Letting Go Made Easy, 3 Simple Tips 

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There is nothing more frustrating to me at times than being told to “let it go.” I get that crazy punch-them-in-the-face mental flash, then have to remind myself I’m a yogi and repeat ahimsa, non-violence, until I chill out.

This phrase can trigger me so much because it’s in exactly those moments that I’d love more than anything to “let it go,” but some part of me keeps holding on…to something that’s happened, or might happen…and I feel like screaming, “can’t you see I’m trying!”

The great irony is that I’ve built a life and career around telling/helping people to “let it go.”

As frustrating as it can be I’m passionate about “letting it go” because I know it’s in the letting go that I find my peace, my healing, my wisdom, inner light, purpose and guidance.

It’s pure bliss once I’ve broken the threshold of resistance, either physically or mentally/emotionally with an issue.

Each time I “let go” I promise myself I won’t hold onto grudges or worry or fear or my tight shoulders or hips ever again. Ha! And then life happens and inevitably I’ll cycle back to holding onto something that blocks my energy and brings me down…until I re-remember the path of letting go.

Thankfully I remember a lot more quickly these days and hold on a lot less frequently…and I attribute that shift to a regular practice of yoga, mediation and EFT — three tools that have changed my life and made finding the path of least resistance much easier.

The key is to PRACTICE REGULARLY. I find doing even 5 minutes of meditation, yoga or tapping a day is much much more impactful overall than doing massive sessions rarely.

To me these practises are like short cuts to let go of blockages and BE present.

I was inspired to write this post after listening to an interview for Mindful in May with meditation teacher Mark Coleman yesterday, who said, rather than focus on letting go, focus on letting be. 

He explained that letting go was not something we do but rather a result of letting be. Letting be means observation and acceptance. When we practice these two things, the natural result is a letting go.

I really resonated with that and it made me understand why yoga, meditation and EFT work so well — they are all practices of observation and acceptance.

I want to share with you how to make letting go easier by using these tools in a simple, day to day way.

Breath Body Practice 

To me ANY mindful breath body practice is yoga. Yoga is not just about contorting our bodies into funny poses, it’s really about the mindfulness required to contort our bodies or balance on our hands. That said, doing really simple movements can generate just as much mindfulness.

The point is, when we move our body and connect to our breath, our attention is called to the present moment and our brain chemistry changes — our senses heighten, we feel more, and it causes us to forget about future or past worries (even if just momentarily).

The body can only ever BE IN THE NOW, so any mindful breath body practice creates a state of “being” that leads to letting go.

That’s part of why we feel so damn good after yoga, or come up with solutions that previously evaded us.

TIP: What ever your yoga is (surfing, running, walking, dancing, asana…any mindful movement), do it EVERY DAY as a practice even if just for five minutes, knowing it’s a practice of BEING PRESENT, which creates space to let go.

Meditation

Letting be is a combination of observation and acceptance, and meditation is the mighty act of self observation. 

Through meditation we cultivate an ability to sustain our focus on ourselves without reacting to what we see.

This non-reaction piece is huge. Some days I sit down and my mind is running with so many thoughts I feel leagues away from the ideal vision of peaceful meditation. But I sit anyway and I practice watching all those thoughts.

I can’t stop the thoughts but I can feel separate from them. I can remember I am not my thoughts or sensations, I am just experiencing them. 

This act of not identifying with the thoughts or sensations is so powerful because it leads to letting be and letting go.

We have to practice this mindset, like building muscular strength, and that’s why even when my mediation practice feels far from peaceful I know it’s worth doing.

TIP: Even if you think you don’t know how to meditate and you’re head is full of a thousand and eight thoughts, just pause, close your eyes, sit or stand still, observe those thoughts and remind yourself you are more than your thoughts or sensations. Even one minute a day makes a difference!

E.F.T. — Stands for Emotional Freedom Technique, commonly known as “tapping,” and has been one of the biggest positive influences in my life over the past few years.

It’s so simple that it almost feel ridiculous, but man it’s powerful. (The older I get the more I realise the simple things are often the most powerful).

In the E.F.T. technique we tap on a series of easy to remember points on the body that correlate to the meridian system. Much like acupuncturists needling points to stimulate and move energy (especially stuck energy) tapping stimulates all of the meridian lines, moves energy, and increases somatic awareness.

