Who is in Charge?

I am reposting this article with permission from My Life Yoga blog on the ego and our illusion of reality, enjoy!

Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn’t mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a total mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Pettry amzanig huh?

The above paragraph illustrates that we do not read by assembling letters into words from left to right. Instead we use forecasting to predict what a jumble of letters means. This allows us to read fast and correct for errors.

The key idea here is that forecasting is central to how we function. This is not limited to just reading but pretty much everything we do. The central aspect of forecasting is that it needs a model. A model is an idea of how something works. Once the model is in place we can input a limited number of details and simulate the rest. When we read the words in the first paragraph we are able to simulate the words in the original sentence through the model of English Language in our head. Somebody who is not a native English speaker may find it hard to read the first paragraph because the English model in his head may not be very good.

When sight is restored to somebody who has been blind since birth, he does not immediately begin to “see”. All he sees is fuzzy formless light. It may take months, if not years before normal seeing commences. This is because the person has no model for vision. Only once this is built can normal sight work. When we look around the room we do not scan every part of the room starting with the top left corner zigzagging down. Instead we take in the details of a few spots and simulate the rest using our in-built model for sight.

So here are some details of the models in our head:

1. Our models may not be perfect but they work.
2. Our models may work but they are not complete.

Some philosophers have suggested that since our perception of reality is based on simulation of imperfect models that all reality that we perceive is merely illusory. This may be not be an appropriate way of interpreting this discussion. The models in our head are pretty good because they work and reliably allow us to navigate the world.

However, we must not go to the other extreme. Just because these models work, in the current context, we must not assume that these model represent reality completely. These models are just good enough for our species to survive and get by. For example we do not see in the ultra-violet or infrared spectrum. We are completely oblivious to that portion of reality. In fact the model of reality in our head is like the tip of the iceberg. What we know and perceive is vastly undermined by what we are ignorant and oblivious of. For example, who knows how a whale percieves the world?

Similar to the models of the external world we also have a model of our internal selves. This model of ourselves is termed as an ego. Just like we think that the model of external reality is complete we are fooled into believing that we are our egos.

Our ego is not our complete self. It is at best a very incomplete model of ourselves in our head. The journey of yoga is a journey into a deeper dive into ourselves. It is a journey of discovery of that portion of us that lies beyond the ego. In fact the root of most of our problems lies in the subtle belief that we are our ego and the interest of our ego and our deeper selves is the same. We spend every moment of our conscious experience as captives of our ego-identity. We think, emote, and act on behalf of our ego, little knowing that we are spending our lives at the service of a wrong master.

The journey of discovery of our identity beyond our ego is not an easy one but it may be the most important journey we may undertake. After all who wants to spend a lifetime as a slave of something only to realize that it was all in vain?

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10 Reasons You Should Smile For Your Health

Before you put on a frown, make absolutely sure there are no smiles available.  ~ Jim Beggs

Ever see someone who’s face reads “Please check your cheerfulness at the door”? Deep frown lines, eyes that bore holes when they look at you, and a face that would make the Grinch squirm?

So how does one end up waking up one morning with a face that growls at everyone it meets?  I must admit I have always been a little afraid that I might cross the line of crankiness and wakeup looking like a grouch. So far so good.

I often smile at strangers when passing on the street. It’s the small town girl in me, I can’t help it. When I’m lucky they grin back. Sometimes however they’ll shoot me a look that says they’d rather pull a hamstring than smile back. It’s as if they are genuinely pissed off that someone has the nerves to smile at them. Other times they observe me as if I am an alien life form come to invade their angry planet. And of course there are ones who only manage to curl up one side of their mouth. Sure, it’s technically a sneer, but I imagine it  is a smile trying to get out.

So what’s my yogic point here? Smiling is important, it’s basically yoga for your face. Those cheeks need a grin like your leg muscles need downward dog. Studies show that there are many mental, emotional and social benefits from smiling. It reduces stress, makes you happier, and makes the opposite sex find you more attractive. (Go gettem’ tiger!)

A few more smile motivating facts..

