  Now go out and get wasted with your friends!”

For a long time, I identified with my ego and therefore let its persuasive little speeches win the battle every time.  Despite what my heart and soul wanted to do, which was sometimes to just stay home and dry out for a night, I would get in my car, drive to the bar, and proceed to get drunk until I could barely stand up without stumbling all over the place.  When you identify with and listen to your ego instead of your heart/soul, you will just continue doing the same destructive things, day after day.  Never changing, never growing, and never evolving.

I knew that my yoga practice was really starting to work when my heart/soul began winning the battle more times than my ego.  The nights that I actually stayed home to practice yoga versus drinking at the bars became more and more frequent.  Over time, my nights at the bars became obsolete.  If my lack of wanting to get drunk wasn’t a result of my yoga practice, I don’t know what is.

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Jennifer B. Niles is an author, yogi, vegan, and animal rights activist currently living on a small island in the South Pacific. Born and raised on the East Coast, Jennifer moved to California in her 20’s, where she taught yoga and enjoyed living among the palm trees.  During her time living in the South Pacific, Jennifer was finally able to pursue her lifelong dream of writing books.  Blessed (or cursed) with the opportunity to go through many drastic life-changing experiences, Jennifer mainly writes about her lessons learned in an attempt to help other people who may be struggling with the same or similar issues.

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. 

Yogi Interview of the Month–Laura Miller!

Please join me in welcoming Whole Life Yogi Laura Miller to the Whole Life Blog this month.  I’ve been honored to have Laura in my teacher training this past year, and she’s been kind enough to answer a few questions for me today.  You can reach Laura at msnailtek@yahoo.com and on her Facebook page.  Laura, take it away!

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Why and when did you start practicing yoga?

I remember being a little girl and when you would walk out of the grocery store there were these little small books about everything from dieting and recipes to different kinds of exercise. This would’ve been back in the 1960s. And I remember asking my mom if I could get one little book and it was about yoga.

Now I didn’t understand the concept behind it but I really enjoyed doing it, practicing those poses in that little book. Yoga still was not something that I knew much about really until I was a teenager but in grade school I sure enjoyed paging through that cute little book and practicing the yoga positions.

What made you decide to take a teacher training program?

Even though I’ve been taking a variety of types of yoga classes throughout probably the past 30 years, I felt that at this stage in my life I wanted to know yoga far better than I already did.

I wanted to be able to immerse myself in a program that I really believed in, not just to perhaps help others especially my massage therapy clients, but to be able to have a yoga foundation that would last me for the rest of my life especially as I am now approaching 60 years old. To be able to keep my flexibility, balance, and strength is extremely important to me.

Knowing that Yoga encompasses so many facets other than just asana, the ability to practice breathing techniques and meditation and calming the monkey mind, are all so beneficial to anyone at any stage but I felt such a need to just understand it all deeper and to know the background and the heritage.

Finding Viniyoga, and this was the first school I had even gone to inquire about the teacher training, and I was not familiar with this type of yoga, and yet it certainly spoke to me and I knew that it’s therapeutic nature would benefit me the rest of my own life much less the people that I would be teaching it to.

What population do you most enjoy teaching?

I am happy teaching any age group from children all the way on up through seniors, but I would say that given my own age that being able to work with seniors and helping them to have a basic practice is one of the most helpful things anyone can do to aid the aging process and keep it as graceful as possible.

I’m also very interesting it in designing a program for doing yoga outdoors, and also incorporating yoga with hiking. Definitely a passion of mine that I will be working on this summer.

What is the worst thing about yoga in America?

This is an easy one for me, I think the worst thing is that unlike a country like India, we don’t teach children yoga at an extremely young age whether it’s at home or in school. To have a yoga practice starting early in life, the health benefits alone would be tremendous. I certainly wish for myself to have had a foundation like this, and I would love to see yoga integrated into schools and into more park and rec programs for children. And then that reaches out to the far end of the age spectrum as we become seniors, to include more yoga classes in senior centers and nursing homes, to help bring some peace and calm and gentle movement as we age.

What non-yoga thing are you very passionate about?

I am extremely passionate about animals, all animals but dogs in particular because that is what I am able to fill my home with! We volunteer for a local dog rescue organization, that takes in blind dogs and any with medical issues. We have fostered and also adopted some of our foster dogs, and being an advocate for those who cannot speak for themselves is extremely important to me.

