yoga

Doing it differently: Yoga School

yoga props

"Because that's the way it's always been done" is a terrible reason to keep doing something the same way.

As is, "but that's how everyone else does it."

For about a month now, I've had this persistent nudge to change the format of the current "Teacher Training."

Yes, I've trained many teachers and will continue to do so in the upcoming program this fall.

But what if you don't want to be a teacher? What if you just want that level of education, support, commitment and, frankly, fun?

In the past, I've tried describing Teacher Training as Life Training (as many past students have called it). I make the language as welcoming and permissive as I can to those who don't want to teach. This program is for everyone.

But why should they have to pay the same amount and have the same intensive homework and requirements? I created a yearlong program (The Daily Craft) with the intention of giving a similar opportunity to non-teachers. But nothing is like the 5 month immersion of TT.

So...the persistent nudge was, how can I make this available to people who don't want to teach?

Sometimes the answer is obvious, in plain view, just behind the veil of but this isn't how it's done.

I'm so pleased to announce a rename and restructure to the Yoga education program I'm offering.

It's called Yoga School. There are two tracks: Personal and Professional.

Check it out.

 

two new workshops

Workshops in the works! Two upcoming offerings...

 

chai

Seasonal Care : Winter to Spring

Address the unique symptoms that can arise from the upcoming seasonal transition -- colds, mucous, sluggish energy and digestion -- using the accessible tools of Ayurveda and Yoga.

Sunday, January 28, 1-3:30 pm

Email to register.

The shift from winter to spring can be tricky for the body, digestion and sleep. In our climate, winter is cold and spring is generally wet — qualities that together can create mucous, heaviness and sluggishness in energy and digestion.

Using the tools and Yoga and Ayurveda (which has to do with what we put in and on our bodies), we can warm the chill, absorb excess dampness and keep things moving.

This workshop will include suggestions for foods and beverages appropriate for the season, tips for balancing body practices and aromatherapy.

Plus -- cold care. You'll get a take-home of my #1 oil for fending off a cold.

These seasonal workshops are a ton of fun, very popular and Include take home goodies!

Sunday, January 28, 1-3:30 pm $75
Hosted at Figure 8 Studio at 28th and S Streets
Class size is limited; register early.

 

sleeping angel

Tired of Insomnia?

Sleepy solutions based on science and real-life experience. Take home tools and samples included.

Sunday, March 11, 1-3:30 pm

Email to register.

Do you have trouble falling asleep? Or do you wake in the early a.m. hours and stare at the ceiling? Insomnia not only puts you in a bad mood, it’s bad for your health. Studies show that insomnia affects everything from our immunity to our lifespan.

No doubt you have tried many remedies, maybe some with success. But if you are relying mostly on pharmaceutical drugs and luck to get a good night’s rest, there’s more you can do.

Sleeplessness becomes its own cycle of anxiety over going to bed and fear of the effects of not sleeping ("Tomorrow is going to be terrible if I don't get any sleep!"), which make the possibility of actually sleeping even less likely.

Join Michelle for a workshop full of sleepy solutions based on science and personal experience. We’ll review the basics of sleep preparation, yoga poses to help set the nervous system and tricks to get and stay asleep. 

Includes take home tools and samples.

Sunday, March 11, 1-3:30 pm $65
Hosted at Figure 8 Studio at 28th and S Streets
Class size is limited; register early.

 

Questions about either of these workshops? Just ask. To register, email me. You will receive all workshop details after registration.

two things i got wrong

No sure thing

I’ve always appreciated the saying you don’t know what you don’t know, but never more than this.

I was preparing for the Yoga Philosophy series, and I thought I’d double check the pronunciation of Saucha, our concept of the week, which means purity, pure, radiance, to shine, to be bright.

When it comes to yoga, yoga history and sanskrit, Richard Rosen is the go-to guy. So I sent an email to him with a few questions about Saucha, including clarification on how it is pronounced.

S’s in Sanskrit can be a little confusing. There are three sibilants — one is pronounced like our ‘s’ as in such. The other two are pronounced very similarly, both with the “sh” sound, as in should. It depends on the markers on the letter s. This is why savasana is pronounced shavasana — there’s an accent acute on the s, giving it a sh sound.

Turns out there’s also an accent acute on the s in Saucha and I’ve been mispronouncing it for over 20 years. Even teaching it incorrectly. It’s pronounced “show-cha” (the “ow” sounds like the “ou” in “loud”).

This really rocked my world! I pride myself on being a perpetual student, continually learning and fact-checking before I make claims. And here I was spreading misinformation.

This was on the tails of an informative podcast on the word Namaste. I know Namaste is a traditional salutation, but I did not know that it has not historically been used as a closing to a yoga practice. Nope, it’s just another add-on — probably in the mid 20th century — to make yoga more marketable and attractive to a Western audience (or shall we say, consumer).

The lessons we learn from “mistakes” are often the ones that sink in the deepest, and I’m grateful to be able to learn and discover…and be forgiven when I’m wrong (mostly by myself).

So for you….

  • Are there things you thought you knew that turned out to be untrue?

  • A favorite Buddhist mantra is No sure thing. Is there something you could be a little less certain about?

