Yoga Date- Convention Center Style

On Saturday I went on a “Yoga Date” with a friend of mine. We are both yoga teachers, and mothers, so usually our hang outs are with our children, and include diapers, trips to go “pee pee”, occasional tantrums, and conversations about how yoga has helped save us from complete and total mental breakdown. “I felt like I was going to pull out all my hair and then I did some  sun salutations and now I feel completely renewed.”

My friend Melissa, who teaches Paddleboard Yoga, had a couple of free tickets to an event in Fort Lauderdale called the “Yoga Expo”. I usually avoid the big festivals and events, preferring to practice alone, or outside, but free tickets and a kid free date with my friend, was something I was really looking forward to.

We met up early in the morning and after pushing through some heavy traffic and getting a little lost, we arrived at the  Fort Lauderdale Convention Center.

On the ride down, I drank both coffee and a coconut water. Not a good idea. Because when we pulled into the parking garage, my full bladder was about to explode. There was no way I could make it all the way to the crowded bathrooms!! We giggled and I nervously found a place  in the parking garage to squat down and empty my bladder. Parking garage yoga-malasana pose! My friend shielded me with a yoga mat.. I joked that we would get arrested, and all the yogis would talk about the peeing yoga teacher in the parking garage. We didn’t get arrested. And I felt so much better.

At the expo, we were surrounded by  a few thousand yoga practitioners. Everyone walking around with yoga mats, going from class to class, shopping, and eating “yoga” food. After checking it out and feeling a little overwhelmed, it was time to practice. The event was huge, offering 6 to 7 classes every hour. All day. The classes were packed. Flourescent lighting. We were doing downward facing dog to Beyonce, Pitbull, and some very weird songs about heartbreak.

To be honest, it was hard not to “judge” the experience. The place. The Yoga fashion trend.  The noise! It was so loud.  Once again, I was presented with a big lesson. Tame the mind. Yogananda  wrote that in his early training, his teacher wanted him to go  deep into meditation, but Yogananda was being swarmed by mosquitos. He kept swatting them, getting agitated, and could not meditate. His teacher sat there looking peaceful, deep in meditation, unphased by the mosquitos. His teacher told him to train his mind.

It is easy to relax the mind when in a peaceful setting. The real work is to relax the mind when we are in an uncomfortable setting. Convention center yoga. Take out the tools, and calm the mind. When I was able to get deeper into my breath and be present, the judgement melted away. Yoga always teaches us.

After a couple of flow classes, and with very exhausted legs, my friend and I drove home in the late afternoon. We talked about the good, the bad, and the ugly, of mainstream yoga culture.  And while we both agreed that there are things we don’t resonate with, we both acknowledge that the truly important thing is that more and more people are being introduced and drawn to yoga. So many people find healing through yoga.

20160416_1610391
Post Convention Center Yoga 🙂

Yoga is a path and the wisdom of Yoga unfolds at a natural organic pace. . Even after 18 years since my introduction, I know I am still a beginner. I am still learning and being challenged everyday.

Yes, “yoga” is a huge trend.  And yes, there are problems with our mainstream yoga culture. But truth be told, beyond the expensive yoga clothes,  is the actual practice. A very personal and profound practice. A practice that can truly help heal the world. 

 

~Tiff

 

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Inspired: Bryan Kest Yoga Workshop

Last night I had the opportunity and pleasure of meeting and studying with a well known Yoga teacher, Bryan Kest. It was the first time I had ever met or studied with Bryan, and I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect.

bryankesttiffandjessica
Me, Bryan Kest, and Jessica McCarrick

The room was crowded, full of yogis.  The workshop began with a lecture, or a talk rather. Bryan is funny, charismatic, and a bit of a rebel.. His words are what I will remember long after these sore arms of mine recover.

Bryan shared the story of how and why Asana practice began. He talked about the true meaning and purpose of yoga.“To still the fluctuations of the mind.”  He talked about the ultimate goal of yoga, enlightenment, Samadhi. Not pose perfection.”You are never going to heal relationships with loose hamstrings. We have to try to develop the benevolent qualities of our mind. Through awareness we can start eradicating the shit that is hurting us.”

Something in him, I connected to on a deep level. Perhaps it was his honesty. He was real. He talked about his angry and wild past (which I can totally relate to).  He openly shared that he smokes pot, and he said the “F” word, more than once. He did not come across as a phoney know it all yoga purist. He came across as someone just like me, a person, a parent, who came to yoga to heal.  He talked with passion about the state of our world, and how we are all contributing, creating this world, this chaos. He also stressed that it is up to each of us to change. We have to be the change… or nothing will change. 

