yoga symbols meaning|yogi surprise

Yoga Symbols and Why They Compel Us So Very Much

What's the first thing you think when you see someone wearing a t-shirt featuring an OM?

"That human digs yoga."

"They are probably an open-minded sort."

"I'm going to ask her where she practices yoga."

"Am I OMing correctly?"

Essentially, yoga symbols have meaning to us because we feel a deep and profound love for yoga and want to express it

Symbols have always been a potent way to announce devotion, support, and reverence. They tell the world an important piece of our identity and values.

  • Religious people often wear a piece of jewelry announcing their membership, such as a cross or Star of David.
  • The yin/yang symbol holds strong meaning in Taoism and represents the pursuit of balance and wholeness. It also stands for the beginning point for change.
  • In Native American culture, the bull skull is symbolic of offering protection from the natural elements. It also stands for strength, courage, and leadership.

yoga symbols reasons|yogi surprise

Yoga symbols have grown wildly popular. If you actively observe this, you'll find them everywhere from jewelry, clothing, tattoos, pillows, paintings and sculptures, hell, even nail polish decals.

The Om is probably the most recognizable and popular. I decided to count the number of Om yoga symbols I saw on one given day. On that day, I taught 3 yoga classes, visited Whole Foods, pumped gas, walked a friend's dog, and met someone for coffee. With that day in mind, here is a breakdown of the number of Om yoga symbols I observed:

  • 11 Om tattoos (visible) on arms, lower backs, legs, and one on a neck.
  • 2 manicures featuring an Om sign.
  • 19 tanks/tee-shirts/sweat-shirts/leggings with the Om symbol!
  • 28 (!!) items for sale including pillows, clothing, skin-care, sculptures, paintings, and even an oil diffuser in the shape of an Om.

Of all the yoga symbols, Om speaks to people on a different frequency. It says that yoga is a prevailing force and focus in my life and I consider my yoga practice as representing the way I live.

Other beloved yoga symbols include the lotus flower. Its resilience and ability to spread beauty and light even in the most unlikely of places is empowering. The Hamsa symbol is also heavily represented in the yoga world for its protective powers. Mala beads are everywhere. Often referred to as 'yoga bling' mala bead necklaces and bracelets are both gorgeous and useful for meditation and as touchstones for our practice.

Wearable yoga symbols to shout with pride and passion who we are so the whole world will know will always be a powerful way to speak without words. Wear them loudly and spread your positive messages of love, strength, and passion to others.

 


commitment and priorities|yogi surprise

How Committed Are We to Our Priorities?

Have you ever taken vows?

I'm not talking marriage or religious vows, but internal promises of commitments you've made to yourself.

And these commitments are the ones that really matter to us. We hold them, dear, like loved ones. They are the lining of our souls and the crux of our character.

Things happen, drama, strife, rock-bottom occurrences that propel us right back to where we need to be. Committed to our priorities, seeing them more clearly than we do our faces in the mirror.
And sometimes these enlightenments come from moments on our yoga mats or interesting conversations with wise individuals who know things we don't. They've lived lives we can't even conceptualize. This sends us right back to our foundation. Commitment reminds us of who we were put on this earth to be.

So once we land there, what do we do? What happens when we renew our commitment to our biggest priorities?

First. we acknowledge them. We call them by name and place them in order.
Next, we identify how to put them first. Maybe it's meditation, doing good deeds, spending time correcting behaviors that hurt us, and nurturing our most important relationships.
When we step right up to the firing line of truth and don't back peddle or shy away from it, we can embrace it with wide-open and excited arms.
We make an action plan. Sleep more. work less. Love harder. be brutally honest. We get fierce. Beyonce-level fierce. And we feel our commitments rise to the top of our being. Our priorities present themselves as crystal-clear images that become engraved on our brains.

We set out on new paths, deleting the garbage that has become strewn all around us and we start the clean-up process.

We practice yoga daily. We cook nourishing meals. We put away our cell phones when we are with others. We choose to avoid distractions and ruminations. We dedicate to positive self-talk and sharing hopeful messages and supportive words with others. I've said it many times, no action is too small. There is always space for growth. Committing to that is everything.
Commitment is the only way we can find our way. It's the only thing that brings us all the good and meaningful that comprises our lives. Think about all you are and everything you have. Where and how does commitment show up? Once we start to evaluate it, we see it's the veil and it's also the thread.
All the rancor creating battlefields within our minds and hearts dissipates as we hone in on what's really important.
You matter. We all matter. And what we do has positive and negative consequences.
Determined commitment staves off suffering. It leads us in the direction we are absolutely supposed to go.
Commitment is everything. When we are non-committal, we've acknowledged that we simply don't prioritize that thing, concept, person, and activity. But when we go all in, miraculous things occur and that commitment pays off over and over.
This is freedom. This is living our best lives. Commitment to our priorities and not wavering or second-guessing what really is important.
Make your lists. Look at this list every day. Many times a day until it's indelible and it feeds us even more than food and water.
We must rebel against the thoughts that lead to habits that don't make us whole. We have to hold on to our commitments to our priorities that let us be good, even great. Washing away regret and moving forward is the only way to go.
Go boldly after what you really want. This is our dharma. This is our liberation. Go forward and be fantastic.

