March 27, 2014

Living Our Dharmic Path by Renee Schwartz



A year ago I began dharma lessons with Tracy, and the anniversary prompted me to think about where I’ve been and where I’m going, and to share it with my yoga friends….

What would a life look like if yoga philosophy and teachings were actively applied to it?  What would my life look like?  What would happen if I expanded my yoga practice to look seriously at what it offered as a guide to a more mindful way of approaching each day? Was it really possible to view life differently, and did I want to?

These questions and many others like them led me to begin taking dharma lessons with Tracy.  Loosely defined, Dharma is your life’s path, how you live your life responsibly, knowing and respecting your authentic self. Each person’s dharmic path is different.  Dharma lessons have provided me an opportunity to examine my beliefs, fears, and actions/reactions, and to open my mind and heart to other ways of seeing myself and the world.  The lessons encourage me to be mindful and present, to be guided by ahimsa (nonviolence toward all sentient beings), to reduce suffering.

Each session is structured around a question or a specific yogic concept.  Lessons have ranged from exploring what is my authentic self, to reducing the power fear has over my life (keeps me from being my authentic self and much more), to living more fully in the present, to examining the yamas and niyamas such as ahimsa (nonviolence), santosa (contentment), aparigraha (non-hoarding) and how they relate to daily situations. 

We continue with a topic until it seems time to move on to the next topic, and each one acts as a building block for what comes next.  As you might expect, the most difficult thing is to truly absorb and live by what I’ve learned.  There are moments of great clarity when my actions are focused and positive and increase my wellbeing.  And there are times when it seems like I’m back at square one and haven’t moved forward at all.  Each time that happens I look at where I came from and know I have moved forward, and also know that there’s still more work ahead.

Tracy has been incredibly helpful in this process.  She is supportive and gentle, and also deeply and keenly probing.  She blends her knowledge of yoga philosophy with practical applications that encourage me to incorporate the teachings into my daily life. 

Tracy’s truths and my truths are not always the same, and that is fine because it makes me question deeply whatever we’re working on.  Sometimes I realize my ‘truths’ are old truths and not who I am now.  Other times I hold on to my truths (at least for right now!) and Tracy respects that.  Probably the most important aspect of taking dharma lessons with Tracy is that I trust her, and know that wherever the lessons take me, it will be in a safe and supportive environment. 


It has been an intense year of self-study and discovery, some of it joyful and liberating, some of it difficult and painful.  There have been laughter and tears, doubts and breakthroughs, hard work and contentment.  It is a journey I’m thankful I began and am grateful to continue - and I’m eager to share if anyone would like to know more about the experience.

March 17, 2014

Only Love

There are four questions of value in life.  What is sacred?
Of what is Spirit made?  What is worth living for and what is worth dying for?  
The answer to all of them is the same. 
 Only love.
Johnny Depp

January 06, 2014

New Year New Goal


It’s that time of the year again.

