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Is a Yoga Teacher Training for you?

January 25, 2017
Yogi’s who have enrolled, are enrolling, or plan to enroll in a yoga teacher training course embark on this journey for various reasons. All are guaranteed unique experiences and to walk away with new perspectives on their practice. Yoga teacher training courses are often offered somewhere local to your home or in various retreat settings where a yogi can be fully immersed and give 100% of their attention to their teacher training. Yoga teacher training allows individuals to pass down a gift and embark on a soul journey. We asked three important questions that scratch the surface of the immeasurable impact that yoga teacher training has had on students worldwide today and historically:   Why enroll in a yoga teacher training? After dedicated yoga practice, some decide to further the depth of their practice and enroll in a yoga teacher training course. Avid yogis embark on this next crucial step for various reasons which include the desire to understand more than just the postures. Learning the history, philosophy, and heightened understanding allows students to experience yoga on a whole new level. Yoga teachers who have completed the training have reported that they did not realize the impact and incredible journey that becoming a teacher would take them on. Yoga instructor, Yaser Ebrahimi, who currently teaches in Northern Virginia commented on his experience: “When you understand something more, you feel it on a whole new level. You feel more grateful for it. Yoga became a less physical experience through incorporating the philosophical knowledge and other dynamics that teacher training has to offer. My practice became more spiritual/energetic. It became more than just warrior one or warrior two. Now I can get in the pose and truly feel it, surrender to it. Just when I felt I climbed this great mountain of yoga, I settle into another pose or a muscle movement and I feel I am at the bottom of the Himalayas. Yoga is a journey that has no upper limit, no ceiling, no sky. It’s simply timeless.”   Why is teaching yoga important? Those who decide to teach yoga are not only passing down information. Yoga is a karmic, energy gift that has been passed down from student to disciple from generation after generation. For countless centuries, there were no videos, books, cd’s, or magazines. There was no way for someone to capture this knowledge and print it into a form of media and send it to future generations. It only happened teacher to student. How many generations of teachers passed down this knowledge that aspiring students are learning at this very moment? Those who take on yoga teacher training are connecting themselves to the energy of a long line of teachers who have dutifully passed down this gift from countless generations and who have spread it globally. This line of teachers and students connects past, present, and individuals of the future. Today we can preserve this knowledge easily, but the gratitude and appreciation of these past commitments are honored through the continuance of teaching this practice. Those who enroll are keeping the flame going and are adding their own unique understanding, twists, feeling, and energy into the practice. Also see: 3 Ways to Transform Your Yoga Practice What impact does teaching yoga have on students? People will forget what you said, did, or what you do. However, people do not forget how you made them feel. Students who enter into class come from all walks of life and often carry heavy burdens. Some have come with stress, divorce, sick family members, financial problems, or are stuck in an eb of life. Everyone has something they are carrying. At the end of class, their lungs fill up and they sigh it out. Their face changes, they are glowing. They went from tense and anxious, to a moment of pure presence. A teacher is able to improve the day of one individual or perhaps provide a shifting experience that will last a lifetime. There is no way to truly measure how teachers have beautifully impacted the health, well-being, and transformation of students throughout history. Yoga instructor Yaser added, “Becoming a teacher has allowed me to teach from my own practice and hand that down. The energy is transferred to me, and then transferred onto the students that I teach. If I am able to help improve, deepen, or provide a new perspective to a student’s practice that they resonate with, I consider all of it an immeasurable success. I strive to make the practice of yoga more than just a practice, it’s a journey.” One important piece of life is to realize your gift, and give it away. If your calling is to carry the gift of yoga and actively continue this long line of energy, a yoga teacher training retreat may be the next right step for you!   By Sarah Blanks   Also see: 3 Ways to Transform Your Yoga Practice and Yoga Retreats at Selva Armonia
