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Mindful Monday: Zanshin

Aloha and good morning, my yogi friends! I’m writing this blog from our 50th state, Hawaii, and I’m overflowing with gratitude for simply being alive in this moment. And while it’s still pretty early morning here, I should really be wishing you a good afternoon! Here is my early morning view as I write this blog.

We are on the fourth week of a series about four Zen states of mind. It’s important to note that there are many other Zen mind training techniques and mental states than the four I’ve focused on these past weeks. I’ve chosen to highlight these particular states, because we can begin to apply them to our yoga practice and daily lives. This is in no way an exhaustive list!

Read more about the first three Zen states here:

Shoshin

Fudoshin

Mushin

Now, let’s move to our final state of mind called Zanshin.

Zanshin literally translates to “remaining mind” or the “mind with no remainder.”

Zanshin is a general and constant state of relaxed awareness or perceptiveness. This state means that although you’re not actively watching out for things, you are constantly aware of your surroundings and situation. Think of a public safety officer or a first responder: they are always sizing up situations even when off duty. Constant situational awareness.

The concept of Zanshin is that one should be fully present in whatever action is at hand. When eating, eat. The mind is fully engaged in the action of eating. When practicing yoga, practice yoga. When standing, stand. When writing, write. It is being in the here and now, totally immersed in the task at hand, and there is no “remaining mind” to think.

And to take it one step further, every action and every thought in the here and now must be right and harmonious. Every routine, mundane action is important and should be done with Zanshin.

A beautiful example of Zanshin:

Roy Suenaka, the author of Complete Aikido, tells a story about aikido’s founder that is the epitome of this concept. They were seated on the floor face to face having tea and talking when Morihei Ueshiba, without turning his head, casually reached behind himself and then held something out for Suenaka to see. “Ah, a young cockroach,” he said, before gently putting it to the side. Only later did the significance hit Suenaka. How was Ueshiba so aware that even when focused on their conversation could he not only sense the presence of something so small but be able to know exactly were it was so that he was able to pick it up without looking?

There is a samurai saying that roughly translates to: “When the battle is won, tighten your chinstrap.” This means that zanshin should always be practiced, even after a big success or goal has been met. Never rest on your laurels. Be prepared at any moment for another attack (if you’re a samurai). But also that the battle is never over until you stop striving.

If you’ve been working for years on a particular yoga pose, you don’t stop practicing once you achieve it! If you reach your PR in weight lifting or any other competitive sport or arena, it’s not the time to relax and start slacking.

There is a second component to zanshin that can be summarized with this beautiful thought: Everything is aiming.

There is a story of a master archer who consistently hits bullseye after bullseye, even splitting his own arrows in the middle of the bullseye, blindfolded and in complete darkness.

This is attributed to the process being of utmost importance, not the goal! Each and every small detail is preparation for the ultimate goal. But the paradox is that the ultimate goal is not the focus; each and every boring, mundane, repetitive task that is performed thousands of times is where focus lies. Once one has performed every minute detail ad nauseam, the goal is inevitable and can be reached without the luxury of seeing the target.

Have a great week, yogis! As always I love to hear your comments and feedback. And of course if there any topics you’d like covered in our weekly blog please let us know!

Yoga by Degrees Yoga Sculpt Teacher Training – Information

Yoga by Degrees Yoga Sculpt Teacher Training – Information

Training Led By 200 hour RYT and Sculpt Certified Instructors: Teresa Rizzo, Hillary Prager, and Andrea Brockert

Free Information Session: Sunday, January 13th, 11:30am in Downers Grove. Ask questions, get answers, learn more about the program, meet the facilitators and alumni. Advance sign up suggested but not mandatory. Sign up here!

2019 Winter Teacher Training Schedule:

  • Sundays 10 AM-6PM in Downers Grove: 1/27, 2/3, 2/10, 2/17, 2/24, 3/3
  • Wednesdays 6-9 PM in Western Springs: 1/30, 2/6, 2/13, 2/20, 2/27, 3/6
  • Community class (Time / Location T.B.D.)

