Lora Hogan: 3 Lessons I’ve Learned Teaching Yoga

LoraHogan-159Yoga changed my life before I became a yoga teacher. Then I became a yoga teacher. And I discovered how my life is transformed on a daily basis.

If there are elements of the yoga practice that seem hard for you to grasp, they will be uncovered for you as you teach. If there are poses that are difficult for you to master, they will find a place of balance as you teach. If there are any fears you are trying to hide, they will come out as you teach. Because, in order to be a great teacher, you truly have to be willing to dive in with your whole self…and watch, feel, and learn from what unfolds. Here are three of the greatest lessons I’ve learned since becoming a yoga teacher:

 1) Never assume. They say to practice compassion because “everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” The problem is you can’t always outwardly SEE the battle. I still recall the yoga class (as described on Yogaaudacious) where I broke down and suddenly started sobbing during savasana. I had looked perfect. I was 22. Perfectly skinny. Smiled a lot. Able to master poses that now I can’t even begin to find my way into. But inside I was suffering. Not everyone is struggling to recover from an eating disorder or sexual assault. But everyone has something going on. The marine who can kick up so easily into hand-stand may be battling with PTSD. The (seemingly) overweight yogi may be the strongest and most flexible of the bunch. The skinny runner may have shin splints and ended up in yoga class out of frustration. The mother may have had her daughter throw up in her hair that morning. The elderly woman may have a sister fighting terminal cancer. In fact, the young woman could even be recovering from cancer herself. YOU JUST DON’T know. And you can never know. Unless a student tells you something, do not assume anything about their body, their mind, their hearts. Always ask questions. And ask again and again. Because every day, every moment, is different for us all. Never assume you already know your students…because you will never know what each class may be like and what may have motivated him/her to come to the yoga mat that day.

2) Your students are your best teachers. Learn. Always learn. Learn from your students. To teach you must know. You must practice and seek out answers to your students’ questions. You must have a dedicated home practice. You must take advanced trainings and workshops. But, most importantly, you must watch your students. You must listen. You must treat every class as an opportunity to grow. How can you be better at teaching? What can you learn in each moment? Observe. Listen. Discover. Your students will tell you more than you could ever have thought possible. They may ask a question for which you have no answer. Or they may show up and actually BE a teacher you have studied with before. But your students believe you have something valuable to offer. So you must deliver. Time and time again. And if you ever stumble in class your students are there for you. They will help you get back on track. Because they are there for you, just as you are there for them. It is our duty to grow with our classes. We learn best when we learn together. Your students are there to teach you, just as much as you are there to teach them.

3) Always be authentically you. David Mamet said “Always tell the truth — it’s the easiest thing to remember. “ Similarly, always BE YOU. Fully you. Your students will come to your class for you. Some students will not come to your class because of you. But the only way to truly succeed in yoga is to be your most authentic self possible. To love yourself enough to show up fully, unapologetically, in each and every moment of every class. There will be students who will not like you. Someone may say you are “too high energy” or that they don’t like your music, your sequencing, your smile, or eagerness. But the very thing that will set you apart in the yoga world, that will make you the best teacher possible, is to love yourself so much that you can be 100% yourself in each and every class. Because being you is the easiest thing to do. And it will inspire all your students to go out and be their true selves–on and off the mat.

 LoraHogan-19LORA HOGAN, a yoga teacher, motivational speaker, and author provides yoga for runners, athletes and everyBODY. Founder of #PassLove, Lora also lectures on improving your wellness business, finding and living your passion, and self-love. Lora wants to challenge your body, connect you to the present, and promote self-esteem and compassion. Whether an Ironman, yoga teacher, or just starting the journey, Lora helps take the practice to the next level–on and off the mat. Lora’s yoga classes and workshops nationwide include Lora Love Flows, Yoga to Unstuck Yourself, Yoga for Creativity and Yoga for Athletes.

Website: www.lorahogan.com

Blog: www.lorahogan.com/blog 

Instagram: @lora_hogan

Twitter: @lora_hogan

Facebook: Facebook.com/DailySouthernSunshine

Pinterest: Pinterest.com/LoraHogan

How to Find your Authentic Self

df1UuKW7hQjiixS93G9pQbGjU4PAZpBcVmopAYmMXggNothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic.

Authenticity is invaluable; originality is non-existent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: “It’s not where you take things from it’s where you take them to.”   Jim Jarmusch

Finding an authentic voice in the over-saturated, rather noisy yoga world can be difficult these days. What does it even mean to BE authentic? As a friend of mine says, “Your choices are always your own, but it is inspiration that will spark your next move, and more than likely it will come from an external source.”

