Monthly Archives: November 2013

A Yoga-Centered Holiday

Mike Manning has been a healthy living and fitness aficionado for ten years , but he started practicing yoga two years ago at his wife’s urging.  He uses yoga as a tool to help approach life and relationships in a healthy, balanced manner.

While we all love the holiday season, this time of year also serves its fair share of stress. With all of the shopping, extra get-togethers, cooking, visiting, and coordinating, there is often little time to relax and enjoy. Even though these holiday festivities and responsibilities are enjoyable activities and are most often associated with positive thoughts and energy, the truth is our bodies cannot differentiate between positive and negative stress. So, whether you are feeling it or not, your body is likely welcoming an additional guest this season, and I don’t mean your favorite aunt.

Whether you are planning your family’s holiday meal or not, you deserve a holiday season that is happy and bright. So, how are you going to avoid the fatigue that is so often the season of merrymaking and enjoying? My best advice is to put yoga on your daily to do list and make it a part of your holiday tradition. Follow these simple steps, and enjoy a happy, yogic holiday.

1. Make time every day. While you may not have an hour to set aside every day, try to set aside 15 to 30 minutes to de-stress and center yourself through meditation. Scheduling this time into your day before it even begins is the best way to ensure that you will get to enjoy this time. Whether you need to complete your practice in the early morning or late evening, do not neglect this time. Spend this time breathing deeply, focusing, and centering yourself. Your practice is important. It is a part of you. I make sure to take some time every morning to meditate and center myself and have found it is a phenomenal start to my day.

2. Create a yoga sanctuary. During this time of year especially, our minds and bodies (let alone our houses) often become cluttered with the hustle and bustle. Make sure you take time to find your “sanctuary” within your home. Find a room in your home where you can separate yourself from noise and clutter. Dim the lights and light a few candles and relax into your practice. Consider writing in a journal reflecting on how you are feeling and listen to soothing playlists.

3. Let your practice overflow into your life. Nurturing yourself enables you to nurture those around you. So, be committed to your practice and let the peace you find there overspill into your holiday season. Showing your gratitude and thankfulness toward your family and friends is one of the most rewarding gifts of the holidays. Making gifts very personal to each person on your list is another great way to reflect on your relationships and to help others experience the peace and joy you have found in your practice. For our 1st anniversary my wife gave me a personalized piece of wall art that had a tree on it with out initials carved in it. She got this from a gift-giving site called RedEnvelope that has very customizable gifts for loving couples. This art still hangs in our yoga room and is a symbol of our bond and relationship. These types of gifts are the best to think about when trying to find something memorable for a loved one.

4. Maintain a healthy diet. While it is easy to overindulge during the holidays, overeating and being glutinous only adds more stress to your body. Be selective of what you indulge in (but do let yourself have a treat). Focus on the time spent together rather than just the food of the holidays.

While the holiday season is very much about giving to others, don’t forget to give back to yourself too. Listen to your body and maintain your practice throughout Thanksgiving and the rest of the holiday season, and see what a difference it makes in your holiday. Let your practice transcend your mat and enter your home and holiday.

Come visit Whole Life Yoga in Seattle, and check out Tracy Weber’s author page for information about the Downward Dog Mysteries series, available January 8, 2014.  MURDER STRIKES A POSE is available for preorder now from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Whole Life Yoga, and other retailers!

Research Proves It! Yoga Benefits Seniors

A recent study at UC San Diego showed once again the many benefits of yoga, this time for older adults. The study followed yoga students with a median age of sixty-nine.  Students took weekly one-hour yoga classes held at local community centers for three months. The classes included gentle yoga postures designed to be accessible to all functional levels. Students who completed the study experienced the following benefits.

  • Statistically significant decreases in pain
  • Decreased fatigue
  • Increased mobility
  • Statistically significant decreases in symptoms of depression.

The study was small, (thirty-one students) and more work is needed to verify these results according to rigorous Western research standards.  But the initial results are encouraging and prove what the ancient yogis knew all along.

Yoga works!

Yoga is always best studied with a teacher.  In older populations, I think working with a trained teacher is essential.  Yoga for seniors is widely available at aging facilities, senior centers and community centers.  Most classes at Whole Life Yoga are accessible to seniors.  We also offer special “Yoga over Fifty” classes twice each week.


Tracy Weber

Come visit Whole Life Yoga in Seattle, and check out my author page for information about the Downward Dog Mysteries series.  MURDER STRIKES A POSE is available for preorder now from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Whole Life Yoga, and other retailers!

Connecting With Your Inner Geode

Yoga isn’t about the body. Not really.

Sutras 1.2 – 1.4 discuss the true purpose if yoga.  Errors in interpretation and translation are strictly mine.

Sutra 1.2 provides the definition of yoga.