Certificate Requirements

  • Attend all 12 Class Lectures (successfully makeup any missed sessions)
  • Attend 8 YBD Sculpt Classes
  • Attend 2 YBD Sculpt Fusion Classes
  • Attend 2 YBD1 Classes
  • Attend 2 YBD2 Classes
  • Observe 5 YBD Sculpt/Fusion Classes
  • Complete 4 Homework Assignments
  • Successfully complete Practicum (Final) Exam
  • Teach 1 Group Community Class (scheduled by Sculpt TT Leads)

Optional:

  • Karma Yoga
  • Group Fitness Class with weights and music

Pricing

  • $1199 (includes 1 month of free yoga)
  • $1100 early bird and YBD Teacher Training Alumni (includes 1 month of free yoga) deadline 12/15/18
  • $999 for Members (Annual and Monthly Platinum Memberships)

*Yoga by Degrees wants to offer you any help we can in being a part of our teacher training programs. We will work with your individual financial situation to help give you the opportunity to be a part of the program.

Questions? Contact Teresa@yogabydegrees.net

Mindful Monday: Mushin

Good morning, mindful ones!!!

We’re on week 3 of the Four Zen States of Mind! Week 1 was Shoshin and week 2 was Fudoshin.

Today let’s explore the concept of Mushin, which means “Without Mind.” It is very similar in practice to the Chinese Taoist principle of Wu-wei.

Mushin or Wu-wei refers to a state of total ease, in which you become completely lost in what you’re doing, feel no sense of exerting effort, and yet everything works out perfectly. You’ve probably experienced this feeling at some point on your yoga mat!

In this state of mind, you move with ease and maximum effectiveness and emerge from your experience feeling relaxed and satisfied. Sound familiar, yogi?

One of my very favorite Bruce Lee quotes epitomizes this lovely concept of Mushin or Wu-wei.

Basically, when we practice the Zen concept of mushin, we are cultivating an awareness that nothing has value until we place value upon it.

The Zen master who cultivates mushin will have a mind that is open to all possibility – not a mind that is stuck on objects and situations as they have previously experienced them, thereby limiting their real-time experience. A mind that is not fixed on specific thought patterns or emotions is more in touch with the “emptiness” from which all arises.

The “empty mind” isn’t one of an idiot. It is the mind of a master. It is unbiased, free, and completely adaptable. Like water.

Like the moon’s reflection in a perfectly still lake, we perceive reality as if it is “real,” but that moon, as realistic as it looks, it only a reflection. It is easily distorted by a small pebble being thrown into the lake, or a slight breeze rippling its surface.

When you practice mushin, you are practicing mind without mind – you are the clear surface. There are fewer distortions. When you eliminate mental chatter, worries, anxieties, and concerns about the future, the lake’s surface becomes smooth like ice. You can see everything around you more clearly.

The practice of mushin allows you to observe the world from a less distorted perspective.

How do you cultivate it? By getting still, and constantly reminding yourself that all that arises is phenomena reflecting like a pebble on the surface of a lake.

Have a great week, yogis!

Yoga By Degrees Yoga Alliance 200 Hour Teacher Training

There is always a million reasons not to start but you will never regret the decision to take the first step. There is still time if you are thinking about joining us. 

2018 Fall / Winter Teacher Training Info. & Schedule:

  • Tuesdays 6-9:30 PM in Elmhurst: 9/4, 9/11, 9/18, 9/25, 10/2, 10/9, 10/16, 10/23, 10/30, 11/6, 11/13, 11/20, 11/27, 12/4, 12/11, 12/18
  • Saturday 11:30 AM – 6 PM in Downers Grove (Anatomy): 10/20
  • Sundays 10 AM-6PM in Downers Grove: 9/16, 9/23 9/30, 10/14, 10/21 11:30 AM – 6 PM (Anatomy) 10/28, 11/4, 11/11, 11/18, 12/2, 12/16
  • Community classes on two of the following dates (Times / Locations T.B.D.): 1/12, 1/13, 1/19, 1/20 (& Satsang on 1/20)

Curriculum Includes:

