Self Compassion

YOGAUCEnewsletter.svgYOGA NEWS – UCE

Summer is almost over, UCE returns to 2 services on September 11. Sunday Yoga returns to 8 am.  Wednesday yoga remains the same, 9:30 am.  

The September 11 Sunday yoga will have gong bath, Jessica and Doug to co-teach.  Approximately 30 minutes of yoga and a relaxing 15 minutes of gong bath.  We start the gong bath by relaxing in savasana and then the vibration of the gong for most people relaxes the parasympathetic (involuntary) nervous system.  Like many things in yoga, you have to come and try it.

Join us on Sunday, September 25, 2016 for the Annual Bike the Ridge ride! Jessica is leading the UCE efforts to involve UCE in this community event.  Ride your bike to UCE that day and there will be plenty of activities to join in, and to help out.

Tuesday evenings in the spring at UCE, Jessica will be leading a series studying the Yoga Sutras, the historical writings of yogis.  Stay tuned for details.

Theme for this newsletter, being kind to ourselves, self-compassion.  Most of the ideas and words here are paraphrased from the book,  Self – Compassion, Stop Beating Yourself Up and Leave Insecurity Behind by Kristin Neff.   Thanks to Jen Meyer and many others in our yoga community who have given guidance.  

Focusing on yoga and self-compassion. I think of yoga as a place to focus on self-compassion: Tune in to the body, breath, mind, and deepen the practice.  It truly starts with being kind and compassionate to ourselves. Kristen Neff asks us to remember how we show empathy to a friend in need and to find that same empathy for ourselves.  She encourages us to speak with kindness to ourselves.  Self talk would say the same things as when we are talking to a friend.  For example, “You are so worried about this right now.  I’m so sorry.”  As we speak kind words to ourselves, we begin to feel the challenges lessen.

Another piece of self-compassion that Neff talks about in her book is common humanity.  She writes that we are all connected, spiritual leader, Thich Nhat Hanh calls it “interbeing”.  Realizing that we are all connected and we all experience suffering in some form is a part of the work of self-compassion.  As TED talk speaker and psychologist, Brene Brown puts it, “Nobody rides for free.”

The third piece of self-compassion is mindfulness, being in the present moment.  To be aware and possibly articulate to ourselves, ‘ouch, that hurts’, or ‘this feels bad right now.’  Calling awareness to our feelings can help us to move through them.

And note that trying to make pain go away with self-compassion is just another way to repress pain and hurt. Self-compassion is about being with your suffering in a kind, loving way, not about making suffering disappear.

When angry with partner take a break for some self-compassion.  Put the ¨story¨ of the fight on hold.  Use empathic self talk to work through the intense feelings that have arisen.  When the break is over try to express positive emotion – laugh, smile, kind word, affirmation of listening.

As we do yoga we build on this practice of self-compassion by accepting who we are, being in the moment of where we are, and making the best with what we have.  This allows for us to be more accepting, less judgemental, more caring, connected, affectionate.

Thanks to all for our community of compassion.  


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Don’t Take it Personally

Don’t Take it Personally

Your WORD is your power.

Your inner voice comes from this power

Not someone trying to control you (your inner voice)

Gossip is Dark

Gossip is toxic, there is nothing sweet about it. Gossip brings us to dark behaviors  ~ as words and thoughts gossip  many times leads us to judgmental, crass, destructive behaviors.

In bringing ourselves into a better space or universe.  Gossip energies many times grow  like a virus as we speak. Our thought forms and words travel over to the people we are talking about, and can literally cling to the persons energy field.

The mucho energies of being human developing consciousness, the dynamics of relationships, the power of our words and thoughts creating damage  through my own ignorance, lack of awareness and compassion. I really had to take a long, hard look at myself and it has been very difficult to break this habit in many ways a normal part of my life.

How we revel in other people’s secrets and deep painful soul lessons all the while we refuse to acknowledge any darkness or shadow consciousness within our very own being.  It is always interesting to me how once we acknowledge a very destructive behavior within ourselves….we get hit with our karma and are given the loving opportunity to balance our energy.

It is the outer path where we focus our attention more on others, and what they are doing in order to keep us from focusing on the inner workings of our very own subconscious programs and egoic behavioral patterns. This will keep us in a pattern of recreation over and over again where we revolve in the same old lower vibrational energies unable to evolve into a higher state of consciousness and way of BEING.

Producing good results from bad coding UGGGG

The impeccable WORD, being authentic to ourselves, what we need and want.

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Last day teaching yoga Metro YMCA

Last day teaching yoga at Highridge and Leaning Tower YMCA – Friday, July 24, 2015.

Members of the Charter Y yoga group

Rose charter member participated in first and last class (LTY, Wednesday – July 22, 2015. )  Jo another charter member first and last class  (HRY, July 24, 2015 ).  Ros who I’ve know since the beginning of my ice skating days (dare I say 30 years ago) has attended since the beginning (not the very first class) and has been for me an authentic friend during  the seven years of yoga.

