yoga

Shaucha | शौच | purity & cleanliness

Shaucha is the 1st Niyama of Yoga; or the restraints of behavior. This concept that is central to the Indian religion and yoga and is part of what creates a clear and focused mind. It also means a clean body and sets of actions; its implies purity and cleanliness through all of life in a balanced way.

It is also important when speaking to aim to control your communications from a calm and peaceful mind. Saucha is most often practiced in daily life, whilst cleaning your space; or your car; doing your laundry or even taking showers. Nourishment and organization are also central to saucha.

Saucha and Santosha are very interconnected. One leads to the other, which is why saucha is the first Niyama and Santosha is the second. And remember that these are behavioral guidelines or ways to act around others.

Saucha’s concepts lend themselves to better Focus

Meditation was created to clear and enhance mental focus. Saucha is a part of that because meditation requires a little bit of preparation; sometimes a shower before, or simply taking off your shoes and sitting on a pillow or a mat, etc. So keeping space clean is an important part of that. In yoga, it is very important to keep the space clean of pests; especially in post WW2 India. It is also about creating a clean relationship to yourself; getting rid of the baggage so to speak. Cleaning not only enhances your mental health, but it also removes stress from your body. “Clutter and mess can create more stress and anxiety, but by cleaning, organizing, and reducing the clutter, people are able to take control of their environment and create a more relaxing environment that helps them focus better on the more pressing issues in their lives.”[7]

5 Techniques to create Saucha

  1. Meditate for a couple of minutes first thing in the morning. Clear your mind before your day.
  2. Neti Pot – clear your nasal cavity
  3. Dharana Meditation – focus on a single object and stare at it for 5 minutes or more. Choose a few objects of different distances for longer practice.
  4. Declutter and clean your house and your car
  5. Eat organic foods

References:

  1. The Art of Living Retreat Center – How to Live in Harmony with Yourself and the World Around You
  2. The Art of Living Retreat Center – Saucha – the First Niyama
  3. Bret Larking – What is Saucha
  4. Yoga International – Yamas and Niyamas
  5. Wikipedia – Niyamas
  6. Wikipedia – Saucha
  7. Very Well Mind – The Connection Between Decluttering, Cleaning, and Mental Health
  8. Forbes – the Mental Health Benefits of a Clean Home

Shaucha | शौच | purity & cleanliness Read More »

Dall-E & the E.T. - Santosha

Santosha | संतोष | Contentment | Satisfaction

Santosha, the second Niyama of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras is sometimes spelled Santosa, is a portmanteau in Sanskrit, derived from Saṃ-prefix (सं-, सम्-) and Tosha (तोष (from root √तुष्, √tuṣ)). SaM-, means “completely”, “altogether” or “entirely”,[5] and Tosha (from the root √tus), “contentment”, “satisfaction”, “acceptance”, “being comfortable”.[5]

In modern Californian yoga culture, we say, “chillin” to express this. Contentment is the name of the game. Yoga and santosha are somewhat synonymous; it is a big part of yogic philosophy.

Dall-E & the E.T. - Santosha

Sam is similar to sum, totality and entirely. Tosha or Tushti (तुष्टि) is about appreciation, mindfulness, gratitude, harmony, an active inner contentment. But like all other Sanskrit words; there is a rather distinct philosophical implication behind this compounded idea.

Samtosa, or Santosha means inner serenity; a lacking of cravings and desires; satisfaction in the present. In a way, it is less reactive and more sustainable than happiness, which would be more like the upward part of a mountain that has a valley beneath it. It is like a gentle hum in the background of life that keeps you excited for what comes next.

Minimization is important in the philosophies of santosha. Less things and obligations; more relationships, time with nature, etc. We have so much in the way of our happiness; how can we possibly enjoy ourselves if we don’t take any time to feel that way. Difficulty will always exist; especially with big challenges. Santosha exists in small moments; like taking your time to enjoy the first sip of coffee you have or to eat a decent breakfast.

Relinquishing expectations can also create a path for cultivating Santosha. This is something I’ve had to do with my own life in big ways; letting go of thinking that I would be a full-time yoga instructor; or that I was ready to start a landscaping business by myself have been big lessons for me. I am finding Santosha in the journey of creating these things in balance.

