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1:31 pm

Discovery in Yoga Teacher Training

by Katie Zarajczyk

I knew I would teach yoga while laying in savasana after a kickass, sweaty vinyasa practice. Exhausted on my mat I felt connected in a way I never had before. I was fully present, yet somehow connected to both the past and the future. A few tears fell from my eyes. I knew there was something special happening in that room. I wanted to learn more and I knew I would teach some day. 

It would be years before I finally enrolled in a 200hour teacher training. I met my husband, moved to Canada, and then back to Florida. When the opportunity for training presented itself I didn't think I was ready. I knew I wasn't ready. I couldn't imagine having the courage to stand up in front of a room and lead a class. The teachers I admired had such grace, they were confident, funny, and strong. I didn't consider myself any of those things. 

Yoga teacher training helped me discover that we are all mirrors for each other. Those qualities I admired were a part of me. Gaining the courage to teach through my 200hour training reminds of these words from Marianne Williamson:

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?' Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."

With this in mind, I invite you to be fearless, to take the leap, and join us for a life changing journey. Let's learn and grow together! 

Free Yoga Teacher Training Q&A session August 8th, 7-8pm and August (26th)

Join us and bring your curiosity and questions.
Enroll August 8 for Q&A
Enroll in Yoga Teacher Training!  Woo Hoo!

5:29 pm

What is Yoga Teacher Training About?

by Jocelyn Fultz

I still remember taking my first steps into a yoga studio. Smiling faces, quiet atmosphere, and a lot of questions in my mind. Though I had done yoga before that day so long ago, nothing quite prepares a person for their first yoga class. You are asked to breathe. You are asked to bend your body in strange ways that seem slightly unnatural. You are asked to be aware of your body. I never imagined that only about 12 months later, I would be pursuing my 200 hour Teacher Training Certification.

I was a massage therapist at the time, having transitioned from an unfulfilling acting career. Enjoying the calm and quiet of the spa environment I was spending most of my time in, I wanted to branch further into the wellness industry. Teaching soothing yoga classes seemed like just the thing to compliment what I already had going on. Of course, monetarily speaking, I had to come up with the funds to train, and luckily, my program was on the weekends and included a payment plan, so I didn't lose too many coveted work hours or sleep over the pricing. Without much hesitation, I dove in.

Going through a teacher training program is so much more than learning yoga poses and how to say the funky sanskrit names. I found myself wanting to know what Yoga actually was. The history, philosophy, ideas about living and "Life" in general - Yoga has something to say on all of it. This understanding unravels with time, and I came to realize that I would never know everything - a freeing thought. Instead, I have always said a Teacher Training program is for anyone who is a Yogic Seeker. Teaching comes from a love of sharing, and you do not need to possess this to deepen your practice.

Entering an environment of like minded individuals enables you to open yourself to all the benefits that Yoga has to offer. A program such as this is immersing you in a yogic lifestyle, while allowing you the benefit of staying in your chosen life. After all, there is no running from it. Your life will always follow you. Best to learn how to be present and welcome it. 

Free Q&A session with Jocelyn July 25th, 7-8pm
Join us and bring your curiosity and questions.

6:51 pm

Meditation Immersions by Katelin Gallagher

Hello Yogins,

I'm writing to share that two of my dear mentors are holding unique learning opportunities at Live Well over the next two months. If you are curious about some of the more rare and esoteric teachings of yoga and Buddhism -- offered in an accessible format -- this is it! These two are some of the most remarkable teachers I've encountered on my path and I'm really looking forward to sharing them with the Live Well community and the community with them!

Dr. Winston McCullough is a long-time student and teacher of Tibetan Buddhism, the psychological sciences, and contemplative perspectives on Christianity. The program "Wise Yogi" will delve into the compelling topic of wisdom in Tibetan Buddhism; Winston skillfully unfolds the profound logic and compassion of Tibetan Buddhism and offers direct application to the most important aspects of modern yogic life: relationships, family, life calling, and the pursuit of well-being.

Kimberley Lafferty is a dedicated practitioner and teacher of Tantric Buddhist and yogic philosophy. She is also a mom, a wife, a doctoral student, and a writer among her chosen roles and thus avenues for spiritual becoming. An expert in psychological and spiritual development, she reveals the philosophy of Tantra through relevant, potent, eye-opening teachings and practices that support both continual "waking up" and "growing up" in already mature audiences. Here is a brief video of her teaching on projection, emptiness, and shadow; this one is a bit longer.

