The forest is sacred to me. Something almost magical happens as I make my way down a trail. I notice the texture of the moss on the trunks of trees, the movement of the leaves in the breeze, and the sounds of creatures scurrying to escape my unwanted presence. And the forest pulls me in.
The lush expanse of vegetation and richness of color remind me of abundance, and I feel blessed. The bramble of blackberry vines and untamed undergrowth remind me of the wild implulse of life insisting on expression. Decaying stumps and animal scat speak of a necessary release and return to elemental oneness.
My breath deepens; my existence expands beyond the boundary of my skin. I feel connected to all life in the forest, and she calls to my soul. I become aware that my arms and open hands are lifted tree-ward, skyward.
Abrupt contraction. Oh no, did anyone see? Is there anyone else on the trail? I snap back into my physical form. What just happened? Was this a form of Samadhi, deep meditation? And if so, hey, does that mean that I am an advanced yogini now? That would be cool. My analytical mind, manas, and sense of separateness, ahamkara, are hard at work trying to label, plan, and explain.
The trail goes deeper into old growth. Trees who have lived ages whisper of a common origin, them and me. Again my awareness expands. Again my arms are uplifted. And this time I do not care if anyone else is watching. The pulsation of life reverberates in my body. Just as water exposed to heat is helpless to become steam, I am helpless but to dance. If you are there, watch my ecstatic yoga. Join me.
This time contraction returns with sweetness. My feet plant solidly on the trail. I am grateful to the confine of physical form which allows me to function in this world as mother, daughter, sister, aunt, friend, lover, teacher, and all the multiple forms I take. And I remember.
Spanda is the Sanskrit term for the pulsating nature of the universe. It is derived from the root spadi meaning to move a little. It is “the subtle creative pulse of the universe as it manifests into the dynamism of living form.” (Spanda foundation,spanda.org) As we practice yoga, we become more and more aware of the cycle of expansion and contraction. The contrast between the two can be quite unnerving, but need not be. Yoga also teaches us to ride these currents gracefully. My abrupt contraction was due to self-consciousness, fear of judgment, pride, and shame. Yet even still, I can learn to use such occurrences as fodder for self-study. No need to worry; it is yet another opportunity for practice. My second wave of contraction was more yogic, more balanced, more integrated. Yeah, and no cause for pride. Cycles repeat, hence the name cycle.
Yoga, as it has come to me, never promises reduced occurrence of pain, death, confusion, grief, contraction. It does teach, however, a reduction in suffering as we learn to dance with the rhythm, the spanda, of life.
What is known in the West as Thai massage is not massage at all, but rather an ancient energy-based healing system that combines acupressure, reflexology, and assisted yoga postures. Treatment effects are enhanced when the patient is fully relaxed and breathing deeply. This traditional healing practice, called Nuad or Nuad Boran in the Thai language, stands in contrast to western massage therapies.
Traditional Thai massage uses no oils or lotions, and the recipient remains clothed during a treatment. There is constant body contact between the practitioner and client, but rather than rubbing on muscles, the body is compressed, pulled, stretched and rocked in order to clear energy blockages and relieve tension. The practitioner uses thumbs, palms, forearms, elbows, knees and feet to create a dance of movement on the body of the recipient. In this process, joints are opened, muscles and tendons are stretched, internal organs are toned, and energy is balanced. The overall effect is one of deep relaxation, rejuvenation, and physical and mental well being.
Nuad Boran (known in various forms as Thai massage, Thai Yoga Massage and other terms) began to evolve in Thailand over 2,000 years ago. Based on healing principles similar to those utilized in other non-western healing therapies, the Thai system focuses on circulation of vital energy in major pathways called sen. The major energy lines are manipulated, and important pressure points along these pathways are stimulated to help break down blockages, stimulate energy flow and restore balance and harmony.
