I ran across a book on yoga in my early 20s, bought it and pretty much set it aside. Higher education and career were at the forefront of my mind and purpose. Jump several decades into the future when career becomes secondary, and it’s time for me to focus on me.  Yoga is back in my radar as more than the casual interest and occasional class over time. My practice evolved and I began to teach, and study for YA certification. It was a really good period of teaching and learning… and then we moved.

We came to Asheville 7 years ago, and one of the first things I did was to identify all the studios within what I considered to be an acceptable driving distance. There were lots to try and choose from… I made a geographic list, with the farthest away on top and closest on the bottom, and began my journey.  Just past the midway point, I came for a class at Asheville Yoga. I liked the energy at the studio, the class and the overall ambiance… and then I met Stephanie and took her class.  7 years later I’m still here!

Why do you practice yoga? 
It is a learning and stabilizing process.  It helps me stay connected with myself and my path in this life.  Even when I’m physically exhausted and mentally tired, I can stay centered and be present.  I find the practice, not just the asana, completely gratifying.

What is your favorite pose at the moment?
Triangle, in so many of its’ variations, is both inspiring and daunting.

What is your most challenging pose?
Arm balances of any sort because my body is carrying a lot of life experiences that make them difficult.  I have to be truly mindful with my efforts and ensure that I take care of myself.

How long have you been practicing yoga?
I have been practicing steadily for about 13 years.

What is your favorite/ most inspiring quote?
“what you seek is seeking you” -Rumi 

What are you reading right now?
Favorite book:  Wherever You Go, There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn; I think that says it all.  I just finished The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri . . . an amazing read.

What are some favorite songs on your playlist?
So many to choose from . . . Ong Na Mo is probably my favorite.  Soundtracks from the 2 Anugama “Sahmanic Dreams” cds are right up there as well.

What is your favorite food?
Blueberries

What is the last movie you watched? (or your favorite movie)
I don’t have a favorite movie.  I did enjoy the last one that I saw – The Force Awakens – always an underlying positive (optimistic) outlook.

What inspires you? 
Waking up and sunrise . . . and the opportunity for endless possibilities that the forthcoming day brings.

– GLORIA WETJEN
(Realistic optimist, driven, consistent)

 

Community Member Profile: Lorraine Lordi

When people talk about how yoga has changed their lives, I can add one more to that:  yoga saved my life.  You see, ten years ago, I was diagnosed with MS.  I went from being someone who could go like the Ever-Ready bunny to a person who could barely walk down her driveway, to the mailbox.  It was all of fifty feet away. For several years after the diagnosis, I struggled with not only loss of my physical self but loss of my happy, positive self.  The person who always saw silver linings behind clouds now not only saw dark clouds, but I also saw two of everything.  OK, so a full moon is beautiful, but when you look up at the sky and see two, you want to break down and cry.  I know because I did.

And then I moved to Asheville.  I rented a little furnished apartment on Chestnut Street, right next to this little yoga studio.  “Mom, you should try some yoga,” my son, Joe, who lives here, urged.

“Yoga?”  I said.  “Not for me.  I’m not a joiner.”

He handed me a flyer to a free weekend of classes.  “It couldn’t hurt to try one or two classes,” he said.

The next day, I got up the nerve to put on some old sweatpants and a t-shirt and go to a basic class.  I struggled to reach my toes.  Down dog?  Isn’t that for dogs?  And what’s this at the end?  Lie still and pretend you’re dead.  Well, that one I could do!

And then I kept going back.  Twice a week. Then three times.  Then as many times as I could.  I couldn’t explain why, but something there at that little studio felt like a home I never knew.  It felt like family to me.  At the same time, I slowly felt connected to the self I had lost.  The self who could only tremble at the thought of the future.  Would I go downhill like most of the doctors predicted?

Outside of yoga, I battled that fear a lot.  It’s only natural with this disease.  No one can predict its course.  But in yoga, I found a refuge, a place to center me.  I also found a place of hope.  You see, five years later after starting and staying with yoga, my neurologist shook her head and said, “I wish all of my patients were like you.  You are going back up the slope because of everything you do to take care of yourself.  I think the big part of it is yoga!”

