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As you ground and grow in your much less wobblier vriksasana, you hear the instructor utter the words you least look forward to.
Feeling confused and alone, you’ve now lost your drishti. Your eyes wander about the class and eventually toward home girl two mats over, who has somehow managed to get her arms into some kind of contortionist style prayer fold.
With your teacher’s presence near, you make a conscious effort to reset your focus. You frantically throw your arms in the air and think to yourself, this will work for sure.
“Lovely yogis,” your teacher replies.
You feel charged as your hands make their way back to anjanayasana. You’ve made it through another class without flaking out in your expression.
When an instructor calls “fullest expression,” what is being asked of the student? Is the teacher looking for the craziest arms in tree pose? Or perhaps the straightest and highest kicked leg in one-legged wheel? It is very easy to get caught up in the aesthetic of a yoga practice when those words are said in class.
I believe that pouring self: heart, mind, and body, entirely into practice is the way to access one’s fullest expression. At times, coming into one’s fullest expression could mean staying in the in the most basic form of the posture, tapping into the sounds of the heart and the deep rhythm of inhales and exhales.
There is no need to do anything overly taxing, be gentle and allow yourself to flow freely so that you may connect with your inner guide. This is a part of the practice cannot be orchestrated and should be full of your authenticity.
Trust in your breath and be.
~ Namaste, Sihnuu
To learn more about Sihnuu, click here
Hope is what fuels us, it can serve as our life support when we are at our lowest low and keep us charged and focused when we want to achieve our goals. Hope is the root of our passion and the end of our pain. Hope is as necessary as the air we breathe. It is reflective of our drive and desire to live. With hope, our life has purpose.
Facts About Hope
*Hopeful people have stronger immune systems than those who lack hope.
*Hopeful people do well in a variety of social environments.
*Hopeful people are able to achieve their goals more easily. According to universal law your thoughts are your truth. If your thoughts are life is wonderful, your life is well…WONDERFUL!
*Hopeful people are contagious. When you are surrounded by hope you have no other choice but to allow it to rub off on you.
Things to Ask Yourself:
What is the root of my hope? Is it for temporary gratification?
How can I be hopeful and achieve my goals while remaining detached?
Do I have consistent attitude of hope in my life, or is my hope based on a certain outcome?
How to Be Hopeful
- Quiet the chatter in your mind through meditation – While it is good to be with your thoughts, they can sometimes be distracting. Do not allow negative thinking to take over. If you have a negative thought acknowledge it, honor it, release it.
- Know that expectation is a four letter word – Ok, ok, it’s more like 11 letters, but treat it like it’s a curse word as it relates to hope. When expectations are the seed of hope we set ourselves up for potential disappointment. Be happy regardless.
- Practice Positivity – Think of all of the amazing things that are happening in your life right now and drown yourself in all of the greatness that you encapsulate!!
Utkatasana A.K.A. Chair Pose / Powerful Fierce Pose
Strengthens back, thighs, spine, ankles. Reduces flat feet. Stretches shoulders Boost immune system.
1. Begin in Tadasana (mountain pose) with arms lifted and fingers sparked. Engage all of your bandhas and bring length to spine lifting up and out of the pelvis
2. On the inhale lift your toes and activate the legs
3. Exhale and lower your hips as if you are getting ready to sit in a chair.
4. Look down and see all 10 of your toes. If you do not see your toes work to send your knees closer to the back wall
5. Continue to lengthen your sacrum downward sending your belly button toward your spine to prevent over arching.
6. Reach out through the fingertips and draw your shoulders away from your ears.
7. Send your gaze forward keeping your chin parallel to your mat.
8. Allow your inhales to bring length and your exhales to sink you deeper into your hips.
Those with hip or knee problems use caution and try entering the pose with the back agains the wall or a block between the thighs.
~ Namaste, Sihnnu
You can find Sihnuu on Instagram @yogasihnuu
For me the phrase “take flight” in the context of yoga, breath, and daily life has to do with being so fully in the moment that you transcend all the mind chatter, the worries, the emotions, and frustrations. It’s important for our health and vitality that every single day we find a way to “take flight” and release into the flow that life is presenting to us. Nothing ever has to be the way it has always been. Even if the moment just before was horrible, we always have a choice, here and now to make a new decision and allow ourselves imagine a new reality that exceeds our wildest imaginations. We also daily have the opportunity to trust that the flow of life is going to take us to our destination without strain, stress, or struggle. Stop yourself today in any area you feel stuck. Take a breath and envision your dream outcome for that situation or relationship. Breathe it in, release it with love, and allow it to manifest effortlessly. ~ XoXo Raw Girl
On my mat I inhale and I am present. I exhale and I am empty. Here on my mat I am light. I am open to what comes up for me in flow. I explore spaces within my being that need healing and I send love there. I am not my past. I don’t concern myself with the future. I am here and now. I am synchronicity in breath and movement I surrender and take flight. ~ Namaste, Sihnuu
You can find Sihnuu on Instagram @YogaSihnuu.
