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21 Days of Meditation and the Podcast launch!

Hey Everyone!

I’ve got two big announcements to make!

The podcast that I host, the Sivana Podcast, is finally launching tomorrow!  I will have details up once we launch, but for now you can check out our Soundcloud page (https://soundcloud.com/sivanapodcast) which does have Episode 0 up!

Also, my new online course, Transform Your Life with 21 Days of Meditation, will be launching soon. Guided meditations, breathing practices, video and audio tracks, plans for the busy yogi in the world finding their time to meditate between work and responsibilities, as well as those who are ready to dive in and commit to a complete immersion for 21 days!

If you want to be the first to know about the official launch date and get a special discount code for the course, I recommend signing up for my newsletter! Sign up here: 

Join our community and sign up for our newsletter below!




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The Importance of Ritual

The Importance of Ritual

By Ashton Szabo

Ritual

I often marvel at how little conscious ritual we have here in our western Americanized lives. I grew up in Los Angeles, attended Catholic grade school and have been taking martial arts since I was five. Naturally, I rebelled against it all. I felt like the rituals of the church will hollow and the various forms of martial arts pointless. I grew up with Bruce Lee as one of my idols, and he was all about doing away with forms and tradition. When I left the United States to go live abroad, I was reading tons of Osho, who is all about breaking down any ideas of society, organized religion, etc. It wasn’t until I spent more than six years living in countries like Thailand, India and Peru that I began to have a whole new respect for ritual and the place it held in my life. After years of teaching yoga and shamanism, I feel ritual can truly enriched all of our lives.

 

Now let me clarify, I still feel the same way about empty, hollow ritual. It’s useless. It’s a waste of time. That’s why I caution everyone to be very careful about picking up other people’s or culture’s rituals without truly understanding them. Because if you don’t understand them, then the ritual is all on the surface, there is no substance. It’s in understanding the meaning behind the ritual where the ritual actually gains its power and relevance. Without it, you are wasting your time.

 

There is something truly empowering that comes with this realization though. Meaning is what reveals the power of ritual. If you understand WHY you do something, you open up its gifts. Think of it this way: let’s say I travelled all around the world with a handkerchief.  It’s been to the Himalayas and the Andes, the Ganges and the Amazon. When I hold that handkerchief, I am flooded with the memories of all of those adventures. After all of those adventures… the handkerchief has also taking a beating. It’s worn, has holes in it and it’s kinda nasty… To anyone else, it’s an old gross handkerchief that they would probably throw away if they came across… But to me… it holds the magic of my adventures. To someone who doesn’t understand the story, the meaning behind the handkerchief, it’s just another handkerchief. Because I understand the story, because I know the energy that lies behind the handkerchief, it holds the power to completely immerse me in memories of those times and bring me back to those places.

 

We all have things like this. Things that mean something to us and no one else. Why do they mean something to us? Because we understand what lies beneath the surface. This is the same as ritual. If you understand what lies beneath the external appearance of the ritual, then you are tapped into its power. If not, then it’s empty, hollow and probably a waste of your time.

Ritual Peace

So how does this all relate to us in our lives? Well, first off. We all already have rituals. We might not put any actual meaning behind them, so they are empty, but we have them. Most of us wake up and follow a certain ritual: go to the bathroom, brush your teeth, shower, eat breakfast, etc. The question is, do you put meaning behind these acts? Is brushing your teeth just brushing your teeth, or is it an opportunity to appreciate everything that moves through your mouth. The food you consume, the air your breathe, the words that come out of your mouth. When you shower, are you busy thinking about everything you have to do that day, with very little thought into the process of washing your body; or is the act of washing a celebration and exploration? Do you massage your muscles when you lather with soap? Do you spend equal time with all parts of your body or do you rush the parts that require more effort to get to (bending down to was your ankles and feet, get behind your ears, or find ways to wash your back)? Do you inhale your food the moment it is put in front of you or do you take the time to acknowledge all the energy that went into growing and preparing the food? All of these acts can take on a different quality if you fill them with substance.

