Category: Blissology 101

Never Doubt that the World Needs your Gifts

Each one of us is our own gem; we have an offering to humanity that we were meant to bring out into the world, but we play small.

I’ve realized that there have been so many gifts in the past few months underneath all the fear and uncertainty.

If we want to create a new future, it starts by simply sitting down and breathing. Like you would reset your phone: let’s recharge our energy and connect back to the beautiful vibration of Love.

Love is the biggest gift we’ve been given in our life. When we share that love it comes back 1000 times stronger. Like a boomerang, it comes right back at us. So share what’s in your heart.

Let go of negative stories in your past and create the amazing future that we are all stepping into. The world needs your gifts. Let them shine today in the smallest of ways.

If you’re interested in these types of conversations you can sign up for our Commit to Bliss Online course happening this July!

Child’s Pose – The Power Of Community Podcast with Eoin

“In this episode, Michael talks to Eoin Finn a globally renowned yogi, surfer, and founder of Blissology, Eoin has played a huge part in the yoga world since the late 1980s and continues to bring a fresh perspective and inspiring energy wherever he goes. They discuss the importance of feeling deeply connected to the wellbeing of both body and mind and the power and support that comes from being a part of a community.

Rooted deeply in the therapeutic and transformative alignment and physiology of yoga, Eoin’s down to earth, modern insights on spirituality focus on the ideas of finding bliss and connecting with nature. He is a passionate ocean-activist and started the Blissology EcoKarma project in 2014 raising aid and awareness through yoga and activism for the world’s precious but imperiled coral reefs.”

Listen to the whole podcast on Apple Podcasts or Spotify!

Total Joy: 100-hour Training & Epic Online Modules

Joy Joy Joy!

I’ve been in my Joy in an extra-large way lately.

Two things that light me immensely are learning and sharing ideas as well as connecting with a community of people who want to lift each other up and create an upward spiral together.

This has been happening in a huge way in the last two online immersions we ran in May and I am thrilled to launch three trainings that can be taken individually or you can do all three for the 100-hour Blissology Yoga certification:

  1. June 10: Align Your Yoga, Align Your Life
  2. July 10: Commit to Bliss
  3. September 10: Blissology Yoga Teaching Methodology

If you want to help your body heal, help others to heal and share the message of your deepest heart, these modules are for you.
I am thrilled to share this bliss with you!

Are All Breath Techniques Actually Relaxing?

Our epic Bali Immersion and Yoga Teacher Training start in just two weeks and we’ve seriously been upping our manual game: this article is a part of our breath section. Although our YTT has been sold out for weeks, we’ve had a few spots open just this week so if you’re up for a last minute adventure, email trainings@blissology.com and join us in Canggu, Bali in May!

 

Are all breathing techniques truly relaxing? Do they immediately cause parasympathetic tone or the peaceful space of what we call in Sanskrit, Sattva?

Imagine a friend who is stressed or worried.  In order to calm them down, would you prescribe rapid breath of fire: i.e. pumping the belly and forcing exhalations out in rapid succession (kapalabhatti)? How about long breath holds (kumbhaka)?

Most of these traditional breathing techniques are actually stimulating to the nervous systems of novice yogis. So why would the yogis do them? My theory is twofold.

One, there are ways to keep the body calm during these techniques. For example, if you hold the breath at the top of the inhale for 12 seconds and force the glottis closed or tighter the forehead, it can create a panic, almost like a “drowning response” in some people. However, by relaxing the throat and forehead, the sensations of panic decrease and the chances of experiencing a pleasant sensation increase.

It is important to remind yourself or others whom you are teaching to utilize “yin cues” during pranayama. Yin cues are observations that help the body to relax and not resist softness. They are what happens when we exhale and let the outer body soften in a “down and out” way into the gravitational field. Some examples are “relax the jaw,” “soften the eyelids,” “keep the belly soft.”

The second reason many of the breathing techniques are stimulating for the nervous system is for the after effect. The technique itself may be a little rousing but the after effect is usually calming to the nervous system for most people.

Remember, we breathe in to get oxygen into the cells. When we breathe out, carbon dioxide is released. However, when we hold the breath, our brain senses that we need oxygen, and when we can’t take it, the buildup becomes unpleasant.

