Comparison is the Thief of Joy

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Comparison is the Thief of Joy

By Joy Rhyne

On a recent 3 day adventure to Arkansas. I went flying head first, over my handlebars. Jarring my neck and crashing down hard on my entire left side of my body. I was immediately grateful for the helmet on my head and my next thought was, “Oh shit! I missed that turn BIG time and “OUCH, I’m hurting!” I did a quick body scan and it registered that nothing was broken. Cut, scratched and bruised but not broken. Advil, arnica, ice and epsom salt bath on repeat. Plus, multiple chiropractor appointments later and I was back on my mat. I was sore. At first, I celebrated the poses I could still do but then it was like my head/thoughts crash landing again. Every pose hurt or if it didn’t I had lost range of motion. I was stuck in comparing how the poses and my practice felt before my Evil Knieval epic fail/fall and it continued. I was stuck in the muck of comparison.

Five days later, practicing on my mat again an ‘Ah-Ha’ moment washed out of my sweaty vinyasa. My thoughts were something like this, just “Be”, Joy. Stop comparing every pose to the past. Be here now. Breath. Reset. Stop Comparing again. Breath. All is coming. Breath and move and practice from a place of what really matters to you. And oh yeah, what is that quote? The one about comparison... “Comparison is the thief of Joy” Shit! Shit! Shit! I speak those words to my students. BOOM! Smashed again but this time, my heart got rammed. Release comparison. Put it down. Let your body heal. And then a lightening bolt of truth splashed down on me for the third unraveling of this accident. While you’re dropping comparison of your poses, why not stop comparing NJ and KS. Oooh that stung. The impact jolted me. Drop all comparison, it is not serving you. And I started to repeat the pillars and let the healing begin. Put your drishti on your breath and the core of what really matters to you. What lights you up? What fuels your fire? My answers: family, teaching yoga and nature. Live and flow from that place no matter what state you are in, literally and physically. Drop comparison and replace it with connection to your passion. Ride connection, take that for a spin. Hike from that place and heal.

Happy Trails!

Namaste, Joy

Special thanks @anjalipower yoga for my foundation and @coreenergyyoga for their open arms and space to be my messy self. 

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Out of My Head and Into My Body

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Out of My Head and Into My Body

By Nate Hulfish

The first time I ever took a yoga class, it was at Anjali. It was February of 2011. I knew absolutely nothing. I did know that I was at a point in time when I really needed to get out of my head and into my body, so I decided to give yoga a try.

Heather Whelehan was the teacher that morning. I felt nervous and self-conscious and very foolish. Child’s pose I could do, no problem… but downward facing dog?… that was a different story. I immediately retreated back into my head, and just as I thought, “This is stupid, I’ll never be able to do this,” Heather put her hands on top of mine and pushed them firmly into the ground. The physical connection snapped me out of my head and way into my body. She said, “Push into your hands, move your chest toward your thighs.” Suddenly, I was actually in downward facing dog. She whispered, “You got it, you’re good,” and she moved along. She gave me the assist. She saw me, spoke to me, offered me encouragement, and grounded me in more ways than she knew. My first three classes were with Heather, and each time, she gave me an assist that deepened my practice. Physical connection got me out of my head and into my body. It’s what I needed, and why I came back.

During mentoring with Lisa Duffy, she let me in on a secret (it may have been the very thing Heather was doing when she assisted me). Lisa said, “Get your hands on someone right at the beginning of class. It will get you out of your head and bring you into your body.” When I had my Magic Carpet – an experience that Lisa sprung on me five minutes before class – my only thought as I called child’s pose was, “Go put your hands on someone, right now.” Heather was in the room, so I picked her. I gave her the assist this time, and it did exactly what Lisa said it would… it brought me out of my head and into my body, and the rest of the practice flowed from there.

Assisting is about both the student and the teacher. It’s an opportunity to be of service to a student: to see them, speak to them, offer them encouragement, and deepen their practice. That’s what Heather did for me. It’s also an opportunity to be physically aware of yourself as a teacher: to pay attention, to physically connect, to be present, and to mean the words you say. That’s what Lisa’s advice was all about.

Early on in my practice, I can remember eagerly hoping that the teacher would give me an assist (OK, I’ll admit it… I still long for that). Every time I receive an assist, I learn something and something changes in my body and being. As a teacher, I want to expand my ability to assist because every assist I give is an opportunity to help a student move out of their head, deeper into their body, and deeper into their practice.

