I hope that 2023 ended well for you and that you are off to a good start!
"Yoga with Oma" continues to learn and grow, as I am in my 4th year as yoga teacher.
2023 I taught over 100 classes, most in person, some virtually. led a One-Day-Yoga-Retreat, hosted a workshop and offered several hours of free yoga to my community. This will continue along with the offering of my handmade products (eye pillows and keychains), and a few additions.
As mentioned above, the phrase 'learn and grow' will be my mantra for 2024. What does that mean for you?
I am planning to host more workshops. My lofty goal is a workshop per quarter, preferably in person, but also available virtually.
The first in person workshop 'Hip Mobility and Balance' was a success, which lead to the decision to make it available virtually. If you want to attend, please RSVP via contact form below. The workshop will be on Saturday February 3, 2024, starting at 9 AM MST. No prior experience is necessary, all are welcome. (If you have hip or knee replacement, or suffer from pain, please consult with your healthcare provider. This workshop is not intended to diagnose or treat medical conditions.)
I am working on my next one already, 'Mindfulness and Grief' - how Yoga and Mindfulness can make a difference in your grieving process. I haven't decided on a date and time (TBD). Come back to my website to check for the announcement.
This means 2 more to plan, and I am kindly asking for your assistance. What yoga related workshops would you like to see? Leave me a comment, reach out to me via contact form, or send me a private message. I am looking forward to your input.
A yogi is someone who practices yoga. There is no particular way to look or act, but there are a few universal qualities of a yogi.
*In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna tells Arjuna what is required to become a yogi, “Fearlessness, purity of heart, perseverance in acquiring wisdom and in practicing yoga.” He goes on to describe the traditional ethical and moral rules of yoga, the yamas, and niyamas. In essence, a yogi strives to be the best human possible and to embody the virtues of kindness, truthfulness, compassion, and patience towards others.
Anyone can practice yoga regardless of their age, gender, body type, or ethnicity. In fact, yoga is a practice that celebrates diversity and inclusivity. It is a way to connect with your inner self and find peace and balance in your life. This is why I love yoga; we come together as individuals, as different as our yoga mats, but practice to achieve the same. In my "intro to yoga" class you can find a retiree right next to a college student. And I, the instructor, a fulltime healthcare working, martial arts practicing grandmother.
If you are attracted to the practice of yoga, and would like to become a yogi, here are a few tips:
Ultimately, it is your journey, the path that only you can take. With the help of a good yoga instructor who can awaken your curiosity about the practice and philosophy of yoga, you are off to a good start.
There is no one “yoga body” and that yoga is truly a practice for everyone. The important thing is that they are all practicing yoga. This ancient practice can benefit your mind, body, and soul. Ready to become a yogi?
*Read the full article What is a Yogi? And How Do You Become One? • Yoga Basics
What a wonderful day I had at the first Zen Yoga Retreat in Sedona!
For the group I chose the theme Fall - letting go, rest, and rejuvenation.
We started our mindfulness journey at breakfast with a morning gratitude reflection. The ask was: "before you begin your day, list 10 things you're grateful for (big or small).
When we arrived at our starting point of the hike, I shared with the group the next station of our mindfulness journey. List 3 challenging situations, people, or other obstacles and what good thing you're learning from this challenge. Little did we know that the hike was going to be a challenge! ;)
After our beautiful hike, although much longer than anticipated or time allotted for, we all responded with a yogic mindset and went with the flow. Michelle (Teal Wheel Tours) suggested to directly go to lunch, then to the Spa and practice yoga at the end. We all enjoyed our lunch on the beautiful patio observing ayurvedic principles (enjoying your meal in silence*). Ayurveda is an ancient Indian system of medicine that emphasizes the importance of a balanced diet and mindful eating. According to Ayurvedic principles, eating in silence can help you focus on the food and improve digestion. It is also believed that eating in silence can help you connect with your inner self and promote a sense of calmness and relaxation.
The Spa was a much-needed place to refresh and recover, although we could've spent more time there.
Our driver John took us to the most beautiful area (although at first, we thought he was going to take us on another surprise hike! :)
We found our space where we decided to practice yoga.
