Why aren’t I positive? Why it’s ok to feel your feelings.

Why aren’t I positive? Why it’s ok to feel your feelings.

If you look at the images of yogis strewn across the Internet, you’d have to believe that all yoga practitioners are continuously and exceptionally happy. In fact, it may have been one of the reasons you’ve decided to take up yoga yourself. Yoga has been marketed as a positivity pill and that promise of unbreakable cheer has attracted many to it. The downfall has been an increasingly dangerous pressure on yogis and yoga teachers to cleave to a facade of positivity no matter what the situation. This skin deep display keeps us from experiencing and expressing our real truths that are much more healing and helpful to society than going around simulating bliss.

See the rest of this Huffington Post article HERE.

No Resolutions Please: Why starting and failing at resolutions…

No Resolutions Please: Why starting and failing at resolutions…

Success begets success. Confidence builds upon itself and guides a person toward her dreams. You never want to teach yourself that you don’t do the things you say you will do. You never want to create the story in your subconscious that you lie to yourself, don’t complete your actions, fail. For these reasons it is of maximum importance that you only make promises that you are GUARANTEED to keep, especially those you make to yourself. 

Many people are great at keeping their word when it comes to others, but fail horribly with the stories they tell themselves. The time has come to acknowledge where you have been letting yourself down and make a full stop. No resolutions please. Before you resolve to do a thing this year, you must ask yourself some real questions. One of those is going to be if the thing you are resolving to do is really something you believe in at all. I know your immediate reaction is that ‘of course it is’, but if you have resolved at this change before and failed, you may not be as sure inside of your reasons as you think you are. Any doubts will show up as excuses to quit later. Make sure the changes you are trying to make aren’t just because of outside influence.

To know something isn’t working, you need to feel it deeply. Instead of resolving to start yet another diet this January, just eat as you eat, but more consciously. Notice and sit still in the way you really feel when you overeat. Recognize without shame the way your body and clothing feel when you’ve not taken care of yourself. Be real. This practice of adding consciousness can transform any negative behavior.

When you take the time to feel you’ll know the next and natural step or goal to make in your personal development. That’s when you make it. Declare it if that helps. Write it down. Tell people. Make yourself accountable, but only if you can’t fail. Instead of giving up chocolate totally, give up chocolate on Sundays, or in your home, or when you are eating alone. Make the tiniest step and bask in the glory of your success. Don’t reward yourself with “treats” that counter your goals. Let the feeling of accomplishment be the reward itself. Feel how good it feels to be a person who knows herself and honors herself and is true to her word. Know that by being that person you are teaching your friends and children that’s how they too should behave. You are setting the tone for authenticity and success.

Do mistakes come? Sure. It’s how we handle them that makes all the difference. Brush off any slip up quickly and never use it as an excuse to dump your whole resolve. The better you get at this, the better you’ll be at resolutions, but we’re not making those of course!

For more on training yourself in the habit of success, attend my Train Your Brain workshop this January.

More details HERE.

Temazcal and New Years

Temazcal and New Years

Temazcal is a place where the elements, air, fire, water and earth intersect. Physically it is a small hut with a pit in the middle where rocks (typically volcanic) are burned along with medicinal herbs. The participants are encouraged to breath deeply in the steam produced, occasionally chanting sounds led by a Shaman guide.

I did Temazcal with my New Year New You Yoga Retreat Group in Tulum. The ceremony opened by standing in a circle and conjuring the energies of the four directions each of which corresponds to one of the elements. After, we entered the small hut. Up to this point I was fine. I felt open and present under the night sky and close to my recently deceased grandfather who came to my mind as the Shaman referenced “Grandfather Wind”.

Inside the Temazcal I sat crossed legged and straight spined in back, waiting for what was to come. We were asked to share an intention or prayer for the ceremony which I did, choosing something deeply personal and setting the stage for an intimate experience. Then, without warning, the door dropped shut and the sound of a gong reverberated. I couldn’t breath. The Shaman asked us to imagine the safety and warmth of the womb, but all I could think of was the claustrophobia of the casket I’d end up in if I hyperventilated. I crawled out not sure the Temazcal was for me.

Outside I considered returning to the hotel but knew I’d regret missing out on an important experience. I looked for an opportunity to return. That came fairly quickly, when between elements, the Shaman opened the cave door. I sat back down (this time close to the exit) ready to try again. I felt immediately more safe, knowing there would be breaks in intensity and reclaimed my spot in back.

What happened next can only be described as like what one experiences when hallucinating. Images so vivid I became them entered my sphere. I literally saw though my third eye, testing this often by making sure my physical eyes were actually closed. I was assured of my purpose, my ability to fulfill that purpose, and my connection to the Universe. I am forever changed.

I came out of Temazcal reborn and with the feeling of exiting a holy bath. My eyes were brighter which I photographed. It reminded me of the way my students look once a year after our New Years Eve Candle Lit Yoga and Meditation which also involves a lot of sweat and a fire ritual, though never before directly conjured the four elements. This year it will. I now know how I am able to transform others and how to do it more deeply and authentically and we will enter that Temazcal space this December 31st. I invite you to join holy bath and emerge in 2016 reborn.

The Little Death

The Little Death

We’ve come to the last of the eight-limbs, Samadhi. Samadhi is a concentration so deep, that only the essence of the object being observed radiates. It’s as if the mind itself is no longer. In this sense, it is a death. The levels of Samadhi deepen until one merges with infinity, never again to return to a fractured state. At each stage something must die so that this joining can take place.

