Booming, Personal Thoughts, Super Yogis' Thoughts

OMG! What is Going to Happen to Rina Yoga?

0 Comments 26 June 2014

ONLY MORE AMAZING, AWESOME THINGS as always!!!

Everyone is bombarding me and the Rina Yoga angels with this question.
Although I am leaving on July 1 to Los Angeles, I AM COMING BACK in August!!!

Rina Yoga will continue to grow and succeed as it has for almost nine years. Just because I decide to go on an adventure for a month doesn’t mean your yoga has to stop. Now is the time to prove to yourself that yoga is from within you and not dependent on something outside of yourself like a teacher.
Let’s actually shift gears here together and see it from another perspective. The fact that I’m traveling to teach in other cities, other studios, at Yoga Journal Conferences across the country and at the Omega Institute in New York will only help Rina Yoga thrive more! It hopefully gives you a vote of confidence and some trust that you are being well taken care of in Miami when it comes to a positive yoga experience.
Rina Yoga is my baby. But like all babies, they grow up and become their own voice. Rina Yoga is speaking up and saying, “Mom! I love you but let me breathe! Trust me and my friends (RY angels and students) to take care of ourselves and do what is best for us. We won’t let you down. You have taught us well and now it is time for you to learn some lessons of your own. Just like you have always believed in us, we believe in you. Go spread your wings, Mom. You were always meant to fly.”
Okay. Maybe this is a bit exaggerated, but this is how it feels to me. Rina Yoga has breathed its own soul and it will continue to live fully regardless of my physical presence.

For many years now Rina Yoga has not been my studio. It is your studio and our studio.
It will only keep growing if you keep feeding it the way you do. I might have seen the vision, but you had to show up and practice in order to keep it alive. So keep showing up! In fact, show up MORE than before. Bring friends! Bring family! Bring enemies! And together we will make this Rina Yoga community grow beyond the limits of this city, with extended arms and hearts across the country.

How far will your arms reach?

How strong will your heart beat?

The answer to both of these questions is the same…

Infinitely.

Personal Thoughts

Discovering I’m Not a Puddle of Shit

0 Comments 03 June 2014

This weekend was a shift for me… and for the 23 people who shared in this journey too.

But it almost didn’t happen. Why?
Because I was being an idiot.

For years I have been attached to my idea of how a training “should” be. It “should” be this way and that way, with this information and with that book, etc. This rigidity was because I thought I knew what people needed. I realized that this is a lapse in judgment. Everyone is entirely able to heal themselves and find the truth within.

To share one of my “inspiring” quotes from this weekend; “You are an abyss of wisdom when you think you are a puddle of shit.” (Thanks Casey for writing that one down.haha! ;) ) I am merely the one nudging them towards seeing the abyss and stepping out of the perception of the puddle.

Three weeks ago we only had four people signed up and one by one they all started to step out of their puddles for themselves – yes – with a little nudge from me. But they did it!

Each one of these students took a leap of faith with me and I took a leap of faith doing this training with this new format. Plus I introduced a new text that I hadn’t taught yet and I was a little nervous I would fuck it all up. I was hesitant at first; giving into my puddle of poopoo-ness. But, I chose to trust. I trusted the advice of someone whom my intuition (and intellect) told me to listen to even though my mind wanted to get in my way. And when there were pitfalls or challenges that came up, I just kept taking actions in order to adapt and adjust; to make it happen. I kept trusting and never stopped. Once I was in, I was ALL in.

I, too, need to get nudged. In fact, I know that those that love me the most are the ones who are willing to nudge me the hardest – to get me unstuck honestly and compassionately. They’ll grab a cleaver if they have to.

If I had stayed stuck in my ways then us 24 people would have never bonded in this way. When I asked the question to the students of what else they might have done this weekend instead of the the immersion, one person said, “reading,” another said “working,” when suddenly the answers came to a halt when someone answered “masturbating.”  It was classic! Hysterical! Truly precious moments were created and captured. All because, firstly, I stepped out of my comfort zone, got over myself and allowed myself to take an action that needed to be done. Secondly, because so did the students.