The sequence was based on above mentioned Fall theme. We physically and mentally arrived on our mats, enjoying the breathtaking view of the Red Rocks.
My opening remarks beginning our yoga practice:
The long days of summer have wound down and autumn has arrived. The leaves start to turn and then fall away. Rather than fighting to hold on, the trees let them go, with faith that after a rest period, new growth will appear. We also can embrace the cycle of letting go, rest, and rejuvenation. You may have heard during Yoga "let go of what no longer serves you". Here are a few ways you might shed 'your leaves' or letting go:
letting go of grudges
be easier on yourself
taking a break from self-improvement, spending time being in love with yourself exactly as you are
simplify your schedule
clearing up your clutter - weed out what's weighing you down
We can use this season to let go of what no longer serves us so we may create space to grow, change, and transform.
We also talked about the 5 Elements - Fire, Air, Space, Earth, and Water, and practiced breath of joy along with the beautiful song Om Namah Shivaya (by Jonah Kest and Mike Warren).
Our practice allowed us to let go, create space, and be open to receive! And brought us to the next step of our mindfulness journey: People I'm Thankful for: list 5 people who made your life a little happier today. They could be friends, family or even strangers!
We had one more stop on our itinerary suggested by John. One more stop to take in the breathtaking views of the Red Rocks. This was the perfect place for the final piece of our mindfulness journey. I encouraged the group to think about 'the best part of my day' - to choose one moment of your day that made you happy and focus on it for 5 minutes before you go to sleep. I called this 'The Homework'!
Making our way back home, tired, but overall, the group had an overwhelming feeling of joy and gratitude.
It was an honor and privilege to lead a group of women on a mindfulness journey and yoga practice in such a magical place - Sedona/ The Red Rocks. If you would like to learn more about the places mentioned above, I put the links at the bottom of this blog.
I will leave you with one of my favorite poems:
I hope I can be the Autumn leaf, who looked at the sky and lived. And when it was time to leave, gracefully it knew life was a gift - Dodinsky
Yoga with Oma
PS: In case anyone would like to know some of my answers for the mindfulness journey:
1. Being alive
2. Being healthy
3. Having a roof over my head
1. My shoes for the hike - forgot the insoles. I'm learning that you can be as prepared as you want, there's always an element of surprise. You can't prepare for every scenario possible; you just have to go with the flow! Luckily this flow worked out and my feet were happy, no blisters and all!
2. The strap of my brand-new backpack breaking the moment I put it on! I'm learning that I can overcome and adapt. Utilizing my McGiver skills to repair and move on!
3. The LONG hike. I'm learning that expectations set by myself can sometimes create a rigid mindset. No one was hurt, we managed the 5-mile hike, and we have a story to tell!
People I'm thankful for:
The people who made this retreat possible, and the ones who attended.
The best part of my day:
The moment we verbalized how special this small group is and how we feel connected through this experience!
Home - Elements Yoga (elementsyogaaz.com)
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If you are practicing Yoga with me during the month of July, you've heard me talking about the fire element. You also learned the symbolic gesture of fire - the Agni mudra.
Each month I choose one of the 5 elements of yoga (earth, water, fire, air, space) and plan the practice around the element. Living in Arizona, I chose the fire element for the month of July. We celebrate 4th of July with fireworks, it is extremely hot this time of year, why not explore the fire element?
When I prepare the yoga sequence, I think about the attendees of my practice. Not only do I think about where the practitioners are at the moment, but also where the practice of yoga may lead them. As the yoga instructor I pause, take inventory of my strength and weaknesses, checking my toolbox, making sure I am prepared to inspire and educate others.
This is a short summary of what I have learned about the mudra of fire and the positive energy it activates in your body. It is said that the energy activation point lies on the fingertips. When the fingertips are connected, the subtle energy in your body gets activated. The Agni (fire) mudra is useful for (just to name a few):
Even if you don't buy into the energetic benefit of making shapes with your hands, just think of it as finger/ hand exercise. Your hands are the most expressive part of your body. You 'talk' with them, write, type on a keyboard, or you prepare meals for yourself and others. Why not benefit and increase your mobility and flexibility in your fingers, wrists, arms, and shoulders.