This concept, Santosha, has been a theme as I’ve started a new job at Bushnell’s landscaping service. It will be great to have steady work and will provide an excellent opportunity to learn from a successful, high quality tradesman.

Contentment is hard when you have to let go of a successful and fun yoga class. My Wednesday noon class at East Wind in Roseville always felt special, like a fun and welcoming place to come back to. However, transitioning that class to another teacher has been a long time in coming. I’ve had several projects where taking the time to teach yoga at noon has been very difficult. I still teach Tuesday evening 7pm and Sunday evening 5pm classes.

DALL·E & the E.T. - Job's loss (biblical)
DALL·E & the E.T. – Job’s loss (biblical)

I’d like to add another class or maybe two; I’d like to teach more yoga at the very beginning and the end of the day so we’ll see if that can work out this year!

EROS part 3 has also been slightly put on the back-burner; I am still finishing the music, just a lot slower than I was able to when I had all day to work on it. I have a couple more dnb tracks and a couple of house tracks to get out there. Some really cool sound designs on these! The new full- time job has been really time consuming, which is great! But I don’t get as much time for music so I’ll have to double down on sound design and melody writing after work.

Niyama #2

Santosha is the second of Patanjali’s Niyamas; it means contentment and also unison with what is; reality. Santosha is an ethical concept in Hindu philosophy. It is a tenet of yoga and corresponds to the mental state that you are trying to create with asana. With focus, you can create a state of santosha by moving through all the things that make you unhappy or dissatisfied and accepting them; or coming to terms with their conclusions.

Santosha means to be completely content with, or satisfied with, accepting and comfortable in what is. To be present to everything and happy with it. This creates a personal growth that allows you to be okay with anything that is happening around you. Similar to a tree growing ferociously on the side of a cliff.

5 Ways to Create Santosha in your life

Dall-E & the E.T. - Job's cosmic spiritual battle
Dall-E & the E.T. – Job’s cosmic spiritual battle
  1. appreciate difficulty in your journey
  2. entertain the point of view of others
  3. be nice, but don’t give away your attention
  4. create commitment and discipline
  5. learn to love your flaws and weaknesses

What does Santosha really mean

Santosha is a method for creating happiness. It is not complacency! It is a method for drawing contentment from within to make what is happening on the exterior irrelevant. So a lot of times, you have to spend time creating it; it won’t just appear after a moment on your mat. Sometimes you have to sit with it for a few hours, or do 2 yoga classes in a row. Meditating really helps too, but that is an internal relationship that has to be built up over time. You have to learn how to enjoy being in warrior 2 when you don’t want to be. You have to show up for it, then stick with it and accept your feelings as it happens. Yoga is just like a simulation or practice ground for what happens in life.

Santosha is really cultivating a space inside of yourself that is nice to come back to. Much of Indian philosophies relate nourishment and satisfaction to commitment and discipline. This commitment and focus to contentment and satisfaction is a self-fulfilling prophecy in many ways. I believe it is how there are so many people out there that are happy without excess.

Santosha is Deep Satisfaction

Santosha is within your control; you simply have to actively cultivate it. It is about the story in your mind and realizing that is a fabrication and it detracts from your fun! Our true power exists in our ability to act and create in the present moment; when we are lost in our story, we lose sight of that. This also means recognizing that our words do not have power over us; when someone else uses a specific word that grabs your attention, remember that you give it power by spending time focusing on it. Redirect your attention and it loses its power and more important its meaning. We are the creators of meaning in our lives by choosing what we spend our time doing and who we spend our time with so we have to make sure that we are doing things that we are passionate about!

References:
  1. Ekhart Yoga – Santosha
  2. Yoga International – Is Santosha (Contentment) Really Possible?
  3. Hindu American – 5 Things to know about OM
  4. Yogajala – Santosha
  5. shahzadpurfarmyoga.com – Samkhya Karika 50, Satisfaction is of 9 Types, 4 Internal & 5 External
  6. Wikipedia – Santosha

Santosha | संतोष | Contentment | Satisfaction Read More »

Unlock-Zen-1

Unlock Your Inner Zen – Daoist Yoga with Elliot

Enjoy this 30 minute Daoist yoga sessions for your major muscles and nerves.

Flow with your breath through the sequence and release into your mind.

