Tag Archives: Tracy Weber

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

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

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! 

Fiction, Gratitude and Real Change

 

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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

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. 

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! 

Can Yoga Really Be Murder?

Photo Courtesy of Christopher Brown

Hi all!  Once a month I’ll be blogging on Ink Spot–the blog for the writers of Midnight Ink–and cross posting here. This week, I’m blogging about my thoughts about combining yoga and murder in my writing.

http://midnightwriters.blogspot.com/2014/09/can-yoga-really-be-murder.html

Check it out, and let me know what you think!  There’s even a yoga philosophy lesson in there!

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! 

 

Yoga for Imperfect Bodies

I’ve spent the weekend answering press questions for the release of my next book, A Killer Retreat. Most of them were about writing, but one seemed particularly relevant to my yoga blog readers.  Here’s the question and my answer.  I hope you benefit from reading it.

How can yoga be applied to people with imperfect bodies? Is yoga really about exercise or something else?

Two thoughts came to me when I read these two questions:  First, I’ve yet to come across a human being with a perfect body, either inside or outside of my yoga classes. Second, my favorite yoga quote is “If you can breathe, you can do yoga.” Yoga is ultimately the connection of body, breath and mind. Anyone can do it, and everyone can benefit from a well-designed yoga practice.

I’ve taught yoga to professional ballet dancers, tri-athletes, and weekend warriors. I’ve certified yoga teachers who have multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. I’ve taught kids as young as six (others teach students who are even younger!) and adults who are ninety-years-old plus.  I’ve taught students who were deaf, blind, and one who was both deaf and blind. I’ve taught group classes to students who use canes, walkers, and wheelchairs. I know of yogis who have no arms; others who have lost both legs. I have yet to find a student who couldn’t do some form of yoga, if it was appropriately modified.

Yoga as a form of exercise is a Western idea.  Its origins were more closely aligned with clarifying and balancing the mind.  Physical fitness was simply a cool side benefit.  We often confuse yoga in the West with asana (yoga postures), which is only one of many tools of yoga. Yoga encompasses that and so much more: meditation, pranayama, ritual, chant, right relationship, and so on.  So yes, anyone and everyone can benefit from doing yoga.

Even asana, which is the simplest of yoga’s tools, can be done by anyone if appropriately modified.  That’s what I love so much about Viniyoga, the style of yoga that Kate—the yoga teacher sleuth in my series—and I both teach.  The word viniyoga means “proper application and adaptation.”

In Viniyoga, we adapt poses to the individual. The goal is to work within a pain-free range of motion with the goal of increasing that pain-free range of motion over time. My most rewarding work as a teacher is helping students learn how to move in a pain-free way, both during practice and out in their daily lives.

Regardless of age, body type, injury, fitness level, or goals, yoga is a tool that that can help anyone.  If you try a class and it doesn’t work for your body, try another! There are dozens of yoga styles, each different from the rest. There are at least a gazillion yoga teachers.  I truly believe there is yoga for everyone.

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! 

Yoga Studios Fact and Fiction

I’m delighted to announce that I’ve been invited to blog on the fourth Monday of every month at Inkspot, the blog for authors of my publisher, Midnight Ink.  Whole Life Yoga blog posts on those dates will link to those posts.  Topics will include yoga, dogs, writing, and murder.

The first article compares my fictional yoga studio, Serenity Yoga, to my real one, Whole Life Yoga.  Check it out. And if you’re a reader and a student, let me know what other similarities and differences you’ve noticed!

http://midnightwriters.blogspot.com/2014/08/yoga-studios-fact-and-fiction.html

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! 

Want to Strengthen Your Core? Start with the Breath

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Most people think of crunches or even Navasana (Boat Pose) as the holy grail of yoga core strengtheners.  But what if you could strengthen your abdominal muscles simply by breathing?

You can!

This simple exercise strengthens the girdling muscles that stabilize the lower back and pelvis. You can do the motion with every breath in your yoga practice, but I like to teach it lying on the floor, where you can more easily feel the motion of the spine and you aren’t distracted by other movements.  Give it a try for 5 minutes each day.  You’ll notice the difference. Your abs may even talk to you the next day!

  1. Lie on the floor, with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Notice how this position flattens your lower back curve.
  2. Place your palms on your belly.
  3. As you inhale, allow your belly to soften.
  4. As you exhale, imagine that you are closing the zipper on a too-tight pair of jeans. Pull in your belly starting at the bottom (the pubic bone) and contract upward toward the bottom of your ribs. You might feel your belly hollow out and your lower back press toward the floor.
  5. On the following inhale, imagine that you are breathing in from your collar bones down. Keep your belly pulled in strongly for the first half of the inhale, and then slowly allow it to relax in the second half.
  6. With each following exhale, close the zipper again.

Hints:

  • On a scale of 1 – 10, make the abdominal contraction on exhale about a 6.  Strong enough to feel the muscles, not so strong that you feel breathless or tired.
  • Relax the rest of your body.  In particular, notice any tension that builds in your neck, shoulders, jaw, and arms, and consciously release it.
  • Once doing the exercise becomes habitual when lying on your back, try it seated crossed-legged on the floor or in a chair.
  • Once doing the exercise becomes habitual without movement,  integrate it into every breath of your asana practice.

Enjoy, and happy practicing!

Tracy Weber

A Killer RetreatCome 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!