 

It’s important to note that your body is already sacred. It doesn’t require you creating a ritual to make it sacred. The same goes with everything in life. It’s all already sacred. Creating ritual doesn’t make something sacred. What it does is reveals to you how sacred it already is. Bringing this level of purpose and meaning into every act of your day, encourages the sacred to be revealed in everything you do. Every step, every breath, every motion takes on new life.

 

This level of attentiveness takes practice for most of us. Our minds are scattered and have the tendency to wander. So to move one way as opposed to another, as a conscious act, for you to be present enough, move slowly enough to wash every inch of your body as if it was the body of your lover, takes practice!  This is where practices like yoga are so amazing. Whether you know it or not, you are starting to create rituals. If you go to one teacher often who has a particular style of teaching, you’re likely to begin to adapt some of their rituals. Given the skill of the teacher and their ability to convey meaning in a moment, you will catch on to the depths of their particular rituals in class. Every teacher starts off class a little different, transitions through it differently, and ends differently. Regardless of the teacher, you may already have your own rituals for your practice. I know a lot of students who always come to their same spot in the studio. The lay down their mat, do their “pre-practice” routine before class, and end a routine way as well. Some of it may be blatantly habitual and empty, some of it may be filled with meaning and purpose… But the opportunity is there regardless.

brushing_teeth_dental

So ok… everything in life can be ritual. So then what? That’s easy to say, but hard to bring in to every moment. So what do we do? Start small. Start to create rituals of your own and stick with them. There is nothing wrong with adapting other people’s rituals as well, but be sure you are understanding their meanings. When I meditate, I like the light the same incense (Nag Champa), play the same background music (Shankara), I turn off my computer, my cell phone and sit in front of my altar. I perform certain breathing exercises to help calm my mind, and sometimes I might even employ one of my malas and a mantra. All of these things help attune my mind to recognize that it’s time for meditation. The incense is incense that has inspired me from the very first time I smelt it. The music comes from a CD I got my first time in Rishikesh, India from a nice Indian man near the Laxsman Jula Bridge. I’ve spent countless hours in meditation with this music playing in the background. Both the incense and the music hold years of moments and meaning behind them. It all takes on a Pavlovian effect. My mind is being conditioned through these acts to recognize what it is time for: meditation. If every time I sat down I did something different (played different music, light different incense, etc), I’d have a harder time dropping into the act of meditation. But by creating a ritual around it, I am further empowered to consciously direct my life. I’m consciously tapping into the subconscious for power.

 

When I create a ritual around bathing, it is no longer a habitual act that leads to just another thing in my day that takes up my time and tires me. Instead, it becomes part of the celebration of my day. It invigorates me to leap into the rest of my day renewed and recharged.

 

When I give thanks before a meal and acknowledge the energy it took to come to me, my food takes on a different quality. I notice it anytime I don’t stop to give thanks and Hoover my food down. It usually results in a rapidly empty plate and an upset tummy. But the times I slow down and give thanks, I savor the food more, appreciate it more, enjoy it more.

 

Ultimately, that’s the gift of ritual. It allows you to slow down, to appreciate things more, to enjoy them more. In a world that keeps speeding up, keeps us distracted and our minds everywhere but here, ritual can be the perfect solution to living a more present, engaged and fulfilled life.

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Four Steps To More Skillful Sequencing

Ashton Class-8070

Before I begin, I want to include a brief preface to state that there are plenty of ways to sequence a class. Some people plan out a very detailed sequence based on a Queen/King pose, others plan out a class to touch as much of the body as possible in different ways, some teachers don’t plan at all and just “wing it” once they see which students arrived that day, and there is a whole world in between those options as well. I don’t necessarily consider any of them wrong or right, but there are definitely skillful ways to sequence a class and unskillful ways to sequence a class. I know plenty of teachers that “wing it” in class, and still teach a great class with no planning what so ever. I’ve also seen teachers stick too rigidly to what seemed like a perfect plan, and end up offering a terrible class because they didn’t adapt things to the particular students that showed up for class that day.

