About lisa ash yoga

Lisa Ash Drackert is a yoga instructor, teacher, leader and dreamer based in Kansas City, Missouri.

reclaiming a healing morning routine.

After months of mornings not gone my way, I finally made a conscious effort this summer to reinvent a morning ritual that kept me grounded and made essential space for spiritual and physical health. And it made all the difference.

I had a really great system going for years when I taught yoga classes at 6 am: I always built in time to meditate, read a little inspiration, practice pranayama, drink coffee and take RussellClive outside before class.  On days when I didn’t teach, I meditated at home, ate protein, went for a run and then read a devotional book over biggie-breakfast.

And then, pregnancy dramatically changed how I felt in the early mornings (and mid-mornings and afternoons and evenings, actually) and I transitioned my 6 am classes to another teacher, knowing full well that infants, too, require full mama morning duty.

For months, the motivation to get my exhausted and migraine-afflicted body out of bed in the morning was knowing that if I didn’t eat something RIGHT THEN, I was going to be out of commission with nausea and fatigue the rest of the day. My Optimal Health Morning Routine was no longer an option; it was a necessity: one ice cold glass of lemon water with Calm magnesium supplement, one probiotic and one hard-boiled egg.

And then… what? Where did my the rest of my morning go? Often times, I camped on the couch and watched behind the scenes footage from the Harry Potter films, waited for extra-strength Tylenol to kick in, dragged myself out the door a few minutes before work and scrambled through the rest of my busy day. This left me feeling frazzled and disconnected, untethered and still exhausted.

I learned that being busy, or being tired, or being morning sick or being freezing was no excuse for forgoing a daily morning ritual aimed at uncovering compassion and wholeness. Everyone has ‘busy and tired’ or ‘sick and tired’ or ‘freezing and tired’ mornings.

So, when we finally got settled into our new house this summer, I took it as an invitation to recommit to my favorite Slow Morning practice: a little bit of yoga, a little bit of meditation, a whole lot of reading and journaling and coffee and a morning prayer of intention.

The key was deciding what I was going to be busy doing and making space for a morning ritual that consistently lead me toward presence and healing. And then… well… sticking to it, with both unwavering faith and graceful surrender, just like sticking to anything else that is worthwhile but sometimes hard (friendship, faith, family, exercise, you name it.)

In her book Love Heals Becca Stevens writes about the power and healing in keeping to morning rituals and intentions. She suggests that we simply do basic things every day “with unwavering discipline– and that these things will help us slowly but surely grow into who we were made to be.”

What is your favorite morning ritual? What wisdom have you uncovered in your search for daily practice? What practices are you committing to?

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“The good news of healing is that the oldest wisdom in the world really works. We don’t have to reinvent the processes of love or healing, and it is not out of our reach.”

-Becca Stevens

wrangling time.

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“When you are in difficulty, remember the world beckons to you with a bigger story. It invites you to vastness and freedom.”

-Jack Kornfield

Right now, TIME is my biggest stressor. And, as I am nine months pregnant, I’m exhausting a heck of a lot of energy I don’t have trying to slow down and speed up time to accommodate my own frantic ranting:

“Our new house isn’t ready and neither am I! I need more time before this baby gets here! On the other hand, if I have to be pregnant for one more day I’m literally going to die. I can’t make it a few more weeks. But actually, kid, you have to stay in there until next Thursday; then you have permission to come out. But actually, I’m exhausted and miserable and in pain and tired of these contractions, so maybe we should just get the show on the road. But actually,– oh that’s right– it’s still too early. The longer you stay in there, the healthier you’ll be. So let’s speed up time and get through one more week… oh god… one more week…” 

and it continues.

When I’m stressed, it feels like the only reasonable response is to control time. To somehow wrangle time and space to become smaller and smaller and smaller until it conforms to only my dilemma, my life, my internal drama.

It’s in these times of dramatic imploding when I find it immensely challenging (and also irritatingly helpful) to step back and take in the vastness of… drum roll please… the “bigger picture.”

There is a meditation from Jack Kornfield’s book No Time Like the Present called “Open to Timelessness” that helps me do this. The essence of this meditation is to sense vastness by allowing sensations, thoughts, memories and fears to pour like water from a fountain, while I simply watch, all the while remembering, “it is always now, the eternal present.”

Through this meditation, I remember the fallibility of my personal measurement of time and the malleability of actual time. And how, as Kornfield suggests, in times of difficulty, “the world beckons to me with a bigger story.”

Enjoy my adapted version of “Open to Timelessness” Guided Meditation, today (or whenever you have time) and accept the invitation to return to the eternal present.

“Open to Timelessness”

Happy Timing,

-lisa

what’s your one thing?

photography by Chloe Virginia Photography.