The Art of Assisting is an opportunity to learn how to better be of service to my students, and it’s opportunity to learn how to be more physically aware of my own self as a teacher. The two go hand in hand and deepen each other. I would like go deeper, and participating in the Art of Assisting would be like receiving a great assist on my mat – I’ll learn more about myself, and things will change in my body and being.

 

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  “Second Star to the Right and Straight on Til Morning”

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“Second Star to the Right and Straight on Til Morning”

By Tina Colella

Robin Williams in the modern day remake of the Disney Classic “Peter Pan” forgot who he was. He grew up, had more and more responsibilities, more and more people telling him what to say, what to do and how to be until he no longer remembered who he was. Sound familiar?  Many of us get jobs, then possibly marry, develop new friendships, perhaps have children. And we live our days putting one foot in front of the other donning the mask we need to wear depending on who is in front of us at any given moment. Until,  one day, we look in the mirror and do not recognize the face staring back. Or worse…we remember and we have no clue how to get back to who we are. Our truest self. What brought us joy? What were we doing when we were most comfortable with ourselves? Why did we learn to hide those parts away from ourselves? From the world? How do we strip away years of layers to uncover our own skin? 

Beginning at a young age, There have been many times throughout my life I have been thrown into darkness.I would rise until the next time and then something would bring me crashing down again. 

And so life went on this way. 

Except each time I fell, I hit a little harder.  

And the pain was intense. 

But I had children and responsibilities so I didn’t have time to dwell on the pain and the loss. And I had to adjust. I adjusted by putting up walls, numbing myself through almost every imaginable way, and trying to be someone I was not. Life tried to veer me onto a different path than the one I eventually forgot I was supposed to be on. I honestly came to the point where I asked myself “Who are you and what the hell are you doing here?”. 

After yet another severe bout of depression and another series of loss I found yoga. I loved how it made me in tune with my body like I had never been before. And how it gave me the opportunity to breathe. As the mom of a teenage son, middle school age daughter and rambunctious twin toddlers, breathing wasn’t something I made time for. True, real, deep breaths. Yoga provided the space for me to breathe. 

Years later I had trained my body to do all kinds of challenging poses…half moon, crow, headstand. I could breathe. But, I still knew there was more to uncover. I had only scratched the surface. I had only removed the first layer or two. I still didn’t feel comfortable with who I was and how I was showing up in the world. Something inside of me was screaming to get out before it was too late. 

I wish I could tell you I had some miraculous epiphany of a moment where I suddenly realized I needed to go to Yoga Teacher Training. But, that moment doesn’t exist. All I know is I had a strong sense that I was floating away and if I didn’t do something to anchor myself I would be lost. Baron Baptiste and his method of yoga have always spoken to me. So it seemed natural to take a Yoga Teacher Training in Baptiste Yoga. I didn’t sign up with the intent to teach. Yoga teachers make little money and at the time I was making very good money after being a nurse for over 20 years. I took the training to help me rediscover who I was. I wanted to remove more layers. I had heard Teacher Training was “life changing”. I wanted my life changed.  So, I signed up for the 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training at Anjali Power Yoga. 

Peter Pan didn’t believe in himself initially. It took Tinkerbell, Tiger Lily, and the Lost Boys to help him find himself and believe again. For me, part of my tribe is my fellow Teachers in Training. Throughout the training we shared pieces of ourselves we would rather just hide and in return received nothing but love and acceptance. They have all taught me something about life. Even the quietest ones who sat back and mostly just listened. Our teachers helped us to open up, get real with what we wanted and gave us tools for showing up fully in life. And slowly the layers began to peel away and my true passion and purpose was revealed. I realized I am meant to help bring not only the physical gift of yoga to as many people as I can, but also to share with them all of the tools of yoga and help them realize they are never alone. You just need to show up and do the work. And everyone is perfectly imperfect. You…me…all of us. And that’s ok. 

I wish I had found yoga at an earlier age. It may never have changed the course of my life but may have helped me to deal with it all with more grace and love. Not just for those around me but for myself as well. I want to bring the gift of yoga to children and adults to help them navigate the inevitable challenges that we face throughout our lives. This is definitely still a journey for me. But, Yoga Teacher Training has helped me to navigate back onto MY true path. It has helped me to be clear and purposeful on the road to where I belong. 

“Second star to the right and straight on til morning."

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Why so serious?!

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Why so serious?!