  • Opening Meditation
  • Pranayama – Breathing
  • Asanas – Poses
  • Teaching Skills
  • Sequencing
  • Teaching In Small Groups
  • Yoga For Special Groups
  • Yoga Philosophy
  • Koshas – Sheaths
  • Gunas – Qualities of Nature
  • Chakras – Energy Centers
  • Ayurvedic Healing Techniques
  • Anatomy
  • Yoga Ethics Business of Yoga
  • Practical Test
  • Written Test

Requirements

  • 5 Classes of Observing a YBD Teacher
  • 10 Hours Elective Off Site Yoga Workshops
  • 20 YBD Yoga Classes
  • 10 Hours of YBD Workshops
  • 12 Hour Anatomy Workshop
  • Teach Two Community Classes
  • CPR Training
  • Monthly Homework Assignments Written Thesis

Required Reading:

  • YBD Yoga Teacher Training Manual
  • T.K.V. Desikachar – “Heart of Yoga- Developing A Personal Practice”
  • “The Key Muscles of Yoga” – Ray Long
  • “Inside The Yoga Sutras: A Comprehensive Source Book For The Study & Practice of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras” – Jaganath Carrera
  • “Light On Yoga” – B.K.S. Iyengar

Pricing, Plans, and Discounts

Course Fees

  • $250 Deposit to reserve space (applied towards tuition). Class Size Limited To 20.
  • Tuition – $3000 – Due at least three weeks prior to training start date (Includes Anatomy Training)

Additional Costs

  • 3 YBD Workshops – $30 each, totaling $90 ($20 each for Platinum Members)
  • Offsite Yoga Workshops – Appoximately $350
  • Book Costs – Approximately $100

Payment Plans

Based on your individual situation, we can arrange a monthly or bi-weekly auto-payment plan. First payment due at least three weeks prior to training start date and last payment due at least three weeks prior to training end date.

Discounts

  • Platinum Members Receive A $250 Discount On Tuition. (i.e. Platinum Member Tuition Rate is $2750)
  • Optional $59.50 Platinum Monthly Membership for 5 months during training (Reg. $119)
  • Specialty Discount Drop In Rate: $22 per class
  • 10 Class Packs: $160

Cancellations

In the event of cancellation, we will refund the total amount paid, minus the following cancellation fees:

  • Before Classes Begin – $150
  • After 1 Week – $250
  • After 2 Weeks – $500
  • After 3 Weeks – $750
  • No Refunds After 3 Weeks From Start Date

Question about pricing or the program? View frequently asked questions

Space is limited to 20 Students; Stop by any Yoga by Degrees location or call for more info.

Contact

Email

Meghan@yogabydegrees.net

Mindful Monday: Fudoshin

Good morning and happy Monday!

Last week, we covered the first state of mind in Zen Buddhism known as Sho Shin or Beginner’s Mind. You can read more here.

Today, we move on to the second state of mind in Zen Buddhism, Fudoshin which means “Immovable Mind.

Fudoshin represents a peaceful state of total determination and unshakable will. It is the state of a spirit that is determined to win, and that is filled with courage, endurance and determination to surmount every obstacle that comes in its way. Fudoshin is associated with a feeling of invincibility, of a mind that cannot be disturbed by confusion, hesitation, doubt, or fear.

It is when your mind is in a total state of equanimity, characterized by mental calmness, composure, and evenness of temper, especially in a difficult situation.

Fudoshin is most commonly associated with martial arts, particularly the samurai warriors in feudal Japan. These warriors displayed a steadfast determination and absolute control over themselves. It should be noted that this doesn’t mean one in a state of fudoshin is being stubborn or angry. Rather a person in fudoshin is calmly resolute and cannot be swayed, tempted or concerned.

We channel fudoshin when we are holding our more challenging yoga poses. Visualize your strength, balance, determination and focus when you’re holding a Warrior III pose or an inversion! Total concentration, muscular engagement and a calm and peaceful countenance. No thoughts, just your breath and bodily sensations evoking a powerful sense of peace and stability within yourself.

In modern Zen practice, Fudoshin is the protection against the “Shikai” or four sicknesses of the mind: anger, doubt, fear and surprise. Through the disciplined practice of meditation, we learn implicitly to center ourselves and clear our minds, thus developing a Fudoshin mind.

