The next time you walk into a grocery store head right over to produce section and pick up a 10 pound bag of potatoes. Carry the bag under your arm the entire time you’re in the store. When you’re ready to check out put the potatoes back. You now know what it’s like to carry around an extra 10 pounds.
If you’re interested in getting rid of an extra 10 pounds here’s what to do next.
- Get yourself an APP like MyFitnessPal that tracks what you eat and your calories
- Set a timeline to ditch the extra 10 pounds (2-3 months)
- Commit to being active for 20 minutes a day (check out The First 20 Minutes)
Enter everything you eat into your MyFitnessPal APP. Every meal, snack, drink, latte, beer, dine-out, etc., – no exceptions. Your APP will tell you what your maximum daily calorie intake should be in order to lose the 10 pounds in your 2-3 month timeline. Stick to it. Log in your weight every morning when you wake up.
Now when you shop for food carry around that 10 pound bag of potatoes under your arm as you check the calories per serving of the foods you’re about to buy. Stop buying and eating foods that have high calories per serving. Stay active and increase your activity time as you begin to feel better and lose weight.
I know it sounds simple. I know it’s not fancy like Paleo, South Beach, Atkins, etc. But it works. I arrived home from my vacation in Puerto Rico just after New Years. I had gained 4 pounds on vacation (Mofongo for desert). That was on top of another 10 pounds that somehow arrived over the past 5 years as my business grew rapidly and found myself stressed out and eating out a lot. I believe my exercising was the only thing that kept me from gaining even more weight.
Since the beginning of January I have put that 10 pound bag of potatoes in my rear view mirror. I stick with the minimum of 20 minutes of activity a day. Count the calories. And I’m down 15 pounds since that last Mofongo. And I’m not carrying around that 10 pound bag of potatoes in the grocery store any more.
In one of the most often quoted sutras of Patanjali, sthira sukham asanam, lies the product of our practice – a steady, happy disposition in life. Sthira, or steadiness, cannot be achieved overnight. It must be cultivated over time so it really becomes part of our being. So how do we cultivate this sthira? How do we become steady?
First, let’s look at the Sanskrit origin of sthira which comes to mean “not moving”. Well that was easy, we simply do not move, then we are steady. We have cultivated sthira. But it’s not that easy and this sthira or not moving has a deeper, more profound meaning. Think about how the physical body moves. With asana practice you move in different directions, perhaps toward poses that you really enjoy and are really good at. Consequently, maybe you avoid those poses that you feel inadequate at or just plain dislike. But, are you able to sit and still the physical body?
Now think about how the mind moves. What is the state of mind when the body is sitting still? Probably it is busy, thinking about stuff. So we need a way to still the mind. That’s where the finer practices come into play. Practices like conscious awareness, relaxation, controlled breathing, concentration, mantra, meditation, and integrating the philosophy of Yoga into our lives.
Just as your body moves from here to there, your mind or your awareness is also moving. It moves toward your train of thought, constantly. At times we try to interrupt the train of thought when we practice concentration and meditation. Our thought process also makes determinations about how we act. We move toward things that we find pleasurable. We find ways to repeat the pleasurable experiences we have had in the past in order to make us feel happy again. Sometimes we even go out of our way to duplicate the experience, again and again, hoping for sustained happiness. We also do a good job of moving away from things that we do not find pleasurable. Once we experience something that we really do not like, we know in our mind to stay away. We strive to avert a replay of the unpleasant experiences. This moving toward and moving away from different experiences is the opposite of sthira, or non moving.
Our anchor can be our resolve and determination to abhyasa, our ongoing spiritual practice. Our calm seas can be our state of mind after some time with the practice, when we are able to be aware of a sense of tranquility and peace. But what about the non moving part? We must learn to slowly acknowledge that moving toward or away from pleasure and pain is not the real answer. We need to be aware of the urges to move toward pleasure and away from displeasure and learn how to be more steadfast, a little at a time. This practice is called vairagya or non attachment, a drying up of the things that cause us pleasure and pain. With our dedicated practice comes the happiness part. Only then we can experience a prevailing tendency toward steadiness and happiness in our lives and in our world. This is the true sense of sthira sukham asanam.