Please Save the Dates and come if you can! Winston and Kimberley are long-time colleagues and these two workshops will flow beautifully from one to the next.

The Wise Yogi with Winston McCullough | More Info & Register HERE | 4/28-4/30 | F: 7:30-9:30pm | Sa: 12-4pm | Su: 2-4pm

Love, Sex, Death: Living Tantra in America with Kimberley Lafferty | More Info & Register HERE | 5/27-5/28 | Sa: 5:30-10:30pm | Su: 5:30-10:30pm (Earlybird pricing thru May 12)

Kimberley will also be giving a free 1-hr lecture before her workshop weekend @ OSU on Thursday, May 25 at 7pm in the LaRaza room in the Memorial Union.

Loving You, Kate

6:22 pm

Why should a Yogi learn Pilates?

by Lisa Wells

Short Answer: Pilates is all about the core and building strength from the center out.  Pilates builds strength in places that are often neglected in a traditional yoga practice. Core strength and awareness can help heal and prevent back pain.  Core strength that will help prevent you from injuring yourself as you push toward more complicated yoga postures.

Long Answer: Some 17 years ago, a few years after a spinal fusion, still dealing with neuropathy, pain and instability, I asked myself: What was my yoga practice missing?  What needed to be trained and developed in my physical body for better overall health? There were a few answers: 1) I needed more direct core strength; 2) I needed more rotational movement; 3) I needed more freedom of movement, outside of the strict protocols and alignment principles of Iyengar Yoga.

I addressed the first issue by adding Pilates training to my personal fitness regime.  The answer to the second two questions will come in a later blogpost on dancing.  We’ll stick to building core strength in this one.

In the ‘90s, when I started practicing yoga, a common Iyengar cue was ‘soft belly.’ No matter the pose, we were taught not to restrict the breath from moving into our abdomens.  Basically, we were un-training our core muscles. And for someone with my spinal condition (spondylolithesis), this was a cue that may have set up the ultimate failure of my spine in 1997. A few years after surgery, postoperative PT, and continued Iyengar Yoga, I realized I needed a different approach to training my body. My core wasn’t strong enough. And Pilates was the ‘new’ (not really, but new to me) way to strengthen core muscles.

I added Pilates to my weekly movement experiences. The Pilates principles and exercises taught me how to engage and stabilize core muscles as I moved my limbs. I became stronger and more able in everything I did.  A variety of yoga poses became accessible that I could never do before. I had less pain, my sciatica disappeared, and my neuropathy lessened.  Pilates is fairly simply in theory, build strength close to center of the body, in the center of the torso and particularly in the region without bony support between the pelvis and rib cage. When the core is strong, then the limbs can move freely. The core is challenged to hold stability while movement of the limbs provides the challenge to that stability.  Effectively, the limbs become the free weight to train the core. To use a construction analogy, far from perfect but a decent visual, to stabilize a cantilever you need a strong and stable support, like the foundation to which a diving board is attached.  If you build strength in the limbs without building the stable core, failure is inevitable, the diving board will fail if its foundation isn’t true. Pilates exercises and cues give you access to that strong stable support from which to move your limbs safely. 

Done well, Pilates exercises eccentrically train the muscles of the torso. While the cues often sound like classic situps or crunches, the contraction phase of the movement is not the hard part. For example, a Pilates double leg lift starts out looking like a crunch: lie on your back, extend your legs toward the ceiling, place your hands behind your head and curl your head and shoulders off the floor.  The first challenge of this exercise is to hold the abdominal and pelvic floors muscles strongly and force the breath into the lateral rib cage.  The engagement of the deep torso muscles then allows you to hold your spine stable as you begin to lower the legs toward the floor.  The lowering of the legs necessarily lengthens the abdominal muscles, thus requiring a strong eccentric contraction to prevent the spine from extending and the breath from moving into the belly. Often, particularly with newcomers, the motion of the legs will be quite small if the attention to the core stability is honored.  One thing about Pilates, it’s easy to cheat and to do the exercises wrong.  To build eccentric core strength requires the attention to detail that Pilates was famous for.