As you tap these specific points you also state what’s bothering you, where you feel it in your body and then say, “and I love and accept myself anyway.” That’s the basic and anybody can do it

ACCEPTING is the second part of letting be. Sometimes it’s hard to say those simple words “I love and accept.” It feels lame or makes you realise how much you haven’t been accepting. But this may be one of the most potent phrases in the English language!

I’ve found in my own experience and when facilitating a session (I loved this practice so much I recently became a qualified EFT practitioner), is that these simple words coupled with stimulating energy can catalyse an embodiment of acceptance that is both cathartic and profoundly transformational.

TIP: Practice tapping regularly at home (see youtube link). If you can’t remember the pattern juts tap the sternum (breast bone), name out loud the issue, how it feels in your body starting with “Even though xxx…” followed by “I love and accept myself anyway.” End with placing your hands on your heart centre and taking three deep breaths.

I’d love to hear what tools you’ve found in your life help you let be and let go, share with the community below!

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Why We Don’t Meditate and How to Get Over It 

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The international Mindful in May campaign has inspired me to dedicate May to meditation and to sharing with you the useful tips and information I’ve learned over the years that have helped me develop a meditation practice.

Mediation has improved my life in so many ways and has become one of my most valued personal tools for health and self care. That said I still find myself missing meditations, hitting obstacles to my practice and understand the struggle with consistency.

We can talk about meditation all day long, but results come from actually doing it. So before I launch into the benefits of meditation and dork out on neuroscience details I thought it more valuable to discuss what gets in the way of meditation and how to move past that.

Most Common Reasons for Not Meditating 

  1. I don’t have the time to mediate. 

I get it, we all lead full lives and time is the most precious asset we have, so who has time to just sit there with there eyes closed doing nothing, right?!

First of all, before you puff your chest up and say “yay!”, take a moment to think about all the times in your day spent unfocused and therefore unproductive and wasting time? Or getting sucked into an internet time warp (thanks Facebook and Youtube). Or obsessing on something you really wish you weren’t wasting your time thinking about?

I’ve found that even taking 5 minutes to meditate makes me so much more focused on what really matters and efficient that I magically seem to have more time on my hands AND get just as much done.

You don’t have to mediate for 20 minutes or sit in silence for 10 days to feel the effects, you just have to do it.

I believe you can make a huge impact with even one minute of meditation. Just close your eyes, take a deep breath, count to 60 and let yourself slow down for a minute. Do this multiple times through the day in moments when you’d otherwise be wasting your time and you’ll start to find more time than you ever realised you had.

  1. I don’t know how to mediate.

Meditation can be as complex or simple as you want to make it. What I’ve found over the years is that simple is often the most effective, not to mention practical.

Meditation unfortunately is sometimes shrouded in cryptic ritual and seems only for the enlightened or initiated. But the truth is, it’s for everyone, it’s right at your finger tips and can be super easy.

The easiest first step is to sit comfortably (you don’t have to sit on the floor in lotus, just find a chair, support your back, lay down, whatever supports your body).

Then close your eyes and pay attention to your breath. You can also repeat one word (called a mantra) like “Aum” or “Love” or “I am.”

Don’t worry too much about getting it right, the word or breath are simply vehicles to focus the mind and in so doing create a sense of stillness.

Yes, thoughts will come up, that’s natural, no problem (more on that next blog). The key is to let them come and then let them go, don’t hold on to the thoughts. Keep gently and quietly coming back to the focus on your breath or mantra.

Sit for 5 to 20 minutes a day and this alone will have a huge impact on your nervous system, mind, body and life.

  1. I can’t sit still and I get anxious.

First of all you don’t have to sit perfectly still.

Try not to fidget and move around too much, that become a distraction, but be easy with yourself. If your foot goes numb just shift until you’re more comfortable and then comeback to your simple focus of breath or mantra.

Stuff comes up a lot in meditation, like anxiety, sadness, frustration, worries and memories. This is actually part of the benefit of meditation. I like to think of it as psychic digestion. We are giving our subconscious an opportunity to process the experiences of life, and that can bring up a whole lot of feelings.

Again, the key is to let them go. Then gently and quietly come back to your breath or mantra. This is called releasing Samskara, and one of the greatest benefits of a meditation practice.

  1. I forget to mediate.

We want to make mediation a habit, and forming a habit doesn’t just happen in some haphazard way.

