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Grateful for Yoga

(This Yoga Blog post is written by First Street Yoga’s newest yoga teacher, Julie Ellen.  Julie will be teaching Chair Yoga (and other classes, we hope!) beginning September 9.  Welcome to Mt Vernon and First Street Yoga, Julie!)

Today I had an exchange with a woman at the hardware store in Mount Vernon where I interjected the fact that I would be joining the First Street Yoga community as an instructor this fall. Noting my enthusiasm, I think this young woman was happy for me. But she couldn’t relate – to yoga, that is. She told me she had given yoga a try once or twice, but it just never took. She couldn’t get into it. Isn’t that interesting? For me, yoga stopped me in my tracks from the very first class experience. I had no idea why – because I was as stiff and clumsy as anyone could be. But something about that deep breathing spoke to me. Weeks into my introduction to yoga, I distinctly remember the awareness that I felt better. Not because I had started to feel a little less challenged by Downward Facing Dog (VERY little less challenged!), but better about myself. I recognized that I was less irritable and less judgmental, toward myself and others. I was cultivating kindness as never before.  I remember telling a friend that I liked myself better.

Fast forward 15 years, the Pandemic.  I’ve never been more grateful for the Yoga tradition, teachings, and physicality than this past 18 months. It has been my teacher of what I most need to know and shown me where I can find answers (hint: it’s very close to home).

I hope that young woman gives yoga another try sometime.

(If you are interested in giving yoga a try, take a look at our Classes/Schedule web page.  We hope to see you soon! – CD)

The Kapha Season and the Power of Yoga

I have to admit that the idea of creating and publishing a “Yoga Post” this morning seems absolutely daunting.  What can one say?  The beginning of 2021 feels like an extension of 2020, but with new and expanding challenges.  And, of course, we are right smack in the middle of the kapha season – winter.

In yoga’s sister science of Ayurveda, Kapha season is the time of year when the natural world withdraws and rests.  Here in the Midwest, Kapha season extends from the frozen days of winter to early spring when the snow melts.  Depending on our own tendencies, Kapha season may provide us with a welcome respite from over activity or conversely leave us feeling weighed down and stuck.  

How does all of this fit in with the power of yoga?  While yoga is wonderful exercise for strengthening and for flexibility, it also holds subtle power as our own personal “energy management system.”  We very literally can design our yoga practice to lift our energy when we are feeling lethargic or to calm us down when life becomes a bit too frenetic. 

Of course, as yoga teachers its our job to design a yoga class that supports you where ever you are today and leaves you feeling balanced with your stores of energy renewed.  If you haven’t had time for yoga yet in 2021, check out our schedule of classes and join Jen, Ann, or myself as your schedule allows.  If you have a “class card” don’t forget that there is NO expiration date.  If you don’t have a card, no worries – come anyway – your first class is free!

Namast, Carol

 

Gratitude Practice

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow” Melody Beattie

With Thanksgiving 2020 around the corner, we find ourselves caught in a time that is out of synch with what we expect it to be.  It is hard not to wish for something different.  It is hard not to ask “when will this end.”  It’s hard to be in this moment and to be expected to be grateful. 

As I was searching for quotes about gratitude this one pulled at my heart…”Gratitude…turns what we have into enough, and more.  It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity.”  But, what exactly is gratitude and why is it so powerful?  Gratitude by definition is a feeling that emerges from our experience of something positive.  Things as simple as an unexpectedly warm fall day, a beautiful sunset, or the kindness of another move us toward the subtle and sweet feeling of gratitude. 

It can be hard to feel grateful during difficult times.  Yet, in the words of Buddhist Jack Kornfield, “Life keeps recreating itself and presenting us with miracles every day.”  Everyday miracles like being able to see and talk to my daughter who is literally 1,000 miles away – even if it is just on Zoom!   

I hope that this Thanksgiving brings you comfort and peace and a toast to all that makes you grateful.