As a society, ensuring that all creatures are respected and well taken care of I believe it’s something that should just automatically happen but it doesn’t. There is a lot of work to be done in the area of animal rescue and I’m happy that were able to do our small part.

I love dogs, too!  And I think what you and your partner Patrick do for special needs dogs is simply astounding.  Now, here’s an offbeat question for you: Yoga pants, Fashion statement or work of the devil!

I think that yoga pants are extremely comfortable and I definitely wear them a lot. I think for movement whether it’s yoga or other forms of exercise, they are about the best thing out there for working out. Now I’ve seen some amazing styles and colors, but I’m kind of a neutral black yoga pants kind of gal! But there are some amazing fashion statement outfits out there for yoga,

What is the best thing about yoga in America?

Well I probably should say yoga pants, ha ha! But I would say the best thing is that we’re seeing it more and more often, at health clubs and park and rec centers, yoga studios are popping up all over the place. At least it gets more exposure for yoga and then hopefully people will find what type of yoga works best for them.

What is your favorite yoga pose and why?

At first thought I would say child’s pose, it’s relaxing and a wonderful transition between other poses. But I guess really mountain pose or savasana also jump out at me because they are more difficult to keep the monkey mind and focus in check. Balance poses are also a favorite because of the concentration level to maintain the pose. Being able to calm the mind and focus on one thing is probably one of the most rewarding things about yoga to me, in my own personal practice.

Who is your yoga hero?

I would say that my yoga hero is Tracy Weber. And the reasons why, she’s not only able to take and articulate the vastness of this lineage to her students, she also walks the walk and talks the talk. She lives her life, from my perspective, in a way that touches others in such a positive manner, through the teachings of the yoga sutras and because that’s just her personality, she is someone to aspire to in all of our teaching experiences. To be able to eventually instruct a yoga class even half as well as Tracy does, then I will have felt like I accomplished the highest goal I have for my teaching ability.

Oh my!

Now you’re making me blush.  😉  Here’s a final question:  What do you most appreciate about Viniyoga?

It is therapeutic, it can be very gentle or you can also make it pretty kick butt if you want to! It’s key differentiators make it unique and applicable to everyone. Function over form, the use of movement and stay, linking your movement with your breath, sequencing, and adaptation. I believe that anyone can learn and use Viniyoga in their lives.

Thanks for coming to chat with us today, Laura.  Having you on the blog was almost as great as having you in class.  Make me proud!

IMG_1218About Laura Miller: I was born and raised in Seattle although I’ve had the opportunity to live a number of other places in our beautiful country. I am a licensed massage practitioner and a nail technician, and a yoga instructor! Along with my partner Patrick, we have 6 adorable dogs, one feisty cockatiel, and a very mellow bearded dragon. We love hiking, traveling, and hanging out with our fur babies. I have 5 beautiful grandchildren and they are the lights of my life! Namaste

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. 

Love Wins Love

If you’ve read my first book and you live in Seattle, you can probably figure out that I’m a big fan of Real Change and their work to help the homeless.  I’ve befriended a few of the vendors, one of whom is working on project to spread love, light, communication, and hope between those with housing and those without.  It’s my great pleasure to interview Susan Russell and Denise Henrickson today to talk about their project, Love Wins Love.

I’m all about hope and connection, which is why I so love the idea that “Love Wins Love.” How did you come up with this idea, and why prayer flags?

(Denise) We met almost exactly 2 years ago when I had gotten a small grant from the Department of Neighborhoods to make batik hearts at an Earth Day/Connect the Dots event at Seattle University. The day I received the grant award, I attended a Stand for Compassion event in Occidental Square and heard Susan speak. I’d included a small stipend in the budget and in that moment, I decided to reach out to Susan, rather than hire someone familiar. I stepped out of my comfort zone and  tracked Susan down through Real Change. We worked really well together. Susan and I became friends. We had supplies left over, so we kept setting up heart-making stations in community settings. We loved the process… “You wear a heart someone else makes and somebody else wears your heart” are the words that Susan uses to describe our process and we noticed that extraordinary conversations would take place around the painting table. Over the past 2 years, we’ve facilitated making over 2000 hearts, witnessed many “aha’s!” and seen new friendships take root and blossom.

