Ashtanga Yoga

Non-Attachment Is The Way To Freedom

As we practice awareness we move into a state of acceptance. In this state of acceptance we learn to let go of outcomes or attachment to what will be, and instead we learn to observe or simply witness free from judgement. Live in the now with what is and simplify life.

When you free yourself from attachment, you are able to live a happy life. You no longer feel stuck or “married” to a specific ending. Feeling stuck or trapped is a very negative feeling and most of the time, sadly, we do it to ourselves. 

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Attachment is really about fear, ego and dependency. When we are living with attachments, whether it is to things, to people or whatever, we are living in a negative place.

WE aspire to live a positive life. To raise the vibration we need to live from a place of love. Love allows us endless possibilities free from attachment, guilt, shame and fear… Love allows us to grow into our best selves and into oneness with the universe free from all attachment, which is a state of ultimate enlightenment.

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In Ashtanga Yoga we practice the 8 limbs of yoga. Part of the 8 limbs are the Yamas & Niyamas.  The 5th Yama is Aparigraha, which means non- attachment or non possessiveness. This means to not be attached to outcomes, to not take more than you need and to not live with jealousy in regard to yourself and the world around you.  

The Sanskrit word, Parinamavada, is the teaching that everything is in a constant state of flux.  Everything changes and when we embrace this, just as we embrace the trees losing their leaves in the fall and the flowers blooming in spring, we know that life is cyclical. When we let go of outcomes and accept what is, we embrace our freedom.  

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APARIGRAHA! Shout it out loud and embrace the concept of non-attachment! Let go and feel the resulting freedom. There is nothing to worry about and nothing to fear. Stay in the present moment. Allow what may come to come and let go of what no longer serves your higher purpose. Do not take more than you need. Do not eat more than you need. Apply this concept to every aspect of your life.

Attachment holds us back because we do not want to accept change and yet change is inevitable. Change is transformation and growth. Take love for example. Many people cling to the person who they love out of the fear of losing them, which can create a self fulfilling prophecy. Instead, embrace the concept of setting that person free. If you truly love that person free from attachment and they love you, they will want to stay. Placing restrictions will make them feel trapped and imprisoned, which takes us back to that negative cycle which no one enjoys. So, give love, give away all that you can and it will all come back to you! That is a key to the Law of Attraction! 

Peacefully,

Libby

P.S. - Yoga is so much more than a physical practice on the mat. It is the journey of the self through the self to the self. Please check out my new website www.TOTALSOULFULJOURNEY.COM for more helpful articles and grow with us in a like minded community of positive people. We are launching this website next week and I am so excited for you to see it!

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Demystifying Sun Salutations

Yes sun worshiping is real and it is actually very logical, as well as being an ancient practice. In yoga you hear about Sun Salutations, or the Sankrit term, Surya Namaskar. Surya is sun. Nama means to bow to or adore. We stand at the front of our mat with our hands together at our hearts center in the same position as we typically start and end our practice with namaste mudra, which translates into the divine light in me honors and sees the divine light within you. So, as we move through the Sun Salutations we take our arms up toward the heavens and then we bow forward turning our awareness inward and committing to our health and to our higher awareness. With each movement we aspire to gain wisdom and knowledge and to become the best versions of ourselves. It really is a prayer in motion.

Sun Salutation A, Surya Namaskra A

Sun Salutation A, Surya Namaskra A

There are 12 postures within a Sun Salutation, which is also symbolic because there are 12 Sanskrit terms for the word sun. Moving through these 12 postures in consecutive sequence in repetition warms & energizes the  body. Sun Salutations engage the core, stretch the hamstrings and loosen the shoulders. They improve circulation, massage internal organs and promote overall health. So you can use sun salutations as an excellent warm up, or start to your yoga or workout session. Or when you are short on time and energy, it can be used as your minimum daily go to for giving you a total body workout. 

