New Light In The New Year!

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This year has proven that the balance of light and dark is always moving. Politically we close a "summer" of enlightened leadership, and tomorrow we'll enter a "winter" where the leadership holds few of our values. This means we are on our own. But when the lights go out, we reach out more intentionally to find each others' hands to hold.

I have seen and felt a remarkable shift since the election of like minded people coming together, opening their hearts more, and realizing how much we really need each other. I trust the process of the universe, and I know that although this seems like frightening darkness, it is an awakening of sorts. The more unstable our external structures become, the more strong we become inside ourselves.

Please do not let despair taint your entrance into this new day. We are the light. And we will shine brighter than ever, together. Remember, for light to exist, there must be darkness.

This is the perfect time to dive deeper into your yoga practice and uncover your own strength, wisdom and Intuition. It's perfect timing that Deepen the Flow starts on January 21st. This will be a powerful journey to the depths of your soul. One which will bring you close to a group of incredible people. You'll create unshakable bonds and see things from a new perspective of abundance and empowerment. I hope you'll join me, it's going to be a beautiful three weeks.

Namaste,
Ella

Receive



 I was at an amazing dance party this week, dancing my ass off, shaking out tension, and feeling connected to my soul again. There was a moment, when I needed a break, and some water, and before jumping back in, I just stood at the edge of the room.

I often forget that I am being given to, all the time.
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Looking at everyone dancing, and the dj laying out the vibe for us. I lingered for a while there. Receiving. "It's not all about me," I thought. "Get out of looking inward, and see all that's overflowing from others." I received the gift of all these people willing to let go, be themselves, and express with their bodies. I received the dj's intention to provide uplifting rhythm and tone. I took it all in, and felt the awesome gift of this experience.
 
As hard workers, passionate creators, and seekers of the good life, we are often in a mode of thinking, processing, talking, knowing... This month, I invite you to remember how to open up and receive.

We hang out with a friend and receive their time and attention, we take the train and receive a cool ride through a tunnel too our destination, we go to a party and receive a celebration, we go home for the holidays and receive a warm re-connection to the source of our creation.

When we can see all that we receive we become overflowing with the feeling of abundance and gratitude, and for a second, just one moment, we forget about ourselves and all we want and work for, and haven't gotten yet. We just let it in, and that is a really good feeling.

This holiday, there are so many gifts besides the ones that are wrapped. Open your eyes and hearts and receive. :)

November Theme: Courage

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Courage comes up from the deepest depths of my soul. It is something I do not need often, so when I do, it feels foreign, hidden. I can’t remember where I put it, or how it feels to use it. I spend a lot of time resisting the action that requires it, because in darkness, I doubt I have enough.  

Courage is not entirely my own. I own the seeds, and breathe life into it, but it gains strength from the eye-light donated by friends.  

Courage comes at a time when no evidence gives me cause to believe, and no map directs my steps. I curl my toes into new earth, I turn to face a new will, I move from the call of an unheard of wind. Courage gives me weight and vision from inside a black out dust storm that I have conjured.

And so my old friend, though you are always there, it is only a few times in my life that I need you to stand tall inside me and flood my arms and legs and voice with the richest blood from my heart.

I need you now. It has been years. Please come up and fill the space between the comfortable old and unlit new. I will look for the gazes that feed you, I will breathe full and pound my heart, and you will clarify my reflection in the mirror.

-Ella Luckett

October Theme: Generosity

How do we incorporate the generosity we find on our mats with the outside world?  Personally, when I set intentions for my practice, I often set personal intentions. At the end of class I like to encourage myself
and my students to appreciate the self-care, generosity and compassion found on the mat. With that, I like to encourage the idea or "plant the seed" of noticing that we all crave that same kind of care. This feeds into allowing yourself to be generous in your own practice so you can be generous with that same care and compassion to others.

October is filled with so much closing in - the dying leaves around us, the cold weather - that we
often relate to the same closing and coldness. This theme brings a positive light to a month that could use more generosity.

-Rein Short

September Theme: Trust

Each time I think of trust, I end up traveling inward. One of the greatest gifts that my practice of yoga has given to me, is to find trust within myself, both on and off the mat. It took me many years of practice, with many wonderful teachers who repeatedly expressed this idea to me in a variety of ways, but for so long it didn't sink it. I seemed to unconsciously fight against the concept that nobody else knows me like I do.

Nobody else knows me like I do.

And then it finally made sense... Nobody else knows how a pose feels in my body. Nobody else knows how my breath feels in my body. Nobody else feels the connection between the two: my body and my breath. Nobody else's. It took me a long time to understand this, and an even longer time for me to begin to believe this - to trust myself!

Once I discovered this sense of trust in myself, I opened up a whole new way of seeing myself from the inside-out. I opened myself up to explore my physical practice and to explore the other layers underneath the shell. A shell and layers that nobody else can know the way I do, by trusting myself.

-Molly Drazin

August Theme: Slow

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Okay, New Yorkers, admit it: yogi or not, we’ve all had evil thoughts about that unwitting tourist we end up walking behind down the subway stairs. Even if you’re not running to get somewhere on time, New York trains you to have a certain gait that outpaces most all other people on the planet. Yeah, we live in that city.  What’s cool about it is we get more done in a minute than many do in an hour, but that speed catches up with you when you get to the end of your day and you can’t slow down or shut down. So we come to yoga and meditation to balance it all out.

A few weeks ago, an old knee injury started acting up again. I was in a great deal of pain. The only thing that would work to not aggravate it was to not go anywhere (not an option), or walk really really slowly. Slower than even the most relaxed person living in the deep south on the hottest day of the year. Yeah, that slow.