So, that’s part of the story.  The beginning to the middle.  But let’s go to now.  Now, yoga for me is not just a way to heal, but a way to be
outrageously happy.  Yoga is fun!  So what if I can’t stand on my head?  So what if I have to go to the wall to balance?  I can touch my toes. I can do a sun salutation and really send all of my gratitude up to the universe.  I not only can do most every position (OK, take out Warrior Three), but I like doing them.

And let’s not forget this other side to yoga. Positions are fun and fine, but my breathing has deepened.  It has opened my heart and calmed down my fears.  Every breath is a gift.  And for me I can say, every step is a gift.  Not too many people think about every step they take or how their feet line up in yoga the way I do.  I’m on my feet!  To me, that is a miracle in itself.

As E.M. Forster said, “Just connect.”  And so, that’s why I do yoga:  to connect to all that is greater than I am, to connect to people in class who are no longer strangers.  To connect to the gratitude and compassion that surround and live within me.  To laugh and be glad for all that I have instead of dwelling on all that I have lost.  In fact, I can say this with great certainty:  I haven’t lost anything. With yoga and all that if offers, I’ve gained more than I could have ever imagined.  Life was good before MS.   Life is better now — with yoga.

Thank you, Asheville Yoga Center and all of your amazing teachers for bringing me back and beyond who I ever thought I could be.

– LORRAINE LORDI
(Happy, kind, and grateful)

Community Member Profile: Jay Gertz

Why do you practice yoga?
Yoga marks an endpoint of a long search and a new beginning in my life. For far too many years, I was seeking an elusive something that would fill that nagging emptiness inside. Yoga has provided a spiritual contentment and a physical nourishing that really sustains me. This transformative power of yoga is nothing short of miraculous. I am stronger and more supple. In executing asanas, I have come to not only appreciate my strengths, but accept my limits, feeling a greater sense of peace and shedding self-consciousness. I guess this is what is meant by moving towards authenticity. Becoming comfortable with who I am and finding a true sense of belonging in this yoga community is so wonderful!

What is your favorite yoga pose?

I must admit that my favorite pose is savasana because this is when the cumulative effect of the practice blossoms into a radiant blissfulness. Side Crow is one that I am really hoping to learn some day.

How long have you been practicing yoga?
I have been practicing yoga for over ten years. During a period when I had been fighting personal demons, a good friend, waxed eloquently about the curative power of yoga and told me about a wonderful teacher at AYC, Julia Taylor. I was very hesitant about making a commitment, but just then she walked into the UNCA library where we were talking! This moment of synchronicity was too powerful to ignore, so I gave yoga a try. I fell in love with the practice from the beginning and was a worker member to boot for several years!

Describe yourself in three words.
Just three? Cynical bohemian transforming. Or perhaps, work-in-progress.

What is your favorite/most inspiring quote?
“[…]the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes ‘Awww!’”  Jack Kerouac from On the Road

What are you reading now or your favorite book?
Jack Kerouac has been on my reading menu for fifty years. His poetic prose still blows me away (and led me astray.) More recently, I stumbled across the Neapolitan novels of Elena Ferrante…four volumes I absolutely could not put down about two strong, independent women and the fascinating tale of them growing up and older in Naples, Italy.

What are some of your favorite songs on your playlist?
I never seem to tire of listening to Bat for Lashes, especially “Daniel.” “Resignation Superman” by Big Head Todd and the Monsters gets me dancing. “Sometime Around Midnight” by The Airborne Toxic Event is great. “Set Fire to the Rain,” by Adele, wow, what a voice! Gotta also mention “Waiting Game” by Banks, “L.E.S. Artistes” by Santigold, “Monster” by Meg Myers and “Levi Stubbs’ Tears by Billy Bragg. As a recent arrival to the digital age, I have discovered so many great songs!

