Category Archives: Yoga

Yogi Selects – Catherine Dawn Yoga

When I put up the call for Yogi Selects I had a feeling I would get some good feedback! The summer time always opens people up to share a little more about themselves. @Catherine_Dawn_Yoga reached out and after much delay on my end I delivered a questionnaire she sent it back with everything we could ask for!  
If you could form thoughts solely on anything other than words what would it be and why?
If I could form thought solely on anything other than words it would be sensation. It is actually my current meditation practice. All thought stems from emotion; emotion stems from sensation; sensation a result of chemical reaction. If we could witness the thought that is attached to the sensation we can undo past patterns and create new ones.
We are overstimulated and have too much external input. People have lost the ability to use a lot of our senses because we are so disconnected from the natural world and stillness. It’s time to reclaim the lost knowledge.
What is your first memory?
When I was about 3 or 4 I used to sit in my mother’s room in Brooklyn. I could hear the church bells ringing because we lived across the street from the church. I would sit in her mirror with my face pressed close and examine how my pupils and iris’ opened and closed. I used to think about how I got here and who made me and if someone made me who made them.
How can one distinguish the difference between intelligence and intuition?
I suppose this question is similar to the question of  knowledge and wisdom.
Intelligence: We can learn something from books or from a teacher and rationalize things based on information and perhaps similar experience which would allow for inference.
Intuition: For some it comes more naturally than others. Intuition is a result of being fully present and paying attention to sensation. The sensation you receive contains the wisdom which one might describe as intuition. It may be the case that some can really harness/sharpen intuition that might come naturally with intentional focus allowing it to be less of a phenomena and more of a tool.
I’ve never been on a silent retreat? Can you share an experience that you may never forget from the 12 day Vipassana course
Vipassana is like a science experiment with your own psyche. 12 days. 9.5 days you cannot talk , gesture or look at another person except your teacher during set times to ask questions about the method and emergencies to the program manager. 2 vegetarian meals a day (last one at 11:30am) and 10 hours of meditation per day. There are breaks in between.
After the 9.5 days of silence with no external input all the participants were very excited to talk and connect. It was really beautiful but people became a bit overwhelmed. Schedules were forgotten and food went uneaten. Some could not sleep that night, others had headaches and I myself experienced spasms in my stomach muscles that evening. It was interested to observe how external input manifests in our bodies and our behaviors.
At one point during the Vipassana we saw a bear within 3 feet of us. We were all quite calm after days of 10 hours of meditation.I managed to communicate with the other attendees to move back into their cabins by signing and the bear passed without getting agitated. He was really just curious but if we had screamed the situation might have manifested quite differently.
Have you had any lucid yoga related dreams while sleeping?

I have had lucid dreams related to my path and intertwined with people who I have met along my yogic path. I have found lucid dreaming a powerful tool in gaining messages from the subconscious. Yogic meditation is not that far off from lucid dreaming when you tap into different practices.

Does life have a way of putting you in the right place at the right time? If so how can you realize that in the moment versus retrospectively?

 

I think it does. There are little details we can begin to notice as time goes on, some people call them synchronicities or messages from higher self. If you begin to follow them and trust it is like cracking the code but it is harder than it sounds. We often have self limiting beliefs that interfere. But that is why practices like yoga are key.
If there was one question you can have answered about the mysteries of life what would the question be?
How can we create harmony without disrupting the beauty of natural chaos and unpredictability?
I am always dancing with this question.
Has yoga help improve your running routine? If so how?
I don’t run as often as I used to but it certainly helped to improve my running. I started practicing yoga during a time where I was running in races and doing bootcamp like workouts. It helped me to better control my breath and also my focus during longer runs. On long runs the monkey mind starts to kick in and you sometime will hear yourself telling you to give up but you have to override it and keep going. Yoga give you specific ways to do that. Mantra, picking a focal point, imagining an object etc.
In which ways can poetry help translate the feelings yoga can provide?
Yoga and poetry are not different to me. Whether I am practicing yoga or writing I am connecting with a higher source. The ego gets lost in both practices. I sometimes use poetry to translate the revelations I receive in the yogic practices; It’s connecting to spirit and creating word.
So many blessing and good things ! Keep creating godly things!
Best,
Catherine

You can follow Catherine on her journey via Instagram 

Kemetic Ka Ba Ra System

Kemetic Ka Ba Ra System

“Mastery of Passion allows divine thought and action.”

This chapter is about the Sefer Ba Ra (seven souls of Ra), also known as the Arats or Cows, through which the life-force energy (Sekhem or Chi) flows from the Self and sustains consciousness and ones being. The Life-force moves through the Sefer Ba Ra with the intention, direction, and focus of Consciousness itself.

Without the Sefer Ba Ra there would be no multiplicity, levels, or nature to existence: there would be only singular non-dual existence with no expression. It allows for the expression of individual existence and spiritual energy to be used for sexual energy to allow beings to interact with one another through a individual mind and body. Consciousness is the tool which the Self uses to create and interact with itself in the form of Creation.

Already you can see from this small paragraph that there is much more to an individual being then what is normally known; most people understand life to be about acquiring possessions, relationships, having children, etc, without knowing why, how, or who “I Am”. This is part of how creation operates. When there is a shift in the individuals intention through introspection or insight into Self, the direction and focus of consciousness shifts, sexual energy transforms back into spiritual energy and the individual is lead to self-realization and yogic union with the NTR / Ntru.

The Sefer Ba Ra are seven energy centers through which consciousness operates and exists in time and space. This is also represented by the Seven Cows of HetHeru through which the Single Bull of Amun reproduces life. The first three steps (1-3) are the most readily understood by the average person.

