Are you in the spirit?

I love this time of year. I love holiday lights, music, decorating the Christmas tree, and being around friends.  But the thing I love the most is the spirit. 

This time of year everyone comes together with a common goal in mind - to give.  People give in different ways, such as gifts, offering their home, and donations of items, time, and money. No matter their circumstance or bank account, people find a way to give.  How or what you give is not the important thing here.  What's important is that the giving is often to someone you would not typically give to.  It's someone that's not in your circle or social group but instead, it's someone outside of your comfort zone.  It may be the Salvation Army, a homeless person, a women's shelter, or perhaps you're donating your time at a soup kitchen or nursing home. This time of year, the line between "us" and "them" becomes less defined and we move closer towards "we." This time of year, despite beliefs, opinions, and social class, people come together. 

The holiday "spirit" shows us what's possible when we all work with a common vision.  We lose sight of this pretty easily, especially since our world is pretty cold right now. So as you move through this holiday season, keep in mind of what's possible when we come together.  Notice the impact, and then perhaps we can hold this vision all year long.   



What Game Are You Winning?

I've been winning the game of busy.... again.  I'm so good at this game and I love to win. I'm slightly competitive, as are many of you.  

What do I mean that I'm winning the game of busy?  Imagine something that you really want to happen.  It may be more time with family, a clean home, financial gains, or less work more freedom.  Whatever it is, there's something that each of us wants.  When we become attuned to self-awareness, we often refer to our inability to get these things as "self-sabotage."  We are doing something else that prevents us from getting what we really want.  For example, let's say you want a clean home.  Self-sabotage may look like wasting time on Facebook instead of cleaning.  OR, even better, you may find things haphazardly occur, such as, a spill on the counter, the dog having an accident (which he NEVER has!), or something in your calendar shows up at the exact time you are supposed to clean.  Something occurs, whether it seems intentional or not, that prevents you from having a clean home.  Some call this again, "self-sabotage." I call it, winning your game. 

Now I know this is difficult to wrap your head around... but stick with me here.  Imagine, just for a moment, that you are playing a game... with yourself (heads out of the gutter). Think of something that you are really good at that actually creates more stress for you.  It might be procrastination, distraction, lack of direction, being "busy," overwhelm, being a victim, or stuck in a particular job or circumstance.  For me, it's being busy.  Somehow, some way, I've connected being busy with my value or worth.  So I've become really really good at doing things, or doing nothing but perceiving it as doing something.  And granted, I do get quite a bit done.  However, many of things I do are not contributing to my bigger picture or direction.  Why? Because if they were, then I'd be winning a different game and I'd be losing my game of busyness.  And if I lose, I'm not valuable. And I don't like to lose, or feel not valued. (I know, it does not make sense, but for reeeaaal, this is how we think). So, all of a sudden, little things show up on my to-do list, my priority then shifts, and I win my game.... again. 

This isn't a magic formula or deep clearing work.  It's a simple shift of your relationship to self-sabotage and what it is that you want. It's also an understanding that whatever game you are winning, there's something else being fed underneath the surface that continues to drive you to win this game.  So ask yourself, "What is it?  What drives me to win my game?"  And then, powerfully ask yourself, "What game would I like to be playing instead?" Then go get 'em. 



Fall into Flow

Do you know some people have a fear of pumpkins?!  It's called cucurbitophobia.  Well not this girl... I LOVE Fall.  My love is well beyond your typical enjoyment of the season... it's the opposite of a phobia.  Every year my pumpkin season get's earlier and earlier.  There was one day in July that felt like Fall, so I decided that was the start of my season and I enjoyed my first pumpkin smoothie.  Slowly everything pumpkin, maple, apple, squash, has seeped into my life.  It's been glorious. 

I flow so easily into Fall.  It's like we're a perfect fit.  And then I wonder: Why can't everything be this simple? 

In my classes and conversations, I encourage others to find a sense of ease and flow in their lives, yet this is one thing I come up against most.  I have a conflict between my fears and what I really want in life and it creates a serious struggle inside. You could say #thestruggleisreal !

