The substructure of Ahimsa//Non-Violence

By Alana Bray, Owner of Yoga Bound

tumblr_lxq10l80no1qkkvypo1_500According to Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, living ethically is the first step on the Yoga path. The Yoga sutras outline 5 ethical codes of conduct, or Yamas. This universal vows are imperative to live a fulfilled life as well as benefit society,  The first Yama Ahimsa, or non-violence,  lays the foundation for all other Yamas, and therefore is the groundwork of our Yoga Practice.

Kindness and non-violence starts not by how you treat others, but how you treat yourself. Our Yoga practice is the microphone for our life. How we treat ourself in our practice is how we treat ourself and others in our life. The premiss of kind and sincere treatment towards ourself depends on this substructure of our Yoga practice:

  • Respectful and consistent attention the moment the practice begins
  • Yogic Breath: Long, slow, deep, calm, gradualized, symmetrical breath. Each one is important and depends on your attentive presence. This breath can both stabilize and soften everything in you when you are present with it.
  • Balance of effort and ease.

When we have this infrastructure to our practice, it places awareness of ahimsa in that moment. When your attention displays deep admiration, it is in its nature seeing, magnifying and perpetuating kindness in all areas where that attention is placed. There is no way to have a violent, stress inducing or toxic thought in the same moment  the breath is Yogic. Knowing the balance of effort and ease is important in our spiritual practice and in our physical asana practice. Through our attention on our breath, we can notice the quality of our efforts. If there is not a balance, there will be no ease in our efforts; our mental state as well as our movements will be abrasive. We want to go with grace to the right place in our practice everyday. We want to have effort enough to keep our attention, but ease enough to keep our breath and fluidity. If we are too deep in a pose, or transitions are jagged, we have lost our breath, attention and balance, and therefore the substructure of Ahimsa in our practice.

Once we commit to this underlying structure of kindness in our Yoga practice, we have done the important work of regulating the violent thoughts, words and actions that have the potential of violating our ethical code. Off the mat, our Yoga practice is shifting the violent habits that we might have in all aspects of our being. For example, what goes through your mind when a smoker sits next to you? Your thoughts towards the situation can be just as toxic as the cigarette.

Much of our Yoga is perfecting the practice of Ahimsa as all the other ethics are subsumed in it. Remember, Ahimsa is forgiveness, true strength, clarity, kindness and above all LOVE. May we use our Yoga practice to exemplify this in our life.

Namaste.

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Listen to Expand the Good

By Alana Bray, Studio Owner

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset“By listening we become masters”. I have been inspired by this quote in my teachings this week. When it comes down to it, our Yoga practice (which is a microphone for our life) is most successful when our ability to be receptive to the moment becomes fundamental. We are not listening to one thing, but everything. Every sound around us, we are aware of as part of the experience. At the same time, we hear the sound of our breath as our internal life and streamline of aliveness and presence now. Amidst it all, we are listening to and continually engaging with our own energy. When we listen to everything, it makes up this experience. We immediately put ourselves into a position of calm, present receptivity to what we give and receive. In this moment of listening, immediately all our actions will support the greater good.

In our Yoga practice, i.e; our life,  are we acting from a place of listening to everything as a way to support the goodness we will attract to this moment? Do we have a moment of pause, of grace before everything we do because we are listening? When we move into a pose, are we listening to the teacher, to the breath and to our internal energy as we are transitioning or even holding? If so, we are in the moment. And more than in the moment, we are mindful, and in that calm mindfulness we are creating a sense of expanded awareness that promotes and supports the benefit we will receive Now.

By listening to everything we become masters of the expanded sense of increase we give and receive. And this is a practice. By no means am I a master of this.

Namaste!

