In case you needed something to brighten your afternoon, perhaps take a few minutes for some mind-focusing yoga. Or, even better, a video of people doing yoga with a little help from their pets:
Health and fitness can go through so many trends and fads but yoga can be traced back more than 5,000 years and when it comes to exercise practices, this one is a marriage of mind, body and spirit. Whether you’re new to yoga or you’ve been practicing for years, we love sharing new resources for growing! Pop Sugar is one of those resources and today we’re sharing some of our favorite routines to start in your home or studio: Continue reading
We’re entering the holiday season where we’ll be sitting down to meal after meal with family and friends. In preparation, we shared about the 21 Day Meditation Challenge to help get your head and heart ready. We also have something that will help get your body ready!
We at Intent.com have long been big fans of Tara Stiles and all she does for fitness and healthy living. Now, we’re excited to share about her new book “Make Your Own Rules Diet”.
Good things happen to good people – that’s karmic belief. This week Intent’s former blog editor Chelsea Roff was the subject of Break.com’s “Prank it Forward” series where they surprise deserving individuals with life changing gifts.
For those that don’t know, Chelsea left Intent last year to pursue creating her own non-profit organization that shows the vital importance of yoga in eating disorder recovery. Chelsea herself suffered from extreme anorexia – at one point dropping to 58 pounds and caused her to have a stroke two weeks before her 16th birthday. She spent 18 months recovering under the custody of a Dallas hospital. When she was released her therapists suggested that yoga might be good for her – and it turned out to be a life changing experience.
To give back to the community that gave so much to her Chelsea started an IndieGoGo campaign last July that raised over $51,000 in four days. For those four days Chelsea camped out above the “You Are Beautiful” mural in Santa Monica, refusing to leave until she reached her goal. Now that money is going to fund research based studies in yoga studios and treatment centers around the country. To help get the funds to hire a full-time staff for the organization Chelsea has also been moonlighting as a waitress. Did we mention she’s only 24? Chelsea Roff is the definition of using your own talents and abilities – and the power of intent – to save the world. To reward her for all of her selfless good work, her friends and co-workers teamed up with Break.com to provide Chelsea with the best shift ever.
We are so proud of Chelsea, who will always be a member of the Intent family, and all of the things she’s done. It’s such a wonderful thing to see her get the rewards she deserves for doing such amazing, wonderful work. Congratulations to Chelsea! You deserve it, girl. And we can only hope that Chelsea’s journey also inspires all of you to show the potential of setting an intent and following through with it. We really have the power to make meaningful change in people’s lives!
Learn how you can help Eat. Breathe. Thrive. or find one of Chelsea’s programs in a city near you here.
As I progressed with my morning yoga and stretching routine this morning, ribs and clavicle sore from a fall nearly two weeks ago, it occurred to me how often the decisions our brain makes directly impact the well-being of our body. My sweet body had no say in my decision to step from one countertop across to the other as I cleaned the cabinet tops of my daughter’s “new” vintage apartment. Mom wanted to be sure the kitchen was pristine for Natalie and her roommate. Natalie had no time to stop me as I said, “Spot me.” Misjudging the spread between counters, I went straight to the floor. Crash!
While VERY fortunate to not have had worse consequences, my brain’s poor decision put my body in jeopardy. My sweet body had no say in the matter until its voice spoke up in resulting discomfort and the process of healing over time.
How often do our brains put our bodies in predicaments, decisions resulting in compromised well-being? Be it a movement that results in injury or a poor food choice that leaves our stomach churning in misery, a decision that came from the brain leaves our body to bear the consequences.
These can be snap decisions or ongoing decisions (think excessive eating, smoking, over exercising). How do we give our body a voice? How do we let our body speak up BEFORE it gets jolted, pained or harmed? Remember, we get one body to experience this lifetime. It deserves respect and honor. And whether you see your body as a temple or not, it is THE primary home in which we live. So, how do we give it a voice in the decisions our brain subjects it to? Repeated discomfort from its decisions often don’t do the trick. Think eating the same food over and over that leaves us miserable, but we can’t resist because it’s so yummy.
Maybe some perspective is a pathway to bodily comfort and health. We have our body, mind, emotions and Spirit, a “quadrinity” of sorts that represents our wholeness. Does your quadrinity work as a team? Does your brain often step back and let your body, emotions and Spirit speak? How do we train our brain to give the others a voice that is heard?
