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.


Mindful Eating

19 11 2012

“Food and emotional nourishment are intimately bound together in the depths of our unconscious. Just as you might fill an inner emptiness with food, so you can reject or deny your needs, and therefore reject food, in the misbelieve that the smaller the body the less the longing for love.” Deb Shapiro, Your Body Speaks Your Mind

Eating mindfully is not a diet or special formula for weight loss, but a way to live in the moment and notice behaviors that may not be serving us. Most of these behaviors have become habitual reactions to common triggers we encounter throughout our day.

One trigger may be stress. Stress is our body’s way of redistributing energy: our hearts start to race, our blood sugar rises, and we are more alert. This is good if it is for a short period of time, but our lifestyles have put our body’s stress mode into overdrive. This causes the adrenal glands to produce higher than normal levels of cortisol, which has been linked to increased weight gain, particularly in the abdominal area.

Sleep may be a cause for some that deal with weight problems. Too much or too little sleep has been proven to increase hormones that affect our ability to read the signs of hunger and fullness.

There is no easy or quick way to lose weight and maintain a healthy lifestyle. You may need to go deeper into your current patterns for dealing with stress. Do you eat to feel better? What feelings do you associate with certain foods? What foods do you eat to suppress feelings of anger or loneliness? What is preventing you from breaking through these habits?

Tammy’s Challenges

Mind: Examine your feelings about your body, relationships, and other areas of your life. Are these feelings true? Begin to notice negative thoughts running through your mind and replace them with life-affirming thoughts to heal those feelings. It may not be easy at first, but you may be surprised at the thoughts that may be keeping you from being the person you would like to be.

Body: Focus on a healthy body. Find exercise that you like to do. Realize that what you are capable of may not be what your spouse or friend is able to do. Your body is built different, you are at different places in your life, but you are doing what you know to be best for you.

Make room for plenty of rest.

Explore ways to reduce stress: yoga, meditation, journal, etc., and incorporate them regularly into your daily life.

Soul: Spend time to discover your passion. What do you enjoy doing? What do you do well? Explore your passion and share it with others. Send that positive, loving energy out into the world.

How are you taking care of yourself?



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.



Karma Is Where Change Happens

30 05 2012

Article printed in the Weekly Record Herald on June 27, 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…

Have you seen the TV show, My Name is Earl? I saw an episode when it first aired. I do not follow the series, but the concept stuck with me. The show begins with Earl explaining the premise for the series:


“You know the kind of guy who does nothing but bad things and then wonders why his life sucks? Well, that was me. Every time something good happened to me, something bad was always waiting round the corner: karma. That’s when I realized that I had to change, so I made a list of everything bad I’ve ever done and one by one I’m gonna make up for all my mistakes. I’m just trying to be a better person. My name is Earl.”


Earl has been in and out of jail and seems to have been living a life of criminal behavior, until he wins the lottery. While out celebrating his win, he is hit by a car. During his hospital stay, under the influence of pain killers, he hears about karma on a TV playing nearby. Soon after that, Earl decides he needs to make a life change and heal his karma. He makes a list of everyone he has treated unfairly and commits to repairing the damages. After his first good deed, he surprisingly finds the lost lottery ticket. It must be a sign that his karma has changed. So, with the help of his lottery winnings, he proceeds onward with his list.


The karmic concept may seem confusing. What is it really? In Sanskrit, it means “action”. Whatever we think about, do, or say determines our karma. In the yoga tradition, karma is threefold: our current actions, the effect of our past actions, and what we could call our destiny. This is where it gets interesting. Our actions do not only shape our karma, but anyone else touched in some way by our actions is also affected. Then each person’s karma reaches others and exponentially spreads beyond what we could ever imagine.

Back to Earl: as Earl continues to right his wrongs, his motives appear selfish, in that, he is only trying to improve his karma. However, Earl shows signs of change toward a sense of morality and ethics. He no longer is drawn to the criminal behavior to attain his means. So, from the yoga perspective, karma is where change happens. What we have done in the past creates our lives today. What we do today creates our lives in the future.

Look at your life. Would you like to proceed in a new direction? Change one action, thought, or comment, just one.  It will change your path in the direction of your desires.

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: Measure food servings.

