Yogis of Karma - Gaby Ceja

If you’ve lived in Denton for a long time, maybe some of your earliest memories include having a birthday party at Spinning Wheels on Elm Street.  As you grew older, you probably knew nearly everyone else your age because there was only one other high school. On the weekends, you would grab a Jones Soda from Jupiter House and hang out on the courthouse lawn, because there wasn’t a movie theater around yet. You might’ve avoided going grocery shopping with your parents, otherwise you would’ve run into your teachers at the only Kroger on University. And sometimes, maybe you sorta miss going to McKenna Park to watch the sun set over what was once a vast cow pasture, but is now Rayzor Ranch.

 

Growing up, Denton was not only my hometown, but also my security blanket. As a major introvert, I felt right at home in the predictability that came with growing up in such a tiny place. If you knew me in high school, then you knew I was a Type A wallflower and the routine queen. I always followed the rules, and never strayed too far away from my comfort zone. I was pretty adamant about my straightedgedness.

 

So, when I moved to Austin to go to college, I was in for a bit of a culture shock, even though I was less than 300 miles away. The music capitol of the world, Austin was a city where culture and diversity were rampantly thriving. There were limitless places to go, things to try, and so many people to make friends with! It was the perfect opportunity to create a new persona, find myself, and develop into a young adult. But, at first, I felt inhibited. I was too shy. I had grown accustomed to the smallness where I had come from, and didn’t know how to break out of my shell. I hadn’t developed confidence or boldness within my routines back home.

 

Thankfully, I found a place where self-exploration was possible. With yoga, it was okay to take baby steps. You didn’t have to throw yourself out there; instead, you could feel around for what felt right before you experienced something completely foreign to you. Going through my practice, I learned that it’s okay to be vulnerable and step out of complacency. You could become familiar in a posture, but you didn’t have to stay there. Instead, you follow your subconscious lead, growing and developing into the person you were meant to be. You become exposed, in a safe way. Yoga helped me learn to be more sure of myself, leading to the opportunity to try new things and set myself in situations where I couldn’t be a know-it-all. I learned not to take myself so seriously. I discovered that I really didn’t need to reinvent myself; I could stay rooted in my traditions yet still rise up and expand outward to a different direction. Yoga gave me the ability to feel true to myself and explore new places simultaneously.

 

When I moved back to Denton for graduate school, I realized that Denton wasn’t the quiet little college town that I remembered. Denton was going through it’s own yoga practice - it’s own revival. Bars and restaurants had opened up on the square, a different mural popped up every week, and the music scene was raging like never before! Fry street got some apartments, inviting more students downtown, and Denton High School even won a football game. AND we got a Target! Even now, our community is developing a personality that strays away from the ordinary by taking risks and seeing what works for us. Without a doubt, Karma Yoga Denton has added to the uniqueness of Denton and I’m so grateful for that!

 

Yoga is like our home, in a way. Even as our practice changes, we can still find remnants of our old selves there. We can visit what feels familiar and then continue to go even further, welcoming the transformation. We can decide our practice will be like coming back to the sleepy parts within us and choose to feel nostalgic. We can sleep in our little twin beds and let our mom cook our favorite meal, or we can awaken and explore. We can make ourselves feel a little uncomfortable for the sake of experiencing all the newness around us. Yoga is where we can make friends. People join us all the time, adding to the diversity and energy that expands our surroundings. We are continually changing like the environment around us. Who knows what it will be like in the future? It’s up to us to keep the flow going!


Gaby Ceja

 

Pictured with Holly the Hedgehog

Product Review - Yogi Surprise Box

Yogi Surprise Subscription Box Review –Jewelry Edition

Alana @growbythesun

    I was browsing the interwebs one day and an advertisement caught my eye. I had been playing around with the idea of purchasing my first mala, but I was also weighing the pros and cons. Cost also played a factor, which usually seems like someone is trying to scam fellow yogis out of $150 for a beaded necklace. This is a real thing guys, don’t fall for it. The picture was of a beautiful light wood and marbled blue beaded mala and a yoga themed subscription service. And I was like, what the what? This exists? Sign me up guys! I hunted around for a coupon code, checked for potential online scams and went for it. Guys, always check for online scams on this stuff-trust me a little google search is worth it.