For starters, being more CONSCIOUS of our body, habituating our brain to listen to the body is one substantive step. What did I feel when I was about to cross the kitchen in the air? I recall thinking, “It will be less work than getting down to the floor and climbing back up on the other side.” Did I hesitate? Not beyond the thought. But that very thought was a cue that that their was a consideration to heed, and a possible risk in following through. Otherwise, I would not have had that thought of an alternative.
Listening to our INNER voice, instead of the brain’s overpowering “just do it” is a skill that takes dedication to cultivate, be it through mindfulness or meditation training or another method that works for you.
An article I recently read about Ayurveda gave me profound perspective, a catalyst to listening more to my body, albeit I have a ways to go or I would not have attempted my kitchen counter leap. Our BODY is always in the PRESENT. It never lies. It speaks truth. Yet, our BRAIN is often in the PAST or the FUTURE. Putting our body first, giving it the opportunity to alert us to what it needs, or not, brings us present to the decisions we make can serve us better for the future and help us learn from the past. It is here that I come full circle to yoga, which in essence is about connecting the body and the mind through your breath.
So, when making that decision, when that soft voice yearns to be heard, take a DEEP breath. LISTEN. What is that voice saying? Whose voice beckons to be heard? Was my body’s voice trying to speak to say, “DON’T DO IT! I WILL GET HURT!” I need to be more conscious when my body’s voice is trying to keep my brain’s powerful voice at bay, protecting my body from yet another consequence that might leave me injured, sore, or wondering how to cure my upset stomach.
We have the tools. We just need to give our body its voice. As for our emotions and spirit, let’s take one smart step at a time. The segments of our quadrinity can all learn from one another.
For three weeks now, Tara Stiles has been hosting our 21-day yoga challenge on Intent.com with Sports Club LA. Over the past few weeks we’ve shared blogs to motivate people to start a yoga practice or deepen the one they are already in. Now that we are winding down the challenge we sat down with Tara to find out why she does yoga, what people can get out of challenges likes these, and what the next steps are after it is done.
If you happen to be in the Bay area you can see Tara and Mallika Chopra speaking at Studio 1 for the Sports Club LA Strala Strong event tomorrow, Nov. 8. More information is available here. You can also follow @SportsClub_LA for updates on the event.
Intent: What is your advice for anyone interested in getting into yoga but isn’t familiar with this world? Where do they start? How do they find a style that fits them?
Tara: The first thing to know is you’re already great how you are. A regular practice will keep you connected to feeling great, being healthy, strong, and open. Don’t worry about touching your toes, or doing a headstand, the goal is to connect with yourself and feel great. I created loads of videos on YouTube for first timers, so you can practice in the comfort of your home, whenever is easy for you. Start with 10 minutes in the morning, and 10 minutes before bed the first week and see how that feels. If you are looking for a particular style or studio, good to ask friends what they like. If you check out a class and it’s not for you, don’t be discouraged, try something different. There are loads of variety these days. Main thing is to stay connected to you, follow how you feel, and don’t push or force anything. Have fun and let me know if you have questions or need tips. I’m here for you!
Intent: You practice Strala yoga in your own studio in New York, which is sort of your own creation. What does Strala mean and what drew you to that particular style of yoga?
Tara: Strala means to radiate light in Swedish, which is something I learned after thinking I invented the word by combining strength, balance, and awareness. Strala is a movement based system of yoga that lets people feel into the full range of their selves. The result is a feeling of permission and freedom. We focus on moving over posing, and help people find their way into their own bodies, with a calm ease carried through easy and challenging things alike. It’s a ton of fun, and people call Strala, a Yoga Party.
Intent: For the past few weeks we’ve been doing a yoga challenge on Intent.com, combining making intents with starting or moving your practice to the next level, how important do you think having intents is to a solid yoga practice?
Tara: We have intents whether we are aware of them or not. With yoga maybe we practice to de-stress, to get more flexible, for our fitness, emotional wellbeing, or so many reasons combined. Becoming aware of our intents is a powerful practice to focus on where we are directing our energy. With intents we become productive. What isn’t necessary can roll right off of us.
Intent: You set a lot of intents for this challenge, how do you personally decide what your intent will be each day?
Tara:Like most things, I follow my intuition. Each day is different and I’d like to cultivate different things in the day. I decide on the intent depending on what I would like to accomplish each day.
Intent: What do you feel is the main take away from challenges like these? What good do you think they can do?
Tara: Setting intents for 21 days in a row begins a habit of awareness of our habits. It’s a commitment to positive change in our lives.