Lately, when I sit down to write, I think: I am empty of creative energy. I’ve got nothing left to give to words and wisdom and the world. But then I take a deep breath and remember writing this little blog is not the One Thing I’m doing right now.

The One Thing I’m doing right now is creating a human. I am viscerally and fully participating in the most primal act of creation shared by all sentient beings since the beginning of time.

It’s not that I am devoid or emptied or hollowed out of creative energy; it’s not that I have nothing to say. (If you come to my yoga classes, you know I still have plenty to say.)

The One Thing that I’m doing right now is making this baby. My creative energy, my object of introspection, my desire for deeper wisdom is all directed inward toward this human whom I will love and guide and teach for (literally) the rest of my life. Right now, that’s my number One Thing.

We all need our One Thing. Because time is always precious and should always be spent intentionally. Creation is always precious and should always be treated with reverence.

As Rob Bell writes, “At any moment in the day, you can only do one thing at a time. And the more intentional you are about knowing what your one is, the more present you will be.”

And so at this very exhausting and exhilarating time of my life – I just spent six months remodeling a new yoga studio and reinventing my craft and career; my Ironman and I bought our first house to renovate the perfect little home for our little family; my professional writing career took hold and I sold four magazine articles in a few short months; I completed my Yoga Medicine Therapeutic Specialist degree and was asked to join their prestigious teaching team— I need to continually come back to my ONE thing.

Otherwise, I’m going to miss this one time when I get to spend every moment of every day with my precious, independent, rowdy, hilarious, active and actively-loved child.

What’s your One Thing? What needs and deserves your full attention and energy? How can you commit to greater intention and presence with this One Thing?

Happy One-ing,

lisa

new teaching location next week!

In this sacred space which has been our yoga home for 6 years, our community of yogis and friends have celebrated joy together: Friday nights spent with candlelight, successful donation drives to benefit our city’s most vulnerable, graduations, engagement parties, wedding showers, baby births, sobriety anniversaries and healthy test results. We’ve also held space for one another in grief: healing from divorces, miscarriages, suicides, violence and illnesses on our yoga mats, breath by breath. I am eternally grateful for the opportunity to lead this community and share the teachings of yoga in this Bell Street Location.

Here’s to a new chapter—new location— same beautiful spirit of Light, Love and Community of Westport Yoga KC.

Join me for my last week of Teaching Yoga @ Westport Yoga KC on Bell Street.

April 24:

Wednesday 6 am Sunrise

Wednesday 6 pm Restore and Meditate

April 25:

Thursday 12 pm Vinyasa Yoga

April 27:

Saturday 9 am Hatha Yoga

April 29:

Monday 6 pm Gentle Flow Yoga

Monday 7:30 pm Vin/Yin

April 30:

Tuesday 12pm Vinyasa Yoga

Tuesday 6pm Hatha Yoga

May 1:

Wednesday 6 am Sunrise

Wednesday 6 pm Restore and Meditate + Closing Ritual

New Westport Yoga KC location:

5911 Main Street

Kansas City, MO 64113

Months of hard work have gone into getting this space renovated! Can’t wait to share it with you!

See WestportYogaKansasCity.com for Opening Weekend Details!

take a mental vacation: saucha.

My new life goal is to completely skip the entire month of February… or at least spend it vacating on a warm beach, somewhere far far away from blizzards (and adult life decision making.) I think of vacation as a refreshing re-set: a time for me to tune out in order to tune in. And, interestingly, it’s an important aspect of Yoga Philosophy; the personal practice of saucha is basically a mental vacation.

At its core, saucha (one of the five niyamas) is an invitation to clean out mental and physical clutter to get clear about what really matters. In English, it translates to “clarity, purity and purposeful self-care.”

Saucha asks us to take a step back from the chaotic lifestyle of information overload that we are accustomed to and the copious acquisition of more, more, more that our society promotes. It asks us to take a breather, organize our living space with care, clean our yoga mats with deliberate consideration and most importantly, limit interaction with information input that leads to chaotic thinking (hello, 24 hour news cycle).

In my previous post, I asked you to do your spring cleaning early. Cleaning house is just one expression of saucha.

This week, I challenge you to practice saucha in these ways:

  • turn off your phone for 1 hour
  • take a 24 hour break from news media
  • take a week sabbatical from TV
  • make your “to-do list” before you go to bed at night to mentally clear your mind for better sleep
  • dedicate a Power Hour one day a week where you complete all the “5 minute tasks” that tend to build up (renew your license plates, finish the laundry, write that thank you note, plan your weekly work-outs)
  • commit to 15 minutes of silent time daily for 1 week; try starting your silent time with the mantra “I tune out, to tune in. I am grateful for this mental space.”

