Hilary's Monthly Musing - January

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Some days it’s impossible to get to the studio, because, let’s face it, life happens.  So does weather.  That’s why we created Jaya Daily.  Now you can get your zen online, anywhere, anytime.  We wanted to make it possible for you to join your Jaya tribe whenever, and wherever, from any device in order to meditate, practice, or work on one of your favorite poses with a tutorial.  The new online platform allows you to stay consistent in the face of life’s little speed bumps.

Maybe you struggle to cultivate a home practice.  Jaya Daily can help.  Distractions happen.  Have pets, kids, to-do lists?  Your home practice doesn’t have to look just like your studio practice.  In fact, it should look different.  Maybe you get on your mat and pop in for a quick class while your laundry is in the dryer.  Maybe it’s 10 minutes of handstand or crow play.  It could even be your favorite restorative posture in front of your favorite tv show. 

 A little more than five years ago, the studio was booming and I was teaching. A lot.  What I wasn’t doing as much of was practicing.  Free time was devoted to new playlists, covering other teachers classes, etc.  Often we overlook ourselves to get those to-do lists done.  So, on a cold, December day I threw down my mat and haven’t looked back. 

Some days my body knew what it needed and guided me.  Other days I needed to be led and videos helped.  The best classes were those led by my teachers, speaking my language, and that’s what I want Jaya Daily to be for you - an extension of the incredible in-studio community and an opportunity for people to stay connected when they can’t make it to Jaya.

I get on my mat. Every. Single. Day. And each day my practice looks different.  One day it might be two shorter practices, with one in the morning and one in the evening.  Another day it could be Yin or Restorative; some days a vigorous vinyasa.  The point is perfection is a myth.  Throw on a video.  Listen to a five minute audio meditation while you fold laundry.  What it looks like is up to you.  Videos or no videos, make the time you do have the right time. 

Resolutions vs. Intentions

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The New Year is a time to start fresh and make changes. It’s a metaphoric clean slate.  But we get a clean slate every day, every hour, every minute.  It’s our mindset.  Do you have a fixed mindset or a growth mindset?  Want the secret to starting the year with a no lose mindset?  

Let’s start by kicking resolutions to the curb! Resolutions are an archaic unforgiving idea you need to toss out with last night’s trash. Resolutions are absolutes. They feel judgey and have a connotation of you not being good enough as you are. This is the opposite of yoga. They are outdated and unforgiving, much like an ex. Remember they are exes for a reason.  

The key to success lies in Sankalpa or intention.  It’s single pointed focus and resolve. Intentions aren’t absolute; you don’t fail with a misstep. And lets face it we are humans. We are imperfect creatures and there will always be missteps.  

Quickly swallowing a sandwich in the car on the way to a meeting or enjoying a 4-course meal at 6pm is still considered eating. It’s the intention that matters.

Are you trying to race through the meal or enjoy it? Savor it?  What is the motivation? Is it dinner, supper, fine dining or grabbing a bite? 

Intention is deciding to improve on what is already there.  Like yoga, clearing away the clutter to reveal what is buried beneath.

Create your Sankalpa. Say it aloud. Write it on a post it note or ten. Breathe it in on your mat. Make it a word or a statement that is realistic and can be supported with action steps.  

And if you make a mistake, veer off course; intentionally choose to get back on the path. Seriously when one door closes, open it again. That’s how doors work.

Ahimsa

It’s no secret that we’re living in divisive and fearful times.  Yoga at its very core means unity.

The first tenant of yoga is do no harm, yet judgment is everywhere and as harmful to the self as to the person or persons, you are slinging judgment at.  Stop and ask yourself: How many times a day you judge yourself? Others? And how much energy do you give to these thoughts?

Low self esteem, insecurities and self-doubt can lead people down a path of judgment. We all experience these moments. Maybe we judge ourselves in comparison to others. Ever glance at someone on a nearby mat and think how graceful and beautiful his or her practice is and start trash talking yourself?  The habits we discover on the mat we usually find off the mat as well. What kind of people we would have in our lives if we allowed them to talk to us the way we talk to ourselves?

Maybe we judge others because by making someone else less, we feel we become more. This rationale may work for a moment but moments don’t last very long. In the end it makes the division wider and the pain greater.  It’s difficult to sling mud and keep your own hands clean.  

It’s easy to embody our yoga when things are going well and we are all in a good mood but in the face of adversity who shows up?  If you squeeze an orange you get orange juice. Every single time. What you fill yourself up with is what is going to come out when life puts the squeeze on you.  How do you want to show up? What do you want to release when you are faced with the tough stuff?

Judgment in and of itself created division, the opposite of yoga. 

Sometimes we forget we are not our thoughts. We are NOT.  Don’t believe everything you think. Everything is energy, including you, me, all of us. Our energy speaks the moment we enter a room before we open our mouths.  Judgment creates negative energy. The end.

