Rise Up

“Yoga is a gift. No one can take that away from you.” -Jill Ippolito

UpRising founder Jill Ippolito spoke these precious words last Saturday at a special BYMV-sponsored fundraiser in Mountain View. Founded by a BYMV member, the Mountain View House of Modern Art was created to give back to the community.

At this great new venue, BYMV members and employees proudly donated time and service to promote UpRising.
UpRising, an L.A.-based organization, brings yoga and meditation to at-risk youth and underserved communities. They design the classes to teach healing, breathing, and self-regulation.

At BYMV we believe it’s essential to bring yoga to young people. Even simply introducing concepts about breathing – its power as a life force and as a tool for stress reduction – is a powerful gift. And it is a gift that we must continuously give to those who need it.

Yoga is a gift and a ray of hope not just to at-risk youth, but to all humans. It is there to serve those who are scared, isolated and have no one to turn to. It is in sharing yoga that we can transform lives, one person at a time.

You and I are privileged in the sense that we can make it to yoga everyday. We have our mats, our towels, our insulated water bottles. Most of us have transportation. We can pick and choose how often we go. We benefit, day in and day out, from having this yoga practice as a part of our lives.

The question that drove us to sponsor last week’s fundraiser was, “How can we make BYMV available to a community beyond our walls?”

Jill shared with us the positive impact that she’s seen yoga bring to at-risk youth. She described how the yoga mat is a safe place for those whose lives are all but unsafe.

Bringing yoga to young people in prison gives them the chance to start from scratch. It brings them the opportunity to recognize that they themselves are a gift to this world. Teaching the value of life and compassion through yoga can have a greater positive impact than simple punishment. The idea is to help these young people face a brighter future with a clearer mind and a healthy body.

The success stories from at-risk youth served by UpRising were heartfelt. Many experienced increased mental and physical benefits. Some wish to become yoga teachers themselves.

This fundraising event has sparked a personal interest of mine. I am inspired to see how I can bring this yoga to others in our community outside of BYMV. I look forward to discovering options for bringing yoga to underprivileged communities near us. I believe that we have the opportunity to rise up and make a deep impact as a yoga family.

We are a great community already, and we have yet to scratch the surface of our potential. The fundraiser was a great example of how much we can offer when we come together. We raised more than $2,000 from the event itself and my donation class that day. Thank you all!

I especially want to thank Mary Jay Bridgland for organizing this event. Thank you to UpRising founders Jill and Nick Ippolito for the work you do to bring yoga to those who need it. Thank you to Priscila Migliorini, Jennifer Bresnahan and Teresa Delsager of BYMV for donating your time to support this event. And thanks to our own Jennifer Hohman for donating one of her works of art.

We will continue to raise funds and you can do that by donating HERE. Your donation is your ticket to visit the gallery. House of Modern Art’s gallery will be open weekends from 12-6pm until the end of August. Please reserve your time in the donation link provided.

Thank you!

HEAL

The great book Hardwiring Happiness, by neuropsychologist Rick Hansen, says that if you are joyful, positive, and stress-free, your brain’s shape will reflect that. If you are often negative, stressful, or fearful, then your brain will look different – it will reflect the state of unhappiness.

Rick Hansen writes that “your brain is like Velcro for negative experiences but Teflon for positive ones.” Doesn’t sound like a great recipe for lasting happiness, does it?

What goes wrong is that as soon as you have a positive experience, your brain immediately starts to focus on what is wrong. The happy moment doesn’t stick because you don’t give it the time it needs to have real staying power. This happens not only in your mind, but also in your body.

Our experience with yoga has that same recipe. I often hear, “Class today was great, as yesterday’s was awful.” I go through that same experience both as a teacher and student. Even when I teach a great class my mind often wants only to think of another class in which I was off, unhappy, or unfocused.
We are excellent at going to that place of doubt and insecurity. Now it is time to consciously make a step in the direction of comfort and joy, through a lasting moment-to-moment awareness of happiness.

Rick Hanson uses the acronym HEAL as a tool for hardwiring your brain to happiness.

H – Have a positive experience

E – Enrich it

A – Absorb it

L – Link positive and negative material so that positive soothes and eliminates the negative.

This is a powerful message that goes beyond the standard idea of healing. We can use the HEAL tool to remember what we need to do to allow those positive experiences – the great, happy yoga classes – to actually sink in. To absorb into our bodies, our blood, and our cells, and have a lasting effect, not just a fleeting one.

As you move forward in your practice, be mindful of those moments when you fall into your patterns. It’s so easy. We have to switch our perspective and note that it is also easy to change to a profound and happy brain state.

I would like to call this the happiness experiment. I invite you to try to HEAL daily. Can you do this simple exercise to make a life-changing shift in your mental state?

Start with your yoga practice, and work on making the positive experiences stick. Even with discomfort and pain, there are positive things in every class that will help you HEAL.

HEAL in a way that is inspirational.
HEAL in a way that allows for you to share your journey with others.
HEAL in your practice.
Happiness is always there. Can you swim in its pool forever?

Measure

We love to measure everything in life: how much we are getting or receiving, the amount of energy you generate to make things happen, and even the smallest movements that can have little or profound effects in one’s life.

Recently I read a great article written by James Clear about measuring things in life.

“The trick is to realize that counting, measuring, and tracking is not about the result. It’s about the system, not the goal.
Measure from a place of curiosity.
Measure to discover, to find out, to understand.
Measure from a place of self-awareness.
Measure to get to know yourself better.
Measure to see if you are showing up.
Measure to see if you’re actually spending time on the things that are important to you.”

These words invite us to examine what this means for our yoga practice. What is not important is the goal, it is the system. The process, the journey one takes to unfold what you desire. However, placing ALL your energies to that GOAL alone, that thought alone, can be destructive even to the point that it becomes fleeting and you give up.

Measure from a place of curiosity~
Be curious about your practice. Why do we move this specific way? What is it about pranayama breathing that sets the scene for the entire class? Be curious about your surroundings. Why do we have the heat? Why the mirrors?

Measure to discover, to find out, to understand~
Your hatha yoga practice is a place to discover the innermost understanding of your strength and flexibility. Most of you who have been practicing for a while have noted and seen the difference in your body, mind and spirit. What steps did you take to understand your growth in your practice? The smallest measurement of improvement can be the largest in your life.

Measure from a place of self-awareness~
Begin to honor and witness the fluctuations of your thoughts. Measure the beauty of the flexibility of your mind as you awaken more to understanding who you are, in the classroom and out.

Measure to get to know yourself better~
Through this self-awareness you can begin to measure all the aspects of your yoga practice that will SERVE you. When you start to know yourself better, life blossoms. When you feed yourself with not only nourishment but also oxygen, things change. We change. You better yourself for the world.

Measure to see if you are showing up~
Not only in showing up to your classes daily or twice a week. This also means showing up to be the best being you can for your family and friends. Showing up to their needs so that they can honor and respect yours.

Measure to see if you’re actually spending time on the things that are important to you~
Are you utilizing all of your time to make each and every day meaningful to you? We all know that life is precious, but do you actually live that? This yoga practice allows you to spend 90 minutes on yourself. We are given this body to use it for our greatest good, inside and out. The Bikram Yoga system is profound and incredibly important for your organs, your systems and your breath.

As Bikram has said, “There are only 6 inches between your mind/brain and your heart.” This is the most important measurement, as that connection feeds love, peace and joy to ALL of you.