Karma Dama - Salamba Sarvangasana

Salamba Sarvangasana (Shoulderstand)

Karma is known for its nomadic tribe take on yoga, but without a studio, we are limited when it comes to teaching our students about the use of props to help get deeper into a posture or make a challenging pose more obtainable. The new Karma Dama blog will show you ways to guide your body into postures you can practice at home.

Props are expensive and before I invested the money in them myself, I got creative and found household items that I could utilize as props, plus it fuels this fun idea of a home practice. Here are some of the things I use:

Block- thick hardcover book, I usually put a rubber band around the book so it doesn’t come open mid-use.

Strap- If you aren’t a tie wearer, a belt also works. I personally prefer a tie because if I need a long strap, I can tie multiple of them together.

Blanket- you don’t need a fancy yoga blanket to utilize a blanket in your practice, your favorite one around your home would do just fine.

Bolster- Bolsters come in many different sizes, luckily so do household pillows, find a pillow (or 5) that you like and can use for a bolster.

Chair- many people may not be familiar with yoga chairs but you can utilize them for inversions and arm balances. Find a sturdy chair in your home and ONLY PRACTICE WITH IT ON CARPET or all chair legs on the mat. No yogis sliding around on tile or wood floors.

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Today, Michi will demo for you how to utilize a chair, blanket and bolster to get into a shoulder stand without neck strain. Doing a shoulder stand supported can help you get the feeling of being on your shoulders before putting the weight on your neck. Supported shoulder stand can be a restorative approach to this inversion and add some playfulness in your practice.

Start by placing the blanket on the chair so it covers the edge of the seat and the bolster on the ground in front of the chair.

Next sit backwards on the chair and one leg at a time raise your legs onto the back of the chair, like so…

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From here, you want to use your core to slowly lay back till your shoulders touch the bolster.

Next, put your hands through the inside of the front legs and grip onto the back legs. Getting this grip correctly is important so you won’t fall and also rounds your shoulders onto the meaty part that it needed to do a free standing shoulder stand.

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Slowly with intention, shift your weight into your shoulders and use your core to slowly lift your legs off the chair, leaving your bottom rooted down on the edge of the seatw.

Make sure you keep length in your neck here.

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If you feel comfortable here, you can play with releasing your bottom off the chair, coming into full shoulder stand.

Or my personal favorite, bend your knees coming into dead mans pose or even plow, feel free to get expressive with what you can do in this placement.

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Once you have finished playing and are ready to come out of this posture, return your bottom and legs onto the seat and slowly with intention, tuck your chin into your chest and slide your bottom off the chair and onto the bolster.

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Go forth and play yogis!

-Namaste, Michi P.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: MICHI POINDEXTER

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This passionate knowledge seeking teacher, started their yoga journey with karma a few years ago and after falling in love with the community of yoga completed their 200hr Teacher Training at Yoga from the Heart. They have been a Dentonite since 2014, graduated from TWU and runs community groups. With their trauma-informed certification, they emphasize trauma healing by sharing healing techniques to take yoga off the mat. Aside from yoga, they enjoy outdoor activities, reading and mix media art.


Monday Mantra - January 7th

“I am willing to step outside my comfort zone.”

This weeks affirmation surrounds around the new year and the concept of “New Year Resolutions” we set for ourselves. We set such high expectations and lots of them. By the end of the year, we tend to drop every single one because they are beyond our ability.

Don’t let this habit keep us from reaching out for these goals. Pick a doable task or a stepping stone to a larger goal and slowly break your comfort zone to success, one micro-step at a time. It takes 21 days to break or build a habit, pick one thing you want to achieve at a time and once you form a habit, move to the next step.

Growth comes with challenge, but it also brings success and better versions of ourselves. We have room to grow everyday, don’t bite more than you can chew or accept things staying the same.

-Namaste, Michi P.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: MICHI POINDEXTER

This passionate knowledge seeking teacher, started their yoga journey with karma a few years ago and after falling in love with the community of yoga completed their 200hr Teacher Training at Yoga from the Heart. They have been a Dentonite since 2014, graduated from TWU and runs community groups. With their trauma-informed certification, they emphasize trauma healing by sharing healing techniques to take yoga off the mat. Aside from yoga, they enjoy outdoor activities, reading and mix media art.

