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Can Vs. Should

Posted on: November 14th, 2017 by Lara Land

“I’m not flexible” is the number one excuse I receive from people as to why they can’t do yoga. First of all, yoga is not something you do. It’s something that happens when the breath, mind, and body come to oneness. Being flexible is not important. In fact, being too flexible can be a hinderance.

Can vs. Should is about flexibility to stability equivalence radar. Just because a student is flexible, doesn’t mean they should go into the deepest most bendy expression of each pose. When arching and contorting compromise strength and stability, alignment, breath, and equanimity, the student has gone too far.

I often see new students looking around at longer practicing ones and whispering that they will never be able to do whatever it is they are doing, or giving a nod to affirm that the visual example they see is one they will start moving toward. This is such a dangerous and unhealthy approach. Each expression of a posture will be unique to the make-up and the needs of the student. Let the teacher be your eyes. Let your feeling body be your guide to repeating your teacher’s adjustments.

We are so eye-centric, leading with the visual in almost all things. Yoga time is a chance to quiet our gaze and awaken the nervous system. Instead of looking with the eyes, try to inspire an awareness of your whole being. Ask your body where it is in space and what it feels inside. If you hear nothing, don’t worry, just keep asking. Over time your body will start to build awareness you never knew it had.

This field of awareness is the start of yoga. It will inform all you do and all you are on and off the mat and the question of what you do with it and all your new abilities is a very important one, especially as your influence grows stronger. (Yes, one of the impacts of yoga is an increase of prana, magnetism, influence.) You may find people, objects, and opportunities coming toward you like never before. These are the instances to use your on-the-mat Can vs. Should practice in the real world.

Can vs. Should is an almost obsolete question here in the US. We seem to have decided as a culture that if it can be done, we should do it, and if it can’t we should try harder. Especially those of us with power and privilege must question the assumption that we should do everything we have the power to do. In fact as our power and influence increase we must be more mindful of each and every action.

The upheaval in Hollywood is a real reminder about using power wisely and about the choice we have to not do all we can do. For our personal practice we can start to look at this question with regards to our energy. As aspiring yogis we know that we don’t need to drill everywhere there may be oil, but we often forget what that means for ourselves. Do we have to do and be it all or is there perhaps a more equitable way to treat our energy and impact in this world? Can we, should we do less?

As you go into the world approaching this difficult Can vs. Should dilemma remember the soft gaze of your practice, and look for answers with your whole being awareness. This is the route to right knowledge. As we experience the wholeness of self, we drop into the wholeness of being which we are a part of and we come to know the ripples and we make mindful choice.

5 Reasons to go...

Posted on: April 10th, 2017 by Lara Land

Too expensive. That was the main reason to keep me from going to yoga festivals for a long time. I thought, how many classes can one possibly take a day and how can it ever be worth it, spending so much money? I got the chance to answer my questions and review my doubts when I got invited to Yoga Conference Germany in Cologne. The experience reached far beyond the practice of yoga asanas. In those two days I laughed until I cried and I cried until I laughed again. I hugged strangers and became close friends with people I had known from yoga classes for a while but never really connected with. I sweat a whole ocean, I sang, I danced and slept like a baby – and overall I felt inspired, happy and in love with my life.

Yoga festivals are a special and sometimes life changing experience. I cannot wait to check out the numerous yoga festivals of North America: In summertime there is a yoga festival happening almost every weekend in the United States and Canada. These events can be pricey, yes. But they don’t have to be: Almost every festival offers selected classes and side-events for free. Most of them have spots open for volunteers that donate their time to support the festival team in exchange for attending classes for free. So, money considerations shouldn’t necessarily stand in the way.

If you are still not sure about whether a day-long yoga celebration is the right jam for you, here my top 5 reasons to at least give it a try.

 

  1. Relax and Re-new: A yoga festival is an active mini-retreat


If a yoga class can be your mini-break from everyday routines of moving (or mostly not moving) and thinking (or mostly worrying), a yoga festival can be a mini-retreat and your go-to when you need quality-time for and with yourself. You might need time to unwind and relax or space to be inspired and feel alive: Yoga festivals give you both and so much more.

