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Yoga, health, wellness, and recipes from YogaDownload.com


AshleyJosephine
AshleyJosephine
AshleyJosephine's Blog

Align the Mind
Align the Mind
Alignment is a buzz word these days in the yoga world. Since more and more people are practicing yoga, and more people are speaking out about how yoga has injured them in the past, instructors and practitioners alike are concerned about safety. And that’s a good thing. But for all the talk about alignment as it refers to the body, what about the alignment of our thoughts, decisions, and actions?

Get Clear on Meditation
Get Clear on Meditation
One of the reasons why the Yoga Sutras are somewhat hard to understand for a first-time reader is because of the presentation and organization of the sutras themselves. Rather than presenting a chronological order of yoga with clear instructions, the very first chapter sets out to explain the unexplainable – the end goal of yoga, or samadhi. In fact, it takes an entire chapter and 51 sutras to really define and deconstruct what yoga is. Keep in mind, asana isn’t mentioned once!

Breaking down Transformation
Breaking down Transformation
Transformation is often touted in the yoga world as an aim for which we practice. In fact, the phrase “transformation starts here” is written on the door of one of the yoga studios where I teach. But what does that word really mean? What does the process of transformation look like? How do you teach it or guide that experience for someone else?

How To Improve Your Practice
How To Improve Your Practice
Are you wondering how to improve your yoga practice? It’s one of the most common questions I get from my students and clients. It’s also one of the hardest questions to answer because there is no one answer. Improving your yoga practice is not about learning how to do the postures the “right way” or learning how to hold a handstand and master arm balances. Improving your yoga practice starts with shifting your perspective, keeping an open mind, and committing to stepping on your mat, literally or figuratively, as often as possible.

Release Expectations
Release Expectations
For a long time it was a running joke in my family that no matter your ailment yoga could help with that. Over time everyone understood so it was no longer necessary to say it out loud. Unfortunately yoga doesn’t help with everything. In fact, practicing asana doesn’t in and of itself make anything go away. And, the point isn’t to make things go away. The point is to be with whatever is.

Take Care of Yourself
Take Care of Yourself
Some people have told me not to talk about it. That it’s my place as a yoga instructor to spread peace and harmony. That my message must be about love and fairies. That I must ignore reality. That’s not yoga at all. That’s a continuation of the mess that got us here in the first place. Yeah, I get it. We’re all sick of it. There’s a lot of anger and resentment and fear. Encouraging people to escape to yoga is a disservice to students.

Why You Don't Need a Guru
Why You Don't Need a Guru
For many years, the practice of yoga was learned by dedicated students taught by their guru. Students learned yoga from one teacher or lineage and then either taught those same teachings or continued to study and live life. Today, when we read texts about how to learn yoga, you will always find a statement about the importance of finding a teacher. Presented as fact, this statement leads aspiring yoga practitioners to believe they indeed need to find their “guru.” An ideal of the guru is romanticized and categorized in the minds of many as an “if-then” statement — if I find a guru, then I will become enlightened. The problem with this dichotomy is that the student becomes disempowered by the notion that she can never find success on her own. Students are unable to progress in the true practice of yoga when this idea of the guru guiding practice becomes all-encompassing.

7 Affirmations For Success
7 Affirmations For Success
Affirmations are phrases you repeat to yourself over and over again. Repeating these words reminds you of their meaning and the importance of the words. You can use these positive phrases to stay motivated and inspired. Affirmations can be repeated silently inside your head, said out loud, or written down and hung somewhere visible.

Yoga As a Way of Life
Yoga As a Way of Life
Here’s why I chose yoga as a way of life. I want you to know my story, not because it has any particular significance to your own trajectory on this path called yoga, but because I want you to know that you’re not alone in feeling like you’re not really sure why you’re practicing yoga. I’ve already shared a lot of my story on this blog, in my about section, and sometimes in my classes, but what I’m about to share with you here is a little more personal. My own personal reasons for why I continue to choose yoga as a way of life.

Yoga Breathing: The Three Part Breath
Yoga Breathing: The Three Part Breath
Yama Niyama Asana Pranayama Pratyahara Dharana Dhyana Samadhi. In English (my translation): Be a good person, take care of your Self, be aware of your posture, control your energy, withdraw from your external senses, concentrate, meditate, allow total integration. These are the steps on the path, outlined in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, to enlightenment. I have talked about the Yamas and Niyamas a little bit, the whole world is obsessed with posture, albeit not always healthy posture, meditation is gaining popularity, and the other steps are pretty much forgotten. There are many reasons for this. It’s hard to teach the Yamas and Niyamas unless you’re ready for a self-help course with a philosophy book as a reading requirement. Sense withdrawal is the nicer way of saying sensory deprivation and that is being sold the same way tanning is sold these days. Concentration sounds boring, even though we all know it’s necessary and we could probably use it more then ever what with all the distractions of the internet. Total integration is admittedly optimistic, unrealistic, and metaphysical sounding all at the same time, so I get why people stay away.

Fall Equinox Seasonal Check In
Fall Equinox Seasonal Check In
Roughly every three months, the season changes. In some places in the world seasonal changes are quite evident. It others, it feels the same for most of the year. I’ve always been a fan of seasons because I like variety. With each new season brings a change in perspective, whether we consciously think about it or not. New fresh fruits and vegetables, new available activities, new temperatures, new clothing to meet those temperatures and associated forms of precipitation, new colors.

