Holidays are coming up and that means two things- Stress and Food! Remember to be a good yogi and not sweat the small stuff! Don't stress, everything will be ok! Just breathe and practice patience. Try not to eat too much! If you eat too much then you'll feel lazy and tired and wont want to be active on your mat, and with inactivity comes other issues! Don't be a victim to this trap!!! Practice self control (as hard as that is for 99.9% of humans) and control that fork! I believe in you! Some tips for holiday mat practice and lifestyle in general:

*Sun Salutations are your best friend! They work every muscle in the body, and if you do enough of them they will be a great sweaty workout after all that food! For extra good Karma try 108 of them in one sesh!

*Keep up the mindfulness practice. If you're surrounded by family and kids all over the place, try and find a secluded space for even 15 minutes. Meditate or walk in the park. Anything to slow down the mind. You wont regret it!

*Remember to be grateful. For everything. EVERYTHING! The good, the bad, the ugly! Its all there for a reason, so accept it all with open arms. There is always another person in the world who would gladly trade places with you! Enjoy your life and give thanx!

Om Shanti!

Moving as One

There's nothing more challenging than working with a partner. But it's a beautiful way to discover not only your potential but your partners as well. Relationships are for nurturing and trust. Partner yoga is all that magnified! If you truly want to learn to trust someone, let them hold you upside down using only their legs and feet! It becomes an intimate practice where you really have to listen to each other in order to get the full benefits of the practice. Learning to give and surrender fully. It's gorgeous!

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When you become...

When you become Identified more with the timeless inner body than with the outer body, when presence becomes your normal mode of consciousness and past and future no longer dominate your attention, you do not accumulate time anymore in your psyche and in the cells of your body. The accumulation of time as the psychological burden of past and future greatly impairs the cells capacity for self-renewal. So if you inhabit the the inner body, the outer body will grow old at a much slower rate, and even when it does, your timeless essence will shine through the outer form, and you will not give the appearance of an old person.

From Eckhart Tolle's The Power of Now. Page 123

What would a Yogi do?

I've always been asked by many people what to do to stay healthy and fit. They ask me so many questions about health sometimes its hard to give them just one answer!

The truth is there are many different factors that lead to a healthy body and mind. Obviously I will promote yoga all day until my jaw hurts! But thats only one small part of it. While the asana aspect of yoga is very critical to health, its one small branch to the big 8 Limbed tree of Yoga. To break it down though, here are a few things that anyone can take away from the yogic lifestyle. So next time you're in a jam, ask yourself- What Would A Yogi Do?!

1) Eat Healthy and Mindfully.

Everyone knows to eat their peas and carrots, but have you thought mindfully about this? Meaning, when you bought those carrots did you think about where it came from, who grew it, and how? Doing this at the grocery will drastically change your habits. I promise! You can do your research before hitting the store to be better educated. Watching TED Talks on the subject, documentaries, and doing some google searches on organic food and sustainable practices will enlighten you. Food is so essential to our survival, but just because this side of the world is abundant in it doesn't mean its safe for you. If you eat meat this can be a life saver. Animals treated and raised properly can have a drastic difference in nutrition. Animals and plants also transfer energy, its the law of physics! Would you rather eat happy chickens or depressed and deprived chickens? Same goes for plants! I myself am a vegetarian, part time vegan, so I promote that lifestyle 100% but that doesn't mean if you eat meat I wont support you! It is still a good idea to only eat meat once or twice a week, not everyday. Protein is in abundance in many plants so don't be fooled by the ads! Eat peacefully and quietly, don't rush. Avoid eating before bed, even snacks, drink tea if you really want something in the tummy.

2) Meditate Meditation is hard. I wont lie to you! But what makes it harder is not doing it at all! Showing up every time, even if you dont want to, is the best way to tackle life and its challenges. Every day people are diagnosed with mental disorders. I cant help but wonder how many of those people could avoid those diagnoses if they started meditating. As a society we are constantly busy, physically, mentally and emotionally. Taking 15, 30, 60 minutes to be still and quiet can seem like wasted time! But I promise you wont regret it, you will see so much benefit. To get started, try lying down on your back and closing your eyes for 15 minutes a day. DONT FALL ASLEEP! Once you can lay there without moving or falling asleep, move on to sitting with crossed legs for 20 minutes. Find a meditation group or go on a meditation course or intensive. When I started I wanted to be immersed so I went to a 10 day silent immersion course! You dont have to do this unless you want a drastic change to your life! I did and it changed, and possibly saved, my life.

