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1:43 am

The Body As the Path

13939501819528By Kate Gallagher

This month, we're reveling in and contemplating the yogic path as embodiment... as becoming more intimate with our physical selves and our humanity through the practice of yoga. 

I had a yoga teacher that once said: "Your body, just as it is... is the perfect vehicle for your ultimate enlightenment." 

Decades old stories about my body immediately resisted this notion, but my heart felt hit with a lightning bolt of truth.

I don't actually know what ultimate enlightenment is...what it looks like... or feels like, but I do sense that despite my beliefs, despite the love-hate relationship I sometimes have with my body, it's ability to teach me perfectly remains apparent.

Geneen Roth seems to echo this, from a different angle as she writes:

"It's never been true, not anywhere at any time, that the value of a soul, of a human spirit, is dependent on a number on a scale. We are unrepeatable beings of light and space and water who need these physical vehicles to get around. When we start defining ourselves by that which can be measured or weighed, something deep within us rebels."

While my time as a yogi has convinced me of the wisdom in the body, and of the body, at an absolute minimum, perhaps the body asks for, longs for one simple thing: love.  

I think often about the moment of my death.  The moment when my body ceases to sustain life and vitality as I know it.  If there is one thing on my bucket list for when that time comes (hopefully in more than a handful of decades)... it's that I go out with incredible love in my heart, most importantly for myself.  So at least where there is grief, there will also be love.  Undoubtedly, a radiant love of self doesn't stop there. It couldn't.  

My life has been blessed by interactions with rare such humans who have learned this sophisticated lesson of embodiment, of humanity, of love. What my life would be without the power of example?!  Their love for self has impressed me deeply, and it is their radiant reflections of self-love that I carry in my heart and cultivate day by day.  Should we embark, seriously, on this path of the body, I think this could be our legacy... 

4:29 pm

Make Peace. Start Within.

Bumper sticker philosophy is dangerous. When nuanced philosophical thoughts are boiled down to a catch phrase, so much conversation is lost. For example, take the statement I made above. Make Peace. Start Within. Such statements can be used as a rationale for inaction. Or the phrase might connote a docile sensibility when intense action is required. Making peace in your home might require escape from an abusive situation. Social justice will not happen via meditation alone.

However, often a grain of deep truth is represented on the back of your Toyota Prius.

Make Peace. Start Within.

I am reminded of my favorite teaching on the idea of karma. We cannot recognize external events that are not already at play internally. We recognize sarcasm because we have utilized the body language, intonation, and intent behind sarcasm ourselves. We react to intolerance because our bodies remember the stance of being intolerant. We know how to wage war with others because inwardly directed critical thoughts and violent acts are all too familiar. So, yes, for transformational peace to happen in your life, you absolutely must start with yourself.

The reason I am teaching Making Peace with Your Body is because life-altering compassion is possible. Radical acceptance is passionately liberating. The intensely critical inner football coach is wrong. You are an inherently radiant being, and the techniques of yoga will help you remember.

And the bumper sticker is right. "Be the change you want to see in the world," Mahatma Gandhi. Be the peace. Be the light. Start with yourself.

Angela Grace, MS, ERTY500, C-IAYT

Workshop Making Peace with Your Body
Saturdays, Oct 7 - Nov 11, 1-3p, $185
Details and Registration here

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 (firecider.com) from Shire City Herbals in Pittsfield, MA. You can read about the recipe here (firecider.com/pages/our-story). 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.

12:07 pm

January 20th: Yoga on a General Strike Day

By Lisa Wells

On January 20th President Obama becomes former President Obama and President-elect Trump becomes President Trump. Many things are happening to mark the day. As someone who finds the President-elect’s misogynistic and racist rhetoric to be unacceptable in ‘my president and the leader of the free world’ I have a strong desire to join the General Strike that has been called for on Inauguration Day. However, I also feel the need to be at the studio and hold a safe place for others who may feel threatened by the incoming administrations agenda and whose spirits can be held safe with yoga. Having talked with Koa and Mona, the other teachers who are scheduled to teach that day, they have similar feelings to me.  So, we’ve made a plan.

1)   Lisa’s 10am Gentle class in the morning will be free to all comers. If you’re on a class pass, I won’t be charging you. If you bring a friend or two or three, they’ll get in free.  I personally don’t want to generate income to feed the economy that day.  I will also be contributing $5/person who attends my class to the Civil Liberties Defense Center (https://cldc.org). The CLDC is a non-profit legal firm out of Eugene that defends cases where civil liberties and constitutional rights are threatened as well as providing civil liberty trainings for activists of all ages.  The CLDC are the lawyers for the Water Protectors at Standing Rock, ND.

2)   Koa (7am and 5:30pm Flow Yoga) and Mona (12pm Pilates) will be donating the profits from their classes to local and national non-profits that defend civil liberties and stand up for women, the indigent and people of color.

I intend to take the spirit of the strike with me into the world on the 20th as a personal ‘buy nothing day.’  And perhaps you’ll join me at the ‘Inaugurate Eco and Social Justice’ (https://www.facebook.com/events/384709295212168/) event and march which will convene at 3:30pm in Central Park and end with tabling and cider in the Odd Fellows Hall around 5pm. I’d love to see you there!