When I'm in this place of struggle, my fears are winning.  I've lost faith and more importantly, I've lost my flow.  The thing I want the least, I attract the most.  I begin to do all of the behaviors that I don't want.  Here's an example: Let's say you want to be a stay-at-home mom.  You've decided the best way to do this is to work harder and longer hours to make more money that will allow you to stay at home.  What's gained is more money, but what is lost is what you wanted; more time with your kids.  When we try hard we create strain and struggle and we lose ease and flow.  We believe the more we do, the more we get, which is true in many situations, but not all.  Instead, we often become further away from what we want because we are trying so hard to get there.  Trust me, I can relate. 

So what's the answer? 

It's as simple as I wanted it to be really.  The answer is acceptance. Being okay with where you are.  It's the difference between being okay even though your a working mom or it totally ruining your life.  If it's ruining your life, you're in for a miserable hull.  If you're okay with it, you've moved into acceptance and the weight of trying to get somewhere goes away.  The weight of trying to get somewhere goes away, but not the desire.  We so often attach weight with desire, and what happens is we feel heavy, and often become heavy from the stress of it.  When we drop the weight and allow acceptance, it gives us the willingness to stay and the space to move forward at the same time.  You will have a powerful shift from trying hard to trying easy. 

Over the next few weeks, notice the areas of your life that feel heavy.  Discover where it is that you are not accepting and make a commitment to drop the heaviness of your desires.  Fall into flow so that you become immensely attractive for what you do want. 

Love and Light


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Your Independence

Last week I received a newsletter from a fellow studio owner that briefly discussed independence.  Independence means to not be influenced or controlled by others in matters of opinion or conduct.  It means to be free from control in your action and judgement and to think for one's self. 

A few years ago I taught a year of preschool.  At the end of the year, I was in charge of the graduating class as they headed off to kindergarten.  One of my closing statements in the ceremony was, "I hope that you learn to not make others opinions more important than your own."  Naturally this statement is a little over a 5 year old's head, so it was more for the parents in the audience.  I think as adults we need this reminder often.  Especially when we get caught up in life with bosses and spouses, or when we begin to idolize friends, acquaintances, or people in our community.  It's particularly difficult when we feel pressure from someone that we care about or actually value their opinion. 

There are about 5 different directions my brain is taking this blog post.  However, I believe I'm going to keep this one short and simple by sharing with you a valuable reminder from that short newsletter: 

"To be independent of others control and/or opinions is powerful. To be able to think and act for yourself takes courage.  You have to trust who you are and believe in  yourself.... Don't let anyone tell you how to live your life."
This month, step into your power and decide what it is you want and how you're going to get it.  Take the lid off of life, and go for it!

Justina and Ignite Yoga Team


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Challenges with Gratitude

I watched a personal development video from a friend this week.  She spoke about our trials and the type of language we use when we are in a trying situation.  I'm sure you all can relate to phrases like:

  • "When will my break come?"
  • "This isn't working, and I'm just not sure I can do it."
  • "I'm putting in so much work, but I'm just not seeing the results." 
  • "Is this the right fit for me?"

I know for myself, any time I come up against a challenge, these questions subconsciously run through my brain.  I thought they were normal, which they are. But I would notice that the challenge would start to feel heavier the more these thoughts would run through my brain.  What at first seemed like a problem to get through, now feels like I need an army by my side. 

Part of our yoga practice is to interrupt habitual patterns of thinking.  I know for many of you, you have an image of something you want.  Perhaps it's a thriving business or relationship. Maybe it's to improve your communication skills. Or, it could even be a desire to change how you view your world, especially if there are multiple things that aren't working. These things that you want are not possible without challenges.  So why is it that we get so flustered when we actually get what we asked for?  Did you think your communication would be fabulous without going through some messy conversations?  Did you believe your business would thrive without being challenged mentally or even financially? If you did, then right there is where your habitual pattern of thinking needs a switch.  

So this past week, as the video suggested, I began to change the way I think about my challenges.  Immediately the Universe started to conspire and I was presented with way more trying challenges.  Lucky me.  Although there is a little sarcasm there, that is actually how I began to respond.  Every conversation, every interaction, and everything that probed me in any way, I immediately said "Thank You." Thank you for giving me this challenge that is going to help me to grow.  Thank you for giving me this conversation that allows me to improve the way I communicate.  And thank you for this situation that gives me the opportunity to take a challenge and turn it into a creation.  It may not be easy, but this is actually what I asked for.