Practice yoga with Elliot!

Yoga with Elliot | Episode 3:

Beginner/Intermediate Yoga Class

Unlock-Zen-1
yoga with elliot: Episode 3 Daoist Symbol | by Dall-E

Postures (asanas) for weight loss and mental health.

You can tell I am a little bit chunky in this video and I like to gain weight during the winter to stay warmer. I’ll get back into really really good shape later; eating a lot during the winter is a favorite past-time of mine.

This video is for people who are interested in yoga, but haven’t really experienced it yet. Anyone that is in a high stress environment, or that has to drive a lot or sit at a desk during the day. It is very general and focuses on major muscles groups, such as hamstrings, quadradus lumborum, shoulders, hips, glutes, lower spinal erectors, quadriceps and inner thigh muscles.

Yoga is Healthy, practice a lot to cultivate Santosha, happiness.

Most will find this to help release some of the cortisol from the major muscle groups in the body; but I would imagine that military professionals, police officers, firefighters, doctors, and nurses, as well as other people in high-stress environments can benefit a lot from yoga’s ability to process stress[1]. Cortisol is stress hormone and it is stored in the blood stream in muscles. With focused and meditative breathing holding postures and flowing through sun salutations can greatly improve sleep quality, relieve cortisol from the blood stream, enhanced coping, self-efficacy and positive mood[2]. Further, on evaluating the published studies, it is concluded that sleep and cognitive functions are optimized by yoga practice, which brings about changes in autonomic function, structural changes, changes in metabolism, neurochemistry and improved functional brain network connectivity in key regions of the brain.[3] Yoga practices can increase multiple neurotransmitters and hormones such as GABA, serotonin, and dopamine—all natural anti-depressants. [4] The practice of Yoga improves sleep architecture and mental well-being in young and middle-aged adults. [4]

“Yoga also boosts the innate antiviral response and brain health by enhancing natural defense genes and microRNA-29c expression. Notably, it activates telomerase, linked with cellular longevity, and promotes nitric oxide synthetase and neuroprotective gene expression, implying benefits for ocular health. In addition, yoga fosters DNA repair and cellular integrity maintenance by increasing oxoguanine glycosylase one protein and p53 gene expression.”[5]

What this means is that yoga helps your body to repair itself neurologically; in the brain neurological complexes that are required for sleep and the immune response and the body’s response to invasive micro-organisms. Eyes are generally thought of as a part of the brain; it is very interesting to see that this somewhat vulnerable area of the human body is augmented with inversions such as downward dog.

This 30 minute yoga class will get you relaxed and focused. The sequence is very balanced, in my opinion. Hold poses for longer! Experiment with your bodies endurance! And also be gentle and take it easy when you feel like you should.

Asanas and descriptions, some modifications

the yoga I practice is purely physical. Sometimes I end a class with a reading or something I am thinking, but I try to keep my teaching neutral.

  1. Tadasana – standing with intention in the feet
  2. Step back lunge
  3. Lizard Low Lunge
  4. Plank
  5. Chaturanga – specifics about alignment
  6. Half Lift – more alignment
  7. Forward Fold – release your neck and jaw and head
  8. Chair Pose – stabilize
  9. Warrior 3
  10. Lunging
  11. Pyrmaid Pose
  12. Triangle Pose
  13. Dragonfly Twist (make sure you get this on the second side!!)
  14. Standing splits
  15. Goddess Pose
  16. Meditation
  17. Savasana

References:

  1. Science Direct – Yogic meditation improves objective and subjective sleep quality of healthcare professionals
  2. De Gruyter – Using the Biopsychosocial Model to Understand the Health Benefits of Yoga
  3. National Library of Medicine – Sleep, Cognition, and Yoga
  4. MDPI – (Medical Yoga Therapy – read this!!!)
  5. International Journal of Yoga – Beyond the Mat: Exploring the Potential Clinical Benefits of Yoga on Epigenetics and Gene Expression

Unlock Your Inner Zen – Daoist Yoga with Elliot Read More »

Elliot Telford Yoga – Yin Yoga Meditation Video #1

take a load off your mind and meditate more

I recorded a little video before my class this Wednesday about what I do when I meditate. Meditating is a great way to clear the mind and relax the body; it can be a great way to take a quick break from work.

