Spring Equinox: Eileen Barbour

As I look out at this March snowfall, I am having a hard time believing Spring is almost here.  The Spring Solstice, or Vernal Equinox, falls on March 20th this year. It occurs when day and night are equal. The equinox brings the balance of light and dark to alert nature and ourselves that it is time for an awakening and rebirth. This is the perfect time of year to think about clearing out what is not serving you, both metaphorically and physically, making space for gratitude and grace. This practice will lead to a more authentic and satisfying life.

In yogic philosophy, the Yamas are a guide to how we treat the world around us.  The concept of Aparigraha, the fifth Yama, is about letting go of ideas, thoughts, and emotions that drag us down. It asks us to live simply and with generosity towards everyone. When you clean out and organize that pesky junk drawer (I have two) you feel a weight lifted and more energetic. You have opened that drawer on many occasions, thrown something in, an object you are not sure if you want to keep or not and then shut the drawer. You would like to forget about all the dead batteries, old stamps, and phone chargers that are heaped in a messy tangle. You promise yourself that you will organize it later, and then vow to forget about it. But like that negative thought you let rent space in your brain, that drawer finds a place, somewhere deep in your consciousness, to nag at you each time your walk past it. As you let all those thoughts and junk drawers weigh heavy on you, you have no room for new healthy and productive thoughts. 

In addition to the 5 Yamas, there are 5 Niyamas which help us to find balance and peace within ourselves. Saucha, the first Niyama, could apply to this time of year as it asks us to clarify and purify our body, mind, and soul. A new beginning for this season of rebirth, enabling us to find a balance in our life and facilitate an inner calm. One way to clear your mind this spring is to get in touch with nature, such as taking a mindful walk in the woods, concentrating on all the new growth and the unique sounds as they float by. As your mind and body relaxes, contemplate what you can do without. Take the time to renew your commitment to self-care.

In your commitment to self-care, join me on Sunday March 18, 2018 at Exhale Yoga from 12pm-2pm in a Restorative Yoga class accompanied by the beautiful live music of Michelle Qureshi. We will celebrate the expanding light by opening our hearts to all the possibilities spring has in store for us.

Namasté Eileen

Winter Solstice: Eileen Barbour

The winter solstice is the shortest day of the year, and in many cultures, it is a time of celebration. Mother nature is hibernating, all the food is gathered and stored, and people celebrate the expectation of longer days and spring flora. Don’t spend this time of the year in expectation for the next or warmer season. This is a glorious opportunity to take the time to rest both emotionally and physically. Take the time slow down and to turn inward. Scan your body emotionally and physically and find places that need self-nurturing. Even your yoga practice can move at a slower pace; breathe longer into a pose, spend more time in shavasana, and use this time to find your true heart. As you emerge from this well spent time of self-care, your soul and heart will shine from within, you will be able to share with others your joy and peace.

In our modern-day culture, this time of the year can be very stressful and overwhelming. Keeping up your yoga practice and finding some time for self-care will help to keep you balanced and not threatening to harm the Salvation Army bell ringers or a family member. Try to remember to keep it simple, embrace the chaos and celebrate your reason for the season. 

During this time of year we also tend to start thinking about our New Year’s resolutions, how we will eat better, spend less money and exercise more. These thoughts can be very stressful and in a lot instances we end up feeling guilty because we crash and forget our good intentions if not by the first week, then by the third week of January. This new year think in more positive terms about how you can improve your life through the year. 

In the Sutras, Patanjali talks about Samskaras as subtle impressions of our past actions and thoughts. Think of your brain as a mind field that has rivers and streams running through it, clear rivers and streams are your positive habits, healthy thoughts and plain old good vibes. If your water is cloudy, muddy and full of muck, it is a sign that you are weighed down by old thought patterns that do not serve you anymore and negative reactions that you continue to use even though they have not led to a successful and happy outcome. One way to clean up the muck, is to set an intention with your full awareness and presence. Change will not happen overnight, studies show it takes 21 days to adopt a habit, so make small changes and stay present with those changes till you feel you have fully integrated them into your daily life. One way to find your intention and vision, is to turn inward and meditate. Many ideas are accessible in the silence. Take your intention and weave it into your practice, set a mantra and come back to it with your breath. Try not to think in terms of world peace or ending hunger, take baby steps, when you find yourself at impasse, stop and revisit your intention. Don’t be afraid to change directions or rethink your plan, you just need to listen and follow your heart.