There are so many opportunities each day to implement Fudoshin in our lives! Hopefully you won’t be facing a life or death situation, but one can never know what life is sending our way!

In this era of random acts of violence, road rage, bad behavior and other losses of self-control, development of fudoshin can contribute to a peaceful, more compassionate world.

Fudoshin means “unmoving mind/heart”or “immovable mind,” and connotes the imperturbability as well as courage of the truly mastered self. It is the mind/heart from which have been purged all impurities and weaknesses in the resolute process of forging artistic and self-mastery.

Have a great week, friends! Remember that fudoshin is just a few, slow deep breaths away.

Mindful Monday: Sho Shin

Happy Monday, mindful ones!

Sho Shin is a concept in Zen Buddhism that means ‘a beginner’s mind.’ There are four states of mind in Zen Buddhism. This week, we’ll discuss the first state.

Sho Shin is characterized by an attitude of openness, eagerness, and a complete lack of preconceptions when studying a subject or beginning an endeavor.

Think about when you took your first yoga class. Or first 100 for that matter! You were excited and so eager to learn everything about this ancient practice! Your mind was like a sponge, simply and enthusiastically absorbing every thing you could about yoga.

When you are in a state of shoshin you are feeling enthusiastic, creative and above all optimistic.

It’s easy to be fired up about new, exciting endeavors. The practice is to remain open-minded and optimistic when you’ve practiced for many, many years and are considered an ‘expert.’

One of the key aspects of shoshin is an absence of preconceptions and a general sense of optimism. When you are in a state of shoshin you shouldn’t be thinking too much about what you think is going to happen, you should just be eager to accept whatever comes and assured it will all be for the best.

This release of preconceptions and attitude of viewing everything with fresh eyes is one of shoshin’s most valuable qualities. You can work on placing yourself in a state of shoshin even when doing something you’ve done before to keep each experience fresh and to ensure that you aren’t making poor decisions based on preconceived biases. It also helps train you to keep a positive and eager outlook about everything that might come your way.

For this reason, I always try to keep my teaching as well as my personal practice fresh with new and different sequencing and transitions. In order to do this, I MUST continue to practice with new and different teachers. I must continue to expand my knowledge base and work tirelessly to cultivate a state of shoshin. I often see experienced students turn on auto-pilot in class and assume they know where we are going next.

The danger of an ‘expert’s mind’ is that few possibilities exist in this mind. Less aspects of a situation are questioned and more are assumed. This often results in a narrowed perception and performing tasks on autopilot without room for a fresh, new perspective. Things are always done a certain way with no opportunities for improvement.

So how do we cultivate shoshin in our everyday lives and on our mats?

Just like all programs of thoughts in our minds, new thought patterns can be cultivated. Meditating and practicing gratitude are scientifically measurable ways to literally create new gray matter. Cultivating a beginner’s mind is exactly the same.

  • Try to approach situations without assumptions or expectations.
  • Don’t judge as good or bad. Be open to any outcome.
  • Be curious! Question with interest and wonder!
  • Switch things up. Drive a different route. Practice at a different time. Move your mat to a different place in the room.
  • Empty your mind!
  • Have a great week, friends!
  • Mindful Eating Workshop this Friday!

    Join Nikki and Alisa at our Elmhurst studioAugust 17 6:30p – 8:30p , as they guide you through an evening of mindfulness. Learn the tools needed to help you cultivate a healthier relationship with food and your body. The first half of the workshop led by Nikki, Registered Dietitian, is designed to teach you the fundamentals of Mindful Eating, a non-diet approach to health and wellness that helps you tune into your body signals, break the cycle of chronic dieting and heal your relationship with food. The second half of the workshop will help you bring awareness and kindness to your body as Alisa guides you through an amazing “mindful” vinyasa flow practice. All levels welcome!

     

    Sign up today in studio or by calling: Elmhurst 630.782.9642 // Downers Grove 630.969.0820

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    August 2018 Pose of the Month: Ardha Chandrasana

    Our August 2018 pose of the month is Ardha Chandrasana or Half Moon pose.

    This is a beautiful balancing pose that taps into our lunar energies and recreates the sensation of the moon suspended lightly and spectacularly in the sky.

