Category Archives: Yoga

We practice it. I teach it. We love it in all its forms. Whether we are doing a little karma yoga at the Sivananda Ranch or sharing bhakti yoga in a local kirtan. Bring it on. We love it all. Our life kind of revolves around yoga.

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I’m new here…

“I’m new here”

These words illicit an enormous amount of fear and vulnerability for me.  As a young child we moved often;  as a result, walking through new experiences today takes effort, courage and faith. Let me tell you a quick story giving an example that I am not alone in what I need in these situations!

Recently Michael and I shared the day with a wonderful group at our Matching Pictures Workshop.  During one of the communication exercises a guest shared her experience attending a new yoga studio.  On her arrival she announced to the desk staff, “I’m new here.” The desk staff smiled and continued on with her duties.  She thought she shared that she was needing information, connection, and comfort, yet her perception was the receptionist was not very helpful.  woman on yoga matThe check-in process involved one of the new-fangled touch pads and there weren’t any directional signs for changing rooms or lockers. She announced again, “I have never been here before, how do I sign in?” Rather than explain how to sign in the receptionist walked to the front of the counter and quickly completed the sign in for her. Our friend expressed to us her feeling of embarrassment at this point in the interaction.  She then asked the woman where she should put her stuff during class. The desk staffer waved her arm in the direction of the wall of cubbies. So while this is an extreme example of “losing strategies” it is one worth sharing.  It is indicative of the daily conversations we have, in our heads and out loud with others that do not meet our needs.

The point of the exercise  at our workshop was  to show that we sometimes engage in “losing strategies” when we communicate, we make statements rather than asking for what we need. Our guest was able to relate how she did not get her needs met because she did not make a specific request. Part of Compassionate Communication is learning to identify what we are feeling and needing and making an appropriate request in order to get our needs met.

So here is the cool part. For those not aware I am a yoga teacher as well. I would like to think I am  a gracious and attentive teacher and host, especially in the yoga studio. And as I shared above, when it comes to new experiences I am very sensitive and empathetic to people’s vulnerability in  trying things for the first time. The next morning I was at the Connecticut Yoga Center preparing to teach my Sunday morning class and 3 new people arrived!  It was one of the students very first yoga class ever! The young woman walked up to the counter and said “I have never been here before.” My heart smiled! The example from our guest the day before was so fresh in my mind that I knew exactly what this new yoga student needed! She was making a  statement rather than asking for  what she needed- information, connection and comfort but because of my own practice with Compassionate Communication I was able to identify that.  I went around to the front of the counter and with a smile I explained to her how to sign in, then I took her by the arm, led her to the studio, showed her where everything was, and helped her set up her mat.  The look of relief and peace on her face indicated to me that her needs were met.

Helping the new woman sign in and feel comfortable at the yoga studio was the most important yoga I could have practiced that morning; connecting with another human being through empathy. Yoga means union, we are one, we feel the same feelings, we experience the same fears and joys. Compassionate Communication has taught me to express my needs appropriately so that I have the best opportunity in getting my needs met. It also teaches me to listen with empathy for the needs of others so that I may be of service in times of need.

The Garden of Gethsemane

This is my favorite time of the Ecumenical year.  I love the real, scared and tender Jesus we see and hear in the garden of Gethsemane.  His questioning of “Why me?” is a familiar one to us as humans.  In this season I am reminded of this very personal question.  Not only am I reminded, but I find the gratitude and the humility in the question “Why me?” jesus-in-gethsemane1 Why did God choose this yoga ministry for me?  This is a ministry of helping people keep the temple of their body strong and sacred, and to keep clear and pure the offerings of love and devotion at the altar of our hearts.

As Jesus takes his human-ness, fear and reluctance to God in the Garden of Gethsemane, so too, will we take our journey into our hearts and onto our mats to discover “Why me?” What is our duty in this life? As a Christian am I keeping up with who God created in me? What is our calling?  We all share in this very human moment that Jesus had in the hours before his ultimate offering of love.

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By searching our hearts and bodies through the practice of yoga we find the Lord’s answers coming straight from our hearts. I am so honored to share this with the members of First Church of Christ, Congregational UCC in Middletown, CT.  This is my love offering to the God in you.  Join me in this quiet all levels yoga class to find the edge of God’s purpose for you.

