Really? I need a Hip Replacement?

Trauma is any experience that causes pain, suffering or misery, says I. With great difficulty I am writing this piece, the difficult part is opening up to vulnerability, letting you see the real me and letting go of the concern of what you may think about it. My intention in sharing this is to give you strength, courage and perhaps pull at your heart strings just a little. I have been a rolling stone for many years; chasing the dollar while working for some great companies with good people. Last year I took a job in Danbury Ct and shortly after that cashed in my retirement to open a yoga studio. On the surface it may seem a little crazy but in reality it is a great way to get to know people and build a community. This is my intention behind the yoga studio.

Last week on a flight to British Columbia I watched "Monday's at Racine" this show put me in touch with the finite element of life, It also places me with a feeling of how I can impact the world with the remaining time I have left on the earth, this is what is finite; time. Often as I go about my life I find myself wrapped up in day to day activities, I work as a Project Manager, however; this is not how I want to be defined, instead I want to be known as the man who provides support and comfort to those who are suffering. Now I am not sure how I do this other than to avail myself to others by creating space to serve the community, the community being the world which I live. This takes energy, my energy and the energy of others, every moment we have the opportunity to create or co-create this energy. It can be as simple as eye contact, touch or smile, it can be helping our elders, volunteering at our hospitals, cancer recovery centers, homeless shelters, centers for battered women, reaching out to our military, or as simple as taking the time to listen.

We age every day, and every day new precious life is brought into the world, this is evolution. I turned 50 last year, around the same time I began to notice a pain in my hip. I have had a very active life style and have focused much of my attention on being active. The pain in my hip really never improved so I sought medical advice I went to an orthopedic specialist who x-rayed my hip and advised that I had arthritis. I continued my active lifestyle; practicing yoga, playing basketball; basketball was the worse; after playing I suffered greatly, as I tried to sleep I experienced tremendous sharp stabbing pain in my hip, I knew this was a bigger problem. I went to see my Primary Doctor (PCP) and what I wanted was an MRI or CT scan, after dealing with the insurance we received approval for the CT scan. The CT procedure was pretty simple, I requested a copy of the scan and googled "how to read a CT Scan" well this was not very fruitful impossible for me to know and to know I mean have the real knowledge of truth about what is going on. Dr Pelligrino my PCP read the results and told me I have severe Osteoarthritis. What came up for me was denial, not me, I am invincible, well my hip hasn't gotten any better. Then I thought I should go back to the orthopedic surgeon for his evaluation even perhaps get a few opinions. The result was the same.

Depression set in as the reality that I am going to need my hip replaced. I mask this really well, I don't want you to know I am suffering, I don't know how to ask for help; perhaps this post and every word that leaks out of my mouth is the plea for help. Yes I want your help, I want your love, it is this that scares the hell out of me as I don't know how to receive it.

You see I really know very few people here, and my pride stands in the way of asking for help. I really admire the family unity I see around me; I have some amazing yoga students and co-workers. I know in their hearts they do not want to see me suffer or anyone else for that matter. When I moved here. My finances were limited so I looked on craigslist for a place to live and met an amazing guy who is married to a sweet beautiful woman. Our friendship has grown, he helped me with the studio, and has been very supportive.

You see in my head I make myself lonely, while in reality it is far from the truth. This is where the idea comes in that I am not my thoughts (Byron Katy) I am much more than that and my heart is filled with gratitude. On April 29 I am having my hip replaced, I am very healthy and will heal fast. I want you to know this so that you can share what you are going through with others. It is through sharing that we help heal the world. I appreciate your love and support and look forward to teaching you yoga by May 15.

Namaste AARON

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The Importance of a Yoga Practice

Why is a practice of yoga so important?  Why is developing the discipline to maintain and continue your practice relevant?  These questions should be asked by every person interested in finding out what yoga is all about.  As we go through life we have experiences.  If you are lucky these experience fill your heart with joy.  If you are like say 95% of us your life is filled with ups and downs, struggles to understand the world we live in wondering if we are accepted and liked.  Way too often, we are our biggest critic. 