Sun Salutations can be beautifully adapted for your personal needs and can even be done from a chair.  When practiced at a slower pace they provide a calming grounding effect, and when practiced at a faster pace they provide a good cardiovascular workout and can provide weight loss. 

Why start the day day with Sun Salutations? Yoga was developed over 5000 years ago by ancient Sages in India who believed each part of the body was linked to some part of the natural world. The solar plexus (located behind the belly button) is said to be connected to the sun and associated with our emotional well being and intuition. We practice Sun Salutations first thing in the morning to clear our minds, gain calmness for the day ahead and to heighten our intuition. 

Then move on to Sun Salutations B to create more heat continuing with 3-5 B's

Then move on to Sun Salutations B to create more heat continuing with 3-5 B's

Lets face it, we all love a little sunshine. It feels good and makes us happy. The sun grows our fruits, vegetables and flowers. It also creates light, and as we know that light helps us conquer our fears, so salute the sun. Practice Sun Salutations each day and feel yourself growing stronger, your light illuminating brighter and the warmth glowing within you. Make time for this important practice every single day. It only takes 15-20 minutes to do a proper 3-5 Sun Salutations A and Sun Salutations B sequence and you will greatly appreciate the many benefits that you will discover through this practice. 

Sun Salutation A:

Inhale taking your arms up

Exhale bowing forward

inhale halfway up straight spine

exhale hands to earth, step back to plank and lower yoga push up

inhale upward dog

exhale downward dog (hold 3-5 breaths)

       ~work to get your heals toward the earth 

       ~relax your ears between your arms

        ~let all the busy thoughts of the day and week go as you breathe in through your nose & out through your nose

Inhale look to your thumbs

Exhale to the front of the mat 

Repeat 3 to 5 times

Sun Salutation B:

Inhale sweep arms down and up as you come into chair pose 

Exhale forward fold straightening legs

Inhale halfway up, look to horizon

Exhale hands to earth and hop back to Chaturanga (yoga push up)

Inhale heart to the sky

Exhale hips up and back to down dog 

Inhale right foot to right thumb, Warrior One

Exhale Down Dog

Inhale Left Foot to Left Thumb, Warrior One

Exhale Down Dog stay here and re connect with your breath

Relax your neck & shoulders

Consider scissoring your heels, pressing one heel at a time to the earth and lifting the opposite heel

Inhale look to your thumbs

exhale hop to the front of your mat

Repeat 3-5 times

Wishing you all an inspiring start to your week!

Shine On,

Libby

P.S. If you have questions about how to get started in your practice, how to modify postures or if you would like personal, private or corporate lessons, please contact me via email: libby@yogafitboutique.com. I would be happy to travel and I always love to connect. Namaste!  

Reflection

We talk so much about being present and staying in the moment, and yes it is important, but it is also meaningful to reflect from time to time on your past... what worked and did not work. The truth is we learn a great deal from our mistakes as long as we do not repeat them.  

The Bean in Chicago

The Bean in Chicago

Sometimes we just need a break from our daily routine. We tend to be creatures of habit who get  "stuck." When we are able to take time off, or if we are fortunate enough to get away for a few days, it allows us time to reset. Experiencing new things, new places and gaining new insights provides us with the inspiration that we need to move forward. We then become more present, more productive and more happy when we return.

   My Dad, with whom I am extremely close, has recently suffered a health set back. He is nearly 87 years old and the thought of not having him here with me on earth is a big hard rock to swallow and yet I know eventually it will come and he will go on to a more beautiful place. My sweet momma gave me the best gift in the world by encouraging me to get away for a long weekend and go unite with friends in Chicago, indulge in great food and enjoy myself.  "He is not going anywhere this week," she said with confidence as she sent me off for a much needed trip of rest and relaxation! Moms always know best! So off I went. The hard part, as a mom myself, was to pull away from life, from my children, from my parents and from my responsibilities and to enjoy this time free from guilt! It did not take me long, however, a few bites into a delicious pecan pie, a glass of Cabernet, a few great meals and a ton of walking around that delightful city of Chicago and I truly began to feel refreshed and inspired! Thanks to taking time out from my daily routines, I am sooo ready to move forward into bigger and better things. Vacation is great, but the best part is the renewed energy upon returing home!      When we take a break break from life, even if it is a "staycation," we are able to tap into power of the mind and redirect into a positive mindset that will catipult us in the direction of our goals and dreams rather than keeping us stuck and weighed down.

