spring specials on Private Instruction.

SprView More: http://janamariephotos.pass.us/lisa-ash-yogaing Specials on Private Yoga Sessions are here!   Work one-on-one with Lisa to fine-tune your current asana alignment or to learn yoga for the first time.

Classes sold in packages of 3 sessions.

3 Lessons ONLY $205  (over $20 in savings)

Classes can be scheduled as Private (1 person) or Semi-Private Lessons (2 to 3 people). 

(Prices valid April 10- April 30, 2014. Must be redeemed in full within 4 months of purchase date. Cash or check only.)

Email ash.lisamarie at gmail.com or use the form at the bottom of this page.

Locations and times are negotiable; private sessions are generally scheduled for Saturday or Sunday afternoons.  Early mornings are also available.  

Aparigraha April 101: introduction to the how and why of life.

Aparigraha April 101: introduction to the how and why of life.

“You know,” Eric confided in me the other day, “I sorta wish my family wasn’t used to the lifestyle we live… my kids have so many toys that they are constantly bored. We are constantly stressed about cleaning our house and maintaining everything.  I get up every day and go to my J-O-B, but that’s all it is: a job to keep the money rolling in.”  Eric told me he wished that he could do something different with his days, perhaps become a personal trainer or a physical therapist, but he felt like there was too much baggage holding him back.  I told him: be patient, go for it when the time is right, and take the Aparigraha Challenge… maybe he’d discover that he didn’t have to hold on to all the things holding him back.

Aparigraha is the Sanskrit word for the yama commonly translated as non-hoarding. (Side note: I’m not talking about obsessive hoarders like that TV show…. I know Eric’s wife and she keeps a clean house; I’m talking about the simple non-relinquishment of all the ‘excess stuff’ in your life that magnifies discontent).  I’m challenging all my students and readers, for the month of April, to take my weekly Aparigraha Challenges.  Every week, I’ll post one 5 point challenge.  Read the post, (feel free to commiserate with my failures and celebrate with my successes when appropriate), reflect on your current lifestyle, and then follow the directions for one week.

Ok, so what does aparigraha look like and why would the yoga sages even care about how disorganized my closet is?

First is the obvious: having more ‘stuff’ in your life requires more energy to take care of that ‘stuff.’  Do you need one car?  Possibly, probably.  In Kansas City, Missouri, the answer is probably yes, because this is a geographically expansive city and distances between work and home are likely to be too far to bike or bus for most people.  But, do you need three cars?  Probably, no.  If you own three cars, you spend an exorbitant amount of time and resources taking care of those cars, licensing those cars, changing the oil in those cars, etc.  Time that could instead be spent loving your family, engaging in acts of personal healing such as yoga and meditation, or in service to others.  All actions that will, undoubtedly, enhance the quality of your lived experience and your community.  With the money you are not using to take care of three cars, you could save someone’s life (countless national organizations are looking for cures to chronic diseases like the Leukemia/Lymphoma Society) or create a more just and sacred community where all children are embraced as people of worth (check out The Children’s Place KC and Operation Breakthrough, which are outstanding local non-profits providing children a safe place be loved).

Have you ever heard the motto, attributed to Mother Theresa, “Live simply so that others can simply live”?  That’s what we are going for here.

The second perspective of aparigraha is internal.  Practicing aparigraha, at its finest, is practicing letting go of everything that is no longer serving you.  This means abandoning anger, righteousness, egotistical desires, frustration, and complaining.  It means letting go of worn out beliefs, deserting societal structures that you feel are unethical, and maturing your spiritual understandings.

This month, we will delve into the nuances of aparigrahaAparigraha doesn’t necessitate total renunciation of material items.  (I happen to think that, yes, I do need all four tubs of Christmas decorations that are stored in the basement, Mike.  And yes, I do need an entire set of Pyrex dishes, not just one bowl.  I’ll hold on to those, thank you.)  Instead, aparigraha is about letting go of things accumulated in our spiritual lives, emotional lives, and physical lives that no longer bring joy.