By Lauren Klaus

Anjali Power Yoga had the opportunity to welcome two amazing people visiting from Africa Yoga Projects (AYP) Handstands, Hugs and Happiness Tour, David and Mary. I had the pleasure of spending time with them on and off my mat and boy did I learn a lot. Their energy was off the charts and their love was radiant. They embraced everyone they met with a warm hug and so much gratitude. 

As we were talking and getting to know one another I asked what is the biggest difference you see between here and home and you know what they both said, “you are all so serious”. I laughed so hard knowing how true that was. I recently completed my 200 hour teacher training program at Anjali and have been fighting to be more mindful and not take myself and my practice so seriously. 

When David and Mary responded with that, I immediately thought of the kids I watch and teach, how they breeze through their lives fearless and willing to do everything. Why can’t we be more like that? They find joy in the smallest things. We have been told throughout our lives from people, and media, that we must have, look, and be better then those around us. The pressure we put on ourselves can at times consume us. We have the choice to give in to expectations or let them be. 

When we choose to let them be, we live authentically. When I choose not to worry about the pictures taken of me during the AYP visit and whether or not my dancer’s pose was “right,” I am choosing to live authentically. I am choosing to let it be. I’m not taking life so seriously. We only get one shot at this. There is no point in wasting energy trying to have, look, or be better than others. I would rather spend my energy on something positive; helping others, teaching yoga and teaching children. 

We are all in this together. I invite you all to let it be. Drop expectation. Don’t take life too seriously. 

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Life. It’s a funny thing.

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Life. It’s a funny thing.

By Taylor Ciallella

As I sit on a plane coming back from LA, I begin to read a blog I started writing in 2011. It was called “when is the best time to reach for your dreams?" It was about this exact time, 5 years ago. Funny how things change, but absolutely hilarious how things don’t. 

Through my yoga journey I have heard over and over and over again how important it is to journal. If you write it out, it’s real. You felt it, and it is in writing- you don’t take that back, you can’t. I never understood the benefit of it because I didn’t do it. I never journaled… even when I said I did, I didn’t. Even when people told me it was going to help me find my way, figure out why I was stuck, or sad. I never did. 

Now that I am reading this, I don’t think I'll ever stop!

I am literally laughing out loud here on the plane after a few cocktails ( bumpy first ride), looking back to see how I am in a similar place to where I was 5 years ago, with so much more knowledge, and so much more experience. My first blog entry back then was “take the risk” I talk about how I want more-  I was single at the time and wanted to do something daring and different. I wanted to move away, I wanted people to be inspired by my risk taking, and I wanted to share it with the world.

Here I am. 5 years later. single. motivated. powerful, successful, and filled with self love- wanting those same things I did when I was 23 years old. This is me. I want more; the risk-taker has never left me. The difference now is I am turning “should” into “must”. It was all talk before, but I don’t have enough time to not turn my dreams and wants into reality. I know what I want, so why not go for it? I got to a place where fear is not a good enough excuse. I took a  yoga class the other week and heard “you are a product of your own work”. YUP!, there it is. I am, I certainly am. I can only give myself what I want, no one else can. I am 28 years old and I can do anything. I have a choice, I have the courage.

This all came about a month ago. I sat with Cheryl (studio owner of Anjali) for lunch and we talked, and talked, and talked. Cheryl has known me my whole life. She also knew I had recently gone through loss, hardship, and a big change. She looked at me and said how are you Taylor, really how are you? I looked back at her with tears in my eyes. and said OK, I really am more than OK. I cried and looked at her and said “I feel like i can do anything”. And it was in that very moment when I realized that I really can. (and now cheryl doesn’t stop reminding me ;))

And since that day at lunch I have this ease over me. I am beaming, dreaming, smiling, wishing, and thinking about so so much. The opportunity is endless. 

The best thing about all of this is realizing that only I got to this space in my life because of the work that I put in, and it sure as hell was not easy. I credit so much of this to my yoga practice, and my yoga teaching practice. It was the work on my mat, and off my mat. It was the days that I didn’t want to teach a class because i didn’t feel powerful enough but showed up anyway, and it was the days when i just laid on my mat and cried. It was the days that I came into class and allowed myself to be so vulnerable. And it was the days that my students would give me a hug and say “thank you”. I let myself feel, and sometimes I didn’t, but then I did. It was never pretty, or perfect. It was messy. really messy, and it will continue to be, but i will always be mindful of allowing myself to feel, and putting in the work knowing that the end result, will be OK. or in my case today, more than ok.

