Monday, April 10, 2017

5 Reasons to go to a Yoga Festival by Mel Lotz

Yoga festivals are a special and sometimes life changing experience. I cannot wait to check out the numerous yoga festivals of North America: In summertime there is a yoga festival happening almost every weekend in the United States and Canada. These events can be pricey, yes. But they don’t have to be: Almost every festival offers selected classes and side-events for free. Most of them have spots open for volunteers that donate their time to support the festival team in exchange for attending classes for free. So, money considerations shouldn’t necessarily stand in the way.

If you are still not sure about whether a day-long yoga celebration is the right jam for you, here my top 5 reasons to at least give it a try.

Melanie Lotz
As teacher and student, Melanie is dedicated to the fluid and creative yoga practice of Laughing Lotus NYC. With a background in Modern and Contemporary Dance, somatic education like the Alexander Technique and Traditional Thai Massage, in her yoga classes the German native combines her love for healthy alignment with her passion to inspire a life full of expression, truth and love. Melanie wants to watch you become the most radiant and happy version of yourself. 

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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Three Steps to Receiving Love Now!

Most people think of Parvati or Radha when they think of love Gods, not Lord Ganesha. Me? I think of the elephant headed boy come to dissolve all obstacles. I think of Him because I know the truth, that love isn't lost and in need of finding. Love is everywhere and in everything, seemingly lacking often due to our own interference.

Rumi said it best: "Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it."

Ganesha is great for this! If you are troubling in love I encourage you to make this one change and see what happens. Instead of asking for God or Goddess to send your match or find your mate, ask Ganesha to help you relax your worries, remove your limitations and quiet your objections so that you can allow the love that is there in front of you to be seen, felt, and accepted within.

Limiting beliefs and deep seeded feelings of unworthiness are common in most of us and keep us from the love we deserve. Use these techniques to overcome those hinderances and get all the love you deserve. Check out the rest of the blog here to find the three easy steps to receiving love! 

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Recharge in the land of fairies, geysers and volcanoes by Thimo Wittich

Imagine 3280 foot high glaciers, volcanoes, wide land, black beaches, fairies and trolls. Standing there, you are surrounded by gush springs impressing you with their shooting water fountains, healing hot springs and fascinating polar lights. Iceland is less than 6 hours from New York, but there you find a whole different world with incredible nature, myths and such a rare energy.

Made of lava, ice, wind and water - Iceland offers you an unique experience which passes its origin and power onto you. Everyone who has been there knows that Iceland is enchanting.

A few highlights:

  • Biggest volcano-island (Sorry Big Island!)
  • Glaciers with Europe’s biggest ice volume
  • Europe’s most powerful waterfall

Forces of nature and energy describe Iceland most accurately. Thanks to its special geographic position - it’s on the american and on the eurasian tectonic plate - it is connected to hot rock mass from the earth’s core. And this is exactly what you can feel!

If that has not convinced you (yet!) to visit this extraordinary island, maybe the following reasons will! Look and see:

Iceland will seduce you with it’s breathtaking scenery and many surprises.

1. Volcanoes and glaciers

The pairing of volcanoes and glaciers is a rare wonder of nature. Nowhere else will you get to witness such an impressive connection of opposites. Fire and ice aren't just the elements of the nordic myths, they are still impressing us to this day.

2. Old legends and spirituality

Iceland is a mystical place and its residents believe in fairies, trolls and goblins. Their legends and tales are important and deeply rooted in the everyday life of Icelandic people.

3. Healing thermal springs

Iceland’s thermal springs have several benefits. Whether you jump right into a healing hot spring or bake your bread in the hot powerful earth, you will surely recharge your energy reserves here.

4. A place of confident women who follow their own ideal of beauty

“I wanted to use this opportunity to stand up for myself and the women on this planet, for young women”, said Arna Ýr Jónsdóttir Miss Island 2015 who rejected her attendance on the election of Miss Grand International. The host asked her to eat less. “It is okay to be yourself. If you like yourself, you should just say it.” We totally agree!
5. Stunning scenery you know from movies and tv-shows

Game of Thrones and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty are just two of many international movie and tv-show productions that know and use the beauty of the island.
6. Europe fell head over heels in love with Iceland in the summer of 2016

During the European Championship in 2016 it was Iceland who surprised us all. Their passionate spirit and win over England made the audience fall in love and the legendary chant gave goosebumps to every soccer-fan.  

Vacation in Iceland is a combination of sustainability and regeneration.

7. Iceland stands for alternative energies and green tourism.

Iceland is one big role-model when it comes down to renewable energy and decrease of Co2. The energy supply is made by geothermic and hydrothermic energy by 81 percent and provides for electricity, heat and transportation. Starting in the year 2050 Reykjavik wants to stop using fossil fuels.

Geothermic energy is not just supplying all buildings in the city, it is also responsible for heat in the houses and the many greenhouses, as well as street lightning. And of course the thermic heat provides for all the popular outdoor pools. You won’t find a better place to enjoy eco-tourism.

8.  On the trail of Jules Verne

“The journey to the center of the earth” begins with the entrance to Iceland’s volcano Snæfellsjökull. This is a story we all know of since childhood and it will clearly be the travel-read when you start the adventure of visiting Snæfellsjökull volcano yourself.