The Yoga Sutras say: “If you persevere in overcoming possessiveness, you will wake up to the how and why of life.” (adapted, II.39)

When my life is overrun by ‘stuff,’ I can’t see clearly in my busy, hurried, overwhelmed life.  It’s like looking for my missing sock in the depths of my sock drawer and realizing that my sock drawer has been invaded by scarves.  I can’t see to the back of the drawer to find the object of my desire (my REI merino wool socks, as it turns out) until the scarves are removed, re-folded, re-considered, and returned to their rightful place.  Overcoming possessiveness means learning through your yoga practice (that you don’t need socks? … we practice barefoot, after all) that the bigger picture in life is much less complicated than it seems:

You are perfect, whole and complete.  You are nothing less than a manifestation of Divine goodness and are created to exist in a state of authentic love.  You are meant for health, happiness, and wholeness at your Soul’s level.  That is the promise of yoga. 

Everything else is just stuff.

Time to wake up to the how and why of life.  Take the Aparigraha April Challenge:

  1. Read.  Each week, I will post actions YOU can take to live a simpler, aparigraha-inspired lifestyle.
  2. Try.  Follow my recommendations.  At least try one.
  3. Share.  Tell me how it’s going.  Individuals succeed at a higher rate when we are accountable to a community.  Share your successes, frustrations, failures and ‘aha moments’ with me through the comment section of this site, or email me at ash.lisamarie at gmail.com
  4. Breathe.  Making a lifestyle change takes longer than one week, and often longer than the required habit-changing 21 days.  Give yourself time.  Be Patient.  But go for it.  (Even you, Eric.)

The challenges will include everything from cleaning out your closet, healing your heart, reducing waste in your home, conserving the Earth’s precious resources, and relinquishing habits that no longer serve you.  Challenge yourself to live simply and tell me all about it.  I double-dog dare you.

-lisa

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photo cred EMA

 “If you persevere in overcoming possessiveness, you will wake up to the how and why of life.” (adapted, II.39)

World’s Oldest Yoga Teacher– 95 Years Young!

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95 years young, Tao Porchon-Lynch  

April 26th in Overland Park, KS

Two workshops at Mark Blanchard’s Progressive Power Yoga

3665 W. 95th St, Overland Park, KS (In Ranchmart)

Saturday, April 26

10:00am to Noon:  “There is Nothing You Cannot Do:” Aging Gracefully: Wisdom Through the Ages

2:00-4:00pm:  2.5 hour Advanced Practice “The Eternal Energy of Yoga”

Tao Porchon-Lynch is truly living proof of the effectiveness of a life-long yoga practice. Her colorful life of glamour and grit, from marching with Gandhi to the French Resistance and heyday of Hollywood, brings a unique and unparalleled experience to her students.

            Join us as we host this inspiring 95-years-young yoga grand master and explore the eternal energy of yoga. Tao will integrate breath and movement, and share with us the experience of her “yoga tango.”  Using the four pillars of yoga-pranayama (breath work), mudras (gestures), bandhas (energetic locks) and chakras (energy centers), we will explore the rich potential of the body to renew, heal and revitalize.

More information on workshop details and prices can be found here. More information on Tao can be found here.

Ashtanga Workshop with Jörgen Christiansson.

Inspiring and humble Ashtanga teacher Jörgen Christiansson will be in Kansas City for a workshop at Maya Yoga the last weekend of April.  I’ve practiced with Jörgen in Los Angeles and couldn’t be happier to recommend his workshop to all yogis.  He has a beautiful spirit!  Previous Ashtanga experience is required for most sessions, but anyone is welcome to the Saturday afternoon session.

Friday, April 25th, 5:30-8pm: Primary Series, with Pranayama and Q & A session
Jörgen will lead you through the complete Primary Series, using traditional counting and correct vinyasa methods. Experience the benefits of this detoxifying practice.

Saturday, April 26th, 9:30am-Noon: Mysore Style Class
A group class, where students individually practice at their own pace. Jörgen will be providing one-on-one instruction and adjustments to the students. Prior Mysore style class experience is required.

Saturday, April 26th, 2:00-4:30pm: Sthiram & Sukham (Steady & Ease) Philosophy and Asana Class
We will explore Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra 2.46: “Sthira Sukhma Asanam- the posture should be steady, comfortable and grounded in joy.”

Sunday, April 27th, 9:30am-Noon: Primary Series into the Second Series, with Q & A Session.
Jörgen will lead you through the full Primary Series and give an Intro to the Second Series.

