Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Balancing faith

by Sammy Garrett, Zuna Yoga 200 hour yoga teacher training graduate

How I miss the tranquility of Indonesia’s islands. It’s not very often that distractions are as limited as they were during the stay on the silent sanctuary of Gili Meno. I’ll be completely honest; I’ve been struggling to find balance since returning from my 200 hour yoga teacher training at maoMeno, a place dedicated to nurturing the practices of yoga day in day out. It all seems but a distant dream …

The yoga teacher training runs for three intensive weeks, whereby nothing else matters other than getting the absolute most out of the training. It’s all about YOU, your practice, your growth, your learning. Afterwards, the real world sure provides a rude awakening. Although all of us Zuna Yogis had a lovely break and switched off for a short while, there’s no doubt each of us holds varying forms of responsibility and commitment upon returning to ‘everyday life’. The secret is juggling these daily demands with a dedicated lifestyle of yoga and meditation, thus finding the sweet spot we call balance. 

Peaceful Gili Meno
Incorporating the learnings from the 200 hour yoga teacher training into daily life is happening with slow and steady progress. With plenty of bumps along the way, persistence has been the key. When life hands you a challenge, you learn from it, right? It’s easy to find excuses as to why our best intentions aren’t being lived up to, or punish and guilt ourselves until we lose motivation completely. Treating myself with kindness and patience, I think of my goals. Stay focused. Breathe. I’m not trying to run a marathon, but I do know which direction I’m facing, and the focus is to simply put one foot in front of the other. For now, this is enough. 

Balance requires constant work and assessment. Just as we must be aware of every cell in the body to find strength, stillness and stability in asanas, we must also remain soundly alert throughout everyday life. Constant awareness helps in staying grounded and strong in our true selves. Acting as my own test dummy, I have been exploring by tipping the scales each way, precariously finding a stable middle ground. I am determined to stay true to myself. It hasn’t been easy and at times I have felt lost and alone, discovering that a strong support network is fundamental to success. The key is to surround myself with those who respect and honor my passions, gently reminding me of my purpose should I lose my way.

yoga teacher training Bali
Zuna Tribe
Oh how wonderful it would be to let my hair down, break free from all obligations and roam this world as a carefree, spirited yogi. Alas, society does not operate this way. We are social beings, we form relationships and participate in communities. So why not make that community a loving, yogic one? As a self confessed travel junkie, I have realized I no longer need to search the globe to find my tribe. If I shine my light brightly enough, I will attract those who share the same values and beliefs. I have faith.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Learning to thrive

by Everett Newell, ERYT 500, Founder of Zuna Yoga

yoga teacher training bali
Life is full of big decisions: education, career, finance, family, where to live … with virtually an infinite number of choices to explore, how do we confidently know what choices will lead us toward meaningful reward? Is purpose something we just randomly decide, or is there a luminous dimension of authentic individuality waiting to shine and be shared? If there is purpose to our existence, how do we find it and effectively integrate it into our lives? Even as a child, I pondered the importance of these elusive life questions. Through the years that followed I found myself questioning whether it was even possible to create a recipe for authentic happiness, let alone be sustained beyond the fleeting moments of triumph we experience as we pass by the obvious landmarks of professional and financial success.

For years I struggled with many attempts at creating a satisfying foothold in various careers and relationships, none of which led me to true fulfillment. Then something shifted. I stumbled upon a philosophy and system of practice that lead to me to the answers I’d been searching for. It was a slow and methodical turning point that transformed a seemingly random, circumstantial life into a masterful experience of authentic joy and purpose. This began to fluidly integrate into nearly all my thought and decision processes. And then there was an awakening. Like experiencing the glorious dance of colorful morning light as the sun auspiciously begins to rise, I felt the the blossoming of fulfillment as I realized I was actually living a beautiful and purposeful life. It felt authentically organic. My life, relationships, career, everything, were being experienced on a level I had never known before. The events of my life were no longer a collage of random experiences, but were now more like the elegant brush stokes of a masterful artist on the canvas of life.

