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  971 NW Spruce Ave Ste 101, Corvallis, OR  |  541-224-6566  |  My Account  |

11:32 am

Manifesting Change Step 2: Tapas ~ Discipline

“How often do I need to come to class?”  I was asked again yesterday.  A woman called the studio looking for a Pilates class. I asked her about her current health and fitness level. And did my best to match her with the class that best suited her needs.  I talked a little about studio etiquette and how much classes cost and then she asked: “How often do I need to attend?” To answer that question, I have to find out what her goals are.  Most people coming to class are seeking to change something.  If you are reading this, it is likely you are looking to change something: the size of your waist, your ability to handle stress, the pain you are feeling in your back or knees, or perhaps you are wanting to generally feel better all over and to increase your sense of wellbeing. Yoga and Pilates can help with all of that.  But it can only help to the level of your commitment.  If you want to see substantial change in your body, you need to practice regularly.  Here is what I have observed in my clients and some stories clients have told me about the benefits of their practice.
Frequency of Practice Teacher’s Observations Student’s Testimonials
Twice/month My students start being more comfortable in their bodies.  I see ease of movement, reduction of pain, and light in their eyes.  I don’t often see significant body mass change with this level of practice. “I just got back from the doctor and my blood pressure is down 20 points.” (after 5 months)
Once/week These students really start feeling a difference.  They know their bodies are changing as pain disappears and they become stronger and more flexible but the outward visual changes are small and slow. “My back pain is going away.” (at 6 weeks)
Twice/week These students quickly begin to look different. There is joy in their step.  Their whole bodies begin to smile in response to their practice. “I feel so much better and I’m starting to look better.”  (at 1 month)
Three or more times/week Transformation happens fast with this level of commitment.  Not only do bodies feel better, they outright glow.  People comment on how good they look and feel on a daily basis.  They get that ‘yoga glow.’ “Wow! Look at me. I have a waist again.  My back and shoulders don’t hurt any more.  I want to do this everyday!” (after 2 months)
The yoga precepts are prescriptions to manifest change and become our best selves.  The third of the prescribed behaviors is Tapas: discipline or heat.  Tapas is the drive we build in ourselves that brings us back to our mats. By naming Tapas as a Niyama, Pantajali acknowledge that it is not an easy path.  Showing up on the mat day after day takes discipline. We have to give something up, time, physical resources, and our apparent sense of freedom. We have to commit. There is an interesting feedback loop to the process. For, the more Tapas we generate, the easier it is to practice.  It is easier to sustain a practice of three times/week than it is a practice of once/week.  Tapas generates tapas.  Commitment generates commitment.  Practice becomes a habit, a positive addiction. “What kind of change do you want to see?”  I asked my phone caller yesterday.  She said she wanted to look better.  My reply, “If you really want to look better, then commit to coming to a class three times a week. Do a little Yoga, a little Pilates, mix in a dance class from time to time.  You will see change.”    Change will happen with a smaller commitment, but to really see the change, make a commitment.  Write it down and remind yourself of it daily. “What kind of change do you want to see?”  “How willing are you to commit to practice?”  “Can you cultivate discipline?”  “Can you make your practice a prioritiy on your calendar?” How did I find discipline?  Well, I started in the once/week category trying to moderate pain.  I had a back injury and I wanted to feel better.  Pretty quickly, I discovered that if I attended class twice a week, I felt much better and the pain stayed away between classes. Pain relief is a great motivator and builder of discipline.  I started enjoying my practice more, craving it.  I observed that if I practiced daily, I didn’t just feel better, I felt great.  Going to class everyday wasn’t possible for me at that point, so I started to build a personal practice.  I used the prescribed practices in “Light on Yoga” (Iyengar) and “Yoga the Iyengar Way” (Silva and Mehta).  I followed their directions, built my practice, and generated Tapas.  The heat, the discipline, of practice became self sustaining. With this process, I’ve changed my body and my life.  I like living in this body.  It brings me joy and pleasure.  The discipline to practice is no longer a struggle.  My practice is like my breath, an essential part of my day-to-day life.

1:17 pm


The fundamental premise of yoga is that we are already perfect and already enlightened. We've just forgotten. We are dusty and it is difficult to see the perfection inside. We've forgotten who we truly are. The practice of asana and meditation is intended to 'polish the brilliant gem of the self,' to dust us off so that we can see who we truly are. And in the process we come to see that those around us are also brilliant beautiful gems. At end of each class we bow our heads and say "Namaste." Roughly translated: "the brilliant gem in me bows to the brilliant gem in you." We begin by bowing to the gem within us, acknowledging our own perfection, and then acknowledging each other. With Namaste, we wake up: aha! I remember who I am. The dusty mirror clears and we see the true self that exists beyond the individual and connects us all. Take Namaste with you out into the world. Anywhere you find yourself, look around you. Notice all the perfect brilliant beings surrounding you. Nod your head in your own silent bow of Namaste. The world, and your life, will begin to shift. Now you are truly practicing yoga.