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The Green Traveler: 6 Ways to be Environmentally Conscious on the Go

December 1, 2016
Whether you’re traveling domestically within your country of residence, taking a much needed vacation, or trotting across the globe, it’s important to take into consideration how you can reduce your footprint and leave very little trace behind! Being green while on the go is cheap, simple, won’t take up much room in your suitcase, and is guaranteed to leave you feeling happy about your life decisions! With these below tips, we hope you’ll leave only a positive impact with all of the good vibes you’re spreading along your travels! And maybe some inspiration for those who observe your earth-loving practices! 1. Reusable Water Bottle First we will start with our number one basic need, water! While traveling, often one of the first questions while journeying to a new place is, “Is the local water safe to drink?” The answer to this question may depend also on what your definition of “safe” is. Travelers may often buy water bottles in these places when feeling unsure. However, this is not a sustainable option if you continue this practice throughout your entire trip. If chlorine, fluoride, unknown organisms, and whatever else is not your thing then I would suggest looking into an option that will allow you to filter your water straight from the tap in the countries that you visit. These water bottle filters are compact and can filter out chlorine, bacteria, parasites, and other unwanted chemicals from your water source. 2. Reusable Bags Buying groceries rather than eating out is one way travelers save major cash while on the go. This practice can also leave you with many plastic bags over time that you won’t want to add to your packs that are already bursting at the seams. The good news is, reusable bags are becoming a more widespread practice and are available in many grocery stores! These bags don’t cost much, are strong, and collapse into a tiny size which is perfect for travel. You’ll find that you’ll be relying on these bags quite a bit for many other purposes throughout your travel and will surely be glad that you brought them! 3. Straws Say NO to plastic straws or bring your own reusable one! If you partake in smoothies, flavored teas, or trying out different local drinks during your travels, a reusable straw may be the perfect investment for you! You can get packs of them online for super cheap and they can be made of bamboo, metal, or other reusable materials. They are AWESOME and your friends will want them too, so make sure to buy lots of them and share the gift of green travel. They are thin, will take up hardly any extra space and will make a positive impact on the amount of plastic floating around the world. Now you can sip on your exotic drink of choice that’s been poured into your reusable bottle guilt free with your eco-friendly straw. 4. Collapsable, Reusable To-go Containers/Other Utensils If you’re a traveling foodie, a big part of the adventure is delighting your tastebuds with the exciting and different cuisines that you will come across in your travels. Collapsable to-go containers and reusable utensils are a great option for anyone who is traveling and plans on eating as well. Ultimately this is a way to avoid using plastic while storing your own food, meals you’ve bought while exploring, and for packing up left-overs. Having your own utensils, whether it be a spork, knife, chopstick or some combination of all the above, will eliminate your use of plastic in this area as well. Again, easy, cost-effective, hardly any space required, and it feels good! 5. Eco-friendly products Doing some of your own research into what kind of eco-friendly products you want to incorporate into your life and your travels can leave your conscious feeling clean and the world a bit cleaner as well!  I was horrified once as I was draining a washing machine to see that the long pipe was dumping the water directly into the creek below me! Eco-friendly laundry detergent options, shampoo/conditioner, and other products that may find their way into water systems are always a good option to explore for those who wish to minimize their impact on the environment. Portable, solar chargers for electronics is another option if you wish you reduce your energy use and find yourself unexpectedly or expectedly without electricity. 6. Recycle Taking the time to check out your options for recycling is another minimal effort task a traveler can do while on their epic journey. If there’s nothing nearby at the time, it may be worth it to hold onto your recyclables and check out your future options. Who knows, it may lead you to a cool local spot or an unforgettable experience! All because you care about mother earth! **If you’ve noticed, many of the tips here pertain to reducing the use of plastic. Plastic pollution and waste is a global epidemic. Enough of plastic is thrown away each year to circle the globe FOUR times! That’s why it’s already worthwhile to adopt these tips into your life now, even if a trip isn’t in your near future. If you plan to travel, leave the mark on the world you can be proud of. Happy GREEN travels to all!   By Sarah Blanks