I will never forget this weekend and I don’t think that anyone else will. I am so grateful for those who have nudged me to grow up in ways that go beyond my imagination. You are my reminders that anything is possible and that we are here to create our life by fully living it, not just existing in it. With so many magical surprises that arose this weekend, this poem written by Tom Pratt was the icing on the vegan cake with the organic cherry on top.
This is the first poem he’s ever written. I think he should keep doing it. What do you think?

“Man Up!” was the cry
And RJ was on the fly
A hostel nearby could host
22 at the most

The dates were arranged
For the souls to be changed
All drove south to the spot
A Hilton it was not

The front desk bell was there
Reminiscent of the Bates Motel
All scattered to their appointed suites
All hopeful for some roommate treats

The rules were posted for all to obey
No coffee, selfie or roll in the hay
All watched the demise of Miss Piggy in a movie
After which the vegan diet seemed groovie

Dates were filled with good food for the belly
As RJ donned the voice of Vijay from Delhi
All were encouraged to adopt contemplation
While reflecting on the rule of masturbation

Bhakti, Jnana and Karma were in the house
As was the vomit of an unknown mouse
Laughter and sadness filled the air
As the group found solutions to despair

Little by little we whittled away
At thoughts that had no reason to stay
As we learned the right spot for our feet
We knew our practice would never be complete

We learned it’s ok to be, just be
And I learned it’s ok to just be me
We learned to find our peace inside
And I learned I had nothing to hide

-Tom Pratt

“I just love Tom so much! I just want to give him a hug – and I did!” – Andreina Gomez

 

Personal Thoughts

The Cards “I Am” Dealt

2 Comments 10 April 2014

 

My journey continues…

As I sit here on the plane moving hundreds of miles per hour across thousands of miles, I am sitting still in my “comfortable” flight seat by the window. I like the window because although I am enclosed in these small quarters with tight individual space I can see out to where I really am; the sky that is boundless, endless and never changing in its vastness. It makes me feel safe. If the plane suddenly takes a nose dive, believe it or not, I want to watch and find fearlessness in that moment of complete panic. At least that’s the fantasy I have in my head about imminent death.

For the past 14 years, I have been riding my own waves of clarity and confusion in what I hope has been “relatively conscious.” Today as I sit in this plane, listening to Joseph Michael Levry’s “I am” on repeat hoping that subconsciously the truth of those two words will just hit me in an instant, “I am” reduced to taking out my cards and playing Solitaire (yes, physical cards, not on the computer.)

So, I shuffle my cards, once… twice… three times… and a fourth because I love the feeling and the sound of the cards whisping through the air so rhythmically and determined.

I start the game paying attention to all the places I can shift the King of Diamonds and the Three of Clovers as needed. I then realize I cannot win this hand on one meld only but I am close. I flip over the meld and continue to play. Halfway through the second meld, I see I can win the game with two melds and feel satisfied although the main goal is to win the game with one meld only. I suddenly feel a tickle of truth hit me and I am intrigued…

I play again in order to test my “tickled truth” feeling as the self-defined scientist that I am.

In my second game, I realize I cannot win at all. Unless I cheat, but then I know deep down inside that I didn’t win. Again, I feel the tickle. I pause and reflect. And this is what I found.

These are the cards I was dealt. This is my karma. This is my causal body. This is my vasana. I shuffled the cards, I laid them out and no matter how much I spin them around or try to change them, I may or may not win. No matter how much I may want to be the next WNBA star, I was not given the height nor the physical endurance to do so.  I didn’t get those cards which for some reason I visualize as the Queen of Spades.

“Winning” for me in this lifetime is to realize my true Self. I strive to become again what I have lost in my deluded perception of reality; becoming Brahman. This, of course, is quite a tall order -not easily achieved or found by just googling it and following an eHow video. Thus, this frustrates me and intrigues me at the same time.  I know and feel deeply that self-realization is a true possibility for any human being who seeks it. I understand it conceptually with  my mind and yet, I cannot grasp it.  Because there is nothing to grasp when it’s beyond the mind.  There is so much unlearning that must take place (AKA deep suffering) and although I ruthlessly play my cards over and over again, I do not “win.” It gets exhausting and disorienting, and I trust (not always but mostly) that I must at least try to pick up the cards again.