(Susan) The idea for making prayer flags came out of that. Originally, we thought of prayer flags because they take a little longer to make, maybe people would stay for slightly longer conversations,… but the day after we first talked about making them, I spoke in support of homeless encampments in Ballard. People talked about how ugly the encampments were. Encircling the encampments with prayer flags would bring beauty to those places and also say to everyone who saw them… “Love Lives Here.”

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We decided to set our goal at 4,505 prayer flags because for the past two years, I’ve been at City Hall the morning after the One Night Count to ring the gong.  Real Change rings a gong for every person found sleeping unsheltered on that one night in January.  This year, the One Night Count was 4,505.  It takes hours and people take turns. It was while I was ringing the gong to honor each person that it came to me: we need to make 4,505 prayer flags. Each one a life. Each one a prayer.

We also realized that 4,505 prayer flags will stretch almost a mile when tied together. Wrapping City Hall or the Capitol in Olympia with a mile long string of prayer flags will be a beautiful, honorable way to bring a message of the need for shelter to the eyes– and the hearts– of policy makers.

(Susan) When I see these prayer flags, Love comes instantly to my heart and mind. “We see you. We honor you. We love you.” Without love, some people give up and they die. I’ve seen it.

Tell me your stories.  Have you ever been unsheltered, and how did your situation change, if it has?

12976832_1584065495254646_7395882607193105252_o[1](Susan) I lived on the streets in Seattle for 6 years. I was a union cement mason, helped build Safeco Field, the Exhibition Center, the West Seattle Bridge… then, one night, on my way home from work, I got rear-ended by an uninsured motorist. It screwed up my hip and my back. I couldn’t do my trade anymore. I lost my job. I couldn’t pay my bills. I spiraled down into depression and, eventually, addiction.  I went through SeaDruNar, got off drugs (hardest thing, ever)… Now, I sell Real Change and live in transitional housing- and make art and build community and advocate for shelter.

(Denise) I lived in my car for three months when I drove alone across the country after graduating from college. I had some scary moments, but I knew it was a choice, an adventure. I’ve never thought of myself as homeless. Even when I was really, really broke, like in my mid-20’s when I broke up with a boyfriend and he fired me (he was also my boss) and that same week there was a second arson in my building and I needed to move, I was down to my last $20… I had friends who took me in. I realize now how lucky I’ve been to have always had a safety net of family and friends. Not everyone does. I don’t think anyone chooses to be homeless.

What do you hope to achieve via this work?

There are so many systems falling apart right now- lack of affordable housing, millions of people who still don’t have health care and, like Susan, are one accident away from homelessness…, fewer family-wage jobs, rising student debt… We are both very concerned about the climate crises and extreme weather events and the connection of that to the rise in the number of people around the world who are being displaced.

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Through this project, we hope to create opportunities for people to experience our shared humanity. To experience new perspectives and create safe, beautiful spaces to step out of our comfort zones. We are all in this together. When it comes down to it, we can choose to respond to this extraordinary time with either fear or love- and model that for our children who will be facing even more challenges as weather patterns continue to shift.

Through this project, we are choosing love. Love makes us more resilient. And it makes our journey more joyful. Over and over again, in the simple act of talking to each other with brushes in hand, we’ve seen people have “aha” moments around the painting table. It’s a really simple set-up– recycled bed sheets and curtains, non-toxic fabric paint and soy wax– but what we’ve been able to witness has been profound. We think this kind of face-to-face cross-class/ cross-cultural dialogue plants new seeds of understanding and empathy that ripple out into the world. Love has the power to reweave our humanity together. It’s an ancient truth we are rediscovering.

We call our project Love Wins Love because we believe that love is regenerative…. Love gives back so much more than it takes. It is the most powerful force in the universe.