In order to answer these questions on why the practice is so important we need to get honest about why we are curious about Yoga in the first place.  When I began practicing I was depressed, broken, damaged, and my mind was a whirl of how I would enact my revenge against the world for some ill perceive harms that were not even true.  During my first class I emptied my head of all thought and began to tap into the power of prayer albeit in the pose of child as I was trying to regain my breath.  What is funny about this story is I had been pursuing a life of peace and harmony since I was 24.  It began when my life was spiralling out of control, as I started to turn it around I was introduced to a new way of living, stopping the heavy drinking, and dipping my proverbial toe into the pool of meditation and prayer.  I never really trusted my own instincts or the guidance of my heart.  I was trying to please others in order to be accepted or rather perceive that you liked me. 

After finding yoga all of the pieces of my path began to come together like a puzzle; my teachings from studying the Course In Miracles, reading Marianne Williamson’s interpretation of this book combined with my own understanding of God created the space to trust in my inner guide or my Godlike Consciousness, all of the stories created in my head are based on fear, by trusting in the Universe or God I am able to see through that and find faith.  Having finally discovered what I had been seeking all along I now had a fabulous kit of spiritual tools to help me formulate the way I was going to live my life. 

I practice some form of yoga every day, it helps me stay connected to my body, grounded in my beliefs and most importantly helps me to trust that the Universe has a master plan.  I also combine this with a daily meditation practice to develop this trust and as a result my life is less chaotic and I am equipped to face it head on.  I should be clear that I still have episodes of anxiety and depression, but with the support of my yoga community, meditation and physical Asana, I am able to face these and create the space that allows this to move through me. 

I often mention the idea of creating space – this is the effect of yoga through a practice of asana, the mind empties leaving the Yogi with the space necessary to shift the energy in his/her life to see what may be possible for you now.  Yoga is a process.  At first, yoga is totally new and exciting, and then the work begins; developing discipline to keep with the practice in order to create the space in your life is real work.  It took me years to work through some stuff. 

You hear that showing up is the hardest part.  This is true but really the hardest part is admitting to yourself when you don’t want to show up, you do so anyway. Let go of the story, let go of reason; take a moment the next time you are in a packed yoga class, notice the energy, notice the feeling you have inside before and after class…then the next time you start feeling that you don’t want to go to yoga tap into the experience you noted in your psyche and head to the mat. Will this get me closer to perfection?  You are already perfect.  Will this save my marriage?  Probably not but it will help you to be a supportive, loving ex who wants nothing more than the partner that you committed your life to, to be happy.  Will yoga cure my financial difficulties? No, but you will be able to see the truth and be able to accept it.

When I fully trust that the universe has a grand plan only then can I be at peace.  See you on the mat.  Namaste 

The World is Round!!

For more than 20 years I have been working my own acceptance of life as it happens. Can you believe that?  Twenty years? One could say I should have mastered that feat by now.  Perhaps I am one of the few, unique in my own neurosis that struggles trying to arrange all of the little pieces of theuniverse in a particular order that suits me.  Mind you this order has to be precise and specific to my liking if one little piece is out of place watch out.

Can you identify with this idea?  How do you respond to the world when you are threatened or percieve a threat to your personal well being or livelyhood? Do you scramble in an attempt to "fix-it" or do you sit with it and really "feel" what is happening.  It is difficult sometimes to separate the thoughts of fear or percieved threat from what may be really happening because our constructs (the thoughts we create in our mind) may be slightly off center.  You may have heard the terms "centered or grounded" both have differnent meanings but can be used as tools to we can pull out when life is slightly challenging. 

First become centered, coming back to that safe place in your life where feel totally secure, this is a mental movement and not physical.  Mentally through meditation come back maybe to the kitchen with your mother who just baked you cookies and is there to listen to your day, or perhaps it is with your partner who lying next to listens to your struggles and dreams while being wrapped together in a loving embrace, or perhaps it is an active discussion with someone you have 100% trust in, they have your back and you know it, you can open up to them about anything and you know they will support you without judgement.

