Posts by Yogi Elisabeth Walter

Let’s Get Real | Yoga for Connection

Posted on: March 30th, 2016
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Connection starts with you. You can be a teacher. You can be a friend. Your stories can transform, heal, comfort and help others grow. Your story matters. Share your story and connect to others by becoming a Yogi Blogger.

 

Sanctuary Yoga is about community. Authenticity builds connection. In order to make yoga more accessible, we offer many ways to get involved, including blogging for unlimited yoga. This yoga trade program has allowed many individuals to deepen their practice by sharing their story, whether by exploring something they learned in class or within their own personal practice. This aspect of our studio not only builds community but cultivates a culture of authenticity that shows people that it’s okay to be vulnerable and real. Everyone has a different yoga practice because everyone has a different body and life experience.

Why share my story?

In our culture, we typically rush to and from yoga class without saying a word to anyone in the studio. Talking about our experiences in class seems to go against the very practice we’ve been taught. Yoga is about drawing inward. What happens in yoga class stays in yoga class. The studio is a safe space for you to find stillness and connect with yourself. Keep in mind everyone else is probably there for some of the same reasons you are. Everyone wants to be healthy, change, grow, and improve. Everyone has deep hurts and hangups.

Many of you have probably watched the TED Talk of Brene Brown speaking about vulnerability. If you have not, we encourage you to do so. Brene shows us that vulnerability encourages connection. Sometimes we need to move past the screen and seek out quality time for deep conversation. We find ourselves surrounded by many connections, but still feel isolated and alone. The willingness to share who we are, our struggles past and present, enables us to connect with others who share our experiences and sentiments. It transcends the imaginary walls we’ve built around ourselves to keep everything looking neat, tidy, pretty.

Sharing your experience is powerful because it not only encourages connection, but it can be healing and comforting to you and others. As a yoga studio, we strive to hold a space for our students to be who they are, wherever they are at in their life. We invite you to sit with the emotions or experiences that are on your heart and mind and use your breath and movement to be present as we move through the class. We challenge you to look at the places where you need to let go and free yourself to feel, breathe, and move. We want you to feel safe to just be you.

“As a result of authenticity, they were willing to let go of who they thought they should be in order to be who they were… You have to absolutely do that for connection.”

–Brene Brown

If you are interested in reading other perspectives or experiences related to yoga, check out this list of yoga blogs from all over the U.S.

 

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Source:rebateszone

 

 

 

Private Yoga Instruction | Start Where You Are

Posted on: March 29th, 2016
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Are you looking to get more out of your yoga practice? Sanctuary is now offering private yoga instruction to invite students to deepen their practice by working one-on-one with some of Austin’s best yoga teachers.

All of our teachers have different backgrounds as unique as each student in order to better serve our community. We offer these private sessions in the comfort of a quiet space above the studio, surrounded by a canopy of trees.

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Life happens. Whether you are a new or experienced yogi, you may have obstacles within your body and your mind, perhaps from a difficult experience or injury. It can be hard to know how to modify your physical practice or learn how to quiet your mind without the help of a guide. Private yoga instruction will give you the tools to start where you are.

Benefits of Private Yoga Instruction:

  1. Awareness: Often times we go through the motions of yoga class without recognizing what is actually happening in our bodies. If it feels good, we keep moving. If it doesn’t feel good, we back off. This is just brushing the surface. When you practice alongside your teacher, you can get feedback about how you’re moving and learn ways to move more consciously, mindfully through your practice.
  2. Anatomy: Hopefully you are not currently dealing with any injuries, but as you get older, your likelihood to have issues in your body increases. That being said, the more you know, the better! Our teachers can teach you alignment principals and help you to learn to modify your practice according to what your body needs. Your practice will change as life changes, so understanding the inner-workings of your body is important to help you know when to back off and know when to challenge yourself. Private yoga instruction is also a fantastic way to learn what to do with injuries and stress.
  3. Tools: Have you ever wanted to develop an home practice? Learn sequences that you can take with you that will help you build towards that inversion you’ve been working towards. Want to learn how to do restorative yoga at home? Learn poses to calm your nervous system that you can practice after work. It’s a teacher’s job to give students to tools that enable and empower students to be successful in their practice. Want to learn how to meditate? We’ll guide you through it and give you tips along the way!