A year ago, back on November 11, 2011, Sharing Yoga began a weekly meditation gathering at our Concord Yoga Studio. This initiative is part of the “Year Long Group Meditation” promoted by the Himalayan Institute in Honesdale, PA. There were about 3 dozen members of our local Yoga community who agreed to meditate on and recite the Mahamrtyunjaya Mantra each day for the entire year as part of a planetary healing process. Each week Wendy, Deb, Bhavani or I led the Saturday morning group in recitation and meditation. This year long endeavor is coming to an end on November 10th. We have two thoughts. One, how do we close this year long, sacred practice? Two, how do we continue to build upon the foundation that we’ve created? First, we will plan to get together for an open house gathering on Saturday, November 10th at 11:45am. We will sit for group Meditation, followed by chai and snacks and live music. Secondly, we’ll present some ideas about how we can make the best use of the progress we have made during the last 12 months – how to build on the solid foundation we’ve created. Our selves and families, co-workers, our community, and our world are still in great need of healing. I encourage you to join us on 11/10 at 11:45am. Peace, David
Did you miss this interview in the newsletter or at Sharing Yoga.com? Good thing you’re here now! Dawn Marquis is second up in the Sharing Yoga Teacher Spotlight. Dawn teaches Tuesdays at 9:30am, 12:30pm and Fridays at 9:30am.
How long have you been practicing yoga? What made you start?
I have been practicing yoga for 6 years now, since 2005.
I was working in a health club and I’d been interested in yoga for a long time. I had some friends who had taken classes and I had just never been myself. And I thought it would help with my overall well being.
When did you start teaching?
Did someone say, “You ought to teach.”?
David. David said I ought to teach.
And it never occurred to me to teach. I had only been practicing for a year, but David approached me and encouraged me to maybe take some teacher training. At the time he hadn’t started his teacher training program yet so I did some training with Yoga Fit. Ultimately I ended up getting my RYT [Registered Yoga Teacher; a certification with Yoga Alliance] with David and doing my 200-hours with him. But I started out with Yoga Fit and that’s when I started teaching after I took their training.
Do you have a favorite part of yoga – something that makes you feel good no matter what frame of mind you bring to yoga?
All of it. It does. It always, it always helps.
Are there any specific kinds of poses like backbends or twisting stuff that you prefer or like a little more than others?
Probably my favorite posture if I had to pick one is Ardha Chandrasana, half-moon posture. There’s something about the way you open up into the posture and I like the balance of it. I like the challenge of it. So if I had to pick one that would probably be it.
When you’re teaching a class, what do you think about when you’re getting ready to teach? And what are you, what do you want to impart to your students? What is one thing you hear yourself saying over and over again, or doing over and over again?
I would say to be mindful and to keep bringing the mind back to the breath. Those are probably the two things that I hear myself say and would impart to people more than anything else or to start – as a base. Because once those two things are in place if you’re being mindful and following your breath then other things start to fall into place.
Do you have a favorite kind of class to teach?
I would say I probably like a multi-level class. I like to teach a longer class – hour and fifteen to and hour and a-half class. I like to teach a class that flows, a flow class where there’s a continuum to the sequence of postures.
What do you think is another good tip to let beginning students know about yoga?
To try to not have or to try to let go of expectations of themselves. And try not to be too harsh with themselves. To be gentle.
Has anyone ever come into a class and ever surprised you about the expectation they had about themselves?
Usually I see people reaching too far with postures and maybe giving 100% effort and seeking out that furthest edge. I think a lot of people or should I say our culture … fosters competitiveness and the idea of pushing past boundaries rather than recognizing boundaries. And I think that a lot of people before they start to understand some of the philosophy behind yoga as far as being mindful and recognizing physical boundaries and physical limits will try to push past those things and push through things rather than honoring those things or themselves.
Why do you think so many people hesitate about yoga, but then when they start to go to a class they really love it?
Probably preconceived notions about what yoga is. There are so many different kinds of yoga and like most things, you hear about the most extreme things sometimes. And those aren’t necessarily the kinds of classes or the types of yoga that you are going to find when you take your typical yoga class. The comments that I mostly hear from people after their first yoga class is that it was more challenging than they expected and it was more physical than they expected. And that they liked it more than they thought they were going to like it.
I also think that they are often surprised at how good they feel after a class. Some comments I’ve had people make too is in reference to the fact that coming into the class they may feel tired, they may feel negative, or carrying some kind of negativity from their daily life into that space and then they come down and they sit and they breathe and they practice their physical asana practice. And they leave feeling less tired and they feel more energetic. They’re surprised that it balances the energy.