For example, the first step represents the idea of being an individual person who must eats, drinks, thinks, and acts, to survive and enjoy life. The second step represents the idea of being an individual person who must have sexual experiences, sensory pleasures, relationships, and desires in order to enjoy life. The third step represents the idea of being an individual person who must assert their will-power, assert their individual identity (ego), and act as an individual in the world to enjoy life. These three levels are the ordinary levels of an earthly being and many people do not grow past these levels of consciousness.

The steps show consciousness centers, and each carries with it a level of experience and development in which the consciousness interacts with creation as an individual being. This means for example that a persons second step (sensory consciousness) may have developed an experience of pleasure derived for a specific sensory pleasure (example: chocolate), and when the consciousness desires pleasure the second step might exert energy on the individual to pursue chocolate.

To acknowledge that one who cleanses the first three Cows understands, I will now give a new way of looking at the normal consciousness levels as they operate through an enlightened mind.

The first level becomes; “I am not an individual, I am the eternal The NTR and I am provided by self, even if I don’t eat or drink and my body decays, I will not die, thus I do not need to fight to survive.” The second level becomes; “sexual energy is only a manifestation of the spiritual life-force coming from my true self, thus I do not have to pursue sexual experiences, relationships, desires, or actions, in order to survive and enjoy life.” Third level becomes; “I am not the body or mind, thus I am selfless, thus I act selflessly and do not have to assert my individual will or interest, or act as an individual, in order to live and enjoy life.”

In order to experience the higher levels(4-7) one must, through Smai Tawi (spiritual yogic practices) and Shedi (spiritual intelligence through study), begin to understand themselves to be more than an individual human who experiences only birth, disease, old age, and death. The pressure of individuality makes it impossible for a person to realize their higher consciousness levels. For that reason they cannot be broken down in the same way as the first three were above, because the average person would not be able to understand that level of consciousness intellectually. This book is designed to show one how to heal, open, and harmonize, which leads to attaining above average physical and mental health as well as spiritual enlightenment.

Over-View Of: The Kemetic Life-Force Energy Teachings

At a number of temples The Ntr Khnum is seen creating seven Ka for the Per Ahh (Pharaoh). These seven aspects of the personality (Ka) represent the seven chakras, the seven endocrine glands, the seven aspects and instincts of creation existing within an individual and creation itself.

These are: survival (adrenals), Generation (Gonads), nourishment (the spleen), nurturing (the thymus), conscious development (the thyroid), creativity (the pituitary), and aspiration for unconditioned experience (the pineal).

Sefer Ba Ra- Cows – and Glands are three different ways to describe the same thing. The glands are the most important aspect of the body and are largely misunderstood. The glandular system is responsible for secreting hormones that regulate the body’s development (Youth, Puberty, and Old Age), that trigger sexual energy fertility and reproduction.

If these glands are working properly the body is healthy or if there is an obstruction then there is illness. The glands if obstructed, are blocked by pus or mucus, known in ancient Kemet as Ukhudu. It must be understood that this obstruction arises due to an even more subtle mental obstruction in consciousness, these obstructions are related to what are called “fetters” “sins” or “negative yoke”, and are related to intense greed, lust, anger, hate, resentment, etc.

Obstruction of these glands can result in subtle or gross (physical) disease and mental imbalances. If the glands are balanced one will have Life, Vitality, and Health, and if they are obstructed one will be susceptible to mental or physical disease.

egypt book of the dead | Egyptian Hieroglyphics Book of ...The purification of the glands opens new levels of consciousness, heighten the senses, and enable physical and mental expansion. This allows a person to turn disease into health, lethargy into vitality, and confusion and agitation into clarity and lucidity.

When a gland is imbalanced through blockage or impurity, it [causes] less energy (Sekhem) to flow through the body, this causes physical and mental impairment, which limits expansion in consciousness in the mental-physical chakra consciousness which is impaired. To understand this you can look at it as a lamp. If the wire has an obstruction anywhere in it, this can weaken the light from the bulb or causes no electricity to pass from the socket to the bulb. The socket is the Self (the source of energy), the mental- physical consciousness which exists in the spine is the wire (conduit for electricity), and the bulb is the light and activation of the mind.

Those whose centers are unopened or impure, generally move in life toward physical and mental ignorance and negativity, get themselves into negative situations they could have avoided or prevented; feel, think, and act ignorantly and carelessly, and live a self-destructive or unfulfilling life.

A person whose centers are opened and they are pure, generally are moving in life toward physical and mental knowledge and mindfulness, get themselves into liberating situations in life, and feeling think and act in an enlightened and healthy manner. This showcases how the energy of the supreme being works to support the pure and destroy the impure, without judgement, through each individuals own Sefer Ba Ra and Sekhem, according to that individuals actions in this lifetime.

Actions can either purify a person of negative karma and work to open the centers, or actions can strengthen bad karma and work to imbalance them. This chapter will show you how to work with your  Sefech Ba Ra and open them to experience the highest vibration of consciousness, which creates life, vitality, and health within an individual. Each Sefer Ba Rais a Consciousness unto itself. This means that as the consciousness shifts from the different levels through the day and through life, the consciousness level at that stage results in different levels of feeling, thought, and action, inspired by different aspects of consciousness.

The purpose of life is not to gain desired mental or physical experiences, but to reach a higher consciousness in order to experience unlimited oneness, expansion, fulfillment, inner peace, and happiness.

Positive Development

Each of the Sefer relates to aspects of life and consciousness which are to be mastered through Self. The manifestations of particular levels in life require you to experience, so as to master the experience. This brings a return to ones whole basis and nature and this occurs through the activation of harmonizing of the 7 Ba Ra with Ma’at (Truth and Harmony.) This is the positive and correct movement of purifying the Sefer. One should gain a greater oneness with the 42 precepts and the teachings of Ma’at and practice of MaaKheru.

