Author Archives: Whole Life Yoga

Will the Real Yoga Teacher Please Stand Up?

As a novelist, I’ve been blessed to meet many generous writers who have mentored me on the bumpy path to publication. Pretty much every seasoned writer I’ve met so far has given me one sage piece of advice: never read reviews.

I have to admit, I read them anyway.

Maybe it’s curiosity; maybe it’s excitement; maybe it’s simply my need to look for that ever-elusive stamp of approval, but I can’t seem to stop myself. I dig and I search and I devour every new review I can find. Most of the time, they make me smile. Occasionally, I learn something from a reader’s comments that will make me a better writer. Sometimes, however, a review leaves me shaking my head.

Some time ago, I came across one such review. I don’t even remember now if the reader liked my book. Something tells me it wasn’t her favorite. But one criticism stuck in my memory. She said that my protagonist wasn’t a realistic yoga teacher. If Kate were a real yoga teacher, the reader asserted, she’d be much thinner, more flexible, and less likely to lose her temper.

My protagonist is 5’3” tall and weighs 130 pounds, which is normal by most standards. Like many women, Kate has body image issues and hates her “chunky” thighs. All in all, she’s not a heck of a lot different than me, and she can do significantly more challenging yoga poses than I can. I’ve made my living teaching yoga for over seventeen years.

Yoga teachers come in all shapes and sizes. Some are lithe and can do amazing things with their bodies. Some are overweight. Some suffer from chronic illnesses and perpetually tight hamstrings. Some even start their yoga teaching career after retirement. The best yoga teachers know how to teach the students in front of them, in spite of their own personal limitations—or lack thereof. In fact, many of the best yoga teachers have imperfect bodies. If you can’t do a pose, learning how to observe your students and describe that pose becomes even more important.

Why do I care about this enough to write a blog article about it? The comment in the review highlights the very misperception of yoga that I’m trying to destroy: that yoga is only for the fit, the flexible, and the young. I have certified over three hundred teachers in the past fifteen years through Whole Life Yoga’s yoga teacher training, and I have met privately to discuss teacher training with at least three times that many. My heart always breaks a little when an otherwise wonderful candidate decides not to pursue teaching yoga because they can’t do all of the poses, they don’t have a size-four body, or they think they are too old. The world loses a lot of great yoga teachers that way.

Is the protagonist in my book likely to grace the cover of Yoga Journal? Probably not. But perhaps it’s time we let go of the yoga stereotypes. If yoga teachers are more diverse, our students will be as well.

What to you think?

Tracy Weber

PS: If you’re interested in Whole Life Yoga’s Teacher Training Program, you can check it out at this link.

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All four books in the Downward Dog Mystery Series are available at booksellers everywhere!

Arriving Home Meditation

Welcome to week 4 of my Meditations to Change Your Life series.  We all have special places–places we call home.  The great news is that we don’t have to travel to find them.  This meditation will take you there.  Enjoy!

happy Young romantic couple sitting on sofa in front of fireplace at winter season in home

Arriving Home Meditation:

  1. Sit comfortably, with your spine erect and the crown of your head floating up to the ceiling.
  2. Notice your breath—without intentionally trying to change it. Bring your attention to the warmth and coolness of the breath at the tip of your nostrils.
  3. After 2 – 3 minutes, or whenever you are ready, bring to mind a real or imaginary place that has all the best qualities of “home” to you. A place where you feel safe, secure, where you really belong and can truly be yourself. Hold the qualities of this place in your heart as you continue the meditation.
  4. Then begin a mantra meditation with subsequent breaths. Each time you inhale, mentally think the word “arriving”, and as you exhale, mentally think the word “home.”   Continue this mental repetition with every breath. Each breath, “arriving home.” When your attention wanders, just notice it, and invite your attention back to the sensation of the breath at the tip of your nose.   Then return to reciting the phrase “arriving home” with every breath.
  5. Continue this meditation for 10 minutes or longer if you’d like.

Tracy Weber

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All four books in the Downward Dog Mystery Series are available at booksellers everywhere!

A Meditation for Finding Peace (Or Anything Else You Might Want!)

Welcome to Week 3 of my series on meditations to help create–whatever you want!  Know that whatever you want to invite into your life, you can have it!  This meditation will help.