Can I accept I will not win the game? Or do I say, “No! I don’t accept! I’ll find another way! I’ll find a solution! Are there rules that I am still unaware of?” And when I have tried all of that and still found no way of taking out the Seven of Hearts that lies face down beneath the Nine of Hearts facing up, I do feel defeated.

But what is defeat? I do not know. All I need to do is decide… do I play again in hopes that this time my cards will give me a winning hand or do I accept these cards as they are and never win?

I reflect that both can bring me a sense of peace because I must challenge myself to reach this seemingly impossible goal and I must let go of that which I can’t control.

Maybe it’s just a house of cards where the balance of both playing with intention and allowing with surrender are necessary.

My journey continues…

 

 

 

Personal Thoughts

Getting Lost and Found… And Lost Again.

0 Comments 31 March 2014

Life is a cycle…

of thinking you know what you are doing, realizing that you are ignorant and then thinking you know what you are doing again.

of commitment, letting go and committing again.

of ups and downs and ups.

of stepping forward, stepping backward and taking another step forward.

This never stops.

It is never linear although it seems that way to our limited minds.

It’s a cycle and we’ve done this over and over and over again.

Seemingly endless and exhausting.

Then invigorating and exhausting again.

One can ask, “When will this ever end?”

And the only answer I can come up with is, “When you stop asking.”

but then…

I will naturally ask the question again later.

Personal Thoughts

Riding the Waves

0 Comments 19 March 2014

Every moment of the day can create a rise or a fall in your mood, thoughts, emotions, and life. In fact, the certainty that we have at least our five senses assures us that we will live in constant fluctuations. Our senses pull us in all directions. If our senses are pleased we are happy. If our senses are displeased, we are unhappy. In a span of five seconds we can be excited one moment, sad the next, grateful then angry, selfish then selfless.  This constant up and down ride we seem to ceaselessly be on is what gives rise to our suffering and our feeling of being overwhelmed with life.

If you take a moment and sit back to just observe this roller coaster of emotions and thoughts you live through on a daily basis you may find yourself in awe that you are still functioning somehow. In fact, it’s a miracle that with all the human beings riding their own form of roller coasters every second of the day there aren’t more stories of anarchy and chaos. So let’s give one thumb up for human co-existence!

Okay now let’s get real again. The waves will be there since your five senses and your mind have desires based on whatever ideals or belief systems you have been conditioned to believe will make you happy.  Once you can see that you don’t have to live by those ideals and can make your own path to your truth, then you will see that there is no need to resist, push away or run away from the waves.  Remember that your desires are relative; what makes you happy today can make you miserable tomorrow and what makes you feel at peace can drive another person crazy.

The wave will always be more powerful… until you sit back and flow with it. Observe it, see it rise, see it fall, know that it will rise again shortly and fall again right after thus removing any expectations of holding onto the high or resisting the low. If you know this will happen then you will be prepared and can maintain your peace longer.

It takes up so much of your energy to fight the wave. So just let go of the need to be in control of it. Focus on controlling your actions instead. Random thoughts and emotions will come up so assess if they need tending to or if they can just pass on by. If you keep resisting, pushing, huffing and puffing for the wave to go away, it will only drown you. It will envelop you and you will feel frustrated and defeated.  Instead, if you can acknowledge that the wave is coming, you stop and check it out for a moment. You assess and then jump on the wave and say “Let’s go buddy! We got this!”

The wave will embrace you and let you ride it swiftly.  Your acceptance and openness to change is what will ensure a more peaceful journey.  Let’s ride!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Personal Thoughts

The Techi Yogi Speaks

0 Comments 28 February 2014

Stop what you are doing and go outside or near a window to get a breath of fresh air!
Take ten deep breaths.
Yup!
Now!

