Sattva Yoga Series

Sattva Yoga Series

The Sattva Yoga Series is a three-part series and will be held on Sunday Evenings from 5-6pm in Cal Heights on the following dates:

September 17
September 24
October 1

$45 for the series, pay online at www.bloomyogapractice.com or at the first meeting.
RSVP to reserve your spot at jenni@bloomyogapractice.com or call 562-999-1610 for more information.


The Sanskrit work “Sattva” refers to a sense of purity, calm, and steadiness. It is part of the philosophical trio of yoga called the “gunas”.  They interact with each other, and finding a balance can swing us either to the positive or negative end of these fibers of our existence.

The three gunas are:

Tamas: stuck in place, inert, unfocussed. Too much tamas can keep us from discovering our deeper, spiritual truth.

Rajas: energy (too much), action, too much stimulation.  Rajas can create a sense of attachment to our work and goals, and left unchecked keeps us focused on the need for material objects and constant stimulation to try and create happiness in our lives.

Sattva:  calm, steady, balance.  Sattva can help us reduce and balance the effects of Tamas and Rajas. Practicing yoga is based in the idea that our practice will help us achieve this balance of harmony and light.

 The way we see the world is a result of which guna is working to be dominant in our mind.  If we are full of chaos and distraction, then the guna Rajas will be the lens through which we see the world.  If we are lethargic and procrastinate to finish a project, Tamas may be at work and keep us from our true potential.  With Sattva, we find a sense of contentment in our life, with a great sense of inner focus.

The Sattva Series is designed to get us moving in that direction.  Each time we meet we’ll focus on three tools to help us find our calm and grounding:

Hatha Yoga
Mudra
Meditation

The goal of the Sattva Series is to give you ways to look at the world in a different way and understand that the guna presenting itself may be keeping you from discovering your true self and potential.  With these tools in hand, you can practice creating balance and harmony in your daily life, from hatha yoga, to the use of a mudra (think of this like a yoga pose for your hands), and meditation.

Classes are an hour long and will begin with Hatha Yoga (this is not a flow yoga class but time to spend holding poses and creating internal focus).  We’ll then move into learning a mudra to use during our meditation.  Props such as blankets, blocks, and straps will be provided to support your practice.  Please bring your mat and any other props you might require for your practice.  All-levels welcome.

 

What is Yoga?

What is Yoga?

What is “Yoga”?

The word “yoga” comes to us from Sanskrit, an ancient Indian language. It means “yoke” or “union”, and our practice of yoga unites the body, mind and spirit. In contemporary terms, yoga includes a reinforcement of personal ethics, physical practice (asana), breath work (pranayama), and meditation to create a deeper connection with one self.

In our society today, Yoga is very visible and a very large industry.  There are close to 16 MILLION Americans that practice yoga every month.  Today there are many different types of yoga that one may choose from, and it can feel overwhelming when looking at a veritable smorgasbord of yoga choices.  Many people today practice what is referred to as “Vinyasa” yoga, or a physical practice of connection of breath and movement, but where does it all begin?  What is the root of the yoga we practice today?

Much of what we see as far as yoga being offered around us focusses on the physical postures, or asana, the Sanskrit term for posture.  This type of physical or posture-based yoga, comes from Hatha Yoga, which is rooted in the teachings of the sage Patanjali (c. 200 BC). He outlines a philosophy of yoga called the Yoga Darshana , which is where the larger system of yoga is explained.  There may be many types of yoga to practice these days, but his explanations offer an overall explanation of the philosophies of yoga.  In particular, Patanjali’s system of yoga is called Raja Yoga, or “royal yoga” and is defined as a high level of teaching of this yoga system.  Hatha Yoga focusses greatly on the physical postures, and breath, but this is only the beginning of this larger system of yoga.