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Mantra Meditation:

  1. Begin with one of the breath focused meditations we learned in Weeks 1 and 2. Sit comfortably, with your spine erect and the crown of your head floating up to the ceiling
  2. Notice your breath—without intentionally trying to change it. Bring your attention to the warmth and coolness of the breath at the tip of your nostrils or to the feeling of softness in the belly with the breath.
  3. When you feel ready, bring to mind a quality you’d like to have more of your life. It could be greater balance, joy, health, forgiveness, or any other positive quality. “Name” that quality with a word or short phrase.
  4. Then begin a mantra meditation with subsequent breaths. Each time you exhale, mentally recite your work or phrase, and feel the energy of that quality pour through your awareness.   When your attention wanders, just notice it, and invite your attention back to the sensations of the breath.   Then return to reciting your word or phrase on every exhale
  5. Continue this meditation for 10 minutes or longer if you’d like.

Tracy Weber

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All four books in the Downward Dog Mystery Series are available at booksellers everywhere!

A Meditation of Hope and Light

Hi all!  Today is week two of my series of posts on Meditations to help you stay balanced in turbulent times.  Be well and happy!

Free happy woman enjoying nature sunset. Freedom, happiness and enjoyment concept of beautiful multiracial Asian Caucasian girl in her 20s. Image from Grand Canyon, United States.

Light visualization meditation:

  1. Sit comfortably, with your spine erect and the crown of your head floating up to the ceiling. Sitting either in a chair or on the floor is fine, as long as you are physically comfortable.
  2. Focus your mind on the sensations of the breath just inside your nostrils.   When you feel ready, think of a quality you’d like to bring into your life. Imagine that quality is a bright white light entering your body through your heart center and spreading throughout your entire body—from the top of your head to the tips of your fingers and toes. This light can represent any positive quality you wish it to–love, joy, health, healing, etc. Imagine that each cell of your body is illuminated by this light, and that the quality you’ve attributed to it flows into every cell.
  3. Imagine that this quality is replacing everything that clutters your life–anger, impatience, stress, desire, greed. As the light grows brighter in your mind, visualize its pure radiance washing those negative qualities away.
  4. If your attention wanders (and it will!) just notice it, and invite your attention back to the sensation of the breath at the tip of your nose. Then begin to focus on the white, healing light once again.
  5. Continue this meditation for 10 minutes or longer if you’d like.

Tracy Weber

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All four books in the Downward Dog Mystery Series are available at booksellers everywhere!

Staying Centered in Turbulent Times

Meditation: An Effective Tool for Promoting Inner Peace

No matter where you land on the political spectrum, I think most people would agree that the energy of our world seems more divisive lately.  The yoga teachings never promised us a peaceful world–they provided us tools to have more personal peace, in spite of what happens to or around us.  According to the teachings, the most powerful tool for developing inner peace is meditation.  Over the next few weeks, I will share some of my favorites.

The meditation below is simple yet powerful. Enjoy!

Simple Counting Meditation:

  1. Sit comfortably, with your spine erect and the crown of your head floating up to the ceiling.
  2. Allow your eyes to close, and notice your breath—without intentionally trying to change it. Bring your attention to the warmth and coolness of the breath at the tip of your nostrils.
  3. After 2 – 3 minutes, or whenever you are ready, start counting each exhalation. For example, when you exhale the first time, think “one”. The next time you exhale, count “two”.  Keep counting silently to yourself like that, until you get to ten. After you reach ten, then start over again from “one”.
  4. You’ll know your mind has wandered because you’ll lose count or notice that you’re thinking about something else. When that happens, (and it will!) try not to get frustrated. Instead, simply start over again by counting from “one”.   Notice how often you need to restart counting without judgment or frustration.   The goal isn’t to get to 10, but to keep refocusing whenever your mind wanders.
  5. Continue this meditation for 10 minutes or longer if you’d like.

Please visit us soon at Whole Life Yoga!

Tracy Weber

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All four books in the Downward Dog Mystery Series are available at booksellers everywhere!

Change, Challenges and Uncertainty

Welcome Radhika Vachani to the Whole Life Yoga blog today. Those of you who’ve taken yoga teacher training with me know how powerful The Yoga Sutras are. They help you find stability in an inherently unstable world. Radhika shares how in an excerpt from her new book below!