What do you think yoga offers that other types of exercise don’t offer?
It depends on… that could be a very deep and complex question. It depends on where you are in your yoga practice and how far you take your yoga journey […]. So it could be different for everyone as far as what it has to offer. But I would say instead of just, … instead of just cardio or just strengthening like you might get with weights, or just working with balance, it incorporates all of those things.
The physical practice of yoga works with balance within the body. It works with flexibility. It works with strengthening. It builds body awareness. It increases self-awareness. It encourages self-awareness which I think if you went and took some other fitness class somewhere you wouldn’t necessarily be encouraged to be as self-aware as we are when we practice yoga.
Do you have a favorite book about yoga that you would recommend?
Whatever area of interest you have in yoga – if you’re interested in anatomy I say go pick up an anatomy yoga book. If you’re interested more about the breath then get a pranayama book. If you’re more interested in meditation – go where your area of interest is and then everything else will build on that. And then it will lead you to other things.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
Try to find the joy in every moment. If you look there’s always something you can find to be happy about.
Dawn was interviewed by Emily Graves who really appreciates Dawn’s gentle spirit.
Issued: March 28, 2012
For Immediate Release
Readers of the Hippo Press, a weekly newspaper in New Hampshire, voted Sharing Yoga as the Best Yoga Studio in Concord for the third year in a row. The studio’s owner, David Breen, won the “Best of the Best Yoga Instructor” in New Hampshire. Breen won the Best Yoga Instructor in Concord award in 2010 and 2011. There were more than 14,000 votes cast. The results were published in the newspaper’s March 22 edition.
Sharing Yoga offers more than 20 yoga classes weekly. Meditation courses and Yoga 101 classes are also offered on a frequent basis. The studio opened in 2007 and is located at 3 Pleasant Street, 2nd floor. The studio offers yoga for the average person in a non-judgmental and safe atmosphere.
“We don’t ask you to put your legs behind your head. Our classes are geared toward regular folks who may not be flexible at all. By practicing yoga and meditation, you may gain flexibility and strength and you’ll get the benefit of stress reduction from the relaxation too,” states Breen.
For more information or to take classes, contact David Breen at 603-630-5576 or visit the studio’s website at http://www.sharingyoga.com.
For the last 10 years or so my wife Laurie and I have been doing “Yoga road trips” to New York City. I had never been to the city prior to 2002. It had always seemed overwhelming even though I had no experience to validate that. We went one year for new years eve at Jivamukti Yoga in Manhattan and had a great time. Soon thereafter, we returned for a Yoga conference where I met Dharma Mitra, a wise man, a genuine Yogi who has been teaching Yoga in NYC for 40+ years. At that same conference Laurie met a sanskrit teacher, Manorama, and has been a student of hers ever since. We continued to travel back to NYC many times, me to study with Dharma, and Laurie to study with Manorama.
We found great places to stay, eat and shop. Last year, Laurie began to compile a list of those places and I worked on putting them in a brochure, PDF form (geek in me).
I am back in NYC this weekend to see Dharma for his monthly Maha Sadhana and to meet with the head of the NYC Yoga Teachers Association, Martin Brennan. Mr. Brennan is a new friend who I met at Christmas, when he and I were staying at the Himalayan Institute. Martin has acted as a friendly and knowledgable ambassador for all things Yoga in NYC and then some. Today he suggested I check out the Broome St. Temple, for Friday night Ganesha Puja. I went and really enjoyed it. On the way I stopped at the Tibetan bazaar on Broadway and visited with Jampa, an ex-buddhist monk from southern India. Jampa is now living in NYC, married with one child, and runs an import business selling gifts from south Asia. Just one of the many folks you’ll meet here.
There are tons of interesting things like this that we’ve checked out over the past 10 years – Yoga studios, shops, affordable hotels, places to eat, etc. We can also tell you how to travel here by bus or drive yourself, where to park, how much it will cost. Who knows, maybe we’ll even join you and run into Martin Brennan on our visit.
Keep an eye on the website. We’ll post the NYC Yoga road trip info and who knows, maybe you’ll step outside of your comfort zone like I did 10 years ago and make the trip. It’s easier than you think, and it’s way more fun than you’d imagine.
You may have seen the interview with teacher Sandie Perreault in the fall edition of the SY newsletter. This is an expanded version of that interview.
How long have you been teaching?