Patanjali outlines the eight limbs of yoga which are a guide for our lives, both our external being and the internal work.  The eight limbs of Yoga are:

  1. Yamas – restraints, or behaviors
  2. Niyamas – observances or personal development
  3. Asana – physical postures
  4. Pranayama – control of Prana, or breath work
  5. Pratyahara – control of the senses
  6. Dharna – Concentration
  7. Dhyana – meditation
  8. Samadhi – Realization

Each of these limbs has a much deeper explanation and importance to the practice of the whole picture of Yoga.  As yogis, we can begin to explore these eight limbs of yoga through our asana practice because these physical postures allow us to explore the greater connection between each of these limbs.  We work the physical postures to discover how to control our prana, or work on the breath to support us in these poses.  We practice self-discipline and self-study through the physical postures, allowing us to explore the yamas and niyamas.  As we hold postures, we become still, allowing for reflection and meditation, and a focus of energy.  We control our senses in these poses, often letting the outside world slip away to focus on the uniting of mind, body, and spirit.

When you come to your mat to practice, you are probably practicing a form of yoga that finds its lineage from the teaching of Patanjali.  In this regard, it makes the connection of doing yoga strongly rooted in tradition and in a philosophy that has had thousands of years to develop.  This feels exciting – not only are we a part of something that supports us body, mind, and spirit, but in a larger sense we are a part of something vast and universal.  It is this practice of yoga that can connect us to each other, creating community, and allowing us to practice on our mat what we want to practice and bring to the world around us.

Let’s Get Spicy! Tapas and the heat of self-discipline

Let’s Get Spicy! Tapas and the heat of self-discipline

January is the month where many often set our intentions, goals, resolutions, whatever you want to call it, for the coming New Year.  It’s a great place to start – a changing year, looking forward to possibility of a new one.  And many of these intentions/goals/resolutions have to do with doing something regularly.  For example “I’ll go to the gym four times a week” or “I’ll eat vegetarian twice a week” or maybe “I’ll only drink on the weekends.”  Each of these requires discipline; a focus to keep ourselves on track and not stray from this new path to the new you.

 Let’s face it: after a couple of weeks, and maybe you’ve been really good at sticking to it, it suddenly gets harder.  Now you want to skip that workout because you’re tired or you’ve plateaued and aren’t seeing the fast results.  Or maybe only drinking on the weekend became a glass or two during the week, and eventually a glass or two (too) many nights of the week.  So we get frustrated with ourselves and beat ourselves up for failing.  Maybe we get back on that path of self-discipline, or maybe we drop the intention all together.

 

The Niyama* Tapas (literally meaning “heat”) teaches us that we must sit in the fire of self-discipline to burn away that which doesn’t serve us in order to be left with the beautiful, vibrant person we do want to be.  Through this fire we are able to withstand anything life throws at us, but it is through this fire that we learned to be disciplined in the first place.

 As a musician I’m familiar with this idea of self-discipline. From the early age of five I began taking piano lessons.  And I practiced. And I practiced.  And I became really quite a good pianist.  This led into my discipline and transition into practicing voice and becoming a professional singer, and eventually into the discipline and practice of writing music and becoming a professional composer.  It is frustrating at times, elating at others, but it is through the fire of trial and error, of work and focus that led me to where I am today: an independent composer and singer, and now also a yoga teacher. But it’s WORK – believe me, there are days where I wonder why I’ve picked this life of the independent entrepreneur who must stay self-motivated and disciplined or else never, ever make a living.  It’s tough at times, but I can’t imagine living my life any other way.  If I fall off the wagon of discipline and feel frustrated at slow progress, I remind myself that I didn’t read music the first day I looked at a score. It took time and patience and focus, and each day, week, month, year, decades of work is all worth it and will continue to be a worthwhile journey.

 I approach my yoga the same way – I know that it’s a practice, so I’m in it for the long haul.  I’ll get on my mat, I’ll read yoga writings that challenge and inspire me, and I’ll commit to the discipline it takes to grow a practice, one day at a time. We show up; and we do it again and again, applying this idea of tapas, of heat and fire, to our lives.

