Africa Yoga Project: Inspiring Social Change in Africa

Martin Luther King  said it best when he noted, “Almost always, the creative dedicated minority has made the world better”.

Certainly in the case of the Africa Yoga Project, which came about as the result of one young native New Yorker’s passion, this is definitely true. 

The Africa Yoga Project (AYP), which was established as a non-profit organization in 2007, currently enables close to 5,000 people to participate in over 200 weekly workshops throughout Nairobi.   It also provides a viable livelihood for local yoga teachers who a few years ago may have had little hope of finding any job that would help them to feed and take care of their families. Now, the 98 AYP teachers share their knowledge and love of yoga, teaching in prisons, schools, special need centers, HIV/AIDS support groups, deaf schools and rural villages throughout Kenya. 

AYP Co-Founder, Director and human dynamo Paige Elenson, who now lives in Africa, is constantly busy, working out of the AYP community yoga center in Nairobi (known as the ‘Shine Center’).  

However, we were thrilled that she was still able to put aside some time to discuss with Muuyu how the AYP came into being, its principles and plans for the future.

Africa Yoga Project, Muuyu, Yoga, Wellness, Mindful living

How did the Africa Yoga Project come about?

In 2006, I was on a safari in Kenya with my family when I saw a group of young Kenyan men doing handstands in the middle of the bush.

As a yoga teacher my first reaction was to jump out of the vehicle and do handstands with these young acrobats.  Little did I know this brief connection would forever change my life.

After returning to New York I was contacted by the Kenyan Acrobats and asked to come back to teach them yoga.  My heart said yes.

What I did not realize was that I would be staying in the slums of Nairobi, Kenya, where most people live on less than $1 a day.

It seems that the communities of East Africa have really embraced this project – How did you ensure that AYP remained rooted in empowering and enabling local individuals?

AYP staff members and teachers are almost completely from where we work,  ensuring we are in touch with the real need on the ground and that we remain true to our vision and mission.

We are also constantly reviewing our activities to ensure we are on track to achieve our goals.

Many of the people practicing yoga through the Africa Yoga Project live in terrible conditions, whether it’s in slum areas, prisons or orphanages. How does yoga actually benefit them and is the environment within which they live integral to AYP’s teaching methods?

We strive to create empowerment and employment for youth from marginalized communities, to open up new possibilities for leadership and self-sustaining incomes.

The outreach programs also reach out to marginalized communities to share health and well-being practices.  Through yoga we are elevating communities far and wide!

What is your most memorable moment with regards to the Africa Yoga Project?

I have so many memories and people who are close to my heart it would be hard to choose just one.  I consider it a privilege to be part of the process and I treasure every moment.

In fact, just last week a moment that I have been waiting for occurred.

Mainstream media seems often to leave out people of color as representatives of yoga professionals.  So I was so excited when I opened last month’s Yoga Journal and saw an Africa Yoga Project teacher as a model!

This means so much to me – that we are able to affect the global community and be a stand for diversity and inclusion, that a young man from the urban slums in Kenya can be a Yoga Journal model.  Anything is possible!

What are the future priorities for the organization?

AYP plans on becoming the biggest and highest quality yoga training academy in Africa, where we graduate the best of the best in terms of wellness experts.  The potential of the wellness industry in Africa still remains largely untapped, but our instructors/graduates are slowly filling the niche.

If someone wanted to get involved with the project how would they do that and are their skills that are specifically welcome?

We welcome anyone who wants to be involved in AYP!

Anyone can come to the Shine Center in Nairobi at 10 am every Saturday for our free community class, which is always followed by a free vegetarian lunch.

We have studio classes at the Shine Center and in Pop-Up studio locations across Nairobi throughout the week.  We update our calendar on the website so do please check here.

Anyone can arrange a private class in their workplace or home with our qualified teachers.

You can also register for our annual 200 hour yoga teacher training by applying on-line, and you can apply to a scholarship if you live in Africa and meet our criteria.

As a mentor, the Mentor Program is a 12-month commitment.  The monthly contribution of $125 pays for the salary of an AYP teacher. Mentors and AYP Teachers engage in monthly Skype conversations and email exchanges.  In order to facilitate learning and sharing a new theme is presented each month based on the year of the mentee.