Identifying features of traditional Thai massage are integrated yoga postures which are performed on the recipient. Through assisted yoga, the body is stretched in ways that are difficult to attain through individual exercise and yoga practice. The result of a full-body Thai treatment is often an exciting and powerful mind/body healing experience, bringing both the recipient and the practitioner to heightened states of physical and spiritual well-being.
For many, traditional Thai massage is also a spiritual discipline in that it incorporates the practices of mindfulness (breath awareness) and loving kindness (focused compassion). These techniques, when shared by practitioner and client, help bring the treatment session to a focused and deep level.
Tim Enright, LMT, YA200 offers Thai Yoga Massage in 60, 90, and 120 minute sessions. Schedule your session here or contact Tim at 541-231-2622.
At Live Well Studio we welcome students of any shape or size to all of our classes, but we also recognize that walking into a yoga class can be uncomfortable for some people. With that in mind, we are excited to offer a new Yoga for Larger Bodies class starting this summer!
Yoga for Larger Bodies focuses on modifying traditional yoga postures through the use of props and other techniques. It is intended to make yoga practice accessible and enjoyable for all bodies, regardless of shape, size, or other physical challenges. Classes are designed around students' needs and emphasize a welcoming environment for all. We will move at a slow pace and emphasize modifications to achieve proper alignment. By learning how to modify yoga postures for their needs in a body-positive environment, the class will also give students the comfort and knowledge to explore other yoga classes.
· Learn how to adapt postures with props to make them more accessible for their individual bodies
· Learn breathing techniques for relaxation and stress relief
· Learn safe alignment in yoga postures
· Improve flexibility, strength, and balance
· Gain confidence and comfort in the body they have
The 60-minute class will be held Tuesday evenings from 7-8 PM beginning July 1, 2014.
Taught by Kacey Beddoes, read Kacey's bio here.
Most of you know me, but let me tell you a little bit more about myself: I’m a ptsd survivor, a former academic, a yogini, a mother, a wife, a yoga teacher, someone who has recovered from addiction and family dysfunction… and co-owner of Live Well Studio. I have a great life and I have had some very tough times. Yoga has kept me sane and whole through the most difficult times of my life. Yoga has been my spiritual resource and my personal life raft.
Are you ready to deepen your yoga resource? What would you like to learn more of? Are you ready to establish a daily meditation practice? Or become more proficient in asana? Or deepen your understanding of yoga philosophy and history? If so, I would like to personally invite you to join our 2014 Yoga Immersion. (July 7 to August 1). Yoga Immersions are a subset of our Yoga Teacher Training. They allow you to dip into the training without signing up for the full time experience. We offer 4 tracks: Meditation (daily 7-8am); Asana (daily 8-10:30am, includes Meditation Immersion if you choose to come at 7am); Anatomy and Asana Analysis (2:30-5pm, July 7 to July 22); or History and Philosophy (11:30a-1pm, July 7 to July 23). Register before June 15 and receive a 25% discount on any of the sub-immersions.
And if you are really ready to go deeper, whether you ever want to teach yoga or not, think about joining the full immersion. If you call me ask questions, I’ll extend the early enrollment deadline from June 1 to June 15.
Lisa Wells, Ph.D.
Click here for details and registration.
I came to yoga in the Iyengar studios of Berkeley around 1990. Like many people, I thought I was coming to yoga to help cure my bad back. I was in my early 30s, newly sober, newly in therapy, and in a very high stress job as a young professor at UC Berkeley. Yes, yoga helped my bad back. And Yoga taught me some cool poses. But what I really needed to learn in yoga, what I continue to learn from yoga, is to love my body as it is, injuries, warts, fat, and all.
I’m a sexual abuse survivor and I suffer from the symptoms of PTSD. When I first walked into the yoga rooms I did not know what PTSD was and I had not yet realized that the experiences of my childhood were sexual abuse. I had spent a good deal of my life dissociated from my body. I did not realize that I was running away from memories stored in my flesh. Drugs and alcohol had helped make the experience of living in my flesh tolerable. When I stopped using, I had to find a new way of coping with simply having a body.