What is the last movie watched or favorite movie?
My all time favorite movie is “Amelie’.” I’ve watched it seven or eight times! It inspired me to go to Paris! I’ve recently enjoyed “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl,” “Wild,” and “Looper.” An undiscovered little screen gem is “Safety Not Guaranteed.”

What inspires you?
The natural world is the source of much of my passion and wonder. I live on four acres of forested land that puts many parks to shame. My wife has encouraged native plants and created a botanical paradise. I am constantly filled with awe by the morning symphony of bird song. Springtime out here is beautiful beyond words. The Earth Mother is strong, resilient and powerful, but I often fear for Her health by the onslaught of human kind.

– JAY GERTZ
(Cynical, Bohemian, Transforming)

How Ayurveda Compliments Your Yoga Practice

By Stephanie Keach

Hatha Yoga does an amazing job at strengthening, stretching and detoxifying the body, while helping to replenish and rejuvenate all the internal glands and organs. Yet for some, it may not be enough for full wellbeing.

Yoga has a sister, her name is Ayurveda (both born in India).  If Yoga’s original purpose was to get your body prepared for spiritual practice, then Ayurveda takes over from there with an expanded and balancing view of wellbeing. Ayurveda is the Healthcare system of India.

Ayurveda is an approach to healthcare from Ancient India based on dividing bodily substances into 5 classical elements:
Earth • Water • Fire • Air • Ether

Ayurveda’s main purpose is to prevent illness and promote longevity by seeking balance. According to Ayurveda, the key to vibrant health is understanding how the elements operate within you, your environment and every aspect of your life. Adjustments in lifestyle and daily routines can be made to balance and harmonize the elemental tendencies in each individual. Like Yoga, Ayurveda deals with what supports and doesn’t support us. Ayurveda goes beyond Asana (postures) and Pranayama (breathing exercises) to balance tendencies in order to heal the sick and maintain wellbeing in the healthy.

So, I strongly encourage everyone who loves the health benefits of Yoga, to try out her sister, Ayurveda.  Wellbeing is not merely an absence of diseases but is defined as a state of joy in the soul, mind, and senses.

Come spend a weekend with Dr. Scott Blossom, Ayurvedic Counselor, Yoga Instructor and Chinese Medical Professional. Plus, Stephanie Keach was his first Yoga teacher, way back when, so the love runs deep here people!

Yoga and Ayurveda
With Dr. Scott Blossom
March 18–20, 2016

Why Asheville NC?

Asheville was #1 in Yoga Journal’s “10 Towns with Top-Notch Yoga” and was listed as the #1 “Coziest Cities in America” by Elle DECORE magazine. Asheville area is world renowned as a bustling tourist destination, named one of twelve must-see travel destinations in the world by Frommer’s travel guides.

The Blue Ridge Parkway, which connects the Great Smoky National Park with the Shenandoah National Park and runs right through Asheville, is a great launching point for hiking and biking, or for those looking for a scenic picnic at an overlook.

Mountain adventures await your visit to the Asheville area, whether you’re planning a culinary travel experience with a tour of restaurants and microbreweries, or if you’re checking out the area’s top-rated outdoor sports activities. There’s so much to see and do in Asheville, that the only problem is narrowing the options!

Learn more of what Asheville has to offer at www.exploreasheville.com

Download AYC’s 200 RYT Training Guide 

Power Flow Vs Slow Flow

One of the most beautiful aspects of yoga, is that it invites practitioners from all backgrounds, ability levels, and personal goals to share in the benefits of yoga and hopefully even transform the world towards peace and goodwill. The most popular style of yoga at the Asheville Yoga Center is Flow Yoga, (traditionally also called Vinyasa).  And the two most popular sub-sets are known as SlowFlow and Power Flow.   As with many aspects of yoga, there are deeper benefits and qualities to these two forms than at first glance.