One can also volunteer by being part of the Seva Safari team, which is an opportunity for an adventure, service, yoga practice, and building community.  We have trips planned all year round.

So you see, opportunities to plug in are plenty! I would encourage anyone interested to visit our website  to learn more.

Siobhan01

Siobhan is the Head of Communication and Content withMuuyu and a co-founder of the company.  Born in Ireland she has close to 20 years’ experience working in the areas of PR, communication and journalism.  She is also the editor of the Muuyu blog.  Siobhan has been practicing yoga on and off for most of her adult life.  However it was while doing a post-natal yoga class when pregnant that she really began to connect with her practice and she has been a regular practitioner ever since.

Connect with Siobhan here.

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Yoga, Inner Fire Apparel, Muuyu    Meditation, Muuyu, Health and Wellness, Yoga     Lighting Yoga’s Inner Fire          Why Meditation is Good for Your Gut

 

 

Lighting Yoga’s Inner Fire

In 2011 a young yoga teacher in Vancouver decided to develop a small business selling her authentic yoga props and meditation cushions.  In the last four years that modest one-person business has developed into Inner Fire Apparel, a thriving international company creating yoga apparel and lifestyle products.  Muuyu was delighted to have the chance to discuss organic business growth,  following passions and giving back to your community with inspiring Inner Fire founder,  LEAH EMMOTT.

When did you establish Inner Fire Apparel and what was the momentum behind it?

Back in 2011,  I was working as a yoga teacher when I suddenly had to be rushed to the hospital for the removal of a giant ovarian cyst, which left me in recovery for 6 weeks.  I had a lot of friends who were yoga teachers so I decided to make some gifts for them while I was off during the holiday season.  The first items I made were yoga props and meditation cushions.

After giving some out as gifts, I had some people from my yoga studio ask if I could sell them some there.   I just followed the demand and started to make and sell yoga props,  bit by bit.  After selling a fair amount I decided it was time to call the company something.  I decided to call it Inner Fire because the area of my belly where I had the cyst was the same area where the 3rd chakra resides.  It is an area with fiery qualities that is responsible for passion, creativity and drive.  I really felt like this fire got lit during those 6 weeks off.

When I was back teaching,  I started to brainstorm some cool shirt design ideas that had been mulling around in my brain for a while.  I took a local screen printing workshop and then started to print my own shirts at home.  I would wear them out and to class and had even more people ask me if I could make some for them. It grew very organically.

About a year ago, I added a line of eco-friendly leggings made from recycled water bottles as a medium to express my love for nature and art.  The clothing side of the business grew so quickly that I decided to no longer offer the yoga props. It’s funny how a business evolves!

How difficult was it to progress without a background in fashion design or experience in setting up a business (that needed a home, staff, funding, etc)?

My business never intended to be a fashion business when I started out.   It was strictly yoga props and casual tanks and tees at the beginning.  I didn’t even want to get into cut and sew apparel until a couple of years in (and with the help of people with actual backgrounds in the fashion world).  I let it grow organically;  letting my creativity drive the direction rather than the industry.  I was just lucky that what I was doing ended up being what the industry was looking for!

As for the business side,  I have a degree in business  but I can’t say that it helped much when it came to all the ins and outs of entrepreneurship.  I was lucky to be able to move back home to focus on the business,  which allowed me to put a lot of sweat equity into the project without too much financial risk.  I bootstrapped the entire business off of my savings and worked on the side when I started.   As the business continued to grow,  I experienced some major growing pains.  It was clear after the first year and a half that I needed to move into a proper space and hire staff.  At the time,  it definitely was scary to be taking those risks,  but I am so glad I made the decision to go big or go home.

As a fashion brand Inner Fire is fun and playful but can you explain how you keep it grounded in a genuine yoga philosophy.

My inspiration comes from my experience as a yoga practitioner and as a yoga teacher.  To me, yoga,  at its core,  is simply the practice of being fully present and connected.  Being in that state of mind opens up the potential for more fun,  joy and playfulness in one’s day-to-day life.  It can be expressed in so many different ways.   For me it is through words and art.  I always make sure that the phrases I put on my shirts honor the practice of yoga and the person wearing it, however tongue in cheek the saying might be.