How to sequence a postural yoga class is a rabbit hole that can go very deep. We’ll be going further into the various ways to sequence a class in my upcoming webinar later this year! (Be sure to sign up for my Newsletter to get the latest info on upcoming workshops, webinars, and online trainings)

All that being said, I think the Four Steps below can offer some help no matter how one chooses to plan and teach a class. Whether the make-up of the class is planned before or done on the fly, these simple steps can help anyone weave a more skillful sequence. It is by no means an exhaustive list of steps, but these four steps can likely be weaved into any method with which you create your classes.

Think Shapes, Instead of Poses

Whenever I am teaching sequencing to a group of students in a yoga teacher training, an area where people get stuck often is being able to call up postures and their names. They try to think about what postures they know of and how to create sequences from that. But if you were to set aside the names of any pose, or even a deep knowledge of postures, what we are all very capable of is recognizing shapes. What sorts of shapes does the human form take?

Let’s say you are wanting to sequence a back bending class. Well, a back bend is a very particular shape. How else can you mirror that shape in other ways? How can I mirror a back bending shape with both legs involved? With one leg involved? What postures create that shape while working against gravity? While working with gravity?

Once we start to see the postures as human shapes, then we don’t have to worry about what postures we know or what their names are, we can start to create sequences based on those basic human shapes by altering and tweaking the shapes slightly. This may or may not lead to a posture with a fancy sanskrit name, but what it will do is set you students up for anatomical success.

Now that you have a bunch of similar shapes in mind, what next? Well, that leads us to the next point.

Build things from Simple to Complex

Now that you have your shapes in mind, it’s helpful to start to deconstruct what shapes/postures are more physically challenging, what shapes/postures have greater demands on strength and/or range of motion. For example: a low lounge with a knee down is a less complex and challenging shape then a high lounge with the back knee off the floor. Bow pose (dhanurasana) is a more accessible shape to find for most then, let’s say, wheel pose (chakrasana), and generally will have less demands on a body to get into the shape.

Part of the process of skillful sequencing is learning how to weave the various shapes within the postures together in such a way that your sequencing warms up the body and prepares it for more complex and challenging shapes as you go along. You are literally training the body in new skill sets in a very progressive and intelligent way.

See the two sets of images below for examples of a shape moving from a more simple and less demanding shape  to greater complexity and higher demands on the body.

side 1back 1
side2back 2
side 3back 3

Bring in the support!

As shapes progress into greater complexity, you’ll want additional support for that complexity. Taking the above images as an example, by the time we get to the final shape on the right column (dancers pose, aka natarajasana), not only do we want the back to be more prepared and warmed up, but we’ll also want to make sure that the hamstrings are open (for the standing leg) and the hips and core warm so they can help stabilize the body in the pose. While a stable hip and plenty of range in the hamstrings might not be the focus of your sequence, some attention will be needed for both if your sequence is taking on shapes that require that in particular poses. A back bend class isn’t going to be all back bends, you’ll need supporting postures to help build the skill set of the variations of the shape.

Weave in Counter Poses

Which leads us, as well, to the counter pose! Sticking with the back bending class, you won’t want a class emphasizing back bends to ONLY have back bends and the supportive postures. You’ll also want some counter postures. In the case of our back bending class, we’d want to include some forward folding postures. You can also mirror opposite shapes here. So if you are doing a lot of back bends with a single leg involved, then you can do lots of single leg folding postures as your counter. If both legs/hips are involved in your extension (eg: dhanurasana, bow pose), then perhaps mirror it with a posture that has both hips in flexion (eg:paschimottanasana, seated forward fold).