He also talked about how even within the yoga community, there are fights, judgments, egos, teacher bashing, blacklisting.. Each style claiming they do it correctly and other practices, styles, and teachers are wrong… I have experienced this first hand, and it is really toxic. The snobbery that can be found within the yoga community is intense. Yoga is not about designer yoga pants and a perfect body. It isn’t about memorizing the sanskrit words for poses. It isn’t even about the ability to perform a difficult pose. It is about stilling the fluctuations of the mind..

Bryan is known for teaching a strong physical practice called Power Yoga. And while I am a yoga teacher,  I do not have a very strong physical practice, and I certainly don’t have buns or abs of steel. Since my recent car accident, my practice has become even more gentle. I am very aware of my injuries, and I am very gentle with my body.

Thankfully, during the asana practice, Bryan repeatedly reminded us to listen to our bodies. He said, “No yoga teacher on earth knows where your body should be.” He instructed us to rest in childs pose whenever we needed. “There are 7 billion right ways to do a yoga pose.”  With a strong voice he told us not to look at what other people in the class were doing, but to focus on our own breath, our own body. I was dripping in sweat halfway through the practice.

We ended the practice with a long and quiet Gratitude meditation..

I feel grateful and inspired by Bryan. I feel grateful to connect with a yoga teacher who is sharing (on a much larger scale), the message that I share with my own students..

The workshop was hosted by The Cozy Yogi, a yoga studio in Lake Worth Florida. The workshop was awesome. It ended up running late, past the scheduled time. So, without a proper thank you, I had to rush off and pick up my son and breastfeed my tired daughter.

Bryan Kest, Thank you. When I do my “head touching my leg pose” I will think of you and smile.

~Tiff

 

Color Your Yoga, Chakra Therapy Yoga Challenge

Instagram Yoga Challenge! This one will be AMAZING!!!
Instagram Yoga Challenge! This one will be AMAZING!!!

I am very excited to share that I am co-hosting an upcoming 15 day yoga challenge.  The challenge is called Color Your Yoga and will be on instagram. This is a Chakra Therapy Yoga challenge, with Asana, Pranayama, Color Therapy, Mantra, Affirmations, and even food suggestions.. Our challenge begins Friday March 20th, the first day of spring, also the new moon and total solar eclipse! Wow! The challenge is sponsored by Jade Yoga Mats, so participants have the opportunity to win prizes!! A Jade Yoga Mat, yoga towel, and calendar. If you have an instagram account, Follow @flowingyogini, @justinebaconyoga and @jadeyogamats.

Energy work is what I do, who I am, and a huge part of my yoga classes.   I am excited to plan with another yoga teacher who feels the same way! Please join and share! This is sure to be amazing and healing.

Lets Color. ~Tiff

The Magic Of Yoga

Like most people, I was originally drawn to yoga for the physical benefits. It was more than 16 years ago, I was 21 and pregnant, and I read that Madonna (who was also pregnant at the same time) was doing yoga to stay in shape.
Inspired by that news and Madonna’s arm muscles, I bought a yoga video (VHS, remember those?). It was a Kundalini prenatal yoga video, and I started practicing daily. It was difficult, strange, fun, powerful..and that was the beginning of my yoga journey. After I had my son, and for the first few years of my yoga journey, yoga seemed to weave in and out of my life. (Always coming back to my practice when crisis hit.)

A Fun Variation of Goddess Pose
A Fun Variation of Goddess Pose

Anyways, now, many years later, my yoga practice has become a huge part of my life. Yoga is medicine. Yoga is therapy. YOGA IS MAGIC.

I have been teaching yoga full-time now for nearly 7 years. My first yoga teacher training was truly incredible. Nearly 1 year-long, I learned so much. My physical body changed so much. The way I moved my body changed. The way I sat changed. My eating habits and choices changed. I started healing. But beyond the physical, there were spiritual experiences that I cannot even begin to describe in words, though likely, if you practice yoga or meditation, you understand.
Initially, my life as a yoga teacher took very little effort, things just manifested. A friend of mine owned a popular yoga studio in South Florida, and offered me the opportunity to teach there. For the first few years, all my classes and students, appeared with very little effort. Things just floated into my lap.  I was offered so many classes, that I had to say no, many times.  Anyways, I showed up to teach, relaxed my mind, and allowed the yoga to flow through and to me..  The best way to describe it, I somehow quiet my mind, and access a place inside where the yoga magic just flows. Intuitive classes.
I took my advanced yoga teacher training and it was difficult mentally, emotionally, spiritually. Trying to use the mind to understand that which is beyond the mind. The written exam took so long. But I did it, I learned so much. I am still learning. In fact, I am still very much a beginner. Yoga takes lifetimes.

