Don’t Make A Resolution—Make A Commitment

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When Does Movement Become Yoga?

One of the (many) things I love about  yoga teacher training is the interesting conversations that come up. We have talked about the difference between movement and yoga.
Is it when you teach a particular set of positions or actions? Is it when you can perform a specific set of poses? Maybe when you’ve mastered the ancient philosophy?
IT’S VERY HARD TO BE PURIST ABOUT YOGA GIVEN THAT IT, LIKE ANYTHING THAT’S IN USE, IS CONSTANTLY CHANGING.
Languages change all the time as people use them. The only ones that don’t are the ‘dead’ ones like Latin. Bodies change all the time as we use them too – it’s called adaptive change.
YOGA IS NO DIFFERENT?
Yoga has, in being, a rather twisted history (pun intended) and what we call yoga these days bears a great resemblance to what people called street contortionism a hundred years ago.
And a WHOLE bunch of poses that are in standard rotation now didn’t exist, to the best of my knowledge, when I started practicing yoga. Because it’s constantly changing. Knowing this broadens the scope somewhat for what could be called yoga.
HERE’S MY  TAKE
Is it the mindful movement? Is there breath awareness?
YES? THEN IT’S YOGA.
So running can be yoga, as can walking, as can movement and bio-mechanical explorations. Surfing. Cycling. Of course, when people come to a yoga class they aren’t expecting to go for a run, but rather to do stretchy things and breathe, but that doesn’t stop you from enjoying your run in a yoga-like way. The calm in the brain that keeps me coming back to my practice.
I have been known, quite regularly, to teach entire classes without ever teaching a ‘classical’ yoga pose. Guess I’m part of the living tradition then…

 

All I Want for Christmas is a Stress-free Yoga Class!

Dear Santa,

For Christmas, I’d like to take yoga classes I can zone out into my own peaceful state and not be compared to my fellow students. I want classes I take and teach to be filled with people of all sizes, those new to yoga and those who have practiced for years.

I want those yogis to be flexible and inflexible. I want Joe and Jane Doe to come in off the street because yoga is just as much for them as it is for me and you…

I want them to wear clothing from the Dollar Store instead of sporting matching water bottle, mat, hair band, top, and bottom sets from the various stores. I want to feel like yoga is truly for everyone, and not just for model-esque, elitist snobs who fill studios because they don’t have to work and because yoga is the cool thing to do…

In short: I want the true heart of yoga to shine so bright it feels like a sun-kissed summer day permanently lodged deep in the soul. Could you do that for me, or us, old guy. Could you? Hit me baby, just one time?

Unanimous 

Fall is the season of transformation!

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We can see this all around us in nature: the leaves are falling, the air is changing and we are harvesting an entirely new crop of fruits and vegetables.

It is important that we change with the seasons — just as nature does — by adapting our daily habits,food choices and yoga practice…Ironically, it is only through change that was can stay grounded during this shifting season.

Emotional Maturity

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In today’s world, we are always in motion, always exposed to the noise of information, to visual congestion, and to the media. Our instinct is to shut down and hide maybe even run away. It takes an enormous amount of “emotional maturity” to keep our options open rather than to submit to our instinct to flight or fight nature. Therefore, we never have time to be with ourselves or to relate to others and make excuses as I am too busy (overused words) which layered with cynical and egotistical attachments. Over-scheduled? Scared of downtime? Afraid of silence? Is busy-ness a choice? Is this why you are suffering? Sure, there are projects, appointments and plenty days with a full schedule, but how to approach those moments is entirely up to you. Begin with taking responsibility to stop what is stimulating the pain.
Yoga teaches us to slow down, to let go of the busyness, to rediscover how to feel, to tune into the body, to observe, to live mindfully and to silence to reconnect with our thoughts.
Have compassion for yourself and stop missing out on “your amazing life”!