Negative Development

Disease occurs when energy does not move freely and purely up the spine to the crown or from the physical world back to the causal realm (Self). First what occurs is physical disease or dis-ease which blocks the energy through either a dormant or active disease, or disharmonious feelings thoughts and actions (toxic character, personality, or lifestyle). This causes Sekhem to be blocked at particular levels as it moves up the spine. It is blocked by dormant or active mental disease due to impure mental impressions, conditioning, and attachments. This movement effectively blocks pure connection with the self. One should cease practice until they can redirect themselves to a higher pursuit and endeavor and resolve to overcome their ignorant conditioning, impressions, and attachments.

The Sefer — The Consciousness – The Realms of Existence

The Sefer are consciousness centers or conduits and realms of existence through which consciousness moves. They represent all of the consciousness levels as well as the levels of the Ta, Duat, and Pet Realm. Thus the Sefer and the consciousness encompass the path and attainment of Self-Realization and Self-Mastery, enlightenment, and ascension.

Sefer 7 – unconscious mind – Pet Realm
Sefer 6-4 — Subconscious – Duat Realm
Sefer 3-1 – Conscious – Ta Realm

 

Read the full article here at SevenWorlds 

Yoga, Rosa Parks and Mental Health Awareness

Rosa Parks practicing yoga at an event.” 1973 March. Image courtesy of Library of Congress, Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, Visual Materials from the Rosa Parks Papers, [LC-DIG-ppmsca-58369]. Photo used with permission of the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self Development.
In the 2015 Library of Congress exhibit, “Beyond the Bus: Rosa Parks’ Lifelong Struggle for Justice,” photographs include documentation of Parks supporting Shirley Chisholm’s 1972 presidential campaign. This exhibit also reveals that “the Mother of the Civil Rights Movement” was an advocate for mental and public health. When I recently discovered the previously unpublished 1973 picture of “Rosa Parks practicing yoga at an event” in the LOC digital archive, I recognized it is a poignant illustration of how Black women’s healing traditions are historical, spiritual, creative, and political. Revealing the Rosa Parks yoga picture publicly for the first time  underscores the ability of Black women’s historians to inform national efforts like Minority Mental Health Awareness Month (July) while also bolstering vital community health work of organizations such as the Black Yoga Teachers Alliance.

At a similar time as the LOC exhibit, twenty of Rosa Parks’ nieces and nephews released a book honoring her life and commemorating what would have been her 100th birthday. In the collection, Our Auntie Rosa: The Family of Rosa Parks Remembers her Life and Lessons, both a niece (Sheila McCauley Keys) and nephew (Asheber Macharia) recount Parks accompanying them to yoga class as well as cultivating her own private practice. They wrote,

I came to realize Auntie Rosa had interests that not too many people knew about. Her receptiveness always left me pleasantly surprised. This was especially true when she decided to join us at yoga classes. She really enjoyed it. … (Macharia)

Well into her senior years she has only recently begun practicing yoga. Splendid silver hair gives her away as the oldest student in most of the classes she occasionally attends with family, but she doesn’t care. She’s reached a point when she considers herself a student of life. … Eventually, she learns the movements and yogic principles well enough to practice alone in her home. She’ll answer the door wearing yoga pants…. (McCauley Keys)

Yoga’s popularity in the United States increased exponentially in the 1970s and ample research links yoga practice to decreased anxiety and depression. African American women, disproportionality impacted by social stressors, also have a long history of yoga awareness and practice.

In her appeal to Congress for mental health support, Henson noted that religious communities often suggest we “pray away” problems. Rosa Parks, a Deaconess at the AME Church in Detroit, personifies the possibility of incorporating a holistic health approach to personal and community health in Black spaces. Yoga was incorporated into programming at the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self-Development, founded in 1987, and is still taught there in several forums. Fittingly, yoga is also a routine activity at the Rosa Parks Elementary School in San Francisco, California. As health professionals begin to prioritize restorative and preventative public policy that includes practices like yoga, they can turn to historical examples for support and proof of efficacy.

Mental health-centered practices include and extend beyond self-care routines. Angela Davis, who wrote about her yoga and meditation practice while imprisoned for her political activism the 1970s, is one of many voices that rightly cautions against “individual” conceptions of self-care. Long-time advocates like Black Women’s Health Imperative (BWHI) founder Byllye Avery clearly state the need for community building around self-care discussions as a form of consciousness raising. For over forty years, public health educators like BWHI in Washington, D. C. and Center for Black Women’s Wellness in Atlanta, GA have trumpeted education about self-care practices as crucial tools for mental health and advocacy groups like No More Martyrs and Black Ladies in Public Health continue to push in that direction forward.

