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Week 5: Living Your Yoga with Brahmacharya

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This week’s assignment has to do with non-excess. When has a good thing, a fun thing, turned into too much? I have relied on exercise to keep me in balance since I was in my early 20's, ridding my body of excess energy but I have certainly gone overboard throwing my self into a manic state of kinetic energy by overdoing the very thing that acts as good medicine for me to achieve balance.

What about the vacations we take to rest and recover from our busy lifestyles only to come home and want to take a vacation from our vacation as we spent our precious time over-indulging in activity, food, and drink, leaving ourselves lethargic rather than refreshed. Can we slow down and practice "just enough" so we leave the moment feeling calm and refreshed rather than lethargic or aggressive from doing too little or too much?

I learned a great lesson years ago from overspending on clothes. My closets were packed with stuff to wear.

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Week 4: Living Your Yoga with Asteya

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This week's assignment has to do with stealing. Of course none of us would walk into Target, for example, and steal something. That is not the focus this week. This week we focus on the more insidious ways in which we steal from ourselves and others.

How about one-upmanship? Have you ever had a conversation with someone where you are sharing an important experience and before you can finish your story they have stolen from you by telling you how, not only had they already done that, BUT how they did it bigger or better than you did? Or made the conversation about themselves entirely?

How about stealing from the earth? With our current water shortage our community was certainly challenged to only take from the earth what was necessary. I scolded myself more than once for allowing the water to run in the sink while I "quickly" did something else rather than treating running water as a very precious moment indeed. We do not own the earth or its resources! It is on loan from us with the idea that we will cultivate it in preparation for future generations.

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Week 3: Living Your Yoga with Satya

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This week's assignment has to do with truth. Truth is is a very tricky subject. Most of us know when we are telling a white lie--a lie that will protect the feeling of another when it is in their highest good.

What about the lies we tell ourselves that are not in our highest good? These "little" lies might be about a relationship we are in. We know the relationship is not in our best interest but we are afraid to end it for social implications. Or we lie to ourselves about our lifestyle trying to justify a behavior when we know deep down this is not in our highest good. Or what about being nice rather than being real? Sometimes nice is just a cover up because being real is far to difficult or courageous.

Being honest and real takes courage! At the top of that list is not worrying about the opinions of others, about your authenticity, or your unique path. Real, though not always pleasant, is trustworthy. Sometimes when I give people an honest compliment they say "you're so sweet." I always laugh and say "I'm not sweet! I'm honest." This makes the compliment so much better.

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Week 2: Living Your Yoga with Ahimsa

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This week’s assignment has to do with non-violence. Your first reaction might be "What?! I'm not violent". Killing and doing physical harm are grosser forms of violence but non-violence has subtler implications as well. Feeling hurried, competitive, overworked, afraid, and speaking harshly of ourselves or others are also forms of violence. I know, with my own practice of non-violence, anytime I feel angry at someone about something and feel tempted to voice it I get a deep feeling of caution within me. No matter how justified I feel in the moment, most often than not I have no right to speak out about another based on my own anger. This is a very deep practice that I hold near and dear to me. I fail for sure but I practice. Just like on my mat.

Another form of violence is not wishing your "competitor" success or down right working against someone you feel is your competitor because of the fear that it will thwart your own success. These may be things that you don't do but at the same time you might just find a hidden thought or feeling "if they succeed that means I won't". There is plenty to go around.

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Week 1: Living Your Yoga with Gratitude

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It's one thing to be on your mat regularly but it quite another to live your yoga.

After having so many yoga challenges that had only to do with your mat I want to challenge you in a new way. Nothing I am going to ask you to do is new BUT(!) will you do it? And will you do it everyday for 9 weeks?!

Get out a notebook and find a friend you are willing to share this with. Positive and supportive friends will double your chances of making a positive difference in your life.

