A Conversation with OM Matters Founder Tambra Wayne
With all of the uncertainty, chaos, and crisis that 2020 has brought, I’ve been so grateful to have my yoga practice to turn to. Yoga is one of the pillars of my holistic health, as it supports me both mentally and physically. And I know that yoga has been a valuable tool for many others in dealing with the crisis that has been unfolding the past couple of months.
That said, I’m very excited I had the opportunity to interview Tambra Wayne, an experienced yogi and the founder of the yoga brand, OM Matters!
This post was created in partnership with OM Matters. As always, brands on Conscious Life & meet high standards for responsibility and all thoughts & opinions are my own.
Tambra has a fascinating yoga journey story. She started her yoga practice 15 years ago, originally for the physical benefits. But she soon realized that there was so much more than sweating on her mat — she loved how her instructor wove in tidbits about the philosophy of yoga and explained how a specific pose was affecting her body.
She explains that she loved the way she felt during and after class physically, mentally, and spiritually. How she felt supported, safe and loved and that there was no judgment.
As Tambra gained more experience, she noticed major shifts in her perspective: she was becoming more compassionate, expressive and less rigid in how she thought things should be.
Yoga also helped her realize she wanted a more fulfilling career. After Tambra retired from the commercial real estate industry, she dove into studying the philosophies and history of yoga. She hired a private yoga instructor, earned her RYT® 200 yoga teacher certification, and discovered the 8 Limbs of Yoga.
And that is what brings us to OM Matters. Tambra uses the teachings she has learned over the past decade and a half to provide people with the tools to create positive and lasting change in their lives. With apparel, meditation candles, yoga practice cards, and a new yoga app, OM Matters helps people bring mindfulness to their everyday lives.
What is the Yoga Sūtra? How has the Yoga Sūtra influenced the mission and vision of OM Matters?
The Yoga Sūtra is an ancient text written around 250 B.C.E. by the sage, Patañjali. It is considered to be one of the foundational texts on yoga. Although there are many translations and interpretations of “The Sūtra,” most scholars agree that yoga means “to yoke” and sūtra is “a thread.” The Yoga Sūtra can therefore be described as a thread of beautiful verses that outline the key tenets of yoga.
While the Yoga Sūtra evolved from foundations of Hinduism, it is not a religious text, but simply offers suggestions on how we can live our lives in peace and happiness. Interestingly, the Yoga Sūtra contains 196 verses of which only 2 are dedicated to physical postures. Clearly, yoga is so much more than just the physical practice—it’s a way of life.
What inspires me about this philosophy is that it:
- Leads us to the understanding that everything is interconnected, and encourages us to be mindful of all our actions, because our actions do matter.
- Challenges us to experience each of the philosophies and practices ourselves, to trust our own experiences and how practicing yoga makes us feel versus what someone else may be teaching.
- Gives us the 8 Limbs of Yoga, a roadmap and tools to guide us in our journey to live a more soulful and meaningful life.
What are the 8 Limbs of Yoga?
Within the Yoga Sūtra is an 8-limbed path known as the 8 Limbs of Yoga, or Ashtanga Yoga. It is a road map on how to mindfully navigate through your life. The eight components include ethical principles, self-care practices, physical postures, breath work, and meditation practices. Each limb is interconnected with the next and are designed to be practiced in a circular and ongoing manner. Here is a brief overview of the 8 Limbs of Yoga:
Limb 1 is the yamas. The yamas are a set of ethical principles that serve as a guideline on how we treat others and our planet. They emphasize our connection to other beings as an integral part of yoga because everything is interconnected. What we think, feel and do has a direct impact on our world. We are therefore encouraged to be mindful of our actions, because every action we take has an effect.
Limb 2 are the niyamas which are personal practices that teach us to respect ourselves on every level: body, mind and spirit.
Limb 3 is āsana which is the physical practice of yoga.
Limb 4 is prānāyāma, the focus on the breath to create health in the body and peace in the mind.
Limb 5 is pratyāhāra, the withdrawing of the senses, so that when we feel, hear, see, taste, touch and smell, we let go of reacting.
Limb 6 is dhāranā and teaches us about focused concentration.
Limb 7 is dhyāna, which is deep meditation.
Limb 8 is samādhi, which is the culmination of practicing all the other limbs of yoga which brings you to an understanding of truly knowing and feeling that everything is interconnected.
To learn more about the 8 Limbs of Yoga and get ideas on how to practice them, I created a 30-card deck of yoga practice cards based on these teachings.
How can someone beginning on their yoga journey implement the 8 Limbs of Yoga?
What I really love about these teachings is that they offer ways for us to improve our lives on every level — body, mind and spirit — which is something most of us want to do whether we practice yoga or not.
Just like trying to perfect a yoga pose on your mat, we are also striving to perfect how we show up in the world. For example, the 1st limb of yoga, the yamas, are ethical principles that guide how we treat others and our planet. The first teaching within the yamas is ahimsā, which means non-harming. We are asked to cause the least amount of harm as possible to ourselves, to others and our planet.