While Pilates honed some brilliant exercises and principles, clearly drawing from yoga, gymnastics and calisthenics, he was also a bit of a brute and disciplinarian. I do not teach or practice the way Joseph did anymore than I teach the way BKS Iyengar did. I adapt Pilates with the mindset of modern yoga best practices: use somatic cues to develop inner awareness, include anatomical education, both western and eastern, offer balanced spinal flexion and spinal extension, add rotational and range of motion movements, and best of all, never skip on savasana.

Overtime, my classes have become a mash-up of yoga, Pilates, resistance stretching, trauma releasing exercises and somatic awareness. I still call the classes I teach yoga, because I bring what I believe to be a yoga world view of integration and wholeness to the approach. I doubt my students know where one modality begins and another ends. But as Yogis and Yoga teachers, I think it is incredibly important for us to look at what is missing from our yoga practices and to supplement and fill in the physical gaps for ourselves and for our students. 

Register HERE for Pilates of Yogi's

6:35 pm

Firecider, oh my!

 by Lisa Wells
Ayurvedic medicine is all about balance. Taste and sensation are medicine in this somatic system of well being: to fight off the viruses that proliferate in the stagnant cold wet-dry of winter we are advised to add heat, bitter and astringent flavors to our diets. Firecider, although not a traditional ayurvedic medicine, fills the bill.  Firecider is an immune system booster, a deterrent to viruses and bad bacteria, a source of good gut bacteria, with a bonus of the apple cider vinegar base being an standard traditional remedy for arthritis and the pains of aging.

We’ve purchased Firecider ( from Shire City Herbals in Pittsfield, MA. You can read about the recipe here ( I was introduced to Firecider at Standing Rock. Shire City donated enough Firecider to camp to keep everyone healthy through the winter. So, each day, people would come by the Med yurts and pour themselves a shot glass of firecider to ward off ill health. I’ve been drinking it daily ever since my journey to Standing Rock, and in spite of the broken arm, have never felt in better health.

Finally, you’ll get to learn what it feels like to be a fire-breathing dragon. We all need a bit of fire-breathing dragon in our minds and bodies these days. Be prepared for a bit of a shock to the system when you try Firecider. It will warm your belly and your mind.  You’ll feel it dousing out any bad bugs hiding in your body. And, you’ll be prepared to fight any battle on your horizon.

5:39 pm

She Restores My Soul

by Angela Grace

She restores my soul. She restores my soul (reference to Psalm 23:3). This refrain resounds through my being as I walk through the forest these days, and I luxuriate in the vibration. This is the face of the teacher I love. Nuturing. Healing. Consoling. Beckoning. Inspiring.

There is another face of the teacher. Challenging. Harsh. Confrontational. Calling us out on our stuff. This is the face of Krishna presented in the Bhagavad Gita as he enjoins Arjuna to get up off the floor of his chariot and fight the battle that is before him.

On the eve of the defining battle of his lifetime, Arjuna lies despondent; his bow and arrows cast aside. He has surveyed the battlefield and found not nameless strangers, but rather his family members, his teachers, and people he has known his whole life ready for combat against him. They have chosen to fight for a ruler representing injustice, oppression, prejudice, and greed. Arjuna is overwhelmed with grief and tries to rationalize his way out of the fight. Krishna will have none of it for the opposing forces must not be allowed sway, and inaction is an illusion.

The Bhagavad Gita is one of the most relevant texts for us to read and understand in the West right now.

Standing Rock. Political divide. Black Lives Matter. Racism. Implicit bias. Misogyny. Prejudice. Fear. I admit to spending time recently, as Arjuna did, on the floor, unable to speak, unable to move for the despair I felt. Yet just like many of you, I feel Krishna surge in my belly, exhorting me to action. It is well past time to stand. It is well past time to shout. The defining battle is at hand. What action will you take? I repeat; inaction is illusion.

The gift of this time of unrest is an opportunity to address elements of our culture, elements of our own psychology, which we would rather press into shadow. It is an uncomfortable opportunity, but an opportunity nonetheless. How do we act wisely?

The Bhagavad Gita still offers her insight.