Whether the event is happening in a far away place or right in front of the door: As soon as your feet touch the festival grounds you are entering a completely different world. Everything here is set up to make you feel awesome! Far away from your daily routines and to-do-list(s) all you need is to exhale stress and enjoy the offerings of the program to relax and energize. Yogis are known to be a mostly positive, warm and open community wired to connection, so don’t worry to come along on your own or bring a friend if you can.

 

Summer 2017: Yoga Festivals in the USA

You need a time-out from daily routine and a chance to re-boot your system? You are craving new impulses for your yoga practice and inspiration for your life? You would love to meet a bunch of inspiring people and make new friends? Don’t waste a lifetime: Grab your mat and hop on an intense ride of yoga, meditation and music. 

Shakti Fest
May, 12-14, 2017 in Joshua Tree, CA

SoulFest NYC
May 20, 2017 in Harlem, NY

Downtown Yoga Festival
May 20-21, 2017 in Salt Lake City, UT

Wanderlust
June 9-11, 2017 in Snowshoe, WV
June 22-25, 2017 in Bondville, VT

Nantucket Yoga Festival
July 7-9, 2017 in Nantucket, MA

Telluride Yoga Festival
July 20-23, 2017 in Telluride, CO

Beloved Festival
August 11-14, 2017 in Tidewater, OR

Floyd Yoga Jam

August 31 – September 3, 2017 in Floyd, VA

Bhakti Fest

September 7-11, 2017 in Joshua Tree, CA

 

  1. Learn from masters: Renowned yoga teachers share their personal practices

 

Yoga festivals usually invite the most renowned teachers from all over the world that have dedicated their lives to yoga. Some of them teach traditional Yoga styles like David Williams who was one of the first Western students of Ashtanga founder Pattahbi Jois in Mysore, India. Some teachers created their own yoga style like Dana Trixie Flynn and Jasmine Tarkeshi (Lotus Flow), Bryan Kest (Power Yoga), David Life and Sharon Gannon (Jivamukti Yoga). Some are known for their physical mastery of yoga poses like the Canadian yoga Goddess Meghan Currey. Others have specialized in the philosophy and mythology of yoga like Alanna Kaivalya.

Where else do we have the opportunity to meet and practice with so many different expert yogis on one day? It is extremely inspiring and motivating to listen to and learn from passionate teachers who live what they are teaching and teach what they are living.

 

  1. Be inspired, stay inspired: Time to explore and discover new sides of YOU


Most of us in everyday life stick to our one or two favourite teachers and beloved routines without hardly ever trying something new. Yoga festivals are a great opportunity to explore new territory: Most yoga festivals offer a wide range of yoga styles and related topics. The die-hard Power Vinyasa Yogi might discover the bliss of Yin Yoga. The serious Ashtangi may fall in love with the playful Acro Yoga. One might explore mindful and fun “sister” disciplines like aerial yoga, thai yoga massage, dance, hula hoop or parcour. The other might find the time and peace to dig into meditation and breathing techniques.

As much as we need certain routines to save energy, the constant drive on auto-pilot, that many of us so easily get trapped into, can eventually make us feel chronically tired or even depressed. A week-end in the vast and colourful yoga-world is opening the door to step out of our comfort zone: Meeting new people and absorbing new ideas can inspire us to a new perspective on our practice and on our life.

 

  1. Unity in Diversity: Meet your tribe and celebrate togetherness


Yoga attracts people of diverse cultural and social backgrounds. While the diversity of the community makes part of its beauty, separating concepts of our mind like age, nationality, gender, religious beliefs or political backgrounds dissolve into a sphere of acknowledgement, yet insignificance when you meet in yoga pants.

Breathing and moving together creates a sense of belonging with others around you and really brings the uniting practice of yoga to the forefront. Being present at a yoga festival allows us to celebrate that fact with other like-minded people, from all over the country or even the world, while celebrating the wonderfulness of the practice itself.

Heading to your first yoga festival? This is what you need to know.

* Best deal: Look for Early Bird Prizes OR apply to be a volunteer: This way you are supporting your favorite yoga festival and get to go to classes for free. Yay!