Product Review - Bellabeat Leaf

Alana (@growbythesun)

 

               I am not a bracelet wearing person typically. This has basically always been the case for me. Really jewelry in general has not always been my thing, though recently that has changed. I saw the Bellabeat Leaf first in a Facebook advertisement. It plagued me, as most ads do. I saw it everywhere. Eventually I decided to Google research and watch some videos of reviews of the item. I oogled over the Instagram pictures of people styling this piece in many ways. I researched for a while until I decided I needed to obtain one.

               The Bellabeat Leaf is an activity tracker that doubles as a fashion accessory. It is marketed towards the elegant, feminine, but active woman who does not find function in typical activity trackers that tend to resemble ankle monitoring devices a la Lindsey Lohan. A real life story: I once asked a woman what was on her ankle. It was her Fit-Bit. She did not like wearing it as a bracelet, and decided to attach it to her leg. She had no idea it looked like she was on a house arrest sentence that allowed her 10 square miles wiggle room. I wish I could go back and suggest something like the Leaf that does not portray her as a van-driving soccer mom who also is being monitored by the authorities.

What really got me for this item is the features. It tracks sleep, steps, time spent actively moving, and monthly cycles. You can enter different activities if the Leaf does not pick it up, such as swimming (this is not waterproof!). You can also adjust your sleep times and add naps if needed! It is capable of gentle reminders in the form of vibrations you can set like alarms through the app. All of these features are controlled by the app on your phone, as there is no screen! *gasp* I know guys, something without a screen! I personally like this. It is less distracting to wear and we do not need everything to be a screen, sometimes it is okay to not.

               I have tested this item on its miles setting. I have been on a few hikes or walks that have milemarkers-the Leaf kept up within .05 of an error margin. I have to say, the sleep function is not always accurate. Though this may be my fault, as I have a habit of sitting in bed for a little (or a lot) and my Leaf usually assumes I am asleep. The monthly cycle setting is accurate to a tee because you enter the information. You tell it the day you start and end your period, and it will log it, predict it next month, and tell you your ovulation prediction.

               The Leaf attracted me initially because of how versatile it is as far as wearing. You may clip it to your shirt or pants, wear it as a necklace, or wear it as a bracelet. When I originally dreamed about this item, I saw myself clipping it most often. Necklace was also a good option. After obtaining the Leaf, I most often wear it as a necklace. I also use it as a bracelet often. I do not typically clip it because I think it is so simplistic and beautiful that I want to display it. I can wear it dressy, I can wear it casually. I found a store on Etsy that makes items specifically for the Leaf, her bracelet options are gorgeous and give you so many more options to wear it as a jewelry piece. Bellabeat came out recently for mala options where you can clip in your Leaf to the mala. They are gorgeous, but the first batch sold out immediately and were also above a price I would personally want to spend on one necklace option right now.

               What I don’t do: wear it to yoga often. It usually does not pick up yoga as an “activity”. You can manually enter it, which is does not annoy me. Wearing necklaces or bracelets in yoga distract me usually. I want to focus on my movements more often than my Leaf hitting me in the face in down dog or sliding around when I am flowing.

Do you use activity trackers? Do you like the screens and technology? Do you have a Leaf or have questions about the Leaf? Contact me on Instagram @growbythesun and let’s chat. 

Allow Time

 

Alana (@growbythesun)

 

Over the last month my internal mantra has been “allow time.” Some of you who follow my social media have probably seen some of these posts I have made about allowing time and space in your practice. To me this means many things, but this month it has been glaringly obvious to me how integral it is to allow time.

Allow yourself time to breathe. Now, as a yogi, this could mean a meditative breath practice. Focusing your whole self for a set amount of time daily or weekly to practice the breath. I do this in a few ways. Hint: Try these in bound angle pose for a more grounded feel.