So as you continue on your journey to whatever it is that you want, experience your challenges with gratitude.  It doesn't necessarily make them easier, but it softens your approach and allows you to move with more grace and ease through them. 


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So, I think I'll become a yoga instructor....

Ignite Yoga recently launched it's yoga teacher training program, along with the other yoga studios in the area, each of us offering something a little different and unique.  We all have our own different beliefs and approaches, but one thing is the same- we're here to teach you how to teach yoga and to deepen your understanding of the practice.

I mean teaching yoga sounds awesome, right? 

*We get to wear comfy yoga pants ALL day
*We aren't required to wear make-up
*We can sit down and close our eyes and it's completely acceptable
*We meet a ton of new people
*Everyone is almost always happy
* This list goes on and on....

One thing most potential YTT's (yoga teacher trainees) aren't aware of, is the path to becoming a yoga instructor has changed rapidly and significantly over the years.  Yoga is a tradition that has been around for over 2,000 years and until recently, many 'programs' took a minimum of 2 years to complete and included rigorous practice and mindfulness.  It was hours worth of time.  Today, however, we live in a culture where we want to be able to do something as quickly as possible.  And so, we made that possible.  Now you can have the status of being able to teach yoga in as little as two weeks.  From 2 years to 2 weeks.  Crazy huh?  

It's not to say that you can't teach an effective class in this time, I mean, I'm 100% guilty of going through the 200 hours and diving right in to teaching (although, I don't know if I can say my first class was "effective").  However, there are a few things that you want to have solid in your heart before you even considering diving into the yoga teacher (or deepened student) path.  Here are just a few...

1.  Be Eager to Grow- our teaching (and practice) is a mountain with no top.  If you don't have an eagerness to grow and learn, then your mountain will be capped pretty quickly.  Do you know what happens when your mountain caps???  So do your students (or your children, or your spouses- don't be a mountain capper!)   We are no good to others if we can't offer the service of growth that has so generously been offered to us.  Be forever a student and you will forever grow (and so will your students). 

2. It's Not About You- "Our yoga practice might start out being about ourselves, but eventually we outgrow that. The great masters are those who make their practice about others." Baptiste Yoga-  As you decide on your yoga teacher path, search for a training that is going to develop you so much that you can make this profound switch of mentality.  At first, you must make it about you so that you can drop all of the junk that may be landing on others wrong (I'm right, I'm better than you, I know it all, etc)  Then,  you feel so empowered that sharing with others becomes a natural part of your self expression. If you are searching for a training without any desire to serve others- STOP.  Go back and practice more.  Come back when you're ready. 

3. Be Humble ALWAYS- As you search out a training, know that everyone is walking their own path and not everyone is seeking a training for the same reason you are.   Rather than entering a training to be the best yoga teacher, enter a training with the intent to be your best self... always.  As your journey continues, never think that you are a rockstar.   There is always someone that teaches a better class than you, and someone who doesn't.  There is always someone that has a stronger practice than you, and someone who doesn't.  Always be your best self- because no one can be better than you at that.  

These are just a few to start and of course there are many more, but if you have these seeds planted and they are beginning to grow, you are already on the path to becoming a great instructor.  

Becoming a yoga instructor is an amazing path and there are bountiful benefits.  Here's what a few current instructors have to say about their path....

"My yoga teacher training program showed me limitless tools for a lifetime of exploration: exploration of the self, of relationships, of my community and the search for meaning. Learning to translate and teach this mind/body/spirit-journey, yoga is tremendously transformative. Teaching challenges me to practice not only for myself but for my students, for my community and for the betterment of the world around me."

"When I first began yoga, it was merely a physical practice, that I looked at in almost the same way as I would any sort of work out. I just thought it was more beautiful and graceful exercise. When I became pregnant,  I started to realize the more internal benefits of the practice. The poses made me more comfortable in my own skin, and helped to keep me moving, but I started to learn more about working with my breath and sitting in stillness with my mind. After an easy pregnancy and a wonderful birthing experience, I decided that I wanted to teach yoga. I learned so many things in my teacher training, but the thing that I realized soon enough, was that teacher training was only the tip of the iceberg. I learned that once you dive into yoga, it is a never-ending journey. The more I practice and the more that I teach, the more I learn about myself. The learning NEVER stops.. unless you reach Samadhi, or Enlightenment. Then, maybe, you have it all.. but STILL you have to keep sharing and spreading that light. That is what it's all about. Finding the light and love within yourself, and then giving it to anyone and anything that you can." 

