My name was called to sit in a row of students. We were propped up in chairs, our spines erect, staring at a blank wall, waiting for our turn to have an interview with our teacher, Michael Stone. It was my first silent meditation retreat. An interview is a meeting with the teacher, where the student has the opportunity to ask questions and recieve guidance. I knew exactly what I wanted to ask. My father was back in Wisconsin, slowly succumbing to cancer, and I wasn’t with him. I was living in Portland, and I had made the choice to move, knowing I wouldn’t be there in the last years of his life. I was overwhelmed with shame, and it was consuming me.Read More
Yoga Bhoga believes that our impact goes beyond asana, mats, and chants. With contributions throughout the year we are able to support local programs that make an impact on our extended community. With nearly $1,500 dollars worth of services donated from Yoga Bhoga, we hope the programs were able to raise twice that. If you have a program you would like Yoga Bhoga to support please send information to Yoga Bhoga!
The following programs received contributions for Yoga Bhoga in 2017. We hope to contribute again to these and more in 2018!!!!
- Kaiser Permanate
- Young Audiences Gala
- Hosford Foundation
- Grant Boosters
- Parkrose HS
- Edison HS
- Franklin HS
- Glencoe Elementary
- IRCO Auction
- Peace Village
- Planned Parenthood
- FACT Oregon
- Write Around
- Impact NW
- Sustainable NW
- Rose Fest
- The Bus Project
- Providence Health Plan
Meghan Maris shares words about Yoga Psychology.
We expect that our mind should conjure up new ideas, solve problems, and provide deep insights. Unfortunately, our minds and our senses are often misused, overworked, and overstimulated. Our mind can only function to the degree in which we understand its internal workings and our lives are a reflection of our awareness.
All day long, day after day, stimuli enters in through our senses (and we live in an era where we are bombarded with constant sensation). The stimuli prompt the mind to compartmentalize, contrast, compare, sort through memories, and oscillate into fantasy and imagination, to find reference and meaning of what was experienced. The continual flurry of mental activity can cloud or pollute our perception, leaving us to perceive partial or fragmented information from which we then make choices and take action.
Our understanding may be accurate or erroneous. Either way, our perception gives way to a feeling that is pleasing, neutral, or uncomfortable. It is at this point that we begin to create a deep groove in our mind categorizing our experiences into things we are attracted to or things we want to avoid. We spend most of our lives grasping for pleasure and running from what we would rather not do.
As you read these words, your mind has to retrieve the meaning of each word and understand the larger context of the sentences and paragraphs. Once meaning is retrieved, it then has to be filtered through the perception of your belief systems. Do you like what you are reading, does it resonate with you, or does it offend you? And how does your perception prompt your response?
The matrix of individual belief systems has been shaped through a lifetime of conditioning. We all operate from many beliefs that were created when we were young and we are often unconscious of their influence. The purpose of the formal yoga practices is to illuminate what is hidden in the unconscious so we are liberated from habituated reactivity and patterns. Integrating what is hidden is the experience of awakening.
The Psychology of Yoga workshop is an investigation of the mind’s inner workings through the lens of yoga. You will leave this workshop with an understanding of a few of the key principles from Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, not as idealistic theory or intellectual knowledge, but as a road map to a deeper understanding of who you are, how your perception may mislead you, and how your preferences or distastes prompt you to respond. We will also practice techniques which render the mind an instrument of reflectivity and discernment.
This workshop is intended to be a system of self-discovery. As we understand ourselves better, we become less demanding of others because we recognize a common thread which we all are navigating from. Our new found understanding softens the hard line of either/or thinking, us v them, right v wrong, and returns us to the roots of our profound interconnectivity to all life.
The holiday season has begun and Yoga Bhoga has a variety of workshops in theme with the season starting this weekend!
Yoga views food as medicine to nourish and sustain the physical body. If we lack discrimination about how and what we eat, our dietary choices can take a tremendous toll on our digestive system and leave the body undernourished. Come learn from one of our masterful teachers, Emily Light, on how to stoke your digestive fire and promote healthy elimination. Yoga for Digestion will provide you with insights which will move you through the holiday season and into the New Year nourished and vitalized!