* First come, first serve: Reserve, if possible, or come to classes early and save your spot: Most workshops, especially those of very popular teachers, will be filled and sold out quickly

* Plan your day ahead: Prepare a schedule with favorite classes and one alternative class. That way you can quickly re-schedule if needed, and you still have enough time to go to a different location.

* Plan wisely: It is best to alternate asana classes with physically less demanding classes like meditation, massage or mantra chanting. That way you are less likely to burn out and can enjoy the practice even more.

* Food and water: Don’t forget to take breaks to eat and digest. Most yoga festivals cater with delicious vegetarian and vegan meals and desserts. Treat yourself – your body needs the nutrients and hey, this is your quality-time, remember?

* Pack list: You might need to bring your own yoga mat as not every festival offers rental mats. Also: Water bottle, towel, enough yoga wear to maybe change during the day and a cardigan or sweater for cosy savasanas, healthy snacks like fruit and nuts, flip flops for changing locations and public bathrooms, tigerbalm for sore muscles, tampons, since the next drugstore might be far, and a personal journal to note down every spontaneous insights you will probably have

* What to expect: Hundreds of happy and gleaming people in pants or shorts. It can be overwhelming at first but don’t shy away: You are one of them. Latest after the first class you will feel it.

* Don’t forget: Unless you are practicing aparigraha, Sanskrit for non-greediness or temperance, you might want to bring some extra cash and extra space in your luggage. There will be some stands with tempting yoga wear, ayurvedic oils, yoga books, malas etc…

 

  1. Wild and free: Wholehearted living outside the comfort zone


It is this open and safe space of acceptance that can open doors you might not have known even existed. Suddenly you catch yourself climbing on a stranger’s body in acro yoga as if you were born to do so (most probably your are). You take the courage to try that handstand off the wall and fail in laughter. You gaze into a fellow student’s eyes in a partner meditation and don’t feel shame for tears running from your own eyes. You sing and dance your heart out at the Kirtan concert and forget that, just a minute ago, “chanting” didn’t seem to be your thing at all.

Words cannot describe sufficiently what exactly makes the seemingly impossible possible. It is a heart opening mixture of intense practice and a supporting and warm community that melts away inner limitations and, beyond fear, (self-) doubts and shame wakes a deeper truth of ourselves: We are full of potential. Our life can be ecstatic and adventurous. We are wild and free.

__________________________________________________________

Melanie Lotz

As teacher and student, Melanie is dedicated to the fluid and creative yoga practice of Laughing Lotus NYC. With a background in Modern and Contemporary Dance, somatic education like the Alexander Technique and Traditional Thai Massage, in her yoga classes the German native combines her love for healthy alignment with her passion to inspire a life full of expression, truth and love. Melanie wants to watch you become the most radiant and happy version of yourself.

You can follow Melanie on
www.melanielotz.com
www.facebook.com/melanielotzyoga/
www.instagram.com/melanielotzyoga/

Lord Ganesha Ruler of...

Posted on: February 14th, 2017 by Lara Land

Most people think of Parvati or Radha when they think of love Gods, not Lord Ganesha. Me? I think of the elephant headed boy come to dissolve all obstacles. I think of Him because I know the truth, that love isn’t lost and in need of finding. Love is everywhere and in everything, seemingly lacking often due to our own interference.

Rumi said it best.

Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.

Ganesha is great for this! If you are troubling in love I encourage you to make this one change and see what happens. Instead of asking for God or Goddess to send your match or find your mate, ask Ganesha to help you relax your worries, remove your limitations and quiet your objections so that you can allow the love that is there in front of you to be seen, felt, and accepted within.

Limiting beliefs and deep seeded feelings of unworthiness are common in most of us and keep us from the love we deserve. Use these techniques to overcome those hinderances and get all the love you deserve.

1. Journal all the characteristics you desire in a partner. Circle the three you can’t live without.

2. Sit in meditation and a great sun above you come to fill you with golden rays of “Havingness”. Bask in those rays. Offer up your wish in giant balloon that goes to the heavens.

3. Dissolve any anxieties or objections that come up by giving them over to the elephant boy.

As always, Let Me Know How It Goes in your comments here and SHARE!