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Tune into the Infinite Flow

By Alana Bray

tumblr_lqg9k4g06y1qcopsao1_500You know you are reading a good book when you can’t stop thinking about it, and ways that you could apply it to your life. For me, that book is In Tune with the Infinite by Ralph Waldo Trine. I am only 1/4 of the way through and I already feel the need to write about it. Written over a century ago, this book is a must read for those who want to strengthen their connection with the “infinite flow” in order to enjoy a free-flow of abundance, positivity and personal intuition.

Trine talks about knowing and fortifying your relationship with the abundant energy of the universe, our infinite source. The degree to which your connection with the infinite flow is strengthened, is the degree to which you will receive and manifest infinite potential to your life.

Our greatest tool in uniting us to the infinite energetic resources of the universe is our mind. Fear and worry are two of the most powerful ways to shield your life from the infinite flow, whereas trust, optimism and love are the greatest ways to magnetize abundance into your life. The degree to which fear and worry come into your life, is the degree to which they will shield you from all the goodness. Connecting this philosophy to our Yoga teachings, the Yoga Sutras say that if something is not working, do the opposite. Clearly fear and worry do not work for us in this philosophy. Part of the practice is noticing the negative, fearful thought patterns and immediately replacing that thought with a positive, trusting and open thought. Enough of that, and you will redirect your negative habits towards positive habits succinct with the infinite flow.

Our Yoga practice itself is an infinite flow; it is ever evolving, and some might even say lifetimes of evolution. Like a lotus flower keeps blossoming from an infinite source, so does our practice and so does our life. As we practice, we tune into this infinite flow through presence. Connecting to the present moment, feeling the soft embrace of devotion in our presence, expands and opens our consciousness towards abundance like a magnet. Feeling our breath inside our body, connects our mind and body to this flow. No more fear or worry as long as our breath is long, slow, deep and calm. When we are present we are limitless; there is no before, there is no after. There is space. It is in the spirit of this space that we become infinite.

May we use our Yoga practice to be In Tune with the Infinite.

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Learning How to Manage the Idea of Impermanence With Yoga

By Alana Bray, Owner of Yoga Bound

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One of the realities that our Yoga practice allows us to recognize is the impermanent reality of life. We all have heard that nothing last’s forever, and “Change is the only constant”. At times the idea of impermanence can be comforting, and at other times it can be one of the most devastating realities of ones life. How can we use our Yoga practice to respond to our transitory reality?

I heard a quote in response to the recent fires in San Diego that took me a couple days to understand. Reverend Tom Kelly, a well respected Yogi wrote “To know Yoga is to accept death”. Death, in every sense of the word evokes grief, sadness, the end of happiness, and all sort of feelings that we tend to avoid by ignoring its certainty in our life. It is inevitable. The only thing we have is now. Our Yoga practice becomes a tool for understanding the choice we have in life. We can choose to victimize ourselves, by closing off avoiding, and identifying with the sad feelings of impermanence. Or, we can choose to respond with presence. Fully feeling the sadness, yet not identifying with it. Being open to the changes in life, can mean being vulnerable, and it can also mean being liberated. When we are open to the transience of our situation, we are fully present to it. We are enjoying it for what it is.

The gift of my Yoga practice is the perpetual opportunity for presence. Yoga is a microphone for our life. If we can be present with the stable consistency of our softening breath in any pose, we can find the invested presence in every moment of our life. When we are in a struggle, why not connect with it and be present enough to respond to the struggle with grace, enjoying what it gave you? When looking at a loved one, then a deep and heavy fear sweeps over you that they are going to be taken away, the most healing choice is to be present with the love you have for them NOW. Enjoy the love they give to you in this moment.

I came to this awareness after the devastating fires in San Diego recently that burned one of my favorite places to regularly hike. I became sad, nostalgic and connected to the sadness all day. What gave me resolve was remembering the times I did spend in that place I was so present. I always basked in the beauty of that piece of earth. I thanked the universe for giving me such a gift that day. In that moment of sadness, I was comforted in knowing that I was present while I spent my time hiking in Elfin Forrest. In being open to the beauty of NOW, the presence resonates deep and becomes your source of comfort.

