Turn Holiday Fear into Cheer Through Yoga!

Feeling stressed about the holidays? An oxymoron most fall prey to. Holidays are a time to celebrate, be grateful, eat, drink and be merry. Right?! How in the world could this stir up fear, worry, anxiety and stress us out? Through yoga we can turn our fear into cheer without changing anyone or anything around us. How? Shift our own mind and attitude! There are two paths of yoga in particular that will enable us to be joyful and free this holiday season.

First, it is important to note that YOU CAN’T MAKE EVERYONE HAPPY! Make choices, stick to them, and let go. There will always be those who get upset; it is not your job to prevent this. Someone will likely be disappointed in you. That might not change. Most people are self-focused. All they are concerned with is what they are receiving or what they want from you. You cannot win this battle!

Second, nobody is going to change for you this year, so don’t expect it. Let everyone be who they are! If someone changes --great!  If they don’t, that is great too! The alcoholic who drank too much last year and the year before, and caused a ruckus, will do it again this year! If you cannot handle it, then do not go. Be prepared for them to act according to their own nature and have a great time watching the show! Otherwise, you will be disappointed and upset from your own unrealistic expectations. Properly assess each person that you may be in contact with and you will be entertained! If the turkey or tofurkey was dry last year, guess what? IT WILL LIKELY BE THE SAME THIS YEAR! The asshole in the family will be the asshole. In fact, everyone will be themselves. With this attitude you will be in great spirits and enjoy a wonderful holiday.

Beyond the perceptions, emotions, and thoughts lies our essential true Self. Yoga is the union to our higher Self within. Since all human beings have three material equipments, there are three yoga practices prescribed to each of them. We have a body that perceives and acts, a mind that emotes and feels and an intellect that reasons and contemplates. The following two yoga practices will serve us well through the holidays:

  1. Karma yoga is the path of action for the body. Act in a spirit of service and sacrifice.

    a) Focus on GIVING rather than taking. Think about what we may contribute, help, serve and give. That wipes out any thinking about what we want. Wanting, craving, expecting and yearning are all forms of stress and agitation. Once we get what we want, we then develop a fear of losing that thing or being.

    b) If you are worried about what food you will be able to eat at the holiday table because you observe a vegan or special diet, call the host and ask what you may bring or how you can help. Thinking or asking what they will have for you when you already know the answer will only add agitation. Who cares if there is nothing you can eat? Will you starve after just one meal? No. Is this really about food? No! Eat beforehand if you have to or eat the things you are able to when you are there. Be happy to be able to share an experience with friends or family!

  2. Bhakti yoga is the path of devotion for the mind. Focus on the infinite blessings in each moment followed by a feeling of gratitude. This higher recognition and feeling replaces negative emotions.

    a) Take time to notice that you woke up today. Not everyone woke up. You were blessed with another day of life. If your eyes are reading these words, you were blessed with sight. What is enabling you to see right now or comprehend this subject? Being aware of an unknown enlivening factor keeps our head out of the gutter.

    b) As you drive to what previously seemed to be a dreadful holiday meal or visit, look out the window and acknowledge Mother Nature: the leaves changing or falling, snowflakes creating a winter wonderland, rain replenishing the earth, sun giving vitality. These thoughts will help outweigh the bullshit that goes on in our mind and lift us right up.

These two yoga practices will empower us throughout life and especially the holiday season. Never again do we need to fret on a holiday. Override your FEARS.

Happy Holidays and CHEERS,

CP 

Lose your Preferences, play your role and SOAR!

Are we climbing higher, staying the same, or sinking? We get in our own way when making choices for ourselves every day. What exactly gets in our way and controls our life? The answer is our preferences, impulses, desires, ego and emotion. To put it simply: it is our own MIND. If the mind runs the show we sink. If our intellect - inner voice of reason - runs the show we SOAR. 

Humans have three marvelous equipments; a body, mind and intellect. Our body houses our organs of perception and action. Our mind houses our feelings/emotions, preferences and impulses. Our intellect is our ability to think logically, and when properly developed, directs and guides the body and mind! Beyond these material layers lies an enabling factor. Some call it God. Others refer to it as Spirit, Soul, Self, Atman, Brahman or another name. We have both… we may stay in the material realm, or we may use the material to reach the spiritual.