Source – Truth.AbwH

Why We Do Yoga 2

In this chapter of Why we do Yoga, I travel to a few new places to find out the reasons and ways people do yoga. Familiar faces and new encounters lead me through a slew of changes plans but graceful adjustments. Watch as one connection leads to another from Martinique all the way back to Atlanta and a few places in between. Luck and coincidence carried me through this one. Look forward to the next soon enough. Peace 

The list of Yogis keeps growing but you can find most of the people seen in this one on Instagram

@EyeFocus
@SlyviaDESROSES Yogi / Translator 
@TheMartinicianWayOfLife
@PintsizeNurse Yogi
@NakeeshaSmith Yogi 
@MaatPetrova Fitness Wellness Coach 
@Allthingscoyia Yogi Mommy
@ReignGlobal Artist 
@HadiiyaBarbel Lifestyle Empowerment
@Theiridescentgoddess Yogi 
@LittleMsDaisha Yogi 
@Yirser Yogi 
@Quoom Drummer
@Doomzday_1 Drummer 
@Raine.Supreme Yogi 
@BluetreasurePhotography Yogi / Photo
@Yoga_Bay Yogi 
@KindredSpiritCR Equine Therapist / Yogi
Corrine Aulakh Equine Therapist / Yogi
@MovingArtExperience
@TheOmBrunch
@LifeisArt_Films Yogi 

@Aminabina
@By_Elr Yogi
@IamReneeWatkins Yogi  
@YogaPlayground Yogi 
@Dade2Shelby Yogi 
@Bri.Simpson Artist 
Cristian Taxi Costa Rica 

Let me know what you think

Yogi Selects w. Tierra Denae

In an attempt to find some random yogis I put out a IG story  requesting anyone that views it to tag a yogi …. one & only one person came through @alana_not_graceful and tagged a super dope yogi that goes by @Tierra.Denae  I briefly scrolled through her page and caught a few ideas! I’m definitely looking forward to attending a disconnect retreat! check out what she shared about yoga and life!

What has yoga helped you open yourself up to receiving that you may have been having trouble with before?

Vibrations of the earth around me. I believe I was stuck with the falsities of “reality.” Especially in the United States, our idea of what is right or wrong, what being rich means, and how we treat one another. I wasn’t receiving the truth of the world, and my internal light.

How do you incorporate your photography practice in with your yoga regime and vice versa?

Yoga to me is life. Bringing everything together and making it delicious, and fluid. I try to discover something new everyday. With my photography, and modeling for others, I hope to bring to do that as well. Also capturing the moments that don’t always look “pretty.”

Why Is the disconnect-retreat necessary in a technology dominant time and can you tell us more about it?

We are addicted to “likes” and opinion sharing. Even myself. The Disconnect came about after going to a yoga retreat and seeing so many people still very connected to everything outside of their current experience with one another.  I thought to myself if I ever had a retreat, no one would be able to use electronic devices (outside of the photographer) so that we could truly get back to human connection. Every retreat since that time has been increasingly better and deeper.

 

 

Can you recall your first memory if so describe the experience.

Yes, I was 2 or 3 maybe, my mother was driving us back to our small apartment and it was dark. A storm had just ended but the lightening still glowing within the clouds. I remember seeing faces and people in the clouds, colors of black, red, and purple.

While meditating have you had any experiences/sensations that are hard to explain? 

Yes, I attempt to, but sometimes I just keep the sensations to myself and honor that it was had.

 

Are there lessons you have learned from the ocean?Absolutely. What we need more than anything is support. We can’t do everything alone. Pollution is hard to get rid of, in the oceans, the mind, the body, one another, but it can be done with time and patience.

I noticed you practice with a community, is it more fun or benefit to do yoga with others or alone? I’ve always practiced by myself so I find the group gatherings fascinating…I like it both ways, my community allows me to find connection through a lot of the sensations I feel when I practice. They keep me accountable and in check when I am in doubt. My personal practice is something a bit more sacred. I speak with my ancestors and tap into my goddess energy.

 

 

Sometimes what’s hard is your head, Not your heart….. How does yoga help you ease the mind and open your heart?

Compassion. I’ve learned compassion through yoga. If nothing else, it creates a space for me to love better, be kinder in thought and action with others. And that space allows for an open mind.

What is meditating/practicing in a pyramid like? and Are you familiar the book Shape power?

I could try to explain it, but you’ll have to come see for yourself. Some people cry immediately upon entry and even before practice. The space sits on a vortex of energy so each experience is different. I have personally felt an array of emotions and vibrations. I have not heard of it, but I’m putting it on my list now!

 

How can fear be beneficial?

Fear is beneficial in that its a guide to what you are capable of. Your dreams are often right on the other side waiting for you to work through it all.

Is there anything you would like to say to the readers of infocus247.com?

Allow time for your mind to be still and your heart to be open. The possibilities become endless and your legend to be built.

Yogi Selects – The.Brotha.That.Cooks

On this run through of Yogi Selects I took a scroll on Instagram to discover  The.Brotha.That.Cooks. Being a brother that cooks myself, I knew I would get some home cooked quality answers. Check out the light dive below!

How do you stay rooted in your yoga practice to ensure lifelong progress?

I stay rooted in my yoga practice by staying realistic with myself and my expectations. I set goals in my head of certain poses that I want to have down, knowing full well that it will take me years to develop the strength and body awareness. My decision to get into yoga was mindful at its roots. I was a Division 1, Olympic Level swimmer before my transition, and even when it came as the choice to swim and not play football or basketball, I wanted to choose something that I could do throughout my lifetime and not destroy my body in the process. When it comes to the practice of yoga, I keep it first and foremost as an internal practice. The Asanas are secondary. I also follow the advice of more advanced yogis when it comes to what they say about the asanas. Listening to your body, not letting your ego get in the way when it comes to wanting to do a pose. On days that it doesn’t want to bend as far, or the handstands just aren’t being hit, it’s okay… just stay mindful of the breath

Did yoga effect your choice of what you decide to consume as food, if so why?

It was more so the other way around, I was becoming more mindful of what I was eating and then it led me towards yoga intuitively. I believe that when it comes to eating a plant-based diet as I follow it clears up the mind and naturally one will start to look for practices that are more holistic in nature and more about the relationship that you develop with you holistic self, not like most others that the relationship is carnal, how fast you go, how high you jump, how much you lift, what place you got in a competition. From being an athlete for most of my life, often you will find that the motivations behind great success come from the fear of being inadequate…based on a number. 