I have been called to create a new persona per se called The Techi Yogi, who’s vision is to help Stop The Burnout!!! It’s a little cheesy but I do think it is necessary. I see it everywhere… including myself. I have an iPad, iPhone, iPod, MacBook, AppleTV… Yes I love my Mac products, but with so many I’s, where am I?

I recently went to a technology conference in Miami and although the information and speakers were inspiring and riveting, I also couldn’t help but see into the future as to what all these devices and applications would do to our mental, physical and emotional states. I started to see trends setting with a higher amount of corporate clients reaching out in addition to CEOs starting private classes with me. They had tried so many other alternatives to destress and nothing had lasting benefits. Because the world is getting faster and faster and our brains are still human and can’t work as fast as the computers we’ve created, we get overwhelmed and put too much pressure on ourselves to do everything at once.

Most of our stress is caused by our minds being focused on the past or the future: what we didn’t do right or have held onto from past experiences, relationships or career mistakes, and what we still have yet to do with deadlines and so many tasks. We can’t even stop to take a breath for ourselves. It’s a go-go-forward-while-looking-back-and-regretting mentality. (Phew! That was a long hyphenated sentence. You might have to read that again to understand how my mind works.)

This kind of stress makes our bodies react and stimulate the aging process. Our fatigue, bad eating habits, lack of leisure time, lack of exercise, lack of connection to our families and friends is what will make us feel like a ton of bricks and burn ourselves out. Some of the ailments we use are also unhealthy and perpetuate further decay in the body like alcohol, drugs, prescription drugs, or any distraction that doesn’t help us center ourselves better.

We need to find balance by triggering our Parasympathetic Nervous System: your Relaxation Software so-to-speak. When I first started doing yoga I didn’t even know how to relax. I was a type-A personality that was always busy until I realized the importance relaxation had on my entire body, mind and spirit! It’s a skill we can all acquire so let’s let go together. (I hear some of you thinking, “Rina, you are still a type A personality” so just imagine how much worse I was before. ;) )

Most of our day is stimulated by our over-reactive Sympathetic Nervous System: our Fight or Flight Software so-to-speak again. It is malfunctioning because it thinks that not sending an email on time is a stresser instead of how it was originally designed to react which was to flee from a lion chasing after you. Nowadays our “lion” is our cell phone dying thus our nervous system is burning out on this technological zapping. Taking mini breaks to reconnect within yourself and “reboot” is imperative for your system’s optimal health. If your nervous system is shot then your immune system also weakens and we are more susceptible to diseases and illnesses. I hate to talk about our bodies and minds like robots but unfortunately this is how it seems our society is headed; hence my “Stop the Burnout” vision! I myself love technology and enjoy its gifts. I think it is beautiful that us humans can imagine something and manifest it, but we also need to take responsibility with these gifts and use it in moderation. No cell phone can give me a hug when I’m sad or kiss my forehead when I’m sick.

We have to reprogram ourselves to see the bigger picture of how we are slowly burning ourselves out. We can make new habits that will guide us towards happier versions of ourselves with this deeper understanding.

System shutting down… Restarting life! (Okay that was beyond cheesy… but what do you expect from a human?)

Check out my quick sequence featured in Self Magazine Online to help refresh yourself.

Personal Thoughts

Love is a Ninja

0 Comments 18 February 2014

Love comes in many forms and can sneak up on you like a ninja – a Love Ninja – and strike when you least expect it, knock you off your feet, change your “reality” and hopefully kill away any doubts, fears, resentments and unresolved issues from your past.

Of course, before it kills anything off, the Love Ninja makes those doubts and fears so loud that you drive yourself insane with the potential problems and issues that could arise from taking a chance on something new and even strange. You’ve been hurt so many times and nothing has lasted the way you expected it to thus far so what will make it certain that it won’t hurt again?  NOTHING!!! It will hurt again and that is the beauty of it.

Do you want to live your life without getting hurt and closed up in your house perpetually getting hurt by your fears?