7:12 pm

What to do when you are injured: RICE vs. MEAT vs TEA

I’m writing this blog post with a broken arm.  Last Wednesday I took a hard fall on the ice.  I was taking out the garbage and getting the mail. I stepped away from the garbage can, took a single step toward the street, and in less than a blink of an eye I was on the ground.  It happened so fast, there was no possibility of catching myself or falling gracefully.  I sat there for a moment and took stock: Can I move my limbs? Yes. Can I stand up? Yes. Can I walk? Yes. I moved slowly out to the mailbox. My wrist hurt, but I could move my fingers. When I got back in the house, I knew that I wasn’t okay. I was shivering uncontrollably. I was nauseous. My vision had narrowed.  I was having difficulty articulating myself. I realized that I had broken my arm. Jay took me to the ER. An x-ray confirmed the break. Luckily, it was a clean break of the left radius (thumb-side forearm bone) and there was no need for surgery. I left the ER with a cast-splint, a prescription for opiates (that’s another blog post) and a referral to an orthopedist. Luckily, the orthopedist swapped the big splint that limited my finger and elbow motion for a forearm cast.  It’s so good to have use of my elbow and finger again.

I was taught how to treat injuries with the acronym RICE: Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation.  The overall lesson was, stay off the injury, reduce the swelling and limit the pain. It seemed to work. But I don’t think most of us ever particularly tried a scientific experiment to compare whether or not this treatment actually improved the rate or quality of healing. However with time, sports scientists have begun to question the RICE treatment protocol.  Asking the question: does avoiding inflammation, our body’s natural response to injury, actually help or limit healing?

After an injury the body floods the injured region with fluid that creates inflammation.  This fluid serves a number of important purposes: 1) it creates a natural splint to prevent you from reinjuring the tissues; 2) it floods the area with your own natural antibiotics and the materials and chemicals needed to heal and rebuild tissue; 3) it presses on nerves, causing pain to stop you from reinjuring the tissues. Recent studies suggest that preventing inflammation at this critical time can inhibit the healing process.  Ice, compression, elevation and NSAIDs are all intended to reduce inflammation and can inhibit the healing process as a result. NSAIDs in particular, while reducing pain, are believed to slow healing. So, what to do?

A number of physical therapists have shifted to the treatment acronym MEAT: Movement, Exercise, Analgesia, Treatment. I understand where these therapists are coming from, but 1) A few of these categories seem redundant and forced; 2) Treatment is rather self-serving, as it is encouragement to see a PT. Sometimes needed, sometimes not; 3) MEAT as a treatment protocol just sounds kinda gross.  So, I came up with my own acronym and treatment protocol: TEA

Time:  rest, give it time, have a cup of tea, take a day off, return to motion slowly as the pain subsides.

Exercise: start with gentle range of motion and isometric contractions of the injured tissues, gradually increase load and range of motion. Work with a professional as needed.

Analgesics: use pain relievers sparingly. Use the lowest dosage and the least invasive analgesic possible:  Arnica, peppermint and/or camphor, ice and/or heat, acupuncture, massage, Tylenol, Ibuprofen.

So, where am I personally on this journey with my broken arm? It’s been less than a week so…

Time: I’ve taken time off.  Because the bone is broken, I’m following the orthopedist’s advice. My forearm is in a cast to insure that I rest it. The bone will need 4 to 6 weeks to knit itself back together. I’m avoiding lifting or pushing with the injured arm. A month feels like a long time but I know it will go by quickly.  So, time feels like the first and foremost treatment protocol I need to pay attention to. Being patient with myself is hard for me. Healing is energy intensive. I’m exhausted at the end of my days even though I don’t feel like I have done much.  I keep reminding myself to give myself Time to heal.

Exercise:  I long to Exercise. Yesterday I went for a short walk. Today I walked a little farther.  It’s a mess of slush out on the byways of Corvallis, so that is a good deterrent from doing too much. At this early stage of healing, I’m carrying the cast around, moving my fingers and elbow, and doing simple isometric contractions of the muscles inside the cast. As I start feeling better, I hope to begin doing adaptations of my usual yoga/pilates/weight lifting/walking routines. As much as it saddens me, I’m going to stay off my bike until the doctor gives me the thumbs up to ride.

Analgesics: Here’s the reality, I don’t want to be in too much pain.  I took ½ of a Norco on the first night to sleep.  I don’t think that was a sufficient dose to do much of anything and I haven’t taken any since. For the first couple of days I took minimal amounts of ibuprofen, just enough to take the edge off the pain. I’ve been taking homeopathic Arnica Montana and Symphytum Officianale. I’m using essential oil of wintergreen, birch, lemongrass, white fir, marjoram, helichrysum and lavender 3 times a day. I’ve scheduled bi-weekly acupuncture at Corvallis Community Acupuncture. And I had a massage yesterday. I’m going heavy on the alternative therapies. Even if they are placebos, if I believe in them they might help. And if they don’t help I know they won’t hurt.

So, the next time you’re injured, have a cuppa TEA and skip the RICE and MEAT.

I’ll be back at the studio on Wednesday, 1/11/16. Hope to slowly work my way back into teaching over the next week while taking my time and not overdoing things.

Originally Posted at yogawells.com


NSAIDs and possible bone healing impairment: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3259713/

NSAID therapy effects on healing of bone, tendon, and the enthesis

Do NSAIDs Impair Healing of Musculoskeletal Injuries?





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

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