Wait, the Point is Pleasure!? June Ayurveda Essentials

Quick: Can you name a calorie-free, addiction-free, just downright FREE daily pleasure that doesn’t involve another person? If an answer doesn’t come to you quickly, but a whole list of other crap does, then you may need a refresher course in the simpler things in life.

That’s how it was for me.  I was knee deep in my third career, and – even though I loved my job – my career, my friends, a handful of vacation days and whole lot of hustle were all I had.

When I burned out and searched for another way to live, I luckily found myself in an Ayurveda course. The first lesson was that Kama – or pleasure – is one of the primary reasons for life.

Not just something you do one day a week,
Not just something to distract you,
Not in a bottle,
Not in an invite,
And definitely NOT a diversion, but
Pleasure is the POINT of life.

Every day offers us a multitude of opportunities to be fed by beauty, healthy rituals, amazing food, and uplifting study and community.  Real energy lies in “pleasure refueling,” and finding these free sources of mojo can significantly cut down on the Starbucks bills!

As a teacher, the Ayurvedic lens saves me time and effort, and has made my yoga therapy work infinitely more precise, effective, and direct.  Imagine if you could determine what a person needs just by looking at them – isn’t that a skill you’d like to have, especially if you are in the healing arts?  And wouldn’t you love to empower your clients to nourish their health and happiness?

That’s why our June Prema Yoga Ayurvedic Training is both an essential life course and a required course for therapeutic teachers.

We study outside,
We indulge in the senses,
We seek to become better listeners,
Better teachers,
And better caretakers of our bodies and minds,
All through infinite sources of pleasure.

Sound Yoga Training – Interview with Jessica Caplan

Did you know that it is sound that creates the world? All the creation stories begin with sound – God spoke to create the world, “Om” is the sound of the Universe vibrating – sound is truly our most powerful tool for change.  Sound is where thought becomes action.  I was able to sit down with PYI’s resident Sound Healer and new mother Jessica Caplan to get the full scoop on how this alchemy works:

Dana: Hi Jess!  Please tell us about what led you to sound healing.

Jess: I’ve been a singer for my whole life, and a yoga teacher for over a decade. For the most part, those two parts of me were separate, and I had a strong desire to integrate them. I started to sing to my students in Savasana – usually improvised chants or melodies without English lyrics – and my students would often come up to me after and say how much my singing had helped them release and relax. Around the same time – and this is before this field became as popular as it is now – I started to hear the words “sound healing.” I started to research and read books on the subject. I quickly knew this was something I wanted to explore and practice. That led me to the wonderful year-long program at the Open Center, at the time supervised by Wendy Young. That was the beginning of my journey, and I am still exploring and learning so much. This subject is truly infinite.

D: I notice that many can reach a more meditative state using sound and music.  Why do you think this is?

J: Sound and music has such a profound impact upon us. It’s universal and it’s ancient. Sound works on the brain and body in real and measurable ways. For example, our brain waves entrain (fall in step with) sound waves, so certain sounds can actually shift our brain waves into the more meditative brain wave states of alpha and theta, and even delta (sleep). Sound can also stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, helping us to relax and rest. In my experience, sound engages us in ways that can cut through the mental static and open us up to deeper parts of ourselves.

D: Sound Yoga Training often brings up the most delightful moments of the “school year” for me because you see people open up so easily.  What would you say to those who are a little hesitant to sign up because they aren’t “musical?”

J: I’d say that we are all inherently “musical”! What is sound, but vibration, and what are we, but vibrating atoms? This is another reason why sound has such a profound impact upon us: we are vibrational beings. Watch a baby explore her voice – she is totally free, playful and curious. Somewhere along the way, many of us have shut off our connection to the full range of our voice and our own musicality. Getting in touch with that part of ourselves is touching our essence. On a practical level, this training doesn’t require any previous musical experience – though musicians are always welcome. We’ll have plenty of instruments for beginners to explore playing (singing bowls, tuning forks, harmonium, shrutti box and more); all you need is an open, curious mind, and the ability to listen.