For the first time, I felt joyously driven and in command of my life. It was as if the voices of

truth that belonged to the saints and sages of tradition were guiding me. Yoga is not only a discipline to teach us how to transcend suffering, but most importantly a science that teaches us how to thrive. I had deciphered a modern interpretation of a deep and meaningful promise of yoga and I knew it needed to be shared. There is so much more to yoga than simple postural perfection. The postures, methods of breathing, meditation and contemplations are like the threads of a fabric. When woven together with intelligent structure, they create an experience far greater than the sum of their individual parts. I made note of what had transpired, and continued to refine my knowledge of the practices and their supporting philosophy that led me to my own realization. Over the next few years, I assembled what I had learned into a concise recipe of tradition and science. This was the birth of Zuna Yoga, and I have been dedicated to sharing its spiritual alchemy with others ever since.

bali yoga teacher training
In the years to follow, I’ve seen many students pass through our yoga teacher trainings. I’ve never experienced anything more fulfilling than being witness to their dedication for inspired conscious living, and seeing that dedication rewarded as they reveal their own authentic voice and vision. The testimonials we receive that speak to the discoveries made while attending this program fill me with hope that it is possible for us to share in a world where we can all thrive, powered by authenticity. 

Managing the growing list of life’s choices requires us to be more informed and deliberate when choosing a course heading through life so we may arrive at a destination of happiness and fulfillment that is equal to the desire for it to be realized. Awakening the wisdom and the will to authentically thrive in the modern world is the purpose of Zuna Yoga.

Come join us and be inspired to THRIVE.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

The Science of Beauty

by Adrienne White, 300 hour yoga teacher training student

 When I started my business, Yoga Muse, I subtitled it "custom yoga" since my intention was, in a sea of different practices, to help people find their yoga. I didn't even realize that I was still searching for mine.

I went to Bali with the intention of completing my 500 hour certification, but I came home with so much more. I found a life philosophy that to me is so inspiring and practical as a path to a wonderful life. It is the science of beauty - the Hatha Yoga tradition of Sri Vidya, as presented by Zuna Yoga. Sri is defined as the essence of divinity or sublime beauty, and Vidya as knowledge or science - thus "the science of living the experience of sublime beauty". This beauty is not outside ourselves, it is already a part of who we are. All we need to do is remember.

Beauty is not always pretty, and working hard is part of the program. There are seven steps outlined to create this beautiful life in the ancient yoga text, The Gheranda Samhita, which we spent time reading and discussing during our final week of yoga teacher training. We had already been putting many of these steps into practice: purification, asana, bandhas, pratayahara (calmness), pranayama, dhyana (self realization), and working towards samadhi. Samadhi is the ultimate realization - there is nothing to achieve. I am complete and I share that completeness. I am perfection. I am sitting in the garden of my life and it has blossomed.

So how does one get to that samadhi, that bliss? W
ith our yoga, we can create the fires of transformation, building shakti (energy) for the power to fuel our work. Those who possess this fire go out in the world and do -  but it's not quite as simple as just that. This shakti has three parts: the wisdom to know what to do, the will power to do it, and the fortitude to follow through with the action. Yoga, pranayama, and meditation build these shaktis. I want as much of those three things as I can get, so I will do my practice.

After days and days of hard work, the final week seemed to come so quickly. Having had several days of pouring rain, we were very grateful for sunshine at the end. We cried many tears at having to say goodbye to each other. We had come together as strangers from all around the world, and left as fast friends. Who else would understand the depth of the work we had done, the level at which we had bared our souls?  I had arrived with the intention to go deep, but I had no idea how deep I would actually go. It was a free dive down, down, down the rabbit hole of my consciousness, my sense of self, and my understanding of yoga. I am forever changed.

I spent my last three days in Bali wandering the shops in the village of Ubud, and then in its jungly outskirts. I tried to stay fully in the moment of appreciation for these last stolen minutes of freedom ... not slipping into the strong pull of homesickness, as I was tempted to do. I practiced my yoga and stayed with the beauty of feeling each deep breath of the steamy Balinese air.

Too often we miss beautiful moments in life because of wishing we were doing or being something else. When we're in our everyday lives, we're wishing we were doing something "exciting", only to leave on an adventure and long for the comforts of home. It's a strange phenomenon of the human mind, when we allow ourselves to be unconscious. But I had worked hard the last five weeks to completely wake up and change my mind. 