I feel so indebted to yoga for helping me get through tough times and reminding me what is important in life.  It has also introduced me to a community of deeply loving and conscious individuals.  It has humbled me in so many ways.  The practice reminds me that we are all connected and that we can really create a positive impact through our actions.

Inner Fire, Yoga, Muuyu    Inner Fire, Yoga, Muuyu

You are now the designer and the CEO of a yoga clothing company – what inspires you in both these roles, and do you find one role fits you more easily than the other?

As with any business,  the founder needs to wear a lot of hats to get the work done.  The business side and the creative side have to go hand in hand in order for the whole business to be successful.  It’s less compartmentalized and more of a continuum for me though. They blend with each other because that’s the nature of the day-to-day of small business.  The business side is primarily about people, whereas the creative side is primarily about thoughts and feelings. The two roles balance each other out naturally.

I’ve had people refer to me as the CEO before, and for some reason, I never liked that title.  Although I believe in leadership  I don’t see the need for corporate hierarchy.  This company is definitely something that came from me but I feel like now it’s grown bigger than me.  It’s created a community of conscious individuals,  of which I see myself as an equal.

Which of your collections (or pieces within a particular collection) are your favorites and why?

It’s really hard to choose any one collection, but I would have to say my favorite is the ‘Laughing Yogi Collection’.  It was my original collection of yoga puns and funny sayings.  When I initially came up with it,  I thought that no one would have the same humor as me but it turns out I was definitely wrong!  I love that it brings out the lighthearted side in people.

An important part of the Inner Fire philosophy is giving back to the larger community – can you talk about why this is integral to the company what it entails exactly?

When I started the company I finally felt like I had found my life calling.  I felt like the fire was lit within me to make a positive impact in the world.  One day while meditating I felt the need to somehow give this same feeling to others.  Everyone has a passion – but not everyone is fortunate enough to have the means to make it a reality. I had a friend in university who had started an organization called the School Fund.  Their mandate is to help link up youth in developing countries with micro-donors in order to fund their education.  The light bulb went off in my head – I could donate a portion (10%) of my profits to The School Fund to help other young people realize their dreams too!

Most of the students we support are looking to attend post-secondary or vocational programs in their communities.  It’s been quite eye-opening to learn how little there is out there for students in their late teens and early twenties.  In order to maximize our contribution we usually engage in matching campaigns with other organizations.  So far we’ve funded educational scholarships for over 10 students in Africa and Ecuador.

 The company has grown at quite a rapid rate – how have you coped with that?

2014 was the turning point year for me.  I can’t believe how fast it’s grown!  I went from making everything myself to having to locally outsource production just to keep up.   It was super rewarding to see how far I was able to take it on my own.  Of course, I had a lot of help from friends and family during those first two years – of which I am eternally grateful.

I did find it hard to let go and give up some control but I found myself overworked and unable to enjoy the things I used to enjoy when I had spare time.  I had to hire some help so that I could live a normal life again. The people on my team have been amazing. I feel like the big growing pains phase is finally over.

What are the future priorities for you and Inner Fire Apparel?

I hope to continue to build a strong team of conscious people who enjoy working in a dynamic environment.  I have plans to expand the wholesale side of the business into international markets, like Australia, the UK, Singapore and Dubai.  It’s been really crazy to see how many people from all over the world know about Inner Fire. Gotta thank the internet for that one!  I hope to be able to impact more people through our philanthropic activities as well.

As a business woman as well as a yoga practitioner and teacher, what advise can you give to other working women in relation to using yoga both on and off the mat to live a fulfilling life? 

I have learned many things along this journey and one of the biggest things is that the best thing you can do is be true to yourself and open your heart to those around you.  When you live in a state of authenticity,  gratitude and selflessness you attract the things that you are looking for.  You attract the right people and from there the opportunities start to flow.

You can call it the Law of Attraction or manifestation, but it’s basically about living as though we are in this together. It really works!