Your yoga practice has the potential to keep you well and sane during some of the most stressful times. Your practice can help ground you and show you where you’re stuck. Having the tools and knowledge will help you to know when to chill out and when to challenge yourself, on and off the mat. Our yoga teachers want you to succeed, whether it’s learning to do a hand stand or learning to relax.

Start where you are! Register online today!

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Wash Away the Day | Late Night Restorative Yoga

Posted on: March 11th, 2016
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We need restorative yoga. Rarely do we pause between tasks to stretch our bodies and sit silently without the pressure of our many obligations. Throughout the day we scatter our energy, finding our minds and bodies drained while still worrying about what’s left on the “to-do” list.

When practicing restorative – or yin – yoga, we position ourselves in a place to let go and receive. Our brains may not be actively thinking, but our body is still processing. All of the information, memories and thoughts from the day dissipate as the body stretches our deep muscle tissues into a relaxed state. While there are some things that need to be discussed and picked apart through conversation, others require space; we must create distance from the day’s events.

How is restorative yoga different from other yoga classes?

In vinyasa, we move with our breath through each posture, actively stretching muscles and building strength. In restorative yoga, we are still stretching the muscles, but we are doing so passively. Passive stretching can only happen when the entire body is relaxed. Focusing on the breath to quiet the mind also calms the physical body. As the muscles ease into stillness, the teacher guides you through a series of postures designed to unbind tightened muscle tissue in areas such as the hips, lower back, and chest and shoulders. Using the support of pillows and blankets, we help you find the most comfortable position to receive and release.

Practicing restorative yoga before bed is extremely beneficial for preparing the mind and body for rest. We’re offering this late night class as a space for you to be filled with peace and to release any remaining tension in your body and your mind. If you are looking to open up in some of the tighter places of your body, this class is fantastic for deep stretching. Though you may not feel the sensations in your relaxed state, you will open up deep muscle tissues that cannot be accessed in an active yoga class.

So come wash away the day and ease into stillness. Your body will thank you for it.

Class offered every Wednesday from 10:30pm – 11:30pm

Register for Class Here

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Take a Hike! | Saturday Greenbelt Yoga

Posted on: March 4th, 2016
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Yoga Hike Austin

Yoga comes from the sanskrit word “yuj” which means “to yoke,” uniting mind, body and spirit. The combination of physical movement and intentional rest create peace in our bodies by giving us a release and grounding us. When we integrate yoga with hiking in the greenbelt we get to experience a greater depth in our practice! And it’s fun!

Our yoga hike on Saturday mornings combine the energy we share as a class in the studio with the energy of the sun and the earth. All levels of yoga practitioners and hikers will enjoy exploring the many paths of the greenbelt while making friends and stretching out under a big Texas sky.

Fresh Air.

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Warm Sun.

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Discover something new.

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So, where is this Greenbelt yoga hike?

The greenbelt is always a nice way to get away without having to drive too far. We meet every week at the entrance off of Spyglass and Mopac near the Taco Deli. Just wear comfortable clothes, sunscreen and good walking or hiking shoes.

Who says yoga can’t be social? Community is so important, and spending time with good people in nature doing something you love is the cherry on top. Getting outside is so important as well. We all need a healthy dose of vitamin D to support that immune system to keep your body happy, healthy and hopefully free from allergies! Come take a hike with us and see what it’s all about. Click on the link below to register!

Yoga Hike Sign Up

“Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit, and as vital to our lives as water and good bread.”

— Edward Abbey

Stillness is Your Teacher – When Injuries Slow You Down

Posted on: February 26th, 2016 By:
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After a recent trip overseas, I returned home exuberant and full of ideas. My mind raced in every direction, looking for the next step, an answer or opportunity. A couple weeks after I returned I broke my foot and tore a ligament when I was feeling my strongest, although probably not my wisest. I was climbing at a bouldering gym and slipped at the top of a route, crashing 15 feet onto my left foot. A few weeks later I had surgery. In the stillness of the intense moments before and after going under the knife, memories from a past relationship came to light.