By Radhika Vachani

Excerpt from Just Breathe: The Most Powerful Tool for Personal Transformation and Happiness

How many of us spend our entire lives trying to avoid change because we fear the uncertainty, pain and difficulty involved? We might hope that our challenges will simply disappear. To cope, some might resort to drugs and alcohol, overeating, TV, social media or other distractions. While others put up emotional walls, live with insecurities and bitterness, or in a fantasy world embedded in memories, or dream of a more hopeful future.

When we do not confront problems, and make the necessary changes to enable growth, we risk perpetuating the issues. Over time this can cause our energy to stagnate and make us feel dull and listless, as it accumulates through repetitive, restrictive behaviors and thought patterns, such as fear, anger, doubt, blame, insecurity, disappointment and jealousy. Stagnant energy is decaying energy, which then becomes a far greater challenge to overcome than the original issue itself, and can lead to mental, physical, emotional and spiritual deterioration. Confronting the challenge and allowing change to occur naturally restores our vitality and releases all that is not supportive of us—be it our thoughts, emotions, actions or experiences.

Life encompasses an amazing diversity of experiences— happiness and pain, hope and despair, confidence and insecurity; and a variety of sights, sounds, tastes, thoughts and feelings. These are neither good nor bad but simply represent a journey that propels our human evolution and spiritual growth. It is overcoming our challenges that gives life meaning, as our obstacles then become opportunities for growth. Challenges bridge the gap between success and failure, mediocrity and excellence, shallowness and depth. Once we accept this great truth, we can learn to approach life with a fresh, broader perspective.

For thousands of years the Yoga Sutras have taught us that life is filled with trials and tribulations, and that nothing ever remains the same; that the nature of the external world is challenging, impermanent and uncertain. Sometimes life is calm and peaceful, but it can also be a rocky ride. In spite of this, the mind keeps seeking permanence, happiness and certainty from this very environment. Once we develop this understanding, the natural question arises: Who are we in context of this complex environment, and how do we find peace, happiness and stability, given the nature of the physical world?

The answer lies in our relationship with our environment, our perception of it and how we maneuver within it. Only by taking the first step—fully accepting the dichotomy of the world—will we be able to change the experiences we have with it.

Our physical world represents a stormy ocean. We are ships on these choppy waters, trying to seek calm. To be able to anchor and stabilize, the ship must return to harbor, and so the Yoga Sutras help us to move inwards to the discovery of ourselves and our true nature, and to the only place where we can experience any calm.

When we are willing to go on a journey within and to try something new, we come into our own power and access the consciousness within. We no longer need to rely on the outside world for fulfilment, as we do when living an unexamined and mediocre life.

Living life is an art. It involves techniques that we must learn and master, as we would any other skill. When we lack the essential knowledge to thrive, we become absorbed in fear-based conditioning, such as stress, anxiety, doubt and insecurity.

It is only when we truly know ourselves, free from a cluttered mind and fluctuating emotions, that we are able to see life for what it is, with new-born freshness. We then develop the capability to solve all our problems, to stand in our truth and to evolve into the best version of ourselves. But first we must develop resilience, strength and clarity so that we can live life fully, despite trying circumstances.

RADHIKA VACHANI is the author of Just Breathe: The Most Powerful Tool for Personal Transformation and Happiness. She is also a motivational speaker, yoga and holistic wellness expert, and the Founder of Yogacara Healing Arts in Mumbai, India (www.yogacara.in). Radhika also runs life-transforming retreats all over the world, in the Himalayas, Ladakh and at her Retreat Center outside of Mumbai in Alibaug. To learn more, visit www.yogacara.in  or connect with Radhika at radhika.vachani@yogacara.in and on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Happy Double-Five Birthday to Hubby, Marc Martin!

Put your hands together and cheer for the wonderful man who had the poor judgment to marry me over twenty years ago.  Yesterday was his fifty-fifth birthday!  Those of you who know my better half realize how totally lost I’d be without him.  Not only is he my best friend and the love of my life, but he helps with both my yoga studio and my writing efforts while still providing most of the income for our family from his forty-hour-a-week job.

On top of that, he has enough of a sense of humor to have agreed to buy me this magnet for my car:

Is that the perfect man for me, or what?