    Yogi Surprise has two box options: lifestyle or jewelry. I chose jewelry because that mala was calling my name (and it was the cheaper box). I ordered pretty early so I had a good amount of wait time before my box came. In that time, the interwebs plagued me with my decision. My ads were suddenly all yoga subscription boxes and pictures of that particular beautiful mala that attracted me in the first place. Eventually I got the confirmation my box had shipped and checked the mail like, every day even though the tracking service seemed accurate. But, just in case right? You’ve done this too, I know it!

    Anyways, this box was everything. Beautiful and great quality, and I enjoyed the products it came with. September’s box came with a package of chocolate mint cookies that were gluten free! I seemed to forget that it came with chocolate and I was surprised by the sweet snack. I am typically not a bracelet fan, other than my Bellabeat Leaf activity tracker, but the bracelet that came with this box has gotten more than a few uses! It’s a white bead (howlite? I don’t know) and a redder colored bead. What I like about this bracelet is it is adjustable. I really do not like tight bracelets-my wrists do not need suffocating hugs so this one surprised me. The mala is gorgeous, the bead weight is perfect, the tassel is full and the color compliments the beads well. The wood is light but looks good with the different colored ocean colored blue beads. I have yet to meditate with it but I feel it may be a good piece to have around.

    Have you ever tried a yoga subscription box? Did you like it or think it was cheesy? Would you like to read a review on the lifestyle box? Also, mala advice! Do you have one and what do you think? Send your thoughts to me on Instagram @growbythesun and we can chat! Namaste yogis!

Art&Om

This weeks installment brings us back to half moon pose. It has been popping up in a lot of our classes recently, and Alana demonstrates for us in front of the mural at the Discover Denton Visitors Center. Alana is also one of our blog contributors! Go check out her post on our blog!  

We will begin in Warrior 2 pose, and in this case our right foot is forward. For those new to Vira 2, make sure you root down through the soles of the feet, pressing through the outsides, this will also allow you to more evenly disperse your weight since you are mindfully sending energy to the knife edge side of the back foot. Hug the right knee out, while simultaneously drawing the outside of the right thigh in. Moving into Side Angle, let the lower body stay the exact same and just worry about moving the torso as you extend the right fingertips to the ground letting the right elbow press gently into the high to help open the right hip. Reach up through the left fingertips, keeping the pinky finger internally rotated. Dropping the hips to be level, rotate the chest up to the sky, lifting from heart center.

Bring the right fingertips to the ground in front of and just to the right of the front foot. Stacking the shoulders and the hips, launch off from your left foot. Knit in the ribs and remember to keep the core engaged using your Uddiyana bhanda or core lock. Flex the left foot, peeling the toes back to the shin, and reach through the heel. You can also use a block under the right hand to help bring the ground closer to you and get a better stretch in the right side body, or even doing this pose against a wall to help with balance.   

To add another level to the pose and get a great quad stretch, bend the left knee and reach for the foot with the right hand. You can draw the heel into the glute or press the top of the foot in the hand for an additional shoulder stretch as the gaze falls to the right finger tips. Think lightness and be aware of your body's alignment, and you will soar into your Half Moon! Have fun yogis!

Shake Your Asana - Slow Flow I

In addition to working us out on Sundays at Audacity, Christian makes some of the best playlist hands down.  He was kind enough to share his insight into what goes on in the creation process and his infamous Slow Flow I playlist. 

 

"For me, music is a big part of my classes. Whether it’s a slow flow or yin type of class or a more invigorating hot flow class, I want the music to be more than just background noise. I try to bring a subtle theme or story to the playlist; though most students don’t pick up on it since most aren’t actively listening the entire class. But, maybe a lyric or chord resonates with them during a pose that makes it memorable and takes them a little deeper into their practice at least for a moment. I tend to use very rhythmic music, EDM, deep house, and tropical chill tracks and stay away from anything you would hear on a Top40 radio station. I try to keep the tracks positive, even if it’s a breakup type of song it would still have an empowering feel so that it can be motivating for someone in their practice. Above all else, I work to keep it simple so the songs will blend together well without breaking the flow of the class. "

