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Behind The Asana: Episode 29 - The Story of Vishvamitra

Vishvamitra was a king in India, who is known for his spiritual journey. One day, when visiting the sage Vashista, Vishvamitra saw and demanded that Vashista give him this cow who could manifest anything. When Vashista denied his request, as it was a divine gift, Vishamitra declared war on the sage. Vishamitra and his entire army fought against Vashista and his cow, but the cow manifested a great army and soon, Vishvamitra was defeated. Realizing all he had lost, and all the happiness that Vashista, this spiritual man had, began Vishvamitra on his journey. 

The spiritual growth of Vishvamitra is one that we can look to as guidance, as it is not straight forward. When we begin on the path towards light, it's not always clear, and it is not easy. However, as the story of Vishvamitra tells us, we must keep going.

Please like, comment and share! If you have any questions, feel free to email me at adishaktrirising@gmail.com.

Goddess Rising: Stephanie Birch

Every week, we are so blessed to share this space here on the Passion Yoga School blog with some of the incredible ladies of the health, wellness and personal development community. This is our chance to connect and collaborate with these incredible movers and shakers, as they do great things, follow their passions and make the world a better place. This week, Stephanie Birch took the time to share her thoughts with us!

"I came for the sweat and found a way of life." I was hooked from my very first yoga class. As a longtime athlete, yoga was the perfect dose of physical exertion I longed for after a lifetime of sports and playing tough. It wasn’t until after I had my son that I truly began to connect with yoga as a way of life. Yoga became my breath on and off the mat, it has strengthened my mind and body, soften my shell, teaches me to live in the present, and it serves as a conduit to my Soul's purpose.

In my everyday life, I am a play-at-home mom, yoga teacher, life photographer, writer, fire-starter, online contributor, Soul Activist, Tahoe-lover, a sucker for dark chocolate, dark beer, coffee, cartwheels, boardgames, and a life well-lived barefoot and pants-less. “No pants are the best pants,” is the norm in our household. You can practice online with me at www.oneOeight.tv or in Sacramento, California. You can find me writing wide-open heart as a wanna-be comedian and squealing on my best days at www.stephynow.com.
 

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Passion Yoga School: How do you use your work as a spiritual tool?

Stephanie Birch: My work is really doing the work, no bypassing or excusing my own self-devotion. It is about showing up to the very lessons and themes I teach in a yoga class. I don't fall back on traditional texts, regurgitated cues, or lessons from another. That wouldn't be real for me. It is important for me to actively participate in this practice than cover my tracks or basis with longitude of experience.

My job, as a teacher, is to coach people to feel in a yoga class. To get absolutely in touch with themselves by challenging the physical, mental, and emotional bodies. I refuse to teach people from a place of fear or that there is only way to practice yoga. We do a disservice to teach that yoga (especially, asana) is a one-way system, as if all bodies are built the same, they are not. Alignment brings awareness, it does not keep you safe. It's important to empower people to be responsible for their practice, it's that dedication and self-awareness that keeps them encouraged. I am passionate about getting people to really fuck up the insides and get to know themselves deeply, discovering that they are their greatest teacher. It is not my job to make their time on the mat "good or bad" or that they're doing it "right or wrong." As if practicing one or two limbs of the "yoga path" is not enough, it's more than enough. It's a personal practice and the system is designed to connect you to your highest self.

It's about empowering my students, evolving the practice, and always teaching from a place of fierce love. That means getting downright uncomfortable to understand the deepest depths of ourselves, our relationships, and our lives. 

PYS: The cracks are how the light gets in. Tell us how your core wounds have inspired your work.

Stephanie: My wounds have brought me here. They have given birth to a life of getting fucking real. I used to be such a pretender, people-pleaser, and not say too much or make a stink and it furthered a career of self-doubt and staying small. My pain has been useful in my survival, overcoming the very things I thought would drown me. Going through depression, as a new mom, put our family in a tail-spin. It is not something that just goes away, it's often resting on shoulder, waiting, plotting, and planning to take it's grip again. It's taken a lot of work to get here and I'm grateful for it. My world changed when I began to understand that the Soul is both light and dark and that love is the inclusion of every emotion, it unlocks the part of you that tethered herself to traumas, abuse, and victim-hood that, although painful, gave me purpose to understanding myself. Pain is a beautiful motivator. We can sink or rise with it.