For me, Agni mudra is a reminder to think about what ignites my fire? It brings me joy to see the smiling faces of the practitioners as they are following along my sequence with curiosity and confidence.
What ignites your fire? Leave a comment!
May 15, 2020, I received my 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training certificate. The completion of the training signified an end of a period, and simultaneously stands for the start of a new one. I have learned so much but realize that I know so little. Therefore, I will be a lifelong seeker of knowledge.
The "Why" behind the Yoga teacher training was to share my passion with the community. I wanted to show that Yoga is for everyone. Modern Yoga focuses on poses designed to stimulate inner peace and physical energy. There is so much more to Yoga besides the physical exercise, therefore difficult to summarize in a paragraph.
The way I like to explain it (in a very broad sense): this very old system can help you live a fuller, better life. To get to oneness, there are 8 different pathways (8 limbs of yoga).
1. Yamas: What not to do
2. Niyamas: What to do
3. Asanas: The exercise
4. Pranayama: The breathing exercise
5. Pratyahara: Withdrawing your senses
6. Dharana: Focus
7. Dhyana: Meditation
8. Samadhi: Oneness
As I mentioned before, I continue to seek knowledge, deepen my understanding, and work on self-improvement. These past 3 years have taught me a lot about myself and my community. I experienced highs and lows, gains and losses, but mostly a test of patience. I had to accept the fact that my style and personality may not speak to everyone. I had to learn to wait for the right opportunity to come my way. Not to be discouraged while waiting. A very humbling experience!
Recently I was able to participate in a Japanese tea ceremony. Such a memorable time for multiple reasons (I might write about it in another blog). As all participants made their way to the tea house, we were introduced to the humble door and the proper way to enter. This small entry way allows equality among the participants. Regardless of your social status, your job title, your income, etc., all must bow down to enter. This was such a meaningful experience, reminding me how humbling life can be.
While waiting for the right opportunity to show up, humbly accept the here and now. Continuously work on self-improvement to be ready when opportunity knocks at your door. I am beyond excited to share with you that as of June 2023 I have the opportunity to share my passion with my community. Our city opens its first Yoga studio, and I am part of the teaching staff. This will be a humbling learning experience for sure, but I am ready for the challenge. If you would like to learn more about the studio and the amazing staff visit Home - Elements yogaaz
I am going to close with Patanjali: Yoga takes you into the present moment, the only place where life exists.
After a 'good night sleep' you should wake up and feel rested, right? In a perfect world, yes. But what if this is not the case? You may wake up and feel groggy, almost like you didn't sleep at all.
I recently came across a TED talk that covered the 7 types of rest:
I hope you have a 'go to' rest practice that will reset your body and mind.
Is it me or is it hot in here? It could be Menopause! Let's talk about it.
What is Menopause?
"Menopause is the time that marks the end of your menstrual cycles. It's diagnosed after you've gone 12 months without a menstrual period. Menopause can happen in your 40s or 50s, but the average age is 51 in the United States.
Menopause is a natural biological process. But the physical symptoms, such as hot flashes, and emotional symptoms of menopause may disrupt your sleep, lower your energy or affect emotional health. There are many effective treatments available, from lifestyle adjustments to hormone therapy."
If you are interested in the full article, continue to read here: Menopause - Symptoms and causes - Mayo Clinic
Disclaimer: I am not a healthcare provider, therefore not giving clinical advice or treatment suggestions.
Please see your healthcare provider for diagnosis and treatment.
This article is about sharing some experiences and my journey with the big M. First off, no one really talks about Menopause. It is somewhat tabu, because if a woman admits being in menopause, or suffering from it, she also admits to no longer being fertile and youthful.
Before I continue, this article isn't for women only. Menopause should be understood by all, especially if you live in the same household. It will make your interactions and partnership so much more pleasant. Going through Menopause is the same rollercoaster ride as a teenager going through puberty. Best of luck if you have both rollercoasters at the same time (Menopause and Puberty) under one roof!
We all know the common symptoms:
Hot flashes (they seem like a preview of what one may think "Hell" will be like), night sweats, irritability, mood swings, trouble sleeping, weight gain, slower metabolism, thinning hair, and dry skin.