What is the most logical thought you can think of pertaining to yoga as well as the most illogical?

Where do you find balance between the two?The most logical: Yoga is all about the connection between the mind, breath and body. The most illogical: The best yogis can do handstands and the most spiritual sit in full lotus I find balance between the two by staying in check with myself by listening to my body. I follow the advice of my yoga teachers and reflect on how I look to them for advice…to others my natural strength may lead some to think I’m a “better” yogi than them because of the asanas I can perform. I then look at myself and set goals towards having a practice where I stay aware of my breath for the entire hour and not pushing myself to advance an asana every class. It has led me to gleam more understanding of self and reality from my practices.


What was your perception of yourself before yoga and after?

I’ll take this question to be what my perception is before I practice yoga and then myself afterwards.Before I practice, I am often very busy in my mind, somewhat like a bees nest, focusing too much on the trivial matters of life jumping from one task to the next. Very shallow breathing.After I practice, I am more in the moment. Focused on the task at hand and not as worried about the artificial construct of time, but rather the quality of the work that I am performing

If the food you eat effects your mind state, how did you come to this observation?

 I became most aware of this in August 2018 when I first ate raw vegan for 30 days. During that period, my skin was clearing up, I was forced to deal with some traumas of my past in my dream realities and I had more energy than ever before. I was eating as plant-based as I could before but eating Raw made me take a second look at the ingredients in my food. Also, during the holiday season I consciously chose to eat animal protein again with my family, so I could take note of the difference first-hand when I reverted. I noticed that I would often fall asleep right away, I was very groggy and lazy for about 48-72 hours after eating the animal protein. It makes me appreciate eating plant-based that much more because I have an accurate mental and physical record of the effects. I know by first-hand reflection that I am doing the best for my mind, body and by eating plant-based. Not just following an emotional trigger from an online post. Do best for yourself by trial and self-reflection.

Share your perspective/experience on conscious breathing.

The breath is the first thing that you do when you get here and the last thing you do when you leave. It plugs you into this reality. The nature of the thoughts is directly connected to the speed and the depth of the breath. Breath is everything. Think of it as your pulsating and changing the charge of the neurons in the air and space around and inside of you. Your breath is a step into programming your reality.

Do you think the expectations you have now will hold the same value toward the conclusion of your life time?

The aspects of me that are deeply programmed and more “hard wired” still have the ability to change through time, so for the most part I believe I will continue to grow and learn through my existence in this avatar.

Have you experienced any yoga related dreams or hard to explain meditation experiences?

For my meditations, I often get visuals of mandalas in a rhythmic pattern, feels like some signs of communication, but more feeling than hearing and navigating through the “music” or “bells”. I’m a, HBI student and I am thankful for the accurate knowledge and fluid format that they provide me along my path of spiritual development

When did you realize you would continue your yoga practice after starting?

I first learn of yoga when I was a child, I did it as a supplement to swimming because it helps open up the hips and maintain shoulder stability and strength. Besides that, I like the incorporation of the mind, body and breath. Swimming is very much the same way, because you breath opposite of when you are running, In through your mouth and out your nose. When you are pacing for distance the breathing rhythm is a large part of staying consistent. I also enjoy how you can simply do yoga by yourself and it takes up a small amount of space, you can do it anywhere and you can do it until the body dies. I consciously made a choice to chose habits that I could still do in my 100s (years of age)

 

 

 

Yogi Selects – Leah Matthews

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today we have a chance to be blessed as always! The yogi select that was nice enough to share a little more about their practice this week is Leah or known as on instagram @Blessed2Empress. I noticed there were plenty of beautiful photos with intriguing captions but I was curious to know more! Have a read below and see yoga from a different perspective!

What was your perception of yoga before you began and what led you to the practice?

While I attained my undergraduate degree in Anthropology at New York University I worked the front desk at the Jivamukti Yoga School.  To be honest I found many of the people there to be kinda weird and over the top (with vegan-ism etc) so that turned me off some.  Also, as a woman of color it was hard for me to sit through the spiritual talks at the start of the classes.  When I was younger and angrier (this is ceca 2004-2007)  I wasn’t really feelin a white person telling me how to liberate myself through my yoga practice!  But after a while I realized that the teachings themselves regardless of the delivery, or of the cultural appropriation were truly a gift.

 

I realized that I was there for a reason and that I should be open to receiving the knowledge for liberation.  Rather than focusing on the others around me that were I needed to focus inward.  Jivamukti in Sanskrit literally means freedom of the soul.  I did my first teacher training there and am grateful for it.

Does living in a big city like New York effect the type of yoga you do? If so how

Yes Absolutely!  NYC is a faced paced city, it is full of fast paced people.  It is very Vata energetically .  Yet despite this, most New York Yogi prefer a fast paced Vinyasa type practice which Ayurvedically creates Vata imbalance.  Especially if you also do a lot of cardio based workouts in your fitness routine like running and cycling.  Since I am also a personal trainer who is into board sports I try and use my yoga practice to provide balance.  Physically I use my yoga practice to help correct muscular imbalances and over exertion.  Energetically I use my yoga Practice for doshic balance. My dosha is already very Vata and I live in a Vata city, thus my yoga practice has to be more Kapha if I want to achieve harmony.  My life is fast, my city is fast and my workouts are usually strength endurance based, so my yoga practice has now become slow.  Not easy, not boring, but slower for sure.

Do you feel yoga has helped your workout routine?

I often do yoga prior to or after my workout as a warm up or cool down.  I consider yoga to be a part of my fitness regimen so I often tailor my yoga practice to help me prepare for sports and strength training or, as a recovery technique.  These sessions are shorter than a traditional vinyasa practice but very effective.


