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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.”  

1:01 pm

Yoga Sutra 1:1 by Lisa Wells

join the flow of yoga

yoga sutra 1.1
atha yoganusasanam

atha:  now, beginning, in this moment, in this work
yoga: to yoke, to join, to train a wild horse to a chariot
anusanam: a continuing discourse, further teaching, the flow of knowledge

There is a paradox here at the beginning of the sutras.  We are going to begin something that is continuing.  We are going to join the flow of the stream. The discussion has been ongoing, perhaps since the beginning of time or awareness. But each of us has to join in at some point, and now is that moment.  We begin.

What is this flow of knowledge that we will join?  Yoga: the yoking of a wild horse to a chariot. Yoga is the training of the urges of the mind, the wild horse, so it doesn’t run wild pulling us randomly in different directions.  To train is to concentrate the movement of the mind on a goal.  What goal?  We’ll find that out in the following sutras.

So, the yoga sutras begin with the acknowledgement that this technology of mind has been taught before and it is our time to join the stream of that knowledge. And the stream of knowledge will teach us to tame our minds toward a higher goal. More will be revealed.

Tuesdays, from 5:30-6:30 we will meditate and join the flow of knowledge of the yoga sutras.  We'll spend about half of the time meditating, about half of the time discussing the sutras.  And then, if we continue like we did last night, we'll hang around and talk about our personal meditation practices and how meditation benefits our lives. There is a richness, a sweetness, of meditating with others.  Join the flow!

6:01 pm

Why I Meditate (and why you should too) by Katelin Gallagher

Ha, I hate shoulds. Should is indeed shit.  Please excuse the tongue-in-cheek title of this post. Nevertheless, you are most thoroughly invited to join me in some meditation this year.

As many of you know, the start of the meditation immersion (a 10-month, weekend-based program) is nearing and I’m feeling the potency of this time, as it’s a birth of the most meaningful project I’ve ever worked on. I’ve dedicated much of my life to my meditation practice…I travel 3-4 times per year to study with my teachers and extended community, I’m researching contemplative philosophies in graduate school here at OSU, practice is at the center of my day, and I’ve made this work my life’s work.  While these are landmarks of my path, I developed the meditation immersion with something else in mind.  Along with a few of my mentors and friends, I created this program so that deep meditative practice, training and community could be accessible right here at home.

Here is why I meditate. On a good day, meditation helps me to step into a more thoughtful, compassionate, and wise version of myself.  I move through the world with greater clarity, ease, lucidity, and trust in the unknown unfolding of life.  I’m certainly a better teacher when my practice is thorough and steady, and I breathe more, slow down more, savor, offer gratitude, and I have greater sensitivity to the infinite ethical complexities that life brings.  On bad days, the training bestowed by regular meditation practice has helped me to meet the more difficult aspects of life – pain, suffering, loneliness, anxiety, overwhelm, anger, stress, grief – with little bits more presence, grace, and tenderness.  And that, perhaps, is one of my biggest motivators for practice.  Meditation training helps when things suck.  Who couldn’t use a few more pocketfulls of renewable grace, tenderness, and presence?
I personally just don’t buy it when some marketing touts happiness or bliss as an outcome of learning a practice or attending a course or whatever. Struggle, however, is something I know and relate to well. Yet… it is quite curious what happens when I – over time, with earnest practice – hold myself and others in presence and compassion throughout the full spectrum of life experience.  Little by little, meditation practice has sharpened my attentional faculties for, in moments of grace, something more subtle, even blissful.  I’m infinitely grateful to have been trained in a Tibetan Buddhist lineage that supports and educates solitary retreat practice.  This, most especially has offered glimmers, glimpses into the greatest and sweetest curiosities of my life, into largely unseen, or unnoticed realities. Training for deep retreat practice and basking in the natural wisdom that arises for each of us when we become quiet are of the central intentions of this program,

I hope you’ll join us for some or all of the program, if you feel the pull (portions of each module are also open on a drop-in basis).  The program in its full conception, however, is deliciously comprehensive.  It is designed for those who desire a unique, immersive experience supported by a co-hort and for those planning to guide meditation, or who are already teaching yoga.  A fellow yogi told me recently that she was intimidated by the program.  You’re welcome wherever you are at in your practice, we will start together at the very beginning. You can drop-in to our first session and explore the possibilities from there.  If cost is a great concern, we’re happy to extend the early bird pricing until Friday 9/9. Talk to the front desk staff at Live Well for payment plan options. We truly want to help make this in reach for you.

The full immersion schedule & more information can be found here.

The drop-in schedule and registration links can be found here.

Check out other opportunities to learn meditation in town right here.

You can catch free online meditation audios here.

You could also just sit down and breathe deeply and relax for a while, that’s a good start.

Don’t should on yourself. Just practice, the opportunities to do so are infinite and always, always available.