As much as I credit yoga and the community (y’all know you who you are). I credit all those who love me unconditionally. I have the most incredible support system anyone could ask for. I am lucky to also say that the 5 closest people to me (mom, dad, 3 sisters) are not only my blood but also my yoga community. To be able to share our love of yoga with each other is so extremely powerful and has made our relationships closer than ever.

Thank you yoga, because of you- I can do anything! 

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Waking Up with the Blues

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Waking Up with the Blues

By Johnna Smith

Some mornings are just like that. I wake up and feel blue instead of flashy orange, passionate red, or connected white. Sometimes I wake up and just feel blah, blah, blah. Loved ones still saying the same ole thing, house and work aren’t exciting. No energy, no zest for life, and dang it I created this. And I’m scared my yoga isn’t working.

What am I to do, what’s going to happen to me? Woe is me. Questions come to my mind… I go to yoga class. I eat, somewhat, really healthy. Why isn’t yoga working? Where is the peace I’ve been promised by Instagram sunset quotes? Where is the divine in this very mundane existence? I’m miserable, in a “comfortably numb” kind of way. Then I really hear myself, the victim… and I’m like uh – oh and oh yea… time (it’s always time) for some waking up with Tantra.

What is Tantra Yoga

Tantra Yoga is an ancient practice that considers self reflection, self awareness, and practices that awaken your inner power, as the journey to reveal our limitless capacity. It’s the science of overcoming our own boundaries.

Tantra means to weave together the practices which through daily dedication expand us. Practices that allow us to be lit from the inside out. To close our eyes and be blinded by the light of the soul. This light has a pulse, a vibration termed Shakti. Shakti is the subtle creative pulse of the universe as it manifests into the dynamism of each and every living form. You are that living form. The creative force is inside you. It’s subtle. If you aren’t looking at it or for it, you might just miss its eternal presence.

Cultivate this energy right now. Sit up tall (really, sit up tall) and place one hand over your heart, place your other hand on top of that. Intend to connect to that pulse, by an invocation prayer, a calling out “Please, I feel so lost and alone, I cannot do this by myself. That creative force, which is in me, created me and all that is around me, I hold the space for you, I surrender. Please come to my aide. I wish to feel your presence, for I pretend to have all the answers but I do not. I am an open vessel for our light, our love, our creative union, reveal yourself to me.” As you say this prayer, or your similar words, close your eyes and get quiet. The subtle force (spanda) will be felt the more you open and surrender to this invocation prayer. When you feel it’s soft beat, rest in that bliss. Take a few moments to connect to that subtle whisper of limitless energy.

Shakti is accessible on our yoga mats. When in child’s pose, invoke awareness of your creative force, be present with her. (I use the pronoun she, you can use what is meaningful for you) When in the pose you like practicing the least, call for her. Ask for her to co-create with you. Take moment’s throughout your yoga practice to check in with this pulse in your heart. Ancient wisdom has taught: Ask and you shall receive. She will join you when asked. Sometimes all we need to do is give the space, be the invitation.

My tantra teacher, Rod Stryker, teaches that you may begin to feel this pulse in your heart, but then it expands. The nature of energy is to expand. This pulsing energy begins to expand inside of you, from your heart, you will begin to feel it in your belly, throat, and in your spine. The ancient yoga practitioners felt this force, in the spine, and used it as a point of meditation, sitting in bliss. Feeling the vibe man. Sit in your bliss, peace be with you.

Having caught my own “woe is me” thinking, I take a moment in my morning lament, to call my attention to the divine. Having done that, the fear surrounding “my life sucks, what am I to do” thinking has rolled on through. And, upon reflection, those thoughts & feelings I labeled as negative were divine as well. Together the divine and I stand up, make a cup of coffee. I am grateful, humbled. I am not alone. This life is precious, this loved one I live with is undoubtedly the saint of the household, and I can’t wait to rock this day.

Recap Meditation / Contemplation

Cultivating Shakti Awareness:

Cultivate this pulse right now. Sit up tall (really, sit up tall) and place one hand over your heart, place your other hand on top of that. Intend to connect to that pulse, by an invocation prayer, a calling out “Please, I feel so lost and alone, I cannot do this by myself. That creative force, which is in me, created me and all that is around me, I hold the space for you, I surrender. Please come to my aide. I wish to feel your presence, for I pretend to have all the answers but I do not. I am an open vessel for our light, our love, our creative union, reveal yourself to me.” As you say this prayer, or your similar words, close your eyes and get quiet. The subtle force (shakti) will be felt the more you open and surrender to this invocation prayer. When you feel it’s soft beat, rest in that bliss. Take a few moments to connect to that subtle whisper of limitless energy.