May you be able to connect to your most nourishing presence always.

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Yoga to Polish Your Intuition of Response Amidst Uncontrollable Forces

By Alana Bray

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There is nothing like our mother earth to put us back in our place. Today the wind is reckless and the heat is compounding. It is our mother speaking; time to get grounded, cool it down, and move slow. On one side, when the weather makes its presence known, it shows us that there are many things in life we cannot control. We can’t control much of what the future brings us, we cannot control others, and we most certainly can’t control the weather.

On the other side, we can control how we respond rather than react to all the uncontrollable forces in our life. When Googleing “Yoga and Control” a plethora of topics popped up: “Yoga and Self Control”, “Yoga to Control Anxiety”, “Control Your Emotions with Yoga”, “Yoga to Control Diabetes”, “Yoga and Weight Control”, “Yoga and Breath Control”, etc. What is it with Yoga and our ability to “Control” everything that comes from within us? Yoga gives us the ability to witness everything that is coming from us, and discern how to harness the energy we create from within.

Whereas before each of us found Yoga, we never had a practice that connected us and used our bodies as the medium through which we experience the present. We quickly realize that if we are mindlessly reacting in our Yoga, by not being aware of the breath and the grace with which our body moves, the Yoga class is miserable. We learn that when we control the way we respond to the pose, through harnessing our breath, our class becomes much more giving. We are open and trusting that we can manage what comes next, because we are rooted in our ability to control the way we respond.  Through our Yoga Practice, we are granted many tools with which we can polish intuition of response. Our Yoga practice is a metaphor for our life. There is no doubt that life, people and the weather throws us curve balls from time to time. But we are safe and steady, knowing that whatever happens, we know how to pause and respond with grace and our harnessed intuition from our Yoga practice.

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You are Here to Pay Attention

By Alana Bray
Phebi in Upward Facing Dog!

Phebi in Upward Facing Dog!

Everyday I am reminded why I practice Yoga, and it comes in many forms; It feels good, life inside my body is fluid and conscious, I breathe easier, it gives my life space, I become mindful. To sum it up, I learn to be more present. When we sit down to practice Yoga, we must tell ourselves from the start “I am here to pay attention”. A beautiful mantra that describes the simplicity of why Yoga works. We are here to practice paying attention to Now.
Eckhart Tolle writes about being friendly with the present moment, so that we can be friendly with life:
“Each day of your life appears to consist of thousands of moments where different things happen. Yet if you look more deeply, is there not only one moment, ever? Is life ever not “this moment”? this one moment –NOW– is the only thing you can never escape from, the one constant factor in your life. No matter what happens, no matter how much your life changes, one thing is certain: it’s always Now. Since there is no escape from the Now, why not welcome it, become friendly with it? When you make friends with the present moment, you feel at home no matter where you are. The present moment is as it is. Always. Can you let it be?”
When you practice paying attention to Now, through your Yoga practice, what you are doing is maintaining the ease in this moment through the delicious breaths connecting to your fluid graceful movement patterns. You are here to pay attention to your friendliness with this moment. If you are friends with this moment, you are friends with life.
May we use our Yoga practice as a beautiful time spent with Now.
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Psychobiotics: Bacteria For Your Brain

 

Did you know that at Yoga Bound we do 12-day clean eating for optimal wellness programs every Season? We teach you how to make fermented foods, an ancient wisdom technique that gives you plentiful amounts of probiotics each day. We also supply you with shopping lists, recipes, meditations, support and lots of inspiration to help you create healthy habits for life. Our next one is July 14-25!

by Dr. Brogan at www.kellybroganmd.com

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Every functional medicine psychiatrist has case stories of the ‘probiotic cure’ – of a patient with debilitating symptoms, often obsessive compulsive range, whose symptoms remitted completely with dietary change and probiotic supplementation. Is this voodoo or is it based on a growing understanding of the role of the microbiome in mental health and behavior? For two decades now, pioneering researchers have been substantiating inflammatory models of mental illnesses such as depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia.  Research has focused on markers that indicate immune distress in an important subset of patients, many of whom are labeled “treatment resistant.” Through this body of literature, we have identified that depression can be induced, in animals and inhumans through inflammatory agents, that it is correlated with blood levels of inflammatory markers, in a linear way (more markers = worse depression), and that symptoms can be reversed through pharmaceutical anti-inflammatories.

