The Four Desires and your New Year

by Elizabeth Ruff

Oh, tis the season for intentions and resolutions. Yes, here is one more reminder that it is important to live your life with focused energy! I have been studying for the past seven years with Yogarupa Rod Stryker, and a big part of his work that has spoken to me in is teaching comes from the ancient Vedic teachings he calls the Four Desires. Allow me to give you a brief summary in this blog, and if you are so drawn to learn more I encourage you to get his book entitled the Four Desires.

First off , when you are looking at an intention or resolution, it’s really helpful to get clear about the lesson that you are tired of learning, or how you hold yourself back from living a fulfilled life. This in and of itself can be some pretty uncomfortable work. Yoga and meditation are, of course, imperative in this exploration of our Self. Can you think back on a snapshot of your life and the struggles that you may have had? What is a consistent theme that you have experienced, maybe a reoccurring emotion? Some story that you are unable to let go of? An idea that it’s always someone else’s fault? Some limiting belief?

There are many ways that these tiresome lessons can take place. Personally, I noticed that when I am not seen as “successful” I feel small and insignificant, like I am not leading my best life. This, in turn, holds me back because I am unwilling to find celebration in the small things, the things I do just for me. And then I want to stop doing them, and get back to this stuff that gets me acknowledgment. It’s a vicious cycle sometimes!

Once you’ve done the hard work of getting clear about what lesson you no longer want to learn, then you can start to dive into the part of your life that could use a little more Shakti, or life force energy. The four qualities, or desires, that have been brought forth from The Vedas are Artha (means- money, home, food), Kama (pleasure- art, sensuality, beloved connections), Moksha (freedom, empowered choice), and Dharma (life purpose- NOT always your job). Do a meditation geared to focus specifically on your heart, then tune in and ask ” what would be the most potent part of your life to focus on as an antidote to this lesson that you are tired of learning.”

From there, get curious about how you want to feel in your life! What makes you feel really alive. Like you’re connected to the universe on the bigger scale, and living your most important self. Then it’s just a matter of filling in the colorful adjectives to fill out the corners of your New Year’s intention. The yogis refer to this more specifically as a Sankalpa. And in the art of creating a Sankalpa, this intention would be quantifiable, or qualifiable. In other words there would be a specific result that you could attain, or a specific life shift that you would notice by fulfilling this Sankalpa. In its most basic sense it is that antidote for that lesson that you are tired of learning and ready to move through.

Blessings on your journey, and please remember that regular Asana and meditation are an important part of the deeper work that actually happens after you have the intention in place! It’s the continued focus that makes the magic happen. I look forward to seeing you on the mat soon!

Happy 2019,
Love, Elizabeth

Click here to learn more about Elizabeth Ruff and see her teaching schedule.

Meet the maternity subs!

With the 3 OMS baby boom underway, we will be welcoming 3 lovely ladies who will be taking on some of their classes while Dani, Minta, and Gentri are on leave. Just a reminder — Dani’s leave started at the end of December, Gentri is planning on teaching through the end of January, and Minta until mid-late February — but of course, this can always change! Be sure to check the online schedule for the most accurate class and teacher listings as we move through the next couple of months.

All three of these new additions have been subbing classes here at 3 OMS regularly and teach at other places around town, so you may know them and have experienced their excellent teaching and caring presence already. But if not, here’s a little bit about each and what you might expect when you attend their classes. We are so grateful for them stepping in to support our community during this exciting time!

Laura Orso

Laura Orso began practicing yoga in early 2013 initially to help with lower back problems. After just several months her back pain was gone, but she had gotten more benefits than she had expected. Along with the strength and flexibility that comes from a regular yoga practice, she felt much more calm in her mind and aware of her body. After a few years of consistent practice she decided to follow her passion and her calling of helping people by becoming a yoga teacher. She has been teaching for almost three years now and loves every second of it. She hopes to help you achieve new heights in your yoga practice, whether it be body, mind, or in spirit.

Hannah Losser

To me, yoga is equal parts celebration and surrender. When life becomes stressful or chaotic, my mat is a place of remembering. Remembering strength. Remembering grace. Remembering the value that comes from slowing down enough to witness simple joys.

Yoga became a part of my life as a means of healing from injuries sustained from years of dancing. I am drawn to vinyasa yoga for its dance-like essence, and I am grateful to share a practice that I have found to be rehabilitative. My classes are powerful and challenging, yet playful and nurturing. I challenge my students to move with intelligence and intuition as they find balance and ease on their mats. I teach from the idea that when we show up with an open heart, we discover that the possibilities within us and surrounding us are endless.