Body: Balance on one foot for one minute, repeat on the other leg. Repeat 5 times. This is a good core exercise.

Soul: Sit quietly, eyes closed, and take 10 deep breaths. You can do this anytime, anywhere, to relieve anxiety and clear your thoughts.


I would love to hear from you.           Email:

Facebook: TammYoga

Twitter: @TammYoga

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


YogaFit for the Brain with Dr. Bill Larkin

6 05 2012

Post from YogaFit Newsletter:

Grow the Peanut; Shrink the Jelly Beans

At the Palm Springs Conference last May I had the great opportunity to speak to another totally tuned in YogaFit audience who get the significance of what I talk about.

I gave the group three pieces of aluminum foil, two jelly beans, and a peanut.

The participants put two jelly beans in the palm of their hand and closed that hand. The jelly beans are the amygdalae of the old, first to be created, reptilian brain. They are full of emotion, flight-flight, fear, anxiety. This part of the brain has had millions of years to develop in evolution to guard and protect us against tigers and other big harm. These are strong emotions we have inherited.

Wrap one sheet of aluminum foil around the closed hand and there it was, the reptilian brain. Wrap another sheet of additional millions of years of development around that same hand and you have a brain wrapped in millions of neuropathways connected to those jelly beans. Then on top of this brain we put a peanut that is the anterior cingulate; the emotional heart of the brain. It is a switching station that takes all of the signals of the brain that are positive and good and turns down the power of the amygdala from creating way too much negative emotional reacting. Our “peanut” anterior cingulate sits right above the insula of the brain which has mysterious connections to addiction that we are only beginning to understand.

Now add the last layer of aluminum foil that represents another few million years.  It is the frontal lobes. This part of the brain communicates with the anterior cingulate what we think and reason. This part of your brain is just behind your forehead.

But it is the peanut that is in the central position of modulating the thoughts of the frontal lobes and the reactions of the amygdala.

Here is the short of it, grow the anterior cingulate (the peanut) through yoga and it will dump chemicals on the amygdala and cool it down.  Super simple but this is what happens when YogaFit increases the growth of neuropathways that enforce and strengthen the work of the anterior cingulate.

Yoga affects the “heart” of the brain that is the anterior cingulate. It adds to the synchrony of the mind and body and elevates mood. Grow the peanut, shrink the jelly beans; do yoga.

Add to that consciously feeling the better feelings you feel, intensify them, feel more peace, more gratitude, more joy, more hope.  These are all states of mind you produce when you engage in the disciplines and direction in which YogaFit takes you.

Make a conscious effort to increase the positive emotions that the YogaFit experience creates. These emotions that elevate mood affect the “heart of the brain” that is the anterior cingulate we have simulated with a peanut. You are releasing a host of positive chemicals and hormones in the work you do.

Two things are extremely helpful increasing the growth of the anterior cingulate.

1. Believe that it’s happening. Plug-in your belief system to know that you are growing your brain and directing its development in a healthy way. Believing well adds to the elevation of mood and good feeling.

2. Capitalize on the good feelings your magnificent movements, filled with centuries of wisdom create for you. Intensity the good feeling you feel; just feel them more, make them last longer. Recreate these feeling states at other times during day by memory. Carry these states of better feelings with you. You are, all the while, growing the peanut that is the anterior cingulate, the heart of the brain.

Grow the peanut, shrink the jelly beans, do yoga and carry it with you in your memory throughout the day.

The significant breadth of the YogaFit program grows your “peanut” across time and significantly cools down your “jelly beans”.

Dr. Larkin is Director of the Applied Neuroscience Institute and author of Growing the Positive Mind and 12 New Steps for a New Millennium: The UpSpiraLife Group

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.)


TammYoga In Balance

15 04 2012

In Balance

I will be writing a new column entitle, TammYoga In Balance, for Tipp City Record Herald. This first column is a question and answer piece to introduce the column. It was printed on Sunday, April 8, 2012. A new column will be printed every other Sunday. I hope you enjoy following me. Please let me know what you think.

Look for the next column on Sunday, April 22, 2012.


Tammy Shellhaas

Family (spouse and/or kids):

My husband, John, and I have been married for almost 29 years. We have two children: Ben, who graduated from Ohio State University and is currently serving in the National Guard in Afghanistan and Betsy, who is attending Ohio University.