sense of direction location|yogi surprise

Yoga Sequence to Improve Your Sense of Direction

Do you know how to get where you're determined to go?

If you answered, 'sometimes', welcome to the club! Often we are more focused on the arrival to our destination. We can see the finish line so clearly, it's like we're already there. Except we're not. Nope. We need a compass, GPS, an old-fashioned map, something. Yet, those things can be very elusive if we don't have a strong sense of direction. I can visualize a breath-taking island where the locals are lovely and the music, food, yoga, and all-around revelry are abundant. But I haven't the first clue about how to actually locate it. Can you relate?

I envy those who have a strong internal sense of direction

Maybe you're one of the lucky few who always seems to understand the directional pulls and instinctively comprehends not just where to go but also the best pathway and most direct route. But if you're more like the majority of us, you often veer down roads that lead to dead ends, forcing you to double back and try another way. Hey, we're all in this together. And sure, we can see that taking wrong turns or roads that lead nowhere is all apart of the journey. But it sure is nice to feel that sense of direction and inherently know it's leading us directly where we want to land.

Try this yoga sequence to develop your sense of direction and plant yourself firmly on your path to greatness

We all have a dharma and once we've determined what that is, we're in a really big, damn hurry to get going. This yoga sequence will not only help you develop your inner compass, but chances are it will shake loose the information that, up until now, has felt elusive and evasive. Give it a go and let us know any awakenings you have. We'd love to see you execute it on IG. If you decide to go that route, please tag us so we can tag you back. As I said, we're all in this together, yo.

  • Begin in Tadasana (Mountain Pose). Get oriented to your crown being north, your feet being south, your left side being west, and your right is east. Visualize a bright compass sitting directly in the center of your chest. Feel its presence guiding you.

  • Reach your arms wide (east and west). Bend your knees and lower your hips (south) into Chair Pose. Wrap your left arm over your right arm, hugging yourself tightly. Position your palms together, then wrap your right leg over your left culminating into Eagle Pose. Pull everything towards the center of your body, stimulating your inner compass. We can always come back here if we get lost.
  • Unwrap everything and find the four corners of your space. Arms are out in a V-shape and step your legs into a V as well landing in Star Pose. Take up space while feeling grounded. Breath deeply, filling yourself with a sense of clarity and strength. Hop back to center, Mountain Pose.
  • Fold forward into Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend). Invert so that everything is moving south. Take advantage of this perspective shift by noticing the change in your breath and reorienting your focus.
  • Step back into Plank Pose. Look forward (north). Feel your heels reach back (south). Come onto your shins into tabletop. Move your hips toward the ceiling or sky and your heart forward into Cow Pose. Dome your upper back and point your hips down pulling your ribcage into your spine, Cat Pose. Take a few rounds to massage your spine and enjoy the directional pulls motivated by your breath.
  • Come back to tabletop and extend your left leg straight back landing on the ball of your foot. Now step your left over to the right side of the room (east). Feel the radiation in your hips and you move along a diagonal plane. Your leg is straight. Now bend it and move your left kneecap behind your right knee crease. Move your shins as far apart as you can and walk your hands further to the left, maintaining a diagonal line (northwest). Sit back if your hips allow for it, possibly all the way to the ground. Breath here for as many moments as you like. return to tabletop and repeat on the other side. Each time you shift directions, enjoy the reorientation process always knowing you control the direction.
  • Once you've completed both sides and returned to tabletop, sit back in Child's Pose (Balasana) and rest, coming back to your center.

Even when we change our direction, we can always find our way back. This eliminates the fear of going the wrong way. We can undo and reverse our direction whenever we feel the need. But even when we do this, we are still moving forward with new knowledge and a better understanding of where we want to be. Being still isn't being stagnant. Enjoy everywhere your mind and body go today. It all serves a purpose.


Satiating Wanderlust on a Serious Budget

I feel it too. The itch to go. A longing to be somewhere odd, foreign, really anywhere that's not where you live.