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Essential Foods to Kick Off Your Cleanse

November 17, 2016
There ARE ways to cleanse that won’t cause your taste buds to retract into your tongue! No need to torture yourself with disastrous concoctions that yield odd consistencies, tastes that make you cringe, or strange smells. There are loads of yummy foods that you can easily incorporate into your daily diet to supercharge detoxification. The liver is a major organ that detoxifies the body and protects it from disease that can be caused by harmful substances. For this reason, many of the below items nourish, repair, and help your liver do what it does best. Here is a list of some of essential foods to cleanse your body. Find out how they work harmoniously with your body to boost your health and rid unwelcomed toxins! Greens, greens, and more greens! Our spectacular earth produces a green superteam to facilitate a smooth functioning body inside and out. The following greens, plus countless others, can be called upon to aid digestion, reduce inflammation, clean out the liver, reduce risk of cancer, alleviate bloating, and much more! The greens in our superteam include: artichoke, avocado, asparagus, broccoli, kale, green tea, and dill which are commonly jam packed with vitamins and antioxidants to nourish the body and target the liver so it may process more effectively. Citrus: Citrus fruits are very well known for containing a high level of vitamin C. We’ve all heard that vitamin C is good for us, but did you know that this vitamin has antiviral and anticancer properties and fights infections? Incorporating tangy options into your diet such as lemons, grapefruits, oranges, limes, mandarins, clementines, and tangerines add much needed vitamins and minerals that can help your body break down fats, remove waste, and flush out toxins. Replacing your usual drinks with a consistent flow of lemon water throughout the day provides instant detox results and tastes great! With the powers of vitamin C, vitamin B, and fiber, citrus is an excellent option to include into your diet if you wish to keep your cholesterol levels low, maintain a healthy blood pressure, and combat heart disease. Seeds and Nuts: Seeds and nuts can be consumed by the handful or sprinkled onto your favorite salads, yogurt, oatmeal, and any other creative food combination of your choice. Sunflower seeds, almonds, and flaxseeds are powerful sidekicks that cleanse the liver, provide fatty acids, and are loaded with antioxidants. Sunflower seeds are known for boosting heart health and regulating blood pressure. Almonds act as a cleaning crew and remove those pesky fatty deposits that can build up in the liver from processed foods and a not-so-clean diet. When needing a fiber, mineral, and vitamin upgrade, call upon flaxseeds for this job! Flaxseeds do incredible work through absorbing and dumping out harmful toxins found in food. Seeds and nuts take minimal effort to add to your diet, but pack quite a punch in overall benefits in added health to your body.   Potent and Powerful Must Haves: Beets - Ditching your coffee and upgrading to some beet juice is a sure way to boost your body in the morning. Beets make it onto our list because of their high level of antioxidants, fiber, and other nutritional content that aids the liver and other organs throughout the body. Beets can help further carry out the toxins out of the body that the liver has already flushed and have even been proven to heal liver damage. Eating beets raw or cooked is another great way to absorb the vital nutrients that they provide. Onion - This vegetable has more to offer its consumers besides tears and a strong smell. Onions have antibacterial properties, loads of antioxidants, antihistamine, and anti-inflammatory properties. These layered tear jerkers can help treat diabetes, heart disease, and reduce risk of cancer. With all of these qualities and more, they embody the phrase, “no pain, no gain!” Garlic - Last but not least is one of the most important superfoods for starting a detox! Garlic contains levels of vitamin C, antioxidants, and other nutrients that helps our body function better which in-turn allows the body cleanse itself through its natural process more easily. Adding garlic into your everyday diet reaps hefty benefits and is available in capsule supplements for those who are turned off by the reeking smell! By Sarah Blanks At Selva Armonia, we prepare gourmet, garden to table meals for our guests! The majority of ingredients are nutrient rich foods grown on our abundant permaculture farm. Book a room or yoga retreat with us and enjoy a delicious, vegetarian meal from our gardens!  