D: Awesome. What can we expect this May 10-12 from the training?

J:  A highly experiential weekend filled with exercises in deep listening, meditative sound and mantra, reconnection to our voices as an expression of our soul, and exploration of a wide range of traditional sound healing instruments. This is a get-your-hands-dirty immersion: less exposition, more experience. Like yoga, the magic of sound healing lies in the practice, not the theory. While students will come away with some understanding of the theory and science, what we really want them to leave with is a newfound connection to sound and music.

Ready to dive into the healing powers of sounds? Scroll down to download a free audio meditation track to help you let go.

New year! Peace in Action, 2017

Recently, in a philosophy class, I learned that the root of the word “shanti” –translated as “peace” from the Sanskrit – is “to recede.” Shanti is willing disturbing thoughts or actions to move away from our center, like the tide. We think of peace as the lack of activity, but in fact it is a gentle action. It has movement, and it has discrimination.

When we repeat “shanti” before or after class, when we include it in our chants, prayers, or meditations, we are really performing a mental act of gravitational pull. Just like the movement of the moon can pull all the oceans of the earth into high and low tides, our mental focus can powerfully determine what we draw towards us, and what recedes.

Make no mistake: This is not an act of denial. Denial is impossible in this post-information era, where we are more likely to know and see too much. And after all, what is thrown into the ocean doesn’t go away. It can only be transformed.

Everything on this earth has its ebb and flow. The Wheel of Life is sometimes up, sometimes down. The geography of our mind has the same tides, except that we are the sun. We are the moon. Along with karma (or fate), we co-determine what we draw towards us, and what recedes.

In this new year, what do you need more of?  What do you need less of?  What is your base – your community and stability that can remain constant below the ebb and flow of life?  Can you accept your shadow self, be it fear or anxiety or anger, while guiding it to recede from the center of your thoughts?

In his Five Sutras for the Aquarian Age, Yogi Bhajan advised us to, “Understand with compassion, or you will misunderstand the times.”  He clarified that we should use compassion as the basis of understanding, as opposed to passion.  We are all passionate about something, and the wave of “news” out there seems designed to provoke these passions.  Compassion can be our constant – an oceanic depth of understanding that can remain stable despite some ugly storms of passion.

Where to start?  Find your community!  In fact – find any community.  Yoga is absolutely awesome for this.  I just returned from a dreamy, transformative and beyond fun retreat to Panama with this tribe:

Despite the fact that most of us had never met, that we came from different cities with wildly different ages and backgrounds, we easily bonded together for yoga and other tribal adventures. We burnt our obstacles in a huge bonfire on a moonlit island, then jetted back to the retreat to celebrate and dance on the bar. This was all possible because of my partners in crime, Juan Gamboa and Esco Wilson, and because these yogis said YES!

I deeply encourage you to say “Yes” to your yoga community this year. It is here to support you, to comfort you, to occasionally challenge you, and deepen your oceanic base of compassion. Trainings like Prema Yoga Therapeutic Essentials are designed to support your self care, and to elevate you with the fire of tejas – or learning.

Retreats like the Yoga & Safari Retreat are designed to open your practice and mind up to nature. Both are spiritual, yes, and celebratory! We are so lucky to have each other.

So just – come. Come to class. Come to study, come to retreat. Reply by Sunday to reserve your spot for Africa! The Wheel of Life will turn again, and the opportunity will be gone.

PS “Prema Yoga Therapeutics” and are now Prema Yoga Institute!

Excerpts from “Everyday Enjoyment this July 13-31″ Newsletter

Gramma Says: Enjoy your Life!

The Ayurvedic aspect of this picture isn’t so much the food – although it’s fresh, lightly cooked for a vata, and includes simple ingredients and healthy fats.  (green beans and flax seeds sautéed in ghee with ground Himalayan sea salt, if you’re interested).