Oh, and it’s OK to show up to a class and spend the whole time in Savasana! I think there’s a shirt for that! 😉

All Inner Fire Apparel products can be found on  their website http://www.myinnerfire.com 

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Yoga Snob or Yoga Hobbit?

It has been quite a long time since I’ve blogged.  I’ve written novels in my head but actually having the time to sit down and write it is the problem.  However,  recently I had a student ask me about my own personal practice and in my response I came to the realization that I might be a yoga snob!  Holy crap!  Am I an uppity yogi?   It hit me like a ton of bricks because I’ve always considered myself part of the yoga community.  So the mere thought of myself being a snob is pretty disturbing.  After I got home and was able to really sit with my thoughts I asked myself a few questions to maybe make sense of my new found title.

Was being a snob really all that bad?  What is a snob?  Or maybe I wasn’t a snob at all,  maybe titles are the snobs.  So first things first: What is a snob?

Snob:  A snob is a person who believes a correspondence between status and human worth.  The term also refers to a person who believes that some people are inherently inferior to him or her for any one of a variety of reasons, including real or supposed intellect, wealth,   education, ancestry,  power,  physical strength,  class,  taste,  beauty, nationality, fame, extreme success of a family member or friend, etc.   Often this form of snobbery reflects the snob’s personal attributes.

On no! I am not a snob by the means of Wikipedia for sure.  Not even close to who I am.  So, I’ve cleared that matter, but there is still a problem: I have some issues with the practice of my asanas.  And by no means do I ever what to consider myself better than anyone, so the search continued until I started to ask deeper questions.

The real matter is I’ve become a hobbit in my actual asana practice.  In other words, I’m not going out there anymore and practicing with different teachers in different local studios.  So when students ask about advice on studio practices I’m a bit stuck.

So why have I become a hobbit?  Recently in the last few months my teaching schedule has doubled.  In addition to teaching 10-15 classes a week I’m also recording 2 classes a week on my phone, editing, recording audio and publishing videos for virtual clients.  I’m still being a mom to two busy little girls, a wife to my husband of 10 years and trying to maintain some sort of ‘self’.

I use to love to drop in to local studios and just be a student.  Now I only get that freedom when I’m away traveling or at trainings or on those very rare mornings when I can pull myself away from life to visit my favorite Ashtanga studio here in Durham.

So with all of this in mind,  I’ve put together a few ways to help you not to become a Yoga Hobbit.  For while it’s great to have a home practice (and I’m always preaching to my students about being able to practice at home on your own), it is also important that we do visit studios.  Particularly for the community aspect of it for this is usually where we adults meet friends.  Not only that but it supports local small businesses and it keeps you from becoming a Yoga Hobbit.

  1. Once a month visit a studio you’ve never been to.

This is by far the easiest way to try something new.  Studios pop up every week, so there shouldn’t be a shortage of places to try.  I find using the Mindbody app is a great way to find studios close to you that maybe you didn’t know they were there. Read reviews or maybe just go blindly into a new space with an open heart and unroll your mat to new experiences.

  1. Practice a style that’s different from your preferred style.

We all get caught up in what we like verses trying something we are not sure of but yoga is about union and growth.  We can’t grow if we stay in the same space.  I practiced Vinyasa Flow for almost 6 years before I ever tried Ashtanga, and I was horrible at it, so bad that I didn’t even think of returning to that style until 3 years later.  Yet after coming back with an open mind and a lot less ego I found it was humbling and quite refreshing to know I could learn more, and my glass needed a refill.

I’ve tried just about every style out there and some I like, some I’d never do again but I tried them and that’s the beauty of the practice.  So go try something new.  There are lots of teachers practicing a whole variety of different styles on Muuyu – so you could start there!

  1. Find a Yoga partner to keep your practice fresh.

It is so hard to find a friend, and even harder to keep that friend.  However if you’re one of the lucky ones who have a friend and they share your passion of unrolling the mat make them your practice partner.  You both will hold each other accountable and bring new ideas to one another.  Having someone next to you allows for energy to bounce and creates a universal pull of magic – and who doesn’t need a little magic in their lives?  So find that partner, and get to sharing the magic.