Beth Rusk

Beth is passionate about helping others feel healthy, empowered and connected in their whole beings. Her classes ask that you flow with your breath, let yourself be present to what you feel and be authentic to what you need in each moment. In 2016 Beth received her RYT-200 teacher training in power yoga, and has since completed a mentorship with Amy Robinson. She uses her teacher training, her anatomy knowledge as a massage therapist, and her many years of varied styles of yoga experience to guide you along your own yogic path. Beth believes yoga can help each of us connect into our physical and emotional bodies, breathe fire into our hearts and help us find connection with others. She meets every student right where they are, making yoga accessable to everyone. Whether you are recovering from an injury, are an extreme athlete, or somewhere in between, you will leave her class feeling empowered and supported on your yoga journey. Beth brings an authentic light heartedness and genuine care for others into her teaching. Show up to class ready to breathe, connect, flow and discover.

Ease holiday travel discomfort with yoga

by Irena Lambrou

Wow! It’s December, the holidays are upon us! And with holidays come travel. Many students ask me about yoga when traveling. I get it: airplane bucket seats that compromise the natural curves of your spine, heavy foods and airplane foods, as well as the stress of the holidays that can most certainly raise our blood pressure–insert yoga, please and thank you!

My first piece of advice: Go to yoga or practice at home, or get your blood moving in your own way, pre-flight! The worst feeling is knowing that you had the time for some movement and you made the choice to skip it and sleep in. “But, Irena, my flight is out of Bellingham at 5 am which means I’m waking up at 3 AM!!! Really, go for a walk and practice yoga at 3 AM??”

Ok, if you absolutely cannot get some stretching or movement prior to your flight, here are some ideas for mobility and blood flow while en route (air and/or car) as well as some tips for once you get to your destination:

Plane

  • Breath Work: Alternate Nostril Breathing (Nadi Shodhana)
  • Rotate wrists and ankles while sitting in your seat.
  • Practice your Kegels/mula bandha: Engage pelvic floor muscles and contract sphincter muscles and lift up & back with navel. Hold for 5 seconds, release and repeat.
  • Engage muscle groups for 15 seconds, release, and repeat a few times (think squeezing glutes or engaging abs).
  • Practice Uttanasana (forward folds) at the back of the plane while you are waiting for the bathroom.
  • Brace your hands against arm rests and lift your hips/buttocks off your seat and pause for 3 breaths or more to relieve pressure on the spine.
  • Neck rolls: drop chin to chest and roll Right ear to right shoulder, back to center and over to other shoulder.
  • Put your seat all the way back in a recline position, stretch arms over head and take a nice full stretch!

Hotel:
Quick Yoga Sequence:

  • Downward Facing Dog: 10 Breaths
  • High Plank: Hold One Minute
  • Lower down to belly: Sphinx pose, hold five breaths; Cobra: 3 X
  • Child’s Pose: 5-10 Breaths
  • Warrior 1
  • Warrior 2
  • Triangle
  • Low Lunge with Quad Opening and Twist
  • Core work
  • FInal twist
  • Take Savasana!! You deserve it!
  • 3-5 Minutes Meditation or Breath

Tips:

  1. When I fly, I usually take some kind of de-bloat supplement: I like Water Factors sold at Whole Foods. This keeps the potassium-sodium equilibrium in your cells, so that you don’t swell.
  2. Hydrate like it’s going out of style! Skip the alcohol, skip the sugar, and skip excess salt.
  3. Walk up and down the aisles of the plane when the seat belt sign is off.
  4. Driving: Pre-plan to stop for a local hike. On a schedule? Stop at rest stops and walk for 5-10 minutes, or do a few jumping jacks.
  5. Easy items to bring:
  • Travel Mat: I own the Manduka eKo Superlite Travel Mat and I love it to practice on even when I’m at the studio.
  • Tennis ball or lacrosse ball
  • Resistance Band
  • OnGuard doTerra Oil: Rub on hands and feet to ward off viruses and germs!

Click here to learn more about Irena Lambrou and see her teaching schedule.

Holiday supply drive

We believe that healthy children and families are at the heart of a healthy community. When basic needs are difficult to obtain, this impacts the ability for children to learn and thrive in school. This holiday season, we will be collecting donations of personal care items to support the Family Resource Center located at Shuksan Middle School, and open to all Bellingham families.  The center helps link families with local resources, human services, and access to basic needs in order to support and uplift students and families in times of need.  This initiative is part of the Bellingham School Districts Family Support Services which includes the Family Resource Center, homeless support program, health services, counseling, mental health supports, suicide prevention, social emotional learning, wellness and more.