PYS: What is your worst habit and what are you doing to improve it?

Stephanie: I challenge others and myself to get out of the box of labeling things as "good" or bad" - we need to change our relationship to a gradient scale of "goodness" factor. I used to believe I was a "bad yogi" because I ate meat, drink alcohol, and don't perfectly align with the traditional teachings of the yoga path. There's a lot of shaming that goes on the yoga world and I say, "fuck that noise." It's taken years to understand myself and trust myself in this process and it certainly required me to knock down the "guru" and pedestal complexes. My worst habit, if you will, is second-guessing my intuition or not following my gut-checks with people, relationships, and teachings. Every time, I allow my intellectual to step in above my intuition, it takes the wind out of me. My practice is truly is trust and love myself deeply -- and say "no" a hell of a lot more. 

PYS: What advice would you offer to other goddesses working to actualize their potential?

Stephanie: Trust yourself. Know yourself. Love yourself. I follow along the lines of not asking for advice or giving advice. If there is someone that is coming to me for advice, I lead with questions, understanding, and charge the conversation to bring forth answers he/she already has within. We are such an advice-giving and seeking culture. We already know deep down what we need to do and most of the time, if not all, it means we need to listen to ourselves. Trust ourselves. Tune-in to this inner-knowing and guidance. We are always being guided and that means we must tune out the external to uncover our greatest potential.

PYS: What does your daily spiritual practice look like?

Stephanie: My spiritual practice is to have a human experience in this life. To live out life's ups and downs, trials and errors, and everything between. I believe that we are put on this earth to have a human experience, we are already spiritual Beings. 

PYS: What secrets (past or present) have kept you from living in your truth?

Stephanie: I think one that comes to mind, that isn't necessarily secretive, is growing up with the belief I wasn't ever going to amount to much more than a full-time job, paying bills, and calling it a life. I grew up in a low-middle class family, it's the average American story. My dad worked himself to the bone and my mom stayed home to raise 5 kids. Without being taught, per se, many of us mimic our parents and the "should-do" life. Working yourself to the bone in a job you hate because you have mouths to feed is a scary place to be, it's a trap. I openly talk about this trap and use it to encourage my path to grow and make my contribution to the world by not falling back into generational patterns and belief systems. It's how we change the world, moving away from the tribe and into your own way of life. Taking charge of my life is not easy, by any means, but it's absolutely necessary.

PYS: Who inspires you?

Stephanie: I am inspired by fire-starters and fire-breathers. Women who roar and rage. The ones in-touch with their primal, animalistic selves, speak in truths, and dance in flames. This woman, who is my sister, coach and friend, Diana Vitantonio. Belly to belly.

Behind The Asana: Episode 28 - Bhakti Yoga

Bhakti means ‘devotion’ and this is often seen in the yoga community as a heart centred practice. Bhakti yoga can be explored through things like singing and dancing, but is practiced in anyway that we can use our acts to express gratitude to the Divine. When we use Bhakti yoga, we are allowing our action, in what ever form that manifests for us, to show our devotion and gratitude to the Divine, whether it be singing, dancing, sharing or even in our asana practice.

Please like, comment and share! If you have any questions, feel free to email me at adishaktirising@gmail.com.

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Behind The Asana: Episode 27 - Taking A Spiritual Name

When you take a spiritual name, you are undergoing a rebirth and committing yourself to your sacred path. Spiritual names are traditionally given as part of a ceremony, where your teacher gives you the name that will connect you to this sacred way of life. I was gifted my name, Adi Shakti, by my teacher Yogrishi Vishvketu, and it is something that I carry through life as I pursue my passion and my purpose. 