We have various roles that we play in our lives. When making a living, what is your role? "I am a teacher, lawyer, therapist, accountant, barista..." Then your job is to teach, practice law, listen to people and give sound advice, deal with numbers, make delicious coffee beverages... Stop thinking of what YOU want and just do the job. No matter what you choose to do for a living, it is a ROLE -not a life. Play it, and that’s it!

What is your role as a family member? “I am a wife, father, sister, uncle…” This is still not your life, but rather another role played. Do your duties and fulfill your obligations to the best of your ability! And no, we may not like everything about it.

We have a role in our community and country as well. What is it? Fulfill it and move on.

We label ourselves, "I am a mom, a business owner, salesperson, brother, husband, preacher, political activist, etc.” These are all roles we play but they are not who we really are. To make a living, we have jobs. To make a life, we must use our intellect to guide every motion, emotion, action and reaction. Without a strong intellect we are slaves to our mind and the world. This leads to a mundane existence. Is that all you want? I sure don’t. I want more!

There is way more but how do we get there?

  • Start by having honest dialogue with yourself. Recognize however, the very self that we are talking to, is the very self who also gets us off track by making poor decisions. If you struggle with a decision, reach out and ask for help! You may need to borrow a voice of reason and logic – an intellect! (I have at least six intellects I may borrow at any given time to ensure I’m covered.) 

  • Practice Karma Yoga, having an attitude of service in every action. This will absorb any annoyance, frustration or agitation so that we may play our role and SOAR! Ask: What is my role? How can I contribute? What may I give? You will actually receive more from this way of thinking! The opposite is an attitude of expectation, receiving, wanting, craving…

  • Put your preferences aside and use your intellect to steer. What we like may not be good for us and what we don’t like may indeed be. If we truly want growth, we must understand that the very things that make us uncomfortable also make us stronger.

Previously, I had little money and still went to India to study with my guru. Why? Because I was miserable and knew the only way out of that misery was to immerse myself in higher knowledge in an environment where I could not get lost in my preferences. I followed the schedule even when I didn’t want to. I did what I needed to do to get out of my own way and rise above my own bullshit that was pulling me down. 

I could go on and on about how most of my day is filled with actions that I do not prefer to do.

I play many roles. None of these define me. I am NOT just a wife, yoga studio owner, a sister, daughter, libertarian… Can you imagine if an actor brought their job home and became the role they played on stage or screen?

We are all seeking the kind of happiness, internal peace and sanity that lasts. Most of the people, places and things we like won't get us there. Our preferences keep us in negative relationships and jobs. Preferences make us eat the wrong foods and put things in our bodies that are not good for us. They mess up our roles and how we play them. They push, pull and toss us up, down and all around. Only our intellect, clear thinking, has an ability to move us in the right direction. What are we doing to develop that? 

If you are growing, you WILL experience discomfort. I'm with you! I feel that every day.... It’s uncomfortable but it also helps catapult us to a higher level of living! A yogi is a seeker looking for more than a mundane existence. Examine your whims and fancies - likes and dislikes -preferences and realize they have very little value... what are they getting you? 

 

Let’s stop being slaves and become true yogis. 

 

Save your own ass today. Lose your preferences, play your role and SOAR!

 

CP

 

Attach you Lose, Detach you Gain... A True Tale...or maybe 'Tail'

When you know you already have everything you need and set higher goals, things come to you.

 

“The way to gain anything is to lose it.” Swami Rama Tirtha

For most of my life, companionship has mainly come from dogs. What I did not realize was my intense attachment.

Attachment is a series of thoughts flowing in a particular direction that become stronger. For example, Mary thinks of Paul. She likes him. She starts thinking more and more about him. She can’t stop thinking about him. Now, she wonders what he is doing, where he is, when she will see him next, why hasn’t he called... These smaller thoughts pile up resulting in mental disturbance, agitation and stress. Imagine the effect this would have on a relationship. The attachment effectively pushes the object of desire further away from us rather than bringing us closer. Anything our mind fixes on may lead to attachment.