I am an ACE certified personal trainer and yoga instructor at La Bella Viaggio in Troy.

Where you’re from and where you live now:

I grew up in Troy and currently live in Troy.

How you first got interested in health and wellness:

My initial interest in health and wellness began in college. I was overweight and did not eat right and began to educate myself on what I needed to do to make a change for the better. I started jogging and making healthy changes to my diet. When John and I were first married and starting our family, I took exercise classes and worked out at home to exercise TV shows and tapes I rented from the library. When our daughter was a senior in high school and we would soon be empty nesters, I made the decision to become a personal trainer. I knew I would need something to occupy my mind during this stage of my life. Once, I became certified and was training part-time, the transition to becoming a fulltime personal trainer and, eventually, yoga instructor was a natural progression. I enjoyed helping others to achieve their goals and share what I had lived and learned.

The most common fitness or nutritional mistake people make:

The biggest fitness and nutritional mistake I see is when a client makes a drastic change in diet or exercise at the very beginning. It is unrealistic to think that the goals they want to reach will be accomplished quicker if they skip meals or lift too-heavy of weights. I’ve been there, done that. It doesn’t work. And more than likely, they will not stick with it because they cannot do this long term.

The best advice you’ve ever been given:

There is no quick fix. Consistency to a healthy diet and exercise program will help you to achieve your goals so that you can maintain the achieved results. I had to learn this after many trials and errors. It may not be easy or fast, but it is possible and has greater results for success.

Favorite music to listen to when you workout:

I like most genres of music. I listen to oldies (Oldies are now the music I grew up with!), as well as, Adele, Rihanna, Pink, U2, Rolling Stones, and Lady Gaga. I recently downloaded Shazam to my phone, so, when I hear a song playing over the speakers at the mall, I can download it and add it to a Spinning playlist. So, it could be any artist, it just needs to catch my attention.

Future goals:

My future plans are to continue learning from my fellow trainers and clients to challenge myself and be the best that I can be. I feel I am doing what I was meant to do. I enjoy seeing my clients surprise themselves by doing something they never thought possible.


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.


Ahimsa – Non-Violence

19 01 2012

Yoga is a journey in physical discipline. But, we don’t want to forget the philosophy that connects the mind and body, which follows us off the mat into our daily lives. The guidelines of yoga philosophy are meant for personal contemplation. It is not about right or wrong. It  is about seeing the truth in ourselves and noticing whether we are moving in the right direction, making the right choices. Yamas are the guidlines for interacting with the outer world. Niyamas are the practice of how we interact with ourselves internally.

One of the Yamas is Ahimsa, the practice of non-violence. We are to bring awareness to our actions, thoughts, and words and practice being patient, loving, understanding, and compassionate. These actions are meant to be expressed towards others, but also towards ourselves. Although, this does not mean we are to let others walk all over us. There is a time to say, “No”, to create boundaries to avoid stress, manipulation, or violence.

In my experience, women have a tendency not to support one another. Maybe we feel we are working in a “man’s world” and need to do what we can to succeed. Sometimes we may feel threatened by a promotion, a relationship, our looks, our age, or anything else we can think of to compare ourselves against. The sad side to this is, if we would support and lift each other we could accomplish and succeed more collectively than alone.

My friends are few, but they are friends that want the best for me, knowing I want the same for them. It is not a competition. We share our successes as well as our failures.

The internal chatter in my head is a constant battle for me, but I believe through my yoga practice I have progressed on this part of my journey. The negative talk, or Monkey Mind, is always there, but I pay attention to it more now and quickly replace it with a positive thought.  It is a journey.

Bullying seems to be a problem with young women. We experienced it in our family a few years ago and a friend of mine is experiencing it in her family as I blog. It is horrible. I don’t know the answer to the problem. The person bullying needs attention, as well as, the person being bullied.

Maybe, if we try to practice Ahimsa more in our daily lives, it will spread to all those crossing our paths. We are strong, intelligent, courageous, (I am sure I am leaving out something important. Help me out here and fill in any other positive adjective.) and totally awesome women (and men) that can accomplish anything we can imagine.

Have you experienced bullying? Do you battle with your Monkey Mind? How do you practice Ahimsa? Please share your thoughts….



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.