Yoga Bhoga is pleased to welcome guest teacher Rachel Stern for a special workshop, Yoga of the Hanukah Story. Rachel brings tremendous care and joy to her classes. She is known for the delight that she brings to her story telling. This workshop will be inclusive to all faiths and belief systems, but Rachel will be conveying religious themes to honor the Jewish holiday of Hanukah.
I struggled with digestive problems from a pretty young age. Was the culprit the regular antibiotics I had taken as a youngster for tonsillitis? Maybe it was the high levels of stress in my home growing up? Or perhaps my body was crying out loud because of a lack of vitamins and minerals and an excess of sugar? It was probably all of those factors combined. And like anything we experience over and over again, my digestive discomfort became my new “normal”.
Our ability to properly digest the food we eat and the experiences we have in life is paramount to our health. I remember an herbalist that I studied with once said, “If you don’t know where to start with a client, begin with digestion”. That sentence made a big impression on me then, and it sticks with me to this day.
Just like little Emily got used to her symptoms of poor digestion, I would guess that many of you have as well. Bloating, gas, cramps, constipation, diarrhea… whether you experience one or some of these signs of dis-ease regularly or occasionally, it’s an indication that you’re not absorbing and eliminating well, and it’s time to take action to support your body. As a Holistic Nutritionist and certified Yoga Therapist, I specialize in gastrointestinal issues, from reflux to IBS to seemingly unrelated symptoms of poor digestion like anxiety, joint pain, acne or eczema. Because I see so many clients who struggle in this area, I’ve decided to bring it to the yoga studio, so I can offer my guidance to many of you at once. I’ve created a workshop to help you understand how to use yoga to improve your digestion, and thus your nutrient absorption and your health.
In this workshop we’ll discuss how the nervous system affects digestion and practice techniques to shift the nervous system into the right mode to digest optimally. You’ll practice yoga postures, breathing exercises and mindfulness tools to build your digestive fire, jatharagni. You’ll learn what practices to use when you’ve eaten too much or the wrong kinds of foods, and practices to use regularly to grow your digestive strength. This workshop also includes Ayurvedic recommendations for improving digestion, such as what foods to include and what foods to reduce or avoid, and the best times during the day to eat.
Please join me on Saturday December 2nd from 1-3pm for Yoga for Digestion, and spread the word if you have people in your community that could benefit from this. The workshop costs $35, includes a handout for your home practice, and qualifies for 2 hours of continuing education through Yoga Alliance. Register online now and take charge of your health!
In service (of happy digestion),
This weekend Anne Witmer is teaching a special Rasayana workshop that is completely sold out. If you wanted to attend but enrolled too late here are some tidbits from Anne herself on how to achieve body and soul rejuvenation from home. Enjoy!
Working a 9-5 job, caring for a 7-year old child as a single parent part of the time, and taking 30 yoga classes in a month may sound like an impossibility on the surface, but I did it in September and found that everything actually worked better together. My consistent practice made parenting easier and work go more smoothly, which reinforced my desire to practice, creating a virtuous loop.
To make it all work, I’d often take two or three classes a day when I had the opportunity to. The more I practiced, the deeper I went, and the longer I was able to stay present and at ease throughout the day. I began noticing that when I took two classes in a row, the first class would clear away the mental and emotional cobwebs of the day and the second would invite me into what felt like a deep pool of calm and understanding; a pool that went much deeper than I knew existed. Some classmates and I laughed that “one just wasn’t enough for me anymore.” I was hooked.
Simple movements like getting out of bed, walking down the street, sitting in a chair, all began to feel different - more embodied. And my sleep – on many nights I slept like I hadn’t slept since I was a child.
On the flip side, after several days in a row of two or three-a-day classes, I began to see that there is such a thing as too much; that indeed there needs to be balance in yoga as well as, just like in all other parts of life.
I took a variety of classes. No matter what type of class, I found they all created the same reliable sense of transformation, just in different flavors. No matter what state I showed up to class in, I learned to count on yoga to bring me back to center every time. It continues to amaze me how the practice of focusing on breath and movement create a consistent, powerful effect on my mental, emotional, energetic, spiritual, and physical health.