Yoga taught me to live in my flesh. Yoga taught me the language of my flesh. Yoga taught me that I could be safe in my flesh. Yoga built a relationship of trust between my body and my mind. Yoga helped me discover how to tolerate physical pleasure while staying sober. Yoga taught me to love my body.
You don’t have to be a sexual abuse survivor to suffer from body dysmorphia and dissociation. Our advertising and media driven society is heavily invested in teaching us that our flesh, as it is, is unworthy of love. This constant message is abuse enough to illicit a neurotic relationship with our bodies. Resisting this message is the job of a full time revolutionary. Tara Stiles may call herself a ‘yoga rebel’ but it seems to me that she is a pawn of the marketers simply selling us more of what the culture already sells, but wrapping in yogic verbiage. Besides some interesting contortions of the body what is yogic about her work? How does she teach us to love our flesh and be free of this barrage of marketer’s hell? How does she teach the sexual abuse survivor who breaks down in tears in class? Or the student who dissociates and disappears behind an emotional wall of self-protection during class? Most of my yoga injuries have happened when I was dissociated and striving to force my body into a pose that was not healthy for me. How do we prevent this from happening in the studio?
What is yoga? Yoga is not a fancy pose in a glass box in Times Square. Yoga cannot be captured in a selfie. Yoga is the blissful smile on my student’s faces when they are resting in savasana. Yoga is the luxurious stretches as the body reawakens after savasana. Yoga is alive when someone chooses child’s pose instead of a handstand because they are listening to their body. Yoga is alive when we learn to speak the language of our body and truly listen to what our body has to say. Yoga is alive when we fall in love with ourselves as we are and our world as it is.
Lisa Wells, Ph.D.
Dear Yoga Students of Live Well Studio,
I am very honored to have the opportunity to meet you in May, when I come to Live Well to teach a workshop on the 17th. The workshop will be a blending of yoga asana in a hatha flow style, with a bit of story and theory. I’m excited to join Angela Greenwood and others in your community who are teaching and practicing at the intersection of yoga asana with the extraordinarily powerful teachings of yoga’s rich mythological tradition.
We’ll be discussing three fascinating characters from the Hindu pantheon, the Goddesses Sarasvati, Kali, and Laxmi, or Sri. Deities in yoga are such an interesting topic. They can be adored at many levels. There are, as you might imagine, whole schools of yoga steeping in what we traditionally think of as diety “worship”, and by this I mean the religious approach to the icons that asks us to receive the universe as an authority over us, and to engage our yoga as a practice of self improvement, of worthiness cultivation - as a way of righting the wrongs of our humanity. There is a beautiful quality of love, or bhakti, embedded into these traditions. However, it has been my experience that If we’re not careful, we can turn everything we do into a way to criticize ourselves. “I’m terrible about sticking to a home practice, “ we say, or, “I’m so BAD, I should eat more green smoothies.”
SO here’s a thought - What if, as so many of the teachings of yoga suggest - everything really is Divine? Every one of us, every living being, yes, but also your every mood and preference, your thoughts and actions, you victories and successes, your gaffs and foibles, every imaginable thing?
This is the proposition of the Triadic Heart of the Goddess tradition. This is a yoga that asks us to receive the universe and our very lives as a both a gift, the no strings attached kind, and also as an invitation to co create our lives in partnership with the energies in and around us. From this perspective, the deities are nothing but aspects of every one of us, and their “worship” a practice of getting to know ourselves, one god or goddess at a time.
We’ll look at some of the many ways that elements of the yoga we do in our regular classes, the biomechanics, the breath based movement and even the way we modify for injuries converse with these ancient wise archetypes, and in the process we may deepen our understanding of how to claim the practice of yoga as our own. How to practice our yoga as a way of living in constant remembrance of our own inherent worth, our deep divinity and greatness.
I look so forward to meeting you there.