Events

Yoga and Wine by the Lake

Hosted by Jeff Hunt and Connie Pease

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Relax your mind, body, and soul, as you listen to the calming waves of Decatur Lake. This one hour; instructed; yoga class, is perfect for beginners or experienced alike, as you overlook the surreal and peaceful waters. As you end your class feeling rejuvenated and empowered, enjoy a glass of wine and light appetizers with friends while you reflect on your day and week.
Email or Call for more information or to register: conniepease@hotmail.com or 217-620-3306
25 spaces available and sign up and pre payment required to hold your spot- no exceptions
Fee $20.00
All proceeds go to Feed the Hungry
Included:
1 hour instructed yoga class, outside on decks, overlooking Decatur Lake (Please bring your own mat- there will be some provided)
Hosted by Yoga at Connie’s and Jeff Hunt

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Decatur Library “FREE YOGA” Classes

BYOYM (Bring your own yoga mat and block) and come learn how yoga can enrich your life!

All Levels Yoga

Check Connie Pease’s Facebook page for Instructors Dates.

Class Time: Noon until 1 pm
Location: Madden Auditorium
130 N Franklin St, Decatur, IL 62523
Instructors- Kathleen Owen, Sue Weinstein and Connie Pease

Online Classes

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Yoga Ease
The studio will be offering online classes for downloading starting in July. We will be creating new sequences, offering workshops,guided meditation and private lessons. You can enjoy a free 30 minute yoga video podcast or download for 99 cents. More Details Soon

Pictures of the Kirtan Event

 

We experienced the heartbeat of kirtan and devotional singing with Johanna Beekman and friends. Johanna’s unforgettable songs  opened our  hearts and inspired us on this yoga journey. I am so thankful to Olivia for asking me if I would be interested  in bringing Johanna here to the the Midwest.  Johanna Beekman Music is on a national tour, so check her schedule out at –  www.johannasings.com

 

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Your First Yoga Lesson: It’s Not What You Think and You Can Do It Right Now

In my ten years of learning and teaching yoga, I’ve witnessed incredible growths in myself and people around me. It’s been a gateway I encourage all to enter and find more depth and companionship to themselves.

Yoga postures and shapes provide a physical shape suspended in time for you to witness what you think, feel, and focus on. Consider the positions, or asanas(traditionally called in the Sanskrit language) different shapes of meditation, each with the added benefit of releasing rigidity and creating space for a more brilliant body to escort your mind for the rest of your life.

 

Maggie Yogi Mascot

 

Our sweet baby Maggie died peacefully today at 8:30 am.We told her how much we loved her and then she closed her eyes. We wanted to share my favorite picture of her – loved that special smile.  For 11 years, Maggie greeted many yogi’s at the Barn. She will be sadly missed.

 

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Shelter Cats in the Yoga Studio? (No, We’re Not Kitten You!) BY Kathryn Ashworth ON July 15, 2015

 

Would you invite shelter cats into your yoga class to practice alongside your students? That’s just what teacher Connie Pease did at her Illinois yoga studio, Yoga at Connie’s. The event, which was in partnership with no-kill Homeward Bound Pet Shelter (HBPS), was organized this June in an attempt to promote Adopt-a-Cat Month—as well as get cats out of the HBPS shelter and into the environments of potential adoptees (in this case, a yoga studio). “It gives these cats exposure and shows their personality. I think people can envision these pets in their home easier because they’re outside the shelter,” HBPS recently told The DoDo. Since pet yoga is on the rise (DoGa being one example, along with the multitude of videos featuring yogis and their pets that have gone viral), a move like this doesn’t seem like such a bad idea either.

“It gives these cats exposure and shows their personality. I think people can envision these pets in their home easier because they’re outside the shelter,” HBPS recently told The DoDo.

Personally, walking into a room full of cats would be a dream come true for me. Yoga or no yoga, my motto is “more cats, please!” Taking care of myself (thanks, yoga) combined with the additional bonus of helping others (like these little fuzzballs) sounds even better. Naturally, I was curious to know more.