If you are interested in expanding your yoga journey, please feel free to ask any questions you may have.  We are always happy to share.  




How do You Achieve Enlightenment?

I'm a Baptiste Yogi.  Or, to distinguish myself from Baptiste yoga, as an individual, I am a yogi that believes in the Baptiste Philosophy.  I know the stigma that often comes with this.  You think I don't know what you say behind my back.  The comments/judgements of, "she teaches more of a workout," "it's too hard," "there's no yoga philosophy," or, my favorite, "her yoga isn't really yoga." 

First of all, I'm not sure where anyone can think that they can define yoga.  If you look up any definition, as long as you are working to control your mind and be a peaceful person, you are doing yoga.  And I can tell you, in my practice, I (attempt to) control my mind A LOT and somehow I come out preeeetty peaceful.   And all it consists of is a good powerful breath, asana that challenges my mind (and body), and lots of self inquiry and awareness. 

I was drawn to the Baptiste practice because of this simplicity.  I didn't know what I was getting into when I started yoga, but all I knew was that it was accessible.  I wasn't trying to necessarily achieve anything; I just practiced a practice that allowed me to take a deeper look, in each moment, to who I was (am). And somehow my mind was becoming clearer, I didn't react or get upset as often, and I was happier.   I didn't know what the Yoga Sutras were, I couldn't pronounce Bhagvad Ghita ( I dare you to say it 3x's fast), and I still, yes STILL, don't know the Sanskrit name for all of the yoga poses.   Does this make me a bad yogi?  Or worse yet, a bad yoga teacher?!?!  

Some may say yes, but let me challenge your thinking here.  Put the idea of "inquiry" to the test.  How did someone write, or come up with the idea, of "The Yoga Sutras?" OR how, did someone come up with the idea of the chakras, third eye, or even the experience of energy?  And then, they made them truths?   

It's because, they are truths.  But truth is inside of you.  It's not knowledge that someone discovered and then you are required to achieve to be a good yogi.  All it is, is you waking up to your truth and presencing yourself, SO MUCH, to your life, that you can recognize these things, without even knowing what they are.    

The reason these Eastern philosophies were created is because, at some point in time, someone had the ability to sit and inquire within themselves, so much so, that they were able to notice things, and then make them truths.  For instance, someone realized all, and I mean all, of the crap that we hold inside of our heads and how it affects our life- and then they called it the Yoga Sutras.  Someone realized the space between the eyebrows was something special, and so they focused on it, recognized the heightened sense of awareness and peace that came from this place, and called it the "Third Eye." I can tell you, I LOVED to sit and notice the swirling action in my forehead long before I knew that it was my third eye and that it was connected to my internal wisdom.  You see, it didn't happen the other way around like we practice now.  Now, we are told about the Chakras, the "Third Eye," the Yoga Sutras, and then told to practice them as if they are something to achieve.  They are NOT things to achieve.  They are a constant practice of just noticing yourself, emptying out the junk that doesn't serve you, and getting one step closer to living in your full expression and your truth.  That is it. 

If you read and study the chakras, that is great.  I am by no means disrespecting the Chakras. But it's knowledge will not lead you to enlightenment.  If you study "The Yoga Sutras" front to back, you will have a lot of information to share.  But that is it, the sutras, in and of themselves, are information about enlightenment... not enlightenment.  If you truly want to be enlightened, then you must do the work of getting connected to yourself and your inner being.  All, I mean ALL, that you ever need, is right inside of you.  Let me say it again- All you ever need, is right inside of you. 

Now that is truth.  So let's get to work, shall we? 





Living Big or Playing Small?