  1. Change your home practice location.

If you’re one of the lucky ones you have a studio of your own and you can change your space accordingly.  However some of us just have a corner or maybe even just the kitchen floor.  But don’t let that stop you from freshening up that space.  Change the plants in your practice space.  Use new scents and oils with the change of the seasons or your moods.  If you can’t revive your actual space, try a new location all together.  Go outside and practice in your backyard.  Try the park, that fishing pier, the local walking trail,  maybe even the hallway while you wait for your kids dance class to end.  Just don’t be afraid to practice anywhere.

Look, life is a major juggling act and sometimes we get so busy we forget that there is a vast world outside of our own little universe.  I lost myself in my own world and I forgot that I too need to try new things even when I was sure that I didn’t have enough time to do so. We’ve all seen that little hobbit that locks himself in his cave, and could care less about the changes that are happening outside that rock.  However one day that rock is going to crumble and that little lonely hobbit is going to have to change, or become stuck right there. So start the change now.  Try something new so you’re not that Yoga Snob or a Yoga Hobbit.

briana_pranamYoga teacher and practitioner Briana Young Roane has over 350 hours teacher training and workshop experience. She started her teaching career in 2005 and since then has owned and run two different studios.  Born in Inglewood, California, and now living and working on the East Coast, Briana brings her sunny CA disposition to each and every class that she teaches whether private or group.  You can find more information about Briana and the classes she teaches on Muuyu here or continue to follow her on her own yoga blog.

 

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Muuyu Yoga, Yoga, Vinyasa                   Yoga for athletes, Muuyu yoga, yoga for weight loss, asanas

3 Questions to ask when Finding Yourself    Yoga for Athletes

Why Meditation Is Good For Your Gut

You may have remembered to have green smoothies during the holidays.  You may have learned not to neglect your yoga practice. Yet even with the best of intentions, chances are you ate more and moved less in December.  Although Buddha rocked his distended belly with a sly smile, you aren’t so certain the look is one that you want to maintain.

You may assume that the best way to get your optimal digestion back is with a kick-butt fitness sequence that has you miserable.  In fact,  sitting intentionally might be just what the yogi ordered.  Not sitting with a big bowl of dessert,  mind you,  but meditatively.

This may be the part of the article where you become absolutely certain that life is harder work than that.  However, don’t discount how difficult it can be to meditate on a consistent basis.  It is a challenge and one that can help heal your gut and balance your body.

Here are the three points that we think are absolutely fascinating and even more reason to carve out regular quiet time in 2015:

  • Tension can be everywhere.  If you are stressed (even the “good” stress that stokes your ambitious fire) it is likely your gut will be stressed as well.  Our body needs a little parasympathetic action to rest and digest.  Meditation can help the whole body to function more optimally as you re-learn how to relax and recover. Your digestive health will have no option but to follow suit.
  • You can control more than you think. You certainly can breathe without thinking about it (thank goodness!).  However, by taking the reigns every once in awhile and breathing deeply into the pit of your belly,  you can start to affect your own physiology.  Deep breaths with a straight spine will massage the internal organs, helping with peristalsis.  Let your belly be soft.  Most of us don’t take a deep breath all day long, so this may be one of your healthiest new habits.
  • Stress eating starts in the mind.  Sure, there are moments when it makes sense to eat a piece of chocolate rather than another head of kale.  But if the first thing that you are grabbing tends to supply quick energy that burns out quickly, you need to slow down.  Without slowing down,  you won’t be as able to control your cravings.  Some time in quiet can make your realize that your 3pm sweet craving is related to an emotion,  making it have a lot less hold on you.

There are many theories as to how long you should maintain a habit to make it stick. Give 30 days a try with tuja wellness and their absolutely free meditation challenge.  Every day, you will get a guided meditation sent to your inbox to bring you peace and pause. Sign up here and see if this calm lifestyle leads to a happier gut.

 

CourtneySunday

Courtney Sunday wanted to write her first book by the age of 10.  Although she has not lived up to her own expectations, she now happily works as a freelance writer.  She is particularly pleased to be one of the writers for the Canadian healthy living website tuja wellness.   She also teaches yoga and Pilates and leads yoga teacher trainings and retreats around the world.  Visit her at her website or contact her through muuyu.