I am excited to share more content like this for a few reasons:

  • Videos are cool; I am looking for collaborators; please!
  • Breath expansion into the body is the primary goal of yoga; meditation should help this
  • Yoga practice and meditation practice are the same thing in many ways
  • Being present to your breath is what yoga is all about
  • Yoga should be fun and short meditations can be effective
  • You want to enjoy yoga; a minute or two is great. I know I look serious but that’s just cause I’m alone in a yoga studio taking videos of myself and that is kinda weird to be totally honest with you.
  • I’m performing pranayama breathing through my nose the whole time in the video; follow along

Elliot Telford Yoga – Yin Yoga Meditation Video #1 Read More »

What to Expect in Your First Yoga Class

3 hard and fast rules for doing yoga in public

Everyone should try yoga.

Public classes are fun and a cool way to meet new; healthy people.

Yes, you have to take your shoes off.

The First Time

So you’ve decided to take the leap: you’re going to your first real life studio yoga class.

Oooooh how exciting. You have finally devoted some time to your mental health. You researched a little about meditation and the body-mind thing and you’re going to take it a step further. Destiny, your girlfriend has been telling you to do yoga for at least a decade and you are finally giving in; plus your back is killing you and you need to relax from your boss’ bullshit temper tantrum last week. Maybe you’ve done some stretching and yoga videos online and you are ready to get into your first ever yoga studio class. This is a special time. Savor it.

Real life studio yoga is amazing; there are some very special humans that get into yoga; it’s an art form that is unparalleled in its humanism.

I started practicing yoga with my mom when I was 20. I think I only went once or twice on a Saturday morning with her to East Wind in Roseville (hot yoga, but not Bikram, what a jerk!) and it was one of the hardest workouts I have ever done. I got hooked after about 3 months because of the mental clarity it provided and also the physical aspect of losing weight and also developing abdominals muscles; which I had always lacked due to my passionate love for pizza and ice cream.

#1: Get comfortable

Actually, this is kind of a big deal. Relax. Go to the bathroom before your class starts, probably go to the bathroom at home first. Pass the gas outside. I remember going to the bathroom every morning at 4am in India before my practice. Yoga can kinda reset your circadian rhythm somehow. Your body has internal timings that usually know when you are about to exercise; which is a fun part of yoga. Learn your body!

It’s easy to let out a squeaker; it’s not a big deal, we’ve all been there. My back makes weird fart sounds on my mat all the time and I just laugh about it to myself. However, if you feel like your fart might smell, like bad; as they often do; then you should go to the bathroom and let loose. Try not to stink up the yoga room.

#2: Don’t be Creepy

This is probably geared more towards guys; but hey girls can be creepos too! Try not to be weird, especially around attractive people; they won’t like you as much. Your yoga teacher is a person too; try to value their time also. Nobody really wants to be judged superficially, everyone wants more aquaintances and wants to be loved; be good with people. Try not to stare at the beautiful girls butt that is right in front of your face; unless of course, it’s your wife or girlfriend! Then, with their permission, stare away! But generally staring at other people is not ok, especially in yoga. Focus on your own body; love your self. Spending time with your mind is also a benefit.

#3: Have Fun and Meet Some Cool People

Generally people that practice yoga are not assholes. They are nice! It can be superficial; but I believe it is the instructor’s job to ask people to dive deeper. People are always nicer after the yoga class; it is essentially a dose of endorphins, dopamine, serotonin; the whole kit and kaboodle. So afterwards you will likely be more social. Try not to overdo it and overshare. Yoga increases self-awareness, or self-consciousness and makes for a generally fun and sometimes transcendent studio environment. I’ve had several classes that are like a zoo, an insane asylum, and a massive party simultaneously. It is up to you to help create the atmosphere of a yoga class, so create your experience in it!

More Tips for Hot Yoga

  1. Dress to sweat; sweats are fine, but also shorts for a hot room are nice. Don’t be weird about taking off your shirt; it’s fine guys.
  2. drink water BEFORE yoga; hot yoga generally requires increased salt and electrolyte intake; Liquid IV is pretty cool.
  3. don’t eat much heavy food; tea is fine; an apple is also usually fine. Orange chicken will not be fine(I actually love orange chicken keep it away!).
  4. breath deeply through your nose. Close your eyes. Feel your body. Heal it.
  5. Invite a friend! Yoga is an awesome bonding experience

Conclusion: In short get ready for an exercise class that is also mental; just be how you are regularly and you’ll probably have fun! Unless you hate exercise, then you might hate it! Some people hate spinach; it’s a crazy world we live in.