In summary, remember that there are plenty of ways to skillfully sequence a yoga class. I encourage you to put as much time and thought into your process as possible, so you can develop and grow as a teacher, no matter what type of class you choose to offer.

 

Namaste!

 

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5 Tips for Teaching a Better Yoga Class

Ashton Class-7901

Not only are there many facets that make up a great yoga class, there are also lots of different opinions on what actually constitutes a great yoga class. Different strokes for different folks, as they say. But regardless of your teaching style, your students, or the type of class your are offering, here are five simple tips for teaching a better yoga class that can apply to absolutely anyone.

1) Build the Container

  • Plan a Beginning – Middle – End, and I don’t just mean in your sequence. You are holding space for your students during the time of their practice. That space needs a container. How do you plan on starting the practice? Do you have a theme? A story? Are you going to start class with a breathing exercise or meditation to help center/ground your students? What’s the middle point of the practice? What’s the energetic peak (more on this later)? How are you going to end the practice? Do you just get your students out of savasana and say goodbye (We’ll talk about a Call to Action further down this post)? How do you tie your ending to the beginning and middle? How does your voice support the framework of your class? These are all important questions to know the answers to when holding space for your students.

2) Make it about your students

  • It’s never about you. It’s about your students. So once you step into the seat of teacher, set your ego aside and serve your student’s needs. If you are sharing a personal story, make sure that you relate it back to your students because: it’s not about you, it’s about them. If you have a certain way of doing things, but it doesn’t work for a particular student, them let them do things their way because: it’s not about you, it’s about them. I don’t mean be an overachieving people pleaser. If you try to please everyone you’re likely to just piss everyone off. Be your authentic self, but your responsibility is to your students, not to uphold your ego or image. So leave your ego at the door. Can you make every single thing you do in that class room be a gift of service to your students?

3) Know your peaks and valleys

  • Whether your are teaching to a Queen/King pose or offering a potpourri class (touching on a bit of everything), it’s important to also know where your energetic peaks and valleys are. A lot of teachers use the term “peak pose” to signify what I might call the Queen pose, but I use the terms to mean different things. To sequence to a Queen/King pose means that all postures in the class serve that one pose in one way or another (as opposed to sequencing a potpourri class where students get a little bit of everything). But your Queen might not be your peak energetic experience of a class, it could be a floor posture towards the end of class, for example. Knowing your peaks and valleys allows you to know in a general sense where your student’s energy levels will be guided throughout the class and it will also help you to understand how to play with the pitch of your voice throughout the class. You’ll likely want a stronger, more energetic voice during your peak, but a calmer, more grounded voice during your valleys, like your intro and closing. How you navigate your peaks and valleys is a large part of building a container of space for your students during the practice.

4) Know your Soundtrack

  • Do you plan on having music or not? Some people love music during their practice, others: not so much.
  • If you plan on playing music in class, then it’s important to know where your energetic peaks and valleys are. When creating a playlist it’s important to understand the container you are creating for class, the pacing of your class, and the overall mood. You don’t want super fast paced energetic music for a mellow Yin class, nor do you want sleepy meditation music playing if you are doing a fast paced power class, or while you are doing something like core work in the practice. You want music that suits the energetic vibe on the practice.
  • Let’s say that you don’t plan on using music at all. Wonderful, AND, there will still be a soundtrack. What’s the soundtrack? The students breath and your voice. So it’s still important to know the various peaks and valleys of your sequence and class, and it’s also important to make sure your students are breathing.
    • Something I will often do in a class where students aren’t breathing very much and seem to be low in energy is to get them laughing or making silly sounds. Whatever pose I have them in (usually tadasana or downward dog, but it can be any pose), I have them close their eyes, inhale and exhale with a silly noise. Having them close their eyes makes them feel less self conscious and making a silly noise diffusing some of the social tension of people feeling weird about taking strong audible breaths. Sometimes it may take 2 or 3 attempts at this before the room really breaks the ice, but MAN-O-MAN do they start breathing after!