How did you come across sup yoga and what are some of the differences in your experience on the water vs land.

I tried paddle-boarding in Miami for the first time in 2013.  I had already been surfing on and off a few years and thought SUP Yoga would be right up my ally.  I found SUP school and signed up for a class, but when the teacher arrived he wasn’t the Yoga teacher, just a person teaching paddle technique.  Paddle-boarding was challenging yet relaxing and I found myself naturally trying poses on my own while the instructor worked with other students.  Then when I came back to NY I found a SUP yoga teacher training in the Hampton’s and signed up!  Yoga on the paddle board is awesome because it challenges you in a whole new way.  Poses that are “easy” on the mat are not so easy on the water.  You really have to engage mula bandha and uddiyana bandha in order to stay on the board.  Plus even if you fall off that’s fun too!  The most interesting thing about teaching on the board though is that most traditional yoga sequencing just doesn’t work so you have to re-learn how to sequence a yoga class.  It is also very peaceful to practice outside and to be on the water in general.  One of the main reasons I got into board sports in the first place is for that city escape.  You need water to surf and paddle-board. You need snow for snowboarding, you need nature.


What was one thing you learned about yourself during your practice that may have been hard to see previously?

As I continue to practice I’ve realized that the strength portion of yoga for me, is way more important than flexibility.  I’ve always been very flexible and training in dance and gymnastics as a child increased that ability.  As I have gotten older my practice has changed.  I’ve learned that hyper mobility promotes injury so my personal practice has become very different than the type of practice I teach to those who sit at a desk all day and aren’t as flexible.

What was your first memory ever?

My first clear memory is being on my fathers shoulders walking across the Brooklyn Bridge.  I remember we walked for a really long time and there were people everywhere crowding around us.  I didn’t know them and I didn’t know why we had to keep walking.  I was scared and crying by the end.  Finally my mom came and picked us up in the car and drove us home.  When I was older I asked my dad about it and he told me we were marching in protest to the Howard Beach race attacks.   This was in 1986 so I was 4 years old.  23 year old Michael Griffith, an immigrant from Trinidad had been killed when white teens chased him onto the highway.  His his car had broken down in “the wrong neighborhood” and he and three other young black males were severely beaten.  The teens chased Michael onto the highway where he was hit by a car and left in the road to die.  The driver was another white, local teen who was incidentally the son of a police officer.

Photo Credit : @Soulflowermedicine

What do you find most beneficial about meditating?

For the past six months I’ve been working with a meditation teacher trained in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition.  Its all about loving kindness.  Giving that to yourself and giving it to others.  I think selflessness can be overrated sometimes.  How can one care for others if not for for oneself?  Giving loving kindness to yourself is really powerful.  Empowerment of self enables you to be stronger for others, open to others, compassionate to others.

Do you think you learn more as a teacher teaching yoga or as a student?


I am certainly most grateful to all of my yoga teachers and have learned so much from them!  You cannot be a teacher without first being a student.  Likewise, you also learn allot being a teacher.  You learn about different bodies, different injuries, different moods. You develop different types of flows and sequencing.  However interestingly my participation in other forms of sports and training has inadvertently taught me the most about how to be a good yoga instructor. When you work with different kinds of athletes and study the body mechanics of what they do and how they do it, it enables you to be able to teach to a wider student body.  Also since yoga has such a large spiritual component, I find the anatomy portion in the study of yoga to be lacking.  Most of what I have learned about body mechanics and its applicability in yoga was through personal training and Pilate’s coursework.

I’ve never been surfing so how can a yoga session prepare you physically and mentally before you paddle out?


Surfing uses very specific joint actions when paddling out.  It requires shoulder mobility as you paddle, spinal extension to keep the head and chest lifted off the board, and lateral flexion of the trunk as your torso moves from side to side while paddling.  Once you have gotten past the break and are trying to catch a wave you also need a good amount of cervical rotation to look back at the wave you are trying to catch.  All of these joint actions are a part of any standard yoga practice.  Sun salutations, reverse prayer, cow pose and other binds promote shoulder mobility, while upward facing dog, bow pose, wheel and other back bends utilize spinal extension.  Lateral flexion of the trunk is performed in triangle pose, extended angle, and other standing poses, while cervical rotation occurs each time you look up towards your lifted hand or down towards your mat in those poses.  Once you have caught and are riding a wave, surfing necessitates a lot of internal rotation of the femur.  This is one of the major ways that enables you to turn the board in reaction to the wave.  In yoga, internal rotation of the femur occurs when you turn your feet inward from a turned out (90 degree) position.  For example, coming into a straddle from warrior two, or rotating both feet from one side to the other so that the front of you mat becomes the back and vice versa.  This is why I recommend an Ashtanga based standing practice in preparation for surfing.  In the Ashtanga primary series you rotate the feet from one side to the other in-order to switch to the other side, rather than stepping the opposite foot forward from downward facing dog.  Another major factor in turning the board once you are actually surfing is trunk rotation.  So a presurf yoga series should also incorporate a LOT of twisting poses.  But surfing isn’t just about joint actions.  It is about a neuromuscular connection as well.  This is because you are exercising in the ocean which is a reactive setting.  The practice of yoga prior to surfing allows your body to reinforce those neurological connections while you’re in a stable environment.

Is there anything else you would like to share with the readers of infocus247

I am just happy to be included in a social media project featuring yogi’s of color.  We are so marginally represented and our views, practice, knowledge and history is so important!  I thank you for your interest and look forward to reading future featured yogi’s.