Embrace your inner desire to slow down and join me on Sunday, December 17, 2017 at Exhale Yoga Pendleton, from 10am to noon, for restorative yoga accompanied by live acoustic guitar. We will embrace the winter and ease into the spring.

Namaste,

Eileen

The 8 heathy miracles of winter yoga:

http://www.activebeat.co/fitness/the-8-healthy-miracles-of-winter-yoga/

The Miracle of Your Mat: Eileen Barbour

A few weeks ago, something very sad happened to a friend of mine, one of those things that you couldn’t even imagine. It was an unthinkable pain and extreme disappointment. I felt her pain, but have no real experience of her sorrow.  I ached so much for this young woman and couldn’t figure out how ease the pain I felt for her and her family. I came to my mat to meditate, move and breathe. During my practice the sharp pain receded into an ache and I was able to see that there was a future for this young family and life would go on for them. I cannot ease the pain and angst my young friend still feels and will for a very long time, but my need to face this sorrow brought me to my yoga philosophy. I am very grateful that it helped me to experience the pain and see through the other side. Experiencing the sorrow leads us to feel the joy on the other end. I am grateful for my practice and how it helps me to find balance in my life. 

It is the season of thanksgiving, so take time to be grateful for the simplicity of your life that is in the here and now. The color of the changing trees, the smell of a cooking meal, and the family you have created to share all this with.  I have an incredible group of cousins and extended family that I have had the good fortune to accompany on this crazy journey of life. We have suffered many sorrows together, but we have shared many joys together. 

Join me on Thanksgiving morning at 9:15 am at Exhale Yoga Pendleton for a moving practice on your mat. Practicing a grateful, moving vinyasa on the morning of Thanksgiving will help create spaces in your body and mind to open your hearts to family and friends for the holiday. You will be ready for the family, food and fun. The cost is a cash donation of your choice and all the proceeds will go to the Wheeler Mission.  

“With mindfulness, we can learn the art of transforming any moment into a happy moment, a legendary moment. It is the art of arriving in the present moment to recognize all the conditions of happiness we already have. And it is at the same time the art of transforming our suffering. The two go together. Recognizing our conditions of happiness and cultivating moments of happiness helps us handle and embrace our suffering. Watering our seeds of joy and wellbeing helps our suffering transform.” - Thich Nhát Hanh, The Art of Living.

A vinyasa will help you heal and feel the joy of letting go. As you breathe into your pose, take your body to its edge, your thoughts move gently in and out of your consciousness. 

Read more about a warrior meditation from Kathryn Budig in yoga Journal:

https://www.yogajournal.com/practice/kathryn-budigs-moving-meditation

Namaste,

Eileen

Autumnal Equinox: Eileen Barbour

The equinox means that length of night and day are the same. In the spring, with the summer equinox, you are ready to break out of your winter doldrums. The days are longer and the nights are shorter. We feel lighter and freer to move about, we wear lighter clothing and spend more time outside. With the Autumn Equinox, in the fall, the nights will start to get longer, we tend to pull within ourselves, contemplate and rest, we become dormant as nature does, without sunlight and warmer temperatures.

The Autumn Equinox is a time to rebalance ourselves, we have the time to look inward into our true self. We are light and dark, conscious and unconscious, and passive and aggressive. It is time to embrace our dark side and not be afraid of it. We can take this time to move inside ourselves to recalibrate the Yin and Yang of our personalities. In the lighter months of Summer, we play more and meditate less, concentrate on outside parts and ignore our inner being. All this lightness and fun is wonderful, but as with everything else in life it needs to be balanced. We can embrace the shorter days, turn inward and find peace.