My Dad, with whom I am extremely close, has recently suffered a health setback. He is nearly 87 years old and the thought of not having him here with me on earth is a big hard rock to swallow, and yet I know eventually it will come and he will go on to a more beautiful place. Yet, worrying about him has been stressful to say the least.

My sweet momma last week gave me the best gift in the world by encouraging me to get away for a long weekend and to go unite with friends in Chicago, to indulge in great food and to enjoy myself.  "He is not going anywhere this week," she said with confidence as she sent me off for a much needed trip of rest and relaxation. Moms always know best! So off I went. The hard part as a mom myself was to pull away from life, from my children, from my parents and from my responsibilities, and to enjoy this time free from guilt!

It did not take me long, however... a few bites into a delicious pecan pie, a glass of Cabernet, a few great meals and a ton of walking around the delightful city of Chicago and I truly began to feel refreshed and inspired!

Thanks to taking time out from my daily routines, I am sooo ready to move forward into bigger and better things. Vacation is great, but the best part is the renewed energy upon returing home! 

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When we take a break from life, even if it is a "staycation," we are able to tap into the power of the mind and redirect it into a positive mindset that will catapult us in the direction of our goals and dreams rather than keeping us stuck and weighed down. So consider taking a day or two to reflect, to connect and to rejuvenate. Love and accept yourself exactly where you are in life. Set goals for where you want to go, and then each day take baby steps toward those goals until you arrive. 

Remember, life is a great journey. Just like every road trip you take, you will encounter construction zones. You are the engineer of your life both in body and in mind, always improving, always  "under construction." Just remind yourself to keep it joyful and to chill out! Everything you feel is OK! You are a beautiful being.  

Happy Travels Peaceful Friends, 

Libby

 

De Mystifying the Glory Behind the Alleged "New Year's Cleanse Diets," 10 Must Have Feel Good Foods and Why Fad Diet's Will Never Work

First allow me to wish you a very Happy New Year! The start of the each year is exciting because it symbolizes a fresh beginning, new chances, unlimited possibilities and a clean slate. Many people set New Years Resolutions. Very few, in fact less than 8% actually follow through with those resolutions. I personally choose to set intentions for the year ahead. Intentions are positive thoughts and actions that I intend to follow through with be it big or small. I write them down and I say them out loud.... daily! Writing my intentions and repeating them out loud daily is part of the manifestation process. What we think in our minds is likely to occur. So.... this year I set my intentions to strengthening my handstand practice, which means practicing daily with drills, strengthening and moving away from the wall. I also set my intention to practice and become more patient, to waste less food and to give more to others. Those are the immediate intentions that I have set, although I will continue to set new daily intentions, as well. 

Diet and weight loss or getting in shape & working out are HUGE on the resolution lists and gyms see a big spike in attendance during the month of January, but guess what....yep, it quickly trickles off as people do not see immediate results and get discouraged. Today I want to focus on the hype you hear about Cleansing Diets, Fasting, Juicing Cleanses, and Detox Diets! STAY AWAY FROM THEM ALL is my very best advice! You will hear conflicting advice from every corner if you seek it, but I am not a believer in fad diets or anything quick or temporary BECAUSE once you go back to your regular consumption, so too will your weight. THE ONLY WAY TO LOOSE WEIGHT AND KEEP IT OFF IS TO ADOPT A NEW WAY OF LIFE! AND.... it is not that hard. I will let you in on a secret.... you do not have to eleminate anything. In fact, it is when we dreprive ourselves of things that we crave them most! Simply modify portions, elimainate snacking (or snack on fruits & veggies), eat 3-5 small meals a day that are colorful plant based whole foods, drink a lot of water, limit or better yet eliminate processed foods and lower fats & oil consumption, as well as sugar consumption (NO MORE SODA).  

