Wellness Wednesday: Slowing in Observation

I often find myself during lunch breaks and daily about commutes around the city observing the hundreds of people passing in fast motion. With everyone so focused on their next task, I hink it is easy for us to feel obligated to accelerate our own speed along with it, until our productivity turns into frenzied accomplishment. We tend to disregard our natural rhythms because it seems we have to just keep up. In the end, rushing never gets us anywhere but on to the next activity or goal.

Observing those around me made me come to appreciate the moments we choose to be mindful and slow down to not only savor our experiences, but also allows us to fully focus our attention and energy on the task at hand. Moving at a slower place lets you get things done more efficiently, while rushing diminishes the quality of our work and our relationships. Slowing down also lets us be more mindful, deliberate, and fully present. When we slow down, we are giving ourselves the opportunity to reacquaint ourselves to our natural rhythms. We open ourselves the opportunity to become more curious of our surroundings, what we share with others and most importantly what is within us.

Slowing down allows us to disconnect from the frenzied pace so we can begin moving at our innate pace. The moments we choose to live in fast forward motion then become a conscious choice rather than an involuntary action.

Namaste!

Angie

Wellness Wednesday: Gentle Acceptance

Ebb and flow: The recurrent or rhythmical pattern of coming and going, decline and regrowth.

We may come to accept that everything in life is fluid. A black and white mind only creates restrictions from the freedom we are eager to feel. The rich emotional palette we have as thinking, feeling human beings can seem to be both a blessing and a curse. The varied amount of joy we are equipped to feel is balanced by our ability to feel intense levels of distress. This is where we can come to adore the “grey areas” because we come to realize how frustrating it can be to repetively wash ourselves between extremes but learning to accept the ebb and flow of life events helps us to develop the resiliency we need to live in harmony with the peace we create within ourselves. in this moment we can accept what is and where we are and continue to move with this ebb and flow with grace.

Namaste!

Angie

Mantra Monday: Om Ritam Namah and feeling validated in your wishes

As this crazy year wraps up, I can only imagine that kids are more eager than ever to write their letters to Santa Claus now more than ever. In fact, I can imagine every single one of us would love to write a letter and get some wishes granted: for stability, comfort, normalcy, the list goes on.

We are hard-wired to push back against our wishes and to try and “just roll with it.” And, in many cases, that’s fair. For instance, I really want an espresso machine, but I know that is not in the cards for me this year, and I am totally cool with that. That’s not what I’m talking about. What I’m speaking about are our deep rooted desires, ones we cannot leave beneath the tree.

This week’s mantra reminds us that these wishes are not only valid, they are natural:

Om Ritam Namah (pronounced om rih-tahm na-mah)

The translation of this mantra is my intentions and desires are directly connected and supported by universal intelligence.

In essence, this means that, since we are all connected and all synchronized, whether or not we realize it, what our hearts crave is tuned into what the world at large needs. This means, for instance, if you feel selfish for missing connection in this isolated time, thinking about how so many people have it worse, there is no need to feel guilt. You can miss more profoundly feeling linked in to those around you, since that desire is your slice of sharing that which the greater world around us desires.

By all means, stay humble and stay responsible, but remember this week’s mantra, and never feel the need to hit your internal mute button when your desires make their way into your stream of consciouness.

Namaste awesome!

Ryan

PS: Unrelated note, if any of you want to buy me and espresso machine, shoot me a DM! 😉

Did you know that YBD offers over 40+ Virtual classes per week?  Our LIVEstream classes are designed for members who would like to add to their instudio practice or are not able to return to the studio, but want to stay connected to their yoga and YBD community.  You may use your regular membership, classes on your class packs, or purchase an auto renewing unlimited virtual membership for just $49/month to access our virtual offerings.  Click HERE to view our schedule.

**All members get access to workshops for FREE!

Pose of the Month: Virabhadrasana 2 (Warrior 2)

Happy November, Yogis!

As we welcome the holiday season, we are often reminded of family traditions and stories, dating back years and years. I thought that, in this spirit, November would be a great opportunity for us to look into the mythology and traditions of our Yoga postures.

This month’s featured pose, Virabhadrasana 2 (Warrior 2), derives from the story of the warrior Virabhadra (the litteral translation from Sanskrit is “Virabhadra’s pose”).

