December 24, 2011
If you have enjoyed our occasional practice of QiGong at The Yoga Loft, you can practice and learn at home by following a you tube video of Taiji Shen Gong demonstrated by Master Li Jun Feng. It would be a good way to maintain a practice during the break.
August 29, 2011
Sad Dog, Happy Dog
In my classes we use the term "Mountain Pose" to describe the posture more commonly known as "Downward Facing Dog Pose." Mountain is the classical name for the posture which was renamed Downward Facing Dog by B.K.S. Iyengar. I hear there was quite a ripple through the yoga community when he decided to tamper with the Sanskrit names passed down through generations. Kali Ray, founder of Tri-Yoga, the primary style that I teach, uses the classical name, as does Sushil Battacharya, one of my early yoga teachers. Therefore I continue to use the classical name, Mountain, as they do. I've discovered that someone else has found a new application for the term "Dog Pose."To describe the collapsed, sunken chest, tucked tailbone posture that many people sink into while watching TV or sitting at a desk, Kali Ray uses the name "Slouch Pose." Look around and you will see Slouch Pose being practiced en masse. I just heard a new name for Slouch, "Sad Dog." This came to me via email directing me to a youtube video. The video seems to be an online version of a new book, Sad Dog, Happy Dog by Kathleen Porter. It's a guide to healthy balanced posture intended for children. The child in me liked it very much. The sad dog image is one we're all familiar with, the fearful, intimidated, or chastised pooch with tail curled under and drooped head. It means the same in humans and canines. When we sit or stand this way, out of the spine's natural alignment, we look and feel defeated, tired, weakened.Here's the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6oTfN5NDQWE
Me in Mountain Pose (my back could be straighter)
Me in an unsupported cross-legged seat (Sad Dog, I was sitting as best I could. Note rounded low back.) and Me in a supported cross-legged seat on a blanket (Happy Dog, hooray for props!)
Hope you watch the video and maybe share it with a child. I think it really gets the message across well.
August 25, 2011
My Wake Up Call(s)In the past 3 weeks I have had two car accidents. Both times I failed to see the other car involved. I've known people who have had strings of accidents, but nothing like this has ever happened to me. Yesterday when the second collision occurred, I immediately thought of all the things that felt wrong in my life. Today I'm spending some time to myself reflecting on the ways that I've strayed from my path. For me this involves consulting the Sage of the I Ching and inspecting my mind for thought patterns that are not harmonious with what the Chinese call the Tao, the Cosmic Way. One of the first changes that I'm making is to drop the proposed program for Yoga and Meditation with Obesity that I wrote about in my previous entry. I still am very interested in doing this kind of work, but for now I will offer it to individuals in private lessons.
I am experiencing chest soreness from the protection of the seat belt and feeling so grateful that I'm not feeling the pain I might have had, had I hit a steering wheel or windshield. It will be interesting to see how I will need to adapt my yoga practice while this heals. All in all, I feel lucky when I think of how many people are seriously injured in car accidents every day.
August 20, 2011
Practicing Yoga and Meditation with Obesity
Many people mistakenly believe that they are too unfit to practice yoga. For years I have printed on my class schedules that the only requirements to practice yoga are "a body, a breath and a willing mind." Yoga is extremely adaptable to any individual's unique needs.
I have had an interest in the plight of obese persons since I watched Richard Simmons taking on the problem in the 90's. I related to him as a compulsive/emotional eater. I sweated to the oldies a few times. It was a hard workout and I gained a quick respect for the demanding routines, but mostly for his compassion for the morbidly obese.
The fact that obesity in our society has become an epidemic is getting a lot of attention. It's hurting our children and grandchildren. They are being conditioned to accept unhealthful, unnatural foods and poor eating habits as normal. Parents have become dependent upon convenience foods and fast foods as they attempt to manage hectic schedules. Nutritional education is sorely needed, yet would address only a part of the whole lifestyle and patterns that lead to obesity and its related problems. Yoga and Meditation can help restore balance in the body, relieve physical and mental tensions, turn on the light bulb of self awareness, and bring us back to our natural self and natural ways.
I would very much like to apply my yoga teaching experience to the specific problems and needs of people encumbered by a large body. Therefore I have begun planning a pilot program for a small group of 8 large-bodied students who are willing to try yoga and meditation for at least a couple of months this Fall. This will not be a goal-oriented weight loss program. It will be adapted yoga and mindfulness meditation with a curiosity as to the beneficial side effects on the physical, emotional and mental bodies. This will be a new experience for me, so I expect to learn as much as the students. Their input, feedback and interaction with the group will be an essential part of the program.