Check out the conversation I had with this innovative studio owner, which features highlights from the event itself, why Pease thinks cats are natural “yogi-masters,” tips for yogis who’d like to get involved, and so much more.

How’d you come up with the amazing idea to welcome shelter cats into your studio?
Actually the idea came from one of my yoga students, Jeanette. She volunteers at the HBPS and after a Thursday night class, she approached me about it and coordinated the event with the shelter. Since this was Adopt-a-Cat Month, I thought it would be a great way to give back to the community and have some interaction with my favorite animals (which happen to be cats!). We only had one week to prepare. The studio was responsible for organizing the students, contacting the local newspaper (Herald Review), and gathering donations—as well as organizing a social hour afterward where we could talk about the experience. Jeanette was responsible for the kitties, social media, taking photos, and video. And we got some great footage!

I didn’t even know Adopt-a-Cat Month was a thing, so I’ve certainly learned a lot! What outcome did the event have?
My students came together and raised $500 for HBPS. However, unfortunately, there were no adoptions (even though that’s one of the biggest reasons we held the event). But I feel encouraged to host again, and I’ve also been contacted by other yoga studios who heard about the event and are now interested in hosting one like it! In that respect, it was a huge success!

It would be great to see more studios host shelter cats! What advice would you offer them to get started?
Contact your local pet shelter and see if they’d be open to it. Next step? Get the word out. I contacted students with a personal invitation (but only the students I knew loved cats) and advertised on social media. The volunteers from Homeward Bound Pet Shelter were also there, in studio, and that gave the event a lot of credibility. And remember, this is not only a great way to help animals, but also an opportunity to give back to the community. People are generally looking for ways to share their kindness and this gives them a really fun and creative way to help others (and, in this case, cats!).

How many cats were involved? How did they react? Also, what response did your students have after the class was over?
We had six cats in the studio. Three of them were very active in the practice and the others just watched. Breezy, a black and white female, had a bubbly personality and she was definitely the star. She interacted with just about everyone. She’d walk by asking to be pet and she’d lay on the mat, under their downdogs, relaxed and happy. She brought so much life to the practice. Everyone loved interacting with the cats, too. We stopped often during the practice to hold our new furry friends. It felt really natural having them in the studio. Cats are natural yogi-masters!

Breezy, a black and white female, had a bubbly personality and she was definitely the star.

So true. I’ve had the same feeling, and particularly because I also have a cat-friend who loves to “practice” yoga with me. Whenever I unroll my mat, he suddenly appears. (Though most of the time he just sits, watches, and sometimes falls asleep.) What’s your take on their yogi-powers?
For one, they’re always stretching! They stretch their torsos, extend their legs, pull their upper bodies up, or twist their bodies to achieve a level of precision that many people like us can’t. And their purr!? Cats do diaphragmatic breathing without even thinking about it, and they do it so well. They’re also so mindful and focused. They’re practically always concentrating on something or other and holding it deeply within their awareness. They’re always glancing out the window at a bird or a flower. They seem to be able to hear and see every little sight, every little sound. Really, I think we could learn a lot from them about presence and nonattachment. Cat’s don’t need our approval; they’re just themselves. They just are.

And what about your purr-sonal practice? Do you have animal friends at home you yoga with?
Yes! I have Maggie (my dog) and Midnight (my cat), and when I am out on the deck, we all practice yoga together. (Both were featured in our Adopt-a-Cat promo video, in fact.) It’s a nice way to bond. Maggie lays next to the mat, waiting for a hug, and Midnight is on the mat, always jumping on me, walking down my back, and kissing me while I’m in cobra pose. Ever since the event, I’ve thought about how sweet our shelter cats were. If I could have brought each and every one of them home with me, I would have. They’re amazing animals.

ABOUT Kathryn Ashworth Kathryn has a BA in Anthropology and is an assistant producer at Yoga International. She lives in Honesdale, PA.