Many of my single friends and students have expressed frustration about not finding their “one.” They say Miami is a hard place to meet quality people and question meeting someone worthy at a bar at midnight so they go home sad and lonely yet another night. (But they are out until midnight and aren’t they worth dating?) Some don’t even go out and meet people because they don’t want to have to go through that “perceived” rejection. They already have expectations of failure. This is like the Love Sumo Wrestler: large, heavy, sweaty and hard to get off. (No pun intended. Okay, maybe a little intended.)

One main problem lies in this approach… Going out with the expectation of finding someone already puts pressure on your night and on you. You look at everyone as a potential target that is supposed to fill some kind of void within you. This means you are looking into the future already because you are looking for the results of the night instead of what is actually happening around you. This gives rise to being attracted to the potential of the person instead of the actual person in front of you. You ignore signs that might be red flags and you create the most romantic and convincing story in your head. We are all victims of this poisonous epidemic called the Delusion Serum. Since this isn’t reality you are not enjoying the present moment which could actually be much more exciting than the lie in your head. This IS the recipe for the ole beginning-a-relationship disaster.

Why do we look so far into the future and put stress on ourselves and our dates/partners? Because we can’t deal with our present and we have been brainwashed to think that finding our “other” will provide us with the happiness we seek.  We sabotage our true happiness because we can’t just enjoy the moment for what it is and embrace life as it comes and goes.  Our idea of reality conflicts with the truth and this causes our suffering.

For many years I sabotaged myself and my loved ones around me, living in misery. But now I am rebelling against my previous ignorant self.  I am saying, “No more!” I realized that I am the only one who can make my life a dream or a nightmare.  My nightmare came in these forms of my waking state: over thinking, over stressing, over judging myself and others, closing up, over analyzing, over working, saying no to things I really wanted to say yes to and saying yes to things I really wanted to say no to.

My dream came in this form of my waking state: loving and embracing myself with all my imperfections in order to truly love and embrace someone else with their imperfections as well.  If you think that love will never hurt and all will be fine and dandy as you both skip through the mountains with frolicking deer and birds chirping then the Love Sumo Wrestler will quickly knock your ass down.

Instead, I know I will get hurt. I know I will be weak. I know I will suffer. I know it will take work. I know I will be attached. I already am attached and it’s okay. (I am attached but not possessive – big difference ladies, but that’s for another blog post.) The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali say that I won’t experience enlightenment by having attachments but big whoop, at least I am feeling love which elevates my heart so high that I’m hoping there’s another road out there I haven’t discovered yet.

I accept and embrace all of these truths because my love is a ninja who knows her power and lives deep within me just waiting to sneak up on me when I least expect it. In fact, she has already snuck up on me and instead of fighting her with my Love Sumo Wrestler I have surrendered to her and said, “I am yours. Take me as you wish, my love.”

All you single people out there, go out by yourself or with friends and just have fun for the sake of having fun and enjoy your life. If you stay home, stay home because you embrace your own company and it’s your conscious choice. If you want to go out and no one will go out with you, then just take yourself out on a date and treat yourself. Your frequency will be felt by another fellow person who is also embracing life in this way and it will flow naturally whether it “becomes” something else or not. Feel your Love Ninja within!

Personal Thoughts

There Are No Coincidences

2 Comments 04 February 2014

A few weeks ago I was in L.A. and a thought sparked into my head that I needed to gift something for my special someone, triggered by a comment he made.

Fast forward to last night when I started my search for this said object and decided to call my best friend to help me choose between the options online. Nothing sprung up as feeling “right.” Then she suggested I go to this specific local store which may have what I’m looking for. Plus, I have a gift certificate for that store so it was perfect!

Today, I decided that I had to make it a priority to stop by the store even though I am neck-deep in things I need to do like writing this blog as I am right now.  Hence, I deleted my previous topic and began anew… Why you ask? Keep reading… more dots will be connected.