The autonomic nervous system will kick on the “mammalian diving reflex.” This is essentially the body’s “power save mode.”  It decreases the need for oxygen by slowing the heart rate down. Our body does this in order to save oxygen for its most important organs: the brain and the heart. The process of learning this technique may be described as “freaky” at best but to many it is outright terrifying.

As Roger Cole once wrote in Yoga Journal:

“The dizziness that comes with deep breathing is usually caused by breathing out carbon dioxide faster than the body produces it. This makes the blood less acidic, which apparently causes a chemical alteration in nerve function that makes you feel light-headed. The cure is to breathe more slowly and/or less deeply.

Holding the breath during asana practice is not a good idea. Asanas require free circulation of the blood and plenty of oxygen to the muscles and organs. Holding the breath can increase pressure in the chest so much that it is difficult for blood to return from the body to the heart. Too little blood goes in, so the heart pumps too little blood out. Dizziness may result when blood pressure sensors in the heart, upper chest, and neck detect too little blood volume within the heart, or too little pressure being pumped up toward the head.”

This is why, time and time again, the yogis warned initiates of pranayama to practice with a guide. “Do not try and do this on your own or in large groups” is a warning that came with these techniques.

In my opinion, if people don’t know why they are doing a pranayama technique or how to relax the mind and body during a potentially strenuous breath pattern, the risk of an unpleasant experience increases dramatically.

Key things that cause stress during pranayama and their fixes:

  1. Breathing too fast.

Inhaling too fast and not closing the glottis to slow the rate of inspiration or expiration down. The fix for this is to drink air in through an imaginary straw, as opposed to gulping it all at once.

As mentioned above, holding the throat tight along with the belly or any part of the body will use up oxygen and increase the feeling of panic.

  1. Thoughts of Resistance.

What we think can create resistance in the body and decrease the relaxation response.  Feeling as if you are going to run out of air to breathe and asking yourself “how much longer?” or “what is going on here?” send signals of muscular tension through the body.  If we are reminded to “trust the process,” or simply to “stay relaxed” it can help dramatically.

Many people breathe out too quickly.  This is usually the result of a mind that is moving too fast (Rajasic).

The fix is to say the sound “Ha” when you are breathing out. Allow students to breathe out through an open mouth, saying “haaaaaa” (aspirated) like the relaxed sound of pleasure you make when someone massages your back or when you are fogging up a mirror.

Now breathe out quickly as in the sound “ha” (unaspirated) like we are blowing out a birthday candle.

It’s like a difference between gulping down a drink versus drinking it slowly through a straw. The same amount of liquid comes in but over less time with no straw.  In the same way, imagine you are breathing in slowly through a straw and exhaling slowly through a straw. Savor the breath as it comes in and out.

  1. Holding the Breath and keeping “energy” in the upper front torso and head.

Sometimes it feels as if we are holding breath and energy in the upper torso and lungs, which adds to a feeling of light-headedness. The key fix here is to do things that “ground us.” If we are standing, we need to “find our heels,” feeling that we are supported and our energy is going down.  If they are seated we need to find the weight in the pelvis.

Of course, we need to be cued to breathe into the lower pelvic bowl (genitals and sitting bones) and also the back side of the ribs and even the lower back.

  1. Creating sensations of tightening in the Body.

It is essential to use the Yin Cues such as “relax your jaw; throat, and forehead.”  This was addressed above.

  1. Not being in sync with the inhalation.

The Fix: One note for teachers for any breathing technique is to cue the exhalation and pause first before inhalation.  As opposed to starting a breathing technique on an inhalation.  Starting with an exhalation, allows all students to “synch up” their inhalations.

  1. Not understanding why we are doing a breathing technique can cause anxiousness.

The fix: Tell people the after effect will be calming. Before you start a technique, give them tools to stay calm from the list above. And the big one that is simple but can be overlooked: remind people that they can always stop and just enjoy long deep breaths on their own at any point.

Compulsively Checking for “Likes”? Eoin has a Meditation for That.

In a world driven by social media likes, in which we consider “friends” to be “followers” and our worth in clicks, it can be tough to cultivate a true sense of self-love and inner peace. Renowned yoga teachers, it turns out, are not immune from the bait of the ego. Eoin Finn, founder of Blissology and regular Wanderlust teacher, was leading a retreat in Bali when he had the revelation.