Yogi Selects – Librada.Yoga

It’s brick cold in New York but somehow some way I managed to make it to the end of the 4 line in BX to meet with Librada.Yoga. From time to time the opportunity to meet with the Yogi Selects yogis presents itself! I missed her on the first orbit but was able to make time the second trip to NY. Running late (not usual) but I made it around 5 and the sun was down and the cold was effecting AsiaSol more than me. After a quick plan to explore and find a decent spot we hopped on the bus. An insightful conversation ranging from traveling to the willingness to sacrifice to achieve a goal laid the undertone for our subtle search. Hopped off the wrong right bus sparked a spliff to keep warm and wallllaaaa on the last toke we arrived at the best lit spot the cold could offer! This is the first half of our shoot the next half requires a trip to Puerto Rico!

Jumping and quick movements to prepare for the cold yoga flow

Yogi Selects: Librada.Yoga How can tradition/ritual be beneficial for a consistent yoga practice?    There is such beauty in the stillness of a ritual, just as in yoga. In creating daily and/or weekly rituals, we build consistency. Through the rhythm of repetition I believe we can cultivate peace within. In Ashtanga, we visit the same poses everyday, and this practice allows me unveil the obstacles I often hide from myself. So just like some traditions, there is an information exchange. My practice is often a part of a ritual.Sometimes I begin a dance offering with breath and free movement; this moving meditation definitely feels like yoga to me even if its more informal. When I can feel life getting away from me or I’m burdened, a cleansing ritual or a detoxing yoga flow can always help me get back on track. So if you are already are armed with a spiritual ritual practice, some yoga can strengthen and ground your spirit.Was there a specific point or experience in life that led you to forming a stronger connection with yourself through practice?I definitely acknowledged at a young age the fact that there were/are forces guiding my life. So with that self-awareness, i know that I did not fall into yoga. I was guided over the course of a few years, or maybe like Patanjali said in the Sutras this journey has lasted a few lifetimes. So during high school, my mom met her father and found him sick and living in shambles. She took him in and began to care for him, the financial and emotional burden was overwhelming. I couldn’t find money for university so I dropped out of George Washington University during midterms and went home to find my mom in the hospital at her last rope. She retired early, and we took our little family to St Croix, USVI where I helped take care of my estranged grandfather and took as many classes as I could at a local studio.My grandfathers health deteriorated and we moved to Puerto Rico for better health care where I immediately took a YTT at Ashtanga Yoga Puerto Rico and never looked back. Are there lessons you learn while teaching others? If so what do you find useful from teaching others?    Teaching always reminds me how sublime the complexity of life really is; that our bodies have a lot to show us. All the people it took to birth you, their lifetimes live in your skin, your muscles, your bones, down to the synapse of your neurons. There are lots of shitty situations that can leave you feeling broken and purposeless. One thing I believe is we are all God experiencing themself through the wilderness of life in this universe; in moments we spend with each other we can find another face of God meandering through this journey we are all a part of. Only I could have been born, with this skin, soul and body. Whatever I am, I am the energy God decided should be here right now.What was your first memory ever?           I think it was singing The Boy is Mine with my Titi Nancy in her car. Whenever I was with her, the space we were in always felt like love & I could feel it in the air. She taught me how to have a good time.  I learned to stay true to myself by watching myself die? How can you relate to this quote?I try to not be afraid of failure or destruction. I think there can be beauty in obliteration. For the sake of balance, I can’t be afraid of the ugliness. Sometimes we need to strip ourselves of the things that make our lives “prettier.” On my mat, I bring myself down to the gritty, bare version of myself to see what’s at my core. What’s left when all the bullshit is destroyed? I’m bare-assed and exposed. Alone with myself, I deconstruct what I’ve built to see what truly is. Shit happens and sometimes I’m crushed. I have lost direction and had to start from scratch. I’ve failed, fucked up and had to watch bits of myself die. Like a dead limb threatening to poison me, I’ve cut off bad habits, thoughts, ideas or even goals I’ve set for myself. I’m still young and try to practice courage, so I can be my own true self. I know that more destruction is in my future because I want to create; and the two go hand in hand. In my evolution, there will be several versions of me. Through my practice, I shed, renew and find my truth. Have you had any mystical and metaphysical experiences practicing yoga/meditation?     My yoga practice helps me manage my sensitivity. My dedication clears out the excess. If I’m not conscious and present I will carry a lot of things that don’t serve me. With a consistent practice, I see/hear the guidance I need much clearer. I can walk closer to my divine path. So in a sense, yoga helps me handle the metaphysical and mystical parts of my life that otherwise overwhelm me.I noticed you like quotes, reflect on what this one could mean to you? “The moment we realize our imagination is as tangible as our memory experience becomes limitless.”   We live in a world of possibilities. Even with the privilege of western living, I forget how much influence I have on my own path. My imagination & past experiences can help shape my present. Whatever future I see for myself, I can bring it to fruition through discipline, dedication and faith. But through non-attachment, I believe we can find even more success. So often life will offer you a path radically different from what we intended; and its probably wilder than our imagination can fathom.How can yoga be a good tool for recovering from the aches and pains that come with skating?   While it is obviously great for recovery, I think yoga & maybe more specifically Ashtanga, is the perfect tool for skaters. It offers us muscular and skeletal alignment, to keep the body safe. Skating asks a lot of the body, but there is no limit to your progress if you pair your training with some primary series. The mind/body connection will maximize your potential in the street, on a ramp or in a derby bout. In which ways has your practice taken your mind off of your self and how does that help those around you? In class the discussions are often about “me” “i” “the self”, and while this is really fucking important   ( I realize all mental, spiritual or even physical work begins from within), it’s so vital we address our communal responsibilities. A good grounding practice can harness a deeply rooted connection. And when I ground myself, I release my individuality and accept more of the infinite. I realize the inescapable relation between me & everyone/thing. When I’m grounded, I more readily see the beauty & strength in the people around me & try to remind them of it. When my root energy flows I give compliments, I share good energy, I dance, I can love more thoroughly. What has been the most important question you can ask yourself at this point in life?     This is tricky. I often ask myself, “What’s next?” But I don’t think its the most important question. Maybe its: “Am I living my truth?”Is there anything else you would like to share with the readers of infocus247.com    Something I try to tell myself on the regular: Live fiercely & humbly. Be radically at peace with yourself.