Habits need to be triggered by something that reminds us to do them. Many of our daily habits are triggered subconsciously, but if we want to form a new habit we can consciously choose something to trigger it.

Think of things you do every day, like put on the kettle, brush your teeth, take your makeup off at the end of the day, go for coffee in the afternoon.

Choose one that make sense to you and make that your trigger for meditation. Write it down. For example, when I put the kettle on in the morning that reminds me to sit down and meditate (even if it’s just for 5 minutes). I even used to have a sticky note on my kettle to remind me.

  1. I don’t see the point. 

What’s the point of anything if it’s not connected to your spirit, heart and purpose? To me, meditation is all about FEELING the connection to your highest self, but it also has an endless list of medical, physical and psychological benefits.

To  name a few:

  • Reduces blood pressure
  • Improves digestion
  • Generates peace, calm and happiness
  • Increases mental clarity and creativity
  • Reduces activity of viruses and emotional distress
  • It lowers oxygen consumption and decreases respiratory rate.
  • Slow aging process

The list goes on, for more motivation check out 100 Beneftis of Meditation or 20 Scientific Reasons to Start Meditating Today.

I hope this has helps you overcome some of your hurtles to meditation! As part of Mindful in May I’ll be sharing posts all about Meditation, stay tuned for next week’s blog debunking common misunderstandings about how to meditate.

If you want to support my Mindful in May Charity page and help bringing water to impoverished communities in Uganda the world and myself will be grateful for your generosity!

As a thank you to all those who donate to the charity I’ll be sending a series of free meditation recordings that I’ve made. Thanks in advance for your support!

I’ll also be hosting a free group meditation and potent discussion about how to make meditation part of your life at Qi Yoga in Freshwater on the 31st at 7pm. Mark your calendars and see you there!

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The Grocery Stores Have Gone, What Now?!

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Tomorrow I’ll be teaching a free class as part of the local Earth Hour celebration in collaboration with World Wildlife Fund and Manly Council. This year’s theme is “Planet to Plate” which is all about exploring how and what we eat impacts the health of our planet. I wrote this blog on the exact topic last year, and also on how food/earth consciousness impacts our health, not just physically but mentally and spiritually. I thought it only fitting to re-blog this post. Hope to see you all at the Earth Hour event tomorrow, or simply showing your solidarity by turning all lights off from 8-9pm. Enjoy a candle light dinner! xo Morgan

Originally posted on Yoga with Morgan Webert:

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What would you do if you woke up and all grocery stores were shut down, emptied out and there was no place to buy food? Would you know how to feed yourself?

I’d frantically run to all my friend’s who have veggie patches and beg for seeds and off shoots or be left to subsist on the herbs living in my kitchen window. I can only laugh at how long it might take me to catch a fish, and might try harvesting some wild edibles but worry about which one’s were safe.

Wow, this could be the most effective weight loss program ever!

But seriously, I’ve been fascinated this week thinking about how so few of us in the West actually know how to source food from nature. In other words, many of us don’t know how to feed ourselves.

We don’t know how to provide one of the basic…

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How to Simplify Life with Ayurveda (no joke!)

ayurveda-yogaA few weeks ago I was chatting to a fellow yoga teacher and mentioned that I love Ayurveda because it has really simplified my life. I think he literally snorted, possibly rolled his eyes and said something like, “Ayurveda and simple, never heard those two words in a sentence together.”

To be honest, I would have made a very similar comment only a few years ago and scoffed at the notion of simplifying Ayurveda, the traditional medicine system of India (considered one of the oldest in the world) and sister science to Yoga.

It wasn’t for lack of studying Ayurveda that I would have scoffed in the past. In fact, my first job after graduating massage school in 2003 was at an Ayurvedic clinic and wellness spa. I did the constitution tests, got consultations, read David Frawley’s famous books, and learned all of the traditional Ayurvedic bodywork treatments like abhyanga, swedana, garshana, bastis and shirodhara. 

I learned more about Ayurveda in my yoga teacher training in India, even dedicated my final project to Yogic and Ayurvedic understanding of digestive health, and then went and experienced first hand the powerful Ayurvedic cleansing and detoxing process know as Panchakarma. Which was probably one of the most challenging experiences I’ve had, but at the end left me feeling clean as a new born baby. My eyeballs literally looked white as snow and I felt like my skin was radiating.