Detachment does not mean a lack of caring, feeling, missing or loving. In fact, it includes all of those MINUS mental disturbance! You will live your own life - not someone else's - and be free from worry and anxiety. You gain more peace and happiness. Isn’t this what everyone wants? However, most of us live in a bubble of ignorant bliss. We remain wrapped up and bound by our attachments. Anyone want out of this cycle?

The only way out is in! Because we are NOT Self Realized we feel a void. This pressure causes thoughts to flow out towards the world so that we fill up and feel good TEMPORARILY! These thoughts manifest for worldly things that manifest further into attachment. We stop the cycle by developing our intellect.

The intellect is not our intelligence. Intellect is our voice of reason. It has the job of overseeing and guiding our perceptions and actions of our body. It also oversees feelings, impulses and preferences of our mind. Essentially, intellect is life’s steering wheel. There are two specific things we can all do right now to tune up our intellect:

  1. Do not accept or take anything for granted.

  2. Question everything. Do not believe anything to be true unless it is backed by sound reason and logic.

Now for the true tale: Almost four years ago, I met and fell madly in love with a man who is now my husband, David. As we dated, he did not pretend to be interested in yoga or my dogs as he was indifferent towards both! Despite his loathing of dog hair, smell and drool he suggested the dogs and I and move in to his house with his two roommates! Knowing this would be a difficult living situation, it would also be a determining factor in moving our relationship forward. It was a test run and, while it was rough, we survived. We moved into our own home shortly after, and it was a HUGE adjustment for all of us. My dogs were no longer allowed in my bed. I also made a promise to David that I would not get another dog unless that was something he wanted too. And I really meant it! Over years of developing and sharpening my intellect, I realized the value of what a person contributed to a relationship, my life and the world. This was more important than if they did yoga or wanted to live with animals! But yet, I knew that I was attached to my dogs.

Keeping up on every level, serving my husband, tending to our relationship and growing my yoga business are my priorities in life. One of my beloved boxers recently passed. Although I am saddened by the loss and still miss him, I am not overcome by emotion, upset or disturbed. This is a surprising reaction. I am happy to have Kylie, my little boxer girl, and am also prepared for when she is no longer here. I fully accept that there are no more dogs in my life. By adopting higher thoughts and actions, I have outgrown my NEED and attachment to having dogs.

The story doesn’t end there. On Mother’s Day 2018, David said, “I have a surprise for you. I got you a dog!” I actually did not believe him. I did not EVER expect that. As a complete surprise to me, he had been researching and scouting puppies! I was a little nervous to hear his selection, since he is VERY particular and not a fan of the boxer breed… He chose a blue Great Dane. Without hesitation, I said YES as this was a dream breed of mine. For David, this dog will protect me and our home. He also wanted to give me something that he knew I would love. The best part: not asking for this.  Oh… and already being happy without expecting more.

When you know you already have everything you need and set higher goals, things come to you. I was happy with what I had and was not stressed or agitated by wanting another dog. Lose your lower quality desires, attachments, ego, cravings, and possessiveness. You may not gain a Great Dane, but you may gain PEACE OF MIND. That is true freedom. The Dane is icing on the cake!

Here’s to a true ‘tail’ of happiness!

CP

 

EnSoul Yoga Downtown Ferndale Business Spotlight

We are THRILLED to be featured as a Business Spotlight on DowntownFerndale.com

Business Spotlight – EnSoul Yoga

    "It was love at first practice!  Caren experienced yoga for the first time as a 16-year-old young woman and discovered this would be her lifelong purpose. From that moment forward, Caren adopted the principles of yoga and began to live fully in the presence of each one...."

    Read the full article here

    Growing with Integrity

    EnSoul Yoga - Detroit

    Having integrity means doing the right thing in a reliable way. It's a personality trait to admire, since it means a person has a moral compass that doesn't waver. It literally means having "wholeness" of character, just as an integer is a "whole number" with no fractions. Click here to read an official definition of integrity.

