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Essential Oils During Yoga Practice

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Aromatherapy is the therapeutic use of aromatic essential oils derived from plants. Aromas are inhaled, used topically, or sometimes ingested to bring about mental and physical well-being. Popularity of aromatherapy has steadily increased in recent years, prompting its integration into such practices as massage and yoga.

You may have already experienced aromatherapy in yoga class. Teachers will sometimes diffuse essential oils into the room before or during class to invoke certain energetic qualities. During more challenging practices, invigorating oils such as peppermint, eucalyptus, citrus, or lemongrass may be used while calming oils such as lavender or chamomile may be used during more relaxing practices. Some essential oil formulas are pre-blended to bring about enhanced breathing, feelings of serenity, or even a sense of groundedness.

As an alternate to diffused oils, some teachers massage oils into the skin during a lengthy Savasana or spray the oil into the air above students resting in this final relaxation pose. You can also make a blend of essential oil–infused water to clean off your mat after a particularly sweaty practice. Certain oils are antimicrobial in nature and can help to inhibit bacterial growth on your mat.

Aromatherapy can also be helpful during meditation. Frankincense, sandalwood, and lavender are often diffused during sitting meditation practice to bring about feelings of calmness and well-being. Certain essential oils can also be helpful when working with the energetic centers of the body, or chakras.

In essence (pun intended), these oils are yet one more tool to enhance your practice and help you to go inward. Seek out a class that incorporates essential oils to experience this added dimension yourself. You may find that you want more of it in your life.

Be sure to stop by the studio and check out the wide range of oils available right here at the TYS Boutique.

 

 

Staff Spotlight—Gwen Burdick The Teacher’s Teacher

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Many years ago my best friend sent me a copy of the book When Things Fall Apart by the Buddhist nun Pema Chodron. At the time I was unfamiliar with her work, but my life was definitely falling apart and out of my control. So I was interested in what it might offer to help me make sense of what, at the time, did not make sense.

I read, “Only to the extent that we are willing to subject ourselves over and over again to complete annihilation, can that which is indestructible be found in us,” and found these words to be remarkably comforting. It was an aha moment that changed my perspective altogether. Of course it was not difficult to be happy when everything was easy and going my way. But I was at least partially aware of the spiritual dimension of life, and I wanted to discover that which was indestructible within me. So here was my chance. The catastrophic circumstances of my life were not likely to improve, but I was determined to embrace my greatest teacher: annihilation.

Much more recently I had the opportunity to witness this year’s class of nervous graduating high school seniors, my oldest daughter among them, go through the grueling and selective college application process. Supremely qualified candidates with high hopes organized and sent their big GPAs, impressive class ranks, extreme test scores, fabulous letters of recommendation, skillful art supplements, financial documents, long lists of notable athletic and extra-curricular accomplishments, and, finally, the personal essay to hypercompetitive university admissions offices across the country.

After what seemed to be an endless wait period, the results came in. The award-winning essays (I read a lot of them with interest) were those that described some episode of failure and what was learned as a result. The kids who fared the best were those who had embraced the Buddhist teaching of annihilation (Goddess Kali in Yoga and the 8th house in Jyotish) and told honestly and courageously how disappointment, obstacles, loss, and other painful experiences helped them become more patient, caring, and purpose-filled.

My Savana, who was raised on a fairly heavy diet of Eastern philosophy, did not get into her first-choice school. But with that option annihilated, she got into my first-choice school, and happily and indestructibly accepted the merit scholarship to study ecosystem science and policy at University of Miami, class of 2020. Go ‘Canes!

 

Yogi of the Month—Andrea Wigert

Andrea Wigert

I was born in Brazil and my parents, little sister, and I moved to Miami 28 years ago when I was only nine years old. My father always loved plants and had a plant nursery in Brazil. After trying to start our new life in America, he worked in construction, as a pizza delivery guy, and other various jobs until he got established enough that he could open up his own little plant nursery. I always worked with my parents helping at the nursery, selling and growing plants.