I did my best over the years to stick to my constitution food lists, exercise regimes and herbs, but always felt a bit confused about what I should be eating, doing or taking something and why. That is until I started studying with my amazing Ayurveda teacher Cate Stillman who totally transformed my life and understanding of Ayurveda with her 9 month Living Ayurveda course.

This system has now become a tool to simplify my life, and it truly can be for everybody! So I wanted share with you all my simplified understanding and how it has made a much bigger impact than all the complicated practices, recipes and lists I tried to follow previously.

First, I started to see the whole world in terms of the 5 elements and their qualities. 

__6336808.jpegJust like the Chinese medicine system, Ayurveda recognises that ALL things are comprised of the 5 elements (ether, air, fire, water and earth). Ayurveda further groups the element into three main categories, also know as humours, constitutions or doshas: Vata (ether + air), Pitta (fire + water) and Kapha (water + earth).

We all know innately what the elements feel like and what they’re qualities are; for example air feels cool, light, or changeable, fire feels hot, fast or sharp and earth feels heavy, dense or stable.

We each contain all of these elements and their qualities, as does everything around us, but simply in different ratios and this changes throughout the day, our life, or depending on season and culture.

I started to notice more when my environment had lots of fire, or my food felt more heavy and earthy, or when my thoughts were airy and changeable or my body more watery. I began to see the  elements in all parts of my life.

Second, I worried less about stories and more about the elements and their qualities. 

Have you ever had a bad day and the list of all the things that were going wrong felt endless? On top of that you have this overwhelming sense of not knowing why it’s going so poorly and analysing it just isn’t helping?

I know I have, and getting lost in the stories of who, what, why and how just doesn’t help, in fact, it often makes it worse.

Instead of going over and over in my head what happened or why I felt bad, I started to pay attention to the qualities of what happened or how I felt. For example, I’ve had too much coffee and my thoughts are scattered, lots of air qualities are showing up in my mind now. Or, I just had an argument with my partner, I’m feeling really pissed off, lots of fire is showing up in my emotions and body right now.

I stepped away from the stories and habits and simplified each experience down to what element or dosha was dominating.

Third, I focused on balancing the elements in the present moment. 

The Ayurvedic system has a deceptively simple, yet massively powerful principle that show’s up in all of the literature:

Like increases like and opposites balance. 

Our desire is to find balance in life. When we feel balanced we feel good. We function our best, feel our healthiest and live our best lives.

So when ever I felt out of balance I started to ask myself, “what element is dominant, what element is there too much of?” And then I’d ask myself, “What is the opposite, and how can I bring in the opposite to find balance.”

The beauty of this is that we stop over complicating life with trying to figure out all the things that happened leading up to that moment or how we’re going to change it all in the future. We’re simply dealing with the present and how to find balance now.

For example, just had an argument, too much fire, what can we do to bring in the opposite, cooling. It can literally be some fresh cool air, a glass of water, a few big breaths. And you start to come back to a sense of balance, which will start to change everything.

Or perhaps you’ve just gone through a loss, and feel empty, lonely the qualities of ether. How could you bring in the opposite, some earth, grounding, and nourishment?

It’s all very practical, natural and obvious, and that’s what I love about it.

Looking at the world through the Ayurvedic lens empowers us to become our own best friend, care taker and doctor. 

The western world has locked medicine and health up in the ivory towers of institutions and created a cultural paradigm of taking health out of the individuals hands. People often feel confused about their health, that it’s too complicated to know what to do for themselves or they don’t trust their own body’s instincts.

If we allow ourselves each day, with each practice and life challenge to scale it back down to the basics of elements, qualities and the intention to maintain balance, we can bring the power of health back into our own hands. As my teacher Cate once said in a lecture, “Ayurveda is the medicine of the people.” I love that!!

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3 Tips to Use Your Brain Better

Unknown-1Last week on my blog we learned about some fantastic neuroscience findings regarding the mind and body that remind us of our tremendous potential for self healing and creating the life we desire:

  1. We continue to develop new brain cells all through adulthood, meaning we can change patterns, learn new skills and even heal brain damage throughout life.
  2. Our heart and digestive tract have independent nervous systems to the brain, often sending more signals to the brain than the other way around, meaning the body is not just the puppet of the brain, but is in a dynamic dialogue.
  3. Our genes are triggered to express by environmental stimuli, so even if we have a genetic predisposition we can reduce the likelihood of that gene expressing by being mindful about environmental stimuli (like food, thoughts, exercise and exposure to toxins).

