Search

Lauren Maslen

Category

Yoga & Meditation

THE ZEN OF HABITS AND POSITIVE THINKING ARE WHY I DON’T HATE YOUR GUTS

The following article was published on www.oregonsportsnews.com on 3 July, 2013. 

image

Let’s call this an experiment.

An experiment of gratitude; of testing myself and my abilities; my capabilities; my willingness; my willpower; my independence, and my inner strength. Mostly, though, this is an experiment of my patience.

I’ve said before that I’m undoubtedly a flawed human being and one virtue truly lacking in my life is patience. I’m constantly working on it; however, in my self-imposed experiment, I’m focusing on something else as well: habits.

I’ve started thinking a lot about habits lately and here’s the cool thing about them: creating habits is habit forming. Once I start making habits – hopefully good ones – that leads me to create other positive life choices and to make them a habit in my life.

Coming back to the United States and trying to etch out a path for myself has been aninteresting transition, which has including an ebbing and flowing yoga practice and moments of sedentariness mixed with weeks of regular exercise.

One of the habits I’m trying to enforce in my life is to not focus on lack, but instead on abundance. What am I capable of giving? What are all of my amazing attributes that make me feel empowered, strong, courageous, and are truly my great qualities which I should allow to shine through to the world rather than masking with negative thoughts and energy?

I can create habits of thinking how much I hate people, for example, or I can change those thoughts and perceptions, making them as ridiculous as I want. “So-and-so is a d-bag and can suck it,” can simply transform into “So-and-so must be busy saving kittens and teaching at-risk youths; that’s why he hasn’t called me back for a month. Namaste!

Just as easily, I can create a habit of blaming my lack of balance on outside forces, like the gravitational pull of the Super Moon, or I can start practicing like it ain’t no thang. Why can’t I re-create the habit of standing on one leg in vrksasana while pouring myself coffee or balancing in dancer’s pose while brushing my teeth? Because guess what? That’s just happened. It just takes some habit forming.

This is my experiment. To honor myself; to notice everything worth noticing in life; and to not only create the habit of positive thinking, but positive motion.

“The mind is potential energy,” Deepak Chopra explains, “and because of this we can change our physical world simply by changing our thoughts and beliefs…”

Anyone with a regular and consistent physical practice who suddenly halts their daily regimen knows the mental effects are no joke. Re-creating positive thoughts in order to get out of that negative mindset and back to your can-do attitude is essential. Positivity breeds positivity. It’s about training the brain to no longer breed negative energy.

When I moved to Korea, I knew it would be an adjustment. I watched a lot of TED Talks and read lots of inspirational blogs. They talked about gratitude and creating habits. I started writing down three things I was grateful for everyday, taking the stairs rather than the elevator, and practicing yoga. I was determined to be happy in this new and foreign place. It’s all coming back to me now as I once again feel foreign and the need to be happy and at peace in America.

The key to habits is that they take persistence. Sure you can cheat, but if you do, you are the one who will know.

FACING CULTURAL DIFFERENCES ON THE MAT

The following article was published on oregonsportsnews.com on 20 June, 2013. 

image

 

I have a confession to make. I recently went to my first yoga class in two months and it hurt. I felt good when I finished, but it hurt.

That’s right: Miss self-proclaimed globe-trotting yogini hasn’t attended yoga classes in months. I have my excuses. I’ve been traveling, moving, and figuring out life. All reasons to go to yoga class, but it’s hard to settle into a new studio while attempting to figure out life and a routine in America. I’ve settled for self-practice, but that hasn’t been cutting it.

I used to stand on one leg for fun while brushing my teeth; I sat in boat pose while watching TV with my friends. Now it hurts to bend into a forward fold. This is what sleeping on a futon for a month will do to one’s body. At least the Thirty-Day Squat Challenge has kept my backside in check.

Now after a few classes, my body is sore and I once again feel devoted to daily studio time. I also remember why I fell in love with yoga in Asia, and what I learned through my practice about compassion and love of oneself and others.

Halfway through my last “Candlelight Hot Flow” class, the teacher stopped everyone.

“I know none of you want to use the block. Your egos are getting in the way! You’re not getting a good workout without the block, guys!”

This teacher was epitomizing criticisms against Western yoga practices which I’d never had the misfortune of experiencing.