In fact, I met the love of my life at a plant sale we were involved with. He was an American guy with his own bonsai nursery. I moved Pine Island and we got married. I switched from working for my parents nursery to working for my husband’s. The bonsai part of it was all new to me, but I knew about plants and running a plant nursery. We bought our own property in 2008 in North Fort Myers and moved the nursery there. We also live on that five acre property with our two English bulldogs, nine cats, eight tortoises, six peacocks, sandhill cranes, koi fish, etc.

It’s a lot of work owning your own business. We are open seven days a week, so I often work every day with no days off. Hard work has led our business to grow and thrive. We feel very fortunate to have a successful business. We have been married for almost ten years now. We have no children, but trust me—the pets and bonsai trees keep us plenty busy.

I started yoga three years ago by taking the Intro Series at The Yoga Sanctuary. A customer of mine, Rosemary, recommended The Sanctuary when I mentioned that I was looking for a place to start practicing yoga. I live in North Fort Myers and could have gone to studios in my area, but I’m glad I found The Sanctuary in Punta Gorda. I couldn’t be happier. I don’t mind the drive.

When I started Sunrise Yoga, which I believe is a level 2 class, I was terrible. I had just started practicing. But Jennifer didn’t kick me out, and I didn’t give up. I said to myself, “I’m really bad at this. I need to come to this class twice as often.” I had a lot to work on! I definitely feel more comfortable in the class now. However, I still have a lot to learn.

I started doing yoga because running my own business can be really stressful and I was looking for something to help me relax. It has become so much more than that. Yes, it does give me that short time during the day to do something for myself, but what I never expected is how it has made me feel stronger, physically and emotionally.

 

Exploring the Myths of Asana—Siddhasana

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Siddhasana, or Accomplished Pose, does not look like much from the outside, but the ability to hold this pose for long periods of time is known to be a marker of meditative excellence. In a sitting position, with the left heel placed against the groin, or perineum, and the right ankle placed over the left, Siddhasana represents the ability to sit upright in a state of perfection, or siddha.

The siddha is one who has “perfected” yoga and achieved mastery over the gunas. There are three gunas: tamas (darkness, destruction, chaos), rajas (excitement, activity, confusion), and sattva (goodness, harmony). One who is sattvic has overcome the pull of tamasic or rajasic behavior, abiding in the peace of his own true nature. In this state, according to the Yoga Sutras, one can attain great mystical powers called siddhis. But these powers are to be used appropriately, as the story of Durvasa teaches.

Durvasa was one such siddha who had achieved such siddhi powers. One day he came upon the court of King Ambarish, who had been fasting for the day. When it came time to break his fast at sundown, Durvasa was nowhere to be found. King Ambarish did not want to be rude and eat before his guest, so he drank some water to help ease his hunger. When Durvasa returned and discovered the king had taken water before him, he was furious. With his siddhi powers he created a demon that he sent to kill King Ambarish.

But King Ambarish was a devotee of Vishnu, the god of preservation, and was not attached to his wealth and kingdom because he knew that it was all temporary. Because of his devotion, he was protected by the chakra of Vishnu, a spinning vortex of energy. As soon as the demon came for the king, the spinning wheel instead killed the demon and chased Durvasa away. Durvasa sought help from Bramha, the god of creation, Shiva, the god of destruction, and Vishnu himself. Only Vishnu offered advice, “Only if my devotee Ambarish is willing to forgive you make the chakra withdraw.” Of course, King Ambarish forgave Durvasa and the spinning chakra retreated.

“In the end, the mystical powers of Durvasa proved to be less powerful than the devotional path of yoga that King Ambarish had been following,” states Alanna Kaivalya, author of Myths of the Asanas. “The true power of Siddhasana is its ability to give us the space to meditate on the power and beauty of selfless giving and unconditional love.” The same can be said for the attainment of peace within the yoga practice rather than the attainment of the perfect yoga pose. Yoga is an inner, not an outer practice.