9. Wales, Iceland horses and puffins

Another fascinating aspect about Iceland is its animal kingdom. You get the chance to be with and ride on Icelandic horses, explore beautiful puffins and observe fascinating mink whales, porpoises, dolphins, finbacks, blue- and humpback whales. And maybe even the black and white marked grampus.  

If you are thinking about visiting Iceland and experiencing its amazing landscape and archaic original power - 2017 is the perfect time to do it!

Because the numbers of tourists, media attention, and word of mouth are striking, Iceland is getting more and more popular which means the time is limited to explore its raw uniqueness free of mass tourism.

The best time for an extraordinary journey is NOW!

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Resolutions are for losers. How I learned to WIN at life.

Success begets success. Confidence builds upon itself and guides a person toward her dreams which grow bigger and badder and braver until a fierce woman appears one day who we call grown. We wonder how she got there and may even try to follow her path, but it's not her path we need, it's her strategy and attitude. Those are the aspects we are never taught.  All we see is the win and perhaps some steps on the ladder, so we set goals and resolve to meet them, hoping to reach the big day when we feel we too have "made it". Inevitably we miss the mark, not able to keep our good intentioned resolutions and when that happens we punish ourselves or worse blame others. Then the cycle begins again, with a New Year or a birthday and our promise to do better at keeping those changes we've resolved to make permanent.

Many people are great at keeping their word when it comes to others, but fail horribly with the stories they tell themselves. The time has come to acknowledge where you have been letting yourself down and make a full stop. No resolutions please. Before you resolve to do a thing this year, you must ask yourself some real questions. One of those is going to be if the thing you are resolving to do is really something you believe in at all. I know your immediate reaction is that ‘of course it is’, but if you have resolved at this change before and failed, you may not be as sure of your reasons as you think you are. This is dangerous territory. Know for sure, that any doubts (even subconscious) (even teeny tiny small) will show up as excuses to quit later. 

The next question you'll have to ask yourself is if the changes you are trying to make aren’t because of outside influence. This is more difficult to discern then it seems. Societal and familial pressures are strong and start early and have the tendency to naw at us making us think fulfillment comes in one size fits all packages which often include two and a half babies, one house, and one secure career choice. As much as we may think those are the things we deeply and truly desire, there may be something deeper we really want which is being drowned out by those ingrained messages and sending mixed signals to our internal guiding, true north manifestation system.

Instead of trusting what others say, know that to appreciate that some aspect of your life isn’t working, you need to feel it in all its uncomfortableness deeply and fully. You need to sit in the icky awkward stench of your own messy choices before trying to change anything. Until you fully realize how much they've not been working for you, those choices will repeat.

For example, instead of resolving to start yet another diet this January, just eat as you eat, but more consciously. Notice the way you really feel when you overeat. Refuse to run away from it, sleep through it, or cover it up. Recognize without shame the way your body and clothing feel when you’ve not taken care of yourself. Be real. This practice of adding consciousness can transform any negative behavior. We don’t need punishments, we just need recognition of what is present. Do I like this feeling?
We don’t need rewards either, especially those "treats" that are really “cheats” and not in line with our goals. Those are not rewards. Let the feeling of accomplishment be the reward itself. Bask in the glory of your success. Tell people. Brag. Feel how good it feels to be a person who knows herself and honors herself by being truthful and accountable. When you are secure in this, then, and only then, set the bar a little higher, still totally reachable, and repeat. 

Only make deals you can win. It's that simple. Otherwise we teach ourselves that we don’t do the things we resolve to and create a habit of failure we call “trying”. This kind of attempt steeps into our subconscious the story that we lie to ourselves, don’t complete our actions, fail. The more this is repeated, the easier it becomes to accept and the harder to turn around.

For these reasons it is of maximum importance that we only make promises that we are guaranteed to keep, especially those we make to ourselves. Start small and build as your confidence builds. 

Wins rewarded spiral and repeat just like failures punished. Soon you will have taught yourself the habit of success and you will be able to set the bar to heights you never imagined. I know, because I did it and I won. I beat eating poorly, financial woes, built a home, traveled the world, and continue to set the bar higher and higher because I know now, fully and truly by actual provable examples that I can do whatever I put my mind to and that it is the knowing that makes it all possible. You have to build believability in self. 

Do mistakes come? Sure. It’s how we handle them that makes all the difference. They are to be brushed off quickly as a part of life and never ever used as an excuse to dump the whole resolve. The better you get at this, the better you’ll get at winning and that's the goal, not a resolution, winning at life!

*Want to learn more about strategies for keeping goals? Attend my Train Your Brain Vision Board course this January! Register at this link.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

You Can Ask For Travel!

As many of you know, I've been off the grid for awhile, enjoying my 11th trip to India, and 10th to study specifically with my teacher, Ashtanga Yoga Guru Sharathji. It was an eye-opening experience, as it always is, to be with him and to immerse myself in Indian culture. What I didn't expect, were the ways it would open my eyes to the whole world and to help me see myself more clearly as a woman raised in the American system. It was the European students especially this trip that gave me my greatest lessons and helped me to truly feel world perspective as I went through the American presidential election from abroad.