Deep Dive into the Bhagavad Gita Register HERE
January 6,7,8; January 20,21,22; February 3, 4,5; February 17,18,19 Times: Fri. 6:30-9:30; Sat. 12-4; Sun. 2-5

Price $599 before December 13, 2016; $799 after
40 hours of Yoga Alliance Continuing Education Credits

4:55 pm

“I really like hands-on adjustments”

 by Lisa Wells
Last Tuesday, I had a new student in class.  I asked, as I always do, “Is there anything you’d like me to know about your body?”  I’ve honed this phrase over the years to acknowledge my desire to help students while not sounding like a medical practitioner.  This student told me about a few physical issues, and then said “I really like hands-on adjustments.  And please tell me when my alignment is off.” 

I had to tell the student that I rarely make hands-on adjustments when teaching group yoga classes.  I don’t often correct alignment unless it is clear to me that I can bring more comfort and ease, sukha, to a pose. The truth is, the more I’ve learned the less I know about what any yoga pose should ‘look like.’  Given the wide variety of the human form, the wide variety of injuries, the wide variety of arthritis and auto-immune disorders, PTSD and other ailments that clients bring to class with them, it feels hazardous to impose a form on a body if I can’t be in dialog with the person that I am working with.  I want the student to articulate what any adjustment feels like. I need the student to feel comfortable saying ‘stop’ if I am pushing them into a range of motion that feels painful or injurious. That kind of dialog is possible only in one-on-one or small group settings.  

In private sessions with clients, I do all kinds of hands-on adjustments. I use a variety of hands-on techniques, from my therapeutic yoga training to Ki-Hara Resistance Stretches or the Trauma Releasing Exercises to help my students be more comfortable in their bodies. And, they can tell me how they feel as we work together. We reduce the risk of injury with dialog.  We find new ease and a reduction of pain through exploring movement together. It’s a very exciting process.   And it is a very intimate process.  

I am more interested in what a pose or movement feels like than what it looks like. If we choose to follow Patanjali’s teachings, one of the primary tools of yoga is dharana, focused attention.  Dharana is one of my primary teaching goals: focused attention on the body and the breath.  The pose may or may not look like a pose in a book, my classes are likely to include all kinds of movements or shapes that don’t look anything like what we’ve come to know as the traditional postures. And, I invite my students to pay attention as they move in and through poses. I invite students to notice how the poses feel in their bodies and to adjust the pose based on sensation and awareness.

I imagine the yoga poses were originally discovered by a similar curiosity.  Yogis exploring motion and awareness. Yogis exploring how to move energy and emotion in their bodies to ultimately find mental focus and stillness.   The ancient yogis were not particularly interested in a yoga butt or most of our modern yoga goals. There was no instagram or facebook to post selfies or to feed their egos over advanced pose achievement.  Rather, the poses helped them find their way into deeper meditation.  The poses helped them to focus their minds toward the ultimate goal of achieving Samadhi, full meditative absorption in big Self beyond this temporal body.

Returning to my point, I cannot keep track of the nuances of all the bodies in a group classroom. Maybe other teachers can, but that is beyond my skill set. I cannot engage in real dialog with a single student I’m adjusting when there are 20 other students in the room to tend to. It is also difficult for a student to speak their needs or boundaries around touch when being witnessed by a room full of acquaintances or strangers.   As such, the possibility of my injuring you with an adjustment is just too high.  I’m not willing to take that risk.  

The human form is beautiful.  The human body comes in all shapes, sizes, colors, and with a wide variety of injuries and health issues. There is no particular shape a pose should look like. My hope is that the poses and movements of yoga help you feel alive, reduce your pain, and help you be present in this amazing moment.  Maybe, with enough attention to the details of the pose, we’ll begin to find our way into meditative absorption. We might begin to taste Samadhi.

So, the take-home message here is, if you really like hands-on adjustments, see me for private instruction. We can do some good work together!

5:00 pm

Yoga Inspiration for Difficult Times

By Lisa Wells

One of the oldest meanings of yoga is to yoke, but not to yoke just anything, yoga refers to yoking a wild horse to a chariot. The human mind was observed to behave like a wild horse, liable to start and jump at any whim.  Patanjali, who wrote the yoga sutras some 2000 years ago says that yoga is attained through practice and imperturbability.  In other words the wild horse of the mind can be trained to best benefit if we practice daily, remain steadfast and focused, and do not allow life’s irritations to divert us from our goals. 

