About lisa ash yoga

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

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 is 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!

register-now-button

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

cleansing breath routine to reduce stress.

“Our breath, like our heartbeat, is the most reliable rhythm in our lives. When we become attuned to this constant rhythm, our breath can gradually teach us to come back to the original silence of the mind.” -Donna Farhi

Every day while my laptop is powering up, I put a little dab of essential oils on my wrists, close my eyes and take three gargantuan breaths. With each big inhale and (obnoxiously loud) exhale, I push a re-set button; I update and restart again with a fresh perspective.

I’m a big believer in pranayama practice, which is the fancy Sanskrit name for specific breathing practices from the Yoga Tradition. I try to do a five to ten minute practice daily. but even a shortened breathing practice, like three big inhales and exhales before I open my inbox, is my go-to routine of self-care because it helps me transition from distracted to focused.

Maintaining a daily routine of anything (even eating 3 meals a day) is difficult for me; but when I do, I feel more balanced and whole. In the Yoga Tradition, living a balanced lifestyle is called brahmacharya. I introduced this concept on my blog previously in these articles: “balancing self-care: brahmacharya” and “yes please!“.

Brahmacharya shows up in our lives when we create routines that lead us away from distraction and instead lead us toward the constant, reliable rhythm of breath and inner contentment. As yoga teacher Donna Farhi reminds us in her classic Bringing Yoga to Life, our breath and our heartbeat are constant rhythmic reminders that a re-set is needed and helpful in maintaining a balanced life and inner contentment. Your breath is all you need.

New to pranayama breathing practices? Looking for a re-set button that reduces stress and helps you focus? Try this one:

Cleansing Exhale Practice: 7-5-3

  1. Sit in a comfortable position with your back straight and shoulders relaxed. Close your eyes.
  2. Take 3 comfortable inhales and exhales.
  3. Inhale through the nose for a count of seven.
  4. Retain the breath for a count of five.
  5. Exhale through the mouth, loudly and fully for the count of three.
  6. Repeat this 7-5-3 pattern three times.

Pause for a moment, breathing in and out of your nose without effort for a few rounds of breath. Notice how you feel. Gently open your eyes, refreshed and re-set.

I encourage you to add this to your morning routine; building a balanced and whole lifestyle starts a few minutes at a time, daily.

You can find additional Breathing Practices, which Audio to guide you, on my page Guided Meditation.

Happy Breathing,

-lisa

 

 

 

2019 Events and Workshops.

2018 flew by in a wink; I’ve been busy creating new and exciting content for you next year! Here’s what you can look forward to in 2019.

(Gentle Reminder: register through Westport Yoga KC  to secure your spot, as all my events and workshops tend to sell out!)

Meditation for Stress Relief DISTANCE LEARNING

Don’t live in Kansas City? For the First Time EVER: You can begin your meditation practice with me by taking my Distance Learning Meditation for Stress Relief Class.

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!

Investment: $65 Registration is open!

Yin Yoga for Detox January 2019

Candlelight Yin Yoga for Detoxing: Friday January 11, 2019

6-8 pm @ Westport Yoga KC

Recoup from the holidays with a candlelit and aromatherapy Yin Yoga practice designed to detox the body and nourish the mind. This class will feature Yin Yoga poses specifically designed to restore healthy function to the immune system and digestive system. This is the perfect Friday night of self-care after the holidays.

Investment: $25 Registration opens December 1, 2018

Fascia Release February Friday 2019

Fascia Release Friday: Friday February 8, 2019

6-8 pm @ Westport Yoga KC

Join me for this evening of self-care. We will learn how to use yoga props and tennis balls to alleviate stress in your connective tissues. You’ll be treated to an aromatherapy massage and healing meditation during savasana.  Leave feeling refreshed, renewed and ready to heal yourself in with these practices in your daily life.

Investment: $25 REGISTER HERE

 

Meditation and Myofascial Release Sundays 2019

Meditation and Myofascial Release Class: First Sunday of the month

9-10 am @Westport Yoga KC Beginning February 3, 2019

Join me the first Sunday of the month for a morning of meditation and self-care. First, we will utilize self myofascial release techniques (SMFR) to awaken the body, heal aches and pains, and prepare for mindful meditation.  Then, we will share in a guided meditation including pranayama, systematic relaxation techniques and mantra to strengthen our mind-body-spirit connection and prepare for the week ahead.