Meditation,Muuyu, Health, Wellness

 

Photo credit: Meaghan Eady

3 Powerful Juice Recipes to Help Fight the Flu

Winter is definitely the time of year when the likelihood of catching the flu infection on every train-ride, mall trip or studio yoga class increases considerably.  Below are three easy-to-make juice recipes that I make regularly.  They’re great for the before, during and after effects of the flu as they help to either boost my immune system or, if I’m unlucky enough to come down with a cold,  to speed up my recovery and keep me fighting fit afterwards.

Beat the flu before it gets the chance to beat you!

A strong immune system is your best protection against colds and flus in the chillier months.   Build it up all year round with this infection-busting power juice.   Carrots are a rich source of beta carotene,  which is a powerful antioxidant and,  coupled with the equally strong antioxidant support provided by the phytonutrients in beets,  offers great protection against flu viruses.

 

Ingredients:
1 small beet
3 carrots
8 stalks celery
1 stalk broccoli
2 cloves garlic

 

When you’re struck down with dose

If you do catch a cold, you really just have to let it run its course.  However, you can help to speed up your recovery and to make the symptoms less unpleasant along the way.  I find that a ‘shot’ of combined ginger, lemon and cayenne pepper generally does the trick.  It’s best to drink this juice warm as your body needs warmth when you have a ‘cold’,  so simmer the ginger in water before adding the lemon and pepper.  The lemon is a great addition because it’s high in vitamin C while the cayenne pepper’s strong content of beta carotene helps to ward off any further infection.

Ingredients:
1 ounce organic ginger, simmered in a little water
1 squeeze lemon
1 pinch cayenne pepper

 

Regaining your strength

A really bad dose of the flu can leave you feeling completely wrung out,  even when the aches and pains have subsided.   So to get you back on your feet I suggest an energizing green juice.   The chlorophyll in green plants pumps oxygen into the blood which in turn clears that brain fug and gives your energy levels a much-needed boost.

Ingredients:
1 large cucumber
8 stalks celery
1 handful kale
1 handful spinach
1 handful parsley
1/4 squeezed lemon
1-inch piece ginger

Enjoy and keep well this season!

 

Yoga, Bikram Yoga, Hot Yoga, Yoga Teacher, Yoga for Athletes, Yoga for Weight Loss

Born in Zimbabwe,  Matt Devine is CEO of Muuyu and has been teaching yoga for nearly eight years.  He primarily teaches Bikram or Hot Yoga.   As a former rugby player who needed reconstruction on both his knees, he has experienced for himself the therapeutic benefits of a hot yoga practice on the body.   He believes that part of yoga’s intense ability to heal is regulating one’s sleep patterns, as with longer, deeper sleep more healing occurs,  and better sleep is a regularly cited benefit of hot yoga.

Connect with Matt on Muuyu here.

Angela’s Yoga Lab: A Mantra for 2015… or anytime, really!

For many yoga practitioners a mantra is a powerful tool to use to deepen their practice.  Sound is particularly powerful and the repetition of sound can help focus the mind on that which is outside of and bigger than yourself.

The mantra below is perfect for any time you need to feel grounded and centered.  If you have only 5 minutes,  this will still be powerful and effective, but if you have more time – you can invest as long as you need into the mantra as a way to focus energy and attention on what you need most,  especially  transitions such as the one you will be making  into the New Year.

The type of mantra I have created here is a simple and highly effective version of mantra japa (repeating or remembering mantra).  With this way of using internal vibration of ‘So-Ham’ we journey from Gross to Subtle,  and the mantra will center and focus the mind on an object through the chanting itself.

How to do this mantra:

    • Find a comfortable seated position, preferably somewhere where there is natural sunlight,  a window open for fresh air ( ideally you want to be not too hot,  not too cold) and where you have some quiet and privacy uninterrupted. Turn off the TV, computer, radio and your phone.  You can light a candle or some incense if you will not be distracted by the smell.  You do not need a candle or incense as you can do this mantra wherever you are and in whatever position,  though seated is best.

