Spring by Mary Oliver

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a black bear
has just risen from sleep
and is staring

down the mountain.
All night
in the brisk and shallow restlessness
of early spring

I think of her,
her four black fists
flicking the gravel,
her tongue

like a red fire
touching the grass,
the cold water.
There is only one question:

how to love this world.
I think of her
like a black and leafy ledge

to sharpen her claws against
the silence
of the trees.
Whatever else

my life is
with its poems
and its music
and its glass cities,

it is also this dazzling darkness
down the mountain,
breathing and tasting;

all day I think of her—
her white teeth,
her wordlessness,
her perfect love.

New Beginnings

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I am always amazed by the infinite number of ways that yoga offers us new beginnings.  Every time we come to the mat is an opportunity to reset simply by breathing and turning our minds toward sensations of the moment.  We can listen intently to the sounds around us – taking them in rather than pushing them away.  We can turn to the sensation of touch from our clothes or the cool air on our skin and then take in the inner space of our bodies by noticing the sensations of our muscles and our bones.  Starting from that place – a place that is uniquely new and of the present moment – we begin to move.  It’s the beginning of an experience that transports us from the outer world to an inner world that nourishes us and gives us a glimpse of peace.

We hope that you’ll find time to join us for yoga soon.  We have been part of the Mt Vernon / Lisbon community since 2017 and we are excited to begin another year with all of you.  Wishing you a 2023 filled with joy, love, and peace. – Carol

Grateful for Yoga

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(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

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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

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“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 [email protected] or firststreetyoga.com if you’d like me to send you the Zoom Meeting link. 

First Street Yoga Class Options

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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!