3) Throw away your TV!!!

Or at least watch less of it. A lot less! Like almost hardly ever! This will not only increase the time you spend doing much healthier things, but it will change your attitude too! I gave up TV 3 years ago and I will never go back! My attitude went from dramatic to stable within a few months. You will be surprised how you are soaking in all that bad energy from TV shows, ads, and movies. Part of being healthy is being mindful, and you cant be mindful if you are not aware how things effect you externally. If you want a change for the better, toss that TV out the window!!!! But if you want a slow change, only watch shows that are uplifting and educational. Im a big fan of Discovery channel, National geographic, and health shows. Comedy is good to watch in small doses, its very healthy to laugh! But dont laugh at someone else's expense. Racism, sexism, and violence is never funny and they degrade your mind. Truth.

4) Dont worry, be happy!

Stress is a huge sickness that starts in the mind and ends with decease! Many studies have proved that stress is linked to immune system failures and even cancer! Ever heard of panic attacks and mental break downs? Both caused by stress. Did you get sick but no one else around you is sick? It was most likely stress. A lot of the time we dont see how stress effects us until we are sick in bed or crying for no reason! When life gives you lemons, make lemonade! Dont worry, everything will work itself out. If you feel overwhelmed by everything, call a friend. Find a community. Meditation helps so much, so does yoga and playing with your pet! Do something positive with your time. Read a book, start a journal or blog, go to the woods and rest! Life is beautiful, you just need a reminder of that every once in a while! Positive thinking is actually a tool many are using now and it does work. Think of it as looking on the bright side! The grass might look greener on the other side, but all yours needs is some water and light and BAM- your grass will be beautiful in no time!

You can follow me on instagram (@elianayogini) and facebook (Facebook/elianayogalife) for more yogi insights! Om Shanti!

A story called Purpose

There might be speculation that YEAR26 started on November 8th 2012. It actually started earlier than that, in September. It was the end of summer and leaves were just beginning to turn. I love that time of year specifically because of the color palette. The green to orange to red to brown. And you know that the leaves only have a short life span from then on, and its that exact anticipation of the future that makes this moment, the in-between moment, so much more artistic and melancholy. Death for the leaves is just around the corner, but not yet, so you watch every second you get and you take it in. And as the first few leaves start to cover the ground reminding you more and more of whats to come, you appreciate them individually. Like past lovers waiting to take their exit but because they know the end is coming, they take their time.

I had just heard back from them. I stalled to turn in my application for over 4 years and now they had finally replied. I opened the email and there it was... Acceptance. After being put on a wait list for a month they had finally written back that I was in. I was terrified and excited all at once. It was a chance of a lifetime and it couldn't come at a worst time! I was broke, barely had a savings account, and I couldn't afford to call in sick to work for more than a day. But I have to go, I thought to myself, this is what you need and its time.

I would leave on september 26th, for almost 2 weeks. No phone, TV, cell phone, book, internet, game, dogs, money- NOTHING. I was to be completely silent for 10 days with 39 strangers in a place I had never been to, 5 hours away from home. Heaven.

Dhamma Pakasa was the name of the closest meditation center to Indianapolis. I heard about it from Oprah, the queen herself, interviewing a woman who had started meditation practice in the Alabama prison system. From the minute I heard the story I was hooked and thought up every scenario of how to make the trip happen. 4 years and 3 heart breaks later, I found myself accepted into the program with a lot going against me. But a strange thing happens when you make up your mind on doing something, no matter how many challenges you are faced with. I packed my bags and on the morning of the 26th I began the journey.