"Be here now," I reminded myself, so when I did return home, I could hug my family tight, telling them fully of every sight, every sound, and every taste of this magical place I'd been so lucky to briefly call home.

I will also tell them that we come into the world needing to learn life lessons before we can open into the secrets and beauty of who we are and the world we're in. Yoga is one path to learn those lessons. Every step we take can bring us closer to understanding who we truly are, or instead, is an opportunity to close our eyes. We are either becoming more conscious or less aware.

I choose to be awake to it all. I choose self remembrance. Once you open your eyes, you can't go back to not seeing. And why would you want to if your chosen path is The Science of Beauty?


More articles from Adrienne:
Dispelling the Darkness
Seeds of Intention / How does your garden grow?
The Incredible Lightness of Your Being

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Five reasons to do your 300 hour yoga teacher training

by Anna Rhein, Zuna Yoga assistant trainer

Recently, I was assisting a 200 hour yoga teacher training and was asked by many of the students about whether to sign up for a 300 hour advanced training. Since my own 300 hour yoga teacher training was an absolutely life changing event, I was inclined to quickly reply - "yes, of course you should!" However, if my enthusiasm isn’t a good enough reason, below are a few things that inspired me to take the leap. Hopefully this will help anyone who is considering taking the next step on the yoga journey, no matter what stage of teaching you are in. 

1. Expanding your knowledge on the practice/history of yoga:  Investigating why and how it all began is something that every teacher should make the time for. I feel there is a big gap between what people are teaching and what yoga really is. The advanced course provided just enough information to spark that desire to delve further into the history, while at the same time providing me with enough on the subject to have an intelligent conversation regarding the core meaning of the practice. Demonstrating in-depth knowledge on any subject you're teaching will have your peers and students respecting you even more. 

2. Developing a stronger personal practice: Just like with any career field or hobby you choose to engage in, there is always room to grow. By expanding your own practice, you will be able to give back through your teaching and in everyday life. A yoga practice is never complete; there is no finish line. Taking the time to explore and deepen your practice can inspire so many other things to happen on and off the mat.  Warning: drastic positive changes will take place! 

3. Adding to your resume:  The yoga world is rapidly growing. Everyday there are probably hundreds of people getting certified as yoga teachers. Hopefully, this means that as a whole, we are becoming more aware - and it also means more teachers out there, competing for limited jobs. You have to be able to attract students in order to be successful. To do this you, need to be able to weave different concepts into your classes, finding ways to engage many different types of yogis. A few things that stood out for me were the energetic discovery of building a balanced sequence, a variety of effective meditations, advanced pranayama techniques, the use of bandhas ,and last but certainly not least, the important role the breath plays in all of it. Sharpening your skills and adding new tools to the box is always a smart idea.

4. Taking time out to connect with yourself: You are the most important person in your world. If you aren’t taking time for your soul to be nourished and find that deep connection within, you wont be able to share it with others.  As yoga teachers, we often forget what inspired us to be teachers in the first place; we take ourselves for granted. I was reminded a few times in the training of why I decided to follow this path. It was a beautiful thing to rediscover.  

5. Feeding your desire to travel the world:  Attending a course in another country was one of the best decisions I could have made. It provided a foundation to completely surrender to the practice, without the distractions of everyday life: work, hobbies, friends and family. There is something very special about taking a huge step up the spiritual ladder in a brief but intense amount of time, spent on your own. It also allowed for my travel bug to be appeased. I would suggest setting aside time to explore the destination of your choice either before or after your training. In Bali, for example: sinking your feet into its sandy beaches and crystal blue water, visiting the many temples and waterfalls for which it's famous, enjoying the breathtaking landscapes of volcanoes and rice paddies, snorkeling, diving, surfing and shopping its colorful textiles. There really is something for everyone, from the adventurous to the conservative.

I could go on and on about the jewels that I obtained over the month long intensive: confidence in my teaching and in myself; the ability to see the world through a different lens, a clear one; an unveiling of my purpose, and how to use it in the world; and a newfound freedom in my practice. I made lifetime friendships with yogis from all over the world, with whom I can exchange ideas and dreams. And lastly, I once again made myself proud for having the courage to leave the comforts of "regular" life to become a more powerful person.