Samyama’s Mini-sabbatical

The Patanjali mural at Samyama Yoga Center in Palo Alto

The Patanjali mural at Samyama Yoga Center in Palo Alto

Life is filled with small blessings. When word arrived that we were going to take a ten-day ‘mini-sabbatical’ at Samyama Yoga Center I accepted the news but couldn’t help but ask “Why?” It’s unsettling when the schedules we’ve created for ourselves shift. It feels like a violation of our trust. It feels as if everything is out of our control. But it serves as a reminder that all we have is change. The good news about this particular change is that it will be brief and very soon order will be restored. We should remember, however, that sometimes the change we push against turns out to be exactly what we need.

In Yin I talk about creating space. Our little Samyama Sabbatical is doing exactly that. It’s creating space. It’s offering a few days of self-reflection and a shift in perspective. We can take time to consider our personal yoga practice and how we bring it into the world. We can take time to consider what it means to practice yoga. Is yoga only about showing up at the studio for asana class? What would happen if we used the time Samyama’s sabbatical is giving us to volunteer? To offer something of service to our community?

My regularly scheduled classes at Samyama are cancelled from Friday the 13th of February through Sunday the 22nd.

They will resume on Monday the 23rd of February.

I will, however, be teaching my partnered Yin workshop “Giving and Receiving” on

Saturday the 14th of February from 1:00 to 3:00 pm. There are still a few spaces left.


Blue Sky Mornings

CIMG2291I love grey sky mornings. I love blue sky mornings, too, but there’s something about grey mornings – at least during the Bay Area summer – that are especially nice. Wrapping my hands around a mug of coffee feels different on a grey sky morning. It feels comforting and somehow warms me more than it might on those days when the world is shimmering with clear light.

The pace of a grey sky morning is different, too. Life – the same frenetic full life that was bright and busy yesterday – rests easy through dawn and then breathes itself awake. Muted, soft and lazy yet full of hope and holding the promise of a blue sky afternoon.

On some mornings the shift from grey to blue goes by almost unnoticed. On other mornings the sun burns through the thick cloud fast and hot like a torch.

But that’s what change is like, isn’t it? Sometimes it hangs gently around us until we’re ready to notice. And at other times it’s unexpected. It’s speed and ferocity with which it hits is blinding.

The way things change has been on my mind this week. Especially today. We have traveled more than halfway through our journey around the sun and it seems that the first half of this year has been, for me, a constant teaching aboutaccepting change. Not the small moment-by-moment changes that each breath of life brings but the big rock em’ sock em’ changes.

I want to write that some of the changes in my life were exquisite and others filled with grief. But that’s what we do, isn’t it? We love to assign qualities to change: good, bad, sudden, unexpected. But with our need to name change we forget that names offer our mutable circumstances a potency that can direct our emotional state and determine how we look at what simply is and always will be the movement of our lives.

One of my instructors at Niroga Institute, where I’m enrolled in the yoga therapy teacher-training course, spoke of the simplicity of being neutral. Her words have stayed with me.

Change is here. Always. If we don’t notice change in this breath we might in the next or in the breath after that. Change is our one constant. And as it is we may as well sit in the middle of it free of judgment, fear and craving. Neutral. Only in that basic state will we see the purity of change. Only in that basic state will our instincts know if we’re waking a grey sky morning, a blue sky morning or a brand new morning.

 


Whack-a-Doodle Time

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Did you notice? I did. Today was the day I felt things going a bit whack-a-doodle. Not that I mind, of course – ’tis the season, after all. But with the whack-a-doodle season come a few whack-a-doodle schedule changes.

 Here’s what’s happening over the next few weeks:

My classes at California Yoga Center will continue uninterrupted through the end of the year. You can join me on Monday evenings for Yin Yoga from 7:30 to 9:00. I also teach Hatha on Tuesday and Friday mornings from 9:00 to 10:00. Check CYC’s website for more details.

Samyama Yoga Center is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. That means my 7:00 AM classes on November 28th, December 24th and December 31st will not be held. But you are welcome to join me and the rest of the early bird yogis at dawn on every other Tuesday and Thursday! If you prefer to sleep in, I teach a Level I/II Hatha “slow flow” class at Samyama on Saturdays from 4:00 to 5:30. That class will continue uninterrupted through out the holidays as will my Friday afternoon Yin class.

