Ethics, Yoga and Max Strom

“Our battles are not fought by challenging others to change their beliefs or behavior; rather, our own personal behavior is all we really have power over in the end.” ~Max Strom from A Life Worth Breathing

What is Ethics? And how does it relate to yoga? 
Ethic are defined by “the rules of conduct recognized in respect to a particular class of human actions or a particular group, culture, …”

I feel blessed as I had the chance to attend Max Strom trainings and workshops. I have been greatly influenced by his teachings and his kindness.
Basically Max ask us to define our code of Ethics.
What are the virtue that are important to us and how do we integrate them in our daily life.

When I think of yoga, I believe that yoga is rooted in ethics, namely kindness, respect, honesty, gratitude, discipline and integrity.
And that every yoga studio and every teacher will behave with integrity, competence and respect.
With more experience, I realize that, yoga being an amazing tool of transformation, I have probably have had too high expectations about any persons involved in the yoga business.

What I want to share is that everything lies in the practice.
May it be the physical practice of yoga which is a great start,  meditation, or eventually the code of conduct that we define for ourselves. What is important is to choose a code of ethics and to follow it with all our heart, revising it on a regular basis, so that we can stay authentic and true to ourselves.

To help you do that, I strongly advise to read Max Strom’s book: “There is no app for Happiness”. It simply guides us to define ourselves by what we stand for, instead of by what we are against.

Fit for summer 108 – Summer Solstice Event

Summer solstice is an important moment – the longest day of the year – and is celebrated in many cultures.

In some yoga traditions, summer solstice is so powerful and enhance our energy so the yoga practice is done through 108 Sun Salutes.

What? I can hear you asking me why 108. I know: it is a pretty big number.
Here you can find the significance of the number 108, the number of wholeness in our existence?

However, after a “filthy fifty” class at Balboa, I have realized that it is surely a great and feasible challenge for anybody. On the top of helping us toward our goal to be fit for the Summer, it also gives so much energy. ( I experimented it already with a group of keen yogi)

The benefits are incredible, namely this great level of energy, a better focus, and focusing on a positive intention.

So come and join us to celebrate the summer solstice through this practice of 108 repetitions of Sun Salutation. All levels are welcome, your presence is all that is necessary, especially because it is a donation based event, all benefits will go to Room to Read, after the Earthquake in Nepal.
We also have the chance to practice in a great space: Balboa, the starting point for body, mind and social activities, and who knows, we might meet there again.

Looking forward to seeing you this Sunday June 21st. After all, it is now the International yoga Day.


Because Love never dies

My heart is very heavy as a dear friend of mine passed away this week, after a long agony due to her sickness.
I thought, naively, that I was peaceful and accepting of the situation, full of serenity with this thought that she would stop suffering. Yet, I am suddenly bursting out in tears and feeling such an overwhelming sadness. I am told that it is what makes me human. So I must be very incredibly human.

However, I have found this article that I kept sharing with some friends getting over a break-up and today I am reading it for myself:

Coping with grief and loss

Who knows, it might help you. Because love never dies…

Improving each other’s life

Every day, I am touched by a smile, a look, a kind word, a touch, a gesture, a meeting with a friend and it does make me happy. Yet I forget to tell it… While those things apparently anodynes have an impact on each of us.
I sincerely hope that I have impacted someone else life without realizing it, as Drew Dudley explains so well in the following (short) Ted Talk:

So thank you for being part of my life!

Happy new year!

“The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed.”
Carl Jung

It is always interesting to notice how we all have an impact on each other, whatever our reaction might be. And I feel so blessed and touched by all the wonderful person I have met and I meet.
I do feel transformed and I wish for all of us a year of transformation.

According to the French tradition, we have until the end of January to give our best wishes for the coming year. And I believe that every year, we reflect of what we have done, and how we can do better and improve during the following twelve months.

Maybe some of us have seen “Happy new you” all over the internet. More than becoming someone new, we hopefully change and grow. So once again, I wish you a year of transformation and if possible of moments shared that makes us reflect on what we truly and deeply desire and want to achieve.

Are you ultra spiritual?

When we speak about corporate culture, the same applies to some activities. In the field of yoga and meditation for instance, there are some “ultra-spiritual” persons. What does that mean? JP Sears presents it in a funny way, it means you are better than spiritual, because you look spiritual… So I hope that you enjoy and laugh at his advices in the following video:

Just as a recap, here are his advices :

Practice competitive spirituality
Claim to be using your intuition when you’re not
Talk about energy
Become exactly what you’re rebelling against
Use the word Namaste often
Hold eye contact for awkward length of time
Deny your pain
Using an exaggerated light tone of voice
Do copious amount of yoga
Reclassify irresponsabilities under “I am a free spirit”

Have a great weekend!