Autumn is a time to plant a seed or Bija (Sanskrit for seed). There is a transformative power of that seed or idea you plant in the dark soil, when it is nourished by your self-care during the winter months. Transfer the seedling to the garden in the spring, cultivate the soil and watch it flourish. In this over connected world we live in it seems impossible to think of nurturing ourselves, but if we don’t take the time to recharge our body, mind, and soul we cannot embrace all our life’s journey, with all the love we offer to others and all the love we are open to receive. 

Restorative yoga is one way to soften our hearts and calm our minds. Restorative yoga boosts your immune system, will balance your nervous system and quiet your mind. The restorative poses and breathing practices aid in the healing of emotional and physical pain. When you practice this slower more intentional form of yoga, you find the ability to slow down and recover and maybe start a personal meditation journey. When your muscles relax, your breathing becomes more measured and your heart rate slows down. Your body and mind will learn to transition more quickly from stress to calm. When the body is relaxed and the nervous system is balanced, you are more able to be in the present moment. 

Join me on Sunday, September 24, from 10am to 12pm for a long restorative practice, this falls a few days after the Autumnal Equinox and we can prepare for the winter solstice. 

Sunlight and Shadow
Go with in.
Focus your senses. Face the challenge.
Balance sunlight and shadow.
Blend the path.
This is the way of the Tao.

TAO.56

Namasté-Eileen 

Thank You

I cannot believe it’s been a year since Exhale first opened! It’s so fun to reminisce on the feelings of excitement, anticipation, and nervousness we had last year as we were preparing to open our doors. For our open house we invited several wonderful vendors, such as, SkinLove LLC, Nelson’s Tea, and Middle Moon Malas. The vendors all arrived early to set up their displays and while they were doing that my mom and I ran into the other room whispering to each other, “What if no one shows up? What if we’re just standing here with the vendors all day? What if we’ve just wasted their time!?” Of course, those fears did not come to fruition. Soon the studio began to fill with members of the community, our family, and our friends. The community welcomed us with open arms and smiling faces. Thank you. 

In return I hope Exhale has provided you with a safe place for practice and connection, a place you can come to be lifted up when you’re feeling down, a place where you can celebrate the good and learn to better cope with the bad, a place where you feel supported, a place where you feel at peace. To everyone who has walked into our studio and to those that have not yet made that first step, please know that you are loved, you are supported, and you are perfect just the way you are. We welcome all and we welcome you with open arms and smiling faces, just like the community welcomed us. 

Thank you all for your support this past year. We are looking forward to continuing to serve the community. There are many exciting things ahead, so stay tuned!

Deep Peace to You + Namaste,

Lindsay 

Celebration: Eileen Barbour

I am amazed that it has been a year since this studio opened. I was looking through my notes of past classes and meditations. When Exhale opened, I had only been teaching about five months, and was still finding my teaching sea legs. My notes from those first classes were three pages long. I wrote down every cue and step that I could conceivably need for a one hour class. This has been a joyous journey of our Exhale Yoga Community, here a few things I have learned and cherished this year:

Kula means community of the heart. We as a yogi community, whether here in our studio, downtown at Monumental Yoga, or anywhere else in the universe…we are all connected as an intentional family, and for that I am truly grateful. 

We are all perfectly imperfect. “I do not have to be perfect.  All I have to do is show up and enjoy the messy, imperfect and beautiful journey of my life.” ~ Kerry Washington. I understand and hope I can teach the idea that we arrive from different places on our mat. And keep in mind that our body, mind and spirit can occupy a space differently from day to day or hour to hour. The fact that you show up to practice and breathe deeply on your mat, makes you a yogi. 

Russell Simmons asked on Twitter for people to share their yoga mantra, the reason they practice this beautiful process. Here is my #yogainspiration: I started for the exercise, I stayed for the peace it brought me and I teach because it is my calling. 

Gratitude for the beautiful blessings of my life, the studio, the community and my practice.

Joy of teaching, sharing my knowledge and experience.

Getting to know my students, they encourage me to be my authentic self and I hope I show them the way to theirs.