Anjaneyasana (Crescent Lunge)
Opens the hips, cultivates balance, strengthens knees, stretches hamstrings, quads, and groin. (Great for yogis prepping for hanumanasana (the splits)
1. Begin in low lunge with your right foot forward and drop your back knee to the mat. (Feel free to use a blanket for cushion if you need more support.) The top of your left foot should be resting on the back of the mat
2. Place your hand on your right knee and your right knee directly over you ankle.
3. On your next inhale lift your arms to frame your ears and draw your shoulders away from your ears. Take steeple grip with your hands
4. As you exhale sink deeper in your hips bring length to your back leg and keep your back foot straight.
5. Once you are ready, take a gentle backbend, tracing your gaze from the ceiling to the back wall as you shine your heart forward.
If you feel pain in the front knee lift the hips a bit more.
Lower hands to either side of the mat for more support or for more of a shoulder opening.
While out taking some yoga pics in Georgetown saw this quote on the wall and loved it. “Create More Than You Consume.” I really feel like that is the inner mantra for my life. When you spend more time tapping into your inner essence and tuning into plant energy via your diet, it really can enhance your creativity and joie de vivre! We are all meant to blossom and live out our true passion and purpose. Part of what clean eating does is free our bodies of toxicity so that we have more vitality, and become a clearer channel for brilliant creative ideas. When you are freed up from sickness, disease, and bodily concerns you have the luxury of channeling your energy towards something greater. In addition, practicing meditation and mindfulness helps us weed through and release our programmed emotional reactions, and work towards our purpose with more clarity, peace, and non-attachment. The more we release our attachments and desperation for something outside of ourselves, the more we come into vibrational alignment with our desires and attract opportunities, people, and things to help us along our journey. Take a moment today and ask yourself: “Do I create more than I consume?” If not, how can you tap deeper into your creativity? What dreams, aspirations, or skills have you neglected lately? It’s a new day, and if you have the honor of being alive there’s still time to create what your heart truly desires. ~Namaste, Raw Girl
Need a boost in your meditation practice? Or perhaps you have never meditated and would like to experiment with how it can improve your quality of life? Today is Day 2 of Deepak Chopra’s online meditation challenge called “Miraculous Relationships.” I have completed the past three 21 day challenges he has done in partnership with Oprah online and can attest to the fact that they are fantastic. Not only do the meditations delivered daily to your inbox keep you grounded, they also keep you accountable to your practice and can help you get back on the meditation bandwagon if you’ve fallen off. Late last year, I did one of Deepak’s first challenges, and ever since then I have managed to keep my resolution for 2013 and be very consistent with my daily meditation. If you missed Day 1 no worries, they archive all of the past posts. All you have to do is sign up online via https://chopracentermeditation.com/ ! Who’s in? -XoXo Raw Girl
As you all know I’m a yoga and meditation junkie…can’t get enough of it. In addition to the regular Raw Girl posts I’ve enlisted a dear friend and talented yoga teacher, Sihnuu, to contribute some poses and brief meditations on the blog. I may jump right on in and add some of my own thoughts. More to come. Please show your love by clicking the like button.
When practicing the healing art of yoga, it is through the art of “yoking”, or uniting, that we reach that state of eternal bliss we so desire. When developing a union between the mind, body, and spirit we are able to reap the full benefits of life itself. We learn to become masters of our mind creating a calm and tranquil space so that we are able to successfully utilize the body as a tool in order to explore our inner essence: the source of true self. ~Namaste, Sihnuu
Exploring this inner essence can then in turn feed us in our daily lives, where we learn to breathe through our emotions and stressful situations. Remember that cultivating your bliss isn’t just for those moments on your mat, you can always reach for your inner essence throughout your day by simply remembering to BREATHE. -XoXo Raw Girl
You can find Sihnuu on Instagram @YogaSihnuu
Last Wednesday I left DC early with yogi friends and a giant duffel bag full to the brim with vegan snacks to-go for the 2013 edition of Wanderlust Vermont at Stratton Mountain. I had no idea exactly what to expect, but came prepared to sweat a lot, meditate, and go with the flow. It ended up being a truly a soul shifting experience full of aha! moments, dancing, laughter, silence, chanting, and almost too many downward dogs for me to handle. Healthy food was also in abundance and I seriously thought I had landed in healthy living heaven because raw live coconut water, juices, superfoods, kombucha, and gluten-free vegan pizzas were in abundance. On the way to Wanderlust we stopped at a food co-op in Brattelboro Vermont and found Kombucha on tap! While in Brattelboro, I also met a world exercise champion name Bill Kathan who holds the record for the most jumping jacks in an hour and also did over 2 million jumping jacks in one year! Some of my favorite healthy living goodies available at the festival included the cacao lip balm from Navitas Naturals, Coco Libre coconut water, and the kombucha bar from Kombucha Brooklyn. The kombucha saved my life not only because it was amazing, but also because there was no time to eat between classes and it kept me full until dinner time.