You can imagine what an odd thing it was to slow down that much. As a New Yorker, I was careful to move out of the way as the typical Ferrari-paced person needed to pass. But almost right away, I started to really enjoy myself. As I walked down a street in Brooklyn, I looked up at the sky, took in the breeze, and noticed the colors on the buildings.  Then something else started to happen. My brain waves became smooth. Not slow, or spacey, actually smooth and clear. All of the stuff on my mind stopped rattling around in a disorderly jumble and started to organize itself like rambunctious kids who finally found their place on stage in the school play.  Something else happened. I heard my breath. I was actually breathing all the way down into my lungs the way I do and teach every day in yoga.

Thich Naht Hahn, a world renowned spiritual leader, guides a beautiful meditation called the “Walking Meditation.” I’ve shared it to many students when we go to the ashram and are walking through the fresh green forest. But I’ve never done it in the city. I could feel my pulse slow, I could feel my cortisol (stress hormone) levels dropping, and my eyes began to see the world through a shine as when I’m in yoga class, or out in nature.

For all the philosophical perspectives I’ve learned and taught to buffer our sensitive systems from metropolitan madness, this very odd, accidental practice had more real physical and mental affect than any of them. Once again, I’m shown that our injuries can be wonderful teachers.

Studies show that slowing down, for even just a small period of time, has been correlated with better decision making, higher levels of creativity, and increased problem solving skills. Taking it slow can also increase our attunement to each other, causing a positive effect on our relationships. In their book “How Words Change your Brain” authors Andrew Newberg and  Mark Robert introduce the practice of Slow Speech. In my yoga class this week I had students take a few minutes to tell a partner about a current challenge in their life speaking one word at a time, at a pace of about half as fast as we usually speak. Students reported feeling a sense of ease surrounding a problem that had been causing them stress, and also a greater appreciation and connection to the person they were listening to.

That day on the sidewalk, my friend who was meeting me for dinner had seen me coming from the restaurant window. When I got there she laughed and said she’d knew better than to wonder if I’d taken drugs, but that’s still what it looked like. I laughed too. “No, no drugs," I told, her, "just trying out a little bit of “slow.”


-Ella Luckett





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Transitions by Danielle Hernandez

Transitions

It's so easy to get wrapped up in our next step that we forget to enjoy the moment of taking that step. For me, my morning commute is a perfect example. I jump on the train, and all I am thinking about is getting to work. It's almost as if my mind is already at work and I'm just waiting for my body to arrive to join. I am not present in this moment. The act of getting to work is equally as important as being at work. Every moment in our lives is important as another. Every breath has a meaning- we are here, and with every step we arrive. Rushing through and thinking ahead just causes us anxiety and stress.

It's ok to look forward to something but it's important to enjoy the time in between. Just because there is somewhere else we would rather be doesn't mean that is where we need to be. Stay present!

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July Theme: Transitions

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Transitions by Ella Luckett

 
In the vinyasa flow practice we move from one posture to the next linking them with vinyasa and breath.  Focus on the poses is like focusing only on a photograph of your favorite day at the beach instead of breathing it in while you are there and absorbing the full serene, warmth and ocean air around you.

It’s like when tourists get so focused on getting a good selfie picture at the top of something magnificent, like Machu Pichu, that they don’t settle in, get quiet, and take in the glory of the site before them.

This month we are focused on the “In between space.” The little moments in between the glorious ones.  You might be going along in your practice focused on the postures themselves. You might focus on alignment, sensation, breath, and meditation while in the posture itself, but are you able to carry that through the transitions? Now, we’ll take our practice to the next level where we put energy into maintaining that meditative mind, qualitative breath and smooth body motion in the little moments between.

Enter in a little bit of “savoring.” Draw the sweetness you feel in the postures into the moments between them. A languid journey from Tadasana (Mountain pose, standing simply at the top of your mat) as you spread your arms wide and float and fly down to your forward fold.  Seeing the full long inhale as you step forward and rise up into High lunge.  Let your mind be fully engaged the entire time in the liquid, steadiness of breath, the clear and open mind, and a breath filled body.  In these little transitions our practice goes from a set of postures to a full embodiment of yoga’s “Bhav” or spiritual “mood.”

Then, when we bring it off the mat we go from relishing in only the highest moments, to being fully present through all of life. So if you currently in some kind of great transition breathe through each moment, and stay present through it all, no matter how frazzled it seems at times. If this isn’t a month of transition for you, then notice the little moments from here to there, the small transitions from work to play, what are the details of your life around you? Are you breathing through all of it?

Vinyasa is the linking of all the little moments into one big bouquet. Even the flowers that seem too small to matter, collectively make the vision.

Click here for a little clip where Robin Williams explains: “The Good Stuff.”

June Theme: Ascending the Summit

With yoga we have to always remember it’s a balancing swing. The release of attachment to results is the medicine to those held in the clutches of misery when they don’t get what they want. But we can’t hover at the front crest of the swing, any more then we can hover at the back end. Meaning, complacency is as much an obstacle to a free and happy life as anything. It’s the attachment to being unattached! Read More

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May Theme: Dvesa



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Dvesa is an obstacle (klesha) in the way of freedom. It is our avoidance of pain. I noticed during the spring month of April that I had a  lot of internal rules that helped steer me clear of things which even remotely reminded me of past pain or echoed possibility of pain. I'm, at times, too good at learning. Having built up a stockade of "don'ts" I realized this month it was time to tear them down and let myself walk into fires that once burned me. Testing my new layers of unshakable peace and love. You know what? I have learned how much I've grown, how much courage has built up under my scabs, and now I no longer need those thick shells to feel protected. Life is richer, more open, and I am grateful for every new experience, welcoming it in whether it carries potential for pain or not. 

--Ella Luckett


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