Could it be that authenticity means aligning with what is in the deepest folds of one’s heart? Alignment and the expression of that vulnerability. Excavating something so deep can take time, a lifetime even, and changes over the course of that time can make what was once authentic seem fickle or silly. Irrelevant, even. The proverbial sparrow tattoo on one’s ribs that once symbolized creativity, freedom, escape? Maybe now, once kids have hit the scene, tethering one to day-to-day realities, and responsibilities, that sparrow seems more like a messenger from another lifetime, a relic from someone else’s adventurous past. But maybe the reminder of this other self, this evidence of growth and change, is the most authentic talisman one can carry.

Our desire to belong and our desire to be unique: these twin drives move us and shape us and frustrate us. So often we may feel as though we are voicing what someone else already has said, but  perhaps that is part of the process of finding one’s authentic self. The great masters began their education by copying the works of others. In replication there is contemplation, and slowly, eventually, there is authenticity, originality. Distillation and refinement to Truth.

Wherever you are on your journey, keep seeking, keep learning, keep trying and testing. You are putting your own mark on whatever it is that you choose to put focus on. Be open to listening, and to asking: Is this me? Is this NOT me at all?

Allowing ourselves to creatively explore all the paths to differentiation: this is authenticity. Because maybe you are speaking what has already been said, but as my favourite children’s author Nancy Tillman says,

For never before in story or rhyme / (not even once upon a time) / has the world ever known a you, my friend, /and it never will, not ever again…

Because maybe it has already been said, but never before by you, in your voice, from your heart.

Let what inspires you from the outside be what ignites you from the inside. It is what the world wants, and it is what will define you… authentically. Listen to what resonates in those deepest folds, and express with wild abandon. This is where originality is born.

natalieNatalie Halt  is one of founders of Gather Yoga. She competed internationally on water skiing’s Pro Tour and World Cup circuits for a decade, sustaining her top performance with a yoga practice that began in 2000. Natalie is now a certified yoga teacher, and the mother of two boys. She lives in South Carolina, USA.

Website: www.gatheryoga.com

Facebook: Gather Yoga 

Twitter: @GatherYoga 

Instagram: @GatherYogaCollective

 

 

A Reason, A Season, A Lifetime: Top 3 Mantras for Every Chapter of a Boho Girl’s Life

e_AuR9YHPvA2P4xJqLfAIDtSJ1nbY8XFd7gztLcqONUMantra #1
From adolescence to adulthood we are taught to ignore our natural born intuition because the rest of world holds the potential to harm us. We are conditioned to act a certain way by constantly hearing things from our elders like:

Don’t talk to strangers!
Don’t touch anything!
Don’t run!
Be CAREFUL!

 

One of the most important mantras that I have had to realize and re-learn time and time again because the world has tried to teach me otherwise is: I will return to my inner sense (innocence.) This is SO important. A boho’s intuition is almost always correct. We can tell if someone means to harm us, if we should feel something, if and when our bodies need to move in a specific way…we know what is good for us! Mantra #1: I will return to my inner sense. 

 

Mantra #2
Often times when something unfortunate or unpleasant occurs we believe that it’s someone or something else’s fault. We continue about our lives and the same unpleasant thing happens to us again, and it’s STILL NOT OUR fault! Then it happens again, we begin to recognize a pattern but are stuck in the habit of our actions…and so the unpleasant thing happens yet AGAIN. Finally we realize that it is our fault and that our actions enabled the unpleasant thing to happen, so we begin to change our ways. We realize that in order for the unpleasantness to go away, we must make a change. Boho mantra #2 is this, simply put: I am responsible for and in control of my life. 

 

Mantra #3 
As boho girls, we are naturally inclined to LOVE. We love a lot. We love hard. We can be emotional about that love, attached to it, expect things from it. In order to recreate our reality and approach our relationships from a place of PURE love, we must learn to give, to love freely and without any sort of expectation. Once expectations are removed, we can give more, be more, and do more for others. The love that sprouts from those relationships will change the world! Mantra #3: I will LOVE without expectations. 

 

Boho girls, return to your inner sense. Be responsible for and in control of your own life. Love without expectations!!!
Screen Shot 2014-07-18 at 3.56.51 PMCaley Alyssa is a Yogini & Holistic Health coach in Santa Monica, CA. She’s also a traveler, hiker, bikini lover, bullshit caller, avocado eater, & snuggler (little spoon.)

Twitter: @CaleyAlyssa
Instagram: @CaleyAlyssa

How to French Kiss Life, A Yogi Fashionistas Guide to Falling in Love with the World

parisThis week I was blessed with the opportunity to move into a new home. As the universe works in silly and mysterious ways (and certain planning aspects slipped through the cracks), we found ourselves playing house for a few days. With our mattress on the floor, make shift tables from boxes and Game of Thrones Season 1 rented from the library, laughter and joy filled our home. All this good cheer lead to staying up too late and waking up with a huge headache.