  1. If you can’t smile at least try not to frown. Studies show that adults who get Botox for their frown lines report feeling less depression after the procedure. I am not suggesting you go get botox, but there is clearly a mind-face connection at work.
  2. Smiles are more attractive than makeup: A recent studies show that 69% of people find women more attractive when they smile than when they are wearing makeup.
  3. Smiling makes you memorable. You are 3 time more likely to remember the person that is smiling over the one that is wearing a negative or neutral expression.
  4. Smiling improves the way others see you.  72% of people think of those who smile often as being more confident and successful.
  5. Smiling helps You make new friends. 86% of people say that they are more likely to strike up conversations with strangers if they are smiling.
  6. Even a fake smile will lift your mood.  Your body releases endorphins Serotonin, Dopamine and Morphine when you smile. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that reduces fear and worry. Dopamine squashes negative emotions. Morphine is a powerful pain-killer. Enjoy the natural high!
  7. Smiling at others is a way to show Ahimsa (non-violence). A smile is a non-verbal way to communicate non-violence. Scientists have found that smiles reduce aggression in both the giver and the receiver.
  8. Smiling makes you healthier. Smiling activates the central nervous System and boosts your immune system. It lowers your blood pressure, regulates your heartbeat, and enhances respiration. Those lil’ guys the white blood cells (Leukocytes) activate as well! They are on the front lines attacking foreign bacteria, viruses, and toxins keeping you disease free!
  9. Fake smiling can lead to genuine smiling and real happiness. Fake smile for 20 seconds for seven (7) days, and it creates a neural pathway in your brain.Continue for 21 consecutive days and fake smiling becomes hardwired into your brain becoming a genuine smile!
  10. Happy people live 9 years longer than unhappy ones.
Keep smiling!
“Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

What is Your Prominent Chakra? A Yoga Quiz (and my results)

The 7 yoga chakrasHere is a pretty cool (and long) quiz to determine what chakra is the most open. I think these are fun, and apparently you all do as well! Click HERE to take the quiz!

You Scored as Sahasrara (Crown of Head/Conciousness/Beliefs)The seventh chakra, named Sahasrara, is located at the crown of the head. It is the gateway to the universal energy and a spiritual life. The color of this chakra is white, or iridescent, integrating all the colors of the other six chakras. The element of this chakra is thought. Thought is used as a vehicle for increasing the levels of self-awareness and conciousness. In the seventh chakra, all the aspects of the spiritual being are integrated. By increasing one’s awareness of the power of the mind, one becomes more concious of who they are and how they create an open channel to connect with spiritual energy. The seventh chakra is about being open, expansive, present, and embracing the web of the universe. It is here that one opens to the experience of the meaning of spiritual bliss.

Sahasrara (Crown of Head/Conciousness/Beliefs)
99%
Svadhisthana (Sacral/Desire/Creativity)
91%
Muladhara (Root /Survial/Attitude)
91%
Anahata (Heart/Relationships/Love)
88%
Vishuddha (Throat/Communication/Creativity)
85%
Ajna (Forehead/Third Eye/Intuition)
76%
Manipura (Solar Plexus/Personal Power)
74%

“Heavenly Hips and Core” Full Length Online Yoga Class Via Yogis Anonymous Website

Yogis Anonymous online videos get mention in magazine
Here is a link to my online yoga class Class is ALL LEVELS Vinyasa Flow emphasis on plenty of core, hip-opening and sprinkled with some tasty inversions! Enjoy!
Check out SHAPE magazine, they ran an article about great online yoga sources and Yogis Anonymous was right at the top!