(Denise) When I think about how my life has been enriched since I went beyond my comfort zone to hire “that homeless woman in the Seahawks outfit” to work with me, I am incredibly grateful that I had the courage to acknowledge my own bias– my fear, really– and chose love. Susan’s connection to her heart, her belief in the goodness of people, and her profound gratitude for EVERYTHING, especially in light of all that she has been though– is deeply humbling.  Because of our friendship, I have more faith in humanity.  In my dark days, I can hold onto that.  It’s solid.  And it is growing stronger.12961322_1582578955403300_6527941037491559987_o[1]

We set up a blackboard whenever we have our art stations: one side says “What Do You Value? And the other, “What Do You Need to Thrive?” We’ve noticed so far, that no one has written anything that costs money. This has gotten us thinking about the double meaning of “Transitional Housing.” There’s “transitional housing” like where Susan lives in SandPoint. And then there’s the whole “transition movement” of people and communities who are shifting towards living more lightly on the Earth. We are curious and excited by the connections between these ideas and are continuing to explore them.

Where are some of the places you’ve already posted the prayer flags?

IMG_3174We hung our first string of prayer flags at Camp Dearborn. Within a few days they disappeared. A friend told us she saw what sounds like a remnant of it as part of an altar in Pioneer Square. A week later, the residents of the encampment were evicted (2 days before they were told they would be) and the tiny houses that had been built for them by the community were bulldozed… (City of Seattle- We can do better!!!!!!)

The next string we hung under I-5, in the Jungle. We attended a memorial gathering to honor people who had died there, as part of the Homeless Remembrance Project. That’s where we learned that over 67 people died on the streets last year.  People held the string of flags and made prayers before we hung them.  We went back a few days later to check on the community and the flags and learned that someone had come into their camp and set the flags– and their couch– on fire.

under I-5

(Susan) “Apparently, those prayers needed to get up fast!”

We are planning to hang future strings in places that are more stable, like shelters, but we also know that as beautiful as the flags are, it’s the conversations that take place in the process of making them together that are the most valuable— and those experiences never go away.

I’m moved by the plight of those without housing, but I’m never sure how I can best help.  What would you suggest?

(Susan) Say “Hello.” Being invisible, being treated as less than human, was the most difficult part of being unsheltered, by far. It’s what led to my addiction.  And if you are willing to take a bigger step out of your comfort zone, you can ask “What do you need?” And take it from there. But it’s important that you let go of expectations. What that person needs will likely be so simple it will break your heart. Open.

I want to paint a flag! Where can we find you next?

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Last week, we made flags at Julia’s Place, a shelter for women and families in Madrona. We also celebrated Earth Day at the Peace Encampment at 24th and Spring in the CD.

On May 13-15, we will be at Break Free in Anacortes, making prayer flags with people there. We believe there is a connection between rising temperatures, resource extraction and exploitation, rising economic inequity, and the rising number of people who are homeless in Seattle, the nation and the world. We also believe that love and compassion need to be at the heart of how we respond and relate to ourselves, each other, and our Mother Earth. We are all connected.

We have about 4200 more flags to make, so we need your help! We are open to suggestions of places to make them. If you can contribute money towards making them, that would be most welcomed, too.

How can we follow you and this effort?

The best way to stay in touch with us is through our FaceBook page: Love Wins Love (three separate words). If you message us with your email, we can add it to our email distribution list. And we always have sign up sheets at our booth.

How can people support this project?

Come make prayer flags with us!  We always have a donation jar at our booth to help pay for supplies.  At our booth, we also sell strings of prayer flags that we make to reimburse some of our time. The flags we make to sell are ones we make on our own; the community-made ones go to shelters and encampments and are not for sale.

And we are always looking for people to be part of our team to help us facilitate art-making and conversations, social media support, fundraising, … build transitional villages! … If this project inspires you and you’d like to work with us, we’d love to hear your ideas and what you are passionate about.

Ultimately, this project is just a small manifestation of a bigger vision- To create a more connected and compassionate human family. Any action you take that requires you to step out of your comfort zone with love serves this shared vision. Love Wins Love.

Thank you, ladies.  I hope to come to one of your painting events soon.  Thank you so much for joining me here today!

21481_1571284239866105_6639173131585106058_n[1]Susan Russell is Real Change vendor and housing advocate who has been to the depths of hell and back when living on the streets of Seattle.  She believes that if her work helps one person from experiencing what she went through, she will be successful. Love Wins.