While everyone else is traveling over the river and through the woods, I’ll be subbing at Samyama for those teachers who have family to visit, marathons to run and workshops to attend. Please join me on these days:

Friday 29th November at 4:00 PM for Slow Flow

Sunday 1st December at 10:30 AM for Yin Influenced Flow

Monday 9th December at 7:00 AM for Shakti Reset

Wednesday 11th December at 7:00 AM for Shakti Reset

Thursday 2nd January at 9:30 for Slow Flow

Sunday 5th January at 10:30 for Yin Influenced Flow

(after that I’ll be ready for some subs of my own!)

 

Finally, classes at Avenidas Senior Center are on holiday break. They will resume the week of January 6th. You can register for the winter quarter online by visiting the website or by visiting them in person. I teach Hatha Yoga on Mondays from 1:00 to 2:00 and Chair Yoga on Fridays from 10:30 to 11:30.

 

May we be filled with gratitude for gifts received and find joy in the giving. May our winter be filled with warmth, love and comfort…..and yoga!

 

 

 


Don’t You Just Love that New Car Smell???

CIMG2291Yes, it is a weird title to a blog post about yoga. But I’m celebrating the purchase of a new car. No – not mine. I’ve happily paid off my Honda and intend to drive it into the ground. Let’s just say a friend who’s very closely associated with Samyama Yoga Center recently traded in his rockin’ sports car for…a luxury sedan. OH, but what a luxury sedan. I had the pleasure of being chauffeur driven the 200 yards from Philz to Samyama yesterday. Sweet ride.

Speaking of sweet rides and Samyama – I’ve exciting news! Morning classes are coming back. My summer hiatus was an opportunity to regroup and refuel and I’m making my return to mornings on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7:00 to 8:15 beginning September 24th.

You’ll notice the class is shorter – seventy five minutes is a perfect morning practice. But there’s one other change, too.

Choice.

How we choose to carry ourselves from Point A to Point B is never the same. Some days we feel like flying down the freeway in our neon detailed leathers strapped around a BMW S1000 and some days we prefer a business suit and the coolly appointed comfort of a sedan. And so it is with yoga. On some mornings we crave music and vigorous movement. Some mornings it’s all about the silent slow flow.

Sharing the mornings with me will be Amy Rogg. You can get your Vinyasa on with her in the main studio while those of us who enjoy embracing the day with gentle introspection will cocoon ourselves in the practice studio.

Guests joining us in the mornings will have the choice of choosing the practice that best suits their needs on that particular morning.

I look forward to waking up with you!

Class Schedule Updates:

I’m away to the Yoga Therapy Summit in Rapid City, South Dakota this coming weekend and so there will be a few friends stepping in to lead my classes:

Friday 13 September: Lisa will be teaching my 9 AM class at California Yoga Center. Nicole will step in for my 11:30 class at Avenidas and Carla will teach my 1:30 Yin class at Samyama.

Saturday 14 September: Bethany will teach my 4 PM class at Samyama. (I accidentally began a vicious rumour that this afternoon class was going to be moving to 8:30 AM. I spoke too soon. We decided 4 PM was just perfect. We’re not going anywhere.)

Monday 15 September: The 1 PM class at Avenidas will be taught by Carla. My 7:30 Yin class at California Yoga Center will be cancelled this evening. We’ll resume again on the 23rd.

Visit my page to view my full class schedule.


Introducing Samyama Yoga Center’s Body Therapists

Samyama Yoga Center‘s home is a sleek modern building at 2995 Middlefield Road. From the outside, its strong lines and clean façade anchor the building to the earth while creating a sense of weightlessness. Once inside, the clarity of the light in the downstairs retail area welcomes and warms the heart of every guest. Upstairs, in the main practice studio, the diffused light is filtered through tall, translucent windows made to appear like Shoji screens. Shadows from the outside architecture draw soft grey lines across the glass and continue the effect. The white walls are a surprise but they are not harsh. Rather, they blur the edges of space to the point that the yogi feels as if she is floating. The room’s name, Ascension, is apt. Time, space and perspective seem different in that studio. And, over the months since we’ve first opened our doors, the room has become infused with Patanjali‘s energy and spirit.

sam roomWhen John Berg’s vision of Samyama became a reality, however, it included more than one opportunity to blur space and time. Downstairs, just around the corner from the lounge, there is a warm and inviting therapy room. Perfectly appointed for the comfort of the client, this soulful space is home to two of the Bay Area’s most innovative and gifted body therapists: Devin Begley and Joanne Brohmer:

