Sunday, August 27, 2017

Here’s How To Help The Victims Of Hurricane Harvey #HurricaneHarvey

Donations of food, money and blood are all sought.


The devastation from Hurricane Harvey continues to be felt throughout Texas, as heavy rains and catastrophic flooding are expecting to continue for days.
Although the extent of the damage and death toll is not yet clear, the National Weather Service is already calling the storm “unprecedented.” Major highways are submerged in floodwaters, emergency services have received thousands of calls and authorities are urging residents to stay in place.
Recovering from the disaster could take years, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. There are an untold number of homes and people affected, and the additional flooding and rainfall is set to make the situation even worse.
As emergency services, charities and aid groups gear up to address the massive need from Harvey, here are some ways that you can help.

1. Donate Or Volunteer

A plethora of organizations are appealing for donations to help them as they send volunteers and supplies to the hardest-hit areas.
Food banks throughout Texas are also accepting donations for people affected by the storm. You can donate money to Feeding Texas, a network of the state’s food banks, here. Additionally, the Elgin Courier has compiled a list of food bank locations throughout the region that may need donations of food or supplies.
The local Texas Diaper Bank is putting together disaster relief kits for families with young children. You can donate here
There is also the Coalition For The Homeless, which helps coordinate shelters and outreach for the city’s vulnerable homeless population.
Portlight is a local organization that offers relief to the disabled and older adults. 
The Rockport-Fulton Chamber of Commerce is raising funds to assist in recovery efforts in those two communities, which were especially hard hit when the hurricane first made landfall. You can donate here.
Crowdfunding site GlobalGiving has launched a hurricane relief fund aimed at gathering funds for local nonprofits in the storm-stricken region.
Animal shelters and rescue groups are taking in numerous pets displaced by the storm ― ones that got lost in the chaos, were left behind, or simply need temporary housing while their owners stay in evacuation shelters. Those groups include the SPCA of TexasAustin Pets Alive!Dallas Animal Services and the San Antonio Humane Society.
A number of online fundraising sites have also been set up through GoFundMe, with donations benefiting everything from hurricane and disaster relief groups to animals and families in need. The full list of fundraisers can be viewed on GoFundMe’s Hurricane Harvey Relief page.

2. Donate Blood

Blood centers expect a supply shortage because of the closure of some blood banks along the Texas coast and the likely demand stemming from injuries sustained in the storm. Centers have put out calls for extra donors to help deal with the aftermath.
You can find donation centers or blood drives for the South Texas Blood & Tissue Center here, or for Texas organization Carter BloodCare here.
And even if you’re not in Texas, you can search online for blood drives local to you or book an appointment via the Red Cross website.

3. Provide Accommodation For Evacuees

Airbnb has launched a portal so that the people who have been displaced by the hurricane can find a place to stay. It’s also waiving fees for people affected by the disaster. More details are available on the Airbnb website here.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

What Is Yoga? This May Sound Like A Silly Question But Is It? #Yoga

To start with...This post is not about judgement. In all honesty I'm glad that people in general are seeking ways to move and improve themselves, ideally with proper instruction to progress and avoid injuries.

What is yoga? In the simplest form the answer is that it is an ancient system for healing for mind and body in Hindu tradition. What you may not know is many things that are called yoga created in and for our Western society are not actually yoga in any traditional sense.  While it is great that people are doing these practices, many are externally rather than internally focused as yoga is meant to be practiced.

The most basic core of the physical practice, actually 8 limbs, is pranayama. Pranayama is internal breath control, during practice as Ujjayi breath. Therefore if you are not breathing properly you are stretching, not doing yoga.

Some of the things we are told are not quite correct: One of those things is things is that you are "detoxing" while sweating during hot yoga practices. In traditional yoga your internal organs detox by internally heating your body through breath (pranayama), movement (vinyasas), the positions (asanas)  and internal locks (bandhas). With external heat you are mostly just sweating. The assumption that all sweat is bad is also not true. In traditional yoga you practice with a clean body,  ideally with a hot shower,
the toxins evaporate and you rub the good minerals back into your skin to reabsorb.




