My Peaks at Enlightenment

22 04 2012

This is my article printed in the Weekly Record Herald on April 15, 2012.

Hi, my name is Tammy Shellhaas. I am a yoga instructor/personal trainer and I would like you to join me on a journey to challenge your mind, body, and soul. Every other week we will explore a new aspect of a healthy lifestyle. My hope is to offer new information, or a new perspective to what you already know, or reintroduce an idea that may have been forgotten. So, let’s get started…

In the Yoga Sutra, Patanjali, a second-century philosopher and yogi, summarizes the guidelines or eight limbs for ashtanga (asha=eight, anga=limb) yoga. The limbs are meant as guidelines on how to live a meaningful life with purpose. The limbs provide  help in relationships, interactions with the world, positive thought and actions, yoga postures, breathing practices, meditation and concentration, and, finally, lead to Samadhi, or enlightment. Wow, I want to practice and achieve all those things, but I really want to jump straight to becoming enlightened and find my True Self. Nice try. There is no short cut to achieving Samadhi. Samadhi cannot be taught or practiced. It is obtained.

So, I will be honest. I have not reached enlightment, but I do see glimpses of my True Self at times. I saw a peak at my True Self with each birth of my two beautiful children. My husband, John, reaches for my hand when taking a walk – another peak. I tear-up when I hear Somewhere Over the Rainbow. (I don’t know why, but I do. I love that song.) Peak. I practiced, practiced, and practiced the Crow yoga pose. (Crow is a balancing pose. Both hands are on the floor, bent knees are positioned on the backs of the upper arms, and toes lift off the floor to balance on the hands.) Then, one day, my body “gracefully” eased into Crow. Peak!

I have reduced the meaning of Samadhi to a very basic level. As you can see, I am in the early stages of my journey. A late bloomer, you might say. The exciting part of this journey is, as I practice all eight limbs of yoga, the glimpses of my True Self are peaking through more often. I am in wonder of how my life has changed since starting this path. Each day brings surprises. I need to share what I learn on this journey with others. I cannot keep it to myself. My hope is that you find a peak at your True Self.

Tammy’s Challenges

Growth does not come from one perspective. To achieve a healthy lifestyle, you must do more than concentrate on exercise alone. Diet changes will enhance your wellbeing, but it alone is not healthy. Let’s not forget the soul or spirit. It needs nurturing as well. So, here are a few mind (diet) – body (exercise) – soul (mental) challenges for you to try.

Mind: Try a new vegetable.

Body: Every stoplight/stop sign, contract your abs and hold, until you start moving again.

Soul: Stop saying, “I wish” and start saying, “I will”.

I would love to hear from you.          Email:

Facebook: TammYoga

Twitter: @TammYoga

Namaste  (The spirit in me respects the spirit in you.)



Competition, Judgement, and Expectations

13 12 2011

At the beginning of each yoga class I ask my fellow yogis to let go of competition, judgement, and expectations.

The competition may be with the person on the mat beside them or the competition could be between their mind and body. The mind’s image of what they think they should be able to do may be different than their body’s ability.  Why do we feel we must force ourselves into a pose, when maybe we need to listen to our bodies and ease into the pose? (I work in a women’s fitness center. Need I say more?)

All of the yogis attending my current classes are women. (The men have not worked up the courage to attend. But, I am working to entice them.) So, I am assuming the yoginis struggle with judgement. We are bombarded with air-brushed photos of celebrities and models in bikinis at every checkout line. Hopefully, we are not judging someone else, but it is likely we are judging ourselves when looking in the mirror. Judgement happens on the yoga mat, also.

My Dancer Pose today.

Why is it one day I can feel like a ballerina in Dancer Pose and the next time I am wobbling and struggling to stay upright? Frustrating. But, maybe I need to consider what I ate the day before. Maybe there is stress at work or with my family. Maybe I need to stop the negative judgemental thinking.


I like changing the flow of poses in the yoga classes. Some parts are predictable, such as one pose following to another or Sun Salutations. But, the progression to a more challenging pose may not be noticed. No expectations, just flowing from one moment to the other. One yogi is challenged by Crow Pose. She is determined to conquer it. I attempt to help her realize the need to practice other poses that will strengthen her body and prepare her for Crow. One day she will conquer Crow. But, not when she expects to conquer Crow.

Yoga is a journey. And that journey can be so enlightening, if, when we step on the mat, we learn to leave competition, judgement, and expectations behind. Then the real magic happens when we leave the mat and take what we have learned about ourselves into our daily lives.