Intent: For those that used the challenge to start getting into yoga – what should they do now that it’s over? What’s your advice for staying motivated to stick with it?
Tara: Keep going. Find ways of practicing that are interesting and exciting to you. If you’re a morning person, practice when you wake up. If you have a lot of energy at night, do your yoga at night. Make your routine work for you, not what you think it should look like.
Intent: Some of us can’t be in San Francisco for your talk at the SCLA conference – can you give us a sneak peak of what it’s going to be about?
Tara: Super excited about SF, and very excited for Mallika’s meditation. The class I lead will be energetic and fun, and of course, move with ease. I’m leading a 2 day Strala Intensive all weekend where I train instructors how to lead Strala. It’s also open to anyone who wants to dive into the methodology. I lead these trainings at all the SCLA around the US and it’s been an exciting adventure. Strala will be on the schedule in all the clubs 1st Quarter of 2014.
Help support Tara and the Intent community by joining the 21 Day Yoga Challenge sponsored by Sports Club LA! For 21 Days Tara is posting intents to encourage you to start or deepen your practice and to help you better connect your mind and body with the world around you. You can support or adopt Tara’s intent. Or you can set your own intent! Just add them to the yoga category and let’s support each other!
*Images from TaraStiles.com
Just relax. Let it go. Don’t worry about it.
I’ve heard and read that advice a thousand times over, but it never made sense to me before. I knew what the words meant, but I didn’t actually get it because I couldn’t feel it.
Things are different for me now though and it’s in large part due to yoga and meditation. Yoga provided me with a quieter mind, which led to a curiosity about the infinite space that was revealed to me in the new silence of my mind. That new silence then grew naturally into a daily meditation practice.
Letting go of expectations around and my attachment to outcomes in relation to things, people and relationships is something I’m learning how to live. I’m not saying it’s always easy, or that it happens instantly, but sometimes it is and it does.
What I’m saying is that now I understand why it makes sense to let go and I feel confident in being able to do so when it is what will serve me best.
As I become more aware of and accustomed to the following three understandings, letting go becomes easier and even preferable in most situations:
† I have everything I need and can access it at will by simply closing my eyes, returning to breath and turning inward to watch emotions and feelings as they flow through me.
† Everything is temporary.
† Connections and relationships don’t end or stop existing because of time or distance. This is because time and distance are simply illusions.
The days I feel the happiest are the days when I’m able to relax into the flow and remain present with my breath in each moment.
Learning to Listen
Learning how to listen to your body and trust in the information coming to you through sensations is so important. Over the last few weeks I’ve taken a little unplanned and unexpected break from my yoga practice. I rarely miss a day, so to wake up in the morning and feel like I didn’t want to go wasn’t an easy feeling to have, mentally speaking.
It started with just two or three days where I didn’t go to the studio. I felt that my body was exhausted and needed a break. Then I wasn’t exhausted anymore, but I didn’t want to go. It didn’t feel like an issue of discipline or laziness, I just felt in my body that I did not want to go. I wanted to write and sleep and do other things.
I decided to listen to my body and over the last twenty one days I’ve only practiced about six times. On the days when I haven’t gone to class, I tend to feel a sense of guilt or hear a critical voice telling me that I “should” go, but by staying mindful and returning to breath I’ve been able to remind myself that it’s okay not to practice somedays.
Why was this even an issue? Well, it hit me in class today that I have been deriving a large part of my identity with the fact that I usually practice yoga daily. It also became clear to me that when we identify strongly with something that is external to who we are at the core of our being, whether it be a practice of some sort, our career, friendships, a hobby or talent — we can become susceptible to relying on it too much.
This new awareness is another reminder of why it’s good to take time to sit in silence and *feel* who we are. We are not our yoga practice, our job, our children, our guitar playing, our baking.. we’re not any of that.
I think my little break from yoga was my inner wisdom’s way of reminding me to not look externally for validation about how worthy I am as a person. I am valuable and incredible simply because I exist.
I don’t need to do anything else besides breathe and stand tall to let my light shine and contribute positively to the collective consciousness.
About two weeks into my yoga break, while driving down into a valley on the 2 freeway, it seemed that the morning light was communicating in an act of reciprocity with the incredible array of trees that dot the hills of Eagle Rock.
It hit me so hard at that moment that I should strive to be like the trees. They stand still in confidence for the entirety of their life. The only practice they attend to is one of mindfulness.
