30 12 2013

The first time I experienced Reiki, I was hooked. I went in knowing nothing. I wanted it that way. An open mind would keep me from expecting to feel something, anything.

Yoga is known to assist in balancing the chakras, so the concept of these energy centers was not new to me. In fact, I design yoga classes to concentrate on a specific chakra or to align all the chakras, when needed. Certain poses, along with the breath, affect specific chakras to keep the energy flowing throughout the body. If one chakra is blocked, it can hinder the flow and may show physically in the body and/or our thoughts and feelings.

I always feel better after practicing yoga. Even when my focus is not on the chakras, the chakras benefit from the practice. After my Reiki experience, I felt there was more I could give to those looking for a way to receive greater relaxation, reduce their stress and balance their chakras.

Peace and gratitude are part of my daily life since I started practicing Reiki. Before Reiki, I strove to feel a closer connection, incorporating yoga, meditation, and prayer into my day. The connection was attainable though more effort was needed and the sense of connection was not as strong.

My journey continues, opening my eyes and my heart to more than I could ever have imagined.


Legs Up the Wall Reduces Stress

19 08 2012

It just takes five minutes in Legs Up the Wall pose to relieve stress. Sometimes I like to end my yoga session with Legs Up the Wall, or midday to rejuvenate my body and mind. This pose is considered an inversion pose and all inversion poses help to clear the mind. Situations, relationships, and we take on a new perspective when we are looking up, rather than down.

Practiced regularly, Legs Up the Wall may help to:

 Calm the mind

 Relieve low back tension

 Aid in relieving minor anxiety and depression

 Ease stress on the adrenal glands

 Reduce swelling and cramping in the legs and feet

 Aid in digestion

 Relieve minor headaches

 May help regulating blood pressure

 Insomnia

 May relieve some symptoms of menopause and PMS

CAUTION: Legs up the wall is generally not recommend for those menstruating, with eye problems, with neck or back problems, after third month of pregnancy, and anyone with heart problems. Check with your yoga teacher first. during this pose, bend your knees, touch your soles together, and slide the outer edges of your feet down the wall, bringing your heels close to your pelvis.

Moving into Legs Up the Wall:

Before beginning, you may want to have a blanket or two handy to use, if needed for support. Remember, comfort is important.

1: Stand next to wall with your left shoulder and left hip against the wall. Sit to the floor with the shoulder and hip remaining against the wall. (Option: place a folded blanket close to the wall and place buttocks on blanket when sitting.)

2: Swing around to bring your bottom up close to the wall and legs reaching up the wall towards the ceiling. Lower back and head to the floor. (Option: If using a blanket, position hips comfortably on blanket to relieve any back or leg discomfort.)

3. Move hips away from the wall if hamstrings are tight or lower back is uncomfortable. (Option: Bring soles of the feet together, bend knees out to the sides, and slide outside edges of feet down the wall towards the pelvis.)

4. Make sure the neck is comfortable. A folded towel under the head or neck may be helpful.

5. Arms are placed out to the sides away from the body with palms up. (Option: Body temperature may drop slightly. A blanket to cover up with may be helpful.)

6. Close the eyes and breathe deeply. Inhale and exhale slowly, filling and expelling the lungs.

7: After 5- 10 minutes, bring knees toward chest and roll to your right side. Remain on the right side and take 2-3 deep breaths before sitting up slowly.

Experiment with the blankets and positioning of the hips and legs.

Need to de-stress before going to bed? Grab a blanket and head for the nearest wall.

Tammy’s Challenges

Mind: Do what is necessary to be able to sleep 8 hours each night.

Body: Trade workout DVDs with a friend or borrow one from the library. Ask a friend to join you!

Soul: Smile at yourself each time you look in the mirror. You must love yourself before anyone else is able to love you.



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.)


Shavasana – Final Relaxation

11 03 2012

Why is it so hard to relax? Shavasana, final relaxation, is the last pose in a yoga session, where we quiet our mind and body. It is the toughest pose to master! You are lying in your back, legs stretched out on the mat, wider than your hips, arms by your sides, away from the body, palms up. Close your eyes and concentrate on your breath, following the inhale and exhale of your breath. Other thoughts will come into your mind, acknowledge them, release them, coming back to the breath. Try it just for 5 minutes.

Try it. It’s harder than you think. Most of us multi-task all day. Doing nothing could be the toughest thing we tackle today. But, the rewards are worth the effort: restful sleep, clearer thoughts, mental focus, less anxiety, the list is endless.

People have such a hard time with Shavasana, that some will even leave class at this time. Some think it is a waste of time. They came for the workout, but do not realize that the poses were designed to tire the body to be able to do Shavasana and quiet the mind.

Next yoga class, keep in mind the most rewarding part will be Shavasana.


Tree Pose

10 01 2012

I love Tree Pose. Whenever I need to calm my mind and re-ground myself, I move into Tree Pose. I can do it anywhere.

Try Tree Pose:

Stand with feet hip-width apart, feeling the feet grounded into the floor. Body weight is distributed on both feet. Find a focal point and shift weight to the left foot. Bring the sole of the right foot to the left ankle, big toe touching the floor and heel near right calf. Stay here until you feel comfortable to move on.

Tree Pose with Toes

You may bring the sole of the right foot up to the calf or inner thigh, avoiding the knee. Bring hands into prayer at your heart. Lengthen the spine up through the crown of your head, while keeping the foot grounded.

Press the sole of the foot into the thigh and press the thigh against the sole of the foot.

Repeat on the other side.

Tree Pose


* Strengthens thighs, calves, ankles, and spine

* Improves concentration and balance

Try not to judge yourself. One side may be easier than the other. One day may be easier than another. Accept what your body can do today.



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.