A Yoga Practice For Beginners

Here is a simple sequence for Beginners, enjoy!

yoga for beginners

Savasana – start with long slow deep breaths
Eka Pada Apanasana (Pull one knee to chest)
Apanasana (Both knees to chest)
Roll to side to sit up
Cat and Cow pose
Child’s pose
Child’s pose reach hands forward
Down Dog (Feet as wide as mat and knees bent, reach through sitbones. Lengthen lower back)
Child’s pose
Down Dog
Child’s pose
Down Dog
Low Lunge with back knee down
Down Dog
Low Lunge with back knee down
Down Dog
Walk hands to the back of mat
Uttanasana
Hands to hips and come up with a flat back
Tadasana
Tadasana reach hands up
Sun Salutation A x 2
Step out with right foot and face sideways on mat
Warrior 2 each side
Triangle pose each side
Prasarita Padottanasana A
Prasarita Padottanasana C
Prasarita Padottanasana Twist with hands on blocks
Tadasana
Surya A
Down Dog
Drop knees to mat and come to seated on mat
Dandasana seated on a folded blanket to elevate hips
Marichyasna C
Lie down onto mat on belly
Salabhasana x 2
Lie on back on mat
Bridge Pose x 2
Apanasana (Knees to chest)
Easy Twist (Take arms out to sides, drop knees to one side look to the other side and then switch)
Happy Baby Pose
Thread the Needle
Supta Padangusthasana (use a strap)
Savasana

How do we know our Chakras are opened? (via Tirisula Yoga’s Blog)

This article on the Chakras really helps to simplify a rather hard question. The Chakras may seem very esoteric and foreign at first, but this article really helps you to explore your own inner landscape with a few simple inquiries. Enjoy!

The word Chakra comes from an ancient Indian language known as Sanskrit, chakra means vortex, spinning wheel or circle. Chakras are the major centres of spiritual power in the human body and are circles of energy, which balance, store and distribute the energies of life all through our physical body along the subtle body. The subtle body is the non-physical body or also known as our soul or spirit, which overlays our physical body. The belief in … Read More

via Tirisula Yoga’s Blog

What is a SMART Yoga Flow?

Annie Carpenter Smart Flow Lab at Exhale center for sacred movement in venice california

If you do not know the answer to that question don’t feel too bad, neither did I before I met Annie Carpenter.

The body does have a safe and logical way in which it can be opened.

That being said, there is also an unsafe and illogical way in which some people approach the yoga practice.

In fact there are many…

Two words…

It Hurts!

Yoga shouldn’t hurt.

So how do you practice in a safe way?

In the hands of a knowledgeable teacher who cares about your body, and will guide you along your path.

Annie has countless years of training, teaching, and sharing this information in a concise way. She is my mentor and I learn from her daily!

(Yes, I said daily!)

How?

Long after leaving her class (and even years later) stuff will start to reveal itself, like “Ahah, so that’s why she told me to stretch my psoas muscles because it was pulling on my hip,”…I will have these little momments of discovery about what she was able to see in two minutes of looking at my body. (funny how that works when it may take me years!)

I highly recommend you go see Annie at her new home at Exhale Center For Sacred Movement in Venice, CA and see for yourself.

I will be heading over there to visit her at her new yoga studio home tonight at 7:30pm for her evening class so perhaps I will see you there!

Below I cut and pasted her info for you guys. See you in class!

Yoga Teacher Training Group with Master Teacher Annie Carpenter
Assisting Annie Carpenter in Sydney Australia for a Yogaworks 200 Hr Training

Pranayama and Meditation class starts this Sunday!

8-9am may seem early, but breathing and sitting in community every week is a powerful way to move your practice forward.

Also, this Sunday is the second YogaLAB. We’ll be awakening the core and activating mula and uddiyana bandha. From 2-4pm.

This Summer:

July 1-11 and August 1-12

SmartFLOW yoga celebrates the innate intelligence of juicy, flowing movement. This training is for anyone who wants to take their practice to a new level: teachers, future teachers, and lovers of yoga. Please feel free to email me if you have any questions.

For information about registering, click here.

Here’s my permanent Exhale schedule:

monday

10:30am-12:00pm (2/3)

tuesday

9:00-10:30am (2/3)

7:30-9:00pm (2)

thursday

9:00-10:30am (2/3)

7:30-9:00pm (2)

friday

10:30am-12:00pm (2/3)

sunday

8:00-9:00am — pranayama and meditation

9:00-10:30am (2)

Annie’s YogaLAB Series

May 16, 2010 – this Sunday!

2:00-4:00pm – To the Core

May 30, 2010

2:00-4:00pm – Backbending and The Happy Sacrum

exhale.com for more information.