Going deeper into what it means to take a spiritual name and what my name in particular means, this video explores the meaning of my name and why people take new names on their spiritual journey. Please like, share this video. If you have any questions, you can leave a comment below or send me an email at adishaktirising@gmail.com.

Behind The Asana: Episode 26 - Three Primary Learning Styles

As a student, you might have an idea of what your learning style might be. The three primary styles most commonly found are auditory, visual and kinesthetic, and most people favour one of these. When taking classes, it’s good to seek out a teacher who uses your primary style in their teaching, so that your experience is one that is enjoyable and engaging. As a teacher, it is important to utilize all of these styles so that your students, regardless of how they learn, can engage in your class.

In this video, I go through the different ways that the three primary learning styles might appear in a class and some ways to engage them. Please like, comment, share this video! If you have any questions, feel free to reach out by email at adishaktirising@gmail.com.

Behind The Asana: Episode 25 - Three Types Of Adjustments

In the Passion Yoga School teacher trainings, we talk about the three different types of physical adjustments in a yoga practice - to correct, to deepen into a posture and energetically enhance a posture. By using these adjustments, teachers can help students in class to remain safe in poses, to engage in their practice and to make small changes, guiding students to deepen their awareness in the class.

Please share, like and comment. If you have any questions, feel free to send me an email at adishaktirising@gmail.com.

Behind The Asana: Episode 24 - Chandra Bedhana

Last week, I talked about surya bedhana, which is the way in which we use pranayama to balance the solar energy in our body. This week, we are focusing on how to bring balance back to our bodies with chandra bedhana. Chandra bedhana is the lunar, or feminine, energy in our life, and in this video, I explore how we can bring more of it into our lives through our pranayama practice.

Please like, share and comment. If you have any questions, feel free to send me an email at adishaktirising@gmail.com.

Behind The Asana: Episode 23 - Surya Bedhana

Surya Bedhana is the pranayama practice used to cultivate and balance our solar energy. As humans, we are made up of solar and lunar energy that ebbs and flows as we go through life. When it gets out of balance and we have too much lunar energy, we can use pranayama to reorient ourselves and bring that solar energy back into balance within our bodies. 

Please like, share or comment, let me know what you think! If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at adishaktirising@gmail.com.

Behind The Asana: Episode 22 - Seva

Understanding yoga as “union” calls us to serve others, in selfless service - seva. When we begin to use our energy efficiently, we can begin to give back to others. On a small scale, seva can be done just in our daily lives - serving our friends, family, community selflessly - but it can also be done on a larger scale. Within the yoga community, it has been amazing to see how the social activism, but it is also important to remain conscious, and serve the community and projects through grassroots movements, so that we can avoid ahimsa.

Please like, share or comment and let me know what you think! If you have any questions, please email me at adishaktirising@gmail.com.

Behind The Asana: Episode 21 - Japa Mala Meditation

Similar to rosaries in Judeo-Christian traditions, japa malas act as a tool in meditation to maintain focus as well as having a tactile movement as you go through your mindful practice. I used a japa mala when I first began my meditation practice, and it is a great tool to use for mantra. 

In this video, I explain the japa mala and how to use them in meditation. Please like, share, comment and let me know what you think! If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at adishaktirising@gmail.com.

Behind The Asana: Episode 20 - Sthira & Sukha

Sthira is structure - keeping alignment as you move through the asanas and keeping a routine in your daily activities. Sukha is softness, and it can be found in releasing tension in your poses or allowing for fun and freedom in your daily life. Sthira and sukha allow us to maintain balance in our lives, the structure and softness, that keep us growing, learning and enjoying our lives and our practices.

Please like, share or comment, let me know what you think! If you have any questions, email me at adishaktirising@gmail.com.

Behind The Asana: Episode 19 - Planes of Movement

In the physical practice of yoga, we move our body along three physical planes. In this video, I review the coronal plane, the sagittal plane and the transverse plane. By keeping them in mind throughout your practice, you are able to focus and understand the alignment as you move through twists, folds, backbends, and side bending. It will support you in doing the postures correctly and safely.