10:57 am

Manifesting Change

I going to admit something, I’ve been watching ‘The Biggest Loser.’  It is oddly fascinating.  I’m curious watching the trainers. I’m intrigued by how hard they push and the resulting personal breakthroughs of the contestants.  I’m amazed that the contestants can process such personal material, exercise, and be weighed in public and with a camera in their face.  I am repulsed by the idea of weight and weight loss as entertainment. I excuse my watching by making it an academic exercise.  I’m studying the show.  And I laugh at myself for that. With all of that as a preface, here is the juiciest thing I’ve learned, or had confirmed, by watching.  Bob Harper said something to the effect that personal change would happen by changing “ your thinking first, then your food, then your exercise.”  If we want to manifest change in our lives, we have to change our thinking first. And on this, Bob Harper and my yoga philosophy are in total agreement. Yoga is about manifesting change.  Pantajali’s yoga sutras are a prescription for manifesting change and becoming the people we desire to be.  Pantajali’s eight limbs are the structure on which change is built.  One foot of that structure is Svadyaya self study:  the willingness to look at one’s life and behaviors, uncritically, nonjudgmentally.  This is where we must begin to so that we can know how to change our thinking. So, step 1: To create change in your life, begin with self study and observation.  Don’t try to force the change. Watch yourself.  Watch your thinking.  Notice when things are difficult and when they are easy. What is the difference?  When do you slip?  What is going through your mind when you slip.  Start by documenting your thinking.  Suspend judgment. Give yourself a couple of weeks in this process of observing.  Keep a notebook with you.  Invite yourself to pause and reflect before: you eat, exercise, move, or do the behavior you are either trying to let go of or to embrace.  Observe the activity of your mind.  Invite a moment to pause in your life. Atha Yoganusasanam This begins the study of yoga. This is where we begin to become who we want to be. © Lisa Wells 2011

1:21 pm

Beginning Meditation

Scientific studies continue to document the benefits of meditation: from decreased stress to increased hippocampus grey matter, from increased attention and sensory processing capabilities to reduced blood pressure, from increased empathy to a general increase in the felt level of well-being.  An unscientific study by my friend Morgan found that a regular meditation practice actually created more time and spaciousness in his life.  My own personal experiments indicate that I am a happier and healthier human when I am meditate regularly. With such a wealth of benefits and no negative side effects, why aren't we all meditating daily? It seems the two biggest obstacles are:  creating time and knowing what to do.  I'll address both. You only need to set aside 10 to 15 minutes and even 5 minutes a day will make a difference.  Look for a time in your day when you can regularly commit to practice.  It is easiest to remember if it is the same time everyday.  The best way to be successful is to start with a small commitment that you know you can keep. To begin meditating: turn off the computer and your cell phone, turn off the radio or television. Find a comfortable physical position you can maintain while you meditate: either standing, sitting or lying down. Don't lie down if you are likely to fall asleep. An easy beginning practice is to listen to the sounds in your environment.  Notice the near sounds, the far sounds, the sounds within your body and the sounds outside your body.  Listen  without judgment. The sounds are not good or bad, they just are. Next, notice when your mind wanders.  Aha, I'm worrying about my family again.  Observe the thought without judgment.  The thoughts are not good or bad, they just are.  Then bring your attention back to listening again. For example:  "Heater, hammer, breath, car, bird, what should I cook for dinner tonight?  Thinking about dinner.  Clock, bird, breath, heartbeat, I've got to remember to call Mom this weekend, Thinking about Mom.  Clock, voices, door closing...."  You get the idea.  Some days I can focus my attention for a full 5 minutes without my mind wandering and some days 5 seconds of focused attention is a challenge.  And I keep practicing.  Even when my monkey mind is most active, I feel better for having taken 15 minutes to meditate. As you gain experience, you will find yourself meditating longer and more easily.  Then invite your thoughts to slow and open up the silence between thoughts.  Allow your mind to rest.  You'll feel results within a couple weeks of daily meditation.  You'll begin to find meditation mind and the non-judgmental witness arising during day-to-day life events.  You will be calmer as a result. All of our yoga classes include some aspect of meditation, a breath or movement meditation and the closing stillness of savasana.  If you'd like more instruction, here are some upcoming opportunities: Yin Yoga and Meditation with Irene  Sat Feb 26 2-4pm Sacred Heart Yoga with Angie Sun Feb 27 1:30-3:30 pm Meditation Series with Lisa Sun Mar 27 to Apr 3 9:00-9:45am