Building Community

What a magnificent community of yogis.  The many struggles that we pushed through together.  Thanks to all!  Wish everyone to keep breathing, stay tuned to  Will be leading yoga at Unitarian Church of Evanston, most Sunday mornings.  Starting in September will look for some possibilities, STAY TUNED.

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Revelry Yoga

merrymaking, celebration, carousal, spree.

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Listening to Your Body – it’s smarter than you


How, when, and what is “listen to your body?”  At the beginning of  our yoga class we tune in to the outer layer of the five koshas, annamaya kosha the body. Does one start by  awareness of the entire body from head to toe?  Is this when we align our joints, bones, and spine, engage our muscles, sense the skin?  Do we, can we penetrate into organs, endocrine system?


Reducing distractions – it starts with effort to reduce other things going on.  Doing yoga in the home is hard at times with all the distractions.


Being present – The body like life is constantly changing.  Are we listening, accepting these changes?  So many times we want to be something we are not, we want to be something we were in the past.


Deepening, penetrating awareness – like many things in life and yoga PRACTICE.   Practice begins with experimenting, self study, creativity.  How does one deepen the threshold of unconscious to conscious?


Being mindful – how to pay attention, so many things to think about.

When do we invite others (medical, family) to help us with our bodies?


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How to use Yoga to RELAX

Searched online  “How to use yoga to relax” – yoga seems to .

WebMD starts with:  Yoga means different things to different people. This topic focuses on a kind of yoga called Hatha yoga. One of the benefits of Hatha yoga is that it can relieve stress and help you relax.

After this kind of introduction one is linked to links and then more links, lots of Ads along the way.  I’m wondering now what is meant by Hatha? – Yoga is a path to health, relaxation and inner happiness. Through yoga, you cleanse your body and mind systematically, removing the build-up of tension (samskaras). Inner happiness results from this, as well as healing and ongoing health, giving you a healthy body and a positive mind. Moreover, you’ll experience inner peace, inexhaustible energy and mental clarity. You’ll embrace love, joy and kindness. To relax with yoga, here is what to do.

Following this is a young good looking person doing various poses.  Straight forward and stuff I like.  It misses the connections of things:  breathing one big example.

Huffington Post – nicely produced sequence of poses/pictures.  Kind of what most people might think of as yoga.

For me I think about it like the way we tune in – the four layers of tuning in:  body, breathing, mind, yoga intention.

Bringing attention internally deepening the perceptions, listening actively yet not taking action, bringing a sense of being to ourselves.

Breathing is for me the big one when it comes to relaxing.  When I started teaching I used to say that breathing is 80% of yoga.  I decided later on that this does not need a number.

Mind – tuning in, bringing ourselves to the moment we our in, accepting ourselves as who we are, being authentic.  The miracle of yoga is not walking on the water/ceiling but being on this earth in this present moment.

Yoga Intention – Our society, culture is so “goal” driven.  I can’t do yoga, I’m not flexible …  The goal is to forward bend and touch the toes.  The intention is to stretch, breath, make yourself whole.

Sirvasana done at end of yoga class is a practice of deep relaxation.  What are some of the practice techniques we can use to deepen our relaxation?










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The Art of Yoga Practice

Life and Yoga

Yoga practice is like life

Each circumstance in which we find ourselves is like a pose.

Some poses are hard to hold, others are pleasant.

It is how we hold the pose that determines whether or not we will suffer or grow

And whether or not we will listen to the drama of the ego or the wisdom of the spirit.

The Art/Path of Practice

Making Practice your Art  —- Developing, make your art your practice, changes, changing, never the same, discovering, rediscovering, submitting to awkwardness, contemplating, receiving, sending.

Every practice is learning  —- Unconscious incompetence —-> Conscious incompetence —->Conscious competence —-> Unconscious competence.

Right Effort —- Do not force yourself to do something you cannot do and be not sloth, sluggish.  Be joyful and healthful. nourish mother earth.  The self-generating power of discipline, build your practice with meaning. Balance from floor up, foot to foot, shoulder to shoulder, hip to hip.  Adjust plumb line, knee over ankle, hip over knee.  Focus inwardly, focus outwardly. Cultivate conscious breathing, Affirmation – feel the mountain in mountain pose.


Some short sayings, mantras inspiring one to practice yoga.

Open the Heart Center, Be kind to yourself – feel life – happiness soothing throughout the body.

The non-doing Paradox, The wisdom in it, and the equanimity that comes out of it, lie in knowing that surely will. Non-[doing is not passive rather it takes courage and energy.

Know Yourself, Keep in touch with your strengths and weaknesses, validate your life yourself, take time to quietly  and logically think through problems and transform them top blessings.

Flowering of Mindfulness, Choose to be mindful of something you do each day.  Deepen your mindfulness into more things you do.

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How do we connect to our yoga practice?

Things we  connect with in yoga:  Body, Breath, Focus, Thoughtfulness, Passion, Clarity, Joy, Balance, Harmony, Abundance, Transformation, Release

How does your yoga practice connect with your body?

