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Yang Yoga Playlist: Songs to Inspire You

Raise your hand if you have mentioned the cold winter weather in the last 48 hours.
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Inspiration: How to Find it When You Really Need it

Even yogis get the blues. Life isn’t always rainbows and puppy dogs. And sometimes, even the most self-aware, roll-with-the-punches, find-the-silver-lining type people go through periods when their well is dry. I remember vividly a point in my life where I would walk into my classes to teach feeling utterly empty wondering what on earth I was going to say to my students that day. It was surprising when someone would come over to thank me at the end of class, and even more so when people bestowed the ultimate compliment a teacher can receive- that something had touched and inspired them (Are you a yoga teacher too? Check this out) What I found fascinating was that my own experience of teaching was so different than the one my students were expressing. To me, it felt like I had done and said everything I was teaching a thousand times in a thousand ways but for certain students, something resonated. Interestingly, when I felt lost in the midst of a spiritual wasteland, something was happening in the dynamic of my classes that held me and my students together very closely. I can’t put my finger on it exactly, but it did lead me to examine the idea is inspiration. How do you find it?
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Four Sources of Confidence

How would your life change if you had more confidence? Would you be more relaxed, more effective, happier? What does it even mean to have confidence; and once you have it, how can you increase it? We've been discussing this topic in the Project One community and it's stirred up some important points I want to share. While there are many perspectives on the topic, this post focuses on four different sources of confidence, and the accompanying experiences of what confidence feels like. Confidence in Your Abilities At the most basic level, one must be confident with what one can do. As a musician, it took me over ten years of consistent practice and effort before I felt truly confident when performing. And even then, higher-profile situations or more challenging pieces of music would put my confidence to the test. I didn't always win, but at a certain point I stopped doubting whether I was "good enough" and just enjoyed the process of making music. Confidence in your abilities is largely a process of time spent honing your craft, combined with feedback from the world around you. If enough people, especially people you don't know, comment on how much they appreciate your ability to (fill in the blank), chances are you're actually good at that thing. It's funny just how often we are our own harshest critic, and how building confidence is simply a matter of putting more trust into those around you than into the negative voice within.
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Learning an Arm Balance? Use Your Legs

Last week, I told a story about how I proved to one of my friends that I could teach him Crow pose in less than three minutes. To help him, one of the important things we focused on was using his legs. When you think of an "arm balance" it is only natural that you would assume that the work comes from the arms. More often than not however, the reason it is so darn hard to get off the ground is that the legs aren't working appropriately. If you don't work the legs, they are just dead weight working against you. As promised, here is a short video for you to help get that lift-off in Crow pose (Hint: if you remember the Thighmaster from the late 80's/ early 90's, you're halfway there). Have fun and let me know how you do!
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How to Blow Your Mind (and Learn Crow) in 3 Minutes

Over the holidays I went to an event put on by the Loft Sessions in Boston. While hanging out and catching up with friends there, I found myself as part of a trio discussing yoga. One of my friends was telling me about his favourite class at South Boston Yoga but remarked at how difficult some of the arm balances can be. The person in question is a full foot taller than me and a strong guy so I was curious as to what pose in particular he found so challenging. He explained that he had been unable to do Crow pose but that most of the people in the class could—even the tiny women like me. I very emphatically told him that in fact he could do it and there was no reason why not. He countered with the argument that he had been working on it for a long time and it just wasn't happening. Finally and offhandedly I said "I can teach you that pose in 3 minutes and I promise you, you will be able to do it." At that, the third in our party kindly made me put my money where my mouth is and pulled us into a side room off the main party to give it a shot. In just three minutes I had explained, demonstrated and stood back to watch my friend take flight into crow pose for the very first time.
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Enlightenment, What If It's Already Happened?