5) Call to Action

  • This is, in my opinion, one of the most important things we can do as teachers: offer a call to action. Students having time out of their day to come to a yoga class is huge, but given the hectic pace of life, students often jump right back into their day without any consideration of the practice. So remind them and give them something to do! How can they bring the practice into their lives? Bring your theme into it. How can they continue the message of the theme of your class throughout your student’s day? As you close the container of your practice with them, open up a new container for them that extends into their day and life!

So what do you think? What are some other universal tips that teachers can use no matter what type of class they teach or style of yoga they offer? I’d love to hear in the comments below!

 

 

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Why your mind is like the Moon – the Story of Chandra

The Moon

 

AUM tryambakam yajamahe

sugandhim pusti vardhanam

urvarukam iva bandhanum

Mrtyor mukshiya ma amrtat

 

“We bow to the three eyed one,

Who is fragrant, Who nourishes and gives life fullness

May we be released from all bondage and suffering just as the stalk gently releases the cucumber.

May our minds be overtaken by this supreme light, which is the immortal nectar of Shiva.”

 

Once upon a time, high in the night sky, the Moon, Chandra, lived along with his 27 wives. These wives were sisters, you see, and each sister lived among the stars around him. Before they were married, Chandra had promised the father of all these sisters, King Daksha, that he would share his love and light upon his daughters equally. But it didn’t take Chandra long to begin to develop a particular infatuation with one of his wives, Rohini, who was the brightest star. He started to spend more and more time with Rohini, neglecting his other wives. Eventually, the wives got jealous and told King Daksha what was happening.

Furious that Chandra had broken his promise, Daksha cursed Chandra, and proclaimed that he would slowly die and fade away…

One of Daksha’s other daughters, Sati, gave this healing mantra to Chandra to gain the favor of Shiva. He sang it so beautifully that Shiva offered his blessings on Chandra. He placed Chandra in his hair, so that Chandra could drink of Shiva’s immortal nectar. But every time after Chandra would drink, he would slowly fade again, and need to have another drink. And like this he remains, bound for eternity. Waxing and Waning. Being full of light, then fading away to darkness.

Chandra

Chandra represents the mind, with its tendency to wax and wane. To be full of interest in something one moment, then that interest slowly fades. The mind, like the moon, does this, in part, because it is reflected light. It is not self luminous, therefore it is susceptible to continuous fluctuation and change. When we seek our light from the outside, we are bound to chase after bright stars (Rohini) hoping they will fill us with light. We seek light on the outside because we have yet to realize our own self illuminating nature.

Do you ever notice that when you really like something, you are full of passion for it and full of life, but if you don’t seem to like something that your passion and energy fade? This is the moon, this is Chandra. He has light for Rohini, but not as much light for everything else in life.

When you seek your light from the outside, you will be dull unless you are doing something your mind/ego deems favorable. By drinking the nectar of Shiva, who represents self luminous consciousness, the sun, one realizes that we can be full of light, full of life, in all situations (not just the ones that are favorable to the mind). We find equanimity. Our light shines equally upon all situations and all of life.

If you keep seeking your light on the outside, if you keep chasing Rohinis, you will be bound, like Chandra, to the eternal state of the waxing and waning of your mind. If you identify if you mind and thoughts, you will be bound to this cycle. Instead, turn inward. Find your inner light, your inner sun. Realize your self luminous nature and shine your light on everything, and you will break the curse of King Daksha.

 

New Yoga in America Study

Ashton Class-8195

The new Yoga in America Study has been released, giving us the most thorough statistics on yoga in America since the last study came out in 2012, and it’s all pretty exciting news if you are in any way involved in yoga! There are a lot of interesting details in there about yoga students, yoga teachers, and yoga studios. If you are a  yoga teacher or yoga studio owner, it’s definitely worth looking through the 87 page document.