That's a lot to deal with, while handling your daily life tasks. For me the most disruptive are the hot flashes, because they happen out of the blue at the most inopportune times.
I deal with them, some days better than others, like this:
- Acknowledge that this (Menopause and all the 'joy' that comes with it) is another chapter in the book of womanhood. I am not the only one going through the change. And it's a part of life.
- Don't panic! Stay calm, acknowledge what's about to happen and
- Breathe through it! (Especially at work, during a meeting, or even worse while presenting, a hot flash is hitting you) Take a deep breath, acknowledge what's happening. Take deep controlled breaths. The hot flash will rise up and disappear shortly. The more you fight it, the more unpleasant it will be. And all the folks in the room will pick up on your "heatwave". You might want to call a quick bathroom break for the team ;)
- Talk about it! I don't have a problem saying that I am having a hot flash and that I need a moment.
Menopause is not a disease, nor contagious. Let the people in your inner circle know what's going on with you. Communication is the key, no one will pick up on your inner turmoil. Say that you "need a moment" or a glass of ice water. You may be surprised and soon get some ice water brought to you without asking!
- Have fun with it! The other day I referred to my undercut hairstyle as "The Menopause". The barber may not have found it funny, but I am sure some women out there are laughing. Long hair is beautiful but can be a bit much when suffering from hot flashes and night sweats. I can only suggest the undercut. You keep the long hair, which most likely ends up in a bun or ponytail anyway. But your neck can breathe!!! Trust me, it works!
Listen, I don't want to make light of the symptoms of Menopause. It can be a long and difficult process. If you suffer from one or more symptoms, talk to your healthcare provider. I wanted to share my experiences and journey and point out the positive of this change. You no longer have a period! Birth control, done! Kids, mostly grown ;) Career in the bag. So, what's standing in your way to explore this new chapter in your life? Travel - see the world; Learn something new - language, sport, hobby; Reconnect with your partner - you started out as a couple.
Now is the time to focus on yourself, your journey, your health, your wellness. I start my day with a short Yoga routine, train Brazilian Jiu Jitsu 3 times a week, Line Dance once a week, and read as much as I can. I continue to further my skills career related, volunteer as often as I can, and simply put try to be a good person.
I will close with these thoughts: no matter what chapter in life you are in, be kind. Be kind to others, but also be kind to yourself. Be kind to yourself, especially during this transition. You may not be full of energy as you were in your 20ies. But you're full of valuable life lessons. And still have a thirst for new experiences. You are making progress, one experience at the time.
I will leave you with my favorite quote from Seneca: 'what progress have I made? I have begun to be a friend to myself'
A couple of days ago I went to the Grand Canyon (South Rim elevation 7,000 feet (2,100 meter), North Rim 8,000 feet (2,400 meter).
The view was breathtaking! Was it the view only though? I know, high altitude can affect your breath as well.
What is breath?
Breath (definition): the air taken into or expelled from the lungs. An inhalation or exhalation of air from the lungs.
Breath is the force that sustains life; conscious breath is the force that sustains awareness. In the practice of yoga, the breath is fundamental.
Yogapedia explains Breath:
Conscious breath is a cycle that infuses the body with oxygen and channels prana (vital energy) throughout the physical being.
The full breath cycle includes four discrete, and equally important, elements:
Puraka (inhalation) - The steady drawing in of air; filling the lungs and creating an awareness of the vital force that is entering the body.
Abhyantara Kumbhaka (pause after the inhalation) - The intentional cessation of inhalation, a full pause with the body motionless.
Rechaka (the exhalation) - Release of the breath in a steady, conscious movement. Lungs return to a relaxed state.
Bahya Kumbhaka (pause after the exhalation) - A state of calm awareness preceding the next inhalation. A moment of quiet reflection; a present state of being. (Source: www.yogapedia.com)
There are several breathing techniques and exercises helping with breath awareness. Here is one suitable for all ages and all levels (beginners to advanced):
4 x 4 or box breathing
Sit in a calm and comfortable position
Breathe in through your nose counting to 4 (or 4 sec)
Hold your breath counting to 4 (or 4 sec)
Breathe out through your nose counting to 4 (or 4 sec)
Hold your breath counting to 4 (or 4 sec)
You do this for about one minute and you will feel yourself calm down.
