As my Yoga asana practice has moved away from thinking of it as an exercise, I’ve been trying to find a good answer for what value asana practice has.
There are a few good answers for that. My traditional answer had always been that it helps prepare the body to sit in stillness for meditation. I still believe this, even though I have long since given up the goal of trying to sit in lotus. I do think being able to be comfortable in a sitting pose aids my concentration meditation.
Another good answer is that it helps find and adjust the physical imbalances in the body. This is yoga as therapy. I am still learning about this process, and how yoga asana can do this.
For me, then, the most relevant and meaningful answer is that yoga asana acts as a nadi shuddhi, an opening, purifying (or cleansing) of the life force channels and the nervous system. Thus, it was with no surprise, that I found research confirming that a “way to combat inflammation is by engaging the vagus nerve and improving “vagal tone.” This can be achieved through daily habits such as yoga and meditation”
Despite the impending snowpocalypse, yoga class will go on as scheduled this evening. Please use your best judgment and stay home if that feels safer! Be well,
Dear Friends,It’s been over two years since you all so generously donated to my campaign to get certified to teach yoga. Well, I thought you might like an update on what I’ve been doing with your money. Even since before my training was completed, I’ve been teaching weekly classes at the First Congregational Church of Essex Junction. These classes (approximately 183 at last count) are offered free to anyone who would like to attend (donations are accepted, but go directly to the church). Over that time, I’ve had approximately 40 different people take the class, with a core returning group of about ten students, many of whom had never been to a yoga class before! In addition to being able to offer classes to this group, I’ve also been able to raise about $2000 in donations from my students, all of which supports the operations of the church.
This last summer, I was invited by the local juvenile detention center to teach yoga to the kids in residence. I’ve been volunteering at classes there once a week since mid-summer. It has been a very challenging learning experience for me; teaching yoga in that context has a very different feeling to it, one that I had to learn to adapt to, but it didn’t take me too long to find my way. That challenge helped me to think more about what yoga is, and why it is important for me. In addition to the benefits of some system-based movement, I feel that these kids are getting a benefit just from having some space during their day where they have lots of choice, and where they can feel my respect and compassion for them. Classes aren’t always easy (for me), but they are always rewarding. In case you’re interested, here’s a recent news piece about the place and the struggles it is having. You can see me (and my dry cracked foot) just before the four minute mark.
I’ve also begun teaching at the studio where I’ve been practicing since I moved to Vermont, Burlington Yoga. This was a bit of a struggle for me, as I feel committed to offering free yoga to students, rather than charging. I’ve reconciled myself with this because it is the way I can continue to train with the owner of the studio, Piper/ Candra Prabha, and because I donate all of the money I make at the studio to a variety of good causes (almost two thousand dollars so far from there).
Looking forward, I hope to have a big announcement soon. The pastor at the church is interested in letting me use some space there for a full time yoga studio! This is incredibly exciting, although there are still many pieces to put into place before this might happen. The financial aspect of it might be very challenging. I hope to continue to be able to offer donation based classes, but the space won’t be free, so we’ll have to figure out a way to make that happen. If any of you have any suggestions or insight on how to make that work, please get in touch. Also, please all of you think positive thoughts about this to help actualize this possibility. (also, also brace yourselves for the real possibility that I may be contacting you in the future for more concrete offers of assistance, either financial or with your expertise.
“Plant fruit and nut trees, by the highways, and the byways, and beside the living streams, that there may be more light and life in the planet, and all may have, without buying.”
Monday, December 31 – 12:00 pm to 1:30 pm
Taught by Jonah
This New Year’s Eve practice kicks off with a vigorous Flow, starting with Sun Salutations to honor the solar energies that warm and fill us with joy and enthusiasm. Moving into traditional standing and balancing postures to ground and align with the energies of the earth and sky.
Using deep, complete yogic breathing we learn to embrace both sides of the twist. Creating a movement from back to front along the axis of the spine. The breath spirals from the grounded base, hips and pelvis; up through the column of the spine, into the upper back, chest and shoulders. The whole body is involved in a twist. A seamless, connected awareness of the breath moving through the whole form integrates mind, body and energy.
In forward folds, we have a chance for deep introspection, a soothing of the nervous system and a calming of the mind. From this clear, open space we can lovingly let go of the old, and move fearlessly into the light of the New Year.
All levels welcome. Click here to reserve a spot.
Tuesday, January 1 – 12:00 pm to 1:30 pm
Taught by Jonah
Celebrate the beginning of the new year with this moderately paced all-levels class. The practice will start with a focus on the breath, finding a moment of stillness to reflect on the past and set an intention for the future. As we move through our asana practice we will explore a complete functional movement pattern to lovingly let go of the past and make new open space for our intentions in 2019. The practice will include breath-based movement, balancing postures, back-bending, and heart-openers to cultivate a sense of open space and mobility. We will close with a deeply relaxing Savasana to seed the intentions of your resolve.
All levels welcome. Click here to reserve a spot.
Starting this Tuesday, I invite anyone who is interested to sit with me for thirty minutes of meditation every Tuesday night from 7:00-7:30 at First Congregational Church of Essex Junction. The meditation will include a short talk on technique at the beginning, and opportunity for discussion afterwards if anyone wants to share.
There is a Vinyasa Yoga Class from 5:30-6:45, but you do not need to attend one to attend the other.
There is no charge for this session. Donations to FCCEJ are welcome, but not required.
Please join us tonight, September 20th, from 5:45-7:00 for a potluck dinner and Breath workshop at First Congregational Church in Essex Junction (the workshop will start at 6:30).
There are few things we do in life as much as breathing, yet we give it very little attention. Breathing well can calm or stimulate the nervous system depending on how you do it. The breath can also act as a focal point for a mindfulness practice. In a thirty minute session, we will practice breath awareness and a few breath cleansing activities, learn the differences between belly and chest breathing and then learn and practice a few breath techniques to engage the diaphragm, expand our breath capacity, and also to breath with as little effort as possible for calming meditation.
If you are interested in more resources about breathing, here is a very interesting article on breathing anatomy and biometrics.
For a more accessible article on breathing, try this from Yoga Journal.
Part one discusses the Science
Part two looks at some specific techniques (we will do these and a few more tonight).
Part three shows how to use these breath techniques in daily life
Are you like me; do you like superheroes? What about yoga? How about a story about superheroes doing yoga?
If so, have I got a treat for you. Yogi superstar Rob McKenna (aka Robiwan McKennobi) is trying to get some funding for an e-book version of his epic yoga class, Story time. Trust me, you want to get in on the ground floor of this. It’ll go all the way to eleven, I promise. As an added bonus, contributors get regular video updates which feature his glorious ginger beard gradually taking over his face. I mean, how can you possibly resist, right?
Check out his campaign here.
I’ve become more interested recently about concerns of Yogis on the effects of standing poses on the SI joint and the lumbar spine. I found a new blog about yoga anatomy that addresses these issues (albeit inconclusively) which I am enjoying. Here is the link to the article on tail bone tucking and here is the article on the SI Joint.
The second article also repeats an idea I’ve been reading about in my new book, Intelligent Yoga which Blackaby labels the Mereological Fallacy. Here is Mcinnes’ take on it: “We do not control specific muscles — we decide over movements. In other words, you don’t choose to flex your quadriceps to extend your knee. You decide to extend your knee and your brain creates a motor plan, which involves flexion of the quadriceps muscles.”
There will be no class this evening (Thursday, June 21st). I am in NYC and Jessica needs to attend her students’ graduation.
See you on Monday!