Cleanses and fasting leave you fatigued, depressed, tired, sometimes dizzy and often weak.  Sometimes you are able to achive quick weight loss, but this yo yo style dieting is not recommended as a healthy long term weight loss technique. Eating clean is the best way to minimize toxins. Add exercise when possible to maximize weight loss if that is your goal. I am happy to consult with you on a personalized at home plan. 

This book has excellent information on superfoods.

TOP TEN FOODS TO ADD TO YOUR DIET TO NATURALLY HELP DETOXIFY YOUR BODY:

1. Goji Berries: Goji Berries are one of the top ten SUPERFOODS and can be found in health food stores near you. The Gogi is known to increase stamina, strength, longevity and sexual stamina. They also boost immunity, increase alkalinity, provide liver protection and improve eyesight.  

2. Lemon Water to start each day: Lemons alkanize the body so starting the day with a glass of room temperature or warm lemon water cleanses the body and strengthens the liver.  

3.  Beets: A single serving of beets can fight cancer, reduce arthritic pain, boost brain power, as well as help you loose weight. They are very high in fiber, purify the blood, as well as cleanse the liver.

4.  Blueberries: Contain a natural sunstance that mimics aspirin, lessening the tissue damaging effects of chronic inflammation and thus easing pain. They also block bacteria in the urinary tract.  

5. Brazil Nuts: Are loaded with selenium, which is key to flushing mercury out of your body. They are also high in magnesium and maganese, which ward off migraines.

6. Cinnamon: Stops the growth of bacteria and yeast, and speeds up metabolism, which aids in weight loss. It is loaded with antioxidants and is a natural anti inflammatory. Cinnamon lowers cholesterol and blood sugar levels making it good for preventing heart disease and diabetes. 

7. Parsley: Herbs are often overlooked, but they have potent healing effects for our bodies. Parsely is high in vitamins A, C, & K, and betacarotene, which protects the liver and bladder and prevents liver and bladder infections. It also keeps our urine clean and relieves bloating.

8. Tumeric: Acts as an anti inflammatory, which relieves arthritic pain as well as other inflammations. It also has powerful antioxidants which improve brain function, lower heart disease and can help prevent and possibly even treat cancer.

9. Probiotics: These are fermented foods that contain beneficial bacteria for your stomach and digestive system. Try sourkraut, kimchi, yogurt, beet kvass or kefir and they will strengthen and protect your stomach and your colon. My friends at Fab Ferments make incredible products that you can find at Whole Foods and at Jungle Jim's in Cincinnati. And they are starting to sell nationally, but there are other brands available, as well. 

10. Wheatgrass: I saved the best for last. This is very potent and powerful. You can sometimes find small juice shots available at farmers markets. Wheatgrass contains 98 of the 102 earth elements. It will help to restore your natural alkaline balance, protect your liver, detoxify the body, increase red blood cells, lower blood pressure, cleanse your organs, stimulate metabolism and the body's enzymes by enriching the blood.  

Cocao, Aloe Vera, Bee Products, Hemp Seed are other super foods that I would recommend adding to your daily diet if possible. Every little effort you make will allow your body to move more easily.  The more you exercise, the more oxygen your body will circulate, which not only boosts brain power, but it may also reduce wrinkles! What a beautiful side affect!

This is another great book about healthy living.