Investment at the door: $18. (Complimentary class for Westport Yoga KC Members.)

Looking forward to sharing these opportunities with you…

Much gratitude,

-lisa

Check out my Page: Events and Workshops for a complete listing of all Spring 2019 classes.

remembering not to yell at customer service reps.

I’m not pleased to admit that I made a sticky handful of distressed, frustrated, angry phone calls last week. The first call was cut off mid-way through solving the problem of my cancelled accommodation reservation. I took a deep breath, harnessed some irritated perseverance (fueled by too much coffee and not enough sleep, I’m sure) and called again. I was a not ANY less irate.

That second call was cut-off midway through. (eeeerrrg.)

I took a breath,  and called again, deciding I could be tiny bit nicer to Service Rep #3. Still not my best, compassionate self. (Definitely still rude. But one step nicer than terrifying.)

The next day, another technology crisis occurred and I was back on the phone with some poor Customer Service Sap. As I was dialing, I thought, this poor guy picking up the phone from his cubicle in East Jesus Nowhere has no idea that I spent all day yesterday in frustrated negations with customer service representatives; I should try to be compassionate and reasonable.

And I REMEMBERED: Yesterday, I spoke calmly and compassionately to at least one person. I’m a calm, compassionate person. I can do this.

Just by remembering ONE time when I acted compassionately in the past, I could posit myself as a compassionate person and make a change in my behavior that affected not only my happiness but also the emotional and mental health of the phone-guy from StartLogic.

A fascinating study done by Adam Grant by Wharton Business School showed that by simply remembering a time when you have acted generously and kindly in the past, you are more likely to immediately display more kind and generous behaviors.

Remembering an act of kindness creates a mental construct that I can then frame my physical behaviors around: if I remember even just one time when I acted kindly and compassionately, then I am a kind compassionate person.  

This remembering made all the difference in my choices and reactionary behavior. Sure I still needed to go for a dog jog, get good and sweaty, send (more than) a few complaining texts to my Ironman (nothing says good for the marriage like United Against the Common Threat of AirBnB), but I was finally able to calm down, remember that I am ultimately a compassionate and kind person, and respond skillfully to a stressful situation instead of creating more angst in my life.

This week, boost your kindness and compassion. Right now, REMEMBER 3 times when you’ve acted compassionately in the past year. Write these instances down and tuck the reminder in your purse/wallet/lunchbox. If you find yourself in a sticky situation, remind yourself that you are indeed a compassionate person and you have a choice with your actions and words.

Happy Remembering,

-lisa

P.S. Also remember to register for the last Meditation to Stress-Relief Class of 2018: We’ll meet Sundays December 2, 9, and 16, from 2-4 pm at Westport Yoga KC in Kansas City, Missouri.

December 2018 meditation for stress relief workshop picture

Register HERE.

collect a reservoir of compassion.

“Practicing self-love means learning how to trust ourselves, to treat ourselves with respect and to be kind and affectionate with ourselves.” – Brene Brown

It’s surprising how quickly coin jars fill up. My Ironman and I occasionally drop spare change in a glass jar, which we joke is my tattoo fund, but we really end up emptying it for car washing and street parking the Adventure Van. Miraculously, it’s almost always full even though it collects coins one by one; it’s like drops of water filling a reservoir.

Compassion, too, is something we can collect and store up in our hearts little by little. It starts by learning to befriend ourselves, speak kindly to ourselves, forgive ourselves and eventually love ourselves. Every time we treat ourselves with loving-kindness, we create a well-spring of compassion from which we can draw from and extend to others.

Compassion is conscious awareness of suffering and a desire to relieve the suffering through an energetic response.

And anyone will tell you: it’s super hard to be compassionate towards other humans when you are tired, burnt-out, stressed-out and overall feeling gutted and empty.

So start with a few moments of self-love every day. Start by resting, breathing, eating well. Start collecting compassion one precious coin at a time. Begin filling a reservoir by choosing self-care (remember this post about the elements of self-care?) so that you can better love yourself and others.

Collect 6 minutes of compassion today by trying a Guided Meditation. Go buy a healthy snack. Take a walk in the sunshine. Write yourself a Positive Review. However you practice self-care, do it today.

Happy Collecting,

-lisa