Thursday, March 29, 2012

Pearls and Reflections

I am here looking at mounds of notes from two weekends with Manorama this last month. She joined us in Tucson for the program there and then again, just recently here in San Marcos. This last time was the sixth time I have studied with her and the  fourth time I have taken the Introductory Sanskrit course and I have to say every time the course  is both the same and wonderfully different.  The teachings are so multi-faced and multi-dimensional that even the same stories grow in their scope and move into new places within my understanding every time.

There are so many things I love about studying with Manorama but one of my favorite things about being around her is that a very lovely part of myself "stands up" when I am in her presence. Many of you have heard me mention that idea that "man is legion" which comes from The Fourth Way School founded by Russian mystic, G. Gurjieff He talks about how there are multiple "I's" that live inside us. This can explain why it is so easy to make resolutions and so hard to keep them. Many times, the "I" that makes the resolution is not the same "I" that has to carry it out. Most of us have an "I" that wants to practice and an "I " that wants to stay asleep in some way.  Part of The Fourth Way had to do with unifying those aspects of self so that all of us was in on the game of awakening.

Anyway, one of the reasons that I think its great to hang out with people who are strong practitioners and who have experienced deeper aspects of consciousness and who are seated in unitive awareness is that they can help my practice/sadhana "I" come forward. It's really an entrainment process and over the years, I have had the great fortune to be around several of those people which has given me a certain radar and ability to recognize opportunity for such darshan. It is not about personality worship, bizarre childish transference or anything outer at all.  The radar I am talking about is grounded in a felt sense from within me about who I become in certain people's presence and in certain heightened circumstances around them. The radar comes from observing my own state of consciousness and recognizing what and who effects it and how.

After years around Lee, it became really obvious who he was- not because his outer form and behavior was always so guru-like. Honestly, it wasn't like that at all. He liked to go to the movies, he sang in a blues band, he had a very scatalogical  sense of humor (think Mike Myers and Eddie Izzard) and his humanness was there in full sight for all to see. It was not him in his humanness that was the entraining factor.  He had all kinds of human preferences- like he liked ice cream super hard and cold. He like his tea boiling hot. And so on. None of that is what I am talking about- all that is personality preference.  (And sure, people got confused and made that stuff into myth and religion around him which is a huge part of the guru-trap, but I digress. That is a post for another time, I suppose.)

But in the same way that the air at the ocean has a certain charge, the air around people of practice and attainment (for lack of a better word because the attainment is not a static thing but is an ongoing process, evolution and so forth because the Force with which we are aligning is not a fixed thing. But I digress. Another post for another day.) has a certain charge or a certain energetic quality and therefore provides a certain kind of access to the Field of Energy in which they reside. And so to me, having a radar for this kind of thing is important and seeing it as a function of Consciousness, not of personality is also key. Once again we circle around to discernment, I suppose. (Another post for another day. Wow, they are piling up!)

Anyway, I like being around Manorama because my sadhana/practice "I" comes very far forward and my fear-based "I" is pacified. It's a lovely state with which to entrain and a very generous gift Manorama makes available to her students. Of course, it may be a bit different for different people  in terms of what comes forward from within them when they are around her or other teachers.

It was different for different people with Lee, too. In a way, he reflected things back so effectively that it wasn't always the "love bhav" that came forward. Being around clear channels means that sometimes our  anger is reflected, our despair and so forth. It's a lot like meditation- So often  someone starts meditation and claims, "That meditation made me angry" when in fact, the meditation allowed just enough quiet and just enough space free of distraction  that the practitioner could see they have been angry all along.

So anyway, like that.

My notes are not exactly organized but I thought I might dive into them and post a few of her "pearls of wisdom." Each one of these "pearls" needs a thorough exploration and could be explored in great depth and perhaps as the months go on I will continue with some of that integrative work.  At any rate, here is a download.

From Tucson:

Sanskrit is the language of yoga. It is the language of language. It should increase your awareness of language. What is not a language?

Sanskrit is the meeting point between the scholarly and the juicy.

Sanskrit The verbal root "kr"-- to do or to make is joined with the intensifying prefix "sam" which means whole perfect, total, nothing missing.

You have to study the translation as much as you study the subject.

You are learning the thing and how to learn the thing.

Take a little of your prana and put it on the subject of knowing yourself.

This is not gymnastics. Do not try to "stick the landing."

Instead, figure out how to thread it (the teachings). You will thread it from where you are standing and yoga teaches you not to have a partial perspective.

Guru- in its highest sense, the guru is a force of energy that moves into your life that elevates you beyond what you are not. In India, the term is prevalent and can mean "someone who helps you understanding something."

gu- darkness, ignorance (on any subject)
ru- the remover, the ascension, that which elevates

The guru is that which helps you elevate beyond darkness and ignorance. Ultimately it means "Light" for how can the darkness ever bring suit when the Light is there?

Letters  (in Sanskrit) are like people. And just like people:
they need space,
they don't always get along,
they are indifferent
and they are able to blend.

Anytime we can be disunited. Yoga is about the union of myself with my Self.

Sanskrit language is a reflection of this union. Everything in the manifest world is the vibration of atoms and molecules. To come into the language of Sanskrit is to come into a language that reflects Reality.

No language is as successful at conveying Rock n'Roll as English. And there is no language as successful at conveying the unitive meditative reality as Sanskrit.

The sounds change the way we relate to ourselves at the most essential level.

Feeling IS the transformation. The feeling is the entry point.

I love you= I love who I am when I am with you. I love who I become in your presence.

Yoga is trying to put us into the vast Field within us.

asana-- as= sit; to be established in. What are you standing in?

We hang out with teachers to borrow their glasses. We entrain in that way.


