Meet Your Kula: Whitney Davis

Meet Your Kula: Whitney Davis

 

Part of what makes us so unique are the amazing members of our Yogi community, our kula. Each month, we'll feature one member of our yogi community, chat with them about their practice, learn more about what draws them to yoga, and get to know each other a little more.

This month, meet Whitney Davis, our Ahimsa Yogi.

blonde female in purple yoga clothes
Tell us about yourself!

I'm Whitney! I'm a yogi living in Florida with my husband and one-year-old son named Bodhi!

What started your yoga journey?

I started my yoga journey in my freshmen dorm room. I started yoga to find relief from anxiety and to increase my flexibility and strength.

When did you decide to become a yoga instructor?

I decided to become a yoga teacher after leaving a career in social work. I loved the idea of helping individuals tune into themselves and find peace and healing through the yoga practice.

blonde woman yoga on the beach

What type of yoga do you teach? What drew you to this particular form of yoga?

I am currently a stay at home mom, but when I was teaching I preferred to teach vinyasa and yin. I love those two styles of practice because they help us find balance.

What grounds you in your practice?

Meditation and my breath help me stay grounded. When I am feeling stressed or overwhelmed, I try to get on my mat and flow with my breath or sit in stillness.

How has the practice of yoga affected your life? Spiritually? Mentally?

Yoga has helped me stay present in all facets of my life. I’m naturally very hyper and a “type-A.” This leads to anxiety and since I’ve incorporated yoga into my daily life, I have found more moments of equanimity and peace.

blonde woman in splits

How do you incorporate what you’ve learned from your practice both on and off the mat?

I try to incorporate the breath practices I use on the mat in my life. I notice when I take those moments to go inward or breathe deeply, I am much more patient and centered.

What would you share with a beginner?

Enjoy the journey and try not to wish for what is next! It is easy to see advanced asanas and feel defeated or intimidated, but every yogi was once a beginner too and we learn the most about ourselves in the journey of our practice.

How has your understanding of Ahimsa grown and changed over the years?

At one time, I felt ahimsa was only about nonviolence to other beings. But over the years I have realized that I need to extend that nonviolence to myself and body. There were days I would teach my students to be kind to themselves, but then not extend that kindness in my own thoughts and standards towards myself.

blonde woman beach yoga

 

You can follow Whitney's yoga journey and connect with her at @whitneydavisyoga. You can also practice the Ahimsa Asana alongside Whitney this month with our Ahimsa Core Strengthening Asana with our mantra:

I offer peace, love, and compassion to all beings. I greet each moment with grace and understanding.


5 Interesting Facts You Didn't Know About Your Heart Chakra

The heart chakra is the fourth chakra in the chakra system, which represents the center of love, compassion, joy, and warmth. That might seem obvious, but the heart chakra goes far beyond just that.

Check out these five interesting facts that will help introduce you to the power of the heart chakra.

 

1. Your heart chakra is not located in your heart, but rather in the middle of your chest.

It’s easy to assume that the heart chakra is in the same place as the heart (the left side of your chest), but it’s actually located in the center of the chest, right beside the heart. The heart chakra is also the middle chakra where the three lower chakras of the solar plexus, the sacral, and the root meet the three higher chakras of the throat, third eye, and crown.

 

2. The heart chakra is associated with the color green.

Modern depictions of hearts are typically associated with the colors red and pink, but when it comes to the heart chakra, it resonates with the color green. This is because all the chakras are energy centers that vibrate at specific levels, which results in specific colors (and also musical notes—that of which is the note of F for the heart chakra).

 

3. The heart chakra’s Sanskrit word Anahata means “unstruck,” “unhurt,” and “unbeaten.”

The heart chakra governs your expression of unconditional love toward yourself and toward others. It’s also your source of compassion, helping you to cultivate love even through some of life’s most tragic events. No matter how you might have suffered in the past or what you might be going through right now, you can count on your heart chakra to radiate unconditional love through it all.

 

4. The heart chakra is not so much about romantic love as it is about unconditional love.

Many people conjure up images of fairy tales and Hollywood movies when they think of love, but this is not the type of unconditional love that the heart chakra governs. The romantic attraction that typically takes place during the beginning stages of relationships are often largely fueled by egoic desire, which may or may not transform into selfless, unconditional love via the heart chakra once the infatuation wears off.

 

5. Your heart chakra is your center for healing.

While all of the seven chakras in the chakra system are important in their own unique ways, the heart chakra plays an especially important role in healing since love is universally recognized as the highest force of healing across various religions and spiritual practices. The unconditional love of the heart chakra helps us become aware that we are all connected and expanding together with the universe in a way that inspires a sense of wholeness, harmony, and peace.