Slow Flow Yoga, in some ways, has more traditional roots going back to Viniyoga (Desikachar, founder).  This style usually provides poses that range from gentle to challenging, but done with stable, self-centering energy.  The pace of these classes is understandably slower and emphasis is placed on safe alignment and the maintaining balance of the slow breathing. This style can vary tremendously in its speed, with some classes preferring long, silent periods of reflection and static holding during each pose, and others opting for a more fluid experience (with possible frequent bursts of energetic sequencing to raise energy).  The toned-down speed of these classes does not, however, mean that the poses are any less beneficial for building strength, stability, and postural integrity than other styles. This slower pace is definitely more conducive to the meditative practices of mindfulness of action and awareness of breathing. This makes it particularly well-suited to newer students, or for those who desire deep concentration within their practice, most conducive to Slowing Down (hence the name).

Power Flow Yoga, or often Power Yoga, takes its inspiration and core from Ashtanga Yoga (Pattabhis Jois, founder). This style relies much more on synchronized breathing with each movement to produce beautiful, flowing patterns of motion and energy. As you may have guessed from the name, Power Flow techniques tend to be more vigorous than Slow Flow, and we generally recommend that practitioners are capable of enduring a higher rate of physical activity and heat in their classes. All Power Yoga classes are not necessarily heated, but internal heat is a big benefit of this style, helping with overall detoxification, cardiovascular fitness and weight loss.  With a foundation in Sun Salutations, Power Fow is often considered the “most athletic style” of yoga out there and attracts such clientele.  At first, it\’s all about seeking the workout, but eventually, by the end of class, not only has the body slowed and calmed itself, but so has the breath, heart, and mind.

Both styles are designed to transform the way you think, feel, and move, increasing physical capabilities in tandem with the mental. They promote anxiety relief, self-growth, and continual advancement toward your own goals, offering benefits as long as you remain conscious and active during your practice. We play music at our studio, which helps to set a rhythmic tone to the movements of theFlow practice.   We recommend newer students or those with physical fitness concerns to enroll in Slow Flow yoga classes before attempting Power Flow, as there are a wealth of benefits to be found in the tranquil, focused techniques of this style. Those who are returning students or seeking an experience that heightens physical challenges, weight loss, or a more workout-centric style should consider looking into Power Flow classes, but will still find ample reasons to pursue either form. Listen earnestly to your body, breath and mind, to deepen your sense of progress on your journey before making a final decision, and if still in doubt, feel free to contact our studio for assistance.

Download AYC’s 200 RYT Training Guide 

5 Tips for Aging Gracefully with Yoga

By Stephanie Keach

1. Pelvic Floor

Usually we think anti-sagging, anti-wrinkling, anti-balding when we see “Aging Gracefully”, but honestly those things don’t make us graceful. How about not having to wear a big, bulky diaper? Yup, GBK (Go Beyond Kegels) I say. My students will tell you I am not shy to drop anatomy terms like vagina, testicles, and anus in a yoga class. I’m a frequent flyer with pelvic floor anatomy because lets face it: Use it or Lose it. So squeeze often down there. Squeeze different things down there. Trying to isolate genitals from anus for instance – this might take a lifetime but the practice itself can enrich so many aspects. Elimination and sexuality, yes, those are the more obvious benefits. But how about becoming more grounded and certain? How about healing lower back issues? Oh yeah people, get your squeeze on!

2. Toes

Now, these fantastic appendages may not get sexier with age, but we can keep them limber and strong. Consider how many hours a day, each week, each year of your life your sweet little feet have carried you and spend some time daily literally massaging your toes. Touch them and Love them- they are going to (hopefully) carry you through ’til the End! Trying to grab / pick up things with your toes is a common activity in my “shoes-off” household, helping our feet stay healthy and limber.

3. Neck

Another common saying out of my mouth is “Your neck will not age well. Period. I am sorry for this news.” Yoga doesn’t prevent aging anywhere, and our vulnerable necks take a beating for sure: life, sports, computer screens, headstands… The best we can do for our necks is awareness and gentleness. Whenever you can remember, Check your Neck! meaning watch alignment and posture (driving and looking at screens are really bad ones!) Add in frequent neck stretches and neck rolls and that’s great. Get neck massages and you are on your way to Neck Nirvana!