Inflammatory Models of Mental Illness: The Role for the Gut

Working with this premise, where is the best place to begin when we consider how to modify inflammatory states in the body, naturally? You guessed it, it’s the gut. Housing >70% of our immune system, the gut is our interface between the outside and inside world, separated by one-cell-thickness. The resident microorganisms, outnumbering by 10:1 by our human body cells, develop an ecosystem through postnatal exposures, in the vaginal canal, through breastfeeding, and the immediate environment.  Disruption to the balance of bacteria through medication exposures, gluten, herbicides, stress, and infection can set the stage for the innate immune system to prepare for attack. Depression, associated with compromised integrity of this intestinal barrier, becomes the swirling storm of inflammation, impairment of cellular machinery (i.e. mitochondria), oxidative stress, and inflammation in a carousel-like forward rotation. Specifically, depression is associated with elevated levels of lipopolysaccharide (LPS), a nutrient-binding, inflammatory toxin produced by bacteria that are intended to remain in the gut.

If depression is a downstream collection of symptoms, and inflammation, oxidative stress, and mitochondrial dysfunction are driving these symptoms, what is at the source? It appears, from data in animals and humans, that disruption to our gut ecology may be a major player, and the microbiome has stepped to the forefront of cutting-edge psychiatric research.

Enter psychobiotics: “a live organism that, when ingested in adequate amounts, produces a health benefit in patients suffering from psychiatric illness.”  A review by Dinan et al. encompasses the clinical basis for the use of probiotics in mental health with reference to animal studies in which behavioral changes resulted from exposure to bacterial strains such as bifidobacterium andlactobacillus. In placebo-controlled trials in humans, measures of anxiety, chronic fatigue, and depression and anxiety associated with irritable bowel syndrome.

The therapeutic clinical applications of probiotics have been limited to a handful of strains out of the more than 7000 at last count. It appears that colonization is not an expected outcome of probiotic supplementation, and that genomic communication between bacteria and immune receptors may account for anti-inflammatory effects.

Ancient Wisdom

Given how little is known about therapeutic applications of different strains, it may make sense to defer to ancestral practices that confirm the importance of probiotic exposures. In these foods such as lactofermented kimchi, pickles, sauerkraut, and other traditional vegetables, microbes are acting on the food, and the food is then acting on our microbes.

What do bacteria accomplish in the gut? Do they just help with digestion? According to Selhub et al., they:

• Direct protection of the intestinal barrier;

• Influence on local and systemic antioxidant status, reduction in lipid peroxidation;

• Direct, microbial-produced neurochemical production, for example, gammaaminobutyric

acid (GABA);

• Indirect influence on neurotransmitter or neuropeptide production;

• Prevention of stress-induced alterations to overall intestinal microbiota;

• Direct activation of neural pathways between gut and brain;

• Limitation of inflammatory cytokine production;

• Modulation of neurotrophic chemicals, including brain-derived neurotrophic factor;

• Limitation of carbohydrate malabsorption;

• Improvement of nutritional status, for example, omega-3 fatty acids, minerals, dietary

phytochemicals;

• Limitation of small intestinal bacterial overgrowth;

• Reduction of amine or uremic toxin burden;

• Limitation of gastric or intestinal pathogens (for example, Helicobacter pylori);

• Analgesic properties.