I had about one hour and 30 minutes before my next private client and so I decided to stop by the store to check out what they have. I take one lap to find parking and swiftly find a spot right in front (BAM!) with 48 minutes already in the meter (DOUBLE BAM!) And in Coral Gables, that is not easy! I walk into to the store and lo-and-behold the perfect object is glistening right in front of me. It even twinkled and sang to me like it does in the movies. (Cue new-agey mystical music fading off.)  I fell in love with it and knew I didn’t have to look any further.

Keep in mind that I hadn’t had lunch yet so I had to pick up food prior to getting to the store so I’m at the store with my tummy rumbling and a bag full of smelly food. I walk out of the store and decide to go to the coffee shop next door in order to finish my blog and eat my food calmly – something I don’t get to do too often. I haven’t been to this coffee shop in about a year so it’s not a common place for me. As I walk up to the door, someone is leaving from a table outside and so I plop down as they plop up (TRIPLE BAM!) I eat my food and go inside to get a coffee since I did use their space. It’s only the right thing to do. I get my CinaSugar Decaf Latte with Almond Milk (YUMMMMY BAM!) and I set it on my table outside. I start to walk to my car to get my computer and out of the corner of my eye I see a young 20-year old girl inside sheepishly waving at me. She signals to ask me if I’m leaving so she can sit outside.  I nodded “no” but then I mouthed, “we can share a table.” She said great and now I am sitting in front of my new friend, Sandra.

When we shook hands she had a strong grip and I felt there was something different about this one. Wearing my Rina Yoga shirt as always she asked me if I taught yoga. I said “yes” and she started saying the same thing most people tell me, “Oh, I used to do yoga, but I’m so busy nowadays that I don’t have time to do it anymore, yada yada.” I let her keep expressing herself and then she busts out with fucking divine wisdom!!!! She says in reference to religion and I’m paraphrasing, “I just don’t want to have to go anywhere outside of myself to find peace.  I told my sister yesterday that I want to find peace within myself and I know I can do it. I just don’t know how. I feel like I’m the Egyptian Walls with all the pictured stories you can read but you just don’t know why. I have all these walls inside of me and everyone can read them and see them, but I can’t do anything about them.” I followed with, “you can knock those walls down.” As she is expressing herself, her tone is motivated, excited and intentional. She doesn’t feel sorry for herself at all.  She has so much clarity she doesn’t even know it. I told her to keep following her intuition because she is on the right track. After a few more back-and-forth conversations we got to working together but individually.

A few moments ago, another young man sat down at another table outside with his guitar and started practicing his tunes.  Her and I both stop, look at him and turn off our music from our iPhones to listen to him. I feel like I am watching my mirror from when I was 20 years old. She keeps turning around and watching his fingers and listening attentively like I do when in the presence of live music.  She comes back to her work and jams by moving her body to the music and singing along.

This had never happened to me before and was fascinating to observe.  I am so thrown back by this whole experience that I can only sit here in awe of the connectedness between us all and the universe. I would have NEVER been in this coffee shop today and met this amazing girl if it wasn’t for the series of events that connected me to be here now…

What are the series of events that have gotten you to this place right now? What actions led you to be here now?

Thank you and Namaste,
Rina

Personal Thoughts

As U Wish

1 Comment 28 January 2014

As I end one training, I start the next. Am I am workaholic? Yes. Although I’d prefer to call myself a yogaholic and a love-aholic, but tomato – tomatoe.

This last training was a cathartic experience for me. I was able to break down barriers I had built up from many years before and was able to connect on a different level. I have learned so much from each group and every training continually reminds me of how much more I have to learn about myself. I am committed to this Self-discovering every moment I am conscious of it.

This last training marked a new first for me because these trainees didn’t fear me and still respected me and the tradition of yoga. With over 85+ trainees throughout my years of teaching trainings, I have had students fear me and respect me while others not fear me and disrespect me and the traditions. There have been a handful of them who didn’t fear me and respected me, but this time, the entire group was on board. Because of this relaxed, fun yet disciplined dynamic from the whole group there was more growth and learning. What makes it so special is that this dynamic came from the group’s truth and their ability to remain open with me without feeling their ego’s threatened or attacked. They got me from the beginning and it set the stage for a blossoming that was beautiful to observe and be part of at times.