Step Forward
Step Forward
When I was little, my sister and I came up with this game that we would play whenever we would go to the ocean (once a year). We would be so excited to get our feet in the sand and our toes wet that we couldn’t wait to put on a bathing suit. Fresh from a 12-hour car ride, we’d run down to the beach, still in our clothes, roll up our shorts even shorter and feel the waves crashing on our feet. Then, we would challenge each other by declaring in delight “Step farther!” and each of us would have to take a giant step forward into the ocean. Whoever chickened out first because they were afraid to get waved on lost. We would giggle and scream and then start all over again to see how far we could get into the ocean without getting scared.

The Foundation of Yoga Sutras
The Foundation of Yoga Sutras
I recently graduated from my 500-hour advanced teacher training. The experience was an intense and deep study not just of yoga but also of myself and my relationship with yoga. As I’ve shared with some of you in my classes, it seems that we are always just beginning our journey – the moment we identify an end-goal is the moment we stray from the very path that will help us achieve it. Some of you have encouraged me to share some of what I wrote in my lengthy 7,600+ word final exam essays. As I went back and reviewed what I wrote, I found the perfect piece to share with you today. There are so many times I reference the Yoga Sutras in my blog posts, but I’ve never really talked through them in a full dedicated post, so now is the time!

Summer Solstice Yoga Practice
Summer Solstice Yoga Practice
Summer solstice was on Monday, complete with a beautiful strawberry full moon (something I was informed of after the fact and apparently this strawberry stuff only happens once every 70 years!). Solstices and equinoxes are important to me because they signify a change in season. Just as Mother Nature changes throughout the seasons, so do human beings. Now is a good time to contemplate how your routines, practices, and needs are changing as we officially enter summer.

Aging with the Seasons of Life
Aging with the Seasons of Life
About a year ago I shared an article about the Ayurvedic perspective on circadian rhythm. In it, I shared how different times in the day have different qualities associated with them, thus making certain times more appropriate for specific activities.

Yoga You Can Do It Bed
Yoga You Can Do It Bed
Today, I’m offering up another video for you post-travel. If you forget to stretch during the trip itself, at least take some time to decompress afterward with some yoga you can do in bed.

Yogic Tools for Transitions
Yogic Tools for Transitions
A few weeks ago I was at a networking event for executive women when I heard a phrase that I haven’t heard for a while (it wasn’t a yoga term…!).

Yoga You Can Do at Work
Yoga You Can Do at Work
Last week I got the amazing opportunity to help assist a workshop at a corporate event, where my fellow teacher and I were tasked with teaching people yoga you can do at work.

The Difference Between & Crow and Crane
The Difference Between & Crow and Crane
A few weeks ago, I learned that I had been doing a yoga pose wrong for the entirety of my time practicing yoga. It took about 7 years for anyone to tell me otherwise, so I want to share the knowledge with you here today so that you can be an informed yoga practitioner.

To Strengthen, Stretch or Rest
To Strengthen, Stretch or Rest
Sometime within the last year, a friend of mind asked about a nagging ankle injury. He had just recently gotten into yoga but wasn’t sure if yoga was helping or hurting his ankle recovery. Specifically, he wanted to know how you know when you need to strengthen, stretch, or rest.

A Yin Yoga Experience
A Yin Yoga Experience
Ever wondered what the difference is between a yin class and a restorative class? Or maybe you even wonder what this yin yoga is in the first place! Yin yoga is a relatively new “form” of yoga that has become popular in the past decade or so. While the practice itself has always existed, the practice as it’s offered today in studios across the world has evolved. Today I’d like to offer you my perspective on the yin practice and give you a little experience.

The Simplicity of the Sutras
The Simplicity of the Sutras
As the world becomes more complex, the universe is sending subtle signals to simplify. It seems a lot of the world is starting to question the complexity we’ve built into our ways of doing things.

Spring Equinox Yoga Practice
Spring Equinox Yoga Practice
It’s that time of year again! Another season, another equinox. Another opportunity to reflect, set intentions, and commit to right action.

How Yoga Has Helped Me with Uncertainty
How Yoga Has Helped Me with Uncertainty
I thought I was getting okay at being uncomfortable. The universe decided otherwise. As I sit here writing this post, listening to the music of the chimes produced by a gentle breeze, serenaded by chirping birds and the rustle of squirrels playing in the bamboo, I look upon the back of my house.

How to Manage Your Energy
How to Manage Your Energy
In the past 2 months I have: Taught 63 yoga classes Taught 31 private yoga sessions Led 6 workshops Traveled to Ohio 3 times, twice unexpectedly and at the last minute Spent 35+ hours learning in yoga training Attended a funeral of a family member Decided to give away our puppy Learned that the foundation of our house needs to be replaced…now Learned that the people who renovated our house quite possibly took down a load-bearing wall, leading to the imminent collapse of our kitchen ceiling Cried Laughed Gave myself secret pep rallies in my mind to show up when I didn’t want to or felt like I couldn’t Surrendered to the universe Reminded myself I am human Practiced yoga Slept Meditated Indulged in a Nora Roberts book, a guilty pleasure Enjoyed Ben & Jerry’s ice cream because I needed to soothe my soul (see Amanda, we’re not so different) And much more If you’re tired just from reading all that, you’ll understand that I’m tired too.

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