Posts by Yogi Heather Holland

Share Your Voice

Posted on: October 4th, 2018 By:
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SHARE YOUR VOICE

Have you had an experience at Sanctuary Yoga that has impacted your life on or off the mat? We invite you to share your voice. Every now and then a student leaves a message of their experience at Sanctuary that is so heart warming, it would be wrong not to share.

beautiful fall leaves on the ground

Are these leaves any less beautiful when carried away by the breeze?

Yoga practice can be a very personal and private journey, as we all are on our own path.  Simultaneously, we are all in this together.

So, today’s post is extra special because there are two student reviews of Sanctuary Yoga we are delighted to share with you. From an anonymous student, here is the first heartwarming message:

Student email:
I just want to share how much comfort Sanctuary Yoga has given to me since I started attending earlier this summer.  It’s been a difficult stretch of time for me this year, going through a separation and now a divorce.  I’ve always struggled with connecting to the yoga practice.  My office offers free sessions on site every week and I don’t even attend because yoga has always stressed me out.  I forget to breathe, I worry about holding the poses, and I just can’t seem to find any release.  Attending a New Moon Restorative Workshop / Sound Bath at Sanctuary once night completely changed my perception of what yoga could be.  I have been attending Restorative sessions every Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday night with you ever since and I can’t tell you what a gift it has been to me.  Learning to find healing in the stillness and quiet has been sustaining and truly restorative.  Your diverse instructors are all so caring and bring something special to each session.  I look forward to this routine of mine every week.

The power of WOrd

With the right intention, one word can lift the heart and spirit.

Community voice is something we need to share and encourage. The power of word is incredible. There is a reason why world leaders and public figures are known for their speeches. It leaves an emotional impact. The same can be said for a simple review or message about your experiences in our community.

Words are transformative to our wellbeing. Thoughts become our words. Words become our actions. Actions become our habits, and so on…

It becomes a ripple effect. What kind of ripple would you like to create in the world? For this reason, we must think before we speak.

And also for this reason, when we receive something so kind and thoughtful, sharing it back is a gift. It becomes another positive ripple. Here is the second review from a student named Jim:

Hello,

Wow!!  I’ve just moved back to Austin less than a month ago and live right next to [another yoga studio.]  It had felt so sterile I decided to check out this donation based studio everyone seemed to love, Sanctuary Yoga.  I had to uber there for fear of getting lost.
Where has this place been all of my life??  Seriously.  I was lost outside and two really nice people helped me find it and Alec’s class was nothing short of perfect.  The studio itself is this fantastic little slice of heaven in the middle of chaos.  It was truly unlike any other studio I’ve ever visited in my 2.5 years of practicing.  Such a warm and chilled out vibe, the aesthetics are dreamy and the students attending the class were extremely kind and welcoming.
I plan on making Alec’s Monday night class a staple and on the way home signed up for a Wednesday night class, skipping tonight only to attend a dinner party.  I’m hooked and wonder how anyone could ever practice in those cookie cutter, corporate-esque studios again after experiencing Sanctuary.  I walked away in wonderment, realizing this is where I want to practice yoga every time.  It was that impactful.
Thank you for your follow up.  I’ve been telling people about it all morning.  Have a great afternoon and I look forward to seeing you guys tomorrow night.
Jim Ward

WhAt IS ALL THE EXCITEMENT ABOUT? WHo and What is Sanctuary Yoga?

The more I learn about Sanctuary Yoga, the more I love it. The more my heart grows. Cheesy but true. Here is a little about the studio:

Sanctuary Yoga is a nonprofit studio using awareness and movement to build an equitable, inclusive, and compassionate community.  Sanctuary is a refuge from the fast-paced world of competition, stress, and individual pursuits. It is a place to slow down, breathe, be kind to your body and mind, and admire an ancient tree.  To be fair, this picture below really doesn’t do any justice to the size and beauty of this ancient oak. No gimmick here. Just Mother Nature.

An ancient tree shades and inspires through our sacred space

An ancient tree shades and inspires through our sacred space

 

Wait, a nonprofit yoga studio?

Now, this information is something extra special that I’m excited to share with you. It is actually how I first discovered Sanctuary Yoga in my journey.  I was researching different local Austin non-profits at the time, and this truly captured my attention. Having volunteered for a few different events, I personally can say this is a non-profit that I trust.

Proceeds from Sanctuary’s classes benefit the youth programs of the Amala Foundation, meaning your practice makes it possible for youth from diverse cultural, racial, and socioeconomic backgrounds to come together to connect, grow, and serve as conscious leaders.