What’s Ayurvedic to me is the bowl.  It’s part of a set of china that belonged to my Gramma.  Years before she died, she moved into a small apartment with my Grampa in assisted living, and gave this set to me.

I kept it in its box for years.  What was I waiting for?  A bigger place?  A bigger group to entertain?   A better kitchen?  Who knows.  The china sat in its box on the top shelf, unenjoyed.

Years later, and months after my Gramma passed away, she appeared to me in a dream.  It was as if she was always there, watching me with a curious and delighted look on her face while I had fun.  My Gramma was a force of nature, but “fun” and “delighted” are not words I would normally associate with her.  “Toughness,” “survival,” “work ethic”  – that’s what I thought I inherited from my Depression Era Oklahoman Gramma.

But these dreams were perhaps her greatest gift.  They showed me how much she truly loved me and wanted me to be happy.  Life was short, my Gramma seemed to be saying, and I should enjoy it now – not wait, not put it on the shelf – but to be awake and alive in the life I’ve been given to live.

Ayurveda, in its sweetest sense, is bringing that awareness of the present moment into all we do.  It’s loving yourself and your sweet life not just with mindful exercise like yoga, but in the way you work and live and care for yourself.   It’s enjoying your time.  It’s ritual – and yes, some discipline – to give yourself the love you deserve just because you exist.

Just because you’re alive.   Isn’t that what Gramma would’ve wanted?

www.DanaSlamp.com

Excerpts from “Bust Those Meditation Myths in May″ Newsletter

Hello, You.

I’m so thrilled to have begun meditation month in Prema classes and at Yoga Vida. Each week, we start a simple meditation with the option of continuing to sit during savasana. Each week, more and more students are choosing to sit and explore a deeper meditation.

Over the years, I must admit that I have harbored some persistent myths, or misgivings, about my meditation practice.

The first misgiving was that I sucked at it. Guess what: Everybody sucks at meditation! It’s the mental equivalent of running: You know it’s good for you, it takes forever to talk yourself into it, within 8-10 minutes you hate it, and within about 11-15 minutes you’re hooked.

Like anything worth doing, meditation takes a little patience and discipline. But that will develop if you don’t begin!

Second misgiving: Everything has to be perfect for me to meditate. Over the years, I’ve thought I need just the right cushion on which to meditate, just the right teacher, just the right morning time, just the right diet, just the right mantra – Let’s face it: I was “just-the-righting” my practice into nonexistence!

This kind of perfectionism is actually procrastination. It’s making excuses instead of sitting down – like an artist – and getting messy in the process of getting to know yourself. What’s the worst that could happen? You spend 15 minutes not staring at your phone? I don’t know about you, but Instagram hums along just fine without me.

Third misgiving: Meditation is for the spiritually evolved, and not for mere humans. If I make an honest review of the meditation teachers that have radically influenced me, I see that what they all have in common is an honest but loving understanding of their own shortcomings. They are all acutely aware of their humanity, and sometimes admit to moments of existential crisis. That didn’t stop them from sitting down and being with themselves again.

In fact, this kind of “Dark Night of the Soul ” can lead to a deep love and acceptance of oneself. Loving Kindness Meditation teachers even use this realization to expand their compassion for other humans who have acted on their shortcomings. Being human makes you a great meditator, and meditation can help you choose to be a better human.

Fourth misgiving: Meditation is kind of bunk, because you pretend the world is peaceful when it’s not. Um…No. Nice try, ego! You’re not as gritty and punk as all that. All life includes suffering, as the Buddha taught. A meditator doesn’t sit to ignore the truth, but to accept it and to choose a righteous path.

In the yogic and Ayurvedic traditions of meditation, this is called a “satvic” state. Satvic is usually translated as “peaceful” or “calm,” but note that the root of the word means “truth.” Peacefulness is our natural state. As meditators, we can start to find this peace and identify with it. Sometimes it will feel like “faking it until you make it.” But with practice – over time, consistently, and with devotion – that peace can grow.