This week I want to look at a few practical ways to put that knowledge to use.

  1. Keep Trying New Things & Learning 

Staying in the same old routine dulls the brain and can keep us stuck in undesirable patterns. When ever we learn something new the brain is forced to fire differently, creating new and different neurological connections.

Dr. Joe Dispenza explains, learning is forging new synaptic connections, and every time you learn something new your brain physically changes. Nerve cells that fire together wire together, and as you begin to learn new information you biologically wire that into your brain architecture.

The mind is the brain in action. When ever we make the brain work differently, we’re changing our mind. Changing our mind means changing our experience of life, but if we stay stuck in the same old routines this is unlikely to happen.

So get out there and try something new! Next time you’re in a new yoga pose and feel silly or frustrated remember the effect it will have on shifting other mental patterns, generating new synaptic connections and cognitive ability could be life changing!

  1. Relax, The Saber Tooth Tiger is Extinct  

Stress is one of the biggest causes of disease in our modern world mostly because people do not know how to turn off the stress response in their body.  Over time this leads to adrenal fatigue, poor sleep, bad digestion, clouded thinking, reduced functioning of all bodily systems and ultimately disease.

Evolutionarily the stress response, also known as fight, flight or freeze response, saved us from things like sabre tooth tigers. When we’re in danger this response triggers blood to rushed into our limbs, eyes and our cerebellum or primitive brain, and away from our organs, frontal lobe and neocortex, the areas of logic, creativity and self awareness.

When we’re stressed out about work or life, or overstimulate ourselves with caffeine, the brain receives the same chemical messages as if we were in a life threatening situation, like being chased by a sabre tooth tiger.

The truth is, rarely are we in such danger, but the brain and body don’t know the difference between real danger or perceived danger. It errs on the side of caution and sends the adrenals into overdrive.

So what to do? Recognise that stress is a choice. As mentioned in my previous blog, we can observe our own thoughts, neuroscience calls this meta-cognition. Next time you find yourself in a stressful situation and getting all worked up, heart racing, can’t think clearly try to catch yourself and ask, is this really life threatening? Do I really need to stress out about this so much?

An easy way to diffuse stress and shift into the relaxation response is to take a few deep breaths and calm the heart rate. The Heart Math Institute calls the coherence. When the heart rate lowers it’s telling the brain, “Don’t worry, we’re safe, the tiger is gone, no need to trigger stress chemicals.” Moving the breath and body in a mindful way as well as meditation also turn off the stress response.

  1. Imagine, Visualise & Meditate on What you Want 

The fascinating thing about the body-brain connection is that it can’t tell the difference between real or imagined experiences. Simply thinking about the thing that stresses us out can send us into  a stress response. Or, simply imagining falling in love with someone can create a whole cascade of chemical reactions from the Limbic system generating emotions.

The point is, our body responds to our thoughts, even if they are imagined. Now this can be very very useful, or very very detrimental. If we’re constantly thinking negative stressful thoughts, this is how we’re going to feel. On the other hand, if we choose to think more positively, we’ll feel more positive.

Remember, nerves that fire together wire together. So if we’ve had a negative thought pattern for a long time it means we’ve neurologically wired together strong networks for this thought pattern and it’s much easier to keep using those connections than forge new ones. But we can forge new connections! And the more we think in the way we want to the stronger those connections become. The less we repeat an old pattern, the weaker those connections become.

Dr. Joe Dispenza says that learning is creating new connections, and remembering is maintaining them. You can choose which patterns you want to maintain, and which you want to let deteriorate.

Great ways to shift thought patterns include visualisation or imaging the new way you want to react to a situation before it happens. This is sometimes called mental rehearsal and a common practice among elite athletes because it’s been show to greatly improve performance. Apply this to any new way you want to act or feel and you’ll literally be rewiring your brain so that it becomes easier to act, think and feel the way you want.

Practical Ayurveda for Yoga Teacher with Morgan Webert

30 hour Continuing Education

17 April – 15 May, Fridays 12-6pm

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Debunking 3 Myths About Brain & Body That Can Change Your Life 

051227_synapse_02Last weekend I went to an incredible workshop about the neuroscience of the mind body connection. Something I’ve been fascinated with for years, but this weekend seriously re-inspired my passion for exploring the unbelievable potential of our mind-body and how important it is to work with it on a regular basis.