Welcome to Sanctuary Yoga and the Amala Foundation, where your practice starts a ripple.

I hope this post has brought you some joy today. Whether you have never stepped foot inside a yoga studio and are just exploring, or you are a seasoned yogi familiar with Sanctuary Yoga or The Amala Foundation, welcome home.  Welcome to the ripple!

When a student leaves a message or review that is so moving, we cannot help but share it! Do you have any experiences at Sanctuary Yoga or The Amala Foundation you would like to share? Send us an email or comment below!

Namaste.

Joy.

What is yoga to you?

Posted on: September 4th, 2018 By:
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What is yoga to you? We see the word painted on windows. On t-shirts. Online. Nearly everywhere it seems. Many things ares associated with yoga in our modern world, but what is yoga? What is yoga to you?

Young woman silhouette practicing yoga on the sea beach at sunset

Young woman silhouette practicing yoga on the sea beach at sunset, Photo by Sanctuary Yoga

Hmmm. I suppose it depends who you ask. Is this a loaded question or a simple question? Perhaps this is a question that springs other questions. Where to find the answers? There are many paths. In text and in experience. Many books have been written about yoga, with deep philosophical examination. In this post, we can ask ourselves a few questions to explore what yoga means to us. So, what is yoga?

Where Did you First Discover Yoga?

We all stumble upon things in life at different times and for different reasons. Maybe you first discovered yoga in a gym, or in a philosophical book. Maybe you’ve noticed athletic focused yoga studios popping up around your town. Maybe you know someone or several people who practice yoga. Maybe you have been practicing for years on your own path (there are many paths and styles of yoga), but what is yoga?

to yoke

One of the six orthodox systems of Indian philosophy, yoga has been around for many years. Derived from the Sanskrit root word yuj, the word yoga means to to yoke, join or bind; union or communion, to use and apply; to concentrate or direct one’s attention to.

To me, yoga is a lifestyle. Yoga is a ladder with no end. Sometimes we fall off and climb back up. Sometimes we have climbed so high, but the view becomes foggy. It is uncertain what to do or where to go next. Maybe stillness is where to be. When you continue to climb, it may be astonishing to look back at where you began.

Food for Thought

I won’t leave you with an entire book today, but here are some quotes that may spark understanding or inspiration for your own definition of yoga.

Most often, these three words ‘mind, body, spirit’ are what I hear teachers refer to when describing the practice of yoga.

“Most of our fundamental attitudes to life have physical counterparts in the body.” ––Yehudi Menuhin

“Yoga is a timeless pragmatic science evolved over thousands of years dealing with the physical, moral, mental, and spiritual well being of man as a whole.” ––B.K.S. Iyengar

Lately, this is my favorite yoga quote I’ve come across:

“Yoga is deliberate disruption.” -original source unknown

 

What is yoga to you?

Answer in the comments below!

6 Reasons Why A Tennis Ball Is Your New Self Care Go To

Posted on: July 13th, 2018 By:
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Wilson? Is that you? No delusion here. Meet your new bestie: a tennis ball.

butterfly on tennis ball, photo by @zarakirkan on Instagram

butterfly on tennis ball, photo by @zarakirkan on Instagram

A Tennis Ball is a Self Care Shortcut

After attending a restorative yoga class where tennis balls were incorporated into the practice, I have never looked at tennis balls the same way. In the class we lay down on our backs, and placed the ball under our bodies. Beginning at the neck, we rolled over the balls to massage out knots and tension, progressively working our way down. This was a self controlled form of massage and trigger point release. I was hooked. Since then, I have continued this practice at home for several reasons.

1.Budget

While I would love to spend an evening receiving a massage at my favorite spa after a yoga class, that can get pretty pricey very quickly. Unless you have someone in your life such as a significant other or a friend who gives you free massages regularly, a great and low cost alternative is using a tennis ball underneath the weight of your own body. For only two to three dollars you can buy a three pack (prices vary on brand and store).

2. Schedule

You can have a massage whenever you want. Wherever you want. On your time. You decide! No rushing to an appointment, or waiting for someone to show up.

3. Portability

Oh the places you and your tennis ball will go. You can throw a tennis ball into your bag, bring it to the office and use it between your body and a wall.  You can bring it to Barton Springs and use it while laying out in the sun getting your tan. It’s up to you!

4. Self Guided

You are in control of the massage. You control the pressure, motion, and duration of massage. No more waiting and wondering when that masseuse is gonna get to that one spot. The spot. Ahhh.

5. Reusable

Tennis balls last a long time. You really have to work to destroy one. If that’s not the case for you, please comment below with your experiences.