    Likewise, the meaning of ensoul is “to endow with a soul” or “to place or cherish in the soul”. EnSoul Yoga aims to draw out, expose and incorporate the integrity and most perfect part that lies within each of us.

    Ironically, many yoga founders, business owners, studios, and instructors as well as major leaders, politicians, institutions and organizations lack integrity. Even though they may cite their mission as working for a higher purpose, there is an alarming rate of misuse and abuse.

    You either have integrity or you don’t and it is also easy to lose...

    One selfish action - GONE!
    One wrong decision - GONE!
     

    Unless you are working every day to be honest, authentic, and develop yourself physically, mentally, intellectually and spiritually, integrity slips away. I realize now, approaching the age of forty, that one cannot have integrity being involved with people, places or even yoga studios lacking integrity. Whatever we are doing contributes to something bigger than us and we will be influenced.

    Many years ago, I was mistreated, often behind the scenes, at a large yoga studio that employed me. However, even at the height of the insanity, I continued to take classes at this very studio from the very person that mistreated me! Upon awareness of supporting both the instructor AND the business, it hit me that my actions did not line up with my intentions AT ALL! Out of habit and pure selfishness, wanting my convenient workout, I went against what I knew was ethical deep within. This was the exact opposite of integrity. I promptly quit!

    YEARS later, I fell into the same MADNESS at another studio that was founded upon the highest ideals. For me, this was worse, as the company lost sight of their original mission. The focus deviated from spiritual education, Vedanta philosophy and raising healthy teachers and community to a goal for profits and power. Practices led to watered down trainings led by unequipped teachers, zero philosophy and a competitive teaching environment. Those that held the standards of integrity were forcibly driven away. By now, it may be a holy sanctuary… However, that is not my concern.

    At present and moving forward, I am solely focused on growing and maintaining MY integrity while building up the EnSoul business. In October of 2016,  EnSoul Yoga - Ferndale, Michigan opened. In February of 2018  EnSoul Yoga – Detroit, Michigan will be open on the top floor of the Guardian building.

    Developing a business with integrity starts from within. There must be good intention, a higher ideal, consistent thought, and right effort and action. Oh - and learning to say NO THANK YOU to anyone or anything that doesn’t line up with the business mission, goal, or brand, Everyone wants something and they will ask, call and email relentlessly! Many people ask to teach, work the desk, manage, host events, sell products, and do special trainings. Even if it could or would bring in more income, I kindly review and often, but not always, reply, “no thanks” when proper alignment is not apparent… To put it straight – that is how things get fucked up!

    Earlier, I was approached with a very tantalizing offer by a well established and well off entrepreneur. I was offered an opportunity to “be recognized worldwide as the yoga director” of a very large corporation. The company would retain the rights to everything I brought to the table and I would gain a bigger name, fame, and a steady paycheck. With gratitude, I declined as it did not align with my core beliefs. Not to mention, I had a new studio, in its baby years, that needed much attention, love and care. EnSoul Yoga’s budding community, devoted and loyal teachers and staff were far too precious to lose or turn my back on. And yes, of course, I would like to spread the mission of EnSoul Yoga to a wider audience – but not without a guarantee of maintaining integrity.

    It is so easy to say YES, It is much harder to say no. The question remains, “what is the right thing to do?” That inquiry alone means you are thinking with integrity. More money, staff, teachers, or locations does not always mean better. This can lead to impulsive decisions based upon ego, feelings or preferences. Careful decisions made from intellect are based on sound judgment, rational thinking and logic, enabling integrity in action within yourself and business.

    All teachers and staff members at EnSoul Yoga are busting their ASS to build their own character inside the studio and out! As a teacher, you may be able to draw a crowd, but if you are not working on yourself, it won’t last. I have witnessed this time and again.

    So, how do you know if someone is working on themselves?
     

    • They are honest.

    • They communicate.

    • They do not make major mistakes.

    • They are open to learn and willing to receive feedback.

    • They work for work's sake.

    • They are givers, not takers.

    • They do extra and do not ask for more.

    • They work in the spirit of service and sacrifice.

    • They do not go rogue -- doing their own thing.

    • They are cooperative.