Vipassana is an amazing kind of meditation dating back to the days of the Buddha in India. You don't sit and imagine yourself in a different place, on a beach surrounded by sun and sea. You don't say mantras or chants over and over until you forget where you are. There is no praying or bowing to some God you think you know about or saw on a piece of toast that one time during lunch. It's just you, with your thoughts, and the air going in and out of your nose. Thats it. And if you have never been forced to sit with yourself you might be thinking, that sounds really boring! In fact, it would probably be the hardest thing, aside from being in the middle of war, you would ever be faced with doing. Its intense, its frustrating, its beautiful, it's depressing, its challenging, it's heartbreaking, its funny. Basically, it sucks! But I would go back in a heart beat.

What I faced in those 10 hours a day, meditating my little heart away, was more work mentally than any test I had ever taken in high school and college combined. I was tired all the time and I had done nothing physical but walk 3 minutes from my room to the hall and then back. I took more naps in those days than I probably did when I was a baby. I had so many thoughts going through my mind at once that it made it harder to actually sit in one spot for longer than 10 minutes without wanting to cut my head off. My greatest satisfaction came from the couple of seconds in every hour that I got a glimpse of silence in my own head space. They were lovely, but they never lasted and eventually frustration set in again.

But all of that was the point. I needed to know that those moments of silence were possible, and that I could get them back again. I needed to realize my own potential and believe in myself much like when I was a toddler and was just beginning to discover my talents. I needed a lifesaver, and this was it. I didn't want the ups and downs that I had been told were a human condition that would never go away. uncontrollable depressions and breakups that lasted years before I finally came to terms that they actually ended and I was ok. Months of watching my life pass by me as I sat in bed looking out from my bedroom window. Years of my life spent in torment I will never get back. I wasnt satisfied with that.

So I began to look for my soul. The evolution of self had begun and it was a one way ticket. There was no going back. I sat for those 10 hours a day in silence, listening to the thoughts and stories in my head, and I waited. Songs, memories, movies, fairy tales, stories, all came to me sometimes bumping into each other and many of them unfinished but all just as annoying as the next, and I sat just the same. When the silence came, a joy unlike any other burst out of me and I embraced it like a long-lost friend. I held it close like a baby bird, gentle so I wouldn't crush it with my excitement, and just as carefully watched it go. I was completely in awe, speechless and enthralled by all its wonder. And when it left I felt an openness that words do not give justice to. I felt more alive than I ever have, in those few seconds.

When the 2 weeks were over I went home. I found myself being completely mesmerized by this world. Everything was loud and aggressive. Everyone seemed so angry and rushed. I wanted to go back to my life in the center, to the rough schedule and amazing food. But I was a responsible adult and had to take care of my dogs and my boyfriend before they forgot all about my existence. 3 months later I find myself in front of a computer, remembering the days I was a hermit and adored it. My life is back to normal but I'm not the same. My mind has begun a shift. It's not an everyday occurence that I have a clear head, I am still a human after all. But they come with less pain, less attachment. I'm not as stressed as I once was and not as lonely as I used to feel. Life is much better than what I previously told myself it was and I still get that alive feeling every once in a while.

What I have learned is much more valuable than any monetary item could ever be. I am infinite in my wisdom and I am more spacious than the sky and the sea. My life is not limited to one mind and one being, it is bountiful and free. I don't need to figure out the details of every detail, I know the answers already. And when the bad moods come and I feel defeated, I look back to the days in that room and remember the power I felt. Energy flowing through my skin and light bursting through my veins... I am free. I am free. I am FREE.

 

Those damn hippies...

I have been taken over by the hippie lifestyle. Ethics have been the name of my game this Year. It hasn't been a slow process, it's been 5 years in the making. I have seen my fare share of suffering and I find my new ways are much more fulfilling than the past life I once endured. With the holidays approaching one always finds themselves being reinvented, finding something to start over or make better. Perhaps it's the human conscience that guides us this time of year. Or maybe it's our souls finding comfort in another year ending and being alive to see the next. either way I feel fresh, ready for what the next year will show me. I am calling this year YEAR26. In case you didn't guess, I turned 26 recently and since 25 was so full of change I decided to dedicate an entire blog to the next chapter. So grab the granola and almond milk kids, it's time to begin!