All right- so that was like from the first hour or so!  Seriously, talk about drinking from a fire hydrant. Anyway, more pearls soon.


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Shravana School of Yoga: Update on Progress

I posted this morning on the Shravana School of Yoga site instead of here. So click on the link provided  to get that post!

 Have a great day- I am working my way through emails and business stuff before I head out to do the Advanced Practice at PURE Bikram. Its been a while since I have been in town so I am pretty sure its going to kick my ass a bit. Oh well, that's what I love about it, truth be told.

Once I get through some email I am really looking forward to sharing some of my notes from the two weekends with Manorama.

More soon.

Amazon Pricing - How to Swim With Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive Part 2

Welcome to part 2 of this series. This post will give you some ideas on pricing an item, both Merchant Filled and FBA for which there are no other offers. This is my strategy, ask other sellers you will get other answers. These are just some guidelines I give my clients.

If the item is being sold merchant filled, and there are no FBA sellers and Amazon does not have it, add the price of the item, the shipping cost, and $2. This is a starting point. If the item sells quickly, you can raise your price. If this is a repeatable item that you can source more of, you can continue to raise your price to find the threshold of what a customer will pay. If the amount is near $25, I always try the $25 price to make the item available to Super Saver Shipper customers. Even if the merchant filled + shipping + $2 price is around $20, I will try $25 to see what happens. You can always reduce the price later if the item isn't moving.

If the item is listed on Amazon, but shows the red message, "Currently unavailable, sign up to be notified when this item becomes available," this is a good sign!

This means that the item has sold on Amazon but is now out of stock. These items are usually hard to find, perhaps discontinued, and buyers really have signed up to be notified when the item is available (when you list it MF or it hits the FBA center), and you can set the price. In this case, you want to go to Google and search for the product to see what it sells for on other sites. (You may find some more to buy this way, too!) Or, view eBay completed listings to check for recent sales. Look closely at the Google results. You may find posts on message boards where people are discussing the product, how it is hard to find, and what they will pay. For example, on the product above, Tone's Steak Dust, I found this article posted recently:


The article does not mention how much the item cost on Amazon, but you certainly get the idea that consumers in search of this item are being directed to Amazon to find it. Rule of thumb is to price your item 3 times your cost, but in this situation with an unavailable item, you will want to go much higher. If the item doesn't sell within a reasonable amount of time (I allow 2 months), you can lower the price. If the item sells quickly, you can raise the price to find the threshold of what the customer will pay.

It is very important here to take your own preferences, opinions, buying habits, and budget out of the equation when pricing for Amazon. You must never think, "Nobody would pay that." How do you know what everybody would do? Just because YOU wouldn't pay that price, does not mean NOBODY will. Give it a chance, you will be surprised or even shocked at what consumers will pay for their favorite product. Cost is relative. Do people like Donald Trump, Bil Gates, Oprah, or Ted Turner really care what they pay for consumer products? You may not be one of them, but the world is full of rich people who don't know or care what they spend to buy their favorite products. Do you really see Martha Stewart, Julia Roberts, or Paula Deen walking around Walmart finding the best buy on everything they need?

We are often referred to as "price gougers" because are able to sell our products far above the MSRP. However, an item is worth what someone will pay for it. Unless the item is a life-saving medicine, medical device, or needed for human survival, I don't have regrets for selling items at what the market will bear. That is what this business is all about.

Stay tuned for the next installment about why I think sales rank really isn't all that important anymore.

Resources:Link
Part 1 of this series

Join my Online Seller's Facebook Group

Learn more about how personal coaching can improve your online business

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

COME JOIN US


For the Love of Practice
An Intermediate/Advanced Intensive
with Christina Sell and Noah Maze
May 10-13, 2012
San Marcos, TX


Christina and Noah

Please join Christina Sell and Noah Maze for a 4-day asana intensive designed to help experienced students connect to the love of practice in an intimate and personal setting.  Each day begins with puja, pranayama and meditation. The morning asana sessions explore strong, dynamic postures and the afternoon sessions focus on cooling, more contemplative work. During the breaks students can enjoy relaxing on the property, exploring the charming town of San Marcos, TX or playing in the San Marcos river nearby. 

 The intensive is aimed at helping participants deepen their practice, expand their capacity and strengthen their connection to what lives at the foundation of their relationship to yoga. 

This intensive is not appropriate for people recovering from injury or illness. Students should be able to push up to urdhva danurasana with straight arms unassisted, kick to the wall for handstand unassisted, practice a 5-minute headstand and a 5-minute shoulder stand. Also important is the ability to be of good cheer in the face of challenge and the willingness to respect and honor one's limits. A sense of humor is also quite useful.

Daily Schedule (all days but Sunday*)
8:45-9:30 Puja, Pranayama and Meditation
10:00-1:00 Asana 
1:00-3:00 break
3:00-5:00 Asana 
* Sunday will end at 2:00, after asana practice and a closing circle.

Space is limited to 33 students.

Please reserve your space soon by registering atwww.schoolofyogasanmarcos.com. Look under events!

Tuition: $450

School of Yoga San Marcos
400 Centre Street
San Marcos, TX 78745

School of Yoga San Marcos is located in San Marcos, TX. San Marcos is a small town  located approximately 35 minutes south of Austin, TX and 45 minutes north of San Antonio, TX. Hotels in town are affordable and there is a limited amount of local housing available in Austin, TX on a first come-first serve basis. Out of town guests will need a car. We have kitchen facilities onsite for heating simple lunches and students are encouraged to bring their lunch and eat on the premises. Tea and coffee are provided  onsite as well.