Give yourself permission to take a mental vacation; notice how you feel after trying these saucha practices. Appreciate the rare and treasured moments of clarity that arise.

Happy mental cleaning,

-lisa

More about saucha:

saucha: the one-minute rule of tidiness.

saucha and the cinnamon roll

cancel your cable tv.

you gotta clean your shower.

do your spring cleaning early.

Practically every time a client arrives at my yoga studio in the middle of the day, the first sound they hear is my beloved 90’s-style Dustbuster buzzing away as I try desperately to keep our floors and windowsills clean from the crumbling brick and mortar that rains down with every gust of Midwest wind. Keeping a clean, organized practice space is important to me, and it’s important to yoga.

Spending hours a week cleaning my yoga studio is not about pride or morality, and it’s  not about perfection. It’s about the conscious and deliberate practice of saucha, the first of the five niyamas of Yoga Philosophy.  Saucha is about creating an orderly outward space which then extends to an orderly inward state. Rolf Gates writes that saucha is the personal practice of cultivating “consciousness and care around the choices you make concerning your mental and physical environment” in order to achieve a balanced and serene mental state.

Because our environment definitely affects our mood, spending time cleaning and organizing can intimately and positively affect your mental outlook.

Think about it: we all love that first FRESH breath of spring air, we love the clarity of a much-needed rainstorm, we love getting into a rental car that’s been newly detailed. We feel comforted by clean sheets, we feel freedom after cleaning out our closets, we feel ready to rest soundly when the dishes are put away and the house is put to bed. These acts of care and cleanliness matter to our mental state and mental clarity.

“When the body is cleansed, the mind purified and the senses controlled, joyful awareness, needed to realize the inner self, also arises.” -Yoga Sutras

Take a few minutes this week to practice small acts of saucha. Simply ask yourself:  “How do I feel after completing this act with care and attention?”

Try:

  • Cleaning out your car
  • Filing the stack of papers on your desk
  • Wiping your kitchen cabinets
  • Making your bed
  • Soaking in a warm bath with Epsom salt and lavishly moisturizing your skin
  • Sitting in meditation with a clean yoga mat, enjoying silence for 10 minutes

Enjoy the spontaneous sense of joy and ease that arises.

Happy Cleaning,

-lisa

 

getting clear about what matters.

When my Ironman left the house this morning, he kissed Russell Clive on his furry head and said, “You be a good boy.” Then, he kissed me on my bedhead and said, “You be a good lady.”

Total clarity beamed through my pre-coffee morning fog. That was what mattered today. 

It didn’t matter all that much how much of my to-do list got marked off or how many steps I counted or how many tasks I accomplished between teaching my yoga classes and private client sessions. What mattered was that I was really, really clear on what mattered most.

This is difficult to remember: so often my alarm clock effectively steals my peace of mind. And first thing in the morning I’m swept away by an over-reliance on efficiency and a little anxiety about getting it all done.

In Yoga Philosophy, the yama, or ethical consideration of asteya is meant to counteract this. Asteya means “non-stealing.” It means getting really, really clear about our priorities and our growth, our key guiding principles that may not be at the top of our to-do list, but can be exemplified in-between all the box checking. Asteya means not letting the busyness of life steal attention and energy away from clarity, love, compassion, and all the things that matter more than accomplishing tasks.

In his book a Path with Heart, teacher Jack Kornfield offers these three questions for reflection to help bring us back to clarity:

  • Have I loved well?
  • Have I lived fully?
  • Have I learned to let go?

When I get really caught up in my ever-growing to-do list (reality check… I’m running a business… all the boxes will never be checked!) these three questions help bring me back to what really matters.

The other thing that really helps is my morning meditation practice. I don’t need to be an expert to do it, and I don’t even need to sit for 30 full minutes to benefit from its clarifying quiet. In fact, even as few as five minutes a day of mediation four times a week has been shown to have positive physiological benefits.

I highly suggest adding a five minute meditation to your morning routine. (I even snuggle with Russell Clive while I sit… it’s pretty darn cute.) If you’re still learning to meditate, or just have an overly-efficient brain like I do, try listening to one of my Guided Meditations. (They’re free!)

If you’re interested in learning along with me, join me for this 3-Week Distance Learning Course called Meditation for Stress Relief. I’ve taught this class four years running and this is the FIRST on-line sessions available to YOU, even if you don’t live in Kansas City.  Please join me!