Thursday, August 10, 2017

New York's Newest Yoga Studio, Fifth Avenue Yoga, Is Expanding And Seeking New Space In Manhattan #Yoga #YogaInNewYork

New York's newest  yoga studio, Fifth Avenue Yoga, is expanding and seeking new space in Manhattan. The studio is a collaboration between senior Ashtanga yoga teacher, Allen Barkus (yes me) and Yoga Works trained Hannah Han.

Ideally we are seeking a shared space with a dance studio or loft willing to do a 60/40 revenue split.
For contact info please go to www.fifthavenueyoga.com .

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Your Breath Is Your Brain’s Remote Control #Yoga #Pranayama

lungs illustration

Alexandr Mitiuc/Adobe Stock
A new study has found evidence to show that there is actually a direct link between nasal breathing and our cognitive functions.
We have all heard this simple saying during times of trouble: “Take a deep breath in.” Science being science, however, indicates that we may now have to update this old adage to read “Take a deep breath in it will help you be more emotionally aware but only if you inhale specifically through your nostrils and not your mouth—good luck.”
While this may seem a lengthy tip to recall in the midst of uh-oh moments, the power of active breathing—voluntarily inhaling and exhaling to control our breathing rhythm—has been known and used throughout history. Even today, in tactical situations by soldiers, or in extreme cold conditions by the Ice Man, we know that slow, deep breathing can calm the nervous system by reducing our heart rate and activating the parasympathetic (calming) nervous system. In this way, our bodies become calm, and our minds also quieten. Recently, however, a new study has found evidence to show that there is actually a direct link between nasal breathing and our cognitive functions. 

We have all heard this simple saying during times of trouble: “Take a deep breath in.” Science being science, however, indicates that we may now have to update this old adage to read “Take a deep breath in it will help you be more emotionally aware but only if you inhale specifically through your nostrils and not your mouth—good luck.”

How Nasal Breathing Influences the Brain

Northwestern Medicine scientists were interested in understanding how breathing affects the brain regions responsible for memory and emotional processing. Through a series of experiments, they discovered that nasal breathing plays a pivotal role in coordinating electrical brain signals in the olfactory “smell” cortex—the brain regions that directly receive input from our nose—which then coordinates the amygdala (which processes emotions) and the hippocampus (responsible for both memory and emotions). We know that the “smell” system is closely linked to the limbic brain regions that affect emotion, memory and behaviour, which is why sometimes a particular smell or fragrance can evoke very strong emotional memories. This study shows, additionally, that the act of breathing itself, even in the absence of smells, can influence our emotions and memory.
Initially, the scientists examined the electrical brain signals of 7 epilepsy patients with electrodes in their brains, and found that the ongoing rhythms of natural, spontaneous breathing are in sync with slow electrical rhythms in our brain’s “smell” region. Then, they also found that during nasal inhalation, the fast electrical rhythms in the amygdala and hippocampus became stronger. One way to understand this is to think of the system as an orchestra: our nasal breathing is the grand conductor, setting the tempo for the slow playing of the smell regions of the brain while weaving in the faster rhythms of the emotion and memory regions.