Christina Sell and Noah Maze are known internationally for their passion for practice, their dedication to community, their  ongoing studentship and for  offering  workshops and  trainings of the highest integrity and professionalism. They  met in 2000 while studying  Anusara Yoga under the guidance of John Friend. After  serving the Anusara  Yoga community as certified teachers and leaders for many years,  they began teaching together in 2007.  Christina and Noah, along with their friend Darren Rhodes, developed the Shravana School of Yoga in 2012 as a way to freely and creatively offer their insight, understanding and expertise to a new generation of teachers and practitioners.  For more information about Noah visit him online at www.noahmazeyoga.com. For more information about Christina Sell, visit her online at www.christinasell.com

Monday, March 26, 2012

Readings from the Intensive

I read these passages before puja and pranayama on Day 3, Day 4, and Day 5 of our intensive. I thought I'd pass them along as they proved quite meaningful for us. Enjoy. 

I will write  more soon, because really, there is so much more to write about. It was a major week that was also incredibly sane, grounded, joyful and easeful.  I am inspired and restored from a week of no-nonsense, back-to-the basics-bad-ass-asana, wonderful company, deep conversation, authentic sharing, joyful laughter and a whopping dose of the Teaching. Again, more soon.

***

"We chant so that at the very beginning that feeling of sanctification comes from inside, with the feeling of surrendering oneself, because nothing can be learned in this world unless you have the humility to learn. So the moment you think of the Lord at the beginning of doing a practice, you know you are very small in front of that greatest soul. Once that is understood then the other problems which always arise while practicing, mainly concerned with the ego, will be affected. You know that you are "coming down" to learn something. And you can't learn anything unless you come down; if you think you are on top and you know everything, then you are not a learner at all. In that sense, the chanting helps."
-Geeta Iyengar

***


"Whatever you do, whatever you eat, 
whatever you offer, whatever you give, 
whatever austerities you perform, Arjuna, 
Do that as an offering to Me.
-Bhagavad Gita, verse 9:27

***

In A Tree House

Light 
Will someday split you open
Even if your life is now a cage,

For a divine see, the crown of destiny,
Is hidden and sown on an ancient fertile plain 
You hold the title to.

Love will surely bust you wide open
Into an unfettered, blooming new galaxy

Even if your mind is now
A spoiled mule.

A life-giving radiance will come,
The Friend's gratuity will come-

O look again within yourself,
For I know you were once the elegant host
To all the marvels in creation.

From a sacred crevice in your body
A bow rises each night
And shoots your soul into God.

Behold the Beautiful Drunk Singing One
From the lunar vantage point of love.

He is conducting the affairs 
Of the whole universe

While throwing wild parties
In a tree house- on a limb
In your heart.



-Hafiz





eBay Seller Success Story - Megaman


I recently received this eBay seller success story that I would like to share with you:

I have a full-time job and do some picking at garage sales and thrift stores in my free time, mostly as a hobby. Using advice from Suzanne the eBay Selling Coach, I've been able to spot lots of great bargains and maximize my listings. I usually just make a few bucks here and there reselling books, toys, electronics, and art supplies, but I recently stumbled into a big score.


At a local Bay Area, California thrift store I was able to purchase a group of Nintendo GameBoy game cartridges with their original boxes and manuals. I got 6 games for $18 (averaging $3 each). With a little research, I realized that one of them was quite rare and had the potential to auction for $40 or $50 dollars. Boy, was I pleasantly thrilled when the bidding just kept going up beyond my expectations. In the final seconds of the 7-day auction, the bidding topped out a just over $280! Even if I take a total loss on the other games I originally purchased in the group, I made over $260 profit (not including shipping costs and eBay/Paypal fees). Definitely a record for me.


I'm learning that there are a lot of rare video game cartridges and systems out there that collectors will pay top dollar for, particularly if they have their original packaging. Many game companies also made demo and sample games that were never released to the public and can sell for thousands of dollars. Even more common games from older systems can fetch a nice profit when bought in bulk and sold individually.





Keep up the good work,

Peter Guest
The Part Time Picker


Do you have a great sale or an interesting eBay item to share? Send your find to eBaycoach@yahoo.com for consideration.


Related posts:


eBay Business Strategies � 9 Tips for eBay Success


What to Sell on eBay � Burt�s Bees Brand


What Should I Sell on Amazon, and Where Do I Find It?


Saturday, March 24, 2012

Spring Intensive Day 3

Well, we had a really wonderful- and long day yesterday. We began at 9am with puja and pranayama and Manorama was here for satsang last night so she didn't finish till after 9:30pm. So wow.

We spend the morning playing in deep back bends- lots of work on bhekasana, supta bhekasana and then urdhva danurasana, drop backs, standing up and even viparita chakrasana. We had all the toys out- the ramp, what back bender (sometimes known as "the whale") and it was a good, solid 3 1/2 hour practice. In the midst of the morning I kind of shared some thoughts on community which have been on my mind a lot lately. Interestingly enough, later that evening Manorama touched on a similar theme.

The thing on my mind is about opinions and how in community, we need to strengthen a muscle around the fact that people have different views and opinions. It does not have to be some big deal if someone in the room loves one thing and someone in the room sees and experiences it differently and even voices their dislike. (Of course, lets keep in mind there are appropriate boundaries, rules of engagement and so forth that I am assuming are in place here. And, if I disagree with just about everything that is happening in a certain group, I might just chose to remove myself from the group rather than be involved, constantly expressing my disagreement. So, assuming all that, I am talking about groups that form with a general agreement about protocol, ideals and values and yet also need a functional way to manage and relate to disagreement and difference. To me, community  is not about sharing the same thoughts and ideas as much as it is about sharing similar values about how to be in relationship together. For instance, if we truly value freedom, then we need to create a circumstance where we are free to agree and free to disagree.