4. Nutrition

I can’t think of a more loaded topic in the yoga world, yet regardless of diet: We Are What We Eat. Mindfully pausing before purchasing, preparing and ingesting can help us make better choices for our overall health and well being. But regardless of the ever controversial Vegan vs. Paleo, ask yourself these things:
How do I feel while I am eating this?
How do I feel after I eat this?
How are my bowel movements?
How is my mood after I eat?
How are my energy levels throughout the day?
How are my hair, skin, nails?
How is my menstrual cycle?
All these things listed above are very affected by what you eat. It takes deep self-reflection to determine the least violence towards the planet but also yourself! Moderation and flexibility is really the kindest food mantra we got in the yoga world. (Oh hey, it’s a pretty good Yoga body AND Yoga mind mantra too!) As most long-term Yogis agree, I believe listening to what your body TRULY needs is one of the most important forms of non-violence.

5. Rest

Oh stress. Our dear, uninvited guest doesn’t always get the hint that his welcome is over! So alas, our rhythm of deep rest and healing gets disturbed, and this disturbance can wreak havoc in all parts of our lives. This isn’t news, almost half the population is experiencing insomnia for either short term or long term reasons. Yoga gives us amazing tools for rest: Restorative yoga, Deep breathing, Meditation, and my all time favorite, Shavasana. Taking mini-naps has been a life-saver since I began having babies 20 years ago! To survive my pregnancies, when insomnia first visited, I began to get really good at Quick Shavasanas. Meaning, I would get into bed, put pillows around my head to cover my ears and eyes (my husband uses earplugs and an eye-mask), then lie on my back, comfortably like corpse pose in a yoga class, with a blanket, then I would super efficiently scan my body to deeply sink into the mattress, then my mind, and poof! I was out. I would either have a timer, or would naturally “awaken” after 20 minutes, refreshed and restored! Superbly miraculous and way more important to “master” than handstand, in my opinion.

I think it would be awesome if we edited our colloquial saying to “Aging Healthfully.” Now that is something to achieve! We are all aging, every single second. Yoga will not prevent it, and it may not even slow it down. But we can start right now with new practices to help the process feel more comfortable. Upcoming workshops like Yoga and Ayurveda will educate us in Nutritional healing with Yoga. Our 300 hour Therapeutics Training gives you every tool Yoga has to utilize our tools for healthier aging. Workshops like Senior Yoga with Libby Hinsley, Restorative Yoga with Sara Levine, Yoga and Meditation with Michael Johnson are only going to expand on my Top 5 suggestions above. I will leave you with one other great Tip:

“You don’t stop laughing when you grow old, you grow old when you stop laughing.”
― George Bernard Shaw

5 Reasons Steph Loves Ashtanga Yoga

1. Strength Building

I have the genetics for flexibility, which makes Yoga a dream job. Except that flexible people get injured in Yoga three times more than non-flexies. We apparently go too far into the stretch, injuring the tissues around our joints. Yup, I see it all the time. But lucky me, I “found” a style of Yoga early in my Yoga career that complemented my flexibility and built the much needed strength around my joints called Ashtanga Yoga. It was in Santa Barbara, CA in 1992, in John’s danky basement with space heaters. I would later drive to Encinitas to study with Tim, and it was also a danky basement with space heaters. These were definitely the low-budget days of Yoga! But the benefits of strength building Yoga practice are beyond protecting flexibility. I am building bone density, I am comfortable in my strong body (long periods of sitting or gardening for example don’t “kill” me), and I am a strong woman. Not just muscular, but strong in spirit, and in Yoga. Body-mind-spirit are all connected.