The quality of being receptive to others while still maintaining your truth is amongst the most valuable for a yogi. This implies trust, humility and integrity. My attempt at practicing these qualities has led me to surrender to those around me and to the will of the universe. Previously I would not have chosen similar decisions because of my delusional perception of what it meant to have my “Rina-filled” life exactly as I wanted it.  Instead, I have trusted the guidance of another to show me the way and said to the universe, “As U wish…”

I invite you to say this phrase for the rest of today and see what new experiences ignite your already unknown path.  Hint: Your response here would be “As U wish.” ;)

Personal Thoughts, Super Yogis' Thoughts

You Can’t Just GTS (Google THIS Shit)

0 Comments 21 January 2014

How do you know if you are in the right yoga class… for you?

So true... At least for now.

Many beginners ask me which class is best for them and it can be hard for me to answer because I know that every class can be a great learning lesson for anyone regardless of the style, teacher, pace, music, etc. It got me thinking about what I look for in a class and a teacher which lead me to ponder the answers to the following questions. There are no right or wrong answers here – only your answers that ideally would come from within your heart and your gut, not rationalizations like, “it’s cheaper, more convenient, it’s popular, etc.”  When has the path to discovering the truth within ever been cheaper or convenient? Usually those willing to consciously risk and sacrifice more will gain more understanding on this spiritual journey. And yes, I still have some risking to do. ;)   So here goes…

1.    Does your teacher smile at you, make eye contact and connect with you from the beginning of class?
How you feel upon entering a studio is indicative of what you might experience during the class.  If the external environment is welcoming then there’s a better chance that your internal space can shift a lot easier. If your teacher smiles at you and knows your name or asks for your name if you’ve never met before, there’s an immediate connection created and it eases any tension that might have been collected from the day. It shows that someone cares. Remember: Smiling is contagious. :)

2.    Are you being challenged beyond your own mental limitations?
This doesn’t mean the class has to be a super duper power yoga class with handstands, but just be able to go beyond what your edge might be for the moment. It could include just sitting cross-legged for five more minutes than you’re used to or trying a new breathing exercise or even chanting OM a little louder. Of course, it could include the periodic handstand for us inversion junkies. See where you start saying “I can’t,” or “I look stupid,” and then go a little further to see that you can and you look fucking awesome ’cause you’re fearless. And let’s face it, fearlessness is sexy.

3.    Are you able to relax in a way that you usually don’t experience during the rest of the day?
Check in throughout class and see if you are able to let go in certain moments where you used to be more tense. In my opinion, an effective class ends with your parasympathetic nervous system kicked in and in a state of complete relaxation and peaceful introspection. Mind, body, spirit have melted together. This takes time to learn so be patient and gentle with yourself. It took me awhile to learn how to relax. I didn’t even realize it was a skill I had to possess until I started practicing yoga.

4.    Do you get to connect with yourself from a place of love and acceptance?
Many poses can be challenging mentally and physically so pay attention to your level of self-love. Are you judging yourself the whole time and comparing yourself in class or are you able to ignore those negative thoughts and accept your body where it is in every moment. This form of healing also takes practice and time so let’s start it today. It will be an on-going practice so welcome aboard the self-love ship.

5.    Do you feel comfortable with silence during the class?
A moment or two of silence during a class is imperative for you to experience. Most of us feel uncomfortable in silence because it forces us to sit with ourselves and our thoughts. Silence is not a bad thing. In fact, it is very telling of where we need to heal. The loudest parts of ourselves start to yell within when we are forced to listen in the deafening silence. We are constantly getting bombarded with sounds, people, emails, phones, texts, music etc. A yoga class is the perfect excuse where NO ONE can have a cell phone around them for an hour and 30 minutes, so let’s embrace this collective decision to just be on the mat and take it one step further. I feel it is necessary for each class to have a moment of silence in order to let you reflect and observe your level of comfort. When I first started yoga I was immensely uncomfortable with being still and in silence.  But, as time went by, I learned how to just sit with it and find peace the best I could. Now, I embrace the quiet within which is grounding and healing. Try it… yes now… ;) (Pause for your silent moment.)