My opinion and experience is that we- as a yoga community-  have a situation on our hand these days where the "political correct" expectation that no one ever getting upset and offended has become a bit extreme.  Of course, the flip side is also true where the "freedom of expression" is often unbridaled and undisciplined and through the mediums of social media, the inner life runs  the risk of becoming a  bit exploited. So, obviously, as always, we can fall off either side of the razor's edge of practice and the only answer to this dilemma is discernment and the only way to cultivate discernment  is to pay close attention to the feedback life is giving us interiorly and exteriorly.

But my point is that as yogi's, the path is to look at ourselves first when we are offended-- to see what set of beliefs, patterns and thoughts got "activated" and to unravel those knots within ourselves. The path of the"ordinary human" is to ask someone else to change to spare us the discomfort of our "offense." But the problem with that is when you put 30 people in a room together or 50 or 100, etc. you get an exponential number of possible offenses because viewpoints are multiplying and opinions are increasing and so forth. Like I so often say, if we try to remove every possible offensive word from our vocabulary, eventually, we are going to run out of words to use. (I am not talking about worldless, thoughtless reality here. I am talking about being tied up in co-dependent neurosis that has, at its heart, a desire not to cause harm but also contains a seed belief that people are too weak, insecure and damaged to actually manage their discomfort as an adult.)

Manorama touched on this suggesting that one avenue that becomes possible in yoga is that we get established in our Self in such a way that we are rooted in a deep abiding presence of truth that allows us the freedom to extend curiosity  and spaciousness to others. She was clear this is not a rigid stance but is instead a sense of being anchored, established and unshakeable at our core in such a way that we can allow for differences among us. She said that if we do not know who we are, we are much more threatened by the variety of opinions, experiences and viewpoints that will inevitably arise in life. Yoga, she said, is not about getting our preferences met or about having our comfort maintained. It is about getting off that conversation altogether so that we can live in a different state of consciousness than personality-driven desire. (I am paraphrasing here.)


So anyway, we started that convo in the morning with back bends, had a great lunch break, worked on hanumanasana in the afternoon. Kelly cooked up a great vegetarian meal for us all and we shared dinner together before Manorama came for satsang.  We ended the day with what me and Manorama have been affectionately calling "Cake Satsang." She and I  discovered that we both have an affinity for cake and so we all had some vegan chocolate tres leches cake. Yum.

All right- more soon.

A few pics from dinner and the start of the evening program.











Thursday, March 22, 2012

Spring Intensive Day 2

So-- we started the day with a few words about puja and about invocation. By "we" I mean me, I suppose. On one level, I always want to just jump into the practice itself and on another level I also want to give a thorough explanation and context for anything we are doing that has foreign roots, unfamiliar origins and may seems bizarre to the uninitiated or inexperienced. So I gave a brief explanation about the puja we have been using in our School of Yoga Intensives.  

Oh- and while I am thinking about it, School of Yoga has a new name!  It is now officially the Shravana School of Yoga. Shravana is a constellation of stars that are said to be the home of the vedic rishis and The Shrvana School of Yoga is born under this constellation.  

From our jyotish reading with Dr. Katy Poole

The rising sign is Capricorn which is good for building organization and the star is "Shravana," which is the abode of the Vedic rishis and spiritual enlightenment. It is the modern constellation of Aquilla, the Eagle and is embodied in the three syllables of the mantra "A-U-M." It is auspicious for spreading spiritual knowledge, especially through the media. It relies on divine guidance and the channeling of higher wisdom. It is the abode of Lord Vishnu, as the preserving force in the universe -- preserving ancient knowledge, authentic knowledge, integrity, connection to the true source of life, listening deeply, and the bodhi tree of enlightenment.


And from Dr. Douglas Brooks when I asked him to share some wisdom on the topic:

Shravanmeans listening, learning by listening, with the sense that something is true or valuable because it has been heard. 

This specifically refers to study and knowledge that passes through experiences that transmitted orally and heard.  Truth is, I am about to spend a year or more explaining in far more depth how the Indian traditions rely upon listening and oral tradition.  Ancient India had few notions of writing as a means of conveying knowledge.  We have the wonderful documentation from the Selucid historian Megasthenes from the period of Alexander the Great.  He is the first outsider to notice this.  He tells us that Indian folks  pass their most important ideas and values, their sacred lore by listening and hearing rather than writing.  He says they do this with witnesses and in groups to be sure they keep things clear and correct and then he says they are very good with the word, with keeping their word.  We leave in a culture that tells you that if it's not written it's not real.  The ancient Indian world was just the opposite.  There are vast implications to this notion as consider yoga teachings.   First and foremost is that the texts, especially anything written in sutra or other mnemonic form, presupposes a listening tradition, a commentary from the oral tradition.  Without living teachers, without the power of human contact in voice, without the matrika and the word, a text is inert, largely useless, and almost always unintelligible.  




So anyway, I spent a little bit of time explaining the very basic outline of the puja we have been doing which is mostly a prayer that the various aspects of who we are- body, emotion, intellect and spirit manifest divinely at various levels of reality from subtle to gross to transcendental. It's a sweet ceremony we do as we chant an invocation to Ganesh, an invocation to the guru and the Gayatri Mantra.   Other than the mechanics of the puja, I also like to share with people that there is no requirement to join in the ceremony and that I want everyone to also I think it is an important subject to explore how people of various faiths can explore these teachings from their different vantage points and share and learn from each other. For instance,  as a practicing Christian, how does one relate to Spiritual Light and then to traditional sanskrit mantras that invoke its presence? Same question for the  practicing Buddhists, the agnostics, and so on. And really, if we could cultivate the optimal listening for understanding we could probably learn a whole lot from each other.