 If we can burn away that other stuff that doesn’t serve us, then imagine what we can become. Sometimes it’s uncomfortable; sometimes we might want to walk away and say forget it.  But if life is found through the practice, the only question to ask is what are we waiting for??  There’s no time like the present to start that practice, to get spicy and fired up and ignite that heat of tapas.  Imagine how our lives would change, and not just for the few weeks after the New Year’s resolutions.  We’re talking a lifetime commitment to practice, to bettering ourselves, and to becoming the brightest, boldest, best version of ourselves. 

 So let’s get spicy!  Ignite that fire and create a transformation in mind, body, and spirit!

 *one of the eight limbs of Yoga, Niyamas focus on observation – part of the ethical practice of Yoga.

Positive Negatives in the new year

Positive Negatives in the new year

“I don’t do dairy, thanks.”

This is a phrase I find myself often saying.  Dairy, in general, does not agree with my body, and over the years I’ve learned that even though I’d like to try that new ice cream place that opened up around the corner, I know what havoc it will wreak on my system.  And in saying “I don’t…” I find that it become a hard and fast rule – no exceptions, and no excuses. I’ve learned the consequences, and I prefer the happy digestive system rather than the cranky, dairy-wrecked system.

Now, fast forward to the holiday season.  I find myself saying “I can’t eat sugar, I’m trying to keep my diet pretty strict.”  And sometimes it works, but that little difference of a word “can’t” vs. “don’t” seems to have BIG implications for the way I’ll react to a situation. “Can’t have sugar” suddenly turns into “well, I COULD have just one cookie I suppose…”  Temptation is strong, and it’s easy to break our own rules, even though we know we shouldn’t.

I came across this same idea recently of can’t vs. don’t in a news article, and it reminded me that we all struggle with making the right choices for ourselves.   If we “don’t” do something, that indicates that there’s no wiggle room; it won’t happen because we can stand firm next to our convictions and beliefs.  But if we “can’t” do something, doesn’t it feel like we might make an exception once, twice, fifty times when the mood or situation strikes us right (or wrong?!)?

We might look at getting on our mats for yoga practice as a “can’t” situation – we might say I “can’t miss yoga” when a friend asks us to go out for breakfast or dinner, and turns into “well, I COULD just miss this one class.”  But what if we began to rephrase what is important to us, to hold the line at what we need to hold sacred and important in our lives,  with no exceptions?  It becomes “Thanks, but I don’t skip yoga.”  And suddenly our world feels a little more grounded and solid.

This year, as I look toward 2017 with the infinite possibilities and opportunities that it holds, I’m making a list of my “don’t’s” this year – positive negatives that hold me firm and fast to what is most important to me.  There’s something very empowering about knowing who we are and what we stand for by putting it above all else, no excuses and no distractions.   So here’s to positively empowering ourselves in the new year, and standing grounded in our beliefs. Happy new year!

 

What are you thankful for?

What are you thankful for?

This month we begin the journey into the holiday season: Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa.  We begin the flurry of activities that lead us through the next month and a half of buying gifts, eating and drinking, rushing from holiday event to event, spending time with family and friends.  It’s a series of events that may leave us feeling supercharged, or may leave us feeling tired and over-committed.  So why do we do this every year to ourselves?  We know what happens when we overindulge – whether it be in food and drink, in activities, or lack of sleep.  We put this incredible amount of pressure on ourselves to be the perfect holiday host, buy the perfect gift, or just be the perfect person who can juggle a normally hectic schedule PLUS holiday madness.

I was thinking about the reasons we do this, and I think hidden within this is truly our need to express gratitude for our family and friends.  I think our hearts are in the right place, but we may do it to such excess that we lose sight of what gratitude really means.  We are constantly trying to seek out more ways to make people happy, to make ourselves happy, rather than sitting in our own contentment in the lives we do lead, and the people who are dear to us.  These external items and events do not actually matter, but it’s the weight we put on them that becomes the driving force behind our need to be the best, the happiest, the most giving, that clouds our journey into finding contentment and gratitude in what we do have in our lives.