Figuratively and literally we will all experience death in our lifetimes. Each time we let go of a personality trait, opinion, or limiting idea it is as if a part of us dies. As we shed what we are not, we come closer to the infinite, non divisive being that we are. For instance, to define myself as smart, I must have an idea that somewhere out there exists someone who is dumb. I need also a concept of intelligence which depending how I characterize it, may dismiss particular forms of knowledge. There will come a time when I discover my lifelong “certainties” to be incomplete and realize they have caused me to brush off people and experiences. Some get a glimpse of this and retreat deeper into their previous paradigm, looking for any evidence not to change. As a yogi I must move fearlessly forward. When I open my eyes to a new concept of wisdom the whole world will look different. I will also come to realize there are all these other assumptions I have made that are also limiting or incomplete. I will have to reexamine my whole life and let die what is not true.

Fear, is a reaction from our system that some sense of who we are is in danger of death.  Our ego wants to assert its separateness so it screams to be let loose. The beautiful thing is that each time we deny its hold on us and move through fear toward truth, we teach ourselves that we will be okay. We don’t actually die. We can still find our way.

The little deaths we experience in our life are preparation for the ultimate letting go and show us that the more we surrender, open and accept, the easier and more blissful we will be.

It’s been an absolute joy dissecting the eight limbs of yoga with you over the last year and a half. To see all the previous discussions visit www.adventuresinyogaland.blogspot.com and www.youtube.com/user/alleightlimbs. I’ll be doing a full review and offering more in-depth lessons as we aim for the highest expressions of ourselves in 2016.

More Thanks, Less Full

More Thanks, Less Full

Happy Holidays everyone! With Thanksgiving and Holiday time coming up I wanted to share three of my favorite personal tips to keep from overeating.  I hope they help you to stay balanced and gorgeous during this hectic time of year.

1. Eat Breakfast. Many of you get in the mindset that you’ll counter the damage of your afternoon feast by saving on the AM calories. This actually backfires. You’ll end up eating so much more if you starve yourself during the day, so, even if it seems counterintuitive, eat a sensible breakfast though you know you’ll be eating a lot later.

2. Crunchy Healthy Snacks. If your family is like mine, there is a whole period of hanging out munching before the main meal even happens. I keep tons of crispy vegetables out so that if I’m tempted to snack, it’s on something healthy. My favorite are organic baby carrots which really take some time to bite into and have a fully satisfying crunch factor. When it’s time to dip, I do it in my super simple Yellow Pepper Guacamole. 

3. Sleep. Do Yoga. Meditate. We all have the tendency to eat to fill a void emotionally. This kind of eating is certainly exasperated around holiday time which can be stressful and pull us into old habits. (What can make you feel more like a child than being back in your parent’s house, right?) Prepare for these natural inclinations by getting enough sleep, practicing yoga (or some endorphin producing physical activity), and doing a bit of quiet reflection and centering before your meal. You’ll thank me for it later!

What are your best tricks to staying balanced during holiday season? Tweet them out to me at @landlaraland

Dress for Success: Halloween as a Spiritual Practice

Dress for Success: Halloween as a Spiritual Practice

“We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.”  -Anais Nin

If we want things to change we have to change ourselves. Then, suddenly, the world around us appears different. But how can we change ourselves? First we must become aware that there is an option to change. Most of us spend a good deal of our lives adhering to certain decisions about our preferences and characteristics, never questioning where those labels came from or if they are indeed permanent and true.

For instance, I may appear a loud and bossy type. When I come into a room, I let my thoughts be known and assert my desires. Perhaps my whole life I have behaved this way and from this behavior enjoyed much success. I may become known as “loud and bossy” to the point where others around me adjust to take supporting roles and even choose me for activities where those traits appear helpful to the group. I may not realize there is another role I can take. I may have been told that this personality comes naturally to me, but it may just be well practiced, or it may be that I subconsciously feel a need to play a role I was assigned, worried no one else will take that part or that I won’t be effective in another position.

Eventually I will likely be awakened to the malleable nature of personality. I could be faced with a similar personality type across from me and find my usual responses ineffective. I could experience a loss. I could read a book or blog like this one and realize I do have choice. Then I might decide to allow different aspects of myself to come forward until my personality wouldn’t be described as bossy at all. Part of the yogic journey is making better, more artful choices and finally arriving at no choice, but as an experience of our perfect, non-personality touched souls.

The self-help guides tell us to be ourselves, but who are we? Personality is a strange and fluid thing. Most of us have many; Sometimes they war inside of us. Other times they know their roles. Mom comes out at bedtime with the kids, but becomes a shy student in her night classes, hardly recognizable to her mother self. On date night, with girlfriends, with parents, all different personalities emerge.

Sometimes parts of our personalities remain buried for a long time. Suddenly I arrive at a situation where I want to use an archetypal energy but I can not access it. That’s where the costume comes into play. If I’ve been demure for a long time I may need some help expressing my authentic assertive self.  In this case I can wear heals, and suits, and certain kinds of colors and hair styles until she comes out. Through the flow or restrictions of her clothing, movement becomes dictated. Through the eyes of those who witness my transformation I access her spirit.  She was always there inside of me. Never false. Just hidden. Suddenly the world around me looks different. New possibilities emerge. 

Choosing to transform through costume may have to be subtle on the day to day if we don’t want to shock our friends and neighbors, but on Halloween we have the opportunity to go all out. This one day we can access our superhero, magical, sexy, silly, even dark, vampire selves. Each of us has a chance to play a part not allowed to us normally and access a layer of our personality that is hidden away. As we expose more of ourselves we gain more choices and open ourselves to seeing the world around us in a different way. This is a healthy and important part of the journey to self-realization, so be sure to use your societal pass this Halloween and be whoever you most want to be. Don’t be shy. I know I won’t be!

Crushing goals is better together. Invite a friend to join in this journey with you.

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