After the introduction to the ceremony, we jumped into it and then practiced  pranayama, did a brief meditation and then took a short break before diving into asana.  We worked on some jumpings and floating-prep work, some handstands, and then  arm balances like mayurasana,  eka pada koundinyasana and then bakasana and sirsasana 2 and sirsasana 2 to bakasana. We rounded out the morning with some urdhva danurasana counter poses which felt stellar.  We broke for lunch and then came back in the afternoon for a whole lot of work with chairs and sarvangasana to setu bandha sarvangasana and back up to sarvangasana. We ended with some supta padangusthasana work in the variations of that pose which is my new favorite thing to practice and then a long savasana.

All in all,  I enjoyed myself a lot today. I think there is tremendous  healing and reclamation work we can all do by  being together and sharing the teachings and the practice and looking for those reliable doorways inward that yoga provides us if we take them. I am  hoping to strike a balance at this intensive between the solar,  outgoing work and the lunar, more introspective aspect of asana practice so that we are just as adept at journeying inward as we are at expressing ourselves outwardly. I remain a fan of both avenues of exploration and I am very interested in being in community with others who are able to move between these domains both skillfully and responsibly.  Lots to explore on that notion for sure.

Anyway, here are a few pictures from the studio.

At the main puja, Ganesh and his consort in stone...
 Another great Ganesh stone piece in the corner...
 And a picture of my guru, Lee.
All right, onward and bedtime. More soon.

Organizing eBay and Amazon Inventory

Some basic tips for organizing your purchases, receipts, and tracking inventory. This is how I handle inventory, receipts, and record keeping from the time I walk in the door from shopping to when the item sells.



Resources mentioned in the video:

eBay and Amazon Tracking Spreadsheet

Learn to Sell on Amazon (Fulfillment Program)

Online Selling Coach

eBay Seller Success Story - Talbot's Skirt


I have been selling on eBay for several years and started with clothing in the spring of 2011. I was very apprehensive at first, but now have gone crazy with selling clothing. Of course, it was due to some wonderful coaching from Melanie Woods at the Treasure Hunters Cove.


She is always very willing and helpful in advising how to price clothing items for sell on Ebay. I purchased this Talbot's skirt at the local Goodwill for $3.79. It was brand new and the tags were still attached. Sold for $59.99. (Below is a screenshot of the completed listing.)






PS: Thank you for all you do in advising and sharing. I enjoy reading your articles on Ebay and Amazon.


Genia Geddings
Two Ladies and a Dog



Do you have a great sale or an interesting eBay item to share? Send your find to eBaycoach@yahoo.com for consideration.


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eBay Seller Success Story � Tracy Resse New York Dress


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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Spring Intensive Day One

Well, I think this has been one of the most hectic, busiest and, in many ways, stressful months I have had in a long time. Without lots of details on the inner and outer work of all that and all it involved--in a nutshell: I went from Los Angeles for a week of teaching with Noah Maze to Tucson to teach with Darren Rhodes Prescott to visit the ashram to  Abuquerque, NM and I had an amazing weekend of great hospitality in New Mexico last weekend at Bea Doyle's Bhava Yoga Studio where I was warmly welcomed by her very humble, friendly and down-to-earth gang of yogis. I am assuming a lot of that vibe in the studio is due to Bea since she is like that herself- smart, funny, insightful and humble, friendly, down-to-earth and very sincere. I had a great time.

After being gone for over a month, Kelly and I headed home with a car full of art work on consignment from Vigraha, a company some friends ours operate in Prescott. We have always loved their Asian antiquities and their commitment to preserving sacred culture in modern life through the conscious use of ceremonial items and images. Over the years, Kelly and I have assembled a personal collection and when we knew we would begin hosting programs at our property in San Marcos we spoke with them about having some items on consignment. They, being good friends of ours, set us up with a big variety of pieces which we have on display at the School of Yoga San Marcos. I will take some pictures tomorrow and post them but we have paintings and statues and amazing bronzes all up just radiating with great energy. The timing of all of it, while it made for a long drive home from NM instead of a short flight home, still seems like such a great boon for us, since we started our first program today.

Which brings me to a short little update about what was a really awesome day. We have a 28 people here for this program from all over North America. There is so much I could say about it but the main thing I am feeling is really grateful. Last June, me, Darren and Amy Ippoliti ran a week-long Intensive we called The Magnet for Magnificence Intensive. We spent a week talking about how one could increase their magnetism for the desires of the heart so that they might live life in such a way that they basically attracted to themselves  what they most wanted. Not some fluffy kind of New Age workshop, the intensive was deep, rich and full of soul searching for all of us. Shortly thereafter I had my own epiphany about what I wanted for myself.

I knew that I loved teaching yoga and I was so grateful to be working in the way I was but I realized I wanted a slightly different flavor of work for myself. While I love traveling and teaching I knew I didn't want to live my life out of a suitcase forever. Also, I kept seeing that model for my teaching career was dysfunctional for a lot of reasons, incessant travel being only one of them.  While I love teaching big groups, I also saw very clearly that I love teaching in situations where I can really show people pertinent details about the poses and where I can really go into depth about alignment and I was seeing how so many things get lost when classes get too big. I could go on about that and I am not planning to stop traveling but I am weighing its various costs more soberly these days.