Second, grounding.  Grounding is becoming clear about what is true, identifying self-limiting beliefs and letting them go and getting present with your reality.  To get grounded first you have to be willing to become centered, then you honor what is true.  To honor what is true you take an honest, fearless look at your life as you know it, bounce that off of someone who really, truly knows you and ask for their feedback.  Once you really know where you are, sit with that in peaceful meditation; I like to pray to God asking for the strength and courage to face the truth. 

In my Yoga Practice the focus on Ujai breath brings this all together.  For me it is a place where I totally empty my mind of all thought by bringing my inner focus on the breath which in turn creates space for sentering and grounding during quiet meditation.  Most important in all of this is to come from an posture of willingness.  Being willing to accept life as it happens, knowing that you will be okay. The truth for me is this; when have I never been okay?  If you know me and know my story you know the answer.

 

Next up letting go.

Week ??

Where have I been?  With the studio opening and the juggling of a full time job, teacher schedules and community building I have neglected to write the words of wisdom that comes from my inner core.  Last weekend I attended the Baptiste Art of Assisting facilitated by Paige Elenson of the Africa Yoga Project and Kiersten Mooney of Bala Vinyasa located in South Florida.  Going to the training my intention was to check the box of assisting, I had been assisting in the classes I teach for a couple of years; what I received was so much more.  With all Baptiste training's we start off practicing yoga, opening us up to possibility, meaning what is possible for me in this training?  Interesting how this shifts on day three comparing back to day one, I left the training energized and wanting to share this energy with the world.  The world being my community, my teachers, my students.  

Facing the facts.  We are all one.  Sure we live separate lives, each  of us has our own story, for some of us it defines us, it defines how we react or respond to life's events and experiences.  What if you had the power inside of you to positively impact someone else's life?  You do, we all do; the blocks created in our lives keep us from tapping into this energy.  I have suffered, struggled and also lived an incredible life.  I remember as a boy walking through fields exploring nature, stepping barefoot into muddy clay, floating down rivers and streams, I also remember the pain, the suffering that I experienced.  I long not to remember or re-experience the pain and suffering but to let that go and heal.  I long for the walk in the field with the child like sense of curiosity that reminds me how  every experience is new.  What opened up for me during this weekend was the idea that I could change the world using three tools at my disposal:

  1. Smile
  2. Touch
  3. Eye Contact

Notice in your body how you respond when someone smiles at you, now notice your response to touch and eye contact.  I take a stand for contributing to the end of suffering in the world.



  

Week 3: Reality

In January I was in Egypt my prayers reach out to the people of the region that they may find peace and some level of prosperity.  Last year I had set an intention to teach yoga in Libya, while I traveled there almost one year ago the plan didn't materialize due to the escalating violence; i.e. death of Ambassador Stevens.  So caught in limbo I ended up with a job in Connecticut, at lunch one day I saw a commercial space for rent and said "I can put a yoga studio there".  While that space didn't work out I continued to look and here I am... about to open a yoga studio!!!

Now I have a great many loose ends and yesterday was feeling anxiety so what did I do?  I said to myself: "At this moment everything is as it should be" over and over and over and over again. The anxiety passed, then I had a thought; what in the hell are you doing?  Wouldn't it have been easier to just keep doing what I've been doing? Well yes it would have.  But I have this inner drive and I wouldn't have been happy not knowing what I know now.  I have met some incredible people, people have come out of the woodwork to support me, imagine moving to somewhere where you know no one!  What is one of the most important assets of a yoga studio?  Teacher's; this is a shout out to the teaching staff at Manipura Power Yoga, thank you for reaching out and paving a new path for your journey.

Grateful.