I look forward to seeing you soon.

Love and peace, and joyous spring!

Annie

Upcoming Travel Schedule

June 4-6, 2010

Midwest Yoga Conference

Bloomingdale, IL

http://www.midwestyoga.com

July 30-August 1, 2010

Wanderlust Festival

Lake Tahoe, CA

http://www.wanderlust.com

September 10-12, 2010

Bhakti Fest

Joshua Tree, CA

http://www.bhaktifest.com

Sugar: It May Be Cute but It’s Not Innocent

sweethearts cupcakes with sprinklesWords I repeat over and over in my head as I scurry quickly past the window full of beautiful, sweet and not so-innocent-looking cupcakes. Thank god for Manduka mats they make such excellent cupcake shields. Do you think they may want that for their next ad compaign?

” Yoga teacher and Manduka ambassador Angela Kukhahn pioneered the way to better health after dicovering that covering ones eyes with the Manduka Black Mat while in the prescence of sugary delights greatly reduced ones chances of  shoveling a cupcake into ones mouth while walking to yoga class.”

Manduka Mats also make great ‘sugar shields’, who knew?…simply, Brilliant!

Why sugar is bad (further evidence that Mrs Beasley and the devil may be in cahoots…as I always suspected…)

I gleaned some info from the author of this website macrobiotics.co.uk/sugar.htm

Of all the foods consumed today, refined sugar is considered to be one of the most harmful

Sugar contains no fiber, no minerals, no proteins, no fats, no enzymes,… only empty calories.

  • To digest sugar ‘borrows’ from your perfectly healthy cells since it is void of enzymes and nutrients leaving your body robbed of the building blocks of good health. (This is no Robin Hood think Cat Bugular…)
  • Likewise, the teeth are affected and they lose their components until decay occurs and hastens their loss.
  • Sugar is highly acidic creating a breeding ground for disease in the body
  • Sugar causes toxic waste to accumulate int the blood, the body and the brain speeding up cellular death.
  • Sugar makes the blood very thick and sticky, inhibiting much of the blood flow into the minute capillaries.
  • Sugar eventually causes Diabetes when the  pancreas can no longer produce adequate insulin. Diabetes is what happens when the poor ‘lil ‘ol pancreas throws in the towel. I can just see a my ‘lil pancreas marching in a stomping its angry ‘lil pancreas foot saying “I have had it with you and Yogurtland! One more episode and I’m outta here!” (Not that i like Yogurtland that much or anything, I mean I am just saying…)
  • Sugar leaves you with that “tired” feeling when the pancreas releases too much insulin. (Wow sounds fun…Good times!..not!)
  • Sugar causes and upset in the minerals in the body causing gallstones.
  • Sugar causes a variety of mental problems. Our brains are very sensitive and react to quick chemical changes within the body. It leads to a confused mental state and has also been linked with juvenile criminal behavior.
  • Men, Yoga and Relationships

    Man in tree pose on top of car for manduka yoga mats

    Although most yoga classes are made up of predominately women, the landscape is starting to shift. These days about 30 – 50 % of the people coming to classes are Men. Regardless of its stereotype in the west, yoga was created by men for men.

    Although most of the guys I know may have introduced to yoga by a woman friend, they found that they enjoyed it, and continued to come, sometimes even after the relationship ended. Men may initially think they will not be able to relate to a form of excersize that is not a sport, or goal oriented. However, they may find they enjoy the community that a yoga classes provides.

    Men as they age tend to meet fewer new friends than women and that can be isolating. Yoga classes provide a enviroment in wich they have the opportunity to know themselves in a deeper way, as well as become a part of a community of like minded individuals.

    Yoga is all about relationships, internal as well as external.

    How completely we understand and relate to ourselves has a huge impact on how we relate to others. Men may find that through regular yoga practice they begin to connect more deeply to their intuition and emotions. This deeper connection to their own emotions, has a positive impact on all of their relationships, intimate or otherwise.

    Yoga not only connects us to our bodies and breath, but also to the people we love, our communities, and finally the world at large!