There is only one additional pre-requisite. Since the Yoga Loft is not accessible to the handicapped, the participants must be able to climb the stairs to the yoga studio. Once they get up there, chairs can be used if sitting on the floor is not manageable. I think eight students would be a perfect sized group. Hopefully the ones with the "willing minds" will find their way to the program. I will screen applicants, as I expect there may be more than eight who are interested. An application form will be forthcoming in the next week or so. In the meantime, if you or someone you know would like to apply, the process can be started by sending me an email: email@example.com. The dates and times of the classes will be determined by the students' schedules. There will be a nominal fee (not yet determined) to cover the cost of materials.
August 14, 2011
Looking through Goggles
My son has a new phone. It's a "droid," if that means anything to you. It does amazing things ~ "apps." One of the apps on his droid is a program called "Google Goggles." It allows you to take a photo, like the cover of a book for example, and then it will search the Web for every page that displays that book cover. This intrigued me.
I wondered if my PC could do the same thing. With only a little bit of Googling I discovered that Google had added a similar feature about a year ago. Why did I want to use this feature? A couple of years ago I happened upon the Web site of another Oregon yoga teacher whose workshop I had taken and enjoyed. Just curious to find out more about him, I was surprised to find my mandala that I designed as a logo for The Yoga Loft posted on his site. I notified him about this and the image was promptly removed and I was given a polite apology ~ end of story.
After seeing Google Goggles I realized that I could look on the Web to see if my logo had been "borrowed" by anyone else. Boy was I surprised to see it show up 64 times! Most of those were not on my Web site.
I've sent out several emails requesting people not to use my logo without permission. But I also decided to add another page to my own Web site explaining the symbolism of the Yoga Loft mandala, how I came up with it and what it means to me. Oddly, to see it posted on another yoga studio's Face Book page felt like identity theft, my face with someone else's name ~ very strange.
If you're interested you can click on the mandala on the home page of www.yogaloft.com and it will take you to an explanation of the design, or you can go to it directly by clicking here.
July 19, 2011
Flexibility and Creativity
The other day in class I mentioned a memorable performance by Weird Al Yankovic that I saw back in the 90's. He sang his parody of Madonna's "Like a Virgin", entitled "Like a Surgeon." Imitating Madonna's sexual writhing in her video, Al's version was more like contortionism. I was impressed and amazed at his ability to sing while standing on one leg with the other ankle behind his neck. This is not shown in the officially released video, but on YouTube I found a home-video recording from a live concert that shows some of his yoga-like moves. You might see some familiar poses in his unique, flowing style of...whatever!
May 3, 2011
The Timeless Words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
"I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that."
February 6, 2011
I've cleared out a variety of books from my home library to add to the Yoga Loft collection. There is a wealth of knowledge on those bookshelves and in one way or another each book is about yoga, the wholeness of life. You might find something of interest among these titles, old and new:
Yoga Body: The Origins of Modern Posture Practice by Mark Singleton (This is a new release)
Insight Yoga by Sarah Powers
Light on Pranayama: The Yogic Art of Breathing by B.K.S. Iyengar
Light on Life: The Yoga Journey to Wholeness, Inner Peace, and Ultimate Freedom by B.K.S. Iyengar
The Path of Practice: A Woman's Book of Ayurvedic Healing by Maya Tiwari
Man's Eternal Quest by Paramahansa Yogananda
A New Earth, Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle
Entering the Castle, An Inner Path to God and Your Soul by Caroline Myss
Ageless Body, Timeless Mind by Deepak Chopra
Genetically Engineered Food: Changing the Nature of Nature
The Healing Spirit of Plants, an Illustrated Guide to Plant Spirit Medicine
Pranayama Beyond the Fundamentals by Richard Rosen
Personal Trainer Manual from the American Council on Exercise
Feng Shui Made Easy by William Spear
Vastu: Transcendental Home Design in Harmony with Nature
Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui by Karen Kingston
All books, tapes, CD's and DVD's at The Yoga Loft can be borrowed. Simply use the sign-in sheet to check out an item. Write the title(s) in the third column. Please return materials within a month and mark the return date in the same column. This is an honor system, like our payment method, so please be a responsible borrower. Some materials have been lost over the years and they are quite expensive to replace. Happy adventures in reading!
January 14, 2011
I am planning a yoga-related workshop, "An Introduction to the Art of Feng Shui." Just as our asana and pranayama practices stimulate the healthy flow of energy through the body, this class will show you how to recognize the aspects of your life where energy flow could be improved. Then we will look to your house (or possibly office space) to see how the energies are flowing in the corresponding areas. You will be shown some of the basic principles and tools that are applied in the practice of Feng Shui.
This workshop will be held on Friday, February 18, 2011, from 9:00 a.m. until noon at The Yoga Loft in Scappoose. The cost will be $20. You will need to bring with you a floor plan or roughly-to-scale sketch of a house or a room that you would like to observe from a feng shui perspective. All other materials will be provided.
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