- Christian



Christian's path in yoga started seven years ago when his best friend urged him to try a class for the first time. From that first class, he knew he had found that missing element from not only his physical fitness but also from his mental and spiritual journey. He is a graduate of the Inspire Yoga Teacher Training program and his classes focus on strength and flexibility for all levels while using the breath to bring balance to his student's practice. After finding that balance in his own practice, he strives to bring that awareness to his students thru a creative class and his love of music.  Outside of teaching in yoga in the Denton area, he works in graphic design in both print publishing and web design. He is a self-described 'foodie' that enjoys cooking, baking and torturing his family and friends with all things chocolate. When not practicing yoga, you will find him keeping up with his teenage son and planning his next travel adventure.  

Art&Om - Warrior II Flow

The 3 poses in this week’s Art & Om installment are a wonderful stretch for the side body and a little bit of an opener for the chest and hips. In the style of Vinyasa yoga, there is a very flowy element, and these poses are typically found in variations of the Dancing Warrior Sequence. Tara demonstrates outside the beautiful mural at The Cupboard done by UNT Art Students!

To move into Warrior 2 from Downward Facing Dog, plant your left foot between your hands at the top of the mat. Allow yourself to get light on the finger tips, and begin to lift the belly off the thigh engaging the core. Hugging in the outside of the left thigh, and sending energy to the lifted heel in the back foot.

On an inhale the back heel will spiral down so that it is parallel to the short side of the mat and the front toes will stay facing forward. Extend the arms out wide, letting the shoulders continue to relax down the back, and the gaze begins to find a Dristi (focus point) over the front middle finger. As we draw the left knee out slightly to take a peek at those first two toes on the front foot, the left hip pulls back and in slightly to help open the hips.  As you inhale think about lifting through the crown of the head, and drawing the shoulders over the hips, and with each exhale rooting down through the heels and engaging the muscles in the thighs.

Moving into Reverse Warrior, our lower body will stay the exact same and with an inhale the left hand is swept up to the sky. The backhand can make its way down the right leg, or find a half bind with the right hand coming to rest on the low back or wrapping around to the left hip crease. Reaching up from heart center and allowing the chest to spiral open with the breath will help increase the stretch in the side body. Gaze can be at the lifted hand or down at the back foot if you are feeling a little wobbly. Continue to be mindful of the core, using each exhale to knit in the low ribs and the action of pulling the belly button up and in to engage the abs.

Side Angle is another great stretch for the side body. From Warrior 2 we will begin to lightly rest that front forearm on the left thigh, and either extend the right fingertips to the sky or find a half bind in this pose as well, by bringing the back hand to wrap behind to the low back. So we don’t dump our body weight into that front knee, lift from heart center and try to create lightness in the upper body. 

Bring both hands down to the mat, stepping back into plank where you can lift the hips up and back to the sky or come into chaturanga and rise up in a heart opener of your choosing. 

Food for the Heart - Recipes from Soul

Oaktopia Rejuvenating Smoothie

 

Did you buy a three day pass to Oaktopia, drank too much on the first night, and then the second, and then the third and now comes the most epic hang over? This smoothie will help you get back on your feet, out the door and feeling human again. 

 

Hangovers begin hours after drinking has subsided and the blood alcohol level begins to drop, ultimately leaving you with withdrawal after a night of drinking. Some signs include dizziness, fatigue, headaches, sensitivity to light, and vomiting.  What does your hangover look like?

 

The ingredients picked for this smoothie are great for symptoms. Spinach, ginger, blackberries, and chia seeds are great anti-inflammatories, the apple will give you the energy you need and help with stabilize blood sugar, the coconut yogurt has probiotics needed to promote gut movement, matcha has caffeine that will help get you going and coconut water will hydrate and reestablish electrolytes after all the drinking the night before.

What you need:

1 cup of spinach
½ cup of blackberries
½ cup of coconut yogurt
1 apple chopped with skin
1tbsp grated ginger
1tbsp matcha
¼ cup of agave
Coconut water (amount will vary based on preference of consistency)
Ice (amount will vary based on preference of consistency)

What to do:

Put all ingredients in a blender and blend till desired consistency.