Honey, I don’t tell you often enough, but I love you.  I hope I’ll be next to you, driving you crazy for the next fifty five years of you life.

Tracy

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All four books in the Downward Dog Mystery Series are available at booksellers everywhere!

Visiting the Scene of the Crime

Happy Labor Day, everyone!  As promised last week, below are some photos of Marc, Ana’s and my recent trip to Cannon Beach, Oregon.  The trip was doubly special because we both got to see the full eclipse and spend some time at the location of my upcoming mystery, Pre-Meditated Murder!

We got into town early enough to settle in to our tiny beach house and do an early romp on the beach.

Ana inaugurated the beach with her first paw print.

Then we rested up to leave at six the next morning to drive to the path of totality.  Ana practiced wearing her eclipse glasses.

But seemed relatively unimpressed.  (Do you see the mini-eclipses in her fur?)

Still, totality was pretty amazing, at least for us humans.

We made it up to Ana by taking her to the beach and letting her run.

Day…

And night.

She was a very happy girl.

The humans saw starfish.

And got a little exercise themselves.

We even visited our favorite sailor statue.

Man how Ana has grown!  (This photo was taken ten months ago.)

Alas, it was finally time to say goodbye.

But we had a fabulous surprise shortly after we returned home!

We’re already planning our next trip to this very special place.  In the meantime, I’ll share it with you this January in Pre-Meditated Murder!

Hope you all had a wonderful summer filled with love, laughter, and vacation adventures.

Tracy

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All four books in the Downward Dog Mystery Series are available at booksellers everywhere!

I Think She was Murdered

Note from Tracy:

I’ve spent the last eight days soaking up the sun and vacationing at the site of my next Downward Dog Mystery, Pre-Meditated Murder. Next month, I’ll share some photos of my visit.  This month, I’ll tempt you with an excerpt.  Enjoy!

Pre-Meditated Murder  releases January 8, 2018.

We followed the shoreline back toward Cannon Beach. I swung Bella’s leash in my right hand while she herded waves on my left. By the time we reached the rock wall at Arcadia State Park, the tide had gone out enough that we could walk around it without getting wet. Now that it was almost noon, small groups of matchstick-sized people wandered the beach. Some of them were walking toward us.

I reached for Bella’s collar, but stopped. A few hundred feet ahead, a colony of seagulls—dozens of them—dotted the shore. Bella’s eyes begged me.

Please? Just one more run?

Why not? One of us should be having fun. “Okay girl. Go get ‘em!”

Bella galloped after those birds like a cheetah after a gazelle. It was ridiculous, really. All of us—human, canine, and seabird included—knew that Bella would never catch them. But that didn’t diminish anyone’s fun. When Bella was about fifteen feet away, the birds took off in unison, flew a hundred feet down the beach, and landed, still in formation. Bella skidded to a stop, let out a single, loud bark, and tore after them again.

May as well give up, hunter dog.

I reached out my arms and yelled, “Bella, come!”

As trained, Bella turned a one-eighty and ran back to me at full steam.

Three hundred feet … two hundred … one hundred … “Bella, slow down!” I yelled. I repeated the command three more times in a rapid-fire panic. “Slow down! Slow down! Slow down!”

Bella didn’t hear, didn’t understand, or—more likely—chose not to listen. She launched through the air, collided with my chest like a hundred-pound bowling ball, and knocked me flat on my sitting bones for the second time in thirty minutes. A quick German shepherd chin nibble later, she ran a quick circle around me and chose a new destination: a Jenga-like stack of driftwood piled up against the cliff.

I spit out a million tiny particles of sand. “Bella, come!” I commanded.

No response.

I stood, brushed the wet sand off my bottom, and trudged toward my dog. “Bella, knock it off and get over here! Leave it!”

Bella pretended to be deaf.

What on earth was she so interested in? Half-eaten hotdogs? Urine from a particularly studly Golden Retriever? A seagull corpse?

Bella stopped sniffing and commenced digging.

I groaned. It had to be a dead creature of some kind. Bella couldn’t digest real food unless it was incubated in expensive prescription enzymes. I imagined scooping up undigested seagull parts and groaned louder.

“Bella, I said come!”

Not even an ear twitch. This level of disobedience was unusual, even for her.