Year’s Resolutions are being made. You’re anticipating all sorts of good changes and improvements. You’ve got your goals all mapped out and you’re feeling amped to watch the magic unfold.
But hold on there ambitious one. If you’re gonna play your cards right, there’s one thing you absolutely MUST understand. And that is…
 The difference between goal setting and goal GETTING.
My guess is the latter is what you’re after.  I mean, sure, it’s fun to set an intention or make a bold declaration, but when it’s all said and done, you want to enjoy the unfolding, the adventure of the journey, and of course the results that conscious creation and clear intentions can bring you, yes?  Good.
Okay, so let’s say that you’re “pre-paving” a year down the road.
  • You’re anticipating that you’ll be more joyful and clear minded in your relationships.
  • You’re anticipating radiant health and a stronger body.
  • You’re anticipating more ease with your finances.
 This is all really really good.
Why?  Because something magical happens when you project into your future experience like this - you launch a rocket of desire that the Universe actualizes around.
To put it another way: YOU, as a powerful creator, here living your life, will (over the next year) undoubtedly experience all sorts of variety and contrast and give birth to all kinds of new preferences, hopes and dreams.
And when you do (and when you allow yourself to ride that current of desire and feel good  while anticipating your success in this new endeavor) the energy that creates worlds, that living “star-stuff” that makes up the Universe, will indeed take the shape of, become, and deliver to you, an exact match to that desire.
 It’s kind of a big deal.
So I encourage you to be incredibly DELIBERATE about this whole Resolution business. After all, what you have here, laid out before you, is a fresh clean slate. This is your opportunity to align with the energy of your boldest, purest desires, to turn up the passion and unleash your creative potential like never before.
But, as I mentioned, we Conscious Creators know that there’s a major distinction between “goal setting” and “goal getting” - and it is crucial to recognize the difference between the two and how they MUST work in tandem if they’re going to work at all. The first method is:
 Traditional Goal Setting
Think back. Did you set goals for this past year? If so, how many of them came to fruition?
This practice of sitting down to map out your goals and intentions for the new year does offer many benefits, for in the process of setting your goals you:
  1. gain clarity about what you want,
  2. focus energy in that direction, and
  3. let go of old baggage or outdated intentions previously set into motion so that you can create space for future outcomes.
 From an energetic or vibrational perspective, however, this method has its drawbacks.
  • For one, it’s incomplete. If the achievement of your goal relies too heavily on action steps (versus energetic alignment as the MAIN factor), it is likely that you’ll expend way too much energy and wear yourself out early on in the game - after all, you’ll be missing out on the leverage that aligned thoughts would’ve otherwise awarded you and you’ll have to “work” 10 times as hard to achieve 1/10th of the results. And since like attracts like and what you focus on expands, this heavy, draining energy tends to be self-reinforcing and can lead you to abandon your goals before February even begins.
  • On top of that, in traditional goal setting we’re often encouraged to be overly specific, especially on the HOW TO part. Unfortunately, when we narrow our focus to such a specific strategy or outcome, we don’t leave any room for positive surprises or for the highest good to come to us in a slightly different package.
  • Most significantly, in traditional goal setting when we make lists of our new goals, we’re typically doing so while focused upon our current “problems” or areas of lack. This focus actually reinforces our experience of a gap between where we are and where we desire to be, which may push the goal even farther away.
According to Universal Law, this happens because if we are not in vibrational harmony with our goals, no amount of efforting, struggling or striving will draw them to us.
Therefore, traditional goal setting on its own won’t get you where you want to go (at least NOT in the most joyful and efficient way). But couple it with the second method - which we’ll cover next - and you’ve got a winning combination.
 Goal Getting
In a nutshell, it basically consists of spending a fair amount of time achieving energetic alignment with the things, people, opportunities and experiences that you would most like to attract into your life - and you do this before your goal setting session, during the action-step process, and essentially anytime you want to FEEL GOOD and increase your chances of success.
To break this “energetic alignment” thing down even further, you might think of it as a 3-step Intentional Creation process:
  1. Ask for what you want in the most powerful way (FOCUS ON WHY YOU WANT IT, NOT HOW YOU’RE GOING TO GET IT)
  2. Move into an energy state that is a match to what you want to receive (FEEL GOOD WHILE YOU ANTICIPATE IT)
  3. Maintain that high vibration so that what you want can find its way to you. (THINK, SAY & DO THINGS THAT WILL KEEP YOU FEELING GOOD AND ANTICIPATING IT)
 Happy New Year! Om Shannnnti!


May 06, 2013

Spring Rituals


Finally it seems we are entering into spring.  This is a time of great renewal and that includes your yoga practice.  Spring is a wonderful time to re-energize your practice with some time-honored techniques.  Many of these techniques help to cleanse the body of the sluggishness of winter, much like spring cleaning your house.  Try these simple yet effective techniques to clean your energetic house and let that fresh air of spring in.