Recharge in the land...

Posted on: December 30th, 2016 by Lara Land

Imagine 3280 foot high glaciers, volcanoes, wide land, black beaches, fairies and trolls. Standing there, you are surrounded by gush springs impressing you with their shooting water fountains, healing hot springs and fascinating polar lights. Iceland is less than 6 hours from New York, but there you find a whole different world with incredible nature, myths and such a rare energy.

Made of lava, ice, wind and water – Iceland offers you an unique experience which passes its origin and power onto you. Everyone who has been there knows that Iceland is enchanting.

A few highlights:

Biggest volcano-island (Sorry Big Island!)
Glaciers with Europe’s biggest ice volume
Europe’s most powerful waterfall

Forces of nature and energy describe Iceland most accurately. Thanks to its special geographic position – it’s on the american and on the eurasian tectonic plate – it is connected to hot rock mass from the earth’s core. And this is exactly what you can feel!

If that has not convinced you (yet!) to visit this extraordinary island, maybe the following reasons will! Look and see:

Iceland will seduce you with it’s breathtaking scenery and many surprises.

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1. Volcanoes and glaciers

The pairing of volcanoes and glaciers is a rare wonder of nature. Nowhere else will you get to witness such an impressive connection of opposites. Fire and ice aren’t just the elements of the nordic myths, they are still impressing us to this day.

2. Old legends and spirituality

Iceland is a mystical place and its residents believe in fairies, trolls and goblins. Their legends and tales are important and deeply rooted in the everyday life of Icelandic people.

3. Healing thermal springs

Iceland’s thermal springs have several benefits. Whether you jump right into a healing hot spring or bake your bread in the hot powerful earth, you will surely recharge your energy reserves here.

4. A place of confident women who follow their own ideal of beauty

“I wanted to use this opportunity to stand up for myself and the women on this planet, for young women”, said Arna Ýr Jónsdóttir Miss Island 2015 who rejected her attendance on the election of Miss Grand International. The host asked her to eat less. “It is okay to be yourself. If you like yourself, you should just say it.” We totally agree!

5. Stunning scenery you know from movies and tv-shows

Game of Thrones and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty are just two of many international movie and tv-show productions that know and use the beauty of the island.

6. Europe fell head over heels in love with Iceland in the summer of 2016

During the European Championship in 2016 it was Iceland who surprised us all. Their passionate spirit and win over England made the audience fall in love and the legendary chant gave goosebumps to every soccer-fan.

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Vacation in Iceland is a combination of sustainability and regeneration.

7. Iceland stands for alternative energies and green tourism.

Iceland is one big role-model when it comes down to renewable energy and decrease of Co2. The energy supply is made by geothermic and hydrothermic energy by 81 percent and provides for electricity, heat and transportation. Starting in the year 2050 Reykjavik wants to stop using fossil fuels.

Geothermic energy is not just supplying all buildings in the city, it is also responsible for heat in the houses and the many greenhouses, as well as street lightning. And of course the thermic heat provides for all the popular outdoor pools. You won’t find a better place to enjoy eco-tourism.

8. On the trail of Jules Verne

“The journey to the center of the earth” begins with the entrance to Iceland’s volcano Snæfellsjökull. This is a story we all know of since childhood and it will clearly be the travel-read when you start the adventure of visiting Snæfellsjökull volcano yourself.

9. Wales, Iceland horses and puffins

Another fascinating aspect about Iceland is its animal kingdom. You get the chance to be with and ride on Icelandic horses, explore beautiful puffins and observe fascinating mink whales, porpoises, dolphins, finbacks, blue- and humpback whales. And maybe even the black and white marked grampus.

If you are thinking about visiting Iceland and experiencing its amazing landscape and archaic original power – 2017 is the perfect time to do it!

Because the numbers of tourists, media attention, and word of mouth are striking, Iceland is getting more and more popular which means the time is limited to explore its raw uniqueness free of mass tourism.

The best time for an extraordinary journey is NOW!

FIND YOURSELF IN THE LAND OF CONTRASTS: ICELAND RETREAT WITH LARA LAND

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