I will be offering this class for six weeks on Sunday evenings beginning February 22 at 6:00pm – 7:30.  All levels are welcome and encouraged.  Wear modest, loose, comfortable clothing and bring a yoga mat and a towel. The class will be 90 minutes of a Classical Hatha Yoga Practice; deep breathing, sun salutations and asana (postures) followed at the end by a deep relaxation practice called Yoga Nidra. Bring a blanket, sweatshirt and warm socks for deep relaxation.

Please go to our Calendar page to find out dates and times.

Living Yoga Retreat

I wanted to post a little reminder about my dear teacher’s Yoga by the Sea retreat coming up on June 28th, 2014 at the Mercy Center in Madison CT.  Divya Jyoti DiFazio has been teaching yoga in Middletown for years, however it is her tireless work with the Atma-Vidya Ashram children’s orphanage that continues to amaze me.  Every year she has many events, but this retreat is the BIG fundraiser for the orphanage.  I taught a couple of years ago at the retreat and it was such a lovely day, but last year I missed it because I was at a teacher training at the Sivananda Ashram. So I am looking forward to attending and teaching this year!

Divya asked me to do the early morning advanced pranayama (breathing/cleansing practice) followed by silent meditation, as well as an Inversion workshop!!! WOOHOO!

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Don’t worry – we won’t be doing the headstands on the rocks in Madison, we will be inside although I couldn’t resist this great picture of Mariah doing a headstand on the rocky shores of Maine.

Divya had no idea that beginning last month I had given myself the personal challenge of practicing my handstand every day.  What a challenge! But is has been fun, and the whole family has been in on it. I can say my handstand is up to about 1.5 seconds…yes, you read that right. A vast improvement over collapsing on myself. So don’t be scared, we won’t all be jumping up into handstands but we will explore some of the more common inversions during this workshop – I will have all sorts of little goodies for you to add to your inversion toolboxes.

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So save the date, June 28th at the Mercy Center in Madison.  You can reach Divya at 860-613-0373 for more registration details.  It does sell out quick, so don’t procrastinate!

Ripe Offerings

After teaching a yoga class last night, I received an offering from a friend (first) and yoga student (second).  Pamela brought me two huge bags of veggies from her garden at home.  This was such a welcome offering!  The tomatoes are perfect, red, juicy and sweet.  The cucumbers are crisp and savory and the yellow wax beans and green beans were picked at perfection.  Which got me to thinking about the offerings I make.

The definition of ripe is “fully developed”.
Are my offerings ripe?
Are my offerings fully developed?
I certainly would not bring a gift to someone of unbaked bread or stale chocolate.  Nor would I bring tiny hard apples, or sour oranges.
I take pride and ownership in the gifts I offer.
When I offer a yoga class I spend hours leading up to it, meditating, doing pranayama, purifying with a shower and neti pot.  I do these things so that I bring my highest Self to the class.  Having grandchildren helps with this practice.  Juliana and Chloe command full attention – a fully present and ripe Meemaw and Papa to play, listen to stories, buy ice cream pops, chase seagulls and toast marshmallows (not eat them, just toast and toast and toast…).
In the same way, with the women I mentor, I give them my undivided attention. My offering is a piece of myself.  It is the Divine in me.  It is Divine in the form of fully developed and ripe tomatoes – Thank you Pam.
Which brings me to another thought – I apologize if this seems like a double soap box day but…
I have noticed my laziness with my verbal or written offerings lately.  When signing off from an email I say “…love you” not “I love you”.  I have noticed it so much that I have been making a conscious effort to take ownership, and fully develop my offerings to others with my words.
“I love yo”, “I think you did a great job.”, “I am grateful for your contribution.”, “I miss your company.”
instead of: love you…thanks…grateful…miss you…
It may seem picayune but it helps me to remain humble by expressing my need for you to know how much I appreciate you and your offerings.
This week I am focusing on ripening my offerings – so I thank you. I am grateful for you.
I need you and your friendship.
Namaste’
Ananda Devi, Jennifer