“In Bali, there are stars, there’s are no walls,” says Eoin. “So I’m sitting under the stars, looking at the light on my phone, when there’s so much beautiful light coming in from all those beautiful stars. And I realized I was plugged into the wrong light.”

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be liked, of course. But for Eoin it was a reminder to cultivate his sense of worth within before he could accept it from outside sources, even if those sources are thousands of followers…

Read the rest of the article by Lisette Cheresson on Wanderlust’s website and see the meditation below.

Bali YTT Vision for Epic Community: Residential Accommodation

Dear student,

Blissology is committed to offering an unparalleled Yoga education to all students in our 200-hour Bali YTT. We also envision your experience to be seamless and cohesive, which is why we are happy to share Cosmos Oasis with you. It’s a beautiful, uplifting yoga retreat space in Canggu, Bali where we host the training.

Cosmos offers ideal accommodation on site and over the many years of our hosting yoga trainings in Bali, we’ve found that students have a better experience when they choose to stay at the retreat center.

• The rooms at Cosmos are designed specifically for yogis and are conveniently located to the yoga shalas and organic restaurant.
• When you stay here, you can use your time to study or relax instead of traveling to and from Cosmos.
• We also love the idea of our community staying close together. You will make incredible friends and be able to spend time in the common areas or retreat to your own private space to restore when needed.

When you stay on site you will also have access 24/7 to the pool, full kitchen, room cleaning cleaning everyday,
shampoo, body wash, towels and the super friendly staff that we’ve been fortunate to know for the past few years. Indoor/outdoor lounge area etc.

Please contact Cosmos for airport transfers at the cost of 300,000 IDR (equivalent to $21 USD) one way. This is a very reasonable rate and we highly encourage you to arrange transport with where you will be staying. The driver will not get lost finding your accommodation! If you arrange at the airport, it is possible that your driver might not find his way.

Rooms range in size and amenities to suit all budgets. Prices range from $350 to $1800 USD/month.

Cosmos (single or double)

 

King Size Mezzanine Room (Capsule) with private bathroom/showers – 1 available

Single Mezzanine (Capsule) with private bathroom/shower – 7 available

Triple Bunk with private bathroom – 1 available

Twin Bunk with private bathroom – 1 available

Twin Share with shared bathroom – 2 available

 

How do I book?

Once you have decided on the room of your choice, please let us know by emailing trainings@blissology.com. 
We will connect you to the booking manager at Cosmos Oasis directly so you can reserve your spot.

Terms:

> All prices are in USD
> All payments are made directly to Cosmos Oasis.
> 5% service fee + 10% government tax are to be added to final bill.
> Check In/ Check Out dates:
200 Hr YTT: Check in January 31st, check out February 25th
100 Hr Immersion: Check in January 31st, check out February 9th

If you’d like to stay in the room before/after the course it’s easy, simply book for the dates you want at the nightly rates. Don’t forget we have yoga, cultural activities and time to practice teach and study during the break dates of February 10th-15th plus special pricing on spa packages around Canggu!

Also, EcoKarma dates are optional but they will be in North Bali on Feb 28 – March 1. This is not included in this pricing but is very inspirational and aligns with the Blissology philosophy of uniting the teachings of yoga and ecology.

Intention of the Blissology Yoga Alignment System

1. To create a feeling of “grounded spaciousness” in the pose. When it comes to the purpose of alignment, most people go straight to physical benefits.  In Blissology Yoga first and foremost we want to align our bodies to create a certain feeling.  Rather than using alignment to confirm to some kind aesthetically perfect pose that looks nice but may not feel good, we want to create a feeling from the inside out.  Our Mantra is Yoga is more about the feeling than the shape.”

In Blissology Yoga, the shape of the pose needs to serve the feeling of peace, lightness and ease. We are looking for a calm and relaxed, body. The shape of the pose needs to be a servant of the calmness of mind, body and breath. As soon as the shape of the pose is prioritzed over the feeling, the risk of injury increases dramatically and we violate the essential principles of kindness and sustanability.