 

A balanced heart chakra will affect and enhance every part of your life—from the way you feel about yourself, to the relationships you have with others. Here are some things you can do to unblock and open your heart chakra if you suspect you might have an under active one.


4 Practical Things to Do When It Isn't So Easy to Love Yourself

Self-love is not a destination—it’s a continuous process that lasts a lifetime. And while it feels much easier to love yourself when everything is going right in your life, the truth is that it’s a totally different story when things aren’t going so right.

The tricky part about genuine self-love is making it unconditional. If you only really love yourself when it feels like your life is in order or you’ve just achieved a desired goal, but turn on yourself when your make mistakes or face rejection—then you’re making self-love conditional.

Loving yourself through the messiness of life does not mean that you have to like what you’re currently facing. It does, however, require you to stop judging yourself and accept that your current experiences are happening for a reason.

 

1. Give yourself permission to take a break from yoga or tailor your practice to what you’re going through.

When life gets tough, you’ll only make things harder by expecting yourself to live up to all your normal responsibilities—and that includes yoga if you have a regular practice. Take some time off to process your emotions, focus on what you need to regain your sense of balance, and leave no room to feel guilty or ashamed about it.

As an alternative, you can shift the focus of your practice to help you with what you’re dealing with. For example, many classes offered by studios and online platforms focus on helping students cope with specific problems like stress, addiction, and even grief.

 

2. At the very least, commit to doing three basic healthy habits every day—without question.

Sometimes even the most basic day-to-day activities seem impossible to do in the midst of extreme hardship, so it can be worthwhile to make a short list of three things to accomplish every day at a bare minimum rather than overwhelming yourself too many to-do's. This list might look like this:

  1. Get dressed.
  2. Take a shower.
  3. Eat at least 2 meals.

Or it might look like this:

  1. Hug/kiss my partner before leaving for work.
  2. Meditate/pray for 1 minute.
  3. Go to bed by 10 o’clock tonight.

3. Find a healthy outlet for processing your darker thoughts and feelings, and don’t try to rush “getting over” them.

Most people would rather fill their downtime with distractions than sit silently with themselves, but it is only by the power of distraction-free solitude that we can truly tune into ourselves and begin the process of healing from whatever we’re facing. A little a day can go a long way over time and save yourself from suppressed negativity that affects you years and years down the road.

Start spending at least 5 minutes a day in distraction-free solitude and silence. From there, gently increase your time limit as needed and consider moving toward journaling your thoughts, talking to yourself out loud, or allowing yourself to fully embrace all of your negative emotions by crying, screaming, cursing, or even punching a pillow if you feel the need.

 

4. Get support from friends, relatives, community members, or professionals.

Turning to others in difficult times is not about seeking validation or hoping that somebody else can solve your problems for you. Instead, it’s about getting out of your own mind by broadening your self-perception through the lens of others’ perspectives and considering ideas that you'd be less likely to become aware of all on your own.

Even though only you have the power to cultivate the self-love you deserve, connecting with other people can help open you up to new information, meanings, lessons, and even solutions based on their personal knowledge and experience. After all, just because it’s called “self”-love doesn’t mean the entire journey is a solo one!


February's Theme: Love Yourself

“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire Universe, deserve your love and affection.” ~Buddha

There’s more to self-love than feeling good enough to spoil yourself with lavender bubble baths, luxurious massages, and generous spending sprees on organic/non-GMO foods. As a matter of fact, self-love is more of an active process than it is a “feel good” state.

To love yourself means to appreciate your growth potential from the actions you decide to take in the current moment for the good of your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being. Everyone loves themselves at the very core of their being because it’s simply nature, but the beliefs we form throughout our lives about ourselves based on social conditioning tend to draw us away from our natural state of self-love.

Anyone can practice self-love. It might not lead to instant good feelings, but it certainly has the power to affect your thoughts and feelings about yourself with regular practice over time.

Here are three big tips to always remember and prioritize in your self-love journey.

 

Practice Self-Compassion Until It Becomes a Habit

When it comes to self-love, the old adage “fake it til you make it” isn’t necessarily the fastest or most effective strategy. In fact, focusing only on what you like about yourself while ignoring what you don’t like about yourself could backfire on your self-esteem levels.