The In-Breath Encodes Memories and Regulates Emotions

To further understand these synchronous effects that nasal breathing has on our brain regions, the scientists then conducted separate experiments on 60 healthy subjects to test the effects of nasal breathing on memory and emotional behavior. Subjects were presented with fearful or surprised faces, and had to make rapid decisions on the emotional expressions of the faces they saw. It turns out that they were able to recognize the fearful faces (but not surprised faces) much faster, when the faces appeared specifically during an in-breath through the nose. This didn’t happen during an out-breath, nor with mouth breathing. The scientists also tested memory (associated with the hippocampus), where the same 60 subjects had to view images and later recall them. They found that memory for these images was much better if they first encountered and encoded these images during an in-breath through the nose.
Our in-breath is like a remote control for our brains, directly affecting electrical signals that communicate with memory and emotional processing centers.
These findings show a system where our in-breath is like a remote control for our brains: by breathing in through our nose we are directly affecting the electrical signals in the “smell” regions, which indirectly controls the electrical signals of our memory and emotional brain centers. In this way, we can control and optimize brain function using our in-breath, to have faster, more accurate emotional discrimination and recognition, as well as gain better memory.
So taking a breath in through our nose can control our brain signals and lead to improved emotional and memory processing, but what about the out-breath? As mentioned earlier, slow, steady breathing activates the calming part of our nervous system, and slows our heart rate, reducing feelings of anxiety and stress. So while the in-breath specifically alters our cognition, the act of slow, deep breathing, whether the inhalation or exhalation, is beneficial for our nervous system when we wish to be more still. In fact, mindful breathing emphasizes not only the breathing component, but also the mental component of paying attention and becoming aware of mind, body and breath together. By observing in a non-judgemental manner, without forcing ourselves to “get to” some special state, we are in fact then able to watch our minds and feel our bodies more clearly. This in turn becomes a path to insight and a practice we can keep working on. Our breath is powerful enough to regulate emotions and help us gain clarity, and to fully do so we must also make the effort to center our minds to the here and now.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Sri K. Pattabhi Jois Teaches.mov

https://youtu.be/ttRaZkigQmQ


This video is for those interested in Ashtanga Yoga who never had the opportunity to study with Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, or those who want to remember him. He chants the Ashtanga opening prayer, leads Surya Namaskara B, calls out a few asana names and counts breaths. He briefly discusses several aspects of Ashtanga Yoga.- Baird Hersey

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Guest Post: The Shadows Of Yoga & Spirituality: I Was Raped By My Yoga Teacher In India #ProtectWomenWorldwide



THE SHADOWS OF YOGA & SPIRITUALITY: I WAS RAPED BY MY YOGA TEACHER IN INDIA.