In that moment, I had two choices: fight it with a venti cappuccino skim milk & 2 raw sugars, or revel in gratitude and fall deeper in love with the world. I will ALWAYS fall deeper in love and I have a handful of tips to help you do the same.

1) Always choose gratitude.
As a yogini I rock mala beads, drink green smoothies and post adorable yoga photos on Instagram, but yoga is so much more than looking the part. It is walking the walk and embodying a yoga lifestyle daily. I always count my blessings. Currently I am participating in the Happy 100 Days Challenge, keeping a gratitude journal and always remembering to say thank you. It’s a simple gesture that reminds us of all the goodness in life.

2) Feel the sunshine on your shoulders and the sand between your toes 
Almost all boho babes crave the ocean. She runs deep in my veins, octopi are my spirit animal and I’m 100% sure I was a mermaid in a previous life. The ocean is my safe haven and I love the feeling of the sun on my shoulders and the sand between my toes. The beach, the sun and the sand are ALWAYS there in my heart even during a cold New England winter. I have learned to embrace every season and feel the sunshine throughout the year. As boho babes, we must French Kiss life by feeling the ocean in our veins all year round and living life OUT LOUD when summer finally arrives.

3) Always pack your crystals and malas 
As a self proclaimed “woo-woo” I am part of a beautiful tribe of women who believe in spreading love & joy through yoga and energy healing. One of our favorite things to do is tote crystals for good energy, especially Rose Quartz for LOVE!! Throw on your mala beads and choose the crystals that suit your mood for today.

4) Always be up for adventure

Being a yoga studio owner can tend to take a toll on my body. There are often days when I need rest and puppy snuggles. But when a friend calls for a last minute lunch date or my grandmother needs help finding a birthday present, you can bet your asana that I’m out the door with my good attitude in tow. Leave room for adventure and be open to spontaneity.

5) Look for the heart rocks and listen to the librarian
This week has been chock full of life lessons for me. My favorite librarian told me to let a book go after I explained I didn’t enjoy my current choice. She told me to only read to my age in pages because there are so many books, so why would I read one that doesn’t speak to my soul? I try to keep my eyes and ears wide open everyday. Keep your eyes open for signs, look for heart rocks, falling stars and 11:11. Listen to the wisdom of strangers on the street. Look up from your phone and be present. The world has so much to say to you.

Falling in love with the world is easy when you’re open to love, gratitude and surprises. Always be open to change, flow and the beauty of a new direction. Open your heart, count your blessings, wear your mala beads and bask in the sunshine. And remember to always listen to the librarian.
Jenny Ravikumar is the owner and a yoga instructor at Barefoot Yoga Shala.

1157699_383157768473367_247012539_n

Our interview with Angela Leigh

971230_10102099047049788_559752014_nI am pretty sure in my past life I was a journalist as I love asking questions of those that inspire me. In fact, I love asking others what inspires them, drives them, lights them up, pulls at their heart strings and essentially what sets their soul on fire.

So, today, I answer a couple questions to see how the other shoe fits.

What brought you to the mat for the first time?

Stress. I was a big ball of anxiety. I was a young, ambitious, career-driven and emotionally-devoid woman who was subcounsciously craving a connection within myself that was clearly lacking. I was always looking outside for the answers…little did I know the answers were already within me. My soul sister, Suzy Nece, dragged me into the studio and within a few breaths & tears I was hooked. I uncovered an outlet to connect to myself in a way I hadn’t experienced before. I was able to turn off everything and be still, honest, raw, vulnerable and open to change. My practice is deeply special & personal…it is a mirror to my soul, it will never lie to me, it keeps me pure and focused.

How do you set intentions in life?

Intention evokes action.

Action creates change.

Change inspires growth.

Growth develops confidence.

Confidence trumps fear.

Fear loses to bravery.

Bravery is necessary to dream beyond what is comfortable.

I set intentions daily. To create pure intentions I changed my lens of life from fear to love. When I changed how I saw myself life became more clear, more fun and much more FULL.

Intentions are only as good as you are willing to take the actions to feel the change. And yes, that takes a leap of faith and probably a lot of courage. But I personally would rather feel the free fall than the safety of staleness.

1457522_10102495647269768_1405836728_n

What inspires me?

Vulnerability. I connect to authenticity. I respond to realness. I love hard. When the walls are down this heart opens up and it runs deep. That kind of connection truly inspires me to take action and create change. Our world is not going to fix itself. We need to share our stories, support one another and encourage everyone along the way.

What is your favorite mala & why?