I think it’s been about six years.
Do you remember when you took your first class as a student?
Actually, yes, I do.
Did you just decide, “I’m going to go take a yoga class”?
I didn’t take a beginner’s class. I was actually an aquacize instructor at the Racquet Club and I was used to instructing. And I was used to doing a lot of exercises because I just liked trying out different classes. And I knew the instructor and I thought I’ll give it a shot and I actually didn’t like it when I first took it. Because I was used to kickboxing and step aerobics and more active workouts, I guess. I was also not very flexible so I didn’t like it at first, but after my third or fourth time I felt like I need to go back to really reevaluate. And I’m glad I did.
About how long after you started taking yoga did you think about becoming a teacher?
I didn’t think about becoming a teacher, but a girlfriend of mine was taking a yoga teacher training class up at the high school and she kept inviting me and I was busy and I’d say, “No, I can’t. I can’t”. And then she said you don’t have to commit to anything. Just come and be my guest. And I was her guest four times so I almost made it through half a session. And I knew that that was it. I just really enjoyed it. So I just continued.
You met Laurie and David at that training?
And that’s a very long training, right?
Yes, it was 2.5 years.
So what did you like in the training? What did you gravitate towards?
I liked learning all about yoga. I liked the people. I really enjoyed the yoga community which I still do today. I think that’s what really gets me so excited. I was an instructor already –aquacize – which was very similar but in a lot of ways different. Because in yoga instruction there are a lot of rights and lefts and that kind of stuff. I liked the challenge of it and I liked the fact that I felt so good after doing yoga and I just knew that it was the right fit for me.
I know what you mean about feeling good after a yoga class, like feeling settled in your body.
Not only that, but I was a very Type A person. Rush, rush, rush. Yoga slowed me down. It just really centered me more and for that it’s been miraculous. I could be uptight – maybe have some stress in my life in a day and then I’ll go teach a yoga class and I’ll just feel so much better. What I love is how good people feel after taking the class too so it’s a win-win.
Do you have plans for the future and where you want to go with yoga?
Well, we’re kind of in transition because my husband just retired. And so I’d like to continue teaching yoga, but we’re going to be traveling more. So I’d like to maybe travel and teach yoga in other locations. I don’t know exactly where it’s going to take me.
Could you share any tips you have for beginning yoga students? What do you think they should know?
I think the most important part of teaching beginners is keeping them safe. And finding out if they’ve had any injuries or if they have any parts of their body that are stiff or something that hurts or something they want to work on and just going slowly and making sure that people are pushing themselves a little bit, but not to the point where they can injure themselves. And I think that to me is the most important thing. Because I know in the past I’ve injured myself and I know how long it takes to heal. So it’s nice to prevent that.
I think we were talking at one point and you said you teach 14 classes a week?
Well, actually I teach 11 classes, but sometimes when I’m filling in extra classes it could be up to 14 classes a week.
So it really does take up a lot of your time and you have really dedicated yourself to it?
Yes, my schedule is extremely choppy, but I love that about it because I can be home in between doing other stuff and then I’m always off to yoga somewhere or at my house so that’s pretty cool too.
I remember that you talked about not having a favorite type of class, but I don’t remember if we talked about a favorite pose or type of pose. Do you always look forward to the twists or the backbends or …?
It’s funny because it depends on the day and how I feel and who’s in the class. I’ve gotten to know my students, to know what they like. I like to challenge them. I do love the twists. There are certain poses that I really I like a lot, but I tailor it to how I’m feeling and I design my class around that. I put my classes together in my head as far as sequences. I love to flow. I don’t like holding postures a real long time so I do like to get the flow. When I’m doing [the poses] with the class … I feel like I can judge how tough the class might be. I’ll know … what pose to throw in to kind of set it off and catch your breath a little bit so it’s not too much of a strain.
There is a purpose for holding the poses. It does build up your strength and I do like doing that sometimes, but I notice in my classes, the people that I teach, that I don’t think they’d like to hold them.
What do you like about Sharing Yoga?
I just love the atmosphere over there. I love the people. I love the atmosphere and I think David is so awesome. I just love working with him and all the other instructors. I’ve been with David from the start and it’s been really fun watching him grow. I love being a part of that dynamic.
It feels like a family. It really does. If I’m having a rough day and I go to take a class because besides teaching my classes I take a good two or three extra classes a week and just going there makes me feel good.