    To Begin:

    Start from standing at the top of your mat. Bring your right foot all the way back so you’re at a Low Lunge with your left leg, hands framing the left foot.

    1. From here, engage your core, bring your right hand to your right hip and lift up your right foot and straighten your right leg out behind you, balancing on the left leg with your left hand on the floor. Gaze is at the left hand.

    2. Make sure your left leg is strong by engaging your glutes and quads, lifting up at the kneecap, and anchoring the four corners of your left foot, rooting into the earth for support.

    3. Now, rotate your right hip back, stacking it on top of your left hip. So instead of your hips being parallel to the earth, we want it to be parallel to the right side wall of the room.

    4. Next, energetically extend your right hand towards the sky, palm facing the right side of the room. Lift the shoulders out of your ears by gluing your shoulders blades onto your back. Maybe imagine you’re holding onto a pencil in between your shoulder blades.

    5. Stay with it for 5 slow, deep breaths.

    6. Slowly come out of it the same way you came in. Repeat the steps for the other side.

    For a variation, try to bring your bottom hand to your heart and float easily on your standing leg. You can also perform this a center against the wall to practice leaning back and opening your heart towards the sky.

    Mindful Monday: Back to School – Another Lesson in Letting Go

    Happy Monday, friends!

    I’m incredulous that the 2018/2019 school year starts this Wednesday! I mean it’s not even the middle of August yet!

    Such is the nature of life! In constant flux and movement. Which is why it’s so important to practice being present for each and every moment of life. The days can seem so long, but the years fly by on wings. I so clearly remember my son’s first day of pre-school. This week, he begins his senior year!

    Change is inevitable. We can’t control it. We can’t fast forward or rewind. Our only sane, viable option is to embrace every single precious second as it unfolds, exactly as it is. As it is. Not how it should be. Or could be. But as it is.

    Therein lies our greatest challenge and truest pathway to happiness.

    To embrace life in all of its glory and misery, pleasure and pain, love and fear, belief and doubt, failure and success. All of it!

    Sure, I could play the game of beating myself up for every mistake I made in raising my son. Or fast forward and suffer in anticipation of next year when he leaves for college. I’m really, really good at both!

    But I see that these patterns of thinking create suffering for myself. And I remember that I really have no reason to suffer. And I definitely don’t enjoy it anymore.

    And I remind myself that I’ve been in training for the past 17 years in the beautiful and brutal art of letting go. From the day he was born, I had to let go of having him all to myself within my body.

    When I stopped breast feeding, I had to let go of being his main source of nourishment.

    When I went back to work.

    When he moved from his crib to his big boy toddler bed then later his loft/bunk bed.

    Watching that tiny little boy walk into first grade all on his own, getting swallowed up into the crowd of much bigger kids.

    His first sleepover at a friend’s house.

    First time he closed off from me and didn’t need me to fix it.

    Graduating from elementary school and starting middle school.

    First day of high school.

    First time he drove my car (I’m still traumatized by that one).

    And now … senior year begins.

    And I remind myself, this is all part of the training. And how it’s helped me so much in life.

    It’s strengthened and conditioned me. Learning to release and let go of so many things. Learning to let go even when I’m not ready, because it’s time.

    So I have one more year to train for the inevitable. And I remind myself that if I’ve done my job well as a parent, he will fly away with confidence and have all the tools he needs for success.

    Sigh. Good luck to all of you parents out there! We got this!

    Mindful Monday: Morning Mantra

    Good morning, mindful ones!

    Take a slow deep breath, and exhale completely. Do that two more times.

    As you prepare for your day, remind yourself that you are the creator of your life today.

    Acknowledge that many things will happen that are outside of your control. But it is always your choice how you react.

    Everything that happens today is designed for your growth.

    Commit to walk today’s path in gratitude and love.

    You are here to learn and grow.

    Be gentle and loving with yourself and all those you encounter today.

    You are worthy of respect and kindness.

    Show up for yourself today and honor the opportunity you have been given to be alive.

    Choose to be happy today. No matter what happens, choose happiness today.

    Find new things to appreciate in your life today.

    Be a light of joy and love. Radiate peace and calmness.

    Today will be an extraordinary day.