You know what I've been catching myself doing lately?  Playing small.  Oh yea.... even after attending a leadership yoga program, spending thousands and thousands of $$'s on yoga trainings, and reading and attending personal development programs,  I STILL catch myself playing small.  It's really really (if you use the f* bomb... insert it here) FRUSTRATING!  It's like, I know what I'm supposed to do... I know how to achieve what I want, I know how to network, I know what it takes to be outside of my comfort zone, I know what it looks like to live big (I even SEE it in my vision), and then when it comes down to it... some tiny little voice in my head talks me into taking the easy road.  The shorter road.  The road that's tree lined, has white picket fences, and has no cracks to trip on.  And, this voice even convinces me that this road will give me the results I want.  Wrong.
     There's a theory in sports that athletes perform better from 1 of 2 ways of coaching.  The first is the coddling method... some people just need a little TLC or inspiration to perform better.  However, the majority need to be pissed off.  That's why you see red-faced, screaming, spewing spit, coaches.  Sure, they're pissed too, but they're more pissed that you're not pissed.  The thing with (good) coaches is that they see possibility in their players, and the most frustrating thing for a coach is when the player falls back into the easy road and not living in that possibility.  They choose the road they know and the road that got them to where they are but no further.  (After all, it's gotten them this far!?)  
     I am personally one of those players that needs to be pissed off to make a change.  Not at anyone else but myself though.  You see, I'm committed to living a bigger life, and when I catch myself not in line with that commitment, I'm pissed.  Again, only at myself...  I know what I'm up to and I know what the cost is if I'm not in line with that commitment.  There are so many people that have taken a stand for me in my journey (coaches you could say) and had they not shown up in their commitment to me, I'd be sittin behind a desk at any job I could find that would pay the bills.  I'd be unfulfilled (as many of you are) and frustrated at my circumstances.  My "feelings" have been hurt, my ego has been hurt, I've felt bad about myself, and I've blamed others rather than taking responsibility for my being.
      One thing I know I'm not interested in anymore is coddling myself.  I'm done feeling bad because someone offended me.  I'm not interested in "taking it easy" on myself as a fix for my hurt feelings.  I'm not interested in living on the inside, analyzing how I feel, why I feel, or if I did something right or wrong.  When I'm in line with my commitment, I don't have room for these things. I'm interested in taking on responsibility for all of them, but I'm not interested in fixing or covering them up or trying to figure it out.  That's wasted time when I could be up to so much more.    
     Somewhere along the line I decided to step in and be my own coach.  Wow, what a transformation right there. I had to take a stand for myself and stop relying on others to notice and call me out on where I'm not living big.  Where I'm not living into my possibility.  I had to stop relying on personal development books for personal development and trust that all that I need is inside me.  I don't know where this journey is going to lead me exactly.  All I know is that I have choices to make along the way, and those choices involve the easy road or the one that's more challenging, but so much more fulfilling.  The "playing small" road, or the "living big" road.  My commitment is living big, so I know which road I'll be taking.  I know which road I want to take and I know it's the only road for me, if I want to live out my commitment to living big and being fulfilled. How about you?
Much love to you all.... you can do it! 




Love the Process

Recently, a friend of mine posted a link to an organization she'd been working to co-create.  The organization's focus is to give back to those that so willingly gave to them, plain and simple.  Besides wanting to support a friend, the thing that got me to click on the website was an image of a t-shirt that said "Love the Process."  I sat and stared at the image of the t-shirt, knowing immediately that I wanted one, not for the apparent softness of the shirt, but because the phrase was ringing in my ears.  Love the process, love the process, love the process....  First thought?  "How inspiring! I clearly need to share this in yoga class."  (yes, that's how yoga instructors think)

Well I still haven't brought it up in yoga class, yet, let me tell you, it continues to bring itself up.  I've lived with the phrase for about a week now and it sporadically runs through my mind.  Love the process, love the process, love the process.....  Finally I decided this was going nowhere but was meant to go somewhere.  So I started to "inquire" (sound familiar yogis??), as to why this short, 3-word phrase was clinging to me.  I asked myself a strain of questions:

1. Why do I like this phrase so much? 
2. Why should we love the process? 

Yea, that's really all the further I got.  The importance of this phrase became so apparent, so quickly.  If you think, just for a moment about your life, we are ALWAYS in process towards, or for, something.  In and of itself, life is a process, it begins at birth and ends at death.  Within all of those years, we are continuously going through processes.  I speak of process here as actions, or continuous action, directed towards some end.  For instance, we go through the process of learning language so that we can communicate with others, we go through a process to progress in jobs, we go through the dating "process" to find a mate,  we work hard to buy a home.... it doesn't stop until we physically stop.  We spend more life in process towards something, then we do enjoying the short, well-deserved, hard earned, end. 