Full Workshop: $180, plus tax ($196.83); Individual Class: $50, plus tax ($54.68)
Please sign up at the studio or send in a check to:

Maya Yoga
215 W. 18th Street

Suite 200
Kansas City, MO 64108

questions: kathleen@mayayoga.com; 816-679-1053

Jörgen Christiansson is a certified KPJAYI (Sri.K. Pattabhi Jois Ashtanga Yoga Institute) teacher. He first started practicing Yoga in his native country Sweden at age 13. Jörgen has traveled extensively throughout India, until meeting his teacher Sri.K. Pattabhi Jois in 1988. With over 20 years of teaching experience, Jörgen continues the tradition of Ashtanga Yoga in the same manner as taught to him by his Guru. Jörgen has a unique ability to sense each student’s limits and capabilities. With his positive and inspiring nature, he safely helps his students break through old patterns and fears. 

Jörgen resides in Los Angeles and is the owner of Omkar 108 Yoga: http://www.omkar108.com.

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More information can be found on Maya’s website.

practice loving-kindness

loving-kindness.

Your yoga practice is a great teacher because it presents this lesson: how to accept what our bodies are able to do (and how they look!) while simultaneously challenging our bodies to move beyond their perceived limits to find more freedom of movement and mobility.  In the process, we learn to be gentle with our self-judgments and with our lower backs.  We learn to love our bodies and love the simple fact of being able to move.  And we do the best we can.
The Yoga asanas are just one way we learn, through trial and error, through sweat and success, how to stop striving to find love outside of ourselves, and instead, find love inside.
This can only be done by practicing loving-kindness.  World-renowned author and Buddhist monk Pema Chödrön presents the talk “The Freedom to Love”, where she elucidates her modern-day interpretation of the ancient practice of loving-kindness.  This is also called metta meditation.
It’s worth the watch. 

In this short video, she explains how learning to practice loving-kindness changes your perspective on life.  Loving-kindness makes “a big difference in terms of your ability to be able to relax with yourself… It’s sort of like connecting with the best of ourselves,” Chödrön explains.
Yoga is the same way: it offers us a chance to connect with the best of ourselves.
I’ve found, personally, that when I connect with and appreciate ‘the best in myself’ I’m more appreciative and accepting of ‘the worst of myself.’  When I’m practicing loving-kindness toward myself I’m more accepting of my own flaws.  When my anxiety is high, or my self-esteem low, or when I’m feeling guilty and overwhelmed trying to meet the impossibly high expectations of others, I take a big yoga breath and remind myself: I’m doing the best I can.  This is the same thing I learned to say when I repeatedly fell on my face trying to learning pincha mayurasana (forearm stand) for three years.  I’m doing the best I can, I’d say.
When I learned to say this, to love myself despite my biggest anxieties, I also learned to accept (with more ease) people in my life who triggered my anxieties. This was not easy.  But, the more I practiced loving-kindness towards myself, the easier it was for me to realize:
 “That person is probably doing the very best he can… even if it’s not what I would want him to do.”  
Then I could relax (a little bit more).  And love (a little bit more).  Want to be able to relax into yourself?  (Even it it’s just for a few blessed minutes?)  Well.  Here’s your chance.
Finish February, the month of LOVE, by learning this metta meditation.

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Say it every day.  With sincerity.  Start loving yourself a little more.  Let me know how it goes.

*Note: parts of this blog post and this image can be found on Westport Yoga’s blog accessed here. 

-lisa

‘clearing away’ colors of emotions.

A little quote of inspiration I’ve shared with my students this week reminded me of this insane article about the colors of emotions actually showing up in our bodies. Yoga reminds us daily that the emotional and physical bodies are linked, but according to this research (follow above link), that connection is actually visible.

Yoga is about clearing away whatever is in us that prevents our living in the most full and whole way. With yoga, we become aware of how and where we are restricted — in body, mind, and heart — and how gradually to open and release these blockages.  As these blockages are cleared, our energy is freed. We start to feel more harmonious, more at one with ourselves. Our lives begin to flow — or we begin to flow more in our lives.” 

– yoga teacher, Cybele Tomlinson

This is such a beautiful sentiment.  When I’m teaching, I use this phrase: “Inhale in space and healing, exhale out all the tension, toxins and stress.”  (Now I just need to add on: “For real.”)

Next time you practice: imagine that the space and healing in your inhale is a vibrant color.  Cherish that image and begin to let that color clear away your stress. 

Happy Healing.

-lisa

photo cred HM

photo cred HM

intention.

intention.

I firmly believe that the most powerful way to deepen your yoga practice is to confidently set an intention before the class begins.  In the Ashtanga tradition, we set this intention while standing in samastitihi (equal attention pose) which grounds us in the space before we begin moving.  Standing tall, pressing equally into the four corners of our feet, we listen for the sound of our breath to experience present moment awareness.  Your intention, or sankalpa, can be set while you are seated, while you are lying down, or while you are parking your car on the street before even entering the studio.  It is important to set an intention for each practice that is deeper than ‘I’d like to tone my inner thighs, please,’ or ‘Today I will master handstands.’

The Buddha is attributed with saying, “Our life is shaped by our mind; we become what we think.”  This is meant to remind us that our bodies are a physical manifestation of our thought energy.  Your practice is only as deep as your intention for it.  If your mind is busy planning your grocery shopping list (like mine often is on Thursday mornings before I head to Trader Joe’s that evening) then your practice will be superficial as well.  If all it took was a strong handstand to achieve enlightenment, then every college mascot would be living the high life.  My undergrad mascot happened to be played by a very close friend of mine, and I would absolutely attribute Zac as being (top 10) one of the funniest people I know, but perhaps his ability to walk down a flight of stairs on his hands (true story) didn’t ultimately lead him to a state of blissful Union.  In other words: our practice is intimately influenced by the quality of our thoughts. 

I ask students to choose one word that represents a quality they would like to cultivate in their lives.  Patience.  Kindness.  Healing.  Energy.  Strength.  This thought can be your intention.  After a few months of practicing with me, my friend Adelaide confided in me that her recent move back to the Midwest and recent job change in the competitive world of advertising had resulted in a sense of insecurity.  For several years she’d practiced yoga on and off, but now had re-committed to daily practice, and this had changed everything.  She sent me this e-mail:

“You have honestly made a difference in my life and helped me restore confidence and self-acceptance that I had let wane during recent tense life moments.

 I feel immensely better about myself and my surroundings since I’ve chosen to incorporate yoga and your teachings into the flow of how I live.”

 The movement of your practice is not what is special: what is special is your intention behind the movement.  Yoga designed to develop faith, grace, and reconciliation with your own body.  Yoga is designed to heal. 

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Set an intention at the beginning of every class.  Every practice.  Every time.  It may be helpful to repeat a personal script that firmly sets an intention.  You can write your own, or you can just use mine.  I think it works pretty well.  (I mean, I’m not enlightened yet, but I’m working on it!)

“With my breath, I set my intention for this practice.  I renew my commitment to practice with integrity and with passion.

With my breath, I set aside this time for me.  Everything that happened before this practice and everything that will happen after this practice can wait outside.  I dedicate this time to healing myself so that I can bring healing and hope to my community. 

May I breathe for myself and also for my neighbors.  May I be a vessel of Divine Love and Grace.  May this practice be a blessing of health, happiness, and wholeness.”

 

Happy practicing,  with love,

-lisa

tunes

tunes.

The two most common questions asked of me:

Q: Can I pet your adorable dog?

A: YES! Because Russell Clive is the most joyful, cuddliest dog in the whole wide world.

AND

Q: Who was on your playlist for that class?  (Followed by: I loved your music!)

A: While I can’t provide you with the rights to any of these songs (or the cash to buy them on iTunes), here are some of my favorite artists who make their way onto my Tunes Lists:

Artist, Album

City and Colour, Bring Me Your Love

Of Monsters and Men, My Head is an Animal

Scott Matthews, Passing Stranger

Damien Rice, 9

Alexi Murdoch, Time Without Consequences

Vampire Weekend, Contra

Ben Lee, Awake is the New Sleep

All of these albums boast songs that inspire conscious movement.  Music can be a powerful tool to synchronize your mind with your movement.  However, music during your yoga practice can also be a distraction.  First and foremost: the tempo of your practice should be led by your inhale and your exhale.  Let the breath be the soundtrack to your practice… but if you want some background music… enjoy these tunes.

-lisa

(Thanks to Ciara for providing these kind words and reminding me to post some music suggestions!)

“Everything clicks for me when I practice yoga with Lisa.  Lisa is so full of life!  Her energy is positive and joyful.  When she speaks during class, her words are genuine, encouraging, and peaceful.  I especially love the music she plays in her classes.  I am so grateful to Lisa for helping me to take charge of my physical and mental health through practicing yoga.” – Ciara