I broke into a jog. When Bella wanted something this badly, it was a sure bet that I didn’t want her to have it. I skidded to a stop next to my recalcitrant canine and clipped the leash to her collar. “That’s enough girl. Leave it.”

She ignored me.

I tightened the leash and made my voice especially stern. “I mean it.”

Bella refused to move.

Whatever she’d found, it was infinitely more interesting than a five-foot-three-inch yoga teacher.

Bella channeled her inner Ricky, grabbed onto something and pulled, exposing a woman’s tennis shoe.

“Seriously, Bella?” I grumped. “This much drama over a shoe?”

Then I looked closer and gagged.

The shoe was attached to a foot. A foot that was attached to a caramel-skinned ankle. A caramel-skinned ankle wearing a starfish ankle bracelet.

Oh God, no.

Bella had unearthed a body—a woman. She was buried, facedown, in an obviously man-made mountain of driftwood, seaweed, and sand.

I wish I could say I was horrified. I wish I could say I screamed like a scared little schoolgirl. I wish I could say I vomited like I did the night I found my friend George’s body.

But I didn’t. I simply stood there, thinking the same words over and over: not again.

I clawed through the rocks, unearthed the broken body’s left wrist, and forced myself to feel for a pulse. Her fourth finger was bare, except for a band of lighter skin where her wedding ring used to be. I suppressed the urge to run off to warn Michael, pulled out my cell phone, and dialed 911.

“Hi. My name’s Kate Davidson. I found a woman’s body. I think she was murdered.”

Tracy Weber

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All four books in the Downward Dog Mystery Series are available at booksellers everywhere!

Welcome New Teachers to Whole Life Yoga!

The last few months have been unusually chaotic at Whole Life Yoga, but I believe (hope!) things are settling down now.  With that new calm, come some transitions.  Sheryl Stich and Katie West are both cutting back on their classes, which is sad news, because they are both awesome teachers who are loved by their students.  It has, however has allowed me to bring three new teachers into the Whole Life Yoga drop-in class lineup.  I’ve been wanting to hire them for  years (literally!) so I hope you share my excitement.  Photos and a brief hello from each of these lovely ladies is below.

Oh–and if you’ve been wondering where in the heck I’ve been lately, I AM coming back.  I was in a car accident a couple of months ago, which injured my neck and back, but I will return to teaching in September.  I’m really looking forward to seeing you all then!

In the meantime, please give a warm welcome to Jen Boyce, Jocelyn Hess, Sarah Mercier.

Jen Boyce: 

Whole Life Yoga has been a sanctuary of peace for me since I started coming to classes in 2005.  I am honored to have the opportunity to teach at WLY and look forward to sharing my love of yoga with others. Teaching inspires me to strengthen my personal practice and improve my health.  My “day job” as an occupational therapist often focuses on illness so I am excited for the opportunity to guide my yoga students in their quest for mind/body wellness and PEACE.  Jen teaches All Levels Yoga Thursdays from 4:30 – 5:45 PM starting in September.

Jocelyn Hess:

I love teaching yoga because yoga is such a happy place to me and I wanted to extend that joy out to the world and to other people. I really enjoy helping people especially in a way that can better their life and their health. I think that yoga is much more accessible to people than they realize and I like being that person that can show people the way in to yoga. I look forward to meeting new students and working with them in whatever way they need. Together we can create a better life for ourselves, healthier body, and clearer mind. Josie teaches All Levels Yoga Wednesdays from 6:00 – 7:15 PM starting in September.

Sarah Mercier:

I am a certified yoga instructor through Whole Life Yoga’s teacher training program at the 500-hour level. Living with a Chronic Illness from childhood has led me to the mindfulness and breath-centered practices of Viniyoga.  My passion is inspiring others to be the best version of themselves, gain confidence and work to overcome their own personal obstacles.  Through yoga, I hope to bring peacefulness and mindfulness to each student, no matter what their age and level of experience. Sarah teaches All Levels Yoga Mondays from 9:30 – 10:45 AM starting in September.

 

Please help me welcome these ladies to the Whole Life Yoga Family and check out their teaching in a class soon!

Namaste,

Tracy Weber

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All four books in the Downward Dog Mystery Series are available at booksellers everywhere!