This does not mean that we let the body do whatever it wants as we sit peacefully by. Instead we endeavor to create poses that feels light yet stable, grounded yet spacious.

2) To Balance the Yin and Yang forces in the body.

I am using the terms Yin and Yang in relation to gravity.  The “Yin Force” is the down and out into the gravitational field.   The “Yang Force” is in and up in relation to gravity.

You can think of Yin like a puddle or a river going down passively with gravity.  Yang, by contrast moves in and up away from gravity like a fountain.  Yin provides softness, relaxation and the ability to move stuck emotions and energy out of the body.  Yang provides stability, support and muscular engagement.  The yang energy used wisely distributes tension throughout the body for support and the yin energy allows the body to relax on that support in a way that does not hurt the joints.

We need a balance of both forces.When we get it right, it feels like we are being suspended from the ceiling by puppet strings,  rather than compressed and collapsed at one of the spectrum or overly rigid on the other.

Our goal is to find the most efficient “in and up” lift away from gravity in the most relaxed way possible. Wei Wu Wei, means “effortless doing.” We want to be masters of gravity in yoga and in all life’s activities.

3) We want to be precise with our poses.  This means we want to steer the body towards shapes that allow our bodies to grow more strong on more flexible according to the intention of the pose.  

This in is contrast to  just allowing the body to move into the path of least resistance so the changes are more random or ineffectual.

We strive to isolate stretch and/or strengthen in specific areas. By isolating these places using proper alignment so that muscles that are too tight and strong can find flexibility and length. At the same time, people who are too loose can find more muscular engagement, strength and integration.

4) Sustainable and well-functioning joints. We want to keep the joints protected by dispersing loads rather than concentrating them in ways that wear the joints out. We need to integrate the body parts together to function synergistically.

Misaligned joints are prone to injury in the bones, tendons, ligaments or other connective tissues because of concentrated forces on the joints. We want to disperse the load over many joints.  We don’t want any muscles to overwork but instead find efficient ways to share the load over a wider kinetic chain

5) We want to create better energy flow. We believe that if every yogi did the pose to create more prana in the body and remained sensitive to what interfered with this energy flow, the risk of injury is almost nil.  Also, the goal of flexibility becomes a secondary bi-product to the over-arching goal of better energy flow.

6) We want to create neuromuscular patterns for all activities in gravity. This means that the work we do in the poses to create grounded spaciousness and the distribution of yin and yang forces will carry over to all of life’s activities, not just the yoga poses.

The connection between mind and muscles (neuromuscular connection) will become like a path through a jungle after hundreds of people have walked on it.  We will develop integrated the alignment principles into our bodies that everything we do off the mat will be guided by the principles we work on on the mat.

What we are not trying do:  It is worth defining in our intentions what we don’t want to guide of study of alignment.  

1) We do not want to be guided only by the “aesthetic perfection” as the end goal.

This means that very often we need let go of the idea of lining bones up with other bones or walls in order to make an aesthetically pleasing pose of one that has “perfect” geometry.

How is looks can never be more important than how the poses feel (as per point 1 of our intentions). Being guided too much by what we feel the pose should look like will create a mental struggle, a lack of ease and will put joints at risk because we want to jam square pegs into round holes.

2) We do not want to be concerned about prioritizing end points that compromise the lines of tension (DUO Lines). If we are motivated by the end points we “go around” the fundamental alignment patterns and comprise all of the intentions we have set out in 1-6 above.

Eg: In revolved triangle, the end point to many is having the bottom hand on the outside of the front foot but most often, this will compromise our joints.  We call these “Go-Arounds.”

This will mean that often we need to approach a Blissology Yoga practice with a beginner’s mind.

“Energy without awareness of alignment can be dangerous
Alignment without awareness of Energy can be boring.”

The Miracle of Breath

Most yoga practices have a strong focus on the breath. The breath is a tool that creates heat, releases tension, calms the nervous system and helps provide a meditative focus. But how about using it as a means of practicing santosha?

Santosha loosely translates as contentment or gratitude. Taking time everyday to express gratitude will, in my opinion, contribute as much to your overall state of health and happiness as any physical yoga practice.