1) BREATHE:  The stale air within our houses and indoor spaces takes its toll on our bodies.  Now that the weather is turning warmer get outside and do some deep breathing.  If you can’t go outside sit by an open window to practice this pranayama technique.
Sit comfortable and close eyes.  Rest hands on belly.  Breathe in through nose until belly is fully extended then hold that breath in for a second or two. Slowly exhale until you feel the belly contract…try to push out the last bit of breath.  Take two normal breaths in between and then do the extended breath again.  Repeat up to 5 times.  This will help to wake up the lungs, the nervous system and will give you increased energy.

2) MOVE:  Get moving with a more energized yoga practice.  Spring is a time to get the cobwebs out of the body and re-awaken the fluid, youthful you. If you take one class a week, spring is a great time to bump this up.  You will definitely notice major advances when you practice more often.  If that’s not possible, this is a wonderful time to start a daily home practice, especially one that starts your day.  Remember that you don’t need to do a whole hour class to benefit.  A couple of significant poses every morning help to jump start the body and balance the mind.  Good ones to start your day are Sun Salutations (or half suns), Triangle pose, Cobra pose, and Tree pose.

3) MEDITATE :Don’t worry…you don’t need to dedicate much time to this either, just a few minutes (perhaps after your asanas) dedicated to sitting quietly and perhaps envisioning the beautiful day you are lucky enough to enter into….  It can really change how your day rolls out.

4) PRACTICE RANDOM KINDNESS:  Even when you are at your most grumpy, try being kind and considerate to others.  You will find it changes your negative energy to positive, and in the meantime sends wonderful vibrations into the universe.  Imagine that with every kind act or thought another flower blooms somewhere!

5) DETOX WITH DIET: Fasting is one way to cleanse the digestive system but it’s not for everyone.  If you want to try it, this is an easy one as posted by Elson Hass, author of The New Detox Diet.  “For starters, try a simple three-day liquid fast. “After three days, your energy starts to free itself,” says Haas. Take in only liquids: juices, vegetable broths, and teas as well as at least 8 to 10 glasses of spring or filtered water a day (2 of them when you wake up). Herbal teas made with slippery elm bark, dandelion, milk thistle, and licorice root will cleanse your digestive system and your liver. You can make fresh juices from fruits and veggies and add a little spirulina for extra flavor and amino acids. Take advantage of the natural inclination to slow down by going for long walks, meditating, taking naps, and writing in a journal. After your fast is done, start by eating whole grains and steamed vegetables.”  If you feel fasting is not for you, try just lightening up.  Dr. Deepak Chopra, a noted Ayurvedic M.D.  recommends reducing dairy products, and eating foods that are more pungent, bitter and astringent rather that sweet, sour or salty.
Regardless of how you welcome Spring, enjoy the ritual of renewal.  Celebrating rituals is an important part of our feeling connected to the earth and one another.
Happy Spring!

January 14, 2013

New Year Affirmation


Several of you have asked for this in print.  Here you go!


New Year Affirmation
I enter the New Year with the understanding that I am making a fresh start. I begin by discarding thoughts, attitudes, and habits that are not compatible with an excellent life.  I let go of whatever caused past discouragement, disappointment, or disagreement. I am open and receptive to new ideas, activities and relationships.

Each day, I can follow a fresh plan of fulfillment. I act on divine ideas that I receive in moments of meditation and inspiration. These ideas flow through positive thoughts. As I use creative thinking to build upon divine ideas, my activities become more dynamic and my abilities are enhanced. Therefore, I enter this New Year with optimism, joy and enthusiasm.

January 02, 2013

Affirmations for 2013


In Yoga class we usually start by setting a Samkalpa...an intention for our practice.  As the new year rings in it's a time to set longer intentions,  goals or affirmations.  Here's some tips to help your affirmations be more effective.  
Happy New Year!

Think about things in your life you want to improve. The best way to create affirmations is to consider areas of your life that you would like to improve.  Would you like to practice more yoga ?  Do you want to have a closer relationship with your mother, brother or sister?  Would you like to feel better about your self image?  Spend some time thinking about areas of improvement and jot them down.  Be clear about your goals and this will help in making them a reality.