One part of our practice that I don’t think we spend much time teaching is setting our intention. I thought since we are reflecting over the last year, it might be a good time to revisit the need for setting our intention before we start our practice. I encourage my students to settle onto their mat with their breath and let go of everything that has happened during the day. It is time to clear your mind, put these pesky monkeys to sleep and follow your breath. Our intention helps us to be more mindful on the mat and maybe lets us carry that intention off the mat into our life.  It can elevate our time on the mat from an exercise to a practice. I try to set a theme for my class that revolves around my intention for the day or the week. Sometimes I try to incorporate different yoga concepts and how they apply today and how we can use them to be of service to others. One of my favorites is Aparigrahah, for one because I have mastered how to say it, but I really love the concept. Your intention is to let go of the junk in your trunk. Physically and emotionally. As the Buddha says, “you can only lose what your cling to”.

Namasté- Eileen

Top 10 Yoga intentions

http://intentblog.com/todays-featured-yoga-blog-maria-santoferraro-daily-downward-dog-top-10-yoga-intentio/

Sunday Evening: Eileen Barbour

“Yoga is like Music, the rhythm of the body, the melody of the mind, and the harmony of the soul creates the symphony of life.” ~BKS Iynegar

Sunday evening, at dusk, that magic time when the day turns to night, our back yard was full of tiny lights blinking off and on. I remember as a kid catching lighting bugs in a mason jar and being so disappointed the next morning when not only did they not light up but they were mostly dead. They have a short life span, especially when you do not create the right environment for them to live.  As I watched our puppy so fascinated with these exotic, Hoosier fireflies, I thought about the awe of nature when you are a child. And how we can recreate that feeling, by slowing down, breathing and meditating outside. A simple walk in the woods can restore your equanimity and change your perspective on life. 

The Firefly is also a yoga pose, also known as Tittibhasana, that requires a great deal of concentration and strength. As with all yoga poses, there are prep poses that allow you to build up to the final balance pose. In Firefly, you use your core and inner thighs to lift into the arm balance.  I have included links to a couple of Yoga Journal articles, that will give more instruction and videos, for those interested in learning or improving this pose.

The fireflies, pose and insect, led me back to BKS Iynegar, one of the founding fathers of modern day yoga. Iyengar yoga concentrates on exact alignment in the poses and using your breath to stay in the poses for a length of time. Iyengar also believed in the use of all kinds of props to find your full expression of a pose. I tend to like the flowing dynamic of sequences or a vinyasa flow for my practice, but I am a big proponent of using props to help with any pose. I am attracted to Iyengar’ s philosophy on yoga and life, that the union of body, mind and spirit will lead you to find the divine spot, between past and future, in the present.

When moving into a pose, a new pose or a difficult one you are trying to master, remember to be kind to yourself. Yoga is the joy of the journey, building from the first step to your full expression of the pose. It isn’t on a timetable and each time on your mat is different, take the time to fully immerse yourself into the union of your body, mind and breath. When you come to your mat remember to keep the Yama of Ahisma in mind. It is the first of the Yamas, in Patanjali’s Sutras, it means to practice being non-harming or non-violent, towards yourself and other living creatures on this earth. To practice Ahisma, keep kindness in your thoughts, words and deeds. You offer yourself kindness and patience on and off your mat, then you can share your compassion with those around you. Iyengar took a wider view of Ahisma, it means simply “love”.

The quote below, found in his book “Light on Yoga”, talks about our physical balances, such as Firefly, and balance in our life. 

BKS Iyengar in Light on Yoga

“Balance does not mean merely balancing the body. Balance is the foundation for balance in life. In whatever condition in life one is placed, one must find balance. Balance is the state of the present-the here and now. If you balance in the present, you are living in eternity. When the intellect is stable, there is no past, no future only present. Do not live in the future, only the present is real. The mind takes you constantly to the future, as it plans, worries and wonders. Memory takes you to the past, as it ruminates and regrets. Only the Self takes you to the present, for the divine can be experienced now. The past, present and future are held together in each asana as thought, word and deed become one.”

https://www.yogajournal.com/practice/challenge-pose-4-steps-lift-firefly

https://www.yogajournal.com/practice/3-poses-prep-firefly

Yoga for Life

There are many misconceptions about yoga that might prevent a person from walking into a yoga class. “But I’m not flexible enough to do yoga!” “I can’t do a handstand!” “I’ve seen those yoga pictures on Instagram…I can’t move my body like that!” 