Awakening Mala.

There is a purity of the mind, body and soul that needs to be aligned to create intentions and that purity comes from self-acceptance. Without that pure, unconditional love for ourselves it is challenging to overcome obstacles that stand in our way of our intentions. This mala awakens that purity. And I love all things PURE.

-Angela Leigh

Ritual can be done anywhere, by anyone, and in any way with Jessica Cartwright

full_IMG_6179_edited-2Living in Montana provides a constant source of inspiration. There is so much natural beauty and an abundance of healthy, heart centered energy. It’s a wondrous thing to wake up every day in what the natives called the Valley of the Flowers. I feel immensely grateful to live here and do what I love – teach yoga, energy heal, get lost in nature, and inspire others.

Another beautiful gift that Montana has given me is the importance of ritual. Ritual is grounding and gives us purpose. It’s what our ancestors did on a regular basis and allows us to feel connected to this earth and our place here within it.

Ritual can be done anywhere, by anyone, and in any way.

When I hiked Machu Picchu last year I turned it into a spiritual journey. I used my malas to set an intention with every step. I ran the beads through my fingers and honored a loved one, said a healing affirmation, and charged them with love and purpose through every step.

MountainSplitNow it’s a ritual to use my malas in meditation when I need recharging; to cleanse them along with my crystals on the full moon; to practice 108 sun salutations at the change of every season; to place them on the top of my mat during my yoga practice.

 Breaking away from technology and connecting in a more meaningful way, through ritual, is a blessing. It allows us to hear the whispers of our ancestors as we ease into the groundedness of feeling earthly, relishing the seasons, and delighting in being human.

I love the Devotion mala for this reason; it reminds me of my devotion to ritual and to the purpose we all have in this life. It also reminds me of my devotion to the dreamworld, to spirit work, to the seasons, to my ancestors, to the land where I live, to my relationship with my self, and to the source of connection that lies within us all, at our heart centers.

MachuHeadstand Let creating ritual be fun! Just like the excitement that comes from picking out the perfect mala for you, exploring meaningful rituals in your life will feel freeing, empowering, and invigorate you! Ideas are to smudge your house, pat your buddha, carry crystals with you, celebrate the full moon, all of it works. Go with what feels good!

In my opinion ritual is anything that you come back to regularly, that steps you out of your normal routine (habit) and provides a feeling of meaning, purpose, and connection. So look for inspiration and get creative in how to bring ritual into your life. It’s sort of like deepening our roots so that our branches can grow even further.

Your malas are your best ally in bringing ritual and intention into your every day. Let them connect you to the ways you want to feel, to the love and groundedness that connects us all, every time you touch, wear, and practice in them!

 

– Jessica Cartwright
VivaMyYoga

#livewithintention Gypset Goddess

“Living with intention starts with being aware of what is most important to me, what I want, and what I believe in. Then I use this knowledge to follow the best path for myself and make conscious decisions that impact my life, the people around me, and the world in a positive way.”- Gypset Goddess

tumblr_mzvwspO9rD1qewxz8o1_500

The Five Health Benefits of Meditation

It is 2014, and life is busier than ever. We work hard, we play hard. More than ever, we need to get on board with meditation and sit hard (maybe without the hard part, but we were on a roll there).

TDFW13shootLondonWEBREZ300

There are as many types of meditations as there are styles of yoga pants. You will ultimately find your perfect fit, but as you try on various styles for size, you are gaining the benefits right away. Here are some of those benefits that you are adding to your life:

1)            Meditation will make you more socially connected. Much different from social media connected, the solitary activity of meditation can increase positivity to other individuals and the world at large. It can even make you feel less lonely!

2)            It improves your ability to be creative. Creative people know that writer’s (or painter’s, or dancer’s) block is a very real thing. As a substitute for banging your head against a wall, try mediating. It sure is less painful.

3)            It gives your own 50 shades of gray. Meditation has been shown to increase the gray matter in the brain, in areas relating to memory and thought. The brain volume also increases in the area that regulates  emotions. Why, what did you think this was about?

4)            It can relieve pain. The Journal of Neuroscience has discovered that meditation can relieve pain by activating multiple brain layers. The study involved voluntarily receiving uncomfortable hot flashes to the leg. Be grateful for the people who help out in the name of science!

5)            It makes you see the glass half full. Besides the well-known benefits of decreasing anxiety and stress, meditation can help you to see the bright side of life and can increase positive emotions.

Bring more mindfulness into your life this year with tuja wellness. This Canadian wellness website will offer an absolutely free 30-day meditation challenge starting in February. Meditations will range from 5 to 20 minutes (let’s be honest, you spend more time than that each day on internet browsing) and it couldn’t be easier. Sign up here!