6. Multi-purpose

Have a dog? Play tennis? Bored and just want to throw a ball at something? Have fun with it! Take that ball with you to Zilker Park, lay out on a picnic blanket, get your massage on, then if you don’t mind the drool, play fetch with your dog. Or enhance your baseball practice with your pet tiger. You don’t have to re-use those ones on yourself, but if you buy a tube of them, you still have plenty more for future use.

Calvin And Hobbes play baseball with a tennis ball, photo by Calvin And Hobbes 1989

Calvin And Hobbes play baseball with a tennis ball, comic/image by Calvin And Hobbes 1989

 

What other uses do you have for a tennis ball? Comment below!

It Hurts So Good

Posted on: July 6th, 2018 By:
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Have you ever heard someone say “It hurts so good” ? What context was it in? Hopefully it wasn’t related to fireworks. That being said, I hope everyone had a wonderful 4th of July.

there is a voice that doesn't use words. Listen

photo by Sanctuary Yoga

 

When it hurts so Good vs When it hurts so bad

While most of the time we would rather not experience pain, (haters of Pigeon pose, I’m looking at you) staying present in discomfort can actually be good for us. The longer you stay present in something, the less scary it becomes. Pain is often more mental than physical.

Pushing past our comfort zone does not mean we need to go to extremes seeking sensation. We always have to be careful not to push ourselves to injury. To mindfully work through discomfort is good for us. Sometimes staying in that discomfort a little longer is where real change happens. We become familiar with a part of ourselves in a new way. This is where we grow.  This is when it hurts so good.  This is where the journey really begins.

Find Your Edge

Whether a yoga pose, a personal goal, or a situation in your life, I invite you to challenge yourself. Find the sweet spot where you have discomfort. Ease into it. Hang out for a while. Make friends with it, and sink a little deeper. Soon enough you’ll find yourself saying, “it hurts so good.”

REWARD YOURSELF

Sun Tea the longer it steeps outside under blazing sun while on top of scorching concrete, the more vibrant the flavor and color develops.

Sun Tea: the longer it steeps outside under blazing sun while on top of scorching concrete, the more vibrant the flavor and color develops.

Just thinking about the transitions through discomfort, please be kind to yourself. Even in the smallest ways. We know it’s hot in Austin. It’s going to be hot for, umm, forever. This hibiscus-mint sun tea is my Summer go to for refreshment. Make time for those little rewards for yourself, better yet, share them!

Have a great weekend!

What Is True Compassion?

Posted on: June 28th, 2018 By:
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We often hear “to have compassion”, and not just compassion, but true compassion. But what does that mean? What is true compassion? Can it really be defined?

An open heart seeks through compassion to understand what the mind first cannot see.

An open heart seeks through compassion to understand what the mind first cannot see.

Webster says: Compassion is a sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it.

 

Put Yourself in Their Shoes

When someone is going through a difficult time in their life, or has experienced a great loss, we may find we have deep feelings to care for them or the situation. We may seek to have a better understanding and imagine if we were in their shoes.

For complex situations, we may find power in simplicity. No need to overthink. Simply take a moment to understand from another perspective. That may be an individual perspective, or even an entire culture. This simple exercise allows us to listen without judgement and with compassion.

When we listen with compassion we protect ourselves from absorbing toxic emotions, and it helps to alleviate the suffering of the other person. In this process we may sympathize or empathize through compassion. Both are terms that get confused for one another. So what does it all mean? We all experience these feelings at different levels, and at different times. When they are true, even deeper, is when the heart and mind are open selflessly. How can we understand true compassion?

 

Let’s break it down

Both sympathy and empathy are derived from the Greek word pathos.

What does Webster say?

Pathos: an element in experience or in artistic representation evoking pity or compassion; an emotion of sympathetic pity; etc.

Sympathy: an affinity, association, or relationship between persons or things wherein whatever affects one similarly affects the other; inclination to think or feel alike, emotional or intellectual accord; etc.

Empathy: the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another, the imaginative projection of a subjective state into an object so that the object appears to be infused with it; etc.

What does true compassion mean to you? Share your thoughts in the comment box below!

 

Active Meditation

Posted on: January 29th, 2018 By:
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Lately I have been meditating more often, primarily for the purpose of checking in with myself to see what comes up, or with an intention of grounding my energy. In times of stress, depression, or anxiety, meditation has particularly been helpful to build resilience. If the saying “all of life is meditation” is true, than how can we ensure we are practicing actively moment to moment?