As I unpacked the emotions, the regret, the sorrow, I removed layers to discover the truth. In order to heal, I had to forgive. I had no choice but to fully acknowledge the experience for what it was, accepting it, grieving it, and then choosing to release and let go. As Alan Watts says, you change the meaning of the past by forgiving someone. There is room for compassion, loving kindness and freedom when you forgive. It’s a process and a practice, similar to mindfulness. It is also a choice that allows us to live more fully in the present.

In the past couple of months of limited mobility, sitting has become a regular activity. At first I resisted, which made things much more difficult and frustrating. But when I recognized that I could learn and grow in this place, I shifted my attention on reading books, articles and watching videos to help my spirit move forward. I learned how to modify my yoga practice. And when I was ready for the real challenge, I began to practice meditation, starting with a guided meditation centered on forgiveness.

Stillness shows us where we’re stuck. It challenges us to sift through the leftovers of the past, self-judgement, and any other place where we have turned a blind eye. We can continue to choose to avoid, but the relief from addressing these areas of our lives is so much more life giving. We can’t let go until we understand what we’re releasing and acknowledge the purpose it served us in the past. We have to be willing to feel the discomfort, but also see that it’s a choice to continue to hold on.

Today in my busy, scattered thoughts, I felt the sense that I needed to embrace the present by sitting in stillness. Maybe take a few moments to reflect on how you’ve grown and who you have become. There is so much pressure to be more, do more and improve ourselves, but pausing to appreciate who you are today is worth your time. Let your mind and your spirit be still.

“When you are in doubt, be still, and wait; when doubt no longer exists for you, then go forward with courage. So long as mists envelop you, be still; be still until the sunlight pours through and dispels the mists — as it surely will. Then act with courage.”  – Ponca Chief White Eagle

Surrender to the present moment, remembering that you are exactly where you need to be.

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Stillness in yoga allows us to release and let go.

Learning to Fall

Posted on: April 23rd, 2015 By:
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“To Live is to fly… low and high… shake the dust off of your wings and the sleep out of your eye.”

For some reason or another, I have been wanting to write a blog about falling for quite some time. Well, I got to fall a little bit lately. In life, on my mat and in love. It kind of sucks. Very tiring, ya know? Mostly because I always keep trying to pick myself up. For right now I’m letting myself stay down and just kind of revel in it. It feels kind of sweet to just be honest about how I’m not really feeling great and just be. At least it’s real. You could say I’m flying low right now, or you could just say I fell over and I don’t quite feel like getting up.

When I fall, I fall hard. Sometimes I get injured. Sometimes I cry. I always I get back up eventually. When I love, when I live, when I practice, I do it whole-hardheartedly. I’m not into half-assing. It really seems very pointless to me. It’s walking between the present moment and distant memory, or maybe some fantasy that will never actually come into fruition. But it’s not really living life now. It’s the in between, the almost… It’s the not-quite-ready, under-baked, moist center of a cake that would have tasted great, but no one bothered to cook it long enough so everyone’s just eating around the gooey part.

In yoga class, when you half-ass a pose, you never fall. You’re safe for the most part, but sometimes you injure yourself because you’re not fully engaging the muscles that will protect you, thus straining joints and ligaments that were never meant to support you in that way. You also never fly. If you’re going to rest, rest. If you’re going to spread your wings, do it with boldness. You might fall, but when did that ever become a scary thing? You’ve felt it before. You’ve figured it out and gotten through it. As Guy Clark puts it, “He did not know he could not fly and so he did.”

Sometimes I’m not willing to take the risk. I feel that internal shakiness, as if I’m walking on a wire, alternating between looking down, seeing how far I could fall and staring straight ahead at exactly where I want to go. If I can just keep stepping forward and forget about what I have to lose and just focus then I know I’ll get there. Rooting to rise. Sometimes my roots feel like they’re dangling in mid air, suspended by gravity and nothing more. But isn’t that kind of exciting? I guess it’s a little scarier when you don’t feel rooted and you don’t know where you’re going. I feel that. I also remember that my root is in my core. It’s who I am. It’s that deep sense of safety, peace, and understanding that no matter what happens or what I choose, everything will be just fine. I’m safe within myself. The way I experience life is up to me.