World perspective is invaluable and deeply difficult to achieve wrapped as we are in our life-long cultures. It is the gift of open-hearted, regular travel. It is a present I realize now more than ever is essential and one which trumps any material item tucked under festive bush or tree.

It was with that spirit fresh in my bones that sat down to write my latest piece, published yetserday in Elephant Journal about how to ask for travel as your gift this holiday season. I hope you will take a look and that it will inspire you to join me in Iceland this August or travel anywhere you gravitate to in 2017!

Full Elephant Journal article :

Iceland Retreat travel details:

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

It's Fall! Make a Vision Board!

Did you think vision boarding was January? I bet some of you thought right before the new year. You aren’t off, but you could be even more ON! Reworking, writing, seeing your life’s vision is an ongoing affair. As we change (and we change a lot) doorways for new potential open up for us. If we don’t take a moment (or two) to re-evaluate outside our linear minds, we may miss that something has shifted.

I vision board using the Feng Shui Bagua!

Summed up tips for vision boarding:
1. Keep your visions alive by working on them seasonally.
2. Meditate before you create.
3. Go big and bold with colors, images, and words that excite you.
4. Create pictures of your story along the way!
5. Make it all your own!

To Read Step by Step How to Make a Vision Board that Really Works Check out My Latest Blog!

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Maintaining a Long Termed Practice

photo credit: Renee Choi

You may think it's hard to practice in the beginning when the body is tight, but it's easy compared to what happens when the growth spurt has past and it seems like nothing is happening. That is why a strategy for long-termed practice is so important. I spoke on this topic for Land Yoga's Five Year Anniversary Chai Talk. These are the notes from that talk.

Patangali says in yoga sutra 1.14 "sa tu dirghakala nairantarya satkara asevitah drdhabhumih" that in order for practice to be effective it should be long termed, without interruption, and devotional.

Long-Termed means for the course of the life-time (and future life-times) until Enlightenment is attained. Any practitioner will tell you it's the accumulation of years of practice that brings the immense benefits. It's widely recognized that the base of the practice is the first ten years and I've even heard Sharath say that's how long a student should wait before teaching.

Uninterrupted means of course without starting and stopping. The point of the practice is the practice which means we put our whole energy in and let go of expecting any specific results. Understanding and accepting this concept of non-attachment helps with not taking a "break" from practice when we aren't getting certain expected results. We invest in the process.

Most people take their first break from practice due to illness. One shouldn't practice the physical aspects of Ashtanga yoga if one has fever.  (Other issues like colds and injuries can be practiced around.) It's important to know that your physical practice may need to be modified or shortened during certain periods because of life circumstance. This shouldn't stop you from getting on the mat.

The danger around taking a break even for fever is that the pause from practice causes that little window of dullness to open, sending us down a dangerous cycle. It's amazing how even a short break in routine can knock years of habit off course! Patanjai explains it well by listing the predictable obstacles that get in the way of practice:

Illness - Dullness - Doubt
Negligence - Laziness - Cravings
Misperceptions - Loss of Resolve - Instability

You can see how these lead one to the next until the practitioner finds herself moving backward. 

The antidote to the obstacles is one pointed focus. Knowing about them in advance will also help  the practitioner be prepared and be able to identify when then they are activated sooner.  This will help her to avoid a long slump. Patanjali suggests cultivating faith,  putting great energy toward your goal, using your memory, having deep concentration, and developing crystal clear discrimination to help you to avoid obstacles. (y.s. 1:20) These characteristics will make it easy for you to know when you are not in practice because your mind has cunningly taken you off track verses because you are truly ill. 

Starting practice over and over is painful and much harder than cultivating an ongoing habit. To help avoid interruptions of practice, understand early on what kind of practitioner you are: mild, medium, or intense, and practice accordingly in respect to your energy expenditure and time. It's much better to commit to a medium level, short daily practice each day that you can promise to maintain for a lifetime than to go full force and burn out in two weeks. Think long term and know yourself! That is what the practice will teach you anyway. 

Devotional means offering up your practice in service to the Highest Good, and knowing that it isn't about you at all. You've been called to the practice and so you must do it. Once touched, a practitioner will always hear the call to come back.  It's much easier to know and remember that and never stop than to stop and start again. If it isn't feeling great or looking great, that doesn't matter because the goal is to be unattached to the results of the practice and focus only on the energy we bring to it. Each day is a new day and I look at my arms in wonder as they lift up over my head and give thanks. Finding and remembering that feeling of gratitude that came easily early on will help you too when challenges arise later. 

Just like we shower, sleep, and brush our teeth each day, so do we practice, because it is what we do. The practice is like an internal shower, releasing unprocessed emotions and setting us free to experience the now without forgone conclusions. As we move through our practice year after year the distractions will change and different challenges will arise, but as long as we know we are in till the end, we will never take those hurdles too seriously. Just knowing you are committed makes each challenge not even a blip along the way to enlightenment. 

For more helpful tips on practice a living your best life, make sure to check out my main website and blog