As an employee of a large environmental nonprofit, one of the insights that arose during practice was that we are, as human-beings, a sitting, walking, talking ecosystem. There’s a lot going on inside us. I’ve danced with this concept before, but I felt like I experienced this understanding in my body during practice. My intention to use my professional capacity to care for Earth and all life starts with me then, in the ecosystem of me. Ecosystems need flow, diversity, balance, and so does my own life energy. The practice of yoga is like an effective environmental nonprofit for my self, ensuring these life-giving qualities are present, cleansing pollutants, and shifting the mindsets that create pollution in the first place. How can I create health “out there” if I haven’t first paid attention to it “in here”? This was a radical shift for me, and has left me wondering how we might combine yoga and environmentalism to harness the powers of both at the same time?
Feeling more present, whole, and connected both within and also to life more broadly is enough in itself. But what rounds out the experience for me is what it does for how I’m able to show up in the moment with others at work, at home with my daughter, and with those around me. Incrementally, I notice I’m able to listen more openly, take the world in a more deeply, and appreciate the moment I’m in. Life is still life, with its ups and downs and endless lessons, but the practice of yoga and the community and teachers at Yoga Bhoga make the living much richer – Thank you!
As Yoga Bhoga's resident guru, Meghan Maris has dedicated her life to the passing on of the yogic traditions, lifestyle, and teaching philosophies. Alongside her partner in crime Scott Lennartz, Meghan is celebrating the closing of Yoga Bhoga's 6th annual Teacher Training. Yoga Bhoga is immensely proud of their sixteen graduates who successfully completed 200 hours of advanced study and self-practice. Check out some of our pics from the retreat below!
Good news for non-teaching students!!! You don't have to do teacher training to participate in deeper study with Meghan Maris. The interview below will give you insights into her upcoming immersion, teaching background, and teaching mission.
What is your background and teaching philosophy?
I began teaching in the winter of 2000. I was deeply enthusiastic about living the yogic lifestyle. So much so that it led me to live with my teachers in London for 3 years at the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Center. (In light of the current events in Manchester, my heart goes out to all my beloved friends and spiritual family in the U.K). I returned to Portland in 2004 where I have been teaching the modalities of yoga ever since.
What yogic theories are you most passionate about teaching?
My philosophy of teaching yoga is manifold as there are so many aspects of the practice. Through the lens of the asana practice, I am most inspired to strike a balance between strengthening and lengething both the body and the mind. Perhaps where the asana practice can be the most profound is revealing how we move our bodies unconsciously by accessing parts of our body that are familiar places to move from. The alchemy of the asanas is to awaken us to the subtle aspects of our bodies and mind to utilize what has been neglected and contain what is unstable. I teach a class that is focused on breath inspired movement as a pathway to inner stillness.The physical practice is the spring board to explore the inner world. Penetrating our inner landscape requires a quietening of our minds. Our minds, however, only function to the degree in which we understand its workings. The ancient philosophies of yoga are present throughout what I offer.
How is the immersion different than a regular hatha class?
The Early Morning Immersion will be different than a regular class for a variety of reasons. One of the most simple and yet powerful reasons is the consistently of practicing with a regular sangha or community. Many people come to yoga seeking community and programs like the immersion are wonderful opportunites to support and grow with others. The immersion is inspired by Yoga Sutras 1.13 through 1.16. These particular sutras discuss the topic of abhyasa or practice. The intention is to explore how we can strengthen our practice through the understanding of how we can easily lose ground with it and how we can keep ourselves inspired and enthusiastic. I will be providing contemplative questions which the student will be welcome to explore throughout the immersion. I will also be providing guided instruction on a variety of breathing techniques which will be incorporated in our morning practices.
Is this workshop for more advanced practitioners or novices too?
Both long term students of yoga and novices alike will benefit from this immersion.
What exactly does this program include?
In the one hour what will we actually be doing????
The morning practices will include meditation, guided pranayama, and a strong, although accessible, asana practice. In addition, I will be offering questions pertaining to Yoga Sutras 1.13-1.16 for the students to contemplate through the two weeks. On the final Saturday, we will come together to share our experiences throughout the two weeks and wrap up the discussion.
For more information about Meghan visit her website at meghanmarisyoga.com.