Anyways, I moved to another Country, where yoga is still relatively new and strange, And my goodness, my life as a yoga teacher changed. First of all, it was difficult to even find a place to teach. There are no yoga studios on this island. There are 5000 people here. Once I found a place to teach, I had to try to attract students. Not only was I suddenly working with students who were brand new to yoga, but also, I was trying to learn to teach in a new language. PORTUGUESE! Ask any yoga teacher, and I am sure they will agree, that one of the most difficult classes one could teach is a class full of beginners. There is so much to learn, so much to teach, so much to describe, and how does one do that if their vocabulary is seriously limited to a few basic words? (Think vocabulary of a two year old).

Anyways, with great effort, (and some very kind students), I am happy to say, we have built a small yoga community here. The other day, I was teaching a class, and I noticed how strong my students have become.  The sound of the deep audible ujjayi pranayama brought tingles of joy to my body and soul. It hit me, I was teaching a room full of Yogis.

Upward Facing Dog, Healing with the Trees
Upward Facing Dog, Healing with the Trees and my Beautiful Daughter

During the month of February, I hosted a yoga challenge on Instagram, just a small challenge with a few students, designed to increase awareness about asana and the physical benefits. The challenge was 21 days, 21 asanas, and was called “The Magic of Yoga.” It was a small group but we had participation from Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, Santa Maria, Sao Miguel, Germany, Ohio, and Florida. My students learned and were inspired to take their practice further. The challenge inspired others to give yoga a try. The challenge inspired me! What an honor to share something so special. LIFE CHANGING! Everyday I was excited to see the beautiful photos of my students working on Asana. Everyday I was inspired to share.

 Bird Of Paradise yogini tiff azores yoga
Our Advanced Yoga Challenge Asana, Bird Of Paradise

I guess if I was a little more organized I should have written about it on my website so my reader friends could join in. BUT, I am happy to say, I am putting together another yoga challenge right now. This new challenge is sponsored by Jade Yoga mats, there will be prizes. I PROMISE to keep the website updated with this challenge! And I hope you will feel inspired to join in. 🙂

One of the most powerful and healing poses, Tadasana-Namaste
One of the most powerful and healing poses, Tadasana-Namaste

I am so honored and grateful to practice, share, and teach The Magic Of Yoga.

Namaste~Tiff

Soaking Up The Sun

 

Well, that beautiful snow that I wrote about in my last post, changed everything! The snow kept falling, and our flight was cancelled, and we were stuck in the Toronto airport for many, many hours. It was a travel nightmare. The airport was packed. People were angry, confused, tired. Crowds,my crying baby,too much luggage. I was offered a difficult choice.. wait in Toronto for three days to take a flight to Fort Lauderdale, or catch a flight to Orlando Florida. (Orlando is about 200 miles North.) UGH

We took the flight to Orlando. We got to Orlando early in the morning, slept in a hotel, and then made the trip to Sarasota to my sisters house, where we hung out, spent the night, and arranged a rental car.. the next day, we drove to South Florida.

The weather has been unbelievably perfect. 80 degrees, water 76 degrees. The last week was full of beach, yoga, friends, and dancing..

Acro Yoga with Beach Yoga Girl Kerri Verna
Acro Yoga with Beach Yoga Girl Kerri Verna

I taught several outdoor classes, on the beach and on the grass.  It felt so good to reconnect with many of my students, to feel the warmth of the sun, the warmth of friendship. And I finally got to drink Kombucha again!

Beach Yoga Reunion Class Lake Worth Florida
Beach Yoga Reunion Class Lake Worth Florida

One morning I met up with Kerri Verna, Beach Yoga Girl, we talked (we have taught many of the same students), I took her yoga class, and then after class, she and I, along with two other strong yoga teachers, worked on some acroyoga. Kerri has a very large instagram following and does retreats and classes around the world. I used to have a snobbery about instagram and yoga, but my goodness, it really inspires people. I have met people who started practicing because of instagram and facebook. Spreading awareness. The instagram challenges encourage people to practice yoga, to make positive changes in their lives, and be healthy. Social media is a part of our lives now, lets use it to create positive changes.  We learn everyday. I know I do.

Kerri is truly a beautiful, special, kind, and strong being of light. She is inspiring. I am grateful for our time together. We are talking about a doing a retreat together. Stay tuned!

Acro yoga is VERY different than my regular practice, but my regular practice, helps immensely. With acro yoga, whether being the base or the person flying, there has to be trust, strength, a relaxed mind, and balance. You have to be fully present.  It cannot be rushed. You have to pay close attention to your body and to the energy of your partner. Your mind cannot wander in Acroyoga, or you could risk injury to you or your partner. But with awareness and trust, it is fun!! 🙂 

Strength, Trust, Balance, Flexibility, Challenge, Fun, Soaking Up The Sun
Strength, Trust, Balance, Flexibility, Challenge, Fun, Soaking Up The Sun

So far this trip has been amazing, inspiring, restorative.