COMFORTABLE FACING THE UNCOMFORTABLE

A challenge I revisit is simply walking and allowing myself to notice my surroundings. Truly notice. Not just the pretty things. To feel aware internally, and of my surroundings, fully mindfully present, is my intention. While some meditation can be deeply relaxing, sometimes it can be just the opposite, bringing the mind closer to the unpleasant. Becoming comfortable in the uncomfortable, is where I personally find the words “all of life is meditation” become action. I do not treat meditation as an escape. I view it as an active mindful practice.

NO MUD NO LOTUS

lotus flower in full bloom

lotus flower in full bloom

It’s not just an asana or book by Thich Nhat Hahn.

The lotus is a beautiful flower deeply rooted in mud, and blooms atop murky waters.

There is a hiking trail I take where stagnant water nearby sometimes smells terrible. I will avoid it. It is impossible not to notice. Just writing about it, I can smell it. It has now become a habit to speed up to get out of there as fast as possible, whether or not the smell has struck my nostrils. While excellent for sprinting, this simple act of avoidance mildly mimics the same instinct in the mind as trauma. Big or small, when an unpleasant emotion arises we can’t run from it in order for it to disappear. Of  course, no one wants to linger where it smells terrible, but avoidance of emotion only gets us further from a place of growth. Sometimes it is only a matter of seconds before I realize how far away I ran, wondering just how long I’d transfixed on what I’m supposed to get done in the day. Or what I didn’t the day before. Or why. And so on. Thoughts of past and present, samskaras (more on these inner patterns in a future post), creep into my quiet moments, screaming to stop wasting my time and get to work. Here, I realize I am only punishing myself, looking into the future, instead of actively living in the moment, observing the details so often taken for granted. It sounds so simple. Cliche even. The tiniest details are the very ones that could make all the difference in mentality, performance, and our overall growth or wellbeing.

 

Come to Your Breath

One of the easiest ways to come back to the immediate moment is to come to your breath. Breath is fundamental to life. The further we are from the breath, the further we are from living. Practicing different breathing techniques can become a healthy and transformative technique to incorporate into your practice.

 

Curious about meditation?

Drop in for 0915 AM Monday morning sessions offered at Sanctuary Yoga! Be sure to check the schedule here for any changes!

 

Posted on: December 18th, 2017 By:
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Last week’s Thought Box question calling to community was, “If your favorite yoga pose didn’t have a name, what would you call it?”

This question was inspired by yoga instructor Angelena Stokes-Wickersham, who playfully invited our class to try variations of postures including the all familiar action yet lesser known term watchasana,  or as she defines it, watching your neighbor.

If your favorite yoga pose didn't have a name, what would you call it?

If your favorite yoga pose didn’t have a name, what would you call it?

What personal nicknames for asanas (postures) did our community share?

Your Thoughts

Kiss The Sun (vrksasana) -Kate Gibbs, Sanctuary Yoga Teacher

“Kiss The Sun” (vrksasana) -Kate Gibbs, Sanctuary Yoga Teacher

“Fall” (tree pose)

“Naptime” (shavasana, or corpse pose)

“Downward Cat” (downward dog, except it’s a cat)

Upper down (hand stand)

Upper down (handstand)

*If you would still like to share your thoughts on this question, feel free to share in the comment section at the end of this post.

Question of the Week

Every week a new question will be posted. This week’s question:

This question will span over the next TWO weeks to give you more time to reflect. The question is: What fears have you overcome in 2017?  

inspirational quote what fears have you overcome in 2017?

*When submitting your thoughts, you may keep your name anonymous or use a real name or nickname if preferred.

Do you have a question you would like our community to share thoughts on? Comment below with your question!

 

Learn more about the Thought Box HERE:

 

Why do you meditate? And how?

Posted on: December 11th, 2017 By:
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Last week’s Thought Box question calling to community was, “Why do you meditate? And how? “This question is inspired by a special new morning class offered on Mondays: Meditation with Leticia Alvarez at 0900-0945 AM.

Maybe you meditate. Maybe you don’t. Maybe you are curious to learn more but don’t know where to start. Today we are dipping our toes into this topic by sharing your answers to this question.

The Thought Box , the question of the week is Why do You meditate? And how?

Question of the Week: Why do you meditate? And how?

 

Your Thoughts

Your Thoughts/ responses to question of the week: Why do you meditate? And how?

Your thoughts/ responses to question of the week: Why do you meditate? And how?

“To calm the swirling of the snow globe mind.” -Nadia

“Laying down with music for clarity.”

“Harmony and walking.”

“I meditate to find peace, calm, grounding, and my center in all situations.”

“Grounding the mind and sitting upright.”

“Outside for sunshine.”