Anyway, I realized that what I wanted to do was offer workshops, trainings and seminars in my studio space in San Marcos and provide myself and others who were interested a place to come together and practice yoga, pranayama, meditation, mantra and be in community consciously and intimately without a bunch of fuss, fanfare, pretension and posturing. I wanted a  place for us to be sane, intentional and relaxed while we explored the teachings together. I decided I would take my studio space and the house we own next to it and turn it into a training center. We could create treatment rooms for Kelly to do acupuncture and for a massage therapist to be there doing bodywork, and set up tables for people to hang out, eat and relax and over time make a garden and so on so that the property would be a non-residential retreat center and the way the actual workshop was hosted would be as important as the content that would be offered.

So anyway, this week is something I envisioned almost a year ago and at some point in the morning it just really hit me that "here it was" and "here I am" in the vision I had for myself.  Of course, it wasn't just a vision for me it was a vision for what I wanted for the community of people I am teaching and with whom I am sharing the journey. At the lunch break, after I was done with my practice and eating my veggies and rice,  some people were relaxing on the front porch  and others were coming through the common area and having a cup of tea or coffee, and some folks came inside after having been  to the river,  and I realized that, "Oh my god.. .. they are feeling  what I had dreamed of- that sense of slowing down into The Real, of letting go of outer pressures, of softening into a non-urban rhythm  and in a way, my stressful month melted away as I was filled with a deep gratitude. It was such a great moment for me and it  has been carrying me since.

The cool thing about this week is that there are no hours to collect, no certificate to be had and nothing to gain in any outer way from the intensive. I titled it the Light of the Teachings and the Joy of the Practice and that is what is is about. The simplicity of what we all love- the teachings, the practice and each other. Such a nice return. (Don't get me wrong- there is not a thing wrong with collecting hours and getting a certification and so on. There is a time and a place for that process and on another night I will write about how transformational those outer structures and systems can be.) My point is simply that for this week, we are here for something else. And after, and in the midst of, a very dramatic and complex period of time, it is the best feeling in the world to feel a bit simple again.

All right, enough said on that for tonight. We did some damn fine asana this morning- we got to  eka pada rajakapotasana through some grueling shoulder -opening work  and spent the afternoon in restorative postures, inversions and forward bends. (Oh, and can I just say what  a thrill it was for almost 30 people to each have 3 blankets for shoulder stand?! Oh it is the little things that I so love...)

Oh- and then after the days was done, Kelly and I went kayaking which was so fun, came home and made dinner and then I spent some time outlining my 2013 calendar, which does have some more programs here scheduled as well as some fun trips planned. See, I think the thing is about balance when you get down to it. And, of course, paying attention to when I am feeling happy/satisfied and when I am not. I suppose that is a longer post for another time though.

Anyway, more tomorrow. Stay tuned.


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Amazon Pricing - How to Swim With Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive


I'll be writing a series of posts on this topic, since it is a widely discussed subject on message boards, online selling groups, and from my clients and readers. Here is the first installment.

If you are an eBay seller new to Amazon, or thinking about selling on Amazon, the most crucial point to learn is how to price items for Amazon. eBay and Amazon are very different in this respect. The bottom line is this:

YOU DO NOT HAVE TO BE THE LOWEST PRICED SELLER ON AMAZON TO CONSISTENTLY MAKE SALES.

Newer Amazon sellers are often frustrated with competitors who undercut prices. You are wasting your time if you are going to let the competition frustrate you this way. Competition is a part of life, get used to it. You absolutely cannot control what other sellers do, you can only control what you do. Energy spent worrying about this is wasted energy - you are much better off spending your time and energy finding items to sell or working on your online business, rather than worrying about what other sellers are doing. Worry is nothing but wasted time and energy.Lately, I see so many people geting frustrated over this issue - it is like watching a dog chase its tail - spinning at breakneck speed and wasting valuable time and energy on a problem, not a solution.

I receive many emails each week with questions related to understanding why another seller would drop his prices below a certain point, or at all. Perhaps a product has been selling well for you, and a competitor comes in with a significantly lower price, and you simply cannot understand why that seller would do such a thing! Why would someone charge $10 less for an item when yours has been selling consistently at the higher price? The answer: You are never going to know - don't drive yourself crazy obsessing about it. Rather than spending time trying to figure out why, or becoming angry or upset, accept that competition is part of this business and you have to learn to deal with it. Part 2 of this series will focus on creating strategies where competition is minimal or doesn't exist at all.

Here are a few scenarios that I have personally seen with clients or readers that contribute to the highly frustrating "undercutting game" on both Amazon and eBay.

1. Ignorance. Another seller has no way of knowing that your widget has been selling at $39.95. They may think, "Oh, that is ridiculous, no one is going to pay that." Because Amazon does not provide data on historical sales, they can't see that you have indeed been selling the widget for $39.95 on a regular basis. You can't win here. There is no way to show the competitor that the widget will sell at $39.95. They can't get out of their own head and believe that you would be selling the widget at your price! You certainly can't contact him and tell him - that would violate collusion (price fixing) laws. You just have to wait for him to run out of stock so that you will get the sales occasionally, or eventually stop selling the item and move on.

2. The competitor's desired margin. Perhaps your competitor is happy making a $5 profit on an item, yet your price reflects an $8 profit. Even if you both bought the item at the same price, and the competitor is happy with a smaller margin, you can't win this one.

3. Competitor does not understand the Buy Box. This is a concept foreign to eBay sellers and buyers. Learn more about the Buy Box here - and if you are selling on Amazon, "learn it, know it, live it!"

4. Competitor does not understand the Amazon Prime Customer or Super Saver Shipper customers. Learn more about Prime Customers here. The best way to understand the Prime Customer is to become one. Walk a mile in your customers' shoes to understand their world. This strategy often backfires when a competitor prices at $24.50, $24.99 - when you can price at $25 and get the Super Saver Shipper sale.