Whether you can get to class, practice on your own, or join us for the two-weekend meditation intensive starting this Friday, try to identify with your natural state of peace. Everything else – as Pema Chodron taught – is just a simple misunderstanding.

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Yoga Vida Meditation Intensive starts Friday!


May 13 – 22nd, Friday nights 6:30-9p
9a – 6:30p 
Saturday & Sunday
with a 30-day personal meditation challenge

Feature Teachers: Colleen Herman & Nevine Michaan Complete

Dive deep into the heart of the yoga practice with this two-weekend immersion into Meditation, Pranayama and Yoga Nidra. Cultivate a personal meditation practice, and learn classic pranayama and meditation techniques to apply in classes and with private clients in a modern way. Lead Yoga Nidra to encourage healing and relaxation.

Throughout this 50 hour module, we’ll explore:

– Yoga Nidra, the art of conscious relaxation
– the history, science, benefits, and accessible techniques
– Kosha theory to address physical, mental, and emotional imbalances
– The neuroscience of Meditation, Yoga Nidra, and Pranayama
– Pranayama for anxiety and depression
– Sacred Geometry Pranayama with guest teacher Nevine Michaan
– Developing a daily meditation practice
– Meditation from the Sutras
– Meditation from the Vedas
– Loving Kindness Meditation
– An introduction to Kundalini meditations and kriyas for memory, healing, focus, and more – Mindfulness
– Kundalini Meditation techniques

All students interested in Meditation & Pranayama are invited to join!

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Article: “Yoga Is Really for Imperfect People”

Hey guys,

My darling yoga geek friends at Yoganonymous just published my last article. I suggested the title, “Return of the Yoga Clown,” but they went with the classier title below. What do you think?

Thanks, D

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Yoga Is Really for Imperfect People

Lately, we’ve had another wave in the culture at large to satire and make fun of our yoga clique.

And why not? The yoga culture is absolutely begging for a good roast. Hula hoops, bandhas, scandals, and unicorns—oh my! It’s like the mid-60s overtook a bad ashram.

So it’s not so much that we’re a known punchline, but that some of the stock yoga characters have already become cliché—the lecherous male yoga teacher (on Modern Family), the hypocritical hot yoga chic (on “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”) — haven’t we seen these clowns already?

Read More

Excerpts from my “Twist and Transcend | Spring 2016″ Newsletter

Hello, Om-mie Hommies!

Over years of assisting students as they manage issues both mental and physical on the mat, I’ve noticed a recurring pattern.



The student reports that in the past, there was pain.  Maybe it was heartbreak, maybe it was a bum knee, maybe it was both.  But they’ve cared for themselves – seeing the right doctors and getting the go-ahead to practice.  And here they are on the mat, ready to move on.

But instead of fear being left in the past, that old mental pattern shows up again, as if they were still in the trauma.  Fear/trepidation is like an unwanted guest that follows them into the yoga room, begging to be heard. The practicing yogi is immediately engaged by a thought or sensation – not this again!  There’s fear that they’ll never get out of this pattern…but the thing is…they will.



And they usually do.  Each time fear appears, it’s is in a lesser degree than the last time you faced it.  It’s coming up again not to keep you from change, but so that you can transcend it.



Of course, we are all subject to time and space.  Injuries happen and experience comes with some heartbreak.  Through mindfulness, however, we can begin to discern the difference between an injury and the stiffness of scar tissue.  We can see that past disappointment does not equal future disappointment.  With mindfulness comes discernment, and through discernment we can identify the fears and old pain patterns that no longer serve us.  And then we can transcend.



As we open up to the possibilities of spring, we’re focusing on twists in class.  Twists have a way of wringing out what we don’t need, and leaving the body longer and stronger.  Mentally, twists can prepare us for change – empowering us to maintain our center even when life has thrown us a couple curves.



Next time you hit a tough spot on the mat or off, notice if you’re holding your breath.  Then – exhale.  It could be that you’re ready to transcend.