Although I have been practicing regularly for a couple years now, I’m not one of those bendy, I can do-it-all yogis. Parts of my body are still very tight, but with time I’m sure things will continue to loosen up. So part of me had imagined all of these super intense yogis doing headstands, scorpions, and everything in between while I opted to lay in shavasana or take child’s pose. When I got there it was so refreshing to see such a wide range of yogis from beginner to masters each getting on the mat wherever they were and doing the best they could. The real mission of practice was driven home for me on the first day, in my final class called “Unleashing Your Potential” which was taught by Dave Romanelli, who goes by yeahdave. Early on in his class he mentioned that yoga these days can seem to be about who has the best outfit, the latest gear, or who can bend the farthest, but at the end of the day if you cannot apply your practice in real life, it means nothing. In short, some of the bendiest people can still be some of the biggest a&$holes in real life. It was important for me to remember and hear that and acknowledge myself. Even if I can’t bend the farthest, I do know that yoga has helped to dramatically change how I am in crisis situations or under any kind of pressure, especially over the last five years.
I can’t exactly say one particular class was my favorite, but there were a few standouts. Ayurveda 101 was completely intriguing to me. I am of the mind that every person is unique and that one diet cannot suit everyone, including being raw vegan. Ayurveda is the old school science that really helps to break down the different energy types and also how we can each fall off balance due to environmental, emotional, or dietary stresses. On my second day, the morning began super early with a very challenging class led by Seane Corn which led to a serious emotional breakthrough. After that every class I took on Day 2 was related to kundalini yoga, which was brought to the West by Yogi Bhajan. Although I was not expecting this immersion, I was thoroughly inspired and pleasantly surprised by the day and learned some of the basic chants and meditations involved in Kundalini. By Day 3, I couldn’t move my arms. I decided to go all out in Gabrielle Berstein’s kundalini class in the AM and then skip any additional challenging asana classes. When I cut class I opted for hiking with friends and climbed up to the top of Stratton Mountain. In the evening we got to dance the night away to one of my favorite musicians, Femi Kuti.
So did I find my true north at wanderlust? I would say, yes, emphatically. The entire experience allowed me to focus and dig deep inwardly, introduced me to new disciplines that I am now yearning to study, and also gave me time to ruminate on whether or not my personal dreams and goals are aligned with my inner compass. “Finding Your True North,” to me is about reassessing your values, and being willing to get on a new path or readjust your angle if you’ve gone off course. The best thing about the process is that whatever happens you can trust you are being led in every moment to the people and experiences that will take you further along your life path. -XoXo Raw Girl
To see more photos from my trip find me on Instagram @ TheRawGirl !
Since late March, I’ve been getting a weekly dose of yoga at Core Power Yoga Georgetown. Core Power Yoga has studios all of the country and offers power yoga classes in a variety of styles from beginner to more advanced levels. What makes the classes so special? I love that besides the fact that there are a range of styles to choose from including: Hot Power Fusion, Yoga Sculpt, C1, and C2 classes, all of the classes include core work so you won’t have to worry about neglecting your six-pack in favor of yoga arms. Hot Power Fusion has more standing sequences, is reminiscent of Bikram (with slightly less heat), and incorporates more flow into the practice. Yoga Sculpt is an awesome challenging class that mixes yoga with free weights and cardio and can save strength training junkies from having to leave the yoga studio to get their fix. C1 and C2 are the vinyasa flow style classes that are for beginners and intermediate yogis. All Core Power classes are in a heated room, and are also set to music, with the playlists varying depending on the instructor. Unlike many yoga studios where you can get stuck in a rut, the variety of classes at Core Power allow you to challenge yourself each week, break a sweat, and change up your routine.
Yesterday I got an insanely awesome and intense workout with back to back Hot Power Fusion and Yoga Sculpt taught by Sihnuu, one of my favorite teachers at Core Power Yoga Georgetown. Her classes are simply a revelation. If you need a challenge and have already practiced yoga for some time, her C2 and Yoga Sculpt classes will push you to your limits to a really great soundtrack. Also look on the Georgetown schedule for another favorite teacher of mine, Adeoye, he teaches a really wonderful and energizing Hot Power Fusion and a Yoga Sculpt class that’ll whip you into shape.
For more info on Core Power, or to check if there is a studio near you visit www.corepoweryoga.com. If you are in the DC area Core Power Yoga has the studio in Georgetown and also one in Bethesda. Check them out for free for the first week and when you do tell them Esosa E. A.K.A. Raw Girl sent you! You can also email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to take class together. Come prepared to sweat. Namaste. -XoXo Raw Girl
Read this past post for more on The Benefits of Hot Yoga.