They breathe in, and breathe out. They stand bare and naked in the world, bold in their beauty, while focusing solely on their purpose — to absorb the carbon dioxide and return life-giving oxygen to the universe.
They grow where they are born — on rocks, in fields, near freeways, on flatlands, the beach… they do not complain about their lot in life. They do not run away and relocate to escape hardships. Instead, they make do with the nutrients provided to them in the soil they were conceived in. They embrace challenges and remain rooted firmly into their place in life.
Trees are so simple, yet they’re each unique. They don’t need to perform or achieve or move to get your attention. We can all see that each tree is individually unique. They all look different and make us feel different things. Just simply by existing they are valuable and important to us.
Wouldn’t it be cool if we could all be a little more like the trees?
There have been a lot of inspiring intents about creating a yoga practice, getting back into it or simply wanting to create a deeper connection. Here are a few of my favorites that I wanted to share with everyone.
The best thing about starting Intent has been to foster a community that supports each other and pushes themselves to do better things. That’s the real purpose of these challenges – to bring everyone together and encourage each other. Click any of the intents above to support them or adopt them as your own. If you want to join us you can create your own and put it in the yoga category on Intent.com.
And you’re not alone! I’ve been using the challenge to push myself in yoga as well As a Chopra there is this expectation for me to be really good at yoga, but the truth is I’m not. I’m not at all.
One Christmas, Gotham gave me a gift certificate for yoga classes. The certificate was valid for 6 months, and I had not redeemed it. When the guy looked at the certificate, luckily, there was no date on it — so, I lied. I told him, with a sweet smile, that I received it for my birthday in July. Not a moment of Chopra guilt.
As he was putting my info in the system, he furrowed his brows and I knew the question was coming. “Any relation to Deepak?” I nodded. “Yes, he’s my father.” He replied, “Cool. We have his books here.” I looked up, and my fathers face was smiling at me from above the counter.
“Deepak Chopra is your father!!” A woman waiting in line next to me, squealed with delight. “Oh, my God! I love him. Can I touch you? I have never met anyone famous before.” The rest of the people in line peered at me. I smiled awkwardly. “I’m not famous,” I said. “People know my father…”
The woman was right in my face now. “My name is Sarah. I loved his book – 7 Practical Laws of Love.”
“Seven Spiritual Laws of Success,” I replied.
Sarah put her mat next to mine. She started telling me about how the Law of Least Resistance had changed her life. The yoga instructor walked in, “I just heard you are Deepak’s daughter,” she announced to the room. “Now, I feel all this pressure!” The other people turned, looking at each other, nodding knowingly. And, then it all went totally downhill. I completely unraveled. It was the moment of truth and the whole room witnessed it.
I kept slipping during Downward Dog Pose. I couldn’t balance during Tree Pose. Forget about even attempting, Sirsasana, the Headstand Pose. Every time I turned to the left, Sarah was ogling me, but also a bit confounded about what I was doing. I felt totally inadequate. I just could not perform. People pretended not to see my awkwardness. Sarah actually stopped looking over. The teacher seemed to have slowed down a bit, embarrassed. Finally, it was Mrtsana, the Corpse Pose, and, thank god, it was over!
I rushed out. I did not glance at Sarah — well, to be honest, she was not even looking at me any more. I did not want to face the teacher. I felt like everyone in the room had discovered my most intimate secret. But as I ran out, the man at the register stopped me. “Hey, Ms. Chopra, could you do us a favor and sign these books?” There was a pile of my dads books on the counter. People started drifting out of the room.
I panicked for a moment. Sarah was looking over my shoulder now. “Oh, wow. I didn’t know Deepak had written a book on yoga.” She actually sounded perplexed. I took a deep breath. I dropped my head in shame. I took another breath. And, then, something miraculous happened. With that breath, somehow, I had re-connected. Another breath. Connection. I was a Chopra. Another breath. Admit it, I suck at yoga. Another breath. That is ok.
I smiled at the man at the register. “Sorry, I really can’t sign those books. They are my father’s, not mine.” Another breath. I started to walk out.
Remember who you are.
“But, you know what,” I turned back in. “I could sign my book, if you carried it…”
Sarah looked up, and the look was coming back into her eyes. The look of hope, the look that there was still something to believe in.
I stood tall, put my hands together in Namaste, and smiled that Chopra smile at her with all of its glory!
Setting goals and intents aren’t about being perfect – it’s about trying. So I hope you try with us!