Denise Henrikson is an artist and community activist who believes people can change the world.  We do it every day.  You can contact us at info@salmonislife.org

 

How injury will make me better (as a yoga instructor and a human being)

Hi all!  Please welcome one of my favorite Whole Life Yoga grads–and perhaps my overall favorite human being–Mary Bue to the blog today.  One of the many, many things I love about Mary is her upbeat attitude.  Not to mention her indestructible spirit and way she takes lessons wherever she finds them.  Contact Mary at Imbueyoga@gmail.com. Those of you in Minneapolis definitely need to check out her new yoga studio, Imbue Yoga!

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It was a beautiful,  sunny winter day in northern Minnesota. My husband and I were gifted free lift tickets to snowboard at a ski resort because we performed a rock show the night before. I had been wanting to try snowboarding for years and the conditions were perfect. I figured it would be a challenge – but I’m a yoga instructor who has good core strength, balance and mindful breathing.  I’ve got this! No problemo, right?

Wrong!  My husband was a ways down the hill and I thought, “I’ll catch up to him!”  For 30 seconds I was having a blast,  zooming down but I turned too sharply onto my toe side,  did an airborne cartwheel and BAM! Crashed down on my right shoulder.  I heard a crack.  Doh!

The results weren’t looking good – possibly torn rotator cuff.  Thankfully the MRI found only a bad sprain, but also a fracture on the tip of my shoulder,  such that, should I lift my arm too high,  it would chip off requiring sugery.  SO,  for six weeks,  no yoga.

Did I mention that during this six weeks I am recording in Nashville, moving, and opening a yoga studio?

Life has interesting timing sometimes, doesn’t it?

Thankfully I was trained in the yogic lineage of Viniyoga that not only values adaptations but also trains teachers to teach with our voices rather than demonstrating every move.

How will this injury make me a better yoga instructor and human?

  • Incorporating a sense of humor.  It’s been funny to see the look on a new student’s face when their teacher shows up with her arm in a sling.  Have to make light of it!  In one class I wanted to applaud my students for an awesome balance posture and told them, ”Here is the sound of one hand clapping for you!” (I thought it was funny).
  • Greater observation.  Instead of being glued to my mat,  I walk around and watch what is going on in the room, making sure everybody is on the same page, trying to connect with each student with eye contact and a smile.
  • Well designed sequencing.  I tend to create classes in the moment depending on what my students want, but I’ll also have some peak postures which I’ll research, share the anatomy and benefits, and get a little off the grid from my habitual teaching routines.
  • Increased empathy.  This injury,  minor as it is,  reminds me of my vulnerability and that this human vessel is fleeting.  Life can dramatically change without warning,  in mere seconds.  I felt pain,  distress,  aching,  restlessness,  and I am healing. All beings feel these feelings at some point in thir lives.  I hope to fully integrate this experince into my teaching,  my music,  and my day to day life.http://www.marybue.com

Namaste,

Mary Bue

Mary Bue is an indie musician, yoga instructor and brand new studio owner of Imbue Yoga in Minneapolis, MN – grand opening June 11th 2016! She spends her time touring the country, recording (7th album in the works), teaching and practicing Viniyoga amongst the lakes, trees and nice Minnesotans.

Music: www.marybue.com
Yoga: www.imbueyoga.com

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. 

Killer Excerpts and Killer Prices!

Available January 8, 2015 from Midnight Ink!

Hey all!  This week I’m blogging at Inkspot (the blog for the writers of Midnight Ink).

I’m so excited I can barely see straight!  A Killer Retreat, the second book in my Downward Dog Mystery Series, was a BookBub featured deal on Saturday!  It is still on sale for only $1.99 (normally $10.99) on Kindle, Nook, and Kobo!

Sale ends April 23, so don’t wait!

In honor of the special sale,  I’ve shared a few mini-excerpts from the book and the photos that inspired them.  Here’s a teaser photo of the dog that started it all, my German shepherd, Tasha. If you want to see the rest, you’ll have to go to the link!

German shepherd queen

“A German shepherd queen, ruling her subjects.”

http://midnightwriters.blogspot.com/2016/04/killer-excerpts-and-killer-prices.html

Please share the sale links below with your mystery, yoga, or dog loving friends!  Sale purchase links are below.

Happy reading!

Tracy Weber

PS–all three books in my Downward Dog mystery series are now available!  Learn more at http://tracyweberauthor.com.  Thanks for reading!

Yogi Interview of the Month–Cynthia Heckman!