Before we dive into how to work with mind-body connection let’s start by busting a few myths.

Myth Busting: 

1) Adult brain cells don’t regenerate — total BS!  While it is true that the majority of our brain development occurs in our early years, neuroscientists have now documented that adult brain cells do keep growing and changing. In other words, you can teach an old dog new tricks!

Nerve cells grow, change and develop networks of connections based on environmental stimuli and repetition throughout our whole life. As Dr. Joe Dispenza explains, learning is forging new connections, and every time you learn something new your brain physically changes. Nerve cells that fire together wire together, and as you begin to learn new information you biologically wire that into your brain architecture.

So even if you feel super stuck in an old pattern, know that you have the power to change it! If you’re starting yoga, meditation or any other practice stick to it, you’re brain will develop new synaptic connections each time you practice and eventually it will become easier and automatic.

2) The brain is the command centre — not quite. Our brain is amazingly powerful, but scientists are beginning to discover that it’s not the penultimate control centre of our existence. For example, the heart has it’s own independent complex nervous system often referred to as the “heart-brain” composed of about 40,000 neurons that can sense, feel, learn, remember and communicate messages back to the brain. In fact, studies show that the heart sends more neurological commands to the brain than the brain does to the heart.

“One important way the heart can speak to and influence the brain is when the heart is coherent – generating a stable, sine-wavelike pattern in its rhythms. When the heart rhythm is coherent, the body, including the brain, begins to experience all sorts of benefits, among them greater mental clarity and intuitive ability, including better decision-making,” says Deborah Rozman, Ph.D. and president of HeartMath Institute.

heart-brain-coaching-image-Scientists are also making great discoveries about the independent nervous system in our digestive tract, called the enteric nervous system, or the “gut-brain” and how it not only controls digestion but has a massive influence on our moods.

So remember, there’s a lot more behind trusting your heart and gut feeling that you may realise! The yoga system actually recognises that we have 5 bodies, the mind being just one of them (read my last blog for more details on that).

On top of that, something yogi’s have been exploring for thousands of years, and what scientists called “meta-cognition,” is the ability to observe the mind. If we can observer our mind it implies there is a cognitive part of ourselves separate from our mind. What is that? Our higher self or consciousness according to the yogi’s of yore.

3) Everything is genetically determined and we can’t change our genes — wrong! It’s commonly thought that we’re stuck with what we’re born with genetically and that familial patterns of health and disease are passed down generation to generation. The new field of epigenetics however, has made groundbreaking discoveries on how environmental factors actually control our gene activity and proving we are not prisoners to genetic heredity.

“Bottom line: While each of us inherits our own unique, hardwired, unchangeable version of the genetic code, epigenetic factors such as lifestyle and diet can radically change what our genes do,” says Dr. Frank Lipman. “There are thousands of genes that render you susceptible to the classic, chronic diseases so many people are experiencing today, such as heart disease, obesity, diabetes and cancer. But whether or not these genes are expressed, and blossom into disease, may be determined by how you live your life, how you eat, the toxins you’re exposed to, the supplements you take, your beliefs and how you handle stress. This means that though you may be susceptible to heart disease or diabetes, you do not necessarily have to succumb to them. That is, your genes are a predisposition, not a fate, and the expression of your genes is much more dynamic and modifiable than previously realised.”

Further research shows that what we think and believe is itself an environmental influence on how genes express themselves. So remember, that you have choice and power even with regards to genetic predisposition.

Stay tuned for next week’s blog where I’ll discuss five simple ways to use your brain, and mind-body connection to live a healthier, happier life!

I love hearing back from you! What experience or thoughts do you have about these topics?

If Yoga Changed Your Life Give Me a Shout! 

It’s something I hear all the time. “Yoga has changed my life!” And I always try to ask, “How?” What amazes me is that the answers always reflect how practicing yoga has changed many aspects of a persons life, not just their body.

I hear things like:

“I’m more calm with my children.”

“I take better care of myself now.”

“I just feel happier since practicing yoga.”

“I have a better community.”

“I’m less stressed and more clear.”

“I breath better.”

“I’m more courageous.”

“I feel healthier, sleep better, eat better, ache less…”

These are really just a smidgen of the responses, and typically when I ask this question people can’t stop telling me all the many ways their life changed for the better and why.