Just because you may not feel perfect Doesn't mean you aren't. What if life's biggest secret is that: There is no problem That nothing is missing You're perfect just as you are. Could you handle it? Would you believe it? Could you bear the knowledge that Everything is perfect? What if your issues Weren't issues at all? You were already forgiven Would that change the way you see things? Would it take a load off your mind? Could you bear the happiness and freedom? I think it's worth the risk.  
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What Modern Art Taught Me About Yoga

Erin and I sipped our lattes after a tour through Boston's Institute of Contemporary Art. The exhibits, in all their bright colors, strange yet compelling images, and wry insight and humor, had had the always-thrilling effect of shifting our perspectives on culture and reality. As we sat in the ground-level cafe at the ICA, looking out over the frigid Boston Harbor, talking about art, life, and creativity, the ideas started to flow. The paths and purposes of yoga, spirituality, and self-development started to emerge and morph as we spoke, like colors in a kaleidescope. Here's what became clear above all else: you and I, we practitioners of yoga or other spiritual disciplines, are on the path because we're excited by what lies beyond the status quo.  We're moved by the experience of transcendence and greater meaning. We want to live in and create a world that expresses more consciousness and care.  This has very interesting implications.
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Blow Up Your New Year's Resolution. Do This Instead.

Happy New Year! Almost. I honestly couldn't tell you what my last New Year's resolution was, which means it probably didn't get very far. Still, this is the prefect time of year to reflect on how many incredible changes can happen in just one year. In my own life, my core relationships have shifted dramatically and surprisingly. My career goals have taken a sharp turn away from the track I thought I wanted to be on. The spiritual path I followed looks completely different and for the first time in years I find myself holding the reins of my own development, causing me to think about life and the world in new and unexpected ways. What's most interesting about all these changes is that there was no big decision-making moment for most of them.
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Meditation: Freedom vs. Indifference

While I am far from a meditation expert, in leading workshops for the past few years, I have had the opportunity to explore questions and insights that come up in people. Recently, a question was sent my way about meditation and indifference. In the form of meditation I practice there are just three simple instructions to follow (you can experience them for yourself in this audio). Mark: “My fear is that if I constantly have a meditation practice where I’m trying to be indifferent of the things that float by, it will transfer into my everyday life and I will be more and more indifferent to events in my life. I think that I feel emotions rather strongly and that it has made me the person I am today and if I practice being indifferent to it all, I will become indifferent to peoples pain and joys. I’m not sure how to deal with this fear and was hoping you could shed some light on a different perspective. I loved the meditation but I’m struggling not looking at things with heart.” First, of all the concerns to have in the world this is one that is especially important. To not want to be indifferent to the people and space around you is a good thing! It is also important to remember that what we are doing in meditation is taking a brief reprieve from the world. When you are engaged in daily life, of course you want to be connected and available to move through it with your eyes open. I would argue that in fact is the core reason to meditate. Meditation helps you to be more available for life.
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S#*T Bad Yogi’s Do

I have been teaching yoga for over 10 years and recently, it has been my privilege to work with new teachers as they learn how to guide classes. As instructors, we have an amazing job working with wonderful people. But every so often someone walks in the door (seemingly voluntarily) who doesn’t seem to want to be there at all. There is debate as to how to treat a disruptive, unresponsive or downright negative student in class.  Some teachers take the “my way or the highway” approach, while others either ignore the offender or resort to “do whatever you want to do” language. When this power struggle happens, it is important for the instructor to know where they stand so today, I want to share my thoughts about teaching with fellow instructors and offer a few tips on etiquette to all the students out there.  The Down Right Difficult Student For Teachers: New age-iness would tell us that when a difficult student comes into your class room, they have been sent to teach you to look within. Are you expecting too much of your students, too little? Are you teaching the level and style that is actually advertised in that time slot? These are valid things to investigate to be sure. However it would be fairly narcissistic to assume that everyone who wandered into a drop-in class with a bad attitude was there with something to teach you. Some people are just not that nice or socially appropriate…plain and simple. I have been teaching for enough time now, that when someone is out-and-out rude or disrespectful, I either ask them to leave my class or don't give them the time of day. Sadly, the people who have the more disruptive ego trips during class have usually been practicing yoga asana for at least a few years and therefore, think they know what yoga really is. Here is the thing, any real Yogi knows not to take their own garbage out on another human being (especially staff or teachers at a studio who have devoted their life and livelihood to sharing the practice with others).  Tips for Students: Remember, ninety percent of instructors are standing at the front of the room to guide you through a practice designed to make you feel better. You may not love every moment of every class or appreciate every style out there, but if you are able to be open (even just a little bit) there is probably some gem you can pick up.
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