Mirror Mirror

When we look at ourselves in the mirror, we always look good, don’t we?
It’s just a way to speak. What I mean by that, is simply the fact that we feel relaxed and we can’t see our jaw tensed or our frowning or our wrinkling forehead. This happens when we are stressed, or anxious, or even simply concentrating (often looking at the computer screen.)

Yet, watching people in the street, especially after a certain age, we can read those signs of stress or anxiety on the faces. We can indeed watch those people having a neutral expression, yet the down-turned corners of their mouths give us the impression that they are feeling extremely unhappy. Or people constantly frowning and looking pretty anxious.

So how can we prevent those facial expression? I keep repeating “Relax your face” or “Relax your jaw” during a yoga class, but how can we do if we don’t really feel it?

1. Smile
It seems pretty basic and it works very well. When people smile, they engaged different muscles than the one used to frown or to clench their jaw and they immediately look more relaxed.

2. Facial exercices (in front of a mirror)
Some facial exercises really help to release facial tension especially into the jaw. I remember this yoga teacher in India doing those exercises and I was completely impressed. Here is funny video. Yet nothing is better as imitating Mr. Bean

3. Facial massage
Last week, I had an amazing back massage and I have the tendency to clench my jaw at night… going through a rather stressful period in my life. I simply said that to the woman taking care of me and she has helped to release a lot of tension by pressing on trigger points. I can only highly recommend it.

4. Cognitive therapy –  Mindfulness
Every time you feel anxious or stressed, pay attention to your face and where you concentrate your stress.

5. Medicine or herbal strategies.
Apart from drinking plenty of water, some herbs can help, namely the one helping to relax like Valerian.

All these helps us to release our facial muscles and increase our awareness. To prevent facial tension caused by stress or anxiety, I believe that it is important to recognize the cause of it. Deep breathing and Meditation as always help us to get rid of stress and prevent those symptoms.


Stop and Smile

Life is precious.
Every present moment is precious.
Let’s remember that always. And let’s Stop and Smile.
I am so grateful to my neighbors. We have not even met and I appreciate them already for putting this sign on their doors.

Indeed, since yesterday, I feel extremely tender and vulnerable, as a friend, Jeff Fisher, a positive spirit and generous soul, has passed away. Jeff was always encouraging and positive. I have never seen him without a smile on his face, sharing his experiences, always looking how he could serve others better. A true inspiration.
I admire and thank his wife, Ezgli, who organizes a life celebration in his honor tomorrow. What an amazing idea. I will definitely join in spirit.

Life is too short for drama or petty things, so laugh hard, love truly and forgive quickly.

Star Wars

Sometimes books fall into your hands and you are really meant to read them. This has just happened to me last week. Indeed, I was listening to a lovely Australian lady advising the person next to me about the very book I have in my hands. It is like “The Secret”, that you have probably heard about, except that this one is funny and gives simple experiments to verify the power of your beliefs, your thoughts. Ok ok, you already want to know the title: E-Squared from Pam Grout. I highly recommend it.

More importantly, as I was going through this book, I couldn’t help but copy the following sentences:
“God is more like the force in Star Wars, a presence that dwells within us, a principle by which we live. That’s why Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader have become such a phenomenon. Star Wars is a myth that speaks to us at a deep, gut level. Some part of us knows that “the force” is with us and that we, through our words, thoughts, and deeds, create the world.”

For those of you that have come to my yoga classes, you know that I sometimes welcome you to a “Star Wars class”. Indeed the deep breathing we do makes so much noise, especially at the beginning when we are learning. It could even make us think to Darth Vader, anyway I think of it particularly with my own breathing. Max Strom, from which I am largely inspired speaks more poetically of it as “Ocean breathing”… and the yoga jargon refers to it as “Ujjayi Breathing”. (Victorious breath in sanskrit)
However breathing that deeply is a fantastic remedy against stress, and more importantly it helps connecting to ourself. I really enjoy Pam Grout’s comparison with this life force, because that’s the exact reason of this breathing. We become so focused on our breath, we release so much tension that we connect again to the “force”.
I hope that you can either enjoy and read this book, or go to yoga class where you breath deeply and connect to this life force within, or even better do both. Whatever your choice is, I would love to know your opinion about it.