Research has shown that self-compassion—the practice of stopping all judgment of yourself, accepting yourself fully, and being kind to yourself regardless of what you do or don’t like—is the real key to feeling motivated to work on improving yourself. It starts with noticing that critical voice inside your head and consciously replacing it with a voice that sounds more like a caring friend.

 

Make Your Own Rules About What It Means to Show Yourself Some Love

There are countless books, articles, videos, and even courses you could use to learn how to love yourself more, but when it comes straight down to it, only you can know exactly what you need to truly cultivate more love. When it comes to self-love, there are no rules—only the rules you make uniquely for you and your needs.

Self-love can be cultivated in activities as basic as showering and making time to eat or as extravgent as going on a cruise and buying a whole new wardrobe. Just because certain actions work for one person doesn’t mean they’ll necessarily work for you, so be open to experimenting with various self-love rituals and take note of how they make you feel afterward.

 

Follow the Universal Law of Exchange to Cultivate Even More Love

When you love yourself a little more, you’ll naturally feel compelled to share it. The law of exchange states that the energy you put out into the world will flow back to you, so spreading the love that you’ve cultivated for yourself among others will undoubtedly help you cultivate even more love for yourself.

Simple actsof kindness like a smile here or a thank you there definitely count. Of course, the greater your acts of kindness and generosity that you genuinely feel compelled to express, the greater love you’ll feel for yourself not just as a separate individual existing in society, but as a unique expression of life connected to everyone and everything else around you.


3 Simple Ways to Unblock and Open Your Heart Chakra

3 Simple Ways to Unblock and Open Your Heart Chakra

With the start of a new year and Valentine’s Day well on its way, it’s natural to feel a strong desire to seek out connections with other people now perhaps more than ever—even if the task seems daunting and you fear the potential risks of vulnerability, awkwardness, disappointment, and even rejection that come with getting close to someone (and letting them get close to you too).

The heart chakra is the energy center that governs your sense of love, compassion, and beauty. Signs of a blocked heart chakra include relationships that feel draining, shyness, loneliness, difficulty forgiving, and difficulty empathizing with others.

By learning to heal and open your heart chakra, you’ll slowly begin to radiate more love, compassion, and beauty from the inside out—in addition to attracting these energetic qualities back to you from the people you surround yourself with.

Here are some things you can do to start clearing those blockages and opening your heart chakra, just in time for the eventual arrival of spring!

 

1. Accept your emotions, express them, and them let go.

At the root of a blocked heart chakra is emotional repression, so if you want to learn to love freely and openly, you have to get in touch with your emotions—including the ones you don’t want to feel. Once you’ve accepted that you’re feeling a certain way, try exploring and expressing them in some of the following ways:

  • Journaling or writing a letter to yourself
  • Meditating
  • Talking out loud to yourself (and you can even cry, scream, or punch a pillow if you need to)
  • Drawing, painting, or doodling
  • Listening to music
  • Creating art

It may take many bouts of emotional expression to fully get everything out, but beware of clinging to your emotions and getting stuck in a never-ending cycle of emotional turmoil rather than choosing to let them go. If the way you’re feeling and expressing yourself starts to feel more like a bad habit than a natural healing process, it’s time to consciously choose to put your emotions behind you so you can move forward.

 

2. Show your love to yourself, another person, animal, or Mother Nature in one small way every single day.

Small daily actions account for big changes over time. If you can strive to take just one small action every day that’s an expression of love, it can become a habit that has the power to completely transform your heart energy center for the better.

Here are a few suggested small daily actions you could take:

  • Hug your partner/spouse or tell them something you love about them
  • Call your mom or other relative
  • Check in with an old friend over Facebook or text message to see how they’re doing (and maybe ask to meet and catch up)
  • Play with your dog or take him/her for a nice long walk
  • Put a bird feeder out in a safe area of your yard
  • Pick up one piece of trash in any public place and bring it to the trash or recycle bin

 

3. Practice chest opening yoga poses.

When it comes to healing and opening your heart chakra, don’t forget to integrate it with your yoga practice! Since the heart chakra is located in the center of the chest, chest opening poses are ideal for opening and strengthening this energy center.

Poses you’ll want to incorporate into your practice include:

  • Sphinx pose (Salamba Bhujangasana)
  • Cobra pose (Bhujangasana)
  • Upward facing dog pose (Urdhva mukha svanasana)
  • Cow pose (Bitilasana)
  • Fish pose (Matsyasana)
  • Locust pose (Salabhasana)
  • Bow pose (Dhanurasana)
  • Camel pose (Ustrasana)
  • Upward bow pose (Urdhva Dhanurasana)