 

 

 

*If you would still like to share your thoughts on this question, feel free to share in the comment section at the end of this post.

Question of the Week

Every week a new question will be posted. This week’s question: “If your favorite pose didn’t have a name, what would you call it?”

If your favorite yoga pose didn't have a name, what would you call it?

If your favorite yoga pose didn’t have a name, what would you call it?

*This question was inspired by yoga instructor Angelena Stokes-Wickersham, who playfully invited our class to try variations of postures, including the all familiar action yet lesser known term “watchasana”, watching your neighbor.”

*When submitting your thoughts, you may keep your name anonymous or use a real name or nickname if preferred.

 

Do you have a question you would like our community to share thoughts on? Comment below with your question!

 

Learn more about the Thought Box HERE:

 

What songs make you unconditionally happy?

Posted on: December 6th, 2017 By:
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Last week’s Thought Box question calling to community was, “What songs make you unconditionally happy?”

During the holiday season we often here heavily rotated commercial music. While not all holiday music falls into that category, I still find myself going out of my way to find new music. Because this time of year is also statistically the most depressing time of year, a little extra cheer is warmly welcomed.

So, what songs make you unconditionally happy?

Your Thoughts (SONGS)

"Beauty in The World" by Macy Gray

“Beauty in The World” by Macy Gray

“anything by Jimi Hendrix”

“The Way I am” by Ingrid Michaelson

“Alone” by Cody Jinks

“Here Comes the Sun” by The Beatles

“Walking On Sunshine” by Katrina and The Waves

“La Femme D’argent” by Air

"Don't Worry" by The Beach Boys

“Don’t Worry” by The Beach Boys

“Bailando” by Enrique Iglesias

“What a Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong

“Free Life” by Dan Wilson

“The Luckiest” by Ben Folds

“Anyway You Want It” by Journey

“Puff The Magic Dragon” by Peter Paul and Mary

“anything by the Shins”

“Your Love” by The Outfield

“Happy” by Pharrell

*If you would still like to share your thoughts on this question, feel free to in the comment section at the end of this post.

Question of the Week

Every week a new question will be posted. This week’s question(s): “Why do you meditate? And how?” 

The Thought Box , the question of the week is Why do You meditate? And how?

Question of the Week: Why do you meditate? And how?

*When submitting your thoughts, you may keep your name anonymous or use a real name or nickname if preferred.

 

Do you have a question you would like our community to share thoughts on? Comment below with your question!

 

Learn more about the Thought Box HERE:

 

What Are You Grateful For?

Posted on: November 20th, 2017 By:
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Last week’s question calling to community was, “What are you grateful for?”

QUESTION OF THE WEEK O NA CHALKBOARD HEART, ASKS WHAT ARE YOU GRATEFUL FOR?

WHAT ARE YOU GRATEFUL FOR?

Approaching Thanksgiving, this question is often asked during November. Ultimately this is a healthy question for us all to revisit often.

It is with great pleasure and gratitude to explore this question together. The question was written outside on the chalkboard heart, as well as inside the studio space on the Thought Box. So, how did our community at Sanctuary Yoga respond to last week’s question?

What are you grateful for?

What are you grateful for?

Your Thoughts

“My family.”

“Sanctuary Yoga.”

“Trees and puppies.”

"I am grateful to be surrounded by wonderful people."

“I am grateful to be surrounded by wonderful people.”

“New beginnings.”

“Ballet, family, friends, music.”

“For all that I have and for all that I don’t.”

"All of the cork blocks here!"

“All of the cork blocks here!”

“The Conscious Gifter’s Bazaar happening here Wednesday at 6-10 pm.”

“Life, nature, yoga.”

“My cat.”

“My dog.”

"The ebs and flows of life; Challenges/mistakes; every chaotic moment that lead you to where you are now."

“The ebs and flows of life; Challenges/mistakes; every chaotic moment that lead you to where you are now.”

“This studio.”

“Community.”

“The tree.”

"For my teachers and the time and resources to practice."

“For my teachers and the time and resources to practice.”

*If you would still like to share your thoughts on this question, feel free to in the comment section at the end of this post.

 

Question of the Week

Each Monday a new question will be posted. This week’s question is, “What song makes you unconditionally happy?” 

*When submitting your thoughts, you may keep your name anonymous or use a real name or nickname if preferred.

 

Do you have a question you would like our community to share thoughts on? Comment below with your question!

 

MORE THOUGHTS HERE:

Last week, the debut question asked was, “What does love and respect mean to you?”  

Learn more about the Thought Box, and see your thoughts in response to last week’s question here.