Items in need:

Laundry Soap  (smaller size containers are easier for families to carry and transport)
Shampoo & Conditioner – new, full size
Toilet Paper
Diapers (size 5 & 6) and Baby Wipes
Deodorant
Toothbrushes and Toothpaste
Dish Soap
Feminine Pads
Bath/Body Soap
Donations can also be made to the Bellingham Public Schools Foundation (check memo: Family Support Fund / Basic Needs)
You can drop off items or checks with us at 3 OMS (we will have some bins in our lobby). We’ll collect through the end of December.

Chipp’s secret to a breakfast that lasts

by Chipp Allard

When you teach and practice physical movement, you need a breakfast that is going to sustain you for hours, not something that is going to leave you hungry again right away.  Smoothies, juices, shakes, protein bars–you name it, I have tried it. I spent years experimenting with different forms of my morning meal, only to find myself still searching. I didn’t want something too heavy, that would slow me down; and I can’t be hungry, because then I am weak, tired and grumpy- not the right mood to be in while teaching yoga!

 

About a year ago I discovered chia pudding, a make-it-yourself morning feast of seeds, nuts, nut butter, dried fruit, fresh fruit, and slow digesting chia seeds. Chia seeds contain calcium, omega 3, fiber and iron, as well as having 5 grams of protein per 3 tablespoons- that’s a lot! They are magical little seeds that form their own thick, pudding-like consistency when mixed with liquid. It took some trial and error, but I have finally perfected my recipe and I am excited to share it with you!

 

This breakfast really showed its value this last month when I was on the road. In the past, while traveling, I have always relied on bars, or just scrounged for anything I could get my hands on. I have even resorted to eating the hotel breakfast (yuck) that never fails to leave me feeling terrible. On this last trip, I packed enough chia puddings for each morning I was away and it was a whole new world. I had my meal ready to go each morning and I didn’t have to worry about where my energy was going to come from for my adventures that day! 

Start with a small bowl or jar. Add:
3 Tablespoons of chia seeds
A pinch of salt
½ cup of almond milk
Stir it up good!
Top with:
1 ( big) tablespoon of nut butter
Handful of blueberries, I use frozen
1 Tablespoon of pumpkin seeds
1 Tablespoon of honey
1 Tablespoon of dried  cranberries
1 Tablespoon of almonds, any sort

Put a lid on and let it sit in the fridge overnight or at least an hour. In the morning, give it a stir and your belly will love you!

See you in class!

Click here to learn more about Chipp Allard and see his teaching schedule.

What is mindfulness?

by Cat Enright

You probably hear this word, mindfulness, almost too often now, and may still wonder what it means. According to John Kabat Zinn, founder of the Center for Mindfulness Medicine at the University of Massachusetts, mindfulness is “paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally.”

Before practicing mindfulness meditation, I assumed that the practice was mind-centered because of its name, and was happily surprised to learn that it is body-centered. “Paying attention” is also known as feeling: feeling your body, right now, with a minimum of judgment or commentary. This might mean feeling the sensation of your feet on the ground or the touch of your breath inside your body.

Meditation

“I just can’t meditate. I can’t quiet my mind, not even for a moment!”

I hear this all the time from students. The mind’s habit is to go elsewhere, to other times and places, everywhere but here and now. That is not a problem! This is just a condition of having a human mind. Through practice we learn to notice the minds wanderings non-judgmentally, with kindness, and then bring the focus back into the body and the breath. At least half of meditation is this coming back, choosing the present with an open heart.

Kindness

For many of us, the kindness is a major obstacle. We are used to working hard, accomplishing things, and being rewarded for this. If you want to work hard, focus on kindness as the heart of your practice. You could call it acceptance, forgiveness, or compassion.

Why do we need to practice kindness? Our human minds have a negativity bias. As we’ve evolved we have had to prioritize safety to survive. The mind is always scanning for danger, looking for parts that need to be put in order or fixed, which develops our skill at noticing what’s “wrong.” We turn this keenly focused lens on ourselves and may only notice what we see as mistakes, only having awareness of the parts we want to improve.