Virabhadra is a creation of Shiva, the destroyer. His mission, as depicted in the warrior asana sequences, is to slay Daksha, father of Sati. Sati was married to Shiva, but took her own life after being unable to reconcile a disagreement with her father. And so, Shiva created Virabhadra to go to a party being thrown by Daksha, and behead him in front of all of his guests.

The Warrior 1 posture represents Virabhadra arriving to the party and bearing his swords, Warrior 2 represents his locating his foe and preparing to strike, and Warrior 3 represents the beheading. What a happy Christmastime story!

Let’s take a look at how to safely and strongly get yourself into Warrior 2:

  1. Begin in tadasana (neutral standing)
  2. Rotate 90 degrees so you are now facing one of the long sides of your mat
  3. Step your feet out wide, 3ish feet apart (this will vary depending on your body)
  4. Extend your arms out long so that your torso is making a lower case letter T shape
  5. Rotate your front foot perpendicular to the top side of your mat
  6. Bend your front knee 90 degrees – stack your knee over your ankle joint
  7. Gaze out over your front hand

As with every posture, modify according to what your body needs!

Next time you strike this pose, think of its namesake and the focus he must have had as he spotted his target. What is it that you are approaching with this ferocity in your own life? See it, gaze intently at it, and conquer it.

Namaste Awesome!

Ryan

Family Friday: Kristin Brindle

The YBD family needs your help to ensure we are here to continue serving Chicago’s Western Suburbs for years to come. Every Friday for the next few weeks, we will be highlighting some of the remarkable people who comprise our beloved community.

“I have been a Yoga by Degrees Student since before it was YBD South Naperville and a teacher  since July 2019. I love this job because I am able to share my passion for the Original Hot series with others. When I am at YBD I feel empowered, supported, and healthy. Your support of YBD would mean a lot to me because I know the power of this community and the importance it has in my daily life.” -Kristin Brindle, Traditional Hot Yoga Instructor, YBD South Naperville

Kristin’s ability to see her classes from a student’s perspective makes her a particularly gifted teacher. When you leave Kristin’s class, you leave feeling inspired, enlightened, and, of course, sweaty!

Show your support for Kristin, and the rest of our YBD family, by taking class in one of our six locations or by purchasing a virtual membership for over 40 live-streamed classes per week.

If YBD has positively impacted your life, share your story on social media using the hashtag #WeAreYBD.

We have no doubt that, with the love and support of you, our amazing community, YBD will move forward stronger than ever!

Wellness Wednesday: Inner Reliance

We spend a lot of our lives now searching for the complete piece to happiness. We rely on our external world in influencers, friends, family, significant others, mentors, teachers, gurus. There is nothing wrong with this and, in fact, our external experiences sometimes are the best thing for us in our current moment in time. But in absence of such a figure, it is important we remind ourselves that we can rely upon ourselves because we carry everything within us already to make progress on our path to our better self.

The path of self actualization is often looked at as a journey with an ultimate end goal. However, most of us know that claiming what we had always wanted only makes us happy for a brief period until a new object of desire appears. Being willing to consistently know and love ourselves, and to explore what truly makes us feel deeply and strongly, gives us the advantage of being able to attract the right people we desire to share life with because we had already created our foundation of who we are in confidence.

The more we practice and trust this process, the less we will look outside ourselves for guidance and instead move at our now natural rhythm that only encourages to share our true, authentic selves.

Namaste!

Angie

Mantra Monday: Say Neti Neti and Let it Go

What is it about nagging thoughts that makes them feel the need to infiltrate your mind when you most need it to be clear? Whether its on your yoga mat, while you’re trying to sleep, or when you just need to pay attention, these unwelcome disturbances can derail your peace and swing your mental state to one of frustration.

But, it doesn’t have to be that way. Yoga, as it always does, pulls through for us, and gives us this useful mantra:

Neti Neti (pronounced the way you think it is)

The translation is simple: it means: not this, not this. Say it in Sanskrit or English, whatever floats your boat.

Its use could not be more simple, just utter this expression the next time a stray thought enters your consciousness. Notice that with this, there is no judgement. There is no kicking yourself that you are experiencing these thoughts, just a gentle “not this.” This adherence to ahimsa (non-violence, including to the self) is what makes this mantra especially yogic.

So, the next time you lie awake, unable to quiet your mind, do not fret. Just say “not this, not this.”

Namaste Awesome!