1.      Start by inhaling 5 counts, exhaling 5 counts, holding the breath for 2 counts in between inhales and exhales. I will sometimes start here and see how many counts I can hold or extend the breath. This usually helps me center and ground myself, sometimes great before a big test or bedtime.

2.      Sitting in an easy seat pose, place your left thumb over your right nostril. Breathe in for 5 counts, hold that breath for 3 counts, and then exhale for 5 counts. Once you go through 5 rounds of this, place your hand back on your knee and take a few clearing breaths. Then repeat with your right thumb over your left nostril.

3.      Focusing on the exaggerated rise and fall of your chest and belly. Whatever breath you choose, fast or slow, focus on how it feels to expand and contract your physical body. Putting hands on these areas, or visually watching these movements allow us to see that breath. Watching the breath, realizing the exaggeration and capabilities will allow you to believe in the strength.

Allow yourself time to be quiet. Do you ever feel like you come home and your cheeks hurt from talking or interacting all day? This is your physical body asking for quiet time. You have had enough human time, it is time to internalize and absorb the benefits of social time and use this growth for your quiet time. To me, as an introvert, this comes easy to me. I will sit at home and listen to Youtube videos that engage my mind without me having to directly participate.

Allow yourself time to grieve. You do not need to have experienced great loss for this. To me, I consider this the loss of something meaningful for me. Grief takes shape in many ways and often experiencing the grief a few times over time can be cathartic. I will occasionally allow an amount of grief that I visualize as a size. I will visualize this as the size of an orange, sometimes larger depending on how much space I need to grieve. Visualizing these emotions as items allow control over how much that feeling takes up inside. I will grieve the loss of an idea, a time in life, or any negative energy that enters my space. I will sometimes allow time to grieve something then determine that grief to be filled, that space no longer there. Sometimes I will revisit the grief and allow myself to feel it, then cast it away until it is appropriate to visit this again. Last month, this grief manifested itself and I allowed it. I still allow it. Sometimes every day I allow myself a small, lemon-sized amount of grief. And I feel okay with it, I have welcomed it for those times. I will continue to grieve, and I allow myself whatever amount necessary to cleanse it. And be careful yogis, only after you decide what is worth grieving should you allow it a weight such as a lemon or a melon. If it is worth it, feel it- then use it as fuel just as our bodies do.

Sometimes these allowances are going to interfere with other experiences. Occasionally it is okay to take 15 minutes out of your study time to breathe, or be quiet or grieve. It may make you a more productive or clear minded person for the rest of your day. It may prepare you to face tomorrow stronger than you feel in the present. It may allow you to flow more free in your vinyasa, or tackle your next adventure. Please, allow yourself whatever you need. Take what you need today, and leave what you do not.

Be strong, be brave. Namaste, yogis. So much love.

 

Food for the Heart - Recipes from the Soul

Bloodshot Eyeballs

            Having a Halloween party and need some yummy finger foods to get in the Halloween spirit? These eyeballs will be perfect to get the creepy party started.

 

What you need:

1 tbsp of olive oil

2 cups spinach

2 cloves of garlic

16oz white button mushrooms (We used baby portebellas since the store was out)

1 14oz block of tofu

2 tbsp of balsamic

1tsp Italian seasoning

Salt and pepper to taste

Sliced black olives

1 8oz jar Julienne sliced sundried tomatoes

Smoked paprika to garnish

 

What you do:

1. Place oil, garlic and spinach in pan and sauté until spinach is wilted

 

2. Destem and wash mushrooms and place on baking sheet

 

3. Drain and press tofu to release excess water

 

4. in food processor put tofu, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper into processor and blend until smooth

 

 

5. Place balsamic evenly inside mushrooms

 

6. Stuff mushrooms with spinach mixture then top with tofu ricotta on top. Then add sliced black olives and sundried tomatoes to appear like bloodshot eyes, then sprinkle smoked paprika on top on mushrooms.

 

7. Bake on 350 for approximately 20 minutes or until mushrooms are cooked

 

8. Enjoy the spooky treat!

 

 

 

-Namaste, Michi and Melissa 

Yogis of Karma - Kyri'ay Vanderpoel

This weeks Yogis of Karma features Kyri, photo in front of the new Eric Mancini Mural, and she shares his reflections on his own practice and some words of encouragement for those who are just now rolling out their mat. 