Namaste, 

Aaron

At This Moment Everything Is As It Should Be

I have a lot going on in my life, it is filled with things I need to do, people I need to help, some I have to take care of.  This can weigh me down along with the ins and outs of day to day life.  Continuing from the last blog post what I do to take care of myself when I experience these feelings is to go back to the recorded meditation I added to my last blog post. This is a great way to overcome anxiety and fear but it is also a pathway to radically accepting where I am today, right now.  If I practice this meditation daily, maybe twice a day, the acceptance that doesn't yet exist will show up.  This in turn creates space for other feelings as well as compassion and a desire to help others.  So take a moment to listen to the embedded meditation in the last blog post. Let us know what you think.

Link to last blog: http://aaron-warren-fv6s.squarespace.com/blog/2013/8/5/fight-or-flight 

 

Fight or Flight

What is your reaction to intense sensation or feelings? Do you run like hell? Do you fight? Do you fight, wound, maim or kill and then run? Think of this in the application of your relation to the rest of the world. Most of us dislikes suffering, being hurt, or causing hard feeling towards another, however often through misunderstandings or perceptions this occurs. Now go back and ask yourself, how do I respond to this? Is it my way or the highway? What I have learned is that most often my desire to be right outweighs all other desires, while my intention is to relieve suffering. The challenge that I often encounter is that in my attempt to relieve suffering individuals may not be ready to or open to relieve them of this burden. It boils down to the saying when the student is ready the teacher appears, this is when it is right to give space. When I allow for the transformative process to take its own shape and its own path it generally works out.

Reflections:

Do these feelings of anger or perception of pain really serve you? Do you relish these feelings? What I have found that works (I write this to remind myself) is to Pray for the ability to forgive, to let others have their own experience and that they may find the peace that I have found.  Then I go about helping another, there is no greater satisfaction in my life than doing something for someone else.

Meditation

If you are dealing with periods of stress and anxiety I offer this simple meditation:

Sit comfortably, close your eyes, focus on breathing in, exhaling out… now begin to say to yourself: “At this moment everything is as it should be”  Repeat this process for 10 -15 minutes.

Coming into your Power

Yoga and fitness go hand in hand. When you add Power to yoga it changes from a sedentary type of stretching exercise to a physically demanding, fat burning workout designed to bring you into your body.  What does it mean to say “bring you into your body?” This statement is a key aspect of becoming aware of what you are experiencing at any given moment in a posture or pose.  For example to master the posture “Ardha-Chandrasana” a student will need to flex and open the toes of the raised foot, this in turn engages the core which enables the stacking of the hips.  Try this on in your next class, really focus and shift your vision internally and remember… breathe!

Namaste

YOGA for the Brain

Yoga for the Brain: The benefits of yoga as it relates to the brain and the sympathetic nervous system.

1. Yoga reduces the levels of the hormone cortisol - the stress hormone that wreaks havoc on the body. This, in turn, "removes a barrier to effective immune function," thus helping to prevent illness.
2. Yoga boosts the levels of feel-good brain chemicals like GABA, serotonin, and dopamine. All responsible for feelings of relaxation and contentedness.
3. Yoga stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system which calms us and restores balance after a major stress situation occurs.
4. By activating the parasympathetic nervous system, “our bodies can better extract nutrients from the food we eat, and more effectively eliminate toxins because circulation is enhanced. With parasympathetic activation, the body enters into a state of restoration and healing.”

And Paula R. Pullen, PhD, Research Instructor at the Morehouse School of Medicine, studies yoga's effects on inflammation by looking at what's happening in the bodies of heart failure patients who enroll in yoga classes.  "...patients taking yoga have significantly improved levels of biomarkers like C-reactive protein (CRP) and interleukin-6 (IL-6)."

She goes on to say "Yoga balances the body, the hormonal system, and the stress response. People tend to think of yoga as being all about flexibility – it’s not.  It’s about rebalancing and healing the body.”

We summarized this article from Forbes/Forbeswoman by Alice G. Walton. It's the first in a two-part series she's writing called "Penetrating Postures: The Science of Yoga" - check Forbes out for the entire series. And then check Indigo out for all the benefits of yoga!