Wanderlust is a constant theme in the yoga community. Every other conversation I have is about where someone just traveled or an impending trip. And I never tire of discussing it and hearing other's stories of other lands, foods, languages, and landscapes. The physical effects of wanderlust are apparent immediately. It's like eating something spicy, knowing from the first bit that you're going to be on a ride for a little while. And there's only one cure. You have to go. Heed the call. Get your fix.
Most of us take a trip or two a year if we're lucky. And too many of us get caught up in work, obligation, who's going to watch the dog, and we can't afford it. Yeah. It's easy to find excuses and reasons to skip travel and do the easier thing. The boring thing. But it's not going to ignite your imagination or stir your soul now, is it?

I regard traveling at the bottom of the list of the hierarchy of needs. Food, shelter, clothing, water, travel

And what if you make five figures and there never seems to be much left over to book that flight or afford the hotel?
And that's where inventive souls who also regard travel as a need versus an indulgence have stepped up. They've created situations where one can travel, work, and love every second of it.
Need some ideas about how to satiate your wanderlust? Oh super, cause we've got some!

Wanderlust Festival

 
You saw that coming, right? Wanderlust takes place all over the United States and Canada, and the volunteer opportunities abound. If you've ever wanted to attend the festival but decided it wasn't in the budge, volunteering with a few of your yoga and travel-loving comrades could be the perfect way to have it all. Always wanted to go to Tahoe? Cool, Wanderlust sets up there once a year. Volunteering gets you a free pass to yoga, music, speakers, and really all the festival has to offer. Renting a small house with several friends really takes the sting out of accommodation fees. And everything is more fun with people you love. Make it happen. Reach out to Wanderlust today to submit your application.

Yoga Trade

This brainchild is the result of a yoga and surf-loving couple and their creative, travel-loving friend - all wanting to not just create opportunities for themselves but for others who share their passion for yoga, travel, and community building. These folks are truly living their dharma and they want to help you do that too.

For a paltry $36 bones a year ($48.00 for two years), you can get access to tons of work trade, volunteering, and continuing education opportunities. You just have to get yourself there. Wanna teach yoga in a tree house? You can! Interested in spending a month in Sri Lanka at a yoga retreat living, practicing, and taking photographs? That experience is just lying in wait for you. Sign up with Yoga Trade for free to peruse their offerings. They want yoga teachers, photographers, and chefs who cook health food with love to join their team. Locations range from Costa Rica to Portugal to Columbus, Ohio. Their emails only wet your thirst and prod you to dream and dream big. Check out Yoga Trade for opportunities that will make your heart burst and get you going on your next travel adventure.

If flights and rooming feel a little out of reach at the moment, short road trips that involve your dog, camping, and hiking are always available cheap and easy excursions to satisfy your soul's yearning. Beauty is everywhere. We must continue to make the effort so our experiences can feed us. We never have to go hungry. And luckily our mats love travel as much as we do.


The Low Down on Dharma: 5 Questions to Ask and Answer to Own Your Passion

An inquisitive mind is a busy, active, reaching mind who loves to solve mysteries and develop destinations. Determining our dharma only asks that we continuously seek our deepest understandings of ourselves and what drives and impassions us.

While various religions and philosophies embrace and utilize the concept of dharma, there is no definitive definition. The overall idea is that our dharma is our passion and the reason we exist. Heady stuff, but most importantly, it's the most exciting knowledge we'll ever gain.

Not certain what your dharma is? You are far from alone, and we want to help! Asking questions, owning the ardor and zeal we feel for certain things and people, and trusting our truths are how we land with feet firmly walking along the path we're meant to follow and love.

If you've already developed an understanding here, these questions and answers many coax an even more extensive and heartfelt commitment to your passion.

It's crucial for each of us to understand our dharma is not necessarily how we make money, nor is it anything anyone can determine outside of ourselves. No one knows you the way you do. And this is the very best news. However, surrounding ourselves with others who seek constant growth and a deepening understanding of themselves and why they live the way they do will only light up our own paths with more luminosity and vivid comprehension. We need our mentors and examples of living dharma to propel us towards our own.

Grab a pen and paper or your laptop and get down with starting right here, right now. No moment of meditation or contemplation is a wasted moment. Can you feel that growing giddiness in depths of your spirit? Let's get going.