Let's face it we are all going to age, but we have control over how gracefully the process occurs to some extent. It is NEVER too late to start eating better. Each meal is a chance to fuel your body.  Take baby steps. Once you feel the effects and how much better your body responds, you will no longer miss the processed foods or unhealthy choices. You will naturally begin to crave healthy foods.  Now, that's not to say you will NEVER crave a good french fry or an amazing apple pie a la mode, and that is OK! If you are living an active healthy lifestyle, then indulging and enjoying treats occasionally is absolutely no problem.  

I hope you find this helpful and that you are inspired about the new year.  Let all trys and failures go.  Let go of all the outcomes and stop comparing yourself to anyone else. Look in the mirror every morning and say "I love you!" It starts there. Make the committment to yourself to become the BEST version of yourself, because you deserve it. You are beautiful. You are divine.  You are enough.  I love you.  

Wishing you Health, Love & Happiness,

Libby

P.S. - As I entered the New Year I myself wanted to find the healthiest recipes possible. Soup is warm and comforting in the winter and this recipe was appealing so I tried it and it inspired this entire blog! I know I knocked the "detox" diet but you've gotta try this soup: 

Detox Diet – Soup Cleanse Recipe

INGREDIENTS:

6 cups water

 1 red onion – diced

3 garlic cloves – minced

5 celery stalks – chopped

6 carrots

2 heads of broccoli florets (stalks removed)

2 medium zucchini – chopped

1 cup fresh tomatoes – chopped (approx. 4 small tomatoes)

1 tsp turmeric powder

1 tsp fresh ginger (peeled and minced)

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp cayenne powder (or to taste if you don’t like spice)

1 head of kale (approx. 2 cups) – stems removed and torn into small pieces

1/4 cup fresh squeeze lemon juice

1 tsp Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar

Get the full directions at:  http://www.theeyesofaboy.com/2015/12/detox-diet-soup-cleanse-recipe.html

Please return and let us know what you think after you have tried it! You can also follow me, Libby McAvoy on Pinterest ( Mixing It Up) for more healthy recipes!  

Basic Ashtanga Yoga Philosophy and Why Yoga Improves Your Life

For most people yoga starts as a simple physical practice on the mat, and for some that is all it will ever be. But for many it becomes a way of life and an answer to many prayers. The 8 limbs of Yoga, as expressed in the Yoga Sutras of Sri Panatnjali, were laid out as the foundation for living a spiritual life. They are simply a way to deepen your awareness that is created on the mat and integrate it into every aspect of your life raising your conciousness and ultimately becoming the best version of yourself.  

You were created to be happy, to be joyful and to be divine love. But the truth is that we live in a world that is glorified by being overly busy, possessing too much STUFF and we are pulled in way too many directions. As a result, too many people do not even know who they really are. They are so busy doing, doing, doing that at the end of the day there is no time or energy left for self reflection and discovery. Yoga can solve this dilemma by creating focus, purpose, calm, and good energy in your life.

The 8 Limbs of Ashtanga Yoga are as Follows:

1. Yamas: eithical standards how we conduct ourselves in life.  There are five Yamas.

I will break each Yama down in more detail on our Yoga Fit Boutique members only page on the website. You can become a member for free simply by signing up for our newsletter using the form in the side column of this blog on desktop, or at the bottom if you are on a mobile device (member benefits include early access to articles, new yoga classes, workshops, retreats and specials).

            a. Ahimsa: non violence

            b. Satya: truthfulness

            c. Asteya: nonstealing, non hoarding

            d. Brahmacharya: moderation

            e. Aparigraha: Non covetousness

2. Niyamas: self discipline or spiritual observances.  

            a. Saucha: cleanliness

            b. Santosha: contentment

            c. Tapas: fiery heat

            d. Svaydhyaya: self study

            e. Isvara Pranidhana: surrender to God

3. Asana: The physical practice of the postures (yoga poses) on the mat.

4. Pranayama: The practice of breath control.  There are many types, but this is the understanding that your breath is your life force.

5. Pratyhara: Withdrawl from sensories, or the ability to step out of the body and mind and simply observe free from judgment.