I’ll be honest, sometimes people injury themselves, but usually they learn a lot form it (about their body or pushing too hard) and heal, and sometimes the paradigm shift can throw people into a period of confusion about how they’re currently living their lives. But I’ve seen again and again the most beneficial and profound breakthroughs come after the struggles, both physically and psychologically.

I know for me this practice and all I’ve learned from my struggles with it has influenced my life so deeply and beautifully I couldn’t imagine an existence without it.

So why does yoga change our lives so much?! 

When we step up to a mindfulness practice like yoga, we’re never just working with the physical body. This might be where most of us start, and it may even remain the primary part of our practice. But the physical body is a gateway, a medium, for working with so many other aspects of ourself.

Traditional yoga philosophy says we have five bodies or layers, not just the one physical body. Each time we step to the mat or cushion we’re working with all five layers of ourselves, and the ripple effect into all parts of life is undeniable.

The Five Layers of Ourselves

  1. The Physical Body — Annamaya Kosha koshas
  2. The Energy Body — Pranamaya Kosha
  3. The Mind Body — Manamaya Kosha
  4. The Wisdom Body — Visjnanamaya Kosha 
  5. The Bliss Body — Anandamaya Kosha 

Our most obvious or gross body is the physical body, the annamaya kosha. It’s our tissue, skin, organs, bones, blood, lymph. The matter that creates our form, carries us through space and performs our deeds or desires.

This the layer we often start with in yoga. Anna in Sanskrit means food, so this is also called our food body, and manifests into form all that we’re ingesting. The thing to remember about the yogic and Ayurvedic system’s is that we ingest not just through our mouth, but through all five of our senses (sight, taste, smell, sound, touch). So what we eat through our mouth, but also through our experiences, will be reflected in our physical body.

Through practice we’re aiming to create balance and get rid of stagnation. 

As we work with our physical form, increase awareness of what the body really needs for balance and move through the stagnation within it, we feel and process experiences and begin to notice which foods actually make us feel good.

The clearer and healthier our physical body gets the more we can sense the next more subtle layer called our pranamaya kosha, or the energy body. 

Prana in Sanskrit means energy, and when we work with breath in yoga it’s called pranayama. Breath is considered the carrier of life force energy through us. Seems logical, when we stop breathing we die.

The breath is also intrinsically related to our nervous system. When we’re triggered into a stress response the breathing become more shallow, when relaxed we breath deeper and more fully. While the nervous system state can effect the breath, so too can the breath influence our nervous system. Simply by taking deep breaths we trigger the “rest and relax” state, or parasympathetic nervous system, and this begins to elicit feelings of calm, peace and harmony.

As the body and breath begin to harmonize we’re able to observe and work with our next subtle layer, the mind body called the manamaya kosha. 

One of the greatest benefits of any breath body practice is that it calls the mind into the present moment.

Our mind loves time traveling into the future or past, but our breath and body only ever exist in the present. When we breath deeply and move it’s like we’re telling the mind, “Hey, pay attention, life is here and now!”

This starts to clear the mind body of it’s chattering, worrying, planning, regretting, anxiety building hobby of time traveling. And then we start to feel REALLY good!

When we balance mind, body and breath a quietness arises within us. 

In this quiet space that we’ve created through practice we’re able to hear more clearly the next subtle layer of ourselves, the wisdom body called the visjnanamaya kosha. 

Traditionally the mind, body and breath practices of yoga aim to ready us for meditation, and meditation is the ability to concentrate and connect to our highest self, our wisdom and the wisdom of the universe.

The more we do this the more our actions come from a place connectivity, we feel empowered, supported and clear about what we’re supposed to do. Living from this places improves our relationships, our creativity, our performance at work or sport. Really, it improves all aspects of our lives, and for me I’ve noticed it heightens my sense of purpose and ability to act on that purpose.

When we live in alignment with the wisdom in and around around us we feel blissful. 

The more we balance our body, breath and mind, listen to our wisdom and live from that place, naturally our last most subtle layer arises, our bliss body called the annandamaya kosha.

And this my friends is why yoga changes so many people’s lives for the better. That simple.

How has yoga changed your life and connected you to your bliss body? Give me shout for yoga! 

YOGA EVOLUTION 22:2

Find out more about the yoga lifestyle program I teach at Qi Yoga starting Feb 22 . Ready to have yoga change your life?! SIGN UP HERE