 

  1. Where is your very favorite place in the whole world and why? If this answer came to you in a nanosecond, cool. Now, why is this your favorite place? What feelings or opportunities does this place evoke?  If you're not sure, that's also quite amazing news. It means travel and exploration are your dharma right this moment. That doesn't necessarily mean you have to get on a plane or pack. It might mean your journey is a book you've never read that will introduce you to concepts and beliefs you hadn't yet considered in this life. Or, perhaps it's dusting off your yoga mat and exploring breath, movement, and your inner teacher's voice.
  2. What's the one thing you want to do every single day without question? Omg, I LOVE this question. I didn't use to love it because I didn't have an answer. Now I know it's to teach yoga to eager, willing, and passionate students who come to their mats to feel. If that one thing for you is being a parent, for example, each day offers singular thrilling moments, teaching opportunities, learning possibilities, and so much joy. Whatever it is, don't let a day go by without experiencing the thing that gives you purpose. If you're not yet clear on what that is, again, this is a big opportunity. Not yet knowing means each day offers you the chance to try things you're interested in and curious about until you have that lightbulb moment of, "Oh. Yes. Here it is." It's intoxicating. Keep looking.
  3. What moment made you so uncomfortable that it propelled you forward? See, we kid ourselves sometimes and convince ourselves that discomfort is bad. That's empirically untrue. When we embrace and revel in our discomfort, our truths come to light. Even really wonderful feelings can be so powerful that they cause us unease and we question what that's all about. It may be that abandoning one identity so another layer of who we are can be revealed is the only way we cut the bullshit. Honesty is often coupled with discomfort, so look for those awkward moments and run towards them to find out what they offer.
  4. What were the three most compelling takeaways you learned from your biggest growth spurt? We're not talking growing five inches in six months here. Growth and wisdom come at all ages. When it happens, we change. And everyone and everything around us changes too because we are different. Write down your lessons and where they took you. If it hasn't happened yet, oh, it will. Welcome it and bear witness to how your life shifts to accommodate the new you.
  5. When did the Universe speak so loudly you had no choice but to listen? Synchronicity is a compelling force. Signs are everywhere, especially when we are really tuned in and alert. Stay vigilant and don't ignore the obvious signs all around you leading you in the direction of passion, purpose, and deep contentment.


It doesn't matter what anyone thinks or what everyone wants for you. What drives you? Where do your wisdom and insight lead you? Own it or find it and enjoy the experience of discovery. Enjoy the ride and be true to you. Dharma is your destiny when you are willing to walk with it. We are so incredibly excited for you.


3 Meditation Tips for Tapping Into Your Inner Wisdom

3 Meditation Tips for Tapping Into Your Inner Wisdom

“Meditation brings wisdom; lack of meditation leaves ignorance. Know well what leads you forward and what holds you back, and choose the path that leads to wisdom.” ~Buddha

You might have heard that the answers to all your problems and questions already lie within you. And those who make spiritual practices a priority in their lives almost always experience this to be true.

Through meditation, anyone can get deeper in touch with their own truth. Living your truth means living with unshakeable purpose, selflessly serving yourself and others simultaneously for the greater good of everyone and everything.

If you already have a meditation practice in place or are interested in starting one, there are various techniques you can use to gain clarity about your true self. Here are just three to try out.

 

1. Breathe into a place of “what is” to reach a state of non-resistance.

Oftentimes we have limiting beliefs that prevent us from getting to know our true selves. So before we do anything, we have to learn to accept who we are and where we are right now—even if we don’t like it. (Especially if we don’t like it!)

To do this, consider one aspect about yourself or a situation in your life that you can’t change and use your meditation practice to explore your relationship with it. Are you struggling to work with it, or are you trying to ignore that it exists?

As you gain awareness of your own resistance, harness the energy from your core through your breath to combat these resistant thoughts. Continuing to breathe through this process will bring you close to a state of acceptance of what is.

 

2. Meditate on simple questions related to your spiritual dharma.

Your spiritual dharma is your purpose in life. As you sit in meditation and bring yourself to the here and now by spending a few moments focusing on your breath, try asking yourself one of the following questions:

  • Who am I?
  • What do I want?
  • How can I serve myself and others?
  • What am I grateful for?

Now here’s the hard part: Let your heart answer rather than your logical mind. Your answers could come through in the form of bodily sensations which you might have to spend some time interpreting until they reveal themselves through the soft, subtle voice of your inner guidance (your intuition) that lies beneath the constant chatter of the monkey mind.

 

3. Call up compassion, abundance, and longevity through mantra chanting.

Mantra means sound, and it's used in meditation to activate a certain type of energy throughout parts of the body. When chanted (silently or aloud) with full awareness, mantras are powerful enough to lead to higher states of consciousness.

To nurture your inner wisdom through meditation, you can chant the Green Tara Mantra “om tare tutarre ture soha” to relieve physical, emotional, and spiritual suffering. Known as “the Mother of all Buddhas,” Tara offers you protection while awakening sources of great compassion, abundance, and longevity from within.

Here’s a Green Tara Mantra video you might want to check out to familiarize yourself with the mantra or practice chanting along with through your meditation.