5. Product may be approaching its expiration date and competitor is trying to liquidate. I've been in this situation myself. I may have bought too many of an item when it was very profitable to sell, the market became flooded with too many sellers offering that product, prices dropped, my product did not sell at the same velocity as it did at the original higher price, the expiration date approached, I had to cut my price to liquidate and sell out before the product expired and was no longer sellable. Be careful with quantities of products with expiration dates! Slow and steady wins the race.

6. Competitor's purchase price of inventory. I hear this one almost daily, "How can my competitor be making a profit at this price when I know this item only costs $X?" Never, never, assume anything about the competition. Once you get into this business, you will be shocked to know how much you really don't know. How do you know your competitor is not a wholesaler getting his products at 1/3 of YOUR cost? Many large companies and businesses use Amazon and eBay for customer harvesting - they sell products at break even or a loss to get the customer so that they can then direct the customer to their website for future purchases. (Ever bought anything off Amazon that comes in a package with a website address on it?) You cannot assume your competitors are even on eBay or Amazon to make a profit. They may be there for other reasons. I have coached these types of clients. They are more than happy to sell a product at a $10 loss to gain a customer who will spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars with them over the life of their relationship. Never, never assume your competitors (or customers) are like you. Your competitors may be looking at the power of eBay and Amazon to connect them with future customers, not at the profit on each individual sale. Another issue here is the flood of extreme couponers who have discovered that they can sell part of their stockpiles online. These folks have basements, garages, or maybe storage units full of products that they may have received free so they don't really care about margins - they just need cash. Extreme couponers also have the knowledge, experience, networks, and skills to get huge amounts of products for free and they are applying this knowledge to sourcing for products to sell online. Your competitors may be in this game for reasons very different from yours.

7. (The most dangerous situation of all!) Competitor does not keep records and does not even know if he is making a profit. I have coached so many people who don't do this - and when I make them sit down and look at the numbers, record their inventory purchases, sales, fees, and expenses, they are shocked that they are working for less than minimum wage. They feel like because they are busy and receiving deposits (from AZ or from eBay to PayPal), or that they have big payouts hitting their accounts, that they are making money. When we start breaking down what they are actually doing, they can then see they are like a mouse on a wheel - working so hard every day and not really getting anywhere. These folks would never consider working for minimum wage - yet that's exactly what they are doing as their own boss! You are competing against these people - sellers who don't know or care if they are making a profit. This situation makes it extremely difficult to succeed in this business if online selling is your sole source of income. (If you are not keeping accurate records, now is the time to start. Check out this easy eBay and Amazon tracking spreadsheet here. )

8. Your guess is as good as mine! I'm saying this tongue in cheek here because human behavior is a mystery - you will never know all the reasons why a person behaves in a certain way. I've talked to all kinds of people about issues affecting their online business and you would be amazed at what drives a seller to lower her prices. Just keep in mind that you can't control what others do, only what you do. The next part of this series will focus on selling strategies for stepping away from the "herd mentality" of online selling - how to find success working outside of the box and being unique.

(If you found this article helpful, feel free to post the link on your discussion groups, forums, Facebook, Twitter. Knowledge is power!)

Resources:

Join my Online Seller's Facebook Group

Learn to Sell on Amazon

Information on Personal Coaching

Monday, March 19, 2012

Friday, March 16, 2012

Christina Sell on the Guru Function (Part I for Elephant Yoga)

Here is a link to an interview with the with Emily Perry for Elephant Journal.  The first question she asked me was on The Guru. Good times.

Enjoy!

eBay Offers Discount on Final Value Fee



If you are a top-rated seller, eBay is offering discounts on the Final Value Fee for items sold during a limited time. To qualify, the item must be listed between now and May 31, 2012. The return policy must be 14-days or more with a money back option and the processing time must be one day. If your listings qualify, you could receive 5% of the final value fee.

This discount will be applied in addition to any top-seller discounts you may already receive. The offer applies to fixed price and auction style listings and covers listings on the US site, the Canadian site, and eBay Motors. To get all of the details of this promotion, click here.

Related posts:

Free Promotion for your eBay Products

Why All eBay Sellers Should Have a Fair Return Policy

Taking Your Business Into 2012


Sunday, March 11, 2012

School of Yoga Overview


So this letter is going up soon on my website under "Welcome". A bunch of people have been asking about School of Yoga so this is a bit of an overview. Thought I would share it here as well since  so many folks do not visit my web page regularly.