How does your yoga practice connect with your breath?

How does your yoga practice connect with your focus?

How does your yoga practice connect with your thoughtfulness?

How does your yoga practice connect with your passion?

How does your yoga practice connect with your clarity?

How does your yoga practice connect with your joy?

How does your yoga practice connect with your balance?

How does your yoga practice connect with your harmony?

How does your yoga practice connect with your abundance?

How does your yoga practice connect with your transformation?

How does your yoga practice connect with your release?

Law of Attraction :  as a human being living in this time and space that alignment through thoughts, feelings and actions will bring exactly to you what you have aligned yourself with. What you ask for will be delivered.  You probably don’t know how to ask or even what your asking for  and you certainly don’t know when the Universe is going to deliver it.

3 influences on our connections:

you were born into the universe and aligned by parents a certain way

you grew into certain patterns and thoughts and this can change especially as you get older

your environment can help change

Link to printable version



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Satya – Truthfulness, impeccable truthfulness

What is the Truth?

There seems to always something that is trying to impress the truth to are consciousness.   Sometimes it is friend, a family member, often times is is the news, a teacher, an authority figure, on and on. So as yogis what do we think about the truth?

 Truth Changes

What is true today most likely will change as time goes on.   There are some absolute truths to be sure, we are all human for example.  However we are all different, have different voices, fingerprints, lifestyles.

Truth in Yoga

As we do our poses how do we concentrate, focus, bring yoga intention to our poses?  It starts with tuning into: our bodies, our breathing, our concentration and focus, and finally bringing mindfulness to our yoga practice.  Tuning into our bodies requires that we eliminate other distractions.  This is mostly done in an urban environment by going to yoga class, being with others who share the same interest.   Conscious breathing – lengthening the inhales and exhales bring a deeper relaxation and empties out stress.  Concentration the ability to bring the mind to what is important and focus the ability to narrow in.

Clarity the freedom of sensing what is and letting go of what is not.  What is the benefit of yoga and how do we deepen that?  To find clarity is multilayered: awareness, deepening senses, being true to yourself.

For me this is where there is the greatest opportunity for impeccable truth.  Many times are daily lives get in the way fussing and fidgeting over mindless details.  Habits that we have developed then we bring  to yoga obfuscate our yoga.  Yoga teaches me to be who I really “truly” am.

Truth to Others

How do we project ourselves to the family, friends, coworkers, employers, outside of selves in general?   Sports a product of our culture teaches many times wining is everything.  This seems to me the contradiction of the conditions we live in.  Truth has a relative component to where you live, work, how you do your business.  Being impeccably truthful at all times is probably not practical.  How do we manage that?

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What is Yoga Intention?

Many times at the start of class as we are tuning in I ask yogis to set an “intention” which leads me to think  “What is yoga intention?   The four layers of tuning that we use in class frequently correspond to the koshas.

  • annamaya kosha—the physical body
  • pranamaya kosha—the breath or life-force body
  • manomaya kosha—the mental body
  • vijanamaya kosha—the wisdom body
  • anandamaya kosha—the bliss body

We generally use the first four koshas for tuning in, the anadamay kosha  perfect balance, nirvana something that takes a lot of yoga not probably going to happen while tuning in.  the vijianamaya kosha – wisdom body, mindfulness, thoughtfulness is generally where we set a yoga intention.  Yoga not huff puff non thinking exercises,  but a profound union of mind, body, and spirit.   Setting an intention deepens the yoga practice.

Yoga Intention

An intention can be a simple word you dedicate your practice to that represents a value you’d like to bring into your life. For example, love, trust, vulnerability, freedom from fear, openness, love, compassion, truth or tenderness. Powerful intentions directly address feelings you’d like to modify. Feeling weak? Set strength as your intention. Doubtful? Go with belief.

During your practice, perhaps during your most challenging pose (Wheel or Handstand, anyone?) call forth that intention, whether it be strength or belief in your abilities, and allow it to power you through the posture. In the same fashion, when you are having difficult moments in life, once your intention is set you’ll be able to call it forth when you need it, to guide your decisions and actions and base them on your values. Intentions give you a way to stay grounded and to connect with your true self, no matter what storms start brewing.

Intention vs Goal

According to Buddhist teaching, intentions are not oriented to future outcomes. Instead, an intention is more of a continual aspiration, or a path, based on an understanding of what really matters most to you. In a way, establishing your intention is making a commitment to those values most important to you.  Over time, your actions begin to align with your intentions,  bringing clarity, truthfulness to life.

Being Intentional

Another way to look at intention in the context of a yoga practice is to ask yourself why you go to yoga class. What were you hoping to achieve through class or where were you hoping to arrive? If you answer these questions honestly, you will find your intention.  When you begin to understand what you are seeking from your yoga practice, you can see how to direct energies and actions to get there. Your intentions will change over time as you evolve.  Take the time to tune in, listen to the body, breath the breath of life, focus the mind the body,  and  develop your intention(s).





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