Ryan

Did you know that YBD offers over 40+ Virtual classes per week?  Our LIVEstream classes are designed for members who would like to add to their instudio practice or are not able to return to the studio, but want to stay connected to their yoga and YBD community.  You may use your regular membership, classes on your class packs, or purchase an auto renewing unlimited virtual membership for just $49/month to access our virtual offerings.  Click HERE to view our schedule.

**All members get access to workshops for FREE!

Family Friday: Sara Hoshell

The YBD family needs your help to ensure we are here to continue serving Chicago’s Western Suburbs for years to come. Every Friday for the next few weeks, we will be highlighting some of the remarkable people who comprise our beloved community.

I have been a Yoga by Degrees Studio Attendant since September 2018 and a teacher since January 2020. I love this job because I feel a sense of community with my fellow yogis and love the opportunity to help empower one another! When I am at YBD I feel that I’m at my second home and love catching up other Teachers and Students and sharing our practice with one another. Your support of YBD would mean a lot to me because I’ve been coming here for almost 10 years and there is no other yoga studio that makes you feel like you’re at home and at peace like YBD does and I would the opportunity to continue to bring that feeling to other people who need it!” -Sara Hoshell, YBD Instructor and Studio Attendant

Whether she is leading one of her energetic and creative classes, or meticulously helping with the day to day operations of our studios, Sara absolutely lights up our community!

Show your support for Sara, and the rest of our YBD family, by taking class in one of our six locations or by purchasing a virtual membership for over 40 live-streamed classes per week.

If YBD has positively impacted your life, share your story on social media using the hashtag #WeAreYBD.

We have no doubt that, with the love and support of you, our amazing community, YBD will move forward stronger than ever!

Wellness Wednesday: See The Good

Our perception shapes the lives we create. When we focus on negativity, we ultimately come across it in abundance. Just the same, we find positivity when we immerse ourselves to see the goodness around us. We may adapt an, “all or nothing” mindset when we acknowledge our life is challenged with pain, hurt and grief by simply labeling situations or people as “good” or “bad”. But if we intend to search for good, it reveals itself to us. It will reminds us that our life is a place of balance.

There is a energetic shift that occurs when we shift our perception. What once felt empty, now feels full and wholesome. We will gradually admire characteristics of people we once could not forgive, recognize a beginning in the midst of grief, see small joys in daily abouts. Each new challenge becomes another opportunity to see good in the world

Our ability to create our reality makes our world a potentially better place. In appreciating the simple good that exists, we can internalize it as it becomes a radiant piece that we can hold always.

Namaste!

Angie

Mantra Monday: Finding Your Place in the Universe with So Hum

Myriad events dominating the news cycle are reminding us of the enormity of the human population. In the coming days we will all be hearing of gargantuan numbers describing quantities of people. A startling realization hits when you consider that that massive chunk of humanity that was just mentioned only accounts for a small sliver of the total amount of humans there are in total.

There are an estimated 7.8 billion humans walking 7.8 billion individual paths on this planet. Congratulations, you are one of them! Now consider all of the non-human life that exists on Earth, and of all of the potential for life heretofore unknown in our vast universe. And you are… one human.

But that’s not all that you are…

YOU, my friend, are, in fact, the Universe. At lease, according to this week’s mantra you are!

So Hum (pronounce it exactly like you see it) is translated from Sanskrit as “I am That.” However, Vedic scholars, along with many of the Yogis of today, understand the “that” to mean “The Universe and all of its Creation.”

No, this does not mean that the world revolves around you, nor does it revolve around the person you so desperately want to grab by the collar and inform that the world does not revolve around them. What it does mean, however, is that you and I are connected, you and the fellow a few towns over reading this now are connected, and, indeed, you and that individual who you’re shaking back and forth right now are connected.

This also means that you are important. It means that, if you start to feel very small when your news reader of choice reminds you that you are one of an unimaginably large amount of living beings and you start to feel like a mere grain of sand on the beach, you can remind yourself that you are the entirety of the coastline, the ocean, the continents, and the sky above.

This mantra can be easily integrated into your asana practice through you breath. As you inhale think “so” (I am) and as you exhale think “hum” (the universe). Try it out next time you are on your mat, on a walk, or sitting on your meditation cushion.

A lot is happening right now. A lot is about to happen. A lot has happened. You’re doing a great job, and you are important.

Namaste Awesome!

Ryan