Your Fan,

Dana

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Sound Yoga Therapy

Pure Yoga- East
June 10-12

Immerse yourself in the transformative healing of sound with Jessica and Dana. Learn how sound creates the world, and how to use mantra, music, vibration and rhythm for healing effect. Review the science of sound therapy, and how music can improve mental processing. Learn to chant, play harmonium, tuning forks and Tibetan bowls, and deepen strength of and connection to the voice. Apply classic Vedic, Hindu, and Tibetan mantras to group and one-on-one yoga sessions for a comprehensive list of ailments. Musical instruments are welcome – not required. All curious yogis, teachers, and wellness professionals are welcome to join!

Click here for more information!

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Ayurvedic Prema Yoga Therapeutics 3 Wk Immersion

Pure Yoga- East
July 13-31

Immerse Looking to share the healing power of yoga with those that need it most? This advanced training focuses on teaching private clients and therapeutic students to specifically improve physical and mental imbalances. Use Ayurveda and yoga theory to apply the many techniques and benefits of yoga. Study sacred geometry and how to effectively “read the body” to improve structural alignment. Learn personalized lifestyle choices and self care to maintain your well-being, including Ayurvedic spices and essential oils. Practice teaching one on one, improving your ability to assess learning styles and to provide customized, therapeutic care. Review the red flags of yoga therapy, how to refer out, and how to treat specialized communities, including the elderly and those recovering from acute illness or managing a chronic disease.

Yoga is for everybody – and Prema Yoga Therapeutics prepares you to bring educated, mindful care to all – including yourself. Prema = Love.

Click here for more information!

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Click Here for Dana’s Weekly Schedule

Excerpts from my “Pop into an Amazing Workshop this February″ Newsletter

Hello, Om-mie Hommies!

Can’t commit to a whole training, but wish to deepen your practice, to study with the leaders in therapeutic yoga, and to feel like a college kid again? These amazing workshops are now open to the public. Please reserve your spot ASAP- slots are limited!

Your Fan,
Dana

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The Neuroscience of Yoga:
Yoga As Psychotherapy

with Dr. Chris Walling
Saturday, Feb. 13th 2:30-6 p.m.
Pure East

Since the days of Freud, research into the mind-body relationship has come a long way. Studies show that not only are your mental health and mood dependent in large part on physical factors like exercise, but also unchecked stress, anxiety and depression can affect physical health, increasing blood pressure, heart disease and even risk of death. With the advent of sophisticating imaging technologies, the neurobiological revolution has revolutionized our understanding of the mind body connection, and psychotherapy has changed by abandoning so called “talking cures” and bringing the body into the sense of mental health interventions. Join International Yoga therapist and body psychologist Dr. Chris Walling as he summarizes the latest cutting edge research into the psychological impact of yoga on the brain.

Click here for more information!

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Yoga Therapy for Spine Care & Joint Health

with Dr. Loren Fishman
Friday, Feb. 19 6-8 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 20 9 a.m.-6 p.m.
Pure East

Loren Fishman, MD, will share his pioneering, prize-winning research – both published and unpublished – on how yoga heals medical conditions. There will be asana and explanation for the seven major causes of back pain, spinal and bone issues, shoulder pain and more. Dr. Fishman studied with BKS Iyengar for a year in Pune, India, before establishing his 30+ year medical practice in New York.

Click here for more information!
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Tulum Update:

Be impulsive! One king room & two double rooms to share are left!

Rooms are filling fast.
Reserve your spot today!

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Drishti 200 Hr Yoga Teacher Training

Costa Rica
April 1-25, 2015

Have you always wanted to do your teacher training, but need a vacation first? Why not do both? I’ll be teaching in this fantastic teacher training in one of the prettiest places in the world: Costa Rica. Be sure to tell them Slampy sent you!

Click here for more information!