In writing this I hope to spark a flame in my fellow practitioners, teachers, potential seekers, women, and men in this world to be open to the possibility that everything has a shadow. I believe we have the responsibility to turn into, rather than away, from these more challenging aspects and hold all members of a spiritual community accountable for their actions, teachers and students alike. Specifically, our teachers are human like ourselves and are just as capable of inflicting wounds as they are to evoking healing.
This is a demand for Yoga Alliance to seriously invest time and money into creating a task force that can thoroughly investigate previous and current accusations of sexual assault in the industry, and to be transparent about these investigations with the general public to ensure a safer environment.
This is a plea to teachers that they require of themselves ongoing self-reflection and welcome outside measures of accountability knowing that they too can be deluded by these less “spiritual” parts of themselves and by projections others place on them, especially when in a role of “expert”. Though our levels of experience with the practice vary, I believe we are all students, and we are all teachers to one another. As a young woman seeking teachings for my own growth and healing I fell prey to a man who prescribed to this power dynamic, and even once told me, “I’m going to make you famous.” I looked at him in confusion because I had come back to India only to help teach the practice at his Yoga Shala. In my innocence, and perhaps blindness, I was taken advantage of in a very damaging way.  My body was invaded to the fullest extent; in the fall of 2013, I was raped by my own Yoga teacher, and owner of a major school in India that is in full operation still to this day.
I will never forget the sleepless days leading up to leaving India… the all night bus ride that took me to Mumbai…my traumatized body trying to make sense of what happened. I could not go to the police. I had witnessed the man who raped me pay them off on a weekly basis to ensure his illegal activities were covered. I was terrified of what worse things might happen to me if I did report him.
Heading down the crowded Indian streets in Goa I had a panic attack right before a scheduled meeting with my teacher (the owner of the school) and the other instructors for what we were going to teach in the courses coming. I turned my scooter around, called my husband at the time and told him I had to come home NOW. After returning to the United States I went to Planned Parenthood and reported the rape in a private room.  I had my frail body examined in fear I had been given a permanent marking of disease. Later I would learn from lawyers that because it wasn’t reported in India there would be no chance for justice, no matter how many reports made in the United States.
So I will say it again, and please pay attention. This is the voice of a woman who was raped by her own Yoga teacher; by a man who [still] owns a well-known school in India, Sampoorna Yoga School. Very few have wanted to face my trauma; nobody seems to want to dethrone the man who owns such a large school or disturb the romantic idea of Yoga only for healing. Instead, most want to avoid these dark truths, spiritually bypass the pain and focus solely on the “sunshine and rainbow” essence of Yoga. There are, however, a few who have left the school since I told them and witnessed inexcusable behavior, and for that I am eternally grateful.
This is the voice of a woman who has cried, yelled, hid herself in shame, and made repeated attempts to serve justice. This is not a call for sympathy; this is a call for action and a call for others to join with me in putting a stop to this happening again. A call to those within the legal world to investigate how this man, Deepak Sharma, could be brought to justice, and a call to help me hold the organization Yoga Alliance accountable for turning a blind eye to the allegations made back in 2015.
They [Yoga Alliance] are a multi million-dollar company paid to provide oversight. In their code of ethics they state that they hold schools and teachers accountable to “Avoid words and actions that constitute sexual harassment or harassment based on other legal protected characteristics” (Yoga Alliance Code of Conduct, 2016). They clearly are in violation of this moral and legal imperative. I wrote and contacted them several times. They responded on February 19, 2015, that they would “look into the matter,” but I never heard back from them. It has been over a year and I refuse to wait any longer and demand action be taken immediately.
Sampoorna Yoga School is still in good standing with Yoga Alliance. I am afraid other women similar to myself continue to visit the aforementioned school, and perhaps other questionable schools within the Alliance, and continue to be taken advantage of.
I recently spoke at a Jungian conference and told my other story of molestation and recovery in the wilderness, as this [speaking up about my assaults] is one of my commitments I have made as an adult woman to change what is happening in this world. After the presentation I had eight of 50 women come up to me over the next two days and whisper with tears in their eyes, “Me too.” 
My prayer is that women, men, and children who endure this abuse do not have to whisper anymore, and that these practices and teachings lead us to inhabit and empower our body rather than vacate it in search of something “better” outside of us.
This is the story of a woman who is speaking because I believe we can face this. This is most importantly a story of us… standing together in solidarity and restoring not only balance to the scales of justice, but also restoring the balance of shadow with sun. For there to be rainbows, we need both.
Thank you.
Cori Wright
**TO TAKE ACTION**
@YogaAlliance #IDemandACTION #ProtectWomenWorldwide
  1. Share this post in your community to help encourage others to speak up, or simply know they are not alone.
  2. Write, tweet, call, etc. (whatever your social media platform is…) Yoga Alliance and demand action for this case. If you mention my name and the school they will have my complaints, and also others on file.
  3. If you are a lawyer who thinks you may be able to help me in pro-bono work, please contact me at SalutationsForWomen@gmail.com. I am a graduate student who has expended all of my resources trying to make my case.
  4. Donate time or money to your local resources for other women like me, such as; SASO, Planned Parenthood, or one of these organizations listed on this website: http://greatist.com/happiness/stop-domestic-violence-organizations.
  5. If you are interested in helping me create a non-profit that will work to build refugees and help centers for women who are not as fortunate as me to leave the place where the attack occurred, please contact me personally.
10653879_10152304988090706_1720050018158628888_n
Cori Wright is currently living in New Mexico and pursuing her masters of science in Somatic Psychology in order to help other victims of sexual assault and chronic illness in wilderness based settings.
Original post: https://yogalivesdotorg.wordpress.com/2017/03/14/the-shadows-of-yoga-spirituality-i-was-raped-by-my-yoga-teacher-in-india/

Useful resource: http://travelorereport.blogspot.com/2015/07/sexual-assault-support-help-for.html