 

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Fearless Love: Don’t Wish for It, Work for It

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Fearless Love: Don’t Wish for It, Work for It

The month of February is the month of love, and as Valentine’s Day approaches, I reflect on the celebration of love in the Anjali Community. 

The practice of yoga changed my life, from a cycle of depression to being able to live in grace and let go of that which left me in a puddle of tears and a broken heart.  It wasn’t until finding a powerful teacher and practice in my most cherished place, the beach, that I began searching for a similar practice at home.   That journey led me to the practice of Baptiste Yoga. Heading to a Baptiste training with a dream, it was there, practicing next to Baron Baptiste for an entire weekend, where I found the courage to take action. I was inspired to make my dream of creating the first power yoga studio in the area where I lived into a reality.   

Two things pop out for me in my cherished journal from that amazing experience, “if you can, you must” written with a big X over the IF. This turned into “YOU can you MUST!”   

My journal was filled with names of the “dream studio,”  but when Baron said Anjali Mudra my own heart jumped! My broken heart, healed through the heat, flow, and breath, allowed me to focus and the foundation of the Anjali Community was built. The Anjali Mudra, heart center and the gesture of our hands to the heart, symbolizes the opening of our hearts. Opening our hearts allows us freedom to let go and let in all the beauty of the world into our lives. The rest of the story is work, hard work!   

I invite you to choose fearless love and open your heart and share the love that the Anjali yogis, teachers, and staff have created at Anjali since 2009. Spread your love out into the world, you never know what dreams might come true!

I commit to choose fearless love and open my heart to the abundance of life. I don’t just wish for it, I do the work.  

Om Shanti, Shanti, with love, Cheryl 

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To Letting Go and Being Seen, Mystical Marrakech

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To Letting Go and Being Seen, Mystical Marrakech

Written by Lucia Cucinotta

Allah Akbar, Allah Akbar, God is Great, God is Great. Breath in and breath out, jump out of bed. I tried to wake every morning with the first day’s call to prayer so I could watch the sunrise over the nearby village. Peacock Pavilions was the perfect choice for the Mystical Marrakech retreat. Set in an olive grove, it is idyllic, calm, and with a beautiful owner and staff that made my job easy. Morocco is a Muslim country, and with that comes the serene call to prayer that happens five times a day, reminding Muslims to fulfill one of the five pillars of Islam. So I used this particularly spiritual part of the morning to mediate over the plans of the day, and the mood of the group, so I could with all my effort make it work in this sometimes whirlwind city. Our itinerary could be described as intense, but Morocco can be a complicated place, and I wanted to make sure they saw it all. Inshallah (if God wills) it was all going to work out.

Upon arrival, Maryam, the owner of Peacock Pavilions, gave us an introduction to her home, her olive groves, and why she settled her family in this small village outside Marrakech. She discussed jinns (genies), protection from the evil eye, and how Marrakech is on a vortex and that we should be open to the possibilities this energy might bring up for us. To say that the Paris attacks was the elephant (or very large and very strange camel) in the room is an understatement. As we set off on our first day in the old medina (old city) I felt that in some way that was on everyone’s mind. We were Americans in a Muslim country, what could that mean? When we stepped off the bus I was quickly reminded why I love Marrakech and why I wanted to share it. The history, the smells, the noise, the colors, the intensity of life slowly dissolved any concerns. All ten participants dove right into the retreat with great grace and flexibility and everyone we met shared their traditions and love of Morocco and their religion with great warmth and hospitality. The most danger we faced were the mopeds speeding past us, stacked with families, fathers, mothers, and children on their way home.

We all saw sunrises, sunsets, beautiful tile work, beaches, dusty villages, handcrafted artisan work, and even Starbucks. We sat in a woman’s home and had tea and cookies as we tried to make sparkle baskets to her exact liking. We toured a Sufi religious school and ate so much couscous we were invited to nap and drink tea until we were ready to move on. We listened to one of the most gifted traditional storytellers in Morocco share a story in Moroccan Arabic, and while many of us did not understand a word he said we were able to feel the meaning, which could have been the vortex or simply the amazing skill of the storyteller. Some participants bought symbolically significant carpets and wedding blankets, some rode camels during a beach sunset, and some got very up close and very personal in the hammam (bath house). But we all got to see and I hope experience love for this beautiful and complex country of Morocco.