Pair with a piece of avocado toast from previous blog to restore carbs and fat.

Consume to get going and recover from those postopia blues.

Enjoy

-Michi and Melissa

Slackers of the Karma Community- Will Primrose

The Denton community is brimming with talented, skilled, hard working, creative individuals who want to share their knowledge with others. During the weekly Denton AcroYoga/Slacklining Jams, Will always goes out of his way to answer questions or offer guidance to anyone wanting to try their hand (or feet) at walking the line. It isn't always about yoga, but the individuals in this Denton Karma Community who are trying share their knowledge and expertise with others. Inspiring us to get off the couch, get out of our heads, and into our bodies. Will is leading a free Intro to Slackline Workshop the last weekend in October, check in on our Facebook for more details. - Tiffany J.

The first time I stepped on a slackline was in 2012 at UNT’s rock climbing wall. That day, I couldn’t stay balanced on it at all. Nor the next day, or the day after. However, that proved to be an exciting challenge! I was quickly hooked on figuring out how to stand on the line. Once I finally could, and once I crossed the full length of a line for the first time, I was thrilled to think to myself “holy cow, I just did that!” That feeling is what drives me to continue slacklining today.

            As I entered my teenage years, I was no longer compelled to traditional team sports. I played baseball in elementary school and found I didn’t care for all the structure that goes into making the game happen. For this reason, I’ve found my place in slacklining. It’s an activity I can do together with others, and we can all teach and encourage each other while doing it, but the real work comes down to my self-realization. I can relate much of the mental and physical challenges I experience on the line to my own personal development. For example, the three trips I’ve made slacklining have taught valuable me lessons on facing self-criticism and finding composure in stressful situations.

Slacklining to me is a form of moving meditation. Balancing on the line becomes something I’m so focused on and involved in doing that I’m not thinking about anything other than my performance. My stresses quell and I can work to realize my full potential. In this regard, I find a lot of crossover between yoga and slacklining. So for about the past year I’ve started to incorporate the mindset and practice of yoga onto the slackline. It’s my aspiration to share this perspective of slacklining with yogis here in Denton.

Making the Perfect Playlist - Oaktopia Edition

With Oaktopia upon us, we created the perfect playlist for you to shake your Asana too! Check it out on our unofficial SoundCloud:


How to Make Your Own Yoga Playlist

Alana Quintanilla
Instagram: @growbythesun
Spotify: https://play.spotify.com/user/alanapaige

    When I play with Spotify playlists I think about the practice I want to have while listening to it. Sometimes I want a flow that is powerful, funky, made for a really tough mood. I want music that makes me feel strong and brave, ready to own *insert hard standing pose here*. Other times when I try to have a slow, relaxing practice I will play acoustic covers and mellow music (see Nick Drake, John Mayer, Lights acoustic, etc). For savasana, always an uplifting and soft song- there is nothing like laying in savasana feeling achieved and listening to a song that matches the indescribable feeling in your soul. I think for most of us music takes us to a place in our minds that influences the way we process things in our minds. For me, listening to Elvis, Cash, Willie, and Springsteen, takes me to a place of nostalgia and excitement. Sometimes I will turn on these artists for a reflective flow, pausing often to absorb the emotions I associate with the music. And having reactions to the music is cathartic, as is your practice.

    Something about a great beat makes getting into an arm balance that much easier to smile whether you fall or hold still. I have been in classes where we did goddess squats and ab work to Beyonce and Lana Del Rey. Nothing is more liberating and motivating than listening to Beyonce serve some sass while you try to forget your burning thighs! My playlists are typically based on how I was feeling on that day-which is typically what happens when you practice at home and create your own vinyasa. I love Lights, her acoustic for savasana or meditation and the pop for peak poses. My Strong Flow playlist has strong female songs featuring Halsey and Amy Whinehouse, but also Nirvana. I like playlists that cause you to wiggle your hips, move around in a pose that would otherwise be formulated. A great playlist can turn cat and cow into a strange barnyard dance-but it usually ends up being an amazing opening! Do not be afraid to move your body, do what feels right-take in what serves you and leave the rest. Oaktopia will be no different! Come move your wiggly bodies to awesome music with us and celebrate music, free movement and love from fellow yogis!