Imagine having an antique teacup, painted with intricate detailed patterns, a delicate gold handle, shaped to your fingers, and your eye goes to the tiny crack. It fixates here, maybe missing everything else. It’s common to have this same experience with our yoga and meditation practices – and indeed, in all of life. In meditation we may only notice that the mind wandered. If we want to experience kindness we have to practice, again and again to balance the mind’s habit toward being critical. We have to meet the mind where it is, notice the attitude we have toward the mind, and choose kindness.

A short practice for you

Sit comfortably, on a chair or cushion. Invite a balance between elegance and relaxation in your seated posture (this makes a difference). Take some deeper breaths. Start to notice where you feel your breath: in your nostrils? Your throat? Your chest? Abdomen? Just notice the feeling and let go of thinking. Keep redirecting your attention to sensations of your breath. Your mind will start to go elsewhere. Remember, this is not a problem but a part of the practice. Regard your mind as you would a small child or a puppy and awaken your natural kindness. Guide the mind back to the feeling of your breath. Allow your body to relax more and continue to watch your breath. When the mind wanders again you might even gently smile, as you would with the young child or puppy, and keep coming back to yourself, to the moment.

Click here to learn more about Cat Enright and see her teaching schedule.

Checking your phone again? Try this instead.

by Sondra Matara

pssssst! Did you know that cell phones and other wearable technology aren’t allowed in class with you? (if you are on-call for medical reasons, please discuss with your teacher prior to class). Yoga is a practice of connection…and DISconnecting with our phones for 60-90 minutes is great for mind, body, and soul. Need some help with letting go? Read on!

I just spent the last four hours working on trying on fixing some computer issues. Four. Hours. And the time just flew by. I can’t remember the last time I was so absorbed by something that I had such one-pointed concentration for so long. The ability to focus so acutely on one thing is the first step in successful meditation, and is called dharana (one of the eight limbs of yoga) in Sanskrit. In today’s world, where we all feel the impulse to constantly be reaching for our phones, looking at our Facebook feed, and checking our email, the ability to concentrate is increasingly more difficult and rare. Lucky for us, though, it’s also something we can practice. Read More

From model to self-love evangelist: my journey to ELM

by Minta Allred

When did you stop thinking you were beautiful? Have you ever thought about this question before? I first heard this question when I watched a Ted Talk by the Global Director of the Dove Self-Esteem Project at Unilever in London, Meaghan Ramsey, called “Why Thinking You Are Ugly is Bad For You”.

I came across this Ted Talk while spending a normal work day researching body image and the impact it has on our sense of self-worth, our relationships, and ultimately how we show up to life each day. Back in 2006, at just 17 years old, I moved down to California. After an attempt at city college, I ended up modeling and acting in Los Angeles. Coming from my background as a homeschooled gal from Orcas Island, this was quite an extreme. I always loved challenges! But oh wow, I was not prepared for the challenge ahead.Read More

Beat the heat with this cool smoothie

by Sondra Matara

We are so blessed here in the PNW to have what must be some of the loveliest summers in the country. Not only is the weather pretty amazing, but we are blessed with so much abundance in produce this time of year! One of the best ways to take advantage of both, is to blend up a cooling smoothie. Stay hydrated, beat the heat, and enjoy the fruits and veggies of the season! Here’s a current favorite:

1 stalk celery
1 c. frozen pineapple and/or mango chunks
1 big handful of parsley
Coconut milk to taste/consistency you like

Blend and enjoy!

In Ayurveda, summer is ruled by the pitta dosha, which can express in the body as agitation, sluggish digestion, sour stomach, and skin irritations. Ingesting cooling foods (look for foods with astringent, bitter, or sweet tastes) is one way you can help to counteract the effects of this fiery season. Other things you can do to balance pitta:

 

–  Stay near water! Swim or bathe in cool water as often as you can

– Cooling yoga practices, such as yin or restorative

– Avoid heating foods such as coffee, alcohol, meats, and fried food. Favor fresh, local vegetables, cooked grains.

Stay cool and enjoy this gorgeous summer while it’s here!

Busting through fear with yoga

by Sondra Matara, 3 OMS Director of Marketing and Community Builder

I have been reading Deepak Chopra’s Why is God Laughing, Here’s the line that has stuck with me:

“Either you’re a person wondering if you have a soul, or you’re a soul who knows that being a person isn’t real.”

Whoa, heavy stuff, right? That line hit me like a ton of breaks, right in my third chakra (this is the solar plexus, aka the spot right underneath your sternum where your ribs separate, aka the “bread basket.” This is the place where we hold our self-identity and fears). So much of our lives are fear-based, but the reality is that we cannot predict the future. Read More