At the end of the retreat we bellydanced to a fire pit and threw in a piece of paper where we had written what we wanted to let go of and what we wanted to take away. Letting the smoke billow into the starry sky we released our intention out into the universe. This is when I decided to reveal the biggest and most important surprise, like the bellydancing wasn’t enough! This retreat was not an adventure, it was not something new, it was not meant to change the cycle of life. It was to help wake us up to see the truth. We had the great opportunity to see intense, up close and personal, real and everyday lives from the full spectrum of what exists. Marrakech may be on a vortex and have more mystical energies which allows us to see more clearly, but it is not some far off oriental land with a strange people and a dangerous religion. It is filled with people who want to be seen and who want to be loved. How you are here is how you are in your life and how you will continue to be. So live, breath, wake up, and inshallah (if God wills) no matter where you find yourself allow yourself to see and love the truth around you <3

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Why Anjali Teacher Leader Training: Katie Marie Powell

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Why Anjali Teacher Leader Training: Katie Marie Powell

Katie Marie is a certified yoga teacher, an Aquarius who LOVES savasana, laughing until her belly hurts with family and friends, and vacationing anywhere with sunshine. She is a 2015 graduate of Anjali Power Yoga’s Teacher Training program. 

 

Q: When did you start practicing yoga and why?

A: I started practicing yoga one year ago. I am always looking for something new and usually open to try almost anything when it comes to fitness. It was Yoga's turn! I wanted to try this because I had lost almost all flexibility. I was a gymnast for 11 years and my body made shapes I could not even get back if I tried and this was hard to grasp. I wanted to not only try something new but gain flexibility..in my body and my mind.  

 

Q: What is your favorite pose and why?

A: My favorite pose is savasana. It sounds funny at first but it's the truth! I think it is amazing that this is a necessity in every single class. It is something to always look forward to (although that's not being fully present). I like that you can push your limits and then get the well deserved 5 minute complete relaxation to conclude. It's a feeling of relief and accomplishment. 

 

Q: Why did you sign up for Anjali Power Yoga’s Teacher Training program and did you want to teach when you signed up?

A: Every New Years my resolution is to become a better person, or be a better me. I signed up for Anjali Teacher Training for that reason. It fit perfect with my winter schedule and felt so right. After signing up about two weeks before the first training weekend, I met with Cheryl to go over everything. Once we got to talking, she couldn't believe I had never even practiced at Anjali once! I trusted that this was the place to be... and it is. 

 

Q: What inspired you to become a yoga teacher? If you never planned to be a teacher, what during the training inspired you to be a teacher?

A: I was inspired to become a yoga teacher by someone (now a fellow co-worker) who taught with so much passion and good energy. I remember thinking during one of her packed classes "I want this. I want to make an impact on people's lives. I could do this." When I told her I was thinking about signing up for teacher training and explained I was a little nervous because of how inexperienced I was, she told me that even if that class was my very first yoga class I had ever taken, she would still tell me to do the training (which she did a few years back). That was all I needed to know. 

 

Q: What do you find rewarding about being a yoga teacher?

A: I find the connection to my students one of the most rewarding parts of being a yoga teacher. I love every "namaste" at the end of class because we are honoring ourselves and each other. I am happy for myself that I lead a group of people, but I am also happy for my students that they brought themselves and put in the work. My goal is to become the best yoga teacher I can be and make a positive impact on people's lives. 

 

Q: What advice would you give to people interested in the Anjali Power Yoga Teacher Training program?

A: Advice I would give to anyone with even the slightest interest in teacher training is DO IT! "Even if you've only practiced yoga once I would still tell you to go through with it." :) Yoga is for every body. Be an open book and learn all that you can about yourselves and each other. 

 

Q: What do you like about teaching at Anjali Power Yoga and the Anjali community?

A: Teaching at Anjali doesn't feel like a typical job. It is fun, inviting and warm (literally). In a lot of my classes I urge the students to smile, play around, try something new... and they do. The community is amazing and genuine. Seeing almost all of my friends from teacher training warms my heart and I always seem to have the best practices when they are teaching. Good vibes, man! 

 

Students can take Katie Marie’s classes every Monday and Wednesdays at 4pm in the Westmont Studio. Have you been thinking about signing up for Anjali’s Yoga Teacher Training? We are having a complimentary question and answer session on Tuesday, November 10 from 8:30-9:30pm. Come by and find out more and meet the Empowerment Team. Light refreshments will be served. 

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"And to stop these obstacles…we must use compassion" (Yoga Sutra)

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"And to stop these obstacles…we must use compassion" (Yoga Sutra)

Written by Elyse Venturella

 

A few years ago I approached an acquaintance that was starting an NGO in Uganda. The NGO focused on family preservation and the services being offered, such as childcare, income generating, and transitional housing would help keep children in families, not orphanages. The unique model intrigued me. After various conversations myself and the NGO’s staff agreed that I would come to Uganda to volunteer as a social work consultant during the pilot year. 

 

The year I purchased my plane ticket I was in a state of confusion, stress, and destruction. A relationship ended and I handled my reaction with substances, closed off behavior, and a regression into unhealthy eating and exercise habits. I would only come out of my damaging space to work, randomly visit friends, but always to attend yoga. I bought my plane ticket as an escape. 

 

Prior to Uganda I would come to my mat to blame, hurt, and push myself to unrealistic limits. My mat became a punching bag. The last month leading up to my trip was an awakening. There would be classes where I would cry without a warning, I would reach new heights in a standing posture, and I would leave feeling relief and forgiveness. 

 

The time had finally arrived. I entered Uganda with a burst of energy and eagerness. Within a week I crashed. I was upset, angry, and confused. I wanted to leave Uganda. 

 

The months flew by as families started to receive the NGO services, I attended various home visits, engaged in government meetings/workshops, visited various orphanages, and became a social work teammate. In the mist of these experiences I went to my yoga mat everyday. I punched the mat.  I let it the mat punch me back. I embraced the practice. And I let the practice embrace me. I realized how much of a fool I was acting before. 

 

I.33b-35 Yoga Sutra: Our minds feel bright and clear when we hear someone say that our real purpose in life is to help and serve others; and not with kinds of help that will themselves quickly be used up and disappear. We were all meant for more.

 

I wanted to share yoga with others. Uganda fulfilled my need to practice, share, and speak endlessly about yoga. I shared yoga weekly at a local coffee shop to Westerns residing in Uganda, I went to an orphanage for children with physical and mental disabilities, and of course I shared yoga with the caregivers, children, and staff at the NGO I was residing/serving. These yogis embraced yoga principles and practice effortlessly.  

 

I share yoga because I believe it should be shared anywhere, i.e. studios, recovery houses, hospitals, schools, etc. It is a practice compassion.  

 

 

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Find You

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Find You

Written by Kelly Hennigan

Yoga. What does it mean to me? We get asked that question a lot in class and it’s interesting to answer it each time it’s asked (to yourself, of course). Because, to be honest, most days it means something a little different. 

 

I’ve written on my own blog about what yoga has meant to me, both personally as a student and professionally as a photographer. Its effects are unpredictable, but vast and impactful. And if I’m going to stick with being honest, the practice of yoga can sometimes lead to some personal confusion. I guess it’s what all those teachers mean when they say you’re “doing the work.” 

 

Regardless of your reasons, you come to yoga for something. You’re searching. Be it for physical change, a spiritual lift or a mental check. You come for something. And like most of us, you get in there, you get stretched out and you sweat. And eventually you start to listen. And listening is good. Because when we’re looking for something, we often want someone to tell us what it is, how to get it and how to behave in order to get it. Enter the yoga teacher. The studio owner. The teacher trainee. Somebody to tell me what I need and how to get it. “I’ll listen to them. They must know. They’re a yoga teacher.”

 

So you listen. Intently. And here’s where things can get confusing. If you’re like me, you practice with lots of different teachers and you like to visit other studios. Keeps it interesting. Expands your horizons (as they say). And what you’ll find is teachers saying a lot of similar things. But you’ll also find different things. And each one can have you nodding in agreement. Perhaps one contradicts another in the physical manifestation of yoga or, maybe even in the spiritual. So the seeker of wisdom in you cannot figure out which end is up. So you’re listening turns to questioning. Who’s the wiser teacher? Who seems to know better? Who should I follow?

 

Confusion. Having been through some of this, I’ve come to realize that the whole point is to find your journey, your truths and the screaming or the quiet that is YOU. You cannot look to someone else to take you there. But that’s one of the other great gifts of yoga. It has taught me that I am both the seeker and the finder. It cannot come from anywhere or anyone else. The confidence and strength I’ve gained over these last 5 years of practice have come from inside me. I’m just grateful there are so many amazing guides along the way. To help me look closer at me and not just at them. So a big thanks to all of you teachers, owners and students for pointing me back to me. Because then I get to share it back with you.

 

 

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There's no place like home...

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There's no place like home...

Anjali Power Yoga had the pleasure of hosting Africa Yoga Project teachers Jacob and Dennis on their Handstands, Hugs and Highways 2015 tour.  They taught eight sweaty, joyous, silly, powerful classes at the Westmont, Philly and Avalon studios.   The teens at Urban Promise in Camden had a blast, rocking out backbends  and even learning  Swahili!   Funds were raised, t-shirts and Maasai jewelry were bought and every person left the studio, smiling, light hearted and dripping with sweat and love.  A  donation of almost $4,000 was donated to Africa Yoga Project!!

On the social side, in Westmont, we had a barbecue at Lisa’s house and lots of teachers and their kids visited with different American style dishes, hamburgers, hot dogs and Philly pretzels included.  It was fun speaking to Jacob and Dennis and learning of their culture and yoga stories.  While in Avalon, we had fun doing relaxing things like hanging at the beach (handstands were involved!),  visiting with students and swimming in their pool, hanging on my deck with yogi friends and being treated to two firework displays.   We decided that the fireworks were a celebration of AYP’s visit to Anjali!  Of course, we also tasted lots of new foods!   We decided that Dennis had some Irish in his background because he loved Anthony’s mushy peas and Jacob loved the mint chocolate chip ice cream.   New discoveries in America!   

I had told Jacob and Dennis that before they left, I would take them on a tour of Philadelphia on the way to the train at 30th Street Station.  They were so interested in the history of our city and they knew a lot of the places they wanted to see.  I told them the last stop on our tour would be the Rocky statue and we could run the Art Museum steps just like Rocky did.  To my surprise……Dennis had never seen Rocky. (I thought Jacob might not have!)   I thought the movie would be a perfect introduction to our city, so in our down time, we stayed up late and watched Rocky and Rocky 2.   I hadn’t seen the movie in so long and now that I live in Philly, it was fun seeing the movie again….a perfect blend of a guy movie, chick flick and a tour of the city that I call home.  

I have been blessed with the ability to travel quite a lot.   On my last trip abroad, visiting the many sites and historic places of London and the Bordeaux region, I was struck with the thought…”there’s no place like home.”   Everyday on my way to work,  I drive past Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell.   Everyday I drive by the many museums, historic spots, Philly murals, and statues.   I can get a cheese steak 24 hours a day!   

When I took Jacob and Dennis on an hour whirlwind tour, I was surprised that I really knew where so many fun, historic things were in our City of Brother Love.   We started our tour from the shore, crossing into the city via the Walt Whitman Bridge.   The skyline of the city, the Delaware River and the Stadiums are easily visible and are awe-inspiring.   YO!  Of course I’m a Philly sports fan so I think the stadiums are amazing!  Unfortunately there was no “real” Football Stadium to point out to them.   Driving up Broad Street, through South Philly and stopping to take yoga pictures in front of City Hall with Billy Penn in the background are not to be forgotten, iconic moments for them.   Along the drive, I explained all the history and culture that I could remember!  A circle around the brownstones of Spruce Street in tree lined Rittenhouse and down South Street to The Magic Garden.   Again…fun pictures and awe of the art work and creativity of something I see everyday!   Handstands and warrior pose pictures added to their memories!  

As we drove fast around the Oval, past the Franklin Institute  and up JFK Parkway, Dennis was trying to find the Kenyan flag!   To our surprise, just past the Barnes and the Rodin is the Kenyan flag.   Luckily, I’m a good driver and can stop quickly, as Dennis hopped out of the car for a pic!    Finally, the piece de resistance…….The Art Museum!   First stop the Rocky statue!    I think the Rocky statue is a symbol for Philadelphians…Anything is possible if you are a yes!   Rocky fought his way and won…love, hard work  and a strong commitment put him at the top!   Not without a little controversy and some not so good things along the way.   Rocky let go of what was behind him and triumphed!  Now to the hard part…..running those steps!   Both Jacob and Dennis ran, and as they disappeared beyond the lens of my video…I smiled, laughed and cried.    Yes…cried!   I knew in a few minutes I would be saying good by and this was such a happy moment!   I actually felt the sweat they they were experiencing!   As you watch the video, know that I turned it off before the best part.   Dennis jumping up and down, pumping his fists, yelling “I love America!”.    Then the hugs!   There’s still no place like home!

Cheryl Cucinotta Hargaden

7/20/2015

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