2. Pranayama

I had been practicing Yoga for several years before I found this style of Yoga, and besides the incredible strength it required (which humbled me to my very core), I was blown away by breathing deeply. At least it felt like this was the first time in my life that I ever even noticed deep breathing and how it made me feel. It was incredible. I am talking one of the top 5 moments of my entire life! Somehow, I awakened to the realization, while doing the traditional closing seated pranayama (Ujjayi- throaty breathing), that the breath wasn’t just “air in, air out.” It was energy, and I could literally feel it beyond my lungs, filling up my body. I could feel where the energy was stagnant or depleted and could use the Ujjayi to help heal and re-inspire that area. Oh yes, life transforming, like a million times more exciting than downward facing dog!

3. Heat

For me, I like intensity and excitement. Not only is this practice intense and exciting (incredibly hard and challenging postures!) but the environment is intense and exciting. At least “back in the day” in those basements. I was told by John and Tim that they were trying to recreate the heat they found in Mysore, India, the birthplace of this practice. I loved it. As most of us Yogi-heat-seekers realize, the detoxification happening is definitely not just physical toxins but emotional, spiritual, and psychological as well. That heat combined with the practice itself can really transform things (cells, muscles, bones, thoughts, emotions, etc).

4. “Practice, Practice, All is Coming.”

This was the mantra of the founder, Pattabhis Jois. He wasn’t very fluent in English, but he sure chose his words succinctly! His verbatim teaching matches my own personal philosophy of life, which is highly influenced by Zen. About the same year I “found” Ashtanga Yoga, I also discovered Zen meditation. The main messages are so parallel: It\’s not about the goal. It’s about the journey and every single thing we do and think along the way. So wake up. Keep practicing. Every moment.

5. Amazing Lineage

This particular style of Yoga has one of the most amazing lineages of dedicated practitioners. It starts before Pattabhis Jois with Krishnamacharya, but then quickly finds many American devotees: Bryan Kest, David Swenson, Tim Miller, Kino MacGregor, to name a few. And ALL of these fabulous and kind people were influenced by one main American: David Williams. He is from Greenboro, NC and often comes to visit family and friends, and – being super blessed – I am one of his friends! This crew of devoted, old-school ashtangis are the best. I feel honored to call them my friends. And David will be at Asheville Yoga Center Sept 3 – 6, so if you want to try what Steph has used to sustain herself for almost 30 years, please come! All levels welcome. Register here.

Download AYC’s 200 RYT Training Guide

Instructor of the Month: Sara Levine

Why do you teach yoga?

Teaching gives me the opportunity to be joyful with those around me. As humans, we aren’t always able to be present and kind to ourselves and others, but when we’re on our mats, we are all equal – we are all graceful, clumsy, learning, falling, succeeding and showing up.

What is your teaching history?

I taught in San Francisco for 6 years before I moved to Asheville. I started my career teaching 20 classes a week at 5 different studios! That didn’t last long…Now I’m happy to have been teaching solely at AYC for the past 2 years.

What is your favorite pose at the moment?

My favorite pose is, and always has been, half moon (ardha chandrasana). It makes me feel beautiful, strong, balanced, open and feminine all at the same time!

What’s your sign? (astrological)

Sagittarius

What is your most challenging pose?

Funny enough, my most challenging pose is revolved half moon (parivrtta ardha chandrasana). My upper and mid spine don’t like to twist too much so I’ve always found it challenging to stack my hips and rotate my shoulders at the same time in those opposite directions.

How long have you been practicing yoga?

12 years

Describe yourself in three words:

grateful, compassionate, easygoing.

What is your favorite quote?

“and though she be but little, she is fierce” – Shakespeare

What is your favorite word?

Eloise (my little girls name)

What are you reading right now? (or your favorite book)

Middlesex

What are some favorite songs on your playlist?

La Belle et Le Bad Boy – MC Solaar

Walking in the Sun – Fink

Ohpa-Me – Dechen Shak-Dagsay

What is your favorite food?

My mom’s lasagna

What is the last movie you watched? (or your favorite movie)

I watched Boyhood recently. It was fascinating and so well done.

What inspires you?

Now, it’s my daughter. Before I had her, it was my strong and intelligent friends – taking on the world.