 

Here are some of the things I found most interesting:

  • The total number of people practicing yoga has continued to grew at an amazing rate. Approximately 37 million people practice yoga in the United States, up from 20 million in 2012.
  • The number of men practicing yoga has also exploded! The number has more than doubled in these last few years. That’s awesome! Men are finally starting to get the clue that yoga is for everyone. And women have typically hovered around 80-90% of the people doing yoga, with these new statistics, they are down below 80% for the first time that I have ever seen (78% but that’s a big shift!).
    • 2012: 4 million men practicing yoga in the United States
    • 2016: 10 million men practicing yoga in the United States
  • The top three qualities that people believe make up a great yoga instructor
    • Is warm and friendly
    • Easily understood/clear with instructions
    • Is knowledgeable about the poses (asana)
    • And rounding off the top 10: Participates in ongoing learning, is challenging, and focuses on the spiritual aspects of yoga
    • This validates why I spend so much time on these things in teacher trainings.
      • Connect with your students! Talk with them before and after class. Get a sense of their goals, any injuries they have, and who they are as people.
      • Clear, direct language is IMPORTANT! People need to be able to understand what to do, even if they can’t see you (heck, they should be able to do it with their eyes closed).
      • Anatomy and kinesiology! They are sooo important! You need to know how the body works and moves, so you can understand the postures! It’s not enough to simply memorize postures You have to know how each body can work around, into and out of those basic shapes.
  • As a father, it was great to see the statistic that 37% of households have a child under the age of 18 that has taken a yoga class or considers themselves a yoga practitioner.
  • The majority of people are going to yoga 2-4 times a week, which means people are heading into yoga classes more often then ever before!

 

You can check out and download the full study in PDF form HERE.

 

You can also check out the info-graphic below for some highlights!

 

And feel free to share this blog post with anyone who you think might find it interesting!

Yoga Infographic

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Turning things upside down… a different take on Headstand

It’s definitely winter for Southern California right now! The past few years have had us enjoying 70s and sunshine through December and January, but with El Nino visiting this year, we have gotten a lot more rain, and a lot more uncharacteristic cold. For me, that’s meant a lot less movement and time spent outdoors. My immune system has been feeling it, taking a big hit recently. I lost my voice last week, while still struggling with a bit of a sore throat, my energy levels have dropped, and I’ve developed some nice dark circles under my eyes. OYE!

 

One of the ways I’ve always given myself a good reboot is to add more headstands into my daily life. Only problem is: my neck doesn’t like headstand. Like a lot of people who spend or have spent a lot of time in front of a computer screen, I have what some might call “upper cross syndrome”, ie: flattening of the lower cervical spine and hyper extension of the upper cervical spine, where the head is moved forward, usually accompanied by some extra rounding of the upper back/thoracic spine.

Computer neck

What this means is that it is NOT a good idea for me to be weight bearing on my neck. So no headstand… And while I COULD technically work myself up to hold handstands for excessive periods of time to get a similar effect, I have a better way to get the wonderful effects of the big inversion!

 

Headstand on chairs

Headstand on two chairs!

 

There is no pressure on my neck. In fact, I get INCREDIBLE traction for my neck, taking a lot of pressure of any compressed nerves in my cervical spine. I get plenty of blood flow to my head and all in all a few minutes a day has me feeling super rejuvenated! You don’t need fancy equipment (I’ve seen devices made that cost upwards of $100+ that do something similar). I do have padded chairs that I often use (that cost $18 each), but as you can see, all I did here was grab two chairs from our kitchen and two cushions from our couch and vwalla! I’ve got some nice cushy support for my shoulders, my head is off the floor, no pressure on my neck, and I can hold this for as long as it seems appropriate. I have my back to the wall, just so I don’t have to worry as much about stability.