    • They do not sneak things, like reading personal emails, lie, and then blame a good friend. Yes, this happened… and no, they are no longer working for EnSoul Yoga.  

    Regarding location #2:  the Guardian Building studio. Self discipline for maintaining integrity:
     

    • Daily study of Vedanta literature between the hours of 5-6am - (Gnana Yoga)

    • Daily movement of either yoga, quick 20 minute home workout, or outdoor walks with my dogs. (Physical health)

    • Eating in a way that is respectful of the planet and also best for the health of my body.

    • Being of service, unselfish actions - (Karma yoga)

    • Doing my best to fulfill my obligatory duties to my husband, close friends, and family.

    • Awareness and gratitude of divinity and multiple blessings - (Bhakti yoga)

    In order to do all of the above, there’s just no way to please everyone. This may seem selfish, but my job is not to run around making sure everyone likes me! Something you may not know is that I am an introvert! Honoring my nature and preserving myself is the only way to have and maintain integrity in thought, action, business and life.

    Here’s to integrity in the New Year and in the new EnSoul Yoga - Detroit!!!

    Namaste and plug EN,
    CP


     

    EnSoul Yoga featured in Michigan Homes


    We were recently featured on Michigan Homes, one of the top sites for Clinton, MI Real Estate. Check out the article here: EnSoul Yoga Enhances Body And Mind.

     

    "Yoga philosophy, the higher teachings and values of life are weaved into all classes," Paskel said. "This is what changed my life, and why I opENed EnSoul! While most studios focus on the physical, we focus on community, self development, spiritual education, and internal change that will positively influence and impact others and the world."

     

    Read more at MichiganHomes.com

     

    What are you practicing?

    Yoga studios are popping up everywhere, which is amazing. We are seeing, hearing and experiencing all kinds of hybrids from acro, SUP (standup paddleboard), and hip-hop, to beer/wine tasting and even goat therapy yoga!

    What are you practicing and is it yoga?

    The more important question to ask yourself is do you truly want to grow and evolve on every level; physical, mental, intellectual and spiritual? How does one measure the success of their yoga practice? One of my yoga teachers years ago, who was recently featured on a yoga magazine cover, would say in class, “you measure the success of your yoga practice by the length of your breath.” 

    What a beautiful and untrue sentiment.

    Mastering every kind of pranayama out there will never master the mind. The mind is what masters the breath. Controlled breathing temporarily calms and energizes the body, creating a more conducive environment to think clearly. If you've been told or believe that yoga practice is about deep breathing and posing, then yes it would make sense to think you are practicing yoga.

    Yoga comes from the root word “yuj” which means to yoke, join, bind, unite. To join with what? Your real Self. Not the self we think of or have come to know, not our flesh and bones, perceptions, actions, emotions, thoughts, gender, religion, job, or any of the roles we play in our lives. The Self, with a capital S, refers to your higher Self within. Synonyms for the Self are divinity, light, potential, Godhood, or whatever transcendental name you prefer. The mere meaning of Yoga assumes we are separated or divorced from our true Self. Yoga brings us back home to where we belong, to the Self. The scriptures tell us that this is the point of life! Anything we take up that moves us closer to our Self is yoga, PERIOD. If goat or float yoga, straps, blocks, or swinging from silks does this, so be it. Is it though? Is our so called “yoga practice” really getting us to our higher Self or is it getting us more entangled with our material layers and caught up in the mundane world, and how can we tell? Are we going in circles as we hop around to every studio and class for a better deal, latest style, best personality, flow, or playlist, who can get us off, or the studio that can make us sweat the most? Perhaps we are just spiritual shopping, going everywhere else but inside ourselves. Spiritual growth cannot be measured physically. The only way to gain the Self, which is a state called enlightenment or Self realization, is to remove all that is in the way. What stands between us and our real Self are desires. The practice and process of eradicating desires is called yoga.

    Desires veil the Self. In every religion, they are what stand between us and our Godhood. Etymologically religion and yoga have the same meaning! They both were designed to bring us back to our origin. Funny how WE humans took these practices and messed them both up.

    Here is an equation: desires - human = God and God + desires = human.