If you need a mat, get a manduka PRO. 10 years and running for my mat and its like new still.

What to Expect in Your First Yoga Class Read More »

artiphoria-prana-entering-the-body

The Anatomy of Breath: A Yogi’s Guide

Artiphoria.ai AI generated image

To sustain life, a body must produce sufficient energy through aspiration. Breathing is perhaps the only system of the body that is both autonomic and conscious depending completely on the awareness and focus of the breather.

Breathing through the nose, all the time, is part of the true yogi’s path. I can remember 6 months into practicing yoga, I attained the ability to breathe through my nose and it complete changed my yoga practice and my life. I got hooked on the feeling of yoga (call it a healthy addiction) and never looked back.

In Yoga, the energy of breath is called prana (प्राण, prāṇa) which can be described as solar wind in the atmosphere, or liquid light[6]. Through ventilated aspiration, the yogi ingests the prana into the nervous system. In Hindu literature, Prana is described as originating from the Sun and connecting the elements through the Chakras of the human nervous system and conscious awareness.

Yousun Koh

The nervous system is completely dependent on your breathing to function: The parasympathetic system slows your breathing rate. It causes your bronchial tubes to narrow and the pulmonary blood vessels to widen. The sympathetic system increases your breathing rate. It makes your bronchial tubes widen and the pulmonary blood vessels narrow.[4] This process of is also known as the “fight or flight” response. This happens through ventilation, or respiration as the body mobilizes itself to a threat. However, this system is over-active in our cultures because of our stress responses to non-life threatening stimuli. It is healthier for a human to regularly breathe through the nose.

The Nasal Cavity

“The function of the nasal cavity is to warm, moisturize, and filter air entering the body before it reaches the lungs.[1]” Here are the additional benefits:

Nose breathing is beneficial primarily because it allows your nasal cavities to:[2]

msdmanuals.com/home/lung-and-airway-disorders
  • reduce exposure to foreign substances.
  • humidify and warm inhaled air.
  • increase air flow to arteries, veins, and nerves.
  • increase oxygen uptake and circulation.
  • slow down heart rate.[3]
  • improve lung volume.
  • help your diaphragm work properly.

In essence, hairs and mucus lining the nasal cavity help to trap dust, mold, pollen and other environmental contaminants before they can reach the inner portions of the body and the lung’s organic tissue. Air exiting the body through the nose returns moisture and heat to the nasal cavity before being exhaled into the environment.[1] The mouth, also known as the oral cavity, is the secondary external opening for the respiratory tract. The mouth is mostly for filtering in eating and drinking.

Oblique muscles (accessory breathing muscles)

Focus on the Exhale

Nasal exhalations are an extremely important focus in yoga. The muscles in your chest and abdomen tighten or contract to create a slight vacuum around the lungs. This causes air to flow in. When you exhale, the muscles relax and the lungs deflate on their own, much like an elastic balloon will deflate if left open to the air. The lungs are extremely flexible sacks of tissue that have the ability to expand and contract.

References:
Yousun Koh
  1. InnerBody.com
  2. Dentallogictruro
  3. YogaU Online
  4. National Institute of Health (Govt)
  5. Himalaya Institute – science of breath
  6. NASA – Solar Wind
  7. kenhub.com
  8. Sivananda

The Anatomy of Breath: A Yogi’s Guide Read More »

Ashtanga Yoga with Elliot Workshop

I am honored to present you with my upcoming workshop series on Ashtanga Yoga. You can sign-up on the events page here.

Ashtanga Yoga with Elliot Poster
Ashtanga Yoga with Elliot Poster

You can also sign-up on Facebook, if you so desire. Drop-ins are welcome, but you will be missing out on additional information on the series and future events.

Practice the Primary Series by yourself, wherever you want.

The idea behind the workshop is to bring yoga home with you. The primary series could be thousands of years old, no one truly knows. But the grandfather of modern yoga Krishnamacharya expounded this method to BKS Iyengar and Patthabhi Jois in Mysore, India when they were teenagers. This method has evolved to become what we know today as Ashtanga yoga.