Prior to yoga all of my physical activity focused on strength first. Technique and flexibility were always afterthoughts when it came to climbing, calisthenics, and hand balancing. Between sitting eight or more hours a day for work as a software engineer and my strength training, I found myself with chronic pain. My progress was hindered by my reluctance to be honest with what my mind and body needed. Until a friend invited me to my first yoga class.

My journey with Karma Yoga began over the summer on a scorching Sunday morning. I was so anxious about being a beginner that I nearly didn't show up. But, like my fellow yogis, I laid out my mat, pushed through the heat, and was embraced by positive energy. Now I can't imagine my life without yoga.

The Karma community is unlike anything I've been involved in before. The wonderful people and the exciting experiences we create together makes this community feel like family. It's an immense undertaking to organize these events, and I am grateful for all the work Karma does to build a real community. From outdoor meditations to drum circles to acroyoga jams to blacklight yoga, there is always a chance to try something new.

While yoga has certainly improved my flexibility and nearly eliminated my pain, it's more than just physical. The world we live in is ripe with hate, chaos, and isolation. Yoga is journey where we move against the grain to find love, peace, and community. We foster real human connections. We challenge ourselves to live mindfully so we can create lasting memories together.

Some advice for potential and active yogis: don't let being a beginner frighten you. Don't compare your practice to anyone else's it's your journey. Be patient with your mind and body, don't get discouraged, and always remember to breath. Take the discipline and the love you develop on the mat and share it with everyone.

Food for the Soul - Recipes from the Heart

Tofu Scramble and Sweet Potato Hash - by Michi & Melissa

            Tofu scramble is a great power food breakfast to get your day started, a complete alkaline meal to get your day going right.

Sweet Potato Hash 6 servings

 What you need:
2 medium sweet potatoes large diced
½ purple onion julienne
2 garlic cloves minced
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp. of olive oil

What to do:
1.      Preheat oven to 400
2.      Spread olive oil on baking sheet
3.      Place sweet potatoes, onion, garlic, salt and pepper
4.      Roast potatoes 20 minutes until tender and brown

 

Tofu Scramble 6 servings

While potatoes are roasting, get tofu prepped and cook when potatoes are 5 minutes from cooked

What you need:
1 extra firm tofu
1 tsp of olive oil
1 tsp turmeric
2 tsp smoked paprika
1 clove garlic minced
1 cup of mushrooms chopped
2 handful of kale
salt and pepper to taste
half an avocado (optional)
sirracha (optional)

What to do:
1.      Press tofu between paper towels and add pressure with books or pans till excess water has released into paper towels
2.      Place tofu into bowl and mash using a fork till consistency is equivalent to scramble eggs 3.      Add oil to a pan over medium heat and add tofu, turmeric, paprika, garlic, kale, mushrooms, salt and pepper
4.      Stir till seasoning is even and allow tofu to cook for about 5-7 minutes
5.      Plate hash and add tofu scramble on top, add sirracha and avocado if desired

My favorite way to prepare enough to eat for breakfast over the next few days, leftovers let the seasoning settle and allow them take on the flavor more. It’s the perfect thing to get your day going. 


Melissa and Michi are identical twins that are huge foodies and strive for a healthy and happy life through nurturing themselves and anyone willing to let them cook them a meal. They found the Karma Yoga community in spring 2016 as a way to relieve stress from their busy lives and soon fell in love with the good vibe tribe. Both are vegan by choice and gluten free by intolerance. Melissa is at TWU getting her bachelor’s degree in nutrition emphasis in dietetics and a minor in health studies. Before nutrition, Melissa did culinary arts, where she found her love for food. Melissa loves sunflowers and any outdoor activity from hiking to kayaking. Michi is at TWU getting their degree in Photography and Women/Gender studies. Michi is into the documentary scene and non-profit activist work to better the world. Michi also does fine art work for galleries and publications around the country. Together they work to create mouth-watering recipes to nourish their bodies and those around them.

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