Please like, comment, share! If you have any questions, please email me at adishaktirising@gmail.com.

Behind The Asana: Episode 18 - The Anatomical Process Of Breathing

In yoga, we spend so much time focusing on our breath. This week, I go over the anatomical process of breathing. In this video, I explain what exactly happens to our body when we breathe deeply in our practice and the benefits of conscious breathing.  

Please like, share, or comment to let me know what you think! If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at adishaktirising@gmail.com.

Behind The Asana: Episode 17 - Travelling To India

Throughout my time in the yoga community, I have been very blessed to travel to India five times. The motherland of yoga is a parallel universe with so many amazing sights and an incredibly vibrant culture. In this video, I share my tips for travelling to India so that you can enjoy the motherland with more ease.

 

 

Please like, share or comment to let me know what you think! If you have any questions, you can send me an email at adishaktirising@gmail.com.

Behind The Asana: Episode 16 - Jnana & Vijnana

In the Bhagavad Gita, we find the concept of jnana which means wisdom and vijana which is the application of wisdom. In yoga, we understand what we are “supposed” to do - we read the scripture, we know we are supposed to eat well, we know in theory of how we are supposed to act  - this is the jnana. Vijana is when we begin to apply this knowledge into our lives - actually eating well, staying dedicated to our meditation practice. These concepts help us find balance in our lives, and challenge us to keep growing in our practice.

Please like, share or comment, letting me know what you think! If you have any questions, please email me at adishaktirising@gmail.com.

Behind The Asana: Episode 15 - Hinduism & Polytheism

Hinduism is often described as being a polytheistic religion, a religion with multiple gods. However, this idea can be misleading. In Hinduism, there are so many different gods, but they are not necessarily separate. Rather, the different gods in Hinduism are simply different aspects of the same divine energy that exists in you and me. The face of God isn’t uniform - it exists in all of us, and when we pray to Ganesh, or invoke Saraswati, we are calling on a certain aspect of the Divine.


In this episode, I go over Hinduism as I understand it and offer a fresh perspective for Western thinkers. If you have any questions, please email me at adishaktirising@gmail.com.

Goddess Rising: Giovanna Silvestre From Confused Girl In The City

Goddess Rising is our opportunity to connect with some of the amazing women from around the world who are working in the health, wellness and personal development community to empower and inspire. This week, we are happy to have Giovanna Silvestre from Confused Girl In The City!

Hi Everyone,

My name is Giovanna Silvestre and I am the founder of the brand “Confused Girl in the City”. “Confused Girl” started out as a blog 2 years ago. I was a bit lost at the time and wanted to share my feelings with others. I figured, I can’t be the only confused one out there. It’s funny how we feel we’re the only ones when every human being has either been there, is still there or is going to be there again! My blog took a life of it’s own and put me on a spiritual journey to find my true nature. Along this journey I met a healer who had a profound effect on me. He had a collection of crystals and told me to pick two to take home. I had these crystals in my room and felt so much joy when I walked past them. One day I was meditating and I had a vision of creating a line of women’s active-wear that are inspired by these crystals. So with no money and an idea, I started the journey. I had no idea how I was going to make it happen but I knew I had to do it. Now, a year later, I have a full collection, of women’s leggings, we are in select stores in LA, we were featured on VH1 and in Yoga Digest magazine. We are currently working on creating many more exciting products.

THE CRYSTALS:

How do we create the designs? I take high resolution photos of crystals that inspire me and work with an art team to print them onto fabric. Each pair of leggings represents a different stone. The healing crystals balance yin/yang energy and cultivate courage, creativity and healing. Our leggings are 4 way stretch, breathable and made in L.A. We pride ourselves in using the best quality fabric on the market. The leggings are great for working out or going out.

Why “Confused Girl”?

People ask me, “Why the name “Confused Girl”?”. My answer is simple, “It is really easy to accept yourself when you are feeling good and your life is the way you want it. But it isn’t so easy to accept yourself when things are tough and you are confused. We shame ourselves in times we need to be embracing ourselves.” Confused Girl is about accepting yourself just as you are at this moment. This acceptance will lead you to your TRUE NATURE.