In the Bhagavad Gita, a mythologic text contemporary to the Yoga Sutras, Krishna says that yoga is selfless action. Krishna tells Arjuna, the hero of the epic, that he must show up on the battlefield of life and act, do his dharma, his calling, and let go of the fruits of his actions.  In a simple modern colloquialism: “do the footwork and let go of the result.”  Krishna is a god incarnate, Arjuna is a warrior.  Krishna does not tell Arjuna to go into the forest and pray. He does not tell Arjuna to turn the other cheek or wash the feet of his enemies.  He says, and I summarize, “You are a warrior, it is your calling to fight a righteous battle, you must show up and fight the battle before you.  You may not win, but you may not turn away.”  

So what will I do in this time of turmoil?  I will take the lessons of yoga and I will show up for my life.  I will practice meditation and yoga postures and movement.  I will stay strong and healthy so that I may arrive on the battlefield of my life prepared for what is put in front of me.  I will do the footwork and let go of the outcome of my actions.

In daily life, this looks like my mundane daily meditation.  I sit in my garden lean-to every morning rain or shine for 30 minutes to an hour.  Later in the day I will move my body through yoga postures, dance, bike riding, weight lifting.  I will will enjoy the moment of life that I am in. I will support those in need and I will step forward to defend the harassed and abused. I will minimize my participation in consumer culture and I will conserve resources.  I will boycott companies that perpetuate abuse on the planet or other humans.  I will write letters. I will call politicians and business people who have the power to protect both native people and the planet.  

I plan to be leaving to join the Standing Rock Water Protectors within the next couple of weeks.  I am called to show up in support of those standing up on the battlefield of indigenous rights, the rights of the environment and the planet.  I intend to be willing to put my body where my heart is and to show up where I am needed and can make a difference.  If you would like to support Standing Rock and have North Dakota-winter-reliable resources to gift to the Standing Rock Protectors (sub-zero shelter, propane stoves, solar panels, oak or ash firewood, financial donations) please feel free to contact me. Or offer your donations to the Native American Longhouse at OSU or directly to the Water Protectors online.  

Finally, I will keep these words of @sonofbaldwin in the forefront of my mind : “We can disagree and still love each other unless your disagreement is rooted in my oppression and denial of my humanity and right to exist.”  

7:07 pm

Lisa’s dispatches from vacation…

I’m off on the other coast this week. We spent a few days in New York City, saw some shows, ate fine food, & sweat like fools.  Now we’re in upstate New York at the Omega Institute.  It’s deep green here, and like Corvallis, trees grow like weeds.  Chipmunks and cottontails meander in and out of the brush and the bugs don’t bite too much. The food is vegan and it is a bit like Breitenbush, but bigger and without the hot springs. There is an east coast leisure clothing aesthetic that I rarely see at home, a bit more upscale than Breitenbush is, but a good number of hippies none the less.  I do feel more at ease here than in the city, at least some of the women are make-up free. 

While in New York I took a couple of yoga classes from J. Brown.  He coined the term ‘Gentle is the New Advanced.’ I listen to his podcast.  I was really excited to meet him and experience his class in person.

The space is sweet, about the same size as Live Well. It’s in Brooklyn, a short L-train ride from our Airbnb in the Chelsea district.  The neighborhood appears to be working class, with the addition of a juice bar and a yoga studio.

I took two wonderful nuggets from Js class:  First, stop practicing yoga to achieve something.  Culturally, we Americans are strivers.  We push for the pose just out of our bounds.  We push ourselves farther in meditation in the hopes to achieve… enlightenment, stress reduction, an illusive peace?  Js advice is to stop using yoga to achieve anything, and instead to use yoga to be healthy and functional just as we are.  Yoga is a tool to live a healthy good life as the ordinary human beings that we are. 

The second sweet nugget was Js tree pose practice. He said that tree pose wasn’t about improving balance. You don’t need to balance on one leg and reach overhead to have a healthy life.  But you do need to be able to laugh at yourself when you fall or fail.  So, we practice tree pose to practice laughing at our falls.  We practice tree pose to stop taking ourselves so god-dammed seriously.  Try it right now:  Stand on one leg, bring the other foot to rest on your inner shin, knee or thigh, and lose your balance.  Smile, giggle, chuckle as your lifted foot comes to the floor to catch you.  You can fall.  You can fail.  And you can laugh at yourself.  Now that is a useful skill. Thanks J.

1:50 pm

The Mind is Restless

“The mind is restless, unsteady, turbulent, wild, stubborn; truly, it seems to me as hard to master as the wind.” pg. 95, v. 6.34. Read More