Yogas citta vritti nirodhah
Yoga is the process of learning to control the random fluctuations of the mind.

Sutra 1.3 tells what happens when we achieve that state.

Tada drastuh svarupe avasthanam
Once we have achieved that state, we are connected with our own true nature (we can see clearly).

Sutra 1.4 tells what we can expect if we don’t.

Vritti sarupyam itaratra
Otherwise, what we experience in life is a product of our own conditioning, not reality.

If that doesn’t make sense, try this Tracy translation on for size.

Yoga is the process of learning how to control our mind, so it doesn’t control us.  In doing so, we finally overcome our conditioning, and we see things, including ourselves, as they truly are.  Otherwise, we remain trapped in the muck of our own emotional quicksand.

Conditioning isn’t all bad. It keeps us safe. It provides the intelligence, the character, and the beauty through with we experience the world.  But it also clouds us, holds us back, and feeds into feelings of jealousy, prejudice, attachment and fear.

The sutras promise that no matter what happens to us—or in the world around us, for that matter—we each have a perfect, clear core somewhere deep inside.  A spirit of wisdom, kindness, compassion, truth.  The tools of yoga—asana, pranayama, meditation, chant and ritual—help us peel away, layer by grimy layer, all that obscures that beautiful being inside us.

The ancients symbolized the mind as a crystal.  I like to think of it more as a geode, each with its own emotional fingerprint.

The outer layers of our awareness are dark, clouded and dull.  Like the rings of a tree, our inner layers vary and have been formed by influences starting when we were young. Some layers are bigger—more impactful—than others.  Some layers are dark and stressful, others bright and happy.  But all of us, deep in our core, possess the same inner clarity.  All of us, deep in our core, know truth. All of us, deep in our core, are perfect.

Yoga helps you connect with your true self. It’s not easy. It’s often not fun. It usually has nothing to do with stretching your hamstrings. But those moments when you glimpse into that perfect, clear space?  They make it all worth it.

This simple meditation practice can help you get started.


Tracy Weber

Come visit Whole Life Yoga in Seattle, and check out my author page for information about the Downward Dog Mysteries series.  MURDER STRIKES A POSE is available for preorder now from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Whole Life Yoga, and other retailers!

A Meditation To Deal With Difficult People

We all have people who challenge us in some way, often those closest to us. The yoga teachings say that no matter how much we’d like to, we can never change  someone else.  All we can change is how we react to them.

Fortunately, that’s usually enough.  I learned the wonderful meditation below when I took yoga therapist training many years ago.  Give it a try. You might be surprised at the results!

Pratipaska Bhavanam Meditation: Replacing with the Opposites,

  1. Sit comfortably, with your spine erect and the crown of your head floating up to the ceiling.  Sitting either in a chair or on the floor is fine, as long as you are physically comfortable and your spine is in “neutral.” 
  2. Allow your eyes to close and your focus to go internal.
  3. Notice your breath—without intentionally trying to change it.  Feel the warmth and coolness of the breath at the tip of your nostrils.  Allow your mind to focus on and pay attention to this feeling of the breath.  This will be your anchor and where you will invite your attention whenever your mind wanders.
  4. Bring to mind an interaction that was stressful or contentious in some way in a relationship that’s important to you.  Something that challenged you and in which you reacted with anger, fear, stress or frustration.
  5. Try to really feel and “re-live” that interaction.
    • What did you feel in your muscles?
    • How did your breath change?
    • What sensations did you feel in your jaw and face?
    • Were you hot or cold?
    • What sensations did you feel internally in your throat, your stomach, your chest?
    • Were your hands, toes, or teeth clenched?
    • What facial expression do you imagine you wore?
    • What was your “inner dialogue” like?  Did you attribute intentions or motives to the person with whom you were interacting?
    • What message did your energy send to that other person?
  6. Now, imagine what it would have felt like—been like—had you instead reacted to the other person with the energy of love, light, and understanding.  
    • What do you feel in your muscles?
    • What is the rhythm of your breath?
    • What sensations do you feel in your jaw and face?
    • Are your hands, toes, and jaw relaxed?
    • What sensations do you feel internally in your throat, your stomach, your chest?
    • What facial expression do you imagine you are wearing?
    • What is your “inner dialogue” like?  Do you attribute intentions or motives to the person you are interacting with?
    • What message does your energy send to the person with whom you are interacting?
  7. If your attention wanders (and it will!) just notice it, and invite your attention back to the sensation of the breath at the tip of your nose.  Then return to your peaceful place and begin again.
  8. Continue this meditation for 10 minutes or longer if you’d like.


Tracy Weber

Come visit Whole Life Yoga in Seattle, and check out my author page for information about the Downward Dog Mysteries series.  MURDER STRIKES A POSE is available for preorder now from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Whole Life Yoga, and other retailers!