Read about employee Kendal at Sustainable Northwest and how she connects her yoga practice off the mat to a world of service with the local non-profit. Support Kendal and Sustainable Northwest by visiting Yoga Bhoga on April 22nd.Read More
Most likely you have heard that your thoughts have power. Often your thoughts live in the past or the future – rarely do they reside in the present. The past is full of your successes, your failures, your rejections, your hurts, and your joys. While the future is your dreams, the past is full of your life lessons. Yet, not everything we think or say is aligned with our highest self. What happens when the stories we tell ourselves limit us?
All of us can relate to and understand fear. Whether you are walking down a dark alley or about to hit send on a job proposal, the fear is real – and there is a perceived threat to your survival. Of course, walking down a dark alley makes more sense that you would be afraid for your safety. Yet, all fear is trying to keep you safe and secure. Any change to your present circumstances is going to be altering and slightly jarring – even if it is a positive change. For example, a new job will require a new routine, a set of new rules.
According to Dr. Athena Staik, thoughts “create inner standards that spark neurochemical dynamic processes, which selectively govern your choices and actions with precision.” The more you ruminate on a thought the more you dig neural pathways to return to the same thought pattern over and over. For example, the more you drive the same course to work every day the more familiar and habitual it becomes, the more you tune out during the drive and yet you arrive to your destination. Like your thoughts the more you continue to think the same way, the more you arrive at the same place.
Your Subconscious at Work
These mental impressions live in the subconscious and contribute to your suffering and your joy. According the Jennifer Read Hawthorne the average person thinks approximately 60,000 thoughts a day, 95%- 98% of those thoughts are the same, and 80% of those thoughts are negative. The subconscious is self-perpetuating – always feeding into itself like the hamster running on a wheel getting exhausted yet going nowhere. The more unaware you are to what is occurring in your subconscious mind, the more you are sitting in the backseat of your life.
The subconscious mind is what influences your actions and feelings – and yet, how aware of what your subconscious is doing? To change your life is to change the stories you tell yourself. This is must come at a conscious level.
Tools to Change Thought Patterns
1. PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR BODILY SENSATIONS
Becoming aware of your bodily sensations is the doorway to presence. Only when you are grounded in the present will you be aware of how you think and talk to yourself. Physical exercise such as yoga and tai chi are great ways to ground into your body. So is meditation and conscious breathing (paying mindful attention to your inhale and your exhale).
As you go about your day, stop and ask yourself:
- How rested am I?
- Am I rested for the task at hand? Do I need to step away?. Am I hydrated? Am I hungry?
- Do I need to go to the bathroom? Am I taking care of my basic needs?
- Do I need to move my body?
- Do I need some fresh air on my face?
A mantra is a mind tool that calms down the “thinking brain,” the neocortex, by giving it a singular tunnel to travel through rather than letting it scattered into the past, future, likes, and aversions.
Repeating an affirmation is a great way to replace your negative self-talk with positive reinforcement.
3. REDUCE TRIGGERS
As you notice your thoughts and how they affect you, you may also begin to notice what particular activities trigger negative self-talk. Notice if when you are social media if you subconsciously criticizing or comparing yourself to others. Do you binge watch television shows at night and then berate yourself in the morning for not being able to get up early to meditate? Notice what activities create more anxiety and depreciating thoughts and begin to reduce those activities. Be sure to congratulate yourself for every step to take to change your actions and your thoughts
4. RE-LABEL YOUR THOUGHTS
Once you become more present with yourself and familiar with coming into the present moment, you will start to hear (and feel) your obsessive thinking. Rather than pushing negative thoughts away, rename them. For example, if you find yourself perceiving a co-workers success as a threat to your own self-worth rather than fixate on their success (and your lack of success) rename these thoughts as “My Motivation” or “My Inspiration.” Redirect the thoughts into the positive.
5. REPEAT (AND REPEAT AND REPEAT…)
Hawthorne, Jennifer Read (2014). Change Your Thoughts, Change Your World. Http://www.jenniferhawthorne.com/, 2014. Web. 19 Sept. 2016.
Marsh, Sarahjoy (2015). Hunger, Hope, and Healing: A Yoga Approach to Reclaiming Your Relationship to Your Body and Food. Boston & London: Shambala. Print
Staik, A. (2016). The Neuroscience of Changing Toxic Thinking Patterns (1 of 2). Psych Central. http://blogs.psychcentral.com/relationships/2011/08/the-neuroscience-of-changing-toxic-thinking-or-behavior-patterns/. Web. 19 Sept 2016.