Love, Kate


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.

5:19 pm

Yoga for Runners and Athletes from Spencer Newall

Hey everyone! Hope you're all kicking ass this week :)

Pretty excited to share this with you all. This morning I attended a yoga class designed for runners and athletes. The class is taught by a new friend of mine, Caitlyn Ashton, of Live Well Studios off of Circle Blvd. To be clear, Betsy and I are not endorsed or paid by Live Well Studios. We have gotten to know some of the folks that work there and they are just flat out great people, folks in the wellness community that we can really get behind.

The class: Monday and Wednesdays at 5:45AM. Please check out their site: http://livewellstudio.com/apps/mindbody/classes/407. I'll also send everyone an invite to like her Facebook site.

I understand that practicing yoga may be an uncomfortable experience especially in a group setting. I can assure you that Caitlyn offers a very safe, non-judegemental, atmosphere that is all about making you feel comfortable. I would not recommend checking it out if I did not feel comfortable with Caitlyn and her teaching style.

The benefits, in my opinion:

1). Flexibility! - we could all use a little more flexibility
2). Recovery - For me I can see this as a great way to recover from a hard week of training.
3). Mindfulness/Breathing - Caitlyn does a tremendous job with incorporating a sense of mindfulness and breathing practice into her class.
4). It's a great way to start you day

Please let me know if you have any questions. I am planning to attend next Monday's class. Hope you can join!

Spencer Newell

Spencer's blog - www.spencernewell1032.wordpress.com
Betsy's blog - www.allbetsareoff392.wordpress.com
Instagram - @Novo_Veritas
Facebook - www.facebook.com/novoveritas
SnapChat - spencer1032
Twitter - @spencernewell10

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

2:23 pm

What do you remember about your first yoga class?

How much I hated savasna and how I thought I was hot shit for getting my rump to the floor in half pigeon, but then the teacher came around and gently showed me I was all wrong and, with good alignment, was actually a good ways from the ground. ~ Naomi

I was worried about keeping my bodily functions in check. hee hee. also. it was quiet and challenging. ~ Kate

I don't remember my first yoga class--I started at home. I think the first must have been at a temple in Nairobi, Kenya, and thinking this is not like the book... but feeling grateful to see and connect with another part of the city and its people I wouldn't've otherwise. I thank my grandmother for taking me--it was her book that first got me trying yoga, in Kenya.  ~ Koa

My first yoga class was at a Bikram studio in Denver. I remember sweating like crazy during class then eating an entire Chipotle burrito afterwards! ~ Heather

I remember feeling like I was HOME! ~ Sharon

Forgetting to breathe! :) ~ Mara

The teacher threatened to separate me and my best friend. We were 16 and giggling. It was Bikram. ~ Katie

Being instructed to keep my bum and belly soft.  Ouch for the lumbars!  Oh, how times have changed ~ Susu

My first yoga class was a Chicago Park District community class. I loved how it challenged my brain and body to communicate and work together. And I remember being SO excited to go back for the next class! ~ Olivia

I remember being so tired and blissed out that I had a hard time signing out of the studio! I think I spelt my name wrong. ~ Allissa

I cried during Savasana. I knew this was powerful stuff and I had to learn more. Nine years later I completed by 200 hour RYT. ~ Donna

About 28 years ago my first yoga 'class' was via a book (I still have it) and after going through all the postures i wrote this on one of the pages: "This is hard! Be careful"  Which is probably why i now cue correct alignment like a fiend. ~ Jaromey

I was a sleep-deprived freshman in college, just 18 years old (23 years ago!). I remember falling asleep in savasana and being startled awake when class was over. ~ Jen

I remember the Yoga Room in Berkeley and the fabulous Richard Rosen.  I remember it was hard and that I couldn't stand up from Prasarita Padottanasana.  I remember laughing at myself. ~ Lisa

I was surprised that I had to take my shoes off & kept them close...  Everyone was laying on pillows (bolsters) and I worried that I was showing up for some weird adult nap time. ~ Kristen

Feeling really awkward about wearing spandex in public! ~ Lissy

It was a very dedicated Iyengar class. I was thinking “When are they going to let me move; oh my gosh I have so much to do!” ~Kristina

I fell asleep in savasana and was totally relaxed even though the class was in a gym and weights were clanking. ~ Theresa

4:37 pm



When I die give what’s left of me away
to children and old men that wait to die.
And if you need to cry,
cry for your brother walking the street beside you.
And when you need me, put your arms around anyone
and give them what you need to give me.

I want to leave you something,
something better than words or sounds.
Look for me in the people I’ve known or loved,
and if you cannot give me away,
at least let me live in your eyes and not your mind.

You can love me best by letting hands touch hands,
and by letting go of children that need to be free.
Love doesn’t die, people do.
So, when all that’s left of me is love,
give me away.