I see new yoga students frequently get frustrated with where they are at in their yoga process.  It most often occurs in one of their first classes when they are either next to someone who has been practicing for a while or they have come into their class with the mindset that yoga is easy. (Which, it isn't, ok?  Let's just debunk that myth now).  Anyways, it's very clear at this point whether they are going to love the process or get caught in an idea that they will never achieve the end result (which is often stereotyped as super flexible, skinny, strong, lean, vegetarian, yada, yada... which is not yoga at all) The thing with yoga is that it takes work, just like anything else worth progressing in.  It's a process to get your mind working in line with your spirit, through the experience of connecting to your body.  The exception with yoga, is that there is no end.  It's a mountain with no top.  It is ONLY process. But when you choose to love the process, it's amazing. 

So, I'm gonna bring it home here....

Let me say again, we spend most of our lives in process.  If you choose to not love the process- hate it, despise it, quit, or be 'End' focused, you are wasting valuable, loving, energetic life.  If you quit, something else will come up that's going to be challenging as well. The process always appears; Some good, some bad, some life changing, some very apparently unhealthy.  Many processes we can end at our choosing, some we can't.  Choose your processes, whether you have actual choice in the matter or not.  That's your first choice to loving the process, is to choose it for yourself.  Take it on.  And continue to choose it until you love it more than the result it produces.  In fact, rather than loving the process, love being in process. Of course, love the end result too, but don't let it take away from all of the valuable time spent being in process.  That's where the good stuff happens.

Oh, and here's the awesome shirt.  If your interested in ordering, just follow the directions.  It goes towards a great cause. And, all joking aside, the shirt does look super soft.

I look forward to sharing in your process. 

Namaste Yogi's




Ignite Yoga

WELCOME Welcome welcome!!! We are so excited to welcome you to Ignite Yoga! There were so many hands in making this studio possible, I can't even begin to tell you how grateful I am. In fact, I was thinking about it today (1/7/14): the hours, favors, and hard work that have gone into making this studio are countless (or as the Mastercard commercials say: priceless) It's things that I can never repay.

It takes a lot of vulnerability and conscious willingness for me to receive generosity. I consider myself a very independent person. In fact, in one of my Baptiste trainings, we did an exercise to discover our inner slogan, the one that comes up in many situations, especially when you go into survival mode; my slogan was "I DON'T NEED YOU." YOU referring to help from others. Sounds kind of awful huh? It's actually helped me in a lot of situations. I have assembled queen sized beds, moved large pieces of furniture, survived with only $9 in my bank account, and have taught myself a number of things. My slogan has helped me become a great problem solver only so I would not have to ask for help. What it has hindered, is allowing others to give their gift of giving.  

There's numerous articles on the emotional and well-being benefits of giving. Humans feel more fulfilled when they give. It's an act of kindness. But how fulfilling is it when the other party doesn't receive. It's a two way street. If you do not receive gratefully, you are not contributing to the fulfillment of another person. Plain and simple.   

I see this studio as a gift... an ongoing gift really. Something that can be shared and received by anyone that walks through the doors. We welcome you to Ignite Yoga with open arms and hope that you will share in our passion of igniting yoga in the Dayton community and beyond. We Can't Wait To See You!  

Justina and the Ignite Yoga Team 

Shout Outs

A HUGE thank you to Cheri Stammen for the logo and both Cheri and Reka Juhasz for the website. If it wasn't for them I would still be trying to figure out wordpress.

Thank you to the amazing former Metta yoga team for making this a smooth transition and helping with the dirty work.

Thank you to Cyrissa at Immerse Photography for all of our beautiful colorful photos.

Thank you to Butt Construction for showing me the way to getting walls built.

Thank you to City of Centerville and Sign Connections for their quick turn around with signs and occupancy. 




Ignite Yoga- Dayton, Ohio