My first week challenge is very simple. I am going to ask you to do it for the entire 9 weeks. Read carefully…

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Conscious Fitness

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It appears the word consciousness is being tossed around quite a bit these days and rightfully so, as the world has been and is changing right before our very eyes. But in what context am I using the word consciousness? There are many definitions of consciousness, so let’s start by boiling it down to one simple word: awareness.

As a culture we are become more and more aware of the origin of what is going on around us. We are noticing the motives of our corporations, we are noticing the origin of our food supply, and we are noticing each other in a new way. Motive is a great indicator of Consciousness or awareness as the intent of anything you do is the fuel you put into it. If your motives towards your fellows is clean so is the outcome of those relationships.

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Her Life - January

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By: Helena Monica

When planning your post-holiday workout approach, stop and think twice about what you’re going to commit to. Let’s face it, whatever workout you do, it’s your commitment that is going to get you the results you are looking for. Any trainer will confirm that! But what do you really need for your body to be in balance, look good, and be pain-free? It is common for one to go to the places they feel comfortable with. We see the familiar faces, we do the familiar routine, we know what to wear, and basically know how our body will respond. But is that what your body really needs?

A healthy, fit body is a body in balance. It is body that has the form from strength and the movement of flexibility. It is a body that is challenged to be strong while simultaneously challenged to breathe freely. It is a body that stands straight and is pain free. It is a body that sleeps well and craves a balanced diet without too many restrictions. It naturally craves the right foods rather than being imprisoned by an overly strict diet to obtain a desired result. It is relaxed in and out of movement while carrying a form of structure that feels strong and stable.

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Prime Fitness

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By: Helena Monica

A great deal of people have the desire to be in shape and feel good at any age but as we get older that takes on a different meaning and has a new set of rules. When you look at fitness in your prime the one factor you have to consider is that you have some history behind you. That history is going to play a big role in what choices you make moving forward. Aside from the fact that once we hit our prime we are more spiritual than we are physical as a whole. In other words, we are not nearly as fixated with what we see in the mirror as with feeling strong, pain free and clear headed.

Before you can make choices moving forward you have to look back. Your body has been recording every bit of information you have given it since the day you were born. I like to call this cellular soup. All of what you eat, think and feel has become a part of you.

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The only competition is the one with yourself

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Anyone who knows me knows that I absolutely love the yoga competition, but I'm afraid the yoga competition is largely misunderstood, especially from folks outside the Bikram world. You might think, "How can there be a yoga competition? Don't the two words oppose each other?" The answer is, it depends.

Calling it a competition is necessary because if you called it a demonstration, no one would show up. This is bad for Box office.

In this country, we love competition. We love our baseball, football, golf, etc. If there is a score to provide a comparison and a hometown player to follow, we are in! So why do people get their feathers ruffled over a yoga competition? We have come to believe yoga should be non-competitive and that we should never compare ourselves to another person in the yoga room. Well, that is true, but in a yoga competition you are comparing yourself to yourself. Your getting a score for your demonstration of yoga.

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It is difficult to trust the process

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I have been hesitating about writing what I am going through, well publicly that is, as motive is everything when putting stuff out there. A bad motive just stinks and a conscious person can smell the stench.

It is difficult to trust the process. I have to laugh as I have tried and failed so many times to explain to a new yoga student the process of purification. The process of purification is a good thing, but it seems like a bad thing, yet I am questioning that very process. My teacher has rolled her eyes at me so many times, "Helena, stop acting like there is a goal, an end point. It doesn't end. You cycle through and I hate to tell you this but you really haven't gotten that far." Spoken from someone who is in a place I can only dream of at this point.

She is right. I want it to end. I want there to be this point at which I am at the top of the proverbial mountain, victorious in my efforts (you can all picture that scene) rather than accepting the ebb and flow of the never-ending river of life. I want to trust what is bigger than me, bigger than this little drama we play out down here, bigger than my business or my bank account, but I don't. I do, but not with everything in my being. The only thing I have is practice. Yoga practice, not yoga perfect.

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