Devin BegleyDevin

I was born on a sunny day in Santa Cruz California. At a young age I began practicing massage and studied with my fathers therapist so I could continue his healing at home. Growing up I was always encouraged to explore music and creative expression. I auditioned and was accepted into the bachelor of fine arts in acting program at USC. While undergoing rigorous movement, vocal and emotional training, I began to understand the resonant, visceral connection between body and mind. I enrolled at the Institute of Psycho-Sturctural Balancing in Santa Monica, where I adopted multiple modalities and a greater curiosity for vibration and energy. I started studying meditation, yoga, tai chi, sounding and cymatic theory. After moving back to the Bay Area I continued my training at the Accupressure Institute in Berkeley.

What I offer is resonance.

A return to sound via auditory stimulation and felt vibration. You will enter an altered state of awareness using a mixture of breath work, sounding, tibetan bowls, tuning forks and a gong bath. The mind will be entrained to a meditative state where hypnogogic subconscious connection can be made. The body will experience increased awareness, physical and emotional release, movement of energy, nitric oxide production, and sublime relaxation. Like yoga, lines of connection will be made as your natural healing ability is triggered and the mind/body unites with vibration.

This is a unique personal experience and how the session is orchestrated is dependent on the subject.

Image 2Joanne Brohmer

Being perpetually curious about the very core of life. I have always been one to dive deeply into the mystery of things and even once I have found an answer, I ache to go even deeper. Being a seeker of pure connection to source, my own eternal essence and the merging nature of spirit, my love drives me to help others encounter their souls, their inherent connection to nature and the flow of innocence that lives inside them. Using a combination of Reiki, CranioSacral Therapy and guided imagery a healing session can not only be deeply relaxing but a journey where you are an active participant in deeply releasing what you are ready for and creating a greater sense of alignment with your natural state of being.

I took my first Reiki class in Palo Alto 11 years ago and attained my Reiki II and Master certification within the following two years. I found that receiving the attunements alone started me on a rapid healing process and an ever-expanding spiritual journey. I have been a practitioner for 9 years now and have been teaching Reiki for 6 years. Integrated Energy Therapy, CranioSacral Therapy and intuitive reading are also powerful methods that I was led to learn and further help people to dig deep into their healing process and experience their full being and all the things that get in the way of experiencing to the fullest. I traveled to India in December of 2006 where I became a certified yoga teacher. I have studied and practiced methods of meditation and visualization techniques for the last 9 years and have found them to be powerful tools along my path. I became a certified Family Constellation Facilitator in August of 2010. I have discovered some of the deepest sources of my own personal wounding through constellations and am excited to be able to offer this chance for healing to others. I am here to wake up, love and help others wake up to their full human potential and move beyond the ego’s limitations.

About the modalities:

Reiki: Reiki is a gentle ancient healing technique that involves light touch and can also be done over distances. Since it heals the source of the condition, healing on many levels can be experienced. Reiki works to remove blocks, balance energies and restore natural patterns so the body may begin to heal itself.

CranioSacral Therapy: CST is a gentle, hands-on method of evaluating and enhancing the craniosacral system – comprised of the membranes and cerebrospinal fluid that surround and protect the brain and spinal cord. Using a soft touch with about the weight of a nickel, practitioners release restrictions in the craniosacral system to improve the functioning of the central nervous system. This method has the possibility of releasing deep traumas that have manifested in the body.

Appointments with Devin and Joanne can be made by ringing Samyama Yoga Center at 650-320-9262.


Subbing Season is Early This Year

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I’m helping out a few friends over the next few weeks by teaching their classes while they:

  1. attend a wedding
  2. take an unexpected business trip
  3. recover from an injury

And so, in addition to my regular studio schedule…

  • Monday Evening Yin at California Yoga Center/Palo Alto from 7:30 to 9:00
  • Tuesday Morning Flow at Samyama from 7:00 to 9:00
  • Tuesday Morning Iyengar at California Yoga Center/Palo Alto from 9:00 to 10:00
  • Thursday Morning Flow at Samyama from 7:00 to 9:00
  • Friday Morning Iyengar at California Yoga Center/Palo Alto from 9:00 to 10:00
  • Friday Afternoon Yin at Samyama from 1:30 to 2:45
  • Saturday Afternoon Flow at Samyama from 4:00 to 5:30