     

    • Sit with your spine straight and keep your eyes closed to draw your focus inward.  Only if you are too sleepy should you keep your eyes opened.

     

    • Take a few long deep inhalations (breath inward) focusing on creating space in the internal body and then with every exhalation (breath outward) focus on releasing any tension, pain or stress –  anything that does not serve you right now.

     

    • Roll your shoulders down away from your ears, unlock your jaw and move your tongue so your mouth is relaxed.  Feel the earth/mat/ground below your sitting bones which are supporting you.  Focus on the sensation of your lungs lifting on the inhale and falling on the exhale.  Soften your face,  the base of your neck and behind your eyes.  You can rest your hands lightly on top of your knees, or in your lap.   Keep wrists relaxed.

     

    • For this mantra we begin with So-Ham Pranayama (breathing technique).   Whilst seated, bring your focus to your breath. While inhaling think “So”, and whilst exhaling think “Ham- or “Huumm”.  With the latter you may observe that this will lengthen the quality of your breathing,  which is the goal here.

     

    • Continue the flow of So-Ham and attempt to match the length of your inhale with your exhale so the flow is even.  However, do not obsess over this.   After feeling confident breathing So-Ham  begin to observe the natural pause between your inhale and exhale.  This is a pure moment of sweet stillness, a cessation of thoughts between So and Ham.  Do not hold your breath here to control or create this but rather observe how it naturally occurs.

     

    • Once you have completed a few rounds of So-Ham breathing you can begin with the mantra.

     

    • Out loud chant, “I am here, I am now, I am here, I am now, I am here, I am now.”

     

    • Repeat for at least 20 rounds at any volume or pitch you like. You can change the volume of your voice to what feels right.  Once you get into a rhythm you may find you do not want to stop at 20 rounds so,  in that case,  keep going until you feel compelled to stop.

     

    • Stay connected to the words and stay present in your body as you chant.  Do not zone out or lose connection to what you are doing.

     

    • Once you’ve stopped chanting out loud keep repeating the mantra inside your mind,  feeling the sensation of vibrations of your chanting rippling through you and the power of the words settling inside of you.

Benefits of this mantra:

This has the dualistic effect of being both a grounding mantra while also being empowering.   From a place of being grounded and anchored in the present you are able to tap into the potential of that moment with no expectations.  Often the lead up to a new year is filled with expectations.  We place so much pressure on resolutions to shift and change the various parts of ourselves and our lives – and sometimes others – which we feel are inadequate.

We enter with the premise “I am not enough”, “I /my life needs to change because who I am right now or how things are now – is not of any worthy”.

We can also get swept up in the hype of the idea at this time of year that things should or must shift and while change is healthy,  often these expectations lead us to over-promise,  over-commit and under-deliver, making us feel even more helpless and worthless when we cannot follow through.

Life being fluid is filled with death and rebirth, coming and going.  A new year is just another entering and exiting.  Having an equanimous mindset and connection to the present,  being here and now, anchors us so that we can handle any weather that may come our way both in 2015 and in the rest of our life.   We do not need an arbitrary date to make changes that need to take place.  We need to be in touch with ourselves so we can see from a place of clarity.

Whatever we enter the new year with is the place we take off from. The year before is gone but the year ahead is also unknown.  So all that matters IS as the mantra promises – the here and now.

 

Yoga Teacher; Forrest Yoga; Asanas; Vinyasa; Muuyu;

Australian-born Angela Collins is a yoga teacher based in Berlin.  RYS Certified, trained in Vinyasa Flow Yoga, and a graduate of Advanced Teacher Training in Forrest Yoga,  Angela is committed to nourishing  mind and body both off and on the mat.   She has had the privilege of teaching Yoga across the globe in Australia, Thailand, Germany, UK, France and with people of all differing ages, nationalities, and needs.  Having trained alongside Mark Stephens, Kathryn Budig, Kino McGregor and Ana. T Forrest, Angela now teaches a number of different Yoga disciplines including Pregnancy Yoga, Yoga for Addicts, Yoga for Athletes, and child Yoga.

Connect with her here on Muuyu.com or on her own website  www.endorphinyoga.eu as well as on Twitter.

 

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