First of all lady, I thought, you’re ruining my chi.

Being reprimanded for my “ego” immediately took me out of practice and forced my gaze and mindset into my reflection in the mirror. What was I doing wrong?

The answer? Nothing. I was doing what my body felt it needed. Perhaps my weaker leg could be strengthened in my extended side angle; however, my ego did not take a back seat once this instructor told the thirty-odd students in the room that we were “doing it wrong.”

A few days later, I told a fellow practitioner about my Yoga Teacher Training program.

“Oh, Thailand? With anyone I would know?”

I didn’t understand at first.

“Well, no one else in my program was from here.”

Then it dawned on me.

No, I didn’t study with any famous Western yogis. Why would that matter? What I’m concerned with is finding a teacher who shows mutual respect for me, my body, my practice, and my spiritual well-being. I’m not concerned with a festival-hopping white girl in a Lululemon sports bra telling me that my physical asana is wrong. What I need is a teacher who will allow me to get out of my head-space and into my practice in the most beneficial way possible.

It’s easy to ignore pop culture influences when they’re not involved with your lifestyle. When I lived in Asia, yoga easily allowed me to go within; to separate not only from popular culture and mainstream media’s ideologies, but to go deeper within my own practice. Thus far, my new yoga community has shown me the profound impact that popular culture has within all aspects of life here.

I don’t mean to generalize every yoga practitioner or class in America nor do I think there’s a wrong way to practice. I believe in freedom of asana.

A very wise teacher once told me that how you perceive reality is how reality will bounce back. So go ahead, yogis of the world: you do you.

WHO LOOKS OUTSIDE DREAMS. WHO LOOKS INSIDE AWAKENS.

The following article was published on oregonsportsnews.com on Monday June 17, 2013.

image

 

Perhaps it’s because I lived in the world’s second largest mega city for over a year. There’s something about being constantly surrounded by throngs of people that makes one want to escape to nature. Of course, a month spent in disconnection on an island, far away from civilization, is a very freeing feeling. Maybe it’s just the simple fact that I’m back home in the mountains. Whatever the reason, I love being outdoors.

I’ve ventured up into the mountains of Estes Park, Colorado, and I’m currently sitting in the grass staring at snow covered peaks and elk in the distance. The sun is beating down, it’s slightly breezy, and clouds are rolling in over the Rockies. After five days of hiking, trail running, and spur of the moment yoga pit stops around town, I’m in love.

Whether you feel at home on the pavement of a city street or squeezing dirt through your toes, I present a challenge to you: get outside! I truly believe it safe to say that no matter what reason you find to do so, you will not regret your decision. Step out of your comfort zone. The walls of your mind may be the thing keeping you trapped inside; not work or “obligations.” Make yourself your obligation.

Don’t think you have time to hit the trails? Then go for a run, ride a bike, or take a walk after dinner. Don’t worry, everything will be there be there when you get back. Find something you love and go have fun with it.

Yoga is my passion. Outdoor yoga? Say no more. Enjoy the beauty of Oregon or wherever you are around the country this summer with some of the following events.

Hiking Yoga

Hiking Yoga is in thirteen cities nationwide and mixes two of my favorite activities. The best part is that it will appeal to city dwellers and granola crunchers alike. Imagine this: exploring the hidden corners of your beautiful city, taking photographic pit stops to stretch it out, and getting your day’s cardio taken care of all at once.

To find Hiking Yoga’s schedule in Portland and to find out more information, visitwww.hikingyoga.com.

Yoga Rocks the Park

Yoga Rocks the Park is a national celebration of yoga, live music, and the health and wellness community. Every Saturday in parks around the country, join locally and nationally celebrated yogis from a variety of backgrounds and traditions. Yoga Rocks the Park starts Saturday July 13th in Portland at Laurelhurst Park. 10% of proceeds from Portland’s YRP go towards Living Yoga, a non-profit working to bring yoga and natural healing practices to alcohol and drug rehabilitation centers and transitional facilities. Kids can even participate through Camp Yoga Rocks, a fun and interactive camp where kids ages three to ten can learn yoga, hoola hooping, and have fun with art, face painting, and other activities.

Find schedules, teacher and musician lineups, and more information onwww.yogarocksthepark.com.

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