This breathing technique can be utilized at different times of the day.
It can be helpful to wind down at the end of a busy day, or right before bedtime. It can calm your nerves before a meeting or a difficult conversation. A great thing about 4x4 or box breathing, you can adjust the rhythm that suits you the best.
Why breathing in Yoga is so important?
When practicing Yoga one important aspect is learning to control your breathing.
Proper breathing allows your body to retain as much oxygen as possible.
Synchronizing your breath with movement allows you to perform poses with ease and comfort.
- releases tension
- relaxes mind and body
- brings clarity
- relieves pain
- strengthens the immune system
- improves posture
- increases digestion
If you would like to practice breathing and/ or start your Yoga journey, send me a message via contact form.
I am looking forward to practice with you!
Taking care of self before taking care of others is a principle that applies in real life situations. For example, listening to the flight crew before takeoff, as they explain how to use oxygen mask and life vest. The oxygen mask is a very good representation of the above-mentioned principle.
I have taken much needed time off to reflect, recharge, and recover.
"Self-care is not selfish. You must fill your own cup before you can pour into others."
With new gained perspective and drive I am ready to continue to serve my community. Here are a few lessons learned during my "time out":
1. Acknowledge your feelings (positive or negative). While all your emotions are valid, they may not be justified. Check if your emotional response matches the circumstance.
2. Self-care is a reminder to you and others that your needs are valid and a priority.
3. Evaluate your friendships (social media vs real friends). Social media time out may help differentiate between the two.
4. Spend time in your own company (the quiet space to reflect and meditate).
5. Entertain yourself (the creative space to practice your skills or learn something new).
6. Giving back to your community (connect with likeminded people, e.g., volunteering).
Reflecting on this time out, I ask myself: What progress have I made? I've found the perfect quote from one of the stoics:
"What progress have I made? I have begun to be a friend to myself." ~ Seneca
Take care of yourself!
"Yoga is not for me!"
I hear this statement often. But when I inquire about the why, it is heartbreaking to hear the most common answers:
I also hear:
Saddened by the answers and the thought of missed opportunities, I am motivated to share the benefits of Yoga. I hope this blog can clear up the most common misconceptions about Yoga.
You don't have to be flexible to practice Yoga, the practice will help you become flexible.
Older people can't do Yoga. Yoga is for people of all ages and body types. If you have physical limitations, the instructor will show you modifications for each Yoga pose.
People refrain from indulging in Yoga as they feel it is expensive. This is a complete myth. You don't need to spend any money on Yoga practice. The internet is full of free online resources that help you learn Yoga efficiently. *Yoga with Oma offers free Yoga!
Yoga should be done only by thin and fit people. This is far from the truth. No matter what body type, you can take advantage of Yoga. You can make your body fit by practicing Yoga. It can help you control your weight and keep your body in shape.
What to wear to practice Yoga? Generally, it is important to wear clothing that is both comfortable and made from breathable fabric (like cotton, bamboo or jersey). Once you chose your outfit, try practicing a range of motion in it before you leave the house. This will ensure you can move freely and that you’re not exposing more of your body than you are comfortable with during practice. Click the link to read the full article How to Know What to Wear for Yoga (with Pictures)
Everyone is going to be watching me, and probably laughing. In Yoga, often a gazing point is taught with each pose. Students are encouraged, for example, to look at their outstretched hand, or at a point on the floor or wall in front of them. As you will discover if you do start Yoga, when your eyes are wondering about the room, it is a lot harder to stay balanced. In short, your fellow classmates won't be paying attention to what you are doing because they'll be busy paying attention to what they're doing and trying not to fall!
I hope this helped to debunk the most common misconceptions about Yoga. Join me for free Yoga in the park, choose an online practice, or join a studio. Hoping you will experience how beneficial Yoga truly is. However, it is important to seek medical advice before performing any Yoga.
For additional information, click below link to Yoga International article on the subject.
20 Reasons You Can't Do Yoga... And Why None of Them Are True (yogainternational.com)
See you on the mat,