I am not immune to temptation. Thoughts can pull us into the future and into the past without warning. Yoga and meditation offer tools. These tools help us practice awareness. The moment we notice we are slipping into judgment we have moved out of autopilot. We are conscious.  We are aware. Mindfulness, another valuable tool, allows us to make an intentional choice to stop judging.  We can decide to change our thoughts. We can make a choice. If we are aware of something we can then decide if it is serving us or not. If it is we can strengthen it, If it’s not we can eradicate it.  Life is all about choices. What will you choose?

Hilary's Monthly Musing - October

Recently, someone asked about my first experience with yoga.  It might seem odd, but for me it was definitely not “love at first try”.

As many of you may know, a month after college graduation I moved to Los Angles.  Whenever the topic of fitness came up, all I kept hearing about was yoga.  On sets, at coffee shops, the gym, you name it, LA was on the yoga train and my curiosity was peaked.  

After two years, I was able to coerce my roommate to check it out. (Lisa and I had gone to college together and she was always up for an adventure.) As we walked into the multipurpose aerobics/spin/yoga room at my all women’s gym, we were greeted by a petite brunette dressed in black from head to toe.  Let’s call her Jenny. 

“Are you new?” she asked curtly. 

“Yes!” we replied enthusiastically in unison. Could we be more obvious!  

What came next was an unexpected, and equally unenthusiastic, “Great, I guess I’ll figure out something.”

Jenny was clearly not excited to have newbies in class, but Lisa and I did our best to follow along. I’ll never forget the feeling of having my beginner foot kicked from Warrior 2 to Warrior 1.  And what was this Savasana business? 

We did not go back to yoga the next week. Instead, we decided to try our hand at Hip Hop.  And no, there are no photos. 

About a year or so later we decided, once again, to try this allegedly relaxing, good-for-you yoga thing that remained all the rage in the city of angels. After carefully selecting a class time, and an instructor different than the first one (yes, you are correct; we intentionally chose a different teacher), we set off to give it another chance. 

Excitedly we opened the fitness room door, and guess what? Are you thinking this is the moment I knew I was moving back east to share my love of yoga, that I fell in love, and my life changed forever? 

Not even close.

Guess who was subbing? Jenny.  She saw us.  There was no escape from the class, but we never went back. 

That was the day yoga died, for ten years. 

You may be asking yourself why we didn’t got to a yoga class at Lisa’s gym.  The answer is simple; they didn’t have yoga classes yet.  At this time in LA, yoga wasn't as readily available as it is today.

My point? Not all yoga is love at first try. Mine clearly was not. But like true love, it has to be the right person at the right time. 

The right teacher and the right time for me came years later, through a yoga/Pilates fusion class.  And, needless-to-say, it was at a different fitness center.  But It was a seed that grew and grew and grew, until it was so big that it changed my life.  It was that seed that inspired me to do something more meaningful with my life.  It eventually led me to make the decision to leave Los Angeles and turn my passion into my life.  

Working with beginners always reminds me of my first class. Honestly, I wouldn’t change that experience because it taught me a valuable lesson - - how I want to show up, the kind of teacher I want to be.  To quote Kelly Clarkson: it’s “because of you” that I am inspired every day to give students a warm, welcoming, loving yoga experience.  And to this day, I thank Jenny for being one of my teachers. 

Namaste.

Hilary's Monthly Musing - September

For a moment I thought about quieting down the conversation in teen yoga the other day, but then I decided to listen instead.  In front of me was a group of teens, from different schools, talking about the same struggles.  These girls may see a different view every day, but the hurdles, roadblocks, and challenges they meet are the same in so many ways.  We are more similar than different. We all suffer from the human condition and that is so much a part of yoga.

Jaya is a place where no one cares about how much money you make, whether you have perfect hair, or what your job is, etc. There are no consequences here.  If you can do a pose, great; if not, keep practicing. Our value as humans doesn’t come from a yoga pose.  Our character, however, can be strengthened by what we learn when we fall out of one.

Jaya was born from an idea.  I saw a place where people could come to be inspired, to let the best version of themselves shine.  I hoped for a place where people could feel free to be in the moment and celebrate the experience of life.  

The well known quote “practice and all is coming” means ALL is coming - - the good, bad, light, dark, easy, difficult, etc.

Since Jaya opened its doors seven and a half years ago, it has grown to become more than just a yoga studio.  It’s a community center. It’s a church.  It’s a wellness center.  It’s a lifeline.  

Yoga is a way of life and Jaya, and the yogi community, reflect that off the mat.  The connections people have made here are priceless. From our pink ponies to yoga jail, Jaya has it’s own breath, it’s own personality, it’s own energy. It’s truly beyond anything I could have planned or imagined.

Being that September is National Yoga month, it’s the perfect time to extend the reach of yoga and offer more opportunity and access to mindful, healthy content. As you may know, I have been working on relaunching the Jaya blog.  I am feeling really good about this little change that I believe will provide another opportunity for us to connect and grow together. Through the blog, we are building a place where we can share recipes, articles, and ideas, and invite more people to experience the community at Jaya off the mat.  So take time once a week to check us out, and please, let me know what you think.  

And if you find something worthy of sharing with your friends, Jaya yogis or not, please do so.  Jaya is about connection and community.  Thank you for being such an important part of that vision.