Youtube reference video of the Primary Series

Ashtanga Yoga with Elliot Workshop Read More »

Taking Time off Landscaping to Recharge

The summer months are getting hotter and hotter in Northern California with increased risk of fire and smoke from the lack of proper management from the California Bureau of land management, which is obviously very inefficient (as evidenced from the record setting fires from the past 5 years).

This makes landscaping and fence building very difficult, and sometimes completely impossible because of hazardous smoke conditions. However, I was able to finish a few more fences before the fire season got under way with the record setting Dixie fire (the second largest in California’s history).

Finished Fences before Fire Season

I have been getting more skilled at decorative fencing and have gotten a lot more tools in my belt (including a chop-saw, a table saw, and a paint sprayer) since I first started doing big fences at the beginning of the year. I typically remove all old concrete and prefer new construction rather than repair. Dealing with other individuals work is typically very difficult as people tend to cut corners when constructing fences. I am very proud of all the work I have done and I think my customers are very satisfied with the level of quality and of service that I provide. I also paint now as you can see below!

The bottom 4 pictures are of a cattle fence repair that I did out in the hillsides. The customer wanted to save money (which I never recommend with construction because you get what you pay for) so I did my best to find less expensive wood and keep the costs down. Overall I think it turned out great!

After 3 months of Grinding in the heat, my back was in bad shape.

So I took some time off landscaping to refocus on my yoga practice. It was an excellent start to the year, but now its time to wind down and enjoy all of the progress that I’ve made this year and to get more efficient with my business!

My yoga practice has progressed a lot recently, I’ve restarted my work on the primary series and will be offering a new workshop on September 4th for the Yoga Chikitsa. I am also starting a new Hot Yoga class in Auburn today, at 7pm. I’m really looking forward to it!

Taking Time off Landscaping to Recharge Read More »

Yoga with Elliot | Episode 2

Triangle Pose and Hamstrings – Intermediate 30 minute Sequence

Overcoming Technical Difficulties for a longer video

This past week was a very long week of dealing with HUGE file sizes. I finally found a much more efficient way of producing videos with Adobe Media Encoder, where I don’t have 50 Gigabit files that I have to move between my phone and computer. I think I spent over 20 hours waiting for my computer to try to process the video, only to fail because of lack of hard drive space. I eventually uninstalled almost all of my applications and made space for the large file and I learned how to create much smaller video files using the Media Encoder.

A Longer Intermediate Sequence

I want to enable people to practice yoga on their own whenever they have an internet connection. This sequence is a great foundational sequence for working into the backs of the legs. It is also efficient, 30 minutes and a couple of those minutes are just resting on the ground.

I did my best on the audio quality, but I don’t have a sound proof room or studio. Just doing the best I can with that I got.

List of Postures

  • Standing meditation
  • 2x Standing back bend
  • Forward fold
  • 2x Half-lift
  • 5x Chaturanga on knees
  • Cobra pose
  • Down dog
  • 2x Sun salutations
  • Chair pose
  • Standing splits, right leg in front
  • Low lunge
  • Dragonfly twist 3 breaths
  • Runners lunge
  • 10 breathes Triangle pose
  • 3 legged down dog 5breaths
  • Tippie toe to forward fold
  • Halfway lift
  • Sun A moves
  • Standing splits
  • left leg in front
  • low lunge
  • twisted lunge
  • runners lunge
  • triangle
  • 3 legged dog
  • Downward dog 5 breaths
  • Chair pose
  • Twisted chair
  • Floating leg twisted chair
  • High lunge 5 breaths
  • 3 legged downward dog
  • Knee to forehead x 10
  • High lunge 5 breaths
  • Pyramid pose 5 breaths
  • Revolved triangle pose
  • Hanumanasana
  • 3 legged down dog
  • Sun a
  • Chair pose
  • Twisted Chair
  • Floating leg
  • lunge
  • 10x forehead to knee
  • lunge
  • pyramid
  • revolved triangle
  • hanumanasana
  • Jump through to meditation
  • Forward fold 10 breaths
  • Spinal twist
  • Happy baby
  • Savasana

Yoga with Elliot | Episode 2 Read More »

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