While fancy, photo-worthy yoga poses can be fun to some, that is not what yoga is all about! The point is not the pose. I believe that yoga is the key to a happy, healthy life. Yoga benefits us physically, mentally, emotionally, & spiritually, but today I will only be discussing some of the physical benefits. 

Yoga is a celebration of the body! It helps increase flexibility, and depending on which type of class you’re taking, strength too. Your body wants to be able to do what you ask of it. It wants to be able to perform everyday tasks such as bending over to pick up your children or grandchildren or tie your shoes or pick up something you dropped. It wants to be able to lift you from a chair without assistance or discomfort. It wants to be able to reach high into the kitchen cabinets to grab those dishes only used on special occasions. It wants to ride a bike or go on a walk, if that’s what you want it to do! If we are currently capable of doing all these things, they are easy to take for granted, but without proper care of our body these tasks can become more and more difficult as we age. 

In order to perform properly, our muscles need to be supple and strong. Supple enough to move with ease and strong enough to perform everyday tasks and the hobbies we enjoy.  Have you ever seen a bodybuilder with huge muscles but can barely move? This is an example of a person who has great strength, but their muscles are not supple and eventually they may find they cannot perform some everyday tasks due to this limited flexibility. In my opinion, our workouts should include functional movements that help our bodies to be able to continually perform everyday tasks with ease. I don’t mean to bash bodybuilding, I’d just recommend adding a weekly yoga class or two in order to help increase flexibility if bodybuilding is a passion of yours. 

My point is that, in my opinion, a regular yoga practice can help keep your body working for you as you age and the wonderful thing about yoga is that you can continue this practice for life—my 88 year old grandmother attends Chair Yoga at our studio! So, no matter your age or physical abilities I truly believe you can benefit from yoga. Maybe you feel stiff and achy and your flexibility is not where you’d like it to be, that’s okay! There’s no pre-requisite for flexibility to attend a yoga class. Yoga can help with that! In fact, you could probably ask me any question and my answer would be, “YOGA!” 

So, I encourage you to hop on the mat and start showing your body a little love. It works so hard for us, after all. 

’Til next time, my friends.

Namaste,

Lindsay

How Yoga Changed Me: Eileen Barbour

Samskaras are changes in your patterns of thinking. I first heard of Samskaras in a New Year’s Day warm vinyasa class. As a recovering alcoholic, New Year’s Day was not always a good time for me.

I was often trapped in the regretful prison of my mind. Remembering—or worse, not remembering—what happened the night before. Anxiety and regret permeated my mind and body. It was exhausting. I would pledge never to let it happen again. But of course, the next opportunity came along, and I jumped right back in, those opportunities came closer and closer together. I was raised in an alcoholic family where dependency and codependency were the normal coping behavior. When I went out into the world, I was quite surprised to find people who did not use alcohol as a way of life.

By the time I took that New Year’s Day class, I had been practicing yoga for a few years and had been sober for 10 years. Through the help of therapy and family support, I was living a very happy sober life. I enjoyed the physical practice of yoga, but I had not come to understand the value of the body, mind and spirit coming together as one on the mat. Also, the glorious ability to take these experiences of the mat into your everyday life.  I began to read more of the spiritual side of yoga and was attracted to the idea of Samskaras.

Samskaras reflect the emotional experiences and mental patterns of your life. They give you an opportunity for self-study, Svadhaya. I was able to address my traumatic experiences and focus on creating clearer emotional paths for myself. I was able to encourage more spiritual and peaceful grooves in my brain that led to a peaceful coexistence in this world of turbulence. I am able to stay in the present more frequently and avoid the old anxieties of the past. Not always successful, but yoga and life are a journey, and I learned that fun is in the journey that is filled with faith, hope and love.