Hi all! Please welcome Cynthia Heckman to the Whole Life Blog today!  Cynthia is a talented yoga teacher as well as one of my favorite graduates of Whole Life Yoga’s 200 hour and 500 hour yoga teacher trainings.  Cynthia is a much braver woman than I for teaching yoga to families. Please join me in welcoming her and ask her any questions you have in the comments!

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Why and when did you start practicing yoga?

I started practicing yoga in 1994, when my first son was 3. At the time I was just looking for any class at the gym to help me get in shape.

After the first class, I knew yoga was different. Instead of just feeling energized after class, I felt energized and peaceful.

What do you specifically appreciate about Viniyoga?

It wasn’t until more than a decade after that first class that I had the good fortune to find Tracy Weber and my introduction to Viniyoga. After so many years of gym class yoga and Iyengar yoga, it took me awhile to fully integrate Viniyoga into my practice.

Now I wouldn’t have my yoga any other way. Firstly, in Viniyoga movement and breath are fully fused together. This brings a totally new awareness of the body and encourages more focus during practice, as well as other physiological benefits. Secondly, in Viniyoga the practice is designed to suit the individual who is doing it. No more trying to force my body into an ideal pose, but, instead, I get to choose the poses that my body needs. With regular practice, this has resulted in new love and appreciation for the body I was born with.

What yoga myths would you most like to debunk?

The yoga myth I would most like to debunk is the idea that if you are a yoga teacher you must be some kind of human pretzel. Flexibility is nice, but it isn’t a pre –requisite for teaching or practicing yoga. The body you have will work just fine, thank-you.

I completely agree.  If you had to be a human pretzel to teach yoga, I’d have been disqualified long ago.  That’s why I like teaching yoga to people who think they “can’t” do yoga.  Who do you most enjoy teaching? 

When I first graduated from teacher training I promised myself I would say “Yes!” to the first person who asked me to teach. I imagined this would be a class for adults at a studio or gym, but, no. The first person to ask me was a friend of mine, a mom who wanted a family yoga class at a local community center. I said yes, and I was terrified.

It turned out though, after a few bumpy classes, teaching kids with their parents was a good fit for me. I learn so much from the kids with their open hearts and playfulness and try to help the parents find a few moments to relax in the midst of yoga chaos. We all laugh and laugh, which may be the best practice of all.

Tip for teachers who would like to try teaching kids: After you graduate from teacher training, consider taking an Improv class, and/or a class specifically geared toward teaching kids yoga. It really helps when you need to change your plans on the fly.

Now that you’ve graduated from yoga teacher training, how are you sharing what you learned?

It has been said that if you are given the yoga teachings and don’t share them, you are a thief. As a teacher who only finds time to teach an occasional class or series of classes, I’ve thought about this a lot.

How do I share yoga when I’m not formally teaching without being annoying and preachy? I like to think that doing my best to follow the yoga sutras is the answer. I share their beauty whenever I’m given the opportunity. Here’s one I love:

Sutra 1.33: “The mind becomes quiet when it cultivates friendliness in the presence of happiness, active compassion in the presence of unhappiness, joy in the presence of virtue, and indifference toward error.”

Easier said than done, right? But as some wise soul once said, “That’s why they call it a yoga practice not a yoga perfect.”

What is your favorite book about yoga?

My favorite book about yoga is The Essence of Yoga , Reflections on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali by Bernard Bouanchaud. Quoted above.

Who is your yoga hero?

I have many yoga heroes. From great teachers who spend their lives sharing the yoga tradition, to the regular practitioner, who, despite all of life’s obstacles, returns to the mat again and again. Namaste to you all!

Cynthia Heckman is a homeschool mom and yoga teacher. She graduated from Whole Life Yoga’s teacher training in 2009. She occasionally teaches kids’ and family yoga at Loyal Heights Community Center in Seattle and tries to live by and share the yoga teachings every day. Contact her at Chyoga@earthlink.net.

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. 

Five Reasons to go Veggie in Seattle:

Funny cow on a green summer meadow. Blurred background

Most of my yoga students know that I’m vegetarian. I rarely try to influence other people’s food choices, but this weekend I’ll be hanging out at Veg Fest at Seattle Center.  So how can I not give a few reasons to go veg? Below are my top five reasons (and a bonus!) for being vegetarian in Seattle.