So why not fall a little? Be shaky. Be awkward and uncomfortable for just a few moments of your life. Embrace it. And how about letting the goal be where you are, to be present there and find a place a of peace about how strange life is? That’s part of the beauty. The never knowing, always changing nature of the universe can inspire us just as much as it can freak us out. I guess the choice is ours. Maybe we can see falling as just a great a success as spreading our wings and taking the leap.

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Breathe and let go

Posted on: January 29th, 2015 By:
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I’m a person who has experienced a wide variety of changes. Sometimes more frequently than I think I can handle. Recently I experienced an unexpected change in my job. When it was gone, I was okay. The part that I was not okay with was the future I had dreamed that I will have with the career if I had stayed. This dream has made it difficult to fathom other lines of work and has also propelled me back into teaching yoga.

You see, every time I have attempted teaching yoga (twice) I have been held back by something. Fear. I enjoy teaching, so the scariest part for me has been the financial side. Not always knowing when you’ll get paid or if it will be what you expected. The corporate world provides stability, comfort and predictability. It’s safe.

So here I am contemplating the meaning of life for myself. Here is what I’ve found to be the key ingredients I’m seeking in my search:

1) Freedom

2) Control

3) Influence

4) Knowledge

When I am teaching yoga, helping and have the freedom and control to be authentic and real, without constraints of too many policies, regulations and schedules, I’m a pretty happy camper.

How do I achieve these elements? Letting go. That means, I set my intention to the universe, I search for what I want and I am willing to say no to the things that don’t align. Sounds simple enough? It’s hard. People will constantly tell you what you should do and having the discernment to know what’s best for you is really difficult.

During this transition, I turn to my yoga practice for solace. My breath will always be there to calm me. And when I’m on my mat I can prove my strength and accept my weaknesses. There is space. When I practice yoga I can experience all of the main ingredients that give me fulfillment and peace.

It takes effort to let go most of the time. But when I experience moments of clenching and clinging tightly, I am learning to observe. I’m learning to release. I can hold on to fear and anxiety or I can let those things go to make room for things that serve me. I’ll never be safe in the future or the past, but in the present moment, when I am fully awake and aware, that’s where I can find peace. And when I can’t find it, I can embrace the sound of my breath, calming me like an ocean, giving me the space to just be.

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My Daily Yoga Practice

Posted on: January 1st, 2015 By:
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I feel like every time I blog about something I end up dishing out advice. Truth is, I’m not just preaching to you guys, but I’m preaching to myself.

I surround myself with positive people, quotes, reminders, and books so that I don’t get depressed and lose myself in my bad habits and negative thinking. I practice yoga for a gazillion reasons, but one of them being that it holds me together. Before yoga there was running, rock climbing, lacrosse, soccer, ballet… I’ve always had something that I practiced regularly to help keep me sane.

But what if everything I need to keep calm goes away? Just thinking about it raises my heart rate. At least I have my breath. What if everything hits at once? Job, family, relationship, car, weather… Okay, been there before. First I’ll probably cry. I might call my dad or best friend… and then eventually I’ll listen to my breath. I close my eyes and I picture a wave, rising and falling. I imagine myself riding the wave, feeling the water on my skin, and relaxing into the peaceful rhythm as the waves rock me back and forth. And I remember, everything is temporary. This feeling won’t last. My situation will change.

It’s funny how when things suck I desperately want change. But when things suddenly change, I freak out. I’ve been getting injured more often over the past couple of years, and it finally dawned on me that I’ve been pushing myself too hard. I physically go to my edge and beyond whenever I have the opportunity. And when I’m injured, it’s hard for me to accept that time, space and doing nothing are sometimes the best solution. Working with what I have is my yoga practice. Being honest with myself, learning to modify or take a break is all I can do. I don’t know when I will heal, but I can be open and expect good things.

Allowing life to happen, even in the ways we don’t want it to, is extremely challenging. It not only takes patience, but acceptance, and trust too. Sometimes I got it, sometimes I don’t. It’s a practice. I’m learning that life doesn’t have to make sense or give me a map for me to be able to accept it as is.

