If you just chose this blog because of the title, take a moment to reflect upon that which you were hoping to get from reading it. Begin with these two words: “Yoga” and “Brand.” These two words inherently do not fit together. A brand is something that had been manufactured. Yoga is a practice that was discovered thousands of years ago. A brand is owned, distributed and sold. Yoga is none of these. It is everywhere, to be lived by anyone, for free. Yoga is not a product.
[The first space in which Raja Hatha Yoga was practiced in Lake Tahoe.]
Location, Location, Location
A brand is all about looking good. The right location, models, lighting, attitude, motto, all matters. You have to consider the demographic and customer you are trying to reach. You have to sell.
This is not Yoga. No matter how hard I try to sell you on trying for the first time, second, going somewhere new, attempting a different approach, or convincing you that it will change your life, you have to be ready to become a Yoga practitioner.
No matter how pretty or new or shiny the studio space. No matter how sexy, strong or flexible those joining the class may be, you have to be ready to change yourself. Yoga is not about location. It is about mindset.
No matter how good you are at posing you will still need practice in order to discover Yoga. Sure, you may look good in your Lululemon pants and your Athleta top while you are handstand floating to the front of your mat. Regardless of your ability to access Virabhadrasana Eka or Ashtavrakasana we all have to keep practicing to work within.
Yoga is not a show. It is a practice of mindful movement, breath, and ultimately letting go of expectations. When you practice it may be with a large group, small group or individually. The space in which you practice, style that you choose and those with whom you join in are not what matter. It is your attitude that makes the difference.
Are you here to be seen or to See?
Who are You Following?
A brand sells because you desire to be like that which you see. Fit, strong, relaxed, affluent, happy, whatever it is you desire, the company selling is doing everything they can to convince you that their product will change you. We all know that it won't. No piece of clothing, yoga mat, block, strap, or new tool is going to make you a better person. Only you can do that.
Before beginning, trying again, or returning to the practice consider what you are seeking in a teacher. Seek out a guide who is knowledgeable beyond Asana and who understands and practices the philosophies of Yoga. Find someone who is authentically themselves all of the time. Your teacher should be real, dedicated, truthful, vibrant and fearless to be themselves no matter what. For this will encourage you to do the same.
If you are considering beginning, trying again, or returning to the practice and would like advice, guidance or assistance please reach out to Jenay. Whether choosing Lake Tahoe Yoga or another location in which to practice she is happy to provide support to anyone interested in practicing Yoga.
The word Yoga comes from the sanskrit root word, "Yuj," which means to yoke or unite. No matter the style which you choose, while practicing and afterward, you should feel a sense of self-connection as well as a connection with those whom you practice. No union = no Yoga.
There are two approaches to the practice of Yoga: Hatha and Raja. At Lake Tahoe Yoga we practice both, simultaneously. The effort, or movement, is Hatha. The mindful aspect is Raja. An authentic Yoga practice with offer both physical and mindful practices. Each movement should require focus and attention while at the same time an experience of release of distractions. As the practice continues, you should feel a sense of freedom and one-pointed focus.
Breathing is one of the most important aspects of Hatha. In a traditional practice, you will learn the postures first, and then the breath that directs each posture. Each breath is important as it helps to move not only your body, but your energy as well. Poorly directed breath can result in physical issues, mental strain and energetic blockages. Your breath should be effortful, but not forceful. If you are ever breathing with more effort than you are applying physically, you are breathing too hard.
Alignment is everything. Any teacher that tells you to "listen to your body," or "move freely in any way that feels good," is doing you a disservice. We each have our own anatomical alignment, but that doesn't mean we are all aligned properly. We have spent years moving in unhealthy, habitual ways. Yoga Asana is designed to help us adjust our bodies into the best position and to move more healthily. While moving, your attention should move to misalignments and a good teacher will help you identify ways in which to correct them.
Finally, energetic awareness is the key to a good class and high quality instruction. Your instructor should be able to hold your focus no matter where you are practicing. Shaktipat is the exchange of energy between yourself and your guide during your practice. If your instructor is distracted, unfocused, continuously talking, giving inclear instructions, etc., there is no shaktipat. Throughout the entire practice you should feel as though you can completely let go and just follow the guidance of your teacher.
Jenay, E-RYT, Director
Jenay, a 500 hour Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher, directs and teaches at Lake Tahoe Yoga Studio.
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