Happy Getting Clear,

-lisa

Meditation for Stress Relief DISTANCE LEARNING

Distance Learning: Meditation for Stress Relief
3-Week ONLINE COURSE January 27- February 10, 2019
Zoom Conference Meetings: 2 pm (CST) Sundays January 27, February 3 and February 10, 2019
In this distance learning class you’ll master the 5 basic steps of Organizing a Meditation Practice that relieves stress and reduces anxiety.
You’ll learn the physiological benefits of meditation, bust some common myths of meditation and master 12+ stress-busting practices you can incorporate into your daily routine. Together in our Zoom Conference Meetings, we’ll learn and practice techniques to trigger our body’s natural Relaxation Response and have time for discussion in an intimate learning environment.
In between our 3 Zoom Conference Meetings, you’ll complete homework assignments and enjoy the opportunity to check in with your fellow classmates. You’ll also receive weekly Inspiration in your inbox from Lisa, encouraging a successful plan for at-home daily meditation practice.
The course includes a detailed e-manual for future reference. You don’t even have to leave the house!

Investment: $65

Hurry! Registration Closes January 22, 2019.

USE PROMO CODE: LABLOG for $5 off your registration!

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More details and Registration can be found at Westport Yoga KC’s website.

winter isn’t all that bad…

“The soul usually knows what to do to heal itself. The challenge is to silence the mind.”

– Caroline Myss

December is a time marked by waiting and introspection. In the northern hemisphere, we are snuggling in with anticipation of the dark days and nights of winter. Those of us who celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah are waiting, marking this interim time of expectancy and contemplation day by day.

While I truly love the giddiness, lights, sounds and sharing of the holiday season, I also truly dread the dark months of winter. I like to be outside all day; I like overbearing sunshine and bare arms and tan lines. I like sunglasses and sweating and frizzy hair and the expansive energy of summer. Winter is none of these things.

However, I’ve made it a point over the past few years to pinpoint and appreciate the silence and potential of the winter season. There is power in the silence of the season; there is promise in long evenings of introspection and heavy blankets and book reading. I’ve noticed that with this attitude, by New Year, I’ve gained a new appreciation of rest– both physically and spiritually– as if all I needed to do was to become quiet enough to listen to what my soul really needs.

Here are four ideas to help you appreciate the interim time of waiting and deep winter this year:

Drink herbal, warming drinks: In Ayurveda, the medicinal science of yoga, winter is an important time to eat root vegetables, drink non-caffeinated spicy drinks, and rest in the evenings. Try my favorite hot, herbal tea:

Cinnamon-Orange Peel Tea:

  • Place 1 cinnamon stick in your mug
  • Peel a medium-sized orange and add 1/2 its peel in your mug
  • Add 1 teaspoon Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Add 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg (optional)
  • Pour 10 oz. steaming water over your concoction and let it steam for 8-10 minutes and enjoy

Get Moving every day: Nothing screams depression like being sedentary. Try a physical activity that inspires introspection like running, walking or yoga. If you are stuck inside due to icy sidewalks, hit up my teacher Tiffany Cruikshank on YogaGlo.com. This is a high-quality online yoga site that offers classes with master teachers ranging from fifteen minutes to one hour.

Start a daily Reflection Practice: Winter is the perfect time to begin a daily reflection practice. Challenge yourself to turn off the TV a few minutes early before bedtime and spend ten minutes in reflection. Grab a journal and finish these sentences…

  • Today, I was inspired by…
  • Today I experienced love…
  • Today showed me that my Soul needs…
  • Today I am grateful for…

Re-commit to a daily Meditation Practice:  Dark mornings and evenings mean you’ll be inside anyway; sit down in a quiet place for ten minutes, light a candle and tune in to your intuition.

New to Meditation? Not sure how to start? Join me for my first ever on-line class, Distance Learning Class: Meditation for Stress Relief. This is the perfect introduction class for Beginners. Register through Westport Yoga KC today!

Meditation for Stress Relief DISTANCE LEARNING

Distance Learning: Meditation for Stress Relief

3-Week ONLINE COURSE January 27- February 10, 2019

Zoom Conference Meetings: 2 pm Sundays January 27, February 3 and February 10, 2019

In this distance learning class, you’ll master the 5 basic steps of Organizing a Meditation Practice that relieves stress and reduces anxiety.

You’ll learn the physiological benefits of meditation, bust some common myths of meditation and master 12+ stress-busting practices you can incorporate into your daily routine. Together in our Zoom Conference Meetings, we’ll learn and practice techniques to trigger our body’s natural Relaxation Response and have time for discussion in an intimate learning environment.

In between our 3 Zoom Conference Meetings, you’ll complete homework assignments and enjoy the opportunity to check in with your fellow classmates. You’ll also receive weekly Inspiration in your inbox from Lisa, encouraging a successful plan for at-home daily meditation practice.

The course includes a detailed e-manual for future reference. You don’t even have to leave the house! (Zoom is an online conferencing program available for free download.)

Spots are limited; registration closes January 22, 2019.

Register HERE.

Happy Wintering,

-lisa