Given widespread fermentation practices in traditional cultures, it appears that this dietary wisdom may serve to ameliorate gut-based inflammation and promote optimal nutrient assimilation as described in this review: “Traditional dietary practices have completely divergent effects of blood LPS levels; significant reductions (38%) have been noted after a one-month adherence to a prudent (traditional) diet, while the Western diet provokes LPS elevations .”

In addition to increasing bioavailability and production of minerals, neurochemicals, and fatty acids, fermented foods actually produce methylfolate, an activated form of folate required for methylation: brain chemical synthesis, detox, and gene expression.

Because of the complex coevolution of bacterial strains, cultivated through our food supply, and complementary to our inner microbiomes, we have an opportunity to use therapeutic foods to reeducate an immune system that has been drawn off course. Psychobiotics have the potential to modulate multiple different relevant factors at once:

“This could manifest, behaviorally, via magnified antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity, reduction of intestinal permeability and the detrimental effects of LPS, improved glycemic control, positive influence on nutritional status (and therefore neurotransmission and neuropeptide production), direct production of GABA, and other bioactive chemicals, as well as a direct role in gut-to-brain communication via a beneficial shift in the intestinal microbiota itself.”

It is therefore compelling to consider the power of reconnecting to the natural world through our food; communicating through our guts to our brains, that nutrients are plentiful, our bodies are safe, and that our inflammatory systems can be put at ease. It is under these circumstances that the infinite complexity of the endocrine, immune, and gastrointestinal systems can play out, unhindered in support of mental health and wellness.

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The Benefits of a Spring Cleanse

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By Alana Bray

The main focus of a cleanse is to “clean house”. We live in a world of highly over-processed, nutrition deficient and toxic food sources. Without even realizing it, the foods we eat everyday could slowly be compromising our health and shortening our lifespan. Dairy, Wheat, Hydrogenated Fats/Oils, Table Salt, Meat, Sugar, Caffeine, Alcohol, Genetically Modified Foods, and preservatives all have a dominant presence in our food choices if we are not aware of it. If not eaten in moderation, we can compromise many of the systems in our body from running efficiently. Do you have skin issues? Digestive issues like gas, bloating, or intermittent constipation? Bad allergies? How’s your energy level? What about your mood? Ever feel like you suffer from brain fog? Do you get obsessive sugar cravings? These are just some potential symptoms of food sensitivities to toxins in our diet.

Cleansing helps the body be more efficient in the “housecleaning” of toxins collected in everyday life. The body sends signals that it might need some detox help: headaches, digestive discomfort, skin problems, inflammation, chronic fatigue, low energy, irritability, and weight issues. Cleansing helps your body’s detoxification system recover and rejuvenate to operate more efficiently. When you eliminate culprits in your food, you give your digestive system, the home to 90% of your immune system, a much needed rest, and purge our body of toxins.

One of the main ideas behind a cleanse is to curb your unhealthy cravings. During a lengthy cleanse, we begin to crave less unhealthy foods and more healthy foods. Our bodies crave what they learn to sustain and live off of. The first days of the cleanse you might experience intense cravings, as the toxins are dying and leaving your system. Day by day it will get easier, your taste buds will become cleansed, and you will start craving more whole foods. Without the heavy flavorings your used to, when you eat a cleaner diet, whole foods become full of flavor in their simplicity.

Hippocrates said the key to a healthy long life is to “Eat Foods, not too much, mostly plants”. With this plant based cleanse we are educating and empowering you to create new eating habits that are sustained from the simple foods the earth provides. We learn how to eat non-plant based foods in moderation, and appreciate the beautiful balance of our diet that we have complete control of. This cleanse is not a diet, but a moment of change for the better, a “mindful evolution” towards clean, whole plant based sustainable food awareness in our life so that our body, mind and spirit can always be clear and healthy.

Our Shine Bright YB Spring Class Begins Monday March 31-April 11 !

Click Below For Details: https://clients.mindbodyonline.com/ASP/adm/home.asp?studioid=27761

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