In yoga we turn to the yamas and niyamsa, or the ethical practices of yoga that can guide our lives.  This idea of contentment, or gratitude, can been found in the niyama Santosha. It basically says that we can take responsibility for our own happiness, that outside influences only work to disturb this seeking of contentment in our lives.  If we could be content with the moment, and not be constantly planning the next event in order to find that true happiness, what would our lives look like?  What would our holiday season look like?  We might find the peace and quiet and gratitude that is already present in our lives.

Take moments of stillness this season to reflect on gratitude for what you have.  Find quiet time to just say “thank you” to yourself and to those you love.  This beyond anything else – gifts, parties, holiday events – is the greatest way we can offer our gratitude for those around us.  Let these simple words of “thank you” be your mantra for this month as you find contentment in your life!

In gratitude,
Jenni

 

We are all pieces of fruit….

We are all pieces of fruit….

Coming to our mats for our practice, we begin to realize that we are living, organic creatures.  As we become present in our practice we realize that we are soft, malleable, organic beings. Who hasn’t felt tired on their mat, sore, cranky, joyful, content at some point in your practice? And this is why I will sometimes think of us as piece of fruit: sometimes we are bright and juicy, plump and full of life.  At other times we are like the bruised fruit that sits at the bottom of our fruit bowl or the crisper drawer in the refrigerator, neglected and forgotten.  Maybe we’re a little banged up, a little soft, and not our brightest color or vibrancy.

But what if with a little self-care we could polish up that true self and become the shiny, juicy fruit that we all can be?  And that’s why we come to our mats for our practice – to learn to hold that sense of true self and acknowledge that we will shift and change, by the year, the week, the day, even the hour.  We’re organic, and not unlike that piece of fruit, we change with time.  It’s the challenge of acceptance that becomes the work – knowing that we aren’t always the same but accepting that it’s part of the path that we’re on.

We can hold ourselves accountable for the choices we make, and these choices can certainly effect us daily on our mats, in our lives and interactions with others around us.  But what if for a moment we forgave ourselves for being tired, sore, hung over, cranky, too this or too that, and just realized that, like our practice, we’re going to change every day.  That’s why it’s a “practice” -we’re never done, and thank goodness for that!  We have so much to learn and create in this lifetime, and if we slip or aren’t always the shiniest, juiciest versions of ourselves, that’s okay.  It doesn’t mean we can’t practice getting there, it just means that we can offer ourselves a little truth and kindness (satya and ahimsa) along the way.

So this week as you get on your mat, acknowledge yourself – all the stuff that feels good, and all the stuff that needs a little extra attention and support from you.  Embrace your juicy self, and enjoy the journey!

 

 

Welcome to Bloom Yoga!

bloom_header_logo

Hello!

Welcome you Bloom Yoga!  We are excited to support you in growing your yoga practice, whether that be through private sessions, yoga at work with our corporate clients, or prenatal and postnatal women.  We strongly believe in the power of yoga to transform and change your life, and we know that in sharing these sessions with you we can help you grow your practice day by day, week by week, and finally into a discovery of the joy yoga will bring into your life.

We hope you’ll take some time to look around our brand new site bloomyogapractice.com.  In it we’ve described our philosophy behind private yoga, why you should be taking private yoga sessions, and what we can offer you in a one-on-one, individualized session.  For our corporate clients, we believe that yoga in the workplace can transform your employees mentally, physically, and help them be more focused and productive at work.  We believe these custom-tailored sessions are exactly the kind of attention you need in order to safely practice yoga and discover these poses in your body.  For prenatal and postnatal women, it is a way to connect with baby, prepare for labor and birth, and come back to your mat and find grounding after baby is born.

We want to approach these sessions with you in a way that’s not about a “quick fix” or a short-term solution.  We believe that “practice” means just that: we practice, and we grow, constantly shifting and changing, but always learning something new.  It’s a lifetime commitment to your body, mind, and soul.

Please take some time to discover our site.  We know that we can design yoga sessions to fit your life, your abilities and injuries, and your own personal yoga journey.  Then please reach out and contact us about creating these individualized and unique sessions just for you!

May your practice bloom and grow!

Warmly,

Jenni and Simon Brandon
Owners and Teachers, Bloom Yoga

bloomyogapractice.com
562-999-1610