Namaste, Carol

PS – Our 10 am Thursday Zoom Hatha Yoga class is on for Thanksgiving day!  Please email me at carolt.daly@gmail.com or firststreetyoga.com if you’d like me to send you the Zoom Meeting link. 

First Street Yoga Class Options

Every day in the time of Covid is a little bit different, and every day we reassess our personal and community response to the pandemic.  As the days have gone on we’ve learned more about how the virus spreads, and that knowledge is helping us make informed choices about everything from grocery shopping to work and return to school.

Here at First Street Yoga we continue to adapt.  Part of adapting means offering the community a variety of safe options for yoga so that you can be the one to choose which option works best for you.  Group classes (with Covid precautions) are now being offered in the First Street Community Center building and our yoga class schedule on Zoom is expanding.  Check out the “Classes/Schedule” page to learn more.

While the days may feel busier than ever, setting aside time for self-care has never been more important.  And, as I search “self-care and Covid” yoga comes up multiple times as a recommended self-care practice!  Yoga has been shown to increase physical activity, inspire a healthier diet, improve sleep, reduce stress levels, and increase the brain chemical, GABA, which produces a calming effect.

If you haven’t done yoga for awhile or if you are looking for a way to reconnect with others during a yoga class, please come to class (virtually or in person), email us, or give us a call.  We are here for you!

Yoga in the New Normal

Some things are the same – we all continue to live with the knowns and unknowns of SARS-CoV-2.  But, things are also changing as we reflect on the experience of “lockdown” and try to reimagine the full meaning of the word health. 

For one, I’m incredibly grateful for the results of the lockdown that is estimated to have spared the lives of over 3 million pe0ple in Europe alone.   But, the overall impact of lockdown has also been devastating as people have lost employment and many struggle to keep their homes and put food on the table.  And, the lockdown has brought forward issues that simply can no longer be denied.  Now we look full on at the long standing social, economic, and health disparities that shape the lives of people of color and deny our society the benefits of diversity

How do we go forward?  Perhaps the first thing we need to do is to acknowledge that life on permanent lockdown is not sustainable.  Then what?  While there’s a sense of “your guess is as good as mine” that’s not really true.  The virus is still with us and we don’t yet have a vaccine.  But we can stick to what we know – wearing masks, keeping physical distance from one another, and washing our hands.  Then, we can make a choice to emerge to whatever degree works for us.

Like so many businesses, First Street Yoga is committed to providing a range of options from “no contact yoga” (aka Virtual Yoga) to “limited contact yoga” (aka yoga in Studio A).  Please check out our website “Classes/Schedule” page to learn more about how we are working hard to keep yoga a part of the life of our community.

Wishing you all well!  Namaste, Carol

FIRST STREET YOGA – We Are Still Here!

Hi Everyone,

This is Carol Daly, one of the yoga teachers at First Street Yoga.  I’m writing as I enter the 6th week of social distancing at my house.  This time has been like no other with more ups and downs than I ever expected.  I’ll admit to breaking so many of my own rules for staying centered in times of stress.  Right now, I’m just beginning to find my way back to routine yoga practice.  And, as it usually does, it feels like the practice is creating a subtle shift toward a place where life is more predictable and safer.
 
It is HARD to do yoga at home – especially when we first start.  And, trying to do yoga online can be tricky – both as the student and as the teacher!  I found this article on Yoga International this morning and thought you all might find it helpful.  HOW TO GET THE MOST OUT OF ONLINE YOGA CLASSES.  I’m definitely going to try one of the suggestions in this article – mirroring my phone to my TV! 
 
If you haven’t “attended” one of our First Street Yoga Zoom Classes, but would like to give it a try, please reply to this message so that we can send you the class log on information for a free trial.  Our classes are scheduled on MONDAY from 6 – 7 pm and THURSDAY from 10 – 11 am.  Check out our FIRST STREET YOGA website for more information.
 
Wishing you all health and peace,
Carol