How long did you last? hehe!

6.    Do you feel safe in class?
Safety and trust are important aspects that allow you to heal and grow internally especially since it’s connected to your first chakra, but that’s for another blog. As a yoga teacher I want my students to feel safe physically, mentally and emotionally. This will enable you to prevent injuries by not creating walls and barriers which are just added forms of tension on all levels. When you don’t feel safe you immediately go into fight or flight mode (sympathetic nervous system) which creates a lot of stress in the body and mind. Let’s make a pledge to feel safe individually and together!

7.    Do you feel empowered and inspired by your teacher and yourself?
This question is closely related to the last one but takes it one step further. If you feel safe then you feel empowered to try new things leaving your fear behind you. Also, this empowerment can help you realize that you are your own authority allowing you to create healthy boundaries with your teachers like telling them, “no, I don’t want to be adjusted please,” among other things left unsaid. Trust is the antidote to fear so what better place to learn this tool than your yoga class. Unfortunately, some classes may make you feel less than or stupid so you might want to observe if it is your own issue or something that the class, environment or teacher has brought to the class. Conversely, if you feel a sense of light shine brighter in you and more clarity is experienced with a sense of calmness then this class might be healthy for you.

8.    Is your teacher informed and educated enough to tell you when he/she doesn’t know the answer to a question?
Always question your teachers. ALWAYS! Do not be afraid to ask your teacher questions about aligning poses, breathing techniques, yoga principles, something that felt wrong that they said in class, etc. As your teacher answers the question, discern if you feel they are being authentic and genuine with themselves and with you. This is vital for your intuitive development. If they are merely giving you lip service, then I would take a moment to reconsider their answer as truth. In the end, always ask yourself the same question and see what your inner teacher answers.

This kid is perfectly saying "I don't know" with a smile instead of with shame. That's ideal because there is no judgment just excitement to learn something new.

9.     Do you feel connected to the other yogis in the class?
How do the other students interact with each other and with you? Do you feel that they are competitive with one another or are they supportive and loving? Are the walls and barriers broken down at the studio or are they reinforced by yoga image bullshit and gossip? Is there a genuine sense of community between the others in the class and the studio? Ask yourself what kind of environment is healthiest for you and you will know where you feel most connected.

10.    Do you feel okay being yourself in class and having fun?
What is the element of fun in the class? Is the teacher taking themselves and you too seriously? Do you feel anxious in class or is there a sense of looseness that is experienced by the class itself? The practice of yoga is important to respect as a tradition and a discipline which can seem rigid and serious, but in fact, it is the softening, lightening, and blending that is necessary for the experience of yoga to shine through.

11.    Are you assessing how you feel after class?
Always check in before you roll up your mat.  How do you feel? Are you lighter, happier, calmer, more peaceful? Are you smiling? Do you feel like you just took the best yoga hit yet you feel grounded that you did it all on your own through internal work instead of external stimulus? The before/after assessment is key for any class you ever attend in order to connect with what has healed in the last hour or so. This assessment every time will create a wave for more awareness the next time you get on your mat. You become the observer.

12.    Does the class and/or teacher leave you with something to reflect upon off the mat?
Remember that the class isn’t about escaping from your reality but finding ways to deal and cope with it. Did that happen for you? As you left class, did some words resonate with you so deeply that you carried them with you throughout the day? Or was it just the presence of the teacher and how you felt around the teacher or the class that made you reflect upon yourself. I have been told many times that my voice resonates in some of my students’ heads when they are making decisions and they hear me saying whatever it is that they remembered in class once. For me, this is both inspiring and humbling since I don’t plan what I have to say in class and understand that whatever lessons come through me that day are meant to be heard by those in the class. I trust that my messages are being sent to those in need and that I have nothing to do with them. Especially the messages that come out of me with an Indian man accent, but that is definitely another topic to discuss at a later time.

Namaste Every Day,
Rina

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