  • Try responding with “I don’t know,” rather than hypothesizing or having an answer. How does that feel?

Would love to hear any stories or thoughts you have!

Michelle

get uncomfortable

The Discomfort Zone… 

It’s not a place we talk about often. Certainly not a place we strive to be.

But it is a very important place.

It’s possible that our extreme desire for comfort keeps us a little too protected. We successfully avoid situations where we are forced to grow, where there is uncertainty, where we don’t already feel adept and safe. This can make us reactive, entitled and a little lazy.

Not to mention what our desire for comfort — and convenience — has done to the planet…but that’s a topic for another time.

In The Book of Joy, the Dalai Lama offer his sage wisdom on building resilience against mental/emotional suffering. He says:

     “Like physical illness, preventative measures are the best way. Yes, if some disease has already developed, then there’s no other choice but to take medicine. So similarly, once a person develops a strong negative emotion, like anger or jealousy, it is very difficult to counter it at that moment. So the best thing is to cultivate your mind through practice so that you can learn to prevent it from arising in the first place.” 

By getting into our Discomfort Zone, we can practice non-reactivity, observe how a feeling or sensation changes and meet the moment in reality as it is, not as we wish it to be.

You might be familiar with these qualities in your yoga practice, certainly in your meditation and asana practices.

This is one of the skills Yoga helps to develop — being with what is, as it is, without immediately discharging it, trying to fix or distract from it. 

Here are a few ways to strengthen this skill, like a muscle, on your mat:

  • Practice meditation — anywhere from a few minutes to 30 minutes — in complete stillness. Sit with the itch, the wanting to fidget, and watch the feeling or sensation change, maybe even disappear.

  • When in a yoga pose, stay even when it becomes (safely) intense. Warmth and tingling in the thighs in Warrior II? Awkward and humbling in the arm balance? Again, stay with it and watch the sensations change and move.

  • In Savasana, resist the impulse to move immediately at the “end” of the time. Notice that some of your urges are habitual rather than conscious choice.

  • How does aversion to discomfort show up in the rest of your life? Especially considering the attitudes and actions surfacing in our country right now, it's crucial for us to stretch out the comfort of complacency. What's one thing you could do -- make a phone call? Write a letter? Volunteer? Organize a group?

Why does any of this matter? What good does it do to go into a discomfort zone? Isn’t that opposite of what Yoga is for?

As my teacher Mary often says, Yoga is not a practice to make us feel better, it is an opportunity to feel.

Additionally, Yoga is a practice of Action, not just witnessing.

This is a whole-life path. It builds mental, emotional AND physical strength and flexibility.

And goodness knows we need it.

 

i know you're there...

…even though I can’t see you.

It was one of the high-intensity full moons this summer and I really wanted to see it. I’d been watching it’s waning and tracking the phases on my Moon Calendar app.

This full moon promised revolution, breaking free to new ground and clarity on how to get there. I wanted it all.

My usual walking route gives me several places to glimpse its rising, and ends with the perfect vista point.

I’d taken walks the two prior evenings, feeling the power build. So the dog and I set out on the full moon night to find it.

On the walk out, I was scanning the horizon, looking for that glowing ring you can see before you even see the moon itself. It was dusk and it wasn’t up yet.

Nearing the hill that was my destination and final vantage point, I was starting to feel disappointed that there was no moon, no glow, no sign.

My anticipation and excitement were fading. I was like a kid waiting for Santa Claus, knowing I’d fall asleep before he came.

I stayed on the hill as long as the available light would allow. Still, no moon.

Starting for home, I was calculating what went wrong – What time had I gone the nights before? Gauging from the remaining light, what time was it now? Maybe I hadn’t accounted for the shifting of the moonrise time. Maybe it was all a trick and it wasn’t the full moon night after all.

Heading through the last stretch where I would be able to see it rise, I heard someone say something. I looked down at the dog – she assured me it wasn’t her.

I looked back at the horizon and heard it again.

“I know you’re there, even though I can’t see you.”

It was a wiser, more patient part of myself speaking aloud. I was talking to the moon, but also to the larger forces that we are asked to believe in even though we can’t see them.

I know you’re there….even though I can’t see you.

It was reassuring. It was hopeful. I talked to that moon the rest of the way home. And even though I couldn’t see it, I know it heard me.

 

Two things struck me about this night. First, that I have faith again, after it was so shattered. For months on end, I did not know if my faith in life would return. Yet here I was, stating my trust in that which was beyond my ability to see.

Second, that my moon walk didn’t have to have a happy ending to be beautiful. Not everything is fixable, not all stories end as we want them to.

I did not see the moon that night. It didn’t rise like a Hollywood moment just before I walked up our drive. And that was ok.

 

As much as it has been tested, I know that I am a strong, resilient spirit. A big part of that comes from my Yoga practice. It comes from knowing that I am supported unconditionally. It comes from being surrounded by community.

You, too, have your story…the ways Yoga has saved you, given you strength, been a shelter in the storm.

Sometimes it's helpful to reflect on that. Not to measure or conclude, but to acknowledge -- yes, this is a positive thing in my life; yes, I am different today than I was a year ago; yes, my commitment and consistency serve me well.

And once in a while, our own faith in life can surprise us.