Tag Archives: asana

Do You Practice Hatha Yoga?

I recently sat next to a very kind gentleman on an airplane for a six-hour flight back to Seattle from Malice Domestic (a mystery fan convention.). I don’t think he knew I was a yoga teacher, especially since he spent a good thirty minutes educating me about the benefits of yoga. Of course, I agreed with him. Yoga is good stuff. He then said something that made me both externally smile and internally cringe, at least a little. He mentioned that he doesn’t like the more strenuous yoga forms of yoga, and that he only practices “Hatha” yoga.

I didn’t disagree with them. After all, he’s right, in a way. He does practice Hatha yoga. Almost all of us who practice yoga in America do. “Hatha” is an umbrella term that means the physical practice of yoga.  But referring to all yoga as simply “Hatha” is a little misleading. Although there are definite similarities between yoga styles, there are even more differences.

One Hatha yoga class may be practiced at a hundred and five degrees. Another may focus on “proper” alignment. Yet another, on connecting movement and breath. Some Hatha practices flow from pose to pose, while others stay in each posture for a minute or more before moving on to the next. Teachers of some styles teach the exact same sequence of poses each time. Some classes, like most Viniyoga classes, are designed in the moment based on what the practitioners need that day.

When you sign up for your first yoga class—or next, for that matter—ask the instructor what style they teach and explore with them whether that style will fit your goals. If the teacher says they teach “Hatha,” dig deeper. What lineages has she been influenced by? Who did she train with? Does she believe form follows function or the reverse? Her answers will help you find the right practice for you.

Most importantly, if you don’t like the first yoga class you try, take another. There’s a yoga style, teacher, and philosophy that fits everyone.

This article from Yoga Journal is a great starting place to explore the options available.

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

Karma Yoga—the Yoga of Service—and a Special Class on Sunday, June 2nd

Westerners often mistakenly believe that yoga means performing asanas, or yoga postures. Although yogis gain many emotional and physical benefits by practicing asana, it is only one small part of yoga. Hatha Yoga—the type of yoga most often practiced in the West—actually contains five practices: asana, pranayama (breath exercises), chant (use of sound), meditation, and ritual.

But Hatha Yoga isn’t the full extent of yoga, either. Even though many of Hatha Yoga’s practices are physical, its goal is to clarify the mind. Other types of yoga have different goals: exploring truth, practicing spiritual devotion, providing service, even experiencing sensory pleasure.

This weekend, I invite you to explore Karma Yoga: the yoga of service.

The word karma means action; yoga means union. So the phrase “karma yoga” literally translates as “union through action.” The internet defines Karma Yoga as service without consideration of personal gains, likes, or dislikes. I define it as compassion in action without attachment. In other words, Karma yogis take action in order to decrease suffering in another—without being hung up on the results.

At Whole Life Yoga we typically practice Hatha Yoga, but this Sunday’s special afternoon class—a by-donation fundraising class for City of Hope—will be all about karma. City of Hope provides research, care, and alternative therapies for people fighting cancer, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, and other life-threatening illnesses.

City of Hope is a very special organization.  I think their website says it best:

We are proud of our numerous institutional distinctions…as we remain true to our overriding mission to heal the whole person. That means nurturing the emotional, spiritual, social, as well as physical well-being of those in our care.

For many people, City of Hope is where hope begins.

Please join Rene de Los Santos in this special class on Sunday, June 3, from 12:30 to 2:00. The class is appropriate for all levels, and 100% of the proceeds will go directly to City of Hope.

If you can’t attend, you can still help. Simply drop a donation by the studio at any class before Sunday at 2:00 PM. Make checks payable to “Yoga for Hope,” and place cash in an envelope marked “Donation: Yoga for Hope.”

You can also donate online at this link.

Thank you for helping bring hope to those who desperately need it.

Namaste

Tracy Weber

Come visit Whole Life Yoga in Seattle, and join my author mailing list for updates on MURDER STRIKES A POSE, available January 8, 2014 from Midnight Ink!

Five Steps to Your Ideal Home Yoga Retreat

This week’s blog entry was written by guest author Christine Stump. Check out Christine’s wonderful blog at http://yogaguide.wordpress.com/

Christine Stump, Warrior Pose

When you think of a yoga retreat, do you think of bamboo, waterfalls and bathrobes? Drop some cucumber slices in your water and pull up a chair: just five factors determine your ideal home yoga retreat.

With a home retreat, you reverse your priorities and emphasize the very things you’re usually trying to squeeze in. Flip your priorities for a while, focus on morning and evening meditation, include some pampering.

Five things determine your ideal self-retreat: home situations, budget, work integration, ideal practice schedule, and menu.

  1. Home situation: If you live alone, how do you want your space arranged for retreat? If living with others, include them in your plans. Do you want to plan special activities with each one of your children during this time, so they learn self-care as well? Or do you need to arrange outside care for your elders so they don’t miss medications, baths or meals? Have a conversation with your roommate or partner to let them know these days are special, that you want a clean, organized, media free space.  Solicit their participation in common areas, and communicate they can’t count on you for late night drinks.
  2. Budget: Will your usual grocery and yoga class budget be plenty for what you have in mind? Do you want to set aside extra for a massage, time at a spa, special linens or a personal chef? Your retreat can be as simple or elaborate as you make it, but the simplest experiences can be most elegant. Candles, plush towels and great robe may be luxurious treats.
  3. Work integration: Will you take time off work or school?  Or will you take your retreat time concurrent with work and commit to coming home on time and bringing your practices with you to work. Perhaps you can close the door and meditate for 15 minutes at lunch or take that after work yoga class to make sure you leave on time.
  4. Practice schedule: What is your ideal yoga day? Do you go to class at the studio every day? Take a workshop at the weekend? Practice for two hours a day? Vinyasa practice in the morning with restorative in the afternoon? You can create your schedule any way you desire. Your schedule creates a container for your experience, so commit to whatever you choose. Include journaling and outdoor time.
  5. Menu: Plan healthy meals for your retreat. Decide which options you’ll include: fresh green juices, ten servings of leafy greens, all organic, all vegetarian or fresh fruit every day. Commit to drinking plenty of water and include anti-oxidant rich teas and vegetables.

Once your retreat days come, relax into the space you’ve created. Allow yourself to let go of your routine priorities and prioritize your practice for this time. The structure you’ve created will help you reset when your habits kick in (which they will, over and over). Give yourself to this process and let us know how it goes in the comments below!

Come visit Whole Life Yoga in Seattle!