Keep your affirmations focused and believable. Based on the list that you have written, choose what you want now.  Be clear with yourself.  It is even more important to keep your affirmation believable… don’t set yourself up for failure.  So, instead of saying “I want to lose 10, 20, 30lbs.,” you are better off saying “I am on my way to a more healthy body by losing weight and exercising regularly.”  Essentially, it is important to draw a line between your wants and your feelings.  You want to lose a certain amount of weight, but this want stems from the desire to feel better about yourself.  The feeling is the focus.

Always state your affirmations in the present tense. Tell your mind that your desire is actually already the reality.  If you use words like “I will” or “I am going to,” then what you are really doing is postponing the attainment of your goal.  If your affirmation is your reality, well then, you are already accomplishing it!  “I have a loving relationship with my mother” is much more positive for your mind than to say you will have this type of a relationship with mom.  By saying you will, you give yourself the opportunity to postpone that difficult first step with her.  Tell yourself you already have this positive relationship with mom, and you are already halfway there to achieving it.  Our minds are incredible gifts that have the power to make our goals a reality.

Always keep your affirmations brief and simple. Formulate your affirmations in your own language, speak to yourself the way you speak all the time.  Don’t use long sentences or big words because this only counteracts the ability to remember them… and repeat them.

Repeat them daily and say them out loud. Preferably in front of the mirror.  You will be shocked at how awkward you feel when doing this the first few times… but DO IT!  It forces you to believe in yourself! And it's worth a giggle or two ;-)

Write them down. And refer to them often.  It’s also a great idea to keep them in a visible place… in your office, or taped on the bathroom mirror or your closet door.

Remember you can never make an affirmation for another person. As much as we might want to make positive statements about another person in the hopes of changing them to fit our expectations, we must learn, immediately, that we can never change another human being.  We only have control to change ourselves.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, Let go of your expectations. ...of yourself and others.  Life can get in the way of life…it can get in the way of our affirmations.  Trying to control everything that happens in your lives will not bring us closer to attaining our goals or affirmations any sooner.  In fact, it might actually hinder you.  If you are constantly focused on a particular obstacle or occurrence that goes against your affirmations, you will surely lose focus.  Stay open, be free and accept what life brings to us, even its’ challenges.  This way you are able to continue to focus on what IS positive in your life.  And affirmations are ALWAYS positive!

November 03, 2012

Holiday Hours , Aerial Updates, Last Minute Chances OH MY!

As another year draws to a close it's time to look at the calendar and unfortunately cancel classes that fall on holidays. This year is a doozy with two weeks of Mondays and Tuesdays being affected.  Please take advantage of the special classes offered on the wednesdays so your practice stays current.  Below you will see the layout,  and it will be posted on the website calendar.

Also, Aerial Yoga Session I, for January 2013 is FULL.  Registration is now open for Session II which runs  Mondays Feb. 25th- April 1st, 6-7 p.m.   Email or call to find out how to sign up and reserve your spot.  

And speaking of Aerial Yoga....amazingly there is ONE spot still left in the last session of this year.  It's a short session (5 weeks) due to the holidays so the price is cheaper ($125).  It runs November 19-December 17th, Mondays 7:45-8:45 p.m.  Who wants to finish the year with a bang?  Call or email to fill this spot.....it's just waiting for YOU!

As promised here's the schedule of cancelled and special classes for the end of the year. I hope you can all enjoy the holidays in whatever way is sacred to you....

Monday December 24th---Class Cancelled
Tuesday December 25th---Class Cancelled

Wednesday December 26th---Special Candlelight Holiday Class...open to all levels...6-7:30 p.m.

Monday December 31st--Class Cancelled
Tuesday January 1st --Class Cancelled

Wednesday January 2nd--Special Post Holiday Class...open to all levels 6-7:30 p.m.

Monday January 7th--New Aerial Session Begins 6-7pm
Monday January 7th-- ZEN YOGA begins 7:30-8:30 p.m.  Open to all levels, drop in rate. (See previous post for more about Zen Yoga)