There are an infinite number of things that we can feel grateful for. Feeling grateful for the breath we breathe is a nice one because it is such a focal point of our practice already, but also because it points to the fact that “all things are connected,” which is the heart and soul of the state of mind called yoga. It is also the heart and soul of environmentalism. When David Suzuki writes in his book The Sacred Balance, “Every breath is a sacrament, an essential ritual” it is clear that environmentalists and yogis are on the same path.

Realizing the history of oxygen is a great way to turn every breath one takes into a sacrament. In primordial earth 4.6 billion years ago, there was no oxygen necessary for life as we know it today. Instead earth’s atmosphere was much like Mars’ atmosphere was today, 95-98 per cent carbon dioxide. As the earth cooled geological activity increased and gases were released by volcanoes. These gases known as greenhouse gases behaved like the glass of a greenhouse keeping heat in the earth’s atmosphere.

The theory is that the heat of the earth at one point got as high as 85-110 degrees Celsius. When volcanic activity stopped, the earth cooled and as a result the condensation-rain-evaporation cycle that thankfully continues today was established. Eventually oceans were formed.

Two and a half billion years ago primitive microorganisms evolved a process of capturing energy from the sun called we all know as photosynthesis. To crudely describe this process, plants use carbon dioxide, water and light as a form of usable energy. In this remarkable process, six molecules of carbon dioxide are transformed into sugar and six molecules are released as oxygen as a byproduct. And what a byproduct! If it were not for this amazing process of plants converting carbon dioxide into sugar and releasing oxygen, the opportunities for life as we know it would never have been created.

When plants invaded the land the diversity of and numbers of living things blossomed. Herbivores evolved to feed on plants. Carnivores and omnivores fed on them. And the beat of the dance of life increased.

So with each breath; each time our lungs capture some of the atmosphere around us and feeds this oxygen to our to our blood cells, let’s feel grateful for the how intimately connected we are to all things around us. The sun, trees and plants, the rain, the water cycle, beings that have lived here before us.

Take a little time every yoga practice and be mindful of how intimately connected we are to all things around us. We just cannot spend enough of our day contemplating how lucky we are to be able to play a small part of this divine dance of life.

Every breath truly is a sacrament.

Drop a Pin {Earth Day Poem}

earth day poem

When the glow in the mountains lights your soul
When you find yourself looking at the splendor of those birds in flight

Pause and Drop a Pin

When the movement of wind on the water lulls you into a timeless peace
When the setting sun holds you in its golden light

Pause and Drop a Pin

When life shrinks you down and darkness enters
When you lose your way and cold winds make you pull your jacket tightly over your chest


Remember the vast expanse of all those pins
A little piece of you lives in all those corners

Relax into your expansive and most radiant heart
We don’t end at our own skin, we always exist everywhere we drop a pin.

By,

Eoin Finn.

Blissology Nature Appreciation Mandalas

What is a ritual? To me, a ritual is a consciously performed act meant to connect us to a belief system. In every class lead by a Blissology Inspired Teacher around the world, we make a Nature Appreciation Mandala because it is a ritual that connects us to both Nature and Community.

This is important because, as the name suggests, Blissology is the Art and Science of happiness. What makes us happy? Our belief is that there are two foundations to happiness: One is a deep connection to Nature and the other is a connection to the Community.

A Nature Appreciation moment is a few minutes of quiet observation of Nature with a quiet mind and open heart. Step one is to find something beautiful in nature: a rock, a shell, the clouds, the stars, a sunset or raindrops in a pond. Then we “relax and breathe, then observe and receive.”

To make a Blissology Nature Appreciation Mandala we ask each person attending the class to find something beautiful in nature that speaks to them, which they then fuse with their positive wishes and gratitude. At the start of class, each item is placed in the center of the yoga space and assembled in a Mandala.

At the end of practice we gather together as a collective in what we call the “Circle of Light.” The beauty of the objects is the touchstone to the beauty in our hearts and the awe and wonder that we need to restore in this busy life of ours. It is all too easy to forget our connection to nature but these mandalas help us remember.

One thing I know for sure is that the more I blur the line between where I end and Nature begins, the happier I am.  Let’s live a life of reverence for all living things. Here is a link to a few of the Nature Appreciation Mandalas from Blissology classes around the world

Let Love Rule.

Here is a collection of Nature Appreciation Mandalas from years past: