Off the Mat: 10 Life Lessons I Learned from Yoga

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Like Verizon Media, our partners may also show you ads that they think match your interests. Learn more about how Verizon Media collects and uses data and how our partners collect and use data. My favorite is 13 and I love teaching at Blue Sky. Wow, I cannot believe two years have already passed, and we are still standing strong and growing even stronger in our Blue Sky Yoga community.

Off The Mat 10 Life Lessons I Learned From Yoga Found

When it comes to creating changes and making a difference one must take risks. There is no doubt that taking risks can be very scary and it takes a lot of work and dedication to create a thriving community. Each person in the community makes a difference, contributes, and plays a part in creating the whole. I said this in the beginning when we began, and it all still rings true.

Taking a look at our community-created logo also reminds me of the union of the community and our connection through yoga. The eight birds flying overhead represent the 8 limbs to the royal path of yoga yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana, and samadhi.

The human is representation of our self in the practice and seated as life on this earth that is the home for each of us. The circle surrounding the yogi represents the circle of life and complete wholeness or oneness, the yoking together of each part of our self spiritually, mentally, and physically and also to each other. From the bottom of my heart, I believe we can take our vulnerabilities and suffering and turn that energy into strengths and grow from it to find clarity. The name Blue Sky represents a connection to the light without the distraction of clouds or rain but pure clarity and light.

The blue sky has always been symbolic of clarity and peace for me from the time I was a child coming out of a coma and having to learn to walk again, having to find the strength to go back to school and dealing with pain and imbalances in my bony structure which had a domino effect on the rest of my system. Yoga has helped me find peace and presence and gratitude in the moment, and when I see a blue sky and sunlight, I feel hope and happiness.

And when there are clouds and rain, I know that is a time I need to relax even more and take time to go inside, reflect and maybe even dance in the rain. Life is celebrated by coming together with your community. For our anniversary, let us come together and offer each other the gift of practice and community. Join us on Friday night, July 19th at pm for a yoga relay class with many of our beautiful teachers: Annie, Kelli, Roxanne, Andrew, and Bryna offering a singing bowl savasana.

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You simply show up, have a fun practice with us and perhaps bring food or drink or a good story to share with the rest of the community. Hope to see you July 19 pm! What does being a man mean? What does being a male yogi mean? I was struggling with this question. I closed my eyes and asked my dad to write this for me. It can be so difficult as a man, to embrace the vulnerability of a yoga practice.


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Stepping into a studio where you might not be the best in the room. This can be incredibly discouraging. But, my dad always told me to try my best. Try your best. My first yoga experience was around the time I was living with my dad in our home in Affton, when I was getting ready to go to school for acting in Northern California. I started working out and running that summer because I was out of shape.

I knew my new school would be physically demanding, so I wanted to start preparing before I packed up my things and moved away on my own for the first time in my life. Yoga was anxiety producing for me in those early days of practice. I thought the only point was to sync your breath with movement and that I would be judged by everyone else in the room if they noticed I was failing miserably at this task.

First-Hand Experience With the Benefits of Yoga

While in the hospital he contracted pneumonia, fell into a coma, and died a few weeks later. Every Tuesday and Thursday morning we practiced yoga as an all school daily practice. My mind was so busy during those days, especially in savasana. I loved my school. I loved the physical training. I met lifelong friends that were there when I needed a shoulder to cry on, to talk about my dad. Over the next couple years, I also developed a social drinking problem, thinking I was living a stress-filled life--where I ignored my health, both mentally and physically--with no place to call home, and a constant whirlwind of trying to find myself, crashed hard.

My anxiety and depression were at record highs. A year ago, I came back to St. Louis, and at the recommendation of my therapist again developed a yoga practice as one of many tools to deal with my anxiety and depression. Last fall, during my final semester of undergrad, my personal practice grew. I had been reading books on being present, and eventually, I gave up trying to be perfect on my mat. I gave up trying to get it right and just do my best. That meant giving up listening to breathe cues for weeks at a time and breathing as I needed.

It meant letting my mind spiral in savasana knowing that I would get through it. Trying my best. Living in a world where openly struggling, being vulnerable, where being emotional as a man is seen as weak. The world of yoga does not hold such norms as truth.

Yoga allows me strength. Yoga allows me vulnerability. Yoga allows me flexibility.

Yoga allows me safety. Yoga allows me tools to survive — tools to thrive. Yoga allows me love. My dad was the first in his family to get a college degree; I got my BA in Communications last fall from his alma mater, UMSL, and then went to India to get my yoga teacher certification. When my dad died, he had been sober for 30 years; I have been sober for over a year now. My father never tried yoga, or the physical aspect of being on a mat asana. But yoga is so much more than that. And, my father was so much more than that. He inspired the best in his children and in others.

He held space for emotions and vulnerability. He was unconditionally loving. He was a yogi as much as anyone. They say the father lives on in the son. So in a way, my father has now tried asana, too. And I gotta say, he loves it! Wesley Pilcher is a guest teacher who comes through St. Louis from Arkansa occasionally to offer workshops and classes geared to find connection within so we understand our connection to all things. Wesley will be joining us May 31 and June 1, so we decided to take this opportunity to get to know him a little better.

I, for one, am hoping for a little breakdance session during one of his classes. Wesley, can you do that for us??? It is challenging and has many benefits like improving the posture of the spine, and it stretches the joints of the shoulders, arms, wrists, back, and many more. In a lot of the old texts, Baddha Padmasana is said to cure diseases. That is a easy one, Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana - Hand to big toe pose.

This posture has always been so hard for me because my hamstrings are so tight. I was demonstrating a jump back for a teacher during an Astangha class and caught my foot on my fisher pants and ripped them right off. Very embarrassing, but way funny now. When I see students living with cancer smile as they get up from savasana when I teach a class.

Who knew? I used to be on a breakdancing team. I love to dance. I am obsessed with The Dance of Shiva; it is an old dance that many of our postures today come from. What inspired you to be a student and then teacher of yoga? I lived in a monastery and an ashram when I was younger; we meditated for hours and hours a day.

38 Health Benefits of Yoga

This was really challenging for my hips. Then one of my teachers and best friend Matt Krepps said let me teach you some yoga. He he did, and I fell in love with it that day.

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