    The goal of yoga is to remove all our desires to get to our true Self within. If a yoga pose could get us there, that would be wonderful. But it doesn’t, and yet in our Western culture this is the main focus. The poses will aid your physical health, which is an essential prerequisite for spiritual evolution, but will never get rid of desires. We believe that a means to an end is an end itself and it’s time we wake up if we really want to grow.

    This may be news to your ears, even though you have taken innumerable yoga classes and perhaps even yoga teacher training! The teacher and knowledge will appear when one truly wants it.

    If you are still reading...you want to know the truth.

    According to the ancient yogis, Hinduism and the scriptures, human beings came into the world from our past unfulfilled desires. We can spend our lives increasing our desires moving away from our Self or decreasing desires and moving towards our Self. The choice is ours. Enlightenment is a state of desirelessness. We are not born enlightened. Because of this we feel a void within. That void is our unknowing/ignorance of our Self. This void within causes our thoughts to flow towards the world to fill it up! The thought currents are called desires. Initially it may feel good to fulfill a desire, but no sooner fresh ones spring up. How do we get out of this cycle?

    Yoga, just like everything else, seems to be slipping so far away from its roots that it has lost its meaning and has become a mockery. People sell poses and meditation as they are the easiest to communicate and make money off of. Meditation is the highest practice, top rung on the spiritual ladder, yet the masses who are not even close to being prepared for it are meditating! Just because you feel good after yoga, open up your hips, shed some tears, get in touch with various emotions, finally nail a pose after months of effort, or sit quietly ohming does not mean you are practicing yoga or meditating! There is nothing wrong or bad about any of the above. Building our bodies, increasing our awareness, confidence, patience, and compassion are beneficial but will not burn desires...

    So what now?

    We educate ourselves on the subject.

    We have three marvelous equipments; body, mind and intellect. There is a yoga practice for all three!

    1. Karma yoga, yoga of action, was prescribed to the body.
    2. Bhakti yoga, yoga of devotion, was prescribed to the mind.
    3. Jnana yoga, yoga of knowledge, was prescribed to the intellect.

    These three disciplines must be practiced daily in the correct proportion, according to your nature, to dissolve desires and eventually gain the Self. When desires are gone, all that is left is YOU, the Self. Physical yoga breathing and postures are meant to keep our body healthy and fit enough to do the three yogas above! Most students remain stuck in physical exercises achieving nothing more than physical gains. If that is all you want than you have no problem. But if you think you are practicing yoga, think again. You may have your yoga face on during class and after, but how long does that last? How long does it take to agitate you, for stress to build back up and to need yoga class again?

    1. Using our body to serve is called karma yoga. This means to be of service! If you open the door for someone or let them pass in front of you, you’re practicing karma yoga! Karma yoga has nothing to do with a pose. However, if your body is unfit you won’t be able to serve anyone so that is what asana and pranayama is for!
    2. Using our mind to be aware of divinity splashed everywhere is bhakti. You can practice this anywhere. While getting out of your car, take a look up at the sky and notice how incredible it is. Notice the change of seasons, humanity, everything and anything. Being in awe, followed by a feeling of gratitude is bhakti. No need to chant for inspiration, although if it works do it!  
    3. Using our intellect to contemplate on higher values of life is called jnana yoga. Study and reflection, meaning your own thinking, on true knowledge from the scriptures. When we take the time to reflect upon, absorb, and apply eternal values of life and living directly to our lives, this is jnana!

    The three yogas are a methodical way to gain the Self. How you measure your yoga practice is by measuring your desires and sanity! When you have a bundle of desires you will be agitated or stressed and your senses will run towards the world for pleasures while the world pulls you in. When your desires decrease, so do agitations. As you turn more introverted, you need less from everyone and what the world has to offer. Joy automatically increases as well as clarity of thought, objectivity, and an overall sense of peace!

    This is just the beginning.


    If you want to learn more check out EnSoul Yoga. Our study groups and teacher trainings help to educate on this topic. Going straight to the source is always best. For the true masters visit vedantaworld.org and vedantamidwest.org. We have a teacher right here in Detroit, Amit Kinikar.

    Here’s to practicing yoga!

    CP