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Click Here for Dana’s Weekly Schedule

 

Excerpts from my “Need Sleep & Care? Try the Yoga Clinic this February″ Newsletter

Yoga Therapy Clinics Coming to Pure Yoga 

We’re so pleased to announce that some of the finest therapeutic yoga teachers in NYC will be leading Yoga Therapy Clinics in February on both sides of town.   These semi-private series of 4 clinics focus on one of the following:

Joint Care
Back Care
Athletic Recovery
Sleep Techniques

These clinics are perfect anyone looking to modify their practice to empower their healing, and for those who have heard of evidence-based benefits of yoga, but who cannot attend a group excercise class or afford privates.

Space is limited, and a confidential intake form is required, so be sure to sign up soon!

Grateful,
Dana

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Tulum Update:

Single rooms for our Sweat and Surrender escape are filling up fast!  Reach out to me or Halle to hook up with an awesome roomie, or grab a friend and get yours.  Flights are starting to climb, so lock it down today!

Rooms are filling fast.
 Reserve your spot today!

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Medical Yoga Therapy:

with Dr. Chris Walling,

Dr. Loren Fishman and

Karen Nourizadeh

February 5-28, 2016
Friday 6-9p, Saturday 9a-6p, Sunday 11a-8p

Yoga is growing – AND getting more diverse.  Just check out the statistics from the 2016 Yoga in America Study referenced in this YogaU article!  If you’re a teacher, are you ready for it? Our Prema Yoga Therapeutics Programs provide you with immediate skills to use when teaching diverse populations.  Our next training – Medical Yoga Therapy – has only 6 spots left.  Please click here to check out all our offerings at, and to see what’s right for you.

We’re thrilled to announce that our Medical Yoga Therapy Course is approved to provide 74 Continuing Education Units to nurses and psychologists.  Please spread the news to those you know in the medical community who would like to integrate yoga breathing and healing postures, Yoga Nidra, and mindfulness into their practices.

Click here to sign up today.

For CEU’s, Email Dana to find out more.

Learn how the movement and meditation techniques of yoga can powerfully compliment Western medical care. Practice evidence-based mindfulness meditations, Yoga Nidra, and breathing skills that can be incorporated into conventional treatment models for behavioral medicine and chronic disease management. Learn the applications of asana – the yoga poses – to alleviate pain and imbalance. Apply proven, peer coaching techniques to overcome client resistance in promoting healthy choices in health and wellness practices.

Dr. Loren Fishman, MD, and team will present evidence and yoga posture techniques to address:

– Neurological and Musculoskeletal Back Pain
– Scoliosis and Bone Health
– Rotator Cuff Syndrome
– Osteoporosis
and more.

Dr. Chris Walling, Somatic Psychologist, will present cutting-edge findings on how yoga addresses mental and emotional imbalances, including:

– Chronic pain
– PTSD and trauma
– Burnout / Stress Management
– Depression
– Anxiety
– Auto-immune disorders
and more.

Learn Yoga Nidra, postures and movement, mindfulness exercises, breathing exercises, and coaching techniques to address a broad array of conditions, including:

– PTSD and trauma
– Anxiety/Depression
– Stress management
– Heart disease and cancer prevention
– Chronic Pain
– Chronic Disease management
and more.

Prema Yoga Therapy trainings cultivate a community of like-minded individuals, sharing healing approaches from ancient traditions within evidence-based perspectives. Medical Yoga Therapy prepares professionals to integrate yoga into medical care, whether they work in yoga, complimentary medicine, or Western medicine. Approaches are practical, experiential, and evidence-based. Perfect for yoga teachers, therapists, mental health and medical providers alike.

Learn how the movement and meditation techniques of yoga can powerfully compliment Western medical care. Practice evidence-based mindfulness meditations, Yoga Nidra, and breathing skills that can be incorporated into conventional treatment models for behavioral medicine and chronic disease management. Learn the applications of asana – the yoga poses – to alleviate pain and imbalance. Apply proven, peer coaching techniques to overcome client resistance in promoting healthy choices in health and wellness practices.

Click here to sign up today.

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For Dana’s Weekly Schedule click here.