Welcome to Christina Sell Yoga!
2012 has been off to a wild start, it seems. On January 3, we celebrated the birth of School of Yoga and we just recently welcomed Noah Maze to the faculty as a founding member. I couldn't be more excited about creating a school for yoga studies with two of my best friends and primary teaching partners. With so many current changes afoot in the yoga community right now many folks are asking me about School of Yoga and how to get involved. I think the most important thing to know is that we are creating a school with a teaching faculty, not a system of yoga that will certify teachers in a style or a defined  brand of yoga. Over time we plan to coordinate and collaborate with other teachers and programs, particularly with those teachers with whom we already have established relationships and with whom we feel a particular resonance.
Our initial emphasis as a hatha yoga school is in exploring the alchemy of form, flow, focus and function. Hatha Yoga in the  School of Yoga is an integrated philosophy that addresses the body, emotions, intellect and spirit through precise asana, traditional mantras,  pranayama practice, meditation techniques and contemplation. Our programs teach practical ways to access these different aspects of the self and to bring them to a dynamic, balanced expression through ongoing daily practice.
Darren, Noah and I will each continue to offer programs individually and we will offer workshops and trainings with the three of us on a limited basis. We have been talking a lot about how to maximize the benefits of community without creating a structure that is elitist, exclusive, limiting or binding. We are examining issues of sustainability, scalability, and the very timely conversation of managing power, authority and finances responsibly and accountably. We continue to be committed to offering high quality programs and to functioning as a resource for teachers who want to deepen their practice, teach from their authentic experience and who want a viable connection to a larger  community that does not minimize the importance of the community that is found in the intimacy of day-to-day experiences through the personal, immediate encounters we have with one another on and off the mat.
I will be teaching more from my school in San Marcos (www.schoolofyogasanmarcos.com) and Noah has plans to ground more of his teaching work in Southern California. Darren will continue to focus his attention on making Yoga Oasis a hub of excellent teaching and practice in Tucson, Arizona. We will continue to travel where we are invited to share the teachings and the practices of yoga with people who feel an affinity with our direction. To be clear, graduates from our programs will be encouraged to create unique program offerings of their own rather than teach �School of Yoga� programs.  In this way we hope to encourage authenticity, independence, resilience and  autonomy in our graduates. Over time, our plan is to create continuing education programs, alumni programs and advanced trainings so that the School of Yoga serves as resource for both new and experienced teachers.
For more information about our work with School of Yoga please visit our web page www.schoolofyoga.com . For more information about Noah Maze, please visit www.noahmazeyoga.com and for information about Darren and his work, please visit www.yogaoasis.com

Friday, March 9, 2012

Warning for Sellers Buying Lego Sets for Resale



A member of my Facebook group recently posted this story:


I went to Wal-Mart this morning to get a birthday present for my son and on my way out stopped to check the clearance aisle. I was looking through the toys when a woman walked up and started opening a box of the Lego 2011 advent calendar and removed the minifigs and put them in her box. At first I thought the box in her cart must have been missing the minifigs until I saw her do it to another box. I couldn't believe it! I was so stunned I just stood there looking at her; she just looked at me and walked away. I brought the open boxes to an employee and told them what happened and they said they weren't surprised. She said a man had just opened up a razor box and took out the refills right in front of her. (Reprinted with permission from original poster.)


Always carefully inspect these types of items even when purchasing them brand new at retail stores. You never know when this situation may have occurred, and if you are not paying attention and verifying the contents of a box, you may end up receiving negative feedback from a customer on eBay or Amazon.

You can read the entire thread here.


Related Posts:


Make Money Selling Used Lego Minifigs on eBay


Legos and Minifigs are Hot Sellers


Amazon FBA Scouting Tips - Things I've Learned Along the Way

Thursday, March 8, 2012

How to Use Pinterest to Market Your Business



By now, I am sure you have heard about the news social media tool known as Pinterest. Pinterest is a way to bookmark (or pin) various items you like around the net. The pins are arranged in what is called a pinboard which is basically a webpage that shows the images of the items you like. It is something like a virtual vision board. Once pinned, your Facebook friends and people you may not even know will be able to view your pinboards and see what it is you like.

Did you know you can use this new tool to promote your business? CopyBlogger recently posted many ways to use Pinterest to market your business. Here are a few ways that will help you get the word out about your eBay or Amazon business:

� Add your business URL to your profile when you create your Pinterest account.

� Feature your business name on your profile. You may even want to use your business name as your username.

� Pin lots of stuff. Do this a few at a time on a regular basis instead of pinning lots of items at one time.

� Use lots of images on your blog so you have items to pin to link to your posts.

� Pin other Pinterest users by using �@username� (example: @ebaycoach) in your descriptions.

� Like other people�s pins.

� Create seasonal boards that relate to your business or brand.

� Add the �Follow Me On Pinterest� button to your website.


These are just a few of the ideas Copyblogger has shared. To view the entire article, click here.

You can find me on Pinterest here! I'd love to see what you have been up to.

Related posts:

Free Marketing: 101 Low and No Cost Ways to Grow Your Business

Free Promotion of Your eBay Products

eBay Marketing Strategy - Multiple Listings for the Same Item



Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The 2012 Honda Civic will be the first car to get the Earth Dreams 1.6 Liter i-DTEC turbo diesel engine

Again, not for us in North America....



Honda has a top priority Earth Dreams project that it has had running at its Japan research and development center for a while now. The project we�re talking about involves the development of a range of new generation turbodiesel engines that the Japanese automaker will use in its future products, as it seeks to improve market share in times when diesel engines cars are become more and more preferred by car buyers across the world for their high fuel economy and low CO2 emissions.


The first engine that Honda has spawned out of its Earth Dreams turbodiesel engine project will power the upcoming 2012 Honda Civic Sedan. This turbo diesel engine displaces 1.6 liters and comes in an inline four cylinder layout. The 1.6 Liter i-DTEC engine pumps out a peak power of 120 Bhp generated at a low 4,000 rpm while the peak torque of 300 Nm generated at 2,000 rpm talks the loudest, with it being a class leading figure considering the i-DTEC engine�s displacement.


This apart, the other big story surrounding the 1.6 Liter i-DTEC turbo diesel engine is the low carbon dioxide emission level, which at 95 grams/Km is outstanding. Also, the Honda i-DTEC engine is said to be the world�s lightest aluminium open deck 1.6-liter diesel engine due to the use of strong yet light weight materials in its construction. The 1.6 Liter i-DTEC engine will be manufactured at Honda�s UK plant at the end of 2012.


In due course of time, expect this very engine to arrive into India as Honda desperately needs a diesel engine in its portfolio to survive and thrive in the Indian car market, which has migrated to the more fuel efficient diesel engined cars due to the prices of the non-subsidized petrol rising even as diesel remains the overwhelmingly cheaper alternative due to the Indian government subsidizing it.


Source;