"Yoga is the stilling of the modifications of the mind."

-From the Yoga Sutras of Patanjani 1.2 and 1.3

Tranquility Yoga

235 Littleton Road, Unit 1
Westford, MA 01886


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Recently, I read this article in the Boston Globe about the use of cell phone technology in advertising. The article describes how cell phone data is being collected to allow businesses to target ads to people who might be interested in their products. Basically, what this means is that if you love something - say Oreo cookies - and that somehow gets discovered - then suddenly, you will start seeing ads for Oreo cookies constantly popping up on you computer or laptop. While as a business owner, I can certainly understand the desirability of "targeted advertising", this just seemed to me to go too far. Think about it... you may think it's great if you want to eat all those cookies, but what happens if you decide to go on a diet and give up those cookies? Now, you are fighting an uphill battle because you are constantly being reminded of those cookies every time you look at your screen. This just takes "impulse buying" to a whole new level.

I was quite disturbed by this article, and I wondered... is anyone else out there bothered by this? Is there anything that we, as consumers, can do about it? I have been pondering this question for the past few days, and have been surprised by how much it bothers me. Is it the loss of control? Is it the feeling of being manipulated?

Today, as I was taking a yoga class, my teacher, Phil Milgrom, had this to say, from Patanjali's Yoga Sutras:

"When your mind is busy, you don't just watch it – you get lost in your mind. You forget that there is a "you," different from your mind. Yoga gives you a space – inner space so that you can find your Self again."

As I contemplated this, and thought about my upset of being bombarded by advertising, I saw a connection. When we are constantly flooded by a barrage of advertising, we get lost in it...we forget that there is an "us" in there capable of making decisions. And we grab at whatever is in front of us because it is easy and available.

It was good to be reminded of this in Yoga class and to realize that even off the mat, Yoga gives me a space – inner space - so that I can find my Self again and be freed from the desire to succumb to all those external forces. I may not be able to stop the ads from coming in, but I definitely have the power to decide how I am going to respond to them.

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How do you say good bye to a beloved pet? My family recently had to do that to our 13 1/2 year old Golden Retriever, Clyde. We got Clyde when my boys (now 18 and 20) were just 5 and 7 years old. He has been a beloved member of our family ever since. We also have a second dog, Comet, who at 6 years old, has never lived without Clyde around. Losing Clyde was truly like losing a family member.

I remember when we first got Clyde 13 years ago through an ad in the Want-Advertiser. As my kids were starting to get a little older, I had been thinking about getting a dog, but we had lost 2 dogs right around the time the kids were born, and that was pretty devastating. I had told myself that I would not get another dog until I was prepared to lose another dog. Five years later found me browsing the want-ads for dogs, so I suppose I thought I was ready. And magically, there was the ad - a four - month old Golden Retriever puppy in need of a loving home. With some trepidation, I picked up the phone and called, and after a brief conversation in which I must have mentioned that I had kids, the woman told me that the dog was already spoken for. Somewhat disappointed, and also somewhat relieved, I hung up the phone, only to receive a call back from her about an hour later saying she was re-considering. Apparently she had promised him to a single guy and she really wanted the dog (already named Clyde) to be with a family. After an extended conversation this time, she agreed to sell him to us.

Three days later we travelled to Rhode Island where we met Clyde to see if he would fit into our family. For me it was love at first sight, though I think the rest of my family took a little longer to warm up to him. But as Golden Retrievers do, he wriggled his way into our hearts and souls and clearly planned to stay there forever.

When he was about 2 years old, I read an article in the newspaper about dog agility and thought that would be fun to try with him, so I found a local trainer and began training him. Dog agility is an amazing sport, in that in order to succeed the handler and dog need to be in complete partnership. There is no "me owner - you dog and you must obey me" in that sport. The dog has to be a willing and eager participant, and the handler simply tells the dog where to go. Through that training and later in competition, I developed a unique relationship with Clyde, and truly learned how to communicate with him at a very profound level. Clyde competed in agility trials for many years and earned a lot of ribbons.  I will always be grateful to him for introducing me to that sport and allowing me to play with him for so many years.