The teacher who taught that New Year’s Day class became my yogi and guided me and ten other sweet souls through teacher training last year. Jen gave me the insight and the knowledge that I now share with others. Hopefully, I can make a small difference in their lives. Namasté.

Eileen Barbour

Self Compassion as Intention for the New Year

First, some of you may be asking, “What the heck is an intention?” Yoga teachers often prompt students to set an intention for their practice, but do you really know what they’re talking about? Ahlia Hoffman from Mind Body Green explains, “An intention is bringing your attention and awareness to a quality or virtue you wish to cultivate for your practice both on and off of your mat.” If you’ve been practicing yoga for a while, you may have already noticed that what comes up on your mat, comes up in your everyday life. For example, when you get into a difficult asana (yoga posture), do you try to escape by stopping to fix your hair or towel off? What about when things get difficult in relationships or just in life? Or do you find yourself pushing through a chaturanga as if you have something to prove when your body is telling you to take child’s pose instead? (Guilty!) How does your ego show up in your everyday life? A regular yoga practice can help you begin to notice these little things about yourself and setting an intention can help you cultivate change.

Many times the teacher will offer students a suggestion for an intention, in case one needs some inspiration. The intention I have been offering in light of the new year is self-compassion. Self-compassion is an important message throughout Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, an ancient text that is highly regarded by the yoga community. As a Type A personality and perfectionist I tend to struggle with self-compassion, but this idea resonated with me as I began to think about my intentions and goals for the new year because I noticed I was judging myself a little too harshly. 

The new year can be exciting as we ponder the all the potential the upcoming year holds. It’s also a time we feel we can let go of the past and start over, which can be rejuvenating. On the other hand, we tend to focus on those things we didn’t accomplish last year, what we don’t like about ourselves, and things we feel we need to “fix”. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to better ourselves, but our mindset often turns to, “I’ll be happy when…” What have you been telling yourself you need so you can be happy? When you lose 30 pounds? When you get that big promotion? When you travel to that place you’ve always wanted to go? Once you accomplish your “I’ll be happy when” goal, you may feel really good for awhile but soon enough there will be something else you "need" in order to be happy.

This is where setting intentions vs. goals becomes important. An intention is a path that helps us to live in the present moment whereas a goal is focused on the end result. Now, don’t get me wrong, goal setting is still important and intentions and goals can actually work together. For example, setting an intention of self-compassion while working towards a goal can make the journey towards the goal more enjoyable and may even help you accomplish the goal in the long run. Have you ever set a goal, messed up along the way, and then decided to just quit? Perhaps if you’d have shown yourself a little self-compassion and allowed yourself to make mistakes you may have continued onward instead of telling yourself you didn’t deserve it.

Baron Baptiste, an accomplished yoga instructor said, “The prize is in the process.” This phrase can be applied to learning a challenging new yoga posture or even working towards your biggest life goal. The “prize” isn’t finally achieving that posture or getting that promotion, it’s what you learn about yourself along the way. Life doesn’t start when you finally meet your goals. It’s happening right now! So, I encourage everyone to consider making self-compassion an intention for your new year and show yourself some loving kindness as you navigate the ups and downs this year may hold, all while working towards your goals. Know that you are worthy of love, compassion, and all things wonderful.

Techniques for cultivating self-compassion:

  • Meditation
    • Can increase mindfulness, which can help retrain the brain from negative thought patterns
  • Pay attention to your self talk
    • What are you saying to yourself? Would you say it to a loved one? If your self talk is negative, just notice, and without judging yourself, replace the negative thought with a positive one
  • Daily affirmations
    • I am always compassionate and loving with myself.
    • Everything I need is already within me.
    • I am right where I need to be.
    • I am worthy of all things wonderful.
    • I am not perfect, nor do I need to be.
  • Self-care
    • Schedule time each day or week to do something for yourself. Something that you enjoy or that will benefit you in some way, i.e. reading, yoga, exercise, massage, hiking, etc.

Do you have any of your own techniques for cultivating self-compassion that aren't listed above? Please share in the comments below!

Deep Peace to You,

Lindsay