…I’ll also be teaching these classes:

Saturday, June 8:

8:30 – 10:00 AM at Samyama for Bethany

12:30 – 1:30 PM at California Yoga Center/Palo Alto for Candy

Monday, June 10:

7:00 – 8:30 AM at Samyama for Bethany

Wednesday, June 12:

7:00 – 8:30 AM at Samyama for Bethany

11:30 – 1:00 PM at Samyama for Amy

Saturday, June 15:

8:30 – 10:00 AM at Samyama for Bethany

Sunday, June 30:

8:30 – 10:00 AM at Samyama for Clive

Wow! I’m going to be one busy yoga dog! I better stock up on Scooby snacks!

Looking forward to sharing our yoga journey.


Sit. Stand. Breathe. Live.

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Sometimes we forget. We forget we’re not teaching yoga. We are teaching asana. And we forget Patanjali’s teachings: that asana is just one of the eight limbs. Most classes called yoga focus their intention on asana. Pranayama receives a cursory mention. The other six limbs – yama, niyama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana and samadhi – are left dangling in the breeze of our ujjiay breath.

I think that as asana teachers we find ourselves caught in trends. From practicing postures on paddle boards to holding shapes in slings, fitness trends are fine but they are like rainbows. Beautiful, fun and illusory. As fast as one trend disappears another arcs across to fill the sky – or the yoga industry – with light and color.

I’ll be honest. There’s a part of me that would love to be that teacher who enthusiastically embraces every trend and explores its possibility. But you won’t find me practicing asana on a paddle board – even though it looks like fun. And you won’t find me hanging in a sling or holding dhanurasana while balanced on the soles of my partner’s feet.

More than anything I would like to begin a new trend. I want to begin the trend that sees asana teachers coming back home to yoga. I want those of us who call ourselves yoga teachers – including me – to be yoga teachers.

A few nights ago I attended a class. A yoga class. You read that right. Not an asana class. A yoga class.

When I told fellow teachers and friends I was going to John Berg’s Intro to Yoga class on Tuesday night at Samyama they looked at me a bit funny. “Don’t you mean his Vinyasa class?” Nope. I meant what I said. After thirty years of practice and nineteen years of teaching I was a beginner. And, as a beginner, I wanted a beginner’s class.

In ninety minutes we sat, we stood, we practiced vrkasana, we breathed. In between we reviewed the eight limbs. We listened to a brief talk on yama and niyama. We spoke of intention. And forgiveness. I spent that hour and one half in a state of moving meditation, grateful to John and his teaching but equally grateful that I followed my heart through the studio doors of Samyama.

I believe, as teachers and as students, there are times for expansion. Times when focus on heat building asana is the right path. But I also believe that we abandon ourselves when we fail to listen for the quiet times. The times when we need to step back – contract –  and remember that as much as yoga is about the body, it is about so much more.


Teaching Your Truth

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Saturday afternoon proved interesting. I suppose it began with a FB post I read from a well-known local teacher. He was thrilled that his morning class had them hanging from the ceiling. That’s cool. We all love a full class. But as I scrolled through the comments to read what students were saying one comment caught my eye: “great play list.”

My reaction was visceral. My teeth clenched and my eyebrows furrowed.Damn. When did yoga teachers become dj’s?

Over the past few weeks I’ve been feeling overworked and overextended which means I’m also feeling vulnerable. And so such things – like a great playlist being the reason why a yoga class is full – has me doubting myself.

My unwarranted self-doubt nevertheless has an impact. It pokes at my confidence and makes me question how I teach and even why I teach.

Taking a jab at my confidence doesn’t feel so wonderful. But questioning why and how I teach? That’s a good thing. We should always question our teaching. And we should always teach our truth.

I’m not averse to using music in class. In fact, at Samyama, where the sound system is so gorgeous it’s almost a sin to not use music, I play a mix of Tibetan bells, Robert Fripp and Brian Eno. It’s airy but not new-agey and I keep the volume at about the level of sun-dried laundry – not ear bleeding heady perfume.

Our lives are bombarded by sensory stimuli. During my practice, and while I teach, I want to remove the distractions. I want to connect with my body. I want to feel the asana in me. I want to breathe into it, and I want the rhythm of my breath to connect with the expansion and contraction of my body’s tide. I want to breathe with my muscles, my bones, my fascia. I want to feel the course of cerebral spinal fluid from my crown to my root.