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Kundalini Yoga: How you can tap into the unlimited potential of your spiritual energy

October 20, 2016
What if you could connect directly with your very own divine energy lying dormant inside of you through an ancient conscious yoga practice? Many seek practice in Kundalini yoga, also called the “yoga of awareness” due to it’s challenging workout and fulfilling integration of the body, mind, and soul. For starters, Kundalini yoga focuses on moving energy through the Chakra system from the root all the way up to the crown to ultimately achieve spiritual enlightenment. Various spiritual traditions teach seekers different methods of “awakening” the kundalini for spiritual growth. Kundalini yoga is one method that continues to gain popularity among the masses to awaken to their higher selves and bring further balance to their body, mind, and soul. We’ve highlighted the basic principals, history, benefits, differences of Kundalini yoga to help you get started in awakening the sleeping serpent within!
  • Basic Principles
“Kundalini” is the untapped energy that coils at the root chakra, which is located at the base of the spine. This sacred and divine energy is often described as a coiled serpent or sleeping Goddess waiting to be awakened. The purpose of Kundalini yoga practice is to tap into this sacred energy and open the gates to access its unlimited potential for spiritual growth and uplifting the soul. This unique yoga practice places a huge emphasis on combining breath, mudra, eye-focus, mantra chanting, body locks, meditation, and holding postures. Many end their practices feeling completely stimulated by the primal energy and vibrate with new found spiritual expansion. While combining these techniques, the goal is to move energy upwards and journey into the soul through this ancient and sacred practice.
  • History
Kundalini yoga has a long history of practice running for thousands of years. However, this practice was only introduced to the Western world from the East by Sikh leader, Yogi Bhajan. For centuries, the ancient teachings of Kundalini were kept hidden as the public were believed to not be prepared for the power of this knowledge. As a result, it was only taught among the Indian elite. Kundalini science remained a secret until Yogi Bhajan brought this life changing practice to the United States in 1969 with the hopes to help those who desperately wished to connect with their higher selves through a pure channel. He established the 3HO organization, which is an acronym for Happy, Healthy, Holy Organization. From there on, leaders, teachers, and fellow students have paved the way and made history in spreading the practice of Kundalini in the West. Today we have Yogi Bhajan to thank for firmly proclaiming that,  “It is everyone’s birthright to be healthy, happy, and holy, and the practice of Kundalini Yoga is the way to claim that birthright.”
  • Benefits
The benefits of Kundalini yoga encompass many of the benefits of other yoga practices. Continued practice brings harmony and balanced resonance to the body, mind, and soul. Yoga can lead to healthy circulation, increased sense of intuition, calmer mind, lessened anxiety, strong immune system and much more! In addition to the well known physical, emotional, and spiritual benefits, Kundalini yoga allows space for practitioners to incorporate their own personal meaning within their own practice. Yogis often experience feeling energetically light, clear minded, and an increased connection to their higher selves!
  • How is Kundalini Different?
There are some key factors that differentiate Kundalini yoga with Hatha yoga (interchangeable with the word Yoga). Kundalini yoga focuses on the internal energy rather than placing more direct attention on specific alignments within poses. In a Kundalini class one can expect to tune in through a wide variety of mantras that originate from the Gurmukhi language, instead of Hatha yoga’s use of mostly Sanskrit mantras. While practicing, yogis tap into their breath of fire as another method to energize and activate the mother energy which lies within. Common sequences in Kundalini yoga may be different at times but quite challenging. Meditation is also heavily incorporated into the Kundalini practice as a means to cultivate the movement of primal energy throughout the energy centers. It’s ancient belief that by uncoiling the snake, we are able to connect directly with the divine.
  • Where to start?
Selva Armonia, our retreat center located in the harmonious jungle of Costa Rica, is hosting an Inner Light Awareness Yoga Retreat in November for those who are ready to explore Kundalini on a deeper level. Starting a journey into Kundalini yoga could unlock the key to incorporating deeper levels of healing into your practice and unimaginable depths of consciousness into your life. Those who are wishing to explore this yoga practice on an intimate level may also be able to seek a Kundalini teacher in their local area or connect with one through a yoga studio. Kundalini yoga can be practiced alongside other yoga practices and may even add more depth and awareness to traditional practices of choice. One may also want to highly consider a yoga retreat that contains Kundalini practice to fully live, breathe, and absorb this powerful, ancient practice. Written by Sarah Blanks
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