For more information on Giovanna, you can visit her website, confusedgirlinthecity.com, and follow her on InstagramYouTube, and Facebook.


Passion Yoga School: How do you use your work as a spiritual tool?

Giovanna Silvestre: I created my job! I brought the brand "Confused Girl" to life. So everyday I have to remember the intention behind my creation. The intention is to help myself and other find their true nature. A transformed person can transform the world. If enough people accept and love themselves, they can accept and love others. 

PYS: The cracks are how the light gets in. Tell us how your core wounds have inspired your work.

Giovanna: My idea for my business came at a rock bottom point in my life. I was as low as I could be. So low that my ego left me and I no longer cared what anyone else thought. It was in that space I was able to create from the core of who I was. The ego has no place in creation.

Sometimes life has to crack you open. I am so grateful for that time in my life. 

PYS: What is your worst habit and what are you doing to improve it?

Giovanna: For me it's more of a feeling. The feeling of anxiety. I struggle with this. I wake up with a great sense of anxiety sometimes and do things carrying this anxiety. Now when I feel this, I embrace it but don't allow it to dictate my behavior. Yoga, meditation and an hour of physical activity everyday really helps with this. 

PYS: What advice would you offer to other goddesses working to actualize their potential?

Giovanna: Face yourself. Embrace not just the light in you but also embrace the darkness in you. We all have shadow sides to our personality. If you never face it, you will never truly move forward in life. Try to look at pain as an opportunity instead of a big scary monster. Face it, feel it and then let it go!

PYS: What does your daily spiritual practice look like?

Giovanna: 10 minutes of meditation in the morning. I write down 5 things I'm grateful for. I either do yoga or take a walk on the beach. When I do this activity I hold an intention with me. I also try to say a prayer before I fall asleep at night. Somedays I do all this and other days I only do a couple of things. It's like exercise the more you do the healthier you look. 

PYS: What secrets (past or present) have kept you from living in your truth?

Giovanna: I tend to be very judgmental of myself and others. This has recently come up in my consciousness very strongly. This shames me a bit because I don't want to be "that person who judges". However, instead of shaming myself, I try to be better. To step into the possibility of being accepting of self and others. Acceptance is everything. When you accept and appreciate, there is no room for judgement. 

PYS: Who inspires you?

Giovanna: Malala Yousafzai inspires me! She is the teenage girl who was shot for speaking out about education for women. She is a modern day hero. We should all step into that kind of bravery. 

Behind The Asana: Episode 14 - Yoga Teacher Trainings

There are so many different options when considering yoga teacher trainings - where to do one, immersion or non-immersion, whether or not you are even ready. While the decision to do a yoga teacher training is a personal one, studying yoga for me was so much more than just being able to teach classes. For so many students, a training is a time of great exploration and development, one that leads to a deeper understanding of yourself and your practice.

 

 

In this episode, I go over what my yoga teacher training meant to me, as well as what you should consider before choosing a program. Please like, share, or comment to let me know what you think. If you have any questions, please email me at adishaktirising@gmail.com

Behind The Asana: Episode 13 - Sanskrit & Mantra

Sanskrit is the ancient language of India, and when we chant Sanskrit, we are actually working to create balance in our brain and energetic body. Mantra is repeating a phrase to focus the mind and create a particular vibration in the body.

In this video, I share my favourite mantra and educate you on the benefits of chanting Sanskrit. Please like, share or comment to let me know what you think. If you have any questions, please let me know at adishaktirising@gmail.com.

Behind The Asana: Episode 12 - Ujjayi Pranayama

Ujjayi Pranayama is something that is very common to find in yoga classes, especially challenging vinyasa flow classes. Ocean’s Breath as it’s called is one of the more widely practiced breathing patterns used in yoga and has so many benefits. In this video, I explain the process of Ujjayi Pranayama more deeply and review why we do it.


Please like, share or comment, let me know what you think! If you have any questions, please let me know by email at adishaktirising@gmail.com.