I can’t do that if I’m grooving to Roxy Music.

But I doubted all this yesterday. I spent two hours making a play list. And it was a good play list. Maybe even a great one.  Until I accidentally deleted it while attempting to download it to my iPod.

I took that as a sign that the Universe supports my truth. A friend suggested it was a sign I should learn how to use my iPod.  The point is, my truth may not be your truth.  And it may not always be my truth.

But for now it is.

And so, until further notice, my classes will continue to be silent, slow and focused.

And when we leave the studio to plug back into the world, we won’t be talking about play lists. I hope we won’t be talking much at all because we’ll still be taking in the silence and the wonder of feeling our bodies and our breath connected.


The Accidental Vegan

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Remember this post? The one where I proclaimed that my omnivorous ways did not make me a bad person? How times have changed. Turns out I’m a very fickle woman.

Eating meat worked well for me during the winter months. A nice stew of vegetables and grass-fed beef on a cold day warmed my bones and blood. But at the time I was sharing most of my meals with a friend. It was easier to prepare one meal, and even if I’d wanted to I knew I didn’t have the discipline to say “no” to bacon on a Sunday morning. So I was an omnivore. And I loved it. What I noticed, however, was that when I was on my own the foods I craved were foods that hadn’t been born. They didn’t have a face and they didn’t have a mother. They were grown from the earth.

When spring arrived our schedules changed and my friend and I had to say goodbye to the beautiful tradition of breaking bread together. I miss sitting down at a table and sharing a meal. It’s a ritual good for the soul. I miss the conversation and the laughter and I even miss cleaning away the dishes.

But I don’t miss the meat. Or the eggs. Or the dairy…except for the feta cheese I used to add to my kale salad.

I remember attempting a vegan diet about six years ago. I don’t think I lasted two weeks.

But I’m a different person now, and being a vegan wasn’t really something I thought I was moving towards. It just sort of snuck up on me. First I let go of the meat. The eggs came next – that was easy. The goat milk was more difficult because I love it warmed with honey before bed and I love milk in my coffee. But I did it. Last was the feta cheese.

So here I am. My favorite meal these days is a bowl of steamed veg with a spicy tahini sauce. Go figure.

How long will this last? Who knows. That’s the thing. I’m not really putting any pressure on myself to eat any one way or be any one thing.

I have to say, though, that this time it feels different. My first challenge arrived yesterday when the staff and teachers of Samyama had a dim sum celebration with owner John Berg at Ming’s. I passed the challenge. The next big test will be in two weeks when I fly home to Pennsylvania for my mother’s 80th birthday. I don’t know how to break it to her that I really don’t want pork chops fried in butter and mock seafood salad in mayonnaise.

I think sometimes you have to choose your battles. Besides, you just can’t argue with an eighty-year-old woman with a cigar in one hand and a slab of raw pig hanging from a fork in the other. Sigh.

Wish me luck.


Spring, Samyama and Teaching Myself to Read

IMG_0617The start of spring is a wonderful thing. Today in Northern California spring is at its best. Clear and crisp with the scent of climbing jasmine in the air. Pale pink cherry blossoms dust the sky. Simply beautiful.

Spring is about rebirth. New beginnings. Happy anticipation. And my life is full of new beginnings and happy, giddy anticipation.

Samyama Yoga Center will host an Open House on Sunday, April 7th. Classes will begin the following day. Samyama is a very special studio. Everyone affiliated with Samyama feels as though they’re part of a family. My first class at Samyama will be on Tuesday, April 9th. I’ll be the 7:00 AM Hatha class on Tuesday and Thursday, a Yin flow class on Friday’s at 1:30 in the afternoon and another afternoon Hatha class on Saturday’s at 4:00.

This week was spring break at Sofia University. I spent the time teaching myself to read. Seriously. Reading for leisure and reading for comprehension are two different skills. I was deficient in the latter, but a few days of practicing the techniques we were taught back in high school – read, identify key points, summarize – has cleared out a few cobwebs. And that’s a good thing. The course that I’ll be diving into next week, Introduction to Transpersonal Theory, promises to be challenge for me.

So four new yoga classes to teach and a new course to tuck into at school. What more could a woman want at the start of a stunning spring?

I can think of a few things I’ll choose to not divulge…

…and A Woman’s Face.