One way you might practice this is to simply be kind in the way you talk to yourself and avoid the negative self-talk trap. When you catch yourself thinking something negative, flip it to a positive version. When you treat yourself with loving kindness, it’s easier to treat others that way too.
How do the OM Matters yoga cards support individuals in their yoga practice?
These cards take complex teachings and break them down into easy to digest pieces of information so everyone can understand them and incorporate them into their lives. They help beginners understand the whole philosophy of yoga and that it is so much more than just the physical practice.
They are also helpful for experienced yogis, who like me, have a sense that there is more to yoga than just the physical practice and want to learn more, but don’t necessarily want to spend time reading books on the subject or go through yoga teacher training.
I’ve had great feedback from yoga teachers as well, who use the cards in their classes. The 30 cards help them create a theme for their classes and provide an easy way for them to teach their students more about the 8-limbed path.
To use the 30-card deck of the 8 Limbs of Yoga Practice Cards, I recommend that they start with the first card and practice its teaching for a day or even for a week. Then move onto the next card until they have finished all 30 cards. This allows the reader to get an overall understanding on how the 8 Limbs are interconnected.
After that, I would encourage the reader to pick a card that speaks to them. This will change at different times in their lives. I would also encourage keeping a journal during this process so you can reflect on your experiences.
How can yoga help us practice self-care during this time? What practices we can start implementing today to restore balance?
Because of COVID-19, we are limited in what we can actually do! Fortunately, most mindfulness practices are very simple and can easily be done alone and at home.
My top 3 recommendations are:
1) Meditate every day — Science has proven that meditation calms the mind and the central nervous system which helps relieve most types of stress. This is such a powerful tool and it sure makes me feel better! Here are a few tips to get you started with a basic meditation practice:
- Start slowly – Start with 10 minutes each day, preferably in the morning, when your mind is most clear. Over time, increase your meditation time to 15-30 minutes.
- Get comfortable – Find a quiet place where you won’t be interrupted and sit in a comfortable position. I sit in a chair, with my feet on the ground (flat-footed) and my hinny towards the front of the chair so my pelvis can tilt slightly forward. This allows the spine to elongate and protects your lower back. Some people like to sit cross-legged, but my feet fall asleep when I do that!
- Set a timer – Set your timer for 10 minutes and commit to meditating for that time. Force yourself to stay put. Even if you can’t sit still, stay put! You are creating a new habit, so it may take a few tries before you are able to settle down. Also, I use a meditation app, Insight Timer, for my timer because it has pretty bells and chimes and tracks my progress.
- Just breathe – Softly close your eyes and just breathe. Direct your focus to your breath and feel the sensations of inhaling and exhaling. Begin to count silently to 4 on your inhale and then count silently to 4 on your exhale. The goal is to make the inhale and exhale take an equal amount of time. Repeat this counting throughout the meditation.
- Be patient – Your mind will wander and this is okay — that’s what they do. So, don’t get frustrated or think you can’t do it. Just gently redirect your attention back to your breath and continue with your practice.
You can simply start with the practice above, which I recommend. If you are interested in trying some other meditation techniques, here’s a list of 3 different meditation techniques to try. I will play with one for a couple of days then switch to another technique. What these methods have in common is that they give your mind a little task to do. It keeps your mind busy, which tends to help it from wandering to other thoughts.
Also, guided meditations are a wonderful way to get started with a meditation practice. Again, I use the Insight Timer App. It has a ton of free guided meditations and I also use it to time my meditation.
2) Movement — Doing some form of exercise 3-5 times a week is not only key to your physical health, but it is also essential for your mind. My routine is a little different in today’s environment: I’m doing online yoga classes a couple of times a week and walking 4+ miles every day — of course, I keep 6+ feet away from anyone I come across!
3) Focus on the Good — How can you be content with what is happening in my life right now? One of the practices in the second limb of yoga, the niyamas, is santosha, which is contentment. A way to promote the feeling of contentment is through gratitude. Make a list of 3-5 things that you are grateful for right now. For example, for me the benefits from the stay-at-home orders has been quality time with family, more time for self-care practices, and more time to be creative in growing my business. Challenge yourself to make a gratitude list every morning.
Editor’s note: Tambra has an insightful blog post, How Can We Rise Up in a Time of Crisis? that walks us through how we can turn to yoga, specifically through the 8 Limbs of Yoga, for self-care and finding calm during this tumultuous time.
To discover more about the 8 Limbs of Yoga, check out OM-Matters.com, which has an overview of the practice and many blog posts about specific ways to practice them.
All of Tambra’s mindfully made yoga products can be found on OM Matters’ website as well. (By the way, if you sign up for the OM Matters newsletter, you’ll receive 10% of your first order.)
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