“I have come to accept the feeling of not knowing where I am going. And I have trained myself to love it. Because it is only when we are suspended in mid-air with no landing in sight, that we force our wings to unravel and alas begin our flight. And as we fly, we still may not know where we are going to. But the miracle is in the unfolding of the wings. You may not know where you’re going, but you know that so long as you spread your wings, the winds will carry you.” –C. Joybell C.

Adventures don’t always have a guide or an itinerary. My favorites have been when I was wandering around, open to whatever came next. Let’s be open to a new adventure this year and be grateful for the ones we’re on right now, however uncomfortable they may be.

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The Universe will Catch you

Posted on: December 14th, 2014 By:
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Laying on the ground I feel a resistance. I don’t want to be still, my mind is racing and my tummy is rumbling. I feel the floor and listen to my breath. Focusing on the rise and fall, the sound of a wave, my muscles soften and I embrace the firm cushion of the ground beneath me. Smooth and still, it sits, waiting for me to fall. Waiting for me to bounce back. It is constant, secure, safe.

Savasana is a place where we seal our practice and open our hearts, arms, hands and soles of our feet to the universe. We let go of whatever did or didn’t happen that day and release. Opening ourselves to a force greater and more powerful than us is scary. Relinquishing our fears to the unknown is even more daunting. We don’t know what we’ll end up with or where it will take us.

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” —Anaïs Nin

Giving the universe or God the opportunity to hold us steady gives us the chance to succeed, grow and become who we were designed to be. Holding on to past experiences and negative thoughts only hold us back, physically and emotionally. Imagine a tree who was too afraid to stretch it’s roots through the soil because it was scared it might hit a rock or a spider… or if it didn’t want to extend its branches high in fear of getting struck by lightening. Without deep roots it couldn’t grow as expansive and without reaching it’s branches there would be no leaves, flowers or fruit.

So what do we have that a tree doesn’t have? A brain, thoughts, mobility, emotions, opposable thumbs… okay so we’re clearly very different, but it’s these differences that hold us back in life. Our hearts and minds are always holding on to something. What does the tree do? It stands strong, digging it’s roots through turmoil to build a firm foundation. It accepts what is, where it is and plants itself so that is can flourish.

All this being said, let’s try to have the courage to be like the tree. You don’t always have to be running to or from something to be going somewhere. You don’t always have to move quickly through vinyasas in yoga class. You don’t even have to be productive all the time. Sometimes you just gotta plant your roots, extend your branches and remember that the universe will provide. You are safe and secure and it’s okay to let go.

 

 

Pressing the Reset Button

Posted on: September 7th, 2014 By:
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“A kind gesture can reach a wound that only compassion can heal.” ― Steve Maraboli

One of the reasons I practice yoga is that it teaches me compassion. It builds my confidence, makes me stronger and challenges me to notice when I’m being too hard on myself… even in yoga class. Sometimes when the teacher demonstrates poses, I get jealous. “Oh my gosh I can’t lift my leg that high!” And for a moment I feel discouraged. I may never be able to point the toes on my back foot straight up to the ceiling in standing splits… but that’s okay. Just as we often hear in class, I tell myself, everyone’s body is different. We were all designed differently to be able to do different things. Different is good. I might have a little regret for running long distance, playing lacrosse and soccer instead of following through with ballet and starting yoga at a younger age. Yes, I do think about that sometimes as silly as it sounds. But, I may be one of the few yogis who can still play sports and run, even if I can’t bend in the same ways, and I’m starting to think that’s cool too.

Yoga helps me to reset. When I come to my mat, I am able to hear the truth. In class, I open myself up to listen to words that challenge me. “Let go… Set aside the things that don’t serve you… Only go to your edge…” The more I hear these words, the more I am able to embrace them as truth and begin to live by them. The motivation and encouragement each teacher speaks pushes me to work harder and also to give myself a break when I need to. Practicing yoga allows me to cultivate compassion towards myself. And as I begin to speak kinder words to myself and let go of thoughts of comparison and regret or anything else that doesn’t serve me, I have much more freedom to offer the same kindness to others.

“Our task must be to free ourselves… by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and it’s beauty.” ― Albert Einstein

You have to start somewhere. The real goal is to have more space to offer compassion to others… not only empathy, but action. Flexible spine, flexible mind. Think about it. The more open you are in your body, the more receptive you can be to others. Pretty sweet, huh?

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