So much more to write and share, the solstice party, stories of friendship, stories of life.

Thanks for reading, and I hope no matter how cold it may be, that you are able to feel the sun.

Soaking up the sun~Tiff

A Little Yoga Story and a Review of the Documentary “Who Owns Yoga?”

As a yoga practitioner and a yoga teacher, my yoga journey has been long, at times confusing, but the journey has been absolutely Magical. I started practicing yoga when I was pregnant with my son, 16 years ago. Then I studied yoga in college. I was so moved by the practice that I did my 15 page senior research project and presentation on yoga. My Academic Adviser, a Yogi, a well-known psychologist, and Harvard Graduate Dr. Richard Castillo, was very supportive of my project. I learned so much. The Good, the Bad, and The Ugly of Modern Yoga (More on my project another time).
Since then, I have had two intense yoga teacher trainings. I have taught yoga for many years (sometimes as many as 15 classes a week), and practiced yoga with some of the best and most well-known yoga teachers out there. Teaching yoga in South Florida was really an amazing experience. I have been blessed with many yogi and yogini friends. 

In my early years of practice,I was impressionable and desperate for answers. I became good friends with one of my yoga teachers.The more I got to know her, the more human she became. She didn’t have all the answers. She didn’t always operate from a higher wisdom. She was just like me! She fell right off the pretty pedestal I had put her on. I was pissed. I was confused. “ Who is going to give me the answers???” A little voice said “Use your yoga practice and look inside dear one.”
The Lessons we Learn: Acceptance-Tell that inner yoga purist to Shut up!
I have had times when I felt judgemental of fellow yogis who put the greatest emphasis on the physical practice. But why? Who cares? It is what works for them. I have stuck my nose up at gym yoga, instagram, lululemon, yoga ads, etc.. but now, my thinking has transformed. Life has shown me that there is nothing more annoying than the ‘know it all yoga purist’. I had the most magical experience teaching gym yoga, and I see how photographs really inspire people. I understand that while there are ugly sides to the commercialism of yoga , the good side is that Yoga has been brought to the masses.

 We all look for ways to heal..
More people are practicing asana. And for many, as it was for me, practicing asana, is the gateway , the beginning to something much deeper. Asana alone gets us in touch with our bodies, our breath, our cellular wisdom. Transformation.  With that transformation, many of us begin to realize that what we eat has a direct impact on our health and well-being. We begin to make more conscious choices. We start to live a more mindful, connected life.

The Documentary
This morning, I stumbled upon the documentary “Who Owns Yoga?” A 50 minute documentary that explores the many aspects of modern yoga, and the many differing opinions. Presented by Bhanu Bhatnagar of Al Jazeera, I consider this a MUST SEE! It is not particularly deep, but it is important, enjoyable, funny, and certainly an eye-opening documentary.  I didn’t know about ‘Rave Yoga’. And I also got a giggle when I saw the clip of “Voga.  I had no idea. Looks pretty silly, but nonetheless fun. 🙂
Who Owns Yoga? We own yoga! On or off the mat, Yoga is a personal journey and we take it where we need to go. We are in a constant state of transformation.
Here is the link to the Documentary. Enjoy.
http://
Love in all ways ~Tiff

Jade Fusion Mat: The Most Luxurious Mat I Have Ever Known

The Jade Fusion Mat is designed for both Yoga and Pilates. It is a thick, heavy, sturdy mat. It measures at 5/16″ thick, is available in two lengths, 68″ and 74″, and comes in a variety of colors.

Jade Fusion Mat Olive Green
Jade Fusion Mat Olive Green

Safety and Performance-The mat provides extra comfort while being sturdy enough for even the most demanding balancing poses.  Challenging practice? Sweaty palms? Not a problem on a Jade mat. Jade makes the absolute best slip resistant mat I have ever used.

 Go Green-Jade mats are made of natural rubber and are completely biodegradable. Special note: The mat will break down in direct sunlight. 

Sustainable and ethical practices-Jade plants a tree for every mat they sell. Jade sponsors and supports amazing causes, organizations, and events.

Change begins with us-We have to support companies that are working to create a better world. Jade is a company with amazing practices, amazing people, and amazing products.  I am a long time supporter of their company and I am one of their ambassadors.

The Jade Fusion Mat. Maximum comfort. Maximum performance. The most luxurious mat I have ever known.

The Best Yoga Mat
The Best Yoga Mat/Yoga Paradise

Here is a link to The Jade website. http://www.jadeyoga.com/store/home.php

Thank you Jade.

~Yogini Tiff