 

I sometimes give this pose (with the chairs) to students who have been experiencing neck pain as well. The traction on the neck, with the shoulders pinned by the chairs, is INCREDIBLE and can often lead to a greater range of motion for the neck as well as a reduction in nerve related pain coming from the cervical spine.

 

Despite their importance in traditional posture based yoga and the many raves about their benefits, from a scientific perspective, there isn’t a ton of evidence as to the specific effects of headstands and inversions. A small swedish study in 2013 found an increase in heart rate variability, which is a sign of a healthy heart, as well as a “subsequent restorative effect on the automatic nervous system”. Other studies have been done about inversions and disc health, but we are still lacking in studies on the effects of headstands and what they do for the body. We do have centuries of anecdotal evidence, however.

 

Some of the assumed benefits of headstands:

 

  1. Better circulation. With the heart working hard all day to pump blood flow up to your brain as well as back up from the feet, headstand is said to give the heart a rest and reduce unnecessary strain. So while the heart rate drops during a headstand, it’s helping the the heart rest so that it has plenty of pumping power for later.
  2. Blood and fluid that can get stuck down in the feet (edema), find an easier path back to the heart, which can help with varicose veins.
  3. It’s said to help flush fresh blood and nutrients into the face, helping with radiant, glowing skin!
  4. Flushes the adrenal glands, which could potentially help with stress.
  5. Provides more blood to the pituitary and hypothalamus glands.
  6. Stress relief! A few minutes up in a headstand and you are likely to notice the almost immediate different in your stress levels.
  7. Greater focus. With all the extra blood flow to the brain, headstands can be very helpful in increasing short term focus. If I am writing late at night and tired, I will often invert to help wake me up, clear my mind, and sharpen my focus!

 

Experiment:

 

As I integrate this modified headstand into my daily routine over the next couple of weeks, I’m going to test my heart rate with my FitBit Charge HR and see how much my heart rate drops during each session. I’ll post a follow up blog with the results!

 

I’d love to hear about some of your experiences with headstand or this modified headstand in the comments below!

 

You know you are a lifelong student when…

 

I’ve always considered myself a lifelong student. Although, ironically, I never did very well in school. I’d say I’ve averaged reading at least a book-a-week most of my adult life. One of my current obsessions that is competing with my reading time, however, is listening to Podcasts. With my new Podcast launching soon (the Sivana Podcast: Eastern Spirituality, Yoga and Conscious Living), I spend a lot of time listing to and researching podcasts. It’s one part enjoyment (to learn new things), and two parts research (seeing how other people are doing their podcasts AND doing research on potential guests).

 

Today’s research has me following links around the Internet about Neuroscience, Pregnancy and Mindfulness and some of the experts in those fields. It’s exciting. Learning is exciting! I wish I had that clock that Hermione had in the Harry Potter Novels that would allow me to move around time and space though, so I had more hours in the day to learn!

 

I think my life long obsession with learning is what helps me succeed most in life and what makes me a successful teacher. I never stop learning. I will never stop learning. It’s like Einstein says, “once you stop learning, you start dying.”

Einstein

I’m amazed, at times, how many people stop actively learning after they finish school (high school, college, whatever). It’s like learning somehow goes on pause, life just becomes a never ending spiral of seeking pleasure and avoiding or minimizing displeasure, and growth itself stops. Screw that. No thank you. Not for me.

 

I regularly hear people complain about their circumstances in life, but so many of them don’t put in the effort to change. They don’t even put in the effort to learn about how they might change. It’s crazy to me!

 

You want to do something in life? Find out if someone else has done it first and learn from them! Read a book they wrote, or someone wrote about them. Watch a video. Take an online course. Go learn from them in person if you can! Find the people that are doing the things you want, learn some tools on how to do it yourself then put it into action!

 

We live in such an exciting time where we have incredible access to information. You can literally learn 24 hours a day. Universities all over the world are offering free online courses. It’s amazing!