  1. Vegetarianism is good for the planet. Seattleites are known for their dedication to the planet. We reduce, re-use, and recycle. We ban grocery bags. Seattle Kayaktivists keep “big oil” from parking in our harbors. So why aren’t more of us vegetarian? Livestock generates 40% more greenhouse gasses than all of the cars, trucks, and airplanes in the world—combined! So while you’re riding your bike and lamenting the evil petroleum-based cars on the road next to you, know that putting pedal to pavement is only the start. That roast beef sandwich you’re eating creates way more greenhouse gasses than your evil neighbor’s SUV. And if you’re worried about wasting water? It takes up to 15 times more water to produce an ounce of animal protein than it does to produce the same amount of plant protein. Honestly, I don’t understand how anyone can claim to be an environmentalist and still eat meat.
  2. Going veggie is good for your health. The benefits of vegetarianism are well documented. Eating a plant-based diet helps prevent health issues ranging from obesity, to diabetes, to arthritis, to Multiple Sclerosis, to heart disease, to osteoporosis, to cancer. And you get way more vitamins from eating veggies than munching on Wilbur or Bessie.
  3. Going veggie is good for animals. All of you paleo dieters out there might argue that a meat-based diet has some health benefits of its own. But who on earth can argue that eating animals is good for the animal you’re eating? Love Fluffy and Fido? Pigs are of much higher intelligence. Studies show that chickens may be smarter than cats and dogs (though Tasha would strongly disagree with that assertion.) Cows are down-right sweet. And who possibly couldn’t love a baby goat? The lives of most livestock animals are downright horrific. I won’t go into it here, because it makes me cry. But I grew up on a farm. I’ve seen the cruelty, even from people I love. Anyone who claims to love animals should seriously reconsider their food choices.
  4. Seattle is blessed with abundant, delectable vegetarian restaurants. When I go home to Montana, I can’t even order green beans without finding bacon bits scattered within. Here in Seattle, vegetarian choices are everywhere. From vegan Thai restaurants like Arayas to entrees like my favorite black bean pita burger at the 74th Street Alehouse, I can almost always find abundant, delicious entrees at every Seattle restaurant. And if they don’t have veg choices on the menu, most places can create something special. Just ask!
  5. Vegetarian grocery shopping is easy! From prepared mock meats to fresh vegetables, to canned food, to frozen vegetarian entrees. The vegetarian options at PCC, Whole Foods Market, even my favorite corner grocer, Ken’s Market, are nothing short of amazing! And the best news yet? You can sample many of those same foods this weekend at Veg Fest!

And a Bonus reason:  I’ve been a vegetarian for almost 25 years—long before I took my first yoga class.  My food choices have nothing to do with yoga philosophy.  Still, yoga supports them.  The Yoga teachings ask us to live with ahimsa–non-violence.  For me, that means eating vegetarian.

For you?

One beauty of the yoga teachings is that they’re not prescriptive. They ask us to evaluate our own values and live by them.  But I ask you to think about it. I mean REALLY think about it.  Eating a plant-based diet doesn’t guarantee that you won’t act out in violence. But can you honestly say you live in ahimsa if an animal died for your mid-afternoon snack?  I know I can’t.

Regardless of your food choices, I hope you’ll come see me this weekend at Veg Fest at Seattle Center. I’ll be there talking about Whole Life Yoga and my Downward Dog yoga and dog-related mystery series.  (Which, by the way, has a vegetarian sleuth!)  I’d love to see you and give you a hug.  And there are hundreds of delicious food samples to try.

Vegan ice cream. Can you say YUM?

I hope to see you there!

Tracy Weber

books available

PS–all three books in my Downward Dog mystery series are now available!  Learn more at http://tracyweberauthor.com.  Thanks for reading!

Ten Ways to Show Your Favorite Author Some Love

Hey all!  This week I’m blogging at Inkspot (the blog for the writers of Midnight Ink)  about some simple ways you can show your favorite authors some love.  Check it out and let me know what you’d add to the list!

http://midnightwriters.blogspot.com/2016/03/ten-ways-to-show-your-favorite-author.html

See you there!

Tracy Weber

PS–all three books in my Downward Dog mystery series are now available!  Learn more at http://tracyweberauthor.com.  Thanks for reading!