6. Dharana: Concentration on a single object.

7. Dhyana: Meditation, quieting the mind, letting go.

8. Samadhi: Ultimate enlightenment or connection with the universe and God.

You can imagine how using these basic techniques can improve the quality of your life.  Again, take it gradually and use what works for you. My personal experience is that the longer I practice, the more I begin to truly embrace each of these qualities.  I have become far less reactive to conflict, I am much more confident in my decisions, I do not live in fear and I do not want as much of the clutter in my life that I once tolerated in my younger years.  Even for me, it is a process and it will continue.  WE can always grow and get better. That is what "the practice" is all about.... It is a journey! So, trust the process, let go of all the worry and drama, and live each day of your life with divine love the way you were intended to live.  You will soon see dramatic affects. 

Namaste,

Libby

PS -  Register for my next 200 hour Yoga Alliance Certified Teacher Training Program, which begins October 28th.  This course provides a comprehensive understanding of the 8 Limbs of Yoga, plus so much more whether you choose to instruct or just deepen your own understanding and practice.

The Rocket Gets You There Faster, Says Bobby Weir of the Grateful Dead

Lakeside photos by Tim Bonn of B&B Productions

Rocket Yoga was formulated when Larry Schultz was traveling with the renown rock band, the Grateful Dead. Traditionally, Ashtanga Yoga was taught in a very set sequence where most people would never reach the more advanced arm balances and inversions. Well, Bobby Weir wanted to try the "fun stuff" because he knew the arm balances and inversions looked fun and gratifying. So Larry spent many nights in his room formulating a safe sequence for how to introduce practitioners of all levels, including new beginners to these more advanced postures. He came up with Bottle Rocket, Rocket 1, Rocket 2, and Rocket 3.  

Rocket incorporates a lot of core strengthening.  

Each of the sequences begins with sun salutations A & B which creates a deep heat from within the body. Following the sun salutations is a specific standing series, split series (a key component to the practice), seated series and finishing series. Each posture prepares you for the next building a beautiful balance of both strength and flexibility!  

When Larry formulated the series, he asked Bobby what they should name it and without hesitation Bobby said, "The Rocket." Larry smiled, nodded his head up and down and replied, "I like it, but... WHY?" Bobby laughed a little and said, "because it gets you there faster." It was a very true statement! Between each of the seated postures is some core strengthening and there are always a couple of dolphin poses, which also build core and shoulder strength preparing you for the arm balances and inversions. Within a year of regular disciplined Rocket Yoga practice 5-6 days a week, I was able to do the full splits. Now, I am not able to do them everyday, sometimes if I have not practiced I am immediately more stiff, but at least I know I am capable. The arm balances and inversions are incredibly fun and eventually those turn into your  transitions from one pose to the next flowing with grace. 

I LOVE LOVE LOVE teaching the Rocket practice!!! I Love to see people break the barrier of their fears and conquer things they did not believe were possible. Being upside down is truly terrifying for many people. But we take this very slowly and build up to it safely. You get used to being inverted in high dolphin, you can use the wall and other props, and by all means listen to your body! In the splits series we hold each of the three splits 6-10 breaths allowing the body to slowly sink into its natural stopping point. Each practice may take you a little deeper. Most importantly we practice self acceptance knowing that wherever we are is exactly where we are meant to be. Yoga is a journey. We practice to improve. Many many people will reach full splits in time. For some, it takes longer. For some, based on bone composition, it simply will not be possible, but those folks can still enjoy the practice!  

So hop aboard the Rocket Ship and prepare to take your body places you never thought possible. Take your mind to new levels and ultimately connect the body and mind through the practice creating the best version of yourself!  

I am more than happy to lead privates, semi privates, group and corporate classes! If you have any questions at all please let me know.   

Namaste,

Libby McAvoy

PS - I want to give a big shout-out and thank you to Amber Espelage!  Under her excellent teaching and guidance I became 100 hr certified to teach Rocket Yoga.