Sara’s class schedule:
Monday 8:30am – Slow, Power Flow
Tuesday 7:00pm – Slow, Gentle Flow
Friday 8:30am – Slow, Power Flow

Download AYC’s 200 RYT Training Guide 

 

The 5 Tenents of Jivamukti Yoga

Hot, hip, and holy.

Created in 1984 by Sharon Gannon and David Life, Jivamukti yoga strives to help us fulfill our true potential, liberation in this life! It is a practice that allows us to access the underlying, subtle, and esoteric teachings of yoga. Through the practice of the 5 tenents we strive for a life, not just a yoga asana class, that allows us to express compassion and create a mutually beneficial coexistence with all that surrounds us.

1. Ahimsa: Nonviolence and compassion towards all beings (which includes eating a vegan diet.) By being kind to others you create an atmosphere of peace within and around yourself that extends into the greater world.

2. Bhakti: Devotion—offering everything you do to something greater than your ego/small self— acknowledgment that Self or God realization is the goal of all yoga practices.

3. Dhyana: Meditation—connecting to that unchanging reality of eternal joy within.

4. Nada: Incorporating sacred music and sonic techniques and learning how to enhance the development of a sound body and mind through deep listening.

5. Shastra: The study of Sanskrit scriptures and how they apply to the here and now.

From Jivamukti’s roots in Ashtanga, we love asana, it allows us into our bodies and opens us up to all beings (every body). The practice of asana not only allows us to create strong flexible bodies but also strengthens our mind and adds flexibility to our preconceived notions that hold us in stagnation. What a gift it is, in this life, to have a human birth and to be able to practice the divine act of asana.

It’s more than a yoga asana class, it’s a new way of thinking and living, moving from a society of dominance to one of mutual benevolence and balance. When asked, “who would you say is the perfect candidate to start practicing Jivamukti yoga?” David Life responded: “the ones with imagination, a sense of adventure, and the courage to change. All change starts within. As Mahatma Gandhi said, ‘be the change you wish to see in the world.'”

To learn more, join Adam Shirley and Kumiko Yamada for a Jivamukti Workshop on July 18, 2015, 10:00 – 12:30pm. All Levels Welcome. $35.

 

Yoga for Stress

Do you feel great? Alive and vital? If not, consider the role that stress might be playing in your life.
Stress can greatly diminish our energy. Stress quite literally robs us of our vitality. We live in an
increasingly stressful world and the potential for the experience of stress comes at us from many
places: work, relationships, current events, life events, social media and information overload can all
create the sensation of stress in our bodies and minds.

Thankfully, yoga and the tools of yoga offer us a way forward to a healthier and happier way of
being. There are three simple steps that you can take right now, utilizing what you’ve already
learned from your practice.

#1 – Shift your attitude. Studies have found that those people who believe that stress will kill them,
do in fact die from stress related and stress induced illnesses. Rather than allowing yourself to hold
such a powerfully negative view, shift into seeing the power of the positive. When you feel yourself
experiencing stress, rather than freak out- affirm that this is what it feels like when your healthy body
responds to challenge. This one simple shift could save your life.

#2 – Move! Get out there and move! Move your body in yoga- any yoga practice or run or walk or
skate or swim or- you get the idea. Our stress response is created through our sympathetic nervous
system. This system reacts to a true life threat in the same way as the experience of traffic making
us late for work. There is no distinguishing the levels of threat- just the same reaction. Our bodies
prepare us for stress by enabling us to run or fight. One of the ways that we can release some of
that response is by moving our bodies.

#3 – Breathe. Allow yourself to not only notice your breath but also begin to work with it. Simple
pranayama (breathing techniques) are incredibly effective in shifting and handling the energy of
stress. Next time you feel stressed- shift your breath- begin to breathe long and deep. Do a practice
of equal inhale/exhale. Allow yourself to inhale for a count of 5 and exhale for the same count. A few
minutes of this will shift your entire perspective and you will begin to feel better right away.