 

So much is possible in life when we are willing to learn, to grow, and to put ourselves out into the world. Let’s all keep learning!

 

On that note, I have some more research to do!

 

Life Long Learner

Creating new Yoga Videos

 

Hey Everyone!

 

This video was posted on my Facebook page a few weeks ago, but I am posting it here so I can continue to get feedback from all of you! I am currently working on all sorts of new yoga video content: free youtube videos, online yoga,  meditation and philosophy courses, and more! I’d love to hear from YOU about what you’d like to see the most. What sorts of things are you interested in?

So leave feedback in the comments section below, or email me at ashton@yogawithashton.com! I’d love to hear from you!

Thanks for your support and I can’t wait to be sharing more videos with you soon!

Open post

Perfectionism

 

perfectionist

“Perfectionism is the mother of procrastination.” – Michael Hyatt

 

I read this quote today and it really hit home for me. It hit home not only because of what I experience personally, but because of what I see in a lot of friends and students. I will fully admit it: I consider myself a perfectionist, or let’s say: a perfectionist in recovery. I strive for excellence in everything I do. I don’t like to “half ass” anything. That being said, I’m learning to work with doing the best that I can in the moment and then letting it go!

 

Let me explain. In my striving to be the best at anything I do, I would fall into the habit that if I didn’t achieve the lofty goals I set for myself, I wouldn’t finish whatever it was I was doing. Or worse yet, if I didn’t feel I could do something perfectly, I wouldn’t do it at all. If I did start something, but didn’t reach the pinnacle of perfection, it would get thrown into the pile of “I’ll finish this later.”  As life went on, that pile grew and grew; writing projects, BLOGS, courses I was planning, building projects I was working on, and so forth.

 

I’d start to write something, or create something, but without the proper time to finish it, edit it, re-edit it, and create some magical unicorn profound version of perfection, I’d set it aside to be completed at some future time. My perfectionism then BECAME the reason not to complete things. It became a form of procrastination! I couldn’t make it perfect NOW, so I’d put finish it off for another time. And you know what came with that? Anxiety! Anxiety from all of these uncompleted projects. Grumbling around inside my head were legions of uncompleted projects and ideas, trapped under the weight of my own perfectionism.

 

Does any of this sound familiar to you? Well, it’s been a pattern of mine for a long time, and it’s one I’ve been confronting a lot in recent months and years. One of the things that has helped me is the mantra “svaha“! It literally translates to “so be it” or “well said“. It is often said at the end of a longer mantra, and it is also typically said in the Vedic tradition whenever someone throws an offering into a sacrificial fire. Now, with the hopes that I don’t offend anyone, I kind of compare it to saying “fuck it.” It’s like… once you’ve thrown it into the fire, there’s nothing else you can do. You give it up to the flames, to the world, to the divine. Whatever it was, it’s out there now. There’s nothing left for you to change. You’ve given it to the flames… so what else is there to say other then fuck it? Svaha!

 

So I wonder, is being a perfectionist ruining the quality of your life? Is it preventing you from completing projects or putting your creations out into the world? Is it just another form of procrastination? I know it was ruining the quality of my life and stifling my offerings out into the world. It had become one of my primary forms of procrastination.

 

Sometimes, good enough today is better than perfect tomorrow. It’s ok if things aren’t perfect, because, if you’re a perfectionist anyway, perfect NEVER COMES, that idealized tomorrow never comes. There is always more to do. Always more ways you can add on, subtract, refine, make better… it’s a never ending vortex of mental misery. Sure, put your all into everything you do, give it your best, but at the end of the day, be ok with the results. There is always tomorrow. Always next time. That’s part of our process of growth as beings.

 

So do it! Put your offerings out into the world! Even if it’s not perfect today. Don’t let perfectionism be your procrastination!

 

As for me, I’ve got a lot of content that’s been piling up that is going to start to make it’s way out into the world.

 

SVAHA!

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