Through my work as a Yoga teacher I have been exposed to many facets of yogic philosophy, and one of the things that Yoga teaches is that the biggest fear we have is the fear of death. As I watched Clyde at the end, though, I could see how peaceful he was and how he just wanted to be free of the constraints and pains of his body. There was no fear for him. It was much worse for those of us left behind with a gaping hole that will never quite fill in all the way. Even though I knew that Clyde was not going to be around forever, and even though I thought I was "prepared" to lose him, I still miss his wagging tail that never stopped. Wherever you go, Clyde, I wish for you that your tail wags forever...

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For the past several years, I have been on a mission to de-clutter my life. I've blogged about this before, and it's clearly a never-ending process. For me, spring always seems to be a great time to clean up my life and purge my house. Judging by the number of yard sales out there this time of year, I'm not alone.

This year, however, I've added a new dimension to my spring cleaning regime. After a wonderful presentation at my yoga studio on "Detox and Weight Loss" given by a friend of mine, I realized just how clogged up and cluttered my body was. This friend inspired me to do a 10-day dietary cleanse/detox. In partnership with her and one other friend, I went for 10 days eating primarily fresh fruits and vegetables: no wheat, dairy, soy, meat, rice, eggs or any processed foods. I am currently on Day 14 of this 10 day adventure, and while I have been slowly re-introducing other foods into my diet, I am not in any hurry to go back to my previous ways of eating.

The process was quite an eye-opener for me. In preparation for this, I started reading food labels more carefully, and was amazed at how much bad stuff is in all our food. It's really quite incredible. One of Yoga's precepts for living involves the practice of "purity" and last year, as part of my homework for a teacher training, I was supposed to practice that for a month. While I did clean up my diet a little at that time, I really focused more on my physical space. What I realized during this cleanse is how easily the practice of "purity" relates to the food we eat. I was totally amazed as early as day 5 how much more energy I had. It has now become crystal clear to me that the foods I take in have a very direct effect on my energy level, mood, and general clarity of mind.

The statistics on diseases in our society are staggering, and lately, more and more information is coming about how our food supply is just not serving us properly. If you're feeling sluggish, achy and just generally not as good as you know you could, do some research into some of our major staple foods, like corn, wheat and dairy. You may be surprised at what you discover. And consider some major dietary changes. If you're like me, you may never want to go back to your old ways again...

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As a Yoga teacher for the past 15 years, I have come to appreciate the many health benefits that Yoga offers, including increased strength and flexibility, calmness of mind, and a greater ability to focus. I also happen to be a dog-lover, and have 2 Golden Retrievers that I run agility with, so I am acutely aware of the importance of keeping them in peak physical condition. Thus, when I read an article several years ago about a new fad starting up called "Doga" or "Yoga for Dogs", I was intrigued to say the least. It's been on my radar screen for at least the past 4 years, and finally, I found a class offered nearby in Waltham at Flow Dog, a Physical Therapy Rehabilitation center for dogs. I was signed on as soon as I saw the information!

Three weeks ago, my dog Comet and I went to Waltham for our first of 3 weekly classes, without a clue what to expect. There were 4 other dogs there, and what they accomplished was truly amazing. All of us owners were surprised at how well the dogs did and how easy and natural it was for them to go into the various poses. If there is one caveat in dog training it is this: "Never underestimate the power of the cookie!" In 3 short weeks, all the dogs in the class were doing the "Mountain Pose" (standing beautifully on all fours), seated and standing twists, the cobra pose, and of course downward- and upward- facing dog. The really amazing part of it all was the shift in energy of the dogs from the beginning of each class to the end. To a dog, they were all more focused and clearly more relaxed at the end of class, and they even got along better with each other. For me, it really validated the power of Yoga... this is a discipline that really works with the body to quiet the mind!

Yoga has become an integral part of my life over the years, almost like brushing my teeth. I have a daily home practice and can't imagine not doing it, even for a day. It grounds me, relaxes me and helps me focus on all my other day-to-day activities. As for Comet, he was exhausted last night. He came home, crawled under our bed, and passed out. I know from experience that new habits take time to develop. We'll have to see if he continues...

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