Yogi Selects: SamrbarberMorris

 Another cool yogi I follow on IG SamRbarberMorris  Going to her page feels like a bright beam of sunshine! This was a photo taken from the spaceship we conducted the interview below enjoy!! 

If you could choose another body to be in not limited to human which body do you think would be best for yoga adventures?

I’ve always felt connected to snakes. The way that they slither and move is so much a continuous practice of immense strength and effortless flexibility. Their awareness of their whole body is a feat and is something I aspire to cultivate in my asana practice.

It has been said that pain is stored in our muscles, joints, bones pretty much all over our body, has yoga been useful too in tapping into past experiences that need to be revisited?

A million times yes. Tapping into the resistances and blocks in my own body helped me bring to the forefront of my mind things that I had never faced even through therapy, treatment, and all self-medicating habits I took on. It still feels like this practice is peeling back layers and layers of bullshit and connecting back into a healthy spirit – one who has learned how to let go. My body follows suit.

With every goodbye you learn, what has been a difficult lesson for you to live through?

I have been learning recently how to accept love with openness instead of defensiveness. I encountered my first sex offender at 5 years old. I learned at a young age to hide and protect parts of myself so that I wouldn’t have to be hurt again. It’s decades later and I’m only beginning to learn what it feels like to be safe. It’s not what happened back then that is difficult to accept, it’s learning to feel safe for the first time in my body since then.

Which crystal are you currently attracted to and explain why you may be intuitively connected?

Different crystals call to me at different phases in my life. Right now, moonstones are my supreme guide. I think it’s perfect – a stone for restoring the balance of feminine, creative, and calming energy, great for opening the heart, and a guide for travelers. Sounds like the work I’m ready to do now.

Have you had any mystical and metaphysical experiences practicing yoga/meditation? 

As a child, my mom’s hypnosis & parapsychology mentor would teach me hypnosis and how to enter altered states. Through that I healed my own trauma, also had some luck reading people’s emotional states, and astral-projecting. Often times when I’m in deep meditation I lose track of an hour easily and sometimes I feel my whole body vibrating with the earth.

Is there a way to create a business from your passion for yoga without compromising the passion? How do you manage to keep a balance

It’s what I’m striving to do now. Finding that balance is always tricky but I try to keep the community in mind always. Accessibility is a huge issue but I have been lucky to partner with spaces that allow me to offer free community classes and donation based classes on top of my regular paying jobs. As of now, I feel grateful that I haven’t had to compromise any of my values – I’m able to bring my authentic yoga practice to people who need it everyday. My greatest hope is that I can continue doing that.

Create an analogy using the ocean and waves that would reflect how you process the trials and tribulations of life?

There was a day I spent on the beach with some friends. My friend and I were swimming in the ocean behind the break line, riding huge waves before they crashed on the shore. When we were ready to go back she started swimming hard, wave after wave crashing into her. Resisting the pull of the water as she swam to get back. That’s how I used to go through life – all out and hard. Fighting to get to my destination as soon as possible, to just get through the trials.Now I do what I did then, anytime a wave came behind me, I ducked my head underwater and let the wave push me towards the shore. I’d come up, swim a little more and then repeat. I came up to shore smiling, being in flow with the ocean is amazing.. My friend came up panting. This is not to say that trials and tribulations become easy, far from it.. but I suppose I’ve learned to surrender to what I can’t change, move where and when I can, let everything else just flow. I find myself smiling through the challenging parts, there’s a lot of good stuff there too when I slow down, a lot of learning, a lot of growing.

What was your first memory ever?

My first memory was walking when I was maybe a year old. It’s one of the few, if not only, memories I have with my father. I was walking, fell on my face, and chipped my front tooth which stayed that way until it fell out 6 years later.

How has yoga improved your mental flexibility and what were are open to now that you weren’t before?

As time passes, with consistent practice my body began to open up and change. All the things I used to think I couldn’t do became more and more possible. It’s a real visceral experience of how limited our minds can be – in short, I didn’t know shit. Probably still don’t. We are so full of potential energy and given practice and patience I feel that there is so much we can learn. I’ve started working for myself which is something I never thought I could do, I’ve even started taking up piano again which I gave up as a kid and swore I could never do. If we never try, we can never know

Is there anything else you would like to share with the readers of infocus247.com

Thank you for taking the time to read my little contribution. I’m grateful for the space to express..

Book Select: Natures Finer Forces and The Science of Breath

The Science of Breath and the Philosophy of the Tattvas. The Tattvas are the five modifications of the Great Breath or the central impulse which keeps matter in a certain vibratory state. The book was translated from the Sanskrit in 1894, showing the religion of ancient India had a scientific basis. Contents include: The Tattvas, Evolution, The Mutual Relation of the Tattvas and of the Principles, Prâna, The Mind, The Cosmic Picture-Gallery, The Manifestations of Psychic Force, Yoga-The Soul, The Spirit, and The Science of Breath.

 

Read the PDF here @ Archive.Org